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Ascalaphus's page

FullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 5,593 posts (5,594 including aliases). 39 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 9 Pathfinder Society characters.


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I think one of the great assets of PFS is the uniformity of the rules. I've played in campaigns with a GM who knee-jerk banned a lot of things and I hated it. (He got better at this after he got some PFS experience himself.)

I love the way that in PFS you're fairly free of someone else's arbitrary likes or dislikes; as long as what you're doing is clearly by all the rules, you're good to go. Most of the time you don't have to negotiate the rules of the game before you can start playing.

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I've snapped up a mindless wight llama once, that was neat.

In general, this is a good spell to carry on a scroll, because you don't use it all that often but when the opportunity presents itself it's pretty funny.

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There's an implicit meta argument at work here. As a level 3 wizard you're not likely to run into a CR 10 mindless undead.

There aren't that many mindless undead anyway; there are some zombie giants or suchlike, but they'll usually be side dishes, not the main enemy. The only places where you're likely to see powerful mindless undead are when the BBEG is a necromancer, or one of the PCs is a necromancer. In the case of the BBEG the undead should already be under his command, and you get the question of what happens if multiple people attempt to control the same monster.

In the case of PC necromancy it actually takes quite some fiddling for a PC to be both good at creating undead (usually involves being a cleric) and having Command Undead (a wizard spell). It's probably a dedicated necromancer build by then. That sort of thing already has wide-ranging campaign implications.

So, is CU too powerful because it works so well on mindless undead? I think not, because mindless undead just aren't that powerful.


Then, is CU too good because it also works on mindful undead? Will is a strong save for undead, so it's not guaranteed to work. If it does work you have an ally that requires careful handling. To start, the spell states the monster will not attack you; it might still have designs on the other PCs. That's probably one opposed Charisma check (no retries!) to start with. And another check to get it to do the things you want it to. Keep in mind that undead use Charisma for Con purposes and tend to have a high score in it. So you'd better pump your own Charisma too.

So, it's nice, but you have to really invest in it.

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Basically, you're inhaling tear gas, and even if the gas is gone from the air, your body is still upset.

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In this case, the story of Traitor's Lodge would be diminished if you erased all sightings of Thurl as a VC in the past.

"Traitor VC of what? Nobody's ever seen him!"

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A wand of grease is DC 11 (minimum intelligence 11, level 1 spell). It's better than picking your nose, but not by a whole lot.

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In my experience, someone playing a wizard to level 7 has been hindered by darkness before. Chances are he's got at least Darkvision from race or spell.

Casting Scry to locate a missing person when you have access to her dressing room (you know, full of hair brushes and personal effects) is also a logical step.

So if he just scried on her and she's in the sewers, he could see that. If the abductor continuously uses Deeper Darkness that might hinder, but given the title of DarkEST Abduction, chances are he's ready for that too. And I dunno how fair it is for the GM to decide that the BBEG is using Deeper Darkness all the time; he probably isn't, if he's disguising him(her?)self as the VC to impress the diva.

I've only played the scenario and we didn't have a wizard. I don't know what the sidebar says, haven't read the scenario yet. But this is an obvious PC tactic the scenario ought to account for. Does it?

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In the CRB, the rule is that metamagic cares about spell slots, and ability scores care about spell levels. So there it's quite legal.

The FAQ changes the rule, it's in the PFS FAQ, not the CRB FAQ.

Keep in mind that PFS FAQs are not written by the PDT but by the campaign team. Their scope is only PFS.

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Part of the art of playing a caster is knowing how to divvy up your spells in encounters. It's tightest at levels 1-2 but never really goes away; you'll always have to worry if you should really use all your highest level spells in a single encounter.

An important realization is that you don't have to cast a "real" spell every round. It's good to do something useful every round, but try to use spells only when it seems either like it's absolutely necessary (someone is in danger) or when it could make a big difference (one well-placed Create Pit can wreck the enemy team's tactics; a Color Spray can halve an encounter; Burning Hands to take down a swarm).

Focus on spells that provide an effect that's hard to replicate for a melee type; no need for you to do what they can do cheaper. Magic Missile is not a great spell at level 1. Color Spray is good for taking down dumb brutes, and Grease for restricting the mobility of big clumsy brutes.

