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The only reason it has no in-world reason is that the player has not chosen to assign one.
I remember when AD&D went from 1st Edition to 2nd Edition. The game system suddenly didn't allow assassins, and bards were just as suddenly no longer members of a fighter/ranger/druid prestige class. And yet, TSR built an in-world explanation.
I've had characters affected by these decisions before; as one example, my first character changed from a fighter to a summoner when the campaign converted from D&D 3.5 to Pathfinder. A couple year's later, my dhampyr Undead Lord had his archetype pulled out from under him. In each case, I came up with an in-world justification for the character's shift.
In this case, I don't see why the change has to be entirely out-of-character. The PC was intending to join whatever organization teaches the skills of Mystic Theurgy, and his application was put on hold, pending a broader mastery of the disciplines involved.
The example you posit strikes me as exciting, ridiculous or not. What happened to the ability to learn 3d-level spells?? Why are sorcerers and arcanists able to advance, but not wizards? That would be an intriguing campaign.
Why is this decision (to cut off some characters, instead of grandfathering everyone in) necessary? What is the drawback, you ask? The drawback is that every single character in the campaign could claim that he or she was at some point working towards an early-entry Prestige Class. The rule would simply not apply, at all, to the organized play campaign.
pH unbalanced wrote:
I know of three cities in the upper midwest where dozens of players ran through "The Confirmation" or "First Steps 1" with an aasimar / tiefling. Nobody considered it cheating or shenanigans.
for the sake of perspective, loads of people played their Lantern Lodge and Shadow Lodge characters through the respective retirement scenarios before the season end / deadline, and nobody considered that to be shenanigans. Years ago, lots of people ran their PCs through the announced-to-be-retired Season 0 scenarios, before the deadline, and they weren't accused of cheating, either.
I run PFS a lot, and so I have a little spiel that I use to explain the Take 10 rules to players.
"Pretend that Taking 10 were much more common, that rolling while out of combat was unusual, and look at a Bomb Disposal agent. There are bombs she knows how to defuse, and does so all the time, and there are bombs that are above her paygrade. Then let's imagine rolling her Disable Device check. That's like saying "Let's cut the red wire. That's often a good idea. Let's see if it works here." It might allow her to defuse much more complicated bombs, or it might not. It might dispose of bombs she would disable with a methodical procedure, or it might be a really bad idea.
"Taking 10, people climb ropes they can climb, and there are some situation under which they can't. Rolling, in that case, is thinking "I've seen circus acrobats try to climb rope. They fling their legs out in front of them and climb hand-over-hand really fast. I'll try that." And you might succeed, and climb pretty fast and look slick doing it. Or you might roll low and fall on your butt. And your friends are calling down "Quit screwing around and climb the damn rope." But you can't take 10 if you're trying to climb out of a well and there are ogre children at the top, throwing rocks down at you."
Emerald Spire is a module, not a scenario, and wasn't written with Pathfinder Society as its primary venue. For modules, the Guide instructs GMs to run them as written, even if that violates some standard PFS-campaign rules.
For example, if you run Society characters through the "Ruby Phoenix Tournament" module, use the rules for Performance Combat, even though they aren't used in regular, scenario play. And yes, if you're running something like "From Shore to Sea," use the random encounter tables, even though regular scenarios don't have wandering monsters. That's part of the environment for that sort of module.
Emerald Spire has notes on scaling up to 6 players. Use them.
If access to all the bells and whistles of the robust Pathfinder environment is making the adventure too easy, have you considered running it in Core Mode?
If I were running this in an adventure, I'd want to introduce it first through a possessed thrall, maybe a traveling companion or a merchant buying exotic wares. The thrall gets attacked, and as he drops dead, his eyes pull themselves out from his body and flee to safety.
Eventually, the party can run into the monster itself, and they'll be wary about eyes. (Do magic items in the eyes / goggles slot offer any protection against critters gouging your eyes out? I'd think so.)
And ever afterwards, the GM can give the party a good scare. "There's a horse tied up outside the inn, with ... 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14 unusually human-looking eyes."
As an aside, the players in my home campaign liked the idea of a competitor organization, but hated the name "Aspis Consortium." They thought the name, well, sounded like loose bowels. I don't know any nicer way to put it. I still kept those scenarios in play, but we just called them "The Consortium".
Me, I remember the old ant-folk, yes. And I'm wondering if, at the top of the Consortium, we find out that the bosses are indeed formic.
Sorry. Just an aside there. Back to evil.
