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Angvar Thestlecrit

Kolokotroni's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 8,429 posts (8,457 including aliases). 18 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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Fencer_guy wrote:

Since it seems like people don't use XP all the much what do you do when you have a player who does almost nothing. They are like murder hobo or something close to that. Then you have the player who does extra things like draws a pics or has a deep background for the character.

Do you have rewards for that? What are they?

I had one GM who would reward with Universe Questions. You could ask the universe any question or favor and you get it with no questions ask and no GM trickery.

It was also hard to get them and you really couldn't bank them to use them later.

I use a variant on hero points.

Ways to earn a hero point? (no maximum, unlike paizos version)

1. Write a background for your character
2. Draw/create/obtain a character portrait representing your character
3. Create a free standing nametag integrating your character portrait and your name that can be seen and read across a table
4. Painting/obtaining a specific miniature that represents your character
5. Writing an in character journal entry recounting the events of a session.
6. Be particularly helpful to the dm in some fashion (judgement call, but things like going out of your way to pick someone up, picking up stuff, bringing something I need to the game, putting in extra effort at setup and cleanup, etc)
7. Do something especially awesome or amusing in game.

Things you can do with a hero point.

1. Change any player rolled die to a value of your choosing. The player must consent to this change.
2. Prevent any character from dieing, they are unconcious and stable instead.
3. Get a hint or other guidance from the gods in line with some current task.
4. Make some minor narrative alteration to a situation, like stating that you remembers your bow, even though its usually slung on the saddle of your horse that you didnt bring. Or that obviously you keep your extra lockpick in your boot. Or, clearly you wouldnt have gone to the formal ball without changing out of your dirty bloodstained adventurers closed. Stuff like that.

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I have run 2 player pathfinder games before quite successfully, even with published adventures, and didnt need to run dmpcs.

The key is the gestalt rules from 3.5 unearthed arcana. Each player effectively gets 2 character classes each level, choosing the higher of each stat (saves, bab, skill points etc) and gets the class abilities of both.

If you add to that careful choice of character abilities to make up for the action economy loss of only having 2 pcs you dont have to make any adjustments.

Specifically, the classes with capable pets are most valuable here. At the top of the list, the druid and the summoner. For all its problems, the summoner is great in a small party game. The druid too with a potent animal companion means the party doeasnt really lose out on actions. If you add to that classes that complement them well you can have a fully capable party with just 2 players.

Things to avoid are the single stream classes, you want versatile characters. Aside from the druid and summoner, some of the best choices are paladin, inquisitor, rogue, alchemist, hunter, blood rager, ranger, magus, warpriest, etc.

Something like a druid/inquisitor and a summoner/paladin can work exceptionally well as a full party.

I also give them a high point buy with the understanding that they wont be maxing out single scores but instead spreading it to add versatility.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I too dont use xp anymore, one more bit of accounting i dont need to do. Characters level up when its appropriate for the story (I use adventure paths now, so that dictates the pace). I also always keep the whole party at the same level, the idea of punishing someone for missing a session is more or less stupid to me. They already missed out on fun with friends, that is punishment enough, and it causes way too many other headaches to be worth it in any way.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Are there improv groups/classes available anywhere in near you? Roleplaying is very close to improv, and while not all games are meant to be funny, the quick thinking, collaborative effort that is improv commedy massively overlaps with roleplaying.

In the end, all the background, or character development you create ahead of time doesnt mean much if you cant think on your feet at the table. Improv classes are a fantastic way to practice that kind of behavior. If there arent formal classes, look up some excersizes on line and see if you can get some or all of your group to practice some of them.

An old podcast I used to listen to Narrative Control did a short series on a couple 'icebreaker'/'improv' games tailered to the idea of roleplaying games.

Check out their Scalagrim the Barbarian Prince excersize around 4 minutes into the podcast here

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One of the most important 'little' things I have seen great dms do, is employ different voices for important npcs. It doesnt have to go so far as elaborate accents worthy oscars, even just slight changes in inflection, or a change of pitch or tone. As long as its consistent it can really draw you into interaction with those characters. Particularly when you get to the point where the dm no longer has to say 'so and so says...' but just speak in the voice and we all know who is talking.

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I would check out roll 20. It is the simplest of all the virtual table tops and now has direct support for pathfinder, including adventures you can buy directly to run in roll 20, build in character sheets etc. It also requires no installations, as its all web based, its built in voice and video are also useful, though many use skype or something similar instead due to technical issues.

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Xexyz wrote:

@Kolokotroni - Sure, the wizard can reduce her exposure by keeping a low profile after the conflict is won, but that's only viable if she doesn't do all the work. Otherwise the new rulers are going to have a hard time gaining the respect of the remaining nobility since it would appear as if they simply rode the coattails of the wizard and have little competency of their own. It cannot appear as though the wizard is the sole reason for the aggressors' victory, even if that reduces the odds for victory in the first place.

Why? In this case, the wizard is a weapon of war. The president of the US does not himself invade countries. He sends his military to do it. Does the fact that F-35 fighter bombers and attack helicopters do the fighting for him somehow lessen the impact of the president ordering the US military to go blow something up, instead of humping C-4 in himself to do it? Did the fact that the fight of the first Persion Gulf War was over before a single soldier put his feet on Iraqi soil somehow lessen the impact? Honestly, I think people would have more respect for someone who uses the tools at hand instead of needlessly sending his men to slaughter other citizens would be seen as a good leader. Or do you think say, ordering a seal team to take out a group of terrorists holding hostages is a sign of weakness because a full military invasion wasnt sent?


(Also, from a more practical, meta-standpoint, if the wizard does all the work, that doesn't leave any room for the PCs to participate meaningfully in the conflict.)

The pcs being involved in an open battle isnt a good idea anyway. Its too big a scale. they should have a specific small scale, him importants, high difficulty task anyway. You know, like a special forces team. If the wizard isnt in the party, he can gate them to a key location to take and hold a gatehouse or something (letting the invasion force into the city for instance). They shouldn't do open battle with an opposing army.

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Why dont you talk to the players about what kind of game you want to play and what yours and their expectations are. Then see if maybe you want to take the game in a different direction, and possibly alter characters a bit. Rather then trying to 'teach them a lesson' why not have a conversation with them. You know, as if you were playing some sort of game, with your friends, for your mutual enjoyment.

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DM Under The Bridge wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
So much stuff in the game makes no real sense, and this is what snaps your suspenders of disbelief? People fire bows and swing swords waaaaaaay too fast, too. The square-cube law isn't even a thing.

Pfft, after two months of archery, I could draw, knock and shoot two arrows accurately in under six seconds and I'm still a noob. Bows can be shot very fast, the history of steppe peoples tells us this, and martial artists have been able to swiftly do long devastating combinations since time immemorial.

However, early gunpowder weapons simply could not be loaded in the PF times. I've observed arquebusiers (so much smoke!) loading in haste. The fast loading times are not close to what is possible with such tools.

Accurately at independently moving targets while someone is tryin to kill you? Because there is a massive difference between 2 shots at a stationary target on a range and in the middle of a fight at moving targets that want your life.

Early fire arms in pathfinder are not arquebusiers, they are muskets, probably late era flintlocks. Well trained troops could fire those about 3 times a minute. Add in alchemical cartridges and the fact that pathfinder characters are superhuman by level 6 and the rate at which a pathfinder gunslinger can fire a gun is no more redicululous then the barbarian who can fall 500ft head first and only be minorly inconvenienced.

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Slamron wrote:
Lorathorn wrote:
I was uncertain of wanting to participate, but I think that I shant pass it up should they do a third.
Even though I have more minis than I'll ever paint now, if they do a third I am in as well. They're super.

At this point its a matter of value and options. After my 2 rather large bones backings, I will likely never paint ALL of them. But the more options I have, the better the chance of when i need something specific, I'll have it available. And god knows the value is so good, I dont have to paint all of them to get my moneys worth. '

I am honestly really happy about the bones line in general and the success of the kickstarters. Bonsium is a great mini material. Heck it took me around 20 minutes to assemble Khanjira after I washed and let dry the pieces. Do you know how many hours a metal model of that size and complexity would have taken back in the day to put together?

