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Alzrius's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 1,524 posts. 73 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist.

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Draco Bahamut wrote:
Rogue/Illusionist Hybrid: I know we have the arcane trickster, but people who could remember the Bluehand from Ad&d miss what the ninja really should be.

Major props to you for the Bluehand reference! Here I thought I was the only one who remembered that fascinating section from the Complete Thieves' Handbook.

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Lincoln Hills wrote:
Jaçinto wrote:
I don't hate Conan, I just don't like Conan. Just not a fan. It's ok but just never really grabbed me. If you know a Conan story that you think would grab me and bring me in, shoot. I'll give it a shot.
Since you ask, I'd recommend "Tower of the Elephant" or "Red Nails" as self-contained Conan stories that are short enough to read all the way through before deciding whether you enjoyed it.

I'll second the recommendation for "Red Nails." It's my favorite Conan story, with the possible exception of "Queen of the Black Coast."

You can find the former story (and quite a few others) over on Project Gutenberg.

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Dead Phoenix wrote:
JoelF847 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:
Paladins of Asmodeus have been retconned out of the setting, at least as NPCs with actual levels of paladin.

Correct. That wasn't a retcon, actually. That was us correcting an actual and legitimate error. In the same way if we spell the word "Wizard" as "Wziard," that doesn't mean that there are actually characters out there with levels in a new class called "Wziard."

I was so looking forward to playing a Wziard though! Are you saying there isn't going to be a book called Misspelled Class Guide?
There better be. The Rouge class is in serious need of a buff.

And my babarian character had a serious lack of elephantine features.

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You're not the only One - there's also Neo and Jet Li.

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
That's a really excellent example, and I agree completely: at home I actually replaced all those +2/+2 feats with a single "Skill Synergy" feat ("Choose any two skills other than Perception...").

That's an example of where the solution is both an obvious one, and is simple to fix - I suspect a lot of GMs have done the same thing. The problem (at least to me) is that there are a lot of other areas where the solution is neither obvious nor simple.

Note that I still included a caveat, because without it the new, more flexible rules are practically begging people to boost Perception through the roof, and that's not the intent. Granted, that's a problem with Perception being too good, not with the feat -- but Perception as a super-skill, in turn, is too big a problem for that kind of simple fix.

Skills are sort of a wonky area, in terms of reforming character-generation to be more flexible. That's because the skills themselves are technically a separate area of the game, but there's a lot of overlap in terms of how the PCs interact with the skill system.

My suspicion is that the answer here is to have skills offer a comparatively modest "baseline" of effects that a particular skill can offer, and then have enhanced results limited to some sort of ability that characters can take. There aren't many examples of this in the d20 rules, however; the big one is that if you're a rogue, you know how to Disable Devices for magic traps as well as the mundane kind.

Now, it's probably more elegant to just have everyone be able to disable magic traps, but if you want to grant enhanced use of a skill, it shouldn't be limited to a particular class, since that comes with a large amount of baggage - it's combinations like that that are the source of my frustration.

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Another issue I have (and I suspect you share) is how the multiclassing rules do not work -- at all -- and how Paizo is attempting to patch that by adding whole books full of hybrid classes, instead of addressing the root issue.

Quite right. I couldn't agree more here.

Kirth Gersen wrote:
In any event, I appreciate the illustration of your point and your correction of my misunderstanding.

Not at all. Looking back, I was somewhat unclear in what I was trying to say, so I appreciate the chance to better elucidate my position.

LazarX wrote:

That's not a reasonable expectation for what is essentially a class based war-game. Actually it's not a reasonable assumption for ANY game, but for D20 it's a lot less so. Maybe you're too young to remember when the choices were literally nothing more than fighter, cleric, magic-user, and thief. No archetypes, no kits, nothing. The problem that this is not a rules loose narrative system like Storyteller, but a rules tight war-game that has been piling roleplaying additions on it since Chainmail.

On the other hand, you need flexibility on the player side as well. Instead of huffing when you can't pound your square peg in a round hole, filing some of the sharp corners a bit. Try to find parts of the concept that you can live with out.

I disagree. As thejeff already pointed out, I've found a d20 variant that already does this to my satisfaction.

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LazarX wrote:
That book landed Wizards in a fair sized tub of hot water. Palladium outright threathened to sue for the Palladium inclusion mechanics within, and TSR sent a cease and desist over the inclusion of AD+D game mechanics in it as well.

Yes, but that's completely irrelevant to the discussion in general and the point I was making in particular. The book's quality in its presentation of stats for gods remains stellar even without the conversion notes in the back (to say nothing of that threat ending in a settlement, rather than a judgment).

Lincoln Hills wrote:
Of course it's an opinion - I didn't try to disguise it as a fact. The term 'badwrongfun' inherently mocks the attempt to make something subjective sound objective. I'm sure nobody was confused.

On the internet, you can never be too sure.

Lincoln Hills wrote:
I hope you took my general point - that stats for gods bring out the 'topper' in optimization-lovers.

I took that point, I just don't think it's a genuine disincentive for having stats for gods. That's because 1) I don't live in fear of the optimization-lovers, and 2) they're going to do what they do anyway. We already have char-op boards, so it's not like not having stats for gods is somehow the only thing constraining them.

Lincoln Hills wrote:
Major shake-ups are good, as I said; allowing the GM to choose when they happen, as opposed to the blindness of a natural 1 in an unexpected place, is not necessarily bad. Therefore stat blocks present a hazard that 'unstatted' gods don't.

I don't believe the second sentence follows the first, because it presumes that there's no middle ground between something being purely GM fiat, and something that's decided by nothing more than a roll of the die.

Just because you have stats for gods doesn't mean that the PCs are necessarily going to be able to then engage them directly in a fight. There's a large space between "under the GM's absolute control" and "the GM's hands are completely tied."

Lincoln Hills wrote:
Accept the risk if you like.

Leaving aside that I think the risk is mostly illusory, I can't accept it. Not having those stats available means that I'm not being given the choice to accept it. The best I can do (notwithstanding third-party materials) is try to figure out a way to make them on my own, which is a far and away more difficult task than having them already be available for use.

Lincoln Hills wrote:
Sentence 1: agreed. Sentence 2 does not follow from Sentence 1 because it treats all deicides as equal.

I don't believe that it does treat all deicides as equal. Rather, it points out that the threat of "PCs killing gods" is not an absolute one, and can be managed by the GM, instead of being some sort of bogeyman that needs to be kept locked away at all costs.

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For me, part of the frustration with Pathfinder is an inherent element of how the game mechanics are designed, in terms of PC-generation.

The PC rules enforce what I call "defensive design" in terms of balance. That is, there's an implicit understanding that the players can't be trusted not to create an "unbalanced" character, and so the game rules are set up in such a way so as to constrain the available choices to those that are balanced.

I find this problematic for several reasons.

The biggest one is that this principle leads to the idea that anything published by Paizo abides by this rule; that is, that Paizo has made sure to rigorously playtest and "balance" everything they release. This leads to "primacy of RAW"-thinking that suggests that because you can create some outrageous combination using the existing rules, that must be okay. How could it not be, after all? Paizo published it, so it must be balanced.

The problem is that this is all based on the false presumption that balance can be mechanically enforced (or that it was ever an issue of combat parity at the encounter-level to begin with). This isn't the case in a game with Pathfinder's level of mechanical complexity and wide array of options.

Worse, this implicit sanction of being balanced undercuts the role of the GM in the game. It used to be understood that the GM was a referee, and that part of what he or she was refereeing was not only the course of the campaign, but what the players brought to the table. Game designers did the best they could, but there was no guarantee that something wasn't going to be problematic, let alone this idea that everything would be on the proverbial table so that you could cherry-pick whatever you wanted from a huge variety of splatbooks.

That meant that the GM had to step up to keep things flowing smoothly. While I'm of the opinion that the best GMs found a way to compensate for overpowered characters in-game by making sure that everyone found some time in the spotlight, it wasn't considered out-of-bounds for the GM to say "your character is becoming a problem; we need to talk about this." Heck, the game even had in-game mechanisms by which solutions could be delivered - rules that were heavy-handed because the GM was trusted not to abuse them, the same way players were trusted not to create overpowered munchkin characters.

