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Quentin Coldwater's page

FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht 1,089 posts (2,107 including aliases). 81 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 22 Organized Play characters. 8 aliases.


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**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

I basically factor in a roughly one-minute time lapse after each fight: coming down from the adrenaline rush (it is a scary situation, after all), cleaning weapons/armour, and using wands to restore HP (maybe more on high level, but then durations go up as well).

If they're not looting the room/enemies, I'd give them two fights, maybe three if the fights are very close after each other. Remember, in the fiction they also have to travel and discuss tactics, that also takes more time than you'd think. And in-game, there's still things like room descriptions and stuff that take time to process.

Looting a room would also be one or two minutes, depending on how much they find and how many magical items they need to identify. If they find a logbook with a specific handout, the adventure presumes they magically find that one interesting page, but in the fiction it might take anywhere between ten and thirty minutes, depending on how much information they need to sift through. Maybe even more.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

ChaosTicket wrote:
Okay using those as examples its planned to have +1 of each tier every 2 levels. So is it possible to have +1 equipment by level 2, +2 gear by level 4, and so on?

Oh wow no.

+1 weapon: 2.000 gp.
+2 weapon: 8.000 gp.

Assuming you play everything in tier, with nicely rounded numbers:
Tier 1-2 gives you 500 gp per adventure. That's 3.000 gp. You could buy that magic weapon, but you'll barely have anything left for your other gear.
Tier 3 should give you about 1.300 per adventure, so another 3.900 gp.
Tier 4-5 is 1.800-ish. So yeah, after one adventure at level 4, you can buy a +2 weapon. And then you'll have 850 gold pieces left (including starting money). That leaves you completely naked and with one cool sword. Not even a mithral one, just a regular sword.

Hell, most of my characters get a +2 equivalent around level 7-8, because I have other stuff to keep up to date, such as the Cloak, armour, and a headband.

Pathfinder isn't about the best gear or how powerful you are. That's what people turn it into. If you want that, go play Skyrim, that's where you make, find, or buy your best build possible. Pathfinder fundamentally isn't that. It's basically a resource-management game with a narrative stapled to it. You don't buy what you want or need, you buy what you can get your hands on. Lots of adventure paths throw random items at the players purely so they can experiment with it. Want that Cloak +2? too bad, here's a Cloak of Fangs. Have fun.

wraithstrike wrote:
It takes the same number of fights in Pathfinder per level. However as you level up fights take longer I in real life so it could take more sessions to level up.

Exactly this. Assuming you're going at a decent pace, every three to four sessions (of 3-5 hours each) is supposed to be a level up. I'm not sure who did the math on that, but I've seen it propagated, and it seems to line up with my expectations. Adventure Paths tend to go faster for some reason, I've played/ran adventures that leveled you up each session, while it didn't feel like that much to me.

On the other hand, I've played in a group that screwed around so much we'd get through a single combat and some exposition each session (+/- 4 hours). If you get the feeling you're leveling slower, maybe it's because your gametime is cut, or you're simply taking longer in combat. Once you get into higher level, there are more powers to abuse and playing it all out tends to run longer. Level 1 or 2 is "I hit it with my sword for 6 damage." Level 12 is, "First, I'm in its aura, so I need to roll to see if I'm safe. Then, I roll for knowledge, I know its DR, be careful for his breath weapon, I quicken this spell, use this as my move action, and as a free action I heighten my standard action spell with this so it does X instead of Y." Combats go slower because people need to consider their options more and more. If you're getting bored with your current level and powers, ask your GM if he's willing to level you up faster (if it's a homebrew) so you can get more variety.

There are a few more archetypes like that in Ultimate Wilderness. The Geomancer (Occultist archetype) switches an implement for an environment-based set of spells and some minor powerups. I'm sure there are others, but that's the one that jumped into my mind right now.

One important thing I noticed in the rules: +3 weapons and mithral count as silver and cold iron for DR (mithral only silver, though), but doesn't count for regeneration. Regeneration in PFS is rare, but I've seen regeneration/silver floating around.

On the whole, as said before, cold iron and silver are cheap enough you can't not buy them, and once you're earning three thousand gold per adventure or more, Adamantine is just a single adventure's worth of spending. Still pricey, sure, but I'd rather delay upgrading my cloak than not being able to deal with Stoneskin and/or constructs.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

I've found that maxed out Bards make encounters almost trivial. Yeah, as cool as it is to buff out your team, there's just no challenge in it. Both for the party as a whole, and for yourself. Every combat's the same. Pop Haste in the first round, then let the melee do the rest. There's almost no choice involved anymore.


That aside, yeah, this special is a bit hard on the resources. I played it with Lau at tier 10-11, I ended up mostly empty, but that's all due to my Hexes. In general though, if you're worried about spell slots, I find it easier to just jump in when needed. Usually the frontline has things covered, and the casters are usually there to grease the wheels. You don't need to sling a spell every turn if the battle's already going in your favour, IMHO. Also, don't use a higher-level spell when a lower-level one will do. Especially for casters, it's a resource management game. Don't use a Burst of Radiance when a Burning Hands will suffice.

