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Ascalaphus's page

FullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 4,609 posts. 17 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 8 Pathfinder Society characters.


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Ipslore the Red wrote:

If creature hardness is meant exactly to work like objects, does that imply creatures with hardness automatically halve energy damage before applying hardness unless a type is called out as an exception?

On the one hand, giving that ability to, say, robots seems overkill. On the other, I don't see much of a reason why animating an object would suddenly make it more vulnerable to energy.


How does hardness work for creatures? Does energy damage such as cold deal half damage to creatures with hardness (Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 173-174) even before applying the flat numerical reduction?

When a creature with hardness sustains damage, subtract its hardness from the damage dealt. The rules for halving damage, doubling damage, dealing damage with ineffective tools, immunities, and the like only apply to damaging inanimate objects.

Don't obsess about sunder. In the PF universe, it doesn't make a lot of sense to sunder stuff.

Compared to the real world, PF magic gear is both more powerful and more valuable. Any monster, NPC or PC interested in treasure would be foolish to destroy it.

Also, it's not even such an effective tactic. It's not all that easy to sunder armour and weapons, because they have a lot of hit points and hardness. Without specialized gear, it's not going to happen in a single hit. And if you're spending multiple actions to sunder gear, you're not actually achieving any advantage compared to just straightforward violence. Also, people with good arms and armour also tend to have good CMD, so you're not guaranteed to actually hit with your sunder vs. fullplate. Again, unless you have specialized gear. But then you've been spending a lot on specialized gear, and then you fight a monster with natural armor and attacks, and none of your specialized gear or tactics work.

"Oh, but can't you sunder spell component pouches?" you think? You can, but that means that you're in melee with a spellcaster that you can actually hit. Spellcasters tend to defend themselves with miss chance or just by not being in melee with monsters, so this isn't super-common. And a second spell component pouch costs only 5gp.

Tactically speaking, sunder is a trap. It's unreliable and unprofitable.


There are maneuver-debuffs that can work. Disarming is faster than sundering (vs. weapons) because you only need to hit once. Tripping is pretty good if you can handle the size limits. But the gold is in grappling.

Grappling requires some serious specialization, but it takes many opponents by surprise. It makes spellcasting very hard, stops fast-moving opponents, and it stops opponents who rely on the superiority of 2H weapons.

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Kenji Elindir wrote:
Would I be correct in assuming that if you can take AoO's on squares 2 diagonals from you with a reach weapon that you could similarly attack those squares with your normal actions?

The FAQ says you threaten those squares. That's a prerequisite for making AoOs, to be sure. But it also implies that you can attack them normally, because threatened squares are defined to be those squares which you can currently attack.

So, yes.

I think a lot of the time getting the AC bonus towards a single opponent is good enough, because usually there's one opponent per round who's most dangerous to you. Either because he's the boss, or because he's the only one close to you. And monsters with many natural attacks have been the chief PC-killers I've seen, so getting the bonus against all attacks is good.

What I like best about the reach FAQ is not so much the particular solution they chose (although I think it's the least evil by far), but that I don't have to try to convince any GMs that there's a post from a few years back in a random topic where SKR introduces magical threatened grid intersections.

AC 18 against APL 9 is a joke. Seriously, my fairly normal-build paladin has +16 to hit before any buffs, so I'd only be missing on a 1, which was gonna happen anyway.


I think it's a change for the better. The previous "solution" to reach was obscure at best, and hidden in the bowels of the forum. Now we have an uninterrupted threatened perimeter for normal users of reach weapons. And it uses the rule that many people were already using, because it's the most intuitive.

It seems both abilities would only grant their benefits if you entered the enemy's space using that specific ability.

wraithstrike wrote:
I dont think the devs intended for something bypassing DR to bypass hardness or they would have just used DR for the creatures.

Well, that's fair enough for some things that bypass DR, like for example lantern archon lasers.

