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I like Spook;s idea a lot. Except I would totally user the spider climb shoes. Drop-mummies from the ceiling would be something my players will be talking about later.
I suppose it's actually nicer if enemies have (apart from the obviously useful stuff) some quirky magic items that give them a nonstandard tactical option.
I don't believe the CR of bestiary monsters is supposed to factor in the use of their treasure, other than what their stats say they're using. I'm fairly sure the CR is based on the actual written stats.
That said, I do think monsters should be using their treasure, because not using it would just be dumb. Does that mean I'm gonna mentally adjust their CR?
Yes and no. We have "math" for calculating APL based on having more or fewer than 4 PCs, but we don't have math for adjusting APL based on how experienced or clever players are, or how specialized they are against certain foes, or a variety of other "soft" things that make a party more or less effective.
There's a group of people I occasionally play PFS with, and we're pretty good at working together. We curbstomp scenarios that give us trouble if we're playing with other people/characters. When we have to play up it's generally tough but fun. If we play at our own tier or down it's anticlimactic.
So for a group like that, I think it's a good thing to juice up enemies a bit by letting them use their gear. Gear tends to make monsters tougher "horizontally"; it makes them more efficient at the things they already do. It doesn't give them many new above-their-level abilities that level-appropriate PCs can't cope with yet.
I think that's a better-scaled solution than just picking a higher CR monster.
John Compton wrote:
I do like the use of Chronicle sheets to open up cool options.
However, I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to strongly/blatantly hint at the possibility of the option in the adventuring blurb.
"The Society is doing a favor for Wizard X so that he'll tell them more about his process for making clockwork familiars."
I think it's sad if you discover a cool boon on the wrong character. Like one who isn't a caster, or who has the wrong alignment for an Improved Familiar. These are rare opportunities. Sure, there's a workaround by either using GM stars, GMing the adventure yourself, or just by hearsay from people who've played the adventure before. But those aren't really nice workarounds.
But I think it's worth considering, whether advertising these "stakes" of the adventure upfront might not be a good move. Compare it to faction boons in adventures: I think the "this adventure advances the X storyline" thing works very well.
It's not something that's needed for every such option, but I think for some of them, yeah.
I think the report-writing was rather "gotcha!". I mean, I thought that good pathfinders write reports in every adventure, but it's almost never actually required to do so OOC.
It was a fun mechanic during the Confirmation, but that one actually has empty pieces of parchment as a handout. And when you're handing people paper to write on, it's not "gotcha!" anymore when you're asking for that again at the end of the adventure. I just hand people a4 sheets, the handout is small and hideous. But the idea is good.
So I think that's the best way to do it in this adventure too. Give everyone a sheet of paper for taking notes.
Revolving Door Alternate wrote:
I will probably only have the single CORE character. So I won't be able to just use 1 of the other 7. Though I suppose I could just run a pregen, I don't really enjoy that as much as my own PC.
You could also use metagaming powers for good. If you're already played an adventure in the normal game and are about to replay it in CORE, you probably have an idea of whether it's a good adventure for paladins.
I rather like the idea of a self-experimentation focused class. I do think I'd keep Brew Potion, but giving up or reducing bombs makes sense.
However, one of the strengths of the alchemist class is that it's very versatile with regards to builds. Try to keep that in; don't get stuck on a natural weapon melee only archetype.
What might be cool would be Mutations, somewhat inspired by for example the Hunter's Animal Focus. Being that you can choose temporary odd properties to add to yourself from a fairly large list. The perk of the archetype could be that you can adapt to a large variety of situations.
A balance point could be that if you try to manifest more than one Mutation at a time, that there's a % chance of also manifesting a Flaw for the duration.
Playing non-wizards. I used to feel that anything was a bit like playing a limited, dombo kind of character. But now I love playing 2H heavy hitters. I just like getting my hands dirty.
RAW. The more I play PFS, the more I think the majority of it works just fine, especially if you think of the ACG as providing modernized versions of previously feeble classes.
