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PhelanArcetus's page

RPG Superstar 2014 Star Voter. Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 335 posts (341 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 1 alias.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Sunder works fine, especially since a sundered weapon can be repaired with mending or make whole. Or, if the item isn't particular valuable or sentimental, just replaced.

But the question is why you're doing that. And especially the perception by the players. If the fighter feels like you're taking his specialized, expensive, important-to-his-effectiveness weapon away, he may be quite angry, especially if it feels either arbitrary or like a punishment.

One fighter I'm playing has this awesome, overpowered, far-too-good sword (it's about a +12 equivalent, and only +3 of that is actual enhancement). Early on, when it was just a +1 keen with potential to do something more awesome that wasn't yet specified, it was nearly destroyed by a bad fight with a Remorhaz. I was about ready to just walk away from the game. If something similar happened now, I probably would (I didn't design the item, and well over half of the character's offensive combat capability is tied up in that sword). An item that's important should never be destroyed or taken away unless it's part of the story.

If the players managed to get an item that's just too good, you could destroy it or take it away, or you could sit down with the players, discuss why the item is too good, and weaken the item, or have it have limited charges that run out, or have it stolen (with player, but not character, agreement), and not recoverable either ever, or until it's appropriate to the party again.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I suspect the cleric is just taking advantage of some situational bonus to hit demons to power attack vs. demons, and isn't power attacking otherwise. That would easily account for the additional +6.

I see this sort of query a lot, and I think a great deal of it has to do with managing expectations on both sides of the table. I'm paying a lot of attention to this, because I'm close to starting my own Wrath of the Righteous, and with two players who are going to, as a matter of course, because that's what they're used to, look to the full casters in the group to solve everything that isn't solved by direct violence, through the use of spells. And to expect to enter any significant fight with multiple minute/level and round/level spell buffs on.

I don't mind if they stomp most of the regular fights (though I will be applying the Advanced template and max'ing enemy HP as a matter of course, as well as periodically adding additional foes, mostly by combining encounters into waves). It's the boss fights I worry about, especially those where the party has a chance to buff up. Because I play like that sometimes too, and I know what happens.

Last week, in between books 2 & 3 of Kingmaker, the GM of that campaign put us against an encounter I think he manufactured himself. I think he expected it to be more dangerous, but because he allowed us to ambush the single enemy, it was a joke. The foe didn't even last a full round. Why? Because we were able to enter the fight knowing what we were up against, with appropriate defensive and offensive buff spells in place.

So the general tips I've picked up from the forums (some of this will be redundant):

