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Pre-statted monsters would be a major time saver, to be sure, but it would likely take up space that the developers are unlikely to spend. When they can say 'advanced ogre' or somesuch and give Bestiary page references it is much easier on the development side of things. PFS scenarios are a major offender of this design since they need to scale encounters up or down marginally there are always tidbits about monsters with templates or conditions added on that is left to the GM to prepare.
Giving us the stat blocks already done up would be fantastic, but I don't think we will ever see it.
Or as my dad used to say, "they're shooting at each other over a teacup, why can't they hit anything?!"
Mark Hoover wrote:
I say yes and no. Exploration is part of the fun, in my opinion so sometimes worded directions like that can be great while others a rough map can work. It depends on the delve, I feel, and how much information the party is able to drudge up before entering the dungeon. This is especially true if you are making it possible to become lost in the dungeon, something I think is exciting and adds to the danger. If the party gets a detailed map as they explore it can be a lot of fun, but it takes away the danger of becoming lost and removes some of the mystery of the dungeon.
When I did Rappan Athuk I introduced a subsystem based around the Survival skill that granted maps and descriptions in different levels of detail based on the number of ranks they had in the skill. This made wilderness and dungeon exploration more mysterious and dangerous until the druid gained a few levels and got a handle on what direction he was facing at any given time and how far apart things were.
Steve Geddes wrote:
I think a megadungeon campaign benefits from some metagame discussion pre-game as to these kinds of expectations. Clearing every room is an unachievable (and probably unprofitable) goal. Mission-based explorations are a good idea, but it's helpful if the players remember to stay focussed on those missions.
When I ran Rappan Athuk I had this kind of conversation with my players ahead of time. Too often I have seen dungeons, even small ones, turn into slogs and really wanted to avoid that. The example I used was Star Wars. The party is tasked with entering the megadungeon (Death Star) to rescue a princess (Leia) who has been kidnapped by an evil cleric (Darth Vader). Their end goal requires a few other steps to ensure they get in and out with their lives, but it is still a delve. If they were to go room by room exploring and fighting and picking up each bit of loot they would have died and failed their ultimate goal. Also, it would have made for a really boring movie.
I changed up expectation a lot in that campaign however. The big one I did was I didn't want the party to get bogged down in combat and think they needed to slog through every encounter for XP, so I offered up something inspired by playing Fallout 3. Random encounters provided no XP to the party, while planned and written encounters provided 30%. I made a series of quests that were worth substantial amounts of XP so the party could explore and earn XP, but most of the advancement came from the delves.
I feel that megadungeons are done best when presented as a series of delves. The party should run in with a task in mind and complete that task before leaving again. If they go in with the intention to explore every room it can turn into a tedious slog very quickly.
The ideas that you have for ways of presenting those delves are all good ones. Some rough explanations or a crude map can be great ways to get the party into the dungeon and poking around without presenting it in a way that encourages them to turn it into an endless stream of fights and perception rolls.
I'm really into a new Asian AP because of all mythologies most not-done-yet monsters from real mythology come from Japanese mythology.
I'd be big time into another Asian AP, especially one that was completely an Asian themed one as opposed to the sort of 1/2 and 1/2 of Jade Regent.
I would drop money on a wuxai-themed AP so hard.
Here's A Pathfinder In Game Character Resource Tracking Sheet To Help You Track HP, Ammo, Charges, Ability Usage etc.
Serpent's Skull might be one to avoid as well. If you like tweaking and building and modding your adventure paths than it is for you, but if you want something that will run smoothly as written without work, it's not. Book three falls flat as written and requires a lot of GM intervention and invention to make exciting. Since book 3 is the focus of the arc and what carries the rest of the series, this is a pretty major flaw.
Personally, I am excited to run SS but then I like to modify my campaigns pretty heavily and this one gives me room to play. That however, is not what you are looking for.
I'll say, from what I know about it, Shattered Star may be the way to go for you. In addition to the above points, it works as a tie in to RotRL as well.
I have been part of a few APs so far and I recommend against Wrath fo the Righteous since it incorporates the mythic rules and that is a whole other set of rules to learn and get used to. It's a fun game so far, but more complex than it seems you are interested it.
Skull and Shackles was a lot of fun to play and doesn't seem like it would be difficult to run, at least my GM didn't seem to have any issues. It's nontraditional but that's not always a bad thing.
Reign of Winter was a lot of fun to run, though I didn't finish it. It involves some additional rules complexity a few times and involves some pretty gonzo moments later on. It's a great campaign, but might not really be what you are looking for.
My group just finished book one and given the feedback on these boards I am going to be changing a few things, namely removing the boons that the group gets through the first few books. There are a few things in book one that I will need to take away but my players are pretty good sports and should be okay with losing abilities they previously gained, especially if I explain why I'm doing it.
These bonuses include the benefits for cleaning up the Gray Garrison, Terendelev's scales, and boosts to the campaign traits.
Given everything I've read that won't be all I have to do to even things out but it should go a long ways toward helping. My group also just lost a player dropping from four to three and I'm handing out levels instead of XP so that should also help a lot.
I thumbed through a copy because I was thinking of picking it up to run as a one off and got the impression it could easily be self contained. I considered, if I remember correctly, placing the hut in the wilds of Irrisen and tasking the party with entering so as to rescue Baba Yaga. The fact that the hut is a portal through space is a fact that can come as a surprise to the players later on.
I also recommend against two characters. I have found that multiple characters adds to the complexity and confusion of the game. My suggestion instead is to let them make gestalt characters, that way they can cover more party roles without having to run multiple characters. With only two of them I also suggest you let them be a level or two ahead of where a normal four character party would be.
On the other hand, I'm not entirely sure I'd keep subscribing to low-level adventures if given the choice. I've got SOOOOO many it's not even funny.
