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185. A young man stands at a table, attempting to woo the woman of his dreams. Just as he delivers his best line a burly man enters the bar and calls the wooer out by name "Hey X, I thought I told you never to come in here again. Now it's gonna cost you..." Problem is; the pcs NEED the young man and his paramour to get together...
The First World is so called because it's the blueprint the gods used for the Prime right? Also some fluff in one of the books said that fey are merely spirits and they're eternal on their home turf of the First World. So from that I've ruled this: summoned creatures come from the First World.
The spirit-stuff of that place (plane? world? other?) is drawn out by the spell and given form as dictated by the summoner. As the spirit materializes and the form is dictated the nature of the Prime causes the spirit to assume the form of that creature as readily accepted by the Prime. A riding dog generally looks like X, so when a spirit is summoned and dictated to be a riding dog the Prime frames the creature to look like that.
Templates are a tad harder to explain. My theory is that the summoner siphons off a bit of the planar power from a plane corresponding to the template. A Celestial Hawk then is a First World spirit occupying the form of a hawk with a very careful, pin-prick sized siphon drawing an array of powers from a Celestial plane. This is not to say the deity(ies) native to that plane, just the plane itself.
This helped me explain to a player how, when the creature appears it always looks the same and what happens to it if the summoned monster is slain. If it IS slain, the spirit-stuff merely returns to the First World and is reborn eternal.
When you start getting into the sentient beings from other planes (elementals, mephits, demons, etc) I suppose you're literally drawing those creatures from the very planes they inhabit. I'm sure they're ticked off and I suppose that's why you need other spells to bind them more permanently and protect yourself from their retributions and such. I suppose in the case of those creatures you could also explain that they are drawn directly from the plane itself and did not exist in this form before the time of the summoning. Post-summons then the stuff of them returns to their native plane none the wiser.
Y'know the ones I never understood? Dwarves.
Look at the OP. Dwarves are fairly long-lived and take 5 decades to hit 1st level. Unlike Elves or Gnomes however dwarves are depicted, at least by the fluff, racial bonuses and Golarion-specific religious focus as being studious, hard-working crafting types. Are they spending 2 decades just mastering how to hold a hammer or looking at rocks?
For all these races, I favor a more mystic approach. They actually live several lives. They are not Time Lords; they do not regenerate. They mature and go off on their first life adventure, or their second or what have you. Some die on these; they are not PCs. Others accumulate miraculous success transcending their race; these are not PCs either.
PC characters are elves, dwarves and gnomes who fall into the average for their races. They have 2, 3, 4, maybe even 5 lifetimes worth of experiences, each time going to some central repository and downloading these into a collective consciousness. Each time they retain maybe a fraction of their knowledge. By the time they are being played as a PC they are off on another whirlwind adventure at the end of which they will either die or be allowed to continue on. They have reached an age where their mental maturity is able to deal with the extreme length of their lifespan.
If this process wasn't followed by the "Elder Races" they would be teenagers with MASSIVE amounts of levels. Imagine if the races learned at the same pace. You could have an elf with the mental maturity of a 10 year old and 20 levels even of an NPC class. I'm just imagining one of my daughters with 20 levels of Adept: "Why'd you call me a name you Jerkhead! YOU'RE A TOAD!"
Elven children are morons. So bad they can't be potty trained for decades. It is... An undertaking. Usually, elven children are stored in what is affectionately called 'moron cocoons', cocoons of plant matter and magic that hang from large trees. When the kids finally grow a brain at about a century of age, they are released from the cocoons.
I've seen this posted before, probably by you, and it's always hilarious. Thanks!
I saw J.Roddy Walston and the biz in a small club here in Minneapolis on Monday. Shockingly expensive taps! 12oz 7 dollars I only had one then retreated after the show to a pub down the street. Summit oatmeal stout on tap 16oz for 3 bucks. Oh club jagger what a life saver.
Y'know what Pan? You're fired. You brag about seeing such an awesome show and hitting a nice bar afterwards and don't even have the decency to throw out a PM invite or nothin? I'm not sayin I'm just sayin; I wasn't doin anything Thursday night...
