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Do it DMC! As for me, this thread is giving me tons of ideas. Y'see in my Homebrew the First World rebelled and invaded the Prime for nearly a century in various parts of the world. This global calamity was called the Wilding and brought a host of new and strange fey and what not.
It also caused the land to regress to eldritch wilderness.
These RL plants are a great find. I tell my players "the forest here regrew and is dark and scary" but they don't really respect that in character. When I call for a DC 25 Survival followed by a DC 15 Fort save, followed in turn by excruciating pain and vomiting for a full day of the PC's life for brushing up against a leaf, maybe they'll take note.
PCs in my game can be created using all Paizo material. 3PP material is allowed only with GM approval. I use PFS starting gold; everyone starts with 150 GP. I used to use a 20 pt buy but in my most recent game we've rolled stats and I think I'll stick with that.
After the game begins the restrictions happen. PCs roll into an area and get whatever resources are there. I have no "magic marts" or wholesale magic item shops, so hopefully the PCs have a way to reliably create their own consumables early in the game.
For instance last night the players wanted to buy a bunch of druid scrolls since 2 of the PCs are druids and one's a hunter. I was like "Great! Now just find the wizard in town that scribes scrolls and pay her to sit and help you make these things, paying full price and spending the time to craft." When my players were a bit taken aback I explained that there's no druid circle in town churning out scrolls so therefore they shouldn't count on these things just sitting on a shelf for them.
Now this isn't to say that they can't EVER have nice things. Like your eastern armor, if there's something cool they want that isn't available where they are the PCs can always use skills, abilities, powers or even quest for the things themselves in order to locate them. I also hand out a free skill rank at creation usable for a Craft, Perform or Profession skill only. This represents a chosen vocation the PC had before they took up the life of adventure. I wholeheartedly encourage PCs to exploit this skill in any way possible for gear and such.
For example if a PC wanted some unique book and had Profession: Woodcutter I'd have them speak with other woodcutters and network; they could also offer to barter wood for service crafting the device; they could even say that they're going to seek out a special tree that a crafter can use to turn into the book and work it into the current story as a side quest.
The party rounds a corner and nearly slams into a lone duergar at a wide intersection. The palid dwarf-mutant has upon his back a massive double backpack along with a quartet of posts and planks. As the PCs ready their weapons the Duergar retreats a step and gestures plaintively. "Wait wait... you don't want kill Uncle Grystvugkh! He have what you need..." When the duergar grins a pair of centipedes crawl out a dead gap in his teeth.
As the party hesitates Uncle Grystvugkh begins dismantling his great pack. The planks unlatch and connect to the poles, with a tabletop mounted above. Suddenly there are jars, kits, and a few haphazard light weapons laid upon the stall he's constructed. "All good... all FRESH..." the crooked creature gestures to a variety of parts floating in said jars as his hump back is now unveiled beneath his load.
"You like? You no steal, you no cheat, and you no kill Uncle Grystvugkh. He know some, find much and always guarantee wares. You play nice with Uncle Grystvugkh, you get nice things. You wants, yes?" a slick of drool falls to the floor from the man's cracked lips as the thin strands that pass for hair brush over his bloodshot eyes. As vile as some of Grystvugkh's merchandise appears, it looks as if there are some things you might be able to use...
So you have the party meet a "traveling salesman" in the dungeon. Maybe while walking, or maybe they stumble on the guy's "shop." Sure, they might just kill the guy but there's lots of ways out of that. If they question the merchant and why he's selling to them its simple. Kobolds have money and stuff, but sometimes need other stuff. This merchant is simply providing for his customers. Why sell to adventurers? Because he's an opportunist that sells to those who have the money. He has no stake in the game.
This guy can now become a permanent fixture or might mysteriously disappear. You don't have to explain him; better if you don't. Hell, if you want to make him REALLY mysterious, have the PCs run into some ancient heiroglyph that they KNOW is a thousand years old and have the same guy show up depicted in the writing, warts and all. He's ALWAYS been here...
Homebrew: a "druidic sect" is nothing more than a cabal of witches. They appear beneficial, manufacturing talismans of cold iron, marsh grass and cattail fibers to ward off a nuckelavee. The reality is, through a pact with the fey they cursed a mortal to transform it into the fey creature.
The "Druid Amulets" are all hexmarked (Wizard Mark cantrip or whatever). The trio of witches can hone in on any one of the marked amulets and coerce the bearer to commit some act of degradation against a neighbor, thereby sowing discord in the town. In the meantime some of the cult's "true believers" have been doing damage in the sewers, filling local streams with pollution, etc.
By the time the PCs arrive the druid cult is preaching the end times. The nuckelavee, the avenging spirit of the forest is coming for the town to rid the land of its wickedness and pollution. The streets are stinking, the sewers filled with monsters and the non-believers are cursed with terrible luck.
If you want to be saved all you need do is bear an amulet and commit yourself to the sect. Your commitment will be tested in a favor you'll have to do when the time is right.
The adventure then involves:
1. come to the town and hear the doomsayers
The Druid Amulets are keyed to cast a powerful (DC 21) Sanctuary spell against the nuckelavee. If it fails it's save it considers the bearer an innocent and spares the creature its wrath. Any offensive action the bearer takes against the nuckelavee breaks the enchantment for a 24 hour period.
Can you use any of that?
Right after I bought the Ultimate Campaign book I thought it would cool to start a sandbox game as follows: PCs begin on the verge of the wilds, each with a Shack (as per the Downtime rules) representing a few permanent peasant cotes or huts they'd built for themselves. This then qualified as a Hamlet; merchants would occasionally come to their settlement to trade but for the most part it would be on the PCs to adventure into the wilds, gather GP and experience and then translate that into Capital. Then on their first mission they accompany a merchant caravan there, save it from attacks and get a couple of the laborers from the caravan as permanent residents. Now these new settlers can be used to spend the Capital the PCs build up.
I wish I'd found this thread BEFORE I started my current campaign. I give out a free skill rank usable only for a Craft/Performance/Profession skill at character creation but that's it. Then after the game starts I always feel like I'm being a Scrooge of a GM.
I will say though that I used to have people roll their starting gold but then gave them one item needed for the class like a spellbook or thieve's tools. Nowadays I just give everyone 150 GP to start.
I should start creating homebrew campaign traits and then giving them out for free at character creation.
@ Ash; Hardwares: the fluff on kobolds often depicts them living in the darkest parts of a woodland. Some of the alternate racial traits confirm that at least some of them forsake mining for Survival, Ride, and other woodland skills.
For the guys that live entirely underground, remember: unless immersed in full daylight or targeted with a daylight spell their light sensitivity is an annoyance to kobolds, but not a hindrance. As a result I could imagine that some of their cave chambers closer to the surface might have some grates or holes in the ceiling that allow filtered daylight in. The floor of the cave could be a mix of soil, loam and fertilizer (bat guano and such) and it would watered by ground seep and whatever descended through the grates. As such they could raise some underground gardens and such. Any shade plants that are also edible, tubers, mushrooms and such. Their protien sources could be rats, insects, bats, and larger animals that make their lairs in caves like wolves, bears and what not.
If either habitat doesn't provide all the nutrition they need, there's three other sources they can explore: water (underground lakes, forest streams, etc), economy with other kobolds and the most fun: raiding. Why spend resources farming some underground garden and rigging it all up when, come harvest time, you can just send a few commando teams out to the farmstead nearby to take everything you need?