The same way the game itself trusted the group to figure out what worked best and go with that, rather than writing the rules to protect the players from themselves.

To be fair, previous editions of the game were much heavier in what was disallowed. Ability score requirements for races and classes, demihuman level limits, etc. all offered far fewer options. But there was a reason for that - older versions of D&D didn't want to be a game that could be everything to everyone. It knew what it wanted to be, and if that wasn't your cup of tea, then it was quite forward about not being the game for you.

Third Edition, with its credo of "options, not restrictions" broke from that tradition. It wanted to let players do whatever they wanted - but it found that it couldn't live up to that promise, since that could conceivably result in some options being "better" than others on their face. Worse, giving players that many choices required breaking elements of restriction that were hard-coded into the game (e.g. powers and abilities that were tied into packages via "class levels), and breaking those down would change D&D to the point where it didn't look like D&D anymore.

The end result was the current mish-mash of mechanics that were - despite the "options, not restrictions" mantra - very restricted. Rather than giving us the tools to make whatever characters we wanted, we were given a very limited set of options, with the promise that if we kept up with the supplement treadmill, they'd proliferate to the point where there might as well not be any options. Can't make the character you want under the current rules? There's a supplement for that! Order now!

That's not only not true, but it never will be true. Mechanics that are built to protect against - rather than trust in - the agency of the people playing the game by definition won't offer a full spectrum of choices, since it can't guarantee the "balance in every combat encounter" presumption that it (and many of the players) have come to expect.

The result is an ever-growing system of rules that pretend to be balanced, when the reality is anything but, all rubber-stamped to be presented as options that are all equally good.

So yeah...I find that a little frustrating.

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Little Red Goblin Games wrote:


Sorry for the triple post here but this has quickly become our fastest moving free product ever. Would you guys like to see support/expansion for this in the future?

I certainly would.

I disagree with Zhayne in that I find that putting restrictions into base classes - provided that such restrictions have a rational basis for their existence - can be a fun way to create flavor for a class. Quite often, boundaries give us greater freedom than the paralyzing "any combination of anything," in my opinion at least.

Though I did note that, under the "Spells" header, the first sentence of the first paragraph says that a forsworn prepares her spells from the druid spell list, whereas the third sentence of the fourth paragraph says she prepares her spells from the cleric spell list.

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Jessica Price wrote:
A lot of the accepted "truths" about what women are interested in don't distinguish between what they like fantasizing about versus what they actually want or are willing to do in real life, spring from the answers researchers got to questions framed based on what they knew about male sexuality, and aren't necessarily trustworthy because they don't compensate for the negative consequences women have suffered (and still do suffer) for answering honestly.

This is a very good point.

I believe that what someone likes in their fantasies versus what they like in reality is an important difference that all too often is overlooked with regards to everyone, not just women. That said, it does seem to be held against women more often with regards to sex.

Still, one doesn't have to look very hard to find instances of people of any gender being punished for expressing an appreciation for something as a fantasy that they know would be unacceptable in reality. While they know the difference, most of their critics don't seem to, since they seem to think that the maligned person is advocating in favor of whatever-that-fantasy-is actually happening to real people.

This is not only tragic, it's ironic, since this sort of unthinking reprobation accomplishes nothing save for heaping misery on someone who's not only done nothing wrong, but was exhibiting a fair amount of courage to speak up in the first place.

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SRS wrote:
Nonsense. Criticism is just as valid as artistic intent.

I'm not saying that criticism isn't valid. I'm saying that your criticism, made above, isn't valid.

The reason for that is that you're saying you know for a fact that the creator was intending to make the characters in the picture convey a specific presentation, such as sexiness (above and beyond the presumption that that presentation is there to begin with). Worse, you're saying you know what the artist's motivation was.

That's not criticism; that's simply making things up based on nothing at all.

In fact, an artist's personal intent is irrelevant for some forms of criticism, and suspect at best. What is perfectly allowed is to view artwork in its context and extrapolate intent.

Leaving aside the inherent contradiction of admitting that it's "suspect at best" to look at an artist's personal intent and then saying that it's "perfectly allowed," you seem to be missing the point. Extrapolating intent from what's shown in the picture is simply guessing, with absolutely no criteria for determining how accurate that guess may be.

Interpreting what's being depicted in a piece of artwork is variable enough on its own. Trying to use that as a medium to divine the intent of creator is basically impossible. Art has always been a heavily opaque medium where communicating a message - if one even exists - between the creator and the viewer is concerned.

Your supposing that you've done just that is the height of disingenuousness.

If you think my interpretation is off, then make your case without all the emotional nonsense.

I've already made my case. Attempting to dismiss it with weak ad hominem statements like "emotional nonsense" only shows that you have no real answer for what I've said. That's to be expected, as there's no real way you can defend your guesswork as being in any way analytical.

The fact is, your interpretation of that picture is no more or less accurate than any other interpretation, and trying to say what the artist meant to showcase is a fool's errand.

Read some professional art criticism in peer reviewed journals.

Pot calling the kettle black does not a pithy argument make.

Put simply, your rules make it impossible to say things like "the artist intended to draw females" and "the artist intended to make them sexy." Seriously?

Realizing that you can't draw conclusions about a person by the art they create is something I take seriously indeed.

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SRS wrote:
The vacuity is intentional. It accomplishes two things. 1. It makes the women appear available, because they are the type that overflow with lust. 2. It makes them seem menacingly hungry, but unintelligent enough to yield to the powerful male viewer.

In all honesty, this sort of sentiment strikes me as far more offensive than any of the pictures linked to so far. SRS, unless you're the creator of that artwork, how exactly do you know what the artist's intent was?

Simply put, you don't. You've assigned motivation to the artist, and through that, an objective interpretation of the picture, all based on absolutely nothing. That makes your statements completely misrepresentative, which is bad enough, but its misrepresentation also assigns poor (by which I mean "likely to be offensive") intent to the artist, which is even worse.

This kind of falsification doesn't help the debate; it inhibits it. If you find that a picture is evocative of something, just say that that's how you personally view it. Don't try and say that must be what the artist was going for all along.

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Lord Snow wrote:
Sure, I'll try to explain. The easiest way to understand my problem with it would be for you to try to imitate the pose (I tried it myself and couldn't really manage it). Just try standing like that. Look at the way her hip is twisted sideways and to the back, while the lag on the other side is forward.

The problem I have with this reasoning is that it's incumbent on the presumption that illustrations need to maintain total fidelity to reality (at least insofar as drawing people goes).

Notwithstanding sketching a live model, or the artist otherwise making a deliberate attempt to draw a life-like picture (which quite often gets into a whole 'nother can of worms regarding "how do we judge the artist's intent?" and "to what degree does the artist's intent matter anyway?"), I don't see any reason to make that presumption.

Indeed, the idea that something is "bad art" because it's not completely realistic in some regard strikes me as being a poor metric for judging aesthetic works. Most artwork, in my opinion, has a strong symbolic element that runs counter to the very idea that it needs to be realistic in what it portrays.

This is especially true when it comes to the human form, which is easily recognized without needing to display it in a manner that's photo-realistic. Do the character designs in Order of the Stick warrant outrage for how unrealistic they are?

Hence why I don't respect this particular criticism.

The second thing I'd do to understand is to try and imagine her standing like that in a room with other people, and ask myself "what situation is this?" Will someone stand like that while talking to friends? perhaps while in combat? or while casting a spell? I think you'll find the answer to all of these potential questions to be "no" - this is simply no way for a human to stand. What it is is a way for a sex toy to be posed. Which is the problem, as far as I'm concerned.

Likewise, I can't respect this particular critique either, because it hinges on your failure of imagination in contextualizing the image.

Given that the character is divorced from the background imagery - and so all we have insofar is contextualization goes is the picture of the character herself - the reasons why she's standing like that can be literally anything that can possibly be imagined.

