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Leonard Kriegler

Mark Hoover's page

5,387 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.


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Set wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
God I love your stuff.


Mark Hoover wrote:
Set I freaking love your stuff, but I think my players would freaking revolt if I dropped it into my game, even if I warned them ahead of time. Imagine a Dark Folk cleric of Sang Invictis, a simple CR 3 fight (a Challenging to most groups of level 1 PCs in my game) that unleashed a wave of 2d6 damage as a Full Round action that inflicts 10 damage (50% more since he's using Channel Surge) plus 1 Bleed, opening dozens of terrifying wounds over everyone's body?

While I love me some Dark Folk, is there a reason you picked that particular race that I'm not seeing? Sang Invictus 'feels' more Orc or degenerate Serpentfolk/Cyclopes or Hobgoblin-y, to me, appealing to innately warlike / brutish races.

I pondered whether the bleed thing was too good, but reversing the standard Glory domain would give a +2 DC to the damaging negative energy channel (up there with the monster-only Ability Focus feat), and my original thought of bleed equal to the dice (instead of half the dice) just felt like it was way too much.

I kind of wanted to come up with something unique for each of these Archfiends, even if it was just in the line of a Trait or something, but then I laughed and got over it. The 10,000 eyes dude does kind of scream out for some mechanics related to the eye-totems and eye-eating rites, 'though.

Being not 100% in love with Obediences, I didn't bother with those either, although I did, with later entries, try to suggest some sacrificial preferences / rites of devotion common to the cults of these Archfiends.

Even if the mechanics might cause a player revolt, hopefully the concepts inspire some cool story ideas!

Oh no reason on the Dark Folk; it just sort of "popped in there" as a great paranormal psychologist with 3 mortgages once said.

Seriously though Set every once in a while I try my hand at re-skinning monsters or just changing their powers around; I re-do their feats and weapons to make them a bit more combat-ready for PCs and my players blow a gasket. Then I come in here and see the stuff you're creating... my players would cry.

Still I thank you. You hit that mark of providing inspiration. In fact thanks to some of the spells you created for sin magic I was able to make an encounter with a summoner focused on gluttony a little more fun in one of my games.

I think what I like more than anything is your ability to see the realism in the fantasy. By that I mean that a lot of folks just re-skin monsters or modify/create spells based on needed to deal more damage, fill a combat role, etc. You look at powers and abilities conceptually; "if a spellcaster was really OBSESSED with, say, Gluttony, what spells would he make to express that obsession, combat-worthy or not?"

Thanks for that.

captain yesterday wrote:
memorax wrote:
Andrew Betts wrote:

Yep good reason for kicking a GM.
I think it's the other way around. No one likes gaming with players with a player with poor hygiene. I get sometimes that coming from work it's unavoidable. After a point I'm willing to tell both a player and/or DM to wash up before coming to a session. Even if it means being late.
stuff like this makes me glad I have almost no sense of smell, unless you come directly from shoveling s!&! I won't notice :-)

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!! *puts on hip waders and grabs soiled shovel*

Set I freaking love your stuff, but I think my players would freaking revolt if I dropped it into my game, even if I warned them ahead of time. Imagine a Dark Folk cleric of Sang Invictis, a simple CR 3 fight (a Challenging to most groups of level 1 PCs in my game) that unleashed a wave of 2d6 damage as a Full Round action that inflicts 10 damage (50% more since he's using Channel Surge) plus 1 Bleed, opening dozens of terrifying wounds over everyone's body?

And that's just the opening gambit?

Yeah, I'd get "killer GM" slapped on me faster than a quickling on speed.

My favorite metamagic combo is:

1. Have an Arcane Reservoir from the Arcanist class
2. Spend 1 Pt from the Reservoir to get +1 Caster Level
3. Cast the enhanced level spell into a scroll (you'll pay more but it'll be worth it)
4. Have the feat Cypher Magic; cast from the leveled up scroll for another +1 Caster Level bump

For the expenditure of gold over higher slots and a Move action to grab the scroll instead of slower casting time you've just gotten a spell Heightened 2 levels. Need an extra Magic Missile? Have to drop a couple more d6's on your Lightning Bolt? Extend the duration on a buff just a bit? This is a nice way to do it.

My Exploiter Wizard spellcaster, if she lives and the campaign continues to 5th level, will be taking Potent Magic as her next exploit meaning she can get a +2 Caster Level boost in part 2 above. Added to the fact that her familiar has Familiar Focus as a feat this means that, by level 5 she can create a CL 7 scroll of Mage Armor, cast it on her familiar, and have it last 9 hours. That's fun right?

439. You spot a cart selling a stinking fruit that smells so foul crows are circling. Soon after spying it the guard arrives to make an arrest, holding their noses.

440. As you pass an alleyway you spot the corpse of an old man you'd seen begging in the square the night before. (For the GM - there's nothing nefarious; the old man was homeless and this settlement has no social policies in place for this sort of thing. He died of exposure after a tough night on the streets)

I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
436. A short bugbear with bulging eyes and blue fur is rampaging through a bakery.

Is he singing? If so, is it something about the letter "C?"

I'm in the process of putting the finishing touches on a level 1 wizard. Her combat style? She's putting everything on her familiar.

Its not even an optimized familiar.

She's a wizard with the Exploiter Wizard archetype so she can up Caster Levels. She's also got Cypher Magic to up caster levels with scrolls. Her familiar is an owl with the Valet archetype and the Familiar Focus feat. So...

1. spend 50 GP to craft a scroll with Enlarge Person while using Arcane Reservoir to up the Caster Level by 1
2. use the scroll on my familiar casting with Cypher Magic (+1 Caster Level)
3. Familiar Focus pumps the spell up 1 CL to level 4; my owl has Str 12 and Dex 15 for 4 minutes (the typical duration of clearing about 4 rooms in a dungeon)

As we level... that's right... I'm going to get either Evolved Familiar feats or Teamwork feats. What's that you say? When am I going to dip into Fighter for 2 levels, give the familiar all my combat feats and then go Eldritch Knight? I'm NOT! I'm going to go all Wizard though I may go Cyphermage for some of the fancy lore in that PrC.

I'm going to make a bunch of magic items and scrolls, I'm going to buff myself and my familiar to try and make us tanks, and then I'm going to use Teamwork feats and my traits that pump my Aid Another contributions to +4 to make sure that my familiar can hit.

Is it efficient or not? I don't know. Have I made it work yet? No, but once I get her on the table and figure it out, you'll all be the first to know!

Mending. Later, Make Whole and later still, Fabricate. I'm going to tack that onto Knowledge: Engineering. All those dungeons, ruins and broken tombs we explore? They're all going to be fixed up and they'll all be mine.

