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I honestly always wanted to run a game setting with a concept I call "digital alchemy" or "digital arcana." This involves computerized devices that artificially replicate the process of spellcasting. So you might have a smartphone-like device that casts cantrips. Spellcasters are essentially like programmers where wizards have a cyberdeck-like device instead of a spellbook.
I'm personally not fond of abilities that negate immunities. It defeats the entire purpose of such abilities, and creates a slippery slope of effects countering effects that counter effects. In almost all cases, creatures have these immunities because of an obvious in-world reason (how can you poison a skeleton, construct, or another creature that doesn't have any flesh or circulatory systems?).
However, existing material usually takes either (or a combination) of two approaches:
1) The character option only negates an immunity possessed by a specific group of creatures. I prefer this one because such options usually have lore reasons why the option can negate the immunity. For example, the undead bloodline allows a sorcerer to enchant undead because they're partially undead themselves.
2) The character option negates an immunity, but the target still benefits from the defense in a lesser way. For example, some spells that negate immunities grant the target a large bonus on their saving throw. There's a kineticist talent that negates immunity to energy damage, but the target still takers significantly reduced damage.
The +1 BAB requirement for Power Attack and Deadly Aim is needed to give martials an edge over gish clases at 1st and 2nd level. This is why my campaign's Dex-to-damage solution also has a +1 BAB prerequisite. At 1st level, the gish should not be able to do as much damage with basic attacks as the fighter that did not receive spells and other such powerful class features.
I think Deadly Aim and Power Attack are way too good to give for free. It makes more sense to have a lesser version of it available.
And as much I dislike Point-Blank Shot as a feat tax, I'm not cool with buffing ranged builds by removing it. Especially not cool with buffing ranged builds by giving the feat's bonuses for free. You basically create a situation where the guy with the bow has an easier time hitting an unarmed opponent at melee range than the guy with a melee weapon.
That's why I introduced Knowledge (martial)
Cyrad's Houserules wrote:
Having martials increase in level faster wouldn't fix anything. The problem with martials vs spellcasters is that the latter gets tons of tools to affect a campaign at higher levels while the former does not. The problem is a "difference of kind," not a "difference of scale." You can't fix that just by making martials stronger.
In addition, your suggestion creates additional problems and abuse cases.
Kineticists are pretty good, actually. They're strong, interesting, and have great flavor. It's not a bad class, just not very well written.
I ran the Moonscar module, and it took the players nearly two months to figure out they were on the moon. None of them had Knowledge (geography), which is the skill for astral bodies. The party spent the whole adventure thinking they were on another planet, especially as I had the bad guys disguise themselves as lashunta. I gave tons of descriptive sensory details, but they didn't figure it out. This plagued the magus so much that after the adventure when she leveled up, she spent all her skill points to max out Knowledge (geography) so she could finally figure out where they were. Finally with ranks, she rolled her check, I gave her a note, she read it and suddenly blurted out "WE WERE ON THE MOON! WE WERE ON THE ****ING MOON!"
Ciaran Barnes wrote:
I like most of this. Generally, the unloved know knowledge skills come into their own with certain GMs and certain campaigns. Sometimes a GM just needs to loosten up. Let the player determine something with a good roll, even if the skill isn't 100% appropriate by the rule book. Even if it's not the exact info the player hoped for, it might take the game to a new place. The game is meant to be creative, not competitive.
I run Knowledge checks where most Knowledge skills can apply to a subject, but each one will give you different information. For example, let's say a player wants to know what their character knows about a runelord.
Knowledge (history) would reveal who they are, what era the runelord lived, the general history of their tenure, the impact their presence on history, etc.
Knowledge (arcana) would reveal details about their career as a spellcaster, what magical achievements they made, what spells they preferred, etc.
Knowledge (nobility) would reveal details about their lineage, political intrigue, etc.
Knowledge (geography) would tell details about the geolography of where they lived, how it impacted their life, and perhaps where the runelord's kingdom is located today.
