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Douglas Muir 406's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber. 10,006 posts (10,838 including aliases). 5 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Question: what's wrong with having them wake up in the basement, as per? (After the meeting with the ghouls and whatnot, I mean.)

That's a pretty cool way to start things IMO, and it worked really well for my group in terms of ratcheting up the tension, confusion, and fear. What's gained by starting them outside the asylum?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
RoseCrown wrote:
Pounce wrote:
Void domain gets all Planar Binding spells. Add together with the Glory domain for easy charisma checks to impose your will >:)
Void is perfect, thank you!

Void is excellent and is really all you need.

If you want to dig around a bit, check out DMDM's Guide to Planar Binding; DMDM's Guide to the Diabolist; and the "Crowdsourcing Planar Binding" threads from a couple of years back (several dozen popular targets for this spell reviewed and compared).

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Why bother with Planar Binding when clerics already get Planar Ally. The Planar Ally spells are actually better because there is no danger of the outsider breaking free and attacking you. The outsider you call is also not hostile to you afterwards so calling it up again and a again is not a problem.

At midlevels (9th through 14th or so), the high cost of Planar Ally makes it less useful than Planar Binding. Yes, the outsider is not hostile, but it's really frickin' expensive.

Also: Planar Binding is just much much MUCH more flexible. Planar Binding, you can choose from every darn outsider in six Bestiaries. Need a creature with charm abilities? A teleporter? A possessor? Something that's immune to acid and can swim? You can find it. Planar Ally, you can only get whatever creature your deity (your DM) decides to send you.

At high levels, the curves cross; if you're 18th level, the cost of a Planar Ally spell is starting to become chump change compared to your average WBL. But for mid-level characters, it's almost prohibitive, and it definitely makes this spell less attractive.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Δaedalus wrote:
Just a note on the 'Duration,' there are clear examples of bound outsiders being forced into service for much longer than 1 day/level. It's just open-ended tasks that have their duration cut short. Things like "Serve as my bodyguard until you have killed 512 legitimate assailants" or "Bring me *Insert arbitrary magic item*!" could get an outsider to have to serve for years, if not more. It's kind of like geas, in that regard.

Yeah, I've given that a lot of thought. I'm reluctantly inclined to think that I need to amend the Guide. I don't like it because while I love the idea of Planar Binding, and the fidgety mechanics of it in PF are great too, the two things that are problematic are that (1) it's vague and unclear, and (2) it's abusable and OP. And this just makes both those worse. "Any duration, as long as the task is 'reasonable' -- agh, that gets super murky'.

But, ironically, it's the most reasonable interpretation of RAW. So I should go back and put it in.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Evilserran wrote:
I am playing a necromancer, and I wanted to be able to raise people as vampires potentially.

Paizo's designers very deliberately made this impossible by normal means, because otherwise you'd have munchkin minimaxers turning themselves into vampires. Free feats, crazy stat bonuses, +2 CR!

In-game, there are only three RAW ways to turn yourself into a vampire: (1) have someone kill you, then use a Wish on your corpse. A Miracle from an evil deity might do the job too -- I'd allow it, myself -- but RAW does *not* say that a Wish can transform you to a vampire without you dying first. (2) Be a cultist or demoniac of Zura, as noted a couple of posts up. (3) Get bit.

If you want to raise your own vampires, the same rules apply. The simplest way under RAW is to find a vampire. Failing that, you can create your own starter vampire with a fresh corpse and a Wish. Note that in neither of these cases is the vampire automatically under your control.

Outside of RAW, I agree that it should be possible to cobble together some sort of evil ritual using the Ritual rules. It might cost less than a Wish, and if your DM is generous it might even give you (some) control over your new vampire pal. On the other hand, it might require weird ingredients, difficult-to-obtain sacrifices, and really high skill checks. And of course there might be nasty side effects, especially if it fails.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Of course, if I were being really properly thorough, I'd include enchantment and illusion spells that aren't on the Mesmerist list, for all those Reptoid PCs out there. Le sigh.

Okay -- any more spells to add to the list? Anyone?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

BTW, point of clarification on Daze, above: you only get +1 HD at first for being a Reptoid; the Mesmerist Mental Potency doesn't kick in until you reach 5th level.

On the plus side, hey, Color Spray is affected from day one. Color Spray is one of the best low level save-or-suck spells to begin with, AND you get your Mental Potency AND the Will save against it is affected by your Stare. Everything with less than 6 HD (which is pretty much everything in a low-level module) must make a Will save or be knocked right out of combat for 2-5 rounds. So, make this your go-to spell. (But tell your DM in advance, because otherwise he may be annoyed when you are Color Spraying everything in sight.)

Also, if you're playing a Mesmerist, here's a Mini-Guide to your Bold Stares. For this particular AP, I might suggest taking Inception first...

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Hill Giant wrote:
If you want to play up the amnesia and body horror aspects of the AP -- and your GM is OK with it -- perhaps have the character be initially unaware that he is a reptoid.

That's a really interesting possibility. S/he could have been the reptoid liaison to Lowls, caught up in his Minion Purge.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Chess Pwn wrote:
to me this is a great ability to look for trading out in an archetype ;)

Okay, there are several archetypes that do this. There's the Autohypnotist, who trades it for the Wide Stare ability. The AH is actually kind of an interesting archetype, and it's probably a trade up.

Then there's the Projectionist. He swaps it for Hidden Presence as a bonus feat. That's pretty specialized. The Projectionist reads like an NPC archetype anyway. I mean, his particular schtick is that he takes over objects. I suppose it might be fun in an espionage/intrigue type campaign.

And then there's the Eyebiter, who is pretty weird. I mean, his psychic power is that you generate floating eyeballs? But anyway, he trades it for the Staring Eye ability to use his stares and gaze attacks through his eyeball familiar. Since "your stares are powerful but you have to get close to use them, squishy caster" is an ongoing issue with the Mesmerist, that's definitely worth swapping for. I mean, if you're willing to play a floating-eyeball freak of a psychic caster.

