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Rogue Elf

Face_P0lluti0n's page

461 posts. Alias of Andrew McMenemy.


1 to 50 of 461 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>
Scarab Sages

A technological Alchemist or Gunslinger sounds appropriate. Maybe an Alchemist or Investigator is looking for ways to incorporate medical nanotechnology into their potions.

Another idea that might be fun - A Wizard or Arcanist that believes that their magic is just technology or scientific processes that haven't been fully explained yet, and looks down on spellcasters who engage in "magical thinking". Could possibly work with a Sorcerer, too, if the character believed that the source of their Sorcerer spells was irradiation or mutation by hyper-technology (or maybe they got some nanites in their blood which has given them their "bloodline"), and was looking for more tech in order to grow their power.

Another random idea - A Witch who believes that their patron is a visiting alien who has taken the form of or is remotely controlling their familiar, granting the Witch the use of alien technology that looks like spells. This idea could work with a Cleric or Oracle too, I suppose, if the character believed that gods are actually visiting benevolent aliens.

Scarab Sages

Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

I would say it's a very different approach to the same classic dungeon-crawling material.

If you're comfortable hacking your own material into character creation, it could make a particularly great system for Planescape. As written it reads kind of like the Planescape perspective on "prime" adventurers being greedy, dangerous thugs. But it does support the idea of conflicts that are not combat being used to negotiate encounters with beings vastly more powerful than yourself -- another Planescape theme. In that respect, it might be a better system for Planescape than D&D ever was. If you want to capture the feeling of "little fish making due in a big pond" this could definitely work.

Eberron I'm less familiar with it, but Torchbearer isn't really set up for ubiquitous magic. You could make it work, but scarcity of basic resources is a major theme of the system, so you'd need to find a similar aspect of Eberron to latch onto. It's not something I imagine jiving well with the dungeonpunk feel.

But, as written, it is best for a jokey, almost parody take on the dungeon crawl tropes. At the same time, it's feels more gritty and "realistic" because of the way inventory has been handled. Inventory is an entertaining minigame that lends itself to roleplay.

I've often heard that Dungeon World and Torchbearer are two games approaching the same subject matter from completely different angles. The Torchbearer angle is: what would these dungeon-crawl adventurers actually be like? Greedy, hungry, ill-tempered, murderous... let's make that fodder for roleplaying, and make a lot of rules that feed into that. Dungeonworld, as I understand it (not much) is about capturing the feel of playing the game back in the day. Also cool.

Yeah, to my understanding, Dungeon World embraces the "designated hero/protagonist" element. "Be a fan of the PCs" is one of the primary rules of GMing DW. But the old-school is also there, in the form of race-locked classes (only humans can be Paladins, Elves can't be Clerics, etc), heavy emphasis on the "classic" classes, races, spells, monsters, etc

Scarab Sages

I've heard of it, but never checked it out. I've been eyeing Dungeon World with interest, but now you've got me curious about Torchbearer. Does it mainly do traditional dunegon-crawl, elves and wizards fantasy, or would it hold up well to stuff like Eberron or Planescape?

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Kyle Baird wrote:
I'd remove multiclassing.

Hmm. Come to think of it, with all of the classes and archetypes out there that represent nearly any combination of the major class flavors, it does seem less and less necessary for preserving flavor. Once upon a time, someone wanting to play a Fighter/Wizard would have to actually multiclass Fighter and Wizard, but now they could play a Magus. If someone wants to play a Cleric/Rogue, there's the Inquisitor. For a Fighter/Rogue, they could be an Urban Ranger, or when the final form of the ACG classes are revealed, Slayer, Swashbuckler, etc, the list goes on.

Scarab Sages

Victor Zajic wrote:
You should check out the Ebberon campaign setting for D&D. It's pretty much exactly what the OP is describing.

Seconding this. I complained to the rest of my group for years about how the Middle Ages/Renaissance standard fantasy world wouldn't logically exist if the 3.5 rules accurately simulated the physics of the game world, and then I found Eberron. It also solves the "magic mart" debate by turning it into a setting feature rather than a bug.

Scarab Sages

Wow. It's almost certain to hit 2 million on day 2 out of 35. I think I need to go find out what the current KS record is because I can't help but think this KS is going to blow it away before the weekend is over. Maybe even tomorrow?

EDIT: Okay, I thought the record was the 4.1 million that Torment raised, 10 is a bit more than that. But it seems realistic that this KS will still bust through that in the next 33 days.

Scarab Sages

When I became aware of it some months ago I thought MRA was some sort of joke reference at first. When I was corrected, I couldn't help but ask "What rights don't men already have?"

After I heard a bit more, I can't help but want to correct the term every time I hear it, because I think MRA is a misleading term. I think it would be more accurate to describe it as SWMPA (Straight White Male Privilege Activists), because I'm not aware of any missing SWMs' rights to campaign for - in my perception MRAs are activists for SWMs keeping un-earned privilege that they (we, really, because I am a SWM, but I would be perfectly happy in a world where all have equal rights and none have un-earned, inherent, or hereditary privilege, and I don't need or want MRAs trying to represent me) have enjoyed for much of history.

TL;DR, I can't help but see MRAs as a bunch of whiners that are angry that they have to go into the kitchen and make their own sandwiches.

Scarab Sages

AFAIK, that's a huge, household name compared to even the "wildly-popular-within-its-niche" sorts of things that I typically have seen succeed on KS.

I can't help but think that if/when (looks more like when than if at this point) Reading Rainbow's KS succeeds, this will catapult the whole crowdfund model into a new level of success and public awareness.

Scarab Sages

memorax wrote:
One is entitled to their opinion like very one else. I'm entitled not to have to listen it.

And AFAIK private companies have the same entitlement. "Freedom of speech", at least as I understand it in the US, means being protected from government retaliation only. A restaurant is well within its rights to ban a group of people who loudly praise the KKK inside of the restaurant in question, I can't see much of a difference here.

I don't really understand by what mechanism MRAs could be Eclipse Phase fans anyhow. Transhumanism is all about throwing away outmoded concepts like gender & race essentialism and economies of scarcity and privilege.

Scarab Sages

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Face_P0lluti0n wrote:
I agree, though the 2+INT skill ranks classes are still going to fall way behind on skills as compared to the 6 or 8 + INT classes.

Not always; a wizard with 2 + INT/level (Int 24, for +7 = 9/level) is ahead of the rogue with 8 + INT/level (Int 10, for 8/level). But, yeah, the bard gets 6/level and Versatile Performance, so he'll almost always be at the top of the heap for skills.

Face_P0lluti0n wrote:
Often times in fantasy fiction, the cost of magic is all of the hoops you have to jump through to get and keep that power. The rules support it a little, but in d20-based games it's mostly left to fluff and completely GM-dependent, but it ruffles my feathers a little bit because then gameplay doesn't match fiction and verisimilitude suffers.

I agree with you 100% on this, but again it's an issue I try to address with clear houserules, disseminated in advance, instead of DM improvisation during play.

Me and house rules have a bad history. In my campaigns, any house rule that takes more than a single sentence to describe usually ends up annihilating game balance or making the game too complex for anybody except the 3.5 hardcore CharOp crowd to follow. But I admit that might just be my group.

