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Leonard Kriegler

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I don't know how Golarion does it. I have this ability firmly rooted in the Eldest.

In my homebrew the Eldest are the only constants in a sea of change. This makes them at once both all-powerful and nearly insane. Imagine if your entire world around you was defined by constant change and you are the only one who can't.

As such the Eldest have the will to impose form on the formlessness around them. In their fevered minds they envision a "perfect" land and each Eldest creates this differently. There was Mad Queen Mabbe who imagined a world of mirrors where all would look upon her beauty and despair; there was the Red Queen who had the mind of a 6 year old mortal girl and envisioned a "Wonderland"; then there was Luposz, the Werewolf Lord, who saw only an endless land of pinewood and night.

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Another way to combat the speed, bloat etc is... just play CRB Pathfinder. Tell your players up front that you're just going Core. There's nothing bad/wrong with it and you can still reach some pretty insane power levels. In the mean time, try make the fun of the game less about how many cool tricks your optimized Brawler has and more about all the things you can think of to use Profession: Woodcutter for other than answering questions or earning a daily wage. For example, did you know that under alternate scroll materials you can make birchbark paper with Profession: Woodcutter?

I guess my point is it comes back to player/GM engagement, again. Both sides have to buy in and say its ok, and then really play with what they agree to. It also comes down to this: want what you have, and don't worry about having what you want.

Sure, everyone wants a hybrid of rangers and rogues who are full BAB, get talents and ranger fighting styles every level and get scaling attack/damage bonuses, but too bad. Play a ranger, add some rogue skills, call it a day; you'll STILL have fun.

If on the other hand you feel like you can't ever achieve the real vision of your character and thus your fun without deviating from core, then maybe the problem isn't the character or rules bloat. The thing about system bloat is: it's only bloated if you use all the new rules/options.

Back in 1e and 2e we used to make up custom stuff all the time, at least in my group. We made up hybrid classes, new spells, and used Marvel Super Heroes to give super powers to characters to make them more interesting. Now in 3x/Pathfinder we have expanded skills, spells and the mechanic of Feats and Traits to quantify this stuff. Don't want to use the ones outside the CRB? Don't.

And I agree with folks upthread. Pure sandbox ("You've met at the tavern... go.") is an acquired taste and not for all. That being said I've never really had the desire to play an AP becuase to me it feels too scripted. Rather I prefer something in the middle; sandbox but with plot hooks.

Well Profession is a Wis based skill. The cleric took it with 1 rank for Rank +1/Class Skill +3/Wis bonus +5.

At 1st level you could have a wizard with a 16 AC (Armor +4 [Mage Armor], Dex +2) hanging in the back and attacking with a Ranged Touch attack dealing 2-4 damage/round. 3 damage is roughly 1/4 of the total HP of the typical CR1 monster and their attack is a +2 targeting Touch so more than needed to hit the typical CR1 monster. This means they are contributing about 1/4 to resolve every CR1 fight which is consistent with the CR system.

The owl may be touched with a Prestidigitation which produces a candleflame worth of light. This is enough for it's low-light vision to see 10'. You might also create Dancing Lights and have it scout from the areas of Dim Light created from these. Finally yes, the owl cannot speak and can get eaten; there are always risks and potential ways around these based on ingenuity, other spells and GM approval.

My point though is that, even from first level the wizard has SOME level of permanent, renewable magical utility that lasts them and their party all day. If the point of the OP wasn't strictly the perpetuation of combat but rather a balance between fighting conflicts, social conflicts, skill challenges and other obstacles to be overcome with PC abilities the wizard has enough in the tank, even at 1st level to have a way to contribute in many scenarios and all day long.

This falls apart in my opinion once monsters are not bothered by cantrips.

I agree on the cost of start up tools, but if they had those before they left town, couldn't they just use Mending and Prestidigitation to keep their existing tools ship-shape? Isn't that kind of what those spells are for?

Consider that the wizard alone has Mending, Prestidigitation, Mage Hand and Spark just on their own. The cleric in the meantime has Create Water and Guidance. This means that as long as the whole group's together at least one skill has a +1 on it, they've always got fresh water to drink, they're perpetually clean, all of their gear is mended, and they've always got fire and a free (albeit extremely weak) hand.

That seems like more than enough to just build in the wilds w/out needing to spend gold.

So I know that Kingmaker has rules on BPs. Also you have the Downtime section of Ult. Campaign for building buildings. I'm thinking: what if 4 characters, starting at level 1, want to just go and build a house, farm, and later a village?

4 PCs, a ranger, fighter, wizard and cleric go into the wilds. They find a bunch of kobolds, dire rats and a tatzlwyrm inhabiting a ruined tower. Over the course of a couple sessions they clear out the whole place but rather than go back to town and buy magic items they decide to rebuild the tower, add on a hall, and start living there.

The PCs have between them Survival +7, Profession: Architect +9, Profession: Woodcutter +7, and Profession: Blacksmith +7. The cleric is also a dwarf with Stonecunning and a rank in Profession: Miner. Finally they have the following Knowledge skills between them: Nature, Local, Dungeoneering, Arcane, Religion and Geography.

I figure this is all the skills needed but, are there rules for just being in the wilds, cutting down trees and mining stone from a cave to rebuild a tower? Should I just handwave it? If anyone has suggestions I'm all ears.

I don't think longer days throw the wizard off; the player just needs to know they're possible. Consider: the wizard begins play with 2d6/10, avg 70 GP. That's enough for 4 level 1 spell scrolls, a flask of acid and 10 GP worth of other gear. These spell scrolls, plus acid splash augmented by the Acid Flask is enough to guarantee 4 hours of armored fight contribution (4 scrolls: mage armor).

Tack on a universalist with Hand of the Acolyte throwing out a dagger too, plus their NORMAL spells/day and if the fights were equal CR, CR-1 or CR+1 he could probably keep pace with the martials in being able to contribute.

As levels go up he gains resources which, if spent wisely (utility scrolls, wands of infernal healing/mage armor) keep him in the fight for all day. Also bear in mind that the vanilla mage also has either an item that gives him back 1 spell (bonded item) or a familiar that carries a TON of extra utility with it.

I think when wizards or spellcasters in general fall down its because of poor planning or resource allocation on the part of the players. If you tell a sorcerer player up front that there may be days when they'll be called upon to fight maybe 10 fights over the course of 8 hours, that player can easily spend starting gold, a feat or skills at least to garner the resources needed to pull this off. If however they don't think about HOW they'll contribute for 8 hours, there'll be a problem.

Finally I'm wondering: did the OP mean only surviving fights for 8 hours in an adventuring day? Again, this comes down to planning on the part of the player.

If the party is going to be in a non-campable area (like a dungeon) and they're going to be stuck there for days, there are still a TON of things the wizard has going for them. They have 3-4 cantrips and a familiar or bonded item right at 1st level. Consider taking the familiar - say, an owl.

The 4 PCs are down in the dungeon, the wizard has taken the following cantrips (thinking ahead to being stuck down here): Acid Splash, Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound, Prestidigitation. He also has his owl. Said owl has amazing stealth skills and is size Tiny so it can get into almost any position. The monsters down here have to be eating something, not just each other; most dungeons have mundane insects, bats and rats no?

Now you have a skilled low-light predator (the owl) helping the PCs locate underground game and potentially, if it's mundane enough attacking said game for you. You've also got a way to create a clean area for sleeping, do some minor damage and create plenty of diversions to keep monsters at bay. These tricks of the wizard's can go on all day.

If you add that in with Survival checks to find food and water underground, Stealth used for scouting by the entire party, and the orisons/cantrips of any other spellcaster(s) in the party and you've got more than enough utility to survive for 8 hours.

Finally, a note on scrolls: to craft a spell scroll you need 3 things: roughly 2-8 hours of time, gold for materials and the spell you're going to add. If the party contains another spellcaster they can drop one of their spells into the scroll instead of yours. Depending on your GM you might be able to buy materials ahead of time.

If your party has finished an adventure and is back out on the road bringing extra scroll material might be worth it. Take a couple hours, drop a scroll, then survive until morning. Now you don't HAVE to study that spell again and you've got it in reserve for when you need it.

Medium skeletons?

