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Golden Orb

Quentin Coldwater's page

FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 1,048 posts (2,039 including aliases). 79 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 22 Pathfinder Society characters. 8 aliases.


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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.


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.


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).


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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.


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).


The tracker seems to be down. I checked here if I missed a post about maintenance, but apparently not.


Lau Bannenberg wrote:

It makes sense to me. These modules weren't written with rigid PFS mode in mind, and far predate campaign mode. But it would help patch some issues, especially the level gap.

And honestly, with the random encounters in it, part 3 is already rather loose on the "run as written" bit.

I remember that part. It hurt.

The second part of Golden Death was definitely more intense than the first part. Not sure if it's level-up worthy, but maybe we're just lucky. The final boss in Crypt definitely expects you to be level 2. I'm still kinda salty about that one.

Everflame boss:
Pretty high AC (and can up it with Combat Expertise), and specifically targets people who can bypass his DR with disarms. His damage output can oneshot characters if he rolls well and uses Power Attack.

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I've never really understood why people don't understand the Occultist (I'm the player Mr. Bonkers up above mentioned), I honestly had more problems understanding how his spell selection worked than his class abilities.

- You get a pool of points, like most classes get (Grit, Panache, Inspiration, and so on).
- You get access to two (at the start) schools of magic.
- You spread your points out over these two schools.
- You get a passive and an active power from each school. Depending on how many points you put in each school, you get a scaling reward (the passive). This reward stays with you until you completely deplete the amount of points you put in it. The active power usually costs a standard action (and one point from the pool) to activate, though some use swifts or immediates.
- Every even level you get to choose a new active power, and every four levels you get another school of magic. It's a fairly big list, but it's easy to comprehend what they do.

The main problem is seeing how each choice interacts with your other choices. The Occultist is very adaptable within its chosen schools, but you really need to know what you're doing. It's probably the fiddliest class I've played, but not the most complicated. He just does so much. A few wrong choices can really mess up your character, while in most other classes you can at least still be a decent fighter.

I've always compared the Occultist to a highly specialised Wizard. A Wizard's power lies in its versatility, but I think the Occultist's power lies in its specialisation. A Wizard chooses one school and has some neat tricks, but an Occultist has an almost laser-focus in being the best in that g~+@@%n school. Want to be a tank? Choose Abjuration and you're near-indestructible. Minion master? Necromancy or Conjuration. Want to make all your saves and/or checks? Divination. Controller? Enchantment/Illusion. Blaster? Evocation. Melee monstrosity? Transmutation. The Wizard has the advantage of being prepared and having a much more forgiving spell acquisition process (as well as being 9th-caster), but I think an Occultist can be about equal, if not better, than a Wizard in most schools of magic. And besides that, he's generally a Swiss army knife of tricks. You just really have to know your strengths and weaknesses.

I made an Occultist and he was a beast. I sorta lucked into the build, as I didn't really know what I was doing, but I made the right choices anyway. If you give him time to buff, he's a monster. He's not as efficient as a Magus in applying buffs, but once he gets going, it's hard to stop him.


Fair enough. I think this is an extreme case, but most scenarios are written in such a way that a lopsided party is able to defeat it. This scenario just suffers from Season 4 overcorrecting.

AVR, thanks, I'll mull over that!

Tabernero, I'm quite happy with how effective my build is. I mean, he's not as effective as a Fighter for instance, but I'm a pretty competent (and consistent) damage dealer. The archetype loses a few things most other archetypes lose, Inspire Competence is maybe a big loss but I don't really care for it, and a spell per level per day. That's a big one, but I'm mostly firing in combat, not casting spells, so I just have some support spells left. Also, I get to steal spells from the Wizard list. A Bard throwing around Fireballs, Scorching Rays, and Telekinetic Charge is fantastic.
I'd say my level 11 character is roughly 75% of a "normal" archer in effectiveness, but in addition to that I still have most of the tricks a regular Bard can do. I pick off stragglers the others didn't manage to kill, but I'm mostly also a force multiplier for the rest of my team. For a damage-dealing Bard, I think it's a pretty great archetype.


I think, at this level, you need the help of casters to get things done. As you said, you have good maneuverability options, but enemies will generally outmatch you (also note that these harpies were fully prebuffed. If I had the time to buff you guys up, it would've been much easier). Casters could've thrown up smokescreens, throw some healing around, use spells like Hold Monster to make them fall down. Or aided you in moving around, so you have more actions for yourself. I think my high-level Shaman would've been a perfect fit, but he's level 13 now.

The casters vs melee disparity becomes visible here, because at this level, most decent casters have a solution to everything (or should have), while melee just have a sword. Also note that this was a particular instance with cleverly-designed opponents. In most other cases in PFS, your regular tactics will work just fine. Trevor, I think you're forgetting you play in a team. You're a monster in melee and have spent considerable resources in shoring up your weak points, but there's still at least 3 other party members with you. Yeah, you can't guarantee every "food group" is present, but I think there's a decent chance you have a good mix of characters. We just had bad luck in this case. As I said earlier, if I had time to prep and/or wasn't knocked out, this fight would've been vastly different.


