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Big M's page

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Having read all of the posts in this thread, I should have stopped at the second one. The poster's essential point is the correct one with respect to melee fighters, certainly (which is implied in the post), and stands unchallenged by any of the various quibbles throughout.

Essentially, wholesale robbing spotlight is lame at most tables.

Roberta Yang wrote:

Wizards usually blow fighters out of the water in pretty much every way, but for the most part they don't do it by punching opponents in the face. But Eidolons do. Unlike wizards, summoners are not only vastly more powerful than fighters but also are able to show up fighters when it comes to doing exactly the one thing fighters are meant to do.

When compared to a wizard, a fighter can at least fall back on "Well, at least I can poke things with a sword good!" Compared to an eidolon, the fighter just looks pathetic.


Hero lab has a fair number of bugs in it--sometimes it catches stuff you miss, but you gotta double check the math. In another game, hero lab told me my 13th level paladin companion had an AC of 54 (absolutely wrong).

OP, you realize it's a full action to swim underwater. I'm not even getting to the weapon penalties. What the heck does the Roc do in the water? What about ready actions to interrupt the druid when it inevitably summons? And who got stuck with the 2 on 1 fight in the bilge?

( I don't think the underwater demolitions is problematic.)

We've had no deaths yet, but we've had some extremely lucky breaks and have had to dip into the infamy powers to save our skins several times.

I can see how that team is fairly solid, mind you. Several sources of disposable hit points, three classes that have healing--one exceptionally strong, too. The summons help the rogue get sneak attacks, and alchemists can toss a lot of pain in a short period of time. If the group advances slowly and isn't under time pressure (or ignores it), they could be doing quite well.

Be sure to abuse the cyclopses, then. :O


We have a small group--3 players and the DM. We make due with whatever we get. The DM makes our followers. I sort of ask for something generally, maybe one or two "hey-this-is-important" points, and take whatever he gives me. No big. But that was the expectation and understanding going in. Also, I'm not someone who cares tremendously about total optimization. I'm fairly easy going, and I'd rather to make the best out of difficult circumstances than optimal ones.


Is the DM restraining you because you tend to make very effective characters compared to the rest of the group? Are you very clever at subverting encounter design in a way that either steals spotlight or doesn't fit with his vision of what a fantsasy game should be about? Is it a (ham-handed) means of trying to address a power discrepancy and spotlight time? That would make sense.

I'd try to get at what his deal is. I like to presume peolpe aren't just off their rockers. Maybe he has a legit concern and is this is his lame way of trying to address it. Perhaps you two and work together to address whatever his actual sub rosa deal is.


I'm curious how other groups have dealt with ship-to-ship combat. It's great that there is a system, and it's great that it works for some things. But it has some problems, and I'm wondering how your group has dealt with those gaps. I've seen a few posts here and there, but I'm wondering, generally, how folks handled things like broadsides targeting the steering mechanism of another ship, or how folks mitigated against higher level magic, or if you added creative house rules for alchemists and shot, etc.

We are currently punting--gentlemanly agreeing not to engage in certain tactics in the interest of drama and fun, but I'm curious if your group has done something better or just different.


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Speaks well but drools all over himself and others. Uncontrollable flatulance. Body odor like feces--people get woosey being near the character. Bad teeth, bad breath, bad hair. Pronounced stutter or other speach impediment or Turrets. Looks like a total mess. Things no amount of formal training can correct.

Think of that really smart professor you had in college who was just hideous. He was persuasive and you liked him, in a way, but man, look at him for a while and things get funky.


Harpoon + greater grapple can do this, though only on a crit. Standard to attack (crit and grapple), then move (grapple) to pull the person to you.


Sounds like Yoda.


I have enjoyed the storyline and submechanics as a player, too, but I do disagree with you on the "balanced characters" part, having played one in the AP (with lots of the appropriate skills called for in the player's guide). My character failed as often or more than folks who didn't have the appropriate skills. It's all very much luck based in the early levels. A d20 is just too volatile, and a +1 is jut too small. Having the skill was generally of no consequence. Having a +16 sneak, however, was very useful.

