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Gearless characters are one of those things many people want. 'Vow of poverty' monks or ascetic clerics. A 'low-magic' style feel of not being festooned in system-required numerical bonuses. A desire for a character's accomplishments to be their own doing, not just their magic belt. And so on.
But the system fights this, and hard. There is a basic assumption in the CR tables that you've spent a certain amount of wealth on AC and save bonuses, or on improving your attack roll and damage (if you use attack rolls and weapon damage.)
A GM wishing to run a 'low magic' campaign can simply lower Wealth-per-level and use less powerful monsters, or perhaps just adjust AC, attack, and save DCs somewhat. But that isn't quite fair across the party: spellcasters and martial classes are affected by access to wealth differently. Spellcasters use magic items to save juice - Reducing their wealth simply shortens the adventuring day as more spell slots are spent on basic buffs and healing. Martial characters, in contrast, use magic items to gain new abilities: reducing their wealth increases the chances that a martial character is unable to affect the outcome of an encounter.
There have also been attempts to fit a gearless character into a party of more ordinary characters. These tend to have secondary problems. For instance the 'Vow of poverty' style solution where a character refuses to use gear in exchance for static bonuses. This approach requires the GM to adjust the wealth in their campaign, to avoid the other party members getting a larger share. Additionally, static numerical bonuses (like these approaches usually give) are only half the battle. They don't address the other things magic items can do, like flight or the use of other magical effects. In a way, they also cheapen the idea of a Vow of Poverty: if going without gets you the same result, then there is no sacrifice. (Set had an excellent commentary on Good getting all the toys here.)
Other solutions involve 'buying' magical bonuses by sacrificing/tithing/donating wealth. These solutions manage to avoid upsetting expected WBL, but are mechanically a bit hollow. It feels like a hack, because it is, and also kind of feels like just buying invisible magic items. (Incidentally, it also somewhat cheapens crafting feats.) Sometimes this approach involves magical tattoos or the like, which really do just become magic items under another name.
Gearless characters are also immune or more resistant to sundering, disarming, and dispelling effects, which is usually not the intent of these abilities, but should be considered when balancing them.
I don't have a solution. This thread is for discussion so we can find one.
This is spun off of some of the discussion of Pathfinder Unchained.
As written, planar binding has issues.
At the same time, it's easy to see why errata hasn't been issued - I have hard time imagining errata that would fit on the page, and address things like the wish loophole in a way that doesn't either arbitrarily limit some SLAs that are ok, or become an itemized list 'per monster'. And you'd still have the problem of a future book possibly breaking the spell.
In comparison, the summon monster (and summon nature's ally) spells use a curated list of monsters, checked for general power level and early access to spell-like abilities. The list doesn't get bigger with later monster books: instead new, different spells like eagle aerie, summon minor monster, or summon elder worm are necessary.
Likewise, Polymorph effects had similar problems in the 3.0 era. They were streamlined somewhat in 3.5, but was a monumentally flexible spell that got better and more flexible with every Monster Manual.
Pathfinder solved the problems with the polymorph spell by breaking it up like Ma Bell. It became a series of spells that granted access to specific forms, with clearly delineated powers. Beast shape i made simpler transformations like turning into a wolf possible at lower than 7th level, but eventually obsolesces like most spells (compared to 3.5 polymorph, which scaled smoothly up to 15th level). New monster books no longer inflated the powers of these spells unless specifically added and evaluated as a new spell. Individual powers could be evaluated on a better basis than 'how many HD does the critter have'. It was a much better paradigm for everyone but sorcerers, who now had to invest in more spells if they wanted to turn into many different shapes. I think that's fine: 'anyspells' should be limited for exactly that kind of reason, and it makes the 'shapeshifter sorcerer' invest in parallel spells in the same way that a 'fire sorcerer' or 'beguiler sorcerer' does. It promotes the ability to actually know what your spells do, instead of bringing the game to a halt to flip through 5 monster books in case there is one with <12 HD that would happen to solve the problems none of your other available spells can.
