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Gold Dragon

Ambrus's page

1,323 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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Thanks for the feedback. :)

Been reading a bit more on the subject; I figured a good place to start would be in seeing what the average length of a generation has been historically for humans in the real world. According to this article, it would seem the human average is around 31.7 years in recent centuries and likely a little younger in centuries past. Using that as a benchmark the dwarven equivalent would be around 111 years or so.

Maybe the easiest thing to do would be to simply round it down to an even 100 and call it a day. ;)

Since dwarves are such a traditional people, I'd like include elements of dwarven ancestry to highlight the passage of time and to tie the dwarven PCs to their people's history. I figured a simple way to do that would be to refer to dwarven generations as a rough unit of time such "One hundred generations ago". I just need to figure out the overall average amount of time between a dwarf being born and the age at which he/she is most likely to produce offspring.

Naturally dwarves can marry and produce offspring and different times in their lives. But being a generally traditional people, I imagine there is a period of life in which it is considered most appropriate to marry. There are likely outliers who marry young or old but, given enough generations, such anomalies tend to iron themselves out over time.

According to the aging charts dwarves reach young adulthood at 40, proper adulthood somewhere between 50 and 64 (depending on vocation), reach midlife at 125 and the end of their reproductive years (if they're anything like humans) maybe somewhere around 150.


Liz Courts wrote:
I found a useful Reddit thread on that topic.

Thanks Liz. That's pretty insightful, if a bit wordy. It's a shame the later APs are missing.

Liz Courts wrote:
We also have this page, but that's not as useful to your purposes.

Interesting, though rather spoilerish and lacking in insight as to how the various APs are actually structured and what problems they may have.

RuyanVe wrote:
You could also skim the free Player's guides to get a feel for the different APs...

I'm aware of the Players Guides; I'd just like to narrow the field down to one or two options before asking the group to read through the appropriate Players Guides.

As per the title, I'd like a brief, spoiler free description for each of the Adventure Paths that I can send to the players in my group so together we can discuss which APs to examine more closely for eventual play.

One or two sentences with the key themes, common environments and monsters types as well as any weak points would be greatly appreciated. Adding a 1-5 star rating for each would be frosting on the cake.

I myself don't familiarize myself overmuch with the various APs outside of those I've run or played in case I eventually get the opportunity to play through them myself. I know such description lists exist, but they usually lack the newest APs, so I thought a more current list would be generally helpful for those shopping around for their next AP.

Lilith Knight wrote:
Threeshades wrote:
Ambrus wrote:
Threeshades wrote:
What power?
The power of voodoo!
Who do?
You do!

Do what?

Thanks Zelda Marie Lupscu! I rather like the notion too.

What, if anything, is providing the vampire with concealment or cover up on the ceiling? If she's just standing there directly overhead and well within the range of everyone's darkvision, she's in plain sight and technically doesn't meet the criteria for making stealth checks.

If she somehow does qualify for stealth, it becomes a matter of what she's casting. She can't cast anything with an attack roll and remain Stealthy afterwards. Forgoing that, I'd say she'd only have to make a new stealth check after every spell with a somantic component since she's largely giving her position away. If the spells she's casting meets neither of those criteria, then I'd say she can keep her initial stealth check result since she isn't doing anything to draw attention directly to her. That doesn't stop the PCs from continuing to try spotting her round to round while searching for the hidden caster in hopes of beating her check result. 2¢

Taking Ranger first gives you the flexibility to chose the weapons you'd prefer to fight with as well as few extra hit points.

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Crimlock NL wrote:
This ancient maze is like a lock in which the correct path is the key, the wrong path however equals (pum pum pum pum) death. And like all things worth locking it holds great value. Small locks for simple things, but huge maze locks for... whispers say immortality... others say untold riches... only one way, in this case very literal, to find out....

Interesting notion. When presented that way, my first thought is that it sounds like something beyond the ability of mere mortals to have constructed; like something built by one or more primordial gods...

