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Leonard Kriegler

Mark Hoover's page

4,714 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.

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Y'know the ones I never understood? Dwarves.

Look at the OP. Dwarves are fairly long-lived and take 5 decades to hit 1st level. Unlike Elves or Gnomes however dwarves are depicted, at least by the fluff, racial bonuses and Golarion-specific religious focus as being studious, hard-working crafting types. Are they spending 2 decades just mastering how to hold a hammer or looking at rocks?

For all these races, I favor a more mystic approach. They actually live several lives. They are not Time Lords; they do not regenerate. They mature and go off on their first life adventure, or their second or what have you. Some die on these; they are not PCs. Others accumulate miraculous success transcending their race; these are not PCs either.

PC characters are elves, dwarves and gnomes who fall into the average for their races. They have 2, 3, 4, maybe even 5 lifetimes worth of experiences, each time going to some central repository and downloading these into a collective consciousness. Each time they retain maybe a fraction of their knowledge. By the time they are being played as a PC they are off on another whirlwind adventure at the end of which they will either die or be allowed to continue on. They have reached an age where their mental maturity is able to deal with the extreme length of their lifespan.

If this process wasn't followed by the "Elder Races" they would be teenagers with MASSIVE amounts of levels. Imagine if the races learned at the same pace. You could have an elf with the mental maturity of a 10 year old and 20 levels even of an NPC class. I'm just imagining one of my daughters with 20 levels of Adept: "Why'd you call me a name you Jerkhead! YOU'RE A TOAD!"

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Sissyl wrote:
Elven children are morons. So bad they can't be potty trained for decades. It is... An undertaking. Usually, elven children are stored in what is affectionately called 'moron cocoons', cocoons of plant matter and magic that hang from large trees. When the kids finally grow a brain at about a century of age, they are released from the cocoons.

I've seen this posted before, probably by you, and it's always hilarious. Thanks!

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Succubus in a Grapple wrote:

Oh, it feels so wonderful to be so appreciated.

Hugs for everyone!

I'm part of everyone

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Yay for Donna again! I'm sure she had such a short run on the show because Catherine Tate seems to be quite a powerful actress in England (I see episodes of her own show online) but I really wish she could've gone on. Seriously the character of Donna Noble had it all; human frailty, obnoxious behavior to cover it up, and the willingness to fight even with the Doctor when she thought she could do more.

Rose and Martha might've quibbled with the Doctor but when he put his foot down they just sort of resigned to doing what he said. One was in love with him, the other had puppy love for him. But Donna was a companion without being a submissive.

And her story arcs were heartbreaking! Listening to the song of the Ood just to beg for it to stop; having an entire imaginary family only to have it ripped away; missing the man LITERALLY of her dreams as she left the library. And then to end it all by saving everyone and getting to remember NONE of it. That is really tough stuff.

Rose would've crumbled. Martha wouldn't have connected with any of it in the first place. It took Donna, the perpetual temp that everyone underestimated or avoided, to pull off all that. And it took Catherine Tate to make it look that good. Oh, and also she's really pretty.

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@ lucky strike: Well that brings me back to the other point I suggested upthread - maybe if you're looking for magic = special then don't have spells. When people know exactly what the definition and variables are on a "Fireball" spell then handing them a necklace of them isn't going to be exciting. Now imaging a game where you literally have no insight into magic spells at all and your GM gives your caster "a small, bulbous flask which, when thrown explodes and amazing ball of flame!" The PCs still don't know how much damage it'll do or anything.

Would that enhance the magic and make it special? I polled my players and 2 of them didn't care. One said it would be like getting an alien laser pistol but not knowing it was an alien laser pistol and so you end up calling it a Sunray Wand or something. The last player of the 4 just said that sounded annoying.

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For folks that say magic items = rare and precious why not just houserule: no magic items can be bought, period? I'm not being snarky it's an honest question. Sure there are still crafting feats out there and everyone's free to craft on their own but literally no one in the entire game world will sell them, not even the consumables. The only way magic items then change hands are by gift or force.

If the PCs want to start off at first level with a potion of Cure Light Wounds they either need to have the crafting feat or have done a special favor for a church/witch/bard etc. When they hit 2nd and they want a wand, they have to go on a quest for that crafting entity or have earned their trust already. At third level the greatsword wielder better either be happy with the +1 hand axe they found in the loot pile or he better be willing to go on another side quest.

Rather than make a bullet pointed list of how they buy items or where or whatever, just remove buying. I know my own players have said they don't enjoy side questing for specific items but maybe yours will and that will make them so much more precious yes?

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Simon Legrande wrote:
DungeonmasterCal wrote:
I've run both, and I much prefer the heroic gaming style. I love the reckless, daring acts, the close calls, the edge of your seat brushes with death. Man, that's fun stuff.

To me, that's the whole point of playing. I want to be a heroic hero who takes crazy heroic risks. I have a house, kids, a job, and bills in real life, I game to escape from that for a while.

I will say this though, having ADD can make ignoring the asides and OT conversations incredibly difficult sometimes. I'm one of those people that takes a bit to get focused, but once I do I'm good to go. Sometimes it's really easy to get knocked out of that focus and off into la-la land.

I think this is how I feel about darker-themed games. I add horror elements in my games and sometimes the heroes lose but overall I tend to stay away from the completely dour game. IRL I've dealt with some truly dark stuff, family issues, death and loss of a very personal nature. I lose as many life-conflicts as I win.

When I game I'm looking to escape that for a time. I actively pursue a game where fantastic things happen, heroes get rewarded and doing the right thing works out.

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Y'know what I think makes magic so dang commonplace where players lose their sense of wonder? Spellcasters.

Seriously. All the magic shops in the world can't compete with a guy, in the party all the time, who with the right spell selection can do nearly anything everyone else can do and at least once/day win just about any fight.

Also think about it. Even if you sold items to the party without spellcasters you could describe ANY effect they perform and it would seem amazing. "This blade is forever sharp, clean and pure. What's more it traps even the most miniscule motes of light from the deepest shadow and amplifies them so that it always glows from within!" Then the wizard steps up and goes "Prestidigitation and light? Big whup."

Not having magic items being sold because it breaks player immersion or engagement or verisimilitude or whatever the right phrase here is just does not compute for me. If we want wonder at the power of magic then it can't be codified, quantified or even identified. Once it is, it's not wonderful anymore. Amazingly any spellcasting class, even bards, do this instantly just by existing.

Anyway sorry again for the rant. Really, I'm sorry.

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Earwings is banned for overuse of dramatic lighting

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Here's one I stole from the old Batman: The Animated Series cartoon. There are several canopic jars with symbols on them. Later there are alcoves in the walls with corresponding symbols. Specific jars placed in the right spot to match up the symbols unlock a passage.

Similar thing happens in the movie The Fifth Element. The female protagonist gives the hint "wind blows... rain falls..." and so on. The other protagonists have pylons that need to fit to pedestals but then need to be "opened" through the use of the elements they align to. The one for air for example needs to be blown upon and the one for water has sweat dripped upon it.

