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If you think any of these are "intrinsic issues", then either you don't know what "intrinsic" means or your experience with RPGs is even narrower than mine.
Steve Geddes wrote:
Taking questions as challenges (or taking challenges, even in clear black-and-white, as mutinous insubordination; and so forth) is fairly common among the leadership culture of PFS, in my experience. So I just declared my re-casting of certain buffs (the ones that were actually about to expire) and moved on, quietly moving forward with a correct game state, relying on my knowledge that the GM wouldn't bother to verify anything.
The weird feelings that resulted from repeatedly needing to use devious methods in order to play honest and ethical games were part of why I quit PFS. :/
Fight breaks out on a ship. The PCs, the mooks, and the traps/hazards are all on the middle part of the deck, while the BBEG is happily standing atop whatever that raised part of the deck in the back is called. My tablemate's turn comes up, and he correctly assesses that the BBEG really needs to be interfered with. So he says, "Okay, I withdraw and move this way..." and moves his mini along a path away from the main melee, up the stairs and into threatening range of the BBEG.
The GM says no, he can't get there in one turn, there's stairs.
Someone (don't remember who) points out that that's not a problem.
They suddenly become really steep stairs.
The original player points out that although steep stairs are difficult terrain and will cost extra movement, he still has enough movement to get there.
Suddenly the stairs are more like a ladder, requiring the climbing rules to come into effect, meaning you move at one quarter speed. And they suddenly expanded from one square to two.
Different game, different GM. I'm playing a high level (well, high for PFS) character who uses lots of buffs, especially when expecting trouble. Honest player that I am, I diligently and conservatively track the time spent since buffing up, right down to knowing the order in which my buffs went up, always rounding partial minutes up to full minutes, and keeping careful tabs on the actions announced by all my tablemates.
Eventually, we're about to open a significant door, and a fellow player (likely also mindful of a buff or two), asks the GM how long we've been in the dungeon so far. Figuring that the GM has enough to track already, I decide to speak up and say that it's been about nine minutes, so folks will probably want to re-cast their minute-per-level buffs if possible. I'm just about to open my mouth, when the GM announces in total confidence, "You guys have been here about an hour."
Well, somebody got the "0XP and an amulet of health" option. It was a dragonborn sorcerer with 13 CON. I think they seem satisfied. :)
Everyone else landed in various parts of 3rd level, with the highest being someone whose final XP total was 2300 (so just a few encounters from 4th level) with gloves of swimming and climbing.
We'll see how this goes!
I think a big concern to a lot of people is that there's no way to know that these private reprimands are happening. So it seems like nothing is happening.
Well, that's one facet of the issue, but it's bigger than that.
For one thing, it's not just about making sure reprimands happen, or needing to see them happen. More significantly, it's also about listeners being given valid advice/direction/imperatives.
Imagine you work in an office, and one of your coworkers (whether you're aware of it or not) regularly takes home office supplies, uses company resources for personal stuff, and so forth. In a case like this, "reprimand in private" makes sense. Somebody finds out about the behavior, reports it privately to their superior, the matter is addressed in private, and it's resolved. It would be completely inappropriate to call a team meeting to point out the behavior. This is where "reprimand in private" is valid, and working as intended.
But now imagine that your office has a communal bulletin board over by the water cooler, for your whole office's use. Now suppose that one of your coworkers—someone with some perceived clout, such as a team leader or even just a veteran employee who often volunteers at fundraisers—keeps putting up unauthorized notices that are against office rules. Maybe illegal betting pools for sporting events, maybe "tips for new hires" that encourage unethical practices, or other calls to action for fellow officemates that are completely inappropriate.
Now, it would still be completely inappropriate to call everyone into a meeting to point fingers. But shouldn't management at least take down the illegal postings and maybe even put up their own post reaffirming the correct procedures? Privately telling the person to stop putting that stuff up, but then leaving it there where employees who might not know better will take it as valid guidance and never doing anything to contradict it, is completely ridiculous.