That and I think many of the sculpts this time around are even better. Particularly in the area of female minis. I have always felt like I had a limited set of quality miniatures for female characters. This one more then bones I has greatly expanded my options there.

Anyway, if they do a bones III I will probably buy in, and do so gladly. Even though I will probably still have bones I miniatures to paint by then, let alone II

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Xexyz wrote:

The war has to be won in the correct fashion in order to create the desired political climate once the war is over. Can the wizard simply slaughter the enemy armies before they even have a chance to engage with the aggressor army? Sure. But the aftermath creates a more difficult situation for the aggressors once the war is over. The perception will be that the wizard won the war, not the aggressors, which paints a big target on the wizard's back and diminishes the perception of the aggressor.

You are creating an artificial and irrational situation. The wizard only has a target on their back if they remain a public figure. If at the conclusion of the battle they go about their business as a citizen, no one is going to know who was throwing meteors and tsunamis except the leaders of the aggressor force (who are presumably not hostile). It would be trivial for the wizard to hide his identity from everyone else involved, except possibly a caster of comparable power.

As for the 'right way'. This is a fantasy world is it not? This wizard I presume is not unique to the world as the only wizard or other high level caster? The means by which an army wins a war rarely influences perceptions negatively. In fact, big flashy new things often have a positive effect. Do modern armies suffer for having precision strikes from modern aircraft? Casters are the MRLS rocket systems and F-35s of the fantasy world. We still say the United States bombed Iraq, not 32 F18s bombed Iraq. Again, it would be trivial for the wizard to make clear who he is working for.

Also, chances are flashy magic will actually reduce casualties. Shock and Awe exists for a reason. Meteor swarms and tsunamis might kill SOME enemy soldiers depending on placement, but they are also going to demoralize them alot faster then a smaller enemy force would. Dropping a few deadly spells into enemy formations is likely to create a lot less dead people overall, since fighting enemy soldiers, even with unfavorable conditions, is a threat that can be responded to. A near godlike wizard raining hell from above (or from completely out of sight) is more likely to create the shock and awe effect, and get the enemy troops to surrender.


Furthermore, there are important factions not directly involved in the conflict whose allegiance must be won. The good aligned faith organizations for starters. Minimizing - which, again, is different than eliminating - casualties and limiting collateral damage shows them that the aggressors simply aren't the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss.

The wizards efforts are not likely going to influence this. Again, chances are throwing around some magic into battle formations will actually save lives in the end. A bit of public relations can play off that. Either way, SOME people will have to die, the wizard at least will be more controled and less likely to have collatoral damage then an army.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Its going to be a lot of work in the last few books of any ap. It isnt just a matter of shifting numbers on statblocks. Many times there are specific abilities the party needs access to that are trivial or at least easy for a higher level party, that a P6 party simply wont be able to do. Pathfinder above like level 14 is a completely different game. P6 is like game of thrones or lord of the rings. 14+(the end of APs) is Justice League

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Malwing wrote:

Sensory overload man! We're swimming in a quagmire of splat books feats and classes, we can't absorb it all! There's only one sane solution left!


...And start a new edition.

The whole 'the only way is a new edition' thing is like saying, There are too many clothes in my closet, i dont know what to wear or what I have, so let me throw away all my clothers, and start over building a wardrobe.

Sane people suggest, reoganizing your closet (possibly buying nift organizers to display things better), or simply pairing down your wardrobe to the stuff you actually like, and look good on you.

Me, I like my huge closet with all sorts of clothes, and I'll thank you not to blow up MY closet too because you are unhappy with yours.

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Did you just say the shaman put the druid out of business? The druid? Are you serious? It doesn't have near the combat power. It might be a better 'caster', but it doesnt have an answer for wildshape or the best of the animal companions (namely those with pounce) not even close.

You can not like the hybrid classes. But to say they dont server a purpose is simply false. They make certain concepts easier to put together. The only thing i would say i agree with you on is the arcanist, but it still doesnt replace either the sorceror or the wizard in theme or function. Nothing except the rogue has been replaced except in games that are completely absent of optimization, and that is only because the hybrid classes make their respective concepts easier to put together.

Other then the rogue, no class from anywhere in the game has been replaced in what it's best at. Its just that more of the gaps in between what each class does best is now more filled in.

Basically. More concepts can be done well. As opposed to having to choose between what is effective, and what fits your concept. They serve a purpose to those of us that prefer base classes that come in a nice neat package. I dont have to mess with archetypes that may or may not do what i want, or fiddle with feats to try to make things fit. I want to buckle some swash, i have a swashbuckler. If I want a face beating arcane character, i have the bloodrager, if I want want sherlock holmes, bam investigator. Are there some problem options in that book? Sure, but there have been in EVERY option heavy rpg book. Most of the classes, if taken on their own, and for their respective concepts are good ideas, that will be fun to play.

And if you honestly, disagree, fine, dontuse them. I am seriously getting tired of the end of the world threads. No one is putting a gun to your head to force you to buy more books. Heck, paizo offers them up for free for reference if say a swashbuckler turns up in an adventure. This costs you nothing you dont want it to. Others on the other hand, will have lots of fun because of it. Get over it.

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Malwing wrote:
Petty Alchemy wrote:
Power creep is when the current best options become worse (even if by a small amount) than the new options.
Does that even happen? I t always seems like I reach outside the Core rulebook for flavor over power. I know there are some things but it usually involves an option that was more 'least terrible' than 'best'.

It has in certain areas. If you wanted to play a dex based highly skilled swashbuckler type, you have waaay better options now then you did in the core rules, or even the core+apg.

But is there something in the game that is going to outclass an optimized combat druid with natural spell and a pouncing companion? Nope. I dont think so. You might be able to match it with a different concept, but not outclass it.

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To me, there has not been power creep. If you didnt compare invididual options against eachother, but instead gave an objective (this is theory) 'power rating' to each option presented in each book since the core rulebook, I think both the average and the standard deviate would be roughly the same.

In every single book, we have had some options that were probably too powerful, a good chunk that were just about right, a majority that are just bellow par, and then a few that are really poor. Both the spread of the power of all the options in the game, and the ceiling and floor have remained the same. If you take a core optimized party through and published adventure, it will rofl stomp it just as hard at pretty much everything currently available. Particularly if you (as I do) consider the advanced players guide as part of the core rules, since that is pretty much what set the tone of the whole of pathfinder.

What has changed, is that more concepts have good options. Things like a fighter mage (magus, bloodrager), or the rogue (slayer, ninja, investigator, or various bard archetypes), or the dashing swashbuckler (swashbuckler), can be done pretty well at this point, where as early on if you wanted ot play with that concept, you struggled. To me that isn't power creep, thats gameplay improvement.

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I have a question regarding the greater bond talent
"When the dracomancer casts a spell, rather than cast from her position, it is cast from her draconic companion’s position. The spell uses the caster level, ability scores, and magic items of the dracomancer to determine its effect. However if it requires an attack roll the spell does not take effect until the draconic companion’s next turn when, as a standard action, it can make the required attack roll with its attack bonus."

What about effects that dont require an attack roll, but instead require a touch, or something similar. For instance, if a dracomancer wanted to at a distance cast barkskin (which has a range of touch) on his draconic companion, and had this talent, how exactly would that play out?

What about personal range spells (which due to the share spells ability may be cast as range touch on the companion), like say elemental aura? Do they occur when the dracomancer acts? or does the dragon have to spend a standard action on their turn to touch themselves?

What about a non-hostile touch spell on another character? If say the dracomancer wanted to cast barkskin on the fighter standing next to the draconic companion, would that take effect when the dracomancer acted, or the dragon?

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kjdavies wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

I realized that I might be doing the same thing I am accusing you of doing kjd, and not explaining well enough.

On the issue of 3rd party material you bring it up as if it is a problem. However in the other bloat threads, this has not been brought up. That leads me to believe that you are making a common mistake I see around here. You are confusing what may be a problem for "you" as a general problem for "the game".

There can be a huge gulf between "I don't like X" or "X is bad for me", and "X is bad for the system overall".

