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Rycaut's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber. FullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 1,058 posts. No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 5 Pathfinder Society characters.

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a few thoughts - echoing a few others.

1) if combats as currently being run as "too easy" for your party - vary them up a bit - give them a stretch without combat (exploration, role playing, something to get them engaged). If that doesn't work then look at varying the environments and at making them think a bit about their tactics and approaches. This can be as simple as an environment where there are bystanders they have to keep alive (prisoners, other people in a tavern/street - pick something appropriate to your environment but show them that there are people other than enemies and the party

2) look at what your party does (play styles, character classes/types) and consider encounters that let a different set of people than usual shine for a given battle. If the party melee types are always dominant perhaps have an encounter with some flying (or swimming) enemies - this becomes a different tactical battle - and requires ranged play or tactics such as readying actions. Don't however be punitive here - water can quickly kill unprepared lower level characters (and flying enemies if no one has ranged weapons is also frustrating at any level of play)

[side note - years ago in a different system one of my proudest moments as a DM was getting a player who played a Paladin to choose running away and perhaps needing to atone when he realized that fighting a dragon, in the dragon's lair, where the dragon was able to fly and perch on top of walls that were higher up than the paladin could easily see - but just high enough that the dragon could still breath down and get everyone in the room wasn't a battle he was going to win - and the party ran away w/o any casualties but with a lesson about perhaps not trying more than they could actually achieve at that time. The rest of that dungeon was a related set of lessons - lots of encounters where they had non-combat means of resolving them - if they spoke with the monsters instead of attacking first]

Along those lines I think it is often good to introduce "enemies" who aren't necessarily clear cut "evil" - put the PC's in the middle of two groups who are in a conflict but where there are no clear good (or bad) guys just real differences of opinion and perhaps even fighting and see what the PC's do. Give them non-combat means of resolving encounters - or real consequences if they do engage in battle (one side may start to see them as allies, the other as enemies). This can even work if some of the party are focused on fighting "evil" (i.e. Paladins etc) but in that case don't go too overboard as it might seem punitive to that player if EVERY enemy is N. But a bunch of encounters with N (or even CN) or other non-evil enemies can help teach a party to look at a multitude of ways to resolve combat.

Another similar approach is to give them enemies who use means other than lethal force to attack the party (traps are one option but a non-lethal specialist is another, or a spell caster who focuses on illusions and transmutations). Start getting them to question their reality a bit and to see an approach that is less than lethal but still effective. This has the other side benefit of letting you have an NPC who may "win" against the party without it being a TPK - and without requiring a lot of DM fiat or hand waving to avoid that TPK - knock out the whole party and get them captured etc.

One other thing to keep in mind is that SOLO monsters even at APL+4 above the party are at a real action economy disadvantage to a determined party. So add some minions or others to some encounters to help minimize that. I also find that starting encounters a bit father away often turns encounters which are "easy" into ones that take real skill and push a party - give the NPC's some time to buff and encounters get far more complex. Combine a few encounters in a row and an "easy" module turns challenging very quickly (in many dungeons pay attention to what is in nearby rooms - sounds of battle should have a chance to pull in others to the fray. I also find that in dungeons if the party keeps pressing forward that it can help to stay in initiative order (players may like this as buffs etc stick around a longer) but it also can mean that an unwary party may trigger multiple encounters at once w/o rests in-between to do out of combat healing. Don't abuse this but keep it as an option.


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Just email to volunteer - looking forward to attending my first GenCon in many many years (it was still in Milwaukee and Magic the Gathering had just launched...)


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for 3.5 scenarios I had read somewhere (trying to remember where - I think one fo the Guides - though haven't checked the most recent version of the guide) that you can (and perhaps should) use the stats for monsters that are in Pathfinder in favor of the stat blocks from 3.5 (and you can and should always calculate CMB/CMD for the monsters in any case).

Where things get messy is in scenarios that don't have PFS equivalents - or where the PFS monsters are of a different CR than the ones in the 3.5 scenario. There isn't much you can do there other than run the monsters as written but do your best.

Personally I wish Paizo would republish all 3.5 scenarios with full Pathfinder stats (which would be harder for some scenarios than others) as they did for Mists of Mawagi.

Since PFS scenarios are digital products I actually wish they would correct mistakes in scenarios - it might result in some degree of table variation (for folks who played prior to errors being fixed or for DM's who don't check their downloads for updates) but it would also allow for the updates for changes to goals and prestige awards (and in more than a few scenarios correcting the mistakes would address many issues with some scenarios)

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One of my players has been talking about perhaps running Reign of Winter in the future adding Mythic elements to the scenario - probably incorporating the Baba Yaga's boons as either Mythic levels or some degree of mythic abilities. It seems like it could work - though with a subset of the full Mythic rules.

Has anyone tried this yet? Or looked at what it would require from the GM in terms of modifications of the scenarios?

(Rasputin for example sure seems like he could have Mythic levels - though he is already more than a bit of a handful for most parties I'd guess)

And the final book sure seems tailor made for Mythic rules.


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Mists of Mwangi is a fun and short scenario that if you are careful can be a lot of fun for younger players (try to avoid having everyone paralyzed - you may need to fudge some tactics or roles depending on the level they play at) and be sure to run tactics to be fun vs maximally damaging - but rampaging Gorrilas and monkey people can be fun for kids of any age... and emphasize the last night at the museum kinda vibe.

(paralyzed players can be okay especially if you paralyze adults playing with the kids and give the kids a chance to really shine)


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So from level 1 most PFS players are told to get a Wand of Cure Light Wounds (or Infernal Healing) even if you can't use it yourself just to have it and hand to a party member who can use it.

But what I'm curious about are what other items have you bought (or should consider buying) to have even though you can't use them yourself.

