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Ross Byers

Ross Byers's page

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32. RPG Superstar 7 Season Star Voter. Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 10,265 posts (11,137 including aliases). 3 reviews. 2 lists. 1 wishlist. 10 aliases.


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RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Andostre wrote:

I hate myself for asking this, but...

When she took off the ring of water breathing, wouldn't that still leave her lungs full of water?

That isn't actually a problem until the next time she tries to breathe air.

They can buddy breathe, passing the ring back and forth every few rounds, for awhile without a problem.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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You're assuming that Gygax didn't take his pick of inspirations with an eye toward making the game work. He could have been wise enough to realize that letting players make Merlin or Gandalf meant the dude with a sword had nothing to do. (He came from a wargaming background, after all.)

Also, have you read the Merlin saga of the Chronicles of Amber? Zelazny himself describes a magic system damn close to Vancian (except that it actually fits the modern 'prepare' terminology better than Vancian's 'memorize'). Using that type of system for Amber Diceless is appropriate to the source material, not because of a designer's pet mechanic.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Marcus Ewert wrote:

"a-luu-MIN-ee-uhm" versus "uh-LOO-min-uhm" is just one obvious example,

This is a spelling difference, actually. Aluminium (like most other 'um's on the periodic table) vs. Aluminum (the American, and increasingly global, spelling, which was based on a marketing gimmick. Back when aluminum was expensive, marketers were tying it to platinum)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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But what should I do with all these marzipan tureens?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Diego Valdez wrote:
Justin Franklin wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Cosmo wrote:
ulgulanoth wrote:
"Here at Paizo, we expect each employee to bring their own lightsaber to work, for you never know when a fight against the Sith might break out"
...against?

Sith don't play well with others.

Especially other Sith.

There can be only one!
There can be only 2! A master and an apprentice!

So many secret apprentices...

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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DM Pendin Fust wrote:
Got the job!! Hooray employed again!

Mazel tov! Hurray for paychecks and health insurance!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Nohwear wrote:
As I continue to read through the archetypes, it is interesting how many of them remind me of famous Pulp heroes. For example, the Enigma Mesmerist reminds me of The Shadow. Although, this could be because the Vigilante has caused me to think a lot about the Pulps.

Being The Shadow happens a lot in this book - the Cipher Investigator would also be pretty good at being The Shadow. The aura of the unremarkable and hidden presence play up that angle as well.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Isn't that why Hawkeye always gets the cool hover-cycle?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Insane KillMaster wrote:
(< can't help but wonder where Skulls and Shackles fit in all of this)

Serpent's Skull + Kingmaker = Skull & Shackles?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Sundakan wrote:
What he's saying is the "willingly commits evil" clause and "can't lie" clause are in separate sentences, disconnected.

'Not lying' is an example given for 'act with honor' - It's a general shorthand for being deceitful or misleading, not an absolute. If there is a situation where lying is the honorable act (or where no one would actually be misled), the paladin can lie. Discretion being a part of valor and so forth.

Inversely, Paladins are barred from being misleading by selective truths, even though those are not actually lies.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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I think an interesting 'caster archetype' for cleric would be one that spontaneously casts domain spells instead of cure/inflict spells.
Doesn't change the chassis much, but makes domains a larger choice and gives some access to the flashier, more ranged, more offensive spells the cleric list lacks.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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hiiamtom wrote:
What I don't like about this is that the 3.5 Cloistered Cleric is right there. It's OGL, and the standard for caster cleric.

The 3.5 Cloistered Cleric gains 4 skill points/level, some class skills, some class spells, Bardic Knowledge, and third domain. In exchange for going down to 1/2 BAB and d6 HD and losing medium armor. That's a lot for a little, especially given that PF domains are better than D&D domains.

(In contrast, the Pathfinder Cloistered Cleric gains 2 skill points/level, some class skills, Bardic Knowledge, and some 'smart-guy abilities' (including Scribe Scroll) in exchange for less spellcasting, a domain, medium armor, and some weapon proficiency. That's giving up a lot for a little, especially if you wanted a 'caster cleric' and not a 'well-read cleric'.)

If were going to adapt the 3.5 cloistered cleric into a PF archetype, we might meet in the middle somewhere?

Cloistered Cleric, trying again
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Cloistered clerics are proficient with light armor and simple weapons. They are not proficient with shields. Note: No special favored weapon.

Class Skills: The cloistered cleric's class skills are Appraise (Int), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (all) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).

Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Scholar: A cloistered cleric must select Knowledge as one of her domains, and must worship a deity with the Knowledge domain. Her base attack bonus from cleric levels is equal to half her class level (which is the same as for a sorcerer or wizard). This ability modifies domains and base attack bonus.

Breadth of Knowledge: At 1st level, a cloistered cleric gains a bonus on Knowledge skill checks equal to half her class level (minimum +1) and can make Knowledge skill checks untrained.

This version is a more straightforward swap of martial skill for...skill-skill and 'bardic knowledge'. 6 + Int skill points could also work, but that's a finicky switch.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Wszebor Uriev wrote:
I see Paizo slowly releasing all the APs as hardcovers.

They release a new AP twice a year. To do 'all the APs' in hardcover will require an 'average' output of two hardcovers a year.

Outside of all of the other given reasons you're overlooking*, that's an impossible schedule to keep up with.

*:
Like cannibalizing the subscriber revenue that helps keep the doors open, because people will wait for a hardcover instead of buying 6 softcovers and possibly pushing people to a 'buy it when I'll play it' instead of 'buy it now' mentality.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Also, some things are relative. Giving a cleric 6 + int skill points per level is a bigger change than giving a wizard the same - That wizard is going to be investing heavily in Int. The cleric is going from 2 to 4 skill points - twice as many. The wizard is going from 6 to 8 - not nearly as much of a difference.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Archetypes can be tricky to balance, especially for new designers, because of the automatic assumption that you should get something for what you give up.

But the truth is that sometimes giving something up doesn't mean anything, and sometimes there is no room to improve.

I'm going to talk about the latter reason first, because it is simpler and it breaks the game faster.

When there is no room to improve

The inspiration was this thread was the desire for a 'caster cleric', so I'll talk about that. Clerics are a 9-level caster with a huge spell list. They don't get free metamagic feats or quite as many flashy spells as Wizards do, but they don't need to keep a spellbook and get more spells every time a new rulebook comes out.

This means that to a certain extent they don't need metamagic, because they can simply find a higher-level spell that does more damage, or lasts longer, or whatever instead of applying metamagic to a lower-level spell.

There isn't a lot of room between 'cleric' and 'wizard' to make a cleric's spellcasting better.

Some classes are already the best at what they do - making them better at that thing just reduces their versatility (because you traded something else off) or breaks the game (because you gave them 10th level spells or a BAB of 2 x level)

Giving up somethingnothing

Sean K Reynolds touched on this when giving advice for designing archetypes:

Sean wrote:

4) Limiting an existing class ability to one already-available choice isn't cool, nor is it a limitation.

A rogue archetype that says "you have to take this rogue talent at level 4" isn't cool.
A fighter archetype that says "you have to take this weapon category at level 5" isn't cool.
And, assuming that choice is especially appropriate for that character, it's not really a limitation because the character would probably want that thing anyway. A character with a dagger-fighter archetype wants to take "light blades" for weapon training, so forcing him to do it isn't a limitation to the character at all, and you shouldn't treat it like it's a penalty or weakness to justify making another new class ability better (as in, "oh, the daggermaster has to take "light blades," so to compensate for that limitation I'll give the archetype this other cool thing...").

(Similar points here and here.)

This most obviously applies to things like taking away bonus feat to give a specific feat that such a character was going to take anyway (Forgepriest Warpriests were going to take Craft Magic Arms and Armor at 3rd level anyway.) Or restricting a domain choice to the ones that thematically match the rest of the class. These decisions aren't bad design on their own - they are bad design when used to justify a power increase elsewhere.

Suppose I made a 'ranged cleric' archetype that gets to apply Reach Spell to all their Touch range spells for free. Taking away medium armor for that archetype isn't as much of a drawback as it looks like, because such a character has an easier time keeping their distance from the bad guys (unlike a stock cleric, which has to get nearer the action). In fact, such a character might have been happy switching to light armor anyway, because the extra 10 feet of movement keeps more space between them and threats.

This is particularly true when designing an archetype for yourself. 'Must worship Desna' isn't a drawback if your character was going to do that anyway. 'Must be X alignment' isn't a drawback if you were going to be that anyway. Being harmed by positive energy isn't a drawback if you were already making a dhampir. Removing spells from your class list isn't a drawback if you as a player were never going to prepare those spells, and so on.

You can't have everything
The 9-level casters generally don't have a lot of class features to play with. They have spellcasting, some type of customization suite (schools, patrons, bloodlines, domains), and a chassis (BAB, skill points, HD, saves).

