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I am not far away (Covington), also in my 30s and have a little kid (6 year old boy). I have been out of playing for a while as the result of a move to the area and would be interested in getting back into it.
Shoot me a PM or respond and we can set up a meeting of some kind to get to know each other (assuming you are still looking).
Improved Scroll Casting was the entire reason I took this prestige class... I actually felt scroll blade and scroll shield were just silly, it just wasn't a flavor I found that interesting. On the one hand, it was completely worth it for that one ability. Improved Scroll Casting is that good.
On the other hand, I was more impressed with Scroll Blade and Scroll Shield than I thought I would be. So... even better.
Since I was playing the classic controller style wizard I had no interest in heading into melee. I primarily used defending with Scroll Blade. Combined with the AC from Scroll Shield,a regular casting of Mage Armor and a pretty high dex, I inadvertently had the highest AC in the group (it wasn't the highest of bars to reach, but still).
Anyway... did I mention how worth it Improved Scroll Casting is?
Apropos of nothing, but a wizard who gets scribe scroll feat can make scrolls for the same amount that he sells them for... so there is no reason to not have all non-liquid funds turned into scrolls. Once you have this ability as well you have access to a very effective array of spells at any time... far more spells than any other class.
I am interested in finding a group in the area.
I am fairly open to which game, but do have a fondness for Pathfinder and Call of Cthulhu.
If you are interested in my style of playing/running a game you can check out the podcast I co-hosted, the Gamers' Guide to Pathfinder at www.35privatesanctuary.com.
Sometimes it is just about adding something to your spell list. Once that is done then using the wand works just fine.
Animal and Terrain Domains wrote:
Other nature-themed classes with access to domains may select an animal or terrain domain in place of a regular domain.
The only trick is making sure that the GM is ok with you taking it in relation to whatever god you are worshipping. If it is a nature god of any sort you should be fine, but if it is a sun god, then the frog domain becomes odd. Should be just fine with Gozrah i would think.
Bearded Ben is correct. The tech level didn't bother me at all, it was indeed the inclusion of earth.
To answer your question, I ignore Numeria. It doesn't offend me and I am glad it is in the campaign setting because there are people who like it, but it isn't a flavor I particularly enjoy.
But honestly how much have you seen the presence of Numeria affect most games? There isn't robot shops in other parts of Golarion and a player has never asked me to let him make a gun slinger with a laser pistol. The vast majority of published material for the setting has a pretty standard fantasy feel to it (well, with mashed in horror or whatever).
The upcoming Numeria AP (Iron Gods?) is not something that offends my senses, but it isn't my cup of tea either. It's more along the lines of Shattered Star which was intentionally dungeon heavy and therefor not particularly to my tastes (pretty much everything else is to my taste... seems like I am getting out all the stuff I don't like rather than the majority of stuff that I do like).
Anyway, that is my personal preference. I think there is a fair number of gamers who would agree they don't want sci-fi in their Pathfinder. They aren't silly, they just have different preferences. If you do... more power to you. I am sure there are things that I enjoy in a game that you don't see worth the time of day... it's all good.
Tangent, you can't excuse yourself completely from allowing the discussion to become civilized and reasoned. For instance, I responded to one of your posts with, "gotchya." By which I meant, "Oh, okay. I see where you are coming from." but with out the verbal inflections that we use naturally in everyday conversation, that could have easily been taken as "I have you now!" which wasn't the intent at all.
But did you rise to the unintended bait? Nope.
That said, it was hard at points to not just throw up my hands in frustration that I felt I was being misunderstood and I am glad that people allowed me the chance to explain myself.
Sean, you seem to be running under the assumption that if there is combat, there is no roleplay.
Not at all. In fact I could envision a cool system of sword-play in the game that lets duelists throw witty ripostes back and forth and receive mechanical benefits for them during the fight and I would happily call it Role-playing. (Challenge to 3rd party publishers: create me such a system!)
Rather, the point I was trying to get across is that the PCs actions in the interchange have to have some impact on the campaign or the adventure or the encounter before I would consider it role-playing.
If the characters get more information if the treat someone one way than they do otherwise than I would consider it roleplaying. If the creature gives out the same information (as written, not GM fiat) regardless of the PCs actions and then a fight starts I would not call it role-playing. I then would label it exposition.
My example of mullifying a hungry opponent to stop the fight would just be one way that role-playing could influence the situation, but shouldn't be taken to mean that is the only way the Role-playing can influence a situation.
Again, I realize this is nit-picking over the definition of RP. But I don't think my definition is an unreasonable one... your mileage may vary.
“Brandon Hodge” wrote:
Sean, you are, of course, welcome to whatever opinion of Rasputin Must Die! you wish, and I'll leave it to others to defend whether or not my work is a "stain" on the game
I don't think YOUR work is a stain on the game, other than I think that you took up an assignment of a task that was, by it's nature, something I wish were not a part of the game.
For what it is worth, given the introduction you wrote in the forward and the adventure itself, I would be MORE likely to buy a product with your name on it than I was previously (though you do good stuff, so I would have been likely to anyway). I just don't like the subject that you worked on in this case. It was the assignment and you could have turned it down. You didn't and did the best you could with it (you, like a lot of others, probably were excited by the prospect... which is fine, just not how I feel).
However, that said, let's talk about the RP in this adventure.
First, my intention, and I admit that I did a poor job of conveying this on rereading my posts, was to say that there was not a significant amount of RP in this adventure that moves the story of the AP as whole forward. That should make it easier to replace in pretty much it's entirety if you choose to just grab a couple of points and fit them into another adventure (remember the point of the original post was to ask how to remove this adventure from the AP). If someone wanted to pick another pre-published adventure to use in it's place they would only need to include a few points to make it work just fine. Really I should have just said, 'the adventure is fairly self contained and only a few points would need to be ported into another adventure to fit the same slot.'