Seriously. Just Mending alone means at 1st level every piece of broken ammo we can find is fixed. By 3rd level I'm repairing daggers and Small sized light weapons. Since I have an Exploiter Wizard and Cypher Magic I write scrolls that I cast 2nd level scrolls into and then cast at 3rd level. By 3rd level if I've got the cash I'm going to be casting 5th level scroll spells of Mending to fix light shields, weapons and small furniture.

Then comes Make Whole. It gets the same treatment if we have enough downtime. Suddenly walls begin to come back into shape. Our first adventure we found a ruined stone cottage; that's going to be my first base of operations. I'm going to take the time to set up a restoration business, re-sell all these old weapons and pieces of gear from adventures that I can recover and use the gold to fuel the scrolls. Said scrolls and spells will rebuild the cottage along with hired help.

Once that's done I intend to build a network of locales. Anytime we find some old ruin or broken building I'm fixing it up, making it better and getting it warded with mundane (transplanted padlocks recovered with Mending, perhaps minor traps) and then magic (Arcane Lock, Alarm, Sepia Snake Sigil, etc) means.

Ambrus wrote:
Lilith Knight wrote:
Threeshades wrote:
Ambrus wrote:
Threeshades wrote:
What power?
The power of voodoo!
Who do?
You do!
Do what?

Remind me of the babe!

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So with advice from Aux and DM Cal (thank you both by the way) I'm trying to wrangle a self-imposed project: 30 days, 30 encounters.

The idea is that I have a low level game and my players and I both seem to work best when the world is kind of open-ended. My players like to talk about what might be going on and I like riffing off of them, but this kind of play needs solid encounter ideas prepped so you can drop in action at a moment's notice.

So far this project has spun off into creative spirals side-tracking me from the actual encounters. I am trying to get disciplined though. The hope is that I can produce 30 low level (CR 1/2 - CR 6) encounters with ideas on how to drop them into multiple terrains, motivations for the villains beyond "murder... eat..." and maybe even some thoughts on how they can be resolved without resorting to combat.

One I've used for a long time is the Goblin Fey Hunters. It's a CR 2 - 4 encounter depending on how many goblins are in the encounter and their NPC classes. The idea though is simple; when encountered the goblins aren't looking to ambush the PCs. The creatures are armed with weapons, sure, but also a mancatcher sized for capturing Tiny sized creatures, a butterfly net (Reach weapon targeting Touch AC; victim is Entangled) and in possession of a cold-iron masterwork lantern (a pixie prison).

This can obviously be dropped into a lot of wilderness environments. If adding it to rugged, hilly terrain they might be hunting for a korred in which case the lantern might be a wood-and-iron cart/cage; if underground maybe they're hunting mites and have bug spray (some minor irritant with a DC 12 Fort save). The concept here is that the goblins will certainly fight, kill and eat the PCs, but if the characters want they can try to direct the goblins toward fey (real or from a Bluff check) to end the encounter without combat. Heck if they roll really well they might even be able to barter with the Fey Hunters; I usually include an adept or even a PC caster type with some scrolls. The characters might exchange info or something useful to hunting the fey in exchange for a scroll spell.

More than just random tables, I like having thoughtful encounters prepped ahead of time like this. Players in my game slowly learn that with me behind the screens not every monster is just a loot bag with teeth or weapons. Hopefully then they use that knowledge to interact with encounters and piece together what's really going on. When immersion happens I get engaged players; that's one of my ultimate goals.

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Auxmaulous wrote:

Had a funny "go with it" situation arise in my last Gamma World playtest game night. The characters are low level, armed with crap (xbows, short bows, spears, etc) so they are always on the look out for better weapons or even ancient tech gear while they are on their quest.

So they are exploring a small ruined town, checking some rubble of what's left of a few houses and some businesses. In one of the buildings they find the skeletal remains of an expired mutant (killed by some rubble spiders) - on the body they find some keys and the rest of his gear. No big deal. They fight the rubble spiders in an insane battle for a low level fight with players falling into walls (and almost through them) with a constant threat of the building collapsing (made their luck checks).

Another house over they find a very well hidden cache of survival gear and small locked strong box (they rolled the highest difficulty while searching). Now there are no potions in GW, but there are plenty of fragile items - so they are trying to figure out how to get it open or pick it without damaging the contents. When I wrote the building/loot up, I put the lock in as a challenge - did anyone get lockpicking, is there another way to open it without destroying the contents, etc. Basically a reward for those who invested the right skills or creative problem solving.

One of the players says - "why don't we check the keys we found on that skeleton?"

So I think to myself - "damn, I should have wrote that into the module".
I had them roll luck checks (easy) to see if the mutant had stashed the box before he got killed - they made the check and one of the keys worked. Inside they found a dose of Antitoxin and an Accelera Dose (like a potion of healing, works over a few rounds though) and some New Skin patches (healing for light injuries). So a good find of tech healing (all new to them) and all of it was intact. As a bonus they got a sturdy strong box and its key.

Sometimes the players string together good ideas because they see...

When you said "keys" I thought you were having an Oprah moment and giving them a car!

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68. Networking
69. Figuring out what new TV shows are worth watching
70. To have someone to blame for bad tactics in combat
71. They help you confirm you're not the crazy one
72. So maybe you're not the ONLY one at the table that's sick of Viking Metal as the background score
73. More hands to make miniature terrain with
74. Validation
75. Another voice to add to the malign beauty that is your game

95. Your name is Mark... :(

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Once again to the Wizard of TOZ: based on your posts I imagine you looking EXACTLY like your avatar, though I suppose I figure you're pointing a Buddy Jesus finger at me instead of a sword, but still.

You are blessed man. You need to start a gratitude journal if you don't have one already. If you ever decide to run a seminar on how to achieve awesomeness just send me the invite and I'll figure out how to be there.

By contrast my wife has no interest in playing these games. She plays board games with me once in a while, but that's about it. My kids were into it for a while, but then they both decided they wanted to be "cool" so over the last several months that ship has sailed.

One daughter even let slip that I still have a red cloak hanging in my closet for Rennaisance Faire visits. Oh yeah, now to all the neighborhood kids I'm "that guy." I'm hoping it keeps them OFF my lawn rather then bringing more of them in.

To the thread though I'm once again in the Auxmaulous camp. I love creating and being the GM is a great outlet for that. One thing I love even more though is not knowing what's coming next. I know or have an idea of what encounters to work into tonight's session, but otherwise I just show up, recap where we left off and hand everything over to the players.

I make a random roll for some minor piece of set dressing like a weather event, piece of terrain or maybe a minor encounter. Thankfully I've got players who like to think out loud. I pull that rip chord and watch them debate the whys of what I just dropped on the table, then the game spins off in some random direction. Bliss!

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So I set myself a challenge: 30 days, 30 low-level encounters right? I have a game going every week that's at level 2 so I figure I can work the encounters into the game, plus I was thinking about starting a blog with free encounters and ideas so these would be good fodder for that too.

