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I'll try to look over them while on vacation and see if I can come up with something that helps. :o
or he could make the orcs slavers and not go for the kill, or he could scatter them out quite far from each other, have the others sleeping or otherwise unable to fight optimally(like rowing a boat and fighting back with oars rather than drop them and draw weapons...)
Also, I wanted to point out that, again, I don't see the point of handicapping enemies just to handicap them. Are our heroes so grossly fragile that they can't risk death and must fight the paddle-orcs?
The OP's problem is not the dropping of a character in one hit... it's the outright killing of a character in one hit... which is a valid concern... however, I believe you are correct, the Orcs in this scenario seem to be rather unnecessary for that purpose... it would be better to use a weaker race altogether.
See this axe? See how it's buried in Johnny's head? Johnny's actually kind of happy that he DID die after that hit.
Yeah. Why choose monsters that have specific edges and hindrances and then try to play opposite of those? If the threat of burst is too intense, just switch them up. It's not like there aren't tons of critters of low CR that have different schemes.
One thing that I find heartbreaking is how bad poison mechanics are in Pathfinder from a gameplay perspective. Poison used to mean something so having a fight with a bunch of CR 1/4 giant spiders that dealt 1d2-4 damage was still challenging because you were taking stat damage the whole time so even though your life was in almost no danger they were still painful and worked very well in mixed groups.
Unfortunately there is precious little to distinguish these enemies from one-another aside from their raw statistics. Orcs are melee incarnate, goblins will tear you apart in skirmishes, kobolds are surprisingly wily, and hobgoblins are just the warrior dudes, then you've got vermin and animals and so forth which are a little different here and there.
In all honesty though, goblins can and do wreck people if they aren't just made to suicide themselves. Your standard goblins are terrifying with massive stealth checks and the ability to seriously focus-fire down enemies.
I just don't see much point in defanging the monsters and I say this as someone who got too cocky and took an orc crit to the face on my last level 1 PC.
Yeah, Power Attack/Deadly Aim/Vital Strike are baked into the combat mechanics are just things that you can declare you're doing. Damage also rises with your BAB, so high level foes also have fairly decent offense even without being lavishly studded with bling.
For example, an 8th level Barbarian NPC with an 18 Str would deal 1d4+2d6+4 damage. They could power attack for 1d4+2d6+4+6. If they preformed a power attacking vital strike, they would deal 3d4+6d6+4+6 with their slingshot (av 38.5 dmg).
A character with lots of static damage on their attacks (such as from ability scores, enhancement bonuses, bardic music, etc) may be more inclined to make multiple attacks instead since those things aren't multiplied on a vital strike.
However, it's entirely practical for some characters (especially those with weapons like muskets or crossbows) to just forget typical static damage and iterative attacks and just try to blow cat-sized chunks out of enemies with a single power-strike each round.
Ashiel, I think you've missed a key point I've been trying to make: The goal here isn't to make encounters easier. Indeed, as you've pointed out, two orcs will take longer to kill than one, meaning they might actually deal more damage over the course of the fight. That's fine.
No, it's not fine. It means you have a greater risk of a TPK because instead of having a very small chance that one character is going to get chunked, you have a much larger chance that multiple PCs drop unconscious during the fight. With every PC that drops, damage output drops, resistance drops. So you're basically stacking it so that PCs have to do more damage to clear the fight but making it harder to avoid taking hits and dropping.
I'm not even getting into what I think about throwing handicapped orcs at the party because people don't like critical hits. Because that's really what this is about is not liking critical hits. It doesn't matter what the threat range is on the weapon, it's not liking that 2-3 hits worth of damage is going to kill someone.
Meanwhile, sleep + coup de grace.
Yes. Now the fight is likely to last much longer and give more attacks against the PCs. The PCs have to output twice as much damage to resolve the threat so unless the PCs are all pushing damage really hard, they are more likely to suffer greater amounts of damage over the course of the fight.
Greater damage means people fall down. When all the people fall down, you have a dead party. The club wielding orcs (even these physically handicapped orcs) can still down a party member in a single round by just pummeling them with twice as many attacks since they're still dealing DPR enough to drop squishies in 1 round and most everyone else in 2 rounds. Once you're down, you're not contributing to taking them out and there's 100% more meat to carve through now and carving down one of them just means you cut their DPR in half, not ended it.
The idea that this is an easier encounter because a less than 10% chance to kill someone with a sudden big hit is still insane. If an orc with +4 to hit needs to hit AC 14 (lowballing it) the orc has a 15% chance to threaten a critical and a 60% to confirm it, bringing the chance for a big crit to a 9% chance to actually nuke someone for 4d4+8 damage. If they've got a 16 AC, it drops to 7.5%. If they've got a 20 AC (chainmail, 14 dex, heavy shield) then there's less than a 5% chance a threat roll will result in a nuked PC.
But no, let's double the HP/actions of the enemy team. That'll balance it out, yep. As opposed to just, I dunno, giving the orc a mace or something. That would be too complicated, right?
In my opinion, Flight is very powerful, but only if the party has no ranged weapons, or they have methods of negating ranged attacks. Such as fickle winds, or a wind wall with a ray-based caster. By the time most party members can afford extended use or all-day flight options, most of the creatures you are fighting have got some pretty significant reach on them. There's not much benefit to flight if the cave is 20 ft. high and you're fighting a troll who can touch the ceiling.
Agreed. The only cases I see flight being that amazing is if you're fighting something that is out in the open where you can fly around (such as in an open field or maybe a sparse forest) and you have ranged attacking opportunities, and your enemy doesn't. And the only reasonable reason I can see that your enemy wouldn't is because they are a big dumb animal (or maybe at best a very intelligent animal). So you might punk a worg but you're going to get punked by a troll or orcs or goblins or anything that has proficiency with a slingshot or better. >_>
Fickle winds is an abomination but that's another topic. :P
EDIT: I take that back. Flight is actually freaking AWESOME in vertical encounters because it equates to movement and wicked cool moments. I was thinking about flight and combat and recalled a fight where my witch (*cough*psion*cough*) was hurled off a clocktower by a dragon. Then she zipped back up before hitting the ground and was like "Hi there". :3
Like, it's far from OP in those cases, it's just like refined badassery. :D
Also, more options for making effective eidolons that didn't just roflstomp enemies through lots of attacks. Alternative options like breath weapons are overpriced and underpowered. Like, top-end an eidolon can get a breath weapon that deals 15d6 with an easy save for half damage 1/day for 4 points, or a maximum of 3/day for 6 points. LAME. D:<
For the same cost in evolution points I could get +6 weapon attacks / round that I can use all freaking day. D:
As it is, eidolons fall into this weird situation where you're rewarded very heavily for specializing in blendering enemies because it's just so darn cost effective. But getting other abilities like DR, resistances, movement options, and things of that nature are very expensive (which is almost hilariously pointless since generic summoners get overland flight for goodness' sake). >_>
I mean Burrow at 1/2 land speed is 3 evolution points. DR 5/alignment costs 3 points and requires 9th level (woop-de-doo). Frightful presence as written sucks, costs 3 points, and requires 11th level. All of the "magic" evolutions (minor, major, ultimate) are all grossly limited in uses / day when limiting the pool of spells. Again, do I want scorching ray 1/day or +4.5 attacks? Dimension door? +4 attacks. Fast healing? You have to be 11th level to get FH 1, and it caps at FH 5 for a whopping 12 total evolution points (or +12 attacks).
