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When I'm playing, I find that rolling up characters inspires me toward more interesting characters. I still remember some of the odd characters the dice handed me: The 18 Int genius paladin, the wizard whose stats all sucked, the high-charisma con man rogue...
I agree that it is certainly possible to create an original character with point-buy systems. Unfortunately, we've all met guys who just... don't. They min-max like crazy, then try to ignore their substandard stats. Those characters need to be periodically reminded that dump stats come at a cost.
On one hand, your interpretation is based in the rules: Diplomacy does specify that failure by 5 or more can increase the subject's hostility. Aid Another in that context is a type of Diplomacy skill check.
On the other hand, I think that your interpretation may be counterproductive toward the behavior we want to see from the players. We want players involved and engaged, not tuning out while the "diplomancer" does his thing. As such, I recommend that players be required to specify how they are attempting to aid, but not be penalized for failure. That maximizes their involvement while clarifying their activity in the game world.
Rysky, it wouldn't absolutely prevent them: It just makes them awkward...
Sketchy Innkeeper: "Sir Knight, why are you standing that way and looking around all the time? It looks like you expect someone to attack you at any moment. I run a nice place: My girls wouldn't do something like that!"
Sir Paranoia: "I'm not here for your girls! I just needed shelter. Besides, I ALWAYS suspect an ambush: That's why I'm still alive!"
Sketchy Innkeeper: "Surely your Worship must need rest and a warm bath to soothe you after the travails and filth of the road."
Sir Paranoia: "Bathing! I would never be so vulnerable! I shall remain ever-vigilant, seeking only the aid of my loyal allies, whose magic can remove the road's soil!"
Sketchy Innkeeper: "Then all I can offer is.... NINJA ATTACK! KIYYYAAAAA!"
Tim Stapleton wrote:
If the creatures had hovered over them, clawing from out of reach as they did when my team played it, I don't see how they could have survived. Our party rolled badly on skill rolls, but what made the battle impossible was the way the creatures hovered over us after they hammered us with their breath weapons, floating just out of reach. Target them with arrows? Eat multiple AoOs. Move to reach a badly wounded ally? Eat multiple AoOs. Try to go invisible? They see invisible, so eat multiple AoOs.
"Lorila Sorita wrote:
I'm going to side with your GM on this one. "Back in the day" we had plenty of encounters that were meant to be outthought, not outfought. Survival required a certain paranoid mindset. A pit full of bones? Those skeletons came from somewhere, or signified some sort of hazard: It was time to carefully figure out their significance. The "look dead" trap item seems like a similar challenge, one a more harmonious party could have easily overcome.
I've had some friends who were fun to be around, but made me want to throttle them when we gamed. There are several possible solutions that have worked in those situations:
1.) Board Game Night - Get these guys to play board games or other non-cooperative games instead of RPGs. Then their utter failure to work together can be channeled into healthy competition.
2.) Paranoia - The Paranoia RPG is perfect for the play style these guys seem to prefer. You can then enjoy plotting against and betraying them, as it is an expected part of the game.
3.) Split the party - Recruit a few competent players and find a way to split the group into two separate groups, each with some decent players to temper the bozos' excesses.
It sounds like you played that one just right. Not every party is going to agree about the best solution for justly dealing with captured foes. A cleric of Sarenrae will certainly try to convince captured enemies to repent and will always encourage her party to choose mercy over vengeance. Sometimes this won't seem very profitable: There will always be some who cling to their evil ways.
The Dawnflower brings her gifts to the Just and the Unjust alike, giving all the chance to see their errors and repent of their sins. Who are we to think ourselves greater than her?"
The daemons did open the combat with slow and hold. We all saved. None of us knew what they were or what they did (and we boofed our knowledge checks), so all we got was their DR. Since we didn't expect a breath weapon and scattering would leave us vulnerable to demons ganging up on us individually, we remained bunched up. The second round, the three demons descended to blast us.
In some ways, the scenario sets up the PCs to fail in that fight.
The villagers provide little or no useful information about the daemons attacking them. Without information about the foes they face, a party hoping to stop foes on the dam may find itself grouped up in a formation well suited for the daemons to blast them. 18 dice of breath weapon is difficult for 6th and 7th level characters to shrug off. (The average breath weapon damage to a character with a +5 Reflex save = 52 points. The average hit points of a 7th level cleric with 12 Con = 52 hp. See the problem?)
When I played, our party suffered four fatalities. The remaining two characters were barely able to flee.
Given your family's preferences, Pathfinder may not be the ideal system for your planned game. I recall a discussion among Christian gamers, who felt that more realistic, down-to-earth rules allowed games to more closely reflect Christian ethics. Pathfinder descends from D&D, a game originally about killing things and taking their stuff. Realistic rules make combat perilous, encouraging less-violent solutions.