Replying to what I wrote:
Do you think you could shove some more straw in this post? First, I think you are imputing malice where there is none. Second, the players you are describing are the exact same problem players who play "detect evil murder paladins" that spend the session berating the rogue PC; it's not the alignment, it's the player.
That's fine. We already have those players in this campaign, BO, and a licence for evil will bring in even more. You're imagining some characters who are "evil, but honorable" like Scorpius or Ra's Al Ghul or Magneto or something. No, we already have those kinds of characters in the campaign. What we will get, with "evil PC" is "really evil PCs."
It's not a strawman at all.
We got to see a lot last night -- background on Dottie, and how she works; some humanizing of the SSR team, and some good detective work for Souza -- but what we really got was Carter, in her element, playing to her strengths.
It strikes me that we meet Carter at the beginning of the show just as she agrees to compromise herself with Howard Stark, and that cripples her as an effective agent. She's either emotionally torn between her duties, or she deliberately sabotages her team and herself in defense of Stark. This episode, she has her priorities clear and her skills unfettered. If this is how she was normally going about her duties, before Stark compromised her, it's a wonder she wasn't running the agency.
So, why the coded message? None of the other messages from Leviathan to his operative were in Russian, nor coded. We assume this Russian boondoggle was a trap? Leviathan was expecting the SSR? That didn't seem to be the case.
A question has cropped up on another thread.
Liam the GM is not interested in playing in Core Mode, but he's willing to run games in Core Mode for his friends.
In March, Liam runs 5 different scenarios in Core Mode and registers the GM credit Chronicles to a new character. In April, he runs a game in Standard Mode and applies the GM credit Chronicle to the same character.
Liam now comes to a table with his new GM baby. By our understanding, that's now a 3rd-level Standard character. So if his PC were a Human fighter, it could have a teamwork feat (a non-core element) that he selected as the character's 3rd-level feat.
The question is whether or not his PC could have a non-core Trait, or for that matter be a Tengu alchemist, since those options would have had to have been selected at 1st level, which would have prevented more Core Mode chronicles from being applied to the character.
If you'd asked my opinion, I would have said that we don't track GM-credit baby characters from hypothetical level to level, and that coming to the table with any sort of Standard Mode character would be okay, but this is new territory.
Your local GMs' arguments don't hold water. GMing a Core Mode game earns them Core GM credits, that's correct, but any Core Mode character can be converted immediately into a Standard Mode character, just by sitting at a Standard Mode table or taking any non-Core elements.
So they can GM Core Mode, apply all that GM credit to a Core PC, and immediately play it as a Standard Mode character.
Their disinterest in playing a Core Mode PC is groundless.
In general, I agree with you. 95% of the suggestions that this or that should be added to the Core ruleset, I'd agree should be left out.
But that's not to say that the current restriction level is perfect. A more robust set of traits strikes me as the same sort of thing as regional languages. It's a part of the setting environment that should be available in Core Mode.
Why? Because when the PFS rules began at the beginning of Season 1, there were already race traits through the Elves of Golarion book. Likewise, religion traits were already intended. The Traits document updated the original traits from the fourth AP into the PFS ruleset, but didn't reprint the ones from race books, perhaps because the race series was still in production.
We don't need a full suite of trait options, but then we don't need traits at all. The better question is: would the Core Mode environment benefit from a more robust set of traits? I would like to see the Traits Document expanded to include two or three race traits for each of the seven core races and one or two religion traits for each of the Big 20 gods.
I'll tell you right now: a lot of GMs will complain about people who build powerful characters, or people who play silly characters, or folks that make gunslingers / summoners / whatever.
None of that bothers me. I love all those sorts of players.
What gets old is the attitude that "catching players" (like players who "don't notice" a '1' on a fireball save, or a gun misfire, or who won't mark off ammunition or wand charges, or a spell with an illegal target, or who take an extra 5' of movement, or run an animal companion like an eidolon, or ...
They won't press the issue. If I ask them, they'll grin, and say, oh, yeah, that's right. But that means I can't relax and just get into character, or pay attention to how I can make sure they have a good time. Instead, I'm paying attention to dice, and stats, and spell lists, and all that.
And it's this attitude, that the rules are "the GM's job", rather than the communal job of all the people at the table. It's exhausting.
You're right, N N 959. When players help keep one another legal and honest, it really is a completely different social dynamic. One I appreciate.
I don't understand how you can quote a rule, and then turn around and interpret it exactly opposite.
At my table: if a free action requires a roll, a PC can only make that roll once a round. Make other free actions, sure.
