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Ashiel's page

RPG Superstar 2015 Star Voter. 10,180 posts (10,183 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.

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Honestly speaking, I've found mithral to be the go-to material for a lot of equipment for fiends (the fact it counts as silver which pierces the DR of many other fiends is a plus as well) because of the 1/2 weight thing. For example, in my revised marilith, she's wielding mithral longswords. Keeps the weight down.

Darkwood is similar but you don't find a lot of wooden items. That said, there's something kind of cool about the idea of a staff-wielding marilith...

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Similarly, imagine what happens when antagonists use their defenses intelligently. For example, the badguys presumably know where their traps are set and placed. So what happens when the badguys use that knowledge?

Even if it's just a 15 x 30 room and is otherwise nondescript, the addition of a pit trap in the room changes everything. If your enemy's shaman is standing behind it, when you rush him, you can very likely fall inside (likely removing you from the fight at large and allowing enemies to poke at you with ranged attacks from the edges).

What if there are spikes in the floor activated by stepping on the foorplates? The enemies know where these are but the PCs don't, and can use that to their advantage. So the PCs either have to follow the steps of the NPCs to make sure they don't get stabbed or they have to risk it and hope their Reflex saves are going to save 'em.

Even just having a mixed group of enemies act with simple, obvious tactics can make for a wonderfully brilliant encounter! For example, if you have a cleric and mage antagonist working together, the cleric commands a bunch of skeletal critters while the mage drops negative energy and cold spells all over the party knowing that the skeletons are immune to them. You can switch it up and make them burning skeletons and the mage can chuck fireballs instead. Suddenly the party's morale is going to falter quickly as the artillery can ruthlessly strike them with no considerations for friendly fire. (o_O)

Want to know what's surprisingly frightening even at mid to high levels? Magic missile. If your enemies have some low CR mages (like 3rd level NPC wizards) who chuck lots of magic missiles around, it can make you really nervous really fast. Sure, 2d4+2 isn't so bad when you're like 6th-8th level. However, 6d4+6 is a lot scarier, and when you have literally no hope of defending against the attack, knowing that those little wizardly bastards can chuck that out virtually every round of the fight is really scary for whomever is being harassed by it.

That actually happened to one of the PCs in the game Aratrok was playing. If my brother had've been playing a Fighter instead of a Paladin, he would have just strait up died from magic missile spam from these three goblin sorcerers (one of which was "Jum-Jum" prior to his surrender).

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I mostly just mean if you're following the rules as they are, the game's pretty brutal. I mean, there's tons of dangerous stuff, and lots of monsters are really dangerous. This is doubly so for iconic monsters like basilisks, mummies, but also just generally applies to monsters that are actually using their strengths.

Let's take the average Tiger. Most of its statistics are fairly modest for a CR 4 creature (especially in terms of defense). If you just drop it onto the field and be like 8bit theater's random "we're monsters, lets fight" joke, then this isn't even a fight really so much as it's just animal abuse.

However, let's look at the tiger for a moment.
1. Their ecology puts them in forests and places likely to have tall grass.
2. Tigers have a rather impressive Stealth skill (+7) that gets better in their habitat (+11).
3. The normal rules for Perception make the tiger's Stealth effectively +1 better for every 10 ft. between the tiger and its prey.
4. Tigers have scent and a very high Survival skill, allowing them to track and stalk prey for quite a while.
5. Tigers have pounce and are quite physically strong in terms of Strength.
6. Tigers have low-light vision in forests (where dim lighting can be a frequent norm).

Suddenly, this tiger is actually a scary creature. You're very likely to never notice the tiger is stalking you until it's too late. If it waits until it's only it's movement speed away from you (40 ft.) so it can charge during the surprise round, it's sitting at what is effectively a +11-15 effective Stealth. If it's taking 10, the DC to notice the tiger is about 21-25. At 4th level, that's still a pretty hard sell for most PCs.

At this point, the tiger opens combat and probably 1-shots somebody during the surprise round with its full attack + rake routine thanks to pounce. It'll probably go for the weakest looking individuals. After downing someone, the tiger will likely grab its downed prey and run off with them instead of continuing the fight.

This is how tigers actually hunt people in places like the Sunderbans. It's scary, it's effective. All we did was to have a tiger act like a tiger instead of a bag of HP.

This is kind of what I mean by the game being really hard. Unless you are actively making your NPCs and/or adventures dumb, there is much that threatens the safety of the party.

When we start getting into supernatural powers that many common, even low-CR enemies have, it starts getting even scarier.

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Aelryinth wrote:

Uh, he set her at CR 15, gave her gear.

What if he set her at CR 19, and THEN gave her gear? How do the numbers change? For an NPC, maybe not much, but for PC wealth? That's a huge leap.


Since the rules explicitly say that the extra wealth is scaled to help keep them relevant with their CR, arbitrarily increasing her CR would indeed give her more wealth, which would improve her slightly.

PC wealth seems like a non-issue. Not sure why it matters but PC wealth is an additional effect on top of the NPC, resulting in an additional +1 CR.

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Mathius wrote:
That is just epic. Even if the PCs can find a way to burrow, fly, swim, resist cold, and see through fog they will have used a huge number of resources just to deal with the terrain.

Sean K. Reynolds once said that the game is stacked in the PCs favor and is super dooper easy and stuff (obvious paraphrasing is obvious I hope). I asked him what game he was talking about exactly... >_>

This game is brutal. If you're fighting in anything but nondescript rooms of x by y size, this game gets crazy interesting really, really fast. The environment chapter is full of all kinds of crazy-amazing little things that spice up...everything. :O

Heck, even just taking standard bestiary creatures and mixing them up in unique and interesting ways can be incredibly challenging. Especially if you consider things like ecologies and/or why creatures are where they are and act like they're living creatures who want to go on living.

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Aratrok wrote:

Hey, wouldn't be the first time Paizo biffed on a stat block. Remember when the NPC codex tried to tell people its NPCs were going to full attack with Spring Attack? Or they had ogres wielding weapons they had no idea how to use? Or the core rulebook claimed that NPCs had a CR of level-2, which ran counter to the bestiary? Or claimed fighters were ever the CR they're marketed as?

Good times.

Or when they said a mayor of a town with expert levels was like CR 10? Whoo boy, they be crazy. :P

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Aelryinth wrote:

Well, it's good then that we've a previous example of a Paizo-made succubus/anti-paladin with amazingly equal class levels to use as a guideline.

And she's CR 19, not 15. Higher CR then the Paizo-made Transmuter/13, which clocked in at 17. So, I'm guessing that for succubi, paladin and anti-paladin levels are considered key levels.

The fighter example is there because class levels are base CR in calculation. Yet somehow our demon paladin is to be assessed on pure offensive ability, and not compared after being equipped, but before being equipped.

Which is strange. YOu took her at her weakest, match her up to a dragon for deadliness on the attack, then give her her gear. Very strange, indeed.


I'm a bit confused. I was definitely under the impression that Aratrok included gear in her writeup. Let me go check.

Hm, yep, that's right. She has appropriate gear for her writeup.

Aratrok wrote:
Gear 45,000 gp worth of equipment (as a 15th level heroic NPC): mithral breastplate (+2 from magic vestment each day), +1 lucerne hammer, +1 cold iron greatsword, +1 adaptive composite longbow, masterwork spiked gauntlet, +2 belt of giant strength, +2 cloak of resistance, +3 amulet of natural armor, +2 ring of protection, jingasa of the fortunate soldier, boots of speed, quick runner's shirt, 3380 gp of consumables and treasure

The reason we're not freaking out about defenses is frankly because we find nothing wrong with class features intended to make you good at defense to actually make you good at defense. If having those features were to artificially inflate your CR because you had higher than average defenses for your CR, those features aren't really features.

What's the CR of a Barbarian pre-Rage and after Rage? Especially with superstition? The same CR. This isn't complicated.

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Aratrok wrote:

Plus, most demons are rather straight forward destroyers, while succubi are more subtle manipulators and corruptors, and tend to make for more interesting stories in general.

A vrock loose in the city is an encounter. A succubus loose in the city is an adventure.

Oh my god, seriously. :D

I ran an adventure back on OpenRPG where the party encountered a succubus enemy and never even fought with her. They tried to, but she just got angry and said she was done playing with them and whisked away. It wasn't the last they heard from her.

Succubi are insanely amazing puppeteers and mastermind characters. With their incredible charms and stealth capabilities they can literally follow a party around and just make their lives miserable, or see how much fun they can have trying to corrupt various members of the party by testing their resolve with various moral conundrums and toying with commoners and such.

Seriously, succubi are scary. They have at-will ethereal jaunt. There could be one sitting next to you right now plotting what sort of nasty things to do and no one is the wiser unless they cast see invisibility.