Without any clues to go on as to what her situation is, any and every possible scenario becomes equally plausible. Is she seducing someone? Is she a spider-person polymorphed into a human form and isn't sure how to distribute her weight? Is she Tacticslion's wife, standing how she normally does? All are equally possible, since there's nothing - no clues or context - to narrow the range of what her circumstances could be.

To say that the way she's carrying herself is beyond any scope of possibility is not an indictment of the artwork; it's an admission that you can't think of any, rather than there not being any. This places the onus for a perceived lack of plausibility on you, rather than on the picture.

I can understand your objections, but understanding them doesn't mean that I think they're particularly cogent.

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Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:

Land of Flowers

Topless woman destroys St Pete McDonalds; then eats ice cream out the damn machine!

...and the rest of the Justice League high-fived at the footage of drunk Wonder Woman.

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[Note: This is a cross-posting of the review I wrote over on RPGNow. I'm not affiliated with Silver Games, just to make that totally clear.]

Crossovers are something I’ve always enjoyed, and that’s doubly true for bringing characters from my favorite media into role-playing games. There’s an undeniable joy in being able to represent your favorite characters from comics, movies, and television in your campaign.

Said characters usually tend to be superheroes or the cast of various anime, in my experience. While I knew that there were plenty of fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic who fell outside of the show’s target demographic, I wouldn’t have thought that there’d be many Pathfinder fans among them, let alone enough to warrant an attempt to bring the former into the latter.

The existence of Silver Games’s Ponyfinder Campaign Setting is a testament to just how wrong I was. While unofficial (in that it doesn’t reference any of MLP:FiM’s intellectual property), this is still THE book for playing ponies in Pathfinder. Let’s take a look and see how well it brings the show to your tabletop.

Before we go any further though, a disclaimer: at the time of this writing, I’ve seen just over a dozen episodes of MLP:FiM (and read the show’s Wikipedia entry). As such, while I have a basic grasp on what it is this book is trying to showcase, there’s a good chance that I’m missing some of the finer points; if you’re a hardcore pony fan, then keep in mind that I may be overlooking something notable from later in the show.

I also need to take a moment to talk about the book’s artwork. I’ve seen plenty of first-offerings from new companies that were clearly operating on a shoe-string art budget, and wow was that not the case here. Ponyfinder is a book that’s resplendent with full-color art! Immediately after the colorful covers is a two-page map of the Everglow campaign world, drawn in a very bright style that makes it pop off the page. Moreover, the interior pages are all set on backgrounds reminiscent of the main Pathfinder books, being lightly-colored in the center of each page but slightly darkening towards the edges, where there are subtle designs in the background.

But far more notable than that are the character illustrations. The book is absolutely stuffed with colorful images of ponies (and other races). These illustrations are remarkably talented, and more than once I found myself smiling at the adorable pictures. Visually, this book knows exactly what to show to its fans.

Of course, all of this art means that the book is about 80 megabytes in size for 120 pages. Personally, my computer had no issues with displaying the images or scrolling through, but that might be an issue for some readers. Moreover, that makes the lack of a printer-friendly version all the more notable. This is similarly true with the book’s lack of search options – the table of contents isn’t hyperlinked, for example, nor are there any PDF bookmarks for ease of navigation. Still, the text is copy-and-paste enabled, so overall the book’s technical achievements are something of a mixed bag.

But enough about that, what about the ponies? Very cogently, the book opens with the first thing most readers will want to see: rules for pony characters.

Presented as a type of fey, full PC racial information is given for standard earth ponies. Smartly, the book doesn’t retread the same ground for other pony types, presenting breeds such as unicorns and pegasi with alternate racial traits, rather than presenting full stat racial stat blocks again and again.

If it had stopped with just the basic three types of ponies, that probably would have been enough for many, if not most, fans. But I have to give Ponyfinder props here – it went the extra mile and then some: there are over a half-dozen other pony breeds presented next, ranging from gem ponies to sea horses to zebras and more!

It doesn’t stop at just mechanics either, there’s a good page and a half of descriptive text regarding the pony race, and each breed has several paragraphs of description. Humorously, the book also discusses the mechanics of a race that can use their forelegs in a somewhat arm-like manner, but lacks fingers (hint: it’s not nearly as burdensome as it sounds – after all, the ponies on the show get along without fingers just fine). There’s also several paragraphs given to describing pony members of each class (although sub-classes such as ninja and samurai are ignored, as is the inquisitor, rather oddly).

A series of pony-specific mechanics follow, including two bloodlines (e.g. Unification, which is focused around bringing the pony tribes together), several class archetypes (ever wondered how a pony would be a gunslinger?), pony-specific evolutions for an eidolon, and quite a few feats for ponies. The last section is of specific note, as it’s here that we see a lot of the more notable aspects of the show brought into game form: a unicorn levitating items with her horn, for example, is a short feat-chain here, as is the way pegasi physically push clouds around, etc.

That’s not the end of it, as the book then moves on to seven other non-pony races that live in the world, such as griffons, sun cats, phoenix wolves, and others. Again, full racial information is presented alongside a discussion of their society, alignment, relationships, etc. Each even has a few (usually just under a half-dozen) race-specific feats presented.

That was the book’s first major section. While it was largely mechanics with a generous dose of expository writing, the second takes a more balanced approach between fluff and crunch. It opens, for example, with the eight gods of the pony pantheon. Deities such as the Sun Queen, the Night Mare, and Princess Luminance are all familiar shout-outs here. We also receive the height/weight and aging tables for the races in the previous chapter (information that I thought for sure would have been overlooked – kudos to the authors there).

I was quite pleased to see rules for ponies as animal companions and familiars presented next. That’s because having ponies as prominent, PC-focused NPCs like these is a great gateway to seeing how well ponies can work in your party if your group is unsure about the idea. Finally, a few optional rules (mostly in regards to how much realism you want regarding how well ponies can manipulate objects) are given.

Everything so far has been high-quality work, but it was the next chapter that truly sold me on Ponyfinder. This section, which highlights the timeline of Everglow, the campaign world, is where the book truly comes into its own.

A relatively young world (it’s entire recorded history spans less than 750 years), Everglow’s history is covered in three broad sections. These are the early days when the Pony Empire was just beginning, the height of the Empire, and after its fall (the latter presented as the default option). After giving us a timeline, each era’s major events are overviewed. Interestingly, the book then presents major factions active in each era (including faction traits) and several era-exclusive rules, such as breeds that are found primarily during that era and no other.

What grabbed me about this section was the tone that it presented. Rather than rigidly sticking to the (almost naively) optimistic tenor of the show, Ponyfinder does a truly excellent job of presenting the ponies as living in a more nuanced world. This isn’t a setting that pretends that everything can be solved with friendship – there are differences of opinion with no clear resolution (e.g. was the early expansion of the Empire the work of a unifier or a conqueror?), wars with evil ponies, and an overall sense of poignancy as the ponies have realized that their best days are behind them with the death of their great Empire, with no clear idea about what that means for them or what they should do about it.

For that alone, I admit that I’m very impressed with Ponyfinder. It’s can be tough to admit that the tenor of the source material needs to changed when changing how it’s presented; actually pulling off such a change without completely alienating the original feeling it evoked is even trickier. But this book pulled it off. I think that the best example of this is the Denial of Destiny feat found in this chapter, which represents a pony that has voluntarily scarred her Brand of Destiny (e.g. her cutie mark) off of her flank, representing her rejection of the role in life that the gods have chosen for her in favor of one she’s chosen for herself. That’s the sort of mature take on a familiar subject that elevates Ponyfinder above simply aping the conventions of MLP:FiM.

Following this are roughly twenty pages that outline the various locations of Everglow, along with several ponies (and groups of ponies) of note. I do wish we’d seen some stat blocks here, as there are no NPC listings to be found, and this would have been a perfect place for them. While I can see the advantage of not setting levels for specific NPCs (such as the Imperial Queen), it’s better to have them and decide not to use them, than to want them and find that you need to make them from scratch.

