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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...
1.) If a character takes lethal damage from the cold (either by taking too much nonlethal damage or by being in extreme cold, aka -20 degrees F), can a character regain hit points through a cure light wounds spell or some other source of magical healing, or does she need to be "out of the cold" in order for the spell to be effective?
He needs to be "out of the cold".
2.) Does a camp fire provide enough heat for a character to be considered "out of the cold" and warm for the purposes of recovering from damage?
It does depend on the fire, but an adequately large fire can provide adequate heat for recovery. Under extreme circumstances, they may need additional shelter: Someone on a windswept mountain slope or arctic plain would need an adequate windblock or similar shelter.
An igloo, tent or other shelter would substantially reduce the size of the fire needed.
Several of my characters have obvious personality flaws. One's an smarmy womanizer, one has a hokey "Austrian" accent, and another is just creepy (picture an alchemist played by Peter Lorre).
The key elements to successfully playing such characters is to describe them to the other players at the table before you're distracted by the scenario's plot. Be alert to negative reactions from the others at the table. If they're smiling at your character's bizarre antics, keep going. If they seem less enthused, turn it down a notch.
(In my experience, younger players and powergamers are the folks least tolerant of characters' idiosyncracies. The youngsters often take everything very seriously and the powergamers don't want to have to "carry" someone not built for maximum effectiveness.)
I can think of a dozen reasons why it might be better to limit a table's size. This may be because you're playing with a group or player that has special needs or a handicap, because the room is too cramped to comfortably fit a larger group, because the GM has difficulty hearing a large party in a noisy hall, because the organizer is trying to tactfully separate incompatible players, etc.
As long as you have a good reason, you can place any reasonable restrictions needed to ensure a positive play experience.
I've seen a variety of odd professions chosen by PFS characters without anyone complaining. Just off the top of my head, I've seen...
Admittedly, it might be hard to see how a swineherd could make 50 gp in a couple weeks' herding, but such elevated levels of pig-headedness must be rare and valued by bacon enthusiasts.
How are the players supposed to learn about the puzzle-box aspect of the helm? The text doesn't say. There are skills that can be used to defeat the challenge, but not to discover its existence.
I don't have the scenario handy, but couldn't the hag advise the party? That could become part of her effort to get them to free her.
Detect evil and Sense Motive work best as tools that give the characters clues, not instant solutions to the puzzles that face them.
The Morphling wrote:
That problem is fixed by the paladin losing all of his powers instantly when he murders an innocent evil commoner.
Is that really the most elegant solution? Wouldn't it be better for the paladin to know his own limitations and avoid such a frustrating doom?
I would NOT recommend permanently nuking someone's treasured magic items in PFS play. While such an act would be totally in character for a demon, it could permanently handicap the involved character.
In a home game, other party members could ease the loss by lending or giving him equipment they don't need. They could allow him an extra share of treasure for a while. The GM could place a couple of interesting items into another monster's hoard or could run a special adventure where the party goes after the offending demon to steal items back or take revenge.
Unlike a home campaign, the structure of organized play does not allow GMs and other players to adapt scenarios this way. Missing items could become a permanent sore point for the player, a frustration that would linger long after the scenario ended.
I do not mean that items should be entirely proof against loss or destruction. If the party squares off agaisnt a pack of rust monsters or a giant with Improved Sunder, they need to be ready for some unpleasantness. I just mean that such incidents should be few and far between, not part of the standard tactics of the season's most common foes.
Furthermore, demons cause misery and woe, crushing their foes' hearts with their cruel cunning. While PLAYERS might be heartbroken over lost magic items, I don't see heroic adventurers as caught up in their equipment and tools. "Foolish mortal! Now that I have brought your pitiful band to its knees, your sufferings shall be exquisite! On the frame of pain, I shall make your MAGIC SWORD scream for mercy!"
I've often described the ziggurat as a “plinth” to better match the image on the map:
In the center of the room, a step-sided plinth looms twenty feet up from the mists. Narrow steps and numerous handholds on the plinth's sides would make it an easy climb.
The plinth's pinnacle forms a platform some four feet across, upon which sits an altar covered with 'demon-ape' motifs. A slender elf lies sprawled across the altar, bound to it by some of the artificial vines that decorated the chamber. The elf's robes are ragged tatters. He does not seem to be trying to escape, but is instead screeching and grunting in time with the ululating chanting of the apes in the vast chamber. A small monkey sits atop the elf’s chest, waving a stone dagger.
I’ve run this one twice: The first time, it worked very well. The second time, events tended to go off the rails, with a ninja party member sneaking into the Consul’s home in the dead of night to search for clues, and others extensively questioned their captured Galtan mercenaries and made repeated visits to the local temple of Abadar.
Players quickly suspected that Thalia faked her kidnapping in order to elope with some swain of whom her father wouldn’t approve. Since she was something of an “old maid” by rural Andoren standards, party members wanted to know why she hadn’t married yet and whether she had a sweetheart. They were initially told that “Thalia’s always been more interested in her books of philosophy than in marriage,” eventually discovering that “Thalia’s father didn’t approve of the suitors she wanted to marry, so she has stubbornly refused to consider marriage with the wealthy landowners he would prefer.” Her father had encouraged “unsuitable” suitors to seek their fortunes elsewhere, ensuring that no one would hire them locally while having his business partners offer them opportunities in distant regions.
The party wanted to know why she didn’t go to the festival with the rest of the household. The Consul advised at first told the party that she didn’t feel well, but Dorabell later admitted that Thalia and the Consul had been arguing earlier in the day (behind closed doors), so she refused to attend the festival with him. “He insisted that she should go, but she claimed that she wanted nothing to do with him and was staying home.” (The Consul sent one of his employees to pass Koriana a coded note that Thalia would be home alone during the festival. The servants didn’t note anything of this, as workers and overseers regularly stop by the estate.)
The player characters wanted to question Thalia’s friends and asked whether she had any teachers or companions who spent time with her and might have information about her recent activities. I decided that a local priest of Abadar had served as her tutor. He knew that she had been looking up information about her family history in the church’s records.