Mr. Quick wrote:
that aside, they've learned harsh lessons about having balanced characters - pure combat skills are important but they've had to learn the value of skills they normally wouldn't consider key. things like perform, heal, profession: sailor, and swim. . . . Bluff is proving to be extremely useful as well as diplomacy and intimidate. its been something of a learning experience for my players but...they've adapted well and everyone is really enjoying themselves.


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baalbamoth wrote:

If you were going to run a game and wanted to give players a set of directions and/or restrictions that would stop any character created from “greatly” unbalancing the game, at any time during his/her progression… what would those directions/restrictions be? Or, (If your not up to that challenge)… what is one direction/restriction you feel should be on that list?

Three points

1) On your q: one direction within PF? Take down the fantasy one whole notch. 15 point buy, take away the least narratively interesting but most powerful spells (particularly those that render some skills superfluous)--glitterdust, teleports, mass puking, fly, etc. Do not allow people to craft their own magic items and don't have a flourishing economy in a magic item trade--if there even is such an economy.

2) Hack on incentives--not xp--that incentivize the playstyle you're looking for. Hero points are an attempt at this--though only middling in efficacy.

3) The problems are too fundamental to the system--maximizing tactical and strategic advantages and use of resources is what the system rewards and turns on. I'd switch to a system that incentivizes the playstyle you're looking for (say Burnng Wheel, The Riddle of Steel, Houses of the Blooded etc.) where the mechanics directly reward and incentivize storytelling. In particular, look for a system that offers rewards for failure and has less voatile & luck-based mechanics for resolving social conflicts.


Ah but it's puerile and that's what counts. ;)


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Toilet mimic.


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Couldn't they just mix stuff up in the kitchen, meth-lab style?

A modicrum of creativity should get you over the verisimilitude hurdle. If you want realism, um, this is both the wrong setting and wrong system. Like, isn't this the same system that lets you add row speed with sailing speed, or allow your ship to be pulled by narwhales? And an alchemist is a problem how?


To increase your team's action economy, I'd recommend the other two classes that get animal companions (druid, ranger, certain oracles, etc.) and the summoner. Druids are just great all around. Consider a snake in particular.


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I also truly dislike these encounters. It's way too hard to "solve" as puzzles (a few exceptions). They do not make the game interesting. They do not have interesting mechanics. They just punish characters in some obnoxious way. They are generally unkillable or cost tons in opportunity cost. They do not add to horror or atmosphere. They add to frustration and that is all. Frustration is an important part of these games--but these do not work well.

I got instantly tired of them in HoH. In Book VI of CC, they really depleted the energy of the game.

We have a group of savvy, experienced players, most of whom have written for RPGs. Whoever DMs is invariably very good at it. But I despise these both for their mechanics and the play of the thing in practice. I think they amount to a lazy punt, not an interesting twist.

And aren't they trying to simulate, you know, a ghostly spirit? Isn't that what we have monsters for? The mechanics are awkward and do not interact well with the rest of the system.


I'll be playing an escaped catapult slave crewgob (goblin fighter/lore warden). The str penalty hurts, but he has plenty of dex for TWF. He's going to pretend that he doesn't understand common and ham up being more of a coward than he really is--until it's time for revenge.


It's key because a character needs Knowledge: Engineering for Master Siege Engineer. So if a character wants that useful feat, the knowledge skill is essential. It seems impractical to spend skill points on both the knowledge and the profession, particularly with a skill-point starved class like fighter when a variety of skills are called for in the game.


setzer9999 wrote:
False. He is my enemy, but he can't be my opponent

Enemies aren't opponents? They are using your own definition. They're fighting, right now. Thus the combat rounds and all that.

Quote:
How can I be the opponent of someone that is thousands of miles away in a bunker, and I don't know where he is? You have a very strange understanding of the word "opponent".

Quite easily. People are opponents online every day--in games, in internet chats. it would be fair to say that you and I are opponents in this discussion. If I met you on the street, we would be opponents by definition, but I would not know that you were my opponent.

The game's definition of opponent here is not limited to the characters' knowledge. Awareness is--that's separate from opponent. You're adding a second awareness requirement.

Quote:
So... you're saying I'm right then? You just said that he is absolutely my opponent, but that if one of us attacked the other without the other knowing, we'd be surprised.

No, now I'm using the "awareness" mechanic. You would not be aware of his presence or attack.

