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PhelanArcetus's page

RPG Superstar 2014 Star Voter. Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 350 posts (356 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 1 alias.


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Necromancying so that I can add an FAQ click mostly.

My gut feeling is that, somewhere in the design process, the feature changed between granting slots in which you could only prepare oath spells, and simply adding spells known. From one to the other, not sure which way.

And the change just didn't get fully propagated to the text, so it's somewhere in between.

(I'm also considering running an oathbound paladin shortly in a one-shot, so I'll be asking the GM there for his interpretation, but this seems to want a click.)

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HolmesandWatson wrote:

Gary Gygax’s 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery

Step Fifteen - Play In Tournaments

Note: Italics are quotes by Gygax, contained in the book, Role Playing Mastery.

Gaming clubs exist and game conventions are held in most areas of the United States and in many locations in other countries, especially Canada and Great Britain. To achieve mastery as a player, you must eventually (if not immediately) become involved in RPG tournaments that are staged by clubs and convention organizers. These are special play sessions in which various groups of players take part in the same game adventure at different times (similar to the way a duplicate bridge tournament is run).

By comparing your performance to that of other players whose PCs were faced with the same problems and challenges, you can get a sense of your strengths and weaknesses in a way that is not available to you as long as your experience remains restricted to one or a few local campaigns.

Seems like a natural progression from Step 14 (Play Outside Your Group's Campaign Frequently).

Tournaments often spawned new modules (Ghost Tower of Inverness comes to mind and I know there were at least a couple Judges Guild tournament modules).

Of course, in Gygax' time there was no D&D Encounters, Pathfinder Society or even online play. So, you were a lot less likely to find gaming opportunities outside of your immediate group and tournaments played a larger role in steps toward Mastery as he viewed it.

Many (if not all) of the points made in Step 14 would seem to apply here. I don't know: do you think playing at Gen Con, or Origins or Paizocon will make you a better player as Gygax saw it? Do you need to compare your play to other tournament RPGers to identify your strengths and weaknesses?

Surely it doesn't hurt, but does this step really remain relevant today?

It's a bit different, I guess.

In a classic tournament setup, many groups would play the same adventure, at the same time. The only one I ever played, we had pregenerated characters.

It sounds like he's describing the value of the tournament as a science experiment. Hold as much equal as you can, changing the players at the table. Compare results. Then you will see what other groups of players did better or worse than you, learning from the experience of all N tables instead of just your own.

In my (also limited) experience with organized play... there's so much variety between GMs and parties that it's less viable to learn this way. Earlier this year, partly because a friend was suggesting we should all get PFS characters so he could play with us when we happened to be at cons, partly for something to do other than sit at a dead art table with my fiance, I played 4 games worth of PFS.

I think I had the same GM twice, and one time I had a player overlap, using a different character. Several of the players clearly knew each other due to being local. I learned some interesting things about odd builds (one of which I would have liked to have seen), but at no point did I encounter someone playing something similar enough to my own character to learn something directly about that build, or even style of playing the character type.

Organized play fits more into the general "play outside of your normal group" than into tournament, I think. There is value; you can meet new people, you can see concepts you might never see otherwise, and you can learn from all that. But it's more of a different group than a tournament lesson / experiment.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Create a setup where outsiders, in general, require mortal intervention to act on the Material Plane. As a simple fact of planar mechanics, make it so that even if the outsider has gate as an at-will spell-like ability, it simply cannot gate to the Material Plane; a request must come from the Material Plane.

Let them send dreams and visions, but beyond that, they need to be summoned or called by mortals, beings already on the Material Plane. Now, for the most part, all you need are stories, and human nature.

Heaven won't help a deposed prince recover his throne unless he truly is just, good, right, unlawfully deposed, and the current ruler is a tyrant, and so on. More importantly, Heaven won't offer to do so. Heaven might provide aid if requested, but they'll require goodness out of the prince, and Heaven will say so up front, and honestly.

Hell, on the other hand, will whisper, maybe directly, maybe just through legends, about how it can restore the prince to his throne (regardless of whether he's good or evil at that point). And Hell won't tell him what the true cost is until he's already accepted the deal.

The assistance of Hell will be seen as a shortcut to power (probably with a very bad downside at the end, but people are notorious for believing that they can avoid the comeuppance that everyone before them got). The assistance of Heaven will be seen as expensive, difficult to get, and only even available if you meet their strict criteria of goodness.