However, there are some abilities where I think that wasn't really the intent; these were supposed to be "anti-artifice" powers, but written before hardness occurred on creatures.

Weapon Master archetype wrote:
Unstoppable Strike (Ex): At 19th level, a weapon master can take a standard action to make one attack with his chosen weapon as a touch attack that ignores damage reduction (or hardness, if attacking an object). This ability replaces armor mastery.

This reads like the writer never anticipated creatures ever getting Hardness.

Wrecker Oracle curse wrote:

(...)At 5th level, whenever you attempt to damage an object with a melee attack, reduce its hardness by an amount equal to your oracle level before determining the damage you deal with that attack.

At 10th level, any attacks you make against objects and constructs automatically bypass any damage reduction they may possess except epic. (...)

So you ignore the hardness of objects, and the DR of creatures and objects, but not the hardness of creatures.

Slime Grenade wrote:
The alchemists of Nex have found several uses for the toxic residue left over from their massive ooze cultivating experiments, including a variety of items known collectively as slime grenades. These ceramic ovoids are filled with caustic sludge and capped with a stone plug. You can throw a slime grenade as a splash weapon with a range increment of 5 feet. A successful ranged touch attack coats the target with green slime, dealing 2d6 points of acid damage to the creature. If the target is wearing wooden or metal armor or wielding a wooden or metal shield, a slime grenade eats through the material on a hit, dealing 3d6 points of acid damage to the equipment and ignoring the items’ hardness. Creatures in the splash radius of a slime grenade take no damage, but any wooden or metal armor or shields they are wearing take 1d6 points of acid damage (ignoring hardness). Affected creatures can attempt DC 15 Reflex saves to halve the damage dealt to their equipment.

The grenade ignores the hardness of weapons and armor held by the target. But does it also ignore the hardness of a robot that it's splashed on?

Stonefist spell wrote:
This spell transforms your hands into living stone. While this spell is in effect, your unarmed strikes do not provoke attacks of opportunity and deal 1d6 points of lethal bludgeoning damage (1d4 if you are Small). In addition, your unarmed strikes ignore the hardness of any object with a hardness less than 8. (...)

Again, the assumption is that only objects have hardness. Should the spell also work on creatures with hardness?

Shearing Sword wrote:
This +1 greatsword is often found among the robot-hunters of Numeria. Three times per day as a standard action, the wielder can envelop the blade with a razor-edged field of force for 1 minute. Thanks to this field, the sword ignores the damage reduction of creatures with DR 5 or less (other than DR/epic), and when it’s used to attack an object or sunder a weapon, the sword treats the item as having a hardness of 5 less than the item’s actual hardness.

Sadly for the robot-hunters, this sword doesn't actually help against robots because it doesn't reduce hardness of creatures.

Dwarven FCBs wrote:
Monk: Reduce the Hardness of any object made of clay, stone, or metal by 1 whenever the object is struck by the monk's unarmed strike (minimum of 0).

Should this also work against clay, stone or metal creatures with hardness?

And now for the big one:

Adamantine wrote:
(...) Weapons fashioned from adamantine have a natural ability to bypass hardness when sundering weapons or attacking objects, ignoring hardness less than 20. (...)

Unless there's a Universal Monster Rule definition of Hardness, Adamantine doesn't actually help against robots.

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I think the 25-ft case is fine as-is. It's probably easier to limit the 10ft-exception to 10ft only, because that's the only place where it's really necessary.

I'm glad about the reach fix. I think this is a big improvement.

I think the Crane Wing change is generally a good solution. However, it's probably best to take a long hard look at the text of all the three feats in the chain, just to make sure they're properly in tune with each other.


What I thought was really cool about this scenario is that it really manages to deliver on the stuff you expect from an ancient dwarven city. It's got history, traps/engineering, religion, subterranean monsters, all of it.

The scenario does quite reward you for actually bringing a somewhat thematic character, it's far from being just a generic dungeoncrawl that you 2H your way through. (Although some sudden extreme violence does help, of course.)

