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Villedt

Landon Winkler's page

Goblin Squad Member. RPG Superstar 2014 Star Voter. Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 686 posts. 39 reviews. 1 list. 1 wishlist.


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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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I'd reward them for getting involved, personally.

I'd probably make it lead into the catacombs. Either add an entrance to the catacombs from Old Light's basement or make it very clear that there was some sort of power source beneath Old Light at some point, but the tunnels have long since collapsed.

Maybe throw in some low level encounters with vermin, making it a bit of a mini-dungeon.

Whatever you do, though, make sure it isn't a dead end. Make them feel smart and draw them in.

Cheers!
Landon


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Teasing APs is a delicate art. It's a lot like movie trailers. You don't want to put all the best scenes in the trailer, but if you don't let people know what the movie's about, they're not going to watch it.

It's also important so that people make characters that will want to complete the AP.

As a good example of that: Second Darkness. If you don't spoil that they're going to transition from Riddleport shenanigans to saving the world, there's a good chance you end up with a bunch of characters who aren't interested past Book 2.

Giving more information is an opportunity for the players to make an informed decision and help you make the campaign work better.

Cheers!
Landon


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Thelemic_Noun wrote:
And Malachi and Landon can stop arguing now. De gustibus and all that.

Apologies if I overstepped myself.

On a more positive note, I think the lair actions for their legendary creatures are pretty cool. Basically, at initiative 20, the lair gets to act (steam venting, acid bubbles up, madness intrudes, or whatever).

It helps solve the action economy issue for solo monsters and, hopefully, makes the terrain a little more dynamic at the same time. Very "boss fight," which I'm a fan of.

Cheers!
Landon


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KaiserDM wrote:
LOL, that's awesome. I love in-game retcons like that (even if it's a bit cheesy). But how would a new player even know that?

More awesome than that, it's not just a simple rewind, because all that stuff still happened, it's just that some of the effects are gone.

For example, I'm pretty sure Neverwinter still got destroyed by Mount Hotenow (not sure I spelled that right) but now apparently the earthmotes have fallen... which means neither the 3e nor the 4e materials for Neverwinter are accurate.

And Bhaal, Bane, Myrkul, and... the goddess of Mists whose name I can't remember are all back, along with one of the older Mystras. Which is actually a retcon back to 1st Edition FR. But they were all still dead for a while and the timeline's advanced, so the 1st Edition material is by no means right either.

No idea what happened to Cyric or Kelemvor, who had those gods' powers. Cyric died a while ago. Maybe Kelemvor died while I wasn't looking and wasn't on Ao's retcon list? I dunno.

Asmodeus and his tieflings are almost assuredly still around, unless WotC really hates Erin Evans.

And Tiamat is... a thing now. Probably best to just sweep her previous mentions under the rug and go with whatever the adventure says.

I wouldn't even begin to know how to explain what's happened to the Zhentarim, one of the setting's classic villain groups. They used to serve Bane, served Cyric for a while, I think they got destroyed for a while, then... something... now apparently they're anti-hero mercenaries fighting against Tiamat.

From what I understand there's about a ten year time jump after the Sundering. So basically every 5e FR PC will have lived through all the stuff above and longer-lived races may have been born before the Spellplague (4e's Realms Shaking Event) as well.

None of that stops someone from grabbing the 3e books and saying "this is when we're playing the Realms." That campaign will definitely not match up with the 5e material, though.

Cheers!
Landon


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I wouldn't buy a book like this.

I would, on the other hand, totally pick up a 32 or 64 page GM's guide to the AP with more materials or fixes.

That said, I'm not sure there's a realistic way to produce them. If they didn't send the book off to the printers until the 6th installment was released and digested, the GM's guide wouldn't be out until we were well into the next AP.

I think, all in all, prowling the forums works out best.

Cheers!
Landon


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Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


#97: In Hell's Bright Shadow, by Crystal Frasier
#98: Turn of the Torrent, by Mike Shel
#99: Dance of the Damned, by Richard Pett
#100: A Song of Silver, by James Jacobs
#101: The Kintargo Contract, by Jim Groves
#102: Breaking the Bones of Hell, by Amber Scott

Ooo maybe someone tries to make a contract for all the souls of Kintargo and the PCs have to stop them.

*is excited*

Kintargo Contract spoilers from the panel:
It's even better, in my opinion. You get part of the original contact signed with Asmodeus by Abrogail Thrune I and try to find the loopholes you need to make it serve your ends.

Cheers!
Landon


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As someone who waited in line, I have to agree with Neil.

I've been to the Paizo booth for the last several GenCons. It's traditionally been a giant mess getting items and checking out, due to the line flooding the booth.

Waiting in line wasn't my favorite activity of the day, but it made the time in the booth one of the best parts of the day. You could walk around, find products, maybe even have a conversation with people, and leisurely check out rather than fighting the mob.

If it can be made better, great, but I felt like it was totally worth it.

Cheers!
Landon


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Scott Betts wrote:
I'm not sure how you managed to miss all of this, but D&D's presence there was much larger than you're making it out to be. Again, you can check the Gen Con event listings if you don't believe me (or the photos) to confirm how many players they were running.

I believe you mentioned in a previous post how you hadn't been to GenCon before, so let me explain how you'd miss that.

