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“Ah yes, my dear,” said the count, addressing the visitor and pointing to Nicholas, “his friend Boris has become an officer, and so for friendship’s sake he is leaving the university and me, his old father, and entering the military service, my dear."
-- Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, Trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude
I'll second the wordcasting recommendation. I'm playing a wordcasting Magus right now who is super fun. It's not too tricky a proposition even if you've not played it before, especially if you're going mainly for spellstriking type spells.
Plus there's the small but fun advantage of having fire-damage dealing cantrips for spellstrike purposes. That way you can keep the firey sword going all day long even as a level 1 Magus. What's not to love!
If we're looking at a region well explored, featured in an older AP and not previously covered by Wayfinder, three regions call out as clear favourites: The River Kingdoms, The Dragon Empires and The Worldwound/Sarkoris/Mendev.
The River Kingdoms would allow the most flexibility. It is an interesting locale with lots of options for submissions. It's also the most traditional of the regions. Almost anything you want to write about could be going on in the River Kingdoms.
The Dragon Empires is a nice tight theme with a massive array of possibilities. It's polarizing but people can get over that. The Kaiju in the bestiary would be awesome.
The Worldwound would be my choice. I love what we know about old Sarkoris. The God-caller thing is a lovely idea (I wrote about it here, among other things). Demons and the Abyss would be a really nice adjunct too. Then you have the crusaders of Mendev and all the baggage that goes along with them. I think that is a really nice focus with a a broad enough scope for multiple areas of interest.
I have played two witches in PF games. The first was in a high level game and he had the awesome power of any high level full caster.
The second was in a low level one off. It quickly came to light that the plot of the mini-adventure involved rescuing a small child who was being hidden right under our noses most of the time. How I rued not taking Child Scent.
These kind of hexes are highly situational but the sessions where Child Scent comes off as a valuable talent will be ones to remember. I likely will take it one day. I'll just take Evil Eye and Cackle first.
Well, it looks like Cook will stay on for now. I think he can turn it around. Whether he can do it in the next three tests I'm not sure, but I'm sure he has another ten test centuries in him at some point. The problem with 'lead from the front' captains is if their form is poor they have little to offer.
Anyway, I think it will be Buttler in for Prior as that article suggests. I think it's the right choice too. He is the most exciting player in England, now that a certain South African has been pushed out. He is obviously not as good a keeper as Read or Foster (either of whom I would be very happy to see picked, but they won't be), but he is good enough and his batting can offer what Prior at his best gave England.
Broad is obviously unfit so Jordan should come in for him. I would keep Anderson in for now. He has been the least bad of the senior players. He just needs to rein his temper in and pitch the ball up a bit more.
Bell hasn't lost his place yet. He has had a few poor games but he doesn't look totally out of form. He'll get runs in the series, I'm sure.
If Cook were to go, I think Carberry is the man to bring in. He's got enough about him and he has several more gears than Cook, Robson or Compton have.
I'd make Bell captain in that case. I think the extra responsibility could really make him, the way it has done for Michael Clarke.
Pretty much a disastrous day all round, after several really quite bad ones.
This England team is playing really strangely. All the junior players are playing well in patches. They have all done enough good to create a feeling of progress. All the young batsman have scored centuries, Plunkett has had a couple of rip roaring sessions, Jordan was very impressive earlier in the summer and Stokes has bowled well in patches. However, it seems like only one player can do it at a time. To win you need several players to do well. It's the senior players that are letting them down.
Bell has been poor. He still looks in great form but he has that knack at the moment of getting good balls early on and getting out to them. Mike Atherton had the same problem. He always looked unlucky to get a snorter from Ambrose or McGrath or Wasim but in the end he got them so often it must be a problem with him not them. He stays in the team for now but he has to get his act together.
Prior is finished. It's a terrible shame as it was only just over a year ago that he was the rock that the team was based around. His eyes have gone though and he can't bat or keep wicket. I would give anything for him to prove me wrong tomorrow but he won't.
Broad and Anderson still have plenty left in them, but it's not working at the moment. They are bowling too long spells and that has to come down to the captaincy.
Which leaves us with Cook. I agree Charles, he has to go. Probably as batsman too. He seems to have lost control. He'll be back, but he needs to get himself sorted.
Who is the next captain? The smart money is on Root I think. Strong personality. Scores ugly runs. Removed from the old regime. Someone like Chris Read would be a good choice but let's face it, it ain't happening. Graeme Smith was only 22 when he took over South Africa. Having a new broom come in could be a great choice.
