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Ascalaphus's page

FullStarFullStar Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden. 6,973 posts (7,013 including aliases). 86 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 10 Pathfinder Society characters. 1 alias.


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Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

ckdragons wrote:
1) To expand on the sub-tiers, is the eligible sub-tier is always based on average party level or each individual players? Is this the same with more than 4 players?

Selecting subtiers can be a bit confusing. The next Guide will probably be clearer, but here's a recipe for now:

Step 0: make sure everyone has a character or pregen character.

Step 1: compute the average level of all PCs in the party (including pregens). Round to the nearest whole number. If the average is at precisely .5, then let the players decide which way to round.

Step 2: if the number is clearly within the lower or higher subtier, play that subtier (with 4-player adjustment if you have 4 players). Otherwise, go to step 3.

Step 3: if the number is BETWEEN subtiers, we do different things depending on seasons.

Season 0-3 If there are less than 6 players in the party, play the low tier. If there are 6-7 players, play the high tier. If you have 6-7 players but none of them have a level in the high tier, they can choose to play the low tier instead.

Season 4+ If there are 4 players, play the low tier but without the 4-player adjustment. If there are 5-7 players, play the high tier with 4-player adjustment.

ckdragons wrote:
2) Am I required to distribute Chronicle Sheets to players at the end of each session, or only when there's boons or special items found in the adventure the player wants to purchase? (The session will be recorded online.)

Always, for the reasons BigNorseWolf pointed out. Also, players track gold gains and expenditures on them (important).

ckdragons wrote:
3) As a GM, I believe I can run any valid scenario any number of times, each time with a new group. Am I banned from playing in those scenarios as a player afterwards?

You can run them any number of times but credit only once. You can play it afterwards, but of course you're supposed not to spoiler things for the other players. So it's a good idea to tell the other players you've played this before, and will be a bit quiet when there's puzzles to be solved and such. That way, they know you're just being a nice guy, you're not mentally checking out or angry or uninterested or something. And that it's up to them to step up their game a bit when you fall silent.

ckdragons wrote:
4) Can I play in a scenario multiple times if it's with different characters each time?

Generally, no, but read up on GM stars in the Guide to Organized Play.

ckdragons wrote:
5) Can I run combat and track hit points from an Excel spreadsheet as a GM, instead of using a Combat Pad or writing out the initiatives on the battle mat? Using the spreadsheet is what I'm familiar with in my home games.

Yeah, as long as you don't change the rule elements of the scenario, do whatever helps you be efficient and organized.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

I think this is an interesting idea worth looking at. Some older scenarios really are stupid easy, including 1-5 scenarios. Like fights with NPCs that have +0 to hit and hit for 1d6 damage or such - those may look like CR 2 on paper, but really, they're not.

So quite often I already hear GMs and players murmuring about ways to at least make it interesting. And that doesn't always work out equally well; I think a canonical list of allowed "upgrades" would be useful.

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Well, interestingly enough paladin mounts don't automatically become LG. They behave like druid ACs except where otherwise specified. Druid ACs don't have any alignment information either. Then again, druid ACs tend to start in the Intelligence 1-2 spectrum.

Be careful with those Holy Words!

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I support your efforts to get some clarity and consistency in the rules here. I'm just not entirely sold that strict cubes are a perfect solution. I do like their simplicity, but sometimes the results are odd.

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Oxylepy wrote:

It's cubed. You can somewhat overshoot your cube and still be valid, but it is cubed.

(snip)

A titan stands 70ft tall, but also occupies the 30x30x30 space.

I think that this is overshooting it so much that the system breaks down. Titans are clearly used to standing up straight and proud. Imagine you're invading a titan's home. The ceilings are sure to be over 70ft high.

But apparently, flying at 70ft high, the titan can't reach you, because he's forced to crouch down into a 30ft cube.

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wraithstrike wrote:
The cube is actually the rule, but it is not actually written.

As far as I know, there simply isn't a rule for "gridding" height. That's why the Fly rules use a completely different movement cost system for flying upwards.

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I don't really like the idea of strict cubes. It would mean that a typical human (over 5' tall) is basically crouching in his cube. From a "visual" perspective, I'd be more at ease with taking the stated length of the monster/character and rounding up to the nearest five to get the cuboid dimensions.

However, strict cubes are considerably simpler to work with, so that's something to consider as well.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

robertness wrote:
The Athenaeum is located in a different city, specifically Egorian. It's unlikely the PCs could get their aid in time to help.

If the PCs allow themselves to be arrested and then pay 5PP to get out, you could describe that as Atheneum people doing a favor for the Society (in return for the Society not publicly shaming them for their forgery, perhaps).

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Tharizdhun wrote:
Hopefully Spinausaurus is one of those. I will be able to bring my 5th lvl Saurian shaman out of retirement then.

I wouldn't count on it. It's quite possibly the most powerful AC, and John suggested some ACs are intentionally banned for power reasons.

It seems that it's hard to get an AC that gets all the following from the start:
- high strength (and therefore to-hit and damage)
- multiple natural attacks
- good Dex
- good natural armor class
- good Con

Even most of the really good ACs don't manage more than 3 of those, but the spinosaurus gets all of them.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Well, as you can see in its statblock, it's actually got the reach of a 'tall' creature.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

It doesn't make sense to turn every creature into a cube, since some of them are described as being vastly taller or shorter than that. For example, a troll is Large and about 14 foot tall. That's quite cramped if you push him in to a 10ft cube. Or let's just consider your typical 6+ ft human barbarian. Are you gonna push him down into a 5ft cube?

