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I'm surprised to see that we're discussing options again. Making the ability work a lot like Scorching Ray would provide built in balance against an existing and rather ubiquitous game element (Scorching Ray). I'd offer 3 rays spaced out over a few levels. You could go with 6/8/10, 6/9/12, or maybe even 3/7/11 if the first ray replaced the pointless Wordstrike. The final option would scale just like Scorching Ray. I personally prefer 1d8+Cha for the damage, and that shouldn't far exceed Scorching Ray's 4d6 unless the Bard's Charisma is well over 30 (in which case you'll have other problems with saving throw DCs and such)

The damage might seem a little low, but if you throw on Arcane Strike and Discordant Voice it should scale pretty well. Physical damage plus Clustered Shots would probably be stronger than sonic damage overall since the latter can easily be shut down with Resist Energy. That said, sonic is certainly thematic for a Sound Striker. It would be useful in a wide variety of fights without a heavy feat investment, and it might help appease concerns that the power would be too strong if it wasn't subject to energy resistance like Scorching Ray.

In the meantime I've noticed that you can only use Redirection once per day per Monk level, so Flowing Monk probably isn't a great archetype unless I plan on investing several Monk levels.

@WRoy - Yeah, I'd just noticed the 1/day limitation. Taking a second level to make it 2/day and get Evasion might be amusing though.

I'm aware of the rules for Trip. I just wanted to make sure that the CMB check I'm making here is actually to Trip the opponent, not just to give them the sickened condition. There's nothing in the description of the ability which says the CMB check isn't to perform an actual maneuver, but it seems like the sort of thing which might get pointed out in a FAQ, errata, dev post, etc. I'm also checking to make sure this archetype isn't controversial (like the Sound Striker Bard) so that I don't take another archetype which ends up being profoundly lackluster.

I'm also aware of the general rule for rounding down. It seems like sometimes there's a lower limit of 1 though. For instance, damage which ends up being less than 1 ends up as 1 non-lethal damage, but I guess that's a "special case".

Does anybody besides a "n00b" have thoughts on this stuff?

I've decided to take a level of Monk with my Dirty Fighter so that he can qualify for Vicious Stomp more easily. Upon reviewing my options it looks like the Flowing Monk archetype would give me some nice chances to trip and debuff my foes. I have two questions though:
#1 - If you use Reposition and succeed on the CMB check to trip the opponent does the opponent actually fall prone, or is he just sickened?
#2 - Making the saving throw against the sickened effect halves the duration. What happens if the opponent makes the saving throw when the duration is only 1 round?

After some searching I've seen questions similar to the first one answered "Yes" numerous times in other threads, but I want to check and make sure there haven't been any official updates (especially to the contrary). The second question seems trickier. It would be weird if the duration were half a round, so I figure it probably either drops to 0 rounds or stays at 1 round.

If the PCs can get out of the dungeon any time they want it sounds like denying them between combat healing capabilities might just result in the party leaving the dungeon to go rest more often. That seems like less resource management instead of more. Making it tougher to get out of the dungeon once you're in would probably do a lot to make it a more harrowing experience.

I like the freedom of being able to make the PC I want using point buy, but in many groups demanding to use point buy instead of rolled stats would just get you branded as a wimp or heretic.

Anyhow, there are a bunch of very playable options with a 4 stat, so refusing to use it or committing PC suicide in search of better rolls seems unnecessary. At least you didn't have to roll for stats in order. That's when the dice really take over and tell you what sort of PC you're going to play.

Bards are fun, and you might help the hapless Rogue actually hit stuff. A mounted Paladin also might be more effective than you'd think.

Since the campaign is called Mummy's Mask maybe the OP is kind of concerned that Mummy Rot could be a more prevalent danger than it is in other games. This could make low Cha quite dangerous and low Con even worse than usual.

Maybe some of the physical assault players could form a club of their own where there's combat around the table as well as on it. On a more serious note, I wonder if they have PFS in prisons.

