Just downloaded the PDF, which I have so far only skimmed, but...
Pathfinder #71: Rasputin Must Die! is an AwesomeSandwich dripping with Awesomesauce with a side of Awesomechips!
It's also one of the darkest adventures I've ever encountered... which makes sense since it's set during freakin' World War I!!!
To the writers and development team: Seriously, this is really impressive stuff. You guys have outdone yourselves with this one.
I can hardly wait for my print copy to arrive so that I can curl up and really read this thing!
Six stars out of five!
in the Gameplay thread, Anton wrote:
"She," Anton corrects. "Proper nomenclature is important. You would not wish to be properly mislabeled as a female ...or as a true knight."
Ouch! Will Bellicus shove Anton over the cliff for that zinger?
This is one of the reasons I like to host my games at a local game store instead of at a house. Being in a public area people seem to behave better in general.
Well, I'm in my early 40s, and my gaming friends are more-or-less in the same age bracket. Grown ups should know how to behave in other peoples' homes-- and if they don't, they don't get invited back.
Whenever I've played at my FLGS, I've found that most of the other gamers have been the same age as, or younger than, my own kid. And, I tend to get the hairy eyeball from the parents of said kids. (I can almost hear them think, "Why would a man my age want to play games with children?") And the games have always devolved into long irrelevant discussions about some anime show I've never seen. Not fun. I'll play with other grown-ups in the privacy of our own homes!
That said, little kids (age 2-7) can be very disruptive to a game... particularly if they're the kind that won't sit still or can't be trusted around a TV set. And there's also the factor of the content rating of the game. When I took over GM duties of my group, we had to change the venue to my house from the home of a couple who had been in the game. They had a then-5-year-old who they let wander around in the room we played in. Unfortunately, I wanted to run a game with strong horror elements, and did not feel comfortable giving rather graphic description of kind of strong stuff with a young kid running around.
In my house, my wife usually took care of our kid in a different area of the house... until she got old enough to know better than to be disruptive. Then, she started watching our game with interest and respect (and asking the occasional insightful question), which garnered her interest in the hobby.
TL;DR: Not all kids are disruptive, and a well-behaved parent knows when to remove a disruptive child from a situation.
A no-win scenario specifically designed to torture a paladin.
Are YOU evil for designing this scenario?
No, but you'd be a total jerkwad if you ran it.
If I were playing the paladin, I'd walk over to the mirror and shatter it. If that meant a trip to Hell, so be it.
Of course, if I was a player in your group (regardless of whether or not I was playing the paladin), I might very well quit your group then and there. Because deliberately setting up one of your PCs to fall is very much a jerk move.
I wish I had something less harsh to say, but I don't.
I plan on having a scenario where the Paladin is forced to commit an evil act, or have himself, and the rest of the PCs cast into a swirling red abyss (portal) that leads to Hell.
Don't do this.
Seriously... Don't do this.
Making a paladin violate his code is a totally cliche "bad GM" move that will NOT endear you to your players.
Forcing a paladin into a no-win situation is, IMAO, a terrible thing for a GM to do. People who choose to play paladins generally want to be white-hat good guys. Presenting a paladin's player with a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" dilemma is sloppy encounter design at best and simply being a jerk at worst. And if you do go down that path, you're only going to sow ill will between you and your players.
I just don't get why so many GMs seem to want to screw with paladins like this. (Other than simply being a jerk, of course.)
A well-played lawful good character of any class will look at the situation you present as a false dilemma and will come up with something creative that does not break their code-- including self-sacrifice if it comes to that.
I happen to like the distinctiveness of the LG paladin. The LG alignment is the hardest to properly role-play, and the role-playing aspect is the main drawback for an otherwise very powerful class.
We have all had experience with (or at least heard of) horror stories regarding paladins. From the player side: role-playing paladin PCs as pompous self-righteous jerks and/or "lawful stupid" types who never back down from any perceived injustice. Or from the GM side: where the GM gleefully entraps a paladin PC into "falling" by trickery, "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenarios, or fiat.
Those aren't problems of the paladin class per se: they're problems with the interpretation and/or incompatible play styles.
