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Most people that I know and PFS ban it due to the way it bogs down the game rather than the actual power level.
Well played and built Druids and Wizards are stil substantially more powerful.
Just remembered another thing I had to learn for the more recent versions of the game.
Back in my AD&D and 2nd Ed days, we could usually run the modules as written. They were normally decent to challenging for the average player.
Most of the time, this is NOT the case for recently published material for PF. The AP’s are written for using 15 point buy for PC’s (most groups use 20 or 25), for players (many groups have 5 or 6 players), and most importantly they assume pretty much neophyte players without much system mastery (yours and many other groups have much more than that). That can make a huge deal.
I usually find that any encounter that was intended to be significant or challenging I basically have to re-write and massively up the power level. I double quantity, add class levels, optimize builds, adjust tactics, add traps, environmental barriers, add hostages, and/or improve equipment.
If I don’t, they just waltz through the entire thing without any real effort. Quickly becomes boring for everyone.
It took me a while to accept the significant power difference between the minimum assumed by the authors and what my experienced players actually bring to the table.
Experiment 626 wrote:
Agreed. Eagles show up and decimate first goblin. I don’t have a problem with that. I meant after that, they are just going to move on to which ever enemy is closest to each individual eagle. They won’t all move toward the chief/shaman and surround him for flanking and to prevent an escape route. That would be several handle animal checks..
Cause it really isn’t.Ok, you fight in a room. Typically they search the room. That is about a min for each square. Summoned creature gone.
Ok, didn’t search the room. The rogue sneaks down to the next door, listens, comes back to tell the rest, searches for traps, picks the lock. Summoned creature gone.
Ok, didn’t search the room and didn’t sneak to the next. There is usually discussion on what to do next, healing wounds, picking a route, travel time, etc… Summoned creature gone.
My experience has usually been that even with the increased duration they are gone before the next fight. Unless of course the whole party is sprinting from encounter to encounter without searching, stealthing, investigating anything. If they are sprinting from encounter to encounter, that should give them other problems.
As GM I haven't found any need to tell them to not summon any given creature. personally, as a summoning PC I try to summon different things all the time just for variety.
All of them have issues and weakness that intelligent opponents can make use of. Do they really shine sometimes? Sure! That's a good thing.
The eagle is the combat machine on the SM 1 list.
But none of them are really all that great in most circumstances. Lantern archon cuts through DR and flies. Great! But it’s about as durable as a clay pot. Reasonable archer or burning hands at that level and they are gone having done just a little damage. Compare it to the damage of a 5th level fireball from a wizard in one round. Not that much.
Now if you have opponents that have DR you can’t get through and they don’t have and ranged attacks, spells, or flight capability. The lantern archons will start to rack up the damage numbers eventually. But if the bad guy can’t get to the archons, what is he going to do? Just stand there and curse at them? No, he’s going to charge the guy summoning them. So it actually can put the summoner at more risk by making him a target.
Again, you have a player that like to make a powerful PC. That is really your issue. Not the master summoner archtype. A vanilla druid could be doing even more with him and his AC both being great in combat. An average cleric could be doing as much and yet be more durable. A standard wizard could be doing more with lots of other options.
The only thing the archtype gives him is that it is easy to make powerful. From what you have said, he doesn’t need that “easy to make powerful.” He will take the time to make anything powerful. So if he were to run a magus, wizard, cleric, druid, sorc, barbarian, etc… he would still make a powerful character and would still outshine your other players that don’t make powerful characters.
Well you see that a lot online, but I actually don’t hear it that much in person. Very few people I’ve met ban very much for being overpowered. Or if they do, they ban a whole bunch of stuff trying to make it feel like AD&D which is nearly impossible.In my opinion, you are doing it best. Trying to figure out how to handle it without banning.
Well here is your issue. If someone likes to make powerful characters and is halfway good at it, he is going to be able to do it no matter what you ban.
I could get much more powerful with a druid. The animal companion would be more powerful than the master summoner’s eidolon, the druid would fight better than the master summoner, the druid is a better caster than the summoner, and he can summon many more creatures in a day than a master summoner. It gets even worse if I use the saurian shaman archtype.
For next campaign (or if this PC dies and is not recoverable) you might try a side conversation with the player. “You usually are very good at making powerful characters, but I think it is making some of the other players feel sidelined. Not saying don’t optimize, but maybe you could try optimizing starting with something that isn’t as powerful and seeing how good you can get that. Like an arcane trickster isn’t all that high on the power curve, but if you optimize it well, it should be in the same ballpark as the others. Or you could optimize something that makes the others strong so they don’t feel left out. Ex: buff casters or the halfling aid another specialists.” It might not have any result, but it is worth a try.
Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
Otherwere: maybe it's just me, but if the situation was reversed (i.e. the DM is throwing a Master Summoner at us, which would be part of a party of other enemy NPCs) my PC would yell: "FIRE AT WILL ON THE BLASTED SUMMONER!!" Most of our party would pool all attacks on this guy until he stops summoning. ...
All of my players know that intelligent enemies will use tactics at least as clever as the PC’s. If the PC’s are smart enough to focus fire on the caster/summoner then intelligent opponents will do the same. Note: I wouldn’t expect all goblins to be that intelligent. But some of them should be. Especially after repeated exposure.The goblin leader screams, "All you biters throw both vials at the funny looking poofter hiding in the back!" When 6+ vials of acid sail over toward the summoner he might get a bit scared.
Plus I would say cowardly goblins might attack the squishy looking characters just because they look like less of a threat.
Experiment 626 wrote:
I can see what you are saying, but there is potentially also a lot of fiddly bits in all the different crap you can summon.Can you speak the language?
Fly, climb, swim, grapple, trip, poison, disease, swallow, handle animal, CMB, CMD, trample, DR/good, slime coating, earth glide, whirlwind, drowning, etc...
Many of them also have spells to learn.
If you are careful to only pick the easy to run creatures, you can avoid most of that. But anyone that wants to be a summoner probably doesn't want to just use the simple creatures.
Also from what you said, you are there to explain it to them and help them through the pitfalls and complications. This case is the GM also learning the system.
Also, I don't think I've ever told a player "Don't play X."