Doomed Hero wrote:
there are monsters with Hardness? This is news to me.

Robots, found in some S6 PFS scenarios as well as the Iron Gods AP.

Hardness used to be for objects, not creatures. Using it on creatures is a very recent innovation, and one that's IMO not done very well.

There are a lot of powers that go something like "negate DR of constructs/negate DR/adamantine, and negate hardness of objects". Typical powers for anti-artifice, back to nature, barbarianesque things. But they don't work on constructs with hardness.

It looks like someone wanted to use Hardness as "DR X/adamantine AND Resist all energy X", but it doesn't take into account powers that avoid DR or Resistance.


Eh. Instead of a rogue we brought a Trapper Ranger 6/Living Monolith 2 that was very consistently Vital Striking for 6d6+19 or so.

Sure, he wasn't doing the social stuff (we already had a bloodrager and a paladin for that), but he was acing all the Engineering, Linguistics and History stuff that you'd expect in an ancient dwarven city. And he dealt professionally with all the traps. (There was a gratifying amount of all of these.)


Thank you all. This has been informative :)


If I had/could remove anything, Summoner. Although I'd be okay with just requiring people to pass a rules understanding test before being allowed to play one. Which would test things like correct eidolon construction and ability to run summoned monsters in a timely manner. If someone passes that, I'm fine with it.

Besides that, the Slumber hex. I'm okay with the rest of the Witch; it's powerful but not scenario-ruining.

I actually think the shadowdancer is a fairly decent PrC as-is. It's not the best PrC ever, but it's solid middle-class. The funny part is that it's a much better PrC for full-BAB classes than for rogues.

To elaborate: the main draw of the CRB version is the shadow companion. It inherits your BAB and base saves, so you'd want a class that gives the best possible BAB and saves. That would be, in rough order of preference:

1) Paladin; Will saves are by far the most important to incorporeal undead. They're immune to most things that require Fortitude and incorporeality tends to halve all Reflex-related things. Will protects them from nasty spells and Channel Energy.

2) Lorewarden fighter; it's got an easy time with the feat path and is already suited to hit-and-run tactics. It's also a decent fit skill-wise, since the LF is not weighed down by stealth-inhibiting armor.

3) Slayer: fairly relaxed in feats, but doesn't gain as much from the PrC. Good thematic fit though.

4) Ranger: still doable feat-wise and two good saves.

5) Abyssal/Aberrant Bloodrager: for a reach weapon build, fuelled by Combat Reflexes.

6) Barbarian/Bloodrager: as above, just not as impressive.

7) Fighter: easy to do the feat path and full BAB, and you have the most to gain from the PrC's skills.

8) Monk: not great BAB synergy, but excellent saving throws. Can make good use of the mobility.

I think Swashbucklers and ninjas are also still somewhat workable, but now we're really circling the drain.

@ElterAgo: read the whole story here.

The relevant part is this:

PRD->CRB->Magic->Transmutation->Polymorph wrote:
When you cast a polymorph spell that changes you into a creature of the animal, dragon, elemental, magical beast, plant, or vermin type, all of your gear melds into your body. Items that provide constant bonuses and do not need to be activated continue to function while melded in this way (with the exception of armor and shield bonuses, which cease to function). Items that require activation cannot be used while you maintain that form.

So a Ring of Protection (+1 deflection to AC) would continue to work, but you would no longer be able to activate a Ring of Invisibility.

Note that this only occurs if you change into those specific creature types. If you use for example Monstrous Physique to turn into a monstrous humanoid, you keep your gear;

If your new form does not cause your equipment to meld into your form, the equipment resizes to match your new size.

I dunno. Do sane, even-minded people get to be level 20/MT 10?

I think you have to be crazy ambitious to get there. So it's possible that I'd be incapable of accepting such a deal.