So, my proposal is this: break planar binding (and possibly planar ally) into a series of spells. Bind genie i could be lower-level and bind a janni, while bind genie iv (or whatever) could get an efreeti, and require 17th caster level to actually get a wish. Bind devil i could be limited to imps and lemures. You can mirror fantasy tropes and make it easier to bind demons/devils than angels, reducing the team red/team blue thing some alignment-based spells have now.
The more I think about it, the more I think that PCs aren't meant ot reach 20th level.
I mean, Pathfinder created capstones, which implies someone is supposed to get there, but spell progressions are weird about it.
9-level casters get a new spell level every other level. But there are no 10th level spells at level 19 (or level 20 for spontaneous casters)
6-level casters get a new spell level every third level. But there are no 7th level spells at 19th level.
4-level casters get a new spell level every fourth level. But there are no 5th level spells at 17th level.
To me, this really says that PCs are meant to peter out around 17th level: 20th level exists so you can have an NPC BBEG who challenges the whole party, but doesn't have a 'next tier' of spells in his spellbook the wizard will never get to play with.
When I ordered my copy of the Emerald Spire, I put it in my sidecart. But today I got my shipping notice for June subs and it wasn't included, so I came and checked on it, only to find it 'pending' as a separate order.
Not sure how that happened, but I did change my address a day or two ago. Maybe that popped it back out of the sidecart?
Anyway, can I get these orders combined to save on shipping?
Inner Sea Gods had a nice little chart of deities and which creatures serve them (if not necessarily exclusively), but I was sort of elaborating on that by thinking about which deities are essentially members of a given outsider race. That is, Erastil and Torag get along with archons, and have archon servants, but they aren't archons themselves.
Asmodeus is the ruler of Hell, and devils all work for him. Even if he isn't a proper Devil himself, being instead a fallen angel or a primordial deity that created the devils, there are several Archdevils that started as non-devils and now have devilish traits. Asmodeus almost certainly has the devil subtype, even if he wasn't 'born' with it.
Gozreh might be an aeon. (S)he is a primal force, and encompasses dualities: Male/female, Sea/Sky, and so on. But this is a stretch.
Lamashtu is a demon. There is no argument on this.
Nethys has to have become an Aeon: the duality thing is perfect, right down to deities being a paradox of immense power and the inability to use it directly. I suspect that Nethys's moment of ascension, when he achieved arcane omnipotence, tapped into the multiverse itself, which the aeons serve directly.
Pharasma can't possibly be anything other than the biggest and greatest of the psychopomp Ushers.
Rovagug is a qlippoth. This went from fan conspiracy theory to canonized. This may have been the truth all along, but James Jacobs has admitted that sometimes when your players come up with an evil plan better that what you have, it's often better to go with their theory as if it was right all along.
Sarenrae has to be an angel. I've debated with people if she's an ascended angel, or the first angel, or creator of the angels. But one way or another, she is an angel.
Zon-Kuthon is a kyton. Maybe Dou-Bral was corrupted by the same force that created the kytons. Maybe Zon-Kuthon created them, or adopted them based on a similar outlook. But like Asmodeus and devils, we can safely assume Zon-Kuthon has the kyton subtype.
Iomedae has been a deity for 800 years or so. But she wasn't one of the 'Core 20' for the Inner Sea until the disappearance of Aroden a century ago.
In the century since, Iomedae has become the paladin deity of Golarion. It makes me wonder how much of her ascension from patron saint/demigod to Core 20 deity has been a result of drawing paladins to the Worldwound, instead of merely filling the gap left by Aroden.
Please move the Lego TIE Fighter from order 3082249 (and now in my sidecart) to my pending subscription order 3077614 so that I can take advantage of the First 10 shipping promotion. I could not see how to do this myself during checkout.
(Also, my subscription confirmation email listed First 10 under the applied promotions, even though the order did not (quite) qualify and did not gain the benefits thereof.)
As discussed in an assortment of threads about crossbows and monk weapons, weapon proficiencies don't really work right.