Honestly though I'm just jealous. Glad you had fun and found a decent tap. Most places, even in the burbs are insane for tap beer. A pub near my house in Plymouth: $5 for 2 Surly Hell for happy hour, but then it shoots up to $6 a mug! Seriously?
Yay for Donna again! I'm sure she had such a short run on the show because Catherine Tate seems to be quite a powerful actress in England (I see episodes of her own show online) but I really wish she could've gone on. Seriously the character of Donna Noble had it all; human frailty, obnoxious behavior to cover it up, and the willingness to fight even with the Doctor when she thought she could do more.
Rose and Martha might've quibbled with the Doctor but when he put his foot down they just sort of resigned to doing what he said. One was in love with him, the other had puppy love for him. But Donna was a companion without being a submissive.
And her story arcs were heartbreaking! Listening to the song of the Ood just to beg for it to stop; having an entire imaginary family only to have it ripped away; missing the man LITERALLY of her dreams as she left the library. And then to end it all by saving everyone and getting to remember NONE of it. That is really tough stuff.
Rose would've crumbled. Martha wouldn't have connected with any of it in the first place. It took Donna, the perpetual temp that everyone underestimated or avoided, to pull off all that. And it took Catherine Tate to make it look that good. Oh, and also she's really pretty.
I have a couple high-level bandits in my homebrew. They are called "Baron Havrek" and "Doombringer, the Ancient Red Dragon." Seriously if you want to get higher than, say 5th level with bandits you need to expand on how the bandits are robbing people.
The dragon does it by existing. The mere threat of it's attacks are enough to compel several farmsteads and villages to deliver a tithe to the town of Felenvar and the town then delivers this to the dragon. Sometimes the creature just gets bored waiting and swoops down into another part of Rukenval and blows up a castle or village to swipe more swag and prove to Felenvar he means business.
Baron Havrek meanwhile does it through a team of three corrupt sheriffs who in turn have brute squads (yes, stolen from THAT movie) with them. It works kind of like the mob. The baron pretends to be all nice and says the villages under his rule must pay a bit extra than their neighbors, since they have all these humanoids and monsters in the area and the baron is hard at work protecting the common folk. The sheriffs and their men go around collecting and pretending to keep the region safe. If someone comes up short the law roughs them up for the cash; if that doesn't work then humanoids miraculously appear to motivate the community as a whole to make up the shortfall. Of course many of these monsters are on the baron's payroll, but the commoners don't need to know that.
Bandits can be a general term for anyone who takes from others in some way instead of earning their own. In this definition most PCs are bandits. They just tend to be Robin Hood types who are defeating evil and injustice at the same time as they are stealing from others.
I don't have a problem with the d20 or the math it invokes. That being said I played diceless as a kid. Not a diceless system like Amber but literally just sitting around with my brother and a friend and taking turns telling stories with turn-based conflict resolution.
I've also sat in on game sessions where conflict was resolved with a coin toss. We've used rock-paper-scissors, a single d6 and even one time whoever could light the zippo on the first try with their leg.
Honestly I don't want to reinvent the wheel anymore. D20's provide a fine backdrop for the math of the current version. With bonuses being tacked on there are some instances where you can basically ignore the thing unless you roll a 1; a 5% chance of failure.
I got to thinking about something last night. There's lots of stories where the hero buys an item from a magic shop. Now usually these items carry some kind of catch or curse but that ends up being the hook of the story. In Brave for example Meridah has to buy a potion from a witch (along with hundreds of wood figurines!) but the potion doesn't work EXACTLY as she'd hoped.
That got me thinking though: if there are NPC crafters with item crafting feats in a gameworld, why WOULDN'T they sell their wares? This is their greatest means of income.
Or look at it from another angle. There's no crafters but there are magic items. An old adventurer found a +1 sword in his youth, retired and now has a family. Unfortunately his health is declining, his farm is riddled with blight and his kids are untrained farmers with few prospects in this pseudo-feudal world. If he sold his old sword that would pay for... everything.
I guess I'm just having a hard time wrapping my mind around why NPCs wouldn't sell their items in the first place. The only thing I could come up with was something terrible like demons roam the streets. If I had a +1 blade and evil outsiders were constantly harassing me heck yeah I'd hold onto this thing!