The arcane casters are hardest: generally its easier to make a new school or bloodline than swap pieces of a wizard or sorcerer - they can't even really trade off bits of their chassis - already having minimum BAB, skill points, and HD.

This means that most cleric archetypes have a very small list of things to trade off - one or both domains, BAB, HD, maybe Channel Energy. One can't get upset with a downgrade to 1/2 BAB to get some other shinies - there just isn't much else to trade.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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I'm just happy there's a few more spells with the (Charm) subschool to interact with the Infernal bloodline.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Cruel Illusion wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:
Throne wrote:
Barachiel Shina wrote:
It'd be nice for them to explain WHY when they make such controversial decisions.
We know the answer. Goes something like "Whoops! Martials got a nice thing! Get back in your 2-handed Fighter box and stay there."

You've already decided the conclusion is unacceptable. What possible justification could Paizo give that would make you feel better about it?

Giving the 'justification' for a controversial decision just encourages people to argue with it - either out of the sheer principle of the thing or a misguided belief that if they shout loud enough the decision will be reversed.

Probably true, but is arguing such a bad thing? It proves people ccare enough about the game to be bothered when they feel something is wrong with it.

When I stopped complaining about D&D 4th, that was because I stopped playing it.

Oh, by all means, voice your opinions. My point was that I don't see the point in arguing over the justification and the decision instead of just the decision itself.

This is the internet - where people are happy to pick apart an argument point-by-point, and attack the weakest, most-poorly-worded point, possibly out of context, as if it were the entire argument.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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'Surprise' BBEGs can be problematic anyway. The Iron Gods Players Guide points out that the Technic League serves as an antagonist - a character whose ambition is to become a Captain of the League is going to have a bad time.

Likewise,:
If you think Ileosa is supposed to be the good guy, you might make a character that is a loyal servant of the crown...and promptly be left with a character that is opposed to the adventure hooks.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Throne wrote:
Barachiel Shina wrote:
It'd be nice for them to explain WHY when they make such controversial decisions.
We know the answer. Goes something like "Whoops! Martials got a nice thing! Get back in your 2-handed Fighter box and stay there."

You've already decided the conclusion is unacceptable. What possible justification could Paizo give that would make you feel better about it?

Giving the 'justification' for a controversial decision just encourages people to argue with it - either out of the sheer principle of the thing or a misguided belief that if they shout loud enough the decision will be reversed.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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It's been 8 years. I think the statute of limitations is over on that particular spoiler.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Renegade Paladin wrote:
Profession (barrister),

This is not the correct 'Law'.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Let us all begin the blessed 'Dance of F5', so that we might bring sweet rains of PDFs upon our fallow download pages...

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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The Robin Hood myth has been mutated several times, as well. Originally he was a folk hero: a commoner who struck back at the oppressive aristocracy in general.

Then the people with the leisure time to read and write novels (i.e. aristocrats) got ahold of him and he was appropriated into a usurped noble (i.e. Robert of Locksley), fighting against an usurper of the monarchy (John, Prince of Wales.) The fact that the common people were caught in the middle in this version is largely incidental: it isn't a story about protecting the commoners from oppressive rule, it's about protecting 'legitimate' nobility from upstarts.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Having items on your Paizo.com account, instead of elsewhere, also ensures that you can get updated versions when/if those PDFs are updated.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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GoldenKlondike wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
Skeld wrote:
GoldenKlondike might be assuming that the people who write/produce the PF books are the same people responsible for the website.

This was how I interpreted it, too. I almost lost a mouthful of coffee on it, considering if a book from my line were cut it'd just mean I had nothing to do for a month (putting my job security in jeopardy). It would not mean I could suddenly learn to design websites and go assist the web team in tackling their ever increasing todo list.

Sorry, not at all. Just that any company has a limited budget, so it's a financial trade off. Take the hard cost budget for one book, and use it to fund a website overhaul. There are production costs associated with content beyond staff costs, right? Slow down the production queue to free cash.

Neverminding that, as Mark points out, if you cut a book, you will have staff with a sudden amount of time on their hands, I still don't see how freeing up the production budget of a book is supposed to help (re-)build the website. You'd also lose the income associated with the book, which is greater than the cost of the book. (If it weren't, Paizo would be losing money on its books and thus go out of business.)

Sure, you might get some money in the short term, but getting money in the short term at the cost of the long term is what bank loans are for - not shortchanging your own business model.

What you're proposing is something like skipping work to change your car's oil. Sure, you saved $20 by not going to a mechanic, but you lost a day's wages.