The real question is, why would you do anything else other than just trying to be a raging killbot with lots of attacks? The only things that are competitively priced are in fact things that make you better at vomiting attacks (natural or manufactured) on your enemies until they cry uncle, or getting bigger (since growing to large size costs 4 points).
I mean, what do you expect players to choose when they have options like "Your eidolon doesn't have to breathe and is immune to effects the explicitly require you to breathe, but not gas or cloud effects or anything that doesn't explicitly note that it requires breathing" and "Your eidolon grows large getting +8 Str, +4 Con, +2 NA, -2 Dex, gets better reach"?
Maybe we should actually be buffing the hell out of a lot of the more expensive abilities in the form of price / level reductions and how they work so that it's at least equally attractive to make eidolons that do cool stuff other than just dosing up on tons of AC and attacks and pushing DPR like it was going for $100 an ounce.
I could generate a lot of aggro for saying this but having been skimming the APG eidolons for a bit, I actually see more I'd buff on them than nerf; mostly in terms of making certain abilities available earlier than the APG does.
If a nerf the eidolon must have, then limiting the total number of attacks that they can make to include manufactured weapons would be a massive nerf to them if you really felt like they needed it. Alternatively, you could change the cost of the Limbs evolution to 1 point plus 1 point for every Limbs evolution they've already got which would force diminishing returns rapidly (it'd cost a biped 4 points to reach 4 arms and 9 points total to reach 6 arms).
I also noticed something odd. The weapon proficiency evolutions are redundant because the Summoner class explicitly calls out the eidolon as an outsider and having outsider HD, unless an effect explicitly says otherwise (and it doesn't, according to a search through both the summoner and eidolon rules) then outsiders have proficiency with simple and martial weapons, making the weapon proficiency evolutions moot (not that I care, since honestly I find the natural-attack eidolons to be kind of boring since that's usually the most evolution point efficient way is to just get a truckload of claw attacks).
I'd make hooves not cost anything to replace claws with and make them primary attacks (there's no reason to ever take hooves, and it punishes you by making you spend points to suck because you want a cool horse-thing).
I think I'd probably toss the 5th level prerequisite for having a flying eidolon. IMHO, flight is overrated, even at low levels since ranged weapons are a thing or you're typically encountering enemies in areas where flying is impractical. More often than not, if flight would assure instant-victory, a horse and a bow would too.
I'd need to pop open the summoner and run through the specifics. Let me look it over (I'm currently preparing to head out of town for a week, but I'm gonna take a laptop and hopefully get to do some work on the RPG while I'm "on vacation" :P).
In the meantime, let me see if I can skim the summoner and toss out some ideas.
The encounter that he was describing is actually more likely to end with dead PCs because he's doubling the orcs in exchange for giving them cruddy gear and bad stats, but now you have to inflict twice as much damage over the course of the fight and given the orc a partner that can cover his flanks or provide a flanking buddy or harass multiple foes at once making it harder to keep the orcs from geeking the squishies.
So you're dealing with the same total damage but doubling the HP and action economy of the encounter and saying "Look how great I nerfed it, it'll be so much easier to survive now!", which is ludicrous.
James Jacobs wrote:
...trying not to get too worked up whenever someone spells it "liche" with that extra e...
You'd really love the typo in Final Fantasy tactics that got into the finished game. When you select a summoning spell from your menu and conjure your summon, it says the name of the summon monster, does a thing, and it vanishes. There's a lich summon that appears and takes a % of Hp from enemies.
Anyway, when you summon the Lich, it announces "Rich" instead.
Um, no it isn't. It's 9 damage on average either way except the clubs hit can hit for up to 14 damage where the 2d4+4 caps at 12, until you account for critical threats which is more complicated.
And the reason you don't have two orcs with 13 Strength is because orcs you fight are orc warriors. Their base Str is 13 as normal for an NPC warrior. You're setting their base Str at 9, which is an orc pansy.
Blasting is terrible vs zombies at low levels. Most zombies have at least two hit dice and toughness for 12+ Hp. When your blasting spells deal 1d4 damage and require you to be in fondling range of the zombies, you're just asking to die. I had a witch and wizard die in the same encounter this way because neither of them learned from their mistakes. One ran up and used shocking grasp for 3 damage and the other burning hands for 3, then the zombie proceeded to mash them into paste.
Likewise, weapons with brace are virtually all piercing weapons so the zombies are at best going to take normal damage from most low-level PCs since they're going to ignore the first 5 damage from piercing or bludgeoning weapons.
Tripping is legit, but mostly against humanoid zombies (animal zombies not so much) and even then said zombies tend to have a +1 BAB and a +2 or +3 Strength modifier which gives them a CMD of at least middling range, which means you might fail. It may also be asking to die if you don't have Improved Trip since you'll provoke.
Even reach weapons aren't certain because the zombies most easily tripped (humanoids) retain proficiency with their weapons which means you will likely encounter them with things like spears which even the reach playing field (spears being one of the most common weapons throughout history due to their simplicity and length).
What is less terrible is any sort of manipulation of terrain that prevents a zombie from charging or further hampers their already limited movement. Spells like grease or even over turning a table or chairs or anything that creates difficult terrain or cover helps a ton. Generally speaking your best bet is to actually brave the proverbial fire and let your friend with the greataxe/sword hack them to bits since ranged weapons suck against them.
Or use a lot of alchemist fire.
Another thing I'd like to bring up is you might consider your final encounter to actually be made of several encounters. Because of spells like clone or even astral projection, it's possible to encounter high end super bosses over multiple "phases" of the fight. It's actually not only possible for high-end bosses to be slain multiple times during the same encounter but it's downright practical for some of them.
When dealing with the queen of Cheliax, she may have some very impressive contingencies to her sudden demise. Perhaps after her former namesake, Abrogail the first was slain, she may have taken precautions. Maybe she's even signed an infernal contract so that when her soul reaches hell she is instantly made into a great devil as part of her dealings.
Without even getting too far flung, said sorceress could literally be slain 4 times without it getting too weird. For example, if she initially fought the party via astral projection she would have a copy of herself and her gear that she could plane shift back to the material plane while her body is in stasis. She then fights the party and gets defeated in phase #1. Redoubling her efforts, she then fights them for realsies, only to get slain in phase #2. She wakes up from her clone immediately when slain to teleport in an begin phase #3. When she is slain then, she finally returns to exact her revenge as a powerful evil outsider of immense power for phase #4.