This, then, works on all outsider groups, not just Heaven and Hell. The more the group wants to be on the Material Plane or directly influence it, the more they'll whisper to mortals.

An alternative is for Heaven to be a bunch of jerks whose attitude is "those stupid mortals summoned a demon? They (mortals in general, not just the specific group that summoned a demon) deserve whatever they get." I've met outsiders like that in games. They're really, really annoying, so unless you want PCs to hate Heaven, I don't recommend it.

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First piece of advice: Don't come up with a rule and blindly follow it.

Second piece of advice: Generally, bump enemy HP from average to maximum; this is a simple change that helps.

The other two big things are in fact the Advanced Simple template and increasing the number of enemies, as mentioned above. And, again, as mentioned, for solo fights, add some minions or lieutenants.

Be very cautious about the Advanced Simple template at low levels; basically at low level, there's less room for optimization to have made a big difference, so adding +2 to hit and +4 to AC on enemies makes a big difference. I almost killed my party's paladin very early because I underestimated how dangerous the template made some enemies.

As you get a feel for the party, you'll get a feel for adjusting the encounters as appropriate to your party.

Also, don't be afraid to make tweaks mid-encounter. If the party is having too much trouble, invent an explanation and weaken the enemies. If the party is blowing through too easily, have reinforcements come in, or insert another random encounter to make them expend more resources.

The reinforcements strategy is also a nice way to avoid having your increased enemy count get wiped out by one fireball, and to deal with dungeons where there are a bunch of adjacent rooms with similar enemies; it keeps you from doing many repetitive small combats, avoids overwhelming the party with a huge mass of foes, and means you don't need to explain why these guys just hung around in their room while the party killed their friends next door.

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Diego Bastet wrote:

My setting began with the tips of ye olde Dungeon Master Guide, starting with a single detailed area in a bigger world that became more and more detailed with time.

Ten years on the road and lots of campaigns happened in the more or less core regions, shaping the history of the world, while some elements of the outside regions creeped in in small fragments (a character from the necromancer lands, a god from the desert, a legend from another place, this kind of thing).

Now the setting is about the same size that it started, but much, much more developed. Now my players are so immersed on it that they asked for a GT-like (grand tour) kind of campaign, that took them to all kinds of different places in the setting, and there's actually so much developed material in the setting that I've taken to writing an article per week about a Region/Organization/People of the setting (player's choise what they want to know each week).

I guess my tip is: If you're making a setting for home-game purposes (and not for commercial ones) take it easy and follow Ye Olde DMG and the tips from Monte Cook in the old dungeoncraft articles on dragon magazine. Start small, with your core cool idea, an interesting regional map and a big map with the far-off regions and no more than some lines about its coolness; the rest will come and you'll develop. I see too many dms creating extensive work before even playing on their settings, and in my humble opinion this can backfire when you can't SHOW people what you created.

This is a thing I am trying to focus on now, because I do tend to spend far too much time on the big picture. I've gotten better. Now I look at the big, big picture (cosmology, pantheons, and core story themes), and other than that, I try to focus on a single area.

Hence, the Four-Fold World has a lot of regions... but the Clan plateau is the only one I'm seriously detailing. To the west are Wilds, to the east are city-states, to the south is a river and a port on a bay, and to the north are mountains. Within those, I'm looking at the city-states to contrast with the Clans, and as a general antagonist that could draw the Clans together, but that's about it. The south, I'll want to finalize a city name and talk a bit about the trade through it, but that's it. Really I'm focused on the Clans directly, and only a couple of towns for now.

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Storm Sorcerer Arcturus wrote:
PhelanArcetus wrote:

Players in this setting should expect to spend a lot of time delving...
Jeez! You certainly have a lot going on!

I'm not actively running any of them (only even prepping for the last one, which will probably remain as just a one-shot).

There's two reasons. One is that I'm a completionist and not that great at improv; the more information I have, the better I can extrapolate (rather than create entirely out of whole cloth). The second is that I've found that working on multiple settings simultaneously actually benefits me.

Most specifically, it lets me contrast them, to ensure I have different themes, not too much similarity in the settings. Even better, having multiple settings means that when I have a brilliant new idea, I can put it into the setting where it belongs, rather than going off-message to shoehorn in a new concept that really doesn't fit.

I expect that for the Four-Fold World, I won't have a lot of player input in the initial world design; that one's really my baby. For After Atlantis and the Tome of Battle / Oriental Adventures mash-up one-shot, I'm actively getting player input.

