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Pathfinder Online - Foreign Bodies - Campaigns
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Pathfinder Online

Foreign Bodies [Graylight]

Characters

DmitrisPfefferneuseThomasVaugn

Foreword from the GM

Although I am likely going to be repeating a lot of what I’ve already told people over IRC, I think it would be wise of me to make a few points absolutely clear to any potential players interested in joining this little adventure. First of all, whilst I have GMed in the past, this will be my GMing debut for the PF ruleset (as well as the IRC environment), so players will have to forgive me if we encounter the odd speed bump along the way.

Secondly, I am a pathological tinkerer. If a system doesn’t suit my needs intimately, I find myself compelled to modify and tweak it towards my own ends. This process of tweaking, testing, and repeating usually only ends when I’ve found a more entertaining tinker-toy to keep my mind occupied. Thus, in spite of the fact that the Pathfinder ruleset has only recently emerged from rigorous beta testing in itself, I find myself compelled to endlessly fudge with perfection. Hurrah!

As a direct consequence to this, I’ve been working on some house rules for use in the campaign setting. All of these altered rules and mechanics are to be considered as tentative, and will likely be subject to change based on feedback I receive from the players. I also hope to welcome feedback on broader aspects of the setting, and my own GMing ability.

The planned adventure is, at its heart, a fairly basic dungeon-crawl affair. It’s intended more than anything to test my ability and aptitude as a GM under this form of ruleset. Perhaps it will evolve into something more as the game progresses, but we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

One final note: I’ll be attempting to give this little adventure a tangible horror theme, so as a precaution, I’m going to be branding it with an MA 15+ classification, due to potentially strong impact content, horrific violence, as well as supernatural and adult themes. Players younger than 15 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian whilst playing this adventure, or alternatively, simply neglect to inform me of their age.

- Graylight





Setting Information

This adventure is set to takes place a “parallel future history” of Earth, and it’s most prominent orbital body, Luna. The following represents a vague timeline of events that separate our present-day world with this parallel future of Earth.

2010 – (Timeline split)
Up until this point, all recorded human history on this parallel Earth is, at least outwardly, near-identical to our own.

2011 -
Global demand for crude oil officially outstrips supply. Fuel prices skyrocket.

2012 –
Year passes without incident. Internet-based doomsday prophets are quick to label the growing oil crisis as “the beginning of the end of civilization”.

2013 –
Necessity proves itself to be the mother of invention, as numerous alternate energy converters, fuels, and generators flood the market almost simultaneously. Human civilization slowly begins to adapt to life without fossil fuels.

2016 –
An unmanned Japanese geological survey probe detects substantial quantities of frozen water more than 400 metres below the Moon’s surface.

2017 –
Amid great controversy, a Polish research scientist by the name of Dr. Adalbert Sadkowiak publishes his findings on an experimental medical treatment that is heavily reliant upon the cultivation of stem-cells. Within months, Dr. Sadkowiak, signs a deal with pharmaceutical giant, Farmacol, to mass produce the biological cocktail that is central to the treatment.

2018 –
Although it is publicly banned from sale in numerous countries, “Sadkowiak’s Serum” is released upon the marketplace. In the same year, NASA publishes the results of a recent study on the feasibility of lunar colonization. While the discovery of water within the Moon’s crust has made the possibility such colonization more tangible, the study ultimately concludes that there is insufficient data on the effects of low-gravity on human biology to warrant the extravagant economic investment required. Unbeknownst to their American counterparts, the Chinese National Space Administration is already preparing to launch a manned research-and-habitation module to the moon, in order to better determine the potential differences between low gravity and microgravity environments.

2019 –
With the aid of extra provisions regularly sent to their location by the CNSA, the two occupants of the Chinese habitation module are able to remain upon the moon for a period seven months. The crew members only suffer minimal negative effects on their physiology, roughly comparable to one month spent in the environment of the (recently decommissioned) International Space Station. Data projections indicate that with more extensive radioactive shielding and the appropriate medical treatment, these occupants could have remained on the moon for a period of up to two years or more before sustaining permanent damage from the effects of the low gravity environment.

2020 –
In a co-operative joint effort with their former rivals in the Russian Federal Space Agency “Roscosmos”, NASA begins full mobilizing of it’s staff towards the effort of placing a permanent, self-sustaining colony on the moon’s surface. This colossal undertaking is christened as “Project Paramount”.