Finally, there's the Umbral Mesmerist. That swaps Mental Potency for Ephemeral Stare, which makes you *invisible to the target of your stare*, no save, as long as you don't take hostile action. That's pretty clearly superior. This is another specialized archetype -- you have to want to summon shadow creatures -- but it's a pretty good trade.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
avr wrote:

At the minimum levels they can be cast, this is the effect on some higher level spells:

Forgetful Slumber (4): from 10 HD limit to 12.
Mad Sultan's Melody (4): from 5 targets to 7.
Symbol of Sleep (5): from 10 HD limit to 12.
Greater Shadow Enchantment (6) used for Id Insinuation IV: from 4 targets to 7.

I didn't bother listing the endless 1 creature/CL spells.

Yeah, there are a lot of those. Relevant at lower levels, but by the time you're 10th level, getting 12 creatures instead of 10 is really not a big deal.

Honestly, the more I look at this, the more it looks like a classic case of Paizo giving something cool and useful with one hand, then panicking and nerfing it with the other. Paizo just... does that, sometimes.

Anyway -- thank you!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Tentative thought: stacking this with the Reptoid moves it from "hardly worth bothering" to "so-so". Of course, being a Reptoid carries a certain amount of baggage.

One possibility might be to ask your DM if you could swap some other racial trait for Reptoid-style Mental Potency. I'm not sure if it's ever been assigned a Racial Point value, but it's pretty clearly worth either 1 or 2 RPs. By way of comparison, other 1-point racial traits include low-light vision, dwarven-style Hatred and Defensive Training, a +10' bonus to base speed, minor breath weapons, resistance 5 to one type of energy, poison use, or a bite attack. 2-point traits include stuff like a static bonus feat, 60' darkvision, the ability to breathe water, or a prehensile tail.

To me it looks pretty clear that Mental Potency belongs in the first group and not the second. But AFAIK there's no official ruling on this, so consult with your DM. Speaking for myself, I'd see no problem with letting a player build (for instance) a gnome who had swapped Illusion Resistance for Mental Potency. At first level he can use Daze on slightly stronger creatures, and cast sleep on 5 HD instead of four: not exactly game-bending.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Lady-J wrote:
go mesmerist with 1 level dip into crossblooded sorc and 2 level dip into heavens oracle and you can be effecting creatures with 12ish hit die at level 8 with color spray and thats for the really good effects could get like 17 hit die for the lowest effect

Not really. If you start with an 18 Cha, by 8th level with boosts and an item it's 22, which is +6. If you're a mesmerist 5/oracle 2/sorc 1, you're getting +7 on your Color Spray levels. Which, okay, is strong enough: you can stun creatures up to 12 HD, stun and blind creatures up to 10 HD, and so forth. Pretty powerful.

However:

1) Even with the crossblooded dip, there'll be a bunch of things you can't affect. I'd argue that you're better off with Coaxing Spell, Threnodic Spell, and the Psychic Inception stare.

2) Tactically, Color Spray's super limited short range will always be a nuisance. You're squish, and you need to get within 15'. You can use Enlarge Spell to double the range, but you'll probably want to use a rod, because you're not going to have a lot of second level spell slots to play with.

3) This is a glass cannon, save or suck, one trick pony. You're ganked in pretty much every other way: at 8th level you have BAB +4 and no spells above second level. You're useless in melee and you're dangerously squish. You'll end a lot of combats with a single spell slot, but you'll also have stretches where you're just useless -- constructs, plants, things with blindsight, etc.

4) As you reach higher levels, SR becomes more common and Will saves get higher. Gradually, it's going to get harder and harder to zap things with a first level spell, no matter how powerful. This is a strong (if unbalanced) build at midlevels, but it's not going to carry you past Volume 4 of an average adventure path.

5) YMMV, but I have to think "I cast Color Spray!" is going to get pretty boring after a while. And that's almost all this character can do.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
DominusMegadeus wrote:
The problem is the same as it ever was. Fear spells should be enchantment instead of necromancy.

Yeah, this has never made any sense.

It's a double shame because Mesmerists can pick up the Nightmare Stare, piling on with fear effects.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Whoops, I quoted from the wrong source. Here's the corrected version:

Quote:

Mental Potency (Ex)

At 5th level, the mesmerist can affect more powerful creatures or a greater number of creatures than normal with his mental effects. Both the HD limit and the total number of HD affected with each enchantment or illusion spell he casts increase by 1. For enchantment and illusion spells he casts that target a number of creatures greater than one, the number of creatures affected also increases by one (so a spell that targets one creature per level would be affected, but a spell that targets only one creature would not be). For example, a 5thlevel mesmerist could affect 5 HD worth of creatures with sleep, affect 2d4+1 HD worth of creatures with hypnotism, and change the categories for color spray to “3 HD or fewer,” “4 or 5 HD,” and “6 or more HD.” The number of additional HD or creatures increases by an additional 1 for every 5 levels beyond 5th, to a maximum increase of 4 at 20th level.

It's a class attribute that kicks in at 5th level, so you won't get a lot of mileage out of Daze or most first level spells. However, Color Spray is specifically on the list, so that's a thing -- Color Spray is still occasionally useful even at 5th or 6th level. Not so much beyond that, though, and the scaling with levels is painfully slow.

Preliminary list of spells that are affected:

0 level

Daze

1st level

Auditory Hallucination
Color Spray
Hypnotism
Sleep

2nd level

Absurdity
Anonymous Interaction
Daze Monster
Hypnotic Pattern
Rage

3rd level

Audiovisual Hallucination
Deep Slumber
Demanding Message
Dreadscape
Lesser Geas

Several of these are pretty useless as they're "one creature per level", which becomes fairly pointless by midlevels. Others allow a marginal improvement, like Lesser Geas being able to affect creatures with up to 8 HD instead of 7.