That said, I think tiers 1-2 and 3-4 are the hardest on casters for specials. You just don't have enough spells to get through it comfortably, and they usually don't really have backup options. If a Wizard is out of spells, all he can do is plink away at the enemy with a crossbow.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

I'd personally not advise We Be Goblins if they're totally new to roleplaying, as I find getting into the spirit of crazy Goblins is a bit difficult, but otherwise yeah, they're great.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

3-01 The Frostfur Captives is pretty straightforward, and if you can play up the Goblin's antics, it's a great romp. It's one of the first scenarios I played, and the one I probably remember the most simply because the GM made the Goblins as entertaining as possible, even if it broke some of the rules.

I liked 5-19 The Horn of Aroden, because Lander is such an incredible brat. Again, go all-out on him and you'll keep a table entertained. Do get a feel for the table though, he can get annoying fast.

I recently GMed 7-01 Between the Lines, and I loved it. The mindspace is an absolute acid trip and if you can portray it well, it's great. Again, get a feel for your players, the complaint I got was that it was just a little too confusing.

7-21 The Sun Orchid Scheme is great. It introduces new mechanics, but the players don't have to know they're playing a minigame if you roleplay it well enough (I didn't explain the mechanics about the heist to my players, and they didn't know any better). There's some cool roleplaying here, interesting skill challenges, and a nice bit of lore.

8-01 Portent's Peril is a really elegant scenario. Nothing amazing, but it just works. Fun mechanics with cards, fun challenges, all-around great time.

So many -01 scenarios, apparently Paizo likes to make strong first impressions.

Ferious Thune wrote:
Quentin Coldwater wrote:
I think that a Samsaran Bard might be cool, combined with Ultimate Wilderness' Filidh archetype. It changes his spellcasting to divine, which opens up some cool things. Not sure what exactly you'd want to steal, as the Bard list is already pretty sweet, but still. Pretty much at-will Divination at level 6 is sweet, and Speak with Plants/Animals is situational, but also pretty fun, IMHO. The only downside is you lose Inspire Courage, pretty much the main reason you want to be a Bard, but there's probably some cool things you can do with that.
Does the archetype make the Bard a WIS caster? Samsarans get bonuses to INT and WIS, not CHA, and the number of spells they get with Mystic Past Life is based off their initial casting stat, so that's why I was avoiding CHA based casting classes.

Sadly, no. But I've played Bards before that started with 14 Charisma, that works fine. Yeah, don't rely on save or suck spells, but it's doable otherwise. But yeah, fair enough, not going all in on your main stat isn't appealing.

I think that a Samsaran Bard might be cool, combined with Ultimate Wilderness' Filidh archetype. It changes his spellcasting to divine, which opens up some cool things. Not sure what exactly you'd want to steal, as the Bard list is already pretty sweet, but still. Pretty much at-will Divination at level 6 is sweet, and Speak with Plants/Animals is situational, but also pretty fun, IMHO. The only downside is you lose Inspire Courage, pretty much the main reason you want to be a Bard, but there's probably some cool things you can do with that.

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I'm personally intrigued by the Geomancer Occultist. I'm already in love with Occultists as they are, but the spell list changing depending on the environment opens up so much versatility. It's definitely not a good or particularly strong archetype, but I just love weirdness.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

Philippe Lam wrote:

What the people expect from a faction leader.

While I'll accept Tamrin Credence as contact if he's elected, his lack of empathy about possible collateral damages is a black cloud (again, his squabbles with Zarta possibly mean Pathfinder deaths). His inability to get above the melee to see in the future is not really better. I can get wrong, but it's unlikely to be the case.

No one mentioned collateral damage or lack of empathy (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong), just that he's willing to bend some rules for the greater good. While I agree it's a logical assumption to make that one leads to the other, it doesn't necessarily mean that. We'll just have to see once the votes are over.

To compensate the anti-Tamrin voices, I'd like to offer my worries that Karisa might be too cautious, possibly losing opportunities while she's mulling over whether it's ethical or not. As I've said before, I like some self-reflection within the Society, but not at the cost of opportunities. Indecisiveness could harm just as many people as rashness can.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

The same thing happened when I GMed it. The Arcanist was close to down after the immediate action, then down after the first attack in its own turn directly after. I could've killed him, but that wasn't fun for anyone, so he went on to maul someone else. The Arcanist was decidedly more careful in later fights.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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When I made my first post, I hadn't realised Tamrin Credence was already an established character. That makes this contest a little unfair, IMHO. He has a whole development team behind his design (or at least one professional writer), while Karisa's entry is just a 300-word writeup with no interpersonal ties to other Society members. I've read the scenario where Credence is introduced, and while I still really like his style, I'd love to see how Paizo tackles Karisa's backstory in a scenario before I can formulate a fully-informed opinion.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

Douglas Edwards wrote:
Kwinten Koëter wrote:
Douglas Edwards wrote:
A vote for Tamrin is a vote for non-humans everywhere.
To be fair, I think Karisa is an Aasimar, but only her glowing eyes give that away. But yeah, too many humans/tall people in charge.
She is explicitly a Bonuwat Mwangi Human and not an Aasimar - that was made clear during leaders of liberty contest 1.