Not too long ago we had a new player. Hadn't played DnD since 2nd Ed but had played some other RPG's in recent years. He immediately fell in love with the magi. We explained the difficulty and that our campaign was already in progress at level 9+ (so he wouldn't be learning it from the early levels). He wanted to give it a try. Sure, we let him.
He did have a lot of difficulty with it. Pretty often, he was making poor choices and nearly dying from them. It took him a good while to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of that build. He really only got the hang of gish-weapon-spell combat about the time the campaign retired around level 15. But we all had fun and he did learn the system.
Well, I'm not quite in the 50+ category. But I'm not that far off.
Pretty often when someone is switching from an earlier version to PF, I suggest starting with just the CRB for a while, then add a few of the other books, then a few more, etc... That lets them learn all that crap in more manageable blocks rather than one huge lump-o-stuff.
The other thing I suggest is exactly what you are doing now. Come to the boards for advice. But you don't need to have all the stuff like fly checks and handle animal checks memorized. You checked with us and now you know about it. Make the player learn all that crap and just occasionally spot check him to make sure he is doing it correctly.
"Ok, did you have it successful make a fly check to hover while it is full attacking? Did you make your handle animal check to get it to leave off from the goblin and attack the chief? Did you make another to get it into flanking position?"
That is perfectly legit and not at all mean spirited. A responsible player learns all about what he is trying to do. It is not fair to just learn the positive stuff and make all the negative stuff the GM's responsibility. Don't let them put you in that box.
that's one of the reasons I wouldn't let a beginner run a summoner. I don't think they are over powered, but there is a lot to learn and be organized. Alchemist, druid, magus, gunslinger, etc... Some of those just have a lot to them. I would rather a player learn the basic lego set before they start working with solid state mechanics.
Not always, but often when I hear about the Summoner or Master Summoner is OP because of X.
Eidolons should always be checked by multiple people. They seem to usually be screwed up.
The summoned animals are stupid. They should only fight with the combat tactics of that kind of animal.
Most casters can't communicate with most summoned creatures so there are limits to what you can have them do.
The eagle is kinda ridiculous at SM1. But its attacks don't have a great to hit chance. Should be making fly checks all the time, doesn't have much durability once your opponents are even halfway decent, and it's a stupid bird.
This also seems kinda more powerful because it is almost a situation written for a master summoner. "You see a horde of goblins. Yeah well I throw my horde of eagles at them." It is literally what they are best at.
If you make a channel focused cleric for an undead campaign, it will also seem way hugely powerful.
One of the occasional GM's at our local doesn't feel like he is doing too good a job. He says he is losing track of stuff and not doing all the weird complex rules correctly.
But he would like a list of some still entertaining/memorable scenarios that are not too difficult/demanding upon a GM that isn't yet really very confident in himself.
Yup he's got Confirmation, Masters of the Fallen Fortress, First Steps, We Be Goblins, and We Be Goblins Too.
So what are some others that he can do while he gains a bit more experience and confidence without 'boring his players to tears' in the process?
Ok, for the future, you will probably get more helpful responses if you give these kinds of conditions and concerns at the beginning of the discussion.
If he doesn't want to let high level characters know there is a high level wizard around, he is basically stuck using low-mid level spells. Most anything high level and the opposition will be able to tell what it came from. Namely a very high level caster. But he can use lots of low level spells with really high save DC's. That can't easily be distinguished from a bunch of medium level casters.
However, you could still use lot of low level summoned creatures to turn dirt road into a muddy morass, temporarily flood lowlands, vipers to spook the mounts, swarms in the supplies, take out bridges/roads, etc...
Charm or dominate messengers to pass the wrong orders (but close to the right one so they think it is just a mistake).
Continual darkness or grease on bridges/tunnels so people don't want to use them. At least not quickly.
Build distractions and/or illusions that they just can't ignore. Small disposable wooden forts that they can see but not on the direct line of march. If ignored they could be a threat to the baggage train. When attacked most are empty, trapped, or filled with illusions of troops.
Charm, confuse, capture the scouts and trailers of a marching column.
At each site, leave several notes scattered around that read along the lines of, "Think what would have happened if we had collapsed the bridge with it full of troops rather than before you arrived. It would have been just as easy and killed lots of you soldiers. We're trying to save the kingdom and save your lives. Your officers are trying to save their own privileged positions and the usurper by spending your lives."
Spread similar rumors in every tavern and shop in the country.
Hmm... How to respond to some of this in a non-inflammatory manner?
I will rarely tell someone that they have to have X. (Except a wand of CLW or IF. It is just plain rude to expect everyone else to take care of you all the time.)
However, it is very accurate to say that everyone needs to be able to deal with a variety of situations like Y. And the easiest (or most common) way is to have X. If you have some other way to deal with it, perfectly fine.
So... What are some of the Y situations that you will need to have a way to deal with?
Things are going to try to hurt you.
Sometimes a place will not be well lit.
Some opponents will not stand right next to you to be hit repeatedly (inconsiderate of them I know, but it happens).
Occasionally your legs will not carry you where you need/want to go.
I know it is hard to believe, but sometimes your mondo blade of supreme destruction may not be the best tool for the job.
An unpleasant person may cast a spell to make you hurt your allies.
I think Sammy T's guide seems to be a fairly good compilation of possible X ways to deal with many of those Y situations.
Not too long ago I was at a table with a PC that did not have any ranged capability, the only back up weapon other than his mondo blade was his fist (no improved unarmed strike), no way to catch or get close to an enemy that did not cooperate, his will save was less than 1/3 of his level.
Bargain/deal with powerful other plane entities. Either to take out leaders or slow down the incoming armies for at least 7 days and the army has to be weaker than when it started.
Elementals/monsters/demons into the opposing baggage train and sleeping encampments.
Summoned earth and water elementals to flood the routes take down bridges.
Various symbols on approach routes.
Walls of stone, sleet/volcanic storm on bridge or in mountains.
If you get the army there instantly and quickly take over, you don't need the baggage train!
Personally, I can see both sides of the argument.
