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Mad Scientist

Jhaeman's page

Starfinder Charter Superscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 368 posts. 80 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 Pathfinder Society characters.


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Just announce you're keeping notes for a project to improve the game, and when you ask for rolls (Initiative, attack rolls, etc.) tell the players you want to hear the actual die roll and then the modified result. Keep notes for a few sessions. If it turns out one player is consistently rolling above average on the unmodified d20, tell that person they are either cheating or have a problem die.

Honestly, from your description, the dude is almost certainly cheating. The issue is whether or not you want to create a major interpersonal issue. I would because that sort of behavior is obnoxious and unfair to the other players, but it's your home and you have to make the decision.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Session # 27 Recap:
[7 Neth 4707 continued]

Inside the ominous confines of Foxglove Manor, the adventurers pause to let a disturbing revelation sink in: with the sun setting and thousands of skeletal ravens outside, they may have to spend the night in the house! Artemis is especially concerned and even raises the idea of mounting the horses and making a run for it. Bey and Briza, however, are more inclined to risk staying. The discussion continues for some time, but an even more pressing concern exists: what to do about Arnald, now securely bound, who remains convinced he is Kasandra Foxglove! After raising and discarding various plans, the adventurers finally settle on trusting in a particular incantation revealed to Bey during her last mystery-trance: a spell to hide the group from undead. The plan is for Bey to mystically shield the adventurers from the gaze of the undead ravens so that she and Arnald can step outside to see if fulfilling the object of “Kasandra’s” desire ends the spiritual possession. The group decides, however, that the experiment shouldn’t be made at the front door but at the other entrance noticed on their approach to The Misgivings.

Briza shoulders open a door to a hallway and notices a pile of dead flies in a dusty corner. As she watches, some of them twitch and then their wings start to move, and they lazily wind their way into the air! The group is worried enough that Kang decides to deal with the problem in a startling way: he takes a small vial from his belt, shakes it, and hurls it into the hallway. Suddenly a large blast of green flame shakes the house! The flies are disintegrated, but the horses, still tethered nearby in the entrance hall, begin to buck and kick. Fortunately, no one is hurt and the horses are eventually calmed down.

A door on the opposite side of the hallway leads to an oak-panelled chamber that, once upon a time, must have been a beautiful oak-panelled parlour for entertaining guests. But the warped floorboards, mold-covered panelling, and long-dormant grand piano in the corner testify to how difficult it would be to restore Foxglove Manor to its former glories. The explorers feel a brief, gut-wrenching sensation of impending apocalypse as Bey draws upon her mysterious powers to shield them from the animate dead, and they put their plan into motion. It works perfectly: the creatures outside see the outer door being opened, but are unable to detect the presence of Arnald and Bey. Arnald immediately comes to his senses, and, once back safely inside, is set free of his restraints.

With at least that problem solved, the adventurers hurry to continue their explorations before night truly falls. They continue down the hallway and, behind Briza’s strong shoulder, burst into a simple washroom. Strange, furtive scratching sounds can be heard coming from an ancient metal washtub in the room, but no one is anxious to see what’s causing it. The adventurers shut the door and agree to head for the basement since “Kasandra”, while seemingly possessing Arnald, was worried about her husband Vorel’s activities there. As they cross the entrance hall and check on the mounts, the subject of past encounters with horrific sights arises. Without hesitation, Kang shares that he once turned someone inside out. From the looks the others give him, they’re not sure whether or not he’s joking. The fact that he continually refers to Briza as his “assistant” lends support to the notion that he’s certainly an unusual addition to the group. For his part, Artemis talks about once seeing someone trapped in a burning building, and how the memory continues to haunt him to this day.

The stairs to the basement lead to a large kitchen dominated by a massive oaken table, its surface covered with mold and rat droppings. An oversized fireplace, cupboards, and shelves line the walls, but Briza notices wide cracks in one wall near the floor. The adventurers discuss what could have caused the cracks and soon hear the swelling sound of squeaking getting louder and louder. Suddenly, from out of the cracks, hundreds of oily, diseased looking rats pour out! Kang reacts instantly, however, tossing another explosive vial that decimates most of the swarm! Artemis cleans up the few survivors with his archery skills. Although the air is pungent with the sickening smell of smouldering rat corpses, no one was hurt in the sudden eruption of violence.

The explorations continue. A room adjacent to the kitchen turns out to be servants’ quarters, while another doorway leads to a long hallway that winds around to stop at a strong, locked iron door. Artemis tries out a skeleton key he’d brought along for obstacles like this, and finds that it fits the lock perfectly! The door had barred access to what, in the eyes of anyone with a smattering of training in the area, was obviously once the personal workshop of a devotee of arcane spellcraft. A row of soggy books sits on one end of a long workbench, while, on the other end, are three iron birdcages each containing a dead, diseased-looking rat. Two stained-glass windows on one curved wall testify that the house was cleverly built to take advantage of being built on the edge of a cliff. One of the windows depicts a thin man with gaunt features drinking a foul-looking brew of green fluid, while the other shows the same man but in an advanced state of decay, as if dead for weeks, but also, somehow, simultaneously alive and exuberant in triumph.

Artemis examines the books and can tell they’re all on the forbidden art of necromancy. Arnald enters and scoops up one of the birdcages. Out of the corner of their eyes, Artemis and Briza notice that the figures in the glass seem to almost be moving and sneering at them. Artemis fires an arrow, shattering one of the windows. Briza runs for the hallway, but suddenly receives an overwhelming urge to examine the books on the workbench and rushes back into the room. She then freezes in place as visions pour through her mind. She experiences Vorel Foxglove’s quest to become immortal by existing beyond death in the blasphemous form of a lich. She witnesses him researching for years before finding a way; hiding his own soul away in a seven-sided box; and finally consuming a final concoction before double over in agony as his body begins to rot away. But then she experiences his burning rage that he’s been stopped before the ritual could be fully completed! And then she’s no longer Vorel, but someone who thought she loved him, filled with shame that someone she’s committed herself to could do something so unthinkable to himself. Briza starts to race out of the room, fully convinced she has to find her child and get out of the house before her husband can stop her!

The others rush out of the room and shut the door behind them, aware that the flapping of thousands of wings means the ghastly ravens have taken flight and are headed towards the broken window. Kang steps in front of Briza on the staircase to the main floor, intending to try to calm her down, but she thinks he’s Vorel Foxglove and lashes out with her greatsword! Kang staggers out of her way, bleeding. Someone shouts to stop Briza before she can hurt herself, so Artemis tries to trip her but fails and narrowly avoids losing his head from the return strike. Briza is by far the fastest member of the group, and she takes the stairs two at a time until she reaches the main floor, and then she races up to the second floor. She rounds a corner and chops down the door to a mold-infested bedroom none of the adventurers have been in before.

