Prestidigitation doesn't work this way unfortunately, but that doesn't mean it isn't useless. It could still be used to locate an invisible creature by:
- creating a rain of fine dust/chalk/flour over an area, up to 1 cubic foot/round
- soil or stain a detected creature
- summon up an easily breakable pot in a square that, when stepped on reveals an invisible creature
Also you could create a fine mist with Create Water and potentially see the outline of the creature. Of course, since there are no rules governing most of these uses of the spells your GM is fully within rights to say no or that they work but don't provide any mechanical benefit to loacating/dealing with the invisible creature. Still I really liked this example.
I think this is a fair encounter b/cause by 7th level some monsters are going to be invisible. Just like some monsters will be immune to fire, damaged only by magic weapons or have Spell Resistance. If you plan and build for those, why not plan for invisibility too?
I'll tell you what Rotating Lever, that's EXACTLY what I've come to realize about my own gaming group. I personally am the kind of GM that wants to craft compelling, epic worlds and fictions, but my players are the type that like venting about work, cracking jokes, and occasionally paying attention to the game. Their idea of plot is the paragraph-long setup to a Descent scenario.
We've found a good compromise in 5-room dungeons like what you're talking about. I tell a condensed but still occasionally epic tale, they have more than enough time to unwind, and we all walk away winners.
These same players all seem to enjoy megadungeons. This makes it easy on me since their "5-room dungeon" scenarios can all be fit into the same general site in the game world. Every so often for variety I send them on a mission somewhere else or craft an off-formula adventure, but this is most of my games.
The cherry on top for me is that I get to string together the different adventures into a meandering narrative. Adventure 1: the PCs rescue some victims from a dungeon cell. Adventure 2: the party goes back to the dungeon for a magic sword. Adventure 3: the rescued victims ask the party's help cleansing a nearby shrine of evil.
Turns out the shrine was tainted in the first place when the sword was stolen. The PCs return the sword and cleanse the shrine. This in turn awakens draconic power in one of the rescued victims who now remains in place at the shrine. She now acts like a rest-stop for the next few dungeon delves and the draconic shrine-keeper can provide resources for future games. Everyone wins!
Campbels Soup Bird: I know exactly how you feel. Fortunately I'm a college drop out with only a Marvel Comics Science background, so that "magic" stuff never really gets in my way. However I do go on ad nauseum with backgrounds, fluff and minutia that my players don't read.
For my current Homebrew I got REALLY disciplined and trimmed it down to a 17-page overview for my players. I laid out major/minor cities in the region w/only a paragraph each; I talked up the history both ancient and recent; I put out vague cultural and social differnces and added a cheapo hex map from a free mapper online. This whole document was bent on the players starting off in the city of Dunspar.
At our first sessions my players all admitted they barely skimmed it and they wanted a megadungeon crawl based out of a small town.
Needless to say I haven't done anything quite as expansive in the 2 years since. Still, this thread is about whether or not I fantasize about doing it again. My answer is an enthusiastic YES!
Matt Thomason wrote:
Seconded. I try to tell my own players this or a version of this when I start a new campaign. If I wanted an audience to tell a story to, I'd read to my girls. When I run a game I require participants, not spectators. In return I promise to be open and responsive to the efforts and motivations of my players. Its a simple social contract but it works most of the time.
I've had the misfortune to game w/several "selfish" gamers. However I've had more team players than self-centered folks, helping to foster my own beliefs. As I've illustrated in this thread, I'm not blameless in bad behavior. I can say though that this is one of the joys of being a GM instead of a player; the action of the role sort of lends itself to being concerned for the others at the table.
My own answer for me is simple: if I'm doing something that hurts others, I should NOT do that anymore.
The premise of this thread is who's fun comes first at the gaming table. My counter would be: I have fun when OTHERS are having fun, not in spite of them. In other words if my fellow gamers are having a sucky time, I have an active desire to fix that.
I've always thought this was an inborn human instinct that most people have. I also (naively) believe everyone is basically good. I haven't yet grown so cynical as to think that people are selfish or cruel and only do nice things for others so they can get things.
Sometimes I fail at this. Sometimes I run a crap game that I thought was awesome; sometimes a player comes to me with a problem and I tell that player its on them, not me. I'm no saint and I don't claim to be. But when push comes to shove I'd rather chuck a game and fall on my sword rather than intentionally cheese off a fellow gamer at my table.
Again, I just naturally assumed this of everyone I game with. I'm throwing this into the universe: please validate my beliefs.
RD: what were you really looking for in this thread? None of us know you or your gaming group well enough to comment on the social dynamic, you refute suggestions on why this MIGHT be happening and so far I don't think you've commented on any of the advised solutions except to say you've tried them.
Also a poster upthread just reminded us that your fellow players have also pulled similar switches or game-mucking but with no recourse. Your GM has threatened you w/expulsion but frankly you don't seem overly concerned.
So, I don't get it. Its a problem but not really and you're already trying things to fix it. Your builds on other threads show you as MORE than capable of building hybrids and you state it isn't an optimizing thing anyway since your fellow players have outdone you consistently. I choose to disbelieve, but that's my choice.
Maybe you're just hitting a rough patch w/your fellow players socially. It happens. Every once in a while people get annoyed. This brings us back to the central piece of advice on every thread in every forum:
Talk w/your group
IDK man, maybe I'm way off base w/my assessment. Maybe I missed something in the thread. It just seems like you want one thing (2 things I guess - a martial at low and a caster at high) that annoys your gaming group but you're unlikely to change. So decide what you're willing to compromise or decide to accept judgment. Everything else is just wasted energy.
While Marthkus makes his point rather bluntly its still a good point. So long as your players show up to the forum you've already got part of their buy in; you as the GM should let them decide for their characters why they'd be somewhere.
Your OP suggested you want all the themes addressed in the AP. While I think that's a lofty goal (the APs as said upthread are meant to be expansive for multiple plays), who's to say to what degree these themes are explored by the players? That's for THEM to decide. If you're narrating those themes directly you might as well just be telling them a story.
- Take a break; give someone else a turn at GM
- Read a lot as suggested up thread. It'll scratch part of the narrative itch
- Force yourself not to play a GMPC; instead really inhabit the NPCs and sentient monsters of your game
- Set yourself a goal of collaboration, not narration for character gen
I somehow missed point 5. Here are some sample reasons for exploration that my players are using in my homebrew. Feel free to adapt them to RA:
Paladin's father was a famous weapon smith with a magic anvil. Kobolds and dwarf mercenaries raided his village and stole the anvil. Common knowledge puts the mercenaries running a settlement in the dungeon confines and rumor says that kobolds coming out of the dungeon have masterwork/magic weapons w/his father's anvil mark on them
Dwarf cleric's home hall and foundry were destroyed by kobolds. They raided for the stores of mithril the hall had. Some great power is being used to forge powerful evil weapons now in the dungeon
Ranger has heard legends of the dungeon and craves heroic status for himself. He's looking to make his mark on the world through his adventures there.
