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KnightErrantJR's page

FullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 5,464 posts (6,280 including aliases). 69 reviews. 1 list. 1 wishlist. 2 Pathfinder Society characters. 14 aliases.


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I think sometimes the reluctance of players to learn a new system is predicated on the assumption that a new system will require the same level of investment to learn that d20 games generally require.

I have seen people pick up pretty much most of the ins and outs of Savage Worlds at the table, the first time they play, without ever having looked at a rulebook.

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baron arem heshvaun wrote:

Like taxi cabs in the rain in New York, you can never get a Grognard when you need one.

:: casts Summon Knight Errant JR ::

Man, those summoning spells can work slowly at times . . .

Is it bad the first time in a long time that I started to get Realms ideas circulating was when I was reading through the 13th Age Beta rules?


Dragnmoon wrote:
KnightErrantJR wrote:
He's gone, you don't need to keep kicking him. Don't worry, you got rid of the undesirable.
I must missed the whole thing that made this come back...

There was a comment, by a Venture Captain, no less, referencing the incident again, connecting it to the monk controversy at the moment.


Well Bob, you are correct about how your post comes across.

Perhaps I shouldn't confirm that given that geographically I'm under your authority.

I check in once in a while, hoping that the culture has shifted back to when I was running things. Eventually I see that things probably won't ever be like that again, and I don't post for months.


Some, but not all, reasons for the exodus are here:

History Lesson


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Last year the rules of PFS changed to disallow animal companions to use weapons, and a FAQ post made it more difficult to control animal companions. Since that time there have been multiple references to a particular character that have been in error, and this continued misinformation casts a friend of mine in a poor light.


The original concept of the "Ape with a hammer" came about from several of us discussing what you could do with an animal companion after a session of Pathfinder that I was running (I believe that I might have been running Council of Thieves at the time for my group).

Many of us thought that an ape with a weapon would be an interesting concept. None of us thought it would be a game breaking concept that would ruin the game or anyone's fun.

The primary player that was interested in this option was a friend of mine (going by Brother Elias on these boards, when he still posted) who was rebuilding his character with the release of the Pathfinder RPG.

At the time he had a druid with a dog animal companion. The dog was incredibly dangerous in combat. I'd venture to say that the dog was a much bigger threat than the ape ever was.

Wanting to see if he could do it, he rebuilt his character as a cleric with the animal domain (cogent later in this discussion because people, when discussing animal companions and the need for handle animal, continually reference druids and rangers who have that as a class skill, when clerics with the animal domain do not).


The character was generally fleshed out and my friend posted the concept and the relevant details in the PFS general discussion. Josh Frost, who was, at the time, the campaign coordinator, approved the build, and even went so far as to include language in the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play to point out that an animal companion with the proper limbs could actually hold a weapon.

Again, this is important because the concept was not anything done in secret. It was something presented to the campaign coordinator and the general PFS public, and it got the green light.


Before the character could even be played, clarifications regarding the boon companion feat altered the build. My friend didn't complain, nor did he lobby for any changes. He simply changed his rebuild before he ever played the character and made adjustments.

This is important because my friend did not complain and lobby for changes whenever something did not go in his favor. For the most part, if the rules say what the rules say, he adapts accordingly, especially if he is allowed to, or has time to, change anything that might be dependent on the ruling.

Don't Listen to Developers if They Don't Have on Their Official Hats

The above became much more important as PFS wore on, but in the early stages of PFS, just after the release of the Pathfinder RPG, we didn't know that some developers, designers, and editors didn't have "official" weight behind their comments.

It was bluntly stated by a member of the Paizo staff that animal companions whose intelligence score goes above animal intelligence allows them to learn common and allows their master to issue them orders in common instead of making a handle animal check.

This was commonly mentioned on the boards, all over the place. It was an assumption by at least a visible portion of the community that posts on the boards. This assumption was never challenged by anyone at Paizo until later on.

Your Existence Offends Me

This is the one that really bothers me. At least one PFS player at a local convention, after the convention was over, came on the boards, here, and complained about the existence of the ape animal companion.

If there had been an issue with the rules, or with the ape domination combat or various scenarios, I could understand the concern. The problem is, the complaint centered around the existence of the animal companion.

I was there at that convention, in most of the sessions with my friend and his characters animal companion. Not only did the animal companion not dominate any scenarios, but my friend quite often held back and didn't send his animal companion into situations because the group already had eidolons and animal companions from other characters rushing into combat.

In fact, said character died and had to be raised in one scenario that weekend. The ape didn't make him invulnerable or make the scenario too easy.

This was something that began to sour me on some PFS players. I can understand someone saying that a given option makes combat too easy or invalidates other players, but to just say that a concept is offensive just seems to be very bitter.

I could complain about, for example, a group of characters from Osirion that introduced themselves in each scenario as terrorists and made ululating noises as they threw bombs, and perhaps I should have. However, it was very ingrained in me not not make waves against someone's concept of a character they are playing.

Rules Changes and Clarifications

As a result of this complaint, there was a deluge of players that apparently are offended by weapon wielding apes. Apparently weapon wielding apes are too much for people to stomach, despite the existence of Mwangi in the setting.

Apes with weapons were banned.

Now, here is a point of misinformation. While my friend was upset that apparently his character option was banned by committee, he was still willing to change his animal companion. He didn't take his ball and go home. The only thing he really did was point out that he got the concept okayed before he ever did it, and pointed out where it was spelled out in the Guide, mainly to counter the flood of people that don't know him and never played with him that suddenly started saying that he was intentionally trying to "pull a fast one."

