|Paizo Pathfinder® Paizo Games|
|About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ|
My sorceress, Violetta, has some big ones: Staff of the Master (absolute must-have... how else do you quicken a 8th level spell?), Scarab of Protection (say no to level and con drain), and a Ring of Freedom of Movement (another no-brainer for a caster).
The BIG upcoming purchase (pending successful completion of "The Moonscar") will be a Tome of Leadership and Influence +5 at 137,500gp... that will give her a 35 charisma.
That said, I think for most characters, the little things (especially consumable) are actually a better investment than big-ticket items; I know my rogue (11th level) takes a more utility-belt approach to magic items, with good effect. He may have nothing over 8k gold (a ghost-touch +1 short sword).
Violetta is all about save-or-suck, so very intensive investment is more of a thing.
the David wrote:
Well, chocolate contains a caffeine isomer, theobromine, but still, good point!
Caffeine, drug of writers everywhere (with bourbon a close second...)
Golems, certainly, unless a wizard is specifically prepared to deal with them.
Anything the wizard can't actually target - like a mind blanked, greater invisible rogue (or just about anything else) would be a BIG problem for a wizard, especially if it can spring attack.
Wizards tend to dump strength, so strength-draining enemies are very dangerous for them.
So, I propose the mind blanked, greater invisible greater shadow rogue as well up in the ranks of wizard-killers...
Players actually being engaged in the scenario, thinking strategically, and going out-of-box should ALWAYS be rewarded.
For timers? I'd start it, but with a little more prep: for example, the victim isn't bound to the altar, but is struggling as he's being led up to it.
For missing stuff? This is a big issue with scrying and teleport. I'd probably either give hints that they should check out the areas they bypassed (maybe a history check to remember tales of hidden wealth here, or a wisdom check for a "nagging feeling"), OR I'd just have the treasure be in the final area. There's just no good reason why players who play "smart" should be penalized for it.
I know as a player of a diviner I've been at tables where I scouted with an arcane eye, or scryed, or whatever, and the GM basically said "well, if you do that, you'll bypass stuff", leading to the table deciding to deliberately NOT do the tactical thing (like teleporting ahead to a safe location further in), and instead to slog through dangers... THAT is metagaming of the worst sort ("let's farm stuff"). Better for the GM to go with it, and be creative about rewarding the players appropriately.
Probably the #1 competency as a GM is being able to improvise when players eschew the linearity of a scenario (and let's admit it, PFS scenarios as a whole are very linear).
As a player, I've always hated the kind of "hmmm, well let's figure out how you can bypass this challenge you're incapable of dealing with" mode of GM handholding. Failure IS an option!
There are so many things a group can do natively:
1. Certainly, they CAN hire an expert, if they're in a place where it's reasonable one exists, though any kind of secrecy is immediately out the window at that point (well, unless they kill the expert). I tend to think most Pathfinder missions are "secret", so I'm inclined to think this is not a very good option, unless...
2. ... those experts are some kind of follower (as in: purchased with prestige). I believe there's a scholar option?
3. One can also spend prestige to get a bonus of a skill check (+4?) One could certainly combine this with a follower's check. Again, the use of prestige implies that this assistance is on the down-low: they aren't just waltzing into Rent-a-Sage for a hireling, they're going through channels.
4. One can always summon or bind an outsider with knowledge skills: plenty of demons and devils are terrific academics!
5. Pathfinder Chronicles: those dusty Pathfinder stacks are there for a reason.
You can combine things: bind a demon, hand it a Pathfinder Chronicle, call in a favor for a +4, and have a scholar hireling assist it. A planar bound glabrezu (I didn't say it was wise to do this) could be rolling a +26 Knowledge: History. Cast fox's cunning on it for +28. Summon a lilend bard to serenade it with inspire competence and we're north of +30!
And this from a lunk-headed sorcerer.
All just a matter of creativity ;)
Here I go being all generous again...
Gender has no mechanical* benefit or penalty, really; it's as much a roleplaying detail as hair color or style of clothing. So - I'd say you could just declare it "changed" for role-playing reasons.
So: after so much devotion to Arshae, she grants the gender-change as a gift (or test?) to the PC.
I'm fine with it at my table!
*(I think maybe there is *one* feat which grants some small bonus to social checks versus opposite gender, but assuming absence of that feat, gender has no mechanical effect).
The encounter scale is so large that it frankly defies any conventional table size, at least in several cases.
The linnorm encounter, for example: the linnorm has no reason to confine itself to "a map". It would essentially just pick up one PC at a time, take him a mile away, kill him, then find the PCs again to rinse and repeat. It didn't quite work out that way, but we still had to basically abstract the scale (one idea is to use sets of d10s to track the x, y, and z coordinates of the PCs relative to some origin, and denote relative location on a "not to scale" mat).
