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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. 10,263 posts (11,133 including aliases). 3 reviews. 2 lists. 1 wishlist. 10 aliases.

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RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

5 people marked this as a favorite.

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

When I came back from vacation, I found my copy of PF #100 waiting for me. However, a nice big bite was taken out of page 100 (apropos, I know). The pages on either side were fine, and the crinkles at the edge of the tear were perfectly flat, so I'm assuming this happened somewhere in the print/bind part of production, rather than in shipping.

Any chance I could have a pristine copy put in my package next month? Do you want/need photos of the damage?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Please cancel my Pathfinder Campaign Setting and Pathfinder Player Companion subscriptions.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I don't seem to have the PDF for the Giantslayer Map Folio on my account.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

Magic circle against X is a 10 foot-radius circle. It can be focused inwards, pretty much always to support a planar binding, but could probably be used as a jail for an outsider in a pinch.

If you try to put a creature that is bigger than the circle in it, this happens

Magic Circle Against Evil wrote:
If a creature too large to fit into the spell's area is the subject of the spell, the spell acts as a normal protection from evil spell for that creature only.

I have no idea what that means. Is the creature mobile? Are other creatures warded against it, or it against them?

I also have no idea when it would apply - the circle is a 10-foot radius from the affected creature - how can it be bigger than itself? Is it possible to have made the diagram too small?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Are there any psychopomps concerned with shepherding souls to the material plane for birth?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

19 hours left

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Nominally speaking, the Pathfinder timeline advances in real time (it was 4707 when it started publishing, it is 4715 now). But Paizo has stated that they don't want to canonize exactly when or in what order adventures happen, especially for ones that could significantly change the campaign setting.

For instance, the Guide to the Worldwound notes the fall of the Tower of Yath, which occurred in The Worldwound Gambit. But that tidbit doesn't change any adventures - it's just an easter egg to notice if you've read the book. Likewise, Stalking the Beast and Reign of Stars make reference to other Pathfinder Tales stories. But it doesn't affect their plots - they aren't sequels. Well, both of those actually are sequels. What I mean is they aren't sequels to the other works they reference.

And progressing the timeline via fiction is less damaging than via adventures. It's still an extra book to read, but at least a story has exactly one outcome. An adventure, or adventure path, can have wildly varying outcomes.

Which brings me to my point. I've been reading Lord of Runes. I haven't finished it yet, so this might not be a complete set of examples.

It occurs in Korvosa, mentioning the Blood Veil plague and Gray Maidens.

It has references to Thassilonian lore that imply the the Shattered Star AP and/or Rise of the Runelords AP have been completed. (More likely the former than latter, since the looting of Xin Shalast isn't mentioned.)

And I've just reached the part when Eando Kline shows up, which I think implies the Serpent's Skull AP occurred.

But the big one, because it actually changes the world, is it refers to the Mendevian Crusades as being over, which I have to assume relates to the conclusion of the Wrath of the Righteous AP. (I suppose this had to be addressed somewhat, since Kings of Chaos ties in to the destruction of Kenabres at the beginning of that AP.)

Is this just a consequence of being the fifth book in the Radovan and the Count books, where their own self-contained history needs to be able to move forward?

Do the Radovan and the Count stories get broader license to do this kind of thing as the 'flagship' of the Tales line? Or just Lord of Runes, as the first of the Tor books going to a wider audience?

Is this a change in approach to the fiction in general?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

In the Pathfinder Tales thread, Chris said the intent was to provide links from the product pages of the novels to the digital versions on sites like the iBookstore or Kindle store.

It seems like linking to Comixology for the Pathfinder Comics would have a similar purpose.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Please cancel my Pathfinder Tales subscription. I still support the line, but at this point eBooks serve me best.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Throw Anything and Catch off guard are weird feats.

They are basically Weapon Proficiency (Improvised).

Clearly, they are not meant to replace individual weapon proficiency feats - that would make them too good. So we have to say, 'no, a longsword is real weapon - you can't use Catch Off-guard with it.'