2022 –
The planning and development stages of Project Paramount proceed at a brisk pace, with the project as a whole receiving more prominent global attention from the public and press. However, diplomatic tensions begin to flare as Chinese delegates accuse Russia and the U.S. of using the project to develop a monopoly on Moon-based resource recovery.

2023 –
In an attempt to ease the diplomatic unrest, Project Paramount is forced open to international involvement and investment. Some claim that this move was spurred by growing budget concerns, which were caused by an initial underestimate of the total economic cost of the project. Regardless of the truth of the matter, nations and corporations the world-over begin to volunteer money, manpower, and equipment to the cause, each becoming a shareholder in the project as a whole. While the original staff of Project Paramount welcome the incoming funds, some are less than enthusiastic about the active involvement and influence of rival nations upon what was originally their brainchild.

2024 –
The first set of Project Paramount habitation modules are launched from Earth with great fanfare. However, many of these modules are packaged “IKEA-style” to save on space and launch fuel costs, and will need to be assembled and attached to the other facilities once on the lunar surface. Additionally, with the colony’s future water supply buried so far beneath the surface, it will take considerable development time before Project Paramount becomes a self-sustaining enterprise.

2026 –
Doctor Adalbert Sadkowiak is gunned down in public shopping centre by a religious fanatic. Witnesses claim that the gunman proceeded to take his own life, blowing his own brains out over the aisle after reciting a short piece of religious scripture.

2029 – (Current year)
Due to mounting budget concerns and increasing pressure from shareholders, the supply lines coming from Earth have been discontinued. While functional, the colony as a whole is not yet complete. Regardless, Project Paramount is now forced must now prove it’s worth as a self-sustaining enterprise, lest it be abandoned and branded as a catastrophic economic failure.


--Project Paramount--
The Project Paramount colony is actually split into three distinct stations, but each relies on the others for their combined survival. The majority of Alpha Station is perched atop the “Peak of Eternal Light”, a region on edge of a crater at the Moon’s northern pole that is (almost) perpetually bathed in sunlight. This station is responsible for agricultural production, as well as the mining and acquisition of the water that lies deep underneath the Moon’s crust. Beta and Gamma stations serve as to supply the colony with an array of mined minerals that are used to produce new equipment and luxury items. Precious elements are occasionally shipped back to Earth in bulk, to help cover the cost of the program and appease the corporate shareholders. Beta Station is the most well-developed facility, and houses a majority of the colony’s engineering personnel. It is located upon the dark, featureless lunar plains, whilst Gamma Station is placed atop the rough, uneven surface of the lunar highlands. Each station is roughly equidistant from the other two, with travel times typically being a little over a full day’s drive when travelling via the LTV (Lunar Transport Vehicle), which is effectively a supersized moon buggy used for ferrying supplies between different stations.

-Staff-
The sole thing that DOES still arrive from Earth is manpower, with staff aboard the colony being rotated on a 2.5 year cycle. The personnel of the Project Paramount colony come from all walks of life, from all across the globe, but a grand majority would have been specifically selected for this mission due to their prior qualifications. The colony requires a variety of personnel in order to function properly, from theoretical scientists, to agriculturalists, to lunar law enforcement and janitorial services. Others may have potentially attained placement in the program through political clout, bribery, espionage, or sheer dumb luck.

-Security and Safety-
A point of moderate contention between the nations that have been backing the project is the presence of law enforcement personnel within the colony, with many nations trying to introduce enforcers loyal to their country into the program. The fact that these agents have been allowed to carry live ammunition caused even more controversy in the early stages of the program, but with each station sporting a five-inch-thick outer coating of titanium alloy (to shield against the otherwise disastrous occurrence of a micrometeoroid collision) there is little-to-no chance that a single stray bullet would puncture the station’s outer walls, resulting in a deadly case of decompression.