If you do want to stay with Pathfinder, you might want to consider Green Ronin's Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era. Written for 3E D&D, it provides rules for setting a game in several Biblical periods. It could easily be adapted to Pathfinder.
Sometimes it's better to anticipate such conflicts and pull out a different character, even if you then play a pregen.
The Inquisitor's player was clear that he wouldn't tolerate the creation of undead, but the Necromancer then "went there". His refusal to subsequently heal the Necromancer was fair. He is no more forced to support the behavior he detests than a paladin of Abadar would be forced to heal up a rogue who had just caused a fight by ripping off items from a bank vault.
My opinions are colored by previous encounters with folks whose behavior was borderline, but who then expected the party to support their thoughtless choices. One example from a game that went horribly awry: A brand new player's rogue impatiently attacked the town watch while the rest of the party was talking with their leader. The party's displeased paladin refused to participate in the ensuing bloodbath. The rogue then ran and hid, leaving the remaining party members in a needless, brutal fight with the watch. The other players were quite angry that the rogue had pulled such a stunt and let him know that he had better not start needless trouble again. The rogue then bailed out of a later fight to "punish" the party for ordering him around.
When that happened, I pulled the player aside and advised him that he was expected to cooperate with the rest of the party. He then quit, claiming that we were "just hack and slash" and wouldn't let him "roleplay". We later concluded that the player had decided to play chaotic evil while claiming chaotic neutral.
I'm sorry that I overlooked your message, Quentin. The Alabaster Urn is an evil, self-aware artifact that imprisons a number of powerful monsters. When held, it can disgorge its imprisoned victims. (The hags are the only creatures released during the scenario.) The Urn's special purpose is the destruction of human civilization: It is reserving its most potent monsters until it finds itself in the hands of a weak-willed owner in the capital of a powerful empire.
I think that I'll enter this fray on every side...
1.) An interesting essay on characters' power level compared to "real life": Calibrating Your Expectations
2.) I once ran a Norse-themed one-shot game. One player wanted to run a "Native American warrior named Richard Nixon". Sometimes arbitrary restrictions about characters are needed to keep the game from devolving into chaos.
3.) Many of the "that's not period arguments I've seen are not based on facts, but on the GM's or players' opinions.
People need to keep and open mind and seek consensus when such disagreements arise.
My players quickly guessed what the toy was for, so I had it make squeaking noises when squeezed. Some of the players decided to kill the basilisk anyway.
When I ran the finale, the party made their stand in the same chamber as the Golden Guardian. I added three Aspis minions to each of the invading parties: These became the Guardian's opponents. Their attacks targeted the guardian and he generally tore one of them apart each round. When PCs attacked one of these "supernumeraries", a different villian took his place as the Guardian's dance partner.
This allowed the party to see the Guardian in action as an ally without meaningfully altering the difficulty of the fight. I also had the big bad throw one spear shot at the guardian and "crit" for a crapton of damage: This emphasized his badassitude and worried the party that he was going to take their ally out.
Situations like the "Readied Archer" need to be handled conservatively, lest they provide an overwhelming advantage to the group allowed to ready actions. Most such situations are better handled as a surprise round.
Players sometimes envision situations where their "readied" actions would annihilate unsuspecting foes, but then resent the converse situation, where opponents drop half the party with their own readied actions.
In addition to potential balance/rule issues, such situations don't pass "real world" muster as well as some people think. In the real world, suspects have managed to charge and grapple police officers covering them with drawn weapons (A "readied action" if anything was). Soldiers have caught (and thrown back) hand grenades. These situations are hardly the certain deal that a readied action creates.
That reminds me of the time I enticed Ken St. Andre (the author of the Tunnels and Trolls RPG) to join a table at RinCon. He wanted to veer 'out of the box', but some of the players at the table dug in their heels to keep everything 'on the rails'. I was very disappointed, as I had hoped to see some creative madness.
Gamemasters have the responsibility to work with their players' creativity while ensuring they don't do violence to the scenario's basic structure. This may require that they occasionally include such items as 'unscripted windows'.
Ability damage normally heals one point per day.
There isn't anything in that scenario that precludes returning to town to rest or resupply. I would encourage them to return promptly, perhaps suggesting that another group may plunder the place in their absence.
You could describe one of the goblin bands they already didn't kill off as a "goblin adventuring party" out to loot the place...
They can pay for healing/restoration, but should decide how the expense will be covered beforehand. Those costs can come out of "party treasure", or some of the PCs can assume the expense.
This guy has two issues, as noted above: (a) Some unwarranted advantages, and (b) he's an attention hog.
Ways to deal with the undue advantages are described above. Ideas like his trained squirrels are hardly game-breaking and can be allowed (while enforcing enough restrictions to keep them in check). There are reasons that such tactics aren't commonplace.
