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Alzrius's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 1,593 posts. 72 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist.



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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

So I was looking over the list of Paizo employees and their job titles, and I noticed that there are several developers alongside a few designers.

I'm curious what the difference is between the two jobs? It sounds like the designers are responsible for creating new materials, and the developers are responsible for shepherding these ideas to (greater) completion, but is that correct? Or are they something else altogether?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

So I was in link-freefall across the web, and somehow ended up in this pastebin, where the writer asserts that:

Quote:
I have a friend that works at Paizo, creators of Pathfinder, who complained that their new "iconic character" - a sort of example for whatever new character class is getting a book - was a very hamfisted attempt at pandering to the trans community. This friend is trans herself, and her complaints led to her losing her job.

I really hope that this isn't true. Can anyone shed any light on this?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Lately, I've been getting an annoying message when I try to navigate the boards.

"You have made too many requests for the same page too quickly. Please wait a minute and then try again."

I'm paraphrasing, but I've received the above notification twice in the last few days.

This is odd, since the second time I'd only just logged in, had checked a single thread, and was clicking a link from there to a separate thread. That was literally all I'd done, but the server was reacting like I'd just clicked the link twenty times, rather than once.

This seems to be a pretty new issue, as I've never had this happen before a few days ago.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Every so often, I'll think about dabbling in some third-party work. Usually that's just writing down some ideas, but sometimes I wonder about how layout works.

Since I know nothing about the latter topic, I wanted to ask the publishers here: what tools and techniques do you use for graphic design in your PDF products? What's the process for making the transition from black text on a white background to something more visually pleasing?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Since I've noticed a great deal of similarity between the game mechanics of Basic 5E and those of 3E, I've decided to try and back-convert the Basic 5E character classes and races to my favorite variant of the 3E rules: Eclipse: the Codex Persona.

For those who don't know, Eclipse is a class-less character-generating supplement, where you make your characters using point-buy progressions at each level. It's entirely compatible with 3E and related games such as Pathfinder, and offers a spectacular amount of freedom over typical class-level progressions. (Though you don't have to take my word for it, as the book's co-author has a truly huge number of examples over on his blog.)

That said, my first attempt to convert Basic 5E to the Eclipse rules can be found over on my blog, where I've converted the Basic 5E fighter class to Eclipse. It worked surprisingly well, and I'll be converting more classes (and races) soon!

(For more information about Eclipse, check out Endzeitgeist's 5/5-star review.)


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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.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Evil Hat Games has just put up a huge (over a hundred pages long!) excerpt from the forthcoming first volume of Shannon Appelcline's revised Designers & Dragons set of books.

This excerpt covers something that I think will be of interest to a lot of people here: the history of TSR!

Download it over on their website.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

The welcome note from Jason Bulmahn at the beginning of the Advanced Class Guide playtest document mentions that there'll be a survey going up Tuesday, November 24th.

What Bulmahn seems to have overlooked is that the November 24th is a Sunday! Now, December 24th is a Tuesday, but given that the survey closes a week earlier on December 17th, I don't think that's the day it's supposed to open.

Which begs the question, when can we expect the survey to go up?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Intelligence Check continues its series of character conversions using the Eclipse class-less point-buy character creation rules!

The newest conversion is the heroine of Final Fantasy VIII, Rinoa. Not content to simply stat her up as she appears in the game, this version of Rinoa covers her as she appears in Monty Oum's critically-acclaimed Dead Fantasy series of videos. It also includes conversions for the magic system in FF8, and a critical analysis of comparative strengths the Dead Fantasy characters.

Check it out here: Dead Fantasizing


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Continuing the string of converting characters from various media, my next conversion is for Pyrrha, one of the main cast members from RWBY, the new series from Rooster Teeth, the studio that brought you Red vs. Blue!

Like all of my recent conversions, this one uses the class-less rules from Eclipse: The Codex Persona, and is fully compatible with Pathfinder (though this time I've made sure to write out additional information regarding what her derived values are, to reduce the need to reference the book).

Check it out here: Pyrrhic Victory


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Reviewed here and at RPGNow.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Reviewed here and at RPGNow.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Reviewed here and at RPGNow.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Courtesy of the kind folks over at The Gamer Effect, I'm pleased to announce the debut of my new column, Wisdom Check, a sister blog to Intelligence Check.

The debut article is an article for Pathfinder that discusses a mechanic from older editions: the morale check. In this article, I outline what morale checks do, ways the GMs can avoid being hamstrung by them, and a simple yet elegant mechanic for reintroducing them to your Pathfinder game.