For a brief moment, Briza is herself again—she realizes there is no child here, and that she’s been under the effect of some kind of delusion. But then she hears a child’s voice, quivering with fear, asking her “What’s on your face, mommy?” Briza can feel her face erupt in a tangled mass of tumours and boils and can’t help but claw at herself. When the others arrive, they see only the damage that Briza is doing by literally clawing the skin off her own face! Kang instantly sets to work formulating an alchemical extract to partially repair the damage, while Arnald tries to pin Briza’s arms but is violently repulsed. Bey and Artemis try to reason with her, and Artemis seems to be getting through, when another sudden fit of hysteria leads to Briza collapsing entirely. Her face is in utter, disfiguring shambles and her hands are covered in her own blood and bits of flesh. Kang pours his special concoction down Briza’s throat, and she stirs. Between his and Bey’s spellcasting, much of the damage Briza has done to herself is repaired and she realizes just how strange she’d been acting.

Just a scant few hours within the walls of Foxglove Manor has brought terror and madness to the would-be saviours of Sandpoint. Although yet another crisis is over, night has truly fallen. Will the evils within The Misgivings become even stronger in the darkness?

Director's Commentary:
Another great session inside the very-haunted Foxglove Manor. I think the bit with the clouds of dead flies reanimating was something I added just for background effect, but seeing them blown up with an alchemist's bomb was fun. The use of hide from undead in order to get Arnald outside safely was quite clever, and worked perfectly.

The big sequence to end the session, with Briza getting possessed, racing (and fighting) past her allies to run upstairs, and then clawing her face off because it was "covered with mold" was fantastic. I couldn't have scripted it better, and I think it added to the memorable ghastliness of Foxglove Manor. Once again, the idea of "haunts" as a game concept were a great way to impart backstory without slowing the session to a crawl of exposition.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sinistrad, the vibe I'm getting here is this:

a) Everyone agrees with the general point that yes, the spells operating as they do is an overlooked legacy effect and that in the abstract, it would be good if they were updated.

b) Neither wizards nor clerics are exactly hurting for spells, so in the grand scheme of thing this isn't exactly a priority given the many other things people have been waiting for years to have resolved.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There's a very brief blurb in the back of Volume 2 of the hardcover comics compilation.

Wisher's Well:
"Aboveground, Wisher's Well is little more than ancient circular stone tower, 30 feet in height. Within, the tower's floors have long since crumbled away, leaving a 100' deep shaft at the tower's heart. Below, a deep pool of cold, dark water awaits any unfortunate enough to fall in. Drowning is a mercy to those who do so, though, for where this water begins, so do extensive and flooded dungeons that date back to Thassilonian times. A large number of skum and other aquatic humanoids dwell in these caves, and their croaking prayers to the 'Deep Ghost' can sometimes be heard by those who listen hard at the entrance far above."

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
TwilightKnight wrote:
one set (of the three) is shorted one card (invisible/Incorporeal).

You just didn't realize it was there because you couldn't see it or touch it.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Starfinder is not the first ever science-fiction game, so this idea that the sources of wealth have to be kept completely separate is an illusory one. State that the wealth-by-level chart assumes (for example) that everyone spends 25% on upgrading/buying starships. SFS assumes that (and lowers rewards accordingly), and home groups, who are adults, are left to work out whether they want to spend more or less. Everyone spends all their money on awesome personal gear? Then you're screwed on your first space battle. Spend all your money on the best starship ever? You better not leave it (ever), because then you're dead. Groups would figure out a reasonable balance, and if they didn't, they'd TPK and get a chance to try again.

[Edited to make my point clearer and remove oddly-antagonistic first line. Woke up from nap grumpy!]

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

10. Social Skills & PCs: Social skills (Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate, and Sense Motive) are not usable on PCs by other PCs. Instead, effects that would normally rely upon these skills are resolved purely through role-playing.

PRO: This is a rule that, although not stated explicitly in the Core Rulebook, is one often adopted implicitly by players. The reason for this rule is that one of the most important things in a role-playing game is player agency: no one should decide how a character responds to a situation other than the character’s player. Thus, barring some unusual (a magical spell like Dominate Person) for example, the way PCs interact with each should be totally a role-playing decision. A character with a high Diplomacy modifier can’t suddenly became the group’s favourite by rolling the skill on everyone, and neither can a PC force a PC to be afraid simply by rolling a good Intimidate check. These sorts of things go to the core of a character’s personality, and thus should always be in the control of the players. As a caveat, it’s perfect legitimate (and an excellent idea) for a player to take into account his character’s modifiers in a relevant skill during role-playing, such as looking incredibly shifty while lying if the character has a bad Bluff skill, or believing everything another PC says if their own character has a low Sense Motive skill.

CON: I have to admit, I’ve never been in a game where this rule hasn’t been observed and I don’t know what it would look like. I suppose one benefit would be that it helps poor role-players remember that their characters might like another PC even if they don’t, or that their character might believe a lie even if the player knows it’s false.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

9. Automatic Skill Failure: On a result of a natural “1” on a skill check, the attempt automatically fails.

PRO: If I could only implement one of the fifty house rules in this collection, this would probably be the one. The reason I like the rule that skills checks fail on a natural 1 is that they can add an element of drama and excitement even when PCs are high-level or have over-specialized in a skill. Your PC has 15 ranks in Stealth, a Dexterity mod of +5, and Skill Focus: Stealth? There’s still a 5% of failure on your attempt to duck into the foliage to avoid the guards hunting you. Players can avoid even this chance of failure in situations where they can Take 10 on a skill check, but they can’t Take 10 when they’re threatened or distracted: and that’s exactly the sort of time where a risk of failure, even a small one, adds excitement to a roll. Of course, the rule applies to monsters and NPCs as well, so players can be beneficiaries of the natural 1.

CON: As with critical fumbles, some players can’t bear the thought that their precious PCs could fail something they’ve invested a lot of effort to get good at. They’ll probably say “if all trapeze artists failed their Acrobatics checks 5% of the time, they’d all be dead!” or something similar.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

My understanding from some previous threads was that the original (single book) boons could be applied to more than one character, and that the usual protocol was to have a GM verify that you have the book, fill out a Chronicle for it, and then the player could photocopy that and apply it to multiple characters.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Engineering checks with no kit: -2 penalty

Engineering checks with Tool kit: +0

Engineering checks with Tool Kit (Engineering Speciality): +2 bonus

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I interpreted it to mean that you get the reputation when you apply the Chronicle to a character you create--that character will always have a faction.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
NeoTiamat wrote:

So, the author of this adventure, Eleanor Ferron, is also an artist of no small skill, and she's done a bunch of portraits for the characters in the adventure. Entirely unofficial, but something that others might find useful:

Commencement Portraits

Those are fantastic! I really want to see some of those characters appear again in a future scenario.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Well, you don't need to worry about followers/companions, just the PCs themselves. Unless you have a great disparity in their levels (which creates its own problems for adventuring), just go with the overall average of regular and semi-regular PCs and gradually move up the ship tier as the overall group slowly levels up.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sorry, I'm still confused. So the consensus answer is?

