The "you need to accept 6 - or maybe even 7 - people at a public table, regardless of its diminution of play" mentality is an artifact of the early days of PFS, when there was a kind of intersection between a desperation to grow the player-base and a lack of GMs.
PFS has reached a level of maturity in which it's just no longer necessary. I myself will *never* judge OR play at a 7-person table - it just ruins the game. I actually prefer 4-player tables myself (both for play and to GM), but current-year scenarios presume a 6-person table (for what it's worth). I'd actually love to see 4-player tables become the standard (Pathfinder itself assumed 4-player tables), but it's unlikely given the problem of table space and GM availability for gamedays and conventions.
That said, I do wish the campaign rules would be amended to explicitly "permit" GMs to specify table size; it's time for the campaign to grow in play quality rather than player quantity. The scenarios have been excellent in Years 4 and (now) 5, but it's frequently impossible to follow or enjoy the story arcs given the "busyness" of a 6-player table, especially under a time limit.
A player at a 6-table has about 34 minutes of total actual playtime in a 4-hour slot; it's no wonder that eyes wander to tablets and books for much of the scenario, missing out on snippets of explication!
From page 24 of the
He can have access to resurrection as soon as he has a 13th level character. It's a nice thing for a retired character to do!
I can't see any reason it wouldn't be allowed.
I suppose if the first PC is listed as "dead" - that is, the GM entered the table and clicked "dead" for the PC - you'd want the GM to edit the table report to remove the "dead" notation, which may or may not be doable depending on whether it was a con, a GM you know, a GM who no longer plays PFS, or whatever, but it's kind of a neat idea. Certainly it adds a dimension to the resurrected character!
As for his PFS number, it would just be the same (per GM adjustment mentioned above), and he'd just sort of dust-off and be ready to roll in a somewhat changed (some factions are gone and so on) world.
GM credits are fuel for theory-crafted characters you'd otherwise not play OR would be too painful to level to the point at which they become "interesting".
Let your *real* characters level organically, so you can savor them.
Eventually you'll have a list of scenarios you just enjoy running again and again (and thus won't get chronicles for), and "too many credits" will diminish as a problem!
Patrick Harris @ MU wrote:
You need to have a look at the Legend of the Five Rings organized-play campaign, Sprit of Bushido: plenty of role-playing-only scenarios.
And you can absolutely die in them!... so they're challenging ;)
Eric Saxon wrote:
You can indeed get a ghost touch amulet without an initial +1.
A wraith doesn't have DR/magic; you just need magic weapons to hit it because it's incorporeal. A ghost touch amulet is all you need to hit it for full damage.
Wights are not incorporeal, and don't have DR/magic. You can hit a wight with anything.
Now, in cases of enemies with DR/magic, you do need an actual enhancement bonus (+1 or better) to bypass DR; your amulet will not bypass this DR (as it has no enhancement bonus). So, if there were some kind of extra special wraith with DR/magic, your amulet would allow you to hit it, but you wouldn't bypass DR/magic, so you'd do your full damage minus whatever the DR value is.
So a super-wraith with DR 10/magic (yikes!): you smack it with your might, ghost-touching fist, rolling 17 damage, and it would take 7.
Steven Huffstutler wrote:
I hear this argument all the time, and I beg to differ.
Which is more interesting:
"The BBEG got hit with a sword and died, like has happened literally thousands of times"
"So, we met the BBEG, and I actually managed to magic jar him... I had him coup de gras himself! It was awesome."
Which are people more likely to mention as a "you wouldn't believe what happened the other day" anecdote?
If you have a cool schtick, use it - more importantly, if you're GMing someone with a cool schtick, let THEM use it.
Playing a fey bloodline sorcerer, it has been INCREDIBLY common for GMs to just flat-out refuse to let spells of mine work, because they would resolve the encounter in an "un-fun" way... several of these have been four-star GMs, incidentally (just the other day, a GM even gleefully admitted he'd had an enemy autosucceed versus my quickened DC 32 hold monster... wow, nice, thanks)
Guess what happened to every monster who was ever "saved" from my sorcerer by GM cheating - they got killed with a sword! Isn't that unique? I'm certainly happy the narrative could be so greatly strengthened by having them get Killed by a Sword, rather than suffocated, or transformed into my dominated minion. I'm not bitter, I assure you.
Bit of theory: when a game plays out, it forms a digraph of cause-and-effect linkages. This can be simple (GM-forced linear narrative) or complex (GM allows fully complex character interactions with game elements). Complex things are prettier, more interesting. The best play is always for players to PLAY, and for judges to JUDGE... when the players hold back, and the judges build walls, the game suffers.
