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Caedwyr's page

2,595 posts (2,597 including aliases). 5 reviews. 1 list. 1 wishlist. 1 alias.


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Here are the criteria I like to use when evaluating a new class:

First off, these questions should be asked for the major level ranges (feel free to modify slightly).

Journeyman: 1-5
Heroic: 6-10
Champion: 11-15
Demi-god: 16-20

And on to the questions:

Can the class contribute meaningfully in:

1. Combat - This includes level appropriate:

a. defenses against physical and magical attacks
b. offensive capability; or
c. a way of enhancing party members such that they would realistically choose to have you accompany them
d. ability to engage with the threats in the environments you can expect to be fighting in for that level.

2. Investigations/information gathering
3. Travel
4. Diplomacy/social interactions with other denizens of the world.
5. Economic (crafting, professions, bartering, or other wealth-generating activities).

The 5 areas don't all need to be filled, but the class should be able to participate or have decent options for participating or contributing meaningfully in all categories without crippling themselves in other categories.


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If you are looking for a full adventure path, then Way of the Wicked is one of the better ones (though not for heroes)

If you are looking for smaller adventures or short linked adventures, then you might want to check out the reviews here. There may also be some full APs here that I'm not aware of:

Endzeitgeist's reviews.

Make sure to click on the "older Entries" button at the bottom for more.

I'll let others mention their favourites


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So, first off, I mean, don't just report the results of how your group did, because that is going to have all the usual problems with luck/lack of luck with the dice, but instead look at each of the parts of the scenario/module that interact or can interact with the mechanics you are testing and report what the odds of success are whenever a dice roll is called for with the builds you are using. They should also report if the class is able to significantly participate in the check or if they cannot.

The testers should also report where the new mechanics allow them to interact with the story, places where the GM had to fudge things a little to make them fit (this can be great anecdotal data to help flesh out examples in ability descriptions or maybe add another example on a table of possible skill uses).

Other useful data points are going to be how much a class depends on the other group members, are there any large achilles heels in the class or blindspots and to what degree the class is able to offer something new to the box of tools used for problem solving.

This is a rough framework and I'm sure it can be refined to be much better at organizing the questions/data collection, but it should also help minimize the usual issues of playtesting where the developers get a lot of unbalanced or misleading data or just less useful data because there's the guy who can make the commoner shine or the guy who can make the greatest blending of flavour and mechanics ever seem to be boring.

As for the simulated part, that is there because to do the mechanics heavy part of this analysis, you don't really need other people present. You can look at the target AC, saving throws, skill checks, range of skills required in the module and compare them against the sample build being used for testing the class. But, by comparing it to published modules you are working from a comparable baseline and it puts it into the language of the developers rather than the theorycrafters. Using the module also helps calibrate the theorycrafting because it lets the theories be put to the test of an actual module and helps refine the models used in the theorycrafting.

This is basically a stream of consciousness description of what I was thinking, but it roughly lines up with the evaluation/playtesting method used by some reviewers

Endzeitgeist wrote:

Step 1: I read the pdf/book. If the content is no utter wreck, I take the content with me to my group. At this stage, I usually have a dry analysis (avg damage, utility, etc.) done. Here, I do have target values – if you can out-nova psionics or sorcerors, there’s an issue, for example.

Step 2: If we’re NOT playing my main campaign, each player chooses one of the classes to playtest. S/he generates a character. I then proceed to run these characters through a module I wanted to playtest. I do this mainly because I think that scenarios à la “class xyz fights dragon in vacuum” do not represent how a class actually plays. Such tests provide an inkling, yes, but that’s about it. (See nova-issues et al.) Also: What fun is playing e.g. a super-duper-damage class that can’t do anything but squishing foes?

Step 3: I compare how the class fared with my analysis and ask my players how they experienced the class, both the player of the class and the rest.

Step 4 (optional): If all players agree that a certain content might benefit the main campaign, it is added for further in-depth playtesting. So yeah, that’s about it.

Why do I prefer this type of tests? Take IG’s Ethermancer – looked complex on paper, math was very hard to do, all day casting -> wasn’t sold. In actual game-play, the class fared much better and proved to be actually a fun addition that did not steal the thunder of the other classes while still contributing. Now my main campaign actually has one of these guys as a PC. The actual “how does it play”-experience is most important for me.