My favorite house rule against caster dominance is "I'm allowing liberal use of ToB and the campaign level cap is 12 except for one or two BBEGs who have good excuses like being undead and training for thousands of years to get to level 15". But I admit I chose simplicity over fully fixing the issue.

If I wanted to *really* fix the issue, I think I would go with Words of Power. Personally I like the idea of spellcasting as the art of breaking the laws of physics in powerful but not particularly graceful ways. Once all of the skill buffing and skill-replacing spells are gone (as well as ending absurd buffstacking), I can then tell a fantasy story where wizards can teleport and fly and blow up armies with fireballs and dominate the minds of others, but still rely on the rogue to pick the locks on chests or convince people to do what they want in ways that are more subtle than magical enslavement.

Although it might also fun to say "all rules as written, except that any PC that has no spellcasting ability whatsoever gains a mythic tier for each level above 10th" and see how that does. That way, martials reach a point where they officially transition from nonmagical into Wuxia-style heroes that break the laws of physics with their superhuman competence.

Scarab Sages

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Face_P0lluti0n wrote:
in-play, high-level nonmagical characters often see the score early enough to load up on magic items, UMD checks, and caster friends.
The issue for me is that a small group of caster friends can have all the magic in the form of spells, and then have just as much magic as any martial, on top of that, in the form of magic items (or even twice as much, since they get easier access to crafting). So that a team of 4 casters ends up with 150% as much magic as a team of 2 casters and 2 martials. At very low levels, the difference in skills evens that out, but at higher levels, +50% magic is worth way, way, way more than the +3 bonus for class skills. As much as everyone hated the 1/2 ranks for x-class skills in 3e, it definitely was more conducive to the style of play you're describing.

I agree, though the 2+INT skill ranks classes are still going to fall way behind on skills as compared to the 6 or 8 + INT classes. But I do find that skills are narrative power, even at the level of high magic that is typical beginning at the upper single digit levels.

I think part of the problem is that Pathfinder and all of the games that it is based on put a heavy emphasis on skill at arms as a means of narrative control, so many prominent character classes have "good at fighting" as a primary function, and "good at fighting" basically forces you to give up more than "good at sneaking" or "good at telling convincing lies". Being good at fighting has a way higher opportunity cost that you must pay in order to have that skill. But that possibly falls apart when skill-based characters can linearly scale up in 6-12 different areas of expertise, and casters can quadratically increase their options for altering reality at some fundamental level, but full BAB classes often increase in combat competence and *possibly* a handful of other areas of skill. Even more so in any campaign that doesn't follow an action-adventure dungeon crawl model.

From the GM's perspective, I try to even the score a little by being totally uncompromising with skill checks, so as to reward characters with skill quantity as well as skill quality. Essentially Knowledge and a lot of the Wisdom skills spell out what sort of information I give to the players. If they ask questions, I don't volunteer anything that Jeo-bob the farmer wouldn't know unless they have skill ranks. And I take advantage of the risk-free, cause-and-effect rules of magic by allowing any NPCs who have more than a player class level or two to be wise to most common player tricks and plan for them. Everyone above the first few levels knows that if you make an enemy of the adventurers, they'll try to scry and fry you, so you prepare ambushes or hide yourself behind Nondetections, etc. With so many counters out there and all enemies with decent Int/Wis scores and experience with the adventurer's life having already prepared for all of the typical magical-win-button approaches, brute-forcing everything with magic often just fails.

But then there are classes like Bard, or 3.5's Beguiler, that can do it all when properly optimized. Some of the scariest NPCs in my campaign are the Bards, especially after factoring in Versatile Performance and 3.5's Sublime Chord PrC.

Other than allow ToB/PoW (my current solution), I wonder if it would be worth increasing the "opportunity cost" of magic by limiting all full caster classes to 2+INT skill ranks per level, and partial casters to 4+INT skill ranks/level or less, and increasing the skill ranks/level for all martials that are currently below 6+INT/level. That would cut down on the Bard's ability to be a full competency skill user with 2/3 casting and moderate combat skill on top, and allow martials other than the Slayer, Ranger, and Rogue to have a lot to do out of combat.

There is, of course, the GM-dependent semi-nerf of *ruthlessly* requiring the casters to engage fully with the fluff and minor mechanical requirements of their classes. Which is to say, Wizards are stuck adding a measly two spells to their spellbook at each level-up unless they pay time and money to research new spells, but require them to play out seeking new spells for their books - they can't just walk into spell-mart and hand over the gold, they have to go to a Wizard's guild, and if they haven't kept up with office politics, they might find that nobody's willing to give them 5th level spells until they help the instructors with under-the-table guild favors. Or maybe they have to apply for a license in order to get any of the good combat or deception spells. Same with Magi and Alchemists. No wonder adventuring Wizards are so keen on lost knowledge and spell scrolls - it might be the only way to learn "Enervation" without signing up for five years in the King's service or asking permission from Wizard-Lumbergh who will ask you to go ahead and work Sundays at the guild for the next few decades. And Clerics have priestly duties that eat up a lot of free time. If they don't tend to the flock, either the god in question pulls its support, or if they're on a truly holy mission, they have to deal with temple politics, since the rest of the clergy isn't that happy about being shown up by some unattached miracle-worker who didn't have to put in the ten miserable years of being an altar boy or cleaning the elder priest's chamber pot to get their spellcasting ability.

Often times in fantasy fiction, the cost of magic is all of the hoops you have to jump through to get and keep that power. The rules support it a little, but in d20-based games it's mostly left to fluff and completely GM-dependent, but it ruffles my feathers a little bit because then gameplay doesn't match fiction and verisimilitude suffers.

Scarab Sages

In my experience, the narrative control issue with casters falls apart slightly when magic is so capable of cancelling itself out. A caster vs. a martial, in some sort of one-on-one conflict with no outside resources, does have more narrative control, but in-play, high-level nonmagical characters often see the score early enough to load up on magic items, UMD checks, and caster friends. At that point, magic negates itself and the game falls back on favoring the skill-using characters who are buffed up by equal magic on both sides.

Now, this creates a different headache, which is the GM having to figure out what sort of absurd buffstack every mid and high level NPC is carrying around, but when Invisibility is something you can place upon any thief or assassin starting at 3rd level, any noble or king's guards is going to prepare for that tactic - meaning that countermages and anti-invisibility magic items are acquired posthaste.

Once that happens - once Disguise Self is no longer a free pass because all of the guards have access to Detect Magic, and Invisibility doesn't work because the guards are using See Invisibility, and you can't use social items or buffing spells to succeed in negotiations with the king because you had to leave your Circlets of Persuasion at the door and the king's mages are using Arcane Sight to make sure nobody has Glibness cast on them in the presence of the king, and Teleport doesn't work in many situations because the enemy's casters have locked down important areas with Dimensional Lock or Forbiddance and gave wands of Dimensional Anchor to their UMD-capable minions - the only way to get things done is to have the magic to cancel out your enemy's magic, and then once nobody's magic is altering the playing field, use skills or fighting ability.

