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Would you allow PCs to use different skills towards the same ends in a non-PFS game and grant Aid Another bonuses? For example if a rogue was trying to unlock a door and the player running the Lore Master fighter decided, instead of bashing it down he'd Aid Another using knowledge: Dungeoneering to expound on everything he knew about dungeon door locks.
I guess I'm of a mind that if the players want to involve themselves in a scene by creatively using their skills and abilities I won't stop them. I can however see where this is a gray area and may get out of hand. I'm just wondering how others run their games.
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...
The key to all this is the GM asking "do you have Knowledge: Religion?" You can get away with it in a homebrew. In a PFS or PF Core game not so much.
If however you have the leisure of playing a homebrew game, TRY STUFF. I don't know about ALL GMs but most love it when players involve themselves SOMEHOW.
You're a barbarian in a social scene? Observe the local pets with Handle Animal; use Sense Motive on the other side; pull out any Knowledge check you have. If all else fails, look at your feats. You've got Power Attack? Fine; if both parties have hit a stalemate in the conversation challenge an opponent to a Sundering contest. You and your foe grab your weapon of choice and Power Attack an inanimate object to determine your worth.
Son of a... just TRY something! Anything. Yeah, some GMs will just be jerkfaces about it but some will factor your action into the scene SOMEHOW. Always be active, be engaged and I guarantee you you'll get more out of the game. Chances are your GM will too.
Honestly here's what I immediately thought: You have high Str but low Con; this suggests a sedentary lifestyle. You have bulk, mass, but not endurance. You're slightly smarter and more charming than the average bear, but your wisdom is insane and your Dex is remarkable. I see a heavy-set dwarf (Raises Con +2, insane Wis gets even better; Cha suffers) whose amazing senses inform him of danger and fuel much faster reaction times than his bulk should allow.
So this dwarf also has amazing willpower and intuition. He's big, sturdy and has an uncanny natural speed he's honed with training. He'd be a great switch hitter ranger. He'd be decent from range but up close can throw his weight around behind, say, a greataxe.
As for the concept, I say it's this: Once the name Brutenheim meant something; once he was a legend. Then his lady Heilde was taken and he was powerless to stop it.
What followed were years spent inside a bottle. Bruniev Brutenheim faded into a bloated old dwarf, barely able to braid his own beard, the edge of his axe faded and the string of his crossbow broken. This is where we found him. Bruniev Brutenheim, face down in a gutter in Absalom, begging for his next drink.
So we've nursed him back. Though he's burned through much of his warrior's constitution Bruniev's mind is still sharp despite the malted haze it's endured. His will is like a steel cage. Once we told him that Heilde may still be alive, that the dragon Infernicus may have merely kept her imprisoned all these years, it was like some part of him awoke from a deep sleep.
We dare not tell him. We have no idea of his love. Somehow we've brought back one of the greatest rangers the world has ever known, though he must rise to greatness once more. We cannot reveal to him that the whereabouts of Heilde are unknown to us. Just keep going, Bruniev Brutenheim. Keep going.
My plan for leveling was to send emails with experience earned after each game session. It will be up to the players to level, come up with RP for their "getting stronger" montage and tell me what changes they're making on their characters.
I also like what folks are saying about a recap each session. I used to do that but stopped when the players started taking notes. Only, they stopped taking notes and didn't tell me, so for the last few sessions of my other game folks have looked at me and gone "what're we doin' again?"
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.
Dragon Shrines + Spell Power: I want to combine aspects of 2 things you folks have suggested. One of the dragons was a black named Mordalith. He was worshipped as a god by kobolds, he sired an entire bloodline of sorcerers called the Mordspawn, and primitive humanoids feared him and paid him homage as if he were a powerful immortal.
As such, nearly a thousand years later you can still see bog shrines dedicated to Mordalith. Essentially kobolds would show up near a tree at night, combine a great force and work through to morning. The end result would be an uprooted tree leaving behind a shallow pit filled with standing water. They would then leave sacrifices to their "god" in the bogs; humanoids (preferably humans) they drowned to death. Finally they'd leave primitive fetishes on a stone or post and whatever treasure would appease Mordalith in the pool.