The key for me, is if Paizo/the players can come up with some good modules to use as testing templates, then the people who like to do the step one theorycrafting can also delve into some deeper analysis and review of how the classes actually handle in a game, without having to get a group of friends together. It should help increase the highly relevant participation in the playtesting.

It would also let players test out the mechanics at a broader range of levels (this will depend heavily on the choice of level appropriate modules, no level 1 dungeon crawling at level 18) and avoid the issues where Paizo doesn't have the time, or planning needed to properly review the mechanics design at all level ranges in semi-real world settings.

Like I think I've mentioned upthread, from watching the playtests, I get the impression that most theorycrafting feedback is largely disregarded, especially when it gets more complex. By putting the feedback into the module format, it will hopefully help the players get their message to Paizo more clearly and lead to a more useful playtest for all. With proper testing methodology setup, it shouldn't really take the playertests all that much longer than a normal detailed theorycrafting post either.


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Instead of Full-Attacks, for combat I'd look at % chance of removing the target from being able to contribute to combat. You'd basically be looking at which side is able to reduce the other sides actions/round to zero first.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Aratrok wrote:
I demand that ...

I stopped reading at this point. There are, in fact, people in the world who are entitled to demand things of me.

Random nerds on an internet forum aren't normally in that select company.

If it rubs against your sensibilities, try substituting the word "insist" instead of demand and reading the entire post. It isn't as nefarious as you seem to be afraid.


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Vancian/Slot based casting is basically Yu-Gi-Oh. You have a deck of cards. You select your cards for the day, and then have a chance to spend those cards. You just have to hope that you've selected the correct set of cards for the challenges you encounter and that you have enough of each card. It's a conceptually interesting magic system, but not one that gets reflected in fantasy literature very often.


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Will McCardell wrote:
Hmm, I have the sneaking suspicion that Endzeitgeist likes this one.

I have no idea why you would say something like that. None at all.


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I've enjoyed Cerulean Seas and Amethyst: Renaissance.


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There's already a PFRPG compatible Warlock (different name though). In fact, Endzeitgeist (reviewer extraordinare) called the Ethermancer by Interjection Point Games "the best Warlock currently available for any d20 system". The previous link is for the Kickstarter to expand the existing content and bundle it together in a PFRPG Tome of Magic type collection, which would also feature the best version of the Truenamer, an awesome composer/music based class, and potentially an updated version of shadow magic. The individual reviews (and links to where you can purchase the pdfs) for the Ethermancer (warlock replacement) and it's first expansion are below

Ethermancer review
Ethermancer expansion material


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For explosive runes/symbol spells, it might be better to have an unused rune/symbol lock out that spell slot/use per day until it is either dismissed/dispelled or activated.


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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Artanthos wrote:
My experience with actual game play is the exact opposite.

And, interestingly, BOTH experiences are real ones. From which we could conclude:

(a) Only the people seeing the problem are right, and everyone else is lying. But I don't think you're lying, so we eliminate option "a."

(b) Only the people not seeing the problem are right, and everyone else is theorycrafting. Except that we're speaking from play experience, and posting links, and so on, so we know this option isn't correct, either.

(c) Some people have a problem and others don't experience it.

So, out of 3 possibilities, two are wrong. We look at the third one. It suggests that some people are doing something that prevents the problem, or else are refraining from doing other things, that lead to the problem. Things that we might, you know, write into the rules and disseminate to everyone, instead of keeping them a secret.

The advantage of following option 3, is it makes the game easier for new players to pick up and easier to GM as well, since you don't have to worry as much about hitting all sorts of landmines that experienced players and GMs know to avoid.


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Ssalarn wrote:
Kryzbyn wrote:
That's not worship. That's lip service.

Paladin's don't need to worship a deity, they're invested by the forces of Law and Good. That means the Paladin has to embody those ideals in word and thought. Given that the "real" Asmodeus is LE, the paladin needs to believe either that Asmodeus' tenants are ultimately good and he's largely misunderstood, have a basic misunderstanding or highly abridged understanding of what Asmodeus' tenants actually are, or be part of some splinter cell that seeks to redeem Asmodeus' evil by doing good works in his name and showing has his emphasis on law and order ultimately serves the greater benefit of existence.

