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Ascalaphus's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 3,539 posts. No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 2 Pathfinder Society characters.


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Mrakvampire wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

Actually it's closer to a +2.5 on the roll, based on a million trials. Taking the best od 2d20 will give you an average of 13.

Dice analysis above (I've posted link) shows that average roll on "2d20 take best" is 15.

Yeah, I checked out those links and ran some experiments myself. It's actually doable to test this without any random trials, because it's easy to just enumerate all the possible results of rolling 2d20. That's only 20 x 20 = 400 combinations. So you take the average of max(A, B) for all the possible results of dice A and B, and that's 13. Compared to the average result of rolling just die A and getting a 10.5, that's just a +2.5 bonus.

Where it's sweet however is in the probability distribution. If you roll 1d20 you have a perfectly flat distribution. Your chance of rolling average or bad is the same. By rolling more dice however, the chance of outliers decreases.

One of the other articles referenced in the article you quoted does a much better job of explaining that (with the nice graph) than the one you quoted. LINK

Basically, rolling more dice means you're more likely to have a "normal" performance instead of an occasional extreme failure. If you needed to roll a 11 to save, that's 50% chance on 1d20, but 75% chance on 2d20 drop lowest. (Exactly.) That's where his "+5" comes from. It's not really a +5 bonus, because if the DC is higher it doesn't help quite so much.

Suppose you need to roll a 18 to save. That's a 15% chance of success. With two dice it's 27.75% chance of success; more like a +3. And if you need a 20 to save then it's 5% vs. 9.75%, so only a +1.

(I generated the probabilities through enumerating all the possibilities, rather than through simulation like he did. The numbers are close but not exactly the same. These are my probabilities of getting at least X, using 2 dice: [1.0, 0.9975, 0.99, 0.9775, 0.96, 0.9375, 0.91, 0.8775, 0.84, 0.7975, 0.75, 0.6975, 0.64, 0.5775, 0.51, 0.4375, 0.36, 0.2775, 0.19, 0.0975])

On the low DC front: suppose you needed only a 4 to save (85%). With two dice that's a 97.75% chance, so again a +3. If you only needed a 2 to save (because a 1 always fails), you go from 95% to 99.75%, so only a +1.


TL;DR - this item does something different from just giving a +5 bonus. It reduces randomness. If you could probably make the check, now you're much more likely to. If it was a long shot anyway, it becomes only a little bit more likely that you'll succeed.

On the whole, it's a very good item. It's good protection against midrange enemies, not so much against the end boss.

The text is perfectly clear. The Globe is immobile and you can move in and out of it. It appears centered on your location when you cast it and stays there.

Artanthos wrote:
Nathanael Love wrote:

I still never realized that Wayangs were the dominant race in Golarian. . . every single caster on these boards seems to be an orphaned half elf raised by Wayangs. . .

Rule #1 Always assume the wizard is perfectly optimized for the situation.

Rule #2 Always assume the wizard has exactly the right spells memorized.

The funny thing is when the other players start expecting the wizard's player to actually live up to this in a real game. Even when the GM is not always using the same situations.

Actually it's closer to a +2.5 on the roll, based on a million trials. Taking the best od 2d20 will give you an average of 13.

It doesn't do a lot for your chance to save on high difficulties. But against difficulties around the 50% chance it helps a lot, because you have fewer really low rolls.

@The black raven: that's an interesting take on it.

As a variant on that, maybe gods also have a subconscious, filled with worries and repressed desires; and whenever they consciously intervene on a plane to achieve desired results, they also cause some side effects from their unconscious.

So a good god intervenes to do good stuff, but because he's worried about evil, evil things also seep into reality when he intervenes.

And so gods tend to keep their distance, intervening only rarely, because they're afraid of this leakage.

Ah, but look a little further:

CRB, magic chapter wrote:

Replacing and Copying Spellbooks

A wizard can use the procedure for learning a spell to reconstruct a lost spellbook. If he already has a particular spell prepared, he can write it directly into a new book at the same cost required to write a spell into a spellbook. The process wipes the prepared spell from his mind, just as casting it would. If he does not have the spell prepared, he can prepare it from a borrowed spellbook and then write it into a new book.

You can write down the spell because you have it prepared. After you write it down you can then read it an try to understand it so you can prepare it again.


Interestingly, you seem to be able to read, understand and copy spells above your level; you just can't prepare them yet.

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Don't tell people too much. When you write a setting, don't spell out everything, don't explain everything. Don't even be too consistent.

