Thursday, January 11, 2024

Everybody Brings His Own Fire (GLOG Class: Mesmerist Pathfinder Conversion)

    "All schizophrenics are mad, and none are sane. Their behavior is incomprehensible. It tells us nothing about life and gives no insight into the human condition. There's nothing profound about it. Schizophrenics aren't clever or wise or witty — they make novel remarks, but that's because they are mad. When they laugh at things the rest of us don't, like the death of a parent, they're not being penetrating. They're not wryly amused at the simplicity and stupidity of the psychiatrist, however well justified that might be in many cases. They're laughing because they're too mad to tell what's funny any more. The rewards for being sane may not be very many — but knowing what's funny is one of them."
        - unknown source

    This is the second of my Pathfinder conversions, which I suppose I've been doing in addition to the D&D 5e posts. The Mesmerist is a strange fellow, somewhere between a Gygaxian illusionist and a creature from a nightmare. I like the idea of someone who... well, there's this common delusion, that the eyes of others aren't simple receivers but are somehow transmitting, that it's not enough to close your eyes, to not see its face, but that you must somehow close the eyes of the Basilisk. There's a man out there on the internet who doesn't believe that eyes "see light". He thinks light is projected out of the eyes. He's already answered your common objections, I'm afraid. There's nothing left to do but believe him.
    The idea that it's the being perceived, not the perception, that harms you, it's a bit alarming to me. "Not what goes into the mouth of a man, but what comes out of the mouth", and so forth. Goodnight, goodnight. Full credit to Eos at Nobless Goblige, who invented not only this class but also the d20 system and by extension all of Pathfinder.

Source: Absolute Reality, Joan Miro

Class: Mesmerist

    You are a huckster, a charlatan, a lunatic. You're a cold-reading liar, a soul-killed "psychic" who combines childish trickery with overconfidence with emotional abuse to achieve your wildest dreams. Those white-irised eyes have seen things that should have destroyed you, and have certainly damned you. Now that haunted gaze sees the sorts of things that make people think you're clever. Haven't you read The Snow Queen? You fools think cruelty is a gas, and that hardheadedness is the surest sign of wisdom. I tell you, I don't care how many screams you hear, I don't care how many anguished cries: death is a million times preferable to ten more days of this life. If you knew what was ahead of you — if you knew what was ahead of you, you'd be glad to be stepping over tonight.

    If you have at least one template of Mesmerist, you may wear light armor, and never fumble while using knives, clubs or staves. You gain +1 to reactions on odd-numbered levels, and inflict a +1 penalty to enemy morale rolls for every even-numbered level. The spells of the Orthodox Wizard count as being from your school.

Skills: 1. Bullying 2. Mechanical convection incubators 3. Addiction
Starting Equipment: Cheap suit (as unarmored), flask of holy water (3 doses), flask of fire water (3 doses), spellbook.
  • A Stare, +1 MD, roll for a spell
  • B Suggestion, Mind Palace
  • C Eyelights, +1 MD
  • D Domination,
    At will, you may stare at any intelligent creature you can see. The target is befuddled, and you may force them to suffer a penalty to any save you see them make equal to your [level]. This penalty is doubled for saves v. mind-altering effects. Once per round you may befuddle them such that they take an additional [level] points of damage from a melee attack. Finally, choose one stare improvement from the list below the class features.
    Targets never realize that you are staring at them, and do not remember afterwards. While staring you are not required to maintain unbroken eye contact — you may blink, or briefly glance away to find your footing or pick up an object — but you cannot read a text, scrutinize the workings of a trap, or do anything else that would require significant visual attention. The stare ends when you choose to look away or the target moves out of view for more than a moment. You can only stare at one target at a time, though any number of Mesmerists may stare at the same target.