As an aside, when is casting not viable, and when is archery not viable? Dude, anything with SR will be a problem for evokers, anything mindless will be a problem for enchanters, anything with DR will be a problem for summoners, and so on. Most decent casters try to mix up their spell repertoire, but sometimes you're just boned. Transmuters are usually fine, they can just buff the team, but still. Also, they have to be mindful of their spell slots. You can't just throw around your highest-level spells all the time. Your best way of thinking is, "what's the lowest spell level I can expend to turn this in my favour?"
As for archers, hoo boy. Any small dungeon will pose a problem. Cover gives a -4, and that can be killing, and line of sight is easily blocked. DR/Slashing is also pretty common, the only kind of weapon type archers can't deal with. And several spells, such as Wind Wall, fog clouds, darkness effects, and so on. Again, for every strategy there's a counter-strategy to come up with. Your biggest problem is, "can I hit it with my sword?", which is relatively easily solved with flight or teleportation. My biggest problem is dealing with the entire environment (to put it extremely bluntly to make a point). I'm just happy I have other things to fall back on to help out.


Also, I agree with Lau. Until level 4 or so, most enemies simply die from one hit from a decent melee character. A standard Goblin has 6 HP. A standard melee-unit has 18 STR and wields a weapon two-handed. That's already 6 damage on its own, plus weapon damage. That Goblin is dead as soon as he's heard the attack hits. Factor in Power Attack, maybe Rage, and you overkill these buggers so much it's pretty frustrating for the GM. Around level 5 the enemies might survive a single hit from them, and at level 10 maybe even a full-round. And that's just one enemy versus one party member. At this point, it's the job of the rest of the party to finish off the weakened enemies.

When faced with superior numbers/tactics, players need to get creative. The Harpies are maybe an unfair example, but the Hill Giants in the room were a good example. It was 5 versus 5. In theory each party member could take on a different enemy. But the way it was positioned, that wasn't possible. So now people will have to face multiple attackers at once. With some proper AoE effects, that would've been possible. It isn't unreasonable to think in most cases someone will have something available for this. We had four characters overly reliant on melee, and one character overly reliant on ranged (with some tricks up his sleeve). That's just our fault.

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The Arrowsong Minstrel archetype gives a Bard effectively full BAB progression for combat feats and prestige classes. I guess this is mainly done to qualify for Arcane Archer and bow feats earlier, but say I want to go a different route. What prestige classes and/or combat feats would be fun/good to have early access to (preferably things that don't require a bow, as I already have an Arrowsong Minstrel and I'd rather not copy that build)? This is a hypothetical build for PFS, so keep that in mind. It also doesn't need to be super-optimised, but also not absolutely suck.

Sadly, most archetypes require 5 skill ranks, so it's hard to cheat early entry, but you can get earlier entry as a Bard, which is something I like.

The first that comes to mind is the Battle Herald, which can be entered with, say, one level of Cavalier, and four of Bard (rather than the other way around). Hell, maybe even delay for one level so Inspire courage bumps to +2, but still. This means probably more skill points at the cost of some BAB and HP. But as of yet, I can't really see how this would give a practical benefit.

A different, more impractical idea would be to go into Scar Seeker at level 6. It's mostly meant for Paladins, as you get their Lay on Hands bonus, but it could be a quirky build for a Bard to take.

Arcane Trickster could work as well with one level of Rogue, Ninja, or Snakebite Striker and Accomplished Sneak Attacker, but I don't think the class is very good.

A Bardic Crimson Templar would also be funny, although a bit murderhobo-y.

Student of War and Hellknight would apply, but both cost quite a number of feats. Also, I probably won't make use of that Hellknight armour, as I still have arcane spell failure.

Devoted Muse would be perfect. It won't be a very heavy hitter, but it's a cool build.

I thought an Asavir would be very cool. Maybe not very practical, but still. A Bard on a mount is a very unique sight. I though Boon Companion would help increase its levels, but it sadly doesn't.

Do you have any cool ideas? Thanks!

Shaman. More interesting hexes to play around with than the Witch, and a very eclectic spell list. At first it seems like a grab-bag of random Witch and Cleric spells, but there's also a few Druid spells in there as well, and also some weird omissions (why no Communal spells?). It has most of the Cleric's buffing spells, some of the Witch's debuffing and AoE spells, and a few Druid-nature themed spells. It doesn't completely overshadow or remove the need for any one of those classes, but can reliably pull off doing double duty for all three of them.

Also, as I like playing support, Bards get an amazing "make everyone better" spell list, with some spells specifically for them alone.

Also, props to the Occultist. Their spell list is just a random collection from mainly the Wizard spell list, but I love the moving parts it has.


Yes, Mr. Bonkers noted that as well. Looking at the stats, it seems like it actually increases lethality rather than decreasing it.