Ugh, saw this too late. Still, let me dig around and just go buy it, then send a review anyway. A couple gamers came to my table a week ago and had never heard of Raging Swan, so I showed them Wilderness Dressing, made a few random rolls, and whipped off a quick adventure for them. They liked the book and admired it after we were done; I lent it out but then directed them to the site for more gear. The shadow grows...
Wait, what was that whole middle part? About me doing something brilliant?
Ok, sorry. I still maintain that, depending on how you choose to interpret the fluff around kobolds there may be an opportunity for economy between kobold tribes. If each tribe is about 200 combatants and then equal that in non-combatants you've got the equivalent of roughly a Small Town in PF standards.
Say you have 10 square miles of densely forested hills. Mining below these hills is an industrious tribe of kobolds. They live out of their mines, have a complex of warrens and dens for egg laying and such, and then also have a shrine to their draconic god.
Living in the forest is a second tribe of kobolds. They are adapted for forest life, losing the proficency in mining and replacing it with stealth and survival. They are adept snipers and trappers utilizing ropes in nearly all of their defenses. They make their homes through the whole of the forest, concealing small dens and shrines in the boles of trees, in bough-borne nests and in camoflagued caves.
Yet a third tribe lives in watery caves half submerged in fetid bogs. Along one edge of the woods is a waterlogged vale amid the trees. Due to poor drainage over millenia streams and rivulets have flooded here but never properly run off creating peat bogs and mounds as well as sodden ground for miles. Here the kobolds have mastered not their environment but the beasts therein, replacing their natural mining instincts with dominance over rats, lizards and other bog-dwellers.
Every new moon the three tribes meet. The Nachtmoot Market is held in earthen caves beneath the roots of an ancient oak so great and gnarled that it is larger than most wizards' towers. Here kobold merchants from all three tribes exchange gold and information, attempt to settle petty feuds and plot schemes of revenge against the encroaching pestilence that is mortalkind. Each Nachtmoot begins with the presentation of tithes to the Verdant Queen, an old Green Dragon who makes her lair beneath the tree's roots. Based on the splendor of the tithe she selects a group of kobolds from a particular tribe for the honor of guarding the queen.
While this tithe takes much of the merchant wealth brought to the Nachtmoot, the remainder of the night is spent bartering and haggling with the leftover scraps. Mundane equipment siezed in raids, ore and gems brought up out of the earth, masterworks in leather such as armor and books. The merchants quibble and hawk from their carts while buyers stroll the Nachtmoot with baskets and sacks. Warriors get their armor and weapons replaced or place orders for the next Moot; arcane and divine casters trade spells and tales; the vain and wealthy adorn their tails with beaded bangles to preen for one another.
The Nachtmoot concludes with a ritualized feast. Each of the tribes brings foods and brewed concoctions from their respective regions. Depending on placement at the table, order of toasts and other seemingly innocuous details feuds are either begun or ended. Once the eating finally begins there is an expectation that descision makers for the tribes will resolve business that affects all of the kobolds. Finally the Nachtmoot Market ends with the Oath of Dragonkind during which all three tribes reaffirm not only their love for their queen but their commitment to draconic ideals and their quest for true dragonhood.
Just before dawn while the sky is still gray the kobolds shuffle out, back to their respective quadrant of the wilds. So far no mortal has witnessed a Nachtmoot and survived, though this has more to do with the fact that they are held on the doorstep of the Verdant Queen's lair than the kobold assemblies. Still these gatherings have been reported by captured kobolds under duress and have been sought for an age by mortal adventurers.
So let sound the dragon roarers, let the Market Guard perform the Disarming of the Traps, let the Grand Marshals open the Nachtmoot Market once more!
In regards to kobolds: unless they trade out their racial traits, they get a +2 to Profession: mining and its a class skill. The standard go-to for a kobold if they're not dying at the hands of evil adventurers is to mine and build traps.
So... mining. Why? What are they digging for, fun? No, generally resources. So if it's not metal, what resources would you mine for?
Stone: I suppose, to build stuff with a la Minecraft
Gems: this would imply they give it to each other, possibly masters, with the gems holding an economic value.
Within all the fluff in the Bestiary ecology I can't find anything that indicates they intended to be xenophobes. In the writeup for them as a race it suggests that there's ongoing relations among different communities of kobolds. Also they willingly knuckle under for monstrous or draconic overlords and will find ways to placate nearby monsters in order to use them as a portion of their defenses.
In short: there's a strong suggestion of economy.
Now all of this is subjective, not RAW. You can do this however you want in your games. In mine I've taken all of this and added it up to mean that a few kobold tribes have been around in one form or another, on the edge of mortal society, for at least 600 years, maybe longer. Some tribes have risen and fallen into nothing while other new ones have been born. One though that's survived since antiquity though is the Rootrenders.
So these Rootrenders have been around 600 years. They've lived most of that within 10 miles of human settlements. Back 600 years ago the humans were going through a little renaissance and upgrading their tech; remarkably at the same time the Rootrenders raided and captured some of their own and tinkered with it. They also mined beneath moors and bogs; those that survived these foolish endeavors finally hit bedrock and strong deposits of ore.
And they worked for a dragon at the time. A dragon that, 600 years ago, dominated a vast shoreline of lake, swamps, and moors.
The Rootrenders, like other kobold tribes of the time collaborated with other kobolds from time to time but often put themselves on a pedestal since they had a dragon overlord. Some feuds arose and the Rootrenders got good at protecting themselves. They quelled uprisings with bribes, traps, and by constantly working on their tech. Acutely aware of their shortcomings the Rootrenders found as many ways as possible to either better themselves or work around these weaknesses.
They developed bizarre religious practices involving damming streams, making pools, and then using alchemy and other means to foul the waters. When they did exceptionally well their black dragon master would "Bless" the pool by stagnating it, imparting a bit of his own power. These became sacred shrines where the dragon was worshipped. Since the dragon wanted to expand the moors and bogs he blessed pools often and in order to ensure he could continue the kobolds would sap and fell trees, burning out the stumps to fill the holes with more water... hence the name of the tribe, the Rootrenders.
So for a brief time hundreds of years ago these kobolds were tops. Then a blasted hero of a human came along and lured out their overlord. The dragon was drawn to fight at a hillside, a hillside covered with trees. He was slain then and the Rootrenders were devastated.
They didn't just go away.
The Rootrenders disappeared for a time, nursing their shame and hate. Their divine casters continued the prayers and rituals, continued visiting the shrines. Some splintered off and made smaller, newer tribes that rose and faded.
Then the divine casters saw that their powers returned. You see the dragon had been very... potent with other beings in the region and created several half-spawn, tatzlwyrms, lesser dragons, and even its own arcane bloodline. Enough of its power continued to survive that it acted as a conduit to the Divine. While the actual dragon was dead and gone, its power remained.
And so the Rootrenders endured. Over the centuries they have splintered and rebuilt several times. They have moved to new caverns, torn down new woodlands and delved into all manner of other pursuits. Every so often an oracle or mad witch comes along claiming there is a way to restore their dead god but these crusades have ended badly so the Rootrenders have become wary of such schemes.
During all of this nearby human society has gone through many changes of their own. The Rootrenders, from occasional raids and with more time to devote to developing themselves have kept up with the times. There have been magi kobolds, they've created slurks, some of the Rootrenders have even learned to express their own draconic power and become demagogues. In all of this, their tech has gotten better.
