|Landon Winkler Goblin Squad Member|
It's not a problem in actual banditry. If the tools you're using to encourage banditry also reward "randomly killing people for no reason," then you have a problem.
I'm sorry if it wasn't clear I was talking about the Conga Line in regards to other people who want Fleeced removed. If you want to keep Fleeced, that's obviously not a problem.
I also did read your first post and understood the problem you're pointing out. That's actually why I suggested penalizing the people who S&D'd someone first than the person who did so last, because the Fleecer in town would be the one taking the hit and the actual bandits would be in the clear.
Even if you hate the idea, it's not me trying to undercut your bandit mojo. I'm just seeing if we can find a better fix than the Fleeced tag.
Wow!! You really are at a huge disadvantage... I wouldn't even try to harvest and bring to market resources with a deck stacked against me like that.
Yeah, I know, it's hard being me :P
In-game, I'll obviously be struggling to avoid bandits as much as possible. It doesn't mean I want that to be made easy. I just don't want the experience when I do get caught to be miserable. I don't think that's much to ask.
In all seriousness, I think a system where Outlaws gain (instead of lose) reputation for killing people near their hideouts would be more fun for me, the non-Outlaw, than Stand and Deliver. That would make life way harder, but certainly more interesting.
Which is to say: I really don't think Stand and Deliver is too hard. I'm just not seeing how it'd actually be fun yet.
Anyway, we seem to be talking past each other, but I hope you get an answer to your question about Fleeced. You did raise a good concern
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
The reason I think the reputation loss is an interesting idea is because I think it would really motivate bandits to go after others in their territory, and that's what they should be doing.
Yeah, it's kind of funny being accused of trying to destroy PvP when I want to open up the conflict to more parties. Encouraging outlaws to claim territory (outside of the settlement system) can be done in a number of ways, but is really something that should be done somehow.
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
I also see appeal in just scrapping the Fleeced flag (or making it strictly for show, so other bandits know they've got competition) but I think the reputation loss idea has a lot of merit.
Yeah, I'm not a big fan of Fleeced. But, if the alternative is letting people get stand and delivered over and over, I'll take it.
Thanks--that's exactly what you're missing. The system is NOT meant to make PvP infrequent. It's for PvP to make sense.
I absolutely agree that it's a goal to create a structured PvP environment.
But why do they want structured PvP? It's not so it's internally consistent. It's nice if it makes sense, but it's structured to drive certain player behaviors.
That's probably not news to you. I mean, they say it at the top of the blog, so I don't feel I'm showering you with ancient wisdom or anything. But they're trying to discourage behaviors that make PvP victims hate the game.
Near the top of that list is getting ganked over and over while they're trying to do something else. If people didn't hate that and Goblinworks weren't trying to discourage it, we wouldn't have all these flags and timers and reputation hits. If you were expected to be unprotected in the wilderness, no one would lose Reputation outside of town and flags like Traveler wouldn't exist to reward dropping your protection.
So the point of the robbery system is to create a framework victims can enjoy more than getting ganked. Then the game rewards outlaws for using Stand and Deliver rather than just attacking, making PvP more enjoyable overall.
Which means if someone's suggestion for Stand and Deliver is as bad as getting ganked or allows people to be gank with impunity, that's completely relevant. The system can make all the sense in the world, but still fail at it's primary goal of encouraging positive behavior.
It's supposed to be non-consensual PvP. So if SAD is every bit non-consensual PvP, then the design goal is being met. Choosing how to solve a social problem like robbery, both in the immediate tactical sense of a stick-up, and in the larger, strategic sense of making a hex safe for passage, is a big part of the content of the game.
Well, one of us is deeply misunderstanding what Goblinworks wants to do with this system.
Goblinworks has put a lot of time and effort into gently encouraging people to open themselves to PvP precisely because they don't want a lot of non-consensual PvP going on. I don't know why they'd go through all that effort, then let thieves run rampant.
On a deeper level, getting bullied and shaken down might actually be less fun than getting ganked. Much of the reason people quit after ganking, particularly repeated ganking, is the feeling of powerlessness.
And after you've been shaken down a couple times in a row and admitted you can't do anything about it, why bother logging back in?
Bending people to your will by making them admit their own powerlessness might be "content," but I can't see how it fits into the vision of a game with limited PvP.
Basically, suggestions that destroy game content aren't useful.
That's a good catch phrase but, like most catch phrases, misses the point. Content can and does have negative consequences on the game, far beyond the value it adds.
I'm probably going to end up being a harvester in game, the sort of person you want to be robbing. I could advocate for a system that let me get rare resources in safe areas. That's content and I'd play the hell out of it, but I'd enjoy the game less because there's no risk and you'd enjoy the game less because you couldn't steal my stuff.
Similarly, you're asking for the Goblinworks-sanctioned ability to rob or attack me without consequences. The content there is me. I'd enjoy the game less because their idea of limited PvP was a complicated sham and I don't need games to experience the feeling of powerlessness. And you'd enjoy the game less because you couldn't steal my stuff.
The actual way for you to maximize PvP content is to do exactly what Goblinworks is doing: discourage non-consensual PvP and encourage people consenting. It's better for your non-consensual PvP to come at a cost than to not have victims.
I wish they would base market data off of settlement progress. Use the settlement level to dictate how much info is available in surrounding hexes. Settlements that are on good terms with each other Would offer more market data between them, while settlements with bad relations would have very little market data being swapped. Obviously alliances and player kingdoms would have even more data available to its members.
They're just bowing to the reality that there will be a website with all the information on it, updated constantly, regardless of what they do. So just letting people search globally, rather than having a complex system of views, cuts out the middle man and saves work.
It sucks, but sometimes you can't beat 'em and have to do the other thing.
That said, they can obviously still make people go to wherever to pick up their item. Which means the economy will still function, it's just a little more transparent than it would be in a perfect world.
This is what I think bandits do. I have been playing bandits or pirates for years. They never escort their victims to safety.
That may not be how you've played them, but protection rackets (and that's what we're talking about here, a protection racket) depend entirely on the assurance of safety for the people who pay into the racket. It is neither uncommon for rival organizations to target those under each other's protection nor for that to come to blows.
And that applied just as much to old pickpockets and bandits and landless knights as it does with modern criminals.