Naturally additional minions and allies could add into each phase, such as her in final devil form swarming the city with devils through a gate spell or something, or otherwise doing all kinds of stuff worthy of Ghostbusters. You could really go nuts with it. :D
Those two encounter are great!
Thanks. Glad you like 'em. ^_^
For the sorc are you proposing to use NPC wealth?
Actually, yes. I know it probably sounds crazy with the way Paizo throws around PC wealth on major NPCs all the time but IMHO, PC wealth isn't that needed in cases like these and giving her PC wealth would increase her XP cost by 25,400 XP which would lose us a lot of NPC allies for what will mostly amount to a few more +1s here and there.
Of course, all those fiends have treasure values as well and you can shift them around in the encounter if you like. Assuming the medium XP progression the devils add the following treasure value to the encounter:
Each Bone Devil = +4,250 gp
You need to purchase the gear they'll use (like the erinyes' weapons), but anything left over you could funnel into other NPCs in the encounter (same with the CR 11 bodyguards) to give the queen more oomph.
Depending on whether you're using the CRB or the Bestiary I method for determining the queen's wealth (I usually use the more conservative Bestiary method), that gives you between 45,000 - 58,500 gp to herself to play with using NPC wealth.
Sounds great. :D
I'm glad someone got the joke. :P
Because people offered cookies are more likely to try cookies. My brother was pretty distant from the roleplay aspects of my campaign I started months ago, because he hadn't figured out a lot about his Paladin other than he was a Paladin and had a bible and sword handed down from his parents. He was mostly blank beyond that.
I stuffed some cookies in his mouth and not long after he might as well been blue and furry.
Trying to decide between specific discovery modifiers or perhaps just giving alchemists a passive -5% cost with an additional -5% cost for each bomb discovery taken. I feel like that might be a bit more elegant.
EDIT: Ayup, removed the specific discovery bits and gave alchemists a passive 5% cost reduction plus an additional 5% reduction for each bomb discovery taken, with a cap of 70% (which accounts for homebrew and 3PP discoveries and exceptionally liberal use of things like the Extra Discovery feat).
I'll just make a feat that lets you add extra effects to concoctions for status ailments and stuff. I think it'll be more balanced that way too as I can standardize them across the elements.
About a half hour ago I wrote and presented some alternate formulas for alchemy to my playgroup that I thought I'd share with you guys. Specifically, these are work in progress mechanics for those who really wish that you could get some appreciable benefits from investing ranks into Craft (alchemy) as it's pretty worthless even for alchemists since alchemical items don't scale.
EDITED: Edited the post to add some revisions.
EDIT: Revised again!
<== Alchemist Concoction Formulas ==>
Base Cost: This is the base market value of an alchemical weapon based on the base damage of the weapon. For every 2 ranks invested into Craft (alchemy) the alchemist can create an item that deals an additional 1d6 base damage and additional 1 point of splash damage.
Lingering: The weapon deals its base damage each round over additional rounds. Those struck with a lingering concoction can spend a full-round action to make a Reflex saving throw to negate the damage they would take that round (the DC is equal to the cocoction's DC +5). You cannot combine lingering and continuous in one item.
Continuous: The weapon deals its base damage over multiple rounds, divided by the number additional rounds. You cannot combine lingering and continuous in one item.
Spreading: Creatures caught in the item's splash radius take damage as if directly hit and creatures at twice the item's splash radius take splash damage. So an acid flask that targets 1 square with a 5 ft. splash radius now targets 4 squares with a 10 ft. splash radius.
Save Halves: The weapon allows a Reflex save for half damage when it first deals damage. Any continuous or lingering damage is likewise reduced if the initial save was successful. The save DC for an alchemical weapon is 10 + 1/2 the creator's ranks in Craft (alchemy) + the creator's Intelligence modifier.
Damage Types: Alchemical weapons can be made to deal acid, cold, fire, or electricity damage.
Alchemists with discoveries that modify the type of damage dealt by their bombs to something other than acid, cold, fire, or electricity can produce concoctions that deal the new type as well. If the discovery reduces the amount of damage that the bombs deal (such as the force bomb or sonic bomb discoveries) then the base damage of the concoctions are similarly modified (so an alchemist's fire that deals force damage deals damage in d4 increments instead of d6).
Additionally, alchemists reduce the cost to create concoctions by 5%, and an additional 5% for each alchemist discovery that modifies an alchemist's bomb class feature (to a maximum of 70% reduction).
Buying Alchemical Items: When purchasing alchemical items, prices and saving throw DCs are based on the minimum number of ranks required to create the item and an Intelligence modifier of 1/4 the ranks needed to create it (minimum +0). Continuous items are never available for purchase because lingering versions that deal the same amount of damage always require fewer ranks than continuous items.
Alchemist fire (20 gp): As alchemist fire.
Shock Rock (45 gp): This thin metal canister holds electricity trapped inside. When ruptured from impacting something it releases the stored energy violently. Those hit with it suffer 3d6 electricity damage (DC 13 save halves) and those in the splash radius suffer 3 electricity damage.
Frost Gum (100 gp): This sticky goo clings to anything it touches and rapidly absorbs heat before melting away. Those hit with it take 1d6 cold damage each round for three rounds. It deals 1 cold damage to any caught in the splash radius.
Biochemist's Demonstration (41,000 gp): When shattered, this horrific concoction immolates and dissolves anything that comes in contact with it. Those hit directly initially suffer 5d6 acid and 5d6 fire damage (DC 19 halves initial and subsequent damage), and everything in the splash radius takes 5 points of acid and 5 points of fire damage (DC 19 save halves). Each round thereafter for 9 rounds those hit by the weapon suffer 10d6 energy damage, alternating between acid and fire each round until it ends. Creatures suffering continuous damage can attempt a DC 24 Reflex save each round to prevent the damage that round.
Here are some ideas for encounters.
<== The Trick Encounter ==>
In this case, we'll take a standard pit fiend and swap Iron Will for ability focus [Trap the Soul] for +2 to the DC. We'll also give the pit fiend the NPC ability score shuffle (-1 Str, -1 Dex, -1 Con, -2 Wis, +4 Cha). Finally we'll give the pit fiend a +6 cloak of charisma as part of his 67,000 gp treasure pool. The net result is a pit fiend with a +15 Will save and a DC 33 trap the soul. Assuming no debuffs, the pit fiend only saves on an 18 and pretty much any debuff at all will bring him to 95% auto-fail chance.
Prior to facing down the pit fiend, set it up so that your PCs can acquire a magic item that spell-turns a spell with certainty (I'll give a sample one below) and this could be a sort of quest unto itself where you locate the mcguffin to give you an edge against the enemy who's really quite surely going to murder you without it. You'll want this to be kind of an up-front sort of plan, maybe suggested by an ally NPC who offers it as an option when discussing ways of avoiding the pit fiend or as a form of insurance in case the fiend makes an appearance.