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I have these giant retail outlets built in enormous warehouses. They have a blue sign out front that says "Magci Mart"...

Seriously, I don't know a single GM IRL that actually does it that way. I also don't understand the other extreme where NO ONE sells magic items or it's highly restricted. What sense do extremes make in a fantasy setting?

Anyway, netiher of those work for me or my players. If it does for others then I apologize for any malignancy in my above statement. It wasn't meant to inflame.

So in my games I ask the PCs what they're looking for. I also have random items in the settlement per the settlement rules in the Gamemastery guide. Finding these items for sale takes a little effort; they need to use either Knowledge: Local or Diplomacy or some other method to find them. DCs are usually averaged to the level of the PCs or maybe lower depending on the item requested.

Then the actual purchase. I don't have "magic shops" but rather traders, merchants, artisans and common folk who are willing to part with these fantastic items for a price. Once I had a PC looking for magic armor. The settlement happened to have a set of Chain Mail +1 so I had the party roll Diplomacy to gather info. Turned out that a former militia soldier of the town had been an adventurer in his youth but now was old and infirmed. His granddaughter had come of age but also was beginning to develop latent supernatural powers (budding sorcerer). He wasn't going to be around to help her but in a city nearby there was a college of the arcane where she could train and study... if only she had the money.

The PCs met the man, brief RP ensued and they bought the armor. Felinda took most of that, hired on with a trade caravan headed for the city and went to pursue her training. Had the campaign continued I might have kept her as a potential NPC.

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There's this article in an old thread I res'd here that I want all my players to read. At least point 1 and 2 anyway. I can't stand it when folks make up a PC with a backstory and then are passive and expect the GM to play it all into the game for them.

I had a dwarf cleric of Desna - an interesting choice but hear me out. His backstory was a little different than stereotype dwarves. The setting we were using had a really rugged hills/cliffs area along a big river that had once been dwarven territory. My guy was part of a mercenary band of dwarves that were once from the area but had no illusions of retaking it for their people.

They were mercenaries. They wandered the wilds doing jobs for anyone, including goblinoids. My PC was born into bondage when his father, a merc soldier took a young dwarven girl as a slave. She was, *ahem* useful to the others in the clan until I came of age at which point she murdered her pimp/husband and staked herself as a soldier of the crew.

So my guy is raised by his fiercely independent mom but within this crew of mercenaries. His "uncle", boss Thane was the leader and kind of a reprobate (LN) who had honor but would literally take any job. My guy grows up trying to dissuade the guy from taking certain bounties all the while learning to be a soldier.

The last job the crew takes is working for a hobgoblin warlord. My guy attempts to abstain, gets nearly killed for insubordination and eventually finds himself afield. The dwarves win but while they're recovering the warlord sends in more troops to kill them. With the double cross on Uncle Thane gets shoulder to shoulder w/me and repents for his terrible decision saying we're all free if we survive.

My guy dies on the field. He's saved by Desna and becomes a cleric after coming back to life. A few other mercs and my mom are still alive; Uncle Thane held to his promise and they all now live in towns around the area.

The whole point of this detailed background is to explain my skill in Profession: Soldier, my feats and traits around endurance and armor training and also my faith in Desna. My from the backstory I also played up that, in towns and villages I might "know a guy."

So we start playing and I go into soldier mode. I talked like my brother did when he got out of basic saying things like "We need to get squared away" or calling it KP instead of cooking. Then we get into town and I'm asking about dwarves who might live in the area to see if I "know a guy" that might help. Finally I almost got the party to force march simply because that's what I'm used to.

My thing is, like point 2 in the article above you can't put something in a backstory you're not willing to play. Also try to actually RP your guy and don't just say "it's in my backstory" or whatever. I'm not saying that you have to be an expert orator to have a Diplomacy skill or that you even need to talk in character to use said skill but don't give your PC that skill if you're not prepared to at least describe using it. Just saying you have/are something isn't enough in my book to say you STILL have/are it.

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Taliesin Hoyle wrote:

"My character is a beautiful blonde with big t$%#.

.She's a lesbian."

How appropriate that your avatar is a hand.

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Have the barbarian charge who cares.

1. villain starts monologuing
2. Surprise Round! Everyone roll Sense Motive vs villain's Bluff if he's toting a hidden crossbow; otherwise villain vs barbarian's Bluff to anticipate the charge
3. fight ensues; villain, so confident in their master plan CONTINUES monologuing while fighting because talking is a free action

Nothing like Baron Boilface easily sidestepping the barbarian's clumsy charge in the surprise round and momentarily pausing in his monologue to comment: "You see? You are nothing but impetuous children. This is why my plan will succeed..."

Then WHILE fighting he continues

*Baron 5' steps, power attacks barbarian and deals 62 damage plus Fort 22 or 1d4 Con from poison* "...and now at the zenith of my power, my glory is nearly at hand! I have already set things in motion..."

*Baron survives party's onslaught and flies into the air, fireballing the party for 150 damage* ... so that, even if you slay this pathetic mortal form before you the comet will still strike the coast, sinking your wretched kingdom into the sea, while my soul will merely return to it's phylactery. I will rise again in possession of a new body, perhaps even one of yours, and my victory will be COMPLETE! AHAHAAHAHA!!!"

Yeah, that happened. Blam. You're welcome *mic drop*

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Do it like they did in Unbreakable by M Night Shymalan. Do the whole monologue in flashbacks. "Now you know who you are; now you know who I am. I should have known. It was the kids David. They called me Mr Glass."

I love monologues. As a GM I try to work them in though my players always spoil them. When I'm a player though I always make a point to sit up and listen and play up my PCs reactions. I'm a sucker for comic books and by that I mean good old fashioned super hero types. I suppose I have monologuing villains on the brain.

As for why villains do it? Are you kidding? I do it in my daily life, though not as grandiose. Who here can't say that, every once in a while when you feel you're right about something you don't explain HOW right you are? Congrats - you're monologuing. Now pretend that by explaining to bob in accounting how you were smart enough to manipulate Sarah into going out with you as part of your master plan he becomes so enraged that he and his three friends pull their medieval weapons and fantasy spells and begin trying to kill you. Who cares? You pull a level, drop through a trapdoor in the floor and the entire inside sales team of expendable minions keeps them busy while you escape.

Did I mention how into comics I am?

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Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
Curmudgeonly wrote:
What level are the adventures? Are they tied together in any way or are they just standalone?

Just as an FYI for later on this fall, our next book release will be Cults of the Sundered Kingdoms which include not only a gazetteer of a good portion of the Sinnar Coast region (the poster map with the prior Barakus KS) but also an AP for levels 4-13.