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Tacticslion wrote:
This reminds me of that one encounter in Savinth Yhi,

That's really cool. I like how you've layered the villains in this and I like how he's using misdirection to be a booger to the PCs. I'm not sure how they used a coup de grace, but it sounds like it was a fun encounter. :)

and makes me wonder: how much of this do you agree/disagree with? I tend to favor it, naturally, and may or may not change my mind based off of any analysis you happen to give (it works well for our games), but, respecting your knowledge and opinion on rules interactions as I do, I'd be curious to know what you thought of it in terms of advice. :D

I like the illusion considerations and honestly it's made me think that mirage arcana really needs to get used in a future game of mine at some point because that just seems like too much fun potential.

A few pieces that concern me elsewhere...
1. Don't feel too bad about its treasure. Aboleths have "double" treasure for a typical monster of their CR (which explains why he has more than 9,000 gp in goodies).

2. It's purely a preference thing but I tend to avoid using the special item restrictions for things like limiting items to NPCs. It feels a bit like cheating (bet nobody ever expected to hear me say that, huh? :P) and denies cool shwag. A lot of that probably comes from me having read the intended purpose of those types of limitations in the 3.x DMGs. :P

However, requirements that are thematically appropriate are actually super cool. I really liked of requirements like being able to speak Aklo. :D

Also, this, but that's mostly because I just happen to have that tab open rather than because I'm asking for advice (though if you wanted to supply advice there...). ;D

I'll try to check it out soon ans give some feedback. ^_^

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Aelryinth wrote:

By that standard, not including Gear when doing a comparison for CR, a level 20 fighter is going to fall way, way short of a CR 15 dragon...and not have our Lady's defenses and movement options.


Again, a "CR 20" fighter is going to fall short compared to most anything in its CR range because Fighters are bad and have no redeeming qualities, so they are reliant upon gear.

However, the succubus NPC has gear appropriate to an NPC of her CR. In this case, CR 15. If her CR increases, so too does her gear. That's basically what that says. If Aratrok made her a half-dragon succubus and it bumped up her CR but not her HD, her gear would still go up to compensate for the change because her NPC gear treasure is determined by her CR.

And yes. Defenses are good. I'm not sure why being relatively difficult to kill is a problem. I mean, if we're talking about CR 15+ creatures here, there are enemies that killing them isn't even a method of actually defeating them.

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At least when it comes to monsters. Sometimes I'll put together a little NPC codex when I'm bored or have spare time that I can use for general campaign usage. Since I run my own campaign, it's nice having some generic NPCs for certain purposes. Here's a little NPC book I put together for my own use in my MapTools games.

Campaign Specific NPCs.

And some antagonists (though technically Jugeum isn't an antagonist, she's actually one of Jeo's mothers).

When I was going to run Jade Regent, I threw together some extra NPCs for some bonus content I was planning to drop into it for some added fun and fixed the statblocks for at least one really error-ridden NPC in the first book. Here's my Jade Regent bonus statblocks. Captain Scurvy, Yasei are original, as are the magic items. I can't recall if Grimjaw the bugbear is original or if he was something I had added in for fun.

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Aelryinth wrote:
Yes, acid damage would negate troll regeneration and it would get digested if it couldn't rip its way out.

No acid damage involved, oddly. Too bad. :(


Kindly remember that when calculating CR for things with NPC/PC class levels, GEAR IS PART OF THE CR.

The reverse is not true for monsters.
So, yes, you MUST include gear when calculating what Elucidea's stats are. Furthermore, you must include what LEVEL of gear, because it makes a CR difference (PC or NPC).


Bestiary - Monster Advancement wrote:

Step 2: Add Class Levels

Once you have determined the creature's role, it's time to add class levels. The first step of this process is to modify the creature's ability scores. Creatures with class levels receive +4, +4, +2, +2, +0, and –2 adjustments to their ability scores, assigned in a manner that enhances their class abilities. Creatures with NPC class levels do not receive adjustments to their ability scores.

Next, add the class levels to the monster, making all of the necessary additions to its HD, hit points, BAB, CMB, CMD, feats, skills, spells, and class features. If the creature possesses class features (such as spellcasting or sneak attack) for the class that is being added, these abilities stack. This functions just like adding class levels to a character without racial Hit Dice.

A monster with class levels always possesses treasure equal to an NPC of a level equal to the monster's final CR (as calculated in Step 3, below). To determine the value of this gear, use the value listed for a heroic NPC of that level, as listed in Table: NPC Gear. Once a total GP value is determined, follow the rules for outfitting an NPC as outlined in that section. Gear should help a monster with class levels remain challenging and retain statistics close to those presented on Table 1-1: Monster Statistics by CR.

Oops. Looks like you gear them out appropriate for the CR that you determined in step 3. There's no further CR adjustment, you just get gear as appropriate for your modified CR based on class levels.

Hmmm, seems the rules do not agree.

Keep up the great work Aratrok! :D

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What's in the box? wrote:
How much time do you put into the prep for a session? and for an encounter?

It depends really. Unfortunately not nearly as much as I'd like to (I work a full time job right now). The longest amount of prep usually comes in making some tile maps in Maptools (and that really shouldn't take long but I'm a s***ty cartographer).

I do a lot of off the cuff GMing. I tend to recycle a lot of statblocks or use generic statblocks with minor tweaking (bestiary monsters with a few feats or treasures switched around can make them feel unique enough without reinventing the wheel). Sometimes I'll refluff stuff. One of my party's favorite NPCs was Ms. Masu the Dragonblooded sorceress. She's actually a lizardfolk dragonblood sorceress.

When designing an adventure or encounter, I think about it kind of like a series of scenes or events that I'd like to bring attention to. Kind of visualizing key points of the action I'd like players to experience during the encounter. Is it night? Day? Are leaves thick on the ground because it's the fall and the sun or moon light shines brightly the the naked tree canopy?

Little details are often what can bring an encounter to life. For example, one encounter Aratrok liked was a roadblock by some mercenaries. One of the PCs in the group was a vampire who couldn't be out in broad daylight, so she had to begin and end her turn behind the shade of the trees around the roadblock. Enemies used trees for cover. Big trolls armed with weapons and cheap armor roamed the battlefield before the party charmed them and turned them on their comrades.

Best guess is I usually try to get an idea for key points of the adventure and spend 20 minutes to a few hours on the scenes depending on how major they are and how much custom material I want to make. The majority of stuff I use is from the standard Bestiary because I'm lazy. :P

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Kryzbyn wrote:

All amazing stuff!

Thanks. It's fun to play around with villains. Blindly rushing in has its place but my antagonists do a lot of talking, moving around, playing with the environment, etc.

For example, in my campaign that Aratrok's playing in, back when they were around 6th level the party was set up by an information broker (a vampire) and basically fell into a trap with a bunch of thugs, the vampire's assassin (a psychic monk vampire) and one of the mobsters the party was investigating.

So they end up in this warehouse with lots of low-CR thugs (we're talking like CR 1/4 to 1/3 warrior sorts, and the shrouded vampire assassin sitting atop a bunch of crates and such with the boss-guy (who couldn't fight for crap, he just paid the bills). The party began thrashing their way through the warriors and the goblin barbarian was basically laughing at the archers whose arrows he just chewed on while lifting the shop-door of the warehouse.

EDIT: The warehouse had some hooks on pulley systems that could be activated to move. NPCs would sometimes attempt to grab the PCs with the hooks by flipping levers when they were in the path of the hooks to drag them around the warehouse.

The boss began panicking and shouting for the goons to try harder and turned to the assassin and was like "Y-you're supposed protect me! K-KILL THEM NOW!", and the assassin was like "I'm not here to protect you. Order me like one of your lackies again and I'll kill you myself," she said more or less causing him to withdraw frightened.

She grinned and decided that this was going to be a fun fight. She jumped down and rushed one of the templar knights in the party (a pair of NPC tag-alongs, one was a warrior/psion and the other was a strait telepath). However, there were two things she didn't anticipate.

1. She had never met a goblin barbarian specialized in grappling.
2. She had also never met a Paladin.

She basically chased the telepath around with her energy-draining slams mixed in with flurries when this little green gobbo-missile leaped into the air, bit her, and then suplexed her onto her back and went for then pin.

"What the f***!?" she shouted as the Paladin ran over and declared smite. What ensued was a string of profanities as he beat the ever loving stuffing out of her with no care as to whether or not his sword was silver or cheese. She basically melted into bats at critical condition really quickly and screeched around the party for a bit, hoping to milk her swarm-form for a bit to recover some Hp. However Atratrok's character Jeo basically doused her with alchemist fire forcing her to retreat. They grabbed the mobster and then Jeo ended up following her back to the informant's place. When they arrived, Jeo was pissed that they had been doubled crossed and basically walked up to the bouncer at the back door of his club and was like "Either let me through or I'm going through you" (the bouncer was also a vampire but you have to understand, Jeo's freaking scary when she's angry...or hungry, but that's another story).

