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I use a variation of the Unchained method. I found it somewhere on these boards and it predates Unchained. Instead of automatic bonuses, character receive Heroism Points when they level up. A point = 1k gold and you get points based on 2/3 or 3/4 your WB (can't remember which). Then players spend the points to get "Big 6" bonuses. It is like Unchained, but allows more flexibility/player customization.
When you give out treasure, you give about 1/3 and any magic items become something really special. It has worked extremely well.
I can't say that I understand the appeal. There is none for me. I remember the "good old days" of rolling in 1st Ed. Then or now, there are usually two options - you roll well and have a usable character or you don't and need to start over.
Rolling hps is even worse. I remember playing a 3.5 monk and rolled four 1's for hp on four consecutive level ups. That monk was the party's primary damage dealer. When he died (shortly after the last level up), so did the rest of the party. GM was really upset as it ended the game. After that I started using point buys and average hps.
If I'm reading that right, this GM has a GMPC. While that isn't necessarily the end of the world (I've played a GMPC or two successfully from time to time), it raises numerous red flags. Combine GMPC (done badly) with "Old School" style gaming (AKA GM rules all) and a few questionable rule calls, and you might be in a situation where you are literally playing the "GM's game". You and the other PCs might be minor "extras" on his movie set. I'm betting that in his mind, you aren't sticking to the "script". If this is the case, I doubt there is little you can do besides play your part or walk away.
I had an encounter with a dragon and the PCs didn't have access to fly. They had one "death archer" and the rest were melee. They were getting stomped with flying pass after flying pass of breath weapon. The Monk PC asks if he can climb on the Fighter's shoulders, jump up and grapple the dragon as it flies by, bringing it to the ground.
I let him make a climb check, an acrobatics, and a CMB check (seemed fair at the time). He succeeds at all the rolls, plucking the dragon out of the sky and bringing it down to ground level. Very cool, party loved it, and it let everyone in on the combat.
Prophet of Doom wrote:
The real prize is Saventh-Yhi (think archeological site). You need more than a few untrained murder-hobos to find the goodies there and hual them back to civilization. The party's job is to help get their expedition to the city first. You have who is helping who backwards. The party is supporting the caravan/faction expedition. Not the other way around.
As for treasure, etc. that is why your party needs to join a faction. They are going to the middle of nowhere. The faction expedition will provide a link back to civilization and a steady stream of supplies (allowing for buying and selling items).
If your party is thinking "who needs these factions", they should consider what will happen when the factions have hundreds of people in the city with security, etc. The Sargavans will be bringing an army, for example. The party can't "go it alone" on this one.
OP: Just walk away and don't look back. This is your precious free time that's being messed with by both the GM and the other player(s) - plural if the other players are aware of the situation. Life is short and free time is limited. Don't waste it with a bunch of jerks who care nothing for you or your time. Don't even say "goodbye", just walk.
My votes would be Souls for Smuggler's Shiv, Skinsaw Murders, and Edge of Eternity (director's cut, if you can get it). With a little massaging, they can be placed in just about any campaign or even run as stand alones.
I think the setting should provide a fair representation of the different sexualities present in real-world society. This makes the setting easier to identify with. However, the real-world controversies and battles should be left out only because they would create a distraction. So, I suppose I'm advocating for a utopian representation - there are straight, gay, bi, etc. people and they are all treated fairly and equally, etc.
As for sex and sexual acts, I think Paizo has pushed a few boundaries, perhaps a bit too far, especially in the Adventure Paths. This hasn't created problems for me, but that is only because my gaming group is all older (30+) and it was easy to drop the parts that were too awkward.
Specifically, I'm thinking of Rise of the Runelords:
The female NPC that tries to seduce a PC. I had to drop this entirely as it was just too awkward to roleplay. Not from a maturity perspective, but from a that's not our game perspective.
Ogre-kin behavior. This shocked everyone and creeped them out a bit (as intended), but it was fine. Not sure what I would have done if I had a young teen or tween at the table.
I'm all for having sex being present in the setting. But I'd rather see it be presented as optional rather than "required". If the town has a prostitute - fine by me. Somebody has to hire the prostitute for the story to progress - sorry, no. And I don't want to ever be put in a situation where I have to explain to someone what a <insert adult topic> is.
I'm with Dracovar on this one - have your character be the NE gangster that he really is. If Mr. 16th level "corpse" shows up again, just have your character say "Don't make me Limp Lash you again, Bit#&!"
...and then pull out a new character sheet.
