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I appreciate you took the time to make this argument. It's very clear you have a lot of passion for the idea of a ranged magus. I also love the magus and wanted a good ranged archetype for years. However, this argument has a number of significant flaws that severely undermine it.
1) The argument ignores the big picture. The magus gains powerful spell/combat action economy benefits all balanced around a restriction of having to cast spells while full-attacking in melee. An Eldritch Archer throws all of those factors out the window while receiving almost no drawbacks for it. This leaves you with a class that can use all of the amazing benefits of archery and all of the amazing benefits of spells at the same time. This conists of way more than the "first round advantage" that gets talked about.
2) The argument makes faulty comparisons with the magus. The argument seems to completely overlook the massive advantage of playing a ranged magus over a melee magus. Who cares if archery is feat intensive? Plus, you can go human and pick up Precise Shot or Rapid Shot right away. Dervish Dance builds have feat sinks, too, and have to wait until 3rd level to do any respectable damage.
3) The argument makes poor comparisons with archers. Strangely, the argument actually points out that the Eldritch Archer is somewhat comparable with other archers. That's a bad thing because the Eldritch Archer can cast spells while shooting. Really, the closest comparison is an archer warpriest, but warpriests are heavily limited in what spells they can cast. The Eldritch Archer is not and has a better spell list.
4) The argument provides weak reasons why Eldritch Archer is balanced. The best arguments are:
B) Ranged spells get wasted if they miss.
C) People want a ranged magus!
Archetypes are all about making trade-offs. Trading melee for ranged is a massive boon for a class deliberately limited by range. I design free content for Pathfinder in my spare time and the topic of a ranged magus occasionally appears in the Homebrew forums. In every case, my peers and I agreed that a balanced ranged magus needs smarter design than "LET'S MAKE ALL THE MELEE-ONLY ABILITIES BE RANGED-ONLY ABILITIES!" Eldritch Archer is a poorly designed archetype. That's why it's banned from PFS.
No, they borrowed the firearm mechanics from a campaign setting book. The Inner Sea World Guide introduced Alkenstar firearms as a novelty where you can target touch AC but the weapons were expensive, risky, and could only be fired as a standard action. Ultimate Combat foolishly built upon these rules and let you full-attack with them. They should have ignored Inner Sea World Guide's guns and made firearms work like normal ranged weapons but with a few neat perks like Dex-to-damage.
Matthew Morris wrote:
Eldritch Archer: A ranged magus that works? Can’t have that.
I love the magus and wanted a proper ranged magus archetype for years. However, the Eldritch Archer archetype is broken. Melee restrictions balance the magus's powerful class features with the action economy benefit of spell combat requiring you to maneuver carefully or cast spells while in melee. Eldritch Archer throws that factor out the window, allowing you to play an archer wizard that can safely cast spells and full-attack at range with impunity as a class that's already fairly powerful in its own right. The archetype's only drawback is the arcane bond. No matter what excuse you can make, the Eldritch Archer is an outright buff to an already powerful class. That's why it got banned.
Want to blame someone? Blame the designer, not the folks who were smart enough to spot the above issues before it became a problem in PFS. A proper ranged magus archetype requires better design sense than "DERP LET'S MAKE ALL THE MELEE-ONLY ABILITIES BE RANGED-ONLY ABILITIES. THAT'S BALANCED, RIGHT?!"
I still think it goes way beyond what a cantrip should do.
Though, a cantrip (or any spell) that differs based on what focus component you use would be rather cool.
If you want good feedback, show a finished map. It's hard for people to provide quality critique for something in a non-submit-able state.
So many good suggestions!
Okay, here's what's going on now.
1. I decided that in the past few months, the Andoran government has silently sent agents to investigate the validity of the rumors. Initial investigations and preliminary research into the god definitely raises some alarm, so the government has dispatched an adventuring party to look into the matters more closely.
2. The hired mercenaries have done work for the government in the past and also know the PC party very well. Though now allies, the mercenaries came to blows with the party over misunderstandings in the past and want to avoid that happening again above all else. They couldn't get much information from the party about the god resurrection. However, from casual conversation, they learned that the party procured the dangerous artifacts for all the right reasons and did so to prevent an enemy from getting them. The mercenaries now trust the party and genuinely believe they mean no harm, even if they seem to be playing with something very dangerous.