But last I saw, that's exactly how PFS was being handled. Certain ranked/titled individuals can put inappropriate imperatives out there for others to find, other like-minded VOs nod along in agreement, and anybody who speaks up against them is labeled as a troublemaker who's not to be listened to. And then it's all left there to be read by anyone searching for guidance on the topic, looking like it's the right approach.
It's not really about whether the people get their private reproach or not. There's a bigger issue that the toxic ideas are left there to continue seeping into the community's collective culture. It's like privately telling someone to stop pooping in the kitchen but then leaving the mop in the closet. It doesn't really matter how the reprimand is handled if the poop is left on the floor.
So that's one important aspect of the issue that "we can't see the reprimands" fails to summarize. Another important issue is effectiveness. The ability to see the reprimand happening is faaaar less important than the ability to see results.
For example, there was one particular VO with whom I repeatedly clashed on the forums whenever he would assert/defend an unacceptable position and I would speak up about it. It happened a lot. I would even get PMs to my account here from people who were reading along and wanted to thank me for "being the only one willing to stand up to him", up to and including offering to buy me a drink in thanks.
Meanwhile, theoretically, he's being talked to in private.
But it kept happening. Eventually, the PMs I would get from random readers shifted from expressions of gratitude to advice that he wasn't worth my time because he's demonstrated for years that he won't listen to reason. This was an ongoing issue, and was still an issue when I abandoned PFS.
So was he being talked to in private? Maybe, maybe not. But who cares? Nothing changed. It doesn't matter if he's getting emails from the Campaign Coordinator every day of the week and twice on Tuesdays; if the behavior never actually changes, then what difference does it make? And that VO wasn't the only one whose behavior was never successfully modified; I could offer quite a list of folks who maintained unmitigated trends over time.
If Tonya wants to maintain the policy of private reprimands, that's completely fine... as long as it works.
Really, the only problem with "invisible discipline" is that it's accompanying a lack of results. If unacceptable directives were removed/contradicted and unacceptable behavior was effectively corrected, nobody would complain that the process wasn't fully visible. It's only because there are no clear results that the invisibility of reprimands is able to make it look like nothing's being done at all. If there were tangible results, invisible discipline wouldn't look like a lack of discipline.
Anyway, that's a bit of a wall of text, and probably not organized very well since it was just off the top of my head, but hopefully it helps clarify the issue at hand. :)
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Same here. If I wanted the results to be up to me, I'd be writing a book, not running an RPG.
I think your math might be off. You have a 4% chance of rolling the last option on the chart, and once you're there, you have a better-than-even chance of rolling enough XP to hit 4th level. So even if we round down, we're looking at a 2% chance of hitting 4th, before we even get to the possibility of rolling high on a different table entry.
Whoops, I didn't check your math and just assumed. My bad.
Why do I want it to be more likely for folks to start at 4th level? The goal was a bell curve that's centered on 3rd level, with only the fringes reaching above or below.
Steve Geddes wrote:
If you had the inclination, I think giving a choice of items at each tier would be superior - to minimise the risk of a player getting something they have no interest at all in.
I actually thought about having at least some of the rolls result in a choice between, say, a +1 weapon or a +1 wand, in order to accommodate different types of characters. However, I eventually decided to instead just make sure that every item is usable by nearly any character. That way, we maintain the chance-based "organic" feel of this campaign while also not screwing anybody over with a useful-for-anyone-but-me item.
I'd be curious whether you'd allow a 'rebuild' in certain circumstances? I played a mountain dwarf abjuration wizard with an 18 con at 1st level (I think - it might have been a 17). The amulet of life wouldn't feel like a windfall. Although, I suppose if your world provides relatively easy ability to trade in magic items that might not be a drama.
I don't think I've seen any applicants with a CON higher than 14, and most seem to be around 12. However, if I did run into an issue like that, I'd probably just do a re-roll on the chart.
