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Pathfinder Society Survival 101

Monday, October 8, 2012

One of the concerns I have heard pop up lately, both on the messageboards and at shows, is that Pathfinder Society scenarios have become more deadly. I've heard horror stories about TPKs on the rise in various regions of the world. Let's see if we can help combat some of that and help the new player, or the low-level character of a veteran, with some options that may just prove useful.

One of the benefits of being a Venture-Captain before this job was that I met a wide variety of players throughout the southeast. Each and every one has their strong points and weaknesses. One of the strongest rules players I know from my time in Georgia was Jordan James. He survived quite a few tables I GMed, and most of the time, it was because of brilliant use of a piece of equipment I had never heard of or had seen used once at most. He has been discussing equipment that makes survival easier, specifically when it comes to lower-level characters, with the Georgia crowd for the last year through their Pathfinder Society lodge messageboards.

After speaking with Jordan this past week, he proved excited to share his thoughts on a few overlooked items that might just make the difference between your low-level character surviving or going to meet Pharsma earlier than anticipated.

Jordan advised, "Here we have a simple list of items I have found to be ridiculously useful, and sometimes critical, to have around for those situations that, if you aren't prepared, may very well turn into a TPK."

"Please do reply with items I've missed (there will be many) because the sole intention here is to provide a helpful thread for fellow adventurers, and to have a little fun in writing it," he noted.

So, what are some things that are just wonderful to have available in a pinch, and more often than not, are generally not well known?

Elixir of Spirit Sight (1,000 gp): From Pathfinder Adventure Path #38: City of Seven Spears, 1,000 gp for 1 minute of see invisibility and ghost touch for both your weapons and armor! Incorporeal entities got you down with strength drains and random irritating things that ignore your armor and halves your damage? Go to town on them with this wonderful concoction.

Bladeguard (40 gp): Straight out of the Advanced Player's Guide and into your martially inclined character's inventory. This clear resin protects a weapon from harmful attacks from oozes, rust monsters, and similar effects that corrode or melt weapons, rendering the weapon immune for 24 hours. One pot can coat one two-handed weapon, two one-handed or light weapons, or 50 ammunition items. Applying it takes 1 full round. Immersing the weapon in water or similar liquid washes it off. That's pretty useful for its cost.

Potion of Feather Step (50 gp): More Advanced Player's Guide spell goodness, and bottled for your convenience. For 10 minutes, you can ignore difficult terrain, and even take 5-foot steps in such an area, oh HADES YES! Seriously, have you got one of those wizards in your party? You know the type: crazy guy throwing around stone call, sleet storm, and other such "control" spells thinking he's awesome, when all he's really doing is making it impossible for you to move? This bottle is your answer (you can even throw the empty remains at the wizard afterward as a free action!). Smart wizards of the above type also keep a couple of these on hand.

Potion of Invigorate (50 gp): Going into battle with a creature that can sap your endurance, leaving you fatigued or exhausted, this potion will banish that pathetic mortal weakness and allow you to ignore the associated penalties for 10 WHOLE MINUTES. Of course, when it runs out, you get not only the penalties, but also an extra d6 points of nonlethal damage for your arrogance in ignoring your natural limits—but hey, performance enhancements are just an easy way of separating winners from losers! Honestly, though, ignoring those penalties for 10 minutes, that's freaking awesome for 50 gp.

Potion of Delay Poison (300 gp): 300 gp might sound like a lot, but for that handful of gold, you get to tell any and all poisons coursing through your veins for the next HOUR to sit down, shut up, and wait for you to finish beating the stuffing out of the poor fool that thought poisoning you would be its ticket to victory. This is like antitoxin, but sexy.

Smoked Goggles (10 gp): So, medusa, basilisks, and other gaze-type critters suck. You can avert your eyes (50% chance to avoid the gaze, 20% miss chance that round), or close them (immune to the gaze, but then everything gains total concealment from you, which kind of sucks). The answer: These cheap-as-dirt goggles grant you a +8 circumstance bonus on your saving throws vs. gaze, and all you suffer is a 20% miss chance (and a -4 on Perception checks—I know, a real deal breaker there if you're using these for combat). More Advanced Player's Guide goodness.

Smelling Salts (25 gp): Speaking of Advanced Player's Guide goodness, one last entry is the useful smelling salts. These sharply scented gray crystals cause people inhaling them to regain consciousness. Smelling salts grant you a new saving throw to resist any spell or effect that has already rendered you unconscious or staggered. If exposed to smelling salts while dying, you immediately become conscious and staggered, but must still make stabilization checks each round; if you perform any standard action (or any other strenuous action), you take 1 point of damage after completing the act and fall unconscious again. A container of smelling salts has dozens of uses if stoppered after each use, but depletes in a matter of hours if left opened. That's just nifty.

