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Leonard Kriegler

Mark Hoover's page

4,529 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picking up a hammer

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So... you're saying rogues are kind of bad?

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Torchlyte wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:
Lots of good stuff
Room 4 is gonna be pretty tough at level 1.

I feel kind of guilty about this, but I kind of want to force my players to run through that dungeon or something like it as a start to a campaign. My hack-n-slash players would kill me.

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Adventurers aren't the only ones who earn or have "experience". It is knowledge gained from surviving challenging conflict. So a level 1 commoner (a common laborer in the town) might have the following "5 room dungeon":

Room 1: Welcome to the market/CR 1/3
You've pulled up your cart to the corner where several adventurers have tethered their horses. There is a fresh pile for you to clean
1. Monsters: x3 street urchins (N male human commoner 1 [young boys])
2. Tactics: the boys are going to try to scoop up a bit of dung with a bucket while you're not looking and then throw it on you, ruining your day. They begin the combat hidden behind the cart (Perception DC 10).

Room 2: Rats!/CR 1/3
The crowd is far too thick to haul across the market; you'll have to take an alleyway around. As you trudge through the narrows you spy beady red eyes glaring at you with hunger
1. Monsters: x2 normal rats
2. Treasure: the rats left behind a dog carcass in the shadows (DC 10 Perception) around the neck of which was a leather strap with a small crystal (10 GP)

Room 3: Beligerent drunk/CR 1/3
You're getting close to the dump, so your day is nearly done. Unfortunately Mirt the Drunk blocks your path and slobbers his rant at you: it's the end of the world; the dragon is coming back; HE used to be the only one who could stop it... you're going to have to deal with Mirt somehow.
1. Monsters: Mirt the Drunk (N male human commoner 1)
2. Special: if you defeat Mirt without giving him yet another beating, receive the equivalent of a CR 1/2 Exp award

Room 4: Boss Havlek/CR 1/2
The heat of the afternoon sun beats down on you and your cart. Approaching the dump however you spy Boss Havlek, the man who controls the pit. He's flanked by one of his strong-armed nephews and he does not look pleased.
1. Monsters: Boss Havlek (NE male human expert 1); Havlek's nephew (NE male human warrior 1)
2. Tactics: Havlek thinks you're late and wants to short change you for your load for making him wait. If you want to get paid properly for all your hard work you'll either have to fight his nephew or outnegotiate the man.

Room 5: Heading home
Well the day is finally done and your empty cart rattles over the cobblestones behind you. A young woman, a local oracle of Saranrae meets your gaze and smiles at you.
1. Monsters: Mila Elderflame (NG female half-elf Adept (Saranrae) 1)
2. Special: if you take a chance and succeed in impressing Mila, she takes pity on you and uses a couple cantrips on you and your cart, cleaning them and saving you hours more work. Going forward you may count on Mila having a Helpful attitude toward you.

So surviving this one day alive and with a positive outcome from all 5 encounters would net you 605 Experience, potentially an extra 10 GP, and maybe even a girlfriend. As time goes on I can see many challenging days like this ahead.

Could this guy get past, say, level 5 like this? Probably not. But then, maybe he and Mila get married, move to a capitol city, and he takes over a group of dungsweepers. He begins having to fight off idiot adventurers, otyughs, and dire rat swarms. An outbreak of undeath comes; a flood; guild wars. It would be hard, but not unthinkable that he remains a commoner for 20 levels over, say, 20 years.

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Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:

Imagine someone in the real world who has had an entry level working-class job for a long long time. The waitress that's been working at the diner for 40 years. The Mailman who has had the same route for 20 years. The person who has been working on the floor at Sears for 35 years.

You get the gist. Any job you could get without a high school education plus a couple decades of experience.

Shop smart; shop S Mart. Ma'am, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave. (Deadite) And who the H*** are YOU? I'm Ash; hardwares!

Yeah, he could'a been king...

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I wonder why everyone goes "farmer" when they think of a 2oth level commoner. I think any NPC that has been good at one, simple, relatively unskilled job for decades might fit this bill. Farmer, laborer, fisherman, porter, or many other "menial" jobs.

Experience comes from combat, to be certain. In many of the APs and modules there are special awards for roleplaying, accomplishing important goals and other non-combat sources. Why is it hard then to think of a guy getting high level as a commoner?

Yes, getting married (if it was a challenge) can certainly be an experience-giving event. Winning terse negotiations with a neighbor; bar brawls; surviving a hurricane. All of these might grant experience.

20th level, obviously, would take a really long time but I don't think its so inconceivable. As to what this NPC would be; they'd be the BEST at what they do. Not the coolest, most optimized or the deadliest, but simply the best in their profession.

A 20th level shepherd for example might have incredible Perception, feats around mobility in the hills, carries a magic sling and doesn't even feel the weather anymore. He knows the herd well enough to even merit Perception checks if they're impersonated by sailors.

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I asked about something similar in an old thread, though it focused more on the design of churches in Golarion. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that a lot of towns in the setting had a single church, to a single deity, but then Polytheism was the thing.

I'm reminded though that most of the deities, in their write-ups, don't actually have big churches.

Cayden is worshipped in bars; Abadar in guildhouses; Erastil is praised in hunting lodges. It got me to thinking: why would there even be churches at all in Golarion?

But coming back to your central point I think the church thing ties in. If you don't need some central, sanctified place to worship your deities then that worship becomes at once more personal and more subdued. Imagine the life of Zeb the Younger (NG male human expert [woodsman] 1).


Zeb wakes in his little cottage and rain is threatening. He needs to go check his traps so he offers a quick prayer to Gozreh for better weather. Then he checks his gear and does a practiced routine of morning devotionals to Erastil (a lawful god). Then he's out into the woods checking his traps, but not before locking his door behind him, absently muttering some praise to Abadar for watching over his house while he's out.

So Zeb heads out into the woods, finds some rabbits and thanks Erastil for this bounty. But then on his last trap he finds the bounty mangled, the snare shredded. Tracks in the area are that of a fox but they're confused, like the animal was acting crazy. Zeb asks Desna for a safe, swift trip back to his door and tosses a bit of salt over his shoulder to ward off the evil he suspects infected the fox (perhaps put there by the Rough Beast).

A sudden sound. Movement on a side trail. Zeb draws his shortbow, knocks an arrow and begins whispering "Deadeye, make my shots true, Deadeye, make my shots true" over and over. The crazed fox, it's mouth slavering with foam, darts out of the undergrowth. It tears at Zeb's leg, its madness evident in the savage attack. Blood is drawn. The woodsman shakes free of it's bite and staggers back, fear dispelling the pain. With practiced skill he draws, aims and fires; the fox is pierced through the throat and falls.

Erastil is praised, but Zeb knows he's not safe yet. He stumbles home as fast as he can. If he doesn't get the wound clean and closed fast the Frothing Sickness will kill him in days. Back in his cabin the woodsman pours some weak beer in the wound and winces, then repeats pleas for health to Saranrae as he binds a poultice to the bite. He then goes outside and builds a fire, offering up one of the rabbits in the blaze, hoping the food and the heat will entice the sun goddess to send down her smile on his wound.

I guess that's what I figured life is like in Golarion. That being said, it's really hard to GM something like that. Every once in a while I'll make a point to mention how there's a special mug nailed over the bar or perhaps repeat a ritualized Abadaran greeting from the NPC as the characters enter a shop.

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Mechanics aside, if you get drunk and don't remember how you passed some tests, you're a god. Not a demigod, quasi-deity or a level 20/10 MT hero, but a true god.

So that's all you have to do, at least in Golarion:

1. Go to Absalom
2. Get hammered
3. Take the tests
4. Black out

If you survive; god. If you don't, roll up a new character and go again.

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I don't always play PFS, but when I do, I play epic level. Stay epic, my friends.

Seriously I don't think there's any specific rules that would disallow fluff for fluff's sake but I think (as people have mentioned) if the PCs want a mechanical benefit (such as a bonus to attack from being on the shoulder = higher ground or some such) then there'd have to be rolls made and you'd have to drill down into things like AoO's for occupying the same space as your enemy, etc.

