Glossary of Terms
Below is a list of terms which are used frequently in Epic Path, or in d20-based role-playing games in general. This is meant as a quick reference guide for players new to Epic Path.
How To Find Things
Epic Path is primarily presented at the website 'epicpath.org'. The game rules are written as a wiki, which requires permission to edit. This means that there are several EXTREMELY powerful ways to find rules, especially compared to the 'good old days' of playing based upon a stack of hard-bound books with colorful pictures on the front, all filled with nigh-incomprehensible tiny text and crudely energetic lineart.
At the upper right corner of every wiki page, there is a small search bar. You can type in any word or phrase you want here, and the software instantly searches all of the thousands of pages of the game rules, generally as fast as you can type. (Miraculous!) The software tries to present you with exact matches in page titles, and if it finds one, will auto-complete and take you to that specific page.
Notice, however, that there is a 'generic search' option presented at the bottom of the list of auto-complete terms. We STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you use the generic search option at the bottom of the drop-down list if you are having trouble finding things.
If you want to search for a phrase, rather than a single word, put the phrase into the search bar using double quotes on both ends, so the software doesn't give you individual options for every single word in the phrase.
Even better than that, once you are on the page of rules you are interested in, most web browsers have a 'search in page' function. This is often accessed by typing the command string 'Ctrl-F' while you have clicked into the page. "Ctrl-F" means that you press and hold the 'Control' key (Ctrl) on your keyboard, then press and release the 'f' letter key. In most browsers this causes a second search bar to pop open in which you can search for letters and words and phrases in the text of that exact page. If you are on your phone, most browsers have some search function like this, we invite you to consult your exact situation to work out how to access these tools.
We find that most things can be quickly and easily located using these two methods.
We also present this glossary page, to serve as a 'catch-all' for odd bits of rules, and to serve as a short-cut for people exploring these rules. Have fun!
- AKA: Five foot step
- During any round in which you have not moved with a move action, you can perform a 5-foot step as a free action. 5-foot steps never provoke attacks of opportunity. You can only perform a 5-foot step into normal terrain (not difficult terrain), and into a space that is unblocked and unoccupied.
- In addition, if you perform a full attack action, you can trade away attacks, beginning with your lowest to-hit attack, and progressing up to your best to-hit attack, to perform a 5-foot step instead. Note that many Combat Maneuvers can also be performed by trading away an attack, so it can be beneficial to choose how you spend your attacks, either to perform attacks, attempt a combat maneuver, or take a 5-foot step.
- AKA: Strength damage, Dexterity damage, Constitution damage, Intelligence damage, Wisdom damage, Charisma damage
- A moderate status condition that targets one of your ability scores, inflicting a scaling penalty (depending on which ability score it targets). The maximum ability damage you can suffer to any one ability score is equal to your ability score - 1 (e.g. if you have a 12 Wisdom, you can never take more than 11 points of Wisdom damage). Ability damage does not actually reduce your ability scores at all; there is no need to recalculate your character's numbers. Unless otherwise healed, ability damage will heal at a rate of 1 point (per ability score affected) per full night's rest (or 2 points per full day of complete rest).
- AKA: Strength drain, Dexterity drain, Constitution drain, Intelligence drain, Wisdom drain, Charisma drain
- A strong status condition that targets one of your ability scores, inflicting a scaling penalty (depending on which ability score it targets). The maximum ability drain you can suffer to any one ability score is equal to your ability score - 1 (e.g. if you have a 12 Wisdom, you can never take more than 11 points of Wisdom drain). Ability drain does not actually reduce your ability scores at all; there is no need to recalculate your character's numbers. Unlike ability damage, ability drain will never heal on its own; it must be cured with magical healing.
- AKA: Stat, Attribute
- One of the six primary statistics defining a character's general attributes. These are Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Constitution (CON), Intelligence (INT), Wisdom (WIS) and Charisma (CHA). Some campaigns feature one or more additional ability scores, though these are campaign specific. See also Ability Scores, Character Creation.
- AKA: Stat Mod, Mod
- The modifier produced by the ability score. This is calculated as (ability score - 10)/2 (round down). Thus, a score of 12 has a modifier of +1, while a score of 14 has a modifier of +2.
Activate Magic Item
- Many Magic Items don't need to be activated. Certain magic items, however, do need to be activated, especially potions, scrolls, wands, rods, and staves. Unless otherwise noted, activating a magic item is a standard action.
Spell Completion Items
- Activating a spell completion item is the equivalent of casting a spell. It requires concentration and provokes attacks of opportunity. You lose the spell if your concentration is broken, and you can attempt to activate the item while on the defensive, as with casting a spell.
Spell Trigger, Command Word, or Use-Activated Items
- Activating any of these kinds of items is a standard action, unless the item description says otherwise. Spell trigger items are those which are activated exactly as if they are spells, ie, they provoke, require speaking aloud, gestures, and usually a focus or component. Command Word items require the user to speak aloud, which breaks Stealth, but they do not provoke (unless the item says they do). Use-Activated items are exactly that, items activated by using them. Magic weapons and armor, potions, etc, are all use-activated items.
Adjusted Dexterity Modifier
- Your adjusted dexterity modifier is the amount of your dexterity modifier you apply to your armor class, after adjusting it for any penalties inflicted by wearing armor or a shield. This value is equal to your Dexterity modifier minus any Dex Penalty to AC caused by either your armor and/or your shield. That is, if you have a Dexterity modifier of +5 (by having a 20 Dexterity score), but your armor has a Dex Penalty to AC of -2, your adjusted dexterity modifier is 3 (not 5). If you are wearing armor and a shield that both inflict a Dex Penalty to AC, both of these values are subtracted from your Dexterity Modifier to calculate your Adjusted Dexterity Modifier. Note that a Dex Modifier to AC from armor (and/or a shield) can never reduce your Dexterity modifier below a 0 for purposes of modifying your Armor Class. That is, if you have a Dexterity modifier of 1 (from having a 12 Dexterity score), but wear heavy armor that inflicts a -3 Dex Penalty to AC, your Adjusted Dexterity Modifier is 0 (not -2).
- Adjusted dexterity modifier is only used for Armor Class calculations. It does not apply to your dexterity modifier for any other calculations, such as maneuver defense, skill checks, Reflex saving throws, etc.
- A member of your party, including yourself (unless specifically excluded), or a friendly NPC that is assisting you in a battle. Bystander NPC's who are not hostile, but are also not actively helping, are not considered allies.
- AKA: Ambush Roll, Surprise, Surprise Roll, Surprise Round, 'UH OH!'
- An Ambush is when one side of a Combat gets the drop on the other side. When the GM adjudicates that there is a chance for an ambush, on one side or the other, the parties involved make an Ambush roll at the same time as they are making their initiative rolls, and before the combat as presented to the players, either on the table top, or in the theatre of the mind. The winning side of an Ambush roll gets to set up the upcoming fight, in as unfair a fashion as the GM will allow. GM's are encouraged to be fair but brutal.
- Getting Ambushed sucks, but it sure is interesting!
- In combat, 'Armor Class' is the measure of how difficult it is to land a successful, damaging attack. Attackers roll a D20 and add in all their relevant modifiers, both positive and negative, to generate a 'to-hit roll', or an attack roll. If that 'to-hit roll' number is EQUAL TO, or GREATER THAN, the Armor Class of the creature they were attacking, then they succeeded in hitting the target and can now roll out their damage. Player characters are usually very interested in having a high Armor Class, as it makes them harder to hit in combat.
- A character's Armor Class is built up of their Base Armor Class (depending upon their character class), and many modifiers, such as their Dex mod (sometimes), the bonus they get from Armor and Shields, and many others.
- * AKA: Skill Assist
NOTE: Assist requires you to be adjacent! If the party's lock-picker is working on something very cataclysmic, be sure you understand just how close you are to the point of maximum risk!
As a standard action, you can assist an adjacent ally on a skill check by rolling at least an Easy DC on the same skill, versus the same CR (challenge rating) as the main check.
- If successful, the ally you are assisting gets a +2 circumstance bonus on his or her check.
- If you roll less than an Easy DC result, you instead inflict a -1 circumstance penalty to the check being made by the ally you are assisting.
You can't take 10 on a skill check to assist. In many cases, assists are not possible or only a limited number of characters can help at once. In all cases, no more than 5 characters can ever assist with a skill check. Note that circumstance bonuses stack with all other bonuses including other circumstance bonuses.
If a skill is trained only, or requires a particular specialization (such as Perform, Piloting, or Profession), you must have at least one rank in the same skill or specialization to assist. GM's may adjudicate that some skills or specializations are complementary enough to also allow assistance.
If you wish to assist an ally with an epic skill use of a skill (a skill use which requires at least 21 ranks to attempt), you must also have at least 21 ranks in the skill in question.
Assisting an ally with a skill use that provokes attacks of opportunity also provokes attacks of opportunity.
- Note: to provide combat bonuses to an ally, refer to Aid Another.
- At-Risk is an optional aspect of many Status Conditions. If a character or monster has been affected by a status condition, it is possible that being affected again may make that condition worse. As an example, if a monster has been tripped and now is Quelled, ie, knocked down to a knee, it is possible that tripping that monster again may worsen their quelled state to prone, meaning they are face-down on their hands and knees. Even worse, a prone condition might then be worsened even more to the Splayed condition, sprawled flat on your face or back with arms and legs splayed out spread-eagle style.
- The GM adjudicates most At-Risk situations on a case-by-case basis, so be nice to the person behind the screen.
- At-Will designates some power, feat, ability, or other aspect of play that is 'Howardian' in nature, IE, the player can do it whenever they like. Granted, just because you HAVE an 'at-will' ability does not mean you should USE that at-will ability willy-nilly all the time. Strive to be kind, generous, and sharing with your fellow players.
- AKA: Standard Attack
If you are not performing a full attack action during your turn, you can still perform an attack action, but doing so requires your standard action. As a result, attack actions are much more flexible during a full attack action, but they behave very similarly to standard actions otherwise.
The most common use for an attack action is (obviously) making attacks. However, you can also 'trade away' your worst remaining attack action of a full attack action to perform one of the Combat Maneuvers that require an attack action (this does not apply to Charge, Grapple, Overrun, Tumble, or Withdraw maneuvers, since they require action types other than attack actions) at any point during your full attack action (i.e., you don't need to use up your best attack actions before trading away your worst one to perform the maneuver, you can do the maneuver early, then finish up your remaining attack actions). Bear in mind that only one combat maneuver may ever be performed per turn (unless you spend an action point, or have some ability that allows you to break this rule).
You can also trade away your worst remaining attack action to gain a bonus 5-foot step at any point during your full attack action. This is in addition to the one 5-foot step you can perform as a free action if you don't otherwise move during your turn. Unlike with combat maneuvers, you can trade away more than one attack action to gain an equal number of bonus 5-foot steps, if you wish.Once an attack action is 'traded away', whether for a combat maneuver or a bonus 5-foot step, it is expended and cannot be used this round for any other purpose.
- AKA: To-Hit Roll
- An Attack Roll is the first core mechanic of combat in a D20 game, such as Epic Path. If successful, an Attack is followed by a Damage Roll. To make an attack roll, you roll a 20-sided die (called a D20), and then add to that number all relevant modifiers (both positive and negative) to generate an attack roll, or a to-hit number. That number is then compared against the Armor Class of the creature you were attacking. If your Attack Roll is equal to or greater than the target's Armor Class, you successfully hit and may make a damage roll (see below) and apply any other effects. Yay you!
- Note that an Attack Roll is made in Combat, but further note that Combat Maneuvers are NOT Attack Rolls! Combat Maneuvers are Skill Rolls, which is why they may be made without suffering the -5, -10, or -15 penalty assessed to Attack Rolls in Combat. As a result, Combat maneuvers cannot be used to apply abilities, powers, spell effects, class features, etc that require an attack roll. Examples include applying poisons, sneak attack, a paladin's Smite, precision damage dice, laying a fighter's Challenge, and many others besides.
- An aura is an inherent emanation that is part of the possessor's being. Unless specifically described otherwise, an aura is always present and cannot be removed in any way by either the owner of the aura or the actions of others. Note that while an aura is always present, it may or may not apply effects on others, depending on how the possessor of the aura uses it.
- An aura has the effects that are laid out in the aura's description at all times, and only ceases operation when the possessor of the aura is dead. However, an aura described as spell-like, supernatural, or gained as a spell effect, is subject to anti-magic effects. Conversely, an aura described as an Extraordinary ability is not subject to anti-magic.
- An aura does not effect the owner of the aura unless stated explicitly in the description.
- A creature can suppress or express the effects of their aura during their turn as a swift action.
- An aura cannot harm a creature unless the owner of the aura has line of effect to the victim of the aura.
- An aura's effect is always triggered by the owner of the aura. This trigger is a free action. An aura can trigger its effect in one of three ways, once per round:
- The aura may be triggered at the end of a move action. This allows the aura owner to move up to victims and affect them.
- The aura may be triggered at the beginning of a full round action or a standard action. This allows the aura's owner to incorporate the aura's effect into their attacks.
- The aura may be triggered by other events as described in the aura. This allows auras to activate upon the death of the owner, or when they use another talent, power or ability, or some other circumstance defined in the description.
- If a victim has been affected by an aura once in a round, it is immune to any further applications of the aura's effect until the beginning of its next round.
- The effects of an aura last until the end of the aura owner's next round unless they are instantaneous (damage) or otherwise removed earlier.
- Auramancy is the general term used for various 'extra' game mechanics used to make certain campaigns mechanically and thematically different from others. Auramancy is always strictly optional, and indeed, is frequently custom-built for a specific campaign. Examples might include 'spell-scars', 'bloodline powers', 'birthrights', or 'shouts'.
- A Bailiwick Skill is a skill that is related to a style of play (or lifestyle), rather than being tied to an area of study or expertise. A Bailiwick Skill is designed to simulate the core 'heroism' of being a powerful adventurer. Bailiwick Skills are used to create magic items, assess the toughness of monsters, learn Spells, and generally be 'players'.
- AKA: BAB
- Each character class has a base attack bonus, which improves depending on your level in that class. This bonus is added to all to-hit rolls when calculating your attack bonus.