So when you're not casting your Big Shot spells, what else can you do in a combat round?
- Fire a bow or crossbow or sling; often hard because of cover/shooting into melee penalties.
- Fire an Acid Splash. If you use an Acid Flask as Alchemical Focus Component (requires the Adventurer's Armory book) you get +1 damage. 1d3+1 damage isn't a lot but aiming at Touch AC helps.
- Enemies often carry acid flasks, alchemist's fire and so forth. Loot it, use it; you don't have to pay for it.
- Take a longspear and use Aid Another to help allies.
- Use your throwaway level 1 domain/bloodline powers that you get Score+3 times per day. They're often not impressive but they're also affordable.
- Open/Close doors (with Open/Close cantrip) so that other people don't have to spend actions on it; if an ally gets off an additional attack because if it, it's good use of a turn.
- Drag fallen PCs back to safety.
- Use a wand of Cure Light Wounds or Infernal Healing for first aid. Or even a potion that you've already drawn.
- Use your Knowledges. If the party wastes one less round using the wrong weapons because you did well on initiative and told them how to get trough DR, you've just achieved quite a lot with only free actions.
- Slap PCs out of Fascinated and Asleep conditions. Spend actions to disbelieve illusions and then coach other PCs with their saves (worth a +4 bonus!)
- Buy just one Wand of Magic Missile and use it to pick off enemies that the GM hints are on their last legs. Use it recklessly and burn through it before you get to level 4 , by then you have enough real spells.
- Buy one or two level 1 pearls of power. They're well-priced and having a few more spell slots makes a big difference.
- Use a Wand of Mage Armor so you don't have to spend a spell slot. Also use it on any monks in the party, they'll love you.

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It sounds like a very common misunderstanding combined with a bit of rules from maneuvers applied to everything else.

An attack of opportunity is triggered not by moving INTO, but by LEAVING a threatened square. In your example, you don't get an AoO for moving into the square adjacent to the giant, but for leaving the square a little farther off that he was also threatening with his big arms.

Taking a penalty on your to-hit check for damage from an AoO, only applies in once circumstance: maneuvers that you're not skilled at. You trigger an AoO if you try a maneuver that you don't have the Improved Something feat for.

So if you trigger an AoO for any other reason, that rule doesn't apply. If you move closer to the giant you trigger an AoO, but that one doesn't cause any penalties (just pain). Then when you next decide to grapple the giant, and don't have Improved Grapple, you trigger a second AoO, but only from the giant you're targeting. On this second one, if the giant hits you, you get a penalty.

However, normally you only get one AoO atttempt per round. So maybe the giant already used it on you when you were getting closer, and now you actually have the opportunity to grapple him without him taking that AoO and hindering you.

Just be careful with monsters that look like they were made for taking advantage of AoOs. They often have the Combat Reflexes feat.

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Clear Ear is a "black market" substance, not an alchemical remedy, so it doesn't work with the Vial.

Pills in the vial is a bit iffy but might be legal. It reads a lot like the vial assumes liquids.

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For a tengu the Inspired Blade duelist archetype with Fencing Grace does look like a very sweet dip. You can even use a shield, so between Dex and that, your AC could somewhat offset the loss of Con.

Alternatively, that one level dip in swashbuckler isn't your prime plan, which is archery; but you have a rapier if melee can't be avoided.

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The feat is worth the headband.

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Nigrescence wrote:

When I saw the name of this thread, I actually thought that Bickerspam was a class feature or a spell that someone took a shine to and wanted to make a thread hating on it.

Well, clearly that's not the case. However, let's actually come up with a spell or class feature of the same name! It could even be a universal class archetype designed to be compatible with most class archetypes. You know, for double dipping in specialization. Though it would probably be easier if it were just a spell.

So, have at it! Enjoy! Maybe someone will actually publish it.

I was worried that Bicker was like an Antagonize feat but with no limit on usage...

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KingOfAnything wrote:
It's already calculated into the scenario rewards. If you don't get the bounty, you lose out on that gold.

This is often how it's done. The adventure is usually written to provide X gold split among Y things, they don't all have to be monsters.

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Julix wrote:
a. Is it legal (w/ or w/o table variation)?


Julix wrote:
b. Is it ethical (anything wrong with it)?