Which makes this a different kind of fantasy game - IME, more like Shadowrun except that magic replaces technology. If everybody has the same tech, than the winner is the person who is most capable of working with and around it.

In my Pathfinder game, the assassin ends up having the most narrative power, because the arcane and divine casters in the party don't have the skill modifiers to deal with any situations where the enemy matches their win buttons and buffs spell-for-spell. Instead, it's her absurd stealth, perception, and social modifiers that get things done, and the casters fall back into support roles - they load her up with Invisibility, Negate Aroma, etc, and send her into all of the missions. It ends up working like modern technology - technically the people who invent, modify, or repair the high-tech gadgets are the ones with all of the power, but they fall into support roles and give their buffs out to soldiers (martials) and skillful characters who are more suited to field work than the lab people or the support techs are.

Which makes the most dangerous characters the ones that can combine fighting ability or skill use with heavy investment in casting, because then they don't need the rest of the team.

EDIT: Though, to be fair, my campaign does have one martial-buffing "house rule" which is that I allow ToB, so most of the martial characters in my game are either nearly indestructible determinators that can reliably make saves in any category or untouchable wall-running Wuxia heroes.

Scarab Sages

My players generally bring some sort of internet-access gadget with them, so I often google chat secret information to them.

Index cards are still one of my favorites. I have a stack for important, recurring NPCs, which have the NPC's name written in bold marker on the blank side, and my notes about the NPC (basic motivation, personality, perception/sense motive modifier, any special powers or important skill modifiers) on the lined side. When that NPC is speaking, I hold up the card so the side with just the name faces the players - they know immediately who is speaking, and I can refresh on the NPC's personality and abilities.

Scarab Sages

Hawktitan wrote:

No question that it's a major power up and in fact the mythic system was designed for such a thing. Level 8 with tier 10 mythic? No problem!

It's - definitely - a game changer, but you still don't get the planar shifting scry n fry teleportation reality warping wishes that can happen in a game that goes to level 20.

If this game is something you are doing online I'd definitely be interested :)

Yeah, that's exactly the sort of stuff that I would be seeking to avoid in an E6 + Mythic game. That's the sort of game where a character can win a melee with an army, jump 50 feet from standing, or survive being dipped in lava, but not teleport halfway across the world or clone themselves.

One nice thing about mythic is that it leaves the choice open to the GM for exactly how mythic power is received. I've considered the idea that the PCs are the chosen champions of the gods, drank a potion that imbued superhuman strength into their blood, or even came into the possession of a magical item or artifact that imbued them with this power.

Or, for that matter, maybe that's what happens to people who go through "training from hell" that is only given to the worthiest students as chosen by the old Kung Fu man in the mountain monastery - true skill means the ability to transcend mortal limitations out of sheer excellence and will.

Scarab Sages

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Lincoln Hills wrote:

That's a really unusual combination. I'm sure somebody has, but E6 tables and mythic tables probably don't overlap often...

I'm genuinely curious what sort of campaign concept you have that requires the use of level limits and yet requires mythic rank advancement.

I've actually considered the same thing. While I haven't actually tried it out in play yet, the reason I considered it is that Mythic rules appear to advance the characters in mathematical power level for the equivalent of about another 5 or six character levels, allowing the PCs to fight classic mid and high level monsters, without introducing spell levels or other abilities that completely break the "heroic fantasy" paradigm and/or obsolete non-casters.

Plus it provides a fun explanation for the zero-to-hero climb - if the characters are gaining in mythic power rather than skill and experience, it explains why only a few months of practice can turn a decent swordsman into a breaker-of-armies.

Scarab Sages ition

I'm not directly affiliated with Void Star, but I'm a big fan of the Fate version, so I figured anybody who is into slightly more traditional RPG rules might be interested. I like my rules on the medium-crunch side (Savage Worlds, White Wolf/d10, Call of Cthulhu/d100 system), so Savage Worlds looks like a perfect match for a fast, tactical style.

Personally, I'm very picky about my Sci-Fi RPGs, and I think the setting does a good job of being a believable work of modern SF and very game-able without compromising either side.

Scarab Sages

D'oh - looks like the Dropbox links are dead.

Scarab Sages

Thanael wrote:

I believe there's a level 6 mod out there, but not level 6+.

D20pfsrd has fast play formatted rules in some sections which help streamline some rules descriptions. Else i suggest limiting PF to Core only and flat out ignoring some of the sub systems.

If you play BB rules from 1 through 5 you should probably be able to transition most players to core only slowly...

If you happen to recall where the level 6 material is, let me know - I wouldn't complain about at least being able to go up to "Beginner Box E6" and go core rules or mythic0only advancement from there.

I'll take a look at d20pfsrd. That site already saves my behind on a daily basis since I can easily search for exact wordings when weird rules issues come up in play (which is a *lot* with my group).


Scarab Sages

As I understand it, it allows the Fighter to add any enhancement or other weapon-specific bonuses from his or her weapon to CMB, even if the weapon normally would not do that.

IIRC, you can normally only add weapon-related bonuses to CMB if the weapon is a designated weapon for that maneuver.

So normally, making a trip attempt with a short sword or rapier would mean that nothing in the weapon's stats is added to CMB, but using a sickle would add enhancement bonus, weapon finesse, weapon training, etc, to trip. A Learned Duelist could attempt a trip maneuver with a short sword and add all short sword bonuses such as weapon focus, weapon training, magic weapon bonuses, etc, to that trip attempt.

Scarab Sages

(First - If this has already been asked recently, I apologize, I've only been back a few months from a long Pathfinder hiatus)

TL;DR: Are there any homebrews out there for taking Beginner Box rules beyond 5th level, and if not, is anyone interested in collaborating on such a project?

Long version:

I know that by design, the BB only goes up to level 5, but I've seen a lot of people claim that the BB has become their "core rules" in order to keep the advantages that PF has over other d20-based fantasy games while avoiding the complexity creep.

I have a group with *very* varied rules expertise, running from "barely read the rulebooks" to "Would fit in with the hardcore 3.5 CharOp community". The optimizer likes to play complex strategic games and complains if I try to tone down the complexity in the game or use less complex systems for fantasy campaigns, and the other players tend to get rules wrong often or complain about increasing complexity. I'm fine with complex rules, I choose again and again to run 3.x/PF, but it's a strain on some players who are otherwise perfectly happy to play in campaigns run by myself or the other complexity-loving GM.

Since BB is compatible with the rest of Pathfinder, it seemed like the best option was to let each player individualy choose to build their character with the BB or use the full rules. Using BB only (though I also include the fantastic APG/UM/UC conversions from EdOWar) limits this to a 5 level game, which is nice for an E6ish game, but I'd like to include some high level adventure too. Which, for me, boils down to either "Homebrew the BB to advance beyond 5th level" or "Use Mythic Adventures in place of level 5+ advancement".

I don't mind using the Mythic rules in a campagin that supports it, but I'd like to see if continuing the BB to a level in the 6-10 range was something that had been considered or done by someone else on the internet, so I can keep that open as an option.

