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Okay, point by point response to Ashiel's CR 8 creature analysis, followed by some of my own. Note: I'm aware Ashiel is comparing these things to the 18th level Warrior, not a Fighter, but the comparisons mostly stand (barring the 18th level Warrior having a lot more HP).
Okay, here we goooo! *Mario voice*
I'm not sure that's equivalent at all, touch AC doesn't actually come up that often. Especially in non-elemental forms (which, as you note below, are already stopped by Energy Resistance most times).
I was in an 8th level game last night, Reign of Winter, and our group won a difficult encounter pretty much solely due to touch-attacks. Our opponent was well buffed with an AC that was slightly above 30 (so we couldn't even land normal attacks until after debuffing her with conditions such as entangle and fatigue), and her saving throws were so stellar that getting stuff to stick to her was kind of a joke.
Meanwhile, touch attacks in general are super common. They are found on a wide variety of spells (acid arrow, scorching ray, vampiric touch, shocking grasp, ray of enfeeblement, ray of exhaustion, ghoul's touch, chill touch, touch of idiocy, enervation, bestow curse, etc), a number of strong tactical equipment options (alchemical weapons and nets), and things like alchemist bombs (the encounters we've been having lately would be going sooooo much smoother if we had an alchemist to nuke down everything).
Vs. spells you have a distinct point...but Cold Iron is cheap, and you're frankly expected to have it by this level. It might cost a +1 or +2 to hit and damage fom using a non-magic weapon, but it's not the actual bulwark DR 10/good or DR 10/admantine is. So...I'd say that's a wash.
A lot of that has to do with campaign expectations and how skilled the players are at the game portion of things. For example, if the GM gives no direct hints that they need to purchase cold iron weapons and they haven't been fighting things at lower levels that needed cold iron weapons then they can easily be caught unawares. Likewise, should those weapons be removed from their possession (such as via sundering, shatter, or some other method such as at-will telekinesis).
I'm a big proponent of golf-bagging explicitly because of DR like this.
Vampiric Touch delivery is a Standard Action, you can't do it as part of a Full Attack. It's a solid option...but an action consuming one. And, as a spell-like, potentially provokes AoO.
Yeah, you can, it just requires some setup which is made trivial in most cases by the Nabasu's heightened mobility. It's called holding the charge, and it means the Nabasu can use its Vampiric Touch SLA and simply not deliver it right now. Then at a later time it can deliver it with a touch attack OR as part of an unarmed attack (including natural weapons). What's even better is that if he delivers it as part of an unarmed attack the effect is not expelled on a missed attack (only when it actually lands). See Combat Chapter.
Well, yes. This has to do with being a spellcasting monster. Of course it has more options. No one, I think, and certainly not I, has argued that Fighters have as many options in combat as full casters or equivalent monsters.
But I would argue that does make them far less suitable as a BBEG or even a significant threat. There are too many ways to dismantle and invalidate them and few ways for them to adapt to circumstances, party dynamics, etc. That makes them very weak as a BBEG and arguably weak as anything other than a meat-shield for more important NPCs.
Given the fact that unless you desire to produce treasure pinatas they are also highly underwhelming it generally means they also lack the resilience to avoid simply being CC'd and dismantled at the party's general leisure. And if you slap PC wealth on them, then not much changes other than you're having the party fight with the villain's pocket book and reap tons of treasure afterwords.
Nabasu get...weird. And actually start seriously breaking CR guidelines with enough Consume Life. I won't argue that a CR 8 Fighter can match a fully buffed Nabasu...but neither can any other CR 8 anywhere.
Fortunately I was only considering it gaining 1 buff from that unless it was also escaped and came back. Every 2 points it gains with Consume Life equates to +1 CR according to its ability, so I was commenting on the ability with the expectation that it would probably one-shot some other 1 HD NPC as collateral damage, buff itself, and risk giving the PCs a negative level. Even without the +1 buff gain, it still threatens to give all the party -5 HP and -1 to all attacks, saves, skill, ability checks, and caster levels, which I think is pretty significant (especially if it's already softened up some of the PCs with a well placed enervation).
A Quick Runner's shirt is also cheap as hell. And all this is only true for some parties, a party of primarily melee characters with ridiculous saves (Paladins and Barbarians, say) will almost certainly stand toe-to-toe with the Fighter and shrug off the Nabasu's ranged options, forcing it to engage in melee as well (which it's not as good at).
I agree that Paladins and Barbarians are better suited to fighting it. I also agree that quick-runner shirts are cheap, but I also would mention that they aren't available in core either, which means a lot of people may simply not be using them or be aware of them (a quick-runner's shirt is pretty much a plus for any martial creature with an Int score of 3+ and a treasure value).
That said, I'm not convinced that the Nabasu's ranged options are so easily shrugged off. It's telekinesis for example is a formidable ranged combat option allowing it to inflict damage from relative safety by hurling objects at the party. Alternatively if its victims fail a Will save it can target their items with it and hurl them around too. Within 45 ft. enervation combined with its high BAB is a near guaranteed method of inflicting 1d4 negative levels on his target.
Erinyes are very nasty. I'll not deny...but all the stuff you list? An archery Fighter with a Potion of Fly (or who happens to be a Strix) can do almost as well.
Two words. Dispel magic. Actually wait, two more words, wind wall. Other two words include things like silent image or tiny hut. In fact fire wall is a pretty good bet too unless the arrows being shot can take the heat. Things that make shooting at the party kind of a pain (whereas the erinyes kind of laughs and just starts bombing the party for 5d8 points of damage with a long-ish range AoE).
The cost of the potion of fly still bugs me a bit but that's more or a personal preference thing so it's really a non-issue and is a good point. *thumbs up*
In regards to the Stone Giant...
Well, according to your discussion of my Fighter build, it's saves are suicide and the PCs will simply take it out with a single spell...
I agree with this, and I mentioned the Stone Giant's defenses as being its fatal flaw. To give an example why its bad saves are bad, I've been playing in Reign of Winter on Fridays under a great GM. At one point we encountered some giants...
Reign of Winter:
At one point during the AP, when we were around 7th level - I forget exactly what level but I'm pretty sure we weren't 8th yet but higher than 5th-6th I think, there was an encounter with a bunch of frost giants versus us and Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut.
Now the GM remarked mid-way through the fight that he was amused because it would seem that the writer of the AP had assumed that the Dancing Hut was going to do the lion's share of the fighting since we were being overran in a glade by a bunch of CR 9 giants. Except, to his amusement, that wasn't what was going on at all...
We were tearing the giants apart and the giants could scarcely do anything. My psion just tossed ectoplasmic sheen (grease) during most rounds, greasing their weapons, the ground, the works. We were having little trouble kiting them around, debuffing them, and then tearing them to shreds when they were at a disadvantage. Touch attacks and saving throw-targeting low-level effects being the crux of our initial tactics. Our party's dual-wielding melee guy, antipaladin, and our recently acquired bloody-skeleton medium white dragon pretty much cleaned up in melee, while our 3/4 BAB archer was harassing a few of them.
Heck, when they turned to flee, we pursued them until we just decided to let the last one escape out of mercy (because we would have caught him and we would have killed him).
So I fully agree that the stone-giant's saves are pretty much horrible. But like the otherwise naked warrior, if equipped with feats that aren't antithetical to the stone giant's strengths, and its treasure value used for items fitting an intelligent humanoid (in much the same way the warrior or fighter would) it's a bit less suicidal. The biggest reason the warrior I posted had decent saves was because it's base saves weren't so bad, and I gave him the saving throw boosters and the improved saving throws (because I expected that he would be on the receiving end of a CC effect and he needs to have a buffer against at least one good CC to pose a threat).
I noted that the same was true for the giant (a little armor, slightly more realistic feat choices, a few trinkets) and then the giant was more respectable.
Yes...and be higher CR, since you have changed it's stats to make it more effective. That's how monster stat-blocks work.
Put simply, no, that is not how monster statblocks work. Changing a couple of feats and swapping weapons does not change the CR of the monster. Never has.
Okay, y'know what, you're right. These articular changes don't raise CR. They just make there absolutely no reason to close into melee with the Giant. You pick it off at range, or with spells, casually. Again, how dangerous this actually is depends heavily on your articular party makeup.