Playing a 26 HP barbarian that turns into a nerdy wizard at level 2 is a bit gauche, but I wouldn't call it unethical.

Julix wrote:
c. would you do it?

I have and will likely do so again.

Julix wrote:
d. would you mind if others did?

Go ahead. Have a good time.

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I don't think you get anything extra. It's extremely rare that you get more gold than normal for an adventure. If it's not on the Chronicle you don't get it.

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Flagged: should have [Fabric of Reality Spoilers] in the thread title.

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Some of the most annoying people to play with are total klutzes when it comes to character building. Their extreme ineptitude can be grating. And then they start shooting hostages because they're not sure how to deal with the possessing entity.

And some extreme powergamers are a delight to play with because they know how to share spotlight but also make sure everyone makes it back alive. You look at the iffy signups for a dangerous scenario, worry a bit and then spot their name and "Phew! Ward is playing up only one level, this is going to be fine".

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1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

@Nefreet: Your Q&A is looking good. Keep it up.

Nefreet wrote:

Q: What faction do the Pregens belong to?

A: Pregens are assumed to belong to the Grand Lodge faction.

This could be clearer though. We have cases to distinguish:

A) I'm attaching this sheet to a GL PC
B) I'm attaching this sheet to a non-GL PC

In case A, can I:
- Earn GL-specific boons?
- Advance my GL faction journal card?

In case B, can I:
- Earn boons of my own faction?
- Earn GL boons, since during this game I had a sudden bout of GL-affiliation?


The answer to most of these is probably No, but it would be good to clear up. Personally I'd like the option (perhaps for non-newbie players) to choose at the beginning of the session to declare their pregen in a different faction so that they can earn faction boons and journal advancement.

Imagine that your table is levels 3, 6, 6, 6 and you're the L3 player; furthermore, you're playing a 3-7 adventure which is supposed to be relevant to your faction, say Dark Archive. Your APL is 5.25 so you'd be playing the low tier with a grossly overqualified party; but you don't have enough players to play the high tier. If you switched to a L7 pregen you'd have a table that was nicely in-tier and everyone has a much better time. But you lose out on a boon or the opportunity to complete a hard Faction Journal goal.

I suspect "are assumed to be GL" is a trick to speed up starting the game with newbies, so that you don't have to explain factions and make them choose at the beginning of the game.

I think a better rule would be "pregens are assumed to be GL unless you state otherwise at the beginning of the scenario" and "you can only earn faction-specific boons if you played your pregen as belonging to that faction AND you attach the chronicle to a character of that faction."

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Humans are a mechanically strong choice for just about every class, and many people prefer them for nonmechanical reasons as well. I think the biggest strike against humans is that they lack darkvision and that PFS writers sometimes think that using lots of Darkness is still original.

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Joe Ducey wrote:
Juniperkitsu wrote:
Honestly, my biggest peeve about the the races in pfs is the fact that most players don't put any thought into their character's history. Like not knowing where they were raised, or even how they became a pathfinder.
Not sure that's really a problem with the races so much as the players lack of building a backstory. There are some races I wish had more background to help build backstory - Wayang I'm looking at you.

Yeah, there's like all of 3/4 of a page describing what the race is like, and about two pictures of wayangs. I would like more than that, wayangs could be awesome. I'm really enjoying playing mine as extremely skittish, scared of anything bigger than him, and lamenting the return of the sun to Golarion. Things were better when eagles couldn't spot you from up high.

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We seriously need a clear rule on how to handle "the same thing" appearing in two books with different, sometimes updated mechanics.

Because although people naturally assume so, there is not any rule saying you should use the newest rules, that anyone's been able to quote to me.

And if you think about it, that would undermine half the point of Additional Resources: that you can show your GM an accurate version of the ability you're using, if you own the source.

If only the version of a thing from the most recent source is legal, the other source is not sufficient. For example, if I have an item from UE, but it gets a newer printing in say, Adventurer's Armory. Because I have UE I have the right to use the item. But the newest rules are in a book that's not in the PRD and which I might not own, nor the GM.

This is less problematic if the newest source is in the PRD, which is often the case because stuff tends to go from softcovers to reprinting in hardcovers.