Oh, thanks. I thought I'd read something along those lines, but apparently I was wrong. Thanks for correcting me.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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Douglas Edwards wrote:
A vote for Tamrin is a vote for non-humans everywhere.

To be fair, I think Karisa is an Aasimar, but only her glowing eyes give that away. But yeah, too many humans/tall people in charge.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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Enis Rhine wrote:
Of course, my vote was given for Karisa Starsight. From this character you can make a much more interesting hero, it will be such a "dark horse", which no one takes seriously at the beginning, thinking that she is naive and young. For its development it will be much more interesting to observe than just a "bad" halfling.

The way I see it, Tamrin isn't "bad" in any way, aside from allying with some criminal elements for the greater good. He might have a pragmatic outlook, but his backstory is way more gripping to me. I already get a feel of how his mission briefings go, while I have no idea what Karisa's like other than "She's friends with the Eagle Knights."

To be fair though, I like her self-reflecting attitude. The Society could use more of those. Then again, the eternal "action versus inaction"-debate: would you rather wait until you have a clear picture, possibly losing opportunities, or make a firm stand for what you believe in now?


Aside from that, I like Tamrin because I can envision him as a combination of the pragmaticism of Aram Zey and Marcos Farabellus' brash "if you have to break some laws, just go for it"-atttiude. He has a clear moral compass I can get behind.
Also, his backstory can lead to some fun scenarios. Old "friends" coming back to haunt him and such. Plus, Bellflower stories!

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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I just wanted to know if you have a "favourite" author. Scenarios that, if they bear that name on them, you say, "no matter what, I want to play that scenario." Authors with a certain sense of style, presentation, or use themes you're fan of.

Also, this might be a secret plug for my favourite authors. I know the Paizo staff patrol these boards, so throwing them a bone might lead to more cool scenarios.

For me, my favourite writer has to be Larry Wilhelm. Apart from the bland Devil We Know series, all of his scenarios have been big hits with me. He manages to write a fun story with cool little details and flourishes you'd expect from current-season scenarios, yet he does it all the way back in season 1 and 2. And most of his scenarios have cool locations, NPCs, encounters, or a mix of all three of them. Yesterday I ran The Forbidden Furnace of Forgotten Koor for the third time, and I keep finding new cool additions to the story. No Plunder, No Pay has fantastic characterisation of otherwise throwaway NPCs, has a cool minigame included, and so on. Shadows Fall on Absalom has a very cool hook and twist to it, which I really like. And I need more ... of the Fiend scenarios, every one of them has been a blast.

I like Crystal Frasier's wild imagination. Delirium's Tangle was the first scenario I GMed, and while the combats themselves were a bit underwhelming, she went all out on the environments and atmosphere. Below the Silver Tarn had a wonderful Shadows over Innsmouth-feel to it. Pure atmosphere. She fumbled at bit with The Sky Key Solution IMHO, but I like the level of detail that's at work.

Also, shout-out to Jim Groves. The Frostfur Captives is a piece of art, and The Golden Serpent's opening act is fantastic. Murder's Mark is a great module, and I wasn't bored or distracted one time while playing it. Also, he PMed me one or two days after I left a review on one of his scenarios, thanking me for my detailed review. He seems like a great guy.

Are there any authors you particularly long for? Authors you want to see return soon?

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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While Karisa's experience is appealing, the idea of teaming Tamrin up with Zarta for mission briefings is just too good to ignore.

Also, Karisa seems a little "too good to be true," while Tamrin's backstory of a butler/slave-turned-captain is much more appealing to me than slaver's child-turned-captain. I like the pragmatic Tamrin more than I do the schmoozing Karisa. Seems to me that his briefings could play that up a lot more than hers. Plus, he's a Halfling, I have a soft spot for them.

Okay, I've figured out how to get to at least level 12 while staying completely full-BAB, with some options for variations to boot. Also completely Charisma-based.

Paladin. Take the Grey Paladin archetype and become Neutral Good. This allows multiclassing with Neutral/non-Lawful classes. Or don't take it, and replace the Barbarian level with something else.
Barbarian. For extra oomph. Maybe take Unchained version or an archetype that doesn't boost CON (Savage Technologist, Urban Barbarian) so you don't suffer from Sudden Death Syndrome.
Bloodrager. See Barbarian.
Gunslinger. Take Mysterious Stranger to key off Charisma. Or if your Wisdom is okay, vanilla Gunslinger. You'll need your Wisdom, 'cause your Will save is terrible. You'll get a different pool later on, and IIRC, you combine pools under one main stat.
Cavalier. Purely a gap-filler. As Mr. Bonkers said, Gendarme gets to choose Power Attack as a bonus feat.
Fighter. Another gap-filler, but maybe take some feats you'll need for prestige classes. Otherwise, skip this one and take a different prestige class instead.
Slayer. Same as fighter, really. You honestly don't get a lot out of this other than some sorely-needed skill points. There's a few cool archetypes that can spice things up.
Brawler. See Slayer. Purely BAB-fodder, but Unarmed Strike could be nice.
Ranger. Favored Enemy is always useful. Also, skill points.
Swashbuckler. Panache to parry attacks is always nice.
That's all the regular classes. You'll be rocking a Fortitude of 18, Reflex of 10, and a Will of... 2.