Bracers of Archery, Lesser (5,000 gp): A wrist slot that offers +1 to hit with a bow you're already proficient with is okay, but the hidden gem is that it works like the greater variety in terms of providing you proficiency with ANY bow (excluding crossbows). For characters without any bow proficiency or chaffing under a short bow only restriction, save the feat, drop 5,000 gp, and be happy!

Elixirs (250 gp): These are pretty well known, but just in case, for a paltry 250 gp you can pack potions for a +10 competence bonus on Acrobatics Perception, Stealth, and Swim checks. Handy, but keep in mind the swimming one is sort of overshadowed by the touch of sea potion below.

Golembane Scarab (2,500 gp): It's a neck slot that detects golems within 60 feet and ignores their DR with weapon, unarmed, or natural attacks. This can be a nice little package of helpfulness here!

Pathfinder's Pouch (1,000 gp): This little gem from Seekers of Secrets functions as a small bag of holding, allowing one to store up to 10 pounds of items within its 2-cubic-feet limit. Why is it special? Because detect magic ain't got nothing on this pro—thus, a Pathfinder can keep important or dangerous items safe in its confines with little worry from guards, customs, and random searches. Even if the pouch is opened and turned upside down with a shake, as long as the proper command word remains unspoken, nothing in the extradimensional space will fall out.

Potion of Bestow Grace (400 gp): For good characters only, but this can be a sweet bonus if you happen to have the rare positive Charisma modifier (and aren't already a paladin). For 4 minutes, you get a sacred bonus on all of your saving throws equal to your Charisma score bonus. That's almost good enough to make me consider being good, almost...

Oil of Weapon of Awe (300 gp): For 3 minutes, your weapon not only gains a +2 sacred bonus on damage rolls, but if you score a critical hit, it causes the creature hit to become shaken for 1 round with no save. It can't be used on natural weapons (though it can on unarmed strikes), but the gravy is that when used on ranged weapons, it applies to missiles fired. Loving some of these Advanced Player's Guide spells.

Potion of Touch of Sea (50 gp): For a measly 50 gp, you get a 30-foot swim speed, +8 competence bonus on Swim checks, the ability to take 10 on Swim checks even when distracted or endangered, and even use the run action while swimming. While this is more than enough to leave the poor elixir of swimming curled up in a corner, the one caveat is that it doesn't enable you to breath underwater, but for 1 minute of duration, you are bloody well near a seal.

The following are from the Pathfinder Society Field Guide:

Air Crystals (50 gp): An inexpensive personal bottle of air. Find yourself underwater, in a void, or otherwise bereft of air? Pop some of these beauties in your mouth and you've got 1 minute of breathing space to plan your escape (note that you can't talk while chewing on these crystals).

Comfort (armor special ability) (5,000 gp): Whoa. Okay, for 5,000 gp (doesn't even take up a slot of enhancement bonus on your armor) you get armor that is always clean, doesn't penalize you in hot weather, counts as cold-weather clothing in cold weather, reduces armor check penalties by 1 (minimum 0), AND regardless of what kind of armor it is, it can be slept in as if it were light armor! Note that only applies to being slept in, but my goodness, for anyone concerned about getting caught without their armor in the night, this is a sweet solution!

Dweomer's Essence (500 gp): Casters take note! For 500 gp this one-off pinch of powder may seem insane, until you notice that you can add it as an extra material component to any spell you are casting and receive a +5 bonus to your caster level to overcome spell resistance. It's like an on-demand rod of piercing spell, except it's available whenever you need it, stacks with the Piercing Spell feat if you really need that spell to land, and doesn't cost you an action to get out a rod or an additional level to apply the metamagic. This is the sort of awesome that I'd pay more than 500 gp for, so enjoy and keep some in the component pouch!

Fortunate Charm (3,000 gp): Anything that can help alleviate the terrible pain of lame dice is wonderful, and this neck slot beauty does just that once per day on a failed skill or concentration check. Since failing checks like that can often result in extremely severe consequences, 3,000 gp for that kind of love is just sweet.

Runestone of Power (2,000 gp): Wow, that's a lot of gold! Ever looked longingly at wizards and their fancy pearls of power letting them get free spells? Well, as long as you're a bard, inquisitor, oracle, sorcerer, or summoner you are in luck! For the cost of double an equivalent pearl of power, once per day (per runestone, of course) a spell you cast of its level uses the runestone's power and not one of your limited spells per day.

Potion of Stalwart Resolve (300 gp): New cleric spells to the rescue! For 3 rounds per pop, this little gem lets you ignore ability damage and penalties to any one ability score of your choice (unless it equals your total ability score, in which case you're still screwed). It has a short duration and doesn't protect you from ability drain, but when you really need to shake off some bad ability damage and get back into the fight, this is what you need.

Now for a few from the Adventurer's Armory:

Weapon Cord (1 sp): Cheap as dirt and twice as useful! If you are disarmed or drop your weapon, it never moves farther away from you than an adjacent square and you can recover it as a swift action. The caveat is you cannot wield another weapon with the same hand the cord is tied to, and removing the cord is either a full-round action (untying) or move action (cutting). Great for archers who never want to be separated from their bows.