Look man, you're still not explaining why my reading makes no sense.


I am saying "opponents" means for purposes of the game mechanics. One side wants to harm the other. They are opponents per se. You are saying "opponents" as in role-playing adversaries, and awareness and so on. I think your definition is outside the scope of the rule, and too narrow. If you accept my reading, everything makes sense. You can continue to cram the rules into failure, but that's by virtue of your reading, not the rules themselves.

setzer9999 wrote:
Before he was killed, Osama Bin Laden was my enemy. Would you describe him as my "opponent"? No, that's ridiculous.

For purposes of the English language, yes.

Further, if you attacked him without him being aware of you, he would have been very surprised. Further, if he attacked you, without you being aware of him, you would have been rather surprised, I imagine.

Quote:
What about an unknown terrorist?

Right. This is the aware of someone piece.

Quote:
If I'm on the bus with a terrorist with a bomb strapped to his chest and I don't know it,

So he succeeded on some skill check for this subterfuge, which is outside of the scope of the section in question.

Quote:
he is my enemy, but until I would realize that he is a terrorist with a bomb strapped to his chest is RIDICULOUS to call him an "opponent".

Not for purposes of the dictionary definitions you proposed above. He is not your opponent in combat, no. He is your opponent by your own definition above. He is struggling against you, and you, I imagine, struggle against people intent to kill you.

Quote:
Two sports players are opponents on the field. Are they automatically opponents when they meet at a party later on?

Are they in a struggle against one another? Probably not--but if so, yes they are. I'm just using your own definition. The combat situation makes people on both sides opponents. The text in the rule is just a handy way of referring to different groups.

Quote:
You have to meet one of two criteria to be an opponent. You either have to recognize that your counterpart is you opponent or be in physical opposition with them.

That is a considerably narrower definition that the definition you posted above, which has no such language.

Quote:
It is too late once the determination of whether or not a surprise round happens to say that you are now opponents.

Only if you insist on your non-existent knowledge mechanic. =/


setzer9999 wrote:
To be an opponent, you must be in opposition at the time.

Correct. But you do not need to know that you are in opposition with someone to be in opposition with them. You're adding that requirement to both the English language and the RAW.

(Muscles, by the by, are not inanimate--or even creatures, and seem to be outside the scope of the rules of the game.)

Quote:
You do not remain an opponent forever because you at one juncture were opponents.

True. And that is not part of my example or the hypos proposed by the OP.

Quote:
If there is no recognition of "opponent" status, then there is no contest of wills or reflexes, and of course none of their physical bodies as well.

No. That's what the roll for initiative is reflects mechanically. The recognition is automatic unless something is done outside of the elementary and basic rules in this section.

Let's assume, for the moment, that both of our readings of the rules are plausible--that the rules are ambiguous. Why is my reading inferior to yours? Or are you saying that my reading of the rules is borked or goes against the text--that my reading is wholly impossible? You can force the rules into not working, sure--but why is my reading fundamentally flawed?


setzer9999 wrote:

An old man is standing on the side of the road. A young man walks up next to him. The old man sees the young man standing there. They stand in silence. The young man suddenly pulls a knife and slits the old man's throat.

Are they opponents?

Clearly--unless there are facts outside of the example that I am not aware of. Because you're fussing over the general definition of opponent--here.

Consider the Killer Klowns Klub. Members of the Killer Klowns Klub hate members of the Bubble Booger Boys. They are all opponents. Bob is a member of BBB and Ken is a member of KKK. Ken and Bob do not know that one another are members of those groups. Ken and Bob stand next to one another at the aforementioned bus stop.

Ken and Bob are opponents, and they are aware of one another, but they are not aware of one another as opponents.

Ken gets a text, "The guy next to you is in BBB. Kill him." Ken does not use any sneakiness or bluff. He starts combat against Bob. Initiative is rolled normally.

If Ken wants to surprise Bob in this situation, Ken can attempt to do so using something else. But that is not part of the RAW in the passage we are discussing. He could hide on Bob--get behind him or somesuch--so that Bob is no longer aware of him. He could try to sucker punch Bob, which might be a special part of the rules. He might just be plain faster than Bob on that day at that time--though Bob, being a trained Booger Boy, should get to roll initiative himself and take advantage of his improved initiative, particularly since Ken has a 7 Dex and a -2 on his initiative.

