Magical gatling guns are fun. The problem is that they encourage the alpha strike strategy, where you dump all your power on the enemy at once.
Of course, very rarely have I played in a game where I seriously, seriously had to conserve spell slots.
But it seems to me that in Gygax's world, the baseline was the Fighting Man. He could do pretty much what a reasonably well-trained human can; wear armor and swing a weapon around. The wizard could do so, so much more. But he was limited by severe restrictions on how many times in the course of a day he could do it. I remember my first character had one spell per day at 1st level. That was it.
I prefer a more powerful (and more magical) baseline, and the D&D community has moved that way over time.
The point system could have fit, simply by restricting the size of the spell energy pool severely. Essentially that's what the sorcerer does; in 2nd edition terms he might have had two spells per day, and known two spells, while the wizard had one, but knew six or more.
The classical Vancian spell system leads to two of my bigger gripes: the first is the way the game is "balanced" around having enough encounters per day that the spell casters need to conserve their spell slots. If you have one encounter per day, the fighter can feel like a chump (or a buffed-to-the-nines superhero). If you have 4-5, the fighter is great because he's going strong the whole way. The other gripe is that of the prepared spell caster trying to guess what spells he's going to want today.
I think CL -3, with +CL and/or +DC when raging sounds like a good idea. That compensates for a lower CL (without CL suddenly jumping from 0 to 4), also compensates for the lower spell DCs of a secondary/tertiary stat and lower spell levels, and encourages using your offensive spells during rage, rather than instead of raging.
If you're looking for something to insert in your game, a PFS scenario is generally pretty easy. I normally treat them as one-shots, but in a lot of ways they're easy to adapt.
I'm less familiar with the way they work in season 5, as the faction mission approach changed. Basically, an NPC or organization will give the party a mission to accomplish. So there's your hook right there. Before season 5, each scenario also comes with a faction mission (PFS characters each choose a faction at character creation) - basically you have the mission the organization wants, and a secondary task your personal patron wants. Often the faction missions are relatively clunky and also rather secondary, so you can get away with just dropping them when you adapt the scenario.
For the most part, everything relevant to the scenario, except general Golarion knowledge, is in the scenario itself, especially if you ignore the faction missions.
I think the custom spell list will do a lot of good, especially if some new swift action spells are thrown in.
I think Tireless Rage should stay, and I'm a huge sucker for Fast Movement, moreso than I truly should be. I'd be quite happy dropping Mighty Rage given that the bloodlines have their own capstone; no need for two different capstones. I definitely agree that the Bloodrager should lose a bit of the standard Barbarian list for more emphasis on the bloodlines. If Fast Movement is killed, it's a great thing to include in Fey, though.
CL = level - 3 is fine by me, it's not a tremendous hit (not like the CL = level / 2 that 3.5 had), and it makes sense in the same way it does for Paladin and Ranger - when you get the ability to cast spells, your caster level isn't suddenly 4, even though you can cast only one spell.
Throwing a save DC bonus onto Bloodrage would be a good way to boost the use of offensive spells, as well.
And individual success is great. In fact, I'd say there isn't truly group success unless all individuals are having success as well. It's when everything turns on one character moreso than the others, consistently, that problems occur.
When battles are designed for the one player who optimizes so much more than the rest, or when plots consistently center on one PC and the rest are left out, that's when you start getting alienation. If one character is carrying the entire party, the others are probably going to be jealous or irritated by it.
Of course, some players don't push to be on center stage, and if they really don't want center stage, it's probably best to let them stay in the background. But you need to be able to tell the difference between "I don't want the spotlight" and "I want the spotlight but am too shy to ask for it."
The GM in one of my games prefers to run without the prepared stat blocks, and while he doesn't screw up (or at least, he's making enough on-the-fly adjustments that it's not noticeable), there is a notable delay as he opens & re-opens the book, or flips between pages.
The biggest hassle I've found in preparing stat blocks is successfully copy/pasting them from the module PDF to a text file, and getting a readable, cleanly-formatted result. I haven't tried in a while, though.
And on those stat blocks, add notes on anything that you're even worried you might need to look up. When I ran Broken Chains, this meant noting down on each inquisitor NPC what the domain power(s) did, and the exact effects of the judgments I expected to use. Likewise I wrote down a lot of the spells I felt I was most likely to cast and didn't already have memorized.
Avoid the need to refer to books as much as possible - it speeds up the game and keeps players engaged.
Monster printouts are pretty much a must-have. If you're using a computer or tablet, at least have every monster prepared in a tab or window or similar.
It makes a tremendous difference to not have to flip back and forth between books.
Do this for every creature you expect to need; if you've got an NPC who will summon monsters, make sure to have the monsters handy, and if there's Augment Summoning involved, make sure to have an augmented version.
This is good advice for PCs too; I still have a folder I made from a one-shot where my fiance was playing an augment summoning druid in 3.5 - we picked out every single creature she might summon, I copied them off the SRD, manually augmented them, and printed it all out. That was 3.5 but hey, we might need those again for a one-shot, no reason to ditch them.
Keep those printouts around, you may want them again. It helps to even print out the ones that are in-line in the adventure... I've often seen encounters which require flipping between two or three other pages of the adventure for stat blocks. Having those creatures printed out helps a lot.
Yeah, if we can get to a custom spell list for the Bloodrager, a few spells that happen to be swift actions (or even immediate), and are not given to the Sorcerer, Wizard, and Magus, would do a nice job allowing some combat blasts.
That's better, I think, than giving the Bloodrager a limited ability to quicken (or more generically metamagic) spells - it's less prone to unexpected synergies (a quickened bladed dash or force hook charge can be very potent on a Bloodrager, with that potential to move and get a full attack). But without a custom spell list, we don't really want to hand such spells to the existing arcane casters.