Then, hot on the heels of the "apes with hammers" ban, the FAQ that mentioned that animals of any intelligence still need to be controlled by handle animal in order to be given orders in combat.

Again, my friend was fully willing to comply and alter his character, but when he asked about being able to retrain his skills so that he had ranks in handle animal, he was told that the FAQ was a rules clarification, not a change.

So despite the fact that a good percentage of the board assumed that intelligent animal companions could be given orders, and despite the fact that a Paizo staffer had mentioned this, a very strict "no rebuild" was laid down.

Even at this point, my friend briefly considered just adding skill points as he got levels, but, this being the cogent point, a cleric does not have handle animal as a class skill. It would have taken him multiple levels to get to the point to where he could actually control his animal reliably, since he couldn't rebuild.


On top of all of this, sentiment in the PFS threads turned very ugly. Many people ascribed motives to my friend, and many others continued to make comments that he should have "known" that he was "gaming" the system, even with approval.

Other people were decrying the concept and deriding him for even attempting the build in the first place. These comments were harsh and uncalled for, and increasingly added motivation and untruths into what actually happened in this situation.

It became very clear to both of us that if enough people didn't like your concept, it could be "voted" out of existence. It also became clear that even Venture Captains were piling on with the harsh commentary and vicious characterization.

Neither one of us play PFS any more. Every once in a while, I check back in, because at one time, I invested a lot of time and effort to get it going in my area, but the culture, at times, strikes me as increasingly elitist and insular.

I know this probably won't quell all of the comments about the "guy breaking the rules with the over powered super ape with the hammer that ruined Pathfinder for everyone," but it's hard for me to still see comments by people this long after the fact maligning my friend over this issue.

He's gone, you don't need to keep kicking him. Don't worry, you got rid of the undesirable.

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The most annoying part of this entire situation isn't even the rules change/clarification, it is the attitude adopted by many that if you interpreted the rules under the less restrictive form, that somehow the person that did so was clearly not paying attention/comprehending how Pathfinder works/trying to game the system.

Given the number of people that seem to have interpreted the rule in it's less restrictive form, it would be nice if people would simply acknowledge that perhaps the rule, if intended in the stricter form from the beginning, was not as clear as it could have been.

Alzrius wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Spells with extra oomph for being cast as good spells are a great idea, as are a lot of the others that came up in this thread. I've got a lot of thinking to do...

Say it ain't so, Owen.

I really don't like the idea of a "good" version of hellfire magic. Since most games feature good-aligned characters anyway (unless you're running an evil campaign, or have one of those "I'm neutral to avoid alignment-based effects" players), this is essentially giving the vast majority of all PCs a free bonus when using such magic. Likewise, what's the thematic opposite? That evil characters really want to use these spells, but have to grapple with going to the good side? That seems a bit silly to me.

The whole thing also smacks of unnecessary parallelism. Must everything have an opposite equivalent?

By itself, the idea of "good-based magic" isn't a bad one, but make it function differently. Make it the first example of creature-based magic, and have it be the spells that only angels can use (followed by some mechanics that let mortals spellcasters access that same power).

Agreed. While there are other things you could do with "cast it for extra effect and X happens," just making good spells that do the same as the evil ones doesn't feel that evocative for me.

In part, evil tempts and corrupts. "Have some extra power . . . don't ind that blemish on your soul. Hardly felt that, did you? Why not do it again?"

Good, on the other hand, is something that you work at or that comes to you when you really, really need it, not when you want it.

My wife and I both loved it. Highly recommended.

Macona wrote:

People will buy this for nostalgia's sake and then never play it (or at most play the odd one-shot session).

I don't quite understand why they're doing this. Is it just to grab some quick profit by tugging on people's heartstrings?

It doesn't take much of a glance around the internet to see there are a ton of RPG gamers that are playing retro clones or even just playing 1st edition, 0 edition, AD&D, etc.

But what's wrong with people buying something out of nostalgia?

I'm just curious if anyone has used these extensively in their campaigns.

If you have, what are the pitfalls in interaction with other rules that might not be foreseen?

Does it feel like encounters remain similarly balanced to what they would be under the core assumption?

Do classes that really get left behind on the armor curve have get some use out of armor under these rules as the levels advance?

If I had more time to just run some encounters with these, I'd be interested in trying them out, but as it is, I'm not sure I can tinker with this much myself ahead of time, and I'd hate to drop these into a campaign sight unseen.

Rite Publishing wrote:

I wanted to thank KnightErrantJR for taking the time to do a review of our product, I have passed along a private message offering a refund, and attempting to address his concerns. '

Steve Russell
Rite Publishing

I just wanted to publicly say that you guys really are a class act. In fact, I had read the product a few days ago, and stalled off on reviewing the product because I really have enjoyed previous releases and didn't want to write a negative one.

I certainly don't want to give the impression that I think the product was shoddy, nor do I expect that every GM or play group will have the same problems with the product that I had. My review was totally informed by my own experiences, which I cannot assume to be the same as any other set of experiences.

I also hope that people that have read my review have found enough details to understand if your mindset is similar to mine.

By no means do I want a refund. I certainly don't feel cheated. This just wasn't what I was hoping it was. What I found wasn't poorly written or poorly edited or poorly put together, it just wasn't what I was hoping it would be.

For what it's worth, I do wish we could go "halfsies" on ratings, so that I could at least throw a 2.5 on this one to indicate that it wasn't primarily a bad product.

Thank you, once again for the offer, but there is no need to refund any money on my behalf. I'm just sorry that the stars aligned this way so that my first review for one of your products in a while wasn't something that came across better to me.