So, in my game, paladins are LG, but I generally give the player the benefit of the doubt when it comes to moral questions. I NEVER set them up to fail. When I play a paladin, I always remember that "lawful" means "team player" and "group > individual".
In my game, if you want to play a non-LG holy warrior that's dedicated to a deity, then there's already a published option: Play an inquisitor!
You will need to set yourself up with a (free!) Spotify account, if you haven't done so already.
Some of these songs might run the risk of the singer getting hanged in Cheliax. (Notably the set closer, "Chimes of Freedom"-- I envision this as having been an Andoren song that was popular during the Revolution against Cheliax.)
On a slightly related note... I can't believe that I stayed up to 1AM doing this!
Dwarven women don't have full beards in my game world... although the incidence of hirsutism in dwarven women is a bit higher than that in human women.
Oh, and on a coincidental tangent to Mr. Doodlebug... I recently picked up a Roku box, and, as a fan of terrible movies, I couldn't resist adding the Midnight Pulp channel.
And what movie did I just notice is available for free streaming under the "Exploitation Films" genre?
Mid-'70s sexploitation flick, here I come!
(That didn't sound right...)
THIS is why, as a GM, I'm not terribly fond of power-gaming! I scale encounters on-the-fly, so as to present an appropriate and enjoyable challenge to the PCs. When they powergame, it just means I have to ad hoc ways for my encounters to still present a challenge. To me, it's far more about telling a compelling story WITH the players than it is about number-crunching and power builds.
(For that matter, as a player, I'm not fond of power-gaming either: I prefer to take an interesting character concept and try to build a character that's true to that vision. I much prefer writing compelling backstory than trawling through rulebooks looking for numerical advantages.)
Of course, I'm an old-school GM who cut his teeth on 1st-ed AD&D, where much of the game was deliberately undefined, and the GM and players had more room for flexibility and creativity while still working within the ruleset.
I'm a Dan Savage fan, and one of the things he mentions often is that female sexuality is far more fluid than male sexuality.
Back to the thread topic: I handle sexuality in my games pretty much as it happens in the real world. Most people are mostly straight, and some people are gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, transgendered, or hermaphrodites. Most "good guy" societies are generally tolerant of varied sexual orientations and simply don't care much. Compared to humans, in my world, elves are more likely to be bi, and dwarves more likely to be straight, and gnomes are more likely to be pansexual.
In 30+ years of GMing, I've only had five TPKs, and two were in tournament sessions I was running at cons (so those don't really count.)
One TPK ended the campaign in a good way. I wasn't planning it to be the final adventure in the campaign, but the PCs sacrificed themselves to stop the bad guys from summoning a Terrible Evil into the world. I decided that was the cinematic end of the campaign, and milked it for all it was worth. I played out vignette scenarios of all the PCs entering the afterlife. It was glorious.
One TPK ended the campaign in a bad way. The players made some actively terrible tactical decisions based on bad analysis of the situation, and fought their way into an enemy stronghold but couldn't fight their way out again. There were other problems with that campaign, so we ended with the PCs deaths. Another GM started a new campaign a few weeks later.
One TPK ended up with the PCs dead, but the BBEG figured they were still valuable, so he healed them back up, took their gear, and enslaved them in the mines. I improvised a few sessions of the PCs staging a slave revolt and escaping, then got the game back on track.
In PF, erinyes devils are female and beautiful, but they're pretty much the Furies from Greco-Roman myth. They are vengeful female warriors that kill first and ask questions... never. They don't have any real role as a seducer.
Why, thank you! I think we have very similar play/GM styles.
[Aside: You're on the short list of Paizo posters that I'd love to play a VTT game with... if only I had the time!]
Um, it's nicer when she's not wearing that metal shell-- that stuff is heavy! And when she sticks me in the sides with those pointy things on her feet I run fast to get away from them. But it never works! That's not fair! But she does rub me down after riding all day and she gives me tasty snacks and talks to me, so that's OK, so I actually kind of really like her, even if she pokes me with those pointy things.
And I've seen her kill things bigger and stronger tham me like the big bug-things and the big lizard thing that catches everything on fire. Fire is scary! So, I don't know if I'm really stronger than she is, and she has that one big shiny claw of hers is really long and really sharp and I wouldn't want to fight her anyway.