But that leads to the weird situation where an Alchemist (since they all get Throw Anything to go with their bombs) is better at throwing a beer stein or a rock than a throwing axe, which is meant to be thrown. (Your GM might decide the rock only does 1d4 damage, but 1d4 that hits is better than 1d6 that doesn't.)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

What's the best way to get some use out of the Explosive Disarm ability? It seems neat to blast open a door or ruin a trap with a bomb, but the AC is the same as the trap DC...which is going to be higher than a typical touch attack. Why should I roll an attack roll with 3/4 BAB instead of a Disable Device check with full ranks, plus half level in bonuses from Trap Finding, when the difficulty is the same?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

As tablets become more prevalent, would Paizo consider allowing the option to download single-file PDFs unzipped?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

8 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 11 people marked this as a favorite.
Credits page wrote:

Authors • Dennis Baker, Jesse Benner, Ross Beyers, Logan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn, Robert Emerson, Tim Hitchcock, Jason Nelson,

Tom Phillips, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Thomas M. Reid, Robert Schwalb, Mark Seifter, and Russ Taylor


RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

Fuse grenades (and their shrapnel-filled children pellet grenades) take 1d3 rounds to go off.

However, they can also be thrown as splash weapons.

Does this mean

A) That you can throw them for immediate ignition similar to alchemist's fire, with a ranged touch attach and the whole nine yards?

B) Or is this just saying to use the Splash Weapon rules to figure out which square one lands in when you throw it, then you have to wait for it to go off?

I have the feeling the answer is B, because a direct hit seems unnecessary when these items have a blast radius. Which leads to my secondary question:

When you activate a grenade, do you know if it has 1, 2, or 3 rounds before detonating? I.e. can you (safely) hold it for a couple rounds before throwing, so your foe doesn't have a chance to move away?

Does it go off at the beginning or end of your turn? Let's say I've rolled a '1' on my fuse (or I rolled a 2 and held it for a round, or a 3 and held it for two rounds). Do I have to throw it this turn or risk having my fingers blown off? Can I throw it next turn before it explodes, but without letting anyone else react?

What if I ready an action (or delay), so that I act before the time my next turn would have started?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

The 'My Subscriptions' page still has this test:

My Subscriptions wrote:

Currently the Strategy Guide may be erroneously displayed as shipping in February for some subscribers who have not ordered it.

This is merely a display issue, and we will not be sending out the books to anyone who has not ordered it.
If you are unsure if you have ordered the Strategy Guide or not, please check your Order History page.

Is it perhaps time for that to come down?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I have a PbP infernal sorcerer. Is there any relatively straightforward way to get glibness on his spell list?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Guillotine Chic

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

These mythic powers say"As a swift action, you can expend one use of mythic power to cast any one arcane spell without expending a prepared spell or spell slot."

Does that mean that you actually cast the spells as part of the swift action (Essentially Quickening them), or merely that, like many other Mythic powers, you spend your Swift action to use the power, but you still have to obey the normal casting time of the spell?

I suspect the latter, but I'm not finding any rules to back me up.

If the former, those are much more powerful than I would have thought.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Spell resistance is a lame mechanic - essentially AC for spells. But not on all monsters. Just some monsters.

It's an extra hurdle - Saves are already like AC for spells.

It's often attached to creatures that have elemental resistances, making damage spells even worse options.

It has odd mechanical implications regarding what is real and what is magical (i.e. spell resistance doesn't protect against a magically conjured boulder falling on you, but does against magically created fire exploding around you), largely giving Conjuration spells a pass.

Related, it is often overlooked when developing new spells. Sometimes Spell Resistance is thought of as a balancing spell feature, sometimes it gets a 'No' because that leads to physical impossibilities*, and sometimes because the spell author just wrote something based on the school and it was never revisited.

It has no flavorful hooks, making to give responses to knowledge checks other than 'is resistant to magic!', which ceases to be an interesting tidbit after the 80th time.

It isn't immunity, so monsters cannot really say 'I am above your mortal magic'.

It applies to spells uniformly, making it less a puzzle (the way elemental resistances are), and more an exercise in finding which spells say 'Spell Resistance: No'.