I've GM'ed this adventure path through all six books. I consider Book 1 to be on the short list of best adventures ever (in any edition of the game). That being said, it is not without it's problems. One of those problems is that many of the encounters are weak and don't provide much of a tactical challenge for solid, well-build parties. However, it also has a few encounters that are very tough, as written. It also has some skill checks that are IMO way too difficult for low level characters (notably in the Climb and Swim department). Then there is the equipment issue, which throws a monkey-wrench into the mix. Tweaking the encounters (combat or skill-based) is not uncommon - I made numerous adjustments.
The difficulty is that unlike other APs, Book 1 of Serpent's Skull requires selective tweaking rather than the typical "AP = weak, so bump everything". I can't tell if your GM is being selective or not, but it really doesn't matter since he is obviously making adjustments on the fly. I'm not sure I agree with your GM's "specials" or the adjustments he made to the encounter - they seem heavy handed to me.
Personally, I'd roll with it. If at some point you stop having fun, speak up and say "this is no longer fun for me" and give details. Until then, keep enjoying the roller coaster and hope it doesn't derail.
I'm wrapping up an E6 Mythic Legacy of Fire game (one session left). Players are topping out at level 6 + 20 bonus feats (APL 10-ish) with 5 mythic tiers (final APL 15-ish). The PCs became mythic in Book 1 and have gained roughly one tier per 2 effective levels. I deliberately excluded tier 6+ because of the crazy abilities it allows. In hind-sight, less is more when it comes to mythic. I could have gotten a similar game experience with only 3 tiers rather than 5.
For encounters, setting CR = APL + Tier is a good start. At higher levels, you may need to bump CR even more. Mythic is like an exponential multiplier. I can see how the higher the level, the more of a multiplier mythic becomes.
I made very few changes, but only because many of the tiers came before the PCs were getting E6 bonus feats. The PCs were very limited on Mythic feat choices since they needed to have the base feat as a prerequisite. As a result, I didn't have to face some of the shenanigans others have reported with things like Mythic Improved Critical, etc. However, I changed Mythic Power Attack to eliminate the additional multiplying on a crit, and it was a great change.
We are all having tons of fun, but the game has gotten a bit silly. I think the longest encounter in the entire campaign has gone 5 rounds. Most last 2 or less. In many, some PCs/creatures never get a turn. It isn't that the encounters are easy, they just don't last long and are very much on a razor's edge. And if the PCs "hold back" to conserve their mythic power for later encounters, the fights get really tough. There have been no deaths, but plenty of unconscious PCs, which made for some tense moments. It either goes really, really well for the PCs (ROFL-stomp) or really, really bad (near-TPK). There is nothing in between unless the PCs hold their mythic power.
When it comes to monsters, non-mythic monsters of an appropriate CR work fine as do those with a Mythic template added. True Mythic monsters will be noticed by the players, use them sparingly for good effect. Until your group sees it and gets used to it, be careful using monsters with Dual Initiative - they often get to go twice in a row unless a PC delays to prevent it. That being said, Dual Initiative is a great way to make a monster special and challenging.
Just to give you an idea of what you'll see out of a PC, here is the party fighter in action (fighter 6 + 20 feats/champion 5):
Against mooks or in conservation mode, the sequence is move, Cleave, 1 Mythic to Cleave again. And with Mythic Cleave, enemies can be anywhere within reach.
Murdock Mudeater wrote:
I'm not sure it is just your DM's style of gaming. Sounds like many other people in the group prefer the same style - one that is pretty common. It seems to be the "post-High School, I have a job, life, and my time is precious"(TM) style of gaming.
As for the examples you listed, the game system itself is responsible for about half of them - Handle Animal, Companion Initiative, Appraise, Spell Components. As others have pointed out, except for corner cases, they are pretty much automatic/trivial by RAW. You can spend time on them, but why?
Adding random encounters and changing published adventures are not trivial tasks for a DM. Even with some of the software available (which isn't cheap), building/modifying and balancing encounters correctly takes time and thought. Often what you get isn't worth the effort: DM spends an hour preparing so group can spend 30 mins squashing some monster that doesn't advance the story, can end up being a distraction, or even derail the story.
The blank rooms and the attitude towards role play are pushing it, IMO. I think they are just the "time is precious" thing taken a bit too far for my tastes. But I can see where the DM is coming from. Items in rooms often just make the "PCs in a tiny box" syndrome worse and serve as obstacles to the PCs "doing their thing" (aka fun-stuff). Excessive role play can often lead to story side-tracks or be huge wastes of time. Many people don't want to spend an hour of game time arguing with the shopkeeper over the price of rations.
