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Hey everyone. This thread is locked for now to continue focus on the Top 32, but eventually, this will be the place where you should post your item if you'd like to see the judge critiques (if any) and receive critiques from others. To keep from filling up the subforum's display with threads, we'd prefer if non-judges who want to critique items also use this official thread.
This thread will unlock at 2pm PST.
EDIT: And it's open!
If you're planning to submit and you haven't yet, you owe it to yourself to just go ahead and submit. If everyone waits to the last minute, that could cause load on the server which lags you out or any other number of possible things that could happen. Don't let that be you! Submit your item as soon as possible!
~Your friendly Round 1 Judge
In the spirit of Sean's awesome advice in previous years, I will provide a much shorter list of advice for this year. Note that in some cases, this advice might not help you make it past the voting to the point where the judges get to see your item, but if you do make it past, it will help you win me over. I may add more tips over time later in the thread and will probably collect them in this post also if I do.
1) Do not submit a wondrous item: If you submit a wondrous item, you will be rejected. If you submit a weapon that is basically a wondrous item that starts with "This +1 longsword..." then you have submitted a wondrous item.
2) Use the templates: I'm not going to reject you automatically if you use the templates but don't get a perfect 100% Template Fu score, but if you don't even give us some of the information we ask for (for instance submitting body text alone with no price, requirements, etc) that is an extremely bad sign.
3) Watch your spelling and grammar: It makes you seem unprofessional if there are numerous spelling and grammar errors, and if you have, for instance, blatant misspellings that could be caught by a spellchecker, it makes it seem like you didn't take the time to ensure the quality of your submission. Misspelling a weird Golarion name that isn't in the spellchecker is more understandable.
4) Staves are the hard option this year: Staves might seem to be the easiest option on the surface, in that you can pick a few spells and call it a staff. However, in reality, making a Superstar staff is going to be harder than any of the other types. If you actually do so, and you make an item that is both Superstar and distinctly an item that fills the staff design space (as opposed to a rod, for instance) I will take notice. But that's if you both succeed and make it past the voters. Take this path at your own risk.
5) Consider who can use your item: Making an item incredibly expensive or limiting your item to a tiny niche (such as warpriests of Desna only, or something like that) is quite risky. On the one hand, it might seem like a higher price tag makes it easy to give a crazy and exciting power that seems more Superstar to you, but on the other hand, if you can do that with a lower price tag, you've made an item that is much more usable throughout a campaign, and you've demonstrated your own skill more so than with the enormously expensive item.
6) Beware of using odd rules from obscure books, and if you do so anyway, be sure to cite it: For instance, if you created a mortifying armor that started talking about its effects on rituals of mortification out of the blue, with detailed rules text that interacts with the nuances of the text in Chronicle of the Righteous, then you need to cite Chronicle of the Righteous there so that people have a chance of figuring out what your item does. Even then, someone voting on your item probably doesn't have the book, so they're likely to vote you down, since they won't be able to figure out what your item does.
7) Think like an author, not like a player or a GM: Designing something that sparks your own excitement is a great way to tap into a wellspring of awesome and come up with a Superstar item. But beware when you do this; if the reason the item excites you is how thrilled you are at the power the item would have were you to own such an item, you'll fall into this trap, as you're more likely to design the item for the wrong reasons and wind up with an item that is way too powerful or that falls into too much of a niche (see #5 above).
8) Even if you have enough wordcount for it, don't use your wordcount to explain your item, or try to convince the reader: For instance, if you include a note that says "Note: Even though helms are usually a wondrous item, my dwarven boulder helmet is still a weapon because that's actually a type of weapon, so don't vote it down for being a wondrous item, OK? Notice how the powers are all weapon related and how tightly the dwarf theme connects each one. It's a work of art, man." In that case, you're right. A dwarven boulder helmet indeed is a weapon. If you just made it and didn't try to explain, I wouldn't have downvoted you for submitting it or rejected it as a judge. But now I will.
9) Don't outthink yourself: Sometimes you have the item perfect and then you ruminate on it for too long and you outthink yourself and change something that actually makes it worse. It's one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do as a freelancer, but you need to be able to figure out the time when it's just ready to send, after which more time is going to hurt you. As people, we like to abstract the world in such a way that more time in means more effect out (it's why we love progress bars even though many progress bars are just guesses to give the illusion of progress), and figuring out when that isn't true is really hard. Glad that's you guys who have to figure it out this year and not me!
More possibly to come.
I am being haunted by the Pathfinder Combat Pad.
It all started when Linda added it to my cart several months ago just to see what the cost and S&H would be and then removed it.
It started re-appearing in my cart randomly over the weeks, maybe a dozen times in total. Spooky.
Eventually, I made an order to buy it (and hopefully end the ghost's unfinished business) a few weeks ago, but it looks like that didn't go through at all, no charge, no confirmation e-mail. I realized this when my pending subscription order didn't have it today. Weird.
So today, I bought it again. This time it went through, and while buying, the haunted pad told me it was going to be combined with my subscription order. However, then it didn't combine. Is there any way to exorcise this spirit and combine it with my subscription order, or have I become a Haunted Oracle?
Tyali, Desna's Swashbuckler Lyrakien Swashbuckler13/Master of Many Styles 1 (CR 15 technically, but she's a CR 2 with 14 class levels, so let's call her level 16 and use WBL for 16)
HP: 167 (currently 175 from false life scroll)
AC: 48 (+11 Dex, +5 Wis, +2 Size, +2 enh to natural, +2 deflection, +4 armor, +1 Dodge, +4 Fighting Defensively, +1 insight, +2 luck, +1 haste, +3 Nimble) or 58 vs one target of her choice
Saves: Fort +16, Ref +28, Will +18 (+10 more when using Charmed Life)
Traits: Fate's Favored, Duelist
Feats: Phantom Weapon Finesse and Improved Critical from Swash features, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Weapon Focus (Starknife), Greater Weapon Focus (Straknife), Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike, Crane Style, Crane Wing, Crane Riposte, Weapon Specialization, Osyluth Guile, Combat Reflexes, Signature Deed (Parry and Riposte), McFarland's Maneuver (New Dex to Damage Feat)
Gear: Cloak +5, Blinkback Belt, +5 Evil Outsider Bane Starknife, Ioun Stones of +2 Str, +2 Wis, +2 Con, Headband of +6 Cha, Boots of Speed, Cracked +1 to Attack Ioun Stone, Cracked Initiative Ioun Stone, Jingasa, Gloves of Dueling, +6 Dex Ioun Stones (ouch 72k!), Ring of Protection +2, Amulet of Natural Armor +2, Luckstone, Over 10k in Expendables
Tyali was once the familiar of the PC who has Rhiana as a cohort (this is actually true in our Kingmaker game). In this universe, she thought Rhiana was awesome and struck out on her own after training with Rhiana. She wandered for a long time until she heard a rumor about a cavernous cathedral to Lamashtu deep in the Abyss where Lamashtu stored away Curchanus's last expression of paternal love for his pupil Desna. Tyali decided to go get that item by entering into the Abyss, but she didn't realize that it would be through a long tunnel, all of which was covered in a forbiddance effect keyed to Chaotic Evil alignment.
Entering the tunnel immediately dealt her 6d6 damage, with a DC 30 Will save for half. She managed to take half, and she healed herself to full with a CLW wand. However, her biggest fear came from the other half of forbiddance--she now couldn't use dimensional magic such as plane shift to escape.
She finally made it into the final cathedral and saw the crystallized love on a pedestal, but before her stood a terrifying foe indeed, the mighty Balor Lord (from Demons Revisited) Karaznak, a being of madness, lesser spawn of Lamashtu himself, and covered in hideous malformed growths, unlike other balors. In fact, he has all the abilities of the Balor Lord from Demons Revisited but also has four secondary tentacles with Grab that Constrict for 1d6 Wisdom Drain, just for Lamashtu style points.
Despite Tyali's +41 to Stealth, Karaznak has +44 and barely notices her as she emerges from the end of the tunnel 30 feet from his position in front of the pedestal (-3 to Perception), so there is no surprise round.
Karaznak is somewhat shocked that a tiny little butterfly girl just did 407 damage in one round, particularly since this would have killed an ordinary balor instantly. He was considering leading off with implosion and disarming her weapon with telekinesis (the latter of which auto-fails because level 11 swashbucklers are crazy people) since she was at range and that's what his tactics says, but instead he is going to use the brutal trick in the tactics: quickened telekinesis to pull her in and then full attack. Tyali makes her Will save against DC 24 without using Charmed Life, but that's no fun, right? So I'll say she failed just to see what happens; note that this is basically GM fiat for the balor lord. He decides to fling her to be right next to him and full attack, entering a rage. He makes four vorpal unholy longsword attacks, three whip attacks, and four secondary tentacles. His first longsword attack is a natural 14 for a 54, which misses Tyali's AC. His others only hit on a 20, so they all miss. His first whip attack is a natural 13, which misses Tyali's AC. His others only hit on a 20, so they all miss. One of his 4 tentacles does hit on a Natural 19, and she fails to Parry. She could deflect it with Crane Wing, but she wants to save that for a Natural 20, so she uses Dodging Panache for +10 AC to make it miss and moves five feet away from him. It turns out she never used the Crane Wing. Oh well! He bleeds for 11.