Ross Byers wrote:
Exotic weapons are a mix of1) weapons that are mechanically superior to the 'martial' options, thus mechanically justifying a need for a feat. E.g. bastard sword, spiked chain, double weapons
2) 'Maneuver' style weapons that have a very different mode of use than 'put pointy end in that guy' (Whips, nets)
3) Weapons that aren't actually any better than the simple or martial list but are 'exotic' due to an assumed European baseline (monk weapons)
Martial weapons largely make sense, except the fact that so many classes have access to the whole list, which makes for some odd situations (see above quote).
Simple weapons mostly make sense: they're bludgeons, spears, and knives. A child knows how to use them just from looking at them. It you gave one to a chimpanzee, he'd probably be able to make good use of it.
Ranged weapons make no sense. Throwing a knife is way harder than just stabbing someone. Blowguns are not weapons any yahoo knows how to use. Slings take a good amount of practice to actually be good at. Crossbows might be relatively easy to teach, but they're certainly more complicated than a club. (The chimpanzee in the above paragraph would not know how to use a crossbow.) History tells us that becoming a good longbow archer was the work of a lifetime (even with modern compound bows, it takes a lot of practice to shoot effectively.) I'm less clear on where short bows fall in the difficulty spectrum.
Some of these can be rationalized, but the rationalizations don't make sense against the backdrop of the game as a whole: the rules most often apply to adventurers, so we can assume that if you're from a frontier town or you've decided to risk your life for a living, you taught yourself the sling as a child to hunt rabbits and pigeons, or you got the local sheriff to teach you how to shoot a crossbow.
Plus, the basic equivalency of Martial Weapon Proficiency and Exotic Weapon Proficiency, feat-wise means that you can get weird cases like a character learning how to use an exotic sword like a sawtooth sabre or a kopesh, but still be fumbling around with a normal sword.
1) Reshuffle misplaced weapons. Monk weapons go to martial/simple as appropriate. Most projectile weapons go up a level.
2) Just delete some redundant weapons. What was the last character you saw that used a shortbow? And darts are a relic of when Small characters couldn't use javelins properly. And the game doesn't really need a state where Rapid Reload and Special Weapon Proficency (Repeating crossbow) give the same effective benefit.
3) Relabel 'Exotic' weapons as 'Specialist' weapons, to get rid of the 'faraway land' connotation and to imply they're a cut above the more general weapons.
4) No more blanket proficiency. Martial weapons should be attached to Weapon Groups: the Martial Weapon Proficiency feat gets a whole group. Classes that currently get all martial weapons get a handful of weapon groups. Barbarians, cavaliers, paladins, etc. get three. Rangers get two, plus a special one determined by their combat style. For instance, for archers, they would get Special Weapon Proficiency (Longbow), see below. Fighters get four, because they're the weapon-masters. Perhaps they have some ability to trade one or two of these for a Special weapon, maybe they just reply on their supply of bonus feats.
5) Special Weapon Proficiency generally still gets only a single weapon: since it represents specialized training to learn the intricacies of that particular weapon. Some exceptions may exist, like Double Weapons can probably be a single feat. When appropriate, you must have martial proficiency with the relevant weapon group before getting a special version. No leapfrogging to tripping people with a khopesh without learning how longswords and short swords work. (Obviously, an exception is made when no martial weapons exist in a group, like bows.)
6) Weapon-specialized feats and class features apply to proficiency groups. That is, you take Weapon Focus (Swords) instead of Weapon Focus (Longsword)
Martial characters have skill with a wide breadth of weaponry, but allowing for regional or personal variation, and without requiring that every fighter have learned to fight with chains as well as swords.
For characters with only simple weapons (or with an even narrower list, like wizards) Martial Weapon Proficiency is more desirable than going directly to exotic, and is often a prerequisite.
Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Dazzling Display, and others are no longer so focused that a Longsword-using character has essentially no use for a magic short sword. This makes placing treasure that is both useful and organic-looking easier. (But also avoids the slightly unrealistic situation of an expert swordsman suddenly switching to using a hammer, unless the hammer is either very magic or the current foe's weakness.)
