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Leonard Kriegler

Mark Hoover's page

5,646 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.

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So I just popped into the Settlements thread on the General Discussion board and learned that the CRB has some solid numbers on guards per city. I'm wondering if anyone has similar numbers for things like how many nobles for a kingdom, how many soldiers per noble or kingdom, and a good way to divide up the political titles?

I never could get a handle on nobles in real life. So in feudal societies, you had nobles based on the right to own land, but how much land made you one kind of noble or another? Like why would someone be a baron instead of a knight, or a count?

As for military I ask that because I've got a couple players wanting to take Profession: Soldier in a new campaign and they want to dive into the minutia of how big the armies are and how they're divvied up throughout the kingdom. They want to be able to use the skill as they level up to work with said military and perhaps at mid or higher levels even call upon favors from the rank and file.

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Krensky wrote:

Let Me Google That For You is just about the epitome of passive aggressive forum douchbaggery KC, especially when the question was already answered.

I expected better from you.

I didn't. He's a kobold for goodness sake. I feel like if I'd clicked on anything my computer would've sprayed Choking Powder in my face.

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Backstories. R_Chance touches on them up thread. And character death too. Yes, some folks are of the opinion that old school = PC fatalities and a lack of backstory.

This is why I think "old school" is completely subjective.

I have roughly as many deaths in PF as I did back in AD&D when we were in HS. That is to say; not that many. Also I still remember the elaborate backgrounds my players used to make, like the half-elven prince of a fallen empire cursed to wander and losing all his skills reducing him to a level 1 druid/fighter/magic-user and others.

People always say "YMMV" and I wholeheartedly agree. Inevitably my experience is NEVER the same as my current buddies. I have one guy that produced a binder with 2 pocket folders from back in the day. One side was full of pre-rolled AD&D characters, the other side was stuffed with six different dead characters from ONE campaign. Said campaign only made it to sixth level.

REALLY? 1 dead guy per level? I fudged dice as my group's DM so PCs would live time and again because my players had put so much into crafting them. A couple of my campaigns got so high in level I had whole lineages of famed adventurers, from grandfather to grandson. Not because the characters died and the same stats were used for Bergen Frothmeyer the Second, but because the character would make to about 11th level, retire, and the player would want to keep playing in a reboot to level 1.

So yeah, my MMV. A lot.

I think "old school" just means however you played as a kid. Whatever thoughts, feelings, experiences and ideas you had back in the day when you first started. It's really nothing more than that to me. That makes the term entirely personal. One player's "old school" is another's "killer GM" or whatever.

And as for new players and kids being raised on MMO's: my kids at 11 and 13 were raised on video games. I'm not ashamed to say that they have logged more hours on some of the kinder, gentler online or PS3 RPGs than I have.

They also routinely come up with cool plans, engage in silly roleplay and generally are more cinematic than any other players I game with, with one exception. There's a group of thirty-somethings I play with who never played RPGs having only done board gaming and MMOs. I have played two sessions with them so far and am blown away by the weird, cool crap they try every game without any thought to HOW they will succeed at said crap.

So I don't think youth, saturation in video games or a generation has anything to do with how much folks do or don't do in the game or with their roleplaying. My suspicion is that it's about their newness to the game.

Players I game with seem to have more enthusiasm to assume a role and try crazy stuff with the less system mastery they have. They don't know HOW to, say, grab a vine, swing over a bog, and chop a bullywug's head off with their axe just as the foe comes shooting up out of the water in a Charge, but they know they want to so they just say that they do that and leave it to me to figure the how.

Other players though with extreme system mastery dictate a litany of skill checks, feats and powers they'll use to inevitably land at learning everything about, say, a witch's plan to infiltrate a village by slowly poisoning patrons of the feast hall with an addictive substance in the food. Said plans are meticulous, suggest possible DCs and are well reasoned. They also involve certain Gather Information scenes which the player handwaves with skill checks that their character has been specifically built to succeed at.

These are 2 different ways of playing. Neither is bad. Neither came from a kid raised on video games. Both are grown adults my age (forties); the bullywug-chopper has only RPG'd a few times and rarely in PF while the diplomancer has been at this for years and has a lot of 3.5 and PF experience.

I just want to play so both are welcome at my table. I picture both differently in my head, even though neither has ever given me a proper description of their character. The female barbarian with her axe, a half-orc; for some reason I picture her with red hair, wild eyes and a blood-smear on her smirking cheek dressed all in crazy hide armor. The other one is an elf wizard with a thrush; I picture him like some stuffy British TV interviewer from the 60's and 70's with pale hair and complexion, really well polished clothing and gear, and very properly de-briefing the folks he diplomacizes.

Whatever. TL/DR; my point is that all of this is subjective. Old school gamers; good versus bad roleplaying; how we enjoy our hobby. All of my experiences above are all anecdotal so of course YMMV and I expect, as R_Chance does that yours does vary. Wildly.

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quibblemuch wrote:
Feh. Kids today, with their music and their pants...

I know right? And their new-fangled desire to build to the numbers and kill everything in the dungeon.


Oh wait, that was my friends back in HS. And College. And after college. And right now.

Stinkin kids...

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Yeah, there's this idea that AD&D and related systems were more roleplaying-friendly. People are confusing imagination with story.

Imagination: Not to be confused with creativity (which has slightly more "new-school" connotations), imagination was heavily encouraged by older editions. Instead of tasks being outlined by your stats, you had to handle them "manually". Examples are diplomacy or trap disabling. The downside to an imagination-focused game is it tends to go against roleplaying the character you want to play (if I can't talk my way out of a fight, neither can my "silver-tongued" rogue). Imagination is a fun feature, though, and one of the key strengths of old-school games.

Story: Story is heavily encouraged by newer editions. It is easier to play the exact type of character you want, and thanks to lower mortality, it is easier to play out that character's arc without worrying about a fatality in the first encounter they're in. This also frees you up to make riskier choices and not play the most optimal build possible (though some degree of usefulness is necessary).

People who find that their groups don't roleplay as much under newer systems are likely just running into groups less interested in roleplaying.

I love everything you're saying here KC Barbeque. It also occurs to me that one of the things that always vexed me in older editions is that I was always a story-driven guy. I had lots of characters I wanted to see go to the end and lots of villains I wanted to develop in front of my players. My friends however were always more imaginative in that they just wanted to keep making up more and more stuff. Dirigibles with machine guns; plane-hopping rods; a magically awakened shark army.

None of their imagination ever seemed to go with my story. Since there was always more of them than there was of me, those were the games we played. Since imagination has a lot less rules and structure than story a lot of my games were just my players arguing with me about how their characters SHOULD have all this cool stuff.

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I'll throw in a second nod towards Raging Swan Press. Everything Creighton makes is geared to save GM's time in prep. They have books of villages, different humanoid tribes, environmental "dressing" books, etc.

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So, here's something cool. I recently got asked to run a PF game for four grown ups who'd never played RPGs or hadn't since HS. I started running it and WHAM! All four grown adults, in their THIRTIES, began acting like what I call "old school" gamers. They're running around looting everything, hack n slash, with not a ton of thought to plot or character. Very much like me and my buddies playing 1e games in HS.

Then I realized something. For these ladies and gentlemen, Pathfinder is THEIR "old school." It also made me realize something else: GODS am I OLD!

Try being 41, with 2 very active kids, and then try drinking/keeping up with/gaming with 4 30 year olds on new years eve. I spent ALL DAY Saturday recovering. On a side note, do you know if your liver can cry?

Anyway, I suppose Old School is just a state of being, a sort of Nirvana that gamers enter when first starting their love affair with RPGs.

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The cantina scene in Star Wars/Episode 4 says it best: "We don't SERVE their kind here. Your droids... they'll have to wait outside." PCs who either by race or perceived occupation stand out from the norm in an area should garner attention in some way and not all of this will be positive.

I don't know that "fear, hatred or other assort-ly negative reactions" is the automatic level of default. It might be as simple as "Unfriendly" on the Diplomacy scale. The lizardfolk walks into a bar and the bartender just shouts "we don't serve their kind here!" Doesn't need to be a lynch mob or screams of abject terror, though I suppose that's a "negative" reaction.

But what if you mixed it up?

Imagine this dude walks into the town and he's singled out by a couple street thugs. They want to fight him, not because he's a monster but because they see him as a threat to their gang. After learning some stuff about him via Diplomacy/Gather Info, the thugs are impressed and admire the Lizardfolk's potential as an enforcer.

