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Leaf Leshy

Landon Winkler's page

Goblin Squad Member. RPG Superstar 7 Season Star Voter. FullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 846 posts. 48 reviews. 1 list. 1 wishlist.


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My group never left the Runeforge and didn't have any problems with it. They were just careful to make allies (or clear out areas) so they had safe places to rest. There was more roleplaying than a normal dungeon crawl precisely because they were stuck there.

On an unrelated note, I kick myself for not foreshadowing the sinswords (like Chellan in Book 6) so the characters have some idea of the gravity of what they're getting hit with. The swords were made in the Runeforge, so it makes sense that there are some murals or records or whatever.

The interesting things about the Runeforge for my group were the interplay between the sides, the glimpse into old Thassilon, and the backstory. It'd be a lot of work to carry those over into eight separate dungeons.

Perhaps instead each wing has magical defense the PCs have to figure out how to bypass (with research in the outside world)? Or the pool can be used to view the real world and project images into it?

Cheers!
Landon


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Huh. I ended up not liking the AE versions and actually recreating a similar list to the original set. Mine are Prosperity, Love, Confidence, Plenty, Striving, Zeal, and Efficiency.

I agree the original set makes more sense as a set of virtues that were twisted rather than just opposite day. And generally provide a lot more nuance to the Thassilonians as villains.

The new set may work better if you're tracking sin points. The virtues can "take away" their associated sins in that setup.

Cheers!
Landon


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Barong wrote:
I'm wondering how to communicate the changes I've made to my potential players. E-mail everyone a document with all your changes? Get everyone at the table(or together, if you're doing online)and say "Okay, I use the planescape cosmology in my setting and hobgoblins have a roman-style empire with orcs and bugbears and they're all good-aligned"?

It depends a lot on the players. If your players aren't particularly plugged in to Golarion's canon, you can just run with whatever you want and all is well.

If you do have players that play at other tables, read the novels, are wiki addicts, or otherwise know a lot about the setting, I suggest taking those players aside individually and outlining any changes.

Basically, unless people are deep in the setting, they won't have assumptions that go against your changes. They'll find out how the planes work when/if they go there and learn about the hobgoblins when they run into their empire.

Cheers!
Landon


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Lord Snow wrote:
So what we have is a statistical skew towards complaining about high level play, and a very solid understanding of what is wrong with it. Slumped together these two elements provide a pretty solid backbone to the claim that high level Pathfinder is broken and should probably be avoided.

I'm not trying to say that nobody has problems with high-level play. I was just providing an anecdote of the type that Kthulhu apparently hadn't seen before.

High-level play has a lot of table variation and I encourage people to tread with caution. But even unanimous message board condemnation doesn't provide the whole picture.

For example, my personal bugaboo is complexity. I could legitimately say that I've never seen a complaint that the game is too simple, but there are plenty of people who love the game at the complexity it is now. And, looking at the Houserules forums, plenty of people would add additional complexity to resolve other things that bother them.

If I were to impose my vision of complexity on the game as a whole, what happens to those people? Suddenly, they're the ones posting and the folks who agree with me are the ones off the forums enjoying the game.

leo1925 wrote:
Yeah the bolded part is usually shared by Paizo adventure writers and that shows in books 5 and (especially) books 6 where (again usually) the encounters are SO easy because "there are people who are playing the AP and are also playing their first 3.X game, so we expect them to have pretty much useless characters", in short Paizo's adventure writting shows that (they think that) getting from 1st to 15th+ level doesn't mean that you have your stuff figured out yet.

I kind of feel for the adventure writers on that one. The variations between groups at high levels is massive and I don't really know where they should set the challenge level.

For my group, it definitely is too easy as written. But that just means I can throw several encounters at them at once, which I'd rather do anyway.

There are definitely folks way above us, though. And I can see their adjustments becoming very cumbersome.

Cheers!
Landon


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Kthulhu wrote:

And that applies every bit as much to James' experience as to Dudemeister's. And the number of people who have "anecdotes" about high-level 3.x/PF not working seems to vastly ountnumbers those who have anecdotes that say it does. Hell, even the bag with teeth, who's an unrepentant Paizo apologist, is here saying that 15+ level Pathfinder just plain doesn't work.

The only place that anecdotes about it working seem to be coming from is the offices of Paizo.

It works fine for me as long as we start from low levels. We actually get more "growing pains" in the middle levels as character complexity explodes. By the time we get to high level, people usually have their stuff figured out.

That aside, "I only hear negative things about this" has never been a valid argument in a public forum. No matter how good or bad it is, the people it works for are always less likely to talk about it.

As an example, I post a lot on these forums, but I don't think I've ever mentioned that high-level play works for us. I'm only doing it now because I have criticism for your post.