That's a hall a GenCon. It's not a special hall. It's just one of several gaming halls, including the Sagamore people mentioned above. They all look basically the same.

There were over 56,000 people there this weekend. Most of the gaming spaces were packed, along with CCGs being played in the hallways and people taking games back to their hotels.

Meanwhile, people who aren't actively playing games or participating in events will spend time in the Dealer's Hall. Because that's where every company that wants to sell games has a booth.

Wizards didn't have a booth in the Dealer's Hall.

So, I glanced in Hall D on Thursday, wondering why Wizards' castle was set up in the back of what appeared to be a boardgaming hall. I saw a 3rd party booth in the Dealer's Hall selling a ton of minis and some 5e books. And one of the groups we talked to in our hotel lobby were playing 5e.

That's the 5e exposure I got from 4 days of GenCon. I say that as someone who playtested starting with the first packet, has been following the system closely, and would have liked to look at an MM if I knew they were floating around.

Cheers!
Landon


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The proficiency bonus bugs me for a different reason. In theory, the game was supposed to have "bounded accuracy" and "flat math" by excluding things like the 1/2 level bonus from 4e.

But the proficiency bonus is exactly the same type of bonus. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Cheers!
Landon


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RJGrady wrote:
So, to be a really comprehensive classic style world, Golarion has sci-fi elements.

It's true.

To be fair, it stretches back even further than the Barrier Peaks, all the way back to Blackmoor, the second supplement ever released for D&D back in 1975. This means it predates things like demihumans choosing classes, demons, and druids.

Cheers!
Landon


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OmNomNid wrote:
I forget where it is mentioned but I believe the Shoanti were a caste of slave-warriors in the Thassalion that developed a unique culture after the Runelords went away.

I also remember this. As I recall, the Shoanti were a warrior caste and the Varisians were a worker caste.

I'm sure it's answered in print, but I also dug up this thread for you.

Cheers!
Landon


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Jacob Saltband wrote:
So how do skills work in 5e? How do you get them, how do you increase them, etc.

You get them primarily from backgrounds (a new thing you pick during character creation). Some classes, such as rogues, gain additional skills.

They increase automatically as you level, although more slowly than something like True20. It scales from something like +2 at 1st level to +7 at 20th.

That's basically it. Some skills are called "tool proficiencies" instead, but they work exactly the same way.

Cheers!
Landon


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Speaking of old threads:

Lisa Stevens wrote:
I anybody at Obsidian wants to talk to me about a CRPG based on Pathfinder, I am all ears! Have them contact me at lisa@paizo.com.

Cheers!

Landon


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*leans forward* Go on...


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Kerney wrote:

Question: I ran into a person who wished to set up a company that would continue to support 4e. While I thought he was an idiot (for several reasons), I was wondering, is anyone in a position to do a Paizo and divert one source of fans/supporters by providing support for 4e?

I assume the answer is probably no, but truthfully I don't know.

It's tricky. You can produce a 4e-ish game under the OGL pretty easily, but it'd need to be built from scratch.

What you can't do is expand off of existing 4e material, which makes the whole thing pretty tenuous.

I haven't seen anyone come out with a full-on 4e clone yet. But if they did, they'd have to basically rewrite the PHB, DMG, and MM using new verbage and avoiding any 4e terminology that isn't used in OGL products.

Also, I'd suggest anyone making a 4e clone retain a lawyer, because I'm not one but I know this stuff gets murky.

13th Age is the closest I've seen so far, but it's definitely just 4e-ish, rather than a true 4e clone.

Cheers!
Landon


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Jacob Saltband wrote:
So how do rituals work in 5e? If I did a detect magic ritual what would it entail?

It takes ten minutes longer to cast, but does not cost a spell slot.

Cheers!
Landon


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Jacob Saltband wrote:
I heard that the bard was going to have 9th lv spells, is this so? Does that make the bard a 4th full arcane caster?

Yup, bards are full casters. Warlocks, on the other hand, aren't full casters like the others. They work on a different set of mechanics.

So, unless my count is off, it's only three full arcane casters. Plus the two divine ones (cleric and druid).

thejeff wrote:
P.H. Dungeon wrote:
So what does the Warcaster feat end up doing?
Or more generally, is there anything to mitigate the Concentration issue?

Warcaster gives advantage on concentration saves, lets you cast spells with somatic components even if your hands are full of weapons/shields, and lets you use single-target spells to fill in for opportunity attacks.

So it helps some.

Cheers!
Landon


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It could be something in the definition of godhood. I mean, demigods can grant spells and they can also come and bash your head... so clearly the true gods are something different.

Obviously demigods have the power to warp reality. Even adventurers warp reality regularly.

Once you become powerful enough, you ascend and become a god. Once you become powerful enough, you've warped reality to the point it wraps right back around into an enclosed space.

So the point of ascension, the creation of the god's planar home, and the reason it's not "here" anymore are all the same thing and occur at the same time. It's almost tautological.

If they get full, uncontested use of their power somewhere... all it does is fold that area into their realm. Some of the gods might want that, but it doesn't help their mortal agents at all.

So they filter their power through mortal agents, making them no more powerful than the petty godlings who call themselves wizards.

Cheers!
Landon


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Humans! Really, I'm perfectly fine with just humans. Especially if you include some sort of background system.