On her turn, she takes a 5 foot step back, out of reach (except the whip, which doesn't threaten) and annihilates him. No crits, but still he is so negative that there is nothing left of him, particularly since he actually goes on unconscious after the second hit and dies from rage ending. I'll be nice to him and say his rage was still up for the explosion, so that's a DC 37 Reflex save or take 100 damage. She uses Charmed Life for a +10 and now has +38. She didn't roll a 1 and thus took no damage.
After her flawless victory against the Balor Lord Karaznak, Tyali recovered Curchanus's last memory of love for his pupil and continued on her way out, praying that Lamashtu had not taken notice and sent an opponent that would be a fairer match against a mid-to-high-level Swashbuckler than a Balor Lord.
We just finished a run of First Steps part 1. The other two characters were a Mad Dog Barbarian and iconic Lem. We nearly TPKed due to bad luck, but the new classes did pretty well, other than Alistair (the Investigator)'s relative lack of utility in combat.
First we needed to get a box from an imp. Since he had a trait that said he used logical arguments for diplomacy, Alistair used his infernal logic to talk down the imp, pointing out that it would be better for its own goals to give us the box.
Then, we needed to do simple puzzles for Osirion, which we did.
Then we investigated an old woman to see if her orphanage was worthy of charity. Alistair the investigator used his Knowledge: Local (and inspiration) to know lots of stuff and then came in for a sting operation pretending to be a sketchy guy with business deals for the old woman. Since the other Pathfinders spooked her, she agreed to give Alistair her illicit black market medicines in case there was a search. She also agreed to make the orphanage an alcohol-smuggling checkpoint in exchange for rare liquors.
Last, we searched for a box from the Sczarni and fought three rats. The Mad Dog Barbarian and her moose dropped all of them, though Alistair staggered one with a claw and his flank was needed to drop it. We took no damage from this fight. Then Alistair used Acrobatics to reach the crate and lowered onto the boat with the Shaman and Lem.
On the way back, we were ambushed by the usual ambush. Alistair managed to raise his AC to 21 and took control of the narrows, and Ledford missed on his charge. Larkin rolled a natural 16 to tumble through Alistair's square (he needed the 16 to succeed) and then two consecutive 18s to confirm a critical sneak attack, dropping Alistair to -1 and retaking control of the narrows. The shaman enlarged the mad dog (who was a gnome so was now medium). The mad dog rolled 3, 3, and 5 over three rounds, and Deandre's channels nearly killed unconscious Alistair while Ledford took out the mad dog. The shaman had a battle shaman combo that made him heal for 11 every time without rolling, so he woke up the mad dog, who dropped Ledford from the ground. Then the shaman healed Alistair from -10 (he used inspiration to keep this from being -12 and dead) to 1 hit point. Deandre channeled for 3, and Alistair saved to be at 0, but the mad dog was dropped to -2. Then Lem's sleep took out all but Halli. Halli came back with color spray but failed to cast defensively. Alistair swiped and missed twice. Halli woke up Deandre, but Alistair and the shaman managed to drop her due to a nat 20 AoO crit from Alistair that he spent inspiration to confirm. Then on his own turn Alistair dropped Halli with two claws.
Notably, after the game, an inspired 5 star reroll on Craft Alchemy garnered a 37 Day Job that was nearly a 40 for the Investigator, which was a huge gain in gold.
Drew Parrymore Swashbuckler 13/MR2 (effective character level 14)
Mythic Abilities Chosen: Absorb Blow, Retributive Reach, Ever-Ready, Mythic Combat Reflexes, +2 Dex
Traits: Fencer, Indomitable Will
Feats: Combat Reflexes, Signature Deed Opportune Parry, Extra Panache, Weapon Focus (scimitar), Greater Weapon Focus (scimitar), Dervish Dance, Improved Unarmed Strike, Dodge, Crane Style, Crane Wing, Crane Riposte
Saves: Fort + 11, Ref +21, Will + 11
AC While Fighting Defensively And Using Boots of Speed: 32 (10 + 8 Dex + 5 Armor + 3 Nimble + 4 Fighting Defensively +1 Dodge + 1 Haste)
CMD While Fighting DefensivelyAnd Using Boots of Speed: 35 (10 + 13 Base + 8 Dex -2 Str + 4 Fighting Defensively +1 Dodge + 1 Haste)
Attacks With +5 Mythic Bane Scimitar While Fighting Defensively And Using Boots of Speed: +33/+33/+28/+23 for 1d6+31+2d6
AoOs While Fighting Defensively And Using Boots of Speed: +36 (+32 vs Large)
Gear (DRASTICALLY under WBL): +5 mythic-bane scimitar, +1 mithral chain shirt, +6 Dex belt, +4 Cha headband, +5 cloak of resistance
Drew was feasting at her favorite drinking hall, Heorot, covered in both magical grease and alchemical grease. Just then, a horrible monster broke through the wall and began ripping the arms off everyone. It was Grendel!
Drew bellowed a challenge and took a defensive stance, and Grendel leapt to that challenge. Grendel rushed forward and Power Attacked. Grendel got a 35, and Drew negated the attack with Crane Wing and Riposted with a Natural 2, hitting for 42.
Drew initiated a full attack. Two hits (including on a natural 3) and then two crits. Her damage was 39, 43, 61, and 62. So Grendel had taken 247 so far.
On Grendel's turn, he regenerated and entered a rage. He made a full attack without Power Attack. She parried his 37 with an easy Opportune Parry and Riposted for a crit for 58 damage. Then she parried his 43 with a 44 on Opportune Parry, so Grendel spent a surge to push his attack to a 50. She negated that with Crane Wing instead and Riposted for another crit, this time for 68. Grendel was still up due to Ferocity (at -5). His bite was true, (47) and the parry went wide, so Drew was hit for 24 damage. Drew then knocked Grendel unconscious. On her turn, she coup de graced him with an unarmed strike.
Drew healed up to full. She was ready to sleep this off, but she found a cryptic kenning written by the local bard about some kind of "mother". Expecting to fight, Grendel's mother, she told everyone in the hall to muster into the center of the room. But she wasn't expecting what was about to happen. One of the women, a victim of Grendel from a previous night, screamed as four infant grendels (Grendels with the Young Template) ripped her open from the inside and surrounded the stunned and horrified Drew.
Drew started to attack the little grendels. Four quick dervish thrusts weakened one baby grendel badly (180 damage, one crit and three hits).
The injured creature's blood fury triggered, and it attacked along with its brethren. The grendels were ferocious, but Drew managed to parry most of their attacks. Of 12 attacks, she only failed to parry 2 naturally, but the grendels each used Mythic Surges to attempt to turn a parry into a hit. Two of the four of them managed to do so, but Drew used her own Mythic Surge to increase the parry and re-negate the claw. So she would have been hit by two claws and one bite, but she uses Crane Wing on one of the claws. Fortunately, she parried the grab on the claw that hit. The two hits dealt 62 damage to Drew. Drew made one Crane Riposte and 9 Ripostes (she could have made 10 but he was down to 1 panache after the 9th due to only getting 3 crits).
On her own turn, Drew made four more attacks, including two crits, and she dropped another Grendel. This put her panache back up to 4.
The last two grendels made six attacks. Opportune Parry was enough to stop four of them, but then the grendels used Mythic Surge and one of them pulled ahead of the parry by too much for Drew to try to take it back. Drew used Mythic Surge on a different attack that barely beat the parry, however, and managed to parry it. She used Crane Wing and Riposte on the last attack that naturally hit, leaving the only attack that hit as a bite that used Brutal Surge. Drew took 14 more damage. She made one Crane Riposte and four panache Ripostes, with only one crit. This actually left Drew with only 1 panache. The first grendel drew close to regenerating up to consciousness
Drew made 4 attacks, including one crit, but this time she missed with her last attack. She dropped a third grendel, rising to 3 panache
Drew attacked that prone grendel once, putting it into negatives (which gained another panache) but activating Ferocity, then she punched the unconscious grendels three times to stop regeneration, which killed the grendel she has knocked out with the crit riposte.
The staggered grendel used mythic surge on a grapple, but since it didn't have Improved Grapple, she stabbed it with her scimitar and knocked it out from the AoO. Ending her Boots of Speed, her first punch killed that Grendel that had just woken up, and her remaining two punches stopped regeneration for the other two.
Drew then got another turn. She stabbed one of the unconscious grendels, then punched it to kill it. Then she punched the last one to stop regeneration.