Anyway yes; typically PCs should expect some kind of social stigma. These are people who make their living not by working at some job, craft or profession, but rather they murder foes (good or evil doesn't matter), loot the corpses and then also rob those foes' homes or bases of operations. PCs:

- openly carry weapons, wear armor and may at any given time be able to employ earth-shattering magic

- often have no permanent home and may in fact be transients

- Pay no regular taxes or tithes other than the common standard of living

- typically resort to violence when a conflict arises

In my opinion every person in the party that presents themselves as an "adventurer" runs the risk of falling into the above social assumptions. Outsiders are weird; adventurers are little more than pirates; add in a lizardfolk race and I don't think the player should be surprised in a potential Unfriendly encounter.

As always have the conversation with your players. Voice your concerns, honestly hear theirs and try to find a middle ground that's fun for everyone. If the lizardfolk player or anyone else isn't willing to compromise, you may need to just push forward with your persecutions.

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This is why in the comics, the Avengers have a "final solution" for the Hulk and why Batman keeps a suit of armor powered in part by kryptonite. High DPR is fine, when it's focused at evil.

I don't think it is bad to build for DPR, but I think its foolish to build ONLY for DPR and then not expect that decision to bite you in some way. I've seen this happen in my own games, and not always in the form of failed Will saves. The 2h barbarian who has NO ranged weapons; the blaster wizard who is dealing with energy immunity; the brutal dwarf fighter who can't get up to the front line.

I'm not saying that every player should work to eliminate their PC's weaknesses. I do think though that it is the responsibility of the players to understand what those weaknesses are and compensate for them in some way. In the case of the ranger in the example above, it might be prudent to have a "PC subdual plan" prepped. Entangle effects, sleep poison, enchantment negation spells or just Dispel Magic, etc.

Anyway, to the title of the thread no, high DPR is not a bad thing. Understand though that hyperspecialization in any one aspect of the game comes with the risk of falling woefully behind in other areas. Be aware and be willing to deal with consequences.

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I have two daughters who've played several times at home with me. Currently they're 11 and 13, but they've played back as early as 7 and 9. The one thing that never fails: games get very cinematic.

My girls never say to me: I'm going to move up using Stealth and inspect the area; my Perception check is X

Instead it's: I move up with lots of caution. You said there's a clearing right? I'll look around really carefully, try and see if there's anything in the leaves on the ground that looks like a trap. Maybe a weird shape, or a mound or something.

Then when the older one DID find something she thought was a trap; a bunch of vines under the leaves she looks over her spells (playing a wizard) and goes: Ok, I have Mage Hand. I'm gonna pick up a branch, brush away some leaves until I can clearly see the vines. Then I'll pick up a heavy rock and drop it on the vines and other areas in the leaves to see if I can set it off.

In short: my girls see Pathfinder as an action movie, not a game.

If you're running PFS modules, let the kids try anything and get away with some stuff. If they're playing more cinematically try to roll with it.

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@ Mr Green Jeans: yes, a sandbox, but one where the players REALLY take charge. Right now I have three "sandbox" games, all of which I spoon-fed my players plot lines until they took the bait. Not so much sandbox as they are "non-linear."

I want players to sit down to MY table and for THEM to tell ME: here's what's gonna happen. We're gonna go here so we can try to find this or accomplish this goal.

My players just seem so... passive. I get it at level 1, adventure 1, you want a little direction. But by level 5 after we've played this homebrew setting for a year, you STILL need me to give you a set of "potential plot points?"

Seriously. I want my players to take crafting skills and feats; I've even offered them as bonus feats in one game. All three of these games is using the Ultimate Campaign rules for Downtime. I want my players to go, get invested in the gameworld and be engaged as players in what their characters want. Form alliances, build items and businesses, make enemies.

My players want none of this.

My players want to sit down, week after week, and find out who the monster/villain of the week is. They want plots handed to them, then they want those plots to be "you start here... fight these foes... go to here... figure out X and finally... beat the BBEG." Too much American TV if you ask me.

So I guess it's not a different campaign I want. It's different players. Anyone in this thread interested in a sandbox and living in MN, USA?

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I frickin LOVED Van Helsing. Every Inquisitor I've ever made in PF has been modeled after Jackman's character. The main female character was super hot (in my opinion), the villains were super over the top but in a good way, and Jackman himself was very good. Plus... David Wenham. Oh yeah, you KNOW you love everything this guy does. His voice overs on Ultimate Warrior, Faramir in LotR, EVERYTHING.

In looking through this thread, I'm realizing I seem to only like "bad" films. Do the movies Cube and Cube 2: Hypercube count as "bad?" If so... I'm IN!

And last, but certainly not least: Keanau Reeves. My defense of this legend of acting goes as far back as River's Edge with Crispin Glover and Dennis Hopper. Bill and Ted, Fatherhood, My Private Idaho, Feeling Minnesota... he's done PLENTY of great jobs.

My own personal fave though? Con... Stan... Tine.

That's Right. I said it. I thought he was AWESOME as John Constantine. I haven't seen John Wick, so for me Constantine was GENIUS!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go watch The Replacements for the 121'st time...

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I'd like to run a game where the players really guide the action. I mean really. Like, I just set up the setting but really get into that setting y'know? Like multi-paragraphs of history, locations, etc. Then I just turn to my players and go "what do you want to do?" From there, they just go and I just tell the players what they see when they get there.

This is how we used to play when I was a kid. I guess most of my games nowadays are an effort to re-create my childhood. Sad, I admit.

Anyway I used to just show up with my homemade (read: terrible) map, lots of info if people asked for it, and then the players had their own motivations and goals. Like when my buddy waned from level 1 to have an elemental-powered sword and through the whole campaign he just guided the party to different locales until he assembled everything he needed for the Artifact Sword of Water.

FYI; that sword is how my homebrew's "Second Age" ended. It was used to open a gate to the elemental plane of water thereby drowning an entire empire. Unfortunately my buddy's PC was killed in the process so... Atlantis.

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I like Keanau Reeves. That's right, I said it. I also like Nicholas Cage. Not in a "ha ha, I'm ironic and I wear a vest and have a goatee and call myself a hipster but also I'm making fun of the whole movement because I'm witty and clever" kind of way.

No, I LIKE them. I think their acting is great. I think both could do some serious acting if given the pairing with a great director. Would they ever win academy awards? I don't know; I'm not into awards shows.

I also like Vin Diesel. I think Pitch Black or whatever that first Riddick movie was called was some of the greatest action I've seen in a long time. "I'm gonna kill you with this cup." Yeah, he said THAT. And it was awesome, and you watched the heck out of it.

Y'know what else I liked? Soldier with Kurt Russel. Don't know if it qualifies as "Bad" for the purposes of this thread, but I don't really care. I like the main character for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is Kurt Russel. But one of the reasons to love him is the same reason I love the Clone Wars cartoon: he calls ANYONE "sir." And that freaking line:

- What are you going to do now?
*close up on Russel*
- I'm going to KILL them all sir.

That line was delivered in the most chilling way possible: as a statement of ABSOLUTE fact.

MY GOD I love the films in this thread! Ok, tomorrow the wife and kids are on their own. I'm going trolling through Netflix for Legend with Tom Cruise, followed by Hawk the Slayer and ending with Ice Pirates!

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What about a version of #18 that's not a garden, but an orchard. The spell used is similar to Meld Into Stone but with a much longer duration which is renewed every so often by the "Gardeners." The spell isn't defensive but an imprisonment; the victim is forced to merge with the trees for a certain duration (sentence) while the tree itself grows around them. The occupants are conscious, so their loved ones or victims can have monitored visits.

Because of this consciousness and the fact that the victims are inside a living organism, they also develop an empathy with their tree. The prisoners then feel the joy of each new branch, the sorrow of loss when their fruit is harvested and perhaps even some discomfort when insects burrow in or limbs are pruned.

Finally, since they are a conscious but captive audience, they are occasionally spoken to by the clergy tending to them. This adds a final, rehabilitative function to the Gardens. The "Gardeners" remind the prisoners of their crimes but also inform the convicted of how the world around them goes on. The clergy offers lectures on justice, civility and manners; they encourage repentance; absolution is made available.

Now since the Meld Into Stone spell isn't permanent it has to be renewed once in a while. The criminals during this time are interviewed through use of spells by a "parole board" of sorts. If they are truly repentant they are allowed to help work on the grounds for a time and then released back into society for "good behavior." If they lie or attempt to otherwise escape their imprisonment they are remanded back into their trees.