As much as possible, you want to keep combat moving. This helps reduce the zone-out.
The worst experiences I had were in my early days of online gaming (I was playing, not running). We didn't have any actual sort of virtual tabletop; the best we had was the GM typing up little ASCII art maps like so:
Basically, if you're waiting 5 minutes between actions, you're much less likely to zone out if you're waiting 30 minutes between actions.
I suspect that if the Paladin & Ranger were built now, they'd have cantrips. But 3.5 Paladin & Ranger didn't, so PF didn't, to avoid too many changes. Giving cantrips to the Bloodrager now would be a slap in the face to the Paladin & Ranger, so 4th-level casters just won't get cantrips/orisons, while 6th-level casters will.
I'd love for all the 4th-level casters to have 0-level spells. Even if there was complexity of treating them as SLAs until 4th level, or similar. It'd add a bit more of that magic feel to the class before 4th level (the Ranger, in particular, is almost totally non-magical until he suddenly casts spells).
As far as casting goes, I'd like to see something that makes use of blasting spells viable on the Bloodrager. It definitely does feel like a class that should be able to fireball more effectively than it does now (lower CL, lower DCs), and as a valid choice in situations other than "I can't reach this guy right now, so I'll blast him." I can live without it, especially if it's an archetype, say (I suspect not a lot of archetypes given the significance of the bloodline choice). I'm not sure what we'd give up in return, though.
An extra class skill or two with the bloodlines makes a lot of sense. It's not exactly a major power boost, but it adds more flavor to the bloodlines. There's little reason not to include that.
I've mostly played with Hotline Server (very obsolete) or IRC and a dice bot, with a friend's home-grown combat mapping system.
Most recently, I've started trying roll20.net. They seem pretty solid, especially on the mapping, though some definite work on setup is required per-session (you pretty much have to pre-upload your NPCs, including monsters).
My biggest issues there:
I probably got the exact formatting wrong from memory, but the gist is there; it does a bunch of d20 rolls, adding distinct modifiers, and with labels.
I've done some looking and the roll20 API can definitely address this, but it's not free, unlike the base service.
Historically, we haven't used a voice or video chat system, just text chat.
Think through protocols for talking in & out of character; this might be a different window for out-of-character talk, even.
As a GM, pre-type as much description as possible if you're using text instead of voice. It gets really frustrating as a player to sit and wait for 5 minutes as the GM slowly types out a room description - especially when you start asking questions about the first part of the description and they get lost because the GM is paying attention to typing.
If you're using video/voice, make sure everyone has a robust internet connection; last time we tried using voice we had to also use chat as a supplement because one player was losing connection every few minutes.
I'd be quite happy to see more spell slots on the Bloodrager. It's always a bit weird to me when a prepared caster and a spontaneous one have the same number of spell slots on the chart. (And as I mentioned before, it's a little weird that the Bloodrager starts ahead of Paladin/Ranger and ends up equal (barring the one presumed typo).
As a 4th-level caster, he's not going to have very powerful spells, relatively. His spell levels are at best half of a full caster, and that affects both the raw power of the spells and their DCs. So does having Cha as a secondary, at best, ability score. I'd rather see his ability to use magic directly to destroy be part of a bloodline. Still, a little more direct spellcasting power would be nice. Ditch a couple of Barbarian features (possibly even downgrade the Rage effect itself), for limited-use metamagic'ing (Quicken & Empower, especially). But I could do without this.
Magic is a big part of what the Bloodrager does. It's just that most of it isn't "casting magical spells", so much as "being magical". Bloodrage itself is magic that the Bloodrager does.
I would suggest Bloodrage itself should be (Ex), but the bloodline powers affecting it should be (Su). The general Barbarian effects remain (Ex), while the specific abilities from your heritage are (Su) makes sense (and keeps the class from being extra-hosed in an anti-magic field).
I'm good with keeping the Bloodlines as Bloodlines; it keeps that Sorcerer flavor, it keeps you from being a Draconic Bloodrager who also has Eldritch Heritage (Draconic). The Draconic + Dragon Disciple needs a clarification; I'd assume you must have Draconic Bloodrager Bloodline much as you must have Draconic Sorcerer Bloodline, and I'd play it that way in the absence of an official ruling; it's a pretty obvious extrapolation to me.
Now I just have to convince someone to run a one-shot I can playtest in. Or run one of my own and rebuild an NPC enemy or two. But finding time has not been easy so far.
I historically haven't used a screen, but if I did, I think hanging pictures of the NPCs over it would be quite helpful.
Since I'm not running PFS, at least not officially, I'm pretty comfortable winging things instead of checking for the proper ruling and effect. That reduces the need for a screen for reference, but if I was running an official PFS scenario I wouldn't be comfortable winging things as much.
When I play online, I like to add badges or similar to the miniatures; I don't have a good mechanism for doing that in a live game, but it really does help me keep track of which guy is wounded, which guy is dazed, and whatnot.
In PFS, I'd suggest that when writing down the character names, faction is something to include. Depending how much space you're interested in expending there, languages are also good to write down; then you don't have to say "Does anybody here speak Aklo?", but instead just tell teh relevant person what they understand. That helps a bit with retaining immersion.
So, so true. One of my GMs has added custom spells to the game. They're incredibly powerful, and in many cases versatile as well. That's great, but they're also functionally only available to one of the six PCs (I suppose a second, if he found scrolls and chose to scribe into his spellbook and then actually prepare them). They're high level, and maybe they're not overpowered, but the frequency with which they're used over existing spells implies they are. What do these spells do, at root? They make full casters more powerful (and not all full casters). One of those spells almost completely ended a large encounter.