I would also like to point out that I think you did an EXTRAORDINARY job of taking what had to be lower level NPCs and making them very good adversaries to higher level characters. You also did a great job of identifying and bringing out those points of combat that would help highlight what modern (WWI at least) combat would be like in a Pathfinder context. The combats, especially as the PCs exit the hut, do a fantastic job of conveying flavor and that is a hard bar to reach.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
I'm afraid I can't let you get away with telling potential readers that my adventure contains no roleplaying encounters, or "no RP" or "precious little RP." Particularly when the adventure can't be completed without some serious roleplaying and investigation.
I will start by conceding that there is more RP in the adventure than I made it sound like above, again I was trying to get across that the RP in the adventure was not necessary for moving the plot of the AP as a whole on (and I did a bad job of getting that point across). I also accept that it is not fair of me (since I wasn't looking at it from your point of view) that I give the impression to potential readers or players of your adventure that there would be NO chance of RP. There *IS* absolutely RP potential in this adventure, if a reader gets nothing else out of my response, please walk away with that.
That said, I don't know that I am good with accepting all the examples you give below as RP examples. I think for the vast majority of groups many of these examples will simply not occur because they didn't take the exact right (and unknown) steps to make them happen, or will feel that they are really more of an exposition than RP since they can't really affect the outcome with how they RP.
Let me explain... (since you used spoilers I will do the same, though I would contend if a player who doesn't want spoilers is reading the sub-board dedicated to their adventure path that they aren't really being true to not wanting spoilers)
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
1. The Domovoi Gulag: the adventure's *very first encounter* involves a room of imprisoned domovoi who, when interacted with, provide clues to the PCs' whereabouts, answer questions, and give advance warnings to the hut's other inhabitants.
So two things here:First, I will admit that I kind of wrote this part (the hut encounters) off in my head when I was thinking about your adventure in the response. Not because it was bad (or good), but because I dislike that there is an included crazy dungeon at the beginning of each adventure. It means that the first part of any adventure is dungeon and there is that much less room for the adventure itself. Not fair, perhaps, but that was my prejudice. The result, for me, is that I don't really get the 'feel' of your adventure (or the others in the AP) until after the PCs exit the hut. It was something you had to include in order to keep consistency with the rest of the AP but it is not something I have enjoyed about the AP.
”Rasputin Must Die!” wrote:
they are completely uninterested in the PCs, failing to engage them in conversation no matter what the PCs may try to gain their attention.
To me that is exposition not role-playing. For me, the PCs must have a chance to both (a) interact with the encounter and (b) affect the outcome of that encounter with their role-playing in order for me to think of it as an RP encounter. This encounter didn't do either. It was a flavorful encounter and I had no problem with it, but I wouldn't consider it a RP opportunity... it was a flavor opportunity (and a creative one).
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
Had there been a way for the PCs to avoid the combat here through other actions I would agree with you. However, as written there is no other alternative in the encounter to combat. All it would have taken (yes, I know a GM could just make it happen in their game) would be for there to be options for how to avoid combat and therefor have different outcomes to the RP portion of the encounter and I would be on board. (i.e. put (4) sustaining spoons in the previous room to be found and if they are given to him they will keep him satisfied. Then there is a choice and the choice matters for the outcome... even better have a throw in line later with Baba Yaga with her reaction on if they let Little Otik live or not).
Again, I would call this an information dump or exposition rather than an RP encounter.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
3. The Crucified Doll: Vasilisa's doll, if rescued from her sad state, is a willing and able companion that is informative, "friendly, loyal, and helpful."
I will agree that this one is an RP encounter... although any group that misses a single perception check and fails to remove the trap will miss out on this encounter.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
This is definitely an RP encounter... and a good one.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
5. The Burning Corpses: Here, the PCs engage AT LENGTH with the primary antagonist of the adventure--Rasputin himself--in what is ONE of THREE roleplaying encounters they will have with the Mad Monk before the final encounter. How many other adventures allow this sort of escalating interplay and in-depth exchanges between PCs and the main villain?
This is one of the encounters that I was specifically thinking of when I said there wasn't much RP. There is nothing the PCs can do in this part of the encounter that will affect how the adventure plays out. I can't call it a monologue because they can actually talk back and get responses, but that's about it. The encounter is intentionally set up in such a way that the PCs can not yet interact with the villain but get a glimpse into who he is.
I do applaud you for the foreshadowing and allowing the players to get the opportunity to know (and hate) their opponent and the big bad of the adventure, your spot on that it is something that very few advenutures hit, but If the PCs can't change anything with how they interact with the story, it is still exposition.
Maybe if there was something they could say or do in these encounters that gave them bonuses or minuses in later interactions with someone the monastery or the final battle itself or something... but it reads as pretty non-interactive.
I guess I should caveat all my comments with the fact that I have not actually ran or played this adventure (though I don't think I gave the impression that I had), only read through it (though it seems not everyone believes that to be true since I came to different conclusions than them). I fully recognize and accept that it could play out very differently than I am picturing and give the appearance of interactivity, but as written there isn't really any affect the PCs can have.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
6. Interrogating Soldiers: Note that the individual statblock for soldiers was technically unnecessary with the inclusion of the troop statblock, but I *insisted* developers keep this in for when PCs have a chance to interact one-on-one with individual soldiers throughout the adventure. And though there will always be survivors and chances to interact with these men at the GM's discretion, I'm still only counting it as one encounter. Note page 28 has a quarter-page statblock detailing these ongoing roleplaying interactions and opportunities with soldiers.
If that was really the reason for leaving in the stat-block that took up ~33% of pg 19's text, it seems like some kind of abbreviated stat-block could have been used. But that isn't really important and is a small point.
