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I too had noticed this. And while we're on the subject of additional resource updates, I'd love to see the owners of catfolk, ratfolk, and samsaran boons have official access to their chapters from the ARG. John Compton previously noted that they were likely to get access to everything from those chapters, but since that comment there has been an update to the additional resources without any progress on this.
I have a samsaran character all ready to go, and I can't play it until I'm sure it's legal.
Right, my clearly poorly delivered point being that this 12 year old may need a little more guidance from local leadership than what is being provided. I'd be kind of a shame for a youngster to get discouraged.
Sorry! I should have used quote tags. I wasn't responding to you, and I agree with you completely. I was responding to someone up-thread who said the existence of the added monster alone was grounds for a TPK reversal. I just wanted to note that no player has explicitly stated that there was an extra monster. And having run the game myself, most of their other complaints (with a few noteable, but minor, exceptions) seem baseless.
Not that I think they're in the wrong to be upset. Unless you have a very specific party make-up, the scenario is written to be intentionally confusing, and incredibly lethal for 1st-level characters. I'd be mad about playing it too. It just doesn't sound like it was (entirely) the GM's fault.
Given that nobody has explicitly said that the kid added an additional monster into the first combat, it doesn't sound to me like there's grounds for a death reversal. The original poster sort of implied it, but the other player who chimed in made it sound like it was run with the correct number of monsters. And the memories of the two distinct players from this game aren't 100% consistent with each other, so who knows what actually happened? From both player accounts so far, it seems to me like the kid did a great job for someone his age, demonstrating rules knowledge that exceeds many adults I've played with. It definitely sounds like he made some bad calls, and the "vulnerability" issue from the spoiler above is something I was going to mention as a particularly big "oops," but all GMs make mistakes. Most of what he did, and most of what it sounds like the players had problems with, sounds run as-written.
All right, with the clarification, it does sound like some bad calls were made. On the other hand, you absolutely can charge on a surprise round, you just only get to move single speed. It's often called a partial charge, and you can do it anytime you're denied a full-round action but can still take a standard.
It sounds like most people commenting in this thread either haven't run this or don't understand the nuances of the monster in the final fight. I have run this, and it actually sounds like your GM ran it pretty much to the letter and did an admirable job. There were a lot of hard-to-grasp and hard-to-remember aspects to that scenario. For a twelve year old to have gotten them all (or even mostly) right is commendable. The truth is that is just an extremely killer scenario at 1st level.
Jeff covered most of this, but it bears reiteration.
1) The beginning of the scenario is meant to be confusing. You're told you're doing a practice dungeon crawl as a training mission, and when you get there bandits have already sprung most of the paint traps and accidentally activated a bunch of legitimately dangerous robots.
2) The robot you encountered is unbelievably hard at low levels. Its tactics explicitly say it Power Attacks if anyone closes to melee range, which means it hits at a +6 (+8 after round three) for 1d8+10 damage and crits on a 19-20. It also has hardness 5, which is hard for 1st level PCs to deal with. Jeff is right that there should only have been one robot at low tier, but there's also a really annoying electro-dart trap that hits two people per round and can stagger them. However, even at low tier it frees itself and can move after round three.
3) From that point on the dungeon is a blur of weird technology that your party can't identify without an obscure and brand new feat, so it's almost always going to be confusing. It's supposed to feel very alien.
4) The scarecrow has a gaze attack. Gaze attacks are very, very often misunderstood and they're insanely powerful. Gaze attacks happen automatically at the beginning of a creature's turn against every creature within range (in this case 30 ft.) who isn't averting his or her eyes. A creature with a gaze can also focus their attack as a standard action to get a second attempt against one specific creature. Scarecrows' gazes also explicitly say that their approach doesn't break fascination, so you're fascinated until it attacks you. If it can take you down in a turn you're pretty much out of luck.
I would say it sounds like legit TPK, which is probably the likely outcome of playing this scenario with all 1st level PCs.
I started this thread over a year ago, so it's funny to see it pop back up now. I did work with a number of players to help them ease into character legality, buying a source at a time, and I'm happy to announce the transition went relatively smoothly. On the "encouraging physical sales" front, I also bought lockers for the store that people can rent to store their books and minis.
I sort of resent the "unless you're just all about selling books" comment. I try hard to support games I believe in, often at little return for the store, but at the end of the day I'm paying rent on my gaming space and I just can't shell out that sort of money to support players who aren't willing to support me.
I run PFS because episodic, structured campaigns are the only way a store can truly offer RPG events with open enrollment, but I have always been fine with people organizing their own games at my store. And I give people plenty of options for things to buy. I've been to stores that sell only the hardcover rulebooks but wonder why PFS isn't generating sales. I carry all the paperback books, a full complement of dice, all the flip-mats and map packs, other game mats, the fiction line, dice bags, tons and tons of minis (both new and used), and gaming aids like the Litko products and Pathfinder cards.
I run my store to support gamers. I don't appreciate the implication that wanting them to support me in return is somehow money-grubbing or wrong.
Twitter hashtags are hard to read and often intentionally silly, so I don't believe anyone is suggesting that exact implementation.