Check it out here: Modern Morale-ity

(Also, be sure to check out the previous article, a system-neutral piece about using the environment to challenge the PCs in your game, titled The Invincible Enemy. I know I said the aforementioned piece on morale was the debut article; this piece on the environment was written before the column received its title.)


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As part of our continuing series on using Eclipse: The Codex Persona to make Pathfinder-compatible versions of existing characters from various series, we take things to the realm of video game ultra-violence! Presented here is Scorpion, as he was in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon!

FIGHT!


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Cross-posting my five-star review of Eclipse: The Codex Persona from RPGNow:

I really don’t know how I’ve gone this long without reviewing this book. I’ve known about it for quite some time, and have been using it for the last several weeks in my home game, yet somehow writing a review didn’t occur to me. That oversight ends now.

I think that for everyone who plays a d20 System game, be it Pathfinder, d20 Modern, 3.5, d20 Future or whatnot, that there’s a sense of frustration with how patchwork the system’s exception-based rules are. That is, if you have an idea for a character, you can try to design an appropriate facsimile, but unless it happens to fall within some very specific parameters, there’ll be some aspect of the character creation mechanics that doesn’t quite fit with what you had in mind.

This, of course, leads to one of two things. Either you modify your expectations to fit within what the “class level” structure allows, or you go on a never-ending hunt for splatbooks and third-party supplements in hopes of finding new rules that will let you build exactly what it is you’re looking for.

Have you ever wanted to build a character that can shapeshift into different forms, but isn’t a druid, or even a spellcaster? What about a character that is able to manipulate fire via dancing? Or one whose spellcasting ability is limited by physical ability, rather than “prepared” spells? How many supplements and sourcebooks would you have to comb through to find rules that could let you play those characters? For that matter, how many would have rules to make ALL of those characters, and whatever others you can imagine?

The correct answer is: one. That being Eclipse: The Codex Persona, from Distant Horizons Games.

Weighing in at just over two hundred pages, Eclipse is an OGL supplement that has generously been made available for free. There’s also a page for a pay-for version of the book, which is completely the same as the free version in every way. In essence, the pay-for version is a tip jar, allowing you to pay for the book if you feel so inclined. Given that this book is essentially the same as every other character book ever released, that’s a staggering level of generosity.

The book hits the technical high marks for what’s expected of a PDF: copy-and-paste is enabled, and there are full, nested bookmarks present. Most helpfully, there is a link to the authors’ blog – I’ll mention why this is helpful shortly.

I should take a moment to mention the artwork. Entirely black and white, the artwork seems to be a mixture of stock art and works from the public domain. Moreover, most pieces are given a humorous caption. I say “humorous” because these captions tend to be of the Monty Python variety (in terms of how they read, rather than any specific quotations). For example, the illustration in the section on shapeshifting is of a woman with inhuman hands licking at her fingers. The caption? “Is it cannibalism if I wasn’t human when I ate him?” They’re pretty much all like that, though some are real groaners. As someone who loves making bad jokes (especially puns) I was tickled by these, but they might induce strain due to excessive eye-rolling in other readers. Be warned.

So now, having said all of that, just what IS Eclipse: The Codex Persona?

Simply put, Eclipse is a point-buy method of character generation for the d20 System. It wasn’t the first book to release a point-buy system, nor was it the most popular (thus far), but it is by far the most successful. Let’s get to why.

The book’s first section introduces the fundamentals. Basically, characters get twenty-four Character Points (CP) at each level. These points can be spent on a variety of things, ranging from the basics (Hit Dice, weapon/armor proficiencies, base attack bonuses, save bonuses, and skill points), to spellcasting abilities, to the much more colorful powers in chapter two, with things like damage reduction, the ability to actively block incoming attacks, esoteric means of communication, and so much more.

A review must, of course, gloss over some details, which is a shame since the first two chapter that detail these myriad abilities take up roughly a third of the book. But there’s something more fundamental that must be taken into account. While a large list of abilities that can be purchased is absolutely necessary to any point-buy system, it’s ultimately going to be limited – it has to be, since no single book can possibly list every ability that will ever be thought of in every other sourcebook, right?

Well, not exactly, no.

What makes Eclipse unique is that it gives a method for tailoring EVERYTHING that can be bought with Character Points, allowing you to alter them as necessary to fit with your idea for how they should work. How does it do this, you ask? By utilizing two related concepts: corruption, and specialization.