2 standard Medium skeletons = 270 Exp

5 standard Medium skeletons with better gear (but not NPC level) = 675 Exp

1 Medium skeleton warrior 1 = 200 Exp

1 Medium skeleton with the Flaming template added = 400 Exp

Total Exp = 1545/CR 5 (1600 Exp)

As for separate encounters, that's a judgment call. Frankly I usually only count different encounters if the PCs have a reasonable enough time to not only heal/buff for next fight but also assess what's going on (use skills on the villains/environment, cast divination spells, etc). A 1 round breather sounds like one long fight where reinforcements came in a few rounds apart from one another.

Rynjin wrote:

Make traps work like Haunts and they become a bit more interesting.

Also, my Orc Barbarian bashes traps down with brute force. He's the party's trap and locked door guy.

I love this Feat.

That plus Spell Sunder = "Suck it, Rogue!"

I think I understand what you mean by "play it like a Haunt" but can you give an example? Here's the image that your statement conjured for me:

1. PCs make a Perception; those who make it detect the trap before it goes off

2. The trap begins triggering and will go off at the end of the round. PCs succeeding at their Perception get a chance to do SOMETHING. One of the somethings might be Disable Device

3. A successful DD shuts off the trap before it hurts someone

Tormad wrote:
I tire of having to make achievement happen for the players.

This. A thousand times this. This is the source of MUCH of my own GM fatigue. Ironically my latest one also came from a sandbox campaign.

I had a player a few campaigns ago that sadly moved away. He was truly old-skool, like me. I told him I was going to be running a sandbox and he said "That's awesome!" and dove right in.

His first PC was a paladin. Everyone groaned but instead of being lawful stupid he really played up the Charisma angle of the PC. The guy was designed from level 1 to utilize diplomacy (Skill Focus: Diplomacy) and skill at striking at key moments when necessary (Combat Expertise). The paladin was bold, intelligent and outgoing.

Most of the other players just kind of sat there. This player from session one took charge. He asked NPC names and names of the adventure sites we were going. He also researched the slums, found that slavery there was legal and that child slave labor was very popular. Rather than just saying "ho hum, that's nice..." like the rest of the so-called "heroes" the paladin, also a trained weaponsmith, painted a target on his back and spent nearly all his resources leveling to level 2 to build a weapon making shop in the slums and hire on 6 orphans on the streets... at full apprentice pay.

Suddenly every game was basically just him and me playing and the other players spectating or jumping in at combats. His paladin unfortunately died but in a way so epic that, even though he was only 2nd level his grave site outside the dungeon became infused with holy power and in my game world will henceforth be a shrine associated with him and his deity.

TL/DR; the bottom line is if your players are passive or think the adventure is YOUR job then you're not getting anywhere. Likewise if your players talk over you and try to control ALL the action their characters will likely get killed foolishly. There needs to be give and take.

Nearly every GM I've talked to says some version of "I run a good game when my players are into it." How can the players be into it, and THEN it's good? Shouldn't it be the other way around? No. If the players sit there with their character sheets like a PS3 controller in their hands, its likely no one is having fun.

Currently I'm running a weeknight game and sessions only last 3 hours. We're only level 2 but I have prepped my players that there will be some exploration/investigation with the missions they receive. They are also free to leave the mission if there's no time crunch.

Most of the players around the table are asking questions and getting involved. Even though their only 3hr sessions we're always getting SOMETHING done. One player has a long-term agenda; 2 others have backstory goals they're actively pursuing. I on the other hand have basically a 1 page, roughly bullet-pointed outline of the first few levels worth of plot points.

One session I showed up and had nearly nothing. I knew the PCs were going to be resting up to assault a nearby kobold dungeon so I grabbed some random tables and made a roll; I came up with a blood-stained small cave in the wilds. One of the backstory guys is like "Do I recognize it? Is it like the one from the group in my past?"

It took me a minute but I remembered his backstory so I'm like "yeah, there's some religious symbols that look similar, though not EXACTLY the same." That spawned a side-plot that took that session and another to resolve but in the end they defeated a cult of Lamashtu. When it was all said and done though I made another point to say it was similar but not the same cult as in the PCs backstory.

Currently I've got the PCs hunting up the stuff in that guy's story since they finished off the kobolds for now. I've dropped a hint that the original cult from his past may have splintered. From one random roll and some conversation with the player I've created a whole second storyline where, even if they finish off the monster they seek there's still more Lamashtan villains out there and they're building toward something.

What? I don't know. But that's the result of some collaboration.

Everyone who's a player out there this is what good GMs feed on. They NEED your engagement, your collaboration. When you contribute to the narrative and are willing to play into the stuff your GM sets up for you the game world both gets bigger and, at the same time becomes less the GM's and a little bit more yours.

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Headfirst wrote:
Pax Veritas wrote:
Question: What can be done to re-ignite the flame of these veteran gamer blues?

The simplest advice I can give for both players and DMs:

For players: Stop making characters designed only to win. You will get bored with characters who are built to deal maximum damage, have the highest skill checks, or know every spell. Instead, build a mechanically viable character around a robust personality.

For DMs: Stop writing your adventures to tell a story and start writing them to tell the players' stories. When your games thrive on collaboration instead of exposition, they will be more engaging, last longer, and end up requiring less work to design and maintain.

Remember though that for the "For DMs" section to work there has to be collaboration. If the players are just reactionary, looking to be entertained and aren't engaging in the game world, this is kind of a moot point. If however the players have come up with not only "robust personalities" but are playing TOWARD something like a goal or achievement then you've got your collaboration.

Everyone needs buy in and everyone needs to be driving the plot forward.

Like a lot of folks in this thread I started a long time ago too (1980). I've gotten burned out many times. During these times here's what I've done to get the feeling back:

1. Play another system: my backup has always been Marvel Super Heroes from the 1980's, but I've also run through most of the White Wolf systems, Cyberpunk, GURPS and the Chaosium stuff (Rifts, TMNT, etc.); another fun one is classic Call of C'Thulu.

2. Play other games entirely: for a while in my current group we had a standing 1/mo board game night. As a kid I hated board games; either they were boring (Parker Bro's) or way too hard for a strategy-challenged brain like mine (Axis and Allies, Risk). About decade ago I met a board-game enthusiast who introduced me to lots of stuff I didn't even know existed: Fantasy Flight Games, Carcassone, Catan, and Cards Against Humanity. Some other stuff I've done outside RPGs is to do tournaments of Mortal Kombat or Unreal Tournament, tabletop wargaming and even just good old poker nights.

3. Have hobbies related to the game: I build miniature terrain with Hirst Arts molds. Some folks paint minis, others build foam terrain. There's also writing and art related to the games, LARPing that you put a video of online, or whatever. The terrain making lets me build for something I want to experience in the game or allows me to make a visual of something that was cool in a session.

4. Take a night out with the gaming friends: What if, on one of your weekly sessions you just grabbed a pizza and hung out? I do this every once in a while and it's a great way to dial back into why you play with THIS particular group in the first place. Go grab a beer/coffee together; dinner out somewhere like a Chinese place that accommodates a big group; I hear there's lots of super hero films out there that the kids like (I'm one of them!)

5. Go to a con: seriously, I would advise EVERY old-skool gamer to do this. Remember that thrill you got as a kid of finding other people like you, enthusiasts that DIDN'T make fun of your hobby? I think a lot of us have been to cons but some of us haven't and others don't go any more. Well, make time for it once in a while. There's something... primal about going into a big, loud, crowded exhibition hall and seeing vendors hawking their stuff. You can network with other local gamers, jump in and try new games, chat with the vendors about trends and older stuff or just people watch from the lobby. Whatever you do though this might help drop more fuel in the tank.

As for sprucing up the game, there's some fun stuff you can do there too:

1. Different storytelling tools: what if you flat out told them, in a cutscene, what the villain was doing at the beginning or end of a session? Think about it; the players like completing something in an adventure. How much more satisfying would it be for them if they knew (even if their PCs didn't - no metagaming allowed!) that the BBEG was sitting in their lair monologuing about these treacherous interlopers and musing to their lieutenant who the PCs later face in battle? Other devices include doing flashbacks, Downtime sessions or parallel story lines.

2. Theater of the mind fights: One of the things in PF is that fights take so long and one of the reasons for this is maps, minis and 3d terrain. Lots of folks use these tools because of flanking and such. Challenge your players and yourself to just be descriptive and play out fight scenes the way you did as a kid: with your words, your actions and some dice. You as the GM just jot down some cursory stats: not a whole block if you don't need it, but if you do then the whole stat block. Keep it handy as a reference but otherwise don't put anything out, then just go. Tell the players where they are when the fight starts and run with it.

