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The Chort's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 779 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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oldmanboy wrote:

ok now I am getting confused a bit.

If I was to go for the high dex route then surely I should have Toughness and FCB to HP to balance out the lack of HP from CON?

Also since my CON is lower I am not going to hap a mass amount of TEMP HP anyways so Raging vitality doesn't really matter as I could just drop my rage if things get messy?

Also, I think Raging Vitality is more beneficial for those that don't take Superstitious as you can't heal when raging and if you are using RV then as soon as you drop Rage you are definitely dead. Seems like a Kamikaze approach to a lose lose situation.

Any thoughts?

Most characters that are ever built by point buy have 12 to 14 con, just because it's an important stat, but not the stat that makes your character shine, it's just necessary to stay alive. 13 Con, or 14 at level 4 is about as good as you can expect. D12 HD + Con 14 is a respectable amount of HP

Now, there's a solid case for Toughness and Con 16 (although I would stick with the Human FCB no matter what.) However, in Pathfinder, when given the choice between being harder to kill vs more combat options/killing power, I usually choose the latter.

High dex opens up new options like archery and reach (combat reflexes) And the initiative, reflex, and AC boost are subtle ways of increasing your HP. (Reflex so you take half damage, AC so you take no damage, initiative so you kill them before they kill you.)

And instead of toughness, I'd sooner start climbing feat trees, save feats for rage powers and so on.

But again, 20 str 14 dex (at level 4) and 16 con is an exceptional barbarian as well. And a Barbarian with Toughness is certainly less likely to die from damage. It's all personal preference.

Like Charon, my suggestion would be:

20 Str (after racial) 16 dex 13 con

Some would argue you should put your ability increases all in Str, but I think it would be a reasonable idea to put your level 4 increase in Con to make it an even 14.

Weapon Focus is nice, but I wouldn't specialize too soon. I'd carry a greataxe, a lucerne hammer, and a longbow with an appropriate str rating. While you don't need to invest any feats in archery or anything, there will always be times when you come across flying enemies. And even if you have a +5 greataxe, it won't do you any good against them.

Other than that, sounds like you have a solid plan for rage powers, and Charon has mentioned possibilities if interested in a reach build. I might pop in later to comment more; have to go to work!

Oh, another more immediate band-aid to your problem would be to punish not showing up in small way:

Rather than permanently falling behind, (Less loot/exp) just create some sort of "worn out" template for players who didn't come last time.

Like, all casters show up with half of their spells (rounded down) expended at each level. I.e.

6 1st level spells - expend 3
5 2nd level spells - expend 2
4 3rd level spells - expend 2
3 4th level spells - expend 1

And then apply the same to limited uses per day abilities or whatever. Maybe if you're especially deep in a dungeon, round up instead of round down.

I'm not sure I'd bother with fatigue or HP loss or whatever, especially if there's a Cleric whose spells and channeling have been reduced by this "worn out" template.

This is a rough one. I don't think there's a perfect solution to your problem, but here are possible courses of action:

Whittle down the size of your group - Consider having a cap of 6 players at any one time? Keep players who are committed to the group and/or players who are good at making the game more enjoyable for each person at the table.

Constantly communicate with players - Make a facebook group; whatever. Do your absolute best to find a date without conflicts

Reward good behavior - This is difficult, especially in AP's, but it is preferable to punishing bad behavior. Whether it's more experience, loot, or some other blessing of the GM, find some way to illustrate it pays to show up.

Make your game as enjoyable as possible - Haha, if only it were as easy to read this instruction and execute. All I'm saying is that if you read your material, do a good job narrating, running combat, running NPCs, and keep a friendly group of players which you communicate with throughout the month... It's more likely to build commitment; an "Oh my God, I don't want to miss this, it's the highlight of my week" kind of attitude.

Melkiador wrote:
It's basically all different forms of organization and management. It reminds me of how back in the day being a WoW raid leader could actually be listed on a resume. Because organizing a team of 40 people to perform a common goal with separate roles was quite a feat.

If only employers counted my gaming as useful experience...

Bought and sold virtual items for virtual wealth until I was an infamous tycoon, learned principals of optimization by playing competitive speed runs on Kingdom of Loathing, GMed for Pathfinder...

Really, Mr. Christopherson, these are legitimate skills! I'm qualified to be your CFO. *cough cough*

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Whenever my mom talks about leading groups of people in present or past bible studies, I can’t help but think “That sounds like a situation that’s come up in my Pathfinder groups.” After experiencing this enough times, I decided to briefly interview my mom with the goal of finding useful parallels between successfully leading a bible study and being a successful GM.

Question: What are your primary goals as a women’s discussion leader in Bible Study Fellowship?