It'll include updates of the three classic Necro adventures Morrick Mansion, Aberrations, and Crystal Skull (a less-known gem) as well as the addition of the three new adventures Beasts Among Us, Shades of Yellow, and Vengeance in the Hollow Hills. The gazetteer will feature the regions/kingdoms/areas that make up the Sundered Kingdoms and consist of:
The Matagost Peninsula
Ramthion Island
The Duchy of Southvale
Old Burgundia
The District of Sunderland
Kildren Point
The Wildlands
The Giantlands

Basically everything south of Endhome and north of Hawkmoon (and east of the Trader's Road).

It will also include a chapter detailing the 13 demonic cults that have great influence in the entire area.

But that is a another story...

I wish this one was first. I have 2 FGG books, full of random encounters alongside setting-size megadungeons. Both however tease me with references to a larger setting I can SEE in glorious full color (the Sinnar Coast map from Barakus) but I know NOTHING about.

Why is the land lost? What are these districts/provinces/counties of? Who are the traders on the Way named for them and which king gets their own road? I could of course make it all up, and indeed I've been puttering with ideas for just that. But then I see this book is on the way and a full setting book to follow so I wait and bide my time.

But the Frog God is cruel. He taunts me with MORE adventures for now; more ways to distract myself and kill time until the product I want comes. Vile deity; your schemes vex me so. I am vexed.

Also I still haven't had the conversation with the wife about pledging at the signed copy level, so there's that...

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I don't know between funny and not, but I prefer fun heroic games instead of grim and gritty. I like Indiana Jones and Star Wars because there's heroes, villains, escapes close calls, danger and romance. While I occasionally watch your Game of Thrones or Supernatural or what not, I wouldn't want to PLAY there.

In other words more The Hobbit, less Lord of the Rings. Does that make sense?

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Some handy tips from my own recent experience trying to sandbox:

- tie the PCs together as a group or else let them develop motivations as the game goes on. A couple of my PCs had motives based on individual backstories and as a result they argued over going after the paladin's mcguffin or the cleric's revenge kick.

- actively/publicly incentivize exploration. It might be as simple as "thar's gold in them thar hills!" to telling the players outright that if you discover a secret area in the dungeon and survive it'll unlock some hidden ability in them and you'll hand them all a free trait bonus or something.

- watch for the player with analysis paralysis. So far I've cycled through 2 groups of players in this sandbox. Both have included at least one guy who, faced with an open world and near-infinite plot hooks simply shuts down and stares blankly as his mind seeps out of his ears. Some players NEED to be led; if this happens talk with all your players and see if they'll work out a "leader" to decide missions to take, directions to go etc.

I'm sure you already know all this Mighty J. As long as I've GMd though and even having run sandboxy in the past I still got caught up by these so I figured I'd share. Enjoy the game it sounds totally RAD!

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Now that I think of it I had a bad backstory of my own. This was back in 2e and we were playing D&D in the Forgotten Realms setting. We start up a new campaign and the previous one had been very tragic and "dark world" kind of stuff so the GM says he wants to try and change it up.

We break for a week and meet back up with our new 1st level characters. We have a jedi-style fighter who has a dark and mysterious past; a dwarf cleric who was forced to witness the destruction of his entire clan; a ranger hell bent on revenge for the murder of his wife and children. Then they look over at me:

Arlyss Coranth, AKA Arlyss the Gaunt. He's basically Ichabod Crane; a really tall, gaunt man who up until now has been an absent minded school teacher/professor type. He got his start at adventure late in life though he's an expert sage who travels and gives lectures all over the region of the realms. His path to adventure came after writing a dissertation on the elves and his work helped secure a truce between them and some human woodsmen. To reward Arlyss for his service they taught him magic. Oh, and he's working on a 9 volume set of teaching spellbooks he calls the Coranthium.

... dead silence. I look around the room. "What?" Turns out the GM wasn't turning over a new leaf at all and it was supposed to be another dark world. It ended up being fun to role play though. The other PCs would walk around all grim and gritty and then here comes Professor Gaunt, stumbling in with an armload of books and scrolls and maps, adjusting his spectacles and his balding black hair tied in a pony tail and spouting some rambling lecture on the historical significance of lantern design.

I never really did fit into the game though and the campaign ended prematurely. Still one of my own personal faves though.

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Watch out though; some houses have PCs of their own under their control. They are called House Parties - they made a bunch of movies on the subject back in the 90's.

Also check for vermin; houseflies are no joke.

Some of them can be beneficial though. There is a famous physician house that they made a tv show about so the construction may provide healing.

Oh and finally check the elevation of the place before you attack. Hill House is notoriously haunted and evil.

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@Kydee Lang: I hear you and sometimes the PC doesn't gel in your own head until after you've played them. I'm not talking RP though; that does come with playing the PC. I'm saying backstory.

By that I mean: how did you come to have those traits? Why the battle axe over the greatsword? Did anyone teach you Power Attack or is it more like some preternatural knowledge you were born with?

For example, let's say I don't know how to play my Halfling ranger and can't express him very well to the GM or even myself at the first gaming session. I do know however that I gave him the traits Reactionary and Friend of the Fey. Why? Because I wanted the Trait bonuses. But what do those choices say about the PC?

Well with a bit of thought I decide on a very simple explanation: I had a bully, befriended a pixie, and they helped me deal with my enemy. I hand that over to the GM as my backstory.

Now a bad GM asks for a backstory then disregards it. A decent GM might take my 1 sentence and go "Fine; you know a pixie" writing in a friendly pixie contact to their game. A REALLY good GM though would work with me and ask more questions like: what else did the faeries teach my PC? Is the favored enemy I took at 1st level tied to my experience among the fey? Do you expect anything more from this pixie like fey-enchanted items and, if so, how will you repay them?

I guess I don't need to know every nuance of the PC before they ever hit the table, but if I ask for a backstory I'm looking for some explanation of why they are.

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Wait, for ME IRL? Oh then of those 4 DEFINITELY Draconic. Are you kidding me?

*In line at Caribou*
Barista: Next!
Me: I'll have...
*Guy in a suit on earbud cuts in front of me* Gimmie a large Americano
*Claws and wings* Me: BY THE HOARY HOSTS OF HOGGOTH THIS SHALL NOT STAND!!! *shreds 3 piece suit while cutter flees in terror*

Of course any sorcerer bloodline gives you spells that automatically do the same thing, but to be able to proudly say that the blood of DRAGONS runs in my veins? Yes please!

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This topic is SO ripe for plot hooks I can't stand it. There's the villains going about the "beautiful" people making them ugly; there's the oppressive government weeding through the undesirables who become resistant to the anti-ugly magics; there's cosmetic merchants selling "beauty in a bottle" and ending up with BBEGs modeled on Batman villains like Clayface, Joker, Killer Croc or Poison Ivy.

Seriously there are a million different ways this could break bad. Comic books have sustained themselves for decades on this simple premise: what if we eradicated ugliness. It's been covered from Judge Dread to X-Men and more.

In the end it all comes down to this (for me anyway): individualism. If everyone were beautiful, then no one would be. Couple this with the ever-enduring desire for sentient beings to at times feel unique and special and I don't think you could possibly achieve what the OP was suggesting.