This thread is making me want to go and buy Rappan Athuk. I don't generally run pre-made material. I do however have a megadungeon I'm running in my homebrew and some of the lessons kind of apply.
As for quests, as Jeff said above look to your PCs' backgrounds for these. Even if your players aren't creating elaborate backstories you can use ANYTHING they seem to value for fodder. For instance I have a dwarf cleric of Saranrae in my homebrew w/virtually no backstory other than a destroyed home hall, the fact he was once a mason, and the word "kobolds" but I do know his character is all about using fire and healing. I'm going to put in a holy relic, like a font but instead of water it generates heat infused with positive energy.
I'll have his church come to him, tell him it's in a specific area, and have him be recruited to find it. This personally involves him and the other PCs won't mind coming along since they're into the dungeon crawl/team of characters thing.
I don't know much about RA but I do know there's a small tie into Orcus. You might have unique undead that the PCs are hired to find and destroy; you could have the cult's activity involve a slaver ring that needs breaking; perhaps there is a force looking to bind Orcus for themselves and dupe the party into hunting for a rare metal found in quantity in the dungeon so the masterminds to re-forge into Orcus Bindings.
Whatever the case, the other thing I've noticed is that my PCs at level 1, even optimized for dungeoneering, can't go more than a few encounters before needing to rest. As such I've provided a couple options:
1. The PCs found a kobold brothel staffed by LN courtesans. Yes, it sounds weird but the reality was the PCs paid their coin, got a night's rest, and were kept safe thanks to the discretion of the den. They then returned to town with one of the courtesans who wanted out of the dungeon; she will now become a contact for the PCs in their home city.
2. The home city of the PCs is only a half-day's walk. This is important because then they can reasonably return there so long as they can make it to the surface. This is why...
3. There are groups who've created safe havens in the dungeon. There's an enigmatic holy order that actively supports adventuring parties and holds down an underground complex. There is also a settlement, classified in the PF rules as a Village, but with a quality that increases the marketplace values there. The place is a dwarven hall created and mainly staffed by a large mercenary company. Here the PCs can rest, buy/sell small gear, and gather info. The dwarves will also deal with them for admittance to and from other parts of the dungeon but my party might not want to since these dwarves also work the same deals with kobolds.
The one other thing that a couple of my players have enjoyed is that the kobolds in my dungeon have a society and not everything in the dungeon is a slavering beast looking to kill/eat them. My players enjoyed parlaying with courtesans, learning that there's an evil kobold making scrolls out of people and hearing of the different locales in the dungeon. My advice then would be try to work in some NPCs in the dungeon who AREN'T evil or villains. Its not that a guy helps them while secretly plotting to destroy them later or whatever; maybe have your players meet someone in RA that genuinely wants to help.
Finally I'd say break up the slog of the dungeon with side quests. If you don't feel like creating unique sites/adventures you could still use the physical locale of Rappan Athuk, but perhaps create unique side plots like the Diablo games. In other words, when the party drags themselves back to town to heal up and sell loot, have them learn that a local water supply has been fouled. Said water supply runs near or through RA somewhere and this is where the taint is coming from. An NPC can take them right to it somehow and it's a quick, level-appropriate romp for the PCs to do some good and help out back in their non-dungeon lives.
However if you DO feel like running the PCs out of the dungeon, do that. Throw em a side quest to gather ingredients to cure a disease; send the party to a nearby village where a bunch of kobolds have sapped a wizard's tower; maybe have them seek out somehting needed to keep going in the dungeon, but put the McGuffin in the heart of a fey-tainted woodland.
Last but certainly not least, don't forget about downtime. Seriously, force your players to take some downtime here and there, especially in a PBP or online gaming scenario. These players may burn out fast if all they do is quest, loot, rest, repeat. Sometimes they need to just chat with NPCs; wander the town; make up a house or business for themselves. So long as the players feel invested in whatever region surrounds RA and immersed in the fictional background of that region, the more the players will have a real desire to keep going through the slog.
If the necromancer has DONE something to merit a specific response targeting only them, then here are some suggestions:
- Channel Energy: positive for damage, negative for reversing the minion's control
- Chill Touch, Disrupt Undead and other minor anti-undead effects built into traps, spells, and magic items
- AoE spells work great against clustered minions when employed by PCs; why not use them ON the PCs?
- Ghouls, ravens, vultures. Consider that these and other creatures are carrion consumers
- Shatter for skeletons; some kind of rot for zombies. Destroy their physical forms
- Entangle, Web, or other movement hindrances
- Fire; it is the great equalizer against the supernatural
- Maneuvers are a good way to deal with individual undead. Trip or Sunder their natural attacks
- Grease or other spells that provoke Ref saves
- Raise Dead cast on an undead destroys it (or it did in older editions; I don't know about PF)
- "Protection from Undead", a unique form of Protection From Evil
- Hide From Undead, high level sorcerers with Undead bloodline and other abilities that let enemies blend with or be ignored by undead
That's all I've got off the top of my head. You must have your own reasons for targeting a PC so specifically but I try not to use such tactics unless by a recurring villain. As for targeting the other characters I think we'd need more info on the campaign.
Billy of the Wood: sorry dude if I've gone overboard w/the nicknames. Its a habit I picked up after I realized just how silly some folks got w/their screen names. It didn't help at all when I got sucked into a thread game here where the idea was to nickname folks based on their avatar.
And you're right: it doesn't matter what we think of each other's ideas. If the OP can use some, it's all good. Incidentally I wasn't trying to compare so much as contrast. I think its cool having your main campaign villain be a big huge power in plain sight. Everyone in the kingdom KNOWS the king is a dragon and that the yearly taxes and virgin lottery goes to feed his unholy appetites. Everyone KNOWS it, but what can we do about it? We're not heroes...
The coolest thing about a campaign like that Dubba-ya is that when the PCs get high enough level to go toe-to-toe w/the dragon they better have a plan on how to rule when he's gone. Yes, the dragon's evil but he's LAWFUL evil; he's kept the kingdom together and running. Once he's gone that void may just destroy everything.
You're right. Here's the highlight reel:
A to the Z: you say that NO ONE would appreciate the arcane stuff? What if you had an inquisitor bent on stamping out an attempted Rise of the Runelords for it would be a great heresy on the land? What if there was a fighter who was after rune power for a wizard to put it in his axe? What about an oracle of time who is obsessed with history?
Or what if it was just creepy ruins? Would you players have less fun?
I get it that you've spent time, money and other resources on. Your players respect that and if you talk with them they would probably thank you for your effort. They might want to feel like equals though, especially when its an AP (completely out of their hands).
- Talk w/your players
(Voice of Will Arnett or the Movie Trailer Guy)
I'm sorry. I'm not making fun Oakenstein, it's just the way it sounded in my head.