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Finlanderboy wrote:
Mirza of Osirion wrote:
I personally prefer when Fluffy is on the same initiative as me. Streamlines the process.

nothing is stopping you from rolling twice and take the lower to streamline it.

Most people are fine with that.

Another solution is riding your pet around, at least until combat starts, because this way you and your mount sharea the same initiative*

*use only for streamlining purposes. Do not use to max out fluffies initiative. Do not use if nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant after contact with a WISC, slaad, or other creature lacking bilateral symmetry. If the taste of cheese persists for more than 4 hours contact your cleric...

What have you got against Valais?!

That aside, I very much prefer sharing initiative. Pay your Handle Animal skill rank tax, buy the training harness, take the standard tricks, and get on with things.

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One reason for channeling/running from haunts is that the lack of clarity in the rules, and the lack of guidance for GMs, makes interacting with them a pain for the players, not just the characters.

If the GM doesn't really know how haunts work, or has it wrong, or is being cagey about the game mechanics for interacting with haunts in general, they as a player it gets less and less fun to actually make the effort.

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Michael Eshleman wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
TheFlyingPhoton wrote:
5) On the Scarab Sages card, how do you identify how to permanently destroy a haunt? Haunts always have a description on how to permanently destroy them, but it's never been clear on how to do that. A Knowledge(Religion) check?

Unclear. The Knowledge check rules for haunts are vague. If the GM doesn't allow "how do we destroy it" as a question, try "how do we find out how to destroy it" for a lead?

The knowledge rules say that you can make a check to know something useful, and more if you exceed the DC by 5+. It doesn't give difficulties for haunts, but there's no reason you can't use knowledge on haunts otherwise. I recommend using the same DCs as for creatures, i.e. based on CR.

Because haunts are not monsters, the monster knowledge rules don't apply. The best method to determine how to destroy a haunt is probably the speak with haunt spell. In my experience a common method is to bury/consecrate the remains of any creatures whose deaths may have caused the haunt.

While it's true the monster knowledge rules don't apply, that doesn't mean haunts are totally unknowable.

Knowledge skill description, CRB wrote:

Check: Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).

You can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster's CR. For common monsters, such as goblins, the DC of this check equals 5 + the monster's CR. For particularly rare monsters, such as the tarrasque, the DC of this check equals 15 + the monster's CR, or more. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster. For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information. Many of the Knowledge skills have specific uses as noted on Table: Knowledge Skill DCs.

Notice that it covers more than just monsters; it's just that the rules for monsters are best-defined.

For haunts, you could either base the DC on the haunt's CR as if it were a monster, or you could say "it's a really tough question" and pick something between 20 and 30.

I think I'd use DC 15 for vague clues that nudge people in the right direction, and DC 20-30 for insights into what spells the haunt uses, what it's AoE is and similar game mechanics.

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Gummy Bear wrote:

Mirza has a good point, ideally people should be thinking about their actions prior to their turn. Especially if they have a complex and/or time consuming class feature. That in addition to actually knowing how your abilities work should be considered general player etiquette IMO.

I think if you are doing the above and the animal etiquette stuff mentioned above and in the linked guides, you're golden.

EDIT: I'm not saying you have to be an expert or not have questions, but if you have several levels of using a class feature (like Finlander's example) you should have at least read how it works once.

I quite agree with this. The comment I was responding to sounded more like people with companions were expected to be faster than most people, with or without companions.

Of course you should have stuff precalculated as much as possible, and of course you're thinking ahead what sort of things you might want to do next turn.

But after a few levels, a tactically interesting combat will have enough things changing from turn to turn that you can't quite now what the situation will be when your turn comes up next. A new enemy is summoned, an enemy unexpectedly survives a full attack and is now in position to return the favor, a PC has just gone down and needs immediate attention, a Wall of Fire suddenly separates you from your planned target, you just got Greater Dispelled, and so forth.

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mcoppel wrote:
If you have problems with players at the table I would have a timer going for rounds, they only have 30-60 seconds and next.

Lots of players without companions aren't that fast either.

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Okay, I totally agree with that. I misunderstood your previous post, I thought you were saying you know how to destroy any arbitrary haunt. But they all have different destruction requirements, so.

What does trip up people is that the haunt mechanics aren't widely understood, or perfectly clear for that matter.

