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Leonard Kriegler

Mark Hoover's page

5,372 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.


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Right. I know it all depends on the GM. Everything depends on the GM. I'm trying to get a gauge of how most GM's do it, based on your actual characters' experiences.

For example in my current game I've told the players its a very generic Pathfinder-type world even though my setting is a homebrew. This means I'm running things right out of the core books and one of them even has Scribe Scroll. So far (2 levels and 7 game sessions) the players are solely relying on item drops and not using crafting or the ability to purchase from the local church.

In this instance the players either forgot about their ability to make scrolls or just don't really want to. Same with purchasing their own stuff. They've said though that they're saving some loot to the side for big stuff like a cloak or maybe a magic weapon.

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Frankly I've always enjoyed simple, practical reasons for mazes and dungeons:

- a prison
- a defense
- a lair

Taking these 3 basic concepts you can go all over the place. For example, take Prison. Add, say, a hobgoblin warlord with bugbear wardens. Suddenly this place looks like the Saw movies. The hobgoblin is Lawful Evil and a strong believer in survival of the fittest; his bugbear minions are neutral evil and track foes by fear. The "prison" then is for dissidents to the hobgoblin warlord's rule. Those who survive are a fitting challenge to the master himself; those who fail either die in hideous traps or are afflicted with a palpable fear (even surviving one of the true death traps inflicts the Shaken condition of a set amount of time) that can then be smelled by the bugbears who pounce on their prey and consume them.

You can play this little game with many different monsters. Grab a Beastiary, turn to a random page, and find a creature capable of either building the place itself or appropriate to the setting. Then pick one of the 3 and go from there:

Monster: Imp/Type: a defense
The Speaker of Orcus: a cult dedicated to the demon lord of the undead, Orcus, summoned and bound a specific imp known as the Speaker of Orcus. This creature is literally the voice of the prince; his ability to Commune taps directly into Orcus' will. With this conduit of power the cult gleaned the creation secrets of some of the most fiendish undead imaginable and the high members were well on their way to immortality. The imp however demanded far more souls than most. The sheer volume of weekly sacrifices made the cult an instant target for destruction.

In response the Boneward was crafted. Miles of tunnels and corridors of ossuary with macabre purpose to confound and defeat any trespasser while the cult passed with impunity. Even better were the spells woven into the traps that caused hallucinations and weakened the minds of those entering. The way the Boneward was designed was to confuse mortals and cause them to commit acts of corruption and sin. At key points along the way these sinners could "Atone" by sacrificing themselves. The souls of the sinners then would be drawn through the labyrinth via dread necromancy to feed the Speaker of Orcus.

The maze's traps were so ingenious that they ensnared all of the lesser members of the cult itself. The highest members realized their folly and tried to escape the maze but were tricked by the Speaker. Abyssal fiends made short work of the masters and the Boneward was lost. The place was such a deathtrap that many heroes tried to navigate it in order to shut it down but they too were destroyed in its depths so the Boneward entrances were sealed and the place was left to rot.

It didn't die.

Now a century later a plague of undeath has been traced to the Boneward. The maze exists solely to protect one creature - The Speaker of Orcus. Some in the land once more desire its forbidden lore and would risk their minds and souls to have the power. Others have pledged themselves to the Speaker's destruction. It is believed that should the imp be found and slain, the Boneward can finally be destroyed.

This is a really fun thought experiment actually. Hopefully this is good inspiration.

Zelda Marie Lupescu wrote:
Ambrus wrote:

Interesting notion. When presented that way, my first thought is that it sounds like something beyond the ability of mere mortals to have constructed; like something built by one or more primordial gods...

Maybe the maze merely appears to mortals as a puzzle meant to be solved. In reality the true significance of the maze is beyond mortal comprehension. Perhaps it is an early "rough sketch" created by a primordial being before he/she/it finally settled on the final configuration of the universe he/she/it would later create. Or maybe the maze is a physical manifestation of that same primordial being's mind; reflecting its convoluted though processes as well as compartmentalizing its various memories and ideas into physical rooms, locked away in the depths of the maze. Walking the maze is akin to exploring the primordial being's mind.

Either way, the maze was never meant to be found and explored by mortals. At some point in the past however that primordial being's creations discovered the maze and began exploring it; maybe they were angelic/demonic servitors or mortal beings. Whoever they were, navigating the maze allowed them to unlock the hidden workings of the universe and so gain profound insight into the nature of reality. Some used that insight to grow in physical might, others to develop arcane magic, others still to uncovered the secret to eternal life (or undeath), while a few persevered and succeeded in ascending to true divinity. This is how the earliest dragons, wizards, undead and gods, respectively, came into being.

Explorers must be careful while inside the maze however for destroying or removing the things they find inside risks changing the primordial being's mind; which in turn could change the nature of reality outside the maze in unpredictable ways. For instance, what happens if you kill the idea of a creature you encounter within the maze? Does it's entire race disappear or somehow change outside in the real world? Or what happens if an explorer purposefully


Yes, ideas like this are freaking awesome. My only issue with moments of inspiration like this: Pathfinder is maybe not the best system for implementation. Pathfinder is a game of numbers - if a PC goes into a room which adds profound insight into the nature of the universe, what does that translate to in game terms? They fight some living nightmare, survive, and what... gain 1/day Augury? Get a permanent +2 to Wisdom? Grow a third eye which in turn grants a Divination spell and will grow in power as the campaign continues? Its hard to get a grand idea like the awesomeness of a primordial beings id as maze and translate that awesome through this system. Of course that's my opinion based on my weak GM skills; others may be able to pull this off and if so I bow to their incredible GMing!

Think about all the enchanted gear your PC has. How did you acquire the majority of it? Loot drops, crafting it or purchasing it from NPCs, or some other source?

@the Rue Morgue: do your female students swoon over you and write lewd messages on their eyelids so that when you make eye contact with them in class they blink slowly so you can read them? Do you ever recover artifacts and say they should be in a museum?

Seriously though, Mr 40 there inspires a thought: what do some of your favorite movie/TV/literature adventurers do in their spare time? Indiana Jones was a history professor; Buffy went to high school; the Starks prepared for winter (though I guess for them, that WAS the adventure).

On the other extreme though I've known players for whom the RP aspect of these games are secondary at best. Downtime for them was a non-event except when they needed to level or buy better gear. Once I asked one of these players what his dwarf fighter did while the other PCs busied themselves with a lot of charitable work for the town. He was staunch that his PC did nothing but wait outside the bar, despite the fact he knew it would take his party a week to return.

We got into a mini power struggle over it. In a moment of human weakness I got spiteful (I apologized later). I went through the downtime events, every once in a while calling for Con checks versus exhaustion from the dwarf. His PC was described as standing, motionless, where the party left him the week before.

