Keyword Design – “Canada”

In Keyword Design, I use a single word as inspiration for a mundane item, a magic item, a feat, a spell, and a class option. Today’s word is Canada.

A dedicated group of Internet pranksters is trying to convince the general public that “Canada” exists. I can’t imagine how many seemingly Internet savvy folks have packed their bags and driven North believing Canada was a place they could visit, like they found a highway to Narnia. Mounted police? A shirtless jogger in charge of the country? Balancing on ice with metal blades strapped to their feet as a national pastime? Some people are so naïve. At least some good has come of this meme; the Internet built a fictional world that is ripe for adaptation to the tabletop.

OK, Canada is real, and I’m a big fan. As I laid out in my guest appearance on Code/Switch talking about adapting cultures to a fantasy setting, there are design challenges whether you are part of a culture or not. I leaned on a lot of true Canadian stereotypes even if I didn’t see myself in them (“water?” options), but tried to be as authentic with them as I could. To be sure, I did some research and ended up learning a few things about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I’ll provide commentary with my options where I can.

New Mundane Item
Price 10 gp; Weight 3 lbs (1.4 kg)
This kit contains a bucket, hand drill, and spile, everything needed to extracting sap from a tree, such as maple sap (a key ingredient in maple syrup). A DC 10 Survival check is required to identify a tree that is reading to be tapped. Tapping a tree requires 1 minute of drilling, and 20 minutes per ounce of sap drained into the bucket. To create syrup, boil your syrup with one part sugar for every 4 parts sap. This process takes 10 minutes and requires a DC 5 Profession (cook) or Survival skill check.

My favourite part of writing this article was including metric weights for all items. If you would like to know more about sap tapping, check out

New Magic Item
Price 9900 gp; Aura moderate evocation; CL 4th; Weight 2 lbs (0.9 kg)
These blue and orange oiled leather skates are cool to the touch, with blades made of solid ice. 10 minutes per day, the wearer can generate an ice plane as a swift action. This ice plane functions like the ice plane ability of wall of ice with the following exceptions: The ice plane generates directly underfoot and in all adjacent squares, expanding as he moves, allowing the wearer to skate over land, water, air, and even lava. The wearer must begin and end his movement on land. The ice plane lasts for 1 minute in cold temperature, 2d4 rounds in moderate temperature, and 1d4 rounds in hot temperature.
This ability must be used on 1-minute increments.
Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, wall of ice, Cost 4950 gp

My original name for this item was ICE SKATES OF THE GREAT ONE’S RINK, but the name’s a stretch to include a Wayne Gretzky reference (although the blue and orange oiled leather reference to his original team, the Edmonton Oilers, remains). These are closer to Skates of the Iceman, anyway.

Price 750 gp; Aura faint transmutation; CL 2nd; Weight
This gold brooch in the shape of a maple leaf has a thick red gloss, as though covered in dried sap. It grants a +2 competence bonus on Diplomacy checks made to improve a target’s attitude. Once per day, this bonus can be doubled as a free action, but only if the target’s starting attitude is Unfriendly or Hostile.
Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, eagle’s splendorCost 375 gp

Yes, we’re two items deep into maple leaf related options. This one comes from advice many Canadians give each other (and the American friends they trust) before travelling: wear a maple leaf prominently when visiting foreign countries and people will assume you are Canadian. You will be treated better than if they assume you’re American.

Also, two magic items? When I only promised one? After I wrote the Equipment Trick (ice skates) feat, I realized that I’d created a feat that would be fun if it wasn’t entirely useless. A GM could build a hockey themed goon to recreate the classic ice rink scene in Batman and Robin, but what player would ever want it? So I added a magic item that allows you to be on ice in any combat (which, bonus, the feat already allows you to wear like boots if you have 5 ranks in Acrobatics).

I didn’t want to overpopulate the list with skate-related options, and I was already happy with my concept for the maple leaf brooch of the friendly neighbour. Boom, bonus magic item!

New Feat
You skate like you were born on ice.
Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: Your affinity for ice skates combining with your other abilities unlocks new uses for this traditional item. These equipment tricks can be used with either magic or mundane ice skates.
In addition to the Equipment Trick (ice skates) feat, you must have the feat or skill prerequisites to use these tricks.
Barrel Roll (Agile Maneuvers): Controlling your momentum on the ice allows you to stay perpetually in motion. When flanked while wearing ice skates on ice, you can, as an immediate action, deny your target the benefits of flanking you until the end of its turn.
Grapevining (Mobility): Your fancy footing allows you to deftly maneuver around the ice. When wearing ice skates on ice, your movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Jerseying (Improved Dirty Trick): You pull loose fabric over your opponent’s head in a fight. You can apply both the blinded and entangled conditions to the target of your dirty trick combat maneuver with one successful check. Your target can remove either of these penalties as a move action or both as a full round action.
Land Skating (Acrobatics 5 ranks): You are as comfortable in skates as you are in a pair of boots. Your movement is not reduced when wearing ice skates on land.
Slashing Hit (Improved Unarmed Strike): When making an unarmed strike, you can choose to deal slashing damage instead of bludgeoning damage when wearing ice skates.

I did not realize ice skates were in Ultimate Equipment until I started working on this article. I’m a big fan of the Equipment Trick feat, and this was a great opportunity to bring a lot of the ice skating experience to Pathfinder. Honestly, I could have written many, many more.