To be clear, both of these terms are referring to the same basic idea: that by placing some sort of limitation on an ability, you can give it a corresponding increase in another manner OR you can reduce the amount of Character Points the ability costs. The terms “corruption” is used to refer to a comparatively mild limitation, while the term “specialization” refers to a more severe one. It’s by using these abilities to modify the existing powers that you can create virtually limitless abilities.

For example, the Empowerment special ability lets you use your own ability score modifiers and caster level when activating a magic item, up to (3 + Int mod) times per day (sort of like how magic staves are normally). That costs 6 CP. But you could specialize that ability by limiting it to just, say, magic wands. By accepting that degree of limitation, you can choose to either cut the price in half (3 CP), or keep the full price, but remove the “per day” modifier. So when you make a character that’s a self-styled “Master of Wands” – with little actual spellcasting power, but is able to use magic wands far better than most fully-fledged wizards – you can easily distinguish him from other run-of-the-mill wizards and sorcerers.

The third chapter of the book builds on this, exploring what it calls “paths and powers.” These are, largely, more of the same, but where the first two chapters presented individual abilities that were largely unconnected, the various sections in chapter three showcase powers that have various sub-abilities. For example, channeling is the basic “turn/rebuke undead” power that clerics have. Here, however, not only can you manipulate how powerfully and how often you can channel positive or negative energy, you can do so much more. Beyond things like not needing a holy symbol, you can convert the energy into spell effects, turn or rebuke other types of creatures, grant bonuses to magic weapons, animate corpses, and so much more.

Many of the new abilities presented in chapter three are different systems for using magic. Skill-based magic systems, for example, have multiple different presentations here. So are low-level psychic powers, high-level direct manipulations of magic, mystical artistry, eldritch connections to a land you rule, and even divine ascension, among others.

Chapter four concerns itself solely with epic-level magic. This may seem very specific, but with the various ways to manipulate spellcasting (did I mention the metamagic theorems in chapter two?), it becomes something of a practical concern…depending on the sort of campaign you run. The spells here don’t use, surprisingly, any kind of new system of magic. Rather, they still use spell levels, ranging from level ten spells all the way up through level twenty-four.

It’s in chapter five that we move away from mechanics and more towards how to utilize what’s in the book. There’s a section for players here, and a section for GMs. The player section largely discusses the type of character you want to build, which is more helpful than it sounds when you can build pretty much anything you want. For GMs, the advice is even more practical – any role-playing game system can be abused by problem players, and in an open system like Eclipse, this requires a more proactive GM. Issues of deciding ahead of time what powers (and combinations of powers) should be disallowed are dealt with, in addition to suggestions and advice for what to do if a character goes out of control. Some templates and sample epic-level monsters help to round out the GMs tools.

A few appendices close out the book. There’s a quick example of chakras, presented as an in-game reason for disallowing certain power combinations. The second and third appendix take standard 3.5 and d20 Modern classes and show how they’d be built in Eclipse, along with how to take standard feats using Eclipse abilities. Some helpful worksheets are the last thing given.

If you’ve read this far, you probably have a pretty good sense that I’m a big fan of Eclipse. The author says in the foreword that none of his players want to use any other character-building options besides what’s here, and having gotten a chance to use the book in my own game, I can completely understand why. Why go back to digging through various books to hodge-podge together a character that resembles what you wanted to make, when you can use one book to put together exactly the PC you really want to play?

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Eclipse is a book against which no criticism can be leveled. The biggest critique that can be said of the book is that it’s horribly lacking where examples are concerned. This is no small complaint, as the system is a fairly complex one to understand, especially if you’re expecting more of the fairly rigid class-level structure from standard d20 games. There are numerous points where a helpful example would go a long way towards making things clearer.

To be fair, the book does have examples for some sections, but these are few and far between. The system is, I believe, fairly intuitive…but only after you’ve made a significant investment in understanding exactly what it’s offering and how it goes about doing it. Luckily, there’s a remedy for this: remember the authors’ blog that I mentioned earlier? It has a plethora of sample characters and items built with Eclipse (including my favorite articles on how to build 100% Pathfinder-compatible characters using the book), and more than fills the need for examples of what can be done with Eclipse.

It’s also important to keep Eclipse’s limits in mind. The book allows for many options in building characters, and while this often brushes up against many other parts of the d20 System, there are some that it doesn’t replace. For example, there are many different ways to manipulate the skill system with the powers here, but the system itself is independent of Eclipse (which is why it works with d20 Modern skills, 3.5 skills, Pathfinder skills, etc.). There are different ways to build magic items, but magic items themselves aren’t dealt with here (though relics, which are similar, are). Eclipse is a powerful character generator, but it’s not a complete replacement for your d20 game of choice.

