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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.
Is it Wise to Prohibit / Restrict Consumable Magic Items (wands, scrolls, potions, etc.)? In a Dungeon Delve?
@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".
Is it Wise to Prohibit / Restrict Consumable Magic Items (wands, scrolls, potions, etc.)? In a Dungeon Delve?
@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.
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.
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.
People can play however they'd like. Most of the folks I play with (though certainly not all) prefer their PCs to survive rather than die though. If another player is willing to sacrifice their turn to save a PC that's very much appreciated. If they let another PC die so they can have a shot at glory taking down some random mook that probably won't be appreciated...at least not by the player of the dead PC...
Anyhow, I think everybody here (or close) agrees that emergency healing is great to have. People just can't quite agree on what constitutes an emergency. That will probably come down to a battle of caution vs confidence and how risk averse the players in question are.
@Thomas Long 175 - I usually go for much higher defenses than an AC19 Barbarian. Sometimes the dice seem to be against me though. That’s when I like to have some healing handy. Other times a DM decides, “I WILL hurt you no matter what your defenses are!!! The PCs MUST be in danger of death in every fight!!!” Then you get stuff like what we have in my “Healing is Handy” thread. The DM cranks up the challenge, the players crank up the defenses, and the game comes to a standstill (I guess maybe it is a matter of trust - or lack thereof)
I'd always heard that the DM was "supposed to" build the cohort. Maybe that was a rule in 3.5, but I can't seem to find it in Pathfinder, and based on the links it looks like two members of the design team have said the player should get to design the cohort.
This sounds nice so that players don't get stuck with a cohort htey hate. Unfortunately it brings the fact that Leadership is really powerful even more to the forefront though. Granted, some PCs already have useful pets like animal companions, familiars, and even the dreaded eidolon, but a cohort is potentially an even bigger boost for just a single feat.
Most campaigns I've played in ban or at least highly discourage Leadership due to the power of the cohort and the extra time it takes during play.
Many folks are strictly against tactics. They like low AC, high DPR, rushing in headlong, and trusting in the dice. Exhortations to control choke points or fight in an organized manner are seen as attempts to control their PC and ruin their fun.
@Ascalaphus - Regarding the animal companion which couldn't get up front, I've become a big fan of mounted combat partially because it helps concentrate the party's offense into a smaller number of squares. The Narrow Frame and Cavalry Formation feats could improve this even more.
As a longtime viewer and one time participant in violent sports (football for me) I think that fumbles aren't really as uncommon as some folks seem to feel. Plenty of boxers have slipped and fallen while throwing a punch or even just trying to move around. I've seen some MMA bloopers as well including multiple guys breaking their leg while kicking. As UFC fans should know, these "fumbles" can happen even to great champions.
If you watch football games closely you'll probably see a lot of guys slip and fall. You'll certainly see guys hurt themselves when they hit other people. Knee injuries while running aren't even that uncommon. I think that adding a "fumble check" for movement in combat would be going too far, but slippery areas which require Acrobatics checks could actually be fun and give characters like Rogues a chance to shine a little (and those rules are already part of the game)
On the other hand, Pathfinder isn't really a game about realism. Groups should obviously do what they feel is fun. All of the people I play with who don't post on the forums seem to agree that the fumble deck is fun though. One DM seemed kind of miffed to hear that there are people who don't like fumbles and basically accused them of being sentimental wimps.
The DM has officially discouraged my PC's janitorial aspirations. It seems like an Orc can't even get a job cleaning the toilets in this town. Those Elves are a prejudiced lot. They'll pay one day...
There's a trait called Tools of the Trade that gives you a +1 bonus when attacking with tools related to your Profession skills. My "garden gnome" found that it can be a nice bonus at 1st level, but all too soon you get overtaken by questions about whether you can buy a masterwork rake. Don't even ask about a flaming rake +1 which burns old leaves as you rake them. People will act like you're being silly or something.