Several pages of adventure hooks (covering each of the world’s eras) are presented before we are given a chapter full of new mechanics. Here’s where you’ll find equipment meant specifically to be held in the mouth, for example, along with things like the “elements of destiny” magic items, a spell to make hooves sticky (and so grip things better), and quite a few starting traits (including ones specific to certain times and locations).

The book closes out with a bestiary, and while nothing here was bad it felt like something of an afterthought. The deeptide horse has no descriptive text, for instance, and the vanguard inevitable, with its emphasis on punishing liars and oathbreakers, doesn’t feel like its breaking any new ground. It’s a slightly weak ending for the book, though one that’s easy enough to overlook.

I should also take a moment to mention that a few errors did crop up throughout the book, though they were rarely anything more than minor. For example, the alternate racial traits for zebra ponies didn’t have a -2 ability modifier (which every other race had and so I assume was an oversight), or that the deity entries had their domains and subdomains all listed in the same line, rather than separating them.

What was more notable were several areas that a Pathfinder aficionado would likely look at as a missed opportunity. While nothing was lost, per se, by not doing so, there were several areas that could have benefited from additional Pathfinder rules. The various pony racial stats don’t have costs in Race Points (from the Advanced Race Guide) for example, nor do the gods have inquisitions listed (from Ultimate Magic). While the factions do have faction traits, I wonder if they could have benefited from full faction rules (from the Faction Guide), or if the towns listed could have had – rather than just their alignment, government type, and population breakdown – full community stat blocks (from the GameMastery Guide or Ultimate Campaign). Certainly, the fact that the Imperial Queen was an earth pony who became an alicorn is reason enough to create an alicorn mythic path (from Mythic Adventures).

I want to reiterate that I don’t hold any of these exclusions against the book; it’s just that I’m cognizant that it could have presented more than it did. Still, when the worst thing you can say about a book is that it left you wanting more, that’s not too bad a criticism.

The material that is in here though is excellent for what it presents; enough so that I’d call this a 4.5-star book (rounded down). The coverage of the source material is not only thorough, but is evocative of what’s presented in MLP:FiM while still being suitable for a Pathfinder campaign setting. While it seems like a stretch to bridge that gap, Ponyfinder successfully straddles the divide and keeps one hoof planted firmly in each world. That’s something that anypony, er, anybody can appreciate.

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Ross Byers wrote:
a Law-on-Law conflict.

You may call hot Law-on-Law action a conflict, but I call it Lawful Sexy.

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I'd say that Pathfinder is a game of disappearing bears' abilities.

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Bickering Partisans wrote:
Is it time to say "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS" yet?

I thought it'd be more along the lines of "THIS! IS! PAIZO!" and then get kicked (off the site).

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Domestichauscat wrote:

Amazing thread is amazing.

Gotta say, I'm curious about those who would assist the Bear Druid break free from this scenario.

The bear druid doesn't need assistance; he knows to go for the honey pot.


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Ellis Mirari wrote:
This is not true, at least, not the way you put it. Every work of fiction is a self expression of the author. While the thoughts and feelings of character in a work are not necessarily the opinions of the author (and they couldn't always be, because you will have characters with varying opinions), how those attitudes are approached in the story reveals the opinion of the author.

I don't believe this to be true.

The most that can definitively be said about a work of fiction as an expression of the author is that the author felt motivated to write a story. Beyond that, there's nothing that approaches certainty.

You admit that the thoughts/opinions/actions of characters don't necessarily reflect the view(s) of the author, which I agree with, but then hold that "how those attitudes are approached reveals the opinion of the author." This strikes me as being counterintuitive, as it hinges on the author having enough self-awareness to be able to write characters with a different point of view than his or her own, and yet lacking that same level of cognizance required to manipulate how those attitudes are "approached."

In other words, you seem to be holding that how characters are contextualized in the body of the narrative itself infallibly shows the author's personal stances towards the attitudes said characters embody. Needless to say, this is just as flawed as presuming that a particular character is nothing more than the author's mouthpiece.

Because there's no method for objectively knowing what someone else thinks, or feels, or believes, there's no form of creative expression (that is, art) which will flawlessly convey the message - if any - of its creator. The viewer will always bring some sort of personal interpretation to that which they consume; presuming that you've found a way to accurately judge the nature of the person who made something is therefore, to me, among the worst kind of mistake to make when reflecting on a given piece of art.

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I'm sympathetic to Mystically Inclined's point, and I think that he makes some good statements with regard why "player entitlement" is a bad thing.

However, I think that his post gets the idea of player entitlement wrong, not in its definition, but in its applicability.

From what I've seen, the issue with player entitlement isn't that they want an equivalent level of control with the GM over any/all aspects of the game itself - that is, entitled players (usually; I'm generalizing here) aren't trying to add new combat rules or setting details, or things like that.

Rather, it's an issue of an entitled player presuming that there's an area within the game that's their exclusive milieu, to use a word that Gary was fond of. That milieu is their character.

In other words, most issues with player entitlement that I see tend to come from the mindset of "it's my character; the GM has no place here!" It's often used to justify characters that are disruptive, either in their presumptions ("we're playing in a tribal, savage setting, so how exactly do you have an android PC?"), or their mechanics ("I cherry-picked my feats, traits, and classes from across a half-dozen books"), or both.

In fact, this dichotomy of entitled player-character theme and entitled player-character mechanics are fairly different, and need to be addressed separately.

The latter problem (e.g. mechanics) is one regarding the plausibility that all "official" rules play well together, so there's no rational basis for being denied something if Paizo's created it. A lot of players honestly seem to believe that GMs have no right to disallow a Paizo-created book, regardless of whether or not the GM has read it, because of the implicit assumption that Paizo has rigorously play-tested their materials, and so no combination of materials could ever be "unbalancing" in any regard.

Of course, that's nonsense. While Paizo certainly has high standards for what they put out, a diverse array of options and "balance defined as parity regarding combat effectiveness" are mutually exclusive for all but the most restrictive RPG systems (which the d20 System is not), and there's no level of quality control or play-testing that can change that.

Balance, I believe, is far more situational than mechanical. That is, making sure that everything is "balanced" (which I don't think necessarily means "equally effective in combat") is going to be incumbent primarily on the GM's ability to design encounters and arbitrate unexpected situations rather than how well all the rules interlock. The fact that people want different things out of the game seems to be proof enough of that, but I continue to see people who think otherwise - there's nothing wrong with the opinion that balance is a mechanical issue (there's certainly a mechanical component to it), but those who say that it's the primary issue tend to also be the ones most frustrated by the game rules, that I've seen.

The other issue is the sense of entitlement of theme of character. This is very different than rules-entitlement, because it deals with a different set of presumptions on the player's (and, to a degree, the GM's) part.

Thematically-entitled players believe in the credo of "PC exceptionalism" with regards to genre and setting convention. Questions of "appropriateness" with regard to their character don't apply, because an exceptional character will - by definition - exist free from such restraints to begin with.

Taking that view into account, telling someone else that they shouldn't be playing their character because it's inappropriate can often make them feel like you're undercutting the basic premise of playing in a heroic fantasy game. Likewise, having their character face in-game repercussions for being (wildly) different feels like you're punishing them for doing what they're supposed to be doing. It doesn't matter that they're playing a celestial-bloodline kitsune sorcerer in a low-magic medieval campaign, they're special because they're the hero/PC, so playing up social prejudice as a natural consequence is undercutting the unspoken underpinnings of the game itself.

The focal point for both views is that the player has absolute control over their character, and the GM controls everything else. How much the player insists on that level of separation and personal control is likely to be the indicator for just how much of an "entitled" player they are.

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Wow, nostalgia flashback! Man alive I remember how those pics inspired me so vividly back when I was a kid.

Ironically, the one that did the biggest number on me isn't there; it wasn't by the same artist, and wasn't from Nintendo Power. I can't find it today, but it was (if I recall correctly) on a plast lunchbox, of all things, and showed a close-up of Link on a staircase inside some tower. The stairs ended (implying a long drop) directly behind him, and a huge armored knight took up the entire stairway in front of him...and I think a window showed a castle in the background.

