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Red in the mountains.
Maybe have the lizard folk worship, or at least venerate, the good dragons?
Maybe blue dragons are allied with the elves. The elves want to conquer the Xulgath empire, but the blue dragons want to win their desert back. Dragons vs. Demons (sorry, Qloppith (sp?)).
Paladin isn't too complicated mechanically but has a TON of RP baggage/nuance that is the opposite of easy.
But newbies probably lack all that RP baggage, so they can make fun and unique paladins.
But I still think rangers are best. Maybe with the Guide (?) archetype? It introduces all sorts of sub-systems at a relatively slow but steady rate (one or two per level) and has lots of skills players--and especially newbies--like to use. Archery might be feat-intensive, but in play is easy to do. It doesn't rely as much on tactical maneuvering that melee combat does, and most archers get injured less often than folk in melee.
Ranger is the best intro class.
It is a pretty standard warrior. Good BAB, light and martial weapons, light and medium armor, shields, 1d10 HD.
It has lots of skills and 2 good saves. And a lot of its skills are fun to use, like Climb and Stealth and Survival and Swim. Perception is always being used. It has a few Knowledge skills too.
Wild Empathy is a "crunchy" method of non-combat conflict resolution that can be used as a tool to teach players they don't have to kill EVERYTHING.
It introduces bonus feats via Combat Styles, so their lists of choices are small and manageable and focused.
It also introduces the rules for pets, aiding allies, and spells.
It also teaches players to pay attention to some of the minutia of Pathfinder, like monster types and terrain types.
I made a half-elf hammer & shield dual-weapon fighting paladin, that used the Bully trait, Bludgeoner feat, Enforcer feat, and the free Skill Focus from being a half-elf in Intimidate to be a de-buffer double smiter paladin. It also used the Two-Weapon Fighting feat chain AND the Shield Bashing feat chain. It used up a lot of feats, but was fun!
The key was to 2-weapon fight with warhammer and heavy shield, doing bludgeoning damage to cause non-lethal damage with the Bludgeoner feat, and Intimidate the bejeezus out of the foes with the Enforcer feat (using the Bully trait and Skill Focus to get +4 or +7 to those free Intimidate checks).
I think there is a trait that pretty much does the same thing as the Bludgeoner feat. But you might have to dual-wield shortswords or something to benefit from it if you want to do the double Enforcer thing.
The 3.5 warlock was a great magic-user class! It had magic, it almost always hit (targeted touch AC!), it had a great mix of social and exploration skills, and it didn't have a lot of resource management to keep track of.
It might not have been super powerful, but it was fun and easy to play, and had great flavor.
During our last session, a bunch of players noted the lack of otter-related magic items and an interest in there being some.
So I'm working on some now.
Amulet of the Otter
Staff of the Otter
How do these look?
I was thinking of it being kind of a backdoor campaign setting for Planescape. One aspect of Planescape that is often overlooked is that it's a way to connect lots of Prime Material Planes too. You can team up a kender handler, an Athas gladiator, a Harper bard, an Al Qadim genie binder, a pistol-packing paladin from the Flaeness, and a samurai from Kara-Tur. Also, doesn't the Harmonium call some prime called Orthos kip? It would be neat to know a little bit more about that.
In a PbP, we all played elves as proper English gentlemen. Don't know why. Mine was a barbarian with an elven curve blade. I took the +1 foot of speed favored class bonus and the rage powers that lead up to Raging Leaper or whatever that "virtual Spring Attack" rage power was called that WAS a legal combo with Vital Strike. Power Attack, Pushing Assault, and Precise Strike were his first 3 feats (there was a sorcerer/cavalier/wannabe eldritch knight in the party with Precise Strike too). It was also a variant elf that gave Stealth as a class skill, so my guy had Acrobatics, Perception, and Stealth maxed out, and dipped into Climb, Intimidate, Survival, and Swim.
Long train journeys mean lots of reading, so am also 3/4 of the way through 'Perdido Street Station'. I like it an awful lot; you can tell he was in the SWP, though.