Now, if you want to kill someone and take their stuff, you can clearly just do that and take the Reputation hit. But Stand and Deliver is obviously intended to create a framework for semi-consensual PvP, which what you're describing does not.
If you want people to play victims and robbers with you, you need to be prepared to put something other than "oh, I'll only rob you" on the table. Otherwise the only winning move is not to play.
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
If it's used, both bandits should be aware of who the other is.
Assuming the second bandit isn't penalized (and I'm not thinking they would be by the game mechanics, it's just that someone might be angry at them), then they don't necessarily need to know. In fact, having it be invisible could be an interesting interplay with the victims.
Like saying "C'mon, KoboldCleaver robbed us like a minute ago!" and hoping the second bandit doesn't want to risk poaching someone else's mark and getting killed.
But I agree the one whose mark got poached should definitely find out. Losing reputation and not being able to take reasonable action would suck.
Even as someone far more likely to be targeted by bandits than engage in banditry, I'm not sure I can get behind the Fleeced flag.
During that time, if someone else issues a Stand and Deliver to the target, the original Outlaw starts losing Reputation instead... until the new Outlaw is dead.
This should discourage the conga line while also not giving travelers exploitable immunity. Being able to kill the new Outlaw prevents some other exploits, like friendly Outlaws being able to deny other Outlaws their ill-gotten reputation.
It also gives Outlaws a good reason to claim territories and keep other Outlaws out, which I think is a plus.
Actually, you aren't allowed to toggle those flags if you have Heinous. I assume creating undead while an Outlaw or Assassin will cancel your Outlaw/Assassin flag.
Pretty sure it's the other way around. You can't turn it off while you're heinous.
From the blog: "This flag cannot be disabled while Attacker, Criminal, or Heinous (or their 24-hour versions) are active."
For comparison, the Champion equivalent: "This flag cannot be activated while the Attacker or Heinous flag (or their 24-hour versions) is active."
Hmm.. depending on who your allies are, they may well whack you anyways I imagine summoning undead alongside your lawful good paladin allies will be one of the fastest ways to see the business end of a two-hander.
They certainly could if they wanted too, but we haven't seen any punishments for not killing anyone yet, so the paladin's probably fine just letting that slide. If they want to roleplay it, obviously, that's between you and your friendly neighborhood paladin.
Precisely. Evil will always attract some players simply because "evil".
Yup, for the evulz. It's hard to overestimate the draw of having "Villain" next to your name.
Richter Bones wrote:
This puts a whole spin on it. I could literally be an Enforcer, flagged all the time, and just bring out the undead to help with my enforcement!
Oh, Enforcer, that's delightful!
Richter Bones wrote:
There may not be player created undead, depending on the Crowdforging, so Goblinworks may be way ahead of us :)
But my hypothesis is that people who are flagging already will use undead if they're available. If you're already an Assassin or an Outlaw, it doesn't matter at all that you roll up with some zombies in tow.
And if you're at war? Unless there are a bunch of unaligned spectators, everybody there is either your ally or getting ready to kill you anyway. Might as well bring a ghoul along, they'll have plenty to eat when you're done.
Furthermore, I'd be shocked if there weren't people specifically trying to stay flagged villain at all times. Because what better way is there to prove you're a badass than strolling into a good settlement with your villain flag flying proudly and seeing if they have any crusaders worthy of the name?
Ryan Dancey wrote:
They do take an awful lot of coding, from my understanding, and introduce a lot of bugs for how many people actually use them. But that's also just one man's opinion :)
I agree that certain acts SHOULD have concequences but I feel that GW has gone WAY too far. They have basically painted big targets on every player who wants to use undead. Does not matter that I do not go out and attack random people. Does not matter that all I may want to do is PvE. If I have undead anyone can just come up and attack you with no consequences. That is NOT meaningful PvP!
I just can't get too worked up about it.
I mean, I want to harvest materials and sell them... maybe craft some if that's fun. It doesn't matter that I don't want to PvP doing it and it's unlikely I'll ever attack anyone, I'm going to be involved in PvP. Goblinworks explictly wants people to attack me. They have a whole system set up to kill me if I cross certain lines.
And I agree with that from a design standpoint. I'll even enjoy the game more because of the threat of PvP.
Nobody's making me go into dangerous areas and nobody's making you raise undead. We're accepting the consequences when we take those actions. We're both opting in for the benefits it gains us. That's meaningful PvP.
I want to move around the game freely without paying tolls or paying attention to borders. You want to conjure the dead. We can both get what we want, Crowdforgers willing, if we're willing to take the risks. I guess I just don't see the problem.
I'm ready to give the computers a shot. Even if I don't agree with the lines they draw, at least there'll be a codified set of rules that nobody can argue their way out of.
We need more information to judge the details, but these arguments have only made me confident that alignment is a better addition to Pathfinder Online than it has been to tabletop games.
Assisting in the running of a settlement or doing work for a settlement, could easily be a lawful act. A chaotic settlement probably has less people (or even no) people active this way, but taking time to work for your community is lawful, even if the community itself is chaotic.
I imagine praying at or donating to the temples of lawful gods would be considered a lawful act.
On the lower end of the scale, official commerce could also be a minor lawful act. If you go to a settlement with a sales tax and purchase items, paying the tax rather than finding a fence, that's coloring in the lines.
In a general sense, I'd any acting interaction with a settlement's laws (like taxes or buying plots of land) could grant lawfulness. Meanwhile, the laws that exclude certain actions would grant chaoticness if broken.
Killing certain monsters will assuredly be good. This will probably include a lot of monsters, but almost has to include undead, evil outsiders (devils/demons), and evil dragons.
Helping the downtrodden (read: NPC townsfolk) is another classic way to be good. In a perfect world, they'd have small problems that you could solve like little quests. Even without a system like that, however, giving them stuff or helping with their tasks and turning down payment could be a good act.
Healing magic is traditionally associated with good, so it makes sense that healing non-evil people would grant "goodness." There always need to be some restrictions here (like 1/day per target), but it can work out.
Again, I imagine praying at or donating to the temples of good gods would be considered good. A system where you can "pray away" evils might seem silly on the face of it, but most religions accept prayer as a minor form of penance.