The first thing to understand is that Pathfinder is a game in which wealth/gear is an integral part of character advancement. In a sense, gold is a second XP track.
Monsters, enemy NPCs, and other challenges are written with the assumption that you meet certain benchmarks (both numerical and otherwise) by certain levels of play.
Of course, as you've noticed, there are a LOT of magic items in Pathfinder. And, sadly, a great many of them either fail to help you meet any reasonable benchmarks (numerical or practical) or are redundant with other items that are cheaper or are more potent for the same price.
So here's a guide for you:
First, the "Big Six":
How do you navigate these? I recommend that you write down your items from the list; for your ranged inquisitor, it would look something like this:
Next, you look at what you already have in each spot, and write down the cost of the next "upgrade" for that item (or the cost of buying the item, if you don't already have one). For your 2nd-level character, it might look something like this (prices pulled from memory):
Now, look at how much money you have. Buy the cheapest item you can afford from the list. Mark it off, and write down the next increment and its price. Repeat this process until you can't afford anything else on the list. For example, if right now you have 900gp, you would first buy the masterwork breastplate, marking it off and writing in the price of a +1 breastplate. Then, with 700gp left, the cheapest thing you could afford is a masterwork bow, which you would then purchase, mark off, and note the price of the next step.
Then, when you have more money later, you revisit the list and repeat the "buy cheapest, mark up" process. This will keep you up to your numerical benchmarks.
But then there's the practical benchmarks. This involves making sure you have solutions to various obstacles you might encounter, such as being able to deal with enemies against whom your primary tactic doesn't work. This involves having arrows of different special materials, having a backup melee weapon in case you're cornered, being able to clear conditions like blindness, being able to traverse geographical obstacles (like cliffs, ravines, or rivers), and so forth. Since Pathfinder is a game with a spell for everything, you're going to end up carrying lots of scrolls and potions, so don't be surprised by that. Unfortunately, I can't really give you a formula on this one; you've kind of got to feel it out. However, what you might do is check out what level certain spells come online and be able to counter them. For example, a spellcaster could permanently blind you as early as 5th level, so when you're at the point that you might face a 5th-level spellcaster, you want to have a potion of remove blindness.
Finally, you and your party will want to have an item-based means of restoring HP between fights. Pathfinder was designed with the intent that healing spells can't keep up with damage, in order to facilitate combats that move toward a conclusion rather than being endless slogs against enemy healers. The side effect of this design decision is that spell-based healing is insufficient to keep a party going. That's why most parties keep a supply of wands of cure light wounds: after a fight, somebody grabs the wand and taps people until they're in good shape. This will be an ongoing investment, but a necessary one.
Best of luck in your campaign!
Actually, your first two rolls there do hit 4th level, since everyone starts with 500XP.
So that first roll puts you at 2850xp, which is just into 4th level, along with 350gp and the very minor gloves of swimming and climbing.
The second roll puts you at 3100xp, just a bit further into 4th level, with 425gp and the slightly-cooler-than-a-torch driftglobe.
Your third roll lands at 2650xp, basically one solid encounter short of hitting 4th level, along with 325gp and a maybe-useful cloak of the manta ray.
Of course, your rolls were all at the high end. Let's see what I get for the other half of a hypothetical party:
1d100 ⇒ 6
1d100 ⇒ 29
1d100 ⇒ 70
So if we put your three rolls and my three rolls together to form a party, we've got PCs ranging from 2nd to 4th level with items as disparate as light sources and free teleportation.
Do you think it needs to be more variable than that?
Yup, it was actually a batch of greenish potatoes that prompted my research. Apparently, a potato exposed to enough light will think it needs to start up a fresh plant, so it starts producing chlorophyll (which is where the green comes from). But this same process also produces more of this toxin.
But even in non-green potatoes, the toxin apparently exists (especially in the skin). And I was eating, like, a pound or more of potatoes for every single meal for almost two weeks straight, the latter half of that time with the skins on them.