Follow? Simpler yes?


setzer9999 wrote:
In order to have an "opponent" you must have a contest.

Sure. But you do not need to know you are in a contest to either have an opponent, or to be aware of an opponent.

Quote:
You have to be struggling against one another to be "opponents".

Sure. But you do not need to be aware that you are struggling against one another to be opponents.

I can be aware of my opponent without being aware that we are opponents. If my opponent wants to surprise me while I am aware of him, then that falls outside of the simple rules of the surprise round that the OP was describing.


setzer9999 wrote:
A creature can be an opponent, or a creature can be a non-opponent.

Adding a knowledge of status is not part of the RAW. You can make the rules more complicated with forced or readings, sure, and there is some ambiguity--but that ambiguity is readily resolved by reading the rules in the simpler manner. Think about it from the drafter's perspective.

At this point, I am just repeating the points that you have not addressed, and so I will bow out. Best :)


setzer9999 wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
I also don't think saying "I attack"

...

I don't think anyone is arguing (unless I missed it somewhere above) that anytime someone announces they attack it should be a surprise round...

You are, by negative implication by adding this notion to the rules, that folks have to be aware of some nefarious intent or secret status as adversaries to avoid having to be surprised. In that situation, simply saying "I attack" does give someone a surprise round--unless you add various other mechanics.

Isn't the simpler reading both the more likely one, and usually, though not always, the better one? I think it's a straightforward categorical rule, not something fact-specific about intents and so on. And that simpler reading works on its own, with the rules as written. Clearly you don't like that reading, which is fine, but it seems to me the simpler and straightforward reading of the rules readily handle the kinds of common occurrences that the OP was concerned about.


setzer9999 wrote:
And people in my camp would vehemently argue that it is NOT against the rules as written. Its a disservice to the English language to assume that you can be "aware of your opponents" if you don't know they are "your opponent".

Actually, no. Al and Betty are opponents. Al does not know that Betty is his opponent. Al is aware of Betty. Al is aware of his opponent. A person can be aware of an opponent without knowing their status as adversaries.

Your reading is adding something to the rules that is not there--which is fine, etc. But the rules as written obviate the strangeness the OP was concerned about. What you're describing is akin to someone trying to pull of a sucker punch in plain sight, which is like a bluff or somesuch.

Quote:
Let's put it this way... let's say there is a wall. The wall is covered in smooth plaster. Underneath that plaster is brick. Are you aware of a "brick wall"? No, you are aware of a plaster wall. So, if you aren't aware of your opponent being an opponent, you cannot be aware of your...

I am aware of the wall and that is all that is required to obviate a surprise round; to avoid having it fall on me or to scribble upon it. I do not need to be aware of whatever adjectives or other traits describe the wall to be aware of the wall. Right?


wraithstrike wrote:
I also don't think saying "I attack" should get anyone a free surprise round. If players want to do that I would do it as a GM, but conversations with my NPC's is less likely to happen because "I attack" is now a mechanical construct, and I would begin to treat it as one.

I think this is the critical point, and I agree. Any interpretation that violates that principle is bunk.


wraithstrike wrote:
Essentially it boils down to trust. In such negotiations I would have everyone refrain from touching their weapons.

I think it's mechanically simpler to reflect that with a heafty situational bonus to a bluff check. Plus, that's a fairly rare situation. :)

The OP was talking about common situations, and in common situations, where both sides are aware of one another, the default is that there is no surprise round. Under a plain reading of the rules, they are aware of their opponents, so there is no surprise round. And I think that's a fine way to resolve things. I think this is a case of people trying to make the rules more complicated than the actual language.

setzer9999 wrote:
The issue at its core is this: you have to "be aware of your OPPONENTS" otherwise there is the threat of a surprise round. You can be aware there is a creature standing there, but in order to be aware of your opponent, you have to be aware that this creature IS your opponent first.

I understand the position--it is against the rules as written, I believe. The text does not say anything about being aware of the intent of the opponents, or that they have a hostile intent. One side only has to be aware of the other side--not aware of their nefarious intent. This makes surprising people when they are aware of you, well, really damn hard. And that's fine. Pulling that off is a special situation of the rules, not the default. And that's how it should be.