- The knowledge check to know anything] about a haunt is problematic, because there's no directly applicable rule to determine DC, or give indication on what kind of questions you can ask. The nearest analog is knowledge checks for monsters.
- The Gamemastery Guide has some rules for haunts, including that every direct effect counts as a mind-affecting fear effect and that fear immunity shields you from the direct effects; even if those are normally physical spells. This is something many GMs don't know, and it's rather mysterious how to handle it if the haunt summons monsters for example. Can a L3+ paladin even see or fight the monsters?

I think this issue with knowledge of the rules hamstrings players in interacting with haunts, leading to reduced agency and irritation.

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Mirza: suppressing a haunt with positive energy isn't the same as permanently destroying it. Positive energy just shuts it down for a day.

Many haunts in adventures are side effects of the BBEG. Winning the adventure often ends the haunt, or is at least a necessary step to it.

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Use sleeves of many garments to make it look like dress armor, and bring a rapier instead of a ripsaw glaive. In Taldor, falcatas are also a stylish weapon.

Your weapons will usually be masterwork or better, so they'll look fancy enough.

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TheFlyingPhoton wrote:

Some questions:

1) On the Grand Lodge card, can you get credit for the first goal when visiting the same nation twice, as long as you check boxes on different seasons' cards? (ie can I check that box off for the season 6 card for playing a scenario in Taldor and then check a box for the same goal on the season 7 card for playing a different scenario set in Taldor?)


TheFlyingPhoton wrote:

2) On the Grand Lodge card, do demi-planes with civilizations in them qualify for the "adventure in a nation other than Absalom" goal? How about places that aren't nations, such as the Gloomspires (Hall of the Flesheaters) or where the entire adventure takes place at sea (Murder on the Throaty Mermaid)?

The Hao Jin tapestry has at least two independent city-states in it. I'd let the tapestry count.

TheFlyingPhoton wrote:

3) On the Grand Lodge card, can you check the "adventure in a nation other than Absalom" box on one season and check another box on a different season's card?

"Checking one of this goal’s boxes does not prevent you from checking one box for a different goal." Doesn't say the other goal has to be on the same card.

TheFlyingPhoton wrote:

4) On the Liberty's Edge card, for the "fail a save vs a compulsion, succeed at a subsequent save" goal, does another player using an ability to replace your save (eg, countersong) qualify for this goal? How about another player doing something that automatically ends the effect (casting a spell such as Calm Emotions)?

I'd allow countersong, but not Calm Emotions. Countersong looks enough like a second save to me.

TheFlyingPhoton wrote:

5) On the Scarab Sages card, how do you identify how to permanently destroy a haunt? Haunts always have a description on how to permanently destroy them, but it's never been clear on how to do that. A Knowledge(Religion) check?

Unclear. The Knowledge check rules for haunts are vague. If the GM doesn't allow "how do we destroy it" as a question, try "how do we find out how to destroy it" for a lead?

The knowledge rules say that you can make a check to know something useful, and more if you exceed the DC by 5+. It doesn't give difficulties for haunts, but there's no reason you can't use knowledge on haunts otherwise. I recommend using the same DCs as for creatures, i.e. based on CR.

TheFlyingPhoton wrote:

6) On the Sovereign Court card, for the Confidante reward, if a bard has Versatile Performance for Diplomacy, can he use his ranks in the Perform skill being used for Diplomacy, or is he restricted to just receiving the +2 bonus?

Just the +2 bonus, Versatile Performance doesn't replace skill ranks.

TheFlyingPhoton wrote:

7) On the Sovereign Court card, can you check the "don't reveal your faction affiliation when you achieve one of the above goals" goal for one season when checking the box for an identical "above goal" on a different season's card?

"Fulfill one of the goals above without revealing your faction affiliation to anyone other than a present or future

member of the Sovereign Court."

I would say no, stuff on the other card is not above the goals on one.

TheFlyingPhoton wrote:

8) On the The Exchange card, does banking money for the Investor Reward prevent you from checking the "Earn 50+ gold on a day job" goal?

I'd allow that.


