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Kydeem de'Morcaine's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 3,001 posts (5,804 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 6 Pathfinder Society characters. 11 aliases.

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I once did a LE fighter. Just loved slicing up opponents. Humiliating them. Defeating them. Wrecking whatever they had spent their life building. Etc...

However, he was a smart LE. He would only go after guys once he had official authorization to do so (or in self defense).
"Sure, Baron Squeamish, I can take care of that bandit for you. Just sign this paper giving your authorization and not telling me how to do my job and I will make sure your problem goes away."
Then he would follow a likely target caravan. When it was attacked he would go after the bandit leader. (In other words he used a caravan for bait and didn't necessarily try to save them.)
He would rarely take prisoners. Unless the target would rather die than be captured. Then he would do everything he could to take them alive just to really piss them off.

He didn't betray his party or the people that hired him. Not because he cared about them, but because it wasn't a smart thing to do.

I did it with a fighter, but the concept would really work with almost any class except for the really helpful support/buff/healer types.

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I find the use of 'toon' mildly disconcerting and mildly annoying.

My response (at least mentally) is "Hunh? Oh you mean PC." It slightly interferes with communication since I have to think about it.

Also, as others have said, in the context of a TTRPG I think it is slightly derogatory. Some people feel it implies a lack of 'role play' in a persons gaming style since many of the MMORPG's are perceived to not have nearly as much role playing as TTRPG's. "Yeah you have fun with your toon. We're role playing over here." I don't know that it is justified, but it seems to have that connotation.

On the other hand murderhobo, tank, healer, etc... don't bother me when they really apply. When people start misusing those terms, it bugs me just as much. Maybe more.

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Yeah I suppose it is pretty similar to that after all.

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Jaelithe wrote:


What do you do?

As I said before. I would (and have in the past) give it a chance. However, it would be a warning sign to me. "Aw jeez another one of those. Let's see what's going to happen this time." It would be a warning sign to me because it has nearly always been a negative. Sometimes a small negative and sometimes a huge negative. Yes, I agree it depends upon the GM. I will give it a chance because I have had a few good experiences with GMPC's. Not many, but a few.

Even though I find that one aspect almost always at least a bit annoying, if everything else is good I can overlook it. I think it is a negative that doesn't need to be there and would be better without it, but I can deal with it.

This is in fact the case with one of my current groups that meets only a few times a year. The GM is pretty good, he runs things pretty well, and I like the whole group. Yes, he wants a GMPC in the group. It is usually not too intrusive. We have talked about it a little. All of the players are either neutral to slightly negative on it. No one feels it really helps the experience in any way. But since the GM really wants it, we put up with it because the rest of it is good enough to make up for it.

But some people will not. As soon as they realize there is a GMPC they will be gone. They have zero good experiences with it. They have several bad experiences with it. That is not the same as irrational fear. That is a learned response. They apparently did give it a chance in the past several times or they wouldn't have had all those bad experiences.
There is an often quoted definition of insanity that is - doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result. There are people that have reached that point were it seems insane to expect anything different to happen this time. Is it a little sad? Yes. But that is where they are at.

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Ok, I talked to one of his GM's a bit. He said it seems to be a combination of things.

1) His first GM was apparently a real jack-hole that liked to continually try to trap anyone playing a good character. So with that GM he did have to get an atonement anytime he did anything remotely iffy by the extremes of modern morals.

2) He doesn't seem to understand the concept of the alignments very well. Either you're Evil (serving the god of destruction trying to bring about the end of the world),
Neutral (a narrow slice of people that are really really nasty and mean but not serving the evil god or trying to destroy the world),
Or you're Good (everything else).

So by that definition he is playing a good character (most of us would probably say a fairly mercenary Lawful Neutral).

The GM says he's never made him take an atonement. He's even tried to tell him he doesn't need an atonement for things. But the player just automatically says I did a bad thing so I cast atonement from a scroll.

Some examples have been really rough questioning of prisoners, not taking prisoners, giving bribes, breaking into a suspects house without proof, spreading rumors about someone to make him do something stupid, and things like that.

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Jaelithe wrote:


Like I said, though ... to me, every NPC is a GMPC...

Ok, I didn't see this in your earlier posts.

That does not fit the definition of GMPC used by almost anyone I have ever talked with about the subject. Yes, if you define a word differently your evaluations will of course not match everyone else's.

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I generally hate random background generators. Except, I sometimes use them to get me started if I don't already have a background in mind. But I don't like being held to them when it kicks out something too bizarre for me to wrap my head around.

As a player I hate it when someone says anything legal. But then later says, not that. Or that. Definitely not that... That gets extremely annoying.

If the GM just says up front what he really doesn't want, I rarely have any problem with making something to fit. Even if I don't agree with his reasoning. (I once had a GM back in 2nd Ed that was convinced that the bard back then was too powerful for any normal group.)

No 3pp, don't like one trick ponies, no SoD specialists, everyone has to have some social skills, full plate armor just discovered (only royalty has it so far), no monster races, etc... No problem, I will still come up with something weird and interesting. Maybe a lore warden with the fey eldritch heritage feat chain.

As a GM I usually don't make very many restrictions on character builds. Though I will say if you pick a complex and confusing class like summoner or alchemist, you damn well better take the time to read and understand it. Post your build and intended tactics on line to make sure they are ok. I don't want to feel like I have to police your character sheet every session and constantly say you can't do that (then listen to you whine about it all night).
I will say you need to make something that fits into the campaign and can work with the other players. I am not going to spend every game session trying to find some way to cajole your anti-social, anarchist, blind, mute bug that it is a good idea to go along with the others without eating them.

The exception to that is if I am making a home brew (non-Golarion) world. A few years ago I tried a low magic campaign (especially low on permanent magic items). I told the players it would be a low magic campaign. I told them what the rule modifications would be. There were a few classes that were straight out not allowed (mystic theurge and summoner). I said I wanted to stick with mostly CRB since I had time to consider how they would work with the rule mods. If you want to run something non-core, let me know and we can work out how it would need to be modified to fit in this world (I wasn't sure what to do about magus and alchemist if someone wanted to run them). Everyone agree it was not a problem. Two out of 5 people brought concepts that were totally off target. An awakened golem cleric. And a rogue/monk/fighter thrower that was absolutely dependent on easy access to specific permanent magic items. It was very frustrating for me.

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Peter Stewart wrote:
Chengar Qordath wrote:

As I recall, the complexity of the rules was the main factor in the PFS ban. Like others have mentioned, the base summoner is stronger since he gets an Eidolon with the same statline as the Synthesist, while the summoner himself keeps his own action economy and a very nice spell list.

As far as I'm aware, PFS generally bans things on account of them not working well in organized play, or brushing up against the no evil characters rule. I don't follow every single PFS decision, but I'm not aware of any that were handed down solely due to balance concerns. The closest example I can think of is the Crane Wing nerf, which was a dev ruling based on PFS input.

This, pretty much. Most PFS bans are due to complexity, thematic problems, or confusion, not strength. The goal is to have sessions that run smoothly with limited numbers of rulings GMs have to make on the fly.

As an only occasional GM at PFS events, summoners in general can be a headache.

As far as I can remember, every single summoner that I really looked at had an eidolon build that did not follow the rules. Most more powerful (but at least one significantly less powerful) than what the rules actually allowed. A couple were so minor that I didn't really do anything except mention to the player that they needed to fix it before the next game. Some were majorly way too powerful.

Since the synthesis is significantly more complex, I am glad they are not allowed at PFS. At a home game, where I can take time and go over it without cutting into the group game time and just ask "what did you add?" at level advancements it would be fine.

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Edit: Never mind.

As some are saying, it is personal preference and no one seems to be making any progress in changing the mind of anyone else. I'm going to just let it drop.

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Armor class system.

The armor class system doesn't really make logical sense. Wearing heavy steel plates of armor does not make you harder to hit, it makes you harder to hurt.