Implant Suggestion
    You may implant powerful hypnotic suggestions in the minds of friends and allies, and enemies as well if preparation is taken. To do this, you need to first develop the suggestion inside your Mind Palace, and keep it prepared there. You may keep as many suggestions prepared as you have [levels].
    To implant a suggestion you must make direct skin-to-skin contact with the target — a handshake is plenty, though a fatherly pat on the head, or a steady hand on the shoulder that ju-uu-ust brushes the neck with a pinkie or the collarbone with a thumb, will do just as well in different circumstances.
    When you implant a suggestion, it's gone and cannot be reused unless prepared again. You may only have one of your suggestions implanted in a creature at one time, but you may have any number of them extant.
Mind Palace
    When dreaming, drunk, high or otherwise in an altered state, you may project your mind into a construction contained within itself. This construction bears a stark resemblance to an old and comfortable country house, with creaky floorboards, narrow and crooked stairs, ugly paintings on the walls depicting yourself in various costumes, a quiet and somewhat dusty library containing every book you've ever read, a kennel containing your prepared spells, a study where you may prepare suggestions, a hall of statues and mirrors, a dining room set for a feast, and a grand atrium in the center which looks up at a black and starless sky. This is your Mind Palace, made just for you. It's quite empty — not the emptiness of abandonment, or of the open grave, but of anticipation, as if the whole place is holding its breath waiting for the honored guests.
    In the Palace, you may consider your schemes and plans, develop suggestions, prepare spells, read your books, or walk among your collections. The mind may move as the body rests. You can bring willing people to the Palace as guests by sleeping next to them, getting drunk from the same wine, high from the same chemic, etc.

    Study, training and introspection has made your gaze more palpable. Choose three stare improvements now.

    Your mind is as pure and clean as formaldehyde. Even the fools who once doubted you can't deny that for much longer. Gain the CR3 trigger When I next hear you speak and the CR5 effect , I will unflinchingly obey the next simple command I am given. immediately.
    When you and an NPC are off-screen together for more than an hour, you can declare that they have become your thrall. Your thralls behave normally, except they treat your opinion as their opinion, act on your suggestions as they would on their own ideas, and become very offended if someone suggests something negative about your character.
    Maintaining this level of constant control over someone is exhausting. You suffer a -1 penalty to all checks per thrall you control, and you lose at least as many inventory slots as they have HD (plus however many more if their nature is draconic or divine or so forth. DM's call). You may wish to invest in a nice walking stick.
    You may release a thrall at-will, and they will not recall the experience as being out of the ordinary, though it will take you at least a month to recover your vitality. Your thralls are not released upon your death.

Stare Improvements
  • Alluring. Target finds you fascinating, and suffers penalty to initiative checks.
  • Deceiving. Target's ability to detect falsehood fails them. They cannot pierce illusions, and they must save to disbelieve any lie not immediately disproven (no "the sky is green").
  • Disorienting. Target finds their own vision beginning to flash and darken, and suffers the penalty to to-hit rolls.
  • Disquieting. Target becomes oddly frightened, and must pass a morale check to enter darkness or deep water.
  • Oscillating. Target's vision swims, and they perceive only vague movement and colors past 30'.
  • Sapping. Target feels their supernatural abilities weaken, and suffers the penalty to [sum].
  • Stupefying. Target's hands grow clumsy, and they suffer the penalty to skill rolls.
  • Binding. Target's soul grows heavy, and they suffer the penalty to attempts to escape.
  • Dismissing. Target feels uncomfortable and has a desire to leave the situation.
  • Dying. Target knows they are doomed, and the penalty is added to all damage inflicted on them.

Developing Suggestions
    A suggestion has two components: the trigger and the effect. Learning new triggers/effects is one of the essential parts of becoming a more capable Mesmerist. Mesmerists may share any triggers/effects they know by visiting each others' Mind Palaces, and you will likely discover or invent more of them in play.
    Some more complicated triggers/effects require more knowledge of the target's mental state and so have an associated cold-reading number. To implant a suggestion with a CR, you must know at least that many interesting facts about the target. "Interesting facts" are interesting to the target: names of parents, names of children, place of birth, date of birth, significant regrets, major hobbies, occupations, details of love-life — in short, the sort of thing they would be delighted to hear a fortune-teller guess about them.
    Preparing a suggestion takes one hour, plus one hour per CR.