Extreme example - scroll of Raise Dead and 5000gp diamond dust. Perhaps along with a scroll with 2 castings of Restoration (and 2000 gp in components)

I was prompted to this thought by the idea of getting a scroll of Nap Stack to have on hand "just in case" since it is one of those spells that clerics never seem to prepare when it would be possible to use - but when you need it, you really really need it. (to let spell casters regain their spells in 2 hours not 8 or to make 4 saves in an 8 hour period against poisons or diseases or even just to get a lot of natural healing especially of ability damage).

But then I just realized that a Potion of Nap Stack is, I think, possible and just 850 gp. (initially wrote 750gp but realized that there is a 100 gp material component - so a scroll or a potion of it would cost more than otherwise)

So what items have you considered buying?

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I haven't yet used Game Space - but thinking about it as a player but more as a DM I have a few questions/suggestions.

1 - can players control multiple tokens? (i.e. PC & Animal Companion/Familiar/Mount/summoned creatuers?)

2 - can Tokens be numbered or otherwise identified (i.e. Skeleton 1, Skeleton 2 etc)

3 - if tokens and maps can't be uploaded can you list in the description what map packs/options and what token sets are implemented/will be implemented?)

4 - are there plans to implement maps that aren't Gamemastery map packs but are custom maps from modules, Adventure Paths or PFS scenarios?

5 - second the suggestion for Dynamic lighting - really helpful as a player & as a DM for tracking who has light sources. Ideally it can also adjust the map for a PC's vision (i.e. low light or darkvision but that's likely harder to implement smoothly

6 - Will Game Space integrate with online video/voice chat tools like Google Hangout or Skype?

7 - Freehand drawing will help with adding effects or room elements to the map. Will the app have tokens for things like room elements (chairs, stairs etc) or for representing 3D locations (i.e. flying creatures)?

8 - Can you track effects? (Buffs/debuffs etc) and/or are there templates for things like cones, lines or bursts?

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Given the recent FAQ clarifications about Spell Like Abilitys qualifying for feats like Arcane Strike that require "ability to cast arcane spells" (i.e. a Rogue with Minor Magic now qualifies) I'm curious what the full list of races, traits or abilities like the Rogue Talent Minor Magic would now qualify a character for the Arcane Strike feat without that character having class levels in an Arcane caster class (i.e. non-Sorcerer, Bard, Magus, Witch or Wizard)

Off the top of my head here is a start to the list:

Playable races

Gnomes (racial spell like abilities include many arcane spells)
Tieflings / Aasimars (at least some of the racial heritages - others might be arguably only casting Divine spell like abilities)
Elemental races w/spell like abilities

Traits like:

Wealthy Dabbler (Taldor regional trait)
Magical Talent
Varisian Wanderer

(and a few others that grant a spell like ability derived from an arcane spell list)

Rogue Talent - Minor Magic (and the rest of that chain of talents)

What about Eidolons or Animal Companions that somehow get granted a spell like ability?


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[note - I haven't caught up on the "GM rewards for Star Tiers" thread so apologies if this idea has been made there already]

As a DM I have run a LOT of scenarios multiple times - I think each time I run the scenario I do it better - and with great scenarios each time I run is usually a very different experience. I'm nearly at my 3rd DM star in part as a result of running many things many times.

But it is a bit (only a bit) disappointing that there aren't other rewards for DMs to run something a second (or third or fourth etc) time. I've been fairly luck as a game night organizer in finding many DMs who are willing to rerun scenarios because they love running certain favorite scenarios - and don't mind rerunning as it saves them prep time and effort. But I do also have many DMs who prefer to run all else being equal a scenario they haven't run before - in part to get that really nice and flexible DM chronicle sheet for one of their PCs.

What I think I'd like to see is some system that offers some incentives and rewards for DMs who run scenarios more than once - so people get really good at their favorite scenarios yet still get tangible game related rewards for their huge investments in time (and no infrequently in money for maps, minis, books etc).

One idea - use the existing reporting data to generate lists of DMs who have rerun scenarios within a given period of time (say a quarter) then send out some digital rewards to those DM's (perhaps with some variation based on the DM's star level and/or # of scenarios rerun that quarter)

Another idea - allow some great flexibility with chronicle sheets - one idea would be to allow DM's to apply a chronicle sheet once per TIER (so you could apply the chronicle sheet for a 1-5 to a 1-3 char once and to a 4-5 character once). Scenarios with a wider range of tiers (say earlier ones that were tier 1-7 would offer more opportunities to apply those chronicle sheets). This would still mean that many DMs would run scenarios they don't get any in-game reward for running (since many people run things more that twice) but it would give DMs at least some tangible reward for that first time they rerun a scenario.

And it would be relatively easy to retroactively grant these chronicle sheets based on reporting data...


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I think a lot of the table variation besides the variation inherent in different DMs (even under PFS) is in how the players as a group approach playing.

If people play characters that are entirely self-contained - optimized or not Season 4 will be harder than past seasons - especially if they are focused on a single way of solving problems (both the "always attack" and the "always talk" schools will run into problems).

A group of players even if not fully optimized that know how to work together - and who find ways to contribute no matter the situation (even if some characters end up casting guidance or doing aid another). I've seen great players playing not fully optimized characters use all kinds of creative tricks to always be able to contribute - and to make everyone else around them more effective. Simple measures like stacking buffs can make everyone more effective. And cheap measures like having just the right utility potions, oils or scrolls is also amazingly helpful for the right parties.

The Disappeared is among my favorite scenarios I've played or run in PFS. And generally speaking I'm enjoying every Season 4 scneario I have played or DMed. They are harder than past seasons but also all have more metaplot and frequently really memorable encounters and stories. Not every faction mission is all that fun (or achievable) and I'm not a huge fan of the Season 4 ongoing faction missions as at least with my group we've mostly ignored those as a method of getting PA.