  • Know your players, obviously. Know what they want, and can do, as both players and characters. That means both looking over character sheets periodically and talking to the players about their characters and playstyles. When looking at the character sheets, you're looking to understand any rules they're using, checking for math errors, and keeping an eye on character wealth (more to adjust loot and challenges than to take it away). Understand how the players want to handle combats; should every combat be a serious challenge? If so, you may even want to hand-wave the easier combats into narrative.
  • This also means coming to an understanding with the players as to what to emphasize. Some players want nothing but combat after combat, interspersed with treasure and leveling up. Some players want a lot of time spent roleplaying. Find something that both you and the players can be happy with. Then tailor the campaign to that much combat, that much roleplaying. Discuss what levels of metagaming are suitable, and remember that many enemies are as intelligent as PCs.
  • The easiest ways to boost encounters are the Advanced template and max HP for NPCs.
  • Play the enemies, especially the boss-grade enemies, actively and dynamically. Creatures in nearby rooms will respond to the sounds of combat, not just wait around for the PCs to enter their room. Spellcasters will cast their buffs, even ones not listed in their tactics block. A spellcasting boss may show up to assist against the party for a round or two before retreating to the next strongpoint. Feel free to adjust some of the spells known or prepared.
  • Addition to above, but merits its own bullet point: if the party retreats, the enemy will find reinforcements if at all possible. They'll set up more defensible positions, difficult terrain, traps, and the like.
  • If the party is standing outside a room they're sure contains a boss fight, and buffing, then the boss is either in there, also buffing and summoning, or the boss isn't even there. If the party relies on being able to pre-buff for every combat they expect will be major, then fake them out occasionally, or have the enemy get away. Also don't forget that many spellcasting enemies can dispel, and that the enemies who paused outside your door for a solid minute of chanting are coming in stuffed to the gills with dispellable magical effects - trying to remove those is just good sense.
  • Unless you've agreed with the players to focus only on the major combats, make sure they have too much adventuring time to be able to do the 15-minute workday. Find ways to slow them down so the minute per level buffs don't last for the entire dungeon (anything to get them to pause, even just longer hallways and bigger rooms to make travel take longer).
  • More enemies generally trumps one big enemy. This is mostly because of action economy and vulnerability to debuffs, but also because when you have to power up just one foe enough to challenge an optimized party, you really get into rocket launcher tag. If you're only going to have one or two rounds to act, you've got to get all your impact and threat in those two standard actions. Which means those have to be particularly deadly. If, instead, you've got a few enemies, not all clustered where one spell can cripple them, you've got far more actions to take, and you can disperse a similar total amount of damage to the party. Basically this gives you a chance to challenge the party without playing into an AC/save bonus arms race, where the party starts pushing their defenses up to incredible heights because every failed save kills. It also makes action-denial less able to entirely shut down an encounter.
  • Space is your friend. If the party opens the door and the fighter is a 5-ft step away from the enemy wizard, then the enemy wizard is going to have a very bad time. If the fighter has to cross 20 or 30 feet of difficult terrain, maybe a trap, maybe just an improvised trap or hazard - spill that brazier of coals or something, just enough to make the party think twice before just charging.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
HolmesandWatson wrote:

@Pehlan: Have you played yet? What do you think? I've got the Skull and Shackles Beta but we haven't mananged to get together and play it yet.

Played a few rounds solo, running one character only.

I enjoyed it, but I discovered that as Seelah I can't roll at all - a paladin should not lose to the same skeleton three times. Whereas when I played as Valeros I ran into the villain quickly in each location *and* easily beat him each time. And it's not that Seelah is bad. I just rolled very badly when I used her.

MendedWall12 wrote:

Oh man! Holmes, you've sparked an idea that I've wanted to chat with knowledgeable people about for a while now.

The question is essentially one, but can, and probably should be looked at from two different perspectives. The question is: What is to be done when a participant in a running game isn't feeling emotionally enthusiastic about the game?

Being a human being I know that every other gamer out there will be able to empathize with that day that you really just "aren't feeling it," when it comes to playing an RPG.

The two different angles for this, though, depend on whether the person "not feeling it" is a player or the GM.

One could argue it's okay to continue playing with a player that is emotionally "under the weather." (Which is a ridiculous euphemism, by the way.) It's much harder to continue a game with a GM that is under that same proverbial weather though.

One of the reasons I ask is because I am the GM and I've almost cancelled a game session because of my own lack of enthusiasm, but I know that's not fair to the players. However, I wonder, is it fair to the players to play in a session where the GM isn't giving it his/her "all." Holmes post, makes this topic of conversation completely relevant.

Thanks Holmes!

I think the first question is whether we're talking about temporary or long-term lack of enthusiasm. If you're just burned out and need to take a bit of a break, that's an excellent, excellent time to let one of the players run a one-shot, or play board games, or just hang out. As long as you can give decent notice, that shouldn't really be an issue if it happens from time to time.

Now if you're talking about having entirely lost enthusiasm for the campaign, then that's something where you really need to sit down with the players and discuss it. Because you'd need to either recover that enthusiasm, or end the campaign. Trying to run a campaign you're not interested in will make you miserable, and it will likely makes the players miserable as well, and then nobody's having fun.

Even if it's a player who's not feeling it, that could be cause to cancel the gaming session, especially if that session would focus significantly on that character. One player, unless central to the plot, can skip out of a session without a major impact. The GM can't do that.