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Blaaarg wrote:
Really I just wanted a lot of homebrewed ritual prayer ideas. I understand that "Inner Sea Gods" exists, but I don't always play in Golarion, and this is a homebrew board.

I don't always play in Golarion, but when I do, it's always Epic level.

Sorry; couldn't resist :)

Anyway, each of the gods would have different rites based on their portfolio as well as domains, culture of the clergy, etc. If you're looking for a defined list - Inner Sea Gods. If you're looking for non-core gods, core gods in a non-core setting or something else entirely you could easilly invent your own.

Start first with: what do you imagine a traveling cleric of god X needing with them to pray? Is it just the deity's holy symbol? A preferred weapon? An additional mundane item like a bowl, rug or tome?

Next, consider the deity's portfolio: law vs chaos, good vs evil, portfolio concerns such as farmers or undeath, and finally their standard domains. Each of these would influence HOW the PC might pray. Lawful gods would have some rote chant while chaotic might have more like a suggested state of mind.

Finally consider the culture of the clergy. This will influence the process as well. Consider 2 clerics of Pharasma; one from a primitive barbarian tribe in the hills with another from the heart of Absalom. While the civilized priest might spin a prayer disk on a portable altar while humming a litany of funerary rites, the more barbaric priest might simply recite the same litany over the skulls of his tribal enemies.

What's your homebrew like?

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I guess I just sort of figured Aroden didn't die. Aroden...Aaron... Elvis Aaron Presley... it makes sense. I picture Aroden, out there somewhere with a sequin jumpsuit, sideburns and a bucket of fried chicken singing Blue Suede Shoes to another plane of existence.

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Jewelry is always a good wedding gift. Look first to the PCs and find something they share in common. Paladin of Iomedae and Bard of Shelyn; both I'm guessing have decent if not epic charismas? Perhaps jewelry that accentuates that beauty.

It doesn't have to be magic. Masterworks encrusted with gems or if they're a simpler couple perhaps elaborate belts. If you do want to go magical consider simpler effects for flavor:

- prestidigitations to keep them both ever-clean, groomed, and wafted by subtle breezes (like super models).

- a combination of dancing lights and ghost sound to capture and replay their wedding song forever, at will

- a combination of locate object and deathwatch so they always know where the other one is and how they're doing

- whispering wind, so they can always talk to one another

Another thought would be to consider their chosen vocations and have items crafted specifically for them, but somehow thematically tied together. For her, a unique sheath that keeps her sword ever sharp, clean and mended; for him a case for his instrument that does the same. Again, masterworks would work just as well.

Finally, think of real life. Modern couples create a theme for their wedding and some register for gifts at local boutiques. Look to these sources for inspiration. Their 2 faiths share no symbols in common, but perhaps a masterwork tapestry depicting a glaive and a longsword crossed over a silver field bordered by starbursts and rainbow-tailed birds. For an added effect perhaps have the device iluminate softly in their presence and again play their wedding song.

Whatever you give them should be tasteful, thoughtful, and encompass both their personalities. Hopefully these suggestions start to guide you in the right direction.

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DM Pendin Fust wrote:

The next very important question:

When do we cast time stop?

No, not time stop. You'll want slow for this.

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@ Dreaming: I agree. Not every Lamashtan plot has to be twisted and gory birth-horror. Lamashtan "mothers" might be interested in:

Sports teams for kids
Alchemists with mutagens

Seriously look at her domains: Chaos, Evil, Madness, Strength, Trickery. Add those words to the ones in her portfolio: Madness, Monsters, Nightmares. While childbirth is a major portion of her worship in the fluff of her write up, combining her domains and portfolio suggest even more villainous pursuits.

- Mother Mayhem, the Nightmare Vendor: she peddles treats for the kiddies and drives them mad with night terrors. The treats are laced with dream spider venom and once affected the children become slavering addicts. When she knows she's got a new kid on the hook she uses magic to visit them in hiding and promises to make the nightmares stop. All they need to do is... and you can add whatever level-appropriate details you want.

- Dr Albian Scornrend: the good doctor is the chief healer at a sanitarium where, predictably, he's experimenting on the patients. He's also an alienist wizard or summoner. Dr Scornrend is seeking to combine aberrant DNA with that of mortalkind to create a superhuman hybrid capable of adapting to any environment. The kicker is he's CONVINCED he's doing good work. Of course he's being pushed along this path by Lamashtu through a variety of sources - a nurse or orderly who is an oracle; voices from the beyond; some sort of Lamashtan artifact in the building or perhaps the sanitarium was once a worship site itself.

- The Pretty Haters Club: a group of young adults disaffected and cast off from the city, these knife-wielding brutes terrorize the populace. They are all horribly disfigured; club feet, cleft pallets, warts and skin growths. They have become a "tribe" of urban barbarians and rangers with a habit for mutilating their victims, some of whom they leave alive. In particular they attack the "beautiful people". Of course, with the upcoming beauty pageant there might finally be a way to draw them into the open...

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I don't know - maybe I'm getting older. When I read the title I thought I should share terrible things I'VE done as a GM.

Sure, I've had bad GMs. I had a guy who buried my PC alive since I couldn't make a session; the same character was supposed to have unique and flavorful homebrewed spells based on barriers and getting through them. Said spells never worked or enemies constantly knew how to avoid them/beat the saves. Finally I threw in the towel and quit. My PC became the BBEG's vampire henchman and suddenly BAM! All my spells worked.

I've also had GMs who

- committed an apocalypse because in the final fight I missed a 50/50 saving throw

- blatantly kept adding ever-increasingly stronger Draconians to a scene I wasn't supposed to "win"

- Made a single minotaur nearly unkillable by ruling in the old editions that "4d8 +12" HD meant roll 4d8, then roll an additional 12 for HP

But I've been a terrible GM too. I've connived, cheated and swindled my players and their PCs. Just recently I dropped a young wyvern on the PCs at level 2. It caused one PC death and one of the players thoght it was fun but one guy was completely cheesed off. They just beat a bunch of goblins, the wyvern heard the sounds of battle and it COULD'VE just gone after the weak goblin but instead I had it attack the party. Why? Ego.

That's right, I said it. Earlier in the session I had intended the guys to do a little research about where they were going. I actually asked them "are you sure you don't want to roll a Gather Info roll or anything?" I was incredulous when they just shrugged and kept going. They were supposed to find out about the wyvern and be warned; they were supposed to know how dangerous it was.

But when they didn't do it I have to admit I was hurt. Petty little man that I am I was vexed they didn't care enough about my awesome NPC scene I'd contrived to go along with their Gather Info roll that I sulked. Later when I rolled random encounters and GOT the wyvern I thought "this'll teach THEM!"

Like I said: ego. Pride. Pettiness.

No GM is immune. I've been doing this now for 30+ years and I STILL take some of it personally once in a while. As a GM you get so wrapped up in all that YOU know and see in the adventure you sometimes forget the players don't know hardly any of it, nor will they unless you tell them. You also have to reconcile with the fact that your players are simply NOT as interested in or committed to the game you've created. They're close if you're a good GM, but they can't like it like you do; you're the creator.

GM's are people. People are flawed and have emotional outbursts. Sometimes they're mad that you skipped something or don't care enough about the game as they want you to. Other times they're dealing with work stress, or finals, or family/neighbors who want them to stop these silly game nights.

Sometimes GMs are ruled by these emotions. The better ones can keep it in check most of the time. The greatest GMs actually use the game like a coping mechanism and turn their own negatives into their players' positives. That's what I'm shooting for. I don't know if I'll make it but if I figure out how I'll post a new thread!

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Lincoln Hills wrote:
The next sleazy dive I put in my campaigns is going to be named "The Murder Hole." It's so evocative!

I prefer the Garderobe (sp) which was the old word for the lavatory in a castle.

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Connor seems to have a military background due to his traits; start there. He might not remember his life or training, but certain things are ingrained. Say things like "squared away," "Sound off" or "What is your MAJOR MALFUNCTION?" when speaking to folks. Call new party members recruits and refer to your party as your squad or unit.