Many custom items have been flavorful, but quite a few have also been "this is great for the NPC, but totally worthless to the party except as something to sell, because it's so specialized." Others are just categorically superior to anything else that would share the same item slot.
Instant Enemy is a good example. It's a definite power boost. And it's a patch on a poor mechanic (favored enemy). A Ranger fighting none of his favored enemies is weaker than a Fighter. A Ranger fighting his most-favored-enemy is stronger. But the player doesn't want to fight things that aren't his favored enemy. So he just casts instant enemy.
The thing I like in the ACG is the ability to play a character type from level 1, not from level 8. The Magus would be the pre-ACG example; from level 1, it feels like a Fighter/Wizard. It has capabilities of both, and the ability to combine them, from level 1. Traditionally I would need to spend a few levels each in Fighter and Wizard before finding a prestige class that fused both of them (casting in armor, primarily) and enough levels to use Quicken Spell to both cast and fight in the same round. As a Magus, I can do all that from level 1, and, as long as you think that the Fighter/Wizard is a character archetype your game should support, that's a good thing. (If you think that such a character archetype is something a character needs to build to over a long career, then it's not a good thing.)
Another point: planar travel is not through magic in any of these.
In the first, planar travel is like ending up in Faerie; at certain times, in certain places (where the boundaries are weaker, or the planes are closer), you can simply step over. It might require a simple ritual, in the vein of moving in a particular way, or focusing on a particular mindset, but no magical power. You'd need to be unthinkably powerful (i.e. no rules for it, and would probably bad for the world anyway) to simply rip a hole between the Prime and the Shadowlands. But instead you can go to a particular area, perhaps a grove of dead, blighted trees, and walk three times in a circle, counter-clockwise, at dusk, and in doing so, step through to the Shadowlands.
In the second, you enter a planar layer of your plane just by walking. Of course most of them are inhospitable in mundane ways; climbing Mount Olympus would be hard even if it wasn't a planar layer, and the guardians make it worse. A few specific places probably connect to the realm of the dead (i.e. a deep cave that leads to the underworld). The necessary transitive planes for spells like dimension door to work without rewriting exist (probably), and that's about it. The planar layers provide enough space for all the outsiders I want.
I forgot I wrote that post. I was gone partly because I normally just skim through the main forums page, so if this isn't in the 10 or so most recent Gamer Talk threads I may not see it.
Actually a quick side question on the Card Game - do the "expansions" have guidelines on how to set up your deck / character if you were to jump ahead to them? Just wondering if it's feasible to play a later adventure rather than having to start at the first adventure every time you play with new people.
When I played WoW, I actually enjoyed tanking. That was good, because it got me groups really easily, on one of my characters. But my others always had a ton of trouble. Every group needs damage dealers. But while, for 5-man dungeons, the rule was 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 dps... far more than 60% of the playerbase were dps. During the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, my paladin, primarily a two-handed smashy type, actually spent most of his time in groups as a healer. Because I could get a random group in 2 minutes as a healer, or wait 45 as a dps. And that 45 minute wait was longer than the dungeon would take. It was annoying; I was tailoring myself not to the needs of a specific group, but to the needs of the generic group. Of course I also often found myself stuck playing the healer when I ran with friends and used the paladin - often it was "heal, but we'll let you get dps gear... because otherwise we're just going to stand here for an hour and not end up doing anything." Of course that was because the role of healing wasn't sufficiently appealing to get 20% of the playerbase doing it. (So this was putting the group first, but consistently sublimating your own desires to the needs of the group, which becomes frustrating when that's how it always is.)
As far as the Advanced Class Guide, there's definitely even more options, and I am one of those people who has a lot more characters he wants to play than chances to play them. That said, a few of the classes really do appeal, especially the ones that facilitate a niche that was hard to play initially. (One thing I hate is playing a character who doesn't fit his intended niche within the first couple of levels; for example, playing a fighter/wizard who doesn't fuse the two until level 10, and so on.)
On the game's spirit... I'm slowly, very, very slowly, building a game system. A mission statement sounds like an absolutely excellent idea for it. (One thing I do have is a partial example of play, intended to front-run the mechanics just to help me see what I need to address. It's looking a lot longer than a D&D example of play, already.) In fact, I'm sitting with the system now trying to find the balance point between realism and simplicity. Abstracting, going more gamist, but making gameplay flow more quickly and easily, versus a realistic simulation and a strong ability to extrapolate a situation not covered in the rules in a coherent fashion.
Obviously the rules need to successfully reflect the intended spirit, or else any mission statement is a lie to anyone picking up the game. But the first step to achieving rules that reflect the spirit successfully is knowing what the spirit is when you write the rules.
Especially in a one-shot, which any PFS game somewhat is (in the sense of characters you may not be familiar with), I like to jot down the player names, character names, classes, and a couple of stats (primarily Perception & Sense Motive, sometimes also AC & saves) on a sheet of paper, by the way the players are sitting. I tend to skip AC because it fluctuates with buff spells and so on.
I also do like to use index cards for initiative. Though I also tend to note down enemy HP & conditions on the cards, which can result in some awkward shuffling of the list. I think I'll transition away from doing that part, and log them on a sheet of paper.
Once I get a tablet I may transition a lot towards that. But so far, the cards really help me not skip people in initiative (something that happens a lot in most of the games I play in, because it's easier to forget where you were as you run down a list).
I don't find the Magus spell list to be overly focused on blasts and touch attacks. I definitely found that the last time I played a Magus, I was focused too much on the touch attacks, but I attribute that to building around Spellstrike, and having not enough Intelligence for spells with save DCs, or enough spell slots to keep any variety of spells other than offensive touch attacks in a default spell prep.