On the other hand, "well-rounded" is a sort of character some players like to build but many others do not. It's absolutely possible to build a character who wields his or her words as a well as a sword (and vice versa), but it's not always the character everyone wants to play. Personally, I find that well-rounded characters end up feeling too similar to each other. I prefer my characters to have pronounced strengths and weaknesses so they all feel distinct.
Regardless of player preference, we all work for the Pathfinder Society. Thus, the PFS might have some sort of preference for well-rounded agents, but they clearly accept that sometimes you need the right tool for the job or else they wouldn't have hired a lot of the PCs running around (many of my own included). Many of their agents must have been hired on for very specific reasons. That may not be the vision everyone has for the PFS, but that is the reality of this campaign.
There have been a number of times I've sat down at a table and received my mission briefing only to have my character's first question for the VC be "why, out of every agent available, did you choose me for this mission?" Not every agent fits every mission. For instance, my Sczarni kneecap-breaker, on loan to the society to help bash skulls, doesn't make any sense for diplomatic missions. It's not what he knows, it's not what he's good at, and there's no reasonable VC in the society that would send him on any such mission.
But they do. Why?
I realize a lot of PFS communities are small and don't have the luxury of being able to pick and choose missions in a way that's sensible. But for bigger communities, we do, and some sort of tag system would help us do it. I don't want spoiler tags. I don't want to be warned about the things the in-story VCs didn't anticipate when choosing their agents. Those things are fun as surprises, and exciting when done well. But what could be the harm in tagging scenarios with information presented in the briefing? Anything a VC knows when selecting his or her agents is information that players could use to screen which scenarios their characters would likely be chosen to take on.
For people with well-rounded characters, this idea likely doesn't do much for you, but it isn't intended for you either. For those of us who like to build diplomats who can't fight, fighters who can't sneak, and sneakers who can't diplomacize, this would go a long way toward making the in-story VCs seem more competent at their jobs.
Is it really in dispute that the Society has specialists and that their commanding officers would be careful about which missions to send them on?
Something else definitely needs to have changed for this to be okay. That effective full BAB was the only thing making the warpriest's MADness tolerable. 3/4 BAB and 14 Str isn't going to cut it unless something else changed to compensate. Fervor doesn't have nearly enough uses as-written to pick up the slack.
I picked up this project again, and these are the stats I've come up with. Critiques? Corrections? Again, I'm no gun-expert. Given that Paizo already has rules for automatic weapons--awful though they may be--I'm going to use them, just for simplicity and consistency's sake. That said, how do my numbers look?
Bazooka: two-handed weapon, 6d6 fire, x2 crit, 150 ft. range increment, 10 lbs. loaded, 6 lbs. unloaded
When a bazooka hits, it explodes in 30-foot-radius burst from its point of impact. A creature hit directly takes 6d6 points of fire damage and must succeed at a DC 25 Reflex save or catch fire, taking an additional 2d6 points of damage each round until the flames are extinguished. A burning creature can attempt a new save as a full-round action, and dropping and rolling on the ground grants a +2 bonus on this save. Other creatures caught in the burst also take 6d6 points of fire damage, but may attempt a DC 25 Reflex saving throw to take half damage. A bazooka can be targeted at a grid intersection like a splash weapon. Likewise, a bazooka scatters on a miss exactly like a splash weapon. A bazooka’s rockets are loaded as a full-round action.
Double-Barreled Shotgun: one-handed weapon, 1d10 bludgeoning and piercing, x2 crit, 60 ft. range increment, misfire 1-2, capacity 2, scatter, 10 lbs.
Flamethrower: as WWI flamethrower from Reign of Winter
Handgun: one-handed weapon, 1d10 bludgeoning and piercing, x4 crit, 80 ft. range increment, misfire 1, capacity 15, 4 lbs.
Sniper Rifle: two-handed weapon, 1d10 bludgeoning and piercing, 18-20/x4 crit, 400 ft. range increment, misfire 1, capacity 5, fired as full-round action, 12 lbs.
UZI: one-handed weapon, 2d6 bludgeoning and piercing, x4 crit, 100 ft. range increment, misfire 1, capacity 50, automatic, 8 lbs.
Hello everyone! I am the aforementioned shop owner from Pennsylvania, famed for my knock-down drag-out defence of replay. In a curious bit of irony, Skaldi the Tallest is actually a player at my store, and mentioned this discussion to me yesterday, (correctly) believing I had been referenced in the discussion.
Drogon, it's not that I can't stand you, it's that I think your arguments too often fall into the trap of "A is true and B is true, so there must be some causal relationship between A and B", not to mention you often come across as believing your store is living proof of the one true way to make everything right with the gaming industry. That said, I have been presently surprised by your open-mindedness to other ways of handling PFS while skimming this thread, even if I still believe the causal conclusions you're drawing are wrong, and despite you continuing to dodge people's points by insisting your (sometimes) false conclusions must be real since the situations they're based on really happened.
So, let me start with some premises:
1) Unfettered replay-for-credit would be bad for Pathfinder Society today.