Of course as a player I do tend to make fairly strong characters - not perhaps as totally optimized as some people make as I like multiclassing - but generally pretty surprisingly effective so that may help temper my views.


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Michael Brock wrote:

It was a way to field questions immediately and talk "face-to-face" instead of a unemotional blog. Sorry you are disappointed in the method of delivery but we received an overwhelmingly positive response. You are the first to advise it is a complete lack of consideration and shockingly bad judgement. We will try to do better next time with just a plain old blog post and less questions answered with the immediacy we were able to provide.

Also, it was recorded and will be placed HERE if you would Ike to watch it for yourself and not rely on second and interpretations.

A quick suggestion - can you post a blog post with the key decisions (and or some sticky threads) and in the future perhaps have a scheduled post setup to go up just before/during or perhaps after with the key points?

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Cloak the of the Hedge Wizard is my new favorite low cost item. Makes giving up a cloak of resistance really viable for many different builds. My lore warden loved his cloak of the hedge wizard (divination) for the at will detect magic (turned him into the party magic item identifier since his spell craft and knowledge arcana were both very high) and the once per day detect secret doors and true strike were nice as well.

Since there are many they make for great additions of a little touch of magic to many different builds. Especially rogues or fighters that want just a bit of magic without the BAB hit of a caster dip.

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The Hexcrafter archetype of the Magus class is a very interesting one but it has a number of somewhat confusing rules elements (this is for PFS play so that further complicates some things - can't just make a house ruling)


A hexcrafter magus adds the following spells to his magus spell list: bestow curse, major curse, and all other spells of 6th level or lower that have the curse descriptor.

However some spells that this will add (to his spell list - so still need to be added to the Magus' spellbook) have different levels for the classes that get them.

Bestow Curse being the key questionable spell here. Since the Hexcrafter pulls from the Witch I think a strong case could be made that the RAI is for the Magus to get Bestow Curse as a 3rd level spell. However the Magus as a class has a lot of ties to the Sorcerer/Wizard spell lists (with class abilities that open up those spell lists for example) so a counter argument might be made that Bestow Curse should be a 4th level spell for Hexcrafters.

This matters since Bestow Curse as a touch attack spell could make for a fantastic spell to embed in a spell storing weapon or a spell storing suit of armor - and such a usage feels very Magus like (in a home game I would rule this way since it fits so well into the flavor of a Hexcrafter Magus. i.e. discharing a curse at anyone foolish enough to his a magus with a melee or melee touch attack. Or likewise discharging a curse after a successful hit to open combat.

[in PFS play I would probably impose the 50/50 chance of acting each turn as that is quite potent but in a home game I would encourage creativity in the curses]

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Well you can also argue that a fighter gets so many bonus combat feats that for many builds they can dedicate more of their regular level feats to non-combat feats than many other classes could. Combined with an archetype like the Lore Warden you can have a fighter as a face or even knowledge expert outside of combat.

All while still being highly effective in combat.

I play a fighter/monk/rogue (possibly adding wizard for his 10th level) in PFS and he is extremely effective in and outside of combat. In combat he two weapon fights and uses combat maneuvers (especially dirty trick) and has over a 25 AC even while only wearing light armor.

Outside of combat he has nearly 20 skills at over a +10 (many over +15) and can always help the party in nearly every situation (he even identifies magic items better than most casters)

To build a fighter than can do more than just fight you have to do a few things:

1) don't dump every mental stat and consider investing in at least one possibly two mental stats - WIS for perception and heal etc, INT for knowledges, spellcraft and skill points, CHA for diplomacy/intimidate but also UMD

2) be open to a multiclass level (or even a few). A sprinkling of rogue for skill ranks and sneak attack or a level or two of a caster class (either arcane or divine) will add a lot of out of combat utility and might add some skill ranks (if bard, oracle etc)

3) be creative with magic items - sure invest in a magic weapon, armor and mobility but consider adding items that give you tricks - stuff like a cloak of the hedge wizard are really fun (for ~2500gp adds prestidigitation and one 0-level spell at will and two 1st level spells 1x a day from a specific school). Not huge but well worth the investment - divination gives detect magic at will and detect secret doors and true strike 1x a day. What fighter wouldn't love true strike when needed?

4) consider playing a race that gives you stuff you can use. Gnomes for a few spells and obsessive for a boost to a craft or profession. Even human with focused study gives you three skill focuses over your career. Use the first a low levels to boost an out of combat skill (say perception for example) then look at using regular levels to explore Eldritch heritage feats. (You can be a fighter with a familiar if you like via this path)

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So I run a lot of Pathfinder Society and it is getting a bit old drawing out maps - I've seen occasions where other DMs have printed out scale versions of the maps found in scenarios... but I'm not sure what trick(s) they used to accomplish this feat...

Can anyone point me at a simple method of taking a map image and getting it to print out as a series of tiled pages at roughly the right scale that I can tape together to use for a game? Clearly I'm missing some key feature(s) and/or apps because I can't figure out how to get an image printed out across many pages - let alone do so at anything close to the right scale for minis.

(as an aside I'd love it if as PFS GM I could buy printable, scaled correctly versions of custom maps for a given scenario)


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A suggestion, though I suspect it won't happen, but I think if it did it would improve PFS.

Many PFS scenarios have errors that have been caught after they have been published (and frequently, though not always, discussed in detail here on the messageboards). Many others have important plot points/sections which were cut during editing but which help clarify what was going on in the scenario (and in at least a few cases help make faction missions achievable)

Further with older scenarios there are updates and changes to PFS play, such as the doubling of the number of factions, which might usefully be noted if older scenario PDFs were ever updated.