- BAB is frequently called out as a prerequisite for feats, magic items, or other abilities. In such cases, the largest BAB number in any of your character class charts is the number you need to equal or exceed to qualify.
Base Land Speed
- The simplest way of moving around on a solid surface, and a general ability of almost all player characters and monsters, one way or another. By far the most common way of using Base Land Speed is by walking on some number of legs, although every creature gets around in different ways. Oozes, for example, don't have legs but still have a Base Land Speed and they sort of...oooze around....
- Distinguished from 'better' movement types, like Swimming, Flying, Burrowing, Vaulting, etc. Base Land Speed is often enhanced by feats, powers, abilities, and items, so it is almost always relevant.
- AKA: I'm hurt pretty bad, I'm under half, 'It's Bloodied'
- Under the Fog of War rules, all creatures keep their hit point totals private, to increase the tension and immersion at the table. When any creature reaches half their total hit points, after the injury that drives them below half, they should announce that they are now Bloodied. All Monsters have a Bloodied value in their writeup, and all Players should calculate and note their own Bloodied value. Note that the Bloodied value of an infirm Sorcerer can be MUCH smaller than the Bloodied value of a hearty Barbarian, so a delicate character that reports they are Bloodied is likely at much more risk than such a wall of sturdy flesh. Although, if the party Tank is buried in bad guys and unexpectedly announces that they are Bloodied down in the mass of horror, this can lead to some tense moments at the table!
Note that many creatures may have abilities that trigger when they become Bloodied, so players should be alert when they start making headway against a pack of Monsters.
- AKA: Arcane Charge
- An Arcane Bonus comes from a spell which provides a bonus to one or more things (skills, to-hits, armor class, etc.) which was cast by an arcane caster, and lays a charge. Arcane Bonuses do not stack with other Arcane Bonuses, even if the two bonuses are attempting to boost totally different character attributes. If a new spell or effect attempts to apply a new Arcane Bonus on a character or creature which already has an existing Arcane Bonus, the subject must immediately choose to either keep their existing Arcane Bonus, or replace it with the new Arcane Bonus.
- An Arcane Bonus does stack with a Divine Bonus (as well as any other bonus type, other than another Arcane Bonus), unless the effect being placed upon the target is coming from the same spell as the arcane bonus. This means you can benefit from a buff spell cast by an arcane caster and a different buff spell cast by a divine caster at the same time, even if both spells improve the same attribute (such as armor class), unless both spells share the same name. (Note that 'same name' excludes the parenthetical in the page title, meaning that Stoneskin (Druid Spell) and Stoneskin (Sorcerer/Wizard Spell) are considered the same spell for this purpose.)
As the name implies, the most common source of an armor bonus happens when a character dons a suit of armor. A few other methods exist to gain an armor bonus, as well, such as spells, feats, etc. In all cases, if multiple sources of armor bonuses are available to a character, only the highest available bonus is used.
- See also: Armor Enhancement Bonus
Armor Enhancement Bonus
If armor is enchanted with an enhancement bonus, the enhancement bonus is added directly to the armor's base armor bonus to AC, for purposes of determining the total AC provided by the armor. Thus, a +3 chain shirt, which has a base armor bonus to AC of 4, adds a total of 7 points to your armor class (counting the +3 enhancement bonus). The armor is still described as +3 armor (not +7 armor), since enhancement bonuses can only go up to +9, and the cost of the enhancement bonus is based on the plus provided. It is also a descriptive indicator of the armor's magical power.
An armor enhancement bonus stacks with other kinds of bonuses to AC, but not with other armor enhancement bonuses. If two different sources of armor enhancement bonus are available, only the highest available bonus may be used.An armor enhancement bonus only provides a bonus to Armor Class. It has no effect on the armor's other attributes, such as Armor Check Penalty, Dex Penalty to AC, etc.
Typically built by rugged individuals in the outdoors, or inside unfinished caves or dungeons, or even in ruins in a city, a campfire requires a good amount of firewood, occupies one square, inflicts Singed doing fire damage to anyone who enters that square, and removes cold weather Environmental Effects in a 15 foot radius (a 7x7 square space), as well as allowing the ability to cook food and providing endless hours of entertainment to anyone who cares to watch.
- A circumstance bonus is a bonus that can be awarded by the GM to any action performed by a character or creature who has gained some advantage over their target, usually by being in the right place at the right time. As you can imagine, this covers a LOT of territory, but one of the most frequent sources of a circumstance bonus is a +1 bonus to-hit when attacking from a position of higher ground (note that the specific definition of what is, or isn't, higher ground is left up to the GM, and the attacking creature must still be able to reach their target, so the ground can't be TOO high...)
- Other opportunities for circumstance bonuses can sometimes come from spells which alter your terrain, or the ability for a creature to perceive you (such as Invisibility (Sorcerer/Wizard Spell)). In such cases, it isn't really the spell that is providing the bonus, but the lingering effects of the spell. (When the spell causes the bonus directly, it's nearly always an Arcane Bonus or a Divine Bonus).
- While some spells, feats, and skills may specifically grant a circumstance bonus when used appropriately, the GM is also free to issue circumstance bonuses (and, indeed, should do so), when the situation warrants it, and no other bonus is obviously available to use.
- Unlike nearly all other bonus types, multiple circumstance bonuses to the same action are added together.
- A competence bonus can be granted by nearly anything, and can modify nearly any aspect of your character. Competence bonuses to the same element of your character do not stack with each other; instead, only the highest available bonus is used. You can have multiple competence bonuses, as long as they each apply to different elements of your character. Only where the same bonus type is being applied to the same element must you pick the highest available.
- AKA: Divine Charge
- An Divine bonus comes from a spell which provides a bonus to one or more things (skills, to-hits, armor class, etc.) which was cast by an divine caster, and lays a charge. Divine bonuses do not stack with other Divine Bonuses, even if the two bonuses are attempting to boost totally different character attributes. If a new spell or effect attempts to apply a new Divine Bonus on a character or creature which already has an existing Divine Bonus, the subject must immediately choose to either keep their existing Divine Bonus, or replace it with the new Divine Bonus.
- A Divine Bonus does stack with an Arcane Bonus (as well as any other bonus type, other than another Divine Bonus), unless the effect being placed upon the target is coming from the same spell as the Arcane Bonus. This means you can benefit from a buff spell cast by an arcane caster and a different buff spell cast by a divine caster at the same time, even if both spells improve the same attribute (such as armor class), unless both spells share the same name. (Note that 'same name' excludes the parenthetical in the page title, meaning that Stoneskin (Druid Spell) and Stoneskin (Sorcerer/Wizard Spell) are considered the same spell for this purpose.)
- A dual charge occurs when a particularly powerful ongoing (non-instantaneous) effect, nearly always from a spell, but sometimes from a supernatural ability, is applied to a subject. When an effect lays a dual charge, it applies both an Arcane Bonus and a Divine Bonus to the target. Both of these bonus types are now in use, and should the same subject get affected by a new effect which would lay either an Arcane Bonus, a Divine Bonus, or a new Dual Charge, they must choose whether to keep their current effect, or replace it with the new one (even if the new one lays only an Arcane Bonus or a Divine Bonus). A creature may have both an Arcane Bonus and a Divine Bonus present on themselves simultaneously, but they can never have more than one Arcane Bonus, or more than one Divine Bonus present at the same time.
- An enhancement bonus is a bonus granted to a character by a magic item. Enhancement bonuses can be applied to almost any stat, skill, or score of a character, as the effects from magic items are diverse and powerful. Enhancement bonuses to the same element of the character do not stack, but enhancement bonuses to different elements can be applied simultaneously.
- For example, you can have an item which grants an enhancement bonus of +4 to your Strength score, and a different item that grants a +2 enhancement bonus to your Survival skill checks. Both of these bonuses apply, since they are affecting different elements of the character. However, two items which both grant an enhancement bonus to a character's Strength score would not stack; instead, only the highest available bonus would be applied.
- A feat bonus is a bonus type that can be applied to nearly any number on your character sheet, from ability scores, to skill checks, to saving throws. Feat bonuses, as the name suggests, always come from feats. Feat bonuses to the same element of your character do not stack with each other; instead, only the highest available bonus is used. You can have multiple feat bonuses, as long as they each apply to different elements of your character. Only where the same bonus type is being applied to the same element must you pick the highest available.
- Only Bards, Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, and Wizards receive an implement bonus.
The implement bonus is equal to +1 at 1st level, and increases by an additional +1 per 4 class levels, dropping fractions, to a maximum of +9 at level 33 (i.e. +2 at 5th, +3 at 9th, +4 at 13th, +5 at 17th, +6 at 21st, +7 at 25th, +8 at 29th, and +9 at 33rd). Note that, if you multi-class into another class that also gets this bonus, the class levels stack for purposes of calculating this bonus.
If you are not actively wielding a rod, staff, or wand, you do not get this bonus.
Furthermore, casters can flick, twirl, or swoosh a wielded rod, staff, or wand to complete the somatic gestures of any spells they cast, in place of using their empty hand(s). That is, an implement counts as an empty hand for purposes of completing somatic gestures.
When wielding a magic staff in both hands, a caster need only have material components in a readily available storage location (like a Component Pouch). The staff will draw out and consume the components as part of casting the spell, eliminating the need for the caster to pause in wielding the staff to draw the component themselves. This only works if the component is in an accessible place that could normally be pulled from as part of casting a spell. If the component is tucked away in a (non-magical) backpack, stored in a portable hole, or left in the caster's bedside table back in town, the staff has no power to pull components from there.If you enchant your implement with an enhancement bonus, that bonus is also added to your spell and spell-like ability to-hits, stacking with the implement bonus. However, the enhancement bonus does not add its bonus to the spell or spell-like ability's damage, the way it does with weapon damage. For the rules on enchanting weapons, and how much it costs to do so, see Magic Weapons.
- AKA: Mana, Dweomer, Arcane, Divine
- In Epic Path, and in most or all fantasy games, 'magic' is the way to explain items, effects, and abilities that are impossible in the 'Real World'. In the real world, people can't recite a chant and suddenly fly away while ignoring the laws of physics. In the REAL world, there are RULES.
- Well, in a fantasy game, those rules are completely ignored, maybe even flaunted, to enable fantastic, exciting, and interesting stories to be told.
- 'Magic' covers class abilities such as spells, poultices, and extracts, as well as any character or monster ability which is tagged as being 'Supernatural' (Su) or 'Spell-like' (Sp) in nature. This is a vast amount of strange, exotic, and exciting abilities, to be sure. Magic is also the source of all 'Magic Items', which are better versions of ordinary items. A Bag of Holding breaks so many laws of physics it will hurt your brain if you think about it too hard.
- Now, for the purists out there, ANY exotic effect can be explained by 'MAGIC!'. Weird afflictions, exalted in-born gifts, ascetic skills, terrible curses, even magic wishing fountains, all these and many more can be explained that 'it's magic'. Indeed, the presence of the concept of magic allows the GM to use nearly any storytelling element they want, as long as it fits some version of the genre of their story.
- Now, that said, in a game, even 'magic' has to follow some rules. (Yes, it's a downer, we know.) In a nutshell, anything in the game that has a game effect, that does damage or changes a numerical effect, like adding a Fly speed to a player character, must follow the rules for spells, or for magic items, or for a Supernatural or Spell-like ability. If an effect is presented during play that does NOT obey this rule, then that 'thing' is purely in the provenance of the GM. The GM can introduce any and all crazy, wacky, rules-breaking things they want. After all, it's THEIR story!
- It is strongly advised that all effects introduced as 'storytelling' effects NOT be available to players except as elements to drive a story. A Magical Ur-Metal Egg with an ancient, eldritch horror inside should not be an item on the shelf for players to buy...unless the GM is running a REALLY crazy game. Gold-pieces or Remnants should not be attached to story elements, unless that is important for the GM's story-line.
- A Martial Bonus is a type of bonus gained from the use, assistance of, or application of Martial abilities. This might be a Warlord howling commands through a hurricane, a Fighter calling a battle cry and leaping from a parapet, or a magic item or feat or any other source.
- Martial bonuses to the same element of your character do not stack with each other; instead, only the highest available bonus is used. You can have multiple martial bonuses, as long as they each apply to different elements of your character. Only where the same bonus type is being applied to the same element must you pick the highest available.
- A material bonus is granted by a dweomermetal, either when it is applied to a weapon, an armor, or a shield. Material bonuses to the same element of your character do not stack with each other; instead, only the highest available bonus is used. You can have multiple material bonuses, as long as they each apply to different elements of your character. Only where the same bonus type is being applied to the same element must you pick the highest available.
- A Morale Bonus is a bonus to some aspect of your abilities which is based upon your positive mental state. This may come from a grim jest spoken by a Bard, or the surging Divine power embodied in a doughty Paladin, or any other source of improved Morale.
- Morale bonuses to the same element of your character do not stack with each other; instead, only the highest available bonus is used. You can have multiple morale bonuses, as long as they each apply to different elements of your character. Only where the same bonus type is being applied to the same element must you pick the highest available.
- Natural Armor is a consequence of having tough integument, or a durable frame, or thick bones, or some other in-born facility to ignore some attacks. It makes it harder to damage a creature by making some percentage of blows just not work. Armadillos and crocodiles, for example, do not wear chainmail, but they get a nice boost against damage from their tough skins.
- A natural armor bonus is added to a character's Armor Class (AC), and stacks with other kinds of bonuses to AC, but not with other natural armor bonuses. If two different sources of natural armor bonus are available, only the highest available bonus may be used. For most player characters, the most common source of a natural armor bonus is a magic item or other effect.
- A performance bonus is a special bonus type that can generally only be applied by bards. Like arcane or divine bonuses, Performance Bonuses do not stack with other Performance Bonuses, even if the two bonuses are attempting to boost totally different character attributes. If a new song, spell, or effect attempts to apply a new Performance Bonus on a character or creature that already has an existing Performance Bonus, the subject must immediately choose to either keep their existing Performance Bonus, or replace it with the new Performance Bonus.