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I admit I was really surprised coming into Pathfinder and finding the omnipresence of cheap wands of cure light wounds. I may be misremembering, but I played a lot of Second Edition D&D and I think it was *much* harder to heal unless you had a Cleric--and, of course, a Cleric's spells were soon exhausted. (I'm not sure if maybe wands were for arcane spells only?) It was a different experience than the "scratch another charge off the 50 charge wand and away we go" thing that Pathfinder sometimes has.

On the other hand, I find at higher levels of play that hit point damage isn't that big of deal--it's the burden of ability score damage, ability score drain, negative levels, and the like which can be the deciding factor in whether a group presses on or retreats.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The bottom line is that because of the artificial distinction between character wealth and the starship tier system, there's no real mechanical advantage to things like salvage, piracy, ship theft, etc. I don't like it, but I think that's just how it is in Starfinder.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

In regards to the equipment listed on the Chronicle (the normal stuff, not anything boon-related), do you guys make out "if-then" lists like the one below or is there a better way to track what should be crossed out? Here's what I've done as a reminder for my personal notes, but it's time-consuming to put it together and I'm not sure if I'm handling the concept correctly.

the PCs are able to purchase the equipment listed, unless: a) they did not complete Mission # 3 (cross out “basic iridishell” and “incendiary grenade”); b) they did not buy an extra album for Zigvigix (cross out “charge cloak”); c) they did not overcome the corporate gangers (cross out “flight suit stationwear” and “pulsecaster pistol”); d) they did not complete Mission # 2 (cross out “standard datajack”); e) they did not succeed in either aspect of faking Ceren’s death (cross out “frostbite-class zero rifle”); f) Laboni did not win the race (cross out “graphite carbon skin armor”); f) the PCs did not rescue Kieu’s children (cross out “mk 1 ring of resistance”).

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

More random thoughts:

I really like the warehouse map in "Not-Quite-Abandoned Warehouse." If it were a flip-mat, I would buy it.

For the Sense Motive check to realize the kids are hiding something (they set a trap), should I have everyone roll it after conversing with the kids, or only if a player specifically says they want to use the skill?

I've noticed that most of the scenario isn't as well-randomized as the PFS intro evergreen (The Confirmation), but I do like the tables provided for determining the harmless alien's appearance and motivation. I'll be curious to see how many groups just blast it to pieces before asking questions :)

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm not sure what I think about the depiction of the faction leaders. They certainly each have personality, which is important going forward and helps to make memorable NPCs. On the other hand, a couple of them are almost embarrassingly informal (verging on silly), and, perhaps apart from Historia-7, none seem particularly anxious or alarmed by the Scoured Stars incident which is supposed to be the big backdrop of the season--the PCs are getting sent out on some rather trivial tasks like winning a junk race or buying an album. Again, I might just have tastes for darker, edgier stories but to me this scenario is a bit overly "family friendly."

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Adder007USA wrote:

Just looking for clarification on something about this encounter as states that a DC 21 intimidate check can be used to interrupt the thugs. Does this imply that they collectively decide "NOT WORTH IT!" and we skip the combat entirely? Or does it mean they go on the offense immediately, instead of just trying to grab Ceren?

I'm assuming that if they flee, then just add their loot to the gift box after completing this task.

I'm interpreting it to mean that the thugs will back down and not attack if they're successfully Intimidated. The PCs will earn the rewards for successfully completing the encounter.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm just annoyed by the whole batteries/charges/recharging concept in general. It's the one thing that has made me less enthusiastic for Starfinder than I should be. I'm a detailed-oriented person and a stickler for things like encumbrance, but I just wish the devs had given this battery area a "rules-light" treatment. I just can't see the fun in tracking the minutiae. It's almost equivalent to a "shoe-leather" tracker that makes PCs buy new boots after x-number of days of walking--it'd be realistic, but I'm glad we don't do it.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

That's a good question! I just finished running the siege. I *really* wanted to draw the entire fort, but when I calculated the area it would cover I realized it would a) take ages to draw; b) take up a ton of paper; and c) never fit on my table. So I ended up just prepping the area around the two main gates for the initial attack, with full maps only of the interiors of the inner keep.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Session # 26 Recap:
[7 Neth 4707 continued]

The Varisians instantly jump to their feet and draw weapons as they hear shouts of “Help, they’re crazy” coming from within the wagon. Seeing the commotion, the adventurers jump to their feet as well. Inside the wagon, Bey tries to calm things down by telling Arnald to put down his axe because he’s scaring the old woman. Artemis is the first to arrive on the scene and shouts at Arnald to stand down. The unpredictable sellsword pretends to fall off the table and strike his head. His attempt to feign unconsciousness fools no one but Bey, but it does serve to keep violence from erupting. Bey and Artemis drag Arnald to their waiting horses, and the adventurers set off west, leaving the Varisians behind them looking angry and disgusted at their behaviour.

The path west along the northern banks of the Foxglove River grows increasingly overgrown with brambles. A chill wind begins to whistle as the path slowly rises and winds around rocky promontories and cliff faces. With one last sharp turn of the path, the adventurers’ destination comes into view all of sudden: Foxglove Manor looms at the western edge of a narrow outcropping overlooking the cold sea below. The house is clearly in a state of decay as the roof sags in many places, mold and mildew cake the crumbling walls, and vines of diseased-looking grey wisteria clamber over its crooked gables. The path leading to the manor splits off and heads about ten feet south to an outbuilding that now exists solely as a collection of sooty, scorched foundation stones. Just to the side of the ruins is a wide stone well, also partially collapsed. A small flock of ravens sitting on the stones fly off as the adventurers approach; Kang gets a good look at them, and realizes from their unnatural grace and scent of death that they’re no ordinary birds. The adventurers scout the ruins, and Artemis drops stones into the well to determine it’s at least 75 feet deep, and maybe as much as 125. Bey notices scuff marks in the ground near the well, and Artemis is able to confirm that bipedal humanoids have walked around the area in recent days. Fearing that something might be able to claw its way out of the well, Bey persuades Arnald to chop down some of the withered, diseased trees nearby to block the top of the well.