Finally one last thing to think about. If you can't buy magic items, then what about renting spellcasters? Seriously, if your players came to you and said that because they can't have an item buffing them 24/7 on their adventures they're going to look around for a hedge mage to hire on retainer and bring with them to the dungeon. Said hireling would then cast the spells on them needed for their survival and they would pay the hireling a bit now and more once they've acquired more loot. All of that is entirely in the rules and wouldn't require creating a new mechanic to do away with the "big 6" or whatever. Or would that again detract from the wonder of magic?
@ lucky strike: Well that brings me back to the other point I suggested upthread - maybe if you're looking for magic = special then don't have spells. When people know exactly what the definition and variables are on a "Fireball" spell then handing them a necklace of them isn't going to be exciting. Now imaging a game where you literally have no insight into magic spells at all and your GM gives your caster "a small, bulbous flask which, when thrown explodes and amazing ball of flame!" The PCs still don't know how much damage it'll do or anything.
Would that enhance the magic and make it special? I polled my players and 2 of them didn't care. One said it would be like getting an alien laser pistol but not knowing it was an alien laser pistol and so you end up calling it a Sunray Wand or something. The last player of the 4 just said that sounded annoying.
For folks that say magic items = rare and precious why not just houserule: no magic items can be bought, period? I'm not being snarky it's an honest question. Sure there are still crafting feats out there and everyone's free to craft on their own but literally no one in the entire game world will sell them, not even the consumables. The only way magic items then change hands are by gift or force.
If the PCs want to start off at first level with a potion of Cure Light Wounds they either need to have the crafting feat or have done a special favor for a church/witch/bard etc. When they hit 2nd and they want a wand, they have to go on a quest for that crafting entity or have earned their trust already. At third level the greatsword wielder better either be happy with the +1 hand axe they found in the loot pile or he better be willing to go on another side quest.
Rather than make a bullet pointed list of how they buy items or where or whatever, just remove buying. I know my own players have said they don't enjoy side questing for specific items but maybe yours will and that will make them so much more precious yes?
I think I'm in Lemmy's boat here. If you don't like talking but wanna play the "face", go for it. If you're not as strong as, say, most houseplants and you want to play Ahnold from Conan, that sounds awesome.
The only time I get cheesed off is when a person uses mechanics and CALLS it roleplaying. Stated another way, I don't enjoy passive players.
Roleplaying to me is an active experience. If you enter a dungeon don't wait to be attacked or caught by a trap to start interacting with the environment; when you enter a town don't wait until the guard harasses you before you ask for directions. Get involved. Play your character; literally play your role.
In respect to this thread then that means explain how, or at least why, you're using a skill. Don't just wait til someone comes up to you and go "I use diplomacy. 25; what info do I get?" That's my opinion though and others' most certainly will vary.
Simon Legrande wrote:
I think this is how I feel about darker-themed games. I add horror elements in my games and sometimes the heroes lose but overall I tend to stay away from the completely dour game. IRL I've dealt with some truly dark stuff, family issues, death and loss of a very personal nature. I lose as many life-conflicts as I win.
When I game I'm looking to escape that for a time. I actively pursue a game where fantastic things happen, heroes get rewarded and doing the right thing works out.
Y'know what I think makes magic so dang commonplace where players lose their sense of wonder? Spellcasters.
Seriously. All the magic shops in the world can't compete with a guy, in the party all the time, who with the right spell selection can do nearly anything everyone else can do and at least once/day win just about any fight.
Also think about it. Even if you sold items to the party without spellcasters you could describe ANY effect they perform and it would seem amazing. "This blade is forever sharp, clean and pure. What's more it traps even the most miniscule motes of light from the deepest shadow and amplifies them so that it always glows from within!" Then the wizard steps up and goes "Prestidigitation and light? Big whup."
Not having magic items being sold because it breaks player immersion or engagement or verisimilitude or whatever the right phrase here is just does not compute for me. If we want wonder at the power of magic then it can't be codified, quantified or even identified. Once it is, it's not wonderful anymore. Amazingly any spellcasting class, even bards, do this instantly just by existing.
