I've been playing with the same group of people for four years. We've had our ups and downs and we've had our stupid arguments, and like any complex social unit we've settled into specific molds.
My mold, until recently, was the GM. Constantly. I like GMing, and I'm lucky to have a party comprised of individuals who, when they GM, tolerate the fact that I struggle to turn off GM mode, and are comfortable telling me that I'm being a control freak. I am that obnoxiously intense player who, after building my character, always tries to figure out what the other players made and find out where they're from and to figure out their why and how they became an adventurer. Essentially collecting all the information that a GM would collect. My endgoal is, for the most part, altruistic: I want to figure out the archetypal roles the other players are filling in the roleplay so I can play the party diplomat. If there's one thing I've learned as a GM, the single most annoying thing to deal with is a party of narcissists. Everybody is competing for limelight, stumbling stupid over each other to be the glory hound. All of my players complain to me about each other, with the exception of the newest player, and the argument can be boiled down to this: Player A is upset because Player B did "x," and Player A believes Player B is in for a rude awakening when Player A responds to "x".
When I'm a GM, I can handle this; I know what RP archetypes each of my players like, and I give them the chance to play out their fantasy, but I find a way to make it so that the success of their fantasy (Player A wants to be a demagogue sorcerer-tyrant, Player B plays the catty, indifferent badass, Player C plays the comical relief, etc.) depends on the survival of the group (Player A's ambitions are unattainable without Player B's and C's aide, Player B needs Player C to stay in the good graces of NPC #1, Player C needs Player A in order to acquire <Plot item>). I'm certain other GMs can commiserate.
Now that I'm a player and Player B and A are GMing back and forth every other week in their own respective universes, I'm wondering why the hell I even bother playing. I enjoy the stories, I enjoy the combats, but the thing I am not enjoying is the ego-trips while I'm on the same side of the table as either player. Player A likes to take jabs at players in and out of game when he is doing well and other players are having no luck with the die; he consistently insults players (not their characters) for things that are statistically and mathematically beyond their control, but cannot handle the same style of "humor" when its reciprocated. Player B flat out refuses to discuss battle strategies or tactics in-game or out-of-game because he's so enamored with his build (which is a clever one) that he refuses to think beyond what he can do in a vacuum.
Maybe its just the GM in me, which likes to see the party working cohesively because that means that I've successfully challenged them, or maybe I'm being an over-sensitive control freak player, I'm willing to admit to either and both, but I derive no enjoyment from the game when my players/peers are more absorbed in their personal fantasies than the collective fantasy that we're trying to create.
Does anyone else ever feel like this or experience similar scenarios?
Clever DMing can overcome a high-powered player. Its pretty much the only thing that can overcome higher level spellcasters without making those spellcasters feel singled out.
In the case of a summoner, I've found a few tricks to deal with my powergaming summoner fan.
1) Enemy spellcasters that implement blur/blink: The villains your party encounters that have class levels have survived encounters as well. They know a big monster charging at them is going to hurt, and they know a monster with lots of attacks is going to hurt. Without having to build monsters that specifically target the eidolon or the summoner, you can put a damper on the eidolon without making it totally unusable.
2) Big Hitters: The higher the level, the more likely you can make some vicious heavy-hitters that are all-around threatening, but make a great way to reward the summoner for making their vicious monster. If you use some 3.x books in cunjunction with PF books, you can create some nasty enemies that have some impressive staying power. This allows the summoner player to unleash their monster against another monster, while allowing the other players opportunities to fight other creatures in combat.
Probably my favorite thing to do to hyper-powerful melee types (monsters or PCs, doesn't matter) is to throw in a grappler or a mounted warrior. I don't know about some of the min-max builds, like the one described somewhere in this thread where someone managed to jack their AC up to 50 as a paladin/summoner, but I'd be interested to see where that character's CMD is. At level fifteen, there is a greater chance that the party will be encountering creatures who've been tested before, and it wouldn't be untoward or cruel of the DM to have enemies who employ tactics to get around high AC. And even if the player has a fantastic AC, a well-built cavalier/samurai BBEG can reduce the threat of an eidolon significantly.
3)non-combat problems in a combat setting: Set up a scenario where the Eidolon would serve a better purpose dealing with "x" environmental/terrain factor. The entire room is a trap and the eidolon is literally holding the ceiling from falling on a party long enough for the party to cut their way out of the room; two flying enemies are dropping rocks on the party and the Eidolon can intercept those rocks (or attack the monsters); there's a really nasty monster that needs distracting, and the eidolon is used as a diversion for the main party to get through an area.