She entered the hidden complex behind the club and found the assassin who they had met earlier without the disguise fast-healing. The assassin, Victoria (Victoria was their informant's right hand lady) looked dejected and ashamed for being so thoroughly defeated by what she thought was going to be little more than a challenging fight. Jeo was like "Where is he!?" and Victoria pointed to the back room. That's when Jeo and the other PCs entered the den of the vampire lord and she proceeded to verbally chew him out like nobody had ever dared to do before. Ohhhh she was mad. XD

Currently the party is friends with Victoria, having liberated her from the vampire lord. My players tend to make friends in the most unlikely of places. I wouldn't even be surprised if they saved Seliex from death if they defeated her and tried to turn the situation around. They're really cool like that.

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Thinking about it a bit, a lot of the best encounters against major BBEGs that I've used (especially with dragons, major fiends, mages, and even rangers) often draw the combat out with misdirection and entertaining shenanigans. The real goal of the encounter with the blue dragon is for the dragon to harass the hell out of them and attack them psychologically as well as physically. The paranoia that can occur during a blue dragon encounter is part of the draw.

Likewise, with Seliex the white dragon in my adventure, dragging the combat out actually gets the PCs time to know the dragon. The importance of the fight's features are to make the PCs feel clostrophobic, like everything is against them while the dragon taunts and hits and runs. If the PCs begin to successfully threaten the dragon it'll invoke memories of when she was nearly killed as a young dragon and she'll go ballistic and scream things like "I'M POWERFUL NOW! YOU CAN'T HURT ME ANYMORE!!" belying her own insecurities and frustrations. Deep down inside, she wants vengeance because she's still afraid of adventurers coming to hurt her and is subconsciously trying to overcome that trauma.

This can make for some awesome scenes as well. I haven't decided what spells to give her, but if I give her something like infernal healing so she can patch herself up while she plays hit and run through the walls of the carven, one could describe the fiendish transformation and her icy blue eyes turning red like glowing rubies as her wounds seem to melt away like snow while she growls taunts like "I'll take from what you what you took from me!"

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Blindmage wrote:

You could totally sell it for more with enough Bluff, as long as they dint see through your game with enough Sense Motive to tell you're lying, or enough Appraise to know the gem isn't really worth that much.

You might have a pissed off wizard hunting you down, but it *is* doable. Some folks just try and cheat the wrong people.

True that. :|

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Ipslore the Red wrote:
Reggie wrote:
[ A CR 5 troll cannot be killed by a tyrannosaurus no matter how hard to T-Rex tries. Eventually it will get back up and keep fighting a very exhausted T-Rex.

What if the Tyrannosaur eats the troll? Wouldn't the stomach acids finish it off?


(Just curious)

RAW? No. Nothing in the tyrannosaurus' statblock gives it any way to deal acid damage.

And trust me, you think trolls are mean and angry normally? Wait until you have literally s!&@ all over their day. :P

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Oh my god Blue dragons are freaking fun beyond reason! Their Mirage, Sandstorm, and Storm Breath abilities can create some insanely amazing encounters all by themselves. Mirage can seriously screw with the players into making tactical mistakes (especially because it can actually attack with the breath weapon!), while the sandstorm can torment casters and most anyone else due to visual and concentration irritants. Storm Breath lets it bank breath weapon-burst shots to use over the next few rounds (which is freaking awesome!).

Even their sound mimicry can be used to really make an encounter memorable, especially if you fill the encounter with descriptions of unnerving sounds or even the screams of other party members! If you have NPCs that the party likes in the party, let the dragon torment and worry the players with its Bluff checks to make them think that the NPCs in the cloud are being killed and screw with them with illusions as well. The dragon can even use this as a bait and switch.

For example, if the dragon can see someone separated in the dust storm (such as an NPC) and has heard his or her voice prior to his attack, he might begin by screaming for help in the voice of the intended victim while being obscured by sandstorms, invisibility, or other methods of hiding in the chaos. When the NPC responds "No, it's a trick, I'm over here!" the dragon moves in and grabs up the NPC with its snatch feat in the chaos.

Similar tactics can be used to bait the PCs into splitting up if they're not careful. With the powerful illusions that the dragons are capable of harnessing, along with mirage and their sound imitation, you could very reasonably provoke a warrior to charge through the sandstorms to the dragon's mirage only to fall into a trap (such as a sinkhole or quicksand) while the dragon moves on to ravage the other party members.

KKKkkzzzzzshhhhaaoooooorrrrzzz~! Lightning sound effects

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Xexyz wrote:
Ashiel wrote:

My guess is because, somehow, one can actually ascertain an items true value based on what you can do with it. In D&D/Pathfinder, a diamond that is worth a certain amount of gold pieces can be used as a material component while a lesser valued diamond cannot.

In the same sense, if you pay 20,000 gp for a 15,000 gp diamond, you'll definitely know you got ripped off when you try to use it to cast spells requiring 20,000 gp worth of diamonds. Or use that diamond as part of the materials to make a magic item (as gems are frequently used in the creation of magical doodads).

I think you're probably right, but if you are then your original scenario doesn't work. If diamonds truly are trade goods then you can't take a 5000gp diamond and use fabricate to create a 15000gp diamond; that would mean you somehow ended up with 200% more diamond, which is obviously outside of the scope of the spell. If your assumption is that you've used fabricate to increase the value by giving it a more valuable cut then by definition diamonds cease to be trade goods.

I think we can both agree that diamonds & gems are one of those fuzzy areas in the game it's best not to think about because of the conflict over how gems are valued in real life and how gems are valued for the purposes of spell components.

I think you're failing to get my point. The Craft skill explicitly increases the value of the gem by three times the cost of the materials. This means that cut gems are worth more than uncut gems. This likewise makes sense given that most magic items and the like that are described as having gems are likewise depicted as being worked gems rather than unworked gems.

So you could take a large diamond (5,000 gp), use it as the materials for a Craft (gemcutting) check and create a 15,000 gp diamond. The item's new value is now 15,000 gp. You cannot however reasonably sell it for 20,000 gp because it's only worth 15,000 gp.

That's just how the Craft skill (and thus fabricate) works. The final value of the created item is three times the cost of the material used to create it.

EDIT: It also indirectly accounts for flawed cuts. If you fail your Craft check by a certain amount you ruin 1/2 the raw materials. Thus if your raw materials is a 5,000 gp diamond you just reduced its value down to a 2500 gp diamond, so now all you can do with the same materials is either try to start over or attempt to make a cut diamond worth 7,500 gp instead.

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Mathius wrote:
Ash I disagree with you on this one. In general paladins fall if they fight things that are not evil.

While I'm not the strictest GM on the block when it comes to paladin acrobatics, I'm pretty certain that there's nothing in their codes that only allow them to fight evil enemies. Otherwise Paladins would have to sit around and twiddle their thumbs in any encounter with constructs, animals, charmed/dominated foes, etc.

Paladins aren't even bad at it. I once made a "I hate paladins" gauntlet which consisted of a series of encounters that basically ignore anything that the Paladin brings to bear against evil creatures or undead. It was worth it enough just for the chance to witness a Paladin suplexing a Gazebo. :3


There can be exceptions but I think it is true more often then not.

Also at these levels a rangers favorite enemy does not matter since he will use instant enemy. I realize that eats an action but still.

We could replace it with any instance of "my attack hates X". Bane weapons? What about elemental weaknesses? If a wizard prepares fireball and fights an Ice Elemental, the CRs of the creatures in this situation don't change even though the wizard has a form of attack that is especially effective against the Ice Elemental.

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Pretty much. Humorously, there's quite a few low-CR monsters that roflstomp high CR monsters because those monsters cannot realistically fight back. For example, a spider swarm is what, CR 1 or 2 or something (haven't looked it up. :P), but it will assuredly kill a CR 7 hill giant because the giant literally cannot hurt it unless it's got the right gear to deal with the job (like burning oil or something).

Meanwhile, a CR 3 shadow will utterly destroy most any brute monsters that it encounters because unless they're wielding magical weaponry or have some sort of offensive magic to fall back on, they cannot reasonably hurt them, while the shadow's strength-damaging touch will tear them apart.

A CR 1 bloody skeleton will eventually kill anything that doesn't have fast healing, holy water, or positive energy damage, because it keeps standing up and attacking every hour.

Heck, most anything with regeneration is a death-sentence in the same way if the monster is fighting doesn't have a way to ends its regneration. A CR 5 troll cannot be killed by a tyrannosaurus no matter how hard to T-Rex tries. Eventually it will get back up and keep fighting a very exhausted T-Rex.

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A quick preview of one of the first events in the book. Sorry for the limited formatting (looks better in the document) but Paizo's boards aren't nearly as cool as Giant in the Playgrounds when it comes to making posts.


This event can begin anywhere within Kallid's bay with the weather being bright and sunny on a midsummer's day (though see alternate seasons below) just before taking a striking change in temperament quickly.

The previously clear day darkens and a terrible hailstorm mixed with torrential rain begins ravaging the city and everything within it. This inclement weather is due to the machinations of one of Seliex's followers, a lizardfolk druid named Crexa who resides on a small island shore a short distance out from the bay.