Scarab Sages

Alexander Augunas wrote:
Mattastrophic wrote:

Hey, if you guys want to make a character who uses these stunts, I'm not aiming to stop you. I intend to call attention to how limited, restrictive, and situational these stunts are. I was really hoping that Inner Sea Combat would not add any more ammunition to fuel the deluge of "Paizo hates Rogues" threads, but I have to say, material like this really proves the point.

-Matt does the Arrested Development sad walk again.

Well, you can't just arbitrarily raise the power level of rogue talents. That would be undeniable power creep. So Paizo is stuck with the power level they have established for rogue talents, which is roughly equivalent to a feat.

Dexterity to damage is GOOD. It's why Paizo has been so hesitant to hand it out. Prior to Inner Sea Combat, we've had four reliable ways: be Mythic and take Weapon Finesse (Mythic), get a finesse weapon with the Agile property, be an Aldori Swordlord, or grab the Dervish Dancer feat. With Ultimate Campaign, we're up to six ways: there's a new Aldori dueling feat that'll do it for you (it adds Dex to damage instead of Strength whenever you deal damage to a character who is shaken, frightened, pr panicked) and there's also this rogue talent, that allows you to add your Dexterity to damage rolls as precision damage when you charge your opponent from above. Note that as written, this talent *technically* stacks with all of the aforementioned ways of adding Dexterity to damage, but it has the limitation of being on charge attacks only.

Which is hardly a restriction if you're a rogue with the Scout archetype. You can charge foes, deal sneak attack damage to them, and thereby trigger this talent. Is it a game-breakingly powerful trick? Of course not, but it's something cool that a rogue with some cold to spend on a wand of fly (or a friendly party wizard) could make excellent use of.

Hmm, curious to learn more about the Aldori feat you mentioned. If it synergizes with the Sword Lord archtype or PrC, we might have something workable here.

Plus, there is still supposedly the closest to straight Dex-to-damage we've seen yet coming in the ACG, and the Slayer sure looks to me like it's a full-BAB take on the Rogue.

Scarab Sages

Da'ath wrote:
Face_P0lluti0n wrote:

I never looked at Words of Power before today, and not doing so was a mistake.

I really wish I had implemented them in my current campaign. I'm giving some strong considerations to implementing them in any new campaigns that I start.

I'm reading Words of Power now, and I see subtle fixes that appear to give casters a little extra utility while killing off a large number of abuses.

Thank you for pointing this out or I probably never would have looked at it.

As an example, the WoP equivalent of Arcane Eye is a level lower and doesn't take forever to cast, but the WoP Teleport is expressly restricted to places that the caster has *visited* before.

And there's no Quicken. It looks like some small buffs can be cast as immediate/swift actions, but that's it.

One man's trash is another's treasure. Unless Paizo suddenly takes interest in the system (unlikely) you don't have to worry about new exploitable words being added that you'll have to sort through. So in a way, Paizo not updating or supporting them has been a good thing.

3PP or homebrew is always an option, too. PC Wizards might be more invested in gaining academic credentials and lab space among arcane guilds if it allowed them to invent new effect words which the players could then run by me for GM approval.

IMO, there's a critical mass of player-facing crunch-support that becomes unfun and unhelpful and feeds into splatbook bloat/treadmill. I like tactical gameplay (I do think the G should stay in RPG), but I always felt like spellcasters were among the worst offenders of the "Magic:-the-Gathering-style builds outweigh in-game decisions and tactics" problem in 3.x.

But in addition to eliminating exploits, it also looks like core components were fixed to avoid scry-and-fry, buffstacking, obsoleting skills, breaking the action economy, and other things that are considered to be caster-caused fundamental problems of 3.x. No direct analogues of Divine Power and Righteous Might even closes the "CoDzilla" issue once and for all.

My current game has to run as it is, as it's on the verge of collapsing under splatbooks and rules anyway and I don't want to disturb the Jenga tower, but I really like some of the suggestions I've seen here - I'm really considering, for any future campaigns, implementing one of Words of Power, giving mythic tiers to martials, E6 (or E8, or E10), or removing generalist full caster classes in favor of 2/3rds casters and specialized full casters.

Scarab Sages

ShadowcatX wrote:
While it has been mentioned, words of power is a significant nerf to spellcasters.

I never looked at Words of Power before today, and not doing so was a mistake.

I really wish I had implemented them in my current campaign. I'm giving some strong considerations to implementing them in any new campaigns that I start.

I'm reading Words of Power now, and I see subtle fixes that appear to give casters a little extra utility while killing off a large number of abuses.

Thank you for pointing this out or I probably never would have looked at it.

As an example, the WoP equivalent of Arcane Eye is a level lower and doesn't take forever to cast, but the WoP Teleport is expressly restricted to places that the caster has *visited* before.

And there's no Quicken. It looks like some small buffs can be cast as immediate/swift actions, but that's it.

Scarab Sages

I'll probably do another big update after the Inner Sea Combat PDF is available to non-subscribers and I can take a peek to see if there's anything that looks interesting. Sounds like the Ustalavic Duelist archetype shows a bit of promise.

As far as some of the builds I haven't mentioned yet, there are a lot of them that I don't have experience with or knowledge of yet, but I'm trying to focus on the classes and builds where spending a feat slot on Weapon Finesse and pumping up Dexterity instead of Strength is a defensible choice to the hardcore optimization crowd, DPR olympics, etc., which means that builds that I'm rating green or blue and spending a lot of text on need to be able to compare favorably to "Falchion Fred" or AM BARBARIAN. My yardstick for "should this be blue?" is "Is this build at least 90% as good as Falchion Fred or AM BARBARIAN?" and green is generally "is this build good enough to not be completely outclassed by Falchion Fred and AM BARBARIAN?"

I've left off Paladin and Inquisitor so far for the same reason I've left off most Ranger and Cavalier stuff - there are some scary-good static bonuses that you can double up on with Two-Weapon Fighting, but a lot of them are restrictive enough that it would be hard to justify that as your main trick or default fighting style - Favored Enemy (or the x/day replacement ability that the Guide archtype gets), Smite, Bane & Judgment, Challenges, etc., seem to me like very good nova/burst choices that would leave a finesse warrior significantly behind the curve whenever they weren't nova-ing (or fighting their favored enemy in the case of Rangers).

It might be worth it to add different sections on various general groupings of strategies, but a lot of those, to me, look like they fall into the general category of "Win init, then nova", which means that they'll have to compare to blasters and Magi to make sure that the non-sustainable burst damage doesn't end up falling significantly behind a blaster-caster or Magus in damage potential or endurance.

Well, that, and I'm honestly still catching up on missing almost two years of Pathfinder while I was busy running campaigns in other games, and currently keeping up with my home group, who are playing PF with 3.5 books allowed and finesse-boositng house rules in a 15+ level campaign.

Scarab Sages

Cevah wrote:

In your guide, you say "Rogue: I would ask if World of Warcraft created this expectation that Rogues ought to be dual wielding damage maniacs, but I don’t want to start another TT vs. MMO flame war."

Well, I played a "dual wielding damage maniacs" rogue back in 1st edition, well before WoW. With a +5 shortsword in the main hand and a +2 Longtooth (dagger that acted as a shortsword for small characters like my halfling) in the off hand & dex high enough to cancel two weapon fighting penalties, he would sneak into position for +2 to hit from behind and 4x backstab on both weapons. DPS king of melee here.