Normal races. In my home setting humans are pretty much the only normal race; no elves, dwarves etcetera. Instead there's multiple lizardfol and plant species. This is hugely inconvenient with regards to minis.
PFS. I used to think that using other people's scenarios signalled a lack of creativity. But I'm having a lot of fun.
In the case of the eyes, I'd seriously consider going with the oracle retaining his vision, even without eyes. He'd get a red glow in his eyesockets or something.
I think that curse strongly suggests that the oracle might in fact be really blind but seeing in some supernatural way anyway, so that's why I'm comfortable with that.
I guess for Lame, I might go with floating over the ground. But then I'm in favor of freaky high fantasy.
This has been my PFS experience actually.
I used to play in a campaign where the tendency was to slowly reduce player choices because of things that were "OP". It was all done with good intentions ("so that when you finally do get nice things, it'll be awesome", "it's just not realistic to find that much treasure", "that class doesn't fit in the setting"). But the end result was really stifling. And it felt like every time I'd found some way to make some "progress" the GM felt that was munchkining. But on the other hand we were usually fighting the same boring enemies. Add to that a lot of house rules with lots of loopholes in them, but don't you dare actually use them.
Then when I started playing PFS, I didn't have to deal with GMs arbitrarily deciding what I could or couldn't have. I had a lot more power to play with, but occasionally the challenges would also be much bigger. And I enjoy it a lot more; give me nice toys, then give me amazing enemies to fight!
I didn't really mind the difficulty of say, Silver Mount Collection. I felt the adventure was poorly plotted, with clues that beg to be misinterpreted. And I think the new robot monsters are poorly constructed rule-wise. But I enjoyed the brutality; we were ready for it, it was a hard fight, but we won.
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Yeah, that's the problem. I guess I'm just gonna reserve the glitterdust for the unusually tough scenarios, or for when I'm playing up. When playing a "normal" adventure I'll just prepare a different spell (Arcanist).
The part about taking AoOs while flat-footed is also surprisingly important. Here's how a typical combat goes with my Investigator. While we're in potentially hostile areas, he carries his longspear at the ready. (GMs may give you a hard time about always having your sword unsheathed, but they're almost always cool with having a longspear in your hands, because where else is it gonna be?)
GM: "The bandit wins initiative and moves in to attack you."
The Bestiary, and after that, more bestiaries. They're among the most useful books for the GM, for three main reasons:
1) They have pictures of monsters, so you can show them to players.
These are all things that (for me) work better with a physical copy in my hands.
I guess the NPC Codex might be useful as well, although I've never really used it myself. It gets used quite a bit in PFS for stats for people you're not really supposed to fight and who therefore don't really need stats, but just in case.
The GMG has some additional subsystems for things that don't come up all that much, and quite a bit of advice on how to run the game. I haven't really read through that, because I learned GMing much earlier. I think it's worth reading through once or twice, but I'm not sure you'd use it often enough to make it worth owning. I'd go with just reading it on the PRD.
Apart from that, I think your players may like Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Equipment. They're not strictly necessary, but there's some nice stuff in there.
Apart from Bestiary I, I can recommend buying the others at some point; they're all themed differently.
I: the basic monsters, everything you can get with Summon Monster and Summon Nature's Ally. Absolute top priority.
My experience with AC is that you either have to invest seriously in it, to really go for out-of-reach AC, or not bother and focus on killing enemies faster than they can kill you.
Investing only a moderate portion of my resources in AC tends to leave me stuck halfway, where my offence isn't all it could be, but my AC isn't high enough to protect me either. Maybe I'm not doing it right though.
Animals are kinda weird in that most animals shouldn't be fighting a normal party of PCs.
PC parties tend to average 5 people plus maybe an animal companion. All of them looking fairly healthy. (Even the wizards tend to have positive Con modifiers, and walk in the middle of the group.) The 2H weapon warriors are probably exuding Dominance and Danger.
That is not the kind of group that a predatory animal would normally target, not for hunting. It might do so defend its young, if it's startled or cornered. But a normal healthy predator would go after far easier prey.