Proposals to fix it:

Get rid of numeric spell resistance. It effectively only comes in 3 'strengths': 5 + CR, 10 + CR, and 15 + CR. Why not have something more like a 50% miss chance instead of 10 + CR, which works out about the same?

Whenever possible, change spell resistance to something more interesting. Imagine if, instead of having SR X, a Succubus was instead immune to Enchantment spells. That's fitting (Can't b%@+#&#% a b%+%+~#+ter), is something interesting to reveal via knowledge check, and is something that the spellcaster can work around, instead of doubling down and hoping for a high roll or looking for SR: No spells.

Abilities that are more interesting than SR:
Immune to one or more schools/descriptor of magic.
Evasion/Improved evasion or the equivalent for Fort and Will saves.
Bonuses to saves against magic (Hi there, dwarves!)
Un-typed magic damage resistance, to soak up the damage from spells like magic missile, disintegrate, or slay living that avoid the resisted elemental types.

e.g. what would it mean if Spell Resistance made you immune to having a wall of iron toppled over on you.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

The weird things:

1)Monsters often have dramatically high Natural Armor scores, which frequently begin to feel gamist to keep pace with their CRs.

2)Every single PC gains at least +1/2 BAB per level, leading to the odd situation where a high level wizard gets progressively better at attack rolls, despite the fact he hasn't used his dagger since 2nd level and the Touch ACs he does roll attacks against are mostly static.

3) Characters have no innate AC gain, relying on protective magic gear for scaling. (A fully-equipped PC gains ~1 AC per level, though it can come in clumps if there is a crafter in the group.*)

The proposed change:
Fighters, barbarians, etc. get 1/2 BAB
Bards, Magi, etc. get get 1/4 BAB
Wizards, witches, etc. get 0 BAB
Amulets of natural armor cease to be a thing, and rings of protection increase in cost by 50%.
Monsters lose Natural Armor equal to 1/2 their CR.

The result:
Against monsters of equal CR, combat doesn't change - Attack bonuses and AC changed by the same amount.

Monsters above CR are slightly easier to hit.

Monsters below CR are slightly harder to hit.

Fighter attack bonuses scale at the same rate as caster saves.

AC magic items require CL of 3 times the bonus, and there are three major AC items: amulet of natural armor, ring of protection, and either magical armor or bracers of armor. So with a crafter on board AC jumps by 3 every 3 levels, instead of moving more smoothly.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

with the stars in his eyes.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

This month's subscription order is only three softcover books, which I would expect in the white cardboard mailer envelope. But my confirmation email shows it shipping Priority at a cost of $13.97. That seems high.

I saw in the November Shipment thread that there was an issue with removing sidecarted books (like the strategy guide) from subscription orders. Was my shipping calculated based on the Strategy Guide, which is heavier and would require a box?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

8 people marked this as a favorite.

Channeling Cheapy and Sean, I wanted to remind people what makes for good playtest feedback.

I've updated Cheapy's ACG post for Occult Adventures.

I’m not the end-all-be-all for what Paizo wants from this, but here are my thoughts on the topic.

