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Leonard Kriegler

Mark Hoover's page

5,160 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.

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Ok LG, let's clarify: did you bail because your one PC's elk couldn't charge in the Underdark, or did you bail because your GM railroaded you there in the first place. These are 2 separate issues.

This is something else that frequently happens in this hobby: railroading. This is when the GM wants you to go do X in the plot (go to a place, meet an NPC, whatever) and refuses to let you succeed at any other course of action until you do it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, so long as everyone at the table is having fun and willing to go along with it. It sounds from the above though that you and the other players weren't into it.

So G Force, help us understand what's really going on in your game. There's a big difference between "You go in the forest and recover the gem, now on to step 2 in the Underdark" and "EVERYTHING YOU DID WAS FAILURE! TO THE UNDERDARK WITH YOU!!!"

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Ok, whoa everyone, chill. It takes 2 to tango in this game: GM's and players.

So to the OP: you say the campaign was under way already and you had no forewarning at character creation of what was to come. Rather you planned for straight-forward gaming on flat, open ground. I will tentatively agree with some other posters: this is a common thing in tabletop RPGs that your environment will not always be ideal for the characters you built.

To your credit just having Narrow Frame for your mount wouldn't have covered going underground. I played a PC, a gestalt ranger/cavalier recently. He was a Halfling riding a wolf, I figured I'd be safe since he's Medium and I knew we'd be heading underground. Then my GM gave me a chasm. How do you get a Medium sized wolf across a 40' chasm?

My point is: I can understand your trepidation.

That being said, here are some alternatives you could've offered before bailing:

1. Talk to your GM: get on the same page with them. Don't ask them to reveal any of their campaign plans but be frank and ask if there will be situations in the upcoming section of the game unsuited to riding a freaking ELK around.

2. Create new PCs: seriously, think about it. In a lot of RPG-style video games you build a new party before a mission, picking new or old PCs from the "tavern" or whatever based on what you need for the adventure ahead. You could just as easily had the 2 guys with giant animals say "look we'll only slow you guys down in the Underdark, but we know some guys..." and bam! 2 new PCs

3. Magic: Fly/levitate, light/dancing lights (for your vision), Grease for Escape Artist checks on your mounts. There are a LOT of ways to muddle through these situations.

So I think the players and the GM in this campaign need to have a sit down and come to grips with what needs to happen to move the game forward. You guys, as players, are new and got concerned. It happens. Just know that if you continue on in this hobby this is going to happen from time to time. You won't have a splash weapon for swarms; you'll forget to grab ranged weapons; you'll build for combat and there'll be lots of skill challenges. The mark of a good player is to learn from these shortfalls and try to avoid running from them.

Next time you guys make characters you'll ask more questions and consider environments before choosing mounts. If you still go Large sized, you'll know to think about HOW to deal with challenging environments before they hit.

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You said the game takes place "mostly underground" and that the dwarves don't trade with the surface. That's fine; here's some suggestions:

Sun rooms: dwarves create solar tubes to direct sunlight down into their halls. This diffused sunlight isn't great but it does allow for crops to grow. Small gardens and water grains are grown in these chambers. Over time as kobolds and other lower-dwelling light-sensitive creatures have invaded and claimed dwarf territory, these rooms have come to serve a different purpose: torture. Kobolds, being primarily lawful take dissidents to these rooms and chain them to where the sunlight pools, forcing their eyes open with toothpicks.

Frostgrass: just like green plants on the tundra there are some green plants that survive in fissures and glacial rifts. Canny dwarves have learned to recreate these conditions where their halls exit onto frozen cliffsides. Just at these entryways are hoarfrost gardens where domesticated goats graze. Never one to leave resources unused, the scat from these animals is even processed. Through Purifying spells as well as good old-fashioned work undigested greens and grains are extracted and then boiled in a mash for a pleasing, if nutty fermented drink.

These, plus the suggestions above this and the inclusion of spells like Daylight, Plant Growth and finally the invention of some unique, setting specific lichen and fungi would give the dwarves plenty of food sources.

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They might be shy, or reserved, or feel silly/awkward doing in person what they used to do whatever happened behind screens before. Your players are people and they have fears and anxieties like any other humans. Its only natural that they have great cerebral ideas for their PCs (good backstories) but don't really dive into roles when they're at the table.

This might be it for how they RP in person, and the challenge falls to you as a GM and fellow player of the game to be willing to accept that. Talk to them. See if they're comfortable with this level of engagement and if it is, so be it. If you want more and they're not ok with it you may be looking for other players.

If however everyone at the table says they need to RP more (whatever that means; it's very subjective) then here's some ways to help nudge them:

1. Encourage skill use: create social or puzzle-based encounters. One I like to use at 1st level as an ice-breaker is the "heroic save" scenario. PCs are in public (town, in the middle of a ship, on a road in the midst of a caravan, etc) when monsters appear. Said monsters are everywhere and the players could spend the entire session just fighting. Suddenly a cry rings out: "MY BABIES! PLEASE! SOMEONE SAVE THEM!" followed by the crashing of wood. Two little girls are trapped; could be under a fallen cart, could be in a runaway caravan, or maybe on the second story of a burning building. Now sure, there are monsters everywhere and all of the public area is in jeopardy but what hero in their right mind would let a kid die? Saving the girls isn't about JUST murdering monsters. The PCs will have to lift a broken cart that's full of goods and swarming with monsters; maybe they have to control the panicking draft horses all the while batting monsters off a moving vehicle; they've got to get INTO the burning building or scale the side, dealing with the hazard as well as the creatures they're fighting.

2. Now that you've got them thinking like heroes, treat them as such: create the kids' mom as an NPC. She should have something relevant to offer the PCs after the fight; I usually go with the mom being influential around the neighborhood and spreading the word that the PCs are heroes to give them a 10% cost of living decrease. But then its on you as the GM to RP that boon. It's not enough to say "cost of living is reduced." Show them HOW it's reduced. "Oh, it's YOU guys!" the shopkeeper says, pushing another patron out of your way. "Right this way heroes! I've got deals for you on these fine masterwork backpacks just in from up north. Genuine dragon hide! Nothing but the best for our heroes!"

3. Ask the players "How?": everything these guys do, even when they fumble an attack, should add something to the overall narrative of how awesome they are. If you're just telling them about it they might feel left out. Instead challenge them with the word "how" as in:

Player: I attack with my battleaxe
GM: How?
Player: Huh? I just told you, with the axe.
GM: No, how do you attack with it?
Player: What, like, what feats? I've got...
GM (interrupting): no, describe it to me. What are you trying to do?
Player: Umm... I don't know, trying to... umm... hit the orc in his face
GM: Ok, roll
Player: Umm... 18. Does that hit?
GM: You drop sideways, luring his head just a half inch closer then pivot, bringing the axe up and down in a deadly arc! As it hurtles right for the orc's face he moves with it, minimizing the blow! You hit but didn't manage to cleave his face; instead you came down glancing off his collarbone to lodge in his shoulder. Roll your damage...

Then apply the same dialogue to social encounters. Ask HOW when the PCs gather info, intimidate, research between adventures, or use other non-combat skills. Even when it's as simple as making a Climb check in the wilds ask them how they're doing it. This gets your players in the habit of describing their character; his actions, mannerisms, and method of action in all things. Hopefully, with practice and repetition the players will just learn to work this into everything without your prompting.

4. Remind your players their characters should always be doing SOMETHING: the story of the game might be made up or narrated by you, but it goes nowhere without the players moving it forward. As such they should never be standing around doing nothing. I like to roll initiative for everything to keep my players engaged. Example:

GM: the hallway dead ends in a solid oak door 30' ahead.
Ranger: Ok, I check for traps
GM: roll initiative
Ranger: what? Who's attacking?
GM: No one yet; I want to know what everyone's doing.
Wizard: I got... 15
Fighter: 6
Inqisitor: 18!
Ranger: 11
GM: Ok, inquisitor; what're you doing?
Inquisitor: Umm... I check for traps
GM: How
Inquisitor: Right! Um, I cast Guidance on myself and ask Pharasma for divine insight. My guy has Darkvision so I'm just going to inspect the area visually through the darkness. I got... a 23 Perception
Wizard: Well I'm going to tell my owl to circle the area in a visual search as well while I cast Detect Magic and try to sense any auras in the area. My familiar got... 12. Crap.
Ranger: well I've got a glaive with reach so I'm going to prod around and try to search for traps that way. Perception... 19
Fighter: My guy has Knowledge: Dungeoneering. Can I use that?
GM: to do what?
Fighter: Well, it says I can identify underground hazards and monsters and stuff. I'll look around and try to identify any normal hazards or see if anything looks out of place.
GM: Ok, give me a Knowledge check
Fighter: Umm... SWEET! 21!
GM: OK, here's what happens...

The group begins to spread out. The inquisitor kneels briefly to the holy symbol in her hand, then rises and peers into the dark. She notes an odd, wet patch on the floor but can't quite make it out with much detail though it smells faintly of lamp oil. The wizard sends his owl off and casts his spell detecting a faint aura on the side where the oil has gathered though his familiar notes nothing. Ranger, as you're tapping you don't notice anything out of the ordinary but just as you're moving up to the next area you can reach the fighter spots something. The kobolds you've encountered so far have favored fire and there is unnatural scorching on the wall near where the oil has gathered; normally such would be the result of a torch bracket or something but none are present here and the normal dank breezes you've been feeling down here seem to breathe upward through a tiny hole in the ceiling.