Picking your class before rolling does sound needlessly tough, but I think you should have put your +2 in Charisma "for the long term". Figure, you'd be within easy reach of Cha 14. Divine Grace would be nice. Take Oath of Vengeance and start Smiting everything in sight. The DM would probably say you're overpowered and need to be nerfed.
I played an entire 14 level campaign with something like 5 or 10 point buy back in 3.5. The DM also put lots of time in between adventures so that PCs would age and lose physical stats. Some folks couldn't stand it. I tried to rebel against the DM's complaints that my last PC was overpowered by playing a Bard, only I found out that I actually really enjoy playing Bards...though they're actually a bit more fun when they aren't limited to 8 Str like that one...
A DM for an upcoming game gave the group a choice of 15 point buy or rolling 3d6 in order and "adding" 12 point buy on top of it. As stat rolling addicts everybody went for the 3d6 plus 12 points, and it turned out pretty ugly in most cases. The guy with the 3 Con Alchemist (I think he actually bought it up to 7) rarely shows up anyhow, but the Dex13, Cha15 Bard seems a little bitter since he wanted to play a high Dex Rogue (which seems like it would be easy enough as a goblin). If he had taken the point buy he easily could have had a Dex in the 18-20 range, but the lure of the dice is too strong. It seems like players dream of rolling high and other folks rolling low or sometimes just of rolling a really high or low stat to make their PC sillier.
From recent real games:
DM Says (to 2nd level PCs without magic weapons): You see two shadowy shapes emerge from the cave wall and begin to move towards you.
DM Says: Do you lift the vase?
I actually caught onto the vase thing in a recent adventure and decided to use an elaborate solution involving a spear, twine, fishing hooks, and a fishing net to get objects out of vases full of sand without lifting them or sticking my hand in them. The objects ended up being gems. The DM later confirmed that party members probably would have died if I had tipped a vase.
SoD often ends fights quickly, and that seems "unfun" to a lot of people. As a PC targeted by SoD I dislike getting wiped out by one bad d20 roll. As a DM I dislike not knowing whether a particular monster is more likely to be a threat or go down before it even moves. As a player on a team with a SoD caster I sometimes feel like we're not really working together, especially if I'm trying to kill the monster with HP damage and the SoD guy is just plugging away hoping for the DM to roll low on a saving throw (or boosting the DC really high and just hoping the DM doesn't roll high)
If the Witch focuses on debuffs and lets the other PCs have a share of the killing that's more fun IMO. This was true even when I played the Witch. The fact that PC had Dazing Spell also brings to mind the idea that feat should be nerfed (offering a new saving throw each round would probably work well). That's kind of off topic as far as Witches go but rather emblematic of the SoD/SoL issue.
Combat Reflexes can be nice. If the DM changes tactics to avoid your AoOs you've already gained a measure of control over the fight. Obviously it is a lot better when combined with other abilities.
Reading this thread has inspired me to look at whether I can fit Combat Reflexes, Greater Trip, and Vicious Stomp into my Dirty Fighter build. The PC's Dex won't be super high, but being able to hit a foe twice on the way down and once again on the way up would be cool. If he stays down to avoid the AoO I can take advantage of the +4 to hit with Power Attack.
Of course I'll be a sitting duck for touch attacks, and I'll have horrible saves, but that's probably true for most Fighters.
I'm glad that there are fewer ways in Pathfinder to make SR meaningless than there were in 3.5, but I guess there will only be more as time goes on. Still, Inquisitors can beat SR pretty easily, and Alchemist Bombs are Su. There are also a number of spells which don't allow SR, so I wouldn't say that the Witch is unusual in her ability to bypass SR.
My impression of message boards discussions of problematic abilities is kind of like:
I'm not saying anybody is right or wrong. That just seems kind of like how it goes.
Diego's suggestion for arrow slits seems reasonable, but at least for home games it also seems safe to rule like thejeff that they "just work". I mean, there are some rules in the book describing the benefit of firing from behind an arrow slit, so it isn't unreasonable to assume that there should be some way to actually gain that benefit.