Incidentally I had a plotline kind of along this tack in a previous campaign. A fey Eldest banished from the First World was imprisoned in a mirror when she tried to cheat at a "fairest of them all" competition. Even though she was the most beautiful her cheating got her bounced.

Her only escape from her prison was to possess a mortal shell. She had mortal servants steal her away to the Prime, then commandeered a handsome lord with a comely wife. From these and other pretty servants on the lord's lands a breeding program began. 7 generations later the PCs came along and the town was holding it's annual "Fairest of them All" contest. Oh yeah, and the fey queen's minions were hags and ugly witches. Good times...

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Not to hijack my own thread, but @ Troy: I don't need a great background, only a good one. When considering a new PC in a homebrew game with people you don't know, follow the KISS method.

In other words instead of detailing his whole life prior to the first adventure, consider key points. Help me understand in very simple terms

- why does he adventure?
- what's his most importatnt memory?
- what does he look like?
- how did he acquire power?
- does he have goals/ambitions?

Consider your guy
NG male human summoner (master summoner)2

Key features might be
- summoner was an outcast for consorting with extra-planar beings
- pursued forbidden lore; befriended eidolon
- first adventure was a solo exploration of a ruin; he found a site where the Prime and the Etherial met and barely escaped with his life
- he's tall, gaunt and bony; he often forgets to eat while researching
- His eidolon has helped him understand a handful of heretical planar tomes he constantly studies for power and research
- his dayjob is crafting leather goods; he intends to create bindings to solidify ethereal creatures who escaped into the prime for study and research before releasing them back into their home plane if he can

All of this might be summed up in a simple background:

Bob the Summoner hailed from a small village where he was shunned as an outcast. The son of a tanner he learned enough to pass as a journeyman and earn his keep as he wandered the lands. One night bob took refuge in a ruined tower where he heard the whispering of alien words. Instead of fleeing in fear he followed the voices and met his eidolon; a winged creature of otherworldly origin.

The poor creature was dying. Bob offered to help in any way he could and agreed to an arcane pact - in exchange for a bit of his own mortal life he would learn powerful planar spells and summoning. No sooner had they bound to one another though than another creature of the aether arrived. Bob and his new friend barely escaped with their lives.

Since then Bob's wanderings have brought him to many other sites of planar intersection. In such places he has found scrolls, tomes and other missives detailing the weird happenings. Through the aid of his eidolon Bob has begun deciphering the lore and making sense of it all to further his own studies. He is a tall, gaunt young man prone to absent mindedness; when lost in research he often forgets even to eat.

In several instances Bob has seen the ravages of planar creatures. He is convinced however that many, like the fey are trying to find a habitat close to their own alien worlds in which to settle. Unfortunately such adaptation is not possible in the Prime for these expatriates. Bob has therefore made it his mission to study and catalog these creatures while working to pacify and ultimately return them to their native planes. Of course not all such trespassers are merely confused wanderers; for villains of the planes Bob is prepared to deal out the ultimate penance.

Now the above is really flavorful and flowery, but yours doesn't have to be. It does several things though for me as a GM:

1. Bob has a family, even if they don't like him. What if they suddenly want/need him back home? PLOT HOOK!

2. Bob has already visited some small and preveiously explored adventure sites to obtain knowledge for his studies. What if the lore he's gathered points him to one that HASN'T been picked over yet? PLOT HOOK!

3. I know that bob is on a mission with specific goals. This can easily be broken up and translated into occasional adventures specific to him. PLOT HOOK!

Simple, direct, meaningful. That's all I'm looking for.

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I usually work off of a 10 people/home and 4/shop rule. I also like to locate key features obvious to the city; the market(s), the main entry points in the wall and the primary defense (simple keep, full castle, palace, etc). From there I spiral outward putting the different classes of folks together.

I would suppose that merchants and traders want to be as close to where the goods come in as possible; this puts the market on the river or near the main overland gate. There might be a secondary commerce center elsewhere but this'll be the biggest one. Near this you want businesses that serve transient clientele; warehouses, inns, cheap entertainment and livery care and storage.

The wealthy want the highest level of protection so I typically add them near the primary defense. These folks also want decency and culture, so they might also have outdoor space, intellectual or decadent entertainments, and dining experiences available nearby.

Most people live and work in the same place unless the business requires tons of space or is otherwise dangerous. Modest shops don't need to be placed on the map; assume they're right in the homes you're drawing. These would be weavers, simple smiths, cobblers and such. Think of any business you could run out of your home with hand tools without much risk to life and limb and you can understand what I'm saying.

This leaves highly skilled, dangerous work to be segregated away from homes. No one wants to live right above a poulter, abbatoir or a slaughterhouse. A tannery is not only stinky but might also have dangerous chemicals piled about. These kinds of businesses might either exist outside the walls, in their own district or perhaps cordoned off somehow and scattered within lower income districts.

Will the town have guilds? If so give them a place or places to meet. Churches also fall into this category and can be scattered or located near specific features. If you're using the Golarion core gods and following the traditions of the setting, chances are you have a single church or maybe only a couple houses of worship containing shrines to allied deities.

Finally you need to think about civic works and life. Do they have running water? How is waste handled? Street lighting, prisons and justice, pest control and charitable doles; all of these can shape the city depending on their prevalence.

There is no "formula" for crafting a city. As I started out saying, I use roughly 10 to a home and 4 to a business. My city blocks are usually about 10 buildings each, with 4-6 blocks making up a ward or district. Based on these numbers and my arbitrary location of the major features, I can usually sketch out a city in about an hour. It looks terrible (I'm not an artist by ANY stretch!) but it's enough to give my players a sense of where they are and what's going on. Hope all that helps!

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I use either a flip mat or some kind of dry erase surface and draw out the dungeon as we go. I could have a player do it but it often gets mixed up. Also I've used Dwarven Forge 3d tiles or homemade ones made with Hirst Arts molds.

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Lathiira wrote:

If it worships Zon-Kuthon, is it a House of Pain?

What if it worships Desna? Is it then a Dream House?

Worships Saranrae: House of the Rising Sun

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I still keep coming back to Donna in the library episode. Martha, Rose, Amy; I could see them saying "sorry darlings but you're not real - I have to get back to the Doctor" but not Donna. Come hell or high water she was going to fight for every second with her pretend husband and kids. That was touching, sweet, human and heartbraking all at the same time and in a way I haven't seen in Dr Who before. Sure Amy wants a family but she has Rory with her most of the time. The other companions, even Rose, got to take their significants with them from time to time. Donna is the one who suddenly had someone significant in her life, some people to really love and care for, but she didn't get to keep them.

That, the miming through the window bit, and Donna running in that dress in the Pompei episode. You guys can all keep your Perris and Leelas and such; Donna's the total package for me.