Congratulations: together the team detected a Burning Hands trap that chars everything in a 15' radius beneath the hole. You might mention the PCs have a bad feeling (those who rolled a 20 or higher) and then they can decide what to do next. Bottom line as all of the advice begins to come together the hope is that your players feel engaged, empowered and willing to insert themselves into the role of their characters at a moment's notice.

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Aux: for the "hunted" abouve I put in my vote for something using the bugbear feat where it smells fear. I think there's another feat where you can intimidate w/out needing to be seen.

Couple that with traps that deal Bleed damage or Ability damage, namely Con. Finally traps that cripple movement. Force the PCs to get maimed, lose blood or slowly get weaker, all the while have them making saves against fear or at least being demoralized through Intimidate.

This is how I ran a bogeyman type in an old game. The bugbear was blind, ONLY beng able to track by scent. He had poisoned gas to deal Con damage and another for halucinations; he had a couple areas with caltrops or bear traps; he took unarmed, a couple levels of rogue and Bleeding Attack so he'd dart out, slam from behind and deliver a brutal, bleeding punch but then fade away leaving you to waste heling skills/powers on the bleed or just keep bleeding.

There were also signs all over. Kids he'd tortured and removed their eyes replacing them with mirror shards. There was grafiti in blood "Old Pogolo Peeps, he crawls and he creeps..." and even a creepy little nursery rhyme the kids in town sang.

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Not life or death but an interesting use of gear and cantrips. PCs need to distract some kobolds to sneak up a hillside; kobolds have been spotted in overlooking murder holes ready to rain down arrow fire. The PCs grab a spare shirt, mark a face on it with some glow-in-the-dark inks the wizard had and cast in succession: Penumbra, Prestidigitation and Ghost Sound.

The effect was a ghost-like sheet with a face, surrounded in shadow and very faint mist, which made the face glow. Add in the sounds of unearthly moaning (Ghost Sound) and its slow, drifting movement to block the first murder hole and suddenly "Ghost Shirt" was born.

The shirt was used to get a druid with Obscuring Mist as their last spell to the rough middle of the path up the hill where he used said spell to cover nearly the entire thing in fog. The kobolds, seeing the ghost followed by a sudden cloying mist rising (the druid used Stealth to get into position and wasn't spotted) thought the haunting was real and I rolled will saves. 2 brave kobold heroes held their post and fired blindly into the mist after they heard movement; the other 6 fled screaming "GHOOOOSSSTTTT SHIIRRRRRRRTTTTTT!" in draconic.

Needless to say, the PCs made it to the top unscathed.

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So you're gonna be Small sized and also slow right? Don't want to invest in Fleet? Here's some options:

1. Take ranks in Handle Animal and Ride; dominate and train an animal of Medium size that has faster move/different Movement types than your own

2. Take a class or archetype that gets an Animal Companion; follow #1

3. Take a class or archetype that grants access to a Familiar. Now you have 2 other options:

A. select a Small sized familiar and utilize Reduce Person

B. Take the Mauler Familiar archetype; by 3rd level the familiar can achieve Medium size

Alongside these options are 50 GP for a potion of Expeditious Retreat; 750 GP for a wand; (if a spellcaster) 25 GP for a scroll. There are so many ways to gain a little extra move situationally that I don't know that I'd need to spend a feat on it.

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When I GM I challenge my players often, asking them "how?" In other words:

GM: You come to the town gate. A gruff pair of dwarven guards sneer at your approach. "State your business beardless ones!" they grumble. Dwarves are historically not known for their charisma and these two seem exceptionally dour.

PC cleric player: I use Diplomacy to get us past the guard.

GM: Ok... how?

Cleric: Umm... I'm not a very good actor...

GM: That's fine, just tell me how a cleric, YOUR cleric, distinguishes his Diplomacy from that of everyone else at the gate. Tell me your skill roll with that.

Cleric: Well, I... umm... I know Dwarven as a language. I hail them in Dwarven and show them respect, invoking Pharasma as I do so. I got... a 23!

GM: *narrating* The cleric steps forward and in the brute, halting language of the dwarves he calls out a traditional greeting. The guards' faces unhinge, slightly, showing a surprised deference to the man. "May the Great Wheel of Pharasma turn in your favor for the duty of letting us pass." the cleric finishes with a respectfully bowed gaze. "And may Torag's Hammer sing upon your deeds master priest. Pass freely into the town of Brutenheim..."

So I do the same with combat. I don't just ask for what weapon/feat are they using and what the numbers are. I try to get a feel for the PC then narrate the action based on the response of the player.

If you have a Dex-based barbarian who's focused part of their build on mobility they won't be standing there hacking with their greataxe; they're dancing, weaving; the axe twirling even as they pivot on their heels to open their foe's defenses. On the other hand if you have a two-handed reach fighter whose build focuses on the Dwarven Longhammer they may in fact be standing still, but even this should get some narration; the goblin who counted on her size and skill as a ranger 4 to tumble through threatened squares and instead botched it and provoked? You might describe the fighter as patient, pensive; watching for the perfect moment while the goblin's chaotic nature got the better of her. She spun sideways and threw herself on a small stool; not high enough for advantage but a good launching pad for her to bound straight for the fighter's face with her bite but even as she flipped into view the fighter, seemingly unaware of the ranger, spun in place letting the momentum carry the hammer's head out to full reach to meet the goblin ranger's cranium with a sickening crunch and sending her smashing to the floor.

Lastly, as others have said, try never to have fights take place in an empty, 20'x30' flagstone chamber. Goblins leave garbage wherever it falls when they drop it; caves have uneven ground and rock outcrops; even a crypt might have ossuary tables, iron candelabras and wrought-iron fencing framing archways.

This is why in my next game I wanted to play a grippli. Imagine being a creature with a Climb speed and Small to boot. A cave or forest would be a playground! Move 10' to the wall and another 10' up to a Small-sized crevice, hunker down, and throw a javelin; next round jump using gliding to cover the 30' and land directly behind the melee to use your tongue to Disarm one of the orcs. When they come at you backflip (move action 10') onto a low wall of flowstone and throw your net. It would be like playing Spider Man almost!

Anyway PCs should be taking advantage of this stuff. So should the monsters. The more dynamic the environment, the more dynamic the fights can be.

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"Like it or not this is a world built on rules. Some of those rules can be bent, others broken.

You mean, I can dodge bullets?

I'm saying, when you're ready, you won't HAVE to."

I guess what I'm saying is that the Brawler, although non-magical, is more than just mortal. By virtue of extreme training he taps a level of skill that transcends planes. Couple this with body hardening exercises, superhuman athleticism and harnessing parts of the brain and body that lay dormant for ALL other creatures and the Brawler isn't playing by the same rules any more.

THIS is what Irori was striving for. The monks may have mastered their own Ki, but they are still dependent on some force, some power to fuel their incredible abilities. The Brawler does all of this through discipline, training and a willingness to strive for what others will not.

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Throwing Shield on the SRD

Per that I thought it was a Free Action. I almost lost my mind. Even still having the tongue is great for this because whether it's a Standard or Free I can still Throw, then Grab with tongue and with a quickdraw shield I can re-equip for the AC bonus.

"Hmph. What's this? A frog with a shield? What's he think..."

*Shield spins out smashing the bully in the chin, followed half a second later by a rapidly uncoiling tongue. The disk is snagged and snaps back to the grippli who leaps up onto a table 5' away, the device sliding back over his arm all in one fluid motion*

(From the grippli) "I'm sorry, what was that last bit? I couldn't hear it, what with all the broken teeth rattling around in there."

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Well I drew a lot of inspiration from Grimm's Fairy Tales. My homebrew world is home to A LOT of villages, only a handful of towns and everything is separated by immense, epic wilds.

I have things like a young girl tormented by her peers for being an odd loner growing up the daughter of a woodsman on the outskirts of the village. Since she was a little girl she's been sneaking into the verboten areas of the woods where she's lingered among the fey. After a particularly bad bullying she runs into the dark forest and disappears. Three days later an old crone is selling apples in the market. She gives several away to the teens for free; they begin turning into rats. The young girl is nothing more than an Adept 4 with lycanthropy making her a wererat, but the story is she sold her youth and beauty to a fey creature (that I hadn't made up yet) in return for her powers. Now she is turning all her bullies into rats so she can torment them herself. There's also some ratfolk she employs as henchmen. Unbeknownst to the girl though if she remains old and ugly until the full moon (only one night away) she will be stuck this way forever.

The village (or you can make it a Small Town by PF standards) was Hulenburgh. The settlement is just off a main road, along a sizeable stream and right on the edge of the woods. There are areas of the forest regularly plied for wood and resources, feeding Hulenburgh's economy but the local faith of Erastil and Pharasma is represented by a judgmental old priest who preaches fire and brimstone on anyone who breaks the natural laws. The church demands strict adherence to avoiding the Liverwort Cordons; darkened areas of the forest containing toadstool rings, stone circles and other signs of fey infestation.

