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Make sure to include a mundane tavern scene....one where there are circumstances that they MUST remain incognito for fear of the enemy or his agents knowing they're coming.
And in this scene, have some really annoying people start teasing and tormenting the group, yet the PCs dare not react, and these level 20 mythic PC's have to accept their torment and be labeled by the locals as wimps/cowards, whatever. They even have to sleep in the barn and eat porridge. THAT would be a challenge to set up.
Interesting side note: A wizard attempting to use another wizard's spell book needs to make a Spellcraft check every time. (Which is why wizards write spells into their own books).
I like the idea of a rogue being able to "figure out" some magic from a spellbook though. Bookish Rogue makes the spellcasting an SU ability.
Spellbooks tend to be expensive though, and there are some pretty nifty security spells wizards keep to track them down if a thief steals one.
Continual frustration and ragequitting are not things to enjoy with your friends.
Play a simple game like Crypt of the Everflame. It's a beginner module designed to get players working with clues and helping one another.
If they're not into it, then do other things. Gaming shouldn't be work. A lifetime of gaming has taught me that it's all about the company you keep, not the game you're playing.
If you and your players are experienced enough to handle high level play (there's a lot to track at that level), then I might suggest picking up one or both of Dragons Unleashed or Undead Unleashed. You'll find very affordable sourcebooks that contain multiple entries for high level dragons and their lairs, or high level undead. Each lair contains history and background that can be extrapolated into a several or many sessions-long game.
I'm really astonished by the number of people posting here who have been influenced by interpretations of blindsight like that featured in Daredevil.
Blindsight isn't "seeing a different way" or "heatvision" or "the world on fire" (although it can be if you want it to be), it's a "non-visual sense to operate effectively without sight". It makes the one with blindsense unaffected by blur or displacement, so I too would rule that feint is ineffective against blindsense.
I'm kinda iffy on the Judgement affecting a swarm, but a destruction-oriented smite sounds more like a reflex save than a will save anyway. I'd probably let it happen.
Some good posts here though about the real issue: getting along with people with whom you've developed an adversarial or at least an unfriendly relationship. It takes a dose of maturity to get past the rough edges we often show to one another, and it's usually time and perspective that get you to soften up and forgive one another. Communicating concerns and being assertive (rather than angry) is a good way to clear the air.
I am completely on board with winged creatures, and other creatures using natural flight to be able to increase their speed. What I would like to see from Paizo is a complete rules write-up of Movement (including mounted combat, btw) that would include "flying creatures using natural flying ability can increase their speed..." instead of us relying on "default" interpretations... Because I don't see it.
Constructive disagreement from me.
I disagree. The "other exemptions" argument is more like a case of sloppy editing left over from past editions. In fact, looking at D20, there is a description for flying creatures "a flying creature can fly down at twice its normal speed".
And "default assumption" is no reason to allow someone to double or triple their movement speed.
However, it makes sense to allow a winged creature to beat their wings faster and get more speed out of it. Using a winged mount with higher stamina would make sense for someone to want to gain a speed advantage if their mount can "sprint" for some distances. This is all great and wonderful stuff, so long as the players can accept my gargoyles and harpies can come at them really fast, while the flying wizard putts along at 60' and the cleric goes running past in the air at 120'.
Under the definition of the "Fly" spell, it reads "The subject of a fly spell can charge but not run."
And I see no other indication in the rules of Fly, Flying or Movement that a flying character can move any faster than their fly speed, with the exception of Air Walk, which reads "The subject can tread on air as if walking on solid ground."
Show me where you're getting this interpretation please, and I'll change my mind.
I have frequently had NPC villains refer to certain PC characters as "holy warriors", not knowing whether they were up against a paladin or a cleric, and "magicians", seeing they had a foe who wielded magic and wasn't coming at them with a sword.
Paladins, wizards, clerics, druids, monks,...these all have institutions behind them, which helps define them and their roles in the world. (Like a "maester" from GoT). Whether someone else recognizes the Seal of Purity a paladin is wearing, or the holy regalia of a traveling cleric is another matter.
Fighters and rogues...these could be anybody.
A good martial interested in keeping the enemy busy will have good mobility on the battlefield, as well as situational-awareness (Combat Reflexes and is reserving actions when prudent).
Thinking like a field commander, you'll want to protect your artillery and archers (your caster), so stay in a position relative to those whom you wish to protect.
As DM, I won't send an enemy after a PC caster unless I think the enemy has the intelligence to recognize the threat and has the opportunity to do so.
We used one of our DM's kids' toys (a plastic shark) to represent a summoned shark (of my wizard's) during a particular lake battle. It was the right size for the shark's description in the bestiary, but it was considerably larger than the space such a creature occupies on the battlemat. Still, it was very cool, and it got me to looking at the descriptions of size of many of our classic beasts.