The point is, a paladin who worships Asmodeus is probably not gaining his powers from Asmodeus, he's gaining them from his innate purity and he happens to also worship Asmodeus, which can be reconciled in a number of ways, the most obvious of which would be that he doesn't actually understand Asmodeus the same way that you and I, who can whip open Inner Sea Gods and read his write up, understand him.

You can also have a Paladin who views Asmodeus's job to be the tempter and jailer of those who are evil or who might do evil. Asmodeus isn't there to be a nice guy, but in the end he still wants the world to continue. Even with the bad parts of Asmodeus, an order of Paladins who worship him could still base their structure around the Lawful parts and basically play the good-cops who work towards a world that will not fall to the temptations of Asmodeus or be sent to him when they die. Asmodeus helps identify and draw the evil out so the Paladins can target them.

Sure, these are non-Golarion interpretations of the god and Paladins, but they seem consistent with how religions have been handled in the real world by worshippers (see Hinduism, Christianity, etc.) where aspects of a god or agents of a god are what would be considered evil in Pathfinder.


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I could see a paladin worshipping an evil god, while not falling. Basically, the Paladin would strive towards the Lawful Good interpretation of an evil deity's portfollio, while the god they worship is there to act as the jailkeeper/punisher for those who fail to live up to the ideals. This obviously wouldn't work for every evil deity, but you can totally set up a good cop/bad cop arrangement.

To use a real-world example, in some biblical writings/apocrypha Satan/Lucifer plays the role of the punisher and the one who tries to tempt those with evil tendencies.


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The Relluk entry on d20pfsrd.com produced one of my favourite fan responses. Quoted below:

Quote:

So we have a new race of steam-powered living constructs who look like stone tiki golems with Popeye arms and glowing crystals instead of heads, and operate out of a volcanic island which contains the crumbling ruins of the civilization which built them?

And they use a new mechanic for simulating armor that provides intriguing, useful bonuses that can encourage players to try out little-used kinds of armor by making them more effective?

And they're from the same people who created elf-ettins, living skeleton men, racist Cthulhu-slug-people, time-displaced Neanderthals who specialize in beating armored soldiers to death with beer steins and sharpened sticks, sentient bipedal caterpillars who evolve like Pokemon, and extradimensional anthrophile oozes that look like the Autons?

As a lifelong D&D enthusiast and fan of Silver Age comics, this is unimaginably beautiful. I feel like I'm gazing at documents from some strange parallel reality where all the writers for DC and Marvel decided to go work for Gary Gygax after the Bronze Age got going. Heck, half of this is occupying the same gloriously insane mental headspace as the sheet phantom.

I'm going to have to track down hard copies of all these books: Alluria Publishing has clearly proven themselves as the most perfect possible company to provide material for my homebrew campaign setting.


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Impressive review. Thanks as always Endzeitgeist.


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The thing I really miss from 3.5 is the Lightning Warrior class. It was a good wizard-like option for those players that don't want to have a familiar.


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@Set: Were you the one who proposed that different classes be able to get more out of weapon/armor enchants? I remember someone writing some in-character examples regarding a kid playing around with the parent's sword, the father showing the kid how he could light the sword on fire, and the mother (who was the owner of the sword and the higher level fighter) being able to wreath their entire body in flame and basically turn into a sword wielding fire elemental.

I've tried to find the post, but have had no luck to date.


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My request for all of the new classes in Pathfinder Unchained is that they all be able to contribute meaningfully in all areas of the game at all levels.

This would include

Social
Combat
Logistics/Travel
Investigation/Exploration

Obviously, some classes will be designed to be better in some areas than others, but it would be very nice to allow players to have a chance to participate (be the main person or be a helper) in overcoming challenges in all areas and not just be a load for their other party members to carry.

