Even better than all of this: what if the PCs negotiate with her?
Taking Owly's idea, maybe she's only doing what she is because the gith have easy access to her lair. They're paying her (of course) but she also knows they can enter any time and swipe her eggs. She is vicious but somehow protective in her behavior. The PCs (through gather info, knowledge checks and other intel) suss it out that she's trying to start a family and they make her a deal.
They'll relocate her and help her move. She rolls over on the gith and gives the party an advantage. She keeps every cent of her hoard and the eggs she's laid. Oh sure, she might later come out of hiding to murderize the only mortals who know where her lair is, but for now problem solved.
I'm just spitballing of course, but consider EVERY option.
My 2 copper is this: if she's a potential "good RP" away from hitting the ground, let your players know.
I'm terrible at tactics and since N-dawg and the Spookmeister have that covered, I figured I'd throw a different angle on the thread. Superman, you've said repeatedly that the dragon has a certain "firey" personality. Well, the only way the PCs are going to know this and might prep to use that to their advantage would be to tell them.
- Use an NPC: perhaps the squire of a dragonhunter who survived to tell the tale of his master's defeat. Other NPCs might be observers from the villages cleared by the dragon's depredations; a rival dragon bent on vengeance; kobolds that revere her
- Use correspondence: an intercepted missive from one gith to another might be handy. "That bratty little upstart of yours is taking TOO LONG with clearing the trade route. Her prideful temper is slowing us down. If she doesn't get Felder's Knot cleaned out within the next 3 days she'll find herself out of a job...permanently.
- Divination: if the PCs are smart and willing to pay money to a cleric with communion, speak w/dead or better spells in order to gather intel, perhaps this divination reveals her "Achiles Heel."
Now of course what they choose to do with the info given is up to them, but I would suggest this info be specific and literal. Too vague and they'll dismiss or ignore it. But if the party knows:
1. the dragon is willing to parlay and enjoys taunting her prey
then they might be more inclined to actually attempt that course of action. Can you imagine how cheesed your players would be after half the party dies and their ashes are washed downstream (no rezing at this level) and after the battle is over you turn to them and say "well, if you'd have just TALKED to her, maybe she would've landed..." You'd have a riot on your hands.
When fighters were fighters and halflings had no class (because their race WAS their class). Good times.
If you can whisper, use a skill to cover or mute the noise of spell casting, or otherwise perform what is suggested by the OP and subsequent thread contributors here, why would the game have copied and pasted Silent Spell at all?
My personal interpretation of spell casting's noise level as nothing more than conversation. Not shouting, not whispering. You can speak an a strong voice while carrying on at a dinner party.
Now in 3.5 there was a feat that used ranks in disguise (I think) to make it appear that your casting came from somewhere else. Subtle Casting or some such. I only remember it because of the image: the Iconic spellcaster from 3.5, a female elf named Mialee, stands on a street corner casually leaning on a lamppost while in the background a dude is getting fried by a lightning bolt.
Frankly I feel that if there were a mundane way to disguise casting with a skill that any spellcaster could potentially put a rank in, the game dev's wouldn't have bothered with the feats and class abilities Malag pointed out. However this conversation has been had on the boards for years before I stuck my nose in it, and it will doubtless continue after I'm gone, so carry on.
I'll tell you what Rotating Lever, that's EXACTLY what I've come to realize about my own gaming group. I personally am the kind of GM that wants to craft compelling, epic worlds and fictions, but my players are the type that like venting about work, cracking jokes, and occasionally paying attention to the game. Their idea of plot is the paragraph-long setup to a Descent scenario.
We've found a good compromise in 5-room dungeons like what you're talking about. I tell a condensed but still occasionally epic tale, they have more than enough time to unwind, and we all walk away winners.
These same players all seem to enjoy megadungeons. This makes it easy on me since their "5-room dungeon" scenarios can all be fit into the same general site in the game world. Every so often for variety I send them on a mission somewhere else or craft an off-formula adventure, but this is most of my games.
The cherry on top for me is that I get to string together the different adventures into a meandering narrative. Adventure 1: the PCs rescue some victims from a dungeon cell. Adventure 2: the party goes back to the dungeon for a magic sword. Adventure 3: the rescued victims ask the party's help cleansing a nearby shrine of evil.
Turns out the shrine was tainted in the first place when the sword was stolen. The PCs return the sword and cleanse the shrine. This in turn awakens draconic power in one of the rescued victims who now remains in place at the shrine. She now acts like a rest-stop for the next few dungeon delves and the draconic shrine-keeper can provide resources for future games. Everyone wins!
Matt Thomason wrote:
Seconded. I try to tell my own players this or a version of this when I start a new campaign. If I wanted an audience to tell a story to, I'd read to my girls. When I run a game I require participants, not spectators. In return I promise to be open and responsive to the efforts and motivations of my players. Its a simple social contract but it works most of the time.
RD: what were you really looking for in this thread? None of us know you or your gaming group well enough to comment on the social dynamic, you refute suggestions on why this MIGHT be happening and so far I don't think you've commented on any of the advised solutions except to say you've tried them.
Also a poster upthread just reminded us that your fellow players have also pulled similar switches or game-mucking but with no recourse. Your GM has threatened you w/expulsion but frankly you don't seem overly concerned.
So, I don't get it. Its a problem but not really and you're already trying things to fix it. Your builds on other threads show you as MORE than capable of building hybrids and you state it isn't an optimizing thing anyway since your fellow players have outdone you consistently. I choose to disbelieve, but that's my choice.
Maybe you're just hitting a rough patch w/your fellow players socially. It happens. Every once in a while people get annoyed. This brings us back to the central piece of advice on every thread in every forum:
Talk w/your group
IDK man, maybe I'm way off base w/my assessment. Maybe I missed something in the thread. It just seems like you want one thing (2 things I guess - a martial at low and a caster at high) that annoys your gaming group but you're unlikely to change. So decide what you're willing to compromise or decide to accept judgment. Everything else is just wasted energy.
Hey AD, know what I've seen? I've seen that some people are jerks from time to time. I'm including myself in this category. Sometimes I'm a jerk.
I've also seen that many humans get sucked into herd mentalities and fall in line w/a peer group. Again, I'm including myself here. Sometimes I have picked on and been a jerk to others because that's what we were all doing.
Now for a little admission: I still feel guilty for it.
We had a player in HS who always played dwarf fighters. Said player was in RL a little more sheltered than some of us and therefore he was sweet and naive where the rest of us swore and drank and acted like jerks. Sometimes I kind of made fun of him and one time we kicked him out of our game.
It wasn't nice. It wasn't fair. Just because my friends thought it was hilarious, that doesn't justify my going along with it. I feel genuinely sorry for doing it, even after all these years.
But that's just it isn't it? Human beings make errors in judgement all the time. We can be selfish, and cruel, and if enough of us put our own needs ahead of others then gang up on someone, we can be truly frightening.
I don't want to be like that anymore.
I'm not perfect, but I'm trying to put others' fun before mine. I'd encourage ANYONE on these boards posting issues w/their gaming group to talk it out and do the same. But yes sometimes groups gang up on an individual - I'm living proof.
Ironically I also believe in karma because of the same player.
When I moved from Illinois to MN a few years ago I was still gaming w/all those guys from HS, except 2 - one was the guy I was mean to and the other was a mutual friend between us. I moved, tried to stay in touch w/my old group, and didn't hear from anyone for a year. Turns out that after I moved said mutual friend stirred up all kinds of bad feelings toward me on behalf of the guy I'd been cruel to years ago. The irony is that the mutual friend had ALSO been mean and was a driving force in that regard.
So be nice to your gaming group folks. Be nice because they're human beings. Be nice and, as AD has said several times before, play nice with others. Otherwise when you walk away for a minute and then try to come back to the table, they might have gotten rid of your chair.
Anyway, I see Drachasor's point: sometimes the group isn't nice even though the individual is trying hard to be. But I also see AD's: if each of the mean group members followed the advice of seeing the others' points of view and playing nicely w/others, they'd stop being mean anyway.
These are just my observations, so take them for what you will. As I said - sometimes I'm a jerk. But I'm tryin' Ringo; I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
I'm currently running a homebrew with a massive megadungeon. Said dungeon's most populous residents are kobolds.
Ballathunda and HORDES of kobolds swarmed down and sieged the place. In the end the blue dragon slew the paladin, but not before he called down a divine miracle to imprison her in the eye of a wicked tempest overhead. Now coastal storms wrack the ruin; these are called Dragon Squalls.