Picking a list, though... humans, tieflings, ratfolk, hobgoblins, elves, half-elves, and dwarves.

Cheers!
Landon


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This isn't the best basis for a ruling but... it seems like that feat implies a lot based on how you normally use Bluff. If you'd let a PC mislead a target with Bluff, I'd allow them to Bewildering Koan the same target.

The extra tricky part is bluff doesn't explicitly say what you need there... but I think language dependent and has-an-Intelligence-score is a very reasonable standard.

Cheers!
Landon


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Thanks for bringing us home, Jason :)

And now I want to run an adventure in the Blight. It reminds me a bit of the Lost Woods in the original Legend of Zelda, where walking through it the right way might be your only way to find the dungeon.

I'm looking forward to picking up a copy of the ACG at GenCon.

Cheers!
Landon


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R_Chance wrote:

A huge change for 3.x, normal for 2E and prior editions iirc. Damage always disrupted spell casters in previous editions. Personally I think damage should have a good chance of disrupting spellcasting (if not always). If you're in pain from being hit or dodging to avoid being eviscerated (and a loss of hp could be either) it might just spoil your concentration...

I like the concentration mechanic as well. If you thinks it's a bit harsh allow the effect to wear off after the next round instead of instantly.

I don't have a lot of experience with 1st Edition, but 5th is the opposite of 2nd. Spells in 2nd were constantly being disrupted during casting, but their durations generally ran out without any further incident.

On the other hand, 5th doesn't seem to let you disrupt during casting at all... except for a weird corner case where you can be disrupted if you're holding your action to cast a spell. And there's a lot of focus on disrupting spells after they've been cast.

Something like fly demonstrates the difference pretty clearly. In 2nd Edition, casting it during combat might result in you not getting your spell off, but once you're in the air you're golden. But in 5th, casting during combat is fine, but actually flying during combat is... hazardous.

That's not a good thing or a bad thing by itself, but it's a major difference from 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (where sustain effects couldn't normally be disrupted outside of action denial). And it'll take a while before we see how it shakes out.

Cheers!
Landon


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Rynjin wrote:
A game that is not balanced is not a game. It's a farce. Part of a game designer's job is making sure content is balanced.

Are asymmetrical games not games in your view? How about asymmetric co-op games like Pandemic? Asymmetrical trust games like Werewolf/Mafia? Casino games where the odds favor the house? Free-to-play games that let you buy items? Games that reference biographical information (such as letting the youngest player go first)?

I'll grant balance is very important for many kinds of games, but even that may not be apparent in a straight comparison between characters. Just a given match-up in Street Fighter typically goes one way doesn't mean the game as a whole is imbalanced.

Your choice of characters in a game like that, just like selecting a deck in Magic or Heathstone, depends on what other people are playing. That's not balanced, but it is very much intentional.

The question for those games is never "balance" so much as the health of the metagame. If you sit down and everybody's playing the same thing, something's probably broken. In fact, symmetrical matches where players are both playing the same deck are considered a failure state. Does actively avoiding match balance make them not games?

Now, the question is: do you find Pathfinder's metagame unhealthy? Do you sit down at your table and find that everyone's made the same character? Do you grab a PFS seat and realize every player brought the same build?

Cheers!
Landon


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Good job on this one. I particularly like the outflank change and switching anything to spontaneous casting is a huge win for me.

Very elegant way to handle the spell list too. I appreciate that a lot.

Cheers!
Landon


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Dennis Baker wrote:
I struggle with the idea that the wizard is a great representative of a classic literary spellcaster. The overwhelming majority of spellcasting I've seen done in fiction has been something much closer to what the sorcerer does. Casters have some spell or power they know and cast it whenever they want but it exhausts some pool of power they have.

Yeah. I don't think I've seen a PC wizard since 3rd edition introduced the sorcerer.

Even for NPCs, I really prefer sorcerers both to match PCs' flavor and for the ease of running them.

The arcanist brings back the flavor I like from wizards with less weird story and mechanical baggage, so it's likely to pull some of that ground back. And it gives me an excuse to run villains as spontaneous casters but still let them prepare to the PCs.

So, to me, the arcanist is more an chance to salvage the wizard class, just as some people see the slayer or investigator as an attempt to salvage the rogue.

Cheers!
Landon


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Today’s Cast:
Lyz was GMing and providing the moans of the damned.
Jessica took over Aspexia.
Jordan is well and hooked, back for his second game with Bellis.
Sawako shifted roles, taking Al.
I got the other brother, Hal.
Yoshie was still watching.

Hal and Al made their way back to the spire to explore the second level. Joining them were the halfling Bellis, the archeologist Aspexia, and a large jar of pickles for the new goblin monarch.

The treaty seemed to hold, even with Aspexia taking a short detour to map the first level for the sage Abernard Royst.

Heading into the depths, we soon encountered the source of the moaning and shuffling that had so disturbed Hal and Al days before. Two goblins attacked us on the stairs, despite their obvious decomposition and our offers of pickles. Even in the clinging darkness, Al’s calls to the powers of life and the slow plunking of crossbow bolts were able to win the day.

Welcome to my Laboratory
Making our way into the depths, we quickly found an expansive lab with the crystalline spire peeking into one corner of the room.