Being a Paladin
Sounds about like what you'd want a paladin to be doing. It's not perfect, but if the numbers line up correctly, you'll have people (on average) acting more like paladins online than around the tabletop.
What I mean there is that you won't see paladins in most tabletop groups taking a break after losing their temper and killing someone to pray for penance or turn around and give the loot they found to a poor family. But even a relatively simple set of automated rules can encourage people to think about good like their paladin should.
GrumpyMel, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but there's going to be some system to discourage random ganking. If it's not alignment, it'll be reputation; if it's not reputation, it'll be flagging; if it's not flagging, it'll be something else.
I understand your argument that it'll encourage gankers to just find some way to gank while maintaining the goodies for not ganking. But I don't think that's a winning argument.
And, in any case, it doesn't really have anything to do with alignment. There's going to be a system to discourage ganking, even if you win a thousand arguments on alignment.
If that's the real heart of your complaint, I'd suggest just dropping it. Alignment is a fine fit and whatever replaced it as the new anti-ganking method wouldn't have the same connection to Pathfinder.
I don't think you understand just how limited the system is...
Then you're wrong.
I completely understand that computers can't catch all negative behavior. I think everyone who frequents the internet has figured that out, but I work with this stuff everyday and might be giving people too much credit.
I just don't think your suggested solution is a good one. You've spent a lot of time in this thread criticizing Goblinworks' alignment system because lawful good people can still be jerks in chat, but suggest an alternative where they can be jerks in chat and slaughter countless innocents with impunity.
Just because a computer can't perfectly implement my tabletop vision of the alignment system doesn't mean that there isn't a one it can understand. And that alignment system, based on actions, will be closer to my vision of alignment than a dropdown "for roleplaying purposes only" could ever be.
I believe that "professions" should be on their own timer, distinct from your normal character abilities. This would allow all characters to craft, but it wouldn't take away from those people that choose to focus on crafting, if designed well. The required "merit badges" to get the higher end crafting abilities would need to require some intense work on the part of the crafter, and show the kind of dedication that most casual crafters wouldn't be interested in. I trust that the designers at GW could come up with a system that would not make us sacrifice class advancement, in order to be involved in the market place.
I think you've got this backwards. It seems to me that sacrificing class advancement to be involved in the marketplace is the point.
With all skills competing, you'll have specialists in combat and gathering and crafting. Eventually people will get everything they need and be able to do things more independently, but that's not something that's just handed out.
Letting people double up the way you're suggesting is a fine solution for games that don't care about crafting or assume that everyone will be crafting their own stuff. But a game that wants trade and interaction between professions, it's a step in the wrong direction.
Perhaps more importantly, giving away trade skills for free immediately sends a signal to players that those skills are, well, worthless. If you want people to take crafting as seriously as combat, it has to require the same investment as combat.
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Suffice to say, we are working to add more of the later to the rules. Much of the rest that is described here as an issue deals with tone and setting. The text dealing with that was not included in the playtest for a number of reasons, but primarily because it just was not ready yet. There is going to be a significant section of the book talking about how to build mythic games and how to make it more of a impactful change in your game than just some numbers. We are getting there.. but for now, the playtest needed to focus on the mechanical. Its hard to playtest background info.
Sounds like just the thing! Looking forward to see what you come up with.
Then you have no reason to buy the Mythic rules, if you can't expect them to change or support a mythic tone, that's why it's a bad thing. I never said every permutation needed to be covered, but there needs to be guidelines; when all of the abilities are boring number boosters, then you've set a precedent that anything new fits that paradigm of boring numbers. If all of the actual mythic activities fall under pure Mother-May-I without even benchmarks to go off of, then there is no reason to get the supplement.
If I couldn't expect them to support a Mythic tone, I wouldn't have any reason to buy the rules, no.
But that's why I said this immediately after what you quoted:
Some crazy looking elf dude wrote:
Rules can certainly support the tone of your game, but the GM and players set the tone.
For example, I've run Mythic games using bog-standard 2nd Edition D&D. Some rules would have helped, largely to separate the play experience from other D&D campaigns, but the setting and storylines and social contract are what make a game Mythic or not.
I wouldn't object to some benchmarks, but we're talking about myths here. Stories. Did Hercules's have to make a DC 50 Strength check to reroute a river or was that Mother-May-I? Did Coyote have a "Steal Celestial Objects" feat or was that Mother-May-I? Did Perseus have an ability to petrify people that required a gorgon's head or was that Mother-May-I?
Maybe you set an arbitrary DC for Hercules and make him roll. Maybe you give Coyote "Steal Celestial Objects" then still narrate the consequences through DM fiat. Maybe Perseus's Mother-May-I comes in the convenient package of a magical item.
But it all plays out the same way. I'd rather we just be honest that myths follow the Rule of Cool rather than pretending there's a chart that can make things Mythic.
So, what I want out of the book is a lot of good ideas for telling Mythic stories and seeds for Mythic campaigns. I want rules for handling combats that are different enough players feel more awesome than normal. And I want rewards (lesser trials) and costs (Mythic Points) for handling edge cases around the Rule of Cool.
And, yes, I would happily be in line at GenCon to buy that book, even though it all comes down to Mother-May-I. Because otherwise I wouldn't buy any roleplaying books at all.
You mentioned upthread a "god-slaying apocalypse cult allied with a race of vengeful exiled proto-angels" in your home campaign, which sounds completely awesome.
Would you mind expounding on them and that plot arc a bit?
Okay. What the hell is this DOT stuff about?
When you have a post in a thread, it displays with a dot next to it in the list. It makes it easier to pick out.
I interpret it as "I approve of this thread and want to keep track of it." But I never do it, so I might be making things up!
James Jacobs wrote:
...involved a god-slaying apocalypse cult allied with a race of vengeful exiled proto-angels has yet to manifest in print...
So, could you expound on these guys a bit? Because that's one of the coolest sentence fragments ever.
Not asking for anything Golarion-specific here, obviously. I'm just wondering how that played out in your home game.
My players love the Pathfinder Society... which is kind of funny, because I just included them to namedrop Sheila Heidmarch (we're going to be running Shattered Star next and I thought it would be a good "Easter Egg"). But they got to talking about how she's short-staffed and they signed right up.
Did I make them go through years of hazing and scrubbing chamber pots? No, because that's a giant waste of resources and she's not an idiot.