I'm prepping this for the third (fourth?) time (I really like this scenario, okay?) and I noticed something. In both tier 3-4 and 6-7 there's an Animated Object monster statted, but I couldn't find a similar monster on the encounter table. Did I overlook something, or is it there by accident?


I think the GM didn't add double Good Hope/Inspire. The harpies hit for mid-10 damage fairly often, but (IIRC) never above that.

Also, to nuance some complaints Trevor made (this isn't me correcting you, just clarifying):

Trevor86 wrote:
Since I can't edit the original post, I wanted to clarify that I still did have fun but that was mostly by good acting from the GM and the other players in the fairly sparse roleplaying and not so much the fights, which made up the most of the module. All three giant fights are much too easy (except perhaps the last one, it might just be that the bard just had the perfect counter available, which he had), and my thoughts the rediculously hard harpy fight is described in detail above.

The giant fights seemed pretty easy, but we had the numbers advantage. That really helps a lot. Also, you and the Bloodrager/Dragon Disciple are highly optimised melee machines, a regularly-built melee character wouldn't be able to one-round him (plus, you were insane on rolling those crits). Also, remember how the Barbarian from the first fight nearly one-rounded the "tank" character, while he had nearly 100 HP. we would've been in deep trouble if you weren't there. The regular Hill Giants are indeed not really a challenge for us. I could probably one-round one if I was properly buffed up. They're probably boss encounters for a level 4-5 party, now they're just mooks.

You complain about Mesmerists and Wind Wall shutting down tactics entirely, but that could happen with anything. Mesmerists in general are incredibly infuriating (Mental Block is a *****), but Wind Wall is a spell not many people will carry, maybe on a scroll (which reminds me, I should get one >_>). I was the perfect counter for the final boss, but basically any fight could have a "perfect counter," the trick just is if you carry it. Archers get shat on by Wind Wall, Giants usually have terrible Will saves, casters are usually negated by getting up close and personal. A Hold Monster would've finished the fight as well, or imagine what havoc a Confusion would wreak on those things.

Trevor86 wrote:
Just to add to the harpy queen, I realize that at any point she could have just switched to her bow and used her humanbane arrows on me instead of using her heal scroll which would have definitely killed me and caused a tpk. It feels like overkill added on top of overkill and further reinforces my belief that we only survived because the DM had pity on us.

Remember that the GM has to follow tactics as well. Her tactics say that she uses her song again to lure people away or switches to her bow if she's out of spells and uses the Heal scroll to heal her subjects. She noticed that none of us fell for her song, so she isn't likely to do that again. The subjects weren't that injured at the time and she was, so it made sense to me.

Also, for the underlings being better with their melee weapons, their to-hit and damage are roughly the same, but they have Power Attack, which helps a lot.

As for the "god-casters," they're a popular choice. It's pretty likely at least one out of six characters would have been one. We just happened not to have one (I have a few, but sadly not yet in tier). With one of them, or a decent archer that isn't incapacitated by a Fear spell (>_>), things would've been very different. I think the GM did fudge the stealth rules for the Rogue, but she was being outclassed already, she needed the help.


Lau Bannenberg wrote:
So yeah, those classes "have it easy", although they also depend on strikers to do the actual damage (experience from a party with a shaman, wizard, witch and two rogueish strikers during 9-00). A party with "all food groups" is the peak of power and efficiency.

I was there. The Shaman/Witch debuff team was a very good choice. We really smoothed things out for the rest of the party. I'm pretty proud of what we did there.


Trevor86 wrote:
I was the paladin/bloodrager at mr. Bonkers' table and I wanted to throw in my opinion of the module. Looking back on it, i have mixed feelings about it, leaning towards negative. As said before we played 10-11 with 4 player adjustment with a party that didn't have a full caster nor an archer or healer. (bloodrager, paladin, bard (he was an archer but didnt get to use his bow i believe), melee rogue, low level tank multiclass).

Hey, I shot... four arrows in total during that adventure! My damage output isn't as crazy as yours, but it's definitely up there, I think. I just got knocked out in the harpy fight (should've used my reroll there), otherwise I would've been much more effective. My to-hit and damage output is better than those harpies. I just didn't need to show it in the first fight, and I was busy buffing you guys in the last fight.

Just throwing that out there to show I'm not just a wimpy buffer Bard. >_>

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When my GM ran us through Murder's Mark, he also gave out small memorabilia. I got a tiny figurine of a mammoth (my character came from the Mammoth Lords) I could tie to my weapon, similar to a cell phone charm. I thought that was kinda cute, especially since he tied it into my backstory.

Also, Googling "d&d joke items" comes up with a lot of threads. I already found a few I'm stealing for my campaign. >_>


I'm a player from Mr. Bonkers' table. We were lucky we had a sudden fifth player, that really evened the odds. Well, he mostly provided another body and 100 more hit points to deplete, and we needed it. We had two very optimised strikers at the table, and we got them sweating. Luckily, no deaths, but we got close. This scenario is nasty, almost bordering on the unfair.
I had my buttcheeks clenched for a lot of it, but still had fun.