The girl is Vanya (CN female human shapechanger (wererat) adept 4). Her father, Viktor is looking for his missing daughter. Several teens have also disappeared and graffiti stating "Great fibbling rats" has been seen here and there. The phrase is a favorite of Viktor to describe people he doesn't like. Father Crooknoose, the parish priest (LN male human expert 3) is a non-spellcasting minister whose only function in the town is as an extension of secular and religious law (he's a judge as well). The only magic in Hulenburgh comes from Bryndeline (NG female changeling witch 2), a free-spirited young woman who lives on the far banks of the Hulesrun. Bryndeline fought hard to resist her own call to the darker powers of the Liverwort Cordons that would've transformed her into a hag; now she grows herbs and plants to weave into hex-marked charms to protect herself and others from these powers. Father Crooknoose calls them blasphemous and wants the woman burned as a heretic but Bryndeline also brews potions for villagers and travelers and aids them as a midwife so to date her execution has been stayed.

Is this kind of what you're thinking? If you can use any of it, take it.

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Fortune's Folly? Well of course I heard of it ye skeevy twits! Whereanow do ye s'pose I got this? *gestures to the scarred stump of a left hand fitted with a hook* Did ye's think I lost it to some tickin croc or some such?

*Takes a deep, bracing draft or brandy*

3 leagues deep down the gullet of a dead xorn, that's where I first met the Folly. Oh thar's plenty a ways in lads, and don't let none fools ye. Fortune's Folly is only the name o' the whole kit n' caboodle. Me and mine that day, we was after the gem o' Tycorrak at the heart o' Stoneygut's Den.

The way I hears it told the whole o' the place were afflicted with the 99 curses earned by the dread warlord Thruynn. The tyrant were so hated and loathed that e'en after heapin all 99 curses on him e'en the gods could na' kill 'em so's they buried him down, deep in the earth. O'er time some came to rob him, some ta' worship in blasphemy and some jest ta get in outta the cold.

Anyways that day we was after the gem. A wizard named Tycorrak had harnessed the souls o' barbarians he'd tricked and turned these into gems ta keep the great xorn he'd summoned fed. So long as'n the beast had a morsel he and he alone could descend through it's gullet and down, into the depths. There he kept the bones and blood o' his victims and through cruel magics the old necromancer did make 'em his slaves.

*another draft, and a blood-shot gaze of fear regards the assembled crowd*

No stories and tavern tales prepared us fer what were down there. The xorn yer see, the old frog-squeezer'd tried to dismiss it but the creature would na leave for it weren't no simple stony thing no more. The Folly'd changed it, just like it changes e'erone sooner 'r later. The beast was made flesh by the place and filled with fiendish powers so's the creature tricked old Tycorrak down the gullet one last time and there it held 'im for days. The wizard and xorn was both kilt in the final fight but as a cruel twist the Folly turned 'em both ta stone.

In the depths below we found not a vault or parlor but a charnel crypt o' the worst horror! The blood he'd kept were used ta fuel great cysts on the walls; veins o' dark ichor flowed through the mortar! We'd heard tales o' skeletons and the shambling dead but na like this... na like this...

*the narrator's face grows cold and pallid even as his gaze stares through the embers in the hearth*

They... ate... the flesh, all flesh. And by the gods, somethin' had been feedin' em'. Not whole meals, jest the scraps anow. Jest enuff that they was hungry.

It weren't no simple ghouls what we found down there. They's had no eyes, jest slits fer a nose and twin sets o' teeth, one insides the other. They was hunched brutes these things, clothed in rags and stinking, rotten flesh o' their own barely holdin in the twisted up muscle we cud sees between the stitches. They was the barbarians y'see, from an age past, carved up and cobbled t'gether and given unholy power that the gods willing I'll only see again in me nightmares!

*Suddenly he's fevered, crazed; his good hand snakes out to one of your shoulders*

Don't ye go thar, none o' you! Fergets Stoneygut's, fergets the Folly! Swears t' me anow that ye'll stay the hells out! When I says it changes ye I weren't bein' flip lads!

*he rises, wrenching off the hook from the stump. Beneath is a sickening blackened maw of dead flesh and biting teeth from inside which another set darts out and snaps at the air before the faces of the crowd*


*Before his last words are shouted out the grizzled old man has turned the gruesome necrotic thing on himself. Even as you rise against the horror the hapless narrator is consuming his own entrails with the gnawing stump of his left hand*

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Mathius wrote:

Ahh, I never got into that.

It wouldn't go over my head i would catch it.

Well if you fell in a pit everything would go over your head.

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Mathius wrote:
That would make digging through stone much easier. I wonder how many many hours it takes to dig out a 5 foot cube of stone.

If you have a diamond pick it's only like three hits.

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Thanks for this. Just started a campaign so we're still at level 1, but 2 druids in the party. I'll make sure this guide makes it into their hands.

I like the fact that you point out the value of Small size beyond just being small; Stealth +4. There's also a +1 Size bonus to hit which at low levels is a good thing.

I also was very appreciative you point out the Movement types gained in the form. Flight is flight, everyone knows that one but at low levels give Climb another look. If your GM is like me, sets the game in a forest and has lots of low obstacles like boulders, rubble and scree you know you're going to be moving 1/2 speed and making a lot of DC 5 Climb checks. If you pick a form with Climb speed, suddenly you're moving THAT speed and Run/Charge is still an option; not bad in the early levels of the game.

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Do it DMC! As for me, this thread is giving me tons of ideas. Y'see in my Homebrew the First World rebelled and invaded the Prime for nearly a century in various parts of the world. This global calamity was called the Wilding and brought a host of new and strange fey and what not.

It also caused the land to regress to eldritch wilderness.

These RL plants are a great find. I tell my players "the forest here regrew and is dark and scary" but they don't really respect that in character. When I call for a DC 25 Survival followed by a DC 15 Fort save, followed in turn by excruciating pain and vomiting for a full day of the PC's life for brushing up against a leaf, maybe they'll take note.

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PCs in my game can be created using all Paizo material. 3PP material is allowed only with GM approval. I use PFS starting gold; everyone starts with 150 GP. I used to use a 20 pt buy but in my most recent game we've rolled stats and I think I'll stick with that.

After the game begins the restrictions happen. PCs roll into an area and get whatever resources are there. I have no "magic marts" or wholesale magic item shops, so hopefully the PCs have a way to reliably create their own consumables early in the game.

For instance last night the players wanted to buy a bunch of druid scrolls since 2 of the PCs are druids and one's a hunter. I was like "Great! Now just find the wizard in town that scribes scrolls and pay her to sit and help you make these things, paying full price and spending the time to craft." When my players were a bit taken aback I explained that there's no druid circle in town churning out scrolls so therefore they shouldn't count on these things just sitting on a shelf for them.

Now this isn't to say that they can't EVER have nice things. Like your eastern armor, if there's something cool they want that isn't available where they are the PCs can always use skills, abilities, powers or even quest for the things themselves in order to locate them. I also hand out a free skill rank at creation usable for a Craft, Perform or Profession skill only. This represents a chosen vocation the PC had before they took up the life of adventure. I wholeheartedly encourage PCs to exploit this skill in any way possible for gear and such.

For example if a PC wanted some unique book and had Profession: Woodcutter I'd have them speak with other woodcutters and network; they could also offer to barter wood for service crafting the device; they could even say that they're going to seek out a special tree that a crafter can use to turn into the book and work it into the current story as a side quest.

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Is it terrible that my first thought as a GM was "how do I stat this up as a hazard in my game?"

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The party rounds a corner and nearly slams into a lone duergar at a wide intersection. The palid dwarf-mutant has upon his back a massive double backpack along with a quartet of posts and planks. As the PCs ready their weapons the Duergar retreats a step and gestures plaintively. "Wait wait... you don't want kill Uncle Grystvugkh! He have what you need..." When the duergar grins a pair of centipedes crawl out a dead gap in his teeth.

As the party hesitates Uncle Grystvugkh begins dismantling his great pack. The planks unlatch and connect to the poles, with a tabletop mounted above. Suddenly there are jars, kits, and a few haphazard light weapons laid upon the stall he's constructed. "All good... all FRESH..." the crooked creature gestures to a variety of parts floating in said jars as his hump back is now unveiled beneath his load.

"You like? You no steal, you no cheat, and you no kill Uncle Grystvugkh. He know some, find much and always guarantee wares. You play nice with Uncle Grystvugkh, you get nice things. You wants, yes?" a slick of drool falls to the floor from the man's cracked lips as the thin strands that pass for hair brush over his bloodshot eyes. As vile as some of Grystvugkh's merchandise appears, it looks as if there are some things you might be able to use...

So you have the party meet a "traveling salesman" in the dungeon. Maybe while walking, or maybe they stumble on the guy's "shop." Sure, they might just kill the guy but there's lots of ways out of that. If they question the merchant and why he's selling to them its simple. Kobolds have money and stuff, but sometimes need other stuff. This merchant is simply providing for his customers. Why sell to adventurers? Because he's an opportunist that sells to those who have the money. He has no stake in the game.

This guy can now become a permanent fixture or might mysteriously disappear. You don't have to explain him; better if you don't. Hell, if you want to make him REALLY mysterious, have the PCs run into some ancient heiroglyph that they KNOW is a thousand years old and have the same guy show up depicted in the writing, warts and all. He's ALWAYS been here...

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Homebrew: a "druidic sect" is nothing more than a cabal of witches. They appear beneficial, manufacturing talismans of cold iron, marsh grass and cattail fibers to ward off a nuckelavee. The reality is, through a pact with the fey they cursed a mortal to transform it into the fey creature.

The "Druid Amulets" are all hexmarked (Wizard Mark cantrip or whatever). The trio of witches can hone in on any one of the marked amulets and coerce the bearer to commit some act of degradation against a neighbor, thereby sowing discord in the town. In the meantime some of the cult's "true believers" have been doing damage in the sewers, filling local streams with pollution, etc.