Great, thanks.


I am not sure why the OP is having trouble with the RAW. In example one there is no surprise round. Nor is there in example two. In both scenarios, the groups are aware of one another. When someone wants to take an attack action, roll for regular initiative.

If everyone is aware of everyone--there is no surprise round because everyone is aware of everyone else. Yes, a whole party can give someone a beat down before he gets a swing in--unless he succeeded at doing did something sneaky to make the other side unaware.

If someone did something sneaky to make the other side "not aware" that they were opponents, then there would be a surprise round as normal.

I am confused at the confusion. :)


Thank you both. Initially I didn't think it could only be used on creatures, but I see that now. I read it to be able to affect a "target," which would include a ship or a castle or whathaveyou, but I see that later in the ability it mentions creatures specifically.

Anyhow, thank you for your thoughts.

The player's guide recommends profession (siege engineer) and engineering--is the a practical difference or a reason to take both (one is wis based, and the other int based, but any other reason)?


I think something like this may be getting there. Switch the die roll. Maybe it works something like the "ride skill" mechanic where the acrobat could swap CMD/AC for his or her acrobatics + a flat number or acrobatics + a roll or a acrobatics + a roll with a bonus.

As it is, the mechanic is totally lame--I agree with the OP.

Maerimydra wrote:
[I]nstead of throwing 1d20, the defender could "take 10" on his attack roll and if the tumble fails, the defender would have to make a real attack roll against the tumbler to confirm the hit.


The OP is right in substance if unideal in his rhetoric. It's poor design. We can all point to exceptional cases where it's helpful, but generally it's super weak and the prereq imposes MAD on already nuanced feat lines that have serious problems of their own. And I don't buy the "fighters can afford the feat tax" bit--that's crap. It's foolish design that incentivizes cookie cutters and discourages leveraging something besides damage with a fighter--and thereby, discourages nifty narration.


Any opinions on what knowledge skill would be appropriate for a Lore Warden who wants to study the enemy ship with a spyglass a bit before manning the ballistae and catapults (Know Thy Enemy)? Would any of the standard knowledge skills work? If a new knowledge skill would be required, what else would it be good for? The DM is a swell guy, and I imagine he'd buy a decent idea, but I'd rather approach him with a concrete idea at the outset.

And what's the deal with Profession (Siege Engineer)? Is that somehow better than Engineering? Are they duplicative or different?

Thanks!


A player should utilize the mechanics to
(1) further his or her concept of the character, and
(2) play the same game as the rest of the people at the table, and
(3) share spotlight time.

If the table is mainly tactical, then playing something with limited tactical options is playing something against the focus of the group. If the group is softer, then playing something that regularly dominates spotlight time is playing against the ficus of the group.


I suppose:

Armor that has to accommodate a rider, saddle, etc. is barding. Otherwise it's just armor.

The dragon's armor probably doesn't have to accommodate a rider--it's for personal use.

Nevertheless, the distinction is lame and I would banish it.


Lawful generally means ordered, right? Mafia are lawful. Slavery is lawful. Tyranny is lawful. Pirates often have a command structure--mutiny is usually a bad thing. We know from just the adventure path descriptions that these pirates have a king and a council and it's not just anything goes. On a ship, people have particular jobs and they do their jobs in order to accomplish some end.

Or maybe it's principally that the character's personal philosophy is oriented on the order of things, and his place in the order of things. Right now, his place in the grand order of things is with these ostensibly lawless pirates. Or maybe the character just has a very ordered personal life--workout routine on waking up, eats meals at regular times, has the same breakfast every day, meditates at dusk, etc.

It's a matter of perspective. If he only so much as respects a command structure, or something more philosophical than actual, that passes in my book.


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For your BBEG wizard--maybe consider something mildly amusing. Like an ogre or troll wizard. Or a craven goblin or kobold wizard with delusions of grandeur (and who happens to have bad breath). Or maybe even a giant who is a wizard, in the FeeFieFoeFum style with an enslaved magic harp and everything. Maybe the creature is the result of some horrible magical accident gone awry, and it baked the previous BBE Wizard in a pie. (The peasants liked the last evil wizard so much more . . . .) Wizards also give you all sorts of excuses for magical puzzles and so on in the tower, captives to rescue, etc.

