No ultimatums. We talk it out, explaining the logic behind the decision. Of course, we also set expectations before playing, so situations like the OP describe don't happen very often.
In the case of my games, everyone knows that once an encounter is over, it's over. There are no "go backs." If an adjustment is found during combat, I'll typically allow it. Once the encounter's over, though, no retconning.
I guess most here don't want to hear it but people who kill a pc for a wish are bad GMs.
...or played 1E/2E AD&D and remember what curses Wishes really could be.
Judge not lest ye be judged.
Here's a few ideas for you:
Flatulence. Perfectly timed flatulence. Goblins should have this down to an artform.
When someone extends a hand for the goblin to shake, have him bite it instead. After he's pried off, he says something like: "Yuk. Needs salt." Repeat with every stranger your party meets.
Pick a domesticated animal. Have the goblin either be deathly afraid of it, or treat it as his favorite food. Running from or chasing after something as innocuous as a housecat can lead to some funny moments. Could be even funnier if the animal is the familiar/companion of a party member.
Do any of your other PCs have an animal companion? If so, give one to your goblin - a flea. Have him consult it for advice, and sometimes send it in to battle in his stead.
My current group is an 8 player party. The dynamic works for us, because we've all be together for a long time. I wouldn't recommend large groups for new GMs, or for groups that aren't very cohesive, though.
My first thought for you, though, is if the decision to exclude your late arrivals is bothering you enough that you're posting about it, you probably should let them in. I know it would drive me nuts if I knew some folks who wanted to join my game and I didn't at least try to let them in...
Bravo! Don, sounds like you're doing fine.
The key to GMing for experienced players is planning. You've played with these players before, so you should be familiar with their typical tactics. Take these into account when you design your major encounters, and you should have some memorable sessions!
I don't know the RAW answer, but we've always ruled that the user of the items determines which ones function, and which do not. It then requires a Standard Action to switch, if desired.
To take the OP's example, if I'm wearing the Bandolier and Blinkback Belt, I would indicate which one is active at the start of the session. If I want to switch, it will take a standard action to "activate" the new item and "deactivate" the current item. If I then obtain a Belt of Physical Perfection +6 and put that on, it would take me an additional Standard Action to activate it and deactivate the other item.
We've used this approach since 2E (no standard action at that time, but you had to sacrifice an attack in combat to switch), and have never had any issues.
EDIT: for clarity.
I completely understand the predicament you're in. My players do this all the time (or they try to, anyway).
The only thing you can do is have the events occur while they're gone, and adjust the adventure path accordingly. After doing this once, I would discuss with the players that this adventure path is on a strict timeline. This is not a typical Sandbox campaign and if they delay, there are consequences.
If your players were not aware of this up front, you may want to give them a mulligan - just this once, the timeline of events was delayed - but make sure they are aware it will not happen again.
As far as TPKs go, is this occuring due to player tactics, inadequate experience levels, or some other in game situation? If you can provide a reason your party keeps dying off, we can offer some advice to help keep your PCs alive...for a while, anyway...
To the OP:
I don't think you'll find a formula. You'll have to assess your players' abilities and equipment when designing your encounters on a case by case basis.
I've run low magic campaigns, and I typically throw EL/CR out the window when designing encounters.
I recommend the following options:
* Use slow progression. Fights will be more challenging, and you'll encounter fewer monsters with DRs and special attacks at levels below 6. It also provides more time for your players to develop tactics for handling your encounters.
* Provide alternative measures for overcoming DR/Magic. For example, in my low magic campaigns, silver weapons can bypass DR/Magic.
* Customize the magic items you place in your encounters. Make sure your players have what they need to continue on. I typically ask my players for one or two items they want their characters to have before we start the campaign, then I strategically place them as treasure as they advance in levels. This also helps me plan encounters since I can easily track the magic present in the party at any given time.
* Make Special and Alchemical Items easier to come by. These items, in essence, become the equivalent of magic items for the PCs. Being able to find Mithral Armor or Alchemical Silver weapons in most towns softens the blow of low magic campaigns. You may also consider creating additional items that mirror some of the more common magic items.
* When planning encounters, thoroughly review the creatures you wish to use and make sure they are challenging, but defeatable. If the party doesn't have the tools to defeat the creature, consider a different option.
* Focus more on plot points, intrigue, and traps at lower levels.