- A Performance Bonus can be stacked with an Arcane Bonus and a Divine Bonus (as well as any other bonus type, other than another Performance Bonus), unless the effect being placed upon the target is coming from an effect with the same name as the Performance Bonus. This means you can benefit from a buffing effect created by a bard, and a different buff spell cast by a divine caster at the same time, even if both effects improve the same attribute (such as armor class), unless both effects share the same name. (Note that 'same name' excludes the parenthetical in the page title, meaning that Stoneskin (Druid Spell) and Stoneskin (Sorcerer/Wizard Spell) are considered the same spell for this purpose.)
- Most performance bonuses come from bardic performances (i.e. songs), and no creature may ever be the target of more than one song at the same time, even if more than one bard is performing.
- AKA: Save Buff
- Disambiguation: Deflection Bonus does not exist in Epic Path. Shield Bonus and Shield Enhancement Bonus take its place.
A shield bonus is added to a character's Armor Class (AC), and stacks with other kinds of bonuses to AC, but not with other shield bonuses. If two different sources of shield bonus are available, only the highest available bonus may be used.
As the name implies, the most common source of a shield bonus happens when a character wields a shield. However, some weapons grant a shield bonus (such as the Scizore, and the Glaive) when used (or not used) in a particular way. A few other methods exist to gain a shield bonus, as well, such as spells, feats, etc. In all cases, if multiple sources of shield bonuses are available to a character, only the highest available bonus is used.
- See also: Shield Enhancement Bonus
Shield Enhancement Bonus
If a shield is enchanted with an enhancement bonus, the enhancement bonus is added directly to the shield's base shield bonus to AC, for purposes of determining the total AC provided by the shield. Thus, a +3 heavy steel shield, which has a base shield bonus to AC of 2, adds a total of 5 points to your armor class (counting the +3 enhancement bonus). The shield is still described as a +3 shield (not a +5 shield), since enhancement bonuses can only go up to +9, and the cost of the enhancement bonus is based on the plus provided. It is also a descriptive indicator of the shield's magical power.
A shield enhancement bonus stacks with other kinds of bonuses to AC, but not with other shield enhancement bonuses. If two different sources of shield enhancement bonus are available, only the highest available bonus may be used.A Shield Enhancement Bonus only provides a bonus to Armor Class. It has no effect on the shield's other attributes, such as Armor Check Penalty, Dex Penalty to AC, etc.
- Training bonuses are typically gained through either a class feature or a racial trait. Training bonuses can apply to nearly any element of a character. Training bonuses do not stack with themselves; instead, only the highest available training bonus is applied to a given particular skill. You can have multiple training bonuses, as long as they each apply to different elements of your character. Only where the same bonus type is being applied to the same element must you pick the highest available.
- Training bonuses can also sometimes apply only to a specific skill-use within a given skill. A common example of this is Initiative, which is a skill use of the Movement skill. Just be aware that these training bonuses still do not stack. The highest bonus available is used where ever it is applicable, but the bonuses are NEVER added together.
- Many weapons possess a weapon quality, which is an inherent thing that the weapon is 'good at'. As an example, a hammer is much better at breaking a rock than a screwdriver is. Some weapon qualities give you bonuses to-hit or to your armor class. Such a bonus is called a weapon bonus, which has the large advantage that a weapon bonus to AC will stack with all other sorts of bonuses to AC, although not with any other weapon bonuses that apply to the same attribute (like AC).
- Campaign Level is almost always an abstract number set to equal the Average Character Level of all the players. This then becomes a way for the GM to determine Skill Check Difficulty Classes, the level of monsters and NPC Constituents, the power of available magic items, and many other things besides. The Campaign Level is also a guideline for the 'tone' of the campaign. A level 30 game is not usually set in a tiny village of mud huts...although it could be!
- It is generally good practice as a Game Master (GM) to strive to keep all the players at the same level. This is easy to do in Epic Path, by handing out group rewards for all combats and quests. Indeed, if you have players at different levels, the Monster Experience reward system will act over time to 'even out' everybody to the same level. If the GM has chosen to allow characters at different levels, it is strongly recommended to never allow the difference between the highest character level and the lowest character level to exceed four levels. If you exceed this range, then a fight against the average means that the low level characters will face extremely difficult battles, and/or, the high level characters will face very easy battles with tiny rewards. And tiny rewards are no fun!
- It is possible for the GM to declare by fiat that the Campaign Level is different from the average character level. This can be used to adjust the game difficulty. Setting the Campaign Level to one or two lower than the Average Character Level means that all combats are VERY easy, but advancement will slow down a great deal, as the experience rewards will be proportionally very small. Setting the Campaign Level to one or two higher than the Average Character Level means that combats will be VERY difficult, but rewards will be large and advancement will be quite rapid.
- Based upon your Strength score, and possibly some items such as Muleback Cords or Titanic Armor, your Carrying Capacity determines how much weight you can pick up and carry. Extremely high Strength has many, many benefits, not least of which is the ability to pack-mule things like a carpenter ant without taking any penalties. Being strong like Spider-man is completely within the reach of high Strength scores and lots of magic items.
- AKA: Concentration Check, Concentration
- Caster check is a general term used to describe making a skill check in order to use a magic spell to 'do something' against a bad guy. This can be wrestling your magical effect through a monster's spell resistance, using a grease spell to disarm an orc, or making tentacles do... stuff... to a whole roomful of demons.
- This is mechanically similar to a Concentration Check.
- Some feats, such as Combat Casting (Feat) and Spell Penetration (Feat), can be selected to improve your caster checks in certain situations.
- The target DC of this check is usually the creature's Maneuver Defense, but it can sometimes be a Challenging skill DC, or (in the case of defensive casting) 10 + (spell level x 4).
You can cast a spell at a lower caster level than your own if you wish, but the caster level you choose must be high enough for you to cast the spell in question, and all level-dependent features must be based on the adjusted caster level.
In the event that a class feature or other special ability provides an adjustment to your caster level, that adjustment applies not only to effects based on caster level (such as range, duration, and damage dealt), but also to your Caster Check to overcome your target's Spell Resistance and to the caster level used in dispel checks (both the dispel check and the DC of the check).
- AKA: CR
- Challenge Rating (or CR) is a convenient number used to indicate the relative danger presented by a monster, trap, hazard, or other encounter — the higher the CR, the more dangerous the encounter. As a rule of thumb, the GM should strive to keep most encounters about even in CR to the players level, although the occasional harder or easier battle can be a nice change of pace. It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED to keep all encounters within two CR's of the players level unless the GM is experienced and is sure of how things will go. A +5 CR encounter is very likely to be fatal, inducing a TPK (Total Party Kill), which is not likely to be good for your campaign.
- AKA: Class, Character
- A character class is a set of in-game powers and abilities that are thematically and mechanically tied together, but feels distinctly different from the play style of any other class
- AKA: Total Level, Level
- AKA: Settlements, town, the city, home, that smelly place with more politics than trees
- Civilization is a loose term that broadly defines locations that have been claimed by the civilized races (i.e. the player character races). These races all possess the Spark of Civility, which uplifts them from being deemed "monsters" (despite their myriad, and sometimes disturbing, appearances). When members of this race deliberately alter a location with tools, with the intent to use that location for some purpose (usually habitation, but not necessarily), it becomes "settled" or civilized.
- When monsters do the same thing (and certainly there are MANY monsters intelligent enough to do so), they create dungeons, instead.
- When a location is merely exploited for its natural resources, even if tools and intent are brought to bear on that location to extract those resources, it isn't considered civilized, merely by this act. Instead, those resources must be used in that location to build something that serves a purpose (even if it's just a place to store the resources they are extracting), before it is considered civilized.
- AKA:Defensive Casting, Casting on the Defensive
- AKA:Combat Maneuver
- A combat maneuver is the process of using a Skill Roll instead of an Attack Roll in a fight. Combat maneuvers are a completely separate system from normal Combat, and follow completely different rules to do completely different things. Note that a Combat maneuver, since it is a Skill Roll, does not suffer penalties to-hit for being used in a fight like multiple Attack Rolls are. As a result, it can be very advantageous to 'git gud' with a combat maneuver or two, to give yourself more and better options to use in a fight.
- AKA: Command, On Command
- Many Magic Items must be commanded to work, by speaking aloud a word or phrase to activate their power. A truly classic example of a command word is 'Abracadabra', or 'Open, Sesame'. In general, possession of a Magic Item, whether found or purchased, will include the knowledge of the command word. It is assumed that the item has the phrase engraved upon it, or it imparts the knowledge magically, or there is an attached note. (In this case, it is completely okay to read the instructions.)
- Activating an item with a command word usually takes an action (defined in the item itself) and causes the activator to lose the benefits of Stealth, due to voluntarily making a sound.
- AKA: Concentration Check, Caster Check
- AKA:Status Conditions, Fear effect, paralysis, turned to stone, turn to stone, petrification, polymorph, panic, Bad Stuff
- Conditions are debilitating effects that happen to you, that are not just a reduction of your character's hit points. This can be anything from the fear given off by a ghastly monster, the dizzying effects of a hard shot to the nose, all the way up to paralysis or petrification. Many conditions are the result of a failed saving throw, but not all!
- In Epic Path, there are lots and lots and LOTS of Status Conditions. They are all unpleasant, but do not worry! None of them are completely debilitating right way, and all of them have ways that you can get out of them. So do not fear that failed save! Use it as a chance to role-play your woeful plight, or work on teamwork among your party members... or just be super tough and slog your way right through it! It's up to you!
- AKA: Crit, criticals, 'YAY, CRIT!'
- In Epic Path combat, most weapon attacks are resolved with a D20 roll, along with many, many modifiers, both positive and negative. At high levels of play, the die roll can come to be a fairly small component of the entire number.
- In order to maintain the relevance of the core D20 mechanic, Epic Path uses the concept of 'Natural 20' and 'Natural 1'. In other words, no matter how potent your stack of buffs, no matter how huge your bonuses become, no matter how good (or bad!) your chances are, the actual die roll always matters. If you roll a 1 on the face of the die, you fail. If you roll a 20 on the face of the die, you get a goodie.
- A Critical Hit is a huge bonus that is unlocked after you roll very well in combat to hit a foe with an attack that threatens. All physical weapons and quite a few spells (ray attacks) can threaten critical hits. Critical hits serve to keep combat unpredictable, as well as make every die roll relevant.
- Weapons in Epic Path have many properties and aspects, to make every weapon unique and interesting. One of those aspects is the Critical Multiplier, which is a measure of how much bonus damage the weapon generates upon scoring a confirmed critical hit. The bigger the critical multiplier, the greater the bonus damage.
- The exact amount of bonus damage generated by a crit is highly variable, affected by the weapon's crit multiplier, the feats a player has, class abilities, the properties on the weapon, buffs, and many other factors.
- AKA:Threat Range
- A natural result on a d20 attack roll (a.k.a., a to-hit roll) that falls within the threat range of the weapon or monster attack being rolled. This allows a confirmation roll to be rolled, to see if the hit does extra damage, but, even if the confirmation roll is missed, all Critical Threats are always counted as a normal hit, even if that roll normally would miss the target's armor class! Against a very hard-to-hit target, this effect widens the 'bypass effect', and can increase the damage done, so a large Crit Range is nice in two ways, and is very desirable. This counts for Monsters as well, so a Monster that uses Melee Weapons can hit high armor-class characters quite a bit better than Monsters using teeth and claws. The benefits of weaponry!
- AKA: DR
- Damage Resistance is a defensive trait, wherein you subtract the amount of your DR from all physical damage which hits you. DR is applied after a successful to-hit roll, or, anytime you take physical damage. If there is no to-hit roll, DR is applied before you make a saving throw to try and reduce the damage. If there is no to-hit roll, and no saving throw, then DR is your only option to try and tank that hit, so you can see why it's pretty valuable if you are in such extremely hostile situations.
- A damage roll is the second part of the basic combat mechanic in Epic Path, right after the attack roll. If you succeed in an attack, combat maneuver, or in using a class ability, or racial ability, or any other ability such as use of a magic item, and you hurt a bad guy, a damage roll determines how much you hurt them.
- This is an important matter, and is resolved by rolling some number of dice, adding or subtracting all modifiers, and telling that information to the GM or whoever is keeping track of the damage inflicted upon a monster. Once the total damage you have inflicted equals or exceeds their total hit points, the monster is dead (or, rarely, disabled or otherwise inconvenienced as the GM decides).
- The only way to defeat a monster or any other enemy in Epic Path is by reducing its hit point total to zero or less by making damage rolls, so if you ever want to win a fight, this is pretty important stuff.
- The number and type of dice you roll, and the adders you apply to that roll, is always defined by the weapon, magic item, class ability, or racial ability you used to make the attack. Read carefully! Math is required to play, sorry!
- AKA: It's dead, I'm dead, Oh no....
- If any creature reaches negative hit points, regardless of their temp hit points, they are either Unconscious or dead. Unconscious is terrible, but can be recovered from if you are tough and lucky. Dead is dead. In-game, you can possibly come back from death if you have access to a spell or other method of staving it off, but at low levels, you're probably going to have to re-roll your character, or, work something out with the GM to continue the story.
Tough luck, but risk is part of the game!
- AKA: Death Save, Stabilize Roll, Stabilize
- A creature which is defenseless against something takes double damage from it. This is often a particular damage type, like "positive energy", or "bludgeoning", but sometimes it can be a specific dweomermetal, like "silvered".
- See also: Vulnerable
- Epic Path, and indeed, all D20 games, use polyhedral dice. Normal 'gamblers' dice are simple cubes, marked on all sides with unique marks so that they can generate six results with an equal probability of each, on a random basis.
- The ability to generate random results, due to unique marks on all faces, with an equal probability of all results in a flat-line distribution, is the essential characteristic of ALL individual dice rolls, regardless of the type of die being used. It is assumed in Epic Path that all dice, of any shape, physical or virtual, are 'fair dice' and always generate unique random results per die roll. If your dice are not fair dice, get better ones.
- In Epic Path, dice rolls are the principal source of randomness. Dice rolls are used one at a time to determine game outcomes such as attack rolls and saving throws. Dice rolls are also used in large aggregate numbers to generate damage rolls, in which case all the dice results (and any modifiers) are added up to generate a random result on a bell curve. In these rolls, and all others, dice play a big role in the game mechanics.