Now, she has her own agenda separate from the Decemverite, but so does every other Pathfinder and Venture Captain. And I think if you focus on their agendas, you'll have a lot more fun with the society and with its members.
And if some people have to scrub chamber pots until they're ready to be field agents, that puts them in good stead with apprentices and monks and soldiers all over Golarion.
Skinsaw Murders (Session 1)
Making their way along the increasingly muddy road, they were ambushed by a pair of frog-like humanoids, shaking the wits of the Goblinslayers (and the Goblinslayers' horses). Fijit exclaimed "Boggards!" and quickly set to calming their hearts with the gift of song.
The trio dismounted, with Kriger taking care that the horses didn't bolt. Tobar began slashing into the boggards as Kriger noticed what was spooking the horses: three serpentine fish known as swamp barracudas.
Although Kriger's mount was seriously injured, and healed just as quickly by Kriger, they were able to quickly disperse the boggards and barracudas.
Fijit, remembering something she read in a travelogue, noted that the barracudas are said to be quite tasty. They agreed the haul one of the fish to the Foxglove Manor, hoping that the cooks wouldn't be too put out by its sudden appearance.
From the porch of one of the farmhouses, a gruff voice challenged them. "Who's there? Where you going this time of night? It ain't safe round these parts!"
Kriger responded. "We are but travelers." Apparently thinking that was lacking in details, Fijit added. "We're heading to Foxglove Manor."
"I wouldn't head up that way if I were you, 'specially not at night. Yer all welcome to stay here for the night. We have plenty of space and hot fires."
Fijit and Kriger both peered at him, but eventually judged his motivations to be as he said, a simple fear for their fate and common country decency.
Fijit shrugged. "It would probably be impolite to show up this long after nightfall anyway. Better to come in the morning."
"It's settled then!" he waved them in. "I'm Maester Grump. Ah, and you," he pointed at Kriger as he came into the light, "must be Zantus's Ulfen kid."
Kriger smiled. "Something like that. You know the father?"
"Ah, yes, I try to visit every time I head to town. I heard you all were going to build a nice new chapel."
Kriger and Toby enthusiastically nodded, with Kriger adding. "It was actually just consecrated, you should drop by next time."
"Sounds lovely, I think I shall." As an afterthought, he added, "Agnes! Put some water on for tea!"
Fijit gestured to the fish. He blinked a few times and added "and get ready to cook up a fish. A big fish!"
"Yes, father!" a call came from the kitchen as our heroes settled in. As tea came out, they discovered it belonged to a woman, older than Tobar but dressed somewhat like a child.
"Nah," Grump shook his head. "He's a good kid, looking after his parents' wishes and his grandparents' wishes. It's the house. The place is cursed, haunted, and probably worse besides."
"But your friend's a good kid. And his wife, Iesha, woo. She's a looker. And dances like... get's the blood moving you know, eh?" he elbowed Kriger, who laughed politely without being entirely sure what Grump meant.
Not one to dismiss superstition, Fijit asked him why he believed the house was cursed. Grump shook his head. "Terrible things in that house, always. Was built by Aldern's grandfather... maybe greatgrandfather... I dunno. But he and his wife up and disappeared."
"Then, Aldern's mom and dad moved in a ways back. His mother went crazy, tried to burn the place down... didn't get the whole thing. She and his dad both died."
"He's moved back in now, trying to get it fixed up."
Fijit frowned. "So, he's alone in there?"
Grump didn't seem sure. "Well, as far as I know. I don't want to wag tongues, but word is Iesha ran off to Absalom with one of the workers. Then everybody else left in ones and twos."
He shook his head. "Yeah, it's one thing staying in a haunted house with a beautiful woman... another thing entirely to stay in there with a depressed man."
With that dinner was served, swamp barracuda enjoyed by all, and the Goblinslayers sent upstairs. Fijit was given Grump's younger son's room, who died of the plague. Tobar and Kriger elected to share Grump's older son's room, who'd left to find his fortune in Magnimar.
Kriger nodded solemnly. "My condolences for your younger son."
Tobar added a bit of black humor, perhaps all-too-true in its way, murmuring "my condolences for your older son."
Grump thanked them both and sent Agnes up with blankets.
Alarm in the Night
Picking up a panicked voice and something about the "Hambly place," Kriger elbowed Tobar awake. Fijit shouted "do you need anything?"
Grump shouted back up "no, we're fine! Get yer rest!"
The Goblinslayers, however, were having none of that, getting geared up and downstairs. They found Grump downstairs, crossbow in hand, talking to another farmer.
The other farmer was in a panic, suggesting that a group went down to the Hambly place and hadn't returned. With a little prodding, he revealed that one had returned, back at his house, sick and delirious.
They made their way to his house, finding the gaunt man in a filled bathtub. His only visible wound was covered with bandages. The farmer's wife and daughter watched over him, obviously unsure if there was anything more they could do.
Hoping his curative powers would help the infection, Kriger channeled a spell into his hands, touching the ailing man. He thrashed in the tub and Kriger withdrew a hand covered in smoking flesh. A handshaped burn stood out on the man's chest.
"That... shouldn't happen," was all he was able to manage for several moments, then "undead!" The women gasped and Fijit ushered them out of the room.
Kriger and Fijit put their heads together, quickly narrowing the possible causes down to ghoul fever. But, unfortunately, once the change began, even Kriger's most powerful magic wouldn't avail them.
Kriger suggested they pull the man downstairs, executing him and burning the body. Tobar was aghast at the suggestion. "You want to kill an innocent man! Can't your magic do something?"
Kriger shook his head, driving Tobar into a righteous fury. "Where's your Desna now? We can't just let this man die!"
The Desnan hung his head. "I'm sorry, Toby. He's already dead. All we can do is prevent him from killing anyone else."
Fijit backed up suddenly. "Uh, guys?" They turned to see the man's bloodshot eyes opening. Kriger called on the holy radiance of Desna, reducing the newborn ghoul to a smear of grease and ash.
They stood in silence for a moment until Kriger found his voice. "We need to get to that farm. He could have infected all these people. We can't let it spread."
Outside the farmhouse, the Goblinslayers consulted with the house's owner and Maester Grump. Kriger ordered them back to their homes, because it was far too dangerous out here. Even Tobar, blasé about combat, was not looking forward to fighting a disease he could not cut with his greatsword.