My digestion had been calm enough for a while that I thought I finally found a "baseline" for some experimentation and was just about to add something else to my diet, when I started to be a little sick again. I had eaten one green-skinned potato (but peeled it first), so I thought I'd do some research.
And now I'm eating rice instead. :/
I learned a thing!
Apparently, potatoes contain a toxin (especially concentrated in the skin) which is normally no big deal, but if you eat lots and lots of potatoes you can accumulate enough poison to start hurting your gut.
Petty Alchemy wrote:
Amulet of Health is one of those items that makes a huge difference if you know you've got it before you build your character.
To some degree, yes, but not nearly as much as with the other stats. In 5E it's basically assumed that your primary stat (which is something other than CON) has a +3 modifier, so an item equivalent to AoH for a primary stat is only going to be a difference of +1, or completely worthless if you find it at 4th level or later. But with CON, it's my experience that folks tend to start with a modifier of +0, +1, or maybe +2; and then they leave it there for a great many levels. Thus, AoH will have a noticeable impact on almost any character prior to about 12th level or so.
If anybody's inclined to give feedback, this is the first draft of the chart I'm thinking of using when the game starts. Note that PCs start with 500XP (so, partway into 2nd level) and starting gear by class/background.
5E and low levels. If you want to know more, it was Adventure League module Mines of Phandelver(or something spelled like that). Maybe a 1st to 3rd-4th. 3 and myself being 1st, while the other being the higher.
Thanks, the details help.
Fortunately, there won't be any 1st-level PCs in my campaign, and the difference between 1st and 2nd is pretty huge.
Also, I had completely forgotten about Adventurer's League games when thinking of my past experience with different-level PCs; I'm actually in a game right now (via PbP) in which I'm playing the only 3rd-level PC. There's I think one 2nd-level PC (maybe two?) and everyone else in the party of seven is not just 1st-level, but brand-spanking-new. And it's gone smoothly enough so far that I had actually completely forgotten there was a level disparity.
What level was the higher-level PC in your game? Do you remember?
From my experience from parties having different levels within them, it can become quickly "let the higher levels do the work."
Was this experience of yours in 5E? Pathfinder? Something else?
EDIT: Also, was it at high levels, low levels, mid levels? All of the above? How big was the gap? Was there any compensation for the lower-leveled PCs?
Petty Alchemy wrote:
My personal bias is against this, different level/wealth just doesn't appeal.
I feel the same way in Pathfinder, but 5E has me curious to see how it can do. I've already seen differing levels in action, and it worked pretty smoothly, so I'm optimistic.
For balance, I think it'll be hard to gauge how well it works out. Some items add more power than others.
Hence my hand-picking of items, as well as varying mixes of XP/gold to go along with the items. So, for instance, the person who gets a driftglobe will get more additional compensation than someone who gets a ring of protection. (Dunno if either of those will be on the chart; just an example.)
Will lower level characters level faster?
I'll be using the normal 5E XP track, which means that leveling is very rapid until you hit 3rd, then it slows down a bit.
Will new magic items go to those without any?
New magic items will be distributed/used as the party sees fit. This should further assist in practical balance.
I'll be sure to come back and give updates on how this is going.
I use 100% homebrew monsters. So, that probably helps. :)
Oh, it's definitely very clear in the Recruitment thread that this is what I'm doing. Definitely not springing it on them out of nowhere.
Also, like I said, everyone is getting some variation on a gold/XP/loot mix. It's not like everybody's gonna be different levels but with all else equal. If you have less XP, that means you have more gold and/or a better magic item. If you have less loot, that means you have more XP. So, not quite the same as just randomly losing a level. :)
I'm preparing a new homebrew 5E campaign, and I have an idea for character creation. (I'm planning on this being open recruitment for a PbP, but in theory it shouldn't be much different for a face-to-face group.)
See, something I've noticed is that, due to bounded accuracy and such, PCs don't have to be exactly the same level to still function together. A mixed-level party, as long as the gap isn't huge, seems to be able to get by without too many issues (or so it seems in my limited experience).