And remember this:

Faction Cards How To Use wrote:

For GMs: By design, the Faction Journal Cards include a variety of goals, some which include very precise instructions and some that rely on interpretation. This is to allow PCs to have many opportunities to fulfill these goals, rather than forcing them to play a specific adventure to complete their cards. Err on the side of leniency when ruling whether or not a PC fulfilled a faction

objective; for example, defeating an undead creature does not necessarily mean striking the killing blow, and someone who actively contributes to the combat almost certainly qualifies. Any skill check DCs associated with a goal are independent of and do not completely replace any other DCs that appear in a scenario.

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The feat is probably listed as legal by mistake.

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To be fair, in several opera adventures the adventure text says it's okay to bring some weaponry, but GMs make it harder anyway.

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@Damanta: I'm really looking forward to Where Mammoths Dare Not Tread. Everyone's bringing a companion: mammoth, worg, megaloceros, roc, intelligent sword and I'm guessing an undead army.

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That's a very designer-centric way of looking at it. "This feature is hard to implement properly, so people shouldn't want it."

Boss fights are a staple of mythology. RPGs should be able to create satisfying fights of a party against a single monster. It's something I'm sure a lot of designers would like to invent.

And it's also a matter of degrees. Old crane wing made things significantly worse. Changing it didn't defeat the whole problem, but it's a step in the right direction.

And yeah, I think slumber is also badly designed and should also be changed.

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While old Crane Wing resembles Deflect Arrow in terms of pure mechanics, it's not the same balance-wise.

Most monsters with a ranged attack have something else they can do, while many dumb melee monsters don't. Most ranged attacks will gain iteratives; monsters with natural weapons don't. And in my experience, I fight more things in melee than at range.

So old Crane Wing had a much wider scope of use than Deflect Arrow.

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Many different kind of dungeons - no one answer that is always right.

You could characterize a dungeon by how the inhabitants are organized.
- Are they all on the same team, or are there perhaps different tribes/gangs/solitary horrors?
- How inclined are the monsters to wander? Hobgoblins might patrol their territory, while a golem stays on guard.
- How much room is there? A ruined city might have a monster every house, every other city block, or maybe just three gangs that keep to their districts.

If you have an idea of the "ecosystem" of your dungeon, you can set up wandering encounters that "make sense". In fact, your players might figure out how the place works, and use that to figure out where they can rest.

For example, if the monsters are territorial gangs, upon defeating one gang there's a swath of territory the PCs can rest in for a while. After a couple of days, the other gangs notice the border isn't being watched anymore and start to scout, and eventually move in to claim the territory.

In another example, the dungeon is a big hobgoblin fortress. While the PCs have the element of surprise they get rooms with encounters they can handle. Some time after initial entry, patrols find trashed rooms and corpses and sound the alarm, and a coordinated search for the intruders starts. This is a "hard" dungeon for PCs because if they dally too long or make too much noise they could be trapped against waaaay more monsters that they're ready for.

Now, if the players have some idea of what they're facing, they can start making plans, like "we have to get the MacGuffin and get back out again before they get organized", or "we need to focus on clearing out one gang completely so that we can use their territory as a base camp". They can make decisions on when to go nova or when they need to count out each spell carefully because they need to do more before it's safe to rest.

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Ragoz: when the low subtier has the same monster as the high subtier, but with a Young template, that increases its AC and to-hit?

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A somewhat extreme way of reading it is that while the caster isn't visible, the spell is. Casting a spell while invisible is a way to give away your location.

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@Ragoz: I'm not saying scenarios should be easier or harder; I'm saying authors should be honest about how hard they are, instead of manipulating corner cases of CR calculation.

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Played this last weekend on low tier. We had a party that only barely didn't qualify for high tier, so of course we had a relatively easy time.

Interesting point was when I used my folio reroll on Diplomacy with the Shoanti informant to turn a 2 into a 19. Getting the warning about Galdran coming at us with fire meant that we all had Fire Resistance 20 up at the final fight. I felt so very vindicated in spending my reroll on Diplomacy instead of saving it for a crucial saving throw.

Also interesting was the Aspis fight: our wizard Dim-Doored Zeva out of the fight, and the summmoner got a Satyr to Suggest everyone leave the place. So when the haunt triggered there was nobody (neither Aspis nor us) in the market. My inquisitor was one of the few people not failing against the Suggestion and standing just outside the door; she was just looking over her shoulder and going "whaa... guys...?"