I have a PC who will be taking a level of Monk to get Combat Reflexes and qualify for Vicious Stomp more easily. He likes using a flail to trip people, so I want to verify that his unarmed AoO from Vicious Stomp would still get his full Str mod as a bonus to damage. In other words, since his Str is 20 I think his Vicious Stomp will do 1d6+5 damage. If so that's pretty cool. I don't see any reason why this shouldn't work. I just figure that it seems like the sort of thing which other players are likely to question since they haven't seen it in action before.

Assuming the Summoner is legal I agree with Thistlefoot that it is a strong choice for level 1 survival. The key is the fact that you're basically fighting by proxy. Even if your high AC eidolon gets wrecked you can resort to your SLA. If you're not planning to go beyond 1st level it might make sense to be human and use your extra feat to pick up Augment Summoning so that your eagles will really hurt people.

I guess that a Cleric devoted to keeping his own HP up might do pretty well too depending on what you're fighting. Being a half-orc or otherwise able to function at below 0 hp (Diehard?) could be helpful too.

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If you are willing to play a Paladin you could put that 4 in Wisdom. Your Will save could still end up OK due to your Charisma modifier. There are enough ways to boost Perception that you'd eventually get past that penalty. For roleplaying purposes I'd think a Paladin with a 4 Wisdom would tend to charge in where angels fear to tread. Especially at low levels he might be lost in thoughts of holy mysteries and the righteous wrath he'll visit on the undead.

If Paladin isn't your thing maybe you could dump Cha but tie a social skill or two to Int using a trait. I have a Cha 5 orc who intimidates people with his Int of 14 (pretty much a genius in orc terms). You could do something similar with Diplomacy if desired.

It might be nice to avoid 4 Int if you can since it makes your skill points painfully low and you'll likely be subjected to claims that your PC "couldn't think of that". There's another thread on this right now in fact.

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I think that forcing the player to stop participating in the planning part of the game just because he rolled a low Int score sounds like less fun. I guess one could argue that any plan his PC comes up with on his own should be limited to something the PC could reasonably think of, but I don't think that, "If I steal the key I can let my friends out of the jail cell" is something beyond the mental capabilities of a small child or an adult smart enough to mow lawns and maybe do domestic work and simple carpentry.

The stuff chaoseffect pointed out is good. Here's some more.
Enforcer (feat) - Another way to get a free Intimidate check is the Enforcer feat. Since the opponent stays demoralized 1 round for each point of damage you dealt with the triggering attack this can extend the duration of the debuff and potentially make having an extremely high Intimidate modifier slightly less important (since you just need to beat the DC, not beat it by 10 or 20)
Blistering Invective (spell) - This is like Dazzling Display without the feat prereqs, and it works as a standard action instead of a full round action. That makes it a lot easier to walk up into within 30 feet of a bunch of enemies and unleash it. Since there's no SR for the demoralization effect a wand and UMD would work fine.
Cruel (weapon enchantment) - If you hit a shaken foe with this they become sickened.
Quick Dirty Trick (feat) - This BAB+6 feat could help you out by letting you attempt a dirty trick as an attack instead of as a standard action. It seems like a must if you're not taking the Dirty Fighter archetype. I plan to take it with my Dirty Fighter too even though I'll end up retraining it later on.

My Dirty Fighter is actually going to aim for a trifecta of Intimidate, Trip, and Dirty Trick. By taking a level of Monk I'll get the feats to qualify for Vicious Stomp along with the Combat Reflexes I need to punish tripped foes both on the way down and when they get back up again. I'll use that to inflict nonlethal damage on foes I trip to trigger Enforcer. Once the foe is prone and demoralized it should be easy to perform a dirty trick. In another game I'm playing a Viking who will eventually be able to demoralize a foe as a swift action and then use Terrifying Howl as a standard action to induce panic. I guess he could get two foes if he also used a Move action to demoralize.

A chart I found online of IQ associated with real-life accomplishments says that at IQ 40 adults can mow lawns and do simple laundry. IQ 50 can do domestic work and simple carpentry. Based on older editions of the game it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that the PC in question would be around those ranges in IQ.