The bottom line is that your group seems to be going for the cheap action-movie style of gaming (nothing wrong with that) - just enough plot to get them to the next fight which is all about action and the action-heroes (the PCs). My advice for adjusting is get on board and embrace the action. If you current character is an esoteric/intrigue/non-action type, ask if you can roll up a new character. Make it an action character and stay focused on the main story. Don't sweat the small stuff or get distracted by the minutia. Be all about your character doing "it's thing" (whatever that is, as long as its action-based).
I think you get to move. The Full-Round Action wording assumes the general: you get one move, one standard, and one swift action. Mythic Haste is more specific and grants an additional move action that you can use as you see fit. Specific > general. That's how I read it.
I'm currently running a Mythic E6 Legacy of Fire game, converted to Pathfinder rules. We are about halfway through "book 5" (I swapped books 5 and 6) and the campaign has gone very well. The story almost demands using mythic.
It was obviously a total rewrite from the ground up. Having converted other APs to E6 (Runelords and Serpent's Skull), adding mythic actually reduced the amount of conversion required. The addition of mythic offset the level disparity caused by using E6. The PCs are currently 6th level (+8 feats) & 4 mythic tiers (APL 12-ish). By game's end, the PCs will be 6th level (+20 feats) with 5 mythic tiers (APL 15-ish). I've found in practice that 1 tier = +1 APL/CR.
For most encounters, I used non-mythic monsters. I tried adding a mythic template to monsters in a few encounters - it worked but the monsters didn't seem that different from the "standard" (PCs didn't notice). I saved true mythic monsters for select villains and it really made an impact (PCs had to change undies).
I don't think every AP is suited for a mythic conversion. Mythic makes the PCs almost comically powerful and so much becomes utterly trivial. Mythic also speeds up the game: shorter fights = more progress each session. We've taken to cutting sessions short to not burn through too much material in one sitting.
To the OP - it can be done, but it requires modifications and not every story is suitable.
To be more serious, you have to adjust encounter CRs for your party makeup, build, and tactics. A 25 point buy usually warrants +1 CR to all encounters. If the party is built to synergize, that can add another +1 or more. I'd up the CR's by 1 and force attrition - if the party tries to rest too often, send in random monsters to disrupt it.
However, if your party is built for offense (they should be, it is the best defense), there isn't much you can do about how long combats last. If you bump monster hp, it will make the combats longer, but not make them more challenging - it might get boring. If you up the monster power level, the combats get more challenging, but you get closer to rocket tag - one side is going to stomp the other very quickly.
Your primary consideration should be: is everyone having fun? And: what will cause everyone to have fun?
I don't mind the effect that Haste has on characters/creatures - buffs are awesome. What I do mind is the overall effect it has on the game itself. A party designed to use Haste on a regular basis will pretty much ROFLStomp encounter after encounter. Of course, the monsters can do the same - Just add a kobold with a scroll of haste to every encounter. And there's the rub... The one time the party decides not to use Haste, they get ROFLStomped by the encounter. Welcome to rocket tags and regular TPKs.
From there, the entire game degenerates into Haste or die. It makes telling any kind of story nearly impossible - all the protagonists are dead. So, yea, it sucks.
I usually nerf it by limiting the number of creatures affected (1 creature per 3 caster levels) and that seems to negate the game-killing effect of it. Still useful, but not a "must have".
Technically, you can't target a square with a throw splash weapon. You can target a creature in a specific square or a grid intersection, but not the square itself.
"Drop" a thrown splash weapon in a square (action = Drop An Item) = free action, should be no breakage (see Eridan's post on fall damage). This action could not be interpreted as a Ranged Attack since the target is not valid.
Naturally, your GM can rule it anyway he or she wants.
Typically, E6 provides advancement after reaching 6th level in the form of bonus feats gained at regular experience intervals. The "original" E6 idea (from 3.5), provided for 20 bonus feats with the inclusion of many custom E6-specific feats that enabled higher level class abilities (and other things) as capstones. Before you plan out your character, you may want to get with your GM and find out the specifics.
It makes a huge difference if your character will get 7 feats (human fighter 6) or 27 feats (human fighter E6).
Given the constraints, there isn't a whole lot you can do. Even replacing your dice with a rolling program will take away the suspense of rolling in front of everyone.
Talk to your players. Does it bother them, or just you? If they are getting bored (I wouldn't blame them), considering upping the CRs. You'll be running a slightly higher risk of an accidental TPK, but if you and your players are OK with that, it will solve your problem. At least until your luck turns...
I'm interested in making a Drow Noble Paladin
Fluff-wise, that might be tough. Unlike Driz'zt, the Matron Mothers and other Drow might notice the Lawful Good prayers, etc. and "take steps" (aka kill the abomination or make it a Drider as punishment). But, that's your GM's problem.
but how powerful are they? Do they make other races pale in comparison?