Cheers!
Landon


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The chosen one archetype is a lot of fun. I'd enjoy having someone play it at my table. It plays to a lot of expository companion and spirit guide tropes.

I'd argue it's not full magical girl, though, because there's no transformation sequence. A magical girl would be closer to a vigilante archetype with a familiar (and enabling early quick changes between identities).

Somewhat ironically, the familiar gets a transformation sequence at 7th level.

Cheers!
Landon


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CorvusMask wrote:
Well, unless you play it for high danger, simple mechanics with not a lot of abilities to remember and CR 1 monsters being actually dangerous? Those are pretty valid reasons to like level 1 I think

Simple mechanics is a big one for me too.

Unless we got some new rules for simpler characters, which I'd buy in a heartbeat, I wouldn't consider starting a campaign above 1st. It makes the learning curve even harsher, which is already a problem with a lot of characters.

It also gives you longer where death isn't trivial. I can appreciate the story not being disrupted by deaths later on, but there's plenty of time for death to take a role at the lower levels.

Cheers!
Landon


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Tangent101 wrote:
There is one other thing to consider. If Paizo doesn't do this, third party publishers will. The reason I want Paizo to try this is because I know their quality tends to be good. I don't know about the third-party groups. Pretty much I'm limited to either writing my own campaign or hoping Paizo eventually tries to do this.

Third party publishers already have. Enworld has two APs (three if you count the one they did back in 3.5) and I'm fairly sure they all go to 20.

If their approach were wildly successful, Paizo would take note. For example, my understanding is that the positive buzz about Way of the Wicked helped convince them to try an evil AP with Hell's Vengeance.

For what it's worth, Way of the Wicked also goes to substantially higher level than a Paizo AP.

I haven't heard a lot of love for Zeitgeist, Santiago, or the Way of the Wicked going to higher level, but more for their settings and themes.

Cheers!
Landon


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My players talk to everything, so we get plenty of RP time even in Shattered Star (the dungeon-crawling AP). So take my advice with a grain of salt.

Curse of the Crimson Throne is very good about providing RP opportunities that are better than fighting. It has entire adventures where fighting your way through is the worst option.

Hell's Rebels should be great for this, but I'd wait until the whole thing is out before saying for sure.

Reign of Winter has been pretty good for us, although see my caveat above. The beginning and middle are very RP friendly, although the combat ramps up a bit towards the end.

I'm not actually sure how good Carrion Crown will be for that. Some horror is very personal and some of it is very impersonal. In line with that, parts of the AP are fairly RP light unless your players actually RP with each other.

Cheers!
Landon


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There are also pretty substantial differences between parts of the forums. If you look in a thread asking for character building advice, a large number of the posts will be by people interested in character optimization.

But if you go elsewhere, like to the Campaign Setting discussion, you won't see any of that. In fact, a lot of the exact same people who are interested in character optimization are also posting really insightful stuff about the setting.

And, if you look at the AP sections, you'll see the occasional thread with folks who like character optimization helping GMs buff up villains to better challenge their parties. And basically nothing else.

It looks to me like people talk about optimization in threads where optimization is on topic. Those threads don't seem to be the most popular on the forum or even the most heated.

If we can extrapolate the contents of those threads into the tone of the entire player community, it's also filled with campaign setting wonks who love third party material, have constant romantic subplots, and spend all of their time on the internet playing forum games.

Cheers!
Landon


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Generally speaking, the Player Companion books don't get a second printing (only the big hardcovers) and errata is only applied between printings.

That said, it's possible they'll get updates in Inner Sea Races, so keep an eye there.

Cheers!
Landon


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Mechanical stuff may cause more problems than theme. The party will probably end up without a healer or trap-finder, so you may end up playing on hard mode in some APs.

The Good:
Carrion Crown would be nearly perfect. It's all gothic horror and investigation. Thematically, this is top tier occult.

I think Mummy's Mask would be fun, with occult themes and Egyptology going hand-in-hand, but trap-finders are key in tombs. Reign of Fire might do just as well, especially if someone plays a Sha'ir or genie-themed kineticist.

I'm reading Curse of the Crimson Throne now, but so far it'd fit really well with the theme. Any urban game should actually be great for occult adventures. I feel like it fits better with what we expect out of urban fantasy than the normal slate of classes.

And I haven't read Serpent's Skull, but I'd be willing to bet it fits well. Jungle temples filled with snakes, forgotten gods, and fallen civilizations? Oh yeah, that's the good stuff.

The May-Require-Some-Work:
Reign of Winter is uneven. Some of the later stuff is great for occult stuff, but it takes a while to get there.