By the time the PCs arrive the druid cult is preaching the end times. The nuckelavee, the avenging spirit of the forest is coming for the town to rid the land of its wickedness and pollution. The streets are stinking, the sewers filled with monsters and the non-believers are cursed with terrible luck.

If you want to be saved all you need do is bear an amulet and commit yourself to the sect. Your commitment will be tested in a favor you'll have to do when the time is right.

The adventure then involves:

1. come to the town and hear the doomsayers
2. venture down into the sewers to deal with the most immediate threat (level appropriate 5-room dungeon); during this section many clues should be dropped to show human intervention in the sabotage of the sewer system
3. confront the cult in town; some decent fighting and the revelation that the hags are behind it all
4. night of the living peasants: the hexmarked amulets kick into high gear turning everyone into brainwashed slaves intent on destroying the PCs
5. after quelling the town's uprising the blight looms large; the former cult members know the nuckelavee is coming. If a CR 9 fey creature is too tough for the PCs have a cultist seeking redemption know a way to block the mind control of the amulets (which incidentally work kind of against the nuckelavee - see below)
6. PCs have to head into the forest to confront the coven in a final showdown. Minions, skill challenge, get physically close to the witches but then the nuckelavee rises; deal with it and finally the PCs go toe-to-toe with the coven FTW

The Druid Amulets are keyed to cast a powerful (DC 21) Sanctuary spell against the nuckelavee. If it fails it's save it considers the bearer an innocent and spares the creature its wrath. Any offensive action the bearer takes against the nuckelavee breaks the enchantment for a 24 hour period.

Can you use any of that?

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Right after I bought the Ultimate Campaign book I thought it would cool to start a sandbox game as follows: PCs begin on the verge of the wilds, each with a Shack (as per the Downtime rules) representing a few permanent peasant cotes or huts they'd built for themselves. This then qualified as a Hamlet; merchants would occasionally come to their settlement to trade but for the most part it would be on the PCs to adventure into the wilds, gather GP and experience and then translate that into Capital. Then on their first mission they accompany a merchant caravan there, save it from attacks and get a couple of the laborers from the caravan as permanent residents. Now these new settlers can be used to spend the Capital the PCs build up.

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I wish I'd found this thread BEFORE I started my current campaign. I give out a free skill rank usable only for a Craft/Performance/Profession skill at character creation but that's it. Then after the game starts I always feel like I'm being a Scrooge of a GM.

I will say though that I used to have people roll their starting gold but then gave them one item needed for the class like a spellbook or thieve's tools. Nowadays I just give everyone 150 GP to start.

I should start creating homebrew campaign traits and then giving them out for free at character creation.

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@ Ash; Hardwares: the fluff on kobolds often depicts them living in the darkest parts of a woodland. Some of the alternate racial traits confirm that at least some of them forsake mining for Survival, Ride, and other woodland skills.

For the guys that live entirely underground, remember: unless immersed in full daylight or targeted with a daylight spell their light sensitivity is an annoyance to kobolds, but not a hindrance. As a result I could imagine that some of their cave chambers closer to the surface might have some grates or holes in the ceiling that allow filtered daylight in. The floor of the cave could be a mix of soil, loam and fertilizer (bat guano and such) and it would watered by ground seep and whatever descended through the grates. As such they could raise some underground gardens and such. Any shade plants that are also edible, tubers, mushrooms and such. Their protien sources could be rats, insects, bats, and larger animals that make their lairs in caves like wolves, bears and what not.

If either habitat doesn't provide all the nutrition they need, there's three other sources they can explore: water (underground lakes, forest streams, etc), economy with other kobolds and the most fun: raiding. Why spend resources farming some underground garden and rigging it all up when, come harvest time, you can just send a few commando teams out to the farmstead nearby to take everything you need?

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Ugh, saw this too late. Still, let me dig around and just go buy it, then send a review anyway. A couple gamers came to my table a week ago and had never heard of Raging Swan, so I showed them Wilderness Dressing, made a few random rolls, and whipped off a quick adventure for them. They liked the book and admired it after we were done; I lent it out but then directed them to the site for more gear. The shadow grows...

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LazarX wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:

In regards to kobolds: unless they trade out their racial traits, they get a +2 to Profession: mining and its a class skill. The standard go-to for a kobold if they're not dying at the hands of evil adventurers is to mine and build traps.

So... mining. Why? What are they digging for, fun? No, generally resources. So if it's not metal, what resources would you mine for?

Stone: I suppose, to build stuff with a la Minecraft

Gems: this would imply they give it to each other, possibly masters, with the gems holding an economic value.

Within all the fluff in the Bestiary ecology I can't find anything that indicates they intended to be xenophobes. In the writeup for them as a race it suggests that there's ongoing relations among different communities of kobolds. Also they willingly knuckle under for monstrous or draconic overlords and will find ways to placate nearby monsters in order to use them as a portion of their defenses.

In short: there's a strong suggestion of economy.

Now all of this is subjective, not RAW. You can do this however you want in your games. In mine I've taken all of this and added it up to mean that a few kobold tribes have been around in one form or another, on the edge of mortal society, for at least 600 years, maybe longer. Some tribes have risen and fallen into nothing while other new ones have been born. One though that's survived since antiquity though is the Rootrenders.

** spoiler omitted **...

They're still xenophobes in regards to anything that's not a dragon or a kobold. (and rivals to other kobold tribes) They view things as evil creatures do, in matters of strength, enslave those you overcome and knuckle down under those powerful enough to enslave you. What you did with the Rootrenders is brilliant, but it still fits within the standard kobold paradigm.

Wait, what was that whole middle part? About me doing something brilliant?


Ok, sorry. I still maintain that, depending on how you choose to interpret the fluff around kobolds there may be an opportunity for economy between kobold tribes. If each tribe is about 200 combatants and then equal that in non-combatants you've got the equivalent of roughly a Small Town in PF standards.

Nachtmoot Market:
Say you have 10 square miles of densely forested hills. Mining below these hills is an industrious tribe of kobolds. They live out of their mines, have a complex of warrens and dens for egg laying and such, and then also have a shrine to their draconic god.

Living in the forest is a second tribe of kobolds. They are adapted for forest life, losing the proficency in mining and replacing it with stealth and survival. They are adept snipers and trappers utilizing ropes in nearly all of their defenses. They make their homes through the whole of the forest, concealing small dens and shrines in the boles of trees, in bough-borne nests and in camoflagued caves.

Yet a third tribe lives in watery caves half submerged in fetid bogs. Along one edge of the woods is a waterlogged vale amid the trees. Due to poor drainage over millenia streams and rivulets have flooded here but never properly run off creating peat bogs and mounds as well as sodden ground for miles. Here the kobolds have mastered not their environment but the beasts therein, replacing their natural mining instincts with dominance over rats, lizards and other bog-dwellers.

Every new moon the three tribes meet. The Nachtmoot Market is held in earthen caves beneath the roots of an ancient oak so great and gnarled that it is larger than most wizards' towers. Here kobold merchants from all three tribes exchange gold and information, attempt to settle petty feuds and plot schemes of revenge against the encroaching pestilence that is mortalkind. Each Nachtmoot begins with the presentation of tithes to the Verdant Queen, an old Green Dragon who makes her lair beneath the tree's roots. Based on the splendor of the tithe she selects a group of kobolds from a particular tribe for the honor of guarding the queen.

While this tithe takes much of the merchant wealth brought to the Nachtmoot, the remainder of the night is spent bartering and haggling with the leftover scraps. Mundane equipment siezed in raids, ore and gems brought up out of the earth, masterworks in leather such as armor and books. The merchants quibble and hawk from their carts while buyers stroll the Nachtmoot with baskets and sacks. Warriors get their armor and weapons replaced or place orders for the next Moot; arcane and divine casters trade spells and tales; the vain and wealthy adorn their tails with beaded bangles to preen for one another.

The Nachtmoot concludes with a ritualized feast. Each of the tribes brings foods and brewed concoctions from their respective regions. Depending on placement at the table, order of toasts and other seemingly innocuous details feuds are either begun or ended. Once the eating finally begins there is an expectation that descision makers for the tribes will resolve business that affects all of the kobolds. Finally the Nachtmoot Market ends with the Oath of Dragonkind during which all three tribes reaffirm not only their love for their queen but their commitment to draconic ideals and their quest for true dragonhood.

Just before dawn while the sky is still gray the kobolds shuffle out, back to their respective quadrant of the wilds. So far no mortal has witnessed a Nachtmoot and survived, though this has more to do with the fact that they are held on the doorstep of the Verdant Queen's lair than the kobold assemblies. Still these gatherings have been reported by captured kobolds under duress and have been sought for an age by mortal adventurers.

So let sound the dragon roarers, let the Market Guard perform the Disarming of the Traps, let the Grand Marshals open the Nachtmoot Market once more!

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In regards to kobolds: unless they trade out their racial traits, they get a +2 to Profession: mining and its a class skill. The standard go-to for a kobold if they're not dying at the hands of evil adventurers is to mine and build traps.

So... mining. Why? What are they digging for, fun? No, generally resources. So if it's not metal, what resources would you mine for?

Stone: I suppose, to build stuff with a la Minecraft

Gems: this would imply they give it to each other, possibly masters, with the gems holding an economic value.