I've run a couple of one-shots in After Atlantis, simply dodging the mechanical issues of building or picking out the E8 rules to use by running at level 8 or below. And I've given the players the ability to help define the regions they come from with their characters. So now I know that Carthage, in addition to making quite a bit of money off of selling slaves, is intensely bureaucratic. And that some elite warriors among the Hebrews wear heavy armor known as Godplate, etched with scripture. (Yes, the setting includes Hebrews; this is a big part of what makes it potentially controversial.)

For the one-shot, when I send out the email with house rules and all, I'm going to ask the players to provide me (before the game) with a bit of information about the martial school their character trained at (and represents) - what classes its students have, what weapons they use, what disciplines they study. And describe another member or three of the delegation that school is sending to the tournament.

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I'm used to playing custom.

At the moment I'm only running in Golarion, but that's because I decided to make my life easier by running an AP and not having to adapt it to an entirely different setting, especially one that has some rules mismatches.

I have 3... well, now 4, settings in various stages of design.

The Four-Fold World
This is a swords & sorcery setting, moderately high on magic being around, but low on traditional magic (i.e. spellcasters); more of a world where it's pretty easy to get a couple of supernatural abilities, I guess. It's not intended to be played in Pathfinder, but in a system I'm slowly designing.

The starting region is a plateau controlled by five Clans locked in a semi-permanent (cold) succession war; this part is quite inspired by the Inner Sphere of the Battletech universe, crossed with some aspects of those Clans, and a lot of culture from historical fiction of early Saxon & pre-Saxon England. On the plains below the plateau are a set of city-states modeled largely on Renaissance Italy, with a touch of Tokugawa Japan thrown in.

It's also substantially inspired, actually, by the cosmology of 4th Edition D&D, one of a few things I did like there. It's a world with four coincident planes, defended by its gods (ascended mortals, in fact) against the aggression of other gods, from other worlds. I've cribbed a few high points from the "default" 4th Edition history, though I'm in the process of filing off the rest of the serial numbers and transitioning this from "copied from" to "inspired by". This definitely includes the notions of points of light on a dark map, and civilization being built on layer upon layer of past, fallen, civilizations.

The setting, though still very incomplete, has gone through many iterations, including a 4th Edition version I was working up during the launch period, and one where it was to be the host for a magic system inspired by the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Players in this setting should expect to spend a lot of time delving into long-lost (or buried) ruins, facing threats sealed away millenia ago, and battling the occasional evil wizard or priest of the gods beyond.

This one I would very much like to publish one day, along with the game system.

After Atlantis
This setting posits that Atlantis did once exist, and in fact ruled pretty much the entire Mediterranean Sea region... until it was wiped out in a magical cataclysm. The rise of the Empire was modeled in part on the Malazan books, though that's all ancient history in the setting anyway. Atlantis was filled with sorcerers, and it was their combination of heavy infantry (largely on the Roman model) and heavy sorcerous support which enabled them to conquer all.

A generation or two ago, something shredded the island of Atlantis, shattered weather patterns, and blotted the core of the Empire's infrastructure from existence. Atlantis itself is now a ruined city in a demon-haunted stretch of sea. The order imposed by Atlantis collapsed, and various provinces reacted in their own ways; Rome becoming a republic, Babylon turning back to the worship of the Annunaki, and so on.

This is an Epic 8th setting, though I do intend to allow limited amounts of mythic in it. That means no character ever gets past 8th level; progression is just feats afterwards (maybe a stat point or two?). One day, when I've got more experience with mythic, I'm thinking of running Reign of Winter, adapted to this, with time travel in one specific adventure.

This is also a setting that is probably not publishable, because it uses real-world religions, and not only dead religions. Of course, there's no reason it would need to be published to play it at home.

Unnamed Setting 1
This setting is inspired by a mix of Dark Sun and watching Les Miserables. Not the movie itself, but a single specific line "fall as Lucifer fell".

This produced in my mind a setting where angels fell to earth, wreathed in flames, causing massive damage, much like a series of large meteor strikes. Then they set themselves up as (mostly) benevolent sorcerer-kings, taking control of the surviving cities and eventually feuding with each other.

Unnamed Setting 2
This one is being built out now, just enough to feed a one-shot I decided to run using Tome of Battle.

It's a mash-up of the lore in the Tome of Battle book itself, the 3rd edition Oriental Adventures book, and Michael Stackpole's A Hero Born and & An Enemy Reborn books. I doubt it will get built out much more than needed for the adventure, though. Too much of it comes directly out of books someone else wrote.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

If you can dig up Wizard's Bane by Rick Cook, that might have some suitable ideas as well. The big thing there was that the bigger, more powerful spells were mostly just combinations of lesser spells.