A discussion leader is a facilitator of the group and the number one goal is Balanced Sharing; getting everyone to participate. Some women are shy. I call on them for easy questions to hopefully get them comfortable with sharing with the group. Some women are overly talkative and feel the need to answer every question. Instead of scolding these women, I try to encourage them and redirect them. “You’ve done several bible studies and your experience shows; however, for some of these women, it’s their first year, so I’d like to give them a chance to share too. I want you to be a resource I can call on when no one else has the answer.” Essentially, get that women on your team and help them see the goal of the group. (Balanced Sharing) Encourage and love them, no matter how obnoxious they can get.

Here’s a few things I keep in mind:
1. Be well prepared for the discussion – Read your material
2. Most situations can be resolved with charm, kindness and encouragement.
3. While rare, when all options are exhausted, sometimes you have to tell a woman she’s not a good fit for the group (One instance in the last 23 years)

Question: What responsibilities do you have as a discussion leader outside of discussion time?

I call the women every week to check what’s going on in their lives, if God taught them anything that week and so forth. This is the toughest part of my job, but it’s important to communicate with the women.

Also, every week we have a leaders meeting, probably about 20 minutes each week where we go over what’s going on in our groups each week, like what’s been working, what hasn’t been working. You’re leading a group of human beings; there’s bound to be differences in opinion. So during our leaders meetings we run through hypothetical situations and discuss possible methods to resolve them.

Finally, once a year we have a workshop. We go on a weekend retreat, fellowship and learn how to better lead our groups.

Oh, and most importantly of all, we pray on our knees.*

*I finally let on I was interviewing her for the sake of Pathfinder and thought this was important for you to know.

Unsurprisingly, at least to me, there are tons of parallels on being a good discussion leader and being a good GM. Managing people, no matter the reason, deals with the same issue: You're dealing with people. Some are easy to work with, others not as much.

Here's some lessons I've taken away:

1. Balanced Sharing - This seems an eternal struggle in one of my groups, where we have dominating players and shy or simply less talkative players. The GM should single out the shy ones to get them more involved; have an NPC interact with them specifically, delegate some task to them like tracking initiative.

2. Communicate with players - In BSF, this takes the form of a weekly phone call. In Pathfinder, it's sometime easy to skip this step, but I think it's an important one for the long term health of a gaming group. It doesn't have to be weekly even, but you really want to keep a pulse on how players are individually feeling about the campaigns. Is it fun? What makes it not fun? What would you like to do in the future?

3. Training - In our group, everyone has been/will be a GM at some point, so I think it could really be fun to put together a workshop once a year, every 6 months or whatever and try out new strategies/ways to play to shake things up. One idea I want to try out is a scenario where we take turns GMing a single session; shifting control of the bad guys and NPCs. But the bad guy has a stated objective "I'm going to destroy this city with my hoard of undead" and each GM works within that framework.

What do you think? Does the bible study model have something to offer to GMs learning the ropes?

Sandal Fury wrote:
Kalindlara wrote:
I have a Spirit Binder wizard villain planned, along with his familiar, a former paladin he bound as a familiar and eventually transformed into a quasit. So a Medium quasit with 6 Int, BAB equal to his wizard level and saves to match, and a glaive. That's some familiar.
How did you manage that?

Wizard. Villain. There's really not much more to explain.

Devilkiller wrote:

I'm not sure if there's anything in the RAW to prevent a Small PC or Tiny familiar from hopping on a Medium one and using the Mounted Combat feat to negate hits. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of DMs forbid or discouraged it though. On the other hand, if your familiar is an animal which could reasonably act as a mount for an appropriately sized rider I wouldn't expect any trouble there.

Since Fighters have a ton of feats it might not be completely unreasonable to pick up an animal companion with Animal Ally which both the PC and familiar could use as a mount. Of course that might be assuming you get a familiar which seems like it could reasonably ride another animal into combat. I think this would clearly work with a monkey and possibly work with a bird. A housecat who rides a tiger (or maybe dire wolf) into battle might be a little far out for most games though.

Haha, that's about what I expected from a tiny familiar mounting me. The rules don't forbid it... But might break all verisimilitude. I'll check with my GM if I try using this idea.

Sort of hoping that it'll be just me and my familiar, no additional mounts and animal companions, but I suppose it isn't a terrible idea. Still, that's a lot of bodies to control. Maybe if it was a 1 player campaign, haha.

So I'm considering something like a Fox, which has 9 Str and will get a +4 str increase from going Tiny to Medium, (No bonus going Small to Medium, +6 Str if going Diminutive to Medium) the additional +2 from Battle Form, and +1 (and increasing) from the Str bonus replacing the Int bonus.

Other options might be Compsognathus (8 str) King Crab (7 str) or perhaps something with flying (Seems like the strongest have 6 str?)

Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:

Where is the Mauler archtype for familiars?

Edit: also I think the Mount evolution is just a mechanical thing to make it very clear if you can or cannot ride your Eidolon as opposed to just being carried.

I always pictured it as a natural saddle forming out of the creatures body that was somehow perfectly formed to fit the summoners butt.


Hope you're right about the Mount thing. Not sure why mounted combat rules have always been so opaque to me. I'll have to take some time to do some reading this weekend.