"Very and Yes", when compared to other PC races.- or -
"Not At All" and "No", when compared to a Pit Fiend, Balor, or Mythic Ancient Red Dragon.[/snark]
Because in our homebrew game the only Paizo races that are worth playing are Strix and Human. How does the drow noble fit in?
Without knowing why the other PC races aren't worth playing in your homebrew game, we can only speculate. However, if your group feels that the only thing that can compete with a bonus feat is a fly speed (an argument could be made either way), then Drow Noble is plenty viable. What they get is worth way more than a lousy bonus feat or fly speed.
The Laughing Man wrote:
Here's my stab at it. Keep in mind that there isn't an official Mind Flayer monster for Pathfinder, so abilities like Mind Blast don't exist in the Race Builder.
Aberration (3 RP)
I think that captures the essence and keeps it somewhat within reason. I agree with Blakmane, races with powerful unique abilities don't translate well to PC races. The 3.5 Mind Blast ability is crazy powerful, so I had to hit it hard with the nerf bat (maybe not hard enough?). Also, I'm coming at it from a "no 3rd PP or 3.5 material" perspective.
On Topic - I agree with the others who said capture the flavor using the Race Builder and avoid LA or racial HD.
I think what you are seeing goes beyond the dad essentially playing your turn - which is not right and you should say something. It's your character and you should decide the actions. I would have said something in the moment.
Two competing issues in most RPGs are roleplaying and good combat tactics. If you adhere strictly to roleplaying, the GM has to either put the game in "Easy Mode" or you're going to see lots of TPKs. I suppose if the group "trains" regularly (military-style), strict roleplay can provide solid tactical results. However, that's not much fun. Who wants to spend hours practicing mock combat situations for a RPG?
On the other hand, developing good tactics in the moment can really grind the game to a halt and break immersion. While talking tactics allows for challenging encounters and can be tactically rewarding, the game takes a step toward video game and players tend to have a hard time staying in character.
Sounds like your group doesn't have a regular solution to mitigate the competing factors and in this particular instance, the dad overstepped to solve it. Next time, it may be someone else who tries to solve it or the group might end up with a not fun experience (too tactical, TPK, something else).
I've found the following strikes a pretty good balance: Have the players take a "time out" to talk tactics right before the first creature takes its turn. The players can take a few minutes (5 or less) to make a rough plan. After that, the game proceeds at "full speed" - thinking during your turn = getting delayed by the GM. Something like this (or some other solution) might help prevent the situation in the first place.
I'm not a fan of Favored Enemy. Either the player and/or GM have to metagame, or play a guessing game, or you end up with conflict at the table.
Personally, I like the way the Guide Archetype handles it - x/day you pick a specific enemy and you get the bonuses until that enemy is dead/unconscious/whatever. No metagaming, no guessing, no conflict.
I'm not sure about Wrath of the Righteous, but I'm running a mythic E6 Legacy of Fire game and it doesn't require too much alteration. In many cases the as written encounters are too weak for mythic E6 PCs. I've run other APs as E6 (Rune Lords and Serpent's Skull) but not with mythic and it largely resulted in rewriting every encounter past the first half of book 1. I use HeroLab, which makes it pretty easy.
For LoF, I've been counting 1 mythic tier as +1 CR and I'm finding the party effective APL is about the same as written in the AP (and the PCs still stomp the encounters). Sure, there are still tweaks for some spell effects and stuff like negative levels (I just substitute CON damage). I did notice a problem with mythic in general and Knowledge checks for creature lore - the CRs are so high due to mythic, the Knowledge checks turn up very little (a tier 5 PC is 5 points shy on the check because mythic raises the CR). An easy fix is to add mythic tier to the lore checks, and it is back on track.
I expect RotR won't line up very well CR-wise since it was written for mythic (higher CR encounters) and LoF is light on levels (ends at 15-ish). So, you're probably in the rewrite encounters camp. Even so, I say go for it.
I've found that 5 E6 feats is roughly a level (PCs are effectively APL 10 at endgame, so I'm going with 5 mythic tiers). It has been fun and successful so far. Also crazy powerful.
I have run into problems making non-mythic NPCs with races with no or few racial HD, late in the game. In book 6, where the PCs are APL 15, the non-mythic NPCs top out at CR 10 (lvl 6 + 20 E6 feats) plus racial HD. Luckily, most LoF NPCs at that point have lots of racial HD (genies).
Dark Sorcerer wrote:
Change the Paladin's code to reflect two of their god's domains....
I've used a variation of this with great success. Rather than the standard code (aka paragraph that dictates all RP behavior), the Paladin selects one domain of their god (that makes sense) to be their "cause". If you pick Good, you're all about the greater good - local laws be damned. If you pick Animal, you're all about saving fluffy bunnies - rob the local mayor's house? Sure, as long as the pets don't get hurt.