The list has a solid sampling of core Sor/Wiz buff and utility spells; I don't think it's any worse than just using levels 1-4 of Sor/Wiz.
I do, however, think the class calls for some spells to be pushed to lower levels to compensate for the late access to spell levels, the way Paladin and Ranger have in many cases. And to help push players away from spells that are essentially traps.
But I know the developers don't want to make custom spell lists for these classes, though I think the Bloodrager has a stronger claim on a need such a list than the 6th-level casters do (and it would take up less space, too!) So I'll try to refrain from calling for that list anymore.
I agree that the writeup could use some clarifying / reformatting. As I understand it:
But an editing pass or two should address that, and this is just the playtest.
I think the way I see the Arcanist, as currently would be:
The Arcanist is better than the Sorcerer because you have access to, effectively, any spell, given a chance to wait for tomorrow. The Arcanist is worse than the Sorcerer because today, you has fewer spell slots, fewer spells "known", and Blood Focus is weaker than the Bloodline (when arcana is accounted for). The Arcanist is also worse than the Sorcerer because the ability to change out your spells "known" tomorrow makes you likely to not work as hard to make sure your today spell selection covers all the bases you might ever need to cover. The Arcanist is also better than the Sorcerer because he can prepare some of your spells with metamagic, permitting you to cast metamagic'd spells without resorting to a full-round action, expensive rods, or Quicken Spell. The Arcanist is the same as the Sorcerer in that you still need items or highly versatile spells for any situation where you just don't have time to wait until tomorrow.
The Arcanist is better than the Wizard because you don't need to decide in the morning exactly how many times you're going to cast each spell, and with what metamagic (aside from using rods). The Arcanist is better than the Wizard because you get more flexibility in spell slots, as all those slots are unrestricted and spontaneous (you have the same number of spell slots as a specialist wizard). This makes the Arcanist less dependent upon correctly determining what spells are needed today. The Arcanist is worse than the Wizard because you cannot leave some slots empty in the morning, and fill them with exactly the spells appropriate to the situation later in the day.
All told, I like the casting mechanic in of itself, but I'm not sure I like that mechanic when it sits between fully-prepared and fully-spontaneous casters. It definitely works well in isolation, but with both normal casting mechanics already present I'm not sure it contributes a lot. It's got elements of the best and worst of both prepared and spontaneous at the same time.
I'd probably be more likely to play a Sorcerer because there's more flavor (at the moment), and because the inability to pick out new spells each day (coupled with the lack of need to hunt up new spells) would push me to pick my level-up spells very carefully.
With the upcoming change, the class sounds like it will have enough flavor, and a unique enough niche among full arcane casters to draw me in on the concept, whether or not I prefer the casting mechanic.
Fair point. It should be obvious to me given how many spellcasting dragons I've run into (i.e. almost ever dragon I've encountered is more a caster than a fighter). Of course, dragon form means essentially changing how you operate at level 16, unless you've been building some sort of natural attack character, which I'm not sure how you would do with an arcane Bloodrager, off the top of my head. Not impossible, just... not the bloodline you'd pick to do that. So this is a weird set of effects.
In general, I'd want either limited ability to break normal action economy to use spells along with physical combat, or a custom spell list that does something like the Paladin and Ranger lists do; i.e. guide the player away from spells that just don't suit. I think I'd prefer that. As a full-BAB character likely wielding a two-handed weapon, I expect I would use spells as buffs & utility, and keep one or two around for niche cases (can't reach any foe, vampiric touch emergency recovery), and any spells that are already swift actions.
As a 6th-level caster, I'd argue for an action-economy breaker like Spell Combat. As a 4th-level caster, I definitely prefer a trimmed and adjusted spell list. That would also be the way to get some spells that have been cantrips, such as detect magic, which is something I always feel odd not having as any sort of caster. Still, it's a bit late to add that to Paladin & Ranger. And I don't want this to become a 6th-level caster.
I can live with four levels of the Magus list, though I think some additional level compression would be good for the class. Getting greater bladed dash for example, would be very nice, as would getting a few spells a bit earlier.
I know SKR has pointed out solid reasons to avoid giving these classes their own spell lists. I think there's definitely value in doing so, because it lets you shift spell levels around to accommodate the 4 levels of spells, and also to help indicate what the class is expected to be casting.
As a 4-level caster, I don't see a great need for a way to break normal action economy to cast and fight at the same time... but I do think it would help if the class is going to have as much of an array of offensive spells as the Magus list has. (An alternate approach, with a custom spell list, would just to include some spells that are already swift actions, similar to the Litany line.) That is to say, with a spell list fairly packed with offensive spells, the writeup is saying to players "your Bloodrager shouldn't just be packing buffs and spells that play well with melee attackers like bladed dash and emergency recovery options like vampiric touch, but hey, everybody loves fireball". But with a list written for the class, you can affect that perception as appropriate.
It seems like it might be valuable to have some bloodlines modify the rage directly; not just Arcane's very nice selection of buffs, but things like changing the stat buffs. The Fey bloodline providing a Dexterity bonus was mentioned. Perhaps a bloodline or archetype providing a Charisma-boosting rage would favor a more caster-focused option.
Speaking of Arcane, I find the True Arcane Bloodrage selection of buff spells odd. Beast Shape IV and Form of the Dragon I are just fine polymorph spells, though definitely not what I would think of in the context of the rest of the bloodline, which, broadly speaking, is about enhancement, not transformation. It seems like a decent chunk of the benefits of Transformation are things the Bloodrager will already have by level 16. Plus it seems that all three choices in True Arcane Bloodrage take away spellcasting, though I presume you can choose to not apply any of the three if you want.