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*Thread Res*

I found this thread by typing 2 simple words in the messageboard search: Donna Noble

I watched Who as a kid in America but it was too weird for me to really appreciate at the time. I remember thinking it was a fun, rubber-monster way to watch hot girls with British accents run around. Of course then I saw the episodes with Tom Baker and Sara Jane and my mind exploded.

I lost interest with the arrival of the 6th doctor and didn't watch anymore. I saw the Fox made-for-tv special and got excited, but that didn't go anywhere either. Then I caught Eccleston and Tennant episodes on Netflix and sure, Rose was kind of cool and all but it was just so...DRAMA all the time.

I just couldn't get myself re-addicted to Dr Who. Then Donna arrived.

I REALLY wish they'd done more with her. Catherine Tate is freaking hilarious alongside being a really good actress IMO. Seeing her and Tennant miming to one another through windows when they finally reconnect was absolutely priceless!

But more than that, she didn't instantly LOVE the Doctor as the other nuWho companions have. I'm sure Donna was at some points attracted to him but there was no soap opera love thing going on. But more than that she was more human than a lot of the other companions I've seen in a while. She wasn't particularly smart, or brave, or strong. But she was loud, insecure, and her heart was ALWAYS in the right place.

I honestly felt for the character when she had kids, KNEW they weren't real, and still sat with them for one final bedtime. That was the real deal, I don't care who you are.

So for this thread, fave companion, I'd give it to Donna. Balsy, brash, easy on the eyes and on top of it all... scared. Exactly what I picture a real person would be like if they went off on adventures with an alien.

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Folks, we have a company that is willing to hear and sometimes respond, in real time, to our concerns about the rules. They have also hired someone recently whose stated role, among other things is to answer FAQ requests and make clarifications.

I don't think we need a new edition.

What we need is to have access to these FAQs in errata updates, which we have and to make some judgment calls of our own once in a while. Also Paizo announced a new project suggesting alternate rules to adjust some of our pet peeves like Rogues, martial characters and monks. Use these.

I have been through this ringer with D&D. I really don't want to keep re-buying books and re-learning a game every 5-10 years. Tinker Paizo, please don't overhaul.

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Just an FYI: an upcoming book announced at Gen Con is going to offer a revised rogue.

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So... the rogue is getting a revision?


*starts Snoopy dancing*

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Talk with the player. Really talk to him. Ask him why he wants to drown out others when he is center stage. I'm guessing in combat he is also very aggressive; ask why.

Often the combat-focused player is looking for more of a board-game like experience. They want action they can get behind, beat some foe, and move on. Ask this player if they want to instead play a board game with you from time to time. I find Talisman or Descent are fun for this kind of outlet.

I had a similar situation. I moved years ago, had trouble finding a group but when I did 2 of the 4 players I was able to find were extremely combat focused. Even today, 6 years into playing alongside one of these folks he's still extremely bored unless we're in combat.

When I chatted with him I realized that for him the tabletop RPG was just another battle simulation like his favorite video games and board games. His gaming represented an outlet from the banality of every day life but also gave him some foe he could best, some mechanics and data he could manipulate and optimize and "win" with.

My latest attempt at a compromise was a megadungeon. Folks think of these kinds of games like mindless, endless slogs through room after room, but I don't run it like that. There's a lot of combat, to be sure, but there's also sentient monsters and not all of them are purely evil. In my game we've seen:

- a LN kobold "courtesan" that smuggled the PCs into a brothel in the dungeon

- a homemade pixie variant, many of whom have interacted with the PCs and watch over the dead

- a weapons maker and merchant who utilizes the PCs to gather materials for her

The players can also leave and go back to town, which bores this combat focused player. I once asked everyone to describe their actions back in town and this guy did "nothing" so I would periodically ask for ever increasingly hard Fort saves. His PC literally just stood in the town square for a day, staring into the sky, exposed to the elements and such until he finally collapsed and had to be cared for by a healer.

The other thing to think about if you've had this talk, want this person in your game and he's aware of your expectations, is consequence. Give him a reason to interact with the fantasy world and lay out what could happen if he doesn't. If he still sits out, stick to your guns.

Perhaps there's a petty noble who wants the PCs to raid a ruin. Your man sits on his DS and ignores the roleplay. The noble announces that for his "heroes" he's going to anoint them with holy oil in a ceremony. If this guy still doesn't care, everyone else in the party gets a temporary boon that gives them +1 to hit and damage in the ruin and a 1/day fire effect that adds +1d6 Fire damage to their weapon/ray attacks for 1 minute.

Turns out one of the main baddies is vulnerable to fire. Everyone else is whomping; this guy is dealing mediocre damage unless he's got a flaming weapon.

You could also have him receive less treasure, get attacked for his reputation or have his silence read as insolence and have his character get locked up/arrested/hunted down by an important NPC.

Finally if you want to look for players online these boards have recruitment threads. If its a game IRL just put that in the thread. There's here in the states; don't know if there's anything like that in Canada. Also troll the local gaming/hobby stores or look for Pathfinder Society events in the area. Hope all goes well.

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Playing off Saturn's hook:

The faith of Saranrae is one of healing, of redemption. We bring the light with us and we wish for all people to see that light within themselves. There are some though who are beyond redemption.

For every light, even that of the Dawnflower herself, there are shadows.

You four are those shadows. Born of the holy radiance but existing just outside its reach. Yet you are connected, as one with the church and the faith.

We will train you, house and supply you with many of the resources you need. In return, you will go among these lands, unbidden and unfettered from our church. In public you are nothing more than adventurers, explorers. But you will have your mission and nothing should dissuade you from those.

Many will try to stop you. Many will attempt to seduce you from your vocation. Though you might no longer operate within the laws and light of civilization at hand, know that your actions are ordained by the Dawnflower and her will.

And so you shall be our Moonlight Brigade.

So the PCs are sort of like the characters from the VanHelsing movie with Hugh Jackman. They have a church, or maybe a couple where they have contacts who can supply them with holy water, alchemical goods, spare armor and weapons and occasionally magic items. They also have boltholes, contacts and businesses friendly to their crusade hidden among the cities of Golarion. In return for this support the PCs take on missions in the name of Saranrae.

These missions would negatively impact the PR of the faith. While the public face of the faith is one of charity, mercy and healing, the PCs are little more than holy warriors and assassins who root out undead, monsters, and cults. They also hunt for lost resources, sometimes in places where the church has no authority or presence.

As a GM I'd play up the angle that the public at large doesn't consider what the PCs are doing to be noble or heroic work. Even the few they might tell are disgusted that the "church of light" would hire mercenaries to go and murder the "unredeemable" as judge, jury and executioner.

So the party wouldn't have to be all rogue/clerics, but they'd have to cleave to a certain anonymity. They wouldn't be the typical "heroes" saving the city from a dragon and getting a parade in their honor. The roleplaying of the game would come from the players reconciling with working toward helping a world which both hates and fears them.

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Ipslore the Red wrote:
Lamontius wrote:

I am glad you all read past the first line

I sure did not
Hey, I don't see any problem with wearing it on the head.