However, it has a huge legacy behind it and most people seem to understand the current system better than a complicated damage reduction system. So for ease of play and understanding it works

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pres man wrote:
I might suggest that GMs that are so tied to their campaign ideas, that they aren't willing to adjust them to a reasonable extent to the preferences of the players, are at least as bad due to their personal bias as GMs that use a party NPC to have their own personal Gandalf in the game.

Agreed. Though I bet you will get a large amount of variation on what counts as reasonable.

To me:
Reasonable - We aren't interested in working for the obnoxious wizard. We want to go hit the slavers. I can't necessarily come up with something on the fly, but I can have something for next week.

Not reasonable - I made a character with a bunch of weaknesses, change things until it is not a problem.

Reasonable - We're not interested in roleplaying all the 'shopping' scenes. Can we handle that with some skill roles? Sure.

Not reasonable - I don't care if it's a low magic campaign, it sucks that I can't just buy whatever I want! My character doesn't work without magic shuriken I should be able to find those anywhere!

Reasonable - Is it ok if my oracle doesn't worship a god, he steals divine power like the 3.5 ur-priest.

Not reasonable - I made a pirate captain, there should be a chance for him to use those skill. Yes, I know we agree to explore the abandoned dwarf mines, but he doesn't do very good off of a ship.

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I have and will continue to bring up hints and reminders whether I am GM or player. Nothing wrong with that.

But I firmly believe that a player and/or a group should have a plan to deal with whatever weaknesses or lack of ability they have. That plan could be to hire a cleric. It could be max my UMD and the group allocate a % of funds for healing and status removal stuff. It could be get some stuff to tide us over until Jim-Bob can take Leadership. It could be just buy a little bit, make a deal with the temple, and focus real hard on stealth/surprise attack so we don't get hurt. It could be ...

Many people on these boards seem to think none of that is necessary (Jaelithe's post sounded like he was one of them - but apparently not). It is the GM's job to make it work no matter what decisions I/we make.

The was a thread months ago about a group wanting to make a team of all arcane archers. Didn't say anything along the lines of "We'll concentrate on mobility so no one can close, have a couple with high UMD to heal us, have a couple be switch hitters for when melee happens, etc...

There was almost no thought of "How do we compensate for our weaknesses?" Some of us tried to suggest things they could do to alleviate those issues. We were pretty much ignored since that would detract from their strength of shooting magic arrows.
If we don't have it, it's the GM's job to make it work anyway.

Many of the posters seemed to agree with - GM should not (or at least not often) put encounters where anyone tried very hard to close with or grapple them, small or enclosed areas, creatures/undead/especially ghosts that are hard to hurt with arrows, etc...

The players are going to make a whole group of the identical one trick pony and the GM should make sure it shines.

I have personally watched people do the same kind of thing.

Player upset that his full plate tower shield dwarf was having heat problems in the desert and was having difficulty keeping up with the elves he was supposed to be protecting. "Well you could have given me a wand of endure elements and boots of striding or something! Why didn't you buy them yourself? You can't tell me what I have to buy! I didn't, you chose not to buy them yourself knowing you were going into the desert..."

Player brings a telepath into an almost exclusively undead campaign (yes, he was told/warned/cautioned), then irritated that there was almost nothing that he could read the mind of or dominate.

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Snorter wrote:
... If the BBEG needs to be able to shield his thoughts, to be able to carry off his cunning plan, why not just give them that ability (maybe explained by divine intervention, psychic brain parasites, or whatever), rather than have every non-thug BBEG drop an amulet of non-detection in the PCs' laps?

Funny thing. I only do that for mooks that I don't want to take the time to figure out a build. Ok these guys are mostly melee sword guys. To be threat to this level they need about a +X to hit. Give them a +3 to damage. Ranged not as good +(X-2) to hit. To have a chance to last more than one hit from a secondary melee they need Y hp. To make sure every iterative isn't a guaranteed hit, give them AC Z. Etc...

Serious bad guys, I nearly always figure out a way to make what I want within the rules. I have almost never found a BBEG concept that I wanted to make that couldn't be fit in the rules. It might be piles-o-multiclassing and seem way over APL because of that, but I can get there.

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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Of course there's a difference. A matter of tone, but not function.

Disagree. One is the players taking responsibility for their own survival and success. The other is the players just assuming the GM will do something to make sure they win no matter what.

Jaelithe wrote:
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:

1) The group deciding on a plan and carry though hiring a cleric.

2) Just staring at the GM until he does his job and gives us something.

You honestly don't see any difference between those two?

And you honestly think a narrowly literal interpretation of #2 was what I meant? As Cris Carter would say, "Come on, man."

Considering I've seen several people do exactly that and all I've got to go on is what you wrote.


Look through these forums. You will find hundreds of examples.

  • If I want to only carry a melee weapon, the GM should take that into account in what he designs. Putting an archer ambush from on top of a cliff is a ^1@% move.
  • If no one wants to play a healer, the GM should make UMD not a trained only skill and add lots of CLW wands and scrolls of Remove X in the loot.
  • If no one can cast spells, the GM shouldn’t put in obstacles that need magic to get past. There are plenty of mechanical obstacles we can handle that he could use.

You see these on the boards all the time and that is exactly what your post looked like to me.

Not one of those indicates the slightest planning to work around their weaknesses or responsibility for their own success. All are a passive assumption the GM will do something to make sure they succeed no matter what decisions they make.

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I agree a player should play what he wants. Personally, I sometimes like to play whatever is most missing because I feel like I contribute a lot that way. If I am melee beat stick number 4, it doesn't always seem like I added that much to the game.
But that is still me playing what I want to play. If someone tried to tell me I needed to play a healing focused cleric, I am contrary enough to play anything except a healing focused cleric.

Jaelithe wrote:
... glance significantly at the DM, and expect him to do his damned job—which is to facilitate EVERYONE's fun by providing, in some fashion (either GMPC, or, for the obdurate paranoids who think such is impossible, a serviceable NPC), what the party requires.

I very much disagree with this.

It is the GM's job to provide a world with challenges. It is the parties job to figure out how they are going to overcome the challenges. If no one wants to play a healer, fine. So how are we going to take care of ourselves when we get hurt, poisoned, deafened, etc...

It is not the GM's job to figure out how we are going to survive. He has more than enough that he is doing without doing our job for us.

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Never before met a player for whom it was always a good idea to buy a Wand of Atonement.

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I have to share part of this recent conversation.

Me, “So you really play the same character all the time?”
This part seemed odd to me, but {shrug} different people like different things.
Him, “Well not really the same character. They’re all at least a little different. But yeah, always cleric as the primary class. They have just about the perfect blend of martial, caster, survivable, support, and power. Sometimes I’ll dip a level or 2 in another class but not usually. Sometimes it is mostly a caster, sometimes mostly weapon wielder, whatever… Usually a half-orc or half elf. Always neutral good or lawful good. I guess I’m just a holy crusader for goodness at heart.”
Me, “Well I suppose you know your builds, plans, and purchases down pat by now.”
Him, “Yeah but the first few levels you know are really hard to manage. That’s why I hate playing below 6th level. After that it isn’t a problem.”
Me, “Really? I always thought that was the biggest draw of the cleric. It is so easy to play and survive at low levels since it can buff and heal itself.”
Here is where the conversation took a left turn into the wierd lane.
Him, “Sure, but your gear is absolute crap!”
Me, “Well no one has great gear at low level. Or do you mean your gear is worse than everyone else’s? {he nods} Uhmm… Why?”
Him, “All the Atonements man! You just can’t make any progress or get things done if you don’t do bad things. Ya gotta figure you need at least 3 attonements each level. More if it is a hard campaign. Those are really tough for a low level guy to afford. You’re probably even gonna need loans or something. Sure once, you get to high level, they’re just pocket change. But in the beginning they’re murder on your gear.”
Me, ”Uh… Or you could just, you know, not do bad things. I mean that isn’t that kinda the point. If you are a good guy, you’re supposed to try and figure out how to do stuff without doing evil things to people.”
Him, “Can’t be done!”
Me, “Uhmm… Yeah, that’s what pretty much everyone else does. I’ve never heard of anyone having a budget for continuous Atonement spells. I know I’ve never had more than say 2 or 3 and I’ve been playing since the blue and pink books.”
Him, “You GM is just being too easy on you and letting you get away with too much.”
Me, “…”, “So where did you learn to paint figurines?”