Anyway sorry again for the rant. Really, I'm sorry.
Here's one I stole from the old Batman: The Animated Series cartoon. There are several canopic jars with symbols on them. Later there are alcoves in the walls with corresponding symbols. Specific jars placed in the right spot to match up the symbols unlock a passage.
Similar thing happens in the movie The Fifth Element. The female protagonist gives the hint "wind blows... rain falls..." and so on. The other protagonists have pylons that need to fit to pedestals but then need to be "opened" through the use of the elements they align to. The one for air for example needs to be blown upon and the one for water has sweat dripped upon it.
I have these giant retail outlets built in enormous warehouses. They have a blue sign out front that says "Magci Mart"...
Seriously, I don't know a single GM IRL that actually does it that way. I also don't understand the other extreme where NO ONE sells magic items or it's highly restricted. What sense do extremes make in a fantasy setting?
Anyway, netiher of those work for me or my players. If it does for others then I apologize for any malignancy in my above statement. It wasn't meant to inflame.
So in my games I ask the PCs what they're looking for. I also have random items in the settlement per the settlement rules in the Gamemastery guide. Finding these items for sale takes a little effort; they need to use either Knowledge: Local or Diplomacy or some other method to find them. DCs are usually averaged to the level of the PCs or maybe lower depending on the item requested.
Then the actual purchase. I don't have "magic shops" but rather traders, merchants, artisans and common folk who are willing to part with these fantastic items for a price. Once I had a PC looking for magic armor. The settlement happened to have a set of Chain Mail +1 so I had the party roll Diplomacy to gather info. Turned out that a former militia soldier of the town had been an adventurer in his youth but now was old and infirmed. His granddaughter had come of age but also was beginning to develop latent supernatural powers (budding sorcerer). He wasn't going to be around to help her but in a city nearby there was a college of the arcane where she could train and study... if only she had the money.
The PCs met the man, brief RP ensued and they bought the armor. Felinda took most of that, hired on with a trade caravan headed for the city and went to pursue her training. Had the campaign continued I might have kept her as a potential NPC.
There's this article in an old thread I res'd here that I want all my players to read. At least point 1 and 2 anyway. I can't stand it when folks make up a PC with a backstory and then are passive and expect the GM to play it all into the game for them.
I had a dwarf cleric of Desna - an interesting choice but hear me out. His backstory was a little different than stereotype dwarves. The setting we were using had a really rugged hills/cliffs area along a big river that had once been dwarven territory. My guy was part of a mercenary band of dwarves that were once from the area but had no illusions of retaking it for their people.
They were mercenaries. They wandered the wilds doing jobs for anyone, including goblinoids. My PC was born into bondage when his father, a merc soldier took a young dwarven girl as a slave. She was, *ahem* useful to the others in the clan until I came of age at which point she murdered her pimp/husband and staked herself as a soldier of the crew.
So my guy is raised by his fiercely independent mom but within this crew of mercenaries. His "uncle", boss Thane was the leader and kind of a reprobate (LN) who had honor but would literally take any job. My guy grows up trying to dissuade the guy from taking certain bounties all the while learning to be a soldier.
The last job the crew takes is working for a hobgoblin warlord. My guy attempts to abstain, gets nearly killed for insubordination and eventually finds himself afield. The dwarves win but while they're recovering the warlord sends in more troops to kill them. With the double cross on Uncle Thane gets shoulder to shoulder w/me and repents for his terrible decision saying we're all free if we survive.
My guy dies on the field. He's saved by Desna and becomes a cleric after coming back to life. A few other mercs and my mom are still alive; Uncle Thane held to his promise and they all now live in towns around the area.
The whole point of this detailed background is to explain my skill in Profession: Soldier, my feats and traits around endurance and armor training and also my faith in Desna. My from the backstory I also played up that, in towns and villages I might "know a guy."
So we start playing and I go into soldier mode. I talked like my brother did when he got out of basic saying things like "We need to get squared away" or calling it KP instead of cooking. Then we get into town and I'm asking about dwarves who might live in the area to see if I "know a guy" that might help. Finally I almost got the party to force march simply because that's what I'm used to.