The first couple of days he finished his own trail rations and was fine though the folks of the town began to wonder if something terrible was coming. Eventually he began suffering from exposure and sleep deprivation. Eventually he collapsed to the ground. Being a hero of the town people pitied him and left him crusts of bread, small cups of water and even a few coppers. When the party finally caught up to him he was taking hourly non-lethal damage, suffering from Filth Fever, his hair and beard were overgrown and he was extremely "soiled".

Yes, it was childish but I was incredulous. I gifted this PC a free skill rank for a craft or profession skill and this dwarf had pretty decent ability with brewing. He ended the previous game 80' from a bar. He couldn't have just said "I go in an work as their brewer" for a week?

I did make it up to him. In a later game part of the plot was a festival with games of endurance. His character was unanimously voted toughest in town and he chose to compete winning TONS of prizes, NPC boons and influence for his god-like Constitution.

Ok, here's how I know that pre-fight buffing is possible in our game:

Currently we have 3 PCs: a human bloodrager 1, a human fighter 1 and an asimar favored soul (3x class; hybrid of sorcerer and cleric) 1. We hear a strange noise in the trees of an orchard but fail our Perception checks. Our PCs stand there and debate for a few seconds and eventually charge in; roughly the equivalent of 2 rounds based on other actions we took. During that time I turned to the Favored Soul player and asked "are you going to cast anything? Virtue, Resistance, Guidance anything?"

The response::
What's the point?

We proceeded to get our heads handed to us. The monsters had an electric AoE attack; I missed the save by 1. After this session our GM said for as tough as the fights are we might want to each play a 2nd character. I'm going to bring in this half-elf after all and I'm going to BUFF the he!! out of this party. My GM is observing the rules of virtually every Paizo book. By RAW I have enough starting gold to outfit myself and still have THIRTY TWO scrolls to begin the game with.

Between Wizard spells and bonus spells for being a 1/2 elf I have Guidance, Resistance, Virtue, Mage Armor, Enlarge Person, Vanish, Obscuring Mist, Magic Weapon, Magic Fang, and Shield. I've got half an hour before the first battle that we know to expect, then a full 2 rounds before the actual first fight? Mage Armor, Enlarge Person, Magic Fang; I have 2 minutes of an owl with AC 18, x2 talon attacks +5 to hit with 1d6+2 damage each.

Its happening!

So if success is relative to the GM and the monsters, is it ALSO relative to your fellow teammates?

The Neal raises a valid point: how often to we really think about our character's motivation to go off on said "adventure?"

I have a fighter that just started a new campaign, name of Murdyk. Now I was having writer's block when I made him so I grabbed Ultimate Campaign and rolled up his major events. He is the son of a peasant family but his entire family is still alive. Murdyk is the oldest of three with a little brother and a kid sister.

Now in life events I ended up getting the following elements
- Major childhood event: mentor
- Fighter event: survival
- Moral Conflict: Betrayal
- subject: family member
- motivation: family
- resolution: sincere regret

What I ended up with was that my siblings and I were both adopted by the same mentor, an old dwarf ranger (I wanted to use Dwarf weapons but be human) who took us in when our father was in prison for debt. We were trained in survival and lived off the land for a few years but my kid sister chafed at the "indignity." Per my GM I had to spend a couple years in the military and my sister as well so the two of us were in the same unit. I saw her falling in with the wrong crowd so I betrayed her to the guard, trying to get her out of the life.

It backfired. When she came back out she was cold, distant. She finished out her time in the guard but I found out that, days before we were both to be discharged she'd planned to help heist a naval ship to become a pirate. I was torn with regret and knew that this would be far worse than before so I actually helped her escape.

Now my sister's disappeared but I've heard tales of "The Viridian Queen", a female pirate ravaging the islands where the campaign is taking place. I've come to the big island of Ierendi looking to track her down.

So between adventures I'm trying to track down my sister, Raina who has become a pirate captain. Why then would I take on the adventures that I do? Seriously, can you imagine actually being Murdyk?

The scene: Murdyk has tracked a clue on his sister to the Dockside Tavern in the town of Maroc in the Ierendi interior. Despite being miles inland there was talk that some of the Viridian Queen's last shanghaied crew members escaped and one of them may have come here. The young warrior is busily questioning the tavern patrons for any further info on the sailor's whereabouts

Murdyk - Please tell me, have you heard anything of the Viridian Queen or perhaps a sailor who fled her ship. He may have passed through this town.

NPC - No, but I've been having some trouble of my own: a couple of workers on my plantation have been killed and strung up in the trees by vines.

Murdyk - that's terrible, but what does that have to do with the pirate queen?

NPC - Well I was hoping you could help me solve the mystery

Murdyk - Isn't there a guard for this sort of thing? I hate to sound mercenary but I really must find the Viridian Queen unless... you said you OWN the plantation right? Perhaps you might have some influence in this town, maybe you can ask around for me if I help you?

NPC - oh no, mine is only a middling operation at best. I was just hoping I could pay you these 15 GP for a night's work.

Murdyk - ... Umm, I guess I should help, since folks are in danger, but what if I lose my only lead, that sailor...

I guess my point with the above is that if we DO want our PCs to have real lives and reasons they either have to be fluid enough to tie into many plot hooks or vague enough to get put on hold at a moment's notice.

Incidentally our GM has asked us to make second PCs for his game. I'm thinking of making a wizard whose only ambition outside adventuring and growing her knowledge and power is crafting items for use and sale. In short she's a crafter and business woman who also goes on adventures.

I get it; Pathfinder isn't ALL about combat. PCs can measure success in goals achieved, heroic moments, etc. However I'm thinking more mechanically tonight. When it DOES come to battle, how do you KNOW you're contributing?

Is it DPR? A level 1 Halfling fighter, well optimized for Str and Dex (as much as he can be in those stats) and wielding a masterwork sling he got from a trait can hit a Ranged masterwork +10 sling (1d3 +4) attack that deals an average 6 damage, or DPR versus a CR 1 creature (14 AC per the Beastiary) of about 5.1

Is THAT successful contribution? Is that any MORE valid than a skald starting her raging song for +2 Str, +2 Con and +1 Will versus -1 AC? What about if a Witch uses his Sleep hex to take out a foe? Is that character only successful when the hex succeeds?

I'm asking because I've been called on to run a 2nd character in a campaign that just started. The GM is... interpretive with even some of the core rules. The first game session our APL 3/4 party (3 level 1 PCs - a Bloodrager, a fighter and a divine caster version of a sorcerer called a Favored Soul) went toe to toe with CR 4, 5 and even a CR 6 fight.

The GM has promised to tone it down but now I'm re-thinking what I thought of as "successful." My fighter ended up being fairly useless, focused as he is on Quickdraw and Shield Focus on his way to becoming a switch-hitter sword-and-board type.

