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.
I have always extrapolated from the rule regarding helpless creatures, saying that the remains of size large (or larger) creatures form difficult terrain, but that the remains of smaller creatures aren't significant obstacles (unless piled several deep).
Hopefully, heaps of dead bards don't come along often enough to be a regular issue.
You don't have to be nasty about it, but he needs to be reminded that organized play GMs won't have the options for customizing scenarios that a regular campaign GM might. They can't adjust things on the fly to make the challenge level better suit the party's abilities.
This is no different than players who run one of the other extremely optimal builds out there: Advise him that GMs and other players are discouraged by the way his character virtually solos encounters and would rather play with someone else. "Anyone can build a character that exploits the rules to be invincible. Do you really want to be 'THAT GUY'?"
If he's particularly fond of the character and its uber-grappling ways, he may want to consider less-optimal tactics in some fights, letting others enjoy some time in the spotlight. He may want to "handicap" himself by donating substantial amoints of his gold to "charity" (The Old Pathfinders' Home?).
Alternatively, if he puts the character onto the back burner (or slow advancement) until the rest of the party is slightly higher level than he is, they may catch up to his power curve.
From what you've said, this guy makes no secret of his approach to dealing with foes. If the party's foes should reasonably know about his tactics, they may reasonably diverge from the tactics dictated by the scenario, specifically preparing for a grappler when they ready themselves for combat.
It gets worse when he can act in a surprise round, because then he argues that instead of spending a move action to draw his crossbow, another move action to load it, and a standard to shoot it, he of course carries it in hand loaded at all times, in the middle of a settlement.
In a rough area (Let's say the back alleys of the Puddles...), it's not unreasonable for someone to walk down the street with a weapon in hand or even a nocked arrow. Carrying a loaded crossbow may be unreasonable in some areas, but I can picture someone moving with their crossbow already cocked and a bolt in hand. Placing the bolt would take mere moments (i.e.: a free action): The move/full-round action represents the effort needed to cock the crossbow.
Of course, such behavior is comparable to carrying a leveled gun in a town...
I've run this one twice now.
Since the howlers in the barn would be kind of crowded, I've had two howlers in the barn, with the other two lurking elsewhere on the grounds. Hearing the hunting howl of their packmates, they then come galloping in during round two.
Both parties have avoided fighting the gargoyles. One was concerned that they needed someone bearing the family's bloodline to enter safely, so they researched the family to find a distant relation or bastard son they could recruit to accompany them. (I allowed them to find a disowned "black sheep" cousin willing to acompany them for a fee. He wasn't a trained combatant, carrying a torch and generally taking flight at the first sign of danger.)
Without the gargoyle fight, the investigation of the manor tends to drag on a bit. To increase the tension, I had the demon from downstairs periodically check on the party as they explored. They heard occasional noises, sensed a vague brimstone stench at times, and caught glimpses of furtive movement. Since I had them preroll several Perception checks, they feared that the area was haunted.
I also added names of the victims awkwardly scrawled in blood on the walls of one of the upstairs bedrooms, with comments like "Galt Hanower has found peace, a smile on his face. Contentment has come to Dalianna Baline..." The player characters' names had been added, with comments like "Raxlenn will soon find the peace he seeks..."
If you enforced this on my barbarian, I would refuse to sit at your table. There is nothing indiciating it shouldnt work with all of the attacks on a pounce, so you should not disallow it from doing so.
If I had several players tell me not to seat them at your table (as happened with the Druidzilla I described), I wouldn't WANT you at my table. This guy bent and twisted rules like crazy, so I had to rein him in.
Furthermore, your barbarian would also suffer from the mediocre armor class associated with the rhino hide armor, unlike the wildshaped druid (who rocked out ACs in the mid 30s at level 8). That would tend to balance out his ability to wreak havoc.
I have a couple of observations I'd like to offer:
First, it's somewhat 'metagamey' to say that a creature unloads his full-attack routine "because he doesn't have another foe within five feet". That may be what happens in the game turn, but in the game's world, the creature just took down one foe and looks for its next opponent. It isn't conscious that it just completed a turn and began the next one.