So here is what I would suggest at least be considered for PFS in 2013.

Every scenario from Season 1-3 be published in an updated format with at a minimum the following changes:

a) insert guidance for DMs running older seasons re which factions missions to assign as well as the rules on awarding Prestige for that scenario. Ideally including updating the Chronicle sheets to the new format w/space for Day Jobs, Fame etc

b) correct known typos and outright errors in the scenarios - stuff like tactics that suggest illegal actions, incorrect stat blocks/references, or other known errors in the encounters

c) INSERT advice/guidance/corrections/suggestions based on play experience - i.e. reminders that maps were drawn at a different than normal scale or return some flavor text to the scenario if doing so makes some faction missions achievable etc. To keep page references easy I suggest doing this as an appendix not via reflowing every page.

d) correct known errors on Chronicle sheets (there is precedent for this happening as it has been done in the past) - things like incorrect prices. Potentially the tier rewards for some older scenarios might be raised to be closer to those of newer seasons especially where off by a lot (some older scenarios may offer half or even less than the rewards of s similar tier scenario from season 3 or 4)

I realize this would take both a lot of work and make a degree of changes - but I think the end result would be a better PFS with lessened table variation - and with potentially a renewed interest by players and DMs (and event organizers) in older scenarios. There still would be plot changes over time that mean it makes somewhat more sense to play newer scenarios after old ones - but many classic scenarios are fantastic but flawed (with well known flaws in many cases) - I think rolling those changes into the published documents would help everyone.


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I've started thinking about a Heavens oracle illusionist probably gnomish. Color spray becomes rather decent if you have a very high CHA and the revelation that allows you to subtract you CHA bonus when determining the effective HD of a foe for a pattern spell (like color spray).

Not sure if revelations work with non-Oracle spells if they do might look at multiclass options or just go straight oracle. There are some illusionist prestige classes to consider as well. Many illusion spells suffer from table variation in how they are used but the pattern style spells have the least table variation.

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Specifically the Nagaji get a racial bonus on Handle Animal check "against reptiles" yet there actually isn't a definition anywhere I've found that defines which animals count as reptiles for the purposes of this check (and whether it also applies to magical beasts that are also reptiles)

So anyone have a source for what counts/doesn't count?

(I'm specifically asking for PFS play as I may play a Nagaji build with an animal companion and clearly I would want to take a reptile - while Snake, Constrictor is a decent choice I'm curious which other options also qualify as reptiles...)


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Sigh. Rogue's waiting for flanking to get sneak attacks should be around the 101, day one, lessons on "how to be an effective PF rogue". Really really basic move players should master.

More basic still but some folks don't get so bears repeating.

1. Rogues and anyone w/sneak attacks should if possible have a ranged, usable in a surprise round way to deliver a sneak attack. Only useful if you get a surprise round and are 30' (well 35') away from the enemy but well worth pulling off if you can (minor magic for acid splash works well - ranged touch is far easier to hit with

2. For everyone, but especially rogues closing to get an attack while opponents are still flatfooted can be really valuable

3. After you have buffed - spread out to avoid being in "fireball" formation (lines are just as deadly as being clustered together.

(Buff, Buff, Buff - sure Bless is "just" +1 but that is akin to a full BAB hitting as if they were one level higher and the impact on non-full BAB classes is even higher - yes not quite as good as a real level but still very helpful. Start having Divine and Bardic casters buffing at the same time and you suddenly are acting as 4-6 levels higher - makes a huge impact on the battle and everyone's survivability.

4. READY actions. Both the "wait until I have flanking" but also attacking a caster at range but only have a single attack - frequently your best move is to ready an attack to attack the caster as she is about to cast a spell - occasionally she may surprise you and not cast during her turn - but if she does then you're likely reasonably happy as a party anyway.

5. Know your options like Attacking defensiely, total defense and any other special features of your class and items.

6. Know how to use acrobatics to avoid AoO (as well as the benefits of having at least 3 ranks of Acrobatics when you attack defensively or use total defense)

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If I were to houserule this for a home game I would probably say "all melee weapon enhancements that make sense can be added to an amulet at a 2x cost since it is slotless"

But for PFS play I'm less clear. The big potential enhancement is Dueling at 14,000 gp for a bunch of nice bonuses. But it might be amusing to figure out how glamered would work (like a hat of disguise? Allow a monk to appear weak and helpless only to strike with a surprise fist? Lots of flavor potential if likely little functionality.

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For example the powerful Major Hex - Ice Tomb doesn't appear to have a range specified. Is it literally just line of sight? Can a Witch hex someone with Ice Tomb via scrying?

Ice Tomb isn't the only hext that is lacking a range. A few are clearly personal in range (Flight for example) but many others are less clear.

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A few things.

1) if the outcome of a battle is obvious after people have expended a bunch of resources and all that remains is a lot of rounds of very similar dice rolling it is completely legit as a DM to handwave and say "you win after ..." and declare the cost of that victory (i.e. estimate damage or count up what folks have been casting/shooting each round) The point of the game is to have fun - if the tactics are fun keep at them - but if they become a slog and everyone DM & Players alike are clearly bored just wave your hands and declare what happens. This won't please everyone all the time - and you shouldn't do it all the time - but if you do it to keep the story moving forward and avoid time sinks I suspect your players will be very pleased (and you may progress more rapidly through the AP). I left a group a while ago which was playing through some modules in no small part because it took us far far too many play sessions to finish the single module (we rarely had more than one combat in a play session since everything seemed to take far too long)

2) At high levels you will have a LOT of buffs and the like to track. I would encourage your group to create a stand process to track buffs - the Gamemastery Buff deck is a decent starting point (but isn't perfect) - Notecards or table tents for each buff are a perfectly good option as well. Make sure to note when the buffs were cast and when they end - and then be sure to track rounds of combat. Make it a mutual responsibility to track all buffs and effects - they are a crucial part of the game but all to often it is easy to forget durations.