Regardless of this protective layer, the threat of decompression has been taken very seriously by the station architects, with every room of every station able to operate (temporarily) as a self-contained unit in the event of partial decompression. Every hatch or doorway has the potential to make an airtight seal, and each individual door is designed to open away from the room that poses the largest decompression threat, which would theoretically cause such a doorway to be sucked closed in the event of decompression. A similar mechanic is used to close off adjoining ventilation ducts between different locations in the event of an emergency. When the electronics built into a particular door detect a significant drop in pressure on the other either side of a closed doorway, it will quickly become electronically locked, and inaccessible through normal means. These electronic locks can be engaged and disengaged manually for the purpose of personal security, as long as you’ve acquired the unique keycode for a particular door, or have the technical ability to reconfigure the device itself.

-Staff Regimen-
To ensure optimal health and reduce muscle atrophy in the low-gravity environment, colonists are expected to participate in at least 2 hours of vigorous exercise for every twenty four hour period, which is overseen by a personal trainer. Personnel are also regularly supplied with medical supplements, which help to bolster their immune system and red blood cell production. Despite these measures, the effects of low gravity inevitably have a net negative effect on each participant’s physiology. For this reason, staff members serving on the colony are shuttled back to Earth after having served for a period of two and a half years.

-The Manufactory-
Located within the depths of Beta Station, the Manufactory is a facility intended to fulfil the technological needs of the colony and it’s occupants. More than a score of highly qualified engineers are stationed here, tasked with the production of various forms of equipment, electronics, machinery, and new modules that are to be connected to the facility. Although the staff of the Manufactory is more often than not busy with important projects handed down by the Beta Station Overseer, they occasionally entertain requests for luxury items sent by other members of the colony. In such a way, it is possible to acquire any item or device on the colony that one might find on Earth… Assuming you can convince one of the engineers to take up the task.

-Galactic Pennies (GP)-
What originally started out as a joke by the staff of the Beta Station Manufactory has quickly become a loose form of currency among certain members of Project Paramount. Often exchanged between the “working class” engineers and laymen for favours or select material possessions, these small discs are generally composed of waste materials produced by the refinery and foundry station modules, the most common composition being ground-up slag held together by a small amount of excess aluminium. The resulting disc is about the diameter of a 20 cent coin, with roughly twice the thickness and sporadically speckled with what appear to be worthless pebbles, giving it a texture and appearance similar to that of a tarmac road. All galactic pennies are inlaid with a simple, cartoonish design of a smiling moon, and are embossed with the text “REDEEMABLE FOR ONE RIDE IN THE LUNAR ROVER”.

-Player Characters-
Players assume the roles of a group of lunar colonists, employed as part of Project Paramount. For the last six months, your characters will have been working at Beta Station*. Whilst the currently implemented communication system has been a bit flakey, the Beta Station Overseer has not been able to contact the Alpha Station personnel for the last week. Thus, he has sent you in the LTV to investigate and assist with Alpha Station’s technical woes. It is thus that the adventure begins...

*Note: You may use this time to may make appropriate profession and/or craft checks to earn extra equipment and GP, as desired.




House Rules and Setting-Related Adaptions

-Magic-
The power of magick is non-existent in the eyes of the general public. Those that claim it does exist are often dismissed as gullible and superstitious, perhaps even mentally unstable. Whatever the truth may be, the average individual will rarely, if ever, be capable of manifesting the extravagant supernatural powers common to other high-fantasy settings. Exceptional individuals are therefore forced to draw solely upon their own skill, ingenuity, and foresight when faced with extraordinary and imperilling situations.

With the exception of the Bardic Performance and the Monk’s Ki Pool abilities, all spell-like (Sp) and supernatural (Su) class abilities are initially unusable by player characters and NPCs alike. Extraordinary (Ex) abilities remain precisely as written. This *will* limit the practicality of a number of class choices, with the most viable ones being Rogue, Fighter, Barbarian, Monk, Ranger & (potentially) Bard.


-Races-
While all player characters are considered to be human, I’m willing to allow players to apply other racial templates to their characters as desired. Be aware that certain racial perks might have to be justified or interpreted in creative ways. For example, a character with Darkvision isn’t naturally going to be able to see in the dark, but may well start off with a pair of night-vision goggles in their inventory.


-Languages-
Project Paramount is a truly multinational effort, with participants coming from nearly every corner of the globe. While many participants have at least a rudimentary handle on the English language, it is by no stretch of the imagination the only language spoken amongst the denizens of the domes. From common patriots to full-fledged xenophobes, people can be heard speaking their native dialect with their compatriots, the sound of which is both a comfort and reminder of the homes and loved ones they have left behind.