But I agree w/you - dragons SHOULD be played as something more than monsters sitting on mountains of gold. I don't think I'd make them rulers, but that's just me. I don't go in for big government in my homebrews. Currently I have a gargantuan land that was one a great empire that was broken by an overking of sorts whose knights went out on a series of crusades over 2 centuries ago to break the oppressive rule.
So these knights went out and won the day, but they were as bad as the imperials; they plundered and took spoils from wherever they "liberated" and didn't bother to stick around to rule. Those knights that DID take over were somewhat chaotic or at least interested in themselves more than Overking Thane. So now the lands of Karnoss (my homebrew) is a vast land of independent regions. They technically owe fealty to a distant and feeble monarch, but none pay this ruler much heed. Each region is large enough to be its own small kingdom, so each region basically governs itself. Since no one's willing to risk civil war just yet they all call themselves baronies, marchlands and that kind of thing.
That's what I envision dropping intelligent dragons into.
Now, let's say you have, say, a 300-mile stretch of trade through a vale bordered by hills, coastal highlands, boreal woods and mountains? There's no king and the dragon doesn't necessarily want to RULE anyone as a baron. What's a canny dragon to do? I've got the idea to make him a merchant lord.
Hear me out W.O. What if dragons were smart and powerful, but purposely didn't let themselves get seen as nukes? In other words, what if they hid in plain sight like hags, vampires or other evil NPC masterminds? Take the sample Adult Green Dragon from Bestiary 1. He's hyper-intellectual (Int 16, Wisdom 17, Cha 16), he's got the ability to change shape by SLA 5/day, and he's survived for roughly 150 years. He's seen the last gasps of the old empire, the rise to power of the young barons and the slow march into this current, dark age. He might have even helped it along by using powers like woodland stride, water breathing and entangle at will to frame druids and rangers and perpetuate the isolation of communities.
You could STILL have high civilization like you wanted Annie Williamoakley. Its just that the civilization would be more stand alone, more isolated. Small, well-developed city states along the Trade Way with no one of them powerful enough to take control of the region. All the while trade goes ever on; profit and gain for the merchants even while the local nobles are at one another's throats. And WHO are these merchants? Well one of them is our green dragon, in disguise.
Now conveniently in my homebrew I've rigged up a scenario where it's not uncommon to see kobold NPCs. They are taken by adventurers as part of the spoils after raids on the megadungeon I designed. Some of these adventurers use the kobolds taken as slaves; some of THESE are eventually freed by the bleeding-heart freebooters. A fringe subculture of these second-class citizens has developed over the past 40 years and now these free-kobolds work as laborers, night-riders and other unappealing jobs.
Anyway, perhaps the dragon-merchant has a handful of these kobolds with hundreds more stashed along the road in bolt-holes, mini-dungeons or hidden in cities. They are not a great big Red Army the dragon means to "nuke" on the land; rather they are a vast network of spies and informants used to further the dragon's insidious plots. Fly over and "nuke" a village for it's spoils? Heck no; my kobolds raid the farmsteads a few days ahead of my caravan while also stealing all the grain they can. When I show up I just HAPPEN to have stores of grain (repacked into new sacks of course) that I sell for a fortune, robbing the village blind. When they can't pay, I take a few of the women. One I'll eat, another I'll mate with, and the third is promised to a cult working to destabilize the next city state.
And the caravan rolls ever on and on...
You're currently running ROTL. I've only read book one and not had the opportunity to play the AP yet, but from what I understood a major theme is
Spoiler:What if NO ONE in the party were an arcane spellcaster?
the exploration of Varisia and the discovery of Thassilonian runes and magic.
No seriously, do a little exercise with me. Take a deep breath, relax, and think: "what if NONE of the players who rolled into Sandpoint for the festival had ANY arcane powers at all?"
Would that derail the AP? Would your players feel any more or less dialed into the storyline? What would honestly change, other than the way in which some enemies were fought?
Adherence to plot, theme and canon is good, if you can get it from your players. I run homebrews and let me tell you: you have it EASY by comparison :) In an AP, especially in Golarion you have a whole world w/cool art, maps, and in the case of ROTL even comics. I have to hand-make all that and my players STILL need help with immersion.
But when your decisions override or in any way force the players to make choices just to maintain immersion, then you've taken the game out of their hands. It's no longer collaborative; they're just watching you play.
So give them their choices back and see where it takes you.
I KNOW from first hand experience how frightening that is. You have a book, an AP, and several other sources that tell you EXACTLY what villages are near Sandpoint, what gods are commonly worshipped there and what to expect once the PCs arrive. You want to follow that to the letter and that is certainly admirable. But your players are just overgrown children. I don't mean that in the derogatory. Instead I mean they have that childlike desire to wander and explore and play make-believe. And what happens when dad comes along and says "No! Pick up your toys and do it like THIS!"
Now Vic above has a good point. Guiding your players into immersion in the gameworld is a good thing. But the key word there is "guiding."
Decide JUST how controlling your being by taking a pulse check from your gaming group. Ask them how they feel about your decisions, your play style. Be honest with them and yourself; ask for that honesty in return. If this is really an issue and you still want to do something about it, here's a simple solution to try; one that I'm STILL getting the hang of after 30+ years of gaming:
Say it to everything, or at least say some version of it. Can I jump the pit, swinging on the rope hanging there, and ALSO draw my hand axe so that, when I land next to the kobold I get my 1 attack as a standard action? By RAW - no, but what the heck. Say yes and have the player make some rolls. Maybe he falls in the pit courtesy of a failed Acrobatics or Climb roll (whichever you make him use). But MAYBE he makes the swing, crosses the pit, and lands perfectly then crits on his roll, confirms it, and kills the kobold in one shot. AND, since you're such a nice GM, maybe when he pulls all that cool off in a single round the other 2 kobolds break and run out of sheer terror as a reward to the player for trying something so adventurous.
That actually happened. It was awesome for all of us. Especially since that exact fighter then not more than 2 encounters later charged across a bridge, failed a jump, MISSED a rope and plummeted gracelessly into a fast, icy river and had to be saved by the rogue. It...was...HILARIOUS!
Anyway, that's my take on it.
Y'know as I posted I just thought - what about a dragon/fey mash up for the game?
- kobolds in modern mythology were a kind of faerie right?
Imagine a dark and eldritch land. I mean REALLY ancient. Nearly all forests are those moss-covered, old-growth types with 150' tall trees. There are swamps that span miles. The mountains are foreboding; a mix of primal glaciers and volcanoes. Yet in spite of this decrepitude along the sea mortal society has flourished.
This is largely thanks to religion. Another key component though is a council of good dragons located amid remote islands. So up and down the coast you might have high-fantasy but once you leave the safety of the towns you enter a truly frightening wilderness - the kind of place the Brothers Grimm warned us of.