And looking at the spells per day, I'm not sure what to make of it. It seems to start off a bit better than the Paladin & Ranger, getting 1 spell instead of 0 at 4th, and so on, but then ending up at the same point as them, except for what I assume is a typo on the 4th level spells at level 20 (3 for Paladin & Ranger, 2 for the Bloodrager). I assume that, similar to how Magus, Bard, and Inquisitor all have equal spells per day, the Bloodrager is not supposed to have more spells per day due to being spontaneous as opposed to prepared, but that makes me wonder why they start off higher but end in the same place.
I definitely agree that the bloodrager should give up a bit more of barbarian, because it just looks too good right now, though not massively too good.
Giving up some barbarian, especially if in favor of some limited quickened spellcasting (or a Spell-Combat-like ability) would be good. Getting that limited quickening would require giving up more of barbarian. That's the classic gish issue which Magus addresses with Spell Combat and most others address with Quicken Spell - having to choose, round by round, between the martial and the magical sides of your character. I think any purpose-built gish should incorporate a way to address this, at least in a limited fashion.
EDIT: On second thought, I think that as a 4-level caster, maybe we don't need that, whereas it makes more sense on a 6-level caster. The theme is more of a guy drawing on his bloodline for power while fighting than truly slinging spells. In which case, a custom spell list becomes more valuable.
A custom spell list would be nice, though that does also increase the burden of support. (i.e. I'm remembering when Wizards continually put out new books, and always, always had new spells for Sor/Wiz, Cleric, and Druid, and rarely had new spells for many of the classes with custom spell lists, especially the ones outside of Core. Hexblades barely ever got spells, etc. If the Bloodrager has a custom spell list, then spells need to get added to it periodically, which can be a hassle.) Still, having a custom spell list allows addressing concerns about late access to spells, by making them a lower level for the Bloodrager than for the Magus.
I do actually like the idea of a Charisma bonus while raging, especially if we do not remove spells with save DCs from the list. As it stands, most Bloodragers won't be able to invest in a high enough Charisma to feel confident selecting spells like fireball as a spell known, because the effectiveness will be low. Late access coupled with a low spell level (possibly even lower than usual), and a save DC based on a secondary stat, and no real expectation of taking feats like Spell Focus, will relegate those spells to "why is this even on my list?" But if bloodrage boosts Charisma, that can bring the save DC up enough to feel worth the action.
I tend towards stripped down cosmologies. I've got three settings actively being developed (at different paces).
One of them has something similar to the 4th edition cosmology. In this setting, the prime material is coincident with three other planes, each of which is a distorted mirror of the prime. Similar terrain, but different in obvious ways. Basically, I defined three axes, and each mirror plane is shifted on two of them. Mathematically, it's like saying the prime is at (0, 0, 0), and the mirrors are at (1, -1, 0), (-1, 0, 1), and (0, 1, -1). And that's about it. The gods have their homes in the space outside these planes, but they're distant enough that for all practical purposes, that's outside the cosmology.
In another one, so far I've only got the prime and the realm of the dead, though both are seeded with planar layers. The gods each dwell on planar layers on the prime, generally on mountaintops, and the realm of the dead has planar layers for the different afterlives. As this one is intended to use Pathfinder rules, I'll need to incorporate at least some of the standard planes, or re-describe how some categories of magic work.
In the third, I don't have anything in mind yet, though I may end up with something very similar to the first, as they're intended to use the same mechanical system.
The adventure card game I think is a role-playing-themed board game, rather than an actual RPG.
I want to play it, I just don't know that I can justify picking it up given the sticker price and the continual releases that seem necessary to the game remaining fresh and maintaining replayability.
I think if the sticker price was lower I'd be much more inclined to go for it.
The MMORPG is, occasionally, an actual RPG.
I've seen people roleplay in them, I swear. And it wasn't just cybersex in Goldshire.
What I've really not seen any significant amount of was roleplaying in an MMO while in a dungeon.
Roleplaying in town? Sure. (Though there were some people actively looking down on that, too.) But roleplaying while out in the world, fighting monsters, even to the extent of using your character's voice in phrasing comments? Nope.
I tried. I had a night elf warrior in WoW, and I figured he was old enough, and old-fashioned enough, not to use contractions when speaking. And you know what I found? Given that it was harder to type, especially because I do use contractions myself, and that nobody recognized that there was any roleplaying going on, I gave up.
Especially with the people I'd probably never see again.
And it's harder to maintain a character when every day the character goes to the same places and kills the same monsters in the same way. And even worse when you do it again on a different character. And then, of course, your decisions don't matter.
If my character doesn't use axes, the statement I'm making might just be "I'm intentionally making my character weaker for a benefit nobody around me will recognize." And the focus on power and effective gameplay further reinforces that.
Basically, almost everything about an MMO makes it harder to roleplay as your character. People don't care, the world doesn't care, and it doesn't quite feel authentic either.
All of this.
I'm currently playing in an Evil campaign. We've got some personal conflicts, but nothing more than what I see in good parties as well.
Basically, we're evil. Our goals are often not nice. Mostly it comes out to the methods we're willing to use. My character did some fairly dark things (mostly pledging himself to evil powers) to protect his family. We're working with a vampire and a lich (though we may well turn on them due to not trusting those NPCs at all). I want to become king of my home nation and reform it. I intend to lie, cheat, steal, and murder my way there. I'll use similar techniques to break the power of factions that interfere with the king's power.
One party member is now a god (divine rank 0 in 3.5). We accomplished this by killing a god fragment and stealing the divine spark, not by anything benign. Yet that god fragment may have done worse harm to the world than we would.