I really like HeroLab - it's good fun to just mess around with it creating characters, and versions of characters, and just generally playing with builds - during a flight or a dull meeting.
That said, I AM very familiar with the actual game rules, so I can spot errors in Hero lab (they aren't many or often, but they do occur), and then I can tweak files to workaround. Especially when a character gets into high levels, do NOT assume everything is accurate. It's still a very handy tool, though, both for building and running characters.
Kezzie Redlioness wrote:
Yep - I have pretty much all the Paizo flip maps, and I store them flat in an artists portfolio; I bring it too all my game days (whether I'm GMing or not!) in case GMs can use them.
One of the things I've found in playing PFS is that the community share materials pretty readily.
(I ran a table of Curse of the Riven Sky at a local Atlanta game day and posted to our forum for everyone to bring ALL their large humanoid and giant minis... quite a haul, and great for some of the huge encounters!)
Kyle Baird wrote:
One sign of a great player is when they make a really "powerful" character but choose to only exercise that power when the party needs it most.
That's what I call "good gaming citizenship".
The other aspect of good gaming citizenship is the converse: actually being able to do something to help the party when it's needed!
Kyle Baird wrote:
Yes, that's true...
Kyle Baird wrote:
I agree with this, and I think any "good" GM will as well... the problem is that as availability of "cheese" grows, there's more and more of the latter issue.
So either GMs need to re-imagine their role ("I'm facilitating access to chronicles') - in which case it needs to be "a rule" - OR... something else needs to happen.
(For the record, I'd LOVE it if PFS could trust its GMs enough to provide them leeway to adapt a table more to greater or lesser challenges - not on the fly (cheating), but at least in advance when one knows who's playing. Yes, it's hard at cons, but it could work for local game days and the like.)
Really, it just feels like late-phase Living Greyhawk to me (after all the crazy 3.5 splatbooks). My CRB is worn out enough as it is... I'm ready for the next one :P
I think part of it, as well, is the advent of the sort of implied "TPK Badge" - the "dangerous" GMs are accorded a certain respect (especially on the forums, but I see it in gaming communities as well). It creates a pressure to be a "challenging GM" right at the same time PCs are getting stronger relative to reasonable scenario challenges: it generates a certain anti-player response.
I'll certainly admit to having a "killer GM" reputation, so I'm not exclusively demonizing PFS "GM culture"; I just see a worrisome trend which I feel should be addressed!
("Addressed" means "in the guide")
Kyle Baird wrote:
Certainly it applies to the boards, as well as the PFS facebook group (where there is a 60-reply thread discussing whether a GM is free to ban archetypes he doesn't like from his table - I say NO! (duh), but many support the idea.)
I've encountered it a LOT in-play, playing a fey-bloodline sorcerer who indulges in a good bit of planar binding (two hated things in one PC). I can't even count the complaints and criticism which begin as soon as I sit at a table (often cloaked in "good nature"), the willful ignoring of failed saves ("you make the game un-fun"), and deliberate misinterpretation of planar binding: nerfing at every turn.
Certainly, it tempts one to just roll a vanilla fighter and kill things "honestly".
Of course, there's always been an asymmetric dislike for control over striking (friends who play witches have actually had GMs ask them not to use the sleep hex), while no one ever asks the barbarian to please don't power attack).
It does seem to be worsening as a function of power creep, however.
Chalk Microbe wrote:
You know what's a really annoying class power? Hitting something hard with a sword and making it die. That definitely trumps misfortune every time.
Lately, there's a very, very strong "anti-player" theme occurring in Pathfinder Society; it's actually pretty easy to understand - it's a reflexive counter to the (considerable) power creep which has entered the game.
I know I CAN get annoyed as a GM when I've spent an hour prepping a complex fight, only to have it reduced to ashes in a round or two; certainly, it can even be tempting to have some key NPCs suddenly have evasion, or twice the hit points. Certainly, there have been many threads lately on aspects of "GM cheating" in the guise of "making the game fun".
It doesn't, especially for those who've built effective (overly-effective, perhaps) characters.
It's actually on the verge of becoming a fairly serious problem, this squaring-off of GM versus player.
Frankly, this is probably a pretty good indicator that it's time for a new Pathfinder edition; barring that, it probably needs to be codified in the Organized Play rules that the GM is *strictly* forbidden from running scenarios other than as-written, that all rolls be conducted in the open, and that "Rule Zero" is suspended. That is, the GM becomes a facilitator of play, not a judge. Personally, I don't like such an approach.