Demanding Message is an interesting case, because its obvious intention is "you send a message as per Message, up to one recipient/level but then you can cast Suggestion on one recipient". However, under strict RAW, it looks to me like you'd get one extra recipient /and/ one extra target for Suggestion. Not exactly game-bending -- remember, Mesmerists already get Suggestion as a 2nd level spell -- but something.

Overall this class ability is looking very meh indeed. Which is a shame, because the Mesmerist is generally a pretty fun and flavorful class.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

A minor point: while Mental Potency is really not that great overall, it does allow one annoying trick. Take Daze as a cantrip. Mental Potency means it can now affect humanoids of up to 6 HD instead of maxing out at four. That's almost every humanoid you'll meet in the first module. And while cantrips generally have weak saving throws, your racial Cha bonus plus your Stare means that most creatures will need a 15 or 16 to save.

Let your DM know about this in advance, because it can be annoying as heck, especially if your party is large.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

So Mesmerists have the Mental Potency class attribute. Here it is:

Quote:
Mental Potency (Ex) -- A Mentalist’s mental effects can affect more powerful creatures or a greater number of creatures than normal. Both the Hit Die limit and the total number of Hit Dice affected by each enchantment or illusion spell it casts increase by 1. For enchantment and illusion spells it casts that target a number of creatures greater than one, the number of creatures affected also increases by one (so a spell that targets one creature per level would be affected, but a spell that targets only one creature would not be).

The Reptoid race also gets this as a racial attribute, and if you're a Reptoid Mesmerist, it stacks. Okay, so... what spells on the Mesmerist list would be affected by this?

At low levels, I only see a few. Cause Fear doesn't qualify because it's necromancy. The Daze cantrip now goes to 5 HD instead of four, and the second level spell Daze Monster goes from six to seven. Color Spray... yeah, that's not really clear. It would be pretty nifty if it did stack, because Color Spray is a pretty powerful low level spell. Hypnotism goes from 2d4 HD to 2d4+1; Hypnotic Pattern goes to from 2d4+level to 2d4+level+1. Absurdity and Anonymous Interaction affect one more creature. But they're creatures/level, and you're already fourth level by the time you can use them, so no big deal. You get one more creature on Rage (it's normally one/three levels). Scare would be very good, getting a double boost on both HD and creatures affected, but... like Cause Fear, it's necromancy. Bah.

And that seems to be about it, at least for spell levels 0-2. Not very impressive, unless you allow Color Spray, in which case I'd say it moves from "hardly worth bothering" to "meh".

Am I missing something? Does this class attribute get much better at higher levels?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

The reptoids are IMO a rather underserved race -- the Bestiary doesn't give a lot of detail, and AFAIK no splatbook has either (yet).

That said, congratulations on a flavorful choice. The reptoid is a natural match for the Mesmerist class: +2 Cha, and they even have a racial ability that stacks with the Mesmerist's class ability. (A minor one, yes, and not terribly well supported by the Mesmerist's spell list AFAICT. But still.)

As to the reptoids themselves, I've used them a couple of times. I don't see them as conquerors, myself. More like opportunistic scavengers: they invite the Great Old Ones in (or whatever), and then they loot the planet thoroughly during the ensuing chaos, and then they duck through a portal to the next hapless planet. Season to taste, and discuss with your DM.

cheers,

Doug M.


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Adam, everyone, thanks very much for the additional information! It sounds like this was atmospheric, creepy, and stressful -- exactly what you'd want for a romp through Lovecraft-land. Having a PC crack under the strain (and maybe change alignment?) is also totally appropriate!

Your add-ons (lighting and wind sounds) sound awesome.

One further question. Were you players actually able to get enough sleep? 68 hours of play in 108 hours... in theory, that leaves you just enough time to eat, get eight hours of sleep, and maybe check your e-mail. In practice, though, were you guys getting a bit worn down by the end of it? And if so, how much of that was "we're playing a long time and very intensively", and how much was this particular module?

Curiously yours,

Doug M.


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Daniel Scholler wrote:
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

Also, if your players are having problems with flying polyps, they may wish to consult this short video. (Not a spoiler at this point, I don't think.)

Doug M.

I've done my best to avoid any spoilers of the genre until the game is finished but I'll make sure that is the first video I watch once I can finally delve into the Cthulu mythos and fill in some of the gaps information. The Necronomicon is first on my reading list since I now have an official reason to read it!

It's a short video, and it really isn't a spoiler...

There isn't actually a Necronomicon! But there are a bunch of interesting stories by HP Lovecraft. (Note: People, even people who really like Lovecraft -- no, /especially/ them -- disagree sharply on which are the best. Don't want to threadjack, so won't get into it here, but don't be surprised if different people give you dramatically different reading lists.)

Doug M.


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Also, if your players are having problems with flying polyps, they may wish to consult this short video. (Not a spoiler at this point, I don't think.)

Doug M.


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Definitely interested in hearing more about this.

Module 5 had (I thought) a really interesting setting. Did that come across in play?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Excellent review, SP. My PBP group is only 1/4 of the way through Book One (PBP, good luck finishing a module in one year...) but already we see some of the strengths and weaknesses.

Firm agreement that the amnesia start was both daring and brilliant. Also, Book Three looks bloody amazing -- I can't wait to get to it, even though it's literally years away in RT. On read-through, it looks like one of the two or three best individual modules Paizo has ever published. Also-also, agreement about the Big Occult Item; if you're not a wizard, it's a bit meh. It should whisper to the players, you know?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Responding to this late, but a couple of quick thoughts.

1) The Harrower is flavorful but underpowered. It's not so underpowered that it doesn't work, but be aware that it's not one of the optimized PrCs. Strange Aeons is a challenging AP, so that's another thing. Discuss this with your DM.

2) From a mechanical POV, crossing a Harrower with a Magus is a terrible idea. Magi generally don't do well with PrCs or multiclassing, because so many of their class attributes are enhanced by leveling up as a magus. Also, Magi usually need to hit to hurt; crossing a magus with a 1/2 BAB caster doesn't help with that. So, Card caster / Harrower is super flavorful, but moves you from "a bit underpowered" to "uh oh". You're much better off going Cartomancer witch. Or, seriously, just play a sorceror. Not as flavorful, but builds on Cha! The witch gets kind of MADdy because you need good Int but also decent Cha.