Rise of the Runelords and Shattered Star could work very well if you play up the idea that wizardry is a lost art that the Thassilonians had. And the whole idea of a lost age of glory is good for occult themes (see the medium in particular).

Second Darkness is borderline. Elves and the occult isn't a normal combination, but digging into themes like the dero/tero and eloi/morlocks might make something very cool.

The Probably Not
On the other hand, I don't think Giantslayer would fit very well thematically. And Iron Gods loses some of its charm if it isn't spaceship and sorcery. Skull and Shackles might work, but I'm not seeing a way.

Cheers!
Landon


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James Jacobs wrote:
The one exception I can think of is MAYBE the Great Old Ones, who don't die when you kill them. The reason why is currently unrevealed, but it may be that Great Old Ones are the only living creatures that don't actually have souls. And thus, when you kill them, they just go away or hibernate or become imprisoned for a while before they get back up.

That's a pretty rad interpretation. Even if that doesn't end up being official, I'm going to have to use it. Thanks!

Cheers!
Landon


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I'm near the end of the Shackled Hut (Reign of Winter #2), but I'll fill in what I can for RoW.

The first two adventures are strongly linked, as are the last two. There's also some good callbacks from the final adventure to the issues that brought everyone into the AP in the first place.

The middle two adventures don't interrupt the plot at all, but aren't really vital. Story-wise, skipping 3 and 4 entirely would be fine. But 3 pulls in a lot of Baba Yaga mythos and 4 is a neat adventure. I'd probably amp up Baba Yaga's involvement in those two issues to tie things together better.

Cheers!
Landon


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James Jacobs wrote:
If folks WANT us to do an AP that starts at higher level... please let us know! (Or if you want us to never do that and stick to starting at 1st level, let us know that too.)

I'm all about starting at 1st. I wouldn't ragequit or anything if an AP started higher, but I strongly prefer things the way they are.

If the top level of an AP were to slip out of the 16-18 range, I'd actually much rather see it get lower than higher. More 1st-level modules would fit the same need, though.

Cheers!
Landon


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What I usually do when introducing a new setting is give very broad outlines (at most "five things absolutely everyone knows") then let people ask questions during character creation.

Once characters are created, I give people handouts based on the Knowledge skills they selected. Basically one page per knowledge skill, covering topics related to that skill and the setting.

But, in general, I think it's important to let people "opt in" to information complex settings. Even on Earth, a lot of people don't know the sort of details about their country (let alone other countries) that would show up in handouts.

Handing out a newspaper does sound like fun, but it depends a lot on your group's dynamic. Some people just don't think about the game outside of game time. If you can sink that work in without getting too attached to it, it'd be worth distributing and just letting people read or not.

Cheers!
Landon


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As others have mentioned, Nightglass does a fantastic job at this.

On the ground, it doesn't seem really that much different than living in any other dictatorship. The secret police are a little bit creepier, I guess.

But, on Earth, two things that often breaks dictatorships is a changing of the guard or the dictator becoming visibly weaker. Zon-Kuthon hasn't lost interest and, even if he declined in power, that likely wouldn't be visible to the citizens.

Even as outsiders, we can say Zon-Kuthon and the Umbral Court would be far harder to depose than any Earthly dictator. If some heroic adventurers took out the Umbral Court, the shadowcasters, the shadow giants, and a lot of kytons... they might have a chance.

So if you disagree with the guy that's been in power for ten thousand years, what do you do? Keep your head down, dream of leaving, and settle for petty rebellions.

Cheers!
Landon


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Kytons are always awesome. And there was a mention at GenCon that one of the new Bestiaries (probably Bestiary 5?) has a kyton that focuses on getting in people's heads. Yeah. Because that's not freaky at all.

I think the underrepresented xill are also a good choice. They tie in with the Ethereal and implant eggs in people, which is always a win for me.

Anything that you can recast as a degenerate human is great. Khaei from the Inner Sea Bestiary and derro are already pretty occult, but this also includes stuff like gibbering mouthers.

I'd also use a lot of serpentfolk, but pulp and occult are like peanut butter and chocolate to me.

You can also throw in all the cool dream stuff: night hags, nightmare creatures, zoog, nightgaunts, animate dreams, denizens of Leng, baku, and Cthulhu.

Cheers!
Landon


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Well, let's try to compare apples to apples.

Classes
Of our group at GenCon this year, four came back excited about different classes. And the remaining two classes look potentially fun with archetypes provided in the book.

Even though we'll probably decide some don't work, it's already doing better than the ACG, Ultimate Magic, and Ultimate Combat. And will probably end up about on par with the APG.

Character Options
There are about half a dozen archetypes/bloodlines that I'm interested in for existing classes, including two getting new spontaneous casting options.