Per the rules apes have Int 2. I'd certainly expect that an ape could learn to use a key. Hiding a small item by putting it in something else seems like a concept that a "village idiot" could grasp, so even if the PC didn't understand how Invisibility worked he might try to hide the keys all the same.

We had a campaign where each player had two PCs. One guy we'll call JR was running a Fighter and a Wizard. We were having a big fight in a temple when JR decided to have his Fighter run over and attack some cool new foe while leaving his Wizard adjacent to a blinded half-orc guard with 1 hit point. The half-orc attacked the Wizard and scored a crit, doing impressive damage. On his next turn people expected JR to recall his Fighter to kill the half-orc or maybe have his Wizard drop him with Magic Missile. Instead both PCs concentrated on "the bigger threat". Then the blind half-orc with 1 hit point critted again. I think the Wizard went down. I know that everybody had a good laugh.

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@Rudy2 - The complaint about healing being suboptimal is generally focused on in combat healing. If you have access to wands or similar expendables for out of combat healing then the PCs can choose whether or not to bother with in combat healing. If you don't then it seems like it could become almost mandatory for somebody to play a "healer".

Yeah, tough fights sometimes do make folks more open to fighting smart. Unfortunately it often takes a while for them to notice that a particular fight is or might become tough though.

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@Rudy2 - I think that forcing somebody to play a Cleric or other "healer" when they don't want to could be a bad idea. That's doubly true if you're going to force the PC to use a lot of his or her daily powers just keeping the party's hit points up. There are probably a thousand threads on how suboptimal healing is. Making it worse and rubbing some player's nose in it doesn't sound like much fun to me.

Wands help set players free. I wish there were more reasonably affordable healing methods available right from 1st level. Scrolls of Infernal Healing aren't bad if they're available, but they often aren't, and some PCs won't want to use them due to the Evil aura.

I think you need to make an attack roll to get the bonus damage from Smite, so I don't think Smite Evil would add anything to Magic Missile. Of course there's little hope of "proving" this to the satisfaction of anybody with a differing opinion, and the devs seem loathe to address the question for some reason.

@Night_Shade - I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or you're just mistaken, but as far as I know you can't Power Attack with one hand but not the other.

The other night I kind of disabled a trap with my 1st level Fighter. We were about to open our very first treasure chest, and it seemed likely that it would be trapped. My PC had some weird equipment like string and fishing hooks, so he rigged up a hook on a string to open the chest from a distance. I felt rewarded for my efforts when a cloud of poison gas puffed out of the chest as it opened.

On the other hand, when my 3rd level Fighter in a different game advised taking a chest away to open it cautiously the party Barbarian simply smashed it, heedless not only of traps but any potions or delicate treasures it might have contained. Everything turned out fine. I have no way of knowing if the first DM changed things to reward me for being careful or if the second DM changed things to reward the Barbarian for being brave.

I figured that I'd post back again to say that after another session we've successfully completed the battle and the AP. We really got behind early in that final fight, and healing was very handy indeed. The Heal spell in particular was critical, but Rejuvenate Eidolon was a pretty big deal too, and even wands of CMW and CSW played a role. This session the Barbarian 2 / Summoner 13 was down to 6 hit points after taking 161 damage in one round and withdrew from melee. We knew that a barrage of arrows might be coming, but getting back 20ish points from Cure wands was enough to keep her alive. The Mystic Theurge had recently succumbed to Feeblemind, so wands were pretty much all the healing we had left for PCs. As far as healing eidolons went, I found it very useful to be able to redirect damage into my eidolon with In Harm's Way, reduce it with DR10/chaotic, and then heal what was left with Rejuvenate Eidolon and even the Lesser version.

On the flip side, after being resuscitated by the Glyph, Allevrah used Heal on herself to little avail as my eidolon and the Barbarian tore through her new hit points pretty quickly. We'd finally managed to drop most of the mooks with AoE spells, and though we were taking an absolute pounding from the golems Allevrah couldn't hold up when she was flanked by 3 PCs and 2 eidolons. Healing won't stop a flood of damage from washing you away, but if you get caught unprepared and need to reset then healing can definitely help you get back to a steady state. I'd assume that most groups do this between combat all the time. Sometimes you don't have the luxury of leaving combat to go heal though.