The kobolds were scattered after losing their deity. They wandered the region far and wide, learned of the dungeons beneath the ruin, and returned with purloined draconic eggs. Now the breeding grounds are once more the home of dragons but also kobolds who have been expanding the tunnels for decades. Of course other creatures have found the dungeons as well and the various "outposts" of the dungeons are controlled by different factions.[/spolier]
I'm trying to conceptualize lots of different draconic things without any of the books mentioned in this thread so far. I've dropped the term "Dragon Forges" into my players' heads and intend to expand this concept. I have a secretive holy order called the Order of the Dragon's Shield devoted to the ideals of Apsu (or Bahamut). There's also an extremely rare new diversity of kobold - Bronzelings. These are Lawful Good kobolds with bronze scales and they help the Order in maintaining a foothold in the dungeon.
As I create and develop I could definitely send you what I have come up with. I'll drop back into this thread from time to time as well for some inspiration if that's alright.
Revrendfresh: thank you for sharing that term. Pennermorder sounds like an AWESOME name to incorporate somewhere in my homebrew.
While I don't know that I'd allow (Murderhobo) as a profession, I've certainly allowed several bizare crafts, performances and professions such as exotic dancer, fight promoter and kelp weaver. I've allowed these in homebrew games since there's no RAW against making up new ones outside what the CRB suggests. I'm sure then that PFS would have no issue with the generation of new skill specialties.
Tranzor Z: why do you feel the need to control? Is it that you think your players are incapable of success w/out your guidance and experience? Or do you find yourself afraid of the unexpected variables of a game you don't have direct input into?
I ask because I've identified both aspects in myself.
I used to have a GMPC in every game I ran. I also "collaborated" with each player through the character creation process. Since I run only homebrew stuff I convinced myself they needed my direct input in order to be immersed in a world that was mostly in my head, not theirs. I was at times called overbearing. Eventually I forced myself to not GM at all but rather be a player or not game.
Watching other GMs I got the sense of what my players had talked about. There were random generators for backgrounds and these generic stories could then be adapted to any story, so I didn't HAVE to craft a specific story for each PC so they could fit into my world. Rather the players created everything themselves and then shoe-horned these into the world my buddy Dwayne had made.
Also Dwayne had a GMPC and that's where I saw a mirror image of myself. The GMPC knew everything, had every answer and succeeded at nearly everything he did. we players were basically functionaries of this guy. I had initially enjoyed the game but as time went on I got really frustrated with being second fiddle to the GM.
Nowadays I still have NPCs that travel w/the players but I purposely make them non-optimized. I also enforce a rule on myself: my NPCs never take an action unless they're directly threatened in combat or they're directed by another PC. In other words if I have a sword-crafting history expert w/a level in Fighter AND a level in Wizard, I'm not going to do anything with her but if one of the players comes upon a runestone, can't figure it out, and thinks enough to ask the NPC, she'll gladly make a Knowledge: History, Arcana and Spellcraft check alongside casting Detect Magic and tell the party all they need to know.
I have to constantly remind myself that the homebrews I run may be my initial concept, but they're OUR world, not mine. I'm not exaggerating when I say sometimes I even tell myself this out loud. Its a struggle every gaming session AP Z-man, but so far (knock on wood) I haven't gotten the "overbearing" thing in a long time.
So from the analysts in this thread I've got that:
1. the complainer is usually the one who's wrong
I'm seeing a pattern and a reason why these threads go on forever. Both sides are right and wrong and so nothing is ever really resolved. The underlying thing though is communication.
I don't know about you guys/gals but in my own private gaming groups I've noticed that a lot of people's complaints, when not referencing specific game mechanics, stem from feelings of persecution or vilification. "That encounter was unfair; I should be able to play whatever character I want to; its entirely in my PC's personality to execute the prisoner..." these kinds of things. Y'know what always rings out to me under these words? It's the individual secretly saying "validate me!"
Now some folks can get pretty douchey when they request this validation. Others upon receiving validation then rub others' faces in it and the group dynamic is broken. But with an understanding of these 2 potential outcomes I ask: what's so wrong w/validating folks?
In another thread RD wants to play a martial PC at low levels and a spellcaster at high. His gaming group says that's metagamey and they don't like it. I'm not saying either side is right or wrong, but they're both valid.
In my opinion, its up to the GM as the arbiter of the game to also step in and mediate RL social concerns too. Once that GM has stepped in, hopefully a dialogue commences and reasonable compromise can be reached.
But there it is, isn't it? Compromise. If the GM is asking the folks involved to compromise many of us automatically see this as what? Invalidation. If we have to compromise then we have to give a little up, which means that part of our idea was wrong and therefore invalid.
How many of us gamers in our daily lives feel ashamed, persecuted or otherwise invalidated? How much of that insecurity finds its way into our game do you think?
The GM's part of the table you play at should have a couch where their "patients" can lie down.
But that's why I, like AD and MANY of the posters in this thread open up my response to complainers with a call for dialogue, communication. But be HONEST in that communication. Ask for what you really want. Do you want to play a gunslinger because guns do a lot of damage as ranged weapons, or do you want that because you want to be right about how cool they are?
So many of us human beings have poor understanding of our own feelings and communications, how can we be expected to understand others?
Be honest. Be brutally honest. It might lead to being ostracized or you might find a gaming group you thought was awesome to be not to your liking and you have to start over again, and that sucks. I know because I've been there many times. But in the end if you're honest with what you want and need from the game and the experience w/your cohorts and they return the favor, you will know the experience is genuine; valid.
A to the F: jump in mate I'll love ya'. Seriously though, why WOULD any of us rag on others or blame them for us not having fun? Gamers as old as me are the guys who got excluded all the time because WE were the geeks. What good could POSSIBLY come from us excluding folks for our own hangups?
Accept that YOU are in charge of YOUR fun at the table. Also accept that the game is collaborative and a team effort that succeeds or fails based on EVERYONE'S buy in. Once those 2 points are firmly fixed and accepted in the hearts and minds of everyone at the table, everything else is just semantics.
Please, be excellent to one another, and party on dudes!
Temperance and compassion in all things. Seriously. This is a collaborative game. No one person should determine the outcome or result for any other participant.
We're not in high school. Ok, SOME of this community is, but you know what I mean. There's no us against them any more. WE decide what's fun for us.
Personally, in my own life and games I strive for compromise. I am usually the GM and if I had it REALLY my own way, my game would be a really cool blend of gritty horror and Tolkien; Harry Potter but for older wizards.
But that's NOT what every player at my table wants.
I have 2 guys that honestly don't speak in character unless I make them and their idea of long-term plot is whatever they have to do to make it to next level. I have another player who surprised the heck out of me yesterday by not only remembering a month-old plotline but coming to the table with some decisions on where it was going and mining for more info. Finally I have a new player who just joined us that enjoys my aesthetic but hasn't played enough yet for me to determine just HOW gritty I can get.
I don't plan on coming to the table next session and TPKing the party in epic fashion. Instead I intend to tentatively let out a bit more grit, ratchet up the combat for my tactical players and also continue to interact w/my plot-driven PC in the guise of the NPC they're traveling with. That way we ALL get a little of what we want.
I tell my girls all the time "you can't have EVERYTHING the way you want it all the time. You have to think of others before yourselves." Why then should I be any different, especially with non-family gaming buddies?
It boils down to this simple phrase I stole from my wife's grandma. "Work hard; be nice." That's been her lifestyle since she was a little girl. The woman is 98 now and as with it as all of us. This cannot be a coincidence.
I fantasize over creating game worlds, fluff, or interesting adventures in other folks' rules systems, but a whole game? That seems daunting and frustrating. I'd have to conceive of unique conflict resolution mechanisms, manufacture dynamic rules alongside an interesting setting and do it all in a way that is at least uncommon if not completely new and fresh. I know that process is not appealing to me.
I will say this though: I love collaboration. I've worked with a friend to playtest his game creation and helped toss ideas around with him. If someone has a need for a second set of eyes or has a ruleset in need of adventures, fluff or whatnot, I'd be more than happy to contribute.
I like being creative. I don't necessarily get into the engineering side of game creation though.
Hey, at least you don't roll randomly for your class. *shudders*
Actually TOZ-manian devil, that's a great idea. Dorkius Maximus: tell your disapproving GM to start a new campaign. Tell him to go off and carefully sculpt an elaborate first scenario with the expectation of standard characters. Then while he's not looking, have your entire group of friends all get out 3d6.
No point buy, no re-rolls. Roll 3d6, assigning the numbers as you get them. "Oh, you wanted to play a martial but you rolled a 4 Str and a 12 Int? You're the wizard..." Now join up with your GM and see if he's happy w/the whole party dying in encounter no 1. Or maybe you roll decent, you rise to the occasion as a gaming group, and it all works out. Either way there's nothing meta about it.