I never thought the early entry to PrC's was too powerful, but I thought the old rule made some of the PrC's too easy. It is not what the concept (in my mind) of prestige class means. It is something you should be working to gain the acceptance and entrance into the organization/guild/fellowship that trains you to be that. It is the way I have always thought of them. But if you get it at 3rd or 4th level, pffft... That is barely starting for many campaigns. You didn't work for nothing.
On the other hand without that ruling, I will admit I usually would not want to play a PrC like MT simply because by the time it really takes serious effect, I'm almost done with the character. PFS retires at level 12 (for the most part) and most of the home campaigns I've been in don't go much higher if even that high.
I guess I don't have a real strong opinion on it either way. I think most home game GM's will pick one or the other without regard to the new or old FAQ. It will invalidate one of my several PC's in PFS. But I can live with that.
... You have made some good points. I still don't think that they make a case for Paizo or any rpg company to publish less imo.
Again, I take exception to the part about people who don't want new material. I have seen that mentioned repeatedly in this thread.
Reading through here I've seen very few people saying they don't want the company to publish any new material. They want something different than what is being published.
I almost entirely agree with you memorax.
The only quibble I have is the part about people who don't want new material. I have seen that mentioned repeatedly in this thread.
Reading through here I've seen very few people saying they don't want the company to publish any new material. They want something different than what is being published.
I sometimes find myself in that third category. I've found the last couple of books I purchased more than just a bit aggravating in some respects, simply because I can't tell what it was really meant to be. Wording it clearly wouldn't have been that difficult or taken significantly more words.
Then again, I am quite possibly not the primary target customer. I do not have an over riding need to won everything. Even though I can afford more, I tend to be fairly picky and discriminating. I spend a fair amount of time deciding where my dollars will go. I am very much not an impulse shopper.
For some groups/players, Yes.For many others, No.
Hmm... Ok, I will make some comments about GM banning. I am in no way saying this for all or even most GM's. But they are applicable to me and all but 2 of the GM's I have known that banned material.
The 2 exceptions first:
Exception 1) The GM was very poor at optimizing. So every time the players came up with a particularly powerful 'gimmick' that they used repeatedly, he would see it as that 'gimmick' being too powerful, stomping all over his campaign, and then ban it. His PC's were also usually pretty weak.
You can say "he just needs to learn..." But he literally seemed unable to do so. I played with the guy for years. He simply does not seem to have the type of mind to assemble the building blocks effectively. And I don't think he was ever able to see that in himself.
We as players eventually learned to not concentrate a build too much on a gimmick and to also rotate through tactical options not relying on any one thing too often.
Exception 2) The GM simply did not have the time or money to own or review all the multitude of possibilities. He ran with CRB, ACG, Bestiary 1, and Bestiary 2. He has those pretty close to memorized. That is all he was willing to use, learn, and own.
When I limited sources as a GM:
Story Time. Several years ago, I made a homebrew world. I made a whole bunch of house rules because it was an experiment to try and generate a specific result in the atmosphere of the game. (Namely I was trying to duplicate the feel of a book series without duplicating the storyline.) I have no idea if it would have worked or not.
I spent a fair amount of time building characters and trying them in mock combats. The house rules did change how quite a few things worked with each other. So there was a bunch of stuff that I didn’t allow or changed how it worked. There were quite a few things that I just didn’t allow. I specifically listed out a bunch of things that I would allow but warned them that they wouldn’t work very well with the house rules. They were very weak.
However, all that was mostly just the stuff in the CRB. I obviously did not have the time to go through everything. I said very clearly, that if they wanted something not in the CRB or not listed they should let me know beforehand so I could take the time to see how it worked within the new rules. Not necessarily banned, just let me know so I could check it.
Then there were a bunch of changes for the plot. There were no elves or orcs, in fact a lot of ‘known’ races were missing. Currently no samuri, gunslingers, or summoners. Gods refused to grant any divine powers to anyone with any arcane powers (so definitely no mystic theurges). Certain types of magic didn’t work or were extremely more difficult (min +2 spell levels) for summoning, dimensional, or teleport type magic.
All of that was clearly written up and given to everyone long before the campaign was agreed to. Everyone said they wanted to try the campaign or I wouldn’t have done it. There were no surprises.
The whole campaign plot was intended to be solving the mystery and find out that the gods had done something cataclysmic to cause those changes. Then if they wanted to they could try and reverse those changes (I actually hadn’t figured that part out yet).
Of the 6 players, 4 insisted on playing the banned races and classes, with virtually nothing from the CRB (didn’t work it out with me ahead of time), then specializing in the classes of magic that were difficult but I was expected to change it back so they were functional again. To be perfectly honest I had set up those specific items to be gone because no one in the group ever wanted to play them anyway. It should not have been even perceived as a loss. But as soon as I said they couldn’t have them, that is all they wanted.
Most of the GM’s I have know had at least similar reasons for what they banned or altered. There was some specific reason that was part of the campaign world or plot. However, they can’t always tell you every reason.
Again, I am not saying that is the way it is for every GM. But it was for me and most of the GM’s I’ve gamed with in the past couple of decades.
I would like to point out that whirlwind and it's prereqs is a hold over from fairly early in 3.0 days. At that time, it was considered pretty dang powerful compared to the other possibilities of the time.
It is a carry over from the days when PF was trying to maintain the sacred 'backwards compatibility' with 3.x editions. I will not swear to it; but I'm about 80% sure I've seen a statement by one of the developers that if they were doing it fresh today, they would not make some of those same design choices since they are no longer shackled to 3.x editions. I'm pretty sure whirlwind was one of the examples mentioned.
Personally, I am ok with some of the poor choice build options. I do have a problem with the ones that are so poorly written that people think it is a good option only because they misunderstood what it actually does (I'm looking at you titan mauler). But poor, situational, unique, and bizarre options really should be a part of things.
Not all choices are or should be great and wonderful.
I have no problem with sub-optimal choices in my game. I'm currently considering making a character that specializes in some odd weapon like star knife, club, or punching dagger. Not optimal. I don't want it to be optimal. I just want to see what I can manage to do with it anyway.
Yes, I am aware. That is just my opinion. Not everyone agrees with me. I'm also ok with that.
Gregory Connolly wrote:
... The GM is often angry at the high op players for not "toning it down" while the high op players are angry at the GM for asking them to. ...
