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You couldn't activate all the candles yourself in time, but your 163 followers +cohort could each gate-burn one. That'd give you enough of a head start on the power curve to get it done.
There are essentially 2 methods. 1) stopping the nukes, 2) protecting the targets.
1) 15,000 nukes / 30 rounds = 500 nukes per round. Impossible under given parameters. About as close as you could get would be if you had max Leadership, 163 followers +1 cohort, all of a race with flight and rings of telekinesis. You spend all your rounds teleporting them into low orbit to use their rings of telekinesis to kinetic kill the nukes and hope fratricide will destroy more than one nuke per follower per round. Problematic because 3 minutes remaining means that the nukes are way close to detonation, therefore more dispersed geographically, so fratricide is less likely. Also fallout would prob still wipe out all life, it'd just take longer.
2) 15,000 nukes with MIRV warheads = 15k x ?? targets. Also impossible.
But tbh reacting to a worst case scenario is not how wizards operate. Preventing it is. The earlier you can prevent, the easier it is. For instance, the followers-with-rings-of-telekinesis kinetic kill tactic works much better if you can hit them at launch, thus destroying the other nukes that haven't yet been launched from each launch site. Also less problem with fallout in that case because launch sites tend to be fairly remote, afaik. Even easier if you can get them before launch; it doesn't take much imagination to see how something as simple as charm person in the right place could prevent the whole mess.
Orfamay Quest wrote:
It's true that PF and its D&D forebears were grounded in JC (and, as I called out upthread, Aristotelean) concept of evil as a perversion of good.
It's also true that PF is equally grounded in classical and Norse mythology, and, e.g., Moorcock, which represent a much more dualistic view of good and evil.
This tension is evident in the alignment system. Because culturally we are more intuitively familiar with the tropes of the JC concept of evil (easy temptation, difficult redemption), we find certain aspects of the dualistic alignment system... perhaps unsatisfying? Insufficient? Counterintuitive? Bottom line, they cut against some fundamental cultural assumptions.
Nonetheless, dualism (especially as a corollary of polytheism) makes for great heroic fantasy. Good vs. evil, the stuff of legend. Adventuring isn't interesting if you know the side of the angels always wins in the end, right?
IMO, I find the game most satisfying under an approach that combines the two. Start with the core dualistic approach, and all it entails, but deal with alignment changes based on the JC approach. You can have angels enlisting bold heroes to fight against the demons, and also Faustian temptations and diabolical bargains. This approach is possible under the rules because they are mostly silent on the topic of alignment changes.
It has to do with the CR system. For a bruiser type monster, having a lower BAB allows it to have a higher STR score for the same expected to-hit value, meaning it also has higher damage. Having a smaller hit die allows it to have a higher Con for the same hp value, which also increases Fort saves. If you had full BAB and larger hit die, you'd need lower STR and CON scores, which would drive down your damage per hit and Fort saves. Take a look at Table: Monster Statistics by CR and it will make more sense.
I think the discombobulation over aligned spells comes from the basically Aristotelean and Judeo-Christian idea of evil as a deviation from good, rather than a thing with its own independent existence. PF evil is the latter because PF alignment is a dualistic system. So you have this common trope of the moral temptation of power that is modelled quite well by casting evil spells being an evil act. But it seems counterintuitive that casting good spells would tempt you to the side of good, because culturally we tend to see good as what you get tempted away from, not toward. Evil is easy. Good is hard.
Kobold Cleaver: I submit that the very high standard Superman who would rather die than kill Zod isn't good at all, if not killing Zod means Zod is going to go kill other people. That's squeamishness, not good. It's an example of the fluffy Hollywood morality like "if you don't do what I say their deaths will be on your hands" and the hero actually morally agrees with that preposterous statement.
One man's homebrew is another man's RPGSS or Wayfinder entry.
I used to homebrew more, but as I've grown older and more involved in my professions, I have less time to do so. That's why I mainly do APs and PFS. The quality is there and it's pre-packaged, so it cuts down on how much I need to come up with on my own. Even so, when running (or playing!) an AP, I'll usually come up with some of my own content, even if it's just a magic item or spell. Or I'll come up with some mechanic to fill a hole in the rules.
I am a little leery of homebrew races, because a race implies that somewhere in the game world there's a bunch of these people running around and somehow you've never heard of them until just now. It's not impossible to fit a homebrew race into an existing world, but it does take some shoehorning; sometimes I'm willing to do that and other times not so much.
Garrett Guillotte wrote:
I'd dig it. Maybe even narrow it a step further, to Armies of the Inner Sea, with four-page sections on 10 or so nations and their forces, and an appendix of Golarion-flavored class and rules options that shine in kingdom building and mass combat. Hell, eight pages on whatever's going on between Molthune and Nirmathas would make it worth it for me.
See my articles in Wayfinder #11 and the upcoming Wayfinder #15 for 4-page entries for Cheliax (in #11) and the River Kingdoms (in #15).
I'll keep writing them as long as Tim keeps printing them!
My dream freelance assignment would be to collaborate with Brandon Hodge on a book full of Golarion armies, including both Mass Combat rules stat blocks and troop subtype stat blocks for various nations' forces.