And now, prestige classes! There are a few to choose from.
Shieldmarshal. You'll only need quick Draw as a feat, and some skills. You should qualify for Gunsmithing as you're a Gunslinger. You can get some cool tricks from it at level 1. Also, boosts Will by 1.
Stalwart Defender. You get some defensive bonuses, but you'll have to take 3 feats to qualify for it. But combined with some other options, you can make a pretty tanky character.
Scar Seeker. Requires you to worship Vildeis and have Toughness (which is also a prereq for Stalwart Defender). You get some more tanky goodies and keys off Charisma. Also, bonus to Will saves.
Sentinel. Requires Deific Obedience and Weapon Focus, but you get a sacred bonus to attack and damage.
Ulfen Guard. Only requires a few skills, and you get more tanky powers in return. And, Will saves!

There's also the option of going Hellknight instead of taking Barbarian, but that locks you out of a whole lot of other options. Other possibilities include Aldori Swordlord (doesn't give you anything good, to be honest), Asavir (same), Crimson Templar (requires Ragathiel, being LG, and some feats you'll probably pick up anyway, but is pretty cool), Darechaser (Kurgess, doesn't do anything for your build, TBH), Devoted Muse (Shelyn, doesn't do much), Duelist (meh), Golden Legionaire (meh), Horizon Walker (meh), Knight of Ozem (Iomedae, meh), Lantern Bearer (meh), Low Templar (requires a feat for a horse you don't use, but get extra powerful against demons), Pain Taster (requires nongood, so Grey Paladin, but get more in flavour with Scar Seeker class. Powers are kinda lacking, though), Pure Legion Enforcer (requires you not to have a deity, and is crap), Sacred Sentinel (pretty cool, requires Torag), Sanguine Angel (doesn't mesh with Paladin very well), Steel Falcon (meh), Student of Perfection (Lawful, meh), Student of War (meh).

So, you can be a Paladin, who's also a Hellknight, Golden Legionaire, Eagle Knight, Knight of Ozem, and many more. He'll have so many conflicting beliefs and masters, it'll be insane.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

Magabeus wrote:
What helped is that my players identified the hazard in room 2 and decided to throw in a thinderstick.... I decided that the enemies in that room were burned by that, so skipped the encounter.

I was the one who thought of that, but now I'm wondering. Would it be metagaming of me to consider the gas might be explosive? The character has an INT and WIS of 12, so above average smarts, but I'm not sure how widely known it is in-universe that some gases might explode. Then again, we were warned for devious challenges, so thinking anything might explode in your face isn't a bad idea.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

It should run in 4-5 hours, yes. I've posted above. There's quite a number of combats, but rarely any roleplaying, so you can just speed through.

The way Magabeus (my GM) described it, there's one intended rest-point, but we didn't take it. It does seem like you can rest nearly anywhere, though. You should be able to run through it in one day, unless you're blowing through your spells irresponsibly.

If you do go Bard, I'll recommend the Arrowsong Minstrel. You lose some spells per day, but you can expand your repertoire with some cool Wizard spells and you get to be a pretty awesome archer.

Bards are amazing. They're the grease in your party's wheels. They make everything just run smoother. I've once read the quote "A Bard is like beer. Not every party needs it, but every party becomes better with it." And I agree. Unless you get fancy with archetypes, there's not really a way to build a bad Bard. I wouldn't want to play one all the time, but being a Bard is awesome, just as being in a party with one is.

Aside from that, I agree that your party needs a Cleric more than a Bard. Being a Cleric isn't just about healing, but also about status removal and such. Evangelist Cleric seems like the perfect compromise.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

In general, things that become large at 7 are ideal. Most dinosaurs are pretty good options, and the large cats get pounce, those are the most popular/"best" ones.

Animal companions tend to have one or two out of these four:
- Good offense (high STR, or high DEX with Weapon Finesse, or many attacks in general)
- Good defense (high DEX, high AC bonus, or high CON)
- Cool/useful extra features (darkvision, scent, pounce, and so on)
- Good level 4 or level 7 power boosts (becoming large, high stat ups).

The big cats have all of them, which makes them very popular. People before me have linked good guides and how to choose a good companion. There are definitely good and bad choices. Try to find a companion that has at least two of these qualities.