Rather than ask them to 'tone it down' I have seen a GM ask them for something special.
"I know it is not a very powerful concept, but can you run something really weird for me? I don't want a GMNPC to have a mojor impact in the plot, but I would like a unarmed combat arcane trickster in the party. I think you are the only one in the group that knows the rules well enough to make it work. The others are just too new to the game system. If it simply can't be made to work after a few months will try something different."
Worked pretty well.
I absolutely agree. But when I find one character doing way more than seems possible - I go looking at the rules being monkeyed with. Almost every time I find that either I wasn't enforcing some rule, the player didn't enforce some rule, this particular campaign just happens to be perfect for that build, build was optimized way more than the rest of the group, etc...I've never seen one that ended up being 'that is just too powerful' and needs to be banned. At least not in my opinion.
Certainly possible and some group do exactly that. Though I would guess them to be in the minority.
How well does it work? A lot of it depends upon the precision of the GM and the ability of the players to listen carefully.
I was with a group once that played this way. The GM used rich flavorful descriptions that were quite evocative. It really wasn't too bad.
The rest of the group was used to it and ok with it, but I honestly found it kinda jarring. It really did not help my immersion. But the rest of the group really seemed to like it much better.
I also quickly noticed that certain types of builds were non-existent in their group. No builds that relied on heavily AoE spells, attacks of opportunity, mounted charging, flanking, tripping, etc... The different perceptions on who, what, and where would have made those type of builds very difficult to run in a combat. They mostly used single target martials and single target spells (or spells that just say allies or enemies).
What you are asking is such a subjective matter of perception that you are unlikely to get the type of answers you are looking for in a usable framework.
Because the answer is, it depends.
If your group isn't real big on optimizing, the summoner seems very powerful since it is so easy to almost accidentally optimize.
If you don't have someone that really carefully triple checks the build, eidolons are easy to accidentally make too powerful because they aren't really legal.
If your group is really good at optimizing, some of the possibilities with the ACG and brawler are surprising.
If the campaign has short adventuring days, the magus can nova a monstrous amount of damage in a very short period of time.
If the player doesn't keep track of all the problems and issues, the gunslinger is suddenly more powerful.
If the campaign gives a lot of information and prep time to the PC's wizard's and arcanists are almost unstoppable due to always having the perfect spell available.
If the opposition never targets or goes after them, archers and gunslingers can dominate.
If the campaign has piles of low to moderate undead, a force channeling aasimar life oracle is unapproachable.
Heck, if the group really builds as a team with bunches of teamwork feats, almost any builds are nearly unstoppable.
If you player(s) are not very organized and knowledgeable; summoning, mounted combat, compulsion spells, illusions, and/or multiple stacking buffs can grind things to a halt.
If the campaign mostly takes place in a city with 'standard' classed opponents, trip/disarm/grapple builds will easily dominate.
Depending upon interpretation of certain fiddly rules, some of the bard builds can have sky high capabilities in nearly every single useful skill, have fairly powerful mind influencing magic, and still buff the rest of the part to the point of nearly unstoppable.
If the party is always in control of the combats and the opposition doesn't target them, any primary caster who doesn't have to worry about defense is very dangerous.
Sorry, it depends.
Give us a bit more information about your group, yourself, and your campaign. Then we should be able to give you more useful information.
Ok, when a person refers to 'personal beliefs' they usually are talking about morals, ethics, or religion. The whole conversation has nothing to do with that. Sorry, I didn't realize you meant something a person thinks might happen. That is not the way I usually hear the phrase used.
Yes. It is 1/3 of the options on 1 choice among thousands during build. I don't see that it has all that much affect on very many of the rest of them.
I am not exactly sure what you mean by the term 'agency' in your statements. It doesn't fit with what I am seeing for the possible definitions. However, it seems like you are referring to behavior and/or choice. Not sure.
And no I am not assuming that no one can handle the option. Actually, I think most of them probably could. But with 6-7 people at the table, it becomes much more likely that at least one of them can't. If there is one that can't. The campaign takes a nose dive where people are not having fun. As you say, yes I could take away the toy at that point. But I have never seen that save the campaign. All that has ever done is make one more person have even less fun. Campaign dies or at least drags on with a very lengthy recovery time.
Yes, there is a chance that allowing evil characters will go well. But it is the least likely outcome and the improvement is very minor.
I will try to state more clearly.
I will try to state more clearly.
No, taking away that option does not guarantee a wondrous campaign. But it removes one aspect that could ruin a campaign for nearly no cost.
Yes, I have heard some people not like the wizard. Or summoner. Or druid. Or whatever. But I've never heard of including one of them completely wrecking a campaign. I hear that most of the time for allowing an evil PC in a good party.
Allowing evil PC's in a good party has a relatively small chance to provide minimal improvement for the group.
No, neither one is a guarantee in either direction. I am aware of that. I am not taking away all of their choices. I am not introducing a tiny fraction of choices that usually seem to result in bad things not good things.
I see no significant reason to allow evil PC's in a good group for my games. The upside potential is minimal and least likely to happen. The downside potential is huge and more likely to happen.
You keep coming back to me trusting my friends. You say I don't trust them to handle it. I don't trust them to work it out after they have a huge fight. I don't trust them to let it go when their feelings are hurt. Give it a chance and see what happens. It just might be good.
But look at if from the other side. Since they are my friends, why should I want to inflict that stress upon them or our relationships for essentially no reason?
Dying early on for PFS is the problem actually, by level 7 you should have enough prestige to have raise dead cast on you, before that is just a permanent death.
You specifically referred to high levels.
At low levels you are only going to lose a few HP from dropping out of rage. That seems less likely to drop you below con.
I would have to take Endurance and Diehard. Putting off the other feats I want until level 5+.
Again. I've seen little evidence that suggests the allowance of one single optional choice in a game with thousands of choices will make it significantly better for everyone.
That is exactly what I am doing. My experience tells me that allowing evil alignments is most likely to detract from the enjoyment of all the members of the group except for one. Taking it away after having allowed it means even that one person is not having fun. At that point the campaign is probably dead.