For me, goblins would be a must, but I adore playing them. Maybe they have to barter with some or trick them or some such. Just can't go wrong with goblins.

I think utilizing traditional mythology is a fine idea. Norse stuff--various creatures could at various times get all mixed up, so don't sweat the details on that too hard. There's tons to plunder from Greek mythology of course, too. But either of those could be the theme of their own grand adventures entirely. Odin lost his eyepatch, or Aphrodite's daughter was turned to stone by a jealous Medusa, etc. Something based on actual history might be nice if they've studied it--they'll have a reference and get to use and expand on something they learned in school. Could work, could work.

How big is the group? Sounds kind of wonderful. I recommend some pictures for them, but you seem to grok the importance of visual aids and props here. Maybe feature some runaways from faerie tales (Jack all grown up, Grumpy the Dwarf's son, Captain Hook's rapier, etc.), or not.

After they're invested in your game, a few sessions in, at some point you can talk about the difference between 2d6 and 1d12, and 1d20 and 2d10, because then the math will mean something to them besides just you yammering away. It will mean something about the game, and it will have practical meaning for them. And that's the teachable moment.


slacks wrote:
Wow, Big M I disagree with you on almost every single point.

That's okay. I feel bad about hijacking the dude's thread, so I'm happy to move to a thread about hps generally if you'd like, though I'm sure it's been beaten over and over and over. (It's also nice to know that your game has handy fruitstands nearby for folks to kick over :) .)


cranewings wrote:
Big M, in this system, the person receiving damage always narrates the effect of the damage.

Right. See, under your system, I'm not narrating what my character is doing. The person receiving the damage narrates what my character does--so you're not solving the problem of the bored fighter. I don't get to narrate my character's heroism--I rely on someone else to do so. Still doesn't solve the staleness issue, delay at the table, and other problems--some people don't narrate well (and understandably, given the fungible nature of damage). Various stenches of smoldering man-meat is simpler than duck, stab, jab, twirl, slice, bleed. (And what are the limits, if any, on narration?)

And your systems are house rules, correct? So, as I said, you're working against the system--that was my point. And your latter one about jealous gods--it doesn't fly for me. Your other about DP--that's a heavy add on to the system that will hit other problems. It's cool that it works at your table. It's cool you have figured out a solution. But my point was simply that I understand why some folks would find the system as-is to be awkward or tedious for hand-to-hand narration.


cranewings wrote:


How do you figure? Being on a step so you can swing down at someone counts as high ground. A low wall is partial cover. A tree can be cover or concealment. I use that stuff constantly.

High ground can be handy, I'll agree, but it's harder in practice--most dungeons combats and field combats are in pretty flat places as a matter of (unfortunate) course. Also, practically speaking, terrain tends to interfere with those 5 foot steps that are so important to fighters. As a result, a number of those bonuses are easier when applied to ranged combat than hand-to-hand, just as a matter of course.

And usually terrain is limited in descriptors, just as a matter of course. There are no handy fruitstands to kick over, as in the movies that's all scripted to be convenient, and this is all simulationist, and there are no handy conveniences. Aside from obvious bottlenecks, it's hard for hand-to-hand fighters to make heroic and interesting use of terrain.

Quote:
As far as HP goes, all you have to do is pick a convention for describing it and the stick to it. My group remembers how many HP they had at first level. If they drop into level one HP, they are stabbed, otherwise they defend it.

Yeah, I follow--so you shift the disjunction to the healing side. What would save that man's life barely covers this man's scratch. All damage is fungible, mechanically--running someone through or stabbing someone in the pinky toe. At the table, narration can slow down the flow and pace of the game. You can't preformulate narration during other people's turns because you can't know what effect to narrate until after you throw the dice on your turn. The system doesn't work to give you any fresh or quick ideas. There's also no mechanical reward for interesting narration of damage (unfortunately). So when you do so, you're delaying play, and you don't know whether it's adding value to other peoples' play. And then there's a bit of a question of scope roles. Who gets to narrate damage, the DM or the player? Are there limits? What are they? There are no mechanics and rules for this, unfortunately, (and there could be--I mean, Robin Laws writes for Pathfinder sometimes now, author of Feng Shui). These things are what I mean by you're fighting the system, rather than have it help us.