* Combat opponents should be mundane races (human, dwarf, elf, etc.) with character levels - especially at low levels. If magic is hard to come by, chance are the PCs opponents will more likely be mundane, rather than fantastic. Going this route also helps overcome some instances of DR concerns, and special attacks. It also makes the times the party DOES face a creature (such as an Undead) more special.
Hope this helps! I've always had great success with low magic campaigns, even in Pathfinder. As long as you pay attention to your PCs' abilities and your players' tactics during encounter design, you should be fine.
Cackle is not the same a laugh.
cack·le/ˈkæk əl/ Spelled [kak-uh l] verb, cack·led, cack·ling, noun.
Why shouldn't the Paladin code be vague? Isn't that the point? Shouldn't there be room for interpretation by the Player and GM of each game? After all, wouldn't a Paladin of a Lawful Good Deity behave differently than a Paladin of a Chaotic Good Deity? Going one further, wouldn't Paladins of different deities have different priorities and codes based on his/her deity's portfolio?
After all, if every Paladin had to abide by the exact set of rules, have the same personality, regardless of their patron deity, wouldn't they all act the same? This would mean that the Paladin class is the player's version of a railroady adventure - you can't act how you want to, you must play a certain way no matter what. Why would any player choose to play a Character Class that railroads him/her into playing it the same way each time?
This "One True Paladin" debate has gone on for years and years, causing lots of disagreements and aggravation. Moreso than it deserves. However, I've never experienced it first-hand in any of my 30+ years (dear Lord, was 1978 that long ago?) of gaming. Many players (including myself) have played Paladins. In each case, the Paladin had subtle differences in behavior and his/her interpretation of the Paladin code. Never once did it cause an issue at the game table, as the DM/GM always went with the player's character concept and made it work.
Variety is the spice of life! Methinks thou dost protest too much.
Viva la Paladins! (and their diverse interpretations of codes).
2 quick points for those who assert no noise is needed or whispering is an option for Cackle:
1. The ability description clearly states that the witch can "cackle madly" to use it. How do you "cackle madly" without making a sound? By definition, a cackle indicates that you make a sound. Adding the adjective "madly" to it, implies a noticeable sound.
2. Have you ever tried to laugh quietly? OK, now try to "cackle madly" in a whisper. It can't be done.
Sometimes, common sense has to come to the forefront for these rules. Nitpicking over word choices in the rules isn't always productive.
My colleagues have done a great job of giving advice on 2E. I think the big key to it is to remember that 2E's strength was always in the storytelling, not necessarily the die-rolling. The rules were somewhat cumbersome, so hand-waving was very common.
Pax Veritas gave some great advice early on that alludes to this - it's about being in the moment and keeping your players' interested in the story/adventure you are telling, and paying less attention to the gear/rules.
Some basic suggestions:
1. Magic is RARE. Magic shops are almost unheard of. Even healing potions are hard to come by. Most magic (85+%) is found, not bought. And NO ONE could make them. Players often had to adjust their tactics based on the gear they found while adventuring. Try to tailor the magic items placed in your adventures to your party's needs.
2. Combat is lethal. Sometimes, running away is the only strategy. Bring back Save or Die spells. Make some encounters more dangerous than others. Ignore CR/EL and create encounters that are interesting based on the PCs' abilities and/or the players' interests. Use unwinnable encounters to foreshadow future storylines.
3. Embrace dialogue! Have your encounters parlay with the PCs rather than simply attack on sight. NPCs should act based on PC actions, not a roll of the dice. Role play the encounters. Only use Diplomacy/Intimidate/Knowledge (Local)/Sense Motive/Bluff and other social skills as a last resort. Players should be encouraged to develop a personality for their characters. Recurring NPCs will become acquainted with each personality and respond to it appropriately.
4. Set the stage. Use your imagination to describe each encounter, each room, each environment so your players respond to it. The environment should feel vibrant to the players.
5. Improvise! If your players take you down a path you didn't anticipate, go with the flow. Use your quick wits to adapt to your players needs. Maybe that red herring is more fun than the encounter you had planned. Be ready to roll with it.
6. Elminate rules that slow down the game. Many rules in 2E were handwaved because they slowed things down. Weapon Speed, Encumbrance, and Spell Components were typically handwaved in the games I played (to some degree, they still are). Don't be afraid to resolve an issue with a single roll of the dice. If you get too bogged down with looking up rules, you may lose the interest of your players. Get a feel for your players' priorities, and do the same for your Pathfinder game.