Modern Rootrenders have established trade with other kobolds once more. They craft in steel and know the mysteries of alchemy, crossbows and arcane magic. While the standard Rootrender is a CR 1/4 warrior 1 they have access to more than slings and sharpened sticks. Instead Rootrender warriors favor shortbows and crossbows, picks and axes as well both as weapons and tools to destroy the hated trees.
They have even developed their own unique weapon: The Rootrender Shovel. It is a 2 handed reach weapon that they can shorten up on and use 1 handed. It essentially looks like a combo of an axe and a shovel, created from their dual need to fell trees and dig out their roots so that they can fill a pit with water in order to worship.
That is the Rootrenders in a nutshell.
Second session: much better. I think the players are getting to know me as a GM and I'm certainly getting a better handle on them as players. They're all experienced gamers, but not with me as the GM.
Example: last night they had 2 choices to proceed - up an earthen ramp that they could see was covered by arrow slits or squeezing through a Small sized cave. The ramp was steep, roughly a 60 degree grade, requiring a DC 5 Climb check and slowing their speed while they knew that there were at least 2 elite kobolds in those tunnels.
Normally as a GM I would've used descriptive words to explain the hazards. Last night I simply told the players: DC 5 Climb checks and slowed movement or follow the kobolds you know are there into their Small sized tunnels. I think it was fairly liberating for the players who immediately began a healthy and productive debate. Lesson 1 goes to me: be specific, not descriptive in a 3 hr session.
Lesson 2 went to the players: the environment isn't just decoration. I'd put the kobolds behind a bunch of Small sized boulders; still very heavy but movable with great strength or a big lever. In the party is a half-orc barbarian with 20 Str. Her player just sat there while the others debated and she just seemed sort of nonessential so I reminded her that the boulders weren't fixed in place. At this point the biggest debate was how to stop the kobolds from just coming back out of the tunnel and attacking from the bottom of the ramp as well as through the arrow slits. Finally I got fed up and turned to the barbarian's player.
Me: what's your character's Str?
Player: umm... 20. Why?
Me: the boulders are movable
Player: ok, so...
Me: So you can pick up and move the boulders by virtue of your incredible strength, stacking them in front of the cave opening.
What followed was an a-ha look of glee followed by a bit of roleplaying the moving of the rocks.
I am an old-skool GM. I fully intend for my gameworld to be interactive, right down to the rocks. I try to challenge my players to use every resource at their disposal to win through situations. After the specific info and the boulders thing, they really started kicking it into high gear.
They opted for the ramp. They'd captured a kobold scroll of Obscuring Mist so the plan was to stand just inside the ramp and cover nearly all of it in the mist. This would give them concealment as they moved up. For added effect one guy noted that on his equipment he'd brought extra clothes and a writing kit with glow-in-the-dark inks. In a show of humor and roleplaying the players drew a creepy face on a shirt and used Prestidigitation to slowly float the shirt up in front of the first murder hole.
Thus the "GHOOOOOSSSTTTTT SHIRRRRRTTTTT" was born.
The rest of the session was just a fun romp. The PCs made it up the ramp despite the kobolds getting clever and tossing several flasks of alchemical grease to make it DC 10 Climb and even with some luck catching one of the PCs with an arrow in the mist. Along the way the party found slithering tracks in the dirt, rolled very well and identified it as a tatzlwyrm. One knowledge check later and, following the "Precise" info giving lesson I basically just read out of the monster's ecology and stat block.
Now they're hitting a groove. They get up the ramp, look around, no dragon so they tie off a rope to drop down the ramp for the rest of the team. As soon as one PC has his back turned, the tatzlwyrm comes out of hiding to strike. The PC's wolf AC and the barbarian PC make their Perception checks and act in the surprise, so as the tatzlwyrm makes a partial charge and jumps the rope-tying PC his wolf gets a bite in, dealing a little damage. The dragon then drops the PC from full to negatives (love my charge/bite/pounce/rake attack routine!) and begins to coil around the body as if to carry it away to feast. The barbarian steps up and attacks, missing barely.
Now there's some drama. Kobolds are coming out somewhere else up top in the regular round and getting ready to set up another sniping zone. The PCs are still struggling up the greased ramp and the wolf and barbarian are facing down a CR 2 dragon!
What followed was a nice 2 sided combat. The PCs made their climb checks thanks to the rope but were only able to get into position for fighting the dragon. Then the wizard PC remembers: I have color spray! He dives out, into the open, about 5' from the first kobold sniper. The kobolds hadn't gotten to the Cover yet to actually hide so he's able to see them, so he pops off the color spray, takes out three of the 6 as they're moving into position, and finally the kobolds return fire hitting the wizard once.
The group fighting the tatzlwyrm was not doing well with no hits but thankfully they had it surrounded and it missed with a bite. Then the barbarian risks an AoO that ended up not hitting either to deliver a crippling blow! The dragon went from barely wounded to Staggered at exactly zero HP in one shot!
So in the end the remaining kobolds fled, the PCs coup de gras'ed the foes around them and then they looted the dragon's den. They finished the session by using loose stone and rubble to block off all the kobold exits they could find and fleeing through the last of the mist to camp for the night 4 miles from the dungeon.
Now through email they will relate taking the loot back to town, selling what they can and re-supplying. Then they will plan their next foray into the dungeon. Of course the kobolds won't be so easily taken out next time. The PCs though still have their secret weapon:
"GHOOOOOSSSTTTTT SHIRRRRRTTTTT!!!!!!!!" (TM)
If you make a high-dex rogue and want to get SAs, flank. Right from level 1 you have a built in way to get this going. "But Mark, forsooth! What about enemy attacks, AoOs, etc?" You can walk in the door with a Small sized rogue, 18 Dex and some studded leather on and rock an 18 AC. Just eat the AoO chance. If you have some speed on your PC and can afford to move at 1/2 move, use Acrobatics.
As you level, try do evolve 1 or 2 other ways to pull this off such as feats, summoned monsters, sniping, etc. But never forget when the chips are down that as long as you can find the flanking square and have the Move to get there you've got no excuse to move and murder.
At high level, when everything's immune to SA, try to find a wizard and get him to make you his familiar. Sure you have to wear an imp costume all the time and make silly hand gestures, but it sure beats being destroyed in melee.
It never ceases to amaze me. Why is it that every player expects their first level 1 adventure to be nothing more provocative than 4 goblins ambushing a caravan? In my experience it doesn't matter if they're seasoned players or not. Its like we GMs are expected to provide a refresher course in the absolute basics of straight up combat and nothing else for the first adventure.
Recently I had a new campaign start. I warned of dragons, gave dragon details in the backstory, and even worked a dragon attack into one guy's backstory with his permission. I also let everyone know there'd be kobolds who've existed here for centuries.
First off the PCs meet their new contact in town: Rowana Thrune, a mousy human female wizard on the small size for her race. She invites them in, casual get-to-know-you in the parlor, then she continues into her hall. Said chamber is bedecked to the nines with all manner of food, wine, beer, etc.
Rowana goes as nuts as the barbarian. We chat, crack some jokes but the players seemed to want to gloss over it so I just narrated. Not a one stopped to quetion how a woman, 98 pounds wet and looking to be in her early 40's was able to put away half a honeyed ham, a loin of lamb, and several other foodstuffs washing it down with an entire cask of beer.
So then on to the adventure. They head to the site, find shriekers lining the shore of a murky bog from the middle of which rises a cliff-lined islet. Theres a narrow landing and a steep rise between the cliffs atop which is the ruin they need to explore. Again, they've been warned of kobolds with lots of history in the area.