(It's amusing to see concerns about *player* cheating in this thread, when it's *GM* cheating that's becoming a serious problem).
Another possibility is to concede that PFS has grown to a point where consolidating the player base and working for better campaign quality (which we've seen in scenarios in years 4 & 5) rather than continuing to recklessly *grow* the campaign, and to begin having some real policing of judges. Certainly, there should be selection criteria beyond "I'll GM!"; I know I've had more than one stunningly awful PFS experience (usually at cons, where it's most expensive) because of a terrible and/or incompetent judge.
And of course the third option is a rules v2.0, though that just sets the stage for power creep v2.0 in 3-4 years.
BUT - in the near term - GMs need to stop being worried about winning; it's just not going to happen in current PFS.
If they're "invested" in the campaign, they'll be interested in it.
Make sure you have recurrent NPCs the characters have relationships with - allies, enemies (not necessarily "kill on sight" enemies, but rival adventurers, and unfriendly noble, etc), family, romantic interests, etc. Occasionally, these people need rescue (maybe even the enemies!)
Let them accumulate honors or properties in the campaign world - clearing a dungeon and them improving it as a base (and maybe eventually being granted lands by a grateful king) is a classic "hook" (and leads to adventures, as well).
Be sure players detail their character backgrounds, and draw ideas (such as NPCs) from there to connect PCs to the world more securely.
In general, if the characters have an impact on the world, and vice versa, they'll be drawn into the narrative.
More of an action economy thing.
I'd say though that archers are NOT broken, but that ranged attacks in *conjunction* with certain things like paladin smiting or inquisitor bane *can* be quite overpowered *because* of action economy, if built "correctly".
This is exacerbated by the fact that GMs seldom do anything to counter ranged attackers (being busy with the melee PCs), so that fairly often, a ranged-PC will leave the table (i) totally unscathed and (ii) having racked up more kills than anyone.
(I've certainly experienced this with my 11th level archer ranger (PFS) and my 10th lvl ranged inquisitor (home game) quite often.)
So it gives the appearance of "broken" at times...
No, not "optimize", but it IS necessary to be "well-built". You need to actually be able to pull your own weight.
Just the other day, I had the most frustrating imaginable experience playing The Hellknight's Feast.
We were playing low-tier (5-6), and I was actually playing down with my level 9 "control" wizard (who is very effectively built). THis was at a game day, though, and little did I know I was sitting down at a table with four other players who would soon prove essentially unable to contribute, and that I would be trying to "solo" the scenario... which didn't go well, given my lack of direct damage (control, right?)
No spoilers, but those familiar with the scenario? shudder at the following:
Two of the characters - a level 5 and a level SEVEN - didn't have magic weapons!
No one had any real protections against enchantment, and had poor will saves to boot (myself excepted).
The inquisitor had a 10 constitution, extra-level points in skills, and no Toughness feat. Like glass.
It was a real head-shaker. Obviously, we didn't succeed (and I was worried my wizard would make it a cake walk! Hah!), mostly because of the total inability of the other four party members to do anything at all.
So: optimum? No. Good? Yes... and more so than for previous years.
We've all experienced this... you're walking along, not even really actively thinking about something, and suddenly some things come together in your head (maybe even a problem from years ago) in a whoosh of "Oh!"
The Eureka Moment.
(In fact, you just leveled to a multiple of four... and boosted to the next even-numbered Intelligence score. Cool, eh?)
I guess my first thought is: why bother?
I mean, if you're running an AP, and the players' characters have no chance of playing *outside* of the AP... then how is that PFS (which is a shared, organized campaign). In fact, you're imposing PFS restrictions (presumably) on them needlessly (because there's no need to balance things in terms of a large, organized-play environment!)
The only thing it would achieve is allowing the GM to cash in home-game play for star credits!
(I mean, in my home game, we're running Legacy of Fire, with home game houserules, etc... it's just a home game! Why complicate it needlessly with chronicles and so on?)
It only matters if you're running it an a convention setting (obviously).
I always prefer running and playing modules in a home setting, where one can take as long as one likes.
Cult of the Ebon Destroyers, Curse of the Riven Sky, and Tomb of the Iron Medusa are all scenarios which really require two full days (20ish hours) to run without heavy editing; Realm of the Fellnight Queen *can* take a long time as well (I'd like to expand it into a mini-campaign someday!)
Probably the only high-level module (9+) which can be run in a day (10-12 hours) is Academy of Secrets.
Most of the low level modules can be run in a solid day (9-12 hours), though some may require a bit of tweaking by the GM. My favorite is probably Feast of Ravenmoor.