Kalindlara wrote:
In non-mounted news, there's nothing stopping the mauler archetype from being applied to an Improved Familiar.

Sadly, Improved Familiar, per the feat, lose the ability to speak with animals of its kind, and thus cannot take the Mauler Archetype. I there are 3 archetypes improved familiars still qualify for, but there you have it. =/

That... sounds a little more awkward than first intended.

Anyway, I'm wanting to build an Eldritch Guardian fighter which comes with a familiar, and I'd like my familiar to take the Mauler Archetype. This means:

My familiar can switch between Tiny (Most Likely) and Medium sized whenever he wishes.


My familiar has every combat feat I have.

So I thought I'd play a Small character, hopefully with the possibility of him riding me and me riding him. However, I still don't have a firm grasp on mounted combat rules and what might matter to making this work properly. Other ideas:

Mounted Combat feats:
I can gain mounted combat feats to ride my familiar into battle! Also, my familiar happens to gain every mounted combat feat I take.

Feral Combat Training:
I thought it would be neat if I took Feral Combat Training and I gained a natural attack that matches my familiar (Bite or Claw?) then my familiar and I can both get Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Improved Critical... Oh and of course we could both use the same Combat Style Feats, using our natural attack in place of the unarmed strike.

Teamwork Feats:
Whether I fight side by side, or if I mount my familiar, there are some interesting combat teamwork feats we could share.

So, my questions:

1. Would something like Evolved Familiar (Mount) be worth getting? I never quite understood what that evolution does for you.

2. What allies would you beg to have on your side to enable this I mount/he mounts strategy? A wizard? An alchemist with infusions? I imagine there's some interesting polymorphing options out there.

3. If this were a gestalt campaign, what classes would complement this strategy?

4. Other thoughts on how to make this idea better?

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

Other horrible truths to find out: You were planning to become a Mystic Theurge, Arcane Trickster, or Eldritch Knight, and then this happened (see the new FAQ itself and this other thread).

Eeeeaaaaaurrrgghhh!! I'm. So. Startled.

*le sigh* Yeah, I spotted that last night and it made me sad. I had been scheming to try one of those, but it never came up. And now it's illegal. I suppose I don't play in pathfinder society or whatever, so I can do whatever homebrew I want. Still, playing by the rules when possible is preferable.

[half-sarcasm]How else are you going to brag about cool builds on these forums? Bragging about how much your GM loves you and gives you whatever you want isn't as shiny as bragging about your system mastery.[/half-sarcasm]

tonyz wrote:

The "kind old NPC who uses you to become a lich" is something I tried in one campaign, but for some reason the players never completed the final step of opening the box he had given them "for an emergency" -- it contained an intelligent darkskull that would have been throwing enervation beams around like nobody's business and turning everyone in the PCs' village into wights, absorbing enough life energy to power the transformation.

Feel free to adopt the idea as needed. ;)

I'm really enjoying the possibilities for this idea; I think he'll make his debut in the very 1st session, giving the PCs free potions. He'll later be captured by the organization and then rescued by the PCs. (among several other captured NPCs)

Did the organization capture this kind old cleric because he was a citizen of Storybrooke? Or was it because they knew he was aiming to become a lich, among other things? That in and of itself could add an interesting layer to the true nature of the organization.

After the cleric is rescued, he will be an NPC in the kingdom the PCs are building. Then I can execute the subplot where he attempts to recruit the PCs to get the pieces he needs to complete his phylactery.

At least this is how I imagine this all playing out. Seems fun!

tonyz wrote:
As far as this particular thread goes, the first idea that comes to mind is that one or more of the supporting NPC cast is actually an agent for the Organization. The PCs are being nurtured by the secret police to identify rebels for ... disposal.

I'm definitely considering multiple ways the organization may have infiltrated "the supporting NPC cast." Heck, they've potentially infiltrated the PC cast with the human Swashbuckler. (Although I believe she will switch allegiances) But other seemingly average citizens of Storybrooke and Almas may be secret agents of the organization.

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Tacticslion wrote:

"You expect common magic items to be readily available, but the GM secretly only gives out (minorly) cursed items (or other items with drawbacks that could influence your abilities) while putting you against supposedly appropriate CR'd encounters."

That would be pretty horrifying!

(And not what you're looking for. Still thinking...)

I have been tossing around the idea of using artifacts, cursed items, intelligent items, items that grow more powerful as the wielder gains levels. But these will be related to various subplots and probably won't show up in the typical crafting of a Belt of Str +2 or whatever.

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Zourin wrote:

Double post, but this one is VERY involved and may be a bit of reading.

It also shouldn't be put anywhere near a paladin, or anyone who is sensitive to piles of F-bombs. Be prepared for one hell of an NPC.

Bertrand the Smith

** spoiler omitted **...

That's a pretty sweet story; the sword of a revenant blacksmith. With a few adjustments, I think that could be a nice subplot for the kingdom building arc of my campaign.