Knowing that the source of the ghouls that plague Sandpoint may lay inside Foxglove Manor, the adventurers gather their courage and approach. They decide to enter through the most obvious route, the front door. It takes Artemis several minutes to unlock it, but at last the door slowly opens with a creak. The interior is dark and gloomy, as little of the waning sun’s rays penetrate the grimy curtains covering all of the windows. With the help of torches, the explorers realize they’re in an aged and decaying entrance hall covered in mold. The walls are decorated with rotting taxidermied trophies of various successful hunts, but the feature which dominates the room is a massive, twelve-foot long preserved manticore corpse! Artemis catches a momentary whiff of burning hair and flesh, but the others smell only the damp. The group’s mounts are brought inside for safekeeping, and Artemis contrives a makeshift alarm system that should ring loudly if the front door is opened again.

The adventurers advance further into the entrance hall, noticing a staircase to the south and several closed doors swelled stuck from the moisture. A ratty throw rug partially obscures a foul spiral of dark-coloured mold in one part of the room; to most it is a random stain, but to Kang and Artemis it seems reminiscent of a spiralling staircase descending downwards, with each step littered with human skulls. The adventurers continue on into a large dining room dominated by a dusty mahogany table. One wall is covered in windows that should provide a breathtaking view of the Lost Coast, but instead the windows are made from stained glass and each of the five depict a monstrous creature pouring from a strange, seven-sided box. Kang’s ability to see perfectly even in the dimmest of light offers him the clearest view of the design, and he realizes that the images have something to do with the foul art of necromancy.

The adventurers decide to head back towards the front door in order to ascend the staircase, but, when they do, Artemis suddenly cries out in alarm and ducks! No one else sees anything unusual, but to him the taxidermied manticore burst into flame and its tail lashed out at him. Whether a real phenomenon or just his imagination, everything seems to return to normal. But, to be on the safe side, Artemis persuades Briza to chop off the manticore’s tail with her greatsword.

The intrepid explorers continue to the second floor of the house. Arnald chops down a stuck door creating an enormous amount of noise in the process, much to the dismay of the others. He finds another, smaller staircase heading back down to the main floor but swears he heard footsteps going down it. Everyone returns to the main floor, and Arnald breaks down another of the stuck doors to reveal a library. There are two chairs in front of a stone fireplace, but one of the chairs is on its side and splashed with blood. A red and gold scarf is draped over the side of the fallen chair. A broken stone bookend is nearby, and, when examined, turns out to be covered in blood, clots of hair, and bits of bone. Kang, Artemis, and Arnald notice that the scarf seems to be gently writhing, but when Kang goes up to investigate, he jumps back clutching his throat and strangling himself! He collapses and nearly dies before Artemis is able to wrench the tiefling’s hands away and Bey casts healing magic. Kang can’t explain his strange behaviour, other than to say that for a moment he believed he was a young Varisian woman being strangled to death with the scarf by an enraged nobleman. From Kang’s description, Bey recognizes the nobleman as Aldern Foxglove, the visitor from Magnimar she and her now-deceased allies saved months ago at the Swallowtail Festival. This house clearly holds dangers the likes of which the adventurers have never encountered before.

Arnald chops down yet another door and the adventurers see a lounge on the other side, its couches coated with dust and its windows caked with grime. From the doorway, Artemis and Kang hear a strange sound that might just be a trick of the wind outside, but could be someone whispering a name: “Lorey.” Artemis knows a bit of lore about Foxglove Manor and remembers that Lorey was the name of the daughter of the house’s original builders, Vorel and Kasandra Foxglove. Kang shouts for everyone to watch out, but Arnald is unable to heed the warning in time. He’s suddenly overcome with the delusion that he is, in fact, Kasandra Foxglove and that he has to save his daughter from a terrible threat by getting her out of the house as soon as possible! He rushes towards Bey and swoops her off her feet and tries to run for the front door. Bey is willing to let the delusion play out, but the others intervene. Briza jumps on Arnald’s back and manages to skilfully pin him in a wrestling hold, and Artemis kicks the sellsword repeatedly in the face in the hopes of knocking him unconscious without killing him. The subdued Arnald is bound in manacles, but he continues to persist in his delusion. Finally, the decision is made to see if it will end by taking him outside. Yet, when Artemis opens the front door, a horrifying sight awaits him: thousands upon thousands of undead ravens take to the air and fly towards the door! Fortunately, the trained guardsman reacts quickly and slams the door before they can enter the house. The pounding of the ghastly creatures sounds like hail hitting a tin roof and continues for several minutes.

Just what have these would-be protectors of Sandpoint gotten themselves into, and will they ever manage to leave the horrors of The Misgivings?

Director's Commentary:
Arnald's bizarre action at the end of the last session was followed by an equally bizarre action at the beginning of this session: pretending to faint (and rolling really badly on a Bluff check).

The PCs reach Foxglove Manor ("The Misgivings") this session and begin one of the best (in my opinion) sections of Chapter II of the adventure path. Foxglove Manor is a classic haunted house, but the one that it's been translated into an RPG is fantastic. The most important innovation is the introduction of "haunts", which are a little bit like mind-affecting traps. Each haunt comes with a story-based hallucination and they're cleverly designed to affect only certain PCs based on those PCs' personality characteristics. They're a little bit hard to explain, but they're a really effective way to deliver the backstory of the house in a personal, engaging way that's far better than the traditional "find a diary" method.

Using carrionstorms was another great idea by author Richard Pett. They don't threaten the PCs on the way into the house, but if the PCs try to leave they swoop mercilessly which adds to the "we're trapped" feeling often necessary for horror. Bey's player has a real-life phobia of birds, so I had to reassure her this element was scripted. The PCs were certainly terrified of them.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Dr.OGM wrote:


And by dot, I mean keep up the good work ! Extremely enjoyable read.
PS What classes were/are Nedrin, Arnald and Artemis ?

Thanks! It's great to hear that people are reading these.