Also, Mr Bonkers, you rolled way too many natural 20s. To be fair, that's also true for the Paladin, but we needed that.


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CheeseStalker wrote:
FanaticRat wrote:
Since I've become increasingly frustrated with PFS games recently, why not just have a thread about the funny moments we've had in them? I mean you guys gotta have some good stories, right?
I don't know why, but apparently when GM'ing, my Gripplis always speak in Scottish accents.

That's great. I can't do voices or accents, but I always imagined Gripplis being posh and dapper. Something like this, with a Victorian English or indeed Scottish accent. Distinguished.

Matthew Morris wrote:

Same scenario. "Ok you got your way back to the cell. How do you get it unlocked."

Me: Will a 24 disable device do?

GM: You have disable device?

Me: A skeleton key.

GM: *sighs* of course you do.

A friend always carries one on all his characters. Somehow he always makes the DC. Golarion has the multiverse's shoddiest locksmith.


For the Aegis vs wand charges debate: I'd say wand charges are relatively cheap (15 gp a piece, or one-twentyfifth of a PP), those are neglectable. An Aegis of Recovery is an actual investment of money, I'd say you get that "refunded."


Black Waters, followed by School of Spirits remains one of my favourite scenarios. Especially if your GM has a knack for horror-themed flair.

Voice in the Void is similarly creepy.

Frostfur Captives is excellent if your GM has a knack for playing Goblins. My GM played fast and loose with the rules to make them extra cool and it was hilarious.

Temple of Empyrial Enlightenment is great if your GM can set the atmosphere right.

Scions of the Sky Key trilogy is one of my favourite multiparters. It just fits well. Every part has its cool thing.

Trouble in Tamran is pretty cool. Nothing amazing, but I really enjoyed myself on both ends of the GM screen.

Sun Orchid Scheme is fantastic. Great mechanics, and easy to teach.

Portent's Peril is also a great scenario. Mechanically decent, but the story's just cool.

I have a Savage Technologist 1/Bramble Brewer 10 in PFS, and her AC is through the roof. It's a self-buffing monster that can stack AC and Strength buffs all the way.

My favourite is still the Occultist. I had one for PFS until he retired, and he might be my favourite character ever. Abjuration implement, put as many points in there as possible, use Mind Barrier whenever you can. I've survived so many ridiculous things, it's not even funny. And he can still dish out damage through Bane effects and the like.


VCs are (usually) chosen with a reason. Either they have knowledge about the subject, or advance some metaplot. For you, it would've made sense to kick his ass as soon as you saw him, but for other people who haven't played that scenario yet, he's just a VC. In the bigger picture, it's important to know that this guy was part of the Society before he turned coat. Erasing him from the scenario undermines the effect of that reveal. Your reaction would've been totally different if you had played these scenarios in the "intended" order.

Speaking of which, the nonlinearity of PFS is just a thing you'll have to put up with. Events are supposed to unfold in a specific order. The fact that the character doesn't necessarily follow the story the same way but the player might, is just something you have to live with. As alluded to above, the Eyes of the Ten arc will put certain people in a different light, but it's simply not done to act on that information when playing older scenarios. Like Billy Pilgrim, PFS agents are "unstuck in time," experiencing bits of story semi-randomly. You have to imagine your character is in that specific point in time, without knowledge of the future that the player might have. Attacking a VC because "he does something in the future" isn't a thing. To you, at that moment, he's just another VC, despite what your chronicle sheets might say. It might've been a transformative experience for you, but this is exactly the reason why you can't bring information from a different scenario to your current scenario. You can't act on information you're not supposed to have, even if it's supposed to fit into your backstory. That's also why my characters don't refer to past scenarios in their backstory, as it might spoil something for other characters.


They technically go on their own initiative, hence Improved Initiative being a legal feat for them, but it's such a hassle to keep track of in initiative. Say I have a companion and go on different initiatives:
I win initiative: Companion, attack creature A!
Everyone else is first, creature A is already dead. Companion's turn is wasted.

Companion wins initiative: Doesn't have a meaningful action to take, so just stands there until he's directed. Will usually delay until he gets a command.

In the second instance, your companion is usually tied with your initiative. In the first example, it can be outright unhelpful. So the common practice around here is to just have it act on your own initiative. There's one guy who specifically asks his eidolon to act on its own initiative, as it's smart enough to think on its own, and I understand his rationale, but it's still much more convenient to have them act on the same count.

Fromper wrote:
11. Gripplis: Maybe it's just me, but I think these frog guys should have names that sound like they're croaking, not speaking. I have two of them, named Grrprr and Kubbup.

Funny, my preference for Grippli names is that they're basically gentlemanly-sounding names. But I realise I'm an outlier, and throaty names do sound more Grippli-like. I just love my Grippli named Bartleby. Similarly, Halflings usually get Victorian elite-sounding names.