Zourin wrote:

A few stories I've used in my homebrew that, to this day, have yet to be resolved by any group :(

A player character is a noble that lost their family and possessions during a recent war, and what remains of the estate is being claimed by some other noble, leaving the character destitute save for their starting gear. The 'other noble' turns out to be not only a vampire, but also the players' great grandfather, and only finds this out while sent on a vampire hunt by a third party. Needless to say, offers are made when the vampire discovers this, and the question of what the player is willing to do to regain what was lost is presented.

An infamous villain is wanted not only by law enforcement, but is being hunted by his former guild. One of the player-characters is secretly given a backstory element and connections as an informant for that guild, and there's a lot of money on the line for tip-offs. The party is fed leads while following other adventures, while the informant likely passes information off to the guild. The party meets confrontation at some points, or are beaten to the punch in others (whether tipoffs are made or not). The end result is a three-way confrontation, with options along the way for a shift between the 'official manhunt' to the 'underworld manhunt'.

The leader of a thieves guilds' daughter has gone missing years ago, along with a valuable possession, after eloping (and invariably evading pursuit). The party is later tipped off to the trail of the husband, who has recently resurfaced alone. The daughter winds up imprisoned somewhere with the valuable.. which happens to be a powerful relic very much desired by church and kingdom. The question is: whose favor does the party curry by returning the artifact, should they succeed in retrieving it? That, and whose ire is gained when she doesn't want to go back to her family?

A powerful necromancer has become obsessed with meddling with bloodlines, seeking to combine the hereditary traits of naturally opposing Outsiders to...

Story 1: Interesting squabble among nobles; the concept could be applied in a variety of ways. Some villain who's taken something the PC considers their birthright.

Story 2: A double-agent of sorts, although the PC might not actively be against the party, it's just that the guild trumps the party then. Could lead to some interesting situations, and might be applicable to my Swashbuckler who begins the campaign with instructions from the organization.

Story 3: I very much like this concept, where there's a quest, but there's more than one party willing to pay a hefty sum for the valuable artifact. Could be a decision with lasting consequences. Considering I'm playing running a kingdom building campaign, something like this could make or break alliances with nearby cities in the struggle against the organization.

Story 4: Might be something horrible I could do to my Aasimar Bard. ...but not too sure I want to go that route. Still, fascinating plot.

Broadhand wrote:

No apologies necessary on the lame reference. Allow me to clarify!

** spoiler omitted **

Make sense?

Interesting... So under this scenario the organization itself is split. If I used this idea, the internecine conflict could have resolved itself 15 years ago. Or it could still play a factor in how the organization functions today.

Broadhand wrote:
The Chort wrote:

Wow, horrifying in spades. If you were my GM, I'm not sure how long it would take for me to trust your NPCs again.

Although not exactly the horrifying I'm looking for in my campaign; mostly just good secrets. Neat story, though.

That was precisely my point in doing so. The whole theme of the campaign became "don't trust what you think you know." I mostly messed with the meta-knowledge (i.e., what races looked like, how they functioned, etc., so that the DFL/Ranger wouldn't immediately, for instance, use fire/acid on that troll over there without any reason why he would know that), but it ended up being a good tool to get the party to think exceptionally critically before they took any actions, because EVERYTHING they did had consequences.

That's really cool; I like stretching my players and force them to get outside their usual habits.


Oh, and I don't know if something like this has already been pitched, but:

** spoiler omitted **...

Option 1: Horrifying.

Option 2: Tragic unintended consequences.
Option 3: Less tragic unintended consequences, because we're less sympathetic to this petty noble.
Option 4: Not sure I understand what you're getting at? Like... in Naruto where there original members of Akatsuki; Nagato and Konan, still consider themselves the head of the organization, but in reality are pawns being used by Madara. (Sorry if this reference was lame?)

Some interesting options; 1 & 3 I don't see especially fitting in my current campaign. I feel like I could use a variation of 2. And I'm withholding judgment on 4 until I understand your point!

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ElterAgo wrote:

When you read a novel that uses this premise. The author's foreshadowing starts letting the reader know something is up (if maybe not quite exactly what) long before the character in the novel catches on.

If the author doesn't foreshadow it at all, then it is just an abrupt left turn in the plot for no obvious reason. Most people don't like that.

You have to remember, in an RPG game the player is both the character and the reader. So it never seems to work out quite as well as the GM hopes.

Not saying don't try it. Just don't get you hopes set on the 'horrifying revelation' reaction.

Nah, I'm not super caught up on a "horrifying revelation" reaction. I'm just trying to sow secrets into the world so it has the feel of an actual, intentional story and not just a sandbox of "Well, run in a direction and I'll throw some random monsters from a table at you."

So yes, I'm attempting to foreshadow some of these secret by creating them right now; months before the first session of my campaign. Then toss hints at them at the existence of these secrets as the story progresses. If someone has an over the top reaction to the big reveal, awesome! If it's just a subtle acknowledgement of good story, that also makes me quite happy.