Now that is just silly. Because a person has difficulty with one single optional choice, he is suddenly totally unacceptable as a GM.I know at least 2 GM's that do a perfectly fine job with heroic campaigns. One of them can even handle an all evil campaign. But neither seems to know what do do with a mixed group.
But oh well, they can't handle this one thing, so I guess they have to quit. That's ridiculous.
Look again. I never said anything about guarantees. I never said there can't be other causes of friction or GM mismanagement. I never even hinted or implied that.
What I clearly said is of the 4 general categories of possible outcomes related to allowing evil alignments, only 1 is positive for me or the group. My experience tells me that it is the least likely of those 4 possibilities. I have seen little evidence that it is anything other than a very slight positive.
Do you have another general category of possible outcome?
There is very little reason for me to allow that option in my games.
1) I'm not sure exactly what you are getting at here. But it doesn't sound like my goals (or most of the players I have known) in this hobby. I take part in this hobby to hang out with my friends and escape from my daily life for a few hours.2) Has zero to do with my personal beliefs. No idea where you are getting that. I try reasonably hard to make sure players have as many choices as are consistent with keeping the game going and remaining fun. The vast majority of house rules that I use are to allow more combinations and options that the RAW currently does not.
3) It isn't my job to push them into more roles. Besides that doesn't have anything to do with the conversation unless I say that not only is evil alignments allowable, but one of you has to take one.
I'm not sure exactly where you are heading with it, but your incentives sound more like a therapy/counselling session that an enjoyable hobby.
Again, I am not absolutely against the entire concept. I have seen it done very well. Once I was the evil character in a campaign that did pretty good. However, that has been the unusual case not the standard.
I am probably joining a new group this spring. If the GM allows evil alignments will I run screaming into the night? No of course not. But it probably would make me watch a little more carefully for signs of an imminent implosion.
For me it is a matter of odds.
Yes, an evil character in the group can be done well with much fun had by all. If have been in a group that did it about perfectly. As well as another that did ok with it.
But that isn't where the odds are. Most of the time, there is at least one person in the group that does not handle it well. Some person that can't separate the players pretend persona from reality (we're all playing our fantasy so if he really wants to play a bad guy that must mean he really wants to be a bad guy). The multitude of people that don't know a non-ash-hat way to play an evil character (there are a lot of players that are ok playing a good character, but think to be an evil character they must betray the party, steal, be insane, etc...). The GM that doesn't know how to set up an adventure for non-cliché heroes.
By no means definitive, but from my experience less than 1 in 5 groups have every member as one that can really handle and evil party member and will enjoy it.
If I just say right up front at the start, no evil or chaotic insane characters. This is a campaign about the good guys being heroic. Then usually no one gets their heart set on an evil character, might have some minor grumbling (but not usually), then we go on and have a campaign that we enjoy.
So you say I could at least give it a try, you can always nix it later. Well sure. So I'm GM and I say an evil character will be allowed.
Odds are much higher for me to be the bad guy than any other outcome. Even if things go great, what are the chances that anyone will attribute that to me allowing an evil character? I would guess pretty minor since I have never heard anyone thank the GM for making a great campaign just because he allowed one odd option.
If I don't allow it I will not be a bad guy and we all have fun.
What incentive is there for me to allow evil characters in my campaigns?
First off, love the idea of making a teamwork pair with your child. Fantastic idea. On the bonus side, although many people don’t seem to want to admit/recognize it. The some of the teamwork feats are among the most powerful in the books.
Wounded Paw Gambit, Enfilading Fire Target of Opportunity, and Seize the Moment both seem ideal for different types of characters that still use teamwork feats. However, they really don’t come into effect in the levels you are talking about.
The early use teamwork feats kind of require you to be doing pretty much the same thing in combat. Getting up close with your partner and hitting someone with something.
I would look at melee weapon builds that differ based on their secondary roles. Don’t dump your mental stats. One of you bump your charisma and intelligence slightly, take a trait, and take a few ranks in social skills like bluff and diplomacy. The other do the same thing with wisdom, perception, and sense motive. Take different knowledge skills. That will be good enough to contribute at low levels.
Fighters are a reasonable choice since they get lots of feats very quickly, so you can get the teamwork aspect functioning very quickly. I see a few possibilities. Lore warden will get you a few extra skill points and class skills.
Butterfly sting. You make a dex build for lots of attacks with a high crit range weapon (kukri) to give her a guaranteed critical with a high crit multiplier weapon (scythe). That might be lots of fun for her to do the huge damage.
Defensive teamwork like Shield Wall, Escape route, Lookout, Duck and Cover, and Shake it Off. Some people love being really durable and ignoring what the enemy is doing, some find it boring. What would be her take on it?
You run a disarm build and the she runs a trip build with Coordinated Maneuvers and maybe Tandem Trip. So you can both do better at your maneuvers.
The better chance to hit team. More standard melee builds with Pack Attack, Paired Opportunist, and/or Outflank. Works even better with reach weapons and combat reflexes for bonuses to hit with lots of attacks of opportunity.
Some characters can fly at whim.
But yes, if you don't plan for it or aren't careful, you might not be within range to make use of it.
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
ding, Ding, DING, WOOT, We Have a Winner!!!
I don't always remember first, but I always try to offer to get the GM a drink and/or snack. It's just polite, since he is there making it possible for us to play. The game needs him much more than it needs me.
Summoner. When I first heard about the summoner I was, "WAHOO!" Then I read it and was, "What the heck is this stupid eidolon thing? What does that have to do with summoning creatures to do your bidding? Ok, the summon monster lasts longer. Really that's the only thing they get for summoning?!?"
Spontaneous casters. At first glance, I simply hated the concept. What? I can only learn 3 spells! How the heck can I survive with that?
I apologize if it came across as being upset by new players. That is certainly not the case.I make lots of characters for new players. And am more than happy to help them build their own as their skill increases and they want to give it a shot. I enjoy that.
I have no problems with a new player at the table. We nearly all enjoy showing off our cool hobby to someone new. Not a problem at all.
I'm talking about guys that intentionally/knowingly build PC's that just aren't very useful.
Hmm... I don't know that I can answer what your are asking and yet still give you what you are looking for. That probably doesn't make any sense. But I think it is more of a broad attitude of "Try to work as part of a team, be considerate of the other players, don't make it 4 hours of look at me."