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So, let us assume for a moment that you have a rogue that eventually becomes a skilled swashbuckler . . .

However, in his humble beginnings, he was both a white mag . . . er . . . cleric and a black ma . . . er . . . wizard. However, he was never really good at magic despite this fascination with it.

Could said character remain primarily a rogue while still reflecting his woefully neglected talent in black and white magic?

There are numerous reasons to use an AP that made sense for me when I was running Pathfinder (I'm only playing at the moment):

1. The first AP I ran was when I came off of a campaign where I was trying very hard to tailor the campaign to the specific characters in the game, and just got burned by a player leaving the campaign while the party was exploring her "leg" of the overall story.

2. Pathfinder, like 3.5 before it, has a ton of options. The narrowed focus helps to streamline the time a GM might lose in trying to figure out exactly what he wanted to do, what NPCs to use, and what monsters to showcase.

So essentially, I could tailor parts of the AP to players, but not worry about a major story arc falling apart if someone left, and while I could always replace and/or customize monsters and NPCs, if I did not want to do so, I did not have to, because there was an assumed baseline.

As has been said, its not really laziness that drives a GM to use an adventure path. In many ways, they allow you to channel your creative energies more specifically instead of on the broader aspects of the campaign.

On the other hand, those APs that have gaps in there that say "the GM can fit something in here to bridge this gap" do tend to be less attractive if you want your extra work to be "above and beyond" and not "needed to keep the campaign going."

Fire Mountain Games wrote:


I don't think there will be a tiefling specific article. I don't know that there is that much that needs to be said. Or perhaps more accurately, I do not believe there is that much that needs to be modified. A group of tieflings can pretty much follow the campaign as written.

That said, there will be at least one more "Deeper Shades of Darkness" article dealing with running a party of vampires through Way of the Wicked.

Way of the Wicked could easily be not just Pathfinder's first villianous adventure path, but also the first VAMPIRIC adventure path. Of course, that is completely optional.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

I guess I was just thinking more along the lines of how the typical Talingarde folk would regard stranger folk wandering in their towns and the like, depending on how well disguised a given person might be. That sort of thing.

The vampire article sounds interesting.

I enjoyed the exploration of alternate set ups for the campaign that was in this volume. Any chance of something that looks at how other races might figure into the campaign? For some reason I'm getting in my head that this campaign might be a good one for dhampir, tieflings, and the like to show up as PCs.

Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Cormyr would be a fairly easy conversion for the campaign. My recommendations...

** spoiler omitted **

Anyways, just some ideas.

Hope this helps,
Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Nice . . . some thoughts of my own:

If you want to incorporate "wronged" power groups that have an axe to grind with Cormyr, and you set this pre-Time of Troubles, or even eliminate the event from your Realms, you could make the wronged organization into the Fire Knives, and make the patron god involved Bhaal, who was LE and might feel pretty slighted that Azoun pushed out the assassins guilds from Cormyr.

Also, later in the campaign whilst looking for someone of royal blood, it helps that Azoun doesn't have a male heir and in Cormyr the odds that one out of four adventurers is a bastard of Azoun are pretty high (only slightly kidding) . . . ;)

I actually like slotting this event into Cormyr's timeline better than the whole Devil Dragon thing that happened.

robertness wrote:

I just imagined a case of dragon "organ donor" syndrome.

An ancient dragon lies on his death horde. He summons an alignment appropriate fighter to his lair.

Dragon: Sir Kilzalot, I've long admired your bravery and the good work you've done with widows and orphans.
Kilzalot: Thank you, you're too kind.
Dragon: In gratitude for the valor you showed when we fought the hordes of nastiness at the Battle of Randomsite, I will grant you one dying boon. When I die, please take my hide and fashion armor from it so you we can continue to fight together.
Kilzalot: Score! *cough* I mean, I'll wear it with honor.

That would actually make for a nice counterpoint to the RP scenario I was proposing above.

"No, really, he told me to skin him and wear his scales. I totally respected him. It was a gift, I swear!"

I always wanted to have a human priest of Apsu show up in a fairly large city like Absalom or Katapesh during a campaign and start buying up dragonhide. Basically he would be taking the items and putting them to rest out of respect for Apsu's children.

I didn't have any grand plan for this guy, other than to have him show up just to pose the question about wearing dragonhide or making dragonhide objects.

It's not something I would have been too heavy handed with ("your alignment is going to change now that you've been enlightened and haven't changed your ways!"), but it's the kind of roleplaying conundrum that is fun to throw into a session that is otherwise pretty straight forward.

I run most of my games in a game store, and depending on the RPG in question, might have almost completely different people from one game to the next, based on who has what night off and who signs up first.

It's not just a matter of "gamer maturity," it's the difference between a group that is composed of people that were high school buddies that have gamed together for 10-15 years and know each other quirks and gaming styles, and people that may have been playing for just as long, but have never sat at a table with the GM or the other guys at the table before.

Having "best practices" to fall back on really isn't a bad idea, and even though I've been gaming for 25+ years, once in a while I don't mind rereading advice that I've heard before, to remind me why it keeps coming up.

If I get comfortable with a group, and I know what pushes their buttons and what doesn't, I can figure out where I can deviate from "best practices" and where I can't. But a brand new group, or a group that still has decidedly different quirks as to what they do and do not enjoy, you need to remember the basics and build from there.


Yeah, that's the crux of the whole bit here. No one is saying that if someone directly violates Pharasma's tenants(i.e. creating or controlling undead in a manner not used to destroy other undead) that they would loose their abilities. The discussion has been, how is a power or effect having the name "undead" in it automatically antithetical to following Pharasma.


