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Mike J's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 262 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 Pathfinder Society characters.


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It really comes down to the kind of game you want to have. This particular example makes it easier than the often-seen "My players worked together and did everything right, but luck was against them. Do I TPK or fudge rolls?"

In this case, they split the party (dumb-dumb-dumb, dumb-dumb). So, consequences or not? There is no "right" answer. But whatever you decide, it will set the tone for the rest of the game and mold your players' choices.

I prefer a consequences-based game. I've played in a game with very few consequences and it was not my idea of fun - others in the game loved it. So, I'd kill the ranger and have the kobolds string up his body in front of their lair as a trophy/warning to others. Maybe put his head on a pike. Kobolds in my games are little bastards that way.

Here's how I've ended up handling knowledge checks:

If you can attempt the check (have ranks), you automatically get the creature's name, type, and subtypes, including any information associated with type or subtype. At 10+CR and every 5 above that, you get some useless fluff from the bestiary entry - great for flavor.

At every 5 above, you also get one yes/no question (max 3 questions). It can be any yes/no question about the creature. "AC over 25?" "No". "SR?" "Yes". "has Combat Reflexes?" "No".

Alignment gets handled slightly different. If you ask about alignment, you get an answer for the generic creature. Ask "is it evil?" about a NG goblin, and the answer is "yes, goblins tend to be evil".

I've found it keeps the monster knowledge aspect very relevant without giving the PCs too much info. It also means I don't have to get into the business of picking what info to reveal based on the party composition. Reveal too little that's relevant and the PCs deem monster knowledge to be a wasted effort. Reveal too much and the monsters become push overs.

I've been using it for years and it works pretty good.

I agree with everyone else.

But they really didn't answer your question. So here's what you do: Go find a high level cleric or oracle (the higher level, the better). Get yourself a scythe. Have the cleric/oracle cast hold person on your "friend's" character. Then coup de gras.

Once you have that out of your system, you can find some people worth playing with where you can explore the more interesting aspects of the game besides killing each other.

David knott 242 wrote:
And if the originator of this thread is unfamiliar with the "Big Six", it is likely that his players have ACs that are too low. Note that several of these items boost AC, namely the magic armor, magic shield, ring of protection, and amulet of natural armor. A belt of dexterity could also help with AC for characters who wear light or no armor and focus on that stat ahead of strength or constitution.

I agree. There is an entire calculus to optimizing your WBL. The CR system is expecting PCs to use the calculus for the most part. Using it will cause PCs to get hit less often, fail fewer saves, hit more often, and do more damage. I'd argue the offensive side helps with healing more than the defensive side - you should still have both.

D6Veteran: The specific calculus varies from build to build, but goes something like this for AC:

Incremental cost of magic armor and shield = 1, 3, 5, 7, 9k gp
Incremental cost of deflection, natural armor bonus = 2, 6, 10, 14k gp (note: deflection is the superior AC bonus as it applies to all three ACs)
Incremental cost of belt of Dex = 4, 12, 20k gp

You buy the cheapest incremental costs first, maximizing your AC/gold, resulting the a sequence like this:

+1 armor, +1 shield, +1 ring, +1 amulet, +2 armor, +2 shield, +2 belt, +3 armor, +3 shield, +2 ring.
That's +10 to AC for 32k gp. +5 armor with +5 shield (+10 AC) costs 50k gp. The first method saves enough gold for a +3 weapon.

That being said, I wouldn't bring any of this up to your players. Be happy they are playing and having fun. As GM, you can make adjustments and toss in the right magic items to "make things right" (a +3 weapon for the +5 armor/shield people).

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Isn't the summon eidolon spell supposed to take care of these situations? The "oops, I don't have my eidolon with me right now and this fight won't last 10 rounds..." 2nd level spell, one round casting time and you get your eidolon for 1 minute/level.

I'm surprised a method for speeding up the summoning process exists at all since it eliminates the need for the spell and one of the few balancing aspect of the class. *shrug*

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Zenogu wrote:
The main 4 classes I want to see under this new system would be Inquisitor, Warpriest, Magus, and Investigator. All of them have a good amount of swift actions to use, and they would help me ultimately decide if its alright to allow more than 1 swift action per turn. I know how the new system works in my head, but I want to see it laid out in practice.