3. In the last session, an ominous storm began to loom over the party's home town and create lightning of negative energy. The mercenaries revealed to the party that these storms have been happening throughout the nation and always seemed to flow to this location. The lightning in this particular storm has caused the dead to rise from the grave and chant that they wish to bare witness to the dead god's return. Mainwhile, undead giants wade through the sea towards the town and eldritch planar creatures stalk the streets, killing villagers. The party is now trying to save as many lives as possible.
I think at this point, the government would bring out the hardcore divination magic and take serious action. Though, uses of the commune spell to inquiry about the god would likely divide opinions even further.
Jarrett Sigler wrote:
A post-mortem is an analysis of a project at its conclusion typically done by those responsible for the project. Many game developers write post-mortems in the indie video game industry to reflect on successes, unsuccesses, and give insights to their processes. It helps an individual and others learn from their completed project.
There's way better ways to implement "per encounter" abilities. The psionic focus mechanic from Psionics Unleashed is a great example of it done right. It takes a full-round action to gain psionic focus, which you can expend to perform certain class features. This means you can typically only do it once per encounter or regain psionic focus by losing your turn.
Seeing that complicated parry houserule makes me happy about a game mechanic in an RPG I designed. In my RPG, all attacks are opposed skill checks. The standard defense skill is Reflex. However, you can defend against melee attacks using your Melee skill if you're wielding a melee weapon or have training in unarmed combat. Shields are melee weapons that allow you to defend against ranged attacks using the Melee skill.
At-will abilities are valuable due to how the game works.
Because if you strip the game down to the underlying mechanics, PF/D&D is a game of attrition as defined by Joris Dormans and Ernest Adams in their book Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design. The game works by having a GM gradually wear down a party's resources until they reach the climax of the adventure or adventure segment. This design pattern creates tension, influences decision-making, and helps prevent encounters from getting stale since any encounter might differ in intensity depending on how long a party has gone without resting. In a game pattern like this, any resource that never runs out or replenishes quickly is very valuable.
I do agree that in many cases, some at-will abilities have been overvalued or undervalued. Balancing at-will versus limited-use is fairly difficult because even a slightly overpowered at-will ability can throw off the game. Because of this, Paizo and WotC has traditionally been conservative about the power level of such abilities or found ways to implement them as limited-use.
I let the gunslinger commission a galleon, hire a crew, and become captain of the finest vessel of the Inner Sea.
The monk is a kung-fu princess rebuilt as an unchained monk.
Because what truly matters is that your players are having fun. You don't need to completely rework the game to accomplish that.
JPSTOD, I love seeing new faces wanting an active role in the community. However, RPG Superstar's community thrives on self-improvement for the purpose of producing professional work. People get involved with hopes of getting jobs in the industry as designers, developers, cartographers, authors, etc. Showing a piece of work and admitting you couldn't be bothered to finish it or put more effort does not really align with the attitude of RPG Superstar. I'd love to see something from you that really shows your A-game.
Also, flip maps don't have a scale or compass rose because they're not designed to map a specific location. Flip maps function as battlemaps for GMs to reuse across campaigns. Flip maps have a different purpose than maps you find in published adventures.
I don't see a scale and compass rose. That would instantly get you disqualified. Lack of key is also a big problem. These are crucial things every map should have.
You submitted this image prior to the reveal of the top 32. If you got into the top 32, you would have to make a new map as posting your entry elsewhere prior the end of voting will disqualify you.
There's a lack of clarity with this map, and I have trouble figuring out the details of this map. There's no key and the textures you use feel very busy. It's not totally clear what's a wall and what's stone floor. I can't even see the doors and windows clearly. I run my games online via MapTool. The biggest problem I've faced with using maps created with programs like this was when the mapper didn't clearly indicate doors and windows, and I had to invent my own. That's not a situation you want to put the GM into. If you look at professional maps by Paizo and other companies, they use the standard map symbols instead of actually drawing a door.
This doesn't look like a wererat place. Wererats make traps and rely on swarming, stealth, and sneak attacks to overwhelm enemies. This place looks like it would be very difficult to ambush intruders. There's also no indication of traps and other hazards.