Example Triggers:
  1. When I next roll a save against a spell
  2. When I next experience a mind-altering effect
  3. When I next make eye contact with you
  4. When I next am in darkness
  5. CR1: When I next enter combat
  6. CR1: When I next become angry
  7. CR3: When I become angry
  8. CR1: When I next roll to use a skill
  9. CR3: When I roll to use a skill
Example Effects:
  1. , I will experience agony for one round.
  2. , I will add your [level] to the result.
  3. , my legs will go limp for one round.
  4. , you will be able to see through my eyes for 1 minute per your [level].
  5. CR1: , I and every intelligent creature within 30' will suddenly perceive you as being present.
  6. CR1: , my face will contort into a hideous and demonic mask, forcing saves vs. fear from all creatures unprepared for this.
  7. CR1: , I will gain 1d6 plus your [level] temporary HP.
  8. CR2: , I will enter a violent rage.
  9. CR3: , I will begin to levitate, gaining the ability to float at walking speed in any direction for one minute.

Mesmerist Spells:
  1. Unwitting Ally
    R: sight T: [dice] creatures D: [sum] rounds
    Caster's stare inflicts paranoia and confusion. Each target saves individually; those who fail become unusually aggressive and lose the ability to distinguish friend from foe. For the purposes of spells, abilities, flanking and backstabbing, &c, affected creatures are no one's "ally", everyone's "enemy", and never "willing".
    Affected creatures are still capable of tactical thinking and, perceiving themselves to be surrounded by enemies, will prefer to retreat. If trapped in close proximity to other creatures they will fight desperately to escape.
  2. Animate Rope
    R: touch T: a length of flexible cord, rope or chain no more than [sum]*10' long D: until dispelled
    Target rope lives. It is obedient to the caster's spoken commands, can climb as well as a large python, can stand half its length tall and pull itself up by one end, can knot or unknot itself, and doesn't mind being climbed. When not moving the animated rope is indistinguishable from normal rope, unless in very close proximity to fire, in which case it flinches.
    If cut, the longer piece is the animated rope until reduced below 5' in length.
    Animated rope can't tell people other than its caster apart, can't perceive anything except touch and its master's voice, doesn't understand that other creatures have senses other than touch, can't remember more than [dice] words outside of its caster's presence and is, of course, terrified of fire. Besides these restrictions it is an exceedingly dangerous assassin.
  3. Bungle
    R: touch T: a creature D: [dice] checks or attacks
    Target takes a -[sum] penalty to all checks or to-hit rolls, no save.
  4. Color Spray
    R: projected from self T: a 15' cone D: instant
    A burst of violent color erupts from the caster's fingertips. Creatures in the target cone save or are stunned for a round, falling prone and dropping any held items, then save again or suffer disadvantage on any sight-based checks for [best] rounds. Those with no sense of sight are immune to this spell. Creatures with more than [dice] HD are not stunned. If cast with more than 1MD,  creatures with 1 HD or fewer don't get to save.
  5. Fool's Gold
    R: touch T: [sum] coins, pieces of jewelry or other tiny valuables D: n/a
    Caster lays a curse on target valuables. Creatures receive a penalty to saves v. hostile magic equal to the number of these valuables they have accepted from the caster as payment for goods and services. Valuables given as a gift have no effect, nor do valuables slipped into a pocket against the pants-wearer's knowledge, though the caster may tip outrageously. This effect lasts as long as they keep the objects in their possession: creatures do not need to actually carry the valuables on their person for the effect to occur. Effect ends when target valuables are passed on to a third party.
  6. Blistering Invective
    R: voice T: creatures capable of understanding your tone, if not your words D: instant
    Caster utters a stream of foul language so obscene, menacing and blasphemous that those who hear it who have any reason to suspect it might be directed at them are physically harmed. All such creatures check morale: those who fail flee, and must also save or take [best] damage and be set on fire. Creatures immune to fire must still check morale, but creatures who cannot be intimidated are unaffected by this spell.

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