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Ok Z-dawg, the main gist of your concern seems to be: how do I justify spontaneous NEW knowledge that the PCs get in their new level that they didn't do anything to practice for previously?

Imagine a POTENTIAL day in the life of a PC:

1. you wake up


2. you fight evil for 15 minutes


3. you go to bed

So for this particular guy, this particular day, there's a lot of unused time in an 8 hr day. What's he doing with all the time you DON'T see on "screen?" Well, practicing techniques that will develop into feats, studying notes and formulae for potential new spells, etc.

Pathfinder is an abstraction at heart, from combat to crafting items to disarming a trap. The training needed to gain a level is just another abstraction.

I don't remind my players to practice anything for new feats/spells/powers etc. I figure it like this:

For an hour each morning Blasto the Magnificent has to study his wizard spells. Included in that spellbook are notes on how the arcane energies behind the spells are tapped and controlled. Blasto thinks "So with an Acid Splash spell, I'm conjuring a nanojule of Earth energy, using hand gestures #3 and #7 to keep the energy flow in check and then directing that purely by will which gives it a short duration and manifestation time (Instantaneous damage effect at Short range). What if, instead I used some foci to direct and enhance manifestation? Old Master Flimfart at the Akademie used to say that an adder's stomach was good for such things, but I'll need a catalyst to activate it. Perhaps... RHUBARB LEAF of course! I still need something to direct the enhanced energies. A dart should do. Now I just need to practice summoning larger quantities of energy..."

Meanwhile Sir Squarejaw, the mighty fighter, is just standing around. Realizing that the wizard is lost in his book and that the ranger just went out for her morning hunt and that the cleric is praying to the dawn, Squarejaw is kind of bored. Seeing that the fire is down to embers and knowing that the ranger will need a cooking fire when she returns, the warrior decides to chop some more. Taking his axe to a couple logs he wonders aloud "How can I keep my Power Attack swings from being so wild and uncontrolled. That last battle with those goblins my accuracy was way off; if I don't get this handled it might mean life or death! Wait, there was a technique Sir Stonealecrafterbeard the dwarven battlemaster showed us once: the Focus of the Furious he called it. Let's see, grip the axe like so... sideways stance, bouncy knees... and GO!" Suddenly all the energy in his Power Attack is controlled into a single, focused blow to the log splitting it mightily and sending the pieces flying. "Great!" Sir Squarejaw thinks, "But can I do that again, in battle? When it really matters? I better keep practicing with different attacks..."

I imagine all of the above happening retroactively when my players tell me that the wizard is going to take Acid Arrow at level 3 and the fighter is picking up Furious Focus. Now, if the players want to RP all of that in some way, I'm game. Anything that makes them more engaged in the story and setting and gets us away from only saying "I attack; hit AC 23; 21 damage" at the table is good for me.

For example I have a game I'm a player in. I know my character is going to next take a dip into the Hunter class even though his Favored Class is Warpriest. I know my GM doesn't care but I like roleplaying such changes so the last couple games while our characters have been traveling, during in between moments I've been telling the other players my character feels drawn more to the energies of nature here and how his mount seems more wild but also more alive than ever before. My PC has also described how his father once dwelt in these lands as part of a pseudo-druidic sect; my PC feels the energies of sect calling to him.

In other words: ask your players what they want and let that be your guide.

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Used in one of my games: Behold the legend of Ghostshirt!

- Prestidigitation to slowly move a Small sized, 1 lb shirt
- Prestidigitation to draw a ghostly face on said shirt
- Ghost Sound to make... ghost sounds
- A scroll of Obscuring Mist at the end

The setting: PCs are attempting to ascend an earthen ramp up to a ruin. The path is only 10' wide cutting through a pair of sheer cliff faces. In one side of the cliffs, kobolds have gouged out 2 murder holes and are set to rain down javelins and slings on the PCs as they run up.

The result: "Ghostshirt" slowly rises up through the fog, blocking 1 murder hole, then the next. Meanwhile the PCs are moving up along the far wall. That means even when the kobolds can see past "Ghostshirt" they only see vague shapes moving through the mist (PCs are 10' away from kobolds in mist, so Concealment) and they can't track the party by sound because of the tortured moans and chain rattling emanating from the undead in their midst.

It was so ingenious I rolled Will saves for the 4 kobolds; 2 actually failed a DC 12 Will save and fled screaming about "Ghostshirt" in draconic. Now there is a kobold legend about the thing as an omen of death; once the PCs made it to the top they handily slew a tatzlwyrm which the kobolds were worshipping as a divine herald of their dragon god. So:

If you're a kobold in my homebrew, and a fog begins to roll in, beware. First you hear the terrible sounds of the damned soul. Then, rising out of the mist comes Ghostshirt; its neon face a cruel mockery of what it was in life. You have mere moments to live for Death follows in Ghostshirt's wake.

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Wait, are you saying there's a caster/martial disparity? I'd never heard that on these boards. Do tell.

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I agree w/a couple posters here: Phil has let stuff pile on for a while. We saw him vent once before, when they found the secret arctic base. But this was more personal.

I also agree: Ros and Phil didn't get that much on-screen development. But then, I think that helped up the shock value for me as a viewer. "Oh, how quaint. They're finally sharing that burger they... wait, what? Is that blood?" and then she's gone.

Now Phil has been very angry with EVERYTHING for a while now, but specifically Ward for a bit. He sent Hunter to end the man and was cheesed off that Hunter failed. Then a phone rings.

Whether the audience has seen it or not, you liked this woman and were finally vulnerable with her. You might've even loved her. Now you're on the floor with her bleeding out in your hands and the phone rings. Your mortal enemy, a man you hate enough to want dead, gets on the line and says "Nananana Boo Boo, Stick your head in Doo Doo, now we're even"

Oh yeah: there's that old crazy I've had stored in the back of my brain now.

To Set's point, the whole Phil punching his way through a Hydra squad, parachuting into otherworld and then crushing a man's chest until he dies thing is a tad tropey. But I have to admit for me it was satisfying. Phil's taken a lot on the chin over the years. Not only that but Ward is like a tick Phil just can't get rid of. Now, FINALLY he's got the man, shot him twice, and ended him.

Personally I feel for Phil. He's far more human, far more likable than most of the other characters. Ros was that way too. We didn't get to see much of their relationship onscreen, but we saw enough of Ros to know she and Phil were regular people.

By that I mean everyone else in the show acts like soldiers, or they have super powers, or they're action hero tropes and such. Ros and Phil are the classic Marvel set up: what if you drop totally normal humans into a world of super heroes?

Ros honestly believes she's helping save people. She's snarky, has a very personal story about her ex-husband and appeals to Daisy on a very human level despite not having ANY point of reference to what it is to be a mu... I mean Inhuman and to be hated and feared for your "gifts."

Bottom line: I like Phil. I liked him in his movie cameos. I liked his development in Avengers. I like him as the agent and later the director of SHIELD. I also like Ros. I like the actress in other roles she's had on Newsroom and other shows, and I like her character in this show.

Now she's gone and my buddy Phil has one more good thing taken from him. He's lost so much. He's sacrificed so much. Sure, it comes with the job but it's WARD. He was part of the team, part of the job; now he IS the job. I'm so sick and tired of this arrogant punk, taking whatever he wants and blaming everyone else for it. And now ROS? Right here, right in front of me? On our first... REAL... DATE?

No! The line must be drawn HERE and no further!

... Wait, that was another guy in charge that lost it over the "job." Nevermind...

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Yes, PF has bloat. OD&D had bloat if you count the boxed sets (expert, basic, etc). AD&D had bloat from settings. 2e had bloat (I'm looking at you character kit books). The OP already mentioned 3e and beyond, so I wont speak to those.

So every system has bloat (or "meta" as the OP puts it). Many systems though, PF included, do a good job of keeping the core fresh so you can pick and choose what gets used.

Think about it: you go to a buffet. Are you EXPECTED to eat everything that's out? Of course not; you pick and choose what you want in your body at this time.

Why should playing your hobby be any different?

You pick and choose: what modules you run, where you want your homebrewed plot to go, and how much magic you'll offer the PCs in treasure. Why then should you feel obliged to offer EVERY option to the players when you yourself have placed strictures on your own limitless power as a GM?

Don't ever feel guilty for disallowing material.

Now as Raynulf pointed out: 5e is a completely different animal. Their design ethic, their content, their mechanics; everything is different. In fact, most systems are dissimilar to PF in many ways. If you need a break from PF, take one. Inevitably though you will find fault with those systems as well.