What follows was a tactical nightmare for the PCs. Sparing you the details the end result was that three kobold warrior 2 snipers are behind some boulders peppering the party with ranged fire while an adept 3 supports/buffs them. 2 guys not built for range attacking from the shrieker shore, one guy dies getting to the islet, and the last 2 PCs finally make it into melee where the kobolds die like kobolds should.
I gave the kobolds the levels, gear and position I did because the party includes 2 animal companions and are good at melee/short range spells. The particular tactics employed by the party left both ACs, a melee guy and the arcane caster all tactically out of the fight on the shrieker shore.
Later it's revealed to me that the expectation was that, for the opening salvo, the party was expecting 4 kobold warrior 1 on the islet (that's 60' away mind you) pelting the PCs with sling bullets. So 5 PCs, 2 animal companions, and one of the PCs is a druid focused on summoning natures' allies, and I'm supposed to drop in 4 5 HP mooks that can't hit the broad side of a barn from this range? Oh, and even if they do, they're doing an average of... ONE point of lethal damage?
Basically 1st level, 1st adventure, players don't want to think, use skills or do anything overly hard. They want the combat intro, they want to explode into violence and see what their party is made of in a softball encounter so they can gauge how well their powers work together.
Running away; pretty much what started what has come to be known as the "murder train" at my gaming table. Room 1 a pair of mites on giant centipedes as guards. PCs gain initiative, use a light-based Domain power and blind creatures for a round, then charge. One mite survives initial round and flees on its mount. PCs give chase, murdering the creature as it withdraws into the adjoining hall.
2 more "relief guards" make Perception, hear the combat and come to investigate. Same blindness mixed with a color spray, and several rolls later one centipede is confused and both mites are dead. As they moved down the hall towards the secondary guard chamber they disturbed a pair of giant spiders in a side chamber. The PCs noticed them, charged and the spiders were toast.
During all of this one mite sniped from the fourth room down the hall dealing some damage. When the PCs turned it used Doom to no effect, they charged and murdered it finding a mite on the ceiling riding the last giant spider. Said mite tried to flee and was injured as it's mount was killed from ranged attacks and then finally the mite was cloven in twain. At this point the confused centipede staggers drukenly along the wall, earning it the nickname Wavy Gravy and it is summarily executed by the rest of the PCs.
16 Rounds. 1 minute, 36 seconds.
Even taking a 20 to clean up and search they were in and out of these rooms in 25 minutes tops. What do PCs do with the rest of their days? *panting* "Man, that was a good warm-up cardio run. Now that the monsters are gone, you guys want to do upper body or lower body?" Rest of the party glares at the fighter.
Rogue: whatever meathead, I'll be over here stretching
Cleric: Tis a high-holy Leg Day, so sayeth the scripture...
Wizard: umm... I'll just be reading with my cat. Let me know when we need to work again...
Alignment isn't really a factor in basic familiar selection. I think the basic ones keep their base alignment, usually neutral. If you get an Improved Familiar later on you'll have to pick one within one step from you on each alignment axis. If you're going to be a paladin too, picking one that is not evil is paramount.
The bigger question is what do you want to use the familiar for? If you're going paladin you'll want one that can stand the rigors of combat; perhaps a basic familiar with the Mauler archetype; perhaps at higher level an Improved Familiar with regeneration.
If however you're looking for a scout to keep an eye out for danger then hide when battle begins look at the Tiny sized flying familiars. They have great stealth and can fit inside basically any environment. They won't do much good in a fight but they could deliver the touch of a healing spell as you gain paladin levels much later.
So, what do you want the familiar to do?
This thread is exactly why when I make a wizard, at first level I use my Scribe Scrolls feat with starting gold to make a couple 0 level scrolls: Prestidigitation and Mending. I also add Mending to my list of go to cantrips. Finally I put a rank into Craft: Books, usually giving me between a +7 to a +9 in the skill.
If my GM then commits to a waterlogging, firing, acid bath or other destructive action on my spellbook I'm prepared from go. I also make a point to tell GMs that, at night or first thing in the AM my PC maintains his book the same way the martial PCs take care of their armor and weapons.
If the GM calls for detail I'll first start with the mundane. Using my skill in crafting books I clean and wax the outer surface, then fix any fading ink inside. If there's any wear I use Mending to tighten bindings, remove tears, etc. If I happen to also have Prestidigitation studied I'll use that to really clean every square inch of the thing.
As the game goes on I make copies, get wands of the 2 cantrips and, once I can make Wondrous Items or buy them I try to re-create a custom item I had years ago: a Satchel of the Spellbook. Essentially it casts a constant Mending and Prestidigitation on any one book kept inside it for 1 hour. It isn't an extradimensional space but its locked with an Arcane Lock and outfitted with a permanent Resist Elements. The bag isn't indestructible or protected against theft (though I usually cast Alarm on it and should probably permanize that on the device) but it's a decent container at the Mid levels for keeping the primary spellbook safe.
Frankly with my spellbook-using PCs I usually let them get away with using these 2 cantrips and their own natural skills to maintain the tome. I also expect that, in the cases where they know ahead of time they might encounter humidity or moisture they're using proper stowage techniques. In case of unexpected calamity there's a reasonable expectation in my games that the spellbook can be recovered through the application of these 2 cantrips, though they might need to either 1. have them prepared, 2. have them on a scroll, 3. have them stored in their familiar, 4. recall at least 1 from their bonded object, 5. get another PC to cast them, 6. hire an NPC to do the work.
Finally, if all else fails, I would rule that the wizard can find the grooves left in the paper (after drying it out) to restore the spells, so long as they pay the proper cost in GP for scribing a spell in their spellbook. They can use Craft: Books, Craft: Caligraphy, Profession: Scribe, Profession: Librarian (kind of a stretch) or if all else fails, a combination of Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft.
If the fighter gets knocked into some water, has to make swim checks and ends up treading water for 3 rounds, only to be dragged out onto the sodden banks of a river in a rainstorm, are his armor, shield, or weapons damaged? Maybe there's some rust issues, or a broken strap from the strain of the current, or the wooden bits get warped? No; their tools are fine but if the ogre targets those with a Sunder, that's epic.
In my games its the same with a spellbook.
Consider: a PC trained with 1 rank in survival knows how to pull together a survival shelter with a few hours work. Four PCs, 3 granting Aid Another to the one guy with the skill, can work for a day to make a decent shelter that'll last a few days in the wilds. If at first level your first adventure brings you up against, say, some goblins in some caves, you have an awesome base for the rest of the campaign.
First you surround the mouth of the cave with a survival shelter. You rest up here for a few days and go through the caves, assessing all those concerns like clean water, dirt and grime, etc. Your arcane caster is spamming Prestidigitation like crazy while your other PCs are using mundane means to sanitize the place (soap and water, smoke, fire, etc).
Now you head back to town, using some of that phat lewt to hire some workers. Said workers build you a couple walls, install a door; you're living very minimalist right now. It takes a couple weeks during which time you're hunting more goblins in the surrounding wilds, defeating low-level evils, and trying to hide from the hill giant and wyvern living at the edge of the hex. During this time you level and a couple PCs sacrifice a couple skill ranks to Profession: Miner and Profession: Engineer.
Now you use your new mad skillz and lewt to really go to town on your lair. You build in some retaining walls and ditches; you vent the inner caves and you seal off the deeper fissures from the livable space. You leave yourself some access to the lower halls for future adventure and expansion. Using Survival you build wood skeins and coat them with mud and clay. Quarrying stone from inside you build up around the circular wattle and daub walls, creating a round tower. This is now your gatehouse for accessing the cave level.