Think about this for a second:
DM:"The creature is trying to grab you."
PC:"I will let it grab me."
DM:"It grabs you."
There is no conflict, so there is no contest. At best, I may allow an intelligent assailant to sense motive to figure out the PC is trying to maneuver in close using the assailant's action. But since the player isn't using his Maneuver Defense in Combat, there's no need for the creature to roll against his CMD.
This came up the other night in Curse of the Crimson Throne. Players were trying to get Cindermaw to swallow them, and Cindermaw WANTED to swallow them. Why roll? Does it build tension?
As for bullrushing an ally, I see no difficulty unless the ally is blinded for some reason and can't see who is tackling him. It makes perfect dramatic sense that an ally could knock someone out of the way of danger if they had an action ready.
A crocodile (CR2) has "death roll" which allows for underwater grappling, which could be epic and exciting. A bulette is pretty tough (and has burrowing), so I could see some fun scenes happening with grabbing and dragging PC's underground.
Still, you have to consider that the risk of being underground is greater than that of being underwater (as PC's can theoretically swim). I might use such a maneuver to hook the PC's into an underground adventure, but I'd make them fight the bulette first.
Also, I don't believe it's necessary to have a hard and fast ruling on every imaginable situation in the game. Where's the thrill in having everything figured-out? This is why we have dungeon masters.
The slippery slope is indeed, treacherous, but this worst-case-scenario you describe hasn't happened. What HAS happened is two PCs (one killed, one voluntarily changes out characters at level 9) have altered the APL from 10 to 9. So I've been putting together one-shot dungeons to give them and me some practice. When everyone is level 10 or 11, they'll pick up the main storyline in the Cinderlands again.
Our group's policy: Bringing in a new character (due to death or switcheroo or whatever) means that new character is 1 level lower than the lowest at the table. Everyone is 10th level? Your new character is bottom of 9th level.
It lends some consequences to death without being soul-crushing, and discourages the revolving door. It's also fair to the players who have kept their characters alive.
The Mounted Combat rules have long deserved a dedicated rewrite in Pathfinder, in my humble opinion.
"Stay in the Saddle" is the relevant check (DC 5, does not require an action). An imaginative DM might add +1 to the difficulty (house rule) for each 5pts. of damage the rider takes or for each 5pts. the CMD is exceeded by, considering that jousting competitors got unhorsed frequently.
Edit: Oops, I forgot Armor Check Penalties. Well, there ya go.
Fair game. As the GM, you'd want to think cinematically though. Throw CR's, feats and abilities out the window and turn the scene into a dramatic one, or one of relentless menace (like in Salem's Lot), and the characters need to figure out how to push back or forestall the menace while you provide lots of clues.
Example: The vampire is slowly descending the stairs, enjoying the fact he's intimidated the PC's and is showing his fangs, intending to corner each of them and drain them of their lives. Perhaps he's monologuing the whole time, revealing how he's manipulated the PC's up to this point. The players need to
Meanwhile, the GM's description includes "You've heard legends about these POWERFUL monsters and the INCREDIBLE powers they wield. Did you wish to attack him with your FEEBLE weapons, or did you want to rescue the girl and RUN?"
Can one use Spellcraft or Detect Magic to understand the workings of a magical device, like a trap or a teleporter?
Case-in-point: There is a certain AP which has a room with levers and "floating spheres of mist" which act as teleporters. One of the levers affects the destination of the teleporters, and each sphere teleports to a different location. This is not the first time we've seen teleporters in Paizo adventures. I was curious if an astute PC could use his skills to decipher and understand such magical devices and save the PCs a lot of trouble...?
My 2cp: I often have what I call "dramatic scenes" wherein amusing stuff occurs to set the scene, get a laugh, get everyone to loosen up, let the bad guy monologue.
So long as it doesn't put the PCs at a disadvantage, then no sense of agency is broken. No harm no foul.
I once had a villain noserafu make an escape despite the efforts of the party. I explained "He's protected by plot armor" and that got a belly laugh out of everyone. They understood.
Jacob Saltband wrote:
Good to see another player who doesn't regard "the fluff" as something that just goes by the wayside in favor of "the build".
I think the logical dysfunction here comes from the fact any spell appearing on some non-wizard's spell list is by definition, not a wizard spell.
When a cleric casts Plane-Shift, he's casting a divine version of plane-shift, and one given to him by his deity.
Now...getting snotty with "why can't you read?" replies overlooks the fact that what I just wrote it how the "yes" crowd is reading the rules. So there it is.