Of course, you don't necessarily need a companion. There are archetypes that trade them out, or you have a build that doesn't need them. A lot of people use animal companions for DPR, but that's not their only use. It can be used for scouting (provided you can understand your companion), transportation, or support/flanking buddy. At the very least, it's a meatshield between you and the enemy. It also totally depends on your build. If you're a melee Druid, it can be nice, but you're actually the star of the show. A caster Druid might want something to protect himself. And a beastmaster Druid throws all his buffs on his companion.

I found a few things in Dutch. Don't know if that ruins the mood, but I found them pretty funny. Warning: this will be gibberish to any non-Dutch speaking people.

This one.

This one.

This one.

And finally, this one.

Also, I was bored, so I made this for you.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

Beggar's Pearl is nice and scary at levels 1-2. As in, there's some cool moments that get very much less cool at higher levels. Might need to tone them down a bit, as Bret said, there's some mature content in there, I think. Still, very atmospheric.

Also, Reaping What We Sow is a very fun, very lighthearted scenario.

For later on, The Forbidden Furnace of Forgotten Koor plays exactly like the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin, and is in general very inspired by that movie. Might need a little censoring in one particular bit, but that's okay. Also, Our Lady of Silver's opening is fantastically chaotic. I love it. Might need some censoring again, as there's human sacrifices later on, but you could easily substitute that with something else (or leave it out entirely, it's a minor plot point).

taks wrote:
What? Below? Granted, I only have Curse of the Crimson Throne, Mummy's Mask, Giantslayer, Hell's Rebels, Hell's Vengeance, Strange Aeons, Ironfang Invasion, and Ruins of Azlant, but they all have waaaay more than WBL for a 4-player party. Giantslayer has my guys nearly 2 levels above as we prepare to hit the final book. MM was behind into the 4th book, but pushed them way ahead in the final dungeon.

Ah, fair enough. I've played/GMed a lot of earlier APs, those did seem to fall behind quite a bit. Jade Regent was a scramble for useful items in the first two books (then we quit). Hell's Rebels was indeed more generous with its gold, I imagine the more recent APs have corrected that.

I've played several APs, and I think none of them have the supposed wealth by level, they're usually far below that. So first of all, if you're worried that you're not giving your players enough gold, that's okay.

Second of all, if you're playing with more players than assumed, they'll just have to make do and split the loot. The fifth party member is already an increase in power (normally, a party of 4 can survive an encounter with CR equal to their level easily. With a fifth player, that becomes level+1), adding more gold only further increases the supposed power level of the adventure versus the actual power level. On the one hand it seems fair to give out more loot (there's more people, so in theory more people could benefit from that extra +1 weapon), but all power balance goes out the window. And that leads to a vicious circle: your players are more powerful, so you add more mooks to each fight. But those mooks have gear, so there's more money to distribute, and your players get more powerful, and so on.

TL;DR: Keep loot as it is. More loot, while seemingly fair for the players, only leads to an arms race and/or power inflation. Now the challenge becomes who can use which loot the most. Money management doesn't seem like a fun thing, but in my experience it's better than roflstomping every encounter in the adventure.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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Ah, I did something similar. We had to ruin a party, and we had the bright idea of slipping vomit capsules into the food/drink. Turns out, there's an ooze present at the party.

I made an ooze vomit.

(For PFS.)

- Have a "main thing" and be competent at it.
- Don't overcommit to your "main thing." I've seen characters that have such high Diplomacy, Knowledges or Perception they just don't have to roll anymore. Have a reasonable chance of failure.
- Don't specialise in too many things. Leave some stuff for your party members.
- Try not to burden others with your weaknesses. Boost your Will save if it's low, get scrolls/potions of Fly if you've dumped Strength and you need to scale a wall, and so on.
- Make sure Perception is a class skill. Spend a trait on it if you have to. Put a rank in it at every level.
- 14 CON.
- Have your build come online sooner rather than later. Level 3-5 is ideal. Waiting for level 7 before you become "cool" takes way too long.
- Make sure your build stands out compared to similar builds. What makes your character unique? In PFS, I see a lot of players, and a lot of characters. I like to do things that haven't been done before, or aren't very common. I'm sick of two-handed melee builds, or blasting Wizards/Sorcerers. Do something interesting with it.
- Be useful in combat. Cast spells, deal damage, help others, whatever.
- Be able to survive an unfavourable combat. Either through sheer HP, AC, damage output, or defensive spells.
- Be able to deal with a variety of enemies. Have different weapons for DR, use different elemental spells if your enemy is immune to one, and be able to buff your party if none of your offensive spells stick to the enemy. This one's a bit more down the road than at character creation, but still something to be aware of.
- Be useful out of combat. Be it Diplomacy, Perception, buffs, knowledges, whatever. Try to cover at least two things.
- Try to have at least one Knowledge covered. Even if there's an INT-class in the party, monster identification is great to have multiple shots at.
- Try to have at least one social skill. Charisma is a natural dump stat and not all classes get Diplomacy as a class skill, but being able to help in social situations is great.
- Favored Class Bonus usually goes into HP, unless I'm going for a specific build. 1 more skill rank is tempting, but those few extra HP can make the difference.
- Don't dump Intelligence. Skill points are a precious resource.
- DEFINITELY don't dump Wisdom.
- More an in-character thing, but don't be a murderhobo. Be interested in the story and don't just brute-force everything. The game's more interesting that way.