As for the PCs,
Nedrin: Bloodrager (Crossblooded & Spelleater archetypes)
Arnald: Fighter (Two-handed archetype)
Artemis: Multiclass Fighter (Drill Sergeant)/Rogue (Scout & Sniper)

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Gajavi wrote:
First I would like to preface this with that I am new to organised play GMing (running first scenario this coming Tuesday). I have a few questions regarding a few encounters in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-00: Claim to Salvation.


a) Yes. All the Iconics have armor or clothes with environmental protection (I think), so this shouldn't actually be an issue.

b) Potentially. I did enforce the darkness rules, but the PCs had various forms of light (have them check their equipment lists carefully for flashlights, etc.) so it didn't become much of an issue.

c) I read the tactics section as saying that BorgoBago's preference would be to fight at ranged and cast spells, but if someone closes, then he'll happily fight at melee and cast spells. Attacks of opportunity could disrupt a spell if they hit, but some creatures are willing to take that chance. If an intelligent creature has a problem happen repeatedly though, you have the discretion as GM to have that creature change its tactics accordingly.

d) You're right that the heights of the walkways weren't provided. I ran it that they were about the same height as the top of the stacked cubes and had the ettin standing on a stack so he could shoot as soon as the PCs exited. There were some mildly confusing bits because games like this just don't handle three-dimensional battles well when it comes to range and cover.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I've found it *really* helpful in any scene with more than a couple of NPCs if the GM has prepped notecards with each NPC's name and either a pic or at least a written description. It makes it a lot easier for players to remember who is who. I remember being a player in

a scenario:
the last bit of Honour's Echo
and have very little idea what was going on :)

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
Jhaeman wrote:
Fine, I'm going to be *that guy* and say I thought the album thing was on the wrong side of silly and sets a goofier tone for SFS than I'd like. But I guess if it brings you all so much joy, I can live with it.
Which scenario is this in?

# 1-01 The Commencement

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

"Boy, sure would be nice if we had some grenades, don't you think?"

Even if the number-crunching doesn't pan out, ya' gotta admit there's something cool about grenades.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Fine, I'm going to be *that guy* and say I thought the album thing was on the wrong side of silly and sets a goofier tone for SFS than I'd like. But I guess if it brings you all so much joy, I can live with it.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
SmiloDan wrote:

I have a serious question for you: Do all your house rules really, positively add to the gaming experience?

They seem like they add a lot of complexity, as well as consuming a lot of time. Is this a lot of theorycrafting? Or are these rules you use in regular games?

The idea with the "plug-and-play" house rules is that groups can pick one, ten, or forty in any combination that they think works best for them. I have used most of the rules I'm proposing (in some form or another) at some point in my gaming past, but certainly not all of them at once. I also freely admit that some are untested, like the weapon speed one (and those are the ones I can use the most help in improving).

Anyway, thanks for the feedback everyone--it helps me out a lot in refining the "pro" and "con" cases. More next week!

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Thanks for the advice everyone.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Bellona wrote:

Now, if only they will re-print the Saga Edition sourcebook "Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide"!

(I still can't believe that it was sold out less than a year after publication. And then never re-printed.)

I bought that one (and all the others) as they were released, but I never used it because the campaign I ran was set during the Clone Wars . . .

I sure love me some Saga Edition.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

And # 8.

8. Critical Hits After a critical hit has been confirmed, a player may choose to either do the normal critical hit multiplier of the weapon or instead roll once on the table below.

Roll 1d100

1-3 Normal damage, target knocked prone
4-5 Normal damage, target pushed 1 square (attacker’s choice of direction)
6-10 Normal damage, target disarmed
11-15 Double damage
16-17 Double damage, target deafened for 1d6 rounds
18-20 Double damage, target blinded for 1d6 rounds
21-25 Double damage, target’s hands bruised (-2 attacks, 20% spell failure)
26-27 Double damage, random item on target is destroyed
28-30 Double damage, target shaken
31-35 Double damage, target flat-footed for 1 round
36-40 Double damage, attacker gets an extra attack with same modifiers
41-45 Triple damage
46-50 Triple damage, target stunned for 1d3 rounds
51-55 Triple damage, target reduced to half-speed for 1 hour
56-60 Triple damage, target is dazed for 1 round
61-65 Triple damage, target permanently scarred (-2 Charisma)
66-70 Triple damage, target takes 1d6 bleed
71-75 Triple damage, target goes last in initiative for rest of the encounter
76-80 Triple damage, attacker gets free Intimidate check vs. enemies w/in 30’
81-85 Triple damage, target confused (as per the spell) for 1d3 rounds
86-88 Triple damage, target panicked for 1d3 rounds
89-90 Triple damage, target takes 1d4 Con bleed
91-95 Quadruple damage
96-98 Quadruple damage, target staggered
99-100 Target reduced to -1 hit points and is dying

PRO: Critical hits are fun, but sometimes doing extra damage is either underwhelming (x2 with a dagger vs. a healthy ogre) or overkill (x3 with a greataxe vs. a goblin). Using a critical hit table like the one above adds an extra element of unpredictability and excitement to a battle. That ogre won’t be laughing when he takes quadruple damage and gets staggered! The table above is structured to add an element of decision-making for the player as to whether to take the weapon’s base critical multiplier or to roll on the table. Often, the table will be better, but there’s a chance it could be worse.

CON: A critical hit table like the one above, or like the deck of cards released by Paizo, cause a more “swingy” style of combat. In other words, a weak PC might get *really* lucky and defeat an opponent that really had no business defeating. And because critical hits go both ways, the player of a 9th level Fighter could get quite testy when that goblin rolls two natural 20s to confirm a critical hit with his dogslicer followed by a 99 on the table above. But all’s fair in love and war, and Pathfinder often involves the latter (if not the former).

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Here's # 7, something that's been around since the dawn of RPGs. I'm including it here for completeness, as we don't really need to rehearse the well-established arguments for and against them.

7. Critical Fumbles: On an attack roll of a natural 1, the attack automatically misses the target and the attacker suffers a critical fumble of a type determined by rolling 1d100 and consulting the table below:

Roll 1d100

1-3 Stumble and off balance, no attack next round
4-5 Hit Ally, Double Damage
6-10 Weapon drops, 1d8 squares, 1d8 (compass) direction
11-15 Slip & fall on ground
16-17 Backpack splits, everything drops to the ground
18-20 1d6 carried fragile items shatter (potion vials, alchemical items, etc.)
21-25 Weapon cracks and gains the Broken condition
26-27 Background Struck, causing inconvenient obstacle
28-30 Off-Balance, All opponents w/ line of sight get attack of opportunity
31-35 Weapon falls & wedged somewhere (DC 20 Str.)
36-40 Hit self/Get Hit, 1d6 damage & lost teeth
41-45 Hit self/Get Hit, 4d6 damage & broken arm (no 2 hand weapons)
46-50 Hit self/Get Hit, 6d8 damage & broken leg (speed=1)
51-55 Blinded by blood or flash for rest of combat
56-60 Hit nearest ally, normal damage
61-65 Hit self/Get Hit in Face--2d6 Charisma damage
66-70 Hit self/Get Hit deaf 1d4 days
71-75 Pathetic Miss, Opponents Mock and They Gain 1d8 temporary hit points
76-80 Slip, fall, and hit head: prone and unconscious for 1d6 rounds
81-85 Weapon destroyed permanently
86-88 Hit self, normal damage
89-90 Hit Self, Double Damage
91-95 Roll Twice
96-98 Hit Ally, Triple Damage
99-100 Hit Self, Triple Damage

PRO: Critical fumbles make combats memorable and exciting. No matter how tough a PC is, and no matter how overwhelming a monster seems, they can roll a natural 1 and disaster can strike. I’ve used critical fumble systems of some type in almost every RPG I’ve ever played, and I’ve never regretted it; even when, as a player, my bard PC literally decapitated himself! With critical fumbles, no combat is routine and no result is pre-determined. The table above is just a sample; there are tons of critical fumble tables out there, and Paizo produces a critical fumble deck.