Which one? HEEYYYOOHHHHH! I'll be here all week; be sure to tip your succubus...

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I've had a group of APL 3 PCs show up and unexpectedly run into a ghost of CR 7. They were not prepared and the ghost got a surprise round, so I made it cause fear. When on the first combat round the PCs didn't leave, I had it deal some damage and then order the party to flee. For story purposes then on the 2nd round the ghost glitched and remembered it's former life and how it was a distant relative to one of the PCs (long story) so it did literally nothing all round except beg the party to leave - they still didn't.

So round 3 it nearly kills it's distant realative. Said PC's animal companion has disappeared deeper into the dungeon and suddenly the PC can't feel the bond any longer. So round 4 it glitches again and the party STILL tried to attack as they finally fled, albeit slowly. Round 5 the ghost gets one final hit in nearly killing another PC.

After it was all said and done the players were mad at me for an "unbeatable" foe. The moral of the story? Be blunt.

First tell them through the skills of the PCs. Anyone got Profession: Soldier, or a BAB of +1? Any and all of them should have the chance to just size up a foe and determine it's "combat presence" as I like to call it. Also if the foe is that B/A then maybe just TELL the guy with the appropriate knowledge check to roll it. He might not even identify the monster but he'll dang well know its out of his league.

If that's not doing it tell them flat out: your initial volley was like the buzzing of flies to him. This monster is warming up to completely destroy any trace of you from this earth. If this doesn't motivate the players to change up tactics then it's on like Donkey Kong and they don't get to complain later when they're rolling up new PCs.

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The primary continent of the world is known for its greatest civilization: Karnoss

The Karnossov rose and fell yet still these are their lands. Within Karnoss are many regions. Some are known in the ancient tongue: Vardok, Agonoszk, Izmok and Raveneszk. Others are cultural melting pots, sometimes due to war and other times because of commerce. These more diverse regions have more common names; Middenmarch, Elderscorn Vale, Bloodthorn Hollow.

The lands of Karnoss are still recovering from the Wilding, a time when the primeval wilderness resurged across the civilized lands. Many towns and villages were devoured by the forests and fey. The greatest city to survive the calamity was Inderwick, though it did not escape unscathed. A full quarter of the city is still buried in the dark thickets of the Gnarl.

Dunspar, the largest port on the Icwyl Sea has recovered well though the Wilderwood stands literally on their doorstep. The city owes much of its survival to the diverse religious orders within its walls as well as the Erastilin who have vowed to curate a portion of the nearby forest they have dubbed the Greenward.

In Bloodthorn the forest has divided the residents. Already a more rural and superstitious region, now they are afflicted with the return of the Hexbane; a conglomerate of many inquisitions bent on purging witchcraft, the fey, and eventually all arcane magic from Karnoss. The land is once more a hotbed of fear and derision and nowhere is this more felt than in the towns and cities. Arabellyn, once a place of sophistication and culture is a closed port of fearful aristocrats and cloistered clergy devoted to the uncaring Nethys. In Tashtantar the dwarves rule with an iron fist using might to control what they don't yet understand.

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Well said Od one. One thing to add - special effects. Everyone has a flaming sword, but do the flames on everyone's sword also leap out making a Small Fire Elemental 1/day as a Summon Monster spell? This goes along with the fire/ice thing in the post above.

Sometimes the effects don't even have to be all that combat useful to be cool. What about a shield that reeks of garlic when vampires are near; a +1 axe of frost that, when waved over magic writing translates it in frost on the head of the axe a la Read Magic.

Video games are cool because you can SEE flaming nimbuses when your character pulls off a special power with an item or whatever. People geek out when something does something really cool. The only way to translate in Theater of the Mind is to add these kinds of special effects.

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If you want "low magic" which can mean just about whatever you want, try another system. Its been my experience that the culture of PF is one centered on building and customizing PCs. As such there will always be that one character that, if you're solely relying on item drops, won't get what he wants or can use. As such that person will be constantly on the hunt for their items and if they don't come up often will become frustrated.

I can only speak from the experience I've had in my games and you've all probably created better systems than I have, but I've tried a lot of ways to make players feel the awe and wonder of magic items

- unique descriptions using all 5 senses when viewed with Detect Magic, like a druid-blessed bow radiating a verdant aura that smells of spring dew on wildflowers

- specialized naming conventions ripped off from Diablo like armor called Celestial Rose Plate of the Elements meaning that it is divinely flavored, +1 (rose being the weakest in the color scheme) and it gives Endure Elements at will when worn

- elaborate materials and flourishes used in overly fluffy descriptions

At the end of the day my players were generally confused and frustrated until I explained "It's a +1 sword" at which point they'd shrug and decide whether to keep or sell it.

And finally magic for sale does not need to mean there's a shop in town called Magic For Sale and it's essentially a Wal-Mart for magic items, even in a Large City sized settlement. It merely means that items are available to buy, sell or barter. You still have to find them.

If you want magic to be special, make it that way. Sure, the going rate for a +1 longsword is 2000 and that's how much Don Cornelius will charge you because he's a fair and honest Don, but you must first gain an audience with him this day of all days, the day of his daughter's wedding...

And when it finally gets too tedious to listen to the polearm master gripe again about there being no monsters who wield magic halberds and all the side quests mount up just to find a way to buy them, you can either "cave" and hand wave some shopping trips to the bazar or you can switch game systems, or else like me try yet another way to keep magic fresh in the game.

Oh, and I've been playing for a long time too. Not as long as some, longer than others, but long enough to know better. I remember when there were no skills, no PC customizations, heck; barely any rules. While I remember the fun of hanging with my friends in grade school and HS, I am glad to have moved on from those gray days. They have their place and formed a great foundation for PF but for me this is the edition I keep coming back to.

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So how powerful should a bunch of 1st level characters be? Well I don't run any APs and haven't played any. I have however played some PFS and I think a 20 pt buy with 150 GP per PC is just fine.

In my homebrew I let PCs use skills and feats when outfitting themselves at first level. In other words, if you've got Craft: Alchemy, alchemical items = half price (you made them); if you have Craft: Armorer your armor/shield is half price, and so on. I've had a wizard start the game with a staff, their components and spellbook gifted to them (I'm a pushover GM) and some misc gear, then 100 GP worth of pre-made scrolls. Since he made them himself they were half cost, so he was walking into the first adventure with 8 scrolls adding that much more to what he could do in the adventure.

I suppose my yardstick has always been with first level that they be able to last 6 encounters of CR 1. Now of course rolls could break either way but that's my expectation. If they encounter something of a higher CR my expectation is that this will chew up resources faster and limit their survival rate, but 6 CR 1 fights in a day isn't unreasonable.

A lot of folks in my games forget small things, like Guidance, Resistance, or Knowledge checks. "Why can't the rogue do any damage to this small elemental?" oh right: elemental traits.

A well-equipped party should have at least one of their attack cantrips sporting +1 damage from a power component. There's no reason the entire party can't have an extra temporary HP every encounter of the day. Everyone who needs concealment should rightly have it once in the adventure (smokestick).