I love me some Marvel Super Heroes, but it's hard to run a campaign in that system. PCs advance at a glacially slow pace and some of the rules have gray areas as big as the grand canyon. I also loved the moody angst of Werewolf, however get yourself a couple rules lawyer players and that grit goes right out the window as most "rules" are at best loose guidelines.

The point is: no system is perfect and none that I play is completely devoid of bloat.

So, what do you do when you have PCs that can whip off 27 damage 9/day? Why, you hand that right back to them of course.

As Nukulo the Apocaflame roasts his way through a few encounters, a rat gets away through a crack in the wall. That rat is intercepted by a ratfolk druid who nearly wets herself at the thought that this abomination is a mere 100' from her domain. Knowing she can't compete she advises a few of her kin to take the better part of valor and they flee topside.

Outside they run afoul of some goblins. One of the male warrior ratfolk is captured and tortured for info: Nukulo is mentioned before the poor fellow is ended by the zealous ministrations of a bugbear. Of course the goblins want to go and capture the Apocaflame and drink his blood for its fiery powers. The hobgoblins managing the lair however know better. Such magic needs to be eradicated.

Enter Malus Asbestus, the hobgoblin warpriest. He's trained in toughness, can give himself a couple rounds of Energy Resistance: Fire as a Swift action and has phenomenal saves. Malus has been hand-picked to lead a strike against Nukulo.

So the players come up out of the dungeon, Nukulo grinning with pride as the place collapses into smoldering ruins, when suddenly a horn sounds. A wave of expendable goblins comes over the hill; Nukulo's 7th fireball wipes them out so hard their kin forget they ever existed at all. Then from the side another wave comes and the 8th fireball drops. Nukulo is beginning to become annoyed. Coming out of invisibility mere feet from the wizard, Malus Asbestus materializes with his weapon drawn.

Aha! But the Apocaflame is not so easily bested. He darts back and dumps his 9th, triumphant fireball! The smoke clears and Malus merely brushes some soot from his pauldron. "My turn." he grins. Suddenly he lunges forward in a surge of Divine Favor unleashing 25 damage in a single hit.

Nukulo, who has never actually sustained damage in his career is shocked and appalled. How DARE this plebian draw Nukulo's blood! The audacity is...

The wizard realizes slowly that his party is engaged with the third wave of goblins. There is little space to flee. All of his daily spells were spent on massive fire damage which doesn't seem to phase his foe who is standing uncomfortably close. The wizard withdraws thirty feet, back to the edge of the smoldering ruin he just created. Malus sneers.

"You've lobbed your last fireball, frog-kisser! By the unholy edicts of my liege lord you must be eradicated from the FACE OF THE EARTH!" The hobgoblin lurches forward once more, his 2 handed sword hurtling in a dangerous arc toward the wizard's neck.

Is this the end of Nukulo?

Who cares. The bottom line is that if he does a ton of fire damage, build in an encounter that removes that damage. If he switches, the warpriest uses a Swift to layer on a different energy resist.

There are solutions to the problems in this thread. They're not perfect, nor are they infallible, but they exist. They exist because Paizo knew: eventually the PCs are going to vastly outstrip the monsters by the law of averages, even just using the Core. The design ethic then is:

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Optimize your encounters to suit the optimization of your players. Rise to the challenge they lay before you. Utilize ALL the vast resources you have at your disposal. Then, when next you reboot your campaign, feel completely at ease with offering only SOME of the delicious smorgasbord that is the bloat of PF.

We all need to diet sometimes right?

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Scrolls. Consumables like potions or minor wondrous items that give you an extra spell to cast. Also summoning spells; crowd up the battlefield with a couple "negative spell absorbers" which, if not targeted by Confusion instead provide a wall of flesh to keep you defended for a round while you buff up.

For that matter mundane tricks and tactics. A simple Smokestick for example removes line of sight. Maybe it only lasts a round at this level, but that's a round you can take prepping for an attack instead of playing on the defensive.

Basically you want to move from damage control/restoration to offense right? Well the only way you get there is consciously deciding to be offensive rather than reactionary. When the "BS" spells hit is it better to have dropped several D6 damage on your foe and then throw a scroll of Restoration on your friend or vice versa.

Lastly talk to your fellow players and GM. Let them know your concerns and ask what you can do as well as maybe asking them if they're willing to change.

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I've thanked Paizo over and over on these boards. Their responsiveness to fans in print an online is amazing in this day and age.

I've also mentioned the options before, but not just for character creation. The whole game is modular, which means villains too.

As a GM who finally has some time on their hands once in a while it's nice to think about exactly what villain I'd like to throw at a group of heroes and then BUILD that villain. I've had

- A kobold courtesan who went from villain to NPC

- A fey-tainted bugbear who exuded and reveled in preternatural fear

- A tatzlwyrm ranger who really used natural traps to her advantage

And many others besides. Further I like that because of the balance of some of the numbers I can reskin monsters for whatever I need. Take the simple sprite: a CR 1/3 Tiny creature with some minor at will cantrips and light aura. Change up those powers using other cantrips from the Wizard, Cleric or Druid spell lists and you've got dozens of CR 1/3 to 1/2 (depending on how combat-centric you make them) to add diversity in your game.

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Snapping Flank is listed as a Combat and Teamwork feat even though it's from the Monster Codex. If it's legal and you meet the BAB +9 prerequisite you've got a Swift Action bite attack against a foe you and your teamwork ally are both flanking.

Pack Flanking + Outflank + Snapping Flank = at the very least a +13 Swift bite for both you and your Animal Companion (if your AC has access to your Teamwork feats).

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Thank you Paizo.

I have said these words many times and will likely continue to do so. This and many other threads over the years have illustrated the frustrations with slings: not that we need them to do the SAME things as bows but to have equally interesting options.

They delivered.

Sure, you've gotta be a Halfling. Sure, not all of the feats are perfect. But now you've got the chance, between Slipslinger, the other new styles and the Ranged Tactics book to use a sling to deliver accurate shots, deal modest damage, drop energy cheaply on your attacks and also disarm or trip from range.

And you can do it all with a SINGLE weapon, the Halfling racial weapon.

Halflings everywhere are FINALLY holding their chins up. No longer are they JUST the slaves and peons of the other PC races. I can imagine a group of Halfling slaves, tottering around an playing up to their overlord, all the while fixing a handkerchief to the handle of a garden trowel and smiling...

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I've always wanted to run a random campaign. I do mean random. Grab every random generator table I can find that relate in some way to PF and the game's default setting, then just start running.

Everyone rolls up characters while I randomly generate the first "hex" on the map. There's no BBEG, no overarching plot until some random combination of rolls generates it.

This seems like a "crazy" idea to me because, after the age of 15 I haven't found a single player who's willing to go along with it.

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With polite respect to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in this thread and others who think new school or new gamers = entitled, I politely disagree. Again.

Y'see I'm raising two girls. They both act "entitled" despite my best efforts as a parent. Before I get condemnations of being a terrible dad remember: when we were kids we were transitioning out of our parent's tech into our own and tech moved with the generations.

My girls have never HAD to use an encyclopedia or the card catalog for example; there's Google.

Now that's not a couple years... that's their WHOLE life. Imagine if your entire life you'd never even had to research anything in the traditional, library sense. Your entire life you could just click some buttons and ANY info you've ever needed is at your fingertips. If Google didn't have it, a dozen other searches might reveal it. If you're still not finding it you can network instantly in real time with folks who may know.

Now when I was a kid we were TRANSITIONING to that tech so I could at least identify with my parents, then rebel and reject them for my own peers, and thus be called "entitled" because my own sloth propelled me to using easier methods than what my parents used.

My kids have NEVER known any harder way so they're not "entitled" because there's nothing to compare against.

Now how does that translate to games?

My girls and other teen or twenty-something gamers I've met simply don't know other styles of gaming. They're not actively snubbing older methods in favor of their own, they are ignorant that other methods exist.

I'll also re-iterate: there've always been gamers who were sneaky with their numbers, whined about character death and like concessions to go their way. When we were kids we called them whiners; nowadays we call them "new school."

With all due respect to my colleagues in the gaming community, I don't hold with this opinion.

New school gaming to me is more about player options and player-centric gaming. Since the advent of 3x D&D I've seen more games than not focus on players and their needs versus the needs of the GM. Classic D&D, Runequest, Call of Cthulu and Cyberpunk and anything by Palladium all strike me as games where it was strongly expressed that the person running the game had most if not ALL the power and your only role as a player was to do your best not to get killed TOO quickly.