As I said, you can (and should) work that narration, but this system doesn't help us. I'm not saying it's all some parade of horribles. Some people like this aspect of the system, but I can understand why it can get tedious and difficult and uninteresting for others.


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I have done this in an elementary type setting, principally grade 5. I've also been hired to run for kids' birthday parties.

I suggest keeping things simple, and you should probably keep out some rules. Like don't penalize kids for striking to subdue. Don't mess with some of the tedious rules, and perhaps have items that allow that to work (like give someone a bag of holding or such). For treasure, have items that are a bit grander than you might normally have--like an axe that can cut through anything, or boots that let a person walk on air as if walking on the floor, or move twice as fast as anyone else. Dole out lots of situational bonuses for creative teamwork or ideas, or even attempts at creative teamwork or ideas. I'd expand those bonuses, too--give a range of +2 to +10 or even more. You want an immediate reward for the kids--positive reinforcement. (A +2 bonus is pretty crummy because the kid will only appreciate it about 10% of the time, thus I'd make it significantly higher.) Tell them expressly that you're changing some of the rules based on discussions with other people--after all, house rules are a major part of the game, right?

Be sure to plan ways for everyone to get some spotlight at the table. And be prepared to come up with some improvisational ways to give people spotlight, as some kids will naturally budge some of the others out, and not because they are malicious or anything. If a kid is smart enough to understand the value of sharing spotlight time and enabling other people to have a good time at the table, give that kid a huge something.

Aid another is always nice. Insist that they narrate how, though, before they can do so.

Where there are more than 3 choices, decide ahead of time. Like summon monster--make it only two monsters available at each level, at least for starters. Or with spells available--limit the choices down. Do this to focus their strategic choices, i.e. something that flies, or something that is tough and has a sense of smell.

Expect that many of your kids won't know certain vocabulary words so well, like "diplomacy" or "bluff."

Simple puzzles and riddles are good. It's okay if they're too easy, as the success can give momentum. You can set them up with several avenues to success.

More than combat, I'd be very careful about religion. I wouldn't do it. At all. Give the wizards and sorcerers healing spells. (Merlin had them, after all.) A druid is maybe okay, but personally I wouldn't even go that far. Don't give paladins a god--just have them be some virtuous knight of the realm.

Along that same line, I'd lay out some simple ground rules about the intent of the game. The game is about heroes, and you will reward them for being heroes and for teamwork (and then follow up on that with those bonuses).

Honesty is important to them, so I would roll in front of the screen where practicable--especially for enemy saving throws and things that don't hurt the PCs, or where there is no chance of death (2d6 damage and the character has 20 HPs). Fudging dice rolls in the interest of momentum at the table is required, though, of course. I would keep bleeding and death in the game, myself, as those are part of heroics and the basis of teamwork at the table.

Keep the enemies as monsters. Don't kill people, even bandits. Defend a town-type things are good, or save the princess from the wizard with goblin slaves. Grand, simple stories. Make sure everyone has stuff to do, although it doesn't always have to be awesome--so make sure there are some wands and such.

Selling points? Math. Probabilities. Using scarce resources. Puzzle solving. Teamwork. Vocabulary words. Talk up the probabilities at the table, and their choices. So much of this game orients on combat--that's where all the strategic and tactical decisions lie. There's very little strategy in skill rolls--you can only hand out bonuses for narration, and there's no strategic choice there. I would probably use another system myself, frankly, but I imagine Pathfinder is one you know and one you want to roll with, and that's cool.

These are my thoughts. I hope they're helpful in some way. there's more but this is all I can think of for now.


For common sense reasons, I don't think paper alone would work, but that's easily remedied. Roll the scroll around a wand (or equivalent doweling), affixing the scroll to the wand on the left-side of the scroll. Or write your scrolls on strips of wood. No problem with stiffness. Or what are the "reinforcing rods" doing anyway? They seem to do this perfectly as-is.

It's odd at first blush, but I think it works. And it makes sense in the D&D type world.


GnomePaladin wrote:

Stop describing it as "I swing at the dragon but I miss"

and Start describing it as . . . .