I'm re-reading Perdido Street Station too. I forgot how stereotypical the set up was (the protagonist gets hired to do a job by a mysterious benefactor; the other protagonist gets hired to do a job by a different mysterious benefactor).
But the world building is so over the top, it's amazing.
Is this a group of new players? Or a group of players that have already killed a dozen liches over the years?
Unless the PCs are designed to kill uber-undead (Glory clerics, +10 favored enemy rangers, etc.), I would try for something unundead.
I would look at adding new and exciting templates, maybe something with aberrations, steampunk constructs, fey, GOOD outsiders, etc.
A mounted Halfling or gnome or other Small-sized cavalier or paladin or ranger or hunter or druid archer might be fun. You can move (ride) and still take full attacks.
A character I want to try playing someday is an elf alchemist archer (using Explosive Missile discovery on his arrows) that eventually goes into the Master Chymist PrC. He would concentrate on archery at low level (PBS, Precise Shot, Focused Shot), and then start taking "tanky" feats later on (Power Attack, etc.) for when he turns into a monster.
I suppose you could make a Dex-based persona for Master Chymist, too, but I like the idea of a skinny little elf turning into a giant with a big damn stick.
I also like the idea of a Strength-based javelin thrower with a shield and Quick Draw. Even if Chakrams are better.
I just got done playing a relatively generic hill dwarf cleric of Life (Desna). I used the Standard Array for my stats, max hp at 1st level, and the average hit points for levels 2-14.
He was a big hit point sponge and had a great AC, especially after 3rd or 4th level when he could afford full plate.
Ideally, he would have gotten some AC-enhancing items, saving throw-enhancing items, and definitely healing-enhancing items.
Instead, he got a ring of swimming, a medusa mask (helps on visual saves, petrifies 1/day), and Belt of Frost Giant Strength (or whatever 23 is!). He also eventually got a +1 full plate, +1 shield, and +1 warhammer.
This gave him a really good exploration item, a neat trump card ability, and then a way to hit as hard as the fighter and barbarian, if not as many times per round.
The Age of Unreason series by Gregory Keyes is some steampunky alternate history. Newton and Franklin and their shenanigans. (The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone by him are like Song of Ice and Fire, but complete and slightly less grimdark, but not steampunky.)
Ian Tregillis's The Mechanical is some more steampunky alternate history.
So every year I tend to read along a theme. Next year I'm looking to read more steampunk. Any good recommendations?
Have you heard of The Anubis Gate by Tim Powers?
Gail Carriger's Soulless and its sequels and prequels.
Scott Westerfield's Leviathan and its sequels.
Jim Butcher's The Aeronaut's Windlass.
Mark Hodder's The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack and its sequels.
Cherie Priest's Boneshaker and its sequels.
Chris Wooding's Tales of the Ketty Jay series (Retribution Falls and its sequels).
Railsea by China Mieville. Also Perdido Street Station and the rest of the trilogy.
Felix Gilman's The Half-Made World and Thunderer are pretty good.
The Difference Engine by William Gibson and what's-his-name, of course.
The Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan.
I wish there was some way to connect those two 'verses together.
What CRs do you plan on using? I know a lot of CR 1 creatures have attacks that can potentially kill a 1st to 3rd PC in one shot (especially the more squishy kind). CR 2 or 3 vs. a level 1 PC with a +2 sword might kill him in one blow before he gets a chance to swing it.
Spreading out levels after 5th seems more plausible to me.
A magic item is almost never going to be as good as whole level. Maybe if it's very powerful, and then it can make things swingy, especially with Bounded Accuracy.
It's definitely going to be interesting.
I can tell you from personal experience, my 13th level cleric got "punished by my deity" and lost a level, I was extremely bitter about it, especially since I didn't do anything to violate my deity's orthodox. I would have quit the campaign if it wasn't the second to last session of it, and only so I wouldn't screw over my fellow players.
So I would suggest being very clear with players about what's going on. Emphasize the randomness of the character creation process, and also that you are not purposely punishing anyone.
We just played a random-ish 7th level session, and the lack of magic weapons against opponents with Resistance to non-magical b/p/s was pretty much not a factor.