Knowledge (local) would reveal the runelord's impact on local cultures, the demographics of their kingdom, and rumors/opinions that modern people have about the runelord.
Knowledge (religion) would reveal what religions the runelord was involved with, who he worshipped, who he despised, perhaps hints on their alignment, whether or not he was a divine spellcaster, how he used undead minions, etc.
Knowledge (martial), a knowledge I allow in my campaign, would reveal the nature of their military career (if any), what weapons the runelord preferred, and military tactics their army used.
Knowledge (planes) would reveal the runelord's impact on other planes of existance, whether or not they had any relationship with planar creatures, whether they traveled to other planes often, and what outsiders they binded during their career.
I think that might be quite too cheap.
My friend and I use a houserule where we remove wands from the game, but make potions have the same price as a single wand charge. This has several beneficial effects, including:
1) Potions become the staple consumable item without making scrolls obsolete (since scrolls can have spells that potions can't). This more closely follows fantasy setting tropes.
2) It's no longer trivial to stockpile an insane amount of healing in just your backpocket.
3) Each character becomes responsible for managing their healing item inventory rather than leaving that responsibility to solely the guy who has cure spells on their spell list.
Hit points make a rather terrible resource pool for gating abilities as there's numerous ways to replenish hit points and increase your maximum hit points. It's really easy to twink a character to cast an absurd amount of spells when hit points are the gating mechanism. This class makes it insanely easy by basing casting off of Con and giving them a ridiculous Hit Die for a caster.
The class has a lot of issues, but overall, does not have enough content. Classes need a strong central mechanic to unite the thematics and let them stand apart from other classes. Classes need a whole suite of class features to support then throughout all 20 levels. This class fails on both those fronts. When a homebrew class takes a powerful primary class feature (spell combat) and casually offers it as a talent, that's a sign to me that the designer ran out of ideas.
Designing classes is really hard. Even professional game designers screw it up sometimes.
I'm not keen on just handing out ability score bonuses to AC. It's something that shouldn't come lightly. Heck, it even feels questionable on the oracle as it's one of the most powerful revelations among the mysteries.
I might allow a barbarian archetype that replaces all armor proficiencies with a dodge bonus to AC equal to their Charisma bonus.
There's a lot of issues with this class. Overall, it has a lot of really broken abilities on an otherwise underpowered, not fully fleshed out class.
1) There's very few class features at 1st level. You basically just have spells and that's it.
2) None of the class features indicate what kind of abilities they are. Aside from spells, proficiencies, and cantrips/orisions, every ability should indicate whether they're extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like abilities.
3) There should be alignment restrictions (and a consequence for acting against the will of the deity) for being a divine spellcaster, especially when you're implied to be deific divine caster.
4) Weapon and Armor Proficiency: There's some really awkward design choices here. Only getting proficiency based on the handedness of a weapon is rather odd and doesn't make much sense. You should just directly specify the weapons like how the rogue does. Also, it gives a deity favored weapon, but as written, they get the benefit of this even if they aren't a divine caster. You never specify an arcane chronomancer can cast without arcane spell failure.
5) Chronopool: You get this class feature at 1st level, but you have nothing to spend points on until 2nd level.
6) Do Over: This ability is ambiguous. What exactly do you mean by "can reroll?" It should specific exactly what check or roll you can use this ability on.
7) Temporal Recall: This is basically just the magus's spell recall. It's a really powerful ability that should be level 4 or higher.
8) Time Skip: This ability needs completely rewritten. It's not clear what exactly it does. What do you mean an enemy has to "skip" their action? Which action? The language is also really awkward and confusing. What do you mean it's a "will based save?" You mean the target gets a saving throw? Abilities are not saving throws -- abilities allow saving throws. Also, why does this ability say that spell resistance doesn't apply when this is not a spell-like ability?