While we sometimes end up fighting good-aligned foes, we often end up fighting creatures that are more of a menace to the world than we are. Because I don't want to rule a world that's been burned to cinders by a half-demon dragon. In a few cases we've even worked alongside celestials, because the more pragmatic ones are willing to work with the lesser evils (us) to get assistance against a greater evil that other typical champions of good discounted. Or because if they closed their eyes, we would take care of it, in a way that no good character could.
Basically, all your players need to be mature enough not to use "Evil" on their character sheet as a license to go off and stab each other's characters to death. Once you've got that, sit down with the party and figure out why they trust each other (in this case, all part of the same werewolf pack), and how their individual goals can not conflict (too strongly, at least), with each other.
Then also talk about everyone's comfort level with in-game evil. Both in terms of what's ok for the characters to do, and in what detail. Certain things may be triggers for players, and then there's a vast difference between "I torture him for information, here's an Intimidate roll", and playing out a torture scene in detail.
Erik Ingersen wrote:
This makes me want to ensure that I don't have more than three players when I run this. I don't know whether I would be able to do that without kicking players out, but I almost want to. Maybe I can find six and run it in two groups...
The wizard is also quite good at being the solutions guy, simply because he can have a truly massive collection of spellbooks (once your kingdom gets up & running, start looking for spellcasters to get spells out of their books, rather than buying scrolls to scribe into your spellbook - it saves a ton of money), which means that, especially once you have enough spell slots to leave a few open, you have a spell for everything.
Add in some scrolls or similar consumables that you've crafted, and not only is the character smart enough to provide a solution, but you've got the tool for that solution.
And in Kingmaker, I think the wizard, especially, is suited to kingdom improvement. I've been talking with my GM about devising loosely priced items for the kingdom to use; items not useful in adventuring but useful to the kingdom, so we price them in BP rather than in GP.
It doesn't make sense to notify the player that he failed; the character isn't aware of it.
I haven't read the drawback myself, and I don't have access to my books right now, but, from the name, it seems like the sort of thing that only really can come into play when the character knows about the failure. So I would say that it should not apply to rolls where failure isn't apparent. Now perhaps if you fail to spot a pit trap, then fall into it, then the penalty would apply to Perception... you figured out (the hard way) that you didn't detect the trap.
Alternately, the GM would quietly keep track of the penalty if it was triggered by a secret roll, raising the DC by 2 for your character, and only your character, for subsequent rolls. But this is complicated and doesn't make sense.
Jr. Annalist wrote:
When I first thought about it, my reasoning was largely as follows:
Now, however, I'm leaning more towards the 6th level cap; there's far more material available for me to steal, and I think I do prefer differentiating full BAB from 3/4 BAB. There definitely were not any 4th level spells I saw as must-haves.
In addition, I did a brief survey of the classes for suitable signature feats based on the premise of reaching 8th level normally, and for quite a few classes, I didn't see anything without going to relative game changers at 10th or 11th level.
If the next thing I do is a mythic & E6/E8 version of Reign of Winter, I will do E8 for that, because it reduces how much I need to adjust the modules. However, if I delay that, which is looking likely, then I suspect that when I do run it, it will be E6 instead.
I'm pretty much ignoring the explicit trials, and taking that more as a guideline on designing mythic portions of adventures.
In my context, the riders have multiple mythic tiers, but between the splitting of the mantle across the party and the PCs not having spent years inhabiting the mantle already, the PCs get one each when they get the mantle.
The reason my PCs will get a second tier upon claiming the Hut is that they're effectively bathing in a font of the Baba Yaga's power. Entering the Hut wouldn't get people a tier normally. But people who are mythic due to drawing on the same power the Hut draws upon, and have not reached their potential? That makes more sense.
Since I'm making Nazhena mythic as well, in a sense we could see the entire trip from the Winter Portal, to the Pale Tower, to Whitethrone, and finally the Hut, as a trial.
I'm probably going to use a large part of this for my efforts to write up an E8 ruleset for an upcoming campaign. I'm definitely keeping the notion of signature feats, though so far I haven't been able to find suitable options for all the classes. I also only did about a half-hour survey. And I'm considering switching down to E6. A big part of deciding that will be whether I feel it more important to give only full BAB the second attack, or to give 3/4 BAB characters an advantage over half BAB.
Rather than a list of appropriate monsters, it might be sensible to include a (partial) list of inappropriate monsters. Assume that anything of a CR up to 10th is suitable, though anything above 8 is very powerful... and then give some that are not suitable, and why, or how to modify them to be suitable. That allows a lot of flexibility.
For example, looking briefly at CR 10, the Monavic Deva looks pretty reasonable, but I would probably cut the plane shift to once or twice a day from at-will... or make it self-only at-will and with others once a day.
Many outsiders have at-will teleportation; generally this is self-only, but it still might not be suitable. If a creature can deliver a condition that can't be removed or healed without spells above 3rd level, such as ability drain, unless rituals exist as a way to recover.
I can't say that Iron Gods would fit into any setting that I run with, since I don't run core Golarion at all. But I don't care. I want to read this. Will I run it? Doubtful. Though it could maybe, maybe fit into a setting that's got about 2 paragraphs written about it so far.
Over the weekend I began writing up notes on how I'm going to handle the AP. I am not only inserting mythic, but also adapting to an E8 setting, so I've got a lot of work to do.
Paraphrasing from my notes, as they're at home and I can't get at them right now:
Looks like the idea was mentioned up-thread, but I'll say it anyway.
Most of my cultures are based on one or more real-world cultures. Those cultures have languages, so I just crib off of those. Mostly, I pick one of the languages and stick with it. If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll actually try to combine words from both languages.