You'll see though that, in this extreme scenario if the GM wants to help your fledgling non-optimized PCs survive he'll have to be far more attentive to YOU and your party; it may even require some "coddling." In the meantime your fellow players may find that they MISS the freedom of assigning numbers to get the PCs they really wanted. You can then point out that that's all YOU are doing: playing the PC that YOU want.
First off - how ya doin' RD? You ok? Cause if you're ok and having fun and your friends are too, then it's all good. Course if you're not and this is more than you jus blowin off some steam, then here's some real advice:
Tell your fellow gamers everything you feel as articulately as you do above. If they're your friends, they'll say "It's cool" and move on. If for some reason you feel you need to change to accommodate them, perhaps compromise a little, here are some methods:
- Gestalt from the start or multiclass later on. Sure, it won't be perfect, but you'll get a little variety from both sides of the spectrum and have some of the fun you want at low and high levels
- Hunt down magic items that AREN'T the "big 6". One example might be to commission an amulet of Unseen Servant or perhaps buy Wondrous Items that do unexpected things like Pyrotechnics, Web or Plant Growth. One of the reasons you want to be a spellcaster at high levels is for the special effects; use magic items and consumables to give yourself the same thing
- Get a magical cohort. Starting as Mandferd Everyblade at level 1 and picking up Wizardo the Bearded as a cohort at level 7 means that now you've got a guy along w/you that can hurl some spells and thereby scratch that itch without metagaming.
- Get a familiar and then Improve it. Similar to my last point, there's a chain of skills and feats that allow you to access a Sorcerer Bloodline ability to gain a familiar. Then you can take more feats to gain Improved Familiar, qualify your martial levels as spellcaster's for advancing your little buddy, and even give it some 1PT Eidolon Evolutions like minor cantrips.
RD, often you pose hypotheticals on threads such as this just to begin a dialogue. I don't think you're sneaky or disingenuous; rather I think you're honestly attempting to force yourself and other gamers to explore many styles of play within the confines of your examples. I appreciate your phantasmagoria old bean.
However if this is really you in the OP and NOT one of these scenarios, then I apologize if I've cast any aspersions to the contrary. Further I genuinely hope you can make peace w/your gaming group. More importantly: I hope you can make peace w/yourself.
RD, on the personal: it must be hell to have your mind because it never stops. You've been on these boards as long as I have and I've been in here for a couple years now. In that time you've been ever creating fictions and also asking for help on real situations. You've got a thread displaying a literal horde of NPCs complete with stat blocks, pics and histories. Your posts on these boards display an intelligent, curious mind that never seems to pause.
Be at peace, Raving Dork.
Generally treasure is per encounter. So you have at least 4 set piece fights (chieftan, adept, level 3 warriors). Beyond those you have to figure you've got at least another 36 level 1 goblin warriors (each of your set pieces should have at least one extra goblin for action economy) so if you figure an avg of 3 goblins/encounter, this makes 12 encounters. I figure you generate 12 level 1 treasures and 4 potentially higher level ones to represent more dangerous foes overcome.
If each of the 12 CR 1 treasures is roughly worth 260 GP, these alone amount to 3120 GP. If you just go simply and say
level 3 warrior set piece = CR 2 treasure
Then you're looking at an additional 2500 GP for a total of 5620 GP. Now that tells you how much GP worth of added treasure to throw in the dungeon; the question now is what that looks like and where it is.
If it were me, I'd make one 5000 GP gem and 62,000 CP in 1240 small belt pouches and have all of these in a hidden vault in an innocuous hallway, but to each their own.
I've always played and run in homebrew campaigns. Sure, me and other GMs have supplemented published material, but it's always been in arcs, plots and for the most part settings created by the GM. When I was a kid in 1e & 2e, we made characters in droves, threw them out there and saw what stuck b/cause that's how the systems ran then.
When we got to 3x our games changed. We didn't "roll up" our characters any more...we built them.
This changed the way the GMs thought, myself included. My gaming groups and I no longer thought "how can I mold my vision to fit these characters in" but rather "what kind of game do I want?" As a result we GMs could craft a game with a point and major themes/events/villains already planned with the confidence that the players would be prepared to keep up.
I agree w/the OP in that this idea of forcing characters to adapt is silly. It does a disservice both to the GM and the players. If player x makes an undead hunting paladin, that's indicative of the kind of game they want to play. Sitting down as the GM and then announcing "I'm running Skull & Shackles" not only invalidates most if not all of the choices player x has made but also sends the message that the GM really doesn't care WHAT character you made; this is what the game is.
Now some of my grognard friends would and have told me that fluff is fluff; if you haven't even rolled your first combat yet you can always re-do your backgrounds, motivations and such. But my response is always that, even if your not optimized, you've built this character to do a particular job and now will have little to no opportunity to pursue that focus. My grognard friends would have me build fluff-less generics with little 1st level specialization who can fit into any setting: sword & board fighters, vanilla rogues, wizards with arcane bonded rings and healer clerics.
I crave a more unique, personal experience from the outset.
I'm not saying however that my grognard friends are wrong. If you make Genero the Vanilla Wizard you can adapt him to any campaign and make his personality fit as you roll on through the story. But to me that feels boring - I'm only playing the character that fits into the mold the gameworld sets for me. Had I known what the game held in store for me ahead of time, I'd have made the character pre-tailored to the material and ended up in the same place anyway.
You want an interesting story, not a kill the goblin type thing. You also have noob players. Regardless of setting and desire combat will need to be part of the opening to prime the players for rules to come.
Here's my suggestion: use a random encounter to bring them together w/each other AND a community of NPCs.
Example: the PCs, unbeknownst to one another, are all strolling the market of the homebase city. Suddenly dire rats burst onto the scene! There aren't any guards around and the rats are causing a panic. In the pandemonium all of the PCs individually notice a pair of young girls cornered by some rats; one is pinned under an overturned cart while the older of the two valiantly stands guard against the monsters with a stick. A sudden scream rips from the din: "My babies! Please! Someone save my little girls!"
Its go time. If the PCs do not act now these poor kids will die. Hopefully this spurs them to action. A fight ensues during which a notable local hero finally arrives to take care of some rats on the far side of the market. But its the PCs who step up, save the sisters and get the acollades today.
Now, here's where the game really takes off. You have all sorts of NPCs on site for the characters to interact with. There's the local hero and the mom of the two girls. They'll want to congratulate the PCs and reward them in some way. But off to one side the party also notices a shifty gentleman and an adolescent girl; the shifty man has a live dire rat in a cage which he's apparently selling to a third person in the shadows.
The party can confront them if they'd like. The man and teenager are a ratcatcher and his niece. The ratcatcher is a bit of a reprobate and his niece is oddly quiet but they are not in fact the instigators. Their conspirator is a local business owner buying live rats for experimentation - something ilicit in the city.
All of these NPCs now become providers of plot hooks. The ratcatcher says he can do some digging and find out why the rats attacked but in the meantime he's got a lead on an abandoned cache of loot in the collapsed foundations of an old building. He knows the way in through the sewers but there's a monster.
The mom of the saved girls is a barmaid and knows a lot of tavern gossip. She's also however certain that a family heirloom of her late husband's has been stolen by a city official. He'll give it up to her if he's intimidated enough to do so, but getting in to see him requires either brawn or skills, neither of which she has. The local hero in the meantime has a lead on a ruin outside of town that needs exploring but, before he sends the party there he'll want a test of their skills. He instead asks them to track down some rare healing herb in the forest; it's bulb is very pungent and attracts vicious goats that are agressive and territorial. The PCs will have to use skills and powers to resolve this test.
The point is: you use this opening session to display and immerse your players in your setting. You give them a lot of little things to do instead of one big thing. Then, in the background, you have some larger plotlines brewing that may or may not tie to one another. There's corruption in a city official's office and how did the barmaid's husband die? There's also the strange rat attack from nowhere and why doesn't the ratcatcher's niece say much? Finally there's this ruin outside of town.
Is this kind of what you're looking for?
"Lights please? 'And there was a light in the sky and the shepherds were afraid. And the angel of the lord said unto them fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the city of Bethlehem a savior, which is Christ the lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising god and saying Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, and goodwill toward men.' That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown."
I can't even type this w/out shedding a silent tear. If I've offended I'm sorry, but just the same happy holidays to all and to all, peace on earth and goodwill.
Dang it; VT went and said it all!
I think of coddling as guaranteeing the players will always win or that there will be no real consequence for losing. Conversely I think of killer GMs as the folks who either never let their players win or taint the victory with some kind of loss so that the victory is not complete.
I try to fall between these in most conflicts.