Of course during all this the goblins return, bringing their bugbear brutes with them. A siege occurs but you survive, tracking them back to their new lair and defeating a vicious cult with ties to the town. You're heroes! You've saved people in town, rooted out a major evil and really cleared this hex, making it safe for the first time in years.
You've also grabbed more lewts.
Now at third level you're installing lighting. Your arcane caster starts making Wondrous Items and installs some 1/day create water devices that ensure clean drinking water. The PCs explore those lower halls and find some really twisted fey and vermin. Weeks of hit and run adventures follows during which most of the construction stops and the PCs and their henchmen are nearly destroyed. In the end they emerge victorious once more and their legend, treasury and lair grows.
You've found a modest mineral and gem mine. You won't get uber rich off it but it'll keep a steady income coming in. Some of your henchmen decide to take up permanent residence in the shadow of the tower. They are granted access to the mines by a new tunnel you construct. Now that you're 5th level and you've well explored the hex you leave your burgeoning settlement in order to finally deal with that wyvern that's terrorized the border for months.
A protracted adventure ensues wherin one of the PCs dies and is raised in town. You don't return with TONS of treasure but you keep some in reserve. You've discovered that the hill giant and wyvern were merely pawns as were the goblins. An ancient evil is rising in the nearby mountains and you'll need to be ready. Thankfully, you've got a tower.
You return home and find the mine is well under way. Now at 7th level you pickup Leadership and your cohorts kick things into high gear. Stone quarried in the lower halls is used to shore them up and also to begin building out around the tower. Working with the town for mutual defense you establish a full castle, enclosing your minions' homes and buildings inside a wall. Farms and gardens are established; hunting grounds in the wilds are now well known; through trade with the town raw gemstones and minerals are traded for livestock, tools and other essentials.
Congratulations; you have a village.
Isn't this what EVERY player plans out from first level?
Experiment 626 wrote:
There is an alternate trait that gives a kobold a bite attack. A Warrior level 5 is a CR 2 threat, possibly with Said bite attack. Getting an adept to cast Bull's Str on him before he goes into the fight gives you a kobold attacking in melee with a +7 Bite (1d4+3 +1 Acid) that carries a DC 16 Fort or Nauseated for 2 rounds. That is brutal considering just off to the side are a couple warrior 1 kobolds with shortbows waiting to light up the guy hurling on himself for 1d4/shot.
To all GMs everywhere: nothing in the Bestiary states that kobolds HAVE to have stone age tech. One of my players was frustrated that the kobolds in my game were using crossbows. "They should be using slings" he suggested. That gave me a moment's pause; why would a monster that takes SUCH a hit to their strength use a sling as their ranged weapon?
A kobold warrior 1 is trained to use ALL martial weapons. If you look at the budget for NPCs for basic level 1 NPCs they have 50 GP to budget on weapons. A kobold warrior 1 could be using a shortbow; Free action to load, decent range, 1d4 damage and not dependent on Str at all.
What's the typical image of a kobold? A sneaky little ambush predator that uses traps and alchemical hinderances like sneezing powder to annoy and confound intruders. So, if they can presumably manufacture and utilize these devices, are trained in all simple and martial weapons and can wear armor, why then are they so under-equipped?
I submit to you, GMs of this game, that kobolds do not HAVE to wield stone-tipped spears, slings and javelins. Look instead to acid flasks, bows and crossbows, and if they have to be in melee finesse weapons. Take for example the humble sickle.
A kobold built to trip (not ideal but whatever) could have Agile Maneuvers, Combat Expertise, Improved Trip and Weapon Finesse. This to me looks like a Fighter (Lore Warden) 2. At that level with a simple sickle our little buddy can dart out of hiding (Move 30'), hook an adventurer's leg with a mwk sickle +7 CMB (Trip maneuver) to put that adventurer on his back. We've also outfitted the little guy with a buckler and masterwork studded leather so, combined with a +3 Dex, +1 Natural Armor and +1 Size bonus the kobold is rocking an AC of 19 against any reprisals from melee or ranged attacks by the party.
Now no amount of equipment save magic is going to do much against the party's save-or-suck spells or touch attacks. This kobold however, with reasonable access to some kind of tribal arcane spellcaster, might have spent 25-50 of his AC budget on potions. A potion of Resistance gives him +1 on all saves for the fight; a potion of Mage Armor gives him defense against touch attacks.
Even if you don't use NPC wealth and just look at the treasure for an encounter, 4 kobold warrior 1 is equal to a CR 1 fight. This means these creatures have 260 GP to spend. Giving each one a shortbow, buckler and some acid flasks along with a potion of Resistance means suddenly they're adding anywhere from +1 to +4 to their ranged damage in a round, their AC goes up a tad in melee and they don't automatically fold like cheap suit against spells.
There are a lot of ways to make even kobolds viable. Its time to bring them up, out of the stone age and into the world that the PCs live in.
Last night I saw the virtue of both sides. Firstly defense: 3 kobold warrior 2's built as snipers with crossbows. They were hiding in Cover with an adept 3 behind them providing them with Bless and Guidance spells. They would pop up, attack, then disappear behind the rocks.
Because they kept denying the PCs their Dex bonus and since that's like the primary source of the PCs AC this defensive strategy aided their offense. They didn't do much damage but they hit often, even from 80' firing at the PCs who were themselves under cover in the woods.
However when the PCs finally got there a barbarian finally got to hack at them in melee. Despite having 2 levels of warrior these hapless kobolds were like sheets of paper compared to a raging barbarian half-orc built for offense. Seriously, she hit the adept so hard as he was running away the spellcaster just disintegrated leaving behind his loot and a blood-mist outline on a boulder.
Maybe there IS a balance after all...
It really depends on the campaign. If there's a doom clock on the game then You can't really stop to build patio furniture for the lair. On the other hand if you are looking at making frequent trips into a sprawling megadungeon its almost essential that you conquer and secure living quarters somewhere within striking distance.
Frankly the few times I've gotten the chance to play this is ALWAYS one of my character goals. The last guy I played was a gestalt Halfling ranger/cavalier named Bucky. He was a trapper and hunter by trade who just happened to be really good with a sling and a lance while riding his wolf, Blitzer. Anyway, he wanted a locale, part hunting lodge, part tavern for adventurers and travelers passing through this wilderness to have a safe haven.
Bucky's first adventure out involved taking out a few kobolds raiding and living in the cavernous "cellar" of an old ruin. As soon as he was done with the battle he started sizing up the place. Had the campaign continued I'd have asked to fix it up. It was right on a major river, had a couple solid walls both above and below ground and Bucky had, among other skills, Profession: Woodcutter. I figured I could use that to build a kind of survival shelter to enclose the "cellar" level, then as the game went on slowly build up the site.
Sure, some noble might've come to claim it but that's why I took Diplomacy, high charisma, the Trustworthy trait etc. People LOVE Bucky and Blitzer; why would you want to keep him from his dream?
I think I'm in the camp of saying that priest is a vocation, a profession, not necessarily tied to any one PC/NPC class. I could see a forest expert and hunter being a priest of Erastil. He has no magic but cares deeply for his community and the wilds in the surrounding hinterlands. Folks come by to gather advice, he occasionally sermonizes on topics like conservation and land management and each year he asks Old Deadeye's blessing on the harvest.