Heh, I was just thinking that last night -- I am not articulating my point clearly enough.

I don't see the volume of content available as a bad thing. The volume of content causes certain challenges, further increased by third-party content.

I don't think that is a wrong thing. In fact, I changed the base of a game I'm working on from D&D 3.x to Pathfinder specifically because of the increased volume of information readily available.

That said, I still think there is more available than should be practically available at the table. Reducing the amount used to a reasonable subset that covers the options you want to explore will make for a more coherent, more cohesive setting.

I use a ton of content. Depending on the campaign, I have dipped into all the hard cover rulebooks, and many of the setting books, as well as countless 3rd party products. The thing is. Never is all this in use at once. As a player, I am creating a very specific subset of rules for my characters. Once i make a choice, all the other things that could have been taken in its place. I certainly dont know what every feat in pathfinder does. But I know what MY feats do. I dont know what every spell in pathfinder does, but i have spell cards printed for the spells my character knows.

As a dm, I allow my players pretty much free reign. They just have to come to me with anything outside the core rules they want to use. Usually that comes in the form of a specific base class (either from paizo's extended library or 3rd party) and then the things to support that (spells and feats specific to that class' bailiwick). That makes things pretty easy to manage. I only have to know what the npcs in my game are capable of, and what my party is capable of. At no point do i need to deal with the unweildy variety of options that exist in the whole pathfinder space. Before each session I review what npcs/monsters are in the plan, and I have a digital reference (the prd and srd) for when odd things come up. I dont even carry books to games anymore (though I have them for the joy of perusing them myself).


I'm happy to see more choices available, a larger palette available for painting the setting and modeling the choices within it... but there are practical and thematic reasons why I think using the entire gamut is a bad idea.

Certainly not every option makes sense for every campaign, both practically and thematically. I just think if people actually engage with their players as dms and work out the options that do fit both the character idea and the campaign idea, it makes things a lot easier. I often find myself suggesting options to players to fit their characters and my story's theme during the character creation/leveling process. By engaging with them, I know what spells/feats/etc their characters use, and thats all i have to know (plus what my npcs/monsters use). No need to deal with the 'entire gamut'. I am just dealing with 4-5 character sized chunks of it.

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This product is making me wish I was playing a core class. That is no small praise. I havent played a core character since 2010 or so. Now to get my whole group to buy a copy and drive up sales!

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hmmm... you turned your what kolo wants thought detector on again didnt you? Its highly suspicious that I would come across this some 2 hours before i leave for my first session of a mythic game I am joining...well, at least i know what im reading on the train.

Now just tell me the advanced classes version is on the way...I am playing an inquisitor after all(which I presume your thought capturing device has told you). I want mythic judgements!

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pennywit wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
For instance you dont want an antigovefnment, loner character showing up to a kingmaker campaign where the whole purpose is to create and rule a kingdom.

Actually, this could be entertaining.

GM: "You are going to be a team of mutants, feared and hunted by the government ... "

Player: "I'm Wolverine."

GM: "You are the Praetorians, an elite guard dedicated to defending Empress Lahnsa ... "

Player: "I'm Wolverine."

GM: "You are members of the magical community, struggling to keep back the tide of the supernatural in a world that does not hear things that go bump in the night."

Player: "I'm Wolverine."

GM: "The Computer wants all of you to be happy. You must seek out and destroy agents who would oppose the Computer."

Player: "I'm Wolverine."

I can make for an entertaining story, but that isn't the same as an entertaining game. Think about how often wolverine derails x-men stories? In an actual rpg session that means that actual people (controling cyclopse, storm, etc) are sitting around twiddling their thumbs for hours of actual time while wolverines player ignores the situation at hand to go chase down sabertooth or some other personal side quest.

At the very least this should be an informed and discussed choice that the whole group is aware of. Out of place heroes can make for really great stories, but they can create serious problems in an actual game session.

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ElterAgo wrote:

Was the player of the bard told that a significant portion of the enemies would be automatons before he made the character?

if no, then I kinda see where he is coming from. I mean yes, the character may not know what is upcoming, but it is usually a good idea to give the player some ideas on the campaign. For ideas look at the players guides for the published AP's. I would also let him rebuild the PC (with the warning that 1 trick ponies often have that problem).
If yes, I have much less sympathy for him. However, I would still let him rebuild the character.

I completely agree with this. Not only for the fact that it prevents things like an enchanter showing up to a campaign full of mindless creatures, but it also helps players make characters that would naturally be a part of this story. Personal investment in the thing that they will be doing (whatever that might be) can make a big difference in how the campaign will go. For instance you dont want an antigovefnment, loner character showing up to a kingmaker campaign where the whole purpose is to create and rule a kingdom. That sort of information should be passed along prior to character creation. I too would allow a rebuild of the bard character (even to a new class if neccesary).


I personally don't like the whole concept of 'level appropriate' encounters. But I do know that currently a significant percentage of the gamers feel it is an expectation. That is something that should be discussed as a group before the campaign even starts.

To be fair, in PF it is often fairly difficult to be able to know that you can not handle an encounter until you have already started the fight and are getting your ash kicked. At that point it is usually very close to impossible to get away (at least without sacrificing several members of the party).

Meh, one fireball should clear out all the lizard folk. There is no way to know that the lizard folk around the leader have 6 levels of barbarian and that the leader is an 11th level druid. Ulp! We should have run.

This is also true. Its not like the look of a thing can tell you how dangerous it is. A kobold with 12 levels of ninja, is way more dangerous then the far more visually imposing CR 3 troll. If you want to include encounters that arent meant to be taken head on, this has to be handled both in and out of game. Out of game, talk to your players about the stlye of campaign they are in for, and let them make characters that fit it. If your campaign requires lots of sneaking, research and careful planning, the dumb raging smash everything barbarian isnt a good fit.

In character you should be giving hints, there should be build up, with possible skill checks (usually knowledge checks) so players have some idea they are approaching encounters not meant to be taken head on. If the only way to know this is when the big monster has already taken out a party member, its too late for them to realistically do anything about it. Running away is actually very hard in pathfinder, theres no simple way to break contact in an encounter. When movement is turn based, and the group doesnt have military style organization so that choice to retreat is universally and simultaneously followed.

Also as to the specific example, I'd like to repeat what would be my signature on these boards if I could have one.

Single enemy encounters are ALWAYS a bad Idea. Any encounter that could be good with one enemy, will be better with many. Its certainly ok to want to challenge your party, but particularly when theres more then 4 of them, the way you do that is with MORE enemies, not one single more powerful enemy.

The reason for this is simple. The game doesnt work that way. Each character gets one set of actions. Until we get boss monster rules or something like that, a single enemy will either be overwhelmed by the action economy of numerous player characters, or, as in the case of an ambush, it will go first, and consequently be a disproportionate threat to any single character. Keep in mind, when I say have more then one enemy, I dont mean to add throwaway minions. You can have those too if it fits, but there should always be more then one enemy in an encounter that is both a threat to the party AND important to whatever if going on. Want the big bad wizard? Sure, go for it, but also have his bad ass leutenant(s) to help him deal with the insuffarable heroes.

Like I said, with effort, environment, good planning, tactics, etc, you can make a signle enemy encounter work. But it would have universally been a better encounter, working better within the pathfinder rules, if you had additional enemies in the mix.

This is seperate from the level appropriate challenge issue. I am talking about when designing an encounter that is meant to be a fight the players partake in. And an ambush certainly is such, they dont have a choice about engaging in it in the first place.

This isnt a matter of 'fairness'. Its a matter of fun. I have been in encounters where there was a single enemy that just crushed someone the oppening turn. And while that can make for a dramatic story, it makes for a lousy game. The person who was taken out (possibly killed) doesnt just get beat down, but is effectively barred from playing in (at least) that encounter. That can be anywhere from minutes to hours of real time the player isn't playing. That is a universally bad thing. That is not to say I somehow thing players should never go down or be killed, but if they are one shot by a foe too powerful for them to defend themselves from, then they never had a reasonable chance, and simply being the first target sealed their fate to do nothing for what might be a large amount of actual time at the table. I dont know anyone who things not playing a game is as much fun as playing a game. Do you?