As I mentioned above, it is also important to make sure to extend the ability to participate across the entire level range and not just a narrow low-level range. Look for the challenges the players can be expected to encounter in each level range and then come up with thematically appropriate ways for each class to contribute to solving those problems. Otherwise, if you design the class first then every problem is going to end up looking like a nail and you may end up creating something that will result in the players sitting around waiting for a chance to contribute for whole swaths of the game.


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Basically, the traditional classes are more rooted in older western mythologies, whereas psionics are more rooted in eastern mythologies, 19th century Europe and America, or have been co-opted by the magic system (clairvoyant and prophetic powers).


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Talented Fighter?


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My issue with Reactionary is the following

The Dictionary wrote:


re·ac·tion·ar·y
rēˈakSHəˌnerē/

adjective: reactionary

1. (of a person or a set of views) opposing political or social liberalization or reform.
synonyms: right-wing, conservative, rightist, ultraconservative, traditionalist, conventional, old-fashioned, unprogressive; informal redneck
"a reactionary policy"
antonyms: progressive

noun: reactionary; plural noun: reactionaries

1. a reactionary person.
synonyms: right-winger, conservative, rightist;

None of these meanings have anything to do with a person with fast reflexes.


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Fighters are spellcasters?


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Yeah, I don't think it's a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but with the terminology being used for a powerful and popular (everyone likes the Blue Mage) ability of the arcanist, I'm guessing the question of enemy/ally and the consequences of how that is ruled on other parts of the game is going to come up more often in the next little while, and as such it's worthwhile considering what those implications might be.


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Here's a question, would an arcanist with Suffering Knowledge be able to take advantage of the ability if they were hit by an ally who was charmed by an enemy (but not known to the characters) who cast a spell on the arcanist? Why, or why not and is the answer to that question consistent with how enemies are determined elsewhere in the rules?


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Isn't there a build using Noble Scion that allows the player to have an arbitrarily large number of cohorts?


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Celanian wrote:
I'm not sure that the 50 pound weight limit for teleport should include a monster's normal gear. Look at some other Outsiders such as Star Archon. They wear large full plate and large heavy steel shield which is well above 50 pounds. I don't think the intent was that they couldn't teleport in their standard gear.

I think it is more likely that the designers forgot about that limitation when designing the creature and it's item loadout.


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While the summoner already has a lot of a "build your own class" nature to it, the mechanics have all sorts of exceptions from the normal way the rules work in other areas of the game. I'd be interested to see what you can create when working on the Talented system version of the class, and if you could make it mesh better with the general mechanics.

Similarly, I'd be interested to see what you have planned for the Paladin. I could see you potentially creating a holy knight that would cover the paladin, anti-paladin and other alignment based holy knight types all under the one umbrella. My first impression is that you could link certain powers to the codes of conduct, which would allow you to recreate the core classes using the talented system, but expand the class offerings somewhat and make them less linear in nature.


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I love the artwork. It is very reminiscent of that classic bit of comic books artwork Spiderwoman in space!


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So, what you are saying is that germ warfare might be fairly effective against the abyss and hell.


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The issue I think you probably ran into, and I've run into as well when doing some homebrew, is how various different parts of the rules interact with each other, often in contradictory ways. In this case, I'd suggest that whole chunks of the system would need to get rewritten in order for things to work clearly. After that work is done, it'd be much easier to write new mechanics. A good example of this is the simplifications and reorganization done for the Beginners Box set.

The flip side of this situation, is: Should you write a new mechanic if writing it to do what you want requires lots of qualifiers and a large amount of text? Or is that an area you should shy away from because of the complexity, confusion and difficulty in writing a clean mechanic that won't conflict with other mechanics and cause problems for the readers.

I just wanted to point out that cleaning up the entire rulebook is more likely to shorten the text rather than lengthen the text as Dr.Deth was suggesting. If you rewrite everything in isolation, then of course you'd have a massive and confusing tome, but I don't know why you'd want to take that approach.


