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Distant Scholar's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 925 posts (1,114 including aliases). No reviews. 4 lists. 1 wishlist. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 7 aliases.

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I'm GMing a game right now, and I've run across a bit of a trilemma. It also is an example of different valid approaches to how to play a role-playing game, and I thought there might be some interesting discussion.

Here's the situation (simplified and modified for the boards): The PCs have been tracking down a Magic MacGuffin that generates monsters. They've come across the building which houses it.

They've decided to rest for the night before going in.

This means that monsters will be generated during the night. [The monsters now being generated are intelligent and organized, so they won't wander about randomly, waking up parties of PCs that happen to be nearby.] I need to decide how to handle it. Here are the three choices I see:

  • Keep the encounter exactly as I had planned it in the first place.
  • Use the game mechanics of the system, and the information I have sketched out for the MacGuffin, to determine how many enemies come out.
  • Decide based on fun (including what might make a better story) how many enemies come out.

The main advantage of the first is that it's less work for me. But it leaves me with the feeling that I'm making the players' choices not mean anything.

The main disadvantage of the second is that the result will be unpredictable: it could end up much more dangerous that what I had originally planned, even unbeatable, or even slightly weaker than I planned.

The main disadvantage of the third is that trying to determine what would be the most fun is very difficult. Also, it feels artificial if I make sure the final result is something they'll be able to handle.

So, what should I do? Make it easy on myself and not change anything? Use the rules previously decided and let the dice fall where they may? Carefully craft what I think will be the most entertaining experience for the players?

I know people will have differing opinions on this, and I'd like to hear them all. I also know that there's no wrong way to go. But I think seeing a variety of viewpoints on this will help me make a better decision.

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I was totin' my pack along the dusty Lamasara road,
When along came a wagon with a high an' canvas-covered load.
"If you're goin' to Lamasara, Mack, with me you can ride."
And so I climbed up in the wagon and then I settled down inside.
He asked me if I'd seen a road with so much dust and sand.
And I said, "Listen, I've traveled every road in this here land!"

I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere, man.
Crossed the deserts bare, man.
I've breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I've had my share, man.
I've been everywhere.

I've been to:
Fangwood, Barrowwood, Shrikewood, Azurestone,
Chitterwood, Shudderwood, Whisperwood, Whitethrone,
Absalom, Denebrum, Quantium, Woodsedge,
Sandpoint, Stark Point, Wolf Point, Pilgrimage,
Hammer Rock, Nisroch, Dravod Knock, Irrisen,
Belkzen, Drezen, Carpenden, now and then.


I've been to:
Urgir, Elidir, The Miasmere, Orthost,
Katheer, Haugin's Ear, Al-Bashir, Hope Lost,
Usaro, Okeno, Maheto, Chillblight,
Taggoret, Manaket, Touvette, Dyinglight,
Dustpawn, Ridwan, Osirion, Mwangi,
Orolo's Quay, Macridi, The Dirt Sea, let it be.


I've been to:
Lastwall, Winterwall, Canterwall, Pitax,
Viperwall, Nidal, Valenhall, Cheliax,
Redtooth, Tolguth, Whispertruth, Verspex,
Kibwe, Iadenveigh, Jalmeray, The Spire of Nex,
Kashang, Kokutang, Holvirgang, Diobel,
Blisterwell, Dwimovel, Castrovel, all is well.


I've been to:
Magnimar, Mechitar, El-Fatar, Pezzak,
Alkenstar, Spiritscar, Heibarr, The Forgotten Track,
Brevoy, Barstoi, Xa Hoi, Nystra,
Aramor, Taldor, Nagajor, Vudra,
Tanglebriar, Fangspire, Mordant Spire, Sothis,
Bellis, Promise, Axis, you can't miss.


(I've been everywhere)

I've been trying to keep track, mentally, of how many projects and products Dreamscarred Press is in the middle of designing and developing. I gave up, and decided to make a list instead.

  • Akashic Mysteries
  • Monster Classes
  • Something-Or-Other, the First Language
  • Lords of the Mist
  • Arcforge
  • psionic/psychic supplement---or is that one out already?
  • the Medic (path of war expansion)

Which ones am I missing?

9 people marked this as a favorite.

Due to random curiosity mixed with insomnia, I've created a list that (very) arguably presents the most popular 3PP products. Behold!

