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Part of my objection to using established Golarion / PFS NPCs as PCs is philosophical.
It's not a question of wrecking somebody else's game. It's a question of: I don't think someone should try to turn Torch, or Baron Jacquo Dalsine, or Drendle Dreng, or any other established NPC into their own character. Play Dreng's nephew, or one of Torch's half-orc guards, or Dalsine's body-double stand in. Likewise, I've seen PCs who are Baltwin's orphans, or one of the aasimar acolytes from inside the Hao-Jin tapestry. That builds the campaign's flavor into the PC's background without conscripting a memorable NPC for the player's private use.
in the "Year of the Shadow Lodge" special, the bad guy used a magical widget to break himself into dozens of duplicates, each of different power and experience. I'm assuming that the same thing happened with the popular iconics.
In a world with clone, simulacra, doppelgangers, mirrors of opposition, and so on, I would find it easy to believe in Thomas Riker.
Frankly, it sounds like useful playtest experience, but it doesn't sound like PFS sessions.
"Campaign mode" is a way for AP volumes and long modules to earn play credit for PFS characters. Maybe there could be an analogous "Playtest mode" where players make up higher-level versions of playtest-class characters, run them through their paces, report, and get PFS rewards. It almost directly embodies the oath: "Cooperate (with Paizo developers)! Explore! Report!"
loosef, without getting into too many details, the demiplane was an abandoned headquarters of cultists dedicated to a particular Runelord. It was designed to keep out intruders, but not all the encounters were combat. In fact, more of them were puzzles and traps. They rewarded a lot of different skills, and also allowed intelligent players to shine.
I was GMing a Tier 3-4 table that happened to do very well. They actually had a lot of fun, while working as a great team.
One site discussed the difference between the CGI of the pre-quels versus the physical effects in TFA. The snapshot of the X-wings flying over the lake, with the mountains in the background, has such weight and physicality to them, as opposed to the ships and droids in the pre-quels, which seemed mass-less, and only cast shadows because someone decided that it would be better if they did.
Last year, at a convention, I was running a table of 11th-level PCs through "Siege of the Diamond City". As we were waiting for the event to start, I asked to see the PCs' Chronicle sheets. One player explained, "I never keep those. Am I supposed to?"
Yep, you are. And that table over there is where you can pick up a lovely 7th-level pre-gen.
He actually started crying. If any single GM from his previous 30 games would have asked to see his Chronicles, we could have avoided that scene.
Most of the chronicles for the newer modules have a sort of clever gimmick, or at least a boon that's well worth the trouble. I'm guessing that the campaign leadership is trying to come up with such a cool thing with these Chronicle sheets. And my response is: if it's not working, I'd rather have a sanctioned module with a pedestrian Chronicle sheet soon, than something cooler and spiffier several months from now.
Or, everybody else is playing a notoriously difficult 3 - 7 scenario at the high sub-tier, and all you have is your 3th-level monk. (Or, just the same, everybody else has a 3rd-level PC, and your in-tier character is well beyond that, and would overshadow another PC to boot.)
Or your in-tier PC is a fighter, and the rest of the party are all martial characters without any healing capabilities. Are you going to play your fighter, or grab Kyra?
Or you're playing a paladin, and the GM has already announced that, due to the nature of the scenario, any paladin playing would fall. (Alternately, the GM has announced that he hates summoners, or gunslingers, and tries to cleanse the Society of them whenever he can.)*
Or your 7th-level character is one game away from leveling up, and you've already played Destiny of the Sands Parts I and II with her. You'd like to finish that trilogy with the same PC.
Similarly, you have an in-tier PC, but you reserve that character for when you're playing with your buddy, who plays your PC's spouse. And your buddy isn't at this convention.
Your character has just risen in level earlier this day. You'd like to give him a new feat from the Advanced Players Guide, but you don't have that resource at this con. You *could* give him a core rulebook feat and play him today, so you do have an in-tier character, but playing him now would mean compromising his progression.