Someone had been conducting awful experiments… mostly dismembering people and massive spiders, then stitching them back together wrong. It had apparently been recent, the bucket of spent blood in the corner still filled the room with its stench.

Aspexia took a moment to empty the contents of her stomach and compose herself before examining the room further. She quickly found a mechanism set into the floor, leaving the rest of us quite glad we’d waited politely.

Avoiding the trap once she pointed it out, we examined the rest of the room, quickly finding a secret panel on the far wall. The room’s contents and secrets did not speak well for the inhabitants’ sanity, so we decided to see what they had in mind…

Hal and Al, apparently finding their brotherly connection in strange circumstances, both hit on the idea of triggering the trap with one of the corpses. Some huffing and puffing later, the corpse landed on the pressure plate… followed a moment later by a steel cage and a human skeleton, moving under the power of magic and slashing at the corpse trapped with it.

While the thing was getting its bearings, Aspexia slashed into it, sending its component bones clattering to the ground. Hal, feeling a bit useless despite sharing in the plan, sprayed the scattered bones with acid.

He felt somewhat vindicated as the bones danced outside the cage and reassembled, bathed in the spire’s light. Bellis took the lead this time, smashing the thing down with her fists and leaving Hal to dissolve the remaining shards with acid.

Following the excitement, Aspexia pointed out the slightly-bloodied scroll tube that had been concealed by the moved body. Examining the contents, they found two scrolls Hal claimed would come in extremely handy and a third that served no obvious purpose.

The numeral four on the scroll was clear enough and the main rune looked similar to the one in this room and the one Ingra was interested in above. However no one even recognized the rest of the writing. Aspexia took a moment to carefully copy down all three runes for her own notes.

The Crypts
Passing through the secret tunnel Aspexia had discovered, we soon found a matching door opening into a set of eight stone caskets. Although it seemed we might be disturbing the dead, Aspexia relayed that illusion and necromancy was already at work here… perhaps the same wizard at work in the laboratory.

Not wanting to be suddenly surrounded by animate corpses, Bellis and Aspexia moved forward to slide the lid off the first stone casket. Even the momentary flicker of darkness filled with countless eyeballs couldn't deter them. Hal helpfully added “that’s the illusion… I hope.”

While we were distracted by the darkness, however, six of the caskets slid open, their skeletal inhabitants crawling out to descend on us.

The following melee was well-ordered, but brutal. Although we arranged ourselves in the doorway, the skeletons still outnumbered us. Bellis could easily shatter them with her fists… but they dragged her down quickly. Aspexia’s sword was less useful, but she succumbed to their attacks as well.

Al’s channeling was potentially devastating, but he had his hands full keeping Bellis and Aspexia alive. Given few chances to catch her breath, Aspexia called on her ancient lore to heal as well. Even Hal had to get in on the healing, force-feeding the unconscious Aspexia a potion.

Cooler heads prevailed and we avoided a panicked retreat, eventually wearing outlasting the skeletons through sheer force of healing. However, Al and Aspexia were exhausted after the fight, casting further exploration into doubt.

Checking over the room quickly, we found a horn that would produce clouds of fog when sounded. Not sure exactly what such a thing is good for, we settled on letting Hal keep it in case scouting went awry.

With that decided, we withdrew to Fort Inevitable.

Interlude in Fort Inevitable
Making our way back through the Echo Wood, we found Fort Inevitable to be quite welcoming compared to the skeleton-filled catacombs of the spire.

Aspexia consulted with the sage Royst, turning in her completed map of the goblin’s home in turn for a healthy stack of gold. Seeing his good mood, we steered the conversation to the runes carved into the spire and the note we found.

He was able to identify the note as written in Azlanti, the “language of the old masters,” but confided that no one in the fort could read it. Left without an obvious path, we handed copies of our new-found runes to Ingra, who’d taken such interest in the first we found.

Hal pointed out that the note wasn't "old master old, just regular old." Although convinced the discrepancy is an important clue, he couldn't explain a clue to what.

Flush with gold, we purchased sets of flint and steel for Bellis and Al. Considering the spire must go down at least one more rune, we also stocked up on pickles.

Al suggested we visit the clergy of Pharasma for aid in fighting the undead. Perhaps with that common ground, they could at provide us with holy water.

We decided to let Aspexia, a practicing follower of Pharasma, take the lead. Although the clergy were clearly concerned by the reports of undead, they were also reluctant to part with much holy water. However, when Hal provided details of the lab and it’s stitched-together creations, their resistance vanished.

Despite the excitement of being freshly equipped for the depths, we all settled in for a good night’s rest before returning.

Back into the Dark
We bribed our way back through the goblins, finding something disturbing in the catacombs... someone had passed through the lab since we left: cleaning up our mess and resetting the trap. Unfortunately, the reeking bucket of blood remained in the corner.

We kept our hands off this time, hoping the lab’s users may not notice our second passage. Al was momentarily and desperately convinced that the bucket hid something, being left untouched in the cleaning. The rest of us weighed on him to not disturb the room or make it smell any worse.

The catacombs had been tidied as well, setting us more on edge, but we pushed forward into a partially collapsed room. A skeletal arm protruded from the rubble, thankfully not grasping at us.

