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Leonard Kriegler

Mark Hoover's page

5,428 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.


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I try to think logically for them. Not TOO logically; a lot about them doesn't make any sense. Plus, y'know... magic, dragons, fantasy? Still, some things I try to focus on:

- Longevity and power: dragons are like a fine wine; they only get better with age. I think dragons, like elves and other long-lived races should tend to look past right now. Some however I feel should be obsessed with history since they hoard stuff

- The ultimate hoarders: dragons, really impressive dragons should have tonnage. I'm not just talking money and magic swords. Consider if a human being with a tendency toward... collecting, had centuries ahead of them. Having an entire cave dedicated SOLELY to baseball cards wouldn't be out of the question

- Mating: let's face it; dragons get around. Half-dragons, sorcerers, younger true dragons, potentially kobolds, and then all the lesser dragons like drakes, tatzlwyrms and pseudodragons. These things have to come from SOMEWHERE. If you decide they ARE related to either Chromatic or Metallic dragons then unless they're experts at genetic engineering these creatures are finding SOME way to get it on with anything that isn't food at the moment.

All of this usually leads me to the inevitable conclusion that dragons have TONS of minions, spies and allies. Even the good ones. Think about it: even an egotistical black dragon heady with it's own power has got to admit that it's mortal and can be killed by a band of adventurers. Therefore, looking ahead to the future it's likely got some kind of survival plan and a way to dominate its environment through progeny, controlled reptiles, and piles of stuff in order to insulate itself from potential enemies.

I like to run dragons, even those of lesser intelligence, as schemers and clever manipulators. Take a simple, white dragon. It's not a chess-playing mastermind but it knows that survival is a long-term game and it's environment is resource-constrained. It mates with every herd and sentient creature it can; gross as that sounds it ensures that its own draconic virility affects its offspring and increases long-term replenishment of the altered species it creates. It might then pick out some weaker members of its own offspring; a mutant half-dragon elk or perhaps a sorcerous member of a barbarian tribe. If successful the white dragon can use these beings to bolster its own survival, all the while using it's own superior power, hoard and experience to keep the offspring in check and ultimately slay them to start over with a new batch.

Finally a note on hoards. Other posters on the boards have written about this but I think it's worth repeating: hoards don't need to JUST be money. You draconic villains and allies might hoard other physical things, like snow globes or shipwrecks. They may also hoard information: imagine a dragon with access to the internet. Its name would be Wikipedia. Still others might hoard minions. No two dragons should ever be truly identical.

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I'm coming in late to the party here but I have a question: what do YOU want, as a player and GM? Decide that and you're halfway there.

See, creating a campaign is less about setting, theme, storytelling, RP versus rolling dice and all of the other stuff you'll see on these boards and more about deciding things.

- What do you want?

- How do you make other people want the same?

- How do you align your wants with others; how to compromise?

Everything else is just semantics, numbers. Ultimately your game is your game - even if you run a canned AP like Rise of the Runelords it'll be YOUR interpretation. How do you make yours, YOURS? By deciding what you want from it.

For me, I want epic. I LIKE making folks laugh, think, and yes even once, cry. I want moments of player engagement. I want to get an email the next day saying "I can't BELIEVE we..." and so on. How I make that happen varies depending on my players, my mood, etc.

As for what goes INTO a campaign, that's easy. Start with encounters. Create a few and then remove all terrain, situation and plot. Look at the things that make THAT encounter unique. Maybe it's a trap and your specific approach to it; maybe you've got a kobold NPC you've really put your soul into.

Tap into that uniqueness. Try to imagine players meeting it for the first time. They'll want to roll initiative and just kill it, of course. What will stop them? Maybe the encounter can talk, has some resource that the PCs will destroy if they murder it, or it just plain runs away. NOW you have the basis of a campaign.

You see besides deciding what you want, the other thing that makes a game a "campaign" versus a series of adventures is longevity. I'm not JUST saying recurring villains here. Why is your favorite show still around? Because something happens EVERY episode that people don't get tired of. Maybe that's a TARDIS, a 67 Impala or the willingness to seek the next troubled western town. SOMETHING sticks around forever and the audience soaks it up.

Once you decide what you want, have some encounters and commit to some element/villain/theme which will continue throughout, stop. At this point you need your players.

From this point on: make stuff up. I mean crazy stuff. Blue tigers; wands that shoot cupcakes; zombies that never really drop. Make TONS of random tables. Daydream. Doodle constantly in the margins of every book you can get your hands on, so long as you're not breaking the law.

Get to know probability. Understand that not every encounter has to be a fight; not every fight needs to be won by either side. Accept that your PCs are GOING to get loot and grow stronger. Learn to live with being outsmarted.

If you're looking for something more specific, give more detail on what you need and I'd be happy to help.

The Downtime rules are an abstraction meant to give you Teams and Buildings that will grant bonuses to your Downtime actions. For example a Storefront grants a +5 bonus to the generation of any Capital the building already generates. What you seem to be looking for is a mechanic to create a "business" which does nothing more than occasionally sells expensive stuff so you can get more money for it.

Step 1: buy a cart

You don't need fancy mechanics or a business. Most market stalls are nothing more than temporary structures like tents, carts or a wagons. If you buy yourself a simple cart and drag it around with you there's always a stall you can sell your wares from. It has the advantage of being portable so you can take it with you anywhere throughout the campaign.

Step 2: put ranks in Diplomacy

There is an alternate use for this skill called Bargaining. First you successfully appraise the item you have to sell. Once appraised you hook buyer. Finally you set an asking price, bargain back and forth, find an over/under price the buyer's willing to pay, and shake on the deal. The actual rules for Bargaining can be found here.

On a final note, try not to overthink this. If you want to be a merchant as well as an adventurer, tell your GM. The two of you can hash this stuff out and if you want to make a formal business out of it use the Downtime rules.

There's a teamwork feat that grants an ally the +2 attack bonus when you charge. Take a build that shares teamwork feats between you and your mount. Every time it charges you gain the attack bonus as well.