So... I guess it's OK with me!
And how come I can talk to a tree all of a sudden?
Before Aldern's transformation into The Skinsaw Man, I played him as a tragic figure. He wasn't particularly "good" but he wasn't evil by nature. The family curse had driven him half-crazy, but he still had moments of lucidity. And then he got in WAY over his head when tried to go to the Brothers of the Seven for assistance-- people he had trusted, but ultimately betrayed him for their own gain. And then the even-more-evil Xanesha intervened and turned him into more of a pawn.
So, no, the guy isn't in his right mind. Before his transformation, he's still teetering on the brink, and it would be possible to redeem him, if he were to confess to the PCs and ask for their mercy and help. But pride gets in his way, and he falls to the dark path, eventually becomming the horrific Skinsaw Man.
As I write this, it dawned on me that, depending on the story you want to tell, you could play Aldern as a story of redemption. He confesses to killing his wife, claiming (correctly) that the maleovelent spirits of his house compelled him to do it. With the help of Father Zantus, the PCs redeem Aldern Foxglove. He then asks their help in breaking the curse over his home. You would need to create a new boss villain-- perhaps write up a partly-risen Vorel Foxglove as some kind of non-lich undead creature (a juju zombie or dread ghast perhaps). There are no murders in Sandpoint-- the Skinsaw Murders are relegated to Magnimar. You would want to run an investigation there to drive home the Sihedron Rune connection. Alden then reveals to the party what the Brothers of Seven really are, and joins the PCs on their quest to destroy them.
My game has some strong horror elements, and has dealt with issues of sexuality. It's definitely a hard-R, possibly bordering on NC-17 at times. PCs occasionally engate in sexual activity, although I usually play it as a "fade to black."
There have been three scenes that dealt with the survivors of sexual violence (perpetrated by NPCs on NPCs), and one on-camera rape (ditto). I played these scense as tragedy and/or horror, not as titillation. They were very disturbing.
I have also included scenes of mutilation, torture, and existential horror. Again, I never play such scenes for laughs: they're always very intense and usually disturbing. But my players and I are all horror fans, and we're all OK with that kind of content.
That said, I ALWAYS check in with my players, individually and in person, ahead of the game BEFORE I introduce any potentially-triggering elements.
And I don't think it's ever appropriate for PCs to be the subject of sexual violence without the player's pre-approval.
I have always seen Charisma as one's force of personality and sense of self. It's not just about how one carries oneself superficially. Charisma is a lot deeper than that: it's a reflection of the character's sense of self and individuality.
A high Charisma means that the individual can affect the world around him to his personal advantage. It could be a trusting sense of self-assuredness; personal magnetism; serene calm and a blinding smile; gregarous extraversion; etc.
A low Charisma indicates that the character has a hard time asserting himself. It could mean a speech impediment or stutter; painful shyness; low self-esteem (or even self-loathing).
You can play low Charisma as a blissful unawareness of a negative personality trait-- such as steamrollering others in conversation; no sense of tact; poor personal hygene. But these latter ways to play it are more superficial than what Charisma truly represents: A low Charisma means a lack of sense of self, and a tendency to let others make decisions for you.
In other words, a low-Charisma character is more likely to be a doormat who shuns the spotlight rather than a smelly obnoxious rube who picks his nose in public.
Of course, the latter is more fun to play!
I've been running a group of 4 PCs built on 15-point buy, and they completely steamroll over most encounters. I've had to increase the difficulty of encounters to create a challenge. We've had exactly two PC deaths in My Runelords game-- and one was planned and took place off-camera!
My players are all in their 30s and 40s, and we've all been playing tabletop RPGs since we were kids. Avoiding TPKs is all about good battlefield tactics, resource management, and knowing when to run.
Also-- as a GM with 30+ years of experience, I ALWAYS roll behind a screen. Of course, I'm the kind of GM who doesn't let dice rolls get in the way of a good story. I don't like to kill off a PC who was using sound tactics or trying to pull off something cinematic. (Of course, if the PCs are doing something dumb, I let the dice fall where they may.) This subtly encourages them to use sound tactics. (I will also OCCASIONALLY fudge a bad guy's rolls the other way, in the case where a supposedly-scary villain can't roll his way out of a paper bag.)