Out there you have to turn your clothes inside out, walk backwards, and appease the forest spirits with gold left on a rock or meat hung from the trees. If you go up into the mountains the dwarves and elves try to warn you off; once past their halls the very winds have teeth.
@ Slick Willy Tree: why savage nuke? When you think of vampires, do you think savage throat-ripper? If you're a fan of Anne Rice or modern films, you might instead think sexy and sparkly undead.
Consider the same genre change for dragons.
Just think - dragons hoard treasure and they live for, like, ever. Also many of them have the ability to polymorph into humanoids. A giant monster sitting on a mega-hoard of coins in the forest gets a crusade called on them; a mortal king that fakes his own death every few years and has a "summer cottage" in the woods; no one except his political rivals hunt HIM down.
So take a green dragon once he gets old enough to polymorph into a mortal form. He's tired of living like an animal in the woods. He doesn't want to rule as king, but he also doesn't want to be the monster of the story either. He sets up a tower in the woods with a dungeon big enough below it for his true form and his hoard, then he claims he's a powerful wizard who banished the dragon.
With creative use of low level spells he gets some local rubes to believe him. Add in some illusions and him in true form laying a false trail, and no one questions him. Sure, lots of young, hotshot adventurers come to him either to try to murder and loot him or just to train with this awesome spellcaster, but in time even these fade.
But the dragon still hungers for fresh treasure.
So every once in a while he takes wing and hunts. Other times in his human form he hires bands of adventurers to take out rivals and their hoards. Mixing the 2 techniques he stays just under the radar for, say, a century.
The campaign picks up where the dragon, growing restless finally with his dual personality, has finally given into the urge to dominate some kobolds. Civilization encroaches on the outskirts of his forest so the dragon appears to the kobolds like a demigod and compels them to raid the young villages for his pleasure.
The PCs then come into the game where they are wailing on kobolds. These creatures aren't stupid OR savage; kobolds are lawful and have at least average intelligence. They're also defined by their classes, so there will be some heroic type leaders among them with heroic stat arrays, so the kobolds will have some intelligent, long-term plans to loot the towns for their master.
Also remember: the dragon himself is hyper-intelligent and evil. He might have had "side businesses" over the past century to diversify his portfolio: slaver rings, forced breeding programs, cults, sweatshops and workhouses. Anything that would serve the dual purpose of sewing chaos and hindering the march of civilization into his lands as well as keeping his hoard full.
And you could have all kinds of side gigs with secondary monsters. The dragon might have deals with the fey - together they keep the humans from cutting down the forests and both power groups benefit. Goblins on the other hand are being forced out of their dark corner of the woods by the new kobolds; they're peeved and looking to burn something. Then of course there might be some rival dragon, like a young black dragon upstart in the swampy fringe of the forest. This whippersnapper has a cult of her own and has just found a device in her hoard that will allow her ALSO to take a human form. Now she is the witch queen of a cult of necromancers who are draining the cemetaries of the land at an alarming rate. Why is the necromancy cult beefing up its ranks so much for; who is it going to war with?
These plots are ripe for sub-plots, manipulation and wit. With the exception of the kobolds' lairs, there would be few "dungeons" with most encounters taking place in raided villages, ruins, or amid the wilds of the land. I suppose you could have some crypts and tombs for the Swamp Witch Queen and her cult, but that's about it.
Went to a random dungeon generator, got a basic rectangle w/a lot of big and small rooms, then further subdivided ruling every square to be 10', not 5'.
I second the way to infuse dragonish qualities into monsters w/out mating. Experimentation by kobold alchemists, exposure to draconic radiations (fear aura?), consuming dragons; any and all of these could be ways for the PCs or other mortal creatures to have dragony type abilities.
Hey AD, know what I've seen? I've seen that some people are jerks from time to time. I'm including myself in this category. Sometimes I'm a jerk.
I've also seen that many humans get sucked into herd mentalities and fall in line w/a peer group. Again, I'm including myself here. Sometimes I have picked on and been a jerk to others because that's what we were all doing.
Now for a little admission: I still feel guilty for it.
We had a player in HS who always played dwarf fighters. Said player was in RL a little more sheltered than some of us and therefore he was sweet and naive where the rest of us swore and drank and acted like jerks. Sometimes I kind of made fun of him and one time we kicked him out of our game.
It wasn't nice. It wasn't fair. Just because my friends thought it was hilarious, that doesn't justify my going along with it. I feel genuinely sorry for doing it, even after all these years.
But that's just it isn't it? Human beings make errors in judgement all the time. We can be selfish, and cruel, and if enough of us put our own needs ahead of others then gang up on someone, we can be truly frightening.
I don't want to be like that anymore.
I'm not perfect, but I'm trying to put others' fun before mine. I'd encourage ANYONE on these boards posting issues w/their gaming group to talk it out and do the same. But yes sometimes groups gang up on an individual - I'm living proof.
Ironically I also believe in karma because of the same player.
When I moved from Illinois to MN a few years ago I was still gaming w/all those guys from HS, except 2 - one was the guy I was mean to and the other was a mutual friend between us. I moved, tried to stay in touch w/my old group, and didn't hear from anyone for a year. Turns out that after I moved said mutual friend stirred up all kinds of bad feelings toward me on behalf of the guy I'd been cruel to years ago. The irony is that the mutual friend had ALSO been mean and was a driving force in that regard.
So be nice to your gaming group folks. Be nice because they're human beings. Be nice and, as AD has said several times before, play nice with others. Otherwise when you walk away for a minute and then try to come back to the table, they might have gotten rid of your chair.
Anyway, I see Drachasor's point: sometimes the group isn't nice even though the individual is trying hard to be. But I also see AD's: if each of the mean group members followed the advice of seeing the others' points of view and playing nicely w/others, they'd stop being mean anyway.
These are just my observations, so take them for what you will. As I said - sometimes I'm a jerk. But I'm tryin' Ringo; I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
I'm currently running a homebrew with a massive megadungeon. Said dungeon's most populous residents are kobolds.
Ballathunda and HORDES of kobolds swarmed down and sieged the place. In the end the blue dragon slew the paladin, but not before he called down a divine miracle to imprison her in the eye of a wicked tempest overhead. Now coastal storms wrack the ruin; these are called Dragon Squalls.
The kobolds were scattered after losing their deity. They wandered the region far and wide, learned of the dungeons beneath the ruin, and returned with purloined draconic eggs. Now the breeding grounds are once more the home of dragons but also kobolds who have been expanding the tunnels for decades. Of course other creatures have found the dungeons as well and the various "outposts" of the dungeons are controlled by different factions.[/spolier]
I'm trying to conceptualize lots of different draconic things without any of the books mentioned in this thread so far. I've dropped the term "Dragon Forges" into my players' heads and intend to expand this concept. I have a secretive holy order called the Order of the Dragon's Shield devoted to the ideals of Apsu (or Bahamut). There's also an extremely rare new diversity of kobold - Bronzelings. These are Lawful Good kobolds with bronze scales and they help the Order in maintaining a foothold in the dungeon.