Shortly after the inclement weather begins, so too does the initial attack on the city. First skeletal undead lurch up from the bay itself and attack the shorelines of the city.

Meanwhile, from the mainland and down from the mountain, come yeti and winter wolf servants of the dragon, leaving citizens of the city little room for escape and forcing the town's defenses to split their forces. The first act of vengeance on Kallid's Bay begins.

Assuming you are not running the adventure during a different season, read (or paraphrase) the following to the players:

As you make your way around an otherwise beautiful and sunny summer's day, you are startled by a small piece of ice that suddenly hits the ground nearby. Almost immediately, another falls nearby, followed by another, then another, in faster succession. The peaceful white clouds in the sky steadily darken as downpour of rain and sleet join the falling ice flakes, with the storm growing worse with each passing moment.

While the hailstorm itself isn't harsh enough to cause damage, it does cause a -4 penalty on Perception checks, ranged attacks, and makes the ground outdoors difficult terrain (costing 2 squares of movement). Its primary purpose is to terrorize the citizens and make it difficult for the town's archers and soldiers to defend against their invaders.

Alternate Seasons
The attack on Kallid's Bay might occur during different seasons than summer as desired for your campaign which results in Crexa calling for different weather effects. See Environment in the core rules for specifics on each kind of weather.

Spring: Likely the worst case scenario, Crexa calls for a mixture of thunderstorms and a tornado that cuts a swath of destruction over the surface of the bay and then through the town itself. Tornados are CR 10. There is a 40% chance that the tornado will interrupt any encounter involving the PCs in Kallid's Bay. However, the tornado moves on its own and is unprejudiced in the destruction it creates. Enemy combatants attempt to avoid or flee the tornado as readily as citizens.

Read (or paraphrase) the following to the players:

The warm and peaceful day is shattered by the sudden roar of thunder through the skies above. Not long after the thundering begins, sheets of rain begin cascading through the streets as if heralding the arrival of bolts of lightning that begin touching down randomly throughout the city. Though one could scarcely believe that anything could pale the roar of the thunder, a heart-sinking sound of tearing winds looms on the horizon, announcing the arrival of one of nature's most heartless destroyers – a tornado.

Fall: Crexa conjures fog and sleet prior to the attack to obscure vision and complicate defenses.

Read (or paraphrase) the following to the players:

An early fog originating from the bay fills the city, causing Kallid's bay to appear like a surreal dream where people and objects alike seem to disappear from existence a short distance from where they were found. Rain and sleet accompany the fog, rendering the cobbled streets a wet and slippery mess.

Winter: Crexa calls for a frigid cold temperatures mixed with a blizzard.

Read (or paraphrase) the following to the players:

Today began cold but mostly clear, but only a short time ago the air seemed to fill with a hateful chill that could freeze the spit on a man's lips and stop is unguarded breath. Snow began to fall at a pace that seemed as though some sort of frozen god was casting its ire over the town of Kallid's Bay.

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Mathius was asking about the adventure I was writing with the White Dragon, and I thought you guys might be interested in one of the responses. This is why I said in that other thread why fighting a white dragon in their own lair is one of the most harrowing experiences and waaaaaaay more interesting than fighting that putz Cthulu. :P

Ashiel wrote:

You'll probably like the final battle with Seliex then. Enemies that the party skips are actually expected to join in during different phases of the fight. Her lair itself is a frigid cavern with a frozen lake inside of it (the same lake she fell into as a young dragon and left for dead), and the whole cavern is filled with a thick, dense fog.

Because white dragons can move across the frozen ice and walls easily, have a burrow speed, a fly speed, and a swim speed, the players are fighting her lair as much as they are her (she can move into the walls, through the floor, beneath the ice, across the ceiling, and all heavily obscured by the fog as she has maxed ranks in Stealth). If she gets severely injured, she can withdraw through the floors or walls to regroup herself before making another go at it.

She also has some resetting summon monster traps that conjure elementals to harass the lair's invaders, and will continue to summon more and more adds to the fight unless the party locates and destroys the traps that are conjuring them.

Since most of the floor in her lair is actually iced over lake, certain spells (such as fireball) remove terrain for the PCs by destroying the water's icy surface, and if she gets seriously pissed herself, she may destroy it herself and plunge her and the entire party into the lake's dark, frigid waters for the final phase of the battle.

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What's in the box? wrote:
I like reading what you guys talk about. In my group I am the most "senior" rpg'er (both experience and age) but I don't feel like I have really maximized the potential of my 10-ish years of playing.

Don't feel bad. Having a life is a good thing. D&D/D20 has been kind of my obsession since it came out. I kinda no-lifed it for years. D&D kind of helped me get through some of the rough times in my youth (I'd dare say it saved my life in some ways).


In answer to your question Ash- if the space limit of the amulet is exceeded (either you tried to store too much or someone took the amulet and doesn't have the HD) it "locks" and has to be completely emptied in order to "recalibrate" that process takes 1 minute per item.

I didn't really anticipate that being a problem since the player knows the limits of the amulet and exactly what is in there. And I think she would fight to the death to protect it from looting.

Thanks. It's just a question that sprang to mind when you mentioned the carrying limit was based on the HD of the user ("As your soul grows to carry greater burdens, so too will your amulet") and I was curious what would happen if someone of a lower level tried to use it.

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Mathius wrote:

What if teleport was changed to always scatter those who ported? Each person is scattered separately.

Very familiar = 1d6 squares
studied carefully = 1d6 x 10 squares
seen casually = 1d6 x 100 squares
viewed once 1d6 x 1000 squares

If you end up in a solid object then roll scatter distance again but the direction is up instead of random.

Teleport trap becomes a very nice thing for a city have in its town square. Only way to land right where you want to is to hit a trap.

That's a very amusing idea actually. I think it would probably nerf demons and other creatures whose tactics include greater teleport (since those spells are good for pestering casters and such), but that could indeed be a really cool thing.

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Xexyz wrote:
kestral287 wrote:
Because they have no reason not to collude.
Matthew Downie wrote:
If Bob isn't an idiot he'd see that any price cut he made would be matched by Alice almost immediately, reducing both their profits and not increasing his sales at all.
Ok, so let's go in the other direction. Why don't Alice & Bob then collude to sell their fabricated diamonds for 20,000gp then? If we're going to pretend supply and demand don't exist.

My guess is because, somehow, one can actually ascertain an items true value based on what you can do with it. In D&D/Pathfinder, a diamond that is worth a certain amount of gold pieces can be used as a material component while a lesser valued diamond cannot.

In the same sense, if you pay 20,000 gp for a 15,000 gp diamond, you'll definitely know you got ripped off when you try to use it to cast spells requiring 20,000 gp worth of diamonds. Or use that diamond as part of the materials to make a magic item (as gems are frequently used in the creation of magical doodads).

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Man if blood money was ability burn it wouldn't get half as many evil looks.

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Mathius wrote:

Of course the cube eventually gets bigger. Eventually it becomes 2 cubes. The orcs may not want a second cube. Once they get one they may need to find a new home.

Mainly I would just like to see magic reflected in the world.

Also why are wizards not interested in money?

Just poke it with a spear until the 2nd cube dies. It's an ooze. It's like cutting back the kudzu.

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Mathius wrote:
I think that we can assume smite in CR since she would not be fighting the party if they were not evil.

That's kinda like saying a Ranger wouldn't fight the party if they weren't their favored enemy.

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Tels wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Tels wrote:

I've only seen Dazing used a few times and all of those times by the same character (mine) in a Mythic Legacy of Fire game. Unfortunately, the GM dropped the game, and it wasn't because of my Wizard (or my Monk). It was the 12th level Fighter moving 300 ft. (extra move action + move as swift action and attack) across an open field and then full attacking and killing a Tarn Linnorm (CR 20) before it even got a turn.

Logically, I know it's powerful, but at the same time, I only got to use it against a few Mooks or unimportant fights. I much prefer Rime Spell as a more balanced approach to 'control blaster' as a metamagic feat.

It's funny how that sort of stuff tends to freak people out faster. It's definitely flashier so it gets a lot more attention. Kind of like how a lot of people think fireball is like the bestest spell ever and undervalue haste. :P

I'm not even 100% certain that dazing would be a gamebreaker in this case but it's definitely something I'd be concerned about, because I'd definitely spec the hell out of it if I was playing a caster with this system. Every round on the round, I'd be tagging as many enemies as I could in hopes they biff their saves. Even dazing magic missile would be an attractive thing.

I have to say, I really, really enjoy your Skill Casting System and there is a large part of me that wants to make it the default for all of my games going forward along with my Spellcraf/skill point modification.

It just feels more magical to me and makes it far easier to implement traditional sword and sorcery themes than most current systems. It may require a slight overhaul of some of the spells in the game though.

It's been a long time since I used it and I basically re-wrote it as I was posting for WitB. I'm re-psyched about using it myself to play around with metamagic so I might use it in my next campaign.