Joseph Caubo wrote:
This thread seems to been derailed way beyond the realm of PFS and into the larger world of Golarion itself. Seems like a move to a different forums would be beneficial, as I think this falls more under the purview of James Jacobs than M&M, despite having potential PFS ramifications.

I respectfully disagree. This has to do with the rules as applied to PFS, not the setting. No one needs roleplaying tips. This is about how a GM will react to a character brought to his table using a rule that is applied to that character.


Pirate Rob wrote:

I don't have any issue with the Dhampir cleric of Pharasma. I do have a tangential rules question though.

Normally: "A cleric who chooses a subdomain must have access to both the domain and its subdomain from her deity (see Table: Deities of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting)."

A quick reading of separatist seems to me like it gives your cleric access to domain not on your list. As far as I can tell this doesn't include access to any subdomains at all.

Am I reading this right, or have I made a mistake somewhere?

I would be inclined to include subdomains, since the entire point of the archetype is to allow access to something that isn't on your deity's normal list.

That having been said, if it is specifically intended to not include subdomains, that is something that should also be spelled out, and not left for individual GMs to have to interpret.

Well, again, that's up to the GM. Plus it has more to do with the AP in question than the general Pathfinder RPG rules.

Right, you can take more than one archetype, but you have to decide on your archetypes when you make the character to begin with, even if you don't swap out any abilities at 1st level.

That has nothing to do with multi-classing into the same class more than once.

Hah, I found the reference about Absalom and hand signs. There was a feat in the original (3.5) campaign setting hardcover that talked about natives of Absalom using hand signs.

However, this wasn't so much a distinct language as a feat that made you good at teaching your companions a unique set of hand signs that gave them a competence bonus on your bluff checks to communicate hidden messages.

Every so often this comes up, and I remember it, but I don't think that feat or the tendency of people from Absalom to make up hand signs for the people that are "with them" has come up in any other products referencing Absalom. I could be wrong, but it seems like I always have to go back to the original campaign setting to find the reference.

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No class inherently has any legal standing in any campaign.

An inquisitor is a class. That class is suppose to sniff out enemies of the faith if they are hiding or before they attack the faith. They are simply the sneakier, more proactive side of a cleric or paladin.

Any legal standing an inquisitor has would have to do with the actual campaign.

An inquisitor of Asmodeus in a campaign set in Cheliax would mean that character probably has a lot of pull with the local authorities, but it's still the GMs call.

An inquisitor of Erastil from Andoran in that same campaign that is trying to make sure if events in Cheliax are likely to harm is treasured homeland is probably going to have zero standing in the same campaign, and probably doesn't want to advertise his presence if he can help it, again, subject to how the GM wants to run it.

So it's not a matter of anything inherent in the class, it's a matter of the GMs campaign and how much pull the inquisitor's faith has in the setting, as well as if the PCs inquisitor is in favorable standing with his own faith.


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Andrew Christian wrote:

The only reason I can think of, that someone would choose to create this character concept, is because they think its cool to flaunt RAW vs. canon in GM's and Developer's faces. Otherwise, you could create a separatist Pharasman cleric without having to go straight towards what she is Fanatical against.

Except the person in question has explained why he wanted to do this, and provided background information. If, after reading his reasoning, you would still conclude what you have, you must assume that he is being duplicitous in his stated intentions. Why?

Beyond that, why is this legal choice subject to such debate? Again, I'm not arguing that if someone created undead, or attempted such, Pharasma wouldn't yank her spells from the cleric. There are mechanics for that laid out under cleric and the atonement spell.

Would you make a dwarf proficient with a scimitar explain why, despite his cultural bias towards axes and hammers, he's taking a scimitar as his weapon of choice?

Maybe it bothers some people that a dwarf would use a scimitar, and it intrudes on their fun at the table. Do you want to take up table time with the dwarf justifying his weapon choice, because if not, clearly he's doing something to take advantage of the rules somewhere down the line, because its not normal in Golarion canon for a dwarf to run around with a scimitar.


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Sure I can. It doesn't create undead. It doesn't control undead. I see no problem with it. She wouldn't grant it to her normal clergy, no. The problem being, the archetype, again, which is legal, is to create borderline heretical clerics.

There is zero point in the archetype being legal if possible applications of it can be ruled as invalid based on a GM judgement call.

In Prince of Wolves they mention Pathfinders having a hand sign language, but I don't know if that has ever been mentioned in any of the setting's game sourcebooks.


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Getting back on topic, how is using the abilities of the undead domain automatically violating Pharasma's dogma?

We have a clear line. No creating undead. No controlling undead to do anything other than destroying other undead.

If the domain is not used for anything under the above, what is the problem?

To use another, in game, analogy, let's say in order to hide from a priest of Urgathoa, someone in the party casts an illusion to make them all look undead.

Is this promoting undeath? Does the cleric of Pharasma in the party have to refuse to be part of the illusion? Will they loose their spells immediately if they accept the disguise?

The ability, again, is suppose to create characters that might be pretty close to being called heretics, without breaking the inviolate line of sins against the god's dogma.

There seems to be two options here. One is that someone goes through and says what, even with the archetype in question, is and isn't acceptable, or the archetype isn't allowed in PFS. Otherwise, why worry about what someone else does with their character?

It just seems like a lot of people invest a lot of their own personal stake in what is fun for them on if everyone else at the table is having their kind of fun, which seems to be rather intrusive for the other people.