Monstrous Mount is pretty much only available to Rangers, Paladins, and Cavaliers. Regular animal companions won't do. Would that be the one you're looking for?


The same thing happened to my group. We played high tier, Undead arc. Michiko and two Dullahans, in the room with the rift. When we walked past it, we knew we were in for trouble. The boss is incredibly powerful of itself, and a source of healing will only complicate things. It was an incredibly tough fight, but we managed to survive simply by blocking their access to the rift. With a more mobile opponent like a dragon that might be a different thing, but if she's camping the healing spot, she's at least not hurting the PCs. They can fire ranged weapons and spells at her, and buff as well. And yeah, if the healing isn't in the same place as the fight, I don't really see why they wouldn't chase her, unless they're in pretty bad shape themselves. Still though, a retreating enemy can call for backup, best practice is to chase after it.


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Blake's Tiger wrote:
The negative attitude toward Dual-Cursed oracles expressed in this thread is surprising to me.

The way I see it, it's a popular and powerful option that's much better than simlar options at the same level, and even far beyond that. Slumber Witches also get a lot of hate, simply because that hex is much more powerful than any other regular Hexes available at level 1. It's about on par with Ice Tomb, in that both Hexes, if successful, completely neutralise a combat encounter. Ice Tomb has some rider effects, but the main thing is that paralysed/unconscious effect. Most really powerful Oracle Revelations come at level 7+ or 12+ or something like that. and as Lau said, for some reason Fortune becomes available 4 levels later, and only works on yourself (with extra uses down the line). If the abilities had been switched (self-reroll once per day at 1 and further, other reroll at 5), it seems much more reasonable.

Also, while there are many shutdown abilities, it's very feel-bad. Colour Spray knocks out enemies, Hold Person makes them useless, and so on. But Misfortune is rubbing salt in the wound: you know something would have succeeded, and you deflected it. for GMs, that can become an uphill struggle. In the back of your head, you know that as long as that Oracle is in the party, your monsters will most likely keep missing their attacks or failing their saves. you can only prepare that many Hold Persons, but Misfortune is unlimited. It's basically like the difference between black and blue in Magic: the Gathering. Blue has access to counterspells, black has creature kill spells. I completely accept the risk of my creatures getting killed before they've done something useful, as at least they've wasted my opponent's resources. But I get irrationally angry when my creatures get counterspelled. In essence, it's the exact same thing, but the other player basically saying, "nope, you don't get to have any fun" feels much worse. That's the frustrating thing about Misfortune: you see the potential your monsters would've had, but every time you see your player going, "nope, let's try that again." I also have a very deep-rooted hatred against Mental Block, much more so than Colour Spray. At least Colour Spray finishes fights. Mental Block gives the opponents the illusion they've still got a chance, but in essence they're completely gimped. All they can do is swing their sword. And while full-BAB classes don't care that much, it's still very feel-bad on the GM's end.


I've GMed for several Dual-Cursed Oracles (pretty much 75% of all Oracles I've seen), and I sort of agree with Faan. Forcing rerolls is very, very powerful. At first I was annoyed with them, but by now it's more a weary resignation. I don't whine about it because I've accepted it by now, but I do think it's way stronger than any other option available.

As for your GMs, all of that is very much not done. The tricky part of the Oracle is that it forces all the rolls the GM makes to be out in the open, because it's technically "before the results are revealed." That means you need to be able to see the dice ("okay, you're going to have to reroll that 18"), which takes away some of the mystery of the GM. Because now you can calculate its exact to-hit or save or such. Basically, it turns the game from regular Pathfinder into a "guess the modifier" game. "Okay, my monster rolled a 12 on the die to hit you. Your AC is 25. Do you want to risk this?" If the game's played properly, until every enemy has been targeted with Misfortune, there is no secret information anymore and slows the game down immensely.

I was looking this up for a PFS scenario, and I stumbled upon some weird wording. It seems like in some cases, the rulebook (as well as some adventure paths and PFS scenarios) uses "difficult terrain" and "two squares of movement" interchangeably. But do they mean the same thing, or are they separate entities, meaning they can overlap?

For instance, difficult terrain is only really referenced here:

Exploration & Movement wrote:
Hampered Movement: Difficult terrain, obstacles, and poor visibility can hamper movement (see Table: Hampered Movement for details). When movement is hampered, each square moved into usually counts as two squares, effectively reducing the distance that a character can cover in a move.

Also, the bog rules say this:

Bog wrote:
If a square is part of a shallow bog, it has deep mud or standing water of about 1 foot in depth. It costs 2 squares of movement to move into a square with a shallow bog, and the DC of Acrobatics checks in such a square increases by 2.

They have the same effect, with the bog having an extra rider effect on it (the Acrobatics). Should I treat bog as regular difficult terrain, or as its own thing? Meaning, if it's somehow made difficult terrain as well (through, for instance Entangle), would each square count as four?

