Patrick Renie wrote:
Another workaround to this, which doesn't make it full leadership for 3rd level, is to build the squire as a 1st level NPC class aristocrat or warrior, who then is rebuilt as a heroic class when the PC is 4th level.
Since NPC classes count at one power level less than PC classes(CR), that sorts out the math, and the transformation after getting some experience with the PC supports the concept of the squire being a knight in training.
What do the players want? Some players just want to kill things and don't like a challenge. Some players like the perception of a challenge, but don't really want a real risk of loss. Some players like the thrill of true risk. I tend to lump A&B together, and push them with a little C, but you also have to read your table and give the people what they want.
For my group I put a different spin on it.
He gave them the five questions to catch him in a lie, saying he'd lie to some or all of them, but the trick is...
His lie is that he would give any lying answers to the questions at all.
He actually would answer every one of the five questions as honestly as he could, leaving the PCs to puzzle about what the lie could be.
This made it easy to GM, since I didn't have to make up any lies or have to puzzle through any of the players' logic traps. Whatever they pulled to manipulate the questions would be the wrong guess, since he'd answer each without any attempt at deception on his part. Every sense motive would indicate he's being truthful, which the players might assume is just him having an absurdly high bluff, but is actually a clue. His denials that they won the contest evne if they caught him in a logic trap would likewise be the clue to the actual solution, which he'd reveal to win the contest if the PC don't get it or accuse him of cheating:
"I, in fact, made every effort to answer your questions as sincerely as possible. The answers may have been contradictory as you constructed them, but they were not attempts to deceive you, I answered them sincerely, thus that was not the lie. I said I would give you five questions to catch me in a lie, and spoke honestly, but I did not say the lie you needed to catch would be the response to any of the five questions! In truth, the lie you failed to guess is simply this: I lied when I said I would lie!"
- Like how Ebay allows rating buyers and sellers.
This is late to the party but just thought of it:
Clarify Perception as a non-action check that happens at the start of your turn, which only has to be rolled if a perception DC changed for the thing(s) to be perceived (and if it's possible to fail). And clarify that the observer is flat footed against an attacker that is not perceived.
This solves the "in plain sight" clause of stealth that causes much of the problems when trying to stealth from one bit of cover/concealment to another, without having to re-write stealth, create a new "hidden" condition, or designating a stealthed thing as invisible (which is recursive since invis grants bonus to stealth).
Since any observer observes on their own turn, not the stealther's, the stealther's movement and attacks from stealth are resolved without their coming into potential view being an issue on their turn.
This means a rogue can move from cover to sneak attack, or move from cover to cover and remain hidden, or with spring attack, move from cover, attack, move to cover and re-roll stealth. The observer would get a chance each turn to perceive.
Wait, cleric or oracle?
oracles garner strength and power from many sources, namely those patron deities who support their ideals.
But, I'd bring the whole gang into play. Pick a couple deities that want to warn the oracle off the behavior, and a couple that favor the evil character and want to encourage it. Then let the conflicting signs, omens, and portents fly!
Problem is people are treating a modifying dependent clause like it's an independent rule.
Here's the troublesome quote again:
regeneration UMR wrote:
Creatures with regeneration heal damage at a fixed rate, as with fast healing, but they cannot die as long as their regeneration is still functioning (although creatures with regeneration still fall unconscious when their hit points are below 0).
See, "but they cannot die as long as their regeneration is still functioning" is modifying "as with fast healing," - distinguishing regeneration from fast healing in that fast healing things die from too much HP loss, regenerating don't.
It is not a standalone statement creating a new rule. For that, the rule would have been written:
"[begin sentence]Creatures with regeneration cannot die as long as their regeneration is still functioning.[period, next sentence] They heal damage at a fixed rate....."
As written "but they cannot die as long as their regeneration is still functioning" is modifying "as with fast healing". It is not defining a universal rule that trumps the universal rule that things die when their con is 0.
I think the thing that gets missed is the take 20 rule is just substituting for rolling the same check over and over.
Skills list whether you can try them again. If you can try the check again, you can roll it again. For opening a lock for example, you can sit there and try to pick that lock for hours, roll the dice a thousand times. Perception is another skill you can try over and over again. Meaning, even if you roll in secret, the player can still just look again, and look again, and look again. Over and Over for as long as they want to spend on it. Eventually they're bound to get a 20. The Take 20 rule is just an acknowledgement of that, to speed play.
If you dissallow taking 20, really you're re-writing whether the skill can be tried again or not, because otherwise your players can still just roll dice over and over instead - such a change is a major house rule.