I really think this discussion would be much more constructive if we refrained from trying to use real world religions as examples when we are talking about game rules in a fictional setting that deal with a god granting spells.


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The . . . ahem . . . drop dead point in Pharasma's religion is creating undead, or controlling them to do anything other than destroy other undead.

This is a matter of following the god's actual dogma to not loose spells.

However, the character in question is not looking to create undead. Giving his companions the seeming abilities of the undead is not creating undead. None of them actually become undead.

Would this make traditional Pharasmists feel squicky? Probably so.

Again . . . isn't that the point of the archetype in the first place?

Which brings me back to the original point. If you are going to expect GMs to micromanage the One True Vision when something is perfectly within the Rules as Written, then isn't it better to just disallow something in the first place.

And if you want it allowed, know that it will be used as intended, as written in the description of the ability, to make characters that push boundaries.


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There are so many things I've seen in Pathfinder Society that I, as a GM, never thought to question, because if it's legal in the rules, and that's how the player wants to run the character, then I'll run the adventure, and we're all good.

It is strange to me that at one point it seemed that Pathfinder Society was to highlight the campaign setting, but now we seem to expect people to be well versed in the One True Vision of the setting to know when something is legal by RAW, but not by the consensus roleplaying opinion.

If this is going to be such a roleplaying hassle, why is it legal? You could have a true neutral cleric of Urgathoa with the healing domain, legally, with this. Should that be banned too?

How do you know that somewhere, out there, in the great beyond, some other god isn't pulling the cleric's strings and making him think he's getting his powers from Pharasma? It's not like it's going to come up in an organized play campaign, because nothing is tailored specifically for the PCs at the table.

I'm not even arguing that this particular example should or shouldn't be allowed, I'm saying that the class feature is pretty much tailored for creating heretics. It says so right in the text.

If it boils down to assuming everyone will agree on what kind of heretical behavior is "too far," then perhaps the ability shouldn't be allowed in the first place. If it is allowed, given the nature of organized play, you should expect some strange combination of clerical abilities.

Okay, it's official. I actually want to run another Pathfinder campaign, and I want it to be this one. Don't have time to do so yet, but I wanted to see another adventure or two before we get going anyway.

Really impressed.

I was intrigued enough to pick this up. I haven't read it in depth, but it looks great. It might even tempt me back into running Pathfinder at some point in the future.

I still want to reserve a bit of enthusiasm until I can really pick this apart with a good read through.

I'm not sold on the Focus and Foible thing, but I love the traits being based on the character's crime.

Kagehiro wrote:
Pathfinder has taught me that Hero Points only excel at one thing: failing TWO Saving Throws.

And that's why you save up two of them to cheat death . . . ;)

This is the AP that kind of broke me of running Pathfinder. There is lots of promise in the overall story, and the Sixfold Trial is one of the finest commercial adventures I've ever run. It was great.

The problem is, there are several parts of the AP that just don't quite connect the right way.

I'll try to list my biggest problems with the AP, and why I just really ceased to have fun with the whole adventure path by the end of book 4.


1. The opening of the AP really pulls a few bait and switches, and can give PCs the wrong idea about the whole point of what they are doing.

The Player's Guide says that the PCs should have a problem with Westcrown's government, and want to change things.

Janiven's speech makes it sound like the group is going to be in full, open rebellion, but then the adventure proceeds to explain that the point of the Children of Westcrown is to make the town a little better and deal with crime, not address the tyranny of the government.

Finally, the PCs are invited to meet with the group, and immediately they get screwed, through no action of their own, into being fugitives. If the Player's Guide had mentioned that they would be on the run, or even begin as recruits of an organization that was potentially on the run from the law, this might have been different, but it just says that they should be willing to work against crime and corruption in the city.

My group ended up having a lawful ex-military dwarf that wanted to work against crime and corruption in the Dotari that was ready to turn Janiven over to the Hellknights after her speech, and a chaotic bard that was ready to kill everyone in power in Cheliax. It did not make for a good start to the campaign.

I probably should have seen this coming with the set up, and warned the PCs about the instant fugitive beginning, but I didn't.

2. The adventure gives you some vague hints about how to find the hideout through the sewers, but then, if they find the hideout, it screws them over, because the point of he sewers are to wander around in the sewers until the PCs get a level. Not the most compelling beginning to an adventure.

I made this a bit more fun for the PCs by having them run into the goblins in the sewers while they were having a "torble slurping contest," where they saw who the toughest goblin was by seeing how much damage they would take from slurping the acidic innards of the torbles jiggly bits.

3. The end of the first adventure, the PCs may not be the right level (even with story awards that amount to giving them a ton of XP for crossing the street at the right time), so to fix this, the GM is told to have them do a few missions for the Children which are vaguely sketched out, but without any stats, essentially telling the GM that he's got some encounters to plan, and that he should make them make sense.

Between the "wander and have random encounters until you level" and the "do some missions that the GM has to come up with until you are the right level," this just didn't really feel like a complete adventure.

4. Delvehaven wasn't bad, but by the end of the third adventure, you kind of had the idea that vampires are involved, and that the missing Pathfinder is the key to the Shadow Curse, but if the PCs turn left instead of right, they get an artifact that blows up vampire boss creatures super easy.

5. Also, another example of a great idea that was kind of clunky in execution, the Devildrome was a neat idea, but was so vague in how it worked, with strange rules that seemed to exist solely for the purpose of having the rules work however the PCs needed them to work "you can summon things, or you can fight someone's summoned things."

Some more work on how that section worked overall would have been nice, especially if the PCs would have visited the place later on their own.