I've got an Inquisitor in my group that uses RAE. Being able to take more than one swift action per turn works just fine (seems balanced). Giving up additional attacks really hurts and often the Inquisitor (ranged) opts to keep 2 of the 3 actions for attacking. But sometimes not, and piles on the self-buffs.

Something worth noting is that I have adopted the houserule that some swift actions are now a free action once per round; specifically swift actions with a one round duration (ki for additional attack, etc.) and swift actions that are a "speed up" (action was a move then becomes swift). Without that houserule, many classes that rely heavily on swift actions take a serious beating with the nerf bat. So my "seems balanced" eval is with that houserule in place.

TwoWolves wrote:
Mike J wrote:

Took about six to seven months, playing every week for 5-6 hours per session. Didn't miss many sessions (maybe 2 or 3 total) and there wasn't much side tracking or lengthy discussions. Book 5 was a bit of a problem as the party went straight for the info (by pure dumb luck) and had to trudge through the rest of the book to get enough xp to "move on". They by-passed much of the "filler" in book 6.

** spoiler omitted **

The final battle was pretty epic, though.

This is part of the reason we agreed to ditch XP altogether and hand out levels upon reaching certain plot points. My group only hit 3 wings of Runeforge and immediately split, and this was after I made the place inescapable via any means other than the one in Wrath. They'll probaby try to run straight up the mountain, but that occluding field will likely send them back to the lower city for a while.

I've since ditched XP too. And I really didn't mind the book 6 by-pass. At that point in any adventure, it is "go time". I find it anticlimactic to wander around exploring and taking in the local flavor when the BBEG must die. But that's just me.

Zenogu wrote:
Mike J wrote:

Unchained Revised Action Economy - with a number of additions to make the rules fully functional (address Disabled, Nauseated, Staggered, Rapid Shot, Manyshot, Flyby Attack, etc.)

Oh hey. Can you elaborate on this a little? I'm about to implement this, and I know not everything is covered in the book.

If I had to guess, Staggered is -1 act, and Nauseated is -2 acts? Also, how did you do Rapid/Many shot? I was going to treat them similar to two weapon fighting rules.

Sure. Putting it in a spoiler since it isn't on topic

My RAE adjustments:

Disabled: A disabled character can commit a single action (requiring up to 2 acts to perform) each turn. A disabled character moves at half speed. Taking an action with the Move subtype or no subtype doesn't risk further injury, but performing any Complex or Attack action (or any other action the GM deems strenuous, including some Simple actions such as Cast a Swift Spell) deals 1 point of damage after the completion of the act.

Nauseated: Creatures with the nauseated condition experience stomach distress. Nauseated creatures can commit a single action (requiring up to 2 acts to perform) each turn and are unable to attack, cast spells (including swift spells), concentrate on spells, or do anything else requiring attention (no Complex or Attack actions). The creature can only take an action with the Move subtype or no subtype.

Staggered: A staggered character can commit a single action (requiring up to 2 acts to perform) each turn. A creature with nonlethal damage exactly equal to its current hit points gains the staggered condition.

Some Swift Actions Are Once Per Round Free Actions: A swift action that are supposed to be faster versions of an action that is already a simple action are free actions usable once per round. Swift actions that are part of a 1 round effect (ki point for an additional attack, etc.) are free actions usable once per round.

Flurry of Blows (Unchained Monk): At 1st level, an unchained monk gains an additional act that can only be used to make a Simple Attack action with an unarmed strike or monk weapon. At 11th level, an unchained monk gain another additional act that can only be used to make a Simple Attack action with an unarmed strike or monk weapon. These additional Simple Attack actions do not suffer subsequent attack penalties or count towards subsequent attack penalties for other Simple Attack actions. These additional attacks stack with the bonus attacks from haste and other similar effects.

Flyby Attack: When flying, the creature can take the rest of its actions at any point during a Move Simple action. The creature cannot take additional Move actions during a round when it makes a flyby attack.

Pounce: When a creature with this special attack makes a Charge, it can make all its natural attacks (including rake attacks if the creature also has the rake ability) as a Simple Attack action following the Charge.