Maybe the maze merely appears to mortals as a puzzle meant to be solved. In reality the true significance of the maze is beyond mortal comprehension. Perhaps it is an early "rough sketch" created by a primordial being before he/she/it finally settled on the final configuration of the universe he/she/it would later create. Or maybe the maze is a physical manifestation of that same primordial being's mind; reflecting its convoluted though processes as well as compartmentalizing its various memories and ideas into physical rooms, locked away in the depths of the maze. Walking the maze is akin to exploring the primordial being's mind.

Either way, the maze was never meant to be found and explored by mortals. At some point in the past however that primordial being's creations discovered the maze and began exploring it; maybe they were angelic/demonic servitors or mortal beings. Whoever they were, navigating the maze allowed them to unlock the hidden workings of the universe and so gain profound insight into the nature of reality. Some used that insight to grow in physical might, others to develop arcane magic, others still to uncovered the secret to eternal life (or undeath), while a few persevered and succeeded in ascending to true divinity. This is how the earliest dragons, wizards, undead and gods, respectively, came into being.

Explorers must be careful while inside the maze however for destroying or removing the things they find inside risks changing the primordial being's mind; which in turn could change the nature of reality outside the maze in unpredictable ways. For instance, what happens if you kill the idea of a creature you encounter within the maze? Does it's entire race disappear or somehow change outside in the real world? Or what happens if an explorer purposefully adds an idea-thing to the maze? Might that addition be reflected in the outside world? Once you enter the maze, you may never find your way back to the world you entered from...

So what initially appears to be a physical maze or a puzzle to be solved is really just a hidden back door to the universe's secret "cheat codes"; something that was never meant to be exploited by mortals.

Bandw2 wrote:
okay okay new idea, a maze that is actually a giant rubix cube that is operated by levers inside, you have to pull levers to make the rooms change to get the colors to match which opens the exit.

I played through a GM's home-brewed extradimensional library/dungeon modeled after a Rubik's Cube back in the 90s. He got the idea to make a sequel to the classic Dungeon Magazine's "Ex Libris" adventure; which featured a 16 room 2D slide-puzzle layout for its library/dungeon.

Ratcheting it up to a 3D Rubik's Cube was a clever notion on the GM's part, but trying to unravel a 54 room shifting dungeon from the inside proved to be rather tedious enterprise for the players.

There are different ways to gauge success in combat. If you're aiming for a black and white successful or unsuccessful delineation, I'd say that success occurs when all opponents are defeated while all PCs survive. Rather simplistic, but there it is.

Anything else is a matter of degrees—how successful was your group in a particular fight? Looking at it that way, I'd say it's a matter of tracking resources: how many combat rounds, hit points, spells, expendable magic items, charges, daily use racial or class abilities, etc were expended to achieve that victory? If a fight is a long drawn out affair in which multiple characters end up badly hurt with the casters almost out of spells and the ground littered with emptied potion bottles and broken weapon; all of which necessitates an immediate rest period, I'd say that your victory was a rather poor one.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I'd say that the absolute most successful victory possible is one in which all opponents are neutralized before they have a chance to act, no hit points are lost amongst the PCs and very few if any resources are expended. This kind of victory usually requires good reconnaissance, proper planning and coordination, gaining surprise over the opponents and then winning initiative; all combined with devastating attacks for a proper coup-de-grace. Personally, I find these sorts of flawless victories to be the most rewarding to achieve. It isn't everyone's cup of tea however, as some consider them to be rather one sided and anticlimactic. Each his own.

Threeshades wrote:
What power?

The power of voodoo!

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As a Planescape fan, I also have to give a shout out to the Lady of Pain's mazes. The Lady of Pain is a mysterious being who never speaks but merely appears periodically within Sigil; the torus-shaped city at the center of the Outer Planes. Although she's generally believed to have power on par with a minor deity, nobody dares worships her for she appears suddenly before those who offer her prayers; cutting them to ribbons as the shadow of her bladed headdress passes over them.