The spells are also pretty cool, but not head and shoulders above other books for existing classes. There are some cool feats, but my favorites just provide access to the optional rules below.

For making characters with existing classes, I'd tend to put this above the ACG and Ultimate Magic. The APG probably beats it in this area.

Optional Rules
The optional rules material will definitely get folded into my games. I'm not sure about psychic duels and chakras, but the skill unlocks and rituals are going straight into the toolbox.

That puts it ahead of Mythic Adventures for most of my campaigns, but also beats out Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, and Ultimate Campaign. Pathfinder Unchained should win here, in theory, but I haven't ended up using it at all yet.

Campaign Advice
There's a nice section at the back about integrating occult themes into the game. There isn't much to compare this to, but I think it's much more effective than the Mythic Adventures equivalent.

Overall
The APG is the supplement my group draws from the most. Occult Adventures probably won't pass it, but is in the same ballpark.

While there's some stuff that could suit me better, I think Occult Adventures compares very favorably to the rest of the line.

Cheers!
Landon


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Clearly Norgorber is lying, claiming that he ascended through the Starstone to slander our lord Razmir.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
MMCJawa wrote:
also probably should throw in the generic "orientation doesn't equal sex". You can have gay npcs in a campaign with no suggestion of sex, just by having the bartender have a husband instead of a wife, etc.

This is an important note.

Even if you don't get into the romances of background characters, a lot of plots involve people's partners. Like "Oh, my partner got kidnapped! Have some gold to get them back!" or "Please get the magical whosit to help convince my partner's parents to let them marry."

A simple step is just mixing up those genders every so often by flipping those gender roles or having a couple of the same gender.

Cheers!
Kinak


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I don't really enjoy playing that much and would cheerfully just GM all the time.

Cheers!
Landon


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I feel like we have this under control in our group, mostly due to talking out other issues rather than player-facing rules changes.

Nobody Likes Save-or-Suck
We have a save-or-suck mutual disarmament. I'm happy to tone down enemies' save-or-suck effects as long as the casters don't throw them around all the time.

Everyone ends up having more fun this way, in my experience, even the casters. While, simultaneously, you remove one of the most annoying aspects of caster power.

Combats Need to Keep Moving
If a player uses an ability that grinds combat to a halt, it's not necessarily "broken," but it's definitely impolite.

So you don't summon a bunch of creatures and make everyone wait to resolve their attacks. And you don't buff people who are having a hard enough time with the math already.

It takes time to teach players to think this way, but it's definitely worth the up-front cost. Combats run way faster, new players slip in more easily, and effects that warp action economy are discouraged.

What's Left?
So casters in my games mostly end up doing out-of-combat problem solving, healing, and blasting. I think it's a pretty balanced and enjoyable experience, but others may disagree.

Cheers!
Landon


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They'll all be fine.

I'd feel a little sad missing gunslingers for Iron Gods and witches for Reign of Winter. But you can play those paths without them already. I'm actually running Reign of Winter without a witch right now.

Cheers!
Landon


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Great post!

As others have said, the inhabitants of Indianapolis have never been anything less than welcoming... even as we wandered their streets in outlandish costumes and accidentally went to their fancy restaurants in T-shirts.

But we were seriously considering taking a year off before GenCon's statement and the mayor's response. Bullying doesn't sit well with us, particularly as most of our group fall somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum anyway.

So, I'm very glad GenCon and Indy came out so strong on this. On a lot of levels.

Cheers!
Landon


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Zaister wrote:
Has Carcosa actually been mentioned as part of the Pathfinder cosmology?

It's mentioned in Hastur's description in Bestiary 4 and is alluded to in the backmatter of Wake of the Watcher, although not called out by name that I can see.

Cheers!
Landon


1 person marked this as a favorite.
StabbittyDoom wrote:
By your powers combined, I am Captain Plan-It!

Hooks! Plot! Fights! Roleplay! Heart!

Heart? What kind of power is Heart?

Barathos wrote:
I just don't use published adventures because most of it seems too combat focused and I don't railroad.

Yeah, I don't think everyone should use them. That's just my personal experience.

I can't speak for anyone else's players, but mine actually really like having some rails to go back to if they get lost. And they enjoy "shopping" for APs by theme.

For example, I'm starting Reign of Winter next Thursday because one of the players (who doesn't normally have time) said she'd reserve a day out of her schedule for Baba Yaga.

I won't argue the combat-focused, though. It definitely took me a couple tries to get the pacing right.