9) Ally of Time: This ability also needs a rewrite. It's extremely open-ended and vague. What kind of abilities can you give to an ally? What's the range? What do you mean "they still have to provide the cost of the ability." If you choose to give the ally a bonus, then what's the bonus? What type is the bonus. Also, the concept of giving your allies free abilities without any restriction is rather broken.
10) Temporal Strike: I don't understand when you can use this or what action it is to activate this effect. What do you mean "1 to 5 ratio?" Are you just reiterating? Also, the ability to irreversibly age someone is insanely powerful, the kind of power you see in artifacts and really high level spells. You give this at 4th level. And they don't get a save to negate.
11) Temporal Spells: I read this ability 5 times and I still have no idea what it does.
12) Anomaly: How exactly do you actually "manipulate when others or himself go during initiative?" Do you give them a bonus to initiative? Do you reorder the turns (which would be insanely broken)?
13) Medium Armor: This technically doesn't give you proficiency in medium armor. Also, remember that light armor still causes arcane spell failure.
14) Temporal Shifting: This ability is not only vague, but also an absolute a bookkeeping nightmare. There's a good reason why abilities that actually let you travel through time are extremely rare and usually only tied to artifacts. It's really annoying to run at the table.
15) Time Lock: Wait a minute. Making someone immortal allows a saving throw, but not the power that irreversibly ages someone? This is also fairly low level for an immortality ability.
16) Sands in the Hourglass: This completely breaks the class's spell and chronopool economy. You can abuse this to consume your low level spells so you can get more uses of your high level spells with temporal recall.
17) Temporal Stability: This ability doesn't actually do what you think it does. This ability seems written with the assumption that time stop is a debuff spell. It's not. Time stop targets the caster, so all it does is make you immune to your own spell -- assuming you could cast time stop at all. Even if time stop was a debuff spell, this ability would ironically make you immune to time stop but not the slow spell. Come to think of it, it's sad this is a time mage class that can't cast time stop.
18) Margin of Error: Because sands in the hourglass broke the chronopool economy, this is essentially an at-will displacement spell, but better because it gives concealment without explaining how it works. Also, as written, this ability doesn't actually cost anything to use. It uses language that suggests this triggers when spending points to use other abilities.
19) God of Time: When I first read this, I thought Temporal Spell referred to a metamagic feat when it actually refers to the class feature that I still don't know how it works. Also, you need to be more specific when you mean "1 for 1 ratio."
Pretty cool series. I look forward to hear about other character conversions.
Is it just me or are Jason and Owen really against any sort of rule that lets you swap your Dex modifier with the Strength modifier for damage no matter how limiting the rule might be? Anywho, thanks for the detail Erik. Wish you could have given us more but we'll take what we can get.
This has been a big topic in the community.
I'm somewhat baffled by the resistance, because it's quite easy to balance Dexterity-to-damage without making it obnoxious to obtain. When you do the math, you can see that it's balanced as long as:
I've been running a 4-year campaign that stretches from 1st level and 16th level. I allowed Dreamscarred Press's Deadly Agility (much more well designed than Slashing Grace) for the bladebound magus with a maxed out Dexterity. Yet, all of the Strength martials deal at least 50% more damage than her. At 16th level, the two-hander is dealing 40-45 damage a hit while the magus only deals about 20-25.
True deities in my campaign are essentially one with the multiverse. Trying to kill one is like trying to kill a star. The only way to ever truly affect it is to possess the same level of cosmic power and presence. And even if you somehow managed to kill one using a macguffin, some form of it still lingers behind and causes a cosmic shift in the fabric of the universe.
This is too strong for a 0-level spell. A cantrip that's essentially an automatically successful Sleight of Hand check with greater effect, better range, and better action economy is too powerful as a 0-level. The fact that it explicitly lets you cheat the action economy of drawing and storing objects is a giant red flag to me. It's like if you invented a way better version of Quick Draw as a cantrip.
At the very least, the spell needs to be a standard action and always have a range of 5 feet. Even then, I still think it would be too strong, but that's a good starting point to balancing it.