Those who somehow threaten the peace or safety of the city itself eventually take a wrong turn down an alleyway or corridor. They attempt to backtrack only to discover that they can't find their way to where they were. Although the environs appear familiar, additional exploration only leads them further and further astray. That's when the horror of their situation becomes clear; they've angered the Lady of Pain and so she has cast them into their own personal extra-dimensional maze from which they are unlikely to ever escape.

They race around in desperation through areas that seem superficially similar to the city they know so well; offering them a false hope that they're close to escaping. Finally, gaunt from hunger and standing upon teetering legs, they loose themselves either in death or madness, but always with the certainty that the way out lay just beyond the next corner...

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Threeshades wrote:
What babe?

The babe with the power.

Thanks Boomerang Nebula!

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It's a racial stronhold.

While expanding the borders of his kingdom, a human monarch ran into a tribe of kobolds who, through devious traps, guerrilla tactics and rapid breeding, managed to forestall the annexation of their traditional territory. Finally, the monarch had had enough of wasting time and resources and signed a treaty with the kobold chieftan; allocating the kobold's a modest territory reserved for them alone.

Both sides being content to leave each other alone for the time being, the human monarch continued his kingdom's expansion—conquering all the lands surrounding the kobold's reservation and beyond; effectively boxing in the kobolds. Eventually, the kingdom's settlers began settling the surrounding lands and encroaching more and more on the kobold reservation. The kobolds set out to defend their land; digging tunnels below ground and piling the quarried stone above ground into defensive walls surrounding important sites like wells, gardens, residences and hatcheries. The fortifications grew outward as additional walls were raised and joined together into confusing configurations; all of them festooned with devious traps to keep the human settlers out.

The kobold's tactic worked; human settlers grew ever more reluctant to enter the reservation lest they lose their way, stumble into a trap or fall prey to a kobold ambush. Soon social status among the kobolds became tied to the building of their fortifications and families began competing; seeing who could build higher & thicker walls, more confusing layouts, or concoct the most devious traps. The fortifications slowly transformed into a mulit-layered maze of above ground corridors and subterranean passages; all of it trapped with arrow slits, murder holes, pits, deadfalls, choke points and dead ends.

As the years passed and the kobold population grew the maze came to cover the entirety of the reservation and actually began encroaching on the humans' land. Kobold families would band together, make their plans, stockpile building materials and then suddenly erupt out of the maze under cover darkness. A farmer who's land bordered the Reservation might awaken to find his livestock gone, his crops pilfered and half his fields now enclosed by a hastily erected wall. By the time the king's guard would arrive to investigate, the entirety of the farm may lay within a network of walls festooned with deadly traps. If the walls were knocked down during the day, they would be rebuilt by a veritable army of kobold masons the following night.

In successive years, the kingsdom's army has occasionally declared war and set out on crusades to overrun the maze, rout out the kobolds and topple the walls with force. They occasionally meet with some success after suffering substantial losses; only to discover that while they labored in one part of the maze, it has spread out twice as much on its opposite side. And so it continues to this day; the maze slowly spreads outwards, climbs higher and grows deeper as the humans either retreat out of its way, loose their lives inside or beat futilely against its walls.

Maze building has grown into the kobolds' entire culture. They use the maze itself as their primary means of offense and defense. When invaders enter a part of the maze, the kobolds evacuate and let the maze itself fight the invaders. Although some key killing zone choke-points may be manned by kobold warriors, it's the kobolds' combat engineers who are the real threat. They generally keep out of sight, maneuvering around invaders along secret tunnels and corridors and using their prodigious maze-building skills to quickly move walls sections mounted upon hidden tracks or using carried bricks and alchemical quick-setting mortar to erect new walls; seeking to enclose and trap invaders.

Other races could easily be substituted for the kobolds, such as goblins, dwarves or gnomes. The maze could even have been built by multiple races who've banded together for mutual protection from humans; giving different parts of the maze a race-specific flavor. Magical qualities could have been added to the maze by the builders layering spells over a period of years; perhaps resulting in the maze growing into sentience. If it's desired that the maze be uninhabited, the builders could have been wiped out by famine, infighting, pestilence or even by their newly sentient maze having turned on them. 2¢

I have. It seems clear, and yet...