Spring-Loaded Wrist Sheath (5 gp): Retrieve any dagger, dart, wand, or equivalent-sized object (forearm length or so) as a swift action. Let me provide a simple example of why this is awesome. Your friend is 20 feet away and dying. You move to her, get out your wand, are out of actions, and she dies at your feet. With this wrist sheath, you move to her, produce your wand of cure light wounds with a swift flourish, and save her life.

Antiplague (50 gp): Getting diseased can be really bad. Use this if you know you're moving into an area where such might be likely. For an hour, you receive a +5 alchemical bonus on Fort saves against disease. Even better, if you're already diseased, this will let you make two saves (no +5 bonus though) and use the better result. Good thing to have.

Vermin Repellent (5 gp): Not a perfect defense, but it keeps individual vermin away and swarms of vermin must make a DC 15 Fortitude save to enter your square. Not bad for a 4-hour buff.

Allnight (75 gp): Recommending "herbs" and "black market items"—I love this guide! Allnight eliminates the effects of fatigue for 8 hours, during which time you take a –2 penalty on all skill checks, and when the duration runs out, you're exhausted. The good news: Combine a couple doses with a couple potions of lesser restoration and you are the Energizer Bunny.

And a few other generally useful items to have around:

Potion of Blur (300 gp): Sure, the miss chance may only be 20%, but there are a couple nice bonuses during its 3-minute duration. First, since you gain concealment, most precision-based damage, such as from sneak attacks, won't work on you unless the user has some pretty special feats. Second, if you like to be stealthy, then here is your bottle of "hide in plain sight," since this grants you that necessary concealment you need to hide.

Oil of Align Weapon (300 gp): Your go-to spell when you need a weapon to bypass DR of the evil/good/lawful/chaotic types. Three minutes per use, so it should last long enough to even apply before combat if you know what's around the corner.

Potion of Remove Sickness (50 gp): For 10 minutes, you gain a +4 morale bonus on saves vs. disease and the sickened and nauseated conditions, or suppress effects already being experienced for the duration of the spell. While being sickened is annoying, some diseases, and especially being nauseated, really can make you useless, so this is a lifesaver. Pro tip: When you're nauseated, you can't take standard actions, so either pour this down a nauseated ally's throat on your turn, or hold it out and have one of your comrades do the same for you.

Potion of Negate Aroma (50 gp): For the sneaky types that are sick and tired of being given away by scent, one hit off this potion and you've got 1 hour of scentless scouting as long as you don't get doused in a new, smelly substance.

I know there are more, especially out of Ultimate Equipment, but those are a few I really wanted to throw out! Post other great options and we all might just survive an extra encounter or two!

Mike Brock
Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

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Andoran **

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Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:

That really doesn't fit the definition. But if it did, then it could never be cast. Even if you are in the air the planet is exerting a force on you it is called gravity.

Really, free fall is a poorly defined term. Everything is always in free fall. Even under acceleration, you are free fall with respect to a vector perpendicular to the axis of the acceleration.

Actually, if you'll allow me to step into General Relativity... the concept of free fall is well defined. It means "under the influence of no force other than gravity".

In GR, gravity isn't even considered a force, it's the curvature of spacetime.

Feather Fall, as a spell, then, takes somebody in free fall and exerts a force on him, so that he is no longer in free fall.... If the spell were really picky, though, it would refuse to function because the wind pressure (air resistance) would keep a falling character vrom being in free fall.



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marvin_bishop wrote:
They're more expensive but Mithral weapons allow you to bypass silver DR without giving up the point of damage.

Some of them aren't even all that expensive. At 502gp, a mithral dagger barely costs more than a masterwork one (and it's masterwork to boot). Of course, it can get pricey for two-handed weapons, but rapiers and short swords (1000gp) aren't bad and longsword/scimitar/falcata at (2000gp) aren't any more expensive than cold iron (once you enchant them) but have better hardness/hp. For two-handed weapons it does get cost-prohibitive though.

Andoran ***

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Elder Basilisk wrote:
marvin_bishop wrote:
They're more expensive but Mithral weapons allow you to bypass silver DR without giving up the point of damage.
Some of them aren't even all that expensive. At 502gp, a mithral dagger barely costs more than a masterwork one (and it's masterwork to boot). Of course, it can get pricey for two-handed weapons, but rapiers and short swords (1000gp) aren't bad and longsword/scimitar/falcata at (2000gp) aren't any more expensive than cold iron (once you enchant them) but have better hardness/hp. For two-handed weapons it does get cost-prohibitive though.

Which is where, pardon the pun, Silversheen from the Qadira book shines.

It has a static price add-on for weapons (+750 gp), makes them masterwork, and doesn't have the penalty to damage for alchemical silver. Add in that it also makes the weapon immune to rusting effects, whether monster or spell, and you have a winner.

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