That said, there are a few spells that should probably be evaluated. For example, Aratrok mentioned a bit of fear of pooping simulacra. I can think of a few splat-spells that would be really god-awful with this system because they're awful in Pathfinder (calcifying touch springs to mind). Most of the core spells are pretty safe though.

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Mathius wrote:

Wall stone is a permanent some thing from nothing spell as well. At 12th level it makes more stone then it costs to hire the caster.

I am not saying this one is OP but it would change the world.

How magic would change the world is probably where I find the most of my attention in these sorts of threads.

For example, in my campaign setting, bricks are an incredibly common building material for several reasons. One of the primary reasons is because they're flame resistant (kind of like stone) and very plentiful (mostly made of mud). In a world where some idiot with a fireball wand might start lighting up everything, having buildings that are resistant to burning is a plus.

Likewise, there are small oasis-like settlements in some interesting places in the setting because of minor magics like create water which can be used for drinking, bathing, etc. Even if the water doesn't last that long when unconsumed, building inexpensive wondrous fountains as a hub for locals and travelers to gather around is a good deal and makes it possible to have little communities even in the middle of arid areas. Purify food and drink has similar practical uses for normal people and these are just adept orisons.

It's not even just with magic. Using oozes as garbage disposals is a time honored tradition and makes for a really gnarly trap in the right context. For example, if the orcs have a gelatinous cube in a pit trap and they just throw executed prisoners - or prisoners to be executed - into the pit, along with their garbage, the pit and the cube serve a practical purpose and serve as a wicked stage hazard if someone decides to get...pushy. >_>

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
I'm just saying, comparing the succubus to a druid would probably boost this thread's ratings thought-provoking discussion.

Well druid seems really off-theme from what the succubus was supposed to be, unless you mean in comparing her to what a 16th level druid NPC could do.

If it's the latter, well, comparing her to any 16th level caster is going to probably favor the caster. IMHO, her defenses are probably what makes her shine the most. Her offense is passable, which is good because she's a essentially built as a martial, but she's tanky. That's good. Tanky monsters aren't found very often and they make good enemies to use for solo-fights (because they can actually survive incoming hurt over more than a round or so).

You make a good point about the druid though. What a class is good at, while having little actual bearing on their CR, does influence how tough the fight is overall very easily. For example, a creature that is dedicated support (buffer, debuffer, healer, CC, etc) isn't typically going to be very dangerous by themselves but their CR is still valid because when building encounters they can have advantages to leverage.

On a humorous note...

Then you have to work out the druid's build—is she a healer? A wild shaping pouncer? A grappler?

All of the above. Since healing magic doesn't require good save DCs or anything, a wild-shape emphasis druid with natural spell can happily do all of those things and then pop a heal spell to reset the fight for herself by healing 160 HP (especially if her form has a burrow speed or anything that can allow her to break LoE while she recovers for her next phase).

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Ashiel, with all due respect, that's a terrible comparison. Fighters lack spells and cannot be pitted realistically against a paladin. If you want this point to work, you have to use a ranger or druid or something. Then you have to work out the druid's build—is she a healer? A wild shaping pouncer? A grappler?

Once you have determined all this, the focus of this thread's discussion will no doubt improve massively.

Well Aratrok could have just made the succubus a CLERIC or ORACLE instead. She could have just taken a feat to get her Charisma all of her saves. She would trade 3 points of BAB and 12 HP for 6th level divine spellcasting which nets her spells like divine power (+4 luck to hit/damage, +12 temporary Hp, +1 attack/round), spell immunity, righteous might (+4 Str/Con, size increase, DR 5/evil which makes it near impossible to bypass all her DR without a Paladin) and domain powers (like freedom of movement on demand without actions needed), planar allies, and so forth.

She definitely wouldn't be weaker and would be more effective against a wide variety of foes. Ael is complaining that Scissors beats Paper because he's talking Paladin vs Evil here, but Cleric just stomps all over everything regardless of its alignment. :|

Honestly I think her CR is pretty much on par. CR doesn't fluctuate because the enemy is weak against your attacks. One does not lower the CR for undead because a cleric casts disrupting weapon, nor do you lower raise the CR of the party because they're throwing holy smites at evil creatures.

It's not about Succubus Paladin vs Dragon to determine CR, it's about succubus Paladin compared to Dragon. Are they both roughly as challenging to fight? Honestly I look at her and think "Hell yeah, I'd like to take a whack at that!"

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Aelryinth wrote:
Compare a level 19 fighter from the NPC codex to that dragon, and the fighter will fall short. Yet the Fighter is a key class and almost empirically should be added to the CR.

Compare a Fighter to a Warrior of the same CR and it will fall abysmally short.

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Tels wrote:

I've only seen Dazing used a few times and all of those times by the same character (mine) in a Mythic Legacy of Fire game. Unfortunately, the GM dropped the game, and it wasn't because of my Wizard (or my Monk). It was the 12th level Fighter moving 300 ft. (extra move action + move as swift action and attack) across an open field and then full attacking and killing a Tarn Linnorm (CR 20) before it even got a turn.

Logically, I know it's powerful, but at the same time, I only got to use it against a few Mooks or unimportant fights. I much prefer Rime Spell as a more balanced approach to 'control blaster' as a metamagic feat.

It's funny how that sort of stuff tends to freak people out faster. It's definitely flashier so it gets a lot more attention. Kind of like how a lot of people think fireball is like the bestest spell ever and undervalue haste. :P

I'm not even 100% certain that dazing would be a gamebreaker in this case but it's definitely something I'd be concerned about, because I'd definitely spec the hell out of it if I was playing a caster with this system. Every round on the round, I'd be tagging as many enemies as I could in hopes they biff their saves. Even dazing magic missile would be an attractive thing.

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What's in the box? wrote:

Speaking of items. I have a player that (like ALL my players and myself) likes the anime Fairy Tail and wanted to played a Fighter in the theme of Erza Scarlet. Originally just wanting to play a melee character (this is the player who is almost ALWAYS a wizard).

Being the AWESOME GM that I am I decided to help out with the theme. I started with a Transformative weapon, but also made it an intelligent item (modeled after the Soul Edge) and it basically wants you to kill stuff. It absorbs the soul, makes weapon more powerful, makes DC of influence more powerful. Bla bla bla... the weapon is cool, and helped originally but after a few levels I caved and made:

Amulet of Requip!

occupies the neck slot and gives wearer the ability to access a dimensional storage space that can holds 10 lbs of equipment per HD of the creature. A swift action will change one item (either armor or weapon, etc.) that is readied and a full round action can be used to change multiple items (I don't currently have a limit on this since it has never used this function- but I could see unrestricted use getting abused).

What do you think? I mean- I think it is an item that is DEFINITELY in theme with the character, and she uses it almost every encounter (which I take as a positive- she has a selection of armor and a couple weapons she switches between). I suppose this replaces the utility of a couple of feats... Mostly I just wanted to show you what I did... because I am apparently a 4 yr old and drew a picture I think is fridge worthy. LOL.

Seems awesome. I like the amulet of reequip (but I wonder what happens to all the gear when you give it to a lower HD creatue?).

You might also look into the psionic power call weaponry which allows you to call a weapon of your choice. You might be interested in playing around with it.

Speaking of which, Aratrok created a Psychic Warrior with the Mind Knight who focused on using Call Weaponry and Inertial Armor, and then combined it with the Ascetic Rules I wrote for Mikaze to create an incredibly gear-lite character who can essentially function naked and calls all kinds of different weapons and/or armors to her presence.

Combined with the ascetic rules, an amulet of call weaponry with no augments would be quite viable for that sort of thing since you could bind enhancement bonuses and/or abilities to your hand chakras and get the benefits to whatever you call. He really, really enjoys this psychic warrior.

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What's in the box? wrote:
Have you play-tested with this @will system much? I wonder about the overall acceptance of other party members. Like the cleric and wizard are prolly like: "Oh hecks yeah! All the magicks!" but the fighter and rogue (non-casters) are they like: "Aw... now hitting things with a stick is lame!" ???

I ran a campaign with it that combined d20 modern and 3.x D&D years ago on OpenRPG. The campaign went to about 14th level before we ended it because of scheduling issues and the fact the Paladin player was butting heads with the Mystic Theurge player (for non-game related things).

The party consisted of a wizard, a mystic theurge, a paladin, and a rogue. Nobody ever complained about balance at the time (even the rogue, go figure) and the original version was actually easier to abuse than this revised version (the original version was a Skill and had less brutal spellburn mechanics). Ultimately, it had the effect that it was intended to (even at higher levels, I was seeing a lot more 1st-3rd level spells being thrown around than not).

The new revised version is stricter and more closely tied to your casting abilities but still has the options of speccing it a bit (+CL effects make it easier to chuck out better spells, so things like ioun stones, prayer beads, and so forth can help you edge a few more +5%s into your corner). Spellburn is also more brutal (it used to deal a lot less damage) and the ability burn was added in the revised version which means that you can very easily have a very strong penalty for failing to cast successfully.