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pennywit wrote:
I would encourage you to either use the downtime rules (with capital) or use the kingdom-building rules, rather than both. They're both pretty paperwork-intensive, and they address two different things. I'm running a Kingmaker campaign right now (with mythic). We're already doing the Kingdom-building rules, and my players showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the downtime rules.

My take on this is to leave it open for players to use if they want to. If you are building a kingdom obviously the kingdom building rules are a must, but just offer the downtime rules if someone wants to take on a personal project. There are also ways for things to interact, for instance many of the kingdom buildings are listed in the downtime rules, so rather then having to start from scratch its possible for a player to be granted a building as part of his or her office, like a garrison for the general, or a noble villa for the ruler.

I found that the capital rules are someone appropriate, since for instance, a word from the kingdom's general ought to carry more weight then the character themselves might have the skills for. Capital spent on checks accrued from control of the city garrison might make alot of sense there.

Either way, I think kingdom building is a great way to handle a sandbox campaign. If gives the players a foundation to build on, and it gives the gm obvious hooks that arent particularly railroady. I found some of my groups best roleplaying happened in our kingmaker game, because it gave us something to work with that we all shared.

I would suggest if they do found a kingdom to have them spend a bit of time both in and out of character working out the social structure and the laws they are implementing. My group drafted a rather lengthy constitution, and aside from the rp fun of arguing it in the council meetings, it also gave us a foundation on which to interact with the npcs. We had a defined place in society with rules that were important to us (since we as players created them), and it made things far more interesting dealing with the various challenges of the story.

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Paladin of Baha-who? wrote:

Oh look, it's this thread again.

I just want to address one point that Wiggz made: that Paizo has refused to update the 3.5 adventure paths besides RotRL. Well, considering that three out of six of the CoTC books, all of the Second Darkness books, and five out of six of the Legacy of Fire books are all still available in print as new, Paizo would have to basically consider all of that as a loss in order to give those APs the compilation treatment like RotRL got. If nearly all the AP's books were sold out, there'd be more of an argument for it, and if any AP were to get that treatment, I'd expect CotCT to get it since it's generally considered the best of those, and it's the closest to selling out in print.

Its not just about existing books being out of print. Its about the sales of CURRENT adventure paths. If paizo thought it economically viable, they could give the RotRL treatment to ALL older aps. Its not a matter of staff or resources. I know this to be true because they put out the anniverary edition of rise of the runelords while putting out 2 APs that year. There were some difficulties, but they still did it. If they wanted to, they could do it again.

But that would be bad for paizo. Their economic model is of subscription, and of high sales on their CURRENT AP. While they obviously want to sell leftover copies of old books, they need the current adventure path (and other new products) to be flying off the shelves. THis is what drives their business, keeps paizo products on game store shelves, and what keeps the game in the minds of the general rpg community.

If they started reprinting all their old aps in a big hardcover, 2 things would happen. One, people would consider not buying the new ap, and waiting for the hardcover of a given adventure path even if they want that adventure. The next problem is that people who are deciding what to buy right now, might look at the hardcover reprints as more attractive and decide to go with those adventures right now.

Basically. Not only is it a bad idea for paizo to reprint old aps, its bad for people to even THINK they will reprint old aps. So, baring exceptional situations like the anniversary edition of runelords, we arent going to see it. Period. Maybe at the 10 year mark we'll get a second darkness reprint. Thats probably as much as we can hope for.

Also, everyone who claims that paizo could cut down on 'crunch' and release more adventure material is ignoring realities of the industry. There are customers, who either wont buy, or will invest a limited amount of their gaming dollars into published adventures. Some people dont buy them, others only buy what they are planning to actually play. Many of those customers also tend to buy more rules material. If I am running my own campaign world, Ultimate campaign is obviously far more useful to me then a new AP for example. Even character option books like the advanced players guide are more likely to see use at such a table then an adventure that will never be run.

If paizo recuded the output of the rpg line, it wouldnt increase output in other areas, it would simply decrease paizos sales. They are already putting out more adventure material every month then the vast majority of groups could ever hope to play. More isnt likely to be a good investment on paizo's part.

There isnt some magical way for that to work out. The rpg line fills a different need, and a different portion of the market then adventures. This isnt a zero sum game here. Less rules doesnt mean more fluff. It means less products.

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if he wants to keep his roguishness but wants to be better at combat, why not look at the slayer from the advanced class guide? A lot of similar theme, but much better combat abilities.

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1. Start with cheap buildings, 10bp or less. Its tempting for instance to take advantage of the discount and build a castle first (if your city is at the stag lords fort). But I would get your economy going first. Remember if you are using ulimate campaign instead of the rules int he AP that means magic items dont generate build points, the only way to improve income is through your economy roll. Make sure your other stats stay near your control dc, but mostly focus on economy.

2. I tried to never go under 5. You never know when a random event will mess with your consumption, or require bp.

3. Good, this is the best thing for a new kingdom, their stats are most of your bonuses to start the game. If you can, get them items to improve those stats.

4. The black market is of little benefit if you are using ultimate campaign. You cant sell items for bp. Its cost doesnt match its benefits.

5. Eventually roads become very useful, they add to your economy, and improve travel. Build them as often as you can along with farms, mines etc.

6. keep 5-10 in reserver as you build. Once things get moving, start saving for bigger buildings. If you are building at the stag lord fort, start with a castle, lots of benefit, half the price.

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drbuzzard wrote:

The nice thing about summoners is that they are powerful enough to allow you to build a fairly whimsical character. You don't really need to worry about optimization at all, and you will still play OK with the big boys.

Which is sort of the issue. If you can divert some of your power to whimsey, but still compete with those who do no such thing, there is a problem. Like i said, the easiest solution is to deliberately NOT optimize your summoner. Do that in good faith and its a wonderful class with lots of potential and great rp potential. Heck the synthesist takes arguing with yourself to a whole new level, when you can have a conversation with the entirely different entity currently occupying the same space as you.


Of course this does leave the issue of lots of potential for over optimization to be present, but I suppose that could be said of a lot of classes. It depends on the players really.

No class can really do it the way the summoner can. No matter what you optimize for, if the summoner can do it, you can put ALL your 'stuff' into that thing. No class, not even the wizard or cleric has that kind of custimization. And the summoner certainly doesn't have any lack of 'stuff' they get an amount comparable to the more potent classes in the game.

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Setting aside the master summoner and the synthesist, which are their own case studies, the summoner only suffers from one problem that has 2 symptoms.

You can pick and choose every single ability a summoner and his eidolon gets. With the exception of the summon sla, which on its own is a choice from a list of options, every spell and all the evolutions you add, are a choice.

This does two things. First, it makes it painfully easy to optimize. Because everything, particularly with eidolon evolutions is a choice, its exceptionally simple to make a summoner exceedingly good at whatever the thing you want him and his eidolon buddy to be good at. Other classes would have to take great pains, digging through options to reach a similar level of optimization. So basically, in anything but the most heavy optimization group, a summoner, that is not deliberately NOT OPTIMIZED comes out waaaay ahead of the curve.

Second, with effort, a summoner and his eidolon can be better then other classes in a single area of focus (and with proper preparation can be better in many areas of focus).

The easiest point of comparison is the druid. If you gave a numerical value to all the class abilities of the druid and the summoner and added them up, they get roughly the same about of 'stuff'. The druid is probably a bit ahead depending on how you value the druid's spell list against the summoners (I personally think despite the enhanced nature of the summoners 6 level list, the 9 level list of the druid and the fact that he can prepare ANY of them makes it more valuable).

Regardless they are close to equal. What they are not, is equally able to do a given thing with an average amount of optimization. That is because the druid makes choices in bunches. He animal companion is a single choice that sets a bunch of things. If he could mix and match the best elements of different animal companions into a single companion, it would be as beastly as the eidolon.

But that isnt how any other class works. You always get somethings you may or may not want. Even fighters get bravery, druids get wild empathy and their companions get scent or whatever.

The easiest way to handle this is simply have the player not optimize, particularly with the eidolon. Make sure he divides evolutions amongst offense, defense and utility.