Then 3.0 and further editions came out. Suddenly players had tons of splat books; they had access to most if not all the rules; they could engineer and optimize their characters specifically to BEAT the crux of the campaign. They weren't generic templates that got incrementally better at what they'd been doing since level 1 and begged their GM for items; THEY had the power to craft their own items, feats, skills and powers at nearly every level to combat the threats unique to their experience and some hard rules on HOW to accomplish these tasks.

So in the end, here's MY opinion:

Old school = the GM (or equivalent) has the majority of the decision making power on how the game goes

New school = the players have at least an even say in what happens to their PCs in most situations

Do you agree or disagree?

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Boomerang Nebula wrote:

@ Mark Hoover

Do you mind if I use your character story for inspiration?

Do it.

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Folks in my games have been using these techniques for years. I had one guy recently make a paladin with the Rich Parents trait; he re-flavored it to being gear/gold he acquired over years campaigning as a soldier.

Basically the paladin had first been an NPC Warrior class; a soldier who rose through the ranks over a 5 year campaign. Once his time in the army was over he was sick of the carnage and retired to a life of marriage, children and pious devotion to a small village church.

Since he'd taken Knowledge: History and Knowledge: Religion he explained the retired soldier became a sage and priest for this small village. Often the locals or adventurers would come to him and seek his counsel. During decades of relatively sedate life his skills waned, explaining why he's no longer as killer-y as he was in his youth.

During this time he also explored his faith. He learned more of the goddess he served. The paladin no longer just paid lip service but honestly began to understand and believe in the faith. Then a group of bandits kidnapped a little girl.

So this ex-soldier is now a country priest but he's also a father. When adventurers try to save the girl and get their heads handed to them, they return to the church begging for aid. The country priest puts down his books, opens a dusty old trunk and solemnly draws his longsword.

Now he's kept up with weekly practice with his skills so he's not a total newb again, but he hasn't faced a real foe in decades. The priest rides out with the adventurers, battles the bandits and finds that his skills are tempered with wisdom, faith. In the heat of rescuing the little girl the priest discovers his true calling as a paladin of his goddess.

There's a lot of cool ways to run these types of stories.

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I don't mind cheesy options from my players; monsters can use them too. As far as weaseling out of tough situations by using "cheese" that's been going on forever. Its just that when I was a kid playing 1e D&D we called it "roleplaying."

- pouring water down a hallway to figure slope
- throwing chalk dust everywhere for invisible creatures
- using torches and tracking the smoke to detect secret doors (from the draft)

Yeah, gamers have been gaming their systems since there were games. Rather than fight it these days when my players do these things I use just as many low blows. Monsters taking advantage of every Size difference, terrain bonus, and situational modifier I can think of. Speaking of Prestidigitation one time I had some mites working with carrion beetles. I made the mites prestidigitate all the heroes to smell like rotten meat. At first they were like "eww, but whatevs" until the beetles began swarming.

Good times.

Also, Swiss.

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The thing that makes playing a cleric boring is that all you're ever doing is improving on what you have. You get pretty much everything you're GOING to get at level 1.

This is old school D&D.

As a result the ONLY thing that differentiates you from other clerics is the feats, skills, traits and domains you focus on. This in my opinion is where fluff comes in.

If you're working with Golarion, let's look at Erastil:

First off, alignment. Erastil's cleric alignments on the Pathfinder wiki are listed as LG, LN, or NG. Right there you've got pious champions of good, stoic law-touters who care nothing for good and evil and folks who use any means at their disposal, lawful or not, to promote the general good.

Pretty diverse.

Now on to Domains. Animal, Community, Good, Law and Plant. That's 10 possible combos, 10 different clerics. A NG Animal/Plant cleric of Erastil is nearly a druid; a LG Good/Law cleric is practically a paladin.

Take all the above a step further.

Looking at the fluff on the wiki there's no mention of a strict hierarchy or organization for the clergy. I take this to mean that each church or shrine is roughly a reflection of the clergy who frequent it. So a NG Animal/Plant cleric might be of a sort of druidic sect of primitives while the LG Good/Law cleric might be a soldier in a divine army.

I think then for me the only thing that makes clerics interesting is diversity. Granted, every class has this built in and the cleric has less archetypes to reflect this diversity, but still there's a certain amount of fun I get from creating the fluff around my clerics.

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GM Tribute wrote:

But I am surprised that today most players expect no character death and all encounters must be strictly CR balanced. Traps can no longer kill and a player can demand a certain magic item be available because his build depends on it. What, no sabretooth sabres here in Lothlorien? what kind of crappy city is this?

I am concerned the search for consistency such as that promoted by PFS has stifled creativity.

I have to politely, but VEHEMENTLY disagree. I don't buy this "players today" line. Players when I was kid whined, complained and one time even kicked over a TV tray when they got killed. They HATED rolling up new characters and fully wanted if not expected that their wussy level 1 magic user would grow up big and strong, get a tower and 1d4 apprentices and be flying around casting Death spells.

People want their characters to survive and they b***h about it when they die. This has always been my reality. Not ALL the people but enough that I remember them. This isn't a generational thing, doesn't have anything to do with video games and isn't because of a new game system.

The whole wanting magic items for a build thing is more new, more 3x and PF specific, but I can remember back to a lot of games where PCs were sort of gear-centric. Super Heroes, Rifts and Cyberpunk leap to mind.

Now the easy CR thing is frustrating, I agree. I still like though that with Pathfinder I can BUILD encounters the way I BUILD characters. There's nice, easy guidelines to ramping up my encounters to make them a challenge. I can tack on a template, add on PC classes or just add HD with all that brings.

Yes, pre-written adventures are pretty low-challenge, but you can ALWAYS add something to them. Hell, if you're really "old school" you should be used to taking a pre-gen adventure, keeping the maps, and then completely re-tooling it to fit YOUR game.

I don't know Trouble with Tribute, maybe you're right and kids these days don't do it right. But then, maybe they do and WE were doing it wrong the whole time.

The thing I appreciate about PF though is the ease with which I can make it MINE or more importantly ours at the table.

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First villain in a long time: I'm glad he's dead. I sincerely hope he stays dead.

Kudos to David Tennant. "Ew! You like the NEW Dr Who? Why?" Because, Tennant. I've been saying since Harry Potter that he does a good crazy and it's nice to be proven right.

I've seen him as a crazy wizard in Potter, as silly Dr. Who, and as a brooding cop in a British show called Broadchurch. His villain in JJ Kilgrave is like a combo of all three at times.

But MAN was he sick!

Every single episode, even the Kilgrave light ones, I wanted to take a shower in my brain. I've seen serial killers on TV shows before and yeah, there's a disregard for human life, but it's NEVER been portrayed like this.

Kilgrave just waves a hand, says a few words and BAM! Life either ruined or ended. He never looks back, or considers later or even freaking BLINKS! OH so much creepy!

But EVERYONE in this show is creepy.

- Luke Cage just batting people around with a slap
- Jessica pushing people into walls, through glass windows and breaking open doors
- Nuke dealing with the detective in the aftermath of Kilgrave's escape

Hell even TRISH and her MOM are creepy at times.

I'll reiterate what I mentioned before. DD is about a guy actively trying to become a hero so there's hope in that show. The last long shot of Jessica, debating whether to call herself a hero in the narration while the character is too wigged out to even pick up the phone and realizing she's struggling with just helping people... that is a BLEAK image.

So the first Avengers movie was comic books for grown ups; Marvel: Agents of Shield is similar; Netflix Daredevil is slightly darker.

Jessica Jones takes all of those "adult" steps, unleashes bodily fluids on them, grinds them into the dirt and then waits til they get back up so it can punch them in the FACE!

Everyone reading this thread that hasn't yet should stop everything you're doing and go spend 13 hours straight absorbing this!

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I currently have a campaign that recently died. The PC in that game was at 3rd level and had Craft: Weapons. She also had Mending and Make Whole. Finally, she had a Valet archetype familiar and a cart.

Since the game and PC were forcibly "retired" I've had this gal show up in other campaigns as a traveling weapons' tinker. She finds gear tossed aside by adventurers; orc axes, goblin spears, spent arrows and sling bullets, etc. She then applies Make Whole, Mending and Craft: Weapons to either repair the devices or make them better.

Given that her backstory had her growing up in a gypsy caravan before becoming a wizard I turned her "cart" into a covered traveler's wagon. She appears here and there, or is spotted in a city market, and often has scrolls for sale along with her other goods.