If the players are going toe-to-toe with monsters I'll adjust the creatures on the fly, or use a sub-optimal strategy if I've messed up. Conversely I'll ratchet up the monster or minions if the PCs are just breezing through. However every once in a while I put in a conflict that is EXTREMELY difficult to solve by mere smashing alone. Other times, just for balance, I put in monsters well below the PCs weight class, just to show them the power they really wield.
However I try to build similar tensions when PCs are just talking with people. If they need some help in the wild and come across a foreign patrol, if I'm looking to play out the situation as a conflict and not handwave, then there will be genuine threat. The foe might be easily defeated but part of a larger force; maybe the patrol seems physically more powerful but isn't overtly threatening; maybe peeving these folks off will lead to skirmish or war if the party isn't careful.
Bottom line: be fair, build tension.
As for fudging dice well...what my players don't know won't hurt them. Much. ;)
AD I've said it before in other threads and I'll say it again - it'd be great playing a game with you sometime. Your sentiments and positions in this and many other threads seem quite agreeable to my play style. Not to mention the fact that your 3d terrain COMPLETELY blows mine away!
One thing I will say re: fairness - I am human. Sometimes I get distracted, frustrated or petty; sometimes I loose my cool. My point is that I don't always achieve success with what I'm trying to do.
I TRY to be fair, but sometimes I miss a rule, overestimate my players or their characters, or otherwise run the game poorly. When this happens I own my mistakes and collect feedback from my players. THIS might be what some consider coddling. I tend to think of it as being normal.
Likewise, I try to remember this of my players. I go a month in between games. Sometimes people forget what's going on or it takes a bit to get re-immersed in the game. Other times my players might be grappling with a personal issue like their health, the well-beind of a loved one, stress at work or just general life. Their head might not be fully in the game. Players are often NOT in the same mind and intellect of their characters.
Players shouldn't be penalized for this. Again, this may be seen as coddling but there's no reason to expect full tactical genius from a guy who's just coming off his second job and cramming game time in before a marathon study session for midterms.
I TRY to design for my players. I TRY to consider the people at the table as well as the characters they're playing when creating my game. My fervent belief is that they consider me to an equal degree. This may be naive but that's it. I don't always succeed, but I'm going to keep trying.
As AD says: GMs should know basically what they're doing before they go in. I also agree w/the OP however that sometimes you just need to wing it and fudge through a ruling if they've made a mistake. However a key thing a lot of GMs forget: Adaptability.
It's easy to forget a rule in the heat of battle. You're amped and forget that a ghoul doesn't get a full attack in a charge. That's understandable. But another part of the OP's comments were in response to RP situations or gray area rulings. I-bar at the top is basically saying the GM's word is law so be confident.
Some GMs I've met however feel that they are authors; storytellers. This is not even the case in a "Storyteller" game system game.
One of the things I've seen "confident" GMs do is make rulings and judgments solely to preserve their setting, plot or NPCs. I've been guilty of this many times and I'll probably continue getting it wrong, though I'm trying (which is why I'm a 30+ year vet GM and I'm in a GM's advice thread).
Anyway, GMs with overconfidence or arrogance are so rigidly devoted to their creation that they refuse to bend to the players. Remember: there are often more of them at the table than there are of you. I'm not saying you need to monty haul it for them but ruling in favor of the players once in a while or saying yes to their bizarre plays often makes the difference between a good game and a great one.
RAW, there's no way to make the Wall of Iron spell into a renewable resource. Now...let's get creative.
Long ago we lived in a stone age and we would still today children, if not for the League of Eldritch Alchemy. You see, in the ancient days of our lands vile aberrant overlords unleashed hordes of powerful, burrowing creatures called Rust Monsters to consume the veins of iron ore in the very strata beneath our feet. However the League, then primitive dissidents within the ranks of the hive slaves of the inhuman overlords, began experimenting.
It was discovered that beings called elementals existed. Indeed there were whole planes where these creatures hailed from. Bargains were struck with these creatures to travel to our world and bring with them the raw stuff of creation itself.
Still other conjurers learned to summon the ore themselves in massive walls. These creations however would not bend to the will of the spellcasters and the iron was inferior; once heat was applied to re-forge something new of it by hand it would dissolve into slag. Undeterred alchemical processes were created to introduce new, supportive metals to these walls where they stood. Once so modified, the walls could then be transformed and utilized by our forefathers.
In time huge engines, which we refer to as the Eldritch Foundries were created. Each day they spontaneously create several walls while the League's alchemists constantly craft mass quantities of the chemical alloys. These are combined and the enriched ore is broken down into manageable units to be distributed to the four corners of our lands. Thanks to the league of Eldritch Alchemy all the free people have access to renewable iron for our daily lives.
But there is a cost children. You see, it was found that one of the substances needed for the process is the distilled innocence of children, such as yourselves. Once puberty has begun and body chemistry changes, you are no longer a value to the state. Fortunately not ALL of you will be selected to give yourselves to the Foundries. Those of you who do however will be doing your families, your neighbors, your whole world a great service. For those who volunteer themselves before the lottery you are guaranteeing that your immediate family will be removed from the roll and that they will also be compensated much more than if you were to be drawn for service.
Come forth children. Help your land by giving of yourselves for the greater good. Be heroes!
- Taken from the propaganda film "The Iron Contests"
Essentially it's a dystopian world where the "aberrant threat" is long past but a cruel, ancient custom of draining children's essences out of their souls to add to the process of making pure iron from Wall of Iron spells. This has the added benefit of lobotomizing the children. Their bodies continue to grow and they retain just enough brain function to serve as slaves. Thus they are sent to the Foundries, drained, and then used as a docile workforce until their bodies give out.
The PCs then know that, every time they buy a sword, a child somewhere had to suffer for it.
Or, we could just say no because of RAW. It's your call Weirdo.
Let's say, I don't know, the Halfling wizard stupidly gets separated from his dwarf party in the woods. You've rolled 3 trolls. Said Halfling is on his own, armed poorly and is a, let's say...first level rogue.
Running the trolls completely by the book they'd be well hidden in the woods. They'd get a surprise round, tear the rogue apart, and then consume him quietly. In a particularly famous book however, the "GM" decided the trolls should be out in the open for the rogue to sneak up on them and, when he DID get caught, he was able to talk to them long enough to get rescued.
Bilbo Baggins, by PF rules and "strategy" employed by intelligent, sentient enemies, should have died hours after leaving Bag End.
All's I'm saying is that yes you can have verisimilitude, and fate (of the dice) and all that, but you ALSO need a spark of creativity to run these games. Your friends showed up to have a good time, participate in a game and enjoy themselves. They didn't show up to watch you roll some dice, tell them their characters all died, and then start over.
Just because the dice say something, that doesn't inevitably lead to the next thing. That's not fudging, that's gaming.
You rolled the encounter, you rolled encounter distance, and then you made perception checks. Once that was done...YOU, the GM, made ALL the decisions. Some GM's would've had the goblins freak since the adventurers sauntering overconfidently into range of their bows may have been 10th level heroes. Other GM's might have had them try to capture the PCs, or act in a disorganized manner and only loosing a couple warning shots. Still OTHER GM's may have not even gotten that far; having rolled 15 goblins they might've split it into 5 sets of 3 goblins each, all within hearing distance of one another, skulking about to set the town on fire.
YOU, clh, decided that all 15 moved with military precision and purpose, training their bows unerringly on the PCs and beginning a battle that mathematically was WELL beyond what they were capable of handling. Sure, had luck been on their side they might've survived. But the laws of averages say that, attacking from surprise against flat-footed opponents of level 1, they had a better-than-50% chance of hitting (+8 vs avg FF AC of 13) and dealing 2.5 avg damage/hit. If 8 of 10 shots hit w/those odds, then 12 shots on avg would have hit the party. If you figure 4 PCs, that means 3 hits/PC, for 7.5 HP per person.
Volley 1: arcanist unconscious or nearly there; rogue-type and cleric type severely wounded; fighter-type at half HP
Volley 2: if goblins win initiative...arcanist dead; rogue-type and cleric-type dead; fighter-type Staggered
The GM decided this outcome. The dice only provided the opportunity. I've done it, unleashing a ghost on my players that I thought they were ready for. But in that instance I worked in a glitch; a momentary lapse where the ghost would stop all malicious action and give the party a chance to flee. The party did eventually flee but not until after the poor cleric lost her Animal Companion that she'd JUST gotten.
I'm sure this has happened to other GMs before us C-battery; it'll happen to others after us. But we GMs need to acknowledge that the dice only have SO much control over the game; at the end of the day it's on US to decide how it turns out. GMs wield great power, and if all those years reading comics taught me ANYTHING, it's that "With great power, comes great responsibility"
Thank you Stan Lee, and your many wonderful creations, for trying to help us be better than we are!