I personally think I'd use the ability-burn one primarily and only add the damage-feature if the ability-burn wasn't enough for the group. Biffing a spell and watching your casting stat get nerfed for literally days would hurt and seems to me like enough of a fear-factor to be careful (ability damage heals at beast 2/day, and since ability burn cannot be magically healed, eating 3-9 points of ability burn at a time would suuuuck).

Alternatively, some might feel that the ability burn is too harsh and that the damage is risky enough (since you're essentially losing both actions and getting thrashed) but less brutal since you can heal it up between encounters.

Most brutal would be both where you get fried and debuffed. Even this could be fun if that's the sort of flavor your group is into.

Do you find that Spellburn is enough of an equalizer?

It depends. I myself do think that it's enough of a dissuading factor (along with the risk of failing to have a wasted action, which is a thing) and combined with the difference in how Concentration works (actively increasing the difficulty of casting the spell) it's easier to harass an enemy spellcaster.

It's also worth noting that I do not really consider Fighters, Rogues, and Monks when making mechanics that are balanced (because none of those classes are balanced with the rest of their peers).

In some ways, I think the difficulty associated with casting higher level spells is an equalizer in its own way. Most people agree that casters don't really explode into nuttiness until they're casting spells that are much higher than 3rd level. While a lot of iconic staples come online at 3rd level, most of the big guns are 6th+, with the nastiest ones being 7th+. Since casting limited wish in combat has a base casting DC of 34, you need a +24 modifier to be able to take-10 to cast it (and you can't take 10 if someone is threatening you, which means summons, animal companions, and martials on your face is irritating). Since your modifier is CL + Key Ability, you'd have a pretty high chance of biffing it at the level you could potentially cast it (especially if you had to do things like cast defensively).

Does the free access to healing (and I get Healing is not really THAT limited of a resource) have any negative consequences on CR? I imagine at some point the Cleric having an infinite supply of "Heal" makes most challenges... not challenging.

Not in the slightest. Generally speaking, healing in combat is frequently seen as a less than ideal tactic anyway (too many resources wasted, not enough output, etc). Nigh-infinite out of combat healing is already a thing in Pathfinder. If anything, it makes preparing/casting healing spells in combat a little less horrendous at most levels because you're not wasting resources on it.

and speaking of CR and challenging the party... I am finding that my players can mostly wade through anything I put them up against. Any tips on keeping things appropriately challenging? (I will admit... I monty hauled a little in the beginning but I don't see their items as being the main factor in their prowess. Mostly the items were RP/theme appropriate).

Depends on what sort of encounters you're putting together for them but a few general tips...

1. More is more. Use at least 3 creatures in most encounters, possibly more. It's generally more challenging to face multiple lower-CR foes than single higher-CR foes.

2. If your monsters have cool shwag for the PCs to loot, let the monsters use it too. For example, a succubus with a +1 flaming longsword should totally use that +1 flaming longsword.

3. Think about the encounters as more than PCs vs badguys. Think of things like terrain, weather, and other effects. Here's a link to a blogpost I made about building encounters: Encounter Design Pt. 1.

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Xexyz wrote:

No, Matthew has the right of it. Fabricate only 'breaks' the economy because the economy is already broken to begin with. Trying to make the argument that fabricate breaks [the economy] and therefore the spell is broken is disingenuous.

Take Ashiel's scenario for example. If we're trying to argue using realistic economic principles it fails because as soon as Alice the 9th level wizard tries to profit from turning a 5000gp gem into a 15,000gp gem she fails because Bob the wizard undercuts her by selling it for 14,000gp. And then Charlie the wizard undercuts them both by selling it for 13,000gp. And so on and so forth. In the end the price of the '15,000gp' diamond will settle at 5000gp plus whatever the cost of casting fabricate is.

Saying "wizards don't use fabricate that way" is not merely GM fiat. The entire structure of the game requires necessary compromises in order to function as a narrative device and gaming framework. If you're going to start demanding real-world logic in every aspect the entire thing falls apart.

I didn't say anything about breaking the economy. Merely that fabricate works. Also there is no undercutting. If you're making a trade good you are making something traded as coin. You are not undercutting or being undercut by anyone or anything unless the same is also happening for your coins.

New technologies do not destroy businesses they destroy business models.

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Time to find a better GM, it sounds like.

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Well you can always fabricate trade goods. Trade goods are essentially money. So you can always create more money with fabricate. The amount of money you want to create is only limited by how much you want to make and the raw materials.

For example, a diamond is considered a grand jewel (5,000+ gp). Using that as the materials, you can fabricate it into a cut gem is a 15,000 gp trade good with a successful craft check. Now the DC for a masterwork cut to the diamond is DC 20 (for complex or superior quality item) which any wizard with a 1st level spell and a +5 Int can take-10 on to do.

Since trade goods are traded as coins are, in any situation you wanted to trade something coins are good for, your enhanced diamond is also good for. So you don't really need a buyer so much as you need something to buy. You could even just trade it for three more diamonds and repeat the process and have 45,000 gp worth of liquid wealth.

But again, money at the level that you can typically do this is usually not that big of a deal. Since the core rules assume that the upper limit for stuff you can expect to buy is a mere 16,000 gp, all the good shwag either needs to be crafted yourself or found on an adventure or something.

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Tels wrote:

Hmmm... with the skill based casting system, if I'm understanding this correctly, Metamagic got significantly more powerful, and yet harder at the same time, depending on the spell chosen.

For example, one could, theoretically, Heighten a Fireball to 9th level (DC 28), and then add Dazing (+6), Empowered (+4), Rime (+2) and Selective (+2) for an additional +14 adjustment with a final DC of 42, I believe. Whereas a regular old 9th level spell is DC 38 (20+18), I'm able to cast what would be the equivalent of a 16th level spell for only 4 more points on the DC.

Am I understanding this correctly?

Yes you are. Metamagic feats allowing you to make your spells more powerful are actually intentional in this situation. Unfortunately, the vast majority of metamagic feats are underwhelming and undesirable save for use with metamagic rods. Generally speaking, you are frequently just using them to make a lower level spell comparable to a spell that's already better for free.

For example, fireball (3rd level) vs cone of cold (5th level). Fireball caps at 10d6 vs the cone of cold's 15d6. If you dump a feat into Empower Spell, the fireball is now effectively 15d6 as well, except it's still worse than Cone of Cold because its 10% easier to save against and is blocked by spells like lesser globe of invulnerability. This means that really, only spontaneous casters are going to reap much benefit out of it by trying to save a spell known by upgrading a lower level spell, but then they get punished for using metamagic with longer cast times.

In this system, investing feats into becoming better at casting your spells has a rather obvious and tangible benefit. In your example, you've invested at least 5 feats into making your fireball a kickass spell. IMHO, once you've invested into it like that, it should definitely look at least attractive next to another spell that you just got from leveling up that was a higher level.

There's also the fact that, generally speaking, metamagic feats don't change the nature of the game very much. Taking a fireball and maximizing it to 60 damage (what the normal game would now see as a 6th level spell) is not the game-changer that actual 6th level spells like flesh to stone, fabricate, contingency, true seeing, greater dispel magic, planar binding, and similar 6th level spells are.

Similarly, even when casting the "16th level fireball" that's on the 'roids via metamagic feats, it's still less likely to be as gamechanging as miracle or time stop would be. :P

Now I'll be the first one to say that not every metamagic feat is going to play nice with this system as it was designed around the metamagic feats that are available in the core rules. Dazing spell is already really awesome (probably OP actually, as there's a reason I built an entire druid around using it to make enemies cry) and you could very easily make a formidable control-blaster with this system that just spams dazing spells every round on the round.

For example, once you have a +14 casting modifier (say CL 8th and Ability +6 = +14), with Dazing and Selective, you could take-10 to chuck out selective dazing fireball spells that ignore your party as long as you weren't distracted or being immediately threatened. And you could do this pretty much as long as you were left unmolested by your enemies or your environment. Even if your enemies have energy resistances, you're essentially forcing a save every round vs a fairly difficult DC or lose 3 turns worth of actions in a big AoE. That's pretty super-powerful (and pretty much what I do with dazing casters in regular Pathfinder, except this is pretty do-able even before high levels).

If your group isn't keen on that, you might need to evaluate which metamagic feats you are keen on allowing, or tweaking some that are really strong (IMHO, I think dazing is just kind of crazy good >_>) to have more of a difficulty increase. The vast majority of metamagic feats aren't going to produce such amazing results as spamming dazing spells (though persistent spells might be worth looking out for).

Off of the list of metamagic feats, the only ones I'd be concerned about being OP with the system are...

  • Dazing Spell.
  • Persistent Spell.

Also Echoing Spell would be pretty useless (but it already is).