"Prima Donna" players are also fairly commonplace. He sounds very outgoing and enthusiastic. When you discuss your concerns with him, suggest that he encourage the less flamboyant players to participate.
The impression I picked up from the original post was that his constant zaniness was making your brain hurt. Try to resist your negative reaction: This guy's creativity is a GOOD thing, once he tones it down a bit.
You should also shanghai him to GM. That way he gets to be the center of attention and everyone can benefit from his creativity.
As a GM, I'm willing to consider a character's past experience when considering what items or knowledge he may possess in addition to items specifically purchased. As an example, a character who just faced down a nest of ghouls should have a significant advantage when attempting to check whether the undead he faces are more ghouls. One of my players had his character commission a copy of an Aspis Consortium badge he had "found", noting it on his chronicle sheet: This masterwork Bluff tool (along with his maxed-out Bluff skill and darned mask of stony visage) recently made a scenario that featured the Aspis go hilariously off track...
Despite this, GMs have to keep such advantages "in check". Something that gives a modest circumstance bonus is reasonable: Something that allows a game-breaking undead into play is not. Although the player's argument for his character's advantage is reasonable, it must be disallowed from a game balance perspective.
Mark Hoover wrote:
You're interpreting prestidigitation too strictly. It can't reproduce what other spells do, but that doesn't mean it can't reproduce aspects of their function or mimic their effects in a limited way. Obstructing someone's vision isn't blindness.
Be warned: The rules suggest that most masterwork items will only provide their +2 bonus under limited circumstances. Most items should not be useful for every possible use of a skill.
As an example, my barbarian's masterwork intimidation tool (a necklace of expertly preserved thumbs, harvested from unfortunate souls who got on his nerves) will only help him intimidate those already uneasy about the possibility of barbaric violence. It might just make a troll feel snackish or a Shoanti tribesman pull out his own unsavory relics.
You're talking about a character whose gear is likely to throw him into the heavy encumbrance category. When I see a cleric with Strength 7, I must admit that I'm more inclined to enforce encumbrance rules than I might be with characters of Strength 12-14. You're taking a disadvantage to gain an advantage, so I expect you to endure that disadvantage's full significance.
I'd recommend a build more like:
It's important to note that terrain features can be particularly important, especially where charging is involved. This can change the encounter significantly if care isn't taken, including PC deaths that otherwise might not have happened.
It is possible that substitution of a map may affect the encounter. GMs do need to be sensitive to the ramifications of any changes they make. Despite this, it isn't reasonable to insist that none of the changes impact the party. A rock, tree, or table that might intersect a charge lane, or might be used for cover; a hallway that's 10 feet longer or shorter, putting a villain into or out of close spell range; a window, where the original map showed a solid wall: All of these changes could impact a fight. None of them are grounds for invalidating the encounter results just because the GM didn't use the "right" map.
As long as the map doesn't drastically change the encounter, swap out whatever map you want. I've changed the maps used for Inn/Tavern encounters several times because I knew the players had recently seen the map in another adventure. Swapping out one forest for another seems perfectly appropriate.
DO be careful that the new map doesn't change some major tactical dimension. As an example, suppose that a map let one villain "cork" the party in a confined space while his caster allies blasted them. If the original had more exits or a more spacious area, you might inadvertently alter the encounter's difficulty.
I am summoned!
Thanks! Your GM did an excellent job running Jester's Fraud. Looking at your game's progress, I'd also add that your team handled the Jester perfectly: I've seen him run a few groups ragged.
My other PFS scenarios are Our Lady of Silver, Beggar's Pearl, and Echoes of the Overwatched. OLoS is my favorite of those, but it is a Year Zero adventure: Unfortunately, a strong party will tend to steamroll through most of its encounters.
The paladin forbidden to accept quarter should clearly declare that no quarter will be given to the enemies of his people. If an enemy surrenders despite this warning, he should be given the chance to explain his decision. If he is not truly an enemy, he may be able to explain his situation. (This could reasonably fall within the description of "extracting information").
If this foe who has surrendered is not able to satisfactorily explain his actions, he would then be turned over to local authorities for punishment (A settlement of Torag worshippers would likely feature swift, harsh justice). In the absence of suitable authorities, the paladin would then execute justice. A dangerous enemy of his people would be executed.
I agree, aaaand I disagree. I've seen some people make absurd claims based on "Rules as Written" AND I've encountered some unreasonable rule interpretations imposed as "Rules as Intended". In the end, players and GMs need to keep an open mind when they encounter the corner cases and weird situations that lead to such arguments.
Ahhh... The legendary "Katana debate", which inspires dread wherever it appears...
Orfamay Quest wrote:
As far as I know, European swords were made with a single, uniform kind of steel; if you needed ten pounds of steel to make a sword, you started with ten pounds of steel, without worrying...