Mordalith then would show his approval by "fouling" the pool with his Corrupt Water effect. The fetid pools then became places of worship earning the kobolds tribe their name, the Rootrender tribe. The bogs then have a profane, corrupting effect combined with the drowning to create Necrotic boons. Maybe necromancy cast here is +1 CL; maybe undead created using the pools are more powerful than others or have an acidic effect. Perhaps normal toads that breed in these pools have dire offspring.
I'm stumped. I have a campaign coming up and I'm having trouble putting a mechanic to what I want. Here's what's happening:
There's a homebrew region in my setting that was plagued by a few different dragons ages ago. There's lots of kobolds still but I want to have underground/wilderness places that were important to the dragons of old. These will factor into the game.
So these can be anything. Maybe dragons laid their eggs there; maybe there's a nexus of ley lines; perhaps these are even places where dragons died. I'm taking any and all draconic-themed "places of power." Thanks in advance for any/all ideas.
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.
I think the underlying thing I'm getting out of all of this is to go back to my cub scouts days: Be Prepared. Prepare for the game, plan for late players, know when/how to delegate, etc. I think that's the part I'm looking forward to the most to be honest.
In another game I'm running the players are very laid back and we have enormous sessions (sometimes like 8hrs) so I end up winging a lot and improvising. As such I don't feel particularly connected to the game; it's just something we do in between joking around with one another.
This new 3hr session game though meets every week; people are there to play; I have to be on point every week or else it'll show right away. Some might say that sounds scary but to me I'm really looking forward to it.
Yes, I'm still going the kobold route. I have some thoughts on where to take the game. Right now it's a very linear idea, but I don't know how these new guys play. They may sidestep everything I have planned but that's ok; I feel confident that I can wing it for a session and then backtrack and make some plot connections to the original story I had planned if need be.
I've decided to go old skool on this game and give out actual experience points. The plan is to email after sessions wrap and give out EXP as well as solicit feedback on any downtime actions, shopping trips etc. As the PCs level there might be additional emails containing "getting stronger" montages.
I guess my biggest fear is immersion. How, in 3hrs at a time, can I make the setting come alive for the players? So far I've got a small regional map containing a roughly 10 mile radius around the town. I've also sent out a primer on basic, common knowledge on all the areas named on the map such as the Bleakmoss Moors, the Nettlewood and the swamps at Soddenscars.
Should I avoid social encounters due to time constraints? If not how do I maximize immersion while minimizing the chatty-chatty so we can get through our adventures?
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.
The whole thing with roleplaying is being engaged in the game. You don't have to be a great actor or improviser, just go from the gut with what your comfortable with. In scenes though like between combats or during downtime try to think "what would this guy ACTUALLY do?" and then just describe that action.
Let's say you're playing a dwarf barbarian. He has the Drunken Brute archetype and specializes in a greataxe. His actions in combat then always rely on Power Attack, drinking to extend rage and slicing things. Apply all that to your roleplaying.
You're interrogating a goblin and your GM asks "what do YOU do?" Roleplaying would be you describing: The dwarf takes a swig from his flask, sneers, and shouts "TALK!" at the goblin. To emphasize his point he swings his axe and Sunders the stool in the corner.
Your dwarf has a "getting stronger" montage showing him leveling up from level 2 to 3. You intend to give him Improved Sunder this level. Your GM asks "what are you doing over this week in town?" You describe how your dwarf is using his Survival skill to find sturdy timber outside town. It's just him, his axe, and a keg of dwarven ale. He spends the week hewing trees, learning how to sunder them in a single blow, and throwing the spars over his shoulder to stack them like chord wood. By the end of the week he's seen dragging a skid of huge, uncut logs to the mill and waiting on his pay, leaving behind a dozen stumps and a bone-dry keg.
You don't have to make every roleplaying thing epic either. Give your guy a catchphrase or some action that's memorable. If he's the silent loner type, describe that. So long as what you say your character is doing somehow advances the scene or the story, you're golden. Hope all that helps.
Umbral Reaver wrote:
I had a short-lived setting where dragons were 'spirits of greed' that manifested in places where great riches had been lost, usually at sites of old ruins and places where treasure was hidden. Being such aspected beings, they liked to gather more.