I would agree that this counts as a role-playing encounter though. They can either get nothing or a very small bit of information about their opponent if they successfully interrogate one of the soldiers. Having a larger list of information they could obtain but only so much from each soldier interrogated would have made repeat encounters of this kind more valuable and interesting as well (and rewarded players for taking social skills like diplomacy and intimidate, or just reward them for role-playing out the encounter).
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
7. Monastic Cemetery: Not only is the tombstone fairy present as a source of information, a sideline ally, and intriguing roleplaying opportunity, but Polina is also *vitally important* to clues regarding Viktor, and without *roleplaying* with her, you can't complete the adventure. Your PCs can engage in "one big fight" after another until there's not a single soldier left, but without roleplaying, they'll *still lose*, since they can't even get to Rasputin without engaging in roleplayed encounters.
I am not sure I understand why they wouldn't be able to complete the adventure with out her. It's good that you put in an alternate way to raise Viktor from the dead because not all adventuring parties will have access to the spell, but many will (5th level spell in an 13th lvl adventure). It's also a great way to help parties that are stuck since it gives the GM a dispensary of needed info to the PCs.
She is a fine RP encounter, but seems an optional one at best. It wouldn't surprise me if plenty of parties wiped her out prior to even talking to her (yeah, not really conducive to RP if the PCs act that way, but she IS an evil creature and some people take exception to that in a world in which the very laws of nature show if someone is good or evil in response to spells... but I guess this is our world, right... so now it is shades of grey again? Oh nevermind... I shouldn't go there).
Finally, if an RP encounter HAS to end up one way for the adventure to move on, it wouldn't be a good encounter. I suppose it would be the equivelant of a social TPK? Sorry you made this one NPC mad at you so now the adventure is over, let's roll up new characters? (fortunately I don't see that as the case here).
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
8. Prison Barracks: The nosferatu-bled soldier Dmitri survives among the ruins to provide PCs with information and vital clues to the Brothers Three, Anastasia, Rasputin, Viktor, and that monastery the PCs can't get to unless they roleplay to figure out what's going on.
Assuming he isn't turned into a trench zombie first, yes it is a good RP encounter. I like it.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
9. Rusalka Spring: PCs encounter Rasputin's jilted and bloodthirsty lover who is more than willing to engage them in conversation, spill Rasputin's secrets if properly coerced, and provide information if it can gain her some revenge against Rasputin's new fling (see #16).
This is probably my favorite encounter in the entire adventure. It is dripping with flavor and would unimaginably fun to run. Definitely an RP encounter.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
10. Anastasia & Alexie: Among the ruins, PCs eventually find an amnesiac Anastasia, who may very well be the savior of Irrisen, and her overly-protective brother Alexie. You get a page and a half of detailed interactions regarding the two, their actions, the role she ultimately plays, and the mystery of exactly what's up with her little brother and the continuing part he plays in Rasputin's schemes.
This is one of those places where I found the inclusion of the real world grating. Putting that aside, if you are going to do a Rasputin adventure you are pretty much required to put Anastasia in it and so you did. It's a fine encounter. My prejudice makes it hard for me on this one though. Still... it's an RP encounter, it's in.
More points in your favor; you included how these two would affect other encounters in the adventure and their presence is brought up over and over in other encounters. The only downside is that there is no discussion of what happens if the PCs decide to NOT keep Anastasia with them.
If you are going with the Anastasia thing, I would have also included a way for her to end up with amnesia at the end of the adventure and roaming our real-world as one of the many Anastasia wanna-be's that came after the true events of Anastasia's life.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
11. Rasputin Again: Encounter TWO of THREE roleplaying encounters with the main protagonist, Rasputin, as he escalates his verbal war and taunts with the PCs and gives a dire warning about their meddling further in his affairs.
Again, I see this as exposition, and damn good exposition... far better than just boxed text. Seriously, I applaud you for coming up with creative ways to get the stories to the PCs. However, again the PCs can't actually influence the encounter (with out the GM changing things up).
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
12. Seance Chamber: The PCs can fight to free the ghost of the Tsarina, and the presence or absence of Anastasia and/or Alexie make this a rich and evocative roleplaying encounter with a variety of possible outcomes, including the PCs learning the true nature of Anastasia and the possibility that she may be Baba Yaga's heir, and the real identity of sneaky little Alexie.
Fair enough. This is a good and varied RP encounter that has a lot of interaction with other elements of the story and how the PCs interact with it changes what information they gain. Good one.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
13. Cellarium: Another possible trigger (along with the tsarina) for the culmination of Alexie's schemes and the ultimate unraveling of his infiltration into the party, when his personality overcomes his instructions and perpetuated ruse when PCs start plundering that which doesn't belong to them.
I think this is a great encounter, but I wouldn't say that a trigger for Alexie would count as another RP encounter. Seems like double dipping with #10 above.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
14. Rasputin yet AGAIN: The THIRD of THREE roleplaying encounters with Rasputin, where the Mad Monk verbally engages PCs, acts as a possible third trigger for Alexie's unraveling scheme, and a continuation of his mocking engagement that reveals subtle clues to the ultimate importance of Anastasia to the game afoot.
Yep... again, the same response. I *LOVE* that you found other ways to incorporate the big bad into the game and build the PCs reaction to him. But we differ on definition of RP in these cases.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
15. Viktor Miloslav: The PCs simply *cannot* complete the adventure without reaching Rasputin's extra-dimensional lair, and they can't do *that* without rescuing the corpse (and later soul) of Viktor Miloslav, resurrecting him (perhaps after convincing the tombstone fairy to help through more roleplaying), convincing him to share the secrets of the World Anchors, or extracting enough information from him to do it themselves before he commits suicide. The entire *crux* of the adventure hinges on this roleplaying encounter.