Fijit countered, noting they wouldn't be able to find their way to the Hambly house alone. Grump acknowledged that Fijit had the right of it and offered to be their guide.
"On one condition, though," he added. "If I die out there, you have to make sure Agnes is taken care of." They vehemently agreed.
The Hambly Property
More frightened of leaving a possible infection than for their own safety, the Goblinslayers made all manner of racket as they headed through the unharvested fields. Fijit sang at the top of her tiny lungs and Tobar clanged weapons together, attempting to attract any ghouls in the area.
Unfortunately, they succeeded all too well as Kriger felt terrible lines of pain running down his back. The others turned to find a scarecrow perched on his back, tearing at Kriger's neck with its teeth as they stared in shock.
With a crossbow bolt from Maester Grump, a tiny arrow from Fijit, and a bit of Desna's power, the scarecrow was quickly dispatched.
Fijit asked Kriger if he was going to be okay, gesturing at the neck wound. He felt it itching, but couldn't be sure if that was his paranoia in response to Fijit's question or a genuine infection.
Following the ambush, they decided to stop making noise, prowling along and keeping an eye on the seemingly endless Hambly scarecrows. Instead, Tobar began tracking the number of ghouls they'd killed, hoping the number added to six, for the Hamblies, plus around twelve, for the farmers who went to investigate.
Shooting at the next batch of scarecrows from a safe distance, they quickly discovered one was a living man. He doubled over, coughing out blood into his burlap hood. At Kriger's urging, following another bitter argument, Tobar decapitated the man with his greatsword.
Moving even more cautiously, there was some discussion on the next set of scarecrows, seemingly set to watch a crossroads. However, they were prepared to pepper them with arrows when they freed themselves.
However, even Fijit's arrow and Grump's quarrel weren't enough to stop the creature charging them. It bit into Fijit's chest as though trying to gnaw to her heart. The chill of the grave overtook her as she was forced to watch the ghoul tearing at her flesh. A quick swordstrike ended its unlife, but Fijit remained shaken long after she regained control of her muscles.
Kriger asked Fijit if she was going to be okay, referring to the chest wound. She felt it itching, but couldn't be sure if that was his paranoia in response to Kriger's question or a genuine infection.
Entering the final stretch, they forced themselves to kill another man bound as a scarecrow. Their first volley of arrows merely caused him to spasm, tearing at his bonds with newfound undead strength. The second volley, however, ended it.
The plan, as it turned out, was to burn the place down. Unfortunately, with the rain and the stone farmhouse, the plan was narrowed. Arrows were wrapped in rags and lit with lamp oil, hoping to catch the barn despite the rain.
Fijit and Tobar thunked arrows into the roof with little effect. However, Fijit slipped one in through the loft, catching the dry hay within the barn. Moments later, ghouls poured out of the burning barn.
Suspecting this is where they'll be making their stand, Kriger invoked Desna, consecrating the muddy earth they stood on. Fijit, Tobar, and Grump combine fire to bring down one of the charging ghouls, but the rest make their way onto blessed ground.
The fight quickly degenerates into a melee, with only Grump managing to keep himself disengaged. One ghoul's hungry bite paralyzes Tobar, leaving him staring off into the fields while Kriger calls on Desna's silvery light to batter the ghouls, saving Tobar from being devoured alive.
Distracted by the threat, only Kriger hears the farmhouse door open and close. However, they all hear a voice in Chelish proclaiming "COME, MY CHILDREN!"
Fijit and Kriger turn in time to see a ghoul in ruined servant's finery making his way into the circle of consecration. With their combined efforts, they're able to hold him back, keeping their eyes out for these children... hearing rustling before them and behind in the unharvested fields.
Finally, Toby regained control of his muscles, running through the undead servant. Sliding down Tobar's greatsword, the servant hissed "the master..." turning his head to reveal a bloody smile to Fijit "sends his regards." With his last drop of black blood he tossed a crumpled handful of paper to Fijit.
Taking a moment to collect themselves before the "children" arrived, Fijit read the note and Kriger searched the servant, finding an ornate key.
The Crumpled Note:
Accept the fever, my love, my life. Listen to the harvest song and accept my gift to you.
Fijit looked up from the note with an icy look. "It says we should accept the fever and become ghouls." Without further ceremony, she burned the note to ash.
As the children came rushing in, Kriger tossed the key to Tobar, adding another to Ripnugget's key ring from Thistletop.
The Children Attack
"Well," Tobar added, quickly counting. "I think that's all of them."
The ghouls rushed in, paralyzing Grump and raking Fijit. Using the last of Kriger's energy, the last of Fijit's sound bursts, and Tobar's cleaving blade, they quickly cleared in a matter of seconds... all but one.
The remaining ghoul, on the far side of the paralyzed Grump, ripped the farmer open with its talons and began to feast on his entrails.
Tobar and Kriger rushed in, Tobar to bisect the ghoul with his greatsword and Kriger to call on Desna's power, trying to save Grump. But the healing availed to nothing, Grump's spirit already having fled the mortal plane.
Kriger quietly closed the old man's eyes while Tobar screamed into the rain, a wordless howl of rage... one part challenge to any ghoul foolish enough to provide him with a target and one part challenge to the gods for daring to let innocent men die.
With Tobar's rage spent, they gathered their breath in front of the farmhouse, watching as the barn collapsed and sent sparks up to join with the rain. As they waited, the sacred ground seemed to consume the ghouls, breaking their diseased corpses down into nothing more than loamy earth.
Back to Sandpoint
Kriger added "we should evacuate the others," but was quickly shot down by Tobar. "No, we can send a messenger. We take Agnes and go to Sandpoint now."
Knowing better than to push his friend at this point, Kriger assented to head back immediately.
Walking back to the Grump residence, they found their horses cheerfully munching on oats in the stable. Agnes, although shaken by the news of her father's death, quickly gathered her mother's china and a change of clothes, and joined the Goblinslayers on her own horse.
Through the night and into the morning, they rode. While they rode, Fijit sang to keep up their spirits and encouraged Agnes to speak of herself. They quickly discovered that, after her mother and younger brother died and her older brother left, she remained as the child of the house so she wouldn't have to abandon her father as well and give him someone to care for.