On her last turn, Drew stabbed the final grendel and punched it, killing it.
Drew was forevermore hailed as the hero of Heorot and received free mead for life!
I realize I forgot to mention, but she easily made her Will saves vs fear that she only would have failed on a 1.
Grace, Musetouched Aasimar Oath of Vengeance Paladin of Arshea 4 / Swashbuckler 12
Grace's Basics (Full Build Details Later):
Weapon: +5 Holy Agile Phase-Locking Rapier +32/+27/+22/+17 1d6+26 damage+2d6 holy
Smiting +41/+36/+31/+26 1d6+30 damage+2d6 holy
Fire Giant form gives -2 to hit for all attacks and changes damage to d8 but subtracts 1
AC 37 (10 + 9 armor + 7 Dex + 5 enhancement to natural + 1 insight + 1 luck, +3 Nimble, +1 Dodge) +4 fighting defensively, +9 more against one target when fighting defensively, +9 when smiting
Fire Giant form gives 4 natural armor but loses 2 from size and Dex for a net gain of 2.
Saves Fort +25, Ref +30, Will +23 Immune to Fear
Fire Giant form decreases Ref to +29 and increases Fort to +27
Feats: Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike, Celestial Obediance (Arshea), Crane Style, Crane Wing, Crane Riposte, Osyluth Guile, Signature Deed (Opportune Parry), Weapon Focus (Rapier), Greater Weapon Focus (Rapier), Combat Reflexes, Weapon Finesse (B), Improved Critical (B)
Grace was searching through Hell for a fallen friend. Before she went there, she used scrolls of polymorph any object (to become a Fire Giant and gain the benefits of giant form 1 to protect from fire), mind blank, overland flight, and false life. Due to previous battles, Grace had used up one smite and was at 8 out of 9 Panache, and her false life was all gone.
Liebdaga was a former infernal duke demoted to a pit fiend due to past failures. He had already used his wish for the year and his summon ability for the day when he noticed Grace and decided to teach her a lesson. Using his super stealth, he sneaked up into blasphemy range and used it on the surprise round. Of course he had up unholy aura and magic circle against good as prebuffs. He thought she was immune to fire as a fire giant, so he avoided using his Quickened Spell-Like Ability to fireball, but she would have saved anyway. Now it's not clear to me whether the save at a -4 due to being extraplanar on Liebdaga's home plane is the same roll (but with the penalty) or a separate one, so I did both with the intent to give Grace the worst of both worlds. She made both saves, and the halved strength loss was 3.
Winning initative, she decided to smite and attack Liebdaga defensively, declaring him as her Osyluth Guile target, hitting BARELY on a natural 4 for a below-average 37 damage. She made the save to negate the Str damage from the aura and is immune to fear.
Liebdaga was amused by how happy Grace seemed to be about such a pathetic hit that nearly missed him, so he decided to teach her a lesson with a full attack. Thanks to Giant Form she only had 7 AoOs per round, but she still declared a parry on every attack anyway because it costs 0 panache. Her AC was 61 anyway. First Liebdaga claw was 47, and 49 parried and riposted. Second claw was 42 and 58 parried and riposted. First wing is a nat 1 and she parried and riposted. All the ripostes hit, but only the last one was a crit, so she spent 3 panache and regained 1, putting her at 6. Her hits did 38, 37, and 55, so 130 from ripostes, 167 total for the fight.
Not so funny any more, huh Liebdaga? Grace didn't roll any Natural 1s to fail the save against unholy, and he didn't roll any natural 20s to hit her (if he did, she still had Crane Wing so it would have missed anyway). Grace then activated her boots of speed to make five attacks. Rolling nat 20, 7, 18, 13, and 5, she only missed on the last attack against AC 42. Both crits confirmed. Grace's two non-crits did 40 and 39 while the crits did 54 and 59. That's 192 more, which dropped Liebdaga. Grace rolled a natural 1 on her Fort save for the last hit and took 3 more Str damage from unholy aura.
Now Liebdaga could have done some other stuff. He could have launched a power word stun, but he decided correctly that a giant would have too many hit points. He could have tried mass hold monster or trap the soul, but given Grace made the blasphemy save he figured that was a bad idea (he was right, she needed a 4 to save). If he realized she wasn't immune to fire, he could have used quickened fireball for a tiny chance that she rolled a nat 1 or meteor swarm for the same. He actually probably would have hit for small bludgeoning with the meteor swarm even. Her weapon was phase-locking so he couldn't have greater teleported, and flying away wouldn't help even if he withdrew, since she could haste and outrun him. Honestly I don't think he had a round where he would have realized he should be running anyway, so I think the phase-locking weapon didn't help her. His best move would have been to targeted greater dispel the right buffs, but even then he didn't have a sure chance to do so, the mind blank meant that even if he scouted ahead he couldn't see that being a giant was a magic aura so he might not have known to remove it (though he could have targeted her flight if he was hoping to kite her), and she brought more scrolls just in case. Still, without prior knowledge of Grace's exact power, the blasphemy opening and the full attack were very reasonable moves for the GM to do at the time.
Rhiana Flynn the Swashbuckler:
AC 33 (touch 29, flat-footed 33) AC 37 Fighting Defensively
Saves Fort +10, Ref +20, Will +13; +2 vs fear
+2 Agile Rapier +24/+19/+14 1d6+23 or Combat Expertise +21/+16/+11 1d6+23
Feats: Weapon Finesse (B), Improved Unarmed Strike (B), Improved Critical (B), Combat Expertise, Extra Panache, Dodge, Crane Style, Crane Wing, Crane Riposte (B), Snake Style, Snake Fang (B), Weapon Focus (rapier), Combat Reflexes, Signature Deed (Bleeding Wound)
Items: +2 Agile Rapier, Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone, Ring of Protection +1, Agile Amulet of Mighty Fists, Belt of Dex +6, Headband of Wisdom +4, +3 Cloak of Resistance, Expendables
So in Kingmaker just before the playtest, cohort and royal bodyguard with nerves of steel Rhiana Flynn (an Aldori Swordlord10/Master of Many Styles2) decided to take a somewhat-arrogant risk and enter a combat against unknown monsters that was run by a rakshasa, wherein she won if she survived 20 rounds, but beating the monsters was worth extra style points. If she lost, she lost all her equipment. She decided to go in there and fight the monsters, and came up against two Adult Black Dragons, which are CR 11 each and pretty nasty for their CR. She proceeded to hand them their tails. I decided to alter Rhiana slightly to Swashbuckler11/MoMS1 and present her the same challenge. Of course, in so doing I wound up having to remove five feats from Rhiana (she's down three feats overall, but I also took Extra Panache and Signature Deed)! I decided to completely eliminate her offensive feats as a baseline, as you can see above. I even took Combat Expertise. I believe that she is slightly under-WBL as well.
The dragons had prebuffed mage armor. They both breathed acid, but she had a 90% chance to make the save, her Swashbuckler Evasion came through, and she took no damage. They flew such that she had to charge if she wanted to attack and they could both full attack her if she did.
The dragons grinned a wicked grin, stepped into a flank against her, and started to attack. Because of 11th Swashbuckler, this version of Rhiana had Improved Uncanny Dodge (which nicely cancelled original Rhiana's Steel Net ability). The dragons knew that Rhiana was a Mivonese Swordlord and would be tough to hit, so they didn't Power Attack. They landed an above average claw hit and an above average wing hit for 19 total damage. However, Rhiana bit back. making one Crane Riposte rapier hit on the more injured dragon, four Snake Fangs on that dragon, and remaining three Snake Fangs until she ran out of AoOs from her lower enlarged Dex on the uninjured one. Despite having an accuracy boost over the other Rhiana on the Snake Fangs (they apply Swashbuckler Training but not the Weapon Training Rhiana had chosen), most of the AoOs missed AC 32 (in Kingmaker, she had a prebuffed heroism that I didn't give her here that would have made two of the misses into hits). The good news is that the high rolls were pretty high, so the sword critted and even one of the unarmed strikes threatened a crit (but failed to confirm). This led to a total of one sword crit and one unarmed hit versus the injured dragon for 43 and 19 (the 19 would have been 24 but didn't penetrate DR) and two unarmed hits versus the other for 17 and 20(she gave it Str bleed and 7 bleed for 1 panache and 0 panache). They both took 7 bleed damage and the less injured one also lost 1 Str.
Universe 1: The dragon full attacked and rolled EXTREMELY well on the Bite/Claw/Claw (rolled 16, nat 20, and 15, though the last missed, but it confirmed the crit). It was even savvier than you might expect, and just didn't bother on the secondary attacks because they were too risky with too low of payoff. So she used up her riposte on the bite and thus took the crit for 27 damage (ouch!). Crane Riposte hit for 24 and the one Snake Fang missed. She spent a point to give the poor guy some Con bleed, and he wound up bleeding again for Str, Con, and 7 damage.