My own personal interpretation was always this:

I am successful if either I have a 50% or better chance of dealing 1/4 the HP of a monster of my CR or my actions contribute directly and intentionally to the success of the rest of the party (buff spells, Aid Another, debuffing the enemy or using save-or-suck tactics/abilities successfully).

Am I naïve, foolish or out of touch?

I haven't run many high level games. I will say however though that as a player in and a GM of more than a few level 1-6 level Pathfinder games I'd say the GM has at least an equal stake in character success in those games to the players.

The easiest way I can break it down to the folks in my own group is through numbers and mechanics.

4 level PCs need to be optimized enough to manage a villain in a fight. Said villain can be expected to have an average AC, HP total, and at least one good attack as per the Beastiary. I try to tell my players before the first session how closely I'll be sticking to that on most fights. If I know I'm going to make a really hard game I'll tell them to optimize for combat hardcore, give a few examples of creatures they might encounter in the first game and ask that they bring their A-game for combat tactics.

If on the other hand I'm just pulling base monsters out of the Beastiaries I'll throw a out a couple examples and tell the players to make up what they want.

The final touches are always mine to make, but I have an spoken contract with my players up front: I'm actively asking for character info, backstory and player feedback. I wouldn't ask if I wasn't going to use it. Whatever you provide then I'll consider when adding those last flourishes.

In other words If I'm planning a game that starts at sea, continues onto a desert island devoid of plant life and ends with a tight, twisting dungeon delve I'll pull a sidebar with the guy that wants to run a warhorse-mounted cavalier. Between the two of us we've got some re-writing to do.

In my opinion GMs should consider their players AND their PCs before running a given adventure, especially one they're making up. If you think the PCs are optimized for combat at APL 1 that doesn't AUTOMATICALLY entitle you to replace 3 goblins with, say, 3 spriggans on the fly.

All of the above being said, I will say that many players I have are very self-centered. By this I mean these players have a vision of what they want to play. Regardless of what I tell them about the pending campaign they still make the PC. I TOLD you it'd be a primarily megadungeon campaign with a lot of Downtime for crafting; why then do I have a party consisting of a horse-riding cavalier, a druid and a desert-focused ranger? Yes, they're really cool but still.

Bottom line: all parties, players and GM, need to be respectful of one another AND the shared narrative they're creating. They all have input so they all have an equal share in making it fun and engaging in the project. The game is a collaboration; everyone should be collaborating.

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The Green Tea Gamer wrote:

I wonder if this is the appropriate place to ask this, but is anyone else annoyed when they, as a GM, spend a lot of their personal time preparing for game day, and a player (or four) shows up having done absolutely, positively, diddly squat in the intervening time, especially if they gained enough exp for a level and were supposed to level up between sessions, or go shopping between sessions, or make a major decision between sessions, and now you have to wait while they get all that done during table time?

That annoys the living crap out of me, especially when I'm a GM, but even as a player, I look at the others like, "Dude, that guy works his butt off to let us have fun, and you can't even level up in a week's time, you lazy bastard? Oh, but you had time to post on Facebook about how you were out at the bar until 4am pumping drinks into a skank that walked out with another dude? I hate you."

My gamers just simply don't respond to "inbetween game" correspondence. Between sessions I ask about planning next adventures, making magic items, leveling, etc. No one replies and then we hit the table next and my players are like "wait... where were we?"

I've never punished them, but I have had the conversation telling them it annoys me. People get busy, especially at the age and responsibility level of my players. On the other hand they cry about not having wealth by level despite having free skill ranks in professions, Downtime lasting days to weeks at a time, and at least one of my current PCs has a free crafting feat (Scribe Scroll). I've even told them I'm using the Ultimate Campaign Downtime rules; crafting would be EVEN CHEAPER.

I don't punish them. I just keep running the lean game I was before. If they don't read my emails, get the cue to scribe a dozen scrolls, and then they run out of spells 4 rooms into the dungeon and have to flee complaining they got no loot again... that's not really my fault entirely.

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I like to play martial characters.

I have no problem with stores selling magic items.
I love combat and role play equally.

It's like a trifecta of scorn...

I apologize for coming to the party late but I just found this thread. AD: I concur with your viewpoints and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Also, I like Teamwork feats in PF. I like not only what they do, but I like that they MAKE the players work as a team.

RPGs are collaborative experiences, in my opinion. Why then do SO many of my players try to "win" but optimizing their characters so extremely that there's no fight they can't solo?

Finally... I freaking LOVE Downtime. LOVE it. I could spend entire game sessions building strongholds, making magic items, talking to NPCs etc. The games for me are NOT just a series of fights leading to an epic finish.

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22. More damage

23. The naïve hope that SOMEONE out there plays like you do

24. To get the chance to come out from behind the screens and play for a change

25. Taquitos

26. To split the bill a few more ways

27. Testing the theory that EVERYONE takes Improved Initiative

28. To try out new game systems

29. Playtesting

30. To self-destruct the current campaign, blame it on the new guy(s) and then get to the new stuff that you REALLY wanted to run all along...

captain yesterday wrote:
I haven't been a player since 1989... of course I didn't play for quite a few of those years, only getting back into it in the last 6 years or so :-)

Whoa but DUDE; you haven't been a player in 6 years at all? Don't you get burnout? How do you keep at it for all that time?

I'm with Pan on this one: it depends on the group. After 30+ years of being the default GM I tend to be very "engaged" as a player. That is, I know I like it when players take an active role in the game, have personal goals, use tactics in combat and try to make plot leaps or answer questions out loud. This is what I do then as a player.

This doesn't always go over well with some groups.

One game, as a player, we had a witch tied up in a cellar. My personal character was at another location. The GM seemed to be floundering with what to do about the witch when I rolled a Knowledge: Arcana roll with my guy at the other site. The GM asked why I was rolling and I said "well this is where we took out the witch. Wouldn't I know something about them if I made a roll? Don't witches usually come with familiars?"

The GM had forgotten the witch's imp familiar.

Suddenly a big smile comes over the guy's face and he turns to the 2 players whose PCs are in the cellar. What followed was a hard fight of these two, with no magic, trying desperately to locate an invisible assailant in a cluttered basement. I mentioned stuff to the GM about Tiny size versus Medium in cramped quarters, mentioned to the players how there's tons of dirt and soil to throw in the earthen floor, and generally made a nuisance of myself. Not surprisingly I was not asked back.

On the flipside it can be really rewarding. On a few occasions I've directed traffic in combat and helped folks really take advantage of terrain. Reminding fellow PCs with high Climb skills or a Climb speed that if they're standing on something while attacking they get a +1 in melee for higher ground goes a long way toward being the go to guy in fights.