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Yeah, PF isn't really what I think of as 'high fantasy' it's more of 'all inclusive everything fantasy' to be limited at the option of the GM. But to some people, the term 'high fantasy' means anything is possible.

I had forgotten about Star Frontiers. I thought that was great for a while back in the day.

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Karl Hammarhand wrote:
... Still I would be willing to be convinced that 1st e ad&d had firearms (I gave away my books decades ago) but I sure don't remember them. And If they are there they shouldn'a be!

Yup. They were there. I remember a couple of modules.

One had some shipwrecked natives from across the ocean with 'boom sticks' that they quickly ran out of ammo and no one in the survivors knew how to make more.

Another with ... might have been goblins using the special 'wands' made by a brilliant shaman. It went on to describe them as single use magic wands. But there was a special ritual to make them function again. blah blah blah. But the picture was a primitive matchlock long arm.
I think it was the same one that described a primitive mortar. But it explodes when the badguys try to use it against the PC's.

I thought they were kinda campy and I don't think they sold real well. But a few people loved them.

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Orfamay Quest wrote:


I don't mind a CR+3 fight to end an adventure. But why is it always a "boss" -- a single bad-assed monster?

I have never been under the impression that a boss fight means he is alone. I think they can, should, and usually do (at least when I make them) include minions/guards/golems/traps.

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One of the best I ever saw was with a boss that was actually APL-1 and minions that were APL-5 (I think).


There was almost no chance of the PC's surprising the BBEG unless they really worked at it (most PC's don't).
The throne/temple room had traps (pits, spear, energy), obstacles (pews, pool, statues, slick slimy marble stairs), and most importantly...
The hostages the PC's are supposed to rescue. Each of the bad guys was holding a child as a shield. Several were chained to the floor all around the boss. A few were pushed into the pool where their chains would drag them to the bottom.
Most of the minions had minor area attacks like alchemist fire's splash damage.
several minions were dressed like the hostages.
The PC's had to be very careful about what they did and where they moved to keep the hostages alive while still taking on the bad guys. It was pretty amusing.


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Nagaji, Naga Aspirant 2, AC:20, FF:19, Th:11, HP 17/17, F4/R1/W5, Perc +8, Init +1

Selter charges the rat with his magic active!
club attack: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (17) + 9 = 26 if hits club damage: 2d6 + 6 ⇒ (6, 4) + 6 = 16

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A friend of mine has a GM that has been reading the old Flinx books. He wants to use some of it in the next campaign. Specifically the part about the clan/tribe/family of assassins that tries to ‘off’ Flinx every so often.

He says he’s going to use it sparingly, but enough that it will make a difference. So the group better be able to survive assassination attempts at least until they are powerful enough to stop the whole group permanently. While still able to complete the rest of the storyline in the AP/campaign.

Knowing the GM, they probably won’t be all the Assassin class. Others will be multiclass rogue: fighters, wizards, sorcerers, clerics, etc… Won’t all be lone assassins either. Sometimes I’m sure it will be teams of 2-3. He will try to engineer it so they aren’t always at ‘prepared’ times. In the morning before you pray for spells. Just as you are arriving at the Dukes for a state dinner. Just as your almost finished crafting the latest staff. When you are just about done drinking for the night. When you have just finished fighting a duel. Etc… Anything to try and make it so the PC’s are not together, don’t have all their gear, don’t have their combat buffs, don’t have full spell lists, or just generally are not at full combat capability.

He almost always starts the players with 20 point buy at 2nd or 3rd level.

The players would like some help building individuals and the party as a whole. What classes/builds can survive a surprise assassination attempt and still fulfill the hammer, anvil, and arm roles? Or how ever you like to designate the roles that need to be filled. Face, scout, melee damage, ranged, support, etc…

Monks have moderate skills, great saves, good AC, and good damage with no gear. Seems like a no brainer choice. This would be a good scout and secondary melee damage
Paladins have great saves, self heals, some immunities, and a few spells. This seems like an excellent choice. Cover face and melee damage (or ranged with an archer build).
Beast bonded witch after 10th level might be hard to kill off. Support and ranged with spells. Familiar could be scout.
Clone master alchemist over 8th level will have at least 1 game save ready. I don’t know alchemist well except ones that throw lots of bombs around.
Reincarnated druid after 5th level is even harder to put down. Shapeshifter for melee or caster for ranged and support.

What else have I not thought of?

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I would add an observation here. I hear a lot about how wonderful a 'sandbox' campaign is and how horrible it is to 'railroad' the players (or characters depending on your outlook). I personally call BS whenever I hear this. One is becoming a very negative term and the other is becoming a very positive one. I liked it, it must be a sandbox. I didn't have fun, it was a railroad.

Game style is spectrum not an either/or switch. Few people enjoy either end of the spectrum. If it is a complete railroad, the players don't get to do anything but roll dice every so often while the GM tells a story. But believe it or not, there are a few groups that really seem to enjoy that. At the other extreme in a complete sandbox, very often nothing much tends to happen. The players have no real idea what they can or should be attempting (these sometimes turn into the crazy CN murder-hobo with a vengeance groups). Some people like these, while most get bored.

I know this is nothing like a valid sample set. Most people I have gamed with usually want/enjoy something fairly close to the middle of the spectrum. The GM/scenario/campaign/NPC's/environment fairly clearly push them along the plot line. But they have a fair amount of freedom to decide how they are going to accomplish their myriad of tasks. But then if the players like it, they call it a sandbox even if the GM pushes them pretty strongly in the 'correct' direction.

Some people are a little more to one side of the fence or the other. But I don't believe they are nearly as far out on that limb as the give the impression. Since those terms have such positive and negative connotations, some people will say they want a very sandbox campaign when they actually hate playing that way.

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beej67 wrote:
... I ask the teachers talking here: aren't you concerned about angry Christian parents freaking out? I know I would be. ...

It is rather silly, but if don't use the words "Dungeons and Dragons" you almost never get that reaction. Those people don't actually know anything about what sent them on evil book burning rants. They just heard 5th hand that it was devil worship and drove kids insane.

Try something like, "Many people of all ages are playng these online games where you pretend to be some fantastic warrior with lots of people. It's alot like those except using paper and pencil with the other players in the same room as you."

I have used this description with several fundamentalist religious people that had no problems with it. Some of them I have specifically heard still preaching the evils of Dungeons and Dragons from the pulpit. One even said, "Well as long as you don't bring in that evil Dragon Dungeon Demon worshiping game it's ok."

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Kelarith wrote:
As a GM, it's your job to figure out what are the motivations of the characters. What makes them tick? Why are they adventurers? Why do they intimidate instead of using diplomacy? Once you find out why they're doing the things they are, you can start to tailor the game to those personalities...

I very much disagree.

They made the characters, thought up the concept, and figured out how they are going to play it. Why should I have to read their minds to try and figure out what the motivation is? Tell me what your motivation is.

The AP provides and I will usually construct a few more plot hooks. I am not going to bend over backwards, alter the entire universe, and wreck the story line because you decided to play antisocial, anarchist, murderous, hermit kobold alchemist that only wants to sit in the swamp and make friends with leeches.

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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:

Working as a team for the benefit of the team, without losing the self.

The fact that this even comes up as an issue (I'm not picking on you, Kydeem de'Morcaine, I've seen it come up often enough before) bothers me.

My experience, based among other things on online gaming, tabletop gaming, and my life as an actor (something I've been doing since kindergarten, and while I've just barely started doing it professionally, I have managed to secure SAG-AFTRA eligibility, which is no small potatoes), makes it pretty clear that "teamwork" works best in the absence of "teamthink" - you don't look at yourselves from a third-person perspective, you just do what makes sense, and thinking in terms of "the team" accomplishes nothing good that couldn't be accomplished in its absence, and even leads to the problems its existence is supposed to avert when they wouldn't have come up otherwise...