So we ran First Steps 1 today with those three classes and a level 1 Kyra who did nothing. I'll give you the summary first before the long post
Summary: Level 1 is a terrible level to playtest most of the new classes because stat selection and dice rolls are way more important than class abilities at this point. However, it happened that my Slayer annihilated everything and we trivially beat even the notoriously dangerous final encounter with a flawless victory.
Tiffany the Slayer--A slender blonde with a giant greatsword and unusual strength for her size due to being "The Slayer" (18 Strength)
Carm the Skald--An ulfen man with a longsword and shield who was actually the weakest of the three in strength (16 Strength)
Susan the Infernal Bloodrager--A giant red male infernal-blooded half-orc (18 Strength)
Kyra the Iconic Cleric--One of the many many sisters in the famed Order of the Kyra, she literally didn't do anything the entire scenario except for declare an old lady drunk, which Susan actually figured out anyway with a lucky roll.
First we needed to get a crate from a warehouse. It was locked, and we didn't have Disable Device. Carm refused to break someone's property down on principle, so we got on a boat to check the loading door. There, we discovered a hole in the bottom, and using a grappling hook, a rope, and an old fishing net, we managed to catch the box below. The angry squeaking of rats echoed from above as we rowed back.
Then we needed to go to an orphanage and verify the character of the recipient of some medicine. Susan kept asking every person "ARE YOU A CHARACTER?" A Natural 20 from Tiffany with the old lady as her favored target determined that she was hiding something, but Susan got everyone kicked out by yelling and pounding his axe. Tiffany sneaked in while Auntie Baltwin was sheltering the children from Susan and calling the guards. Unable to determine what was damning evidence, she looted everything in the secret cabinets and brought them back to Ollysta Zadrian. This was enough to prove embezzling.
Next, we went to the Osirian embassy and solved some simple puzzles. No one turned blue due to a successful Will save.
Fourth, we went to Zarta Dralneen's townhouse to fetch a puzzle-box. An imp had it. Susan intimidated the imp into giving it back, since it was two size categories smaller.
Then we were ambushed in an alley. Tiffany went first and dropped Ledford the halfling with average rolls (2d6+9=16, which takes him to -1 since he hadn't gotten to rage yet due to being flat-footed). Then Halli put up obscuring mist. Larkin stealthed. Carm did his battle song. Susan moved to threaten Deandre. Deandre threw up a copycat. Kyra was surprised.
Round 1, Tiffany dropped Halli with a low roll (2d6+10=14). Larkin rolled a 3 and missed Carm. Carm hit Deandre's image. Susan flamed up and flat-out killed Deandre (1d12+12+1d6=23). Kyra moved up.
Round 2, Tiffany five-foot-stepped, declared Favored Target on Larkin and dropped Larkin with a slightly below average roll (2d6+11=17).
So what did we learn? As I said above, we basically learned that level 1 wasn't a great chance to test the classes.
One thing we discovered is that Bloodrager seems a strict improvement over Barbarian other than the 2 hit points from the hit die at level 1, albeit a very small advantage (gains all Barbarian abilities and the blood power).
Also, the Slayer was extremely effective. She declared every NPC we ever met as a favored target, giving her a +1 on many skill checks. She decimated her foes. And she stealthed to complete the stealth mission. This really isn't saying too much about the class though.
The player of the Skald liked his character a lot and is really looking forward to level 3 when he actually starts giving interesting abilities to the other characters. He mentioned that playtesting the Skald and Hunter, we will hardly see any of the actual new class abilities until level 3 (since Hunter is basically just a druid until then and Skald doesn't get the Rage powers). In that vein, I agree, and I think PFS playtests of those classes will not be as useful in differentiating the classes from core choices until higher level, unfortunately. It's probably unlikely that any but the most avid players will actually level up their PFS characters high enough by the end of the playtest period to give feedback about the unique abilities.
I'll let you know if we play these guys again!
Kolokotroni and I have been running a quick combat-focused PbP with Falchion Fred level 10, Swashbuckler Sally level 10, and Back-up Bob, a level 9 Cleric. Due to small party size, the party is very slightly weaker in effective level than a four person party of level 9 characters (if Bob was also 10, it would be equal, I believe). One of the conceits of the playtest is that Sally and Fred share their d20 rolls for all things. This lets us really target out the differences that aren't from the dice alone.
So far, we've had two fights. First was against two dire bears. Fred wound up going first and thus getting only one attack while Sally got a full, but it's easy to swap the two of them if we want, and that shows that Sally staggered her bear with a crit and a hit while Fred would have had the bear at 7 health if he had been in her position. The bears did not use Grab, which would have advantaged Sally since she has a one-handed weapon.
Otherwise, they were both awesome and annihilated this roughly-on-CR encounter. Bob healed them up.
The next fight was 6 Highwaymen (CR 6) and 1 Halfling leader (CR 8), which is very nearly CR 12 but not quite. Since the party was very nearly the strength of a level 9 party of 4 but not quite, this is roughly a APL+3 challenging encounter. This time Sally and Fred made their attacks in tandem due to both needing to charge in. Sally picked up a noticable edge on the first round because they didn't crit but she did double Precise Strike damage anyway, but the damage was unneeded to kill the guy they both attacked. On the second round, they hit then crit, so her extra damage was also irrelevant in the overkill. On round 3, Fred crit but did not drop the halfling leader in one hit, but if it had been Sally, she would have done so, so Fred had to attack again for wasteful overkill, whereas Sally would have gotten two attacks. So that's the second time her extra damage was just enough to make a difference to whether the enemy was defeated. Both Sally and Fred got beaten to about half health during the fight. If they had focus-fired, they still wouldn't have dropped either of them, since Bob did a pointless morningstar attack that could have been a Delay->Cure if one of them was low. Sally's one lower AC caused her to take one extra hit due a fluke bad roll for an enemy (needed a 3 to hit Fred or a 2 to hit Sally, rolled a 2). Sally's 2 extra CMD never mattered so far.
So takeaway points--Both Falchion Fred and Swashbuckler Sally are awesome characters who more than pull their own weight. They both do plenty of damage. But Sally does more. Than the Fighter. And her advantage grows even larger on rounds when they don't both crit (to be fair, Fred has an edge on rounds where they crit twice, but rounds with no crits are way more common). Sally doesn't even use any of her Panache tricks except a steady Precise Strike whenever she has more than 1 Panache (so far she is always at full, often overflowing in the bandit fight)
It used to be the balance there was that Sally's Precise Strike didn't hit certain types of enemies. But I agree with the Design Team that it wasn't a good way to balance, and I'm glad they removed that. What we need now is a minor debuff. I've discussed a few possibilities in the discussion thread, although anything that eliminates the divergence based on whether Dervish Dance is allowed (for clarification, we did not use Dervish Dance in our playtest) will be a plus (for instance Temeryn's proposal to buff Precise Strike a bit and make it replace Str bonus to damage).
So to start out, it's important to note that probably a huge percentage of swashbucklers with GMs who allow it will be dervish dancing or using an agile weapon, but as Cheapy said in his ninja post to the blog announcing the playtest, I'm not going to assume that. Neither will I assume Crane Style. I'm just going to assume a goofy Strength-based swashbuckler that always takes the same stats as the fighter. If you use Agile or Dervish Dance, your swashbuckler will keep exactly the same offense as Sally Swashbuckler below while having better of lots of other stuff from Dex.
So let's take a look at Sally Swash and Fighter Fred. Fighter Fred read on the forums that falchion crit range is eventually king and that two-handing is the strongest style, so that's where he's at. Sally Swash is going to take the exact same items as Fred and the exact same stats, but just be a swashbuckler. Oh, and she's so certain that her class has numbers better than Fred (eventually) that she will never spend any panache. She just needs Precise Strike and Swashbuckler Weapon Training.
Alright, so right out the gate, Fred is in the lead because Sally doesn't have Precise Strike yet. They always have identical to-hit:
Level 1--Assuming 18 Strength, Fred is ahead in damage by 2 points from 1.5x Strength and 1 point from Power Attack, plus 1.5 points of average damage from a falchion over a rapier. So Fred is up by 4.5.
Analysis in the next post.
Marquise Cordelia Livia Cassandra Elysia Perseis's Guide to Influencing Varisia's Fledgling Aristocracy
My fellows in arms,
It has come to my attention through the usual channels that we are not meeting with as much success as I would like in our goals for Varisia. It would pain me to see our glorious faction weakened or disbanded, so here I strive to put to ink all of the information I have gathered in the year thus far inasmuch as it will assist towards that goal. Know that if you find yourself in possession of one of the first printings of this guide, then I hold you in the highest regard for both your influence and your discretion, and I trust that you will make copies and send them to all those of whom you are aware who are worthy of such regard.
My humble thanks,
While Korvosa is larger, older, and more aristocratic, Magnimar is the seat of our lodge in Varisia, and it is the most likely place where you will have a chance to influence its nobles, such as they are.