There is a build with the Horizon Walker PrC (link) that had Domain Mastery and Extra Rogue Tricks to get incredible bonuses from it. I am talking attack and damage both at insane values. This makes any weapon insane.


I guess I just had different experiences. I didn't meet that many dual-wielding characters that weren't Rangers in 2e, but I've played more 3e than 2e by a wide margin. The first time I saw Rogue as "The DPS class" by default was in WoW. Before that I had always seen Rogue as the "Backstab/Sneak Attack and then find somewhere to hide" class since pre-3e backstab be enabled after a combat starts. I had assumed the tightly defined combat roles came from video games.

Either way, I can just cut that line in the next update.

Scarab Sages

For intelligent magic items that have the ability to cast spells, I can't find any indication of whether they can only cast self targeting spells on the item itself, or if they can cast self targeting spells on the wielder as though the wielder was the caster.

Many spells that would be highly useful to give to an item's user don't entirely make sense when applied to the weapon - Divine Favor, Mirror Image, Divine Power, Disguise Self, etc., which seem like very good spells to give to an intelligent weapon that you're going to pass out to your church's champion, a wizard's head bodyguard, or something similar.

Scarab Sages

agnelcow wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

I actually really like the archetype, and not just because Ustalav is my favorite nation.

Sounds like it might be a strong contender for a very effective Weapon Finesse build.

I know we've got Swashbuckler now, but hearing about this archetype makes me want to buy this book. It sounds like the Ustalavic Duelist might cover the concept of "Intellectual fencer/swashbuckler" that I was hoping to see someday.

Now I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for 4/30 so I can get a PDF.

Scarab Sages

ShadowcatX wrote:
Elosandi wrote:

Use the specialist casters from 3.5 (warmage, beguiler, dread necromancer)

Use the martial adepts from DSP's path of war. (Warlord, Stalker, Warder)
Remove basic 9th level casters plus the summoner.

Magi, bards and inquisitors are now the generalist mages, and have an appropriately slowed rate of progression.

Mages who insist on the fast track to high level spells use a specialist class

Martial classes have options beyond hitting things.

Personally, I really like this option. I wish there were a couple more specialist type casters available, but c'est la vie.

Another option is to play E8 (or E6).

IMO, if using Tome of Battle and/or Path of War, E10 might even be possible, as the powerful spells still have some manner of limitation (range limits and "miss" chances on Teleport, Raise Dead requires a whole body, etc).

Some settings, like Eberron, assume a lower overall power level and would play nice with E6/E8/E10 rules. I did something similar in the earlier stages of my Eberron campaign, in which characters above level 10 existed, but they were limited to the most powerful NPCs in the setting, most of whom were the stuff of legends or had multiple lifetimes to accumulate experience and training. Vol was still 16th level in that game, but the implication was that it took thousands of years for her to gain all of those levels above 10 and for most PCs and NPCs, the zero-to-hero train ended around 10th level - after that it took a minimum of multiple decades of intense study and training to gain each level, and centuries to gain levels in the mid-teens.

It seems like the Mythic rules would play nice with an E6/8/10 approach - characters could advance to a level between 5 and 10 depending on the GM and players' tastes, and then instead of gaining levels, just begin gaining mythic tiers instead. This would let the players gain access to more power appropriate for battling the classic "endgame monsters" without actually accessing the game-breaker spells.

Which is likely how I will run my next game - characters will advance to 8 or 10 and then gain 10 mythic tiers, which will provide 18-20 "levels" of advancement inside of the level band that is generally held up as the most fun level of play.

Now that I think of it, it would even be possible to start a campaign at 6th or 8th level and have the character advancement be entirely measured by mythic tiers.

This would also explain the zero-to-hero climb, since mythic power comes from some sort of magical or divine source, so suddenly transforming from a skilled-but-mundane militia veteran into a dreadnought capable of slaying armies in the course of a few months would have a more solid in-game reasoning.

Scarab Sages

Lord Mhoram wrote:
Give all linear classes Mythic Ranks, but not the quadratics.

I've considered something like this. Especially since the Mythic spellcaster paths seem to make spellcasters even more quadratic.

In my 3.x/PF hyrbid game, running the rules as they are written, but allowing Tome of Battle/Path of War solved the problem until about level 12-14. The characters with Use Magic Device are still holding up at level 15, thanks to magic mart, but I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that once you get to those levels, even ToB/PoW characters need to become Gish/Warrior-Mage characters or have maxed out UMD checks so that they gain partial spellcasting ability in addition to having better melee and/or skill use than the full-casters.

Elosandi wrote:

Use the specialist casters from 3.5 (warmage, beguiler, dread necromancer)

Use the martial adepts from DSP's path of war. (Warlord, Stalker, Warder)
Remove basic 9th level casters plus the summoner.

Magi, bards and inquisitors are now the generalist mages, and have an appropriately slowed rate of progression.

Mages who insist on the fast track to high level spells use a specialist class

Martial classes have options beyond hitting things.

I'm tempted to try this in the next PF/3.x campaign I run that goes beyond the levels at which quadratic squishiness, limited spells per day, and skill rank deficiency are still balancing factors.

Especially since many of the specialized or 2/3 caster classes have ways of cherry-picking individual spells from any available sourcebook, but they can't just gain access to everything. That way nobody complains that I'm forcing them to throw away the Spell Compendium. It makes the idea of "spell research" cooler, too, because that one Bard, Magus, or Beguiler that figured out how to cast a single really broken Spell Compendium spell feels special without being absurdly unbalanced - they just have one really awesome trick that they're known for.

Another thing I've considered is introducing something like sanity or corruption rules, which only apply to spellcasters. Of course, this would only work in a horror game or a setting where magic is dangerous and kind of Lovecraftian, but it would motivate all characters, even the casters, to find ways of solving problems without magic, because spamming magic as a win-button for everything would end your adventuring career in short order.

My players would gut me if I tried something like that in my current game, though. Fortunately, it's set in Eberron, so magic-mart and easy access to magical training are givens. I just decided that once characters in my Eberron get into the double-digit levels, it dawns on them that they need magic somehow, so all high level NPCs, even the ones that started as martials, end up either getting maxed out UMD checks or multiclassing into prestige classes that give or advance spellcasting ability, so that they at least have level 4 or 5 spells by the time the full casters are tossing around level 7 and 8 spells. The Deneith mercenary captain may have started out as a Warblade or Fighter, but at the end of his career, he's now a Fighter X/Wizard 1/Abjurant Champion 5, and the peasant hero that started out as a Ranger is now a Ranger X/Divine Crusader X of Dol Arrah, Monks eventually pick up Divine Fist or Enlightened Fist or Psychic Warrior/Warmind, etc

Scarab Sages

Updated the classes and builds section a bit to add some info about the revised ACG playtest version of the Swashbuckler and Slayer.

If anyone would like to contribute analysis or specific build lists directly to the guide, I would be open to adding sections from other writers into the guide with credit to your forum name (or whatever name you would like to be credited as). I can't play or test everything, especially since right now I'm mostly GMing home games and generally don't get the opportunity to play PFS outside of convention games.