I found all the "This Week in Paizo" e-mails that I managed to save, and looked at the "Top Downloads from Other Companies" list. I gave 10 points to first place, 9 to second, all the way down to 1 point for tenth place. I added up the results. The lists contain the 10 products and 10 publishers with the highest scores.

There are many:
  • The data contain no actual sales information, only rankings. But one does one's best with the information at hand.
  • This only contains data from the Paizo store. I know that some products and companies sell more copies from other websites.
  • This only contains data from downloads, not from physical products. The "Top Selling Products from Other Companies" list tends to contain comics and miniatures almost exclusively, which is not what I'm interested in studying.
  • The "Top Downloads from Other Companies" list is not guaranteed to contain only Pathfinder products. Practically speaking, I have found few, if any, products that are not.
  • The lists I have on hand only range from October 3, 2014 to February 5, 2016. Having access to earlier lists would almost certainly change the results.
  • There are probably other disclaimers I could add that I'm forgetting about at the moment.

Link to Data:
You can download the Open Document Spreadsheet of the data, and my analysis, to work on it yourself. I intend to keep it updated as new information (or old information) comes in.

Top 10 Products:
01. Ultimate Psionics (291 points)
02. Spheres of Power (243 points)
03. One on One Adventures Compendium (211 points)
04. Spheres of Power: Expanded Options (203 points)
05. In the Company of Dragons (199 points)
06. Way of the Wicked Book 1 (147 points)
07. Path of War Expanded - Work in Progress (109 points)
08. Pathfinder Legends: Rise of the Runelords 5 (94 points)
09. Ultimate Relationships (90 points)
10. Pathfinder Legends: Rise of the Runelords 4 (84 points)

If one wishes to ignore the Pathfinder Legends series, add Path of War (69 points) and Advanced Bestiary (67 points) to the list.

Top 10 Publishers:
01. Dreamscarred Press (700 points)
02. Drop Dead Studios (515 points)
03. Legendary Games (514 points)
04. Big Finish Productions (354 points)
05. Rite Publishing (339 points)
06. Expeditious Retreat Press (211 points)
07. Rogue Genius Games (185 points)
08. Fire Mountain Games (174 points)
09. Everyman Gaming (152 points)
10. Kobold Press (78 points)

If one wishes to ignore Big Finish Productions (makers of the Pathfinder Legends series), add Green Ronin Press (68 points) to the list.

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I was skimming through Spheres of Power yesterday (I still haven't read it thoroughly yet), and a thought for a campaign world came up: What if everyone in the world had Spheres of Power-style magic? And I mean every sapient being has at least a little bit of magic, and other styles of magic/spellcasting aren't available.

Would one be able to make pretty much general PC character type with just the eleven base classes in the book?

I'm a bit concerned about skill-heavy characters, or if concepts like "raging" or "nature warrior" are covered, or even if they are necessary. But, like I said, I've only skimmed the book. Maybe all the needed stuff is there. It might even be covered in the "Using This Book" section. [I do know about the conversion archetypes, but I'd prefer to avoid those, if possible.]

I'd probably want to make an NPC class (or three—commoner, expert, adept). Other than that, what might be needed? What might be useful? I'm sure some of you are far more familiar with Spheres of Power than I am.

If there seems to be enough interest, I might do some sort of play-by-post here using the idea.

Paizo web site wrote: will be undergoing scheduled maintenance starting at 2:00 PM Pacific time on Wednesday, February 25.

We estimate that this downtime will last for about an hour, and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Either there's a typo in the maintenance announcement, or Paizo is going for some seriously long-term planning.

The next time February 25th is on a Wednesday is in 2026.

If it means to say "Monday, May 25" instead, there's not much time left 'til that happens.

I've been playing around with the amalgam template from Advanced Bestiary, trying to get used to how it works, and I came up with a few creatures. Feel free to check to see if I used the template correctly, if the stats look good (especially CR), and how you might tweak them.

Also, feel free to post your own amalgams!

Note: I can't guarantee all the numbers add up correctly. In particular, I probably messed up CMB and CMD, and I may have forgotten to add in class skill bonuses on some of the creatures. I also didn't reiterate special ability wordings, unless the special ability changed significantly.

Paizo sends out a "This Week at Paizo" e-mail every week for those of us who have signed up for it. Are these archived anywhere on the site? If so, I haven't been able to find them.