  • You are not the lead designer. Jason is.
  • Ignore typos and grammatical errors. That’s not what they want to playtest. They want you to test the rules.
  • Give feedback, not opinions. If you don’t like the idea of the new classes, then don’t just say that. It’s not too helpful as that ship has sailed long ago.
  • You’re still not the lead designer. Jason is still the lead designer. That’s his job.
  • Don’t make houserules for it and then give feedback with those rules influencing your perceptions. Think of it like a recipe site. You go there to find a recipe, and you see a 1 star review for a pasta recipe you’re looking at. The review states that the cook substituted ice cream for butter, and marmite for pesto sauce. Surprisingly, the cook found the recipe to be absolutely horrible. But this review isn’t helpful. It’s helpful for a pasta recipe that includes ice cream instead of butter and marmite instead of pesto sauce. But that’s not the recipe they were reviewing. At all. The recipe they were reviewing had butter and pesto.
  • Remember that the point of the playtest is to work out all the kinks so that you don’t have to make houserules about the classes.
  • Play the game, see what happens. A lot of problems seem like they’ll exist in pure theorycrafting, but don’t really show up in actual play. Keep this in mind. (There was a time when the Summoner was considered underpowered.)
  • If you can, try to playtest multiple different power-levels of the game. How these new, advanced classes work out could be a lot different between a group consisting of synthesist god-tank-pouncers, zen archers, optimized God wizards, and AM BARBARIAN and a group consisting of a sword and board paladin, a rogue rapier-duelist, a cleric of healing and love, and a sorcerer focusing on illusions.
  • Core! Core is great because it sets the base-line level of power. It’s fine if you play some tengu with 5 natural attacks at first level or some aasimar that through various rules hoops has some feats meant for tieflings, but if you find that with the new classes you’re making a completely ridiculous character, consider how much of that is due to the new classes versus the non-core rules. In fact, keep that in mind with core rules as well.
  • I believe that the default assumption in the game is 15 point buy with the core races and the balanced option for wealth by level. Testing at this point is a great way to test.
  • These classes aren't going to be perfect. They might have serious flaws. But that’s what the playtest is for. Designing is hard, doubly so for a base class.
  • Positive feedback, or at least constructive feedback, is immensely preferred to negative feedback. See Sean’s post here for a bit on that. But suffice to say, positive feedback is more helpful because it fosters a helpful environment. It’s the difference between working together and stand-offishly stating your “factpinions” as gospel. If you ever start a sentence that follows this form, you’re doing it wrong: "<feature X> is the worst thing I've ever seen and here’s how I would change it to make it <(balanced, useful, cool, English)>."
  • Despite saying that positive feedback fosters an environment of working together, we aren't working together to make the classes. Jason is still the lead designer of Pathfinder. The odds are probable that you aren’t. Our job, insomuch as it can be called that, is to playtest and report in an unbiased fashion to let them sift through the results.
  • PFS play is useful because it provides a set, known standard of rules. It’s a great environment for testing, as theoretically it’s run the same everywhere. But that doesn't mean that home games aren't useful. In fact, home games can provide very useful information, as sometimes restricting options is a great way to see how these classes do. Core and APG only, no Golarion line crunch? That’s going to present a vastly different playtest result than if done in PFS. Keep this in mind, and try to list your playtest parameters out at the beginning of any playtest reports you give. If someone were to come up with a basic form for all playtest feedback, that’d be solid, and I would recommend everyone use it, just to make sifting through information easier.
  • Try to keep track of die rolls in your playtest report. There's a difference between power and luck. Did your kinesicist kick ass because it's overpowered, or because you didn't roll below a 12 all session? Are too many foes immune to your Mesmerist, or did they just all make their Will saves? I've had encounters that would appear to prove that a Sorcerer makes a great crossbowman: die rolls are important.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I thought I had put my Strategy Guide into my sidecart, but it is currently listed as 'pending'.

If this is not in my sidecart, please put it in my sidecart.
If it IS in my sidecart, can you please tell me how to figure that out on my own in the future.

*** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Oh, you're finally reading those? I guess my 2 and a half year old Varisia-themed quests are feeling a bit dated now...

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Is it worthwhile to invest in the Leadership feat and/or the Loyalty power of the Marshal mythic path? Is there a way for your cohort to gain Mythic ranks?

My concern is that nothing changes the 'Cohort at your level -2' thing. Even with Loyalty allowing stacking your mythic tier, that is likely only to net more followers, rather than a stronger cohort.

A (for instance) level 8 cohort, hanging around with 4 level 10 characters is doing okay. But when those level 10 characters have 5 mythic ranks and can fight a CR 15 monster causually, that cohort is looking a little less like an asset and a little more like a liability. (Getting even more attacks with Marshal's order is nice and all, but only if those attacks can expect to actually matter.)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Clockwork mage?

*looks closer*

Robot clockwork mage!?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The bastard sword (or the Dwarven waraxe) is the iconic hand-and-a-half weapon. But no one ever uses it as one: anyone interested in wading in two-handed would rather just use a greatsword (and save a feat), and most shield-and-sword builds would rather use a feat for something other than one-bigger die size and less-frequent loot drops.