It's no good. It was the fine folks at Hero Lab who I was trying to convince. I made my case but this is their response:

Hero Lab wrote:
"We have had this report and the discussion about the way MoMS bonus feats work before. By our interpretation, the text of the Master of Many Styles bonus feat section which refers to "appropriate style feat" means the previous feat in the chain. It doesn't allow you to leap from the entry feat to the final feat in the chain."

I can understand that they've embraced their own interpretation. What baffles me if their insistence on enforcing that interpretation within their software. The Master of Many styles archetype automatically obliges users to follow a sequence in selecting the feats in a style group; all other selections are blocked out. It'd seem preferable to enable all options and allow their users to pick the interpretation their group adheres to.

I generally like HL, but now I have to either jump through hoops to make my character work properly or ditch it in favor of pen and paper. Muh.

Sorry. Frustrated. :(

This is sort of an odd request. I know there are countless threads covering this question and there's little to no disagreement since the rule in question is spelled out fairly clearly.

SRD wrote:
At 1st level, 2nd level, and every four levels thereafter, a master of many styles may select a bonus style feat or the Elemental Fist feat. He does not have to meet the prerequisites of that feat, except the Elemental Fist feat. Alternatively, a master of many styles may choose a feat in that style’s feat path (such as Earth Child Topple as one of these bonus feats if he already has the appropriate style feat (such as Earth Child Style). The master of many styles does not need to meet any other prerequisite of the feat in the style’s feat path." Please note that no prerequisites are required for the bonus feat beyond having its associated style feat*,* so all "Monkey feats" should be available.[

As written in the part I bolded, it seems that a Master of Many styles is free to choose any of the feats in a style's path while ignoring the prerequisites, except of course that he have the initial style feat itself. My question is, is there a citation somewhere from Paizo confirming this is the case? I'm trying to convince someone (no, not my GM) that this is how the class ability works but he contends that the path's feats must be selected in order and insists on seeing something official to that affect. Any help?

LazarX wrote:
For one, your statement is untrue. all other resource dependent abilities, arcane pool, smites, bardic performance, also have little to none in means of replenishment.

Hm. You may be right. Seems odd seeing as how there are magic items out there for everything else. I guess it's an unstated designed philosophy that class abilities shouldn't be augmented with magic.

I get that it's a powerful ability; it just seem odd that the options for sustaining it are so limited. There are countless spells and magic items out there meant to enhance every other class ability; why ignore this one?

As per the title, I'm trying to flesh out my first barbarian character and I'm hunting around for a way to replenish rage rounds. Seeing as how most of a barbarians' abilities revolve largely around rage, running out of rage rounds during a long day of adventuring seems to be a significant issue. I know there's Barbarian chew, the Extra Rage feat and a few other ways to add rage rounds per day, but they aren't terribly effective or practical. There's also the Elemental Kin archetype, but setting yourself on fire before raging seems rather convoluted and odd. I'm surprised that I can't find a ready-made spell or magic item that replenishes rage; a slow burn spell, a bear-sark vest of mounting fury or an elixir of endless rage. Am I overlooking something?

I'm curious whether pairing these three elements is a viable combo.

srd wrote:
While raging, as a free action the barbarian may leave herself open to attack while preparing devastating counterattacks. Enemies gain a +4 bonus on attack and damage rolls against the barbarian until the beginning of her next turn, but every attack against the barbarian provokes an attack of opportunity from her, which is resolved prior to resolving each enemy attack.
srd wrote:
While using the Snake Style feat, when an opponent’s attack misses you, you can make an unarmed strike against that opponent as an attack of opportunity. If this attack of opportunity hits, you can spend an immediate action to make another unarmed strike against the same opponent.

Now assuming you're raging and have already spent a free action on your turn to activate the Come and Get Me rage power and an opponent indeed attempts an attack against you:

1. the attempt to strike you provokes an AoO from you.
2. you roll your AoO and either hit or miss.
3. the opponent then rolls his attack roll and misses you.
4. having missed his attack provokes another AoO.
5. you roll another AoO and hit with an unarmed strike.
6. you expend an immediate action to make another unarmed strike.