Operation Devil's Fog
Received reports of alien abductions in India and dispatched a fire team. They discovered a group of bug eyed monsters they've dubbed 'sectoids', wielding some kind of energy weapon. One soldier was lost when two of these beings joined minds to improve their combat abilities. Fortunately, Humberto was able to get a shot at the more passive of the two, which severed the link and killed them both.
Rk. Jack White Kills 0/0
This thread is a spin off of some of the discussion of crossbows in the absurd rules thread.
The problem: A crossbow-focused martial character like the iconic Harsk has to pay many feats to have the same rate-of-fire as a bow user, and then is behind on damage due to the lack of strength bonuses on bows. Generally speaking, even a crossbow-focused character would do better to just pick up a bow, even with their feats sunk into other weapons.
Some constraints: Bows are martial weapons - They should be better than crossbows. Out goal here shouldn't be to just make crossbows the same as bows but with a 19-20 instead of x3 crit range. We just want the difference to be more like the gap between a mace and a sword.
My proposed answer is twofold:
1) Give a reason to use crossbows
So we want something a crossbow-wielder can do that a bowman can't.
I propose limiting Snap Shot and related feats to having a loaded crossbow (or firearm, if you're in such a game) in hand. This is a way to recognize that pulling a trigger is faster than pulling and releasing a bow.
That becomes a unique trick that only crossbowmen can pull off, and it is the kind of thing someone might build a character around.
2) Let crossbow users keep up in damage
So why the work to sub dice instead of just flat bonuses? Well, it's kind of fun because it approximates the light/heavy weapons already in the game. But also because of
When I post as myself, and then edit the post to be by an alias, my RPG Superstar title ends up attached to the post. For example, this post.
The contact other plane spell has varying effects based on the power level of the being contacted. Do you get to specify which deity you are trying to contact, or is it more like 'I want to contact a demigod because that's the DC I can beat, and I don't care which?'
If you can choose a specific deity (i.e. your personal patron), which gods are which level? Clearly Archdevils, Demon Lords, Empyreal Lords, Psychopomp Ushers and so on are demigods. And Pharasma is probably a Greater Deity, since she handles the soul trade for the whole universe. Rovagug, too, based on sheer destructive power. But what about ascended demigods (Sarenrae, Lamashtu, possibly Asmodeus)? What about the Starstone gods? What about local/niche gods like Brigh or Hanspur? Self-ascended gods (Nethys, Irori, maybe Urgathoa?) Is Shelyn more or less powerful than Erastil?
By popular demand, I am following up on my 'Good is Hard' thread to clear up another common misconception about alignment.
Law is not Legal.
I will say that again. Law is not Legal.
The 'Law' of alignment is a synonym for 'Order'. That is, the opposite of 'Chaos'. I'm not sure where the original use came from. I have two theories. 1) When the game was young and the Good/Evil axis hadn't even been created yet, and the scale of adventures was more like 'inhabitants of one village against the wilderness', it really was more of 'Law vs. anarchy' and it was Chaotic that was misnamed. 2) 'Lawful X' sounds better than 'Orderly X'.
No one (well, very few people) would argue that a Chaotic person is required to break the law, but I constantly see posts in alignment discussions where someone claims that a Lawful person is required to follow the law of the land (whatever land they happen to be in, apparently) or they are violating their alignment. It's absurd on its face. For one thing, it would mean alignment changes at national borders. For another, it would make most Lawful Evil creatures impossible in most civilized lands, which make many Evil acts illegal.
This does not make 'Civilization' innately Good - As I point out in my previous thread, Good is more than just 'not-Evil'. Civilized societies make Evil acts like theft and murder illegal for the simple reason that too many Evil acts make society stop working.
Lawful creatures crave routine, tidiness, predictability. Systems, structures. Even rules and laws - But which rules can vary widely. Some of the worst wars, in the real world and in fiction, are driven by two competing lawful systems trying to prove their superiority to one another.
Lawful followers of any given Lawful god are unlikely to give up their deity just because the King of whatever land they are in bans it.