In 2010 when there were around 50 scenarios, and APs and modules had yet to be sanctioned for play, replay-for-credit was a necessary system. There simply weren't enough scenarios back then. That said, I was new to organizing roleplaying games at the time, and my ignorance had worsened my problems. It simply never occurred to me to publish a schedule ahead of time or to offer advance sign-ups, and once you get people used to just showing up, it's tough to retrain them. When replay ended, PFS ended in the city of Philadelphia, the combined result of my short-sighted scheduling and the premature ending of a policy that could have been phased out as scenario supply strengthened. After a year of running a homebrew replacement for PFS, we decided to give PFS another shot, this time with a better organizational system and we've been doing well with it ever since.
However, even Warhorn isn't a perfect solution. Sometimes people sign up early and forget to drop themselves when they realize they have a scheduling conflict. Sometimes new customers show up out of the blue because somebody told them when we play PFS but failed to tell them they needed to sign-up in advance. Normally the scheduled tables go off without a hitch regardless, but sometimes things need to be switched around at the last minute to accommodate everyone. It's just the nature of the beast. Even when the schedule works out as expected, I know there are people who wanted to play and had the time, but didn't sign up because there wasn't anything on the schedule they hadn't already played. I try to let my customers know that they can request scenarios for the schedule and if they give me at least a week's notice I can add to the schedule to try to accommodate them, but scheduling math is actually really messy when you want to keep everyone happy.
Drogon, it sounds to me like you don't suffer from these problems because you've created a false scarcity in available seats by not having a big enough play area to meet the demand in your area. You're leaving money on the table because every customer you disappoint is that much more likely to vote elsewhere with his or her dollars. You're probably right that the new customer is likely to spend more, but which customer spends more is irrelevant. Why aren't you ensuring that you can seat them all? Nothing is more infuriating to me than selling out an event. It means I wasn't prepared for my customers' needs. You're solving scheduling problems by ignoring the bigger problem of not having enough space. I think you'll find that scheduling is messier when you have the space to meet demand, and that the concerns of people with more seats than bodies aren't going to be solved by "running a tight ship". You're inevitably going to be sending people home, or at the very least pointing them elsewhere, which is still disappointing when they have their hearts set on PFS (even if they end up enjoying whatever other activity you steer them toward).
None of this is an argument for replay-for-credit, but it's definitely a plea for options. 99% of the time I'm able to switch people to different tables, or switch one of the scenarios being run, to make sure that everyone can play. But every now and then someone offers to replay for no credit and it ends up being the best solution. Until last night I thought that was fine since the guide appeared to say so, and I'm a little disheartened to hear that it isn't. It's never anybody's first choice of solution. Everybody would rather play something they've never played before, and they'd rather get credit for playing, but sometimes the choice comes down to 1) somebody hurriedly reading through a scenario they weren't prepared to run, or 2) somebody replaying for no credit. For all the risk that somebody replaying might ruin a game for everyone else, it's almost guaranteed to be a bad game when the GM just rushed through a reading without doing real prep. This situation is rare, but it happens, and it should be facilitated.
I don't want unfettered replay, as I agree that part of what contributed to LFR's downfall was how bored everybody got with playing the same scenarios over and over again, but I don't think having the tools necessary to make all of my customers happy is too much to ask. Mike, if Paizo doesn't believe higher scenario output is possible (Drogon is right here, by the way, three per month is the magic number), please at least give us the tools to solve scheduling issues. Ever so occasionally, somebody replaying for no credit really is the best option. My store seats over 100, and we've run over 700 tables of PFS, so I hope my data can be taken as seriously as Drogon's.
This weapon is really easy to understand as long as you're not trying to bring any understanding of actually fighting with a weapon like this to the table. Rules don't always need to simulate realism. Sometimes keeping things simple or balanced is worth being less realistic. The stats for this weapon allow you to do all the things you could do with a kusarigama in real life PLUS a bunch of crap you couldn't, because making the weapon more specific and realistic would a) make it terrible, and b) make it stupidly complicated.
How does the naga aspirant druid archetype's naga shape "work like and replace wild shape", exactly?
I understand how stacking bonuses works, and I think your smite evil analogy is apples and oranges for that very reason. If a paladin took a feat (or piece of equipment, etc.) that granted smite evil, I think it's pretty clear that smite evil wouldn't stack with smite evil because it's an ability that grants a fixed bonus. Hell, if it did stack, you wouldn't even need another source to grant the ability, paladins at high levels get multiple uses per day, and they would just use them all against the big evil end boss for absurd bonuses. I would say that a piece of equipment (or feat, etc.) that granted smite evil would probably add to the number of times per day the paladin could smite, so in that sense it would "stack".
Constrict, on the other hand, provides an "always on" effect that says every time you succeed at a grapple check you deal extra damage. First of all plain old bludgeoning damage has never had any problem stacking with more bludgeoning damage (otherwise constrict wouldn't work at all), and second of all I know of no such rule that says two copies of the same ability are redundant, or overlap. I'm not saying they aren't, or don't. I'm just saying it's neither intuitive nor given that that's the case.