It sounds like your players are using lousy tactics, AND you're subjecting the plot to the whims of bad dice rolls that are detracting from the fun. This game isn't a meatgrinder by design. It IS a tough AP, which rewards sound tactics and punishes too many frontal assaults.
He could also be painfully shy, with a soft voice who mumbles quietly when communicating, avoiding eye contact. Someone who is very much not comfortable asserting himself or his opinions in a group. Someone who actively avoids the spotlight. Someone who's a follower, not a leader.
The person could be very nice and personable, but only with people he knows, trusts, and is already comfortable with. (I.e. His friends and fellow adventurers).
Honestly, I don't allow my players to dump a stat below 8... And that's AFTER racial modifiers.
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
The fact that such a child would attend a picnic by the gallows to watch you hang and suffocate to death on the rope around your neck for her own sickening entertainment, is disturbing. and she would do such a thing with the sickest sadistic smile she could make.
[ASIDE]Please note that public execution was very much a popular spectator activity until the first quarter if the 20th Century. Public hangings and firing squads could be witnessed by thousands. Looking back further, people watched public beheadings and the condemned being dwawn-and-quartered as late as the 1890s. I read an entry from the personal letters of the English Romantic poet Lord Byron that commented that while running errands in London, he'd happened upon the public execution of a traitorous sailor one morning. He remarked that he watched the prisoner being drawn-and-quartered, then stopped at a restaurant for lunch. People regularly brought their children to such things. [/ASIDE]
Okay, here's one from a few sessions ago.
The PCs were traveling, and came upon a fairly large town. They stayed the night at the best inn-- which had luxury rooms (single accommodations). Of course, three sessions ago, they had killed an Aspis Consortium gold agent and had broken up a very lucrative smuggling ring. So the local chapter chief put a hit out on the PCs. A four-man assassination team had been following the PCs for some time, and I decided that they were going to strike there.
Long story short, one PC failed three Perception checks and the Fort save on a coup de grace and died. The PCs managed to kill each of the other three assassins (including by throwing one assassin out of a fourth-floor window), but then discovered that their friend was dead and his assassin had escaped.
After returning from a brief search for the escaping assassin (who got away), the barbarian with a 7 Charisma tried to reassure the other guests, many of whom had been awakened by the fight in the corridors...
"It's OK! Nothing at all to worry about! We just killed three assassins that tried to murder us in our sleep, but they’re dead now, so they won’t be bothering anyone any more. Well, one did get away, but I’m SURE he’s not stupid enough to come back! Sleep tight, everyone!"
Klaus van der Kroft wrote:
According to the movies, everyone was snorting stuff in the '80s!
I couldn't resist this. I just put a duck in the dungeon I'm writing.
There's a room, far underground, that is a formal sitting garden, including a waterfall into a large pool. The duck is swimming around the pool.
Everything in the room is completely normal and nonmagical. (There are some minor magicks that keep the plantlife alive despite being far underground.) There is the illusion of the sky and sun on the ceiling of the room, but everything else is normal. Nothing is dangerous. Even the apples on the apple tree are normal and safe to eat (but very sour-- they need another three weeks until they're ripe!)
Why is this here? The wizard who built the dungeon was paranoid about being assassinated and hated to be outside, but he loved formal gardens. He just used the room to relax!
I'm guessing that this room is going to TOTALLY freak out my players, and that they are going to spend at least an hour of real-world time trying to figure out what it means!
Sometimes, a duck is just a duck.
What Orthos said.
Speaking strictly for myself, I've always thought that some kind of psychic magic system needed to be in the game, but I have never liked spell-point systems in the D&D family of games. I will applaud a version of psychic magic that is more-or-less based on the spontaneous caster model-- where the psychic powers are essentially inborn magical superpowers (like a sorcerer's).