Also, I wanted to use Solid Fog as an example, but that has yet another different wording:

Solid Fog wrote:
(...) Creatures moving through a solid fog move at half their normal speed and take a -2 penalty on all melee attack and melee damage rolls. (...)

So, basically, walking through Solid Fog while Entangled, in a Bog is one-eigth movement? This is an extreme example, obviously, but I've certainly seen two of the three happen.

Also, this is just an example, I'm sure there are more cases like this, this just came to mind. Should all of these things stack, or should I just treat them as variations on the theme of difficult terrain?


If you're running for credit, there's not much you can do. You have to stay by the book. Either do a pregen-only run with that character (not much fun), or everyone starts a new character. That is, assuming you don't have the money to raise that person.

If you're 100% sure your players won't play that character outside of your group, you could play "off the record," so to speak. Let the player make a level-appropriate character, treat PFS as a home campaign and don't hand out chronicle sheets and such, but still hand out money and XP. But that's some serious rules bending I wouldn't recommend, as that'd spoil multiple people's fun, possibly also outside of your playgroup. Say you run an adventure "off the record," and a player later plays that scenario again "officially," a lot of metagaming will happen. There's a reason why PFS only allows you to play scenarios once (apart from boon farming).

TL;DR: In the case that you can't raise the character, either everyone rolls up new characters, or break several rules of PFS. I know which I'd prefer.

Or start a separate home campaign where you can use a pregen if you don't want to continue with the "main campaign." The advantage of PFS is that you don't have to come up with a plot, and there's less tie-in with your characters, but if everyone understands it's either that or no game at all, players will accomodate.

Another option is to do a short one-off with your main campaign, but also with a pregen. Do a flash-forward, a flashback, dream sequence, whatever. Something that's inconsequential to the main story currently going on (but might make reference to later on), but also easily broken off when the entire group reconvenes. The only downside is a slight lack of focus, as players won't be in the "flow" of the narrative anymore.

Yeah, of course it'll drop off at higher levels, but still. Up until that point, it'll be tough. Say you're level 5 and have an INT of 18. That's a +9 on concentration. A first-level spell will be on an 8+. That's still a 35% chance of failure. Hell, even cantrips have a one in four chance of failing. That's quite a lot. Some builds start with an INT of 14 or 16, so that check's even tougher. I'd probably retrain it around level 8-9 or so, yeah, but up to that point, I'd say it's pretty valuable. My Shaman stands in melee and casts 4th-level spells defensively without even rolling, because I've invested in my Wisdom, but I think Magi have other priorities than to overinvest in their casting stat. Kurald's document also recommends retraining it at later levels, implying it's at least useful until mid-level.

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I don't think exact alignment is known, that's just a game abstraction. People would, however, be able to see if they've got more in common with Iomedae's values or Urgathoa's values, for instance, and extrapolate from there. No one will ever outright say they're evil or chaotic, as no one is the villain in their own story. But they might recognise they don't place much stock in "common" values.
Paladins might reproach people for not living up to society's standards (and maybe some Clerics), but other than that, I don't think anyone cares too much what alignment people are. They might disagree with other people's alignments if they clash with their own.
Other than that, I'm not sure if people even care about their own alignment, much less someone else's. Some evil people might have the presence of mind to realise they might be damning their soul, but those people usually prefer immediate gratification over long-term happiness. Either they don't care about the afterlife, or haven't thought about it long enough to change their ways.


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I still want to make a Dwarf Alchemist who uses Mutagen for extra CON. Gotta hit that 3 Charisma someday.


I've always seen it used that retrieving an item that you usually wouldn't have combat-ready (say for the sake of argument a second set of clothes) is a full-round action, but I can't find it anymore in the rules. But "retrieve a stored item" is the closest I can find in the rules. Apparently I've been doing that wrong, for the three times that's come up.


If you retrieve it, it's in your hand. Wands are in a belt pouch or something (or a bandolier), you need to fumble with the drawstrings to get it. You get it out, it's ready to be used. Needing an extra move action to go from "retrieved" to "equipped" seems unnecessary when it's already in your hand.

I like to avoid the term "equip" unless it specifically goes into a slot (similarly, Pathfinder gets weird about the term "wielding" versus "using," best to keep it simple). If you're not wearing a ring for some reason, it'd be an action to retrieve it (either a full-round if it's stored safely, or a move when it's somewhere on your body), and a separate action to equip it.

I'm going to make a case for Shamans:
First of all, I think most animal-like characters make for great Shamans, as they're more tribalistic than other races. Shamanism is the embodiment of tribalism and mysticism. Flavourwise, I think that's a home-run. You'll be going fore more of a calm, collected Vanara, rather than a trickster, though.
If you go with the Lore Spirit (as either your main or your wandering), you can take Benefit of Wisdom as your Hex and be amazing at knowledges. Combined with Tree Stranger, you can really embody the wise old mentor trope (sort of like Rafiki from Lion King). You don't really have the INT to go as wide as a Wizard, but still.
Favored Class Bonus is really nice as well. The Shaman list is sweet, but it's missing some key spells. Although you add them later than you'd like, having access to, for instance, Blessing of Fervor, Freedom of Movement, or the Communal spells like Resist Energy are really nice. Adding these to your spell list will really make you stand out compared to other Shamans, as well as add to your spell power.