Sure there is. The adjustments that I suggested for the giant were along the lines of the same kind made for the warrior and there's still plenty of reason to get into melee. The difference is that many of the feats that the giant had initially did it no favors (point blank shot + precise shot don't really help with rock throwing very much, especially since rock throwing is their long range option for when they haven't effectively closed to melee, likewise burning a feat to use a greatclub is just downright stupid when they're already proficient in maces, spears, morning stars, staffs, and normal clubs).
The replacements didn't make them much more dangerous in melee for martials, but it did make them less likely to be one-shot by any ol' Reflex or Will-targeting spell (charm person has become something of a running gag as a giant-buster in several of my groups), and the slightly adjusted armor values favors martials since they can still reliably hit the giant effectively (at 8th level you've got 8 BAB, easily +4 to +6 from ability scores, at least a +1 from masterwork weapon, which is between 13-15 unbuffed).
It makes it more difficult to kite / CC the giant which makes martial superiority a bigger deal. For example, a core martial doesn't really feel much of a change in terms of the giant's offensive prowess (changing to a simple weapon such as a club/staff, spear, or longspear doesn't change the giant's offensive strengths vs martials much sans the reach, but since as you noted they still only get 1 AoO on an incoming martial it won't change much), and the addition of leather armor and better saves doesn't really matter, but it can matter a bit more to archers and casters who would otherwise kite / CC the giant easily.
A dire tiger is a different kind of encounter, and not the BBEG kind. A dire tiger (tigers in general in fact) are shock encounters. They are a living glass cannon. Tigers and dire-tigers follow this routine:
1. Ambush party and standard-action charge.
Not BBEG material either, and it's all offense (it's offense is amaaaaazing). Worst case scenario for the party the tiger murders a PC, wins initiative and then skirts back off into the jungle to do it again later.
The Nabasu, Erinyes, and Giant were a bit more honest I felt as each of those could be a CR 8 BBEG. They had the cognitive function and tactical capability to actually try to be a BBEG.
I didn't mention a dragon because dragons are kind of a class of their own when it comes to D&D Monsters. I'd really recommend trying to find a 3.5 copy of the Draconomicon from WotC which is a really good look at dragons, their resources, and how they're not quite your usual breed of D&D enemies. It's also just a generally fun read for anyone who likes dragons.
That said, I think you might be selling the green dragon a little short. The entangle SLA is significant because the AoE on it is actually really enormous (it's a 40 ft. radius which means it is actually 80 ft. from one side to the other) and even if you don't become entangled the entire area becomes difficult terrain and can attempt to entangle you on multiple rounds. Dragons in general are exceptionally good at hit and run tactics cast spells as sorcerers (and even without a caster level they can activate wands and such if they are on their spell list). In general, every fight with a dragon can be a little different depending on what the dragon is using, but a few immediate things spring to mind.
The green dragon's feat selection is...weird. It qualifies for flyby attack but has Cleave for seemingly no discernible reason (cleave is a useless feat on a dragon). Merely by giving it flyby attack the dragon it excels at hit and run. A 40 ft. cone from an aerial vantage translates to a rather big AoE while the creature is moving around at 200 ft. / round. This combos fairly nicely with the ability to drop Entangle spells from up to 760 ft. away while flying around, forcing opponents to use ranged attacks.
If encountered in its native environment and not airborn, the green dragon has both water breathing combined with a good swim speed and woodland stride. Seeing as they live in temperate forests their environment is innately part of the encounter as they can freely move through the difficult terrain and undergrowth of forests and move through rivers, streams, lakes, and so forth. In these environments the dragon is poised to make top use of its stealth and mobility while minimizing a party's ability to fight back.
The green dragon is an entirely tactical encounter - not a brute force encounter - even before factoring in treasure drinkers like wands and such.
If it makes you feel any better I think the giant slug is a joke too. :P
Once again this doesn't strike me as BBEG material, but again it looks like you're just comparing numbers, which is nice but the tricerotops is like a panzer. It's mode of operation is pretty simple, charge in and plow someone for big damage, then trample over the melee for more damage, if applicable, charge again.
Unfortunately the dinosaur has some errors in its statblock. It has the Improved Critical feat and it isn't tied to any attack (including its gore attack with is not listed with a 19-20 threat range), so that feat literally is doing nothing and isn't even legal in that regard (I don't think you take take Improved Critical if it's not keyed to a weapon). A better option would probably be Vital Strike or heck even Fleet (the +5ft. speed feat as funny as that is), or Toughness, or Improved Natural Armor, or Improved Natural Attack (bringing its 2d10 to 4d8 I believe). Same with Improved Bull Rush which is pretty useless and doesn't do much for its trampling (Ability Focus - Trample would be a good alternative).
Like the tiger, the tricerotops has kind of a single but powerful shtick that it sticks to and I likewise didn't find it BBEG material (this goes without saying for the slug).
Most of the CR 8 creatures you compared solely for their pound for pound numbers without taking into account the finer aspects of an encounter with them based on their ecology and non-numerical abilities (such as the woodland stride and aquatic supremacy of the green dragon). Each of these is more than worthy of the CR 8 mantle.
I still do not believe that treasure pinata is worthy of that mantle.
I've used adepts much like this one with great results. In fact I was just talking with another friend of mine last night about this subject (he also laughed at the prospect of a Fighter-BBEG, because his response was basically "Why would you? I use Fighter NPCs when I want my party to level faster") and he remarked at how much he really enjoyed using adepts (especially as necromancers since their caster level allows for a lot of undead without them throwing around high-tier spells).
The biggest edge that adept NPCs have is their caster level is strong. This means they use low level spells powerfully, like Ilja pointed out, they can get 10d6 lightning bolts around CR 4.5 (a 10d6 lightning bolt is an average of 35 damage, save halves) which is a pretty impressive "big gun".
However, when not using them as a APL+2-3 encounter in that way (because low-level PCs are way more fragile) they work really well. Since their save DCs aren't based on caster level and instead based on their key ability + the level of the spell, adept spells tend to still be on the mediocre side in terms of save DCs, and I don't really have an issue with a CR 5 adept chucking a 10d6 lightning bolt at DC 13+casting stat when a CR 5 basilisk can just one-shot anyone within 30 ft. without trying (and assuming average HP, even a wizard with a +1 Con will have 25 HP at 5th level which makes the likelihood of one-shotting the wizard pretty low since the wizard has to both fail their saving throw vs a fairly low DC and then the 10d6 needs to inflict slightly above average damage; so our d6 squishy actually has a better chance of surviving this big attack than say...a CR 4 tiger pounce).
It's also worth noting that when it comes to NPC classed enemies, whether or not you give them standard or heroic point buy is a big deal. For example, normal NPCs are built on 3 point buy (this is mentioned in the Getting Started chapter where it explains ability score generation and later confirmed on the Creating NPCs page where the normal arrays are built on 3 point buy) while heroic NPCs are like PCs and built on 15 point buy.
As a result, this generally means that most of an NPC-classed character's oomph is going to come from their base statistics and you may wish to reserve the heroic point buy for exceptional individuals and BBEGs as a general rule. :)
Now me personally, while I think NPC classed NPCs (or hybrid PC/NPC classed NPCs) can make really good solo-encounters I'm generally far more fond of using lower-CR mixed groups (as is pretty evident from the encounter building articles on my blog), so if I was building a CR 8 encounter, instead of dropping a single tough CR 8 warrior into the mix, I'd probably drop a pretty tough CR 5-6 warrior, and then a smattering of low-CR adepts, warriors, and maybe the odd PC or hybrid NPC, or some animals (I love animals and beasts like wardogs or tigers in mostly humanoid encounter).
Thank you for the support SPCDRI. (^_^)
In all fairness though, the warrior NPC class works really well. It functions as intended (according to the bestiary every +2 warrior levels is +1 CR, which works very well). Most of the NPC classes work really well for creating a respectable NPC of varying strengths with very little prep work. That's the best part about them is the very little prep work. You don't have to slug through a ton of rulebooks looking for just the right alternate class feature, or worry about which weapon groups they have favored and at what bonuses, etc. You just slap on some HD and go.
Works very well.
Starbuck II wrote:
Actually it's still the same way in Pathfinder according to the Bestiary, just like it was in 3.5 with the Monster Manual. Given that the Bestiary / Monster Manual is the authority on creatures and their CR, and the rule has seniority and a history of working well (so much that they continued it in Pathfinder) it's not really much wonder that the rules found there for advancing creatures are more accurate than a single sentence in the Gamemastering section.