I grab some dice and the PF Beastiary 1. I get "2d6 goblins" so I put that down and start designing. They're the Mirthskinner Tribe, called such cuz they skin their victims and wear grinning masks of said stuff. Then that leads me to an idea, which in turn becomes part of a larger power struggle between a ghast who was a former cult leader and just HAPPENED to have been a noble when alive.

Now I've got a cursed noble line, a survivor of the ghast's family predations, said survivor has grown into an Aristocrat 1 but also exhibits burgeoning Sorcerer powers with the Undead bloodline. Oh, and she chafes against her super-lawful asimar lady-in-waiting and is not-so-secretly in love with the captain of the guard, a half-elf Warrior. Said captain has made a deal with the goblins to deliver the girl whose kidnapping will draw out the lady-in-waiting so that she can reveal the whereabouts of the family fortune and all concerned except the asimar and her mistress believe the ghast to be a myth.


What's wrong with me? First I spend months with writer's block and am so burned out running my other game that I turn the reigns over to one of the players, now I try to discipline myself to writing just simple encounters and instead I have the rudiments of an entire module.

Right. I know it all depends on the GM. Everything depends on the GM. I'm trying to get a gauge of how most GM's do it, based on your actual characters' experiences.

For example in my current game I've told the players its a very generic Pathfinder-type world even though my setting is a homebrew. This means I'm running things right out of the core books and one of them even has Scribe Scroll. So far (2 levels and 7 game sessions) the players are solely relying on item drops and not using crafting or the ability to purchase from the local church.

In this instance the players either forgot about their ability to make scrolls or just don't really want to. Same with purchasing their own stuff. They've said though that they're saving some loot to the side for big stuff like a cloak or maybe a magic weapon.

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Frankly I've always enjoyed simple, practical reasons for mazes and dungeons:

- a prison
- a defense
- a lair

Taking these 3 basic concepts you can go all over the place. For example, take Prison. Add, say, a hobgoblin warlord with bugbear wardens. Suddenly this place looks like the Saw movies. The hobgoblin is Lawful Evil and a strong believer in survival of the fittest; his bugbear minions are neutral evil and track foes by fear. The "prison" then is for dissidents to the hobgoblin warlord's rule. Those who survive are a fitting challenge to the master himself; those who fail either die in hideous traps or are afflicted with a palpable fear (even surviving one of the true death traps inflicts the Shaken condition of a set amount of time) that can then be smelled by the bugbears who pounce on their prey and consume them.

You can play this little game with many different monsters. Grab a Beastiary, turn to a random page, and find a creature capable of either building the place itself or appropriate to the setting. Then pick one of the 3 and go from there:

Monster: Imp/Type: a defense
The Speaker of Orcus: a cult dedicated to the demon lord of the undead, Orcus, summoned and bound a specific imp known as the Speaker of Orcus. This creature is literally the voice of the prince; his ability to Commune taps directly into Orcus' will. With this conduit of power the cult gleaned the creation secrets of some of the most fiendish undead imaginable and the high members were well on their way to immortality. The imp however demanded far more souls than most. The sheer volume of weekly sacrifices made the cult an instant target for destruction.

In response the Boneward was crafted. Miles of tunnels and corridors of ossuary with macabre purpose to confound and defeat any trespasser while the cult passed with impunity. Even better were the spells woven into the traps that caused hallucinations and weakened the minds of those entering. The way the Boneward was designed was to confuse mortals and cause them to commit acts of corruption and sin. At key points along the way these sinners could "Atone" by sacrificing themselves. The souls of the sinners then would be drawn through the labyrinth via dread necromancy to feed the Speaker of Orcus.

The maze's traps were so ingenious that they ensnared all of the lesser members of the cult itself. The highest members realized their folly and tried to escape the maze but were tricked by the Speaker. Abyssal fiends made short work of the masters and the Boneward was lost. The place was such a deathtrap that many heroes tried to navigate it in order to shut it down but they too were destroyed in its depths so the Boneward entrances were sealed and the place was left to rot.

It didn't die.

Now a century later a plague of undeath has been traced to the Boneward. The maze exists solely to protect one creature - The Speaker of Orcus. Some in the land once more desire its forbidden lore and would risk their minds and souls to have the power. Others have pledged themselves to the Speaker's destruction. It is believed that should the imp be found and slain, the Boneward can finally be destroyed.

This is a really fun thought experiment actually. Hopefully this is good inspiration.

Zelda Marie Lupescu wrote:
Ambrus wrote:

Interesting notion. When presented that way, my first thought is that it sounds like something beyond the ability of mere mortals to have constructed; like something built by one or more primordial gods...

Maybe the maze merely appears to mortals as a puzzle meant to be solved. In reality the true significance of the maze is beyond mortal comprehension. Perhaps it is an early "rough sketch" created by a primordial being before he/she/it finally settled on the final configuration of the universe he/she/it would later create. Or maybe the maze is a physical manifestation of that same primordial being's mind; reflecting its convoluted though processes as well as compartmentalizing its various memories and ideas into physical rooms, locked away in the depths of the maze. Walking the maze is akin to exploring the primordial being's mind.

Either way, the maze was never meant to be found and explored by mortals. At some point in the past however that primordial being's creations discovered the maze and began exploring it; maybe they were angelic/demonic servitors or mortal beings. Whoever they were, navigating the maze allowed them to unlock the hidden workings of the universe and so gain profound insight into the nature of reality. Some used that insight to grow in physical might, others to develop arcane magic, others still to uncovered the secret to eternal life (or undeath), while a few persevered and succeeded in ascending to true divinity. This is how the earliest dragons, wizards, undead and gods, respectively, came into being.

Explorers must be careful while inside the maze however for destroying or removing the things they find inside risks changing the primordial being's mind; which in turn could change the nature of reality outside the maze in unpredictable ways. For instance, what happens if you kill the idea of a creature you encounter within the maze? Does it's entire race disappear or somehow change outside in the real world? Or what happens if an explorer purposefully


Yes, ideas like this are freaking awesome. My only issue with moments of inspiration like this: Pathfinder is maybe not the best system for implementation. Pathfinder is a game of numbers - if a PC goes into a room which adds profound insight into the nature of the universe, what does that translate to in game terms? They fight some living nightmare, survive, and what... gain 1/day Augury? Get a permanent +2 to Wisdom? Grow a third eye which in turn grants a Divination spell and will grow in power as the campaign continues? Its hard to get a grand idea like the awesomeness of a primordial beings id as maze and translate that awesome through this system. Of course that's my opinion based on my weak GM skills; others may be able to pull this off and if so I bow to their incredible GMing!

Think about all the enchanted gear your PC has. How did you acquire the majority of it? Loot drops, crafting it or purchasing it from NPCs, or some other source?