Now then The Haze, we all fall down, we all topple our games once in a while. It's not how we stumble that defines us as GMs; it's how we rise.
Rise up, Master C. Rise up and say: "I'm not fudging dice, but I'm not killing my players' party at random either." Rise up and admit that YOU decided to have the goblins attack in such a manner and that, if your players didn't have any fun getting killed, that's on you. Then rise up and make the decision to game consciously, with your players' feelings in mind. You don't have to fudge the dice to have a good time; your players know this and they trust you. You aren't a wuss or cheap if you "let" them win once in a while either.
Rise up Chris; rise up.
Isn't this why there's a creature in the Bestiaries called a Mercane? Also if you're a fan of the Myth series by Robert Lynn Asprin you could simply add Deva, the Infinite Bazar where anything and everything can be found. Of course, then you'd have to offer Deveels, or "devils" that can pop through the dimensions and make deals on items.
Personally I say: if my PLAYERS don't care about price fixing, economics, or magic item purchase, why kill myself over it. But even though it might not be needed for my game, you've done the game a service Peet and your fluff is top notch boss! You have my thanks for an awesome read.
Hmm, this is the OP's first and only thread.....
OMG I'm sorry. I was really snarky upthread. @ the OP: I'm genuinely sorry I was such a little B about my comments.
Still it just seems odd out of context. Please elaborate a bit more:
- what's happening in the game prior to the dragon
Please help those of us telling you to kill the dragon anyway to understand your game and the ranger's objection so we'll give better advice. "The most important rule: Don't be a jerk." It says so right below where I'm typing and I think I may have courted that infraction. If this is your first post I don't want it to be the last.
Umm...yeah, this campaign isn't really about morals and ethics, is it? This game is extremely wonky. You say you found a blood trail that JUST HAPPENED to lead to 700k in a hoard, a dying dragon, and a wyrmling? Just to house/support such a creature I'm guessing you're in the heart of some insanely massive glacier or tundra or icy mountain pass. How did you even GET to this moment in the game and NOT have a conversation about dealing with moral dilemmas?
That all being said, you should not suffer this creature to live. It has existed now for AT LEAST 1201 years; that means TWELVE CENTURIES. Even if, by a freaking miracle, it ate only caribou and elk to sustain itself the entire time, it has likely decimated whole populations of these creatures with its raids, the fear it exudes, and the powers it's breath weapon possesses. Not to mention 2 facts, one previously named and one yet undisclosed:
1. Someone/thing had to be powerful enough to defeat it before you got there (bear in mind it's a CR18 creature)
2. Some white dragon had to be worthy enough to mate with it
So all of this together means that if this thing survives it will need copious amounts of food and thus it will depopulate some local community just for that basic need. It will also need treasure to replace what you stole (more destroyed communities); it will require vengeance (you and it's original defeater are on the menu here) and it may impress it's former mate and others into its service meaning a force of devastation hewing through the land looking for the objects of its vengeance (more destroyed settlements).
Frankly I think there is something way off here that we're all missing, from earlier in the campaign. This encounter, taken out of context, seems mindbogglingly wrong. Dragons like this are the stuff of nightmare and legend; their destroyers are generally equally frightening. Your party just seemed to trip and fall into the path of these world-shaping forces and NOW after you've looted the place and kidnapped a sentient creature with an Int of 6 and the capability of speech so it can therefore beg for its life in draconic; NOW you're wondering if maybe you've gone too far?
Kill the dragon. End its pain. Find the capitol city and then buy it. End the campaign.
The difference (in my actual experience) between a wight being fair and unfair for a level 1 encounter:
GM: you're walking down the hallway and come to a "T" intersection; you spot a...powerful humanoid with rotting flesh
This fight ended poorly for the PCs and I got yelled at for such a brutal random encounter.
GM: Legend tells of the tomb being haunted; not by it's original inhabitant but by a murderer who used it as a hideout. Malek Bane was convicted of murder but swore unto the noose he was innocent. His old gang helped free him literally from the gallows in a daring raid and they escaped into the barrows nearby. So the tale goes the corrupt sheriff drove a posse here in pursuit and cornered Bane and his accomplaces in this tomb, then sealed them inside. Years later a powerful undead force, a creature of rotten flesh, hateful sentience and inhuman strength, was found stalking the inner chambers of the place. Over the years many have tried to cleanse the tomb of this haunt and give proper rest not only to Bane but the other restless dead his mere presence has given rise to. The city has even gained assurance from the church of Pharasma that they will compensate any who complete the quest so long as the original burial artifacts are left where they are found. To date ALL have perished in the attempt.
PCs do research, make rolls...
GM: Bane has exhibited the powers and behaviors of a wight; powerful undead creature (undead traits) with a devastating life-draining touch attack.
The players entered the tomb with holy water, specially blessed arrows (+1 to hit vs undead) and alchemist's fire. Needless to say, my players were very happy to have been so well armed and walked away with only minor scrapes from accompanying skeletons in the tomb complex.
These devils can teleport? Ok, here's what I see happening if it were my game:
...and you return to the inn to rest. Bidding the barkeep good night you pile into your shared room. You lock the door, set up your watch and defenses, and settle into restless slumber. As the witching hour approaches there is a soft "bamf" and the smell of brimstone. You (guy on watch) are suddenly aware of a presence in the room with you.
"Truce heroes...truce. You win." the devil's soft voice purrs. The only thing it bears is a scroll in one hand, a pen in the other. "I didn't come for a fight, I came to deal" (in case anyone gets itchy trigger fingers) "Uh uh uh... I'm here to parlay but if you'd like a battle, perhaps my ladies could serve to dissuade you. They have their bows trained on the barkeep in the town square right now. You might end one, but not both before their work is done. And then there'll be more of us, poring in from the Hells, to burn this place to ash."
The devil sets down the scroll and pen, then brushes off his shoulder. "Or, we could make a deal. You caught us off guard and did some real damage mortals; I respect that. This is the ONLY reason you are all still breathing. However I would offer you more than just your lives in this bargain. You would receive such power as you have never dreamed of. All I would require in return would be a few, minor... CONCESSIONS..." the last word dripping from its bearded mouth and slithering into your ears.
In GM's terms, the bearded devil teleports into the party's room after positioning his last, key troops around the town to maximize chaos and destruction. He then visits the party and offers whatever you feel is appropriate to make them stop attacking his position. Of course he knows full well that such heroes rarely say yes, so he fully intends to give the signal, dive out the window and begin the devastation of the town. Then he sounds the retreat and the outsider troops return to the ruins while their few mortal servants die for the cause.
Finally, while the party is distracted by burning buildings, mooks and general chaos, the devils begin summoning reinforcements and turtling. They call up ever last reserve they can get their hands on so that, when the PCs return, they've got enough firepower to repel them. Oh, and one more thing.
When the bearded devil is close enough, have him read the minds of the players, find out if they care about the barkeep, or the NPC, or someone in town. Then when he's leaving, have him collect that person for leverage. When the heroes bust down the devils' defenses a second time and fight their way to the bearded one, they find this mortal they care about in peril. The devil will happily spare this person if the heroes will yield. Its a classic gambit and if your players are good roleplayers this will be a very satisfying moment for everyone in time.
The senator should have:
dozens of minion miners (counter the sorceress); an enslaved kobold tribe perhaps?
Elemental controlling devices (counter to the antipalidan) - unstoppable force, meet immovable object
Use elementals for defense, like wind wall (counter to the alchemist)
Have DPR focused dominated cohorts (counter to the barbarian)
Have an enslaved angel or other powerful good minion (counter to the necromancer)
Be a ranged bard (counter to the melee bard)
The key to bards that EVERY single adventurer forgets is...EVERYONE likes them at first. Now as a PC just passing through town or choosing not to take the Leadership feat this power is just not useful. When you're a bard/politician though, the minions of the world are your playthings.
1. Diplomacy and Performance skills - these get the villain close to folks and get them to let their guard down. Roll high enough and they won't even care that you're moving on to step 2
2. Spells for domination - Charm Person, Fascinate + Suggestion, some properly optimized feats, and after seducing your mark getting them magically on your side is EASY
3. (hardest part) keep evidence for blackmail/leverage - once you've got, say, an unstable brute who likes to drink on your side magically, get him sauced and then get a lady of the evening to mouth off to him. The brute murders her, and you use an oil to preserve the body. Now when the booze and your spell wear off, you don't care! If he EVER defies you, he rots in a jail cell.
This bard should be sweet, and charming, and genuinely sympathetic. Then as the party gets to know and hate the guy, they should realize that moving against him isn't just a fight with him, but with an ARMY of underlings as well as having to confront the very crimes they themselves can be done in for.