My biggest deviation from most of these rules is my Nagaji Cleric. I made him to be the biggest murderhobo and one-trick pony ever (Channel Smite negative energy). He has an INT of 5 and only ranks in Diplomacy. As a Cleric, I'd get one skill point per level anyway, so I leaned into it. I learned with my first character that diversifying your one skill rank per level is a bad idea. My thought was that if I put one rank in every class skill, I'd be great at everything. Instead, I was terrible at everything, because I had no focus. I could put a rank in something else, but that only means I'm diluting my specialty and being moderately good at two things, rather than being stellar at one.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

I'd say it can counter with Deeper Darkness. It can't attack, but it can still take a standard action for a non-offensive spell.

Then there's the discussion whether it can still take a move action left after using Deeper Darkness. Is it a matter of "you've already used your single action per turn, so you can't do anything else," or is it a matter of shaking off the debuff gives you your full turn back? But that's a whole different can of worms I'm not sure how to answer. I'd say it varies from GM to GM and I'll leave it up to you how to interpret it.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

My GM allowed us to destroy the faces as an alternate means, but luckily we had someone with Disable Device with us. But yeah, I assume all traps have an alternate means of bypassing it. Trap rules are so rigidly written that some application of common sense should be able to be used in "solving" them.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

I just played this under Mabgabeus this week. We did a lot of preparatory work via email, such as asking questions, character introductions, and preparations, so we won quite a bit of time there. We ran through this in just over 4 hours, but I must admit we had some pretty optimised players at our table that helped us power through some combats. 4-5 hours seems like a good amount of time to spend on this, maybe 6.

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I like the Slayer a lot. A less niche Ranger, but its abilities always apply, and a more competent Rogue. Lots of skill points, can cherry-pick a lot of good feats, and get early/easy access to them as well. And there are a few very cool, very weird archetypes that make them really stand out.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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We're on an investigative mission and we're deciding on a cover story. Most of us aren't thinking too clearly and we're in a weird mood. Someone comes up with an NPC named "Harry the Halfling." One of us takes it from there and says we're on a scavenger hunt for Harry's bachelor party. At the docks, we tell the dockworkers Harry was supposed to arrive yesterday, as he's getting married tomorrow, but the boat has disappeared, and if they'd like to help us find the dock's logbook. In a bar, we're looking for clues who can help us next, and we say we're on a scavenger hunt for his bachelor party, and this person is supposed to give us our next clue, but we don't know where he is.
By this point, most of us are so invested in Harry the Halfling that we don't care about the mission anymore, we just want to come up with dumb jokes about Harry. There's now a group of four people, two of them yelling drunkenly about how Harry's supposed to get married, but he's been kidnapped and we have to solve this scavenger hunt to find him before tomorrow. About half the town's starting to question who the hell this Harry guy is, and we start coming up with stories about how awesome he is and how he throws the best parties. Eventually, we sneak into a prison and rescue the NPCs were were supposed to find, and among them is a Halfling named Harry. We couldn't be happier.

TL;DR: We were supposed to go on an infiltration mission and be as subtle as possible. Instead, we got so enamored with our cover story that we went through town like a bunch of drunk idiots.
You had to be there, I guess.

I also reserved "Harry the Halfling" for my next PFS character. Now to come up with a build for him.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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I'm just gonna chime in with the level 5-6 love. It's my favourite tier to run in specials since people have most of their build complete (if they're going for a certain build), but the game hasn't gone out of whack yet. People have access to cool spells and you're just getting the sense of you becoming a badass, and usually monsters here start becoming interesting as well, without the game turning to a slog. Level 7+ is also fun, but I feel like the combination of crunch and fluff is just right. Anything above that and a lot of flavour goes out of the window for raw power, I feel. Enemy spellcasters become insanely buffed and melee dudes are just dumb beatsticks, and with players it's usually the same. Meanwhile, on tiers 1-4, you're still graduating from adventurer to licensed ass-kicker. Levels 5-6-7 are just that fine line between badass and undefeatable.

That's not to say I don't have fun on high tiers, of course. I recently survived King of the Storval Stairs, and man, that was exciting. But at that point, the game was throwing so much at me, I was too busy dealing with everything to properly enjoy it.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

Tineke Bolleman wrote:
Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Mimo Tomblebur wrote:
So Tineke, Starglim and Steven, you are not seeing signs of low-level-burnout among your experienced players?
I have not. Our old guard snaps up every new scenario, regardless of level.
Yes, playing in general is concidered way more important here then what is played.