The chances of the PCs not being able to activate the World Anchors on their own is pretty high. It is indeed pretty close to the case that they can not complete this adventure with out his help. Setting aside the obvious prejudices I have displayed so far, I do think this is something of a weak point. It seems very easy for the adventure to get derailed with this encounter. Characters who think that their adamantine axe is the answer and go to town (yeah, the adventure addresses this, but sometimes PCs are not easily dissuaded or misinterpret ancient evil witches screaming as signs of success), or a clever wizard assume that because he has such darn high skill checks and INT bonus that he HAS to be able to get this darn thing to work. I personally think having multiple ways that success can be achieved enhances things. Otherwise it feels a little rail-roady in those parts.
All that aside... the encounter with Viktor Miloslave is an RP encounter.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
16. Serafina: Rasputin's new lover that has his rusalka girlfriend all in a tissy engages the PCs in a roleplaying capacity, appearing in disguise as Baba Yaga herself while attempting to trick them and lead the party from the monastery to thwart their plans and buy Rasputin more time to drain his mother's power. Given her magic and Bluff skills, PCs are going to have a hard time not being fooled by her ruse, and will have to react accordingly.
This is another one of the better RP encounters in the adventure. I like it and I can see groups falling for the ruse... well done.
”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
Of approximately 44 unique encounter areas in Rasputin Must Die, 16 have significant roleplaying elements. That's OVER A THIRD of the book's unique encounters, and while the chapter contains some deep tactical and obvious combat elements, to dismiss it as "one big fight" is just not factual.
I get 10 of 44, so a little over 1/5? A good portion of that difference is nit-picking on my part and a difference in what we would consider RP encounters. For me it has to include the ability both to interact and for those interactions to make a difference in the outcome of the adventure or encounter.
I also have to repeat my praise for coming up with other ways to do exposition and information dumps. It is impressive and I applaud you for it.
That said, in reviewing each of your examples I do see that my prejudices against the adventure probably set me in such a mood that each of the times I read it I came away with the feeling of one big fight and missed the nuances of some pretty good RP encounters. There is FAR more RP in this adventure than what I made it sound like in my post above and more than I gave it credit for or got the impression of in my read through. (Did I mention the inclusion of the real-world rubbed me the wrong way and made me not give a fair chance? Might have been subtle, but there it is).
I will repeat what I said above for anyone reading the thread but not this whole response. If you walk away with one thing from this post let it be that there is indeed RP in this adventure.
In fact I will go further and say if you like the flavor of the real-world in your game you are very likely to enjoy this adventure.
To make up for my misrepresenting your adventure I would even be willing to go give it a thorough and fair review (including my biases upfront but trying to separate them from the rest), if that would be helpful to you (and if it gets me "off the hook" for my earlier comments).
I still don't like the real-world being included in the game though... ;-)
Brandon Hodge wrote:
You have been nothing but a class act through out this entire discussion and you would be one of the people most justified at taking offense. I truly and deeply appreciate that.
I know I am on the hook for the RP comments and you deserve as in-depth a response as the well thought out and thorough accounting that you gave. I am prepared to give that to you and am a bit over half way on typing up my response.
Unfortunately my four year old has been having nothing of his Daddy spending his time writing on the computer instead of playing with him on his day off. I will try to get you that tonight.
Do note, that by stating "this module is a stain" you are also indirectly stating that anyone who enjoys this module is in fact defective in some way. And do note this definition of the word: a cause of reproach; stigma; blemish: a stain on one's reputation.
My feelings about the module and it's inclusion of real world earth no more reflect on you than the reverse is true. If I don't like it (however strongly) it does NOT infer there is something wrong with you. No more than you liking the module a lot infers there is something wrong with me.
A fan of something should not take others dislike of that thing personally. It just means someone else does not like it.
I can understand how it would be offensive to someone who worked on it, like Brandon, which is why I have tried to explain myself and offered my apologies if I hurt his feeling with my comments.
Let me first address the outrage over my use of the word 'stain' when describing my feelings about this adventure. (I will respond to Brandon's response about RP in a separate post)
A stain is a discoloration that can be clearly distinguished from the surface, material, or medium it is found upon. They are caused by the chemical or physical interaction of two dissimilar materials.
In my opinion (and I think even the supporters of this adventure agree), having an adventure that is set in the real world is a distinct departure from the norm of anything that has been presented in Pathfinder to date. That is what some of the people love about this! It is so different and revolutionary. It stands out... it's different. That, in and of itself, does not make it good or bad, but it does likely make it contentious.
The second part, describing as the interaction of two dissimilar materials is where my specific use of the word comes in and where my feeling of the inclusion of the real world into the game as a bad thing merit the use of the word. It's jarring to me to see the two superimposed, and if you are someone who doesn't like that particular flavor of peanut butter and chocolate being mixed (recognizing that others do indeed love it) then it something that is distasteful.
Finally stain implies that it is something that can not be removed (sure technically many stains can be removed, but I think using the word to refer to something like this implies that it can not). Once an adventure or book references the real world as something in it's cannon (yes, I know this was not the first time this happened in the Pathfinder universe) then anything I run in the universe that excludes this is a house rule. In some cases it is just basically ignoring it. In other cases it is not running it and having spent $120+ on the product (the entire AP).
It also immediately brings me back to the 'good ol' days' when people were attacking Dungeons & Dragons for it being satanic and having references to demons and devils in the real world. I had to listen to pastors at my parents church rail about my hobby. I was forbidden by my mother from playing it or hanging out with anyone who did. Examples of D&D and real world cross overs were used as ammunition in these battles. Saying, “I don't run with the real world in my game though, I house-ruled that out!” wasn't really a defense from people not using logic in the first place. Those examples became liabilities.