Having said all that, there are some types of builds to be careful with. I still wouldn't say don't do it, just be carful with it.
I have a sorcerer that kinda specializes in summon monster. But I don't use it more than once in a combat (often not at all). I have a print off of everything I might summon. I don't use any creatures that I don't understand well. I have the actions planned well in advance of my turn. I also have a bunch of group buff spells to protect and augment the rest of the team. Twice in 10 levels I have flooded the field. But only after everyone at the table specifically requested me to do so and the GM said he was ok with it.
3) Paladins: This is kind of an area and how you play thing. There are a lot of PFS scenarios that if you get real rigid about the code, it is almost impossible to succeed. So some people will hear that Jimmy-Joe-Bob has a paladin and assume he is just going to make things more difficult for them.
A couple years ago there was a fighter at our local that focused absolutely everything on max damage sword strikes. He dumped at 2 mental stats. Owned a normal breastplate, dagger, potion of Cure Serious Wounds, dagger, and a +2 Adamantine Elvin Curved Blade. That is practically it. Any left over cash was being saved up for the improvement to +3. Every feat was to hit more often and do more damage.
He charged no matter the threat level or whether he had a chance. He nearly always got hit. He failed nearly every saving throw. Had no skill ranks in any thing except perception. Tried to push every encounter into a fight even if not necessary because then he could do something.
In one scenario my PC used up on him a Breath of Life scroll, 2 potions of lesser restoration, a scroll of restoration, oil of daylight, Remove Blindness scroll, and almost a full wand of CLW. Just to try and keep him functional and contributing in the fights. I added it up and iirc, my PC profited <100 gps on that scenario. Almost all spent on the fighter.
Did he do more damage in a fight? Yes, but really not all that much more. Certainly not enough to justify 2 other PC's spending almost all their actions keeping him alive and functioning. And he had nothing to contribute in the social encounter or against the flying opponent (since he didn't buy a normal bow or even get a free sling).
5) Not Good at Anything: Not sure why, but lately I've been seeing a lot of characters that try to do a little bit of everything so they really end up not contributing much of anything. Have a bow, but rarely hit or do much damage. Have a melee weapon, but can't really do much in melee combat. Have a few attack spells, but the DC's are so low they usually fail. Have a single die of sneak attack damage, but not enough to really bother working to set them up for it. Have a single channel or low level heal spell, but not enough to make a difference. Not as problematic as 4), but it still really doesn't help much.
Recommended Questions to ask yourself about your PC:
A) What is the primary thing you are going to be built to do in combat? Disarm opponents
B) What is the secondary thing you are going to be able to do in combat when A) doesn't work or isn't a good choice? Hit things with a great club.
Maybe even, C) What is the tertiary thing you are going to be able to do in combat when both A) nor B) don't work or aren't good choices? Shoot things with a strength bow.
D) What is the primary thing you are going to be able to do in NON-combat situations? Use sense motive to tell if someone is lying to the face PC.
E) What is the secondary thing you are going to be able to do in NON-combat situations when D) doesn't work or isn't a good choice? Perception to keep an eye out for danger or unusual situations.
Possibly even, F) What is the tertiary thing you are going to be able to do in NON-combat situations when both D) and E) don't work or aren't good choices? Use survival to track down and find the target.
It is not at all hard to come up with a build that can do more than one thing.
Party had 3 mostly melee characters, an archer ranger flying around on a giant bat, and a mostly buffing oracle (me).
The enemy caster promptly casts dominate on the archer then Dimension Doored back into his tower. All 3 melee guys freak out. They have bows but nothing other than standard martial proficiency. Since the archer planned on always flying on the bat, he really concentrated on the archery stuff and did pretty respectable damage for a kobold. They were sure they were going to get pincushioned. They were actually trying to figure out if they scattered could the ranger hunt down each of them before they could get away.
I cast a single spell Reach metamagiced Pilfering Hand. Used a single hero point before the role for an additional +8 on the CMB check. Stole the bow from the archer who is now only armed with a dagger and quiver of arrows.
I just looked at the other players and said "Do you think you guys can handle it now without soiling your pants?"
I actually tried that recently. it wasn't as effective as I thought it would be. If it had been a bunch of bards all boosting a fighter it might have done more. But all the boosting still didn't bring them up to the level of a martial character.
The bards were still dangerous but it was actually because of all the spell casting. Cast 5 confusion spells on the opening round. Even with an emphasis on save modifiers, some one will fail on 1 of them. Cast 5 sonic screams (no one typically has resistance to sonic) that adds up to a LOT of area damage. Etc...
A group that was more effective than expected was a group of cavaliers. All of them bestowed different teamwork feats on all the others (and their mounts). So they all had 10 teamwork feats active in addition to all the rest of their mounted combat charging danger.
I don't have a problem with the GM running almost all that (but most don't want the hassle). Again as long as every single person I hire isn't going to be murdered or betray me, I'm ok with it.
I disagree on the familiar. The way PF does it (as opposed to some legends or novels) a familiar is very much closely tied to the PC, is loyal, and is obedient. It is very much an integral part of my character. If I can't decide what my familiar is doing and when, I won't have a familiar.
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
... anybody pointed out that his so-called "master tactician" was constantly thinking of terrible plans. That could have made for a much more interesting character—a self-professed "genius" who couldn't strategize his way out of an unlocked cell ...
I actually made a character like that once for a PbP game.It was a halfling that would constantly make plans and give people directions. Everyone quickly learned to ignore Grimple.
Then every once in a while someone would say, holy crap Grimple's plan would have worked perfectly. Then of course I would constantly remind them of all the pain and damage they suffered not listening to me before, so you should do what I suggest now.
It was all in good fun. I wouldn't have done it if the others weren't also having a good time making fun of the halfling. And I never messed things up enough to get anyone killed.
One of the things I really like is to demonstrate the usefulness of things that most people don’t think are too useful.
One of the things I really like to do is demonstrate the usefulness of things that most people don’t think are too worth while.
So I’m looking to do more of the same. I want to make a primary caster (haven’t decided class, but I tend to prefer spontaneous casters over prepared casters) that demonstrates and makes effective use of uncommon spells or combinations thereof.