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Artemis Moonstar wrote:
So, with so many resources online (PRD, SRD, and Archives), should I feel bad about selling my books?

Not necessarily. It depends on how much value you get out of your physical books (be the value practical, sentimental, or novelty). I have a fairly large number of D&D/Pathfinder books, yet in recent years I've mainly used virtual tabletop applications for gaming because it's more convenient (living in a rural area, it can take a half-hour drive or more for some members of the group to show up in person, then you unload all the books they use, set up playing space, etc).

It also opens up the ability to play with a lot of other people. For example, most of the people I gamed with as a teenager are busy with other life-concerns and my current work schedule tends to leave me with time either very early in the morning or very late a night. Using a virtual tabletop like MapTools, OpenRPG, or Roll20 allows you to get together with a much broader playerbase. My current regular group has a few people from the opposite side of the country and it works decently because they don't mind playing Pathfinder for a few hours when it's already 8pm or later on the east coast.

Even when in person, I've grown an appreciation for digital media because of how well it allows me to stay organized. If I was still regularly GMing tabletop, I'd definitely invest into a laptop (I have a desktop) for GMing at the table. It's basically a high-tech GM screen that can hold all your books (having made a habit of lugging around the PHB, MM, DMG, OA, MotP, ToM, ToB:BoNS, EPH, BoED, UA, C:Ad, C:Ar, C:D, C:M, C:W, Libris Mortis, Draconomicon, Eberron, PHB II and a few other bits to gaming sessions requires a dedicated arm and good backpack) and can also play music and such if you need to.

Depending on your situation, you may or may not need your books, and if you don't need them, it's a matter of how much you want them for some other sort of value.

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Buri Reborn wrote:
You have to ask why. And, no, not all wizards know about fabricate. Any Golarion setting material makes it abundantly clear that any meaningful acquisition of magic is either done through years of study, lucky happenstance over forgotten ruins, etc. It is the realm of artifacts that grant wide reaching magical knowledge. Look at the Anathema Archive. It's only PCs who, more specifically, players, who feel they should get to have access to "all the things." You can call my list unrealistic all you want, yet no where do we see the abuse you speak of. That doesn't mean the spell is ignored by Paizo. That's a non sequitur.

Ael and I tend to butt heads over what is and isn't acceptable pretty regularly, but I agree he's on the mark here.

Equipment Chapter wrote:
In general, you must travel to a small town (or larger settlement) to be reasonably assured of finding a spellcaster capable of casting 1st-level spells, a large town for 2nd-level spells, a small city for 3rd- or 4th-level spells, a large city for 5th- or 6th-level spells, and a metropolis for 7th- or 8th-level spells. Even a metropolis isn't guaranteed to have a local spellcaster able to cast 9th-level spells.
Magic Chapter wrote:

In most cases, wizards charge a fee for the privilege of copying spells from their spellbooks. This fee is usually equal to half the cost to write the spell into a spellbook (see Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook). Rare and unique spells might cost significantly more.

If you haven't opted to take fabricate as one of your spells that you get naturally from 11th+ level, you can probably find it by going to a big city and just paying someone to learn it. And if it is a spell that you can reasonably find but other wizards are being stingy about sharing it at the usual cost, then obviously it's valuable, so you'll spell research it yourself because it will quickly pay for the investment.

I don't have a problem with fabricate myself. Not nearly the amount of hate for it or similar world-altering spells (I love continual flame). But it is true that yes, these spells exist, no they are not uncommon or hard to get by default, and yes they do change the world and the way that we should look at what is and isn't possible.

In my campaign, yes, most major cities do in fact have things like continual flame lighting. Even small settlements generally have some sort of cantrip-level support for their communities. This is actually a great opener for having settelements in fantastic places. Historically, settlements had to be near water to work well but create water is so cheap for a magic item and so common as an orison (0 level for adepts, clerics, druids, oracles) that you can have little communities in some pretty out of the way and interesting places.

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Ian Bell wrote:
Kestral: you're also making the assumption that you can treat the magic item costing guidelines as a hard and fast rule, which they explicitly say they are not. Continuously usable fabricate gloves pretty obviously fall under the same "DM says hell no" clause as the continuously true striking mace in the example of magic item costing that they give.

Continual true-strike is not a legal option because true strike only lasts until your next attack. If you priced it as a continuous item, it would very quickly become the most expensive paperweight you've ever made.

At-will true strike or even quickened true strike are totally doable though (and not broken).

Aelryinth is pretty on the mark in this case. Fabricate is awesome. Having materials is pretty irrelevant too since trade goods are a thing. You can purchase trade goods and then fabricate them into art objects to triple their monetary value as per the Craft rules.

For example, I want to make a silver statue worth 3,000 gp. I must acquire 1/3rd the finished item's value in materials, which in this case is 1,000 gp worth of silver (10,000 silver pieces). I cast fabricate. It is now an art object that can be traded as though it were 3,000 gp.

I can take some gold and uncut gems, do the same thing. All of these things are trade goods. Craft turns them into more valuable trade goods. Fabricate cuts the craft time down from "years from now" (Craft sucks donkey butt) to "now" (fabricate is awesome).

That said, having lots of wealth isn't that big a deal later in the game. At least, there's nothing worth buying at high levels that isn't already pocket change. You basically have to craft everything that's going to be useful for you at that point (or find it).

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Aratrok wrote:

I whipped up a first draft of a Pathfinder version of Eludecia. Her offense is not particularly impressive unless she's smiting, or using buffs/divine weapon, but she's extremely durable (her saves in particular are amazing) and she can do some solid damage when she has time to rev up before hand. If given PC wealth and thus boosted to CR 16 she'd gain dramatically in offensive power due to having more resources to spend on gear and ability score boosters.

Her best offensive attack routine if for some reason she managed to have Divine Bond, Smite, Divine Favor, and Blade Tutor's Spirit active while power attacking and hasted would be +41/+41/+36/+31/+26 (2d6+46/19-20). So, fairly close to what a 16th level paladin or 15th level PC paladin would be able to accomplish. She's also capable of fighting defensively for a +13 bonus to AC if necessary, burning 10 uses of Lay On Hands to raise someone from the dead, and shouting battle cries as a swift action to bolster her allies. Note that she's carrying about 40 pounds of gear, and can only carry 50 pounds of equipment with her when she teleports.

Looks great. I like it. :)

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It's also worth noting that eldritch blast was a spell-like ability, which means that it...

1. Provoked attacks.
2. Could be interrupted (technically).
3. Could be blocked by spell resistance.
4. Does bubkis to golems.
5. Had an effective spell level of 1/2 your warlock level with a minimum of 1 and maximum of 9th. Actually making it harder to cast defensively and concentrate on as you go up in level.

All for an attack that...
1. Does crappy damage to normal enemies.
2. Does even crappier damage to objects (it deals 1/2 damage before hardness).

Also @ alexd1976...

No. Fighter-types from the Tome of Battle do not make giant fire snakes. Swordsages do. Those are the guys (notice I say the guys not one of the guys but THE guys as in only one type of) who are mystical monk-ish type fellows who do supernatural stuff with their martial arts.

The fighter-type guy was the WARBLADE. His combat options had techniques that involved shaking off magic effects by force of will (basically Conan the Barbarian. They could have just glued a picture of Conan shouting "By Crom!" instead of a writeup for a few counters) and hitting stuff with swords. Like, being able to move up to your speed and hit somebody with your main and off hand weapon (holy cow, what sorcery)!

Higher level stuff was basically Wolverine from X-Men minus the fast healing. Even then, Tempest Stormwind strait up laid down the law on the WotC forums when he showed that a Barbarian consistently outdamaged a warblade pretty much whole career.

Yeah man, crazy weaboo fightan magik. Thank you for your sage secrets.

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What's in the box? wrote:

I like posting these questions to you because the response is very thought out and filled with information :) You are like my DnD (PF) guru!

I actually DO remember lots of the information from Book of Erotic Fantasy. I had a player who was a... I think the class was Kundala? In a campaign once. She chose different members of the party to help her with her spells each morning. I can specifically remember reading stuff about pregnancy and going: "This will never be useful." Lol, my younger self was VERY concerned with POWER GAMING!

I think about Piper Halliwell and the whole "pregnancy" arc that Charmed went through and I was like: "This would be a cool proposition." And like... babies gotta come from somewhere.

The Paladin quote is really a line from Order of the Stick... and she redeemed (I mostly find the alignment restriction to be TOO restricting... like... Code of Conduct OR LG- both is excessive, but I suppose it has its place in gaming) paladins for me. Don't mess with that momma! :)

AH! Now that the pleasantries and praise are done (I have more, but I DO have a question also) I was wondering if you had/have any thoughts on Skill based casting?

My group REALLY likes the show Fairy Tail and the vancian magic system is not exactly great for that. I looked at Spheres of Power and found some very cool stuff in a pseudo-point based system and Psionics is mana-based (which is better than Vancian but not QUITE right). I think a skill based system might work but I haven't seen one since the True Namer from Tome of Magic (3.5) and was wondering if you might have some thoughts or ideas?