I am not entirely sure what exactly you are disagreeing with in this section and the article did not make it much clearer. If you are talking about the fad of mangement "team building" seminars. Then yes, I agree that for most people those are a waste of time.

off topic discussion:
Almost everyone understands the concept of team helping everyone. Notice I said almost everyone not everyone.
There are people that really did not understand the concept in any real meaningful fashion until after they went to a course like that. I have no studies to back me up but just from personal observation, I would say that a significant percentage of the people that manage to claw their way to the top in some of the high pressure professions are fairly socipathic personalities that really just didn't understand the concept. I have observed at least 2 individuals go to those seminars and it really was like a lightbulb had been turned on. They were charged up and wanted everyone to go to the seminars, because it never occured to them that the rest of us already understood the concept and were already working as a team.

However there are people who have the basic concept of teamwork, understand that it is a good thing, but simply have no real idea how to apply it. You stated, "... you just do what makes sense ..." unfortunately that doesn't connect for all people. Even if trying to be a team the only thing that comes to the forefront of their brain is do the best I can. To be perfectly honest, I see that the most often with kids who were never in team sports or were in team sports but were such natural atheletes (or at least thought they were) that working as a team brought poorer results.
Think about the players that always have the barbarian that charges in chin first before the cleric can buff, before the fighter sets the choke point, before the wizard lands the area affect spell, etc... then moans and complains about how no one else would support him and he had to do it all himself. It would not be surprising to me if you found that it was someone who had never played on a team sport or it was the 'ball hog' that was always trying to win the game all by themselves.

However, this RPG has a tremendous advantage over real life that is very similar to sports practice. I can have a 'do over' where since I control the opposition I can set them back to initial conditions and try it again with each person following some suggested tactics to see what happens. I have seen several times where the players was literally (yes, I am using the word correctly) amazed by the outcome. Not only did the team do better, but the 'ball hog' PC also did better as an individual. He got more kills, did more damage, and took less damage. Everyone was happy. This has grown into several groups starting to use standard tactical plays (very similar to football plays).

Doing what made sense was charging in first since that's what barbarians are made for. But it was not necessarily good for the team.

Does it work for everyone? No. Some people are 'ball hogs' because that truly is their personality and doing better at the expense of the team really is what they enjoy.

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gamer-printer wrote:
... but there's also an associated curse called the Ju-on or 'grudge' curse. When first encountering the ghost, the party gets exposed to the curse, those who fail to save against it are now haunted by the ghost itself. Meaning the ghost is no longer anchored to the bath house where she died, she is anchored to the cursed characters. If not laid to rest, no matter where the party goes, when she rejuvenates, she appears where ever the party is. This was designed especially for those players that fight a ghost or haunt and not lay it to rest, but just continue on in their adventure...

I'm sorry, but that whole concept is being stolen right here and now! I just have to figure out a way to work it into my campaign in the near future.

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To the OP:
Personally I was ecstatic when my kids got into RPG's and Magic the Gathering. The primary reason is that to play the game the MUST read and understand a fairly significant amount of material! It wasn't homework or practice. I didn't have to push them to do it. It wasn't boring. They wanted to do it.

Him, "What else can I do with my ranger?"
Me, "You might want to check out the section on wands and look up a few spells like Gravity Bow."
He would literally rush off with the book to look it up. Even though my middle child has dyslexia and reading was real chore, he would immediately rush off with the book to work through it. Because he wanted to know what was in it!

Their teachers actually called to find out what we were doing with the kids because they noticed such an improvement in their reading skill in less than a semester. When we told them we just found a game they like with hundreds of pages of written rules and guides, they were astonished we got them to read even a small portion of the books. They were truly amazed when I told them the boys had gotten through and reasonably understood most of 3 large books.
One of the teachers even asked to borrow the books for a couple of weeks (I don't know if he ever did anything with it after that).

Less critical (to my family), it also works on many different concepts and skills.

  • Working as a team for the benefit of the team, without losing the self.
  • List of pros and cons for long term benefits and consequences to make choices in the build of character.
    Basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication skills (though the PF rules for 'doubling' might actually be a deterrent with respect to this).
  • Can at least get a bit of an intro into the concept of statistics, probability, weighted averages, normalized distributions, etc... None of it is talked about like that in the game itself, but it is a topic that can be brought up when they start talking about whether to use a great axe or falchion.
  • Actions and consequences in virtual social settings, lets kids and young adults work through a lot of issues from multiple points of view if you can get them involved in any significant role playing. Think of all the counselors who try to get people involved in 'role playing' as a method of therapy. But any counselor will tell you it is really difficult to get people (especially young adults) to really get involved. Well with this they want to get involved.

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Vamptastic wrote:
I need to read those. I read one book about a guy in a postal office, it was pretty good.

I think "Going Postal" and "Wee Free Men" are the 2 best books in the series. But all of them are pretty durn good.

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Prince of Knives wrote:

The thing is - and this is going to sound simpler to do than it actually is - to balance to the group.

If your entire group likes high-optimization play, being a powerful and effective character is not a problem. If your whole group likes low-op play, or doesn't even understand what the concept of optimization is, then screwin' around with your mechanical build to do whatever is also fine. What's not fine is screwin' around in the high-op game, or deciding that you wanna be the Mother Flippin' Batman in the low-op one.

Ideally you can just start an open dialogue with your group about this, but...not all groups are like that, sadly.

The problem I run into is that most people don't seem to realize where they are in that spectrum. I have recently played in a group for a short while that thought they were all super optimizers, power gamers, super tactical, rules experts, and just all around masters of all they might chose to survey.

They were not.
I brought a 'default' character I have ready for when I don't know what to expect. So he's pretty good at several things. I had to back off very quickly when I finally realized they really didn't know what they were doing mechanics/tactics wise. Don't get me wrong, they were having fun. They had all started up at the same time and never really played with anyone else. Didn't check out the boards. And yet were cranking through some old modules and having a high old time. Like you said, the group was balanced.
But if I had time to build a character based on what they said, I could have easily soloed the whole party and then beat their modules.

A couple years before that was a group up in Michigan that was exactly the opposite. They said they were RP heavy. Didn't like to game-the-system for power. It was all about the story. In reality it was very nearly an endless dungeon crawl, with no RP, and every effort to twist every possible broken rule they could slap together (and 3.x had a lot of them).

I think you really have to play with a group for a while to find what kind of balance is needed/useful/enjoyable.

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It is something I feel I must consider in my home game. Some of those guys are less experienced at building characters. I don't really consider it much in PFS because we have such a huge range in capabilities in our local. We have some complete novice's who are perfectly content running the pregens (they just copied a pregen for the character and changed the name). We also have guys who are much better than me and just completely blow through the worst fights when they get together.

In social/non-combat situations:
I try to in-character involve the other characters. "Hey Planttastic man, is it reasonable to have aurochs in this area?" or "I will distract the captain, see if you can figure out why the barkeep looks scared."

In combat situations:
My builds are rarely spotlight hogs (see below) and if someone doesn't seem sure what to do, I will make in-character suggestions. "Quick, surround him so he can't escape!"

1) When I build for a role/task, I usually don't have everything it takes to do it all myself (at least not well). Examples:
My melee guy is a pretty good tank. Pretty high AC, HP, and saves. But he is only middling good at dealing damage. So if someone else is good at DPR he will probably get the kill.
My social guy has a really high charisma, diplomacy, and bluff. But no sense motive or knowledge checks. So I can make friends and convince people. But I need someone along to tell if I'm being lied to or if the info makes any sense.
2) I don't build fight enders. I rarely make high DPR builds or SoD casters. I make PC's that need others to help them succeed. I have a magus that uses a whip to trip and disarm nearly anything. I have casters that are making wonderful use of glitter dust, grease, create pit, summon lantern archon, chill touch, ear piercing scream, etc... well into the mid levels. They debuff, delay, daze, slow, disarm, and aggravate the opposition.
3) Not too specialized. I always try to make it so I can take on more than one role both in and out of combat. My inquisitor is primarily a tank and intimidator (he is better at most builds for those 2). Be he also has a secondary of DPR, shoot, debuff, diplomacy, monster knowledge, etc... Someone who has build for it is better at all those secondaries. But if we don't have someone at the table who can do it better, I can usually get by.
If you think you might still be too powerful in comparison to those around you, pick 3 primary roles and pick ones that don't normally go together. "I will be tank, scout, and elemental blaster."