HP damage is difficult or clumsy to narrate--this system does not lend itself well to flavorful descriptions because of the binary nature of hps and because it scales to odd effect. And there is no taking advantage of terrain and so on in the mechanics.

You can work hard and narrate interesting combat descriptors, of course, but you're fighting the mechanics, not working with them. So I empathize with his frustration.


Corsair is rather weak, I think (and swimming in full plate is a lame image, and not very Conan-ish).

I don't know if you're thinking of Conan of the films or of the books--I'll assume the former. I think a fighter-type ma be a better match. I know, you're thinking Conan was called a barbarian--not so sophisticated. But he was also cunning in the films. I don't recall him losing control in some battle rage.

The Lore Warden wears light armor and can do some nifty tricks. And if you're in a small group--who will take the weapon proficiencies for the siege weapons? Engineering can be helpful for that. Or mobile fighter may be where you want to go.

Guide + Skirmisher is an excellent choice too.


Yes. I appreciated them for that very reason in Carrion Crown. Here I feel more . . . adrift.

Belle Mythix wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


If you miss the class/race breakdowns... let us know WHAT you miss from them that the new format doesn't do for you.

It helps the rookies/casual/occasional players and GMs.


Depends. In Carrion Crown, my cleric has barely had time to craft anything. We're in book 6, and the pace as you may know is rather frantic. Over the course of the previous five books, he did boost the fighter's sword from +1 to a +4 in bonuses, another weapon from +1 to +2, and one suit of armor from +0 to +1; he's also written one 5th level scroll and one 6th level scroll, and a bunch of level 1 and 2 scrolls. . . . But no more. He hasn't even had the opportunity to enchant his own shield, armor, or weapon.


cmastah wrote:
What I AM asking, is just how gamebreaking are they?

Depends on the stories. They could be totally game breaking, or they could be totally useless. Imagine our real-life justice system in the if we could detect alignment and force people to tell the truth. There's be a hell of a lot fewer lawyers and police in the world. We'd also likely have some great politicians instead of those in power now. Many fewer stories would appear in the news, there'd be a lot less drama--in short, there'd be a lot less for heroes to do.

If the stories in your game are about justice, politics, murder mysteries, and such--yeah, these spells could circumvent all the political mechanations amd clue gathering that are the basis of the stories. A whole campaign could be solved in one evening of play.

Now if the various players and DM all want to play fundamentally different kinds of games, then that's a bigger problem. And it sounds like that may be the case. There's no right or wrong here, fundamentally (although he doesn't sound like someone I would play with). Just it may not be a match.


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Gorbacz wrote:
D&D becomes fugly cumbersome past level 15 or so, making it more of a chore and less of a fast-paced action game.

Agreed. Encounter design and the plenitude of incredibly powerful magic options can make story design vacillate between the tedious, the uninteresting, and the impossible. The mechanics of a tactical challenge are super unwieldy. And we don't have elegant systems for stuff like wars. When we were 12, we could spend time on the bean counting and not much mind. Not so now.


wraithstrike wrote:
The feat clearly says you are incited to a certain action . . . .

Grapple, punch, etc. is all an attack action. You are reading something into the rule text that is not there. No wonder you're frustrated.


Dabbler wrote:
No, but it is implied because it makes you enraged. I don't know many enraged people who don't go all-out. Remember, though there is no Sense Motive check, there is no intelligence check, there is no Will save. You are Antagonized, then you become enraged and you move to the Antagonizer and attack. Do not pass 'Go', do not collect 200gp, do not reflect that this is a dumb thing to do.

So you think it's borked not because of anything that happened at the table, but because you read into it extra bits not in the RAW.

So, to return to my initial response to your challenge:

Dabbler wrote:
Some people will use this feat, but no-one seems willing to justify or defend it.

The justification is it's different, interesting, and creates a structured mechanic to social skills--otherwise horribly absent in the game. In the absence of a bad playtest example, different options are often nice in a system.

You may disagree, but we're at the very least in the realm of where reasonable minds can disagree. It's certainly not slam-dunk awful as you and others suggest: no one has even provided an example of where it screwed things up at a table with real dice and real players. You hypothesize some instances, though not when employing the rules as written. However, I can identify of many, many times that spells have caused substantial disappointment at a table and for adventure or encounter design. This feat? Nopers.

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