As a player in Tineke's group, I agree. Sure, I'd like to play more high-level games, but sometimes that's just not possible. New people join in and need to level up, or veterans make new characters and have to start from the beginning. It just happens. I'm glad I get to play at all.

For me personally, the real pinch is getting new characters leveled at all. I've been playing fanatically for 3 years now, and with 220+ scenarios played, I've done most of them by now. Sure, GM credit helps up to a certain point, but getting out of that 1-5 tier is still a chore. I'm glad there's a boon out there that lets me start a character on level 2, that helps a lot. At some point, there's the possibility I've overtaken Paizo's catalog and either have to stop playing for credit (or not appearing at all anymore), or constantly GM stuff I might have already GMed before. Neither of which is really fun. But that's the risk you take when you play once, maybe twice a week, while Paizo's output is literally half that.

Er, two clarifications:
- I said you could houserule the power "leaking" out of the implement. Rules as written, it stays charged until it's recharged.
- You can't use a borrowed Implement to fuel your own power. If you know powers A and B, and the Implement knows powers C and D, you can use its points to use powers C and D only, if you want to use power A, you use your own implement. You can't use a copy machine to make coffee, for example, because it's not made to do that.

Do note that you could use generic focus (Focus Points not put into an implement) or Shift Focus to add power to a different implement. That's usually at a loss, but there's a feat that mitigates that loss. I'd still rule that once it runs out, it's lost its powers and "forgets" everything it could do, but up until that point, you could in theory keep fuelling it with your own powers. And again, you might houserule that you can't fuel a power you don't know how to use (Mind Over Gravity comes online at level 5, but your Occultist is only level 4, for instance), but that's not how it's described in the book.

I'd say anyone who steals a dead Occultist's implements gets to use its powers until it's lost all of its Mental Focus. Similar to how magical effects don't end until they've run out, I'd say Implements keep their charge until the charge has been redistributed. My reasoning for this is that if prepared casters don't reprepare their spell slots in the morning, they'll just run around with last day's spells until they find time to prepare.

As a GM, you might houserule that implements lose their focus after 24 hours, that seems reasonable if you're worried about your party running off with it. Power "degrading" over time, as it were.

As for other Occultists, that's tricky. I'd say that an Occultist charges his implement with certain properties, and anyone in possession of that implement can use those properties. Say your NPC of level 17 has a Transmutation implement with all of its powers stored in there. Your third-level Occultist party member steals the implement, and can use all the powers stored in it, even things he's not high enough level for, such as Mind over Gravity. But once he's depleted it, or if he decides to recharge it, he wipes away all the data stored into it. Think of it like a USB stick. But except that you don't keep the stored data on it, you wipe everything and store new data on it. If you haven't "unlocked" Mind over Gravity yet, it's gone, forever.
At least, that's how I see it.

Nearly a year-old bump. I recently bought this in PFS, I'd like to know. My instinct tells me that since it's actually the damage that pierces DR, it's not applicable, but I'll gladly be proven wrong.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

After my players send off a donkey with some gnolls, who I very made very clear will eat said donkey pretty soon, I ask the Sky Druid player, "Doesn't that make you feel bad at least a little bit?" To which she responds (in actual English, since it isn't our native tongue), "You vastly overestimate my capacity for empathy."

Which was fair, because in her introduction she made it very clear she was concerned with the sky and everything living in it, so fair play.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

Gary Bush wrote:
Ward Davis wrote:

Trouble after the table; but I did the old salt water test on my dice (have a matching colour coded dice set that I use for playing and GMing, the only dice I use) and found out that my primary d20 was unbalanced, unbalanced towards the 20. Did some quick calculations and figure it's seen about 2000 rolls since I started GMing.

So now it is time to send out some apologies to a great number of players. Everyone said that die crit a lot, I though it was just a negativity bias...

(Of 7 single-colour opaque chessex d20s, only 2 passed my salt test.)

How do you do that test?

Warm water (to make the salt dissolve more easily) and lots of salt to change the density of the water. The dice should be able to float on the water at some point. Then spin the d20 while it's floating. If it's truly random, the dice should land at different faces. If it's weighted, the same number tends to pop up more often (as that side's lighter, or the other side is heavier).

Check this link for a visual how-to. As you see, the weighted dice really keep rolling back to one side, and make unnatural-looking leaps while doing so. I always try to fish out my clear dice, because those can't hide the visual imperfections and are usually more fair.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

Yeah, a static cost seems more fair to me, especially to front-loaded archetypes. 10 PP or so is big enough that you don't abuse it by switching archetypes in between missions, but makes lower-level "mistakes" easier undone (as in my case, in which I needed 20 PP at level 4. By the time I had that, I'd be one level up and gained another feature I need to get rid of).

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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I'd personally go with First Steps first, then Confirmation, then Wounded Wisp. Ideally I'd switch First Steps and Confirmation, since Confirmation is about the players getting their "Pathfinder degree," but it can get quite difficult near the end. Some preparation would help them survive.

