The problem isn't the ability to build characters without social skills (although that's a problem too). The problem is that only the highest score in the party counts. A system that mechanically involves characters other than the party face would make social skills worthwhile.
In the games I have played in, each character has diverse interests, and would be interested in talking to different NPCs and asking about different things. Thus while often the party face and their high score is the most important piece to progress, having multiple people with strong social skills can be incredibly useful. Each PC will ask about different things, and having decent social skills means that they can gather more information.
I don't think the system needs to mechanically involve other characters. I think the involvement of other characters in social situations relies on the GM having NPCs that will interest and engage the different PCs.
I've had a pseudo-plan that worked far better than I had anticipated or thought was possible. Honestly, it probably has gone a bit too far, but my party loves what is going on so I don't really want to stop it.
Council of Thieves spoilers:
The original party was a barbarian, and ranger, and an oracle of lore. They were struggling because they were somewhat poorly built, though I was helping them out with a DM PC (eventually, they got their footing and the DM PC faded back to being an NPC). The player of the ranger was pretty unhappy with her character, because she was having to act as the glue to keep the party together. She had originally built the character to be a spastic, super-hyper, ADD gnome, and thus was especially unhappy at being force to break her character and make him the party leader. To rectify this, I told her to re-roll, and that I would be able to kill off her ranger really easily. The player is someone who really likes sneaky, deceptive characters. So she decided to re-roll as a tiefling summoner (named Aubrey), who was in league with the Council of Thieves, and was sent to spy on the party. After some discussion, we came to an understanding that she would be allowed to play this PC provided she lay down clues for the rest of the party to find out who she really is, and that if she every took it too far, Aubrey would become an NPC.
So, the party is entering the Asmodean Knot, a demi-plane where the Chelish Crux is rumored to be hidden. The Chelish Crux supposedly has the key to Delvehaven, an abandoned Pathfinder Lodge that is thought to be linked to the rise in the number of shadow beasts in Westcrown. Upon entering the Asmodean Knot, the party stumbles upon the corpse of an elven thief captured long ago, and killed recently by Aubrey and her associate. In the elf's pack, they find a runecurse trap to summon a bone devil (aka, my convenient, AP-provided method of killing the ranger).
The party continues on, eventually finding a prison area, where Aubrey is imprisoned as a ruse to gain their sympathy and trust. During the initial introductions, I controlled Aubrey and had her story be shaky and occasionally change. Since tieflings and half-elves look somewhat similar, Aubrey tried to pass herself off as the half-elven cousin of the elven thief the party found earlier. Despite her multiple inconsistencies in her explanation of who she was and how she came to be imprisoned in the Asmodean Knot, the party bought it.
Just a day later in game, the runecurse is triggered, and a bone devil appears, kidnaps the ranger and takes him back to hell (since the player wanted to possibility of the ranger coming back). The other players were completely shocked by this event. I passed Aubrey's character sheet back to the player, and immediately one of the other players said, "Good thing there is an NPC for you to control until we get out of the Asmodean Knot and can meet your next character".
My players were thoroughly convinced that Aubrey was an NPC that was designed to be played by the person who had their character kidnapped by the bone devil until they were able to rescue the PC. Aubrey's player and I decided not to correct them on this, in part because the players would be more suspicious of an NPC and thus more likely to find out that Aubrey was a double-agent than if they knew she was a PC. But we were very careful not to encourage it in any way. Not once did we acknowledge, refer to, or treat Aubrey as an NPC. The AP, however, convinced them for us. In the Asmodean Knot, they conveniently encountered an imp that they were able to persuade to cast Commune to get information on their missing ranger friend. The final treasure cache contained a Scroll of Scrying, so they could attempt to find out where the ranger was. The next event outside of the Asmodean Knot involved winning the Devildrome, a summons-based arena fight, and they were extremely glad that the AP saw fit to provide them with a summoner in case their regular party didn't have one. ALL of this was just from the AP as written, and supported their theory that one of them was supposed to be captured, replaced by an NPC temporarily, and then rescued. This completely cemented their belief that Aubrey was an NPC ally, rather than a subversive PC.
Eventually, Aubrey betrayed the party by stealing the Morrowfall (a magical McGuffin with sunlight-based powers), as well as an insane amount of loot, and became an NPC. At the time of the theft, the player was in game trying to get Aubrey caught, so as not to deprive the party of important items and wealth. However, none of the PCs took the hints that Aubrey was dodgey and maybe shouldn't be in charge of carrying all of the loot, and none of them caught her in the act of the theft. Though she is now revealed to be an evil tiefling and is no longer part of the party, they still are unaware of her connections to the Council of Thieves.
I have been using Aubrey as a useful GM Fiat machine, as she has pulled the PC's corpses from the wreckage of a TPK, and has returned the Morrowfall to them at the right moment to help them save one of their favorite NPCs and defeat the vampire boss of book 5. The kicker to me, is that Aubrey was introduced in the middle of book 2, and we are at the end of book 5, and at least one of the players is STILL convinced that Aubrey is an NPC from the AP that is on their side.
I must say, even assuming that the army was always a group of paladins, it is not hard to imagine that the PCs are much better off dealing with the Chimera themselves.
Yes, the paladins can Smite Evil, but if the Chimera attacks after a day of combat, the paladins may have already used their Smites in the battle. Without Smite, they are going to have significant troubles getting through the DR.
Even if they still have their Smites, the Chimera's breath attack does 8d8 damage in a 40' cone, with a save DC high enough to make it difficult for the paladins to succeed on the reflex save. With some good luck for the Chimera, and some pretty bad luck/positioning for the paladins, the Chimera could end up taking out 1/4 of the army on each action. After one full round of combat, he might be able to route the army.
So having the paladin army kill him would be possible, but would result in significant losses. Losses that they really can't afford.
In a 4e homebrew, I once managed to open a portal to hell in the stomach of our group's paladin by feeding him cursed pastries made out of orphans.