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Tirisfal wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
As such, we have all sorts of ships in the world, and work to remain consistent when we've said one place that a given ship is a frigate that it's always a frigate.
Paizo has been willing to retcon material before. Don't be afraid to do so when, as here, the idea that frigates (as we know them) exist on Golarion is nonsense.
Old people flinging balls of fire from their fingertips at flying, ice breathing lizards is also nonsense, but we get along with that just fine ;)

The thing is, the suspension of disbelief breaks down when people in the game world do not behave socially or intellectually the way people in the real world behave. For example, why build a style of ship designed to maximize the offensive power and defsnsive power of cannons (or even particular types of cannons) if those cannons or another form of offense does not fill the same role? Why would people waste their time constructing a type of ship that costs a bunch extra and makes a bunch of other design concessions to a feature that is not included?

The "nonsense" as you call it, is not the inclusion of the old people flinging balls of fire or ice breathing flying lizards, it's how the people of the world react or fail to react in a sensical way to these inclusions in the game world.


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As a follow-up, I am really really enjoying reading this. The organization is much better than the previous version and the simplification of many mechanics makes it much easier to play. The skill system is something that really can be ported directly into pretty much any Pathfinder game for a general overall upgrade in both useability and balance.


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houstonderek wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Does no one but me actually use Microsoft Office? I hadn't realized I was missing the boat.

You have to pay for it nowadays, I think. So, a lot of people are just running Libre Office and Open Office, since they're free and do everything Windows Office does. Libre just doesn't play well on non-Linux machines, I think because Microsoft REALLY hates the Linux programs (I run Ubuntu on a seven year old laptop and my machine is faster than any new laptop running Windows 8), since they're faster, more stable and are FREE.

Edit: Kirth, the reason you've used Office in three jobs is because most companies just get Windows because they know just about everyone has used it at one time or another and it saves money in training. Most computer people don't use Windows or run a partitioned hard drive with a Windows shell so they can use sites with Silverlight and whatever soundcloud/Spotify uses for DRM.

The other issue, is unless you can find a copy of Office 2007 or 2010 you are stuck with Office 365 which you can only rent from Microsoft, not purchase. That drives a lot of people towards programs like Open Office and Libre Office.


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DrDeth wrote:
MrSin wrote:

[

DrDeth wrote:
not a nasty scalpel wielding animal torturer.
Good thing the vivisectionist doesn't actually require you to torture animals or wield scalpels or be a nasty person. Too bad people think it does...

Yeah, that flavor text put in there for the roleplayers does get in the way sometimes, doesn't it?

"Unlike a chirurgeon, a vivisectionist's goals are not related to healing, but rather to experimentation and knowledge that most people would consider evil."

Of course, one can ignore flavor text. Or not.

Confirming that Butters from the Dresden Files books is one of the most evil, eviliest evildoers that ever did evil.


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Marthkus wrote:
Alexandros Satorum wrote:
It is a good time to ask for that high skilled vanilla fihter who can out DPR any barbarian, is not behind in HP and whose saving thorws are high enough,. Perhaps 20 PB, level 10, standard WBL, two traits.

Optimized barbar?

Not possible.

Although not even a ranger competes in those areas and the paladin would lose out too.

He comes with a +10 skill bonus to hair stylist.


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One of the nice things about Pathfinder 3pp is the Endzeitgeist.com resource. Hundreds of high quality critical reviews by a reviewer that uses the entire review scale. The reviews are in depth and explain the what and why behind the conclusion and score. It makes it much much easier to sort the wheat from the chaff and lets the consumer know exactly what they are getting. There's lots of great stuff out there and it has never been easier to find all the best of the best. I'd suggest that it's actually easier to figure out what are the best 3pp products than it is to find out what are the best Paizo products as there are no reviewers who consistently provide the same breadth and quality of reviews for the Paizo products.


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Remember folks; "the load" is a role in the party that can be played.


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For me, bloat is the publishing of non-options. Basically stuff that you will never want to take because the opportunity cost of taking it is too high and you wouldn't even want to take the material if you were hyper specializing in one area.


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Play experiences are used to determine the framework for your model.
Math is used to analyze the play experiences via the model.
Play experiences are then compared against the model to see if the model can be used to explain the play experiences.

If you want to check if the mathematical underpinnings of a system have issues, it is probably best to use math and theorycrafting. There can be lots of problems in how this is applied, most having to do with the design of the model and the assumptions used to construct it.

If you want to determine the impact on the flow and nature of gameplay, game experiences are what is important. There can be lots of problems in how this is applied, most having to do with assumptions made and biases in the participants.