Don't try to throw a bigger fireball, just throw bunches of them. Delayed blast fireball is just a wrapper around wait () and fireball ().

This would probably tend to a system where a higher level spell becomes more of a grouping of lower level effects, and a lot more use of observation spells and conditionals within the spell function, which perhaps consume more energy. The caster can very cheaply look at where his target is and decide where the fireball should detonate. A spell that takes a designated target and aims the fireball at the target's current location requires more energy, to feed the observation spells, tracking spell, and so on. The advantage is that the caster can fire & forget the spell (either feeding it energy continually until he terminates it by stopping the energy flow, or by giving it a chunk of energy at cast time and really ignoring it), leaving him free to spend his brainpower on other spells.

Really fancy spells would observe the target, determine the most likely mode of attack, and execute that attack; basically these become limited AIs, expert systems.

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thejeff wrote:
PhelanArcetus wrote:

I do try to branch out my characters, though I have a definite preference for a martial character with some magic, which is leading me towards a smaller subset of classes. (Even within that, I've got a fair variety available now, especially with different types of builds; basically every 4-level and 6-level caster.)

It's also important to try out different personalities; this is what I find really hard. I can play a wizard, a cleric, a ranger, a fighter, a rogue, weird mixes that were poorly considered, and so on. But my supposedly reckless character is rarely actually reckless.

That's in part because I'm normally not a reckless person, it's also largely because I'm especially used to campaigns where recklessness is punished (implicitly, in the sense that the fights are designed for an optimized party facing them prepared, and are not adjusted on the fly). But then, the guy running the campaigns I've played in the longest is designing a system which seems to assume the players will have to fight defensively most of the time, which sets a tone I don't think I like

This kind of thing is why I prefer a less challenging game. I can back off and make in character mistakes: maybe a reckless character or an overly cautious one or one with less optimized build for in character reasons.

And still not get the party killed.

Having to always play to the best of my personal ability limits my options more than I like.

It can be fun for one-shots to push my own tactical limits, but I don't want to always have to.

Absolutely agreed. Running scared all the time is annoying. It forces that defensive-minded, prepare-extensively mentality. It has me afraid to pursue my character's personal goals, because that would involve splitting the party (during downtime) - I might get ambushed by a party enemy who I simply cannot defeat alone, or I might just require excessive resources to re-assemble the party to handle an encounter on short notice (because we rarely ever get a call that we're needed next week, we get a call that we're needed yesterday).

That's not fun to do all the time. And it stunts my ability to play different personality types as well.

I'm currently in three games, and running a third (and thinking up a Tome of Battle-based one-shot).

In one of those games, which I've been playing the longest, it's that mentality. Fortunately, I'm already playing a smart, cautious fighter.

In another, the combat is normally not insanely dangerous, though the GM likes to make things interesting by playing off of any hook we give him, intentionally or not. I'm coming to the conclusion that the best thing I can do there is actually to just let my character be reckless, because the GM is going to do something about my actions anyway; I may as well not agonize about it.

In the third campaign, well, I'm working to keep things moving there. It's got a lot of the people from the first game, though it's far less threatening, because it's Kingmaker, without much souping up, and there are 6 of us. A little impatience, coupled with taking some interesting combat choices rather than the more typical, help a lot.

And I'm running Wrath of the Righteous, and working to find a balance point in challenge between too easy and too scary. So far, I'm not consistently on one side or the other; I had a combat that almost destroyed the party because I carelessly applied the Advanced template to the enemy, and a few other combats which were simply non-threats, though that was partly the dice; a successful attack by one enemy could have dropped a PC unconscious, from full... but of course I rolled nothing above a 5 the whole combat.

What this says to me, is that you need to experiment to find your style and comfort zone. And you also need to make sure that your style and comfort zone are at least reasonably similar to the rest of your group's.

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All my fear here of the party slaughtering the mongrelmen, and there wasn't a single issue.

I'm not sure whether I overreacted in my own head to the party's reactions to the statues, or whether the party forgot. Either way, Neathholm was no worry at all.

And the mongrelmen became sufficient information to handle Millorn, when the shaman asked Chief Sull about him, and the Chief was able to find a warrior who had seen a dwarf run away from a flayed mongrelman corpse, and recognize Millorn as that dwarf.