Cheers!
Lanodn


1 person marked this as a favorite.
thegreenteagamer wrote:
Yeah, but short of guns, which can reflavored as special piercing crossbows, or magic altogether, in which case why are you playing a high fantasy game, what mechanic sans flavor could not possibly fit a setting? Even the previously mentioned alchemist could be re flavored as an essence mage that drinks bottled pure magic and ignores the pseudo science of alchemy.

I'm fine with gunslingers, but I've actually been considering a reflavored version that slings wands (or an archetype to actually interact directly with the wand rules). Give them cantrips and you have most of the wizards in Harry Potter, actually.

Cheers!
Landon


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Adventure Paths for me.

In the first twenty years I GMed, I think I ran two published adventures. As someone said upthread, I felt like it was "lazy."

But, no matter how awesome I am, it certainly can't hurt to accept a little help from folks like Greg Vaughan, Mike Shel, and James Sutter.

I'm not perfect. They're not perfect. But together it's kind of like GM Voltron.

Cheers!
Landon


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Danbala wrote:

That's cool news.

Is 5e being translated into German or French? My understanding is that it is English only at this point.

As far as I know, it's still English only and no plans have been announced to change that. Here's an earlier post on that.

Cheers!
Landon


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Thanks for fixing the sniper! And generally taking a second to buff/fix things that aren't working quite right.

Cheers!
Landon


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Landon Winkler wrote:
If the creature slain is NOT in possession of the Sihedron when slain, can someone else transfer it to the slain person to trigger the resurrection power? (I would assume yes, because the artifact can transfer to retroactively affect a saving throw, more or less.)

I'd definitely allow it.

There's even a mention of it being transferred in the moment before an attack to let it's healing save someone. So it would actually be kind of confusing if it couldn't do this.

Landon Winkler wrote:
Second question: can it resurrect someone several rounds (or longer) after he is slain?

This I probably wouldn't allow. It's triggered the instant they die and it's not clear the star could be transferred to a dead creature.

Cheers!
Landon


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Sorry to hear about the delay, but sweet damn is that a great looking book!

If a couple delays are the price to get a product like that, I'm 100% on board.

Cheers!
Landon


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I actually like the gatekeeping effect, but don't particularly like how it plays out with most creatures.

DR to me feels like golems. They're just hard to hurt, but if you hit them hard enough, you're good to go. Other creatures, like werewolves, feel like they should have something along the lines of regeneration.

But hitting a creature like a skeleton and doing no damage just doesn't feel right. It feels more like there's a cap on damage that isn't bludgeoning.

I'm usually happier to have an encounter say "no, really, you can't win here unless you figure out the puzzle" than "okay, if you try really hard, it'll work." Because the first way, my players are more likely to take the hint and have fun. The latter way, they might win through, but they'll be frustrated.

Cheers!
Landon


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Making their way back to Stink, our trio were reminded that Baz was not the only threat to the foul-smelling devil. The Suzerain also ruled over his corner of the dungeon, likely to expand now that Lord Baz has been banished back to the Hells.

Following Stink's instructions, they made their way to the Suzerain's chambers. They gently opened the door, hearing the sloshing footsteps of Stink's kind and chirping commands to "Keep patrolling! Keep patrolling!"

Negotiations quickly broke down with the devils' hidden commander, the "Suzerain of Little Erebus." With Alara'hai and Alianne unwilling to salve the Suzerain's vast pride, the situation soon became violent.

Although the patrolling demons were cut again and again, they rallied at the Suzerain's cries. Aided by the cries, Korva and Alara cut down the invisible commander while Ali kept the disgusting lemures occupied.

With the Suzerain out of the way, his soldiers quickly folded under the combined onslaught.

Turning the Key
Prying open a nearby door, they discovered a long-abandoned store room containing a rough clockwork contraption the size of a man and a fine set of smith's tools.

Alara rifled through her packs, remembering a clockwork key they found near Baz's chamber. With it, they awoke the clockwork servant.

The clockwork was able to answer a few questions about the complex, specifically mentioning the labs of the pilings chief wizard hidden beyond a guardpost and a series of sewers.

Armed with that knowledge, they returned to Stink to settle their account and left the servant to tidy the long-destroyed labs.

The Veil of Water
Leaving Stink's room, they fell to curiosity about the stairs leading into the Varisian Gulf. Poking around that area, they found an observatory looking over the waving seaweed of the seafloor.

After shaking off their awe, they saw the shadow of a ship partially hidden by the seaweed, around the size of the vessel they'd left. "Is... that our ship?" Korva asked, suddenly considering a possible betrayal by the Tower Girls, but the name emblazoned on its side was "Liza Star."

Availing themselves of a scroll left by the observatories ancient inhabitants, they explored the wreck and killed the reefclaws nesting there. Korva identified the ship and its treasures as belonging to a lost sailor named Lockerbie Brast.