But things are different now, right? Well, in Lisa Stephens' story hour at PaizoCon she mentions in passing that D&D will never be carried in Walmart where as Pathfinder can. Any guesses as to why a publicly religious organization would make that decision?
This type of adventure adds, ever-so-slightly, to the chance of that happening to Pathfinder. I am not saying it is likely, but it is there and it can't be taken back later if the public opinion does turn against Pathfinder like it did D&D. So yeah... I do think the can't be removed part matters.
Which brings me to whether or not I should have used the term in the first place. While I am sorry if it hurt someones feelings that I feel that way about the inclusion of the real world in the game. It was not my intent to make people feel bad. This is particularly true for Brandon Hodge who I think did admirably with the task he was given (again, I will address the RP part later), but the task he was given was the thing I had a problem with in the first place. I do feel that my use of the word reflects my feelings though for all the above reasons. It is a strong word for strong feelings.
It has been pointed out that the best way to protest content that you don't like is to not buy it, but I have to take some exception to that. If I didn't buy it (and read it), would it really be valid that I didn't like it? Would anyone have accepted that?
Further, Paizo has repeatedly made it clear that they listen to their customers on the message boards. I like to think that they listened all the myriad of time when I liked what they came up with and I would like to think that they take the dislike into consideration now. At the same time I would expect that they would consider the adventure and the inclusion a success, not be no one disliked it but because more seemed to have liked it. That's not to say my opinion will matter more than anyone elses, nor should it, but to suggest that people who do not like something should not be able voice that just as strongly here to help shape the products they love is to take away an important sounding board for Paizo. They need to hear the good... and the bad. And they need to be able to place it is context.
What this tells me is the BEST way to be heard is to be a customer (no real reason to listen to the people not buying your stuff) and post what you like and don't like on the boards.
On the other hand, I kind of wish I hadn't used the word because the reaction to it seems to have derailed the thread, and required that I post a huge diatribe in the hopes that people will understand and accept that I have this point of view (not agree with it necessarily, but respect that I have it).
I am sorry if my calling it a stain on the game offended you. I have strong feelings about the inclusion of the real world in my D&D and this hits those. Strong statement to reflect the strong feelings.
Don't worry, I don't have delusions that my view is universally true for everyone... quite the opposite as I understand it. But as you point out, I can make the game the way I like it. The only real way I can vote is with my dollar and I decided to trust Paizo in this case to see what they could do... and I personally was disappointed. It was an insanely (perhaps unfairly) high bar for it to have been good for me, and this didn't hit it.
I would also point out that it has nothing to do with the technology aspects of the adventure. I am fine with that in the game. Could even be fun to use those and the troop rules in a future of Golarion romp at some point. My problem is with the inclusion of the magic of the rest of the game into earth. That is the part I find doesn't work for me.
And again... all those other examples (heck, throw in the D&D cartoon) are things I equally dislike for the same reason. Again... technology fine (if not my taste in the case of sword and laser, but that's a preference as opposed to a flat out can't stand it.).
Anyway... I digress...
Back to the original post. Flavoring it as gnomes or whatever probably does make it the easiest to just scrub the earth part and keep the rest. Reskin the tech if that isn't your thing.
In my opinion the fights in this adventure are great, but there is precious little RP and I was sorely wanting some at this point... but the whole reason it disappoints me it isn't there is because it is a lot of work to make up that much of the adventure itself, so recommending you do so as a substitute kind of defeats the purpose of buying the APs in the first place.
Because he signed up for a fantasy game and it went into a VERY loose historical fiction game.
The problem isn't technology in the game, the problem for me is adding magic and every other part of the game that requires a suspension of disbelief into earth.
But that may not be the case for the original poster. Regardless, his question was not "should I actually like this even though I don't?" It was, "I don't like this, how can I remove it since I like the rest of the AP?"
Telling him he should like it or that it was done in an old Dragon or Expedition to the Barrier Peaks doesn't really help him with that.
It is clear that Paizo feels he and I are in the minority and feel this was a well received adventure and that the demand is there for a Numeria campaign... and heck, they are probably right. But for me personally it isn't an area I am interested in.
So come on! Any ideas that do help him? I bet you can come up with some good ones.
What do you see as the important things that would need to be in place for a replacement adventure. What is important in both fulfilling what came earlier in the campaign (and what needs to get changed earlier) and what needs to be in place to lead into the next adventure?
I feel the same way about the adventure itself. The addition of real world earth is a stain on the game. It would take an AMAZING adventure to have sold me otherwise... and this was not it.
Don't get me wrong, the designer had a huge uphill battle to try and make this work and on some fronts he definitely made it. The adventure would be an interesting tactical simulation, he did great with troops for example. That said, the adventure itself is basically one big fight. There is little to no RP that is needed... in my mind that is a the easiest way for an adventure to be marked as not good in my book. No RP AND in the real world... yeah, not much chance this will ever see the light in a game I am in.
The good news is that this adventure has almost no RP (I know, I just said that was bad). The reason this is good is because it means it should be super easy to replace.
Here is a list of pretty much everything salient to the plot of the AP in the adventure.
- Baba Yaga's long lost son help the current queen capture her and is taking over one of her other lands
that's really about it. Hit all those points in a replacement and all you lost was some horrible flavor on top of some pretty cool combats.
Really you could even scrap the above, come up with a new way that Baba Yaga was captured by the current queen and you would be good. This adventure just needs to save Baba Yaga and set up the revenge.
Okay... so if the Witch Hunter archetype isn't really a draw, what it is about the Inquisitor you are being drawn to for this character idea. Any class can wear the large brimmed hat and have a bad attitude, so your good no matter what there.