What's worse is the entire party thought I had been doing the paladin a favor. An openly evil party member kept trying to trick him into eating orphan-pastries, and my cleric kept intervening. Since my cleric claimed to worship the same god as the paladin, and no one noticed I was holding a holy symbol of Vecna instead of Lathander, they assumed I kept replacing the orphan-pastries with normal ones. Unfortunately the game ended right after the portal opened due it being the end of school.
In my mind, sundering is perfectly fair, provided it is not taken to the extreme. If every encounter has the PCs fighting a group of sunder barbarians, that is too far.
The danger is that people tend to overspecialize. Rather than having a back-up weapon or two, they invest everything into one weapon. Then, yeah, when it gets sundered it is a huge loss. If they had invested just a bit less in their primary weapon, they could have a pretty solid back-up. By the time you are putting the +3 equivalent enchantment on your Sword of Awesome!, you can afford to instead get a couple Swords of Great to serve as a back-up. This way, if your primary weapons gets sundered, you lose less money and are not hurt as much because you have a decent spare.
There is a disconnect, I feel, in what players want and what would be practical. If you have a bard that is entirely based off of using whips, why would he not pack a spare? He is just going out and adventuring with only one of the weapon he can use effectively, blindly trusting that nothing will happen that will make him lose it? That is, quite frankly, dumb.
Daehsquinn has a decent idea. Ilnerik would want to keep it close, but only the human thieves of Walcourt would really want to touch it. He would probably have Jerusan store it in the treasure room or something.
Alternatively, you could have it be in the possession of Sandor the Strange, Walcourt's wizard. He might have stolen it to examine it. Or it could be in Maglin's room, and he could have stolen it because he doesn't trust the vampires/dark folk, and sees it as a potential weapon.
Depending on your parties actions, they could have an agent inside of Walcourt. The AP supplies you with a couple potential agents (Jarvis and Aberten). You could have the agent steal the Morrowfall and return it to the PCs, or have the PCs find the agent's dead body clutching it.
My group had a similar problem where the Morrowfall was stolen (by a former PC who was a double-agent for the Council). They are going to be getting the Morrowfall back by finding Sclavo (the paladin wannabe in the Children of Westcrown) with it in one of the Walcourt jail cells. He will have been horribly tortured and somewhat insane, and clutching it desperately to keep the "demons" away. I am mean to my NPCs . . .
Responding to the OP, since the active discussion has entered the realm of "there will never be a consensus":
I have a Dwarven Fighter named Thorngar with a Charisma of 5. Of course, the 5 Charisma was the point of the build, as the DM was new and I have a history of making high Charisma characters that are disruptive to the plot via making absurd Diplomacy/Bluff/Intimidate checks. Unfortunately, Thorngar's insane antics have resulted in him being a party favorite, even though he should be a social pariah.
However, I have seen this regularly occur in builds that one of my players makes. He is an absurd min-maxer. The first character he built was a Witch where he had dumped her physical stats to the point where there was only a ~20% chance an attack from the first enemies in the AP would leave her conscious. Yes . . . attack, not hit.
His first actual character was an Oracle of Lore with 6 Dex (so she could have 19 Charisma at level 1). One of the favorite moments of the campaign was when there was a sloping tunnel that required acrobatics checks (DC 10) to navigate. Failure cause you to slide uncontrollably and take damage. The oracle entered the tunnel, and a few rounds later her unconscious body slid out the other end, coming to a stop at the barbarian's feet.
His second character of in the campaign I run is a cavalier with, I believe, 7 Int. He didn't really dump anything else though.
His character in our Skull and Shackles campaign is a Gunslinger with 7 Int and 7 Cha, because he needed to get his Dex to 19 at level 1. Amusingly enough (to me at least), his "super optimized" character is not noticeably more effective than any of the rest of the party.
So . . . yes. There are people who actually play these builds. In my experience, unless the dump stat is the focus of the build . . . it is not worth it.
As was pointed out, her sword was not Radiance. If it had been Radiance, she not only wouldn't have sold it, but would have given her an element of fame as the wielder of Yaniel's blade (in addition to her fame for uncovering Staunton Vhane's treachery).
As for the "selling advanced weaponry" angle, you need to put it in context. She sold her sword to a merchant in a town on the edge of the Worldwound that is filled with crusaders. She had no clue that her sword would end up in the hands of the enemy. Most likely, the merchant would sell it to another crusader in the city, as demon-slaying swords are probably in pretty high demand. Said crusader would likely use the sword to combat evil, potentially to a greater effect than she would. So the most likely scenario is that the longsword ends up still doing good for the crusades. The fact that the sword fell into the hands of a traitor was unforeseeable. However, even if she thought the enemy could get a hold of it . . . the enchantment doesn't hold much benefit for people fighting against the crusaders. She would have given her enemies a single +1 longsword.
The real value of the sword was in its sentimental value; it was her father's blade. Her selling her sword to get Anevia's potion was basically her sacrificing a memento of her dead parents to help the woman she loves. Self-sacrifice for the benefit of someone else? Certainly sounds paladin-like to me.
Once they get topside, there will be a lot of opportunities to tempt the little guy. After all, a ruined city running amok with demons? Fun times!
One other interesting thing to consider is at the climax . . .
When the wardstone explodes, it damages Jeslyn and her allies, and doesn't harm the PCs and their allies. To the PCs, this will seem to be a simplified "hurts demons, doesn't hurt normal folk".
If Kreggal is accompanying the PCs to this point, having him be unharmed (or take severely reduced damage) by the explosion of the wardstone would be a significant sign of "he's well on the way of redemption".
In addition, it could be that exposure to the power of the wardstone, or having a wardstone fragment lodged into him, enables his redemption. Could also be a catalyst for if you want him to change to be a different, good-aligned planar being once redeemed. The PCs get mythic tiers, he begins to transform into a Lyrakien or something.
*Edit:* Or to build off of Flamehawke, the wardstone explosion could reawaken his memories and attitude from life when he was devoted to Iomedae
I find that rolling Initiative is generally a good way to get my players in a pseudo-combat mindset. Like, I will have them roll initiative if they are about to enter an area where timing and movement are important. Like if there is a trap in the room, I might have them roll initiative to get them in the mindset of "we need to be moving our pieces, and acting in turn". Often this can be accomplished by just going around the table, and reminding people to move their tiles, but sometimes having an initiative is good for conveying tension, as they are expecting potential turn-based events and/or battle. In my mind, it is a tool for me to use as the DM to increase player tension, though I generally preface any not-clearly-combat roll for initiative as a "hey guys, roll initiative so I can track some stuff better".