That's some ideas anyway.

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I am making a character to apply for a PbP campaign based off the Discworld city watch by Friday. He will be using Absalom in place of Ank-Morpork. PC’s will be part of the city watch. “There will be a fair share of combat but expect social, knowledge, investigation, and physical skills to come in quite handy. I may use some PFS or other published adventures as well as my own material.”

Point Buy of 20
No evil or insane CN shenanigans (have to be able to cooperate with the group)
2 traits
1 drawback
Level 2
1000 gold

The GM worked with me on using the race builder to design a Feegle. Here is what we came up with. (Yeah we know it’s not perfectly Feegle, but it is in the ballpark and should be about the same power level as the other players.)
Fey 2 => lowlight vision
Tiny 4 => +2 dex, -2 str, +2 AC, +2 attack, -2 CMB, -2 CMD, +8 stealth, 0 reach
Slow -1 => 20' move speed
Lang std 0 => common and sylvan
Greater Paragon 2 => +4 str, -2 dex, -2 cha
Advanced Con 4 => +2 con
Natural Attack Slam 1 => 1 slam attack d2 for tiny (head butting people)
Healthy 2 => +4 fort save vs poison and disease, including magical disease (he made a living in the sewers without getting sick)
Stubborn 2 => +2 save vs charm and compulsion
Total is 16 racial points and
str +2
con +2
cha -2

I am initially leaning toward some falconer/urban ranger build (neither of which I have ever done) with a bird big enough to ride. I would say the biggest problem to find a way around is the 0 reach. Any help with that will be appreciated.

For personality, I’m thinking somewhere between Discworld’s Buggy Swires and Dresden’s Toot Toot.

I know most of the Discworld mystique will be in the role play choices and actions. But it helps me personally if I have a build that fits that world, concept, universe.

So, you guys got any ideas?

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As others have said. In a few levels when player gear starts becoming important, the player will have a hard time keeping the wolf alive and effective, yet still equipping himself enough to stay alive and effective.

Go ahead and let him shine for now. It will self correct pretty soon.

Also remember, a lot of people/creatures would be more afraid of a wolf than a person (even if not as dangerous) so might choose to target the wolf first. "Good lord they brought a freakin wolf in here! You and you, kill it before it bites me!"
Don't overuse this however, since that would tend to make the druid's player feel like you are picking on him.

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Mark Hoover wrote:
I'd second what Fomsie said - don't answer every question for the players or else they'll stop asking questions. ...

This. But I don't make it sink-or-swim either.

So I would let them discover a single scroll of identify. But they will have to choose which item they use it on.
They fight some goblins. About 1/5 of the goblins have a bow and 7 arrows. Any arrows the goblins don't use up in the fight, the ranger can use. Course they are lousy quality goblin arrows and have a -2 to hit and -1 on damage. So which opponents get lousy goblin arrows and which merit the shrinking number of good arrows.
Ranged weapons. They can find all sorts of ranged weapons they don't like on bodies. The paladin can carry a bandolier of star knives that he found on some rogue that tried to stab him. And a dark creeper had a blow gun with half a dozen poisoned darts.
Heck last week we laughed in hysterics at a fighter that was running around the battle field and picking up the dead mook's longswords and throwing those at a -4 to hit at the spider kin crawling on the ceiling and throwing darts at him. (He got separated from the group.)
Advice on another similar thread:
Actually this issues is not all that uncommon for some veteran players and is almost universal for new players. Everyone has this tendency to want to save all their money for the ultimate wizbang that they that really, really want. But doing that can make it so you don’t survive long enough to get it.
I think the best way to combat this is to get them to read some of the GUIDES for advice. For some reason if their friend tells them this is a good idea, they won’t believe it. But if they read it from some stranger then it must be true.
There are certain things that I firmly believe almost every character should get at least 1 or 2 levels BEFORE they think they are at a level to need it. Alchemist fire and acid for swarms. Wand of cure light wounds (or infernal healing) Oils of daylight, align weapon, and magic weapon. Potions of remove disease, remove curse, remove blindness, neutralize poison, lesser restoration, and restoration. Ghost salts for incorporeals. Weapons and/or ammo that are blunt, piercing, and slashing. Weapons and/or ammo that are silver, cold iron, adamantine.
If you never use it? So what? It really didn’t cost you all that much. But most characters will need all or nearly all of those at some point in their career. Whenever I use up one of those, I immediately buy at least 2 more of them.
Yes, there are character concepts that don’t want to carry around a tool box of gear. But then that character needs to think about, consider, and develop tactics to deal with those situations that make such items needful.
I once had a sorcerer that had that gear minimalist mindset. But I had spells to get me through almost all of those situation. And I paid for a contingency teleport (long before the level where I cast it) to a temple where I had already arranged and paid for healing from almost any potential condition.
I have a martial character that is only 4th level. He uses a MW bastardsword as his primary weapon. He will eventually be switching to a magic adamantine bastard sword. But he carries a MW cold iron morning star and masterwork silver dagger. He has adamantine weapon blanch already applied to a quiver of arrows. He has scrolls or potions of all of those already in his gear. The only one he doesn’t have yet is ghost salts. That is at 4th level. No matter what shows up, I can still fight it. Recently we had a fight with a minor demon DR 10/cold iron and small golem DR 5/adamantine. I beat down the demon with the morningstar and then backed up while shooting the golem with arrows. I did better than ½ the damage to kill both targets even though I didn’t use my weapon of choice. Mine was the only character in the party that could effectively fight both of them. One of the characters didn’t really have a decent chance to fight either of them. He basically had to roll a crit or max damage to get past the DR.
Have a talk with your players entirely out of character. Explain that ‘these’ are the kinds of things that any well equipped adventurer should have on hand very early in his career. Or needs to make plans to get by without (hoping its not needed doesn’t count).

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Squirrel_Dude wrote:

...Here's the problem with that question. It's not the important question.

The question is: Would it be better for me to stand next to him and risk being hit multiple times, or run past him and risk being hit once?

But it is the question the thread is about.

The OP was asking about a situation where a character (NPC or PC irrelevant) takes the option of total defense. (Not a question on whether that is a good tactic or not.)
The opposition, simply because he took that option, decides to ignore the defensive character because he is not a threat. Safely walks past him without getting an AoO, to attack the second line that he was trying to block from access.
That was not going to be his tactic all along. He had not decided to accept the AoO and go after the second line. It only became his tactic specifically because the first character took the option of total defense.

Many of us (myself included) believe that to be moderately serious metagaming.

David knott 242 wrote:
This discussion has led me to the belief that Total Defense should not prevent attacks of opportunity (perhaps penalize them slightly instead). ...

Agreed. I think what I will propose for my group is that the character may, as an immediate action, chose to come out of Total Defense and take an AoO at a penalty of -4 to hit. He will no longer get the benefits of Total Defense for the remainder of the round until his next turn. Seem reasonable?

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I will make an observation, based on my real life experience for whatever that is worth.

While not a master by any means, I have had some martial arts training. I would say above level 1 monk rough equivalent (maybe even above level 2 depending upon how you judge such things). I have been in a few non-dojo fights (but not all that many).

I can not usually tell just by initial glance at someone if they are looking to knock me out as soon as they get a chance (standard type actions), mostly just blocking while looking for a good opening (fighting defensively), or just trying to keep me from hurting them (total defense). After a few seconds yes, then I can tell. But not immediately.
Total defense is not cowering in the corner behind a shield. That would actually make you very easy to hurt. Defense means concentrating on blocking attacks, dodging attacks, etc... Part of that is making feints back at the other person, changing your stance to look like you are getting ready to throw a powerful hook, pulling up like you are going to launch a kick, etc... If you don't keep the other person on their defensive toes, your defense doesn't work very well. If they would know they don't have to guard against counter blows at all and can concentrate exclusively on offense, it becomes easier to hit you. So a good 'total defense' will not immediately look significantly different from fighting while trying not to get hit.