The Guardpost
Following the clockwork's instructions, they wove their way through the complex, avoiding unfinished tunnels. This lead to a room dominated by a murky pool and tentacle-pillars supporting its vaulted ceiling.

Knowing better than to trust the room, but lacking a better solution, Ali and Alara began swimming across with Korva providing cover. In Ali's faint light, a twisted face appeared in the gloom, it's jaw splitting in two as it clamped onto her face.

Despite the
unfavorable environment and the creatures' zealous bites, they destroyed the creatures and harvested what they could for Sheila's contact at the Golemworks.

Beyond the pool, they quickly found the promised sewers... and a distant voice singing in an unknown language. Ali, laboring under several wounds, suggested they withdraw to the clockwork's room to rest and recover before tackling the sewers.

The Sewers
After a day of rest under the watch of their clockwork servant, they made their way back past the watery guardpost and into the sewers proper. The singing had stopped, but they explored its source... a room painted with a view of Magnimar. It was not the shoreline Magnimar would be built on, but today's Magnimar.

Making their way on the bridge through the room, Ali and Alara noticed Korva's footsteps going silent. They turned to see a clawed hand gripping Korva's ankle from beneath the water, Korva frozen stock still. A breath later, the hand's owner used his hold to crawl up onto the bridge.

As he feasted on Korva's flesh, the others did what they could, hacking him off their friend and dropping his body back into the water. As Korva recovered from her ordeal, she filled in her suspicions: "I think that was Lockerbie Brast... also, I think he had a wife... we should probably find her."

Ali and Alara shared a glance, remember their father and uncle's experiences with ghoul fever. With that specter hanging over their heads, they made their way through the sewers quietly and cautiously.

GM's Notes:
Brast is supposed to be a bit friendlier, but they're doing fine and I couldn't pass up a chance for a genuinely freaky scene. Korva's player said "it's like you just channeled all my nightmares from childhood," so I'll call that a win.

As a bonus, Korva also got a great result on Knowledge (local) to get the side quest without talking to Brast, so having him try to kill her makes that check more important. If that makes any sense.

Arguing in the Dark
Bouncing through the sewers, whispers of a conversation made their way to the party. Sneaking forward, they soon found their source.

Three pallid humanoids with shocks of white hair and milky eyes argued about... something. Ali, able to understand their language the best, suggested it might be a philosophical question or experiment.

Alara, seemingly less concerned about the philosophical questions, hissed "these are Fenster's blue dwarfies." Korva nodded, "the ones behind the kidnappings."

Against the Kidnappers
And with that, the battle was quickly joined. The first of the stunted creatures fell to the assault, scattering his colleagues... only to have them return moments later.

Ali followed one, finding herself face to face with his ally... a vaguely humanoid mass of rotting parts crowned by a trepanned dwarf's head. Alara kept close to the other, taking a step back as Fenster himself emerged from her quarters, his face blank of its usual leer and bluster.

Although the creatures fought dirty, applying strange alchemical inventions, the stitched carrion proved the greatest menace. Ali took a number of filthy wounds before switching places with Alara, letting her glaive do the work of dismantling the hideous creature.

Meanwhile, Ali and Korva ravaged their humanoid opponents. The small creatures Korva called "derro" had a mad will, but could still be put down by a rapier to the heart or an arrow to the head.

As their last enemy fell in the darkness, they considered the merits of having let Fenster live after their first meeting.

GM's Notes:
This was the first real knock-down mess of a battle in the campaign. I tend to run fights as very dynamic affairs with waves of reinforcements being a common feature. The players handled this one really well.

Also, we got a ton of stuff done this session. In about three hours, we got a side fight on the way to the Suzerain (glossed over), the Suzerain fight, the reefclaws, the aquatic sinspawn, Lockerbie, the cave morays (glossed over), and the derro plus Fenster and the carrion golem. Plus a bunch of roleplaying and exploration.

Next Time
In the darkness below the Crow, does the next Shard await? Do any of the derros' prisoners yet live? And what were they doing down here?


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I think you'll lose something cutting out the tech (particularly the AIs), but I do love Spelljammer... so, some random thoughts.

The Engines
I'd establish early on some language for the power source for the ship. It reminds me a bit of the furnace (and artifact furnace) drives from Spelljammer, so I'll run with that.

So the lesser drives probably have some ancient magical items still being processed through (they were apparently really valuable). The dangers and random effects are from ages of magic stewing down in increasingly broken equipment.

Presumably certain rituals can pull magic from the furnaces from other uses, charging magical items from the ancient Spelljamming culture. This charge can be stored in crystals that are now used as currency in parts of Numeria.