I would say that you need to look to what is best for yourself, and for the campaign. If that's to cancel a session or three, rather than killing the campaign through burnout, then cancel the session(s). And if what's best for you really is to kill the campaign, then you need to sit down with the players, explain that, and do what you can to get the campaign to a satisfying resolution.

Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Things to be cautious of:

When you're making a worn item unslotted, you're making it more powerful, because it no longer needs to compete with other items for that slot. That's no big deal if the item doesn't grant a benefit from being worn. In that case, it's not worn in a mechanical sense, you could say, more of carried (in a fashion that happens to be wearing it on your belt). But imagine, say, if we took the old periapt of wisdom, re-implemented as an unslotted item. Suddenly, it's a way to get your Wisdom bonus without having to conflict with all the other headband slots you might want. This makes it strictly more powerful.

Many unslotted items have no slot because they need to be held or manipulated to work, so they're carried and then used in your hands, no big deal.

Powerful is nice, but your have to jack the price up to compensate, and that can put the item out of reach of the characters who wish they had it.

As far as multiple effects with a single command word, what you're doing is offering a chance to break action economy. For an extreme example, imagine three items competing for the same slot; the first cool item allows you to cast haste on yourself as a standard action, the second cool item allows you to cast divine power on yourself as a standard action, and the really cool item allows you to cast both divine power and haste on yourself in one standard action. The really cool item will always be chosen, because it lets you do two things at once.

In general terms, this means that if you're providing multiple effects in a single action, you should jack up the price to compensate. The longer-term the effects are, the less this matters; there's little practical difference between activating endure elements and longstrider as two standard actions instead of one, because those are going to be activated when you get up in the morning and last all day. But a pair of 1 round / level effects? Activating both simultaneously is huge.

One possible guideline you could use for guesstimating the price differential is looking at the Alchemist discovery Combine Extracts; that lets you put two extracts into one flask, breaking action economy the same way, but requires an extract slot 2 levels higher than the most powerful of the two extracts.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

One thing I want to point out from experience as a Dex Magus, and this might not bother you at all:

A lot of the buffing spells you might consider are great for a Strength-based character, and lousy, even counter-productive for a Dex-based character.

Granted, you may just be preparing nothing but energy-substituted, intensified shocking grasp, but if you want to buff yourself, a lot of options go away because you don't want to sacrifice Dex. Given that your spell DCs won't be very good, you're probably not going to be casting spells that have saves, which leaves you with touch attack spells delivered via Spellstrike, self-buffs, and the occasional utility spell. I was actually finding myself hard-pressed to pick up further spells known that I would ever prepare.

I found it frustrating, but I was also playing the rogue and arcane caster roles, which did mean my character was spread far too thin. So I found myself with very few spells prepared and too many uses for them. If you're not trying to fill any roles other than "stab you with magic", it'll be easier.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Oh side note: the PACG arrived as a Christmas present, so I'll be cracking that open to play soon.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Merry Christmas to all.

As far as character building, I do often start at mechanical concept. But what I often do is get my baseline mechanical concept, then find a basic personality & background concept, and build inwards from the two of those.

We just did some (late) playtesting of the ACG. I played an Investigator in a PFS dungeon/puzzle module (more on that later), and a Bloodrager in an old 3.0 module converted on the fly (we'll finish that up in a week or so).

For the Investigator, I started by picking that because I was aware the module would involve puzzles. I thought that a skill-heavy character would be a good choice. Then I tried to figure out who this character was. I've often wanted to (successfully) play a James Bond type. I've got one now, a Rogue/Magus rebuilt now into a Dreamscarred Press Soulknife. He's doing ok, but he's got about 10 levels worth of being unlucky and sometimes comically inept (especially with people), which colors it. So I decided to emphasize the drinking aspect, rather than the suave aspect. As an Investigator, the character makes extracts, and could pass them out, so I simply decided to treat those like mixed drinks. I envisioned him as a broadly competent person with a dry wit, and a penchant for handing out specialized beverages.