Result, three attacks to your opponent's one. If your opponent is foolish enough to continue and attacks you a second time during his turn, you immediately repeat steps 1–5; skipping step 6 because you've already expended your next round's swift action; that is as long as you still have AoS left from your Combat Reflexes feat.

Is this correct?

Another question—is there any way to keep the natural attacks primary and make the unarmed strikes secondary; that is shifting the -5 to the unarmed strikes? I imagine not, but I figured I'd ask.

Bandw2 wrote:
if he's a player, I'm like 90% sure it's a Taninim monk since their archetype specifically forbids flurrying.

Sorry to disappoint, but I wasn't planning a taninim monk. I had to look it up before I remembered that it's a 3P PC dragon-race. An interesting notion to be sure.

For what it's worth, I tend to agree with Bandw2, Claxon & Graystone that it's unlikely that the monk's Unarmed Strike ability itself is the sort of "effect" that would provide the means to "enhance or improve" the character's other natural weapons. But I needed to check. Although attractive as a notion, it's a circular logic that seems to make it both cause and effect. I can certainly appreciate the opposite viewpoint and would understand if the devs ruled it so, but I find it unlikely to be the case.

Since having the character's natural attacks not becoming secondary would directly improve the character's natural attacks, might that not qualify as an "effect that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons"?

Not looking to contradict anyone; just want to make sure I get it right. Any all insight is appreciated.

But since the unarmed attacks also count as natural weapons, would that keep the bite and claws as primary attacks so that they don't suffer the -5 penalty to hit and do full Str to damage?

Yeah, I know this has been addressed and debated countless times. That's part of my problem; I can't make heads or tails out of all the threads out there. I'm looking for help in connecting the dots and either confirming or refuting some confusing parts.

Let's say that the character is a medium dragon with monk levels. The idea is for him to fight with two monk unarmed strikes along with the two weapon fighting feat (not flurrying) along with his natural attacks (bite, claw, claw) as part of a full attack routine. The two monk unarmed strikes are, say, a horn butt and tail slap. Disregarding eventual iterative attacks from the unarmed strikes, this character would have five attacks: a bite, two claws, and the two unarmed strikes.

The questions are, what are the penalties to hit with each attack and which attacks receive the character's full Strength bonus to damage and which, if any, get only half the Strength bonus to damage? Does the following line from the monk's Unarmed Strike class feature affect this in any way:

SRD wrote:
"A monk's unarmed strike is treated as both a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons."

If the character's unarmed attacks count as natural weapons, would that make all his attacks primary?

Just that. What are they?

I know this is probably clearly written someplace but I can't find it. What's the official stand on the Unchained classes and existing archetypes? Can they be taken as before or not? Are some allowed and others not? If so, which? Thanks.

For the build I posted two posts up, which class would it be best to continue advancing after: Urban Barbarian or Monk Master of Many Styles / Kata Master?

Thanks so much to Ambrosia Slaad for hooking me up with a preview of her Skinwalker article in the upcoming Wayfinder #13. It's definitely worth a read to anyone interested in the Blood of the Moon supplement. Pick it up when it comes out!

Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
1) Start with the Witchwolf PC and then grab one of the feats from the skinwalker article in the upcoming Wayfinder #13 (available around PaizoCon 2015).

Maybe it would work but I'm afraid I'd have to see the feat to judge. We're playing tomorrow.

I'm aware of the Witchwolf. Unfortunately, it doesn't turn you unto a wolf; so it's a bust.

I'm aware that I'm trying to shoehorn psuedo-lycanthrophic abilities into a point buy system not designed for it. It just seemed to be the best way to create the desired race with the Advanced Race Guide without inventing an altogether new ability and assigning it an ad hoc RP cost.

That being said, your suggestion is pretty much what I'd been aiming for, certainly simpler and does seem to be roughly balanced around 11-13 pts or so I'd say. Good suggestion.