That playtest at GenCon was so secret that even the people attending didn't know about it.
I walked in expecting a game design seminar for Pathfinder RPG. Instead, I find myself in a room with Jason Bulmahn and the other Paizo crew saying we're gonna playtest Starfinder ship combat. Half hour later, I'm piloting the Devil's Due, evading enemy fire from the Desperate Gamble.
I never understood the benefit of that racial trait.
You gain a +2 on saving throws against sleep, paralysis, and fear effects, but you lose immunity to sleep effects and a +2 bonus to all enchantment effects. So the benefit is getting a much weaker version of a trait you lose. And you lose other beneficial traits. And you suffer the drawback of being treated as a dragon for bane and favored enemy.
Spheres of Power is surprisingly well done and balanced to some extent. And unlike Spheres of Power, it was actually playtested for more than a year. However, it is designed to totally replace the spellcasting in the game. It makes casters more powerful at earlier levels, but significantly weaker at later levels. While the wizard can gain a fly speed that has a concentration duration or a spell that lets them cast a limited haste, they don't gain the ability to totally wipe out encounters with a single spell. Also, it's rather easy for full martials to get spellcasting. The system balances itself by totally changing the paradigm in a way that makes casters have consistent power across all levels.
But even the Alteration sphere does a lot to keep polymorphing effects in check. It limits the number of traits you can have and you don't have immediate access to all forms. You also have to concentrate unless you spend a valuable resource. When you do spend a resource, the duration is minutes per level unless you're druid, who loses wildshape in exchange for increasing the duration to 10 minutes per level if they use the spell on themselves.
Don't be a jerk, Headfirst. Swoosh has a point. There's a lot of people who love high level play, but hate all the broken math, the rocket tag, the lack of ways for martials to contribute beyond stabbing and shooting things. At high levels, you can do a lot of fun stuff that isn't possible with low level play. You can have adventures that E6 could never do.
So saying "don't play high level PF, play E6" is like saying "don't play PF, play 5E" to someone who complains about the math of CMD.
I seem to challenge my level 16s just fine by...
1. Up the number of monsters in the encounters. At high levels, the best ways to deal damage tend to be single-target focused (martials, spells like destruction, etc) as hit point totals get too much for staple AoEs. High levels also give you much more room to have larger amounts of monsters.
2. Use monsters with varied tactics. My group is currently dealing with an army of Shaitan. Even a high level party finds it challenging to fight military veterans with the power to launch ambush attacks from underground and split off the party with wall of stone.
3. Create challenges that can't efficiently be solved with violence. Create high stakes political intrigue where reputations are on the line.
4. Create dungeons and environments that require the "gamebreaking" spells that would ruin low level dungeons. Got a teleport-happy wizard? Create a dungeon that can only be traveled to or navigated by teleportation magic. Or create adventures where the party has to rapidly travel from one city to another.
The kitsune never wears any shoes. She always goes barefoot even when the rest of the party of anthropomorphs at least wears sandals or wrappings around their feet.
I occasionally remind her why this is a bad idea. She once got tetanus from stepping on rusty nails. I take every opportunity describe how unpleasant each terrain is for her. The dungeon inside of the giant whale opened a whole new world of icky sensations for her paws.
At this point, she still goes barefoot just to spite me and made herself a wings of flying.
It doesn't last very long because it's a very powerful ability. It's one round of "I get to ignore all forms of damage reduction or exploit a creature's vulnerability to an energy type." And as a bonus, you can even use the ability as a better though more expensive version of ghost touch. And this is an ability for very strong archetype that doesn't really trade anything for it.
Theliah Strongarm wrote:
Game design is a deceptively challenging subject that Paizo is not in the business of teaching. Even teaching game design is also rather difficult. I read many game design books, and I'd only recommend two or three of them because the authors couldn't adequately teach the craft they excel at. Likewise, I believe a book teaching PF content design would not turn out very good. Especially a book on designing classes, which are the hardest material in the game to design.