James Jacobs wrote:
I have a current level 19 fighter type in 3.5 who can't even tread water in armor. Completely incapable of making a DC 10 Swim check. Fortunately he has a cloak of the mountebank, winged boots and also a necklace of adaptation around, so he has ways to escape. I think he has a penalty on every single skill that has an armor check penalty. So even "easy" checks can be difficult for characters not invested in them.
James Jacobs wrote:
Thank you so much.
That's about what we expected; in the end the question really boiled down to "do we send a few business cards, a couple of samples, or a full printed portfolio?"
Speaking of GenCon, this question is a bit out of left field.
My fiance is an artist, and she'd definitely be interested in doing work for Paizo. I know she can just email a link to her portfolio site to Sarah Robinson (and I'll make sure she does so again, now that the site has been revamped). We can't make it to GenCon ourselves, but we have a friend who is going (in part because he's moving to Indy for school).
Would there be any point in giving him some samples of her work to bring with him, or would that level of removal between the artist and the person carrying the art render it useless?
Thinking slightly outside the box here, probably the best way to approach web enhancements would actually be to flag the cut content as it's being cut, and develop it at the same time, in a distinct manuscript. It would definitely still take additional time over just cutting it, though I suspect less than cutting it and later revisiting.
I'm not saying you necessarily should do that, but I do have a bit of an issue with seeing a problem and trying to solve it. Good thing that's what my job is. Just an approach that might help if you do cut content you don't really want to cut.
I'm going to be checking out Gamemastering myself now that I know of it.
I would also suggest the Kobold's Guide to World Design; it's excellent for the setting design, both in general, and in the principles that apply to a setting for other GMs (and thus also for players). There's a lot of advice that can help you nail down the tone you want, and lay things out in the world in a sensible fashion.
Gamemastery Guide has a great set of 30 questions to answer in setting design as well.
I've got three different homebrew worlds in different stages of being ready.
Most recently what I've run are PF modules adapted to the second of those three settings, since that one's intended to use PF rules, while the others are not. That, so far, has just required being judicious in adventure selection, and filing off some serial numbers to replace with my own. Actually, I'm using those to crowdsource bits of information about the setting from my players.
First step: pay attention to the detect evil rules. While any winter wolf will have a faint aura, not every evil-aligned character will have an aura. In fact the bulk of Whitethrone's population probably won't.
Second step: Talk to the players, out of character. Make sure they understand that their mission is to recover the Dancing Hut, not to engage every evil creature they see; specifically, it's a mission that's important enough to walk by and ignore the evil-aligned guy walking down the street minding his own business. And that they understand that drawing attention to themselves is not particularly wise; in a city full of evil, ruled by evil, two paladins smiting everything they see will be overwhelmed. If their armor is marked with obvious indications of their faith, as it sounds like they're saying, a city like Whitethrone is going to recognize those symbols, and may even refuse them entry. The players should understand that they're going to get themselves and maybe the party captured or killed if they don't tone it down under the circumstances.
If they insist on causing trouble in the city, they're going to run afoul of the law. And they're going to have a very hard time finding a place to lay low. Honestly, if they can't take the hints in & out of character, then you're probably best off having anyone who sees who they are refuse to take them in, and getting them captured or killed, but making it possible for the rest of the party to get away.
Being a paladin is not a license to be stupid. Make sure they understand that their deities do not require them to smite every evil creature they encounter; a larger goal that requires survival should trump fighting everybody.
In terms of how a winter wolf would react to being called evil... well, they probably wouldn't flip out at a lie, but who's going to be staring at you, without talking to you, and then declare you're evil? Nobody remotely normal. It's one thing for someone to call you evil after watching you do mean things, but to watch you standing around, twiddling your thumbs, bored on guard duty, and call you evil? That's out of nowhere, which is either going to be confusing or a big red flag that this guy will cause trouble. After all, even if you assume people with the ability to detect alignment are common, people walking into Whitethrone and checking for evil cannot be common, or desired. They would probably be refused entry and cause an incident if they tried to fight through.
A response force in the Howlings would probably be largely winter wolves; they don't want the guard in their area. If they make it inside and cause trouble, figure on a pack of human soldiers, with a witch and a troll or so to provide extra muscle.
A lot of it depends on the encounters, really. Specifically, the number of encounters.
I'm playing in a 3.5 game where the casters solve pretty much everything. Why? Because we know that we'll face one (very hard) combat encounter per day, at most, and so they are able to invest a lot of spell slots in that fight. They can buff themselves, and the martials, have the necessary offensive spells, and still have enough resources to transport the party around and solve non-combat problems with magic. That's currently at 19th level, and the casters are regularly using two spells a round in combat, often plus some free actions granted by the spells they cast before combat began. Being able to go into almost every combat already buffed helps a lot as well; the casters rarely spend actions buffing during the fights.
There's a 6th level Pathfinder game I'm in where the casters can't do a whole lot other than combat with their spells, because we don't have enough resources available for that yet. Two decent fights will burn my wizard mostly dry, and I haven't yet built up a serious selection of utility spells.
In a 15th-level Pathfinder game, we regularly only have one encounter per day, but our arcane caster being a sorcerer means we do less problem-solving with his magic than if he were a wizard (at least a wizard played by that player). And more of the problems we face there can't just be solved with the application of magic.
Basically, the more the casters are able to use their highest level spells for whatever they want, rather than conserving them for a later encounter, and the less time they spend in combat casting support or buff spells, the more they're going to dominate.
From the GM's side, I'm a big fan of the Advanced simple template.