This is the closest thing to what I was considering in my own setting. The idea was that greed and pride are inherited traits from their divine origins. Dragons literally cannot help themselves and even the most good among them has a need to hoard.
We didn't get any gaming done yesterday. I decided to have folks roll up their characters so we just did a Session 0.
We have a party now though:
The basic premise of the game is going to be that the PCs have been drafted as agents of the Lantern Watch, an organization dedicated to exploring the wilderness. This motley crew is being sent to a Small Town on the edge of the wilds; there they will meet up with local NPCs, find landmarks lost in a recent global calamity and slowly begin to combat the monsters making a name for themselves.
Per the players last night this'll be a fairly beer & pretzels kind of game. As one gal put it "we just want to get together on a Thursday night, roll some dice and smash something." FYI, she's the barbarian.
Tomorrow begins the first session. Let me know what you think of the plan
Welcome to Valyg's Crossing:
1. PCs hired to travel to Valyg's Crossing, a town on the borderland of a rugged wilderness.
2. Mission 1: meet with Rowana Thrune (NG f hum Wizard 3)
3. Social encounter: meet Rowana
a. she is friendly to the PCs guild
b. Rowana came to Valyg's Crossing to learn of her ancestor, another wizard
c. she has heard rumors of strange noises coming from a ruin on an island in the bay but hasn't checked it out
4. PCs ambushed by the water
a. Monsters: x4 kobold warrior 1/CR 1
b. Clues point back to the ruin
1. they use slingstones of the same rock as the ruin
2. the kobolds are wet and slimy with lake scum
3. the kobolds are a variety with racial talents as excellent swimmers
c. if clues aren't enough, a drunk in an alley tells the PCs he saw them climb up off the quays
5. On the isle of the ruin
a. monsters: x2 dire rats; kobold rat master (warrior 3)/CR 1
b. traps: shallow pits (5' wide, 10' deep) lined with stones (1d6 damage; Ref save DC 15; Perception DC 15; Disarm DC 15) CR 1/2
c. kobold and rats try to drive PCs into the holes
d. there is either a secret door through a pit or the PCs can enter the ruin through a hole in the side; if through the hole Ref save DC 13 or fall for 2d6 damage
6. Under the old ruin
a. Monsters: x3 kobold warrior 2; kobold adept 3/warrior 1 (familiar: donkey rat with the Mauler archetype; he rides the beast through the battle)
b. treasure: along with combat gear there is ancient loot, an old spellbook and a dragon's skull
7. Epilogue: PCs retrieve the spellbook and learn from clues at the scene that the kobolds really came for the skull. They are warriors of a cult worshipping ancient dragons that one roamed these wilds.
I don't really know where I'm going with this storyline yet but this is my opening shot across the bow. Tell me if you think it's too ambitious.
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...
I love everything you're saying right now. I'm using the 5 Room Dungeon design ethic for my initial adventures. That is:
5 room dungeon style:
Room 1: entry/set the theme/usually a minor fight like meeting an outer guard or initial threat
Room 2: trick, trap or RP challenge like having to get info out of a bouncer or cross a raging river
Room 3: setback/PCs are close to the objective but held at bay by something that eats up a few more resources like they slide down a level and have to fight back up
Room 4: final confrontation/bbeg/major conflict dealt with
Room 5: revelation where the PCs find the treasure or the bbeg is shown to be a pawn or whatever
So usually how it turns out for me when I run these is minor fight/skill challenge/minor fight + skill challenge/major fight/? Think this is good time management for 3 hours?
The OP suggests a problem with adding class levels. Does this include NPC class levels? Take a kobold; a party APL 1 faces one kobold warrior 1 (CR 1/4) and laughs; they face four of them and it's an average challenge.
Take the same single kobold and add Adept 3. Now this kobold has 4 total CR of 1. Phyiscally it looks no different but now it has a bit of magic, a few more HP and slightly better chance to hit. It also has a familiar which, with a few choices on your part makes it almost a double threat for its CR.
