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Thanks for the copy of the compiled Anachronistic Adventures. I'd purchased a number of the individual pdfs that went into this compilation and the complimentary copy of the compiled version makes me happy with my early purchases.
Also, did any of the Anachronistic Adventures design/concepts get used in the recent Vigilante playtest and accompanying book? Looking through Anachronistic Adventures again, I saw a fair bit of conceptual overlap.
If I get the time, I'll put a review up. The short version is, this is a quality product with decent subsystems and I can recommend it for use in all sorts of games. The classes can be made to work in more traditional dragons and knights games with a bit of reflavouring.
Congratulations Richard. I'm glad to hear that so many people have picked this up. All of the 4 Dollar Dungeons sound like excellent adventures and I will check them out when I am in a position to run a game again.
For new players coming into the game, it might be a good idea to include some text in there indicating why they are evil or what type of evil acts are required or even typically required for the transformation into a lich. Right now other than being spooky there isn't really anything called out in the Bestiary entry that sounds intrinsically evil. Not even the insert the soul into an item, since there are other examples of not-intrinsically evil ways of putting a soul into an item.
I've looked up the 2nd edition entry on liches and it had some extra lines explaining the evil things required to become a lich. Not all players have that background and as such it shouldn't be surprising to see people asking "why exactly is this evil based on the information provided." Without rationale for something being good or evil, the labels become substitutable with Team Green and Team Purple.
James Jacobs wrote:
As an amusing corollary to this with respect to being dead not preventing a player from taking actions, is that the Great Beyond's section on the life-cycle of a soul presents some good evidence that a player could be allowed to take actions for what their soul does/experiences while traveling from their location to Pharsma's realm via the astral realm.
There's some interesting games that could start with a TPK instead of the group meeting in a tavern.
For your reincarnation scenario, what about the situation where a person has been reincarnated (which gives them a new body as per the spell). Can a person then animate dead on the old body?
I actually wasn't thinking about the Deathless and non-open content (which I didn't know about, since I came to D&D around the time of the Pathfinder Alpha), but instead was referring to things like the morality of creating Golems vs undead and the various inconsistencies pointed out in Tactic Lion's and Ashiel's very long posts.
Anyways, thanks for the responses and the peek behind the screen.
I think the answer is much simpler. Paizo chose to make a thematic decision on how undead would be treated in their setting, but didn't take a thorough look through all the game rules/mechanics/flavour outside of the areas that were immediately obvious to them and thus we are left with the contradictory mishmash of rules and flavour. If I were the one in charge and had made the decision, I'd probably want to track down those contradictions and make them consistent, or write in some wriggle-room to help explain away the contradictions. There's all sorts of fun interactions between setting neutral material and setting specific, and since these interactions can have significant metaphysical and moral implications, it'd probably be great to have all of the areas where the Golarion setting differs from the setting netural material highlighted and discussed. Maybe in the intro section on Golarion so it is up front and visible to those coming to the setting. They could even go into greater nuance in sections Pharsma or some other Alignment/Death/Undeath related topic.
James Jacobs wrote:
Sure, but previous designers also included non-evil undead and Paizo has gone on to change most of them to be always evil in Golarion. This isn't levied as a criticism of the game, setting, or designers. I'm truly curious about the behind-the-scenes decision-making process.
From what you've posted, it sounds like the always-evil undead position was something that had stronger internal proponents of the concept and the issues around Golems/elemental souls or other areas were not topics that received as much attention or had people arguing as strongly for.
James Jacobs wrote:
As written, yeah, creating golems should be an evil act. I would prefer instead to revise them away from using soul enslavement to power them up, frankly... but it is what it is. House Rule as you wish.
So, for the obvious follow-up question, why Flavour errata in one case (making all published undead options evil), but not for the other (golems should not use enslaved elemental souls/creating a golem should be evil)?
Huh, always thought it was 'baited'
Nope, bated comes from the word abated, which means "lessened or diminished or held". So waiting with bated breath, means "temporarily holding one's breath or breathing shallowly while waiting"
The Songbird of Doom: A Guide to a most unlikely tank and Mechanism of Mass Destruction (Warning: GMs will hate you)
Makes sense in a twisted sort of way.
Incidentally, if Paizo ever decides to do a cleanup of their rules language, this would be a great spot to look. One should not have to look at unrelated feats for the "normal" text to see how a mechanic operates. Also, if feats can normally only be selected once, it should probably say that in both the character building section and at the beginning of the feats section. Thirdly, if a feat was selected and a bonus feat replaces it at a higher level, the player should be able to select a new feat to replace their old one (meeting all the per-requisites at the time the original one was selected). This would all make the game much more new player friendly and not substantially increase the power of the game for people who spend more time building their characters.