After an eternity, they barely pulling themselves through the gates of Sandpoint.
Without stopping for anyone or anything, they stabled their horses and made their way to the cathedral. Zantus looked over their wounds.
"Yes," he pointed at the wound at Kriger's throat and Fijit's chest, "these two are bad. Father Tobyn, bless his soul, left the parish with two scrolls that should help here. Let me fetch him."
With two scrolls crumbling to dust, their wounds stopped itching, the only obvious sign. Kriger took the opportunity to collapse to bed while his companions made their way to the Rusty Dragon, hoping Ameiko might be able to provide Agnes with work.
With that matter out of the way, Fijit asked to rent a room, quipping "and this time, I can actually pay for it!"
Ameiko smiled, remembering Aldern Foxglove covering the bard's tab last time. "You won't have to wait on a white night to ride in and save you?"
Fijit's mood grew a little gloomier. "Actually, I think we might have to save him."
Tobar corrected her. "Might have to save him again. That'd make two."
Fijit laughed. "Yeah, I guess he's not much of a white knight after all."
The rain was mostly for atmosphere, but I'm going to keep it up through the dam breaking.
Maester Grump here played the role of every warning NPC in every horror story ever, right down to the accent. Unlike most horror stories, the party listened to him. Not that it helped, per se.
I tweaked ghoul fever slightly. Basically, if you die after ghoul fever has set in, you come back immediately. The disease itself will still slowly kill you per rules as written.
This is both because it's creepy and because I needed to explain how all the scarecrows were already ghouls or close. I figured Rogors was infecting them, then letting them bleed out.
The players were legitimately tilted by the Hambly farm. Between the disease aspects, the ghouls jumping out of the fields, and accidentally killing an infected "scarecrow" people were on edge. The arguments between Tobar, wanting to save innocents, and Kriger, wanting to burn out the infection, got quite heated.
Fijit's player, in particular, was hit pretty hard by the description of paralysis and then straight-faced hid information from the party, destroying the note without revealing its full contents.
I changed the note from the Adventure Path, obviously, calling on a slightly different background. Thankfully, I had all of Your Lordship's notes created in advance.
As an easter egg that won't be obvious in the forums, Your Lordship uses the same font as Aldern, just at a larger font size and italic. I doubt they'll notice until afterwards, but it's the sort of thing they'll probably figure out in retrospect and curse me.
Grump's death hit them harder than you usually see with NPCs. Some combination of his opening his home to them, asking them to take care of Agnes, the general terror of the situation, and the fact that they almost saved him really twisted the knife.
Even if none of that happened, the conversation at the end about Aldern being "not much of a white knight" at the end would have made this session worth it. Because, damn.
The party now has enough XP to get to level 6. Tobar is probably taking a level of paladin, heading to fighter 5/paladin 1. Not sure of Kriger's or Fijit's plans yet.
Next Time: The Bloody Star
While there's always room for improvement, I think Paizo does an incredible job handling these sorts of issues.
Even as a long-time DM who's made conscious effort to include more female characters, different sexualities, and varied roles for both, I find myself consistently outdone by Paizo's writers.
I would never have run an adventure on my own with the gender balance of Shards of Sin. While a lot of folks, myself included, were busy chasing gender balance, Paizo showed us that it can only be achieved with real counterweights.
And there's no way I would have created the love triangle in Asylum Stone, to say nothing of integrating it seamlessly into a dungeon. That's some crazy wizardry right there.
Even going back all the way to Burnt Offerings, we have characters that are sexual and romantic beings. That doesn't sound like much in the context of this argument, but the history of fantasy and RPGs isn't overburdened with heterosexual characters. It's overburdened with asexual characters.
So, the Adventure Paths aren't always sex positive and aren't always inclusive. But Paizo has done more than say "games should be sex positive and inclusive," they've provided examples of what that looks like.
Maybe nobody else needed those examples, but I'm not too proud to say that they've improved the inclusiveness, emotional involvement, and even drama in my own games. And there's always more to do, but I just wanted to take a moment to say that what they've already done is pretty damned incredible.
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Huh, this isn't something I'd ever considered, really. Although our storytelling style is sort of similar. We tend towards "here's the hook, make your characters, and off we go!"
So I'd tend towards starting from an adventure path, adding "drow," and going from there.
For example, take Rise of the Runelords:
There are drow not terribly far from there, so that's a start. About a hundred years ago, one of the Varisian families in the region found a tiny ebon-skinned child being tormented by ogres. Caring little for race, and not wanting to see any living being left to that fate, they drove off the ogres and adopted him.
Decades later, he moved into Sandpoint with his adopted cousin Niska Mvashti, who is now quite elderly indeed. Between inborn talent, Niska's tutelage in the ways of the Harrow, and decades of pouring over carved stones found in Old Light, he has the makings of a promising Thassilonian-specialist invoker.
Although his ogre-scarred face is welcome in Sandpoint, particularly at the Rusty Dragon, some still shun him. However, this has little to do with his race and much to do with the unpredictable rages he's experienced since the Late Unpleasantness.
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
If you want to use Illithids in something officially Golarion, just substitute the denizens of Leng which are far creepier and more Lovecraftian, have mouthfuls of tentacles, and as a bonus don't dress like they thought the "Ming the Merciless" look never went out of style, especially in purple.
Interesting choice. I feel like they make good masterminds and excellent slavers, but don't necessarily have the invasive body horror aspect the Illithids get.
Points in their favor include coming pre-packaged with an arguably-worse nemesis (the Leng Spiders) and their agenda of slaving, selling twisted magical items, and being welcome in many shady ports (including some in the Darklands). I think their accepted existence at the edges of humanoid societies makes them creepier than illithids there.
Body Horror, Lovecraft, and Leng:
In Lovecraft's works, they live in the Dreamlands (the Dimension of Dreams in Pathfinder) and are implied to be degenerate humans. If you wanted to reinsert the body horror aspects, they could capture dreamers and torture them, bringing their physical body a little closer to being a denizen of Leng every time they sleep.
The process of gaining tentacles, sharpened teeth, claws, horns, new skin, different organs, and reversed legs could be milked for months of brutal unpleasantness, if one were so inclined. And, at the end of the process, the denizens get a new "child" that maintains some elements of its old body and knowledge, maybe even hiding its transformation to maintain a position in society.