Scarab Sages

Cevah wrote:

Piranha Strike states "This bonus to damage is halved (-50%) if you are making an attack with an off-hand weapon or secondary natural weapon.". That means the -1/+2 for one weapon becomes -1/+1 for both weapons on a TWF. It does not say "reduced only on off hand". That kills its usefulness for TWF and Natural Attack builds.


The way I've been reading it is that it was meant to match the wording of the Power Attack feat and the wording of the damage bonus for having a high Strength score.

The official text of Strength reads "Off-hand attacks receive only half the character's Strength bonus, while two-handed attacks receive 1–1/2 times the Strength bonus."

The official text of Power Attack reads "This bonus to damage is halved (–50%) if you are making an attack with an off-hand weapon or secondary natural weapon."

Most of the rules and optimization discussion that I have seen assumes that only off-hand is reduced when adding Strength and Power Attack, and I had assumed that Pirhana Strike worked the same way. It does seem to be some murky ground - specifically, whether or not the slight change in the wording of PS was intentional or if it was intended to work in the same way that PA does.

I admit I could be wrong, but I have been inclined to assume it was intended to work the same as Power Attack. I'll add a disclaimer/warning about my possible misreading of the feat to the guide.

And if you (or anyone) can point me to official errata or game designer comments backing up either interpretation, that would be awesome, too.


Scarab Sages

Thanks for the example!

I swear I have not abandoned the guide again! : )

I always end up being busier than I thought I'd be but I'm hoping to get some time to update the guide soon.

Scarab Sages

XMorsX wrote:

You are welcome.

Urban Barbarians should probably be green at least, their ability to combine tons of Dexterity with great saves, spell sunder, strenght surge, come and get me and other great powers makes them very effective Dex-based characters.

Also, I think that you do not mention natural attacks at all. It is easy to get at least 3 of them and they are better than TWFing (full BAB and (almost) no feat investment, only downside the small crit threat range). With an agile AoMF you can make an effective natural attacker, especially if he has Pounce or a lockdown mechanism.

A properly build Beastmorph Vibisectionist alchemist with an agile AoMF (the Skinwalker race is best at this) is a prime example, qualifing alchemist as green at least too.

If you have any sample builds, or at least, build skeletons, I'd love to see them, as I don't yet know the ins and outs of these classes or the builds that would make them good finesse combatants. I will include them in the guide with credit to you and I'll be able to add the feats and abilities that enable the builds to work into the color-rated lists with some analysis.

On that subject, at some point I'm going to go through the thread and add the names of everyone who has suggested stuff to me onto a "credit goes to..." or "thanks to..." list, as a good deal of the guide has come from suggestions provided on these message boards.

Scarab Sages

XMorsX wrote:

For PCs that rely on fighting defensively, crane style is still useful and probably a must (like Duelist and Aldori Swordlord PrCs and the fighter archetype).

There is also a corner case for the rest two feats if you have feats to spare, as it has been ruled that if the attack that you used crane wing for is a miss, you can use crane riposte. So it is not utterly useless, just overnerfed.

Thanks for the info. I hadn't really given it enough thought yet to decide if there was still a place for it, or builds that still wanted it.

When I get a chance, I'll write a section on the pros and cons of the new Crane style. My old text is still crossed out because that was written based on the old Crane style chain.

Scarab Sages

It's been a busy week, but the guide now contains Brawler goodness and a clarification of how the Dex Magus compares to the Strength Magus.

I also crossed out all of the Crane Wing stuff for now. I never got to see exactly how powerful it was before the nerf, but it doesn't seem to be worth the feat slot post-nerf.

Also added some to-dos, including ACG classes, prestige classes, and base classes I hadn't yet considered or detailed.

Scarab Sages

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:

Hey XmorsX

You seem to repeatedly mention how the Dervish Dance magus deals the same damage as a strength magus, but it's just a little off...

Whenever you don't use spell combat, a strength magus can use his weapon with two hands, while a dervish dance magus cannot (The feat specifically calls out "while wielding it in one hand"). So Str Magi can deal more weapon damage still, and even more damage with power attack.

EDIT: I didn't see any threads with your guide mentioned other than here, so I posted this here. Are you going to make a discussion thread for your guide?

I'm the author of the finesse guide - thank you for mentioning it and asking for it to be added to the guide lists.

I'll add in a mention of the Str-Magus's balancing factors. I haven't actually had the chance to compare them in-play or by running serious numbers yet, though for now I'm still behind the idea of the Dervish Dex-Magus being equally viable compared to the Str-Magus. At the middle levels, I would expect that the critical mass of spell slots combined with Spell Recall means that an average adventuring day (@4 encounters) with combats sticking to the average length (2-4 rounds) means a Magus will be spending most combat rounds casting and attacking. It's still worth mentioning though, as it does give the Str-Magus a better "buff and fight" option, where the Dex-Magus is a little bit more stuck in nova mode, and the Str-Magus can fight a little bit better when running on empty or conserving resources.

Scarab Sages

Imbicatus wrote:

If you do update it, there are some great things to add that are missing. Piranha Strike is a alternative to Power Attack for light weapons. It is inferior to power attack, but it doesn't require that 13 str wiich is good for point buy.

Also, there is no mention of the Brawler archetype for fighters, that is one of the most effective finesse builds possible.

The ACG Swashbuckler is designed for finesse and will be the go to class for finesse builds once the ACG is released. You should really look at the playtest document if you haven't.

Yeah, I planned to go into a lot of detail about the Swashbuckler. I followed the ACG playtest and the Swashbuckler forum discussions.

I thought I mentioned Piranha Strikes, but it's been over a year, so I could have imagined that. I'll add in Piranha Strikes.

Thank you for info about the Brawler. Those damage bonuses look like they're just the thing to make TWF do viable damage.

If there's anything else that I should add to the guide please let me know.

Master of the Dark Triad wrote:
Fix anything that is about crane wing being good, useful, or holy.

That's on the to-do list. Sad that Crane Wing apparently can't be anything other than OP or too-nerfed-to-be-useful.

Keep the suggestions coming, I will update as time permits.

Scarab Sages

The Horizon Walker's Terrain Dominance ability gives the character a favored enemy bonus against creatures that are native to any of the terrains chosen for Dominance. For most types of monsters this makes sense (Outsiders are native to their alignment or elemental plane, most aberrations are native to underground etc) but humanoids leave me wondering how to judge their native terrain.

My first impulse is to consider the "PC races" native to urban environments. But it's unclear in the ability description whether a creature's native terrain is the one that it's entire race is native to (in which case Elves and Gnomes should probably be native to "Forest") or if the native terrain is the one that the individual is native to. It also doesn't really clarify whether a creature can be native to two different terrains if they somehow overlap (Would Elves be native to "Forest" and "Urban" if they live in treetop cities? Halflings native to "Plains" and "Underground" if they live in hobbit-holes in a grasslands region?)