You could flavour First Steps as them still being interns, not yet quite being official Pathfinders yet. It requires some minor changes to the mission briefing, but it won't impact the story at all. Then, Confirmation as their final exam, and then Wounded Wisp as their first "official" mission.

The reason I like this sequence is that First Steps gives information about the factions, Confirmation is their graduation ceremony, and Wisp is about the history of the Society. As I said, you could switch the first two around, but I like having some money before going into the Confirmation. A Cure Light wand is very good to have.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

Lau Bannenberg wrote:
There are murmurings that retraining may be rethought by the leadership. The extremely varied cost of retraining an archetype for example isn't really working out well. Some archetypes split their goods up into a dozen features, others press it all into a single ability that does everything. Those two archetypes have very different retrain costs - an indication that retraining costs aren't designed robustly.

I agree. I have a low-level character I wish to train out of an archetype but it'll never be possible because of the number of class features I trade out is way higher than my prestige total required. I'll have to play for roughly three more levels with a character I'm not really enjoying before I can abandon the archetype. And when I level up, I'll add more class features I need to train out of again. It's an uphill struggle.

The guy I'm describing can reliably one-round PFS bosses, usually creatures 2 to 3 CR higher than him. I don't want to dunk on him too much, but some players are feeling inadequate as he can solo most scenarios.

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Quentin's version of optimising is what I call min-maxing

Eh, it's a sliding scale. One easily flows into the other. Grabbing Power Attack makes sense for a melee type. Getting a Furious Amulet of Mighty Fists for your natural attacking Bloodrager is also smart, though maybe overkill (Bloodragers already tend to hit hard, +2 doesn't really matter except for maybe piercing DR). Grabbing a trait for a +1 on every damage roll with natural attacks is just unnecessary. If your goal is to do obscene amounts of damage, each step seems like a logical choice, but at some point you have to look back and see when it's enough. When the guy with this build was audited for PFS, it took him 5 minutes to explain where all his damage bonuses came from.

Optimising, to me, is dedicating most (or all) your resources to squeeze every last bonus into your character to become the best at <subject>. A friend is a melee optimizer. Almost all his builds have Bloodrager dips, maybe Medium dips for the Champion spirit. Almost all his feats go towards dealing as much damage as possible.

A lesser form of opumising is simply, "how do I get good at <subject>, without going overboard?" Taking Power Attack is a given for a melee build, Bloodrager levels I can understand, but then adding Medium levels for a +2 on every damage roll is meh. You've already multiclassed, no need to dip even more. My Occultist is a damage monster, but I dedicated only a handful of feats to it. Two or three others are simply to broaden his abilities. He's optmised for damage, but not excessively so. That friend I just mentioned has a few tricks up his sleeve, but he's mostly just a punchy guy. In an investigative scenario, he'll fall flat on his face. But on the other hand, his attack bonus is so high, he usually hits on a 2+, even on iteratives.

Before I go on, I have to say: Maurice, get out. This is secret. I know you're watching.

I'm running a Wrath of the Righteous campaign (still fairly low-level, about to clear the first book), and I'm thinking of substituting some enemies to spice things up a bit. Looking at some enemies, I wonder how they're even a challenge at all.

But anyway, I was looking into the CR system, and the more I look, the less it makes sense to me. It seems more like a "feels" thing and less like an exact science.

So, anyway. What I've found so far:
CRB pages 397-398 have all the relevant info. Determine CR budget, fill in with enemies. Multiple enemies bump CR by 1 each time.

This is fine and all, but it seems like the designers assumed a large number of mooks is equal to a higher-CRed monster. The Core Rulebook specifically suggests replacing a Gargoyle with three Small Earth Elementals. I know there's strength in numbers, but in that specific instance, the group's APL is 9. Small Earth Elementals will be s speedbump, not a serious challenge. Hell, anything 3 CR lower than APL will rarely faze a decent party. I'm experiencing something similar in my campaign right now. They're going to enter the final dungeon of this book, and it's filled with wimps. At APL 4, six 10 HP creatures (CR 0.5), or two 15 HP (CR 1 each) are pathetic. They add up to a decent challenge, but they simply won't stand a chance.

Would working the other way around work, as well? Grab a few monsters, add their XP values, see if it lines up with CR? I'm not going to bother with three Giant Ants (for example) if two Giant Scorpions are a much fairer challenge.

So, because I'm lazy, I'm not going to customize the mooks or give them class levels or whatnot, but I do want to make my players feel challenged. I'll probably grab some random NPCs or monsters that'll approximately be a fair CR, but if you can point me in the right direction, that'd be great (I'm sure there are combat generators online as well). They slaughtered their way through the middle dungeon as well with barely a scratch on them, which also had six fights with the same identical mooks.

I know most Adventure Paths are written for 4 players with 15 point buy. I'm running 20 point-buy with 5 players (though only 4 will be present next session), and I'm really noticing the difference in power. Maybe I'll throw in an extra mook in every encounter, that should at least balance things out somewhat. It's easier to do than applying the Advanced template to everything (and in terms of action economy, the latter won't do much).

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