The -2 to Charisma isn't ideal, especially considering Shamans are partially dependent on Charisma, but it's more an off-stat. There are a handful of Hexes that key off it, but you can avoid them. Your Spirit Ability also has a number of uses depending on your Charisma, but I've never used it more than once or twice each day in PFS. It's nice to have, but it isn't terrible if you tank it to an 8, or lower.


Ah, I see my first mistake. For some reason, D20pfsrd lists its bite damage as +22, while the Bestiary gives a +12. That already solves a lot of confusion. Weird, d20pfsrd is usually pretty accurate.

Looking at it more, I indeed see a pattern. Constrict damage is then either also 12 (equal to the melee attack), or correct at the listed 18 if you do one and a half times its modifier. I think I've read there are some inconsistencies about how to apply constrict damage, as I think it usually supposes 1.5 times Strength score, even though it doesn't specify. A Shambling Mound does +5 damage on each attack, but constricts at +7. Tome of Horrors has a Gloom Crawlerwith a +7 damage and a similar +7 constrict. But then again, a lot from that book is weird and funky. But also other Bestiary monsters do the same (Yaoguai has +6 damage and constrict), but also some that function like half Strength (Gray Ooze has +4 damage, but +1 constrict, on 16 Strength). I'm just going to assume a 1.5 damage modifier, as that's the only thing I can make sense of here.


I'll most likely be running this again soon (2.5 weeks or so), and it seems like it'll be high tier. Kintrik already mentioned how Odol is weirdly statted, but the Sea Serpent also looks funky in high tier:
- Its name suggests it's young, most of its stats seem to reflect that, but its to-hit is the same, yet its damage output is very weird, compared to the Bestiary entry. His bite damage goes from +22 in the Bestiary to a +10 in the scenario (plus the loss of the 19-20 crit range). Should I recalculate its stats from the Bestiary entry, or keep this as-is? As-is, it's a lot less threatening, missing out on 12 damage output.
- Also, his size doesn't seem to decrease. Bestiary entry is Gargantuan (20x20), scenario Huge (also 20x20). I assume that's supposed to be 15x15.

When determining the Young statistics, how do I calculate the constrict damage? Constrict says it's usually based on its melee attack, but I can't find any direct relation between them. Based on the Bestiary entry, its bite does 4d8+22, its tail does 3d6+6, but the constrict does 3d6+18. How does that scale down? Should I just decrease the damage die by one and subtract 4-6 damage from the static damage? Same goes for the Swallow Whole damage, actually.

Also, the advanced Elasmosaurus also doesn't seem to fully line up with the properly advanced Bestiary entry.

I'm torn between keeping it as-is and keeping it easy, or have a tough time recalculating this beast.

Thanks in advance.


Agree with Ragoz, "Items that can save your life in 201X" is pretty much all you need. Still though, things I usually buy sooner or later:
- Potion of Fly
- Antiplague and Antitoxin
- Potion of Remove Blindness
- Scrolls of Lesser Restoration
- If you're a weapon user, Oils of Bless Weapon. Also, different types of weapon (piercing/bludgeoning), different metals (cold iron, silver, adamantine), and a ranged option.
- The aforementioned Cloak.
- A dagger, or a gladius if you're proficient with them. Gotta cut myself out if I'm swallowed whole. Also, a one-handed weapon for grapples. I've seen several new players being absolutely frustrated when they can't wield their earth breaker anymore and they didn't know the grapple rules.
- A sap, if you're familiar with them. Taking a -4 can sometimes be pretty harsh, but if nonlethal is a must, this is probably your best option.

The first few levels are usually a moneysink for future-proofing yourself. I usually grab a mithral armour around level 4-5, then go for an adamantine weapon, then make it magical. I'm free to spend money on actual fun things (stat up items) around level 7 or so. I've been bitten in the ass before when I didn't have a +1 weapon at level 5, but that's life.
I don't even carry alchemist fires and acid flasks anymore, even though I know swarms are a thing. They're usually only a thing on very low-levels, and their high AC makes damaging them if you don't have Burning Hands a nightmare. +4 to hit at level 2-3 or so against an AC 17 swarm is useless. I've spent 100 gp trying to hit a swarm, none of which hit, at level 1 once. That's pricey. And there's a nasty swarm at level 5 or so, but by then that thing has 30 HP and an Alchemist Fire will barely hurt them. Though maybe I should pack some acids in case of trolls... >_>


I saw an interesting question on Reddit adjacent to this, and having played this yesterday, I was wondering something:
Are players allowed to target one of Pahg-Vahr's heads as separate creatures, or is it a "package deal"? Normally you can't, as most spells spell out individual creatures as targets, and Ettins are still one creature. But if that's the case, why is only one head cursed? I'm not calling the authors out as cheats, but was it in this case intended to treat both heads as separate entities, despite the entry not allowing it as such?

