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My search skills are failing me. A few days ago I someone posted a link to a guide that did an excellent job in comparing the various polymorph spells, beast shape, form of the dragon, etc, including recommendations.
Now I can't find it. I must have been reading while on my phone (which has a browser that does not allow me to log in), so I wasn't able to favorite the link. This guide is also not saved under Advice in the Guide to the Guides.
Does anyone have a link to this guide?
I like adding these occasionally into the a campaign. They can be much better than a normal PC, and helps add flavor / history / background into the campaign without the PCs bringing along another body. My current homebrew, has a bone great club that contains the spirit of an ancient champion. He is a spirit of good, guiding the PC when he can with history and religion knowledge. The player liked it so much he started taking levels in paladin to follow the path of the ancient spirit.
Here is a reptilian wizard with the metal element specialty. He's a bit of an oddity both as a reptilian wizard, but also his support of the Hellfire Phoenix since fire is his opposition. He's a mercenary, and may be aligned with other forces, but he has not interest in helping the PCs.
In this scene, the PCs are assaulting a sorcerer training compound, while a major battle is taking place many miles away. The bulk of the sorcerer forces will be away supporting that battle. However, once the PCs attack, reinforcements will start teleporting back to protect the towers. This wizard will be among one of the forces teleporting back to thwart the PCs.
Fire is no good unless there is a house rule you can cast those domains spells.
I'm curious. Why wouldn't fire work without a house rule?
Otherwise, since it is a homebrew, I like the Feathered Domain with Fire. Is there some sort of firebird, in the homebrew that could be used at a diety (if that matters to you)? A celestial phoenix, perhaps? Just for flavor purposes.
I'm currently running a game for 7 players at 14th level, so I'm also interested in more ideas.
Here is a officer of a sorcerer unit in the enemy forces.
On a side note, I started this thread as a way to perhaps get some feedback. I also thought it would be one way I could give back something to the boards, since I get a lot of information and use from them. Any comments would be appreciated, but also let me know if it would help to have more information on the encounter or to add more context. So far this game has been going for over a year, the PCs just hit 14th, and they players all seem eager to keep going since I have the arc planned out to 20th level.
Here is a villain who I hope to keep alive for several encounters. The PCs will meet him while on a diplomatic mission to his warlike community. This evil druid had turned against his brethren, but it may take the PCs some time to discover his duplicity. If discovered, I hope to have him harry the group for several encounters.
Also to be clear. This wasn't a scenario where the PCs could have received a surprise round. This was a scene where they needed to make a Perception or Sense Motive check in order to act in the surprise round. This is how it played out roughly.
The group just fought a very large battle against a dragon and 10 drake minions.
GM: As the dragon breaths its last, you see a platoon of six legionnaires (same army as the PCs) marching toward you at a fast pace. It looks like a typical unit with three long spearmen with their tower shields and three archers marching behind, ready for a fight. Their commander makes a signal and they stop in formation several yards away. The commander approaches closer, scanning the carnage around the field and says "we were just heading back from the north ridge watch tower, when we heard fighting. How can we help?"
This is the point where those two PCs are aware of combatants, and thus can act in the surprise round in which the traitors attack. All others roll initiative for the next round.
Would you have set the DC at 25 if the PCs were 1st level instead of 13th?
I believe I would have. There are a couple nagging points for me though. The normal soldiers have no skills in bluff or diplomacy so they hung back. The main soldier had skills toward diplomacy and uses that to make the PCs friendly and to use the Betrayer feat. However, Diplomacy really seems to be a skill for PCs to use rather than against PCs. I didn't really see a modifier for "from a trusted organization".
I try to keep an open roll policy during the game (all rolls in front of everyone in real time), otherwise the pre-rolled idea is good. This group is also better at reading me than reading the situation as described ("hey there must be a combat coming up, since he only pulls out a map when we're going to be attacked!"), so I try to have them make opposing rolls for many things. That way, they really don't know if it is prior to combat.
But I'll keep both of these in mind.
In other words, if you were a player, you'd be OK to learn that the fighter had the skill focus (bluff)feat, and 14 ranks in Bluff? In my mind that's a base DC20, plus maybe +5 for the fact they are perceived as allies. The NPC is a devoted scum bag, so the build is justified in a way.
I don't think the DC is too high or anything, just curious on how other's would play this out. And if I'm designing my foes correctly.