Even then, when I have decided that someone is not seriously trying to hit me. There is no way they are so oblivious that I could just ignore them and walk past without them being able to change their mind and me getting walloped when I try it.

This is only possible due to the turn based approximation of this combat simulation's rules. Anyone taking advantage of an opponent's total defense to know they can waltz by someone without risk, is definitely metagaming.

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Never said promotion/leadership based on ability to kill was a good idea. I think it is a horrible idea. History tends to show that 'those' leaders are pretty lousy and usually come to a grizzly end sooner or later.

But that is kinda what we're talking about. Some brute thug of a bandit warlord has managed to get control over several bands of brigands. He has them marauding like the mongols all over the place. He's managed to cow several low level spell casters into helping protect him from other spell casters. Plus he some spies planted in various locations.

The cities get tired of it and hire someone to stop him (or the PC's have loved ones die in one of the attacks, whatever...). The party tries to stop him primarily because he is a base thug that beats people up and takes what he wants.

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Sorry if I misunderstood you. I've gone back and looked at your first post. Yes it can be said in a humorous tone. But there is nothing to indicate tone in a post. When I first read it, it looked spiteful.
No I did not quote every post in it's entirety. That tends to confuse rather than clarify. I put the portion that relates directly to what I was saying in response to another's comment. All of them look to me like they are about the GM either directly or by implication.
Some posters sounded hopeful. Others sounded accusatory. Others sound as if the OP should be running away as fast as possible.
I agree the OP sounds like he is trying to make it work. He was just asking for advice on how to make it work.
I agree it is possible the GM suks roks. But I don't feel that a single rule without any of us knowing the basis (if any) for the rule are justified in making that decision.

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Ok, I think people are jumping on the "Jerk GM" bandwagon a bit too fast here.

One little isolated rule change that you don't like does not indicate the guy/gal is a total ash hat.

My current GM has at least 6 different house rules that I don't particularly like nor do I agree are 'realism improvements.' I would say all of them have more effect on the game than this one. But he is still a pretty good GM and we all have fun.

VS wants to give it a try with an open mind and I think that is great. The guy could still be a great GM with much entertainment being had by all.

IF after he tries it, he finds that the guy is really horrible and does other stuff that is a problem, then that is a completely different situation.

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We had a conversation the other day about the types of characters that people play. One of the guys I was talking with almost always plays a wizard who specializes down to the point where he is very nearly a sorcerer. I know “life takes all kinds” and yes it would be boring if we were all the same. Some of the concepts I can see the attraction (even if it is not my thing), but others I have a hard time figuring out why someone would want to do that. {shrug} They like it , so it’s all good as far as I’m concerned. As long as they aren’t cutting into my game, I don’t mind at all. It makes things interesting.
That’s one of the reasons I like PFS. I see a bunch of different players, what they are running, and how they play their characters. Some are absolutely amazing.
I’ve seen a couple in action that my immediate reaction is “Hey I’ve got to try that next time!” Tengu cavalier riding an axebeak.
Some have been pretty kool, but I wouldn’t want to do it with one of my PC’s. A super effective Aasimar life oracle heal/buff bot.
(( A couple have been so annoying to the other members of the party that it was a “WARNING: DO NOT DO THIS!” in flashing neon lights. The noskills / front line Oread tank passifist.))
Personally, I tend to not like purely damage dealing builds. (At least for long term play, they are perfectly fine in a short one-shot adventure.) They feel like they don’t change at all. Yes, I now get 15 arrows a round. But the monsters have umpteen times as many hit points. Yes, my sword now does ~75 pt of damage per hit. But the monsters now have about 300 hit points. Yes, my fireball now does 12d6 of damage and the reflex save DC is up to 25. But now lots of monster have more hit points, higher save bonus, and SR. So I still wipe out the mooks and do some damage to the tough guys. It just feels the same at 12th level that it did at 5th level. I want to feel like I can now provide something that I couldn’t before.
A part of that is just the way that the majority of the games are played. For some odd reason everyone around you gets better at approximately the same rate you do. If you were really a 12th level flame blasty sorcerer, the town guards that bullied you as a novice would quake in fear at your passing. In most games, there is probably a new sherrif (or the old one has been learning fast) that is still a threat to you. That is just a thing most groups do to keep the game from getting boring. I understand that, but it keeps me from enjoying those characters quite as much.
I also don’t like buff or heal bots. Yes I know they can actually be tremendous force multipliers, but I find them boring to play.
What DO I like?

  • Well, I tend to play either casters or hybrid casters. I almost never build them to specialize around just one (or a few similar) spells. I like having very new things I can do as I progress through my career. At 1st level, I’m blinding with glitter dust. At 4th level, I’m dropping them into a pit. At 6th level, I’m stealing their weapon with pilfering hand. Etc…
  • If I do play a purely martial class build, he’s got to have some weirdness that will change over the levels. Eldritch heritage line for new/non-damage abilities. New combat maneuvers that he learns throughout his career. Etc…
  • If a pure caster, I feel a need to put some significant effort and thought into defense and survivability. Pure casters are often very squishy and some groups/players are not very good at protecting them. I’ve seen players make a wizard and still be just offense. They just assume the rest will keep them alive. Then get upset when that doesn’t happen.
  • I tend to prefer spontaneous casters to prepared caster. Yes, I know the incredible power of having the right spell at the right time. However, many GM’s/groups do not often allow you the information or time to prep the perfect spell. So you end up with a ‘standard’ spell list 90% of the time anyway. From a purely convenience / playability standpoint, I am never going to be able to memorize all the spells possible in all umpteen dozen books. I do not want to halt game night while I spend 20 minutes going through 7 books looking for the best spell for this situation. However, between game nights, I can spend hours going through the books and getting opinions online for my spells-to-learn selections.
  • Sometimes I like arcane casters better than divine casters. Some groups get really picayune about how you follow your deities tenants if you are a priestly type. I don’t own/read every possible piece of source material. I may not have the same take on Ragathiel that someone else has formed. I don’t want a big discussion on ‘You can’t do that because…’ several times a session.
    For these and other reasons, my favorite character types have been gish martial/sorcerers (but mostly caster). I pick a variety of spells that have differing and hopefully multiple effects. (Glitterdust to blind and reveal. Ear Piercing Scream for difficult to resist damage and stun. Chain of Perdition to trip and tie up.)
    Lately I have been finding I can do most anything I want with an inquisitor. And they have the whole ‘not exactly following the mainstream congregation’ thing built right in. With the skill points, domains/inquisitions, judgments, teamwork feats, and other abilities I can get almost any kind of effect I want.
    So what do you like and why?

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    Unless it really is anathema for my concept (or he is too weak to carry anything else) I always buy the best non-magic backup weapon I can get after the first loot haul. USUALLY EVEN BEFORE MY PRIMARY WEAPON!

    If it is a melee character I buy the best bow (ex: mwk composite strength longbow) I can use.
    If it is a archer I buy the best 2handed weapon (ex: mwk elven curved blade) I can use.

    Why? My melee machine is already going to be at least halfway decent with even a great club. But if I have to shoot at guys on the wall, an extra plus 1 to hit and getting my str bonus on damage can make a world of difference at low levels.

    Neo2151 wrote:

    In my experience? Because there really is no point.

    When you don't have any feat support and your money is going towards making your melee weapon better, the actual damage you deal with your "backup ranged weapon" is so pathetic, you might as well just let the players who can do real ranged damage handle it.

    So you prefer to just stand there and get hit for free and contributing absolutely nothing except soaking up arrows? Really?

    What if your group doesn't have a specialized ranged build?

    Usually the opponents in most modules/scenarios/AP's that I have seen where you can't close with the opposition (for whatever reason) have fairly limited capability opponents. Low level warriors. Flying creatures with low constitution. Etc...
    So if your melee martial will just buy a sling to begin, a long bow at low levels, at masterwork composite strength bow at mid levels, keep a looted +1 bow at high levels - you can contribute to a noticeable level.

    Democratus wrote:

    Not everyone wants a ranged weapon. It's really that simple.