Maybe this bard has made many generous donations to the church of Pharasma. I bet they'd be VERY interested in the cleric with skeletons in his closet. Or how about the church (citadel) of Iomedae? I wonder how fast they'd call a crusade on this party?
EVERY character has things they've done that they're not proud of. Once the senator meets the party he's going to find EVERY one of the PCs flaws. He'll exploit weaknesses, he'll fight dirty, and when it's all said and done, he'll wheedle the party down physically just so that HE can be the one to coup de gras them while helpless.
In the GMG there's a table of personality quirks to give your NPCs; that might be a good place to start. Also books/movies/TV as BBT says. Finally just picking a skill/ability/feat an NPC is known for can suggest their personality. Take 2 warriors - one is a longspear wielder with his heroic array heavily weighted toward Str and Con, wearing heavy armor and having a low dex, however his third highest stat is Int and he weirdly has Knowledge: Arcane. He is known around town then not for his martial prowess but as a knower of arcane secrets. What image does THAT conjure?
The second warior is a halfling, heavily weighted on Dex and wielding thrown weapons. She also took as her feats Catch off Guard and Throw Anything. This warrior's hands are capable of picking up and throwing ANYTHING she can get them on and turn that into a weapon. What images come into your mind when you add THOSE details?
I had a sorceress in 3x with a white owl. She had enlarge person and a scroll of bull's strength. We were stuck in an underground cavern, in front of a chasm, with our escape on the far side. We were also being chased at the time by a horde of goblins. I cast enlarge, transferred the effect from myself to Frostwing, and then "wasted" bull's strength on him too.
My companions grumbled, right up until my Small sized owl hauled all our butts across, one at a time.
Nowadays if I DO run as a player and have a familiar, I always make sure to hold some Transmutation spells in reserve for the little guy.
Where is his druid awakener? I think it'd be cool if the druid also imparted a speak with animals to a young boy and then is gone from the story (dies, disappears mysteriously, whatever). This young lad is the only one that understands Lars.
However, unlike the typical game, Lars is the PC and the boy is the cohort.
Lars has a mission: keep the lad out of trouble. The boy is always wandering into things that could get him hurt or worse: from stumbling in front of a runaway cart to going out to investigate a noise after dark and happening upon a goblin. But Lars is happy, because he's a GOOD boy. When all is said and done this young man is on the straight and narrow; perhaps when he grows up he'll make a fine man.
Lars also needs a crew:
Wolfy - the lovable scamp with a muzzle like a sailor who's sneaky but fair (CG male wolf hound rogue 2)
Fifi - the feme fatale with a bit of dragon's blood in her veins (NG female poodle sorcerer [silver draconic bloodline] 2)
Bruticus - the hulking half-worg always struggling against his darker nature (NG male mutt barbarian 2)
Together, they form: The Pound
Forged in the crucible of justice and using their canine powers for good instead of evil, these 4 unite to keep the city of Barkopolis from descending into chaos. Their arch-nemesis? Why, Madame Minxy Von Whiskerton of course!
This catfolk female is part witch, part rogue, and all bad. She has minions all over the city and plans to make Barkopolis a den of sin and vice. Fortunately for the citizens, they've got a guardian angel...on four legs!
The Pound's only friend is Gavin, a young lad who hears the words and cries of all the animals of Barkopolis. He must keep his power a secret though, should Madame Minxy learn of it she would surely twist it for evil. Gavin helps the Pound when he can, but he's a human boy and cannot remain vigilant at all times. So Gavin then is equal parts story foil and contact.
So now the stage is set. The city waits. Von Whiskerton and her minions grow stronger by the moment. So now it's time to ask yourself: When will YOU howl?
Why, PRECISELY are people bothered by optimization? That's like saying you're bothered by another person's loud fashion at work, or the bragging guy at the dinner party. What would you do, in real life, if someone did something that you felt detracted from your experience?
Honestly, we can debate the application of optimization and it's definitions; we can go back and forth on our own personal experiences. But at the end of the day, who's really bothered? Who has the problem here? And once that's defined, what, if ANYTHING, is that person prepared to do about it?
Interesting 1st level starts:
1. The PCs wake in the middle of the woods; their heads are pounding and their bodies ache. Their gear is scattered around the glen. The area around them is a perfect circle. Unfortunately there are several other mortals, some dead and some terribly wounded. The party had been drawn into a violent fairy revel. Now they find themselves accused of having some hand in the violence and must clear their names. As the game progresses the other participants show weird side effects from the experience
2. The party is gathered together by a griffin. She needs them to feed and protect her young as she's been called by an ancient Geas on an old ancestor to aid a distant druid. The game then requires the party to use their survival skills, care for the children, and defend them from a persecuted centaur who is constantly harassed by griffins due to his tauric appearance (griffins hunt/eat horses).
3. Nobles have come to town and a ball is being planned. The party is hired as agents of one of the lesser nobles not as muscle, per se but as window dressing. The party has been hired and given proper attire to appear as baubles presented by the noble over the course of the next 3 days. The PCs then are expected to step and fetch, perform "in character" for other nobles and generally do non-adventurer things. All the while a rival house has planned something nefarious for the party's employer. The party must find creative ways to thwart attacks against their handler w/out breaking character.
A rat-mounted tunnel blocker:
Kobold Defender/CR 1/4:
Kobold warrior 1
LE Small humanoid (reptilian)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5
AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 19 (+7 armor, +4 Dex, +1 natural, +1 size)
hp 6 (1d10+1)
Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +1
Resist Fire 5, Fort save vs poison +2
Weaknesses light sensitivity
Speed 30 ft.
Melee spear +1 (1d6–1/x3)
Ranged sling +4 (1d3-1); Fire Bomb shot +5 (1d3 Fire)
Str 9, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +1; CMB –1; CMD 13
Traits: Beast Bond, Dragon-Scaled (Red), Firebug, Resilient
Feats Draconic Aspect (Red)
Skills Handle Animal +4, Perception +5, Ride +2; Racial Modifiers +2 Handle Animal, +2 Ride
Gear chain shirt, heavy wooden shield, spear, 10 Fire Bomb shot (+1 Fire damage)
Dire Rat mount/CR 1/2:
N Medium animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +4
AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 16 (+2 armor, +2 Dex, +3 natural, +1 size)
hp 6 (1d8+2)
Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +1
Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee bite +2 (1d6 +2 plus disease)
Special Attacks disease
Str 14, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 4
Base Atk +0; CMB 0; CMD 12 (16 vs. trip)
Feats Skill Focus (Perception)
Skills Climb +11, Perception +4, Stealth +11, Swim +11; Racial Modifiers uses Dex to modify Climb and Swim
Filth fever: Bite—injury; save Fort DC 12; onset 1d3 days; frequency 1/day; effect 1d3 Dex damage and 1d3 Con damage; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Fire Bomb shot is just simply normal sling bullets that add a +1 fire damage to them. I'm making a GM fiat to allow Firebug to work with this ammo, which explains the entry. Hopefully everything else is correct on this guy.
All due respect (you are a doctor) but I think that's a matter of opinion.
IN MY OPINION I've found the opposite in my games. When the players have well-optimized characters that they feel confident won't shatter like glass at the first blind corner of the dungeon, they tend to become MORE bold interacting with the fantasy world I've created for them.
And just for the record: I AM an old grognard. The first campaign I ever ran started at the KotBL - I was 8. I actively rebelled AGAINST 3x until 3.5 came out just because it was such a mind-change from the way I'd grown up gaming. As a result I'm STILL learning how to utilize the resources in PF for PC and NPC creation.
Just a few months ago a friend said he was interested in dusting off the old 1e books, rolling up some throw-away characters and running a hack-n-slash game. I respectfully declined. Despite over half my gaming life devoted to playing that way, I'm sticking with PF because this allows me to customize and streamline my character, game and homebrew world in a way I never could before.
I know a guy at my work, I'm going to call him K. Now K is optimized for his job: he's already got a bachelors, working on his masters - both in business focusing on stats/analytics (we're sales analysts); he's also working out a lot and getting a lot of sleep for his hours of operation; finally he's often shadowing other analysts, taking little extra online courses offered here at work, etc.
K is also optimized in his gear. He has a laptop, several key reporting/analytics reports he's custom designed, and his car is kept in top form so that he can always make it to work. He even optimized where he lives moving from his old place to one 10 min away. He's done EVERYTHING in his power to be a monster at this job.
He's also extremely likable. He's a nice guy but firm, and many of our reps ask specifically to go to him for things.
There's another guy, even further up the chain, similarly optimized; I'm calling him T. Now T already HAS the MBA, is a Greenbelt and is working on his last project to qualify for Blackbelt, and is laser-focused on analytics. He's also a tool; he's mean, backstabbing and often blames others for his mistakes.