Add to that the fact that the entire 'one-handed' weapon category are hand-and-a-half weapons in that you can switch to a two handed grip for more damage (assuming a Str > 14.) Historically, longswords/broadswords were likely to be hand-and-a-half hilted.

It might be interesting to re-evaluate the weapon categories from light/one-handed/two-handed to something like light (daggers, shortswords)/one-handed (sabers, rapiers, scimitars)/half-and-a-half (longsword, battleaxe, mace)/two-handed (greataxe, greatsword), perhaps with simple Str pre-reqs to proficiency instead of requiring a secondary feat.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me, but has the font in quotes and the left-side navigation three been changed?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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This is spun off of some of the discussion of Pathfinder Unchained.

As written, planar binding has issues.

  • The reliance on magic circle (and dimensional anchor) creates a Spell Known tax on spontaneous casters, and creates problems for aligned casters.
  • It treats all outsiders the same, regardless of alignment or ethos: There is only a minimal difference between binding a demon and an angel.
  • 'Unreasonable', 'impossible', and 'cannot complete though its own action' are vague, leading to wide table variation, especially if the GM tries to use these clauses to reign in the spell
  • Even lesser planar binding is a 5th level spell, meaning that characters who want to make such deals don't actually 'turn on' until 9th or 10th level.
  • It has jagged cuttoffs determined by spell level, not caster level, making evaluating bound outsiders an exercise in system mastery and corner-cases.
  • And the big one, it is a poorly-bounded spell (HD is a poor indicator of potency) that gets bigger with every Bestiary, and as a result exhibits loopholes, like making wish into a 6th level spell if you're not in a hurry.

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.

I will reserve final judgement until I see the finished class, but the hit to Sacred Weapon hurts a lot. I can only hope that we will get some way to replenish our fervor like the other limited pool classes.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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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.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

It looks like this is my May subscriptions shipment. I also preordered the Deluxe Harrow deck, which was to be combined with my subscription shipments. Is it also expected this month, and if so, why isn't it attached to this order?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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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.
Therefore, most of the paladins, clerics, and other various holy warriors in the first and second Mendevian Crusades were of other deities: Erastil, Torag, Sarenrae. The Knights of Ozem would have been one of the only sources of Iomedaen paladins at that time.

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.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Psychic Paper
Aura faint illusion; CL 3rd
Slot -; Price 1,800 gp; Weight -
This item normally appears as a sheet or paper or a small folio. With a small effort of will, the bearer can cause it to project a phantasm of a document of the bearer's choice. This is a move action.
This effectively grants a +10 competence bonus on the bearer's Linguistics check to produce a forgery.
Any creature that handles or closely inspects the paper is entitled to a Will save (DC 13) to disbelieve the phantasm.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, magic aura, silent image; Cost 900 gp

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

You're welcome.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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.)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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As discussed in an assortment of threads about crossbows and monk weapons, weapon proficiencies don't really work right.

Ross Byers wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
Maybe we should make a separate thread for a discussion of revamping the simple/martial/exotic system.

That whole system is a holdover from when a fighter might actually be expected to stop using a +1 longsword when he found a +2 battleaxe.

These days, with Weapon Specialization for fighters, and Weapon Focus baked in to the combat math for everyone else (not to mention things like not being able to Dazzling Display with non-focused weapons), the actual use out of blanket proficiency is minimal, and they lead to weird questions like "Is the fighter proficient with all these weapons because they're user-friendly enough that a skilled combatant can just pick it up and go, or because he went to a 'fighter college' and had to take a semester in 'Flails for non-majors' before taking 'Advanced Swording'?"

The first explanation means a kama or a nunchuck shouldn't be exotic, while the second raises all kinds of secondary problems. And neither jives well with real life, where archery is a specialty all its own. I'm much more willing to accept that a guy can transfer skills between swording and axing than between bows and crossbows.