In fact, in my home game, I have worked with a player who wanted to create a "psychic" character. We collaborated to build a sorcerer with a custom "psychic" bloodline. He chose spells that represented his psychic powers. For example, at first level, his known "spells" were: (Cantrips): detect magic, daze, mage hand, and message. (1st level) hypnotism, shield. Note that these are all effects that could be explained by telepathy, ESP, or telekinesis.
As for the flavor of this character's "spellcasting": Sorcerers get the Eschew Materials feat for free. In TV and movies, you normally see psychic characters make some sort of visible gestures when manifesting their powers (whether it's pantomiming manipulating objects, putting their hands to their temples, balling their fists in concentration, etc.) Verbal components are tougher to justify, but I said that the character needed to mutter a mantra and hear his own voice to help concentrate to bring the effect into being. There's also the Silent Spell feat.
Back to the original gist of this thread... I seem to recall in the "Ask James Jacobs" thread that one of the major obstacles for going down the path that he'd like to use for psychic magic is that the 3.5 spell-point system of psionics has a number of very vocal supporters who would likely loudly object to a "new" system. He also said that he was wary of stepping too hard on the toes of a well-established third party publisher that has invested heavily in the 3.5 psionics system (i.e. Dreamscarred Press).
Remember that in Golarion, the term "priest" refers to an official or leader in a church, not necessarily any particular character class. A Priest of Iomedae could very well have levels of Fighter, Inquisitor, Paladin, or Aristorcrat rather than Cleric. And, as other posters have said, it might be possible for a character with divine powers to misinterpret the signs from the gods and take it to mean that he should double-down on heresy, rather than correct it.
A real-world example might be the Munster Rebellion of 1534-5. Radical Anabaptists took over the city of Munster in Germany in a bloodless coup d'etat from a coalition of Catholic and Lutheran elders who had ruled the city. Their prophet was likely insane, and truly believed that the Voice of God spoke to him. The Anabaptists, believing that they were doing the work of God and brining a New Jerusalem instead destroyed the Catholic libraries and artwork, burned all books that were not the vernacular Bible, and then started executing those who they deemed "heretics" (i.e. non-Anabaptists). And then it got weird.
We have three PCs in the party I GM that have (and use) Stealth in combat. We have had exactly zero problem with the rules as written. I still do not understand the extensive complaints that so many people seem to have with the RAW.
There was nothing at all cut from the adventure itself. Some encounters were changed a bit, mainly due to player & GM feedback (e.g. the BBEG battle at the end of Book 2 was nerfed a bit, as it was a notorious TPK machine). A few encounters were added or expanded upon. An entire section of the huge dungeon in Book 5 was added (in the original, it was left for the GM to detail). The segues between chapters were all tightened up. And, the whole thing was congerted from OGL/3.5 to PFRPG rules.
What brought the pagecount down was elimination of many of the support articles. The religion articles on Desna and Lamashtu were cut, the ecology articles on giants and dragons were cut, the flavor articles on the Pathfinder Society and Thassilon were cut, the Bestiaries were cut, all of the fiction was cut, the gazetteer on Varisia was cut (actually just moved to the free Players' Guide), and the gazetteer on Magnimar was significantly reduced.
They added a gazetteer on Turtleback Ferry (including a map of the town), and kept the gazetteers on Sandpoint and Xin-Shalast pretty much unchanged.
An expanded Magnimar guide is available in the Campaign Setting Magnimar: City of Monuments. All of the monsters used in the adventure path are now in one of the Bestiaries. The Pathfinder Society information was expanded and republished in the Campaign Setting Seeker of Secrets. Thassilon was detailed in greater detail in the Campaign Setting Lost Kingdoms. The ecology of stone giants article was reprinted and expanded in the Campaign Setting Giants Revisited. The dragons article was expanded in the Campaign Setting Dragons Revisited.
The original APs remain the only source for the religion articles.
19. The Young Elf's Collection of Human Tales
17. The Official History of the Great and Prosperous Land of Thel-Grahlnath
However, neither the PCs nor any sages that are consulted have never heard of the land of Thel-Grahlnath or any of the other lands mentioned in the text. None of the maps remotely resemble any areas of the known world. None of the great heroes, gods, or leaders mentioned in the text have any other mention in any other historical text known to any experts.