What I would really suggest you do is decide if you are more attracted to the gun / sniper aspect of things or if you like the judgements and buffing spells you are getting from the inquisitor.
There isn't a wrong or right answer, but remember that the Inquisitor doesn't multiclass real well. Levels in inquisitor matter a LOT as it determines how effective just about everything they do is.
Gunslinger, as mentioned above, is pretty much the only way to get that full attack with the two-handed firearm though.
Would an Inquisitor with the black powder Inquisition you uses a crazy looking hand cannon fit your ideal? It's an option. But if you are just sold on that rifle, I would probably steer you toward just going Gunslinger.
If you are thinking about using a two-handed firearm it is really hard to make any choice other than 3 levels in Gunslinger (Musket Master). It is really the only viable way you are going to get to be able to make full attacks with a two-handed fire arm.
I would also caution you about mixing up the idea of a witch hunter profession in gameplay and a class or archetype that says witch hunter.
Let's take a look at the Witch Hunter archetype and see if it really helps you hunt you some witches.
Spell Sage: You lose Monster Lore and can identify spells being cast better. Here's the thing though, you don't care what the spell is. You just care that they are casting. Ready an action against the suspected witch spellcasting and drop a huge hit on them and they will have a tough time getting that spell off (and you did a bunch of damage). This is generally a bad trade for you.
Knowledgeable Defense: Here is the payoff for the extra ability to identify spells... sometime you get a small bonus to resist that spell. As above, if you disrupt the spell with a crap ton of damage, I guarantee you will make a save against it (as they weren't able to cast it). Very small benefit and you lose some of the abilities I would think would make you most iconic as a witch hunting inquisitor... Discern Lies for example... I can see you using that in a village to help ferret out witches.
Spell Scent: This is pretty thematic, I actually like it. But I can't think of too many times it will make a big difference in the game. Typically you are going to find the witches you are facing. At least in the Reign of Winter.
Witch's Bane Judgement: This seems really thematic until you start looking at how it actually plays out. You can use it to make arcane casters within 30 feet (remember wanting to use the long range weapon?) get a -2 AC and -2 on saves vs you. But you probably aren't casting spells on them, so the saves don't help. And if you just use the +3 to hit you get to ALL creatures from the Justice Judgement (+4 at the next level). So it doesn't really make you any better at hunting witches than you were with out it.
On balance, I would stear clear of the Witch Hunter archetype if you want to be a Witch Hunter in gameplay. It won't make you any better at your job of hunting witches... it is pretty much just a name tag.
It depends what you are looking for here. i.e. In game vs out of game peg taking down-ness.
In game, I would let there be a situation in a small area which it is tough to bring the bow to bear, or just have an enemy run around the others to grapple or even sunder his bow. This lets him know he needs other doing their role in order to be great at his.
If you are looking to make the player understand that he is not all powerful, I would re-read the full section on cover and concealment and make sure you are using those. Precise shot only negates the penalty for shooting into melee combat, these other two are still in effect. this will change his hit chance a lot (at low levels... if he planned well he can be getting improved precise shot at 6th and this will be less of an issue).
He's wrong, you are right... but it isn't worth pushing.
Let him know that you followed the rules, but if it is keeping him from having fun, you will revoke the action and let him go back and do something else.
Not a huge deal.
Then ask him if he is okay with the rules as written moving forward or if they will prevent him from having fun in the game.
Make sure you guys come to an agreement and then let it go. In the long term it is a really minor concern for the campaign.
I have no basis for this, but I would rule that urine could be purified into water (since water is there and you are seperating things out). On the other hand solid waste is missing nutrients it needs so I wouldn't allow it.
On the other hand, maybe it would be just killing off bad bacteria so there isn't a chance of getting disease from it but it would still provide some meager nutritional value... not fun, but maybe it would work.
Witch would be a pretty good choice in this situation. She would cover much of the missing arcane ability as well as supplement the non-healing aspects of divine casting that are missing.
Cleric would be great as well. You don't need to focus on healing at all and instead use your spells and abilities for buffing and what not.
Wizard is a solid choice.
Oracle and Sorcerer would both be fine.
I really think you will miss having a heavy spellcaster once you are onto the third adventure or so.
What you have done is a good first step in pricing an item, but can't be the last. As I am sure you noticed, this comes out WAY cheaper than any AC boosting item in the book. Which is exactly where the next step needs to take you.
You need to look for existing items or formulas that already exist and compare them to the effect you are trying to create. In this case, there is one:
According to the table for this type of thing there are a few formulas that would be applicable
Effect: Armor bonus (enhancement)
Effect: AC bonus (deflection)
Effect: AC bonus (other)
Based on those numbers, then you would get 16,000gp for a +4 armor bonus to AC (the equivalent of a continuous effect Mage Armor spell), which is spot on with the costs of Bracers of Armor +4.
If there is an existing method/formula already in place for the effect that you are trying to create then that is the formula that should be followed.
Next step (if necessary, in this case probably not because it is already spelled out) would be to go look at existing items and see if any are replicating what you want to do.
I would actually advise skinning... but you seem deadset against it.
If you have a race that is very different from humans thematically, but has the same (very generic) mechanics, then you should be good? Right? Your complaint is that the core races are boring, not that you want more power mechanically than the other players get?
But instead you argue that it is just calling something by another name. The roleplaying aspects of a character and the mechanics may inform each other but they do not mirror one another. I would reconsider your GMs offer to skin just about anything you want.
For example: You decide that playing a serpentfolk sorcerer sounds thematic and fits in with the campaign but the GM won't allow the race and does allow skinning. Does it really throw off your character idea that you get to put +2 in any stat, get a free feat, and an extra skill point per level? Not really...
It seems to me he offered you a pretty big concession and is concerned about the power level your present.