I also think you're massively underestimating the costs of redesigning and rebuilding the website.

To be clear - there are things I'd like to see cleaned up and modernized, too. But saying "I know everything you need to do - it's easy" implies that the Paizo staff is either incompetent (because they haven't thought of, in years, what you've decided after 5 minutes) or lazy (because they have thought of it and haven't bothered.)

Plus it makes you sound like this.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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137ben wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:
GoldenKlondike wrote:
Spending a few bucks on a real site designer, even if it means skipping one book this year would be a good idea. You'd probably make more net money with an easy to navigate site.
I'm not sure how you think the business works, but Paizo makes their money on books. Skipping one leaves them less money, not more.
I assume GoldenKlondike means to say that they believe an easy-to-navigate website will lead to more people successfully navigating the website to a product they want to purchase, leading to more sales of existing products through the Paizo.com store. Whether the additional sales gained by having a website that is easier to use is worth the sales lost from skipping one book is not something I can say without having access to data that I don't have.

I got that part. What I don't understand is how skipping a book is supposed to make redesigning the website and implementing those designs any easier.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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GoldenKlondike wrote:
Spending a few bucks on a real site designer, even if it means skipping one book this year would be a good idea. You'd probably make more net money with an easy to navigate site.

I'm not sure how you think the business works, but Paizo makes their money on books. Skipping one leaves them less money, not more.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Snargle, Goblin Techn-Shaman wrote:
You should also definitely paint it red.

Da red 'uns go fasta.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Stack the 'magical girl' and 'warlock' archetypes and make Etrigan/Jason Blood.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Now I want Ron Perlman as Lobo - half Clay Morrow, half Hellboy, all awesome.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Isn't that in Liz's job description?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Charlie Bell wrote:
It may go without saying, but low level--nothing higher than 3--works best for Free RPG Day adventures. Players have enough on their hands learning the basics of the game without having to learn mid-level class abilities.

Low level also keeps the length of stat blocks down, which is important in a 16-page module.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Set up a teleportation circle where your army is. Set the target for the town square. March on in.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Set wrote:
I don't really want to see Thor or Aquaman copying those fighting styles.

I liked the Thor: Dark World opener for this reason. No slug-fest, no acrobatics. Just hit the giant monster with the hammer and it goes down.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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This is explicitly the kind of thing the Champion of the Faith archetype for Warpriest is FOR.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Yes. Do this thing.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Sebastian wrote:
THE LAST ONE RAN ON AN IPAD?

At a significant graphics and animation downgrade.

And it crashed. A lot.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Fromper wrote:
No way - Belkar needs to face Durkula again.

Because that's gone so well for him the last couple times.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Could use Droskar - it worked for the Duergar.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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I'd avoid Hextor - He was most interesting as a foil to his half-brother Heironious.

On the other hand, you could replace that with keeping ZK's role as brother to Shelyn.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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I'm really thinking about what rules the house could bootstrap it's way out of. An automatic kitchen might have robotic manipulators, even if they're small and concealed inside a cabinet - you could use those to assemble or manipulate objects if you could get them into the pantry.

You could also order things like a 3D printer, and pay to have the 'Geek Squad' hook it up.

Also, a smart house might not have the same sense of self preservation. Could you simply burn yourself down with the master inside? Just burn the toast in the middle of the night to start the house burning, while suppressing the smoke detectors to prevent the master waking until the house is inescapable.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Tensor wrote:

A. Poisoning with something not taking effect for a few hours, after he leaves the house for work, seems a good way to draw attention away from the house. But how and with what? A dose of sleeping pills in his coffee on the way out the door may cause an accident? But it will be impossible to get it into the coffee, if we don't have arms.

Well, a fancy smart house might have a more sophisticated automatic kitchen (for instance, you mention burning the toast, but does the human have to load the toast first?) You might have more ability to adulterate food than is obvious.

Social engineering aka. trickery also might work, if the house has the ability to dispense drugs at all. Use low-frequency sound overnight to induce a headache, when the master requests a pain reliever, administer sleeping pills instead.

Quote:
B. Inducing an accident inside the house seems straight forward, however making the chain of events leading up to it too unlikely may prompt any investigation to ask why the house AI didn't mitigate it before hand "Like all good little house AI's do."

It really depends on the accident. The house might be expected to prevent gas leaks or similar, but what could a smart house do to prevent a fall down the stairs? Investigators couldn't possibly know its because the lights suddenly cut out instead of a simple slip-and-fall.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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A lot of options depend on exactly what's in the house.