Yes, cantrips and orisons can be cast over and over again for infinity. However you've only got 3, maybe 4 of them you can pick. So for example you might pick Dancing Lights, Ray of Frost and Resistance. You can keep casting 1d3 Cold damage over and over again all day.

You cannot however swap through all of your cantrips/orisons infinitely and just cast any of them over and over unless you're a non-prepared caster.

As for the whole Create Water/end deserts thing, there are tons of arguments for and against this. Bottom line: in Golarion there are deserts. In PFS there are deserts. I suppose that means that that infinite Create Water doesn't work to destroy deserts in the default setting, but it could in yours.

At the end of the day they're 0-level. Say that out loud. ZERO level. They are meant to be so weak that they don't even rate a positive number for their level. One of them even says it has no practical use in combat (Prestidigitation). Rather than try to figure how to break the world on the back of a single cantrip, perhaps there are better uses for such strategic minds.

To Orafmay's point: this is a game. It's an escape from reality for a few hours to roll some dice, hang with friends and chill. If the players are INTO the kind of stuff you're describing Josh, then cool but a lot of players just want a game.

If the players are up for it then whatever device you use the players should be engaged. Puzzles, Maze spells or whatever, they should be active participants. Another good way to grab them is to weave their characters' stories or history into the artifact in some way.

So I settled on the build above but changed the points around a bit for 14 Wis and 13 Cha. I'm now level 2 with the archetype Divine Commander. I get no blessings but I do get a mount. I have a wolf with the Bodyguard archetype.

The problem I'm running into is that throughout level 1 I have only 2 spells, cruddy attack bonuses and weak feats. I was barely able to make a 1/4 contribution to combat (be able to hit 50% of the time and deal 4 damage on an average hit). Basically I've devolved into the healbot.

How can I straddle the dual roles of staying competitive with ranged attacks (be able to hit at least half the time and deal 1/4 of the damage of the average to the average monsters of my level) while ALSO being somewhat useful with my meager spells.

I now have Fervor but I confess I'm completely at a loss of how to use it.

Emerald Spire starts in the small town of Fort Inevitable. Of course the PCs could spend their entire campaign exploring the Spire, but with a bit of creativity they could also befriend a power group in the town and go on missions for them never setting foot in the place.

Well, retrospectives are a good way to end things. I see this working one of 2 ways:

1. This guy's super annoying and steps on people. What if those people come back to haunt him? Now, at this most crucial time all his old sins catch up with him. Ghosts, taunting words distracting his concentration, even real manifestations of folks he's left behind. He relives his most memorable beats and proves once and for all how much better than all of them he is.

2. He's visited by his past, but not the bad stuff. Show him the few good things; a loving mother, a kindly mentor, or whatever. Now, when he can easily screw his party continuing the cycle of jerkiness remind him that he can rise above selfishness and do something for others. Then give him a choice. Maybe one of the BBEG's minions knows a secret way out, but just the dwarf can go or whatever. Now it hinges on him: step on people one last time and escape certain death, or sacrifice himself for his party.

Either way a reminder of his past is always good.

I appreciate you posting all of this PD Samila. I just purchased the Emerald Spire hardcover and plan to run it for my group, but I'm having trouble making up a way to intro the first 2 quests.

I suppose I could just have them come through Daggermark and give them a traveling merchant who just tells them the general info about the town and the power struggles, but I thought that might be anti-climactic. I also don't feel right just saying "to start, you have these quests that you'll get extra xp for..."

I like your idea of not even giving them the info until after they're in the fort though. My players are well-versed enough in Golarion to know who the Hellknights are, so I supposed I could assume their PCs have some general knowledge. Once they get to the fort they could see Hellknights in action at the gate, on the streets or even on the roads around the fort.

As for the Seven Foxes they would be a myth, a tavern rumor like in your game. I suppose some individual NPC could advise the PCs in character to make "Friends in the Fort."

I'm level 1, game starts tomorrow. So far in the party the only PCs I know for sure are an inquisitor and an arcanist. Here's the build I'm going with so far:

Str 12 (14 -2 racial)
Dex 18 (16 +2 racial)
Con 12
Int 10
Wis 13
Cha 12 (10 +2 racial)

B1 Weapon Focus: Sling
L1 Point Blank Shot

I'm debating whether or not to take the Divine Commander archetype which trades out blessings and feats for an Animal Companion, Teamwork feats with the ability to hand them out to allies and a Celestial template bump for the AC at 6th level. I also am looking for advice on the stats/feats. Any advice would be helpful.

Dearest Pan,

You and I have crossed paths on this board and I've PM'd you in case you ever want to game in RL. I think this would be a hoot. If you concur, feel free to get in touch. I'm posting here since you're in this thread a bit.

FYI, if you want me to stop cyber-stalking you just let me know. As you can tell from my other current threads I'm pretty thick-headed. Hope all's well and the jalapeno beer works out.

Oh, and Summit continues to be my fave rave.

No I think A-lost and CQ both make good points. I admit I can come off as a judgmental a-bomb sometimes and delivery is key. I try to be as non-aggressive and helpful as possible when making comments like this but I'm sure there are times when I fail that RL Diplomacy roll you know?

I'm trying. I'm trying to be a better player, I'm trying to be a better GM, I'm trying to do better in general. I'm not always good at it which is why I'm so self-deprecating. My only hope is that folks playing with me are so motivated.

The frustration arises with the player that ALWAYS makes spotlight characters but when their unique niche isn't useful in every game, they freak. Or how about the folks that proudly create their character in a vacuum not wanting anything to influence THEIR character, then when they show up they have glaring issues like no ranged attack or ill-chosen spells. Just that these players are in my games doesn't bother me.

Getting yelled at for trying to help does.

You guys are right, sometimes I'm a jerk. But sometimes I'm downright sheepish. Sometimes I'm just like "Hey, if you want a ranged weapon I have a sling and sling bullets..." and I get cut off mid-sentence by a comment about not telling someone how to play their character.

Then later when I suggest we have a common goal to strive for in a sandbox game, like let's all pick one hex we want to explore or maybe we all have a common business or even our own pirate ship. Suddenly I'm being controlling. I don't mean to be and if I come off that way I always apologize sincerely. My goal is always just to improve things. Also I know how hard it is on the GM to have 5 players running 5 different ways, so I'm trying to make things easier too.