If the party finds things too easy, and doesn't want to switch to a 15-point buy, just apply Advanced to many of the enemies. Cheat a little by not adjusting their CR (and thus XP reward). It's quick, easy, and it doesn't change the shape of the encounter or add complexity.
Sounds like there's some tension between the Imperial House and the other noble houses.
Specifically in magic users; it seems to me that the lesser houses might effectively treat the Imperial service as a recruiting pool for their own magic users; offer better pay and/or conditions than the Imperial family does, and you'll pick up people who just finished their mandatory hitch, fully trained. Without having had to spend the money on training them yourselves.
That's going to cause some real tension, especially if there's existing political tension between the Imperial family and the noble houses. Maybe up to some mages loyal to the Imperials family being encouraged to take jobs with the noble houses and report back.
I like Blueluck's idea a lot, actually. Just divorcing magical equipment from the regular treasure helps a bunch, at least freeing up treasure for things other than more gear.
It also is solid at keeping the party at appropriate WBL for their magical gear. I do wonder, when the party defeated an enemy who had magical equipment, what happened to that?
I don't hate magic items, but I do dislike boring magic items that feel essential. I don't like having most of my wealth tied up in equipment that just provides plusses.
This is for two reasons:
Secondly, I dislike how much of my combat effectiveness comes from the magical equipment. If I'm a great warrior, I want to feel that I'm a great warrior, not that I'm an ok warrior made great by his excellent equipment. If I walked into an anti-magic field or took off my equipment, I'd be hard-pressed to handle opponents who ceased being threats normally 5 or more levels ago.
Finding the balance is non-trivial, of course. On the one hand, I'm a bigger fan of the stories where the heroes are awesome in of themselves, not because their sword is amazing, than of the ones where the heroes are great because of their special equipment. On the other hand, treasure makes the world go round, gives constant power boosts to make us feel like we're making progress even when we don't level, and all that jazz.
I've played characters with custom-created magic items. It actually can drive me nuts; sometimes the DM doesn't have a good feel for what I want, other times it over-emphasizes the equipment. My 19th level 3.5 fighter type is carrying a custom blade of supplication, which is a +3 keen defending wounding speed bane of infidels weapon. (Bane of Infidels is bane against... almost every intelligent opponent we face. It's ridiculously good, even if I never use the defending property and half the stuff we fight is immune to crits and Con damage. But compare:
If I lost that weapon I'd feel crippled. In fact, when a similar weapon wielded by the party rogue got sundered, it brought the game to a standstill and ended up with a retcon of most of the session.
I think a lot of people, in designing settings, have not considered the number of powerful magical items that exist, and the world the PCs will live in after a few levels, when they construct all the villages that want to burn the sorcerer. (I especially loved the Complete Arcane warlock, who often disguised himself as a sorcerer lest he be burned for being a warlock... how did these people tell them apart? Was it the sign he carried saying "I am a warlock, please burn me"?) I find the tons of key magical equipment less jarring if the setting presupposes magical items are all over from the beginning.
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
This is a good point. On the flip side, I find that in 3.5/PF, sometimes the sense that there's a rule for so much means that if you don't already know that rule, you feel obligated to seek out the proper rule, rather than ad-hoc'ing it. Meaning that I've found myself feeling paralyzed and seeking out the rule or rules that already exist to cover that situation. In a system more like 4e I feel more comfortable just making it up on the fly.
Another thing where I liked the goal but not so much the execution: Skill Challenges. The goal was complex skill checks involving multiple characters. The execution, unfortunately, included, basically, "everyone always roll your best skill and try to convince the DM it applies here", and "Oops, Intimidate is an auto-fail here but that wasn't indicated to the party, sucks to be you." That said, I recall a few articles by Mike Mearls on how to actually use skill challenges which were excellent examples of a viable subsystem, as opposed to the examples in the DMG, which I recall finding terrible.
4e is notably thin on explicit rules for anything outside of combat, which was intentional. I don't mind it. With guidelines on appropriate skill check DCs, I can ad-hoc a non-combat encounter pretty easily.
I'm never sure if I like the way skills work; the fact that everyone improves in all skills. On the one hand, it's a little weird that the wizard gets better at climbing walls. On the other hand, this leads to a much tighter distribution of skill modifiers, which means that you don't quickly reach a point where magical assistance is required to get past what should be a skill-based obstacle. (i.e. if you want to challenge the rogue's Stealth check, there's just no chance the fighter will succeed, and if the fighter has a reasonable chance of beating someone's perception in his heavy armor and without Dex, then the rogue is going to be able to dance on their head without being noticed.) When the only character who can make the Climb check is the fighter, after he removes his armor, you're just going to get up there with fly.
It's one of those bits where they went for gamism instead of simulationism and it makes the mechanics work better (the assumption is that level 15 characters are not dealing with the same category of climbing challenges that they were at level 3), but it does hurt the realism. I'm still trying hard to figure out where I fall on the gamist/simulationist spectrum; especially as I'm trying to build a system myself.
The attached concern is also cost.
Let's say I've got my wonderful +3 keen greatsword, at 32,350 gp. That's about 1/3 of WBL for level 12. Which means that if I want other types of weapons as well, I either have to sacrifice heavily on other things, or they're far weaker. Maybe my adamantine maul is only masterwork. Then I'm losing all my feats, all my weapon groups (if a Fighter), and a lot of magical bonuses as well.
I currently have two weapon users running; one has no backup weapons at all, and the other has a wide array... except that while his main weapon is suitable to a level 19 character, his backups are a +1 ghost touch, a masterwork adamantine, and a few mundane, non-masterwork weapons leftover from character creation. And that's the character with the most even semi-viable secondary weapons I've ever played or played alongside.