@the Rue Morgue: do your female students swoon over you and write lewd messages on their eyelids so that when you make eye contact with them in class they blink slowly so you can read them? Do you ever recover artifacts and say they should be in a museum?

Seriously though, Mr 40 there inspires a thought: what do some of your favorite movie/TV/literature adventurers do in their spare time? Indiana Jones was a history professor; Buffy went to high school; the Starks prepared for winter (though I guess for them, that WAS the adventure).

On the other extreme though I've known players for whom the RP aspect of these games are secondary at best. Downtime for them was a non-event except when they needed to level or buy better gear. Once I asked one of these players what his dwarf fighter did while the other PCs busied themselves with a lot of charitable work for the town. He was staunch that his PC did nothing but wait outside the bar, despite the fact he knew it would take his party a week to return.

We got into a mini power struggle over it. In a moment of human weakness I got spiteful (I apologized later). I went through the downtime events, every once in a while calling for Con checks versus exhaustion from the dwarf. His PC was described as standing, motionless, where the party left him the week before.

The first couple of days he finished his own trail rations and was fine though the folks of the town began to wonder if something terrible was coming. Eventually he began suffering from exposure and sleep deprivation. Eventually he collapsed to the ground. Being a hero of the town people pitied him and left him crusts of bread, small cups of water and even a few coppers. When the party finally caught up to him he was taking hourly non-lethal damage, suffering from Filth Fever, his hair and beard were overgrown and he was extremely "soiled".

Yes, it was childish but I was incredulous. I gifted this PC a free skill rank for a craft or profession skill and this dwarf had pretty decent ability with brewing. He ended the previous game 80' from a bar. He couldn't have just said "I go in an work as their brewer" for a week?

I did make it up to him. In a later game part of the plot was a festival with games of endurance. His character was unanimously voted toughest in town and he chose to compete winning TONS of prizes, NPC boons and influence for his god-like Constitution.

Ok, here's how I know that pre-fight buffing is possible in our game:

Currently we have 3 PCs: a human bloodrager 1, a human fighter 1 and an asimar favored soul (3x class; hybrid of sorcerer and cleric) 1. We hear a strange noise in the trees of an orchard but fail our Perception checks. Our PCs stand there and debate for a few seconds and eventually charge in; roughly the equivalent of 2 rounds based on other actions we took. During that time I turned to the Favored Soul player and asked "are you going to cast anything? Virtue, Resistance, Guidance anything?"

The response::
What's the point?

We proceeded to get our heads handed to us. The monsters had an electric AoE attack; I missed the save by 1. After this session our GM said for as tough as the fights are we might want to each play a 2nd character. I'm going to bring in this half-elf after all and I'm going to BUFF the he!! out of this party. My GM is observing the rules of virtually every Paizo book. By RAW I have enough starting gold to outfit myself and still have THIRTY TWO scrolls to begin the game with.

Between Wizard spells and bonus spells for being a 1/2 elf I have Guidance, Resistance, Virtue, Mage Armor, Enlarge Person, Vanish, Obscuring Mist, Magic Weapon, Magic Fang, and Shield. I've got half an hour before the first battle that we know to expect, then a full 2 rounds before the actual first fight? Mage Armor, Enlarge Person, Magic Fang; I have 2 minutes of an owl with AC 18, x2 talon attacks +5 to hit with 1d6+2 damage each.

Its happening!

So if success is relative to the GM and the monsters, is it ALSO relative to your fellow teammates?

The Neal raises a valid point: how often to we really think about our character's motivation to go off on said "adventure?"

I have a fighter that just started a new campaign, name of Murdyk. Now I was having writer's block when I made him so I grabbed Ultimate Campaign and rolled up his major events. He is the son of a peasant family but his entire family is still alive. Murdyk is the oldest of three with a little brother and a kid sister.

Now in life events I ended up getting the following elements
- Major childhood event: mentor
- Fighter event: survival
- Moral Conflict: Betrayal
- subject: family member
- motivation: family
- resolution: sincere regret

What I ended up with was that my siblings and I were both adopted by the same mentor, an old dwarf ranger (I wanted to use Dwarf weapons but be human) who took us in when our father was in prison for debt. We were trained in survival and lived off the land for a few years but my kid sister chafed at the "indignity." Per my GM I had to spend a couple years in the military and my sister as well so the two of us were in the same unit. I saw her falling in with the wrong crowd so I betrayed her to the guard, trying to get her out of the life.

It backfired. When she came back out she was cold, distant. She finished out her time in the guard but I found out that, days before we were both to be discharged she'd planned to help heist a naval ship to become a pirate. I was torn with regret and knew that this would be far worse than before so I actually helped her escape.

Now my sister's disappeared but I've heard tales of "The Viridian Queen", a female pirate ravaging the islands where the campaign is taking place. I've come to the big island of Ierendi looking to track her down.

So between adventures I'm trying to track down my sister, Raina who has become a pirate captain. Why then would I take on the adventures that I do? Seriously, can you imagine actually being Murdyk?

The scene: Murdyk has tracked a clue on his sister to the Dockside Tavern in the town of Maroc in the Ierendi interior. Despite being miles inland there was talk that some of the Viridian Queen's last shanghaied crew members escaped and one of them may have come here. The young warrior is busily questioning the tavern patrons for any further info on the sailor's whereabouts

Murdyk - Please tell me, have you heard anything of the Viridian Queen or perhaps a sailor who fled her ship. He may have passed through this town.

NPC - No, but I've been having some trouble of my own: a couple of workers on my plantation have been killed and strung up in the trees by vines.

Murdyk - that's terrible, but what does that have to do with the pirate queen?

NPC - Well I was hoping you could help me solve the mystery

Murdyk - Isn't there a guard for this sort of thing? I hate to sound mercenary but I really must find the Viridian Queen unless... you said you OWN the plantation right? Perhaps you might have some influence in this town, maybe you can ask around for me if I help you?

NPC - oh no, mine is only a middling operation at best. I was just hoping I could pay you these 15 GP for a night's work.

Murdyk - ... Umm, I guess I should help, since folks are in danger, but what if I lose my only lead, that sailor...

I guess my point with the above is that if we DO want our PCs to have real lives and reasons they either have to be fluid enough to tie into many plot hooks or vague enough to get put on hold at a moment's notice.

Incidentally our GM has asked us to make second PCs for his game. I'm thinking of making a wizard whose only ambition outside adventuring and growing her knowledge and power is crafting items for use and sale. In short she's a crafter and business woman who also goes on adventures.

I get it; Pathfinder isn't ALL about combat. PCs can measure success in goals achieved, heroic moments, etc. However I'm thinking more mechanically tonight. When it DOES come to battle, how do you KNOW you're contributing?