The more complicated way is to create 'forms' for each eidlon that dictates the progression of most of the evolution points, leaving just a few for the player to customize.

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NobodysHome wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
........ with Richard Sherman grinding Tom Brady's face and legacy into the Arizona turf (hopefully that is, its the Seahawks so they could easily choke, in fact last year we didn't let ourselves believe they would actually win until the final whistle blew:p)
I can only imagine how seahawks fans felt last weekend with that rediculous ending. Probably even more astounded and overjoyed then i felt in the Giants last two superbowls. That onside recovery feels like it will rival the helmet catch in the wtf omg moments of recent nfl history. Here's hoping you join that 'beat that pats in the superbowl club'. If you do, see if you can get a hold of the losing team hats they throw away. My literal favorite possession is a 19-0 Patriots superbowl hat.

My brother went to Africa and searched far and wide for a "Broncos defeat Seahawks jersey" for his girlfriend (she's a Broncs fan, he's a Seahawks fan). His impression is that the NFL donates all the "wrong" gear to poor countries in Africa. But he didn't find any, so instead he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro...

Is it weird that I got my hat from a friend who did the exact same thing successfully and then also climbed mount kilimanjaro?

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captain yesterday wrote:
........ with Richard Sherman grinding Tom Brady's face and legacy into the Arizona turf (hopefully that is, its the Seahawks so they could easily choke, in fact last year we didn't let ourselves believe they would actually win until the final whistle blew:p)

I can only imagine how seahawks fans felt last weekend with that rediculous ending. Probably even more astounded and overjoyed then i felt in the Giants last two superbowls. That onside recovery feels like it will rival the helmet catch in the wtf omg moments of recent nfl history. Here's hoping you join that 'beat that pats in the superbowl club'. If you do, see if you can get a hold of the losing team hats they throw away. My literal favorite possession is a 19-0 Patriots superbowl hat.

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I think championships as the lone or just the key measure of success in sports is just plain stupid. Especially when judging individual players. And especially in football. Not only is the single game playoff format a near coin flip in the case of most top tier teams, but maybe football more then any other sport requires all the pieces to be in place, and a single great player can only account for so much. Yes the qb is the most important player on a team, but if he doesnt have anyone to throw to, to block for him, to run the ball, or someone to stop the other team and get him the ball back, he could be the god of football and it wouldn't matter.

In basketball, hockey or baseball, a great player can take over a game almost on their own. In football, if you gave peyton manning a jv highschool team and put them against a top tier highschool team, peyton would eat alot of dirt.

In addition, other sports have a multi game playoff format. You cant win on the strength of a single game, or even on 4 games, its closer to two dozen. In some ways its more exciting. Underdogs have a much larger chance in the nfl then other pro sports. Crazy things like a tight end bouncing an onside kick off his head, a backup reciever catching a miracle heave on his helmet, or a bs ruling on a nonsense call about 'tucking' the ball, arent what makes or breaks a team in a 7 game series. Or at least not just one of them. You get a lot more indication of who the 'better' team is then in a one and done game.

Both Peyton and Marino deserve to be in the conversation of the greatest ever, regardless of how many rings they wear. Hell, both of them for much of their career barely had a team around them, gaining the success they did with what amounts to smoke and mirrors. If anything that kind of performance is worth MORE someone who say had the luxary of throwing to likes of jerry rice, or having the 1970s steelers to back them up.

You need to look at the player, what they were able to do and what tools they had to work with and who they were working against. Super bowl rings should barely register in a coherent discussion about the all time great players in the nfl.

Heck by that measure, eli manning is a dramatically better quarter back then tom brady. He beat him in 2 superbowls after all, and thats all that matters right? 2 for 2 in the only game that end of discussion? Eli manning should get brady's seat in the hall of fame? Mind you I love eli, I am a die hard giants fan, but he isnt a better QB then brady, or his big brother. But by the superbowl measuring stick, he is. And that doesn't make any sense.

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Steve Geddes wrote:

It might not be a game you're interested in, but how can that possibly be obnoxious if it's all up front and clear from the beginning?

First, you cant really be up front about how narrative elements will play out. Baring alot of first hand knowledge ahead of time about the setting and how things go, if you present a player saying narrative element x will limit your use of ability why, what that actually MEANS in game play wont be apparent until it happens.

Second, knowingly being excluded doesnt make it any less wrong. If we go back to my video game example, even if I tell you up front, the guy playing the snes gets to play all day and the guy playing the xbox one only gets to play 10 minutes on the hour, it doesnt alter the level of jerkiness aside form the fact that no one is surprised.

And really here im talking less about things like spell availability (assuming at least SOME spells are available) and more about things like magic being shunned, or mages being hunted/enslaved, or your mind is corrupted if you cast spells, stuff like that. Restraints on power are what they are, you can then choose if you want to deal with it or not. Restraints on getting to participate for fear of outside backlash, is a jerk move.

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Steve Geddes wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
gamer-printer wrote:
If you're going to curtail the abilities of a wizard or another class, this should be made known before a game even begins, so a player will know up front, before character creation, what specific limits are placed on a given class. He may opt to play something else, or not play at all, but the decision should be his and he should be provided with all such information to make such a choice.
This is all fine if the limits or curtailing is done within the mechanics of the game. If its narrative, its dramatically less predictable. Its also less real to the person making the choice. Its often a matter of perception or opinions. What is too much? What is 'noisy' in the belgariad, what causes 'ripples' in the force. Narrative limits on mechanical abilities cant be accurately described before the character choices are made because all the circumstances of those limits are not apparent until the moment they occur.

Sure. That's part of the enjoyment of playing a magicuser in a limited magic setting.

It's obviously wrong to impose limits without warning players beforehand, but if everyone knows about them (including the uncertain nature) what's the problem? If you don't like that uncertainty or lack of definition, you know not to play a magical character or not to play at all.

Is it actually enjoyable to anyone to not get to play during portions of the game? Because that is what your asking. It often makes for a tense and interesting sorry. But it makes for a crummy game when you tell someone to sit there and do nothing while other people have fun, because if you had fun it will ruin everything for everyone and you'll have to be punished for it.

As I have mentioned before, most of the time, games that have these sorts of limitations shouldn't have classes like the wizard where the overwhelming majority of the thing they do is arbitrarily limited by narrative means. That isn't fun, thats obnoxious. In a story, a character sitting there and doing nothing because its someone else's turn, is just fine, the specialist gets to shine. In an rpg thats an actual person, spending hours of his actual life, watching other people have fun.

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Otherwhere wrote:

How do others allow access to higher level spells in their campaigns?

In my low-magic game (where Magic is drying up and arcane casters are rare), arcane casters do not automatically gain new spells when they level. (I am allowing the Sorcerer his bloodline spells, however. Mainly because the story pace has not supported taking time out to do research and study.)

I raised the DC by+5 in order to research new spells, and am requiring the 1kgold/spell lvl and the 1wk/spell lvl requirements before they can even attempt to see if they understand/learn it.

It's simply an attempt to implement mechanics to reflect the story environment - i.e., magic ain't easy. And the few practitioners who do exist opt to steal it from someone else rather than spend weeks of time and thousands of gold and still risk failure.

I guess that's where a large part of the challenge for the GM is in designing and running a low-magic campaign: how do I capture the flavor that made me want to write this? And is that challenge enjoyable enough for my players to want to play it?

Does the sorceror get anything back for the removal of his primary class features? Its fine to want to make magic hard. But you also left in a class that is effectively all magic. If you want to make it harder to attain new spells, thats fine, but for characters whose entire set of abilities is based on those spells, they need to be compensated. Otherwise you just gut the class, and leave a system in place that actively discourages people from wanting to participate in the story you are trying to present.

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gamer-printer wrote:
If you're going to curtail the abilities of a wizard or another class, this should be made known before a game even begins, so a player will know up front, before character creation, what specific limits are placed on a given class. He may opt to play something else, or not play at all, but the decision should be his and he should be provided with all such information to make such a choice.