3) 3D combat can be hairy. One fairly simple "hack" I use in my own games as a DM or as a player is to require everything that is flying to have a die next to the mini which indicates height (I track it in 5' increments ) so you can scan the table quickly and see how high up you are, how high up other creatures are and it helps greatly with maneuvers. Tracking everything around a 3D encounter can be tricky - hovering, fly checks, banking, ascending/descending etc so don't get too caught up in every minute detail - but focus on the big stuff - make flight an advantage for those using it - but also make it a cost (for example it is very very hard to pull off a Full Attack when flying if you can't easily hover and/or don't have feats that are specifically Fly specific (fly by attack etc). This means that the flying melee types may have challenges.

(my high level cleric loves Air Walk as a way around the challenges of flying - if you can just walk on the air you can easily do things like charge on the air or stand on the air and full attack... great to cast on melee types and then see the flying monsters be very unhappy)

In terms of giving players a challenge it is also worth knowing how your party plays and tailoring encounters a bit toward them - if they tend to have a 5 minute adventuring day then consider linking encounters (in the wilderness a big battle for example might attract other predators or scavengers looking to pick over the remains of one side or the other, in a dungeon if a battle is raging it may attract attention from other inhabitants etc). Some of the most challenging adventures I've run as a DM for players have been where one encounter ran into the next resulting in 15-20+ round encounters that definitely tested the party - but not unfairly (since in that case it was their own fault for opening up closed doors and splitting the party)

It also ins't the worst thing if your players enjoy using all of their abilities for the 5 minute adventuring day to happen a few times - but make the world react to this - if they keep teleporting away after one encounter then show consequences when they return (another party came in after them and gathered up the loot in the rooms just beyond that were now ungaurded or other monsters came in to settle down in the power vacuum created in the wake of the party etc. There are also specific traps and monsters (like Haunts) that specifically do reset after some period of time. Other monsters/NPC's might have observed the battle (scrying for example) or gone through the wreckage of the battle and adjusted their own plans and preparations accordingly. In short show your players the downsides of always retreating/resting between encounters and let them judge when to continue doing that. This doesn't always require forcing their hand via a ticking time bomb type scenario.

The contrast to the 5 minute adventuring day however is equally frustrating to players and GMs alike. In a recent PFS game the party cleric and wizard (both playing pregens at 7th level since they were relatively new to PFS players) kept saving their powerful spells and buffs for whatever was next - leaving the rest of the party at real risk w/o the buffs and healing those characters would typically offer to a 5-7 level party. Sure it was good they still had resources to spare - but it certainly extended some of the encounters and made the whole process longer and harder than it had to be. If some players are using every trick they have - and others are holding back it won't be a lot of fun for either group.

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One reading of Reduce Person however implies that projectiles will do LESS damage since they depend on the damage of the item that shot them for damage (i.e. size of the bow, crossbow or gun) - so while you will have an increase in your chance to hit (+2) you will deal somewhat less damage on each hit.

If you were a thrown weapon specialist reduce person wouldn't effect your damage output since thrown weapons deal damage based on the weapon itself - and once you throw it it would return to normal size.


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An idea occurred to me the other night as I drew out by hand a map for the PFS game that I was drawing - and as one of my players was offering to print out maps in the future if I could get him the digital files in time (he works for a school of architecture so has large scale color printers)

Why aren't there separate digital asset files for PFS scenarios? It would be fantastic if instead of just images embedded in PDF files the digital maps and perhaps pawn sized images of key NPCs and monsters were available as scaled correctly digital art - either as a bonus in addition to the original file or as a small additional purchase (a dollar or two at most I think). This would make it really easy to print out such assets - it would be better still if these files were available in a format that could be used with a digital tool.

Clearly maps that exist as Gamemastery products cost more - but nearly every scenario (and especially many older ones) have custom areas - in many cases complex and awkward to draw (Among the Living from Season 0 being a prime example of a very large map shown at a 10' square scale - drawing it as a 5' scale dramatically changes the encounters and scenario as a whole.

The ideal would be if these were available with layers so could be printed out w/o showing hidden features (secret doors/traps/plot devices) allowing just those to be drawn or overlayed at the table as needed.

Anyway I know this is unlikely to happen quickly but wanted to suggest it to save many DM's hours of prep time.

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A human Lore Warden / Alchemist (Mindchemist) / Rogue with a maximized INT, the Human alternative racial feature - Focused Study that grants three bonus Skill Focus feats in place of the human bonus feat (at level 1, 8 and 16) would have tons of skill ranks as well as the majority of every skill in the game as a class skill.

(the Lore Warden / Rogue is only lacking Fly and Heal as class skills, adding levels of Alchemist (Mindchemist) means those two skills as well are class skills - meaning that this character would have every skill in the game as a class skill from level 3 onward (though you might want to stack levels in one or more classes early on - I'd suggest starting with Lore Warden for 2-3 levels, then Alchemist for 2 levels, then Rogue for a few levels then picking which class to progress further in - any could be strong choices - rogue would give the most Skill ranks but Alchemist and Lore Warden aren't too far behind.

You probably could take a few useful traits to add bonuses to certain key skills over an above what you will get from stats and class ranks.