My understanding is that Eclipse is so named because it “eclipses” all other character-building options in the d20 System, and I can honestly say that it does. Think of every fictional character you’ve ever read, watched, or heard about; you can make them all here. You may still need to increase the amount of levels necessary to do it, but it can be done. The Codex Persona is exactly what it promises, and is still completely compatible with whatever d20 game you’re playing, to boot. So put on your protective eyewear and look into the Eclipse.


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In last night's game one of the PCs was hit with a dominate person. We managed to subdue her, but we were very low on resources to the point where we couldn't bring anything to bear that would free her from the control she was under.

Given that, we decided to tie her up for the time being. Since she was pinned at the time, one of the group decided that since she couldn't really resist, he was going to take 20 on his CMB check, since the normal DC for Escape Artist is 20 + the CMB of whomever is tying the rope.

I wasn't sure this was correct, since a CMB is an attack roll and you can't take 20 (or 10, for that matter) on those. However, the group felt that this made narrative sense, since you can keep trying and re-trying your knots until you've tied them tightly and securely.

I'm still not sure I agree with that interpretation though, so I'm asking everyone here: for the purposes of tying someone up, can you take 20 on your CMB check?


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I've recently been thinking that issues of "game balance" (and, for that matter, "player entitlement") aren't focused so much on actual play-sessions, but rather on character creation.

That is, "balance" - as it's often discussed here - is less concerned with the context (of game-play) in which PC choices are exercised, than it is with making sure that all of those options have parity when compared on paper. The most directly-applicable situation for this seems to be when characters are being generated (and, by extension, leveled up).

The practical impact of this seems to be that players can (or maybe should?) create their characters with no real input from their GM. That is, there's an implicit understanding that since any choice is (supposed to be) as good as any other, with the only variance being some expected difference in combat role, then the player can have access to virtually any material with which to build their character, and it'll all be fine in the end.

So in other words, there's no reason why a player shouldn't be able to consider playing a fighter, paladin, magus, gunslinger, etc. because the end result on actual game-play will be roughly the same. Hence, there's no need for the GM to be involved anyway.

My question is, do you necessarily agree with that presumption? Does the GM have any particular place in putting qualifiers on what the PCs can play? Is is "appropriate" for the GM to put restrictions on certain options? To want approval over a character's build? To restrict certain books, even though the players have bought them and want to use them (and they're "official")?

If so, what circumstances are those appropriate in? A lot of people seem to agree that certain classes can be banned pre-emptively for thematic reasons (e.g. "gunslingers don't fit my world design"). Is it never appropriate for the GM to comment on a player's character without being asked? Or are there times when the GM should offer an objection?

I should mention that this is purely about mechanical options; obviously poor conduct would need to be called out (though not necessarily publicly).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gamer (sung to the tune of "Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta"; with apologies to the Geto Boys)

Damn it feels good to be a gamer
A real tabletop gamer runs his char’ right
A real tabletop gamer never needs to check morale
‘cause real tabletop gamers don’t lose fights
His PCs always got the high stats
Showin’ his party that he rolls highs
But real tabletop gamers don’t point-whore
‘cause real tabletop gamers don’t optimize
And everything’s fun in the game of a gamer
‘cause tabletop gamers don’t complain
Play levels one-to-twenty, low up through the epic
‘cause real tabletop gamers all campaign

And all I gotta say to you
Domino, video, card-playin’, free-formin’ lamers
When the dice come out what the #$%& you gonna do?
Damn it feels good to be a gamer

Damn it feels good to be a gamer
Drivin’ the plot, helpin’ out NPCs
Though all my stats were rolled random
Now I’m earning big XPs
Damn it feels good to be a gamer
Beatin’ monsters everywhere I go
Ridin’ around town hittin’ pick-up games
Whackin’ monsters with my sword +4
Now tabletop gamers come in all race and classes
Some got killed while they played
But this gamer here is a smart one
Bought contingency to get me raised

Now all I gotta say to you
Domino, video, free-formin’, card-playin’ lamers
When your tournament ends what the #$%& you gonna do?
Damn it feels good to be a gamer