This is all fine if the limits or curtailing is done within the mechanics of the game. If its narrative, its dramatically less predictable. Its also less real to the person making the choice. Its often a matter of perception or opinions. What is too much? What is 'noisy' in the belgariad, what causes 'ripples' in the force. Narrative limits on mechanical abilities cant be accurately described before the character choices are made because all the circumstances of those limits are not apparent until the moment they occur.

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Dreaming Warforged wrote:
PhelanArcetus wrote:

Plot is, generally, a bad way to restrict magic. If all magic is going to carry consequences, just keep it away from players.

At least, my experience is that having an ability that you're afraid to use is just frustrating; I'd rather not have the ability than stare at it and feel like I don't dare use it. Or it devolves into the player trying to figure out ways to protect against the consequences so that they can use the ability. This approach works much better in a narrative than in a game.

Within PF, I think the best options are to stick to the E6-E8 area, where spellcasters haven't pulled massively ahead (and other problems, like math breakdown, haven't started yet), and to selectively nerf or ban particularly problematic spells. Or to play a game wherein casters in general are banned (and not torture the players by throwing tons of casters at them).

I agree with you about restricted magic, but there perhaps many shades of gray to restriction, like in public, or others?

The shades of grey are generally just excuses. When you restrict a characters ability to use what amounts for the majority of the 'stuff' that they get as a character, you are basically asking them not to play.

That is a godaweful way to 'balance' set of abilities. If you want balance between magic and not magic, or to reign in the power of magic. Do that. But do it at the core of the game. Change what characters get.

I will repeat an example I give fairly frequently. I have 2 friends over to play video games, with 2 setups. I have a super nintendo, and an xboxone set up. I my two friends pick one and start playing. However, if the person playing the xbox one plays for more then 10 minutes an hour, i come in and punch him in the face, until he stops playing. That is a really crappy way of ensuring that both of my friends have similar amounts of fun.

Because the point here is to actually have fun. If the stuff a wizard can do is an issue, change what he can do, or replace wizards with a different class, or alter how spells work to limit their power/narrative influence. But done punish, either narratively, or mechanically a player for using the tools he is given. You can call it 'story' or 'setting' all you want. You are still being a jerk.

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One character is using his influence as a hero of a recent dragon attack to build a paramilitary police force to better protect the people of the city. He is also learning alchemy as he recently encountered a clan of kobolds with some seriously cool, enhanced alchemical items that my gm made up.

Another character drafted his fledgling kingdom's constitution, and goes about vigorously protecting it, effectively becoming the boogeyman of the ruling council.

Another character spends his non-combat time being intensly creepy, as he is literally the monster under the bed, that will steal away your children if you threaten his people or his companions.

If you mean in terms of rules, well the most obvious thing is skills, but lots of spells and class abilities also lend themselves to non combat situations.

I think part of the problem is you are looking at pfs, which while interesting, doesnt really offer the same opportunities for character development as a home game with consistent characters and wiggle room in how a session will progress. There are x things that MUST happen in Y amount of playing time. That leaves a lot less time for diversions and personal side projects. So really all character do is help overcome the plot in pfs. Which is often mostly killing things.

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Lord Mhoram wrote:

My working definition of Low Magic is a setting where magic can not do better at anything than a non-magic ability, and it isn't really "flashy".

A spells that does damage is low magic.
No flying is low magic.

In a lot of ways the Belgariad is like that, on the smaller scale. Wizard change weather and do huge fogs and such - but that is a grand scale (and the high magic involved).

In a fight the mages fight with sword and shield. Traveling - they use horses or wagons. If the do something else they shape-change, to regular animals. That is almost folklore level. They can do some mental influencing. Except when the Orb of Aldur is used, we don't have fireballs, invisible mages, flying.

That is the kind of thing I think of. The "personal level" of magic in the Belgariad.

Isnt the only reason the 'flashy' magic restrained in the belgariad because of plot contrivances and the need for 'stealth'? Magic was only limited by power and imagination, and it was the need to 'keep quiet' that caused them to do things like use swords or ride horses.

Edit: It seems to me that the only limits on what magic could do was your own understanding of the physics involved, and your lack of desire to make a lot of magical noise. When Belgarath or Polgara pulled out the stops it would be super hard to define that as low magic.

I think maybe this is another area to look at. Low magic setting vs low magic story.

The world of the belgariad has some very high levels of magic. But plot and world contrivances/consequences limit it's use to minimal or crucial effects. IE you can bring down that castle gate with magic, but every enemy mage in 200 miles will 'hear' you do it. You can conjure that thunderstorm and lightning strikes to emphasize your point, but you are going to kill thousands of people with weather disruptions in the process.

This is probably the most obnoxious way to go about creating a 'low magic' campaign. If you dont want mages using flashy magic powers, dont give them flashy magical powers. Dont say 'sure you can be a wizard' and then punish ever spell they cast.

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James Jacobs wrote:

(Frankly... I kinda wish that whole "this does not apply to touch attacks" line was removed entirely from Deadly Aim. It doesn't really make sense to me.)

Presumably its there for 2 reasons. One mundante touch weapons are not particularly precise. Can you imagine taking deadly aim with an alchemist fire? Even with a ray spell, its hard to imagine taking the kind of precise aim one does with an actual ranged weapon like a bow or crossbow.

The second reason is one of balance. Given the overwhelmingly low touch ac most things have by mid levels, the trade off of a penalty to attack is more or less meaningless as compared to things that target full ac.

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Arikiel wrote:
I'm not sure why people are even trying to do this. It's like trying to define beauty. You're never going to get a consensus. Just a lot of argument. It pretty much means whatever you personally want it to mean. It has less magic then X. That is all.

You dont need a consensus, you just need the ability to describe your preference. You might not be able to agree with everyone on who is beautiful, but the people you do think are beautiful you can(particularly with prompting) describe what you think about them is appealing. Eyes, cheek bones, ears, hair, skin, figure, lips, whatever, you can describe it by saying I like his/her x y and z.

In terms of a game, by enabling that description, you can not only better understand your own opinion, and make informed choices, you can better enable others to assess that preference and make an imformed choice as to how to approach that game.

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Dreaming Warforged wrote:

4. Avoiding the Magical Christmas Tree: This is not so far from 1. The fell of the world, but it has been repeatedly been stated as a thorn in the side of the game that you need to accumulate an inordinate amount of flat-bonus items that can rob the game of flavour. Not every DM or player feels that way, but those who do sometimes choose a Low Gear version of Low Magic where they remove most Big Six items. As some have stated, this needs to be fine-tuned carefully with other house rules, especially if the game goes beyond level 8.

For me this falls under #1, the feel of the world, but I guess it can be divided up a bit.

1.1How common magic is in the form of magical characters, such as spellcasters, and creatures with magical or supernatural abilities. This can drastically alter the feel of a setting. Compare say ebberron to game of thrones, its not just the plot or the characters that makes them different. Having mechanical men, weird creatures, and magic elemental powered trains is going to alter the tone of your setting. Wizards on every street corner is going to change what it means to be a wizard character, or to interact with one.

1.2 How common magic is in the form of magical items.
1.2.1. How potent those magical items are and how much they impact the setting. If everyone has a magic trinket, and every warrior worth his salt has a magic sword, then the perception in setting is going to be different. And in the default setting, things that by any normal examination would be priceless, are just trinkets. Think about what masterwork is supposed to represent. The best that normal hands can craft. A weapon so good it actually gives you a noticable advantage in battle. A mw blade is a hitori hanzo sword (from kill bill). But in pathfinder/dnd, its a throwaway you get at like level 1 or 2 to be replaced with a magic weapon that you'll replace again shortly thereafter.
The feel of magic within the party. Though this is linked to the feel of the setting, often the party is special or unique. The fellowship in the lord of the rings actually had a large amount of magic items relative to the rest of the world (even among elite warriors). So often they are expected to be more fantastic then the base assumptions for a setting. But even so, the magic item in every slot, and the constant rotation of items in and out of use because of minor upgrades can be offputting for some stories, or desired themes. So for instance combating the christmas tree effect doesn't HAVE to alter how magic items feel in your setting, it often can be a goal in and of itself.