As I create and develop I could definitely send you what I have come up with. I'll drop back into this thread from time to time as well for some inspiration if that's alright.
Revrendfresh: thank you for sharing that term. Pennermorder sounds like an AWESOME name to incorporate somewhere in my homebrew.
While I don't know that I'd allow (Murderhobo) as a profession, I've certainly allowed several bizare crafts, performances and professions such as exotic dancer, fight promoter and kelp weaver. I've allowed these in homebrew games since there's no RAW against making up new ones outside what the CRB suggests. I'm sure then that PFS would have no issue with the generation of new skill specialties.
Tranzor Z: why do you feel the need to control? Is it that you think your players are incapable of success w/out your guidance and experience? Or do you find yourself afraid of the unexpected variables of a game you don't have direct input into?
I ask because I've identified both aspects in myself.
I used to have a GMPC in every game I ran. I also "collaborated" with each player through the character creation process. Since I run only homebrew stuff I convinced myself they needed my direct input in order to be immersed in a world that was mostly in my head, not theirs. I was at times called overbearing. Eventually I forced myself to not GM at all but rather be a player or not game.
Watching other GMs I got the sense of what my players had talked about. There were random generators for backgrounds and these generic stories could then be adapted to any story, so I didn't HAVE to craft a specific story for each PC so they could fit into my world. Rather the players created everything themselves and then shoe-horned these into the world my buddy Dwayne had made.
Also Dwayne had a GMPC and that's where I saw a mirror image of myself. The GMPC knew everything, had every answer and succeeded at nearly everything he did. we players were basically functionaries of this guy. I had initially enjoyed the game but as time went on I got really frustrated with being second fiddle to the GM.
Nowadays I still have NPCs that travel w/the players but I purposely make them non-optimized. I also enforce a rule on myself: my NPCs never take an action unless they're directly threatened in combat or they're directed by another PC. In other words if I have a sword-crafting history expert w/a level in Fighter AND a level in Wizard, I'm not going to do anything with her but if one of the players comes upon a runestone, can't figure it out, and thinks enough to ask the NPC, she'll gladly make a Knowledge: History, Arcana and Spellcraft check alongside casting Detect Magic and tell the party all they need to know.
I have to constantly remind myself that the homebrews I run may be my initial concept, but they're OUR world, not mine. I'm not exaggerating when I say sometimes I even tell myself this out loud. Its a struggle every gaming session AP Z-man, but so far (knock on wood) I haven't gotten the "overbearing" thing in a long time.
RD: why, EXACTLY do you need to perpetuate you cycle? Ask your fellow players EXACTLY why they disagree. You say they've mentioned metagaming and they think that's wrong, but why? I think once you drill down to the core of why you need to play these guys and why they don't want you to, you'll be able to move on.
I know for a long time in 1e and 2e I only played Halflings, and most of them were rogues. They were safe; easy. I knew EXACTLY what my success rate would be. I enjoyed the thief skill use and knew that, with this particular type of character I'd always have a way out. But that was it for me: I wanted some level of emotional security.
My friends were first passive-aggressive. They rolled their eyes when I made Halfling characters and they told me the hair on my feet needed a trim. Then they got together and demanded I play something else for a 2e Forgotten Realms game. I was offended, they didn't budge, and I got kicked out for a time. I finally caved and rolled up a human fighter.
That campaign ended with Morgan Rogith, the Stormlord of Ilmwatch, becoming a demigod with 9 levels of fighter and 19 levels of wizard. It was an incredible game and I died SEVERAL times during it. But I also genuinely enjoyed being outside my comfort zone.
I'm not saying the same thing will happen for you RD, but I will say this: the reason I finally joined the group was because I was honest with myself. If I stuck to Halflings I KNEW all the ways I could beat encounters, challenges and generally "win" at the game. I was good at being a Halfling PC and I wanted; NEEDED my buddies' validation on that point. But once I got over myself and admitted that need for validation I realized it was all in my own head - I needed to be ok with whatever I chose because the fun of gaming didn't come from playing a "winning" character, it came from hanging with my friends, pulling off amazing moves and striving for something greater than myself.
Be honest; be open.
So from the analysts in this thread I've got that:
1. the complainer is usually the one who's wrong
I'm seeing a pattern and a reason why these threads go on forever. Both sides are right and wrong and so nothing is ever really resolved. The underlying thing though is communication.
I don't know about you guys/gals but in my own private gaming groups I've noticed that a lot of people's complaints, when not referencing specific game mechanics, stem from feelings of persecution or vilification. "That encounter was unfair; I should be able to play whatever character I want to; its entirely in my PC's personality to execute the prisoner..." these kinds of things. Y'know what always rings out to me under these words? It's the individual secretly saying "validate me!"
Now some folks can get pretty douchey when they request this validation. Others upon receiving validation then rub others' faces in it and the group dynamic is broken. But with an understanding of these 2 potential outcomes I ask: what's so wrong w/validating folks?
In another thread RD wants to play a martial PC at low levels and a spellcaster at high. His gaming group says that's metagamey and they don't like it. I'm not saying either side is right or wrong, but they're both valid.
In my opinion, its up to the GM as the arbiter of the game to also step in and mediate RL social concerns too. Once that GM has stepped in, hopefully a dialogue commences and reasonable compromise can be reached.
But there it is, isn't it? Compromise. If the GM is asking the folks involved to compromise many of us automatically see this as what? Invalidation. If we have to compromise then we have to give a little up, which means that part of our idea was wrong and therefore invalid.
How many of us gamers in our daily lives feel ashamed, persecuted or otherwise invalidated? How much of that insecurity finds its way into our game do you think?
The GM's part of the table you play at should have a couch where their "patients" can lie down.
But that's why I, like AD and MANY of the posters in this thread open up my response to complainers with a call for dialogue, communication. But be HONEST in that communication. Ask for what you really want. Do you want to play a gunslinger because guns do a lot of damage as ranged weapons, or do you want that because you want to be right about how cool they are?
So many of us human beings have poor understanding of our own feelings and communications, how can we be expected to understand others?
Be honest. Be brutally honest. It might lead to being ostracized or you might find a gaming group you thought was awesome to be not to your liking and you have to start over again, and that sucks. I know because I've been there many times. But in the end if you're honest with what you want and need from the game and the experience w/your cohorts and they return the favor, you will know the experience is genuine; valid.
A to the F: jump in mate I'll love ya'. Seriously though, why WOULD any of us rag on others or blame them for us not having fun? Gamers as old as me are the guys who got excluded all the time because WE were the geeks. What good could POSSIBLY come from us excluding folks for our own hangups?