Keep that logic going. Perhaps later in the campaign around level 5 PCs encounter kobolds with the Simple: Advanced template on top of Adept 3/Warrior 5. These kobolds ride their familiars in battle. Give them lizards with the Mauler archetype. All they are is beefy acolytes of the dragon at the end of the game. Explain their Burning Hands spells as breath weapons; give them the kobold alternate racial trait that gives them a bite attack. They don't have to be super elite well-konwn people in the campaign.
Finally the PCs make it to APL10. You throw in some kobold adept 5/warrior 7 with some tricked out stats and the Simple: Advanced template. Again with the lizard familiars but said familiars have some magic items that gives them wings and a breath weapon. Now they're dragon-riding kobolds flying around, breathing fire, shooting bows with extreme accuracy and doing crap damage. These are the uber-dragon's tooth guard meaning they are fit to clean his teeth between meals.
Not every monster needs to keep current with the PCs. Those that do can gain quite a bit from the following sources without mucking much up in your story or setting:
- Simple templates
Finally, don't forget the Voltron effect. By that I mean combining lesser monsters to make one devastating combatant. A medium skeleton bolstered with some magic items, the Simple: Advanced template and Simple: Fiendish for the defenses is bound to a sanguine alchemical ooze swarm advanced several HD into one slimy skeleton that can debuff combatants with it's attacks. Perhaps you even count it as a single monster so the party has to chew through ALL its HP before it's destroyed.
Ok I need some advice. I've been invited to run a homebrew game for some new players but they meet every other Thursday for 3 hour sessions. I haven't run games in that short of a time ever for PF. Normally I run 4-6 hour sessions, sometimes longer and even then it doesn't feel like we get a ton of stuff done.
Please offer any advice or commentary on running short sessions here. I know I can use modules but I want to keep a lot of the game homebrewed. Are there things I should avoid or trim back in the game to maximize the time?
132. As you enter the tavern you note that the crowd is gathered around the center table. At one end a Halfling and a dwarf stand glaring at each other while in their hands are small pebbles. At the far end several full mugs of beer a lined up like a triangle with its apex furthest from the competitors. The pinnacle mug bears a handle resembling a rapier and is of obvious import (Knowledge: Religion this honors Cayden Cailean). The game is bierstone...
133. Several young women swoon before a bespectacled lad with a pimply complexion wearing a pointy hat and a robe. "We get it... CHARM spell... you still can't tag a long kid" a group of adventurers mutter from a nearby table.
134. A sweaty-lipped half-elf hands you a sealed scrollcase. "Get this out of the city... NOW!" he barks as he drains a flagon in his other hand. With that he makes to dash away as spectral hands appear from midair and sink barbed claws into his shoulders. "NOWWW!" he screams before being hauled through an infernal rift.
Here's the list that I always go over in my head
- partial charge
Also don't forget Free actions like Knowledge checks, some skills and a few words of speech. That's all I can think of off the top of my head.
So a fighter with a familiar, snap shot and these 2 feats above could, conceivably receive a +4 bonus to hit against a flanked foe if their familiar were part of the flank? And then isn't there another ranged feat for getting an AoO from Ranged Tactics? This all bodes well for my halfling slinger build...
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.
The dice have a mind of their own. You roll some dice, the PC dies; everyone shrugs. Luck didn't go their way right?
Name me one story, movie, tv show, song or even a youtube video of a game session where the heroes of said media opened a door, a goblin got a lucky shot and one or more of the protagonists died and you went "Man! That was awesome!"
Yeah, I didn't think so. That's how your players feel.
Almost no player wants total PC immortality. Equally almost no player wants to die from a cheap shot. I say almost because there are always exceptions.
Most players I've asked say that if their PC has to go down they want it to be story-enhancing. They don't want to die; they want a death scene. There's a difference.
There are ways to threaten death without killing the PCs. Again, back to your favorite media. There are epic moments in stories where an NPC dies. Off the top of my head I can imagine a few TV shows where the heroes live at the very edge of death but their trusted NPCs are shredded like so much wheat.
I guess my point is that PC death in my experience isn't fun. It doesn't always add anything to the story and it never serves as a "teachable moment" for the player whose character just died. Mostly it's just a negative: a stop in the action for at least one player, a break in the communal narrative, and ending of a sort and a loss on the part of the team.