That, to me, was the iconic "back against the proverbial wall" image. I remember it being more "cartoony" than these images, but I was awed by it nonetheless.

Rysky wrote:

*sees picture of Marin and Link on the beach*



I think that might have been the first game where I cried at the end.

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I'm a pretty big fan of the setting. I quite like how it's pretty well explicitly stated that the PCs can't achieve any sort of real, lasting victory against the BBEG of the campaign - he's essentially Sauron with no One Ring to act as a weakness.

Some people find that to be a downer; "why play a game where you know you're going to lose?" I hear them ask.

To me, that question misses the point. Heroes are heroic (again, to me) because they struggle uphill; they know that losing is - as Dr. Strangelove said - not only possible, but likely. To them, winning may be necessary, in terms of giving up not being an option, but it's improbable. Heroes don't operate under the notion that we, the audience, have about stories requiring that heroes win in order to fulfill our expectations of narrative structure - to them, it's probably going to end badly.

I enjoy Midnight because it doesn't let that grim expectation of loss be subverted, at least not at the highest levels of good vs. evil in the campaign world. You can make a difference on a local level, but at the end of the day evil is going to win. It's quite literally a foregone conclusion.

That, to me, makes the heroes of the realm even more heroic, because they know that there's no real victory to be had by fighting...and then they fight anyway. With nothing to gain and everything to lose, along with no specter of hope (which, again, is what we the audience project onto them in our certainty that good must triumph over evil), they still go and do the right thing, even when it costs them everything.

The setting is called Midnight because it presents a pitch-black world of evil that never moves towards the dawn. As Archpaladin Zousha said, light shines much brighter against such a background.

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In an adventure set up for a small party of paladins - all of whom are endowed with full legal authority - they must fight their way to the top of a tower where a gang is producing contraband, battling hordes of thugs, corrupt paladins-turned-blackguards, and...even more hordes of thugs.

Dredd: the Adventure - because sometimes paladins make other people of buildings.

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DarkPhoenixx wrote:
Thats why when know you gonna encounter succubi you need to don your armor of Grinding.

I prefer to use my rod of lordly might on her.

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Taskmagus Black wrote:

Since we started with a Monk grappling a succubus, why didn't the monk use a style while fighting the succubus?

Was it monkey style grapple giving you your Wisdom bonus on Acrobatics checks, and take no penalty for attacking while prone, monkey moves for a Wisdom bonus on Climb checks, and climb and crawl at half speed?
Could lead to faster and easier mounting of the succubus if you try to pin.

Snake style grapple, Gaining +2 on Sense Motive checks, and deal piercing damage with unarmed attacks, then leading to Snake Sidewind to gain a bonus to avoid being knocked prone, and use Sense Motive check to confirm critical hits on unarmed attacks. This would be great for a Monk/Alchemist hybrid with the tentacle discovery because with sense motive you "HAVE SEEN" enough hentai to know where this is going and the tentacle is considered an unarmed attack. Research pending on using said knowledge for confirmation on critical hits. I just can't seem to find the right spot!

Or in the case of a female monk pinning the succubus what about Snapping Turtle Style or Snapping Turtle Clutch? Sure one handed grapple is -4 to the maneuver but you get a +1 shield bonus when one of your hands is free and your shield bonus applies to your CMD and touch AC. Hmm... I wonder where a woman would use that could be called a snapping turtle in a pin or grapple? We must research this at once!

That's without getting into the benefits of the monk using doggy style grappling.

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Claxon wrote:
My point was not that he'll get in some sort of trouble for his action. That's preposterious. The accusation that such was my intent as evidence to indicate he should go about creating stats for gods is dubious.

It's not dubious; it's the most logical conclusion that can be drawn when someone asks "how do I do X" and someone else answers, "Paizo doesn't want you to do that."

It's his home game, and he's not concerned with keeping things "canon" or "official" - so then the question becomes why did you or anyone else bring up Paizo, let alone their desires, in the first place? They have no input into this equation, so who cares what they want?

My assertion was to say to him, "Think about the question you're asking and the way the game world is intended to be." It's fine if he wants to circumvent this, it is his world and his players game. I will never know the difference. But as LazarX said, does he really intend of having mortals fight a god? Does he actually want to give them a fair chance of success? If not, then their is no point in creating stats for them.

The game world is "intended" to be whatever the GM and players want - again, this isn't a setting issue. Even if he is using Golarion, he's not bound to use any of the setting's intrinsic assumptions, tropes, or defaults. He's not circumventing anything - he's making the game his own, which is something that most people here seem to support, except for when it becomes something like stats for deities, which just seems to make many people start frowning and trying to explain why that's badwrongfun.

Your last sentence is a perfect example of that - you and LazarX have objectively set what the "point" of stats for deities is, and then questioned if the OP can possibly meet that. The idea that the point of this is to have fun - whether in a combat encounter, some other kind of encounter, or even just in making the stats themselves - suddenly isn't the most important thing anymore; now it's measuring them on a (rather harsh) scale of practicality, which can be objectively measured and critiqued.

Even that might have some merit if the OP had asked for a discussion about the merits-versus-faults of having stats for gods at all. But (s)he didn't; they just wanted to know how to do it, rather than have a debate.

Requests for help with something (at least something game-related on these boards) shouldn't have to be justified. If you don't want to help, just don't answer.

That said, Reynolds-sama, you might want to try checking out the Immortal's Handbook: Ascension for an alternate take on (3.5) stats for deities.

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HolmesandWatson wrote:
Just wondering if the 'disposability of characters' concept was some aspect of tournament vs 'regular' modules.

I believe that it was. I wrote this a little while back in another thread, but I'll repost it here:

I've been doing some reading about the early history of D&D, and this idea of "Gygax was always throwing around instant death traps" is overstated.

The reason that this idea caught on is because, back in the early days of TSR, they were trying to drum up business by running tournaments at various conventions. These tournaments were usually multi-round elimination contests, where dozens of characters who played through the first round needed to be whittled down to a much smaller group who could advance to the second round. Also, the PCs received scores based on the things they did during the adventure, and the longer they were running around the dungeon the more the DM had to tabulate after the adventure ended, again, for dozens of characters usually run back-to-back in a very tight time-frame.

Both of these considerations meant that these tournament modules were incredibly lethal, as that eased the burden on the DMs that were doing so much so quickly. The fact that these were one-shots with (randomly) assigned pre-gens for the players helped to dull the sudden loss of a character also.

But these tournament modules had a tendency to survive the tournaments they were made for. TSR realized that they could make some extra money by repackaging and selling these adventures for retail purchase...and often, the only changes made were to remove the scoring instructions for the DMs, since those weren't needed for a campaign (though sometimes those were left in).

So you eventually had extremely deadly modules sitting on store shelves, many of which had Gary's name on them, and the idea that "Gygax is a killer DM" quickly began to become accepted wisdom in the community, with people forgetting that there was a very specific reason why he wrote them that way to begin with.

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TOZ wrote:
What is Nightmare Keep?

It's a Forgotten Realms adventure from right around the beginning of AD&D Second Edition.

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Sissyl wrote:
It's as if their Rule 0 is "Every player must always be allowed to play whatever misbegotten heap of special abilities they want".

It's worth noting that this discussion isn't limited to how "appropriate" a given race is, or point-whoring special abilities. Just a character idea can be enough to disrupt a campaign for everyone in the name of that player's personal enjoyment.

Our previous campaign (set in the GM's homebrew world) was set to be a Gothic Horror-style campaign. The GM told us this with plenty of advance notice, and otherwise didn't care what sort of characters we made.

After hearing that, two of our group decided that they wanted to play tag-team luchador wrestlers. One spoke just like Hulk Hogan, and the other kept using faux-Spanish. This very much broke the immersion regarding the feel of the campaign; the GM didn't say anything, simply trying to make things work around the characters, but the damage was done.