And my life is made easier by the decision to leave the NPCs behind in Neathholm, though I'll make sure they insist on returning to the surface immediately, just staying here out of the way for now.

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Unfortunately I've already had Aravashnial (in conjunction with the party's wizard, who he's taken under his wing) present the initial information. I kept it very limited, just "some of the crusaders from the First Crusade came down here to raise their children in peace", and basically described it as side effects of radiation poisoning. Basically there's no knowledge that the mongrelmen exist yet, aside from the statues in the chamber with the darkmantles.

I think that if I can't sell the party on the mongrelmen being decent, I'll just rearrange matters so that they don't even drop by Neathholm, instead running into the lair. In that case, they can encounter Neathholm afterwards, if at all.

To sell the party on the mongrelmen not being evil, I'll try most of the above, and possibly show their faith. Something as simple as Lann saying "thank the Inheritor" when he sees the holy symbol on the paladin's shield as the party approaches might start things off well.

Arueshalae is far enough away to not worry too much, and the fact that the wizard took Touched by Divinity, with Desna specifically, should help there. Though of course he's not the suspicious / hateful one; he's the one who wanted to find out what Millorn was researching. It's the shaman and the fighter/cleric of Gorum that worry me. But by then I should also have hopefully mellowed them a bit as well as learned how to manipulate them better.

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I've been more concerned with how to make my low-Int character not be stupid, because I felt I needed to play intelligently to, well, survive the campaign. While the character died to a fight the GM did a bad job of telegraphing that we should run away from (we saw no way to run without sacrificing all our gear and quite possibly not surviving anyway)...

My solution was twofold. First, make him take a while to come up with the good ideas. Intelligence 8, he'll figure it out, but it will take him ten minutes where a smarter character would get it instantly. Number two was essentially his backstory and goals - he came to the right conclusions the wrong way, through flawed logic and bad assumptions, and then made a bad call. Basically he determined that the Church must be corrupt and in league with demons because it treated him badly... so he's going to pledge himself to other demons. Then a hydra ate his face at level 2 and the replacement character was quite a bit smarter.

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With darkness, I decided the darkmantles would try to neutralize existing light sources. The first one swooped down and hit the paladin's torch. Which was subsequently thrown across the room, just as I had intended. The other one really never got a chance to try, since the poor things rolled horribly and just got massacred by a pair of greatswords. To give the PCs tactical options (and consume their spell slots) I made sure to place the ceiling at a point where an enlarge person would let a PC reach a darkmantle on the ceiling.

Now I have run myself into a potential problem, and I want to see if anyone has ideas I can poach.

My party is a bit virulently anti-demon, which is understandable, though I'm a little worried for when they meet Arueshalae. That, however, is far enough away that I can afford to not worry about it. What concerns me now is the reaction of the PCs to Aravashnial's mention of the children of the first crusaders being tainted by abyssal energies. I'm not really worried about an attack first, ask questions later approach, but I'm looking for ideas on playing the initial mongrelmen encounter, and Neathholm, if I can get them there, to dismiss the notion that mongrelmen are inherently evil. This is especially because I want to use the mongrelmen to denounce Millorn, who somehow ended up added to the roster of NPCs rather than killed.

Millorn surviving surprised me; I had him gibbering essentially madly about summoning demons and using sacrifices to power spells. However, some of the party decided he was just harmless, and thus shouldn't be killed, while those in favor of killing him were willing to accept bringing him along under watch. I would rather have him denounced for ritual murder by the mongrelmen than have the intimidated Millorn lash out (though I might have him run away if necessary.

So far, my ideas are pretty basic:
1. Hopefully the frantic attempts to rescue a trapped comrade will show them in a good light to start.
2. When Aravashnial starts getting pushy and rude, assuming he doesn't get shushed too quickly to permit a reaction, Lann will be very polite, even while Aravashnial is prodding him like a side of beef.
3. If the PCs query Lann or other mongrelmen about demonic heritage, have them express sorrow at the assumption, and hatred of demons.
4. A couple of dretch heads might be visible as trophies.
5. In an extreme case, the mongrelmen could be nursing a wounded paladin back to health; I'd rather not introduce a new NPC for this purpose, though.

I don't really care if the PCs forge an alliance with Neathholm, I'm playing fairly fast & loose with a lot of the story rules and just placing the chips where I want them. I don't intend to provide the party with backup rangers, though if they make friends, I'll have the mongrelmen launching spoiling attacks along with the crusaders, rather than accompanying the PCs.