However, cubes are the easiest way to do reach and movement.

So, consider instead the following: a creature may stand taller than it's wide; it's space doesn't have to be a perfect cube, a cuboid will do. A human could fit into a 5x5x10 cuboid. A troll in a 10x10x15 cuboid. A rat swarm only fills a 10x10x5 cuboid.

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Alia Blackburn wrote:
DM Beckett wrote:

I'm suspecting the original idea was a Tiefling Bladebound, Kensai, Spellblade Magus.

Yes actually, that's what he's doing. I got him to drop one of those, though at the top of my head I can't remember what it is.

Also, a lot of you are assuming the others don't even like combat. They do enjoy it, it's just not what they LOVE THE MOST ABOUT THE GAME.

The main thing I'm worried about is not the fact he is a power gamer (which is the term I should have used). It's that I fear I won't be able to cater to his and the other combat wants and needs at future levels. In order to make combat challenging for him a tougher monster would be needed, but this monster if the others tried to go against would die outright and might not even damage it. I don't want to make it so the other players don't even want to engage in combat knowing that there is only one player who can handle it.

I'm not talking a boss. I'm talking normal encounters.

I want to repeat. THE OTHER FOUR DO ENJOY COMBAT.

Well, now that we know what he'd like to play, we can come to more specific advice on what to do.

Obviously, to challenge a powergamer, you have to think carefully about the game system. If you really understand the character he's playing, you can come up with good challenges.

Magi are a powerful class, but with some weak spots.


  • Their biggest strength is the potential for going nova against a single enemy. Spending a lot of resources to do a LOT of damage. So if that super attack is aimed at a single bag of HP, he can take out a lot of HP. If there are three enemies with together just as much HP, he'll overkill the first and have to actually work for the second and third.

    While we're talking about single enemies: the are more reasons not to rely on them. If they get debuffed or taken out of action somehow, your enemy team is instantly lost. There's no second guy to keep on fighting until the duration of the debuff expires. Furthermore, one set of actions against the PCs' five sets of actions is very bad odds.

    Also, if this player is so awesome, count on him taking down an enemy every round. So you have to make sure you have enough enemies that the other players also have enemies to deal with at the same time, that the powergamer hasn't gotten to yet.

  • Magi get a lot of their power by expending daily resources. The crafty magus uses buff spells. They tend to last a whole fight, so they're an asset even against multiple enemies. We're talking Shield and Mirror Image for example.

    So you can make this harder for him by doing what the CRB actually assumes is normal practice: multiple encounters per day. So that there's time for buffs to run down.

  • Magi are good at melee full attacks. If enemies deploy with a bit more distance in between and don't come to him, he'll lose out a bit. Make sure a significant chunk of your monsters have a ranged combat plan.

  • Consider what is important: for every player to feel like he did something valuable in combat, or for the players to feel like everyone contributed equally?

    The latter is harder to achieve. But you can make everyone feel valuable by deploying multiple enemies, or having multiple things that need doing at the same time. While the powergamer is chopping down the main horde of enemies, the other players are making sure he doesn't get surrounded, taking out pesky archers, freeing prisoners, defusing bombs and whatnot.

    Make it so the whole party is needed in combat, by making the combat harder, not the bosses.

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It says it's normally part of movement, not move action.

And you're not stealthing during a full attack, but after it.

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Matt2VK wrote:

The real problem is this line -

Action: Usually none. Normally, you make a Stealth check as part of movement, so it doesn't take a separate action. However, using Stealth immediately after a ranged attack (see Sniping, above) is a move action.

in the pathfinder rules on stealth.
So reading that, if using Greater Invis, you can make a Stealth check after full attacking.

Then there's this line -
You can move up to half your normal speed and use Stealth at no penalty. When moving at a speed greater than half but less than your normal speed, you take a -5 penalty. It's impossible to use Stealth while attacking, running, or charging.

Which clearly gives rules for using Stealth while you take a move action to move. Just nothing for the 5' step.

I don't see the problem. A 5ft step is movement, so you can stealth. Since

1) you can only take 5ft steps if your normal speed is bigger than 5 and
2) pretty much everything that modifies speed rounds to increments of 5;

a creature taking a 5ft step is almost certainly not moving more than half its speed, so no fast stealth penalty.

Sovereign Court

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There are a bunch of things named here and there in this thread that I absolutely wouldn't do. I don't think they'll work out well, and in fact I think they're close to being foul play.


  • Telling the players they're all playing by the same rules, but reducing one guy's damage secretly. That's dishonest at best. If anyone finds out you'll lose the trust of your players. And if you do it to a degree where it actually equalizes unequal PCs, they will notice.

    Telling people they're all playing by the same rules and then not doing that, I would say is basically cheating. Yes, the GM can cheat, if he breaks the rules he himself pronounced.

  • Adding all kinds of complications to combat intended to tackle the min/maxer.

    If they're indiscriminate problems, he'll probably be better at dealing with them, so you only increase issues. Like difficult terrain: someone who understands the rules will be able to work around it better than someone who doesn't.

    If they're targeted at his build, he's gonna feel singled out. Because that's what you're doing. That's fine if there's an open agreement that because he's better than the rest, you're giving him a hard time. But if you tell everyone that you're fair and impartial, and then start targeting one player, that's gonna look like foul play.

Instead, try to go for a more constructive and open approach. Think about what kind of game you want to run. Discuss it with everyone. If everyone (else) is happy with your ideas, ask the min/maxer if he wants to play in that campaign.