I was a staunch opponent of fumbles which activate on a natural 1, and several groups probably felt I was a spoilsport because of it. The confirmation roll and the rule that you can only fumble once per combat really do make a big difference though. Regarding martial PCs with low iterative attacks, we did have one half-orc Barbarian who would refuse to make his lowest BAB attacks against high AC opponents on the assumption that he'd be more likely to fumble.
Clerics work fine. They're great at removing conditions since they have the right spells on their list. If you're really into the idea of always having just the right solution to the problem at hand you might consider taking Scribe Scroll or Craft Wand so that you can have the various condition removal spells handy. Wands of CLW and CMW are great too.
I think using the Evangelist archetype could be really nice since you get Inspire Courage like a Bard. Your Channel Energy would cure less damage, but you could always increase that with a magic item, and if you summoned monsters they'd get the bonuses from your Inspire Courage. You could kind of call in vengeful angels to set things right. Of course Perform (Oratory) might seem odd for a gruff and generally quiet guy. Maybe when the only time he talks much is when he's preaching but then it is really compelling. Of course there are a bunch of other archetypes.
I'm also a fan of the Animal Domain, which gives you an animal companion. It can be quite powerful if you take the Boon Companion feat. In fact, it could do the fighting for you while you concentrate on healing and other spells. A gruff old guy with a fierce Wolf or some other deadly beast might fit the image you're looking for. Maybe the animal starts following him after he heals it.
In my experience as a player, the Witch's defenses seemed subpar. If the DM can get monsters near the Witch it should cause trouble.
Slumber - I think one of the best ways to "fix" this hex is to house rule Coup de Grace. In most of the games I play we've removed the Fort save vs death and just made it an automatic crit. We've kicked around the idea of increased the crit damage by 1x too. This leaves Slumber as a very strong tactic but not an instant death sentence. We first enacted the rule at my suggestion when my Witch had Slumbered a major monster (behir) and seemed set to ruin the night's fun. A nice side effect is that DMs don't feel as guilty if they have ghouls and mummies go nuts with CdG when somebody gets paralyzed.
Useless against Mindless - My Witch had some trouble with this too but solved it by getting some pet monsters via multiclassing and feats. Summon Monster spells are also on the Witch list and are a great solution to this problem.
I'd think that a lot of groups would be very happy to have somebody willing to play a healer. If you wanted to come pump hit points into my PC that would always be welcome. That said, you'd be better off just playing an enjoying your PC than trying to get folks on the message boards to approve of it.
What sort of character do you want to roleplay? If you're focused on buffing have you considered a Bard? They generally participate a lot in roleplaying, and they're great at buffing the party. Clerics and Oracles can do so too depending on what you're going for.
My Viking fumbled twice last session and even managed to stun himself at one point. If casters don't fumble too that would only increase his disdain for them. Fumbles and crits are part of the glory of battle. Come, he might say, join the ranks of the brave who never know what putting a d20 on the table might mean for good or ill. If you wish you can hide behind him with the finger wigglers and the cowards, but you'll never be glorified in the sagas that way.
FYI for those who might not know, Paizo's fumble deck includes rules for “confirming” your fumble in a fashion similar to that used for critical hits. This means that skilled combatants will rarely fumble during simple attacks, and honestly over the course of time we’ve seen far more and worse fumbles by the monsters than by the PCs. It also limits fumbles to once per encounter per creature, so there isn't as much of a 3 Stooges vibe. The fumble deck includes a lot of different results besides the common homebrew stuff like "drop your weapon" or "stab yourself". There are also fumbles for magical attacks so that if the Sorcerer rolls a 1 with Disintegrate there could be a big problem.