- Epic Path uses dice with four sides (d4's), six sides (d6's), eight sides (d8's), ten sides (d10's), twelve sides (d12's) and twenty sides (d20's). Sometimes, two of these dice will be used together to roll a random range larger than 20, the most common of which is rolling two d10's, counting one as the 'tens' die, the other as the 'ones' die, to generate a 'percentile' roll, ranging from 01 to 00 (which is counted as 100).
- All of these dice types except for the D10 represent one of the ancient Platonic Solids, which have been known since antiquity and all of which have great historical significance...which is why they're named after Plato, one of history's greatest and most impactful thinkers. So if anybody is giving you grief about those colorful plastic random number generators, hit them up with some of that deep historical significance!
- The one non-Platonic solid is the D10, which is a lowly cylindrical prism with the eye-popping name of 'pentagonal trapezohedron'. Yikes. You shouldn't make too much fun of that class of shapes though, that sort of shape can be used to generate dice with a tremendous number of sides if desired. Epic Path doesn't use such oddities, however.
- We strongly encourage all players of Epic Path to purchase at least one set of polyhedral dice from your local gaming store, and we recommend the use of a dice bag or storage tin to keep them in as well. Many hobbyists wind up with daunting collections of dice, to include sentimental favorites, dice you suspect of being out to get you, and solid, reliable partners in your fun. We do suggest you try to avoid naming or talking to your dice in public. (But, really, we all do it.)
- If you do not wish to use dice for your gaming, it is possible to find dice-type random number generators at many places on the Internet. In general, we find such resources useful in a pinch, but nothing beats rolling some dice to really convey the full gaming experience.
- Remember: Dice karma is a myth.
- AKA: Rough Terrain
- AKA: DC, Skill DC, Save DC
- Difficulty Classes are the target numbers required to 'do stuff' in the game. Picking locks, dancing, making an oboe, finding a treasure, avoiding a terrible fate, all these things require a die roll, with modifiers. The total of that die roll must EQUAL or EXCEED the associated DC (Difficulty Class), or you fail in your endeavor.
- Mechanically, a DC is very similar to an AC, or Armor Class. They are named differently because to-hit rolls against AC are so extremely common, it is best to use a specific term to avoid confusion. There are predefined target DC's available for everything in the game.
- Yes, we know, AC and DC, there's an electricity joke in there somewhere, but we're not going to go there. We have at least some dignity.
- AKA: tomb, crypt, ruin, haunt, Bad Place
- A dungeon is loosely defined as any uncivilized region that has been deliberately altered and worked by one or more intelligent creatures for some purpose, usually to make it habitable, but not necessarily. Note that this can apply to a castle or other above-ground location, as long as the location isn't considered "civilized". For something to be civilized, it usually must be occupied by a creature that has the Spark of Civility (i.e. a populace of one or more of the player races, such as Humans, Elves, Arboreans, Sylphs, etc.). Even if the location was originally built by a civilized species, if it has been abandoned by civilization and taken over by monsters, it can be considered a dungeon.
- An important distinction, however, is that the location must have been built or improved purposefully. A dark forest full of monsters isn't a dungeon. However, a grove, carefully curated and pruned over centuries, could be, as long as the curators or current inhabitants aren't members of a civilized race. In cases where monsters are present where civilized races dwell, such as a bunch of goblins living in an abandoned warehouse inside of a city, the location most likely isn't a dungeon. GMs are the final arbiters, as always, of this distinction.
- Even within this already-broad definition, there are countless types of dungeons, including living, sentient dungeons. It's a really crazy, scary world out there.
- AKA: Magical Metals, Magic Metal
- Iron, steel, copper, brass, gold, are all wonderful things, but they're not 'fantastic'. Tolkien's magical elfin metal in his seminal classics is indicative of the desire for 'amazing things' to make stories better.
- In Epic Path, awesome, magical materials are called 'dweomermetals', and there are lots and lots of them. Have fun!
- An Encounter is a significant game interaction, that carries elements of risk, and can generate rewards. The most common encounters are combats, followed by Skill Challenges and Environmental Effects, and whenever the GM decides that Something Big Happened.
- In Epic Path, most encounters are fights. IE, you and your allies meet a group of bad guys, roll an initiative roll, and work your way through the combat process. One entire battle is termed an 'encounter'.
- It is also possible to have skill challenges that are treated as encounters, and in some cases, environmental effects are also treated as encounters. The reason why this is important is because many, many magical effects are timed according to the beginning and ending of encounters.
- The GM can define for the players whether an event in the game is or is not an encounter.
- AKA: Load, Weight, Bulk, Carrying capacity, Treasure, Sellable Goods
- In Epic Path, how much 'stuff' your character is carrying is important. This is a realism thing, and is designed to prevent the packrat min-maxers out there from buying 200 Alchemical Fires to burn down towns with. With the Encumbrance rules in place, you can still BUY them, but you can't usually CARRY them.
- Encumbrance is listed in pounds, but that's an abstract number that also takes into account the bulkiness, size, and awkwardness of an item. A Long Sword doesn't actually weigh four pounds, but it is long and awkward enough to encumber you like a more compact 4-pound object would. Every bit of 'stuff' out there adds pounds to your encumbrance rating.
- The amount you can carry is affected strongly by your Strength ability score, which is why even the most sedentary of spellcasters is usually pretty ripped. Buying ranks of the Might skill also improves your carrying capacity, so look to that resource if you dumped Strength and now regret it. At higher levels of play, there are lots of magic items that will let you carry pretty much all you want...but those are not cheap!
- If you have more pounds of encumbrance than your Light Carrying Capacity, you take penalties, and they can get pretty unpleasant. So buy up some Strength, toss a few ranks at Might, pay attention to your weight, and maybe think about playing a race with a bonus to carry capacity.
- AKA: Opponent, Target, Foe, Bad Guys
- In Epic Path game mechanics, 'enemies' are always monsters. This means that all foes you will fight and kill in your adventures are built on different rules than the ones followed for player characters. In game terms, this allows the GM (who is a fine, upstanding individual who deserves great praise for their efforts) to run many enemies using simplified and streamlined rules. Indeed, if you try to fight another Player Character, it will not be much fun. It will be short and pointless, and that's precisely by design. When conflicts arise between PC's, use your words, and if that fails, roll out a skill challenge.
- But there is a philosophical part to this as well. Epic Path, reflecting both historical reality and the story-telling conventions of mythology, literature, stage plays, and cinema, is EXTREMELY violent. Most adventurers leave a trail of corpses behind them that would make a Barbary Pirate envious. Now, this is just how these games work, but, in Epic Path we have introduced the concept of The Spark of Civility.
- There is a fundamental difference between a player character and a monster. Player Characters have the Spark, and monsters do not. Monsters are, for want of a better phrase, monstrous. There is no redemption or excuse for their behavior, they are Bad Guys, pure and simple. So, mow down as many of those bad guys as you want, with no hint of remorse or ill-will, they are utter irredeemable fiends, one and all, and that's the end of the matter.
- Unless, of course, the GM decides to complicate things. Darn GM's!
- AKA: ER
- AKA: Rain, Cold, Heat, Floods, Avalanches, Storms, Floods, Fires, Flash Floods, Tsunamis, Dust Storms, Ice Storms, Quicksand, Falling Objects, Volcanoes and Lava...oh my!
- AKA: Rare energy Damage
- Rare (Darkfire, Eldritch, Freezacid, Holy, Quiescent, Soul, Stellar, Sunlight, Tenebrous, Threnodic, Thundercrash, Void)
- AKA: Ewwww, gross!
- In game terms, we find that the huge majority of adventures usually take place on plain old solid ground, standing in simple, ordinary air. When you occasionally have to deal with adventuring in liquids, the huge majority of those adventures will be in plain old water, either fresh, brackish, or salt.
- But let's be honest. If you're going to generate legendary tales of the exploits of a vomit-covered dwarf, doesn't that imply that there must be, somewhere, vats of vomit to fall into?
- Yes, indeed, when the GM is feeling like a change of pace, (and especially at higher levels of play), there is almost no limit to the horrifying fluid stuff you can find your character dealing with. Noisome sewers filled with especially vile sewage, huge vats of alchemical elixirs, moats of blood, tinkling fountains filled with acid, rivers of pus flowing from the corpse of a God, you name it, you can find yourself dunked into it.
- AKA: Experience, Experience award, XP, xp, Level up, leveling up
- Characters in Epic Path start their careers as heroes, and as they complete adventures, quests, and missions, they do not remain the same. Epic Path is all about the journey of heroism, the discovery of new strengths, the defeat of deficiencies and problems. Epic Path characters are not static, unchanging entities, they evolve.
- But how do they evolve? What is the mechanism for accomplishing this growth?
- Experience points!
- Every time you defeat a monster, complete a quest, or at the GM's whims, you will receive an award of experience points. Once you reach a number of accumulated XP that equals or exceeds the numbers in the last column of the Level Advancement table, you are eligible to advance to the next character level. This is a big deal! Note that the GM rules when you may actually advance to the next level, and may allow this to happen 'on the fly' as you rest between adventures, or may require you to return to a home base, settlement, or other form of civilization. Ask your GM!
- The exact rules for what you get upon leveling up from experience point gain is laid out in the Character Class page(s) for your character, and in the Character Advancement page. Read carefully, and be sure you understand all of your new and exciting abilities! Epic Path is designed for detailed, highly potent heroes, and the classes are pretty dense. If you find a campaign you love, you will be hard-pressed to ever run out of things for your beloved characters to do, and see, and grow into.
- AKA: Ex
- An Extraordinary Ability is an unusual ability that does not rely on magic to function, relying on a creature's own innate power to activate it. They are not something that just anyone can do or even learn to do without extensive training. They can produce a wide variety of effects, though perhaps not so wide as those effects possible with spells, spell-like abilities, or supernatural abilities. They can be passive, always-on, types of effects, or activated with an action of some kind. They can produce an instant benefit, or have an ongoing effect. Refer to the ability's description for details.
- Extraordinary abilities are non-magical in nature, and as such are not affected by, and continue to operate, in the absence of magic, such as from an Antimagic Field (Sorcerer/Wizard Spell). Similarly, Spell Resistance (SR) provides no defense against them. Finally, unless specifically stated otherwise in the ability's description, activating an extraordinary ability does not provoke attacks of opportunity from threatening enemies.
- A feat is a minor power or ability that can be used to exactly customize the way each character works. Every character class gets a number of feats as they advance in experience, and use of feats is one of many ways in which every character in Epic Path is completely unique. When you make an Epic Path character, you can be assured, that is YOUR character, that expresses your unique vision and style of play.
- AKA: Can anybody talk to this thing?
- In Epic Path, language barriers are A Thing. Most creatures have the ability to speak 'common', a basic shared language that pretty much everything can at least get along in. This is for convenience, really, to make the game flow. But, there are also TONS of Languages in Epic Path, because lots of the exotic mystery of fantasy stories comes from the differences in languages and cultures.
- Plus, eavesdropping can be greatly complicated if you just don't understand what the bad guys are saying in their weird, guttural language. Luckily, the Linguistics skill will let you learn to understand LOTS of languages if you want to invest in it!
- AKA: Push, Pull, Slide
- AKA:Full Attack
- AKA:Out of Combat time, see also, Minute
- AKA: GM, Dungeonmaster, DM, Referee, Invincible Overlord, She Who Must Be Obeyed, Master and Commander of All He Surveys
- The GM is possibly the finest example of humanity one could ever hope to meet. Selfless, noble, erudite, wise, and benevolent beyond the normal bounds of mortals, a GM is truly one of the greatest people you will ever meet, and one of the greatest friends anyone could ever hope for. All GM's should be feted, lauded, and lavished with gifts, out of appreciation for their nigh-superhuman good deeds and bonhomie.
- Okay, in all seriousness, the GM is the player who does not 'play'. Instead, the GM is the person who 'runs' the game, serves as the principal storyteller, designs and runs all the combats, skill challenges, and hostile environments, designs and describes the game world, and generally makes the game go. You can play Epic Path without anybody...except the GM. So, seriously, be nice to your GM. They're just human, and if they accidentally wipe out the party, try to give them a little break as they work to figure things out.
- After all, the point of playing with your friends is to have fun. That means everybody! So go play, and have fun!
Game Master Fiat
- The 'Game Master' is the player of an Epic Path game who is 'telling the story' rather than 'playing the game'. This means that the Game Master has a TON OF FUN, because they get to be the author of the adventure, they get to play all the bad guys and fun and crazy non-player characters, they get to come up with all the wacky and hopefully awesome and fun stories.
- All this comes with a terrible responsibility.
- The Game Master is responsible for the fun of the adventure, and their players. This means they must challenge their players, but fairly. This means they must tell their story, but accept and integrate the inputs of the players. This means they must frequently interpret the rules in a fair, equitable, and narrative-friendly way. (And boy, is THAT one a doozy.)
- Epic Path is a VERY 'crunch-heavy' game, in that we have rules and guidelines for almost everything...BUT.
- The most important rule of all, is the rule of Game Master Fiat.
- In other words, the GM is the final arbiter, at the gaming table, of ALL QUESTIONS, SITUATIONS, and DISPUTES. What the GM says, ARE THE RULES. What we have written here are only guidelines, and every GM can follow or ignore any and all of them at their whim.
- Now, a good GM always, always, listens first, thinks, and then rules gently, wisely, and with an eye to fun and story, IN THAT ORDER.
- But even if a GM has (gasp) made a BAD CALL, then GM fiat means, the players must accept this, and move on.
- Obviously, the players may privately express their feelings and present arguments, and good Game Masters take these arguments into account....BUT.
- The Game Master has Fiat. What they say goes.
- If the players decide, individually or collectively that they cannot accept this, then, they can, and should, move on to another table of gamers, with no hard feelings in any direction, for any reason. Some games just don't work out. We've been in hundreds of games, and they all end, for good reasons or bad. The hobby of gaming is about fun and social activity, not drama, agendas, and stress. We're all adults here (sort of), so let's act like it.