I also think this would be a good concept to use with a Reyvateil type of class, but... sadly I know of no way to adequately feature their abilities :(

I haven't tried Ultimate Truenaming (which 137ben suggested), but I did use a skill-based casting system in a campaign I ran years ago. Here's a revised version.

Casting Changes
Casting Checks: When you cast a spell you make a casting check (1d20 + your caster level + your key ability modifier) against the DC of the spell you're attempting to cast. Success means you cast the spell. Failure means that the attempt to cast fails and you may suffer spellburn (see optional rules below).

You may attempt to cast any spell that you know (see class changes).

Taking 10: You may choose to take-10 on your casting check (even in combat). You cannot take-10 while being threatened in melee.

Taking 20: It is possible to take 20 while casting, but doing so requires careful pace and focus to safely harness power without risking failure (or spellburn). This is known as a ritual casting. It takes sixty times as long to preform a ritual as casting the spell normally does (thus a spell with a casting time of 1 round or less requires 1 hour). If a ritual would require greater than 1 hour of casting the caster may take breaks (for eating, resting, talking, etc) and return to finish the casting later, provided that she does not cast other spells before the ritual is complete. As with taking 10, you cannot perform a ritual casting while threatened.

Base Casting DC by Tier
Tier 1 (up to 3rd) = DC 10
Tier 2 (up to 6th) = DC 15
Tier 3 (up to 9th) = DC 20

Spell Level Adjustment
Cantrip/Orison = +0
1st = +2
2nd = +4
3rd = +6
4th = +8
5th = +10
6th = +12
7th = +14
8th = +16
9th = +18

DCs for Dummies
0 = DC 10
1st = DC 12
2nd = DC 14
3rd = DC 16
4th = DC 23
5th = DC 25
6th = DC 27
7th = DC 34
8th = DC 36
9th = DC 38

Metamagic Feats
Metamagic feats add a flat +2 per level adjustment of the feat (so extend would be +2, quicken would be +8). This means that it's easier to cast low-tier spells that are modded up with metamagic feats than it is to cast higher tier spells of the same effective level.

For example, it's easier to cast an extended haste (DC 18) than it is to cast black tentacles (DC 23). This is intentional for a couple of reasons.

You may apply as many metamagic feats you possess to a spell regardless of what the highest level spell you can cast is. Thus a 3rd level enchanter could cast a silent still charm person spell (DC 16) even though she can normally only cast 2nd level spells.

Heighten Spell: The Heighten Spell metamagic feat increases the effective spell level of the spell (and thus save DCs and other level-dependent effects) up to the maximum spell level you can cast but it doesn't increase the base tier of the spell. Its primary function is to keep save DCs relevant (and improve level-based effects) at the cost of harder casting DCs.

Damaged While Casting: If you take damage while casting a spell, you take a penalty on the casting check equal to the damage taken from the attack or hazard. If the damage comes from an ongoing effect (such as an alchemist fire or acid arrow spell), the penalty is only half the damage dealt this round.

Distracted Casting: Certain effects make it more difficult to cast spells. Apply the following adjustments to the cast DC. Multiple effects are cumulative.

Cast defensively || +2
Grappled || +1/2 the highest grappler's CMB
Vigorous motion while casting || +2
Violent motion while casting || +4 (includes vigorous motion)
Extremely violent motion while casting || +6 (includes violent motion)
Wind with rain or sleet while casting || +1
Wind with hail and debris while casting || +2 (includes rain or sleet)
Weather caused by spell || + spell level
Entangled while casting || +4

Combat Casting: The Combat Casting feat allows the caster to ignore up to 4 points worth of modifiers that hinder their ability to cast a spell. Thus a caster could cast normally while going through violent motions, ignore the effects of being entangled, or reduce the modifier from extremely violent motions from +6 to +2, or any other combination.

Disruptive and Spellbreaker Feats: The Disruptive combat feat increases the casting DC by +4 for all enemies you threaten. This stacks with the increase from casting defensively.

The Spellbreaker feat allows you to make an attack against any foe that fails to cast a spell while threatened by you (even if they weren't trying to cast defensively).

Recommended House Rule Change the prerequisites for Disruptive and Spellbreaker from Fighter 6th and 10th to BAB +6 and +10 respectively.

Converting Concentration: For other effects that would have called for a Concentration check, use the following conversions as guidelines.

DC 5 + Spell level = +1 DC
DC 10 + Spell level = +2 DC
DC 15 + Spell level = +4 DC
DC 20 + Spell Level = +6 DC
DC 25 + Spell Level = +8 DC

Class Changes
Prepared Casters: Prepared casters treat any spell they currently have prepared as a known spell (essentially they are spontaneous casters that can change their known spells around).

Spontaneous Casters: Spontaneous casters treat their Spells Per Day chart as though it were their Spells Known chart for the purposes of how many 1st through 9th level spells they know.

Sorcerer Bloodlines: Bloodline spells are always treated as known spells in addition to your normal spells known. You may cast any bloodline spell of equal or lower level than your highest level spell known by your class.

Domains: Domain spells are always treated as prepared or known for their casters in addition to the caster's normal prepared or known spells. You may cast any bloodline spell of equal or lower level than your highest level spell known by your class.

Specialist Wizards: Wizards can prepare one additional spell of each level from their chosen school. Spells from banned schools require them to expend two spell slots as normal, reducing their overall versatility for every banned spell prepared.

Spontaneous X Spells: Classes that cast certain spells spontaneously (such as druids with summon nature's ally spells, or clerics with cure or inflict spells) may always cast those spells as though they were prepared.

Bonus Spells: Bonus spells add directly into your number of spells known (or prepared in the case of prepared casters).

Spellburn (Optional Rules)
Harnessing and controlling magical energy is a dangerous task for the uninitiated or the foolish. Such power can backfire on the caster if the caster cannot keep it under control. These backfires are hazardous and life threatening to the caster as their bodies and spirits act as living conduits for the energies that they seek to control. If their focused will is broken, so too is the flow of energy and the result can be extremely painful.

Spellburn is a mechanic to make casters wary of attempting high level magics recklessly. There are two ways to handle spellburn, and you may opt to use either, both, or none of them as is suitable for the needs of your campaign.

Spellburn as Damage: A strait-forward system. Failing to cast a spell causes the energy to overwhelm the caster's mind and body causing damage based on the amount of energy drawn for the spell. When the caster fails to cast a spell, they suffer 1d6 damage per level of the spell plus 1d6 for every +2 added by metamagic feats. The damage is then multiplied by the tier of the spell (tier 1 = x1, tier 2 = x2, tier 3 = x3).

For example, a caster who attempts to cast time stop (a tier 3, 9th level spell) would suffer 27d6 points of damage from spellburn on a failed casting. 9d6 from the spell's level multiplied by 3 for the spell's tier.

Spellburn as Strain: Uncontrolled magic shocks the mind and scorches the spirit. Failing to cast a spell causes no outward physical damage but causes an amount of ability burn to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma equal to the level of the spell that was being cast.

Ability Burn wrote:
Ability Burn: This is a special form of ability damage that cannot be magically or psionically healed. It is caused by the use of certain psionic feats and powers. It returns only through natural healing.

To cast a spell, the caster must have a key ability score of 10 + spell level + the amount of ability burn accrued.


The idea behind this system is pretty simple. It's a "skill" based system that allows you to cast magic pretty much at will, while discouraging the casting of high level magic (particularly with spellburn implemented). There is no spells per day, there isn't even a mana-system.

The casting check means that concentration-affecting things are generally far more relevant. Rather than making tons of low-DC concentration checks, you can quite readily find it very difficult to get off spells (especially high level spells) if threatened or suffering from various nasty effects.

If you want to apply an additional tax onto it, you could make it more like a skill where you have a different skill for each school such as Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, etc. Investing skill ranks into each school and having different checks for each (personally I think this might be a bit too finicky).

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Ain't that the truth? A bunch of constructs would probably be more amusing as a blockade than "big metal door" to boot. :P

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alexd1976 wrote:

To answer the original question though, the entire Tome of Battle. Ugh.

It's one thing to try to balance martial vs casters, it's another to turn martials into casters.

I sir have the Tomb of Battle. Casters it ain't.

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I think you're grasping at straws Snowblind. Who cares anyway? I just cast the spell a few times until I roll 10+ on the d20. :|

Honestly I can't think of many reasons why anyone would make a door out of adamantine anyway, especially since without some really serious magical twinkage it's still going to be trivially easy to get through for any competent party of mid-level or higher adventurers. Especially if the everything around the doors (ceiling, floors, walls, etc) aren't also adamantine (but still trivially easy to bypass with some simple sorcery).

About the only "dungeons" I can rationalize being made out of lots of adamantine are the space stations in my campaign. Most adamantine equipment is, humorously enough, made from salvaged plates of adamantine that form these "dungeons".

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