When appropriate, GMs should try to make their players aware of opponents' motivations and approach to combat. A hungry beast may stop to devour a foe while its packmates fight others or a greedy brigand might use his remaining attack to cut his victim's coin purse from his belt or search his victim's backpack for liquor. Just as players' tactics may be suboptimal, some foes aren't on the right sheet of music.
I've had players roll Sense Motive mid-battle when an opponent "shifted gears". "You sense that he's taking the battle more seriously than he did before the barbarian hit him. You expect that he's also not going to take the chance that the cleric will bring anyone else back into the fight."
Blowing a ki point to get a +20 to jump, max ranks 9, class skill 3, let's say dex of 6 because this GM seems to be beyond silly, able to add his class level of 9 to the jump, his speed being 60 ft so that gives him another +12. That's a +59. Rolling a 20 that's a 79. Let's even throw in Skill Focus for another +3. 82 on a roll of 20. So he'd need a magic item that gives him a +20 to acrobatics (something that would cost 40,000gp) and then roll a 20 each time.
Or, as noted above, he could simply have some sort of flight ability, and be described as 'jumping' for wuxia flavor.
A quickrunner's shirt would allow him to get his full attack in.
Call your GM on his b&$%!~*+. A 30 foot high jump is a DC 120. Unless you're using Mythic rules and there's some sort of super jump rules in there that I don't know about, sounds like GM is just making stuff up.
I'd give the GM a bit more respect than that. This monk may have an obscure or homegrown magic item or feat that makes him "bouncier" than most.
I also wouldn't focus too much about the difficulty of the encounters he's sending against you. You haven't been TPKed, so it sounds like he's found the maximum level of encounter that will challenge your characters without slaughtering them. He wants this guy to be a thorn in your side that's virtually impossible to kill off, so you can take even more pride in your accomplishment when you finally toast the guy.
Tactically, I'd go invisible and spam him with summoned critters. A dretch or two is useful for throwing up a stinking cloud to screw up the archers (Don't forget, it's opaque...). Repeated castings of dispel magic should erode the monk's magical defenses (particularly his AC) for a few rounds. Follow that with a summoned celestial lion (if your 7th level PC is a caster) to settle his hash thoroughly. If you can cast suggestion or confusion, you'll find they devastate fighter-types: Cast it after using a terrain control spell to keep them together for maximum mayhem.
Scenario 0-20: King Xeros of Old Azlant has an encoutner that prudent players can settle by roleplaying, making it easily playable in a four-hour slot. I'm also fond of the adventure's plot, which may have your (Tier 7-8) players thinking "Game Over, man! We're all gonna die on this rock!"
The "default" setting for people who have to leave early would be to award experience if they completed more than half the Mod and award gold based on the encounters they did finish. Even if his behavior was unreasonable, YOU want to be reasonable. Don't hammer him because of this one issue.
You need to talk with the player about the sources of his frustration. Was there a conflict with someone else at the table, was he frustrated because he didn't like running the character he chose, did he dislike the scenario, or was some other factor his main concern?
If his issue was that he couldn't think of something useful to do with the character, he should be encouraged to try a different approach in the future. There's nothing wrong with a player telling the table "I really can't think of what to do now, and I'm getting awfully frustrated" (Unless he makes a regular practice of asking for help).
Pathfinder is a game where we all work together to have fun. As GM, try to empower your frustrated player to seek advice when it's needed. If the game approach used by another player is an issue, try to help them see each other's point of view.
It is possible that your player is just impatient or immature. If that seems to be the case, you need to respectfully hold him accountable for his choices. Once in a while, you'll encounter someone who lacks the needed social skills and courtesy to participate in organized play. If he repeatedly crosses the "Don't be a Jerk" line, it may be better for the whole group for him to find a group that's more closely in accord with his approach.