In practice, I ended up being ineffectual and out of character most of the time. (Combats were trivial because the GM didn't adjust the old PFS module for our being more optimized than PFS assumed at the time, and honestly, probably moreso than PFS assumes now, which I know is more than in the past.) In combat, the Arcanist's boosted fireballs just ended everything. Out of combat, I had expected puzzles that would challenge the characters. Instead, I got puzzles that challenged the players. And those pull me right out of character and into analytical mode. Which, granted, my character supported, but it didn't matter.

Made worse was the fact that these puzzles were really not something the characters could contribute to as opposed to the players. We determined (incorrectly, I'd say, even though I proposed it) that the portable alchemy lab I carried had scales that would permit weighing items (I think the scales would be too small to be useful in this case)... after completing that puzzle through trial & error, and a resist energy to eliminate the risk of damage. Other than that, character contribution to puzzles was a set of appraise rolls by the Arcanist. (I have no idea how that puzzle was supposed to be solved without someone good at Appraise.) Coupled with a few misleading clues and the way the puzzle punished you based on how far wrong you were from the correct answer, we started transitioning to an algorithmic approach - "well, if the intensity of the punishment is tied to how wrong we are, we can just make single adjustments and see if it's better or worse each time" - two computer programmers faced with no definitive answer (we got distracted from the correct solution by too many proposals at once and the punishment mechanic) go straight to how you'd make a computer solve it. And no time pressure meant we could suffer the punishment and heal until we ran out of resources, then rest & repeat.

The second one, I picked a Bloodrager because the class interests me. We were originally going to play a demon-heavy PFS scenario, so I decided to pick the Celestial bloodline. Then I thought about why. And that's where I decided I was playing a half-orc, raised by orcs, with the mentality of a paladin informed by divine revelation. So I started with mechanics (which makes some sense in a one-shot playtest of the classes), and then worked to explain why my character had those mechanics.

Other times I've had a story concept in mind, and then searched out mechanics that suited. My current wizard, all I knew going in was "spellcaster and lots of lightning". Then I surveyed options and ended up with wizard, and played up the mad scientist angle (if I'd liked a sorcerer bloodline more I would have played up "I am the storm").

What I find important in the optimization vs. character concept & development question is this: how are the challenges of the game being built? I've played in games where I knew that making a suboptimal choice for flavor reasons would put me in trouble; as much as I wanted the character to make a given decision, it might well get him killed or make the party struggle much more. (This happens when the challenges are built against an assumed level of party optimization, rather than the actual level.) But I've also played characters who have made sub-optimal choices because that's what they would do, and metagame, I felt comfortable doing it.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I find Blood Sanctuary very weird; bonuses against your own spells? Definitely. Bonuses against your allies' spells? Just seems weird to me.

I'm going to second the casting issues. It may be because I come from a high power level background, but I just feel like the Bloodrager is not going to be able to effectively cast any spell that has a save DC. Charisma is a secondary stat at best, and coupled with slow spell progression, it just seems futile. By the time the Bloodrager can cast the archetypical blaster spell, fireball, he's level 10, if I'm remembering my chart right (no access at work). And his Charisma is likely to be in the vein of 16, 18 at the very high end. That's a DC (sans spell focus, which I doubt he has the feats for) of 16-17. Looking at the monster creation guidelines table, a CR 10 foe has a poor save of +9, and a good of +13. A 35-40% chance of an enemy with a poor Reflex save failing against your best spell seems sad. Even a group of CR 7 foes have a 50% or so chance of success, with a poor Reflex save.

When compared to a same-level sorcerer's best spell, we're talking about a save DC that's 4-5 points lower. These comparatively weak save DCs turn those spells into traps, and lead the Bloodrager to being, as has been said, yet another melee character who buffs himself before (and sometimes during) combat.

The changes to Greater/Mighty Bloodrage do an excellent job reinforcing the self-buffing melee warrior, but we need something to prop up offensive casting so it's worth the standard action when we do it. In that vein, I'd like to replace Blood Sanctuary with an ability that boosts your save DCs while raging. Blood Focus, I suppose (the name's freed up from the Arcanist, I think), boosts your Bloodrager spell save DCs by 2 while raging? I'm not sure 2 is enough.