Damn it feels good to be a gamer
A real tabletop gamers get his wealth
Real tabletop gamers get the biggest of the treasures
Ask that tabletop gamer called Melf
Now monsters look at tabletop gamers as a challenge
And move into their combat roles
But get surprise on a monster grab your weapons and your spells
And end up pokin’ them full of holes
‘cause tabletop gamers be the game players
And everything’s quiet in their fort
A tabletop gamer sees a bad guy
And his partners in the party scry-buff-teleport
Real tabletop gamers don’t parlay much
All you hear is the clack of a die cast
And real tabletop gamers just roll to hit
‘cause real tabletop gamers make you die fast
Now when you in the game world makin’ crits role-play it
Fail a save against some GMPC shamer
But players like myself kick back and retrain
‘cause damn it feels good to be a gamer

And now, a word from the Game Master!
Damn it feels good to be a gamer
Got it all set up behind my screen
Everything lookin’ good to the players ‘round the table
But none of them know I’m feelin’ mean
So every now and then I pick a player slap ‘im down
By fudgin’ just a die roll or two
And lettin’ a monster make its attack roll
So it can run that PC through
So players of the game keep respecting me
And you’ll be the game world’s star
But your actions better not upset me
Or level-drainings are in store
And for all those char-op threads which I have read
I’ll issue this disclaimer
They’re what a GM needs to run the PCs scared
And damn it feels good to be a gamer


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Okay, I think I know the answer to this question, but I wanted to double-check.

My cleric just bought a ring of the ram. Based on the description, using charges inflicts both damage and a bull rush attempt, based on the number of charges spent, correct?

For example, if my PC spent 2 charges, the ring would inflict 2d6 points of damage and, as part of the same action (if the enemy were within 30 ft.) make a bull rush attempt with a +18 CMB, right?

Also, does it seem to anyone else like it should use a ranged touch attack, rather than a ranged attack?

Thanks!


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Are your wizards too powerful at higher levels? Do full progression spellcasters in your game make the fighters and rogues feel useless? Isn't there a way to reintroduce a greater degree of balance without pumping up the non-spellcasters even more?

How about introducing a few limitations on your spellcasters...from previous editions?

In our first article for 2013, Intelligence Check introduces a set of variant rules inspired by older editions of everyone's favorite fantasy role-playing game to help limit the power of wizards and other spellcasters. Use these, and put the kibosh on the wizard-as-god in your game.

Check it out here: Triple Solutions for Quadratic Wizards


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Review posted here and at RPGNow.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

When running a game, where is the line drawn between things not going the way a player expects/wants, and the game not being fun anymore?

I ask because I've seen a lot of threads lately where the same sentiment seems to come up over and over: that if serious or long-term penalties afflict a PC, then (unless the GM has gone out of his way to avoid and the player still blunders into it regardless) the GM is violating the main reason the players are playing the game to begin with - to have fun.

I personally think that such major downturns are in the game for a reason - you can fall from paladinhood, your spellbook gets destroyed, (some of) your followers abandon you, etc. - and that's part of the game, and should be treated in the same manner as rolling a natural 1; you deal with it as best you can and move on. These things are not the GM's indictment of you as a player.

Moreover, there's a wide range of opinions regarding how much the GM should try to course-correct for these things happening to the PC. I'm not talking about fudging dice rolls so much as people seem to expect the GM to give the player out-of-character warnings that their PC is about to do something that will have serious consequences. This, I'm very iffy towards. Again, no one likes feeling punished, but to what degree is this a case of in-game consequences versus the commandment of "thou shalt preserve thy players' fun"?

It seems that a lot of the "save my fun" sentiment is used to justify player entitlement. Obviously, communication is key here - ideally before the campaign begins - but what do you do when people have ideas on this that are incompatible, don't want to compromise, but still want to game together?


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In the latest post over on Intelligence Check, I discuss being burned out on new supplements, using a point-buy system for character construction, put stats to a character from a hit TV show, and introduce three new spells!

Check it out here: A Legendary Burnout.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Lately, I've been seeing some third-party publishers referring to the NPCs in some of their books as "iconic(s)" in a manner that's clearly reminiscent of the characters that we all know from Paizo's books (and WotC's before that).

I wanted to say that, while on the surface a lot of these "3pp-iconics" could conceivably live up to the name - being characters who rend to represent something specific (usually a new character class) while not being too thoroughly defined - I'm of the opinion that there's one major factor in what makes a character "iconic," rather than just being a notable NPC.

Repetition.

Let me say that again.

Repetition.