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Why has it been 2 months. Succubus in a grapple people! No WAY this ever gets old.

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If you're asking if anyone cares about the characters' backstories, the resounding answer from my own tables would be "only if Mark's GMing." That isn't a toot of my own horn; it's because I homebrew everything.

See when I'm making stuff up and running it, it has to involve PCs' backstories. If a guy writes a Lamashtan cult into his backstory, he's gotta know that's gonna come up somewhere. However the other GMs in our group all run AP's. To paraphrase a famous animal documentary: APs don't give a s**t!

Seriously. I have a Halfling warpriest in the current Reign of Winter campaign. He took one of the campaign traits and I wrote a whole couple paragraphs on him. Basically he was a hunter, trapper and son of a devout Erastilin ranger. His father had been driven to these lands by an incident with the White Witches but had survived to tell the tale. He was accursed though and died from said curse informing me of the truth (he froze to death before me!)

It was a cool (pun intended), fun and interesting explanation why my character was a warslinger, warpriest, and specifically had the skills, powers and traits he has. It even helps define why I chose the Divine Tactician archetype and why I ride a wolf mount. All of that and I left open some plot hooks for the GM to tie my character into the action of the first book.

We're nearly done with the first book. My character is still referred to as Halfling by the GM. I doubt she even remembers my backstory.

This isn't her fault. APs don't really have a lot of wiggle room to insert you directly into the plot. Not directly anyway. Maybe open-ended stuff like Rise of the Runelords or Kingmaker. I suppose in Reign of Winter it COULD'VE been used in one of the 2 villages of the first book, like as a side quest or a social encounter, but I really don't think it would be very easy.

So in short: caring about your backstory is a luxury afforded by the type of game that hits the table. Since most posters here are concerned with numbers, builds and absolutes, I don't think many post fluff along with said builds. It wouldn't make much difference to the numbers and if a portion of the games out there don't even access said backstories for plot or game material, why bother putting one out there?

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This is a game of numbers. Since numbers and rules are absolutes, it's easy for posters to the boards to optimize only in terms of numbers. You can't debate optimizing for greatsword over hand axes in your build; over time your damage and accuracy numbers will simply always be better with the greatsword over the hand axes.

So on these boards fluff like backstory will always come second. That being said, there's no reason why in real life it has to.

If you're fluff guy/gal, flaunt it. Create fun and interesting characters, define them, and really try to model your characters from that text. If that's your zen embrace it.

I myself prefer a mechanics first, fluff second approach. Its not that I don't like creating stories around my characters. Rather its because most of the time I don't really know what I want my character to be.

Most of my GMs lately have allowed dice rolling instead of point buys for stats. I roll my dice, think about where the numbers fell and consider what the best class would be. From there I ask questions of my GMs about the world and form an image of what race would fit into the milieu. If they're playing a world without gunslingers where the GM hates and oppresses gnomes, no need to play a gnomish spellslinger right?

So now I've got my basic stats, race and class. How did this guy get so strong, or how did she get so smart? How did that influence their childhood and adolescence? I like super heroes a lot so often my characters are treated like Marvel Comics' mutants; they come into some measure of power and preternatural skill in their teens that sets them apart from society making them hated and feared by their peers.

Now sometimes the characters chafe against that treatment. They lash out, get rebellious and develop Traits like Reactionary or World Traveler because they are running from a lot of bullies. Other times I might have them trying to be heroes from an early age and changing the minds of their immediate community. At this point a special mentor might take them on and train them in some unique ability, the trainer understanding some greater truth of the character's potential. This is how I'd justify a wizard knowing Improved Unarmed Strike.

In the end there's nothing wrong with making the fluff conform to the mechanics. Heck, the original Conan movie had a barbarian with massive strength, but he could also read, write, and craft elaborate battle plans. He had a basic knowledge of religion too. The guy playing that character might have just decided at some point they want to go into a divine class and since there's gonna be undead in the game he wanted to be prepared. Thus he took a trait that gave his barbarian Knowledge: Religion as a class skill and fleshed it out in his backstory as being the son of a very wise barbarian chieftain who taught him all about the gods and the riddle of Steel.

Rather than be annoyed by the way others on these boards or in RL build their characters, try to accept that for those folks that's the fun of this game. You might be surprised just how in depth a mechanically optimized PC's backstory can get if you go numbers first in your build!

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Also I had an Aid Another on Diplomacy tonight. The PCs met a group of travelers (gypsies) in an inn and said travelers are between Indifferent to Unfriendly depending on who they're talking to in the party. The party wants to get the gypsies to smuggle said NPC into the city.

First the bard started in and said he'd open with music and stories. From there the paladin chimed in to expound on the greater good the travelers would serve. The Halfling druid related the NPC's struggle to his own oppressive experiences and the sorcerer helped explain the NPC's predicament and play on the emotions of the travelers. After all of that the bard actually made the ask.

Mechanically the bard rolled a couple Perform checks and a Diplomacy as well. Each of the other PCs rolled a Diplomacy for Aid Another and succeeded. Their total roll finished out to a 28 and I rounded it up to a 30 adding a +2 circumstance bonus for the bard's performances.

Fluff-wise it turned into a similar scene to the Podling scene from the Dark Crystal. The bard offering some music, then the travelers joined in, and the sorcerer added some special effects. The Halfling used some acrobatics against the travelers in a dance-off; the paladin, reserved and stodgy, played a great "straight man" against it all and got dragged onto the floor by a group of old Nonas.

In the end everyone had fun and the entire group of travelers were shifted to Helpful. The travelers consented to the favor but on the condition that the party continue to party with them when they meet next. The Silverhair Family will now become a recurring contact in the game world.

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By RAW you're touching AC 10. Since it has no Armor or Dex indicated there is nothing to subtract for Touch or Flat Footed AC, so it remains a 10 for those purposes. Therefore:

1. PCs enter the room; Perception (or Knowledge: Religion; I don't know how they act on the surprise round with haunts)
2. If the cleric has an action and act before Initiative 10, they attack an AC 10
3. If the Haunt acts first the effect happens and the party simply needs to deal with that.

Also to your second question once the Haunt's effect takes place the PCs are left to deal with the effect unless the thing is Persistent at which point you can neutralize them before their effect goes off next round.

That's the rules, now let's look at the fun.

Take a look at the example haunt, Bleeding Walls in your link. The trigger is a proximity; PCs must enter a space for the Haunt to go off. Also there is a DC 20 Perception check to act in the surprise round.

the PCs are in the bar one night and a crazed drunk is getting belligerent with the owner. The PCs overhear the old man screaming that his sister haunts his dreams, even though she died all those years ago. The noble that done her in never paid for his crimes. The creepy old house on the hill was the last place she ever was and at night the man can still hear his sister weeping.

In talking to the old man he reveals himself a Cyrus Burg, a troubled soul whose mind broke years ago from the weight of guilt and the poison of alcohol. He mutters, sees things that aren't there and on many occasions has tried to hurt himself and others. Despite his mania the party is able to ascertain that Burg's sister, Malia, was a maid for a noble. The cruel lord used and debauched her but Malia's wages were the only thing keeping the family going so Cyrus urged her to stay quiet. One day she decided she'd had enough and went to work one last time to confront the noble; she never returned home.

Now, decades later a new noble has taken possession of the house. He and his manservant entered three days ago; they haven't been seen since. The place has been abandoned and rumored to be haunted all this time. Now Cyrus believes its somehow connected to his sister.

Leaving the party at their table the man staggers out into the night. Seconds later the PCs hear a scream. Racing outside they see the new noble's manservant dropping Cyrus' limp form to the ground. Disturbingly the servant's eyes have been completely torn out leaving dead, bleeding sockets behind.

The party battles this horror and destroys it. During the fight the servant's voice is that of a woman's but disembodied. Once the battle is over Cyrus confirms with his dying breath (no amount of healing/restoration saves him) that what they just fought was somehow his sister, taking her revenge.

After busting into the house, dealing with some other hazards and undead the PCs begin to ascend to the second floor. As they do the floor gives way and the staircase collapses; a harrowing moment later the party is at the top of the steps staring down a 40' drop into the cellar far below. Thankfully avoiding this close call the party heads down the hall to the master bedroom.

The PCs can tell the room was once opulent and masculine, but now the furnishings are all covered with dusty sheets. The bed itself has thick drapery enclosing it; as the PCs look on a sudden breeze flutters it from the inside. One of the party members gives into the temptation and gets close to the bed. Flinging back the drapes nothing waits on the other side.