EDIT: You make a great point about the player being both character and reader, which makes it a challenge to unilaterally create secrets and expect the execution and unveiling of the secret to invoke the exact response you had in mind. It's shared storytelling after all. I'll keep that in mind and temper my expectations. Perhaps it'll be best to create several secrets, but only reveal the ones that fit best with how the story is shaping up with the decisions the PCs make.

Insain Dragoon wrote:

Kind old ex-adventurer Cleric who sells you scrolls at a discount sends you on several quest errands to get random cool stuff. Tells you that when he retired he had an excess of gold, but wanted items he could point at while telling stories to the local children. All the items you're collecting for him are from dungeons, castles, and mountains he adventured in.

Turns out he was much higher level than you expected and all those items were necessary for his ascension to Lichdom.


I can't take credit for this since I first heard the idea from Tonyz if I remember correctly.

Nice! That seems like a perfect little subplot to play out during the kingdom building part of my campaign.

Send my regards to Tonyz and thank for sharing/stealing his idea. =)

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Tacticslion wrote:

Pffft~! Change "work hard" for "have insomnia (and also have to stay awake to care for an infant)" and you've got a correct vision of what's going on. Mostly if I think of stuff I do so with some sort of inspiration.


Carefully consider the impact that something like a reincarnation spell might have on your game, if such a thing is present in it. Because they are outsiders, you might want to make a custom list for your aasimar, for example. This can make all sorts of strange and complicated plots even more strange and complicated! Delightful! ... but potentially ruinous!

And don't feel obligate with any of this. It's just a fun thing. :D

Haha, you really enjoy messing with the mechanical choices players made at character creation.

This idea is actually somewhat tempting for my 2nd Aasimar, the bard who doesn't have much of a story so far. My 1st Aasimar, the child of dead nobles Summoner/Paladin/Oracle seems to have enough action in his backstory, so trying to shift gears to add interesting history for other members in the party.


Gah, I keep on forgetting that this thread is not THIS THREAD, so the same things aren't known.

Relevant Excerpt:


Step 2: Have players work on their backstory together:

This worked out better than I anticipated:
The group is largely LG or CG.
The Witch and Druid are brother and sister.
The Synthesist is an acquaintance of the Bard.
The Synthesist was a noble of the starting city, Almas, before his parents were killed 15 years ago.
The parents of the Witch and Druid used to live in Almas 15 years ago.
The Swashbuckler is the child of one of the leaders of the evil organization that took control of Almas 15 years ago.

Aasimar Synthesist, child of "dead nobles", we're having a field day with his backstory currently.

Aasimar Bard, child of an elven druid who runs a natural reserve of sorts, protecting dinosaurs of a region. She may be full elf or half-elf assimar, the father is missing. I don't think even the Bard knows which she is.

The Human Witch and Human Druid were raised in a forest not too far from Almas. They frequent a nearby town called, tentatively, Storybrooke. (Per the Druid's backstory, considering renaming for verisimilitude, but it has its charm) I believe the story will begin close to Storybrooke, where the population is majority people who fled Almas.

The Human Swashbuckler is the child of a member of the organization. (3 years old when the takeover happened, 18 years old now) She is not very deep in service to the organization and has lead a more normal life than not. Tentatively, I have her on her a mission to Storybrooke where she is to investigate the small town to gauge it's potential as a threat to the organizations intentions (whatever those might be) The Swashbuckler will come to Storybrooke, fall in love with an admirable NPC human Ranger and meet the rest of the party as they come to Storybrooke. A major event will cause the Swashbuckler to reconsider her loyalty to the organization and switch sides to the PCs.

Hope that helps clear things up!

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Broadhand wrote:

I started a game once with an assassin and a cleric of a murderous deity in the party mix as NPCs.


Long and short: DFL realizes he ate human meat while a girl was tortured to death.

... That kind of horrifying truth?

Wow, horrifying in spades. If you were my GM, I'm not sure how long it would take for me to trust your NPCs again.

Although not exactly the horrifying I'm looking for in my campaign; mostly just good secrets. Neat story, though.

Tacticslion wrote:
The Chort wrote:
...maybe I just don't like global secrets? I seem to have a strong penchant for personal secrets in this thread so far. =/
Okay, that helps guide the brainstorming in the future! I'll have to think more to see if I generate anything. :D

I feel like a punk after seeing you work that hard. O_o

Third Mind wrote:

Lets see.

1) - The organization is lead, unknowingly, by a brilliant corrupting force that hasn't set foot in the world for ages (or perhaps they've been in the plane for a long time. Lich, wizard, witch, etc...). Their true intention in taking over the city was to spread the Curse of Tainted Blood. A vile, ritualistic spell fashioned by the organizations leader that permanently contaminates all those its directed at. It cannot be removed through normal spells and healing. What the curse does isn't immediately obvious, but later, the players find out that the curse turns people into a sort of life guard for leader. As long as the cursed live, the leader cannot die. Therefore, in order to defeat the leader, someone hell bent on destroying those who dared to enter their city, they must either destroy all accursed, innocent or no, or find some other way to lift the curse before their war with the leader.