But is it really bad power creep when a bottom-tier class creeps into the middle tier?

I do agree that the monk is the most dramatic change in a class' viability.

What other constraints are you under? Particularly, what races are allowed? What sourcebooks?

Compared to the rogue, every other class in the CRB, even the fighter and monk, is power creep.

If you look at the middle tier of classes in the CRB, you'll find the barbarian, bard, druid, paladin, ranger and sorcerer. Those are all fine, well-functioning classes. Each is powerful in some way without being universally powerful. Each of them has either a lot of "width" or "depth" of power, with a little bit of the other.

Above them, there's the wizard and cleric, who have both wide-ranging and deep power. The wizard has the flexibility of the bard combined with much deeper power. The cleric has the deep power of the druid with much broader application.

So I'm positing that the middle tier is basically the happiest for game balance. And then if you look at later books, what tier do new classes fall in?

Top-tier: witch, summoner
Middle: alchemist, cavalier (barely), inquisitor, oracle, archetyped monk
Bottom: none

Top: none
Middle: gunslinger, samurai, ninja (barely)
Bottom: none

Top: none
Middle: magus; it's strong but much more specialized than the wizard
Bottom: none

Top: arcanist; it's an improved sorcerer, which was already nearly top-tier
Middle: bloodrager (more options than a barbarian but also quite MAD), brawler (more flexible than a fighter), hunter, investigator (after level 4), skald, slayer, warpriest
Bottom: swashbuckler (poor saves combined with a fighting style that doesn't make up enough for it)

(I'm not sure if the shaman should be middle or top tier. I don't understand it well enough. Probably top-tier.)

Looking at this, I think Paizo's been fairly consistent in its development.


I'm thinking about rolling up a paladin that will eventually get Ultimater Mercy. However, that costs 10 lay on hands uses to power.

Now, it's conceivable that during a scenario, you need some LoH uses to actually get through the scenario. So much even, that you have less than 10 remaining when someone happens to keel over. And then later that day you complete the scenario's written content.

So can you then go get some sleep and with the next day's fresh batch of LoH uses, revive your friend? How long is the window in which you can still do stuff like this?


Related to this is the clearing of conditions gained in a scenario. Suppose you contract a disease. After you complete the scenario, can you take a few IC weeks to recover (making appropriate saves) before the GM hands out chronicle sheets?

So if you bought this in PFS through the chronicle sheet, could it later be upgraded even further?

(I mean, it's quite nice, but if it's your primary weapon, at some point you may want to splurge even further if you have the money.)

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Belabras wrote:
You cannot shift twice as a full round action (shift and withdraw comes close though)

There's no "shift" in PF. You might be thinking of the 5ft. step.

However, you're only allowed to take a 5ft. step if you do not otherwise move in the round, so it can't be combined with a withdraw action.


So I heard there's this class for people who want to play Hard Mode, all the time. Pretty cool huh?

@Nefreet: notice how he calls it a "hard and fast" rule, not an airtight rule. And he's talking about what he can personally do, not what can be done by anyone at all.


Anyway, the normal whip isn't obsolete. Whip Mastery makes normal whips better than scorpion whips, because you retain the option to deal nonlethal damage if that's expedient. And if you're really dedicated to using whips, you can't really ignore Improved Whip Mastery.

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It's hard to find when "bloat" first became topic of discussion in relation to PF specifically. Probably by the time of the second supplement. Some people are just a teensy bit alarmist about it.

I agree that 2H doesn't really need nerfing, it's other combat styles that need to be less of a hassle to use.

In the case of 2WF, the move/full attack issue is paramount.

In the case of archery, I think all that's needed is to drop PBS as a prerequisite for other feats. It's a decent feat and you'll probably pick it up as an archer sooner or later. However, right now, playing a non-human level 1-2 archer is just annoying because you really need Precise Shot.