Whether the text is an actual history of a real place that exists somewhere else (e.g. on the other side of the world, on another plane, in a distant time, on a far-flung planet, or in alternate dimension), or whether it's highly-detailed fantasy from the mind of the author is for the GM to determine and the PCs to puzzle over.
Regardless of its veracity, the tome is worth 1,000 gp to the right collector as a curiosity.
Well, just being in physical possession of the deed to a piece of real estate doesn't mean that you actually hold title to that real estate. Legally, the Brothers of Seven hold title (due to Vorel's contract with them) although with the destruction of that group by the PCs, that clause in the deed would be moot, and title should pass to Foxglove's next of kin.
I ruled that Aldern's sisters Sendeli and Zeeva now are the legal owners, and that they both live in Korvosa. My PCs asked Mayor Deverin to send word to them about their property.
Back to the OP...
The Pathfinder version of Slender Man is Thin Man.
I like the earlier poster's suggestion of using a Gray Jester from Heroes of Horror, and its Bleak Ones thralls as the Black Eyed Kids. (My Web-Fu failed me-- I can't find stats for the monster on the net. It'd not open content in any event.)
You could re-skin the Gray Jester and Bleak Ones as the Slender Man and BEKs...
That would be creepy!
While I do appreciate a "morality play" type of session now and again, I completely abhor presenting the players of paladins with no-win situations. Yes, the goblin babies in my version of events had already been conditioned into goblin society, and were already dangerous monsters. That said, I gave the PCs (especially the paladin and cleric) extra XPs as a reward for the attempt at redeeming the creatures, and for taking pity on them.
I hold that goblins, orcs, kobolds, and other humanoids that are statted up with an Evil alignment are actually evil by nature, regardless of upbringing. That doesn't mean that there aren't a few exceptional individuals that aren't evil, but they're extremely rare cases that have exceptional stories.
And, simply having an evil alignment is never sufficient justification for a good creature to just up and kill it!
So, the mystic theurge convinced a bunch of half-dead slaves that he's going to lead them to freedom, and instead led them into a chamber filled with poisonous gas that killed them all?
With all due respect to Godwin's Law, this guy deliberately used guile to lead a bunch of unsuspecting people into a gas chamber, which he knew would kill them. And he then lied to his friends to cover it up.
In my opinion, this is a textbook example of an evil act. He convinced people he was leading them to freedom, and instead led them to slaughter. It doesn't matter if the people themselves were evil. They were mostly helpless, they trusted this guy to rescue them, and then he betrayed them and murdered them all.
If I were the GM, I'd invoke an immediate involuntary alignment change.
As a cleric of Nethys, a Neutral deity that's mainly concerned with magic, becoming evil isn't going to affect him all that much. I would, however, change this character's affinity from positive energy to negative energy: meaning he now channels negative energy and spontaneously casts inflict spells.
To side-step the whole philisophical discussion, let me share how I handled this at my table...
All of the PCs (six at the time) were good, and the party included a cleric of Sarenrae and a paladin of Iomedae.
When the PCs found the goblin nursery, there were six goblin babies in their "cribs"... which were actually wire dog cages lined with filthy straw. All of the six goblin babies buried themselves in the straw when they heard the door open, but since they only had a +3 on their Hide skill, the PCs saw them. After tossing them a little food, the babies all pounced on what was offered, and I described them as brutally fighting each other: hissing, growing, biting, and scratching like wild beasts.
The PCs had the same discussion that the OP's party had: The cleric and paladin suggested that they come back for the baby goblins later, bring them to Sandpoint, and see if Turandok Academy would be willing to take them in as orphans. The barbarian, ranger, and wizard all argued against this: that goblins were unpredictable murderous pyromaniacs by nature, and should be humanely destroyed. (The rogue didn't have much of an opinion.) After an hour of real-world back-and-forth, the party decided to take thte advice of the divine PCs, and came back for them later.
I figured that baby goblins would mature very quicky-- almost like puppies-- and that two-month-old goblin babies would probably be the equivalent of an 18-month-old human child in terms of general ability to grab, bite, squirm, and move quickly. The book says that goblins deliberately raise their young in terrible conditions "so as to toughen them up," and I figured that they had already been fairly "well-socialized" in goblin society.