Anyway, once the party acquires the spell turning item, the pit fiend should in his haste to immediately begin trapping the low-level (and thus, unlikely to resist) PCs souls in gems, he flubs and ends up pokeballing himself. At which point the PCs can claim the soul gem and even exact service from the pit fiend later.
At 13th level, a party should be able to slant it in their favor if they know the encounter is coming, including using things like limited wish or even a scroll of wish to ensure that he fails that save like a b****. <(^v^)7
<== Her Infernal Magistrix ==>
Since the party is 5 man strong, we'll increase the total budget of the encounter by +25% (for a 25% larger than 4 man party) for a total encounter budget of 128,000 XP. Her magistrix herself accounts for 51,200 XP worth of the budget, leaving us 76,800 XP for her support and minions. With this allotment, let's pull some devils out of a hat.
Her royal guard consists of three 12th level (CR 11) hellknights. We don't actually need the prestige class, you could make him a 12th level ranger or barbarian or something for simplicity. That leaves us with 38,400 XP. So now we'll account for some of her devilish servants.
She has three bone devils (CR 9) that harass her enemies by spamming things like dimensional anchor and wall of ice to irritate party members and split them up from one-another. These bone devils generally skulk about invisible and may teleport in to harass casters when left unguarded.
For further support, she has a pair of Erinyes that fly about and shoot with their bows and will chain fear SLAs to frighten VIP targets with no real save to deny them a round of actions (fear inflicts shaken on a successful save and shaken + shaken = frightened).
Finally she rounds it out with a trio of temptation devils. The temptation devils use Inspire Courage to improve the statistics of all the other knights, devils, and summons, and to throw darkness spells around. They may also attempt to charm or bite enemies when the opportunity seems right. They prefer not to engage enemies unless the enemies are divine casters who are in dire need of their venom. They are identical to lillend azatas except as follows.
<== Temptation Devils ==>
Types Azata changes to devil, chaos to law, good to evil.
Temptation devils are among the most subtle of infernals. They revel in tempting mortals to hedonism and self-gratification. They despise selfless devotion to gods good or evil and seek to teach mortals to seek their own divinity, often sharing any forbidden secrets they can or aiding mortals in getting what they want in life if they will only trust in them as they would their false gods. Practically, they are among the least dangerous of devils as they avoid violence whenever possible and tend to remain true to their words. Potentially, they are among the most dangerous because their safety makes it all the easier to lead mortals astray.
In combat they act as supporters and use their silky tongues to awaken confidence and arrogance in the hearts of others with honeyed words that have real impact. If threatened directly, they attempt to defend themselves by biting and constricting their enemies.
Hope this is helpful. (^-^)
Thanks for your perspective. I'll spend some time talking to him, and see where he wants to go.
No problem. Glad to be of any service that I can. :)
The summoner has always been one of those classes that I really want to love but always end up getting irritated with because it was poorly implemented. I might actually use the summoner for NPCs more often now, assuming I just house rule original summoner + unchained spell progressions.
I also like evolutions as a mechanic overall (even if they have some hiccups occasionally). I'd honestly be interested in seeing more variant classes that used evolutions like how the summoner gets aspect / greater aspect.
Then again, I love psionic shapeshifting and it reminds me of that a lot ("Here's some abilities, build your own monster"). I recently proposes a feat to my group that would allow manifesters to add effects from the metamorphosis line of powers to their astral constructs when they manifest them to get even more variety in their summons. I just haven't written the feat out yet (though they thought that sounded cool so it's pretty much a go when I do).
It's like the alignment axis.
Pretend mechanical mastery equates to law/chaos.
Lawful Good = You are awesome at this game.
Most optimizers will assure you that Charisma is a dump stat for a cleric unless you're using a particularly overpowered feat was published recently (which gives what amounts to Divine Grace to any divine caster). Channel Energy is a mild class feature that's nice to have but virtually never practical enough to consider when choosing ability scores.
I guess that, though I try to make characters that can aid a party, I am much more likely to choose ability scores, skills, languages, and the like based upon my characters' personal experience, and not what is necessarily best for the class. They have to have had some reason to become the class, so I wouldn't make a wizard with zero mental skills and all physical ones (seriously, they wouldn't want to be a wizard in the first place.)
I had a player whose wizard grew up on a rural farm doing hard labor who was later trained as a wizard as a gift to his father for showing a wandering wizard exceptional hospitality. So the party's wizard looked like a rural farmhand with impressive physique, moderate mental stats, and carried an axe.
The player wanted to play a wizard who buffed, blasted, abjured, and mixed it up in melee sometimes. He was quite well rounded and his Str and Con were greater than his Int for a very long time (and remained pretty close to it later).
Maybe if you can't fathom how X could equate to Y, you shouldn't be lecturing about fallacies because it seriously looks like you might understand neither side, let alone that the two mindsets are not opposed at all.
, but I don't seriously optimize. Thus, I tend to be a very, very roleplay oriented player with maybe a little bit of rollplay thrown in.
There are generally two major draws that this game has for people. The gameplay half and the roleplay half. Many people love both, but some who are inept at one are usually not at the other, or else they'd be inept at both the crunch and the fluff and that leaves little else so you'd probably be playing something else.
To be honest, I was shocked the first time I played with a true optimizer, as I saw them exchanging all sorts of concepts that would have worked with their character's personality for ones that didn't compliment the character that well. They worked very well on a gameplay standpoint, but seemed very uncharacteristic of the character in question.
TLDR: How do you balance roleplaying with rollplaying, and which one do you consider more important to your enjoyment of the game?
Both are important. However in the most literal sense the mechanics are more important to "playing D&D/Pathfinder" because people can happily enjoy playing through a story-lite or story-less dungeon crawling campaign using these games, however abandoning the mechanics means you aren't playing the game anymore you're playing Whose Line is It Anyway.
In the practical sense, I prefer a very healthy dose of both. I want to play the game and have fun and a big part of that fun comes from creating stylized characters, toying with various concepts, and creating stories.
How well do you work with roleplayers/rollplayers?
"Rollplay" supports "Roleplay" so extremely well. I've found that someone who knows what they are doing and understands the system are typically far more capable of making concepts work well in a party even if they are atypical and have their mechanics reflect exactly the sort of character they want to play.
I'd love to start a good discussion here on the topic, but let's try not to murder each other over our opinions. :)
Oh if you insist. *sheathes life-drinker*
I usually equip goblins with small light crossbows and bolts dipped in some non-Constitution based, short duration poison.
I usually include filth fever because their arrows are gross and disgusting, usually covered in rot, refuse, dung, and are frequently rusty. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
Well water breathing is a 3rd level spell for clerics, druids, and wizards/sorcerers so a 5th level NPC caster (who's merely CR 4 or even CR 3 if they lack reasonable NPC wealth) can cast it on your party. It's probably the earliest example of a "communal" spell in that it lasts 2 hours/caster level but lets you divide it up between multiple targets by splitting the duration.