I wish that I had read this before running a "slot-zero" game for the Dark Menagerie. In our post-mortem, we hit upon several of the same ideas that were detailed here. We also had a few of our own twists:
* The floating helm should play "tour guide" in Ancient Azlanti. I'd keep it silent and mysterious to start out, but then it starts to provide unhelpful commentary as the party is attacked by the dungeon's various inhabitants. "Many visitors ask how Nhur Athemon keeps the creatures in his exhibits so docile. It's no mystery, really: They are bound with enchantments designed to last for centuries! You can even go up to these scorpions and pet them if you wish."
* My players immediately slammed the door and started buffing when they reached the scorpion room. One of the scorpions promptly ripped it off its hinges and tried to drag a PC into the room.
* The decapus should have an illusion up since it just heard the PCs massacring the scorpions. I'd recommend an illusionary floor with a robed, skeletal figure standing in front of an altar. The skeleton is holding a pitcher, which it raises dramatically and begins to slowly pour its contents onto the altar. That vignette will get one of the fighter-types in almost any party to charge, only to fall through the floor and end up prone in front of the beetle.
Painlord posted a number of helpful references, which are linked to his page: http://paizo.com/people/Painlord
As far as survival goes, allow me to suggest that you ask yourself the following:
W.W.B.M.D. - What Would Batman Do?
Many people feel that the Batman's greatest superpower is his obsessive preparation. Pick up a variety of small items (both magical and mundane), so that no matter what happens, you'll always have a backup plan. If some big goon gets in your face, how will you get him off you?
Instead of a CLW wand ASAP, I would suggest a wand of infernal healing. As an arcane spell, you can cast it more reliably. Some smelling salts may also prove helpful.
Scrolls of protection from evil and comprehend languages occasionally come in handy. Oil of grease serves as a "poor man's freedom of movement"
Carry a weapon so that you can flank and aid your party's brutes when they swing. Most foes will prefer to attack the guy who slams them for 20 points of damage instead of the robe-clad nerd helping him.
I am no longer allowed to use multiple castings of Mount to abuse falling object rules and drop horses on creatures with low Reflex Saves.
Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
Which doesn't work anyways, but it's the thought that counts, right?
Serephelle Hartsil wrote:
It does if you have a convenient balcony. It's a little hard on the horse, but, eh.
Narrow staircases are also fun...
Like any other group, PFS events have their share of guys who just aren't ready for prime time. When you're faced with such an individual, you're entirely in your rights to require appropriate behavior from them.
You may wish to tell the organizer that you will not play at the same table as the problem player until he moderates his behavior. If there are others who feel the same way, get them aboard as well.
When addressing issues with other players, specifically state the time, place, and manner of the offensive behavior. "During the scenario's opening fight, JoeBob used profanity six different times despite my request that he stop. He also repeatedly cut me off so he could tell the GM what my character was doing." That keeps the problem player from claiming you're exaggerating or misrepresenting your concerns.
If the monsters have the HP to pull it off, don't be afraid to deliberately draw AoOs. Once the PC uses his AoO, the next monster can often grapple, run past to nuke the squishies, bull rush, trip, disarm, or cast spells with impunity.
Make the PCs AFRAID to use their attacks of opportunity.
I thought the Society had a strict policy against reskinning of ANY kind. I'd assume gender flipping is a form of reskinning...
The whole "reskinning" issue came up when someone wanted to use the stats for an allowed animal companion, describing the creature as something that wasn't allowed. There was some related discussion about reskinning equipment (e.g.: "My sailor PC's weapon is a greatclub in the stats, but I'm saying it's actually a boat oar").
There was some concern that inventive optimizers could find annoying ways to pervert such flexibility (i.e.: "My character can talk to burrowing mammals, so he should be allowed to talk to his giant mole animal companion, which uses the stats for a riding dog").
Because of a few frustrating examples of that sort of behavior, reskinning was forbidden under most circumstances.
Despite that, as long as a player's reskin of a pregen doesn't cause any problems, any GM I know would allow the requested changes.