3. Low level fights: put together CR-1 fights for your PCs. Lots of them. Then make a dungeon where monsters/villains can reinforce one another in numbers. Finally... unleash. Say the party's level 3; make a pack of 3 goblin warrior 1 plus one mounted on a goblin dog. PCs come in, goblins surprise them and one of the baddies hits a gong. 2 rounds later as the party is mopping up the goblins a bugbear appears and takes a shot. Then 5 more warriors from another hall. Sure, the PCs can tear through the individual fights without breaking a sweat but what if they all suddenly converge on the party at once?

4. Different kinds of challenges: take 3 insect swarms and make a humanoid villain out of them. First the party has to beat the humanoid form, then the individual swarms... but then the swarms re-surge and the humanoid starts to re-form. The reality is there are hives in the walls that also need to be destroyed or the fight never ends. Challenges like in video games where the PCs need to solve a puzzle to end a fight or the invincible villain has some Achilles' Heel. Used sparingly they can really pep things up.

5. Terrain: it gets really boring to fight in 2d. PCs charge, villains do the same, and they stand toe-to-toe and beat each other into submission. If you're using minis, toss some small d6's on the map. Tell the players they're piles of rubble, skeletons, or stalagmites; x2 movement obstacles for them to use. Some of these obstacles are mobile; show them this by having a giant grab a normal-sized table in the area and use it as an improvised weapon. Encourage the players to use EVERY ounce of their environment by including an interactive environment in your games. See-saw floors, swinging chains hanging from the ceiling, even just ledges on cave walls all serve as a way to give players a new perspective on the fight. Further incentivize them by granting Circumstance bonuses like a +2 Climb to reach that ledge which in turn gives the player a +1 Attack bonus from higher ground or a boulder which can be thrown as an improvised weapon (-4 to hit) but if it DOES hit deals 2d10 damage!

6. Play shorter campaigns: What if your campaign was only designed from level 1-6? Not that you couldn't ADD more later, but imagine: you final villain is a dark folk summoner (CR 8 foe) who wants to blanket an entire region in magical darkness and complete a rite that then shunts the whole area into the Plane of Shadow. You plot out a few adventures with some twists and turns leading to a final showdown with the dude. Once the fight's over you just kind of shrug and go, "that's it." If the players WANT to keep things going its on them to do it.

My final bit of advice is this: push some of this back on your players. Even with a couple weeks off now and then it's hard being the perpetual GM. Make sure your players are helping you with the game. I don't just mean one's tracking initiatives for you or whatever. I mean that the players are honestly helping drive the game forward.

Their characters should have goals, all the time. Take 4 1st level characters, a cleric, fighter, rogue and wizard. Sure they all want adventure and loot, that's a given, but what SPECIFICALLY do they want? Maybe the rogue wants to run a thieve's guild. GREAT! How do you do that? Well you'll need capital, a base of operations, other thieves, and maybe to eliminate the competition. None of that should be on YOU to provide; the rogue's player should be seeking that out themselves.

In the case of the rogue, imagine that at level 1 he knows he wants a guild. The party comes together to go into the wilderness and explore a neighboring hex; the rogue player should be using this plot to further his own subplot. They might ask you if there's any suspected phat lewts in the hex they're exploring; maybe he rounds up some beggars before leaving town and tells them to watch for rival gangs; perhaps he scouts rumors of a ruin nearby as a possible headquarters and hijacks the whole adventure. Whatever the case, so long as he's pursuing a goal and is engaged then every session is a chance to accomplish SOMETHING toward that goal and give him the feeling of getting somewhere.

And when your players feel good about the game, you feel good about it too!

Spook205 wrote:
Yeah, that might work. The player in question keeps trying to bring up that he's wearing a sort of 'harness' and hanging beneath the Owb as if it were a jetpack, as opposed to riding it though.

Umm, I'd disallow this and go with Conall on this one. Said harness is affixed to a creature that, while a bloody skeleton weighs only 20 lbs. Yes, it can CARRY his weight but the actual bones are too weak to hang a cleric from.

Still if he want's to go that route I'd still rule it as an exotic saddle on a Medium sized mount, and all that that entails.

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In our current homebrew campaign my players' first adventure brought them face-to-face with a kobold mastermind with an insidious plan to flood the town. The party stopped it at the zero hour, but not without many near-death escapes! When all was said and done though, all I said was that their contact was so grateful in town that they'd all been given 4 Goods and 4 Labor (capital from the Downtime system in Ultimate Campaign) as a reward. So between the 5 PCs that's 4 Goods and 4 Labor EACH, totaling 40 capital.

Without hesitation they asked if they could build outside town at a spot they'd found in the first adventure. There was a grove near a tiny marsh but one guy's a druid and the other's a swamp druid. I said sure. Suddenly the 1/2 orc female barbarian is using Profession: Woodcutter to cut and mill trees, carefully selected by the druids, to expand the capital they have.

Now the PCs, only 2nd level, have a fieldstone cottage, Viking longhouse style, with a round tower. They are right on the edge of a stand of hardwood trees (and Darkwood if they go looking) and a marsh area rich with fish and animals (since there's a hunter in the party and the druids enjoy trapping and fishing). I am really encouraging them and want them to build up home base.

Is Trapfinding that the rogue has to be w/in 10' of the TRAP, or 10' of the trigger?

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10' from the trap, sure, but if you've got Trapspotter, Trapfinding and you are a player in a game where you know your GM is gonna drop traps on you, you better darn well be declaring Perception to detect traps constantly. In that instance no, Trapspotting doesn't find the trap but your Perception might be high enough to detect the magic trap before it goes off.

An Acid Arrow trap has a proximity trigger in the form of an Alarm spell. Perception isn't Detect Magic but with a 27 or higher the perceiver should be able to notice something off about the square they're about to enter which would set off the trap. It might look something like this:

PC's are navigating narrow halls when they come to this corner. The rogue is in front, scouting for ambushes and traps; the player rolls their Perception and gets a 28.

GM: As you approach the corner here (indicates the bend on the map) you notice an odd distortion in the air; dust particles just seem to hover a few inches off the ground despite there being no wind, wires, or webs to hold them there.

Rogue player: That's weird. Do I think it might be some kind of trap or something?

GM: You get the sense that a blind corner would be a great place for a trap or ambush, so yes it COULD be a trap.

Rogue player: Without moving INTO that square I want to look around and see if there's any other signs in the area, like scorches on the walls, bloodstains, or chips in the stone where weapons have impacted. Also I'm going to tell the wizard that I think some magic or something might be holding up the dust above the floor here.

Wizard player: I cast Detect Magic and concentrate for 3 rounds

GM: Ok, so the rogue is taking a 20 on their Perception and for 3 full rounds is doing nothing but visually inspecting every inch of the area. During that time the wizard is casting Detect Magic and concentrating. What's everyone else doing?

Fighter player: Knowledge: Dungeoneering; do I know of any underground hazard that makes dust float? Also I'm backing up to here (indicates the rear of the party) and keeping watch. (the player rolls 2 d20's)Knowledge check; 11, Perception; 21.

Cleric player: I'll be casting Guidance every round; once on the rogue, then the wizard, and finally on the fighter.

GM: Ok, here's what you find: rogue, you notice there are acid burns in several places around the square with the distortion; directional patterns indicate the acid came from down the hall, this way (indicates the area from which the Acid Arrow trap launches). The fighter doesn't recall any dungeon hazards or anything that cause what's happening but as he's looking back down the hall (roll for random encounter; an encounter is indicated. More rolls indicate 3 ghouls and a ghast) you spy 4 humanoid shapes moving through the darkness with practiced stealth, approaching the party; a nauseating stench wafts up the hallway from them. You notice them on round 2 and they seem to notice you as well despite still being 40' back. Are you taking any actions?

Fighter player: I draw my composite longbow and fire an arrow (rolls a d20 and a d8) 21; if it hits I did 11 damage. I tell the rest of the party we're about to have company.