So you can have 5 PCs at 2 hours each with a single casting. It's pretty legit. What can be kind of cool is a cavern with air pockets, tides, and other such things in them to act as an aquatic dungeon (maybe with aquatic versions of ankheg like burrowers that create vast coastal tunnels and such). It could super exotic if you wanted and you could even have little amphibious communities inside of them.
This reminds me of a conversation about zombies we had on skype. I'll include the summary at the end of this post.
It's an interesting subject. One thing I opted for when experimenting with some variant undead in previous years was mindless undead with aligned subtypes representing particular powers being the driving forces behind what is usually a mindless automaton.
I'd probably like to approach this sort of thing in much the same way that juju oracles originally did, wherein the aligned undead aren't mindless so much as they are possessed shells or husks that contain spirits that are aligned to your character's preferences. I'd actually like to have three major types of mindless-undead sorts.
1. Automatons (the common ones).
With the ghosts in the shell sort of approach you'd have characters calling on spirits to aid them, malevolent or otherwise. This might be represented by calling lesser daemons into the undead husks, or it might be giving temporary vessels for ancient viking ancestors to rise up and do battle against a great foe once more, or it might be calling upon some more benevolent force to call guardian spirits to defend.
Such as in this very awesome scene from Death Vigil #1.
I use a variant of ghoul to represent this sort of thing in some of my games which I call a "feral ghoul", which is essentially a ghoul-like monster of animalistic intelligence that is primarily motivated by their hunger for flesh. They aren't even in the same ballpark in terms of cunning typical to normal ghouls. They might also represent ghouls that have been driven to madness from abstaining from eating flesh (especially if by force, such as being trapped without a meal for an extended time) until their hunger overrides everything else and their mind breaks down to a child-like state to cope with the stress.
When it comes to the unchained summoner, I mostly feel like they tossed the baby with the bathwater. My #1 complaint about the summoner was and has always been their spell list and how abusive it was. The eidolon itself, or even the summoner's other class features I was actually just fine with. It was purely just their spell list when combined with those other aspects that put it way over the top for me (because you were literally a one-man party).
I agree with you that reducing the evolution points was a poor answer. If you really needed to nerf the eidolon, I'd rather have seen it more restricted in terms of what kinds of evolutions you could give them based on level, or just tweaking the costs vs rewards of some of the evolutions. More options with a lower ceiling would be my preferred way to go about it (and it makes it harder to accidentally screw up if you're a newbie). Clearer level-limits would be cool too (like organizing the evolutions based on what levels they became available and clearly noting it, rather than an afterthought at the end of the ability's text).
Unfortunately further, the Wild Caller is just strait up worse than a summoner as every trade it makes in terms of class features is a bad trade. For example, trading summon monster spells for summon nature's ally spells is just a terrible, horrible idea, unless they are getting some sort of buff to them. Remember that summon monster spells summon templated versions of what are usually comparable animals (which means they can smite, have SR, and some resistances), and later on gives you access to a number of intelligent allies, spells, and even class features (such as summoning a lillend to act as a bard for the party).
Further, the bonus evolution points are a joke for the restrictions that you set on your eidolon (you get 1 evolution point at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 20th level, for a total of +5 evolution points, but you're restricted from taking any sort of magical evolutions, damage reduction, restricted on skilled, etc. Just neutering your eidolon.
Same with the SLA. Trading out the SLA for a worse SLA with no appreciable benefit other than worse summons and fewer options mixed with having to have Handle Animal to push your summons if you have a GM that won't let you command your summons in the usual fashion, no access to outsiders and other sweet summons. Just terribad by comparison to the normal summoner.
And if you plan to act as a full caster, traditional summoner shouldn't be played as a full-caster for most of their career, it's about being a full-caster when you need to and not casting when you don't need to (which is a very, very powerful thing, though people don't seem to grasp that you do not have to cast spells every round to have insanely powerful magic just when you need to). However, trying to BE a full caster with the weakened summoner progression is definitely going to leave the player wanting as they are going to now (rightly) get their spells at a stunted progression which means having lower level spells than their full-casting peers.
Honestly the Paizo staff probably hates me at this point. First I disliked the summoner because due to its spell list it was goofy OP in the hands of someone who really knew how to play. Now I dislike the summoner because they nerfed too much in my opinion and now I don't even care about the class for its most iconic feature (the eidolon).
I'd probably suggest.
1. Tear out the Wild Caller archetype and use it when you forget to buy toilet paper.
Still, if it's more of a supporter with a cool pet you're looking for, a quick and dirty alternative might be to build a variant summoner that's essentially a sorcerer but instead of bloodlines you get summoner class features, maybe with a stunted evolution pool (say 1/2 the normal pool) to make up for the fact that you can share-spells with your eidolon so you have to get a lot of your meatshield's oomph from expending your now improved spells.
Essentially a super-familiar.
I must admit to being in the minority as I actually really like the magic item creation rules and just mostly feel that they need better explanations and clarifications on the % cost reductions*, handling spells vs standard bonuses ("No, constant mage armor is not an alternative to bracers of armor, but it might be an additive to make them work against incorporeal attacks"), and so forth.
(* Item Price Reductions):
Which were not RAW in 3.x but located in a Behind the Screen sidebar in magic item creation which was explicitly called out as not being part of the actual rules at the very beginning of the DMG, but they were included in the SRD and everyone tries to go nuts with 'em, despite the section in question explaining that these reductions are for special themed items like the robes of the archmagi or holy avenger which have lots of bunched themed abilities of relatively minor power. The % reductions are for making these types of items affordable despite the penalties you get for combining multiple effects. They were never intended to be used for things like normal magic items like rings of protection that could only be used by chaotic good barbarians that cost coppers on the gold.
That said, Aratrok and I have discussed including some variant magic item rules including (but not limited to) items that have statistics tied to your level (so instead of having ring of protection +X you simply have ring of protection), alternate means of handling magic items, options for removing magic items completely, options for Final Fantasy-esque games where you unseal magical abilities from an item (like how magicite works in FF6 or spells unlock from gear in FF9), and so forth.
One thing I'm really quite interested in is a variation where instead of having specific slots you instead have X number of magic items that can be active at once, regardless of slot usage, with options to increase the number of active items you could have at once.
I would personally like to keep the ability to craft items beyond what spells you can actually cast because I adore that mechanic for world building purposes. Though perhaps you could limit the tier of magic items based on some sort of prerequisite, such as requiring someone to hit a particular milestone to craft moderate, and then major magic items (which is 100% based on the cost of the item I might add). I also like that how the creation of magic items and what they are made of is muted, because it opens up room for creativity.