Dreams are nice in that you can throw them at PCs and NPCs alike, keeping the horror front and center without impeding a character's ability to adventure or fight back too much. The victim could also deprive themselves of sleep and use curative magic to slow the process. The freshly-transformed denizen's journal almost writes itself.
And traveling to the Dimension of Dreams to free someone's dreamself from Leng is just begging to be an adventure. The denizens could also transform slaves physically taken to Leng, which is harder to work in to a campaign, but is closer to the illithid's approach and still allows for the rescue mission.
In Golarion, associating them tightly with dreams makes them a natural foil for the servitors of Desna. It does risk stepping on a cool part of the intellect devourers' schtick, although you could also play with the denizens as the source of that particular power.
Burnt Offerings (Session 1):
Tobar is the only uniformed guard in the square, with the others either relaxing or at the walls. He's spent most of his morning encouraging drunks to fight less and sing more.
Kriger is also on the job, accepting the residents' congratulations on the beautiful new cathedral while Father Zantus prepares for the ritual and his speech.
Even Fijit is working, trying to scare up some funds to pay down her tab at the Rusty Dragon. Unfortunately, her singing skills have abandoned her, sending those interested in song off to listen to the drunks.
Several games have been set out. From the classic drinking game and Sandpoint's own Devil's Step to the newer Goblin Slaying and an unnamed game involving stabbing an "ogre" scarecrow.
Above the sounds of the festival, Tobar hears horses whinnying from the direction of Goblin Squash Stables. He quickly advises Daviren Hosk about the noise, offering to take over running the game while Daviren investigates.
Kriger and Fijit get in line behind the children excited about throwing handaxes at "goblin heads" (roughly goblin head shaped melons carved with goblin names). One copper gets you three axes. You get any melons you damage, along with a tin Goblin Slayer badge if you destroy two.
Kriger does passably, damaging one melon despite being one of the clumsiest people in town, handing out the chunks of melon to the children in line.
Fijit, on the other hand, doesn't even have a copper. Kriger, always willing to help a guest and fellow traveler, covers her game. She destroys two melons with the aid of channeled magical energy and proudly pins her Goblin Slayer badge on her hat.
Between Fijit's inspiring music, Kriger's seemingly limitless supply of Desna's grace, and Tobar's fearsome strength, they make quick work of the goblins... and the goblins on the other end of the square... and the goblins threatening Aldern Foxglove.
Tobar nearly feel twice, once early in the battle and once after being bitten repeatedly by the goblin dog. Kriger was able to keep the guard on his feet, however.
The priest did learn an important lesson about not channeling energy right next to an injured goblin, even though the goblin stood their mystified while Fijit corrected his oversight.
The goblins, for their part, were goblins. As Tobar cleaved through his comrades, one goblin dropped down to fingerpaint with the resulting gore. Another, too afraid to approach the giant man and too stupid to run, attempted to disarm him with its whip with about the effects you'd expect.
Aldern Foxglove, saved in the nick of time, wrapped Tobar in a massive hug, despite how the larger man was caked in goblin gore. He filled his saviors in on his background briefly, explaining how he's a nobleman from Magnimar and was in town to enjoy the festival and possibly recruit some workers to help repair his manor.
The fingerpainting goblin, as it turned out, was knocked unconscious by Kriger's starknife. The defenders of Sandpoint quickly gathered up the limp creature as they headed to the cathedral to make sure Tobar's goblin dog wounds weren't infected.
At the Cathedral
Fijit, fluent in the meeping language of goblins, performed the interrogation. They quickly determined that the captured goblin was not the mastermind (their first clue was the fingerpainting in the middle of a fight).
After extensive, but relatively friendly, questioning, the goblin revealed that they raided the "big camp" to "keep the chief happy and keep the guy happy and keep the lady happy." It's descriptions weren't terribly clear, except that the guy and lady are longshanks and the lady is very scary and the guy thinks the lady is pretty despite her having a skinny head and hair.
When the goblin mentioned tunnels, everyone got very interested. As soon as the words "through the hot, fun, melty place" left its mouth, Tobar added "the Glassworks."
As the group prepared their investigation, Sherriff Hemlock arrived. The goblin attack had shaken him and, after thanking the trio for their service, explained he was heading to Magnimar for reinforcements.
He asked the group and Tobar in particular to stay visible in his absence, helping to keep everyone calm. Tobar had his own reservations, knowing he's not the best leader, but Kriger and Fijit rapidly agreed and pressured the guard to accept his new responsibilities.
Kriger also leaned on their new friend Aldern to head back to Magnimar and help. He was glad to do it, mentioning he could at least put in a good word with Justice Ironbriar. With that settled, and Kriger paternally suggesting Aldern hire some mercenaries for his safety, the Sherriff and the nobleman headed out.
Kaijutsu Family Matters
On their way there, they ran into a cheering crowd and Daviren Hosk. Tobar handed over the copper from when he was running the game, earning a "You're a saint, Toby!" and offered his condolences on finding out the goblins had killed two of Hosk's horses.
Hosk pinned two of the leftover Goblin Slayer pins from his game to Tobar's guards' sash and Kriger's cloak, to the cheers of the crowd, then told Fijit "if you were two feet taller, nay, even a foot taller, and I were twenty years younger, I'd be on my knee asking you to marry me" and kissed her on the forehead.
Reveling in their new found herodom, the defenders made their way to the Rusty Dragon, receiving a cheer and a round of drinks immediately upon stepping through the door. Kriger turned down his drink with a "sorry, we're on duty," only to have the massive mug passed to Fijit.
Ameiko, unfortunately, couldn't offer more than Glassworks than that it was her father's Glassworks, certainly not hers. She also advised she could write a letter of recommendation, but it would hurt more than help.
Rather than digging more into uncomfortable family matters, they accepted Ameiko's offer of spicy food. As they were headed out, she also mentioned that Aldern had settled Fijit's tab and added "I hear wedding bells" like a child's rhyme under her breath.
The trio headed up to the bluff, discussing Old Light and how Tobar's glad he doesn't live so close to the ruins. Brodert Quink came up during the conversation, along with his mad theories. Fijit resolved to meet the sage as soon as they've taken care of the current crisis.