I also consider not-obvious-combat initiative rolls to be perfectly legitimate at times. For example, if the party stumbles across a group of travelers in the woods, I might have them roll initiative because, unbeknownst to them, there are bandits moving in to ambush them and the travelers. The point being, after initiative is rolled, even if it is for combat, it might not be for combat with something you can see.
However, from a purely roleplaying perspective, I don't think initiative=combat makes sense. In the situation described by the OP, they saw some people, rolled initiative, and then he attacked. What is the in-character effect of rolling initiative? Is it a measure of preparedness to react to a situation? Is it intensity? I sincerely doubt that in character there is some huge noticeable affect of time slowing down, or flashing "Ready? FIGHT!" light. From the in character perspective . . . they saw the other people, they tensed up, perhaps sensing something amiss, and then decided that this tension was best resolved by attacking the people they just saw. Should the DM have been more descriptive? Likely (though we only have the player's version of events). Is "as a player I did something that almost always means combat" a good rationale for a character to start attacking people? No, that is clearly metagaming.
I would add that for Skull and Shackles, I think you get what you put into it. If your players want to be pirates, and will get excited/have fun with it, it can be great. With my group, I am not a pirate fan, and only 1 or 2 of the group is actually acting "piratey". The rest are either just kind of there, or playing "amoral mercenary" and trying to pass it off as a pirate. Combined with a GM who is also not a big pirate fan, and the AP seems to drag and is not terribly fun. It is not bad . . . but kind of meh, in my opinion. The fun we is have tends to be independent of the AP content, rather than stemming from it. I have no doubt that if we were all buying into the pirate theme, it would be much better. Like with Aconyte said about Kingmaker, make sure your players are buying into the premise of "we are pirates" before choosing it.
I think Rise of the Runelords is a great AP to run, especially because, as Kolokotroni said, there are a ton of resources to draw from since it has been around for so long.
Uncertainty Lich wrote:
Both the GM & player knew it was an intimidate check and not a demoralize check.
A demoralize check is an Intimidate check. That is why it the mechanics for demoralize are explained as part of the Intimidate rules. It is a use of Intimidate. The other option is to use Intimidate to influence attitude. You pick one use of Intimidate when you use the check.
For me that meant however he was now convinced that they really did it, he's drunk and he feels honor-bound now to his threat before to declare a blood-feud (which apparently is a big thing to Ulfen), so while he was shaken from the Intimidate he'd still rage and attack.
Seems like the OP was ruling the Intimidate was a demoralize. Otherwise, the fact the barbarian was shaken would not have entered play. I do not see anything suggesting his line of thinking was, "hey, the barbarian is upset enough that this influence attitude check is instead a demoralize".
This was not a case of "I can't have the barbarian ditch no matter what!", it was a case of, "well, the PC just demoralized the barbarian . . . but I think in character the barbarian would still be angry enough to lash out regardless". Making an NPC shaken does not guarantee that they will flee. It makes it more likely . . . but not a guarantee.
Well, with Martial Versatility, you can take the feat twice early on (level 4 and 6), once for Weapon Focus, and once for Weapon Specialization, and then at level 16 re-train one of them out for Martial Mastery. Then, for most of the fighter's career he is able to at least not worry about Weapon Focus or Weapon Specialization going away when forced to use a different weapon in the weapon group.
Also, Martial Mastery kind of is a powerful feat, as it applies to all weapon-specific combat feats, from any number of weapon groups. So, with a cost of 2 feats, you can ensure that any weapon-specific feat applies to an entire weapon group, which is pretty sweet. Level 16 seems a reasonable time to be granted such a potentially powerful feat.
Personally, I think the human restriction should be removed, and that maybe Martial Mastery should come automatically for fighters, perhaps bundled with Weapon Training. So, when you get Weapon Training, you get the standard +1 Atk/Dmg, and can start applying weapon-specific feats to all weapons in the group. It would help further establish the fighter's role as kind of a versatile master of martial combat.
Even if a fighter specializes in daggers and hand-crossbows he's still going to see useable light blades and crossbows come up very regularly.
Ranger: Sucks to be you! No awesome greatswords around here! You are gimped forever!
Fighter: Well, shoot. I mean, if you give me an aldori duelling sword, a bastard sword, a chakram, an elven curve blade, a falcata, a falchion, a flambard, a greatsword, a katana, a longsword, a scimitar, a scythe, or another such weapon, I am only missing out on my weapon focus/weapon specialization feats. But still, I am utterly gimped when denied a greatsword!
You contradict yourself. The DM determined it produced the "shaken" condition, as you stated. So it was a successful Intimidate check with under the "demoralize" rules. So . . . the player's attempt was not invalid at all, it worked and was accounted for. How was the PC's attempt inherently invalid, as you claim? It was accounted for, as you yourself state.
There is no "quiet auto-fail" here. There is the player thinking "intimidate will get this guy to back off", doing something that seemed more like a "demoralize" than an "influence attitude", and the DM found that the "demoralize" succeeded. The fact that the viking attacked despite being Shaken (and in response to having his very serious grievance dismissed out of hand) is just a repercussion of the fact that the NPC was angry enough about his dog to not be dissuaded because of fear.
Once again, I ask to all people saying he needed to verify the type of Intimidate check this:
If you go up to a stranger and he says, "F*** off or I'll kill you!" and pushes past you, is he . . .
Option a is a very reasonable assumption. I can't find any fault with a DM who is told that a character does this, with no further explanation of intent from the PC, and comes to the conclusion that they meant for a Demoralize.
As for the "was there any way to know the NPC would attack?", well, that is mostly on the PC in my mind. The viking dude already said he plans to declare a blood feud, that is pretty much establishing that he is ready to fight about it. I don't think a Sense Motive is required to ascertain that the NPC might attack if mishandled, just Common Sense.