Ranged Combat: If you have the Rapid Shot feat, you can make two ranged attack rolls with a –2 penalty on your first ranged Simple Attack action during a turn. If you have the Manyshot feat, you can make two ranged attack rolls on both the first and second ranged Simple Attack actions taken during your furn; both of the attacks made on the first Attack action are made at a –2 penalty, and both of the attacks made on the second Attack action are made at a –7 penalty.

Spring Attack: Using Spring Attack is an Advanced Attack Move action requiring 2 acts.

Make All Natural Attacks: The creature can also take one Step as a free action. The Step can be taken before, between, or after the natural attacks.

I have others adjustments for Mythic, but boil down to Mythic stuff is once per round as a free action with a few restrictions.

Zenogu wrote:

It's... somewhere back there. I was actually looking for that myself.

I've got another dumb question though. Fighting Defensively is a free action at the start of your turn. Under these new guidelines, does that mean you no longer actually have to attack to gain the benefits of Fighting Defensively?

There is nothing in the wording that requires making an attack. However, there are many aspects of RAE that are "rough around the edges" and require addition adjudication (or not).

Personally, I'd rule that you can fight defensively as a free action at the start of your turn as long as you make at least one Attack Action during your turn. That would be consistent with how fighting defensively works in Core. And it makes common sense - you have to fight to fight defensively.

Took about six to seven months, playing every week for 5-6 hours per session. Didn't miss many sessions (maybe 2 or 3 total) and there wasn't much side tracking or lengthy discussions. Book 5 was a bit of a problem as the party went straight for the info (by pure dumb luck) and had to trudge through the rest of the book to get enough xp to "move on". They by-passed much of the "filler" in book 6.

When you put a raised highway that leads straight to the BBEG, expect the PCs to drive right past and ignore any off ramps.

The final battle was pretty epic, though.

Murderhobo answer: Nuke it (from orbit). It's the only way to be sure... Then scrape the gold filigree off the walls.

Serious response: I would explode the nuke. Kill 100k to save an entire world? That's a no-brainer for me.

My group has quite a few standing house rules:

E6 - High level play got too crazy for us.

Heroic Bonuses - A level-based point system designed to eliminate big-6 magic items and the "magic mart". Similar to Unchained's Automatic Bonuses, but more flexible.

Strain-Injury - An alternate healing mechanic designed to eliminate the need for "heal sticks".

Unchained Background Skills

Unchained Revised Action Economy - with a number of additions to make the rules fully functional (address Disabled, Nauseated, Staggered, Rapid Shot, Manyshot, Flyby Attack, etc.)

Unchained Poison and Disease

Modified Environmental Rules - An attempt to make the environmental effects more relevant while reducing the number of saves to a more manageable level. We're still testing this one.

No coin weight

From time to time, a few rules are modified, usually to make a character concept work. Stuff like smoothing over the whip/scorpion whip rules for the Bard and eliminating the need for Ranged Study so an Investigator with a bow doesn't entirely suck.

Kaisoku wrote:

Why do monsters need to change? They are using natural weapons, not iteratives.

Unless you are removing full attacks for natural attack routines too... in that they get to do all natural attacks in a standard action.

Pounce already tends to add extra attacks that weren't available before for these creatures (hind leg attacks). Perhaps allowing bonus movement or +attack bonus when pouncing (or both).

The divide isn't monsters/PCs but rather natural attacks/manufactured weapons. Monster tend to use natural and PCs manufactured, but there are plenty of exceptions. There doesn't need to be a change to natural attacks - I assumed there would be. But change them or not, either way there is likely to be an impact.

Leaving natural attacks "as is" gives all manufactured weapon creatures (monsters and PCs) a buff over the natural attack creatures - one can move and make multiple attacks, the other can't (assuming no feats/special abilities). Druid, Hunter, Ranger, Summoner, and natural attack based characters will all take a hit.

Changing natural attacks, depending on how it is done, gives creatures with many natural attacks a buff over those with only one attack.

It is a lot to think about.

Cerberus Seven wrote:
Mike J wrote:
I've switched to the Unchained revised action economy and have seen a number of changes that I wouldn't have predicted. For example, charging is obsolete. Also, with more maneuverability, I saw a big change in tactics. And with that, monsters with feat choices that aren't effective any more. I think your change will have a similar effect.
Actually, you should reread the rules for charges in that section. It still carries the normal restrictions as far as targetting and movement, but there's no AC penalty anymore despite still getting the +2 to your attack roll. So, it's perfectly good to use in cases where there's an enemy you've got a clear line to that's more than one move action away. A number of different actions from the base system have been tweaked that way in the Revised Action Economy.