Finally... research. This is the other thing my players never do. I'm not talking necessarily spending weeks in old libraries looking up the dungeon lore, though they don't do that either. But I'm saying they are randomly exploring, find a cave, and there's a symbol over the entry - they don't bother with the Knowledge check over the door, scouting with the wizard's familiar or even sending the rogue in to poke around. Suddenly they're swarmed with skeletons and the wizard is whining "but I didn't TAKE Disrupt Undead today!" Had they known it was an ancient tomb they could've avoided it, headed back to town, gotten better equipped but whatevs.

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Ironically I find that the theorycrafting that proves something in the game is OP falls apart when the players hit the table IRL. I have a fairly well optimized Summoner 2 at the table that should be ruling every fight. So far the Halfling sorcerer 2 has been dominating with Acid Splash of all things.

Another guy I know went nearly all defense: Combat Expertise, Skill Focus: Diplomacy, sword and board paladin with only modest Str and Con in favor of Cha. When he played however even after using Fight Defensively for a round to get into position he would then take center stage with quick thinking, tactics and roleplaying. The only reason his PC died is he was caught in the open by a young wyvern at level 2.

I guess my point is when EVERYTHING is overpowered then NOTHING is, or at least that's how it seems to play at my table. I haven't gotten above 6th level before a campaign had to be disbanded for some reason so maybe my experience doesn't count but still, that's my 2CP.

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Imagine I have a rogue, fighter, cleric and wizard, regardless of faction. They have diverse backgrounds. Why would they ever form some kind of bond to work toward any common goals? Right off the top I would guess the thirst for adventure. From there you begin to seek tangibles:

- guards to a caravan
- 4 pieces of the same map
- they survived the same large battle
- members of the same faith
- chosen to dispose of some infamous treasure/bad guy

See often, even in a sandbox you need tangibles, even if just to start the campaign. The alternatives are:

- spontaneous attack in the town & you're all standing around when it happens
- you're all in prison
- you all wake up near one another but have no idea where you are

Are your players good at driving the action?

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Well thank you again to all the advice on this thread. Every one of you have helped me in one way or another, as last night's game can attest. I started to have a good idea for another campaign and that helped clear the fog for my actual game so I went through the steps: over a few days I worked out a bit more, thought about gaming less, and listened some different music (went back to my 80's pop roots). In the middle of all this an idea came together from Rappan Athuk - a sub-level.

The current obstacle for my guys was really uninspiring: a horde of goblins. Sure, they worship Lamashtu and they are doing some bad stuff, but at the end of the day they're just a goblin horde *yawn*. I think that's part of what was blocking me up.

On the level of the dungeon my guys are exploring I had a hall going off to one side which is supposed to end at a chamber they haven't found yet. Our very last encounter I rolled the session before last night was a gelatinous cube and I had it coming down from that side hall. So I took some of my own advice: sometimes if your players haven't SEEN part of the map, it doesn't have to stay the same as the first time you drew it!

I added a sub-level all around the gelatinous cube. Slimes; molds; alchemical ooze swarms. The idea started swirling: what if there was an alchemist down here? The goblins had employed some Alchemist's Fire; what if they didn't make it themselves?

So I thought up a sub-level of a deranged alchemist who's looking to experiment on people with slimes. She gets ousted from polite society and flees to the Lower Warrens (megadungeon PCs are currently exploring) and sets up shop near the goblins. She does a deal with them: they help her get settled and keep supplying her with victims, she keeps them in alchemical gear.

Only the alchemist gets greedy. She's burning through her "experiments" too quickly so she takes a couple errant goblins. A war goes down and the goblins survive, but they take heavy casualties and accidentally unleash many of her "test subjects". Now they've cordoned off the alchemist's sub-level until they can properly cleanse the thing and annex it for themselves.

Enter the PCs. They just happen to stumble into the goblins' lair right when they're on high alert but in recovery from their recent skirmish. Now the party has a choice: they can keep crawling through the goblins' lair or try their luck in the alchemist's sub-level. As a form of enticement I've dropped the hint that there may be a secret passage topside that the alchemist had built but didn't get the chance to use.

Now the party is hooked. They have changed course and are heading down into the alchemist's lair. Last night they fought through 4 rooms (in a 3.5 hour session) and did very well (all CR 1 and 2 threats so far; party is APL 2) but they haven't really gotten into the worst of it. Once they get through the next door they found, they'll enter the heart of the sub-level and really begin to understand who they're dealing with.

Grippili Alchemist:

So I wanted to use a race unusual to my game to make the alchemist stand out, and I settled on a grippili. She was a frog-like humanoid who not only had depraved experiments but got her ideas by worshipping aberrant gods. The heart of her lair is decorated with giant frog-like humanoid statuary. These beings are distorted and hideous. Then deeper in she has an image of a gargantuan froghemoth that she worshipped at the feet of. Finally she was using alchemical ooze swarms to slowly torture and eventually kill her captives, all the while trying to turn people either into monsters or humanoid-slime hybrids.

Again, many thanks for getting me out of my rut and on to this sub-level. The PCs have discovered a sacred site on the outskirts of the main dungeon entrance. I'm going to have the alchemist's "back door" come up right near this site so that this gives the party a bit of a win. If they survive to the end of the sub-level they will have cleared the section, found an easy way to access the dungeon and tied that into their newfound allies at the sacred site. They said they wanted to try and establish a base here in the dungeon; now they have the chance.

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T-gent; I commented on your other thread so I won't repeat myself here (since no one in this thread is a fan of repetition). I have been suffering some writer's block of late but I hope I'm on the mend.

As for just being an old timer in general, here's a senior gamer's moment for ya'. I bought some stuff from Frog God Games; among these was Rappan Athuk. While the old-skooler GM in me reveled over the diabolically evil dungeon y'know what part of the book I read religiously? The tribute.

In this section Bill Webb, the author of the work and one of the most prominent Frogs pays homage to Dave Arneson, Bob Bledsaw, Professor M.A.R. Barker, and of course, Gary Gygax. The tribute even reveals Bill's first run in with Gygax and it was eerily similar to my own.

Bill had a smoke with a guy outside a gen-con and chatted him up for 15 minutes. It turned out to be Gary. I attended the 2000 gen-con and just as they unveiled 3e (which at the time I was staunchly opposed to) I got up and left the auditorium. I somehow missed Mr Gygax coming out on stage.

So as the ruckus inside reaches a fever pitch me and a bunch of con-goers are venting on the grass behind the exit door. Out comes this guy in a white pony tail, presumably from the stage so we chatted with him about the new edition. In effect his response was to just keep playing, and play what we love. It doesn't matter what VERSION of the game it is. The whole point is to make it your own anyway, so go and MAKE IT YOUR OWN GAME and keep playing until its not fun anymore. As the sage man ambled off a friend comes SPRINTING up to me and goes "Did you get his autograph? That was GARY GYGAX!"