The topic of this thread is the Core Mode and how it changes the organized play environment. Undone, you and David don't like druids in D&D 3.5 / the Pathfinder RPG. You think animal companions are too powerful, either by the rules of the game, or else because GMs don't follow the rules of the game. In particular, you don't like a particular animal companion, bolstered by two particular spells, after 7th level.
We get that.
This seems to be an issue that you have with the Pathfinder ruleset in general. It has nothing particular to do with Pathfinder Society Organized Play, let alone the changes to the OP environment brought on by Core Mode. (If you think druids are well balanced in Normal Mode these days, but they were overpowered in Season 1, then I guess we know which mode you'll be looking to play. If you think druids are a problem in both modes, then that discussion is even further off-topic.)
So, are people inviting friends to "come back to Pathfinder Society" and focusing on Core Mode?
You can't have a single leftover point. It's impossible to spend 19 points on attributes in such a way that you can't spend another.
If I audit a character and find that the player only spent (to use a real example) 5 points on attributes, I'm not going to make him continue to play that crippled a character. As a matter of fact, I won't let him continue to play with a 5-point-buy PC. I will have the player spend his attribute points, before he sits at another table, and bring the character up to snuff. I would imagine that any GM would do the same.
And I would suggest that if a player deliberately holds 5 attribute points "in reserve" so that he can spend them at some later time, that is not kosher.
We make people buy feats for their characters when their character earns them. We make characters take hit points and skill ranks when they level.
At least at my table, I apply the same rule to attribute points. A character with a 10-point-buy attribute array is no more legal than a character with 18 XP but only 2 feats.
I am hoping that this thread can catalogue the special cases and odd one-off rules for Core Mode. I am hoping that the posts here will contain, for the most part, questions from the player base, and replies from the Venture Officers and campaign leadership.
In particular, I'm asking that any questions or replies that start creating chains of entries on their own, be pulled out into their own threads.
It's the internet, I know, and these are Paizo's boards, I know, and I'm a naive goob, I know. But, if I can ask you, individually a favor, would you let someone else break that request first?
Some modules are tricky.
Can we assign a playing of "We Be Goblins" to a Core character?
What pre-gens can we use for "Risen from the Sands"?
Wizards can copy spells from one another's spellbooks into their own. If my Core Mode PC has a non-core spell (from a Chronicle), can another PC copy that spell and use it?
I am willing to bet that, if the introduction of CORE mode were to have substantial negative impact on PFS, the campaign management will (a) notice and (b) try to fix the solution.
Remember when we jumped from 0 replays to 5 (one chronicle per faction)? Remember when the requirements for 5-star GM status went from "4 stars and we like you" to something terrible and onerous? Those changes to the campaign didn't work, and the campaign leadership corrected the issues. On the other hand, there have been changes to the campaign, like full gold on a GM Credit chronicle, and people playing their real PCs at their regular experience levels for modules, that have worked out nicely.
Can those of us wringing our hands and tearing our faction t-shirt garments right now give this project at least a little chance to work? It may not be perfect, especially at first, but it sounds to me like there are more up-sides than down-sides*. And if not, I trust Mike, John, and the VCs to see what corrections need to be made.
(And I'm kind of groovin' with the idea of a half-orc barbarian / stalwart defender...)
* I have seen, with my own eyes, a half-dozen examples of a new player coming to the local game-day table with a solid, Core-only PC, who watched as a couple of other players with an enormous number of resources and system mastery left the new player's PC in the dust. Core Mode levels that playing field and encourages those players to come back the next week.
You're a cool guy, and I like a lot of the times where you weigh in on a thread. You're smart, and your posts are well-reasoned.
But there are a couple of topics where your experiences are very different from other people's. In your neck of the woods, druids treat their animal companions as disposable class features, and the GMs all are okay with that.
That's not my experience at all. Nor Scott's. Nor deusvult's. Nor the experience of others on this thread. Druids don't act like that, and if they did, the GMs would enforce alignment penalties.
You've admitted that you "hate" animal companions. I'd like to suggest that you talk to your local Venture Captain about this situation. You're obviously bothered by the way certain GMs and certain players are playing the game, and your VC might have some advice.
EDIT: You've expressed your frustration in the general PFS threads as well. I don't think this is unique to CORE mode, and I'd advise us to move this over to a different thread, rather than derail this one further.
I would recommend that GMs take particular care in running CORE mode games. Please double-check that everything is legal in that environment. If, halfway through the last encounter, you realize that a PC has inadvertently taken a feat or a character option ("my gnome rogues always take Taunt. What do you mean, it's not in the CRB?") then it's potentially a mess.
(For example, a GM under those circumstances might rule that the character is legal, but not CORE, so the session isn't CORE. Particularly if she used Taunt earlier in the session, without the GM realizing it, and that helped the party during an encounter.)