If the game you want to run doesn't appeal to him, then he's just not gonna be part of this campaign. Which doesn't reflect badly on him; bowing out of a game that's not your taste is the mature thing to do.

If he does, he's welcome, but he has to act in the spirit of the game when building his character. If you're running a horror/mental game, that means not making a character that's completely insulated against any kind of mindf@~+ing.

Now, when setting out what kind of game to run, it's useful not to do this too unilaterally. Give your outline, then get feedback from players. Maybe they'd like some different emphases, or some additions that you hadn't thought of. If they like some things, see if you can fit in more of that.

If the min/maxer joins in, fit in a bit more combat. Get him talking with the rest of the players about what sort of combats he likes, and what sort of combats they like; which ones do they agree were awesome?

I think combat can serve multiple tastes at the same time. If you come up with good reasons why there is combat, and what the stakes are for the players, your story-driven players will be more interested. A combat with clear Why-issues will also open up alternate "win conditions" for the combat, which you can use to engage your min/maxer. If it's clear that to "win" this combat, it's important to kill all enemies, but that the hostage has to survive, he'll be much more challenged. If the goal of the combat is complex, it'll often require multiple PCs acting at the same time to pull off. For example, someone distracting the enemy while another closes in on the hostage. Thus, you have a combat that the min/maxer can't just solo with superior stats, because he just can't be everywhere at once. Everyone gets to feel valuable; the other players for achieving the story aims of the combat, and the min/maxer because he gets to be the party's "big gun" that they use to smite the wicked.

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Wish wrote:

School universal; Level sorcerer/wizard 9

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S, M (diamond worth 25,000 gp)

Range see text

Target, Effect, Area see text

Duration see text

Saving Throw none, see text; Spell Resistance yes

(...)


  • Duplicate any sorcerer/wizard spell of 8th level or lower, provided the spell does not belong to one of your opposition schools.
  • Duplicate any non-sorcerer/wizard spell of 7th level or lower, provided the spell does not belong to one of your opposition schools.
  • Duplicate any sorcerer/wizard spell of 7th level or lower, even if it belongs to one of your opposition schools.
  • Duplicate any non-sorcerer/wizard spell of 6th level or lower, even if it belongs to one of your opposition schools.

(...)

Duplicated spells allow saves and spell resistance as normal (but save DCs are for 9th-level spells).

So it says "See Text" for a lot of things, but those things aren't explicitly called out in the text. It seems reasonable to assume that you fill them in depending on the spell you're duplicating; if you're duplicating a fireball you use the fireball area parameter, if you're using dominate person you use the dominate person targets etcetera.

Casting time however does not have a "See Text" answer; it has a single answer every time.

Sovereign Court

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"Hey, I do more damage than the other guys, but for some reason the monster I attack always turns out to the one with more HP than the others. What's up with that? Are you playing favourites here?"

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

I think Take 10 is best used when the skill check in question is basically a side show, or something repetitive. If it's the main event, then Take 10 is just a bit dull.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Nick Wasko wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
Post-Mortem Analysis
Thanks a lot for this extremely thorough breakdown of the scenario. Analyses like this are indescribably valuable for authors hoping to refine their subsequent adventures, both by embracing what went well and rethinking what fell flat. I assure you that I will look back on these comments when writing scenarios in the future.

Well, like I said, I really enjoyed the scenario :)

Nick Wasko wrote:
Impressing the supervisors wasn't intended to be a discrete goal. I originally included it as a way for roleplayers to improve their odds of successfully gathering information. That being said, in hindsight I like the idea of making the act of buttering up the supervisors function as its own goal or success condition, and I'll keep that in mind moving forward.

Well, on the other hand, I was very focused on just the day to day activities at the barracks and figuring out how a Shoanti warrior with little formal battle training fits in among the Thuvian rank and file. I liked the setup where there wasn't a short rigid list of skills you must have, but rather encouraging you to push forward something you have that makes sense.

Nick Wasko wrote:
I'm glad Monkhound showed you the map ahead of time. It's not something that crossed my mind while writing the scenario, but it makes perfect sense for a party that does well when gathering information about the route. I'd encourage other GMs to provide the encounter map to PCs who do well in Area A, Day 3.

Yeah, a proper heist usually involves a scene where the protagonists look over blueprints.

Nick Wasko wrote:
Your suggestions about the secondary success condition are superb. I was so focused on the elixir and the Aspis camp that it never occurred to me to reward PCs for schmoozing with middle management, sparing the guards, making a clean getaway, etc. I'll definitely consider that when designing success conditions in the future.

I think I got my first taste of "3/5" secondary conditions with The Confirmation. I think a lot of players enjoy hearing the GM enumerate things they could have achieved, and hopefully nodding along with a lot of them as "yeah, nailed that".

Nick Wasko wrote:
The oasis encounter is a bit disjointed from the main narrative, but it fits the demands of the metaplot and it throws a bone to combat-focused characters who would prefer a straightforward beat-down over a subtle, skill-heavy heist. I used an investigator because I thought it was thematically appropriate for a spy preparing her own heist. By the time I realized investigators make terrible boss enemies, it was too late to change it. Thanks for pointing out that burning documents is inconsistent and cliche; I'll try to use a different mechanic in the future (and if I need to use this one again, I'll definitely consider how create water would impact the situation).

I play an investigator in PFS and the class is a bit strange. It's a great PC class, with lots of things to do in a game. But from the outside, if used as an NPC, you see the GM being very confused and then spitting out some numbers that are the result of a bunch of buffs.