I guess what it comes down to for me is that GMing is easier than playing. I know that sounds contradictory but here's what I mean. When I'm a player I only have control over my guy. I can suggest things that others can do to enhance the current encounter or scenario but this usually ends negatively for me - probably more of a crappy personality on my part than anything to do with gaming.

As a GM though, I'm free to create on the fly. If you make up a few encounters and some key info of where the plot starts and where you want it to eventually get to, you've got a game. Plug-and-play details and encounters as you go and let the players get there, all the while making up whatever you want to as you go.

Still in all, I like playing. It's not control thing; I'm not trying to be the leader or the alpha at the table or anything. At least, I don't THINK it is but a psychologist might tell me differently. Bottom line when I'm a player I like getting to be part of a team. That's the ONE thing I do miss when I'm GMing.

When you're a player you're one of a few set to the challenge of facing the entire gameworld together. There's a kinship between the PCs and some bit of that translates to the players themselves. It's lonely being a GM sometimes. My characters tend to be battlefield control arcane types, helpful halflings, or classic heal/buff/revitalize divine types. I LIKE aiding my team.

As a GM my "team" is all fictional: NPCs, the villain's organization, etc. Essentially I'm an army of one, all by myself, watching a few of my friends bond with each other over the shared experience of surviving tough fights, achieving goals or otherwise overcoming the odds.

TL/DR: bottom line, GMing is easy but lonely work. Being a player has it's rewards but there's a fine line between helpful teammate and annoyingly metagaming control-freak. In the end I'm usually the GM and I'd anticipate it'll probably stay that way.

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Several ways:

1. Settle all rolls with drinking contests
2. Use your origami skills and construct paper dice
3. Feats of strength
4. Guess a number
5. Rock, paper scissors
6. Carve dice from wood or bone
7. Open a wound and see how many drops of blood fall
8. Collect a number of paper wads and shoot baskets; the number shot you fail on is the number rolled

... or you can accept that should ALL of these circumstances come to pass simultaneously it probably means that none of you really wanted to game tonight anyway. In that case pack up your books and leave by whatever mode of transport brought you to this desolate locale.

Better yet, take the other gamers with you. Go out. See a local show; watch a movie together; grab some food, coffee or (age permitting) a drink and gripe about how the campaign REALLY went downhill when you stopped coordinating who brought the 1 set of communal dice to the run-down cabin in the woods where you all started meeting after that anonymous invite on suggested the place.

Y'know, that place in the middle of nowhere with no one around for miles, impossible to find civilization from in a reasonable amount of driving distance, that doesn't get Wi-Fi so you all stopped bringing devices, that sits at the edge of a cemetery, next to a haunted lake, run-down mine and abandoned amusement park? Come to think of it, this bar has an awful lot of lovely people with double sets of holes in their necks. Weird that the "core books" for this campaign were the Necronomicon, the Naturo Demonto and the Book of Shadows but whatever. Just down your drinks and get back to the cabin like that weird gypsy lady said outside.

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Thread Necro!!!

I love me some sandboxy type play. I think the hardest thing about running a sandbox game is motivating and engaging my players. The whole thing that makes it a "sandbox" for me personally is that the players drive the story forward with their decisions while the gameworld continues reacting in the background.

For example right now I have a game that has a main plot of exploring the wilds and finding out why dragons have returned. That's a huge and vague plot, not one you can just walk down in a straight line. As such the PCs have chosen to join and remain affiliated with an adventurer's guild.

The first couple of games there was a specific mission: find a locale in the wilds and clear it of kobolds and blight. Even this was too big to just railroad, so the players took a couple approaches. First they scouted the locale, found it, and tested the site's initial defenses. Barely surviving this recon they pulled back and hid in the wilds.

While hunting in the woods I arbitrarily rolled a wilderness locale: a shallow cave with dried blood on the entry. I was feeling saucy so I gave it an occult/horror feel but otherwise there was no encounter, just a site. The players seized on it and the next thing I knew there was a cult side plot.

I'd completely forgotten that one of the PCs had an evil cult in their backstory until the player reminded me in the moment. I ran with it, stole a village I'd written up for another game and situated the cult there. Wham-bam, we had a couple of adventures where the PCs saved this village from evil! Best of all it tied into the PC's backstory so the player was really dialed in.

When they finally got back after the kobolds they had a little extra loot from the village they'd saved. This ended up making a solid difference and the PCs were able to push through clearing the place out in 2 game sessions encompassing one long day of battle. They came back to town exhausted but victorious. Now they're off on a follow up plot from the cult thing tied into resolving the one PC's actual backstory.

I have written encounters and some plot, but basically the players are making choices (like missions from the guild or pursuing personal plots) and the world is just reacting. Fun times!

Something I say to my kids all the time: I can't MAKE you do X, but I can make you regret not doing it.

When dealing with my kids, "X" is something like homework, cleaning their room or taking out the trash the first time I ask. With your players you could just substitute not cheating.

Don't need an Improved Familiar if you're willing to spend a feat.

1. Alter Self: cast on familiar to make it into something with hands/speech

2. Evolved Familiar: Skilled (Use Magic Device): familiar now has +8 on UMD

I forget which ones, but some standard familiars have an 11 Cha to start. By level 3 when you get Alter Self you have hopefully spent 2 ranks on Use Magic Device. Those, plus the one feat, means your familiar has a +10 and can now use wands requiring a DC 20 check simply by taking 10.

Sure, you waste one round turning your familiar into a humanoid, but what is that against at least 3 minutes at a time basically doubling your actions after that one round? Personally this is the route I'm going with a crafter-type wizard. She has an Owl (Cha 6) so I'll need additional buffing to get it using wands but I figure it's worth it.

I tend to run my games for the players. I also generally homebrew and only put a ton of work into boss monsters and NPCs. This means the majority of the action in my games is mechanically generic, made interesting only by setting and tactical choices made by participants.

If a player wants to play a charming fighter, that's totally fine with me. So long as at 1st level he can reliably hit a 14 AC (he has a +4 or better to hit) and those hits can deal an average of 4 HP (average monster at CR 1 has 15 HP, so an average 4-person party needs every party member to deal about 4 HP each to bring it down) then he's a useful member of the group.

This is why at 1st level you can get away with a non-optimized wizard in my game. With the right familiar choices or spells and good use of scrolls you can easily have 2 combatants for the price of one and delivering upwards of 5.5 average damage right at 1st level and going up from there.

On the other hand though certain "non-optimal" choices tend to make your character stick out like a sore thumb. An animal-hating druid for example. While there's nothing inherent in the mechanical choice certain extreme departures from the class can lead to players doing everything they can to be the opposite of said class.