I've even seen "I don't want to risk my real character" as a legitimate reason. Last spring, I saw two young players screwing around at a table, which got another character killed. They balked at chipping in to pay for his raise dead, but did so grudgingly. The other fellow then headed off to play Elven Entanglement. If the two idjits had also been intending to play that, I would have understood a decision to keep a high-level PC safe.
There are all sorts of good reasons that a player might decide to play a pre-gen instead of a legal PC in a scenario.** All of them boil down to: that person decided it would be better to play a pre-gen.
And Mike, players make decisions about which of their own in-tier PCs to play, all the time. We don't gainsay their choices based on whether it might result in mission failure or loss of gold. ("You're going to play your 2nd level samurai in this scenario? Don't you have a 5th-level barbarian, who could really whomp on things? Don't you want the party to succeed?") As long as people are having fun, I don't particularly care what character they're playing.
* And yeah, I've seen all three.
** There are also bad reasons for choosing to play a pre-gen.
Although all modules aren't written with PFS in mind, all Chronicle sheets are. The issue here isn't with what the level demands of the players, but rather with what the Chronicle sheet rewards.
The Chronicle could just as easily have advised the GM that PCs get full rewards for a peaceful interaction with the trogs.
Is there any room in a paladin's code for an honest difference of opinion? Is there any opportunity for innocent error? I'd like to think so.
A paladin strives for the goals of good: purity (as Pathfinder calls it) and fights against the call of evil (or corruption). The paladin's choice for tools in this struggle is law, and a paladin constrains herself with a common set of prohibitions: she shall not lie, she shall not use poison, etc.
That goal, that choice of tools, and that code still leave an awfully broad set of options.
Incidentally, Chalfon Dalsine is a known quantity. He's a disgraced Pathfinder, cousin to the Taldor-faction leader, and one of the richest and most powerful nobles in Taldor. Any decent Knowledge (local) roll should reveal that he's serious bad news, and likely corrupt -- although perhaps not the details of his alliance with faceless stalkers. Opposing him and his self-serving crusade against the Sarenrae cultists, and the Society itself, should be reasonable for any paladin. (Robin of Loxeley -- lawfully faithful to Richard, his rightful king -- was happy to fight against corrupt officials who'd themselves betrayed their lawful fealty.)
"Dalsine Affair" is a particularly difficult adventure to use: not because the party is doing something evil, or "chaotic", but rather because the scenario is such a railroad. I've run it several times, and note:
1) the Venture Captain is ridiculously panicked at the beginning of the scenario. The Porthmus militia force outside the shop only wants to bring him in for questioning, and he's willing to go. If the PCs attempt any negotiation with the captain of the militia (not a Diplomacy check, just questions like "What do you want?") they can defuse the situation. Likewise with enchantment spells. Or, if they think to cast silence before attacking, they can disable the militia without any alarm being called. In either case, the entire "get to the sewers and find the Vault of Sarenrae" mission is deflected or at least made less than urgent.
2) On their way to the Vault of Sarenrae, the cultists themselves open the door to the possibility that there's a traitor in their midst. It's perfectly reasonable for a PC paladin to scan each cultist for the taint of evil. Sincere worshippers of Sarenrae cannot radiate as evil. But the leader of the cultists in the Vault is a powerful Chaotic Evil monster, without access to any detection-baffling magic, and would stand revealed.
3) The PC's have access to the body of Pasha Al-Jakri’s sister, Khismia, who died less than 24 hours previously. By the time they're 6th- or 7th level, characters might have access to raise dead. If Khismia is raised, a very reasonable action for any Qadira-leaning PC since that faction mission requires Khismia kept safe, the scenario goes off the rails again. Pasha's motivation for turning against the Society evaporates.
In such an adventure, the GM feels a need to keep the storyline going, despite any resources the party might bring to bear, despite any misgivings the players might have, and despite any qualms paladin PCs might feel regarding the choices thrust upon the situation.
(Honestly, as a GM, I would have an easier time giving a paladin grief over the theft of legitimately seized contraband goods that Muesello was smuggling, out of greed than anything involving the Dawnflower cultists.)
I understand why the change was made, and as a global issue I approve.
But the crossed scimitars of Taldor was a classy sigil. I still wear the t-shirt with pride. But I don't think I would wear a shirt with a money-bag and a merchant's scale.