Is it DPR? A level 1 Halfling fighter, well optimized for Str and Dex (as much as he can be in those stats) and wielding a masterwork sling he got from a trait can hit a Ranged masterwork +10 sling (1d3 +4) attack that deals an average 6 damage, or DPR versus a CR 1 creature (14 AC per the Beastiary) of about 5.1

Is THAT successful contribution? Is that any MORE valid than a skald starting her raging song for +2 Str, +2 Con and +1 Will versus -1 AC? What about if a Witch uses his Sleep hex to take out a foe? Is that character only successful when the hex succeeds?

I'm asking because I've been called on to run a 2nd character in a campaign that just started. The GM is... interpretive with even some of the core rules. The first game session our APL 3/4 party (3 level 1 PCs - a Bloodrager, a fighter and a divine caster version of a sorcerer called a Favored Soul) went toe to toe with CR 4, 5 and even a CR 6 fight.

The GM has promised to tone it down but now I'm re-thinking what I thought of as "successful." My fighter ended up being fairly useless, focused as he is on Quickdraw and Shield Focus on his way to becoming a switch-hitter sword-and-board type.

My own personal interpretation was always this:

I am successful if either I have a 50% or better chance of dealing 1/4 the HP of a monster of my CR or my actions contribute directly and intentionally to the success of the rest of the party (buff spells, Aid Another, debuffing the enemy or using save-or-suck tactics/abilities successfully).

Am I naïve, foolish or out of touch?

I haven't run many high level games. I will say however though that as a player in and a GM of more than a few level 1-6 level Pathfinder games I'd say the GM has at least an equal stake in character success in those games to the players.

The easiest way I can break it down to the folks in my own group is through numbers and mechanics.

4 level PCs need to be optimized enough to manage a villain in a fight. Said villain can be expected to have an average AC, HP total, and at least one good attack as per the Beastiary. I try to tell my players before the first session how closely I'll be sticking to that on most fights. If I know I'm going to make a really hard game I'll tell them to optimize for combat hardcore, give a few examples of creatures they might encounter in the first game and ask that they bring their A-game for combat tactics.

If on the other hand I'm just pulling base monsters out of the Beastiaries I'll throw a out a couple examples and tell the players to make up what they want.

The final touches are always mine to make, but I have an spoken contract with my players up front: I'm actively asking for character info, backstory and player feedback. I wouldn't ask if I wasn't going to use it. Whatever you provide then I'll consider when adding those last flourishes.

In other words If I'm planning a game that starts at sea, continues onto a desert island devoid of plant life and ends with a tight, twisting dungeon delve I'll pull a sidebar with the guy that wants to run a warhorse-mounted cavalier. Between the two of us we've got some re-writing to do.

In my opinion GMs should consider their players AND their PCs before running a given adventure, especially one they're making up. If you think the PCs are optimized for combat at APL 1 that doesn't AUTOMATICALLY entitle you to replace 3 goblins with, say, 3 spriggans on the fly.

All of the above being said, I will say that many players I have are very self-centered. By this I mean these players have a vision of what they want to play. Regardless of what I tell them about the pending campaign they still make the PC. I TOLD you it'd be a primarily megadungeon campaign with a lot of Downtime for crafting; why then do I have a party consisting of a horse-riding cavalier, a druid and a desert-focused ranger? Yes, they're really cool but still.

Bottom line: all parties, players and GM, need to be respectful of one another AND the shared narrative they're creating. They all have input so they all have an equal share in making it fun and engaging in the project. The game is a collaboration; everyone should be collaborating.

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The Green Tea Gamer wrote:

I wonder if this is the appropriate place to ask this, but is anyone else annoyed when they, as a GM, spend a lot of their personal time preparing for game day, and a player (or four) shows up having done absolutely, positively, diddly squat in the intervening time, especially if they gained enough exp for a level and were supposed to level up between sessions, or go shopping between sessions, or make a major decision between sessions, and now you have to wait while they get all that done during table time?

That annoys the living crap out of me, especially when I'm a GM, but even as a player, I look at the others like, "Dude, that guy works his butt off to let us have fun, and you can't even level up in a week's time, you lazy bastard? Oh, but you had time to post on Facebook about how you were out at the bar until 4am pumping drinks into a skank that walked out with another dude? I hate you."

My gamers just simply don't respond to "inbetween game" correspondence. Between sessions I ask about planning next adventures, making magic items, leveling, etc. No one replies and then we hit the table next and my players are like "wait... where were we?"

I've never punished them, but I have had the conversation telling them it annoys me. People get busy, especially at the age and responsibility level of my players. On the other hand they cry about not having wealth by level despite having free skill ranks in professions, Downtime lasting days to weeks at a time, and at least one of my current PCs has a free crafting feat (Scribe Scroll). I've even told them I'm using the Ultimate Campaign Downtime rules; crafting would be EVEN CHEAPER.

I don't punish them. I just keep running the lean game I was before. If they don't read my emails, get the cue to scribe a dozen scrolls, and then they run out of spells 4 rooms into the dungeon and have to flee complaining they got no loot again... that's not really my fault entirely.

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I like to play martial characters.

I have no problem with stores selling magic items.
I love combat and role play equally.

It's like a trifecta of scorn...

I apologize for coming to the party late but I just found this thread. AD: I concur with your viewpoints and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Also, I like Teamwork feats in PF. I like not only what they do, but I like that they MAKE the players work as a team.

RPGs are collaborative experiences, in my opinion. Why then do SO many of my players try to "win" but optimizing their characters so extremely that there's no fight they can't solo?

Finally... I freaking LOVE Downtime. LOVE it. I could spend entire game sessions building strongholds, making magic items, talking to NPCs etc. The games for me are NOT just a series of fights leading to an epic finish.

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22. More damage

23. The naïve hope that SOMEONE out there plays like you do

24. To get the chance to come out from behind the screens and play for a change

25. Taquitos

26. To split the bill a few more ways

27. Testing the theory that EVERYONE takes Improved Initiative

28. To try out new game systems

29. Playtesting

30. To self-destruct the current campaign, blame it on the new guy(s) and then get to the new stuff that you REALLY wanted to run all along...

captain yesterday wrote:
I haven't been a player since 1989... of course I didn't play for quite a few of those years, only getting back into it in the last 6 years or so :-)

Whoa but DUDE; you haven't been a player in 6 years at all? Don't you get burnout? How do you keep at it for all that time?

I'm with Pan on this one: it depends on the group. After 30+ years of being the default GM I tend to be very "engaged" as a player. That is, I know I like it when players take an active role in the game, have personal goals, use tactics in combat and try to make plot leaps or answer questions out loud. This is what I do then as a player.

This doesn't always go over well with some groups.