CON: Some players like to play larger-than-life heroes of legend who can’t possibly miss, and they resent the randomness and fallibility that can come from a critical fumble system.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Jared Thaler wrote:

Is there any reason *not* to let a PC go with her? As far as I can tell, it doesn't break the plot. (It does mean that the PC will not be able to help fake her death, but there are some PCs that wouldn't be able to help wit that anyway, and this lets them feel useful.)

Good point. The bodyguard PCs would be off-screen for a bit, but as long as their players are patient it shouldn't really take *too* long for the death-faking PCs to finish their business.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Damanta wrote:

I'd explained the fact that Ceren wants to deal with it alone is to rouse the least amount of suspicion. Why would she suddenly have one (or more) armed and armored bodyguards?

As for faking her death, if the players ask Historia-7 she actually explains about the situation of Bluerise tower, and that the Stewards can't even do anything there. The defence of incapacity would be nothing to those corporations.

Hm, the "bodyguards would be too obvious" idea is a good one I could try. I still worry that "sure, let's let the elderly lady with the brain condition who is being hunted by corporate thugs trundle off on her own" is a hard sell though. It's like asking for trouble. At least, if I were a player, I would try a *lot* of different options (disguising a PC to trail her covertly, taking her to SFS HQ for safe-keeping, etc.) before that one.

As for the corporations and the Stewards, it's actually not so clear. Historia-7 explains that the corporations are sovereign over Bluerise Tower and that even the Stewards can't enter, but it requires another leap (though not completely implausible one) to convey that they have legal carte blanche to apprehend suspected thieves anywhere on Absalom Station with full impunity. But maybe that is the case--I haven't seen enough of the setting to know just how much corporations dominate Absalom Station.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Second question: wouldn't any lawful good types among the PCs quite justifiably balk at faking the old woman's death, and instead argue that they should call the Stewards and explain the whole thing? After all, she did in fact steal data from a corporation, but she has a legitimate legal defense of incapacity. I think if the scenario did more to establish that the corporations are likely to take lethal vigilante justice into their own hands, the "fake her death" would seem more plausible--I'm worried that as it stands, it sounds like the somewhat crazy idea of an elderly woman with a degenerative brain condition.

Then again, I may just be overthinking it. Players often do what they know they're supposed to do, even if doesn't always make role-playing sense.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm prepping this one, and glad to see there's a GM thread on it. I'm sure I'll post some various random observations and questions over the next couple of weeks.

First up, I notice that in the Dataphiles mission that Ceren (the hacker grandmother) is supposed to "go into temporary hiding" and then meet the PCs in a park in six hours. If I know my regular players, they'll almost certainly insist on someone staying with her during these six hours, and I can't think of a good reason why she'd refuse. I guess they could just split the party while the others work on the fake death documents, but I'm curious how this went down for those of you who already ran it.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Session # 25 Recap:
[6 Neth 4707 continued]

Having returned from the hinterlands with the body of their fallen friend, the adventurers head straight to the Sandpoint Cathedral. The brand new building of glass and stone has been turned into a makeshift hospital for the wounded and diseased victims of the ghoul menace that is spreading through the southern farmlands. Father Zantus and his acolytes look tired and haggard, and when he’s asked about restoring Ome to life, he says it simply can’t be done. He says he just managed to replace the scroll destroyed the last time he tried to help the adventurers, and he has to save the new one for a true emergency. Artemis mentions he’s been feeling ill since fighting the ghouls, and Father Zantus confirms he’s in the early stages of ghoul fever. The cleric of Desna tells the group that the Cathedral has expended its supply of magicks to remove disease at present, but that he sent one of his acolytes, Sister Erica, to Habe’s Sanatorium a couple of days prior when Sheriff Hemlock informed him that Dr. Habe was dead and that someone was needed to look after the patients still detained there. Sister Erica was given two such scrolls in case any of the patients contracted the disease, and she took with her a friend interested in herbalism and alchemy. He asks the adventurers if they’d be willing to check on Sister Erica, given the events of the past days and the isolated location of the sanatorium, and says that if she still has one of the scrolls left, they’d be welcome to it. They agree to head to the sanatorium once their other business in Sandpoint is concluded.

The adventurers discuss what to do with Ome’s body. Bey suggests the group strip the corpse of all possessions and divide the items amongst the survivors, withholding a small amount to donate to Kaye Tessarani for the rebuilding of the Pixie’s Kitten. The others agree and Ome’s body is taken to the morgue below the Sandpoint Garrison. All of the stone slabs are occupied by covered bodies, so the group find a dusty, out-of-the-way corner to go about their task. Item by item, Ome’s wordly goods are divided among the adventurers. Afterwards, (leaving the body where it lay), the group sell some of Ome’s possessions that nobody wanted. A portion of the resulting wealth is delivered to the Rusty Dragon and entrusted with Ameiko to make sure Kaye gets it. After Artemis prepares some correspondence to be sent to Magnimar, the adventurers requisition mounts from the garrison and leave Sandpoint at midday.

The mounted travellers make quick time and are unmolested on their journey. Barely an hour’s ride brings them to the Saintly Haven of Respite, better known as Habe’s Sanatorium. The squat, stone building is built into the lee of a limestone escarpment known as Ashen Rise. From the outside, the building looks secure: boards have been nailed over the ground-floor windows, and the front door is still shut. However, Artemis’ keen eyesight picks out a startling detail: in a shadowy alcove, a bestial creature is clinging to the wall and trying to wrench free one of the boards covering a window! Artemis drops from his horse with startling speed, nocks an arrow, sends it hurtling towards the creature, and strikes true. But the arrow shatters, leaving the creature completely unharmed! Artemis shares what he’s seen with his allies, and although they still can’t make the figure out, they begin to move toward the building.