One of my favorite things to do when I'm a player is to craft magic items out of the stuff we find. So if we for example slay a young blue dragon, it's hide has value as a special material and then we find some amulets and a ruby circlet, so I just use all those things as the costly material components to make the barbarian a cloak of resistance made from tanned dragon hide with a ruby clasp and chains. If I can afford it, I might add electricity resistance to it for thematic effect since I get a 25% discount for dragonhide (if the GM allows it since it's not technically armor).
Yeah, it's not escaped me that having less options for an alpha-strike is innately a major weakness, nor has it escaped me that a lot of people have extremely short encounters (and while I feel that ultimately this is due to poor encounter design more often than not, it's a thing that is commonplace) which would make it less than ideal.
The current theory I'm working with is a mixture of passive and active methods for generating your resource on the go, including but not limited to things like swift and immediate actions, physical attacks, and special standard actions.
For lack of a better analogy, my brother plays a protection warrior in World of Warcraft. He has a number of abilities that are active that generate his resource, then he has a number of other abilities that he can expend that resource to do cool things. I'll probably end up doing something like that, with mechanics a bit similar to the gunslinger rewrite I did where certain abilities generate resource and certain others are resource dumps.
Aren't trolls better with their claws?
Depends on how you define better, really. Your typical troll has 1d6+5 damage over two claws at +8. Since these were warrior trolls (with slightly shifted point buys as appropriate, based on the arrays for nonheroic warriors) their claws were +10 and 1d6+6 (9.5 average damage). However, they carried large masterwork glaives so their weapon attacks were at +11 for 2d8+9 (18 average damage, plus reach).
Assuming that the trolls could hit with both claw attacks and activate Rend, their damage would definitely be higher since they'd potentially have bite/claw/claw->rend for massive damage. However, trolls are rather lumbering for large creatures (30 ft. speed) and wearing armor didn't help in that regard (their AC went up but their speed went down) and their natural attacks relied on getting off a full-attack (which means that in many cases their foes may simply opt to provoke a single bite attack on the way out instead of standing there and trading blows with them).
As a result, the reach weapons made their already impressive 10 ft. reach a 20 ft. reach, which made avoiding them harder and allowed the large trolls to reach over or around their smaller allies without getting too congested (and also provide flanking from great distances).
The trolls still had the option of simply dropping their glaives if someone was right up in melee with them and full attacking them with their natural attacks if it seemed like a good idea.
Unfortunately for the mercenries, while those trolls were very strong in melee combat (AC 22 with their breastplate plus regeneration 5), they were noticeably very poor in Will saves and their Charisma (usually a 6, adjusted to 4 from nonelite warrior array) was pretty terrible, so when the party's mind-****ers started droping charm effects on them, they folded like oragami. So the next thing you know, the three trolls are whacking mercenaries like professional golfers and running amok. :P
While it's not allowed by the rules, I'd have no issue with it myself. Generally speaking it's better for PCs to be over WBL than under, and due to the exponential cost increases of items, wealth will still be the most limiting aspect of all, as always.
I can second that nickle-and-diming bit with the half-damage blasts. After one trap with multiple Delayed Blast Fireballs killed 2 party members but "somehow" the two with Rings of Evasion survived, I assure you they will never underestimate evocation or evasion again.
Amen to that. Evocation sits in a weird place because it rests in the middle of "underpowered" and "overpowered" in a weird way. You'd think that sounds like "ideal balance" but it's a bit more complex. In a traditional party with 1 offensive caster, blasting feels underwhelming compared to the other sorts of things that can be done. However, when you can layer blasts, it very quickly becomes terrifying and one of the most certain methods of putting pressure on most anything (especially your PCs).
For example, if you're dealing with something that's got 80 hit points, the average damage of a 5d6 fireball (17.5) isn't very impressive. It's even less impressive if they save and reduce it to about 8.75. However that's 8.75 damage that they're not easily getting out of unless they've padded their resistances. Because of this chip damage, PCs can still be threatened by repeated attacks over and over or have multiple blasts hit them in rapid succession. For example, if you have an encounter with four 5th level wizards (a CR 8 encounter) all pushing the fireball at the PCs, each is going to deal damage unless the PCs are sporting fire resistance (or evasion and successful saves). Even if they save against 100% of the incoming spells, everyone in the AoE has just eaten about 35 damage from the volley. That's a lot of pressure, especially if the pressure can be maintained (and it can because they can keep casting).
EDIT: I should point out that it's also hellishly effective at breaking morale. I don't mean in terms of fear-effects or game effects, I'm talking in terms of putting your PCs on edge. In fact, almost any sort of damage that is chipping away at them can. Taking even small amounts of damage over and over and over again can quickly make the PC feel like they're living on borrowed time.
As a result, mooks that lob AoEs or spam magic missiles or similar things will often generate a ton of aggro from players who get very nervous very quickly (and rightly so) of the fire giant's minions lobbing low-level fireball spells around.
At high levels the only way the party's cohorts ever came out alive from combat was through judicious use of Breath of Life (yet another spell I will never underestimate again). The only reason this kept happening was that despite getting the wealth of 4 players they severely undercut their cohorts, and their defenses suffered for it later on. If they had learned to spread the wealth more the fights wouldn't have been so swingy.
In all honesty, if the PCs had converted more of their offense gear into more defense gear for their cohorts (defensive items are usually about 1/2 the cost of equivalent offensive items) they probably would have had much easier encounters overall since you typically get enough offense from your class and levels and the extra action economy could have been leveraged to effectively zerg major threats.
Chengar Qordath wrote:
If so, it's still a feature that bugs me a little. High learning curves/system mastery gaps tend to make it a lot harder for players of varying skill levels to have fun in the same game.
It's very noticeable when players haven't played their characters and just randomly start at high levels. They can be hilariously inept at what they're doing regardless of class. One of the most hilarious sessions I ran was back when I was a teenager and our usual group plus a few others wanted to make and play some high level characters in a high level game when none of them had ever played past about 7th level before. They were all hands and left feet, often tripping themselves up moreso than enemies.
All the encounters in the dungeon were super below their level (like CR 11-15 being the average for the 20th level party) and it was a good thing too, because they were left gobsmacked by some of the encounters as they fumbled through them like the epic-stooges.
World of Warcraft had a similar issue. Because the game has so many expansions out at this point, they introduced a feature that allows you to get a character scaled up to the level of the new expansion so you can begin playing the new expansion as soon as you get it. However, a lot of players were completely inept at playing their new characters because they skipped the learning phase of the game for their class, so Blizzard implemented a special tutorial area for those who leaped up without the training.
GMs can provide these sorts of learning tutorials for players. I know that when I'm dealing with new players I usually try to hit lots of bases and teach players more about the game organically. I'll teach them tactics by letting NPCs demonstrate those tactics (usually on the PCs :P). Introducing new concepts to PCs like this often works wonders I've found and can be done in a relatively "safe" ways by doing so with weak or few monsters before they get to high levels where it's like "oh crap, did you just say fifteen fireballs!?" is a thing.