I'm well aware of the rules as are my players. I agree that RAE charge is useful in those circumstances. The problem is that straight line to target and more than a move away just doesn't come up at our table. Increased mobility across the board has made it easier to block the straight line aspect usually with terrain of some kind. The common tactic that disappeared was charging from within one move away to get a +2. Prior to getting iterative attacks, that's all I saw melee PCs do. Not anymore.

One thing you may not have considered is how this impacts monsters with lots of natural attacks. You'll essentially be giving everything Pounce. Some creatures will suddenly get more deadly. By the same token, some will get nerfed.

I've switched to the Unchained revised action economy and have seen a number of changes that I wouldn't have predicted. For example, charging is obsolete. Also, with more maneuverability, I saw a big change in tactics. And with that, monsters with feat choices that aren't effective any more. I think your change will have a similar effect.

I also use HeroLab, so tracking it is easy. However, until WBL hits a point where haversacks and/or bags are easily affordable, encumbrance can have a huge impact. Not tracking it at all gives most non-Strength focused characters a pretty big advantage.

You might find the Strain-Injury rules a good addition to what you're doing here. I've used them for a while now and they work nicely, especially in a low magic setting. link to the rules

Malwing wrote:
Mike J wrote:

GM's don't need tools to wreck parties - Cthulhu arrives (or rocks fall), everyone dies... Or crank the CR up to 25 and keep adding monsters until the PCs die.

I disagree. Its not to wreck parties but to make a monster more of a threat, which is totally different.

And stuff...

I completely agree with you. Teamwork feats CAN be used by GMs to wreck parties/make encounters tougher/more interesting and when used correctly, they can be a great tool on either side of the table. My point was that GMs don't NEED teamwork feats to wreck parties (GMs have far more effective methods). And I'm pretty sure the Devs didn't invent them to give GMs a way to wreck parties.

Teamwork feats are situational. That doesn't make them bad, but it does mean they won't be overly popular.

GM's don't need tools to wreck parties - Cthulhu arrives (or rocks fall), everyone dies... Or crank the CR up to 25 and keep adding monsters until the PCs die.

Teamwork feats are awesome, IF you can get them for "cheap" or "free": Inquisitor, cavalier, or using a non-PC (eidolon, familiar, hireling, cohort, etc.)

BigNorseWolf hit it on the head. Teamwork feats generally cost double for the benefit. They sometimes cost even more since one member of the "team" is only taking the feat to benefit someone else and they could have used that feat slot for something else. Outflank really helps the rogue, but the fighter who takes it often needs more "to hit" like they need more negative levels (not at all).

Another factor is the "fun" element. Many people don't find it fun to play a character whose sole capability is to stand in X place to make someone else a rock star.

I think these are some of the reasons people don't take teamwork feats.

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I generally don't care what race players pick and I like seeing a diverse group as it makes things interesting. However, overly powerful races (Drow Noble & friends) and outright monsters are not allowed as they tend to marginalize other players. I had a player that seriously wanted to play an ancient red dragon for a game starting at first level. Ummm, NO.

What I also don't allow that many players frequently ask for and get very upset when I say no, is playing the "enemy" race. BBEG is an Orc, they want Orc. Fighting goblins, they want goblin. And not a reformed member of the group - that could be interesting. They insist on being the BBEG's right hand man.

It goes beyond race, too. Playing Star Wars, they want to play Gandalf. Playing Pathfinder, they want Jedi with a light saber. Frankly, I don't get it.

1. Legacy of Fire - ran it with Mythic and fixed a few things, but great story.
2. Serpent's Skull - again, some rough spots got fixed. Best start so far.
3. Carrion Crown
4. Rune Lords Anniversary

I'm prepping Mummy's Mask now, which looks very promising. We'll see how it stands up to actual play.

Weapon Blanch (UE pg 105) allows a very cheap way for an archer to get silver, cold iron, and adamantine arrows (10 gp per arrow max). That leaves the archer only slashing, alignment, epic, and - to get hosed by, unless I'm forgetting a DR type. The last three are difficult for most characters to overcome. Granted, oil of align weapon allows melee types to overcome the alignment DR, but it costs the actions to draw and apply it (ouch). I think in the end DR is pretty much a wash for the different combat styles.