I'm mostly interested in the "Top Selling"/"Top Downloads" lists, if that makes things any different.

I'm not intending to spoil anything, but I now want to play a summoner with the Legion of Folded Paper feat. If I can find a campaign that allows the book. Or any campaign, really. (Do summoners get Deep Magic's burning monkey swarm spell? Not that the feat and spell synergize in any way.)

Inspired by a recent thread, I went looking at NeoExodus again. It's been in the back of my mind for a while, and there are parts of it that seem interesting. But, when I read the blurb for it on the online stores, I can't tell what the setting is about. Other than a few clues in the description, I don't know what makes it different from a standard fantasy setting.

So, sell me on it. Tell me what makes NeoExodus special. Tell me what it will give me that no other setting will. Why do I want to buy it?

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I've been hearing a lot of praise about Deep Magic. And, there's a lot to like about it; after all, it contains the spell burning monkey swarm. Burning monkey swarm! I now realize what I've wanted to do all my life is make a sorcerer specializing in burning monkey swarm.

But, I do want to register my disappointment with how much of this book is closed content. I must admit, I half-expected something like this, but I was hoping for the best. Here are the relevant entries on the credits page:

Deep Magic credit page wrote:

Product Identity: The following items are hereby identified as Product Identity, as defined in the Open Game License version 1.0a, Section 1(e), and are not Open Content: All trademarks, registered trademarks, proper names (characters, place names, new deities, etc.), dialogue, plots, story elements, locations, characters, artwork, sidebars, and trade dress. (Elements that have previously been designated as Open Game Content are not included in this declaration.).

Open Game Content: The Open content in this book includes the spells in Chapter 2, bloodlines and mysteries in Chapter 5, and archetypes in Chapter 6. No other portion of this work may be reproduced in any form without permission.

The first paragraph I have very little problem with; some of the sidebars contain "crunch" game material, but otherwise it's all good.

The second paragraph leads to disappointment and concern.

Here are some examples:

  • There's new Words of Power content. Awesome! But, it's in Chapter 4, which is closed content. This means that other publishers can't (freely/easily) use the material for their own work. And, if another publisher wants to expand on Words of Power, not only can't they use what's published here, but if they want to do something similar, they have to make their own version instead of using what's already available.
  • Chapter 2 contains the spells animate dead i through ix. Good! But, the tables which tell you what the spells actually create are in Chapter 7, which is closed content. Oops?
  • There's the Chaos Mage wizard archetype in Chapter 6. Good! But the Chaos School is in Chapter 1, so it is closed content. You don't actually need to use the Chaos School to use the Chaos Mage archetype, but it's so fitting that it makes it disappointing that the school is closed content.
  • None of the feats, anywhere, are open content. Some are in sidebars, which makes them product identity.
  • Any items, such as the ioun stones in Chapter 1, are closed content.
There are plenty of things that are fine as closed content. Keeping the spellbooks closed content makes sense to me. Most of the sidebars are plot/story based, or specific to Midgard, and that's appropriately closed.

I'm hoping that most of this is an oversight, and can be rectified at the same time you're fixing (other?) typographical errors. Or maybe all other publishers have to do to use such content is request it, and permission will be freely granted. I guess I'll find out.

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I think I'll join in on the fun this year.

I'll be gifting six (6) copies of the Psionics Unleashed PDF. First come, first served, assuming I can figure out this "wish list" thing.

Note that I have an ulterior motive: I want more people to try out Dreamscarred Press psionics. So, no exchanges for Psionics Expanded, Psionics Augmented, or other products. :-)

For those who know: how much of this overlaps with Tome of Horrors Complete?

I've been looking at old-school rules games (and simpler fantasy RPGs in general), and it's unclear to me which ones are currently supported by publishers.

I'm pretty sure Swords & Wizardry is well-supported. What about OSRIC? Labyrinth Lord? Others?

I had this thought pop in my mind when reading the thread about what people don't like about Golarion.

What if ... one gave long-maturing races an extra Profession/Craft skill rank for every, say, 20 extra years they have on humans? They'd still be limited to 1 rank per level, like everyone else, and it would reflect their background as having lots of years to learn things.

One might also toss in some other skills (some of the low-impact Knowledges, maybe?), or give the option for players to start younger by giving up some of the extra skill ranks.