From there you can develop little eccentricities too. Make a point to mention how neat and dry he keeps his boots since a soldier spends most his time on his feet. Obsess about his armor; not in a disruptive way but just consider it consciously from time to time. Ask the GM if you can use Profession: Soldier to size up sentient, organized foes based on how they carry themselves, wear their armor and keep precision to see if you can guess subtle things like if their alignment includes law or chaos, or if they are better, worse or on par with your own skill level.

As for your goddess, it seems odd that you receive spells from her but can't remember her name. Perhaps though work that into your conversation. Refer to her simply as "high commander" or "Sir" (even though Iomedae is a goddess).

Finally your chosen profession: inquisitor. You aren't a grunt anymore so you move with a purpose. You have endurance and toughness, plus the power of stern gaze and a higher intimidate than stealth. I'm guessing he's not really the "hide in the shadows" type you describe. Play that up too. Get to know the Rock's "People's Eybrow" look and perfect it for your roleplaying. Learn how to keep a straight face like Judge Dredd and use it when dealing with NPCs. Sneer - not out of disgust but rather out of habit.

Just a few, subtle traits can go a long way to informing your play. Happy gaming!

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I see your points Diego. Still, out of combat this might be pretty handy. Even at first level you can:

1. tie a rope to the end of a spike
2. locate a cleft in a wall above you, up to 30'
3. lodge spike loosely in cleft with Mage Hand
4. drive spike firmly into place by propelling Mage Hand controlled club into spike

Not a bad use of a cantrip. I suppose it'd take a forgiving GM though. 5 lbs though is nothing to sneeze at. You could carry 5 lb bags of rocks and hang them over doors; you could toss 5 lb sacks of chalk dust 15' to test if there's something in a square; you could hold a 4 lb pot of scalding water (1 lb of liquid) and pour it on someone/thing. Perhaps not in combat, but in a surprise round.

Oh, and one other thing: a quarterstaff is 5 lbs. You could have it tapping around, checking for traps a la a 10' pole all through a dungeon.

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Skeeter Green wrote:

Oh, and RA: Expansions is off ot the printer, so there's even more badness coming out.


OMG are you telling me this horror is GROWING? I better stop wasting time and get some victims... I mean heroes in there fast. Has anyone seen my Medium sized Sham-Wow of PC Mess Cleaning?

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You're right that certain powers would be very ineffectual in a long term game but I can see that 4 shlub characters, in the right classes, could be a lot of fun long term.

It might be a fun experiment. Instead of rolling up a character, just roll 1d6 +1; this is the amount of your point buy. Make your character, pick race and class along the way, and you're off to the races. Dump statting would be allowed.

I could see your party ending up as:

A dwarf cleric
A human fighter or barbarian
A Halfling rogue
A half-elf wizard

Between you, with clever use of traits and skill points you might have all the monster knowledges covered, a little bit of survival, a "party face" for gathering info and some utility skills. You'd also have a well rounded combat unit with a gentle smattering of ranged, ranged touch and melee attacks enough to survive roughly 3-5 combats a day at first level.

As the game went on your GM would have to accommodate your lower stats but this could be accomplished by adding in consumable stat-boosters in treasure hordes, keeping monsters' tactics less than optimal and what not. Sure, you'd run from some fights but that's even true in some jacked up parties too.

If your GM had that kind of game in mind, these characters would do fine. If however you favored more unique PC builds or the GM was running a particularly lethal AP or homebrew, this would become a slog really fast. Could it be fun though? Maybe.

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@ my silver fox: that sux man, really. It doesn't seem to be an epidemic though, at least in this thread. Still, that doesn't help you make rent. I hope the payment can get reversed on your card.

@ Mel Gibson: I don't often buy 3pp stuff and I think I've mentioned I haven't gotten a megadungeon in years. When I skim to the end of a product and at the end of the last fight it suggests

to paraphrase RA:
your players survived? You did it wrong.

then I just feel like I have to mention my reaction. You guys are all just having a snicker 'cause you've had this product for years. I only just learned about Necromancer Games, FGG, Rappan Athuk and the other excellent products from this group within the last 10 months.

I'm starting to realize how sheltered my gaming life has been. I attended a single con this year; I hadn't been to one in nearly 2 decades previously. I have read exactly ONE book on the general subject of our hobby since I did a report on it in High School. I'm a 40-year-old first time freelancer despite submitting all through high school and college.

Needless to say I'm just starting to re-discover gaming in general and RPGs through Pathfinder. So now to be coming out of that shell only to discover "The Dungeon of Graves" and Lost City of Barakus as my first non-Paizo adventures? It's like the 90's never ended.

I'm going to go home, grow a mullet, rip off the sleeves on my favorite flannel, listen to some Iron Maiden and drink a Bud. Then I'm going to dive deeper into reading through this monster and try to get my mind around starting this project. After that, I'm going to have to figure a way to avoid the lynch mob that will inevitably form in my basement.

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44. It was an AMBUSH! (actually one unemployed cabbie w/a handlaser)

45. Negative; I am a meat popsicle

46. Corbin Dallas (really a lackey of the Zorg corporation with a forged multipass)

47. It's my WIFE (actually a genetically altered supreme being outside a door where the NPC can't see her)

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An hour ago I got home

45 minutes ago I redeemed my RA code for the PDF

43 minutes ago I settled in with a beer to skim 3b

Right now my beer is barely touched and my jaw is nearly on the floor

That. Is. RiDONCulous!

Don't go down the well. Don't even look at the well. Don't even say the word "well" in any context. That is one of the most cruel and inhumane dungeon levels ever conceived since a pissed off Gary Gygax said "If I've gotta hear ONE more con-goer brag about how awesome their character is!" and penned an oft-lamented tomb raid.

3b even has a send-up to demiliches!

I am impressed, humbled, and generally unnerved by the joint PDFs of Barakus and now Rappan Athuk. I cannot wait to unleash them... I mean, present them for my players. I'll just start another recruitment thread now though as I don't suppose this group will stick around too long after what I'm going to put their guys through.

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19. These aren't the droids you're looking for

20. You want to go home and re think your life choices

21. I've got a permit for that

22. I said the words. Basically...

23. I've GOT the money

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Level 1 adventure, game session 1 of a new game. I was not playing a sorcerer but rather a gestalt NG male halfling ranger 1/cavalier 1. I astound my GM with the following:

GM (as drill sergant giving us first assignment): so that's where you'll be headed. Any questions?

Me: Yeah. What normally lives around there, in the caves and such? *to the GM OOC* I'm going to make a knowledge: local to see if I know what monsters to prep for. Also since there's no directive to leave immediately I'll take a couple hours and ask around with the sergant, other recruits, folks in town etc. using Diplomacy to gather info on the area. Finally I'll use profession: trapper, knowledge: geography and consult the Erastilin temple as a worshipper and see if they have Knowledge: Nature or Religion on the area, see if there's any common animals, hazards, undead, etc. to watch out for.

Now, the above is a corner case and I know that some spells are always iffy for the casters to choose, but I feel like good prep can really help inform those choices a lot better than the boards telling me "Color Spray = Winning!"

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A cleric, fighter, rogue and wizard. Everyone takes different starting languages, save common. You cover the 6 monster knowledges (Arcana, Dungeoneering, Local, Nature, Planes, Religion). One guy adds some Cha based skills as the party face, another guy is your skillz monkey with traps and magic devices, a third knows spellcraft and finally the last one has survival skills. You all take something in perception if you can.

- the wizard takes a familiar: this gives utility, extra eyes for perception and a backup scout

- the cleric and wizard take a variety of spells: utilities, buffs, debuffs and battlefield controls

- the fighter and rogue invest in alchemy: they are the backup battlefield controls with smokesticks, oil, alchemist fire, etc. Also invest in simple fixes: marbles, flour, chalk.

- the wizard doesn't get rid of Scribe Scroll: work with GM to take pre-made scrolls as part of your starting gear and buy 100 GP (8 scrolls) to start. As you go on in the game until wands are an easy buy keep investing in cheap, 1-shot spells. Collaborate with the cleric for him to cast HIS spells into your scrolls.