I find that players who make choices like this, like say a merman who wants to adventure on land and takes a spellcaster who constantly needs to use their spells to be a fish out of water, tend to center the game on themselves. I have an issue with selfish players in my games and I generally try to counsel players away from extreme game play or mechanical choices that detract from the rest of the group.

Of course, the same could be said for extreme optimizers...

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First and foremost: this thread is exactly why you always have a grippli in the party. 20' climb plus the racial traits Jumper and Glider. Now you have something that can take 10 on any climb or jump check, is always considered to have the 10' running start in a jump and can glide to add 5' horizontally to every 10' dropped, all without magic. Otherwise:

- Spells: Animate Rope, Fly, Summon Monster, Obscuring Mist, Enlarge Person, any Transmutation that achieves a Large or larger form, Long Arm for extra 5' reach specifically with arms, Levitate, Jump, Air Walk, or any Transmutation whose form grants wings/flight.

- Equipment: rope and grappling hook, Tanglefoot Bag, net, spiked chain, or any ranged weapon. I know ranged weapons weren't your thing, but as a GM I'd have allowed my players to attempt anchoring a rope into the creature by firing an arrow/bolt into him.

Finally if I were the GM, there's the Fastball Special as perfected by masters Nikolovich and Logan of Westchester County, NY, USA. Essentially your barbarian/bloodrager/fighter/strong guy grabs the guy with the highest CMB who is Medium sized or smaller and chucks him up at the creature. You're making a ranged touch with an Improvised weapon which is oversized, so -8 to the attack to begin with and then your range increments are 10' so a 20' throw would suffer a total of -10 before feats/buffs. Still if you hit then the CMB guy can use the throw as a Charge action to gain a +2 on the maneuver, either Drag or Reposition or a good old fashioned Grapple to attempt to get the villain where you need him to be.

A thought experiment: your Valet familiar is considered to have the same item creation feats as you right? It also has your skill ranks? What if you transform it into a form that can hold things and speak, then have it work on the items. You just need to cast the spells. Since it can work on said items while you're adventuring you could have the creature working by day while you battle evil, say in an extradimensional space like a haversack or something, then you add the appropriate spells at key junctures in the process.

Alternately if you've got downtime the two of you could be working back to back but on different projects. He's writing a scroll, you're brewing a potion; you're putting the finishing touches on a wand, she's hemming a magic cloak.

So I've modified things a bit and have crafted a feat selection through 20th level:


Combat/Crafter wizard build
Wizard (Universalist/Arcane Builder)
Traits Dangerously Curious, Helpful
Owl Familiar; Valet Archetype, Feat: Familiar Focus
Level 1 Distracting Charge, Exotic Weapon Proficency: Net
Level 3 Craft Wand, Evolved Familiar: Skilled (Use Magic Device)
Level 5 Craft Wondrous Item, Improved Spell Sharing
Level 7 Escape Route
Level 9 Outflank
Level 10 Craft Rod
Level 11 Overwhelm
Level 13 Pack Attack
Level 15 Idealize, Broken Wing Gambit
Level 17 Paired Opportunists
Level 19 Coordinated Reposition
Level 20 Craft Staff

So here's how the build shakes out: Rather than focus on a lot of things the familiar can do I'm solely focused on me and the owl as fighting partners. I'll take a lot of buff spells as well as spells that focus on debuffing enemies. I've also got a net through a bonus half-elf feat at 1st level to use as a low to mid level debuff.

With the Helpful trait the goal is to get to within melee and grant my familiar +3 to attack. Also from first level on I've got Distracting Charge so the familiar charges, I get +2 to attack; I move up with a net and a weapon hurling the net and entangling. This in turn improves my familiar's ability to hit and allows us both to move into flanking and ultimately with me adding an Aid Another bonus makes my familiar an accurate attacker.

After mid levels now we're playing off each other. With Escape Route we're moving around one another with impunity; with Outflank we're using Flanking and Aid Another to shore up a terrible BAB. Overwhelm won't always work but when it does we won't have to worry about positioning, we'll just Outflank all the big boys.

The nice thing is with the Evolved Familiar feat my little buddy will be able to UMD wands and scrolls of low levels. Between this and Improved Spell Sharing we can tag team the buffing pre-fight and finish off by assuming our most powerful forms and adding a Touch attack to my familiar for extra damage.

Of course I'll need plenty of HP, AC, items to bolster these and attacks, and finally lots of scrolls and wands to fill in the blanks. Spell choice will be vital. What do you all think?

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I do this all the time. I don't act out any of the personalities, but I lay out fight scenes and go through them. See I write all my own adventures for my homebrew so the normal process is:

1. I set up an adventure, following the basic guidlines of the CRB, Bestiaries, and the GM's Guide.

2. I add/tweak some encounters; re-skin monsters, add/change powers and feats, etc.

3. I play-test what I've made with a quartet of generic PCs. For the purpose of these tests the party is generally not as optimized as I know how to make them.

4. If the fights result in TPKs or the clues are impossible to find with standard die rolls, etc then I start watering it down; if I go through the fights a couple times and my generics barely break a sweat, I tinker a bit more.

Note: during these sessions anywhere possible I use averages. I assume 10's on skill checks, average damages and have everyone taking 10's on saves as well. If this yields a cake-walk for the PCs the first time through, then I use some die rolls. If it's STILL too easy, that's when the revisions happen.

It's not that I'm playing the game solo, but more along the lines of running simulations to see if my games work. This is how I figured out that swapping out a wyvern's sting for a tail slap and a breath weapon was devastating to what I'd consider an average level 4 party.

So to keep pace with the dozens of scrolls I'll need at 1st and 2nd level to make my familiar viable in combat until I get wands and Alter Self... I need to take a MONTH to scribe them?

Claxon wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Hogeyhead wrote:

So I'm playing in a AP (serpent skull) where we as a party have around 50-70% of the recommended wealth for level 10. We are decently powerful and the GM is having a tough time with the encounters finding that the team makes short work out of most fights, so I doubt we are going to get a boost, other than what is written in the campaign and the last several sessions have been rather dry in terms of loot, with the exception of a wand of enervation with 10 charges remaining, which I am loath to sell cause it's cool and buying a fully charged one would be impractical.

Although we are doing well and we are powerful, I feel the fact that in the entire party we have been for the most part neglecting the big 6 in favor of more interesting items will start to show.

How do you guys deal with below average wealth? Any tips for how to deal with it?

Average wealth is for a theoretically average campaign. By your own testimony, you're doing just fine, actually more than just fine with the gear level you have now. WBL is a theorectical tool, not an absolute rule written in stone. For that matter, so is the Big Six.

Agreed with X. By your own admission you're already strong enough that you're rolling over encounters. If I were your GM, I would have no incentive to give you more wealth or allow it. If you were to take crafting feats I would enforce the recommended bonus of 25% bonus wealth (by level) per crafting feat up to 50%. And, anything made for your companions would come out of that extra share.