I've also tried modifying the alignment restriction to "any Good" in some games, which when combined with the above, made for some interesting and fairly easy to work with Paladins.
I agree 100% and don't allow Manyshot in my games. Without that extra arrow of damage, Clustered Shots doesn't seem so OP (neither do the archers, for that matter).
I haven't been playing mythic for that long, but thought I'd share.
Deaths Adorable Apprentice wrote:
How do you balance regular dungeon crawls to continue to challenge the party? Should I have more puzzles or more dangerous foes?
I bump CR appropriately (see below) and actually found that longer crawls (more encounters) really takes its toll on the characters. They can't nova unless they want a tough time later. As a result, they tend to ration the mythic power which keeps them in check.
Do you think the CR modification is correct? Paizo says one tier is equivalent to 1/2 CR.
Nope. Not even close. So far, I've found 1 tier = +1 CR.
And my most important question. Where there any path abilities, weapon enchants, or spells that you removed from the game for one reason or another?
So far, the only change has been to Mythic Power Attack - I got rid of the complicated extra multiplying. But the PCs are only tier 2.
Mythic certainly gives the game a different feel and everyone is liking it. However, it puts the game on more of a razor's edge. Optimized characters do that (my players are fair optimizers). High point buys will do that (I use 25). Mythic puts all that on steroids and turns it up to 11. Most encounters don't get past 2 or 3 rounds, if that. The PCs are pretty beat up after each fight or untouched depending on luck and initiative.
I've only included one mythic monster so far and it was only a regular monster with the Invincible Mythic template. The players really noticed the difference (some had to figuratively change their undies). For that fight, the PCs were level 4/tier 2. The monster was CR 7 and came at the end of a dungeon crawl on round three of a CR 6 encounter already in progress (well, by round 3 it was over, but they had no time to rest/heal).
It only lasted another 2 or 3 rounds, but felt like an epic encounter. Had it not been for a lucky PC critical (no Mythic Improved Critical yet), at least one of the PCs would have been unconscious or dead - the monster hit like a Mack truck mounted to the front of a freight train.
I've been playing Pathfinder E6 for quite a while. I modified Rise of the Runelords for E6 and completed the entire AP. Did the same with Serpent's Skull and we're currently starting book 6. Personally, I wouldn't want to go with E8 because I think it gets a little out of hand even stopping at 6th. The final encounter for RotRL was CR 14 and was an amazing battle with a party of 4 (all survived). But we were starting to see the negatives of high level play - longer turns, hints of rocket tag, lots of book keeping. Those 20 extra feats with plenty of capstone abilities really added up - my best estimate is roughly +1 APL per 5 additional feats.
A problem I've hit is the undead in the CR 6-9 range who start dishing out negative levels. I opted to change that to Con damage since the PCs can't fix negative levels. Otherwise, E6 has kept things fast paced and the balance seems pretty good.
I don't use exp, so can't help on that. However, you don't want the feats coming too fast because it is very disruptive. I had them come too fast in RotRL - the party got a feat every 2 or 3 encounters near the end which didn't work well.
Next up will be Mythic E6 Legacy of Fire, going to tier 5 or 6.
I've found that the best measure of CR is to use the chart in the appendix of each Bestiary - the one that has columns for Hit Points, Armor Class, High Attack, Low Attack, Average Damage (High and Low), Primary Ability DC, Secondary Ability DC, Good Save and Poor Save. Very few monsters fit every column for their CR, but there is a fairly obvious "best fit" row for just about any monster. You'll have to consider the monster's role when considering what's important. For example, a combat brute would best be measured by attack and damage, while an ability or spell-based monsters would best be measured by DCs.
You should probably check out the section in the Bestiary on Advancing Monsters, as it covers how templates, class levels and other things adjust a creature's CR.
For how class levels adjust CR, see 397 and 398 of the Core Rulebook.
Keep in mind that CR is not an exact science and is more of a general guideline.
My group is almost entirely paperless. Everyone has a laptop running Hero Lab in place of character/monster sheets. As GM, I also have an iPad mostly for visuals, but it doubles as a rulebook reference since it has all the pdfs on it. I suppose we aren't 100% paperless. I sometimes print out area maps (the pretty ones that come in Adventure Paths) and mount them on a foam core board. The community loot list is on paper. Some of us jot quick notes down on paper from time to time. But that's about it. We still use dice and minis on the battlemat.
While I agree that Hero Lab can be an investment, I can't see going back to making and adjusting characters, NPCs, and monsters by hand again.