Finally, optimize these characters. Congrats, you now have a great group of PCs. Not perfect - there is no such thing as a perfect party. But this simple, basic combo of boring core PCs gives you a little of everything you might possibly need to "win" this module. Pick the right 4 races (I favor 2 humans, a dwarf and an elf) and you've even got all the senses you need.

Sure, my solution isn't as sexy as say a band of tiefling barbarians, a half-elf summoner/alchemists or assimar warpriests, but it gets the job done. 65% of the time, all the time.

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Start the campaign the way my brother did 3 times: "You wake up..."

One time we woke up in the hold of a ship, another time in prison. The best though was the time we woke up in a brothel. All the ladies were gone except the madam who revealed herself as an evil druid, and now we were all diseased. It was gross, but still one of the more memorable.

Anyway listen to other posters. Some players can't abide this kind of start. They might build druids with specific animal companions that just wouldn't work on a ship. Others take a lot of social skills intending to start a business in town during downtime.

Have the conversation, learn what your players want, then give it to them.

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Pupsocket wrote:
TimD wrote:

Lots of good advise up-thread.

My contribution is mostly non-combat oriented and aimed at making sure that higher level of play feels more high level:

Don’t forget your PCs’ roots.

While little Magdelaina, Chicken Farmer Rufus’ youngest daughter may have gone on to become the deadly Indigo Whisperer, don’t let the beginning of her story fall by the wayside.
There are a variety of ways you can remind characters of their roots & histories to compare and contrast where their character started and where they have ended up. Here are a few of my favorites:
Former childhood heroes asking for advice / aid....

These are all very good. Unfortunately, they are also very hard to pull of well.

Not that hard.


A way to intro my 10th level PC to a game of RotRL already in progress he had my guy come to town as it was under attack by a nascent dragon. Now my guy has a background that still haunts him 10 years later, when his first crush Saraphina saw him give into his anger and nearly kill a man who threatened her honor. "You're a MONSTER Gregor!" she screamed.

Anyway Gregor comes in, turns into a Huge sized 4 armed gargoyle and buffs up, dueling in the air with the dragon. The thing dies and plummets toward the center of town where a little girl is trapped. If Gregor doesn't do something fast. His familiar hits him with a Bull's Strength while he cast's Ant Haul on the enlarged Faerie Dragon and together they JUST BARELY manage to pull it out of a nose dive and save the little girl. He then lands and tosses aside the rubble, whisking the girl to safety and a cleric.

Later on Sheriff Hemlock comes with some men and the other PCs to find me at the tavern. My PC has a habit of being kicked out of places for his magic and temper, so as soon as he sees the authorities he begins gathering his gear. Hemlock says "there's someone we wanted you to meet." In comes the little girl who bounds up and throws a big hug around Gregor. "Thanks Mister! My leg feels all better now! I can even do this!" and she spins around. "When I grow up, I wanna be like you and fly and beat up stinky dragons! Raarr!" and with that she dashes off to her grateful parents.

"Tell Gregor," I say in character in a thick Russian accent, "tell Gregor the girl's name?" Without missing a beat my GM says as Hemlock "Her name? Oh, Saraphina. She's been asking to meet you all afternoon. You're her HERO Gregor!"

I haven't gotten the chance to run a LOT of high level stuff, but after a certain level you just need to make sure that the PCs are active participants in MUCH larger scales. Their foes threaten whole realms or worlds; their heroic action can save or doom entire towns; people look up to them.

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Make a perfect female specimen to represent the 5th element. She escapes; only by finding her can the other four genies be free. She is a terrific warrior but naïve, innocent. This innocence must be preserved at all costs.

The PCs are drawn to a number of different locales representing the 4 elements

1. water: a cryo chamber where the female is regenerated

2. earth: a pyramid in the desert

3. air: a vertical chase through thick, flying traffic

4. fire: a shootout with lasers and explosions

It all culminates in a riddle: Rain falls, Wind burns... Make sure that the 5th element is mortally wounded at the end; also ensure that one of the PCs has a crush on her but won't tell her.

Bonus points for the following phrases:

- Negative; I am a MEAT POPSICLE

- Multipass

- Big Bada Boom

- Green or Super Green

- Smoke You!


- Floston Paradise

- It was an AMBUSH (usable only when a superior force is beaten by a smaller one)

- I am the supreme being... 5th element... you; no trouble. I PROTECT you.

Also bonus points for including the following character names

- Leeloo
- Korben Dallas
- Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg
- Father Vito Cornelius
- Ruby Rhod
- Diva Plavalaguna

Finally fight scenes should be carefully choreographed to classical music and everyone except for the main characters should look like a super model.

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I'm not an IPA guy much but I had a Brew Free or Die IPA in a can over the weekend - that was pretty tasty.

And speaking of beer in supermarkets it never ceases to amaze me. Here in MN the entire state is dry on Sundays and only supermarkets are allowed to do liquor sales on Sunday. Even this is highly contested. Yet this is the same state where if I say the word "Vikings" out loud I'll have an instant mob. How can a state have such rabid football superfans and also hate selling beer on a Sunday?

Oh and I'll look for Laughing Lab this week.

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
All I ask is that, please, pleeeeaaaase, find someone who actually knows / comprehends the rules this time.

Stay classy!

And it's exactly posts like yours that make me think YOU are one of the people who is a problem on these boards. Not only do you insult staff members, you don't even realize that you are doing it, and when called out on it, you use your ignorance to justify it.

Act like a damn human being. And learn about what you're talking about before spouting off opinions about it.

Why are mommy and daddy fighting? Is it my fault?

Seriously though, this post caught me. I've been negative on these boards every once in a while. I've apologized for it afterwards. Sure, I try to justify my rudeness but in the end I say "I'm sorry; sometimes I'm a jerk face."

It's SO freaking easy to forget that Sean K Reynolds isn't just a bunch of letters and a 2 dimensional bottle. The man is a living person sitting in an office working really hard. He and this design team are people trying their damndest to make and improve upon a game we all enjoy.

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: Thanks. Thank you SKR and all the good folks at Paizo. Your customer service is excellent and your product is very user friendly compared to some iterations of this game.

Are there hiccups or the occasional rulings I disagree with? Heck yeah (Halfling slingstaff, I'm looking in your direction) but at the end of the day you're all people who aren't just constructs of my mind.

To that point in case I miss them here's a happy birthday/happy holidays/congratulations and general atta boy for the staff at Paizo for past and future events.

Seriously, let's all be aware that we're all human beings. It used to peeve me off when someone would call the customer service line and demand to speak with my manager or "someone else with half a brain" when I couldn't guarantee their shipment at 5pm central time to a rural hospital in New Mexico. Then I came to realize: they're under a lot of pressure and they're venting. And I don't know that person's life story. What if, on top of this work issue their marriage is breaking up, or their dog has cancer or their dad just told them they were adopted.

Sometimes we fall down. Sometimes we make bad choices. Sometimes we hurt others. The best thing to do is apologize and try not to do it again. Work hard, be nice.

Anyway thanks again SKR. I'll try not to make you uncork that freaking potion bottle on me. Hope all is well on the west coast!

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From Mr Webb's blog post:

Papa Frog:
In other old business, the actual “books” for Barakus should arrive in about 10 days (to me) and start shipping out right around the holiday. The poster maps, player’s guides, RA subscriptions and CD subscriptions are still in the process of production and printing, so some of you may get your stuff slightly later than others. I thought about delaying shipping—but decided with 1000 or so orders to fill (close to 1100 actually) that I had better get started as quick as I could. In all cases you should get the books in July instead of August as promised. Thank you all again for the overwhelming support on the last kickstarter!

T H A N K Y O U F R O G G O D G A M E S!!!!

One of your newest superfans, Mark.

PS: I've set up a comfy chair in the bay window overlooking the mailbox and I'll be working from home for the next month. I'll be living exclusively in that chair constantly peering out to see if my shipment has arrived. No pressure :)

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Ok, so... game night happened. Sorry to disappoint Tozzy Tozbourne, but there were no pics.