I had an oracle that trivialized quite a lot of encounters with Pilfering Hand or Chain of Perdition. Those are 2nd or 3rd level spells making a huge difference clear up through level 15.
I have a magus that uses Wand Wielder, a wand of True Strike, and a whip to trip or disarm nearly any opponent. That is a first level spell that a lot of people consider useless that I am still making great use of most every combat at level 7. I expect it to be useful clear through retirement.
That’s the kind of thing I’m looking for. Spells you don’t see people use very often that you have found to be incredibly useful. Combinations of spells. Spell in conjunction with a certain item or action. Spell and a class ability. Things like that.
Yet another vote for Night March of Kalkamedes. I thought it was pretty amusing as we stumbled along.
Weapon in the Rift was the one that felt like I was most actively contributing to the war on the World Wound.
I know a lot of people didn't, but I liked both of the Lantern Lodge and Shadow lodge ending scenarios.
Everyone seems to be enjoying the game, but one person tells me that everyone is grumbling when I’m not around. But no one will tell me what the problem is.
I’ve just had it. I’m going to drop my home game and just concentrate on PFS for a while. Maybe after I cool off I will try to find another group.
No response really needed from anyone, I just had to get that off my chest.
Mark Hoover wrote:
I have seen people/GM's not play along with this.The player says something like your quotes above. Then the GM says, "I didn't say there was a crowd there. What are you talking about?" Immersion broken, embarrassment started.
Some people are then half expecting every GM to shut them down like that. Or at least worried that it might.
If some one else in the group will play along and start those kind of things, often they will eventually come out of their shell. IF they see that it works out well and is entertaining when that person does it, well then maybe they can.
Mark Hoover wrote:
That is actually a pretty good suggestion.Often a lot of people will want to play the strong silent type. Either because they found it entertaining in a book OR because they think it will be less likely to get them embarrassed since they don't need to put themselves forward as much. But unlike a novel, a TTRPG doesn't have internal monologue or an author to describe stance, behavior, or expression.
So they don't really know how to do it.
Last year a guy tried to bring in a silent type. The GM introduced it as us rescuing the PC from the bad guys.
Wait are you saying that PFO is available now.
For a long time I kept checking but it was always in closed alpha/beta. I eventually stopped bothering to look. I will have to go check some stuff out.
As far as the actual type of campaign that does well in PbP?
Well from my admittedly small slice of experience, I think a bit more RP heavy does better in PbP than might be the case for many F2F games.
There are at least some people that do not have the talent (or interest) to speak in a accent or use broken English. Will get too embarrassed to try hitting on the duchess. Don't want to seem like a jerk to not care about the slaves. Doesn't really know how to portray a stuck-up snob. Etc...
But with PbP you have the time to think about how to do what you want. And You don't have to worry about being embarrassed behind the anonymity of the internet. My nagaji can speak with a lisp and my half-ogre will have very broken English. My wanna-be taldan noble can be a snobbish prig.
I think PbP tends to work better if the GM posts (or at least checks to see if he needs to post) more than once a day. Sometimes the actions of character B depend upon the results of character A's actions. Sometimes that makes it so only 1 character does anything at all each given day.
I have seen GM's ignore or at least miss the questions asked of them. Or sometimes not actually answer the question when they respond. Then it needs to be asked again. Often that means there won't be any chance of a response before another day has passed. GM's please carefully read and respond to all of the players questions. Even if the response is just "You don't know."
When the general drift of a conversation is obvious. Just cut-out some of the intervening steps. I was in one where the bargaining question and answer conversation for the very first job took over 3 weeks.
I think in a PbP, it is a very poor choice for any PC to totally skip social and non-combat skills and only be a combatant. I don't really like it in F2F games, but it is even worse in PbP. Sometimes there can fairly long periods of time with questioning, investigating, searching, tracking, etc... in between combats.
As a player, try to post something every day (or whatever the group posting frequency is) so people know you are present and don't feel like they have to wait on you. I saw one guy used to post things like, Agvarb prowls around the office while the word guys talk. He pokes and smells the strange stone images of strange people trying to figure out what purpose they serve in the room.
As a player, try to find some way to involve yourself and contribute to every situation. That will help to keep yourself involved with the story and show participation.
Both GM's and players, when possible and appropriate, use an if then else approach to speed things up.
something different happens
These next few are much more subjective personal taste kind of things. Some people like them, but not all of us.
I’ve seen a few where the GM’s and/or players really push love/hate relationships within the party. If I hate someone, I will probably not be willing to travel with them for years risking my life to save and count on for support. Also, I have no desire to have a pretend romance with some stranger over the internet. Please don’t push it on me.
Some players will fill pages with their own internal monologue filled with teenage angst. Sorry, I’m just not interested in reading all that. I will end up skipping most of your posts and miss the tiny items of useful info or questions imbedded in it.
Not to long ago I was at a PFS table with an inquisitor, cavalier, and hunter (all have some special abilities with regards to teamwork feats). Those three guys have similar schedules and often end up playing together. The cumulative effects of all those teamwork feats was pretty amazing.
My home group is starting to give them some serious consideration. Or if not the teamwork feats, at least planning things like not blocking charge lanes or waiting until after the AoE spells land.
It kinda amazes me how most/many groups seem to do almost no planning of any kind. We're supposed to be these amazing warriors and mages from the time of adolescence until we are almost gods. And in all that time, we never take a few minutes to talk about / coordinate the things we learn or make plans on how to approach certain kinds of situations.
Just to let everybody know, it went just about perfectly!
The action opened with the cavlry team invisible and a major image of them charging around to the players flank.
Tank moved to block the illusion. Party wasted some AoE spells on the illusion.
Then the invisible cavalry charged into the new group flank. Luckily some terrain features still protected the really squishy casters. But the tank and the psychic warrior did each eat a surprise group charge.
Escape Route meant they were never taking any of the AoO the party was expecting to dish out.
All of them having 9 teamwork feats really opened the eyes of the players.
The tank and the psi-warrior were actually getting close to dead and I was starting to get a bit worried that I made the encounter too tough. Then their druid enveloped the whole area in wall of thorns.