The Songbird of Doom: A Guide to a most unlikely tank and Mechanism of Mass Destruction (Warning: GMs will hate you)
I'm curious why the quoted text was included if you cannot select a feat more than once unless it specifically tells you so?
If a character has the same feat more than once, its benefits do not stack unless indicated otherwise in the description.
If you can't select a feat multiple times, why include this text indicating it is a possible scenario?
This is what Owen Stephens did in the Anachronistic Adventures series of classes, which actually covers a lot of similar topics/thematic space as the vigilante in addition to a wide range of additional concepts.
A game mechanic is not automatically a "bad idea" just because someone can bend an extreme corner interpretation of the RAW text to get a result that's clearly spelled out as not intended in the context of the whole.
Or if it is an entirely valid interpretation of of the text as written that a new player could read and not realize that Paizo meant something entirely different.
Since the discussion has turned more to the game design, I figured it might be useful to repost some observations/rants I made in another thread from the perspective of someone who started playing D&D around the time of Pathfinder's Alpha and how newbie unfriendly the game actually is if you don't have someone more experienced doing the heavy lifting of introducing the game to you.
And a follow-up comment:
And a final follow-up
So, the long and the short of it is, the game is hard enough to get into for new players given the size of the rulebook and the organization. On top of that, you have to deal with loads of traps and additional work to balance the game and keep things from falling apart. This is extra hard when your whole group is completely new to the game and doesn't know all the "obvious" things to do to balance the game. Rules are written with little to no wording standardization and a review of the forum thread/FAQ shows that something might be intended to work or not when the meaning appears to be the same, but the wording is just slightly different. All of this together means that a new GM is going to be overwhelmed quickly and they will spend most of their time dealing with balancing/rule issues and not acting as the creative person helming the game.
Chris Lambertz wrote:
Thanks, I'll try to send something later.
Mark actually did some great community engagement in the ACG errata threads right after they came out. I noticed that the tone in the threads was much calmer and more accepting of some of the changes after Mark explained the reasoning behind them.
It's okay. He gets a free pass at such things.
These two are pretty much exactly the Gentleman's agreement that Kirth is talking about. The response to the GM saying "if you do X, then NPCs will do X" in a balanced rule set should be "sure, I expect as much", not "oh no, now the game will be ruined". Pathfinder doesn't stand up to NPC casters making full use of their capabilities, and hence the system of Gentleman agreements referenced earlier in the thread.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Ever watched a movie and said "well, why don't they just do X obvious solution to their problem?" That's the problem with the APs. The game gives you a set of abilities and capabilities and most APs can't deal with what the game provides when someone with even a modicum of problem solving skills and no blinders/gentleman agreements. In which place, why are we playing this imagination game when the rules are heavy, inconsistent and can't even tell the story you want to tell without lots of unwritten assumptions. It wouldn't be so bad if the developers explicitly called out stuff that won't work or things that will need to be removed to work, but it is very rare that they take that step. Even more irritatingly, they will frequently act as though the problem doesn't exist, or it is some sort of personal failing on the player's part if such a problem arises.
Like I ranted above, this makes the game very new player unfriendly and presents an unwelcoming old-boy's club for the community of players who play the game.
To the second point first. I like imagination games. They are a lot of fun. However, one of the pitfalls that comes up in these games, is without a proper framework you end up having to rely on the personal balancing skill of the Teamaster/GM rather than allowing the Teamaster/GM to provide scenarios and in-world responses to the player's actions. It makes for a huge burden on the GM, and makes it extremely daunting for a new group. Our original plan was for rotating GMs, but all of the gentleman agreements and balancing the game offloads onto the GM means that people without a strong sense of balance and understanding of how the game functions cannot do the GM role. Or they feel extra stressed out. This has the unfortunate effect of in our situation preventing some of the more creative people from feeling like they can participate in the GM role and makes the GM role feel more like work. The GM has to spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on balancing the game mechanics and fixing problems from the game rules rather than spending that time on crafting cool scenarios and characters. In other game systems (board games, CPRGS, card games) the rules are well understood and following the rules is the responsibility of the entire group.
One attraction of TTRPGs is the freedom to do things that the rules/computers don't anticipate and having a GM there to adjudicate. The problem is how frequently it isn't something that arises for an odd edge case or corner case, but fundamental aspects of the game design.
I want to be able to be inspired by a movie or a story and to have a game framework that lets me play out an alternate storyline in one of those settings with a group of friends. What I have gotten instead is a system that requires almost as much work on the part of the GM in balancing everything rather than just spending their time with helping the story along and coming up with awesome plot twists as the GM works through what might be happening out of the eyes of the players.