- AKA: Gaze Attack
- A gaze special attack takes effect when foes look at the attacking creature. The attack can have any sort of effect, see each writeup for details. While the gaze attack power is active, each opponent within the range of that gaze attack must attempt a saving throw each round at the beginning of his or her turn in the initiative order. Only looking directly at a creature with a gaze attack leaves an opponent vulnerable. Opponents can avoid the need to make the saving throw by not looking at the creature, in one of two ways.
- Averting Eyes: The opponent avoids looking directly at the creature, instead looking at it out of the corner of the eyes in fleeting glimpses, watching its shadow, tracking it in a reflective surface, etc. Each round, the opponent has a 50% chance to avoid having to make a saving throw against the gaze attack. The creature with the gaze attack, however, gains Partial Concealment (missing on a Natural 6 or less) against that opponent.
- Wearing a Blindfold: The foe cannot see the creature at all (also possible to achieve by turning one's back on the creature or shutting one's eyes). The creature with the gaze attack gains Total Concealment (missing on a Natural 12 or less) against the opponent.
- A creature with a gaze attack activates the power as described in the ability.
- Since they are based on vision, gaze attacks can affect creatures with line of sight but not line of effect, even including beings that are ethereal, Cloistered, Displaced, or Exiled. The creature with the gaze attack does not need to know an enemy is near: the saving throw is based upon the actions of the enemy creatures, not the actions of the creature with the gaze attack.
- A creature is immune to gaze attacks of others of its kind unless otherwise noted. Allies of a creature with a gaze attack might be affected. All the creature's allies are usually considered to be averting their eyes from the creature with the gaze attack, and have a 50% chance to not need to make a saving throw against the gaze attack each round.
- A creature which is hardened against something takes half damage from it. Many creatures are only hardened against precision damage, for example, rather than being completely immune to it (e.g. oozes, incorporeal creatures, elementals, etc.).
- AKA: HD
- AKA: HP, hp, hits
- Hit Points are a numerical representation of how tough a creature is. In Epic Path, the only way to defeat a monster, player, or any other creature, is to reduce their hit points to zero or less.
- Hit points are depleted by damage rolls, and replenished by cures, heals, and fast healing (aka, regeneration). In combat, skill challenges, or due to falls, collisions, bad environmental conditions, and lots of other things, damage is rolled and applied to creatures hit points. This is a core mechanic which imparts risk to players and pretty much everybody else. If your hit points are reduced to zero or less, creatures generally die immediately (unless the GM says otherwise) and players get the joy of being helpless and making death saves. If you die, you are dead, which is bad. But fear not! Unlike real life, mortality can be purchased in-game.
- Hit points are only applicable to creatures, not objects. Golems, despite being made things, are creatures. Doors, despite being made things, are objects. Hitting a door with a sword and doing a thousand hit points will not damage that door in the slightest. See Breaking Objects for how to deal with that pesky door.
- AKA: Waiting, Lurking, Biding your time
- Also see Readying an Action, below.
- AKA: Immune
- A creature which is immune to something takes no damage from it. (See also: Hardened) Creatures with no discernible anatomy are often immune to flanking, for example. Immunity is a VERY strong defense, and is usually narrow in scope or limited in duration. GM's can also levy immunity to creatures that are important to the story but not pugnacious, so that their players (who are often famously aggressive murder-hobo's) don't accidentally derail important story arcs. For example, the King on his throne may have Immunity to all damage as long as he stays there while court is in session. In no cases should any creature ever have comprehensive immunity and any significant ability to harm the players in combat. That's just unfair.
- As an example of 'blanket immunity' that shouldn't exist, few creatures should ever be always-immune to precision damage (unless that is their schtick), since it essentially takes several classes out of the fight entirely. Similarly, immunity to magic should probably be represented by Spell Resistance instead of immunity.
- AKA: I'm hurt, It's hurt, Not Bloodied Yet
- If any creature, Player or Monster, has taken at least one Hit Point of Damage, then if Fog of War is being enforced, they should announce that they are Injured. Note that damage to temporary hit points does not count as an injury.
- AKA: Cure spells, Heal Spell, curing, healing
- Some effects require effective communication between your character and 'other things'. If you cannot talk to monsters or NPC's in some fashion when using such abilities, the effect you want to place does not work.
- The effects that may be language dependent are enormously varied, and can include spells or other class abilities, racial or feat abilities, and quite commonly, skills. On top of that, the GM can (as always) rule by fiat that you need to talk fluently if you want to persuade those guards that it was merely a coincidence that you are standing underneath that open window.
- Refer to the abilities for language dependency, and if things are not clear, the GM is the final arbiter.
- Despite the 'lay-m' name, this is actually an interesting topic...at least to us, who would try and make that terrible pun work. Sorry.
- In a fantasy game such as Epic Path, magic is present to a larger or smaller degree. The GM chooses how much magic is available in the game setting for their campaign.
- In Epic Path, we have many, many Magic Items defined with potent effects on the nuts and bolts of the game mechanics. This is how magic items make your character stronger, in game terms.
- But in terms of world building and story-telling, is that the only kind of magic that there is?
- In a highly magical setting, it does not! Why aren't there magical cooking pots and house-warmers and coolers and sanitation devices? Labor-saving devices are ubiquitous because they're AWESOME. Why wouldn't there be similar things in a magical world?
- Thus, lay magic. Lay magic items are not weapons or armor or crystal balls, they don't really make your character much 'strongler' in the game mechanics, they exist to be convenient and make the game world feel more 'fleshed out'. They are always completely optional, and the GM rules if any or all or none of them are available.
- Ask your GM before you buy any of these, and see just how awesome, or scary, your game world is!
Lays a Charge
- Spell effects, and occasionally supernatural abilities, can sometimes lay a charge, either on their target, or on the caster who cast the spell or used the ability. When something lays a charge, it either affects the subject with an Arcane Bonus, a Divine Bonus, or a Dual Charge bonus. The term lays a charge refers to the fact that one of these bonus types is now in use by the subject, usually because they were the recipient of some buff effect. As a result, subsequent effects that would apply the same bonus type will not stack, even if they are attempting to adjust totally different character attributes. As soon as a new charge is placed upon your character of the same type as an existing charge, you must immediately either choose to replace your existing charge with the new one, or keep your existing charge.
- Effects that lay a charge don't work the same way as normal bonus type stacking. Normal bonus types can't be stacked with themselves, but only if they're trying to affect the same character attribute (for example, you can't add together two different enhancement bonuses that improve your armor class; you can only have one enhancement bonus affecting a given character attribute). You can have two enhancement bonuses, as long as they are being applied to different attributes (i.e. one is boosting AC, and one is boosting to-hits).
- When a spell or ability lays an Arcane Bonus (for example), you cannot get a second Arcane Bonus applied to you for any reason, even if both charges affect totally different attributes. You can only have one, regardless of which attributes they are affecting. The same is true of Divine Bonuses. However, you can have an Arcane Bonus and a Divine Bonus present at the same time, even if they are both affecting the same character attribute. The exception to this rule is you cannot get two versions of the same buff spell (i.e. that share the same spell name, like Stoneskin (Druid Spell) (which lays a divine bonus) and Stoneskin (Sorcerer/Wizard Spell) (which lays an arcane bonus); these cannot be stacked, even though they lay different bonus types).
- A Dual Charge overwrites both the Arcane Bonus and the Divine Bonus at the same time, assuming you accept it, meaning if you have an effect on you which lays a Dual Charge, you may not accept any effects which Lay and Arcane, Divine, or Dual Charge, unless you overwrite your existing Dual Charge effect.
- AKA: Line area, line attack
- AKA: Slot, Slots, Body Areas
- A Magic Item Slot is a realism rule to keep people from using Magic Items in weird and nonsensical ways. In a nutshell, Magic Items are 'keyed' to only fit in certain places on a player character's (imaginary) body. You can only wear Armor in the Armor slot, you can only wear a hat in the head slot, etc. The key thing is, you can only ever wear ONE magic item in each slot, which can make the process of working out how to make all the 'stuff' you want to use 'fit' onto your character a bit of a challenge. Of special note is the Wielded Slot, also known as your hands. Working out what your character is holding, when, under the stress and confusion of a battle or a skill encounter can make for some tense moments at the table!
- AKA: Manaburn, Mana burn, Manaburning, Burning, 'die, die, die'
- AKA: Melee combat, melee fighting, melee
- Combat is a very common thing in Epic Path, and one of the most common sorts of fighting is 'melee combat'. Melee combat involves moving adjacent to an enemy (usually a monster), and then using a melee weapon to make an attack roll. Melee weapons are wielded weapons or unarmed attacks, which either have no range at all, or only have a very small amount of Reach.
- Melee Attacks are any attacks made in melee range, ie, adjacent to or within a square or two of an enemy. Melee Attacks tend to be risky, since, by definition, you are close to the enemy and they can easily attack you back, you are often close to more than one enemy and they might decide to gang up on you, if you try to move in melee you often provoke 'free' attacks of opportunity, and melee attacks do not suffer from range penalties, so they hit more often.
- Melee Attacks can also do a LOT of damage, and many character classes (and monsters!) gain bonuses to attack damage in melee range. Being a melee combatant also places you 'in the front lines', and thus your fine friends might affectionately start calling you a 'meat shield'...which is obviously very flattering.
- Compare and contrast to Ranged Attack
Melee Touch Attack
- AKA: Ouch.
- This is a Touch Attack that is only usable in melee range as a melee attack.
- AKA: Meta Gaming, poor Roleplay, no roleplay, Being super boring at the table
- Epic Path is designed as a classical tabletop RPG, meant to be played by a group of players and a Game Master. The term 'RPG' stands for Role-Playing Game (not rocket propelled grenade, which would be a very different sort of experience).
- What is a Role-Playing Game? Well, each player plays a defined Role, much like an actor in a play is pretending to be someone else, their character.
- Each player writes up their own Player Character (with the GM's permission), which is supposed to be their 'alternate persona' while they are at the gaming table. In a strict interpretation of this mechanism, a player should ALWAYS speak and behave 'in character' while at the gaming table. In such a strict Role-Playing table, the game is akin to an improvisational play, and every player is an actor, filling the role of their character. The players, as actors, should only make decisions and take actions based upon what their CHARACTERS could know, in-game, not what THEY know.
- For example, under strict role-play, the characters are not aware of game mechanics. They are not aware of their Armor Class numbers, Saving Throw bonuses, or Hit Points. They just know that some people and monsters are harder to hit, or luckier, or harder to kill, than others.
- Now, this can be very fun, but from the perspective of Role Playing, ANY knowledge of the game rules is considered to be 'meta knowledge'. IE, things that the PLAYERS have to know in order to play, but that the CHARACTERS cannot know, to maintain their immersion in the 'play'.
- If, on the other hand, the players don't really like or care about playing pretend at the gaming table, and instead, just use their characters as a collection of stats and numbers to kill bad guys, while having full knowledge and awareness of the game mechanics and talking to each other about their Armor Classes, hit points, etc, this is considered Meta Gaming, or, NOT pretending to be someone else.
- This is a hotly contested topic, with some people believing that Role Play should be required (it's in the very name, after all), and others just not being very 'into' it.
- We strongly recommend that the GM and the Players have a brief discussion about the level of Role Play versus Metagaming that is expected at the table. At a minimum, we recommend that the GM enforce Fog of War rules at the table, meaning that the players are not allowed to read any monster entries unless they make lore checks, and the hit points of the monsters and all players are private, with only the 'Unharmed, Injured, Bloodied, Unconscious, Dead' states being communicated between the players and the GM.
- We find that most tables eventually settle into a comfortable blend between Roleplay and Metagaming, with some player statements made 'in-character' and some 'out-of-character'. The GM should ask the players to clarify any and all statements made at the table if anything is unclear. We strongly encourage at least SOME roleplaying at every table, because that is just super fun stuff, but each group must seek their own balance as a consensus.
- The important thing is to have fun, and if roleplaying and metagaming both lead to fun, then that's fine with us!
- 'Mind Affecting' is a realism rule adjudicated by the GM. It is a way in which the GM may rule that some things just can't be affected by some effects.
- As an example, would an Orc be affected by an Illusion? Almost certainly! Would a Flesh Golem be affected by an Illusion? Hmmm. That gets a bit less clear. Would a stone golem be affected by an illusion? Uh.... Would a magically powered trap be affected by an illusion? Probably not.
- Mind Affecting is a way in which the GM can rule out things that just don't make sense in their game world. Can the Bard give a buff to a magical trap? Does that enchantment spell work against a magic talking mirror? Does a fear spell work against an ooze?
- Each GM makes this judgement call based on their game world. In all cases, the GM should strive to be fair and even-handed, as much as they can. Of course, the GM doesn't HAVE to be, but their players are also their friends, so try to be a decent sort... as you try to kill them....
- Mindless is a realism rule, intended to allow the GM to rule out things that just 'make no sense' in their game world. It is closely related to 'Mind Affecting' (See above).
- Some monsters in the game are deliberately described as mindless, meaning they have no appreciable Intelligence score. Mindless creatures are frequently immune to mind-affecting effects, but all such interactions are adjudicated by the GM on a case-by-case basis, depending upon their game world.
- As an example, many Zombies and Skeletons are 'mindless' and thus would be good candidates to be unaffected by 'mind-affecting' illusions and enchantments. Now, in Epic Path most illusions and enchantments also have hard-defined damaging effects, so at a minimum the damage would still hurt such monsters, but more subtle effects might or might not.
- Indeed, some Patterns ADD a mind to the underlying Monster, just to confuse things further, and beyond there, the GM may decide by fiat that all zombies in their world are inhabited by the tormented screaming soul of the former inhabitant of that body, helpless to stop their decaying flesh as it stumbles, eats, and murders. Just to really turn the horror up to '11'.
- So, it really comes down to what the GM decides is the situation in their world, on a case-by-case basis. Be nice to your GM! Snacks and compliments may not help, but they can't hurt.
- AKA: five minutes, an hour, undefined time, between combats, Between Adventures
- A 'minute' in the Real World is easily defined, you just check your watch, or phone.
- A 'minute' in the game? Not nearly so clear cut! Time in the game is almost impossible to keep track of. A combat usually lasts less than a minute in-game, but might take three hours to dice out from start to finish in real life. Sleeping for a Full Night's Rest usually takes ten hours in-game, but is frequently resolved in a few minutes in Real Life. A month might pass with a few sentences from the GM, but a single fight might take a whole day to dice out.
