045 Beyond the Threshold 5: It’s Not Personal

Finally arriving in San Francisco, the agents decide to infiltrate a charity dinner for the Pacific Light Foundation to try to get more information. However, they lose more then they gain.

Featuring Aser, Brian, Matt, Megan, and Phil

Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Hitman”

Visit www.theredactedfiles.com for more information. Support us on Patreon at www.patreon.com/theredactedfiles


July Release Schedule

What are we playing this month?

July 5, 2015 – Beyond the Threshold 5: It’s Not Personal
Finally arriving in San Francisco, the agents decide to infiltrate a charity dinner for the Pacific Light Foundation to try to get more information. However, they lose more then they gain.

July 12, 2015Mysteries of the Ninth World 9: They Forgot the 10-foot Pole
As the adventurers head into the Mechanized Tomb, they work hard to set off every trap possible.

July 19, 2015 – Fear Itself: Invasive Procedures 2
As the horror becomes pervasive, the patients try to band together to escape from the monsters in the dark.

July 26, 2015Mysteries of the Ninth World 10: The Impossible Bard
As they plunge deeper into the tomb, the party finds more traps and even some answers.

Character School – Bards! Part 2

You can find Part 1 here.

So, in the last article we covered the hard portions of the Bard, aka the abilities and options that you have relatively little choice over. This week we take a look at feats and spell choice.

I want to start with feats, as I feel that a good idea of what feats you want will help shape your spell choices as the two can often be used in conjunction. Bards receive only the standard allotment of feats; that is they get them at the standard rate listed in the Pathfinder Core Book with no bonus feats at all, other than a racial bonus feat if applicable. Making it pretty important to make the right choices for the Bard you want to be.

First up are the feats that I look at almost every time I consider playing a Bard. Extra Performance, Spellsong, Lingering Song, and Harmonic Spell. I mentioned Extra Performance in the previous article so we will be skipping that one. Spellsong allows you to hide a bard spell in a perform check, masking your intentions from those looking, but it also allows you to cast spells without breaking your performance mid battle. Damn useful.

Lingering Song lets your bardic performances effects last two rounds beyond your performance’s end. Used judiciously it can allow you to extend the number of rounds that you have available in a day. For example, a first level bard with 6 available rounds of bardic performance can stretch them to 18 effectively by performing for only one round and then dropping the song. This will cause Lingering song to kick in for two rounds, unless another song is performed during that time.

Harmonic Spell is similar to Spellsong in that you can cast spells while maintaining a bardic performance. However, it does not mask that you are casting a spell. Instead it gives you the benefit of maintaining the performance during the round that you cast the spell (1st level or higher) without using a round of your daily allotted bardic performance, again extending the amount that you can use in a day. Secondly, the feat allows you to change the type of bardic performance you are using as a swift action when you cast. For example, you are using Countersong but think a better choice this round would be Inspire Courage. Normally at a low level you would need to use a standard action to change performances, but with Harmonic Spell you can cast cure Light Wounds to get the fighter back into action AND switch to inspire courage without skipping a beat.

After the necessities I gravitate toward the feats that offer a greater flexibility in survival options. This is primarily due to needing to be within 30 feet of my allies while using performances. Dodge comes to mind right off the bat, a +1 to AC is really nothing to sneeze at. It’s a small bonus but AC is AC. Shield Focus, as you can sing and still use a shield. Combat Expertise is good when making ranged or melee attacks. I tend to keep my Bard away from the fighting if possible, or just make it next to impossible to be targeted/hit through spell effects and such. Just something to think about.

Next are the utilitarian feats. Skill focus is great, it really adds to the performance checks that you wish to focus on. And it pairs well with Versatile Performance, mentioned in the first part of this series. You can take it multiple times, I like to take it twice if I can. Once for performance, and the other for something like spellcraft or escape artist. Pushing the selected skills beyond stupid levels of bonuses.