GM: Ok you hit, but rather than drop like a sack of potatoes the creature keeps coming. Round 3, cleric and fighter give me initiatives; wizard is still concentrating and the rogue is committed to taking a 20. Speaking of the wizard, so far in rounds 1 and 2 you've discovered that there is a magic aura in the square where the dust is floating and in round 2 you've determined that there's only one aura which is of Faint strength.

Now the ghouls move up and begin the attacks; one charges the fighter and gets punched in the face but still hits with its bite; he doesn't get paralyzed but the cleric determines what they are. The ghast moves into position behind the first ghoul and the wounded one moves to the back; the fighter falls prey to the DC 15 stench aura from a terrible Fort save and gets Sickened.

The GM informs the wizard player that the aura is an arcane Abjuration spell and a roll from the wizard identifies it as an Alarm spell. On round 4 the rogue and wizard attempt to start aiding the fighter against the full attack of the ghast who survives his 2h sword power attack hit barely and then inflicts serious damage. The cleric channels and the combat progresses.

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One thing I keep forgetting:

OP Rules wrote:

2. The corresponding numbers will show you the five races on the list that will be the player races for your setting. These five races are the only "default assumption" choices for your setting's player race options.

So, this means that the five I roll up are just the default PC races. In my regular homebrew campaign right now I've developed kobolds with a whole society as a major part of the setting, but they're not a race the players want to use.

By that logic, my setting in this thread doesn't have to be ONLY the five races I make up. Think about it; what if you got x2 medusa, grippli, construct-based humanoids of your own creation and lizardfolk, but the setting was about how the humans, dwarves and elves replaced goblins, kobolds and orcs as the "villainous" races?

I have a PC in a game we're going to be starting; he's a brawler but it so happens that he's the defacto skills monkey. I took a trait to get Disable Device but I'll never get trapfinding. With this game I would've spent a trait, plus rare skill points to take a skill that now may not do what it's supposed to do because I myself am unlucky?

This might be a better alternative, and it engages the entire party: use the Chase mechanic.

Surprise round: as PCs are poking around the dungeon they detect the tell-tale signs of a trap. Since it's impeding their progress and they didn't roll high enough to know how to bypass it, they decide to disarm.

The GM rolls a d4; this trap will take three rounds to disarm.

Round 1: GM pulls a card, puts it down, and there's 2 obstacles: one can be removed by Disable Device and the PCs can move right on through that card to the next. However, if the PCs successfully cancel BOTH obstacles, they progress 2 cards (2 rounds).

Round 2 (and on) repeat round 1 until all the cards are resolved.

If the PCs botch both obstacles on a single card, the trap resolves (PCs fall in a pit, take the javelin attack, etc). If however someone in the party has Trapfinding then they can maybe get a do-over on a card or something.

This way not only is the rogue validated for taking Disable but also the wizard and fighter might get to tag-team on a knowledge: dungeoneering to identify a standard underground hazard associated with the trap or maybe the cleric gets to make a heal check to ID the poison used on the needle in the wall or whatever.

cnetarian wrote:
I dunno what the weapon is for, nor am I sure of the slam/claw, but the grapple make sense if you place the undead near the door to your shop/church and have them maneuver the customers/converts into your shop/church. A good way to drum up business, if they buy something/convert then you can let them leave by the back door.

5' wide hallway, along the length of which are dozens of skeletons hanging from manacles as well as chain belts holding them to the wall. It turns out the manacles at their wrists are a ruse; they can reach a full 5'. Anyone walking down said hall is constantly attacked.

If you want to get really creepy, make them some kind of sentient skeleton, like a Skeletal Champion. The creatures have levels of magus and can add spells to their claws or make grapples followed by spell-enhanced claw attacks. What's really creepy though is that NONE OF THEM WANT TO BE HERE!

The belts killed them/animated them. Each was a prisoner, left to die on these walls. Once horribly tortured by their own slow, agonizing death their skeletons were reanimated and controlled by some evil doer. Now they are forced to attack you but the whole time they're cradlng you, trying to kill you, they're whispering impossibly through their rattling jaws "I'm sorry; I'm so very sorry. One more soul, and then I rest. Sleep now; you sleep so I may sleep too, please!?!"

Race 1: 1d100 ⇒ 53 Medusa
Race 2: 1d100 ⇒ 38 Grippli
Race 3: 1d100 ⇒ 92 Construct Based Humanoid
Race 4: 1d100 ⇒ 23 Lizardfolk
Race 5: 1d100 ⇒ 53 Medusa

x2 Medusae. Hmm... perhaps a variant? Then a Grippli (frog-people), Constructs and Lizardfolk. Swampy forests, but scattered with limestone boulders, outcrops, and oddly humanoid-shaped stones.

My variant Medusae are modeled on Korreds. Long ago a descendant of the first Medusa felt true remorse and sought penance for their ancient sins. They were instead transformed into a bestial creature with wild hair but still bound to the stones they had made of mortalkind. Their penance was to create something from what they'd destroyed.

So there are still the medusa-prime, using their terrifying visage to turn mortals to stone. But their cousin-kin, the korreda use their powers over stone animate the rocks. A coven of korreda, united and using their powers can enact a rite to craft a sentient construct from the rocks.

So... the setting: The Wylds of Verdalith

This is an isolated timber wilderness nestled deep in the lowest vales of the Bonefrost Mountains. Thousands of years before the rise of Karnoss to the east the rugged swamps and forests of Verdalith were dominated by the great city of the Lizardfolk. The god-kings in their ziggurat employed grippli slaves and lorded over the woodland. Over time though their isolation and the dragons of the mountain ranges around them laid low the great civilization and all devolved into primitive chaos.

As small bands of the lizardfolk scoured the Bonefrost they came upon feral humans, the Ruken hillfolk. Unholy pacts and unions between the two resulted in abominations further shaming the once proud lizardfolk. Then Queen Med rose to power among the lizard folk and she wielded mighty eldritch forces. She gathered up her pitiful kind and returned to Verdalith, there ascending the old ruins and proclaiming herself not only great, but greater than any of the true gods. In return she was tested by the Divine and Profane.

Mad Queen Med failed.

The pureblood lizardfolk abandoned their old city once and for all, scattering into the interior of Verdalith to vie for territory among the grippli and the boggards. The human thralls fled the vale and though over the centuries some brave travelers and traders have returned, none dwell in the lands of Verdalith.

Queen Med, herself cursed as the first of the Medudsae, ruled a dominion of ruin. The horrifying abominations, half-lizardfolk, half-human, were her subjects and in her pitiful state she embraced them. Over time the Medusae bred true into their utterly terrifying visage as known today. For centuries to come the Snake Queen and her get would rise in power developing alchemy, mutation, and unleashing horrors across Verdalith. The depredations of the Medusae nearly razed the forests and made stone or worse of the sentient creatures here.

A thousand years ago, during a time of testing from the First World, the lands of Verdalith played host to fey eldest. The woodlands were once more renewed and returned to a primal state. One among the Medusae, Lady Kor begged the fey for aid. She threw herself at their mercies and showed remorse for all the sins her kin had wrought upon the face of Verdalith. The Eldest took pity on Kor and infused her with the power of the wild. She would help remake that which had been destroyed by her kind.

So now the Korreda battle against their cousin kin. The medusae once more rise in Verdalith, creating small settlements in which to create their alchemical sins. The simple korreda go about the land in the natural ways of druids and rangers, culling the land. Every so often they unite in covens; on these sacred moots they create the Gaurdinals - stony constructs with sentience and will who, once given form help their "mothers" hold back the horrors and aberrations wrought by the medusae.

With these two groups keeping one another in check the grippli and lizardfolk have rebuilt. Both races have raised themselves from primitive, stone-age lives to feudal settlements and iron-age technologies. Their small kingdoms coexist as peacefully as they can, trading and skirmishing along the borders where swamp meets forest floor.

89. 1/1 wall: chain a bunch of mindless undead to a wall and have them grapple and Slam/Claw anyone who walks by. For added fun, build a space between the undead to contain a weapon (and potentially ammo for ranged weapons) and have them attack intruders with that

But, I guess I don't get it: by RAW if you roll a success with a Disable Device you succeed. In your minigame, if you roll a success you only have a slightly better chance of winning. In the meantime if they want to try again it's supposed to get progressively harder. So even though the trap doesn't blow up in their face they keep rolling and playing the odds.

I want to go to there

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So, you're saying, account for the stat then?