6. The titular Council of Thieves was hinted at in book one, and by book three, it's a non-entity. In fact, if you do shift to focusing on the Shadow Curse, it doesn't seem important at all. Sure, the tiefling assassin was tied to the Council, but there really isn't a good way for the PCs to figure this out.

7. "All of the sudden . . . " seems to be the mantra of this adventure path. Just when the PCs think they are going to go after the vampires, "all of the sudden" the mayor's house blows up. Then "all of the sudden" there are agents of the Council of Thieves "doing something," but hey, they must be important, because they exist.

8. This book begins the cavalcade of nuisance encounters. Many of the encounters both with the thieves and the monsters in the Nessian Spiral are pointless. I'm not talking about encounters that the PCs will win easily, I'm talking about encounters where the PCs aren't going to get a scratch on them unless 20s are involved on one side and 1s are involved on the other side.

9. Having a lot of things with low will saves in one area makes for an anti-climatic session if you have a bard or a enchanter in the party. A few bricks that "mind trick" vulnerable is fine, but most of the heavy hitters in the Spiral suffer from this problem.

Which means you just had cakewalk encounters followed up by "one shot" will save encounters.

10. There is a lot of talk about binding and contracts and the like, but in the end, having the contract, as written, makes it slightly less likely that the pit fiend will kill you. Having his soul object will make him slightly less likely to kill you. You can't rebind him or fix the bindings, because the pit fiend is suppose to get out to fight you.

In fact, somehow, to keep the pit fiend from breaking out, you have to destroy his cage and then kill him.

It seems like perhaps there should have been some way to rebind the pit fiend or fix the situation instead of breaking it out and then killing it (which, to be honest, has happened potentially with Malfeshnekor in Rise of the Runelords and the Daemon thing at the beginning of Legacy of Fire, meaning that AP regulars might get a bit annoyed at the pattern developing).

Not to mention the disconnect between having a powerful LN outsider bound to keep you out if you aren't suppose to be the "master," but that won't show up to help you enforce the contract if the pit fiend breaks out.

And the fact that the pit fiend and it's allies seem to want to cause chaos as soon as they can get out of their contract seemed a bit off as well.

I had to start throwing hints out to the PCs that there was actually a bet between Asmodeus and Mammon over control of Westcrown, and that Asmodeus was allowing the devils to run wild as a test of loyalty to the Chelaxians.

On top of that, I was angling towards explaining that if Mammon won, he got a little more freedom to follow his agenda and openly have worshipers, but ultimately he was still going to be following Asmodeus.

11. I never started running Mother of Flies, but lots of it involved more nuisance encounters. I know Paizo staff as said, before, that sometimes nuisance encounters let the PCs feel powerful. That's only true if the encounter has something fun to it, and if it takes "some" effort to defeat.

12. This adventure also had the colossal task of explaining the parentage of the main villains, who, by the time they find out about them, don't seem to have figured into much of anything.

Then they get to try to explain why the Council is important, why the PCs should care about a schism in that Council, and who the main villains are.

Then they get to save Westcrown from the Shadow Curse in time to find out that the threat that we've spent most of the AP building up to isn't the main threat, and the PCs don't get to enjoy saving the city, because "suddenly" the city is in greater danger.

13. The AP wraps up with "the city is falling apart, wander around and have encounters until you are the proper level to deal with the main villains."

Oh, and now you can spend those fame points that you spent the whole AP getting and couldn't use up until now to do stuff like convince people to help you deal with the city falling apart, which you could probably do anyway without introducing a new mechanic just for this purpose.

14. The main villains are suddenly important, but following why they are is kind of sketchy, especially when it involves devils being able to just claim souls without really having the charm of all of those neat, convoluted rules that usually make devils interesting.

"We get to claim her soul because your dad was a jerk, hope she doesn't turn on you."

15. While it is unlikely, you can have your PCs spend months and months devoting themselves to the salvation of Westcrown, "suddenly" the House of Thrune could show up and raze the city anyway.

There are lots of things that could have been done to fix this.

Mother of Flies and the Infernal Syndrome being switched would be good.

Having more encounters that had to do with a developing gang war and how it was making the city less safe would have been good. At least one of these kinds of encounters should have been happening per adventure, with lots of hints that the Council was suddenly more aggressive and trying to subsume smaller operators at the cost of the citizen's safety.

Having more of the "wander around to get XP" encounters fleshed out and connected to the story would be good.

Having fewer nuisance encounters would be good.

Having Fame Points be useful to help the PCs through out the AP instead of being a mechanic that only gets used at the end to do what the PCs might be able to do anyway might be nice.

Having the PCs perhaps being able to rebind the pit fiend or have the contract mean something other than "get into the room without fighting yet another outsider" would have been good.

Explaining why Mammmon's plan and the rampaging devils under Liebdaga were actually serving law with all of their destabilizing random destruction would have been good as well.

In fact, the more I think about it, this whole thing would have made much more sense if the secret shame of the family was a demonic blooded teifling taking over the Council and summoning a demon prince to thumb its nose at Asmodeus in his own territory.

I just burned out on the plot dead ends, holes, and disconnects. Plus getting all set to run encounters that were either cake walks or were resolved with bad will saves, or with the provided "I win" button against undead.

Lots of promise, my players really wanted to run around Cheliax after all of the build up in campaign material, but in the end, it felt like the AP was a casualty of putting out the RPG.

Last Thursday I learned that killing 30 town guards with a cloudkill spell instead of rescuing orphans from a burning building is bad.