As I see it, players have as much responsibility to their DM to make the game enjoyable as the DM has to the players, which means a player is wrong to expect a DM to not create challenges or obstacles that their go-to strategies will consistently defeat.
I think my memory is tricking me. I distinctly recall reading something, somewhere, that magic cannot affect a creature inside another creature. I can't remember the context, book, or how long ago I read this rule, but it has stuck with me. Now that I've an opportunity to exploit this rule, I want to make sure that this isn't something that I convinced myself I read anywhere.
Has anyone else read anything to the effect that magic cannot interact with a creature within another creature? If a dragon is hit with a detect magic, and I'm a sorcerer floating in its belly juices, can I be seen? or hit with a magic missile?
If anyone can solve this conundrum, I'd be greatly appreciative.
I find myself disappointed by the Words of Power as they are presently manifested. Paizo introduced an interesting system, but the whole thing felt rather skeletal. And syntactically limp.
So--does anyone have their own version of this? I really hope so--the system could be fantastic with the addition of more words--but the whole system feels like a novelty right now.
I'm just posting in this so I can come back to it in a bit, but my general idea is as follows:
People mean to play evil but they end up playing chaotic stupid. Evil is as insidious and difficult to play as good, because your character still has to justify his decisions in the present. Sure a guy can be evil because he was raped or his family was killed in front of him or something, but that doesn't explain his evil in the present. Think about real life; everyone says they're a good person because they want to be considered good. Most people are neutral with good leanings, if we're going with Judeo-Christian moral standards. We're judgemental hypocrites with an egotistic and narcissistic worldview. Especially us in the modern world where we lack the incentives to be really, genuinely good people. Evil is the exact opposite. Even evil people don't necessarily see themselves as evil. Some think they're evil, sure, but those characters don't make for good PCs.
Genre is...a funny thing rooted in semantics and fanaticism. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but That's where I'm going to begin.
Fantasy, as a word bereft of any cultural nuances and subculture interpretations, is just a synonym to 'imagined," since a fantasy is just an imagined reality. If you're going to define something as a fantasy, you only really need to ask a few questions:
1) Is the fantasy in question capable of being replicated in real life, right now?
If you answered in the negative for either question, you're dealing with fantasy in a literal sense--an imagining of something.
As we inculcate ourselves with certain forms of fantasy (Tolkien, Narnian, Lovecraftian, Star Wars-ian, etc.), we back ourselves into a corner as far as genre goes, and end up with these sort of debates where we try to say what kind of Fantasy is better than the other, or if one kind of literal fantasy qualifies as part of the Fantasy genre. Companies like Paizo benefit immensely from this argument--The Inner Sea and the whole world of Golarion is this kitschy amalgam fantasy world with everything any fan of fantasy could potentially want, so long as fantasy's fans continue to say "fantasy is X and I'm willing to buy products that look like X". This isn't a bad thing--perhaps a bit intellectually stagnating, since popular fantasy, if I understand correctly, is synonymous with Hi-fi, and hi-fi is just the hero's quest--but it is absolutely essential to Paizo in order to thrive.
So, to answer the question originally posted: No sir, Pathfinder has not abandoned fantasy. Pathfinder is a product, and thus incapable of sentient decision. However, should you turn your gaze on the Pathfinder developers, you shall still find that the answer is "no," followed with a big fat ", BUT:" and the following phrase following that preamble:
Pathfinder is not giving up on Fantasy in the sense that it is moving away from it into bigger, more fantastic things; Pathfinder's developers are capitalizing on the human tendency to fixate in order to gobble up your imagination and strain it through their interpretation of fantasy. You will be exposed to different strains of fantasy while you are being digested and processed by the Pathfinder monster, and when you are inevitably expelled from the beast, you'll realize that the state of Fantasy as a genre is to Paizo's developers what oxygen is to your conscious self: vital, but taken entirely for granted.
As an afterthought: I sound a bit like some sort of Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck railing against Paizo. To clear up any discrepancies, I feel it should be known that I am quite smitten by Paizo's products. Aside from a homebrewed d6 system for Cthulhu games, it is the only tabletop game I enjoy playing. I also think the developers made some very smart moves as far as playing their industrial Go board.
the Kendo we're taught is like the Fencing we're taught--it isn't your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandpappy's martial art.