To each their own, but I don't really adhere to penalize/reward for low/high stats, or even expect people to play specifically to their character's stats.

I have a gal playing a barbarian in my game currently. She often forgets, when not in combat, that even while not raging she is strong enough to take 10 and pull a DC 15 Break check.

GM: the kobolds have retreated through a field of loose boulders they have piled up for cover, under a low overhang and through a narrow cave opening. Said opening has no door but is Small sized

Players: how are we ever going to keep them from just retreating back out and hitting us from behind as we climb this hill

GM: the boulders are loose, but heavy; there are tool marks suggesting that the kobolds levered them into place

Players: but we don't have a handy lever. How are we supposed to move them

GM: you need someone strong

Barbarian: ...

GM: someone REALLY strong

Barbarian: ...

GM: someone in the party KNOWN for their amazing strength

Barbarian: ...

Other players: barbarian-girl! move the bloody rocks!

Bear in mind; said barbarian has a 12 Int, so not brainless by any stretch. Simply put there have been several situations where massive strength could be used to: hoist a heavy table as cover, move boulders, haul logs, throw another PC up to a ledge (or at least provide Aid Another as a boost up) and smash in a door. The gal playing the barbarian is not accustomed to thinking of herself as strong enough to press 300 lbs easy, so she doesn't default to acting like "strong girl."

Class 1: 1d100 ⇒ 3 Alchemist
Class 2: 1d100 ⇒ 76 Slayer
Class 3: 1d100 ⇒ 84 Summoner
Class 4: 1d100 ⇒ 49 Monk

So I've got someone who mixes bombs and mutagens, a hybrid of thieves and rangers, a class that summons monsters and power from other worlds and mystic martial arts types. This has a real Mortal Kombat vibe...

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I don't understand

Penguin's gambit to start the war. He sends a hit man, rigs it so hit man fails, and hit man's head goes to his boss in a box. I get how THAT works. The part I don't get though is how Falcone doesn't INSTANTLY go "I didn't hire this guy to do anything" and then start putting the pieces together and go kill Cobblepot.

With this show I just keep shrugging and going "But hey, it's Batman so... just keep watching" but I keep walking away feeling underwhelmed.

Insain Dragoon wrote:

I avoid this in general by giving these restrictions at character creation.

-24 PB
-No bonus points for dumping a stat
-Can't buy higher than a 16 on a single stat (can racial to 18)
-You get two traits

Keeps me from getting SAD casters who start with a 20 and allows MAD classes a chance to spread around points. Characters who are more well rounded without being ridiculous.

If a player wanted to role play something, then nothing is restricting or incentivizing it other than fun. In the end playing the character you want without odd rules getting in the way is what matters right?

So an array of 12, 15, 14, 12, 14, 12? Depending on race then he's got a +1 - +3 on

all saves
ranged attacks
Dex and Wis based skills

With 2 traits you have a good base for any Dex, Con or Wis build you need. Seems fair.

I don't always max out my primary ability, but when I do, its my Base Speed

Seriously, max it or don't. All that's gonna happen is either

1. you hit more often/spells are a little harder to save against/you've got higher AC or att bonus from range/etc.


2. you have just a little bonus in a lot of basic things

Which makes more sense based on what you're playing? If the GM pulls out the hard cover of Rappan Athuk, smiles maniacally and says "Winter is coming" more than likely you don't want a bunch of scattered bonuses. On the other hand if you show up to session zero and your GM greets you at his round door, freshly painted green, wearing a cloak and smoking a pipe, while grinning ear to ear about all the RP fun you're going to have over elevensees, you still probably want a laser focus on stats, just in the opposite direction.

However if your GM is likely to pull out Bestiary 1, make a random roll and then just run the vanilla monster he generated then you don't need that much. Starting at level 1 you need to consistently pull a +2 attack bonus, inflict at least 3.75 pts of damage/hit to significantly contribute, and nab at least a 13 AC at level 1, and then up one or 2 pts every level from there. Heck, a Halfling wizard with a 14 Dex using cantrips and a flask of acid does all this and then some, leaving plenty of room for him to go MAD with other stats.

TL/DR. I guess my point has always been: it depends on the game. If we're talking personal preference, I've always enjoyed spreading stats around.

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Lamontius wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Can we get back to arguing about whether or not you're a bad person if you start with an 18 instead of whether or not you're a bad person for saying a low Charisma means people don't like you?

17 16 14 12 10 7

haters gonna hate at level 4 and 8
and I am a poet and I did not even know it



... and ainters gonna aint.

The OP said nothing about the Underdark. He also didn't mention the dwarves being "miles underground." I'm putting my version of these dwarves 20' below the surface and going down from there.

They merely need to have "no access to the surface" per the OP. Fine; the dwarves refuse to breach the surface because reasons. That still doesn't mean they can't

1. live really close to the surface
2. utilize resources such as roots growing down through the roof or walls of their caves
3. have fantasy-type things like glowmold and such

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alexd1976 wrote:
thejeff wrote:

You also apparently can't tell unless he's actually making skill rolls. After all it's a mental stat and you can't tell unless it's actively being used to make rolls. (or Take 10s.)

Even then it's only the skills. If he's got a Know(Local) of 10 and an Int of 3, there's no way to tell he's dumb as long as you're on his topic.

I mean... has anyone on here ever MET someone with an IQ of 60? You can tell pretty easily... really guys...

Stupid is as stupid does sir. My mamma taught me.

Another way to play a 7 Cha: pretty but mean. Sure, everyone approaches you but a few words in your utter disdain for anything so mundane as OTHER people comes out. Every sentence you utter is dripping with sarcasm.

Cha 13 guy: I REALLY want to be your friend!

Cha 7 guy with the exact same physical attractiveness: I "REALLY" want to be YOUR "friend"...

Just tack on a little sarcasm and boom; you've got an unlikeable jerk who looks as attractive as everyone else.

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Also Tark I like where you're going with your stuff. Some other ideas:

Deep fried mushrooms on a bed of nettle leaves with roast mutton in a mustard sauce

Brine-boiled mutton served "corned" with boiled beets and cabbage; on the side is a stout-mustard sauce

A chilled plate of goat cheese, nettleberries and carrots

Peppered goat meat sliced thin and fried in goat butter and oil, then served with a smear of jellied shrieker and nettleberry preserves on flaxenbread and served with a sweet molasses-mead

(notes: molasses is tapped from tree roots growing down into the caves - it's fantasy, run with it; shrieker is the "jalepeno" of the fungus world; one bite and you're screaming! Muy Caliente!)

Boiled flax-and-nettle-leaf noodles, in a sour beer soup with carrots, onions, and crawfish, then seasoned with ground pepper and ginger; garnished with fresh, edible glowmold. Best eaten while still luminous, this dish is referred to as Torag's Beard Soup

Fresh blind flathead baked with sprigs of orange lichen that bear a slightly citrus flavor, then served with flax crackers and sweetened goat's butter

Mushroom pancakes (ground flax flour, diced honeydew mushroom caps) served with molasses and sweetened goat's butter; mutton sausages and cave lizard eggs on the side

Bitter lichens, nettle leaves, carrots, diced mushrooms, onions and pickled ginger tossed with an oil and nettleberry-vinegar reduction, and finally garnished with flax seeds. This is served as a pallet-cleanser in small portions with thin flax beer in a bowl

Boiled bats head soup garnished with radish, nettle leaves, carrots and onions with a hearty potato bread and flaxen stout

There is a flowering nettle plant that lives in near complete darkness in caves. There's also a long-established love of glowing molds, lichen and fungus in fantasy RPGs. This wouldn't even take spells.

1. the nettles (or other plants you want to make up; underground chicory, cattails, flax, etc) adapted to living underground before this area was completely sealed off, hundreds of thousands of years ago

2. The flowers attract insects; the poisonous nettles kill them

3. The soil fertilizes from dead matter; this also feeds glowing mold

4. the area collapses; no sunlight but the mold still thrives

5. the nettles adapt once more, growing from the light of the mold

So fast forward a few millennia, the dwarves have learned to cultivate gardens of mold, nettles and such. They have bred some version of the plant that is edible and use it as both their own forage and slop for underground herds such as the OP's "deep goats".