Exotic weapons are a mix of

1) 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.
But why then would you practice your aim with a crossbow, but not also learn the basics of using a sword or an axe?
Maybe your local culture uses blowguns instead of slings to hunt small game. But then why are you proficient with both?
(And frankly both of those sound like things that would be cool to cover with traits.)
As for dagger-wielding wizards knowing how to throw them effectively, we might just have to accept that as a side effect of weapon proficiencies applying to a whole weapon, and not just uses of it. (This particular problem I am not going to propose a solution to, because I believe it is excessively granular. It might make the game more realistic, but it does not make the game more fun.)

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.

I still like the idea of three basic 'tiers' of weapons: weapons basically anyone can use (simple), slightly better weapons that people who actually know how to fight will use (martial), and mechanically superior weapons that require specific training (exotic). I'm not going to try to change do that. But I think some housecleaning is in order.

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.
Characters that get access to a deity's favored weapon get its weapon group if it is Martial and that weapon specifically if it is Special.

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)

Expected result
The result of this is a world where the crossbow is the go-to ranged weapon, even for combatants. The elite ranged weapon, longbows, become the weapons of elves and specialized fighters and rangers.

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.)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Operation Devil's Fog
Bangalore, India
March 1, 2015

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
Rk. Anna Visser Kills 0/0 KIA
Rk. Humberto Pena Kills 2/2 (promoted to Sq./Heavy)
Rk. Martina Braun Kills 2/2 (promoted to Sq./Sniper)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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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
A fighter who decides to focus on a weaker weapon than the longsword usually has a reason: Daggers to be thrown. Rapiers for Weapon Finesse. Scimitars for crit range. Light weapons for TWF.

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
The simplest and most straightforward way of doing this would be to give crossbows a strength bonus like composite longbows. I have a grander idea.
We get rid of the idea of light/heavy crossbows and instead assign each crossbow a strength rating, and require longer actions to load if you aren't strong enough to pull it. But this doesn't directly apply to damage. Instead, we increase a die size for each strength bonus. A +0 crossbow is a light crossbow: a Str 10 person can load it as a move action and it does 1d8 damage. A Str 9 lower person loads it as a full-round action, because they can't pull it with just their hands (same as they'd take an attack penalty using a composite longbow with too high a Str rating.)
This means your Str 8 wizard will take longer to load. That's fine, since he doesn't normally rely on weapons anyway, and a Str 8 weakling should have a harder time pulling a crossbow. Or he can buy a -1 Str crossbow that deals 1d6 damage.
A +1 Str crossbow is a heavy crossbow: 1d10 damage, but your average joe takes a full-round action to load it. Someone with an above-average strength, though, loads it as easily as the +0 crossbow. And the average damage is the same as a +1 Str Composite Longbow.
A +2 Str crossbow does 1d12.
And so on, though I don't know what dice to sub for 1d14, 1d16, and 1d18.

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
2a) Make reloading less of a hardship
Someone said that Rapid Reload was sort of a step in the wrong direction: it makes crossbows more like bows instead of letting them excel at being their own thing. They'd rather do things like be a sniper and get maximum effect from single shots. Shoot out kneecaps and that kind of thing.
The trouble is trick shots are the kind of things bows should be able to do too. But increasing the die size makes crossbows synergize better with Vital Strike, which means the 'Shoot and reload' paradigm can be as effective as full-attacking with a bow.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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 same thing also occurred with Adam Daigle's BabaYaga alias getting his Developer title over the weekend.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

When did this happen?

Last I saw it was 'Paizo Publishing, LLC'.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

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?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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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.

An aside:
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.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

8 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is a spin off of this thread where the summoning/binding of Immolation Devils was discussed.

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.
Princes of Darkness (not a Rules-line book) defines Hellfire as its own energy type, akin to flame strike, but with some baggage regarding Good and Evil subtypes and protection from evil.
Infernal-bloodline Sorcerers get an ability called Hellfire that merely does fire damage. Similarly the Dumbshow of Garroc says it summons hellfire, but just does fire damage. (These obviously don't bear directly on unholy damage, but they show hellfire is not always exactly the same.)

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?

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