I agree 100% with the above.

OP - Here's a great test for whatever changes you are planning to make: Build a fighter with a bow using the changes. Then build a bard with a bow using the changes. The bard should still be viable as a scondary damage dealer.

I think the decision on how much to nerf archery really depends on your group's level of optimization. At a bare minimum, as GM you MUST enforce all of the rules, especially cover and concealment. Also, play the monsters smart - once the arrows start flying, even the dumbest of creatures will take cover.

When I was playing with some pretty heavy optimizers, I found that getting rid of Many Shot was just enough to keep things balanced. I could see adding more feats to the "ban list" if your group is more "normal".

Another consideration is getting rid of Clustered Shots, especially if the archer is NOT the sole damage dealer for the group.

Whatever you decide to do, beware of making archery a sub-par fighting style by banning too much. If you make archery too weak, nobody will select it and you might as well have said "no archery."

I recently started using Strain/injury and there is no going back for me and my group. It is a simply brilliant system. 1000 kudos to MythicEvilLincoln!

I've also been using the new poison rules from Pathfinder Unchained and treating the initial poison hit point damage as injury. It works quite nicely, but I could certainly see treating it as strain.

In my home games I let players pick, but generally require both stats to be in the range of possible values for the race. If a player came to me wanting to pick values outside the range, like the previous Asimar situation, I'd consider allowing it based on the reason. Short halfling Asimar would be fine by me.

I've had players (yes, more than one) pick 9-foot tall humans, claim the character was Large and therefore gained the size increase ability adjustments from the Bestiary (+8 Str, +4 Con, -2 Dex, +2 Nat Armor). Sorry, no. You try that and I'll force rolling in front of me using my dice, and you get whatever you roll.

I've been playing with the Revised Action Economy exclusively for several months. It will require some additional adjudication from time to time, beyond what you are planning. There are some things that just aren't covered.

Making a Step a free action without other limits (like once per round) is going to make the game crazy mobile and essentially eliminate all AoOs. As written, the Step makes AoOs a very rare sight.

Getting rid of the -5 penalty for each additional attack will make the game very deadly, even at 8th level. That means 5 attacks per turn at full BAB by a TWF, 6 with Haste. All arrows from an Archer will be at full BAB. Monsters with one big attack will get to use it three times per turn at full BAB. Better get a supply of body bags.

If you haven't played with the Revised Action Economy, I would recommend trying it "as is" (as few modifications as necessary) first. It really is a new paradigm with lots of hidden effects.

Having said all that, I think RAE is a brilliant concept and worth using.

The story screams mythic from the outset. I converted the entire AP to E6 with mythic (5 total tiers) and it was a blast - one of the best game ever. I did roughly one mythic trial per book. I'd probably stick to the same format with 1-15 levels since mythic can get out of hand with more tiers. The lesson I learned was fewer mythic tiers tends to be better than more. Five tiers was too many for an E6 game that ended at roughly APL 10, despite what Mythic Adventures says.

As for when to include mythic, I agree that mold speaker or an alternative is the right time for initial ascension. After that, key monsters should be the mythic trials. There are several that stick out, especially with some of the set pieces. I'd shoot for one or two trials per book at key moments.

I included Legendary weapons as well, which fit very nicely with the story. I say go for it and have fun with it. You'll have to boost many of the encounters, but it is worth the work. Genies require a mythic group of PCs to rise to the challenge.

I have to agree with Metal Sonic.

The feat encourages all party members to get involved (not likely) and for each one to take entirely different teamwork feats with no overlap (even less likely). The fewer party members involved and greater number of duplicate teamwork feats, the less benefit from Team Coordination. That is not a good thing.

I'd have it provide some kind of partial benefit to the PC taking the feat. An interesting side effect is that party members could directly benefit from an inquisitor's feats and their ability to switch up the most recent one.

You may not even need to show the players a basic overview of Valetta. Just the relevant portions that the players will initially interact with. Like the West Side Story example, just the Jets neighborhood and the Sharks neighborhood. Not the USA, not NY state, not NY City, not even the West Side of the city.