You could even have a few different varieties of subterranean plants, one of which is a grain like the above-mentioned flax. These, plus underground-adapted hops have been mashed and turned into beer because, in the absence of armies of folks casting Purify Food and Drink or constantly filtering water the dwarves get just as much hydration drinking thin beer as they do fresh water.

So you've got underground agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry, all without having to rely SOLELY on magic. Add in all the other stuff above: edible mushrooms, insects, fishing in the underground waters, bats and vermin, etc. and you've got TONS of food sources for completely underground dwarves.

To the OP: why don't the dwarves have access to the surface? Do they have lots of access to magic? If so what kinds? Without sunlight for a long time, are they really just variant duergar?

18. The Curse of the Stench
A hapless band of adventurers has returned to town with a unique witch's curse; the Curse of Stench. The foul odor will reek from their skin until either they are killed or cleansed. The trouble is no mere soap and water or simple Prestidigitation will do the trick. What's worse is that every animal or person they come in contact with will spread the blight until the entire town is consumed by stench. Their only hope, besides a powerful remove curse, is one of the herbal remedies of Lilly Greentongue. She has all she needs save the Moss of Dragonspit, a rare black lichen known to grow on the south face of stone shrines scattered throughout the Bleakmoss. These shrines are erected at the edge of pools of stagnant water or feted bogs. She is looking to hire a band of adventurers to venture into the moors and retrieve as much of the moss as they can. She has provided them a vial which they must first catch a bit of water in from one of the shrine bogs, then fill with the moss and return to the herbalist before three moonrises have passed on the first sample taken, lest the batch go sour. Its a matter of life or STENCH!

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Another thing to think about: Constitution.

If (for some foolish reason) a PC dumped Con but then played an Unbreakable fighter with Endurance, Diehard, Toughness and such we'd call him non-optimal, sure. But in this instance would you have the guy catching colds all the time, constantly risking Fatigued after walking a few hours or having make saves every time the pollen count went up?

Same with Charisma. You can begin with a negative penalty but that doesn't necessarily HAVE to lead to negative reactions everywhere. Just cuz a guy has a 7 Con you don't have him roll a Fort save when he walks into a spice merchant's shop to avoid knocking things over with his sneezing fits; so then why have a guy with a 7 Cha have to pay more to buy the salt and pepper for his meals?

Stats are the numbers from which the character begins, but they AREN'T the whole character. A guy with a 7 Str can learn to be a kick-ass fighter; a guy with a 7 Wisdom can still be a decent investigator; let the PCs be who they are regardless of what you may feel about their stats.

Now, on the other hand if the guy with the 7 Cha ROLEPLAYS walking into the spice merchant's shop, getting belligerent and insulting the merchant's mom, then by all means charge him double...

Brother Fen wrote:

Then why respond?

Has your group ever had a sense of anticipation for the next part of an adventure? "I can't wait til we get to the dungeon or get to fight the next batch or undead or finally make it to the Golden City of Death".

Just like teasers for a movie, it helps them look forward to what is coming next.

If you want to sit at my table and say "boring" you may move along because we won't get along.

Thanks for the suggestions [Hulk Hogan Voice]BROTHER![/Hulk Hogan Voice]

I now know how to intro my next campaign for my players:

[Movie Trailer Guy Voice] "In a world, where everything is darkness and pain," cutscene - peasants running, screaming; dragon strafes the buildings in the background "when those who rule ignore those who serve" cutscene - the king and his court kneel before a lich who laughs heartily as it settles into the throne "and when all hope is lost" cutscene - back to the village, a fiery wall is toppling towards a pair of little girls, a woman in the background screams out "MY BABIES!" as the crowd overruns her "heroes shall rise!" Cutscene - a barbarian lands just in time to catch the wall on her back, grunting with the effort but saving the girls; a downpour of water appears as a wizard conjures it forth, even as his familar flies over with even more from a bucket; a druid with a warcat animal companion and a hunter with a wolf companion leap in front of the dragon wheeling in the air and lowering to charge; a female swamp druid summons a pair of fire beetles to fly in, grab the girls out of harm's way and deliver them, unharmed, to their crying mother. The dragon is charging toward us, the barbarian throws off the wall and draws her greatsword falling into line with the other 2; the swamp druid is suddenly surrounded by a buzzing swarm of insects obscuring the edges of the frame; the wizard steps up behind them calling out "This tyrant has breathed his last blast. The people of this town have done NOTHING wrong, and yet they suffer. No longer my friends; now it ends!" fade to violence. Then...

Cutscene - dragon attack!

Cutscene - barbarian versus lich!

Cutscene - druids using their spells in unison to hold back evil plants as a fey eldest forces a Blight to spread!

Cutscene - The wizard is falling through the sky, all the while sending blast after blast at hundreds of circling gargoyles; the entire screen is FILLED with screaming NOISSEEE!!!!

Cutscene - black screne, labored breathing in the dark; the druid's voice "I think we lost them!" Hunter's voice as his eyes suddenly glow with primal power in the center of the screen "Think again, my friends" wizard casts Dancing Lights; the entire chamber around them, a huge underground vault, is flooded with eerie green glow; kobolds surge at them from EVERY direction! music "DUh Duh Duh DUHHHHHHH!"

"The Sothryn Wylds: a Sandbox. Coming soon, to a tabletop near you. Let your adventures begin..." [/movie Trailer Guy Voice]

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I've never understood this whole Cha dump thing. I briefly had point buys at my table and hated it. Now I'm back to rolling 4d6, take the best three, and re-roll 1's. I've been told mine is a "light" world.

As for RPing your stats, it's another thing I've never understood. Sure, you can play a guy with a 7 Cha as smelly, socially awkward and such, but you're still going to be expected to enter a weapons shop, pick up a battle axe and pay 10 GP for it.

In real life I've known A LOT of shy, socially awkward or generally smelly people. Most of the bars I go to have at least 1 or 2 "Regulars" who mutter to themselves, smell and sometimes get belligerent. They are still served though and they're not charged any more than any other dude. Why would it be any different in a fantasy RPG?

Plus there's the TV Trope Ash-hat posted upthread. Consider you're a Commoner, even say level 3 and let's even give you a Heroic array. You've run a bar you're whole life and you're a pretty good judge of character (Sense Motive +5). In walks a wild-eyed, 6.5' tall behemoth of a half-orc covered in spiked hide armor with a battle axe on one hip and a klar on the other. Flies circle him because he hasn't bathed the caked blood from his arms and every few steps he mutters something incoherent.

A menu window pops up in your head. You can either:

1. charge him the regular amount of gold, serve him and hope you make it through this alive

2. Grab the club under the bar and run him out of the place yelling

3. Sneer at his obviously uncouth ways and serve him the grog at double cost

Now if you go #2 or #3 you run the risk of battle. You've got a BAB +1, a Masterwork club (he's level 3 after all) and a 17 Str, so you're no pushover. Still that means you've got a total of +5 to hit so if the dude in front of you has NO Dex bonus you've got a roughly 50/50 shot of hitting. If you connect you're dropping 1d6+4 on your foe, an avg of 7 HP. Even if the giant is only level 1 you're going to need to stay toe to toe with him for 2 rounds and hope he doesn't have Ferocity. So... what are you going to do? Risk it all because this guy is crude?

Then the barbarian finally speaks:

"I'm terribly sorry to have bothered your patrons old man. My natural appearance and habits appear awkward and uncouth but in reality I've just been teleported here and didn't have the chance to freshen up. Perhaps you might pour me a draft of the lovely Redwulf Ale I spied behind the counter and then run me a bath?"

You see, this barbarian is actually about 9th level and has a Diplomacy +8 thanks to a Trait he took years ago. He's got a 7 Cha but once in the door and in conversation you realize he's a pretty nice guy with a terrible first impression.

You know who else is like that? Almost every hard-core gamer I've ever met. Initially there's a social stigma about us and coupled with our standard dress, slang in our speech and such we tend to be sort of ostracized (See: Big Bang Theory) however once you get us talking you'll realize that we're canny liars and blowhards (Bluff), practiced at the art of formal discourse and debate (Diplomacy) and some of us use those negative stigmas to get ahead in lunch lines (Intimidate).

TL/DR. Please stop assuming that, just cuz a guy in your game has a 7 Cha everyone should naturally loathe him just walking down the street. There are SO many other reasons for adventurers to be hated and feared (See: murderhobo) that their Base Ability Scores shouldn't be one of them.