Ronin Samurai with:
Now, don't get me wrong, I love me my barbarian and Wizard, but I'm quite tickled by the Samurai, which surprised me, because I wasn't going to purchase UC because of it. There're some spellcasters that can stand up to that sort of fight, I'm not gonna try to argue that, but that's putting most characters and a hefty chunk of beasties in the ground.
You already have that opportunity. It's all DM's discretion, but Page 219, "Adding Spells to a Wizard's Spellbook," under the Independent Research section, it says you can make your own spells. Now, it'll be expensive, and you'll need to level with the DM on how you go about studying another spellcaster's spells (you could be studying under a Druid/Cleric/Witch, or however you wanna go about it), but you could just create copies of the desired spells in your spellbook after studying them and spending the necessary money to make them.
WAIT! I'LL SAVE THE DAY!
I believe the Wizard is WAAAAAAY cooler aesthetically. My reasoning: A Sorcerer's magic is inborn, so it's not really a choice. I mean, yeah, you as a player choose, but the character suddenly wakes up one day and his body is dripping acid, or he's grabbing people and electrocuting them without knowing the "why" of it, necessarily. A Wizard chooses magic, and there is nothing more potentially terrifying, devastating, or interesting than the paths of men who have the audacity to try and control the universe with their will alone.
My ideal game, the one I know I'll never play, is a group of wizards (I'd be down with a group of full spellcasters, too) that bully, connive, murder, bribe, baleful polymorph, geas, and in general fight to the top of the political totem pole, in order to create society in their own likeness. A sorcerer can be just as ambitious, and their charisma will see them through the social maneuvering of a game like that better than a wizard (though there is something to be said about a wizard specializing in enchantment), but the sorcerer didn't choose to be a sorcerer AND take on the world (obviously the player chooses mechanically to continue being a sorcerer, but as far as the actual increase of power in-game, it'd be like a guy with aspberger's deciding to be brainy, or a balding man shaving his head).
You know what else I'd like to see? updates to the Half-<monster> templates. Would a half-fiend be the same even if ma or pa were a daemon as opposed to a devil as opposed to a demon? And what does a Half-Magma dragon's breath weapon manifest as? And (to my omnipresent discomfort with mentioning anything involving anthropomorphic animals and the breeding cycle in lieu of certain taboo countercultures) what sort of differences would there be between a Half-Agathion as opposed to a Half-Deva?
Ryan. Costello wrote:
Democracies > Oligarchies, baby.
Look at you, putting words in my posts. Why don't you let me tell you how I would handle the Crossblooded and Hospitaler archetypes, before you start trying to tell me, and the rest of the board, what I'd do. There is an old adage, something about what happens when we assume, and you're making both of us look foolish by proving its wisdom.
Hospitaler: You're not actually replacing any abilities with the Hospitaler. You're altering core class features and shuffling the mechanics of the class to be more healing-centric. If a player went down that path, they'd absolutely have to follow the Hospitaler's Smite. As for the Channel Positive energy feature, when said player hits fourth level, it could elect to take that Channel positive energy, or it could keep the original one, or, for all I care, it could gain a domain as per the Sacred Servant's Spell's ability at fourth level. Same goes for the Aura of Healing.
Crossblooded: that's an all or nothin', since, once again, it's altering core class features. When a player decides to play a Crossblooded, it's an all or nothing modification; the drawbacks are inherent from lvl 1.
When I was thinking about switching out abilities, the Barbarian archetype "superstitious" came to mind. I like the first ability, Sixth Sense (replaces trap sense), just fine, but the Keen Senses ability is not worth Damage Reduction to me. Not electing to take Keen Senses doesn't make my barbarian suddenly overpowered, or the Sixth Sense so good as to be unbalanced, so mechanically, what problem is there with only switching out the one class feature?
As for Rage Prophet: Let's say you take Rage Prophet to 10 using the system I allow. You can absolutely branch out and multiclass, with your whopping one revelation and one rage power. You might have more, if you wanted to spend all your feats that way; you'd have 7 (8 for you human folk) feats at your disposal to do with what you'd like as a level 13 (2 barb, 1 oracle, 10 rage) character. And, the way I go about it, you could multiclass a little more freely, since you don't have to worry about pumping up your BAB from the get-go. You miss out on class features that could play to your strengths in the process, but, like you pointed out, the alchemical bonuses you could get from becoming an alchemist could really help you out. You'd never make it to Master Chymist in a 20th level progression, but if that throws you too far off, there is always those seven feats Fighter could give you. Either way, you're still just as strong as you would be if you followed Paizo's original BAB and Skill prereqs. It's no different than if you did it their way.