But I've run into folks over the years who take any feedback to their style, tactics or builds as a pointed finger no matter HOW I phrase it. I have a thick skin, but when the follow up is spiteful, about how this person WON'T adopt any suggested change just on principle... that's how this thread came up.

Yet again I'll say: its probably just me. As I've agreed now a few times, sometimes I'm just not smooth. I guess I'm falling into a trap a lot of my older gaming friends are now. We look back not just on the mechanics of our younger games, but on the feel of it and strive to recapture some of that. I miss camaraderie, heroism, and unity in the party. No, I'm not just talking about optimizing roles though there was a lot of that starting with 3e. But I'm also talking about creating a sense that though we were four individuals we were ALSO a team, and that was just as important.

Stealth is always viable, you just have to strategize for it. For example if you're playing a Halfling with the alternate racial traits Warslinger and Halfling Sniper you could be sniping at -10 every round and full attacking at later levels with your sling. The only down side is having Cover or Concealment every round to hide with.

Carry smokesticks. Take a race that gets 1/day spells and make sure one of them is Obscuring Mist or Darkness. Take the rogue talent for either the spell Blend mentioned above or if you can't get that, Obscuring Mist. Pump your UMD really high and get some wands w/the right spells.

There are a lot of ways these days to create a scenario for stealth, but that's only if you're out of options from the environment you're fighting in. Consider playing a grippli. Using the alternate racial traits Jumper and Glider plus their natural Climb speed of 20 you could be bouncing all around the battlefield, climbing into corners, hiding in rafters, whatever.

I don't know what everyone else's experience has been but it's rare when a fight takes place in a shorn field that's flat and open or perhaps a completely empty room that's well lit. More often than not you can find some rubble, or furniture, or trees and shrubs, or rocky outcrops, or sand dunes or SOMETHING to jump behind. This works even better when you are Small size and can tuck into wall niches, fissures, or just duck down into some tall grass.

Yeah, as far as everything I've ever read on familiars they don't advance like ACs or Cohorts or whatever when their HD or Level increases.

Their HP and BAB are static, dependent on the master. Similarly their saves advance only with their mistress. The only feat they get is the one they start with as base animals or outsiders or whatever. The only one you can really jack up is the homunculus which you can drop gold on constructing more powerfully.

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I'd hit that. Seriously, I've watched stuff on the subjects and read tons of blog posts specific to PF, so I'd likely read your stuff. I plan on dropping my own blog to post encounter ideas for PF games. It'll hopefully be a sort of rolling random encounter chart with tips and suggestions on how to work them into your game.

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I think I've just resolved this is a player thing. There's just always some player at my tables who doesn't seem to want to engage with the others. Its nothing against anyone in most cases. No one's trying to hurt anyone else's feelings. There's just one player usually (sometimes more than one; rarely none at all) who simply wants to sort of shine on their own.

Usually with these folks it's not about combat. They're more than willing to fill a "role." Like "we've got three melee types and a squishy arcane caster. I'll play a ranged cleric for divine spells and distance damage" or whatever. But then once that immediate need is filled their character is always sort of... off, doing their own thing.

The most frustrating common trait with these folks (at my tables anyway; your experiences are probably different than mine) is that if you offer any suggestions as to how they can engage with the group, optimize their tactics or get more use out of spells or whatever they are at the very least offended and at worst defensive. They don't want to be told how to play their character so how dare you?

If I'm being a tool at the table, I want someone to tell me. Other folks may not be so... open to feedback. But to me this is the essence of party unity and part and parcel to the using buffs and heals and tactics to support your fellows.

You need to be willing to be part of the group, and not just for the experience points. Some of this involvement will be rewards and accolades; some of it may be critiques and feedback. I feel like all players should be willing to accept the good with the bad.

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Honestly the part of the trailer I liked more than anything was Ma Kent saying "You don't owe them ANYTHING." Every version of Superman always portrays Ma and Pa Kent as these moral, upstanding farmers with real middle America values and such - basically a trope in and of themselves.

But imagine: your baby boy has all these powers, sure, but now the WHOLE world wants a piece of him. He's a threat to everyone, which means that big ol' "S" on his chest is nothing more than a target. Your baby boy is the most wanted man on the planet with everyone gunning for him.

I don't think I'd bake my son a pie and say "you have a purpose boy; now go get 'em!"

Now I know after that line she tells him to be a god or a savior or whatever they need him to be and all that but in that one line I imagine Martha Kent looking up at her baby boy and what she's really saying is "I don't WANT you to go and be a hero. Stay home. Be safe. YOU DON'T OWE THEM ANYTHING!"

No parent should ever have to shoulder the burden of their child constantly and knowingly placing themselves in harm's way. No parent should ever have to bury a child. I can't even begin to imagine the fear that Martha Kent has endured every waking moment of her life since she found that darling baby boy.

So no Clark. You don't owe them ANYTHING. Your mama loves you. She wants you safe, and alive, and to be her boy forever.

But that's yet another reason why we love this character isn't it? Because despite all he stands to lose and all he leaves behind, he CHOOSES to rise up and be a hero.

Batman has only Alfred and was honed by guilt and fear. Wonder Woman was born and bred a warrior. But Clark Kent has to look up, out of a cornfield in Kansas and see his loving parents and his high school sweetheart and this idyllic life he has, and then he has to CHOOSE to leave.

How many of us would leave paradise by choice to go and do something right for others?

So Martha Kent I feel your pain, your anguish. Hold your boy just a bit longer. Make him know that he's loved. But when he's made his choice just remember: he's no super BOY. He has to make his own way now.

Everyone with kids should listen to Ma Kent's words in the trailer just one more time and think what you would do.