So if you've got some dice that decide a PC is gonna die, prepare yourself. You all have some decisions to make. How will you pull the silver lining out of this? How will you turn this defeat into a victory?
You sit down to your first adventure with this new GM. The first encounter is between your party of 1st level, mildly optimized PCs and, say, a bunch of goblins. You're like "awesome; let's unleash the hurt!" and wade into the fight.
The goblins turn out to be tactical geniuses. They use the terrain, hit-and-run tactics and their leader is a battlefield control type spellcaster that seems to know your party's every weakness. The fight is over before it began. After it wraps and your party limps off the battlemap down one PC who got killed you can either
1. Amp up your optimization
2. Talk to your GM
If you take option one you begin an arms race. Suddenly you're a primed group of military commandos but the GM strikes back with more diverse monsters. Now you're golf-bagging weaponry to deal with DR, Flying and other defenses. Your GM puts in some deadly puzzles, social encounters with demigod level forces and what not and suddenly its a player-versus-GM game.
If you go option 2 though a lot of things can go wrong. Maybe the GM was new too and didn't know how to run the encounter; maybe now they're embarrassed for being called out on the carpet or the GM expresses frustration with your level of skill as players; maybe the game collapses right then and there.
But here's the light at the end of the tunnel. If you have that conversation with your GM about their game things might get fixed. It doesn't HAVE to turn into a body count comparison unless that's the game you all want. If you pick option one and never have the conversation then no one really learns anything. If you have an open and honest dialogue about it however then you at least have the chance of fixing things.
Think about some of your first games as kids. Unless you were at a convention did anyone ever sit down with a total stranger and just go "ok lets play!" I'm guessing not many of us. Rather we sat with friends we trusted; we called out our friends when they were being jerks, whether they were other players or the GM. We said things like "wouldn't it be cool if..." or "remember in that movie where that one guy..." In those conversations we began the dialogue that led to everyone at the table knowing what they all considered cool and epic.
Embrace conversation. Get to know your fellow gamers. Feel the confidence to make the game what YOU want to play.
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.
I'm only caught up as far as both the Scarecrow episodes. I find I differ from several folks on this thread:
Nygma: I love everything that's happening here. His awkward flirtations with Kringle, his incessant riddles, his overstepping everyone's jobs. He really hits all the marks of what the character should be, in my opionion.
Dr Thompkins: I think this is a much more fun relationship to watch than Jim/Barbara. Barbara just seems like a little girl, a damsel in distress. Lee is a woman, nuff said.
Penguin-as-wimp: I really like this in the show. Yeah, in the comics we see a few different Penguins but all of them are grown ups and as tough as the times and writers will allow him to be. If this is about becoming Batman, Penguin is EXACTLY where he needs to be right now. He talked his way out of a deathtrap, moments before impact; he's tough enough for now.
I still find Gordon a little too lunkheaded for my tastes, but he's growing on me. Bullock of course continues to be the best part of the show for me. I also really like their captain.
Alfred was great, forcing Bruce to climb that hill. He won't ever be Bruce's "father figure" in that he won't be a traditional loving nurturer. But he will raise a little soldier in the only way he knows how. If Bruce is going to have to survive on his own, Alfred will teach him EVERYTHING he knows on how to endure. I really wanted there to be a cave though...
One place I agree w/everyone: Fish has run her course in the show. Nothing against the actress or even the character, but her role in the show is sort of done. And of course I gotta agree with the whole "you're in a horrible prison... poof; now you're in charge" thing was kind of ridiculous.
Now I need to get home and catch this latest ep. Hopefully it is another lovely homage to the characters I grew up with.
Combat Patrol lets you AoO all over the place with a reach weapon. If your Dex is high and you've got space to maneuver, you just 5' step into an area and then wait for the villains to move. Suddenly you're a whirling vortex of attacks. Consider that, by the time you get the feat (BAB +5) you're hitting foes at 10' already and this feat expands that out to 15'... every direction. That's kind of ridiculous.