Couple things by RAW -
There's no 3.5 'search' vs. spot vs. listen anymore - It's all perception. Unless the trap is written that it's not subject to visual inspection, the perception DC is just that, a perception DC. You can stand at the doorway, spend 2 minutes to take 20, and you should perceive clues to any trap in the room with a DC equal or less than 20+ your perception. Up to the DM if they want to apply the unfavorable condition mod and +1/10 distance mods to visual scans (the distance mods really only make sense for non-visual preception), but anything else is a house rule or modifying the encounter.
Actively perceiving something is a move action, taking 20 shorthand for doing it 20 times (generally simplified to 2 minutes for actions that take less than a round) - you should be able to just do the math and figure out how fast you're moving if you want to take 10 or 20 on perception as you creep carefully along. The whole point of the take 10/20 rules is to get rid of unnecessarry dice rolling.
IMO RAI is the trick with traps is more about the disarming than the detecting.
Most of the encoutners are CR6-5, but since there's days between them, the PCs can unload everything they have every encoutner, so they can be a bit easy. Some things like the Chemosits are situational, depends who surprises who. My group slaughtered the Chemosits with focus fire following a well thought-out ambush. Some encoutners were so easy enough some of the PCs had little to do (the wizard even spent the Ankheg fight playing solitair in his rope trick)
Since then, I've been combining encoutners to make them more interesting, cutting some and folding that CR into others. Here's some examples:
- Cut the attack of the rival faction in Kalabuto, put their bodies (and loot) on the Gallows Tree, and added a Tuyewera from the Bestiary in Shiv, and a Botfly swarm from Heart of the Jungle. The combination of the invisible Tuyewere calling to the PCs from the Gallows tree added a lot to the creepout factor while also makign it more difficult for the PCs to just nuke the site from orbit, and Botflies erupting from the mouths and flesh of the zombie dead colonists really punched up the encouter a lot.
- Combined Jikeke the Exile with the Mzali warriors. I made Jikeke a Mzali agent who's been creating the Gallows Trees. He already has all the necessary spells, so it's a perfect fit, and gives continuity to both encoutners, bookending Kalabuto nicely.
I also plan on cutting the Succubus Zakyya, and folding the spirit dancers in with the Eloko, using Biloko from the bestiary to serve the 'charmer' role the succubus served and her CR. The PCs will encounter a feast where the Biloko and Eloko are enjoying the flesh of some of one of the other faction's people they captured, some of which are still alive, as charmed "guests" of the feast, which they PCs can observe throwing themselves into the pot at the Biloko's commands. All while the Spirit dancers dance for thier amusement. When discovered, the Biloko try to likewise charm the PCs into joining the feast as 'guests', while the Eloko ring their Iron Bell (like ringing the dinner bell) and hilarity ensues. I like this because the bestiary monsters have more jungle flavor, and this illustrates more what the Eloko of their nearby city are about.
In a lot of ways SS works better as an evil campaign. I ran SS straight and running that and the rest with an evil party, much of the hack and slash more easily can be RP, and lot of the narrative makes more sense (spoilers ahead)
- ALL the castaways NPC are non-good, and most have dubious pasts
(they're all pirates, thieves, assassins.. ironically the only honest man among them is the one that's a criminal prisoner)
- All the factions are non-good, some are evil. For a good party, the Pathfinders are really the only option, considering Sargava are racists slavers even if they're nominally neutral. For an evil party, however, all the factions can be a good fit. Likewise, most of the Eleder NPCs are non-good or evil. The only good NPCs in Eleder are not part of the story and only mentioned in passing.
- The Freemen encoutner makes more sense if the Party is evil
((As written the freemen falsly accuse the PCs while doing vile terrorist deeds themselves, but an evil party allowes the freemen attack to be good vs. evil)
Mostly however, Saventh-Yhi itself makes much more sense for an evil party
(like the faction, there's only one non-evil option for the PCs to ally with in the city, meaning for a good party, it's the combat grind everyone complains of unless the PCs play cross type and ally with evil despite their morals & ethics. However, and evil party can freely ally or oppose any of the groups in any combination, allowing more RP options)
This pattern gets even more pronounces in the last books
(where the PCs affirmativly have to ally with all these evil races)
Actually, the whole AP seems so stilted toward evil, I wonder if at some point during development the plan *was* to make this one "the evil PC's AP", but they changed their mind late in the process and quickly tweeked a couple things to keep it more in line to the non-evil PCs format
(which is why you get things like all those Saventh-Yhi factions there's effectly no diplomatic option with, but nevertheless the PCs must ally with).