Lots of creeps get served in bars, that's why there's bars.

As for not maximizing primary stats to me it's a matter of game style. Consider at 1st level that, if the GM is going completely RAW and not modifying their creatures at all, the avg AC for CR 1 creatures is a 12. If your fighter has a +1 BAB at level 1 this means they only need a Str 12 to have a 50/50 shot at hitting such creatures and a Str 14 gets the PC Power Attack while maintaining that 50/50 shot.

So, if the GM is going completely RAW you might have a fighter with a 14 Str and a 16 Cha after racials. He's a charmer, one everyone wants to hang with, but in a fight he's brutal and powerful enough to put a man down with one hit (2h greatsword from this guy at level 1 including Power Attack deals 2d6+6, Avg 13 damage).

Then again if your GM routinely hands you a CR 2 fight with 4 gear-and-stat-optimized kobold warrior 1 in the dark, underground, in conditions favorable to the kobolds, building the villains as snipers with alternate racial traits and giving them a kobold Adept 3 leader optimized to use their familiar with an archetype to actually lend aid in battle in a significant way... you better pray to the god of skinny punks your PCs are optimized. 2 rounds in (Surprise round and round 1) the kobolds have put 5 shortbow arrows into your cleric who's now taken 12 damage and is unconscious, plus the rogue has been Sickened by a Surprise touch attack from the adept's familiar which led to him getting Fatigued. Soon enough it'll be time for the Adept to pull off that Sleep spell and suddenly the PC wizard is alone save for their familiar, running for their life through trap-infested tunnels and hoping the sniper kobolds don't catch up to them again!

Not that anything like that's ever happened in my game...

Wand of Touch of the Sea. Swim speed, double holding breath. Also... a boat. If you want to get magical Shrink Item and carry it in your pocket.

Absalom has a couple. The city leader is Gyr and he ceded a sister city to House Arnsen. The 2 rulers had been friends but now are bitter enemies.

I'm sure there's more I'm missing.

68. Gardeners. Back in 3.5 I had a ruined abbey of the goddess Wee Jas (Magic, Death) with a cemetery and instead of caretakers they had a shed full of zombies who could wield tools to keep the grass mowed, the graves clean, etc.

69. Animated tables. Take a Small sized skeleton, use its hands to grasp a shield over its head and voila(SP?)!

70. Alchemical Bomb Delivery Service: presumably skeletons have a cavity where their organs should go. Fill these with splash weapons or bombs. To detonate either hit them from a distance with a bludgeoning weapon/attack, target a wick in one of the bombs with a Spark spell or simply enjoy your enemy smashing the skeleton themselves.

OMG I completely forgot roots! So when we think of dwarf halls a lot of us think of Lord of the Rings and enormous stone vaults. I personally forgot the fact that a lot of those halls start as caves and a lot of caves are earthen with roots growing down into them.

You could have the dwarves subsisting on roots and tubers cultivated from the plants growing above. Carrots, onions, potatoes, maybe ginger or licorice (is that a root?), its just that the dwarves pull them down instead of digging them up.

As for protein there's tons of options mentioned throughout this thread. Everything from insects and crawfish to goats and pigs. I like goats personally because 1. goats do well in the mountains, 2. their milk can produce additional products.

Between magic, fantastic edibles, and the RL animals, plants and fungi native to such environments it looks like you've got plenty to go on.

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Ok LG, let's clarify: did you bail because your one PC's elk couldn't charge in the Underdark, or did you bail because your GM railroaded you there in the first place. These are 2 separate issues.

This is something else that frequently happens in this hobby: railroading. This is when the GM wants you to go do X in the plot (go to a place, meet an NPC, whatever) and refuses to let you succeed at any other course of action until you do it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, so long as everyone at the table is having fun and willing to go along with it. It sounds from the above though that you and the other players weren't into it.

So G Force, help us understand what's really going on in your game. There's a big difference between "You go in the forest and recover the gem, now on to step 2 in the Underdark" and "EVERYTHING YOU DID WAS FAILURE! TO THE UNDERDARK WITH YOU!!!"

Class 1: 1d100 ⇒ 48
Class 2: 1d100 ⇒ 63
Class 3: 1d100 ⇒ 27
Class 4: 1d100 ⇒ 9

Magus, Ranger, Cleric, Arcanist

The Corpseward Corps

The grave waits for us all, and all are born to die. Some just need a reminder

Those who've been touched by death and undeath are often scarred by their experience. Some turn away in fear and others seek the solace of religion or drink to numb the pain. The rare few called to fight find their training in the Corpseward Corps

The Corps is unique in that, unlike many undead-hunting organizations they fight fire with fire. The magi in their ranks are all Blackblades with a unique means of awakening their weapons: soul binding.

The Corpse Hunter Rangers hunt for particularly powerful, sentient undead. These creatures are not initially destroyed. Instead a portion of their sentience is bound by Arcanists and Clerics into the Blackblades to be harnessed against the enemies of the Corpseward Corps.

The undead are bound to service in other ways as well. Some of the most powerful members of the organization are in fact sentient undead themselves. The clerics of the Corps are always neutral, employing their spells and sometimes their channeled energies to dominate the undead. The grunts of the Corps are skeletons, zombies and others from among the base undead impressed into service for the crime of their unlife.

Even the Corpse Hunters employ ghoulish beasts called Hounds (wolf with the Ghoul template applied). Its said that a plague spread through these animals and the rangers, rather than put them down now put them to use hunting others among the restless dead.

So if you've got festrogs running wild or packs of zombies on the loose; if the skeletal remains of your dead grandmamma just came calling for tea, have no fear. Soon you'll hear the sickly baying of the Hounds and the Corpseward Corps will not be far behind.

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Ok, whoa everyone, chill. It takes 2 to tango in this game: GM's and players.

So to the OP: you say the campaign was under way already and you had no forewarning at character creation of what was to come. Rather you planned for straight-forward gaming on flat, open ground. I will tentatively agree with some other posters: this is a common thing in tabletop RPGs that your environment will not always be ideal for the characters you built.

To your credit just having Narrow Frame for your mount wouldn't have covered going underground. I played a PC, a gestalt ranger/cavalier recently. He was a Halfling riding a wolf, I figured I'd be safe since he's Medium and I knew we'd be heading underground. Then my GM gave me a chasm. How do you get a Medium sized wolf across a 40' chasm?

My point is: I can understand your trepidation.

That being said, here are some alternatives you could've offered before bailing:

1. Talk to your GM: get on the same page with them. Don't ask them to reveal any of their campaign plans but be frank and ask if there will be situations in the upcoming section of the game unsuited to riding a freaking ELK around.

2. Create new PCs: seriously, think about it. In a lot of RPG-style video games you build a new party before a mission, picking new or old PCs from the "tavern" or whatever based on what you need for the adventure ahead. You could just as easily had the 2 guys with giant animals say "look we'll only slow you guys down in the Underdark, but we know some guys..." and bam! 2 new PCs

3. Magic: Fly/levitate, light/dancing lights (for your vision), Grease for Escape Artist checks on your mounts. There are a LOT of ways to muddle through these situations.

So I think the players and the GM in this campaign need to have a sit down and come to grips with what needs to happen to move the game forward. You guys, as players, are new and got concerned. It happens. Just know that if you continue on in this hobby this is going to happen from time to time. You won't have a splash weapon for swarms; you'll forget to grab ranged weapons; you'll build for combat and there'll be lots of skill challenges. The mark of a good player is to learn from these shortfalls and try to avoid running from them.

Next time you guys make characters you'll ask more questions and consider environments before choosing mounts. If you still go Large sized, you'll know to think about HOW to deal with challenging environments before they hit.

Most PCs can't afford a wand until level 2. At level 3 Wizards get a 2nd level divination spell called Elemental Speech; they can talk to elementals. Follow me here:

1. Put the spell on a scroll
2. Cast the spell before heading into a battle
3. Using the Share Spells feature put the personal spell on your familiar
4. Your familiar can now speak the command word... in elemental.

The rules say you have to speak the wand's command word, but not what language to use. This may work in a home game (check w/your GM) but probably not in PFS.

Frankly I'm all for familiars wielding wands. Any familiar in my game is a viable candidate. The way I figure it, if you take a vanilla familiar w/no archetype and are willing to spend a feat on it so it can use UMD skill, why would I nullify those choices? For that matter even some of the familiar archetypes aren't all that useful long-term so why have the character choose an option (familiar) that is just dead weight on their character?