It's that sort of "this pleases me, and since games are meant to be fun, I don't need to consider anything else" attitude that's the root of the problem.

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Sissyl wrote:
If only the Americans could have upheld the twentieth amendment.

...if only Americans could have upheld the date for when Presidential and Congressional terms begin and end, and the process of what to do when a President-Elect dies?

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Justin Rocket wrote:
Asphere wrote:
Justin Rocket wrote:
Stebehil wrote:

No, the folks are sent home and don´t get any money for that time. Gotta pay some bills? Too bad, thats what you get for working for the gov´t - that what some right-wing nuts would say, I guess.

And what the left-wing nuts would say as well.

I am not sure I follow this whole "both parties are to blame" rhetoric. The PPACA was enacted by congress after much compromise from both parties. The current spending bill has nothing to do with the PPACA other than the fact that some conservatives have used it as a hostage to defund the PPACA.

Friday, 9/20/13 - The House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution that would fully fund the government (including things that Republicans don't like) while at the same time defunding Obamacare.

Result: House Republicans compromised on spending that we'd like to see cut in exchange for defunding Obamacare.

Friday, 9/27/13 - The Senate stripped the defunding language out of the House passed Continuing Resolution and sent it back to the House.
Result: Harry Reid and Senate Democrats refused to compromise.

Saturday, 9/28/13 - The House of Representatives added two amendments to the Senate revised Continuing Resolution to delay Obamacare for one year (far from what we were originally willing to agree to) and repeal the medical device tax.
Result: House Republicans compromised away from defunding to delaying Obamacare for one year.

Monday, 9/30/13 - The Senate stripped the two amendments from the House passed Continuing Resolution and sent it back to the House.
Result: Harry Reid and Senate Democrats refuse to compromise one inch on Obamacare.

It looks to me like the responsibility for the failure to reach a solution fell on both parties.

Perhaps an analogy would help you see how insane this is.

Husband: Before I sign off on us getting a joint checking account, you need to agree to stop using our car. If you keep using it you're going to mess it up.

Wife: Just sign the papers, honey.

Husband: Oh my God, I can't believe you're not budging on this! Look, I haven't even mentioned all of that other stuff you do that annoys me, like how you don't cook or put out whenever I want. *sighs* Fine, look, how about you just don't use the car on weekends, okay? That's a lot less than I was just asking for.

Wife: Sweety just...just sign the papers. We've had this fight before and it never gets resolved and we really need this checking account opened.

Now, should the wife have compromised and tried to find some version of her husband's offer that she could have agreed to, or should she have done what she did above, and not have entertained his proposals?

That's what led to the current shut down, in a nutshell.

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TheAntiElite wrote:
I wonder if sarcasm mages can have snark familiars...

Oh yeah, I'm sure that's what they have.

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I read Tim's blog; he's the perfect person to do a witch book - this should be great.

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Icyshadow wrote:
So how is Ashiel's example situation opinion and not a fact, when by the rules a Paladin would fall whether he lied or not?

It's an opinion because it presumes that the paladin is trapped in that (false) dichotomy. There's no reason for him to play along with that scheme instead of, say, saving the person in distress.

I believe that all Ashiel's example showcases is the failure of hypothetical situations; namely that when you create a scenario which exists solely to try and prove a point, it's not going to relate to actual game-play very well at all.

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James Jacobs wrote:
XperimentalDM wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Just to get this on the table: I not only want, but demand, that this include reprints/rewrites of SKR's writeups.
In fact, those writeups are going to form the backbone of the book. They'll mostly all be expanded upon as well.
Does this mean Asmodan Paladins and some of Erastils vaguely chauvinistic traits will get retconned out?
Yes. Those elements I regard in the same way as typos or errata—the were never really appropriate or intended for those deities in the first place.

Add me to those who are disappointed about this. While the Asmodean paladins never made sense (since I think that all divine spellcasters should be subject to the "one-step-away" rule for their alignment versus their god's), I disagree with the idea that someone is only as "good" as their worst quality - or that their worst quality is somehow the most definitive part of them.

Splinter churches, creative (re)interpretations of canon, clerics who focus on some part's of a god's portfolio/orthodoxy more than others (hence why only two domains) and others are all ways that a cleric of Erastil can still be in their god's good graces while ignoring the sexist aspects of his faith; the idea that Erastil can't be good-aligned while holding that view is, to me, a failure of imagination.

It's necessary, at this point, for me to state that I think social justice, equality, and feminism are all unequivocally good things. I just also like nuance in the game world - promoting issues of social justice in the context of the game (e.g. non-heteronormative characters) while avoiding the uncomfortable flipsides to these issues (e.g. good-aligned characters who do not believe in equality across all demographic spectra), strikes me as being a bit too simplistic, too idealized, for a world that wants to present itself as having depth. Depth means conflict, and while not all conflict requires social controversy, that's usually where the shades of grey lurk...and a lot of good role-playing can come out of shades of grey (so long as there aren't fifty of them *rimshot*).

And before anyone says so, yes, I know I can add all of these into the game manually; that's not the point I'm trying to make. The point is that I wish they were there to begin with.

Now, I recognize why they're not. Paizo has championed making people feel included/not offending people as being paramount, for reasons that are a mixture of ethics and marketability. Again, it must be stated that making people feel welcome and included is an unequivocally good thing. I'm just not sure that I agree with the premise that such inclusiveness necessitates scrubbing the controversial elements from the game world.

Rant off.

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Just so long as we could call it World War G.

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LazarX wrote:
Vamptastic wrote:

Who honestly doesn't just bring their own food into the theater? That's the reason you bring a date, and you tell them to bring some oversized popular purse.

I don't. The food concessions are the main revenue source for paying the staff. Bringing your own food in is not that much better than stealing tips from diner tables.

That's not at all comparable. Unless I'm wildly off-base, the staff at a theater are paid hourly wages; they don't make any extra money in a given day based on how much popcorn/soda/snacks are sold, nor are they paid less if sales are bad.

Servers at restaurants can be paid below minimum wage because it's expected that they'll be tipped regularly - to say nothing of the fact that they are supposed to be waiting on you directly, taking your orders, refilling your drinks, and checking to make sure everything's okay, none of which the movie staff does - but you don't tip the theater staff.

Now, you could talk about not buying the snacks as having an impact on the theater's operating costs, true, but that's the same as patronizing any business that sells products/services. It's not at all akin to tipping.

EDIT: ...aaaand that's step 8.5.

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
It would be, except that's not what should be happening, IMHO. The group makes up their house-rules in advance, and then the group reviews them after the session is over. Neither one occurs during play.

So there's never a situation where any sort of confusion or ambiguity or disagreement arises during the course of actually playing the game? Even if you can run an entire campaign without that happening, that's so incredibly unlikely that it isn't very helpful in a practical context.

During play, the DM runs encounters according to the rules the group has already made up, and each player plays their character according to those rules. In this paradigm, the DM isn't the only person who matters, or who gets to decide anything. Remember, the whole point is to allow the DM to shift his focus away from rules arbitration and onto running encounters and such.

Leaving aside the fact that a paradigm where the GM gets to make calls doesn't imply that the GM is "the only person who matters," my point is that there's no single set of written rules that can alleviate the burden of rules arbitration from the GM. At some point there's going to be an issue where some arbitration is necessary that wasn't anticipated ahead of time.

Making house rules by committee doesn't get away from that, since plenty of people aren't going to make the distinction about the rules being "broken" because people have to make personal changes, regardless of whether it's done by committee after the fact or by the GM during game-play.

The fact that you have to personalize it that much to begin with shows that balance isn't found in the rules. Differentiating "house rules voted on by the group" from "GM fiat" is a semantic difference in how you're adjusting "balance" for situationality (which is my main point).

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Popularity has nothing to do with anything. You claimed these players are "nameless," but anyone having read any number of threads in most sections of these boards, dating back however many years, can name most of these "nameless" people. We're generally a community here, not a collection of drive-by snipers. That applies even to people who disagree with one another.

Yes, we're a community here, which makes it hilarious that you think that your little homebrew has made any sort of impact to the point where everyone should know about it when you name-drop it.