...I suppose it was too much for me to hope that I wouldn't return to that dead horse, our old friend assumption, but I assure you that my decision to make a hypocrite of myself is only to continue along that same trend of postulation we've established, where we put words in each other's posts. Right now, I can only assume that you're saying to yourself:
"Self, I really do have seven levels to multiclass according to the normal progression of Rage Prophet. Why does that seem so fam--by Jove! FePriest, in his mathematical GENIUS, his unparalled skill at basic arithmetic, has come onto something. Capital! Capital! His rarefied system of prestige classing is mechanically no different than Paizo's own! If we followed that beautiful system FePriest graced us with, we would end up with the exact same number of mutliclassing opportunities! 7! My God. He balanced the books. Here is a man that can balance the books. Capital! If only we could find a way to place such a humble man in a position of authority, perhaps our international markets would thrive and boom, and I wouldn't have to neglect the children their meals in order to purchase my Pathfinder materials in this ghoulish economy!"
But in all serious. We're all DM's. We all know that it comes down to our determination of what's fair, which mean's it's all arbitrary. The books have some pretty smart rules, but they're ultimately guidelines. If I fudge two or three, it isn't hurting the overall experience so long as I weigh the numbers. My parties still fear appropriate challenge ratings, cry when they find out they've activated a pressure plate in a dungeon, and try their hardest to avoid my villains when they pillage the cities they're hiding in.
Erik Mona wrote:
A whole ton? That...well, that's just ludicrous. The logistics of shipping 2000-pound books are absurd. I'd suggest revisiting the plan entirely. Is the book perchance a compilation of 400+ stone tablets, held together by some high end titanium coil? I salute your love of trees and the environment, but it simply won't do. How do you propose we transport said book? I don't have a crane, or a pulley system with the appropriate counterweights; I'm also concerned that my players, iconic members of the gaming demographic's stereotype--misanthropic albinos that skulk in filthy, windowless comic shops by day, and their parents' basement by night, sweating off-brand Mountain Dew while resolving deep, unacknowledged social anxieties through unofficial PvP combat, wherein the losers of said combats are exiled into the hostile environment outside of the aforementioned comic shop until such a time when they acquire nourishment for the party, which, due to a most unusual and deadly allergy to nature and the outside world, must be purchased from a food establishment that, with the magic of modern chemistry, has found clever ways to make such wonderful commonplaces as pizza, chinese, hamburgers, and other various delectables entirely from fat byproducts; failure to purchase the appropriate quantity of food is punishable by a ritualistic killing of said player through the death of his character, often leading to social travesties that, upon revealing themselves to the public world, conjured such colorful depictions of the Tabletop gaming industry as were touted by concerned parent leagues across the nation in the eighties, and ultraconservative religious groups in the nineties--won't be able to turn the pages and use the information.
On Archetypes and balance: I am of the opinion that, should you choose an archetype, you do not have to go the "all-or-nothin'" route. If you like the third level ability of a given archetype, but none of the others, I see nothing wrong with selecting only that one, and continuing on your merry way; the differences it will make in the long run are so negligible that it's silly to argue over. I'll even let my players choose two archetypes, so long as the abilities the archetypes are replacing do not overlap.
PrCs and limitations: Depending on the level of the game, and the nature of the prestige class, I lower prerequisites based on BAB and skill ranks so players can step into their intended prestige class more easily. A prime example is the Rage Prophet: the Rage Prophet is a wonderful blend for Barbarians and Oracles, but in the scope of things, allowing a player to take the class at lvl 3 is no different than taking it at lvl 7 since, by lvl 20, they'll have the same number of spells, barbarian abilities, and oracle mysteries and revelations, regardless of when they started to level in Rage Prophet.
On the word "Ultimate," and further publications by Paizo:
Whoo. Watch out for those asides.
You really can't kill an idea, but you can forget it. You can't forget things like disease though, because someone is suffering one somewhere. You can, however, change how some people think of an idea. Back in the day diseases were an act of God and could be cured if a person's humours were balanced. Nowadays, we believe diseases stem from living organisms that live inside of us. To say one is diseased in the 15th century, then say it in the 21st century, would be catering to totally separate ideas, but using the same vocal sounds to create meaning.