5. Staying in the Sweet Spot: For some players and DMs, the game starts to grind down to accounting and loooong combat. These individuals wish the game to stay in lower levels, but do not necessarily wish for shorter campaigns, starting over and over at level 1. For them, a Low Power (Spells and Gear) version of Low Magic is preferable and they'll be naturally drawn to variants like E6.

This is basically #3. Curbing direct power. E6 certainly curbs power. It puts a cap on the numbers. It puts a cap on what spells are available. Staying in the 'sweet spot' basically means holding magical characters back after level 6 or so, by some fashion or another.


Does those sound like valid additional reasons to choose Low Magic, though they possibly lead to different versions of Low Magic (Gear vs Power)?

More on topic (though I agree that DMs need to look at the reasons behind their choice to align their decisions on categories and distinctions accordingly): have some of you built or chosen settings where the Creature category had been modified towards a lower level of magic (or fantasy?). For example, only humans and very few fantastic creatures (only mythical for example)?

Not really, i've played in such games, but never built one. Though with the new monster codex, and the npc codex, it might be less of a chore. I never liked that if you cut out most monsters, it meant building lots more npcs from scratch. Tools like the codex(es?) make that far more practical.

Edit: though i disagree that looking at goals is off topic. A principle tool in defining low magic is examinging why you are trying to acheive it in the first place. And by putting a sort of colored lense on the end result based on the intended goals, what becomes a very messy definition of 'low magic' becomes a lot more clear. A dms tastes and desires are vitally important to understanding what low magic means in their setting.

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Dreaming Warforged wrote:
PhelanArcetus wrote:

Now I've got two basic approaches I use for that. One is E6-E8, in one setting. The other is writing an entirely different game system that aims to avoid many of the issues that arise with magic.
Interesting... What are your thoughts on allowing only partial (1-6) casters?

Going only partial casters helps to a degree but it doesnt eliminate the problem, it just makes it smaller. The problem is mostly that magic is flat out better and more flexible, while requiring less investment then not-magic.

Partial casters have less magic, and more not-magic in the 'stuff' they get. But it doesnt make the disparity of individual instances of 'stuff' any different.

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being skilled (having lots of skill points, is the 'thing' some classes are good at. Or at least one of them. Nullifying that decreases the value of certain classes.

If you want low level characters to be more skilled I would just give out a few free skill based traits to each character based on their backstory.

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Otherwhere wrote:

Hate to sound too much like a noob, but are there official guides for "E6", "E7", etc.?

@Kolo: the Rogue Genius product for the Riven Mage sounds interesting. Can you send me info?

Nice work, everyone, on fleshing out details! These really help when designing new areas/encounters for my low-magic campaign.

Do you mean the product link? It can be found here riven mage. It has the basis for riven magic.

As for my homebrew rules, I dont want to post them just yet as I have a few things I am working on, but basically, all 6 level casters and the druids ditch their casting for something close to the riven mage's casting with the stat altered to what fits the class' existing casting. Some classes require specific tweaks for abilities that work with spells, but that is the gist of it.

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'Golarion Modified by Kolo's House Rules'


1.1 Spells

  • Level Demographics (Setting)Casting classes are fairly common, with core caster class npcs being present in most towns, and a larger variety in cities. The only difference is the classic 9 level casters other then the druid are exceedingly rare, and are effectively legendary heroes or villains.
    Most npcs are npcs classes, but important npcs are almost always pc classes.
  • Classes availableNone of the 9 level casters except the druid. All casting classes have mandatory archetypes to use riven magic (see bellow)
  • Character Level20
  • Caster Level20
  • Spell LevelThis is sort of complicated since my default setting doesn’t use vancian magic as presented in the core book. It instead uses an expanded version of the rogue genius games product the genius guide to the riven mage. Riven spells are basic effects that you put more or less energy into to create bigger or lesser effects. Example: Blast creates a blast of force, or of an energy type if you specialize, and the more energy (called flux) you put into it the bigger and more damaging the blast. There are only a handful of riven spells compared to the endless list of vancian spells. This drastically curbs narrative power of magic.
  • Specific SpellsRiven spells only, including a homebrew expansion to the list.
  • Healing AccessAny riven caster can heal, and I allow generous access to healing items
  • Resurrection Access: Possible through Scrolls which are sort of like rituals
  • Counter Magic AccessNot applicable to riven magic
  • Casting EaseNo difficulty casting riven magic, its actually easier to do then normal magic, but riven spells are considerably weaker then normal spells (sort of like half a spell really)
  • RitualsScrolls of vancian spells are available as rituals.

1.2 Gear (Magic Items)

  • Crafting ArtsOnly craft wand, brew potion and scribe scroll are a player option
  • Big Six AccessReplaced with homebrew rules to replace the bonuses with choices characters make as the level.
  • Magic Item AvailabilityExceedingly rare, characters will get at most a handful of items through their whole career, and they are only introduced where it makes sense in the story.
  • Magic Item UbiquityBasic magic items are more like artifacts in the core rules, rare, priceless, and impossible to recreate normally.
  • Magic Item PowerLow, but the power is replaced with homebrew rules to give the expected bonuses and some abilities.

1.3 Creatures

  • Fantastic CreaturesNormal?
  • Fantastic Races AvailabilityEberronish, I am happy to allow all sorts of crazy races so long as they are played in an interesting way.


2.1 Arcane and Divine MagicNo Real distinction

2.2 Players and Setting Mostly no distinction, except in the case of the very rare 9 level casters that can be npcs but arent a player option.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:
Laurefindel wrote:

It's easy to get lost in a LotR discussion, but it is nevertheless a somewhat relevant topic because many GM aim to use Low-Magic system to emulate LotR adventures.

Things is, even if the fellowship had access to magic, the setting falls apart when you allow all your characters to play spellcasters and assume the same level of spellcaster demographics that you would in a typical Pathfinder setting.

So "what to consider if I want to play in Middle Earth" is right in your alley.

I agree with others...lets not make this another "what level are LotR characters". Ultimately LotR wasn't created under Pathfinder constraints, and can't be expected to follow guidelines for magic use.

And it's not like it's the only low magic setting out there. I expect Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire" and its descendents is the first thing nowadays that a lot of people think about when they hear "low magic"

No, because for some reason it's become very popular to bash LotR, even though SoI&F makes a better comparison for most of things people complain about LotR for gaming style - low magic, few race options, etc.

I think its a matter of familiarity. Everyone compares things to lotr becasue everyone (even those that hate it) know it. Game of thrones is also a solid comparison point at this point, but since it is so low magic, its really hard to make comparisons with the majority of pathfinder/dnd. Fighters, rogues, cavaliers, and maybe spelless rangers make up the overwhelming majority of characters. For better or worse, when you think wizard, gandalf comes to mind for a big chunk of people. That and harry potter, which also has issues in comparison to dnd/pathfinder for other reasons.

That sort of comparison of iconic characters, abilities and heroic moments is really important to a lot of conversations, and while there are lots of famous fantasy worlds out there, how many are universal even within the rpg gamer community? If I tell you I want to make magic work like it does in the dresden files in my pathfinder game, am I sure you know what I mean? (Answer: I'm not sure, and also that is totally a goal of mine).

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
MagusJanus wrote:
Scythia wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Scythia wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
LordDeath wrote:
Just inflicting pain on yourself proves nothing. If the illusion is elaborate enough, then feeling pain would be just another aspect of the mirage. No, so far no one has proved this reality.
In ordinary life, Ockham's razor is superior to proof anyhow.

All other things being equal, do I have a beard? I could consider the relative effort and likelihood of growing and maintaining a beard vs the effort required to keep facial hair from growing out. Instead, I can just say that people of my gender rarely have a beard, therefore it is likely I don't either. Thanks Ockham's Razor!

Ockham's Razor: You'll never find a faster, more probable shave. ©

It's not always superior to direct observation, but it's superior to proof.
I was engaged in debate with someone on another message board years ago, and I realised that talking with them was utterly pointless when they said, without irony, that empiricism had been disproved long ago. Then again, they were a self-professed pyrrhonist, so they didn't know anything anyway. :P

He's technically right, but that's because empiricism and relying on empirical evidence are not the same thing.