The Iconics are iconic because they - primarily artwork of them, as well as their names being dropped in even short instances of framing fiction - are everywhere. They're in every book, over and over again. Virtually every piece of artwork that isn't a monster or location illustration features them. We see them so often that we come to expect them whenever the company puts out a new book. It's a given that they'll be in there; they're iconic.

It goes beyond this, of course (e.g. pregen stats), but that's the big one. To me, 90% of what makes an Iconic what they are is that they're omnipresent.

Third-party publishers, if you want your character(s) to be an Iconic character, please dial their exposure up to eleven. Yes, you still need to check off the other boxes mentioned above, but repeated exposure is the number one ingredient by far.

Don't tell us that your characters are Iconic. Show us...again and again and again.


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The newest article from Intelligence Check pays tribute to the Grand OGL Wiki, and begins to repost some of the Open Game Content I submitted to its DM Sketchpad.

Here, I rework the aging tables into something that doesn't have the longer-lived demihumans spending potentially half their lives as wizened old geezers. Check it out here: What's Old Is Young Again.


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Reviewed here and at RPGNow.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

The latest article over at Intelligence Check takes its inspiration from the classic Doctor Who episode, "The Satan Pit." A new feat allows a character's body to remain active after its mind has left it (e.g. astral projection), similar to how the Beast's body was still conscious but without sentience when its mind had left it.

Find it over here: The Beast Within


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Apologies if this has come up before.

It's self-evident in Pathfinder that constructs are immune to critical hits. Likewise, there's nothing in the animated objects monster entry to suggest that they have any additional immunities in that regard.

But then I noticed this section from the Additional Rules chapter:

Quote:
Immunities: Objects are immune to nonlethal damage and to critical hits. Even animated objects, which are otherwise considered creatures, have these immunities.

So apparently animated objects are still immune to critical hits in Pathfinder? Is this by design, or is this a vestigial rule from 3.5? If not, presumably this also disqualifies sneak attack and other forms of precision damage on animated objects as well?


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Reviewed here and at RPGNow.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Back in early 2010, Super Genius Games launched a Kickstarter project for making an RPG book that utilized the Pathfinder rules for a modern-day setting, which they called P20 Modern.

The project fizzled, unfortunately, earning only about $9,000 of its $70,000 goal. No doubt this was demoralizing to both the Geniuses and the people who wanted such a resource. What I'm curious about is - as the title says - should they try it again now?

Things have changed a lot since April of 2010. Pathfinder, at the time less than a year old, is now nearing its third anniversary, and is the best-selling RPG on the market. Similarly, the third-party community, with Super Genius Games being among its leaders, has likewise grown in terms of recognition among the fans.

Moreover, the nature of RPG Kickstarter projects has changed. For one thing, they're now much more common, with the highest-grossing among them reaching into the six-digit-figure range in terms of donations received. Moreover, there's a great three-part report on RPG crowdfunding that suggests (to my mind at least) that such a project would find much greater reception today than it did two years ago.

As someone who donated to the P20 Modern project previously, I'd love to see the Geniuses take another swing at it - I'm betting that this time, it'd clear its goal and then some.

What do you all think?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Apologies if this has been asked before, I didn't see it anywhere.

The 6th-level (now 7th-level after last night's session) magus in my group is setting himself up to be a trip-master. Using a +1 glaive, usually a +3 thanks to his arcane pool, he'll make AoO trip attacks against any creature that tries to close into melee, thanks to his feats of Improved Trip, Greater Trip, and Combat Reflexes.

However, a question has arisen regarding what gets added to his CMB check to trip. As it stands now, he's adding his BAB (+5 after last night) and Strength bonus (+5), plus his two tripping feats (+4), but we're stalled on whether the weapon's enhancement bonus applies.

The Core Rulebook doesn't seem to address the issue, not does the FAQ (insofar as I looked at the d20PFSRD page on trip attempts). The closest that we could find was that it describes a CMB check as being "an attack roll" which would seem to imply that he does gain the weapon's +3 enhancement bonus to the check (and also means that he wants to use true strike to add to some of his future trip attempts). I'm not convinced, however, as some aspects of a normal attack roll are different for CMB checks (e.g. size bonuses).

Given that, I'm turning to you guys for help. Does a weapon's enhancement bonus apply when it's used in a CMB check?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

From time to time, I'll try my hand at making new monsters. When I do, I'll usually follow the rules in the Bestiary pretty closely, as that seems like the best way to come up with a creature that meets its target CR.