Pathfinder monks are Lawful because they seek perfection and enlightenment, even if they aren't a member of a larger order or temple. They follow a regimen of exercises, meditation, kata (themselves orderly patterns). That doesn't mean they give two ticks about the local sherrif, unless said sherrif tries to interrupt their morning contemplation.
The Immolation devil's Hellfire ability deals half unholy damage. Unholy damage is not defined anywhere I can find (not even unholy blight or an unholy sword deal unholy damage).
Hellfire is also variously defined:
Infernal Duke Pit Fiends can gain a hellfire breath, which deals unholy damage, but it specified to work exactly like flame strike.
So how should the Immolation Devil's ability be interpreted?
Is it like the Infernal Duke's ability, and is just flame strike, but known to be from an Evil caster (whereas flame strike needs to accomodate Chaotic, Evil, Good, Lawful, True Neutral and Druidic casters, and so can't say 'holy' or 'unholy'?)
Should it be assumed to work the way Hellfire from Princes of Darkness works, leaving most Evil creatures immune but Good creatures vulnerable?
A bit...inspired by the Alignments of Pastry thread, I wanted to clear up what appears to be a common misconception (in my opinion) about Good and Evil.
Good is Hard.
Let me repeat that. Good is Hard.
What makes Good hard? Let's go back to basics. At its simplest, Evil is about being willing to hurt others to help yourself. Good, as Evil's opposite, is about being willing to hurt yourself to help others. Evil is selfish, Good is selfless.
Good is also more than 'not doing Evil'. That's Neutral. We equate Good with purity because it is so very easy to lose.
Not stealing? That's easy.
It's difficult enough to remain Good as a monk in a monastery, where temptation is minimized: there will always be the ability to say 'screw this' to celibacy and bland food and working long hours at potentially backbreaking labor for no personal reward.
Good is hard.
It's more difficult in civilization proper, even surrounded by Good-to-Neutral neighbors. The Prisoner's Dilemma and the Tragedy of the Commons tell us that you do better personally by worrying about yourself first. The orphanage isn't going to close just because you personally don't donate. You earned that money fair and square.
Good is hard.
Being Good as an Adventurer is even harder because, in addition to 'killing things and taking their stuff' being hard to justify in the first place, all of a sudden you're running into all the moral dilemmas that shopkeepers get to avoid. When does killing orcs turn from self-defense into genocide? What do you do with an Evil creature that has surrendered? Am I doing more Good by keeping the magical doodad than selling it to a rich idiot and tithing the proceeds?
Good is hard.
I think there is a certain tendency for people to think 'I consider myself a good person, therefore I'm Good.', and thus lowering the bar. Everyone thinks they're doing the 'right' thing, even Evil ones. That is what makes the alignments different. Most people are Neutral.
Likewise, I've seen comments to the effect of charm person isn't an [Evil] spell, therefore it is fine to use on everyone, all the time. Play-doh is labelled non-toxic, that doesn't mean its food. Charming a person is harm, same as stabbing them with a sword (swords aren't Evil) or lighting them on fire (neither are fireballs and alchemist's fire.) Charming a guard into letting you pass is certainly better than killing them, but it isn't harmless.
Good is hard.
Nor is killing an Evil being always Good: if it were, Good and Evil might as well be Team Red and Team Blue. They are opposites, but they are not perfect mirrors of each other. Paladins aren't Good because they kill Evil things. They are good because they put their lives on the line to protect those who cannot defend themselves. They get a reputation for being Lawful Stupid because they don't always take the expedient path to rooting out Evil, but that is because they know the easy way is not always the Good way, and fear the slippery slope.
Good is hard.
I'm still having difficulty seeing the RPG Superstar Rules or Judges pages using Chrome: the window refreshes several times before getting the 'You have made too many requests for the same page too quickly. Please wait a minute before trying again.' page.
Sometimes mashing the 'stop' button quickly works, sometimes it doesn't.
Inquisitors gain the ability to use all four detect alignment spells at will.