My thing is, like point 2 in the article above you can't put something in a backstory you're not willing to play. Also try to actually RP your guy and don't just say "it's in my backstory" or whatever. I'm not saying that you have to be an expert orator to have a Diplomacy skill or that you even need to talk in character to use said skill but don't give your PC that skill if you're not prepared to at least describe using it. Just saying you have/are something isn't enough in my book to say you STILL have/are it.
I'm enjoying 2 different Summit offerings tonight. One is their Oktoberfest which I have to say I didn't care for as it was a bit heavy and their Bohemian Style Pilsner. I'm really liking the pils but I think it's a perfect storm of situational modifiers.
Up here in MN right now it's 50 degrees and windy - PERFECT weather for me but my wife is under the weather with a cold. As a result all the windows are sealed and the heat is CRANKED! Plus I just took some fresh-ish salmon out of the oven. Hot forced air, baked fish and steamed rice and veggies - the crisp, clean pilsner is like liquid fresh air at this point. I think maybe I sit out on the deck, crack another one and get my chill on before settling in.
*casts thread res*
I just found this thread and through it the article. I really liked the advice. I agree that some of it was kind of obvious but then again in the preamble he says it perfectly. There's all kinds of advice on how to run, but no one ever says out loud or writes down how to play. Sure there's rules to follow on HOW to play a specific game, but not how to be a player.
I think more folks should read this. At least one piece of advice applies to every player at my table, including me. I ramble incessantly (as if you couldn't tell) and I need to learn how to keep it short and sweet.
The lady is a spy and a ranger. Presumably this gives her some social skill correct? She must have contacts within many groups who will have some reason to attempt to protect her. You can use these groups to directly oppose the PCs.
- The Nightmare Gang: a group of villainous goblin rogues, bugbears and worse empowered by a night hag to steal more than just gold. They literally steal souls from the dying; more often than not they are the ones setting up the fatal condition. The spy uses them as pure muscle in exchange for her own service to the night hag.
- The Circle of Three: in keeping with the night hag the lady ranger has also made the acquaintance of this coven of mortal hags living in the warrens. The three, in and of themselves have many charmed or coerced agents (monsters of appropriate level) and the Circle dwells where the rotted alleys and greenway of the slums have collapsed into the broken sewers. 3 encounter areas: fungal gardens and gnarley rotten trees (Greenhag); sewer streams and foul cesspits (sea hag); ruined tunnels and chambers filled with steam and fog (annis hag).
- Captain Vylharkh and the Frostwyrm: a barbarian and pirate captain Vylharkh is half-dragon and kin to white dragons; he ignores the cold of his homeland. He also tamed and bound an adult white dragon into service and built a small ship upon its back. Last night he pulled into port and his services were bought with a huge bounty. Now he's laid a false trail to the docks where his flying ship waits with an unholy crew of undead and elementals to freeze the party to death.
You could incorporate these or others into not only protecting the spy but also distributing info. The clues they reveal may be true or false. Pair these with the excellent site suggestions folks have above.
Are there ways to incorporate all this town fluff without making it all seemed forced?
What are your players interested in? Not their characters mind you, but the players. If they aren't particularly engaged and want to handwave then just deliver some exposition. However if the players are trying to be immersive and roleplay the environment think about what they like.
If one player at the table is overly interested in art or culture have them find some grafitti, perhaps as its still being made. Another player might enjoy sports; perhaps there are some kids in the street with a stick and a ball.
Korvosa has seafood, the opera, fell magics and weirdness galore. Have the party get strange looks if they're walking about during tea time. They might forget the custom of beginning haggling by first complimenting the merchant on their pet.
Another great way to add detail is at a meal. Korvosa seems a tad decadent; perhaps their inn doesn't serve a single meal but courses. Said courses are separated by palette cleansers such as gargling with salt water then sweet wine or by the ritualized cleansing of the face and hands with a steamed towel.
Entertainment is yet another way to make a city come alive. Not just places to see shows or meet courtesans though. What city would be complete w/out street performers? In Korvosa perhaps they enact short tragedies or a parade of religious zealots goes by with outlying clergy chastising the weak.