Simple question, if you approach someone on the street, and they tell you "F off or I'll kill you!", and push past you, would you ask for clarification as to whether they are trying to scare you or coerce you into treating them like a friend? Because that is, in a nutshell, what happened. To me, it is obvious said person is not trying to coerce me into treating me like a friend, he is scaring me and hoping that I will flee in fear.
The full minute Intimidate is meant to represent coercion due to fear. It is the, "Tell me where the weapon is, or you shall suffer!". The person wouldn't normally do this task, but you are being so scary and threatening that they are bending to your will and acting as though you were a friend out of fear.
The shorter version is the "Fear me puny mortal!" effect. Now, there is some overlap, because a shaken person might act differently than normal. Would someone normal run away in terror from another person? Probably not. If they were really scary and threatening to kill them? Much more likely. The question really is, whether the "f off" was part of the "I'm scary!" bit, or was it an attempt to get them to act friendly toward you. In my mind, a command to flee really does not meet the criteria of wanting them to act friendly toward you. If your friends flee from you in terror, and you expect/desire that, then you have some issues.
All that being said, Intimidate is innately nebulous, and at times silly. In one of my parties, the most intimidating person by raw Intimidate skill, even after factoring in size modifiers, is the happy-go-lucky gnomish sorcerer. The least intimidating? The horribly scarred dwarven fighter who has been banned from every bar in the country for brawling and believes waraxes are critical tools for "diplomacy". Yeah . . . makes a ton of sense.
Seems like it was fine.
One of the things I notice with my group is their complete aversion to using things like Sense Motive to figure out the best angles for their diplomacy/intimidate. While there are increases to the DC based on the target's attitude, there are quite often bonuses available to make it easier. For example, no doubt if the player had offered to buy the NPC a drink, and lamented about the loss of his own beloved dog, that would have improved the check.
Knowing what to say, and how to say it, is vital to diplomacy/intimidate, and to obtain that knowledge, your character needs to be able to ferret it out, and you as a player need to be willing to look for it. It is why in Skull and Shackles, my druid actually had success at gaining allies. I may have had a -1 to Diplomacy, but my Sense Motive of 7 ensured that I was at least saying something that the person would like hearing.
Lord Pendragon wrote:
I'm pretty amazed at how some players feel diplomacy and intimidate work. They feel that a high roll should always grant them a positive result. But in-game, as in the real world, sometimes no matter how smooth a talker you are, or how intimidating you are, people have reasons to do what they're going to do.
Something that the group I DM has been learning the hard way. First, that insinuating to a drunken girl that you were sleeping with her paladin boyfriend might upset her, Diplomacy check of 37 notwithstanding. Second, beware what you ask, because asking a chick to lower her veil so you can see her face is not a good idea when she is actually a medusa.
Captain Siorcan - F Human CN Shark Shaman Druid 4. Really paranoid about losing crew, because the people closest to her have a tendency to die (both in her backstory and during the campaign). Didn't want to be the captain, she just wanted to go back to being a regular sailor on a merchant ship. Is incredibly rash, and gained respect from the crew by the sheer number of times she did something that was clearly suicidal, and came out on top. Is the best sailor of the bunch. Has a pet shark that is brilliant (for a shark), and judges everything based on how tasty it is.
Halbarad Derygis - M Half-elf NE Rogue 4. The smooth talker of the group. Has a very romanticized view of piracy, and is in it for the glory. Considers himself to be very sly and quite the ladies man. Nominated Siorcan as Captain, and then took position as First Mate.
Tyr - M Human NE Gunslinger 4. Ill-tempered, and seldom speaks. Has a lust for violence, but the rest of the party has earned his respect in combat. Often plays the role of enforcer, and tends to get carried away if left to his own devices.
The Weatherwitch - F Elf CN Stormborn Sorcerer 4. Despite her high charisma, the Weatherwitch is completely inept at reading social situations, relying solely on her good looks and natural likeability to get by. She has no experience with sailing or ships, and thus is as much a hindrance as a help in running the ship. Has bonded with Elin due to her having a familiar.
Elin - F Half-elf CN Oracle of Lore 4. Drifter who is keenly interested in collecting knowledge and stories. Has a raven familiar that is fascinated by Siorcan's shark companion, and is the object of The Weatherwitch's fascination. Has a tendency to be left in charge of the crew while the rest of the party charges forth. As a result, we have had to teach the crew basic Aquan, as Elin only speaks Aquan in battle.
Seems like the Crossbowman could be a very useful niche-fighter. He won't compete with an archer in damage, but the abilities could be best used as caster lockdown. In the DPR contest though, he will lose because everything about the Crossbowman seems built around the readied action, which means he has to rely on standard actions to get his damage out, and he just won't be able to keep up.
I'm thinking, in an urban campaign, you can have a Crossbowman stationed on the rooftops. His job is to identify the casters, and use readied actions to snipe them when they attempt to cast. His job is not to deal damage, but to lock down the caster. Could be very effective in that role, but it would definitely be a "your mileage may vary", and probable more effective as an NPC than a PC. They would become especially potent late-game at this role, as at level 15, when they snipe as a readied action they can be attacking an AC of 10+Deflection, so they should just about never miss.
Might also be worthwhile to multiclass into rogue/ninja/vivisectionist after level 7 to enable sneak attack damage on your snipes. This would limit you to 1/2 of your Dex on damage for readied actions, but the Sneak Attack damage should make up for that damage loss. Would be a question of if the other class abilities made up for halting the crossbowman progression. I wish that Improved Deadshot came earlier, because it would make the archetype much better as something for sniper rogues to dip into.
To be fair the only time diplomacy, and therefore charisma, matters to a captain mechanically is if you're piloting a manpowered ship. Since you're piloting a sailing ship, profession: sailor is the necessary skill. The fighter in my group, I'm sure, has an average to low charisma. The halfling bard is the charismatic one and she's boatswain and is in charge of raising infamy and recruiting crew. The captain just pilots the boat. I'm just putting this out there becuase a few posts seem to be assuming the captain has to be charismatic.