He is right that the race builder in the ARG is not balanced for people who are making a character. It wasn't designed to be. It is for making races not tailoring a race to work with a character concept... that allows it to become broken.
I can't speak about how he handled it in the moment but offering the solution to allow you to skin while retaining balance mechanically was a good one on his part.
My first thought is to always determine if there is actually a problem.
How does the player of the cavalier feel about the situation? Is he taking it in stride or is he pissed there was one encounter of the night that he didn't get to participate in?
If he is fine with it and understands that he got some bad rolls against a save or suck spell, and that can happen, then I wouldn't worry too much. If he is taking it poorly I would continue looking.
Next up, I would ask how this is different than someone who gets one-shotted by a critical hit or dies to a save-or-die spell. They are even more out of the game, but most groups accept this as part of the game.
If those are not good enough, and they may not be for your group, then I would consider taking a page from 4th edition and get rid of durations in exchange for continuing to save each round.
Before I pop into my criticisms, I want to point out that the reason I am posting this at all is because this a good Player's Guide... I just want to give some feed back. I also want to take a moment to honestly thank you guys for putting out a free product to support the games I run. It really helps.
My first comment would be that I really miss having the ability to buy a five pack of printed copies of these suckers. It was REALLY nice to be able to hand them out to players. Perhaps just not enough people bought them?
Next. There seems to be an awful lot of time spent on describing why there needs to be spoilers in this type of product and why you as a GM should deal with it or edit your own dang Player's Guide! Interestingly the majority of spoilers in the product are held in this section warning about why this product exists and why there needs to be spoilers. WAY too much time on this. Next time try to edit yourself down to one paragraph on the need and one paragraph of the actual spoilers (if they are actually needed).
Which brings up what spoilers are actually needed. Now, I have to preface this with the fact that I have not read the adventures so I can't know as well as the Paizo folks what is actually needed. However, my guess is that the two points needed are 1) this adventure will not stick around in the town it begins in. You will travel a lot and when you do... 2) It is going to get cold. I am not sure there is a need to tell us of Baba Yaga's involvement or that there is planar travel or even that this takes place in Irresen rather than a vague point in the North.
Next up is character advice. This changed from a list of each class and how they can fit in (Fighters can be found anywhere, etc. etc.) to more generalized but relevant information. I applaud this change. I did see a complaint up thread about the lack of info on what favored enemies should be taken, but it was there... maybe call it out a little more next time? (low: animals, fey & humans; Mid: giants & magical beasts; high: outsiders, undead and a few dragons).
Traits - I really like the ones you have, but they seem a little sparse. I would have liked to see more. They did inspire me though. For example, Players are notoriously contrary and if you tell them this is going to be taking place in the north and make a character that fits there you are likely to have at least one in a group who is fixated on the Qadiran fire mage and doesn't care how they are living in a Taldan town or that it will be in the North. I think that is an opportunity. Another would be for people playing odd races. Perhaps a few for native Taldans who are going for love of country? Anyway... I think there is a lot that can be cut (1 page of warning of spoilers & reprint of material from other sources).
Heldren - This is the other area I felt was pretty sparse. I would have liked to see a little more on the town and it's inhabitants... things that the people who live there would know. I get that you are not trying to get people attached to the location though.
Cold Weather Primer - Perfect. Short and to the point but also hammers home the fact that this is moving north into the cold.
Additional Class Options - This is exactly the type of thing I like to see in a players guide. Until I see how much is just reprints. Point to locations of good choices like the winter witch but unless your goal was to say there needs to be at least one winter witch per party (and I missed that?) then this seemed excessive. Now, if it had been a whole new Prestige Class and/or archetype that would have been exciting. My suggestion in the future would be several new archetypes. Would be fun... but a lot more work, so maybe not the best choice for a free product.
Anyway... overall a good product. Just keep warning down to small snippets, make a short list to yourself of what needs to be conveyed and keep spoilers only to that. Keep down the repeat material from elsewhere (but lists of locations for good stuff would be fine and significantly shorter).
When putting ranks in the perform skill, you do indeed need to note which type of perform (from the 9) that you are choosing.
Interestingly, you do not need any ranks in Perform to use the Bardic Perform ability. That said, it is a good idea to be taking ranks in perform (see the Versatile Performance ability).
Which performance you choose to do will dictate how you can fight. If you are wanting to fight with a rapier, you had probably choose a performance that leaves at least one hand free (act, dance, comedy, oratory and sing are all good choice and you might be able to make a case you can do some of the others one handed).
Regardless of which Perform you go with, you will not be able to fight the first round that you start the performance (since it uses a standard action), but can while maintaining it (since those take free actions).
Choosing a Perform that doesn't take an instrument is a great choice for the Bardic Performance ability. At some point you want the others (again, see Versatile Performance and there are some masterwork and magic items that you could only use with the right performance skill).
Personally I would go with something like the Dervish Dance bard and fore-go the prestige class all together.
Aldori Swordlord has a couple of meanings.
There is the fighter archetype and the prestige class... they are game abstracts and would have no meaning in the actual game.
Then there are those people from Brevoy who study under the masters with a style that allows them to create a flurry of steel around themselves and fight with the distinctive aldori dueling sword.
If your goal is the second, then don't worry specifically about the archetype or prestige class if you are wanting a high charisma type person. Just make sure that you are meeting the description of the second.
By RAW it can learn any spell. Only arcane spells not on the casters spell list are treated as one level higher. Diving spells would remain the same level.
It would not, by RAW, allow a summoner to teach it a paladin spell. You would need to find a paladin for that (or item like a wand or scroll).
The intent though seems to be that it would be restricted to arcane spells with any not on the casters spell list as counting as one level higher (might still be worth it with some early access, additionally there are spells on various arcane lists, like the bard, that are traditionally divine).