In theory, though, they should be run in three standard gaming slots (so, 12 hours with two breaks), since they reward 3 xp and triple rewards-in-general.
Now, I've run some of the longer scenarios in convention settings - notably "Curse of the Riven Sky" and "Cult of the Ebon Destroyers" - and I edited out about 1/3 of the material from each module, basically streamlining them to preserve plot and story flow. You can excise "travel", and any clear resource-soak encounters (like wandering monsters or certain thug encounters not germain to the story line). Really, it's a judgement call by the GM.
I've been very disappointed as a player when I've played in modules during conventions, only to have time called before completing it, because the GM just ran it as written; this is a HUGE disservice to the players, and it's very important that the GM arrange for the characters to get to the resolution of the story within allotted time. When I played Cult of the Ebon Destroyers, our GM called it before we got to the actual main part of the module (the cult!) - contrite, he awarded full rewards, but still...
(As a GM I *have* finished Cult of the Ebon Destroyers in 9 hours, but it was an effective TPK... so there's always *that* method of running on-time, as well!)
That's an option, but it can be hard in the big soup of players and GMs which is PFS (especially in convention settings).
Although my sorceress is pretty nasty, I actually did go through the retirement arc with a highly non-optimized party, and while at times frustrating, it was probably a lot more memorable and fun than it would have been otherwise (it took us 50 hours of play time to get through it).
On the other hand, I played through Siege of the Diamond City (lvl 14-15) with the most cracked-out group imaginable, and we just steamrolled it (typically dishing out 1000+ hp damage per round as a party, with single characters at times scoring full attacks for north of 500 damage), pretty much reducing even the most "difficult" encounters to 1 or 2 rounds of combat. It was FUN, but it was certainly not challenging at all (and of course "fun" and "challenging" ARE two different, and not necessarily parallel, aspects of gaming).
It's a pretty old problem with organized play - do you write for the optimizers? for the average player? for the newbie? There's no way to provide a consistent and reasonable challenge across the board at this point.
Well, PFS is in a stage of "maturity" right now (year 5), and there has been a lot of supplement power creep; the same thing happened with Living Greyhawk (3.5) around year 5 or so.
As for the gunslinger, a couple of things:
First, the glabrezu has knowledge(local) +18 - it's worth giving it a roll to see what he might know about the Pathfinders, and to act accordingly.
Second, I'm *guessing* he argued that his clear-spindle-slotted wayfinder makes him immune to stun (it's a compulsion), which is not accurate - it only wards against ongoing control (like dominate).
Avoiding the AoO I'm guessing was courtesy of the "Grace" spell (or whatever it's called, for avoiding AoOs) - I don't recall the particulars of the spell offhand but it's worth reviewing the particulars, especially whether it's subject to SR (I'm just too busy to look it up).
It is a far, far easier scenario than it used to be. The Night Hag encounter has never worked (every party detects evil); why sneaky beings such as Night Hags don't have nondetection as a spell-like ability, I'll never know (they do in my home campaign; succubi too.)
You *can* get the drop on a party with a glabrezu if it's veiled (I like a huge tree, and I just draw several on the map), so long as no one is running true seeing or the like - it can set things up (reverse gravity, stun, etc) with SLAs before revealing itself, so it can gain a tactical advantage. As soon as they can get to it, though, there's no way it's lasting long.
I suppose one could complicate the encounter further by having the NPCs in the house get involved just as the battle with the glabrezu makes the PCs vulnerable.
I keep seeing this argument about "what's good for Paizo/PFS".
I don't see how that's a factor *at all*. When I run or play PFS, the *last* thing on my mind is "how does this help Paizo's profitability?"
I think it's perfectly fine for players and GMs to simply enjoy the game with little or no regard given to its "marketing function"!
Well, as a player of enchanters... the spell confers "practical", not "actual", immunity from compulsion.
Here's what the spell explicitly says about charm and compulsion: "While under the effects of this spell, the target is immune to any new attempts to possess or exercise mental control over the target."
So the target isn't immune to the spell, but he is immune to the spell effect. In other words, he still need to save (at +2 resistance) versus, say, dominate person, and he might well fail this save, but the caster (succubus, vampire, etc) won't actually be able to exercise control.
It's an important distinction since dominate person has a longer duration than protection from evil, and it also addresses the problem of a 1st level abjuration trumping a 5th level enchantment - it's really a temporary suppression.
So a succubus accompanied by a babau demon (I can think of at least one PFS scneario offhand with such an arrangement) might dominate a fighter, realize she can't actually exert control, order the babau to target protection from evil with a dispel magic, thus gaining control if the protection is indeed dispelled.