I'd probably suggest:

INT > CHA > DEX > WIS > CON > STR for this character though getting the balance of stats right would be tricky - you want a very high INT for the maximal Mindchemist bonus to Knowledge skills as well as the most skill ranks possible for this concept - but you can't dump CHA or WIS due to their impact on key skills (and would probably want some bonuses from them if possible) STR impacts other skills (though likely the least important skills for this character though he'll probably be in at most light armor). DEX would help with a few skills but also with AC (and finess if you go that combat route) and CON would mostly help with saves and HP.

Prestige classes you might consider would be Scholar of War (though straight Lore Warden may be stronger) and there are af few others that give good skill ranks and boosts though possibly not stronger than continuing in any of your three main classes.

Kirin Style is another tempting option - though it has a lot of feat requirements for this type of build (which suffers from somewhat of a lack of feats) .

As a alternative to a human you might consider a race that could qualify for Breadth of Knowledge - but personally I think the 20 bonus skill ranks from being Human plus the three bonus skill focuses from Focused Study would be hard to beat for this type of character.

If somehow you could manage a high CHA as well as a very high INT you might also consider Eldritch Heritages to further leverage those bonus Skill Focuses.

I think such a character might be really fun (I'm already playing a Tiefling Lore Warden who is going to be multiclassing - very likely into Alchemist (mindchemist) and potentially into Rogue as well - I don't get the human skill bonuses and he dumped WIS and CHA so will never be a total skill monkey - but if I go the Mindchemist route he will have +14 or more on EVERY Knowledge skill at level 5 (assuming a +2 INT headband - with the headband also giving him bonus ranks to some other skill). Already at level 3 he has more often than not served as the skill monkey/knowledge guy for every party he has been in (this is for PFS play)

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On a more serious note - initial thought(s) would be to upgrade your stat boosting items or to invest in the appropriate tome(s) - i.e. if your current stat boosting items are +4 either make them +6's or consider adding one or even two stats to each item. If a character doesn't have both a physical stat and a mental stat boosting item look at adding them?

Does every melee character have a decent backup weapon to their primary? One that might bypass different types of DR?

Does every character have a means of dealing with flying opponents (ideally a decent means of flight?)

Do you have access to spellcasting services? (and/or characters with access to Permanency lots of useful things to look at making permanent)

Do you have funds set aside for potential future resurrections?

Consider as well getting some of the items or enhancements to existing items that are nice to haves but aren't usually the first things people get. For example add comfort to you paladin's armor etc. This might be a great opportunity to play with items that would add flexibility or flavor to each character without being too expensive (or too hard to keep track of)


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With the new retrain rules I had a thought that we should assemble a checklist/help document for new(er) players who have a character approaching level 2 for things they should consider prior to reaching level 2 with their character.

For example:

- are you enjoying this class? (if no - rethink character completely, if yes proceed)

- are there class specific choices that aren't working (spells? weapon selection? feats? archetype you choose?)

- did you select two traits (of different types)? (seems basic but worth double checking as many new players may miss traits entirely)

- was there a 1st level only feat you would like to have taken? (Fey Foundling, many race-specific feats etc)

- did you note all of your race specific bonuses and features? (new and older players frequently forget one or more racial feature) Did you make all of the necessary decisions (skill focus choice for a half-elf for example) Have you looked at alternative racial traits (or heritages for Aasimars or Tieflings)? (many offer options that replace racial features you will never use given the class you have chosen for a feature you could get great use from - tiefling's prehensile tail for example)

- are you happy with your skill ranks? (did you want to have something you could use for a day job role? did you start with ranks in mostly class skills?

- did you remember to take a favored class bonus (assuming your favored class is the class you have started with - a very small # of builds might choose to start in a class other than their favored class in those cases did you make a point of NOT taking a favored class bonus)? Did you look at alternative favored class bonuses for your class & race? In many cases these take multiple levels to take effect so may be a decision you need to make at level 1.

- have you spent your wealth and PA in smart ways (I'm less clear on the rules for purchases if you are retraining - as a DM I'd generally err on the "as long as it is reasonable and you haven't used it up we can adjust" i.e. replacing medium armor with light or no armor if your class/archetype decisions have changed what you can use, swapping out weapons etc.

- not retraining specific but do you have: a means of healing, a way to deal with swarms, a light source, the basic equipment you need for your class - i.e. spell component pouches for a caster, holy symbol for a cleric, weapons for a martial class, arrows for an archer etc.

- have you noted encumbrance (not counting weight of your coins) and any armor check penalties and adjusted movement speed and skills appropriately? (and perhaps attacks)

- does your character sheet show calculations for your most used combos of attacks? (i.e. show your melee and ranged attacks but also calculate out ahead of time things like power attack). Getting in the practice of calculating out each of these things will be good for a new (and for that matter experienced player)

- is your AC correct (for regular, flat-footed and touch)? Even experienced players may make mistakes here from time to time.

- are you aware of the various types of bonuses you are getting (if any) and have you doublechecked that you don't have conflicting bonuses (i.e. have a cloak of resistance but expect to cast "resistance" on yourself or others already wearing a cloak of resistance etc) This can easily happen for spellcasters as they select their spells - things like already wearing armor (or wielding a shield) and then casting a spell that overlaps with what they are already using)

- have you calculated out numbers like concentration checks, damage/healing from spells, durations of spells you will be casting often etc. (or for melee types are you clear on how combat maneuvers work or on your attacks with every weapon you use - for example on throwing vs wielding a dagger)

What else should any player approaching level 2 evaluate before they lose the option to retrain?


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And speaking of the basics:

Wayfinder w/dull grey ioun stone (250gp for the wayfinder, 25 gp for dull grey ioun stone) = read magic. Sure you don't need it often but frees up a spell slot for a more useful orison or let's a non Spellcaster possibly have a chance to identify a scroll you find perhaps to use via UMD.


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The various kits in the Field Guide can be really handy (and offer a slight discount on a bundle of things).