Jacob makes a fine argument, as PFS seems to be the watermark of the wider game.
I'm open to an FAQ ruling.
While it works in theory, such things rarely work in practice. Why? Outside influences. It's chaos math, basically. In the years it would take some sorcerer to work out his "technique" he would doubtless make quite a few enemies who didn't take well to his undermining of their local influence: gangsters, crooks, politicians, wizards, etc. In a world of magic, there are plenty of ways to detect its influence.
Google "Jesus sorcerer" for a bit of history on this.
From a GMs perspective, I'd let you get away with this for a while, but then I'd use it as an excuse to make you some fun enemies.
Inquisitors of Pharasma show up investigating the demise of three notorious and wanted vampires. Church is impressed with adventurers.
Opportunity is offered to "finish the job" by traveling to the astral plane to eliminate the villain holding those vampires souls (because magic). Adventurers bodies will be kept safe and negative levels removed in the meantime-- using artifact unique to that particular church.
For demoralizing, sure. Every urban setting (or rural town) may have a thug or two, or even a member of the upper-class who doesn't want to be bothered. A quick Intimidation check to "send a message" and I award the player with a "Shaken" Condition Card.
In-fact, lots of demoralizing going around in Crimson Throne. It's kind of like our modern world, in that a person's PRESENCE and AUTHORITY is projected more often than you think, even innocuous social settings.
Imagine PCs trying to get aboard a ship, and the harbor master putting up his hand and saying "This is my harbor, not yours. Do I need to call the city watch?" It's not a combat situation, but it's about someone swinging their weight around.
It sounds to me like they weren't having a good time, and decided to leave.
A lack of face-to-face social interaction is one of the reasons I have migrated away from online gaming in general. There is fun to be had, but some people don't seem to understand that sitting in your home instead of at a table with friends doesn't give you the excuse to not show up on time, or to goof off.
Game Master wrote:
Inherent evil really IS the crux of the matter and moreover it's an artifact left over from the very beginning of D&D. Orcs and goblins are inherently evil. How do we know? Detect Evil tells us so. Kill them!
Is it interesting? Enh. Your mileage may vary with your philosophy. But evil isn't necessarily just impinging on someone's freedom, comfort or security. In a more medieval sense, it's INVITING something else in. Drawing an unholy symbol is making evil that much more "real" in the world. Uttering "evil" words is inviting an evil spirit within you, so others should make the sign against the evil eye, etc.
Let's not forget the material component of Infernal Healing is demon's blood. How does the caster get this component? Why, through the evil act of summoning, bargaining for, purchasing or otherwise getting a substance that is inherently evil, even if just from someone else (who must be evil, or he wouldn't have it). When evil becomes tangible and quantifiable, it actually makes storytelling a bit easier (if a little less interesting).
I myself like to imagine that using Infernal Healing causes nasty, painful scars that flare up whenever the recipient says or does something good--reminding him or her that they accepted such magic and that dark agents have a little hook into their immortal soul...
REVEAL BACKSTORYSchool divination ; Level bard 0, sorcerer/wizard 0, cleric 0
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (remote control w/subtitles button or a word balloon from a comic book)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target one humanoid
Duration 1 min./level (D)
Save no; SR no
Upon casting, Reveal Backstory causes all actions to pause as though Time Stop were cast. The subject then begins explaining what brought them to the current combat scene, and may include anecdotes about their childhood abuses and their relationship with their current employer.
The divine casting of Reveal Backstory will have a booming voice manifest and explain the target's actions in third-person.
When complete, time speeds back up and actions continue normally.
With antagonist - yeah, good luck with that, they're usually dead before they can say "my name is Inigo Mon-URK ...".
This got a laugh out of me.
Yes, well, Crimson Throne is an urban adventure, and so I wanted to use the setting to exploit non-combat ways of building tension, like the generous use of Intimidate (like in gangster movies), and Diplomacy --especially the use of the Social Combat deck (although I've learned there are times when it just slows things down). I actually allow Diplomacy during combat on certain occasions (despite the 1 minute rule), as I think it allows a certain dialogue for exposition or negotiation-- like fencers having a repartee, or jedi sneering at one another.
I've gotten to sliding little bits of back story into character's appearances like "You notice she's wearing barbed armor of masterwork quality...a gift from her master upon reaching 7th level in her unholy studies of Zon-Kuthon" etc. The PC's have no way of knowing this, but it lends a nice context to things so long as I'm not giving away important information.
I'll sometimes hint around while they're doing Gather Information or Perception checks that there are deeper secrets to be found, and then encourage Knowledge checks. I think I'm doing all right with it, but there are sometimes GREAT AND AWESOME things Paizo's authors have written-in that I just don't have the opportunity to expose to the group.