199. Smells terrific (bonus points if you actually bring in some aromatherapy oils as illustration)

200. Seems obsessed with crystals and their powers

201. Brings every discussion back to food

202. Carries a big ledger around and takes notes on everything

203. Slurs through one side of the mouth

204. Pickles their enemies

205. Constantly associates with children

206. Is a hypochondriac

207. Bleeds from the eyes when nervous/excited

208. Always asks the PCs "how does that make you feel?" as if psycho-analyzing them

209. Speaks in exaggerated sarcasm. Example: "Oh, I REALLY want to be YOUR friend..."

210. Refers to everything happening at present as if it is the past

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Meh... I've seen better today.

Part of this is probably my fault. I'm REALLY lazy about hunting down threads re: the stuff I want to know. If I'm researching, say, a good Bodyguard build. I'll go into the messageboard search function, type "bodyguard builds," search through the first page of result threads and if I don't find what I want there, I just post the request in Advice. Were their hundreds more threads? Probably, but I'm too much of a slacker to go hunt them down.

Sorry folks. I don't mean to waste anyone's time. I'm probably just being selfish. Sorry.

The CR system is based on 4 PCs, not one. One fighter versus one giant might be a fair fight, it might not; I haven't done the math. But I DO know that based on the averages four PCs are expected to be able to work together to bring that giant down with a minimum of resources expended if their Average Party Level is equal to the giant's.

Put another way, let's look at the Beastiary for average monster stats. Looking at the chart a CR 4 creature has 40 HP, around a 17 AC, a high attack of +8 and deals on average about 16 pts with said high attack. This means if I want to build an effective damage dealer for level 4 I need to be able to hit AC 17 more than half the time and inflict about 10 damage in a round in order to successfully contribute to ending this monster.

Of course there are other ways to contribute. Save or suck, buffing your friends, Aid Another etc. However The above are the basic, numeric assumptions of CR 4.

Now this CR stuff was all written as a cut-and-paste from 3x and updated to the Pathfinder Core Rules. That being said, if I made a level 4 fighter with only Core feats, no traits, a 15 point buy (which I think is assumed in most APs and is kind of the default for "average" heroes) and only core spells, I'd end up with a fighter using 5, maybe 6 feats at this level. Power Attack, Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Dodge, Mobility and Spring Attack for example. This means my core fighter attacking a core monster with only core gear, feats and abilities can deal roughly a +1 greatsword +8 (2d6 +15) damage, or a DPR of about 13 or 14 pts of damage in a round.

The core fighter is keeping pace with the monsters based on averages in CR.

Now I haven't calculated every level but I think this stays pretty consistent at least through 6th level which is where I stopped analyzing. When you start factoring non-core classes, feats, gear, traits, spells, etc. the CR mechanic can get really bizarre. Probably after 6th level too it gets kooky.

This is why most of the posters in this thread say CR is useful, but on in so much as it gives a baseline.

From my pontification on the idea of party unity, I think what I've articulated is:

1. for my own experiences, this probably boils down to a gamer issue, not a game issue

2. It also is probably just me

3. PCs in my games never seem to have a reason to be adventuring together or any common goals once they do (other than the obvious plot devices I hand out) which for some reason bugs me

Now part of this may be me as the GM. The one thing I like about the Paizo APs is that each one of them has a player's guide, a general theme the players know ahead of time and some even have a mechanic or event that ties the party together right off the bat.

I have 2 current games; one is a sandboxy kind of megadungeon game meant to be a beer-and-pretzels game, but the other was a full-on campaign. I still have a non-linear style to it but there's definitely things going on that require heroes.

In the full-on campaign I followed the AP style. I didn't do a full player's guide but I made a hand-drawn map of the town and area, made up a stat block for the town, and emailed out all common knowledge of the area weeks before the game started. I also made up an organization - an adventurer's guild to which the PCs all belong in the first adventure. They can choose to leave the guild after their first mission but so far they haven't.

I noticed something: among all that detail (the map, town write up, info on the region, the adventurer's guild, etc) the only thing I got questions/feedback on was the guild. The players showed up to the table and everyone had forgotten most of the background I'd sent but they knew the NPC they were working for, the rules of the guild and their place in it all. They looked forward to completing their first mission and getting the reward promised.

This shared goal instantly unified everyone and galvanized their play. Sure, they all had individual PCs: one's a druid and orphan with no other motivation than adventure, one's a swamp druid looking to gain vengeance on a Lamashtan cult; one's a drunken barbarian looking to perfect a bunch of beer recipes from her homeland, one's an elf wizard (Spirit Binder) looking to maintain the spark of his dead wife living on in his familiar, and finally one's a hunter with a dream of writing a definitive beastiary on the new wilds to the south. But for all their differences these 5 PCs were all motivated to work together and support one another from the beginning.

This is what I've been missing, at least at my own tables. Going forward I'm going to strive to work with the players from the beginning. I won't always force a story-driven unifier on them but I will at least try to interweave their disparate PCs together for a commonality between them on which to build.

Oh, and Pan: check your PMs.

If your wand weighs 1 lb, don't waste any actions at all. Use your Tiny sized familiar you always forget about to use it's own actions. Either a double move to retrieve and then manipulate it into your hand or if you have a Valet familiar use a Standard for Prestidigitation and a Move for it to do a little show like a stage magician so that Presto-Chango, the wand is in your hand in a puff of smoke!

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I haven't had any issues with it. Granted all my games are homebrewed and I haven't gotten a campaign above 6th level so YRMV but it's a good baseline.

That's all I've used it for though: a baseline.

In this thread the astute Alexander Augunas links to a document about creating interesting encounters. In that he throws out an interesting idea: create an experience budget of what your PCs can handle individually and then "buy" monsters based on the exp budget.

For example if you have a group of 5 PCs, all level 2, first start with APL 2. Generally the APL and CR mechanics assume a party of 4 PCs, so if you've got APL 2, that means four level 2 PCs can handle a CR 2 monster between them as an Average threat. A CR 2 is worth 600 xp, so 1 level 2 PC can handle about 150 xp worth of monster individually.

So with a party of 5 PCs, all level 2, this means you've got an xp budget of 150 xp x 5 PCs, for a total of 750 experience. So you could drop, say, 4 kobold warrior 2 (540 xp) accompanied by a kobold adept 3 (200 xp) and the fight should waste about 20% of the party's resources.