Basics that folks sometimes neglect:

- whetstone for a cheap, only on first attack minor bump to damage. Not a big deal but so cheap even a 1st level character w/o any scenarios can use it and at early levels every point of damage can matter

- masterwork armor, weapon, thieves tools - all fairly inexpensive and grant some nice benefits

- masterwork backpack to help lower STR (and heck even higher STR) characters carry just a little bit more w/o penalties

- alchemist fire - cheap and gives you at early levels something to do against swarms. But also note that at some mid-levels arcane caster may want to explore how using alchemical items can enhance certain spells....

- pre-knotted rope - a knotted rope really helps those heavy armor, low dex members of your party with their climb checks

- healers kit (for folks with a heal skill)

- extra backup weapon, holy symbol, spell components pouch (when you need this you will really need it)

when you have a bit of money that old standby - Handy Haversack (and for archers Efficient Quiver). Makes worries about encumbrance far less pressing - and for archers the quiver makes it easier to carry a selection of arrow types

weapon blanches - can really help especially at mid-levels when you first encounter DR

for casters - Pearls of Power... yes it is basic but oh so helpful (heck for non-casters investing in a level 2 pearl to hand to your divine caster in the party for an extra lesser restoration could save your party...)

speaking of which - scrolls of lesser restoration or if you can afford it a wand of lessor restoration is likely going to see a lot of use

For archers there is a new bracers that grants Aspect of the Falcon (from Ultimate Equipment) - pretty insanely great - even my Eagle Domain Druid / Zen Archer who already preps Aspect of the Falcon every day (domain spell) will be buying this ASAP.


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So we have a venue and a warhorn page and shortly a registration page (via Eventbrite - not quite up yet - registration is required but free)

Here is the link to the Warhorn:

I've also added the first month of events to the events page here at

The plan is to have a geek game night every Wednesday evening here in San Francisco. We'll be playing at Yetizen Innovation Labs, a local incubator for gaming startups who have graciously opened their space to us for a regular night of game playing.

We should have 2-3, perhaps more, tables of PFS as well as people playing a variety of other games. I've added a few low-tier scenarios to Warhorn to get us started but if you would like to play a specific scenario (or run one) get in touch with me and I'll add it to the warhorn. I definitely expect a number of players who are new to PFS so wanted to start out with some introductory scenarios.

Hopefully the great Bay Area Pathfinder Society can support one more regular night of gaming fun!

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The rules are fairly clear that you can use ANY weapon for a trip (or disarm actually) - and apply the relevant weapon focus/training or feats like Weapon Finesse if you have them. The special abilities give certain extras (in Trip's case however this isn't a very big one - just avoiding dropping the weapon if you fail miserably)

In terms of the OP's question a few recommendations:

- look at either taking a dip into Monk early on if you want to go the Grapple route - free Improved Unarmed Strike plus the monk bonus feat which can be for Improved Grapple. Look at the Maneuver Monk archetype in particular as it is fantastic for a dip (consider 2 levels for the second bonus feat & evasion - and the +3 to all saves is nearly another two-three free feats itself - Iron Will, Lightening Reflexes ++)

- for the fighter class consider strongly playing the Lore Warden. It will likely lean you towards taking a high INT for your build (gives you 2 bonus skill points per level limited to INT skills, all INT skills as class skills - yes that's very Knowledge, Spellcraft etc) but the kicker for a maneuver build is the Lore Warden's scaling with levels straight bonus to CMB & CMD + the Lore Warden's FREE Combat Expertise. You give up Bravery (but if you also dip Monk your saves will make up for that most likely) and you are limiting yourself to Light Armor.

But remember that a maneuver focused fighter likely prefers maneuverability over super high AC so it may be a good tradeoff to consider. But it does mean that the Lore Warden can be a bit MAD (Int being useful, STR as a fighter often good and DEX definitely helpful if you are only going to wear light armor)

My Lore Warden for PFS play is a high DEX & INT build with a far lower STR. So i'm going the weapon finesse route with him over two handed weapons - but still considering Power Attack. I haven't, yet, dipped a second class with him but I'm considering Maneuver Master Monk quite strongly (the other option for him is probably Magus as with an 18int he would be getting a great deal from the magus levels)

Very fun character to play - and quite different from a more traditional fighter.


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Perhaps then can I suggest a sticky thread here or a page that gathers up all such updates, errata and clarifications/faqs? Something to help both new and experienced players and especially GM's who may have missed a blog post or a message board thread and want to know what other changes and errata they should know about. I do think players playing a character should do some research but it would be easy to miss such errarta if it isn't listed on the FAQ pages, the additional resources page or the official errata page.

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hmm just noticed that I could also just take Power Attack (as I do have a STR of 13 already) so perhaps that's the easier route - is there any drawback to taking Power Attack over Piranha Strike?

(the only - admittedly edge case I can imagine is if I were ever to get STR damage I'd lose the use of Power Attack - but would still qualify to use Piranha Strike). Power Attack would also be useful when/if I used another weapon - as I do occasionally but likely that's not a very common occurrence for this particular character)

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So the question(s) then are what are good feat progression chains for a Weapon Finesse focused fighter? (in my case Lore Warden). My current feats are:

Iron wlll (1st level base feat, to help w/very weak will saves)

Combat Expertise (bonus feat for being a Lore Warden, in place of Bravery)

Combat Reflexes (1st level fighter bonus feat - have 18 DEX & Fencer trait that gives +1 to AoO's with blades - challenge is setting up to get lots of AoOs...)

Weapon Finesse (2nd level fighter bonus feat)

Improved Trip (3rd level feat) - to really leverage Lore Warden's +2 to CMB/CMD as well as setup for plenty of AoO's - result when combining with Weapon Finesse & +1 Rapier is a +12 CMB at level 3 on Trip attempts - +13 if done as AoO's with the rapier!)