    So long as they are okay with being weaker against unreachable opponents then there's no issue here. Certainly no BadWrongFun.

    I would never call it BadWrongFun. But usually they guy who refused to buy a sling and 10 bullets is also the whining that adventure wasn't 'fair' or was too hard for characters of our level or was just made to cancel out my concept or etc...

    Zaister wrote:
    Why don't you agree with character concept?

    I would not say I don't agree with 'character concept.' But I think it usually not really the case.

    I have played with people that really do the whole 'only hand to hand combat is honorable' thing. They play it up, plan for it, charge through fire when required, plan for ways around needing it, etc... But those are a tiny fraction of the people that I see never buying a single backup item.

    Usually the guy with no ranged weapon is completely shocked (and often offended) that the GM might put them in a position where it is needed/useful.

    I think it more often the case that they don't want to do anything they are not a specialist in. They won't talk to any NPC because they are not optimized for it. They won't shoot because they are not optimized for it. Etc...

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    I read some, but not all of the thread.

    To the OP:
    I don't think it is very much of a difference between 3.5 and PF. I think it is much more likely to be difference in how different groups of players approach the system.

    I know players that always want well rounded PC's and players that uber specialize until they can really only do one thing better than an average commoner. And at that one thing they are nearly unstoppable.

    To an extent I think PF has more odd abilities that work together really well which allows a player to specialize more. Since that is possible, you also get some GM's that make encounters so difficult that it is practically necessary to specialize to that extent to have a chance of surviving let alone succeeding. But neither is necessarily the case.

    If the GM puts in a large variety of reasonable challenges, it does more to discourage such 1 dimensional characters. Sometimes you have to guard someone, humiliate an enemy, capture a fire elemental, make peace between nations, find out who the killer is, recover the widget, climb a mountain, fight under water, make someone else look good, frame someone else for a crime, etc...

    If the only thing you can do is 'I full attack for a bajillion damage' you might not be very helpful for a lot of those tasks.

    But really the best is talk to the players. "Look if you uber optimize, I just increase the difficulty level of the encounters to compensate so no one gets bored. So you really don't gain anything. And you all seem to be very impatient while watching JJ does all the scouting and searching. Remember how much difficulty you had when DB couldn't do the talking for your group? What about the absolute halt when you couldn't tell who was lying?
    For this next time, let's try to make characters that can do a few things reasonably well instead of trying to be the best in the universe at only one thing.
    I will try to give you varied and appropriate encounters/tasks for that level of optimization."

    Then again, some groups don't want that variety. "I want to be an undead killer in a campaign that is full of undead to be killed!" If everyone enjoys it, there is nothing wrong with that.

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    williamoak wrote:
    ... (sorry for focusing on your examples kydeem, you're just the last post I read) ...

    I am very much not offended. I've had similar discussions with multiple people.

    williamoak wrote:
    ... (most low-wealth systems I've seen give very limited character customization) ...

    I feel PF still has a heck of a lot of customization potential without the plentitude of magic items. Is some way it might have more since almost everyone wouldn't have the 'big six' items.

    williamoak wrote:
    ... The system is built with that in mind ... but the system isnt made for it [low magic items] ...

    From the little bit of experimenting I've been able to do, the system actually works out just fine without them. As I said, most of the 'big six' bonuses just cancel each other out.

    williamoak wrote:
    ... and you know what? I enjoy having stuff ...

    Actually, I can entirely understand this. And oftentimes I agree with it. But I often see that I and other people really don't enjoy having their 'stuff' because it becomes just standard gear. At 9th level they no longer enjoy their +2 sword because it has become even less special than the breastplate they had at 2nd level.

    williamoak wrote:
    ... I like I dont like the idea of existing "entirely at the whim of the GM", it isnt enjoyable. ...

    I sorta understand this, but sorta not. I kinda think you are always "at the whim of the GM" and if you can't trust your GM, maybe you should have a different GM.

    williamoak wrote:
    ... As for all the people clamoring for "special and unique" items, that's all in the eye of the beholder. You see felar's corrosive spike, I see a +2 corrosive dagger. You see a +3 spear, I see a spear of lords (or whatever you want to call it). The whole "liquidate items" thing can be abstracted if done intelligently as well. Return the "spear of lords" to the king? Well he'll hire a wizard for you to be able to craft X gold of items. Or he'll let you pick something from his armory, etc. A lot of folks seem to take the easy way out of (acquire item-sell item-craft better item) when such cycles can be abstracted into something more fitting. ...

    Well it is not entirely in the 'eye of the beholder'. If the group has 23 of +2 or +3 items in the bags of holding. Not a one of which they are even considering keeping and/or using because they can just sell them for to get keen and icy burst added to their scimitar (or whatever). It takes a very special kind of eye to see any of them as in any way special or unique.

    You say it "can be abstracted if done intelligently as well." Well then neither I nor any GM I know as been able to figure out how to do it intelligently or well in the baseline PF system. When I as GM try to describe a unique magic item, the players eyes just glaze over as they wait for me to stop talking then they ask how much they can get for it. If someone where to suggest "Return the "spear of lords" to the king? Well he'll hire a wizard for you to be able to craft X gold of items. Or he'll let you pick something from his armory, etc." the immediate response is "why?" We'll just sell it and pick something.
    I have met a couple of players that will cooperate with attempts to "cycles can be abstracted into something more fitting." but even then most are just playing along and waiting for you to finish so they can pick their item.

    williamoak wrote:
    ... Other systems do it [low magic items] better ... Some people complain so much about certain aspects that are built into the game I wonder, why do you stay? There are SOOO many other well thought out systems out there, that allow exactly that, without the hastle that it takes to change the fundamental system. I currently play a pathfinder game (high-magic, stuff everywhere, a lot of messing around) and a dragon age RPG game (low-magic, very few items, a LOT grittier), and both are fun for different reasons. I get the feeling some people feel forced to stick with pathfinder or something, when there are systems that address exactly their complaints.

    There are several huge reasons I stick with PF.

    1) The overabundance of magic items is literally one of only 2 system issues with which I am relatively unsatisfied. (The other is vancian spell casting, which has been present since the beginning. I much prefer the current psionic system from Dreamscarred Press. But that is a totally separate subject.) The whole rest of the system is in my opinion extremely well done. There is huge amount of customization, choice, and material available. Most of the time there is a specific rule for whatever the player or GM wants to try. If there isn't, it is relatively easy to compare to another rule and decide how to handle it. Overall, I feel it is an excellent system.

    2) I am perfectly aware this is my own personal preference. Of our current 5-7 person group, only 1 other person is interested in trying any kind of low magic item campaign in this or any other system.

    3) Player base. Even if I find Huscergumits, some 'perfect for me' game that addresses everything I want to do exactly the way I want to do it, I will probably be sitting in my living room reading the books by myself. Because find a fellow player for any other RPG is incredibly more difficult than finding a player for PF. I can go to PFS event and invite players I like. If that doesn't work, I can put a posting on the board at my local game shop or on the web and will get a lot of responses from people that have a decent idea of what to expect and whether or not they will like it. I can remember posting to find a group for the old Star Wars d6 system. iirc, I got about 1 response a month. Those would each get tired of waiting and drop out before the next response. The same thing happened with a couple other systems I tried.

    4) As an individual I personally do not have the time, finances, or inclination to purchase, learn, organize, and participate in campaigns for multiple game systems. Even if I already had an available player base, I'm not sure I would add another game system. I already spend more of my time and money on PF than I probably should. I know there are people that have, learn, and cart around nearly everything possible for 5+ systems.
    Great for them if they enjoy that. But that seems to be closer to a job than a relaxing past time or hobby to me.

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    [soapbox rant]
    It is actually my biggest problem with what I feel is almost entirely a great system.

    Just selling everything you find and buying that perfect thingamabob at the Magic-Mart, has become the norm in most of the games I see.

    First, it eliminates any real point to the loot placement. If you are just going to sell everything, why should I (as GM) make any effort to place interesting/applicable stuff. Just you find X value of gold pieces and it weighs Y pounds. Might as well do it just like PFS does even in a home game. By adventures end you found a total of Z.