Within all the fluff in the Bestiary ecology I can't find anything that indicates they intended to be xenophobes. In the writeup for them as a race it suggests that there's ongoing relations among different communities of kobolds. Also they willingly knuckle under for monstrous or draconic overlords and will find ways to placate nearby monsters in order to use them as a portion of their defenses.

In short: there's a strong suggestion of economy.

Now all of this is subjective, not RAW. You can do this however you want in your games. In mine I've taken all of this and added it up to mean that a few kobold tribes have been around in one form or another, on the edge of mortal society, for at least 600 years, maybe longer. Some tribes have risen and fallen into nothing while other new ones have been born. One though that's survived since antiquity though is the Rootrenders.

So these Rootrenders have been around 600 years. They've lived most of that within 10 miles of human settlements. Back 600 years ago the humans were going through a little renaissance and upgrading their tech; remarkably at the same time the Rootrenders raided and captured some of their own and tinkered with it. They also mined beneath moors and bogs; those that survived these foolish endeavors finally hit bedrock and strong deposits of ore.

And they worked for a dragon at the time. A dragon that, 600 years ago, dominated a vast shoreline of lake, swamps, and moors.

The Rootrenders, like other kobold tribes of the time collaborated with other kobolds from time to time but often put themselves on a pedestal since they had a dragon overlord. Some feuds arose and the Rootrenders got good at protecting themselves. They quelled uprisings with bribes, traps, and by constantly working on their tech. Acutely aware of their shortcomings the Rootrenders found as many ways as possible to either better themselves or work around these weaknesses.

They developed bizarre religious practices involving damming streams, making pools, and then using alchemy and other means to foul the waters. When they did exceptionally well their black dragon master would "Bless" the pool by stagnating it, imparting a bit of his own power. These became sacred shrines where the dragon was worshipped. Since the dragon wanted to expand the moors and bogs he blessed pools often and in order to ensure he could continue the kobolds would sap and fell trees, burning out the stumps to fill the holes with more water... hence the name of the tribe, the Rootrenders.

So for a brief time hundreds of years ago these kobolds were tops. Then a blasted hero of a human came along and lured out their overlord. The dragon was drawn to fight at a hillside, a hillside covered with trees. He was slain then and the Rootrenders were devastated.

They didn't just go away.

The Rootrenders disappeared for a time, nursing their shame and hate. Their divine casters continued the prayers and rituals, continued visiting the shrines. Some splintered off and made smaller, newer tribes that rose and faded.

Then the divine casters saw that their powers returned. You see the dragon had been very... potent with other beings in the region and created several half-spawn, tatzlwyrms, lesser dragons, and even its own arcane bloodline. Enough of its power continued to survive that it acted as a conduit to the Divine. While the actual dragon was dead and gone, its power remained.

And so the Rootrenders endured. Over the centuries they have splintered and rebuilt several times. They have moved to new caverns, torn down new woodlands and delved into all manner of other pursuits. Every so often an oracle or mad witch comes along claiming there is a way to restore their dead god but these crusades have ended badly so the Rootrenders have become wary of such schemes.

During all of this nearby human society has gone through many changes of their own. The Rootrenders, from occasional raids and with more time to devote to developing themselves have kept up with the times. There have been magi kobolds, they've created slurks, some of the Rootrenders have even learned to express their own draconic power and become demagogues. In all of this, their tech has gotten better.

Modern Rootrenders have established trade with other kobolds once more. They craft in steel and know the mysteries of alchemy, crossbows and arcane magic. While the standard Rootrender is a CR 1/4 warrior 1 they have access to more than slings and sharpened sticks. Instead Rootrender warriors favor shortbows and crossbows, picks and axes as well both as weapons and tools to destroy the hated trees.

They have even developed their own unique weapon: The Rootrender Shovel. It is a 2 handed reach weapon that they can shorten up on and use 1 handed. It essentially looks like a combo of an axe and a shovel, created from their dual need to fell trees and dig out their roots so that they can fill a pit with water in order to worship.

That is the Rootrenders in a nutshell.

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Second session: much better. I think the players are getting to know me as a GM and I'm certainly getting a better handle on them as players. They're all experienced gamers, but not with me as the GM.

Example: last night they had 2 choices to proceed - up an earthen ramp that they could see was covered by arrow slits or squeezing through a Small sized cave. The ramp was steep, roughly a 60 degree grade, requiring a DC 5 Climb check and slowing their speed while they knew that there were at least 2 elite kobolds in those tunnels.

Normally as a GM I would've used descriptive words to explain the hazards. Last night I simply told the players: DC 5 Climb checks and slowed movement or follow the kobolds you know are there into their Small sized tunnels. I think it was fairly liberating for the players who immediately began a healthy and productive debate. Lesson 1 goes to me: be specific, not descriptive in a 3 hr session.

Lesson 2 went to the players: the environment isn't just decoration. I'd put the kobolds behind a bunch of Small sized boulders; still very heavy but movable with great strength or a big lever. In the party is a half-orc barbarian with 20 Str. Her player just sat there while the others debated and she just seemed sort of nonessential so I reminded her that the boulders weren't fixed in place. At this point the biggest debate was how to stop the kobolds from just coming back out of the tunnel and attacking from the bottom of the ramp as well as through the arrow slits. Finally I got fed up and turned to the barbarian's player.

Me: what's your character's Str?

Player: umm... 20. Why?

Me: the boulders are movable

Player: ok, so...

Me: So you can pick up and move the boulders by virtue of your incredible strength, stacking them in front of the cave opening.

What followed was an a-ha look of glee followed by a bit of roleplaying the moving of the rocks.

I am an old-skool GM. I fully intend for my gameworld to be interactive, right down to the rocks. I try to challenge my players to use every resource at their disposal to win through situations. After the specific info and the boulders thing, they really started kicking it into high gear.

They opted for the ramp. They'd captured a kobold scroll of Obscuring Mist so the plan was to stand just inside the ramp and cover nearly all of it in the mist. This would give them concealment as they moved up. For added effect one guy noted that on his equipment he'd brought extra clothes and a writing kit with glow-in-the-dark inks. In a show of humor and roleplaying the players drew a creepy face on a shirt and used Prestidigitation to slowly float the shirt up in front of the first murder hole.


The rest of the session was just a fun romp. The PCs made it up the ramp despite the kobolds getting clever and tossing several flasks of alchemical grease to make it DC 10 Climb and even with some luck catching one of the PCs with an arrow in the mist. Along the way the party found slithering tracks in the dirt, rolled very well and identified it as a tatzlwyrm. One knowledge check later and, following the "Precise" info giving lesson I basically just read out of the monster's ecology and stat block.

Now they're hitting a groove. They get up the ramp, look around, no dragon so they tie off a rope to drop down the ramp for the rest of the team. As soon as one PC has his back turned, the tatzlwyrm comes out of hiding to strike. The PC's wolf AC and the barbarian PC make their Perception checks and act in the surprise, so as the tatzlwyrm makes a partial charge and jumps the rope-tying PC his wolf gets a bite in, dealing a little damage. The dragon then drops the PC from full to negatives (love my charge/bite/pounce/rake attack routine!) and begins to coil around the body as if to carry it away to feast. The barbarian steps up and attacks, missing barely.

Now there's some drama. Kobolds are coming out somewhere else up top in the regular round and getting ready to set up another sniping zone. The PCs are still struggling up the greased ramp and the wolf and barbarian are facing down a CR 2 dragon!

What followed was a nice 2 sided combat. The PCs made their climb checks thanks to the rope but were only able to get into position for fighting the dragon. Then the wizard PC remembers: I have color spray! He dives out, into the open, about 5' from the first kobold sniper. The kobolds hadn't gotten to the Cover yet to actually hide so he's able to see them, so he pops off the color spray, takes out three of the 6 as they're moving into position, and finally the kobolds return fire hitting the wizard once.

The group fighting the tatzlwyrm was not doing well with no hits but thankfully they had it surrounded and it missed with a bite. Then the barbarian risks an AoO that ended up not hitting either to deliver a crippling blow! The dragon went from barely wounded to Staggered at exactly zero HP in one shot!

So in the end the remaining kobolds fled, the PCs coup de gras'ed the foes around them and then they looted the dragon's den. They finished the session by using loose stone and rubble to block off all the kobold exits they could find and fleeing through the last of the mist to camp for the night 4 miles from the dungeon.

Now through email they will relate taking the loot back to town, selling what they can and re-supplying. Then they will plan their next foray into the dungeon. Of course the kobolds won't be so easily taken out next time. The PCs though still have their secret weapon:


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If you make a high-dex rogue and want to get SAs, flank. Right from level 1 you have a built in way to get this going. "But Mark, forsooth! What about enemy attacks, AoOs, etc?" You can walk in the door with a Small sized rogue, 18 Dex and some studded leather on and rock an 18 AC. Just eat the AoO chance. If you have some speed on your PC and can afford to move at 1/2 move, use Acrobatics.

As you level, try do evolve 1 or 2 other ways to pull this off such as feats, summoned monsters, sniping, etc. But never forget when the chips are down that as long as you can find the flanking square and have the Move to get there you've got no excuse to move and murder.

At high level, when everything's immune to SA, try to find a wizard and get him to make you his familiar. Sure you have to wear an imp costume all the time and make silly hand gestures, but it sure beats being destroyed in melee.