So I read the RA tribute. Twice. I wonder if anyone else has had that mysterious experience meeting Mr Gygax? I'm really sad he's not with us anymore and wish I'd not been such a stupid kid back then. What Bill says in the tribute rings with me too: these guys are legends, myths. I wish I could hang out with them, buy them a beer and really get to know them.

But there's one at least one guy on these boards who has walked and lived among these giants, worked with them going all the way back. Dr Deth, I'm looking in your direction.

Specifically to Dr Deth - thank you for the Thief. Also thank you for being an agent of living legend. If you are ever in MN or I happen to luckily bump into you at a con I'd love to sit down with you and buy you a meal, a coffee/beer/water and just listen to your stories. Because you were there, RIGHT THERE when things like 1e hit. You participated in that amazing explosion that is the hobby I've loved for over 30 years.

Thank you.

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So much good advice folks thank you! A couple folks have mentioned drawing random dungeons and that's my usual go-to. I'd suggest it on to anyone else suffering blockage, at least as far as writing gaming material.

My ritual is to grab a graphing notebook, a new retractable pencil and a protractor. Then pull my old 1e DMG and a few dice and start rolling. This usually clears me out but this time it didn't do the trick.

Yesterday I got some stuff I'd ordered from Frog God Games. Among them was a little light reading in the form of Rappan Athuk. I went to all the obvious spots in the book: the well, the final FINAL room, the graveyard and Mouth of Doom. But then after some dinner and a clear head I found myself drawn to the wilderness adventures; particularly a ruined keep

controlled by bugbears

I don't know why I honed in, but I did. I felt this electric tingle in my brain so I kept going. I got to the treasure of the site. Among other treasure it lists

a golden casket containing a brass dragon's egg
. Now something's happening in my head; a bunch of pops and sizzles I haven't felt or heard for a while.

I'm currently stumped on my own homebrew campaign. The party stumbled into the beginning of a dungeon hack that has nothing to do with RA and I need to finish it before the next session this Saturday. But for a moment I let inspiration take me and I came up with this as an angle for a side plot involving 2 megadungeons from FGG: The Lost City of Barakus and Rappan Athuk. I tweaked and modified; hope you enjoy

The Bronze Legion and the Mother in Bronze:

For over a century there has been a myth around the lands of Endholme. A legend of an ageless woman, agents of her unseen legion and the bronze figurines they bear. Many myths have a basis in fact and this is one.

Her true name is Ozonhageda and she is an adult bronze dragon. She appears to mortals in a human guise and bestows on the virtuous bronze figurines. These allow her to track and gather these men and women, who call themselves the Bronze Legion and refer to their patron as the Mother. She cares for her agents when she can, always in secret, and keeps them working in disparate cells but always for the good of all.

The Legion is not always lawful good, though they are more often good in spirit and subtly guided toward lawful ends. The Mother in Bronze has striven against the great evils of this land like Orcus and Devron for over a century. However she has gained an adversary, an equal: the red dragon Aragnak.

His progeny, Bezzalt has spied on Ozonhageda for years and now their conflict is coming to a head. A group of bugbears seek to loot her lair of her most precious possession; her only egg. Worse yet, they have the support of a powerful drow cleric from her temple in the utter depths of Barakus. She and her aranea servant have woven a powerful curse into a net of the darkest webbing; once applied it will trap the Mother in her human guise and weaken her physically.

And so the plan is set and the trap is made. All that needs be done is have Ozonhageda appear to the next agents she's chosen for the legion. Luckily for the bugbears, a new group of adventurers has just arrived in the city...

So its not my finest work and it still has some holes that need patching, but not bad for reading 2 sentences of treasure from a random encounter.

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Got my books. Barakus is of course awesome. I have the paper maps too which is great. I can't wait to get this on the table. Then I opened up Rappan Athuk...

I already had the PDF and knew consciously this thing was massive; I wasn't prepared for the impact physically having it would have on me.

I've spent several hours pouring over both products now as they were meant to be handled, in a GM's hands. One leads so effortlessly into the other that I almost imagine they began as one campaign. Whether or not this is the reality my imagination will of course keep working along those lines.

In my imagination Bill is also 10' tall and has horns. Is that weird?

Anyway, thanks again to all the frogs for these products and their continued classiness. I can't wait to get my color map of the coast framed and hung up next to my old Greyhawk maps. In other words, the highest place of respect I have in my gaming room at home.

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DMC: I'm flattered and honored dude. I've read a lot of your posts as well; very creative stuff. It's hard to get stuff down but once you get over that hump and finish something its an awesome feeling.

@ JA/necro/HBP: thanks for the ideas and resources. I usually have music running but maybe I just need to switch it up. Ironically I spent the weekend buried in my old 1e DMG rolling up three random dungeons, but none of them "spoke" to me. Still, it's worth revisiting again.

I like that dungeon a lot Jackie-boy. That's good stuff. More importantly I like the process. I'll have to get on the interwebz, get some inspiration, and then pick out a detail to embelish.

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So I'm not new to writer's block, but it's the first time it's hit me this hard in a long while. None of my usual tricks are working. I write adventures and campaign bits for my home game, just to keep writing, but even that has become like swimming in molasses.

Its kind of killing me too because I finally have what I felt like I was missing. For years me and the family have been shoehorned into a little starter house. Now I've been fortunate enough to move into a bigger place that among other rooms has a basement space for me to use as a gaming room and an office. Now I have my own space, its quiet with the right lighting, and I'm surrounded by all my gaming gear.

And. I'm. Not. Writing.

Any tips or tricks you all have for curing this dreaded malady?

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I have run a couple delves into megadungeons recently and for me, I don't see an issue with consumables. My PCs are only 2nd level, but they still have had access to many scrolls and a couple wands. Some guidelines I go through when handing out the consumables:

1. in found treasure, go random - random spells in the scrolls, wands and potions and random # of charges in said wands.

2. when shopping in smaller settlements, enforce the magic item quantities - if they don't ask to have specific wands or potions made, or are looking for something like a wand of fireballs in a hamlet or village, really stick to the settlement guidelines of random minor items being available.

Essentially this forces my players to get to know the consumable item makers in settlements they visit or become crafters themselves. In play their wand of CLW and other stuff hasn't really been an issue.

My one buddy put it perfectly. He reminded me that a wand is never going to have a powerful enough spell to bring someone back to life. As the PCs get higher in level, they'll want to get deeper into the dungeon. Consumables will be used up on the way in; now they have to get back out.

See if you take my guys at level 2, they can make it say about 4 encounters in on their own powers. With a full want of CLW they could only count on adding another, say, 10 encounters max. My players then have to be counting up the # of encounters and noting their surroundings to make sure they don't get 8 or 9 encounters in and realize they've suddenly slipped down a level into tougher monsters and have to claw their way back up to the exit.

There are a lot of ways a GM can get around consumables in a dungeon crawl without resorting to restrictions.

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Picking up a hammer

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