I think you might be right about the mistrust of Hawkeye. At the moment it's all or nothing though.
It is surprising that India's spinners haven't pushed for its use. It has made life so much easier for the spinner. Saying that, the fact that it is there at all has been to the advantage of all spinners. You don't see many players sticking their pad out to the slow left armer any more as DRS has proved to umpires that spinners can get people lbw.
I strongly remember watching Alec Stewart blocking every spinner he faced with his bat firmly behind his pad. So boring and negative. Those days are gone thanks to DRS, whether it's in that match or not.
That's right. India have been against DRS since the beginning.
It's bizarre that they are allowed to play series under different conditions than other nations, but they bankroll the ICC so can set their own rules I guess.
Prior got a shocker but Murali Vijay got a bad one in the first innings too, so it evens up. Not that Prior will feel any better mind you.
I am guessing that writing roleplaying encounters that challenge PCs in a defined way are extremely tricky. Designing combat encounters or trapped dungeons and the like are well defined in the rules. You can do them well or badly but the process is clear.
Encounters like this are central to what a roleplaying game is but the rule set doesn't provide the same clear framework for design. I think that is as it should be. Scenes like this are going to run very differently for every group. Hats off for putting in an encounter like this and trying to quantify an outcome that isn't just a few diplomacy checks. I can see it being a very personal and intense scene if played well.
Thanks for providing your views James. It's great that you have provided thoughtful responses to the concerns raised here.
I'm going to add my voice to the thought that the problem has cropped up because this is cast very much as 'an encounter'. An encounter has to have a tangible challenge to overcome and consequence if it is not.
By far the majority of parties will never come across the problems identified because the main challenge of the encounter is - be confident, but not overconfident, heroes. That should be no problem for most groups that get this far. For most of them it will be a roleplaying encounter with a goddess. It should be awesome.
However, the focus of the encounter is more on what happens if the PCs mess things up. Most groups will never see that, but most GMs will and it will likely colour the way they run this. Even if all goes to plan, my reading of the Inheritor is not a pleasant one and I'll have to get around that when I run her.
My personal response as I read the encounter went from excitement to bafflement. "She does what? Why would she do that?" Looking at it again, the chance of the bad stuff happening is slim. Only characters who are not the champions that Iomedae really wants them to be are in danger. I still think the damaging trumpets are a mis-step but, even with them included in the write-up, they shouldn't be relevant most of the time.
So, I could have used more time spent on beefing up the awesomeness of the meeting (lots of nice ideas already thought up in these threads), rather than so much time spent on the punishments for ineptitude. So much time spent on what to do if your PCs act stupidly means that we don't have as much time spent on what Iomedae does if she's pleased. It comes across as underwhelming, when the meeting with Nocticula in The Midnight Isles was super exciting.
I totally understand what James is saying about how he meant this scene to play out and I think with the changes mentioned in his post a few up from here, it would work much better.
Aside from this though, I love the adventure. The two set on the abyss are exactly how I want high level planar adventures to feel. Weird, scary and exciting. Great job all round. (I do hate being negative. Especially when so much is so good.)
Some really nice thoughts there Doug. I think that would play out well - very intimidating. Using Irabeth is a very good touch. I would be tempted not to have them meet Anevia in this case. I think it would be fun to have the PCs work out the connection when they are traveling with her underground.
I wouldn't take out PCs' familiars and companions though. It's nicely horrible, but a bit too harsh on them when they have no chance of stopping it. He could do it to your venerable wizard's familiar though. I especially like the squashed toad.
One extra thing. I'm sold on channel energy but why not use the variant channeling option to channel pain? It does 2d6 damage (no save) and sickens the affected PC with extreme agony if they fail a DC 16 will save. That would be super evil and memorable - not deadly but very debilitating and horrifying.
I think this is a really neat idea. Getting the PCs emotionally involved in Kenabres from the start is a big plus and using Vhane is a great way of achieving that. It also emphasises the corrupting influence of the templar cults which I don't think gets as much screen time in the AP as it could have.
As for what he should do to put the fear of Deskari in the PCs, you could switch out the Hold Person spell for Scare? Doubles the number of PCs affected.