@Fromper - I'm pretty sure the intention is that you can fire out of arrow slits without penalty. I guess maybe the "Low Obstacle" rules Joana quoted could be used though honestly I'd say that you can't ignore an arrow slit unless you're adjacent to it. Maybe it is considered a "common sense" ruling though I guess that might not help much for PFS.
The Kensai ability seems a lot cooler if the Kensai can make the AoO with his favored weapon and do so even if he's not threatening with anything else. Having katana kensai wear spiked gauntlets so they're always threatening doesn't help make the game better.
Perhaps JJ's responses earlier in the thread show that we're too often slaves of RAW and precedent and should learn to be more adaptive. Unfortunately it is often difficult to gain consensus within a group about what is or isn't balanced and sensible. Letting the Kensai's AoO ability work in a thematic way lots of players would expect it to work doesn't seem like a big stretch to me though.
If you stay away from touch attacks, don't use Mirror Image, and keep your AC mediocre there's probably a decent chance your PC will be considered fairly reasonable in many groups. I've also noticed that there's generally more good will towards PCs like Barbarians who get hit a lot but have super high HP than towards PCs who are hard to hit but might have half as many HP or less. The former are perceived as fearless guys who stand up front while the latter, even if they're also effective front line combatants, are perceived as cowardly and overpowered.
That said, I'm not sure if there is even a fine line between overpowered and incompetent. Almost any PC who can fill a role competently is at risk of being labeled overpowered at some point.
If a PC with low Cha and no Diplomacy tries to be suave and charming the DM should call for skill checks and see how that goes.
That said, low stats can help define a PC as much as high stats. I generally have more fun roleplaying stupid PCs than smart ones. Weird accents, malapropisms, and mispronunciations are my roleplaying bread and butter. When I play a smart PC he's usually got some other comedic quality such as being absentminded, hot headed, arrogant, etc. I guess some of those might not sound comedic, but it sort of depends on how you play it.
It strikes me as odd that so many groups seem to have rules against having a stat below 10. I can understand that some people might not want to play a PC who is stupid, impulsive, socially awkward, clumsy, or phsyically weak, but I'm not sure why they'd want to make sure nobody else does either. Is the idea that the "dumpers" would gain an unfair advantage and outshine the PCs with more balanced ability scores?
If a scenario without explicit depictions of sex features two women who are married to each other I guess that might aggravate some people, but real life sometimes features two women who are married to each other. They might even show up as players at your PFS table. If they start having sex right there at the table you've probably got a valid complaint (or a fulfilled fantasy...I guess it depends who you are...)
@Odraude - Seriously, a young kid might ask about that...
I'm not saying those are good explanations of what "gay" means. In fact, they're probably kind of clumsy and confusing. I'm not sure if a gaming table with strangers is the ideal scenario for explaining sexual orientation to kids. Parents who care about such things should probably take the initiative to find teachable moments at home. Gay marriage is in the news. President Obama and Vladimir Putin talk about homosexuality. Unless somebody is raising a family of ostriches these issues shouldn't be secret and mysterious anymore.
There seem to be a lot slippery slope arguments that if you allow Grab on an AoO then people will be able to use that as precedent so they can change their grip on weapons, draw weapons with Quick Draw, or drop prone to avoid ranged attacks while it isn’t their turn. There’s nothing in the language of the Grab ability which would allow these various actions though. There is something in the language of the Grab ability which allow a free action to grapple. I can’t see any slippery slope here. These are different issues.
The use of “prompted” free actions from special abilities out of turn seems like an unclear spot in the rules to me. I could imagine Paizo ruling either way on it or even ruling different ways for different abilities. In the past they've ruled that Snap Shot can prompt a free action. Obviously this situation is rather different. I've already expressed my opinion on Rock Catching, but I wouldn't presume to guess how Paizo will rule on AoO+Grab. I will point out that Trick Riding seemingly allows you to use two immediate actions (for the same thing) in one round though. I think sometimes things are just supposed to work the way which would make the most sense in play. Unfortunately we can't all agree on what makes sense.