Accept that YOU are in charge of YOUR fun at the table. Also accept that the game is collaborative and a team effort that succeeds or fails based on EVERYONE'S buy in. Once those 2 points are firmly fixed and accepted in the hearts and minds of everyone at the table, everything else is just semantics.
Please, be excellent to one another, and party on dudes!
Temperance and compassion in all things. Seriously. This is a collaborative game. No one person should determine the outcome or result for any other participant.
We're not in high school. Ok, SOME of this community is, but you know what I mean. There's no us against them any more. WE decide what's fun for us.
Personally, in my own life and games I strive for compromise. I am usually the GM and if I had it REALLY my own way, my game would be a really cool blend of gritty horror and Tolkien; Harry Potter but for older wizards.
But that's NOT what every player at my table wants.
I have 2 guys that honestly don't speak in character unless I make them and their idea of long-term plot is whatever they have to do to make it to next level. I have another player who surprised the heck out of me yesterday by not only remembering a month-old plotline but coming to the table with some decisions on where it was going and mining for more info. Finally I have a new player who just joined us that enjoys my aesthetic but hasn't played enough yet for me to determine just HOW gritty I can get.
I don't plan on coming to the table next session and TPKing the party in epic fashion. Instead I intend to tentatively let out a bit more grit, ratchet up the combat for my tactical players and also continue to interact w/my plot-driven PC in the guise of the NPC they're traveling with. That way we ALL get a little of what we want.
I tell my girls all the time "you can't have EVERYTHING the way you want it all the time. You have to think of others before yourselves." Why then should I be any different, especially with non-family gaming buddies?
It boils down to this simple phrase I stole from my wife's grandma. "Work hard; be nice." That's been her lifestyle since she was a little girl. The woman is 98 now and as with it as all of us. This cannot be a coincidence.
Name one of the PCs Rudolph. Then engineer a scene where an old, white-haired man in a red suit shows up and says "Rudolph, with your (X) so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?" Turns out the old man has to bring something, somewhere. He's on a time crunch where the PCs have to help that night. "X" can be anything - blade, spell, even Charisma. The point is that the old man is sick, dying; he can't perform an ancient duty he's observed for centuries. If the party doesn't help him fulfill his appointed duty there will be dire consequences.
You might also have a young boy of some great, hidden power. This lad, by the name of Charles the Dun is searching for some good in the world which has been plunged into the depths of winter. If the PCs don't help him find the meaning of the Winter Festival (peace on earth, goodwill to all) then the boy's power will doom you all. Bonus points if you can involve a dancing dog or another boy with a blue blanket.
Other plot seeds:
- the elves need a McGuffin to finish the last toy but Christmas is doomed if the PCs don't help
- An ice elemental of surpassing independence and sentience has come to the mortal world. Now the wizard who summoned him and others in the town are hunting him and he needs the PCs to protect him
- Two brothers, Djinn kings have an eternal feud. One is a scion of fire and hates all things cold; the other is a ruler over water and hates all things warm. Their feud had boiled into the mortal world and the lands suffer at their hands. A rag-tag band of misfits (the PCs) must deal with the eldritch brothers
Y'know what kills me about this thread? The Wolverine Dragon had it right when he said:
Adamanite Dragon wrote:
LOL, RD is far more likely to be the originator of a build that someone ELSE comes to the boards and finds and copies for their use...
This is the unexaggerated truth. Dorkius Maximus is the guy whose threads we all flock to for ideas when we're stuck for a build, or at least ONE of the guys. So you're telling me that the guy w/some of the MOST creative build threads and certainly one of the most prolific can't conceive of a way to make a PC who feels fun, survivable and magical from level 1 to level 20?
RD forgive me, but that's initially why I thought this might've been hypothetical.
Now that being said, I think another poster in this thread had the right of it when they suggested that your fellows felt frightened by the fact that they'd come to rely on your PC filling a role in the group for several levels and then, by switching to a spellcaster that means the dynamic has changed at a more dangerous part of the AP. I can also see where this might also cause some players to feel that this change might distract attention away from their own awesomeness.
I go back to some of my original suggestions. I think a good compromise would be to create a character from the start that would fill in both roles you enjoy and also remain viable and therefore consistent through all levels.
TLDR the above, but please indulge me in this question RD: have you attempted to remedy this in the past, if anything? Have you attempted running hybrids or multiclass PCs? If so, what was your experience?
I fantasize over creating game worlds, fluff, or interesting adventures in other folks' rules systems, but a whole game? That seems daunting and frustrating. I'd have to conceive of unique conflict resolution mechanisms, manufacture dynamic rules alongside an interesting setting and do it all in a way that is at least uncommon if not completely new and fresh. I know that process is not appealing to me.
I will say this though: I love collaboration. I've worked with a friend to playtest his game creation and helped toss ideas around with him. If someone has a need for a second set of eyes or has a ruleset in need of adventures, fluff or whatnot, I'd be more than happy to contribute.
I like being creative. I don't necessarily get into the engineering side of game creation though.
Hey, at least you don't roll randomly for your class. *shudders*
Actually TOZ-manian devil, that's a great idea. Dorkius Maximus: tell your disapproving GM to start a new campaign. Tell him to go off and carefully sculpt an elaborate first scenario with the expectation of standard characters. Then while he's not looking, have your entire group of friends all get out 3d6.
No point buy, no re-rolls. Roll 3d6, assigning the numbers as you get them. "Oh, you wanted to play a martial but you rolled a 4 Str and a 12 Int? You're the wizard..." Now join up with your GM and see if he's happy w/the whole party dying in encounter no 1. Or maybe you roll decent, you rise to the occasion as a gaming group, and it all works out. Either way there's nothing meta about it.
You'll see though that, in this extreme scenario if the GM wants to help your fledgling non-optimized PCs survive he'll have to be far more attentive to YOU and your party; it may even require some "coddling." In the meantime your fellow players may find that they MISS the freedom of assigning numbers to get the PCs they really wanted. You can then point out that that's all YOU are doing: playing the PC that YOU want.
First off - how ya doin' RD? You ok? Cause if you're ok and having fun and your friends are too, then it's all good. Course if you're not and this is more than you jus blowin off some steam, then here's some real advice:
Tell your fellow gamers everything you feel as articulately as you do above. If they're your friends, they'll say "It's cool" and move on. If for some reason you feel you need to change to accommodate them, perhaps compromise a little, here are some methods:
- Gestalt from the start or multiclass later on. Sure, it won't be perfect, but you'll get a little variety from both sides of the spectrum and have some of the fun you want at low and high levels
- Hunt down magic items that AREN'T the "big 6". One example might be to commission an amulet of Unseen Servant or perhaps buy Wondrous Items that do unexpected things like Pyrotechnics, Web or Plant Growth. One of the reasons you want to be a spellcaster at high levels is for the special effects; use magic items and consumables to give yourself the same thing
- Get a magical cohort. Starting as Mandferd Everyblade at level 1 and picking up Wizardo the Bearded as a cohort at level 7 means that now you've got a guy along w/you that can hurl some spells and thereby scratch that itch without metagaming.