3) Oddly, from midlevels onward the Harrower makes a pretty good blaster. True thing. That's because the Tower of Strength ability (3rd level Harrower) gives you +1 damage per die for each card you draw from the suit of Strength. The Tower of Charisma (4th level) gives you +1 on the save DC for each card you draw from Charisma. So, a midlevel harrower build could reasonably concentrate on damage-dealing save-or-suck spells -- your classic Fireball and Lightning Bolt, and the like -- because these leverage your abilities. After all, you have about a 40% chance of getting an extra point on each die every time you cast, and a ~40% chance of getting +1 or more on the save DC. That works out to, on average, about 10-12% more damage from blasty spells with d6es. Not huge, but nothing to sneeze at either. Tower of Charisma also encourages enchantments and other save-or-sucks, especially if you have a debuffer in the party -- combining a Harrower with a Mesmerist or Court Bard could be a lot of fun.

Doug M.


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gustavo iglesias wrote:
I'd be more interested in SS than in Second Darkness or WotR, to be honest

Firm agreement. WoTR has an excellent opening and there's much to like in the first half. By the back half, though, the Mythic rules really turn it into rocket tag -- and if the players are competent, then it's rocket tag that they're always going to win.

Doug M.


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Adam Smith wrote:
Based on what you both are saying and what I've seen on the boards for SS, it seems that there might be some interest in seeing an AP that the community finds difficult to run as-written, played in its entirety by a group that specializes in running material as such?

Well if that's what you're after, there's always Second Darkness...

Doug M.


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Adam Smith wrote:


It's interesting that you mention Souls for Smuggler's Shiv, since as GM I am constantly tearing through published material trying to figure out where we'll go next. I stopped immediately when I hit Jacobs's adventure, and read the entirety in one night. I've been considering Serpent's Skull as a fun throwback for a while now after being so inspired by PF37; you may have just helped me sell the group on it, since we all loved In Search of Sanity, as evidenced here. Thanks again!

1) Souls for Smuggler's Shiv is amazing. There's general consensus on this. It's one of the best AP modules ever, and might be the best Volume 1 of any AP. The only reason I say "might" is because there are some players who won't love the hardscrabble, bare-hands aspect of the first half of the module, where you're starting with no equipment and have to worry about stuff like diseases and tropical rainstorms. But IME those guys are a minority, and anyway this module offers so much more -- cool encounters, all kinds of tropes. It's just really solid and well done.

AFAICT this is the general consensus on the forums: most people like SfSS a lot, and many people absolutely love it.

2) BUT. BUT BUT BUT.

The rest of the AP is a very, very mixed bag. Volume 2 is (IMO) okay to good, a race against rival factions across the savannah of not-Africa to find a lost city. But after that it gets wildly uneven and famously grindy. There's some good stuff in there, including a cool fight with, basically, King Kong. But pretty much everyone agrees that there are also major flaws. The back half in particular is notorious for being super grindy.

Again, AFAICT this is the general consensus on the forums: many people like SS, but a large minority are very critical of the later modules.

3) My understanding is that you Amber Dice guys run the APs absolutely straight, as written, with no DM adjustments or tweaking. If that's how you plan to play it, then ask around first, because a lot of people think the latter part of SS, as written, is... troubled.

Whatever you do, I'll be watching with great interest!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Got a PC who was bitten by a wererat and is ready to embrace the curse. He's evil anyway, so that's not an issue. Becoming a wererat gives a pretty sweet package of mechanical benefits, though, to the point where it's almost OP:

-- complete immunity (!) to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage unless silver is involved (and if I'm reading this right, that applies in all three forms);
-- the scent ability
-- darkvision 60' when in your rat form, and
-- a free bite attack when in hybrid form.

The only real disadvantage is that your alignment must change to LE, and as noted the player doesn't mind that a bit.

I'm okay with this overall, because the player is halfway through a 5e adaptation of "Call Forth Darkness", volume 2 of the Way of the Wicked AP. This is a module where, frankly, balance isn't a major issue. The PCs are up against so much craziness, especially in the back half, that little things like immunity to weapon damage aren't going to be that big a deal. If you're familiar with CfD, you know what I'm talking about.

That said, I don't love the idea of just handing over a package of free abilities. (For starters, if there are no strings attached, then the rest of the party will be clamoring to become wererats too.) So: I'm looking for suggestions about balancing, whether RP or mechanical. How can I keep this interesting for the PC, without making it so OP that it's disruptive to the game?

Thoughts?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

That's more or less the method used in "The Thing". Not clear if it would work on a creature using Alter Self, though.

Doug M.


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Here's a system I posted back in November on the Strange Aeons subforum. I used it IMC and the players liked it. YMMV.

* * * * *
I love the amnesia aspect of ISoS. What I don't like so much: that the PCs, after the opening encounter, immediately find all their stuff and start off pretty much unscathed. I think the horror aspect is likely to be ramped up if the PCs have a more realistic "wake up naked in an asylum" experience. Yes, ISoS is a pretty tough module. But I have a party of six, so I'm okay with handicapping them a little. I think this system would also work with four 20-point characters (since the module assumes 15 points).

Before starting, I'm going to tell the players that they have six Starting Points, which they can distribute among four categories: Stuff, Physical, Mental, and Fugue. They can spend up to three points in each category -- so, for instance, a PC might start with Stuff 2, Physical 3, Mental 1, and Fugue 0. What I'll tell the PCs: "Stuff 3 means you start with lots of stuff. Physical 3 means you're in great physical shape, Mental 3 same. Fugue 3, you have the least possible effects from the fugue. Lower numbers are less good." No details beyond that.