And come to that, the build of many predatory animals is very focused on maximizing the value you get out of a surprise attack. If they can't drop their prey in 1-2 rounds AND chase off the rest of the herd, they're done for. They might be able to mess up a PC a bit, but they're not gonna win the encounter, and they know it. (Because that's basically what predators do: select viable prey.)
So, on the one hand the stats for many animals are fairly plausible, they make lousy enemies for a normal PC band. Now, a PC that steps away for a bit to take a leak, that's an entirely different story.
I'd say that as a player, it may be better to stay away from powers that can shut down entire encounters, especially if they're a good option in every encounter.
Like the Slumber hex. It's just a 50% chance of no satisfying end fight. We want to win the end fight, sure. But we do want there to actually be a fight.
Also, I recently did this, and now I'm not entirely sure how to proceed: Persistent Glitterdust. Powered by Magical Lineage and Wayang Spellhunter. I knew it'd be powerful. I hadn't really counted on it being quite this powerful and ruining the adventure quite this much. So now I've got a character that I generally like, that's got non-retrainable investments in something that's just too powerful to be fun.
I found this to be a pretty tough scenario myself, but we played with a level 3 alchemist (mine, fairly optimized), level 3 fighter (not optimized), level 4 barbarian (well-built) and a Lem 4 pregen (tragically unoptimized). So we played high tier with 4 player adjustment. Also we cleared the entire dungeon in a single day, rather than the three days that the mission briefing gives you.
It was pretty dicey for us. We were one attack roll of the boss away from TPK when I finally managed to turn things around. It's pretty rare that I go through all my vast stacks of consumables.
It's possible the GM has the best of intentions but doesn't realize that he's doing something bad.
Quite a few lists of GMing tips recommend finding the things that get a rise out of the players and using those. That's good as long as it's something that makes players a little bit nervous or edgy. That can make the game more exciting.
But it's not good if it goes from light squirming to outright phobia. Because that's not fun at all, and fun is the goal of the game.
It's possible that because your friend doesn't fully show just how deeply he/she is affected, that the GM is misunderstanding the effect he's having.
You should definitely have a friendly but frank talk about it with the GM.
Just a Guess wrote:
Oh, right. I forgot it's one of those unusually obnoxious curses.
To make this one work out right requires a bit more rigging the game. Rigging the game for a good scare; as in, there's a chance to come through cleanly, a chance to come through poorly and a chance not to make it. If the players do "okay" they'll get through somewhere between clean and dirty. If they're really good they'll get through clean. And if they faff about they'll be in deep s*!#.
So, after suffering the curse, after a few hours, a PC loses a lock of hair. "Huh, that's odd." By evening, another lock of hair. Next morning, all his hair. So far, if you just shake the curse, your hair will still grow back. But by now the players know this curse won't just de-activate upon a succesful save, since they didn't get one that morning. They should be a bit apprehensive.
Next symptom: teeth feeling loose all of a sudden. This is when the real countdown starts. From there the PCs are located right now, it'll be about 2 days back to town on normal speed. And it'll also be two days before serious permanent damage happens. That's the rigged game. By now players know they're in serious trouble; if the curse can make your hair fall off, it can probably make your teeth come out as well.
During the day, whenever the PCs get into a scuffle and get hit by an enemy, do an easy Fort save not to lose a tooth. And another save by evening.
Next day (day 2 of the countdown) lose one (1) tooth, regardless of saves. And saves not to lose teeth are harder. But you can make it to the temple today if nothing goes wrong, get un-cursed before you lose all your teeth. So afterwards, you'll have lost a couple of teeth, but not all of them.
However, that's if things go smoothly. Now is when you bust out a few minor obstacles that normally the players would shrug about. A rain-swollen river that's difficult to ford. An angry momma bear. Stuff that you can go around, but that'll delay you. Or you can fight through it, but that's tricky too because of the teeth thing.
Make sure to read up on fatigue/exhaustion rules as well. Basically, if the PCs have some bad luck with their Survival checks and combat, and can't come up with any creative ways to speed up or bypass obstacles, they're losing their teeth. That's making it "dirty".