You need to paint some evocative outlines, that suggest that there's a lot of detail. But don't give it (yet). Make people wonder about apparent contradictions, or the "but how come they don't...?". Then smile at your players and say that there's good reasons for that, but they'll have to actually discover those.

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@pming: I don't really agree with that. If you want to play the stealth game, you have to know the stealth rules through and through, and know what modifiers you can gain and what you need to do for it. And what things will give the opposition bonuses.

It's still a d20 vs. d20 roll, but the point is to stack the odds in your extreme favor. Since a 20/1 doesn't auto-hit/fail on skill checks, you can just plain be better.

Of course, sometimes you won't be. But then, sometimes a fighter just isn't as strong as a dragon. So you also need to be able to realize when you're in over your head and retreat fast enough, possibly dropping some things to make it harder to follow you.

I do think this kind of scouting requires a notch higher rule skill from the player than a standard combat character.

When I said "appears to have changed", I was referring to the current text on the page mentioned in that thread. In the thread it was proposed to allow casting spells at a lower level - like a low-intensity fireball to fry skeletons, not party members.

Nowadays, it's:


Caster Level

A spell's power often depends on its caster level, which for most spellcasting characters is equal to her class level in the class she's using to cast the spell.

You can cast a spell at a lower caster level than normal, but the caster level you choose must be high enough for you to cast the spell in question, and all level-dependent features must be based on the same caster level.

In the event that a class feature or other special ability provides an adjustment to your caster level, that adjustment applies not only to effects based on caster level (such as range, duration, and damage dealt), but also to your caster level check to overcome your target's spell resistance and to the caster level used in dispel checks (both the dispel check and the DC of the check).

There's no explicit rule saying your caster level needs to be at least X to cast a level Y spell. The second paragraph has something that looks like that, but only in the case when you want to cast a spell at a lower than normal level.

So it seems that as long as you still have the spell slots and high enough casting stat, you can still cast high-level spells even while enjoying negative levels.

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Ninja automatically qualifies for Sneak Attack if he manages to creep up behind the GM and startle him.

Alchemist may splash drink on battle mat instead of rolling to-hit with splash weapon. Must do this from at least 10ft. Anything splashed with drink is hit.

Gunslinger may roll to-hit by using nerf gun against miniatures.

Halfling may throw pebbles at miniatures as to-hit roll with thrown or sling attacks.

Dwarf if the player manages to knock over any minis with a belch, that counts as a free action succesful Demoralize against all knocked-over minis (including allies).

Can it be combined with the Reincarnated Druid? That dude comes back from the dead all the time, but with permanent negative levels, and no Restoration spell himself.

Magi with Knowledge pool have an easy time filling their spellbook. Mystic Theurges also have it easy, since they can scribe divine spells onto scrolls, decipher them and record them as arcane spells. Although that's not exactly as useful since you could basically already cast them as clerical spells.

Also, there's the Blood Transcription spell.

Limiting the number of dice might actually do a decent job of cutting down on the craziness, since the other thread discovered that large numbers of dice are really a good thing.

It's easy to get rid of dice you don't need (using the Zero trick), but it can be tricky to get to a constant with insufficient dice.

This would have to be tested.

The actual text of the spell is perfectly clear about how it works, is it not? It's immobile and you can move in and out of it.

If that contradicts Emanations, this is obviously a case of a specific ability overriding a general rule. No reason to lose sleep.

I'm a big fan of the Dream spell. Unlike Sending, you can send much longer messages. It's a bit slower and only one-way, but the information load is huge.

@Artemis: when I tried it I used only one constant. It's still pretty easy.


Re: Globe of Invulnerability. By default emanations move with you, but a specific power always overrides the general rules. The Globe is an exception to the normal emanation spell rules. I see no ambiguity there.

I think the basic argument is sound: a Globe only helps you a lot of you stay in it. That means you lose some of your freedom to keep moving around, and that can be bad.

I think the Globe has some real uses though; if you're trying to defend a strategic point for example. Like in a siege. Or when you want to shield fragile NPCs from enemy spellcasters. If you're doing an escort quest and the enemy has Magic Missile for example.

It's a good solution for some problems. Just like 80% of wizard spells. I think it's scroll material, not necessarily daily preparation material.

The prophets move in mysterious ways. :P

A guide to ranged combat? Interesting. It would be nice if there came to be more different ranged combat weapons that can compete with bows (and guns), without being just more of the same.

What about rare, valuable plants? In that case this spell could make you a lot of money.