So what will these mean? Well:

Stuff:

Stuff 3: You find all your starting equipment in the first room. Since your character used to be a favored servant of Lowls, I will add a useful item of up to 2,000 gp value into your stuff... a magic weapon, minor magic item, a spellbook with extra spells up to fourth level, or the like. Your stuff will also contain a clue to your past (embroidered initials on fine clothing, or some such.)

Stuff 2: You find all your starting equipment in the first room. It's the normal equipment for a 1st level PC, with no clues.

Stuff 1: The DM determines one item that is definitely present -- a weapon, spellbook, or holy symbol, whatever the character most needs. Everything else, have the player go down his character sheet and roll: 50% chance it's there, otherwise it's marked "missing". Missing items will be found with Winter and the refugees, and can be claimed as soon as they trust the PC (attitude friendly or better).

Stuff 0: You got nothin'. You'll find one critical item (as above, weapon or spellbook) in the possession of the first ghoul or doppelganger you encounter in area B. After that, the refugees may have some of your stuff: roll for everything else, 50% there, 50% lost forever.

Physical:

Physical 3: You were dosed with a powerful stimulant that will temporarily increase either your Con or your Dex by +4. The stimulant wears off four hours after you wake up.

Physical 2: You're fine.

Physical 1: You have an injury (half your hp) that also affects your movement: either one arm isn't working, or you're at -10' on your move. The latter effect will disappear once you have healed the hp AND have a night's good rest (i.e., in the chapel... there's no good rest anywhere else).

Physical 0: You have the Sickened condition, and will have it until you have a night's good rest AND someone makes a DC 15 Heal check on you. You also have either a disease or an addiction (DM's choice); if a disease, you're already past the incubation period.

Mental:

Mental 3: You awake with your mind strangely clear and strong. You are immune to San damage for the next four hours. If not using the Sanity system, then you gain +4 on Will saves for the next four hours.

Mental 2: You're fine.

Mental 1: You're disoriented and distracted. You are at -4 to either Wis or Cha,and whenever confronted with a stressful situation (such as combat) you must make a DC 15 Will save in order to place yourself in danger. (If you fail the Will save by 5 or more, you can do nothing but cower.) You can retry the Will save each round; once it's made, you can act normally for the rest of that encounter or situation.

Mental 0: You seem fine at first, but in fact you have gained a madness as per the DMG -- either paranoia, mania, or phobia (DM's choice). The madness DC is 15. The madness passes if you can get a good night's rest and then make the Will save, OR you get a good night's rest after someone has made a DC 20 Heal check on you. The Heal check DC is reduced by 1 for every ten minutes the healer spends sitting with you and speaking calmly.

Fugue:

Fugue 3: You still get occasional flickers of memory from your past life. The DM may use this to give you hints or clues at any time during the first two modules. Additionally, during the first week after waking, you may reroll up to three attacks, saves, or skill checks, as the fading memories of your past self briefly inspire you to greater competence. These rerolls are a limited resource; once you've used them, they're gone.

Fugue 2: As per normal.

Fugue 1: You no longer remember your name. The DM or the other players will give you a name based on some characteristic ("Scarface", "Twitchy", or the like). Also, some of your memories are slow to recover. Whenever you attempt to attack with a weapon, use a skill, or cast a spell, there is a 20% chance you are unable to bring those memories to the fore. For a weapon or a skill, you are treated as non-proficient (-4 to attack rolls, no +3 bonus on skill checks). For a spell, you are unable to cast it, but you do not lose the spell or slot. Once you have used a particular weapon or skill, or cast a particular spell, you no longer have to make this roll. You can try to reroll a failed roll after at least ten minutes have passed. This condition passes after a good night's rest.

Fugue 0: As above, except the failure chance is now 50%, and you don't remember how to read or how to speak any languages but Common. The condition persists until you can get a good night's rest and then make a DC 15 save, OR you get a good night's rest after someone has made a DC 20 Heal check on you. The Heal check DC is reduced by 1 for every ten minutes the healer spends sitting with you and speaking calmly.

If you do use it, please let us know how it works out!

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

You know, I like 5e a lot as a system -- but there's just so much less stuff available for it, whether in hard copy or online.

There's no equivalent to Ravingdork's NPCs? No forum with a collection of NPC builds?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Is there such a thing? I'm throwing a bunch of NPC parties at my PCs (running them through a conversion of Call Forth Darkness), so this would be super useful.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

The first module is basically a gigantic dungeon crawl, except that it's an insane asylum instead of a dungeon.

The middle two modules are pretty railroady. But the railroad is cleverly set up: you're chasing someone! Also, the third module is one half very good (a trip down a river, having loosely connected encounters) and one half *amazing* (the Dreamlands), so that mitigates the railroadiness a lot. The last two modules include some insane sandboxes that can be taken in different orders; they're not railroady at all.

(For the record, my take on the six modules of this AP goes something like Very Good -- Okay -- Holy crap, that was amazing! -- Eh -- Very Good -- Very Good.)

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Cory Stafford 29 wrote:
Any healing she does would be a standard action. Being gimped this much means she can't heal at all even with a heal check, or a wand,or dumping a potion down someone's throat.

DC 20 means she'll succeed about a third of the time. So, she can still provide support... just not in a combat situation, or if time is tight.

Doug M.


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Here's my own version, spinning off the half-demons from Demons Revisited. Start with the standard half-fiend template, then modify as follows.

* * *

Type: The creature’s type remains the same but it gains the shapechanger subtype. Do not recalculate HD, BAB, or saves.

Armor Class: Natural armor bonus improves by +4.

Defenses/Qualities: Gains darkvision 60 feet; DR 5/ good or piercing; and SR equal to creature’s CR + 11 (maximum 25).

Speed: No change; the creature does not gain a fly speed.

Melee: A half-rakshasa gains two claw attacks and a bite attack. Damage depends on its size.

Special Attacks: A half-rakshasa does not gain Smite Good or any other special attacks.