@DEXRAY - I'd guess that IF Paizo ruled allowing the use of Grab during an AoO you'd be entitled to option #2. I'd say that #3 is out since there's nothing in the language of the Grab ability which grants you a free action to drop somebody. If you make a successful grapple check then constrict damage applies.
@Nefreet - I wonder if whoever wrote the rules didn't expect that they'd undergo a rigorous semantic inspection down to such minute points. Perhaps the "free action" language was put into Grab just to help make clear that this grapple attempt doesn't require a standard action like a regular grapple attempt would. If they didn't include some language like "free" or "without using a standard action" then maybe people would be arguing that you can only use Grab if you hit somebody with an AoO during your own turn. I'm just guessing. These questions have been coming up for years for Grab, Trip, and Rock Catching though. I hope Paizo will rule one way or the other.
My impression is that taking an AoO (or speaking) doesn't explicitly give you a free action to change your grip on your weapon (or draw a new one), so you can't do it. A Purple Worm hitting with a Bite does explicitly give it a free action to grapple though, so the worm can do it. In my opinion a Frost Giant who looks just like Lagertha Lothbrok being hit with a rock also gives her a free action to catch it. These are not free actions those creatures could take at other times. They are specific results of other events in combat. For instance, even during its turn a Purple Worm can't just crawl up and grapple you as a free action. That free action is triggered by hitting with an attack which has Grab.
I can understand DEXRAY's strict RAW based opinion that you would need to ready an action to catch a rock, but I think it seems silly since the ability could simply say that you can ready an action to catch a rock. It would also be a fairly worthless ability. That doesn't mean I'm right of course, but I think the "intuitive" feeling that Rock Catching should work as a defensive ability out of turn is strong enough that it isn't completely unreasonable to ask for a FAQ answer. Grab is a much more important ability and certainly FAQ-worthy.
Wizards get bonus feats which can be used for item crafting. There also tends to be a lot of downtime in Kingmaker. Those two things combined could give you the chance to craft lots of magic items. I'm personally fond of having an Improved Familiar which can activate wands. Faerie dragons are very useful in this regards.
There have been a number of threads on this. I recall that the Rock Catching ability giants have is also a free action. If they can't take that free action when it isn't their turn then the ability is nearly useless. Some might say "RAW is RAW" and shrug that off since Rock Catching isn't a very important ability in the average game. Grab, on the other hand, is a major ability and the source of most PC deaths in many games I've played and run.
Anyhow, I think if an ability gives you a free action to perform some sort of check you should be able to take that free action even when it isn't your turn. Once per round when a Frost Giant is hit by a rock she can attempt to catch it as a free action. If a Purple Worm hits with a Bite it gets a grapple check as a free action. It seems consistent to me and allows both abilities to work the way I'd expect.
Back in 3.5 my drunken master and aspiring "god of cookery", Chow Man Tsui, wielded a Monk's Spade called "The Pizzastick" (like a pizza peel) and used it both to get pizza out of the oven and to shovel coals for BBQ.
I'd also like to correct an earlier post by pointing out that Lubomyr Romanovych's "Cruel Sword of Justice" is actually an Aldori dueling sword rather than a longsword (though mechanically there's no difference since he doesn't use Weapon Finesse)
In HBO's Game of Thrones the Hound recently expressed a rather negative opinion of people who name their weapons. Arya didn't seem discouraged though.
I agree that most in game sexuality should be "off camera". Sometimes we'll give a subtle hint about just how the succubus gets the soul out of the body, but it is strictly for humorous purposes.
@Frodo - As mentioned previously, please consider the lesson of "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her". Misrepresenting Christianity hardly amounts to "defending" it. Stoning people to death for adultery or fornication is barbaric and unacceptable.