Then it begins.

All the PCs roll their Perception checks. The ranger and the cleric make theirs; the wizard and fighter do not. The ranger and the cleric hear a soft sobbing echoing all through the room; the sound is disembodied and unnatural making the hairs on the back of their neck stand on end. The cleric rolls her initiative, an 11, with the ranger having a 16. The ranger casts about for an enemy, something to attack but the danger seems all around him at once; this is no ghost or goblin, but the threat is no less real!

Holding his initiative the ranger waits, desperate for something to hit. Then to the cleric whose fingers tighten on the wand still in her hand from healing the wizard the round before. Despite years of training and months of adventures something about this moment makes the blood in her veins freeze. She hesitates and the ranger glares at her: "Do SOMETHING!" The sobbing begins to twist into a cruel laugh and out of the corner of her eye the cleric sees small rivulets of blood forming on the walls. The air is suddenly so cold the cleric can see her breath and there is a copper taste to it. Evil is coming.

Then from the bed another sudden breeze. No, not a breeze, a FACE starting to form from a rising mist. The walls are definitely starting to bleed. A sudden calm guides the cleric. Pharasma is the mistress of all things beyond; her wisdom and strength flows through me. The wand comes up. The face becomes clearer, that of a woman. The blood is streaming now. The celestial words to activate the wand begin to tumble from the cleric's steady lips. The weeping laughter rises to a fever pitch. All the party can see all of it now and a palpable dread begins to rise! "... NICTU" the cleric finishes and the moonstone with the black rose relief flares to life on the item's tip.

The cleric surges forward a few feet and thrusts the wand forward. "Back to the GRAVE with you woman! Pharasma waits for you!" The cleric's wand snakes out and the glowing stone makes contact at the last second with the maid's ghostly face. There is a shrill shriek of a woman's voice but not in triumph but in pain. A blinding flash goes off.

The cleric rolled a 10 on her attack roll and hit the Haunt with a wand of Cure Moderate Wounds. She inflicts 12 damage from positive energy. This is enough to inactivate it. The result is that the moment after the light fades the party looks around the room and finds everything the same as when they entered. No bleeding walls, no cold in the air and no disembodied voices or faces. The Haunt has been shut down for the moment.

The bigger problem now is figuring out how to reveal the Haunt's final resolution. Remember that even though the mechanics of the device are set the "flavor" of it all is up to you as the GM.

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Diagonal. Otherwise I run from behind a potted plant.

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Fresh off another thread that dipped into this topic I thought it was worth discussing. Aid Another is, at it's heart, a mechanic that encourages all the players to work together at a common goal. In my own home games I've houseruled that in some situations players don't even need to use the same skills.

I had a scenario once where the PCs came to a magical trap. There was a rogue in the party but I didn't want it to be just him making dice rolls so I asked the other players their skills.

One was a wizard and he'd noticed the magic of the trap with Detect Magic so I asked him to use Spellcraft to try and figure a way around it. Part of mechanism involved a relief of a face on a door; the mouth would open to unleash the effect so the fighter got to make a Strength check and finally the trap had been created by an adept so the cleric made a Knowledge: Religion check to analyze the faith that contributed to the device and any details that would yield.

In all every player at the table helped disable the trap. Yeah, that's not RAW and may have detracted from the rogue's unique ability to break magic traps but in the end everyone participated and had fun. Mechanically all that happened was the rogue got +6 on his own roll and since the DC was a 21 on the trap it ended up helping him.

Anyway, since then I've strongly encouraged my players to use Aid Another. Not just with different skills. Any untrained skill can be used. We've had a party face talk to an NPC and had a second player chime in; no skill in Diplomacy but a natural +2 from Cha so on an 8 or higher they're helping. I've also reminded players that Craft is an untrained skill. So one guy wants to make a bow? The other 3 PCs can help somehow and tack on +2s so long as they roll a total check of 10 or better.

In combat no one ever uses Aid Another and I get it; the action economy is bad and there's better things to do with your actions. Still against single opponents it might be handy or, say, if you've got an animal companion, familiar or other helper with no chance of hitting this might be a worthwhile standard action.

I had a level 2 wizard use her Enlarge Person on her owl familiar in one fight. Next fight was only a minute later so the familiar was still enlarged. It flew in and granted the oracle a +5 (had a trait from a feat that allowed it to give +2 on Aid Another) to attack from Aid Another and Flanking. That's no small bonus at level 2.

What have your experiences been with Aid Another in your games?

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One thing in this and other threads (paraphrasing): there's a better way to do that. Ending a fight via the Disarm, Steal, and Grapple maneuvers is feat intensive and not the most efficient I'll grant you. However if players build their characters that way and WANT to do that why NOT throw a few kobolds at them they can harass?

After years on these boards I've come to appreciate that there's more than one way to skin a cat, or a monster, or a PC concept. Most recently I was a player in a game where the party was missing a classic "thief" type; a skills monkey that could stealth, scout and disable devices.

I decided on a wizard.

The other players were upset. We already had a switch-hitter oracle and a sorcerer, so why another squishy spellcaster. But then I unveiled Argentica, the half-elf with high Dex, Int and Wis (we were able to roll stats and I rolled well). With her familiar at hand, in Dim Light conditions she started at level 1 with like a +11 on Perception, she got Stealth and Disable Device from traits and wasn't too bad at them. Plus with a flying familiar of Tiny size and the right spells the two of us could scout pretty well.

Sure, I could've gone rogue, then spell caster, and finally arcane trickster and been doing more damage or been a better "thief" type, but this fit better with what I wanted: a bookish female half-elf escaping a misspent youth.

My point is that I don't want my players thinking in terms of what Feat choices are going to "win" mechanically but rather what concept they want to achieve. I know there's nothing wrong with mechanics first/concept later, I just don't want it to be ALL mechanics y'know?

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If you wanted to go NPC... go kobold.

1. The CR of a kobold with NPC levels is Level - 3 instead of -2 so a kobold Adept 5 is a CR 2 encounter, not a CR 3

2. Small size (see below)

Give your kobold Adept 3/Warrior 2. This lets your kobold wear some armor, wield different weapons. Then give them the "swoop dinosaur" familiar. Not super-optimized for combat, but whatever; it flies. Finally, give the familiar the Mauler familiar archetype.

Now you have a kobold flying around on his "dragon" (Medium sized swooping dinosaur familiar) lobbing spells from overhead or attacking with a ranged weapon while his familiar charges and therefore gets reach with its bite attack. Give him the following feats:

Mounted Combat, Evolved Familiar: Improved Damage, Point Blank Shot

Your kobold could stand in for an Inquisitor or a Warpriest. He's flying around in decent armor, the familiar has leather barding without hindering it too much and he could even have a light shield. Suddenly this CR 2 encounter with the Heroic array for NPCs is dropping +9 or better crossbow attacks from range, then strafing the area with 3d4 Burning Hands spells while the familiar charges from Reach with a bite +7 (1d8 +1 plus Poison DC 11) attack.

Whoa. That'd be nice.

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CBDunkerson wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:
The idea that there is only one 'optimal' way to do things is too narrowly focused on combat...
Either that, or it recognizes that Pathfinder isn't nearly as supportive of building the type of character you described as the Star Wars game you were playing was.
There is absolutely no reason you couldn't play a similarly non-combat oriented character in Pathfinder. Every example I gave in that post has an analogous situation in Golarion (escape artist, safe cracking, navigation, sailing, et cetera). It really comes down to the kind of games you play. If the GM throws nothing but unavoidable combats at you then combat optimization is the way to go... though personally at that point I could get a similar experience from Xbox. If you're playing in a complex world where 'I kill it' is NOT the answer >50% of the time then diversity is good. Heck, even in kill fests... you want to be able to kill things in different ways or you'll be in trouble when the GM throws something at you which CAN'T be killed in the 'one true optimized way'.

I think this gets at the heart of what I was trying to explain to my player. Sure, if I'm running a "kill fest" then Weapon Focus/Specialization; Power Attack/Furious Focus and so on.

I frankly don't run like that. I homebrew or use published material that includes a mix of combat, non-combat, traps, puzzles and rarely just empty scenery in the encounters. I try to encourage my players not to just attack every monster and use the world as a giant loot pile.

That being said, if my players want that game and make 4 combat-optimized PCs then I'm not going to stop them and I'll even up the combat to match what they want to see.

But even then I have an expectation that I don't have 4 players solely focused on the same feats and general approach to every combat.