- So, when the game refers to 'a minute', or 'five minutes' or 'an hour', what it means is that the event is resolved as quickly or as slowly as is required, but it does not affect the duration of spell effects or some magic item effects at all. If a spell effect lasts 'until you take a full night's rest', then that spell effect stays up until you declare a full nights rest, no matter how many hours or days or weeks may go by in the Real World.
- This may be a bit confusing at first, but once you get used to it, it makes things MUCH simpler.
- AKA:Verbose Blueprint
- If you want to write up an 'official' Epic Path monster, then the Monster Blueprint is the wiki template you use to do it.
- AKA: Lore, Lore Roll, What the heck IS that thing?
- Using the Fog of War rules, players are not supposed to read any monster entries while they are gaming, and really, not at all. (Of course, we all know that people peek, and that's what metagaming versus roleplaying discussions are for.)
- During the game, players may make skill checks against various Knowledge skills to learn more about the monsters they face. This can be EXTREMELY useful, as knowing about a monster's terrible ability BEFORE it uses it on you can be very, very useful. Depending upon how well the player makes their lore roll, they may learn a little bit about the monster, or a whole lot.
- AKA: Monster Template, Custom Monsters
- Monster Patterns are 'extra bits' that can be added to standard monsters to create variants of those monsters. There are LOTS of Patterns available, so that the GM can never use the same monster twice, or, have 'themed' adventures, or tribes of bad guys.
- Fire Orcs, Shadow Hobgoblins, Hate-Filled Gnolls, the possibilities are (nearly) endless!
- AKA: Role, Roles, Heavies, Threats
- Roles are 'performance packages' made by multiplying a monster's hit points and damage, and then making them count as two monsters (or more, or less) rather than one. Roles are how you can have the whole party fight a single Dragon, and it's still a tough fight.
- AKA: Moving, Movement
- In Epic Path, a Multiplier is any effect which takes the result of a die roll (often a damage roll) and then multiplies it by some amount. Probably the most common example of a Multiplier is the Critical Multiplier, which ranges from x2 to x4 in most cases. Probably the second most common multiplier is cases of Vulnerable and Defenseless.
- Now, where this gets interesting is the way in which different multipliers 'stack up' with each other. In a nutshell, multipliers are additive, not multiplicative.
- What does that mean?
- If a monster (or player!) is subject to an effect to which two or more multipliers apply, the multipliers are added together, then multiplied by the base effect, not all multiplied together.
- As an example, suppose a player is using a weapon with an x4 critical multiplier, made of bladesilver, and they land a critical hit against a monster which is Defenseless against Silver, meaning they take double damage from bladesilver attacks.
- Does that attack do eight times normal damage? No, even though that would be cool. Double damage (x2) times a x4 crit sounds like it should be x8. But instead, the multipliers are ADDED, then that sum is multiplied times the base result. In this case, the Defenseless against Silver (x2) multiplier is added to the x4. So, this critical hit with a silvered weapon does x6 damage (x2 + x4).
- That's still pretty spectacular! Well done!
- AKA: Ah, crud.
- A natural 1 is when the actual die roll of a D20 turns up the lowest possible result, or, a 1. Natural 1's only apply to D20's. In Epic Path, a natural 1 is always bad. In combat, it is always a miss. A 1 on a skill roll or saving throw always fails, no matter how good you are. There is no fumble mechanic in Epic Path. We find that an automatic failure is plenty of punishment for a bad roll. If your GM imposes a fumble mechanic, then that's on them.
- Natural 1's and their beloved cousins, natural 20's, function as hard randomizers and bypass bands. The core mechanic of this game is the D20 roll, and no matter how much you try, there is always a chance, with every roll, that things will go very well, or, very poorly. This is why we play, after all!
- AKA: A TWENTY!, Natch!
- A 'natural result' is the actual number rolled on a D20, before any modifiers. Natural 20's can only occur on D20 rolls, no matter how many times you roll that darned D12 by mistake. (We've ALL done it.)
- Natural 20's in Epic Path are always good. In combat, a natural 20 always hits, for example. Natural 20's are related to but different than the threat range (or critical range) of a weapon. A natural 20 always hits, and usually threatens a crit, as well, but crits must still be confirmed, and it is possible to roll a natural 20, hit, but then miss the confirmation roll. It is also common for the threat range to be wider than just a 20 (such as 19-20), and if you roll a number inside the threat range of your weapon (say, a 19), but that result would usually miss your target, then that is counted as a critical hit, and you get to roll a confirmation die. Yay you!
- If you are using an electronic die roller (see 'Dice', above), a natural 20 is the base result coming up as a 20 before any modifiers are added or removed. If your die roller won't report the base result, than you cannot claim the sweet, sweet rewards of that lucky roll, so buy some dice.
- AKA: Bite attack, claw attack, wing buffet, tail slap, bash, claw/claw/bite
- Many creatures use natural attacks instead of weapons during combat, relying on their teeth, claws, and other parts of their own body to inflict harm on their foes without the use of weapons or magic. Such monster attacks are defined in their Monster blueprint, and will have the unique effects described for each monster. If a player character is granted a natural attack by an ability, spell, or other effect, it is resolved as an unarmed strike unless otherwise defined, and does not normally provoke an attack of opportunity.
- AKA: NPC, Constituent Monster
- A Non-Player Character (or NPC) is any non-Monster interactive being 'in-game'. The classic NPC is the surly blacksmith, smarmy shop-keep, winsome barmaid, or smiling tavern keeper. IE, other 'people' in the game-universe who need to exist for the story to move forward, but whom the players do not control.
- By fiat, ALL NPC's are the province of, and are fully under the control of, the GM. Most NPC's exist only as story-telling elements, and are completely under the control of the GM, and may be fleshed out with as much (or as little) background detail as the GM wishes.
- If the story takes a turn, and an NPC must become involved in a game-defined encounter with the player characters, the GM may use the Constituent Monster from the Bestiary to give that entity actual game mechanics, for as long as is needed.
- Proficiency and non-proficiency are related to the martial habits of wearing armor, wielding shields, and wielding weapons.
- In brief, wearing a suit of armor, or properly using a shield, or a weapon, is more complicated than it looks. Sure, anybody can pick up and swing a Flamberge, and anybody can strap on a suit of plate mail, but how WELL you do that depends on training.
- Many classes grant proficiency in some or many categories of armor, shields, and weapons 'for free'. On top of that, characters can take feats to learn proficiency with any armor, shield, or weapon, if they wish. But why would characters spend those precious feats?
- Non-proficiency penalties.
- If you attempt to wear or use armor, shield, or weapons you do not know how to properly, proficiently, wear or use, you suffer a -4 (or larger!) penalty to many, many D20 rolls, such as to-hit rolls and/or skill rolls. This is a large, painful penalty.
- These non-proficiency penalties are why Fighters like plate mail so much, and why Rogues do not.
- AKA: Recurring Damage, Bleeds, Ruptures
- In Epic Path, damage is roughly sorted into two broad families, immediate damage, or ongoing damage.
- Indeed, healing is also available in immediate and ongoing flavors, (see Persistent Healing) and the difference between the two can be important.
- Ongoing damage is almost always the result of environmental effects, or the status conditions Singed, Burned, Immolated, Bleed or Rupture. Immediate damage is almost always the result of a Damage Roll, generated by an Attack Roll, or a class ability, racial ability, magic item, etc.
- Ongoing damage continues forever, until you die, or until you make it stop. This is pretty ominous, so pay attention. This is why environmental damage can be so surprising and deadly for the unprepared. Environment damage can be VERY difficult to make stop. You can't just make a burning desert colder, after all. If the ongoing damage is caused by a status condition, it can usually be ended by one of several remedies (depending on the severity of the condition), such as casting spells like Restoration.
- Immediate damage is 'once and done'. You take one dose of it after an attack roll or the use of an ability. Of course, there can then be another attack made against you, so there is that issue, but at least you can usually fight back.
- AKA: Adventurers, Adventuring Group, Adventuring Troop, Group, Heroes, The Good Guys, Protagonists
- No, in Epic Path this doesn't refer to a bangin' celebratory event with music and adult beverages...or maybe it does! Every game is different, after all.
- Collectively, 'the party' refers to the player characters 'in-game'. Oftentimes, players will give themselves a collective name, such as 'The Grimholders' or 'Nein-Fold'. The concept of 'The Party' is just a convenient way to distinguish all the player characters from that mighty and wise source of All Else, the GM.
- AKA: PC, Player, Hapless Patsy suffering the whims of a Mad Tyrant
- A Player Character is the 'in-game' persona of one of the players of Epic Path. Distinguished in that a PC has an individual source of free will and the agency in-game to perform actions as they decide. This implies, of course, that they are also responsible for the in-game repercussions of those actions, so try not to go on too many murder-hobo rampages, okay?
- Opposed by Monsters, aided and abetted by Non-Player Characters (NPC's).
- AKA: Ongoing Healing
- Physical damage is Hit Point damage inflicted by a tangible, physical thing. There can be common, uncommon, or rare sorts of this damage, depending upon exactly how weird and bad the source is. Getting hit with a plain old rock is usually bludgeoning damage. Getting hit with a razor-sharp flake of shattered obsidian might be hacking, gnashing, or ripping damage, even though Obsidian is just a fancy rock. Getting hit with a colossal block of siege stone driven at nigh-invisible speed by a Thundergonne might inflict Fracturing, Mutiliation, or Obliteration damage, because, well, yeah, it's still a rock, but DANG.
- AKA: Requirements, qualifications, 'pre-req's'
- Many, many features of game play in Epic Path have prerequisites, which is a fancy word that says you have to have thing 'A' before you can legally take thing 'B'. This is a very common thing in class features, feats, and skills. Note that in Epic Path, all prerequisites are INCLUSIVE. This means that you must have the thing required, or more. If you want a feat that requires you to have Level 6 to get, that does not mean you must take that feat at exactly level 6, and if you don't then you can never take it. If you are level 23, then your character level INCLUDES level 6 automatically, as well as every other level up to 23. You may always take a game feature that has a pre-req as long as you are that good, or better.
- AKA: Irresistible Damage
- Primal Damage is The Bad Stuff. Ravening blue-white rays of destruction, the direct gaze of an angry God, poison distilled from the brain fluid of a Sphinx Erudite, bathing in the Heart of the Sun, the hurtful whispers of a Bad Star...you know. Really Bad Stuff.
- Primal Damage is both Energy and Physical, and it is not common, uncommon, or rare. Primal damage is in its own unique category, in that it is irresistible. Hardened or Immune means nothing to Primal damage, because it is coded to go around all forms of resistance. There is no such thing as DR/Primal, because by definition, Primal damage is irresistible.
- Primal damage is the 'bypass band' for Damage Resistance, just like touch attacks, critical threats, and natural 20's are the bypass bands for Armor Class. Since damage resistance is quite a bit weaker than Armor Class, Damage Resistance is more reliable.
- Primal Damage is quite rare, and if something is inflicting Primal, you can be certain that you are involved in Something Major. Better hope you can hack it!
- AKA: Main Attack, Preferred Attack, Most Common Attack
- Used in reference to a Monster, a Primary Attack is the monster's most often used or most preferred attack method. It is often not the hardest-hitting thing they can do, but attacks which are stronger often have drawbacks of some sort, such as it's usable only a few times per day, or it hurts the monster, or it does bad collateral damage, etc.
- A Monster's Primary Attack is usually what they make Attacks of Opportunity with.
- In Epic Path, there are many, many playable character races, or, intelligent races that possess the Spark of Civility, that argent inspiration that makes them not-a-monster.
- Every race has a dozen or so traits available to the player who chooses that race. There is usually one or two or three traits that every member of that race gets, and then there are two lists, Major Racial Traits and Minor Racial Traits. During character creation, the player should choose and record ONE Major Trait, and ONE Minor Trait on their character sheet. Players should remember their racial traits, and be mindful of them as they roleplay their character.
- AKA: Shooting, projectile weapon attack, thrown weapon attack, splash weapon, Spellcasting
- Combat is a very common thing in Epic Path, and one of the most common sorts of fighting is 'ranged combat'. Ranged combat entails moving on the battlefield so that you are distant from an enemy, but you have both line of sight and line of effect to that bad guy. You can then make a ranged attack roll with a wielded thrown weapon or projectile weapon, or, you can use a class feature to make an attack at a distance. By far the most common class feature used to attack at a distance are Spells.
- Ranged attacks can be risky, because they provoke attacks of opportunity from melee attackers if they can reach you. Ranged attacks can also be safe, because they frequently have very long ranges, and you can safely attack from way beyond melee range. Just be aware, however, that in Epic Path many, many monsters have ranged attacks just like you do, and monsters can all concentrate their fire on a single ranged attacker if they wish.
- As a result of this, most ranged attackers really want there to be at least some melee combatants in the party, so that those melee fighters can close to melee range with the monsters and thus discourage them from shooting back at the ranged combatants. This is one of the the core teamwork elements of the game, and striking the right balance between sturdy melee combatants and hard-hitting ranged combatants in a party can be difficult. In a very real sense, the melee fighters are 'protecting' the ranged attackers, and thus allowing the ranged attackers to concentrate on doing more damage.
- This role of melee is why melee fighters are sometimes referred to as 'meat shields', which is very flattering indeed.
- Compare and contrast to Melee Attack
- AKA: Range band
- Thrown Weapons and Projectile Weapons have an aspect, which is how fast their accuracy degrades with distance. The larger the range increment in the weapon writeup, the further away that weapon can make attacks.
- Every multiple of the range increment number after the first which lies between the maker of a ranged weapon attack and their target inflicts a -2 to-hit on their attack rolls.
- Projectile Weapons require ammo to work and frequently require two hands to use, but tend to have much larger range increments than thrown weapons. On top of that, projectile weapons can make attacks up to ten times their range increment, while thrown weapons can only make attacks against targets up to five times their range increment in feet.
- It is impossible to exceed the range limits of any weapon as dictated by these rules, although some Feats may allow you to add more increments, or reduce the penalties for those increments in various ways.