Mechanically speaking, this is true. However, having a decent social skilled captain makes sense as they are the likely representative for the ship and crew as you gain power and potentially join the Pirate Council. Also, would be good in terms of making sure the crew doesn't mutiny. So not absolutely necessary, but also not a bad idea.
Was . . . interesting for our group.
Group is an extremely ill-tempered gunslinger, a socially awkward sorcerer, a rogue with a romanticized view of pirates, and a druid who was an experienced sailor (my character).
Basically, the gunslinger and the sorcerer were automatically out of the running. Neither seemed interested, neither were particularly good sailors, and neither were particularly well liked by the crew.
The contest was really between the rogue, who had been the one winning over the crew and slowly seducing the women aboard the ship. And the druid, whose rash actions had given her a reputation of "she's insane, but she keeps winning in unwinnable situations". Of them, the rogue seemed to have clear aspirations of becoming an infamous pirate, and the druid really just wanted to be a regular sailor again.
The druid's most notable "this chick is insane" moment was in the Owlbear fight, she managed to defeat him without getting hit once, and hitting each time for max damage. When a club was tossed to Owlbear, she pulled out her own club, and tossed it aside as a taunt to Plugg. When she won and spared Owlbear (and was denied her prize), she called Plugg a dishonorable coward in front of the entire crew. If the Intimidate roll had not been a 0, the mutiny might have been triggered then and there, or at least she would have been keelhauled. After a few similar events, she developed quite a reputation as the loose cannon of our group.
Right after seizing the ship, the rogue gave a speech to the crew naming the druid as the captain. This was quickly seconded by the gunslinger threatening to kill anyone who disagreed. And thus the druid, too much of an emotional wreck to provide input due to recent events, had the role of captain thrust upon her. The rogue is First Mate, the Gunslinger is the Boatswain/Master Gunner, and the sorcerer is the ship's mage.
Now there is an interesting dynamic where the rogue (both the character and the player of the rogue) seems to want to be doing captain stuff, and may have intended to be the true power, with a lower profile. And the druid is trying to figure out how to be a good captain while also keeping the rogue in check.
There was also the metagame angle for this decision as I am probably the most experienced in my group, and I generally play the party face role (though with my druid's negative to Charisma and no social skills, I definitely am not this time). Also, I think that the gunslinger and sorcerer players would rather have me playing the captain than the rogue's player due to our social dynamic.
Stuff like the FEMEN stunt Shifty linked is, I think, more harmful than good.
Why? Because it oversteps "protest" and becomes a case of impinging on other people's rights of free speech and worship. It take what otherwise may be a worthy cause (though based on BNW wiki citation, seems to be an overreaction), and attempts to further it is a boorish, offensive manner. Honestly, if all I know about Sweden political climate was that FEMEN and the google search Shifty linked, my first though would be, "wow, Sweden is filled with offensive, racist nut jobs". I highly doubt that this vision of Sweden is what FEMEN wants to promulgate.
In one of the campaigns I play in, I play a dwarven fighter named Thorngar. The group doesn't let him make important decisions anymore, much to the relief of the DM.
The campaign is set in a ruined city, destroyed by a great fire thousands of years ago. Our intrepid band all live in the small village on a cliff overlooking the ruins, and the campaign started with us joining a guild that regularly sends expeditions down to the city for exploration. On a previous mission, we had discovered some secret tunnels underneath the city after the floor collapsed under us in a building that seemed like a theater. On this mission we also discovered some magical maps that enabled travel through the city via teleportation. One destination, known as the "Waterfall" led to a small cave right next to the village.
So we go down into the city, and start exploring the tunnels. After a while, we make our way into a building that seemed to be a spa, and there ran into 3 folks we were able to identify as citizens of the original city, who were very confused as the last they remembered, they were fleeing a fire. With these people in tow, we started teleporting around the city. Eventually, we somehow got sent back in time.
Now, what does a group of adventurers do when they suddenly find a ruined city actually in decent shape? Go back to home? Nah, that would be the logical thing, and what the DM would have prepared for. Thorngar had the brilliant idea of "let's go to the theater!". Why? Well, to see what is there! So we arrive at the theater to find a bunch of people, and immediately set about trying to convince everyone there that full-plate was in fashion, and they should start wearing it. That way, future us would get better gear when we looted the theater. After some schmoozing, Thorngar decided it was time to get drunk, so we went to a bar. Shortly after arriving at the bar, the cleric found out about a temple to her goddess and immediately rushed off to the temple and gave an impromptu, and remarkably well received, sermon.
Our poor DM, who had prepared for a bunch of encounters at the "Waterfall", and the site where the modern village would be, was left to wing it the entire session. Worse, Thorngar de-railed her scheme to get us back on track.
We were staying the night at the temple of the cleric's goddess, when the DM decided a night-time kidnapping would get us back on track. As such, we were visited in the night by 2 ancient dwarves, and 2 guys from the ancient race. Since we were sleeping in separate rooms, each of us got 1 opponent. Unfortunately, the DM forgot that dwarves had darkvision, and the members of the ancient race don't, so when Thorngar got ambushed in the night by a strange blue man swinging wildly at his bed, bad times ensued. Also unfortunately for the DM, Thorngar is a paranoid vagrant (and was established as such prior to the ambush). So while the blue man was stabbing at his bed, Thorngar was woken from his spot on the floor (feels more like a ditch, it's what he is used to), and was quite ready as he always goes to sleep cuddling his axe and shield. Thorngar managed to take out his attacker, and 1-2 others, almost took out the "boss" guy, and held off the press long enough for the sorcerer to run away. Thus not only de-railing the attempt to get us back on track, but also splitting the party.
Sounds like 3 things could be done to really curb the potential cheating:
The third thing is the biggest, because the second he does a "it's not supposed to be that way", you have clear proof of cheating.
My concern really is for book 2, where if he has read ahead he could ruin a lot of the fun for the rest of the party by knowing exactly what to ask and where to go.
The other thing to consider is that it is still possible he is not reading ahead. Seeing large doors to a cathedral in a dungeon is a cue that there may be something big and important there, so there he may only be guilty of metagaming. I know my group identified the zombie pits pretty much right after I read the description of the room. Hiding his screen from you is also not a scarlet letter. For all you know he may have a private chat conversation going on, or something else he doesn't want others to see. As such, directly accusing him may not be prudent yet, or at the very least you should handle it delicately if you choose to do so.