After several grueling years even Killer DM was happy to reach the end of his brutal campaign. He apparently looks forward to melting into the background as a PC. Oddly enough he'll be playing "the healer" though none of us really expect his Witch to do any in combat healing or much out of combat. My PC for this group's upcoming game has the Accelerated Drinker trait and hopes to find a steady supply of potions. If we're lucky we'll find some wands too.

@FanaticRat - I was responding to your Pokemon post. It seemed to have a lot more to do with improvised weapons and combat maneuvers than improved snap shot. I haven't really looked at improved snap shot much.

@TarkXT - Kicking Leroy Jenkins out of the party often isn't an option. Not everybody enjoys it when LJ brings major heat down on the party or needs to be bailed out of yet another bad situation he charged into, but the same is true when "The General" starts offering tactical advice and trying to organize the party's actions. I'm trying to learn to limit my advice to times when people seem "at a loss" for what to do or the situation is truly dire. I guess a lot of people get told what to do and how to do it "most efficiently" all day at work and just want to cut loose and do something random and crazy in their games.

I had an Alchemist who took a Dex boosting mutagen and wore padded armor +5. I'm sure some of the more exotic armors might have better numbers, but padded armor has the virtue of being available in nearly any game. People are also usually kind of surprised to see it in use.

If the party doesn't have a trap finder everybody gets to "participate" in the trap. Like I said though, it is when there's a PC who finds traps that most DMs I've seen tend to drop traps from the adventure (perhaps for the reasons you've mentioned)

It can be helpful to put traps in or near combat so that PCs run into them without searching and have to deal with their effects while also fighting monsters. Using crit cards for traps can be another way to keep their effects interesting.

Trying to take away healing wands sounds kind of oppressive. Taking away potions, which cost a ton of gold, sounds downright cruel. Wands cost gold. If they seem like a "free" boost maybe the PCs have too much gold.

I'm not sure why the Horn of Fog would be a problem, but if it is then you might consider finding a way to get it out of the game. Maybe a nasty enemy sunders it. Maybe an NPC demands it as payment for some service or information the PCs need. Maybe somebody just offers to buy it from them.

If you want the PCs to really feel the effects of resource drain you could consider putting fights closer together with "waves" of enemies who arrive after giving the PCs only a few rounds to recover. If the PCs are fairly low level you also might be able to wear them down with ability damage and negative levels.

If no trapfinder should mean no traps should no healer mean no damage? I must disagree with Paizo here and say it is a DM’s right (if not quite duty) to hit parties with traps. In fact, I’ve sometimes seen an opposite effect where DMs in a game with a Rogue or Arcane Trickster don’t bother putting in traps since they know somebody will just find and disarm them, “wasting time” and giving the party “free XP” (at least that’s how some DMs seem to feel)

If the OP wanted to try the Master Summoner archetype with a trap finding low power eidolon that might be a lot of fun. For combat you’d summon in monsters of the SM list while the other Summoner would probably use his full power eidolon. You’d have plenty of arcane spells plus various ways to deal with traps. Since Ryzoken is correct that you can find but not disable magical traps without trap finding you could probably just learn Dispel Magic to handle that (or send in a low level summoned monster)

At mid to high levels Summoners can also bring in quite a lot of healing via Azatas and other outsiders.

I think Trogdar's extra movement as a swift action idea is more interesting than Pounce. In particular it would improve mobility, allowing you to flank and flurry. This would also improve the Monk's BAB in most cases unless you had to move really far to get into position (in which case the extra movement to get into position at all would be its own benefit)

For Fighters I agree that 4 skill points and a good Will save would make them more fun.