I know that in the time available there wasn't much opportunity to do anything with new spells for the Bloodrager spell list, but for the full book there is time.

Let me describe what I'd like to see in that spell list:

  • Self-buff spells
  • Blast spells (single & multi-target)
  • A little bit of basic utility; not enough to compete with the full caster, but to have some spells worth spending slots on outside of combat and combat prep. Things more like mount than comprehend languages.
  • Some early access to spells, to compensate for the slow progression itself.
  • Some non-standard action spells; these could be swift, or even move actions. (Or an ability on the Bloodrager to do some limited quickening of spells.) These would probably be unique spells written for the Bloodrager.
  • I'd love to see dispel magic back on the list, because of how useful it is, but I could also see that as an excellent bonus spell for the arcane bloodline.

I also think we should remove or tone down something from the barbarian feature set.

And finally, it seems there's a lot of review needed on the bloodlines, as a lot of the bloodlines just seem lackluster. Fey in particular seems weak, and for brute melee power, nothing seems to come close to Abyssal, giving you claws in the early game, and then size & strength bonuses later on. Arcane looks excellent as an anti-caster (especially if the 3rd-level spell changes from lightning bolt to dispel magic, and the True Arcane Bloodrage list changes so as not to mess with your core competencies (none of those spells allow you to still both cast and fight with a weapon).

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

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.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
PhelanArcetus wrote:

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.

CL -3 doesn't really bother Paladins and Rangers because (the vast majority of ) all their spells are buffing, healing, and utility. Unless something is seriously wrong I doubt you'll need that buff to last more than 1 minute.

The Bloodrager spell list on the other hand seems to be split between buffing and blasting, which the -to CL would hurt.

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.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

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.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

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.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

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."

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

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.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

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.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

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.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

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:
With one letter per creature (in this case, PCs are capital and enemies are lowercase, and the . is an empty square).
Between this poor mapping and a lot of slow turns, almost every time someone, anyone's turn came up, we had to repeat a summary of what everything looked like. Both because of zoning out, doing something else (in an online text game, it's not uncommon to at least have the TV on in the background), and the relative difficulty of keeping everything straight in our heads without an actual map.

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.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

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.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

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 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:
1. You really need two windows if you're going to have decent amounts of space to read the chat (this is doable easily enough, and hopefully they'll allow popping out the chat).
2. Dice rolling takes up a ton of chat space. I've found some workarounds but they're slightly less natural.
3. Lack of convenience commands; we're used to a !try command that works like so:
!try 12;arcana 10;religion
Dicebot rolls for PhelanArcetus 1d20+12 (1d20 = 7) + 12 = 19 (arcana)
Dicebot rolls for PhelanArcetus 1d20+10 (1d20 = 11) + 10 = 21 (religion)

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.

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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.

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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.

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HolmesandWatson wrote:
PhelanArcetus wrote:
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.)

From a Gygaxian perspective (I should coin that term), I guess the way you'd evaluate new options and rules are by their purpose: are they truly to enhance the game or just to make power gaming easier for players:

Too often, new material purporting to add to a game system is nothing more than a veiled attempt to dominate the game milieu through power, not skill. Such creativity, if it can be called that, amounts to a perversion of the game.

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.)

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PhelanArcetus wrote:

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.

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.

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HolmesandWatson wrote:

Yeah, the Card Game is a hybrid. It does a great job of combining the element of building an ongoing character with building a deck of cards. You've got that ongoing feeling of leveling up your character and improving his/her equipment. Using character decks as the mechanism.

I'm not aware of any prior deck building games resembling an RPG as much as PFACG does. But it's missing some elements of table-top RPGs, which I'm going to comment on.

It is my favorite "board" game and I think well worth the price (I'm a subscriber, but I bought the Base set first from Amazon with Discover card points to save some $$$).