Grey Lensman wrote:
Agreed, I thought of Quingongg Monk of the 4 Winds too.
With Aang specifically, it might not be too difficult though. Remember, Aang struggled immensely with fire and earth, so focus on swapping Quingongg powers with water and wind themes, with maybe Scorching Ray to represent fire, and for earth, invest in feats or Quingongg-gained feats like Power Attack and Improved Bull Rush to show the greater stregth earth benders tend to be able to draw upon.
The other thing you could do is do Master of Many Styles with the different elemental styles. Then as you level, you basically become better at combining them until you can do them completely in sync. Unfortunately, unless your GM is generous you can't combine Four Winds and Master of Many Styles (which synergize well to create a complete Aang), as they both replace the capstone ability.
Death toll continues to rise. Up to 11, not counting an animal companion. For one player (Maruk/Aubrey), this was their first death. Another player (Davi/Z), who joined the campaign at the beginning of Delvehaven seems to be a death magnet, as he has died 5 times.
The Gory Details:
Adventure: The Infernal Syndrome
Location: Liebdaga's Chamber
Catalyst: Massacred by Liebdaga, clean-up by Sian and Zol
The Gory Details:
Z immediately cast invisibility on himself and attempted to run away, only to bounce off of Zol's chest. I have a rival evil group, headed by a former PC tiefling summoner named Aubrey, who is an agent of the Council of Thieves. Aubrey did a brief stint with the party, joining them for part of the Asmodean Knot and all of Delvehaven, before Halung's racism against tieflings apparently drove her to leave the party (really, she had snatched the Morrowfall, and wanted to make a clean getaway). The party knows she is evil, and a tiefling, but has no knowledge of her connection to the Council of Thieves, or her involvement in the Morrowfall theft. They still consider her an ally, and a member of the Children of Westcrown. I think one of the players thinks she is an AP-provided NPC. Aubrey led an expedition into the Nessian Spiral, backed up by Sian, Zol, and "The Dealer". This rival party was present during the battle, but were intended to observe only (I'm not, believe it or not, cruel to my players, I swear). However, with the battle basically already done, Aubrey ordered them to finish off Z. After all, Z was a noble from a rival house. She called for Liebdaga to cast a dispel, the pit fiend obliged, and Z fell to Zol's fist and Sian's sword shortly after.
Hermod and Halung awoke staring at the ceiling of the Children of Westcrown hideout. Thanks to Viti's ministrations, they live again, but Hermod is now an elf (and plans to get permanent Reduce Person ASAP), and Halung is a halfling. They listened in horror as Aubrey described Liebdaga's destruction of the SW portion of the city, and her explanation that she and her eidolon were able to drag their bodies out of Liebdaga's lair before he was fully unleashed upon the city. They are none the wiser regarding Aubrey's true allegiance; in fact, Halung trusts her more than ever.
I'm kind of happy with the TPK. Z's player thought that this session was one of the best to date, and is looking forward to a new character. Maruk/Aubrey's player is excited about a new character as well, in addition to her happiness as Aubrey's continued successful infiltration of the party. The players of Hermod and Halung both seemed to be in good spirits, and mostly amused that Halung is the character that has survived the entire AP. This was also an unaltered from the book Liebdaga, so let this be a warning that while he seems really weak on paper, against an unoptomized party he can still be devastating.
A discussion on whether or not you need to be 17th-level to craft a pearl of power has ZERO bearing on whether or not you can change an item's default caster level.
Agreed. Saying that it doesn't make sense for a Pearl of Power for level 1 spells to have a CL of 17 is not the same as saying all wondrous items should have a CL equal to the lowest CL required to cast component spells. What SKR was saying is that for Pearls of Power specifically, the CL should be adjusted to the power of spells it can grant. Applying this to all wondrous items is, in my mind, twisting his words in a manner he did not originally intend (not that I claim to know his intentions).
My party had two bouts with Erylium, the first where they were forced to flee due to sustained injured and unpreparedness. The second proved that the dice wanted to kill them (but with a bit of fudging, they made it through).
New Enemies! Swa bleeding out in the runewell has expended all remaining charges, summoning 2 fresh sinspawn (though one was very weak as only 2 sin points were used to summon it)
Battle commences, the sinspawn get mopped up fairly quickly, though the frequency of their max damage attacks hint at things to come. They almost kill James in the process (he remains unconscious for the rest of the battle). The dice then take a definite turn against the party.
Audra fails her save vs. Cause Fear, and gets to spend the max 4 rounds running in terror
Mia finally was able to jump up and grab Erylium, pin her, and tie her up. 2 coup de grace attempts later (min damage and successful save on the 1st), and Erylium is dead.
I have never seen ANYONE quite as hated by the dice as Ze's player in that battle. It was like a train wreck, horrifying to behold, but you can't look away. Erylium has kind of set the bar really high in terms of "tough battles".
As was clarified already, you can only lower the CL on potions, wands, and scrolls. The DC was correct at 36. There was no screwing over the player mechanically, that was all legit.
There is no clear "right" person in this. Mechanically, everything that happened is perfectly fine. The player might be miffed at the lack of warning, but at the same time, he should have known what he was having the witch do was not possible.
Should the witch have known the crafting would fail? Maybe. Would they have told the PC? Maybe. Some of this comes down to the personality of the witch. If the witch is overconfident in her crafting abilities (perhaps the Wisdom was dumped to make an uber-crafter), maybe she thought "I'll be fine, worst case, it turns him blue". I think this is actually pretty logical, because if she had all of the spells available, the crafting would have been pretty simple for her. It wasn't the object she was crafting that caused her to fail, but the corners she cut trying to craft it. Heck, if she even had 1/3 of the spells needed, it would have been doable, so for an overconfident crafter, it may not be a stretch for her to think everything would be fine. Also, if the PC is a fearsome, evil pirate, maybe the witch was cowed and didn't want to be the one to tell the Dread Pirate Steve that something was beyond her abilities, for fear he would kill her.