I do appreciate the tactic of blue whinnis arrows with True Strike. That's a proper scare.

On the whole, I think all the encounter needs is just a bit of RP lead-up. The Aspis see the PCs approach, there's a bit of talk between them and the PCs, and once it becomes clear to the Aspis that the PCs don't know the password, they move to torch the evidence. Now it just seemed just a bit at random ("you burn down your bookkeeping every time strangers come close?"), but the general idea makes sense.

And yeah, I appreciate its metaplot uses, and I also enjoyed just having a "normal" fight. Although for me the canyon fight was great as well; I got to do a lot of shield slamming people into walls.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

andreww wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
As a GM, I would feel comfortable with letting the PCs arrange a Raise Dead spell at short notice, and with "roaming charges". I think the Guide backs me in allowing it;

I am pretty much of the same view, the extra 5pp is a significant enough cost on its own. After all, we allow body recoveries from other planes for 5pp (I once had a player in Emerald Spire need two of those in one session) so popping over to the Worldwound shouldn't be an issue.

I wouldn't allow it to be immediate, it may take a few hours or a day or two depending on the circumstances. The PC is certainly out of the encounter but if time isn't a big issue they should be able to get back into the scenario if they are willing to pay the extra cost.

It gets a bit hairy if there's a real time pressure in the scenario (which isn't unheard of); if one encounter is just a chase scene away from the other there might not be any help for it. But often enough something'll be possible

- While adventures in cities tend to be fast-paced, temples are also closer by.
- Monsters that have been lurking for hundreds of years in a forgotten crypt are often willing to stay there a day longer.

Getting a PC raised will probably hazard the duration of active buffs, but the OOC goal of getting the player back in the game is worth a lot to me.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

N N 959 wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
stuff....

PFS is set up to track expenditure of resources, that's it. It is not setup to track your a character's stats. It is virtually impossible if not actually impossible to reconstruct the actual character from Chronicles and ITS sheets. Unless someone is following my character around from GM to GM, there is absolutely no way to tell what feats, class, skill points, attributes, or any other stat other than gold and prestige expenditure from scenario to scenario.

Yet...that is not a strike against reusing the same character. Why? The honor system. And the resource tracking is hardly fool proof against cheating. In fact, it's not designed to catch determined cheaters. GMs do not record character consumable use, the player does.

PFS management has no qualms with allowing things that aren't tracked or things that are believed to be accurate by virtue of the players being honest. Nor does the PFS Guide make any admonishments on allowing things that aren't trackable or provable.

The strike against previous encounter knowledge doesn't exist in spirit or letter in any official PFS document outside of the inference people have drawn regarding a 2014 boon.

Quote:
The fact that what you specifically learned about monsters doesn't figure in this list, is a strike...
This is technically incorrect. The Knowledge check represents what your character has "learned." The game does not attempt to manage or prohibit the player from remembering what that character has fought.

You track just about anything that has mechanical effect that carries over from one scenario to the next. What you know about monsters fits that category quite well.

I don't really like it, but outside the GM initialing your journal of what happened during the adventure, I don't think organized play supports carrying over monster lore that well.

N N 959 wrote:

Let me ask you point blank:

You're GMing an Adventure Path. The party kills a troll in Chapter 4 and figures out that they need to use fire to keep it from regenerating. In Chapter 6, the party is told by an NPC that a troll guards a mountain pass. The party does not bother to make a knowledge check and proceeds to use fire against the troll. Do you prohibit those actions?

Apples and oranges. If I'm GMing an AP in a home game, the whole "fresh start for the next GM" part of PFS doesn't apply. Of course I let people remember that in an AP home game.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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I played with Quentin under Monkhound. I was the Slayer 4 (Shoanti Thunder & Fang build); basically the even-tempered assault vehicle of the group. I'm gonna go into an AAR first, and then I wanna do some analysis on the adventure. This scenario was a big success for us and we should study it closely.

It was very refreshing to play with a party that was almost all rogues & slayers. The medium did a little bit of casting but it's been long since I've seen so little casters in an adventure. We did all have a lot of skills, the lowest Stealth was a 5 and everyone knew how to fight and work as a team. So that was pretty good for a heist!

The Briefing
Okay, we get the mission parameters. Figure out security risks by running a heist. How? Well, part of the security analysis is finding out how hard it is to do legwork on the transport's security. So we went to Pashow with very little information. We did have a lot of suspicions. Since we're supposedly the only ones that know this isn't the real transport, maybe we'll run into real robbers. Maybe someone is after Ziralia somehow, or the Emir, in some political game. Also, let's not forget about the risk that the caravan guards go ballistic on us (not knowing we're not real robbers). Ah, we're asked not to molest them too much. Has everyone got a nonlethal weapon he's happy with? Yes? Okay, to Pashow!

Legwork in Pashow
Monkhound told us that at each location, different things will happen every day. Therefore, you have to split up to have a chance to learn everything. And since we don't know anything yet, clearly we need to learn a lot more. So that's what we do. People split up according to their expectation of what's needed at each location. The medium channels an engineer, and I go to enjoy noontime combat training.

We did this for the three days we had, each day dividing up according to what was on the programme for that day and whose skills seemed to match that. We got a steady trickle of information and a few setbacks that we managed to cope with. A picture was starting to emerge about what we might be facing.

The ease with which we were able to infiltrate these workplaces was a bit surprising. On the other hand, I don't think we realized that there was a separate chance each day to impress the supervisor, and one to learn information. I was focusing on the information and missed some chances to impress. Because we were tailoring our PC allocation to the locations' activities and likely required skills, we didn't reuse many skills.