Last Friday I learned that if the first roll of the game is a 20 on a knowledge check, you will never, ever roll well on a stealth check for the rest of the session, even if you are at +18.

I had a chance to play in a bySwarm game introducing the setting at Winter War run by Mike Bohlmann, and I had a lot of fun.

Setting aside that Mike is a fun GM to be in a session with, the setting looks different and interesting with some interesting twists that still work with the high fantasy vibe in the game, but doesn't mimic the usual.

Looking forward to seeing the products when they come out.

Maddigan wrote:

I hope Gabe doesn't start out at high level. If 4E becomes problematic past level 12, the same will be true of Pathfinder. You get some really whacky stuff in this game as you level up that it takes an experienced DM with a strong understanding of the rules to deal with. It will help that his players won't be very experienced, but might not completely negate how powerful high level Pathfinder characters are.

Some of the more recent posts on the site have indicated that Gabe has been discussing things with other gamers and has found that high level, across the board, can be problematic.

I don't want to speak for anyone, but I believe Maddigan's comment was not about the content of blood, but the difference in focus when it comes to scenes of conflict . . . i.e. some opponents in anime might get taken out in droves within a few seconds while the hero heads for the big bad guy, in cut scenes that show the minions flying through the air, whereas most of us picture the landing at Normandy as a slow, deliberate slog towards the objective, with people being shot and screaming in pain and falling down in slow motion.

I think the comment was about focus and pacing rather than gore.

Coldman wrote:

There is a difference between realism for the sake of a time sink, and realism for the sake of authenticity.

SWG was a sandbox. You did not have to spend hours crafting a blaster. SWG had a very effective economy and functional craft system of any game, arguably still surpassing Eve Online. You had a large avenue of options in how you acquired your blaster.

You prefer blowing up death stars, that is your preference. Some never fired a blaster in their lives but enjoyed the same space that you did. You both relied upon eachother and fed eachothers experiences. Modern games have such an emphasis on playing to the action heroes that social aspects of MMORPGs and non combatant roles are obliterated. Such roles RELY on reliance(?). I never had any trouble using dancers in cantinas (that sounds rude), or acquiring gear from crafters and that stretches out into my other sandbox experiences too. I enjoy playing both instant thrill roles, and social roles; the latter requires a certain amount of difficulty in specific tasks, equal to what you'd expect to be made difficult in regards to 'killing things'. Your simply arguing that this aspect of sandbox games should be dumbed down for your own benefit. You can happily argue this point but it can never be accepted as a truth as we simply differ. I want nothing more than a game which allows such playstyles to co-exist.

If you need an example of an unorganic system where one playstyle is catered to and the other ignored: World of Warcraft. You rely on nobody. The world is not an organic system, the players do not function as the circulatory system. Perhaps they once might have when the game was difficult and required an able guild, but this was still a micro-organism than that of anything substantial to the game world.

Thriving communities are what have kept older games running to this day despite total neglect from their developers; they don't age the way content does. For this area of the game we need crafting, politics, roleplay, in depth trade skills such as...

My point, regarding Star Wars Galaxies, is that if someone comes to the game because they are a Star Wars fan, which seems to be the point, then they get to the game and find out that a large portion of the game is about playing Uncle Owen, it might be disappointing. Yes, you could choose your focus, but that didn't stop the first mission my Twi'lek scout was assigned from being to kill Corellian butterflies so that so guy could use them for something . . . and they still kicked my ass.

You may not go into a Star Wars game thinking you are going to be Luke, but you sure as hell at least want to be Wedge.

That doesn't mean that a certain percentage of players liked the persistent world elements of Star Wars Galaxies, but it never became the big guns MMO that it could have because a lot of Star Wars fans, when they saw the intensive complexity of the game, and didn't see a lot of swashbuckling space opera, didn't want to give it a whirl.

What I am saying, regarding Pathfinder Online is, if this is inspired by how well Kingmaker went over, look at how Kingmaker did it, and figure out how to translate that into a long term MMO instead of a pen and paper version of the campaign.

Kingmaker actually goes quite the opposite route than ultra-realism at times, because building phases and resource gathering/management is done fairly abstractly. I agree, cater to more than one playstyle, because Kingmaker allowed for players to roam around killing monsters, micromanaging the building of a Kingdom, and playing political games.

However, what I'm seeing in a lot of places is "don't make this like WoW because I don't like WoW," and "I've always wanted to live in Golarion, so make me a fantasy world simulator," and I don't think those goals are exactly what the game should be about. Heck, some people actually like Pathfinder and WoW, so perhaps the game shouldn't totally alienate them.

Doesn't mean the game should be a clone of WoW, just that having a guiding principle of "make is as un WoW like as possible" might be counter productive.

Disclaimer: I'm probably not the best person to be discussing this. I've kind of moved on from Pathfinder. If anyone cares about the reasons, or wishes to put things in context, I've called it out here, but I do still play in my friend's Pathfinder campaign:

It boils down to too much splatbook material, too many adventure paths that seemed really great but then had stretches of “howabout you figure how how to get from A to B and we'll pick up the story later,” coupled with “here's an encounter that will take forever to set up but is so overbalanced in the PCs favor that it's pointless to actually play out.”

Add to that the assumption that more books than the core are needed to run an adventure path, that high level adventures have encounters that seem like they will be really important, but the bad guy has some really bad flaw like a low will save that will sink the encounter in one round, and the fact that Pathfinder Society seemed like there were almost daily rules rewrites, and that rules questions were answered with “can't you figure that out, you are a GM,” and “We could answer, but we want to think really hard about the answer before we answer that question, and that could take a while because we are busy writing new rules,” as if the rules hadn't been playtested to begin with.