Empiricism is the theory that all, or most, knowledge is derived from sense-experience. And, for the most part, that has been disproved; most of human knowledge is passed on without sense-experience of what led to it being involved.

It isn't just that, though thats probably the biggest knock against empiricism. There is a larger problem.

Without appropriate context and understanding, reliance on empirical evidence can lead one to incorrect understanding.

The biggest example in my mind, is physics. With good sir Isaac. Newtonian physics literally got us to the moon. Even today, we still teach newtonian physics. But he is technically wrong, particularly in the case of gravity. Einstein showed us that. But reality of gravitational physics is so outside our understanding of the world around us, that we teach the (technically) incorrect newtonian physics until high level education. It still works even if it is technically incorrect.

Emprical evidence is limited by our ability to observe, and there are fundamental problems with our ability to observe that may not be overcome ever let alone soon. Enter mr Heisenberg. There are things we literally cannot observe. This is not a function of inadequate observational tools. We are simply unable. Its almost like we reached the end of the programming in the computer simulation that is our universe. Nope, nothing to see here, move along.

Seriously, think about it. Imagine if you were, for instance, blind and deaf. Now imagine no one communicated what things were to you. You had to figure it out on your own. How exactly would you learn the difference between a bench, a bench shaped rock, and a predatory animal that was shaped like a bench? How exactly would you know that the chair you are sitting on, is actually there permanently, instead of say, placed under you by some extra dimensional being every time you sat down as a giant lab experiment?

Empirical evidence is still the best we have in terms of figuring things out, but our greatest advancements have almost always been from imagination, not observation. How often does it take years if not decades to verify the work of the great scientists of history? (often). But its their imagination that creates the foundation for future experimentation, not observation of existing data. Because their imagination gave new context for observation, and they just so happened, to be right.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have in fact or at least a version of them. My Rules
Updated Distinctsions

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In terms of defining low magic. I think rather then defining the effect, one should define the intent.

What are you trying to achieve with low magic? In my mind there are 3 areas a gm is trying to adjust.

1. The feel of the world.
Many gms dont like the idea of magic marts, or players who light up like a christmas tree under detect magic etc. They also often envision a world that is more game of thrones or lord of the rings then it is dnd/pathfinder. This is by far the most common stated goal in 'low magic' games. But often, there is another motive or two. The biggest symptom of this is when a gm lists out what isn't an option under his campaign, without offering some way to make up for the listed lacks.

IE No magic marts, and magic items are rare, without an explanation of how the lost power, or lost customization (a archer fighter with a magic great axe hasn't gained very much) will be countered. This is a very big red flag to me when a gm is describing their game. As I mentioned, the stated goal is fine, and depends on taste, but if you just take, and dont give back as a gm, usually you are actually seeking one of the other two things.

2. Curtailing narrative power.
Magic means narrative power. This isn't about killing bad guys, the dumb fighter with the sharp bit of metal is plenty good at that. This is about altering the circumstances of the encounter, adventure, or campaign. Magic, both in item, and in straight spell/supernatural ability form has the ability to take some of the story telling out of the GM's hands and put it in the players hands. Sometimes this is small scale, IE, improving the party's situation in an encounter, such as giving the fighter flying to help deal with air bound enemies. Narrative power in this form doesn't directly help overcome the danger in an encounter, it just alters the circumstances.

Then there is the middle scale of narrative power. Altering the nature of an adventure. If you need to find a specific person, and the wizard successfully scry's him and in the process finds out where that person is, the nature of the adventure, which might have involved numerous encounters hunting for information, has now skiped damn near to the end. Enchanting the unhelpful noble, or any number of things and drastically mess with the story. Where as not magical means generally oppose and overcome challenges, magical things can alter the circumstances making the means by which the challenge is overcome partially or completely trivial.

Then there is the big scale narrative power. Easy example is lord of the rings, if elrond was a high level wizard, the lord of the rings takes 30 seconds. He had been to mount doom before. Grab the halfling, teleport, drop ring, teleport, yay, evil defeated.

Now as a gm all of these can often be managed to a degree. But it usually puts you in direct opposition with the player, and can create a negative environment. So it is often a goal of 'low magic' rules to simply take this sort of thing out of the equation entirely.

3. Curbing Direct power
In addition to magic helping alter the circumstances of challenges, it can also overcome them directly. Magic items make character more potent, certain spells can at certain levels, wreck some serious face in encounters. Cutting magic in all its forms can drastically scale back how powerful your characters are.

This is probably (in my mind) the least noble of the goals in 'low magic'. Not that wanting to reign in super munchkin players isn't sometimes neccessary, the issue is usually one of honesty. If you want a low powered game, you should say so, instead of hiding it under the guise of something else. Most players are willing to scale back things, without having to do something so drastic as gutting magic from a system that is utterly reliant on it. That isn't to say a low magic low powered game isn't fun, but people should know what they are getting into. If you just say low magic, and someone optimizes a low magic character, you havent achieved your goals anyway, and you again can get into an atagonistic gm vs player mentality.

No matter what your stated or actual goals are I think the most important thing to asses when doing 'low magic' is to know and understand what those goals are and how to best approach the issue.

For instance, I am working on a way to curtail the narrative power of magic in my game, but I recognize that if i simply removed all the narrative altering spells from the game, I'd be drastically hampering some of the fun parts of playing a spellcaster in pathfinder. So, I am redesigning magic, ground up, including altering classes, to be less narratively powerful, but still able to contribute to situations. I take, but I also give back, because if I just take out all the good spells, a wizard, for whom most of the 'stuff' they get is spells, is sort of left high and dry. And I dont want to punish a player for making a specific character choice, if I dont want that character choice, it wont be in the options, and I will give them different options instead.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dreaming Warforged wrote:
Laurefindel wrote:

Unless you are planning to run an existing adventure written specifically for Pathfinder, dependency on the Big 6 is a bit of a fallacy.

Big 6 are necessary to keep up with CR.

Big 6 are necessary to keep up with published adventures.

Big 6 are necessary to compare your character to "default Pathfinder".

I wonder to what extent these are absolutely true. And if they are, then what various steps need to be taken to alleviate this need and use published adventures (though in a different setting with different expectations)?

Saving throws seem like a big item IMO. Others?

Oh, and at what level would you say the Big 6 become absolutely necessary?

I've done a ton of work on this, its way more then just saving throws.

The math matters. Particularly when dealing with non-human/humanish opponents. Monsters dont generally use equipment, but their stats are scaled towards characters who have big six items.

Basically anything after 7th or 8th level will really start to feel the loss of AC, To hit, Saving throws, DCs of abilities etc. By 10th level, the same group of characters vs the same group of enemies but without big six items will really struggle, possibly outright fail depending on optimization levels. And its not a simple matter of scaling things up or down CR wise. AC for instance, basically stops going up. The heavy armored fighter might as well be naked after mid levels if he doesnt have magical items that enhance his ac (3 of the big six).

What I have done is effectively create a replacement system, where players just choose from these +Xs as they level up as is appropriate to level. This plus a system of adding a set of abilities to each character lets me replace the vast majority or the player's wealth in magic items. Leaving them an option as opposed to a necesity. PCs in my game can generally expect a couple magic items over their entire career, that they will keep with them the enitre time. They might for instance get a magic sword, but it will have a backstory, a name, and a specfic affect (Ignus the flaming blade of [insert legendary hero here]). No +x, that comes from the abilities they select from.

In this game, magic items (besides wands, potions and scrolls) cant be crafted by normal means and priceless artifacts. I also only include them where it makes sense for the story, and because the player has abilities to make up for their lack, it isnt a downgrade to their capability.

It goes a long way to make money a story choice, not a requirement, and to make magic items be more meaningful and integrated into the characters overall story. Gandalf didnt trade in glamdring for a +3 glamdring after helm's deep. I want that sort of effect with magic items in my game, without hampering the players unduly. There are some minor issues with overcoming dr, but generally, this can be overcome by actually carrying alternate material weapons since the fighter is just as good or very nearly as good with his main longsword, as he is with a cold iron longword or a silver longsword etc, because the +x is built into him and not the weapon.

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