Two figures inside the building know what is trying to break its way in, and they know they have only themselves to blame. Sister Erica, an elderly halfling worshipper of Erastil, and Kang, a haughty, strange-looking plane-touched man with a prehensile tail, arrived at Habe’s Sanatorium just two days previously. At first, all had gone well: Sister Erica checked on the two elderly patients still detained in the facility, as well as the wererat Pidget Tergelson. But later that night, it became clear that something had followed their scents through the farmlands and to the sanatorium: ghouls! Knowing there was no chance of fighting them off, Sister Erica and Kang had hatched a desperate plan: they set Pidget free to fight the ghouls, promising him they’d find a cure for his lycanthropy. The plan worked brilliantly at first: Pidget tore the ghouls apart and was barely scratched by their teeth and claws. He disappeared into the darkness and in the days since, the sanatorium has been safe. Until now! Pidget Torgelson had contracted ghoul fever in his first fight, and now he is more than a man, and more even than a wererat: he’s become a hideous and unthinkable ghoul lycanthrope! And for his first meal, he’s decided to feast upon those who set him free. Kang quickly hands Sister Erica a concoction and tells her to make a run for it after drinking it, for it will turn her invisible and hide her from the beast. The two of them head for the side-door.

The screech of nails being pulled from wood indicates that Pidget has yanked free the last obstacle barring his path into the interior of the building. Briza fires an arrow at the dangerous creature, but it too shatters. Even Bey’s new bardiche can’t penetrate the abomination’s skin! But just seconds before the creature can climb through the window, Arnald emerges from the treeline on his warhorse and buries his massive red axe into Pidget’s back. The blade bites deep into the creature’s spine, killing it instantly.

Realizing that Pidget has been dealt with, Sister Erica and Kang meet their rescuers outside. Kang is suspicious at first and threatens to blow the newcomers up with a bomb if they don’t explain themselves, but Sister Erica recognizes Artemis’ tabard and knows he’s a member of the Sandpoint Watch. Bey explains that they’ve come at the behest of Father Zantus to check on them. The decision is made that everyone, including the two elderly patients inside, should head directly for Sandpoint. But first, the matter of Artemis’ ghoul fever must be dealt with. Sister Erica confirms she still has two remove disease scrolls. As Bey is the more skilled spellcaster, she performs the rites. Her attempt with the first scroll fails to cure the tenacious disease, but her second try is successful. Putrescence drains from Artemis’ pores as the rotting disease leaves his body.

The journey north is uneventful, though the farm trails and Lost Coast Road seem deserted. The adventurers decide to leave Sister Erica and her two patients at the shack where Ome used to live, as several refugees from the damaged Pixie’s Kitten can look after them. Briza chats with her fellow bouncers and has to deliver the bad news of Ome’s death. She hears in turn that Sandpoint remains dangerous as well: another murder victim, the town butcher, has been discovered. Bey asks the group if they should investigate, but Artemis says they need to focus on the source of the problems: Foxglove Manor. Briza asks Kang if he’d like to go with them. The tiefling is intrigued by the prospect of learning how to synthesize the paralytic powers of ghouls, and, designating Briza as his “assistant”, he agrees. The adventurers, five strong once again, head back to Habe’s Sanatorium and reach it in the late afternoon. They spend the remaining daylight fortifying it against attack, and they even bring their mounts inside for safekeeping.

[7 Neth 4707]

Most of the night passes uneventfully, but in the early morning hours, the distressed whinnying of a horse can be heard outside in the distance. Arnald decides to investigate and goes outside. In the dwindling darkness, he can make out a horse laying on its side about a 150’ away being swarmed over by humanoid shapes. Arnald starts thumping loudly on the doorframe to wake his friends, but his action also alerts the creatures to his presence and they start rushing towards the building! Artemis and Briza react quickly and rush to the doorway to fire their bows. One of the shapes falls and lays motionless, but the other two reach the circle of light cast by Arnald’s everburning torch: ghouls! Artemis lets fly another arrow and fells a second one, while Arnald takes the fight to the last remaining ghoul and lops off its head with a single swing of his axe! With the excitement all over, a few members of the group venture out to check on the dead horse and conclude it must have been a plow-horse from a nearby farm.

Everyone manages to get a couple of more hours of sleep. Bey has a strange dream about a ferocious lion with a barbed tail, and, when she shares this dream with her allies, Kang says that she’s been dreaming about a manticore. Over breakfast, the others share with Kang what they know about Foxglove Manor. The day’s journey begins well, as they reach the Foxglove River with no impediments. Following the overgrown trail west along its northern banks, the group notice the brightly-painted carriage characteristic of Varisian nomads stationed near an ancient shrine to Desna. Bey is intrigued and rides over to the group to introduce herself. Upon hearing that there is a Harrower amongst them, she excitedly pays for a reading and convinces all of her allies, except for Kang, to do the same. Inside the back of the carriage, Bey receives a reading performed by an elderly-looking woman. Bey can tell that the woman has no real skill at divination, but the adventurer remains enthusiastic. After Briza has her turn, Arnald enters. He too receives a fairly generic reading, but for some baffling reason he reacts violently: he jumps on the table and raises his greataxe at the woman! With uncanny speed, a dagger appears in her hand as she calls out for help.

One adventurer has been laid to rest, but another has taken her place as the journey towards Foxglove Manor shows only intermittent progress. What will the outcome be of Arnald’s bizarre actions in the Varisian campsite?

Director's Commentary:
Director's Commentary (September 3, 2017)

Since Ome died last session, this session sees the PCs return her body to Sandpoint. They followed the classic adventurers' habit of stripping the corpse of all of its possessions, something which I've always found mildly distasteful (not to mention it slows the session down as everyone has to decide what to take, and then the remnant has to be valued and sold). And in a fitting twist, they were so busy splitting the loot they forgot they left the body sitting in a dark and dusty corner of the morgue!

It's always fun to have an exciting entrance for a new character, so I came up with the story of Pidget being released from the Sanatorium to fight off ghouls and then being turned himself. Fortunately, I had Classic Horrors Revisited which contained a ghoul lycanthrope template fitting exactly this situation!

Ome's player introduced his new PC, Kang the Magnificent, a tiefling alchemist. Kang is role-played extremely well as an egotistical self-proclaimed genius. He's also proven to be a beast in the adventure path, as throwing bombs against Touch AC means he practically never misses and often damages multiple opponents each round. Rise of the Runelords was written before the Advanced Player's Guide, and occasionally it shows.

The stuff with the fortune-tellers was a slightly-adjusted set-up for the encounter "Sczarni Wagon" from Volume 3 of the Pathfinder hardcover comic. I wasn't actually expecting any combat at all, as the PCs would essentially be conned out of a trivial amount of money for false predictions. I don't think anyone at the table, including Arnald's player, had any explanation for why the character suddenly decided to jump up on the table and threaten the woman with his greatsword. Truly, one of the bizarre moments in gaming history! Arnald was known for doing somewhat random things, but this one really took the cake.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Here's the situation: the PCs took the nearly suicidal tactical of making a frontal attack on the ogres at Fort Rannick, and thanks to excellent battlefield positioning and the dice gods, they actually killed every single ogre manning the walls and in the courtyard. Near death, they've (wisely!) decided to retreat before investigating the keep.