When the PCs came back after clearing out the dungeon, they found the goblin babies fighting each other again. When the paladin opened up the cage and reached in to pick them up, all six of the babies attacked, clawing and biting the paladin, doing a fair amount of damage. (Having worked in an animal shelter when I was young, I'd seen this happen with feral cats vs. naive volunteers.) After removing them from the cage, all of the babies squirmed, struggled, clawed, and bit to get away from the humans-- except for the two that climed into the paladin's backpack and found the bag of rations, which they tore open, half devoured, and then fought each other for the scraps-- while in the paladin's backpack.
The paladin and other PCs attempted to restrain the baby goblins. I treated this as a grapple check vs. the goblin babies' Escape Artist skill (which was pretty high), and even though they were size Tiny, is was six-on-one, and three got away and ran back into the dungeon to hide. The rest continued to squirm and growl as the PCs attempted to swaddle them. Once swaddled, they calmed down... but fixed the PCs with a baleful gaze and grinned a smile with wicked-looking teeth.
After searching for a while, the PCs gave up looking for the three escaped babies. In Nettlewood, while heading back to the Lost Coast Road, the baby goblins started wailing and crying. Figuring that they were hungry, the PCs attempted to give them some food... and were savagely bitten again. They then attempted to escape, and two more made their Escape Artist checks and ran into the woods. The PCs didn't bother chasing them at all. The last one calmed down and grinned again. It looked at the paladin, grinning, and licked its lips.
The paladin then remarked that this had not been a very good idea. The barbarian said, "Told you so." The paladin decided that these goblin babies were far more capable than she had figured originally, and that there was no way the Academy would take in such a creature. They then let it go. The goblin stuck out its tongue and disappeared into the woods.
TL;DR: The goblin babies were far more capable than the PCs bargained for. The players thought the encounter was going to be a deep moral dilemma, while I played it as black comedy. The goblins won.
My heart goes out to everyone involved. I'm originally a New Englander myself, and have spent a lot of time in Boston. When I heard, it was like a punch in the gut. I can picture the location perfectly-- I've been there scores of times.
I've never been to the Marathon, but I have been to many of Boston's other massive street parties, like First Night and the Fourth of July. (And when the Sox won the Series in '04.) I was last there in January. Heck, I still have a Charlie Card in my wallet.
As much as I hate to say it, willing to be at risk of random violence is part of the price of living in an open society. I don't want to live in a police state, where people cannot gather in big jubilant crowds. The shock of a terrorist attack is truly chilling, but your danger of serious injury is still highest when you're driving at 70 mph on the highway.
I'll be at First Night in Boston again next December. And I'll bring my wife and kid. Because you can't live your life in fear. If you start to, the bad guys win.
Well, in my home game, I've ruled that you can only lower one score below 10, and your final scores after racial modifiers can't go lower than 8 or higher than 18. We use 15-point buy.
Point-buy is part of the constraints of the system. I have no complaints from the players in my game. Honestly, my players tend not to min-max, so all the PCs have fairly well-rounded stats.
Background and personality are, frankly, more important than stats in my games anyway. But my group likes to emphasize role playing over combat. We've gone five sessions without a fight in the past. But that's more a question of play style than rules.
Run what works best for your table.
Not as a GM, but I have as a player.
Shortly after D&D 3.0 came out, our three-year-long GURPS "Modern Conspiracy" game came to its conclusion when our team of psi-endowed US Marshals allied with a coven of vampires to prevent the Bavarian Illuminati from helping a group of extraterrestrials summon Hastur the Unspeakable in Central Park. (New York City was to be Hastur's blood sacrifice, you see.) It was amazing.
It had been a bunch of years since we'd played D&D, and we decided to try out this new major revision of the rules. Plus, we though the whole OGL concept was pretty cool!
Anyway, one of the players deicded to GM a campaign loosely based on Discworld that he'd been thinking about for a long time. So after two months of playing one-shots and miniatures wargaming, we started campaigning in his homebrewed world of Splendaria.