That's leaving aside the fact that name-dropping it as some sort of proof that there's a set of rules that are objectively balanced to everyone's satisfaction and in all game-play circumstances is not only self-evidently wrong, but terribly conceited.

Being part of a community means placing an emphasis on everyone in it, not on inflating your own sense of accomplishment.

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
You seem to have missed the whole point, by assuming it's an "argument" that I'm trying to "win."

You've definitely missed the whole point, by assuming that "argument" doesn't mean "assertion," which is what you made.

I've laid out my personal experience, showing that a rules-driven (vs. DM-driven) game can work very nicely, despite the nay-sayers who claim that the DM must always be God.

Laying out your opinion doesn't "show" anything, except that you have an opinion, despite your hyperbolic statements that you think any GMs who don't slavishly obey the RAW must think that they're God.

P.S. I also find it amusing that, in defending "theory is worthless and only personal experience counts," that you're so quick to argue based on theory and discount personal experience.

Not as amusing as I find it that you keep arguing that there's an objectively "better" set of rules based only on your personal experience.

P.S. As far as "unnamed," you must seriously be new around here.

As far as "being new around here" goes, you must seriously overestimate how popular your little homebrew is.

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I agree with the OP that theorycrafting bears little resemblence to actual game-play. Honestly, I'd think that if theorycraft builds work the way they're "supposed" to in an actual game only 10% of the time, that's shockingly high.

People seem to forget that the whole point of Game Mastering is to make sure that one player doesn't break the game, and that everyone gets a chance to be in the spotlight - in other words, to make the game fun for everyone - which means tailoring encounters and setting a pace for the campaign that's most conducive to that.

This is contrasted sharply with this idea that's suddenly come into vogue that the GM is always supposed to run things explicitly "by the book," with no room for personal interpretation, fiat, or customization. That's without getting into the idea that a lot of players presume that they're allowed access, as a default, to all Paizo-created books.

GMs are not helpless in the face of some sort of optimized build that takes advantage of some combination of feats, spells, archetypes, traits, or whatnot from across half-a-dozen or more books to achieve some grossly broken result. Not letting that steamroll the campaign is not a sign of the GM picking on you, abusing their authority, or breaking the rules - it's the sign of good GMing.

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Grapple the succubus first, and then show her your "bull rush."

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DeathQuaker wrote:
My point, which was "RPGs have changed in how they were played, and we shouldn't assert that something has to be a certain way because that's how Gary Gygax did it," stands.

And my point, which was "'the way what Gary Gygax did it' is often not the way he did it at all, except when trying to accomplish very specific things," also stands.

I have re-added the context which provides that.

No you haven't, your post that I quoted still reads the same as it does before.

I'm sorry the fluff at the beginning didn't work for you,

I accept your apology, and I forgive you in full.

but it's hyperbole, the purpose of which is to help illustrate a point even if it is an exaggeration.

The problem is that the point itself isn't a very strong one. That's without even getting into the fact that RPGs were "evolving beyond Gygax" before D&D was a year old.

And perhaps my actual point is even much better reinforced by your post,

It's not.

as Pathfinder I don't think is at all designed for tournament play, so thanks for your help.

D&D wasn't "designed for" tournament play any more than Pathfinder is, which again undercuts what you're saying. So thanks for the help in disproving your original assertion.

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
I've never died in a plane crash. Guess what? That doesn't mean the laws of physics prevent planes from falling out of the air. It just means it hasn't personally happened to me, thanks to the hard work of the engineers, mechanios, navigators, and pilots. It takes a lot of effort to keep a plane from falling.

Presuming that the airline passengers are the wizards, and a plane crash is a "god-wizard," then this isn't a very good analogy.

A better analogy would be "people keep talking about how awful plane crashes are, but I've never actually experienced one...has anyone here ever experienced one?" and getting a bunch of chirping crickets in reply.

Yes, planes crash sometimes, but so fantastically rarely that if you want to see one outside of a news report, you'll pretty much need to work hard to go against the existing mechanisms of flying to deliberately make that happen.

...which is also like a god-wizard.

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DeathQuaker wrote:

If we were all still playing the game as intended by Gary Gygax, most of our characters would be permadead after hitting that instadeath trap on Level 1 of The Dungeon. And I for one after failing 20 saving throws and writing up 19 new characters, would have probably quit RPGs and be reading a book instead.

God bless him and god rest his soul, but as much as the man contributed to RPGs along with Dave Arneson, and as much as I am grateful for that, I for one am glad RPGs have evolved past certain ideas Gygax had.

At the risk of going off-topic, I wanted to speak to this. I've been doing some reading about the early history of D&D, and this idea of "Gygax was always throwing around instant death traps" is overstated.

The reason that this idea caught on is because, back in the early days of TSR, they were trying to drum up business by running tournaments at various conventions. These tournaments were usually multi-round elimination contests, where dozens of characters who played through the first round needed to be whittled down to a much smaller group who could advance to the second round. Also, the PCs received scores based on the things they did during the adventure, and the longer they were running around the dungeon the more the DM had to tabulate after the adventure ended, again, for dozens of characters usually run back-to-back in a very tight time-frame.

Both of these considerations meant that these tournament modules were incredibly lethal, as that eased the burden on the DMs that were doing so much so quickly. The fact that these were one-shots with (randomly) assigned pre-gens for the players helped to dull the sudden loss of a character also.

But these tournament modules had a tendency to survive the tournaments they were made for. TSR realized that they could make some extra money by repackaging and selling these adventures for retail purchase...and often, the only changes made were to remove the scoring instructions for the DMs, since those weren't needed for a campaign (though sometimes those were left in).

So you eventually had extremely deadly modules sitting on store shelves, many of which had Gary's name on them, and the idea that "Gygax is a killer DM" quickly began to become accepted wisdom in the community, with people forgetting that there was a very specific reason why he wrote them that way to begin with.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Anzyr wrote:
First, there is a middle ground but it requires that the Wizard deliberately hold themselves back and when your talking about class balance saying something is ok as long as it doesn't use it's special moves is kind of bad balancing method.

I disagree. I think that the GM can put a stop to these kinds of shenanigens, even without breaking the rules as written.


Let me show the kind of tactics an all powerful wizard can utilize.

I don't usually have to worry about finding new spells to learn. They are nice to have but hardly necessary.

You've already placed a huge limitation on yourself, here. You've essentially written off all spells except those gained as part of character creation and level advancement.

Let's assume then that you start with a 20 Intelligence. You'll have (we'll assume that you always take the highest level spells you can):

"All" 0-level spells.
8 1st-level spells to start with.
2 more 1st-level spells at 2nd level.
4 spells of each spell level thereafter (e.g. two 2nd-level spells at 3rd and 4th level, etc).

That's incredibly limiting, particularly for some of the combinations you want to bring out.

For example at 5th Level, Explosive Runes and Animate Dead, Lesser is extremely potent. Explosive Runes lets you convert a 3rd level spell slot into an damage spell that can be stored until used.

Leaving aside this spell's abysmal damage, I'm not sure what you think that this does in terms of combat application. I suppose you could say that you take out a parchment with them and shove them in the face of your enemies, which makes them read them and causes them to detonate...but since you're holding it, you'll also be close enough to take the damage with no save.

In other words, having a hundred pages of explosive runes doesn't really earn you anything.

Animate Dead, Lesser gives us a free meatshield (tragically we're locked out of the Bloody Skeleton until 7th level).[/i]

It's also an evil spell, which means that repeated castings are likely to cause an alignment change. That's not something really covered by the rules, but it's certainly within the purview of the GM to enforce that your character keeps using animated bodies.

An example of how to combine these two spells is to place Explosive Runes on your new disposable minion and send it into melee combat with the target you want dead. Make sure each rune is on a different object (I like Capes) and have your party member read the explosive runes. Anyone close enough to the Skeleton takes X * 6d6 damage where X is however many Explosive Runes your have stored.

Which has several problems unto itself.