So first my players arrived, we had pizza and jawed for about an hour. I met a new player and had 4 others I've gamed with before. After food, drinks and some intros we were off.

session log:

An APL 2 party consisting of:

NG male human rogue 2
NG male dwarf cleric (Saranrae)2
NG male human fighter (Polearm Master)2
CG male human ranger (Dungeon Rover)2
CG male Halfling sorcerer 2 - never did get his bloodline

So, the last session saw the PCs head to the local megadungeon on the mission of getting down through a couple levels to an underground lake, then from there they were to locate a newly opened section. The end goals are to map the new place and recover any religious artifacts they could.

Unfortunately in their first foray out they had encountered a very hard fight with a young wyvern and their former paladin PC had died. The opening of last night's session saw the party at the Hammered Dragon inn speaking with their benefactor, the innkeeper. The polearm master, and the Halfling sorcerer are both new to the party so we intro'd them and had a brief RP scene. Then the party set off to enter the Lower Warrens.

Thankfully their path to the first of the entrances, the Howling Step was encounter-free. They smashed their way in only to find the entrance dead ended in a disturbing sight: a deep pit filled with dead children who'd been disfigured and their blood splashed on the walls and painted into profane symbols. It turned out to be a Lamashtan worship site and it repulsed positive energy turning it to negative. The victims had been animated as zombies and the party could find no way down so they prepared to rappel down and deal with the threat when goblins ambushed them from behind.

They dispatched one while 3 slipped through a secret door. Following these creatures they discovered the mechanism to open the door and the rogue entered finding a stairwell down on the other side of the wall. He succeeded in a Perception Check and a reflex save; he was not injured by a falling spike trap while he was able to act in the surprise round to start dealing with 2 goblins aiming short bows up at him.

The party quickly followed and one goblin held them on the stairs while another went to activate a trap to flatten the stairs. All three PCs made their save, slid safely to the bottom of the stairwell and finished the goblins handily.

Exploring with caution they noted several hallways branching off as well as 2 doors. One of these seemed to be a non-descript wooden dungeon door while the other had a relief of a twisted face on it with its mouth gaping and religious glyphs. Finally in one of the side halls they heard a strange, blubbery sloshing but saw nothing.

Splitting the party (I KNOW right?) the PCs went to investigate both the sound and the face door at once. The door's Sound Burst trap, revealed in the horrible face screaming at the trespassers dealt a little damage and stunned the cleric while the fighter and ranger engaged a gelatinous cube. The next several rounds were a hard fight seeing the fighter and ranger, as well as a dying goblin with negative hp engulfed in the creature's relentless form until at last he was laid low by a combination of the cleric's fire bolts and ironically the halfling's acid splash cantrip.

The night ended with a conversation, part in character part in RL. The new player was indifferent to the session; he's new and we're still getting to know each other's styles. However 2 of the other players expressed some concern that we're just hacking this giant dungeon and not getting anywhere while the other 2 players sort of shrugged and admitted that's the nature of a megadungeon.

It was a good conversation for me as GM though. It really gave me some concrete evidence of a direction to take the game. One of the players who isn't gelling with the megadungeon said specifically that he'd like to break out into the wilds, find smaller, compact sites or quests and achieve some objectives. He'd also like to see some progress made on level and gear gains - currently the PCs are at WBL for level 2 but a lot of that wealth is in very mundane gear.

My players all seem to be leaning toward a greater desire to explore. My suggestion to them at this point is that we move into hex crawl mode. I have several local hexes around the home base city keyed with encounters, adventure sites and resources. I also urged the players to create personal goals for their PCs. Rather than using the missions as the driving point of the story I want my players to flip their perspective. The missions are a way to gather resources and power for the personal things they want to accomplish.

For example the rogue belongs to a group which is a bold-faced rip off of the Pathfinder Society in my homebrew. I suggested to him maybe he wants his character to eventually become a "Delve Marshall" (venture captain). If this is a goal of the rogue's then the current Delve Marshall informing their missions would pick out smaller, targeted runs to give the rogue the opportunity to acquire the archaeological discoveries the rogue needs to succeed.

Lastly the gaming space worked out GREAT! My wife and kids couldn't hear us and were able to get to bed without issue. My players and I enjoyed several intense moments without having to shout over crowds, pause for people passing through or deal with distractions. I say again that I hope EVERYONE in this thread gets to be so lucky as to have a dedicated space just for gaming while they enjoy this hobby of ours!

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So I should start my own thread, but I'm putting this here since I like you guys. I'm about to unveil my new basement gaming space in 15 minutes. The beer is chilling, the pizza's about to get ordered and I have 8 pieces of "mountain terrain" on the board for the mega-exploration session I have planned. And, per this thread, by "planned" I mean I know the story overview and I have a bunch of random tables cued. WISH ME LUCK and happy gaming to all!

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Mage Hand plus smokestick for battlefield control

tanglefoot bags

Charge grants a +2 to attack

Climb to get higher ground

Use a net even though you're not proficient

Slings and bullets are cheap and with a decent Dex and Str you can hang well back and lob little bits of damage all day

Throw oil - not just to light on fire but because it makes slippery spots

Daze. At this level robbing action economy for a round can be fight-winning and with a Cha focus you're walking in with a DC 14 Will save on monsters that typically have at best a +3 to their save. I'd also say Dazzle but that's not really all that great a debuff.

Speaking of debuffs, Touch of Fatigue is a decent one

There's always lots you can do, even at 1st level and even as a sorcerer. Remember though that some of your bloodline powers are touch attacks that just auto-affect your enemies for a round.

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No no; you're all spot on. I can be very pushy as a player and I'm working on it. I definitely know there's a difference between what I call roleplay and what my players do. We're all new to one another.

I will point out though that many of you in this and other threads have said what Johnny boy did: listen to the players. That's what I do, I listen. I'm not hearing anything.

One guy makes no background. Even when I prompt for background with specific questions he gives me nothing. Lots of you say something to the effect of listening to what they say in character. If they're not directly reacting to me then they're not talking; when they are talking it's things like "my rogue says something diplomatic; I'd like to use Diplomacy to see if I can get her to come with me."

Even when talking OUT of character the guys jaw about work, current tv or video games. It seems to me like they're bored and maybe they are at times. But then I drop a sweet set piece fight with lots of strategic choices, some intelligent villains and a few pieces of 3d terrain for them to maneuver around. Now I've got their attention, they're engaged and we have a blast.

When all's said and done the feedback I get is that they had fun and enjoyed the combats, but they wish there was more story and plot.

I know directly asking someone "hey; why don't you make something up right here?" is a lost cause unless you're dealing with an extremely competitive or creative person. Instead I try to use prompts:

- HOW do you ask her to come with the party; with what words?

- does your character have any battle cries?

- What's the name of the village you were born in?

Even with these its often like pulling teeth to get something I can work with. Ironically the only guy who consistently comes to the rescue for me is the other old-skooler in the group.

When I first met him this guy wasn't much of a roleplayer. He didn't talk in character and tended to shut down until combat at which point he just directed traffic on the battlemat. But I noticed that, as he and I started talking about the games we USED to have as kids and older modules and such, he started to unleash little by little.

Now this guy consistently brings epic characters to the table. His last PC was a paladin who was only 2nd level but was getting built around Combat Expertise and Skill Focus: Diplomacy. This guy gave me 3 great bits from his backstory to run the plot around and he also worked with his church to go halfsies on a dilapidated forge in the slums. He was going to fix it up and in the process work from the inside out to save the downtrodden of a city where child labor is a reality and slavery exists in the open just outside the city walls.

This is what kind of fuels my belief that maybe all those hack n slash games I had as a kid weren't all hack n slash. Me and a lot of old skoolers I know seem to have this ease with which we just drop into a character and start riffing. Oh sure, for some folks they're just repeating movie lines or stealing from some TV character - I'm included in this bunch. But we just seem to dive right in and start creating a whole character that you could imagine as real.

My new skooler players are not BAD at roleplay. They just do it differently. They tend to see it as a more mechanical exercise; a bit of fluff to justify the skill/feat/power they're using. If it isn't in a book or on the map, it doesn't exist yet and they seem to feel very strongly that it's my role to create. Our roles are really very well defined.