Thanks for your answers, everyone!
How do other GM's reveal the interesting backstories of those NPC's well-written into the AP's?
Case-in-point: "Cinnabar" from Curse of the Crimson Throne: great backstory, but like so many other NPC's we conjure up, where and how do we tell their stories during the adventure?
I have some tools of my own, but I'd like to open things up and hear from others.
Sword of the Narwhal When used underwater, the wielder of this sword gains waterbreathing and move 60'. They can also make a charge attack by holding the pommel of the sword against their forehead. If they damage their opponent, they must make a DC10 Fortitude save or be knocked unconscious for 1d4 rounds because they were holding their weapon against their forehead, and because they're not really a narwhal.
Lightsaber of Disappointment This weapon seems to be the legendary weapon known to be the coolest of weapons found in Numeria: the energy-bladed lightsaber! However, this weapon will always be a disappointment to its wielder. For every question the player asks about it, you the GM should give a disappointing answer:
Back in the 80's, i read a module called "Queen of the Demonweb Pits" (by David Sutherland III and Gary Gygax), in which there was a description of another world:
I knew that that was incredibly cool, taking the player-characters from one fantasy world into another, and I knew that there was really no limit to how deep we could go if we wanted to.
And that's when I was hooked on rpg's. I learned how to DM, and the art of telling an interactive story, as well as how to organize and how to get everyone involved and keep everyone involved. I'm not perfect, but I've learned that if you love to do something, you get gradually better at it.
A few years ago, I discovered Pathfinder, which seemed like a good, modern interpretation of D&D, with no-holds-barred and even a flare for a bit of horror and sci-fi. My friends and I picked it up and have been having fun ever since.
Some good answers by Neirikr and Wyrd.
I invited my players to choose in what way Gaedren Lamm wronged them, giving them a history with the crime organizations of Korvosa.
I have a player who has a home and family.
I have a player who had a valuable heirloom book stolen from him by Gaedren, that was later purchased by Rolth. (sort of a macguffin to keep him searching for it).
I remind the players frequently that there are immediate resources available to them (like healing and restoration) that is not readily available outside the city.
And I also remind the players that just as there is no crying in baseball, there is no nihilism in fantasy roleplay. You have to care about something in order to get on in the world, even if it's your own selfish pride.
I put together a couple of props for my table: a bag of 1000 coins (pennies). It filled a plastic grocery bag to the size of a large grapefruit, and weighs several pounds. I showed it to the players and let them pass it around "This is what Field Marshall Kroft hands to you (albeit gold pieces)"...we were playing Curse of the Crimson Throne. My point was, that 1000gp is bigger and heavier than you probably imagine.
100gp? I put 100 quarters into a dice pouch. It's a bit heavy, and is about the size of a tangerine.
My advice: Use weight and encumbrance as a kind of logistical puzzle for the players to solve. Piles and piles of coins? Get a wheelbarrow or invest in a handy haversack. Gotta transport a lot of wealth? Buy gems. Found a whole warehouse of trade goods? Run back to town and get inventive with who you hire or sell the contents to.
The idea is that it should be fun to solve weird problems, and sometimes those solutions can lead to new relationships in-game, or opportunities for adventure or trouble. They should help make your game world more real to the players. Don't just hand wave things away unless they threaten to bog down the flow of gameplay.
I'll second the motion for Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth.
Good post above by Mark Hoover.
Running a sandbox is a good idea, but it requires two elements:
Negative levels are a consequence of failure. Consequences can be used in interesting and creative ways to encourage success.
Success is fun. Everyone enjoys hitting the high points in the game. Being at the bottom of the heap makes success all the more sweet.
Got a competent character who rolled badly and now has a negative level? Use it as an opportunity to roleplay seeking out information on that undead; learning some secret that will make it more vulnerable to the hero. Every epic tale has the hero facing some dark moment in their careers where they have to purge themselves and learn anew in order to defeat evil.
It is not common knowledge, but amongst wizards it is known that summoned monsters are typically from the Outer Plane of the Beastlands. These are of the essence of incarnated souls from the Prime Material, and make up a vast population of those souls whose intelligence was good or neutral, but spend eternity mastering their more bestial natures in a rubric only the gods can understand. The lower-levels of these beast-souls incarnate on the Prime Material again when summoned as a "test" which is part of their regimen. That dire badger you just summoned? He was an intelligent person just like you only a few hundred years ago on some far away world. When he is slain or dismissed, he returns to his clan in the Beastlands to meditate on his performance.
Of course, demons and angels come from their respective planes. It is all part of a vast cosmic relationship between the Prime and the Outer Planes.