I look at the Assassin prestige class as primarily falling under NPC category. There is plenty of content in the CRB that is geared towards the GM - it's what happens when you combine a Player's Handbook and a Dungeon Masters Guide into one book.
As far as the good/evil thing goes, I look at the PrC as fulfilling an archetype from popular culture: the remorseless killer for hire. If one of my players wanted to play a more wholesome assassin (like Thane from Mass Effect), I would direct them towards the Rogue class. You can make a pretty decent assassin simply by using a straight rogue build.
Multiplying T-Rex Skeleton, huh? I like it!
One thing I'm going to have to resolve by this Thursday is how the PCs are going to get the very cool information out of Vrood's head. They previously encountered the ghost in the tavern and attacked him during his suicide ritual. Apparently they thought it was a haunt. I think I'm going to have one of the Prince's Wolves suggest bringing Auren's head to the ghost, setting up that the Wolves met it during their time in Feldgrau. 'Course the PCs are going to have to try to convince a pissed-off spirit to help 'em...
So the party finally finished off Broken Moon last night, though it took me a little bit of adventure re-design. They had been going from house to house in Feldgrau for a while now, and were really getting tired of slogging it out. So for this session I just decided to bring everything to a head.
The session started as the characters were leaving location F10, running right into Adimarus and 4 of his Demon Wolf Marauders. At this point the party had already killed Duristan and were plenty pissed at the Demon Wolves for turning the annoying, yet endearing nobleman. The fight was on, and in the early going Adimarus' dual smites were really doing a number on the cleric. Then in round 3, five Prince's Wolves showed up to assist. Since there are five people in the party, I simply handed them each a copy of the werewolves' stats and let them run 'em.
Needless to say, the Demon Wolves quickly fell under the combined strength of the PCs and the Prince's Wolves. But before the heroes could get too much of a breather, the Whispering Way arrived. Auren Vrood, Acrietia, a Whispering Way Curate, and 20 zombies and skeletons assaulted the party and their lycanthropic allies. It was a VERY tough fight, especially when Vrood flew into the air and dropped a cloudkill on the battlefield. After several of the Prince's Wolves were killed instantly, the party REALLY got worried.
Still, they were able to overcome the odds. The undead were pretty much decimated by a holy smite from the cleric; Vrood's cloudkill took out the Curate; Acrietia was decimated by the fighter; and Vrood himself failed his will save vs the sorceress' spectral hand-delivered ghoul touch, allowing the pcs to lasso him, drag him to the ground, and get some well-earned vengeance on the man who killed Lorrimar.
Even while grappled by a giant crawling hand, the sorceress was STILL able to make her concentration check to cast.
Giving a caster PC a melee character to control seemed to make them very happy.
The PCs got a laugh out of my "angry cloud" template I made with gaming paper for the cloudkill spell.
Dueling vampiric touches delivered by spectral hands: I love it when necromancers fight!
We're just about to wrap up Broken Moon and the party is definitely in an interesting place. The Alchemist has been afflicted with lycanthropy and has decided to keep the affliction to explore a new avenue for his character goal of "perfecting himself." He's also a master chymist, so that means he'll have three different personalities rattling around in his head. Good thing I read a lot of Hulk comics back in the 90s...
Our Undead-Bloodline sorceress is also getting into full-on animate dead mode, seeing as the whispering way was kind enough to give their members plenty of onyx gemstones. I tell ya, quickly applying the skeletal template to the werewolves she's animating (after undoing the hybrid and/or raging stats) is really getting interesting.
Well, even on Earth people sometimes overcame the Mythos monsters. But the Great Old Ones and the Outer Gods are, like the other deities of Golarion, stat-less, and therefore mortals ARE still insignificant compared to them.
Fair point. But it's the struggle against them that makes for good heroism.
I have no problem with the prevalence of Mythos monsters in the Golarion setting. They simply represent another interesting foe to be overcome. Granted, the fact that they can be faced down with blade and spell may seem at odds with the nihilistic certainty of their victory that's found in Lovecraft's writings. But consider: in much horror fiction a similar amount of danger and menace are assigned to vampires, werewolves and demons. Yet these are things that Pathfinder heroes regularly confront and overcome.
Perhaps in Lovecraft's Earth there are no forces powerful enough to give the Elder God's pause. In that world, the humans are truly insignificant and when the Stars Are Right they will be blotted out without notice.