I'm not sure on the best way to make shields more attractive. I think basically, shields right now just don't provide quite enough AC without big investment. In a more realistic combat system, shields would be the default choice. But in PF, they're kind of an oddball choice.

Amusingly, once you get into the Whip Mastery line, normal whips are actually better than scorpion whips. Because then you have a free option to do lethal or nonlethal depending on your current needs. I don't think you can do nonlethal without the usual -4 to hit penalty with a scorpion whip.


I recently played this one, and I think it's the best mass adventure for PFS so far. The big fight where everyone is in the same room together makes so much more sense than the big room fight in Year of the Shadow Lodge.

Or an elf. Bonus to both Dex and Int is really nice. And if you can get it, tiefling. Bonus to Dex, Int, and a tail to Swift-grab all those alchemical items you're so good at making.

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I FAQ'ed because I'd like to see this matter laid to rest. But personally I think it's very simple: a scorpion whip is a whip with the only difference being that it does lethal damage. In all other respects it's like a normal whip.

You can read the text in a different way if you like, but this reading (and only this reading) solves all the problems with it, doesn't produce weird side-effects, and leaves us with a useable and cool weapon.

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As I understand it, "withdrawing" from a duel means gracefully surrendering. It's not the only way to end a duel; if you blatantly cheat, the duel also ends/transforms into normal combat (and you're also considered the loser of the duel).

In the case of this feat, there's not really any penalty for "losing" the duel. Basically, what happens is that a PC calls out an NPC to enter a duel, dramatic music plays, and suddenly both persons can use stuff like Dueling Parry. Some people have special abilities that interact with that. Then the NPC goes "hey, this is totally not to my advantage", attacks a random bystander, which ends the duel due to clear breach of the default rules. There's some booing and hissing from beyond the fourth wall. And then life goes on.

Yeah, I actually think the STR build is easier to work with than the DEX build, because you don't have to pin yourself down with Dex to damage on one particular weapon.

You sacrifice some synergy for using DEX for both attack and defence, but you save on feats or gear.

Let's mention the elephant in the room: natural attacks. From level 4 onwards, you can use Alter Self and Monstrous Physique to gain 3-5 natural attacks. Those are nice because they're all at your full BAB and all profit from Studied Combat.

They can be Finesse'd, but that does mean you're better off with "real" Finesse than with the Swashbuckler-style finesse that only applies to some weapons.

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Yes, that's pretty much it. And 1d4, rather than 1d2.


You can read it in different ways, but this is a reasonable, good-faith reading of it. It answers all the rule-questions and results in a weapon that's a viable option.

Basically, scorpion whips are to whips as composite bows are to normal bows. You apply the same feats and weapon proficiencies, but there are some specific mechanical differences. The only differences are those explicitly called out.

You can't Slashing Grace the sword cane, it's a piercing weapon.

You can use Finesse on the sword cane though, which means you could also get an Agile sword cane.

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@DraK: the snarky answer would be: it has the stats that is has in AA, and you need to own AA to use it, so look it up. But I understand what you mean.

@Andrew: it's in the text in AA;

AA wrote:

Scorpion Whip: This whip has a series of razor-sharp blades and fangs inset along its tip. It deals lethal damage, even to creatures with armor bonuses. If you are proficient with whips, you can use a scorpion whip.

It says "this whip". Then it points out that it deviates from normal whips with regard specifically to damage. That text would be completely unnecessary if it wasn't otherwise like a normal whip.

Claxon wrote:

While it definitely strains suspension of disbelief, the devs also recognize that Wealth = Power in this game. Your character losing a significant portion of the magical items due to falling in an acid pit is basically a stealth nerf. Worse than even hitting a character with permanent negative levels.

I think another reason for that rule is simple expediency. If you have to roll item saving throws for every one of the 200 things you carry with you, every time someone throws a fireball, the game would be unplayable.

Claxon wrote:

Hell, given the choice between having my character die and rolling a new one with WBL or having my character survive and losing 3/4s of my wealth...I'm choosing death every time. Because I don't want to play an unplayable and weak character compared to everyone else.