Our games are fun. I'm not going to dump my gaming group. They're a bunch of great guys and there's still a lot of smiles, laughing and the occasional high-five going around. I'm just saying that there's something very real about the difference between the old skool and the new. I didn't think so before, but I'm coming around.

Finally let me end the rant by reiterating that there's NOTHING wrong with my players or how they play. I'm not ragging on them or, at least I'm not TRYING to. I hope to have the pleasure and honor of continuing to game with them though I will admit that our 2 conflicting styles sometimes present a rift that I haven't yet conquered.

But I'm working on it...

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Another way to find players might be comics shops. Depending on how social you are you might strike up conversations with the owner and see if they are into gaming, know anyone who is, or would let you post a flyer for a game.

I had a core group since 7th grade that I hung with through college until I was 30(so what, nearly 20 years). Then I moved to MN from IL and after a couple years of no gaming at all I began piecing together a new group.

My first attempt was running 3x for a group of adults who'd never played RPGs ever. Helping me in this was my wife (thank god for her!) and my one current old skooler in my gaming group. I met him through my wife's Mom's Club and did some board gaming with him. Needless to say - the new people game was a disaster and ended quickly.

Next I tried meetup groups and played a little but I didn't seem to gel w/anyone. My new buddy here introduced me to some of his friends and together we've done some recruiting here and there; online, word of mouth, PFS games, etc. At times its felt like less of a hobby and more of a part time job. Currently I'm in 2 groups gaming with a total of 8 guys.

Its not easy finding new players in adulthood, in my experience. There's family, work, sometimes school too that keeps schedules inconsistent. My biggest issue though has been socially. I'd meet a gamer, maybe we'd even have a good PFS session together, then I'd ask to sit in on his home game or maybe have him around for mine. Suddenly it's like the Sims when 2 characters have negative reactions: the guy I'm talking with goes rigid and nervous, puts up a hand and waves me off saying the table's full or whatever.

Now I completely get it - sometimes you have a stable of like 9 people in your gaming group or whatever or you've got physical space restrictions so I can't come to your game. But I've just invited you into mine and you've just got done telling me you wished you gamed more. Let's face it; you just don't want to hang.

Meeting new people is hard and gets harder as we get older. Not all gamers grew up into social extroverts who can glad-hand in public and mingle at parties. Heck, some of us don't even get invited to parties anymore. But even then I'm not asking for new players to be my best friends.

I've recently put together a combo megadungeon/West Marches style campaign. Though my regular players are LOATHE to hear it one of the reasons for this was so that PCs could rotate in and out w/out much hassle. So I say to all gamers in MN, reading this thread, who might be looking for a game: take a few minutes, make a guy, and sit in on a game. It's beer and pretzels, you'll have a laugh and get to rip it up a bit. If it's not your thing or you don't like me or my style, fine - there's no commitment here. But if you like it and want to come back then great; I'll add you to the roster.

Hopefully there are similarly minded folks in Idaho, or Indiana, or wherever its tough to build a game. If not, maybe WE can be those guys.

One of the best ways I ever saw to get gamers was at a comic book shop I used to work at years ago. A GM requested some space in the corner on a Saturday, brought all his own gear including a table, and bought a brand new DMG (back in 3x). He didn't have ANY players booked that first Saturday; he just showed up and hung a sign reading "PRODUCT DEMO".

On his table he laid out a battle mat, painted minis, hand-built terrain pieces and dice. He had pregens stacked to the side and his books out as well. Eventually some kids came over and asked what he was doing. They sat, messed about with a couple combats and told their mom. He had a few more bites that first day and that was that.

By word of mouth and physical presence this guy grew a game. They'd meet every Saturday to "demo" 3x material. Many of his players actually bought the gear he was showing off at the store so we kept hosting him. A few regulars developed out of this, they made friends with one another, and this GM still games with a couple of these folks in a home game years later.

Shiny things like minis, terrain and new books will attract players. Hopefully this works for others too!

4 people marked this as a favorite. and local PFS. That's how I found most of my current group. I did put up a thread on these forums too but the guy from these threads isn't in my game anymore unfortunately.

I don't know if these work for all areas of the country and I can't guarantee you'll get old-timer gamer buddies but at least they're live players. I've done PbP in the past and gamed with some friends through email but I agree with Terqy - it's not the same.

Recently I finally got a gaming room. I had one as a kid and then again in my first apartment, but then I started dating my future wife and we moved in together. For the past 2 decades I've been in cramped quarters with my family (wife, 2 little girls) and haven't really had dedicated gaming space.

Well just a few weeks ago we bought a new house with 2 stories and a finished basement. In said basment is a modest room that isn't a playroom or a den or a workroom I'm using the corner of or whatever. It's MY gaming room.

I can't express the joy and peace and serenity it brings. I have a SEPARATE area to work on minis, terrain and molding modular dungeon pieces. I have the rest of the house for board games with the girls or video games with the wife. This gaming room is calm, cool, and sublty lit with shelves full of books, a big desk for me to work at AND a folding table for gaming.

Guys I'm truly blessed. I have live players; one of them's an old-skooler like me; I have my own gaming room again. I can't WAIT until the next session this weekend! I wish everyone in this thread that kind of luck.

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tony gent wrote:

In my opinion a good trap should do one of three things kill capture or incapacitat they are ment to frighten people off and act as a constant guard.

If all they do is hurt a little or delay you a bit there not much of a deterrent
Think of the opening of Indiana Jones the traps there where ment to kill you before you got to the idol and if you did get it the rest where ment to kill you or stop you leaving the temple for good
Now there traps

The thing to remember about Indiana Jones is that it's based in RL. The traps were meant to kill you, yes, but break them down:

1. Spikes from the walls: +15 melee attack dealing 2d6 piercing. Yes, enough to kill or AT LEAST incapacitate a normal CR 1/2 or 1/3 NPC, but a PC fighter could survive

2. Darts from the walls: a DC 13 Ref save to pass through an open area affected by the trap (multiple targets could be affected; 2d4 damage). If someone takes one or two darts, no problem (1/2 damage) but suffer full damage and you're a pin cushion. Again - a rogue or other perceptive PC may just avoid like Indie does or make their save and take it.

3. Pit trap: Jump it, climb the walls, mage hand to use rope and hook from a distance, etc. Or climb down, investigate, and collect treasure from bodies at the bottom. Failing all of that, the Perception check to notice AND the DC 15 Ref save, yes the fall will kill a lot of PCs... but not all of them by RAW.

4. The rolling ball: ok, that one's a monster! I'd basically rule it like an avalanche - fail a save and you take full on 8d6 (yeah, it's gonna kill a lot of PCs); make your save and you're STILL taking 3d6 damage.

I guess my point is that traps may not translate to PF as well as you'd like, without making them elaborate death traps. My favorite stereotype is the "swinging blades in the hall" trap where the hero has to figure out the timing. Unfortunately in PF that boils down to some rolls, not a mental puzzle like I want.

I like traps that inflict a condition. Blind them with stinging dust; deal a little damage but with Bludgeoning to a sensitive spot that causes Sickened; use a sudden heat vent opening to inflict a Waves of Fatigue like effect on the whole party. Drop that and follow up with a couple monsters in a normal, APL +0 combat. Suddenly your Blinded, Fatigued PCs begin to fear traps again.

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So I'm sitting at work today, killing time in the back of a meeting, and I'm thinking about this thread and old-skool gaming in general. Suddenly I have a couple hexes doodled on my notepad. Before I knew it I've got 12 hexes, poorly drawn and merely marked with letters for terrain types, and I can't WAIT for the meeting to end so I can grab lunch and start making.

What IS it with us and hex maps?

I blame Greywawk. Before I even had Karameikos I had the Greyhawk folders with the folding hex maps and I still have them now. I remember thinking how freaking BOSS that thing was, and how awesome all the detail in the setting was. I was so young.

Anyway now I'm jonesing to make a "West Marches" style game. Anyone got any good resources for keying hexes and keeping it brief but interesting? I've never played the Kingmaker AP but I know there's probably a few blogs out there with either random hex keys, advice or whatever. Don't worry about the map, I'll handle that - hitting the 1e DMG for some random, "what's in the next hex" goodness!