- Note that it is possible to make attacks at range with class features, the most common of which are Spells. Spells, however, do not suffer from range increments. If you are within the maximum range of a Spell, you are just as easy or difficult to effect, no matter how far that spell effect might reach. If you are one inch further away than the Spell's maximum range, then it cannot harm you.
Ranged Touch Attack
- AKA: Awesome
- A Ranged Touch Attack is a Ranged Attack that also follows the rules of a Touch Attack. This is really nice. You want one.
- Rare (Darkfire, Eldritch, Freezacid, Holy, Quiescent, Soul, Stellar, Sunlight, Tenebrous, Threnodic, Thundercrash, Void)
- Rare (Disintegration, Dissolving, Flensing, Fracturing, Interstice, Laceration, Mutilation, Obliteration, Rot, Spindling, Squamous)
- AKA: Ray Attack, Rays, spelly-kill-o-zaps, Rays are weapons, ray attacks are weapons
- Also see the list of Odd Weapon Quirks, which is interesting and fun. Well, WE think they are.
- AKA:Waiting, Lurking, Biding your time
- Also see Holding an Action, above.
- AKA: Full Night's Rest
- Resting is a realism rule to reflect the time your character spends sleeping and resting during the game. (See also Time.) Note that the PLAYERS should not sleep at the table. There are limits to role-playing. A Rest in Epic Path is always a Full Night's Rest, defined at the handy link above. This game does not have or need a 'short rest', 'pause', or '5-minute rest' mechanic, that function is expected to be taken care of by the players of healers and buffers, or in a pinch, can be filled by the Action Points system during combat.
- During Combat (the most tightly defined type of an encounter), all participants in that combat have a unique turn in the initiative order. Combat proceeds step-wise, each person taking their turn. Each time the initiative makes a full cycle through all participants, that is called a 'round', as you have gone a round of combat.
- Confusingly, a round can also mean everything that a player character or monster can do while it is their time to act during a round. English is rife with such words that have more than one meaning, alas. This use of 'round' is synonymous with a Turn (see below). Players get access to a Standard action, a Move action, a Swift action, and an Immediate action every time their initiative is reached during a combat, and those actions can be combined, degraded, and used in a myriad of ways. See combat (linked above) for details of all this fun stuff.
- In Epic Path, it is common to have abilities, features, magical effects, and many other effects which gain some numeric value by dividing another numeric value by some constant, which is defined in the ability, etc. When you perform such divisions, there is frequently a remainder, or, a leftover bit. What do you do with it?
- In Epic Path, you always drop all remainders, or, round down in all cases. This is the simplest approach, and in the long run, we find it works the best.
- AKA: Save, Fort Save, Reflex Save, Will Save
- When a creature is the subject of a dangerous spell or effect, it often receives a saving throw to mitigate the damage or result. Saving throws are passive, meaning that a character does not need to take an action to make a saving throw — they are made automatically. There are three types of saving throws: Fortitude (used to resist poisons, diseases, and other bodily ailments), Reflex (used to avoid effects that target an entire area, such as fireball), and Will (used to resist mental attacks and spells).
- A saving throw is a D20 roll, adding in your Saving Throw Adjustment for Fort, Refl, or Will. These adjustments are based upon your Constitution, Dexterity, and Wisdom, respectively, and can have many modifiers. Keeping a high saving throw adjustment is a good thing, and many players expend resources to improve these numbers.
- The target number for making or failing a Saving Throw is the Difficulty Class (or DC), which is usually dependent upon the Challenge Rating (or CR) of the the thing making you save. If your D20 roll plus your adjustment EQUALS or EXCEEDS the DC of the effect, then you made your saving throw and will mitigate the effects as described in the exact effect.
- Saving throws are also sometimes just referred to as saves, as in "What is your Reflex Save?".
- AKA: Secondary, claw attack, wing buffet, tail slap, bash
- Used in reference to a Monster, a Secondary Attack is the monster's 'extra' attacks. It's sort of a bonus attack, an extra thing they can throw into their attack rotation when they make a full attack action. Monsters often also gain attacks as special abilities, as if they weren't mean enough already.
- Secondary attacks frequently do less damage or have fewer effects than a Primary Attack, and are usually not the attack they use when they make an attack of opportunity.
- Epic Path has a HUGE number of Languages, of every type and variety. But among those languages, a note must be made of the Secret Languages.
- A Secret Language is not simply an obscure or rare language, or even a difficult language to learn. Secret Languages can be actual encoded cyphers, like Corhiwar, the battle language of the Dark Elves, which literally changes every time it is spoken or signaled. A Secret Language can be a highly slippery and fluid system of slang and innuendo, so situationally dependent that no word spoken ever means the same thing twice, such as Thieves Cant.
- Some Secret Languages are inherently magical, like Druidic. If you do not have a connection to the Green, either through worship or...other means...you literally cannot gain meaning from this language, the sounds devoid of information without the magical connection to enrich them. Therien, the Language Of Lies, is another such 'magical' language, although much more dangerous than even Druidic.
- Some languages exist as structural members of the Universe, actual Deific tools, such as Coept, Graxt, or Enuncia. Such languages are incredibly dangerous, so approach with caution!
- And then there are the...other Secret Languages. Such are too dangerous to even refer too casually, and it is strongly urged that even the most adventurous avoid them.
- AKA: Doesn't matter
- Epic Path is designed to be played on a square grid. This can be sheets of graph paper, large vinyl playing mats, or elaborate custom-made dioramas that are modular and allow many different scenarios to be laid out. We recommend vinyl mats and erasable dry-markers as the minimum play mat setup, and if you have the means and ambition, playing on a diorama is ridiculous fun.
- Now, it is possible to run Epic Path without a table setup, in 'theater of the mind' style, but we find that having at least a sheet of graph paper helps keep everybody on the same sheet of paper.
- If you are playing on a vinyl map or diorama, or even in an electronic gaming map, or just plain old graph paper, how big is everything?
- All creatures in Epic Path have a defined Size. This dictates how many 5-foot squares that creature occupies on a battle mat. See the linked rules for details, and have fun!
- In Epic Path, a Player Character is mechanically defined by their Race and Class. That Race and Class gives various abilities. Class Features are very prominent among those abilities. Characters also frequently purchase Equipment, Weapons, Armor, Shields, and Magic Items.
- In addition, every player character gains access to a number of Feats, little optional powers and abilities that they have taught themselves.
- And lastly, but definitely not least, every player character and monster has access to one or more Skills at some degree of competence.
- A Skill is learned by the player, but unlike a Feat, which is a power or ability, a Skill is a learned trick that the player can perform. The breadth of Skill uses are enormous, and GM's will frequently ask the players to make Skill Rolls to either 'Do Stuff' in the game, or, to try and figure out clues and hints to allow the game to move forward. See the link above for all the dope!
- AKA: Skill Total, Total Bonus
- AKA: Skill Encounter, Encounter, Barroom Brawl, Fancy Ball, Diplomatic Negotiation
- AKA: Ranks, Skill level
- A Skill Roll is the process of using a skill, which entails rolling a D20, plus all your bonuses (listed on your character sheet for each Skill), adding it all up, and applying that against a target number. There can be opposed skill rolls (like Stealth checks) in which your success is the target for others to reach to beat you, or there can be fixed campaign-wide success targets, or there can be custom success targets (such as Lore checks against Monsters to know what they do). In addition, GM's can have Skill Challenges, where the players roll collectively to see if they can 'do things' as a group, such as attend a ball without embarrassing themselves, or whitewater raft while fleeing some orcs, or, sneak into a purple worm's lair.
- AKA: Sp
- Spell-like abilities are magical abilities that work much like Spells, except that Monsters get them. Spell-like abilities are assumed to require 'stuff' like a spell would, but to simplify things, they have no defined verbal, somatic, focus, or material components. At the GM's discretion, a given monster may or may not need to look for components, or they may be assumed to just have them. Spell-like Abilities can imitate nearly any effect that a spell could produce, and typically require a standard action to activate, which provokes an Attack of Opportunity. Refer to the ability's description for details. Most Monster Spell-like abilities are scaled to use Monster stats.
- Spell-like abilities, like spells, immediately end when in an area without magic, such as an Antimagic Field (Sorcerer/Wizard Spell), and cannot be reactivated until the non-magical area is left, or the effect preventing magic is ended. Spell-like abilities are subject to Spell Resistance (SR), unless specifically noted otherwise in the ability's description. Just like spells, spell-like abilities provoke attacks of opportunity from threatening enemies unless the creature activating it makes a caster check to cast defensively (DC 10 + (spell level x 4)).
- Monsters with spell-like abilities are considered to be spell casters outside of combat, able to cast nearly any spell appropriate to their CR that the GM feels the creature might know. Inside of combat, monsters rely solely on their listed spell-like abilities to produce the equivalent of spell effects. That is, even though they may know a wide variety of spells that they can use outside of combat, they can only use the spell-like abilities listed in their special abilities section during combat. Monster spell-like abilities always list the caster check information at the beginning of the ability's description, including the target DC of the check.
- AKA: Death Check, Death roll, death save
- AKA: Bonus stacking
- In Epic Path, it is very difficult to 'stack up' a bunch of buffs (or debuffs, or status conditions). Now, that said, it is still possible to get plenty of stacked bonuses, with the caveat that it is never possible to stack two of the same kind of bonus, unless that Bonus type explicitly allows such behavior (looking at Dodge and Circumstance here).
- The many Bonus Types are laid out above, knock yourself out checking through all that fun stuff!
- AKA: Su
- Supernatural abilities are special abilities which rely on a magical component to operate, but they are not 'cast' like a spell, or spell-like ability. Supernatural abilities can vary wildly in effect, providing offensive, defensive, and/or utilitarian capabilities. They can be passive, always-on, type effects, or triggered by an action. They can have an instantaneous effect, or a sustained effect. Refer to the special ability's description for details.
- Unlike spells and spell-like abilities, Supernatural abilities do not provoke attacks of opportunity from threatening creatures when activated, and they are not subject to spell resistance. However, Supernatural abilities cannot be activated or maintained in areas lacking magic, such as an Antimagic Field (Sorcerer/Wizard Spell). In such an area, the ability immediately ends, and is not able to be reactivated until the creature leaves the non-magical area, or the effect preventing magic is ended.
- AKA: Ambush Roll, Ambush, Surprise Roll, Surprise Round, 'UH OH!'
- A synergy is a special kind of bonus attack, most often caused by spells (but sometimes from other sources, such as the Monk's Rattling Fist class feature), that must be triggered by removing a status condition from an affected monster. If a spell or ability has a synergy effect, it will always list it in the spell or ability's description. If no synergy effect is described, that spell or ability does not have a synergy.
- The way synergies work is the spell (or ability) that lays it is cast on the target monster. In nearly all cases, this will apply a condition to the monster, though it might also inflict some damage. Assuming the monster doesn't resist the condition, the synergy can be triggered by any player action that causes that condition to be removed prematurely. In many cases, the easiest way to do this is to apply a new condition. Since monsters cannot be affected by more than one condition at a time, the new condition replaces the old one. Now that the old one has been removed through a player action, the synergy is triggered. Most synergies just inflict damage, but they can be quite significant amounts of damage, so it can be very advantageous to try to trigger them. Synergy interactions can be complex, and the GM is the final say on any unusual circumstances.
- Note that the character who applies an effect that includes a synergy does not have to be the character that triggers the synergy. Teamwork is encouraged.
- If the monster is able to remove the condition through their own actions, or the condition expires on its own, the synergy is not triggered.
Theater of the Mind
- Epic Path is written with a very high degree of 'crunch' in the rules, IE, lots and lots of things are solidly defined and carefully balanced out against each other. This helps to keep the game balanced, no matter the level of play or how large the party.
- As part of this "rules-and-definitions" approach, Epic Path is designed to be run on a square grid, using counters or miniatures for all players and monsters, with all terrain laid out for everybody to see. This can be tons of fun, with lots of fancy drawings or even fanciful dioramas on the table for people to immerse themselves in.
- But a battle mat is not STRICTLY required to play. The GM and their players may choose to instead simply imagine all the action in their heads, with the GM simply describing the environment, actions, and details of combat as the game progresses. Theater of the Mind is a more flexible way of running combats and indeed, the entire game, but it requires a high level of trust and acceptance between the players and the referee. After all, what the GM is imagining the battle to look like might not match what the players are thinking about! If the players think something different than the GM is thinking, this can lead to...issues.
- In our experience, we find Theater of the Mind to be huge fun, but if there is any confusion between the players and the GM, care must be taken to quickly reach a consensus, or there can be frictions and difficulties at the table. If the GM, or the players, like having things laid out in a solid fashion, good old graph paper, battle mats, and even fancy figures and dioramas, might be a better solution for YOUR game. Epic Path has all the rules needed to be as firmly defined as you want, or you can simply leave aside any or all of those rules and play as you like.
- The important thing is, as always, to have fun. Play how you like! Enjoy!
- AKA: Critical Range, Crit Range, Threat Range, Critical Hit, Crit Chance
- Threat Range is one of the more visible of the Weapon Aspects (see below). Every weapon, with every attack, has a chance to hit for extra damage. This represents where you swing a mace at a bad guy, and by sheer luck, you smash him right in the eye. Ooooh, ouch, that's gotta sting...
- In Epic Path, if you roll a Natural Result on an attack roll (the number on the D20 with nothing at all added or subtracted from it) that falls within the Threat Range of the weapon (plus adders from Magical Properties, Feats, character abilities, etc), than you have rolled a Critical Threat. To see if that is an actual Critical Hit, you then have to roll a Confirmation Roll, which is a second D20 roll you must roll for each Critical Threat. If the result on the confirmation roll ALSO is high enough to have hit the monster, then the damage that blow inflicts (and ONLY that attack) is multiplied by the Critical Multiplier of the weapon being used, with any adjustments.
- This critical mechanism serves as a second-order randomizer for combats. It is a way to make every die roll important. And, it can be VERY important, as those Crit Multiples can reach x4 damage, and that's a hard hit indeed, ESPECIALLY when you consider that ALL MONSTERS also have a crit chance. A Threat or a Killer with a Bite attack that rolls a critical hit can inflict enough damage to hurt or even outright kill characters who thought they might be relatively 'safe'. Always be nice to your Cleric!