A better analogy would be another "always on" bonusless ability like fast healing. I've heard people say that two instances of fast healing don't stack, but I've never seen it cited. I could see it either way. If I have fast healing 5 from my race and fast healing 10 from a template, I know of no rule that says they don't both trigger every turn to heal me for 15 points. It's not that I'm unwilling to believe they overlap, I'd just like to see a valid rules citation so I'm sure of both the rules and the reason for the rules. I just don't like spreading erroneous rulings I've heard and assumed to be true.
And if there is no such ruling, maybe there should be one. It does seem awfully strong for constrict or fast healing abilities to be stackable.
How does the naga aspirant druid archetype's naga shape "work like and replace wild shape", exactly?
How is that "replacing" wild shape in any way then? I'm happy for that to be true, and I don't think it's overpowered because the naga form is weaker than a lot of the other forms available, but it seems out of phase with archetype design philosophy just to give you something for free without replacing anything. Not to mention, it's a hard reading to even arrive at since the ability itself says (in however an ambiguous way) that it replaces wild shape. Perhaps since all the powers you can choose that augment your naga form replace other "always on" druid abilities, the trade-off is considered baked in?
Hero Lab certainly agrees with your interpretation, anyway. Thanks for your insight!
How does the naga aspirant druid archetype's naga shape "work like and replace wild shape", exactly?
How does the naga shape ability granted by the naga aspirant druid archetype (pg.196 of the Advanced Race Guide) "work like and replace wild shape", given that it says wild shape is "gained at 4th level, as normal"?
The only reading I can arrive at that seems like a fair trade in power level without completely gimping the ability is that naga shape replaces the forms a druid would normally have available through wild shape from 6th level onward, but continues to progress the duration and number of times per day the druid can change form. Is that correct?
Advanced Race Guide wrote:
I think that's a reasonable reading, and it sounds like that's what my GM is going to use. I wonder if there's been any insight on this anywhere from the design team or the hexcrafter's author. If you don't treat the curses as touch spells, and don't grant them the free touch, they're really bad with spellstrike... Nevermind that many curses seem to have casting times of a round or longer.
Can you cite any particular rule about multiple instances of constrict not applying? They come from different sources, and constrict says a creature deals the damage "when it makes a successful grapple check (in addition to any other effects caused by a successful check, including additional damage)". I know the "including additional damage" clause is really referring to dealing damage when maintaining the grapple (rather than pinning or repositioning), but if one of the instances of constrict had a different name, I don't think there'd be any doubt both abilities would trigger. Is there a specific rule that prevents two abilities with the same name from working simultaneously, even if they come from different sources?
If I have both Anaconda's Coils (pg.208 of Ultimate Equipment) and Final Embrace (pg.101 of Ultimate Combat), both of which are granting me constrict, do I get to use both constrict abilities every time I succeed at a grapple check? Or do they overlap, giving me only the version with the better damage?
For that matter, Anaconda's Coils says the constrict ability it grants deals 1d6 damage (with no mention of size category). If I'm wearing this belt and I grow by a size category, does my constrict damage scale with size or does it remain 1d6 as the belt specifies?
Ultimate Equipment wrote:
Ultimate Combat wrote:
The hexcrafter archetype of magus found on pg. 48 of Ultimate Magic opens up a special magus arcana called Accursed Strike:
Ultimate Magic wrote:
A hexcrafter magus who can cast bestow curse, major curse, or any spell with the curse descriptor can deliver these prepared spells using the spellstrike ability, even if the spells are not touch attack spells.
Most spells with the curse descriptor happen to be touch spells, so it's easy enough to figure out how those work with spellstrike. However, there are a few good curses out there that aren't touch spells and it's a lot less clear to me how those work.
Would they need to be cast in one round and then delivered in the next, since they aren't touch spells and thus don't normally get a free touch to deliver?
The wording for spellstrike is tricky, as it assumes it's only being used to deliver touch spells. The only other way to "trick" spellstrike into using other spells that I'm aware of (the Close Range arcana) is clear that it allows you to use ranged touch spells as melee touch spells, so it doesn't create these kinds of complications.
On page 196 of the Advanced Race Guide is a nagaji racial druid archetype called the naga aspirant. It has an ability called Naga Shape, that reads as follows:
Advanced Race Guide wrote:
My naga aspirant just got to 6th level and I need to have a handle on all of this, but this description raises a number of questions.
1) Naga Shape states that the druid "can use her wild shape ability (gained at 4th level, as normal)", but goes on to say "this ability otherwise works like and replaces wild shape". Does using this ability consume usages of Wild Shape?
2) If Wild Shape is gained as normal at 4th, but this "otherwise replaces" it at 6th, does that mean the final result of this ability is Wild Shape once per day that can only be used as beast shape I (to transform into a Small or Medium animal) or Naga Shape? Or does it only replace the 6th level form, basically skipping over beast shape II and elemental body I but eventually giving more usages of Wild Shape per day and the other more advanced forms?