The main drive, though, I'm betting was some sort of unique artifact furnace. The spirit of the artifact was the spirit of the ship as a whole.

The Gear
Wands (pistols), staves (rifles), and rods (heavy weapons) from the culture use their exotic magic rather than traditional charges. You can also find strange armor and non-combat items that use the same magic.

Most of them use the charge crystals (batteries), but others use more exotic materials like the clay that the ship molds into new creations (nanite canisters).

Locations
As described, a massive Spelljammer broke up in ages past and its fragments rained over what is now Numeria. It's made out of a strange metal, at least most of the parts that survived.

Any sails or rigging have been long destroyed, so the ship's metal husks seem quite mysterious to the Numerians. Internal controls were handled magically, drawing off the ship's power, so it's not strange to find fancy ritual chambers where different objects correspond to different systems (control rooms).

I'd be really tempted to build a symbolic language for players to apply throughout the adventure path, but you can always rely on stuff like Use Magic Device and Linguistics.

Adversaries
Robots are just a type of golem, sparked into life by the ship. That spark is attached to a core that's susceptible to well-aimed attacks and electrical damage.

Androids are just artificial people, not unlike simulacrums. They're a huge step up from robots, but still have life breathed into them by the ship's spirit.

Cheers!
Landon


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Story time! We had a Japanese guest sit in on some of our games a few months ago and, after one game, were trying to explain Pathfinder through the language barrier.

She's a giant Lord of the Rings fan and has a European History degree, which both help.

When we got to classes, that clicked pretty quickly. Then her host was trying to explain that you get a race and a class.

"So you can be a elf wizard or elf ranger."

"Mm-hmm. Makes sense."

"Or, you know, a dwarf ninja."

"Dwarf... ninja?"

"Yup! Or elf ninja or human ninja or ratfolk ninja or whatever."

"Dwarf... okay. Ninja, no. Why? Why ninja?"

We tried to explain cultural appropriation, which actually wasn't the problem at all. She was just trying to figure out why anyone would want ninjas in their Tolkien, exemplifying decades of conversations like this one.

Cheers!
Landon


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I want more books like Mythic Adventures and Occult Adventures that create a new thematic area rather than add more stuff to the same pot.

I'd also take a "Simple Class Guide" with a bunch of stripped-down but relatively balanced classes for players that don't want to do a ton of math and track a bunch of resources.

Cheers!
Landon


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Zaister wrote:
Ah thanks, while I have the web enhancement lined up, I forgot all about Dawn of the Scarlet Sun. The statblocks might come in handy, it would be cool if you could share them.

I've been keeping them on a wiki (link) as I go.

I basically set stats to be close to Monster Creation table in the Bestiary, then add enough special abilities to capture what I think the monster's flavor is. I take some definite liberties in the name of simplicity and speed of combat, though.

Edit: Oh, and "named" is my shorthand for "counts as two monsters, because I want them to last a while." "Boss" is my shorthand for, well, boss monsters. They count as four, but are usually also tricksy. Like I said, definite liberties :)

I'm only partway through Shattered Star, but if you see anything useful, feel more than free to grab it!

Cheers!
Landon


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Vampires work very differently as "level appropriate" encounters. If it's level appropriate, using garlic or holy symbols or what have you is dumb. You can just destroy them.

Now, if some low-level PCs have a mission in a vampire-ruled barony that has nothing to do with killing vampires, you start to see some of the old tricks surface.

I found it also helps a lot if you always describe magical enemy deaths with a bit of flair. Last campaign my players ended up fighting a group of vampires twice because "he collapses into mist" didn't stand out, so the vampires had time to recuperate.

Cheers!
Landon


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I completely reworked this fight, but teleport trap was definitely part of it (because he'd been observing the party and one character was a travel cleric who did a ton of teleporting). That was a nasty surprise, even though nobody failed their saves.

There was also an archer, so he memorized quickened wind wall. Didn't help his minions much, but between that and quickened dimension door, could shut down the party's entire offense.

The more major change I made was putting runes in the ground around the runewell. Basically, each provided him a different defense in the style of prismatic sphere, but they could be sundered with dominant weapons or taken over if the players wanted to match wills with Karzoug.

The fight ended up taking around an hour and being very satisfying for all involved. But it also only vaguely resembled the fight in the book, so I have no idea how much that helps.

Cheers!
Landon


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Insain Dragoon wrote:
My standards are pretty average and thats why I even own RPG books in the first place, I expect some level of balance issues and rules errors. I don't believe that the ACG was bad because my standards were too high, I think it was bad because Paizo can and has done better. When people hear a core Paizo book they hear that they are going to get a quality product worth their money and it was advertized as such. I wouldn't go far enough to say that it was false advertising, but I do feel lied to and betrayed after all those blog posts hyping up a product that doesn't deliver.