On a related subject, I've been wanting to do a Homebrewing 101 series of articles for awhile.
And they're already making a new unique RPG. In a way that doesn't alienate their existing fans.
I'm surprised I never mentioned Ultimate Combat firearms when I wrote an article about them. I don't think it was a good idea to build upon Inner Sea World Guide's gimmicky Alkenstar guns. It would have been better just to make firearms be like a short range crossbow with a Dexterity rating like composite bows. Making a weapon so broken that it has to be locked behind an entire class just feels like a punch in the face.
1. Weapon Finesse. It never should have been a feat. Pretty much every modern fantasy game now makes this an innate feature.
2. Slashing Grace and Fencing Grace. These feats are a miscarriage of game design. Replace them with something like my Deadly Finesse feat, which is more accessible, more balanced, and doesn't require an FAQ to explain how it works.
3. Leadership. The feat is infamously flawed, and yet there's so much expanded material for it that can fill an entire book. I'd completely rewrite it. Maybe as a class feature for a new class. Maybe I could write an optional system for giving out narrative-driven boons. For example, at 10th level, characters get a choice of gaining a group of followers, a cohort, a keep, etc.
I'd add Eldritch Archer and Eldritch Scion to this, but I'd need a time machine to stop these from getting published at all and polluting a design space in a way that prevents players from getting a Charisma-based magus that's not a giant mechanical mess or a broken ranged magus designed by someone who doesn't understand how the class is balanced.
The race has the same problem I have with almost all content that has to do with runes - the runes servce no purpose or meaning beyond just making the magic item, race, or whatever feel magical. It's a cliche. Runes aren't just cool-looking symbols -- it's language. What does it mean? Why does the race have a connection to them? How has this affected their culture, philosophies, and language? There's no explanation of this. They're just people with funny-looking symbols floating around their heads. A shame because that actually sounds kind of cool and makes me think of the dabus from Planescape.
Maybe look at my runari race for ideas? I wrote this race partially because I love runes, but hate how it's become a pointless cliche. For a runari, a rune represents elegance of language and transparency of information. They put runes on their magical items so those that study and use the items can learn how its magic works. Sharing information is a virtue.
That's such a cool idea for an archetype that I wrote one inspired by yours!
I don't think it's that bad. Definitely not as bad as Elminster.
I think it's mostly the case that the lore expanded to explain that the multiverse goes through iterations, and Pharasma is one of the few beings older than the current version of the multiverse. The lore behind Groetus completely hinges on this because people worship Groetus on the hope that the god will give his worshiper special treatment in the next version of the multiverse. i wouldn't really call her a Mary Sue for being older.
I never experienced the issue with too many books.
All of the new books encapsulate a concept for specific types of campaigns. You're not going to use the Intrigue book if you're not running a primarily urban campaign. You're not going to use the Horror and Occult books if you're not playing a horror campaign or a campaign that has psychic magic.
The GM accidentally caused a TPK when he had Sarenrae intervene in attempt to save the life of a player's self-insert Mary Sue who expected to be treated as heroic and noble despite being deceitful and arrogant.
There was also a player who thought it would be cool if he was a werewolf. He wanted to divert all attention to himself in a big dramatic show where he'd turn into a werewolf as a big revelation in front of everyone at a big dinner party and then leap out the window and run off into the woods. Instead, I drew my sword and prevented his escape so the guards could bound him in chains. In addition, he forgot that the dinner party took place on the third floor of the castle. Oops.
The cycle of rushing out poorly designed content and gutting it in errata is unhealthy for the game and disrespectful to customers.
I sympthasize with the design team and freelancers for working under tough deadlines, but there's no finesse in handling the erratas and often they make the content even more confusing. Slashing Grace is an excellent example of this. The errata needed an FAQ to explain how it works, and the change was a larger nerf to the (arguably underpowered) class the feat was designed for than to classes the nerf was intended for.
Thankfully, I think the releases after ACG were great improvements, with some exception (lookin' at you brute vigilante).