Leaving aside the issue of the dead bodies, the text of the spell states that "anyone next to the runes (close enough to read them)" - this is important. It can easily be understood that you need to be next to the runes to be close enough to read them...any further away, and you can't.

Why is that problematic? Well, because if you use your plan to have your party members read the runes, they'll also have to be right next to it. Which means that they'll be affected.

Now, you might think that they'll be unscathed, since you can designate people who aren't affected by the runes, right? Wrong. The spell says that you can denote people who can read the runes without setting them off. But that does nothing for them in terms of avoiding the damage of triggered runes.

In other words, either your party members will be too far away to trigger the runes, or they'll be close enough to read them but will be blown up by them anyway, or you'll have them tagged as "safe," in which case they can't detonate them to begin with.

At 7th Level you get access to Animate Dead proper and we can get more then one meatshield that will come back after being destroyed by Explosive Rune. Make sure you collaborate with your divine caster and make these Bloody Skeletons in the area of a Desecrate spell containing an altar to the divine casters deity, so you get 4xCL HD (Keep in mind Bloody skeletons count for double HD) worth of Animate Dead to work with along with free +2 HP per HD.

Again, this is an excellent way to have your character become an NPC due to being evilly-aligned. This is without getting into the fact that animate dead flat-out says that you can't keep reanimating a destroyed undead creature.

Besides that, it runs into all of the same problems as above.

9th Level is when access to Permanency occurs. I'll admit this level is where picking up extra spells to Permanency on yourself and others becomes handy, but you can do fine without every spell on the Permanency list if you must. Get your caster level up here (I like UMD Bead of Karma).

See how that limit about only taking the free spells is already starting to constrain you?


Some neat Permanency combinations at this level.

Shrink Item - On a wall, use to escape, as a bridge, as a big object to drop on enemies, or as a place to store your Symbols (see below).

That's a cute trick, but it's open to GM interpretation about how much damage it does and what sort of attack roll/save it requires. Not to mention that it's certainly plausible that dropping it on enemies can cause it to break.

Symbol of Pain/Symbol of Slowing (Only if you can add them to your spellbook otherwise skip.) Start accumulating these early and put them on your Shrunken Wall from above. Debuffing spell slot free! (Read up on extending casting time to attune creatures.)

You've already shattered your shrunken wall from dropping it on enemies, remember?

Symbol of slowing also brings up a good point in that it assumes that every book is available. This is a meta-game issue more than a rules-based one, but it's worth noting. Even if a GM allows everything in the Core Rulebook, there's no presumption that everything in every Paizo-authored supplement is available for selection.

That said, I'm not sure what you think you're gaining from a use of one or two spells that allow saves and spell resistance. You throw those out, some combatants are affected, others aren't, and that's pretty much it...not much different than any other status-effect spell, except that you've spent a lot of gp to use it over and over again across multiple fights...the same way a wizard would with normal spell preparation, but without the cost.

Symbol of Healing (Divine Caster party member) = Free out of combat healing! Never spend another GP on wand of Cure Light Wound again! (Ok, maybe keep a back-up, but I'm paranoid like that) Also make undead regret their unlife choices.

Yeah, I don't see the big deal here. Your free out of combat healing works once per day, and does 2d8 + (1 per caster level; max 15) points of healing (Will for half). You'd recover more damage by sleeping, and most undead will shrug this off easier than a channel attempt.


Animate Objects (Divine Caste Party Member)(If you can get 1 more CL, shouldn't be to hard.)

Your limited to Huge objects, but these are unlimited minions which is fantastic, though move action to re-designate targets is a bit meh.

It's also completely beyond your reach, since your 9th-level character using a bead of karma for +4 caster level still won't reach the 14th-level requirement to make animate object permanent.

It's also prohibitively expensive, so no you don't get unlimited minions (see below).

(Material Costs are being paid via Blood Money and before you ask yes I can get my STR that high).

Even presuming that you are allowed to take that spell, no you can't. You're not going to be popping off 30 points of Strength damage to pay for the 15,000 gp cost of making a permanent animate object (or, for that matter, the 30d6 damage you'd take) so easily (especially since you banked a lot of points to start with 20 Intelligence).

I'm curious how a GM designs encounters around these tactics that a non-caster can contribute to without being redundant/overshadowed/useless.

You mean besides the fact that they don't work very well to begin with?

The number of ways to defeat these tactics are limited only by the GM's imagination. This is because, simply put, at some point the bad guys will come to expect these.

A lot of players think that the GM is punishing them if the bad guys know their tactics and prepare countermeasures pre-emptively, but this is a very believable thing to do. Yes, unintelligent enemies, those who are caught by surprise, and those that are unable to formulate proactive defenses won't be able to do this. But other enemies will.

How will they know? How won't they? At some point, the PCs will develop reputations...the higher level they are, the moreso. Enemies who survived will spread the word to other enemies. Divinations will be cast. Gods will sent their followers flashes of divine insight, etc.

At some point, these particular tactics will cease to be effective because they're expected, which will likely happen sooner the more often they're used. Bad guys aren't going to be surprised when "Mr. Wall 'O' Symbols[/i] uses his signature move - they've heard his name before, after all, and know not to read or look at the symbols, and so never activate them.

Eventually one-trick ponies get put out to pasture. And your character has very, very few other spells to draw on to try and stay relevant at that point.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I once tried to play a god-wizard, using a fairly broad number of third-party publisher resources, in particular one to play an arcane spellcaster that could cast unlimted spells per day, and used a system where I could add metamagic as a skill check without increasing the spell level. Most of the remaining third-party materials were for spells and feats.

Needless to say, it didn't go as planned. Simply put, the GM made sure that the weaknesses of my build stayed relevant, and the dice did the rest.

To put it another way, the campaign kept moving at a pace where I couldn't effectively utilize the ability to cast spells out of combat with no real limit; things were progressing at the rate of days, and we couldn't take weeks off for me to maximize my potential to cast spells over and over to unbalance aspects of the game world.

Moreover, the nature of the campaign involved a lot of powerful mystical forces at work. My ability to utilize some low-level third-party spells that made daily life a lot easier for peasants (and thus start to take over the social infrastructure of the major societies) didn't come to much, because that was hard to do when there were demigods and epic dragons battling across the campaign world (albeit in the background), and most peasants were thinking it was the end of days, and so weren't concerned with the long-term ramifications of spells that could sow their fields for them.

The GM also strictly enforced the time and cost limits that this class had on learning new spells. Moreover, finding new spells was not easy, as even in large cities it could only be done by random determination. He did let me engage in private spell research, but that took even more time and money that my character was always strapped for.

Finally, combat wasn't anything to write home about. Since my character needed twice as long to cast spells as a standard character, his effectiveness was halved, even if he could re-up a set of buffs and defenses at will between combats. I also failed the skill rolls to use metamagic between one-third and one-fourth of the time, which doesn't sound like much until you remember that I was using them all the I often had fatigue and even some Con damage to account for.

Now, this might have changed if we'd kept the game it was, we ended the campaign at 12th level, so there's no way to know if the character would have ended up being the powerhouse I was trying to make him.

The lesson I took from this, though, was that god-level optimization is something that only happens if the GM doesn't try to block it. Even with a GM that was permissive about what meta-game resources I could use, it didn't amount to much since he kept strict control over what that translated to in terms of in-game resources. By limiting what spells I had access to, how effectively I could use them out of combat, and playing up my difficulty with using them in combat, my character was kept in line pretty well.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Terquem wrote:
To Cows, humans are Lawful Evil

And to us, they're Lawful Evil!

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
kmal2t wrote:
If alignment was just fluff, I'd still roll my eyes, but I could ignore it. Its the fact that it's crunch and how people enforce it that makes it a big problem.

It's only crunch if you don't remove it.

kmal2t" wrote:
Lancelot is a white knight in shining armor. "Dude you can't have sex with Guinevere, you're a lawful good paladin. Not allowed"

Well, yeah. She was another man's wife, after all. Not to mention that that man was King Arthur, whom Lancelot was supposed to be faithfully serving.

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