All of this talk about stoning people to death for the greater good seems misleading to me. In one old story I heard, somebody asked whoever was without sin to cast the first stone at an adulteress, but apparently nobody stepped up to the plate. I’m with that guy on this one. Pretending that people weren't horny in previous eras doesn't have much to do with the subject of how one should handle horny PCs in a Pathfinder game though, so maybe we should get back on track with a focus on fun.
When sex comes up in our games it is mostly a joke. One time a female PC (played by an actual woman) in a game I was running decided to have sex with an amorous Flail Snail. As an entomologist the player was aware of the details of snail sex and apparently decided it might be fun. The in game details were limited but disturbing. During an undercover adventure I also once roleplayed another PC into allowing himself to be sodomized by drow to help avoid blowing our cover. It was an instant classic. Just using Diplomacy and saying "I rolled a 34, you know you want it!" wouldn't have been as amusing as making people decide how a PC or NPC would feel and act in a certain situation.
Regarding the "half" races, I don't think that the presence of prejudice in Golarion is supposed to imply that it is a good thing. To me it seems to offer something that the PCs can strive against.
@Frodo - It is true that at various points in history folks would stone women to death, drown them, and burn them at the stake for various sexual and religious infractions, real or imagined. In some places they still set them on fire, pour acid on them, etc. Through it all, society's abuse of women couldn't really stop human sexuality from expressing itself in a wide variety of ways though.
Anyhow, while Tolkien maintained a high level of decorum, the fantasy of Pathfinder and Golarion is probably as likely to be based on something like Game of Thrones. As an aside, "Tam Lin" by Fairport Convention is a great song about supernatural fornication in medieval Scotland.
I usually start out thinking a sandbox might be fun and end up swearing I'm just going to run an AP next time. That said, if you can find issues of Dungeon magazine on eBay or are willing to invest in the PDFs they're a great source of canned adventures. There's even a Dungeon Index online you can use to find adventures in the right level range for your party and read a short description of them.
If you see an adventure you like but it is a few levels too low for the party it is easy to fix that up with templates. A similar approach can be used with adventures you create yourself. Perhaps there are CR2 dire wombats in the woods outside town. If the party heads there at 1st level maybe they meet Young dire wombats. If they go at 3rd perhaps they've grown into Giant dire wombats. At 4th level they might be CR4 Advanced Giant dire wombats. Other templates such as fiendish might make more sense for other monsters. You could also scale the number of monsters present up or down to help move the CR even further.
If you tie a different home made or canned adventure to each significant town/area and are prepared to scale it a bit you might be able to arrange the adventures in concentric circles of difficulty and have some hope the party will face them in roughly the right order. Some higher level stuff can rely on "time release" adventure hooks (maybe after 3 years of adventure a lich awakens or Keraptis dares the party to explore White Plume Mountain). That reminds me that WotC used ot have a lot of older edition adventures available for download on their website and probably still have up 3.5 versions of Tomb of Horrors and White Plume Mountain.
For a truly "old school" experience, the 1e AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide also had a great random dungeon generator.
To me "tanking" implies gumming up defensible spots and holding back monsters so that your allies can attack from relative safety behind you. I'm guessing that the Reach Cleric wants to "attack from the back". The Inquisitor might be able to go either way. One or both of them could help buff the Monk into a defensive bulwark. For instance, if the Cleric puts Freedom of Movement, Death Ward, etc on the Monk as needed and the Monk uses ki points to boost AC it might be tough for a lot of monsters to cause the Monk much harm. If the Monk does get hurt the Cleric can probably heal him.
If the Inquisitor is suited to melee then he or she could share frontline melee duties with the Monk. If not perhaps Bane with a bow or repeating heavy crossbow could help cut enemies down more quickly. As some folks have said, one problem with tanking is making sure the enemies engage with the "tank". This is pretty simple in constricted dungeon environments, but it can be tough against mobile enemies in open settings. If you need more protection than one PC can offer you might look at the Cleric's options with Summon Monster. They're more varied and arguably more powerful than what the oft mentioned Druid gets from SNA. Depending on the Cleric's alignment, Sacred Summons might offer a way to lay down some "mini tanks" quickly. A metamagic rod of echoing spell is expensive but can effectively double your highest level spell slots to bring in the big monsters over and over as needed.