This allows you to use CR as a guideline to help you calculate your budgets, but at the same time you're not bound to it religiously. With CR helping to set the budget in the background you get a more accurate read on what your players can handle and you can build specific to the party.

So I guess what I've been seeing in my games can be summed up as individualism. I wouldn't call it selfishness; if I implied it I'm sorry. For example the player I'm referencing in the OP is usually a divine caster and is more than willing to share their healing magic, sometimes even in combat.

But like a lot of posters in this thread when I was growing up there was no HeroLab or even a point buy system so all of our campaigns started with a character gen session. More than that though there was this overriding thought of the group first. We'd have ideas like "wouldn't it be cool if we were all brothers/cousins" or "What if we were all fighters" and such.

In starting this latest game it just so happened that I made a grippli, another guy was thinking about a lizardman and a third guy was tinkering with a tengu so we suggested "what if we were all monstrous types?" The GM poo-pooed it and the player in the OP said they didn't want to get tied into a pre-set plan for their character.

What ended up happening was that the guy with the tengu got shot down on two different characters and dropped out altogether. I switched to a human and now that we're playing together our characters are kind of tripping over each other.

with a lot of games now I've seen this thing where like one PC is on a personal vendetta, another is questing for spells, a third is looking to loot a bandit lord that screwed him over, etc. I try to weave these background elements into one another but all the while the PCs are played like a group of individuals, independent instead of interdependent.

I don't know, maybe its just me. I miss making big plans with the other characters, chatting with my fellow players about what their characters can do and figuring out how to maximize not only strategy in fights but just how our guys fit together.

Bwang hits on a good point: the environment is only as fun for the players as it is interactive. If its just an excuse for you as the GM to shut down charging lanes, or worse it ONLY hinders the PCs, then it's just a mechanic; a number to tack on when figuring your attacks.

If however you have lots of Small sized boulders, rolled and stacked by kobolds to form cover, suddenly the players have choices. The low overhang overhead makes the space inside the wall for the kobolds a Small space; if you want to go over the wall or stand on it, you're squeezing. But note: the rocks are just loosely rolled or stacked in place.

Grab some and throw 'em at the bad guys; smash them aside to ruin the cover; when the kobolds dart through an open cave entry nearby wedge 'em in place to close it up.

I tell my players all the time: trees can get climbed, flowing water can be your best friend; you can even make a Charge attack by swinging on ropes, vines or chandeliers! Just TRY some of it! The more interactive the players get in the fights, the more fun it is for everyone.

There's lots of ways to optimize your PCs these days. While you can't ever MASTER all the ways with a single PC there are a few key choices that mean that, by about 6th level you can solo many fights and lucky hits and bad initiative rolls are all that stand between you and glory.

So do you consider the party when making your character? Do you consider the rest of the PCs when determining your strategy or the development of your character?

I was in an email discussion with a fellow player today and one of their comments amounted to: we shouldn't have to huddle before every fight or buff ourselves outside every door.

I thought: why not? I'm not saying so extreme that we're buffing for EVERY fight, but why not huddle, plan, and make decisions on spells to take, strategies to employ etc based on the whole group? When we're actually in play this gamer tends to act independently from the rest of the party but that's fine since they're decent at optimizing and can usually survive each battle unless luck is against them which is something out of their control anyway.

I don't know, it just got me thinking: is the prevailing thought now about the individual characters instead of the group now? And please don't ONLY answer with "it depends on the GM/campaign" because EVERYTHING depends on those things. Independent of the GM or the particular game they're running, is party unity a thing of the past?

I'm with a poster on page 1. If I want a quick forest or similar Difficult Terrain I grab some stuff I have laying around. Dice, leggos, miniature terrain blocks, even just wadded up pieces of paper. For water and flat green space I have a few pieces of scrap felt.

D6's are great when using minis, especially for climbable terrain. Drop a green or brown one to represent, say, a tree. Player: My grippli ranger climbs 5' and attacks with his battle axe 1 handed, to get Higher Ground! GM: Cool, put your mini on top of the D6 and flip it to the number "1" under your mini. This means you're 1 square, or 5' up in the tree.

Its not Difficult Terrain or Concealment/Cover that I forget to use in the environmental rules, it's the hazards. Did you know that moving through the woods PCs might hit poison oak, shriekers or poisoned nettles? In the swamps there's quicksand; I don't usually use deserts but mountains have rockslides, hills could have mudslides, etc.

And then there's hot and cold, rain, fog and wind. Want to cheese off those super-archer-ballista-bow types? Throw in some strong wind and rain: low visibility and -2 on all their shots. But there's TONS of rules to keep straight. If you've got your PCs in a forest at night with a misting, drizzling rain and they'll be misearable. Cover, concealment, Dim Light, Difficult Terrain, and everything those entail.

Finally one last push for using terrain on your table. Our hobby involves books, notebooks, dice, pencils and pens. If you're really strapped for cash but you're using these and minis for fight scenes, improvise. Stack books for hills; tear out paper and crumple it for rocks; use pencils/pens laid next to one another to make fallen logs; dice for trees; and then get yourself some string or a laser pointer. Suddenly you've got a fully interactional, 3d environment that your minis can climb, cross and scale to simulate almost any terrain!

Just make sure to check your weight restrictions. The disk only holds 100 lbs/level so you don't want to overload it and shut it down.

Get creative with cantrips and low-level spells. An animated teapot which can't attack but it can use Create Water and Spark to set itself to boiling. As an added bonus it can generate a cloud of steam 1/day; not an attack but rather it functions as an Obscuring Mist centering the burst from the construct.

These low-level animated objects are great for 1/day low-level spell uses. They're flavorful, they have minor use in a fight if you're desperate and they are just all around fun. As far as masterwork tools, what about:

- An animate stage: a 5' long walking stage which can serve as a mount, a quick up for Higher Ground or, y'know, a stage to perform on. For bonuses give it arms, twine and pulleys for a curtain or dancing lights for special effects

- Animate puppets: they're fun, flavorful and creepy, plus they can serve as Unseen Servants

- A clockwork grinding wheel: functions like a whetstone, casts Mending on any bladed object sharpened on it and has legs so it can clank around on its own

- The any-door-opener: an animate crowbar-armed clanker that grants Aid Another to any attempt to open stuck or held doors

Pretty much any Craft, Perform or Profession skill can have a masterwork tool associated with it with a few exceptions. Just give them legs, a vaguely monstrous or humanoid appearance, and imagine what it might do that DOESN'T involve combat.