I'm sorry, but if you feel "lied to and betrayed" your standards are not average.

The average Pathfinder player doesn't get the ACG. They don't read blog posts. They don't post on the message boards. And they certainly aren't so emotionally involved with the product that they'd feel betrayed by the sort of errors people are reporting.

None of which is to say that you're feelings are invalid. They're just way, way stronger than average.

Cheers!
Landon


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I'm a big believer in Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition for this. It has the triple advantages of lower cost, being designed around classic themes (because it's the first AP), and having a lot of little improvements for the Anniversary Edition.

It also doesn't have any weird special or extra rules. It's very easy to run using just the core rulebook or PRD.

It also starts in Sandpoint, so you wouldn't be too far off from We Be Goblins :)

Enjoy We Be Goblins! And I hope you find an AP that speaks to you.

Cheers!
Landon


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justmebd wrote:
Food for thought Part II: Mystara, but again, I think you'd have to have Bruce Heard involved since he poured so much of himself into that setting.

Not sure if you've seen this, but he's working on a new setting.

Cheers!
Landon


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In homebrews I usually don't bother with many magical items. Any permanent items are generally story-relevant.

In Rise of the Runelords (and, soon, Shattered Star) I included an old Varisian woman that specialized in getting items to the correct owners. So they'd trade in their piles of unhelpful items for more appropriate items and she'd, in turn, trade their cast offs with people who'd appreciate them.

The idea of just letting people buy whatever they want is kind of foreign to me. But the PCs can't be the only people wanting to sell items in a city like Magnimar.

The closest to a true magic shop in my games would probably be crafting. If anyone were interested, I'd create a recipe-based crafting system to allow for customization while still providing some direction.

My players are pretty content just getting loot and shopping the hard way, though.

Cheers!
Landon


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Mythic Evil Lincoln, I just wanted to say you did a great job explaining this.

Cheers!
Landon


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Piccolo Taphodarian wrote:
That's the problem with the game at the moment. I have never quite understood why one of the guiding mantras of game development is not "What would a power gamer do with this ability?" If they asked themselves that more often while designing rules, this kind of whacky stuff wouldn't happen. It would make life easier on DMs everywhere, which would increase the number of people playing the game.

At some level, I'm sure they do. It's an important consideration as a designer how to discourage people from ruining their own fun.

But powergaming is a tool that can be used towards several ends.

  • Does your party want to trivialize combats to get to the story faster?
  • Do they want to play the AP on easy mode?
  • Is it that they want more powers to make the game more tactically interesting?
  • Has it just become an arms race between the PCs for who's getting the spotlight?
  • Do their character concepts require they start more competent than the average first level character?
  • Do the players want to compete among themselves?
  • Does a suboptimal build for the campaign need a bump?

Maybe you don't need any of those things. But it's still handy to have a range of tools in case they come up.

Cheers!
Landon


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I would never consider lowering martial damage without reworking magic damage, monster damage, healing, and especially save or die effects.

I do think there's space for a lower (or equal) damage, higher mobility, higher versatility character. But there's no reason that can't be approached through the class design, rather than completely reworking combat.

Cheers!
Landon


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I'm pretty neutral on APs, I usually want stuff I'm not looking for to spur creativity, but I'd adore a Sarusan AP. Or really anything that touches on the Dreaming or Dreamtime.

Drejk wrote:
Sarusan AP should be like: spiders, spiders, snake, sheep, spiders, croc, spider, croc, scorpion, spiders, duckbear, snake, spider, spider-snake, croc, weresheep, snake, spider, scorpion, duckspidersnake, sheep, yellowdingo, snake, spider, snake, with duckspidersnakebearcroc as a BBEG.

The duckspidersnakebearcroc is just a puppet to the tiny octopus power behind the throne :)

Cheers!
Landon


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I feel like most APs the main "good thing" is preserving the status quo. That said, there are always side effects.

AP spoilers:
In Rise of the Runelords, Xin-Shalast being discovered and opened for exploitation could lead to some boom towns. Depending on the players, it could even be rebuilt.

Shattered Star you have the Sihedron in the hands of the PCs or the Pathfinder Society. Also, Xin's palace is now a thing off the coast, which is kind of cool.

Reign of Winter, you do get a new leader in Irrisen. And the wishes Baba Yaga grants could be suitably Golarion-shaking.

Mummy's Mask I don't see much effect. Maybe the Ruby Prince realizes letting people dig around in his ruins isn't such a great idea, but that's about it.

Iron Gods you apparently can help a new god ascend and help determine its personality and portfolio.

Cheers!
Landon

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