I haven’t really mentioned combat feats other than survival for the reason that I dislike combat as a Bard. But if you do choose to be combat focused, my advice is this. You have to focus on what kind of combat you want to engage in. most Bards have a higher Dex so ranged combat options such as Point Blank and Precise shot should not be overlooked. If you feel gutsy and want to be in the tick of it, Weapon Finesse and Combat Expertise are your best friends. Maybe even go down the path of the “One Hit for All the Glory” path, using Vital Strike when it becomes available.

Finally we reach Spell Choice. Bards, due to the staggering amount of abilities they already have, get a somewhat truncated spell list and max spell level. Also, as they are spontaneous casters, they have a severely limited amount of spells known but a higher than normal amount of spells per day. For those who are looking at playing a Bard as their first foray into a spell casting class it can be a bit difficult to choose the right spells for what they want to do. Everyone has their own tastes, much like drink choices, so here are mine.

0 Level

Summon Instrument – Self explanatory. You summon an instrument to your hand. But the fun part is that they don’t disappear when they leave your hand. Case in point, I once used cowbells to set off traps laid by spiders, letting us know where the spiders were at. Or if you took the Catch Off Guard feat, you are almost never without a weapon. Summon cymbals and toss them with Throw Anything to be a musical Captain America. Dirty.

Light – So many uses. Cast it on a rock and toss it down a hallway to light things up. Or a coin or something that you can easily put in your pocket for an easily concealable light source. Or an arrow to mark you targets on the dark. If you can’t think of at least five different uses for this spell, you’re doing something wrong.

Ghost Sound – One of the few 0-Level spells that scales with your level. I use it to sow chaos, or as a harmonizer when performing. Get creative. Fun times will abound. My favorite use was making “Mommy/Daddy time” moaning sounds to distract an innkeeper.

Prestidigitation – Long name, useful spell. It’s the all purpose minor trick that does little other than flavor your character.

Dancing Lights – Light+. In reality I use it for effects. Like having the lights pop in tune with your song, or when you want to mark target priority for your fighter wizard and such. Just talk it out with your party before hand what the colors/shapes mean. It sometimes comes down to choosing between this OR Light. If you don’t want to have two Light type spells, choose what you think will work best with the way your character operates.

Detect Magic – Yep, you can see magic.

Mage Hand – Who can’t find a use for telekinesis, even if it is only five pounds?

1st Level

Chord of Shards – Can be using during a bardic performance and deals a cone of piercing damage. Pretty solid.

Charm Person – Yup. Bards have it and it can make their job loads easier. Especially if you hide the spell in a performance.

Ear Piercing Scream – One of the few scaling damage spells for the bard at an early level. Only effects one target but it can daze and damage.

Disguise Self – Oh you tricky person you. Deception is fun.

Fumbletongue – Low level anti-caster spell. Situational but neat.

Forced Quiet – Second to Silence for usefulness. Make your fighter clank less when sneaking or stop the guards from raising an alarm. Both equally decent choices.

Hideous Laughter – The bane of fighters. Makes a target unable to act but not helpless, it does scale duration with level. Useful in a bunch of different situations. Like maybe hiding the spell in a song and causing an adviser to fall down laughing for no apparent reason….

Swallow Your Fear – Single target buff at first but for the whole party later. Gives bonuses to STR and CON as well as some other things. Great if you want to use a different performance than Inspire Courage but still want a party bonus.

2nd Level

Alter Self – Like Disguise Self but better. Think of it as a limited wild shape.

Bladed Dash – Great for finishing something off, or some off the cuff combat antics.

Cacophonous Call – The brown note. Inflicts the nauseous  condition on a single target.

Charitable Impulse – Useful both in and out of combat, a “Gimme all your stuff!” spell.

Dust of Twilight – Kinda situational but good, I like to use it to gain a tactical advantage prior to a fight. Especially when my character or allies have dark vision and such.

Hold Person – Paralyze but only works on people. Still, can be an instant win button if used right.