Alternate Spell-Like Abilities: Instead of Darkness 3x/day, Enlarge Person or Reduce Person (either) once/day. Instead of Desecrate, Detect Thoughts 3x/day. Replace Unholy Blight with Suggestion. Replace Contagion with Lightning 3x/day. A half-rakshasa gains no spell-like abilities for having more than 10 levels or hit dice.

Abilities: A half-rakshasa gains Str +2, Dex +4, Con +4, Int +2, Wis +2, and Cha +4.

Shifter: The half-rakshasa gains the SQ change shape (any humanoid of its own size category, alter self), with the limitation that it can only change its shape up to 3x/day

Deceiver: A half-rakshasa gains +4 racial bonuses to Bluff and Disguise checks.

Vicious Heritage: Once a half-rakshasa reaches 10th level, it ceases to gain spell-like abilities and its SR can no longer increase. However, if it seeks out and kills an actual rakshasa with at least as many hit dice as the half-rakshasa, then it takes that rakshasa's place on the Great Wheel. The half-rakshasa immediately becomes a full rakshasa (keeping all its earned experience and character levels), while the rakshasa is reborn as an ordinary mortal.

* * *

Notes: Trying to use the Paizo half-demons as a model here. This guy has no fly speed and no smiting; to balance, he gets better SLAs than most and a nice natural armor bonus. The "enlarge/reduce person" SLA is a nod to Ghatotkacha, the most famous half-rakshasa from the Mahabharata. The Vicious Heritage is my own addition, but it does help explain why there aren't a lot of these guys around, and it gives many (though not all) of them a built-in motivation. A sufficiently arrogant rakshasa might deliberately spawn a half-breed to be a terror to his relatives or rivals, and the Fearless Rakshasa Hunter may actually be a half-rakshasa with an agenda of his own...

Thoughts?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

A-ha: it looks like the text of the article is available at the Forgotten Realms wiki. And there's another version -- 3PP? not clear -- at the Spheres of Power wiki.

...hmm, I don't actually love either of these versions. Ah well, if I really need one I can whip up my own. Thanks much anyway, Kalindlara!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Kalindlara wrote:
One of the 3.5 Dragon Magazines (done by Paizo) had a number of half-monster templates, among them the half-rakshasa.

Aha! Does anyone know which issue? Is the article available somewhere?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Axial wrote:

The problem with that, Douglas, is that according to lore Hobgoblins hate arcane magic and distrust everyone who uses it.

Maybe a Cleric of Hadregash?

Ha, forgot that. I had an evil wizard all ready to go...

Well, could still use a mercenary wizard hired by the hobgoblin leadership (and that much more cranky because the troops dislike and distrust her). But alternately, sure, an evil cleric. That works too.

-- Why do this? First, because it gets rid of the rule-bending ballista; I join with the posters who are murmuring their dislike of this. Yes, sometimes you can handwave rules for drama's sake, but this verges on a bit much. And second, because there's never any harm in adding another evil NPC to give the players someone to hate.

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Has anyone ever done a half-rakshasa?

Doug M.


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I'm considering adding an evil human wizard to the hobgoblins' force pool. He should be MUCH too tough for the PCs -- at least 7th level, maybe higher.

In this scenario, we still have the ballista, but what cripples Aubrin long-term is the wizard strolling in and zapping her with Bestow Curse. "-4 on everything" or "50% chance each round to do nothing" are good starting points, but I'm pretty sure a creative DM can come up with a curse that would effectively incapacitate here. Here's one possibility: whenever Aubrin attempts to do anything other than take a move, free, or immediate action, she must make a DC 20 Will save or be Nauseated for d4 rounds. That means she can't usually fight or cast spells, but can still serve as a backup healer and advisor. That's a first pass; I'm sure you guys can come up with something even better.

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Demons Revisited gave us a bunch of new templates for half-fiends: the half-balor, half-succubus, half-marilith, and so forth. These play with the standard half-fiend template in various ways. However, AFAIK this was a one-off -- nobody (not Paizo and not any 3PP) ever did any half-fiend templates for devils or any other sort of fiend. Correct?

Doug M.


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Big Amber Die fan, love these reports.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Just got an e-mail that these two will drop on the 29th of March.

Doug M.


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WagnerSika wrote:


@Douglas Muir 406
Your version of Kargeld was really intimidating, do you have some stats for him? And what exactly was the statue of Two Queens? If Kargeld had maanged to set it off what would have happened?

As it happens, we had a conversation about building the good Captain over in the campaign's discussion thread. Here are the relevant posts.

Designing Captain Odenkirk (Mechanics):
The original Captain Odenkirk was a Neutral Evil barbarian. No change there. But he needed a significant power-up and redesign to give him a chance to face this party. With eidolon, dog and ogre you have a total of nine characters who can act every round. That tips the action economy far in your favor. So I knew that mechanically I'd have to build him carefully if I wanted him to last past the first round.

I made him a Bbn 8 / Expert 1. The Expert level was to reflect his captaining skills and long experience at sea, and also to nudge up his skills and Will save. His feats started with the usual barbarian trio Toughness, Power Attack and Cleave. I gave him Iron Will because I knew he'd be facing a lot of spells targeting his Will save, and also because it was thematically appropriate.

After some consideration, I gave him Improved Sunder. The Sunder CM doesn't get a lot of play because it's so cruel -- it targets your beloved weapons, and leaves the fighter types standing helplessly with nothing. But the Captain *is* a cruel bastard, and I felt it would be totally consistent for him to smash your weapon, render you helpless, laugh at you, and then kill you. I gave him an adamantite axe so that he could sunder all day long and, well, you can see how that's worked out.

For barbarian powers I gave him Defensive stance to nudge his AC from bad to mediocre, followed by Spirit Totem and Superstition. If you're following along, this meant that his Will save would gain up to +2 expert +2 Iron Will +3 Superstition +2 rage in addition to the normal +2 for a barbarian and whatever his Wis bonus is. His other saves would also be respectable. Very important when facing four spellcasters at once! (I don't love Superstition for the same reason I don't love Haste -- it's so good that almost everyone takes it. But, hell, you guys took Haste. What's a DM to do? It's an arms race, you gotta keep up.)