My experience has been that the individual variations of taste of each individual trumps any other trait (like sex).
My advice then would be the same regardless of gender. You have new players and you need to figure out what they like. Try to plan a short adventure (one shot would be ideal, but it may not be possible) and try to play up anything that you think they might like.
Make sure there is plenty of RP, make sure there is a dungeon crawl and combat, etc. etc.
The biggest part then would be to make sure you take some time after the first game to ask them each what they liked and what they didn't like.
Then go from there.
Pretty much anything could fit well enough and/or built well and there is really nothing to go on in your post... so I am not sure how best to answer.
I would probably look at things from the area and see what sparks your interest.
Aldori Swordlord - Thematically fits very well as the campaign kicks off in the city these folks are from. Can be a VERY effective build (I would suggest fighter w/ the archetype and 2 lvls of master of many forms).
Razmiran Priest - Actually a sorcerer, but I would play it up as the primary healer in the group. Take Infernal Healing, the higher level version, and extend metamagic and you are healing just fine, especially once you throw in UMD... which you will excel at. Thematically the nation of Razmiran is not far off from where this takes place. Would be fun to be the primary healer of the group as an arcane caster.
Mounted Charger - Any of various builds will work fine here. Unlike many campaigns there is a LOT of encounters in which this will work just fine. If there is a perfect campaign to be a mounted character this is it.
Bard - Frankly a high cha face man can do very well in this campaign.
Anyway... just about anything will work. Any preferences? What are other people doing?
Advanced firearms change the world... you state that you know that, but don't really seem happy with the implications. My advice? Embrace the change in that area.
Anyone who could afford an advanced firearm would be using them. This would even be regardless of proficiency (as you have seen looking at the numbers, the -4 to hit would not be terribly significant).
If they are not readily available to everyone what is the implications of that difference between the haves and have nots? Make sure you play that out in your game.
Tactics would need to change. Yes, people use cover occasionally in Pathfinder now, but in an area dominated by advanced firearms cover would become the focus of early combat.
In fact, looking at all the types of bonuses that would help against firearms and using those tactics would be a high priority.
Play up that the world is changing. Let the PCs see a group of fairly low level gunmen ganging up and taking down a large, low touch ac creature that would have crushed a typical town guard earlier. Then have a later encounter that shows just how successful a quickling or similar high dex, high touch ac opponent is against a similar group.
Basically you should think through the implications of the change and make sure that you bring them into the game.
I might even suggest recording it and sending them the file to listen to prior to the first session. Describe it to each of them as one of the many history lessons that the professor used to spontaneously burst into. That way they are integrating it into their backgrounds rather than using up game time.
2. He's an elf and therefore already has proficiency.
Racial Weapon Familiarity works a little different in Pathfinder. Instead of being proficient with any weapon with your race in the title, it is treated as a martial weapon. Great for classes like Fighter which get all martial weapons, but not as good for a bard, who does not gain the proficiency.
Weapon Familiarity: Elves are proficient with longbows (including composite longbows), longswords, rapiers, and shortbows (including composite shortbows), and treat any weapon with the word “elven” in its name as a martial weapon.
Dip two levels of Master of Many Styles to go into Crane Style, keep the free hand doing double duty reloading and negating attacks.
Then pretty much straight single pistol pistolero.
I am picturing a lightly armored cowboy type in a poncho and wide brimmed hat that is as much of a Raiden look as a cowboy.
The best defense in Pathfinder is a good offense. Rocket Tag if you will... kill them fast before they kill you fast. PCs also have an advantage in that there tend to be more of them (more actions) than the bad guy gets.
Shut the bad guy down with a single Save or Die spell to their bad save
Dish out a ton of damage fast
A fireball that does 5d6 is not that impressive when most people can cast it. But at second level when you cast from a scroll? It can pretty much end an encounter. I think this is a fantastic plan. Especially when you factor in that you will be able to pretty much count the number of encounters you are likely to happen upon.
I think people really under estimate the power of using scrolls of spell levels higher than they can cast themselves... good on you for looking at the option.
It's not actually horrible. One of the ways to get the most out of smite is to hit more often (yeah, depending on the situation the first hit does more damage, but you are still getting bonuses to all)... To that end a two-weapon fighter is a fine way to go, and you already are one.
My bigger concern would be looking forward to what feats you are wanting as a two-weapon fighter and determining if you can get them as a Paladin in a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, play him as a holy warrior, devout in his faith who doesn't happen to have smite evil and lay on hands.
Just read through this section last night. The door to the right of the entrance area that is covered with pictures of Sorshen trapping demons into statues and such can most definitely be used as foreshadowing (it even discusses that use with the statue on the island).
My personal opinion is that any sorcerer who is only using spells that provide SR saves has already long gimped themselves.
Buffs, walls, pits, summons... pretty much anything that doesn't do direct damage or harmful effect. This type of thing should encourage him to at least look into broadening his woefully narrow spell list.
I love me some adventure paths, but the sad truth is that I will never have the time to run them all (Shackled City, Rise of the Runelords, and played through part of Kingmaker and Skull & Shackles). This means that the majority of content that I am paying for is for the sole purpose of my reading enjoyment.
Don't get me wrong, that is not a bad thing. I LOVED reading Dungeon Magazine and it was reading it that kept me into gaming through a dry spell of opportunities to play. Similarly I love reading through adventures.
Bringing this back to Shattered Star though, it has helped illustrate to me just how comparatively boring it is to read through a heavy dungeon adventure to one that is chocked full of political intrigue and interesting encounters.
It very well could be that this AP plays beautifully, but it isn't much of a read. For the first time, all the episodes of an AP are really good at putting me to sleep at night. I just opened the fourth installment I got in the mail today and realized I hadn't finished the second.
So far... it just hasn't been much fun to read.