Sonic Scream – Damaging spell that can be used three times in a single casting. And you can act like Banshee from the X-Men. Woot.

Now at this point I’m going to stop as this would become little more than a long list of stuff I think is fun to play around with. With spell selection what I would impress upon you as a player is to choose the spells that would suit the way you play your Bard the most. If you are a combat based Bard, choose combat spells, sneaky Bards should look to the ones that disguise yourself and others or affect the reactions of NPCs. And lastly, under no circumstances should you rush to choose a spell. Take the time between sessions to really look at the options available. A hasty choice can lead to regret.

If you would like any direct advice on playing a Bard or would like some ideas, feel free to contact me through G+ or Twitter.

Thank you for reading and happy rolling!

What’s Cool on Kickstarter

Wyrmwood Magnetic Dice Tower
This dice tower is gorgeous. There are a bunch of wood options and add-ons to the tower, but it’s all gorgeous. And expensive. Some of the options cost upwards of $800. But they are very nice, well made, and even portable.

“As a Kickstarter Exclusive, we have created a very limited number of Dice Tower Systems featuring hand cut marquetry and custom inlay. Made with elm burl, highly figured birch, holly, ebony, and silver, this is the highest level of craftsmanship available, and a piece that stands out on any game table. ”

 

World War Cthulhu: Cold War
If you want to move beyond WWI and WWII in your Call of Cthulhu adventures, you should definitely check out this setting for the Cold War.

“World War Cthulhu: Cold War throws you into one of the most paranoid and chaotic conflicts of the 20th century. The tangled webs of the spymasters tear and rejoin, double and triple agents make their moves and counter-moves, and it’s hard to be sure which side you’re really working for. Nuclear destruction hangs over everyone, and a few people at the heart of western intelligence continue their personal battle against the insidious influence of a much older enemy…”

 

At the Mountains of Madness
Here’s a secret, I haven’t read At the Mountains of Madness yet. But I think this game looks like it could be pretty great, and a fun way to experience the story.

“Back in the 1930’s you play in first-person perspective by the geologist William Dyer, a professor at Miskatonic University, as if in the hope to deter a planned and much publicized scientific expedition to Antarctica. in search of undiscovered fossils and zones unexplored by man.

The game is being developed with the Unreal Engine 4 and will be available for PC/MAC/Linux, using latest technology like Directx11, physics / wind / ragdoll system, post-processing effects and lighting.”

 

Blackskull Dice
These are some pretty pretty dice, and they’re available in a lot of woods and colors of acrylic. Unfortunately they only are making d6, but they’re very nice dice.

“Have you ever been to a gaming night and were afraid and ashamed to bust out your dice? Have DMs ever looked at you like you are a crazy warlock when you rolled? Thanks to Blackskull Dice you now have the chance to fix this problem!

Blackskull Dice is the result of me being that person described above. Not only did I want to have some awesome dice for our next game night but I wanted dice that no one else had. So… I made some one of a kind dice out of my exotic woods and acrylic blanks I use for other woodworking projects.”

 

Hyde
I want to go through this maze right now. I love that you have to do certain things to get the doors to open and move on through. I hope that once they raise the money they can come to the US, especially out to the West Coast, so I can go through it.

“Hyde is a maze game inspired by the tale of Jekyll and Hyde. We’re building it in London. Set in the near future, the experience will be like playing a cross between the Crystal Maze and Portal but in the real world. We’ve developed some really cool tech that will bring Hyde to life, we’re now looking for your support to build it into a real world game environment.

This is the story:

You’re taking part in experimental trials of a new drug developed by the Jekyll Corporation. It’s designed to modify the capabilities of the human body, giving you the power to control your environment simply by controlling your physical state (your pulse rate, breathing, posture etc).

Armed with some wearable tech your assignment is to navigate your way though a maze of connected rooms, using your new powers to complete a series of increasingly challenging tasks along the way.