I wholeheartedly encourage PCs in my games to use their familiars. If they're small and dexterous enough to hold things in their paws I give characters some extra move-equivalent options: "my squirrel draws a dagger for me so I can full attack with 2 weapons." Aid Another, UMD, extra hands or eyes; these are the cornerstone of having a familiar IMO.

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You said the game takes place "mostly underground" and that the dwarves don't trade with the surface. That's fine; here's some suggestions:

Sun rooms: dwarves create solar tubes to direct sunlight down into their halls. This diffused sunlight isn't great but it does allow for crops to grow. Small gardens and water grains are grown in these chambers. Over time as kobolds and other lower-dwelling light-sensitive creatures have invaded and claimed dwarf territory, these rooms have come to serve a different purpose: torture. Kobolds, being primarily lawful take dissidents to these rooms and chain them to where the sunlight pools, forcing their eyes open with toothpicks.

Frostgrass: just like green plants on the tundra there are some green plants that survive in fissures and glacial rifts. Canny dwarves have learned to recreate these conditions where their halls exit onto frozen cliffsides. Just at these entryways are hoarfrost gardens where domesticated goats graze. Never one to leave resources unused, the scat from these animals is even processed. Through Purifying spells as well as good old-fashioned work undigested greens and grains are extracted and then boiled in a mash for a pleasing, if nutty fermented drink.

These, plus the suggestions above this and the inclusion of spells like Daylight, Plant Growth and finally the invention of some unique, setting specific lichen and fungi would give the dwarves plenty of food sources.

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They might be shy, or reserved, or feel silly/awkward doing in person what they used to do whatever happened behind screens before. Your players are people and they have fears and anxieties like any other humans. Its only natural that they have great cerebral ideas for their PCs (good backstories) but don't really dive into roles when they're at the table.

This might be it for how they RP in person, and the challenge falls to you as a GM and fellow player of the game to be willing to accept that. Talk to them. See if they're comfortable with this level of engagement and if it is, so be it. If you want more and they're not ok with it you may be looking for other players.

If however everyone at the table says they need to RP more (whatever that means; it's very subjective) then here's some ways to help nudge them:

1. Encourage skill use: create social or puzzle-based encounters. One I like to use at 1st level as an ice-breaker is the "heroic save" scenario. PCs are in public (town, in the middle of a ship, on a road in the midst of a caravan, etc) when monsters appear. Said monsters are everywhere and the players could spend the entire session just fighting. Suddenly a cry rings out: "MY BABIES! PLEASE! SOMEONE SAVE THEM!" followed by the crashing of wood. Two little girls are trapped; could be under a fallen cart, could be in a runaway caravan, or maybe on the second story of a burning building. Now sure, there are monsters everywhere and all of the public area is in jeopardy but what hero in their right mind would let a kid die? Saving the girls isn't about JUST murdering monsters. The PCs will have to lift a broken cart that's full of goods and swarming with monsters; maybe they have to control the panicking draft horses all the while batting monsters off a moving vehicle; they've got to get INTO the burning building or scale the side, dealing with the hazard as well as the creatures they're fighting.

2. Now that you've got them thinking like heroes, treat them as such: create the kids' mom as an NPC. She should have something relevant to offer the PCs after the fight; I usually go with the mom being influential around the neighborhood and spreading the word that the PCs are heroes to give them a 10% cost of living decrease. But then its on you as the GM to RP that boon. It's not enough to say "cost of living is reduced." Show them HOW it's reduced. "Oh, it's YOU guys!" the shopkeeper says, pushing another patron out of your way. "Right this way heroes! I've got deals for you on these fine masterwork backpacks just in from up north. Genuine dragon hide! Nothing but the best for our heroes!"

3. Ask the players "How?": everything these guys do, even when they fumble an attack, should add something to the overall narrative of how awesome they are. If you're just telling them about it they might feel left out. Instead challenge them with the word "how" as in:

Player: I attack with my battleaxe
GM: How?
Player: Huh? I just told you, with the axe.
GM: No, how do you attack with it?
Player: What, like, what feats? I've got...
GM (interrupting): no, describe it to me. What are you trying to do?
Player: Umm... I don't know, trying to... umm... hit the orc in his face
GM: Ok, roll
Player: Umm... 18. Does that hit?
GM: You drop sideways, luring his head just a half inch closer then pivot, bringing the axe up and down in a deadly arc! As it hurtles right for the orc's face he moves with it, minimizing the blow! You hit but didn't manage to cleave his face; instead you came down glancing off his collarbone to lodge in his shoulder. Roll your damage...

Then apply the same dialogue to social encounters. Ask HOW when the PCs gather info, intimidate, research between adventures, or use other non-combat skills. Even when it's as simple as making a Climb check in the wilds ask them how they're doing it. This gets your players in the habit of describing their character; his actions, mannerisms, and method of action in all things. Hopefully, with practice and repetition the players will just learn to work this into everything without your prompting.

4. Remind your players their characters should always be doing SOMETHING: the story of the game might be made up or narrated by you, but it goes nowhere without the players moving it forward. As such they should never be standing around doing nothing. I like to roll initiative for everything to keep my players engaged. Example:

GM: the hallway dead ends in a solid oak door 30' ahead.
Ranger: Ok, I check for traps
GM: roll initiative
Ranger: what? Who's attacking?
GM: No one yet; I want to know what everyone's doing.
Wizard: I got... 15
Fighter: 6
Inqisitor: 18!
Ranger: 11
GM: Ok, inquisitor; what're you doing?
Inquisitor: Umm... I check for traps
GM: How
Inquisitor: Right! Um, I cast Guidance on myself and ask Pharasma for divine insight. My guy has Darkvision so I'm just going to inspect the area visually through the darkness. I got... a 23 Perception
Wizard: Well I'm going to tell my owl to circle the area in a visual search as well while I cast Detect Magic and try to sense any auras in the area. My familiar got... 12. Crap.
Ranger: well I've got a glaive with reach so I'm going to prod around and try to search for traps that way. Perception... 19
Fighter: My guy has Knowledge: Dungeoneering. Can I use that?
GM: to do what?
Fighter: Well, it says I can identify underground hazards and monsters and stuff. I'll look around and try to identify any normal hazards or see if anything looks out of place.
GM: Ok, give me a Knowledge check
Fighter: Umm... SWEET! 21!
GM: OK, here's what happens...

The group begins to spread out. The inquisitor kneels briefly to the holy symbol in her hand, then rises and peers into the dark. She notes an odd, wet patch on the floor but can't quite make it out with much detail though it smells faintly of lamp oil. The wizard sends his owl off and casts his spell detecting a faint aura on the side where the oil has gathered though his familiar notes nothing. Ranger, as you're tapping you don't notice anything out of the ordinary but just as you're moving up to the next area you can reach the fighter spots something. The kobolds you've encountered so far have favored fire and there is unnatural scorching on the wall near where the oil has gathered; normally such would be the result of a torch bracket or something but none are present here and the normal dank breezes you've been feeling down here seem to breathe upward through a tiny hole in the ceiling.

Congratulations: together the team detected a Burning Hands trap that chars everything in a 15' radius beneath the hole. You might mention the PCs have a bad feeling (those who rolled a 20 or higher) and then they can decide what to do next. Bottom line as all of the advice begins to come together the hope is that your players feel engaged, empowered and willing to insert themselves into the role of their characters at a moment's notice.

Auxmaulous wrote:
This adventure is difficult. There are parts where everything is not level appropriate and the players will curb stomp the threats. And then there are parts that are not level appropriate where the players will die horribly.

Aux I hope the players aren't dying horribly at your table. Their characters, sure, but otherwise there might be something else at play here.

For serious though this is a tough megadungeon, even for veteran players. I stole a couple levels merging them whole hog into a megadungeon I was running turning my campaign into a modified RA. In that instance I gave 4d6, re-roll 1's and starting gold of 150 GP/person. I had 2 PC deaths early on, and these were players confident in taking on CR+3 fights even AFTER a couple fights in the day.

I would urge all GMs to warn your players: build your characters well, understand all of the rules of fight AND flight in whatever system you're running, and most of all keep track of all the exits, even if one's a rat's tunnel.

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