This is about balance, you're already too strong by your own admission. And wealth by level is an idea of average balance, but not all AP's are equally challenging. And that can change based on party composition as well.

How do you deal with this situation? You don't. Do nothing. You're GM is already having trouble, no need to exacerbate the situation.

Sorry, I somehow skimmed over that part. If the op's party is capable of dealing with all current threats, there's no real reason to match WBL. I agree: do nothing.

If however the monsters/villains start scaling up in power level while your party resources remain somewhat stagnant, revisit this thread.

Ok then... the Ranger instead.

The point is crafting is the way to get up to WBL. Anyone in here play a wizard that didn't trade away Scribe Scroll? If so, when was the last time you actually made a scroll? Or made a scroll while adventuring?

Ok maybe it's not the folks in this thread but in my experience I have had multiple sets of players who never use their crafting skills and feats. Yeah; skills too.

Oh and I thought of another way out of this too: Appraise.

You go into a dungeon, say a ruined tower with tunnels below. Who lived there originally? Probably someone with money. Got access to Mending or better yet Make Whole? Start annoying your GM by using Appraise on everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Recover light fixtures, make rubbings of the wall reliefs, mend or make whole the furniture and haul it away. Make maps and artistic renderings and then sell them on your return to town. Scribe books about the adventure site and sell them as well.

Start a business; form a band; deliver professional lectures or pull some light banditry. There are a LOT of ways to get some extra cash if you get proactive.

Making your own gear, magic items, and earning cash from ventures even when you're not in town all deliver some of the resources you're missing. Heck just taking a couple ranks in Craft: Alchemy and making sacks of Acid Flasks every week saves you something!

Whatever the case, you can only create 1 item/day. That begs the question: how many spells can you actually fit on a scroll?

@DM Blake: I think I like your suggestion as it is the most elegant I can think of. I had kobolds sniping in a game; they took the feat Kobold Sniper so they had only a -10 penalty. They were behind a rock blind of low boulders attacking from roughly 60' with a total Stealth check before any situational modifiers of +11. So the order of actions should've gone like this:

Round 1 for the kobolds: currently in stealth; PCs have failed Perception checks. Standard - x3 arrows fired; Move - 5' steps combined with Stealth checks suffering a -10 Penalty

A couple ranged attacking PCs this round declare readied actions. The other PCs try getting closer to the kobolds and the round is over.

Round 2
- Kobolds: Standard - x3 arrows fired
- PC 1 and 2: Readied - free Perception; if successful ranged attack against kobolds in Cover
- Kobolds: Move - 5' steps combined with Stealth checks suffering a -10 penalty

I tried keeping it this simple but the order of operations got all messed up and eventually the kobolds got sloppy, stopped sniping and just ranged attacked from Cover. They weren't hitting anymore (not attacking Flat Footed foes) but the PCs couldn't hit them (wiht cover they were rocking a 19 AC) so eventually the barbarian forded the stream between them, charged up the beach raging and smashed through the blind, hacking the kobolds to pieces.

I think I like the above order better than the chaos I had in my game!

So I know the most combat-intense familiar archetype is the Mauler. However I have an idea of crafting a half-elf character that uses her familiar as a second set of eyes since she's giving up Keen Senses for something else. As a result I'm using a Valet familiar archetype.

Please note: we were allowed to ROLL our stats so don't freak out over the numbers. The only stipulation by the GM is that we couldn't go over an 18 to start.

Wizard (universalist/Arcane Builder)
Str 13
Dex 16
Con 18 (16 +2 racial)
Int 18
Wis 14
Cha 14
Traits: Dangerously Curious, Reactionary
Level 1: Evolved Familiar - Skilled (Perception)
Level 1 bonus: Scribe Scroll
Level 3: Lookout
Level 3 bonus: Extended Spell
Level 5: Evolved Familiar - Skilled (Use Magic Device)
Level 5 bonus: Craft Wand

This is as far as my thought process got me. At this point my familiar, an owl, will have a +18 Perception before any buffs. As well I can cast Alter Self on the familiar, put it in a humanoid form, and use it as a Quicken Spell kind of effect. With a +11 Use Magic Device by 5th level I can hand off wands or even level 1 scrolls to it and double my spells cast in a round.

If anyone has any critiques of where to take the build from here or changes I should make I'm all ears.

I always think it's funny when folks say "environment." That's easy to say as a GM but think in terms of a player. A player is going to listen to key elements of the environment and ignore everything else. You tell a player "you're entering a swampy area" and they immediately start looking for ways to mitigate all of the hazards of the area. Doing so generally removes the "interest" of said environment.

If you're going to say "environment" you have to either surprise the PCs (you come around the corner in the dungeon and there's... a MANGROVE room!) or you have to create settings that the PCs can't simply magic their way out of.

For a GM we're all about making things fun and interesting. For a player its about efficient conflict resolution, resource management, and ALSO some fun. Remember you can lead a PC to water; you can't make them jump in it to fight a bunch of Reefclaws.

I think another thing to do is set a tone in the game where mindlessly murdering everything isn't ok. Now this too won't work with EVERY group of players. What I'm talking about is that kobolds, goblins, necromancers and liches are people too (sort of), in spite of all their evil.

In RL you can't just walk up on someone's property, kick open the door and begin murdering them just because they broke a local law. In Pathfinder that's EXACTLY what happens. Change the dynamic; have the NPC hire the PCs not to go MURDER the monsters but capture them and bring them to justice or just drive them away or make a deal with them to be nicer.

Can you cite the faq please?

How does a readied action play in?

What does VMC stand for?

Isn't there a witch archetype that gets vermin affinity and ignores Distraction ability while existing w/in a swarm? Give them either a spell to assume a form the same as their swarm or a few levels of Druid for widshaping into their chosen swarm and case closed right?

_Ozy_ wrote:
Either that, or one could apply common sense when reading the rules, which is itself a rule promulgated by the devs.

What the freak does "promulgated" mean? Dumb it down for us commoners ok? In the meantime, I jumped into this thread because I'm a fan of kobolds. They get a feat that grants them a -10 to sniping but I don't understand the action at all. Is it:

1. The kobolds use Stealth to hide
2. They attack
3. They spend a move action to hide within Concealment or Cover as the situation presents itself
4. Their final Stealth check for the round is -10 plus whatever for the distance?

If they're attacking with bows or crossbows, can they load as part of that Move action in #3 above?

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Forget that class-centered thinking. Get a fighter type; get 'em to take 5 ranks in Craft: weapons. Now make them take Master Craftsman. Blam; non-spellcaster crafter.