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Oh, I've met my share of non-heroes too. Way back in 1e I had a homebrew and in said world there were 2 schools of wizardry in 2 countries. One tended to arm its students with spells of more battlefield control (Web, Stinking Cloud, Hold Person) while the other one was all blasting (Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Magic Missile). I stood up in front of the player running the M-U and asked him which of the schools he would accept in the voice of 2 different NPCs. He chose the blasty school "'cause that's how you beat fights."

There have always been "moar power" types. Ironically in older editions it was easier to control them since the DM really had all of the power to dole out. But still if a magic item came into the party and could be exploited in some way, these guys would find a way.

In 2e it was the kits; in 3x it was feats. There was always SOMETHING for powergamers to get their hands on so they could "win." For me it was never about winning, as a DM or a player. It was about hanging with my friends.

One of my favorite campaigns only lasted to level 2. It was a 1e campaign, heavily Tolkien-influenced where a Halfling village had been attacked by an ogre but really the ogre was being controlled by an evil cleric. The party fought very well, explored the dungeon and broke the cult in the region. However there wasn't much wealth in the whole adventure so to repay the party these Halflings crafted unique pipes for each PC which would light on it's own. They also gave them each a pouch of very special tobacco that had special effect smoke and finally the one treasure of the village: the golden turnip. Literally a turnip that had been turned to pure gold. The party vowed never to sell it.

My current gaming group consists of a guy that always plays dwarves and could care less about roleplaying ever; a hyper-strategic old-skooler; and 2 younger gentlemen who seem cut from the more modern, forum-based players. There's nothing wrong with any of them and I enjoy playing with them. However for all four of them my TRUE way of gaming - heavily descriptive, old-skool traps you have to think through and convoluted plots - would be considered a form of torture.

So I improvise.

I have a lot of random fights for the all-dwarf guy. My strategist is a thinker and though he says the opposite out loud loves puzzles, so I generally throw in a few Gygaxian traps for him. He also loves fights though, and dynamic ones, so the set pieces are designed with him in mind. My other 2 guys really enjoy APs and the mechanics of PF; they also thrive on skill-use-based roleplaying. That is, they enjoy using their skills in intended or sometimes creative ways to accomplish things so I try to have ample opportunities for roleplay, exploration and environmental challenges.

Sure, these aren't the hippy-dippy, Lord-of-the-Rings clone type games I ran as a kid, with the Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin playing in the background. But I'd like to think the heart of those old games is still there, buried in the improv and mechanics. The idea that, as I said above, heroes should be heroes; villains get trounced; days get saved.

Its funny; the old-skool guy in my current game is probably the most heroic. It starts out in his build, then comes out in cliché ways he roleplays, but when the chips are down his characters are consistently the guys holding doorways, directing traffic, and holding the line until the ENTIRE party is safe. He says its because he is playing fights strategically and there is some of that, but how is it strategic to say that as a pool of boiling hot water is filling a room and an undead hag is rising up out of it to murder a PC who is poised to steal an amulet that saves a forest his character CHARGES IN while everyone else is backing out with ranged weapons?

I'm rambling though. The point is I try to be the GM that works WITH his players and encourages them to be heroes. It doesn't always work, but I'm glad to say that there are still some of us left at the tables. When I think of old-skool gaming THAT'S what I envision. I think of the Paladin in Hell pic from the Player's Handbook; I think of the hobbits returning to the Shire one last time having survived their ordeals; I remember the time my buddy took a pair of magic swords and was flying, hasted, and dogfighting solo with an ancient red dragon to save his father and inadvertently the world.

You folks all have your own games, your own ideals. I'm not telling you to play my way; I wouldn't presume to. I would challenge though to think of what really made those old-skool games awesome. Was it the mechanics? Was it the edition you were playing or the other company's game system? Or was it the fact that you and your friends were together, striving toward a greater goal and pulling out all the stops in a no-holds-barred, white-knuckle attempt to survive the most villainous evil the fictional world your characters inhabited had ever known.

We are the champions, my friends, and we'll keep on fighting, to the end. Better words for my games have maybe never been sung in human history...

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Yes I will admit: PF might equal super characters. AD&D however had no player decisions on character. None.

You rolled your stats (luck), then picked your class but based on those rolls. As you leveled if you were lucky you got to pick a couple spells. Your gear was given to you; your powers (if you got any through roleplaying) were given to you; even the mount you could have beyond a horse was entirely up to the DM.

2e had kits. You know what I saw? Suddenly at my table players were willing to talk in character and got REALLY into what their character was - pictures, fluffy backgrounds, etc. Now I'm not saying that wasn't there at my tables in AD&D but it was limited to those players who really enjoyed the social aspects of roleplaying. Now as players got to trick out their fave guy everyone at the table wanted their guy to live, to breathe; to Jazzercise (remember the movie I stole that line from? Then you ARE an old timer...)

Now yes; once 3x hit people went mad with power. Super Heroes ran rampant in my games and still do. Once games get to high level it becomes "rocket tag" and all. I am not disagreeing. I'm only offering 2 things that have helped me cope:

1. whatever my players use, I use - if they have 4 super heroes on the table I'm going to tweak my villains and make some of them super villains, since it's only fitting. 20 pt buy, cherry picked powers and the best items money can buy? Ok, but that vanilla troll you were about to fight just got a few more points in its stats, better feats and a couple traits too, and it's now surrounded by radiant cold that Fatigues (modest save to the level) and reduces fire damage.

2. just because there's more power in the game doesn't mean I have to use it - the game's a social contract; always has been. If I REALLY fear super heroes then I can modify the contract. Play only core, 15 pt buy or really tamp down the kind of magic that can be bought. In 1e you had to bargain w/your DM to GET power as a player; now in PF you have to bargain w/your players to restrict it. It's not ideal but that's the reality.

Now I have to be honest - I rarely if ever use option #2. Why? My bookshelves explain it - half is gaming material and general reading, but the other HALF is comics, graphic novels and other super heroes related material. That's right - I LOVE super heroes. I'm saying old fashioned, tights-and-underwear-on-the-outside types what fly and crawl on walls and throw tanks and such. I've ALWAYS loved them since I was a kid, and Marvel was always my fave.

I'll freely admit I've always been drawn to the more breakable heroes. Spider-Man and Batman in particular. For all their powers, skills and gadgets both of these guys over the years have been not just killed but broken. Batman with his paralysis and back injury as well as countless bad beats leaving him laid up in bed for days while Gotham burns. Spider-Man has been wailed on so much: blindness, broken ribs, dislocated shoulders and broken arms. I love the image of either of them, teeth gritted, costumes shredded, bleeding and broken, but they still... keep... fighting.

So if my players want super I'll give them super, until they don't want it anymore. And yet their villains will be super too. They will fight, they will hurt, they will die. Sometimes they will lose or even succumb to the forces of evil for a time. I have only one request of my players that hasn't changed since I was 7; be heroes too.

When the chips are down, you've exhausted all your cool powers, you're down to a couple acid flasks and your cleric only has a single channel left, but the BBEG is poised to finish the ritual that turns an entire city into zombies, fight. Don't turn tail and run with the rest of the city; don't start debating over how you can defeat the zombie army once you've taken a night to rest.

Get in there. Teeth gritted, armor shredded, broken and bleeding, and FIGHT. Don't JUST be super; be HEROES.

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Multiple XP charts and XP for gold - I used to just level as we played and hand out said levels when it was appropriate. As such these didn't bother me or help me either. Of course the REASON I started doing that was 'cause they bothered me, so I guess there's that.

Multiclassing - this is part of what I was getting at by snap-on powers in 3x. I like the multiclassing in later editions specifically because you can build your PC how you want now instead of everything being a bit of fluff. I had a fighter in 2e that wanted to be sort of a peasant mystic. He took 9 levels of fighter in the "peasant hero" kit, followed by another 10 levels in the "peasant wizard" kit just to get at the theme I had envisioned when in PF I could've just had a fighter 1/Wizard 1 and by level 2 I'm into my element.