But this is a smart maze: it knows where you are, and how you’re doing. You begin to realise that someone – or something – is working against you. You’ll need to stay calm to retain control of your surroundings. Because there’s only one way out of this maze, and that’s through it…”

 

Still active!

Calamityware Dinner Plate 6
The Sedefkar Simulacrum
Part Time Gods: Fate Conversion
Saiqlo Dice
H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast Live
New Riyera Fantasy Novel: The Death of Dulgath
Beast: The Primordial
The Mysterious Package Company
The Writer: Cthulhu Playing Cards
Cthulhu Wars: The Art of Richard Luong

Fear Itself: Invasive Procedures 1


In our first game in Fear Itself, a group of patients in a small hospital try to escape as someone begins experimenting on them at night.
Featuring Aser, John, Matt, Megan, Mike, and Rob.
Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Spider’s Web” & “Classic Horror”

Direct Download!

What’s Cool on Kickstarter

Cthulhu Wars: The Art of Richard Luong
This art book is lovely and full of Mythos horror.

“I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on Cthulhu Wars. Before the project, I had worked in games as an illustrator and concept artist. My art didn’t garner much attention. Cthulhu Wars launched and was a huge success. All of a sudden people took notice of my work and for the first time ever, I had fans.

From this success, I decided to start a Facebook art page called Tentacles and Teeth. Slowly more and more people began to find my work and enjoy my visions! This inspired me to create more and evolve. This book is a collection of work that represents my evolution as an artist. With your help, I can make this book a reality.”

 

Grim: A Roll for your Life Dice Game
Landan Smith suggested checking out this game and it looks pretty awesome! It’s a nice little dice game that looks like it’s super easy to pick up and enjoy.

“The game is quick, family friendly, and designed for 2-6 players (although you can play with as many people as you want if you have enough copies of the game).

The game was created by a group of friends during lunch breaks — and quickly evolved into something we’ve really enjoyed sharing with our friends and family and playing for hours. With the encouragement of said friends and family members we’ve decided to bring the game to Kickstarter to see if we can’t take this little game we made from a dream project into a reality!!”

 

The Writer: Cthulhu Playing Cards
This game has shown up on Kickstarter before, but they’ve revamped it. I think the pieces that go with it look really cool.

“Each card represents part of a story. In the game there are 8 unique stories represented by a color and symbol. You can complete a story by getting 5 cards with the same symbol.

The game has different rounds. The first round’s aim is to get one story, on the next 2 rounds you must complete 2 stories; and the next rounds 3. However you always start to play with only five cards, so you will need more cards to complete the stories, but beware, once you get them you will have to get rid of all the ones you have left! You will need to decide on your strategy!

Each card has a unique ability, represented by its top icon. This ability enables you to get additional cards; to repeat your turn; to take cards from the discard pile or to get rid of your own cards. You will use the abilities depending on your strategy, the game’s progress and the aim of the round.

A round ends when a player meets the defined aim and manages to dispose of their remaining cards. The winner will mark their stories on the library card and the losers lose sanity points for the cards remaining in their hand.”

 

Still active!

Calamityware Dinner Plate 6
Perception
The Sedefkar Simulacrum
Part Time Gods: Fate Conversion
Saiqlo Dice
H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast Live
New Riyera Fantasy Novel: The Death of Dulgath
Beast: The Primordial
The Mysterious Package Company

Mars Colony: Systemic Failure, Personal Tragedy


Sent to rescue the colony on Mars from itself, will Kelly do more harm then good?

Featuring Aser and Megan. Aser wrote a review of the game here.

Music by Kevin McLeod, “Controlled Chaos”
Direct Download!

Call of Cthulhu: Vengeance from Beyond

For our one year anniversary, we head back into Call of Cthulhu for a special episode. After re-acquiring a book for an old friend, William Townsend finds his actions have come back to haunt him.

Featuring Aser and Megan. Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Alchemist’s Tower”

Direct Download!