It's still a terrific abjurant for hard-hitting BDFs, though!
I think it's worth noting here - drawing off the pick-crit example - that "my 1st level character was critted for 40 damage!" DOES make kind of a cool gamer story, once the sadness has worn off :)
Let's admit it: we ALL have a "crit story" - some happy, some sad - or two! It's these unexpected events that make the game memorable.
(Living Greyhawk, Year 1 (about 12 years ago?), my 5th level fighter, Torvald: party is fighting an Osylith (Bone Devil), a totally overpowered encounter. Everyone but Torvald has dropped, and Torvald has ONE hit point left - TPK in immanent. So Torvald's turn comes, and I decide to go for broke: FULL power attack (it worked differently in 3.0), two handed with my greatsword, and I won't kill it anyway (DR) UNLESS I crit. So I look at the other players, announce "I need a 19 or 20) - and *roll a nat 20*. I confirm, boom, tons of damage, well over DR, Bone Devil dies, TPK averted. I remember it 12 years later!... and the same character was one-shot from a crit by a power-attacking hill giant some time later, for about 130 points of damage. I remember that too!)
It's totally outrageous and unacceptable for a GM to actually bend rules "to kill PCs".
Frankly, it's akin to theft - a PC has time investment, which has actual dollar value. A 5th level PC (which could potentially die unrecoverably), for example, represents 48-60 hours of playtime alone: valued according to average US wages (about $25/hour), that PC is worth $1200-$1500, not even including development time.
Moreover, at a con, killing characters can result in missed slots ("I lost my character!") and other disruptions - certainly, unavoidable at times (characters DO die, even at cons), but to deliberately exacerbate it is unforgivable.
It seems as though this GM (whoever it is) is well-known for these kinds of antics; frankly, he should be banned from running games (and this highlights the downside to judge rewards such as free attendence and accomodations at conventions - it can bring some fairly inept judges out of the woodwork.)
There's really no good guideline for the bonuses, true; for PFS purposes, a straight roll is probably the best policy (I've never been given a bonus, even when I've charmed the outsider.)
"No diplomacy" is how the spell works, anyway; for PFS purposes, I think "if binding ends, it leaves" is probably a good policy, though, again, most outsiders can't return home without help.
That said - as GM - if I dispel a binding, I'm definitely claiming the outsider for myself!
If one DID want to develop a system for applying bonuses per the spell text (up to +6), one could set the following conditions for them (at +1 each):
So a neutral caster binding an akhana aeon for purposes of raising a fallen companion, providing something interesting (lore, perhaps) and the promise of uncovering more, and in which it's, say, a 15th level caster executing the binding... that would add up to +5.
It's certainly easier to simply rely on a straight roll, though.
I see your point, but it's a VERY slippery slope.
It's a common sales technique - make something seem extra-special in the shop, even if that's not necessarily reflective of the reality of the product. Shoes interiors feel extra-cushiony, towels super-soft, and a car interior's "new car smell" enhanced to promote the "close". Never mind that the shoes interior will be crushed with use, the towels will shed a ton of lint on first laundering, and so on.
Soft-balling scenarios at a con as a "lure" isn't something I'd be comfortable with as a GM!
I realize that's not the intent, but I just think it's best to give even new players a straightforward play experience.
No - if it's his third death he's clearly not having a fit at dying - but at it's at least time for a good sit-down to talk about building/playing a character.
I do think that sometimes there's not enough time/patience with new players in terms of just playing the game. It's probably a good practice for a GM to ask if there are any new players at the table, and they can sit with an experienced player who can sort of mentor them during the session (the GM is otherwise engaged). I can almost advocate such a practice being a "rule" in the Guide, except on can't always guarantee there's an experienced player at the table.
I have on occasion run entire tables of new players, and as a GM I don't "softball", but I DO go over tactical, spell, and other options facing them in a turn. I also turn the roleplaying *up* and the roll-playing *down* a bit - again, not soft-balling or "cheating", but more like... adjusting the sliders? New-player tables are usually a lot of fun if the GM knows before hand.
I just don't think new players are that delicate... or if they are, good riddance!
Possibly if the player was a small child? My experience in PFS is that the typical player is 30+, and usually confront character death with something between amusement and philosophical consideration.
I can think of TWO "newish" players who got petulant about character deaths in all the time I've GMed PFS (granted, I'm no four-star, but I've still run 55 or so tables). It's simply not a "problem".
Planar Binding in PFS. A few questions all in your opinion, I'd like to get an idea for how we run this "'round here".