Note that I said harder, not impossible. Optimized players can tone things down and/or give advice to help out the new players, after all. And there are plenty of gamers who won't get bothered that Jim's PC is more effective then theirs, or that Bob's PC doesn't contribute very much to the party beyond the pleasure of his company.
One of my favorite things that the 3.x DMG did was discuss how the game changes and the kid gloves come off as levels rise. I honestly wish that instead of trying to make high levels like low levels with bigger numbers that we could instead get more support for learning about gameplay at higher levels for players and GMs.
Maybe I'll try to make a youtube video or something if I get some time and try to do a tutorial on high level play like people do tutorials for PC games.
Chengar Qordath wrote:
The thing is, we have to accept that levels mean something. The scale of what sorts of things you are dealing with changes. The issues arise when players and GMs refuse to learn or adapt to what higher levels mean.
And yes, the guy who just like swords is indeed very limited. This is a frequently recanted problem for fighters. Less so to Paladins, Rangers, and Barbarians because they usually have means of adapting and while they lack narrative power in and of themselves they serve very important roles for a party and with a few nice magic items can even deal with things like planar shenanigands.
Also, I would say that the fact that there is such a high learning curve involved in High level play is an issue. I've also managed to play and enjoy high level games, but I definitely saw some problems too. Though I will concede that a lot of those issues might not have been system ones so much as player ones. The system mastery gap gets a lot more noticeable at level 15 than it is at level 5.
It's arguably a feature.
Comparing it to a video game such as World of Warcraft, newbies start with a couple of little abilities, battles are simple tank and spank routines, eventually once they've mastered those they learn things like dispels and face some slightly more challenging fights that teach you about things like neutralizing poison and curses or warding your heroes against fear effects.
Of time, you acquire more abilities and options that serve specific purposes, increasing the complexity of your options along with your power so that you are constantly learning and evolving as a player to overcome the challenges. You learn that tactics need to change depending on the situation and there is no certain strategy for every encounter.
By the time that a new tier of obstacles arrives, you should be comfortable with the lessons learned of the past 6 levels or so, allowing you to focus on experimenting with new options while having those as fallbacks without option paralysis.
Now you're ready for this like this as major enemies are supported by multiple weaker foes that serve various purposes during battles, where environment and terrain matters, and where dealing with buffs and debuffs in real time is something that you can do. You're not just tank and spanking an owlbear, you're fighting demons that conjure more demons as their cultists harass players with spells and abilities.
It's not 20 levels of "I just attack it like I've been doing since 1st level" and that's a good thing. It means that higher level fights are suitably more epic and challenging as they should be.
And again, I said then you learn. This is parallel to my comment about create water earlier. It reminds me of a thread a while back where a GM felt like the martial folks in a group were really OP because all he used were things like owlbears and everyone in the party used heavy armor and carried shields and stuff.
You do not fit the circle into the triangle. You should not. Everything exists for a reason. If generic beatsticks were so strong that they didn't need any buffing on the NPC side then they're going to slaughter everyone with buffing - OR - buffing won't matter enough to warrant doing so, and then it just becomes a slobberknockfest.
I use martial foes frequently in my games and they can frequently serve as the "core" of an encounter. But simple problems are solved easily. As you say here, it's a tendency of a GM. The problem is and has always been in this case the GM. PCs have enough wealth (normally) to be able to get iconic benefits of a mixed party through items (boots of speed for example and lots of ways to fly even if temporarily).
Generally speaking, the GM that has problems with making use of his or her toolbox is also a GM who typically has boring encounters because there's not much difference between meatstick A and meatstick B and if you make a lot of differences then they are no longer "simple enemies".
Even if you build super tank-y. All that means is that you either can't be hit or die really fast against an enemy that can actually hit you. Hitting a sweet spot can be very difficult with simple enemies.
There is no rule that PCs should be hit so more is more. Defense is also a multi-layered thing and at high levels you're dealing with a lot of advanced tactics, teamwork, and buffs/debuffs. Likewise, with the myriad of ways that you can attack someone, being tanky is important. Tanky does not equate solely to AC.
Let's take a CR 13 Storm Giant with a [u]baseline routine[/u] of +27/+22/+17 to hit at 4d6+21 (35av) per swing.
A 15th level PC martial in medium armor will probably have around a low 40s AC (+4 mithral breastplate, +4 heavy shield, +5 natural armor, +4 deflection, +1 insight, +5 dex = AC 41). The Storm Giant can hit the AC on a roll of 14/19/20, reducing the giant's DPR vs the martial to about 15.75. A solid defense as you probably have well over 100 HP.
Take away the shield and it becomes 8/11/14 or about 40.75. You're taking about 150% more damage per round from the storm giant if you're slugging it out. Keep in mind, this is an unbuffed giant that's beneath your CR grade so you can face multiple giants or more frighteningly mixed groups of giants which may mean buffs like haste or enlarge person coming into play. As your AC drops, the giant's offense skyrockets (if the giant hits with all of his attacks, barring criticals, he deals an average of 105 damage in a single round) and if the giant is being supported by a CR 10 wizard (6th level spells) as a martial would be, the giant is very likely wielding a +X weapon from greater magic weapon, may have stoneskin active, may have heroism or greater heroism up, may have bardic music active (lillend), and incoming CC and debuffs to yourself.
You may also have to beware the immunities that the giants have. Their immunity makes them ideal as fodder while other creatures or hazards spread electricity damage with no concern for their safety (such as lightning bolt or chain lightning being thrown around), which is where your resistances will need to come into play as they help to prevent chip-damage from "x for half" things.
It's a simple mixed group but it illustrates that high level play equates heavily to advanced play. It's not about just making attack rolls. It's about working together and/or leveraging your special advantages.
One of the big issues that I see with people talking about high level play breaking down is their pushing the game towards rocket tag and then complaining about it. There are a lot of "common knowledge" things that will strait up get you killed and frequently at high levels of play.
For example, the classic Offense>Defense. The idea has some merit in the idea that killing your enemies means your enemies taking less actions which means your enemies don't get to kill you. A common example of this is people telling players not to build as tanks, or even saying crazy things like "AC doesn't matter".
The thing is, at high levels your GM is dealing with very large XP budgets when building encounters and it's nothing to encounter fairly large groups of enemies who still have abilities that are relevant enough to harm you. Further, in mixed groups of enemies and their leaders, many of them will have statistics higher than their base bestiary statblock because they will be using buffs and treasures. Many common buffs mimic the effects of the "big six" without bloating treasure values (things like greater magic weapon, shield of faith, magic vestment, barkskin, resist energy, etc). Common buffs like this provide NPCs with temporary but suitable means of challenging PCs who are much better geared than they are (the reverse can be true as well in some corner cases).