- AKA: Experience Tier, Class Tier, Campaign Milieus
- A tier is a 5-level progression within a character class. Each character class is divided into seven tiers: Courageous Tier (levels 1-5), Intrepid Tier (levels 6-10), Heroic Tier (levels 11-15), Undaunted Tier (levels 16-20), Valorous Tier (levels 21-25), Mythic Tier (levels 26-30), and Legendary Tier (levels 31-35).
- Multi-classing can only occur between the tiers. That is, you can only change classes when you are transitioning from one tier to another (i.e., as you are leveling up to 6th, 11th, 16th, 21st, 26th, or 31st levels). Because of this, a character is said to 'possess' a tier of a character class as soon as they take the first level of that tier. Once you have taken a tier of a character class, you are committed to that class for the full five-levels of the tier. You cannot change out of it, except through the Reselection process.
- Class features gained during a tier cannot be gained outside of that tier. That is, if you multi-class into Sorcerer at 16th level, skipping levels 1-15, you do not gain any of the class features listed in those earlier tiers. Each tier explicitly lists the class features you gain when you take that tier. In many cases, the essential class features, such as a Sorcerer's ability to cast spells, are listed in each experience tier, thus it, too, is explicitly listed for that tier. Even if you get a class feature that was carried forward from an earlier tier, you still only get the new things from that class feature, relevant to the levels you are now taking. That is, even though you get Sorcerer spells as a new 16th level Sorcerer, you only get the spells listed for level 16. Similarly, while a Sorcerer's Bloodline class feature is explicitly listed at level 16, you don't get any of the level 1 through 15 powers, spells, or feats, for that bloodline, if this is the first level of Sorcerer you are taking. See Multi-Classing for details.
- If an ability refers to the number of tiers you possess in a given character class, you are considered to possess a tier as soon as you take even 1 level in that tier. That is, you 'have' that tier as soon as you begin leveling into it. This means that at 1st level, you possess 1 tier in that class. If you have 6 class levels of the same class, you have 2 tiers in that class. If you have 11 class levels in a given class, you have 3 tiers. 16 class levels in the same class equal 4 tiers; 21 class levels in the same class equal 5 tiers; 26 class levels in the same class equals 6 tiers; and 31 class levels in the same class equals 7 tiers.
- Keeping time in a tabletop role playing game is interesting. In the game rules, there's really no way to tell how long 'a minute' takes. If a spell has a duration of '5 minutes per caster level'... when does it expire?
- The answer is, it expires when the GM says it does!
- In Epic Path, we have tried to make as many of these questions as simple as possible, and as a result we have introduced the concept of 'stateless time'. Many spell effects, magic item effects, etc, do not measure their effects in terms of impossible-to-define 'minutes' or 'hours'. Instead these effects last until Something Happens in the game which is solidly defined.
- Spell effects, magic items, etc, are usually defined so that they last until the end of an encounter, or the character takes a full night's rest.
- All other times are defined as full days (or longer), or as undefined 'minutes or hours' that happen as often as the GM feels like they should.
- Most skill challenges are defined as encounters, and thus, spell or other effects end when the challenge is resolved. Exactly how much time is required can vary between a minute, to five minutes, to an hour, or a few hours.
- As examples, sneaking out the back door of a tavern to avoid an angry barmaid might require a minute, in which time the party must make a whole slew of skill rolls.
- The party sneaking into a hostile castle through a postern gate might require five minutes.
- Attending a formal dinner at the mayor's house might require an hour, or two, or three.
- Tracking a party of hobgoblins across a fetid swamp might take several hours, or even a full day.
- Such matters mean that spell and magic item effects can last for variable lengths of time, but they always last until the end of an event of some significance.
- A touch attack is anything which does not need to blast through any armor the target is wearing, but instead, can work right through that armor. The classic example is an electricity attack made against metal armor. Lightning can be easily conducted right through metal, right?
- In Epic Path, this mechanic is simulated by the fact that touch attacks get a +4 bonus to hit, AND get a much larger bypass band, in that they always hit on a natural roll of a 17 or better (rather than the wonderful Natural 20 that everyone gets.)
- Touch attacks are pretty cool, or, if the bad guys have them, pretty unpleasant.
Total Party Kill
- AKA: TPK, Wipe, Wipeout, Disaster
- This is an encounter which Goes Bad. Needless to say, this is a difficult situation for most GM's, but it is a scenario which can often arise. After all, being an Adventurer is a risky lifestyle.
- Most TPK's are accidental. The GM sets up a situation, and through some combination of bad luck, bad decisions, and bad circumstances, things get WAY out of hand. Many difficult encounters are designed 'as close to the edge' as possible, because the existence of risk is a powerful way to make game play more exciting. Unfortunately, if the GM is pushing their table using this mechanic, every now and then, things go badly.
- TPK's often develop with shocking speed, as a single key player drops unexpectedly, or an action has consequences WAY worse than anticipated. Spellcasters accidentally hitting their own party with a heavy-damage spell attack is a common and terrible way for TPK's to develop, or a key melee player positioning themselves in an unexpected way, allowing dangerous monsters access to less durable characters.
- The first thing to do when you are faced with a TPK is to try and catch it before it gets too bad. If the GM sees a wipe developing, this is the time to 'put your thumb on the scale'. Have the ceiling suddenly collapse on the bad guys, a flash flood burst through the wall and sweep everyone away, a monster burrows up through the floor and falls upon the bad guys from behind, anything, to deflect the momentum of the combat and preserve at least a few survivors. Player characters are famously tricky and resourceful, if you can get the combat over with some survivors, they will generally patch themselves up.
- That said, wipes can occur with STUNNING quickness. (Boy, do we know about that....) Watching five players all fail a saving throw at once and drop unconscious or dead in the space of ten seconds is when you earn your chops as a GM.
- First, break character and talk to your table. The odds are, they are as surprised as you are. Call a bathroom break, give yourself a moment to think.
- Now, you can simply have everyone make new characters and start again. There's nothing wrong with that if it's a pickup game. But if the characters are well-established and you're two-thirds of the way through an elaborate campaign, this is less than good.
- Ask your table if they want to continue. If so, make them all ghosts. Or have them wake up in chains, on the way to the slave market. Or have them wake up in a temple, five years later, after their bodies were recovered by questing knights. Just because you've killed the party doesn't mean that the story ends, after all. Give them amnesia, toss in some kick-ass scars, let them know that they owe a 'favor' to an unsavory sort, etc. There are many ways to recover from a TPK that doesn't mean rolling up a new set of characters and allows your campaign, the shared story you are telling with your table, to continue. A few dents and scars build character, after all.
- Above all, don't let it shake you! Trust us, killing your whole table by mistake is no fun, but it happens to everybody, sooner or later. The key isn't that there was a wipe, the key is how the GM and their players recover from it.
- AKA: Round
- During Combat (the most tightly defined type of an encounter), all participants in that combat have a unique turn in the initiative order. Combat proceeds step wise, each person taking their turn. Each time the initiative makes a full cycle through all participants, that is called a 'round', as you have gone a round of combat.
- See combat (linked above) for details of all this fun stuff.
- AKA: HOLY MACKERAL
Uncommon Energy Damage
- Uncommon (Desiccation, Fictive, Force, Light, Nascent, Necrotic, Negative, Positive, Psychic, Radiant, Scouring, Stilling)
Uncommon Physical Damage
- Uncommon (Abrasion, Buffeting, Corrosion, Drilling, Falling, Gnashing, Hacking, Poison, Ripping, Rugosic, Winded)
- AKA: Dying, Down, Negative Hit Points, 'Oh, no, help me!'
- If a Player Character has lost all of their Hit Points, they die...eventually. As a Realism rule, and an effort to make the game a bit less heartless for beloved characters, player characters have a small 'window of grace' in which they can have less than zero hit points and still not die. See the link above for all the nuts and bolts.
- AKA: Unhurt, Uninjured, perfect shape, pristine, just fine
- When any creature (monster or player character) has their maximum allotment of normal Hit Points, they are considered to be Unharmed under the Fog of War rules, which are excellent and everyone should use. Note that is quite possible to have a Status Condition and also be Unharmed, which can create all sorts of interesting situations. Note also that this state is NOT affected by Temporary Hit Points! It is quite possible for a Player Character to be hit by a Monster, suffer damage to some Temp Hit Points they gained from whatever source, and if their actual Hit Points are not affected, they are still considered to be Unharmed! Similarly, if Monsters have Temp Hit Points, and their accumulated damage still has not removed all those Temp Hit Points, that Monster is still considered Unharmed. This can make battles against powerful Monsters with the Legend Role feel quite surreal!
Using Incorrectly Sized Weapons
Check the Weapons page for all the details, you will want to review Iron Grip (Feat) and Vice Grip (Feat), and the Relative Weapon Sizes chart will make this very simple for you. Have fun with your huge weird weapon!
- A creature which is vulnerable to something takes 1.5x damage from it. For example, many undead are vulnerable to positive energy. Fey are nearly always vulnerable to cold iron.
- See also: Defenseless
- Weapons in Epic Path have many, many distinguishing characteristics, to reflect a small amount of the incredible complexity of real weaponry. Now, we're certainly not going to get into the intricacies of Oakeshott typology or anything, but we think that every weapon should be interesting, unique, and fun.
- A Weapon write-up has a LOT of information in it, and we have divided that information into three main categories, Aspects, Qualities, and Properties. (Yes, and there's also dweomermetals, reforging, and feat support for various weapons, but we have to leave SOME stuff for the players to discover.)
- A Weapon Aspect is the basic 'nuts and bolts' of what a weapon IS. It includes the name of the weapon, the Weapon Size and Weapon Handiness of the weapon, the amount of damage it does in small, medium, and large versions of that weapon, the type of damage it does, and a very broad sorting of that weapon into a weapon group, such as Heavy Blades.
- Yes, that's a huge amount of detail, but trust us, compared to the Real World details of weaponry, we've really simplified things a lot!
- Magic Weapons in Epic Path have many, many distinguishing characteristics, to reflect a small amount of the incredible complexity of real weaponry. But Epic Path is a game of EPIC FANTASY, and thus, 'real weapons' are just the starting point for all the incredibly awesome things you can do with weapons.
- If weapon Aspects are what a weapon IS, and weapon Qualities are what a weapon DOES, then weapon Properties are what a magically enhanced weapon CAN BE.
- Weapon Properties are magical enhancements that can be added onto the amazing weapons that exist in Epic Path, and they can turn the intensity of those weapons up to about fourteen, never mind a measly eleven. Flaming swords, vibrating death-blades, swords that decapitate you if you're lucky, all the way up to swords that literally cut holes in reality...all that and lots more can be yours.
- Now, how Epic is that?
- Weapons in Epic Path have many, many distinguishing characteristics, to reflect a small amount of the incredible complexity of real weaponry.
- If Weapon Aspects are the basic nuts and bolts of what a weapon IS, then Weapon Qualities are the details of what a weapon DOES. Different weapons are good at different things, just like a hammer is good at breaking rocks, but is terrible at turning screws. Some weapons don't have any special Qualities, while others have a whole list. All the Qualities of a given 'base' weapon are listed in its weapon write-up.
- Every weapon is unique and interesting, and a lot of that interesting-ness comes from the Qualities the various weapons have. Don't just look for the weapon that has the biggest damage die! We promise, EVERY weapon is pretty amazing. Try something new! You'll like it!
- AKA: Wielded, Wielding, Holding, Equipped, Using, Held in your hands, Magic Item Slot
- There are many items, both mundane and Magic Items, which must be held in the hands of the owner in order to be used. This is mainly a realism rule, to prevent people from owning and using a half-dozen Magic Wands and Magic Rods, a shield, and a dagger, all at once. Keeping track of what your character is holding in their hands seems simple...until you REALLY want to use that Potion, and you realize you're holding your trusty Flamberge.
- AKA: Untamed Wilds, Uncivilized Locale, Middle of Nowhere
- A wilderness is a broad term to describe a natural, unsettled, and uncivilized location. This is a place that either hasn't been touched by the civilized races, or it was never built up to serve any purpose for any race (civilized or otherwise), or it has simply become so overgrown that it can no longer serve the purpose for which it was built. For example, a forest, desert, mountain pass, the bottom of the ocean, etc., are all examples of a wilderness, as long as no creature has tried to carve out a living space, or other purposeful construction, in that location. As soon as tools are applied with the intent to modify the location to serve some purpose, it ceases to be wilderness.
- An edge case is an abandoned town which has been overrun by nature. In this case, if the town is so ruined by nature that it is uninhabitable, even by monsters, then it is certainly a wilderness. If monsters can (semi-comfortably) inhabit it, however, it is more likely a dungeon.
- Note that chopping down a tree in a forest to produce lumber isn't the same as working the location to make it serve a purpose. It can still be wilderness if the lumber is being hauled elsewhere to be used to settle some other location. Extracting resources from a wilderness doesn't make it civilized, any more than removing gold from a dungeon makes that place civilized.
- AKA: Workshop, Shop
- A Workspace is a permanent, fixed, immovable center of study in a given discipline. A Library is similar, but more learned. A Workspace may be a blacksmith's foundry, a carpenters woodshop, a tanners leather shop, a candlers waxwork, a brawlers fighting-pit, a fighters pugilarium, a jeweler's whitesmithy, and any of a thousand other places. Workspaces are useful to those with the Creator (Feat), and such gifted souls can do almost any work in any workspace. Those without the Creator feat need to find a space that is suitable to their desired use. Trying to work on your armor-usage in a lacework shop isn't very useful, although those with the Creator feat can make that work just fine. Those guys are freaks, man.
- The important characteristic of any workshop is permanence and dedicated usage. You cannot, ever, 'makeshift' your way into a proper workshop. Such places require time, months or years of it, and the trappings of Civilization, although not necessarily the 'Spark', which is why monsters often have workshops, too. Using a workshop also requires lots of time, and a dedication of focus such that trying to do workshop activities in a dungeon or in the wilderness is not possible for a Player Character, and Monsters cannot do workspace activities in a Wilderness or in Civilization. Such things as the Field Repair (Feat) exist to cover such eventualities.