After we'd gotten our information, we were still not a 100% clear on how to pull of the heist. We had some fragments of plan though, and went to see Ziralia. We didn't need any patching up, got some useful items and gold to spend, and at this point we got access to the map for the heist; with that, we got to planning our purchases.

Heist!
Looking at the canyon, it was clear what we needed: feather token trees. Lure away the guards, use the feather tokens to block the canyon and prevent their return. Some potions of invisibility and pass without trace would help our escape.

Since we'd done pretty well during the last day, we'd get a surprise round and start anywhere on the map. Since several of us had been infiltrating the barracks under the guise of joining up as guards, I guess we were just part of the caravan guards that stayed to defend it while others went after the bogus signalling :P

A short fight followed, but if you let a bunch of rogues position themselves anywhere they want at the start of combat AND give them a surprise round, the outcome is predictable. Sadly, one of the mages got off a Dancing Lights, but we had that tree to buy us some extra time and our getaway gear.

After some fiddling with the locks one of our rogues stepped in and triggered the trap. Looking at the map now, I really don't understand how you're supposed to get to the switches without triggering the trap. Those trap statblocks look like something went wrong with editing, too. Anyway, the trap did some damage, and passed.

We walk around the room and open the secret door, then gaze at the alter. Toss a tanglefoot bag at it and it fails its save, so it's rooted to the spot. We'd already heard about the "real dummy elixir" and an invisible rogue went in and took it out of the cabinet. So far so good; altar didn't spot him. Then our medium went in and put some lemonade potions back in the hidden cabinet, and triggered the altar. He got smacked a bit but managed to Acrobatics out of the room and the altar didn't get unstuck fast enough, so we beat it out of there.

Getting Back
We drink up our Pass Without Trace and get back to Ziralia. Meanwhile, all the guards really know is that someone beat them up and opened up the transport; but the elixir is "still there" (lemonade). Ziralia tells us some other people have been snooping around, so check that out please. Okay ma'am.

Oasis
We get sneak up on their oasis until we get too close to avoid notice, and they immediately turn hostile and start burning stuff down. Now there's an iron rule in PFS: if you notice something on fire, you try to put it out or at least rescue the contents. 9/10 times it'll be your secondary success condition.

Monkhound seemed to be having a lot of trouble with the bad guys' statblocks, but they didn't really do anything very special; they mostly got surrounded and beat up much.

---

Post-Mortem Analysis
Overall
This was a great adventure. It managed to put a lot in a single gaming slot (we went a little over 5 hours). What I really like is that the heist "rules" (more like scenario writing guidelines, really) help both the GM and players achieve more. They help to chop up the big problem of attacking a convoy with dozens of guards and mages - something most player won't know how to handle - into smaller challenges that can be dealt with.

Legwork
I also liked the "limited failure" aspect of the legwork phase. I remember from playing Shadowrun that "the enemy" was often so scary that players would be scared into paralysis of letting even a little thing slip, because a single mistake could be lethal. But in this case, a lot more than one thing needs to go wrong to ruin the mission. That'll help encourage players to above all just try little things, instead of going rabbit in your headlights at the big main challenge.

What could've been better in the legwork phase is making clear what the challenges are. This is mostly up to the GM, and open to preference. But in our case, it wasn't clear that every day there were two challenges: impress the superviser and gathering information. I think a GM should carefully lift the curtain a little bit on the fact that there are two challenges, and then let the players figure out to tackle them based on RP/what they can figure out from descriptions.

What did work very well was having different themes every day. Especially if you have a party with looooots of skills. That easily avoids penalties for overusing one of them. I do think that if a player starts running into penalties for overuse of a skill, the GM should make that clear when it happens; otherwise a player will think "hey, this is hard, I'd better just stick to my best skills only".

Heist
I think it's neat that you can actually fail to get into the transport; you can fail the main mission without it being a TPK. It's not super likely but it's good that there's a risk of failure.

What mattered a lot for our heist was that we got to see the map before shopping. I'm not sure the scenario supports that entirely - I think it should. Planning an attack with no idea of the terrain doesn't make much sense.

What quite disappointed me though was the secondary success condition. Why was there no "three out of five" bit, where you get graded on how neatly you handled the ambush? After being asked not to butcher the caravan guards during the mission briefing (after all, we're hoping to reuse them on the real transport) we were expecting that to actualy count for something. Not even a dog or altar went into negatives due to lethal damage in our case. (We even captured all the Aspis. We're the nicest hobos you could wish for.) Likewise, I was expecting some extra credit for substituting the elixirs with our own dummy, or for making a particularly good getaway. Or the amount of information obtained/complications avoided during legwork.

Oasis
As for the Aspis at the Oasis: I'm not sure the Investigator is a good class to use for NPCs. It's relatively poorly known (only people who play them really understand them), it has a lot of moving parts, and I don't really see a lot of added value. And if you're gonna use an investigator, you should give them Quick Study as soon as possible, otherwise it's a joke.

Burning stuff in scenarios is annoying me. Every time they use different mechanics. And it seems every time nobody expects the PCs to use Create Water. If you're putting in burning stuff as a plot element, you need to say what Create Water will (or won't) accomplish.

I suspect this encounter is relevant for the PFS metaplot, but it did indeed feel a bit tacked on. I did enjoy it though; after all the keeping your head low during the heist, it's also nice to go in with the heathen hammer held high. A nice simple fight. And I could use a third encounter so I could tick off a box on my faction card.