I should add that I could have designed the leader to have Betrayer as a feat, but Diplomacy really isn't an effective skill against PCs. I can assume they are friendly at the beginning since they see friendly forces, but that's an assumption. I can ask what they're feeling when they see friendly forces appear, but tell me that's not a signal to the players that something's up.
Also, there is no surprise round as everyone is aware of everyone. If you have 2 groups of people and one of them suddenly goes hostile against the other group, there is no surprise round, you'd just roll initiative, which is basically what occurred here.
On this, I do disagree. If you are aware of combatants, sure, there isn't a surprise round. However, the PCs are only aware of allies/ friends in their presence, thus the question on what type of checks are appropriate. If an underhanded enemy pulls off any form of deception: bluff, slight of hand, stealth, then there is the possibility of a surprise round. I'll add that I'm not really interested in debating that point.
I ran the following scenario past my group in our last game. While no one in my group had an issue with how I ran it, another thread made me question my logic on it. Let me know if this sounds legitimate.
The PCs are 13th level, and are now emerging power players in the local region. They've unknowingly made some political enemies even though they are really just agents of the army.
In the scene the heroes just got done coming to a neighboring noble's aid. The PCs were ending the battle, and another friendly army unit appeared. The unit consisted of 6 soldiers and a commanding officer. As the allied unit approached, the officer asked what was happening, and how he and his men could assist. The PCs trusting that they were allies, spread out doing different tasks (searching for a missing kidnapped NPC, healing, etc).
The new allies were in fact a unit of traitors sent to kill the PCs by a political enemy of their commander. To date there had been no clues that such an enemy existed.
For the surprise round, I allowed the PCs a Sense Motive or a Perception check which ever was higher to notice that the soldiers appeared anxious, were gripping weapons while moving into odd positions around the remaining PCs, and watching their leader intently. I set the DC at 25 given the fact that the soldiers were in fact part of the allied army and had valid reasons to be in the area (also not a hard DC for 13th level PCs). Anyone who missed that DC didn't act in the surprise round.
Does this sound reasonable? Yes, I could give the leader feats such as Deceptive, Persuasive, or Betrayer, but I don't think they were really necessary. If I were going for a higher DC, maybe. However, these traitors were used to knocking off lower level foes, and were meant to fail after all.
Is there a chance that he is still communicating to members of his cult? Directing them even though he is imprisoned?
Basically, he is the great criminal/ terrorist / madman who is locked away, but some of his evil remains in the world. He could be the mastermind directing crimes while still in prison. However, I get the impression this BBEG has even less contact.
Perhaps a cultist has cracked his prison enough to allow him to communicate to his devoted. The PCs aren't going to confront him in the end, but must repair and reinforce the prison. To do this, they must get past cultists as well as defenses of the prison.
Before that they could encounter his writings which inspire other evil doers. This would give insights directly to the foe and build why they hate him. Perhaps a cultist is compiling long lost collections of his work, and the cultist just happens to have a list of where other evil memoirs / manifestos can be found.
I'm running a homebrew for 7 young adult players, and I was worried about this at first too. After the first game, I wasn't sure the game would last. Players constantly check out mentally, socialize, or play with their phones. But they say they enjoy it, and they keep coming back. They're currently at 12th level, and when I said I had a rough outline taking them to 20th, everyone seemed excited to see where it goes.
I agree with a lot of the suggestions above on efficiency in combat and decision making. I accidentally allowed a really tough problem / combat take up an entire 4 hour session (for example) when I should have dropped clues (they didn't need to defeat the 4 mythic fire elementals, there were ways around them).
I keep combat moving as quickly as possible. I find it especially helps to declare the two people who are up, and who is up on deck. I don't mind if they roll their attack rolls in advance (they've been honest to a fault).
I use the slow advancement schedule, however I don't strictly stick to XP totals. If it would make more sense to finish off an encounter with more or less XP, then I do so. If, for example, the PC's abandon the pursuit of an enemy compound, I may add some reinforcements for when they return, and don't add in the extra XP (mostly cause it may throw the story off to have them too high a level too soon).