There again, both versions of disease talk of sick bodies, so they could be strikingly accurate. Its hard to change the meaning of something so painfully rooted in humanity.
There are some duality options you can play with via Domains without simply grabbing the two best choices for your build. For example, you could play a Cleric of fire of ice, light and dark, life and death, all things rendered impossible by strict monotheism but with a definite yin-yang feel. In the same way that a Druid reveres "nature" you can find peace between the necessary clashing of two concepts. Some things, like good and evil or law and chaos might take some twisting to really justify and at most I'd think you'd have to be neutral to pull it off.
Oracles can't replace Clerics who opt out of worshipping Gods because of the respective fluff of those classes. If a Cleric is to Divine Magic what a Wizard is to Arcane Magic, then an Oracle is to Divine Magic what a Sorcerer is to Arcane Magic.
A cleric who doesn't worship a God should still be a part of some organization. It's the difference between Confucianism and Taoism--both represent an intensely powerful concept, but Confucius was a man and claimed nothing more. Obviously you can play a Cleric as a rogue spirit or a chosen of "God(s) X(Y, and Z)", but I think the most important trait of a Cleric is where it belongs in a social hierarchy: the cleric is a specialized member of an idea/religion who draws much of his power from his connections; philosophical, divine, or otherwise.
I usually resolve the issue by allowing a player to use the Godless Cleric as a member of a philosophical order that requires him or her to create a structure for his/her principles that defines how she behaves when interacting with other races, genders, cultures, magic users, beings, dimensions, and ethical decisions. How the player enforces those ideas is dependent on their alignment/the idea's nature. It also gives the player the control he or she wants, and she can work that community in such a manner where he or she doesn't have to answer directly to them, which is also a major attraction to the sort of person who plays a Godless Cleric specifically to avoid the use of a God.
As for the origin of Divine Powers: Its a 'what came first' question: the religion or the man? Since there are multiple faiths, it becomes difficult to say if any one is real, but instead created as an explanation for something more primordial way back when the culture that spawned a particular religion first started growing.
I avoid Divinity and Pantheons entirely by saying the Gods abandoned the world because they made a bad deal and used it to pay off their debt, and the things people worship are incarnae--embodiments of ideas. Domains represent the two ideas a cleric most adheres to, so Clerics in my world either choose Domains for large Incarnae (vague ideas like war or justice), or two Incarnae for smaller ideas (madness and freedom). Conflicts abound!
I've been chugging along with life at an appropriately reckless (and productive) speed for a young'un such as myself, so pardon my tardy response:
I'm aware that Iaijutsu isn't about armored battle, which is why I used that particular example. Iaijutsu is a peculiar practice, indicative of a culturally unique approach towards combat that neither the Fighter or the Cavalier capture mechanically or aesthetically. I don't suggest Paizo use it as a class feature, but I do believe its a good staging point to understand how and why the Samurai is as archetypal as "Fighter" or "Ranger" or "Cavalier".
All we've left to see is how it turns out. Paizo has decided to jump into that particular lion's den one way or another, so lets hope they give the Samurai the fluff and crunch needed to make it feel as unique and innovative as the rest of their base classes.
I understand that a fantasy world allows for the complete rejection of history, but a Samurai evolved into what it was because of a variety of factors limiting its equipment, including but not limited to weather, raw materials, craftsmen, and cultural values. Unlike the knights of Western civilization, the Samurai had significantly less metals to work with, and the metal they had was not of the same quality. Consequently, they had to make do with what they were given. Efficiency was more important than power, hence the development of disciplines like Iajutsu, and defines the way a Samurai approached combat and training.
I know the Samurai emerged roughly around the same time the rest of the world was spawning their "tank units" (equestrian warriors), so I can just create a Samurai using the Chevalier as my base class, with little changes to flavor. There is no incentive to use Samurai, except that it capitalizes on my demographics obsession with asian culture.
My suggestion: don't fall into the same trap D&D did; don't make the Samurai a variant to another martial class. Take the time to consider what makes the Samurai a unique warrior (at the expense of much potential booing and naysaying: Iaijustu is a good referencing point). If I can create the same feel of this class from a product I've already purchased, then you're wasting your time and my money and the book's space. I've really enjoyed that the classes you've created thus far have always felt novel, don't ruin the trust and faith I've put into your product to capitalize on the word "Samurai".