As for ethnic groups and races, you are on the right track. Use the classic bar scene in Star Wars as a guide. We get to see that there is a very diverse collection of races, yet we learn nothing about any of them (one doesn't like Luke - not exactly a defining racial trait). Later we learn about the Wookie (violent sore loser) and whatever Jaba the Hut is in the remastered version. Again, only the bare minimum that is necessary.

Save the rest of the info for when the players get there.

Looking at the Fighter's Fork, the switching capability costs a bit less than a +1 equivalent. I'd recommend making an always-on "true reach" ability (reach+adjacent) that costs the same as a +1 equivalent and doesn't stack with similar effects. Something like:

Extending: This ability can only be placed on melee weapons. An extending weapon is able to create a phantom extension or contraction of itself as needed. When applied to a weapon without the reach quality, the weapon gains the reach quality and retains the ability to attack adjacent opponents without penalty. When applied to a weapon with the reach quality, the weapon gains the ability to attack adjacent opponents without penalty. This ability does not stack with similar effects that extend a creature's reach with a weapon such as Lunge and long arm.

Faint transmutation; CL 5th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, long arm; Cost: +1 bonus

When it comes to weapon and armor qualities, the static prices only work with abilities that that become less relevant over time. For example energy resistance 5 is "OMGBroken" at level 1, "meh" at level 8, and a joke at level 15+. Since the extending ability is equally good across all levels, it should be priced normally, which ends up being an exponential progression.

Back when I was using the item/settlement rules (I currently play E6 with a home brew version of the Unchained inherent bonuses - bye bye magic mart), I found the system unwieldy, especially when it came to the "list" of items a settlement has available above its base value. Generating all those lists of items was a giant pain, especially if a player decided that their character must have a particular item and was willing to halt adventuring and wait.

I ended up turning that item chart into percentages and let players ask for an item and then roll to see if it was in stock that week. It made it difficult (or time consuming) to obtain rare items and I didn't have to roll up countless item lists. I also allowed the players to pay a 10% premium to "special order" an item which showed up in something like 1d4 weeks.

In the end, getting rid of the magic mart entirely and making things like potions and scrolls the only available magic items has solved a multitude of issues.

Depending on the type of game you and your players enjoy, fully defining BBEGs (or any encounters) too far in advance may cause you headaches later. If you are going to follow the Pathfinder AP approach, which is rather rigid in terms of how the adventure progresses (you must be level X by chapter Y), fully defining everything in advance is just fine.

On the other hand, if you prefer a more free form style game, allowing your players to skip areas or where a side trek can turn into a 3 level ordeal, you could have a problem. Meaning your level X boss may not be appropriate when your players finally get there.

To resolve this, you could just define the bosses as concepts. Iron Eye Lord Throvin becomes a male Chelixian human ranger (infiltrator) who prefers ranged combat with a bow and has some kind of fiendish creature as a bodyguard/companion. He may be anything from level 1 to level 20 with 10 mythic ranks depending on when the PCs get to him. You can pick out key feats and character options that help define his concept. Naturally, the closer your players get, the easier it is to figure out what level to make him. The session that they kick in the front door of Throvin's castle/hovel/dungeon, you'll know exactly what level to make him. And you'll also know what goodies he will need to have to avoid being "rocket tagged" by a level 15+ party.

Another consideration when building encounters: All of the rich complexity and interesting aspects of character classes is often entirely lost when seen by players through combat. All they see of monsters is AC, attack, damage, saves, etc. How those values get calculated is entirely hidden from players (unless you are showing them the stat blocks). So a fighter, a barbarian, a magus, and a melee inquisitor could end up looking exactly the same to the players - they hit often and hit hard. Yet the fighter is the simplest to play and the inquisitor is the most complex. For a GM, complex for no purpose is generally not good because you already have too much on your plate (you play the entire multiverse except the PCs). Consider what, if anything, your players will be able to see in exchange for the complexity of the class.

Lorden wrote:

How exactly do you guys go about soloing the adventures without stumbling across info that could impact your decisions?

Curious as id like to try it out, but not sure how you would go about it if your the DM and the player.


If you metagame as a player, it is pretty much impossible. However, if you are able to make a distinction between what you as a player know and what your PC knows, it is no different than any other game. If you can say "but my character doesn't know that" and then make a decision, that's what you do.