It's an incredibly misunderstood spell, in spite of a fairly straightforward procedure described in the spell text. The key thing is to realize this spell is a binding - it's in no way voluntary - and while one is free to "make a deal", it's not necessary.
Who cares? It's a legal spell. If a GM "doesn't like it", he can find another game to run. Maybe one with no sleep hexes, either.
Interesting question. Short answer - you can certainly always try diplomacy with a sentient being which is willing to listen to you. That said, again, this is a binding - you've forcibly yanked an outsider from its home plane and into a trap. The opposed charisma check is NOT a negotiation - it's the caster forcing his will of personality on the outsider to subvert its will into his service.
But let's say we've just dragged an outsider into our trap, and we decide to try diplomacy in lieu of completing the binding; certainly, starting attitude is going to be hostile, and even if we manage an attitude change, we haven't bound our quarry. He's a free agent, and that's dangerous.
Now, let's consider that we're going to complete our binding, but we decide to chat a bit - certainly, I can see a case for using diplomacy to possibly gain up to a +6 bonus on the opposed check (the spell text makes provisions for this). I myself am partial to casting charm monster on the trapped outsider, which conveniently has the same duration as the binding itself. Regardless, the binding still requires the opposed charisma check.
That depends. If it's a simple outsider like an elemental, probably it's fine to just let the character run it; if it's something tricky (a glabrezu, say), I think it should be run as an NPC. The player can give direction (it's bound), but this is no summoned creature, and some outsiders will certainly seek to subvert unclear orders.
Well, it simply wasn't run correctly. Again, once bound, it's bound - it simply has no choice to leave. Often, GMs are thinking of planar ally, a very different cleric spell. A bound Movanic deva is enslaved, and can even be forced to do terrible things (this would be a highly evil act, obviously). Is the spell bad form? Not if the player and GM understand it. Does diplomacy work? As mentioned before, not in the way it was used here.
Well, I've used it many times. It's actually a very fun spell for the whole table if used correctly (a bound outsider is a role-playing opportunity for the GM AND player). I've bound a huge air elemental, an erinyes, a kolyarut inevitable (loads of comedic fun for GM John Compton),an efreet, a movanic deva, and a bebelith. In the cases of the elemental and the bebelith, I ran them (they're pretty much just heavies), while the GM ran the others. I was modest in my use of the spell (well, except perhaps the efreet, which I bound for its wishes). I wanted to use it in the Siege of the Diamond City (lvl 14-15), but the GM was going to vacate the table for 10 minutes if I did (the spell casting time) and disallowed it's being pre-cast (all reasonable demands considering the timed nature of the event).
I will invoke here an important principle for users of game-changing magic (wishes, bindings and so on) - one should make an effort to practice what I call "good gaming citizenship": I concede that my sorcerer can completely overpower pretty much any challenge, especially given the general lack of time constraints in modules, but I choose not to. Just because one can, doesn't mean one should. Planar binding can be very, very easily abused (efreet); just don't do so and it's a fun, flavorful (and still powerful) spell.
A good GM takes what the players bring to the table and finds creative ways to use and/or subvert in within the rules.
I'll use John Compton as the example. He GMed my retirement arc, and before me I don't think had run into planar binding much as a PFS GM. In the first scenario, he simply had me run my bound huge air elemental like an AC. In the second, he got more involved (I bound an erinyes), and found a way to work it into the scenario storyline. In the third, I bound a kolyarut inevitable, and by this time he was just having loads of fun playing what amounts to a Terminator (often to my amused chagrin). There was no time for me to bind anything in the fourth. These servants were useful (mostly), powerful, and memorable.
One GM tip for running bindings at your table from MY (experienced player) perspective has to include this: planar binding can be dispelled. It's a magical binding, and it has a duration - ergo, susceptible to dispel magic and greater dispel magic. An enemy caster who sees an outsider (k:planes) in service to another caster (k:arcana, arcane sight, spellcraft, sense motive, etc) could certainly target planar binding with a dispel. Probably this will yield a not-too-friendly outsider standing next to a PC.
Another thing to consider: most outsiders have no way of returning home. Unless the PC is dismissing, banishing, or otherwise plane-shifting an outsider home at the end of the spell. So, when the binding expires, there's a free outsider on the loose. This certainly gives the GM something to consider (just letting a free glabrezu go off rampaging in the countryside might be an evil act?) I do think it's fair to ask how a PC plans on handling the "mess" at scenario's end!
It's just not necessary.
I think if you were to collect data, you'd discover that crit-one-shots at first level aren't a "problem". They're just noticeable - it's a matter of selective perception.