That single sentence being that the CR of NPCs is level-1 (for PC classes) or level-2 (for NPC classes). Which works perfect at 1st level. So I will totally agree that a 1st level warrior is CR 1/3. Then I use the bestiary rules to advance that creature.
Voila. Works like magic.
This is true to some degree, but misleading, basically because you can add most of this to Fighters pretty easily via Gear. A Potion of Fly isn't that expensive, for example. nor the Quick Runner's Shirt, which you mention.
Actually those are very expensive. A potion of fly is 750 gp baseline, minimum caster level. Assuming you're going by the core rulebook, that's almost 10% of his full gear allotment for only 5
And you still suck for your CR. You are now officially a treasure pinata!
And your "CR 8" warrior is, I'll repeat, over 60,000 gp below where the guidelines say he should be on gold. Adding that much equipment is going to inevitably make him a lot better...though maybe not CR 16 where he's theoretically supposed to be.
Here's the thing though, I'm not picking and choosing to cheat the CR. See, I'm using the bestiary rules for advancing monsters so naturally I'm going to use the bestiary rules for advancing monsters when it comes to their gear-set.
Which by the way says to issue them gear equivalent to a heroic NPC of their CHALLENGE RATING. Say it with me. Of their CHALLENGE...RATING. No gold fountains here. It's absolute madness to take a CR 3 encounter, slap treasure on it equivalent to CR 20+ creature on it, and then declare it a CR 8 encounter. That's just stupidity of the highest caliber. >_>
Not only does that simply not work and creates an even more extreme treasure pinata, but it actually again forces the idea that you are not going to be fighting the BBEG, you are going to be fighting the BBEG's pocket book. We would simply not use martial BBEGs ever if that was the only option.
Fortunately the Bestiary has this to say.
And it does not lie.
Thank you greatly for demonstrating that with proper optimization the fighter is still grossly underpowered and will be a lawn ornament in a very short time. Without the Improved saving throw feats his saving throws are a death sentence, and despite all this optimization he's still not really anything special in comparison to the CR 8 warrior, except that he's an easier encounter that awards even more treasure.
Because you pushed his ability to kill harder to try to make up the deficiency, but now he just has bad defenses all around. To try to shore up his defenses would require several rounds of chugging potions to do anything worthwhile, and he's still completely hosed by a 2nd level spell (even at +10 Fortitude save, he has a significant chance to just be wiped with a DC 18 blindness spell, or a hideous laughter, or DC 19 deep slumber, or DC 19 hold person, or DC 19 slow).
You've also demonstrated that all that extra effort was worthless, and displayed one of the greatest advantages that NPC classes have. Simplicity. It takes precious little time to dump lots of warrior levels, figure out power attack modifiers, select a couple feats and call it a day.
Also, if you use PC wealth, then the total CR increases by +1.
Looking at the CR 8 fighter once more, we ended up with a "brute" enemy who had no special abilities, mediocre mobility, less than 80 hit points (which is actually 20 points below par), paltry defenses, and exceptionally limited capabilities in combat.
The fact that the most common suggestion for making the fighter semi-competent is loading up on UMD and faking being a spellcaster speaks volumes and frankly does nothing to drive home that this is a powerful warlord-worthy martial power that is worthy of a team of heroes to face in epic combat. In most cases said martial would just be be invalidated with a simple utterance of a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level spell.
If we add minions into the mix, in general that is going to increase the overall CR of the encounter, which means we also need to plan accordingly (so while the martial BBEG might be the centerpiece of the display, we're going to need to shave a bit off the top to make room for the full spread).
That said, with tactical backup a martial can look particularly nice. Some people have mentioned sitting them on dragon mounts (it's a freaking dragon, I don't think "I'm a fighter" is really doing the encounter any favors), and heavy buffing/healing from minions. These are all great ideas in their own right and yet not a single one really showcases the fighter as being anything but a well groomed dog, and one that's still not bringing home any ribbons when you replace the fighter in the encounter with the nearest equivalent martial PC class (if you need a powerful charismatic BBEG, antipaladin, if you need a powerful warlord, Barbarian, if you need a cunning slayer, Ranger).
Actually this is directly related to the thread because your commentary opens up a perfect avenue to show not only why this is a CR 8 creature but exactly why Fighters inevitably fail as BBEGs.
Let's again look at the posted CR 8 warrior. You're absolutely right, this warrior has significantly more HP, slightly better AC, and to-hit bonuses that are comparable to the CR 8 monster guidelines found in the Monster Creation block, but such is not the whole story, because that chart is grossly misleading and when compared to the majority of the bestiary, actual monsters are more dangerous than the chart would suggest because of things like special abilities and/or statistics that are not listed on the chart (such as mobility options, incorporeality, perception-effects such as blindsight, etc).
The Nabasu has...
The Dig: The simple fact of the matter is that the Nabasu is overall more dangerous than the CR 8 warrior. Even when counting the warrior's equipment, his overall combat routine relies entirely upon being a superior martial combatant and being able to strait out survive incoming attacks by soaking damage while threatening opponents who would ignore him. Even still, unless equipped with a potion of fly or similar, a single wind wall and fly will ruin his offensive routine, while peppering him with attacks is going to lead to him being unable to full-attack effectively (which means that a quickrunner's shirt is almost required if you want him to be a significant threat to even a 6th level party.
A Fighter in his place would have no prayer whatsoever and would be completely invalidated the moment the party decided to drop any pit spell, charm person, or just decided beat through him (the warrior at least is tanky enough and deals enough burst damage that simply running him over isn't a strong option).
Again comparing to our CR 8 warrior, the warrior is definitely no more dangerous than the erinyes except in its limited specialization (that specialization being "soak some more damage and get a full-attack off").
The Stone Giant...
As a brute the giant is also comparable to the CR 8 warrior though it's a fight that's is a little different in terms of tactics and individual strengths. Another thing that's worth pointing out is that when I was building the CR 8 warrior I designed him specifically to be more dangerous, choosing a longsword so he could wield it even if grappled, two-handing it for best power-attack routines, giving him blind-fight to make it less likely to one-shot him with glitterdust or blindness/deafness or any cloud or light-affecting spells, and gearing all of his feats towards improving his saving throws and resiliency. While the giant has an absolutely terrible feat selection (seriously, who spends a feat on greatclubs when you've already got proficiency with longspears, clubs, maces, and shortspears?), and if given a similar feat selection and equipment loadout would look even more like the warrior.
A giant dropping the weapon proficiency feat, point blank shot, quick draw, and precise shot and picking up lightning reflexes, improved initiative, improved iron will, and lunge or improved lightning reflexes, and then wielding a masterwork longspear while wearing some leather armor or masterwork studded leather armor would still be the same CR but it would round the encounter out better (the giant's AC would be 25, and while it's average damage would drop by 1 point it would increase its reach, and be heartier).
Once again, a "CR 8 Fighter" has nothing on what the bestiary already gives. It is nothing more than a speed bump pinata with no tactical capability outside of whatever its equipment allows, making it pretty much inferior to any other core martial or just throwing NPC levels on an enemy.
When rules conflict it's generally a good policy to go with the interpretation that works. I never claimed that there was only one method, but I did claim the method that works. And by works, I mean the method that produces NPCs that have statistics, treasure, and relative difficulty that fit their ascribed CRs when compared to the Bestiary (which is the authority on the subject). Go figure.
Of course, it wouldn't be the first time that rules conflict on a wide scale. There is tons of material in the game that directly contradicts or just fails to work correctly with the alignment rules. As a general rule I go with what works.
This isn't a house rule. This is seeing two rules that conflict and going with the one that is functional.
Also, re-reading this, I should also note that while the middle ground will never make a Paladin fall for acting neutral, if the Paladin just acts neutral most of the time then he'll stop being a Paladin because his alignment is Neutral.
This is because alignment does not dictate the way you act but the way that you act does dictate your alignment. If you're consistently being neutral then your alignment will be neutral. If you're consistently being good, you will be good. This is why being a Paladin is generally such a big deal in terms of things. Not only do they simply not do evil things but they actively do good things more often than not.