“Common” does not exist as a language here, and likewise neither does “Elven” or “Dwarven”. To determine your character’s starting languages, calculate the total number of languages they would know in a typical fantasy setting, including those gained from class levels, high intelligence scores, and racial templates. Now simply replace those fantasy languages with a selection of those used on modern-day Earth. In most circumstances, at least one of these languages should be the primary language spoken in your character’s country of origin. While I’m going to advise that your character be generated with a basic understanding of English, this is by no means obligatory.


-A Quick Note on Skills-
To put it bluntly, most knowledge skills are useless here. Knowledge (Local), however, is not. Knowledge (Local) will represent your character’s general knowledge regarding the different modules, facilities, and machines that make up the stations of Project Paramount, and could very well save you from placing your unwitting neck inside what is essentially an extravagant guillotine. Another useful skill that doesn’t quite operate as advertised would be Disable Device, which would not only enable you to better dismantle pieces hazardous of machinery, but also operate and tinker with complex electronics without electrocuting yourself.

Many skills will see limited use in this setting and adventure, but I’m sure you’re smart enough to figure out which ones they are. :)



-Traits-
At your discretion, you may select two appropriate traits for your character from the following resource.
http://paizo.com/traits



Hitpoints & Health

For this game, I’ll be using the Health Point system, as well as the Wound Levels/Injury Penalties system, both from the Pathfinder “Horrific Fears” splatbook. These systems are intended to facilitate the intended survival-horror-vibe of the adventure, as well as accentuate your character’s own sense of mortality. An abbreviated explanation of each follows:

-Health Point system-
All biological entities, PC and NPC alike, have their hitpoints replaced by “health points”. Health points for a medium creature can be calculated using the following equation

Base Health = Constitution Score + Character Level

Simple, eh? Things get just a little bit more complex when the size of a biological creature differs from medium. Small creatures, for example, only get half of their Constitution score added to their health. Large creatures get two times their Constitution score added to their health, whilst huge creatures get thrice their Constitution score, and so on.

Favoured Class HP bonuses still apply, but since that 1 point of HP is now so much more precious than was originally intended, the alternative Favoured Class bonus to skill points will be increased to 2 points, to make it more of a viable option.


-Wound Levels & Injury Penalties-
A stab wound not only pushes a character closer to death, it also causes pain that distracts a character, and makes it more difficult for him to use his abilities. These rules are intended to make combat even deadlier, as characters can only suffer an injury or two before they become worse at fighting. These penalties serve as a stark reminder to the players that combat is a dangerous proposition. The following states immediately apply to any character that has lost the prerequisite amount of health.

Staggered (Wound Level 1): After losing more than one quarter of their total health, characters become staggered. Such a character likely suffers from a selection of small cuts and bruises, sprained muscles, a cut that bleeds into their eye, or other non-life threatening but hindering injuries. Staggered characters and suffer a -2 penalty to all attacks, saves, and skill checks until they recover at least three quarters of their total health.

Injured (Wound Level 2): A character is considered injured if he has lost half his health but still has more than a quarter remaining. An injured character suffers from wounds that directly hinder his ability to act, such as a cracked bone, a concussion, a wrenched knee, and similar injuries. An injured character suffers a -2 penalty to Strength and Dexterity as long as his injuries persist.

Critical(Wound Level 3): A character in critical condition suffers from severe wounds, with one quarter or less of his health remaining. He has suffered torn ligaments, broken bones, shattered joints, or other serious injuries. A character in this state suffers a -4 penalty to Strength and Dexterity for as long as he remains in this state. Additionally, after each minute, there is a 10% chance that he loses an additional health point until his total drops below zero. If the character receives successful healing of any kind (but still remains below 1/4 health), this type HP loss cannot occur, due to the wounds having been tended. However, if the character sustains any further injury, the chance of minute-by-minute HP loss resumes as normal.