To echo Prince Yyrkoon, if you step away from the WBL/CR power curve, you'll need to balance the entire game yourself. Even the most subtle of changes can produce large unexpected results in just a handful of levels.

I've been using a version of this for several years and it has worked very nicely. It is simply a more flexible version of the Unchained automatic bonuses. Before that, I tried a number of different methods that didn't mimic the Pathfinder WBL/CR power curve and all of them quickly led to regular TPKs or no challenge for the PCs.

Having said all that, nothing is stopping you from rebalancing everything using whatever changes you want to put in place, and have it be a success. It will just be a ton of work for you.

The best advice I can give you is to get as much GM experience as you can, as soon as you can get it. Consider running a few published adventures as one-offs while you write your campaign. It would be even better if you get some GM experience with the levels you intend your campaign to cover, especially if you intend to include high level play (12+). You might even want to create a few one-off adventures in your campaign world and then run them.

For those who responded to my sub-question: thanks. I don't use the auto-win DC very often. Most of the time I use the "three sources" method where there are three ways to find out any given piece of info.

I was curious how the community viewed it.

Serious question on a related topic: When I'm writing adventures, there are times I "need" the players to discover something or learn something in order to progress the story/plot. Often the info is best discovered via a skill check of some kind - Knowledge, Perception, whatever. In these situations, rather than picking some arbitrary "low" number, I often set the skill DC to "highest score", meaning the player who scores the highest on the skill check (roll + bonus) succeeds, no matter how low their score ends up being. If only one player tries, they auto-succeed, but I don't tell them that.

Is this the same as what the GM in the OP is doing and does it make me a terrible GM?

I hope it doesn't, but I could see how it "cheats" the players in a similar way as they aren't going against a predetermined DC.

Nualia is very smart. Play her as such. With the entire place on alert, I think she would have her minions harass the players every few hours, preventing them from getting any sleep or rest, but have her harassers withdraw once the PCs' rest is interrupted (no monster casualties). Then she would wait them out, fighting from a superior position, arranging her remaining forces to best effect. Meanwhile, she would personally continue her work to release Malfeshkinor (sp?). When the PCs finally emerge, her minions would inform her and she would join the fight. I'd let the PCs retreat back the way they came in and flee Thistletop entirely with minimal resistance. But any move toward stopping Nualia should meet with heavy resistance. Put the Thistletop defenders on a rotating schedule with the resting forces being awakened (fatigued?) if the PCs attack. This should make it very difficult (your PCs earned that), but fair/winnable.

Great minds think alike. Or we are the same flavor of crazy. Either works for me.

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Why have the party play out this encounter? If you design the encounter for a win (CR = APL+8), any experienced player will be able to tell right away - players only hit on nat 20, monster only misses on nat 1, monster kills with each hit. If you design a reasonable encounter and fudge the dice, any experienced player will be able to tell and call "bull excrement". Does it really matter what actions the PCs take? In the end they must die.

Instead, I suggest you make it a narrative instead. Start with something like "You are all dead and here's how you got that way." Then hit the key highlights of the encounter. The BBEG's monologue. The PCs' valiant attempt to win. Their failed attempt to run away when winning seemed impossible. The BBEG's cruel and vicious killing of them as they ran.

That would make me hate the BBEG and not feel cheated.

It could be a difference in game style. I've played with people who went on "smoke break" after every combat and didn't return until "roll for initiative". Their characters often didn't have names (or any other indentifying characteristics) and were "retired" in one way or another after about 5 sessions so the player could try something else. There is nothing wrong with that style of play, it just wasn't for me.

I suppose it depends on the kind of game you have (seems kinda obvious from what's been said so far...) Since Lamashtu plays a significant role in the AP, I'd advise against worshipping her if your group intends to oppose the AP's villain, rather than join forces with him/her/it. However, if the PCs are going to raze Sandpoint and pillage Varisia, then I suppose it doesn't matter who you worship. With a Lamashtu-esque character and a goblin in the group, it doesn't look good for Sandpoint. That poor town.

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Berti Blackfoot wrote:
I don't know how, every time I try the barbarian screams and charges.

Isn't that the barbarian version of Diplomacy?

This kinda reminds me of the start to the Serpent's Skull AP, Souls for Smuggler's Shiv, which is highly regarded.