The entrances to this place seem to cut off, not making it obvious where the PCs can enter from.
It's obvious you know your tool very well. Aside from the above issues, the layout of the map looks decent. However, it suffers from clarity problems and generally feels very unfinished.
The party in my campaign are all fuzzyfolk. An anthropmoorphic wolf, two kitsunes, a catfolk, a suli that resembles an anthropomorphic foodog, and a homebrew race that's essentially a fox crossed with a dolphin.
And no. Such races aren't common in my campaign. They easily got fame and infamy in any community they went into.
The lore is really awesome. I love that the phylactery anlagoue is a holy shrine where the creatures mortal coil is laid to rest. It's like if a canonized saint becomes a badarse angel. I agree with the decision that a non-evil lich is not a lich anymore.
However, the mechanics do need work. It definitely should be a native outsider since the creature still has some version of mortal coil.
Torture is evil. You are making a helpless person suffer in order to get what you want. Any research on historic torture will tell you it's a barbaric, unreliable method of extracting information that leaves devastating psychological effects on its victims.
Torture isn't even a good war tactic. There exist more reliable methods for extracting information from captured enemies, such as bribery, bluffing, and social engineering. In a fantasy world like Pathfinder, you have plenty more options. I played a Lawful Neutral character for two years that routinely captured enemies and interrogated them -- I NEVER had to resort to torture.
Show me a Good character that resorts to torture, and I'll show you a lazy player who couldn't be bothered to come up with something more creative than "hurt the bad guy until he gives us what we want."
I thank everyone for taking the time to respond to my entry.
For those who haven't seen me around before, I am a software engineer who moonlights as an indie game developer and got into tabletop game development in order to build my game design skills. When I'm not working on my puzzle platformer Displacement, I write free Pathfinder RPG content and serve as an active member of the homebrew forum. My work includes the runari race based on the characters of my indie computer game and the artiforged, a base class that takes a setting-neutral approach to creating a cyborg-like character.
So what went behind the creation of the Meandering Oasis of Nex?
Inspiration: Truth be told, I was inspired by an observation that the game has a spell for creating your own little dimension, but no spell for creating your own little planet. Since it's a common trope for high level wizards to create a vacation home in a demiplane of their own creation, that made me picture an analogue with hundreds of abandoned resort-style microplanets orbiting Golarion.
Maps often feel too 2-dimensional, so I wanted to try something more 3D in an interesting way. Small planetoids sounded like a lot of fun and could introduce some unusual encounter mechanics that I sadly had to cut from my 50-word description. One of my early drafts had a small solar system that hovered over a lake or oasis. I ultimately had to reduce the scope to a single planetoid with a couple of satelites. That's when I got struck with the idea with having the planetoid itself be the oasis.
Having only been playing tabletop RPGs for about three or four years, I'm fairly unfamiliar with published adventures outside of Pathfinder. From how you describe it, Rock of Bral does sound pretty fun. Planescape and Spelljammer are settings I would love to play in.
Design Goals: I wanted to create an usual planetoid system that served as the entrance to a dungeon. Clarity was my biggest design goal. I knew I needed to communicate the planetoid layout. After all, cool idea is meaningless if it can't be conveyed well enough for gameplay. However, I knew that a novel map in itself won't go far, so I wanted to convey a mystery and sense of water. In my book, a great map tells a story that the players want to be a part of.
Implementation: I sketched out half a dozen layouts to figure out the best way to convey how the planetoids work. One of the sketches divided the spheres into quadrants and marked the poles, but such proved too complicated. I ultimately settled with a layout that split the spheres into a "top" and "bottom," which also used space much more efficiently.
Choosing a location proved difficult at first, but I quickly realized Nex seemed like an obvious choice. Not only is Nex one of my favorite places in Golarion, but also Nex is well known as a place of weird high magic. So a floating sphere with its own gravity magic would fit the tone of an adventure taking place there. The fact that Nex is mostly a wasteland gave rise to my idea of it being a floating oasis that teases poor souls lost in the desert. You say you saw a lake in the sky? Surely, the heat has gotten to your head.
Ah, but the map needs things to interest players, so I populated it with props for players to gravitate to, something I've found quite effective in my home games. Hey, I wonder if there's something in that boat in the lake! What's in that shack with all the boulders covering it? Check out that huge planetoid that crashed into the house! I see some movement in the pond of that one sphere!