On Golarion, things are different. On Golarion, mortals go up to 11!
And if that's not to your liking, if you feel that the Mythos monsters have absolutely no place in an epic fantasy setting...don't use 'em.
If it's something the players are continually exploiting, have the efreet plot to kill these pesky mortals. Maybe he calls in some allies to help him out. Maybe he's the vassal of a Malik who doesn't appreciate his underling being pulled away all the time.
And of course, you could always twist the wishes into harmful consequences. Popular culture is rife with examples (see Wishmaster. Or don't: it wasn't a particularly good movie.)
Besides if you think that Golarion's Cosmology is crapsack, I invite you to spend some time in the universe of Warhammer, either Fantasy or 40k.
I hear that. Warhammer certainly wins it in the "dark and gritty" category.
Like others above, I don't mind there being more evil represented in the Bestiaries then good. All of the games I'm currently involved in consist of (mostly) good PCs, so an abundance of evil keeps things fresh. As long as there are stalwart heroes willing to stand up and fight them, I don't see the forces of Evil winning out any time soon. At least not in my games...
Our group uses Obsidian Portal. Our GM insists that we keep our character's stats updated on the site, as it allows him to better prepare encounters for us. He even adds a small XP award for faithful updating as an incentive.
One nice thing with Obsidian Portal is that it has a Pathfinder character sheet that allows you to fill in the fields. While it doesn't have automatic calculations, it does present the stats in a recognizable format.
Sure, it doesn't have the same functionality as Hero Lab. But it is free.
Kytons aren't devils, but I want to give them more of a Silent Hill design motif. The art in Bestiary 3 takes it part of the way there, not far enough in my opinion. A augur's cage should be smaller, and a bit more open, blades clearly both on the inside and out.
Interesting approach. I went the obvious route and view Kytons as being the Pathfinder version of the Cenobites from the Hellraiser franchise. Even before the new ones appeared in Bestiary III, I described each Kyton as being unique in appearance, with all sorts of flavorful mutilations.
The N'gathau from the Tome of Horrors serve as decent cenobite surrogates as well.
I'm waiting on a ruling from my GM on this matter. My current Master of Many Styles Monk is something of an evasion tank: use a combination of total defense, Crane Wing, and Snake Style to not be hit and rely on my heavier-hitting allies to drop the enemies. I'm hoping he rules that Crane Riposte can be used in total defense, since I'd like to have an offensive option while still maintaining my maximum level of defense.
If a couple people are ahead ("optimized" or gear heavy) of others, why not treat them as 1 or 2 levels higher than they are and just let the APL mechanic take over? Things are slightly harder for the less ahead members and a tad easy for the "higher" ones and the lesser players will catch up while the greater ones won't advance as fast. This should help things level out again. Maybe put in an item here and there specifically for the "behind" characters to help them catch up in these more difficult fights would help them feel special as well.
A fine option as well.
The thing I have found with running games is the fact that usually when you have 1 or two people that are optimized the rest of the party needs to be as well because what it takes to challenge those players can out right kill the others if you aren't careful.
True, that does take a bit of special attention. In the event that that occurs (and it has popped up from time to time in my games) I try to tailor one or two of the threats specifically for the optimized players, while providing the less powerful PCs their own threats to overcome.
To draw an example from popular culture, it's like the climactic fight in The 13th Warrior: Buliwyf squares off against the leader of the Wendol, while the rest of the party faces the horde.
shallowsoul: To me it didn't feel like extra work. Even without these sorts of magical items, I still would be putting in the same amount of effort into encounter design. I just view it as part of the job and the joy of being a GM. Job, because it takes work. Joy, because I find it very fun putting in that kind of work.
And I don't even mind them having all those magical items. To me, it helps enforce the high fantasy setting I find appealing. In fact, giving over the reigns of item creation largely to my players has lessened the worry about me generating cool stuff for the group. They have their own Q, and he relishes the role.
Now of course this isn't to everyone's taste. Folks are going to want to run a game that fits best with their sensibilities. I just hope to illustrate that some GMs can have fun with the crafting system as is. The only investment it requires is time and planning, something that every GM should consider an essential part of their job.