We excavated the rest of the body, finding a small key and tattered priestly vestments.

Aspexia, always the cautious one, discovered that part of the floor was designed to break away. We opened the trap with rocks, being quite glad we hadn’t sent a colleague to the spikes below... or into the den of whatever was making that chittering sound.

Evil Spirits?
Left without any immediate danger, we turned the key to its natural purpose, opening the door opposite the pit. The room contained little but ancient webbing and a wardrobe in the corner, but whimpering moans echoed from the wardrobe.

Deciding discretion was the better part of dealing with an evil spirit, we closed the door… only to realize the inhabitant of the pit had used our distraction to get the drop of us. A massive spider, apparently the same variety as we found in the lab, was almost at our heels.

Thankfully, Aspexia was fast enough to get between Hal and the massive spider before it could sink its fangs into his scaly flesh.

The battle was quick but brutal, with Aspexia being bitten and the spider crushed by Bellis’s fists. Aspexia was able to shake off poison without ill effect.

Emboldened by our success, we turned back to the door, sending Aspexia and Bellis ahead to open the wardrobe. The wooden container collapsed at the slightest touch, revealing a rotting form. Aspexia took one blow from the thing’s meaty fists and nearly collapsed, but Al rushed in to heal her… scarcely avoiding a weighted net falling from the ceiling.

Although the zombie fell quickly, we all breathed a sigh of relief that we had not attempted to explore the room while the spider was at our heels.

One Last Door
More cautious now, Aspexia and Al put their ears to the final door out of the collapsed room. Tiny metallic clinks sounded through the door.

Aspexia asked whether it could be a clockwork like “Clanky” upstairs. Al, who heard the thing moving, shot down the sound as far too quiet for that sort of creature.

The door, thankfully unlocked, opened to reveal a room filled with thick webbing. Swords, daggers, and an axe hung in the webbing like flies, along with a desiccated body. A few glittering copper pieces clinked together, barely visible in Aspexia’s arcane light.

Rather than charging in, we elected to exercise our new flint and steel by catching the webbing on fire. It spread slowly and smokily, making the room even more difficult to see through.

We settled in to wait for it to burn through, letting the smoke drift far over our heads. Movement in the webs indicated we’d successfully flushed out the weaver, another massive spider.

Separated from it’s lair, it was only able to bite Bellis before being cut down.

We carefully explored earlier parts of the catacombs, hooking up parts of Aspexia’s map, as the fire burned down. With it burnt out, we gathered the metal items liberated from the spider.

Next Time
Beyond the charred webbing, we saw another door leading into the unknown. Perhaps beyond that door, we'll discover who has been conducting the experiments and resetting the traps we trigger. Perhaps they can even explain the mysterious runes and Azlanti writing.

XP: 2,515 total (2nd Level!)
Complete Quest: Sage’s Expedition (Aspexia - First Floor)
Get quests: None


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Lissa Guillet wrote:
Landon Winkler wrote:
It's a tuatara (they're in Bestiary 4 and New Zealand).
Best line ever. =) True facts: Crystal and I both dated kiwis before we started dating each other. New Zealanders are very passionate about their homeland so we both got a lot of conversations about places they liked to go and the tons of interesting creatures there.

I only got to spend a week there, but it's definitely an amazing country.

I knew Lord of the Rings was shot there, but am still blown away by how much it just is a fantasy kingdom. The colors are a bit brighter, the plants are faintly alien, and I'm pretty sure traveling between any two points requires passing through a mysterious forest and a treacherous mountain pass.

Seriously, I think it's a law there or something.

Crystal Frasier wrote:
Yeah, Shardra's familiar was either going to be a tuatara or a weta (google it).

Weta familiar would be awesome! And only slightly less terrifying than the giant isopod.

I'd totally also take a ground bat familiar.

Cheers!
Landon


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Detect Magic wrote:
Her familiar looks much bigger than "tiny". Looks like it could bite a chunk out of ya, unlike this little guy. Is this thing some sort of improved familiar?

It's a tuatara (they're in Bestiary 4 and New Zealand). I can't speak for Pathfinder tuatara, but the real things can get to be almost a meter/yard long.

They're also really, really cool. Among other things, they're largely unchanged from their ancestors 200 million years ago and they have a complete but scale-covered third eye on the top of their head.

On topic, some Maori tribes consider them guardians of knowledge. Pretty fitting for a Lore Shaman.

Cheers!
Landon


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Thanks for the great write-up Crystal.

I really appreciate how she's dwarven (stereotypically a very masculine race) and manages to remain unwaveringly dwarven throughout her arc. Also for making the central conflict of the story about her accomplishments rather than her gender.

Anyway, yeah, great story all around.

Also d'awwwww earth tuatara! So cute!

Cheers!
Landon


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There are definitely still people who buy into this stuff. We had a gamer in our group in college (early 2000s) who couldn't tell her parents she was playing D&D. But they also wouldn't eat devil's food cake... not joking.

Back in my hometown, the local game store owner got so many copies of Dark Dungeons, he started handing them out to his customers as gag gifts.

But my most personal experience with it was that my grandmother's church was still preaching that nonsense well into the 90s. But, despite being incredibly devout, my grandmother still trusted me enough to get me the Spelljammer boxed set for Christmas.