EDIT: Sigh. Qadira. (I had nothing against the Taldor sigil, either, except it looked like a fast-food restaurant sign.)
Occult Adventures Playtest document wrote:
Occult Adventures is designed to give players and GMs the tools and guidance needed to add mystery and secrets to their game. While an ordinary game might see the players facing off against a tribe of goblins who have been killing local livestock and threatening villagers, in an occult game, the players might then learn that the livestock were sacrifices made to a dark altar, and that the altar was given to the goblins for some foul purpose. .... So it goes in an occult game: each hidden truth hints at further mystery and stranger plots.
Does anyone have any recommendations for scenarios or PFS-sanctioned modules that are particularly fitting to the sort of adventures the playtest characters should experience? Off the top of my head, I could start the list with:Black Waters
Encounter at the Drowning Stones
Haunting of Hinojai
The Cultists' Kiss
Day of the Demon
My criteria are: hidden things revealed, more than once, and a macabre atmosphere.
Nicely said, Sebastian.
Saint, let me give you a real-life, not-making-this-up example.
I've met a pair of GMs who've advanced the following argument: "the Pathfinder Society uses smugglers to get goods into Absalom. Missions often involve breaking laws to get into a site or get out stealing artifacts. It is, essentially, a criminal enterprise, wrapped in lofty rhetoric. Paladins cannot function as pawns of that organization. If I have a paladin sit at my table, I'll ask him if he accepts the mission briefing. If he does, he falls." They are otherwise okay GMs.
So, let's say your only character in-tier is a paladin. Are you sure you'd want to bring him to that table, to argue for an hour? Wouldn't you rather play a pre-gen?
And you can substitute "summoner" or "gunslinger" in there, too. There are lots of GMs out there who don't like certain character concepts. A lot of griefing players, too.
Or, you have a level 3 magus, and the other players are bringing their 7th-level squad.
Or, you've just played your 18th game with a PC in the morning session, and it's time to rise 7th level. But you want to use a feat from Inner Sea Combat, a source you didn't bring to the game. So, you could have a legal 7th-level character, if you just give up and give her a feat out of the Core Rulebook. Or you could play a pre-gen.
As feylund notes, your one PC in tier could be a big, dumb half-elf barbarian, when the party really needs a cleric. Or a bard. As Imbicatus notes, your one PC in tier could be wildly inappropriate for the adventure; that could be fun, if everybody's in a mood for that kind of thing. (What is this "Stealth" you speak of?)
You've played parts 1 and 2 of "Destiny of the Sands," and that PC how has 20 XP. If you use that character in this unrelated game, you'll have to play Destiny, part 3, with a different PC.
If a renewed D&D attracts new players into the hobby, that's good for them, and good for Pathfinder, too.
Right now, D&D has basic races, basic classes, and basic game mechanics. Right now, Pathfinder is a mature game system, with a dozen major hard-cover expansions. At the moment, new players can burn through all of the D&D Adventurers' League materials in a few weekends. Right now, Pathfinder Society had a deep history and a cool current storyline.
I'm expecting D&D to rope in a good chuck of new players into the hobby. Some of them will stay with D&D. Some of them will come looking to see what else is available.
I, for one, welcome all out new friends. Let's try not to be jerks when we talk about which system people like better....
The St. Louis crowd was fond of running Thornkeep levels in 4-hour slots -- whoo-hoo, my new PC is 4th level after a day! -- but my attitude is that doing so short-circuits the strength of the adventure. Those sessions start with "You're at the doors to the Accursed Halls..." and entirely side-step the town of Thornkeep, which I think is a shame.
Not only is Thornkeep chock-full of useful gear, rumors, NPCs willing to cut prices for bold adventurers, a ghetto that can turn the goblin combats into something else, etc ... but it's one of Paizo's versions of Hommlet or Sandmarsh. This is the cool part of Thornkeep: it's the ancient gamer trope of the town sitting atop the ancient tomb: malignant, mystical, and mysterious.