Any other ideas? And thanks in advance.

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I do try to branch out my characters, though I have a definite preference for a martial character with some magic, which is leading me towards a smaller subset of classes. (Even within that, I've got a fair variety available now, especially with different types of builds; basically every 4-level and 6-level caster.)

It's also important to try out different personalities; this is what I find really hard. I can play a wizard, a cleric, a ranger, a fighter, a rogue, weird mixes that were poorly considered, and so on. But my supposedly reckless character is rarely actually reckless.

That's in part because I'm normally not a reckless person, it's also largely because I'm especially used to campaigns where recklessness is punished (implicitly, in the sense that the fights are designed for an optimized party facing them prepared, and are not adjusted on the fly). But then, the guy running the campaigns I've played in the longest is designing a system which seems to assume the players will have to fight defensively most of the time, which sets a tone I don't think I like.

One-shots are an amazing way to try things out. I've used a one-shot game to determine that, yes, I can play a pure support character, but I don't really enjoy it that much. I was very effective (my choice of scrolls to supplement my cleric's spell slots was spectacular, as it turned out), but it was much less fun than getting up and smashing foes.

It's also possible to get a fair bit of mastery from paying attention to the rest of the party, especially if the party collaborates on overall tactics; I know the capabilities of all the members of my parties pretty well, which has led to me having a good feel for a variety of classes or builds I have little or no experience playing.

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Don't Paralyze the Players

Not the paralyzed condition, nothing against that, go right ahead and use it. Don't leave the players paralyzed and incapable of acting.

This often happens when the players can't get enough information to feel comfortable deciding on a course of action. Now for some players, you don't need much. For others, you need a lot. It can also happen when players are terrified of the consequences of acting.

People have already discussed being careful about overuse of threats to the family, friends, and so on. I won't cover that.

Make sure the party can find out enough information to decide what to do. That might be in the context of figuring out if they can win (not will win, but can win) an encounter before they decide to commit to it. It might be giving them enough information to understand the events going on and how they might be addressed.

Don't hide all information behind huge Knowledge checks; if the party needs it, make sure there's a way they can get it. It doesn't necessarily take a brilliant sage... it could take someone specialized in the relevant field. And just set the Knowledge DCs intelligently - if they need the information, make the DC relatively low, or ensure there's another source. And don't feel bad about suggesting things to the players - their characters may be smarter than they are, and the characters definitely know more about the world than the players do. There's a lot of general world knowledge that just never percolates out to the players, but any character, especially a high level one, would know.

In one of the two high-level games I'm playing in, we just committed to a fight, which is going to be a 4-way mess. We know our own capabilities (I hope). We know (out of character) the power level of one guy on side 2, but not who else will be on side 2. We know essentially nothing about side 3 (and apparently cannot find out; the information just doesn't exist or something), and we don't know the composition of side 4, or the capabilities of the individual members who may or may not show up/

In the other, we're investigating multiple plots. Some are bad for the world, some are probably not... but we can't really find out anything. Many of them are connected, but we can't fathom how. And every method of investigation we seem to try just goes nowhere. I'm at the point where I think my character will just do something substantially unwise rather than trying to understand matters any further. (Of course, I have no way to know if the hornet's nests I may unwisely kick are ones I can survive kicking or not.)

Time Pressure, During the Adventure

It's good to have there be time pressure on any given adventure. This is one of those things that keeps the party from doing the 15-minute adventuring day and hitting every encounter with full resources. But the pressure needs to let up between adventures.

One game that I'm in has so much time pressure going on that we regularly comment how it seems like someone comes crying for help the instant we get back from putting out the last fire. It's not quite that bad, but we rarely get to do any crafting, and we've had times when we commissioned some magical equipment and leveled twice before it was ready. If the players need an item (and these were just stat items) to get their practical WBL up to par, they should be able to get that between adventures... and not go on several more adventures while waiting.

Even aside from those mechanical effects, we find it hard to pursue individual, non-combat, time-consuming goals. We're afraid to split the party, not just because one of us might get ambushed by a group that's a fair fight for the whole party, but because if we get a call and need to jump into action, we don't have the resources to bring the entire party together, then get to the adventure location, all in one day (at least not without one character devoting all his high-level slots to that).

Obviously you shouldn't give the party clear indications how long it will be until the next adventure in general (unless they know what that adventure will be and it makes sense). But don't make every adventure come up suddenly, and in full crisis mode. Let it be something where the party can have time to re-assemble.

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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