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x4 crits in low-level adventures seem to be a thing of the dark times of season 0-1, when writers had yet to realize how enormously bad an idea that was in terms of writing a fun adventure. Even though it makes perfect sense as a favored weapon for the god of sudden accidental death. Fun > Flavor.

Grading scenarios by difficulty is, well, difficult. Reading reviews can help, but not every reviewer is equally representative. It's easier to know if a review would apply to your group if the review mentions what kind of party had that easy/hard time. ("They had four barbarians and thought the enemies went down easy.")

What annoys me most is when an author manipulates the CR grading system to produce encounters that are technically within the limits of the tier, but are really much harder. A level 2 barbarian is supposedly only a CR 1 encounter, and two of them a CR 3. But their to-hit and damage output can easily kill a L1 character with a lucky roll.

Likewise you have shenanigans like adding a Young template to a monster with weapon finesse or that relies on ranged attacks. Supposed downscaling increases its to-hit by +3.

Terrain that really favours enemies is supposed to be worth +1 EL, but that's often ignored. Like everyone having to squeeze into a room where they then get fireballed and fast-bombed by an optimized alchemist.

I'm fine with the challenge, but let's be honest about how hard it is, instead of pretending it's easy because that's what blind faith in normal CR counting rules tells you.

Sovereign Court

You can have durable shuriken, I think. But keep in mind that durable ammo loses enchantment after the first use.

Sovereign Court *

The satchel gives total cover, but also means your familiar can't help out quite as much.

Sovereign Court *

For season 0-3, if nobody's in the high tier, you don't have to play up. That rule doesn't apply to newer scenarios however.

In the 4,4,5,5,5 case, I'd propose that they may want to use a couple of pregens to either reduce APL, or get more ready for the high tier.

EDIT: or of course take a look at their character folders, maybe someone has an alternative PC they can play that would shift the tier.

I do try to spot this before it happens and discuss it with players if they're heading into a weird tier.

Sovereign Court

DM_Blake wrote:

Won't you have egg on your face if you ready your action to prevent him from casting a spell but he reaches into his pocket (not spellcasting so doesn't trigger your readied action) and then Poof! He disappears.

Better to be safe than sorry. Better to be thorough than sloppy. Ready for EVERYTHING.

Except that readying for everything is not the RAW or the RAI, but who are we to worry about such trivial things as rules?

You can be specific or generic in what you pick as a condition. "If he does something magical" is just as valid a choice as "if he casts a spell", but it'll also catch a cleric channeling negative energy. Not that you can interrupt that, but at least you didn't waste a round waiting for a spell that never came.

Nobody's proposing fifteen separate triggers here. Nobody's proposing ignoring the rules like you keep saying.

Sovereign Court

There's a risk of course. If you ready an action in such a way that a 5ft step itself triggers it ("he does anything other than surrendering"), you get your chance to strike before the wizard starts casting, not during. So you won't interrupt his spell. It does come close to guaranteeing that you'll some of what you want no matter what he does, but you're not as certain that you'll get everything that you want.

@Letric: there is a way to 5ft-step during a readied action, but you can only do that if you didn't move during your turn.

CRB, Combat, Ready wrote:
You can take a 5-foot step as part of your readied action, but only if you don't otherwise move any distance during the round.

Sovereign Court

I think the condition should be clear enough, and objective enough. Any external observer should be able to quickly and easily adjudicate whether the event matches the trigger or not.

"Unless he does what I just told him to" is broad but clear and objective. The wizard either complies, doesn't, or bluffs the fighter into thinking he complied. All of these can be judged by an external observer (GM, bystander), assisted by some Bluff/Sense Motive checks maybe.

"If he does something I don't like" is not clear and objective enough. It can't be fairly judged by anyone else than the fighter and that makes it an invalid condition in my eyes.

"If he does one of the following 20 things" is too complicated, too. Lists aren't okay. Broad categories are. "If he casts a spell or channels or uses a supernatural ability or activates an item..." is too much I think. "If he does anything magical" is a fine and clear condition.

Sovereign Court *

I do like support clerics a lot. I mean, everyone can pull their weight and it's nice enough if a barbarian beats up a baddy, but someone who takes away the pain of a really nasty negative condition, that I really appreciate.

Remove Paralysis, Remove Blindness, Daylight...

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