3) Naga Shape states both that it works like shapechange and that it works like Wild Shape, and then stipulates a number of exceptions. It never specifies which aspects it borrows from Wild Shape and which it borrows from shapechange (if any). Shapechange lasts for 10 minutes/level and allows you to change forms as a free action during that duration. Wild Shape lasts for 1 hour/level and allows you to change form as a standard action that doesn't provoke. Neither allows you to take the form of an aberration or stipulates what benefits you gain from doing so. My assumption is that Naga Shape's additional text specifies all the known benefits of the ability, but what's its duration? Does shapechange actually have anything to do with the ability?
4) Nagaji have a number of racial traits (armoured scales, resistant, serpent's sense, and low-light vision) that would seem to depend on original form. The flavour of this ability is such that it represents an evolution of the druid, though, so it seems strange to lose these abilities. How does this work?
5) Aberration is not among the types listed in the polymorph rules as causing your gear to meld into your form. Does this mean the naga aspirant's armour continues to function without the wild property? What about rings and weapons since the druid loses his or her arms?
Michael Brock wrote:
It would take a GREAT DEAL of good reasons to even get me to consider opening up a dialogue for that type of convention support.
Andrei Buters wrote:
After all, Paizo already continues the tradition of con boon support. If Paizo is sticking to it's guns on that issue, why not stick to your guns on a brand new and exciting idea that could both revitalize the con tradition while showing off the creative power of all the PFS communities?
Whereas I find it completely disgusting that the campaign management is receiving threats over the boon issue, and can't fault anyone for taking threats seriously, I do have to second the above comment. I'd like to add, though, that the venture-officer network is getting more and more comprehensive by the week. If regional scenarios were assigned to local authors by venture-officers and every region of the world had access to the scenarios assigned by their closest VO, who could complain? The complaint over boons is one of access, right? If every region of the world has access to regional scenarios through their closest VO, how would this exacerbate threats?
I guess I'm taking for granted that these regional scenarios wouldn't be convention exclusives because they wouldn't need to be exclusive in order to be a boon for conventions. Conventions in nearby regions would still benefit from more out-of-town traffic by virtue of being able to offer a higher volume of regional scenarios.
I recently built a spreadsheet to help me keep track of this data for my own store. I can tell you that at Redcap's Corner in Philadelphia Mists of Mwangi and Among the Living have been played the most. King Xeros of Old Azlant has been played the least.
If you want it to be really special, though, I'd suggest choosing one of the 1st level sanctioned modules. Those are both rarely played and replayable.
You also have to think that Living Greyhawk fans split in two primary directions after the campaign dissolved: Pathfinder Society and Living Forgotten Realms. In Philadelphia nearly the entirety of our core LG fanbase bet on the wrong horse and remained D&D-loyalists. Regardless of how this played out elsewhere, there was a dilution of the core player pool of hardcore gamers. Both campaigns have since dragged in thousands of casual players to get their local numbers up, but conventions are built on the backs of hardcore gamers. It could take decades to recover from losing 50% or more of your core convention goers (which 3.5 and thereby its spiritual successor Pathfinder did when 4.0 released).
However, from my perspective on the ground, we are in desperate need of low-level scenarios that provide challenge and interesting roleplay experiences. Unfortunately, so many of the pre-season-3 scenarios seem to just be slugfests with no real story behind them. Accordingly, I feel that releasing scenarios to be convention-only would do a great disservice to many local gamedays.
We're just in desperate need of low-level scenarios, period. I recently put together a spreadsheet to help me schedule PFS that tracks every game that's been run at my store in the last four years and then calculates and displays the most recent date and the total number of times each scenario has been run. What I found is that there are precious few 1-5s and 1-7s that have been run fewer than 7 times each (some as often as 13 times), whereas most 5-9s and 7-11s have been run only 2 or 3 times each. With low-level scenarios being played 2 to 4 times as often as high-level scenarios (which is actually a conservative estimate, considering there are actually already way more low-level scenarios than high), I really think more focus needs to be put on increasing the availability of low-level material.
Tiered releases fights that goal. Local scenarios, so long as they're in addition to rather than instead of the core Paizo-released scenarios, would help. I know Paizo has a quality bar they're usually very careful never to fall short of, but I'd love to see better equilibrium between quality and quantity, which I think volunteer-written adventures at a local level as a supplement to Paizo's paid output would help achieve.
I honestly think most of the blessings are fine. They're not big swingy effects, but the class doesn't need those. Interesting little niche extras are fine with me. On the other hand, I don't like that the alignment and elemental minor blessings don't stack with the sacred weapon class feature. Building nonbos into the class is bad design, and a warpriest of fire should have the best flaming weapons, etc.
On a similar note, the healing blessing overlaps in function with fervor. That actually makes it really good, effectively transferring healing to a different pool of resources so fervor can be used exclusively to buff. It is, however, going to confuse many newer players, and is arguably too good, though it does require the warpriest to prepare healing spells.
Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:
I don't think anyone is suggesting the bloodrager have the hitting power of a barbarian and the casting power of a sorcerer. That would be absurd. I've playtested the bloodrager a fair amount (some 10th level combats I posted about, and a low-level PFS character I haven't posted about) and I absolutely agree that it's an effective class... in so much as it plays exactly like a barbarian. I just think it's a shame that it has this unprecedented ability to cast spells during a rage, but zero support or incentive to make anything of that mechanic. Nobody is asking for a power-up. This class hits hard. Unfortunately it hits in nearly an identical way to an ordinary barbarian and does virtually nothing with its spell slots.
I like barbarians. I also really like martial/arcane hybrids. I'm just bummed on a barbarian disguised as a martial/arcane hybrid, especially when the class has so many word-for-word barbarian abilities it could dump in favour of using its spells to cover its defenses. It doesn't surprise me that people are enjoying playing the class, but I have a hard time believing they're enjoying it any way they wouldn't enjoy a regular barbarian.
At the very least I hope you take a good hard look at the early entry summoner spells (and personal spells that could be made early entry without making them available as potions), and consider giving a lot of these options to the bloodrager at earlier than normal spell levels. Even if it ends up with no incentive to cast spells during a rage, it should at least have an incentive to ever cast. Those spells will still be showing up wayyyy later than they would for primary (and even secondary) casters.
I hope this isn't coming across insultingly, because that's not how it's intended. This is just exactly the type of class I normally really love, and I feel like it had one of the strongest first takes of any of the new classes, but I'm really disappointed with its current state and would have guessed this was near the bottom of the pile in terms of "finishedness" of these classes (my opinion of most finished to least finished in order: brawler, swashbuckler, arcanist, slayer, warpriest, skald, bloodrager, shaman, hunter, investigator). It's a bummer to hear the design team considers it more or less finished barring a few minor touch-ups.
Another reason I hate A as an option is its use with weapons like scythes. I have a weapon that deals 2d4 damage and has a x4 crit multiplier. Clearly I choose to use the weapon's original stats at low levels because 2d4 is better than 1d6 or 1d8 and x4 is better than x3 or 19-20/x2. When I hit level 10 or certainly level 15, I'm now presented with having to choose between higher base damage or my existing x4 multiplier. That's a choice that feels bad even if there's a mathematically correct answer. And my sacred weapon feature shouldn't ever be making my weapon worse (and I haven't done the math, but I'm pretty sure 1d10/x3 is worse average damage output than 2d4/x4 even if the non-crit damage is consistently higher), especially if I'm using a scythe because it's my deity's favoured weapon.
Scaling damage never puts you in a position where you might accidentally nerf your weapon. Scaling damage and normalized crit stats can.
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
I'm honestly not sure how anyone can think option A is any more balanced than option C. This is a seriously slippery slope of fear mongering. Any weapon you want can have the same damage, and now the same crit stats, right? So, why would anyone take a weapon without reach? Should we give all weapons reach? If so, why would anyone take a weapon without the trip quality, etc.? Where does the power gamer fear end?
Of the options given:
C is the easiest to use.
Making the damage from every weapon standard is awesome. Suddenly weapons with nothing going for them can play with the big guns. Doing anything else to homogenize weapons strips them of their character. I'm about a 90% optimizer, but I can never bring myself to make the most optimized call when there's another almost-as-good option that fits my character's themes better. And I never had any plans for my warpriest other than a huge pole-axe. Why? Crit range and damage dice are not the only things that can make a weapon good, and polearms are way cooler than curvy swords.
Some people will squeeze damage from a class and others will make thematic choices. Let it be.
If people are really worried about the big scary falcata, then the damage dice increase should only affect the deity's favoured weapon. That way the mechanic can do what it was intended to do without unnecessary complication or stress for anybody, and good weapons still get to retain their character.
What they need is Eschew Scrolls as a bonus feat. That would really hammer home the combined flavour of a wizard and sorcerer. And of course, it would complement the idea of a magic hacker, since it would allow the arcanist to cast from any scroll costing 1gp or less without having to actually own that scroll. All they'd have to do is convince someone to sell them a scroll for 1gp and *MAGIC HACKER* suddenly they can cast the spell forever without using a spell slot.
I've definitely pulled inspiration from a number of GMs I've known over the years, most notably my early home game GMs Shawn Bonsky and Colin Ruggero who taught me the value of emphasizing the story over the dice rolls. I know a lot of people get a lot of fun out of the mechanical aspect of building and playing their characters (myself included), but I feel like everyone has a lot more fun if the characters that populate the world around them feel multi-dimensional.
I organize a lot more conventions and game days than I otherwise attend, so I'm afraid I don't know many of the great well-known PFS GMs on the convention circuit (although I had fun playing a Kyle Baird game at PaizoCon back in 2009). With regard to local PFS, I always enjoy playing at the tables of James McTeague, Matt Morris, Jeffrey Fox, Brian Lefebvre, Jonathan Bruce, and Tim Stapleton, to name a few. I've learned a lot from each of their strengths and I still feel I have a lot to learn from each of them.