- Get a familiar and then Improve it. Similar to my last point, there's a chain of skills and feats that allow you to access a Sorcerer Bloodline ability to gain a familiar. Then you can take more feats to gain Improved Familiar, qualify your martial levels as spellcaster's for advancing your little buddy, and even give it some 1PT Eidolon Evolutions like minor cantrips.
RD, often you pose hypotheticals on threads such as this just to begin a dialogue. I don't think you're sneaky or disingenuous; rather I think you're honestly attempting to force yourself and other gamers to explore many styles of play within the confines of your examples. I appreciate your phantasmagoria old bean.
However if this is really you in the OP and NOT one of these scenarios, then I apologize if I've cast any aspersions to the contrary. Further I genuinely hope you can make peace w/your gaming group. More importantly: I hope you can make peace w/yourself.
RD, on the personal: it must be hell to have your mind because it never stops. You've been on these boards as long as I have and I've been in here for a couple years now. In that time you've been ever creating fictions and also asking for help on real situations. You've got a thread displaying a literal horde of NPCs complete with stat blocks, pics and histories. Your posts on these boards display an intelligent, curious mind that never seems to pause.
Be at peace, Raving Dork.
Ok, so those are the mechanics. What does a spellcaster experience when they cast Detect Magic? It says they detect an aura; Is this aura just different colored lights, or could it be certain smells, sounds or other imagery related to the spell?
Wand of Magic Missiles: upon casting Detect Magic you note a particular colored aura of whitish light radiating from the device; this light is tinged with red. (After caster succeeds at all appropriate skill checks) The crimson veins in the aura denotes this spell as an Evocation. As you watch, the discoloration forms into runic symbols within the pool of white light. These eldritch glyphs, when pronounced correctly form many of the key intonations of the spell Magic Missile.
Result: you found a wand of magic missile.
Does this sound about right? Anyone else do it differently?
In the Ultimate Campaign book there's a room you can purchase that is a Repository. Essentially it's an entire room full of books, scrolls, maps and other references devoted to a single knowledge skill. This might be a good reference.
There are also fantasy book generators online. There's a thread on these forums about silly/interesting books and writings that can be found. Finally if the tomes are old/damaged enough they may be unreadable.
Another thought is to change up your libraries. 300 books is kind of insane but I can see it in a noble estate or somehting. If you're talking a modest found library though, why not mix up what's on the shelves? One shelf might be lead paperweights with graphics of goblins; another shef has books on the subject; still another shelf has preserved goblin parts and a disection graphic; finally the last shelf has several scrolls and maps detailing historical lairs (now defunct...or are they?)
In the end the whole thing grants a +2 to any roll having to do with Knowledge: Local (goblins) but it does so in an interesting manner and presents possible plot hooks as well.
Generally treasure is per encounter. So you have at least 4 set piece fights (chieftan, adept, level 3 warriors). Beyond those you have to figure you've got at least another 36 level 1 goblin warriors (each of your set pieces should have at least one extra goblin for action economy) so if you figure an avg of 3 goblins/encounter, this makes 12 encounters. I figure you generate 12 level 1 treasures and 4 potentially higher level ones to represent more dangerous foes overcome.
If each of the 12 CR 1 treasures is roughly worth 260 GP, these alone amount to 3120 GP. If you just go simply and say
level 3 warrior set piece = CR 2 treasure
Then you're looking at an additional 2500 GP for a total of 5620 GP. Now that tells you how much GP worth of added treasure to throw in the dungeon; the question now is what that looks like and where it is.
If it were me, I'd make one 5000 GP gem and 62,000 CP in 1240 small belt pouches and have all of these in a hidden vault in an innocuous hallway, but to each their own.
@ AD: you're absolutely right - 60 magic items by level 10; 15 of these have been for the "fighter" type; 4 of these have been repeats of their primary weapon type or at least been that weapon. Just take that as your example:
Level 2: after fighting through a horde of goblins, surviving a unique bunch of akatas whose blood mutated into tiny spiders creating a swarwrm, and descending daringly through a ruin and dungeon, Brach Battlehammer found... a +1 hammer. It wasn't just any hammer though; it was one of the hammers crafted for the Ironmourn Legion for use in defense of Brutenheim against the goblin hordes of a bygone age.
Level 4: while enduring the trials of Balefire the fighter Brach Battlehammer was given a new hammer. Since the minions of Balefire are empowered with infernal fire, this new weapon was tailored to his need. The device is made in the dwarven style; a block mallet mounted atop a leather-wrapped haft. The head is cold iron, emblazoned with the symbol of the Battlehammer clan and bathed for 3 days and nights in icy waters in the depths of the Frostbeard Falls. The leather of the haft is winter wolf hide wound in cold-iron chord and studded with Frost Agates; rare blue-white opaque crystals said to be formed from the blood of fallen ice giants. This +1 Frost weapon dealt solid blows of the coldest winter to Brach's enemies.
Level 6: Brach and his companions came upon the lair of a witch who had entombed a dwarven hero in a bower of stone. After struggling against her mightily, the team unearthed the dwarf and gave him a proper burial. In return the spirits of the fallen hero's clan summoned up a hammer from the spirit world and made manifest the weapon from a dream. The device, called the Thunder Caller is a +2 warhammer of stone and bone. Thrice daily the weapon can issue forth a stroke of lighting dealing 4d6 damage to a 30' line from the head of the device while 1/day when slammed to the ground Thunder Caller can deal 3d6 lightning damage to a 10' burst from the wielder and as well issue thundering sound and potentially stun all these foes
Level 8: yet ANOTHER hammer had been made for Brach. Now to deal with the demon lord of the Balefire cult an updated version of his Frost Hammer was crafted. This one was more powerful than the first, being a +2 Frost Burst Hammer which also used an aura of cold to counteract fire granting the wielder Resist Fire 10. It also could be called upon thrice per day to call down an ice storm.
So you've got a GM that has to make FOUR warhammers, each with ever increasing powers, and place them plausibly, make them interesting and memorable, and hope that the player isn't so jaded that they don't just roll their eyes.
I'm not advocating a giant warehouse store called the Magic Mart, but I am saying if you're using default rules having standardized places where the party can just go and buy this stuff rather than having to place it all over the landscape sure would make it easy.