Overall, if you want an "old school feel" to your game, just play the game. If you and your players focus on the fluff, the crunch will take care of itself.
Slowly turn him into a Hobgoblin. This'll improve his CON +2 (and DEX +2), making the wish seem to be exactly what the PC wanted - and more! Unfortunately, it will also remove any other racial bonuses, skill points, etc. the character may have had from being his original race.
His CON is increased, and the Demon turns him into a Chaotic Humanoid that will be attacked on sight in any civilized area.
Chaotic Evil. Killing slave owners on sight is both chaotic and evil.
Good characters would ask for extenuating circumstances, explanations, and provide a chance for explanation rather than immediately killing on sight.
Lawful characters would attempt to bring the slave owners to justice, punish within the laws of the land (or his/her own moral code), and seek an explanation rather than immediately killing on sight.
Neutral characters would weigh the pros and cons of killing the individual before doing so, or letting him/her live.
Honestly, anyone who kills someone of a type on sight is Chaotic Evil to me.
Here's a twist: When/if the PC ever dies, have him reincarnate rather than "heal." His soul does not go to the Boneyard, but his physical form changes each time. Sort of the the DC Comics character, Resurrection Man.
So, based on the assumption that True Seeing is not restricted to sight and the entity with True Seeing sees through all illusions, this means that if an entity has permanent True Seeing (like some Demons/Devils/Celestials/Gods), he/she/it would not be able to dream. Since dreams are not real, True Seeing would negate them. As there are many campaign supplements and modules that mention the dreams of these beings in them, I doubt very much True Seeing works in this way.
Further, using the Mind Blank assertion that it counters all Divination spells: Is a being with Mind Blank invisible to someone with True Seeing, since physical appearance is technically "information about" you? Or, does someone with True Seeing see you as you really are when you stand in front of them, since the spell allows you to see things as they really are? Seems to me, based on MPL's logic, if you had someone with True Seeing in the same room with someone with Mind Blank, you'd create some kind of magical paradox.
This is all too complicated for the purposes of playing a game. I'm going with the basics:
* True Seeing sees through sight-based illusions and effects, per its description. Nothing more, nothing less.
Yes. Per the description, it discharges as soon as it successfully strikes a creature. You do not have the option of holding the charge. In your example, the undead would be bathed in negative energy, effectively healing it.
No. The weapon desctiption specifically limits the options to positive and negative energy.
Your heroes are only as good as their villain counterparts make them. so how can I make a truly great villain?
Third Mind is on to something. Authority figures make great villains - and they don't even have to be truly evil! I ran a campaign (almost 10 years ago now) where the Mayor of the town (I don't even remember the town's name anymore) was always on the PCs' case - they couldn't blow their nose without getting a fine or being arrested for some minor law. Not a true BBEG, but a real stickler for law and order and always trying to pin stuff on the PCs. My players still bring up "The Mayor" to this day.
As a Charter Subscriber, I'm proud to say that I've enjoyed the ride through Paizo's growing pains! I've never been disappointed by my monthly shipment. Good stuff all around. If I had to do it all again, I would in a heartbeat!
On the other hand, as a wife of a Charter Subscriber, my wife believes I've joined some kind of cult...
We always split the gold/gems evenly among the party. Magic Items are typically distributed based on who can get the best use of the item. This has worked very well for us, as we almost never have two players with PCs of the same class. It's very rare that we have any issues over the division of treasure.
Some things to consider:
Is the creature intelligent? If so, it may stop once the PC is down, recognizing it is no longer a threat. If not, it may finish all of its attacks, then decide the next course of action.
Why is the creature attacking the PC? If it's hungry, it'll finish the attacks, then eat the PC. If it's defending itself, it may stop when the PC is down so it can flee. If it sees the PC as a clear threat, it may attack until the PC is dead (and maybe take a trophy). If it's attacking because the PC did something to anger it, it may continue attacking long after the PC is dead.
Motivation is everything. I don't think there is a clear-cut answer to this question. The GM has to determine the creature's actions on a case by case basis. If the GM determines the creature will kill the PC, then it will keep attacking. If the GM determines the creature will stop, it will stop. There is no right or wrong answer.