2 ) - The organization has been burrowing secretly underneath each of the homes of the city. At first its as if they expect to find something, however, the tunnels that are dug are done so quite neatly and almost too perfectly. A map of the the tunnels will reveal that they actually create intricate 3 dimensional, interwoven summoning symbols. What are they planning on summoning? They intend to enslave angels as bargaining chips for darker means.

3 ) - The PCs parent's death was actually a convincing illusion spell. That parent was actually knocked unconscious, whisked away in the night by order of the other parent. The reason this was done, was that the organization demanded the death of a loved one in order to enter their upper ranks. So, in attempt to join the enemy so that they could destroy it from the inside, they went through with the plan. The other parent is actually locked or hidden away in another town. The organization itself plans to attempt to open a large portal to the shadow plane, allowing their masters entry into our world.

Probably too convoluted or complicated. Maybe even too dark...

These are actually quite helpful. I think my #1 priority for my campaign right now is identifying the goals/capabilities/members of this organization. Oh and of course the BIG SECRET of the organization, all to ensure they're a memorable foe.

Tacticslion wrote:
The Chort wrote:

WOW, that's a lot ideas. Many are a little too oddball conspiratorial, but one secret along those lines could be really earth-shattering to discover, and yet not completely break... Verisimilitude? I do especially like your first idea about the true nature of the summoner's eidolon. He imagines that the eidolon is some blessing of Iomedae, but in reality... A laundry list of potentially horrifying revelations.

Thanks for contributing.

One thing I want to be clear on: I don't and never did expect you to use all of the ideas (although some of them work well when integrated together), but rather they were a list of brainstormed things while looking at lists of classes, races, and monsters.

The main reason I created so many ideas was so that you could adapt them to function with most any class or race. For example, the dwarven and elven elements are there for people of those races - turning their entire racial presumptions on their heads.

I created them with full expectation that, if you did take anything, you'd take and alter it heavily, tailoring it for your specific campaign.

Number 11 could be used to create surprising familial connections to a villain that looks very different from any of the PCs, as another example; while number 14 could be the basis for an adventure seed (perhaps it's a new kind of undead, or a undead created in a specific way, or something). Number 6 is just a slightly reskinned (and more poorly explained) version of number 1 and number 11.

With your original idea, numbers 4, 5, 7, 14, and 15 all work fairly well for "actionizing" various goals of the organization for various reasons, similar to Mark Hoover's suggestions (and perhaps they're even correct for whatever reason).

Effectively, these are meant to be starters or seeds, not the sum of the idea itself. That said, I'm glad you like the first idea!

Our party consists of 3 humans and 2 aasimar currently, and is just an overly human story thus far. Feels like it takes out some of the punch of those kinds of secrets. Although number 11 could be an interesting idea.

You do make a good point out 4, 5, 7, 14 and 15. Although I feel one of my selling points was that magic was absolutely unconstrained. (The other GMs in our group constantly restrict magic, banning teleportation, divination, and other things.) Number 14 fares the best in that regard; a horrifying revelation that has global consequences, but can be turned around. I just don't want to run an undead campaign.

...maybe I just don't like global secrets? I seem to have a strong penchant for personal secrets in this thread so far. =/

Peachbottom wrote:
The entire campaign is taking place in the players' dreams while they are thralls to an elder brain. Even if they break free of their thralldom, they'll find themselves horribly atrophied and trapped deep in the Underdark surrounded by psionic aberrations that can't even exist in Golarion.
Goddity wrote:

They are not the ones chosen by destiny. They are not going to do anything significant. They are the second last chance to save the world and as such will pave the way for the real heroes. No more, No less.

Or even better. It is all the beta test of a fully immersive VR game. They had had their minds wiped. They only know because someone came back in time to stop them because the game evolves into an intelligence which went back in time and is actually the entire royalty who are robots, and it will rule the world, because it made itself, and you can tell I have been watching way too many weird movies.

Not really into a matrix idea or whatever; I like the idea that there's this world that exists where you can build kingdoms and accomplish things, a place where I as GM hold dominion... Gets too confusing and improbable to roleplay when reality is a complete fabrication.

Although, Goddity, I do admire the idea of the PCs NOT being the chosen ones. Maybe the organization in Almas are the chosen ones! Well, sadly, I feel the structure of my story lends itself to the heroes being, well, the heroes.

Tacticslion wrote:
The Chort wrote:
revaar wrote:

Some ideas:

The leader of the Organization is actually one of the "Slain" Nobles. Aka: the PC's are actually siblings.

The King of Almas actually surrendered to the organization in exchange for the lives of the nobles he liked. PC's parents not included.

The Kingdom of Almas was founded on a nexus of Infernal Energies, which the king had been using to keep his nobles in line. The Organization was founded by a splinter cell of nobles who are trying to reverse the polarity of the nexus.