The island map and NPC quests are really well done is a very inobvious way, with the cliffs being a 100' DC15 check, the path of least resistance got both my groups starting along the beach, from the Jeniver wreck, then east, which takes them right into Yarzoth's abandoned camp at F. On the way there's nests for Sasha's quest.
Prepped by the Dreams, and the captain's journal from the wreck, by the time they learn that Iaena and the captain lived, they're ready for a quest for revenge. I describe the easy DC to track the captain as from him using his rapier to cut a path through the forest leaving permenant marks. Presented with such breadcrumbs to follow, PCs usually go for it. I have that trail going to the river, which takes them to Mavato's quest at E, then I have the trail follow the course of the river to G which is Jask's. Ishirou's quest is right at the top of the hill, and I have the trail end, implying they went along the beach again, taking them to I3. Then they're at the path, and after jungle travel taking so long, and the path moving so fast, it becomes a litte like a large scale dungeon crawl after that, with them follwing the path like a dungeon corridor. All roads lead to Yarzoth at that point.
I had Yarzoth's stay with the cannibals only a couple days before going to the tide stones, so the lighting show can happen to remind the PCs of bigger things when they're maybe getting distracted by all the NPC personal quests. My players like to take captives, so could give them a lot of the story via interrogaton when they defeated the cannibals. I also gave them a good deal of overheard conversation when they were spying on the canibals, but that can also happen if they're captured, while two of Thrunefanges are butchering a body while the PCs are tied up.
Be careful with the NPCs - if they're not in the action, they can become a burden or irrelevant, if they are in the action they can steal the spotlight, and they're 5 more balls for you to judggle whenever they're around. However, they're also a great mechanism to move the story along, they have skills and languages the PCs need and quests to move them forward.
Don't overdo disease and environment - hit them with it in act I (loosly, it's played out as kind of - Act I survive and pull together or "how to make a sustainable camp", Act II exploration and personal quests, Act III Cannibals! ...and Ghouls! Act IV the Lost Temple and confronting Yarzoth), then defacto let them get 'acclimated' when the other story elements come to the fore, and they get a routien down.
With the Cannibals, both times I've gathered them all up in one massive group and sent them after the PCs. Yarzoth tells them, and they go after the lightning, intending to appease the red mountain devil with their blood. Both times this played out well - it gave them PCs a real threat to cope with, rather than just a string of conventional combat enconters. I gave the PCs warning they were coming via perception checks, describing the war party's numbers, and gave them the opportunity to observe them from hiding and evade their search. Think the opening scene of Raders of the Lost Ark if they're spotted. If they have to fight, the cannibals want to take them alive, so there's no danger of a TPK - it actually just gets them to the Lighthouse faster, as the adventure turns into an escape. Ishirou, at least, can break the rope bonds taking 20, so they can get out of the stockade, and the Cannibals are overconfident and insane, so you can run the village as written, with their gear in the supply shed. If somehow they botch all of this, just toss them down the hole with all their gear as an offering to Mother Thrunefang (Malikadna and Klorak so impressed with their resillience), and give them time to recover, but not so much time to get comfortable, before sending some ghouls to prod them along.
In Act IV, I took pains to try to play Yarzoth smart and wanting to survive, since IMO the rest of the AP works a lot better with her as the central villian, linking all further serpentfolk encoutners as her associates and minions - so she's trying to get to Ilmuria parallele to the PCs trying to get to Saventh-Yhi, and She's their final showdown boss in the last book. Otherwise her whole story is just a coincidence and superflous. I have her using the gasous form to escape rather than pulling any impersonation shenanigans, and pulling out when it's pretty sure she can survive that last round of attacks before she vanishes through the vent holes. If they do kill her, you can also have the Coils of Ydersius res her.
You can imagine Ustalav as being the eye of the storm.
Lastwall pressures Belkzen, sucking up most of their energy. The crusade does the same to the Worldwould demons, which is why all that action happens on that border rather than spilling over elsewhere. The Numerians are their own check and balance, the Black Soveriegn had a hard enough time enforcing his will outside the cities, nevermind invadin elsewhere. The tech is as much a hiderance as a help, as it's not fully controlled or understood, and they've got giant killer battle robots running rampant like buletts in heat. So you have this doughnut of violence and mayhem with Ustalav in the middle, left pretty much to it's own devices.
