I wanted to go into this article and put together a full archetype for you and go through all of my steps. As I was putting together all of my research and design thoughts, it became apparent to me that I just might need to split this up into two posts worth of content. You see, my Quest line clocked in at almost twice the length of the average KD post. Which is fine for that project. However, long-term I want to focus on sustainability of my posts. To do that, I’m going to work on keeping my posts somewhere in the 1,000-1,500 original word range.
So for today, I’m going to go over some of my design questions and my thoughts for the Hemotheurge archetype that I introduced in Quest #3, The Blood That Boils.
Here are some of the questions that I feel need some semblance of answers to them as I start really delving into the nitty-gritty of designing my archetype:
What sort of blood magic already exists in Paizo’s published Starfinder?
To answer this question, I went to the #1 source of Starfinder rules and the current Systems Reference Document, the Archives of Nethys. I performed a pretty broad search with the simple term “blood” to see what would come up. Here are the first eight entries that came up:
- [Aliens] Bloodbrother
- [Starship Manufacturers] Blood Mountain Clans
- [Spells] Inflect Blood
- [Feats] Blood in Their Eyes
- [Feats] Blood of the Spider
- [Themes] Giantblood
- [Powered Armor] Kyton Bloodsuit
- [Augmentations] Mk1 Regenerative Blood
After a quick perusal of those 8 entries, one of the first things I noticed was that with the exception of the Bloodbrother, none of the other options are in the initial Core Rulebook or Alien Archive. Things directly related to the use of blood outside of bleeding damage is not something that is built into the system. Hopefully this means that there is plenty of fertile ground for me to cover with the archetype.
What sort of blood magic exists in Paizo published material for all of their systems?
With another search using Archives of Nethys, but this time for a little bit more of a specific search. Using “blood magic” for both Pathfinder 1st and 2nd edition.
In Pathfinder 1st Edition, the only thing I get are the three Rings of “X” Blood Magic, but we also know that the Bloatmage exists as well. Now the other thing for “blood” in PF1e, is that Sorcrers have Bloodlines.
In Pathfinder 2nd Edition, there are actually a ton of monsters that utilize blood. Also, with the Sorcerer primary ability Bloodlines, granting Blood Magic, I know I will want to keep my vocabulary around hemotheurgy to keep it different and distinct from Pathfinder 2e’s Blood Magic feature.
Overall, blood magic/hemotheurgy in the manner that I am thinking about does not feature prominently in Paizo products. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it could mean that Paizo as a company isn’t too interested in exploring this space overall, and it is a great space for some 3rd Party to really develop some options.
How about 3rd Party Publishers for Starfinder?
While not a 100% definitive source, a search on DriveThruRPG specifically for Starfinder-OGL products, I don’t really find anything close to what I’m looking to develop here. I did find Rogue Genius Game’s Blood Space and Moon Dust, an introductory adventure in their Blood Space setting.
What sort of blood magic exists in video games and other media?
I went down a rabbit hole with this one. I found a really fun website that lists comic book abilities. Superpower Wiki has a great section that lists a variety of different powers and where they show up. With a Blood Magic search, I find that there are a wide variety of different kinds of blood magic.
You’ve got Blood Energy Manipulation, with the leader of the Red Lantern Corps using blood magic for precognition.
There is also Haemokinetic Combat. This area has quite a few examples in anime. I discovered Beyond the Boundary, where one of the main characters uses a sword made of blood that really makes me think of a Solarion’s Solar Weapon. Of course, with that in mind, even with the Mystic now able to get Solar Weapons through an epiphany, I want to avoid stepping on the Solarion’s toes.
What will be the mechanical niche of a blood magic user?
When I first wanted to re-make the Bloatmage for Starfinder without the body negativity, I assumed it would be a pure caster archetype similar to Esotericist. However with my Superpower Wiki digging, I saw that Blood Magic wasn’t just used directly in combat, but it was also used like it is in Warhammer Fantasy to strengthen and embolden a warrior. So my thought process had to change.
I haven’t actually landed specifically on the niche of a hemotheurge. However, thanks to a number of archetypes in the Character Operations Manual, archetypes have loosened up quite a bit since the Core Rulebook days. It seems pretty alright to provide an option of abilities at each class feature level for the archetype. This was reinforced by the archetypes in Everybody Game’s Advance Occult Guide. The archetypes within are broad and can apply to casters and melee characters apiece in some cases, and will definitely be using them to build the final Hemotheurge archetype.
How does a Hemotheurge fit into a setting? Pact Worlds? Blood Space?
Speaking of Everybody Game’s and Rogue Genius, another thing that popped into my head was how would a Hemotheurge work in the Blood Space setting? I don’t fully have the answer as I haven’t had the time to research the answer to that. HOWEVER, during my month break, I plan on delving into a setting that has blood in its name to see if an archetype that utilizes blood can fit within.
For Paizo’s default setting, Pact Worlds. I have the history of Bloatmages to build off of and the weird history around Kaer Maga. What’s interesting about Kaer Maga is that it’s history in Pathfinder pre-dates the Empire of Thassilon and was inhabited by planar scholars from the Ethereal Plan, the caulborn. This leaves me plenty of ways hemotheurgy could have grown after the Gap.
Other Questions I haven’t answered yet:
- What other tabletop roleplaying games have blood magic?
- How much of the Bloatmage do we want to port over?
Putting it Together
Overall, I think I have a lot to think about over the next four weeks. While blood magic isn’t prevalent in Pathfinder and Starfinder, it has its place in various media. Having seen newer archetypes introduce the flexibility of (1) optionally taking class features and (2) options within the archetype, gives me lots of room to design an archetype that can fit the fantasy of a hemotheurge.
One thing I learned is that it is interesting watching a piece of media specifically for design research. It was a different feeling while watching. I’m almost always questioning how I’d interpret the actions in the show into the game.
While I was writing this up, I also realized that splitting this into two parts covers a lot of the same ground that putting out my quest outlines did for the Quest series. It lets me put my initial ideas together during the first two weeks. Put them out into the ether and then lets them stew for another two weeks to be put together into a single product at the end. It made a lot of sense for the quests. I’m still not sure about something like an archetype. Let me know what you all think about splitting up the design diary and “finished” product into two separate articles here or on Discord. What other blood magic things do you think I should consider when making the Hemotheurge Archetype?
Tune in January 14th to see the finished archetype!