I re-skin monsters sometimes, but it is generally as an easy way to provide a new, balanced monster without a lot of work. My interest is in having a cool monster which fits the scene though, not in keeping monster abilities super secret. A lot of parties seem to have a Knowledge specialist who knows everything anyhow.
As far as the player getting annoyed with changes goes, that sounds like a tough situation. On the one hand the GM should have creative freedom. On the other a lot of players don't like to feel that the GM is changing stuff arbitrarily to counter the PCs. I'm trying to imagine how stuff like this might play out at a table somewhere...
GM: "You cast Fireball? Well, these blue skinned giants who live in the distant North are immune to fire!"
I'd like to dissent from the general opinion that house rules must always and only be applied before the campaign begins. A typical campaign at least in the groups I play with can last for years. Punishing the GM and potentially the group for failing to realize that some obscure rule or item was a problem before it became one in his or her game seems kind of rough. Some house rules (though not this one) might involve stuff from new books which wasn't even available when the game began.
That said, not all house rules are good decisions, and if everybody besides the GM hates one it is probably a bad house rule even if it was made up before the campaign starts. By the "you shouldn't change something once it is in play" principle Paizo should never go back to FAQ or errata stuff. I guess some people would agree with that, but I mostly don't.
Honestly I'd imagine that you can likely make up a lot of the damage loss and beat much of the DR anyhow with a holy weapon. If it is cold iron and you have some silver sheen you've got a lot of bases covered.
You could also be subversive and use the Clustered Shots feat to nearly bypass DR and or play a Paladin and defeat the DR of any evil creature. The latter option includes a chance to see whether your GM is really trying to be a jerk or not by seeing if all foes suddenly stop being evil (like even demons and devils are "special" neutral ones who "aren't quite as bad")
You might try having some goblins sneak up on sleeping gnome children and murder them. Perhaps one of the goblins could even be an evil Cleric who casts Murderous Command to make a gnome girl kill her little brother with a scythe. This happened in one of our games and upset several players, especially the one who suggested killing the gnomes to avoid being caught while raiding their farm. The goblins were our PCs, you see. This was in our "We Be Goblins" inspired prequel, and it left at least one of the players pretty troubled and regretful.
I guess that bad things happening to young/cute/harmless characters can make folks sad, but it might be best to use stuff like that in moderation. Maybe you could go for a different emotion next time, disgust should be easy but is also negative. Maybe something positive would be nice, like giving the players a chance to help save an NPC they like. For the best results perhaps the NPC could be an effective one who is actually kind of helping the PCs out rather than just another wimp who needs to be saved. If the NPC has to be wimpy maybe you could make it an old grandma and she could be useful to the party in other ways such as baking magic cookies, being a sage with a lot of Knowledge skills, etc.
I'm guessing that Paizo felt a "fire and forget" weapon would be pretty tough to build a class around. Maybe having a martial class based around early firearms is part of the "problem" for some of us. If Gunslinger were an archetype of Alchemist maybe it wouldn't stand out quite as much.