I have 10 PFS characters, ranging in level from 1 to 16 (and including four others north of 9th level), and I've only ever died once, and it was completely my fault (trying to tumble around a glabrezu into flank - I'd calculated the odds, knew it was a bad idea, and did it anyway). Things just aren't that dangerous.
Here's what a level 1 party does when facing an enemy with a greataxe - as an alternative to nerfing the scenario - approach with caution! Keep at distance, use ranged attacks, have a druid cast entangle, and so on. Tactics based on facing a high-threat melee combatant.
It simply never necessary to cheat.
The principle of gaming economy: don't fix what isn't broken.
IF the day ever comes that player are being prevented en masse from reaching second level because scenarios are just too dangerous, THEN there's a problem needing to be solved. Not the case currently.
If I softball at all, it's more likely to be in that delicate level where you've invested some time in the character, but he's still low enough level that he can't afford a raise dead, and doesn't yet have the PA for is (sort of around 3rd level I guess); that's the main "unrecoverable loss" zone in PFS.
Even then, I don't "softball" per se - I just decide the character is dropped to a point or two from death (I keep track of character damage), and give his party the option of saving them. Still, I won't invoke full-on deus ex machina: I TPKed a table of Feat of Ravenmoor recently, with some unrecoverable deaths. Sad.
As for beginning tables, I don't worry about it - there's little time investment in the characters at that time, so a reroll (maybe they learned a lesson?) is in order. Let the chips fall where they may. Crits? - that's why you take the Toughness feat at 1st level if you're squishy!
Here's my concern about "GM cheating": Pathfinder is a game. That has an actual technical meaning - a game requires both sides to operate under constraints: that is, both player and judge must be constrained by rules; we understand this, which is why we refer to GM cheating when we discuss this. As soon as the GM stops following the rules, Pathfinder ceases to be a game and becomes simple exposure to the GM's forced narrative; this, I feel, is a disservice to players. Somewhat philosophical, perhaps, but that's my position.
(This is why "narrativist" GMs - GMs who cheat "to make the scenario fun" - are so terrible. This category includes GMs who cheat to prevent slumber hexes from working on the BBEG and so on; playing a fey-bloodline sorcerer, I've encountered this GM a LOT, flat-out cheating to prevent my spells from making the game "un-fun".)
The dice are there for a reason: use them!
Just echoing the others, but there's almost no more terrible multiclass than what you're planning. If I had a choice as a fellow player, I'd never allow one in my adventuring party.
Be a pure wizard and hire a paladin bodyguard might be a alternative!
Or... ask your DM if you can play an ettin, one head is a wizard, the other is a paladin ;)
I haven't been there in a little while, but offhand I'd say most of the gaming in Manila is card gaming (Legend of the Five Rings is popular, I know) - that might be the best entree for someone trying to get some PFS going.
As for location, I'd say Ermita/Malate is more likely (proximity to the university), though Makati has some nice venues (like Neutral Grounds).
Or, better, the DM can simply not allow something "insane" - such as letting one wish for feats - into the game in the first place.
It's possible that there's an actual *reason* why one cannot wish for feats in the actual game rules?
I think the idea of granted feats is fine (and it can be a way for a GM and player to help the player realize a character concept); as both a player and a GM, I've been involved in campaigns in which players were granted something very powerful (like a feat, or a template), because it made sense gamewise - THAT is where the GM intervenes in his campaign's ppwer level.
A GM who changes a rule in his game, get mad when a player benefits in an unexpected way, and then essentially personally attacks the player when he does so... is a BAD GM.
Allowing players to wish for feats - let's face it - is a pretty poor GM decision, even if it looks innocuous on the surface.
If I were a GM, and a player approached me with this idea, here's what I might do: create some spells which *replicate* feats - determine their level and duration in a balanced way (and indeed there are some spells out there which do this already, so it's a good guideline) - and then a wish spell could be used per rules to duplicate those spells. I mean, certainly there are spells "out there" which mankind doesn't yet know about, accessible only through wish-magic.
Better, I might allow my players to consider the source of this power, so they might research these spells (freeing them from the need for using dangerous wish-magic); they could then even craft suitable items to "grant" feats in a permanent manner.
(A ring of expanded arcana would be very potent, for example, but it's at least balanced by restrictions on wearing magic rings.)
You can even spin a whole theory of wishcraft from this (wish magic accesses other forgotten or undiscovered "spells", and its masters (djinnis and the like) jealously guard it).
So - yes, wishes can grant players access to feats, but only in a very balanced way because the balance itself is in the game, not via random GM fiat. THAT can work.