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Haste is definitely nice, but people can get that effect from an affordable pair of magic boots. A familiar with a wand of Haste is nice though I’d buy a wand of Good Hope first. Fireball is one of the classic spells of D&D though. D&D wouldn’t be D&D without Fireball. Of course Pathfinder technically isn’t D&D, but Fireball is still a big spell low level mages have aspired to for 40 years now. Also, while what’s “best” might seem subjective to some the Fireball spell offers a nice mix of long range, low enough level to be used with metamagic, and a decent dice cap.

Dazing Spell seems a little nuts, especially as a metamagic rod. I used Dazing Spell a few times with one PC in a previous campaign. Folks found it pretty excessive though, so it has been house ruled to allow a new saving throw each round.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional power gamer. The viewpoints expressed here might result in suboptimal power levels, PC death, or even having fun.

Magic Missile is OK, but "the best spell ever" is clearly Fireball.

I'm glad to hear that the PFS disagreement was settled. The damage Barbarians inflict at low levels can be pretty shocking to some players, but they're a pretty cool class actually.

Remember that you only need 1 level of a class with trapfinding to find magical traps. Regarding JoeJ's suggestion to use Aid Another, a familiar can Aid you with all the skills you know.

Improved Initiative seems pretty boring since it doesn't give you any new abilities. On the other hand, I recently spent several levels in a high level campaign doing almost nothing in many fights because the DM would arbitrarily decide the monsters surprised us (Perception +27 was rarely helpful). The other two PCs both automatically got to act in the surprise round and almost always beat my initiative, so everybody else would get two turns before my PC moved.

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Even the simplest choice of waiting for the enemy to move to you rather than moving up to it can be a big difference in a battle.

I find it interesting that you call this “the simplest choice” when it is an idea I have tried to popularize in the groups I play with for years on end with very little success. I frequently point out that if we wait for melee monsters to close they’ll get a single attack while we get full attacks, but people still charge. I mention that we could probably make better use of battlefield control and AoE spells, but people still charge. I point out that we could use reach weapons to benefit from AoOs, but people still charge. Even when people can’t charge they’ll often move up near the enemy and attack if they can. Their eagerness to join melee is often so great that they’ll double move into an enemy’s full attack. Sometimes a PC who can’t reach the front of the combat will even go open another door to draw more monsters from another room into the fight. Not everybody I know plays this way, but every group seems to have at least 1 or 2 followers of Leroy Jenkins.

@FanaticRat - I’ve tried to play PCs who use improvised weapons. It is generally a real drag. Either you end up in rooms seemingly devoid of items or you fall so far behind the curve of magic weapons it isn’t even worth trying. I did throw a lot of forks in place of shurikens with my Monk/Summoner, but it was mostly just for laughs.

The game where I was playing a Sound Striker has recently ended. After several months we ended up reaching 17th level, but the PDT version of Weird Words never got used again.

@Tels - I think bagpipes are pretty cool.

At best that guy is making a monster fight him one on one. That's probably not a good tactical choice unless the monster has some attack the rest of the party can't endure (maybe a really nasty gaze)

Hopefully TarkXT's advice could help such folks!

You'd be better off as a Beast Bonded Witch since they can grant feats to their familiars. Then your familiar could have the Combat Reflexes and Bodyguard feats. Maybe your DM would let you swap out the starting feats on your Improved Familiar with those, but I'd expect that most DMs would find that an awfully strong trade.

Other than that the wand jockey familiar can provide a lot of what you're looking for with the right wand supply. There are spells to restore your HP, remove conditions, and even get you out of grapples. A wand of Dimension Door can be very useful for escaping grapples as well as for repositioning yourself and allies during combat. Did the dragon breathe on you and then fly out of range? D-Door the Paladin over to beat on it!

Unless there's some effect which makes the PCs drown more quickly than normal this doesn't sound especially nasty except against somebody with a a rather low Con.

Situations obviously vary, but bad tactics by the guy up front isn't a problem caused by good tactics. Going around a corner and getting stuck fighting alone doesn't sound like a great plan. On the other hand, stuff like that can happen unplanned sometimes. Most parties don't have Spring Attack, but depending on the situation Bull Rush might help. Of course everybody sorting into the right initiative order and simply moving back to a more advantageous battleground might solve it too.