After I put all the pieces, the story started to come together as well. Who was the extraordinary man who made this place? What happened to him? Is the magic getting weaker? What caused that satelite to crash? What did the other smash into? Why does the mansion look remarkably prestine for something that's half destroyed? And who is feeding the fish in the pond? The party will have to adventure here to find out.
Post-Mortem: I had a vision for this map. My goal was to communicate that vision. I admittedly felt a tremendous amount of glee when judges Neil Spicer and Liz Courts could perfectly see that vision. And to intrigue the author of my favorite module Pathfinder module to boot!
However I recognize the map does not come without flaws. I could have added a few more interesting landmarks. It's probably not the easiest map to draw on a flipmat, and best suits a specific adventure. I agree that the concept behind Meandering Oasis is better served on a larger scale than a 30x24 map. Yet, I relished the challenge and embraced the small size to make the location all the more surreal. I'm happy that the risk paid off.
Overall, I feel a tremendous amount of pride that my work has captured the imaginations of voters. I aim to honor that. Admittedly, I have a hope that I can get the chance to expand on this map in future rounds.
They're in Andoran, so probably everything done by committee and then handled off to a division that handles the affairs?
Having a god reborn in Andoran borders kind of adds an interesting wrinkle to their religious tolerance policy. I can see that the god's moral ambiguity might cause people to feel divided in whether to stop or allow the resurrection. On one hand, they risk an evil god getting reborn. On the other hand, they risk grossly violating one of their society's most valued tenets in a historical way.
Those are some good suggestions. I like the idea of the government calling a celestial.
And no, I definitely do not want to flatout screw over the party. I want to present a challenging/intriguing scenario that the party will have to maneuver and could potentially twist into their favor. To do so, I need to get a good idea what the government of their home nation might do. The party has a good relationship with the governor of their hometown, but the enemy might have a few federal government officials in their pocket.
An investigation will surely show that the party is meddling with something dangerous. The party means well, but even they aren't entirely sure of the dead god's alignment. The god's remnants seem enigmatic but somewhat benign -- at least to the party. She even occasionally grants the party gifts, such as a reflavored Aviary of Spirits, when the party does something that pleases her. The god definitely stinks of bad juju as a piece of her spirit possessing the magus's blackblade occasionally steals the soul of a slain evil enemy. The party believes the god wants to become resurrected onto the Material Plane and get revenge on those that killed her and her followers decades ago.
A government paladin might be an interesting idea. The party hasn't encountered one yet despite this campaign lasting years. The paladins in my campaign are generally not Lawful Stupid and an experienced paladin knows that getting an accurate alignment reading takes some skill and patience.
The actual text of the magus arcana, hexes, and the like don't require you to be a skinwalker. There's no mechanical reason why they would require you to be a member of that race. In fact, some of them are totally useless to the associated were-kin. For example, why would a wereshark-kin ever want Aquatic Agility's water breathing? They can breathe underwater for free anyway!
Archmage Deven Algar constructed his manor and private lake on planet-like landmasses molded from Mana Waste soil blighted with strange gravitational magic. His legacy continues to float through Nexian wastelands as a wandering oasis. The oasis having its own gravity, visitors can tread along its round surface, even underneath it.
Le Petite Mort wrote:
I'm not really sure what the sweet spot for flavor text is. None at all seems a bad idea, as thinking of the item's place in the world gets the reader excited about the concept. A whole paragraph is too much, making the reader think that item is little more than an excuse to talk about your campaign.
My advice is simple. Show, don't tell. It's a mantra of fiction writing that also applies to item design. Don't tell me that your hammer is favored by undead slaying gravediggers. I should be able come to that conclusion based on the item's name and what it does. Describe the appearance only enough of the item so the reader can visualize it throughout the rules text. You need no more than one sentence. And it should flow smoothly and logically into the rules text.
Following up on Nickolas Floyd's response, it's worth mentioning that whenever an RPG Superstar item gets published, the biggest change between the competition and published version is that the lore and descriptions having nothing to do with the item's function or form is cut or removed.