This is also one of the problems with the idea of "forced alignment" as it goes against everything that the alignment system is. For example, let's pretend for a moment that I'm a vampire, you're my victim, and I turn you into another vampire. When you become a vampire your alignment changes to Evil, but being a vampire has literally no further effect on your personality beyond whatever you want to explore with that change, so if you now as a vampire don't kill people (vampires can very easily feed on both nonsentient creatures as well as not kill their victims), then your alignment will just naturally shift back to whatever fits your personality.
It's stuff like this that really reminds me how odd my characters must be for attempting to stabilize every NPC that we end up fighting. I've got an 8th (now technically 9th level psion since our last session's XP but I haven't leveled her up yet) who has a few ranks in heal so that I can take-10 and stabilize people. Generally speaking this applies to NPCs who've wound up on the wrong end of our party's offense. She usually just eats the dead ones though, and in the case of certain NPCs, animates them.
Shooting a police officer in self defense is still self defense. It is not by any means lawful however, nor is it going to be well received by the vast majority of people because even if it's not evil doesn't mean it's acceptable and comes with its own set of consequences.
Whether something is criminal or not has little to do with morality and instead what is or is not acceptable within that society, which is why laws are not universal but actual good and evil in D&D is (slavery is does not stop being evil the moment you walk into Cheliax, it just stops being unacceptable).
Yeah but if they can't fight back and can't find you, the swarm just gets to chase them around. It has a duration of concentration and can't be hurt by weapons. Spider swarms have a climb speed, deal 1d6 damage, and threaten poison + nausea.
You could kill a Greater Vital Striking T-Rex like this.
Maybe they're slowly phasing the rogue out so that they can finally butcher one sacred cow in the next edition that has been damaging the game since it was added.
Liam Warner wrote:
Yeah there is. Death ward (cleric/paladin spell) not only makes you totally immune to all negative energy and energy drain effects, it provides a +4 on saves vs death effects, and lasts 10 min / level to boot (which means more than 1 hour at the level a cleric gets it).
Stephen Ede wrote:
Hahahaha. You complain that we are being niche by discussing high level play (which most APs go into the upper teens), but you keep talking about 10th level silver dragons extra GM-granted powers and hero points. I find a humorous irony there. Anyway...
Say it with me...
I'm not sure what frosty the dragon's AC and stats are sans all of his buffs, but if he's burning actions to recast his buffs, I'm not sure what good he's doing to the balor and his minions. >_>
Meanwhile, pinning the Balor down is kind of a joke. Assuming he doesn't just keep flying around or walking about and not minding the odd AoO, he can cast greater teleport defensively without fail (1d20+28 vs DC 29) to be wherever he wants to be.
And as long as we're talking about unusual PCs, let's chat about NPCs. Our Balor has spent virtually none of his treasure. On top of that, his feats aren't particularly great. If we swap the Two-Weapon Fighting, Cleave, and Weapon Focus (longsword) out and give him Improved Unarmed Strike, Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Mobility, and Blind-fight. Now the Balor happily coasts around throwing SLAs around with impunity. Since he's proficient with bows, we could include a bow and he can take pot-shots at people while he's moving around, and you can't hit him with things like Manyshot or Vital Strike shots.
I never said I took that approach. I said I didn't consider it an appropriate approach to take. Somehow you keep trying to read that as "I took this approach".
What do you expect me to think? This is what I said.
If you are upping the stats of monsters to hit defense specialized players at rates similar to non-defensive specialized players you are doing it (GMing) wrong.
What was your response to mine? You got defensive. And then responded to this post to talk about how you don't mind your PCs being powerful, but it just seems to be an example of big numbers (and big numbers don't impress me so much as real options and actually being better at playing).
You keep saying I'm somehow trying to draw a conclusion. I made a statement that built off of yours and you got defensive, acted like I was calling you out specifically (guilty conscience? >_>) and now here we are.
What did you expect me to think when I never said you did anything but then you got defensive when I made that comment?
I have a shapeshifting psion and her psicrystal (which also shapeshifts). The psicrystal is immune to level drain but is just kinky (and that's cannon). A fun fact about psionic shapeshifting is metamorphosis doesn't require you to pick a common form so your imagination is the limits. You can even turn into objects...animated! :P
Vivianne Laflamme wrote:
Actually, yeah. I'd consider taking LLV for a feat. It basically lets you see clearly in any area of dim light or better, which means in a lot of cases you can avoid pesky concealment and enemies can't make Stealth checks (such as the dim of night).
Low-light vision is pretty cool. One of the perks that makes it somewhat competitive with darkvision is the fact there's no range limit on it either, so in cases where there is just concealment-levels of darkness, it's kind of like super-vision.
It beats the hell out of Weapon Focus, that's for sure. It opens up new tactical options and foils a few tactical options.
Stephen Ede wrote:
That's tge 2nd time you've said that apparently as an attack on my GMing failure been the reason I found Crane Wing a problem in High AC builds.
*stretches and yawns*
I said, "Once again, if you are upping the stats of monsters to hit defense specialized players at rates similar to non-defensive specialized players you are doing it (GMing) wrong".
So are you confirming that you did this, even if you thought it was a bad idea? Because upping their to-hit to obscene levels is not only very petty but it addresses the real issue like upping the to-hit bonus on an archer versus the dude with Deflect Arrows (you're still not going to land Manyshot).
I can only assume that you did in fact do this, because you seem highly offended when I made the statement that doing that would be very poor. So I guess you did do it, since you responded that I was attacking your "GMing failure". Let's get past that for a moment and look at the real issue.
Crane Wing has pretty much nothing to do with high AC builds beyond merely allowing them to ignore one auto-hit per round, since according to you, you're going after the "5% chance to always land a hit", since Crane Wing isn't providing the AC boost, it's just deflecting an attack that is incoming. This can only be done once per round and amusingly is less effective against weak enemies (since if you have a 95% evasion due to AC vs incoming attacks of level appropriate enemies, anything with a lower to-hit bonus still has the same % chance to land attacks).
I'm not sure what you plan to do if you won't accept that being difficult to hit by melee attacks isn't a thing. High level combat would make anyone who dislikes Crane Wing cry themselves to sleep. At high levels, martials can have ACs that are capped at the 95% mark against balors, with 20-50% miss chances on top of that, and quite possibly a 75% or better chance to just outright ignore critical hits, and then you likely have some form of damage reduction on top of it to boot.
If a player has a 95% chance to avoid incoming physical attacks, you either begin debuffing or attacking them differently, or throw out more attacks. If the player is not having fun because s/he is not challenged by martial combat (an odd thing to assume given that their build is based around the idea of being hard to deal with in melee combat) and you are just looking for more opportunities to challenge them, there are countless ways. Using less equal-to-high CR melee brutes and throwing more mooks into the fray is a good way (if you're fishing for 20s anyway, fish more).
Not that it matters I guess since you said...
The problem is that players don't like to feel that they are under no threat/challenge and they don't like been beaten with magic when they are Melee specalists.
It's clearly unreasonable to challenge PCs with anything except in areas where they clearly excel. Do you nerf melee monsters when they get into range of the casters because they don't like being beaten with physical when they are magic specialists?
I hate deathless because corpses powered by positive energy are called living. Also it further pushes the "this neutral aligned energy is good and that neutral aligned energy is evil".
It's like trying to say the elemental plane of fire is good and the elemental plane of water is evil, because...just because...
Stephen Ede wrote:
Those things don't really tell me much about their relative power, other than you're open to unusual races. The most powerful thing on that list that I see is the shadow and they have their own issues (magic items being their big one).
But there are different kinds of power. I'm one of those people who is very unimpressed with big numbers and very unimpressed with exotic races or special builds as a means of power. I find them more of a crutch. Instead, how you play is more impressive to me.
The problem is that players don't like to feel that they are under no threat/challenge and they don't like been beaten with magic when they are Melee specalists. Crane Wing on a high AC build makes it extremely difficult to create a physical combat challenge. And Crane Wing is only really good at countering Melee attacks, which it is awesome at in the right build.
No, it's not. I've had PCs that have crane wing. It's pretty useless against NPCs who use tactics. Nets, alchemical items, invisible foes, ranged attacks, tag-teaming, the works.
And no, a high AC Crane Wing build didn't take all their resources to build. It takes only moderate resources from offensive activities.
Because being a punching bag is a bad idea in any game.
Because it can be done easily with a 2 lev Monk Dip and by appropriate equipment/skills and party magic.
Well buffed individuals generally are pretty good, yes. A 2 level monk dip is indeed a great dip for most martials.