When running this, I emphasize the mists' unnatural behavior. The mists roil and shift near the floor, with strange columns of mist rising up and meandering across the ceiling like searching tendrils. In the Hall of the Ancient Dead, the mists coil around the remains on display, seeming to embrace and caress them.
If you have time, make handouts for your players (described in one of the previous threads). This makes it easier for them to assess the effects on their characters.
I'm not going to tell a player that something legal isn't allowed at MY table, but I certainly feel free to make my own decisions about unusual interpretations and corner cases. I'll always try to ensure that everyone feels welcome to game with me.
I'll also (tactfully) point out when someone's choices are causing friction or frustration in the hope that we can find a way for everyone to have fun. Just because someone's character is "Uber", it doesn't follow that they can't adjust their style to give others a chance to shine.
Once or twice, I've even advised someone that I can't give them a fun and challenging game if they use the character/spell combo/animal they put together. I'm not telling them what to do: I'm advising them of the limitations I face as a GM in organized play.
I've participated in organized play events for many years now (Living Greyhawk before Pathfinder Society) and in that time, I've seen few situations that couldn't somehow be settled. Nearly all problems can be resolved if people communicate with tact and mutual respect.
Having said that, I try not to force my GMs and players to sit at the same table with people who kill their enjoyment of the game. If an otherwise legal tactic or overly powerful combination of abilities keeps the other players from enjoying themselves, I'm going to request that the involved player change some details of his approach. As an example, a ferociously-optimized character who dominates play might be no problem at all if he looks for a table where he's a level behind the other characters instead of being the highest level PC at the table.
I honestly can't see any good reason for a GM to forbid reskinning purely cosmetic details of a pregenerated PC. I can only conjecture that some people worry too much.
Personally, I'm fond of saddling shorthanded groups with "Aryk the Barbaric Cleric", Kyra reskinned as a brutish Kellid who speaks atrocious Common and proudly shows everyone his "Semi-Tar", given to him by a celestial servant of his goddess.
By the way, Kyra the iconic cleric has the Healing domain. She takes some healing spells as her domain spells: That's why she has them prepared.
In the end, it all comes down to the fact that NOBODY likes being told how to play their character. Clerics don't like being told to shut up and heal the "real damage dealers" and other classes don't being told what to do, either.
I think that this community has recognized that if one forced healer-types to overspend on consumables in order to accomplish their party responsibilities, healers become scarce. Based on that, characters have been advised to carry their own healing resources.
The original poster's point seems to be adequately summarized by the statement, "Don't be a jerk, no matter how valid your basic concern may be."
Gamemasters are wise to NEVER let the players know they "gave 'em a break". That gives the players the feeling that they'll be rescued when they get in too deep.
Given the circumstances described, as Mal left the area, I'd have had him soliloquize "At last, through your ignorant meddling, the curse of 10,000 years has been lifted! I shall soon regain my full powers! Goodbye, fools! When next we meet, I shall devour your very souls!"
I'd follow that by allowing some Spellcraft rolls or Knowledge (arcana) checks that would reveal how some recent action on their part had shattered the ancient binding that held the barghest. If only they had stopped to read the warning script (somewhere nearby)... (Sigh!)
One unfortunate choice that I have repeatedly encountered in org play games is the decision to put the least experienced GMs onto the low-level tables. This is done because the lewer levers are much easier to run. Unfortunately, it also forces the newer players to suffer from some of the least capable GMs.
One advantage of organized play is that you get to game with people without inviting them over to your place to do it. This allows you to avoid awkward explanations after you discover that a GM or fellow player isn't one you wish to game with in the future: Instead, you just join a different table.
Did the GM run two encounters together, perchance? In that scenario, a GM could theoretically jam up two of the encounters that were meant to run consecutively. Such a decision would certainly result in a bloodbath.
In any case, I'd tactfully explain to the event organizer that you'd like to try gaming with a different GM, as his approach wasn't what you prefer when gaming. Be truthful, but tactful, since we all make mistakes at times and it's possible that this guy just needs to better understand what he's doing wrong.