One of the rules I follow pretty closely therefore is the table denoting natural attack damage values by size. In other words, the damage dice for given types of natural attacks for creatures of various sizes is set according to this table (and the Improved Natural Attack feat).

Lately, however, I've started noticing monsters with natural attack damage dice far in excess of their size. The pit fiend, for example, is a large creature (and has no instances of Improved Natural Attack), and so should have attack/base damage dice as follows: claws/1d6, wings/1d6, bite/1d8, and tail slap/1d8.

Instead, its damage dice are claws/2d8, wings/2d6, bite/4d6, and tail slap/2d8. In other words, it's had all of its natural attack damage dice bumped up quite a bit.

My question then is if the table for natural attack damage is not so much an actual rule as it is a guideline? Do some monsters naturally get better damage values without a rules notation (the way there is for dragon's bite attacks, which is about Strength bonus to damage, rather than damage dice), or are instances like the pit fiend in error?


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Unlike most arcane spellcasters, a witch's spells are granted to her by a mysterious, otherworldly patron. Like an arcane cleric, she receives her spells from this unknown entity...but for what purpose? What are witch patrons and what do they want? The Pathfinder game is silent on this issue, so we at Intelligence Check have taken up the challenge!

In our latest article, we examine witch patrons and their effect on a witch's familiar and spell selection. Several example patrons are given, and we discuss how to develop more for your game.

Check it out here: Patronizing the Witch


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(Conversion of the 2009 product of the same name into the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.)

The Buan Campaign Setting starts here! Explore Kalupaan with the Tikbalang, one of the most iconic creatures of Philippine Mythology. These feyborn creatures bear an affinity with the winds, and they protect the gateways leading to the fey realms with the subtlety of the breeze and the fury of the cyclone.

Tikbalang: Guardians of Kalikasan presents the players with a new character race - their motivations and culture, as well as the myths other races have regarding them. Game masters are likewise presented with three new tikbalang monsters, as well as a few guidelines that can make for a memorable tikbalang encounter.

This 17-page product includes the following:

  • A fully playable character race that favors impulsive action and that blends physical and magical might
  • Eight tikbalang feats
  • Two racial prestige classes
  • Three new monsters
  • Two new incantations that are thematically linked with the tikbalang race

While it is designed for the upcoming Buan Campaign Setting, this product can be adapted seamlessly to games that use the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Apologies if this has been discussed before, but I'm curious about how to determine the number of inquisitions a deity gets.

Domains and subdomains seem to follow a clear progression. "Full-fledged" deities get five domains and six subdomains, while demigods, archfiends, and similar "near-deities" get one less of each (e.g. four domains and five subdomains).

Inquisitions, however, seem to be all over the place. The table for the twenty major deities of the Inner Sea region indicate that some have as little as three inquisitions, while others have as many as six.

Is there any particular rhyme or reason there?


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Aaand the review is up!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Have you ever wondered just how much one gp was actually worth? Or just how big of a purchase that warhammer +2 was compared to what the locals can normally afford? If you ever have, but didn't want to delve into the boring details of trying to calculate the worth of gold in realistic terms, then you'll want to check out the latest article at Intelligence Check.

In our latest article, our crack team of economists answer these questions and more, all the while showing our work so that you can tweak or modify these standards as necessary for your game. Now you'll know just how rich your characters really are when they raid the dragon's hoard.

Check it out here: Setting a Gold Standard


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

The chainmail bikini, and indeed sexy armor for women in general, has long been a divisive topic in gaming. In the latest article at Intelligence Check, we take a long, slow look at the shape of the debate, and try to analyze the different standpoints people take when they discuss the issues surrounding this particular subject.

For in-depth coverage on armor that covers little, click here: The Defense of the Chainmail Bikini


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Lately I've been noticing a number of references, ranging from the very subtle to the rather obvious, made in various Pathfinder products that, while ostensibly talking about Golarion and its cosmology, are nods towards D&D (and, more rarely, other recognizable places).

This thread is the place to list them. Here a few to start things off:

1) The Cthulhu Mythos - the references to Cthulhu himself note that he's "trapped under an ocean on a distant world" (e.g. Earth).

2) Orcus - Orcus is noted as being preoccupied by events on other worlds and planes (e.g. the D&D campaign worlds).

3) The Witchwar Legacy

Spoiler:
The revelation at the end of the adventure subtly indicates that Tashanna eventually became Greyhawk's Iggwilv.

What other such easter eggs have been found?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

They are born of the blood of the shapechangers. They carry with them the legacy of Silver, Bronze and Gold. They wear their heritage on their faces, their wings and in their very breath. They are watched by eyes older than civilization. They are feared, they are honored, and now, they are YOU.