Every time I talk to players who are upset about the encounter that Kadasbrass references, I ask them why they didn't take the hints about that character available at the Blue Basilisk. Why didn't they go into that encounter fore-warned? And the answer is always the same: we ignored the town. Okay then.
There are all sorts of good reasons to choose to not play a character.
"I just earned my 18th XP, and I want to pick up that book next week and give my PC a Feat out of it. Also, I haven't decided where to spend my gold."
"I've played this character through parts 1 and 2 of this series. If I play this other thing, today, this character will level out of range of part 3."
As nosig notes: "this character doesn't fit in well with the group. We would have nobody who can heal." Or "This character tramples all over your character's cool schtick."
"This character won't have any fun in that adventure, or under that GM. Neither would anybody else at the table."
So under any of those circumstances, play a pre-gen, and then assign the credit to a legal PC. You shouldn't have to lie about "Oh, I accidentally left my character / Chronicles / legal resources at home."
[I post this a lot. Maybe I should just put it in my profile...]
That's not quite true. Mike Brock has explained, for example, that PCs committing crimes in a city, and then sticking around, might have to deal with the city watch. He even suggested where we might find useful stats for the guardsmen.
I've used the Chase Deck to deal with parties that, for example, want to pursue skulk villains through unmapped tunnels.
If a party goes off the rails, we do what we can to accommodate that, including using reasonable stat blocks when necessary.
The probability effects of the re-roll are less important, in my opinion, than the psychological effects.
While they still have the re-roll, players act more recklessly,more heroically, than players who don't have access to a re-roll. And once the re-roll is used, players act more conservatively and cautiously. It's a great way to make the end fight seem more dangerous.
As well, the decision as to whether to use the re-roll or not adds a level of strategy to a game that otherwise seems like a series of random rolls strung together with a narrative.
John has asked that (a) we follow the game rules and impose the penalty as appropriate, but that (b) players can get around this by clever guessing-and-checking.
I'm going to suggest to my brother and sister GMs that we follow both parts of this advice.
Back in the days of 1st and 2nd Edition D&D, players had a lot of fun with this guesswork. You'd put on a ring, or swallow a sip of a potion, and try to figure out what effects it might have on you. You'd try all manner of ways of killing the invulnerable creature before discovering that electric attacks seemed to slow it down. (Robert Plamodon explains his elaborate procedures for opening a chest in his book Through Dungeons Deep. Under no circumstances should you actually lift the lid!)
Since the year 2000, we're used to a game system with skills for all that. There are GMs out there who insist that skill rolls take the place of that fooling around. No matter how elaborate your explanation, unless your character has Disable Device, you will indeed set off the trap. Unless you have ranks in Knowledge (whatsit) your attempts to find an attack form that might injure the monster will be seen as "meta-gaming". No amount of experimentation will reveal what the magic ring does unless you have detect magic and ranks in Spellcraft.
That kind of reliance on the game system, to trump in-play inventiveness, won't work under this circumstance. If you as a GM rely on PCs making those skill checks as the only ay to circumvent problems or figure things out, then the rules for skills versus technology will stymie the party. If you let players experiment with the goodies and make good guesses about the baddies, this can be a lot of fun.
DM Beckett wrote:
So, if I even run more Season 6, (not looking like it so far), and someone does have said Feat, they will need to bring a legal copy of the book, and I'll look at it with the Additional Resources.
Absolutely. That's what the campaign requires.
If said Feat is on page 6-7, then I'll try my best as a DM to make sure both they and all the other players get to have fun and get some use from their options, but also explain what a mess this is, both in my opinion and where exactly this al stands in the RAW/RAI/Needs clarification standpoint, and make an on the spot call.
Really? I guess that my expectations as a player are different from the people who sit at your table. If I sat down to play, and the GM explained that he thought the rules were a mess, I might very well take him at his word, ask for a zero-XP Chronicle sheet, and find something else to do with my 5 hours.
We are ambassadors for the game. I don't know how I can square that with a GM who holds the game rules up to ridicule.
DM Beckett, how do you adjudicate magus NPCs in scenarios?
The Magus class is in the APG and the PRD, neither of which is part of the Core assumption. Rules for magus characters aren't spelled out in the PFS Guide nor the individual scenarios.