Still, I can't see it being such a superior tactic in any combat that wasn't already a snorefest...
Crane Wing needed a nerf so that it didn't synergize with high AC builds to make Melee invunerable builds.
Fortunately it didn't do that.
Just because you or your players didn't use these builds didn't change the fact that a number of players and GMs ran or ran into such builds.
Oh no, don't get it twisted. I've had players that did just this. It's pretty much assumed that if you're going the crane-wing route you are going to be pushing AC and melee survivability. I even had a friend/player who fought with a shield in one hand an the other hand he used for crane-wing, interchanging unarmed strikes and/or shield bashes while fighting defensively.
Still not invulnerable even in melee, but he was darn good against melee. But then, that's what he was going for. He also went with the MoMS dip (also for the +3 saves) because why not? It didn't make him unstoppable, it just made him good at what he was designed to do.
Simply saying Crane Wing can't be used on an attack of a natural 19 or 20 would've done fine.
Once again, if you are upping the stats of monsters to hit defense specialized players at rates similar to non-defensive specialized players you are doing it (GMing) wrong.
This. It is a nonmagical effect that forces your character to do something by their own choice. It breaks the cardinal rule of not making decisions about someone else's characters, which is not the same as mind-control. The difference is that someone who commands you using charm person forces a decision, someone using Antagonize makes the character make a decision of their own will.
Cairen Weiss wrote:
The funny thing is, barring the occasional feat swapping and stuff, most of my GMing activities remain fairly much in the realm of core. I still have no issues challenging players.
Stuff I allow in the group.
1. All core rulebook material.
Barring a few things that I've banned (I'll stop playing before I sit at a table with Antagonize) or tweaked (summoner got tweaked into a 9th level progression with a extremely trimmed spell list), I'll allow most anything as long as it's reasonable.
1. Core rulebook material.
I tend to keep things simple. Nobody has complained about my games being too easy yet. If anything, I can't figure out why they put up with struggles, but they keep crawling back for more. :P
One could make the same complaint that damage dealing characters are overpowered because you have to keep inflating the HP of your enemies so that the damage dealers don't kill them too quickly, and that isn't fair because now the ones who aren't specializing in dealing damage are even less effective.
The argument is stupid either way. You specialize in those things explicitly so that you can be better at them than everyone else who has not specialized in them.
It also shows a gross lack of understanding of your tools as a GM.
Stephen Ede wrote:
If you are upping the stats of monsters to hit defense specialized players at rates similar to non-defensive specialized players you are doing it (GMing) wrong.
It depends on how much you wanted it to remain like core casting. I personally would prefer allowing you prep X spells and then spontaneously cast these, but have less juice overall.
However, Lemmy was talking about allowing you to prepare spells in the traditional way, but using your pool to determine what you could prepare, which would work a bit differently but have some cool results of its own (the only issue that really springs to mind in this case is damage spells, since for a few levels it would be seemingly more efficient to prepare more fireball spells than cone of cold but then that's not much of a difference).
Another poster on these boards (whose name escapes me at the moment) dispensed with the whole thing entirely and allows core casters to use modular spell slots (IE - you can break down a 3rd level spell into 3 1st level spells, or vice versa) and he says it's way cool and gives wizards more options when preparing spells, but loves sorcerer types a ton since they get more flexibility on the go (allowing them to on the fly trade a fireball down to 3 magic missiles or back up again, etc).
There's a lot of ways one could tackle these sorts of things, and all of them have their own pros and cons. If you could keep them all pretty balanced, there's no reason not to just make more ways that you can play so as to appeal to a wider variety of people. :P
Actually, in my monday game, there are a pair of vampires traveling with the PCs (which include 2 NPC templar and 1 PC paladin templar) out of a sort of quest necessity. The Paladin has been allowing them to feed on him to sate their hungers, since he can simply heal the ability damage each day with lesser restoration.
This is a thing since he tried to heal one of the vampires with Lay on Hands at one point to try to remove an apparent scar she had (it was just a wound that was still fast healing) and kind of melted her face off, and she failed her save vs hunger and tried to eat him. He grappled her and tied her up without harming her until she calmed down, and then he was like "Oh, crap, I didn't know she was a vampire. Um...well I don't hate her so..."
They don't entirely trust the vampires, but the two vampires in the party tend to get all the blood they need during their adventures and from the party during their downtime.
I wouldn't. Core casters benefit from a thing known as "free scaling" where your spells just get better with your caster level. At 9th level (when you have 5th level powers that would cost 9 PP) you spells like magic missile deal around 17.5 force damage that is essentially unavoidable for most enemies in the game.
Likewise, 1st-3rd level spells generally get relegated to buffing and problem solving after they are simply no longer useful (and 3rd level spells actually never fall out of use, especially due to lesser metamagic rods).
It's quite rare that my psion pushes all her PP into powers when she can. It's foolishness. It's a good way to get stuck without any juice, because the psionics system was created with the versatility in mind, which is why a strait conversion of spell slots to PP favors core casters.
For example, if we take sorcerer (the class most similar to the psion in functionality) they have what would equate to...
Psion Base Power + Bonus Power (30 Int)
This is one of the biggest reasons the "omg trading up" thing is a load of crap. In a strait conversion, the sorcerer has more juice than the psion ever will (and the psion and wilder have the largest PP pools in the game), but the psion (and to a lesser extent the wilder) have improved flexibility in the way they use those powers, so the original designers took that into account. The system expects that you will trade up some of your juice and is set accordingly.
That's not even accounting for the benefits of "free scaling" that core casters get. If a 10th level sorcerer casts scorching ray he gets 3 rays that each deal 4d6 damage, and if he uses fireball he gets 10d6 damage (the same damage as his cone of cold. If he casts haste or slow it affects +1 creature / level, etc. The sorcerer's lower level powers get significantly stronger with each passing level, until they finally hit some sort of cap (usually but not always).
Psionicists don't get that very often. About the best scaling powers I can think of that don't necessarily require you to up the cost of them are telekinetic maneuver, energy wall, and wall of ectoplasm. TK maneuver uses your caster level + key stat to preform combat maneuvers; energy wall deals 2d6 + your caster level to anyone who walks through the wall (so while it's really slow scaling it does scale a bit); and wall of ectoplasm gives you more wall to use as your level increases, but it is also naturally weaker than the core wall spells like Wall of Stone and Wall of Iron (it's comparable to "wall of wood").
EDIT: My point is the game assumes a certain amount of resource allocation and allowing a caster to "go nova" by blowing it all at once breaks the assumed (already pretty flimsy, according to many people) encounter balance.
Core casters go nova better, and have been able to go nova forever. They even have cool things to help them such as x/day rods (the lesser ones are cheap), and spellcasting books (book of harms). The nova-thing is the reason for the so called 15 minute workday often bemoaned when talking about D&D. Their free scaling also makes their novas brighter (because chucking a pair of slow spells in the same round is going to suck for most enemies, and chucking around blasting spells with maximize and empower attached to them via rods is going to hurt).
Meanwhile, if you go through a marathon-style adventure, you end up turning it on its head. At low through mid levels, now you run into the issue of your spellcasters deciding if it's even worthwhile for them to do anything in the fight since the enemies are probably not worth the resources to bother with, so the casters sit back and watch the rest of the party fight the lower CR enemies.
While the idea that the casters sitting around twiddling their thumbs might sound like a great idea to the "martials against casters"-enthusiasts, it's pretty boring for the people around the table not doing anything (just like casters doing everything is unsatisfying to martials).
Fast forward to psionics. You got one big encounter today with like a bajillion enemies and their big bad boss? You can do that. It won't be as strong as a core caster (because psionic characters do not get to enjoy free scaling, have more limited metamagic options, do not get access to things like metamagic rods, and their pearls of power suck tarrasque sausage) but you can adapt to it. Your party encountering a marathon of APL-3 encounters? You don't have to sit around and twiddle your thumbs, just throw around more low-cost powers to compensate.
Most PF characters already do this. The good martials do. Barbarians, Paladins, and Rangers all bring a lot of resources to the party that get really scary when they decide to go nova and start burning through all their tricks (ranger + instant enemy + quarry class feature = something is going to die; paladin + smite + buffs + lay on hands = indomitable; barbarian + rage + rage powers + no need to conserve rage = unstoppable oiled up god of war).