GM control - here's my thing; I like to create for my games. No, I LOVE to create for my games. I enjoy making stuff up. However in the older editions there were no variants, no templates, no nothing. I added "red" skeletons to an adventure once in 1e - they were red from heated metal fused to their bones that made their AC better and allowed them to add 1d4 damage. One guy thought it was cool, 2 guys were pissed off that I was "specifically trying to kill their characters" and 1 guy argued for me for five minutes with the monster manual in hand saying that such a creature didn't exist.

Now in PF there is an expectation that the GM will change stuff, modify monsters, etc. There are templates, haunts, variants, NPC classes, etc built INTO the system. If I want a bugbear slaver with some cool supernatural stealth and sensory abilities I can grab a couple levels in a class, tack on a template and away I go. I don't have to sit and shoehorn a bugbear into the Thief class and then re-invent the wheel to give him powers.

Can I still make stuff up in PF as in 1e? Sure, but now with the expectation built in as well as half the work done to generate options for me my work as a GM is easier and more widely accepted. Are there still dissenters and rules-lawyers at the table? Sure, but now I can add a bit of consistency to my games for my players AND me.

In 1e, if I ruled jumping to work a certain way, I had to remember that for future use. Then if I was a player in another guy's campaign I had to deal with whatever wonky system he used. Everyone's game was their own - a blessing AND a curse.

Now in PF jumping may be ridiculous (I agree w/folks here - jump as Dex?) but at least there's consistency. Now when I have a barbarian rage-leaping over hazards to land behind enemies I can ALSO have a fair ruling on why one of said enemies just jumped and then climbed up into a tree to avoid him.

And one last rant about PF and the templates and such. Back in 2e I remember taking like an entire week between work and home life to come up with all the stuff for a custom adventure. I was leafing through books, figuring out how to turn a monster into an NPC so that then I could add a class to it, re-creating the monsters/class combo on paper and then trying to add in consistent traps, re-read all the dungeon survival rules, add mold, etc.

Now the same kind of adventure takes a few hours. Bugbear slaver-lord? Bugbear rogue (thug)2. Goblin slavers? Goblin Warrior 1/Expert (sneaky type skills)1. Use an excel form to calculate the numbers, print out on paper and off to the environment. There's hazards, fog effects for the misty moors and I've got molds or mold-based monsters to choose from. The longest part of this build will be figuring a way to get the party there.

Now you guys may all have different experience in the matter and that's great. I'm glad that the older editions will continue to live on - heck, I'm sitting here with the 1e DMG staring me in the face for the random wilderness section I'll be making up in a minute. But for me personally I like, both as a GM and a player, the codified framework that PF gives me. I change it whenever I have to and with the mathz of PF being simplistic I can usually make changes that don't adversely break the balance of the game.

It's not perfect, but its the system that works for me. Thanks for not kicking me out of the club.

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Now for a bit of blasphemy: I prefer Pathfinder to older editions.


I like the way the game flows
I like the players having more "agency" in the game
I like building up, player options and such
I like Paizo and support of my hobby

I know; a band of grognards with torches and pitchforks are out front calling for my blood, but this is how I feel. In older editions, since I really tried to be fair and transparent and not overtly "killer" a lot of players took this as a sign of weakness and thus would try to game the system. By the accounts of friends and colleagues I've had over the years I had an inordinate amount of rules lawyers at my games.

As such my long-term games, if I left the realm of straight dungeon crawls became mired in an endless barrage of debates and in-fighting. God forbid I try customizing monsters or houseruling stuff. When I'd layeth the smacketh down on my players, suddenly I didn't have any players.

As such I was using figs and battlemats way before it was near canon in 3x. I also already had a rules-heavy game too, adhering to most if not all in the DMG and Players' Handbook as well as the class handbooks. I never "built" monsters because of wonky mechanics and the rules-gray debaters, but always wanted to ratchet on powers and stuff.

Now 3x was a good start but I felt like the numbers were always off. When splatbooks started flooding the marketplace and 3pp sources were putting out the most insanely unbalanced stuff I once again had the rules lawyers all up in my grill. I needed a middle ground; something that gave me the Snap-on-esque variability of 3x but also could achieve a bit of old-skool feel the way I remembered it.

Enter: Pathfinder.

Now let me be clear - I'm not saying PF is perfect nor am I pissing on older editions here. My experience by most accounts seems pretty unique. But I wouldn't even be typing here if not for Mr Gygax and Mr Arneson. Greyhawk will forever be my favorite published setting and I still to this day have to consciously will myself not to align my stats on a character sheet as "Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con Cha."

But in the older editions saves were sometimes confusing even to me. One guy hinged the survival or failure on an entire game by using a single save, which I failed. Also the negatives of AC and the constant need for checking the tables to see if a weapon hit or not. Most of the time I just said yes or no to my players based on dramatic license.

I enjoy old-skool style. I throw monsters at my players they should run from or bribe; I use traps of the Grimtooth variety; I actively warn my players there will be PC death. But I like the polish and possibility added by the PF mechanics. Please don't revoke my grognard cred. I died 3 times slogging through the Tomb of Horrors and I still run Keep on the Borderlands to start off some of my campaigns.

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That'll do M.J., that'll do.

One of my earliest dungeons was just a series of planar jumps through old Intellevision games. You had to win a race to get a cup that ported you to Tron where you picked up a light disc that then got you to Utopia and so on. At the end all of the weapons/gear you picked up would help you defeat the dragon at the end of the D&D video game.

I was 7, so deal.

One thing I'll say for old-skool gaming though is it taught you how to be creative right quick. A buddy of mine started an expert campaign by basically dropping us level 1 PCs into a burning stable. We had only the gear we could find to help us escape. There were also 2 orcs inside trying to kill us. The only thing my Thief could find was a rope, so I tied it into a noose, hurled it up into the rafters and hid. When an orc came by I snared him, started strangling him and then grabbed his dagger.

What was it about the old games that even though we had LESS character options, fancy powers and such we all wanted to test just how bada33 we could be stripped down to nothing. Could you imagine starting a game like that now?

You're all in a burning stable and there's 2 orcs

Fighter: Charge attack/punch in the face (eats AoO) 8 pts non-lethal

Wizard: Acid Splash (only V, S) FTW!

Rogue: Hide in shadows, pick orc's pocket. Next round, Stabby Mc Stabberson for... 6 damage

Cleric: Fire Bolt the one that the fighter hit for 4 damage

Players let out a collective yawn. Even unarmed/unarmored they are still armed and protected. I suppose I'm just cynical that way.

I also had some really "dark world" GMs back in the day. You're attacked; they follow as you run away; they fan out in the woods and surround you; they light the woods on fire; what do you mean there was no way out?

I think I'm somewhere between "Dark World" and "My Little Pony." My players ALWAYS have an out - either through their own ingenuity or something that I've added to the adventure. However sometimes taking said out lands them in hotter water. Still, I'll never just drop rocks and kill everyone. I don't have any meat grinders but on the other hand I don't have adventures where the entire scenario consists of going on a fun romp in the teddy bear woods.

No, I suppose my only element of really old-skool in my games is threat. Everything that the PCs do involves risk of some kind. Adventuring is a dangerous profession. I'm not saying every old lady is packing an uzi, but rather that said old lady that talks to the PCs may then be snagged and interrogated by the baddy and now the PCs have been revealed.

If they didn't want the threat of constant danger, they should've stayed with Uncle Owen and Aunt Veru on the farm.

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At work; dotting for later work. PS - don't forget Sheets of Drying; a minor magic item the causes a prestidigitation effect that dry-cleans one set of clothes or armor leaving them with a pleasant smell.

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TriOmegaZero wrote:
I participate in too much organized play.

Oh Tozzle-Woz, I was expecting something along the lines of:

I don't always play homebrews, but when I do...

It's always with wands of CLW.

Because TriOmegaZero is: the most INTERESTING gamer in the world.

When he sits in on a game, d20s roll to save

His characters have characters

BBEGs confirm his crits for him

He is; the most INTERESTING gamer in the world

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Simon Legrande wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

What happens to adventurers who don't prepare?

They improvise.

I heard this as Clint Eastwood in Hamburger Ridge.
Heartbreak Ridge?

There it is. Thanks for the assist Grandey!

"They adapt; they improvise; they overcome..."

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