--- MY issue with suspension of disbelief with Ustalav is it's attempt to have a population both disbelieving and embrasing "Superstition" in the context of a fantasy game. It's hard to explain why on the one hand you'd have a peasantry that embrases 'superstitions' while the upper classes dismisses those superstitions and (at lease in Calphas) believe that the supernatureal isn't even real. I understand they want to capture that Hammer Film/victorian gothic horror trope of the men of reason confronting the unreasonable, expressed as the peasants having silly superstitions that turn out to be true.... but PCs aren't those men of reason - they deal in the supernatural all the time. Their problem would be wondering why would the peasants embrace 'supersition', which is magic that *doesn't work*, when magic that *works* is right at hand.
A minor tweak that fixes that for me, and makes for a more interesting problem for the PCs to cope with is to up the importance of the Church of Pharasma, and outlaw true magic as witchcraft. Breaks down like this:
Becuase of their history with the Whispering Tyrant, the chruch of Pharasma has over-reacted in their dogma so ALL magic is suspect. In their attempts to clamp a lid on their chronic undead/necromancy problem, they ban all of it. The only 'legal' real magic is divine magic performed by their sect of Pharasma. All other real magic is witchcraft, and given the spanish inquisition treatment. Paradoxically, however, fake magic & 'superstition' is encouraged. This is in order to feed the common people's need to feel like they have some magic they can use to protect themselves agains the horrors of the night, but also to confound those who want to study real magic by muddying the waters with a lot of hokum. So, when the inquisitors are brought into town, if they find someone practicing or believing some impotent superstition, it's declares 'white magic' and dismissed. But if they find real magic use - it's the stake or the rope for the witch.
Add to this scenario that there's also a hypocracy that the church will often turn a blind eye to the rich and powerful practicing real magic, and you have an interesting setting that rationalises Ustalavs flavor, and puts PCs in an interesting position -
They have to be careful how they use magic, or may face a wichhunt.
This allows one type of story that's almost impossible to tell in a fantasy game: The murder mystery. Hobbled in their ability to use magic to determine lies, detect evil, etc. you can more easily have a story where the PCs need to use conventional detective work to find a culprit. But better still, you'll have the added spice of them possibly being able to use that spell... if they dare risk it!
This is an awesome thread, stealing most of this.
I plan to tweak the madness spores to tie it into the first book, by changing the plot to it being preparations by a sleeper agent for the exiled Zura cultists. The doom foretold all a cover to put the tomes in place as day housing for when the zurites convert the population to vampirism. The spores were sabotage in prep for the zurite coup, undead vampires being immune.
Remohs beat me to posting the system shock 2 haunt idea.
Also cribbing the idea of making the test of strength vs the son of the gorilla king, from another thread, with it all being the GKs using the PCs to rid him of his popular son who's become a rival
Also, same as the ghost, also altering the whole missing pathfinder plot to make them just pathfinders kidnaped by the serpents rather than stealing the PCs thunder by having done it all first.
Also keeping Yazoth alive from book one and making her the boss villain to tie all the books together, making all the later serpentfolk encounters tied to her parallel quest to find the skull and raise yderseus, rather than having everything be coincidental and unrelated
I still have to give a thorough peruse to the last books, but I think I know one tweak that would set this AP on course in all the places people may feel it tends to go off it:
Yazoth must survive book 1 and be the overarching villain.
Change Vyr-Azul's name to Yazoth, and change the back-story of the serpent folk's return to Ilmurea from being coincidental to Yazoth's discoveries on Smuggler's Shiv, to instead being a direct consequence of it. Make Yazoth's story paralle the PC's:
In Book one, after learning of Tazion, Yazoth is interrupted by the PCs and either escapes in gaseous form by using the Zura statue, or if killed, agents of the Coils of Ydersius recover enough of Yazoth's remains to raise her. She informs her people of her findings, and they set her to find Ilmurea, in just the same way the factions elist the PCs to find Yaventh-Yhi.
From this point on, the AP is a race for the skull. If they don't figure it out, the PCs should be informed by the factions. Yes this makes the AP a same old same old "prevent the end of the world by getting the McGuffin first plot" - but it's a tried and true formula, the AP turns out to be that anyway, and the reason why it's such a well-worn trope is because it works. Having this big goal as the major overarching quest puts all the stuff in the middle into perspective, giving it all gravitas, and also, as I'll explain, give more options to avoid the 'meat-grinder' feel many have noted.
In Book Two, Yazoth reaches Tazion first, traveling via Sekamina's primary tunnel north out of Sarvaga (See Into the Darkland p38). Issilar is not an exile, rather he is an associate of Yazoth left behind to keep watch if the humans learned of the place and followed, and also act as gate keeper for any Coils of Ydersius agents that are making their way to Ilmurea overland and need access to the maproom. He is not still looking for the gems, he rather keeps three and has hidden the others in case he's overtaken.