Digging these ideas; perhaps "horrifying" was poor adjective for my thread; I'm looking more for... jaw-dropping. "This changes everything." Revealing that someone you've been traveling with for months is your brother or even half-brother is a pretty big freakin' deal.

Realizing the king you trusted betrayed the city is another good twist, depending on how you play it. Like... The organization intends to take over the kingdom and the king did absolutely nothing to protect his people and did everything to protect himself. Could add a certain legitimacy to the organization.

So either a {"Luke, I am your father"} or (from George Lucas In Love) a {"Mom?! ... Moooommm...?" >.> <.< "Oh... hi... kids...!"} are totally acceptable?


** spoiler omitted **...

WOW, that's a lot ideas. Many are a little too oddball conspiratorial, but one secret along those lines could be really earth-shattering to discover, and yet not completely break... Verisimilitude? I do especially like your first idea about the true nature of the summoner's eidolon. He imagines that the eidolon is some blessing of Iomedae, but in reality... A laundry list of potentially horrifying revelations.

Thanks for contributing.

Mark Hoover wrote:

What is the organization? Are they still around? If so do they still control all of Almas?

Try this on for size:

** spoiler omitted **

So the idea would be that the "evil organization" isn't evil, just misguided. They have a rough way of doing business but the business they're in is saving lives, or so they believe. They're "ends justify the means" types.

You don't have to take my spoiler either as their reason. They could be looking to stop war by chemically lobotomizing whole regions (Firefly) or looking to bring law and order to a decadent republic (Star Wars). They have evil, corrupt beings in their ranks but the organization itself has or had noble ambitions.

Some good ideas here; "ends justify the means" is a way a lot of evil is accomplished by supposedly well-meaning people and would easily be applicable to the organization. And also like the thoughts on Firefly and Star Wars plots; plenty of great material out there for killing people with your brand of kindness.


As for personal revelations:

A PC's parent returns from the dead. This could be accomplished by retconning their death and saying they faked it; resurrection for a specific purpose; undeath inflicted by either the villain or their own need for vengeance.

A member of the organization feigns friendship only to turn on the PCs at the zero hour.

So many ways to surprise; are they really dead? Are they really your friend? I'll have to throw in a good mix of NPCs, most trustworthy (so they don't get too paranoid) and a few not so trustworthy.

The PCs' noble family was actually the progenitor of the organization in the first place.

Really strongly considering this one! =)

revaar wrote:

Some ideas:

The leader of the Organization is actually one of the "Slain" Nobles. Aka: the PC's are actually siblings.

The King of Almas actually surrendered to the organization in exchange for the lives of the nobles he liked. PC's parents not included.

The Kingdom of Almas was founded on a nexus of Infernal Energies, which the king had been using to keep his nobles in line. The Organization was founded by a splinter cell of nobles who are trying to reverse the polarity of the nexus.

Digging these ideas; perhaps "horrifying" was poor adjective for my thread; I'm looking more for... jaw-dropping. "This changes everything." Revealing that someone you've been traveling with for months is your brother or even half-brother is a pretty big freakin' deal.

Realizing the king you trusted betrayed the city is another good twist, depending on how you play it. Like... The organization intends to take over the kingdom and the king did absolutely nothing to protect his people and did everything to protect himself. Could add a certain legitimacy to the organization.

Hey all; I'm putting together a kingdom building sandbox campaign, and I'd like to incorporate something I've yet to try: Some horrifying truth. Something to add tension and make the campaign feel legendary. (GMs like to dream)

Since the campaign hasn't even begun yet, I thought now would be a good time to build a few secrets into the world that I can hint at that the PCs will eventually discover.

Some agreed reality in the current campaign:

The organization invaded and seized control of Almas 15 years ago.

One of the PC's parents, nobles of Almas, was killed 15 years ago in the takeover.

One of the PCs is the child of one of the leaders of the organization, but ends up siding with the party. She's currently 18 years old, or 3 at the time of the takeover.

So the way the story plays out is the PCs will encounter the organization, suffer loss, rescue some citizens of Almas before retreating, and begin a new kingdom. (The end of the railroad arc, before the story switches to full sandbox) The organization will continue to threaten your new kingdom until defeated. Then other enemies will be waiting for you in the world.

So what to do? I'd like to incorporate some horrible secret, but not sure what would be interesting. Something relating to the organization would be nice.

Potential Secrets:
A PC's parents died 15 years ago by some invading outside force? Perhaps not all were outsiders. How about his father was actually a member of "the organization"; killed his wife, but for some reason, not his son and joined forces to take over the city. Why? Well, some horrifying secret.

Maybe some mind control drama.

Maybe the organization isn't pure evil; maybe in some way, they're attempting to save the world.

Or there could be some other secret, less directly related to the organization, although the organization might hint at the existence of this secret.

...and that's where I'm at with ideas.

So has anyone had success with a good secret in their campaign? Any thoughts on what I could do in mine?