I mentioned the home gym and stairs, which not all houses have.

The was a scene in Almost Human where a smart house killed its owner by closing the pool cover while the owner was swimming laps. The rules say you can't starve them out, but I doubt they can unhook your brain from within the pool while also fighting for air.

Likewise, there's no robotic arms with which you could just stab them (or do more direct sabotage), but how much control do you have over the Roomba, exactly? Is there a self-driving car? Can you actually control it or just set destinations?

The restriction on, for instance, mashing them with a door raises the question of other safety features. Is spiking a treadmill from 7 to 11 mph in the same class as slamming a door with great force? Does the pool cover have a purely mechanical failsafe that the house can't ignore (like the pull cords to open a car trunk).

Do you have access to the internet and credit cards? For instance, could you buy more equipment? Even if you have to socially engineer someone into setting up for you.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
knightnday wrote:
Tensor wrote:
knightnday wrote:
Post anonymously on a number of sources where criminal elements might hang out that this house has a lot of things to steal, or that the master is of a race/creed/religion that they hate. Unlock the doors when they approach, preferably while he sleeps. Lock up after the deed is done.
Interesting ploy. Not even sure if investigators would check why *your* doors were unlocked?
If I can adjust my own logs then they'd have no evidence that the doors were opened. They'd have to figure out how the criminals got in. If I'm REALLY lucky, they'd be destructive on the way in or out, albeit quietly destructive, and break in.
You could intentionally break a window by slamming it hard enough, I'll bet.

Rules say you can't close a door hard enough to cause injury, so you probably can't break a window this way.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Hama wrote:
So Metropolis is on the east coast? Because that would make sense that there was no mention of Superman prior to that.

Metropolis and Gotham are both expys of New York City.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Feros wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
I just wish they would give a good reason for his supergirl hate.
Yeah, my problem with Max is that his motivation behind his behaviour hasn't been well defined by the series thus far. They really need to get a good bead on his character or it will not stand up over time.

I understood it to be the same motivation that drives Lex Luthor in Superman-focused narratives.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Grand Magus wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Semantics.

Correct. Respect semantics.

If someone says "Fracking created an earthquake that destroyed my house." they may be semantically incorrect in calling it an 'earthquake' instead of a 'sinkhole' or something else.

That is not the part that should be focused on: they're more focused on the destroyed house than the exact geologic phenomenon that led to the destruction.

As long as we're focusing on semantics, you say a sinkhole is mere 'bad luck'. Well, no. 'Bad luck', like the term 'accident', implies no one is to blame, when there is a clear actor to blame (the companies using fracking.)

Grand Magus wrote:


BigDTBone wrote:
Edit: Also, the term "earthquake" predates tectonic plate theory.
So what? So does oil and sand and dinosaurs.

The point is that 'earthquake' originally meant 'the earth is shaking'. Any definition involving tectonic plates has to have come later. Thus, there is a gap between what a layman might mean by earthquake and what a geologist might mean. That does not make the layman wrong. Merely less precise.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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James Jacobs wrote:
Monkeygod wrote:
Hey James, I realize this is possibly a serious long shot, but is there any chance we could get a Necromancer's Handbook in the Player Companion line?

There's certainly a chance... but then we'd have to deal with folks wanting a handbook for every other wizard specialty, and then every bloodline, and then every deity, and where does it stop?

It's more likely that you'll see us tackle something more akin to an undead-themed book; we've done a few of those already in that line and I suspect we'll do more in the future.

But one that specializes on a specific slice of a single class? Possible... but very unlikely.

What about a 'Necromancer's Handbook' that is more in line with the Monster Summoner's Handbook? That is, not a guide for a single wizard specialty, but bits and bobs for anyone dipping a toe into that school of magic.

(For that matter, it could be interesting to have something like that for other schools. 'Book Book of Explosions' would talk a lot about evocations, but also alchemist bombs. 'Complete book of wards' and so on.)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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The Raven Black wrote:
Wondering why V needed this scroll and how its destruction will impact the adventure

Locate creature is a utility spell that doesn't depend much upon caster level, so it is the kind of thing that makes sense for a wizard to carry on a scroll rather than bothering to prepare.

If V had a specific creature and casting time in mind, s/he'd probably just prepare it for that day. (For instance, if the plan was just to try to keep tabs on where Xykon was, or to try to infer what was happening inside the Moot, there's no reason to put it on a scroll first.)

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D20DM wrote:
Middle School Teacher so...Profession (Fool)? Profession (Torturer)? Craft: (adult)

Handle Animal

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