The thing is, Kirthfinder is a great example of how a lot of the problems can be cleared up. Rule language can be harmonized and more universal mechanics/wordings can be used. This means that players only need to learn things once and keeps the complexity and confusion over rules down. All classes can be built on the same power curve and have the same opportunity to parcipate in all parts of the story throughout their careers. Creating a multi-class character concept, or a character concept that draws from a diverse range of talents can be done without punishing the player (greater freedom of imagination!). The issues I have with Kirthfinder is that it is probably way to dense in options for a good game for beginners and there are still issues with how it is organized (since it was based on the CRB organization structure). There's also missing pieces where it refers to the CRB. It also means that if I play it, I'm limited to a small group of personal friends and I can't go out and expect others to know how to play it.
I've looked at other game systems like Gurps, D&D4th Ed, D&D5th Ed and a few others, but they are either too rule heavy and fiddly with pointless minutae that bog things down, or are too restrictive in their structure or limiting in the imagination and stories you can effectively tell. Or they have as bad or worse balance/role viability issues.
This really makes the game difficult to pick up and I've had a number of people who expressed interest in trying out the game give up on it because in their words "the game isn't even remotely balanced and I'd rather not waste my time on such a flawed system". Of course, this typically means we end up not playing and TTRPG and so I'm left disappointed we can't play the game together. That said, I'm pretty sympathetic to this point of view. Part of the fun in playing with a mechanical system and not a game of imagination is being able to find cool combinations and being inspired by the system. Part of the appeal of a system like D&D or Pathfinder is the breadth of the system and all the different character archetypes you can potentially create. That the game doesn't actually live up to what it claims it does leaves a pretty bad taste in the mouth.
Also, the other thing that drove my group up the wall was the very poor consistency in rules language. This is a game, not an imagination book. Games have their own structures and rules language. Pathfinder and D&D in general appear to have been written with almost no effort to creating consistent language for rules. It's like every time someone comes up with an idea, they just write up some new rules for it rather than looking to see if something similar has already been done. It reminds me of the old "engineer designed programs" which have an extra toggle switch, an extra menu option, or an extra entry field instead of trying to create any sort of unified UI or any sort of design pass to make sure they aren't duplicating a function in a way that is 99% the same.
Sorry for the rant, but as a newer player who has tried but failed to pick up the game several times, the denials that the game rules are unfriendly to new players (and not just the length) really looks like the old boys club sticking their head in the sand.
This rant also ignores the atrocious layout/organization of the books, which make sense for someone who has been playing for 20 years, but not so much for a new player. The beginner's box made an attempt to clean things up, but good luck having a chance of picking up the game without lots of mistakes if you try to switch to the CRB.
If you are wondering what type of narrative powers and out of combat powers you can give to a Fighter, here are some examples of the themes (maybe not the exact mechanics) from Rogue Genius Game's Warlord class
Hard March (Ex): The war master can keep his allies focused on moving forward with alacrity, using careful planning to reduce the breaks required, directing a group’s scouts to find the best route through terrain, and ensuring assistance is given to anyone at risk of falling behind. As a result the war master and his allies (to a maximum of 20 people per war master level) double their miles per hour of overland speed. The group may still hustle or use a forced march to further increase their speed or time traveled, but suffers the normal penalties for doing so.
Perspicacity (Ex): This talent represents the war master’s mastery of studying details, and using them to draw a conclusion about the bigger picture. The war master may use his Perception bonus in place of his Appraise or Sense Motive bonus whenever making an Appraise or Sense Motive check.
Sphere of Influence (Ex): A war master with this talent has learned how to maximize his efforts within a certain class of skills. The war master gains a +1 bonus to all skill and ability checks based on a single ability score selected when this talent is taken. If the war master is 10th level or higher, this bonus increases to +2. This talent may be selected more than once. A different ability score must be selected each time the talent is taken.
Parley (Ex): The art of trying to reach a truce of some kind with foes is represented by the parley talent. With this talent, a war master can make a special Diplomacy check as a full round action with hostile, unfriendly or indifferent NPCs to attempt to convince them to agree to a temporary cessation of hostilities. This can be attempted in combat, even against foes wishing the war master or his allies immediate harm. The DC for this special check is the same as the DC for improving the attitude of an NPC (see Diplomacy for more information.) A successful check convinces a foe to stop attempting to harm the war master and his allies for 1d4 rounds, as long as the war master and his allies do nothing to improve their situation (or at least aren’t caught doing anything). Thus neither the war master nor his allies may heal, move to better positions, cast spells, or ready equipment during the parley. In most cases if the war master and his allies don’t offer concessions to a hostile foe, violence is renewed (even if negotiations seem to be going well) after the 1d4 rounds of parley.