One game, as a player, we had a witch tied up in a cellar. My personal character was at another location. The GM seemed to be floundering with what to do about the witch when I rolled a Knowledge: Arcana roll with my guy at the other site. The GM asked why I was rolling and I said "well this is where we took out the witch. Wouldn't I know something about them if I made a roll? Don't witches usually come with familiars?"

The GM had forgotten the witch's imp familiar.

Suddenly a big smile comes over the guy's face and he turns to the 2 players whose PCs are in the cellar. What followed was a hard fight of these two, with no magic, trying desperately to locate an invisible assailant in a cluttered basement. I mentioned stuff to the GM about Tiny size versus Medium in cramped quarters, mentioned to the players how there's tons of dirt and soil to throw in the earthen floor, and generally made a nuisance of myself. Not surprisingly I was not asked back.

On the flipside it can be really rewarding. On a few occasions I've directed traffic in combat and helped folks really take advantage of terrain. Reminding fellow PCs with high Climb skills or a Climb speed that if they're standing on something while attacking they get a +1 in melee for higher ground goes a long way toward being the go to guy in fights.

I guess what it comes down to for me is that GMing is easier than playing. I know that sounds contradictory but here's what I mean. When I'm a player I only have control over my guy. I can suggest things that others can do to enhance the current encounter or scenario but this usually ends negatively for me - probably more of a crappy personality on my part than anything to do with gaming.

As a GM though, I'm free to create on the fly. If you make up a few encounters and some key info of where the plot starts and where you want it to eventually get to, you've got a game. Plug-and-play details and encounters as you go and let the players get there, all the while making up whatever you want to as you go.

Still in all, I like playing. It's not control thing; I'm not trying to be the leader or the alpha at the table or anything. At least, I don't THINK it is but a psychologist might tell me differently. Bottom line when I'm a player I like getting to be part of a team. That's the ONE thing I do miss when I'm GMing.

When you're a player you're one of a few set to the challenge of facing the entire gameworld together. There's a kinship between the PCs and some bit of that translates to the players themselves. It's lonely being a GM sometimes. My characters tend to be battlefield control arcane types, helpful halflings, or classic heal/buff/revitalize divine types. I LIKE aiding my team.

As a GM my "team" is all fictional: NPCs, the villain's organization, etc. Essentially I'm an army of one, all by myself, watching a few of my friends bond with each other over the shared experience of surviving tough fights, achieving goals or otherwise overcoming the odds.

TL/DR: bottom line, GMing is easy but lonely work. Being a player has it's rewards but there's a fine line between helpful teammate and annoyingly metagaming control-freak. In the end I'm usually the GM and I'd anticipate it'll probably stay that way.

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Several ways:

1. Settle all rolls with drinking contests
2. Use your origami skills and construct paper dice
3. Feats of strength
4. Guess a number
5. Rock, paper scissors
6. Carve dice from wood or bone
7. Open a wound and see how many drops of blood fall
8. Collect a number of paper wads and shoot baskets; the number shot you fail on is the number rolled

... or you can accept that should ALL of these circumstances come to pass simultaneously it probably means that none of you really wanted to game tonight anyway. In that case pack up your books and leave by whatever mode of transport brought you to this desolate locale.

Better yet, take the other gamers with you. Go out. See a local show; watch a movie together; grab some food, coffee or (age permitting) a drink and gripe about how the campaign REALLY went downhill when you stopped coordinating who brought the 1 set of communal dice to the run-down cabin in the woods where you all started meeting after that anonymous invite on suggested the place.

Y'know, that place in the middle of nowhere with no one around for miles, impossible to find civilization from in a reasonable amount of driving distance, that doesn't get Wi-Fi so you all stopped bringing devices, that sits at the edge of a cemetery, next to a haunted lake, run-down mine and abandoned amusement park? Come to think of it, this bar has an awful lot of lovely people with double sets of holes in their necks. Weird that the "core books" for this campaign were the Necronomicon, the Naturo Demonto and the Book of Shadows but whatever. Just down your drinks and get back to the cabin like that weird gypsy lady said outside.

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Thread Necro!!!

I love me some sandboxy type play. I think the hardest thing about running a sandbox game is motivating and engaging my players. The whole thing that makes it a "sandbox" for me personally is that the players drive the story forward with their decisions while the gameworld continues reacting in the background.

For example right now I have a game that has a main plot of exploring the wilds and finding out why dragons have returned. That's a huge and vague plot, not one you can just walk down in a straight line. As such the PCs have chosen to join and remain affiliated with an adventurer's guild.

The first couple of games there was a specific mission: find a locale in the wilds and clear it of kobolds and blight. Even this was too big to just railroad, so the players took a couple approaches. First they scouted the locale, found it, and tested the site's initial defenses. Barely surviving this recon they pulled back and hid in the wilds.

While hunting in the woods I arbitrarily rolled a wilderness locale: a shallow cave with dried blood on the entry. I was feeling saucy so I gave it an occult/horror feel but otherwise there was no encounter, just a site. The players seized on it and the next thing I knew there was a cult side plot.

I'd completely forgotten that one of the PCs had an evil cult in their backstory until the player reminded me in the moment. I ran with it, stole a village I'd written up for another game and situated the cult there. Wham-bam, we had a couple of adventures where the PCs saved this village from evil! Best of all it tied into the PC's backstory so the player was really dialed in.

When they finally got back after the kobolds they had a little extra loot from the village they'd saved. This ended up making a solid difference and the PCs were able to push through clearing the place out in 2 game sessions encompassing one long day of battle. They came back to town exhausted but victorious. Now they're off on a follow up plot from the cult thing tied into resolving the one PC's actual backstory.

I have written encounters and some plot, but basically the players are making choices (like missions from the guild or pursuing personal plots) and the world is just reacting. Fun times!

Something I say to my kids all the time: I can't MAKE you do X, but I can make you regret not doing it.

When dealing with my kids, "X" is something like homework, cleaning their room or taking out the trash the first time I ask. With your players you could just substitute not cheating.

Don't need an Improved Familiar if you're willing to spend a feat.

1. Alter Self: cast on familiar to make it into something with hands/speech

2. Evolved Familiar: Skilled (Use Magic Device): familiar now has +8 on UMD

I forget which ones, but some standard familiars have an 11 Cha to start. By level 3 when you get Alter Self you have hopefully spent 2 ranks on Use Magic Device. Those, plus the one feat, means your familiar has a +10 and can now use wands requiring a DC 20 check simply by taking 10.

Sure, you waste one round turning your familiar into a humanoid, but what is that against at least 3 minutes at a time basically doubling your actions after that one round? Personally this is the route I'm going with a crafter-type wizard. She has an Owl (Cha 6) so I'll need additional buffing to get it using wands but I figure it's worth it.

I tend to run my games for the players. I also generally homebrew and only put a ton of work into boss monsters and NPCs. This means the majority of the action in my games is mechanically generic, made interesting only by setting and tactical choices made by participants.