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It helps a lot to really learn the cover rules. It's doable enough to get in attacks on your turn from the second line without cover using Longarm, but it'll be harder to earn AoOs on enemies that way (when it's them trying to move smart, instead of you).

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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N N 959 wrote:
Lau's argument is that there is no system for the GM to verify what you've previously encountered, therefore we shouldn't allow it. But that argument fails because there is no system for recording the class, feats, etc that your character previously played under. The character sheet is for playing the current game, it is not a system for verifying what the character was in any previous game.

It's true that you're not required to have a copy of each character sheet used during any given session, but you do log a lot of that information.


  • By noting your gold changes on chronicle sheets and using the ITS, you should be able to reconstruct your financial history with reasonable detail.
  • Any retraining you do has to be witnessed and initialed by a GM, so you should in fact be able to reconstruct that you reached your current class/level/feat situation in a legal way.

    Either it's clear that you took each feat only after qualifying for it, or you took something and later retrained that to your current selection after qualifying. You can show that how you got to the current situation is legal.

PFS clearly logs a lot of "historical" data about what happened to your character:


  • Chronicles list your acquisition of gold and prestige.
  • Any conditions that you haven't cleared by the end of the adventure must be recorded on the chronicle sheet.
  • Most conditions need to be cleared, except for ones that may not be clearable in the time of a normal scenario (multiple negative levels) or that the next GM can ignore (no mechanical effect).
  • Any significant change to equipment must be tracked on the ITS.
  • Any changes to your character not covered by the normal level-up process (such as retraining) must be noted by the GM on the chronicle sheet.
  • Any gear found but not recorded/bought at the end of the session disappears.

The fact that what you specifically learned about monsters doesn't figure in this list, is a strike against that knowledge carrying over.

---

Now, I'm not saying the current system is good or even clear. But I do think that given all the things that are recorded, it's likely that anything not recorded becomes unavailable again.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

As a GM, I would feel comfortable with letting the PCs arrange a Raise Dead spell at short notice, and with "roaming charges". I think the Guide backs me in allowing it;

Guide to Organized Play 7, page 31 wrote:
If a character dies and is brought back to life, the GM must determine the rewards for that character. The minimum possible reward is 0 gp, 1 XP and 1 PP on the medium advancement track or 0 gp 1/2 XP, and 1/2 Prestige Point on the slow advancement track. If a character participates in more than 2/3 of the module, she should receive the full rewards. GMs and active players are encouraged to hasten the return of any characters waiting to be raised from the dead.

The 5PP roaming charge isn't enough to get NPCs to do the adventure for you; they're probably not willing to get that close to the dungeon. But you should be able to meet them at a few hours riding distance.

Clearly this quote isn't an absolute rule saying that PCs have a right to this under all circumstances. But it gives the GM leeway to let it happen if a passable explanation can be thought up.

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I'm working on a new build and was wondering is a swordbreaker dagger is sufficiently like a dagger to benefit from things that enhance daggers. Specifically:

Deific Obedience (Pharasma) wrote:
Collect small bones whenever it is convenient and respectful to do so. When it comes time to perform your obedience, lay out the bones in a spiral. At one end of the spiral lay a slip of parchment on which you have written the name of someone newly born. At the other end of the spiral, lay a slip of parchment on which you have written the name of someone newly deceased. Chant hymns from The Bones Land in a Spiral while proceeding solemnly around the spiral, trailing a black scarf on the ground behind you. Gain a +2 profane or sacred bonus on attack rolls made with daggers. The type of bonus depends on your alignment—if you’re neither good nor evil, you must choose either sacred or profane the first time you perform your obedience, and this choice can’t be changed.
River Rat trait wrote:


You learned to swim right after you learned to walk. When you were a youth, a gang of river pirates put you to work swimming in nighttime rivers and canals with a dagger between your teeth so you could sever the anchor ropes of merchant vessels. You gain a +1 trait bonus on damage rolls with a dagger and a +1 trait bonus on Swim checks. Swim is always a class skill for you.

So does the swordbreaker dagger qualify?

Swordbreaker Dagger wrote:
You can use this dagger to disarm or sunder enemy blades by catching them in the grooves on the back of the blade and using your weapon as a lever. If you are proficient with this weapon, add a +4 bonus on combat maneuver checks to disarm or sunder bladed weapons while using it.

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Natural 1s wrote:
If you plan to drink longarm and use meatshield buddy, do not forget to invest in phalanx formation.

No, that's wrong. Phalanx Formation only applies to reach weapons, not natural reach (such as Longarm).

Phalanx Formation wrote:
Benefit: When you wield a reach weapon with which you are proficient, allies don't provide soft cover to opponents you attack with reach.

The only reach weapon investigators are proficient in is the longspear.

Sovereign Court

Orator allows linguistics on diplomacy to improve attitude, but not the other uses of diplomacy: gather info (fine, use Local) and making requests (quite important).

In PFS scenarios it's not always explicit which way Diplomacy is being used, but often enough it resembles a request, so Orator shouldn't apply.

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If it helps, try to think of it as "you get a punishment for each hand you have that you don't use" - that's not the same as saying you have to have hands.

Sovereign Court

My first thought was Wraith as well, but it might be interesting to play this in a not-so-gloomy setting. Pathfinder does do well on making players feel empowered.

You could use the polymorph mechanics as an example of how to dampen (but not completely eliminate) the effects of controlling odd bodies.

Sovereign Court

I'm intrigued by the idea of robot-wrangling, but I don't like the idea of "reality hacks". That blurs the line between magic and technology too much for my taste. I like them as separate things.