Very clever use of the spell. Usually the party would be upset at losing their mobility like that. But in this case the other side had the mobility advantage and it completely stopped all the charges. So to hit rolls lost much of their big bonuses and damage/hit went way down. It also broke up the formation since they had different rolls on the strength checks to move through the wall.
The tank finally got close enough to get a solid hit on the sorc. He had to behave a lot more defensively. And the archer started taking down the cavaliers.
After all the party kept saving vs the enchantment and illusion spells and 3 of the cavaliers were down, the sorc surrendered for the unit.
Two party members got mauled. They got a good demonstration on how effective a group working together (both tactics and build wise) can be very effective. At the end of the night they were actually talking about building the next PC's to mesh together, taking some teamwork feats, and planning how their spells could assist each other rather than just themselves. Put a good scare into them. But they still won and fell pretty special. Just about perfect.
Thanks for the assist folks!
True, but so is every single decision on which table to sit down to play. There is really not any VC that is saying "I need you to go here."
Deciding based on the scenario description is meta.
These guys play enough that they figure they will end up playing every scenario and GM'ing most of them eventually. So I don't see how it hurts anything to use this particular method to decide rather than some other method to decide.
A couple of those guys might be just trying to disrupt the game. Not sure. But I don’t think most of them are. I’m pretty sure they would be shocked if you said you thought that was what they are doing.
One of my personal favorite PC’s of all time was DakTakLakPak a thri-kreen druid back in 3.x times. I had a blast with it. Looked like a monster and terrified people. (Think how many of the old horror movies were giant bugs.) Though he could understand them, his mouth could not make the sounds to speak other languages. So until he got the magic items to handle it, he couldn’t talk to most people. Once he could shape change, he spent a lot of time pretending to be one of the other PC’s pet/familiar. Until then, he got run out of town several times. So he had to carefully sneak into town and watch things from the shadows.
Not a part of the culture where we were adventuring. Gave him lots of troubles. But I found ways to make it work for me or ease around the problems. When I couldn’t I had fun dealing with it. There were at least 2 missions where I didn’t get paid because I was a monster. Once the authorities decided I was the criminal since people were being poisoned by a giant insect.
But I could jump over city walls and was a buzz saw of multiple attacks in a fight. Had some weird abilities that were sometimes useful. It was a lot of fun.
I could understand how it might be fun if number 1) had some weird back story of why he was in the area then tried to figure out ways to make use of the rhino or at least magic to be able to take it along to use later. He didn’t. His entire build including purchased items was centered around a trampling charge. Then he would be upset when he couldn’t take the rhino inside building or narrow caverns. Yes, it might have been useful in the Drow city if he could have gotten it there. He made no effort to try and figure out a way to do that. Just complained when we got there and he didn’t have it. He wasn’t a totally useless character. Full BaB and reasonable weapon damage. But he wasn’t quite as good a combatant as another character’s cohort bodyguard since most of his special abilities were centered around mounted combat.
I can see role playing a not formally trained instinctive angry fighter like number 2) and I have done so. But it would be perfectly in character to assume that a person that continually gets into unarmed combat situations will get better at it through trial and error. Even without any formal training you would get better at it. So after a couple of levels take one of the rage powers that would help in a grapple or the improved grapple feat. But he didn’t do that because his build was about the two-handed weapon damage and those abilities would detract from that. I could still sorta see it if he only did it occasionally and was willing to take the consequences. But he did it really often (even when we didn’t need/want a live captive) and always seemed very upset that it wasn’t working well.
I could see a lot of potential - though it would be exceedingly difficult - with number 4) if the player had some kind of arcane caster that hid his abilities so he could infiltrate and change the organization or status quo. He didn’t. The character had zero capability to disguise or hide what it was. He had prepared/considered nothing to say how he could possibly be a part of the organization that was trying to kill him. The GM eventually said he could be a slave of the church that was being forced to hunt for them. Neither the player nor the GM was really happy with it, but no one could think of anything better.
Number 5) could have had some back story about how she was forced to be trained as a covert agent. But never wanted that and was rebelling against that earlier training that didn’t fit her personality. As she gained levels she could multiclass into a martial class and learn to fight aggressively. Again learning by trial and error or getting combat training. There is a whole series of novels about a character like that. She would still have some decent sneak capabilities if ever needed, but she could have learned to do well what she was always trying to do anyway. But she didn’t do that. She was a member of the Grey Cloaks (or something like that) and they were sneaky blades. So that was all her build was about even though she almost never actually did that.
Group didn’t have a healer so she spent a lot of recovery money at the church. Also complained about that when buying gear.
There are probably many ways that any of the examples could be made to work in the campaign, be interesting, be successful, and still make sense in-character. But these players weren’t doing that. They were intentionally picking something that didn’t work in the campaign or at least didn’t succeed the way they were playing it. And as far as I could tell they were making little-to-no effort to figure out a way to make up for or enjoy those disadvantages.
I don’t understand how they thought that would be fun.
When I first started playing, we never checked anything with the GM. Back in 1st Ed. There really wasn't that much difference/choice in the characters. GM's rarely modified the world they had created for the PC's. The crime lord did what seemed logical to him within his resources. The PC's had to figure out how to deal with it or die trying. (Usually die trying.)
With the Skills & Powers in 2nd Ed, we started working with the GM and rest of the group a lot more. There were suddenly so many possibilities that things could get weird without some coordination.
Some time in the last 5 to 10 years things seemed to change. Most groups I've seen do not do any coordination during creation. GM says what he is running (usually with a fair amount of group discussion). Then the players show up with PC's at the first game session.
I have been trying to get my current groups to spend a bit of time coordinating to create a team so they have the main abilities covered and the GM has some idea what to expect. But there is a lot of resistance to that whole concept.
The first time we had a character generation session, everyone had a complete character (with full level progression and item purchase plan) when they walked in the door and almost zero intention of change or compromise. It was very nearly a complete waste of time.
The second time worked a little bit better. But there is still resistance to any hint of you should/shouldn't do X.
I can understand wanting to be special. I think every character I have ever played is special.
I don't think failing at what you try to do is special.
... and the other is likely the result of someone else making a character for them. ...
Number 2) might have had someone else make the character. I don't know that player very well. I am very sure all of the others made their own character.