New Spell
School conjuration (healing); Level bard 1, cleric/oracle 1, druid 1, paladin 1, ranger 2, shaman 1, witch 1
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels); see text
Targets up to ten allies within range, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no
You channel positive or negative energy (your choice) to all of your allies that cures 2d8+1 point per 2 caster levels (minimum +1, maximum +5). This healing is divided equally amongst all valid targets within range (up to ten, including yourself). Healing in excess of the amount that can be divided evenly is lost, a tax to the ether they say. For example, if you, your animal companion, and 2 additional allies are within range (four valid targets total) and you roll 9, each valid target received 2 points of healing, the 1 point of excess healing not going to anyone. A target is still valid even if they do not require healing.
If you have the Selective Channeling feat, you can use it to exclude targets.

As communal light curing, with the following exceptions:
Level bard 3, cleric/oracle 3, druid 3, paladin 3,shaman 3, witch 3
The positive or negative energy you channel to all of your allies cures 4d8+1 point per 2 caster levels (minimum +1, maximum +10).

As communal light curing, with the following exceptions:
Level cleric/oracle 6, druid 6, shaman 6
The positive or negative energy you channel to all of your allies cures 6d8+1 point per caster levels (maximum +20).

Three spells? I know, I’m so generous. Honestly, I believe there is enough material here to write a product on Canadian options. We’ll see.

Credit to James Ballod for inspiring this option. When I asked the non-Canadian members of the network what kind of Canadian options they would expect, he suggested the spell National Healthcare, Mass. Also, I included negative energy as an option since you can only target allies with the spell, and the undead have equal right to healing as the living.

New Class Option
A cavalier who belongs to this order spreads law and justice to lawless lands, dedicated to upholding the highest moral standards. Whenever possible, a cavalier of this order will bring his target back alive.
Edicts: Although it’s believed that this order’s motto is “They always get their man,” it is in fact “Maintain the right” The cavalier must behave in a civil manner and is beholden to the laws of the population he represents when traveling where no law is established. He must uphold the law where authorized to do so.
Challenge: Whenever an order of the mounted marshal cavalier issues a challenge, he receives a +1 morale bonus on all disarm, drag, grapple, reposition, and trip combat maneuvers as long as he is threatening the target of his challenge. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels the cavalier possesses.
Skills: An order of the mounted marshal cavalier adds Knowledge (nobility) (Int) and Linguistics (Int) to his list of class skills. In addition, when the cavalier puts a rank in Linguistics, he can choose to gain a learn an additional language or gain a cumulative +1 circumstance bonus on Linguistics checks to decipher a text or detect a forgery.
Order Abilities: A cavalier that belongs to the order of the mounted marshal gains the following abilities as he increases in level.
Capture Alive (Ex): At 2nd level, the cavalier excels at capturing targets to bring to justice. He can make nonlethal melee attacks with lethal weapons without taking the usual –4 penalty. Additionally, the cavalier gains a bonus to nonlethal damage equal to 1/2 the cavalier’s level (minimum 1).
Steel Will (Ex): At 8th level, the cavalier is immune to fear effects and can not be intimidated.
Carousel (Ex): At 15th level, the cavalier can, as a full round action, move his speed in a circle around a target, attacking as he moves. The cavalier can make the same number of attacks during this move as when he takes the full attack action, as long as he enters at least that many squares within his weapon’s reach during this movement. The cavalier is considered to be flanking the target for all attacks made while performing a carousel. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

This was originally going to be new archetypes, but I broadened it to class options since this works best as a cavalier order. There are a lot of references peppered throughout this build:
I didn’t have much for the skills section, but I like what I did. Mounties being Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Knowledge (nobility) fit historically (even if I personally dislike the skill). Mounties aren’t known for being linguists, but they are Canadian officers and therefore required to be bilingual. Add in the idea that they have to verify documents and it worked well overall.
The Villain Codex introduced the Order of the Whip, a cavalier order that specialized in non-lethal damage. Unfortunately, that order is about capturing slaves alive and in sellable condition. I liked the idea of a nonlethal cavalier, and since they say a mountie “always gets his man” (which, as mentioned above, is not the motto of the organization), it felt like a good fit for this class.
“Why didn’t I shoot him?” is a line from a Canadian Heritage minute about Sam Steele, a mountie who denied an American miner entry despite the American holding Steele at gunpoint. Hence Steel Will. I almost went with Steele Will, but without the context, that’s just a spelling mistake.
A carousel is an RCMP performance in which dozens of mounties ride in concentric and overlapping circles amongst one another. It’s a sight to behold. This is an option I started with the flavour and then had to apply mechanics to. The ability to flank with yourself is pretty powerful for a cavalier with a few dips into rogue, fulfilling a long running in-joke of mine about Royal Canadian Mounted Ninjas.

If you have thoughts on the balance and use of these abilities, or you would like to offer a single word that you think can inspire a mundane item, a magic item, a feat, a spell, and a class option, let me know in the comments below!

Ryan Costello

What started as one gamer wanting to talk about his love of a game grew into a podcast network. Ryan founded what would become the Know Direction Podcast network with Jason "Jay" Dubsky, his friend and fellow 3.5 enthusiast. They and their game group moved on to Pathfinder, and the Know Direction podcast network was born. Now married and a father, Ryan continues to serve the network as the director of logistics and co-host of Upshift podcast, dedicated to the Essence20 RPG system he writes for and helped design. You can find out more about Ryan and the history of the network in this episode of Presenting:

Know Direction Pathfinder Podcast