I think I'd rather work off a hunter/investigator or hunter/alchemist combination instead; chemicals & circuitry.

Sovereign Court

Shouldn't the things that happen to a character influence what feats/skills/classes he takes next? A character that gets hit with mind-affecting crap more than normal might want to take up Iron Will training, and the unlucky dude that's always getting grappled will start learning Escape Artist.

If you force everyone to use the same build, aren't you basically preventing character development from having an effect on the mechanics - and thereby also limiting what character development is actually possible?

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Yeah, those barbarian ambushers are a significant cut above the others in terms of deadliness.

Sovereign Court

I looks like the description is "broken", as in bugged. GM intervention or FAQ required to clear it up.

I could see two rulings I might make:

1) The effect stops if you leave the aura. The mummy's tactics should be to surprise people and box them in so they can't easily leave.

2) Mimicking mechanics from Stinking Cloud, you shake the effect after 1d4+1 rounds spent outside. If you re-enter before that the countdown pauses/resets.

Sovereign Court

Maybe I'll use my last tiefling GM credit blob to become a magus after all. I was looking for something, anything, different than a shocking grasp build. This looks hefty enough to be a worthy alternative.

Sovereign Court

I'm not sold on Studied Strike personally. I tend to shapeshift into forms with multiple natural attacks and reach, so I don't really want to lose the benefits of Studied Combat even after my turn. And enemies almost never last long enough that I need to renew the Studied Combat due to running out of turns. 2 turn is usually sufficient.

Rapier or sickle is honestly not such a major difference, because your studied combat damage doesn't crit along. Me, I use 2H strength and power attack with a longspear, and then the x3 critical becomes glorious.

I don't place such a high value on inspiration either - it's nice from time to time, but it pales in comparison to alchemy, studied combat and mutagen. I think it's only worthwhile investing a lot in with the half-elf FCB.

Don't let anyone tell you that Infusion is a must-take. As buffing other people goes, clerics and bards are leagues ahead of you anyway, and you need those buffs for yourself. Only if you start finding that you're not using all your spell slots anyway should you think about taking Infusion. At some point it's a good one to take, but certainly not mandatory. I'm much happier with Sickening Offensive and might take Sapping Offensive next.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

I'm quite curious how people who have long careers with low Con manage to do that. Especially the ones boasting about being frontline. If there's some tactical art I don't know yet, I'd like to learn it.

Sovereign Court

golfdeltafoxtrot wrote:

Thanks Ascalaphus.

A lot of stuff I've heard about investigator combat ability is based around the swashbuckler dip and then when studied combat comes on line later. How do Dex-based investigators compare in the early levels without those things?

I expect it'll be awkward. If you bump up your dexterity you'll have acceptable to-hit, but your damage will be uninteresting. And since you don't have feats to spare, you can't make up the difference with maneuvers.

One of the big advantages of the Strength-based investigators is that they start out strong from level 1 and don't slow down. Dex-based takes longer to get going. The bottleneck is in fact the BAB +1 requirement on Weapon Focus; that's stopping you from taking it at level 1 as a human's extra feat.

There's something you can do that'll make the early levels bearable, although it comes at a price. Go human, start at level 1 with Weapon Finesse and Dirty Fighting and use flanking or Longarm to maneuver safely. At level 3, retrain Dirty Fighting to Weapon Focus and take Slashing Grace. Take the mutagen investigator talent. At level 5, take Quick Study. At this point you could use your L5 feat to take Dirty Fighting again of course. It's a bit wasteful of the 5 prestige for retraining, but you'll have a decent set of things to do at every level, and that's worth something as well.

golfdeltafoxtrot wrote:
Good points about the stats. I'm a terrible sucker for spreading my stat points about, so maybe I'll move things around to shore up my Con.

While doing that, I'd aim for increasing Dex and Con, leaving Int at 16 or so. While it's your casting stat, you're also on a 6-level spell plan and your best spells are 10-minute-level buffs, so 16 Int is easily sufficient. While on a Dex to damage build, every point of Dex counts. And given that investigators are better at melee than ranged, you can't ignore Con.

golfdeltafoxtrot wrote:
Combat maneuvers sometimes suck, so maybe I'll stick with slashing stuff with my sickle. If so, that would mean trading Imp. Init. for WF (sickle), then Slashing Grace at 3rd?

As I said, it requires retraining to actually get Slashing Grace at level 3, due to the BAB requirement on WF.

I do approve of your choice of sickle though. It's a light weapon that can be used to cut your way out of a monster's belly if you ever get swallowed, and DR/slashing is super annoying for longspear/rapier investigators.

You may also want to pick up a cestus; it does a good job as an always-equipped bludgeoning weapon.

golfdeltafoxtrot wrote:


Quick Study is definitely high on my list of must-have talents.

Another one to recommend is Combine Extracts. I've found that in a typical serious fight you don't want to spend too many rounds buffing, and you tend to have several minute/level buffs competing for first round. In particular, Longarm and Shield will be important to you. You want to start controlling more area as soon as possible, and get your defenses going as fast as possible. This allows you to do both in one round.

Sovereign Court

claudekennilol wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
I'm skeptical about maneuvers as almost any class - CMD scales up very fast on enemies.
This is off-topic but I have a steelblooded bloodrager1/maneuver master monk 7/lore matter fighter 3 that I would like to introduce you to.

You're making my point for me - you have to dedicate your class choice to maneuvers to make them work against all foes.