I think though this is a sad side-effect of WBL. In a non-RPG story, you sometimes lose gear and then find new gear. And I think this could work just as well in PF; you lose gear, but that gives the GM leeway to give more treasure than appropriate for your level. Like, you defeat a dragon, but normally a dragon hoard would put you at like 2x WBL. But if he just cooked a lot of your gear, then it's about even.

Personally I like the sword cane, because it can also be drawn as a swift action. But if you want to go dex-based, the rapier is basically THE weapon, because then you can get both fencing grace and all the investigator tricks. However, you become very dependent on it and you'll suck with any other weapon.

The thing is, investigators don't have much use for critical hits, since Studied Combat and Studied Strike damage isn't multiplied by it. It's still nice to get a crit, but not SUPER-nice.

Many of the worthwhile exotic weapons are worthwhile because they have unusual crit ranges (falcata!). This doesn't really jive with investigators.

The curve blade is a weird weapon, too. As a 2H weapon it's most impressive with a high strength, so why would you want to use it with Finesse?


If I may ask, why did you want to go half-elf?

When in doubt, take it easy. Better for the players to have a couple of too-easy fights in the beginning while you figure things out, than to kill the PCs before the game has truly gotten going.

You could try some PFS scenarios, most of those are easy to medium difficulty. Early seasons are written with a 4-player party in mind. Try out a few of those as an example of what Paizo thinks is a normal way to play the game.


There's two main concepts involved in the difficulty of the game.

Action Economy - how many actions are the PCs taking, vs. how many actions is the enemy taking. Three NPCs vs. a lot of NPCs means the NPCs are doing much more every turn, which could be dangerous. Conversely, a lot of PCs vs. a single boss means that either the boss has to be very strong, or he's just gonna get overrun.

You're in a good position here, because you have a small party. We all like the idea of a good boss fight, but most people play in a larger group than you do. And then the boss is so outnumbered, that he's probably going down too easily, and that's not satisfying to anyone.

So then you can do two things: make the boss stronger, or give him minions. A stronger boss will last longer, but it'll be frustrating. He's got a high chance of hurting PCs badly, and PCs have a hard time hurting him.

Minions are a better solution. If there's many PCs, give the boss many bodyguards. Those draw away some of the PCs' numerical advantage, making the fight more even, without making the boss himself to strong to face.

The other issue is the Adventuring Day. The basic idea in PF is that at some point in the adventure, you're going to be having a really exciting day. You're going into a dungeon, or storm a castle, or something like that. One day with multiple combats. For example, to reach the treasury, you'll have to fight (or sneak or magic) your way past several groups of guards. To rescue the princess you first need to kill the kobold guards protecting the entrance to the dragon's lair, then face the dragon himself. To kill the orc chieftain, first you have to deal with his army's scouts, then find a way to get to the middle of his army and kill him.

This is different from some of the other days. Some days you're travelling through the forest, and some bandits jump out. You deal with them, and that's the only fight that day.

Now, many classes have a limited amount of "resources" per day: spells prepared, HP, Smite Evil uses, Lay on Hands uses and so forth. Some classes can unload those really fast to do a lot of damage in a short time, but after that they're spent and can't achieve much the rest of the day. Basically, they need to dose it out carefully; not waste spells in the first fight that they don't really need to win, because they might need them to tip the balance in the second fight.

Pathfinder's game balance, especially between classes, is built on the idea that on the day that actually matters (when you go into the dungeon), you have multiple encounters, not just one big one. One big encounter favors some classes much more than others.

As a GM you should be paying attention to how much resources your players are using. Don't send in another hard encounter if they're already exhausted. However, don't let the players count on that too much. They shouldn't be able to say "well, this is encounter #4, so this is the last one and we can spend all our remaining resources now, because there's never a #5."