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It never ceases to amaze me. Why is it that every player expects their first level 1 adventure to be nothing more provocative than 4 goblins ambushing a caravan? In my experience it doesn't matter if they're seasoned players or not. Its like we GMs are expected to provide a refresher course in the absolute basics of straight up combat and nothing else for the first adventure.

Recently I had a new campaign start. I warned of dragons, gave dragon details in the backstory, and even worked a dragon attack into one guy's backstory with his permission. I also let everyone know there'd be kobolds who've existed here for centuries.

First off the PCs meet their new contact in town: Rowana Thrune, a mousy human female wizard on the small size for her race. She invites them in, casual get-to-know-you in the parlor, then she continues into her hall. Said chamber is bedecked to the nines with all manner of food, wine, beer, etc.

Rowana goes as nuts as the barbarian. We chat, crack some jokes but the players seemed to want to gloss over it so I just narrated. Not a one stopped to quetion how a woman, 98 pounds wet and looking to be in her early 40's was able to put away half a honeyed ham, a loin of lamb, and several other foodstuffs washing it down with an entire cask of beer.

So then on to the adventure. They head to the site, find shriekers lining the shore of a murky bog from the middle of which rises a cliff-lined islet. Theres a narrow landing and a steep rise between the cliffs atop which is the ruin they need to explore. Again, they've been warned of kobolds with lots of history in the area.

What follows was a tactical nightmare for the PCs. Sparing you the details the end result was that three kobold warrior 2 snipers are behind some boulders peppering the party with ranged fire while an adept 3 supports/buffs them. 2 guys not built for range attacking from the shrieker shore, one guy dies getting to the islet, and the last 2 PCs finally make it into melee where the kobolds die like kobolds should.

I gave the kobolds the levels, gear and position I did because the party includes 2 animal companions and are good at melee/short range spells. The particular tactics employed by the party left both ACs, a melee guy and the arcane caster all tactically out of the fight on the shrieker shore.

Later it's revealed to me that the expectation was that, for the opening salvo, the party was expecting 4 kobold warrior 1 on the islet (that's 60' away mind you) pelting the PCs with sling bullets. So 5 PCs, 2 animal companions, and one of the PCs is a druid focused on summoning natures' allies, and I'm supposed to drop in 4 5 HP mooks that can't hit the broad side of a barn from this range? Oh, and even if they do, they're doing an average of... ONE point of lethal damage?

Basically 1st level, 1st adventure, players don't want to think, use skills or do anything overly hard. They want the combat intro, they want to explode into violence and see what their party is made of in a softball encounter so they can gauge how well their powers work together.

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karlprosek wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:
One minute, 36 seconds. In almost the same amount of time it takes to get coffee from a vending machine 6 mites, three giant spiders and four giant centipedes were all killed or at negative HPs. They then swept back through, used Coup De Gras and finished everything, then looted the rooms. It was... disturbing.

In this sort of situation I usually have non-intelligent monsters run away. Most of the time when the stat block says 'X fights to the death' I ignore it. Unless it's something crazy like an owlbear, an animal is going to run if it gets badly hurt. Even in a situation like this, where their mite trainers were probably directing them to fight, once they got under around half or 1/4 HP my spiders and centipedes would have started scuttling for the door.

For kobolds, in particular, if they live in a mine and can build traps, I give them well made armor and weapons, too. And when the PCs got into a fight with them, they took cover, flanked, used narrow passages the PCs couldn't fit through- pretty much what you're saying. And they ended up cutting a deal with the PCs.

Running away; pretty much what started what has come to be known as the "murder train" at my gaming table. Room 1 a pair of mites on giant centipedes as guards. PCs gain initiative, use a light-based Domain power and blind creatures for a round, then charge. One mite survives initial round and flees on its mount. PCs give chase, murdering the creature as it withdraws into the adjoining hall.

2 more "relief guards" make Perception, hear the combat and come to investigate. Same blindness mixed with a color spray, and several rolls later one centipede is confused and both mites are dead. As they moved down the hall towards the secondary guard chamber they disturbed a pair of giant spiders in a side chamber. The PCs noticed them, charged and the spiders were toast.

During all of this one mite sniped from the fourth room down the hall dealing some damage. When the PCs turned it used Doom to no effect, they charged and murdered it finding a mite on the ceiling riding the last giant spider. Said mite tried to flee and was injured as it's mount was killed from ranged attacks and then finally the mite was cloven in twain. At this point the confused centipede staggers drukenly along the wall, earning it the nickname Wavy Gravy and it is summarily executed by the rest of the PCs.

16 Rounds. 1 minute, 36 seconds.

Even taking a 20 to clean up and search they were in and out of these rooms in 25 minutes tops. What do PCs do with the rest of their days? *panting* "Man, that was a good warm-up cardio run. Now that the monsters are gone, you guys want to do upper body or lower body?" Rest of the party glares at the fighter.

Rogue: whatever meathead, I'll be over here stretching

Cleric: Tis a high-holy Leg Day, so sayeth the scripture...

Wizard: umm... I'll just be reading with my cat. Let me know when we need to work again...

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Iris West, Laurel from Green Arrow and Barbara and Fish from Gotham should get together and do a spin off of their own. It would be called The Unlikeables. Also G R O D D!!!

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Alignment isn't really a factor in basic familiar selection. I think the basic ones keep their base alignment, usually neutral. If you get an Improved Familiar later on you'll have to pick one within one step from you on each alignment axis. If you're going to be a paladin too, picking one that is not evil is paramount.

The bigger question is what do you want to use the familiar for? If you're going paladin you'll want one that can stand the rigors of combat; perhaps a basic familiar with the Mauler archetype; perhaps at higher level an Improved Familiar with regeneration.

If however you're looking for a scout to keep an eye out for danger then hide when battle begins look at the Tiny sized flying familiars. They have great stealth and can fit inside basically any environment. They won't do much good in a fight but they could deliver the touch of a healing spell as you gain paladin levels much later.

So, what do you want the familiar to do?

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This thread is exactly why when I make a wizard, at first level I use my Scribe Scrolls feat with starting gold to make a couple 0 level scrolls: Prestidigitation and Mending. I also add Mending to my list of go to cantrips. Finally I put a rank into Craft: Books, usually giving me between a +7 to a +9 in the skill.

If my GM then commits to a waterlogging, firing, acid bath or other destructive action on my spellbook I'm prepared from go. I also make a point to tell GMs that, at night or first thing in the AM my PC maintains his book the same way the martial PCs take care of their armor and weapons.

If the GM calls for detail I'll first start with the mundane. Using my skill in crafting books I clean and wax the outer surface, then fix any fading ink inside. If there's any wear I use Mending to tighten bindings, remove tears, etc. If I happen to also have Prestidigitation studied I'll use that to really clean every square inch of the thing.

As the game goes on I make copies, get wands of the 2 cantrips and, once I can make Wondrous Items or buy them I try to re-create a custom item I had years ago: a Satchel of the Spellbook. Essentially it casts a constant Mending and Prestidigitation on any one book kept inside it for 1 hour. It isn't an extradimensional space but its locked with an Arcane Lock and outfitted with a permanent Resist Elements. The bag isn't indestructible or protected against theft (though I usually cast Alarm on it and should probably permanize that on the device) but it's a decent container at the Mid levels for keeping the primary spellbook safe.

Frankly with my spellbook-using PCs I usually let them get away with using these 2 cantrips and their own natural skills to maintain the tome. I also expect that, in the cases where they know ahead of time they might encounter humidity or moisture they're using proper stowage techniques. In case of unexpected calamity there's a reasonable expectation in my games that the spellbook can be recovered through the application of these 2 cantrips, though they might need to either 1. have them prepared, 2. have them on a scroll, 3. have them stored in their familiar, 4. recall at least 1 from their bonded object, 5. get another PC to cast them, 6. hire an NPC to do the work.

Finally, if all else fails, I would rule that the wizard can find the grooves left in the paper (after drying it out) to restore the spells, so long as they pay the proper cost in GP for scribing a spell in their spellbook. They can use Craft: Books, Craft: Caligraphy, Profession: Scribe, Profession: Librarian (kind of a stretch) or if all else fails, a combination of Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft.

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If the fighter gets knocked into some water, has to make swim checks and ends up treading water for 3 rounds, only to be dragged out onto the sodden banks of a river in a rainstorm, are his armor, shield, or weapons damaged? Maybe there's some rust issues, or a broken strap from the strain of the current, or the wooden bits get warped? No; their tools are fine but if the ogre targets those with a Sunder, that's epic.

In my games its the same with a spellbook.

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Consider: a PC trained with 1 rank in survival knows how to pull together a survival shelter with a few hours work. Four PCs, 3 granting Aid Another to the one guy with the skill, can work for a day to make a decent shelter that'll last a few days in the wilds. If at first level your first adventure brings you up against, say, some goblins in some caves, you have an awesome base for the rest of the campaign.

First you surround the mouth of the cave with a survival shelter. You rest up here for a few days and go through the caves, assessing all those concerns like clean water, dirt and grime, etc. Your arcane caster is spamming Prestidigitation like crazy while your other PCs are using mundane means to sanitize the place (soap and water, smoke, fire, etc).

Now you head back to town, using some of that phat lewt to hire some workers. Said workers build you a couple walls, install a door; you're living very minimalist right now. It takes a couple weeks during which time you're hunting more goblins in the surrounding wilds, defeating low-level evils, and trying to hide from the hill giant and wyvern living at the edge of the hex. During this time you level and a couple PCs sacrifice a couple skill ranks to Profession: Miner and Profession: Engineer.