Also if you're thinking of tripping or hindering your foes, try Spear Dancer. It's not much; your foes are -1 to attack, but it happens for 1 round on everyone you hit. The feat doesn't require you do damage, just that you hit. So...
Combat Patrol + Trip + Spear Dancer means that you could potentially trip every foe provoking within 15' of you and debuff their attacks the next round. Then as they all stand back up... BLAM! Fouchard damage + another round of debuff.
Transor-Z: I'm pickin up what you're putting down here. I imagine the PCs coming into, say a 5-room dungeon layout built from an ancient tomb. The construction is old and gothic; the plotline of the adventure is basically that a moronic bandit stumbled on this tomb and opened it, getting killed in the process. Now the malevolent undead inside, cursed into reanimation out of a sense of martial failure, has begun campaigning through the countryside slaying the living and assembling more wights like the master of the tomb.
So the tomb might have some obvious burial treasure, like coins and goods for the dead to carry into the next world. But also you might have:
Banners of the Ancient Lord - a crimson pennant, trimmed in gold with the crest of a black wolf and tower (Profession: Soldier, Knowledge: History, Appraise)
Wrought-Iron Candle Stands - these gothic sculptures are cobwebbed and riddled with crusted wax drippings but their ornate construction reveals powerful craftsmanship (Appraise, Craft: Blacksmith)
Relief of the Oathsworn Company - the three-pannel carving depicts a glorious battle of a bygone age (Profession: Soldier, Knowledge: History, Appraise)
Weapons Cache - an armory of dozens of extra weaponry lays here. Though age and the elements have affected many spells and hard work might be employed to reveal the elder skills and techniques that went into their construction (Craft: Weaponsmith, Knowledge: History, Appraise)
I could imagine other stuff too, like maybe the journals of the company's conquests, perhaps some arcane materia entombed with the ancient lord's second-in-command (skeleton champion wizard) or some ornamental shields displaying the crests of the vanquished.
All of the treasure hearkens back to the time of this lord and helps tells his story. He was a great general but over time his power waned. When a young rival(monster, witch, evil dragon etc) came to challenge him he was beaten back and fled into his own tomb where he slew all of his loyal retainers and then himself out of desperation. He reanimated as did his "Oathsworn Company" and now they terorize the region seeking vengeance or final peace.
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.
Have a goal. It doesn't have to be elaborate like some ancient prophecy or the politics of immortals. Something as simple as "a red dragon attacks a town and demands tribute while it's kobold and monster minions vex the land; the PCs will rise up and smite him" is fine if the players are on board.
Design to your players' strengths, not their characters' weaknesses. If you've got a group that loves the Tomb Raider games, Indiana Jones and other stuff in that genre throw in plenty of puzzles and twists.
Variety is the spice of life. If the adventures that make up the campaign focus on the same monsters, the same locales and the same formula for success chances are your players will get bored. Of course if your group likes this style of play, ignore this point altogether.
Be inclusive. As others have mentioned above involve all of your players. Its fine to highlight one at a time but try to engage as many of your players as you can in the action.
Be a set designer, not a storyteller. If you're narrating it may get boring for your players. Similarly if it's your story and not everyone's you may get possessive of it and lash out at your players when they try to deviate from your campaign. If you instead content yourself to just creating "sets" that your players can interact with then everyone takes ownership of the game.
Expect that your players will get bored. There's no shame in it. Human beings are prone to it and sometimes even our best tricks fail to engage our players. If this happens just roll with it and throw a curve like an unexpected encounter or something. One GM I had as a kid noticed we were all bored and made a roll behind his screen as we were opening a chest. "Out jumps... a full-grown Bengal tiger." he stated blankly. We all just stared... "what?" I asked. Suddenly we were in initiatives and I still remember it 25 years later.
Your players will hijack your game sometimes; let them. If your players have an idea who the villain is, where the McGuffin is located or just simply want to look at that stream you mentioned off-hand as they were getting to the cave-dungeon, roll with it the best you can. You don't have to be a master of ad-libbing, just grab your Bestiary and make a roll. Since it's partly their game too its nice when they make assumptions that turn out to be right.
All that being said, what kind of campaign are you looking for?