He is, however, just an expert hunter who knows a lot about the faith and wants to fulfill its tenets. He may ALSO work with an adept that is the village "witch"; she grows herbs and makes healing draughts but she's cookoo for coacoa puffs so she only works with the priest. He in turn sells this "healing" and uses the herbs/alchemical healing boosters in his own mundane skills.
I will concede though that higher level representatives of the faith would be spellcasters, at least in my game. Having an Aristocrat 6/Expert 8 as the leader of a grand bank of Abadar in a major city seems underwhelming. Sure she can count money REALLY well, knows all the trade laws by heart and is a staunch adherent to the faith, but she can't cast a simple alarm spell!
Or can't she?
Egyptian priests used to "fake it" with magic all the time. They had pneumatic doors, statues that seemed to breathe fire, and other "miraculous" tech. Why can't the parish priest have that?
Go back to that priest of Erastil I was talking about. Maybe in working with the local witch she's taught him how to use a couple wands. Now as an Expert 4 he's got a UMD of +10 and from either the witch or traveling adventurers he's spent his WBL on a small assortment of wands and potions. On rare occasions he attempts to use a 0 or 1st level scroll. Using these sparingly he can deliver healing, deal with diseases and help identify magic items brought back to the village from the dungeon nearby.
If you don't like wands you can give him some cheap, low-level wondrous items. Heck, if he's level 7 you could even have him MAKING magic items.
TL/DR; my point is I think a "priest" can be anyone you want them to be.
Issac Daneil wrote:
Kobold sorcerer (crossblooded; draconic and orc bloodlines) 1 with an acid flask, lots of brimstone, Arcane Strike and Reduce Person:
Before combat - they cast Reduce Person on themselves and hide in a cupboard, under the furniture, etc.
During combat - the spam Acid Splash every round at the PCs, potentially sniping and attacking PCs with ranged touch attacks that also deny them their Dex bonus. He should always have at least partial cover and, when he hits he's dealing an average of 1d3+5 damage.
That's a simple CR 1/2 threat to drop into any kobold encounter.
Here's my thing about this whole "the hoard is from what they ate" statement: a newly born, just hatched white dragon, arguably one of the weakest of the chromatics (could still kill me so who am I to judge) is a CR 2 monster with triple the normal treasure for such a creature. They are literally born into wealth.
Add in the fact that these creatures must then eat to survive and do so in one of the most inhospitable climates to humanoids known. Their environment is listed as "cold mountains." So, when they hatched did their parent lure in a party of APL 2 PCs with all of their WBL? And even if they did, how then did said dragon fly under the radar to survive all the way to a Young dragon, some 16-25 years, consuming rich dwarf after rich dwarf and somehow not getting slaughtered by said humanoids with the wealth to murder it all that time.
FYI by the time it has aged 16 years it has to have eaten enough victims to have amassed roughly 6000 GP worth of treasure. In cold mountains. Alone. That seems... unlikely.
If playing a Str-based barbarian, if all else fails always remember 2 simple words: Hulk Smash. These have gotten a particularly popular character through about 50 years of comics.
Party face: so, will you let us pass?
Ogre just laughs
Barbarian: Sunder attack as a full-round action on nearby large tree; said tree is cloven in twain
Ogre stops laughing
Party face: thanks, we won't be long...
I don't know whatever happened with this but here was a situation that came up in my game a little while ago. I had the following party:
LG m hum paladin 2
The scene was that the PCs came upon a bunch of CN fey who'd made it their mission to protect a particular stand of trees which in turn was the easiest way to the dungeon. Of course the magus and cleric basically said burn it down but the ranger and paladin decide to diplomacize since the paladin had been very productive with talking to fey earlier in the game.
The magus also has diplomacy so he joins in. Now I've got the three players chatting and every time I came to the cleric he's just like "I have a low Cha and no ranks in Diplomacy; what am I SUPPOSED to do?" I was handling it like a combat and taking turns, so my next time through when I got to the cleric's player I asked "Do you have knowledge: religion?"
He answered yes so I explained that there was a shrine to Desna amid this stand. He perked up and asked "will the fey let us go to the shrine, pay our respects and then just go on?" I asked him to roll Knowledge: Religion to EXPLAIN the need to the fey. He cast Guidance on himself and then made the roll, using a bit of conversation as a Free action; his total roll came out to exactly 25 which was the DC they had to hit on the Diplomacy.
I asked the player HOW he was saying it. He gave a short speech but then also described how he drew the symbol in the dirt and explained the consequence to the party if they did not observe the proper homage to the shrine. I was really impressed not just with the roll but the fact that this guy was so descriptive after being so glum.
The fey relented. The paladin made another Diplomacy check along the same theme of visiting the shrine and even got one of the pixies to lead them to it. Once there they convinced the pixies to keep an eye out for kobolds; the PCs then made camp just beyond the trees with the vigilant pixies watching over them. The cleric, completing the whole thing, gave the pixies each a Desnan blessing using Knowledge: Religion and proclaimed them the keepers of the shrine. In the game world this is now a thing; if you visit this particular shrine to Desna these "butterfly men" reveal themselves and make you swear an oath of protection to the woods.
Heh. I've been playing these games for 35 years now and despite being a fuddy duddy I have to agree w/Ryn. With all due respect, and I mean RESPECT to the versions that came before and the kinds of players they engendered, I had more negative experiences back in the day than I have now.
Again, YMMV and everyone's game is different. I run PF though and occasionally 1980's Marvel Super Heroes. These are now the ONLY 2 systems I run.
My players either trust or don't trust me based on their feelings, not on a ruleset. They SHOULD know everything; they are all GMs in their own PF games, but I put some monsters or traps or spells out there and they get their heads handed to them. Why? Because PF has a mechanic for knowing a monster by using a Knowledge check and my players NEVER use it.
Players are gonna play. GMs are gonna run. It has been this way forever. When I was a kid I had to kick a guy out of the game for a session because he was flipping through the MM right there under the table. The minute any of my friends took a turn being DM they borrowed the DMG and suddenly they were all rules lawyers yelling at me for doing it wrong. We didn't use maps or minis so we fought a lot over placement and distance.
Now everyone knows everything. There IS a mechanic for everything. These are unfortunate in that I see everyone's point that the games HAVE become more mechanical. However since everyone already knows everything I find LESS shenanigans at the table instead of more. Games are more streamlined. Sure there are now shameless optimizers who break immersion for another +2 but for the most part my players show up to play a game and not to catch me in some terrible ruling or whatever.
Bottom line there will ALWAYS be those players that feel like their game is out to get them. It happened in 1e; it happens in PF; i suspect my friend running 5e has one of these folks. It is human nature to fear relinquishing control to an outside force such as dice or a GM. Let us be human together and game on.
Ok honestly I guess I agree with Scyth-lord there. I really respect GMs that are like "Oh, you're doing that..." or "you're going there..." and then they roll with it and make something up.
It doesn't even have to be all that great, but just the fact that you're willing to let players get away with stuff is awesome. I had one GM for a 4e game set up a scene where 2 groups living in the sewers converge on the PCs and a battle royale was supposed to take place. I'd done tons of research ahead of time and when the first group arrived I talked them into a temporary truce and negated the entire scene. My GM just kinda shrugged and went "damn, that's some nice roleplaying!" and ended the scene.
Another GM I had in contrast had us finish with what he'd planned early in a game session. I grabbed the map and literally said "what if we DON'T take the road back?" He looked at me as if I'd grown a 2nd head. I gave him a whole suggestion: supposedly there were hunting lodges and villages dotting this lakeshore so what if we cut through the wilds, went through these settlements along the lake instead of the long way back on the road, and maybe we learn a lot of local legends we investigate. This GM ended the game early rather than wing it and then ended the campaign altogether.