At Redcap's Corner, where I most frequently run PFS games, we have a library of hard copies of PFS scenarios for GMs to borrow to run games here at the store. Each of those is slowly but surely benefitting from the highlighters and insightful notes of each successive GM, and I'd be lying if I said that hadn't become a big part of my preparatory process. In general, I read through a scenario with three highlighters in-hand: yellow for important plot points, orange for important mechanical interactions (like skill DCs), and purple for notes on victory conditions. After I finish reading through and highlighting, I go back and make sure I understand any nuances of the plot that confused me on the first read-through. And finally I revisit each combat and make sure I have a good handle on the mechanics and strategy, annotating those combats if necessary (for instance, I always do the math in advance for Power Attack or Combat Expertise and add that as a note in the margins so I'm not calculating it on the fly).
I'll have to give some thought to a favourite story. I can think of a ton of really fun scenarios, but most of them involved a great group of players with a great group of characters helping me make sure the scenario is fun from start to finish.
The problem is that the current version is only really a big problem at low levels, so a greater version doesn't fix the issue. I honestly don't mind not being able to counter 9th level spells using this ability (and even still you can counter a 9th level spell with the ability if you have the same spell prepared). I mind not being able to counter the relevant spells in appropriate CR encounters when I'm below 15th level.
After thinkng about it a little more I've changed my mind on Counterspell. I think the nerf is a bit much. Spellcraft DC + 1 AR point + spell slot of equal level + dispel check + immediate action (as it was originally) is more than fair. With arcanists already a level behind wizards, clerics, druids, witches, and shamans with regard to highest spell level, setting them two levels further behind when they already have so many hoops to go through for immediate action counterspelling is rough. I don't mind at high levels as much, but what made this exploit so cool before was its ability to make counterspelling usable at low levels. The nerf made that much less realistic. If you want to lessen the impact of Parry Spell, just make the ability incompatible with it.
Well, it does seem that all five of the problems I see with the bloodrager could be solved by dumping some of the "extra" barbarian abilities for a mechanic that allowed you to, in some way, quicken spells. That mechanic would need to feature a meaningful expenditure of resources or setup time, or have a drawback, but a lot of good suggestions have already been made by myself and others. To recap a few off the top of my head:
Rage Points: This would be a mechanic that lets you accrue points from a starting pool of 0 by doing martial things, and then either allows you to 1) expend those points to add metamagic feats you know to spells without increasing the spell level (maybe expending points equal to the normal modified level of the spell); or 2) expend those points to quicken spells (expending points equal to the spell level). The trigger could be entering rage, or it could be confirming crits, or it could be reducing a creature to below 0 hit points. And it's more or less irrelevant whether the ability just allows you to quicken or allows you to add metamagic feats you know. Some variation on this ability feels very bloodrager, allowing you to concentrate on basic face-beating early in the day while working your way up to an arcane fury.
Rage Metamagic: This mechanic would simply allow you to trade rounds of rage in place of increasing the spell level when applying metamagic feats. It feels a little less thematic, but there's no doubt it's making your rage relevant to your casting and it creates an interesting resource management tension.
Rage Contingency: This mechanic would allow you to cast spells earlier in the day with the contingency that they would trigger upon entering rage. Maybe this would increase the casting time to 10 minutes, or you'd have to cast them an hour before your rage for them to work. In practice this ends up working a lot like the changes recently made to Greater Bloodrage, etc., but has the interesting caveats of forcing you to use your resources and choose what spell to cast before you know what you'll be fighting and of allowing you to cast any spell going into your rage, not just buffs.
Explosive Anger: This mechanic allows you to quicken any spell that includes yourself in its area of effect, making it essentially feel like the spells are exploding outward from you, almost casting themselves as a byproduct of your anger. This mechanic might work best if it only worked while you were raging (further limiting it a bit and feeling more thematic). This is a niche no other class has dared to fill, and feels perfect for the bloodrager.
Any of the above could replace Uncanny Dodge (and co.) and go a long, long way toward making this class feel more cohesive.
As for the spell list, there's a couple of considerate steps that could be taken toward building it from the ground up without risking the potion/wand issues. First of all, look to spells that have already been made early entry spells (especially for the summoner). Just at a quick glance that opens up the following to early entry on the bloodrager list without affecting anything else in the game negatively:
Early Entry Spells:
control summoned creature
wall of fire
wall of ice
wall of stone
Many of these are fantastic, commonly used sorcerer spells that would feel really, really in-theme for the bloodrager, especially at a spell level lower than the sorcerer gets them. And all of these have already crossed the wand/potion barrier by being lower level on at least one other caster's spell list.
After those, the next thing to look at would be (especially 4th level) sorcerer spells with a personal range, since those wouldn't become eligible for potion use even with a lower spell level. That opens the following as possibilities:
Personal Range Spells:
beast shape I, II, and III
elemental body I and II
greater false life
monstrous physique I, II, and III
Dropping these a level wouldn't affect potions, but would mean 4th level wizard wands could now be 3rd level bloodrager wands, bought for 15,750gp instead of 21,000gp. None of these effects seem likely to be good enough on such an expensive wand that the price break will matter, though.
Finally, the list could benefit from some swift and immediate spells. This yielded the fewest results for me, searching only through the sorcerer spell list:
Immediate Action Spells:
I think with many of the above, we're well on our way to a meaningful reason for the bloodrager to have its own spell list without damaging the magic item economy.