Let's say I attend a convention, and play / GM some standard mode PFS, and some CORE Mode PFS.
When I play a standard PFS adventure, I might get a boon. I should attach that boon to a legal Standard Mode PFS character.
When I play a CORE adventure, I might get a boon. I should attach that boon to a legal CORE Mode PFS character.
If I get a boon for attendance, or for buying books, or for anything else that isn't linked to a scenario play, can I apply that boon to a CORE Mode PFS character?
NN 959, I suspect that you would be upset in my GMing style. I allow for bonuses and penalties, sometimes substantial, based on situations not covered in the rules, when appropriate. (And in the end, I'm the one who decides what's appropriate.)
Golarion is a world with magic and gods and treants, but it's also a world with sewers and horses and rope and rainwater. And, unless something is called out as being specifically alien to real-world physics (Dragons can fly; lightning bolt spells behave as described) then things behave the way they do in the real world. Without some way to clean up, people who've been fighting in hip-deep sewer effluvium aren't presentable to a decent couple living in a cottage, let alone a guild master or seneschal.
In almost all these "common sense" cases, the rules are silent precisely because rules are unnecessary. We need a rule to explain how the defending property works on magic weapons, because we have no reasonable way to fall back on how real-world magic swords behave. The rulebook for a fantasy game spends just about all its time describing the rules for the fantasy elements.
If that's going to bother you, if you're going to call it BS and disrupt the table, I'll see you at social time after the tables are run and the games are played.
Well, the blurb about the adventure strongly hints that this is going to be a dress-up mission. If you decide to send your 6th-level feral barbarian instead of your 4th-level diplo-sorcerer (or the pre-gen bard), then there you go. You've chosen to play a character who's not optimized for this sort of adventure. How entertained you can be is your problem.
The time to do that was back in town, not once you're already in the mountains.
You know, there's a lot of hand-waving, getting characters to and from the adventure locations. (At the end of "Rescue at Azlant Ridge", the party needs to get back from the heart of the jungle, having been teleported in, with no maps of the area.) (The "Quest for Perfection" series takes place on the other side of the world. If PCs are playing other adventures in between, it could mean that they walk across the Crown of the World -- a trek that takes months, and was the subject of its own AP module -- six times.)
And even if a GM were to enforce rations to get you to the adventure, there would be opportunities along the way to buy them, just as the OP gave the characters opportunities to buy cold weather gear. If the PCs continually refused to buy food for the journey, or have the cleric use magic to obtain food, then yes, they would all die.
I don't see that as relevant to this discussion at all.
Galahad, you have asserted this before. I believe you are mistaken, but I'd be glad to be corrected.
I have in the past "booted" players because they were polite and friendly, but neither they nor I could read their character sheet. Once, I allowed a player to sit at my table with a character sheet drawn up on a collection of scraps of paper, but that was a mistake. (So, BNW, if somebody were to sit at my table with all the important information scrawled on napkins, he would not be welcome. But there's a table over there with some lovely pre-gens.)
I don't believe that a novice GM needs to have the breadth and scope of Society-legal play in her comfort zone, and she's within her rights to say "I just don't understand how [say] Summoners and Eidolons work, and I don't feel comfortable trying to take a crash course in that right now. I am not prepared to give you a good PFS experience." And when I organize game days or conventions, I am ready to move players with "advanced" builds to GMs with a skill set better able to handle them.
Generally speaking, I'm the same way. I'd have to fumble around to tell you why my paladin has an AC of 28. But my Magus, with the AC of 37? That I have all broken down and ready to explain. (The same thing with the paladin's Intimidate of +25.)
The spectacular stuff, that's what I'm talking about.
So, let me ask:
Overall, what we want is a "clean" campaign, right? We want people to own the books they use, and bring the additional resources they need to the table. We want people to be playing legal characters, with the math correct and all the modifiers factored in.
And we want to be welcoming and fun. We don't want to put any unnecessary barriers in the way of players, and we want the game mechanics to be as simple and understandable as we can make them.
Lastly, we want this to be a "big tent" campaign. There are many different play-styles, and we want to welcome all sorts of players, from the folks who've scoured the legal resources to build a mechanically twinked-out super-monk, to the folks who just like to role-play and roll dice when they have to, but aren't interested in the math behind some of their stats.
Am I missing anything? Would anyone dispute that these are reasonable goals?
Some of these goals are in conflict if you push one or another too hard. We want people to understand how their PCs CMB is being calculated, but we don't want to kick out the casual players who don't want to learn all those rules.