Being decapitated still kills you, even if you instantly get a replacement head (and it's not at all clear from the cheetah flips you want the spell text to do that it actually can make a phantom head).
You are decapitated and die > contingency triggers > instantaneously casts phantom limb.
You are decapitated > contingency triggers > instantaneously casts phantom limb > you would die but don't.
Because die happens at the same time as decapitated.
The technique I use is to paste the image into Powerpoint, turn on the grid, and scale the map squares to it. Once you get the image sized right, you:1. crop to the edges of the slide
2. copy the slide
3. move the cropped image to the edge of the slide
I like the idea of a tie-in to the summer hardcover. So for this summer's Ultimate Intrigue, why not a city-based intrigue type adventure? Obviously nothing too in depth due to the short time limit, but certainly you could do a short murder mystery, or stop the king's assassination type scenario. Those always have good opportunities for skills and roleplay, and if you design them well, enough combat.
It may go without saying, but low level--nothing higher than 3--works best for Free RPG Day adventures. Players have enough on their hands learning the basics of the game without having to learn mid-level class abilities.
And Free RPG Day should be, if anything, easier than normal. Risen From the Sands was way beyond the appropriate level of difficulty.
Depends on your perspective. I was an artilleryman, so my job was to shoot the enemy from far enough away that they couldn't shoot back. If they were shooting back, I wasn't doing my job well enough. Hitting something you can't see with indirect fire is enough of a challenge that I always found it pretty interesting.
For sure, RPG fights are usually more fun if the odds are a little closer. But of course, some RPG fights are extremely lopsided when one side has some overwhelming tactical advantage like flight. You don't want that all the time, but it's not always bad. Season to taste, I suppose.
But the idea that good guys are supposed to fight "fair," when "fair" means letting the bad guys get their licks in, is an extremely naive view of life or death combat.
Boomerang Nebula, a great deal of warfare centers on putting yourself in a position such that you can destroy the enemy without them being able to destroy you back. There's nothing evil or dishonorable about that unless you are a total pacifist. In fact, there's a term for exactly the idea we're discussing--the ability to attack the enemy from the air when the enemy has no ability to attack your aircraft. It's called air supremacy, and most modern nations will not send in ground forces unless they have it.
This is a matter of personal preference, but I like a game in which flight doesn't become an option until much higher level. But that isn't this game.
Crane Wing was nerfed because people complained that it allowed you easily to beat any enemy that had only one attack.
Flight is much worse. It allows you easily to beat any enemy that can't fly and doesn't have ranged attacks.
Likelihood of fly getting changed? Zero. It's too tied into legacy. But it's definitely pushing the boundary of too good for 5th level.
I'm with you. You can pick and choose what you want to use in your games. There are two conditions where it's more of an issue. 1) Organized play, where if you are GMing and not running Core, players may show up with some weird thing you don't know about, because there's so much out there it's impossible to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every feat, archetype, alchemical item, etc. This is mitigated by the Core campaign and the rule that players must have source material on hand. 2) If you are GMing for a player that insists you allow any player option. This is an extremely common sentiment among players, especially on these boards.
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you are a fairly new or inexperienced GM. That's not a bad thing--in fact, it's a great thing, because we need more people to step up and GM. But you may have bitten off more than you can chew with high level play. I would guess that your campaign either started at higher levels or that your PCs have leveled up quickly. They might also be over WBL, using a high point buy or a generous stat rolling method, or be using some other high power rules like mythic. Or there might be more than 5-6 players. Any of this sound familiar?
The issue is the game gets difficult to balance and run at higher levels. The CR system breaks down. PCs outgrow their limitations, gaining formidable offenses and defenses.
1. Every fight feels like a boss fight.
As for worrying about them having enough XP to face the CR 21 boss, if they're easily beating CR19s, don't worry about it. They'll be fine, and if they aren't fine, well, that's what raise dead is for.
2. I need to be constantly reminded of PC abilities.
3. I announce things but not all players hear me, sometimes no one hears me and they deny I ever said it, making me question if I said it at all.
4. I forget abilities of my own monsters.
5. I hide all of my rolls, sometimes I roll for a PC and they don't like it.
6. I'm too slow.
7. If I create my own monster, or create my own ability they feel cheated.
In conclusion, sounds like you are suffering from high-level-itis. High level play is not completely untenable, but it is more difficult to manage. I would recommend starting back at level 1 after this campaign is finished, and using a medium or slow XP track so you don't rocket to the high levels so fast. That gives you more time to get acquainted with and adjust to the increasing power levels of both your PCs and monsters.
Unfortunately, I had to skip most of the Gallowspire fights. But they are well-built enough to stand on their own.
I did revamp the ravener fight--added the giant simple template so I could use the Gargantuan ravener Battles mini for it. My best recommendation for all of Adorak is to remember and enforce the windstorm-level wind effects. They have zero impact on the ravener and the nightwings due to their size, and zero impact on the incorporeal undead because they're incorporeal, but the winds severely hamper PC ranged attacks and flight.