If a player wants to play a charming fighter, that's totally fine with me. So long as at 1st level he can reliably hit a 14 AC (he has a +4 or better to hit) and those hits can deal an average of 4 HP (average monster at CR 1 has 15 HP, so an average 4-person party needs every party member to deal about 4 HP each to bring it down) then he's a useful member of the group.

This is why at 1st level you can get away with a non-optimized wizard in my game. With the right familiar choices or spells and good use of scrolls you can easily have 2 combatants for the price of one and delivering upwards of 5.5 average damage right at 1st level and going up from there.

On the other hand though certain "non-optimal" choices tend to make your character stick out like a sore thumb. An animal-hating druid for example. While there's nothing inherent in the mechanical choice certain extreme departures from the class can lead to players doing everything they can to be the opposite of said class.

I find that players who make choices like this, like say a merman who wants to adventure on land and takes a spellcaster who constantly needs to use their spells to be a fish out of water, tend to center the game on themselves. I have an issue with selfish players in my games and I generally try to counsel players away from extreme game play or mechanical choices that detract from the rest of the group.

Of course, the same could be said for extreme optimizers...

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First and foremost: this thread is exactly why you always have a grippli in the party. 20' climb plus the racial traits Jumper and Glider. Now you have something that can take 10 on any climb or jump check, is always considered to have the 10' running start in a jump and can glide to add 5' horizontally to every 10' dropped, all without magic. Otherwise:

- Spells: Animate Rope, Fly, Summon Monster, Obscuring Mist, Enlarge Person, any Transmutation that achieves a Large or larger form, Long Arm for extra 5' reach specifically with arms, Levitate, Jump, Air Walk, or any Transmutation whose form grants wings/flight.

- Equipment: rope and grappling hook, Tanglefoot Bag, net, spiked chain, or any ranged weapon. I know ranged weapons weren't your thing, but as a GM I'd have allowed my players to attempt anchoring a rope into the creature by firing an arrow/bolt into him.

Finally if I were the GM, there's the Fastball Special as perfected by masters Nikolovich and Logan of Westchester County, NY, USA. Essentially your barbarian/bloodrager/fighter/strong guy grabs the guy with the highest CMB who is Medium sized or smaller and chucks him up at the creature. You're making a ranged touch with an Improvised weapon which is oversized, so -8 to the attack to begin with and then your range increments are 10' so a 20' throw would suffer a total of -10 before feats/buffs. Still if you hit then the CMB guy can use the throw as a Charge action to gain a +2 on the maneuver, either Drag or Reposition or a good old fashioned Grapple to attempt to get the villain where you need him to be.

A thought experiment: your Valet familiar is considered to have the same item creation feats as you right? It also has your skill ranks? What if you transform it into a form that can hold things and speak, then have it work on the items. You just need to cast the spells. Since it can work on said items while you're adventuring you could have the creature working by day while you battle evil, say in an extradimensional space like a haversack or something, then you add the appropriate spells at key junctures in the process.

Alternately if you've got downtime the two of you could be working back to back but on different projects. He's writing a scroll, you're brewing a potion; you're putting the finishing touches on a wand, she's hemming a magic cloak.

So I've modified things a bit and have crafted a feat selection through 20th level:


Combat/Crafter wizard build
Wizard (Universalist/Arcane Builder)
Traits Dangerously Curious, Helpful
Owl Familiar; Valet Archetype, Feat: Familiar Focus
Level 1 Distracting Charge, Exotic Weapon Proficency: Net
Level 3 Craft Wand, Evolved Familiar: Skilled (Use Magic Device)
Level 5 Craft Wondrous Item, Improved Spell Sharing
Level 7 Escape Route
Level 9 Outflank
Level 10 Craft Rod
Level 11 Overwhelm
Level 13 Pack Attack
Level 15 Idealize, Broken Wing Gambit
Level 17 Paired Opportunists
Level 19 Coordinated Reposition
Level 20 Craft Staff

So here's how the build shakes out: Rather than focus on a lot of things the familiar can do I'm solely focused on me and the owl as fighting partners. I'll take a lot of buff spells as well as spells that focus on debuffing enemies. I've also got a net through a bonus half-elf feat at 1st level to use as a low to mid level debuff.

With the Helpful trait the goal is to get to within melee and grant my familiar +3 to attack. Also from first level on I've got Distracting Charge so the familiar charges, I get +2 to attack; I move up with a net and a weapon hurling the net and entangling. This in turn improves my familiar's ability to hit and allows us both to move into flanking and ultimately with me adding an Aid Another bonus makes my familiar an accurate attacker.

After mid levels now we're playing off each other. With Escape Route we're moving around one another with impunity; with Outflank we're using Flanking and Aid Another to shore up a terrible BAB. Overwhelm won't always work but when it does we won't have to worry about positioning, we'll just Outflank all the big boys.

The nice thing is with the Evolved Familiar feat my little buddy will be able to UMD wands and scrolls of low levels. Between this and Improved Spell Sharing we can tag team the buffing pre-fight and finish off by assuming our most powerful forms and adding a Touch attack to my familiar for extra damage.

Of course I'll need plenty of HP, AC, items to bolster these and attacks, and finally lots of scrolls and wands to fill in the blanks. Spell choice will be vital. What do you all think?

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I do this all the time. I don't act out any of the personalities, but I lay out fight scenes and go through them. See I write all my own adventures for my homebrew so the normal process is:

1. I set up an adventure, following the basic guidlines of the CRB, Bestiaries, and the GM's Guide.

2. I add/tweak some encounters; re-skin monsters, add/change powers and feats, etc.

3. I play-test what I've made with a quartet of generic PCs. For the purpose of these tests the party is generally not as optimized as I know how to make them.

4. If the fights result in TPKs or the clues are impossible to find with standard die rolls, etc then I start watering it down; if I go through the fights a couple times and my generics barely break a sweat, I tinker a bit more.

Note: during these sessions anywhere possible I use averages. I assume 10's on skill checks, average damages and have everyone taking 10's on saves as well. If this yields a cake-walk for the PCs the first time through, then I use some die rolls. If it's STILL too easy, that's when the revisions happen.

It's not that I'm playing the game solo, but more along the lines of running simulations to see if my games work. This is how I figured out that swapping out a wyvern's sting for a tail slap and a breath weapon was devastating to what I'd consider an average level 4 party.

So to keep pace with the dozens of scrolls I'll need at 1st and 2nd level to make my familiar viable in combat until I get wands and Alter Self... I need to take a MONTH to scribe them?