I agree the trust issue or rather a "PC vs GM" mindset is the real problem here. I could never figure out where people get that "PC vs GM" idea. The rulebooks are filled with strict and rigid rules that restrict just about every aspect of the PCs while there is a chapter or two that amount to a vague guideline for the GM - "try to keep it under APL+4". "Fudging" dice rolls (aka cheating) is even discussed (but only for the GM, duh). And let's not forget that at any moment the GM could just say "All of your characters no longer exist. I win!" *sack dance*.
OP: You can try to point out the realities of the game to your player. It is cooperative not adversarial. I'm not sure how much good it will do, but you can try it.
Here's what I would want to see, as a GM: Give me the surprise, ugly, break-my-game run down on your character along with all the page numbers/references, etc. Something like "my level 2 barbarian averages 45 hp of damage per hit and misses only on nat 1's" or "My god wizard is going to use his knowledge skills to learn a monster's weak save and target it with a wicked high DC every encounter" or "my flying witch is going to put everything to sleep while flying".
I'm betting your GM's have been rejecting your characters not because of what the char can do, but because the GMs don't know what the char can do. If a GM knows what your character can do, they can work with/around it.
Gestalts are a great option, but they can become wildly unbalanced, if you aren't very careful - like a dex-based elf ranger/guide/alchemist/mindchemist with an elven curved blade. At first, it seemed well rounded (good combat, AOE, spell support). It ended up being ridiculously overpowered.
Another option that fits well with published adventures or adventure paths is having the player run a pair of characters and have a pair of DMPCs. Make each pair consist of a "primary" with a 25 point buy and a "sidekick" with a 20 point buy (or 20 and 15, if you like). Encourage the player to make characters that will be the primary focus (the "face", skill guy, god wizard, paladin, etc.) and then make the DMPCs the lumps that round out the group.
The advantage is that you end up with a true party of 4 (which is what published stuff tends to assume). But the player has only two characters to play and one is a sidekick (should be fairly easy). Likewise, the DMPCs should be tag-a-long characters who look to the group leader (player's primary) for direction and guidance. The trick with this method is to just make sure the DMPCs don't steal the PC's thunder and spotlight.
Mark Hoover wrote:
Rise of the Rune Lords. Not to spoil, at first I thought you were being sarcastic since you basically described the progression of that adventure path.
As for the recent modules, you can always turn ambiguous villains and dark horror into "blah, blah, blah, I split his skull open with my axe". And FYI, it is not childish, it is "Old School".
I can see how it makes sense to combine familiars and animal companions, because they are rather similar. However, you'll need to make some kind of adjustment (like Pathfinder does for Ranger) because Familiar < Animal Companion and without an adjustment, the classes will be unbalanced. A good place to start might be making the Familiar an Animal Companion with an Effective Level = Current Level-4 (like the Ranger) and see how that looks power-wise.
If you've ever played regular Pathfinder from levels 1 through 6, you've played E6. All the same things apply. There is no "works best" for E6 (or there shouldn't be).
However, E6 often includes a boat-load of custom and capstone feats, that vary from game to game, GM to GM. Without knowing what those feats look like in the game you are playing, it will be hard to answer your question specifically. For example, in my E6 game there is a feat that allows the druid to advance their animal companion as if the druid were 8th level. Without that feat, the druid is not as appealing.
I'd recommend you pretend you are playing regular Pathfinder and pick your character based on that. After all, the first 6 levels of E6 are just regular Pathfinder. Also, try talking to the GM (since E6 is pretty GM-specific).
I think you are bringing up two different issues. One is a "non-issue", the other is worth discussing (I'd recommend privately).
The "non-issue" is the GM customizing the monsters. That shouldn't make any difference. So what if your knowledge check reveals a Skeleton has DR 50/slashing? As long as your slashing weapon is effective, no worries. Or if the GM reads that as "DR 50 against slashing" and your club still works great, also no worries. And if the GM customizes the monsters to make the game a TPK-fest, or not fun for the players, that will resolve itself pretty quickly.
The second issue boils down to is your group playing Pathfinder or My-Own-Game-But-I'm-Calling-It-Pathfinder(TM)? House rules are often part of the game, but they have to be known by everyone and applied consistently. You should discuss this with the GM and be prepared for the possibility that your GM and group, like many people, want to play their own game with the Pathfinder name slapped on it. Also be prepared for them wanting to make up the rules as they go along and change them when it suits them - that is also common.
I've had similar problems (attendance, cheating, lack of responsibility) to varying degrees in different groups. This will sound harsh, but it worked for me: Find different players who share your style of gaming.