And then there's utter failure. If the PCs manage to be both tardy and unlucky, they're racing to even survive. On the third day, after losing their teeth, mention that their eyes feel funny, and that their necks are painfully stiff. If they don't make it to town that day, they're dead.
So the game's rigged. When the countdown starts, the PCs are basically on schedule to get back to a temple on time, providing they can deal with a few obstacles. Maybe they'll do really well and get to the temple even before the normal deadline, and keep all of their teeth.
If things go so-so, they'll have a few "scars", but not a complete loss of teeth. But they have to both screw up and procrastinate to actually die.
I agree on not setting them up for certain doom. But I wouldn't have gone with the scroll. Rather, I would've put a cleric at 3 days travel who can save afflicted PCs. If they get hit by the trap, it suddenly turns into a race to get back home in time.
Any problem that they'd normally answer with "well, then we rest another day to get back to full strength" is now a lot scarier.
I think it should also vary by NPC.
With regard to tiny creatures;
Tiny, Diminutive, and Fine Creatures: Very small creatures take up less than 1 square of space. This means that more than one such creature can fit into a single square. A Tiny creature typically occupies a space only 2-1/2 feet across, so four can fit into a single square. 25 Diminutive creatures or 100 Fine creatures can fit into a single square. Creatures that take up less than 1 square of space typically have a natural reach of 0 feet, meaning they can't reach into adjacent squares. They must enter an opponent's square to attack in melee. This provokes an attack of opportunity from the opponent. You can attack into your own square if you need to, so you can attack such creatures normally. Since they have no natural reach, they do not threaten the squares around them. You can move past them without provoking attacks of opportunity. They also can't flank an enemy.
As I understand it, a Tiny quasit is only two sizes smaller than a human, so he can't stay in the human's square. He moves into the square (provokes), and then after its turn ends he's nudged out of the square by whatever mysterious force enforces the grid rules.
Going by an (overly) rigid reading of the rules, the quasit wouldn't even be allowed to make an attack, since he gets shoved out of his square as soon as he finishes moving, before he attacks. We'll let that slide. But the fact is that a human and a quasit are apparently too big to stay in the same square for more than an instant.
Anyhow, my preferred tactic for critters like quasits and imps is to Delay until they decloak, and then grapple them. Their lack of reach means they don't even get an attack of opportunity against that, and they tend to have lousy CMD.
I think it's often worthwhile to keep grappling in mind as a tactic, even if you have no specialized skill in it whatsoevewr. During Carrion Hill my ranged alchemist grappled, pinned and bound a spellcaster four levels higher than him. That same alchemist has grappled a quasit too, during a certain season 5 adventure.
Obviously grappling doesn't work against every kind of monster, but quite a few enemies are even less prepared against it than the PCs.
Yeah, this is the rule I was looking for. I knew it was written down somewhere, I just couldn't find where. I did remember the +/-2 quantity though.
So, I'd definitely apply the penalty for coming to the fancy part immediately from the sewers. But I'm not gonna waste time arguing about bathroom breaks; I'll just assume they happen offscreen.
As for the starvation during overland travel: that's absurd. If finding food was actually an issue during the adventure, I'd say so during the first day that food was looking scarce.
"You've been travelling through the forest expecting to buy new provisions at the next village, but there doesn't seem to be any village for some odd reason. If nobody's got provisions in his equipment or some other trick up his sleeve, I'm calling for Survival checks now to forage..."
Trying to "gotcha" someone that he hasn't eaten for a month is stupid.
216 Das Band ("We're on a mission from [insert God here]. We're bringing the band back together.")
217 The Apostolic Palace - from a campaign where our party with iron-age steppe clerics of three different gods eventually launched a one-party holy war against a pantheon of Stargate alien imposter gods. And threw their capital in a volcano and stole their spaceship.
Our current party actually is an Order of the Stick; two clerics with quarterstaves, a druid with shillelagh, a staff magus and a cavalier with a lance.