In our friday games, the martial characters in my group love my psion. When we're encountering weak-ish enemies, I hang back and use powers like ectoplasmic sheen (which is essentially grease) to grease enemy weapons, the floor under enemies, or our martials when they get grappled. I also toss out low level astral constructs to provide soft cover or speedbumps to hinder enemy advancement or provide flanking buddies that the enemy needs to waste time on to kill if they want them to go away.
When fighting like this, she can go all day. If needed, I can toss out a dispel psionics, or telekinetic force and hurl our party's dual-wielder into position for a full-attack (allowing him to get a full-attack before our enemy). I'm also highly fond of just joining in with them by manifesting metamorphosis and sharing it with my psicrystal and then we go around spitting aid at enemies for 3d6 acid damage. If we're having a really bad fight, I'll share pain with one or more martials in our party and then burn my PP on vigor (often with readied actions after the fact) to keep my HP up while giving them a damage cushion.
Since the Pathfinder core martials (save for the fighter) are much better at running at different speeds (as opposed to the 3.x versions that had little more than basic weapon attacks as a resource), I find that the two compliment each other very well. No matter what pacing of encounters I'm using as a GM, the party can bend and adapt to it and nobody sits around twiddling their thumbs waiting for an enemy that's worth casting, and everyone can bring their A-game when I have a giant encounter.
AD&D and 3.0 psionics share only slight similarities. 3.5/Pathfinder psionics are very simple and much easier to explain to newbies. I've also found it easier to adjudicate as a GM, because in core I have to make sure I know all the components of an effects.
For example, there's quite a few spells with foci. Some with material components. Most have somatic components, but then lots of them don't (which means even in arcane magic, there's some spells that ignore spell failure % and some that don't).
While psionics has something similar (displays) they are pretty much entirely for fluff and don't actually lead to me having to keep track of every one of them to make sure I know which ones do or do not work in in weird subsituations.
I guess those with the power make the rules. :P
That said, the whole undead = alignment thing is pretty stupid at its core. The alignment rules themselves even attest to this. The alignment rules dictate that creatures without appropriately high intelligence are neutral even if they act in a way that would resemble alignments because they don't have the capacity to comprehend what they are doing.
Further, the alignment of a creature is determined by how they act, making most of these arguments and even the alignment things on templates worthless wastes of space.
For example, let's take the Vampire template.
The vampire template changes your alignment to evil. However, it doesn't do anything beyond this to make you stay evil. This means that if a Paladin was turned into a vampire, they would for a moment become evil and then kick right back to being Lawful Good because...they are lawful good. The alignment rules say your alignment is based on how you act, and if the vampire acts like a Paladin, then by god they are going to end up Lawful Good almost immediately.
On a side note, that's a big reason why turning a paladin would be really dumb on the part of an evil vampire, since if the Paladin ever gets out from under the vampire's control (such as s/he gets to many levels and breaks the HD limit, or the vampire is slain) then s/he just created the worst nightmare for any evil vampires (a vampire paladin vampire slayer; all the vampire slaying power of the paladin combined with immunity to the vampires' worst attacks).
Coming back to the alignment thing, it's the same with mindless undead. Let's say we follow the RAW literally. That means both the RAW for animate dead, the skeleton/zombie templates, and Alignment.
1. We cast animate dead. It shows up as [Evil] on detect evil and similar things. It can't be cast by good clerics (but can be cast by good everything else). Since we need something to animate, we'll assume that we purchased an ox for 15 gp, sacrificed it with death knell, and are going to use the meat from the animal to feed the poor ('cause we're necromancers and we believe in not wasting).
2. We create a skeleton. According to the skeleton template the creature's alignment becomes neutral evil.
3. According to the alignment rules, the skeleton's alignment will become Neutral because it's mindless (and thus incapable of moral action) and its not acting morally will naturally result in its alignment becoming Neutral, because there's nothing in the template that prevents its alignment from following the normal alignment rules after the initial change.
It's worth noting that animate dead does not do anything to souls. It creates mindless undead and says nothing about their souls. As a result there is nothing that makes their soul act in any way differently than any other soul that has passed on. You can also make undead out of plant monsters (fast zombie assassin vines, believe it), though that raises the question of where do assassin vines go when they wilt and are they capable of morality (oh wait, no, they're not because the alignment rules say they aren't).
So what we can determine is that animate dead empowers a lifeless corpse with negative energy. This newly animated body is lacking a soul or intelligence that allows it to make decisions. At which point magic must be used to control and command the body with a semblance of intelligence.
There are three things that are funny here.
1. Positive and negative energy are both neutral-aligned. A corpse powered with positive energy it called living, one with negative undead, and if neither, it is dead.
2. This artificial intelligence that is being commanded to do things is most similar to spells such as unseen servant. Nothing exceptionally special going on here.
3. They are basically morally-neutral golems. In this case, the necromancers are using a mindless source of energy to power an object (the corpse) and then using magic to control it. In the case of golems, you are required to enslave a sentient creature (an elemental) and bind it inside the undying golem (effectively solitary confinement for eternity) to power it. Imperfect golems such as the Flesh Golem sometimes go berserk when the tortured elemental manages to gain some semblance of freedom and tries to fight back. There's also no certainty as to what happens to the elemental after the golem is destroyed (so this may mean every time you destroy a golem you are killing an innocent outsider).
The real question here is, why are necromancers getting picked on but the wizard with the stone golem isn't on trial for his/her diabolical crimes?
K177Y C47 wrote:
Yes there is. Avoiding hurt, oppress, or killing things when possible. Be altruistic, respect the value of life, and have concern for the dignity of sentient beings.
PRD - Alignment wrote:
Do these things and you are good. End of story.
In second edition, the Bard was the "Jack of all Trades." While it made for a cool concept, it was the worst class to play compared to everything else. Only the poor Wizard at the earliest levels had a harder time.
You're talking about those bards that used the theif XP progression and cast wizard spells, often at a higher caster level than actual wizards because they leveled up faster, right? The class that's easiest to solo Baldur's Gate I with? The one that also gets some thief abilities? That 2nd edition bard?
In third edition, he became the "Jester... sort of." It still sucked, mostly.
Bards sucked? Since when? :O
PF did the most changes to the Bard than any other class and it is a nitch class that has a lot of skill monkey things that work well in Society, cept he ain' no rogue.
Ohhhhhh. Nevermind, I see what's happening now. That's really cute. You'll learn though. ^_^
For the record this exists. It's also the most most overpowered casting system ever. Recharge magic. While I like cooldown mechanics (x round cooldown on abilities is a good mechanic for strong but no-limit abilities), it just encourages more ferocious casting.
Feats can reduce or eliminate cool downs. My fervent wish is to have a unified, standard magic system that is used for all classes that cast. Concentrate on class abilities, perhaps have some that use powers much like the Bloodline powers for the elemental sorcerers, augmented with class choices, instead of going off the same spell list as another class. Have the cleric switch-out spells from her god between encounters. Have the druid focused on an aspect of their class....
Of course you realize this is actively pouring gasoline and tossing a match on one of the biggest strengths of this game, and that is being able to appeal to different preferences while remaining playable between all of them.
This is one of the problems with 4E. If at-will / encounter / daily doesn't really do it for you, you're pretty much up the creek. Whereas literally every class in core plays very differently (and most work well). There's no mechanical issues with having a psion next to a cleric, but the players get to enjoy two different ways of playing their character that otherwise has similar supernatural powers.
And the "I have to learn an entirely new system" is kind of bogus, because 3.5/Pathfinder psionics were written explicitly to fit with the magic system and designed with all the same considerations that were made for the core castings. Virtually all of it transparent, save for a handful of unique things (psionic focus, the more workday friendly PP recovery methods, and sharing psionic powers).
If Psionics was to be introduced in this current mold, I would like to have them be like spontaneous casters with a Psi pool to augment their abilities and or add to their powers. They would use a seperate list of.. Psionic powers. I would be very careful as to what to include and what not to. It would be more focused than the "alternate Wizard" listing that is in 3.5 and Dreamscarred version.
The "psion" does not play like a wizard. At all. I love both of them, but they do not play the same. IMHO, the psion feels like "sorcerer done right", but personal opinion aside their similarities mostly end at "Intelligence is your key ability score" in terms of how they play at the table (unless you just equate to using magical powers to being a wizard, in which case we can classify clerics and druids as "alternate wizard" as well.