However, I'd probably drop a channel energy on them. 4d6 damage is pretty heavy for first level PCs and it will likely drop several of them but, if they are at full hp, it shouldn't kill anyone. Especially if you just take average damage instead of what the dice roll. As long as one or two pass their saves you should have someone still up to watch him swagger off.
If you are worried that is too much, you could assume he is only level 6 at the point they meet him and roll 3d6 damage. Still pretty hefty but not lethal.
I think the idea of focusing on schools of magic is a good one. I was thinking about it too.
I can see why eight books would be too many, although I think there is enough meat in each one to support a whole companion. This is especially true if you were looking at the full gamut of spellcasting types. Two pages of new spells; a double page spread on how casters of that tradition go about item creation; a discussion of an interesting wizard college somewhere on Golarion dedicated to it (or several); tips and tactics for using that type of magic; etc and so on.
Saying that, if it is more viable to roll them into fewer books, I could see the following two:
Magic of Sensation - the big, showy, exciting schools. Conjuration, Evocation, Necromancy and Transmutation.
Magic of Subtlety - the clever yet modest types of magic. Abjuration, Divination, Enchantment and Illusion.
I'm sure you could shift them around to fit slightly different concepts (maybe Enchantment for Necromancy) but that's my grouping off the top of my head.
These would definitely be appealing to me as a customer. I think the schools are such a major part of the game's lore, it's a shame they're not emphasised the way they could be (as Warhammer does, for instance). This has been true in almost every incarnation of the game. The Runelords have put some of that right of course, but the concept deserves a good outing on its own, purely metaphysical, terms.
Firstly, I'll get behind a few of the ideas already raised. Blood of the Elements/Genies is my number one request in the Blood of... line. I would snap that up immediately. I'd like to see it expand the elemental touched races away from just genies. Having Oread clans up in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings would really appeal to me. Spread those guys and gals around.
The Artificers Handbook would really work for me. I'd love to see more detail on building constructs, expanding the possibilities of animated objects, non-magical means of creating artificial intelligences, that sort of thing. That is a very appealing idea.
A thieves book would be great too. One of my favourite 2nd ed. books was the Complete Thief's Handbook. Thieves and assassins guilds and the organisations that oppose them are great fodder for PCs and villains alike. There's an instant conflict within the terms of the book that would allow all sorts of people to get use out of it. Catching a thief could be as much a focus as being one.
While I loved Kobolds of Golarion, I can't see much of a future in these books for more humanoid monsters. It's getting too far away from PC relevant territory and into GM aids. I love hobgoblins and have always championed them as a potential PC race, but I'm not sure going down that kind of route would be a good move. The Revisited books are probably the place for these things.
One race I would really like to see fleshed out would be Androids of Golarion. I would say the market for that might not be there but, given recent announcements, there might be after all. I really like changelings too, and would get behind some kind of book that supports them. Maybe that incorporates other fey-touched races (yes, I know hags aren't fey but they're from the same tradition).
For the People of... line, how about People under the Yoke (or something like that) about Nidal, Ustalav and Geb. Not geographically related but all featuring people suffering under supernatural tyranny. Maybe sub Razmiran in for one of them. Osirion, Thuvia and Rahadoum make for a more obvious trio, but I guess something along those lines is already on the schedule for early next year?
The Tournaments idea is good. I really like the performance combat rules and think they could be developed further. Maybe broaden its scope to cover all sorts of entertainment and call it Festivals of Golarion. As well as gladiators and jousting knights you could have rules for participating in games of Ruk (from Katapesh), new bardic masterpieces, archetypes for different types of religious celebrant to lead these festivals, ways in which festivities can enhance ritual magic (calling planar allies of Cayden Cailean during an epic - sorry, mythic - drinking session), for instance.
Haven't even begun to get my head around the rules yet, but my first impression is that that the artwork is absolutely phenomenal. Possibly my favourite book yet (for artwork).
The iconics' makeovers are superb. Ezren, Seoni and Kyra in particular. I was never really taken with Kyra before now. Something to do with the helmet maybe. She is absolutely awesome in this book.
The image of Ezren firestorming a while team of frost giants (page 95) is fantastic and I also love Harsk, Amiri and Kyra coming across the fallen angel on page 119. The artwork as a whole really brings the Mythic vision to life in a visceral way that all those 'Epic vs Mythic' conversations can't match.
Really good job guys!
Hey! Thanks for the invite. Count me in.
I had just finished writing up my PC when it was eaten by the boards (serves me right for not drafting it in word first).