I must admit: I'm not much of a Cthulhu or H. P. Lovecraft fan. I've never read the stories, and don't really understand the appeal of dread and hopelessness.

But, for those of you who do, there's a Kickstarter project to put a bronze bust of H. P. Lovecraft in the Providence Athenaeum Library. You may want to check it out.

And "Providence Athenaeum Library" is a great name for a library.

[My apologies if this is in the wrong place; I couldn't find a Conventions section.]

I'm considering going to the Origina Game Fair this year. What sort of presence will Paizo and/or Pathfinder have there?

In particular:
* If I wanted to try out Pathfinder Society play, would that be available?
* Would a tryout of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game be available? I know it isn't released until GenCon (I think), but I can still hope for a preview. :-)

I'm considering going to Origins this year, but I don't know much about it.

What's it like? Does it have a particular feel/flavor? In particular, I've gone to GenCon a couple of times; how do the two compare?

What sort of companies have a presence there, and what sort of offerings do they offer?

I've tried looking at their web page, but I couldn't find much useful information about 2013's show there.

2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Some archetypes/alternate classes get to choose a different type of mount (or animal companion) at later levels than at earlier. Is the effective druid level reduced for such critters?

For example: A gnome samurai can choose a boar mount at 4th level (but not at 1st level). Would the samurai's effective druid level for that mount be 1, or 4?

As official an answer as possible would be appreciated, since it's for a character generator computer program. (I have mine own opinion, but that's just an opinion.)

I just bought the Dragon Empires Gazetteer PDF this morning, and quickly perused it.

I now have the urge to play a Lawful Good cleric with the Darkness and Madness domains.

Or ... is there a way for paladins to get domains? Hmm...

For the geisha bard archetype, what is a "monk weapon"? Is it a weapon a monk gets proficiency in? Is it a weapon with the "monk" special ability? Either? Both? Something else?

Can a geisha choose a hand axe as her weapon? (Monks are proficient, but it doesn't have the "monk" ability.)

Can a geisha choose a butterfly sword? (It has the "monk" ability, but monks apparently aren't automatically proficient.)

Can an alchemist take two archetypes that both reduce the die size of their bombs? For example, in Ultimate Magic, both the Clone Master archetype and the Reanimator archetype reduce bomb damage by one die size. Otherwise, they don't interfere with each other. Can an alchemist take both, and have the standard bombs do Nd3 damage?

(This may also apply to other alchemist archetypes that I don't know about, or haven't been published yet.)

I've (finally) started looking at archetypes; specifically the ones in Ultimate Magic. And I noticed something that I'm not sure how to interpret. In the very first archetype I found.

The chirurgeon archetype for the alchemist loses the poison resistance +4 ability, but not the poison resistance +6 ability. When a chirurgeon hits 8th level, would he have a +2 bonus, a +4 bonus, or a +6 bonus?

My assumption is that he would have a +4 bonus, but I don't know for sure.

So, the monster entry on page 186 of the Bestiary 2 says "gylptodon", while the Appendix 7 and Appendix 8 on page 312 (and Wikipedia) say "glyptodon".

Which is it? Entire worlds hang in the balance!

The Arsinoitherium animal companion lists "trample" as a special ability, but it doesn't list how much damage the trample does. How much damage should it do?

The rules say it should be the same as the creature's slam damage, but an arsinoitherium doesn't have a slam attack.

Some options:
(a) Since it doesn't have a slam attack, it does no damage.
(b) If a large creature had a slam attack, it would do 1d6 damage, so the trample should do 1d6 damage. [Note that the regular creature doesn't follow this rule.]
(c) It should do the same trample damage as the regular creature (2d8).
(d) Since the animal companion's gore and powerful charge are half the damage of the regular creature's gore and powerful charge, the trample should also be half damage (which would be 1d8).
(e) Something else.

Any ideas?

In the Bestiary 2, all of the proteans have a form of change shape in their stat blocks. However, the protean subtype also lists a form of change shape which acts differently from the usual change shape.[1]

Is the stat block change shape supposed to further clarify (and, for the voidworm, override) the change shape from the subtype? Or do they have two different change shape abilities?

If it's the former, it seems strange that an imp can change into various shapes all day, but a protean can't. On the other hand, having two change shape abilities is kind of weird, too.

[1]Specifically, it's limited to 1/day, and has a heal effect attached to changing back. And it has different limits (or lack thereof) on what shape it can change into.