PS: don't forget to keep lots of wands of Mending or Make Whole around. Better yet, make a homunculus that looks like an angel, flies, and casts the spells for you. It gives the clanker a kiss and POOF! in a few minutes the thing is fixing itself!

Dave Justus wrote:
All my castle maps are evil aligned. Sorry.

You stole my joke but its still hilarious

Do you still apply the penalty if the villain is only threatened by allied PCs with Reach? Yes the villain is threatened but no one is directly adjacent so is there still a penalty for firing into melee?

449. The lid on the lye pit has been pried off and a freak wind is blowing the caustic dust everywhere

450. A single-sail longboat is seen rowing into port, the great dragon's head carved on the prow glowing menacingly. A yipping chant calls out the oars. On board are the kobold Vikings; all white-scaled kobolds from the ancient north

451. A tattered old carpetbag has been left laying unattended in an alleyway. Upon closer inspection you spy flickering lights from somewhere inside and catch a faint whiff of the sea even as the distant sounds of waves whisper through the thread-bare handles

452. An old woman is throwing rotten fruit at a young lad, all the while admonishing a pretty young girl behind her for "wasting your powers on such a worthless sod!"

453. A thrush in a nearby window boasts "Birch bark scrolls and cheap alchemy!"

454. a trio, 2 men and a lady covered in soot and carrying wire-bristled brooms come climbing down the masonry of a nearby row-house

455. A clever street vendor with a thick, waxed moustache grins broadly as he snaps his fingers over a sheet filled with dough balls; before your eyes each ball in turn flattens then coils itself into a pretzel even as the man sweeps over then with coarse salt. Another snap sends the sheet floating of its own accord into the oven of his cart even as another sheet is produced, filled with steaming hot pretzels

456. Two middle aged women hang clothes on lines while gossiping about their neighbors

457. A sudden rain bursts, sending almost everyone from the street with the exception of a ragged beggar. He is dressed in tatters and doesn't appear to have bathed in days. His scraggly hair however is bound in ribbons of what appears to be seaweed. "Thank you my lord; you are a gracious lady!" he shouts up into the storm even as he produces a simple wooden cup with a shell for a lid and opens it to fill it with rain water

458. A cart prattles down the street at a steady pace; behind it a young lad garishly dressed and riding some kind of wood plank fitted with caster wheels trails behind by holding the kick step on the back

459. Three young women with jangling costumes and cymbals on their fingers gyrate rhythmically even as a pair of minstrels with stringed instruments play the tune they dance to; a small bowl is filling rapidly with the copper of the predominantly male audience

460. Two young toughs chase a woman into a nearby alleyway, laughing lasciviously with daggers drawn; screaming in a female voice can be heard

LivingDedBoy wrote:

1.)Yes that is right

2.)No, since it is being intentionally dropped or pushed its still a ranged touch since it is being aimed in some fashion.

If the wall were to crumble without aid of you or your owl, say the target stumbled into the wall and shook it enough to cause the rock to fall then if he is aware of it he gets a dc 15 ref save or it auto-hits.

Got it. Thanks all!

Dave Justus wrote:

"Dropping an object on a creature requires a ranged touch attack. Such attacks generally have a range increment of 20 feet. If an object falls on a creature (instead of being thrown), that creature can make a DC 15 Reflex save to halve the damage if he is aware of the object."


1. The owl drops the rock from 30' and must make a Ranged Touch versus the foe at -2 for the first range increment


2. The owl flies the rock up to balance it precariously upon a crumbling battlement 30' overhead. Next round he pushes it off and the stone merely drops; the foe below must make a DC 15 Ref save but is otherwise auto-hit with at least SOME damage

Do I have these two right?

I'm asking about a rock because I'm planning what happens when I'm out of alchemical items. One effective combo with a wizard and a flying familiar is common flasks of oil, filled with wicks, and the Spark cantrip. Have the familiar target a foe within 30' with the wizard using a readied action to Spark the wick when the oil flask hits. If it does hit it ignites dealing 1d4 damage to said foe and uses up their Move action putting themselves out.

This thread is about a rock because I've already got rulings from my GM on a few other things like alchemical items or oil flasks. I just wanted to know what the RAW was on this so I have a leg to stand on, should the situation arise.

As for the "sack o'" whatever, be it acid flasks or just 5 lb stones unless the item's effect happens WHEN it's component pieces are spilt (like a bag of caltrops) my GM has already ruled that you're using the bag, sack, net or whatever as the weapon and whatever's inside that is just a component of how to figure the damage. A sack of splash weapons might do a few points of splash to everyone in the splash zone, up to a maximum of 5; a bag of rocks would do damage like dropping a stone; a bag FULL of oil would still only be as effective as a single oil flask, and so on.

So by RAW:

1. the owl can only lift up to Light encumbrance and still fly, which means with an Enlarge Person and an Ant Haul spell running can only lift up to 86 lbs. The owl is Str 12; per Ant Haul for a Medium creature Light load is 129 lbs. or less, so 2/3 for a Small creature is 86 lbs or less.

2. if carrying a 6" block of stone to a height of 30' and dropping it he inflicts 2d6 damage, Ref save DC 15 for half

Do I have this right?

2 things:

1. I don't WANT a mauler. The PC is a dedicated scroll caster/buffer headed for a Cypher Mage PrC with a minor in item creation. As such I went with a Valet to speed item creation. However since I've got a familiar, the right buff spells and sometimes I'd like to have my valet familiar do something OTHER than clean me with Prestidigitation once/hour, I figured I'd lock down exactly what we CAN do if the situation arises.

2. If I've already got Enlarge Person running on my familiar and the situation is dire enough that I need to put him in harm's way I could either pull this rock drop for 2d6 (save for half) or I could risk him making attacks in melee for 1d6 +1 damage. I suppose it'll depend on the RAW of this rock drop, my GM's interpretation of it and the seeming defense of the foe.