Lord Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras is a selfish and arrogant man of enormous girth. His mandates are rare and sometimes disastrous, and he often ignores those of the Council of Ushers in favor of his own. It seems like stroking Grobaras's already over-inflated ego should make a greater nobility an easy sell for him. If you actually want to get something pro-Taldor done, though, policy-wise, it might be smart to befriend Valanni Krinst, the mayor's assistant, as well.
The Council of Ushers has 117 members, many of whom I have mentioned below. Lady Verrine Caiteil is the executive moderator, which means that influencing her is a big step towards a pro-Taldor hearing before the council. Before you can actually meet with any of the council members, though, you will have to make it past Jacildria Quildarmo, the megalomaniacal Seneschal of Dates. Just be as obsequious as possible and you'll be fine--I'm sure she'll be thrilled to have a true noble kissing up to her.
The Varisian Council's leader is Remeria Callinova, but I'm not sure she's a good candidate for influence. If you want to try, her most recent pet project is finding the Shoanti a place within the city's hierarchy. This will doubtlessly put her at odds with the Scarnettis.
The head of the Justice Council is Lord Justice Bayl Argentine. You probably don't need to influence the Justice Council, but they might be useful allies, as Magnimar has few laws, so much is determined by the creative interpretations of the justices.
The oldest noble family is the Indros family, who descended from Alcaydian Indros, the paladin of Aroden who founded Magnimar and its first Lord Mayor. Currently, their influence has waned and their role is mostly ceremonial, which seems like an easy inroad for an enterprising agent to exploit.
The Kaddren family, another of the oldest families in Magnimar, is focused on the study of magic, and many of its members have studied abroad, though never in Korvosa. They are strongly allied with the Golemworks, so any accomplishments in the Golemworks are sure to impress them. I recommend approaching them if you are knowledgable in arcane matters. For instance, I was able to impress the matriarch, Zimandi Kaddren, and arrange a marriage for one of her daughters. Be sure to name drop how impressive you think Antholus Kaddren was (and make sure you know why--he died breaking the enchantments on the chardas that forced them to serve Riddleport, thus turning them back on their mistress in anger at being controlled).
The Vanderale family is the third of the old elite families that descend from Magnimar's founders. Mivonis Vanderale controls the Merchants' Guild and owns plenty of ships. If you're handy in mercantile endeavors or know your way around a ship, try influencing the Vanderales. They're pretty proud of their family's founder, Nyssalee Vanderale, who beat a Korvosan prince in a duel for Magnimar's independence, so that's one useful talking point. Another is the two Vanderale twins, Cailyn and Romre, whose wizardry defeated all those shriezyx--the spider monsters that poured out of the Irespan a little under a century ago.
The Nirodin family is headed by Cheiskaia Nirodin, a patroness of the arts with a likely-spurious reputation for ties to Korvosa.
The Mindurian family rose to the aristocracy from the most elite of the city's masons. The current matriarch, Filuvia Mindurian, loves gossip, so it should be easy to slip in some seemingly-idle gossip that predisposes her towards Taldor.
The Valdemar family seems to be in the wane from former success in logging, fishing, and shipping, losing ground to the Scarnettis in many of these areas. The family has been having a hard time, and it's patriarch Ethram is dying. Perhaps some clerical assistance would be useful in convincing him that his interests lie with Taldor, but you'll have to go to nearby Sandpoint to find him or else deal with his son Kaleb instead.
The Versade family are known for having the best parties in the city, and Savasha Versade seems amenable to discussion about how to keep it that way, rather than lose the reputation. Bards and other experts in performance could easily make inroads with her.
The Derexhi family made their fortune through mercenary work, founded by Alcaydian Indros's bodyguard Aiten. so this is one of the best places in Magnimar for our martial agents to gain some influence. Their patriarch Randred is a member of the Justice Council. Luma Derexhi, an illegitimate young urban druid, seems malcontent with the way she is treated by her peers and might be an easy contact to use to ingratiate yourself with the family.
The Deverin family are a bit quaint and laid-back, but they have shown an excellent attitude towards helping those less fortunate than themselves. Their patriarch, Hobart, is fighting a recurring fever, so healing magics might be one way to earn his favor.
The Shivarlu family is a minor Ordellian house whose current head, Lady Annsa, is the most influential of Ordellia's nobles, having served six consecutive terms in the House of Ushers. She is also a producer, director, and playwright, so those thespians amidst our ranks might do well to influence her.
Despite her title of "Princess of Sails", Sabriyya Kalmeralm is more of a benign gang lord. Still, she seems fair enough from my interactions with her, so if you're not one of those people who can't stomach the fact that she is Keleshite, she could be a useful ally.
If you can make it into the Osprey Club, take the opportunity--only the highest of Magnimar's elite are usually allowed entry, and the proprietress, Kayasi Zivatchi, surely knows secrets from all of them. This could be an excellent place to catch the nobles off guard, while they are relaxing.
Trosker ep Styrk--fidelity and strength in ancient Taldane (though I'm sure all of you knew that already). The fact that Korvosa even has a city motto in ancient Taldane should already be a good indication to you that we will be able to get some good traction in this city, Varisia's largest and the former colonial capital.
House Arabasti has been the premier house in Korvosa since beating the Porphyria's for the monarchy. However, Eodred II, the last in the line, died childless, so there might not be much of a House Arabasti to influence. Perhaps lesser cousins.
House Arkona is the only family to still live in Old Korvosa. They have grown wealthy through trade with Vudra and their whole estate has a Vudrani theme, so if you speak Vudrani, you can probably impress them. The Arkonas have strong ties to Korvosa's underworld and vices, but supposedly the new lord Glorio is a champion of the people, demolishing his own establishments to make room for tenements.
House Bromathan is a minor noble house that gained its standing when its patriarch sacrificed his own life to save Waydon Endrin from Shoanti assassins. Many of the family serve in the Sable Marines and the Korvosan guard, but the current head of the house, Lord Valdur Bromathan IV, is actually a lesser priest of Sarenrae, so if you're one of those Taldans who can't stand the Dawnflower or are strongly in favor of Prince Stavian's ban, I wouldn't recommend a conversation with him. Perhaps you could talk to his other family members instead, who have always been upset with him for becoming a priest and not a warrior.
House Endrin is small but influential, as it has a history of exemplary soldiers and sable marines dating back to Waydon Endrin, the ranking surviving marine to withstand the Shoanti siege before the colony was founded and the first commander of the colony's defenses. The Endrins have a tendency for heroics and often die in battle. Warriors and accomplished adventurers among our number stand a good chance of influencing them.
House Jeggare is famous for its philanthropy and generous loans to other nobles. According to the priests of Abadar, the Jeggare family may own up to one quarter of all private assets. When talking to the Jeggare family, you could mention famous Pathfinder Varian Jeggare as an inroad.
House Ornelos controls the Acadamae and has many royal advisors and members who control the city's other powerful institutions. Wizardly specialists are probably the best choice to influence House Ornelos.
Magistrate of Commerce Garrick Tann is the master of all taxes in Korvosa. He works to destroy any attempts to clandestinely form guilds as well. Those with a pecuniary interest could talk to him, but be warned that most Korvosans hate his office due to the fact that he collects taxes.
Magistrate of Expenditures Syl Gar spends the tax money on various projects throughout the city. Perhaps you could impress him with knowledge of engineering and the like.
Magistrate of Regulation Lolia Perenne works to prevent cheating among the many merchants of Korvosa. Send clergy of Abadar, paladins, or any with impeccable morals to impress her.
Bonus Section. A little bit about Kaer Maga
Kaer Maga seems like a bizarre choice for influence, but it is by far the oldest city in Varisia. I wouldn't even bother with this section, but I happened to come into contact with some factions in the city, so I might as well give you some small guidance if you find yourself there. I'm not sure if any of these groups would make good nobles, but they seemed among the most influential of the ones I encountered:
The Ardoc family are construct crafters who have a large amount of influence in the Balconies of Bis. They value arcane spellcasting but are unfortunately rather patriarchal and somewhat sexist. Still, I did them a favor, so maybe they will look on you favorably.
The Troll Augurs might seem by their name to be an absurd choice for influence, but they are actually rather urbane and savvy--it seems that part of the reason for their excellent prophecies is that they have an extensive information network that could be of great use to you, as it was for me.
The Dusk Wardens guide travelers up to the city, and they seem to respect competent adventurers.
The Commerce League, headed by Dakar, is a powerful organization that has helped the Society once, though Dakar seems like he might be difficult to influence.
The Arcanists' Circle is a powerful political group in the city, full of talented mages.
Fellow skeptics of Andoran,
I call for your vigilance, as Andoran seems to have infiltrated the courier service and is now appending to the end of all faction missives sent to our personal address an exhortation to listen to that pompous windbag Colson Maldris and represent Andoran in the coming days. I can confirm that this happened to me, as well as two of my associates in the Grand Lodge and the Lantern Lodge. We must stay every vigilant for such brazen Andoren trickery, however foolish and obvious it may be!