They are the CHILDREN OF WYRMS.

We all know about half-dragons, but what about their children? Or their grandchildren? How strongly will draconic blood affect a family line? Children of Wyrms is designed to address these questions, giving you the tools you need to create characters descended from the shape-changing dragons: bronze, silver and gold. Written and developed by fantasy illustrator, Talon Dunning and Shane O'Connor, this 28-page, lavishly illustrated, full-color digital book also includes new rules for creating Draconic Legacy characters for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, including:

•Four new creature templates representing 24 generations of Draconic Legacy.
•Four ready-to-use Draconic Legacy NPCs, with fully detailed ability descriptions for instant reference.
•Draconic Legacy feats, traits and magic items.
•A random Draconic Legacy appearance table.
•Detailed information on Draconic Legacy ecology.
•An artless version for easy printing.

Print edition coming soon!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

A while back in 3.5, there was a feat that was intended for multiclass spellcasters. I can't remember the name, but it basically said that you gained +4 to your caster level, but only if you had at least four levels/Hit Dice that didn't add to your caster levels - if you had less than four such levels, you only got that much of a bonus from this feat.

So if a wizard 5/fighter 3 took that feat, he'd cast his arcane spells as though he were a wizard 8. A sorcerer 7/cleric 5 could take the feat and apply it to one of his spellcasting classes, and whichever one he picked would have its caster level increased by +4.

The point of all this is that a while ago I saw a similar feat for Pathfinder, but for the life of me I can't remember what it's called or where it is (or even if it's from Paizo or a third-party publisher). Does anyone know what feat I'm thinking of?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

In celebration of the greatest gamer comic, the latest article at Intelligence Check presents Pathfinder rules for some of the zanier antics of the Knights of the Dinner Table!

Ever wanted to take an item as a "chaser" after your morning glass of prune juice? How about writing your spells on the bodies of your friends instead of in a book? All of that and more are found in our newest post, Finding a Path to the Dinner Table. Check it out, and if you don't like what's here, please don't waste me with your crossbow!

Hoody Hoo!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

The Sensitive has just been released for The Modern Path! Below is the product description:

Whether haunted by ghosts or blessed with the powers of a medium, the Sensitive has the ability to see the ethereal, banish the dead and contact the other side through séances. This haunting Modern Hero class archetype is compatible with The Modern Path: Heroes of the Modern World, an alternate character creation system for modern Pathfinder games by Game Room Creations, and was created by fantasy illustrator, Talon Dunning for your modern gothic horror setting. Also included is a unique NPC, a separate, print-ready version with the art and graphics removed for easy printing and a dataset for the PC creation software, HeroLab. OGL 3.5, OGL Modern and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game versions are also available.

(Disclaimer: I've freelanced for Fantastic Gallery, so I wanted to bring this to people's attention here, as it's not currently for sale on Paizo's website.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Hopefully there will be updates/sequels to this book; it'd be a shame to leave off here when there's so much more ground to cover.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Have you ever wondered just where nameless 2nd level NPCs got the XP to make it to 2nd level in the first place? Have your PCs ever ended a session less than a hundred XP from a new level and groused that that they should just be able to close the gap somehow? If you have, then you'll want to check out the newest post on Intelligence Check, wherein we discuss training rules for XP.

In this post, we examine the problems with most training rules, as well as how to fix them. We go over ways that these can be a useful tool for the GM when designing NPCs rather than a straitjacket, and how they can lend greater verisimilitude for your game world.

Check it out here: The XP Train(ing)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

An alchemist in my game wants to be able to throw his bombs beyond the five-range increment limit for thrown weapons (e.g. he wants the ten-range increment limit that projectile weapons get). Is there any way that he can get this? I'm not seeing anything in the Core Rules, nor the APG, UM, and UC that allow this.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

My understanding is that the harbinger archon, introduced in the Bestiary 3, exists primarily to fulfill the slot of having a CR 2 Lawful Good outsider that could be taken as a familiar with the Improved Familiar feat (as the other eight alignments got such creatures in the Bestiary 2).

My question is, why was the Lantern Archon not simply designated as filling this particular role? True, there's nothing about it in the original Bestiary, nor in the listing for the Improved Familiar feat, but surely it's not that hard to add text to that effect somewhere (e.g. an update in future errata, a post on the Paizo blog, etc.).

Why design a new, very similar monster specifically for that purpose?

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