Bottom line is I run homebrew games and haven't gotten a game up to level 10 in a long time. However I constantly tell my players not to forget Scribe Scroll or other crafting feats or even skills they have.

I also use the optional rules in Ultimate Campaign and other books to make it even cheaper. For example making birch bark scrolls, did you know you can use those plus the Scribe Scroll feat coupled with earning Magic capital to craft 16 level 1/CL 1 scrolls for a cost of 50 GP?

My players don't.

So my advice:

1. look into crafting your own gear
2. See if your fellow players are willing to share the load of the feats
3. Look at your cohorts as well for crafters
4. See if your GM will use optional rules to make it easier

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Absolutely NOTHING (listen to me!)

Go grab the Lost City of Barakus. There's some good low-level stuff there. Start them at Endholme, throw in some rumors that lead into the Sword of Air stuff (admittedly one of the things from FGG I don't own... yet) and toss 'em in. Otherwise PM me and with a little guidance from you we can work out some side quest that get's your players up to speed and into the campaign.

I have a homebrew campaign at level 2 focused around kobolds and dragons. Will this book help me build dragon NPC baddies? Also shouldn't the original post say "BREATHE fire" instead of "breath fire?"

Looking forward to more info.

I've noticed not many GMs are fond of Sleep Witched. Not sure why. Just answer them by using more elves...

Got a low-level witch/wizard/arcane caster tossing Sleep or Sleep Hex all over? Drop a tatzlwyrm. It is CR 2 with 22 HP, immune to sleep (as dragons tend to be) and intelligent. It's capable of making/using simple traps, has decent saves and a fast Climb speed (30') with powerful Stealth skills in the right environment. Best of all, Pounce and Rake with 2 claws.

Old Tatz-manian devil here could be in a tree hidden (DC 26 to spot it), wait for one of the PCs to get caught in a tree snare that entangles them, and then suddenly it's: Surprise round/Bite/Grapple/Rake... for 16 damage. The witch yells "Sleep Hex" and dragon just grins, picking out its next target...

I haven't been a player in a while. I've got a new half-elf wizard 1 with a familiar and I'm wanting to use the familiar as a combat-aid. I gave it Familiar Focus so at first level I can give it 2 hours of Mage Armor off a scroll, so I'm not worried about that. I am worried though that I'll never get a lot of buffs on the thing just before a fight to make it combat viable.

I feel like, to keep it alive at low levels I'm going to need:

Enlarge Person
Infernal Healing
Magic Fang (from a half-elf racial trait)

I can maybe skip Magic Fang but the other 2 seem essential. Judging by my own players' spell use though in my games it doesn't seem like I'm ever going to have the chance to get 2 buffs on my pet, and sometimes not even one.

How often do players honestly get the chance to buff up before a fight?

Is it at 0 HP or do they die when they hit negative equal to their Con? I have a 1st level half-elf wizard 1 with 10 HP; her familiar gets 5. If she sends her familiar into combat does it die at 0 or at -11?

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I get that some folks at my table are introverted, may have anxieties or be on a spectrum. Both my kids are on a spectrum and have social issues of their own. I try to be as sensitive to that as I can.

As a result I generally allow my players to say as little or as much as they'd like. Typically a social encounter or a social aspect of a larger encounter is a joint effort. Something prompts the interaction in game. The player announces their intention, I ask for a roll and while they're rolling I ask them to give me some kind of direction of what they're doing.

For example last game session the PCs were gathering info on a couple different points. There is a boggard witch harassing a village and the PCs want to know about her, but there's also a wicked ranger in town stirring up trouble. The party decided to split up. Two guys went to talk to a mysterious little girl, an abarrent leftover of a now-defunct Lamashtu cult. One PC just wanted to gather info in general about the witch and the other wanted to talk to a high-priestess about specific questions.

We broke off into three different skill challenges.

The 2 guys talking to the little girl did some prep work; they gathered apples she likes, got some fresh clothes to give her and went over their talking points. While this was happening I turned to the guy wanting to get general info. He's not much in the way of social skills so I confirmed with him his intent. Then I asked for a Diplomacy roll. While he was rolling I just asked to describe how his guy would use his Diplomacy. He said he'd start at the inn and ask around the villagers, try and get the "mythology" of the witch.

When he was done he rolled well enough to get the info he was looking for. I described it in a montage. "You ask the innkeep and he tells you to talk to old Jed. Old Jed tells you some creepy story going back a year, then his wife pops in. She describes the recent attack and how it's nothing compared to what the witch'll do to you if you go out in the swamps. She then sends you to her sister Mirelda who tells you about the old runestones at the edge of the marsh; past those is the witch's domain. This goes on for a few hours (three) and here's all the details you learn..." and then I finished his challenge by relating all the general info on the boggard witch.

I come back to the guys talking to the little girl and they tell me how they've prepped and how they want to talk to her. After a Diplomacy check to coax her out and start the dialogue they begin asking their questions. All three of us went back and forth, in character, having a conversation about all the little girl knew. I hunched my body, spoke through one side of my mouth and tried to talk like a 10 year old kid would. Their Diplomacy roll got the ball rolling and was high enough to justify some very specific answers (Total of 26 on the check plus the gifts they brought gave a hidden circumstance bonus of +4 pushing them to a total of 30) so we just roleplayed it instead of me giving it in a summary.

Thirdly there was the guy talking to the high-priestess. Said cleric is a devout of Gozreh and a grippli, but she also venerates Pharasma and lives out of the burial caves at the swamp-waters' edge. Needless to say she's creepy. He made his way down to talk to her, described wanting to do an exchange of knowledge with her for the info he wanted, and then made a Diplomacy roll which bombed (total 13). The priestess, referred to under the title the "Marmer" invited him into her chambers and meant to sit with him; the first thing she did was offer him some stale biscuits, tree-sap syrup and a home-rolled cigar. Since the PC is an elf and gets played as highly civilized I was not surprised when the player kind of turned his nose up. Working with the player we described the failure together, the elf taking a cracked earthen cup in his dainty hand, pinky out, to drink some revolting tea. Then the Marmer acting disgusted that SHE would need HIS help learning what's going on in the village; if she needed lore she'd ask the wind or the water and they'd whisper all she needed to know. Finally she turned invisible and jumped up on the ceiling, telling him to leave.

Everyone had fun and everyone's strengths got played to. The point of all the above is that there's no one set way to do it; you have to roll with your players, know them and work with them organically to resolve social skills. The one thing I DO ask of my players though is to add SOME kind of description to their action or at least an explanation. I don't accept "I attack" or "I use Profession: Librarian" in other situations so "I use Diplomacy" isn't a complete answer for me. I either prompt with "HOW do you do it" or "What goal are you trying to achieve" or something if they don't feel like roleplaying and I reserve the right to describe the scene once the roll has been made working WITH them as necessary.