Reposting this here so discussion can be moved out of GM threads--
I've gotten to the bottom of it in an old thread. Basically, daylight has a special clause, so let's look at it without daylight for a moment:
Any darkness spell requires a higher level light spell to both beat it and continue to shine light. So to shine through a darkness, you need a 3rd spell level or heightened higher light spell (such as clerical continual flame) while shining through deeper darkness requires a 4th spell level or heightened higher light spell (requires heighten in other words).
Daylight has a special escape clause that says that areas of overlapping daylight and deeper darkness return to prevailing condition, which means that technically heightening daylight is useless (continual flame is a better bet).
So here's the Venn Diagram:
Prevailing Bright Light--Darkness puts you to normal light unless there is a 3rd level or higher light spell present, in which case bright light. Deeper Darkness puts you to dim light unless there is a daylight or any 4th level or higher light spell present, in which case bright light.
Prevailing Normal Light--Darkness puts you to dim light unless there is a 3rd level or higher light spell present, in which case normal light or whatever the light spell gives, whichever is better. Deeper Darkness puts you to darkness unless there is a daylight, in which case it goes back to normal light, or any 4th level or higher light spell present, in which case it goes to normal light or the light spell, whichever is better.
Prevailing Dim Light--Darkness puts you to darkness unless there is a 3rd level or higher light spell present, in which case dim light or whatever the light spell gives, whichever is better. Deeper Darkness puts you to supernatural darkness unless there is a daylight, in which case it goes back to dim light, or any 4th level or higher light spell present, in which case it goes to dim light or the light spell, whichever is better.
Prevailing Darkness--Darkness doesn't change the light level, but it does prevent nonmagical light sources from helping unless there is a 3rd level or higher light spell present, in which case whatever the light spell gives. Deeper Darkness puts you to supernatural darkness unless there is a daylight, in which case it goes back to regular darkness, or any 4th level or higher light spell present, in which case it goes to the light spell.
Other fun facts--light spells and darkness spells can be used to counterspell or dispel others of the same or lower level if you can target the object that is the target of the other spell (usually by touching it).
As far as I've searched, maneuverability for flying creatures is mentioned in two contexts. In the Fly skill, it specifically calls out that maneuverability only gives you a bonus or penalty if you have a natural fly speed:
Fly skill wrote:
Creatures with a fly speed treat the Fly skill as a class skill. A creature with a natural fly speed receives a bonus (or penalty) on Fly skill checks depending on its maneuverability:
Whereas in the section under movement, the word natural isn't included, but it calls out that you should reference the Fly skill for more specific details:
Until recently, this seemed to be an open and shut case to me of specific trumps general, wherein the limitation of application of modifiers from maneuverability to natural fly speeds was intended to make fly checks more difficult for spellcasters and subjects of flight magic that generally grants bonuses. I'm all for requiring more investment from PCs to be a master of flying, so I don't mind ignoring the bonus. But then Shattered Star introduced a Lesser Wings of Flying that gives you a poor maneuverability, and I'm not as OK with ignoring what seems to be one of the intended restrictions on the item (it's also slower than the regular wings). So does maneuverability actually do anything if you aren't a natural flyer? It used to be hugely influential in 3.5, so are items like the Lesser Wings of Flying artifacts of our collective memory of those times?
What do you think?
With a rules forum thread and talking to some other friends who have a good list of dev clarifications, I am as near certain as possible that this is something not covered anywhere in the rules, the FAQ, or past clarifications.
A player's PFS concept hinges on whether natural weapons count as light or one-handed weapons. Literally the only place this is defined is in the "Special" clause of Weapon Finesse, which states that they are considered as light weapons. There are two schools of thought on this matter, and both have valid points--
1) The Special clause of Weapon Finesse only applies to the Weapon Finesse feat, and furthermore the fact that they felt the need to assert this fact at all in the Special clause indicates that the writers do not believe that natural weapons are ordinarily light weapons, so they inserted the clause to make specific trump general. It's most likely that natural weapons are neither light, nor one-handed, nor two-handed, but instead their own classification.
2) Since it doesn't say anything about it anywhere else in the rules, the Weapon Finesse feat's Special clause creates a universal rule that natural weapons are always considered light weapons.
There's also a third, which I subscribe to more-or-less.
3) The Special clause doesn't say anything one way or the other, and we need a clarification in order to know which way to go. Without a strong enough reason to disallow it, if I was blindsided by a character using this fact, I would allow it, but I know many GMs would do otherwise and rightfully so.
The player agrees that both readings are reasonable, and he has plenty of time to change his build (and he doesn't mind) if it is ruled against him. He's just worried about playing up to level 7 and then having the idea (Duelist class using bite attacks "so I can parry with my face" as he puts it) work inconsistently.
A PFS player in our lodge is wondering whether there is any official documentation as to whether a natural attack is a light or one-handed weapon. He would like to use his character's bite attack with the Duelist class. It's clearly a finessable piercing weapon, but the exact wording in the class description calls for the weapon to be light or one-handed. Has anyone seen any reference to the handedness of natural attacks (other than counting as light for Weapon Finesse purposes)? In a home-game, any GM would probably allow this, but in PFS we need to play by the Rules as Written without a dev clarification (or Mark or Mike). There's plenty of time to find out the answer, since the character is only level 2 at this point.
A player asked me this question--if you're a snake, ooze, earthworm, or any other type of creature with no arms or hands (maybe even a human who lost both arms and hasn't received a regenerate), can you still get claws with lesser beast totem. By strict rules as written, it looks like you can, so since this is for PFS, if no one here on the rules forum can find anything, I'll bring it over there.
So this has been coming up a few times for a variety of reasons. Just who can you hire for spellcasting services in PFS, given access to a large enough city. My guess is that it's likely to be restricted in the same way as scrolls. wands, and potions--if you can hire the spell from a wizard, druid, or cleric, then you must, using the lowest level available, just like with wands, potions, and scrolls.
The only thing I know for sure is that there's a messageboard clarification that you cannot find a witch of a specific patron to cast you a spell from their patron list (which I assume would generalize to domains and bloodlines as well). There's a bunch of reasons why this matters a reasonable bit.
Price--If you can pay a paladin to cast a lesser restoration for you, you can get yourself restored for 1/6 the price of a cleric (something that was so undesired in wands and scrolls back in the day that the whole wand and scroll system for PFS was patched to prevent it, so I can't believe the same isn't true for spellcasting services). There are numerous other instances of money-savers here, particularly with summoners.
Spell Level--In situations where higher spell level is an advantage (light and darkness spells are a good example), if spellcasting services are unrestricted, you can pay a bit more to get the spell at the highest possible spell level by finding the caster that gets the spell late entry.
Spells of 7th level or higher are never available--If you can get spells from a summoner (or a bard, but they have fewer good spells), then you can bypass this restriction, since all their spells are actually level 6 or lower.
Arcane/Divine--Sometimes it matters if a spell is arcane or divine. For example, if you can hire spellcasting services from a summoner, in addition to the monetary savings you can get on certain early-entry spells, you can also get an arcane barkskin, allowing a sorcerer or bard to learn barkskin with a ring of spell knowledge.
Now, I can't find anything other than my logic that spellcasting services would not break the trend established with scrolls, potions, and wands to directly support my guess, and I don't want to introduce table variation if lots of other GMs are allowing this, so I'd like to find a definitive answer.
A player recently asked me about Order of the Tome in PFS. They can use either arcane or divine scrolls (their choice upon gaining the ability) with a caster level check equal to their cavalier level -4 (or just outright use the scroll automatically if that caster level is high enough, as per normal scroll rules). Thanks to PFS's houserule on scrolls (removing the arcane/divine distinction), this seems to imply that Order of the Tome cavaliers can actually use all scrolls (so one that can use divine scrolls can still use magic missile and one that can use arcane scrolls can still use divine favor). I'm assuming this was just another unintended consequence of the scroll houserule for PFS and not intended to work that way, but I'm having a hard time deciding how to rule on what spells would work with this class ability.
The relevant ability is below:
Order of thge Tome wrote:
At 8th level, the cavalier gains the ability to read scrolls and cast arcane or divine spells from a scroll as if he had a caster level of his cavalier level –4. He can decipher all scrolls, using his Linguistics skill in place of Spellcraft, and does not need to cast read magic in order to decipher a scroll. Which type of spell the cavalier can cast is based on the Knowledge skill he chose for specialized knowledge. If he chose Knowledge (arcana), he can cast any arcane spells from a scroll. If he chose Knowledge (religion), he can cast any divine spells from a scroll. Furthermore, he gains a +1 bonus to an ability score for purposes of determining the level of spells he can cast from a scroll, and this bonus increases by +1 at 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter (to a maximum of +4 at 20th level). The ability score that gains the bonus is dependent on which skill the cavalier picked for his specialized knowledge ability. If the cavalier picked Knowledge (arcana), he gains the bonus to Intelligence. If he picked Knowledge (religion), he gains the bonus to Wisdom.