I'm not sure if the Veteran of Battle trait is meant to work with concealed weapons. I think it was meant to work with normal weapons, not with the longer-time-to-draw concealed weapons.

(Also, are you sure that a true follower of Gorum would really conceal weapons? :P)

I like the Manual. Not everything is immediately useful, but quite a bit is. And it's got a nice wide variety of different approaches to alchemy; good flavor and inspiration.

Effective scouting lets you buff for rooms with enemies. Without it, you have to gamble; maybe the room is empty and we waste buffs, or maybe we don't buff and there's enemies and we're not going in with optimal prebuffs.

Plus, you might want different buffs/weapons drawn against an undead, group of skeletons or pack of kobold alchemists.

And yeah sure, enemies will have heard the fighter clanking. But the scout who's listening at the door will also hear them making plans. If he hears enemies casting buff spells, and setting up an ambush, he can tell the fighter to wait a minute before kicking down the door, to let those buffs expire again.

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Bandw2 wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
I heard it said that 12 ranks guarantees 100% success rate with any spell of 9th-level and lower.
I think thats "effectively" 100% chance. I think that very low rolls like all 1's still screw things up. So, "only" really a 99.99% chance :-)

rolls of only ones actually i think screws up only the highest tiers because you can do stuff like


You have an unmatched right bracket there. IT BURNS!


DominusMegadeus wrote:
Nocte ex Mortis wrote:

In all honesty, this Feat may have taken the throne of "Most Powerful Feat Ever Written," from Leadership.

... That is, until you realize that you can take Leadership, and have your Cohort ALSO take this Feat.

That's what's so hilarious about leadership, every OP feat that gets published only makes it stronger. It will never be dethroned, as far as I can tell.

Oh, just publish a feat that gives you a cohort with a level higher than your own. Right now leadership is still limited by at some point the cohorts of your cohorts of ... their cohorts hitting a level less than 7 and not being qualified to take Leadership themselves.

Joe M. wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

The tragedy is that I really like the minigame, but the result is just a tad overpowered. If the feat did less but with the same minigame, it might be appropriate for home games.

I'm also thinking that this might be a good feat for Silent+Still spells; like when you need to do something in a crowd without drawing attention. Since you're pretending not to cast stuff, the increased casting time probably isn't an issue anyway.

House rule it, then. :-)

(Unrelated: as I understand it, Silent + Still does nothing to hide the visual manifestation of casting a spell. Glowing magical runes and all that...)

Well, there's no actual rune about glowing magical runes. There's a big gaping hole in the rules where it should tell us what casting a spell without components looks like to an observer.

Although you can still use Spellcraft to identify a spell without any components.

However there's also circumstantial evidence (the Secret Signs feat) that suggests that a spell without any components left is not noticeable as spellcasting.

Given that I'm setting up an urban campaign where covert spellcasting will be A Thing, this bothers me.

Kaisoku wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
@Lunias: that's brilliant. So simple, but you're the first to see it.

*cough* 2nd page *cough*

Multiplication should get you to what you need simple enough, even higher numbers. Then you just get rid of the rest: just minus some numbers down to create 0, and multiply anything you have left with that.
Though, to be fair, most didn't even notice I'd said that, and fixated on all their little ones. So I can forgive overlooking it.

My apologies.

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The cute thing is that a spell costs level^2)*10gp to scribe, and its level in pages.

Meaning that a level 1 spell takes up 10gp per page, while a level 9 spell takes 81gp per page. I imagine at some point it becomes an exercise in just completely coloring in pages in your spell book.

Note that familiars eventually acquire the ability to talk to animals of their own kind. You could have a smart yet quite small familiar, who sits on the back of your bigger and stronger but dumber animal companion, and tells him what to do.

@Robert Young: I was referring to this post at the end of that thread:


Yeah.. this old thread is full of suppositions that I do not believe to be true. I am going to lock this one down. If folks want to discuss... start a new thread.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

So we probably shouldn't put too much faith in any rulings given in that thread. Although it seems like some of the ideas made it into the later printings of the CRB.

Yeah, the -5HP can be rough on some classes.

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There's two kinds of versatility: the possibility of many different builds, and for a single build to do many different things. Alchemists have a lot of the former and sufficient of the latter.

If it was X times per encounter it might make some sense, as after a while you're not surprised at yet another critical. But it really doesn't make that much sense if spread across multiple encounters.

The tragedy is that I really like the minigame, but the result is just a tad overpowered. If the feat did less but with the same minigame, it might be appropriate for home games.