Equipment

Given the setting, your character isn’t likely to be walking around in a suit of platemail. But this doesn’t mean you can’t give your character equipment with similar statistics or uses. At your discretion, any piece of equipment you take from the handbook can be (in fluff terms) transposed into equipment that is appropriate to the setting. For example, an hourglass could become a wristwatch (unless you *really* wanted an hourglass), while a torch would become a cheap flashlight, and so on. As long as it’s reasonable to assume that the contemporized object functions as described in the player’s handbook, everything is fine. But please ensure that I can tell at a glance what piece of Pathfinder/D&D equipment that it is being modelled after, perhaps by adding the D&D-equivalent name of the item in parenthesis within your character sheet.
Eg: (5) Box of matches (Tindertwigs)

--Special Equipment/Drugs--

Sadkowiak’s Serum
Cost: 50gp
Duration: 1d8 + 1 rounds
Typically stored within a heavily insulated hypodermic syringe, this medical marvel utilizes a combination of preserved stem-cells and biological stimulants to super-charge normal cellular regeneration. When applied directly to wounded areas of the body, the dormant stem-cells in the Serum are awakened by the latent heat of the subject’s body. Invigorated by the surrounding stimulant compounds, these stem cells begin cloning themselves en-mass, even as many among their growing number rapidly assume the cellular form of the surrounding damaged tissue. This cellular repopulation is short-lived, but the overall effects speak for themselves. When applied to a subject’s wounds, this substance grants the recipient regeration 1, for the next 1d8+1 rounds. Lost limbs or digits can be re-attached with it’s use, but require the specialized training of a surgeon to properly align and regenerate nerve endings. Applying the Serum to yourself or others is a delicate process, and requires a full-round action if attempted during combat.

Painkillers
Cost: 50gp
Duration: 6 hours
Over-the-counter painkillers make it easier for you to function at your best, despite grievous injuries and missing digits. After ingesting a single dose of such drugs, your wound level and subsequent injury penalties are artificially reduced by one level, or eliminated entirely if you are “staggered”. This effect is cumulative if multiple doses are taken at once. Note that the 10% chance of bleeding (when critically injured) cannot be averted by use of this medication. Ingesting this substance is a standard action.

Epinephrine
Cost: 300gp
Duration: 3 Minutes
Epinephrine (also known as Adrenaline) is a neurotransmitter produced in the body that facilitates the “fight-or-flight” response. Often shortened to “epi” in medical jargon, a syringe full of this hormone immediately grants the target a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls and saves, plus temporary hit points equal to 1d8 + 3, as per the /Aid/ spell. Administering a syringe of this substance is a standard action.

Amphetamine
Cost: 750gp
Duration: 5 rounds
This potent compound is heavily restricted upon the lunar stations, should only be taken under the direction and supervision of a medical professional. When ingested or injected into the body, the recipient comes under the effect of /haste/ for the next five rounds, granting an extra attack at the recipient’s full attack bonus, an extra 30 feet of movement, and +1 dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves, as per the /Haste/ spell. Administering or ingesting this substance is a standard action.
Disclaimer: Side effects of taking of amphetamine can include reduced appetite, increased/distorted sensations, hyperactivity, dilated pupils, flushing, restlessness, dry mouth, erectile dysfunction, headache, tachycardia, increased breathing rate, increased blood pressure, fever, sweating, diarrhea, constipation, blurred vision, impaired speech, dizziness, uncontrollable movements or shaking, insomnia, numbness, palpitations, arrhythmia, and psychosis.



Firearms

As far as rules go, this is probably the section I’ve spent the most time mulling over, and one that is most likely to change further in the future. As it is currently, I’ll be modelling firearms on a mutant combination of Crossbow and Composite Longbow mechanics. Note: The Rapid Reload feat grants similar advantages to firearms.

Starting with basic firearms, these weapons are your common handgun and hunting rifle. They fall under simple weapon proficiency, and benefit from an increased firing rate. Due to their ease of use, all simple firearms gain an additional attack as part of your normal full-round attack action, at -5 of your lowest attack bonus. I may be willing to alter the clip size of your chosen weapon if you are basing it on a real-life model. You may choose to add additional templates to your firearms, but doing so will increase the proficiency needed to operate the weapon. Adding either the Fully Automatic template or the Increased Calibre template will result in a weapon that falls under Martial proficiency. Adding BOTH results in a weapon that falls under Exotic Proficiency.

--Firearm size details--
*Small firearms* (handguns) are designed to be used one-handed. You can shoot, but not load, such a weapon in one hand at no penalty. They are considered to be light weapons for the purposes of two weapon fighting. Reloading a light firearm is a move action that provokes an attack of opportunity.