As the title says--
Courageous weapon is only a +1 equivalent and increases all morale bonuses by half the weapon's enhancement bonus. Since raging Strength and Con increases are morale, this seems to mean that a +2 Furious Courageous weapon will increase the barbarian's raging Strength and Con by 2 (or 3 for a +4 Furious Courageous, or +1 Strength and Con for a +1 Courageous). Now, this can give temporary odd stat bonuses, meaning that a +1 Courageous weapon is ridiculous good for someone with odd Strength and Con but does little with even Strength and Con--I know it's been a design choice to not include temporary odd stat bonuses, so is it possible that Courageous was only meant to apply to morale bonuses to rolls, rather than morale bonuses to stats? Clearly by strict Rules As Written you add to Strength and Con, but it seems unintended to me (and also much much too much for a +1 equivalent weapon at the high end, since it's potentially giving the wielder +3 to hit, +3 to damage, +3 to all saves, +3 to all skills even if it doesn't give Strength or Con).
Here's an interesting question for which we didn't have a good answer at our last table of PFS--suppose you are performing an act that is not an alignment violation for your character but is clearly in violation of a deity's principles. For instance, a Pharasmin priestess who creates undead, a Shelynite who destroys all artwork she comes across and breaks up happy relationships, a celibate Calistrian who always turns the other cheek, a craven teetotaler Caydenite, a slobbish LN priestess of Iomedae dual-wielding a wand of infernal healing and an unholy battleaxe while summoning devils, etc. Discounting the Separatist archetype, of course.
What if the character is from a PrC or archetype that requires them to be a worshiper of said deity or that directly grants power from that deity (there are a few of these out there). There seems to be precedent for some pretty out-there clerics still receiving spells in Golarion, but on the other hand, perhaps those are meant to be Separatists?
I guess there's possible RP reasons for any of these as concepts, but suppose there was none given--such as a Pharasmin casting animate dead despite the goddess's hard stance on undead with no explanation other than "it's optimal for us to have some additional meatshields" or an Iomedaen with wands of infernal healing despite Iomedae's feelings on evil outsiders recommending them for all out of combat healing because "it's almost twice as cost efficient per hit point--who cares about the devil part?".
There's a solid process out there as far as evil acts go, but what about acts that aren't alignment-breaking but go against the nature of a deity when the deity is hardcoded into the character's mechanics? I'm guessing the response is to just mention the inconsistency "Pharasma despises the creation of undead" and then not do anything at all if the warning is ignored.
Had a player ask me this today--the new Ring of Spell Knowledge from UE allows arcane spontaneous casters to gain additional arcane spells known, even from another arcane spell list. However, the player would like to gain spells known that are traditionally found on divine lists (such as divine favor) by using the fact that certain witch patrons have these spells on their patron lists. Now, it seems open and shut that a witch with strength patron could cast divine favor into the ring. And in a home game that doesn't use PFS's special campaign ruling on scrolls, it is also clear that only a Strength patron witch could even possibly make an arcane scroll of divine favor.
But in PFS, with the campaign ruling that all scrolls are both arcane and divine, the player is wondering if that means he can't just buy a basic scroll of divine favor for 25 gold (or any other spell on any witch patron list for that matter) and have it added to the ring, treating the scroll as arcane on the grounds that there is a witch patron out there that grants it. My gut thought is that the answer is no, since this brings us back to something like the 3.5 Archivist class where you try to search through as many books as possible to find an obscure domain that granted the spell you wanted (in this case, searching for witch patrons instead), but I certainly don't want to nix it if it's legal.
So to move this out of a semi-related PFS thread.
We were discussing the use of the ki arrows ability.
Correcting for the average of 1d8 being 4.5, that would be 27. But this doesn't take into account accuracy or any added damage to the arrows.
Let's assume we have a 12 level Zen Archer for the example above (where 5 attacks become 6). Let's further say that the Zen Archer can hit most enemies 90% of the time with the highest BAB attacks (hits on a 3 or above). This is probably an overestimate in favor of ki arrows (since ki arrows is better the more you hit). This means the second pair of attacks hit 65% of the time, and the final attack hits 40% of the time. So you expect to make 3.5 hits if you don't use ki for an extra attack, or 4.4 hits if you do. So right away we're looking at 24.5 expected damage for ki arrows and 19.8 expected damage for taking an extra attack with ki.
Now, however, we have to add in extra damage from various effects. Even if a zen archer doesn't spend feats on archery for some reason, they still get Weapon Specialization for free as a bonus feat. Let's assume that somehow, between Strength, Point Blank Shot, enhancement bonuses on the bow, and party buffs, the zen archer can only scrape another +4 to damage at level 12. This is obviously a stark underestimate at that level (my level 9 Zen Archer has +6 from permanent items only and without using Deadly Aim). The ki arrows is now giving 45.5 and taking an extra attack gives 46.2. For every point more you're doing than this, the extra attack gains more and more, and for every decrease in accuracy (at least until your accuracy becomes so low that you're basically missing with everything), the extra attack gains as well.
Obviously if you have access to gravity bow through a spell-storing ioun stone or wand, ki arrows is even worse.
As we know, Pathfinder sometimes leaves out common sense rules, like the fact that dead characters can't take actions and the rules on getting tired and going to sleep. It seems like it is currently 100% in the expect table variation realm without official clarification.
What if, in a PFS scenario, one of the PCs uses an ability with a strict time limit and then request to have their PCs take continuous mentally-intensive action for 24 hours? Whether or not they can do so will permanently affect their PFS PC in all future adventures, and the limitation is potentially worth about 700 gold from just the time it happened last session (and it will clearly happen again for this PC). It happens that in this PC's case, the thing they wanted to do for 24 straight hours was add new spells to their spell list (which takes 1 hour per spell level).
At first, I thought there were limits for an 8-hour workday on this activity, as there are for item creation, but we determined that there are not. Deciding that it didn't make any sense to be able to stay active indefinitely without rest, I eventually ruled that performing a mentally and magically intensive activity would require Fort saves to avoid fatigue and eventual exhaustion and unconsciousness. The character managed to go for I believe 13 hours before tiring himself out under this ruling. The player says that if campaign staff rules an eight-hour limit like item creation, he's happy to remove the spells he learned beyond that limit and I of course agreed to go back and give him the last hours if the ruling is that characters truly never get tired.
We may need an official ruling on Deathwatch. As it stands, there's a face slot item to gain the effects of Deathwatch at will for 2000 gp (also a variant tiefling with the same ability). The question is: how much benefit does Deathwatch give you?
The spell doesn't require concentration like detect magic to figure things out, so it seems you access the information instantaneously. The spell's wording is silent on whether it lets you know the presence and number of creatures in the area. If so, this could presumably make you immune to any ambush, even from invisible creatures or creatures with very high stealth. Furthermore, it seems that since there is no action for concentrating on the spell, there are no rules at all for spinning around the cone as you move, thus pinpointing invisible opponents to the square as they hit the edge of the cone.
I'd dearly like to be wrong about this--if I missed a prior PFS ruling, can anyone point me to it.
We have some people in-region with at-will deathwatch, and even the heaviest users agree that it needs some official clarification to specify what it can and cannot do. Is deathwatch truly tantamount to (or in fact superior to) Lifesense? If so, is it really only worth 2000 gp to get it for free?
Invisible or hiding creatures are pretty much a mainstay of PFS scenarios, so it will be good to know if we should all follow this rising trend and buy the lenses or if there's something I'm missing or a clarification that makes this too-good-to-be-true item a bit more down-to-earth.
So at Gencon, I played and GMed at a whole bunch of great tables. Great players, great GMs. But there was one thing I noticed a few times. Other characters were sometimes blatantly illegal, even without an audit. However, every time I came across these characters, it was when I was a player.
One thing that two players were doing (which is statistically significant out of 9 games at Gencon) was misapplying the QFP boon:
They were taking the axebeak right out of the Bestiary 3 as a mount for characters who didn't have a class feature companion of any kind.
We probably need better wording on the boon, since I'm assuming there was no malice and that players just honestly thought they could get a normal axebeak if they didn't have the class feature, even though the wording, though circuitous, seems to me to leave no leeway on the matter.
Another character, for example, had a paladin with a Chaotic Good patron. It wasn't just a new player picking a deity at random without knowing about the deity--the player was a good roleplayer and correctly roleplayed all aspects of said CG deity.
These were also mostly characters more than halfway to retirement levels. They played through over 20 scenarios without anyone noticing. And it's not like it required an audit--these were blatantly announced salient facts about the characters.