My half-elf urchin rogue (thief)
A human paladin (oath of the ancients, protection)
An elf warlock (pact of the archfey, boon of the chain)
An aasimar (I think) Light cleric (exactly like Melisandre from GoT!)
A Halfling monk (Way of Shadows)
A human fighter (battlemaster, 2 weapon fighting)
I think the paladin began the adventure with a magic sword, and the monk's fists of fury are considered magical. The battlemaster earned a +1 longsword during the adventure.
I'm one chapter away from finishing Ancillary Justice.
I'm about to re-read Perdido Street Station by China Mieville to get inspiration for my new steampunk campaign. It takes place in a city on top of a giant beanstalk, surrounded by a perpetual storm, and growing out of a lake in the middle of a floating continent that is filled with Stone Age and Bronze Age tribes and city-states and vast jungles and smoking volcanoes and crumbling ruins and ancient temples dedicated to cults worshiping elder god-things.
The Unseelie Court isn't necessarily evil, they're just dark and creepy and cruel and amoral (as opposed to immoral). They're the shadowed mirror of the Seelie Court, which is all beauty and sunshine. Many Unseelie have an obvious deformity that keeps them out of the Seelie Court. This makes them bitter. They might have hidden deformities as well. Many deformities are physical, but many are mental or spiritual as well (madness and insanity). Sometimes the Unseelie Court is called the Winter Court.
In addition to fleshing your character out with your choice of feats, skills, domains, deities, and race, you can also use traits to spice up your character.
In play, your choice of Judgment and Teamwork feats might also be your calling card.
Alternative racial traits and the different inquisitor archetypes can also differentiate your character.
Another option is multiclassing. Probably not ideal, since so many inquisitor abilities are based on class level, but a dip for 1 or 2 levels might add some nice flavor. For example, 2 levels in ranger (and I think slayer) give you a combat style feat, plus other goodies. If you're really into Teamwork Feats, cavalier gives you a bonus one at 1st level and the ability to share it with your allies. Plus heavy armor, all martial weapons, etc. etc.
Maybe the trolls and the spellcasters just like each other. Maybe they're allied against a common threat. Maybe the bard and wizard work for the trolls, and the trolls have a giant tribe somewhere.
It sounds like what you're really going for is you want to remove vulnerabilities X and Y from Monsters Z, and also have a way for the PCs to be clever and remove protections X and Y.
That can be a fun type of encounter if the PCs pick up on it. After the shock of seeing their trusty fireballs fail to cook the trolls, they'll have to rally. They have to be strategic in who to target and when to target them. For example, the tanks might have to block the trolls from squishy magic-users as the magic-users use divination magic to point out the invisible enemies for the snipers to snipe.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the 3.5 Ravenloft adventure was based around this. The PCs had to explore the BBEG Vampire's Domain, and there were several site-based encounters that, if successfully overcome, each would remove a different protection from the BBEG. (It also had the added benefit of giving the PCs more XP and levels so they would be a match for the BBEG.)
Aura of Menace: Charisma save (DC 15) or suffer disadvantage on Attack Rolls, Saving Throws, and Ability Checks until you hit the hound archon.
Change Shape: Can assume the for of a dire wolf, giant hyena, hyena, jackal, mastiff, or wolf, retains own Int, Wis, Cha, Alignment and personality.
Wields a greatsword that does +2d6 radiant damage.
Str 16, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 15.
AC 16 (natural armor)
HD: 8d8+16 (52 hit points)
Resist bludgeon, necrotic, piercing, poison, radiant, slashing damage.
At will: Aid, Detect Evil and Good, Light, Magic Circle, Message.
How high of a level is the party and under what circumstances did they find the key?
1st level, 5th Edition (so really levels 1 through 3). Each member of the party got a letter with a date, a time, and address on it, along with an alchemically treated brass key. All six keys are needed to open the gate to the courtyard of an abandoned mansion, and each key opens something specific within the house.
A tiefling warlock scavenger, bound to a mysterious clockwork force.