I think though the best thing you can do is be subtle. I feel like that's one of the points of RavenStarver's post. Launching into a 5 paragraph summary of street life is too much. Picking out a few small details though might be just enough to tease a player into engaging.
Villain is using telepathy.
AWW YEAH SON!
I play inside my library, at a cherry wood trestle table centered on a fine rug I got in the markets of Absalom. I usually have a fire going in the Dragon's Head hearth though additional light is provided by dozens of candles held aloft and alight by simple Continual Flame and Prestidigitation effects.
As for use of the books I like the real thing so I eschew my laptop for the shelves around us. It took a long time and A LOT of money, but I've bound Unseen Servants to each tome, module, book and scroll so that all I need do is gesture and call out a page reference and the object of my desire is at hand.
The shelves are mahogany 15' high and ring the walls of the chamber. They are also extremely deep; a few serve as perches for my homunculi (I use them to ensure my PCs aren't cheating). To navigate the stacks when I choose to handle the books myself I have a balcony of hand-wrought cold iron styled in a nature theme of coiling ivy and such.
Wait what? Sorry, I blacked out for a second there. I usually either just grab books off the shelves as needed when I play at home or I schlepp everything I'll possibly need for a given night in a backpack and duffel. I also have my laptop just in case, but I prefer books just 'cause I'm a curmudgeon who prefers his screen pages with ink in them.
Go wizard. If you're going to shoot the moon shoot it. The beetle has a book strapped to it's carapace that it manipulates with Mage Hand. I like the idea that it uses light and fire as it's weapons. Burning Hands, Scorching Ray, but also Dancing Lights, Flare, and Continual Flame. At higher levels Daylight, Fire Shield, and the various color spray/rainbow/prismatic spells.
Give him a familiar. Don't go hokey with it but really play it up. This thing would be an amazing cohort. You could give it all those crafting feats no one wanted to take, give it's familiar the Valet archetype so that the thing can aid Squish in it's crafting, and have the fire beetle making wands/potions for the party's use. If he occasionally has to actually be in combat he's got some offensive spells to contribute with. If you're worried about somatic materials have the beetle take a feat to get rid of them or give it a magic item that makes it anthropomorphic.
I don't know; with stats like the above array that's the way I'd go with him.
Have the barbarian charge who cares.
1. villain starts monologuing
Nothing like Baron Boilface easily sidestepping the barbarian's clumsy charge in the surprise round and momentarily pausing in his monologue to comment: "You see? You are nothing but impetuous children. This is why my plan will succeed..."
Then WHILE fighting he continues
*Baron 5' steps, power attacks barbarian and deals 62 damage plus Fort 22 or 1d4 Con from poison* "...and now at the zenith of my power, my glory is nearly at hand! I have already set things in motion..."
*Baron survives party's onslaught and flies into the air, fireballing the party for 150 damage* ... so that, even if you slay this pathetic mortal form before you the comet will still strike the coast, sinking your wretched kingdom into the sea, while my soul will merely return to it's phylactery. I will rise again in possession of a new body, perhaps even one of yours, and my victory will be COMPLETE! AHAHAAHAHA!!!"
Yeah, that happened. Blam. You're welcome *mic drop*
Do it like they did in Unbreakable by M Night Shymalan. Do the whole monologue in flashbacks. "Now you know who you are; now you know who I am. I should have known. It was the kids David. They called me Mr Glass."
I love monologues. As a GM I try to work them in though my players always spoil them. When I'm a player though I always make a point to sit up and listen and play up my PCs reactions. I'm a sucker for comic books and by that I mean good old fashioned super hero types. I suppose I have monologuing villains on the brain.
As for why villains do it? Are you kidding? I do it in my daily life, though not as grandiose. Who here can't say that, every once in a while when you feel you're right about something you don't explain HOW right you are? Congrats - you're monologuing. Now pretend that by explaining to bob in accounting how you were smart enough to manipulate Sarah into going out with you as part of your master plan he becomes so enraged that he and his three friends pull their medieval weapons and fantasy spells and begin trying to kill you. Who cares? You pull a level, drop through a trapdoor in the floor and the entire inside sales team of expendable minions keeps them busy while you escape.
Did I mention how into comics I am?