I think a great DM is the guy that rolls with what the players do.
When I make up a settlement I try to randomize as much as possible. I roll up each element; D12 for qualities, 1d5 (a D10 but 1-2 =1, 3-4 = 2, etc) for government type, etc. When it comes time for magic items I randomly roll these too.
The downside is the really bizarre combos. I had a village with a quality that gave it a 3000 GP limit. I then rolled up a random magic item: +2 longsword. WTF? So I just made it a +1 sword.
Then the thought occurred to me: who would need to SELL such an item? I suppose I could have a sword dealer in a remote town but it just didn't appeal to me. Then I thought: what if "sell" is just another word for "trade?"
Think about it: there are MANY adventures that start off with "the PCs will be paid X for going and doing the quest..." so why not use some of these magic items as the promised payment.
Suddenly my whole outlook on all of this changed. Sure consumables might still be sold out of some little shop or off of a cart, but stuff like swords, armor, wondrous items and other permanent "big" items for PCs could be plot hooks.
With the village/sword combo I knew that the area was going to be threatened by the fey so I put the sword in the hands of a commoner. He'll "pay" the party with the +1 longsword if they help rid the apple orchard of a group of mites whose vermin are blighting the trees.
As mentioned in this thread, everyone messes up. However I'm seeing stuff I do all the time as GM coming up in this thread and my players are not only not saying anything but telling me in feedback that they're having fun. I'm paranoid that they're not being honest with me.
Then it hit me: I don't think I'm having much fun.
I wonder how many of these behaviors stem not from the GM being bad or something but actually from the GM just getting burnt out? The Restarter or Actor immediately jump to mind. I used to be the Actor every game but only gave it up after I finally got to be a player. I restart all the time but I fully admit I have a terrible attention span if the game sessions aren't consistent.
Recently I got invited to run a game that meets every week but only for 3hr sessions. I freaked out and was really nervous about it, but also very excited. The short sessions and the types of players are a total departure from the type of game I have going with another group.
Our first session we only just rolled up characters but here's what I realized: I'm jonesing to run this game for the first time in a long time.
Since we've got such little time to play the players HAVE to get into it right away. From the stories I've heard of their previous games they are all good players mechanically; they understand what their characters do and all of them work to drive scenes and stories forward. Since the game sessions are so short but only a week apart keeping up with the plot never seems to be a problem for them.
I WANT to run this game. I think that goes a LONG way towards being a good GM versus a bad one. I'm trying everything I can not to hose up this new game. Everyone makes mistakes, but I want to stop making them more than once.
Lots of great advice here! I really like what JJ is saying about development. Another way to get into character though is to look at their traits if that's a part of your game.
Lots of martials take Reactionary. Look at the fluff of the trait though
You were bullied as a child, but never quite developed an offensive response. Instead, you became adept at anticipating sudden attacks and reacting to danger quickly
So what does that tell you about your character? Is he/she a victim? If so, do they ACT like a victim? Do they look over their shoulder a lot? Are they bothered by loud noises/arguing? If so, maybe they avoid the tavern after an adventure. Maybe part of your "hero's journey" is to learn to stop being afraid all the time.
Think about your Traits, Skills and Feats less as mechanics and more as building blocks of personality. I made a halfling ranger with the traits Ambush Training and Trustworthy, Profession: Trapper among his other skills and the feat Point Blank Shot at 1st level. He was Bucky; a trapper in the town he grew up in and a deputy to his uncle, the sheriff. He learned his own brother had fallen in with criminals and helped track him down, earning him the trust of the townsfolk but the enmity of his own family. Bucky though was NG and a worshipper of Erastil and Saranrae, so he tried to get his brother to reform. When the criminals eventually came to overrun the town as part of a border war Bucky freed his brother so they could fight, side by side.
In the end Bucky's own journey was about making up for the sins of his own family. As the campaign started the young ranger was learning that several members of his family had been criminals and that his uncle was an extreme black sheep. Unfortunately the campaign didn't go far but the goal was to redeem his family.
I also jumped on the skill Profession: Trapper. Since we were on a few wilderness missions in rugged hills and forest terrains I started the campaign with some pre-made basket traps and snares and made a point of setting them each night around camp. My GM was like "y'know you need Ranger Traps if you're going to protect the camp with those right?" I just reminded him that I was trapping game for food and maybe to sell the pelts. I managed to catch a particularly rare fox that way and I chatted up the general store manager in character to help get a really fair deal when we got back to town.
Bucky would never introduce himself as a ranger. He'd always say "I'm a trapper by trade, and on occasion I do some hunting, no matter what the quarry is." He was helpful, smiled a lot and never discussed his family with anyone except his party. He was really fun to play but a lot of his personality came from having the traits, skills and feat he had.
How realistic do you want to go with this? It'd take a good minute for the roof to burn enough for it to cave in. That's when I'd have folks start waking up if they haven't been suffocated to death or set on fire already. 'Course if this were the heroes setting a village on fire I'd basically say that their main villain(s) make it outside to do battle having suffered a little while the NPCs are basically just left in the background. After the adventure I'd epilogue about how many bystanders died in choking agony, a moment of horror seared forever into their charred flesh.
Then I'd have the Flame oracle with the burns curse appear and start hunting the party...
Its nice to have fans :)
421. a young girl in black and red garb chases a group of thugs; suddenly she spins, spectral rose pedals in her wake while a red baton springs from a wrist sheath. With clicking and clanking and more than a little magic the baton extends and transforms into a great scythe glowing red with eldritch energy
422. in the midst of a darkened alley you spy a bowl of cream left on a doorstep; the liquid is rippling. 3 tiny, winged forms circle the bowl, each seeming to want to prevent the other from getting any. (Three pixies are arguing over who gets the first drink).
423. A pair of mangy dogs snarl at the PCs while guarding their food; if the PCs look closely (DC 15 Perception or DC 15 Heal check) they note that the "food" is a humanoid's leg, freshly butchered.
424. Coy pond
425. At night a crowd of teens gather in a side lane off a main plaza. They watch in rapt anticipation as one lad nervously mumbles some statement to his compatriots and then extends his hand into the mouth of a draconic bust in relief on the wall. (Knowledge: Local DC 15 reveals that this is a Test of Truth: supposedly the bust is an aspect of Apsu. The ritual goes that a statement is spoken before it and then the hand is placed inside the mouth at which point the truth is judged by the god. If true nothing happens; if false the dragon supposedly roars and marks the offender as a liar for 30 days. The bust holds a mild aura relating to Illusion and Transmutation magic if detected for. This can be identified as a Ghost Sound and Arcane Mark trap though there is no obvious trigger)
I like super heroes. I'm not ashamed of it. I also enjoy the occasional Anime-style piece in a variety of media.
Over the weekend my girls found RWBY on Netflix. We watched the first half of Vol 1 together and I freaking loved it! In the show there's a scene where a bunch of year 1 students are put on their first school challenge: stand on some catapults, get launched into the monster forest, and use what little training you already have to destroy everything you need to in order to find a relic in a temple at the far end.
Remember: the characters are year 1 now.
So they are shot into the forest and each character uses a combo of skills, powers, magic and unique weapons to survive their fall through the canopy. They then fight serious monsters, get their relics, and have an epic fight in order to get back out of the forest.
