The aasimar looks troubled. "You raise important points. Perhaps it is important that you speak to Dakang. But, first, follow me..."
He leads you to the chapel, where you earlier saw the dry fountain. Placing both hands on the sides of the basin, he says, "Dip your weapons in this. It will give them the blessing of Korada and make them hardier to withstand any opposition.
Knowledge Religion (Tamerius): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Knowledge Religion (Shan): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
Knowledge Religion (Hawk): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
I think I have some interesting characters. I'll walk through a few relevant ones:
Edwin LeBlanc, Baron of Taldor, Linnorm King of Jol: Edwin is a Taldan half-orc cleric of Shelyn. Abandoned on the doorstep of a Taldan monastery, he has struggled throughout his life to be accepted by the people of Oppara. Despite the fact that he can make beautiful art and is quite erudite, his half-orc heritage means that he is generally looked down upon by his fellow Taldans. He joined the Society both as a means to see the world's art and architecture and as a way to gain money to purchase influence, since he was unable to earn it.
Xangzhe: Xangzhe is a gnomish cleric of Sun Wukong. He's based loosely on Journey to the West, and I generally play him as a drunken lush who makes bad decisions. He tends to come out of his drunken stupor just long enough to have brief moments of inspiration or to turn the tide of a battle. A recent notable scene includes the following quote: "Stand back, I know Aquan. Blub blub, blub blub blub. Bluuuub." (He doesn't know Aquan).
Isaac Quinn: Isaac is a human gunslinger who runs a detective agency in Absalom. He's been through a lot in his quest for truth, but most of it changed when the Paracountess hired him to do some work for her in the Society. He's stuck around even when not working for the Paracountess, since the money's good and the jobs are usually interesting. He tends to run an internal monologue during adventures and gets very disappointed if people won't talk their way through things.
Teldarn: Teldarn is a gnomish oracle, eventually Mystery Cultist. He has a rather...spurious connection to reality, thanks to the psychocilibin mushrooms and continuous use of illusion spells. He tends to hang dreamcatchers off of everybody and everything.
VTT Game Day 2[Roll20 / G+Hangout] PFS 04-EX: Day of the Demon [3-7]: Saturday, December 14th, 2013 @ 6:00 PM EST US [-5 GMT]
And I have to say, as a player at your table, you did a FANTASTIC job. You really have a bright future ahead of you as a GM.
Also, Kyle, excellent scenario. I won't lie, I was nervous when I heard you were writing the new intro scenario, but I think that it strikes a perfect difficulty balance and punishes players for bad decisions (like fighting the minotaur early.)
Having glanced over the scenario a bit, I did have some questions.
First, would it be possible to get some details regarding the Gillmen's religion? As part of our mission is to find out more about them, I asked about the deity that he worshiped and was disappointed to find that there isn't much info in the scenario.
Second, in regards to Janira and the horses, would Janira recommend that a Cavalier, Samurai or Paladin on a horse leave it behind for fear of angering the Centaurs? Would they have a negative reaction to other mounts or just horses?
Also, in regards to the questions of what Janira should recommend that the PCs buy, I would recommend that she explain that some creatures are easier to damage with certain types of damage than others, and recommend trying multiple damage types until one hits if they're having trouble killing something.
VTT Game Day 2[Roll20 / G+Hangout] PFS 04-EX: Day of the Demon [3-7]: Saturday, December 14th, 2013 @ 6:00 PM EST US [-5 GMT]
The Aasimar says, "Can you please tell us your concern? Dakang usually does not allow visitors, but given how many times you've been here, we might make an exception...if the reasons are valid."
(When posting evidence, please make a diplomacy check to go with it. One diplomacy check per PC, I'll treat the lower rolls as aiding the highest one.)
Jiggy: I didn't say that the GM has no rules at all, but rather that the GM follows a different set of rules. Players and GMs have vastly different actions available to them, and vastly different levels of knowledge about the events going on. While yes, most of that discretion is taken away in PFS, the guide fairly explicitly allows fudging. If something is allowed, doing so is not cheating. It's not incomprehensible for two groups of people involved in a game to have two different sets of rules applicable to them.
I have to say, I have been very impressed with the replay option and reroll bonus. The replay option has allowed me to redo two scenarios that I felt I didn't properly experience. The reroll bonus has usually been used when one of my characters is getting ready to fail at something that they should be really good at, like figuring out whether or not their deity would want them to do X, or being able to impress a particular NPC. Accordingly, I'm of a mind that the current rewards are appropriate, although if Paizo wished to do more, I wouldn't be opposed.
If I were to ask for one thing, it would be for the replay option to refresh every year, since experience thus far has shown that it isn't breaking the campaign and GMs are getting a lot out of their stars for it.