So what is another player's place when you see something like that? As a GM, I'm not in favor of lengthy audits slowing down the game, but since these problems were evident without, I let the players know, such that the GMs also heard. The players shrugged and ignored this, and the GMs also didn't care to enforce it in any way. All these games were fun, and the players and GMs were otherwise great. Was there something else I should have done? I figured that as a player, I had done my due diligence, and it would have been too much to pursue it any further (and also I just felt like doing any more as a fellow player would be a dick move, since these were nice people and good players other than that).
What do you do in these situations, if they ever happen to you? As a side question, how can we fix the QFP Boon to make it more obvious which characters can use it. I hadn't even considered the possibility that this many people would misread it the way I mentioned in the spoiler above.
Just an FYI to other PFSers. Personally, this is a welcome change, but I know there were a good number of PFSers on the forums with a universal Masterwork Use Magic Device Tool or a universal Masterwork Diplomacy Tool. Given the emphasis in the text on the power of the individual GM to decide on a case-by-case basis for MW Tools, that probably means that any individual MW Tool won't be PFS legal unless approved by Mark or Mike on a case-by-case basis, and in any case Diplomacy and Use Magic Device are called out specifically as not having universal tools:
Ultimate Equipment, Masterwork Tool:
This tool is perfect for its
intended job. It grants a +2
circumstance bonus on a
related skill check (if any).
The bonuses provided by
multiple masterwork items
do not stack.
Several common items already count as masterwork
tools for particular skills. These are the alchemist’s lab,
climber’s kit, disguise kit, healer’s kit, masterwork musical
instrument, and masterwork thieves’ tools. Therefore, there
is no masterwork climber’s kit, masterwork healer’s kit, and
so on—those items are already the best available for general
checks with the relevant skill.
Some skills have no appropriate tool or masterwork tool—
no nonmagical item exists that grants a bonus for all uses
of that skill. For example, just because a certain perfume is
favored by local nobles (granting a +2 circumstance bonus
on Diplomacy checks to influence them) doesn’t mean that
perfume has the same effect on a member of the thieves’
guild, a foreign berserker, or a medusa. Likewise, just because
a fake beard woven by dwarves out of the beards of famous
dwarves may grant a +2 circumstance bonus on Use Magic
Device checks to emulate the dwarven race doesn’t mean the
beard has any effect on using that skill to activate elven items
or paladin items, or to decipher a written spell.
Individual GMs may want to allow masterwork tools for
other skills at the listed cost. The circumstance bonus for
such a tool should never be more than +2. The tool should
either have a limited number of uses (such as the disguise
and healer’s kits) or only apply to certain aspects of the skill
(such as the balancing pole’s bonus on Acrobatics checks to
traverse a narrow surface or the magnifying glass’s bonus on
Appraise checks for detailed items).
So you're running one of the many many PFS scenarios where enemies have deeper darkness. Heck, it's even one where they have deeper darkness at will. All the lights go out. The PCs, expecting this, bring daylight. They don't have Heighten Spell, so in the overlap of the two spells, normal lighting conditions prevail. They were smart and brought a sunrod or torch, so they can see again. So far, so good.
Here's where we get to something that seems to have severe table variance, and since some versions of what can be done are much much deadlier than others, I think it's pretty important that we all agree on it, whichever side we pick. Now the monster goes again, and it can cast deeper darkness again. But what happens?
If the monster just casts deeper darkness on more and more objects, all the castings in the world still leave regular lighting conditions in the overlap with daylight. So that's pointless. That's not what you what to do--you want to use the clause in the spell that says
Deeper Darkness, PRD wrote:
Deeper darkness can be used to counter or dispel any light spell of equal or lower spell level.
OK, but what do those two mean? It seems that you can ready to counterspell the PC's daylight with your deeper darkness, and you can even dispel their annoying daylight altogether! So if you're like most of the GMs I've seen, you say "OK, it casts the spell again and the light goes out." If you have multiple enemies capable of deeper darkness, you may even be even more devious and have that counterspell readied, so daylight never even happens. But here's the thing--
Counterspelling, PRD wrote:
To complete the action, you must then cast an appropriate spell. As a general rule, a spell can only counter itself. If you are able to cast the same spell and you have it prepared (or have a slot of the appropriate level available), you cast it, creating a counterspell effect. If the target is within range, both spells automatically negate each other with no other results.
But what about the "dispel" part. This is found in the section under stacking magical effects.
Stacking Magical Effects wrote:
So the dispelling version is a negation that occurs if you cast daylight and deeper darkness on the same target. I've seen multiple PFS GMs have the enemy do this to extinguish the light. In my games so far, I haven't been doing this because--
Deeper Darkness, PRD wrote:
So it seems to me that both of these tactics (countering and dispelling the daylight) do not work unless the enemy touches the object you targeted with daylight. Some GMs to whom I've mentioned this (actually all GMs who try to have the monster use this plan) have not agreed.
It would be great to get some consensus on this, though. Obviously whether or not the PCs can see during an encounter makes a huge difference and can probably be the difference between a tough but safe encounter and a TPK. I think I'm right, but I'm fine with being wrong on this, and if I am in fact wrong, I'm doing the PCs in my games a disservice by making it too easy on them, cheating them of the full challenge, so please, any points on either side of this are welcome. This gets even more extreme in a special where tables compete with each other for a prize, as obviously a table that has their daylight removed from range automatically at will by deeper darkness is going to perform worse than a table that doesn't. I hope you guys agree that we should all be playing this either one way or the other, whichever that winds up being.
A while back, I was at a PFS game where we all had fun. I played with a group of great folks all around, both players and GMs.
The last encounter was brutal, and we almost TPKed. Basically most of the party wasn't ready defensively for the enemies' attacks. Two characters died.
Details of the deaths, if they influence your opinion:
One of them was putting themselves in harm's way. The other, the team cleric, basically realized that the other people had AC low enough to make being hit a near-certainty, so she buffed her already best-in-the-party AC up before the fight and reluctantly held the front line so the multiple archers could do their thing and so the rogue could get a flank (The cleric generally expected to hang in the back, but there was literally no other possible melee to flank with the rogue). She prevented three deaths by double-channeling and generally provided clutch team spells, trying successfully to fend off the encounter while the rest of the team got their act together. This only ended when the GM got a string of luck that would make Desna proud and rolled the 6 attacks getting 16 or above on all 7 of them and one of them a natural 20, with a 16 or above on the dice to confirm (16 on the dice was needed to hit the cleric), taking the cleric from full, where she brought herself by healing last turn, to dead before she could heal again)
So, after the game, the topic of Raise Dead came up. The player of the cleric believed that the team should split the cost to bring her back to fighting condition. Half the team (including me and one of the archers) agreed with this, and the other half looked at the first half like they had four eyes. They explained that they would be happy to pay their share of any necessary costs after the cleric had emptied her pockets of all gold and prestige. They didn't want her to lose the character forever, but other than that, they felt the cleric should pay for the rest. This discussion had been slightly predicted earlier in the scenario when the cleric offered the whole party to put Breath of Life scrolls in spring-loaded wrist sheathes for any party member who chose to buy one. That way she could use that person's scroll of Breath of Life and save them from death. The same players who later didn't want to split the raise balked at this and told the cleric that she should be using her own scroll of Breath of Life to save their characters and paying for it herself, which just seems like more of the whole "The Cleric has to pay for the CLW wand to heal me" point of view. They said the cleric was greedy for asking everyone to buy their own Breath of Life scroll to carry around for emergency use.
The cleric's player felt like she prevented a TPK (and she did) by putting herself at unusual risk due to the party composition to save the rest of the team from certain death. She pointed out that she could have kept withdrawing from the enemies and let them get to the archers, in which case the archers would have been the ones to die (the enemies hit the archers on a much lower roll than a 16, and the cleric had been tanking 11 attacks per round until we eventually dropped one of them and took the attacks down to 6). The player of the cleric is always the first to offer to split the raise if anyone dies during the scenario, unless the character dies from doing something stupid after being warned by the party "If you do X and die for it, we're not helping pay for your Raise."
So the upshot is that the people who didn't want to pay eventually paid a substantially reduced share, but they were pretty disgruntled, even though they had been having fun up until that point, and the rest of us who wanted to support the cleric insisted on paying more than a full share to try to compensate this, so the cleric barely avoided losing money for playing the scenario.
So what about your group? How does the social contract work for splitting raises?
I can see a lot of possible ways to do it, and they each have their pros and cons. In my opinion, however, failing to split raises is short-sightedly selfish and ultimately detrimental for the community as a whole, even for the players of classes that keep themselves out of danger by relying on others to stay in front. Why detrimental for the community? Because that kind of social contract is teaching the players of the frontliners who die only one lesson--"Gosh, I shouldn't be playing one of these classes where everything attacks me and I get killed guarding the path to the squishier characters. I should be one of those guys in the back that never has to pay for a raise and make someone else do this job."