Now you use your new mad skillz and lewt to really go to town on your lair. You build in some retaining walls and ditches; you vent the inner caves and you seal off the deeper fissures from the livable space. You leave yourself some access to the lower halls for future adventure and expansion. Using Survival you build wood skeins and coat them with mud and clay. Quarrying stone from inside you build up around the circular wattle and daub walls, creating a round tower. This is now your gatehouse for accessing the cave level.

Of course during all this the goblins return, bringing their bugbear brutes with them. A siege occurs but you survive, tracking them back to their new lair and defeating a vicious cult with ties to the town. You're heroes! You've saved people in town, rooted out a major evil and really cleared this hex, making it safe for the first time in years.

You've also grabbed more lewts.

Now at third level you're installing lighting. Your arcane caster starts making Wondrous Items and installs some 1/day create water devices that ensure clean drinking water. The PCs explore those lower halls and find some really twisted fey and vermin. Weeks of hit and run adventures follows during which most of the construction stops and the PCs and their henchmen are nearly destroyed. In the end they emerge victorious once more and their legend, treasury and lair grows.

You've found a modest mineral and gem mine. You won't get uber rich off it but it'll keep a steady income coming in. Some of your henchmen decide to take up permanent residence in the shadow of the tower. They are granted access to the mines by a new tunnel you construct. Now that you're 5th level and you've well explored the hex you leave your burgeoning settlement in order to finally deal with that wyvern that's terrorized the border for months.

A protracted adventure ensues wherin one of the PCs dies and is raised in town. You don't return with TONS of treasure but you keep some in reserve. You've discovered that the hill giant and wyvern were merely pawns as were the goblins. An ancient evil is rising in the nearby mountains and you'll need to be ready. Thankfully, you've got a tower.

You return home and find the mine is well under way. Now at 7th level you pickup Leadership and your cohorts kick things into high gear. Stone quarried in the lower halls is used to shore them up and also to begin building out around the tower. Working with the town for mutual defense you establish a full castle, enclosing your minions' homes and buildings inside a wall. Farms and gardens are established; hunting grounds in the wilds are now well known; through trade with the town raw gemstones and minerals are traded for livestock, tools and other essentials.

Congratulations; you have a village.

Isn't this what EVERY player plans out from first level?

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Experiment 626 wrote:

I think at least one of the potions they find should be labeled "CUR LIT WOONDZ" but is actually Arsenic.

I also think a Kobold with some Vivisectionist/Preservationist levels would be pretty hip to throw in the mix, especially if you can work the Noxious Bite feat in.

There is an alternate trait that gives a kobold a bite attack. A Warrior level 5 is a CR 2 threat, possibly with Said bite attack. Getting an adept to cast Bull's Str on him before he goes into the fight gives you a kobold attacking in melee with a +7 Bite (1d4+3 +1 Acid) that carries a DC 16 Fort or Nauseated for 2 rounds. That is brutal considering just off to the side are a couple warrior 1 kobolds with shortbows waiting to light up the guy hurling on himself for 1d4/shot.

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To all GMs everywhere: nothing in the Bestiary states that kobolds HAVE to have stone age tech. One of my players was frustrated that the kobolds in my game were using crossbows. "They should be using slings" he suggested. That gave me a moment's pause; why would a monster that takes SUCH a hit to their strength use a sling as their ranged weapon?

A kobold warrior 1 is trained to use ALL martial weapons. If you look at the budget for NPCs for basic level 1 NPCs they have 50 GP to budget on weapons. A kobold warrior 1 could be using a shortbow; Free action to load, decent range, 1d4 damage and not dependent on Str at all.

What's the typical image of a kobold? A sneaky little ambush predator that uses traps and alchemical hinderances like sneezing powder to annoy and confound intruders. So, if they can presumably manufacture and utilize these devices, are trained in all simple and martial weapons and can wear armor, why then are they so under-equipped?

I submit to you, GMs of this game, that kobolds do not HAVE to wield stone-tipped spears, slings and javelins. Look instead to acid flasks, bows and crossbows, and if they have to be in melee finesse weapons. Take for example the humble sickle.

A kobold built to trip (not ideal but whatever) could have Agile Maneuvers, Combat Expertise, Improved Trip and Weapon Finesse. This to me looks like a Fighter (Lore Warden) 2. At that level with a simple sickle our little buddy can dart out of hiding (Move 30'), hook an adventurer's leg with a mwk sickle +7 CMB (Trip maneuver) to put that adventurer on his back. We've also outfitted the little guy with a buckler and masterwork studded leather so, combined with a +3 Dex, +1 Natural Armor and +1 Size bonus the kobold is rocking an AC of 19 against any reprisals from melee or ranged attacks by the party.

Now no amount of equipment save magic is going to do much against the party's save-or-suck spells or touch attacks. This kobold however, with reasonable access to some kind of tribal arcane spellcaster, might have spent 25-50 of his AC budget on potions. A potion of Resistance gives him +1 on all saves for the fight; a potion of Mage Armor gives him defense against touch attacks.

Even if you don't use NPC wealth and just look at the treasure for an encounter, 4 kobold warrior 1 is equal to a CR 1 fight. This means these creatures have 260 GP to spend. Giving each one a shortbow, buckler and some acid flasks along with a potion of Resistance means suddenly they're adding anywhere from +1 to +4 to their ranged damage in a round, their AC goes up a tad in melee and they don't automatically fold like cheap suit against spells.

There are a lot of ways to make even kobolds viable. Its time to bring them up, out of the stone age and into the world that the PCs live in.

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Last night I saw the virtue of both sides. Firstly defense: 3 kobold warrior 2's built as snipers with crossbows. They were hiding in Cover with an adept 3 behind them providing them with Bless and Guidance spells. They would pop up, attack, then disappear behind the rocks.

Because they kept denying the PCs their Dex bonus and since that's like the primary source of the PCs AC this defensive strategy aided their offense. They didn't do much damage but they hit often, even from 80' firing at the PCs who were themselves under cover in the woods.

However when the PCs finally got there a barbarian finally got to hack at them in melee. Despite having 2 levels of warrior these hapless kobolds were like sheets of paper compared to a raging barbarian half-orc built for offense. Seriously, she hit the adept so hard as he was running away the spellcaster just disintegrated leaving behind his loot and a blood-mist outline on a boulder.

Maybe there IS a balance after all...

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It really depends on the campaign. If there's a doom clock on the game then You can't really stop to build patio furniture for the lair. On the other hand if you are looking at making frequent trips into a sprawling megadungeon its almost essential that you conquer and secure living quarters somewhere within striking distance.

Frankly the few times I've gotten the chance to play this is ALWAYS one of my character goals. The last guy I played was a gestalt Halfling ranger/cavalier named Bucky. He was a trapper and hunter by trade who just happened to be really good with a sling and a lance while riding his wolf, Blitzer. Anyway, he wanted a locale, part hunting lodge, part tavern for adventurers and travelers passing through this wilderness to have a safe haven.

Bucky's first adventure out involved taking out a few kobolds raiding and living in the cavernous "cellar" of an old ruin. As soon as he was done with the battle he started sizing up the place. Had the campaign continued I'd have asked to fix it up. It was right on a major river, had a couple solid walls both above and below ground and Bucky had, among other skills, Profession: Woodcutter. I figured I could use that to build a kind of survival shelter to enclose the "cellar" level, then as the game went on slowly build up the site.

Sure, some noble might've come to claim it but that's why I took Diplomacy, high charisma, the Trustworthy trait etc. People LOVE Bucky and Blitzer; why would you want to keep him from his dream?

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I think I'm in the camp of saying that priest is a vocation, a profession, not necessarily tied to any one PC/NPC class. I could see a forest expert and hunter being a priest of Erastil. He has no magic but cares deeply for his community and the wilds in the surrounding hinterlands. Folks come by to gather advice, he occasionally sermonizes on topics like conservation and land management and each year he asks Old Deadeye's blessing on the harvest.

He is, however, just an expert hunter who knows a lot about the faith and wants to fulfill its tenets. He may ALSO work with an adept that is the village "witch"; she grows herbs and makes healing draughts but she's cookoo for coacoa puffs so she only works with the priest. He in turn sells this "healing" and uses the herbs/alchemical healing boosters in his own mundane skills.

I will concede though that higher level representatives of the faith would be spellcasters, at least in my game. Having an Aristocrat 6/Expert 8 as the leader of a grand bank of Abadar in a major city seems underwhelming. Sure she can count money REALLY well, knows all the trade laws by heart and is a staunch adherent to the faith, but she can't cast a simple alarm spell!

Or can't she?

Egyptian priests used to "fake it" with magic all the time. They had pneumatic doors, statues that seemed to breathe fire, and other "miraculous" tech. Why can't the parish priest have that?

Go back to that priest of Erastil I was talking about. Maybe in working with the local witch she's taught him how to use a couple wands. Now as an Expert 4 he's got a UMD of +10 and from either the witch or traveling adventurers he's spent his WBL on a small assortment of wands and potions. On rare occasions he attempts to use a 0 or 1st level scroll. Using these sparingly he can deliver healing, deal with diseases and help identify magic items brought back to the village from the dungeon nearby.

If you don't like wands you can give him some cheap, low-level wondrous items. Heck, if he's level 7 you could even have him MAKING magic items.

TL/DR; my point is I think a "priest" can be anyone you want them to be.