In Book Three, parallel to the human factions expeditions attempting to explore and conquer Saventh-Yhi on the surface, Yazoth and her expedition have found and are attempting to retake Ilmurea beneath it. Here's where the 'save the world' meta-quest can pay off, because the PCs can use this to try diplomacy on the evil factions they otherwise would be forced to fight. Add in a circumstance modifier to the diplomacy DCs if the PCs can convincingly demonstrate "enemy of my enemy is my friend" based on evidence of the Serpents' plans. Some groups may buy it, some may not, some may fall into infighting none the less. This would make the scenario more easily turned into classic strange bedfellows coalition building, rather than more just monster clearing.
In Book Four, I would also be tempted to eliminate the whole Eando plot-line altogether, or at least sideline it. This AP is billed as the PCs discovering lost cities and uncovering dire plots. It steals the PCs spotlight to have them show up just to find some other adventurer already having done it. By having the PCs know from the start that the over arching quest is to thwart the serpents in the city under the city, these NPCs are not necessary to introduce it. To keep them in, it might be better to have these character be members of the Pathfinder faction that were abducted for interrogation by the serpents. Yazoth wants to know how much of a threat the humans are. Juliver escaped to the surface after suffering torture which broke her mind, Eando escaped but fled the wrong way into the depths, and was recaptured after making the contacts he made. The magic portal was disabled by the serpents in an attempt to delay the inevitable confrontation with the humans. Sozatha is one of Yazoth's expedition who fell prey to ghoul fever in the battles underground, and rather than being put out of his misery, in cold blooded serpent fashion, was abandoned on the other side of the gate as a means to dispose of him while also causing problems for the humans.
In Book five and six, Yazoth has been earning XP and gaining levels all this time, just like the PCs have, and has been building her influence and strength of her faction just as the PCs have. So she's leveled up since Smugglers Shiv to the point where you can just re-skin Vyr-Azu's stats as the new and improved Yazoth. The final Boss fight therefore becomes the tried and true final confrontation with the villain who started it all by wrecking the Jenevere on the shiv - 'and it all goes back to the beginning'. After getting their final revenge on Yazoth, then they fight Ydsersius becoming the new "Saviths" of the "New Saventh-Yhi" for the ultimate victory.
Granted this would not make it original, in fact the fix is to make it maybe the oldest one in the book, but the old tropes are old tropes because they're good and they work.
I'm working on a Serpent Kull/Kingmaker mashup for my primary SS group. We are just about to the point where the players will get to make the call whether to go for it or not, and if they decide to do the mashup I'll post ideas and updates here as it goes.
Several reasons why I like the idea. The AP seems build for it. Smuggler's Shiv becomes ripe for colonisation by the end of first first book. The second book invloves re-opening a trade route. The third book involves finding and claiming a lost city. So, giving the PCs a real steak in the storyline by actually giving them an ownership interest in the wilderness places they explore and conquer seems a natural. The books after that are about defending civilisation against an acient threat - Even more compelling by having the lands they're defending be their own.
Right now, I'm working on converting the isle of Smuddler Shiv into Kingmaker terms. It'd be a one hex kingdom, but with several resources, caves, two ruined temples (or one complete temple, if they keep the Zura temple intact, which they may since they're a evil party). While there's no place to expand out from the Shiv, it can be developed into a major port city. I anticipate the deed to the mine in book two being the basis for an initial hex for a second kingdom, which they can buld off of along the trade route. Then winning credit for discovering Saveth-Yi would be the basis for a third kingdom holding.
No no, the specific beats general is in the OP. I don't agree that the term prerequisite only refers to requirements categorised using the same word. If that were the case the rule would establish the distinction, and state what the rule was for other requirments stated in some other form not meant to fall under this rule:
The only exception to this is the requisite item creation feat, which is mandatory. In addition, you cannot create spell-trigger and spell-completion magic items without meeting their spell prerequisites.
The language is awkward but explicit and specific: The only exceptions to the rule allowing substitution of a prerequisite for a +5 to DC are Feat, Spell trigger items, spell completion items.
NB - there used to be a line also specifically requiring being at least the same caster level, with such language still in the arms and armor sections. They took it out so people would not consider it mandetory. By your interpretation, the fact that it's still in there in those other sections, like the language in Potions, would mean it's still mandetory regardless of it being errattaed out. It must be that the term prerequisite is synominous with requirement.
The requirements listed under potions are just like the requirments listed for arms and armor, wonderous items and all other magic, not mandatory.