I never really managed to explain how much that meant to me, but it's one of my fondest memories of her.

Cheers!
Landon


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The reason I allowed it back in 2nd Edition was because it felt more like magic than wizards did. Nowhere outside of D&D-inspired worlds do you see the weird preparation cycle. But casting out of a pool of energy is a fairly standard trope.

It's less of an issue for me with sorcerers, and soon arcanists, but psionics still does a good job of representing the average fantasy caster.

So for us it's just flavor. I'd still allow someone to bring in a Dreamscarred Press psionics character into our Pathfinder game, but there are already so many characters they want to play it's unlikely to come up.

Cheers!
Landon


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Into Darkness (First Floor)

Today’s Cast:
Lyz was GMing and providing all our goblin voices.
Jessica, a new but extremely enthusiastic gamer from our Rise of the Runelords campaign, drew Ingra Goldbiter.
Jordan, Jessica’s boyfriend and a first time gamer, got Hal.
Sawako, a veteran of many campaigns who mostly likes to smash things, grabbed Djir of Scarwall.
I got Al, for all the heals.
Yoshie, a guest of Sawako’s, was spectating to see what this roleplaying thing is about.

We made our way into the Echo Wood, discussing our immediate reasons for heading to the Emerald Spire. Ingra believed something lurked under the visible tower, wanting to explore further. Hal and Al were both searching for clues related to lost wizards of the Golendfire Order. And Djir had learned there may be a stash of the skymetal noqual somewhere in the spire.

No one went into their deeper reasons for investigating the tower. Al, for his part, just assumed everyone was in it for the adventure.

Shadow of Destruction
The location of the Emerald Spire was by no means a secret, but none of us had expected it to be quite so obvious. Some terrible magic left ancient scars in the earth, leaving only part of a glassy citadel standing.

As Al collected shards of green glass for future study, Djir spotted a goblin sentry at the shadowy entrance of the structure.

Overruling Ingra’s suggestion that they just kill it, Hal and Djir formed a simple plan: they would sneak into range and Hal would charm the goblin. Then Djir, the only one capable of speaking Goblin, would use the leverage that gained to learn what it knew of the spire.

The plan went flawlessly, with one small exception: goblins know very little.

It was on guard duty, certainly. And there were “some" goblins inside. They were ruled by something named Grulk and the goblin was very excited about the Empire of Zog.

Eventually the goblin noticed Ingra making her way up the path and, confused by the excuse of “sightseeing,” he was cut down by the dwarf’s axe.

Shadows of the Tower
The tower was oppressively dark, a sort of physical weight that ate away at the light. Luckily, almost all of the explorers could see perfectly in the dark. Unfortunately, Al is always the exception.

After some experimentation with fey magics and burning goblin clothing, Al realized he wasn’t going to be seeing past the person in front of him. Sticking to Ingra, who seemed most likely to need his talents, they made their way into the glass structure.

Within the structure, they soon fell into a rhythm. They would find a door, Djir would listen to determine there was a goblin behind it, and then he would interrogate them by pretending to be an even dumber goblin until they’d burst out in an attempt to silence his foolishness.

Little was learned, but many goblins fell to Ingra’s axe. None of them had seen the noqual “wrong green,” no “longshanks” had passed through, and darkness was “always dark, is homey.” Mostly they seemed obsessed with when “food time” was and if we could bring them the “stinky cheese."

The most pitched battle occurred around a goblin gaming table, where Ingra held off five goblins while Hal and Djir dispatched them from range. Even Al got to show off his talents, keeping Ingra on her feet.

Clanky
The companions braced themselves for whatever horrors may await in the goblins’ kitchen, but found something they could not have expected… a small laboratory and a humanoid shape built from clockwork scraps.

“Djir, looks sort of like your gun,” Ingra noted.

Al was alarmed by the assessment. “Careful, it’ll explode!”

Ingra just shook her head. “Not <i>that</i> much like his gun.”

Soon, battle was joined, with the clockwork’s controller demonstrating some mastery of the arcane arts. Ingra squared off with the clockwork, while Djir and Hal focused their fire on the goblin spellcaster.

As the clockwork wound down, beginning to spark ominously in the darkness, the goblin cast a spell and split into two figures, each darting in one direction. Ingra caught one with her axe, causing both to drop to the ground.

“Heh. Looks like I guessed right,” she noted as Djir fired a shot into the automaton, causing it to explode into a hail of clockworks and scrap metal. Distracted by her the goblin’s flight, she took the brunt of the explosion.

Ingra was barely standing and obviously in need of healing, but the healer stopped to check the goblin first. When asked why, Al pointed out this goblin was probably the smartest one here.

Verifying the spellcaster was still alive, Djir and Ingra worked to bind him. Al, calling on Cayden’s powers of life and vigor, restored Ingra and the goblin to health.

You killed Clanky!
With Ingra’s massive bicep threatening to close off his windpipe, the goblin quickly calmed to an indignant huff.

Interrogating the goblin through Djir began on a depressingly similar set of notes. He hadn’t seen the noqual and no longshanks wizards had passed through.

Furthermore, he was quite upset about us killing Clanky. Apparently, Clanky originally came from somewhere deeper in the dungeon, after which the goblin repaired it.