It seems to me that the design team had a compelling mechanical reason to combine barbarian with sorcerer. The idea of a class that uses rage as a vehicle to unlock its bloodline is actually really cool. It also opens the doors for a few things people have long wanted, namely a class that can cast while it rages and an arcane caster with the ranger's basic framework. This is all on top of the fact that the design of the magus went over so well and the barbarian and sorcerer have each respectively always felt like the more primal versions of the magus parent classes, the fighter and the wizard. So, what went wrong?
1) The concept has a lot going for it, and is clearly very resonant with a lot of people. The problem is that, while rage-emergent bloodlines are really cool, being able to cast while raging isn't very interesting unless there's a reason to cast while raging. Right now raging only benefits hitting things, so it almost always seems like the right decision to drop out of rage to cast because casting precludes hitting things. Why waste the range rounds?
2) Further, what spell are you going to be casting that's going to be a better use of your actions than just hitting more things (especially if you're already raging)? Bloodragers get most spells at well past relevant levels, but their plain old face-beating damage scales much like a barbarian's (which is to say it scales well).
3) The spell list doesn't (and didn't) feel right for the class as it's written, but it isn't really clear what spell list would feel right. The class has its roots in sorcerer, so it feels like it should have some overlap with popular sorcerer strategies. Unfortunately the bloodrager is best when it's beating face and that aligns rather poorly with most sorcerer strategies. Other full BAB casters get access to swift action spells and early entry spells, which both seem to fit the stunted progression and split focus of such a class, but early entry for spells is actually at its most dangerous when those spells are being reduced to third or fourth level. Those are the levels that qualify spells for potion and wand adaptation, respectively, so it stands to reason that any spell that suddenly gets permission to exist in potion or wand form needs to be considered very, very carefully. If giant form I gets reduced to a 4th-level spell for bloodragers, we have to be okay with living in a world where wands of giant form I exist. If we want greater infernal healing to be a 3rd-level bloodrager spell, we have to accept the existence of greater infernal healing potions.
4) Many people seem to be worried that the bloodrager is stepping rather heavily on the barbarian's toes. On paper, it sure looks like it could. Granted, there are some incredible rage powers and barbarians certainly get more of those than bloodragers get bloodrage powers, but with the addition of spells and other minor additions to the class, it's hard to argue that the bloodrager is getting a greater quantity of abilities overall. Unfortunately, in practice the whole of these additions is much smaller than the sum of its parts, but the sheer volume of abilities lifted from the barbarian is still cause for valid complaint.
5) The last bloodrager thread seemed to go back and forth between those who wanted the bloodrager to feel more like the primal magus and those who wanted it to feel more like the arcane ranger/paladin. This is tricky because neither description neatly unpacks its definition for you, but the truth is the bloodrager should really strive to be both. The nature of arcane magic is very different than that of divine. Divine dabbles in the offensive and arcane in the defensive, but at their core arcane casters seek to destroy and divine casters seek to preserve or create. Between the awkward fit of most spell lists and the total lack of incentive to cast spells, especially when in rage (despite rage-casting being, on its face, one of the most promising advances of this class), it should be clear that the two plans of face-beating and spell-slinging need to be more unified. We should look to both the paladin and the magus for help.
To unlock the bloodrager's true potential and make it the cohesive and interesting class we all want it to be, the above five problems need to be solved. The good news is that there seem to be very simple solutions that solve more than one of the above. I would guess this class came to exist because a few dominos were lined up correctly. Somewhere along the line a few dominos got lost, but once they're found and replaced, this class should click perfectly.
I can think of a few reasons why I wouldn't use a high crit range weapon with this class:
1) high critical multiplier
I really don't think the damage progression is a big deal.
And I honestly can't believe people are railing on about this class being overpowered. The fighter, inquisitor, cleric, and paladin all have compelling advantages over the warpriest, even if the warpriest now also has compelling advantages over them. The swift buffs are a really awesome take on a spell/combat synergy mechanic and really, really not a big deal on a class without full spellcasting. That mechanic is merely the warpriest's equivalent to rage, smite, or favoured enemy (all of which are swift action or faster to activate to keep the fighting classes fighting).
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Are there any other exploit ideas that folks would like to see. We've got a few that we are planning to add, but I want to see what you have to say.
Here are some ideas that feel like they fit the spell hacker analogy:
Absorb Spell the ability to convert a targeted spell into arcane reservoir points when you succeed on your save against it.
Control Magic the ability to gain control of an ongoing magical effect, such as a summons, or a flaming sphere, or a dominate person, etc. using the arcane reservoir.
Effortless Concentration the ability to trade arcane reservoir points for rounds of concentrating on a spell as a swift action.
Metamagic Flexibility the ability to use arcane reservoir points to add metamagic to ongoing spell effects or spells cast by other people, or maybe even to other people's spells as they're being cast.
Spell Stacking the ability to cast while holding the charge on a touch spell.
Swift Dismiss the ability to dismiss dismissable spells as a swift (or even immediate) action.
Undispel Magic the ability to undo another caster's dispelling.