Now you COULD say "hey, they just have different Cha stats" but the point I'm trying to make above is that they've both really optimized for their job, but one has a challenging personality and the other doesn't.
I guess I'm trying to say that just because someone has really zeroed in on their build, the numbers, and everything, that doesn't mean their character and RP has to suffer. If they themselves are good RP players, their RP will be good, regardless of their stats. However despite having an 18 Cha, a guy with bad RP skills can still come off with his character sounding like a tool.
Chengar - speaking as a guy that got his thread locked, please don't mention any of the following words in regards to gaps in optimal choices:
Bottom line is - everything has its strengths and weaknesses, and while I disagree with the Devs that the gulf between option efficacy should be so great with some of these, I agree wholeheartedly that some choices might be optimal when compared to all others.
I think where the issue comes in though isn't in these numerical differences...but in HUMAN ones. I am not very good at optimizing for combat, but I want to be. Some of my players however are RIDICULOUSLY good at it; they've gotten so bored they're purposely hamstringing themselves. However they enjoy high-combat games and they as players aren't very good at the "talky-talky" part of the game. I enjoy/am passionate/have studied and practiced for/taken classes for/joined a group for public speaking so I get into this a lot.
My players and I; we play very differently and optimize differently as well. But I respect them and our differences. I hope they respect me. I'm never going to say they're doing it wrong or criticize them for hinderning my enjoyment of the game.
My happiness in this game is ultimately MY responsibility.
That bears repeating: My happiness in this game is ultimately MY responsibility. Just because they're optimized for combat, this does not mean I can't have fun. If they make comments on how to optimize my build, I can choose to see that they genuinely are concerned for my enjoyment of the game and this is how they know to express that concern, or I can choose to be mad at them for what I perceive as their criticism. Also, if it does become hostile or negative feedback in some way, I can choose to leave this group of gamers and find others more conducive to my style.
Ultimiately my enjoyment is my choice, my responsibility.
I made a character recently: Bucky Brambletramp. When I first made him, all I wanted was a halfling ranger with a dog focused on using a sling-staff and being outdoorsy. I wanted him kind, helpful; a genuine hero. Then I got sucked into an arms race w/another player - not his fault; I lost my mind a little and blame only me. The campaign was described as a military one and I was afraid with as much combat as I expected I'd fall behind, be useless. I was OBSESSED with squeezing out every ounce of damage with my chosen weapon. I revised his concept 3 times trying to optimize for ranged DPR. The only thing I wouldn't budge on was the Staff-Sling since I wanted it as central to the build.
I got upset. My little Bucky became more about damage than fun. We gestalted and I went cavalier along with ranger to maximize charging damage. I didn't have any fun while finalizing the character gen process and I had very little fun playing him. I couldn't SEE Bucky in my mind's eye the way I wanted to.
The game ultimately disbanded. In fact, I don't even talk to the very nice couple I alienated through the course of that game.
I could blame the other guy who optimized his PC to do everything I could only SLIGHTLY better based on DPR. I could blame the GM for a military style campaign that was more about exploration than combat. I could blame the game for making the sling-staff a crappy weapon.
None of those are truths though. I had no fun because of the choices I made.
Bucky Brambletramp, the way I see him in my head, is a 3' tall guy with a heart of gold and a mouth like a sailor. He's lived his whole life in one small village and the wilds around it. His family was his family, but so were his neighbors, his friends; heck, even the regulars off the road who drank at the Hobnob House. He and his wolf-hound, Blitzer; they're good people caught in a bad moment. When that village was razed by the goblin mercenaries of a distant power, Bucky didn't care about politics, or soldiers or war. He did his level best to get a handful of friends and family to safety through the wilds; he did this with skill, determination, and he's not ashamed to admit a fair amount of tears along the way. But Bucky Brambletramp isn't a quitter and he's not just going to roll over and take it. So he fights; he fights for those what can't fight for themselves.
That's the Bucky I SHOULD'VE played.
Optimization isn't the problem. It isn't even the other players at the table. If you're not having fun, it's because of choices and decisions YOU'VE made. Own your choices, your character, your game and your fun.
Like many have suggested, it depends on the timbre of the game. If you have 3 players around the table who took a break from a year's worth of highly strategic board and war gaming who also happen to listen to a lot of metal, enjoy b-grade action movies and work highly intellectual, stressful jobs and you hand these 3 an elaborate cat-and-mouse plotline of very subtle clues and political gamesmanship with barely any combat, chances are you'd have 3 PCs optimized for a combat that never happens and a revolt ensues. Trust me...it's happened.
Frankly I watch and see what my players do as they make characters. If they optimize for DPR, cruise build threads and are constantly perusing equipment lists to maximize their AC while minimizing their penalties, chances are I'm not running a highly-RP centered game. On the other hand if my PC paladin takes Skill Focus: Diplomacy and puts 2 stats at a 10 to give himself an 18 Cha, more than likely I'll have a lot of conversational scenes ahead.
Your players will optimize for what they want. Those who frankly DON'T know exactly what they're going to want won't optimize at all. This is life.
Now, you can optimize for one and play the other. You have lots of action hero movies where the lead is very honestly highly optimized for combat but then, at that crucial moment, he turns to the villain and says: "One day, one of us is going to kill the other. If we keep going on this way, that's the only outcome. But it doesn't have to be that way. We don't HAVE to fight. So you had a bad day once and that got you to here. Well maybe I had a bad day too. But we can decide, RIGHT NOW, to sit down in a room together and talk, and try to figure this out. Together." (paraphrased BADLY from The Killing Joke - go read it).
My point is: optimization isn't inherently bad. Everyone wants to be great at their job. If your job involved wandering and murdering, your skillset would be honed in those areas. But there's a difference between "I talk to the town people for Gather Info. I have +20. I rolled a 30." and "I go into the bar, sidle up to the first serving girl I see and ask her if she's tired. (GM reply in girl's voice: why do you ask?) Because she's been running through my mind all day long. I then smile winningly and ask her if she's got a minute to chat... FYI I rolled a 30 for Diplomacy..."
It's EASY to measure a character by numbers and some folks need those kinds of benchmarks to make sense of their world. That is true in RL as well as at the table. We all know those straight-laced types who live their lives on a schedule, or by a set of rules and for them numbers are like mana from heaven.
It's far more difficult to optimize something as esoteric as roleplaying.
Repeat after me: Just because I can or cannot inflict 20 DPR that does not define me as a person...
What do you WANT it to look like? You're the bloody GM. Yes, there exists a spell that lets you teleport all over. If the few wizards/sorcerers/witches/magi of the world were benevolent or at least concerned in some way with commerce, they'd have gifted/sold that magic to merchants and you'd have teleportation circles dotting the landscape.
If however (like in my homebrew of Karnoss) a massive, multi-religion inquisition scoured the land capturing, torturing and ultimately burning all arcanists and their associates a little over a century ago and convinced their respective churches to preach brimstone and hellfire to all those who aspire to such magical pursuits, then more than likely you'd have a grim world of fear and loathing. Then, when these churches have a falling out with their respective inquisitors enacting a holy war that thins the ranks of divine magic too, you have a low-magic world where just making a permanent bowl for cleaning oneself a la Prestidigitation becomes tantamount to horror.
It really depends on what world you want.
Me, I've done both and prefer a happy medium where I don't worry about it. If your players don't really care for such details, why bother crafting them?
If you've got beginner players with you as a beginner GM, I'd go Rise of the Runelords. The plotline and action are pretty self-contained which in my experience translates to "easy to follow" for new players. Giving a bunch of newbies a big empty sandbox to play in (Kingmaker) might lead to "So...what are we s'posed to do?" type moments.
Another thought would be: why not grab the beginner box? It has canned adventures in it, is reasonably priced, and is ideal for, well...beginners.
As to how to get players well...that's a pickle. It came easy to me in HS and college, but nowadays I'm expected to watch football, pay my taxes and not be so weird (at the place I work and in my particular suburb at least). I have found most of my players through threads here on the Paizo Forums. I also REALLY lucked out years ago, when I first moved here. Turned out 1 guy in my wife's Mom's club she joined was into board games. I started out board gaming (something I had never been into) and then through conversation w/him found he'd been into RPG's years ago and wouldn't mind jumping back in.
Anyway, start a thread here, bite the bullet and drive out to those far away games, and maybe play online in the forums. Also find some local coffee houses, games stores, comic shops, sandwich places or other spots you think gamers might frequent and see if they'll let you post a notice. Finally, if you meet some folks that have the interests you do but aren't gamers, chat them up and see if they're into a 1-shot. Make up your own or run a canned adventure, and see if you've hooked anyone.