Likewise, there is a lot more to psionics than the psion. There is the psychic warrior, wilder, soul knife, and if you include the extra material added to the psionics SRD, the Aegis, Vitalist, Lurk, etc. Each of these classes play differently.
Because that's a strength. I can run a game with entirely core material (and I often do use almost entirely core material when GMing, plus the odd feat from the APG or something, because it's simple) and someone can bring a psion, psychic warrior, aegis, and vitalist and I don't have to change anything. They're still going to deal with the same issues, they'll just do it with a different mechanic that is - as far as GMing difficulty is concerned - pretty much like magic. Except more fun for them.
Fabius Maximus wrote:
I didn't say anything about psions emulating Inspire Courage. My contributions to the subject have been the following.
1. Why core magic fails at some of the fluffier aspects of other forms of magic (be they psionics or magic by another name).
2. Why the psionic system is better than core magic from a standpoint of learning it, tracking it, and adapting to a character's needs (IE - fluff).
3. Advocated for deeper understanding of RP and challenged the idea of imprisoning yourself in a self-imposed fluff-trap.
4. Have advocated that there is place in the game, noting that the psionics system, preparation, and spontaneous casting systems appeal to different people for different reasons, and some are fun and work for those people more than others.
Right now, in the game I'm playing in on Friday (tomorrow in fact, looking forward to it), I'm playing a human psion flavored as a witch; another player is playing an android soulknife; another is playing a modified alchemist (a homebrew healing archetype of the player's design that the GM liked); a catfolk bard; an undead antipaladin; and my brother may be joining the game in the future with a human paladin or psychic monk.
We've got a pseudo-preparation caster (the alchemist thingy), a spontaneous caster, a psionic caster, and a few classes with their own mechanics separate from spellcasting as a primary focus.
Everyone gets to be happy.
Are you...okay? O~o
Good afternoon everyone. I figure that while I'm waiting on a few responses to sate my hungry curiosity, I'll bring up a few other things that are a bit related to the whole magic vs psionics vs arcane vs divine vs magi vs monks vs clerics vs oracles vs druids vs wizards vs sorcerers vs witches vs paladins vs rangers vs inquisitors vs bards vs summoners vs alchemists vs ninjas etc.
All of these characters perform magical things in different ways. In my opinion this is a good thing for a few different reasons.
1. It adds variety, which is good. Just as we've noticed in this thread, there are people who enjoy some mechanics over others. In D&D/PF, you can have someone who enjoys the psionics system, preparation system, and spontaneous system, and someone who enjoys qi-gong monk magic all in the same party and everyone gets to play and be happy.
2. It allows you to easily create slightly different disciplines that demonstrate different ways to approach magic. Just as in reality, there has never been one system to which humans have attempted to perform magic, be it chanting, performing rituals, drawing diagrams, reciting prayers to spirits or gods or angels or demons, requesting to be possessed by outsiders, using force of will, etc.
This enriches a campaign and encourages players to experience the world and all it offers instead of making assumptions based on metagame knowledge.
A: The Witches of Hagwood who make deals with devils and perform terrible rituals may actually be a bunch of neutral evil oracles (or multiclassed characters) with deformities that use spells like death knell on kidnapped children, and cast spells like planar ally to call on servants of their hag queens from Abaddon.
B: The religious mystics who reside in the Starreach mountain monastery practice strange magics of the body, taught by the ancient dragon Xel'toh'shu in ancient times. These mystics are an order of sorcerers (especially dragon bloodline sorcerers), MoMS monks (employing snake and dragon styles), psychic monks (Download Page), and egoist psions (shapeshifting psions), and of course some multiclass combinations thereof. Each embodying a different aspect of the dragon sensei's ancient wisdom.
C: The Sirens of Saldori that live in the Overgrove are mystical humanoids of great strength, with the ability to enthrall the minds of travelers with their words and their realm is guarded by wild animals who loyally answer their call. Their queen is so powerful that it is said that she can delve into your soul and claim you as her own. Because I'm feeling froggy, these are wood giants with the young creature template (makes them smaller and physically weaker with a -1 CR) who happen commonly have levels in bard, and their leader is a 7th level telepath-psion.
3. It makes it easier to play the character you want and have fun doing it. This is loosely related to #1, but it's slightly different. See, no one class or mechanic is going to be the answer to all your ideas. Further, if you dislike playing the class because you don't find it very fun, it's nice to have options. This describes to my friend who had no fun at all playing vancian caster but loved playing a psion up to 13th+ level. Likewise, it describes me, who wanted a shapeshifting witch-y character who dealt with strange spirits and rituals. Neither druid nor witch particularly fit this (in the case of druid I'd have to wait until 5th level just to turn into an animal for example, yet with minor metamorphosis I was turning into foxes, wolves, giant vermin, and wearing different faces immediately).
The reason of course being that PP are to spellcasters what HP is to...everyone (including spellcasters). If you can't track PP, you can't play a fighter, or a commoner, because you are incapable of tracking hit points. Given that I play with D&D/PF with pre-teenage children from time to time to give them something fun to do while their parents are doing other things, it seems odd to fathom that many of the RPG players on this forum find power points too complex.
Actually, this is another thing I'd like to touch on. Since I do play D&D/PF with young children on a regular basis, I've found psionics way more newbie-friendly to introducing people to the game even if they want to play someone with "magical powers" like throwing fire and lightning around.
It's far easier to write up a pregen for them, pick their powers with them, and then let them go. They can get it really quick and enjoy what they're doing. Trying to explain how to pick and prepare spells to little kid is a pain for everyone involved. However, most kids have a basic understanding of math and if they play any games with magic systems it is usually going to involve a mana-based system (such as in Skyrim). Since it's not uncommon for children to play their parents or siblings' games, it's not uncommon for them to "get it" instantly.
As someone who teaches people how to play and finds the game a useful and fun pastime for playing with younger generations, it's very easy for me to appreciate this aspect of the system (and it has a side benefit of indirectly helping their math skills in a fun way).
I was just really confused by the post. Like, mind = blown confused. I've never been able to understand how "PP are confusing" is a valid criticism, nor actually believed that they were serious as opposed to just being dead-set against it and looking for excuses.
The reason of course being that PP are to spellcasters what HP is to...everyone (including spellcasters). If you can't track PP, you can't play a fighter, or a commoner, because you are incapable of tracking hit points. Given that I play with D&D/PF with pre-teenage children from time to time to give them something fun to do while their parents are doing other things, it seems odd to fathom that many of the RPG players on this forum find power points too complex.
It's a lot easier to track. When I spend PP, I have my total PP and PP spent. When the number in my PP spent reaches or would exceed my total, I can't cast anymore. Same as when my "damage taken" reaches or exceeds my total HP, I'm going to need a healer. :P
Contrast to core casting, where I need to list the number of different spells per day that I have of different spell levels. If we're dealing with prepared spellcasting such as with wizards or sorcerers, I need to note how many of each spell of each level I have, track which ones I've used, which ones I still have, which spells are available after I've exhausted spells of another spell level, etc. It's a lot more book keeping and micro-management, as opposed to.
PP Total = X, PP Spent = Y
As an example, my 8th level psion is still doing things like putting people to sleep and casting her equivalent of grease. Many of these powers are ones I've gotten used to using in the earlier levels and I'm slowly adding new powers to learn each level before. These powers will still be part of my arsenal at 20th level and I'll use them for similar purposes as I did at 1st level.
Contrast to a sorcerer who obtains a terribly limited selection of spells known (barring certain goofy options outside of the sorcerer class itself) who will eventually have to give up spells like magic missile or grease, often with no equivalent versions at higher levels. In essence, they have to keep learning to play the game over again.
So no power points but not a simple copy paste of sorcerer... maybe something like a toned down power point? Casting stat X 1/2 character level in psionic pool points and powers cost level X 2? Just thinking about a magus arcane pool or warpriest blessing system. Those are close to power points but a bit simpler to track. A happy middle ground maybe?
How can anyone complain about PP being complicated to track? Can you not track your own hit points? O.o
Zombie Ninja wrote:
When it comes to re-flavoring, not a fan. Concepts become clearer when flavor text and mechanics support each other. The big advantage a class system has over a skill system is that immediate association one gets when a single word (say fighter) can be used to not only produce a mental image, but also give a clear idea of what powers and skills you would have. Re-flavor and that advantage is lost, might as well be playing a skill based system.