I'm trying to figure out the most likely response by the ogres in the keep to the fact that there's been a massive slaughter of their fellows outside. As best I can tell, Jaagrath is not a tactician and not even particularly interested in Rannick (it's running out of entertainment for him). Lucrecia is just biding her time there after the sinking of the Paradise and has no qualms about joining Barl at the Hook Mountain clanhold, and the rest of the ogres inside are just pursuing their individual pleasures. I've been going over a few options:

1. Just leave them in place. They're not smart, and they're overconfident. This has the benefit of simplicity, but I worry it's too much like a video game where the enemies just wait for the PCs to come to them no matter what's happening in the story.

2. Have the surviving ogres leave. They've had their fun and realize that any force that can kill about twenty of their fellows outside isn't worth tangling with. I could use the additional forces to augment the clanhold. This is a bit anti-climactic, but might be the most "realistic."

3. Have them try to more intelligently defend the keep. Pile up rubble to block the doors, set some traps, do some wandering patrols, etc. This creates more work for me, but it would probably be the most satisfying option for the players.

Any advice on the options above or others I should pursue?

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I honestly don't care, but given the number of people asking for one over the years it might be worth a shot--perhaps if you do an "alternate cover" version someday, release it in landscape and see how customers respond.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Yeah, let's not get into a "are the soft sciences really science?" debate. I get enough of that at work.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

If I have to side with Rysky or zombie-lich-ghoul-skeletons, I'm with Rysky!

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Mondragon wrote:

6) mmm i did a time slow advancement for full casters. Fast advancement for full martials. The casters still better, but martials being happy with 1 or 2 levels more

I like that idea--just slots the classes into the existing Fast, Medium, and Slow advancement tracks.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

And # 6, which may cause seizures in some readers:

6. XP Penalty Based on Tier: Characters may receive a percentage penalty to XP earned based upon the tier placement of their current class. This category list will be created by the GM based upon perception of strength and available options that may become available in the future. “Tier 1” classes (usually composed of full casters) will receive a 20% XP penalty. Each successively lower tier has a successively lower XP Penalty in 5% percent increments, and bottom tier classes (the Core rulebook Rogue, for example) have no penalty to XP.

PRO: The caster/martial disparity is a long-running concern among many gamers. If you don’t believe it exists, stop reading this house rule now because you’ll just get agitated. If you’re still reading, you might notice that it’s pretty hard to sit a Level 20 Wizard side-by-side with a Level 20 Rogue and see anything remotely balanced by what should be two legitimate choices of gameplay. One of the ways that first and second edition D&D responded to this issue was to have different XP thresholds for each class to level up. Rogues levelled up the fastest, fighters were in the middle, and wizards were the slowest of all. The idea here is that, rather than ruthlessly balance every class with every other class (like fourth edition D&D tried to do), the system can acknowledge that some classes are innately more powerful but counter-balance that fact to some degree by making it take longer for those classes to reach higher levels. This proposed house rule doesn’t go nearly as far as those early editions (wherein a wizard took *twice* as many XP as a rogue to reach level 2), but it does provide just a little bump to help low-tier classes out.

CON: You’ll notice that I haven’t categorized all of Pathfinders 30+ classes into tiers, and instead left this up to the GM. The reason for this is that few things are more controversial than what tiers different classes belong in, and it seemed like a losing proposition. In addition, there are some classes (like the occult ones) that I just don’t have enough experience in to give a credible classification. One can find various sets of tiers (and the resulting argument) online, but no matter what choices the GM makes, some players may get annoyed by getting fewer experience points.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

My thread has been hijacked by pirates, but I'm prepared to repel boarders! Anyway, here's the real # 5:

5. Longevity XP: A character gains bonus XP equal to 1% times the number of levels that character has been played.

PRO: As an example, a Level 1 character gets a 1% bonus to XP. A character who has been actively played from Level 1 all the way to Level 10 gets a 10% bonus to XP. A new PC who debuts at Level 10 only gets a 1% bonus until it reaches Level 11, in which case it’ll get a 2% bonus.

The purpose of this rule is to reward players for sticking with a character. A lot of gamers have the “oh, shiny!” mentality and can be easily distracted by a new race or class or feat tree. This means some players will plead to introduce a new PC and sideline their current one or not bother having a dead PC raised: all because a brand-new high-level character with new bells and whistles and thousands of gold pieces in magic items is too hard to resist. Obviously, GMs want their players to enjoy the game and play characters they enjoy playing, but this sort of “Gamer ADD” can have serious repercussions to the health of a campaign overall. Deep character development and intricately-woven plot threads can be derailed when a major PC takes an unceremonious exit. In other words, it’s hard to write a good novel if you have to worry that any of the main characters could cease being available to you at any time. XP for character longevity is a very small bonus, and not likely to sway anyone who is deeply infatuated with a new idea, but it is a small recognition, incentive, and token of gratitude for those players who stick with a character and thus help a storyline along.

CON: To many players, losing a character sucks; and, especially at low levels where characters can’t be easily raised, depriving them of an XP bonus could be seen as adding insult to injury. In addition, the GM has to do a little more record-keeping to keep track of how long a character has been played and remember to factor the bonus in every time XP is awarded.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm sure this question is covered elsewhere, but since I'm on the thread: do these faction cards apply to any scenarios played during "Season 9" (the real-world year) or only "Season 9" (# 9-xx) scenarios?

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Between sessions, I look at the rules for determining if someone has cover and I understand them perfectly. Then, while GMing a session, a cover question comes up and I can only remember something vague about drawing a line from somewhere to some points somewhere and end up having to ask one of the players. I'm really good with most of the rules, but for some reason it's cover that gets me!

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I can understand why PFS' reward system is counter-intuitive to new players: they would expect that if they find an item, they get to keep it, as opposed to getting a flat cash reward and an "option to buy". If they really don't like the PFS system, I think you should be able to run the scenarios and simply monitor and adjust available treasure to ensure that WBL doesn't get crazy. After all, with 200+ scenarios, you have a lot of options to choose from! On the other hand, the benefit to you of PFS-style play is it helps keep under control the somewhat crazy character builds that unrestricted play can allow.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Thank you for a nice, clear explanation.

I've only GMed a single session of Starfinder, but I have to admit I just don't see the "fun" value-add of all of these battery and recharging requirements. I would far prefer the designers had slightly reduced WBL and (for the very rare occasion when a "stranded on a remote planet" adventure comes up) set a rule that routine powered items have to be recharged every x number of days. Clean, simple, and less bookkeeping.

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