Next game session I'm bringing in a wizard with an owl familiar. Said familiar will spend most of its time enlarged, buffed with Mage Armor and helping out once in a while in combat. I did however want to figure what would happen in the following scenario:

My enlarged familiar and I are facing an opponent in an open air ruin. Chunks of masonry, some of which are Medium sized and weigh a couple hundred pounds, lay strewn about. I hit my familiar earlier in the day with Ant Haul and currently he's not carrying anything.

1. Can a Small sized flying familiar with a max carrying capacity of 260 lbs grab hold and fly with one of these chunks of masonry?

2. Assuming a yes to #1, what is the rule for dropping it on a foe and how much damage will it do?

Thanks in advance!

J to the Max - greetings and salutations bro-dawg! Welcome to the world of PF and Tabletop RPGs! You're already well on the way - ready to improv with some proven skill already, versed in combat basics and learning right alongside your players.

One thing that jumped out at me in your OP was the comment about when your players run out of spells and such. There's a few ways to deal with diminishing resources:

1. Let the party rest: during rest the world around them should react to their presence. Monsters can re-supply and reinforce; animals sensing their presence get skittish and the wilderness gets that much darker; folks back in Falcon's Hollow (if they go all the way back there) show signs of getting sicker and more desperate.

2. Add in extra treasure: say they get jumped by a certain guy and his pet dragon in the woods; maybe modify the gear they have or drop a not-so-well-hidden cache in the bole of a nearby tree. Inside said treasure, give them the consumables they'll need; Alchemist's Flasks or Acid, scrolls with helpful Arcane or Divine spells on them, maybe even a wand that only has 3 or 4 charges of a decent 2nd level spell like Bull's Strength or False Life.

3. Improvise resources: remember that shocker lizard heart? Say the PCs are getting desperate; they've had 2 tough fights, expended lots of spells and they're miles from town. They stumble upon some way to use the heart. Maybe they meet some fey creature who smells the heart on them and is willing to trade a potion for it; maybe they find a tree recently struck by lightning and just then the heart begins to beat - it absorbs the residual energy in the tree and can now be used like a lightning-based splash weapon; maybe they just conveniently find a recipe that includes Shocker Lizard Heart and eating the dish imparts Resist Electricity 5 for 1 hour.

Some examples I've used for my own game have been:

- a font infused with Positive energy that delivers healing 1/day but the water has no effect if carried from the pool.

- spontaneous openings to a pocket dimension; inside the PCs are challenged to games of skill and chance by barbarians - each time they win they heal or regain some spell slots or something

- an outsider called a Lyrakian meets the party outside a dungeon. As written she has the power to remove the Fatigued condition. I empowered her so that she could provide 8 hours of rest in 1 hours time. She challenged the party to a storytelling contest that lasted 1 hour. During this time the PCs had the chance to out-orate the little fey-like outsider. If they were successful they would win a night's rest. Since my players at the time included a bard it was a lot of fun and inevitably he pulled out all the stops and beat her opposed skill check so that, after an hour of telling stories they got up refreshed and renewed with a night's healing and all their spells replenished.

I'm really impressed with J squared! You're learning and willing to learn. You're also not afraid to make stuff up for your players' benefit and the benefit of the shared game. That's huge dude. Keep that up and your players will be hoisting you over their heads for years to come!

The hardest one to date? Well, I guess Rise of the Runelords. She's a bit older, set in her ways, and overly concerned with Sin. You'd think that'd make her more fun to date, but it doesn't... :)

Randarak wrote:
154. Is a master of crochet, and is always using downtime to make socks and cozies for equipment.

Used a variant of this for a warrior NPC. Her name was Granalvena and she took Craft: Basket Weaving. Gran' was a NG female tengu warrior 7 and her 7th level feat was Master Craftsman. Any time she approached the PCs with a job she was working on a container of some sort. She had wicker cozies for all of her weapons, wicker shoulder pads on her armor, a wicker heavy wooden shield, and of course a basket for a hat. Since she could make wondrous items with her skill the PCs commissioned a "basket of holding" from Gran' but the campaign ended.

All I had to do to act her out was pretend to be weaving something with my hands and the players knew exactly who they were talking to.

Set wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
God I love your stuff.


Mark Hoover wrote:
Set I freaking love your stuff, but I think my players would freaking revolt if I dropped it into my game, even if I warned them ahead of time. Imagine a Dark Folk cleric of Sang Invictis, a simple CR 3 fight (a Challenging to most groups of level 1 PCs in my game) that unleashed a wave of 2d6 damage as a Full Round action that inflicts 10 damage (50% more since he's using Channel Surge) plus 1 Bleed, opening dozens of terrifying wounds over everyone's body?

While I love me some Dark Folk, is there a reason you picked that particular race that I'm not seeing? Sang Invictus 'feels' more Orc or degenerate Serpentfolk/Cyclopes or Hobgoblin-y, to me, appealing to innately warlike / brutish races.

I pondered whether the bleed thing was too good, but reversing the standard Glory domain would give a +2 DC to the damaging negative energy channel (up there with the monster-only Ability Focus feat), and my original thought of bleed equal to the dice (instead of half the dice) just felt like it was way too much.

I kind of wanted to come up with something unique for each of these Archfiends, even if it was just in the line of a Trait or something, but then I laughed and got over it. The 10,000 eyes dude does kind of scream out for some mechanics related to the eye-totems and eye-eating rites, 'though.

Being not 100% in love with Obediences, I didn't bother with those either, although I did, with later entries, try to suggest some sacrificial preferences / rites of devotion common to the cults of these Archfiends.

Even if the mechanics might cause a player revolt, hopefully the concepts inspire some cool story ideas!

Oh no reason on the Dark Folk; it just sort of "popped in there" as a great paranormal psychologist with 3 mortgages once said.

Seriously though Set every once in a while I try my hand at re-skinning monsters or just changing their powers around; I re-do their feats and weapons to make them a bit more combat-ready for PCs and my players blow a gasket. Then I come in here and see the stuff you're creating... my players would cry.