Honestly, the Guide to Organized Play is not a very beginner-friendly document. I'd been playing RPGs for over 15 years and PF for a few, and it gave me pause.

It's a good reference document if you know how things work but need to look up a detail, but it's not a good introduction.

It's a really weird feat. The person you call out can't just end the duel for a couple of rounds, which means... what?

I mean, UC spells out that duels usually have some rules. What happens if you're Called Out, then break those rules? For example, neither side is supposed to get outside help. What if the Feat-owner gets outside help? What if the callee gets help?

UC wrote:

A duel is a form of combat, but unlike ordinary combat, the participants must all agree to willingly enter the duel and abide by its rules. If either side breaks the rules, that side is considered the loser of the duel, regardless of any other outcome, and if its members continue aggressive action, the fight continues using the standard rules for combat.


The types of weapons that can be used in the duel are agreed upon before the duel begins. Typical restrictions include only using melee weapons, ranged weapons, unarmed (or natural) weapons, magic, or any combination of these. The rules of a duel may require all duel participants to use the same weapon or types of attacks. This is especially the case in duels that require swords, spells, or firearms. Absent any such rules, any type of weapon is permissible.

So if you're Called Out, do you get to have any input on these rules? Because then you could just specify some rule that you can quickly break, like this duel will only use rapiers, and then you proceed to attack with your axe. And so the duel ends. Or does the feat then magically turn your axe into a rapier?

Claxon makes a valid point regarding the rules. Although it does somewhat strain the suspension of disbelief.

In situations like this, I think it can be good if the party has an Understanding about how party wealth is going to be distributed. Basically, some people are at higher risk of injury and equipment damage, because they're on the front line, blocking monsters from reaching the squishy people.

Now, everyone's doing their part of course, but it's kinda fair that if the frontliner loses a lot of gear because he's protecting the clothies in the back, that everyone chip in to make things better again.

So for the people in the back, WBL may a somewhat smooth line, going up with occasional plateaus; and for the people in the front, it's a line with peaks and valleys, slowly zigzagging upwards.

I think one of the problems with random encounters is that there's three ideas getting conflated.

One idea is that outside the dungeon, you encounter some things that have nothing to do with your main plotline. They have no plot meaning whatsoever. In that, they are essentially "random". EDIT: of course they might be foreshadowing some later plot to come, or be intended to color in some of the game world. A good encounter tells a story, even if it's not part of the main story just yet.

The second idea is that you can't count on how many encounters you'll have. Some days will be quiet and no trouble. Others, you'll met a few bandits which you easily blast with magic. And another day there's like three heavily armed orc raiding bands, and you blew all your magic on the first band because you weren't expecting the others. So that's a very difficult day. For this purpose, it can help if the players know (or believe...) that the GM is using a random table, that they can't count on there being a balanced amount of encounters. On a typical adventuring, isn't the third encounter much more tense if you don't know if there's gonna be a fifth?

And the final idea is that sometimes a GM gets stuck in a rut. Random tables can be a way to stir up things. Sometimes all your creativity starts to look eerily similar, and some form of randomization can help you break the pattern. Random encounter tables are a way to do this; they probably work even better if you didn't make that table yourself.


Personally I've kinda stopped using random encounter tables. I generally decide that "oh, I kinda need another encounter this session. How about they run into X?". I found that most of the time I was fudging the dice rolls, and that's basically the sign they're not working for you.

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@YIDM: you're sorta right, but I think you may have stated your opinion perhaps a bit too strongly, which has given your GMs the wrong impression. That being, that you're trying to get more out of Detect Magic than it does. So they react by cutting you off completely.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but your original post sounds a bit confrontational to me. I agree with you on most of the rule-facts, but it leaves a bit of a bad taste.


Rules lawyering is an under-appreciated art.