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Most items are not politically active and do not make any objections to political change. My take on this is you'd need some sort of intelligent magic item, though the backstory would need to take into account why the particular magic item has strong opinions one way or another against rapid/radical social changes.


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I know there's been a few things that have given rise to doubt, but I'm surprised how widespread the belief seems to be that Paizo's writers are incapable of writing a clear and consistent mechanic, as shown in this thread.


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The world as per the spells and capabilities of characters/npcs does not match the world as typically presented by world builders. Any issues are generally glossed over with half-hearted justifications.


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Regarding the Talented classes, how would you categorize them, if not calling them full classes? I agree that they are a redo of the core classes, but they are at least at the level of an alternate class. Note that a bunch of Super Genius Games credited classes are now Rogue Genius Games classes.

Also, here are a few more:

Aquanaut - Alluria Publishing
Greater Familiar - Skirmisher Publishing
Angler - Alluria Publishing
Kahuna - Alluria Publishing
Mariner - Alluria Publishing
Siren - Alluria Publishing
Angakkuq - Alluria Publishing
Front Grounder - Dias Ex Machnia
Heavy Grounder - Dias Ex Machina
Marshal - Dias Ex Machina
Mechanic - Dias Ex Machina
Operator - Dias Ex Machina
Medic - Dias Ex Machina
Stalker - Dias Ex Machina
Gunslinger - Dias Ex Machina
Sniper - Dias Ex Machina
Vanguard - Dias Ex Machina
Gunslinger - Alvena Publishing
Death Knight - Rogue Genius Games
Luckbringer - Rite Publishing
Mushakemono - Rite Publishing
Bone-Breaker - Rite Publishing
Hishoken - Rite Publishing


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One thing I've always wondered about, is what is the the checklist designers go through when sitting down and doing the initial prototyping and concept level design, prior to putting actual mechanics down. I always figured it would be something like the following, but I am beginning to suspect that they might be following another procedure.

Caedwyr's imagined design procedure wrote:
  • Step 1. Identify niche/concept you want a class to cover.
  • Step 2. Ask yourself if this niche is sufficiently broad to warrant a new class, does it cover something players might want to play, and can the existing system and style of game promoted by the rules leave it as a viable niche.
  • Step 3. Review other classes/existing material to see if this is a niche that has already been covered, and if so, does it add anything to the game to add another option.
  • Step 4. Identify what range of activities you want the class to be doing in combat situations. Make sure you cover the different level ranges and the assumptions/style of game changes that occur over the different level ranges. Do you want the class to always be doing the same type of things, or do you want the class to shift focus as they go up in level?
  • Step 5. Identify what range of activities you want the class to be doing in a social situation. Make sure you cover the different level ranges and the assumptions/style of game changes that occur over the level ranges...
  • Step 6. Identify what other non-combat activities you want the class to be doing over the different level ranges.
  • Step 7. Review combat, social, and other non-combat areas to make sure you have provided ways for players of the class to contribute to suitable degrees in each area at all levels. Some areas may have more than others, but you want to be sure to have at least some way to participate in this different areas of the game or else the phone games come out and players start to tune out.


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I believe Ashiel has made the case in the past that if you are going to restrict a new player to a more martial class, you are better off using the Ranger instead of the Fighter. The Ranger starts off as a functional martial with some direction as to what type of fighting they will want to do, adds some class features the player can customize in that direction, while still not ruining the ability to contribute if they make poor choices. It has a decent skill list and a fair number of skill points to spend on them, with some class-based support to their skills. Later on, it adds a lower powered companion and fairly simple, thematic spells, to provide an introduction to those parts of the game. After playing a Ranger, the new player has been slowly introduced to a wide range of the different areas of the game, but not all at once. They are also easier to build a functioning character with low levels of system mastery than something like a Fighter.


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So, if there are two rules and one rule creates something that fits the CR guidelines, while the other produces nonsensical results, choose the second? That seems like blindly following the wrong set of rules because you saw someone else doing it rather than using a bit of common sense.


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This looks like an incredible hidden gem. Thanks for the review Endzeitgeist. This one took me completely by surprise.

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