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Issac Daneil wrote:

Google search Tucker's Kobolds =D

But yeah, alot of the above; use traps, acid or if your vicious for lvl 1, Alchemist's fire. A couple of kobold sorcerers w/ magic missile is also funny.

Kobold sorcerer (crossblooded; draconic and orc bloodlines) 1 with an acid flask, lots of brimstone, Arcane Strike and Reduce Person:

Before combat - they cast Reduce Person on themselves and hide in a cupboard, under the furniture, etc.

During combat - the spam Acid Splash every round at the PCs, potentially sniping and attacking PCs with ranged touch attacks that also deny them their Dex bonus. He should always have at least partial cover and, when he hits he's dealing an average of 1d3+5 damage.

That's a simple CR 1/2 threat to drop into any kobold encounter.

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Succubus with an MBC. Codename: Futa

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Here's my thing about this whole "the hoard is from what they ate" statement: a newly born, just hatched white dragon, arguably one of the weakest of the chromatics (could still kill me so who am I to judge) is a CR 2 monster with triple the normal treasure for such a creature. They are literally born into wealth.

Add in the fact that these creatures must then eat to survive and do so in one of the most inhospitable climates to humanoids known. Their environment is listed as "cold mountains." So, when they hatched did their parent lure in a party of APL 2 PCs with all of their WBL? And even if they did, how then did said dragon fly under the radar to survive all the way to a Young dragon, some 16-25 years, consuming rich dwarf after rich dwarf and somehow not getting slaughtered by said humanoids with the wealth to murder it all that time.

FYI by the time it has aged 16 years it has to have eaten enough victims to have amassed roughly 6000 GP worth of treasure. In cold mountains. Alone. That seems... unlikely.

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If playing a Str-based barbarian, if all else fails always remember 2 simple words: Hulk Smash. These have gotten a particularly popular character through about 50 years of comics.

Party face: so, will you let us pass?

Ogre just laughs

Barbarian: Sunder attack as a full-round action on nearby large tree; said tree is cloven in twain

Ogre stops laughing

Party face: thanks, we won't be long...

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I don't know whatever happened with this but here was a situation that came up in my game a little while ago. I had the following party:

LG m hum paladin 2
CG m 1/2 elf ranger (dungeon delver) 2
NG m 1/2 elf magus 2
NG m dwarf cleric 2

The scene was that the PCs came upon a bunch of CN fey who'd made it their mission to protect a particular stand of trees which in turn was the easiest way to the dungeon. Of course the magus and cleric basically said burn it down but the ranger and paladin decide to diplomacize since the paladin had been very productive with talking to fey earlier in the game.

The magus also has diplomacy so he joins in. Now I've got the three players chatting and every time I came to the cleric he's just like "I have a low Cha and no ranks in Diplomacy; what am I SUPPOSED to do?" I was handling it like a combat and taking turns, so my next time through when I got to the cleric's player I asked "Do you have knowledge: religion?"

He answered yes so I explained that there was a shrine to Desna amid this stand. He perked up and asked "will the fey let us go to the shrine, pay our respects and then just go on?" I asked him to roll Knowledge: Religion to EXPLAIN the need to the fey. He cast Guidance on himself and then made the roll, using a bit of conversation as a Free action; his total roll came out to exactly 25 which was the DC they had to hit on the Diplomacy.

I asked the player HOW he was saying it. He gave a short speech but then also described how he drew the symbol in the dirt and explained the consequence to the party if they did not observe the proper homage to the shrine. I was really impressed not just with the roll but the fact that this guy was so descriptive after being so glum.

The fey relented. The paladin made another Diplomacy check along the same theme of visiting the shrine and even got one of the pixies to lead them to it. Once there they convinced the pixies to keep an eye out for kobolds; the PCs then made camp just beyond the trees with the vigilant pixies watching over them. The cleric, completing the whole thing, gave the pixies each a Desnan blessing using Knowledge: Religion and proclaimed them the keepers of the shrine. In the game world this is now a thing; if you visit this particular shrine to Desna these "butterfly men" reveal themselves and make you swear an oath of protection to the woods.

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Rynjin wrote:

There's a whole lot of ignorant hostility and nostalgia tripping in this thread.

"Back in my day, men were men and gamers were gamers and everything was perfect and everybody and everything today is doing it wrong *Waves cane wildly*".

Get over yourselves.

Heh. I've been playing these games for 35 years now and despite being a fuddy duddy I have to agree w/Ryn. With all due respect, and I mean RESPECT to the versions that came before and the kinds of players they engendered, I had more negative experiences back in the day than I have now.

Again, YMMV and everyone's game is different. I run PF though and occasionally 1980's Marvel Super Heroes. These are now the ONLY 2 systems I run.

My players either trust or don't trust me based on their feelings, not on a ruleset. They SHOULD know everything; they are all GMs in their own PF games, but I put some monsters or traps or spells out there and they get their heads handed to them. Why? Because PF has a mechanic for knowing a monster by using a Knowledge check and my players NEVER use it.

Players are gonna play. GMs are gonna run. It has been this way forever. When I was a kid I had to kick a guy out of the game for a session because he was flipping through the MM right there under the table. The minute any of my friends took a turn being DM they borrowed the DMG and suddenly they were all rules lawyers yelling at me for doing it wrong. We didn't use maps or minis so we fought a lot over placement and distance.

Now everyone knows everything. There IS a mechanic for everything. These are unfortunate in that I see everyone's point that the games HAVE become more mechanical. However since everyone already knows everything I find LESS shenanigans at the table instead of more. Games are more streamlined. Sure there are now shameless optimizers who break immersion for another +2 but for the most part my players show up to play a game and not to catch me in some terrible ruling or whatever.

Bottom line there will ALWAYS be those players that feel like their game is out to get them. It happened in 1e; it happens in PF; i suspect my friend running 5e has one of these folks. It is human nature to fear relinquishing control to an outside force such as dice or a GM. Let us be human together and game on.

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Ok honestly I guess I agree with Scyth-lord there. I really respect GMs that are like "Oh, you're doing that..." or "you're going there..." and then they roll with it and make something up.

It doesn't even have to be all that great, but just the fact that you're willing to let players get away with stuff is awesome. I had one GM for a 4e game set up a scene where 2 groups living in the sewers converge on the PCs and a battle royale was supposed to take place. I'd done tons of research ahead of time and when the first group arrived I talked them into a temporary truce and negated the entire scene. My GM just kinda shrugged and went "damn, that's some nice roleplaying!" and ended the scene.

Another GM I had in contrast had us finish with what he'd planned early in a game session. I grabbed the map and literally said "what if we DON'T take the road back?" He looked at me as if I'd grown a 2nd head. I gave him a whole suggestion: supposedly there were hunting lodges and villages dotting this lakeshore so what if we cut through the wilds, went through these settlements along the lake instead of the long way back on the road, and maybe we learn a lot of local legends we investigate. This GM ended the game early rather than wing it and then ended the campaign altogether.

I think a great DM is the guy that rolls with what the players do.

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Also... snacks.

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When I make up a settlement I try to randomize as much as possible. I roll up each element; D12 for qualities, 1d5 (a D10 but 1-2 =1, 3-4 = 2, etc) for government type, etc. When it comes time for magic items I randomly roll these too.

The downside is the really bizarre combos. I had a village with a quality that gave it a 3000 GP limit. I then rolled up a random magic item: +2 longsword. WTF? So I just made it a +1 sword.

Then the thought occurred to me: who would need to SELL such an item? I suppose I could have a sword dealer in a remote town but it just didn't appeal to me. Then I thought: what if "sell" is just another word for "trade?"

Think about it: there are MANY adventures that start off with "the PCs will be paid X for going and doing the quest..." so why not use some of these magic items as the promised payment.

Suddenly my whole outlook on all of this changed. Sure consumables might still be sold out of some little shop or off of a cart, but stuff like swords, armor, wondrous items and other permanent "big" items for PCs could be plot hooks.

With the village/sword combo I knew that the area was going to be threatened by the fey so I put the sword in the hands of a commoner. He'll "pay" the party with the +1 longsword if they help rid the apple orchard of a group of mites whose vermin are blighting the trees.

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As mentioned in this thread, everyone messes up. However I'm seeing stuff I do all the time as GM coming up in this thread and my players are not only not saying anything but telling me in feedback that they're having fun. I'm paranoid that they're not being honest with me.

Then it hit me: I don't think I'm having much fun.

I wonder how many of these behaviors stem not from the GM being bad or something but actually from the GM just getting burnt out? The Restarter or Actor immediately jump to mind. I used to be the Actor every game but only gave it up after I finally got to be a player. I restart all the time but I fully admit I have a terrible attention span if the game sessions aren't consistent.

Recently I got invited to run a game that meets every week but only for 3hr sessions. I freaked out and was really nervous about it, but also very excited. The short sessions and the types of players are a total departure from the type of game I have going with another group.

Our first session we only just rolled up characters but here's what I realized: I'm jonesing to run this game for the first time in a long time.

Since we've got such little time to play the players HAVE to get into it right away. From the stories I've heard of their previous games they are all good players mechanically; they understand what their characters do and all of them work to drive scenes and stories forward. Since the game sessions are so short but only a week apart keeping up with the plot never seems to be a problem for them.

I WANT to run this game. I think that goes a LONG way towards being a good GM versus a bad one. I'm trying everything I can not to hose up this new game. Everyone makes mistakes, but I want to stop making them more than once.

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