Taken in isolation as a single hit, yes, fudging a die roll is mathematically the same as increasing the bonus to hit. Taken over the course of an entire combat, which may have the GM making 10-20 rolls, it is far from the same.
The key to fudging at low levels is consistency. Always ask whether something hits before announcing the damage. Always roll behind a screen at low levels. Always ask everyone affected by a spell for their saving throw before announcing the result. That maintains the illusion, especially when allowing deaths that are due to a PC's own stupidity.
Actual example: Level 3 PC gets dropped by a Shocking Grasp. PC is made conscious at 3 HP by a channel. PC walks up to enemy again. Funnily enough, the boss has another Shocking Grasp. I let that one go as the dice fell because the player made a poor decision.
Counter-example from actual experience: A well-built fighter who has an interesting background and engages in roleplay is slaughtering his way through wave 10 of random Level 1 Warriors armed with heavy picks. These warriors can't hit the fighter except on a 20. One of them rolls two 20s in a row. No matter how well-built you are as a level 2 character, you are unlikely to survive that. The player made no poor choices, it was merely astronomically bad luck. So, I rolled it the first time, asked if it confirmed, then asked if the confirmation roll (22) hit. I knew that it wouldn't. The player walks away wiping their brow, feeling as if it were a very close call. The GM doesn't have to remove a good character from play. Everybody wins.
Now that I have clarified how I do this, I'd like to ask everybody in this thread: Do you have any logical reason to expect that a GM needs to follow the same rules as a player? For the life of me, I am at a loss to figure out where this idea came from. GMs do LOTS of things that players aren't allowed to do. They know what's coming ahead on both sides and use it to their advantage. They make judgement calls about what effect something would have. They are the final arbiters of the rules as they apply to players. As a player, you don't have that power, responsibility or right. You are held to a different set of rules.
In conclusion, just because you may enjoy a very stark and grim campaign does not mean that everybody does. Your enjoyment does not trump my table's enjoyment. Likewise, I see no reason to change my GM style to fit your style.
Here are a few things I've been doing:
I tend to do scenario prep a bit weird. I read my scenario 3 times. The first time, I do a very brief read-through, looking for plot points and a general idea of what opponents the party will face. A couple of hours or days later, I'll do a more thorough read-through, getting the finer points about the story and looking up a few stat blocks. The final read-through, a few hours or days later, involves me thinking about how I could break the scenario as a player, reading up on the region in the ISWG and looking up any feats or spells that I am unfamiliar with.
At the table, I use a short GM screen for low-level scenarios and run without one for higher level scenarios. For me, the cutoff is level 5. If the party's APL is above 5, I run without a screen; if it is below 5, I run with one.
I also use the initiative tracker pad that Paizo sells. I used to use numbered initiative cards, where the first person in the initiative order would have a card marked 1, second would have a card marked 2, etc. It made for very, very fast combats, but didn't handle delayed actions well, and also broke immersion somewhat, since I was calling out numbers rather than PC names.
The key thing to remember about combat is that it needs to be peppy. Taking too long on the average round will make players zone out and make your scenario drag on. Sometimes, it's unavoidable, but keep it moving as best as you can.
Always ask players for character introductions. It helps the players get into character early, and it lets everybody know how to react to each other.
I sometimes enjoy letting the players find or interact with odd items that they might come across, then writing it on their chronicle sheets at the end. In several scenarios, there are merchants selling knockoff wares - I've sold a burnt scmiitar "used by Sarenrae in the war against Qadira!" 7 times now. Another great time involved a gnomish PC who was diving into a well to try to get something at the bottom. He kept failing his swim checks. Rather than just say he couldn't hold his breath, I first told him that he was distracted by a brick with a fascinating moss pattern on it. The second time down, he realized that the moss pattern almost looked like a map of Absalom. The third time down, he realized that it was loose and brought back up with him. Other great ideas include notes from faction heads, quotes from NPCs or great lines that were uttered at the table.
Finally, and this is the hardest thing for me to do, try to answer as many player ideas with "Yes, but..." as opposed to no. If there's something a player wants to do that you think is a bad idea, there is often a mechanical reason that it can't be done. If there's something game-breaking that a player wants to do, there is also often a mechanical reason. For instance, I play as a gnomish paladin with ultimate mercy who can raise dead for free. In a particular adventure, we came across the dead body of a key NPC. My paladin tried to raise him. The GM, somebody whom I greatly admire, ruled that the body had been dead too long for my effect to work. That made a lot of sense, and it kept my character from breaking things too badly. Everybody walked away happy.