Terrain Dominance gives some hefty attack/damage bonuses, so it seems possible to pick something like "Urban" for a Horizon Walker who works as an assassin, bodyguard, or some other profession in which battling humanoids is a regular part of the job. I'm just not sure how wide the definition of those terrain bonuses can get, and I can't find any clarification in the FAQs.

Thanks in advance everyone!

Scarab Sages

I admit this is a pretty serious thread-necro, but I'm back to playing Pathfinder after spending a year running a campaign in a different system. My players and I finally started the last act of a campaign that I've been running since 2008 - started in 3.5, then adapted the PF beta rules, now playing a hybrid 3.5 + PF campaign - and two of the star PCs are finesse fighters.

I found my finesse guide while I was going through my optimization archives. I'm sure it's sorely out of date at this point, but if there's still interest, I'll resume work on the finesse guide, especially in anticipation of the finished Swashbuckler class and the promised "Dex-to-damage with weapon of choice" feat that was mentioned during the Swashbuckler playtest.

Thoughts and opinions? Will this help anyone if I bring the guide up to date?

I'm thinking about including an "Optional/Non-PFS" section that includes Dreamscarred Press stuff. Path of War especially supports finesse fighters in a serious way - a straight Dex-to-damage feat which is not dependent on the maneuvering/ToB-esque system. I ran that past my players and they all wanted that feat in my current campaign, as do I, and since you can buy the pdf with that feat for a pretty low price, I thought I might draw some attention to it for those who want finesse to be awesome in home games.

Plus, any build advice that applies to DSP's dex=damage feat will probably carry over to PFS-legal once the ACG drops and we have an official dex=damage feat.

The other thing that comes to mind for the "optional" section is Mythic Adventures, since Mythic Weapon Finesse also goes straight dex=damage.

I'd also be taking suggestions for more Core+ finesse builds that work in PFS or campaigns that use a similar books-allowed list.

TL;DR: I'm back after a looooooong hiatus, does anybody want me to bring the Finesse Guide up to date?

Current link: JFkg/edit?usp=sharing

Scarab Sages

Charm Person seems like a pretty good deal, considering that unless you work with animals a lot, humanoid is the most common creature type you will be encountering. I can't even keep track of the number of ways that "target person instantly likes you and considers you a good friend" could be used. The possibilities are endless.

Silent Image would be cool, though less so if I couldn't cast it with the Silent Spell feat.

Unseen Servant would make life very convenient. I'm afraid I might become very, very lazy.

Scarab Sages

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
The easiest way would to create a magic item that generates a constant antimagic field. It will cost 132,000 GP so they will be rare.

Yeah, that would be the sort of thing monarchs have in their private quarters and that would be about it.

Scarab Sages

From a GMing perspective, Antimagic Field is a pretty scary way to turn off a large number of things. The only issue being duration and AoE - it seems like a combat buff, or possibly a means of securing important meetings against scrying, charm spells, and social-booster items.

However, if influential sorts with access to a lot of money and high-level hirelings/advisers/etc were worried about magical intrusion or attack on a space that needed to be permanently secure, I can't help but think that they would find a way to make permanent antimagic fields or similar zones, if such a means existed. The main problem being that Antimagic Field cannot be made permanent

Does anyone know of any rules, spells, abilities, etc, in Pathfinder (or 3.5) that allows for the creation of a permanent antimagic zone without any GM handwaving? (or, for that matter, hiring a Sorc/Wiz to stand in a room and use all of their 6th-level slots to keep the field up all day)


Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

To add to the confusion, the RAW descriptions of spell trigger/completion items make a lot of references to "casting spells from" that item.

Scarab Sages

For reference: "Amazing Initiative (Ex): At 2nd tier, you gain a bonus on initiative checks equal to your mythic tier. In addition, as a free action on your turn, you can expend one use of mythic power to take an additional standard action during that turn. This additional standard action can't be used to cast a spell. You can't gain an extra action in this way more than once per round."

During my most recent game, I had a PC try to cast a spell with their standard action, and then use Amazing Initiative to activate a wand with the extra action provided by this ability.

There was a disagreement at the table regarding whether wand or scroll use counted as casting a spell for the purposes of being prohibited by this ability. My assumption was that while rules-as-written says that using spell trigger or completion is magic item activation and not spellcasting, the intended use of this ability did not include adding additional spell use of any sort, and I felt the rules as written were a bit murky regarding this issue because spell trigger and completion create spell effects and require that the item user be a spellcaster who is capable of casting this spell, or good enough at UMD to fake it.

TL; DR: Does Amazing Initiative allow you to use a wand, staff, or scroll, or are those close enough to spellcasting that they are also not allowed as part of the extra action granted by this ability?

Scarab Sages

Also encounters took so much less time in previous editions. A complicated encounter in 3.x can take 4 hours, maybe longer. Just to play 4 or 5 rounds.

I've found in my own experience that this is a part of the breakdown that happens at higher levels in 3.X. I've rarely had issues resolving combats in a satisfying time frame at the low and even middle levels (it still might take an hour, but a lot of that ends up being fun tactical gameplay and a larger number of elapsed rounds, not math) but I just ran a combat in my 15th level game and found myself, as the GM, looking for excuses to end the combat after three hours.

Part of it is math, and part of it seemed to be an overload of fiddly bits and crunchy options on the players' part. We had most of our math done ahead of time in order to avoid dragging out the combats (the players even wrote down how their stats changed when they were under the effects of common buffs in various combinations to avoid doing buffstack math mid-combat) but there was a lot of rulebook-flipping during each player's turn - even the mundanes - and the back-and-forth of buff, debuff, and dispel made it necessary to keep a spreadsheet in order to keep track of what buffs were active on whom and how many rounds were left on them.

The iterative attacks didn't help, either, especially because many of the melees on both sides of the combat were twinked out to ensure that they had reliable accuracy down to their second or third iteratives.

I wonder if there's a way to get the best of both worlds.

It's my impression that this is what E6, E8, PFS being capped at 12, 10/12 + Mythic, etc, are meant to do - allow all of the crunch and customization of 3.X with some sort of hack to allow PCs to take on high-CR challenges without allowing them to reach the levels where the game starts to break down.

Personally, I think if I have the opportunity to run a high level 3.X game again, it's going to be capped at 12 and then go into Mythic. Mythic tiers are a nice fix in that they equate to +1/2 APL each, so stopping level progression at 10 or 12 and then adding mythic tiers up to 10 allows the party to take on the CR15-20 threats and challenges that we expect to be the epic "end bosses" of d20 games without dealing with all of the math and balance issues that come out of high level play.

Scarab Sages

Pendagast wrote:

Im sure people will rail at me and tell me im oh so wrong,

But AD&D had it right... which is why character levels only went so far (10-12 if I recall depending on class)

I think Gygax already knew the game broke down at too high of a level.

E6-E8 games are popular because they are fun, and the best blend of gyagaxian and 3.PF gaming (gygax character generation isnt and custom of current rules, gygax game play and monster power level is much better)

My table always gets bored to pieces around 13th+ level.