You don't need a high word count to create awesome flavor. An RPG Superstar can create a vivid item with a short description and solid mechanics to support it. A truly great designer uses the visuals to illustrate how the mechanics work.
I'm a software engineer who got into tabletop gaming specifically because I wanted to develop my game design skills. RPG Superstar really propelled me further in that regard.
I tried to make my own RPG as well. I really like the current draft and had a very successful playtest of it. However, I feel it would be better to write a campaign setting book for an existing system than make an entirely new game from scratch. Depending on your goals, I recommend that approach as well. This reduces the scope of the project so you can focus on what's unique to your game, and the game benefits from already having an established community playing the system. The Strange (which uses Numenera's Cypher System) is a great example of this done well.
Barachiel Shina wrote:
Antimagic isn't an answer to that. It's just a giant "screw you."
If you want your villains better prepared, then have henchmen that specialize in grappling or do dispel duty. My Big Bads always have a small army of mages dedicated to counterspelling. I call then "spell bodyguards."
Le Petite Mort wrote:
Again, getting sick of the word 'runes'. I'm fine when the runes are actually functional, 95% of the time they aren't.
This was such a pet peeve that I homebrewed an entire race designed specifically to subvert the trope by having glyphs represent their philosophical beliefs about the elegance of language. and transparency of magical knowledge. And if you parade around with magic items covered with runes that don't mean anything, they'll think you're a shallow poser.
ErisAcolyte-Chaos jester wrote:
A cursed gunslinger could be interesting, bound to a weapon full of hate and malice that seeks to destroy the lives of anyone it comes into contact with.
Honestly, if one wants to remove misfires, a good idea is implementing a misfire replacement. Perhaps a haunted gun that curses the occult gunslinger instead of breaking the gun. The occultist gains a haunted deed akin to quick clear that quickly pacifies the spirit at the cost of some sacrifice.
The shattered blade functions as a +2 obsidian dagger while the cloud of fragments remain active. The shrapnel lingers until the wielder speaks a command word to disperse the cloud. When dispersed, the shards harmlessly fly toward the weapon and reassemble the blade into a longsword. Feats and abilities such as Weapon Focus and the weapon training class feature always consider a shattered blade as a longsword regardless of its current form.
1) Magical lineage does not reduce the level of a spell. It simply negates 1 level increase from metamagic. This does not allow you to turn a 1st level spell into a cantrip. It also does not allow you to use Rime Spell on a 1st level spell when you can't cast 2nd level spells. It's still the best trait for a magus.
2) If you want to be a Rime Spell specialist, I suggest chilltouch instead. The multiple charges will give you more mileage out of the metamagic.
3) If you want to become more blast-focused, I recommend Spell Focus (evocation) and Spell Specialization as your 1st level feats. A 3d6 shocking grasp or a 3d4 burning hands will one-shot most enemies at 1st level.
4) Your ability scores are fine. As sexy as it feels to have an 18 Strength, I often feel like it's not worth tanking your Wisdom and Charisma even harder.
5) Remember that humans have an alternate racial trait that trades the bonus feat and skill points for a +2 in another ability score. That make for a better long term investment than Toughness if you want more durability. A +2 to Intelligence also means more arcane pool points, skill points, and higher spell DCs.
6) Arcane pool helps both your attack rolls and damage rolls and makes up for your lower BAB. Don't be afraid to use it at early levels since you have no other ways to spend arcane pool points. A +3 at 1st level will work. Remember that (unlike a fighter) you will have spells like true strike and vanish to help you.
7) Scimitars are more optimal, but a longsword is fine. I always recommend picking whatever you find more appealing flavorwise. Magus is the kind of class where your weapon goes a long way towards determining your character's flavor. If you really want the crits, try a cutlass and portray your character as some kind of pirate wizard.
8) I always liked the +1/4 arcane pool FCB. However, that's entirely your preference.
9) Lore Warden is good if you want to focus more on skills or combat maneuvers or if you're a Dexterity magus wanting Dervish Dance one level early. However, I tried lore warden once and hated it so much that the GM let me retrain. It's great at early levels if you want to be more fighter focused. However, it does significantly affect your later game since you'll always be at least 2 levels behind any other caster and the benefits gradually start becoming less useful. The biggest blow is that you can't have both magical lineage and magical knack.