My wife's PC died in Renchurch. She was a life oracle. I had the haunt that she turned into basically do a reverse life link. It established a life link with one PC each round, and every round siphoned 5 hp from every linked PC. It became a race to do more positive energy damage to the haunt than she could recover as her ability to recover hp increased with every life link she established.
I love the soul haunting effect--what a great, thematic way to ramp up the difficulty and tension in what should by rights be a seriously deadly location.
Yeah, but so many people get confused about 20s and 1s on skill checks, I like to spell it out in house rules even though it's actually a book rule.
Bastard Spears: Spears (not longspears) can be used 1-handed as a martial weapon.
Critical Successes and Failures: For skill and ability checks, a roll of 20 is not an automatic success and a roll of 1 is not an automatic failure. If you roll a natural 20, it counts as if you had rolled a 30 on the d20. If you roll a natural 1, it counts as if you had rolled a -10.
It's important to use protection. Death ward.
Grigori Rasputin CR 17
----- Defense -----
----- Offense -----
----- Tactics -----
----- Statistics -----
----- Special Abilities -----
Cassock of the Black Monk
I can't wait to do this for the boss from Shadows of Gallowspire :)
There are PFS sanctioned modules at all levels of play, although there are so few in the 15 and above levels that there's a very narrow path to 20. Wardens of the Reborn Forge goes from 12 to 16 if you play it as a Seeker arc; what I'd like to see is a similar sanctioned high level module that takes you from 16 to 20.
Spoilers abound below.
I have GMed Shadows of Gallowspire and played in Crown of Fangs and The Empty Throne, though the last was highly modified from the original so I feel I can't accurately judge it.
Of those, I would rank them: 1) Shadows of Gallowspire, 2) Crown of Fangs, and 3) The Empty Throne.
Shadows of Gallowspire is a textbook high-level adventure. IMO, the key to high level design is not to negate the PCs crazy abilities that would break lower level adventures, but rather, to make those crazy abilities the entry requirement for the high level adventure. In other words, without the PCs and their superheroic powers, the plot doesn't advance. It makes those abilities meaningful, and therefore rewarding. Gallowspire hits this pitch perfect. The witchgate networks don't let the PCs bypass all the travel encounters by teleporting; oh no, they ensure the PCs hit the encounters (unless they use wind walk or some other clever PC trick). Renchurch is a great high-level dungeon, with plenty of atmospherics, lich widgets, effective and thematic haunts and traps, and hard encounters that make sense given the "dungeon ecology." Gallowspire and its environs, particularly the Marrowgarth fight in the ruins in the mortuary tempest, is one of the best encounters in the AP. My only beef with Gallowspire is that the published Adivion is, relatively speaking, a chump--nowhere near as difficult as some of the encounters leading up to him. And he should be stupid hard--which he is in Brandon's unpublished encounter notes, which he has courteously posted here in the forums.
Crown of Fangs was good--I liked the sandboxy approach to Castle Korvosa. I liked the Sorshen tie-in of the Sunken Queen--Ileosa drawing on the power of her spiritual predecessor--but the location itself seemed to fall flat.
I'd have to say, however, that my favorite "Chapter 6" is actually Chapters 11 and 12 of the Savage Tide AP. Ch 11, Enemies of My Enemy, brings together some of the most iconic NPCs in Greyhawk/Planescape lore, and the PCs have broad options as to how they accomplish their overall goal. And they really need all the resources at their 20th-level disposal to pull it off. Ch 12 pulls out all the stops with a full out invasion of the Abyss and a boss fight against, literally, the BAMFinest BAMF in the Fiend Folio.
I will say that dungeon crawls are super hard to design for high level characters without negating their abilities by some unbelievable contrivance. Bad design: you can't teleport because it breaks the dungeon. Better design: you can't teleport because plot reasons. Great design: you need to teleport (or burn some other high level resource) to beat this adventure. For instance, in Renchurch, you have no hope of resting there and no hope of finishing it without rest. There's just too many encounters. So the ability to use magic to bug out to a safe resting place somehow effectively says, you can't play here unless you are this tall. Even when Brandon negates some PC abilities by fiat, e.g. the ability to just fly to the top of Gallowspire, he does in in an amazing way (a storm of waves of incorporeal undead? yeah I buy that and it's AWESOME). Similarly, STAP Chs 11/12 just give you an epic problem, some external resources, and step back and say "you're 20th level, figure it out."
About your specific points: trap CR does not scale well past around 8 or 9. Most high level traps are a couple of wand of CLW charges and that's it. Traps that inflict other status effects are good, particularly if they're guarded by something hungry. Haunts seem to scale better, but if you're not in Renchurch they can be overdone. Monsters with class levels are harder to run, but I feel they're a good way to breathe new life into old critters... although if you're 16th level fighting ogres, it's not quite as awesome as fighting actual CR 16 monsters with no class levels, because you could kill ogres at level 2. It doesn't matter so much that these are SUPER ogres. They make good mooks, but what's more memorable, a fight with 6 ogre fighter 8s or a single nightwalker?
Sorry, Jim, you did get an essay. I passionately enjoy high level play but it is harder to design for, and I've done a lot of thinking about how to make high level play more tenable. Hope this is useful if you've waded through it.