On the other hand, I've also seen people let a horde of enemies surge into the room and squash the squishy PCs for no good reason. As far as I know the soft cover from having an ally between you and the enemy shouldn't result in total cover though.

We once had a similar question regarding whether a a Monk of the Empty Hand could draw a wand while moving since in theory every object is a weapon for him. Of course anybody can use an improvised weapon if they want. Is whether you can draw an item as a weapon determined by the nature of the item or how you intend to use it?

I'd guess that most DMs would rule the former, possibly based on the reasoning that weapons are designed to be pulled out quickly. Of course some weapons are shaped a lot like wands, so that makes it seem a little unclear to me (just like the RAI here)

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If you want folks to use more SR items and spells you might consider house ruling that spells with the "(harmless)" tag in their SR entry can pass through SR freely unless the creature with the SR intentionally resists them - kind of like how you can willingly fail the save against a beneficial spell

I've seen this rule used before, and it didn't seem to have any profound effects on the game. Nobody bought SR items anyhow since they cost a lot and are often too weak to be effective against enemy casters. Maybe it would also help adoption to use lots of "mook" casters who plink the PCs with low level nuisance spells.

I mean, I'm not sure why you want folks to buy SR items. I'm just trying to think of ways to make it happen.

Due to my fascination with having pets, mounts, and servants I’ll suggest using an Improved Familiar with the valet archetype instead of Reach Spell. Besides being able to move before and after delivering your touch spells the familiar could potentially use wands and help out with other action economy problems.

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The skunk familiar stinks.

In the past I've certainly had players get upset that the monster's AC was too high. As I recall there was always at least one PC with an AC at least as high though. My NPC villains are "in it to win it" though somehow they never quite do... (probably that darned CR system and teamwork by the heroes!)

I’d describe my own playing style as cautious and tactical. That said, I will in fact take some pretty big risks if there are story, RP, or mechanical rewards. A recent PC of mine challenged the leader of an enemy army to a single duel to avenge a broken oath and prevent a devastating mass battle. The PC was 14th level, and the enemy ended up being a 15th level Barbarian (though I wasn’t sure of his strength when I challenged him). I actually won pretty easily, but it seemed like a “ballsy” move at the time. The same PC also insisted on finishing the final dungeon of the AP in a single day despite the other PCs wanting to rest since he felt that something terrible might happen to our homeland if we let the enemy have more time (based on DM comments it sounds like he was right)

On the other hand, in a later fight another player’s seriously wounded PC charged in to attack a powerful melee monster with 15 foot reach and Grab despite the fact that two other PCs had the battle well under control and could have slain the monster in a round or two. Instead of stealing a little glory the PC ended up getting critted and dropped past negative Con. At that point we had to take a round off from killing the monsters and use a rather expensive scroll of Last Breath to bring him back to life and Dimension Door him to safety. The PC in question had a Heal spell available. He just didn’t feel like waiting to cast it before rushing in or simply standing back and letting us finish the fight. Obviously the way that player did things was more exciting for him, but it cost the party resources during a rather draining adventure, used up my PC’s “insurance policy”, and made somebody else spend their potentially “fun” turn healing somebody who got killed for being tactically foolish.

@BigNorseWolf - The PCs generally do win even without much in the way of tactics. I definitely see more PCs die along the way when folks don’t play tactically, but PCs dying and even parties losing battles entirely is part of the fun for some players.

@Joana - Regardless of tactics or lack thereof, many times it just isn’t possible for everybody to get up front and make melee attacks on the enemy, especially in larger groups. If that results in PCs skipping turns that sounds like pretty poor planning in terms of having options to deal with different situations (like what if the monsters can fly?) Regarding the differences between in game and real life decision making, some players like to get deeply “in character” and play the game almost as if their characters were real people making real decisions which could cost them their lives or fortunes. Other folks obviously find that level of immersion silly. Most groups can probably compromise a bit to make everybody happier.