That's called meta-gaming. And no, you really can't. See, beyond the very basic aspects of a class (such as "it casts spells" or "it has rage"), the classes in Pathfinder tend to be extremely varied. Even the ones that aren't well balanced.
You can take 10 fighters built by 10 different people and none of them play the same. At all. Clerics? Wildly different domains and their associated powers, some focused on offensive spellcasting and summoning, others resembling divine warriors akin to Paladins, some have animal companions, some spontaneously heal people while others spontaenously har them. How about Rangers? Same deal here. Druids? The sky is the limit (your character could revolve around summoning, shapeshifting, offensive blasting, healing, etc). Oracles? Don't even get me started on oracles.
Toss in archetypes and expanded material, new talents, the works and the water is muddied further and further and further and further. That's before we get into multiclassing.
In 3.x/Pathfinder, your class does not define you. It defines what you do. What you describe is akin to looking at this picture: "Scooby!" and declaring that it is not a Scooby Doo, it is a brown block.
It's like looking at a house made out of bricks and saying it's the same as a kiln made out of bricks which is the same as a tower made out of bricks which is the same as a wall made out of bricks. For the rest of us, we see a house, a kiln, a tower, and a wall.
Not to point any kind of accusing finger at anybody, by if I was GMing for Ashiel, I wouldn't stop her from saying her egoist/shaper combo was a witch, but she would at best be considered a bit eccentric, actual most people would consider her loony, and a true witch would find her claim to be insulting. Of course at her game table that may be just fine.
I'm glad that you aren't GMing for me. I would not play in a world where:
1. Everyone knows what you are because of a metagame statistic on your character sheet.
2. Where you have to conform to the basic fluff of a class. That would ruin my most fun characters, such as my Paladin of Wee Jass, who didn't call herself a Paladin but was a wandering warrior with a heart.
3. Where you are limited to whatever classes you have available to do a concept. If my sorcerer cannot be known as "Xalina the Summoner" because there is a summoner class, and if I want to be a summoner then I must have an eidolon instead of merely being an abyassal bloodline sorcerer. Or where if I wanted to play a "Ninja", I had to play the Ninja class instead of a Ranger/Monk.
4. Where a concept is ruined by game balance or mechanics. Not all classes are created equal. Fighters, Monks, and Rogues in core suffer from some serious problems. Cavaliers and Samurai aren't particularly noteworthy either. In some cases, the mechanics of a class (such as the vancian vs spontaneous vs psionic/mana pool) are just unfun to play to some people by comparison.
So if for some reason I don't really want to play a Paladin the class, I can't make a Cleric the class with the Strength and Good domains. Why? Because meta-gaming.
It depends very heavily upon individual traditions. Spiritual magics, incantations, meditations, invocations, evocations, rituals magics, ki/chi/qi/prana, magic numbers, magic writing, mana, psychic energy, etc.
I've been a long time fan of psionics but lately I've been enamored by them because I've been reminded why I love them and the Dreamscarred updates are simply amazing. Dabbler and others have pointed out some of the many reasons, but I'm going to add a few here that spring out to me and that I've been enjoying over magic in some of the recent games I've been playing in.
1. Psionics is amazingly fluffable. Let's face it. You're talking about how it's so easy to have psychic powers, but it's really not that easy to refluff magic. No matter what you do, you have to waggle your fingers, say lots of magic words, and smear bat poo all over everything. It's a huge drag.
Meanwhile, every Friday, I sit down and play my "witch". When I say witch, I mean a woman who practices magic, deals with spirits, preforms weird pseudo-religious rituals, carries a magical fetish with the soul of her mentor that is bound to her as a form of living phylactery, and spends a lot of her time shapeshifting into different animals, monsters, or just suped up versions of herself.
Mechanically she is a dual-discipline egoist/shaper psion. She's been shapeshifting since 1st level (the party met her in animal form due to a homebrew feat that allows her metamorphosis powers to last obscenely long). Her mentor fetish thing is her psicrystal. When it comes to her "magic" she is a primal individual who often calls on the hag queens, or twists the world around her with her will, or sometimes just gives a cold glare, or once threw countless shards of phantom blades at something while screaming at them.
Her magic can be subtle, or flashy. In fact, I often describe different ways that she and her psicrystal interact with her powers from a narrative standpoint. Her phantom spirits (astral construct) do not have any alignment restrictions, they do not have to be picked off a list of different (and restrictive) lists. Instead you have a statblock and add a few powers and run with it. Quick, efficient. If you want to add more variety, you can add more special abilities rather than having to scour the d20pfsrd.com for expanded lists.
Meanwhile in the same game as my fetish-carrying ritual-performing witch, we have an android soulknife whose psionic powers manifest as energetic subroutines that 'cause circuits on his body to light up and glow, and he can form weapons of energy while doing so. Everything about him seems tech-like in a way that reeks of Numeria.
Further still, a friend of mine in a tabletop game I'm running has a egoist/telepath tiefling that is essentially a do-it-yourself succubus character.
2. It's more intuitive. I'm a major wizard fan but Vancian magic sucks. It is one of the most irritating things to teach a new D&D player because it is so unintuitive and filled with so much minute junk. You need to track spell slots, bonus spell slots, domain spell slots, the works.
Psionics? You have to track 1 thing. Your Power Points. It is literally no different than tracking hit points. A friend of mine who was a casual gamer. The most he ever managed to get into D&D's magic system was a bard. Anything further and he would give up on it. Except he played a psion for 13+ levels without skipping a beat, and this was with someone who often found keeping track of his barbarian's attack modifiers in 3.5 too cumbersome.
Bonus spell slots? Screw 'em. You get +1/2 your key stat per level. I don't ever have to flip to the bonus spells table to know what my bonus spell slots are. It's as simple as this: 15 Int? 8th level? +8 PP. 16 Int? +12 PP. 18 Int? +16 PP.
Further, due to the way power points work, it's much easier to ensure that you have something to do every round. In one of our recent sessions we had a combat situation that was over 15 rounds long, and I was able to do something on most of those rounds because I could pace myself and I have a lot of juice. This means you're more adaptable to the pace of your campaign.
In essence, because of just playing my psion wisely, I have not once had to ask my group to stop before everyone else was ready just for my character to rest to recover her spells. It's just that generally I use fairly weak powers in tactical ways (such as using low-level constructs to provide soft-cover to allies who need to avoid AoOs, or greasing enemy weapons, etc).
Overall no matter what the pace of the game has been (single big battles or lots of little encounters over the course of the day), I've been able to help the party consistently. No 15 minute workday, and everyone in our group has consistently been very useful.
More to come, it's 5am, need sleep.
DM Barcas wrote:
SKR once mailed me a bunch of minis from his personal collection. I still Iike this place.
That's pretty awesome.
After he jumped up and down repeating the offending phrase over and over again along with commentary on how the mods were falling down on their job and other interesting comments that all got deleted. Point is that if the comment was offensive, was repeating it over and over necessary?
Who am I to say? I hadn't actually seen the thread. I'm guessing it was probably from the Homosexuals of Golarion thread but that's just a guess. I often miss large amounts of that thread because while I enjoy the topic, there's an ocean of posts there that would make a fighter/paladin/monk/alignment thread seem small by comparison; so I often end up skimming or skipping many pages.
I do believe that there is a definite bias with some mods though. For him, he felt Jessica was acting very biased; for me, I've noticed Sean in most rule discussions I've ever seen him in, and he's the main reason I stay away from the playtests these days.
That's not to say that this sort of feedback is an open invitation to bash on any staff member. But it's equally important to note that this sort of feedback is not a bad thing either. Sean's attitude has become something of a running joke on the forums that I've noticed, and unfortunately I know at least one poster who's traditionally been very pro-Paizo who was considering not just leaving the forums but not buying any more Paizo stuff because of this sort of thing.
He just said that he was told to raise the issue here. Funny that, given that it's the Website Feedback page where, you know, you raise issues and stuff.
DM Beckett wrote:
Generally, a rational person in formal manner has just as much responsibility to not be offended as another has to refrain from being offensive, and it is well established that in a non-face-to-face medium, there is even more responsibility on the first party to not be offended by reading into context and also not assuming that another's post is meant in the worst possible way it can be taken without the normal aid of tone, body language, or prior conversation.
This is something that I wish happened way more often. As a general rule of thumb, if I can take something in more than one way, I generally try to take it in the best way possible.