I'm in a similar boat. I prefer 3.5/PF mechanics, but I've started running my games with the assumption that a level somewhere between 12 and 14 is the level cap for mortals. I've started following the "Demographics of Herosim" as presented in "Adventurer, Conqueror, King" ( Generals and archmages and high priests and the like cap out at 12. So do PCs in most campaigns. 6th level spells are the highest level that most casters can ever expect to have access to. Sometimes, someone very, very remarkable comes along and makes it to level 13 or 14, but when they do, it is truly an event.

This matches up with Pathfinder Society's level spread as well. The retirement cap in PFS is 12. Anything past that is essentially PFS's "epic level". Anecdotally, most people who I have spoken to or read who express an opinion on what levels "work" in the d20 system always cap the "fun" levels at 12-14.

Personally, I think 12 is the safest number. My reasoning is that 13+ is where the mathematical cracks begin to show, and 13+ is when 7th level spells become available, which IMO is the moment where casters go from "squishy, but godly when conditions are right" to "godly pretty much all of the time".

There's also a point around the beginning of the double-digit levels when prepared casters gain the ability to all but respect themselves on a daily basis while the mundanes have to become overspecialized one-trick ponies in order to have anything on their resume that they do better than a caster. IME, that's also in the 12-14 range.

I'm GMing an Eberron game right now that I allowed to go to 15, and I very nearly regret it. I've only run a few combats at 15th level so far, but it's a feel-bad for the players - even highly optimized PCs can lose an init roll and die to the pounce-charger. Mundanes require xmas-tree magic item loadouts and buffstacks from the casters in order to have a chance of succeeding on mundane tasks, because without caster-countermeasures provided by other casters, they'll have all of their mundane utility taken way by enemy casters.

I know this is all anecdotal, but I suppose my TL;DR point is that I'm throwing in another vote for "the game is fun and balanced with usable math and a place for casters and mundanes to shine until levels above 12, and PFS capping out at 12 appears to be an implicit agreement from someone on the Pathfinder team"

Honestly, if someone told me that their PF game had a good chance of going above 12, I would play a character with at least 2/3 casting.

On the AD&D point, weren't the levels about 10-12 in older editions meant to transition the PCs out of the adventuring life and into a realm-management minigame in which the mundanes remained relevant by taking on leadership tasks that the casters didn't have time for because they were too busy with research/prayer/solving large-scale problems with world-shaking spells?

Scarab Sages

Found a hidden treasure while going over Ultimate Equipment.

A Divination-flavored Cloak of the Hedge Wizard will allow the wearer to cast Detect Magic at will. It usually won't work during combat, but a wary adventurer or elite bodyguard could continue to cast and concentrate, allowing them to detect any humanoid-shaped auras that don't appear to exist to normal vision. With a little spellcraft, it would even be possible to determine what school it's from.

Scarab Sages

"Lord_Malkov wrote:

From CRB:

"A creature can generally notice the presence of an active invisible creature within 30 feet with a DC 20 Perception check. The observer gains a hunch that “something's there” but can't see it or target it accurately with an attack."

Hmm, I missed that part. Thanks for pointing that out.


Invisible creatures leave tracks. They can be tracked normally. Footprints in sand, mud, or other soft surfaces can give enemies clues to an invisible creature's location.

An invisible creature in the water displaces water, revealing its location. The invisible creature, however, is still hard to see and benefits from concealment."

So, a Zen Garden setup in the opening rooms of a guarded area seem reasonable. Water and mud also work.

Paint traps, similar to dye packs on retail goods and stolen money in the real world, work very well here... but can be disabled.

I wonder how this interacts with Pass Without Trace? I would expect that the invisible creature still displaces sand/flour/water while standing in it, but leaves no tracks once it has moved from that spot, but that's my own interpretation, now RAW.

As far as the paint traps go, I imagine that a truly security-minded facility would still set them up, since they would provide more opportunities to punish unlucky, careless, or insufficiently skilled infiltrators.

Curtains, oddly enough, are pretty helpful. Beaded curtains make noise... attach a number of bells to them and they make lots of noise and show an invisible character's displacement.

Very yes. I thought about the beaded curtains, but the bells had not occurred to me.

Intentionally squeaky hinges on normal doors can do similar things.


In any case, once you have noticed an invisible creature, you can attempt to Pinpoint them with a Perception check. This is a rough check, but it can actually be made easier than it looks depending on the situation.

For example... even when invisible, you can't make a full-attack and stealth in the same round. So the pinpoint check starts at DC 40. But if the creature moves up to half speed, then check DC goes down by -5. If they move more than half speed it goes down by -10. If they are fighting or casting spells with verbal components, the check DC is -20.
If they charge or run it goes down by -10.

Again thank you for pointing out some things I had missed. This certainly makes Greater Invisibility somewhat less dangerous. Though a sneak-attacking Rogue could still get scary, certainly not an auto-lose, even by RAW.

Scarab Sages

Thalin wrote:
Spectral Shroud is the permanent solution; but is pricey (26K). Still, if you absolutely, positiviley want to be the invisible dector for the party, it's there for you.

Still awesome for high-level Martial characters.

Found in Ultimate Equipment:

Tremor Boots. 10k GP, gives you always-on Tremorsense out to 20 feet in every direction.

The expensive, high-level upgrade for the Smog Pellet would be Dust of Appearance, which has a 10 foot radius AoE and lasts for five minutes, but by the time it's affordable, maxing out UMD to use scrolls/wands of See Invisibility or Glitterdust ends up looking like a more attractive option.

Scarab Sages

Kaleb the Opportunist wrote:

Smoke pellet, smog

Source Dungeoneer's Handbook

The smoke from a smog pellet is oily, and creatures that are hit by a smog pellet or pass through the smoke are covered in thick residue. This residue makes invisible creatures visible for 1d4 rounds.

Price 40 gp; Weight —

Awesome. That's the perfect item for a non-spellcasting mid or high-level adventurer's kit.

ChaiGuy wrote:
There's also magical wards for UMD users like alarm, they have the advantage of having higher perception DC and requiring the trapfinding ability to spot. I guess some could say Detect Magic could find magic wards/traps, but I find that silly (hopefully not a derail).

Actually that brings up a good question - does Trapfinding allow you to find an Alarm spell by RAW or RAI?

Captain Wacky wrote:
It sounds like you've covered the majority of it. Also blind fighting feat works as well as long as you can pin point the square said invisble thing is in.

Yeah, Blind-Fight is very important. The main issue being the "narrowing it down to a square" part, which is more difficult. The bag of flour/chalk dust works if it is spread out on the floor or you take an action to do so (I'm assuming that would be a standard action to throw a bag of flour or chalk dust onto a few squares around you, but that's my interpretation) I've also considered carrying a few extra bottles of ink and splashing them on the floor so that an invisible character would leave inky footprints unless they took off their shoes/boots/greaves/etc. The Smoke Pellet also works.

UMD users do have a lot of options. Glitterdust and See Invisibility are 2nd level spells, good for scrolls and wands, and it seems like a UMD user would have a decent shot at having a reliable UMD mod and the extra cash on hand to afford 2nd level scrolls or wands by the time invisible combatants became a regular problem (which I assume is right about the time Greater Invisibility is available as a spell, since before that, a single attack renders a combatant visible, meaning mid-combat fixes are less important than stopping enemies from sneaking up on you).

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