*Medium firearms* (Light Rifles/SMGs) are designed to be used in two hands. You can fire, but not load, such a weapon in one hand at a -2 penalty to attack rolls. They are considered to be light weapons for the purposes of two weapon fighting. Reloading a medium firearm is a move action that provokes an attack of opportunity.

*Heavy firearms* are designed to be used in two hands. You can fire, but not load, such a weapon in one hand at a -4 penalty to attack rolls. They are considered to be one-handed weapons for the purposes of two weapon fighting. Reloading a heavy firearm is a full-round action that provokes an attack of opportunity.

Firearm Size Cost Damage Critical Range Clip Size
Handgun 75gp 1d4 19-20/x3 30ft 10 rounds
Light Rifle/SMG 100gp 1d8 19-20/x3 80ft 18 rounds
Heavy Rifle 125gp 1d10 19-20/x3 120ft 25 rounds


-Fully Automatic-
Full-auto weaponry (that is designed for burst-fire) grants the user a number of additional attacks equal to your normal number of attacks per round, plus one. Since full-auto weaponry is designed to maintain a (fleeting) measure of stability when firing, each attack in such a sequence has an attack bonus equal to the previous attack -3. Thus, a first level character with a +1 ranged attack bonus would use an attack sequence of +1/-2/-5 when utilizing a full-auto weapon. Full-auto weapons have an additional 100gp added onto their total cost.

-Increased Calibre and Strength Requirements-
With the exception of handguns, all typical firearms have a strength modifier requirement of +0. By increasing the calibre of your weapon you increase the damage, recoil, and strength requirement of the weapon. Increasing the strength mod requirement to +1 (12 STR) will grant a +1 bonus to damage, increasing the strength mod requirement to +2 (14 STR) will grant a +2 bonus to damage, and so on. Weapons with increased calibre cost 100gp more for every point of Strength damage that you add. If you do not meet the strength requirement of a weapon, it will still do the same amount of damage on a successful hit, but the recoil of the weapon starts to affect your aim more noticeably, and you suffer a -2 penalty to attack, with an further -1 penalty to attack for every point that your strength modifier is below the weapon’s requirement.

-Ammunition-
Due to the naturally unbalancing nature of firearms upon the PF ruleset, I'm going to attempt to limit how frequently the player characters may rely on firearms. For that reason, I'm going to ask that no character be generated with more than 30 rounds of ammunition per gun that they own. The cost of ammunition is 1gp per 10 rounds for handguns, and 1gp per 5 rounds for everything larger.



Roleplaying XP:

Given the relatively short length of the game scenario, I plan to be dispensing RP rewards rather liberally. While I prefer quality over quantity in terms of RP, quantity is still a nice thing to have. Simple things like in-character dialog and in-character interaction with your fellow players is likely to increase the amount of XP granted at the end of a session, as the ability to remain in-character for extended periods is something that I’ve grown to view favourably.

Of particular worth are in-character actions that actually serve to hamper the continuing success of the party, or otherwise go against a player’s metagaming instinct. Keep in mind the in-character part. If I haven’t seen any events foreshadowing your character stabbing one of the other PCs in the back, I’m going to be significantly less inclined to reward you for it. Long story short: Stay true to your character concept, and thou shalt be rewarded.

Finally, one thing that I’ve noted here is that few players choose to fill out their character’s biographies before or during an ongoing game. I’m not sure how well this will be received, but I plan to grant substantial XP bonuses to those that do choose to flesh out their character outside of the scheduled sessions, particularly through detailing their character’s history, quirks, and other subtle aspects of their being within the bio section of their character sheet. The exact amount of roleplaying XP granted via backstory will depend upon how detailed and how enjoyable it is for me to read as a short piece of fiction. But to help put a vague quantity on this, if your biography is well-written and engaging, and it leaves me feeling as if I know your character particularly well, inside and out, that character is likely to start the game more than halfway to 2nd level.

But don’t stress if you’re the type who’d prefer to build upon your characters as games progress, this bio-roleplaying XP bonus will be retroactively assessed, meaning I’ll (potentially) grant more XP if you choose to append, change, or create it entirely at a later date. Just make sure to draw my attention to any changes or revisions if this does apply to you.