Barring special abilities, a charge must be made in a straight line.

Could a character (perhaps an opponent of a barbarian using ride-by attack with a really fast mount) ready an action to move just after the character charges, thus taking himself out of the line of the charge, rendering the charge useless?

While reading the "PrCs are good"/"PrCs are bad" threads, a thought came to me: could a five-level prestige class be simulated through three prerequisite-heavy feats, ordered in some sort of feat chain, along with a paragraph or two of "fluff" covering the idea? I worked up a quick example.

Edit: It struck me that some people might not realize this is an implementation of the Argent Savant from WotC's Complete Arcane. Credit where credit is due.
Force Mage
The force mage studies magical force in order to unlock its secrets and control its power.

Force Attack
Your mastery of force spells increases their offensive abilities, and makes them harder to disrupt.
Prerequisites: Knowledge (arcana) 6 ranks, Spellcraft 9 ranks, ability to cast at least five spells with the force descriptor, including one of at least 5th level.
Benefit: You get a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls made with force spells. Force spells you cast that deal hit point damage do +1 damage per die, or +1 total damage if the damage isn't expressed by dice. The DC to counter or dispel any of your force spells is increased by 4.

Force Defense
Your mastery of force spells increases their defensive abilities, and they stay in effect longer.
Prerequisites: Knowledge (arcana) 6 ranks, Spellcraft 9 ranks, ability to cast at least five spells with the force descriptor, including one of at least 5th level.
Benefit: When you cast any force spell that provides an armor or shield bonus to armor class, its bonus is increased by 2. The duration of any force spell you cast is doubled, as if it were affected by Extend Spell, without changing the level or casting time of the spell.

Force Disjunction
Your mastery of force spells allows you to disrupt force effects.
Prerequisites: Force Attack, Force Defense
Benefit: When a force spell or effect deals hit point damage to you, the total damage is reduced by 5. Also, as a standard action, you can dispel a single force spell or effect within 60 feet, even if the effect is normally immune to dispel magic. The DC to dispel an effect is 11 + the spellcaster level of the effect. If the dispelling is successful, all creatures and objects within 10 feet of the effect take 1d6 points of force damage per spell level of the effect.

Thanks to several days worth of insomnia, I finished a spreadsheet comparing the "Monster Statistics by CR" chart on p. 291 of the Bestiary with the actual monsters in the Bestiary. It has given me greater insight as to what is deemed "allowable" for monsters of certain CRs, and more confidence in my ability to make mine own monsters.

The spreadsheet is in Open Document Spreadsheet form, made in OpenOffice. It should open in Excel 2010, although you'll lose the conditional formatting (highlighting stats that are particularly high or low compared to the chart).

Conclusions I've made:

  • Oozes and constructs don't fit the chart.
  • Monsters often have attack bonuses, damage amounts, and/or save DCs that are "too high".
  • Monsters occasionally have low saves that are "too low", particularly at higher CRs.

Other people might find the spreadsheet useful, and I'm interested in what other people might think about it. And there's a challenge: [at least] one of the monsters is listed under the wrong CR, according to the stat block. Can you find it? [It had the wrong CR in the "Monsters by CR" index in the back.]

This came up in a (3.5) game a little while ago, and I thought I'd ask: is the ice from a wall of ice spell opaque, transparent, or somewhere in between? Or can you choose? In particular, does it affect line of sight?

It isn't specified in the spell. My assumption was "no", but I don't really know for sure.

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

As I understand it, alchemists don't technically cast spells, so they don't technically have a caster level. So, aside from their built-in Brew Potion ability, they'd need Master Craftsman in order to make other magic items. Does that sound correct?

Also, since alchemists don't technically cast spells, they don't have the spell prerequisites for potions (or other items), so they will always have a tougher DC to aim for, compared to a spell caster. Does that sound correct? If so, how unbalancing would it be to allow them to use their extracts as spell prerequisites, to avoid the increased DC?

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

The Aspect of the Beast feat (from the Advanced Player's Guide) allows a character one choice of four abilities. It does not have a Special entry that allows it to be taken more than once (unlike, say, Weapon Focus).

My question: Would you allow a character to take it more than once to pick up more than one of the special abilities (one per feat)?

I don't see any problems with allowing it, but there may be something I'm missing.

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