Having been playing the game for many levels up to these levels, players should have at least a basic grasp of common tactics such as movement, buffing, debuffing, and taking out priority enemies, so a lot of the high level stuff gets pretty advanced. The lower levels are essentially the training wheels phase so you'll already expect certain things and have a grasp on how to deal with them (such as protecting yourself against negative levels, energy damage, how to heal ability damage, etc).
If we ignore the "common wisdom" of offense>defense and strive to spec for surviving, we can weather the storm of many, many enemies, and survive against burst-damagers long enough to take them apart by exploiting their piddly defenses or by working as a team to disable them quickly.
Chengar Qordath wrote:
Well if you want to make that argument then 100% of the game is broken. If you don't take into account what is customary at that tier of play then you're asking for trouble. It's like arguing that the game is broken because clerics have create water and your plot involved stealing their waterskins.
I made all the mistakes too. Then I learned.
Yeah I don't have much trouble (if any) with high level games either. They mostly just require you to understand the nature of the beast.
James Jacobs wrote:
Some sort of chef or cooking based archetype that is strongly empowered by using specific herbs and spices, particularly mint, as it would give you a reason to rebel to save your class features, since all of the proclamations leading up to rebellion in the Player's Guide are either mildly annoying or very reasonable.
Except the prohibition of mint. Those scoundrels.
The current plan is that the standard recovery method for any "daily" resources is that a character can recover any of those resources they haven't used in the last 8 hours by resting/studying/meditating/practicing/whatevering for an hour.
Yeah, this is actually one of my favorite things because we're standardizing the way classes with daily resources recover them.
Some classes may have other resources though. One thing I'm looking into developing at the behest of my brother is a class that revs up with combat, similar to warriors from WoW. As in the class begins at 0 and each action generates more whupass power to be expended for liberal smackdowns and/or heroic action.
I look forward to working on it. :)
Well with psionics, you can spend a short period (1 hour) to meditate and recover all your PP with the caveat that you can't recover any PP used in the past 8 hours. Pathfinder casters have a similar limit on spells (any used in the last 8 hours cannot be recovered) but the rule is mostly redundant aside from complications with rest-interruptions.
I like the psionics version more because...well, let's say you're doing a travel adventure. At 8 am, your party has an encounter and you burn some PP. Later at noon, your party does some stuff. A while later you stop and take a rest and recover the PP you used at 8am in time for the encounter that evening.
I'll see what I can do overall though. I'm not super concerned about buffing casters in these sorts of ways because casters are being tweaked in other ways (including some stealth-nerfs to casters in the form of poor saves not being so poor).
I know psionics does this with Overchannel. I might make something kind of like that as a default option. I do have some bad news though. We've still got vancian-ish casting (because people still like it), though it's much closer to sorcerer/arcanist casting and is balanced a bit differently. We'll be including psionics too of course but both styles are still here. :o
The ability for casters to work together to accomplish feats of magic they otherwise couldn't. I believe 3E/Forgotten Realms had Circle Magic, primarily used by the Red Wizards of Thay in the Realms. It's a very common trope in fantasy of all sorts to pool abilities together to do something that is above any one person's capabilities.
I'll look into this. :)
This is an interesting one and I'll try to come up with something, though it will need to be carefully orchestrated because that's a really big deal and I'd like to not introduce mechanics that would be misused by players or GMs.
Well you'll be pleased to know that one of the design standards we're going with includes lots of things with degrees of success. Generally, succeeding by more nets a better result and failing by more nets worse results.
An example of how this works is with flesh to stone. Beat someone's Fortitude and they begin turning to stone becoming staggered and suffering penalties. Beat their Fortitude by 10 and they're a lawn ornament.
Similarly, if you're fighting a werewolf and it uses a fear-effect howl on the party, the same ability could shaken, frighten, or panic members of your party depending on how much it beats your Will saves by.
Similarly still, in some cases getting better results in things like skills will net greater successes (kind of like how Knowledge skills give more info with higher checks now).
Virtually all save or die effects are now massive success/failure type things. So you're very likely to just slaughter hordes of mooks with your save or die effects but actually sticking a SoD to a level-appropriate enemy will generally just hurt a lot.
I'm not talking about any specific classes. In fact, I have no dog in the kineticist fight because I don't have any real interest in Occult Adventures beyond academic interest in the system. It doesn't matter to me how well the kineticist performs (unlike the core classes that I care about, or did care about).
I was referring to the fallacious idea that "energizer bunny vs resource expenditure" has traditionally been a bad argument and continues to be a bad argument. It always ends badly for the bunny, where the resource guys either don't need to use those resources in endurance games or they do and the guy with no resources is screwed either way.
+1 every day of the week until I die to this. People don't understand that it's a matter of cost required. Classes with resources can do these marathon type situations just fine because if we're dealing with 16 encounters worth of enemies today it will fall into two categories.
1. The encounters are appropriately weaker than typical encounters and thus those with resources can keep up just fine (usually be needing less or no resources at all to mop up).
2. The encounters aren't appropriately weaker, in which case the classes that lag behind because they aren't balanced for resource usage get screwed because now they're operating at sub-par for 16 encounters.
It also means the resource-less class cannot rev up for fewer, bigger encounters, which also sucks for them.
Man, next game I run I'm using volcanoes. I have NOT been using the environment rules enough at all!
Oh I highly recommend it. I use the environment rules pretty regularly because they can turn the mundane into the extraordinary and very quickly bring the threats of adventuring to the forefront of someone's mind.
Even the simplest of encounters can be made into explosively intense scenes when the environment is a factor.
For example, a battle with a fire elemental is okay. A battle with a fire elemental in a smoke-filled room with a spreading fire is better. An encounter with a marsh dwelling shambling mound is part for the course but when you factor in things like the mud, water, fog and so forth it not only makes the battle more exciting it paints a more detailed picture.
The average damage for an ancient red dragon's breath weapon is so hot that in three seconds it can destroy an entire suit of mundane full plate mail in three seconds. Not damage, not warp, destroy, as in there is nothing left to fix. This is hotter than lava. That same dragon can snatch (the feat) an adventurer into their jaws and pin them in their jaws so they cannot dodge or evade their breath weapon (it even prevents them from making a Reflex save and you normally get Reflex saves even if you're lying around unconscious). The PC receives the full force of this breath weapon.
Most level-appropriate martial characters won't even be knocked unconscious by this hellfire-like heat but will instead angrily full-attack the dragon with their axe or sword until the dragon decides to spit them out.
Yes, YOU and I would lose our arms if we were touched by lava. We're 1st level adult commoners. The most robust in the world have 15 hit points (max d6, +5 Con, favored class commoner, toughness feat) but most of us have 3 Hp and a negative Hp threshold of 10. Contact with lava (even a tiny bit) deals 2d6 fire damage (average 7) per round and will probably begin killing us instantly. Submersion in lava deals 20d6 damage per round which means its minimum damage will kill us instantly and its average damage would kill the most robust commoner twice over instantly.