I wouldn't be opposed to having fairly devastating "fire and forget" firearms. The fact you'd have people Quick Drawing entire braces of them like Blackbeard would at least have some historical precedent and might help prevent the use of all +5 guns or bullets to easily overcome DR. Heck, I'm not even against the idea of a BLAM-BLAM 6 shot per round TWF Colt 45 cowboy in certain games which choose to have advanced firearms. The rules actually warn GMs that advanced firearms will change the game world. There's just not enough distance between early and advanced firearms once you combine stuff like alchemical cartridges with some Gunslinger abilities to get a machine gun like effect of limitless reloads per round. Depending on how you rule the "double shot" of the double-barreled pistol works it can actually have more offensive firepower than the supposedly more advanced revolver (though the revolver catches up a bit due to the weapon cord nerf)
I'd like to have pirates shoot a pistol once in a while. I wouldn't like to have the players not running Gunslingers feel like "Why is my PC here?" Unfortunately the latter is what we got when we had a Gunslinger in the game for a few sessions. Even if the game balance were better there might be some suspension of disbelief problems not only from somebody being able to load and fire a muzzle loading gun 12 times in 6 seconds but from the idea that people in a world with guns which fire at that rate and pierce armor completely would bother to keep using other weapons. Anyhow, I'd like to see early firearms a lot weaker than they are so that including them or not would be almost purely based on the "flavor" the GM wants for a particular game rather than meditations about game balance.
@Calybos1 - When it comes to being tough and gritty, I actually find "gunslingers" such as The Man With No Name from "A Fistful of Dollars" pretty interchangeable with "warriors" such as the samurai from "Yojimbo" (the former was a remake of the latter, after all)
I don't think there's a slippery slope with the Bard getting thematic spells like Confusion. They fit the theme of Bard very well, and that's why Bards always got early access to them as 3rd level spells, not 4th. I don't see why Bards getting 3rd level spells from the Bard spell list would imply that Wizards should get 4th level spells from the Wizard spell list. That said, Fear can be a really frightening spell to deal with (pun intended), so maybe your decision is actually for the best.
Regarding the extra Bard options, Arcane Dueling obviously reminds one of the Arcane Duelist archetype. It seems very beneficial in P6 since it preserves one of your feats. It looks like the option to emulate some other archetypes is also included, which seems nice for variety. I'm glad to see that Dirge of Doom is included as that's probably my favorite bardic performance lately.
It seems like a shame that the last 2-3 books of an AP seem doomed to need customization under either the standard or P6 systems. I think with a few tweaks the standard Pathfinder system could work pretty well for at least the levels most APs go up to. Of course there could still be a place for E6/P6 since some folks simply enjoy the lower levels of play the most and wish they could go on and on.
Regarding shields, a bullet might punch through them, but it also might be deflected or bounce off, especially if we're talking about a relatively low velocity shot from an antique black powder weapon as opposed to one from a modern rifle. Regarding touch attacks in general, I've always found it extremely odd that shields don't count against them. The idea of a vampire or wight draining your levels through your shield never sat well with me.
Some folks say that sword and board PCs need some help, and some folks say that touch attacks are very powerful. Applying shield bonuses to touch AC would help both situations a bit. It seems like a good house rule to me, and it seems like the sort of thing that would trickle down to subsequent supplements pretty elegantly if it ever got changed in Core.
I’d like to commend Paizo and Jason for having the gumption to make their Crane Wing decision. Right or wrong, they must have known they’d take a lot of heat for this. Nerfing Crane Wing won’t fix all the problems in the game, but restoring its original function won’t fix them either. At least the nerf fixes one potential headache for GMs. Sure, the non-PFS GMs could have just house ruled, but why should they have to? Sure, PFS could have just banned the feat, but now it doesn't have to.
Crane Wing fans in home games can still work with their GMs if they feel their PC is "too weak". Giving a PC extra powers which the group agrees are helpful seems much less likely to cause acrimony than taking away powers the player desperately wants but the GM and or group think are excessive. Just because the GM has legitimate authority to nerf things doesn't mean that players won't rebel against it. I mean, Paizo has the legitimate authority to nerf things too, but we still have this thread. I'd rather see bitter arguments here online than at tables across the world.
I also have some sympathy for folks who designed their PCs based on the original feat and now feel disenfranchised. Seeing supporters of the nerf called a "vocal" minority" and described with latently insulting terms like "whining" and "immature" by supporters of the original feat while people's GMing skills and "right to GM" are questioned doesn't enhance that good will in any way though.
As an aside, I find the Brawler vs IUS prereq discussion interesting and think I'll start another thread on it.