Such bosses do rely on actually getting the time to cast their buffs. So they'd want advance warning that the PCs are coming. That's a good reasons for various traps and also for having some guards right outside the door to your inner sanctum. Few PC parties know how to fight quietly.
I like Magda's tactic, and I think it's got great potential in PFS or suchlike, where most villains are basically waiting for the PCs to come and murder them. ("Morale: suicide by PC")
However, in a home campaign, I'd say savvier villains might build their sanctum so that you have to go into the Outer Sanctum before you can get into the Inner Sanctum. So when the PCs go into the Outer Sanctum the villain gets a warning and does some buffs. The PCs knock on the door of the Inner Sanctum and then try to wait out the BBEG's buffs. The BBEG then pulls on the lever that seals the doors behind the PCs and starts filling the Outer Sanctum with lava.
Buffs are so central to PF combat that it makes sense for NPCs to strategize around them. Either the PCs will be pausing in the Outer Sanctum to cast their own buffs, or to wait out the villain's buffs. In either case, as a villain, you know exactly where the heroes are and you can abuse the heck out of that knowledge.
I've been giving my strength-based investigator a spin in PFS, and it's working pretty well so far. Strength 16, Dex 14, Combat Reflexes and a longspear work out quite well. I'm wearing a cestus for when the longspear is too long; that way I don't have to drop it. And a sap in case we need to capture-'n-interrogate.
So far I've only played him at level 2-3, and barely used any buffs. Combat Reflexes with a spear means you're usually at the front of the group, hitting or tripping enemies that think they can just walk into melee while you're flat-footed. Seriously, Combat Reflexes is awesome.
I was dreading the play until I got Studied Combat, but so far it's been just fine. I've got lots of skill points and I've got more buffs than time (or need) to apply them.
CRB, equipment chapter wrote:
I never really noticed before that the composite longbow does allow it.
I think the encumbrance game rules are way to, well, cumbersome.
I totally think we should have some kind of system in place. It's one of the balancing points on dumping strength. And the amount of gear you can bring with you is just one of the limited resources you play with, that's IMO also part of an adventurer. To be prepared for everything means overspending on consumables and overloading on gear. So you have to pick some things not to be ready for (for now). I think those choices are part of the game.
But without some sort of automated calculation (spreadsheet, herolab) the system is just too much work.
Anyway, I find that 10-12 Str characters are medium encumbered quite quickly. Armor, weapons, a few flasks of acid and a tanglefoot bag and you're there.
I think it's an editing mistake, and that the investigator can use wands in the same way as the alchemist. I've gone into the matter in detail here.
In short: the alchemist has text explaining which magic items they can and can't use. All the reasons given in that explanation apply to investigators in the same way.
I've heard about this playtest comment, but haven't been able to find it.
That should totally be an option for druids.
The Eldritch Heritage trick could be paved over by a slight rephrasing of the Arcane Bloodline;
current wording wrote:
New Arcana (Ex): At 9th level, you can add any one spell from the sorcerer/wizard spell list to your list of spells known. This spell must be of a level that you are capable of casting. You can also add one additional spell at 13th level and 17th level.
proposed rewording wrote:
New Arcana (Ex): At 9th level, you can add any one spell from the sorcerer/wizard spell list to your list of sorcerer spells known. This spell must be of a level that you are capable of casting. You can also add one additional spell at 13th level and 17th level.
... and an oracle has no use for sorcerer spells known, so now the loophole is plugged.
That is, if you really feel such a need to plug the loophole. Personally I think it's cute and should be allowed. You're sinking three feats into this.
@Cevah: where in the Wings discovery do you see it saying that you don't get the Fly's graceful landing provision?
"As the spell" means that it does all the same things as the spell except for those called out explicitly to be different.
I do agree that it's winged flight, because the discovery grants you wings. That's explicitly called out.
The trickiest part is deciding what action it takes to activate. On the one hand it's an Ex ability without an explicit activation action required. So you can probably switch it on at any time (for example, when you fall off a cliff). On the other hand, "as the Fly spell" suggests that maybe the wings need to be activated as a Standard action. I'm not really sure about that one.