Killed my enthusiasm quite a bit.

Anyway, here is my take on MMORPG concept, and people wanting to have a world simulator. I've been in this boat a few times. I've even been on the side of making things super detailed and deliberate before to simulate living in a given world.

I wanted that in Star Wars Galaxies and I even wanted it, to a lesser degree, in DC Universe Online. Star Wars Galaxies probably did it more effectively than any other MMORPG I've played, and when I got what I asked for, I hated it. Turns that that, while I wanted to live the Star Wars universe, the reason I wanted to live in the Star Wars universe was that people jumped around having lightsaber battles and flying starships and getting into dogfights and fire fights.

Spending hours in a cantina watching dancers to rebuild some status bar that I'm sure why I need to rebuild, or working hours upon hours to build a halfway decent blaster or a hovel to live in oddly didn't quite match up with defending Echo base from AT-ATs or blowing up the Death Star.

Despite this lesson, I fell into this mindset again when I was playtesting DC Universe Online. I was very put out that my character had to have equipment to boost his stats. Sure some heroes need that kind of stuff, but I wanted to play a magical blasting sorcerer, and one that didn't need upgraded gauntlets or boots or belts or what have you.

I've recently gone back to playing DCUO now that its free to play, and honestly, it plays fast and combat is like comic book fights, which is what they should be like. It's appropriate for the genre, and the upgraded equipment tends to “run in the background” and give you a more immediate reward than just XP awards would grant. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it is a better handle on the superhero genre than I originally gave it credit for, because I wanted it, when I was playtesting, to be a DC Universe world simulator, except that isn't really what I wanted. I wanted to feel like my character was doing what I read characters in the comics doing.

What I'm saying is not that there should be no changes to the MMORPG paradigm, but what I am saying is that “make it more real” and “make really fiddly time consuming sub-systems” isn't really innovative. It's been done before, and while I know some people loved Star Wars Galxies, for example, it never really got the penetration that the property should have generated.

I think it's probably best to, instead of trying to imagine you are living in Golarion, try to picture how to capture the feel of what the inspiration material is. Look at Kingmaker, think about what works, and try to figure out how to capture that in a MMORPG. Once you get the feel of the game right, everything else is a matter of tweaks, bumping the investment to reward ratio.

I'll drop back into lurker mode now, but everyone have fun and play nice.

EileenProphetofIstus wrote:

Did this book cover any Legion of Super-Heroes members or their villians.

Several Legion members plus the Fatal Five, off the top of my head. And if you count the Great Darkness Saga, you've got Darkseid in there as well. ;)

Matthew Winn wrote:

Are the original 7 heroes/villains appearing in the new book? If so, I could skip the core and just use my M&M 3e book to save money then. I was interested, but didn't want to spring for what was essentially the same book.

Yes, the original characters presented in the Hero's Handbook will be in Heroes and Villains, and in fact they have a few tweaks based on some of the comments on the forums about what may or may not have been included in their stat blocks.

The only downside to what you want to do is that you'll be waiting until Volume Two for people that fall after "K" in the alphabet.

Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:
Grant Morrison is.......brainstorming......even as we speak.

Ah, is that it? I thought I heard bong water bubbling.

Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:

Except maybe they can destroy the new universe Crisis style in a few years.

Then they can Hypertime in some of the "old" Jim Lee designed characters a few years after that . . . it's like an endless cycle!

I am growing to hate immediate actions, more and more, and Paizo has introduced quite a few of them these days.

It's not that I, as a GM, want my players to die, or not to get bonuses, or what have you, but when I'm juggling X number of bad guys and trying to think like the guy I'm portraying, and remembering all the rules and the scenario I'm running, the last thing I want to do is to hear, in the middle of what I'm doing . . . "wait, before you can do that, this happens."

Not only does it disrupt the overall flow of initiative, and not only does it interrupt my GM concentration, it also gives the impression of the guy that has the immediate actions as having multiple actions compared to everyone else in the party, especially if they say, move, ready an action, use their action when readied, and then use their immediate action.

It's a pain, and I thought with it being a known issue it would have been avoided a bit more than it was.

Capt. D wrote:
I believe that Superman is the only one that is getting a major reboot in this. If I remember correctly Grant Morrison was given leave to completely redo the origin and history of the character. Of course none of this was motivated by the lawsuits or DC's potential loss of any parts of the Superman mythos in the coming years. This was a completely spontaneous creative decision....yeah.

It's hard telling, because DC is becoming more and more evasive about what is and isn't changing. In fact, the more people don't seem to want a reboot, the more DC is putting out disclaimers saying that maybe they oversold the whole "Brand New DCU" concept.

If the Tim/Cassie/Conner/Bart Titans are just now getting together, it's a pretty major shift in things, and even if the story is set in the past, Wonder Girl as some kind of shadowy figure and the weird mutant Witchblade girl are new, and bumps Arrowette and Secret out of the whole equation.

Johns and Lee talking about giving the Justice League a "cool" origin is another point of concern. And do they mean this Justice League, or the whole concept of the League? If it's the whole League, having Cyborg as one of the "big seven" pretty radically alters his history with his fellow Titans.

And of course there is the fact that the Red Hood and the Outlaws blurb really makes it sound like Starfire is a new arrival and Roy's history goes straight from Green Arrow's sidekick to the current book.

My fear is that we will never really get an answer as to what is or isn't the baseline, and it will shift, and if something is contradictory, we'll get new Hypertime. Which means there is no point to all of this.

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