The PCs all end up shipwrecked together

I agree with Casual Viking, just be up front and allow the PCs to fill in the blanks. To a large degree, the start of any adventure is a railroad. You can let your players start where they want, but you run the risk of them being in different universes or on different planes of existence with no means of contacting each other. Hence the dreaded bar on a rainy night with Gandalf a wizard showing up with a quest.

I don't think you can do this via feats alone and keep it balanced with non-vampires in the PC party. To make it balanced, the vampire feats would have to be in line with the typical Pathfinder feats. Taking at quick look at what you've got:

The Bitten is probably fine, but on the overpowered side of things. The Dying is equal to about 3 feats. The Risen is equal to at least 7 or 8 feats, probably more. The Initiated is equal to roughly 7 feats. I don't have the vampire template handy, so I can't evaluate True Vampirism, but it really doesn't matter.

The first 4 feats provide the benefits of about 18. In a game where characters typically get 10 feats, that isn't going to work.

Like many others have suggested, I think this fits better in a class feature structure (regular class, prestige class, variant multiclassing, level adjustment, or the like). In which case, I think the full Vampire template is worth about +8 LA (8 class levels, no additional feats) or about 10 class levels with additional feats.

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I use initiative for all types of encounters, instead of just combat. It keeps things orderly and prevents player steamrolling ("I say this, and do that, and do another thing, and, and...") Unless it is a meaningless interaction like purchasing trail rations from a nameless shopkeeper, every encounter starts with rolling initiative. What happens from there is up to all the involved creatures. If someone decides to attack, the encounter becomes a combat. If everyone decides to stop attacking, the encounter becomes a non-combat encounter. That second one rarely happens without one side of the combat being all dead or unconscious.

A few added benefits: it encourages more players to get involved since everyone has a turn and one player can't "hog the mic". It also masks the intentions of NPCs. The PCs roll initiative for the NPCs that want to kill them as well as the NPCs who don't. Makes it hard to tell which is which.

Take a look at the player's guides for the various Pathfinder Adventure Paths (all are free to download). I think the one for Mummy's Mask is the gold standard. Obviously, any rule changes need to be specified very clearly.

Something to note: The bulk of the content in those guides is identifying which character options fit best with the adventure. There is only a few pages about the setting itself and most of it is about the starting location. This is a good thing.

You are mixing and matching rule sets which is likely to produce strange results. Pounce is just one of many rules that wasn't rewritten for the alternate paradigm. Revised Action Economy is not a complete rule set and requires additional adjudication. Most rules were not "converted" to RAE, as that would have required a full rewrite of the rule set.

Core Charge includes an attack as part of the charge. Core Pounce turns that attack into a full attack.

RAE Charge does not include an attack. You just get a bonus to attacks against the charge target. RAE Pounce was not included in Unchained. The term "full attack" does not exist in RAE. So, RAW Pounce allows a creature to <undefined> as part of a charge in RAE.

In my RAE games, Pounce allows an attack with all natural weapons as an Attack Action made after a charge. A reasonable interpretation, I think. Each GM using RAE will have to make their own decision on what RAE Pounce looks like since it provides an undefined benefit.

I don't expect there to be any official errata, FAQ, or further definition of anything in Unchained unless Paizo makes a new edition of the rules and chooses to adopt something from Unchained.

Adagna wrote:

Thanks, I appreciate the input. I guess this system doesn't really favor well rounded characters as much as it does highly specialized ones. Which seems odd because out in the "real world" a highly specialized character would have a really rough time doing anything other then what they are built for.

I suppose it works since this is a heavily group oriented game. Most of my past RPing experience is in very small groups or one on one where my characters had to sort of live and die by their own abilities.

Pathfinder is a group game and a group of varied specialists will almost always beat out a group of individuals who try to do it all by themselves. This does mimic the real world. That is why each of us does not grow our own food, fix our own plumbing, make our own nuclear power plants, perform our own brain surgery, etc. Instead, we all specialize and rely upon each other to fill in the gaps. It makes a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

You can certainly play Pathfinder in a more "survival" mode, with each character having to do it all. You'll have to lower all of the challenges (skill DCs, monster CR, ability DCs, etc.) because Pathfinder is expecting a party of 4 specialists - Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard (or something along those lines).

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