When I played this yesterday (thanks to Mr Bonkers, above), we specifically called out our spells (Feeblemind and Blindness/Deafness, both of which landed) to only hit the cursed half of the creature. We weren't sure if it worked, but at least I figured that if a curse managed to curse only half the creature, I could do as well.

My go-to will always be a Cleric, as I love being helpful. Spontaneous Cures is fantastic. The domains and also mean even characters with the same deity could have vastly different abilities.

As an extension of that, Shamans. Witches have only a handful of good Hexes, I feel, but Shamans get spirit-related Hexes. Granted, not all of them are equally good, but it can really help customise and differentiate your build. Also, I think I prefer this spell list to the Witch's. It's a little trickier, but IMHO much more fun.

Bards. I just really like being support, and seeing everyone become better simply by you being there feels amazing. Plus, a sweet spell list.

Occultist is also really fun. Managing all your Mental Focus is tricky at first, but it's really rewarding. Melee Occultists are amazing.


Quick question: I've been using Anointing Oil on my Shaman for a while, but then I realised it's from the Advanced Race Guide and it's originally for Aasimars. The Additional Resources have the following to say:
Racial equipment and magic items can be purchased and used by any race as long as the specific item permits it (for example, only halflings can purchase and use solidsmoke pipeweed).

What, exactly, makes an item permit other races to use it? In the pipeweed example, is it the fact that non-Halflings can't use it without getting sick that makes them unable to use it, or am I missing something? Basically, what I'm asking is, basically, can a non-Aasimar use Anointing Oil?


The best subsystems are the ones your players aren't aware they're playing a subsystem. Sun Orchid Scheme is so elegant your players won't even notice they're playing a two-hour minigame. The rules flow so simply, it's just a natural cause-effect kind of thing. As a GM, you don't even have to explain the rules. While To Seal the Shadow has the players bombarded with rules and have you recalculating your skills. And even in prepping, the GM only has to look at the Heist Flowchart and immediately understand how it's supposed to go.

The first few instances of Chases varied from time to time because the rules weren't completely codified yet, and around season 6 or so they thought they needed an update, so even the more modern chases vary from the "official" rules.


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Tallow wrote:

Frankly, it isn't the scenarios and crazy classes that have had me GM very, very rarely since November 2016. (I think I've GM'd 4, maybe 5 sessions since then.)

Its the power creep and rules bloat and players bringing all kinds of craziness to the tables that just obliterate all my hard work in prepping things. I don't enjoy that. Sure, I can make it fun by bringing story and roleplay. But its a hollow fun for me, and after awhile, hollow fun just becomes hollow.

I'll be GM'ing mostly Starfinder in the future I think.

Okay, I understand power creep, but combating rules bloat by hopping onto an entirely new roleplay system is kind of ironic.

In all seriousness, I do understand the sentiment. Occult classes especially have lots more rules text than the standard classes, but I'm in favour of introducing classes step by step. I'm sure people were complaining when the Alchemist and Witch came out. And before that, the Core classes were also brand new. The only advantage they had was that they piggybacked a lot on 3.5. There just happen to be a lot more moving parts on the new classes. But it's just class literacy. You have to start somewhere, otherwise people will never learn how the classes work. I'm sure it'll lessen over time. Like others said, one class per scenario is enough.

I would, however, like to see some kind of support in how some NPCs are supposed to work. The Morale box gives an outline of what kind of actions they take, but not their mechanical benefit. Test of Tar Kuata has a Monk with a very unique set of feats, some of which I'd never seen in action before. Mechanically I knew what they did, but it never really clicked together. I really had to go through her statblock to see what her feats all did. And while the majority of her feats are pretty simple, there's still 15 (!) of them I had to check to see how they interacted. Or similarly, Sun Orchid Scheme (released 19 months after the release of the Advanced Class Guide) has an Investigator that still perplexed a lot of GMs about what it's supposed to do in combat. The classes all become fairly easy to memorise once you've played them a bit, but until that point, there's still loads of class features you're unfamiliar with. I'd recommend for the first year since the release of new classes, you keep them at level 3 max or so so people can get familiar with what they do at low-level first. You can even give class levels to monsters to up their CR. I just fought an Elemental with Barbarian levels, that already added quite some complexity. I remember how my GM for All for Immortality thanked me for not fighting [redacted], for she had class levels the GM was completely unfamiliar with. The class writeup spanned over a page (nearly 2, with sidebar and flunkies included). Her tactics also unhelpfully include that she has many different things she can do.

Anyway, in some cases, I think some help in clarifying an encounter would be welcome. Maybe not necessarily in the scenario itself, but somewhere a writeup about how a fight is intended to go would help alleviate a lot of the complaints mentioned above. Maybe in an appendix you can choose to ignore if you're familiar with the class (maybe something called "GM tips" or something), or maybe in the accompanying GM thread.

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