Jeff Kosky wrote:
Well, to me it sounds like a great encounter for a well-rounded party. Unfortunately, if your party doesn't have K(Religion) like a lot of parties in PFS fail to have, you're going to have a bad time, especially if the town scene was omitted.
In my time on these boards, I've seen several complaints about Thornkeep, Godsmouth Heresy and Crypt of the Everflame being a bit unfair to parties of 1st-level characters, as those characters are supposed to level up halfway through those modules. The problem arises when the 1st-level party goes up against a boss designed for 2nd-level PCs. Given the huge power difference between 1st and 2nd level, this is a serious problem.
Therefore, I recommend that PFS allow for 1st level PCs to take the level advancement early in Tier 1-2 modules, to make playing those a more realistic choice for newer players. The time spent to level up shouldn't be a serious issue, given the ease of going from 1 to 2.
I have given this matter a great deal of thought lately, and I think that I have come to the following conclusion.
The use of spells with evil descriptors should be scrutinized by GMs, but should not, in and of themselves, warrant an alignment infraction.
If a PC is focused on raising an undead army to fight, but saves orphanages with them, the two balance out and the character is neutral. If a PC is using Infernal Healing but uses it to keep a good-aligned character alive, the two balance out.
By and large, though, it's not the alignment OR the spell that causes problems. The problems are caused by problem players who try to dance far too closely against the evil line. There are certain players who play their characters primarily to squick the good-aligned characters at the table, and those people should be disciplined not only under alignment rules, but also under the Don't Be a Jerk clause.
As for the issues that arise when a cleric of Pharasma sits down with a necromancer in the party, I'm reminded of a passage in the Journal of Eando Kline, which I will quote below.
"The Society places no moral obligations upon its members, so agents span all races, creeds, and motivations. At any given time, a Pathfinder lodge might house a fiend-summoning Chelaxian, an Andoran freedom fighter, an antiquities-obsessed necromancer, and a friendly halfling raconteur."
The Society itself is not a good-aligned organization, although Pathfinder Society Organized Play does not allow evil-aligned characters. This is less a reflection on the organization and more a reflection of the fact that, historically, the Society has had conflict between agents in the field. Because PVP is not a great deal of fun in an organized play campaign, PFS has chosen to focus on the good-aligned characters. Therefore, storyline-wise, PCs must swallow their pride and occasionally work with those whom they consider to be distasteful. Handled well, this can be a great opportunity for roleplay. Currently, my Taldan Cleric of Shelyn is having a grand time debating philosophy with a neutral-aligned Sczarni "priest" of Razmir. Alternatively, we could have been sparring the entire time. Either would have worked out well, because both me and the other player understand how to play our characters and how not to bring that beyond the gaming table.
I think that the best solution, therefore, is threefold:
1) Write more scenarios that stress what it means to be a Pathfinder. Perhaps even include some evil-aligned enemy Pathfinders in a scenario who are trying to beat the party to a particular find. As it stands, the Society is something of a one-dimensional organization as presented in most scenarios, some recent ones notwithstanding.
2) Add language to the Guide which indicates that it is important for all characters to have a working relationship, and indicate within the guide that if a PFS character cannot work with other PCs on a routine basis, they will be expelled from the Society.
3) Add language to the GM section of the Guide which reminds us all that RPG rules, especially those rules regarding alignment, are not, cannot and will never be absolute. Alignment must be a gray area if it is not to become simply another stat. Furthermore, no set of RPG rules will be able to conveniently accommodate every circumstance. Rather than distress about a lack of rules regarding something, we should embrace the opportunity that it gives GMs to be fluid in responding to PC's interactions with the game world.
4) Create more scenarios where the PC's actions have consequences. I think that the Wardstone Patrol is a great example of this. I have ran it for PCs who are routinely rude and obnoxious, and it was nice to see an NPC finally react to that. I don't think that the players of those PCs had ever had a negative reaction to their PCs like that.
Tamerius Nalmois wrote:
Ironically, I pulled it playing RPGs. Tripped over a friend's chair. :P
Sorry about the delay; I pulled a muscle in my back on Tuesday, and ended up spending practically the entire time from then until now in bed, recovering. Catching up now:
Shan goes full defensive.
Hawk draws a weapon and casts Bless.
Aikio draws a weapon.
The door opens!
This vaulted mausoleum holds six large sarcophagi, each
Inside are three skeletons, one armored. They look ready for a fight. Initiative time!
Benris: With the old modules, I assume the whole thing would be sanctioned. With the APs, my strategy would be to flip through and look for the big map. That's probably the part that should be sanctioned if it's going to be offered both in PFS mode and Campaign mode. It might be easier to just offer the old ones as Campaign mode, though.