It's certainly within your purview to refuse to run scenarios with magi NPCs. It's also within your purview to refuse to run scenarios with super-science technology. But if you do decide to run such scenarios, please do not make up rules about how either works in Pathfinder Society.
There have been a couple of posts in this thread suggesting that the GM in question was blood-thirsty, or gets his jollies killing PCs, or whatever.
Remember, folks, this in Bonekeep. It's supposed to be extra-deadly, Jason Buhlmann is supposed to drink the tears of players who have lost characters there, and so the ruling of hitting another PC with an area effect seems completely appropriate to that dungeon. The GM in question might be much more lenient in other environments. (I have never run it, and don't ever intend to run it, exactly because I don't enjoy that GMing style.)
For what it's worth, I would concur with the GM assigning an alignment to the victim PC in this instance.
We don't want a player deliberately leaving things like "alignment" blank, and then deciding, at the crucial moment, which alignment gives him the greatest advantage. (And, heck, given the enemies casting spells, "neutral" is a much more strategic choice than "good".)
Even better would be, when the GM reviews the character sheets at the beginning of the session, noticing this absence and asking the player before the game starts. (This is why we audit PCs.)
That would not be allowed in PFS.
Show me where it says it ain't ;)
As it turns out, Pathfinder Society uses the same underlying rules as the Pathfinder RPG. The Society guide doesn't have to explain that clerics channel positive / negative energy, or how the Cleave feat works, or the area affected by a burning hands spell, because all those are explained in the base game.
We don't get to change the base game in Pathfinder Society. If you want one place where squares are explicitly mentioned, look at the game definition of "a 15' cone," a.k.a. the area that a burning hands spell affects.
Hex-based swarms only affect three figures, not 4. (Or do they affect 7?) Rules for cover change significantly. There's no rules for two figures moving perpendicular to each other, unless one zig-zags.
If you're going to a con this weekend and I'm your GM, and you want to walk away because I have a map on hexes rather than squares, it's your loss.
No, actually. It's the con's loss, because they were expecting someone to run Pathfinder Society, and you're running PFS scenarios through your home-brew rules.
You don't have to justify the masterpiece is banned, because no one is arguing otherwise. The question is, how much lee-way players ought to have to adjust the affected bards.
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
If one of my broken toys got taken away I'd understand and either retire the character ....
There are people who play less regularly than you seem to. Abandoning a mid-level character is a bigger deal for some people than others. In most every case, though, it's disruptive.
Just use some prestige and rebuild.
Even for people whose bards have built up prestige points, this requires the purchase of a hardcover book. Not to start a new character, but rather to continue playing their current PC.
This situation is not analogous to the mysterious stranger / pistolero issue from a year ago. In that case, Mike warned people well in advance that the build was not going to be legal for long. I don't have much sympathy for players caught in that.
Rather, it seems a better analog to the banning of, as you say, the synthesist archetype: suddenly banning an (over-powered) option that some PCs were built around. As Andrew notes: those players were able to adjust the characters (without buying Ultimate Campaign).
Listen. It sucks. Yes. But that's life.
It doesn't have to be; these are human decisions.
Spells, magical effects, and supernatural abilities usually obviate the value of skills. (You invest skill ranks (and Skill Focus) in the Climb skill; I cast spider climb.) This isn't a surprise; you know this.
How do you feel about the Knowledge domain power that allows a cleric to touch a monster and find out all sorts of things about it? Isn't that the same issue?
"I do not wish to be part of a story in which a dim-witted liar is so consistently better at knowing things than a brilliant scholar." I respect that. That's fine. The answer should be "Don't play or GM in an environment that allows for that Masterpiece," rather than "Don't allow a PC with the ability to use it effectively."
And for what it's worth, I'll take some issue with "consistently better". In combat, use of the Masterpiece is much slower for monster identification. And using it exhausts a bard's daily resources, so it can't be used consistently.
How would you specifically handle this ability at your table (both in how it would work mechanically, and if necessary, how you'd make sure that its use didn't ruin the fun of others)?