But this is a kind of justification after the fact. If I was a player and you told me "Well, you intimidated her so she didn't dare tell you she was incapable", I would be kind of miffed. That's the type of characterization that should be proactive, and the cohort's cockiness/fear of my character should have come across during the crafting request.
On other hand, the cohort is a PC ability, and the cohort's crafting is a PC ability. I play by the rules of "if you don't know your own abilities, I will not help you", and this clearly falls under that category.
I am not sure why the player has such an issue with this, the idea of selling it as though it were not cursed means he can basically break even and only lose time. It also seems like a very piratey type of thing to do.
Haven't had a TPK yet, but have gotten really close.
Two leading causes of near TPKs:
I've generally found PC deaths happen because of bad luck, TPKs happen because of bad decisions. This is assuming, of course, the GM is not going out of their way to kill the party or tossing something that is clearly too difficult.
I do hope the GM then ruled the Runewell had fully discharged and gone out (after summoning another three or four sinspawn), seeing that it's blood that summons Sinspawn... ;)
That is indeed the case. I now get to decide how Erylium will react. Chasing down the remaining party would be most in character, but would definitely result in a TPK as well as completely negating the noble death. Likely she will instead flee to Thistletop or something.
Character Name: Sir Swa
The Gory Details:
Fighting a losing battle, as Erylium continued to summon monsters and toss her dagger, Swa dismounted, put Mia on his riding wolf, and commanded the wolf, Ze, and Audra to flee. Already low on HP, he then was Commanded by Erylium to approach her, thus walking into the runewell. However, he managed to survive the initial damage, and resist the rage effect. He did not survive much longer, as Erylium struck him and the gallant gnome bled to death in the runewell.
Ok, now I'm getting really self-conscious. Either no one else is running CoT/reporting deaths, my group is unusually inept, or I am unreasonably deadly.
Name: "Z" (has a longer, flowery name no even the player remembers)
The Gory Details:
"Z" has been reincarnated, much to the player's amusement, as a blue kobold. So he was eaten by a blue dragonoid monster because he was focused on mining, and has been reincarnated as a smaller blue dragonoid monster that is especially skilled at mining.
If you really want to keep some suspension, surely the bad guys would be interested in the ancient paladin treasure too. Have them show up a couple of times before, appearing just out of reach as the party completes the other trials. Give a sense that there is a race for the relic, that it is possible the bad guys will beat them to it, or that there will be a climactic battle with them after the trials are done.
Have the party finally run into them in the Mercy trial room. The bodies of several monsters lie at their feet, the original subjects that were supposed to be a test of mercy. Dramatic lines are said. The first blows are struck, only to find that there is an enchantment on the room, where lethal damage is shared between victim and attacker. Furthermore, as this damage was dealt in breaking Pelor's rule of Mercy, it can't be healed through his divine gifts. The Orb of Mercy lies beyond their enemy, and beyond the corpses of those he has slain. To get the orb, they must defeat their enemies without killing them.
After they pass the trial and show Mercy upon their hated enemies, you can reveal their enemies were illusions all along. Pelor cares about Mercy above all, so the trial of Mercy was the most intricately crafted trial of them all. What the party thought was a "race for the relic" culminating in a showdown in the trial of Mercy chamber was the trial of Mercy all along.
Mercy is tricky.
Since you mentioned it is a particular paladin attempting these trials, you could have the paladin to find themselves alone, and encountering various enemies (again, ideally long-time enemies, alive or deceased). Any damage inflicted on the "enemies" are inflicted on their allies as well (or each "enemy" is one of the paladin's allies under illusion/compulsion). So each failure to show mercy to his enemies will result in him directly injuring his friends. The paladin is unaware of this until after he has passed through the trial and finds the rest of the party in various stages of health based on his decisions.
This puts a lot of spotlight on the paladin, which may be a poor plan. You can somewhat mirror the effects by having the party encounter enemies that test the limits of mercy (e.g. a puppy-kicking anti-paladin that they have encountered before), and have any lethal damage dealt be suffered by the damage dealer as well. Thus the more merciful the party is to their hated foe, the better they will weather the trial.
My general complaint with haunts is that it is kind of jarring. It basically boils down to:
You have a situation that screams "cinematic storytelling", but it gets interrupted by having to stop and have people roll detection/initiative. And quite possibly, they won't even be able to use the results of those rolls.
In my RotRL campaign, I am planning to have the party pre-roll all the haunt detection and haunt initiative rolls at the beginning of the session so that it can be a smoother storytelling experience.
As for having the cleric be the only one able to do anything about haunts, I really like a mechanic that was used for a particular haunt in book 3 of Council of Thieves. Basically, there was a skull that was the focus of the haunt. By smashing it, you forced the haunt to use its initiative action to rebuild itself. Actually defeating it still required the use of positive energy, but it provided other PCs a way to directly affect the haunt.
It is working as intended.
I also think it is kind of wonky because basically the crafter is able to emulate spells that are unfamiliar with a flat DC. I find it weird that crafting something without using a level 1 spell that the crafter can cast increases the difficulty of crafting by the same amount as "faking" a 9th level spell that isn't on their spell list and that they may not have ever seen before. One of my house rules is that the DC for crafting without a spell scales with spell level and how unfamiliar the spell should be to the character (whether it is on the class spell list, divine vs. arcane), rather than just being a flat +5.
Out of the core, it will nerf a few classes by a bit.
- Summoning focused Wizards, Sorcerers, and Clerics are out
The big nerf in here is for druids as they lose their spontaneous casting ability outright. Hopefully, your GM will give them something to compensate for that.
I have to say that, while I wouldn't choose to restrict the game in such a way, I can understand why a GM might want to do so. There are benefits to simplifying the game and removing summons (for example, combat will move faster). There are definitely players in my group that I don't think could handle dealing with summoned creatures, as they have a difficult enough time managing their own character.
Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
Read the OP's most recent post. NPC is a fighter and has leveled up twice since the last fight, and spent his feats on being able to sunder based on his past inability to punch through a PC's armor. That's just realistic leveling of a recurring enemy NPC.
i wanted to address why I was going to write the letter. it was because my ninja doesnt know how paladins work but figures if this dude is going to be like him and kill like an assassin maybe he will be like him and write a letter. Thinking maybe that is what you are supposed to do? like trying to follow the rules when you dont know what they are.
Ah . . . that makes more sense then my original impression of "I disagree, and thus am going to write a sternly worded letter to your superiors because I know you should not be permitted to do such", which I had a hard time attributing to a chaotic character.
I think the interesting line to be wary of is what exactly it is that would vex you CN ninja. Was it the waste of life? Was it real hypocrisy? Was it perceived hypocrisy (you aren't acting anything like I think paladins should be)? What precisely about the event would have been the trigger(s) of your ninja's distaste. And make sure his reactions to the paladin are appropriate.
For example, if a trigger was the fact he killed helpless prisoners, but won't allow you to kill sleeping enemies, needle him with "What? You can kill helpless opponents with no problem, but when I do it it's "dishonorable"?" or "Would it be better if I chained them up for you first?" (heaping as much disdain as possible). Just being kind of evil all the time would be less poignant than focusing on countering him on a few specific things.
No worries about credit. As I said, you explained the details of the AP far better than I did, and in more depth. A wonderful thing about the forums, on occasion someone else manages to say what you are thinking far better than you. :)
... ton of Council of Thieves stuff that I alluded to but was unable to phrase nearly as well ...
Thank you for explaining the Council of Thieves paladin issues better than I did.
Also, reading through it, I realized a couple interesting things. First was that the Council of Thieves is a really good example of how paladins can have very differing codes. Why? Because there is Seelah, running around breaking the law for the greater good. One of the earliest enemies in the AP are the Hellknights, who are basically paladins that focus on Law vs. Chaos instead of Good vs. Evil. The thing is, it is perfectly reasonable for there to be a Paladin/Hellknight. Some of the Hellknight orders are more paladin-friendly than others, but there is no reason why the Order of the Rack Hellknights (who focus on limiting forbidden knowledge and are the ones present in CoT) could not have a paladin in their ranks. Thus you can end up with a situation of a lawful-oriented paladin hunting down a greater-good-oriented paladin.
The second thing I realized, is that that is pretty much what Marthkus is arguing in terms of a paladin following the law. His paladin is really more of a paladin that went into the Hellknight prestige class (at least in my opinion).
No, yeah. I'm pretty much done with the paladin bickering unless someone says something truly earth-shattering that I must respond to. Sorry about the thread-jack. Hopefully you were able to get some useful advice/alternate perspectives before it got horribly de-railed.
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Exactly! Thanks to a well selected Mercy at level three, a paladin can even recover from the disgusting taste of goblin baby with only a swift action! Paladins are clearly the class best suited to eating goblin babies.
Silly us, for expecting you to have actually read the part of the rulebook that you kept quoting to us as justification we were wrong.
So with the minor alteration of "government must be in complete anarchy, or instituted by something clearly and irredeemably evil like demon princes, devils, undead lichs", I am in line with how a paladin should be? Well damn . . . as Cheliax is ruled by humans my CoT paladin is probably still out of luck.
You realize that the point Petty Alchemist brought up was one that you were arguing against for roughly 2 pages? It is why Kobold Cleaver brought up the baby-eating town. It is why I referenced Cheliax and Council of Thieves.
I am now thoroughly convinced you are a troll. Quite an entertaining one, and one I would bait again. But I find it nearly impossible to believe that my ludicrous post was "getting closer".
So wait . . . if I am a paladin I may be required to eat goblin babies, but have it be breaking my code.
I need someone else who is appointed by a governing body to tell me it's ok for me to kill someone, unless they were conscious up to the last time I hit them. In no way, shape or form am I qualified to judge them, divine powers stemming from the forces of Good and Law notwithstanding. Even if I have an ability specifically built to be more just and fair than any other mortal person or governing body because I chose to specialize in making sure justice is carried out, I should not use that ability unless someone else gives me the ok first. In fact, having that ability makes my job more dangerous, because I might think it will actually protect me from making mistakes. Not only that, but I can't intentionally strike at a weak spot, as it is dishonorable to attack someone where they are weak.
If I don't want to overthrow the entire government of a nation, I am not allowed to quibble about any of their laws. It is all or nothing, either the government must go completely, or I must comply with every law they have. For me to want to overthrow the government of an entire nation, it must first be in complete anarchy. Even if it means I need to volunteer to get tortured to death by devils due to the laws. It is better that I submit to death by torture than break a law of a government that is in a state of less than complete anarchy.
Killing myself by repeatedly attempting to hug a ghoul is far preferable than killing it to make sure the farmers nearby that it has been attacking remain safe. The safety of innocents is far less important than my honor, and it would be very dishonorable to do anything but hug a bloodthirsty killing machine.
I am so confused right now. I thought I knew how to play a paladin. It seems I was very wrong.
Superman is the closest thing you can find to a non-paladin paladin. Although he will not lose all of his power if he should fall. Many DC hero's have codes that they follow that are beyond what LG requires. For example Batman does not kill. Could he kill and still be LG? In many cases yes, but then he wouldn't be the Batman that we know and love.
Superman breaks America's laws all the time. He runs around far faster than the speed limit, flies through the air with no regard for FAA regulations. Destroys property (often in fights) and does not reimburse the rightful owners. By your logic, Superman doesn't consider the American government to be a legitimate authority (obeying the law is all or nothing), and wants to overthrow the American government. That completely changes how I view Superman.
I don't think anyone ever claimed paladins can just ignore the law willy-nilly (aside from Ilja's initial hyperbole). We have re-iterated, ad nauseam, that paladins can ignore laws that are deemed unacceptable, and not stemming from legitimate authority. You have been countering our examples of fairly blatant illegitimate authority with, "Nope, they have to follow the law". You essentially said Paizo was wrong in Council of Thieves for allowing (nay, requiring) paladins to ignore the laws of Cheliax, by stating that the nation of Cheliax must have been in horrible anarchy for this to be acceptable (when nothing can be further from the truth).