As for running the module uncut: I'd definitely allot two days, especially if one wants to savor the roleplaying. I hope to do such a run eventually!
(The aforementioned 5 hour run is incomprehensible to me - even if each encounter ended in the surprise round, I'd expect it to run longer!)
I ran Curse of the Riven Sky in about 10-12 hours.
It is VERY combat intensive (potentially), and I had every statblock ready to go in Hero Lab (with hard copy backups), had minis counted out and ready, and in general was "ready to rock and roll" - I wanted it to be very fast-paced, unrelenting, and brutal (I was running a table of very experienced powergamers); it was also obvious that there was no way to run it in a day without editing. The many large combat were handled very, very efficiently.
I removed the extraneous satyr/dryad encounter entirely, and handled the blob invasion of the city via cinematic handwaving; the hill giant camp encounter, fortunately, played out diplomatically, so that was a matter of roleplaying (which can be more controllable timewise).
I think we did break for meals (rather than gorging at the game table), which is always advisable for long modules - I think the "lost time" is more than regained by refreshed, alert players.
Most key: everyone knew what they were doing. These were good, experienced players, and they paid attention to the table and were ready to go as soon as their turn came up. I had decided at the outset that I wanted the scenario to be brutal, so I pretty much poured the whole box of large minis on the table and rolled initiative as soon as they say down - blast had by all.
One encounter has a particularly variable outcome: the linnorm. Naturally - because I was going for *brutal* - they weren't going to escape it. They had some very useful countermeasures against flying creatures, however, and it actually was one of the less intense encounters - against a certain party, it could play out very long (and nasty and deadly), though. It *is* also easily avoided, and a GM tight on time could simply decide the party goes unnoticed.
So really, it comes down to three major plot points: protecting the cloud giant initially, dealing with the hill giant chief and his adviser, and the resolution in the cloud castle, with investigative links between them. If I ever run it again, I'll try to do so in a two-day run, so that the "center" of the scenario can play out more.
It's very fun, though!
More often than not, "expect rules variation" means "expect GM errors" :P
As the game becomes bigger and more complex, sometimes it just becomes impossible to actually *know* all of it: it's a bit like tax law.
I know I make incorrect calls from time-to-time. It's really up to the players to understand how their abilities works, to be able to cite the source, and to have the source available; it's up to the GM not to get all egoistic when a player calls him out on a rule and has the materials to clarify an incorrect ruling.
As a GM, I value speed of play, and I also value accuracy of rulings; really, it's an optimization problem between these two warring features of "a good game": when a game simply halts in its tracks as rules are looked up, this is very bad, but it's also very bad when a player is penalized (or worse, killed) because a judge makes an incorrect rules decision.
So, really, the problem of "table variation" comes down to preparedness, as much on the part of the players as the GMs.
This thread has been discussed to death, so there's probably little to offer at this point, but I do have a couple of comments.
(i) There's a lot of very pompous declaration that "it's a social game". Well, it's not, really. It IS a role-playing game which is played in a social setting, but that's a bit different from saying it's a "social game". There's no special "duty" in making sure other players have fun; rather, it's really more effective to make sure *you* have fun. If you're doing that, and you conduct yourself in a manner which is respectful to other players (for example, not telling them how to play their characters, which seems to be the prevailing sentiment here), then that's about 90% of the pleasant play experience.
(ii) Lots of talk about good players handicapping themselves; it almost seems like a prideful mantra of "well, I do have optimized characters, but I make sure not to actually play them overly well!" Here's a thought: maybe if those characters are played to the hilt, it will be valuable for newer players? I, personally, value mentoring.
(iii) On a related note vis-à-vis (ii), if somehow we should agree that it *is* right for good players to restrain themselves, perhaps it's fair for "concept" players to strengthen their game? I know I've played at tables where I was having to burn resources and carry far more than my "weight" to keep the table alive... granted, for me that experience is more "awesome" than "onerous", but we may as well keep play modification symmetrical.
One of the great benefits of organized play is that it creates a great proving ground for improving rules knowledge, learning about builds, learning new strategies and spell combinations, and so on - benefits of playing with a ton of people; why try to throw a wrench into that? I'm sure I'm not the only one who has played with isolated "home game" groups which have been laboring under rules misconceptions, confusions with 3/3.5 and so on... problems which get "ironed out" in organized play. That is, if one allows the game to play out in-full.
I love the idea - I'm pretty competitive!
We tried to have a "Battle Royale" at a gameday in Atlanta, but there was little interest; I suppose interest may vary by region.
As I recall, it was to be a mix of solo PvP and team-based PvP (to engage support-style PCs). I'd certainly love to see a community standard for PFS-sanctioned PvP created; it might encourage some competitive play, and would provide a nice change from the standard scenario experience (witness the popularity of "We by goblins", for example.)
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!