What’s Cool on Kickstarter

The Mysterious Package Company
This looks really cool. I’d never heard of the company before, and receiving mystery packages in the mail sounds like a great surprise. The mysterious items you will get seem genuinely creative and evocative.

“For several years we at The Mysterious Package Company have turned the daily trip to the mailbox into an adventure by providing unique mysteries by traditional mail. These packages tell amazing stories in multiple chapters—each arriving weeks apart—and together they place the recipient at the centre of the narrative, with customized newspaper articles, diary pages, lab notes, photographs, and so forth, often referencing long-lost (or non-existent) relatives.

These adventures culminate in a handmade wooden crate that has been nailed shut. Within, a custom-crafted artifact acts as the touchstone for the experience, a centerpiece that will spark the telling and retelling of the unexpected sequence of events that began with a single simple letter.

We pay extraordinary attention to the details of each experience, right down to the forged postmark on each letter and how the paper is aged. We include real history in the story, which lends authenticity to the experience, disguising where reality ends and the fiction begins.”

 

Beast: The Primordial
Beast: The Primordial is the newest game from White Wolf. This kickstarter is to get nice editions of the hardcovers, the game is coming out no matter what.

“In Beast: the Primordial, you take the role of one of the Begotten, descendants of an ancient nightmare creature called the Dark Mother. Beasts view each other — and the other supernatural creatures of the World of Darkness — as family, which means that Beast is explicitly designed to be crossover-friendly, both in terms of game mechanics and setting.

Beware, though. Just because the Begotten see the vampires, werewolves, mages, changelings, and mummies as kin, doesn’t mean the feeling is mutual.”

 

Elite Gaming Tokens
We don’t get a lot of chances to play in person, but tokens like these will help keep track of all the possible conditions that can come up in the game.

“Whether it is a deep game of tactical brilliance or just a good time with friends, people enjoy a visually appealing gaming experience. Not long ago we at Broken Egg Games starting producing ways to enhance our very own table tops with tools to help keep our games clean and most importantly, FUN! We believe all gamers have put a hearty time investment into their own miniatures and board games just like us and are looking for high quality tokens to match. With a “can do” attitude and some wonderful luck when flipping through our contacts, we found the people and tools to bring our concepts of an epic range of the high quality tokens: The Elite Gaming Tokens to life!”

 

New Riyera Fantasy Novel: The Death of Dulgath
Aser got me to listen to the first book in this series with him, and I really loved the main characters and am excited to see new adventures in the books.

“This project marks my 29th novel and the 9th featuring Hadrian Blackwater (an idealistic ex-mercenary) and Royce Melborn (a cynical thief). It’s also my second Kickstarter. I’ve created it to provide hardcover copies (and hopefully distribution through bookstores and libraries). Although this Kickstarter is being used to fund the hardcover print run, you can receive the story in all kinds of formats including ebooks and trade paperbacks.”

 

Lady of Innsmouth
A cool statue of a Lady of Innsmouth

“I have a real love of taking things which are often considered ugly or creepy and finding the beauty in them. In H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth the residents of Innsmouth are described as being ugly and fish-like with strange unblinking eyes. They are disliked and distrusted by outsiders mostly because they are different. I wanted to take that rough description and create how maybe one of the Innsmouth folk looked as she started transforming into her aquatic self before joining her family below Devil’s Reef.”

 

Still active!

Calamityware Dinner Plate 6
No Thank You, Evil!
Monster Dice
Mists of Audazzle
Perception
The Sedefkar Simulacrum
Part Time Gods: Fate Conversion
Saiqlo Dice
H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast Live

Beyond the Threshold 4: Curse Your Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal!

The agents meet with Georg to reconnect him with an old contact. However, Georg seems to have been learning parkour.

Featuring Aser, Brian, Matt, and Megan.

Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Hitmen”, and Scott McKenzie “San Francisco”

Direct Download!

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