I'm also thinking that this might be a good feat for Silent+Still spells; like when you need to do something in a crowd without drawing attention. Since you're pretending not to cast stuff, the increased casting time probably isn't an issue anyway.

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I do have a distaste for the "so totally saw it coming surprise" round. Like when the GM makes you roll surprise against the monsters behind the Big Ominous Door that you were carefully opening, everyone already with weapons drawn.

In that case I think it makes more sense to consider that combat rounds are already rolling before the door opens; you just don't know the monsters' initiatives yet.

It does imply that, but (trying to mean no disrespect) I'm not sure if rogue archetypes are the best place to discover the nuances of the rules. A lot of archetypes are written by freelancers and contain smaller or greater errors.

Also, you get a lot of skill points, and you have quite a good array of class skills. That alone means you can participate in many things.

I've been playing a paladin wielding a no-dachi (two-handed sword), and throwing javelins if there are no enemies in convenient melee range. Draw and throw with one hand, then re-grip sword. It works pretty well for something that doesn't cost any feats and very little money.

Robert Young wrote:
Raziel747 wrote:

Post by James to confirm that:


And he reverses himself on page 2 of same thread.

Also, consider the last post on the last page...

@Lunias: that's brilliant. So simple, but you're the first to see it.


Given the increased casting time, I'd say this is a good feat for out of combat spells (which is when the slightly longer player time is also less of an issue). Therefore I recommend taking Extend as one of the free metamagics. For clerics, I'd say Maximize is also good, for getting the most out of healing spells. Style points for wrapping your party into geometrically pleasing bandages.

You can draw a sheathed weapon as part of a charge, but I don't think you can do that with a concealed weapon. The section of the combat rules that allows you to draw weapons during movement is talking about normally sheathed weapons - the sort that would take a Move to draw normally, and that Quickdraw reduces to Free.

But concealed weapons take a Standard to draw - Move with Quickdraw. It happens to take the same amount of action, but it's not actually the same action.

Also, if you take the "Standard Charge" in a surprise round, you're not allowed to draw weapons unless you also have Quickdraw (in which case the charge doesn't have anything to do with it anymore). What the Draw-During-Charge does is reduce the Charge distance by 1x your speed so that you can draw a weapon. Basically you're spending a Move action to draw and then making a Standard Charge. It makes sense that you can't do that if you only had a Standard Charge to begin with.

Also, it'd be odd if you could use Underhanded in the surprise round only if you moved 10ft towards your target, not if you were already standing next to him.


It does look like Deft Palm works, because you can treat the weapon as Concealed even if it's right there in your hand.

Deft Palm wrote:
Deft Palm (Ex): A rogue with this talent can make a Sleight of Hand check to conceal a weapon while holding it in plain sight, even while she is being observed.

That talent is in the same book, same chapter as Underhanded, so the author didn't completely mess up. It's pretty much the only way to use Underhanded that's unambiguous per RAW.


Other ideas I've though of/heard about: a Glove of Storing will let you produce a hidden - but not Concealed(tm) - weapon as a free action.

Unarmed strikes probably don't work - the opponent knows your fists exist. But a touch spell or SLA could count, if the enemy didn't know you were a spellcaster. I recommend the level 1 bloodline power of the Shadow bloodline, which does subdual damage as a touch SLA. (SLAs have no spell components, therefore more discreet than spellcasting. Also, the requirements for Eldritch Heritage are quite bearable for rogues: just take Skill Focus-Stealth.)


It's unclear wether you can take Swift Actions during the surprise round. On the one hand the definition for surprise round says you take only a Move or Standard. On the other hand, the "Restricted Activity" section among actions says:

Restricted Activity: In some situations, you may be unable to take a full round's worth of actions. In such cases, you are restricted to taking only a single standard action or a single move action (plus free and swift actions as normal). You can't take a full-round action (though you can start or complete a full-round action by using a standard action; see below).

That description seems to fit a surprise round pretty well. Given that swift actions are known to be "smaller" than standard and move actions, it'd be hard to explain why you couldn't use them during the surprise round. And any argument why you can't do Swift in the surprise round would also apply to Free actions, with the result that drawing weapons, shouting at people to take cover or surrender and so forth also becomes impossible. Which I find hard to believe is really the correct interpretation of the rules.

So, as a result, a spring-loaded wrist sheath might work. It doesn't say explicitly that items in them are Concealed(tm), but since you get a bonus to Sleight of Hand to prevent people from noticing them, I'd say that's the RAI.