He got some special powers from his connection with the Kraken. After some consideration, I decided that (1) he would get regeneration like a troll as long as he was near salt water, and (2) he'd get a better version of Spirit Totem -- among other things, it has a 10' reach and does 2d4 instead of d4.

There was no way to make his AC better than so-so without redesigning the whole character. Ultimately I shrugged and decided that he'd rely on Toughness and raging to bring him through.

He has a 10 Int and only put a single rank in Sense Motive, which meant that -- up until the final boss fight -- you guys were able to scam him pretty effectively. This was deliberate. If I'd made him smarter or cranked his Sense Motive up to the max, he might have seen through you, and that could have been lethal. Putting you on a boat with a powerful hair-trigger paranoiac who was *also* incredibly sensitive and perceptive would have been unfair.

Now, Bag'o'Bones had a high Sense Motive. Luckily for you, you decided to kill him as fast as possible, and his lizard too. (Yeah, the lizard could have been trouble.)

Designing Captain Odenkirk (Roleplaying):
One thing about running an evil campaign is that you guys get to spend a lot more time in the company of evil NPCs. In a standard campaign, you'd just be killing them. Here you get to hang out with them first. So, I've been trying to present different kinds of villainy for your consideration. The Cardinal, Tiadora, Irin, Zargo, and now the Captain... they're all evil, but they're evil in very different ways.

The Captain was mostly straightforward, but there were subtleties. I made him cruel, domineering, paranoid, violent and greedy. Not randomly or recklessly so -- he'll keep his oath to deliver the weapons, and you, to your destinations -- but he's ultimately too selfish and greedy to be trustworthy. In other words, pretty much pure Neutral Evil. Displaying his character to you was a mix of "show" (his constant brutality towards his sailors) and "tell" (the kraken backstory with him sacrificing a shipload of refugees, Nimpy's story, the first mate).

Does the Captain have positive aspects? Well, he's utterly fearless (as seen in the encounter with the Mountain That Swims). And I did give him a faint hint of a softer side: his melancholic yearning for Homeland. He loves his cruel, savage native land. But his brutality and violence got him exiled, and his greed means he'll never pay the blood-prices that would let him go home. So he's really a man trapped by his own character. You could almost feel a tiny bit sorry for him. Of course, this just makes him more violent and cruel. So, maybe not so much.

The Captain's drinking was almost a throwaway line -- he goes onshore sometimes and drinks, but not on the ship because it makes him ill tempered. (As opposed to his normal kindly mild-mannered self.) You guys somehow got the idea of a drinking contest. That's a common fantasy trope, it's true, but not in this case. The Captain is not a social drinker! Quite the opposite.

Anyway. I wanted him to be a fairly well realized NPC; and then I wanted you guys to be wary of him, if not outright frightened by him. You can tell me how well that worked or not.

Depending on your party, you may want to adjust the details. For instance, if you have a standard party of four (mine was six), then lose at least one level of barbarian. But the Captain's low Sense Motive means a clever party *should* be able to get him into a bad situation, and then action economy takes over.

Thank You For Sailing Frosthamar Cruise Lines!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Skorn wrote:
The culmination of the prestige class is when you get level 6 and gain Infernal Transport, which moves you, and possibly some allies through hell on the way to your destination. So you dimension door or teleport with your party paladin, he sees he he moves momentarily through a place like hell, and you vehemently deny you saw anything of the sort. :)

Becoming a Diabolist requires calling a devil using Planar Binding or Planar Ally. Since these are 5th level spells, normally you must be 9th level (if full caster), meaning you must enter Diabolist at 10th level.

The good news: you are allowed to use a scroll to cast these spells, so you can enter Diabolist earlier -- as early as 6th level, if you're willing to spend a scroll that's a bit expensive at that level, and also risk a spell failure roll. The bad news: I believe this tactic is not allowed in building characters for PFS play. So, if you're playing PFS, you can't enter the Diabolist class until 10th level.

Doug M.


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A data point: yesterday there was a special election for the Connecticut State Senate. It was for the 32nd District, which is the reddest district in an otherwise purply-blue state. The 32nd is rural and exurban, and demographically it's oldish and very white. It hasn't sent a Democrat to the Connecticut State House since 1891.

(Why do I know this? Because I used to live in that district, and I spent some time phone banking for the Democrat over the weekend.)

Nobody expected to win this one -- and we didn't. However, the numbers are interesting. In November, the 32nd District went 66-34 for the Republican State Senate candidate. Yesterday, it went 55-45. That's an eleven point swing. This is the second special election in two weeks, and the last one (in Delaware) also saw a swing towards the Democrats. In that case, the swing was about seven points; since it was a purple district to begin with, the Democrat won comfortably.

Special elections happen all the time, and usually nobody pays much attention. But over the next few months, they're going to be a lot more important. If you live in Pennsylvania or Louisiana, you have special elections coming up in March; if you live in Alabama, Kansas or Georgia, you get your chance in April. The Kansas and Georgia elections are for the US House of Representatives, so they'll get extra attention.

Throw a few bucks at a candidate, sign up for a phone bank and make some calls, maybe go knock on a few doors. What the hey.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
Daedalus the Dungeon Builder wrote:
DM_DM wrote:
bitter lily wrote:
I'm hoping for a guide on summoning creatures willing to help out for a good cause -- and some reward that makes sense to them!

You're thinking of the Planar Ally spells. That's exactly what they are for.

Doug M.

Which are unavailable for wizards, sorcerers, summoners, etc. Occultist arcanists get them, but so far as I know, the rest are divine caasters.

Yes, divine casters get Planar Ally, arcane casters get Planar Binding. It's been that way since Second Edition which is, yikes, going on thirty years now.

"But I want to play an arcane caster who can make win-win deals with friendly outsiders!" Yes, and maybe you also want to play an arcane caster who can channel divine energy and heal. But the game doesn't allow every possible combination of "character class" and "thing you want to do". You're forced to make choices. Yes, sometimes that's annoying. But it's literally the way the game is played.