Having said that, it seems to me that we can serve our campaign's goals by (a) allowing tools like HeroLab, to catch missing modifiers and calculation errors, (b) still requiring the players to own all their additional resources, and (c) inviting players to explain their twinked-out stats when appropriate.
So, when I'm running a high-tier game, I'll ask my players about their characters' game mechanics all the time. "You have an attack bonus of +18? Super cool! How did you pull that off?" "An Intimidate bonus of +25? Sounds like something my paladin could use. Could you walk me through that?" It's important to me that I ask more often than I need to, because I don't want to appear as if I'm threatening the players when I ask. This shouldn't be accusatory: "Oh yeah?! Show me!"
Almost all the time, the player will smile, and explain how he came up with a damage bonus of +30, or an armor class of 52. And I'll be listening to the explanation, checking to see that everything squares, that he's not trying to stack two different armor bonuses or something.
If the player doesn't know, I'll ask him to explain. Maybe a friend builds his characters for him. Maybe he misunderstands a rule (lots of folks import rules from other game systems they know, like 4th Edition). Maybe he is basing his build off of a messageboard post he found on the Web. Or maybe, it's HeroLab. And so we'll walk through the math as quickly as possible. It's not that I don't trust the player; it's that we need to know what happens to a PC's armor class if she gets blinded, or if she's hit with black tentacles.
First of all, welcome. It's great to have you in the campaign, and I look forward to sitting at a table with you.
Second, everybody's chimed in with good answers: start at 1st level, and after every three adventures, your character will rise 1 experience level.
I'm going to assume that, with the library you've already assembled, you know enough about the Pathfinder game system to play the type of character you enjoy. As long as it's legal, do what makes you happy.
And I'll amend Tuna Salad's caution: bring either watermarked copies of the relevant pages from the pdfs, or bring the physical books with you. Your table GM might not be as familiar with all the cool things your character can do, and you'll need to supply reference materials for her.
And hey, would you do me a favor? After your first two or three sessions in Pathfinder Society, would you drop back here and let us know how it's going for you? What scenarios did you play, what were the fun parts, what questions you still have? All that?
Walter, I concur. (I've run the entire series once, after parts 2 and 3 were retired, for friends who wanted to see what they were like, and who didn't care about the PFS credit.) I think that Part 2 is one of the best dungeon delves in the ouvre.
"Master of the Fallen Fortress" is another one of my favorite adventures.
For PFS I start by asserting that the PCs are *not* Pathfinders yet. They're all hopeful applicants at the gates of the Grand Lodge, having come from Desna knows where. And they all get rejected. (I play this out: "Tell us who you are, and where you come from, and why you want to be a Pathfinder agent." "All right. And you (pointing to another player) explain why he gets rejected."
So, they're sitting in a bar in the Coins district, trying to figure out where they should go from here. (The Aspis Consortium might be hiring ....) When there's a tremor. Five minutes later, a fellow in a hap-hazard guards uniform comes in, asking if anybody's seen guard captain Antaroth. Seems that one of the formerly-sealed siege towers has partially collapsed, and the guard needs to secure it by morning.
And the PCs always take the bait and light out, hoping to prove themselves to the Society by exploring the tower.
So, when they rescue the bard at the end, and return to Absalom, their admission into the Society is the resolution of an arc.
I provide everything they should know in character from the monster type (and subtype) and then I relate, in character, things that the PCs would know, starting with "everybody knows" and going down to "a senior pathfinder agent ran into one of these once and said ... "
Because, given a troll, knowing that it regenerates from most damage, but not fire, is a bigger deal than which are the critter's good saves.
I disagree, Avatar-1, in both particulars. The "reward creative solutions" doesn't apply. The PCs who go straight for the end room don't do anything clever to avoid a combat; they don't know one exists.
For example, some treasures are hidden, and there's a Perception DC to locate them. If the party searches, and doesn't meet the DC, they don't get the treasure. Are you suggesting that a party that doesn't even bother to look around should get the reward?
The 3 encounters rule doesn't require the players to die.
I agree with DrParty 06; if the party goes straight for the end chamber, solves the situation, and never explores the rest of the museum, they don't get the full rewards. (But, Crazy Alchemist, the scenario doesn't necessarily end when the big bad guys go down, either. There's nothing to keep the PCs from looking in the other rooms after the fact.)
In both cases, the archetype reduces the effects of Smite Evil, weakening it. In each case, the archetype then enjoys other benefits as compensation. It seems that you want to apply that reduction once but enjoy both of the compensatory powers.
(And I'm suggesting that we move this out of the PFS forums.)