As per the title, I'm looking to make a human character with the ability to change into a wolf; only those two shapes, no werewolf hybrid form. Does such a thing exist anywhere already?

Assuming it doesn't, I was looking at how I might do this using the Advanced Race Guide. I figured the easiest way to go about it would be to create a wolf and then simply add the lesser change shape ability to give it a human form. However, I find the point total rather high considering that all the canine bonuses aren't normally usable while in human form. Anyone have a better idea how that might affect the Race Point cost? Here's my preliminary writeup for the race. And suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

Humanoid (shapechanger) 0 RP
Medium (0 RP)
Base Speed
Normal (0 RP)
Ability Score Modifiers
Human Heritage (0 RP)
Standard (0 RP)
Racial Traits
Defense Racial Traits
Improved Natural Armor +2 bonus (3 RP)
Magical Racial Traits
Change Shape, Lesser (3 RP)
Movement Racial Traits
Fast x2: Base speed 50-ft. (3 RP)
Offense Racial Traits
Bite x2: 1d4 (2 RP)
Senses Racial Traits
Low-light vision (1 RP)
Scent (4 RP)
Total 16 RP

This is my Bloodmarked Skinwalker build so far:

1st: Barbarian (urban) 1 [Bat Shape feat]
2nd: Swashbuckler (mouser) 1 [Weapon Finesse feat]
3rd: Fighter (unarmed) 1 [Monkey Style, Piranha Strike feats]
4th: Monk Unchained (MoMS/KM) 1 [Monkey Shine feat]
5th: Barbarian (urban) 2 [Snake Style feat]
6th: Monk Unchained (MoMS/KM) 2 [Snake Fang feat]
7th: Fighter (unarmed) 2 [Combat Reflexes, Stand Still feat]

Are there any obvious flaws or issues I've overlooked?

Initially, the Unchained Rogue looks to be tailor-made for this build but, upon trying to incorporate it, it becomes apparent that its abilities become largely redundant once you add in a level of Swashbuckler and the Amulet of Mighty Fists (Agile) that the build necessitates. A shame; it'd be nice to streamline the build a bit with the Unchained Rogue. Meh.

Can you detail your build a little more BigNorseWolf? I'd be curious to see how it compares to the OP's.

I'm trying to make a build for a home game using a skinwalker werebat-kin with the Bat Shape feat and using only three classes if possible. Is it possible and still effective despite the setbacks? Which three classes are key? Any help is appreciated.

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Even in the real world we're starting to discover a staggering amount of subterranean organisms which by some estimates may, pound for pound, actually outweigh our above-ground biosphere. It's not so hard to imagine that, with the preponderance of vast subterranean caverns and tunnels in most fantasy worlds, that much more elaborate and sustainable ecosystems may develop. Giant mushroom forests, subterranean rivers teaming with blind fish and fungus-scrounging herbivores aren't really all that outlandish. All of it together could form a tightly efficient and sustainable food chain.

As for dwarves, they serves as a bridge between the realms below and those above. Dwarves are often depicted as mining and smithing the deep earth's riches and then trading them to surface dwellers. Although dwarven merchants love money, what they're more likely to trade for is what their kinsman are in short supply of underground; grains (especially barley & hops!), vegetables, meat, leather, wood, etc. So their diet is likely a mix of what they can farm & fish below and what their traders bring down from above.

Ah. It's already all finalized. I guess I'm just way late to the party. Alright, I guess I'll just wait and see then. Thanks.

One other point that stuck with me was the wording used in some areas that refer to needing one hand free to aim a blast, or needing both hands free for something or other. Could the wording be changed to reflect the fact that not all kineticists will be humanoids with hands?

Tels wrote:
So depending on how fire resistance is handled in the full release, it's entirely possible that fire will be the highest damaging potential.

That'd be great. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
This is why I couldn't bring myself to play a pyrokineticist. You'd basically have to take expanded element just to have something to do should you come across something immune to fire.