However, he had more information on Grulk. Not only was Grulk “large, ugly, and hurty,” the goblin was also sick of his treatment. A quick bit of negotiations outlined how we could help each other:

  • He would lead us to Grulk and we’d kill him
  • He’d then take over the tribe
  • They’d let us pass through when we needed to
  • We’d bring pickles
Ingra wanted to leave him tied up so he couldn’t betray us. In some quick thinking on the part of Al and Djir, he was convinced to stay tied up so, if we failed to kill Grulk, he could pretend it wasn’t his fault.

“Ah! Is good idea."

Grulk
The goblin lead us to the first room with light in far too long. A spiral staircase wrapped around a glowing spike of unmarked green stone.

Not to be distracted, we made our way up to Grulk’s chambers. Unfortunately, the door was locked and beyond Djir’s ability to pick. Al called on his magic to create a booming voice “Ingra challenges you! Come forth and fight!”

“No.”

So we went for plan B, having Ingra chop down the door. A few strikes in, the door crumbled and we rushed forward to find a hulking bugbear against one wall. He took a shot at Ingra, seriously injuring her again, but quickly suffered an axe blow from Ingra, a pistol shot from Djir, and a dart of arcane energy from Hal.

The wall behind him swung open and he disappeared. Ingra charged after him, only catching herself on the edge of the tower after realizing the door lead out into thin air.

Despite a deadeye parting shot from Djir, Grulk floated to the ground and escaped, running over the surface of the structure and out into the clearing.

All Hail Skizzertz!
With the old boss out of the way, we realized we should find the name of the new boss. He introduced himself as Skizzertz.

We showed Skizzertz around, letting him lead us from goblin bedroom to goblin guardroom, making sure his tribe fell in line under his rule. Sadly, the fatalities earlier had curbed their numbers to only six, including Skizzertz himself.

However, they agreed that we would be let through on promise of pickles.

Behind the last guards, we found another set of stairs curving around the spire in the opposite direction. Ingra took an immediate interest in a rune carved on its otherwise unmarked surface, copying it down for future reference.

Al and Hal, on the other hand, were mostly interested in the sounds of moaning and shuffling echoing up the stairs. Skizzertz explained that a “bad longshanks” with “bad magic” was down there and the goblins didn’t head into the depths anymore.

Djir perked up. “Hey, it could be the guys you’re looking for!”

Al shook his head. “I don’t believe this is the type of magic the Goldenfire Order is known for."

He then suggested it might be time to return to Fort Inevitable and rest, returning when they were prepared to take on the walking dead.

It wasn’t until he was going to sleep that night he realized the clockwork had exploded.

Progress!
XP: 1,370 (630 to level 2)
Completed Quest: Reaching the Spire Dungeons (Ingra)
New Quests: Transport Tools (Ingra), Clockwork Scourge (Djir)

Shared Characters:
Obviously only one session in, but this has worked very well so far. There wasn't any of the usual first-session awkwardness.

Partially that was because Lyz started us sort of in media res. We started basically at the spire, rather than gathering plot hooks. But having well-defined characters to jump into definitely also helped.

Our new player jumped right in, no problem. He'll definitely be back as availability allows.


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Additions:
I've found the Shattered Star Map Pack strongly cross-applies to Rise of the Runelords. One of the maps covers all of Varisia in a player-friendly spoiler-free manner. Another gives a detailed breakdown of Magnimar. The third is Kaer Maga, but you can't win 'em all :)

On a strange note: Issue #1 of the Pathfinder comic has a great little section on Sandpoint. I'd strongly recommend it for Rise of the Runelords.

Second Darkness I'd use Varisia: Birthplace of Legends, Into the Darklands, and possibly Elves of Golarion. The elves book is very early and, as I recall, not completely accurate.

Magnimar: City of Monuments is also great for Shattered Star. (Edit: looks like you added this.) There's also an old module called Seven Swords of Sin that's set in Kaer Maga in the same level range you're there for Asylum Stone.

Wrath of the Righteous can use some information from Lost Kingdoms of Golarion. There's a whole section on Sarkoris, what is now the Worldwound.

Strays:
To the best of my knowledge, Castles of the Inner Sea doesn't tie in to any APs.

Some tangential information from Dungeons of Golarion shows up in Shattered Star (Beyond the Doomsday Door), but it's pretty minimal. It also has some Gallowspire information that might be helpful with Carrion Crown.

The only AP to use Distant Worlds thus far is Reign of Winter (in The Frozen Stars).

Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes will be useful with the Giantslayer path (after Iron Gods).

I don't believe the Taldor, Qadira, and Andoran books tie in with any particular paths. Early in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting line they released some to tie in with Pathfinder Society factions, which I believe included those three and the old Osirion book.

The Harrow was introduced for Curse of the Crimson Throne, but the Harrow Handbook is more of a stand-alone. If you were going to put it some place, I'd say CoCT, though.

Cheers!
Kinak


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People get really, really worked up about this stuff. Personally, I wouldn't try to change their minds. That way lies stupid drama.

If some of the players want to play it, I'd run it for them. Otherwise, I'd keep it in my back pocket until people have time to simmer down and your group needs a break from the usual stuff. They might easily come around.

As an example of that, look at the response to Rasputin Must Die. It was the end of the world when it was revealed and continued being a magnet for drama until it was released. Then people generally realized that it wasn't, in fact, the end of the world... and might actually be kind of cool.