This got me thinking about past discussions I've heard about making characters feel "organic" and I had an idea.
Suppose that at character creation, everybody brings a 2nd-level character with an XP total of, say, 500. Then, everybody rolls percentiles and consults a chart I would prepare ahead of time. Depending on the roll, they would get some mix of gear and/or XP. At the extreme ends, they might get no extra gear but enough XP to almost/barely crack 4th level, or get no additional XP but get one rare magic item (from among a short list prepared in advance by me). Most rolls would result in XP landing you somewhere in 3rd level along with one uncommon magic item (again, from among a list prepared in advance by me) and/or some gold for upgrading starting equipment.
My thinking is that perhaps gaps in XP could be bridged with starting magic items/gear, so that everyone could feel different without anyone being relegated to "sidekick" status.
In my head, it sounds kinda cool. But I figure I should check it with other people's heads before I act on it. ;)
What do you all think?
doc roc wrote:
IMO everyone should do their GM duties. What is annoyng is the Mr Never GM who is also Mr First to Moan/Winge/Rule Nazi
Of course, the flip side to this is that GMs who go too long without being a player are at risk of a catastrophic loss of perspective. To speak of my own experience, I've encountered more "problem GMs" than "problem players", and the worst offenders have invariably been GMs who hardly ever play, even if they've got years or decades of experience.
This is why I personally try to consistently fill both roles; I think I do better as a GM if I play regularly, and vice-versa.
None of the wizards I have ever played worn pointed hats or robes.
They should. It's a matter of practicality, and here's why:
First, the robes. When you're invisible (as tends to happen when you're a wizard), things you pick up don't immediately become invisible, and therefore give away your location. However, if you tuck the item away in your invisible clothing, the object becomes invisible. Having billowy robes gives you more leeway than pockets on what sizes/shapes of objects you can do this with.
As for the cone-shaped hat, that one's a bit more complicated. See, the most dangerous thing for a wizard is to have your magic taken away, which generally comes in the form of an anti-magic field. Wizards need a way to protect against this. So what do you do?
You get a teepee (a cone-shaped tent) and cast shrink item on it. Refresh it every couple of days. Now you have a teepee that you can wear as a hat. Should you find that you've run afoul of an AMF, the spell on the teepee-hat will end, returning it to its natural size. This means that suddenly there's a full-size, open-bottomed tent above your head. Gravity does its thing, and now you're standing in a tent.
As a result, there is no longer any line of effect from the point-of-origin of the AMF to your wizardy self, meaning you're no longer affected. You can now teleport to safety. And make a new hat.
That is why wizards wear flowing robes and pointy hats.
The Pale King wrote:
Maybe another class can just accomplish this feel somehow?
Well, what are you wanting out of the character? Dual-wielding, obviously; what else? Shall I presume from your idea of a magus as a starting point that you want magic in some capacity? If so, what role does magic play in the concept (buffs, out-of-combat utility, etc)? What else is central to the concept?
You'd think that, until you look at the rules for cold weather. Put it together with the hot weather rules, and you realize that the authors must have been living in like an environment suit or something.
I might be able to help you get what you want, if you can help me understand why you want your caster to start off as a weapon-user. Explain what it is that such capability would get you, and I might be able to come up with an easier/more satisfying way to give you that same thing. :)
Hey there folks,
I've been following along and mostly just listening to the ladies' perspectives, and now I wanted to pop in with an additional question, inspired by this latest mention of "gatekeeping" and "guys' night".
I know there's at least a few MLP:FiM fans among you, so I'm curious if any of you ladies have any thoughts on the recent-ish episode in which Spike and Big Mac are revealed to have a "guys' night" during which they play "Ogres and Oubliettes".
I've got my own thoughts on the episode, but I'd like to hear what the ladies in this thread (or at least, the MLP fans among them) think of it. :)