This is exactly one of my major concerns about the modules line in general. If you look upthread at some of the numbers the line weighs far too heavily on low level content, a fact that I find disappointing.
I'd be happy to see a module starting at level 17 or 18 and going to 20 with a tie in to the APs or not. I'd just like to see support for the upper levels of play with published adventure content.
I don't think 'part sevens' are a good business strategy overall because it ties the success of one line to the success of another line rather than letting it stand on its own, which has been the apparent strategy so far. We have two distinct adventure lines, one for long campaigns and one for stand alone modules. Each fills its own distinct demand.
My regular players got into doing that some time during 3.5 and they still do it now. Sometimes they will change the name of a weapon, such as the cleric in my Wrath of the Righteous game changing the name of her +1 morningstar from Rat Smasher (the name the mongrels gave it) to Skull Crusher, which is what she does with it when her dice keep rolling 20s.
d20 Apocalypse (I could be mistaken on this source) for d20 Modern had a bit about running a typical D&D game set after a global apocalypse. The only things that were different was window dressing. Weapons and armor were made from salvaged material, dungeons were old skyscrapers or other such ruins, etc. It was a pretty neat concept.
The party I have running through it right now is Oracle, Magus, Barbarian, Fighter, and Ranger. The Ranger was playing an Alchemist but he died.
The adventure has a fun, old-school feel, but not one-page dungeon old-school, more 2E kind of feel. It's innovative an fun. For my group they are able to dish out a lot of damage but the lack of a rogue has made some locked doors and traps difficult obstacles, as can be expected.
The Alchemist died because he closed with a melee based monster and started beating on it with a mace while the rest of the party was still closing, so it turned and ripped him to shreds with a critical.
To echo what others have said, the module accepts a lot of different classes equally well. It is beneficial to have a social-based character but is by no means crucial. Ultimately, play whatever grabs your fancy.
From what I can tell they are about the same length as far as page count and adventure content is concerned, though the DungeonAPs may be a tad longer. The big difference is 3.5 characters advanced in level considerably faster than in Pathfinder so levels 1-20 was more easily achievable given the size.
To foster the spirit of community I let this one slide in that if one guy wants to loan a book to his friend so she can play a certain class even though she doesn't own the book, I'd rather see her having fun then telling her she has to stick to the CRB classes. I figure, as long as the player is holding a copy when they sit down to play, or I have seen them with one before, I'm cool with it.
According to the author (I think I read it from him) there was an encounter at the quarry that got cut for space. Alternatively there is plenty of option for encounters in the Dragonfen while the party is traveling to and from the crypt and the monastery.
I ran about half the module with handing out XP but then I opted to drop it and just let the party level when appropriate. The module is divided into pretty logical places to auto level with each dungeon being worth about one level. The padding with all the quests became more bookkeeping that I wanted to deal with after a while. However, because of the layout of the module, it doesn't feel rushed.
The event I organized ran with three tables and each one of them failed to ask where Torch could be found. If nothing else is altered I recommend giving the location of the bath house during the briefing. The table I ran almost used the magic stone to call back and ask where to find him. I had the customs agent give them the hint as well.
I'm probably going to sound REALLY old here, but I played 2E 20 years ago and the optimization and broken character myself and others built was kinf of absurd. I could crank out some pretty disturbing combat focused characters once I pulled in the different handbooks and setting specific books while a friend could do the same with casters. So the optimization was still there.
As was stated above a few times, sharing those optimizations without the internet as prevalent was not as easy as it is today. However, the big difference here is the complexity of characters. Pathfinder characters have a ton of options between class abilities, racial abilities, feats, and all the alternates and so on. PF characters are considerably more complex than 3.x characters because each one has more options to pile on.
And this is where I feel the power level of high-end characters comes from. Compare a level 15 fighter in Pathfinder to a level 15 fighter in 3.5 and the number of feats alone shows a significant rise in power. So, designing adventures for low-level, and to a certain extent mid-level, characters does not require a major departure from D&D philosophy, however, high-level characters have left the predecessors behind and so the philosophy of design is different.
All of this, I feel, boils down to the simple fact that characters in PF, especially once Mythic Adventures is added on, are different beasts entirely than they were in other games.
It is very definitely based on AD&D. I was just thinking that although High level Wizards were more powerful than High level Fighters in AD&D, it wasn't really an issue, it was just accepted (and was reward for Magic Users being walking tombstones at low level).
AD&D also had the added balancing factor of each class progressing in level differently so they weren't balanced based on level but on amount of XP earned.
As far as the casting times here, I'm not as adept at system mastery to give detailed feedback but it looks effective enough though, as mentioned, metamagic might mess with it a lot. I'm curious how it plays out.
I spent some time championing high-level adventure content and now I have a whole AP geared toward high-power play (though mythic is not really the same as straight high-level but that is beside the point) so I'm certainly not complaining. However, the more I read the more concerned about this I get. It is probably unfounded but I guess we will see.
My WotR group is moderately built, moderately played, however, I have two two-handed warriors wielding greatswords so I know damage output is going to be immense. I also have a cleric and a sorcerer/rogue. The cleric gives me pause once she hits high level but the sorcerer does not since he is dual classing and his mythic path is going to be trickster, leaning more heavily on the rouge aspects of his character. I am hoping that my group is more in the middle ground of player/character ability that is mentioned upthread.
I am keeping a close eye on these boards for advice to alter the game if I need to.
I used to run for a group that had attention spans shorter than APs. It was really frustrating because I wanted to do bigger, more epic plots, but they got bored and wanted to do other things after a little while. I ended up making and running smaller plots for them.
I suggest the new modules as an alternative. You can play a story that covers a few levels and still get a sense of completion. Dragon's Demand is a damn solid start to such a campaign.