It looks to me like you aren't having fun because you are being turned into a baby sitter (been there myself). If you players are friends, great - hang out with them, just don't play Pathfinder together. Don't lower your gaming standards because you think you can't find other players. You deserve to game with people who have a similar level of dedication and responsibility that you have. Trying to change your players beyond what you've done already is just inflicting pain on yourself and them. It is pretty clear, many of them want to game one way (nothing wrong with that) and you want to game another way.
Have you tried playing PFS as a way to find players? Many of the issues you are raising are simply not tolerated in PFS play - the players you will find there are used to playing by the rules, being prepared, etc.
I've always taken the position that the PCs know more than the players in most cases. So I really play up the importance of monster lore knowledge checks. If you can even attempt the check, I give the monster's name and all type info associated with it (Zombie, undead). I let the players ask specifically about details in the type info rather than read it every time. I also have four levels of DCs ranging from CR+10 to CR+25, each giving more information, but a lot of it is fluff. At CR+15 and above, I allow one yes/no question about the monster's stats and abilities at each level (maximum 3 questions). Examples: Does it have DR? BAB more than 15? Touch AC less than 12? Resistant to fire?
To balance this out, PCs don't get to remember the results from the last check on the same type of monster and I don't allow metagaming. The result of each check is supposed to represent what the PC can remember at the time. If the PCs encounter some Skeletons and learn they have DR 5/bludgeoning and later encounter another group of Skeletons and don't learn about the DR, anyone suddenly choosing to use their spare bludgeoning weapon is going to have a lot of explaining to do.
It has worked well to keep the knowledge skills very relevant and strikes a good balance between the PCs know nothing relevant and the PCs know all.
As a GM who is currently preparing this book for my group, I have to echo what the others are saying.
Just because the areas are marked with the letter "D", doesn't make it a "starter zone", especially in a sandbox-style adventure like this one.
One of the dangers of a sandbox-style adventure is that the PCs can easily get in over their heads. PCs should be expecting this.
I can say that your GM does understand the adventure 100% and is playing out the encounter correctly given what has happened. I would second what Kelarith suggested and get more information about that ape, the area of the city, and so on. Clearly, there is something more going on than just a warrior ape.
As for advice on beating the encounter, all I can say is hang in there and do your best. You are facing a very, very hard encounter.
This looks like mistakes and the wrong expectations all the way around.
The GM should have known his PCs (priority number one). And should have been OK with the PCs' stomping his encounter - it happens and secretly, the GM should be on the players' side. Don't worry, an unexpected TPK will rear its ugly head sooner or later.
The players should be prepared for and accepting of GM errors in the moment. GMs play more unique characters in one game session than most players play in a year. On top of that, most are a one-shot deal, so GMs never get experienced with any of them. When it comes to playing monsters, GMs are basically "noobs". Expect plenty of mistakes.
As for retcons, doing one (uno, single, solo, lone) retcon every once in a while to save the gaming experience for everyone is OK (personally, I avoid them). Players should recognize that the retcon is so they aren't bored to tears due to GM error. GMs should recognize that frequent retcons foster player resentment because they feel (rightfully) targeted.
It sounded to me like both the GM and the player had a case of "GM vs PC" going to some degree. That's only going to make things worse.
This is a great tool and it has been really helpful for me! My group enjoys E6 and the published Adventure Paths which means lots of monster scaling (lowering CRs). Your tool does all the grunt work quite nicely. Sorry, I don't have examples to share because I don't usually complete every aspect of the monster - I have the program crunch the critical numbers and I move on.
Possible Bug: I did notice that adding Weapon Finesse as a feat does not change the attack values to use Dex instead of Str with natural weapons (I haven't built anything with manufactured weapons that had Weapon Finesse, so I'm not sure on that - that could get complicated given that only certain weapons apply).
Gold Plating: For my purposes, it would be awesome to be able to adjust HD rather than target CR. Even better if adjusting HD could be done "on the fly" so it doesn't wipe out everything else. When scaling monsters, having that kind of fine control is really nice, but not necessary.
Keep up the outstanding work!
I've had a few players who were notoriously slow - their turn would take several minutes if hounded and upwards of 30 minutes to an hour if left to their own devices (analysis paralysis, anyone?).
So, I adopted the 5 second/1 minute rule. Initiative is visible to everyone and I often have a player run it - they collect all the players' initiatives and setup the GameMastery Combat Pad so all I have to do is drop in the monsters. As a result, everyone knows the initiative in advance (I'm usually last to finish initiative with often 2+ groups of monsters).