That campaign went for about a year-and-a-half. It was partly episodic, and partly story-arced, but eventually we found the plot and ran it through the in-world equivalent of Ragnarok.
Fast-forward ten years.
Our group's make-up had changed over the intervening decade, and when our Amber DRPG game fizzled out (due to getting too cosmically weird), we started up a new D&D 3.5 game. After another GM ran his homebrew game for six months, some stuff in his personal life intervened, preventing him from devoting the time needed to run a game. So the Splendaria GM said he'd be willing to run a different game set in Splendaria.
This time, we played members of the King's Guard, and were sent on missions for the Crown. It took us a few months to realize that the events of the previous Splendaria game were mostly happening in the background, and that the old PCs from that game were active NPCs in this one. There were three adventures in which our PCs ended up interacting with the NPCs from the previous game-- in each of which the PCs of this game took the role that had been played by NPCs in the earlier game. We ended up getting to Ragnarok again, this time doing some very important things that had happened in the background of the earlier game.
Of course, only two players actually played through both games, but we caught all of the references! It's a lot of fun to play off a GM's interpretattion of an NPC that had been your PC ten years earlier!
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
..or both simultaneously until you open the bag to collapse the waveform.
I agree wholeheartedly.
A decade or so ago, I helped play-test a homebrewed miniatures wargame called Bandits & Heroes that had a mechanic where weapons and armor were damaged by combat. Part of the tactical decision was wehter or not any given fight would be econimically worthwhile. In other words... Would the treasure gained be enough to cover the repairs to armor and weapons that would be the result of the fight?
Ultimately, my feedback after several sessions was that this mechanic, while adding verisimilitude, made the game less fun. You had to do a cost-benefit analysis based on insufficient data before every battle.
(The fighting part of the game was actually pretty good, and overall, I liked it. I know that it was published briefly, but the publisher went out of business not long after. I've never actually seen a professionally-produced copy of the rules.)
I think the PFRPG abstraction gets it right.
Whenever I start a new campaign, I always write up and distribute a "Campaign Players Guide," that sets the expectations of the kind of game I'm planning to run. The guide always includes:
* A short synopsis of the themes that will be encountered (e.g. "An urban campaign with heavy political intrigue and strong horror elements. Undead will likely play a big role;" or "A globe-spanning 'collect the artifacts' campaign with long overland journeys through forests, deserts, and mountains. Connections with the First World will be an important story element.")
* A brief summary of where the campaign will start, so as to give the players a reason to have the PCs be there. (e.g. We are playing in Golarion, the official Pathfinder campaign world. We are starting in Sandpoint, a peaceful coastal town under the protection of the city of Magnimar, 50 miles to the southwest. Your characters are in town for a big annual autum holiday.)
* What books are allowed (e.g. Core Rulebook, plus Feats, Archetypes, and Equipment from the Advanced Players Guide. Other rules from APG and other books are not allowed.)
* Which optional rules are in play (e.g. Character Traits: You may select from the sample traits from the APG, plus the following...; We are using the additional Combat Maneuvers from the APG; We are NOT using Hero Points.)
* Any home rules in play (e.g. 10' Reach Weapons: This campaign will be using the 3.5 rule for reach weapons: the second diagonal counts as a threatened square, even though it's normally considered to be 15 feet of movement.)
I like to hand out the players guide a week or so before I run "Session 0." In "Session 0," the players and I get together to work through PC design, background, answer questions about the campaign world, and generally get the group ready to start playing the actual game the following week.
The reason I like to run a Session 0 is to help the players put together a well-balanced party, and to be there to answer questions about character background. I like to know a bit about the chacters' backgrounds before I start running so that I can run plotlines that include the PCs backgrounds as part of the story.
The magic items suggested on this thread so far thematically appropriate, but are IMHO too powerful to be left in unattended wayside shrines. The vast majority of travelers who would stop at such shrines would be non-adventurers: pilgrims, merchants, farmers bringing grain to market, etc.
Some mundane equipment would be appropriate: rope, dry clothing, preserved rations, firewood, shoes, healers kits, blankets, etc. Maybe a low-level potion or two: cure light wounds, endure elements, aid, etc. These would be in a hidden compartment somewhere (with clues to the faithful).