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So here's the thing: fights are only as interesting as the PLAYERS make them, not the GM. I have 2 lots of players across 2 groups currently and they all have different styles. A couple are optimizers for their own stats but then once battles hit they are ALL about the numbers; their "fun" comes from being mathematically superior no mater how much/little strategy they use. For these folks it doesn't matter that I've got a dozen kobolds, scattered around 3 "kill zones" both outdoors and in a tight cavern hall, with rocks and crags providing cover AND I've given the party a scroll of Obscuring Mist.

Then there are other players who approach each fight cinematically. They make some ridiculously bad strategic decisions, like hanging back at range against said kobolds, attacking with a weak-to-hit-bonus bow while they AND the kobolds are all in cover, and realizing only after several rounds that they're not hitting the kobolds except on a 20. But that doesn't matter to these folks because for them there's the "cool" factor of, one scene later, using a bunch of cantrips and the aforementioned Obscuring Mist to unnerve 8 out of 12 kobolds into retreat with a creepy sheet ghost - a shirt with a horrifying face painted on it in glow-in-the-dark inks, set to a faint glow with Prestidigitation, made to float with Mage Hand and backed with eerie sounds a la Ghost Sound, all while being surrounded in a sudden pea-soup fog while the PCs sneak through the area undetected.

TL/DR: bottom line sometimes it doesn't matter WHAT you put in front of your players in terms of environment. You put rocks and trees in the battle map, they figure out how to still maximize the one charging lane; the caves are fed with smoke and heat by underground vents, the players just use cantrips and Endure Elements along with a Survival check and then ignore the potential hazards; the rats infect the PCs with a disease, they ignore it and move on knowing there will be whole days until onset and they start suffering.

Some players have fun from combat in different ways.

For other players, even a completely empty room can still be interesting. They climb walls, use doorways, or even bring their own cover with them using magic. I had one 2nd level wizard cast Floating Disk, transfer it to his rat familiar, and then had the rat walking around trailing a 200-lb table wood table with it. In some fights the barbarian and cleric would grab said table and either Bull Rush with it, lay it out for Cover or use it to get Higher Ground. After the fights if they had time the wizard would read off a scroll of Make Whole and repair the thing.

If your the GM and want to make things interesting simply set scenes, locate the players who WANT to make the fights about more than numbers, and then get out of their way. Incentivize them by reminding them of strategic environmental bonuses until they have a good handle on them and even toss them some Circumstance bonuses once in a while. Before you know it those players are using every inch of every scene.

Finally let me also say... roleplaying.

If you want a fight to be more interesting without being deadly, try using some narrative or acting skills when running it. Who says spiders can't talk? Sure the rules suggest they can't, but who cares? The spiders all talked in the Lord of the Rings books, why not in your games? If the spiders were suddenly whispering from Stealth, things like "Welcome to my den little flies... your blood will feed my bones for DAYSSSSS..." or whatever there are some players who will suddenly perk up and get engaged.

A fight with four kobolds hiding in a dungeon room is boring. A fight with 4 kobolds, hiding in a ruined chapel with overturned pews, an altar and niches in the walls is better, but still only a little for some players.

Add one more dimension of interest by making it 4 kobolds named Bylx, Nuglyk, Alkyvex and Thryggh - one is a Warrior with Weapon Finesse, another is an Adept but with modified spells cast as Arcane instead of Divine and he's got Scribe Scroll so the kobolds have a bunch of those, the third is a classic Divine adept with Combat Reflexes and decent armor that acts like a tank and the fourth has the Kobold Sniper feat and darts through the cover every round making ranged attacks against foes denied their Dex bonus. Now along with all of this, reward the arcane spellcaster for taking the Draconic language by having them understand the kobolds as they talk to one another in combat:

Bylx: Mordalith's Balls Alkyvex, I thought you said that pit trap filled with rats was "infallible!"

Alkyvex: (in a lisp) Sorry Bylx, they must be stronger than they look

Nuglyk: (in a high, squeaky voice) well they're no match for the draconic power of the arts arcane! We shall weaken them further then lead them astray; these fools will never find the treasure beneath the altar! (a misdirect; the kobolds have an exploding Alchemist's Fire trap hidden there)

Thryggh: (in a deep voice; he has the trait that makes him more intimidating) No doubt Nug! They won't get past ME (positions himself in the open, in front of the altar) and they'll regret trying! (to the players, in Common) Come fools; try to take our treasure and pay for it with your LIVES (Intimidation check)

Now as the fight goes on, if the kobolds live for more than a round they can quip about good hits they've made or bad misses by the PCs; they might call out expletives invoking the dragon Mordalith who they worship; you might even give them some dramatic death speech as they are defeated. With a little roleplaying these four kobolds may just occupy a niche of imagination that otherwise would have been left untouched by this fight scene in your players' minds.

Good thing I took UMD as a class skill through a trait and have a high Cha.

I have a half-elf with Magic Fang 1/day as an SLA. She is also a Wizard 1 with Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat. Can she make scrolls of Magic Fang?

So I have a female half-elf Wizard 1 with an owl familiar. For RP reasons I don't want to change the familiar but my half-elf gets only Low Light Vision, not Darkvision. Are there any means at low levels to make sure I always have SOME light to see by but not enough to spoil my +3 Perception bonus?

I asked my GM to houserule Penumbra saying it would shield my vision against light effects so I could always be considered to be in Dim Light but he says since the spell isn't worded that way it doesn't work that way. At 3rd level I'll get Darkness but then I won't be able to see at all.

Here's an interesting trio for your familiar:

1. Take Evolved Familiar: Resistance selecting Electricity
2. Cast Body Capacitance
3. Cast level 1 Shocking Grasp spells on your familiar

You familiar can now add half the electricity damage to it's melee attack damage. It still takes the damage but resists 5 pts of it because of Resistance. If you want an extra punch, arm it with a Shock Shield (+2 Deflection bonus to AC; discharge to deal 1d6 Electricity damage in a 5' burst) and have it explode with lightning. PIKA PIKA!

Vocal Alteration is a 1st level arcane spell that changes a creature's voice. Its a transmutation, not an illusion; it actually changes the voice to something else. Per the spell:

Vocal Alteration wrote:
The target can vary the disguised voice just as it could its normal voice. For example, a halfling female given a male dwarf noble’s voice and accent could speak in falsetto, with a rural halfling accent, and so on.

Now if you have a familiar you can target it with a spell regardless of it's Type; by this rule you can cast Enlarge Person on a familiar despite the fact that the creature is a Magical Beast. Combining that ability with this spell, could you change your familiar so it could speak common? It has an Int of 6 right at the start which gives it access to a single language; you could select Common and then cast this spell to alter it's voice to actually speak if that's legal.

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