When it is a player's turn, they have 5 seconds (I count in my head) to begin. If they sit and stare, so does their character and they get delayed one spot in the initiative (not a huge penalty). If someone is regularly very slow in finishing their turn (they figured out to start in 5 seconds and then sit and stare), I break out the 1-minute hourglass and flip it as soon as they start their turn. If they aren't wrapping things up by the time it runs out (making the last of the dice rolls, etc.), I back out what they've done (which isn't much - often just a move) and delay them.
I make the obvious exceptions for things like very high level play (where turns really do take several minutes to resolve) or something significant happening - a spellcaster drops a spell that entirely changes the battle or a bunch of monsters just went and changed everything. I also use my discretion as it is pretty easy to tell when someone has a lot to think about or when they are just stalling. Overall, it is extremely effective and the players know to be ready for their turn. Either way, the combat doesn't drag on.
I should also note that I allow and encourage a pre-battle "time-out" where the game is put on hold so the party can discuss tactics or whatever they need to figure out before combat begins. I also encourage combat "cheat sheets", especially for characters with lots of bonuses that aren't always on, like an Inquisitor.
I use them and hand them out as "rewards" for things like good role play and as story awards. The players tend to save them up until they really get into a jam or to prevent a death. The most common uses are on critical dice rolls like saves and to buy another action to take down particularly vicious monsters (kill it before it kills us). It is a really nice way to handle those "Oh crap" moments where luck went one way, the encounter was too hard, or the players were epicly stupid and still stay in game space.
However, I don't allow the spells, feats, and items associated with them as I want Hero Points to remain a benefit and not a dependable game mechanic. It wouldn't surprise me if many people using Hero Points feel the similarly which might explain the lack of response.
OP: I hear you, but this is how the world works. If you want to participate in organized play, you have to follow the rules, whatever those rules might be. However, you should recognize that PFS is one of the least expensive organized play events. Just compare to say any tabletop miniatures wargame, most of which don't allow proxies and you have to shell out for a $300+ army.
As for Linguistics, it might be just flavor to your particular character build, but to a character build that is going to cast lots of language-dependent enchantments, that +1 means another language which is the key to being effective against the maximum number of creatures. By the same token, for the character build I'm talking about, BAB is basically flavor.
My point being that in organized play where anyone can walk in off the street, the GMs can't afford to evaluate every character to determine if an exception is relevant to the build or not. There is also the problem of each GM making an individual call, which opens up the situation where something is valid at one table, but invalid at another. For organized play, that kind of thing can't be allowed to happen.
If you want to play PFS, you have to obey the PFS rules.
A high-magic, loot-heavy, E1 game with no spellcasters could be do-able. Instead of the characters progressing via feats or levels, they get more and more powerful magic items and/or gold. If Mythic progression was allowed it could get crazy. A level 1 Fighter with a bunch of major artifacts, max-out magic items (+10 etc.) and 10 Mythic Tiers might be kinda cool to play. Until something gets past his AC and does even minimal damage. Then, not so much.
As I understand it, the AP was written for 4 players with 15 points for ability scores using the purchase method. Assuming 6 players with 15 points, you really need to increase the CR of every encounter by 1. If you used 20 or 25 points for ability scores, that gives the players even more of an edge.
One easy way to make the encounters tougher without doing lots of work is to just give them maximum hit points. It won't help the single-monster encounters from getting slaughtered due to action economy. But it will help all the other encounters. I personally prefer adding and/or advancing monsters, but that can be a ton of work.
I agree with not using Mythic to "spice things up" unless your players are really saying "kill us all". A lot of the Mythic stuff will flatten a non-Mythic group.
I have to chime in with the pro-E6 crowd. I've GM'ed games of just about every level, many in the 8th-15th range. Personally, I like E6 the best mostly because it stays fast paced. High level play can get extremely boring when every player's turn takes over 15 minutes to resolve.
As already mentioned, everything remains relevant in E6 - every spell a caster has (besides 0-level) is no more than 2 levels below your best spells (aka still very relevant and very potent).
How the game will be for casters really depends on the E6 feats that are being used by the GM. I've included ones that increase caster level to 8th when casting spells as well as ones that allow additional spell slots and spells known. Add in the two additional Spell Focus feats and you've got 3rd level spells being cast at CL 8th with +4 on the DC. Doesn't sound like much until you realize the monsters are only CR 6 to 8.
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
You have to remember that many things in the game are abstractions. Knowledge (local) is a class skill for Bards, Gunslingers, Rogues, Summoners and Wizards. The last two kinda don't count as they have all knowledge skills as class skills. The first three are the types of characters that typically would get to know everyone in town either through direct contact or other subversive means - gossip, spying, etc. So, the party travels thousands of miles to a remote village and even if it doesn't come up in game time, it is assumed that the cleric prays, the fighter sharpens his sword, and the Knowledge (local) character gets the dirt on the locals.