TL;DR: one way that works unambiguously (Deft Palm), one that's almost certain to be correct (spring-loaded wrist sheath), and two that should work by common sense though not entirely by RAW (glove of storing, touch spells/SLAs).

The intent of the feat is pretty straightforward. The RAW practice is rather complicated. Concealed weapon has a pretty precise definition, and there seems to be no way to accelerate drawing them to less than a move action.

There's lots of ways to hide a weapon, but the talent specifically wants concealed weapons, which is problematic.

darkwarriorkarg wrote:

I think this is being blown out of proportion. Apart from theorycrafting, has anyone actually tried to use it?

I can do math rather easily and _I_ wouldn't take this feat, just for the added complication (same as why I don't bother with the Summoner...)

I just tried some toying around with dice to see if I could quickly reach the various numbers. I used 12 dice. It turns out it's really not that hard to do. You can get rid of any two dice with the same number or with a difference of only 1 by subtracting them to get 0 or 1.

The original design intent behind vital strike was to provide an option to warriors who couldn't make a full attack, due to movement for example. But those people can't make off-hand attacks anyway.

Also, I don't think spending more feats will make VS more useful.

My own houserule to make VS work is to set the bonus damage to a static +2d6, regardless of the weapon used. This allows a halfling with a shiv to really do some damage, and in general people who don't want to use uber-sized weapons.

It's perhaps more obvious to those of us who remember the 3.x Toughness feat, which just gave +3 hp once, nothing more.

Which was a useful feat for level 1 one-shot adventures, but poison in the long term.

Silent Saturn wrote:

My vote for scariest goes to Derro. They have "shadow communities" underneath just about every major city, they sneak into your house and steal you out of your bed at night when there's nothing you can do about it, and they "experiment" on you for unknown reasons. Usually these experiments erase your memory of the abduction and then they bring you back, but on some level the mental scars are still there, along with the results of the "experiment". And then sometimes they DON'T erase your memory. And sometimes you DON'T make it back.

Mechanically, they're everything that's frightening about gnome or halfling sorcerers, plus they use their Charisma for Will saves instead of their Wisdom. Also any group of them is bound to have a guy whose weapon can trip you from 20 feet away.

Have you been watching Dark City again?

Ravingdork wrote:

I couldn't get Ascalaphus' script to work at all. :(

Ah, yes. That site is a python interpreter, which is slightly different from calling a script from the command line with the spell name as parameter.

To get it to work in that interpreter, change the last line to:

print ntn("lightning bolt")

Or just erase the last line, and type

ntn("my spell name within these quotation marks")

in the box on the right side, followed by Enter.

Really, compared to older editions, by now energy drain is pretty much "fair" and at least easy to apply. It's still one of the scarier things that can happen, but what would the game be like with nothing to worry about?

Owly's answer is correct, but a bit terse. To go into more detail:

Seemos Yantra wrote:

1) Does this means I have to recalculate HP?

No, each negative level just reduces your HP by 5.

Seemos Yantra wrote:

2) Does this means my skill rank limit is reduced too? And, if the answer is yes, what happens with the "surplus" ranks?

Nope, the condition says nothing about that happening.

Seemos Yantra wrote:

3) Does this means I loose access to class abilities gained in level X if I am treated to be X levels lower?


Seemos Yantra wrote:

4) Are Saves, BAB, or something else regressed as if I was X levels lower aside of the penalty? (My guess is no, but it doesn't hurts to ask).

Nope. Rather than have combat grind to a halt as someone calculates what their character sheet may have looked like a few levels back, the condition just assumes that a -1 penalty per negative level is more than enough.

Seemos Yantra wrote:

I know these are a lot of questions, but I wanted to make sure because I have a character that is going to be brought back with a Raise Dead spell, which inflicts 2 permanent Negative Levels, so I wanted to know how exactly to modify and/or treat his CRS. In advance, thanks, and sorry for the wall of text.

No problem. As you see, negative levels are still not something you want to have, but they're pretty easy to apply.

JoeJ wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Are you sure you need THAT many NPCs? Will the players actually be able to keep track of them?

It's better to have too many than not enough. You can always change the names and use them again in a later adventure.

Respectfully, too much can really be annoying. I'm speaking from experience - my Vampire campaign had hordes of NPCs. But keeping track of all of them is a hassle, and after a while the players don't really remember them anyway because there's just too many. You also stretch your creativity thin, as well as the time you have to prepare them.

I think it's better to have a handful of really good NPCs than a "realistic" horde of them.

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