Over the years, I've seen unbalanced parties that were great fun to play. Their strengths and weaknesses pose a challenge for the players, as they try to reduce the effect of their vulnerabilities while making the most of their strengths.
A party without a meat shield has several options for addressing that weak point that don't force anyone to play characters they aren't in the mood to try. Their rangers can get trained animals to face their foes, casters can enthrall someone with enchantment or summon some creatures, or they can practice throwing down obstacles (fog, smoke, web, grease, caltrops, marbles, old furniture, etc.).
I object to the cliche that fighters aren't good for anything but standing still and swinging their swords. Pathfinder allows fighters so many feats and options that a "one trick pony" fighter really isn't using all the opportunities given him.
Maybe give the fighter class enough skill points to actually feel like a competent, skillful character and see if that improves anyone's desire to play one.
Salamandyr, you're a bit behind the times. A skillful fighter isn't hard to build in Pathfinder. A human fighter with INT 13 can bring 5 points to the table with every level (2 + 1 INT + 1 Human + 1 Favored Class). There are plenty of build options that will make that Int 13 a worthwhile investment. Start him with Combat Reflexes, Combat Expertise, and Improved Trip (or Improved Disarm), hand him a polearm, and watch as he makes foes cry with frustration.
As another option, give your monsters a custom feat that allows them to automatically close any time someone near them makes a five-foot step. That'll get rid of the annoying "melee archers" who back up and full attack repeatedly.
Jacob Saltband wrote:
Very true. When I first ran this, the first PC encountering the Visitant immediately turned and fled, encouraging the others to flee the level with him.
They were wise. When I've run the Enigma Vaults, that horror has reduced every group that stood against it to a tattered shambles.
I sympathize completely, as I have been in the same situation, when new material came out that perfectly suited my character's style. Unfortunately, you're not allowed a rebuild to accommodate new material. To get what you would like, you can take the extra traits feat as a 3rd level character, or you can build a new PC as a "clone" of the current one.
The planned use for the spell doesn't appear to pose a balance problem, but could open a minor can of worms if applied as a general rule. If you can grease someone's boots to make them slippery, can you...
- Grease the pads of a monster's feet to force it to balance? Would this prevent it from climbing, running, or charging?
- Grease a worn object, such as a circlet, goggles, or a gauntlet, to make them fall off the wearer?
- Grease an invisible foe to make them visible? (That's also not mentioned in the spell description, but doesn't seem outrageous...)
While I'm fond of allowing nonstandard interpretations of a spell's effects, there are some players who make GMs wish that they hadn't allowed such things.
First, let the players make their choices: They have consequences, but if you make the consequences too crippling, your effectively dictating how the characters should act. That really regrades the players' participation in the game. Some guys can be champions of good: Some aren't.
I would include a scene in the underworld, where the character encounters the shades of his victims and is offered great honor by the most vile and disgusting of the underworld's demonic inhabitants.
He will also be targeted for retribution from the land's defenders: Make them distinctly weaker than he is, so he gets the joy of defending himself by slaughtering angry paladins and lawful-good clerics.
Finally, many of the victims will rise as undead, some of whom will haunt their killer. Don't have them directly attack him: They're drawn to him, yet terrified by his presence. Wherever he goes, their unseen presence follows. A good way to amp up the horror would be for these creatures to periodically kill someone else in the area. The character rest at an inn, and in the morning, the stable boy is dead, apparently blown apart. His burned remains seem to whisper to the murderer.
Why would you get "walloped" when casting Color Spray? It's a standard action to cast, so just move out of the way after spraying your foes.
I expect that he's putting himself into harm's way to get the most targets into the color spray's area.
To make the most of your spell, people need to use the delay action. If the fighter who beat your initiative delays, you can move up to cast, immediately followed by your meat shield. If you stand 5 ft. behind two front-line types (leaving 5 feet between them), you can nuke the spaces right in front of them. Anyone who wants to melee with you must walk into a flank box. By using delay, you can ensure that you all advance and retreat together.