A lot of rules lawyers would probably fare pretty poorly in an actual courtroom because they argue obviously flawed interpretations, stuff that's transparently not the intent of the rules. Stuff that sounds far-fetched, ridiculous, unfair, and clearly meant to benefit the lawyer.

Quite a few rules lawyers are different from this however; they're fair-minded, but perhaps not always in the most gracious manner. If someone is using the rules incorrectly, they feel that it's unjust and must speak out against it. However, they don't only do this for important stuff, but also for small stuff that doesn't really matter. And so they constantly interrupt the game and it's annoying.

The sad thing is, they mean well. I'm one of them. I try to pick my battles; if something's not actually important, I'll just leave it be. Maybe I'll mention it after the game. Sometimes I'll make sure I have all the pages handy so I can show it. Nobody likes it when you say "I don't think that's how it works" and then spend ten minutes looking it up. If you have the page handy and say "actually it works like this here", it's not as bad. Still, pick your battles.

And yeah, some stuff is really finicky, but still a bit worth it. If you don't have See Invisibility, then it may be worth it to do this Detect Magic tactic. You're not to come up with it. There have been threads about it.

The problem is that these rules are really quite ungainly. They're spread out all over the CRB, take a lot of referencing back and forth to really understand. I wouldn't want to try to explain this to the GM in the middle of combat, it's just too tricky for that. It'll grind the game to a halt in a bad way.


In my area, everyone knows I'm a rules lawyer. I'm not the only one. But they also know I'm trying to be the "good" kind. I'll also mention stuff that's to my disadvantage. If it turns out I was wrong about something I'll tell people. And I try not to argue too much. I try to pick out what really matters and prepare my case so it can be quick and painless.

And people do appreciate that. If a GM wants to know a rule, they turn to me and ask me, because it's quicker than looking it up.

(Sometimes I do have a bad day and I'm needlessly argumentative. I'm trying to be the Better Me.)


So in your situation, what I might have done would be:


"Okay, I'm gonna use Detect Magic. On this first round, I can see if there's any magic in this area. It doesn't let me see where it is, just if there's any magic. Even if it's around an invisible thing."


"Okay, now I'm concentrating for the third round on this area. I now get to see the location of every magic aura in it. That means that if there's an invisible creature, I'll know what square the aura of the invisibility spell is in. The creature's still invisible though, but now we have an idea where to go."

What I'm NOT doing, is flooding the GM with irrelevant rules trivia, like Detect Magic maybe working in darkness or while blind. I'd have to look that up separately and it's just not needed right now. I don't want to be in three separate rules discussions, I only want to talk about finding spell auras.

I'm stating clearly what the limits are. I don't want the GM to accidentally say "you see the creature standing there", because I'm not.

Now, even though people generally agree that I'm good with the rules, I might still get the "but it's a 0th level spell!" argument slung at me. I'll point out that See Invisibility really is better for various reasons, but that this is a poor man's solution.

And there's still a chance I won't get my way. Because this is just an awkward trick, even if it is fully legal. The RAW here is just complex and that might mean it won't work. If I can't convince the GM in one minute, I should just drop the issue for the duration of the session, so we can go on playing.

I like the idea of a lycanthropic archetype, but I don't think it should sacrifice the AC. The idea of a lycanthrope with his "wolf brother" fits just fine in my imagination.

For the ranger: I think it should come in place of combat style and favored enemies. It's basically a combat power for them and should take the place of a combat power.

For the druid: clearly it should come in place of wild shape.

For the hunter: it should probably replace animal focus and maybe spellcasting to some degree.

@Jolly: you mention several times how brutal the dual/double-barrel pistol thing is.

What are you talking about? What are you doing? Why is it so broken awesome?

The 2.5 PHB had an "example of play" piece that was like a 2-page transcript of a party exploring a piece of dungeon, complete with back and forth between players and DM.

I still feel that something like that, with a properly chosen scene (so that it sounds exciting!) and carefully selected mechanical talk (so it makes sense to the lay reader) is a good way to do it.

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