However, it looks like a sorcerer might not be the best fit for the rest of the group. I'll adapt my concept and get them up in the next 24 hours. Then, I'll be good to go.
Hey there London crew.
Just thought I'd show some solidarity. There are quite a few London gamers out there, but interest seems to come in waves. There are a few organised clubs if you're looking for a game or a new player. However, I've seen people swamped with requests at certain times and others ignored for months.
I started running a group through Dragons on the Hill three and a half years ago and I had a constant stream of new players in the two years I ran it from the pub. We've been gaming in North London for a while but my team should be returning to their central London venue next week. I'm looking forward to being back in a room full of different gaming groups. It's such a different atmosphere from running at home.
Fun fact: The British thought that the platypus body sent back to England was a hoax. They thought someone had stitched together a duck and a beaver.
A lot of us Brits still consider the platypus to be a fraud. In fact, I have my doubts over many of these antipodean beasties.
The dwarven troll-slayer from warhammer could work as an example of someone multi-classing into barbarian.
They were happily going about their dwarfy business - caravan guard, merchant, clanlord, whatever - when some terrible event happened that they feel responsible for. They cannot live with the shame so they shave their hair into a mohican and go off in search of certain death by throwing themselves in a wild frenzy into fights with the biggest monsters they can find.
Hey presto, instant barbarian.
My personal view is that constraints are a big spur to creativity. If I'm given a set of criteria and told to make something cool that fits them, I find that a much more invigorating challenge than being given a blank canvas.
To be interesting, you can't go for the obvious. If you design a ranger archetype because it's the class that fits the setting best, well, it better be a really interesting take on a ranger because that's what everyone was thinking already. I think that is part of the test this round. Can you deliver something that no one else would have thought of?
This is a hobby/industry filled with creative people. It's why we give our precious time to it. So, while a well written archetype that fits a classic theme is good to have (Lonesome Rider), it's the interesting and unusual ideas that are worth their weight in gold (Huckster). Avoiding the trap of falling into stereotypes is a key part of this contest and setting restrictions in this way tests that.
I'll throw in my congratulations here too. There was some great work in that round and those who didn't make can feel unlucky they came across such a high standard. I think most of you would have had a decent shot any other year. Good job all round.
It really hots up now. The monster round is a real test of creativity, hard math and technical polish. Template Fu could hit this round hard.
Can't wait to see what you all come up with. Good luck!
The eight I voted for were:
I thought it was a very strong round. It's a tough challenge. Some nailed the mechanics, others were strong on flavour, some managed both. There were others I would have liked to have voted for, but I ran out of votes.
I had nine definites and a big list of maybes by the time I'd gone through them all. Outsea Delver was the one definite that missed out at the last - sorry Michael!
Congratulations Jobe on making the Top 32!
This is simple but effective. The grapple quality on an arrow is neat and fits the theme nicely. You can see it working for drow slavers in particular. Climbing the spider silk is also very nice. This is for playing the game, not for esoteric hypothetical situations which almost never come up. This quiver will see use and will be super cool every time.
The description of the quiver gripping on to its wearer is the stand out line for me though. That is gross and creepy and I want to see a player's face when that happens for the first time. Disgusting. Great job!
Congratulations Mark on making the Top 32!
This is great. Beautifully written and to a very tight theme. The visuals are very nice.
I really like the way you've played with channel energy, especially the potential for sabotaging one's opponents channels. That is a very unusual mechanic and an effective one.
I agree that it may be underpriced, but that's not a massive problem.
All in all, this is definitely one of my favourites. Well done!
Congratulations Clay on making the Top 32!
I have to say I was underwhelmed with the cloak until I reached the skin shedding. Now that is a superb idea. Very creative, perfectly fits the theme of the item and adds a very interesting angle to game play. Very nice work.
The other stuff is good but not great, although the imagery is very nice. Attention to detail on the template let you down a bit too, although that's not a deal breaker.
That cloak-shedding though. That's a real winner. Well done!
Congratulations Joseph on making the Top 32!
I'll agree with the consensus that this is weird but cool. The fractured mirror creating 100s of reflections that come to life is a really creepy idea. It's comical yet horrific which is always a great combination.
The uses for the mirror are myriad (appropriately) and I can see players having great fun if they got their hands on one of these. That's the most important thing. I'm sure it would work at the table too. It may seem complicated (and I think you've made it sound complicated) but at heart it's a straightforward mechanic.