What about some non-game-mechanics related ones that you'd have to create mechanics for (stolen from comic books)
- a force from space selected the king's dna to inhabit and cloned him, stole his personality/mind/soul and gave him extreme telekinesis (or other magic)
- the king had drunk some kind of formula prior to his death that gave him insane regeneration powers, super strength and stamina, but it also drove him mad. His son has been on the throne, drunk a similar formula and is a weaker (but nonetheless insane) version of his father; the old king returns from the grave, orchestrates his son's downfall, then reclaims his old throne
- one word: aliens
And how about a few that I'm just completely making up:
- a faerie revel over his grave accidentally or on purpose brought him back and now the power of the First World fuels his immortality
- the people loved their king; they loved him so much that he lived on in their songs and thoughts. The sheer collective will of the people returns the king, from time to time, when a special holiday is held, a certain song is sung or a blessing is invoked
- the king has been reanimated and grafted into a mongrelman who now roams the countryside; he slew his arcane maker and is using the old master's powers and tools to train himself in the black arts
- the land called the king back for his torment was not yet complete; go get some old Ravenloft books and you'll know what I mean
- various timelines in the multiverse have collided at the moment of the king's death. The newly returned king has similar memories but they're not exactly the same
- one word: doppleganger
Ways to bring back an NPC as a sentient, free-willed villain:
- he wasn't dead: the PC got him to negative HP, ran away, and the NPC stabilized and healed
I guess it depends on your game. You want the king back as a villain, but what kind of villain; what're his plans once he returns? Is he just a private antagonist for this one PC? If so you might have his soul and memory bound into a weapon that possesses people and forces them to seek out and attack that PC. However you might want the king to reclaim his throne and threaten the whole world; in this case you might bring him back as a powerful undead that can appear in his old, human form so that none suspect his hateful nature.
Where are you going with this?
Somebody in another thread reminded me of a villain from a 3x sourcebook. He is an antipalidan, not overly optimized, but he wears a belt with manacles attached. At the other end of the manacles are some kids he's captured. The fight then isn't just a straight-up slugfest. The PCs have to figure a way not to kill the kids with their ranged attacks, AoEs and such.
I've always played and run in homebrew campaigns. Sure, me and other GMs have supplemented published material, but it's always been in arcs, plots and for the most part settings created by the GM. When I was a kid in 1e & 2e, we made characters in droves, threw them out there and saw what stuck b/cause that's how the systems ran then.
When we got to 3x our games changed. We didn't "roll up" our characters any more...we built them.
This changed the way the GMs thought, myself included. My gaming groups and I no longer thought "how can I mold my vision to fit these characters in" but rather "what kind of game do I want?" As a result we GMs could craft a game with a point and major themes/events/villains already planned with the confidence that the players would be prepared to keep up.
I agree w/the OP in that this idea of forcing characters to adapt is silly. It does a disservice both to the GM and the players. If player x makes an undead hunting paladin, that's indicative of the kind of game they want to play. Sitting down as the GM and then announcing "I'm running Skull & Shackles" not only invalidates most if not all of the choices player x has made but also sends the message that the GM really doesn't care WHAT character you made; this is what the game is.
Now some of my grognard friends would and have told me that fluff is fluff; if you haven't even rolled your first combat yet you can always re-do your backgrounds, motivations and such. But my response is always that, even if your not optimized, you've built this character to do a particular job and now will have little to no opportunity to pursue that focus. My grognard friends would have me build fluff-less generics with little 1st level specialization who can fit into any setting: sword & board fighters, vanilla rogues, wizards with arcane bonded rings and healer clerics.
I crave a more unique, personal experience from the outset.
I'm not saying however that my grognard friends are wrong. If you make Genero the Vanilla Wizard you can adapt him to any campaign and make his personality fit as you roll on through the story. But to me that feels boring - I'm only playing the character that fits into the mold the gameworld sets for me. Had I known what the game held in store for me ahead of time, I'd have made the character pre-tailored to the material and ended up in the same place anyway.
I especially appreciated your commentary on providing encounters with objectives beyond hack n slash. I often attempt to challenge my players with these adding villains with hostages or adding background elements like gems that need to be broken to end a rite instead of just interrupting with battle.
So what can the PCs in my game do? My roster:
Party face: LG m human paladin of Iomedae
So... the paladin's second greatest asset physically is strength and a bit of Knowledge: Engineering. The cleric is fond of firing off Fire Bolts and has stone masonry skills. The magus is an outdoorsy type focused on Str, Dex and DPR. The ranger is our "defacto trapfinder."
I suppose if I had a trap where the bypass mechanism was susceptible to heat and trapped behind heavy plates or slabs, I could have the paladin and magus pry them open while the cleric blasts it with a Fire Bolt. Alternatively I could have a complex series of interlocking gears that the magus could traverse using timing provided by the paladin's engineering knowledge; then he could use his spear to jam the right cog.
If anyone else has any examples for me I'm dying to hear them.
Check out John Four's 5 room dungeons (don't have the link handy but you can google it). If you want to make your OWN intro dungeon they're a great formula for a tidy little adventure.
Room 1/intro: this establishes the theme of the dungeon and might just be an obstacle or guardian to gain entry to the dungeon/adventure. Examples include a monster, a locked door or a long journey.
Room 2/obstacle or RP: this is essentially a skill-based challenge for the PCs. Perhaps they have have to negotiate with a kidnapper or they have to disarm a trap.
Room 3/setback: the goal is close, but you need to just get past this one last roadblock. This is usually a combat to drain some more resources from the party but might also be something as simple as they see the treasure room and then the floor drops.
Room 4/BBEG: here's where they finally come in direct conflict with the main protagonist of the adventure. They fight the dragon, disarm the warlord, outsmart the sorceress.
Room 5/reward or reveal: the final "room" represents the reward for the PCs hard work and might be simple treasure or perhaps some secret knowledge they didn't previously have. Also a chance for a "switcheroo" like the main villain wasn't the real villain after all.
So here's an example for APL 1:
The Vault of Meiger Vaugg:
Background/Setup: in the kobold language "Meiger" is synonomous with boss. Meiger Vaugg however is not some simple-minded boss. He is a wizard par-excellence as well as an avid trap builder. Meiger Vaugg also has a secret - he's been skimming off the top.
Going toe-to-toe with the Meiger at this point in your careers would be suicide. However you've learned of a way to hurt him and get rich in the process. The wicked old kobold scroll-slinger has been housing his ill-gotten gains in a modest vault buried under a nearby hill. The hill is marked with a massive, dead tree and your informant, the kobold courtesan Ozula, claims that there is a secret entrance through it's bole.
Room 1: The Bole of the Oak/CR 1
Room 2: Secret Door/CR 1
Room 3: Spiraling Down/CR 1
Room 4: The "Dragon"/CR 2
Room 5: Treasure and escape/CR 1
Several trap threads have described making traps interactive and fun for the whole family. The one I liked was simple: have the trap's disarm mechanism under something heavy so that the fighter or perhaps 2 PCs have to make Str checks to lift it in order for the rogue to disarm. I have a game coming up and I'm looking for examples of traps I can use instead of Perception/Disable/Rinse and Repeat.