I used to have a problem with the ease of magic item creation in Pathfinder. Maybe it was coming from groups that were wary of the XP cost in 3rd edition (which I believe was pointed out somewhere to be negligible in the long run, but whatever), but it was fairly rare to have one of my players want to craft something. Once Pathfinder came around and the XP cost was dropped I had a player get very enthusiastic about playing a crafter.
I resisted, feeling that the influx of magic items would unbalance the game. I kept the pace of the story up so as not to allow him downtime to craft. I raised the DCs of the checks, and made the requirements immutable (i.e. if you weren't a cleric you couldn't make cleric items). Ultimately this led to the player getting irritated, to the point that he purposefully retired his wizard because he felt I was going out of my way to "gimp" his character. Which, let's be honest, I was.
I took his complaints to heart, and since then I've been running craft RAW and letting the party plenty of downtime between adventures. Sure, it has led to a few overpowered PCs since I'm not as strict with WBL as I should be.
But here's the thing: most magic items that the PCs are interested in acquiring (weapons, stat-increasing items, etc) provide a fixed numerical bonus. Since I have my players provide me with digital copies of their character sheets on Obsidian Portal, I have an exact idea of what they are capable of. I can then use those numbers to craft encounters tailored to their approximate power level rather than their APL. Most importantly, I can run the encounter ahead of time on my own before the game. If it's too easy, I can beef it up. Too difficult? Tone it down. And of course I can adjust the encounter on the fly while the PCs are actually playing it, by raising or lowering HP of the enemies or fudging rolls.
I think the most important thing to recognize, as a GM, is that the power to create an appropriate encounter is ENTIRELY in your hands. Feel the PCs are too powerful? Give them more powerful enemies! The current CR system is a great guideline for encounter design, but it should only be viewed as that: a guideline. It is the responsibility of the GM to create interesting challenges for the PCs, and provide them with a game they want to keep playing.
Eh, you could still pull off a monk with those stats. 18 in Wis, 12 in dex, and the 11 in str. If you play a human, half-elf or half-orc you can bump one of those lower stats. You may not be Bruce Lee, but you could pull it off.
Our group usually uses 4d6, re-roll 1s, drop the lowest. Though the most recent group I'm in has used a 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 10 array.
Crane would let you, snake would not. Because Crane style specifically works when using full defense. In any case, throwing away all your actions for +6ish AC and a single attack per round seems like a bad idea to me...
It's been working well for my master of many styles monk. The combination of the increased AC from full defense (+7 for crane style and having more than three ranks in Acrobatics), the automatic converting a melee hit into a miss with Crane Wing, and the option to use my Sense Motive check as my AC for an attack with Snake Style (+12 mod currently) has made me a pretty decent evasion tank. I get the enemies to focus on me and let the heavy hitters of the party bring the pain. Good synergy so far. I haven't picked up Crane Ripost yet, but it'll allow me to make some attacks without compromising my defensive strategy.
I was transferring the chymic works map to my game mat yesterday and I ran into the same thought. In the end, I decided that Vorkstag and Grime simply walk over the vats when they want to leave the works. Their Acrobatics checks are high enough that they won't need to roll, so it must be exceedingly easy for them. Plus it allows them the opportunity to harangue the mongrelmen working the vats.
Honestly, I don't expect most of my group to notice the peculiar layout of the Works, with the exception of the Alchemist player. He inspects power plants for safety and compliance for a living, so he'll probably have a few choice critiques on V&G's workplace safety priorities. The fact that he can do so in-character is just gravy.
I like that approach, especially since the alchemist in my group has made it a point to prove to the wizard and cleric that science is more than an equal to traditional magic.
I can see that, but if you're devoting all of your attention to defense shouldn't you get a bonus from a weapon that is particularly good at defending?
And that's what first got me thinking about this. So far no one I've talked to can account for why this bonus does not also extend to full defense. Unfortunately, my GM is going pure RAW so I'll have to wait to see if this gets an errata down the line.
I think that house rule would make for a good compromise. Cheers.
I have some questions about blocking weapons:
The blocking description says you gain the shield bonus while fighting defensively. Any reason why you shouldn't also gain the shield bonus while taking full defense?
If fighting defensively and making multiple attacks, does each attack have to be made with the blocking weapon in order to gain the shield bonus (ex. can a monk mix in some unarmed strikes)?