However, these are not their typical spells (it's a spell-like ability), so I'm not sure the alignment restrictions apply. Can a NG inquisitor of a NG god use detect good as a spell-like ability, even though it's an [Evil] spell?
The popularity of discussing unreleased books pollutes the usefulness of product discussion threads to a certain degree. For instance, the Bestiary 4 thread is more than 1,000 posts long and no one in the general public has seen it. In a month, all of the useful discussion of what the book actually contains will be hidden 20 pages into the discussion thread.
Perhaps products need two discussion threads 'prerelease' and 'regular', the latter created and the former locked when the book starts shipping to consumers.
If I post as myself, then edit my post to be by an alias, the 'characters' tab on the online campaign incorrectly lists me as a character, with a 'most recent' post of that post. The alias's most recent post is not updated.
E.g. my WotR game. Lucius Erasmian is listed as having last posted on Monday, while I am listed as having posted 4 hours ago.
I realized today that planar binding has some weird interactions with non-neutral casters.
If I am an Chaotic Evil wizard and want to bind a demon to my service, I have to use magic circle against evil or magic circle against chaos. Those are [Good] and [Lawful] spells respectively. That's a little weird, but hey, wizards can cast whatever spell they want, right? It's not broken, just a little weird.
Let's say I'm a sorcerer instead. Suddenly I need to know a magic circle spell to get use out of spending a spell known on planar binding. Possibly more than one type of magic circle spell if I want to be able to conjure up things of different alignments. Or buy scrolls or something. It would be neat if planar binding specified what happens if you try to use it without a circle. Also, I need to take dimensional anchor, since so many things I might conjure can just slip out of the circle.
Okay, so maybe sorcerers aren't meant to be making pacts with Outsiders, and shouldn't take planar binding in the first place. But it's a bloodline spells for Infernal sorcerers, restricted to devils only. Or for Djinni or Efreeti bloodlines. It's a free gift with a hefty shipping and handling charge to use. (Especially for the Infernal sorcerer, who needs to invest in the magic circles that oppose his bloodline. Sure, this isn't a mechanical penalty on being opposite the bloodline, but it bothers me anyway.)
I'm also skipping over the part where fiendish animals are not Outsiders, so they technically can't be summoned with planar binding or planar ally in the first place, since the design intent is clear that they should be able to, even if that isn't what the spell says.
Okay, now for the things that just don't work. If I'm a cleric with the Devil subdomain, I get to cast planar binding as a domain spell. But only to get devils. But to contain those, I need magic circle against law, or magic circle against chaos, neither of which I can cast because either I'm LE or my patron is if I have the Devil subdomain. Demon has the same problem. Domain spells you can't use!
Daemons are NE, so you can sort of cheat and use magic circle against chaos or magic circle against law on them as being nonchaotic/nonlawful, so they're only sorta broken.
Interestingly, the Good creature subdomains get planar ally instead of binding and don't have the same issue.
Outsider is a horribly overloaded creature type. Would anything awful happen if there was just a Devil type, a Demon type, a Genie type, and so on? And allowing designers to create new full-on types instead of just subtypes when making new monsters?
It just seems so awkward to me that humanoid-bane and outsider-bane (or favored enemy types), work so completely differently (new humanoids do require new bane types, but outsiders don't).
And that creatures as so astoundingly different as Aasimar and Qlippoth share a type. And that a ranger can't specialize in hunting Demons without also being good at hunting Efreet (but not Djinni) and Devils (or alternatively being good at hunting Proteans and Azata).
It would seem to leave certain 'one off' outsiders like Couatl out in the cold, but a Couatl could easily be a Magical Beast. And that problem already basically occurs with 'rare' humanoid types like wayang, in that you'll probably meet one all campaign, making it practically immune to bane weapons or favored enemy.
Adventure paths tend to have a bunch of related products released at the same time in the other product lines. I was thinking a 'related products' or 'suggested reading' section could be added to the APs sections on the store.
So the 'suggested reading' for Wrath of the Righteous would have the recent/concurrent releases of Mythic Adventures, the Guide to the Worldwound and the like, but also older products like Book of the Damned vol. 2.