Claxon wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Hogeyhead wrote:

So I'm playing in a AP (serpent skull) where we as a party have around 50-70% of the recommended wealth for level 10. We are decently powerful and the GM is having a tough time with the encounters finding that the team makes short work out of most fights, so I doubt we are going to get a boost, other than what is written in the campaign and the last several sessions have been rather dry in terms of loot, with the exception of a wand of enervation with 10 charges remaining, which I am loath to sell cause it's cool and buying a fully charged one would be impractical.

Although we are doing well and we are powerful, I feel the fact that in the entire party we have been for the most part neglecting the big 6 in favor of more interesting items will start to show.

How do you guys deal with below average wealth? Any tips for how to deal with it?

Average wealth is for a theoretically average campaign. By your own testimony, you're doing just fine, actually more than just fine with the gear level you have now. WBL is a theorectical tool, not an absolute rule written in stone. For that matter, so is the Big Six.

Agreed with X. By your own admission you're already strong enough that you're rolling over encounters. If I were your GM, I would have no incentive to give you more wealth or allow it. If you were to take crafting feats I would enforce the recommended bonus of 25% bonus wealth (by level) per crafting feat up to 50%. And, anything made for your companions would come out of that extra share.

This is about balance, you're already too strong by your own admission. And wealth by level is an idea of average balance, but not all AP's are equally challenging. And that can change based on party composition as well.

How do you deal with this situation? You don't. Do nothing. You're GM is already having trouble, no need to exacerbate the situation.

Sorry, I somehow skimmed over that part. If the op's party is capable of dealing with all current threats, there's no real reason to match WBL. I agree: do nothing.

If however the monsters/villains start scaling up in power level while your party resources remain somewhat stagnant, revisit this thread.

Ok then... the Ranger instead.

The point is crafting is the way to get up to WBL. Anyone in here play a wizard that didn't trade away Scribe Scroll? If so, when was the last time you actually made a scroll? Or made a scroll while adventuring?

Ok maybe it's not the folks in this thread but in my experience I have had multiple sets of players who never use their crafting skills and feats. Yeah; skills too.

Oh and I thought of another way out of this too: Appraise.

You go into a dungeon, say a ruined tower with tunnels below. Who lived there originally? Probably someone with money. Got access to Mending or better yet Make Whole? Start annoying your GM by using Appraise on everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Recover light fixtures, make rubbings of the wall reliefs, mend or make whole the furniture and haul it away. Make maps and artistic renderings and then sell them on your return to town. Scribe books about the adventure site and sell them as well.

Start a business; form a band; deliver professional lectures or pull some light banditry. There are a LOT of ways to get some extra cash if you get proactive.

Making your own gear, magic items, and earning cash from ventures even when you're not in town all deliver some of the resources you're missing. Heck just taking a couple ranks in Craft: Alchemy and making sacks of Acid Flasks every week saves you something!

Whatever the case, you can only create 1 item/day. That begs the question: how many spells can you actually fit on a scroll?

@DM Blake: I think I like your suggestion as it is the most elegant I can think of. I had kobolds sniping in a game; they took the feat Kobold Sniper so they had only a -10 penalty. They were behind a rock blind of low boulders attacking from roughly 60' with a total Stealth check before any situational modifiers of +11. So the order of actions should've gone like this:

Round 1 for the kobolds: currently in stealth; PCs have failed Perception checks. Standard - x3 arrows fired; Move - 5' steps combined with Stealth checks suffering a -10 Penalty

A couple ranged attacking PCs this round declare readied actions. The other PCs try getting closer to the kobolds and the round is over.

Round 2
- Kobolds: Standard - x3 arrows fired
- PC 1 and 2: Readied - free Perception; if successful ranged attack against kobolds in Cover
- Kobolds: Move - 5' steps combined with Stealth checks suffering a -10 penalty

I tried keeping it this simple but the order of operations got all messed up and eventually the kobolds got sloppy, stopped sniping and just ranged attacked from Cover. They weren't hitting anymore (not attacking Flat Footed foes) but the PCs couldn't hit them (wiht cover they were rocking a 19 AC) so eventually the barbarian forded the stream between them, charged up the beach raging and smashed through the blind, hacking the kobolds to pieces.

I think I like the above order better than the chaos I had in my game!

So I know the most combat-intense familiar archetype is the Mauler. However I have an idea of crafting a half-elf character that uses her familiar as a second set of eyes since she's giving up Keen Senses for something else. As a result I'm using a Valet familiar archetype.

Please note: we were allowed to ROLL our stats so don't freak out over the numbers. The only stipulation by the GM is that we couldn't go over an 18 to start.

Wizard (universalist/Arcane Builder)
Str 13
Dex 16
Con 18 (16 +2 racial)
Int 18
Wis 14
Cha 14
Traits: Dangerously Curious, Reactionary
Level 1: Evolved Familiar - Skilled (Perception)
Level 1 bonus: Scribe Scroll
Level 3: Lookout
Level 3 bonus: Extended Spell
Level 5: Evolved Familiar - Skilled (Use Magic Device)
Level 5 bonus: Craft Wand

This is as far as my thought process got me. At this point my familiar, an owl, will have a +18 Perception before any buffs. As well I can cast Alter Self on the familiar, put it in a humanoid form, and use it as a Quicken Spell kind of effect. With a +11 Use Magic Device by 5th level I can hand off wands or even level 1 scrolls to it and double my spells cast in a round.

If anyone has any critiques of where to take the build from here or changes I should make I'm all ears.

I always think it's funny when folks say "environment." That's easy to say as a GM but think in terms of a player. A player is going to listen to key elements of the environment and ignore everything else. You tell a player "you're entering a swampy area" and they immediately start looking for ways to mitigate all of the hazards of the area. Doing so generally removes the "interest" of said environment.

If you're going to say "environment" you have to either surprise the PCs (you come around the corner in the dungeon and there's... a MANGROVE room!) or you have to create settings that the PCs can't simply magic their way out of.

For a GM we're all about making things fun and interesting. For a player its about efficient conflict resolution, resource management, and ALSO some fun. Remember you can lead a PC to water; you can't make them jump in it to fight a bunch of Reefclaws.

I think another thing to do is set a tone in the game where mindlessly murdering everything isn't ok. Now this too won't work with EVERY group of players. What I'm talking about is that kobolds, goblins, necromancers and liches are people too (sort of), in spite of all their evil.

In RL you can't just walk up on someone's property, kick open the door and begin murdering them just because they broke a local law. In Pathfinder that's EXACTLY what happens. Change the dynamic; have the NPC hire the PCs not to go MURDER the monsters but capture them and bring them to justice or just drive them away or make a deal with them to be nicer.

Can you cite the faq please?

How does a readied action play in?

What does VMC stand for?

Isn't there a witch archetype that gets vermin affinity and ignores Distraction ability while existing w/in a swarm? Give them either a spell to assume a form the same as their swarm or a few levels of Druid for widshaping into their chosen swarm and case closed right?

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