Their captive goblin still in tow, they advised the Kaijutsu's majordomo to have Lonjiku come outside, rather than letting the beast into the family's parlor. Kriger took the lead on the negotiations, speaking to Lonjiku as befits a man of his rank.
Lonjiku turned over the key once they promised to return it promptly to his majordomo.
The three of them made their way back to the Glassworks, finding the door ajar and hearing the sounds of breaking glass inside. Kriger ran to get backup, leaving Fijit and Tobar to watch the Glassworks.
I borrowed a bit from the excellent Swallowtail Festival games thread for the intro. It was nice, among other things, getting people warmed up and used to the system after a break.
Things went a little off the rails with interrogating the fingerpainting goblin and Tobar's player jumping straight to the Glassworks. I think it's going to work out, though.
Tobyn's grave has already been robbed and the corpse sent back to Thistletop. The party's probably in town for at least a couple days, so Nualia should have plenty of time for her ritual.
I'll loop back to the encounters that are supposed to occur before the Glassworks. In particular, they need to find out about Father Tobyn and I'll see if I can squeeze in Shayliss and the boar hunt. They already have Ameiko's relationship with her father figured out, so that's good.
The plan at this point is for Tsuto to have broken into the Glassworks while it was closed for the festival and using a threat of blackmail to arrange an ambush for his father. Tsuto is letting the goblins have run of the place while he waits for his father, hence the breaking glass.
For her part, Ameiko is planning to respond to her note tonight. Lonjiku is too proud to make a deal with his bastard son and has sent the guards in first, hoping Tsuto dies or nobody believes him. If the authorities don't take care of Tsuto, Lonjiku plans to at the designated meeting time (during the fireworks at nightfall).
Up next: Glassworks!
Can they avoid different people being interested in different setting elements? No. If you're not interested in Gothic Horror, you probably wouldn't buy a Ravenloft book or an Ustalav book.
But they can avoid artificially splitting the player base by having multiple settings.
For example, in 2nd Edition there was a supplement for Ravenloft called the Nightmare Lands. I never see myself playing Ravenloft, but I have used the ideas from that supplement in several "standard" D&D games.
So instead of saying "only buy this if you like Ravenloft" on the cover and having information on how it integrates into the Demiplane of Dread, why can't it say "for everyone who likes Pathfinder" and have information on how it fits into Golarion?
No stats, but an brainstorm for Zutha if you're inclined.
Well, we know that Karzoug created runewells and Alaznist followed. What about Zutha?
I say Zutha is a Runewell of Gluttony. Zutha's undead form and tremendous girth are fueled by the energy of trapped gluttonous souls. Why hide all that delicious energy in a well when you could be eating it, after all?
Stats-wise, it could work similarly to the devourer's essence mechanic. Zutha could burn essence from the well for spell-like effects, a breath-weapon of gluttonous souls and negative energy, or to repair damage to his undead form (as a free action). Certain spells would effect the trapped souls instead and Zutha's not going down until the well is empty.
And, of course, what happens when you bleed in a runewell? Damaging him with a slashing or piercing weapon spills his blood, creating a twisted (leveled and/or undead) sinspawn. It also drains off a bunch of essence, making it likely the only way to defeat him before his magic and self-healing overwhelm the party.
Throw in his actual spellcasting and his undead minions and you should have a hell of a fight. A possessed "copy" of Zutha may not have his ioun stones, rings, or weapon of rule but will be trying to get them. His combination of rings and ioun stones are rumored to be a weapon in its own right.
Visibly, I see the runewell draining as physically decreasing his size, until he's completely emaciated by the time it's bottomed out.
I'd include a scene at the beginning of the fight where he rakes himself with the point of his scythe to create a sinspawn and visibly decreases in size. That should help clue people in to the mechanics.
Your background can be pretty fluid. I'd try to work it out with your GM, but a couple ideas offhand:
The PC is wandering the world helping to smuggle slaves, letting the church's suspicions cool down, escaping a lover's jealous husband, or looking for more kitsune to bolster the shrinking family line.
For bonus points, the family name can be Alopex (Fox in Ancient Greek, fits well with the Chelish naming scheme).
Fox Wife - An explorer and nobleman tired of his safaris in the Mwangi Expanse and set sight for bigger prey: the Crown of the World. The passing into Tian Xia left him at death's door and it took the mysterious forest woman who rescued him months to nurse him back to health.
Shortly after they returned to his ancestral lands, now happily married, she gave him a son. It was an idyllic life until the nobleman realized his wife's true nature.
She insisted on returning to Tian Xia, vanishing in the night over her husband's objections. Since then, he's buried himself in the management of his estate and left his son to his own devices.
The White Fox - There's a substantial Tian population in the Jade District of Kalsgard in the Land of the Linnorm Kings. A handful of kitsune move among them, passing themselves off as Tian.
Few, however, would think to look for kitsune among the thanes of Sveinn Blood-Eagle. But the wisest kitsune can appear as a hulking Ulfen warrior as easily as a charming Tian merchant.
When he explained his totem demanded his son travel south to learn of other cultures, the other thanes could only accept it. After all, who would risk anger a totem as cunning and powerful as the White Fox?
If you're playing around in Audacity, try the full-on Twin Peaks route. Which is to say: read creepy lines backwards, then flip them with Audacity so they're "forward."
It makes speech really creepy and oddly inflected, but there are also jerky pauses (from reading backwards) that fit well with the twitching and thrashing.
A couple of things came up in the GenCon secrets panel this year. Offhand:
It's been over a month, so some details might be scrambled, but I remember all of that pretty clearly. I also clearly remember it sounds awesome.
Charlie Brooks wrote:
When it comes to setting bloat, the big example is the Forgotten Realms, but I'm not so sure that it was a problem of too much lore so much as it was a problem of too many big events.
This is a spot-on diagnosis I hadn't considered before.
A corollary from my personal experience is Dark Sun. I loved the original Dark Sun and all the actual setting books, but the advancing timeline with world-spanning events rapidly destroyed any interest I had in the setting. Not because the events were bad, necessarily, just because it became a pain to keep up with them.
So, as long as Paizo continues doing what they're doing, leaving it to each campaign (be it adventure path or homebrew) to advance the timeline and insert worldchanging events, we're going to be just fine.