European swordsmiths were welding together steels with different hardnesses to produce blades that were both sharp and resilient as far back as the Viking era. Their blades were not normally designed to hold an edge as sharp as that of a katana, as European warriors favored sturdier blades able to withstand rough treatment that would leave a katana in fragments.
I am playing a Divine Hunter in a campaign, though I just ran across a really interesting dilemma. A paladin views fighting an enemy with a ranged weapon as immoral and to be used as a last resort, but the Divine Hunter uses it as their primary form of attack. So in theory would that make the Divine Hunter a Neutral Good Paladin, due to having a slighly lax Code of Conduct than that of a standard paladin?
Although all are Lawful Good, not every paladin shares the same code of ethics. To draw upon paladins found in Golarion as examples, a paladin of Iomedae (Goddess of Martial Valor) vows to lead his allies into battle against evil and refuses to retreat unless all his allies have fallen back. A paladin of Sarenrae (Goddess of the Sun and Mercy) vows to accept any foes' honorable surrender and prefers to avoid slaying her enemies when possible. A paladin of Shelyn (Goddess of Love and Beauty) vows never to begin a fight, resorting to diplomacy as long as possible.
As these examples illustrate, paladins may have very different ideas regarding their role as warriors. Some may regard ranged weapons as a craven form of fighting unworthy of their order. Others lack that particular aspect to their code of ethics.
GMs need to be strict when allowing readied actions and sometimes vary from RAW to logically resolve conflicts. If someone readies to "cast scorching ray if the pirate starts to cut the hostage's throat", he's not going to successfully prevent the hostage-taker from completing his own readied action. The scorching ray may burn him down before he can do anything else, but the action that signals him to start (the victim's throat cut) will be completed before his spell is completed.
When readied actions oppose each other and there is no logical way to determine which would go first (e.g.: "The mage readies to throw his fireball orb upon his leader's signal" vs. "The fighter readies to shoot the mage when he hears the enemy leader's signal"), a separate initiative "roll off" should be made to determine which character is "faster off the mark".
K177Y C47 wrote:
So I take it to many of you that if a guy plays a ninja he has to run around in pajamas and be asian and use a Kusari-gama?
No, not at all! If someone has an idea that...
Reskins ninjas as a secretive desert cult whose cloistered followers learn to harness malevolent spirits for supernatural abilities of stealth...
Or they want to make a type of monk whose abilities mimic the legendary powers of the Leopard Men of the deep jungle...
Or they envision the "Behirin Brethren", sorcerers whose bloodline takes on aspects of the draconic and serpentine bloodlines...
I'm all for that.
What I'm not into is the guy who carefully plucks forth the most powerful elements from a dozen books, assembing them into some chimeric travesty in hopes of maximizing his power level. That guy has crossed the line between reasonable optimization and blatant powergaming. An egrigious example I once encountered was a player in a 2nd Edition AD&D game who wanted to play a female drow ranger with one of the fighter class "Kits", with a Native American religion (So he could use the potent "medicine pouch" found in the original Deities and Demigods book), armed with an "improved masterwork katana". I really didn't know what to say to this outrageous display.
there are plenty of great roleplayers out there with extremely optimized characters, but we don't notice them. Their effective roleplaying makes their character's highly-optimized build less noticable. It is merely part of what they do.
I suspect that less capable roleplayers try harder to steer games toward their character's "comfort zone", the specific situations that they're built to handle most effectively. This makes their optimized build much more obvious.
I have no idea what a Stormwind Fallacy is. My guess is that is has something to do with being right. In that case let me just say I Stormwind Fallacy early and often.
In theory, there is no reason that an optimized ubermensch couldn't be the focus of satisfying roleplay encounters.
Unfortunately, the people who are quickest to shout "Stormwind Fallacy" are often the ones using absurdly warped logic to justify their character's bizarre combinations of classes, spells, feats, and equipment. "Why can't I roleplay an ice-elf ninja from the jungle lands?"
When running this one, you may want to tell your players that assuming that every encounter is level-appropriate could lead them into folly...
In the final chamber, a party with a few ranks in Knowledge (planes) should realize that they face more than they can chew ("So what would you like to know about this CR 13 demon?"), but a less-gifted group (or players who haven't faced such a beast before) may just stick around to confront the creature.
For parties that can't decide whether to stay and fight, really pile on the supernatural manifestations accompanying the demon's approach. When the vermin flees, the canned spirits scream and cower, the maps' ink starts to run, glowing lines begin to appear on the walls and floor, and they begin to hear vague abyssal chanting, just maybe the indecisive party may make up their mind.
Some players may also benefit from a subtle reminder that there's a city filled with demon-fighting crusaders just 80 feet above them...