BTW, welcome back to the thread. I shuddered when I re-read your post about your martial arts instructor. Yeesh!

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.

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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).

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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:

  • The Bloodrager can cast spells, Bloodrager or otherwise, when not bloodraging.
  • When bloodraging, the Bloodrager can cast Bloodrager spells, but no other types of spells.
  • Bloodline powers function only during bloodrage.
  • Bonus feats and spells are available in and out of bloodrage.
  • Most likely, caster level is class level - 3, starting at 4th level.

But an editing pass or two should address that, and this is just the playtest.

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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.

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Sevus wrote:
PhelanArcetus wrote:

...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...

(Bold emphasis mine)

From the description of the Polymorph Subschool on d20pfsrd:

While in such a form, you cannot cast any spells that require material components (unless you have the Eschew Materials or Natural Spell feat), and can only cast spells with somatic or verbal components if the form you choose has the capability to make such movements or speak, such as a dragon.

(Bold emphasis mine again)

Yes, beast shape IV and transformation will take away your spellcasting, but form of the dragon I does not.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Nezzmith wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
In fact, except for alignment, an evil campaign usually ends up being exactly the same kind of campaign as a good campaign

This is the gist of it.

A properly played Evil party is exactly like a good party. They fight monsters, solve problems, and generally forward a tangible goal.

The problem I usually see, is that Players think that PC villains cannot get along, or must find ways to betray one another. If all evil was so self-defeating, why would there be a need for Heroes and the forces of Good to get involved at all?

Every Adventure Path contains some form of wicked organization/faith/philosophy working together to be antagonists to the assumed Good PCs, and they never buckle or implode before the adventure is over, ceasing their threat to the world in favor of petty politicking or hollow bravado.

Any Player who wants to be Evil just to get his official jerk license and frustrate the other players at the table isn't someone who is mature enough for such a game. All in all, its about knowing your players.

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.

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Skip the lesser bracers of archery and get Bracers of Falcon's Aim. They're quite excellent. And cheap. As time goes on, look to pick up Clustered Shots; this helps a lot against damage reduction.

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Erik Ingersen wrote:

I have 3 players and compensate for that by giving them mythic tiers. The moment of ascention was the mantle of the black rider, and they've just defeated Radosek using their newfound power.

I think I might add another tier in Whitethrone when they defeat the captain of the watch. I'm thinking of giving him a mythic template to make it more epic. From there I'll have to see. I think I'll keep the mythic progression apart from the main plot - they'll gain their levels for advancing the plot and their tiers for other heroic deeds.

I've added a fun detail, that I don't know how to use yet: each of the three will slowly look and feel like one of baba yagas three riders.
As a start I've given them vulnerability to cold iron. The oracle of metal has caught the idea and ruled that all metal in his posession becomes black. The ranger got the yeti cloak so his color scheme is beginning to becone white. When the paladin wants to buy a plate armour, the only one in stock will be red.
I look forward to seeing their faces when it dawns on them, but don't have any other plans for it yet.

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...

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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.

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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.

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Jr. Annalist wrote:

I'll be interested to hear what you decide. For me the biggest decider was that the 4th level spells seemed a step too far for the feel I was going for and the hit-points/damage dealing of E8 separated the Epic characters too much from the lowest levels. A lot of posters in other threads on E6/E8 have visions where the 8th-10th level powers seem needed to give the world the feeling they're aiming for though.

When I first thought about it, my reasoning was largely as follows:

  • A lot of PF classes have a nice feature at level 8, which makes for a nice built-in capstone, before I get into epic feats.
  • I was liking the idea of giving 3/4 BAB characters a second attack, which I think was largely biased by how much I like the Magus. It felt more important to me to differentiate the 3/4 BAB from the 1/2 BAB than to differentiate the full BAB from the 3/4 BAB.
  • I surveyed the 4th level spells fairly briefly, and didn't see anything that I anticipated causing major problems, especially given the rarity of people capable of casting those spells.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:
- I'm going to use fiat for both leveling & gaining tiers, rather than paying close attention to XP or trials.
- At root, all mythic power in this campaign will come from Baba Yaga; granted by her, inherited from her, and so on.
- A first-generation descendant of Baba Yaga is mythic. I think that second generation will have a touch of it; not a full tier, but Hard To Kill and perhaps a couple of surges. All descendants have the potential for mythic power, but it takes involvement in mythic events to awaken that.
- The first brush with mythic will be Teb Knotten & Izoze each having mythic rank, via a simple template.
- Ascension is the Black Rider imparting his mantle to the PCs; the PCs will gain some of the mythic power he was granted by the Baba Yaga in return for service.
- I may give Radosek a bit of mythic power to make him more of a challenge; more likely to just add a mythic guardian of some sort at the Pale Tower.
- Due to the E8 nature of the setting, the party will be at most level 3 upon completing The Snows of Summer.
- Nazhena will be mythic. As a descendant of Baba Yaga, she has the potential, and her involvement in the Winter Portals awakened that.
- The party will gain a second tier upon accessing the Dancing Hut and establishing their bona fides. Again due to E8, the party will be at most 5th level here.
- Jadrenka and a few key members of Vsevolod's forces will be mythic, empowered by Baba Yaga as a guardian or by her own mythic foes.
- Claiming the keys from Jadrenka and the Eon Pit will net the party a third tier, and 7th level.
- I will largely be skipping The Frozen Stars. I like the adventure, but it doesn't fit the themes of my setting well, and removing it simplifies my work. I expect to rewrite the mercane's part so as to provide a merchant to the party, but I haven't decided how yet.
- Since my world is Earth, Rasputin Must Die! involves time travel, which is part of why the second key is in the Eon Pit, rather than carried by Vsevolod. I may also make the Eon Pit a nexus of time, removing the aging effect.
- The party will gain one or two tiers of additional mythic power, as well as hitting 8th level and gaining some "epic" feats during Rasputin Must Die! Rasputin will be the most mythic foe they've faced so far; already mythic as the son of Baba Yaga, his work with the World Engine and the Thrice-Tenth Kingdom has boosted this power.
- Delving into the Baba Yaga's legends within the Hut during the Witch Queen's Revenge will result in further tier increase, but no higher than 8th tier, as well as a few more rounds of "epic" feats.
- Elvanna will be quite mythic as well.
- At the end of the campaign, whether the PCs retain their mythic power depends upon the Baba Yaga. If they oppose her, she'll strip it away as trivially as she ended Elvanna's ritual. If they agree to serve as her new riders, they'll definitely keep it (and more). She may even allow them to keep the power as a reward for their assistance. Even without mythic power, the party will be among the mightiest in the world (and I'll not strip away the stat bonuses, at least). As this is the end of the campaign, I'm not too worried about reactions to giving up the power.

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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.

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James Jacobs wrote:
Skeld wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
That said... it's not a reward for doing nothing. A DC 8 Climb check might soudn low... but at 1st level, it's not going to be an auto success. Hell, when you factor in no class ranks + armor check penalties, it's hardly an auto roll for higher level parties. I've seen plenty of paladins and fighters at 8th level or above have negative scores in their Climb skills.

In "There Is No Honor" (the opening chapter of the 3.5e Savage Tide AP from Dungeon mag for those not familiar), I had to throw a PC a bone when she failed on 3 consecutive rounds to climb the DC5 knotted rope from a rowboat onto a larger ship. Level 1, heavy armor, not terribly strong... it makes that DC5 a lot tougher than you'd think.


Indeed. I had a 5-foot high platform in a game I was running that pretty much shut down the group's paladin, who lacked both any ranks in Acrobatics and Climb and was wearing full plate armor. He was about 9th level at the time, but still had a penalty on both checks.

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.

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James Jacobs wrote:
PhelanArcetus wrote:

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?

Being there in person for a portfolio review is really key. I would suggest instead simply asking your friend to track down one of our art directors and tell them the situation, then give them a card or something that has a link to your fiance's online portfolio.

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?"

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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