That's what I want my PF games to be. I want rogues to bounce from tree limb to tree limb; I want martials to be able to wield their weapons in order to slow themselves to a stop through the trees. Maybe this is Mythic but I want the non-caster types to have such amazing skills that they imitate the reality-shattering stuff that spells do.
And deep down I want everyone to do this without magic items. I don't want a PC to have to add a cloak of flying into their build in order to fly just so they can compete with the wizard casting the same spell. By the time the party sorcerer gets Fly I want the party fighter to be able to leap skyward 60' on a Mover and perhaps do a Full Round action to bounce wall to wall with several leaps moving 120'.
Spellcasters become superhuman at high levels. Why not non-casters too?
I'm always looking to become a better GM. I popped into this thread and realized I'm already doing nearly everything your mom is in BSF. The only thing I don't do is work with other GMs.
I've been the defacto GM for decades through several different gaming groups. For some reason each group I've been in has always been composed of folks who just don't want to spare the time to run a game. Most of these other players though have the skill and have done it in the past, so they COULD take on the job, they just choose not to.
I feel like one of the ways I could be a better GM would be to be a player and let the responsibility rotate through the group a bit. Then after a time take on your mom's idea of a GM's meeting. What's working, what isn't and why? Those are good things to get specific feedback on.
I always come back to the same thing when talking about PC deaths: did they really die?
Once a game session someone drops into negative HPs and has the Dying condition. The couple of times someone's actually reached Dead I've offered alternatives. Could be that the PC was devout to some god that offers a save... with a catch; perhaps the character is dragged out of the scene by a villain and awakens on an operating table with a new limb and lack of personal control. There are really very few ways in my game for a PC to really die.
PC death as a consequence is, to me, a really crappy punishment. People say all the time that they'll kill off a character if their player does something stupid. Firstly that's really subjective; what is stupid to the omniscient GM who knows EVERY monster/trap/hazard in the vicinity by stat-block may not seem stupid to the player just trying to get his John McClaine on.
Another reason to let a PC die is to teach the player a lesson. Frank is being a game-hog. You've talked to Frank and he refuses to change. You crank up the CR on the next fight and Frank takes the bait, only to have his bardbarian/vivisectionist completely incinerated. Ha ha, take THAT Frank; now I bet you learned your place am I right? Except... Frank didn't learn anything other than 1. you had to jack with everything to murder his PC, proving he WAS the center of attention and 2. you're kind of a jerk that doesn't acknowledge how good a PC builder he is so he doesn't really want to be around you anyway.
Action heroes weasel out of death all the time. Anyone in this thread from the US? If so, are you fans of the show Supernatural? If so you're a fan of a TV show whose whole premise for seasonal continuance is that one of the 2 main characters routinely comes back from the dead, so much so that they make fun of themselves for it.
Dying in a Pathfinder game is like getting a magic item. For the GM they want it to be an experience, a story element; something really EPIC! For the player it's a Condition that can be removed and is as arbitrary as the +1 to hit and damage that the magic sword adds.
This is why I offer alternatives to my players. Their characters rarely die in my game and so far none of them have taken me up on my offers. This is probably because it's easier to just die and make up a new character than to have me mess with their character in some way. However the next time you as a GM are facing a dead PC scenario, consider the alternatives:
Spontaneous resurrection by a patron with an agenda
Undeath - potentially negative like a skeletal champion or maybe divine like an angelic ghost
Your new boss, the villain, has brought you back to lead those foolish heroes into a final deathtrap
Feel free to concoct your own. These I feel would teach your players so much more of a lesson about roleplaying and add more to your game than if the character was just a corpse to loot.
I have re-watched the finale to season 5 about a dozen times. Every time I think "Man, this show has become some really hackneyed schlock" I just go back and re-watch it again. Frankly I think at this point I'm probably just watching to watch, to see how it all turns out. I assumed from that series 5 finale though that
Carver Edlund was god
so I figured that eventually it would all come back to that point. Then I found out the ending of the first ep this season was a nod to some fan fiction and just kind of shrugged
... and went back to the season 5 finale. I wish they hadn't jumped the leviathan. I wish they hadn't done Bobby that way. I wish Crowley didn't have a mortal fetish. I wish...
I think I'm due for another re-watch. Because the whole thing can be summed up as 2 boys and a car. Everything else, the rest of the world and the universe and bunkers and monsters and demons and all of it, came second. I suppose an argument could be made otherwise, but not for me.
Power Stunts. This was a great idea that came with the old Marvel Super Heroes game in the 1980's. Maybe it's been around longer, but that's where I heard it.
Anyway, one way to make magic items more unique is to flip the paradigm. It's a +2 Longsword but it has a bunch of blood grooves that capture the wind and whistle when the blade attacks. First couple times the fighter swings it, have them make an Intimidate check to Demoralize. Then flat out tell them "the sound might do other things as well."
Let the player play with it. Can it make a sonic boom? I don't know, maybe. How about Ghost Sounds or something? Sure. I guess what I'm saying is if you want the players to want their magic items, work with them to make the items what they want.
Rime Blooded slows, yes but only for a number of rounds equal to the level of the spell. Since it's level 0 they're slowed for 0 rounds.
Hey waitaminute. Slings are counted in the Thrown Weapons category for fighter weapon groups. There's also a feat called Throw Anything that lets you throw improvised weapons. Can you SLING anything?
No I'm not trying to be stupid here. I'm really asking if you can combine the Throw Anything feat chain with a sling so that you could sling, say alchemical splash weapons.
Find out how into it your players are. Not just helping by making NPCs or whatever, but drawing maps, immersion, that kind of thing. I planned out a sandbox campaign, told my players and they were excited. Then we started playing and I got "deer in the headlights" from most. The reason is because they liked the idea of it, but they didn't want to be on the spot for moving the campaign along.
I guess my advice would be have an idea of where you want the campaign to go. One way to do a sandbox is the Western March type where you hand the PCs a hex map and say "go." I did that with mine since I was going to have a rotating mix of players but after the players got fixed and they wanted more plot, suddenly my campaign didn't make sense to anyone.
So the other way to do sandbox is the one I recommend to most folks. Its more like a shotgun start than a sandbox. Here's an example:
1. PCs are in a wilderness town; there's lots of independent farmsteads and tiny settlements out there, but this is the last bit of real "civilization" for miles.
2. The town is attacked by an adult red dragon (CR 14). The PCs aren't up to goting toe-to-toe with the wyrm, but it's attack has trapped folks in burning buildings. The first adventure is spent helping the town by rescuing people.
3. In the aftermath of the battle its learned that kobolds have infiltrated the town in service to the Red Queen. What's worse, the attack has set off a chain reaction in the wilds. Ancient sites boil with eldritch power, vicious monsters have come crawling up out of the earth and villains far and wide are answering the dragon's siren song.
So now the campaign has an identifiable point: stop the dragon, but there's no set way to get it done. The PCs don't have the power or intel to march up to Mount Blastfurnace and murder the Red Queen so they use the campaign to get the resources they need.
Last but certainly not least: random tables. Make TONS of them. Buy books full of them. Know what monsters are coming, what treasure they have, what the weather is, how fast the wind's blowing and what direction, etc. Always be ready and willing to just chuck everything to the side when the players get a wild hair about some detail you mentioned as fluff. "A murder of crows rises at your approach away to your left as ahead a cave comes into view..." you're totally geared for a cave dungeon and suddenly one guy's like "hey, what were those crows doing?" and bam, you've got wilderness exploration.