    Our current campaign, we have advanced 2 levels and I think the whole group of 5 players have found a grand total of 3 magic items that are just barely worth keeping. Everything else is just piled in one of the 5 bags of holding until the next big clearance sale.

    Second (and more importantly), it effectively destroys most sense of the magical wonderment of magic items. Meh, it's just a +3 spear. They're all over the place at this level and I don't use spears. Sell it. This is supposedly an item so powerful that only a powerful adventurer or kingdom prince will have it. But the players don't even care about it. Just chuck it in the bag of holding until the next time we make it to a decent sized city to have a sale.

    That is probably the only change since the early versions of DnD that I don't like. You could have been a 13th level fighter. One of the most powerful individuals in the land. But you had very few permanent magic items. Especially very few that were all that powerful. So you kept anything you found because it was special and you might need it.

    My fighter might be the best swordsman in the land but when the Gigmarel shows up after a couple rounds of combat I figure out that my sword doesn't do any real lasting harm to him. So I try switching to Felar's Corrosive Spike (+2 dagger that does d6 acid damage) in order to survive. That magic item was special and unique, none of us would have even considered 'meh sell it' except in the most dire of need for cash.

    I really wish the rule books had not been written such that everyone thinks the whole table of 'standard' magic items is necessary for every adventurer to have. They aren't. The wizard's headband of intellect and the targets cloak of resistance effectively cancel each other out. Neither is necessary. Most of the big 6 that every one screams you 'must' have are canceling bonus if both sides have them.

    The only real change is DR and incorporeal. But a wand of versatile weapon and/or magic weapon, maybe some adamantine arrows, as well as tactics get around that problem pretty easily. Plus I feel that creatures with DR and ghosts are supposed to be dangerous opponents that one should be careful when facing.

    [/soapbox rant]

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    Nullmancer wrote:
    ... Often times, since I'm the caster, I have to fill the support role to maintain survivability throughout the group. I'm tired of filling the support role, ...

    This is a mistake. Do not be a crutch for them being stupid unless you really enjoy it.

    Nullmancer wrote:
    ... so, my goal is to figure out how to make a class meant for higher level gameplay function at lower levels, in a group where everyone just does their own thing.

    Ok, I did not get this from your early posts where you were asking how we made our characters. That is what I was answering.

    For this goal, the more 'gish' characters would probably be your best bet for arcane might and effective at low levels. A bard or magus is really pretty darn effective at most any level. The first couple levels are tough for say a barb/sorc/dragon disciple but really fun after that. But it sounds lke you might not go high enough level to really enjoy that one. Summoner or its archtypes can be made to work in almost any group.

    Straight wizard or sorc are going to be tough to compete at low level unless you really concentrate on peaking a one trick pony. Personally, I hate those PC's, but some people love them.

    Inquisitor, cleric, and oracle are very good if you are willing to be a divine caster.

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    "Hey I've noticed you don't seem to enjoy gaming as much lately. Something up? Or are you just getting burned out on the game? Want me to take a turn as GM for a while so you can get some PC time?"

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Ok Eirikrautha, I'm going to both agree and disagree with you.
    Some people do only like what you call a 'narrative' game and some only like what you call a 'contest' game.
    Most people I know actually don't look at it as and either-or type of situation. The game should be both. Actually many of us don't like either end of the spectrum and can be reasonably satisfied over a pretty wide range toward the middle of the spectrum. Sometimes I like a bit more narrative and sometimes I like a bit more contest (against the BBEG's not my fellow players or the GM).
    From your descriptions, I would say you are actually just a bit to the narrative side of the middle. Not really clear over on the end of the spectrum. But I don't really know that and I could be completely wrong.
    For me, the narrative has to be plausible. If my story is about lots of lethal fights with bad people nearly as skilled as myself, well in a plausible set-up, sometimes the bad guys do win.
    Did you watch the HBO series "The Band of Brothers?" Some of the good/nice guys did get injured, killed, or maimed. Sometimes even is stupid ways and maybe because they got put under a bad officer. Because that kind of thing does happen. But there were also new characters coming in later in the series (like the might-be-psychotic lieutenant who's name escapes me at the moment) that did become main central characters that were instrumental in the victory/survival.
    Would the narrative of that series have been better if the director had said "Well, the audience really feels sorry for the guys at this point. So let's not have the German artillery actually kill anyone important or likable. And then they all charge across the open space without anyone important or likable getting killed by the machine guns. Oh and yeah the snipers can't kill anyone either. Well, maybe someone can die in the last 10 minutes of the series, but not until then." To me that would have been a lame movie.
    I have no problem being the character that dies at some point. That proves it is a lethal situation and that the bad guys really are the bad guys. Then I can come in as the Lt. that helps to salvage the victory and beat the really evil and mortally dangerous BBEG.
    I guess, to me, some of what some other people call a 'narrative' game seems more like a 'fairy tale' game. Oh we can't have bad luck happen. Send in the fairy godmother to save them. Again. And again... It might be useful as a parable to teach values to little children, but it is not what I consider an engrossing tale that I want to imagine myself being a part of.
    Now on the other side. I no longer usually like the campaigns that have the 1700% mortality rate campaigns that I did as a teenager. Yes, a few guys that die to traps or enemy mook action is in my opinion often a reasonable part of the plot. However, I don't like needing to bring 3 characters to the game with me every night because I will probably need all 3 and might have to borrow some off another guy.
    Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum is fine. As long as you can find some people to game with that are sorta near the same point on the spectrum, you can all have a fun hobby. It is really only a problem when people on one end of the spectrum try to game with people on the other end of the spectrum. One or the other (or more probably both) are going to be frustrated. This seems most likely when someone is actually near one end of the spectrum but thinks he is near the other.
    I actually once had a GM say he was a killer GM running an incredibly lethal campaign. I was worried that it would be too 'Killing Fields' for my taste, but I brought a couple of PC's with me to give it a try anyway.
    He did use way overpowered monsters/NPC's. But in actuality he would have them use horrible tactics or just fail their rolls all the time so no one was ever actually in any real danger. It was very quickly apparent to all of us that if your hitpoint got low, the bad guy would just switch targets. If you failed your save, it was suddenly enervation instead of finger of death. The bad guy was becoming exhausted and his SR was lower so no the check of 13 works even though the check of 17 didn't before. This particular demon is vulnerable to fire from your elven sorcerer even though most of them are immune to it. Etc... It was just boring.

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    Agreed. Looks like I'll be throwing bottles for this fight.

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    When I am the player, yes I want a real honest to goodness chance of death. Freebie wins are boring.

    As a GM:
    I will give a 3rd vote for adding in the hero points to your campaign.

    A few other things I try to keep in mind.

  • I almost never fudge the dice unless I screwed up or if it is necessary for the story. Examples:
    A) Just last night there was a room where the armory was filled with traps. Every item they checked was supposed to have a 10% chance to be a minor trap. Well I made the rolls ahead of time so they wouldn't see me rolling and give the game away. Unfortunately, I rolled 40+ times without a single trap. The odds of them checking out more than 40 items would have been low. So they would never have set off a trap. But for the story arc, they needed the clue that the weapons had been trapped. So I just made a few of them trapped.
    B) Last campaign, I seriously misjudged the synergy of a particular combination of spell casters, mook archers, and terrain. It was stunningly more effective than I had realized. The PC's had almost no chance to get away, let alone win. On the fly I cut the number of successful mook attacks in half and gave all the bad guys a -4 on their saves. The party still barely survived after everyone being into the single digits or negatives on hit points and using over half their spells. By the book it only came out to APL+2. I expected it to be tough, but not that tough. So that problem was on me.
  • I try to avoid using high crit multiplier weapons for major combatants. The barbarian hitting for 27 points of damage is painful. A lucky roll making that 108 damage just killed the PC unexpectedly.
  • I try to avoid using SoD spells. I think SoS are ok, especially for the boss fights. So I'm more likely to hit the wizard with a feeblemind (horrific for a caster) than I am a disintegrate spell. Even a terrifically optimized PC can roll a 1 on a save sometimes.

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