Haladir wrote:

Actually, I think the vibe is more this link.

Of course, the blend of sci-fi and fantasy has a very long history in the genre.

And, of course, can't forget Blackmoor. The second ever D&D supplement, complete with a crashed space ship and stats for power armor.

So Iron Gods, but from 1976 :)

Cheers!
Landon


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Thanks Ashiel and Dudemeister! Keep up the good work :)

S'mon wrote:
@OP: I would contribute to a male-romantic-interest thread (Sir Jereth Rogare, Hellknight of the Nail, in my Curse of the Crimson Throne game was pretty cool, in a Judge Dredd/Robocop sort of way), only 'beefcake' is the male equivalent of female 'cheesecake', ie it's all about the visuals, and I can't get past the terrible thread title. If you weren't going for that, you should have chosen a better title. Sorry.

The title was chosen with tongue firmly in cheek, but there's obviously more to it than just a joke.

As a GM, part of introducing a romantic interest is describing that NPC in a way that the player (or hopefully their character) finds attractive. In my experience, physical appearance plays a major role in that, particularly in the jump from "friendly NPC" to "romantic NPC."

Call it shallow pandering if you like, but I know if I mention how well-muscled the guy they just rescued is, he'll get more romantic consideration from my players. Similarly if I show a piece of NPC art that's a given player's "type."

That said, I apologize for causing offense. I know I'm playing with fire here, so that's on me. I obviously won't ask you to participate in anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Cheers!
Landon


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At least it's not the ice level.


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Ashiel wrote:
I think it would be fun for us all to do a "build a beefcake" workshop. I'd contribute if you guys decide to do that.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Cheers!
Landon


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S'mon wrote:
Yeah, I add potential male & female romantic interests, and other PCs, to both the APs I'm running. In Curse of the Crimson Throne I added heroic Hellknight of the Nail Sir Jereth Rogare (the anonymous dude on the cover of Book 1), who has had a major part in rescuing a female PC from induction into the Gray Maidens, then solving the mystery of the Blood Veil and leading the assault on its source, before riding off into the dawn light with his comnrades in arms at the end of Book 2. In Rise of the Runelords new characters of mine include Alicia Scarnetti, Titus's glamorous & loose-moralled sister, who is about to be in a shotgun wedding with an equally promiscuous PC... :D

PC-PC romances can be good times :)

I actually only realized my players wanted romantic options in their game because of an involved PC-PC courtship. If that hadn't happened, I probably wouldn't have realized it until I ran Rise of the Runelords... and might have skipped the Shayliss encounter to my detriment.

In Rise of the Runelords, I added Telas Turtletamer, a gnome druid who helped wrangle the turtles in Turtleback Ferry. I also had a set of scenes on the Paradise, including a male half-elven prostitute... who stirred up plenty of sexual tension, but ended up being dropped like a bad habit once he wasn't in the way of their mission anymore.

S'mon wrote:
I'm sure I'd keep adding to the APs and making them my own whatever Paizo do. More canon romantic interest male NPCs would still be good, though. I guess it doesn't need to be 50-50, but at least 33-67 would be nice. :)

Absolutely agreed, although outlining for 50/50 is probably best. Even if Paizo nails it, the writer's and artist's cultural preconceptions will make that drift back towards US norms.

But my point is more that: for all the older adventure paths, the community is actually in a better position to add more love interests than Paizo, just by comparing notes like we do about balance and plot holes.

Cheers!
Landon


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It's Going to Take a While...
For what it's worth, we've got at least several months before the concerns raised in this thread can be implemented in print. And, even once they are, it'll take way longer for that change to be perceived by the players.

Heck, Erastil's misogyny is a great example. That's been acknowledged as an error for years and corrected in print back in April, but it'll take a long time for that information to get to everyone.

And even if they balanced everything perfectly in Iron Gods, which I'd think is the absolute earliest we might see any changes from this thread, there's still years of adventures.

Or Maybe Not...
But many of us on the board are GMs and this is something well within our power to fix. It's easy enough for them to add some male love interests in their home games.

So, if you've upgraded an Adventure Path that way, go to the subforum for that path and let people know. If you're running a path and are worried there aren't enough male love interests, ask the people there for help.

Paizo can fix Iron Gods or the AP after that. And we know it's on their radar now. But we can fix the other 13.5 adventure paths right now.

Cheers!
Landon


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Jessica Price wrote:
But I can attest that from the development and editorial side, that there's no "intentional strategy" to make sure the female characters are dressed revealingly. Quite the opposite, actually.

And it's really appreciated, at least by our group.

Perhaps more on point, the diversity is really appreciated. Because the men in our group pretend to be like Ezren, Kyra, and Sajan. And the women in our group pretend to be like Damiel, Feiya, Harsk, Seoni, and our new friend here.

Although having Seoni on things has made me a little uncomfortable before, I'm not going to be the one to tell people "No, you can't pretend to be an attractive woman in revealing garments! I can pretend to be a wizard, but you sexually desirable? Pshaw!"

So, thanks for the mix. Because sometimes the conservatively dressed woman speaks to me and other times... it's the cut, shirtless dude.

Cheers!
Landon

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