As for excitement, my group tends to like the 5 to 10 round encounter. To me, the excitement is keeping some legitimate and various threats alive on the battlefield. I try to play the encounters intelligently (if they opponents are intelligent). Read some of the optimization guides on the various classes or group tactics, then use tactics that the PCs may use. For example, that ghast cleric could cause headaches for the PCs with Obscuring Mist spells while waves of his ghoul friends stalk the PCs through the mist (and limiting ranged attacks), and while the PCs should easily make the paralysis save, the threat increases with the sheer numbers. Things get more interesting if anyone fails their save.
I also run a homebrew, which is kind of like a military campaign, so I usually think of how a particular group would defend their territory, and what tactics they may use.
In my experience, you also have to be careful not to include too many creatures in an encounter that are just too low on the CR scale. For example, I tend to only go as low as APL -3 for the minimum CR creature in an encounter. As an example, 4th level PCs really don’t get a challenge at all from skeletons. At CR 1/3 they really are just a speed bump.
In other words, I look to fill encounters with opponents that are at least APL -3 and up to APL +3. If the individual opponent’s CR is APL -4 or worse, the encounters tend to be less than fun.
Looking closer at the example you gave (4 skeletons, 2 ghouls, and 1 ghast cleric 4), I’m calling the ghast a CR 4, which really makes the entire encounter a CR6. One may think that is a tough fight. However, the skeletons should be discounted as they fall too far under the CR range. They may not have any chance at really hurting the party.
I also don’t remember where I read this but an appropriate CR encounter tends to use up 1/4 of the parties resources. In other words, four CR4 encounters for your group should be it before they need rest. With that said, try throwing three CR 4 encounters at them at once or in short waves.
Using the same example as above, the PCs could run into a 4th level ghast cleric (CR4) who rouses his troops and the group is hit with two waves of ghouls (3 in each wave for CR4 each). And if they still steamroll that, maybe a 3rd waves comes to the cleric’s aid.
Thanks for all the input. Looks like I need to check out / purchase Unchained sooner rather than later. I also missed some of those threads when I did my search.
Another alternate to #1 was to reduce the number of extra attacks to the levels listed in 5e, so martials would only see 3 extra attacks in their progression, but I'll check out Unchained first.
I normally wouldn't mind playing around with something like this, but this particular campaign has been going very well, and everyone has expressed interest in continuing to 20th, so I don't want to throw rules experiments in either.
I debated on where to post this, and thought it most appropriate to place it here as I'm interested in how others think this may fit with the existing PF rules.
Some friends were telling me about 5e and I'm thinking of house-ruling a couple items.
1. All iterative attacks are just full attacks. In other words, once a PC has gained an iterative attack, use your full attack bonus rather than -5 on the 2nd attack.
I'm not a fan of house rules, but I'd like this attempt at simplifying the math while adding some dynamics to combat as our group goes into 12th level and beyond.
If you wish to go more loosely, just plan 4 to 5 encounters as I mentioned above that are CR appropriate. Use those as a group of encounters that would probably be confronted before a rest period is available (roughly). Obviously, this will vary by group. Figure out a period of game time that seems to be agreeable to your players and yourself for when leveling up seems appropriate. My games are more combat focused so we tend to complete 3 or 4 encounter groups (12 CR appropriate encounters) in one four hour session. As such we tend to level up 2nd or 3rd gaming session.
Interestingly enough, I'm retooling an old campaign that I built myself. While I tend to use milestones as well, I still like to calculate the XP for each encounter and have a running total.
Basically, I have a big Excel spreadsheet with a worksheet for every 2 or 3 levels. I split it into chapters like an AP, but whatever works best for you will do. I also use the Slow XP chart. This way if the PCs skip something, or bypass a few encounters, I don't really sweat it. The players tend to level up every other gaming session (or third session), and it seems to be going well.
Yes, compiling Excel spreadsheets on encounters and treasure tables is what I call fun and relaxing.
So for example, if in Chapter 1, I want to go from Level 1 to Level 3, that is 7,500 XP on the slow path per PC, which is 30,000 total XP. I'll then list out columns for Encounter Name, XP, # of encounters (may have more than one orc after all), and total XP. When the total XP is at 30,000, I then plan encounter groups. For example, the PCs may need to overcome an orc outpost. That may consist of 4-5 appropriate encounters. I try to stick to 4-5 because if the PCs mess up and the whole complex comes down on their heads then they have an epic but survivable (barely) encounter.
I also make another Excel sheet for treasure and in a similar manner, calculate the total I want to give and split accordingly among types of treasure.
I'll stop before this gets much longer, but I hope this is helpful.