Same here. Looking over the class, I figured I'd likely pick earth or to deal damage since it's not vulnerable to energy resistance. And that's what's frustrating; fire is intuitively the most dangerous/scary element yet it rarely is in game play.

I've read through the class and like what I see so far. I don't know if my points have been addressed in this thread. If so, I apologize.

I was a little dismayed to see that, like most other element-based classes I've seen since 2e, the kineticist is split so that each practitioner is largely limited to a single element. For many years I've been wanting to see a true elementalist; one who wields the power of all four elements. Seeing as how Avatar has popularized the idea, I hope there are plans to make this a viable PC option starting at level 1.

For those who focus on a single element such as fire though, are there plans to include a class ability that automatically reduces an opponent's energy resistance or immunity and that scales up as the PC increases in level? Such characters are attractive to play at a glance, but without such an ability tend to be paper tigers in my experience since energy resistance is so common. No one is afraid of a pyromaniac who fails to burn anything.

Kudos to those willing to think outside the box and are eager to try playing as a something other than a boring ol' bipedal humanoid.

Is there a link to this fabled Songbird build? Whatever it is, it sounds intriguing.

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Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
One could hypothesize that the walls of the extradimensional space have a constant temperature X, that is inferior to lava's temperature, which results in a constant heat flow from the lava to the wall of the space. If the extradimensional space is a perfectly closed system, like a perfect thermos, then yes one could keep ice or lava in there.

Trying to apply real physics to magical effects is always fraught with peril. The interior of a Portable Hole is an extradimensional space with finite boundaries, but those boundaries aren't really "walls" in any conventional sense; they're planar boundaries. I'd say that heat can't dissipate out through those boundaries when the opening to the hole is closed for the same reason that PCs can't tunnel their way through them: there's simply nothing beyond them; nowhere for the heat to escape to.

Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
I would argue against it for the very reason outlined here, as the item was probably not designed to be weaponized as such.

If you're looking for a way to limit what PCs can place within a hole, I'd propose looking at the nature of the item itself. A portable hole is essentially a circle of magical cloth 6-ft across. Even when placed upon a flat surface and the center of the cloth effectively disappears, some measure of it's cloth edges remain; characters need that edge so they can pull the hole away from a surface. Having that fabric edge where lava (or acid) can flow over it into the hole would seem to be a very bad idea. If the fabric suffers sufficient damage, the item will eventually be destroyed. Certainly there are workarounds that clever PCs can devise to get damaging substances in and out of the hole safely, but it's still a risky proposition; one which thrifty PCs may prefer to avoid for fear of loosing an expensive item. Just my 2¢.

Summoners are spellcasters, but I'm not seeing any pressing need to conserve swift actions. Have examples?

It's a tricky matter and will depend largely on how your GM views Intelligence. Even the basest familiar starts with an intelligence of 6, which is several orders of magnitude smarter than even the best trained mundane animal; perhaps akin to a child of middling years. If dogs can be trained to understand voice commands, I think it's only fair to assume that an Int 6 familiar can understand far more of a master's intent. I'd say it's a given that familiars understand most of their master's plain spoken instructions (perhaps with a bit of pantomine thrown in for good measure) about as well as a six or seven year old might. "Go to that window over there to see if there's anyone there then come back to me. Be careful and try to stay hidden. Okay?" is well within even a dumb familiar's ability to understand. Keep in mind also that a familiar automatically shares a master's skill ranks so, if the master has learned languages through the Linguistics skill, so has the familiar; so the question of it being able to understand spoken language (even if it cannot yet speak them) becomes moot.

As for communicating back what it's seen, the animal can answer yes or no questions easily enough with a nod or shake of its head while numbers can be tapped out. It can recognize things familiar to it, remember details and then answer questions about them, again, about as well as a child could. Race, gender, clothing worn, weapons and armor, number of people, activities of those assembled are all within their ability to conceptualize; it just might take awhile to get the information out of them with a series of yes or no questions. If the familiar knows some languages through the Linguistics skill, then I suppose you could employ something like a Ouija board for it to spell out answers.

My 2¢. YMMV.

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