There are a number of technical things which don't quite add up (magic items shrink but weapons don't. What about magic weapons? If you're at 0 hit points you would be stable anyway) but you can be forgiven for that.
It's gonzo but very cool - great job!
Congratulations Christopher, on making the Top 32!
I've always been interested in ways to make Clerics feel more tied to their gods and less generic. I was a big fan of the old concept of spheres in second edition (when the idea of game balance was very different to now) and the generic Cleric spell list does little for me in that regard. So anything that plays to that desire to have Clerics really embody their patron's concerns is going to do well with me.
I really like the idea of swapping out domain powers but it feels too powerful to me. Maybe I need to check out the durations of powers, as limiting it to one round may be enough of a check, but instinctively it allows too much diversity of action. However, I don't think it's really overpowered so I'm not going to look at it too harshly.
There's a good idea here, in an area I like, so I'm interested to see what else you do. Good luck!
Congratulations Isaac on making the Top 32!
You've provided a very nicely written item here - good flavour and clear mechanics make for a great combination.
Some issues have been noted previously but I like that it's designed to allow low-level PCs to get an edge over incorporeal monsters. That's not something we've really seen before and it opens up new areas of play - inexperienced characters using every resource they have to combat spectral undead. A wet behind the ears party getting loaded up with Ethersnare Dust and setting off to brave a haunted crypt, wondering always if the dust will be enough to protect them, is a very nice concept.
Contrary to Wolfgang's thoughts on the matter, it's niche items that set off the most creative ideas for me. Something like this makes me want to come up with interesting ways to work it into a plot (as a GM) or a combat tactic (as a player). That's exactly what I want out of a superstar item. Well done!
Welcome back to the Top 32 Chris!
It's great to see you back here.
These are brilliant. One of, if not the best item this year.
The name is lovely, the writing is evocative and the uses of the item are clear and thought provoking. There are some many things you can do with these gloves. Alright, they're not the most useful item you could acquire but the most useful ones are often the most boring.
This is just fun, fun, fun.
Congratulations Landon on making the Top 32!
It's good to see a representative for the Brits make it through.
Firstly, excellent use of the word binnacle. It's not used enough!
There's some good atmosphere going on here. I love a good ghost ship. Ship of Horrors is one of my all time favourite modules, so this works well for me. I'm not sure about the Wayfinder as a driving force. I can see the attraction of using an iconic Pathfinder navigation tool, but the atmosphere of the PFS doesn't sit neatly with the ghost ship. I would have preferred something that had more of a horror feel to it, rather than high adventure.
Still, I like the combination of powers and I can see it making a dramatic appearance in a game.
Just thought I'd pop in to say congratulations to you all!
I like what you've done with the place. Ostentatious. Not like in my day. (Is that Hodge Podge? Who let him back in?)
I'm a bit late to the party, but I'm working on reviewing all your work to date. I like what I've seen so far. You're some talented people.
Good luck in the voting!
Congratulations Scott on making it to the Top 32 again!
It's the second paragraph that does it for me. The first paragraph is just a bunch of abilities that don't really stand out for me. Why would it grant a bonus to an eidolon's armour class? It's not bad by any means, it's just not doing a lot for me up to that point.
The leaves though, are superstar. They capture the conflict inherent in the druid class. Using, yet preserving, nature's resources should be a constant struggle for every druid (where do they get those wooden shields from). The daily harvest of the tree tokens is a joyous moment for the druid, yet whenever she uses the power of the crown to protect the natural world, it is diminished and will never return to its former state.
That's beautiful man...
Congratulations Guy on making the Top 32!
I really like this item. Mostly, anyway. The image is bizarre but very evocative and you can immediately see a villainous sewer-king type character traveling around with his rat swarm. Very nice.
I like the water-walking and I love the rats' valiant attempt to save their master if he goes down. That's the image that sticks with me the most and prevents it feeling like a 'bad guys only' item. Great job.
I don't quite get the effect of ignoring 15 feet of difficult terrain on land, though. I can see that the rats are meant to be carrying the master around, but why can they only do 15 feet? Do they get tired?
Tiny nit-pick - The boots are 'often mistaken for large rats when not worn'. By whom? You should be describing them, not the response to them by an indeterminate observer. 'These boots look like large rats when not worn...'
Over all, this is a super entry. Creative, fun and creepy. A great combination. Well done!