Doug M.


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Meanwhile, let me try to answer your questions.

-- How quickly can you do the opposed charisma check? I would say immediately. In fact, my interpretation is that it MUST take place immediately. Otherwise, the balance of the spell tips in favor of the caster, who can leave the creature stuck in the circle for ten minutes while he goes to powder his nose and cast a bunch of buffs on himself.

-- What kind of action is it? Normally this is not an issue. Planar Binding takes ten minutes to cast, so whether you do the subsequent check as a free, standard, or full-round action is pretty irrelevant. However, the Blood Summoner's Fiendish Calling Ability happens in a single round, so now time becomes a concern. If you can do it as a free action, that's great. If it requires a standard, then effectively this spell requires two rounds (one to call, one to do the check), making this ability almost useless outside of combat. RAW gives no guidance, so you're on your own here.

Personally, I think requiring a standard or even a FRA is completely reasonable. Yes, it nerfs the Blood Summoner a bit. You know what? The Blood Summoner is pretty cheesy to begin with, and Fiendish Calling is super abusable. Requiring a round of bargaining isn't going to break it -- you can still require your called creature to stick around for days, after all.

-- "If you can immediately make a check is the trap even necessary?" Yes, because if you FAIL the check, the creature is then free to do as it pleases -- attack you, teleport away to wreak chaos on the material plane, or simply roll its eyes and plane shift back home. The trap prevents these things... the creature is stuck for up to days/level, and you can come back and attempt a new check every day.

Note that this is another reason not to use the Blood Summoner's ability in combat. In a normal planar binding, you can accept a failure chance of (let's say) 30%; if you fail, you just try again tomorrow. Use Fiendish Calling in combat, and that's a 30% chance that you've just added another enemy.

-- "So, is the trap part of the magic of the binding, or is it only highly-advised?" The latter.

-- "And what if you want to call a creature, but not bind it (e.g. an allied outsider from a different plain, or a creature that you worship)? Can you in this case leave the trap away?" Normally that's impossible, because a normal Planar Binding selects a random typical creature of that particular type... you get a randomly selected ice devil or whatever. The only exception is if you have the creature's true name, in which case you can summon it again and again.

-- "Does the creature have to inform you when its task is done? Can it not inform you and stay on the current plain indefinitely?" -- Oh, clever. Well, let's see: the duration of the spell is days/level, so at that point the spell would expire, sending the creature back home. Most called creatures WANT to go home; they have lives and jobs, and they don't want to hang around on the material plane. But, okay, there will be exceptions. Presumably most summoners will include a "report back promptly" instruction, but this is not required. So *if* the summoner forgets or neglects to include this instruction, and *if* the creature has some reason or motivation to hang around on the material plane, then yes, it could stay here for up to days/level of the caster.

-- "What does unreasonable mean here? Such commands that are not logically consistent? Otherwise what marks an unreasonable command?" The RAW is not clear. However, one definition of unreasonable is "extreme". IMO, this includes commands that would cause the creature to die; or to have a very high likelihood of death; or that would cause it to violate its alignment.

Good questions. The Planar Binding spells are not very well written, and the Blood Summoner just adds another level of complication.

Doug M.


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I addressed most of these questions in DMDM's Guide to Planar Binding, which can be found here and also here (second part) Where rules and FAQ don't give clear answers, I try to fill in the blanks as best I can.

If you're looking for things to call with the Planar Binding spells, google "Crowdsource Planar Binding" -- there are three threads, one for each of the PB spells, with dozens of creatures discussed. If you're playing at high levels, or planning to, google "miniguide Gate".

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

First Choice: CotCT. It has everything -- urban intrigue, dungeons, wilderness, well developed NPCs, and even a Deck of Many Things. It was good to begin with, and then the hardback collection is even better -- they cleaned up some minor problems and added some good stuff. There's a reason this got collected; it's always been one of the top three APs. Unless you have a very unusual group of players, you can't really go wrong with Crimson Throne. (Also, it has one of the more active forums on this board, so you'll always have a chance to ask questions and bounce ideas.)

Second Choice: Strange Aeons. Lovecraft Lovecraft Lovecraft. Very well done -- I'm running it right now and having a fine old time. It is a horror AP and, as noted, four of the five modules involve a very protracted chase. If your players don't care for horror, or aren't cool with the somewhat unusual way it starts, then no. But otherwise, it's a strong contender.

Third Choice: Iron Gods. People tend to either like this a lot or... not. I'm in the not-group. I don't love the concept to begin with; I also don't think the implementation was all that great. (Like, an archer build is always going to be better than a laser pistol, type of thing.) As others have noted, it's really three plot-arcs that are only loosely connected. There are a number of annoying plot holes right from the start. ("Okay, so four other adventurer parties have gone down that hole, including the high level wizard. None have come And as to PC motivation, when a module's intro basically says "well there's no compelling reason for the PCs to go through this module except to grind and get stuff, so they may want to skip ahead", then you know there's a problem. If you think your players will go nuts for WOW D&D plus groovy sci-fi high-tech, and also your players will grind ahead without worrying too much about plot, then maybe. But honestly, I'd pick either of the other two in a flash.

Doug M.


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Reduxist wrote:
@Douglas Muir there are also the Caller's Feathers which are one-use items that can boost your HD limit. At 2,000 GP or 1,000 if crafting it, it's a steal at 15th level. There also racisl traits that augment Planar Ally such as the Aasimar's Planar Negotiator, which reduces bargaining prices by 10%, or the Drow's Blasphemous Covenant , which specifically targets demons, but reduces the cost by a whopping 20% on top of giving demons you summoned via Summon Monster additional health.

Someone has read my Guide to the Diabolist!

Or if you haven't read it, and you knew that stuff anyway - then go read it, please, and tell me if you have any comments. Well-informed input is the very best kind.

Doug M.

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