You can also request a copy of the updated rules in the Kirthfinder thread and someone will probably send you one. The Beta rules are pretty good, but there's been a lot of cleaning up done for the later versions, especially the organization.
There was a discussion on how one would develop a backdrop economy (or different types of economies for the players to interact with at different game tiers) back during the Alpha discussions.
Wrecan summarizes how it might be implemented on the second page here
Kirthfinder takes some of what was discussed there and manages to make the game mechanics and magic item rules work alright for that simulation of the game world
Note that you need to request a copy of the latest version of Kirthfinder. The ones in the opening post are several years out of date.
My favourite take on Charisma is as follows:
"Charisma: Charisma strictly represents confidence, presence, and force of personality (physical attractiveness is governed by the optional Comeliness attribute; see below). It is therefore analogous to the Willpower attribute from the old Victory Games rules. To reflect this, the Charisma modifier, rather than the Wisdom modifier, applies to Will saves against compulsions, fear, etc. You also apply your Charisma modifier to certain uses of Hero Points (see below). These uses provide a disincentive for everyone other than bards and sorcerers to always make Charisma their lowest attribute.
Social skill is dictated by your bonuses in Bluff and Diplomacy—with your personal confidence and magnetism (Cha) providing a modifier, rather than dictating your baseline. People with low Charisma are typically unsure of themselves, lack presence, and are often ignored. Characters with high charisma scores are heeded; they are leaders, rather than followers.
A character with a Charisma of 1 has insufficient ego to exert executive autonomy; he or she acts as if charmed by everyone he or she interacts with. A character with a Charisma of 0 is dominated, likewise.
How Wisdom and Charisma Interact: A character with a high wisdom (awareness and caution) and low Charisma (confidence and force of personality) is likely to be timid and overly-paranoid about “getting in trouble.” His or her warnings will often be ignored by companions.
Conversely, a character with low Wisdom and high Charisma is likely to be egocentric and careless, assuming that things will “somehow work out.” He can be bold and reckless, like Douglas Fairbanks’ Robin Hood, but he or she will also often need to be rescued by companions, and may, in the worst case, have a tendency to treat others as tools.
A character with high scores in both stats is like Hammett’s Sam Spade―ruthless, domineering, guileful, and always with a backup plan or two."
Yeah, the high level characters are mostly in the Silmarillion. The old school elves were pretty hardcore in what they did and Pathfinder doesn't do that great of a job replicating their feats.
The Quenta Silmarillion in fact was rejected by a publisher for being "obscure and too Celtic", and the power level in these stories would fit in fine with many other Celtic myth cycles.
I'm looking at the fabricate spell more closely, and I'm wondering actually what limits are placed on what can be targeted with the spell. The spell appears to target a mass of material equal to 10 cu ft/level (or 1 cu ft/level if a mineral, which I'm not sure if uses the real-world definition of mineral or uses an undefined game version), but doesn't say that the mass of material cannot be part of another object already, except that it cannot be a creature or magic item. This makes me think that a caster could just walk up to the adamantine doors, and unless they were a magical item, just cast fabricate on the doors to create themselves some weapons or simple to make items as well as remove the doors as an obstacle. They can also potentially do that to walls, floors, ceilings, and many other potential obstacles. Aside from GM fiat, does anyone see anything in the rules/mechanics that would prevent this? Or, is this just another capability that comes online once level 5 spells become available and the types of obstacles that cease to be for parties with a member able to cast these spells?
Monica Marlowe wrote:
I ended up finding the information in the Monster Roles section. Like most of the books, the organization leaves a lot to be desired and important information such as this can easily be missed.
What is causing the extreme crushing pressures? If you are swimming in it near surface, you'd be exposed to close to atmospheric pressure or hydrostatic pressures similar to what you'd encounter in water. If you are swimming down a volcanic pipe to great depths in the planet, then the crushing pressures would come up.
I'm with Lemmy here. I like lots of options and have purchased lots of Paizo material and oodles of 3pp options (shoutout to Interjection Games, Rogue Genius Games, Aluria Publishing, and many others). What I object to are the inclusion of non-options or poorly balanced options that won't be used by either the GMs or players due to their mechanical failings and being options that either get passed over every time due to the opportunity cost of selecting that option, or have a disruptive effect on the game out of scale of what another option with a similar opportunity cost might have.
I always welcome more quality product that makes me want to introduce it to my game. I'd prefer it if the books were shorter rather than including more filler, uninspiring, or non-options.