One option for Level 4 would be Piranha Strike which would really help my damage output. But other feats I'm considering are:

Weapon Focus (Rapier)
Weapon Specialization (Rapier) (can't have too much damage bonuses) [would be great if I could get both of these at level 4 via retraining but giving up Combat reflexes or weapon finesse don't seem worth it]
Step Up (5' step as immediate action - to help trigger AoOs...)
Bodyguard (spend an AoO to do an Aid Another to help a teammate's AC when they are attacked)
Greater Trip (when my BAB is +6 seems very very good)
Tripping Strike (at BAB +9 seems useful with high crit weapon... especially if Keen by then)
Greater Weapon Focus
Greater Weapon Specialization
Improved Initiative [always worthwhile.... ]
Greater Iron Will [reroll that key will save... ]

and of course if I decide to multiclass this character my feat selection gets even more complicated depending on that class...

So suggestions? Is Piranha Strike something I should prioritize highly? Perhaps even above Weapon Focus etc? (clearly this character's first weapon category for Weapon Training will be light weapons at level 5... )


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There are actually a few other spells that Tieflings and Aasimars as Outsiders (Native) avoid or interact with differently (or in a few cases their corpses can't be used):

Ghoul Hunger

Create Undead (Outsider corpses can't be used for many types of Undead, if this impacts a player they have a rather major problem - i.e. being dead)

Antilife Shell (Outsiders can pass through the shell) - though this probably won't show up in most PFS play except perhaps at the highest level modules

Also noteworthy is that certain class or creature abilities won't work on Outsiders. For example the Witch's Charm hex only works on humanoids.

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I've been following the threads about Aasimars and Tieflings being Outsiders (Native) and wanted to try to assemble a nearly complete list of spells (and other effects) that don't effect Outsiders to use as a helpful tool at the play table. I mostly play PFS but this could be useful outside of PFS play as well.

Based on my initial searches here are the spells I have found, so far, that have a TARGET of Humanoid (so do not effect Aasimars, Tieflings or other Outsiders.

Daze & Mass Daze

Enlarge Person
Reduce Person
Charm Person
Vocal Alteration

Ghoul Touch (the spell, the actual Ghoul's don't appear to have a "living humanoid" requirement)
Ghoul Hunger
Early Judgement
Mad Hallucination

Hold Person

Skeleton Crew (Outsider corpses can't be used, if this impacts a player they have a bigger problem)

Dominate Person


Create Undead (Outsider corpses can't be used for many types of Undead, if this impacts a player they have a rather major problem - i.e. being dead)

Antilife Shell (Outsiders can pass through the shell)


Are there any other spells (or other special effects/attacks) which I have missed that may come up in play that effect humanoids but not Outsiders?


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Has anyone taken an inventory of the boons available via various scenarios taken any steps to make sure that at least a few other PFS scenarios make those boons usable? (I'm talking about the many boons that have specific city or regional limitations)

In almost every case I've seen so far as a player I've yet to see one of these regionally specific boons to be usable in any future scenarios I've played.

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Actually the character is fine.

There are "Racial" traits and "Race Traits" which are two very different things.

Racial traits are one of the rare types of bonuses (Dodge and some circumstance being the other two) that DO stack. This is particularly important as there are many spells which grant Racial traits (especially for Perception in fact).

Racial traits are inherent abilities of a given race. Some of them give Feats (Adaptability for Half-Elves) which is what is giving the bonus here - Skill Focus (Perception) which definitely stacks with other bonuses.

Race Traits are one of the many categories of Traits (Campaign Traits is another). The rules generally are you can't have multiple traits of the same type (so only one Campaign Trait etc). In this case there is only one trait the character has - a campaign trait.

That, in turn, is giving the character Perception as a Class Skill - which is quite a nice Trait but a fairly common type of Trait.

I have a character which is similar to this player's character (playing a class which has Perception as a class skill but otherwise fairly similar choices). At level 4 I have a baseline perception of +17 and often much higher - +19 if my familiar is within arms reach (Alertness) and +22 if the perception check is sight based (or opposed) in broad daylight (since my familiar is a hawk) and my familiar is within arm's reach or +20 if my familiar is flying farther away (less than a 1 mile) and the check is in broad daylight. Yeah, a tad more complicated but definitely one of the things my character has specialized in doing.

Sure it means I can sometimes track fleeing invisible foes (character is a multiclassed monk - so he can give chase quite well) but I still have to be looking for the right things. If I'm concentrating on say finding traps I may very well miss something else. As a player I have to be specific in what my character is doing - and the rest of the party certainly has acted impulsively triggering traps I probably would have spotted (and/or moving forward ahead of me and triggering ambushes etc)


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My point is that not every player knows how to correctly calculate APL - GM's should do that to avoid any cases of players playing in tiers they can't legally play (either too low of a level of a character or too high) - it can also give a good sense of if the party is really stretching to qualify for a tier (but still do) or if they are solidly at a higher tier.

I think there is also a big difference between a GM and players who play together regularly and a group at a convention or open game night where few people know each other's characters and play styles. In either case I think it is the GM's responsibility to make sure that any newer players (either new to the group or new to playing PFS) fully understand their options before playing up (at a minimum offering them the choice to play a pre-gen in lieue of playing up if a pre-gen would fit the tier of that group - which typically is the case between the 1st, 4th and 7th level pre-gens)

In our PFS group we are also lucky that we have a lot of players who are also GM's so we've often split off to two tables if we get a lot of players or have players with characters in different tiers - but not every group will have the GMs and the space to add a table to accomodate more players.

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