@Coltron - In response to your original post, you're certainly not the only one who likes healing, but there are a bunch of folks on the boards who feel compelled to point out why they feel it isn't an optimal choice. I'd imagine that most groups who haven't perused the boards at length might appreciate having somebody who is willing to take on the sometimes thankless, admittedly required, but frequently despised job of healing. Even some who are aware of (or possess) the disdain for healing held by those who claim system mastery might be glad to know they've got an insurance policy for when a routine encounter goes pear shaped and their PC is about to die needlessly.

It is probably good advice to be sure you're capable of stuff other than healing. High DC "Save or Lose" spells can be very effective but strike some groups as cheesy or boring. Summoning monsters can also be fun and effective, but once again some groups really hate it since it can make the player's turn too long (though you can mitigate that by being organized and summoning just one monster at a time). Making yourself a viable melee or ranged combatant is generally a safe bet. Communication within the party can be helpful too. You might want to ask Frank the Fighter if he'd rather have you cast Cure Insignificant Wound or whack the monster with an axe. One the other hand, if he's always charging into combat without decent armor on and getting stabbed you might want to warn him that you can't spend all your time restoring his squandered hit points.

@Gregory Connolly - Certain players don't react well to a powerful PC who takes on the role of General and tries to issue orders to the "troops". I have a bit of the General syndrome myself and have had to learn how to get people's buy in on my grand schemes. I've also had to learn how to let other people play the way they want sometimes though I still have a hard time not offering advice.

Ghostbane Dirge offers a saving throw which undead are pretty good at. At least in the one campaign where I saw it used it rarely worked. Maybe that's because the DM was fluffing up the monsters a bit with templates though.

I think it is fun for the players to know the monster's AC. That way they'll really be able to regret it when they miss by 1 or even better miss due to Power Attack.

We had a tough metagaming situation come up a month or so ago. A party of wounded 2nd level PCs without any magic weapons was exploring a dungeon too difficult for them in a homebrew campaign which seems like kind of a sandbox. At one point a couple of Shadows come out of a wall, described as "grey, shadowy shapes". My PC was close to where they came out, and of course I really wanted to run though nobody had any ranks in Knowledge (Religion). A guest player's Rogue shot one of the Shadows with his shortbow, and the DM described the arrow as simply going right through the monster without any apparent effect and clattering off the wall behind it.

I felt like that was sufficient "in game" information for my Viking to decide that these creatures were hard to hurt with normal weapons, and I had him run for the cave exit as fast as a 2nd level PC in breastplate can run...which isn't very fast actually...

Knowing what AC you've just hit isn't cheating. Most DMs don't like sharing the monster's HP unless a PC has comically reduced them to 1 or 2 without dropping the monsters. One DM around here started a tradition of not giving the players ANY info on how hurt the monster is unless they can come up with a decent roll on a Heal check.

In other words, if you cast a fire spell but have a Heal mod of +0 you probably won't know if your spell hurt the monster or not. The party's healer/skill monkey might be able to tell you though. Maybe similar methods could be used for other game stats.

@Threeshades - That sounds like kind of a nuisance, especially with the need to reroll 10s. Of course if you and your group enjoy it that's great.

@KainPen - We never got any XP in this campaign. The DM just told us to level up when he felt it was appropriate. While I don't care for that system I'd say it is reasonably common among DMs who don't feel like tracking XP. If the Imp was the only Devil in the AP then I guess the Immolation Devil we fought in the room before the final fight wasn't really supposed to be there either. That's not a big surprise.

Your suggestion on not multiclassing and various other suggestions on how we could have been more powerful kind of amuse me since the DM has complained that some of us are overpowered and the message boards often pan APs as not challenging enough. It is like getting mixed signals. On the other hand, your suggestion to bring more healing is interesting since one of the primary ideas behind this thread is that sometimes you really need healing and possibly lots of it. Of course there's also just the desire to chronicle our epic and slightly frustrating experience.

I personally like modifying and painting miniatures almost as well as I like playing, so I doubt I'll ever become a big VTT fan. Honestly I think few of our delays are ones VTT would solve anyhow unless it incorporates virtual dice rolling (which our players would hate) and maybe an AI to help people make decisions.

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