Still I thank you. You hit that mark of providing inspiration. In fact thanks to some of the spells you created for sin magic I was able to make an encounter with a summoner focused on gluttony a little more fun in one of my games.

I think what I like more than anything is your ability to see the realism in the fantasy. By that I mean that a lot of folks just re-skin monsters or modify/create spells based on needed to deal more damage, fill a combat role, etc. You look at powers and abilities conceptually; "if a spellcaster was really OBSESSED with, say, Gluttony, what spells would he make to express that obsession, combat-worthy or not?"

Thanks for that.

captain yesterday wrote:
memorax wrote:
Andrew Betts wrote:

Yep good reason for kicking a GM.
I think it's the other way around. No one likes gaming with players with a player with poor hygiene. I get sometimes that coming from work it's unavoidable. After a point I'm willing to tell both a player and/or DM to wash up before coming to a session. Even if it means being late.
stuff like this makes me glad I have almost no sense of smell, unless you come directly from shoveling s!&! I won't notice :-)

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!! *puts on hip waders and grabs soiled shovel*

Set I freaking love your stuff, but I think my players would freaking revolt if I dropped it into my game, even if I warned them ahead of time. Imagine a Dark Folk cleric of Sang Invictis, a simple CR 3 fight (a Challenging to most groups of level 1 PCs in my game) that unleashed a wave of 2d6 damage as a Full Round action that inflicts 10 damage (50% more since he's using Channel Surge) plus 1 Bleed, opening dozens of terrifying wounds over everyone's body?

And that's just the opening gambit?

Yeah, I'd get "killer GM" slapped on me faster than a quickling on speed.

My favorite metamagic combo is:

1. Have an Arcane Reservoir from the Arcanist class
2. Spend 1 Pt from the Reservoir to get +1 Caster Level
3. Cast the enhanced level spell into a scroll (you'll pay more but it'll be worth it)
4. Have the feat Cypher Magic; cast from the leveled up scroll for another +1 Caster Level bump

For the expenditure of gold over higher slots and a Move action to grab the scroll instead of slower casting time you've just gotten a spell Heightened 2 levels. Need an extra Magic Missile? Have to drop a couple more d6's on your Lightning Bolt? Extend the duration on a buff just a bit? This is a nice way to do it.

My Exploiter Wizard spellcaster, if she lives and the campaign continues to 5th level, will be taking Potent Magic as her next exploit meaning she can get a +2 Caster Level boost in part 2 above. Added to the fact that her familiar has Familiar Focus as a feat this means that, by level 5 she can create a CL 7 scroll of Mage Armor, cast it on her familiar, and have it last 9 hours. That's fun right?

439. You spot a cart selling a stinking fruit that smells so foul crows are circling. Soon after spying it the guard arrives to make an arrest, holding their noses.

440. As you pass an alleyway you spot the corpse of an old man you'd seen begging in the square the night before. (For the GM - there's nothing nefarious; the old man was homeless and this settlement has no social policies in place for this sort of thing. He died of exposure after a tough night on the streets)

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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
436. A short bugbear with bulging eyes and blue fur is rampaging through a bakery.

Is he singing? If so, is it something about the letter "C?"

I'm in the process of putting the finishing touches on a level 1 wizard. Her combat style? She's putting everything on her familiar.

Its not even an optimized familiar.

She's a wizard with the Exploiter Wizard archetype so she can up Caster Levels. She's also got Cypher Magic to up caster levels with scrolls. Her familiar is an owl with the Valet archetype and the Familiar Focus feat. So...

1. spend 50 GP to craft a scroll with Enlarge Person while using Arcane Reservoir to up the Caster Level by 1
2. use the scroll on my familiar casting with Cypher Magic (+1 Caster Level)
3. Familiar Focus pumps the spell up 1 CL to level 4; my owl has Str 12 and Dex 15 for 4 minutes (the typical duration of clearing about 4 rooms in a dungeon)

As we level... that's right... I'm going to get either Evolved Familiar feats or Teamwork feats. What's that you say? When am I going to dip into Fighter for 2 levels, give the familiar all my combat feats and then go Eldritch Knight? I'm NOT! I'm going to go all Wizard though I may go Cyphermage for some of the fancy lore in that PrC.

I'm going to make a bunch of magic items and scrolls, I'm going to buff myself and my familiar to try and make us tanks, and then I'm going to use Teamwork feats and my traits that pump my Aid Another contributions to +4 to make sure that my familiar can hit.

Is it efficient or not? I don't know. Have I made it work yet? No, but once I get her on the table and figure it out, you'll all be the first to know!

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Mending. Later, Make Whole and later still, Fabricate. I'm going to tack that onto Knowledge: Engineering. All those dungeons, ruins and broken tombs we explore? They're all going to be fixed up and they'll all be mine.

Seriously. Just Mending alone means at 1st level every piece of broken ammo we can find is fixed. By 3rd level I'm repairing daggers and Small sized light weapons. Since I have an Exploiter Wizard and Cypher Magic I write scrolls that I cast 2nd level scrolls into and then cast at 3rd level. By 3rd level if I've got the cash I'm going to be casting 5th level scroll spells of Mending to fix light shields, weapons and small furniture.

Then comes Make Whole. It gets the same treatment if we have enough downtime. Suddenly walls begin to come back into shape. Our first adventure we found a ruined stone cottage; that's going to be my first base of operations. I'm going to take the time to set up a restoration business, re-sell all these old weapons and pieces of gear from adventures that I can recover and use the gold to fuel the scrolls. Said scrolls and spells will rebuild the cottage along with hired help.

Once that's done I intend to build a network of locales. Anytime we find some old ruin or broken building I'm fixing it up, making it better and getting it warded with mundane (transplanted padlocks recovered with Mending, perhaps minor traps) and then magic (Arcane Lock, Alarm, Sepia Snake Sigil, etc) means.

Ambrus wrote:
Lilith Knight wrote:
Threeshades wrote:
Ambrus wrote:
Threeshades wrote:
What power?
The power of voodoo!
Who do?
You do!
Do what?

Remind me of the babe!

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