If my GM allowed my sorcerer to use wish spells to gain feats, he'd quickly regret it.
I'd planar bind an Efreet each morning (just one - no need to be greedy!), compelling it to grant me three wishes. Nothing fancy, of course - just feats!
Over a series of days and weeks, then, I'd gain expanded arcana three times daily, until I had ALL arcane spells.
After that, I'd probably just grab all the bloodlines with vast multiple wishes for eldritch heritage.
I'd finally be able to amp up my use of rays (after all, I have all the ray spells!): point blank and precise shot, improved precise (if I have the BAB... maybe not yet), improved critical, and so on.
Actually, I could just tally the sum total of feats available in the game which I can qualify for, divide it by three, and that's how many Efreet I need to bind (they need a nat 20 to resist the calling, and basically have no hope of beating me in an opposed charisma check)... so, that many days, really.
Oh, and this costs me NOTHING, because Efreet grant wishes as a spell-like ability, AND they're bound, not allies. Yay!
So... NO, it's not a good idea to allow wishes for feats.
I've gotten to the point where I'm always disappointed if I don't have a good bard in the party - a really good group basically acts as a force multiplier for the bard's buffs. That could be said about support classes in general.
From a practical perspective, PFS tends not to reward support classes well (you really need a consistent group who all learn to work together). If you have a certain pool of people you tend to play with, it works much better.
As for the Chronicler, I do feel that in general it's better for a "home game", but IF you tend to play with the same group in PFS (a group which can learn to appreciate the PrC), it can work just as well.
In the more common pick-up style play of PFS, though, a lot of his/her abilities will be left on the table, I think.
I think you need to learn the actual game and get your nomenclature sorted out.
Animal companions are NOT NPCs - they are class features. A "power" your character has.
Summoned monsters are NOT NPCs, either - I suppose one could call it a "spell effect", but a summoned monster isn't the actual monster, just a manifestation of it. This is why summons vanish when they're killed (and why a summoned monster can't use it's innate summoning abilities).
Your whole attempt to create a legalistically-based trolling endeavor collapses under your lack of understanding of what an NPC is.
Here's an analogy to this proposal.
I decide to open a coffee shop.
I decide to provide, for my customers, bins of coffee beans, access to grinders, and use of pots so that they may select, grind, and brew coffees of their choice.
Naturally, I provide seating as well.
I don't really have anything that I can charge them for, because apparently mine is a Magical Free Coffeehouse?
Of course, if it's not actually "magical", it might not last long.
Everyone knows gamers hate paying for anything (there's a high expectation of socialism in gaming), but the truth is that (i) Paizo wants to be profitable, (ii) game development and production actually does cost money (because pesky developers like to be paid), and (iii) making the game "not free" actually does cull an undesirable element from the playerbase. Beyond that, PFS players are customers.
GM's actually are players, too, and while it may seem as though they're spoiled by ability to use the PRD, in fact they usually have considerable expenses in bringing games to the table (my Paizo maps alone cost over $500 in total). The GMs deserve to be able to use the PRD - they've earned it, both in investment in money and time. I have spent literally thousands on PFS (it cost me $50 just to print out scale maps for "Cult of the Ebon Destroyer" - I can only imagine the costs incurred by these GMs who bring 3-D terrains and such.)
(And of course, when the GM plays, he needs, again, to own all relevant materials.)
Really, there's nothing super-special here: as with all things, if you can't afford it, don't play!
(There seems to be a theme of incredible cheapness going on here lately).
So... don't use all the rules in the CRB; use only the ones which don't require a Bestiary. It's simple.
The CRB is the CORE rule book, not the "Universal" or "Comprehensive" rule book. It's the basics you need to play. Summoned monsters and familiars are hardly "basics"; the CRB offers spells which can bring forth things beyond the CRB, things which require the Bestiary.
You seem to be missing the Big Obvious here, which is just don't play someone who summons monsters if you don't have a Bestiary!
The danger - and this is somewhat philosophical, I suppose - with "fudging" by the GM is that the game ceases to be "a game" and becomes "the GM's forced narrative"... which is never as fun as playing a game.
So I am strenuously opposed to GM "fudging" - if a GM feels inclined to do this, it's in his or her players' best interest to roll openly.
I hardly ever use a screen, but I've started using one because it's nice to clip images and artwork on the front of it for players to see (like pictures of NPCs and so on) - in that sense it can *help* with immersion.
As for hiding dice rolls, I've never really bothered with that, though I don't particularly make an effort to "roll in the open", either.
As a player, I'm not particularly impressed when a GM rolls in the open, either.