Notecards - they are the "towel" of my gaming supplies (ref: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). I use them a lot; print a pic of an NPC, paste it to a card w/their name and stuff, then their stat bloc on the other side; they're great for keeping initiative or doing quick math, they can be props or impromptu map canvases, chase scene cards...the list goes on.
These boards: use them, absorb them, become them...ok, maybe not THAT much, but surf around here for ideas, games and help
Hardware: you'll need notebooks, pens & paper, minis and terrain/maps/graph sheets/flipmats etc (if you want; many people don't use minis and just talk out the scenes), dice and a flat surface, and a lot of patience.
Good luck brother, and happy gaming!
Matt Thomason wrote:
Sadurian's HairClassified as an Exotic Weapon, all Sadurians automatically gain racial proficiency. This is a light melee weapon. Damage 1d4 (Small) 1d6 (medium) with a x2 crit. Special Quality: floral destruction
So obviously the above attack was dealing 1d6 +4 x3 to the unattended wall while ignoring hardness. However note it's superiority to all other Sundering weapons since it is classified as Exotic.
Thanks C-note, Nico and Illy-J for pulling some actual numbers on this subject. To everyone: these guys have proven my asser6tion that while the sling deals less damage than a longbow it is not a worthless weapon to build around. There is one more tiny detail to point out though: if the goal is to be able to consistently deal 1/4 the damage needed to bring down an APL - equal CR foe, then because of the bow and crossbow's superiority as a starting weapon it requires less focus for them to get there.
The longbow or crossbow wielder then get the added advantage (after hitting the 1/4 damage mark) of being able to have a secondary focus like a melee weapon, skill focus or what have you. The slinger however needs ALL of their attention focused squarely on their single weapon. This brings me back to my central point - can't we give these guys a break?
An archetype to ease back on the feat consumption or maybe a different range of feats to give them a few tricks NOT related to DPR and provide more utility/versatility?
Maybe a better build for a slinger isn't as a DPR guy. An intimidate master probably fits the bill better with Bludgeoner, Weapon Focus/Dazzling Display, etc. I don't know; it just seems silly to run yourself ragged to make a feat-heavy build to end up consistently outpaced by most competitors if you go for ranged DPR.
@ Grover: I'm in the EXACT same boat! I try to be spontaneous at the table, but in prep I'm a turtle. Here's the prep for my game tomorrow night:
1. I conceptualized a megadungeon for a friend a while ago so I'm re-using the concept. I had to re-site the thing though so...
2. I added a new section to my homebrew setting to have it make sense. This entailed a map of the new area, brief overview of the region's history, names for sights and land features, rivers and lakes, (sound familiar?)
3. I drew up a map of the small city the PCs will start in, near the dungeon. This came with high-level histories, background, NPCs, organizations, plots and conflicts, etc
4. I crafted a quick intro adventure, based in the city, to give a feel for the region. I crafted it module style and laid it out to print (I'll be making a hard copy to take w/me to the game)
5. Finally I began fleshing out the megadungeon concept: random encounter tables, a very rough map, some interesting monster NPCs and a couple minor plot hooks.
I have taken a couple weeks to gather all this together. Now on the plus side the players have said they like the megadungeon concept and the campaign will likely be a series of delves into this place. However should the players tire of the slog or otherwise deviate from this setup, I'll need to start the above process over again.
My advice is to re-use, re-name and re-purpose!
If you devise a little village map on a lunch break or something and don't work it into the game, re-use or re-name it for later adventures. If you spot a cool build on these boards snag it lock stock and barrel, then drop it into your game (just make sure if it goes public you give credit and don't steal/sell marketed material).
I have a lot of my old notebooks from older games. Every so often I thumb through, grab something and drop it in. Also old Dungeon mags, old modules and any other source I can get my hands on. I also keep lists of names; I've bookmarked the Abulafia Random Generators; when I have a few minutes here and there while reports run I grab a pen and some scratch paper and jot builds if they hit me.
In short: I obsess.
But then when I sit down to prep time I try to pull all of these haphazard sources of pre-made material into a cohesive whole. I try; I don't always succeed. Where I fall down though isn't in overprepping or delivering the prepped material; its when I improv combat. If I don't consider the PCs first and just throw a fight out there, I tend to end up with fights way off - either ridiculously easy or insanely hard. Then, mid-fight the disparity starts to hit me I feebly attempt to overcompensate and screw the whole thing up.
Anyway sorry for the wall o text. Hope some of the above helps and I definitely feel your pain.
So a bit of fiction then?
"It's TIME mistress"
Revelda stood, dumbfounded. All around her was a shadowy chaos; some distant sounds of battle in a mist that obscured all around her save her own corpse.
That can't be right?
Revelda Hartsmore was just standing, not a moment ago, preparing to unleash a torrent of scorching fire on the savage goblins that had ambushed her friends. Javek and Cloudsmire, they were readying their usual flurry of greatsword attacks up the middle followed by the halfling's snicker-snack of his hidden knives.
"I need to HELP them!" Revelda started. That's when Gloam, her trusted ally came into her vision. "No, mistress; there is no more aid you can render here. Your path has finally intersected with the Great Wheel. You must move on.
Fear. A terror the young devout had never known. Revelda could no longer feel but she knew she was shaking.
"What? Wait I... I can't..." Her umbral eyes filled with welling tears. "Gloam, please, I can't be done. I have so much left to accomplish! Please, you have to bring me back; I'll do anything!" Revelda's childish looks and truthful soul had melted the hearts of hardened criminals and even a monstrous tyrant, yet the ebbing star of the Lantern Archon before her remained unmoved.
"Good mistress; bargaining. You are grieving. You must move to accept this before the Crossing. It is your only hope of passing the Veil and surviving the Maelstrom to arrive at the Mother's Wheel."
Revelda gritted her teeth. This impudent little gnat! He was HER minion, not the other way around! "I ORDER you to return me at once!" Madame Hartsmore's button nose wrinkled atop her pouting lips; had her comrades been able to see her Cloudsmire would certainly have belted out a laugh.
For his part Gloam remained unmoved.
The mist was suddenly quiet. A muted howl cut the fog and Revelda Hartsmore saw her gruff companion Javek's form kneeling over her corpse ("I'm just a body, growing ever colder") and it suddenly came clear. Their meeting in battle in the market square months ago when the rats got loose; their chats over drinks at the Dusty Mug in the Firmfoot District; the stolen kiss at the Brewfall Festival.
"I love him Gloam..." She'd never said it out loud. She'd felt it a million times and she was SURE Javek shared the feeling. But there was never time. There were the missions and distractions and training and all the trappings and preparations a young wizardess needs done for her chosen profession.
A sudden hope glimmered. The MESSAGE spell. She'd had it going the whole time they'd been scouting through the highlands so they could communicate quietly in the windswept wilds. Perhaps...
"Mistress, please" the soft glow was at once tender and insistent. "Gloam wait. I beg of you. Let me say it. Let me say goodbye."
There was a brief silence. Then the beautiful brilliance seemed to warm visibly. "Of course Mistress. Speak and I would be honored to be your lips" and with that the radiance filled her face as she knelt beside her love, the human fighter known simply as Javek.
And now it was here and the words still wouldn't come. All the things she wanted to say; all the everything welled up in Revelda at once. Her spectral hand quivered. But she could FEEL once more; her face at least felt warm and alive. She could lean in close and see through the fog. The smell of the battle was on him, but Javek still had the appearance to her of a stubborn yet noble man. He was honest and that was a quality so rare as to be treasured more than all the coin and spellbooks in Karnoss.
"Thank you," Revelda managed at last. "Thank you, Javek, for what you gave me, what you are, and all that you will yet become. I love you, faults and all. Let nothing and no one EVER belittle the good your heart holds, for I have seen it and I was blessed to do so. Goodbye my dearest friend." and with that Revelda Hartsmore extended her ephemeral lips to the rough stubble of Javek's tear-soaked cheek.
The man who'd hewn muscle from bone mere moments before closed his eyes and wept, cradling his beloved in his arms.
"It is TIME mistress" The Archon repeated, disentangling from her visage. "I'm ready Gloam." The mist behind the divine spark began to slowly part. "Very good, mistress. Just follow me then; follow the light and accept the Crossing. I will guide you true - that I swear." The lady's face brightened, "Onward by lantern light then, like always. Lead on my sweet companion..."
What if it is a tattooed sorcerer and the familiar was in tattoo form when the sorcerer died?
Well since it says the familiar can transform itself then it stands to reason it can decide NOT to be a tattoo upon the master's death. However unless someone else binds it, any time it wants to transform again it goes right back to the corpse.
That'd be kind of thematic right? Just this black cat materializing on the old witch's grave from time to time (as it reverts to tattoo form, then reverts again)?