In terms of flavor, I'm imagining a Bard spouting off reasonable-sounding information, and the magic of Pageant influencing the bard so that it turns out to be right more often than not. In the same way that a cleric announces whether a possible course of action is a good idea, and is right more often than not, thanks to the magic of augury.
Mechanically, it looks like there's two different concerns going on in this thread: identifying monsters in combat, and substituting for a whole host of skills throughout the adventure.
I honestly don't think that using it for monster identification during combat is all that serious an issue. Using the Bardic Masterpiece takes a standard action, as opposed to using Knowledge (dungeoneering) or such. So, it allows a bard to announce things about the monster, after a standard action's worth of preening and posturing. And it turns out to be mostly correct. (Of course, that's what we expect from bards. They know stuff.)
The bard is also spending resources -- uses of bardic performance -- while her colleague with a lot of ranks in Knowledges can use them all day long. If the bard wants to spend three or four rounds of bardic performance during a scenario on pageant of the peacock, I'm okay with her getting some return on her investment.
In terms of dominating a table by running fough-shod over the Int-based Knowledge monkeys, I would make sure that the other PCs got an opportunity to shine. Maybe they'd know different things about the objects under study. Maybe they'd have better support for their positions. Mechanically, I'd follow the advice other people have already provided: If the wizard gets a Knowledge (dungeoneering) result of 21, and the bard gets a Bluff check of 31, I'd give the Wizard the information that a 21 entitles him to. And then I'd give the bard the additional information that she whipped up, and possibly one more "factoid" that she made up, which is just as plausible, but not correct..
When would I do that? When I think the bard is running rough-shod over her colleagues, and when I think the players at that table would enjoy it.
But in general, I think Akerlof has the heart of the situation. If somebody's using pageant of the peacock to dominate a table, the problem isn't with the Masterpiece.
My whole post is a statement of my position on a wide topic, in the context of a GM who only wants to run 4-player tables.
I agree, LazarX, if the GM kept his restriction secret until the day of the convention. ("Oh, you know what? I'm only going to accept 4-player tables today.") That's no good.
On the other hand, if the GM had let the organizer know at first contact, that would be a different thing. ("I can only handle 4-player tables.") At that point, the organizer can either accept the GM's help under that restriction, or decline. ("Sorry, dude. I need everybody to be able to run 6-player tables. If you can't do that, I'd be happy for your help at HQ, or maybe demo-ing the "Goblin Attack" scenarios.")
If the organizer does accept the help ("I mean, hey, four players seated is better than none.") , then the players who can't get in to a game should take that up with the organizer, but they never made any agreements with the GM.
Feel free to substitute an employee who won't work on her Sabbath, or a pharmacist who won't fill certain perscriptions.
Back in October, 2012 the Paizo Blog ran a "Pathfinder Survival 101" column. It recommended:
Potion of Invigorate (50 gp): Going into battle with a creature that can sap your endurance, leaving you fatigued or exhausted, this potion will banish that pathetic mortal weakness and allow you to ignore the associated penalties for 10 WHOLE MINUTES. Of course, when it runs out, you get not only the penalties, but also an extra d6 points of nonlethal damage for your arrogance in ignoring your natural limits—but hey, performance enhancements are just an easy way of separating winners from losers! Honestly, though, ignoring those penalties for 10 minutes, that's freaking awesome for 50 gp.
I am pretty sure that people who bought Ultimate Magic for the sole purpose of playing a legal synthesist in Pathfinder Society were even more bummed, because (a) that was a more expensive book, and (b) the synthesist was out-right banned, unlike the Aasimar and Tieflings, which are still perfectly playable races with a race boon.
It seems to me that your complaint would apply just as well to any element of the campaign that was restricted or banned. So, you're complaining that not everything is available in this campaign?
Can we expect that the three new open races will be restricted again? Hard to say, since this is an experiment, but if all goes well, yes, they'll probably cycle out to let other race boons become open. If you want to buy books that never have anything restricted or banned in this campaign, you're out of luck, since there are some Core elements of the game that are banned (reincarnate) or restricted (crafting poisons).
And I agree with your first sentence. If you enjoy playing Aasimars and Tieflings, your money was very likely well spent, indeed!