If I have 4 combat-centric players I would hope that I've got a couple focused on range and a couple on melee. Even in that, you could have a maneuvers guy, a ranged touch attack caster, a power attacker and a zen archer, all approaching combat from 4 very different angles.

In short: there's more than one way to "win" encounters.

One thing I tell new players all the time is that ESCAPING from a fight gives you experience. Sometimes resource management means knowing when to just drop a Smokestick, get out the door and beat feet to the main exit.

The other thing I'd mention in regards to the above quote is that just because you're mediocre at combat doesn't mean you're not useful in the game, at least not at my table. I have a player running a druid, currently at 3rd level who's really focused on Perception and Diplomacy. In danger zones he's a scout that keeps the PCs from running into trouble in the first place and thus contributes to combat by helping the party avoid needless ones. Outside normal adventure sites he's gathered tons of info, guided the PCs to key clues and used his charisma and skills to keep a bar fight from breaking out.

Yes, there's probably better builds for it. And also yes; if the party had been optimized for combat and just let the bar fight or kobold ambushes happen they more than likely would've whomped through to victory anyway. But then why don't I just run Descent from Fantasy Flight Games?

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At Artie Farty: yes, those game groups sounded like a myth to me too. I found one though, Wednesday nights here in MN in the USA. We only play 3 hours a session but the players are all willing to try anything. We've had some epic fights, a swinging vine charge, a seriously tactical crawl through a kobold enclave and lots of really fun moments.

These gamers are out there, but they're in short supply.

At everyone else: you're all correct, there's 2 games going on. The "build" game is fun for me, both as a player and a GM. I can build interesting characters or, in the case of one game, I made a real twist of an NPC that was completely in the rules but was not like any kobold they'd ever met before.

The GM fiat stuff is still annoying though. I agree; making up arbitrary numbers for DCs is sucky but at least with the multitudes of rules in PF that everyone laments I've got less moments when it really is arbitrary.

Take Knowledge checks in the PF system. In D&D 1e/2e I'd have tons of metagaming; people knowing that skeletons required bludgeoning damage or that demons had telepathy, etc. No matter how I punished the players they still used that info, even subconsciously.

In PF the players make a roll to justify such knowledge. Such a roll is clearly laid out in the rules. If I want to make it tougher that's built into the rules too.

And while I'm at it, everyone rants about the minutiae of "da rulz" being a downfall of new-school type games. There were TONS of rules for small stuff back in 1e; we just never used 'em! Yes, there's more rules now than in 1e, but we can just do the same thing and ignore 'em. You have to make a contract with the table is all. That's not really "new school" though but maybe that's one way to bridge the gap.

And finally: let's stop blaming video games or the "player entitlement" of younger generations. I've had players going all the way back to AD&D who whined about not getting cool stuff, getting their characters killed, and having the attention spans of gnats. It's not a generational thing; it's a people thing.

The EXPECTATION that by virtue of sitting at the table a player automatically gets stuff they want is as old as gaming. We might see an uptick of it from youngsters but it may only be because they don't have a lot of experience.

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So my gaming friends and I were chatting the other night about old school versus new school. It was the same old; we all ranted about kids these days... video games... get off my lawn, that kind of thing.

Somewhere in the middle of it all I went quiet. My one buddy mentioned that the GREAT thing about all these old school systems is that there were a LOT of rules, but not for players. The DM handled everything. Players just rolled some dice and got their little package of class stuff and went along with the plot.

Right there it hit me: I HATED that.

I don't want to get my old school card revoked but I gotta admit that there were tons of games of D&D when I was a kid where I tried different things to make MY fighter different from other ones. I'm not talking "this one carries axes" different but like asking the DM if I could have a mutant power, or a combat tail, or be super-acrobatic or something.

The other thing I always hated about back in the day was that EVERYTHING was on me when DMing. If a player wanted his character to throw a grappling hook and swing out dramatically, there weren't a lot of rules for it and no skills. So... I'd just make up an arbitrary number. It was a ton of "mother may I" situations and I ended up being the biggest "mother" of them all if you catch my drift.

So I have to admit that I LOVE Pathfinder. I loved Marvel Super Heroes back in the day for the same reason: player agency. Sure the villains are left up to the GM but the rules and customizing the PC is ALL you!

Please tell me that there's a way for me to be a little old school, a little new at the same time. Do any of you guys play the same way? Help me out here.

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Yeah, Ollie's crawling slowly toward the character he is in the comics. Very slowly. Like glacially. A sloth in slow motion could've hit that mark by now.

Did I mention its a slow progression?

Still it is nice to see him getting there. I just hope there isn't some brutal consequence that comes along and reminds him what happens when he cares about other people and turns him dark again.

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I'd also add: play to the players' strengths, not the characters. I mean, consider what the characters are capable of when you're creating encounters but like, if you've got a friend that's really jonesing to mix sci-fi and fantasy maybe throw in a bunch of homunculi that are like little server droids.

When the players are engaged they do a lot of the work for you. For example say you randomly add a detail to a cave they notice: there's blood on the entrance. If one player suddenly remembers a cult attack that left a similar scene and guesses that the cult is back but you hadn't planned anything like this, maybe just run with it. Suddenly the player thinks they've discovered something and feels cool while you have a new direction to take a random scene in.

Finally if you're really shy and introverted, just play the way one of the inventors of D&D did it. Gary Gygax supposedly used to sit away from his players, behind a screen so when he DM'd all his players heard was a voice.

As far as endings, take the advice of the character Chuck Shurley from the show Supernatural. "Endings are hard... there's always gonna be holes, the fans are always gonna bi&#h... no doubt: endings are hard. But then... does anything really end?"

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I don't buy the whole overconfidence thing. Maybe if it's like, a Wyrmling sure but if it's lived a few years you gotta figure it knows EXACTLY how fragile it is. Consider:

A wyrmling black dragon is born into a swamp. Said environment is filled with MANY creatures around a CR 1/3 - 1. Unless these creatures line up in a straight line then that CR 3 monster has PLENTY of threats to it. Yes, the dragon is a bada$$ but after a few scrapes with 2 or 3 bullywugs suddenly it begins to get it - there's some strategy to fighting.

Now if the dragon is even one age category older, a Very Young, it's survived at LEAST 6 years. The word to remember is "survived." Sure, if a dragon was born at Adult level power then it would be an overconfident oaf. If it's fought and clawed and breath weaponed their way to Juvenile it's not going to be like "ok, NOW I can just sit back on my laurels and phone it in!"

No, IMO dragons are smart, cunning and have survived threats for ages. For years they've grown into their power and battled along the way. Add this together and dragons should not just be sitting around yawning as the party approaches.

Lastly, most dragons get the chance to communicate with or dominate certain creatures. Its programmed into their DNA to control other monsters. If a dragon can get some kobolds to defend them suddenly they've got a poky meat-shield that buys them a round to get in the air or whatever.

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The standard kobold in the Beastiary is a warrior 1 which is a CR 1/4 threat. They also automatically get Craft: Traps as a skill as well as Stealth. They get a +2 Perception for their Racial bonus, a +4 Stealth from their size and generally travel in packs. Light Sensitivity as a weakness as well as Darkvision suggests that kobolds generally don't walk about in broad daylight. Couple that with high Stealth and a low tolerance for damage (standard Kobold in the book has 5 HP) and you gotta figure these things generally keep to environments it's easy to hide in.

So if you surprise some kobolds I could see it being a CR 1/2 or even a CR 1/4 fight but if not then:

1. why would they NOT be using their environment to their advantage (Cover, Higher Ground, Difficult Terrain, etc.)
2. why would they not be in close proximity to their traps?
3. why would they fight ANYONE in the open?

I'm talking Tucker's Kobolds here; in their lair all the above makes sense. But like, I was writing a homebrew encounter involving some kobolds trying to steal a mundane book from a mundane library. Why would said kobolds in the library not be moving with extreme stealth, tossing smokesticks, attacking from the tops of the stacks and using ranged attacks to keep foes at bay?

All of the above, using their environment and decent equipment and superior tactics adds to the CR of the fight. So there's my question: why would kobolds EVER be a low-CR encounter?

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Aranna wrote:

The problem with comic book physics is that it depends on plot NOT on actual physics.

A super might struggle to lift a mountain one time then toss a planet with ease next time. It must truly aggravate the type of nerd who loves world building and knowing everything about the DCU or Marvel Universe.

Heh... yeah A-bomb, good thing we're not like THAT right? *grabs security blanket and begins rocking in the fetal position*

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