I certainly indulge in maneuvers on occasion, like using a longspear's reach to trip/disarm/sunder, or just grappling wizards. But it's a secondary strategy, while the main plan is brutal violence. (I play a Strength-based investigator.)

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

N N 959 wrote:
Can you provide a quote from the PFS Guide or a FAQ that supports your assertion? I would actually argue to the contrary as 1) all boons are useable in subsequent scenarios, and 2) the Faction Journal Card is based on a continuity of character actions. In other words, things I did in a previous scenario can absolutely affect me in a current scenario.

These things you list are precisely things that you can and do record on paper. On a chronicle sheet or faction journal. There's a format for recording these things.

Not so for knowledge/monster event results. The GM running the next scenario can't look at your chronicle sheets and see what you learned about monsters.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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Nomadical wrote:
So... It's been about a year and a half since this boon came out. Am I correct that there have been no follow-up boons that key off of it?

Spoiler:
You should take a long hard look at the season 7 scenarios; look at the front pictures, read the blurbs.
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Let's start by stating that investigators can be primary combatants without making any major compromises to their role as skill monkeys. Their class abilities are quite suited to that.

Second, you don't wanna dump, but I see a lot of 13s on your stats - are those needed for anything? An empiricist doesn't normally need a Wis 13. You're only using it for Will saves and that's a strong save, so a 10 should suffice. If you're aiming at Slashing Grace, you wouldn't need Str 12 so much. You'll be using strength mostly for calculating encumbrance. But really, you want a Handy Haversack soon anyway to deal with that. Meanwhile, you may wish to shore up Con to 14, HP are nice and you don't have a strong Fort save progression. Altogether - you don't need to dump, but don't spread yourself too thin either.

I'm skeptical about maneuvers as almost any class - CMD scales up very fast on enemies. If I were you I'd concentrate on regular attacks. Which profit from all the buffing you can do with alchemy, the mutagen discovery and studied combat.

Studied combat is important. Make a note to get Quick Study as soon as you can. It's amazingly good.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

CorvusMask wrote:

Prisoners didn't actually need healing though, they are at max health before trap is activated IIRC. Good thinking though

Anyway, I did find chamber of chains bit confusing when running this. Like, I had image of it being essentially wire trap room, but there wasn't any mention of players having to be careful while moving there.

Also, I'm now wondering if it would have been possible to safely remove prisoners without disabling the trap first... I don't remember if text actually said you can't do that .-.

You can remove them without disabling the trap, with Escape Artist.

Sovereign Court

If you take Fencing Grace "the hard way", that means you also have real Weapon Finesse, not the "rapiers only" variant.

That becomes nice in case you want to occasionally use Monstrous Physique to turn into a monster with lots of natural attacks like a Charda, or when you've been swallowed whole and need to cut your way out with a light weapon.

Since Barkskin is on your spell list, you have a lot of freedom on what to put in your neck slots. Good options are Swarmbane Clasp, Talisman of Life's Breath and the Agile Amulet of Mighty Fists.

Sovereign Court

Captain Battletoad wrote:
Well, James Jacobs actually told me that it's a terrible idea (http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2l7ns&page=1235?Ask-James-Jacobs-ALL-your- Questions-Here#61722) so I think I'm just going to pick any random module to learn how to DM and then roll Strange Aeons normally. Thanks for the input!

Huh. So apparently the AP plot already includes amnesia.

I should've guessed :P

Sovereign Court

You get only what the particular spell that you're using (Monstrous Physique) and in all other cases the Polymorph school says you get.

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Gisher wrote:
BadBird wrote:
I don't know what your overall concept is, but if going Agile, an Agile elven curved blade is by far the most powerful dex-to-damage option due to two-handed Power Attack and better weapon dice. It does mean needing two hands though.
The Estoc is awfully close when it comes to damage, being only 0.5 points behind on average. In exchange for that loss you get the ability to wield it one handed or two handed as needed. But neither weapon can have the Inspired special ability.

Though DR/Slashing is actually somewhat frequent (zombies, various plants), so that's a point in favor of the curve blade.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

gloine36 wrote:

Well, that settles it. I won't be GMing Society. I am watching one Society flail about for players right now because of the problems associated with class imbalance. I will stick to my homebrew campaign and have fun instead of fight with people.

Let me just talk about two things here;

1) The "you have to allow it" thing may sound annoying at first, but it's there for a good reason. PFS aims to be a global campaign. That means everyone plays by the same rules, and if what you do is legal in one place, you can be sure it'll also be legal elsewhere. So you can go on holiday and slide up to a table in a different country, and play with no problem.

So there's a filter to make sure not everything gets in, but once stuff gets in, people can be assured that if something is allowed, it really is allowed and they can count on it when making characters.

2) In my experience, class imbalance isn't so bad in PFS. It's a matter of perspective though. In the core rulebook some classes are really strong, some are really weak, and most are in the sweet middle ground. Most of the newer classes are also in the sweet middle ground. So if you take this middle ground as a measuring stick, class balance is generally OK. It's just a few classes that are "hard mode".

If instead you take those weak classes as the measuring stick, suddenly 85% of the game seems OP. But that's clearly a sign that the point you're measuring from isn't really the middle, don't you agree?

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

In general I go with what the Chronicle sheet says; that's the only way to make sense of newer things like True Dragons or Serpents Rise.

Sovereign Court

What I'm getting at: Carrion Hill could be entirely prequel. Totally happening before the AP as such. In the past your hero went down this path down to level 5; but after his mind was wiped in the asylum, this time he might do something else entirely.

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