Kolokotroni wrote:
pennywit wrote:
I would encourage you to either use the downtime rules (with capital) or use the kingdom-building rules, rather than both. They're both pretty paperwork-intensive, and they address two different things. I'm running a Kingmaker campaign right now (with mythic). We're already doing the Kingdom-building rules, and my players showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the downtime rules.

My take on this is to leave it open for players to use if they want to. If you are building a kingdom obviously the kingdom building rules are a must, but just offer the downtime rules if someone wants to take on a personal project. There are also ways for things to interact, for instance many of the kingdom buildings are listed in the downtime rules, so rather then having to start from scratch its possible for a player to be granted a building as part of his or her office, like a garrison for the general, or a noble villa for the ruler.

I found that the capital rules are someone appropriate, since for instance, a word from the kingdom's general ought to carry more weight then the character themselves might have the skills for. Capital spent on checks accrued from control of the city garrison might make alot of sense there.

Either way, I think kingdom building is a great way to handle a sandbox campaign. If gives the players a foundation to build on, and it gives the gm obvious hooks that arent particularly railroady. I found some of my groups best roleplaying happened in our kingmaker game, because it gave us something to work with that we all shared.

I would suggest if they do found a kingdom to have them spend a bit of time both in and out of character working out the social structure and the laws they are implementing. My group drafted a rather lengthy constitution, and aside from the rp fun of arguing it in the council meetings, it also gave us a foundation on which to interact with the npcs. We had a defined place in society with rules that were important to us (since we as players created them), and it made things far more interesting dealing with the various challenges of the story.

pennywit, thanks for drawing attention to the differences between downtime and kingdom building, I was sort of fusing them together when they really are separate systems. Related systems, but different. However, I am still willing to try both.

Kolokotroni, good point; rule of fun! I'll try to find out what systems my players enjoy and go with those. (I am throwing a lot at them; Downtime, Kingdom Building, Mythic, Exploration, and potentially more; Magic Schools was even a possibility)

...and the thought of my players in council meetings, deliberating over the constitution of their new town... It just puts a smile on my face. I hope our kingdom building will be as much fun as yours sounds!

Mark Hoover wrote:

Find out how into it your players are. Not just helping by making NPCs or whatever, but drawing maps, immersion, that kind of thing. I planned out a sandbox campaign, told my players and they were excited. Then we started playing and I got "deer in the headlights" from most. The reason is because they liked the idea of it, but they didn't want to be on the spot for moving the campaign along.

I guess my advice would be have an idea of where you want the campaign to go. One way to do a sandbox is the Western March type where you hand the PCs a hex map and say "go." I did that with mine since I was going to have a rotating mix of players but after the players got fixed and they wanted more plot, suddenly my campaign didn't make sense to anyone.

So the other way to do sandbox is the one I recommend to most folks. Its more like a shotgun start than a sandbox. Here's an example:

1. PCs are in a wilderness town; there's lots of independent farmsteads and tiny settlements out there, but this is the last bit of real "civilization" for miles.

2. The town is attacked by an adult red dragon (CR 14). The PCs aren't up to goting toe-to-toe with the wyrm, but it's attack has trapped folks in burning buildings. The first adventure is spent helping the town by rescuing people.

3. In the aftermath of the battle its learned that kobolds have infiltrated the town in service to the Red Queen. What's worse, the attack has set off a chain reaction in the wilds. Ancient sites boil with eldritch power, vicious monsters have come crawling up out of the earth and villains far and wide are answering the dragon's siren song.

So now the campaign has an identifiable point: stop the dragon, but there's no set way to get it done. The PCs don't have the power or intel to march up to Mount Blastfurnace and murder the Red Queen so they use the campaign to get the resources they need.

Last but certainly not least: random tables. Make TONS of them. Buy books full of them. Know what monsters are coming, what treasure they...

It seems like I'm going for option 2; they run into the organization which they initially don't have the power to defeat. (My campaign's first "Red Queen") The organization will be a constant threat to their very existence until they finally overcome them.

I might include some exploration as well, but I don't think the world is especially "uncharted." Some of the backstory of my players include locations far away from Almas. I'll give that some thought.

Browman wrote:
Having some kind of "base" that the players operate out of can be good. Players will care more about what happens to that location as they feel like they know people. It will be more personal if Bayan the local priest has been missing for two days after going east to visit a nearby farm if the players had a meal in the tavern with him before leaving the village a week ago.
Malag wrote:

Just gonna add additional comment on what Browman said,

There is some huge benefit as a GM in a sandbox campaign in having a "base of operations" for PCs. It essentially gives your PCs regular advantages, like sleeping quarters, dinner, familiar faces and among other things, it will keep them in this area at least for several levels until they become powerful enough to face the rest of the world. As a GM, this gives you an actual area for which you can plan quests and encounters rather then traveling around the globe which would stretch the limits of your imagination.

This is one of many reasons I chose to structure my campaign this way; a perfect place to get my players invested in the goings on of this world; a perfect place for events and potential plot hooks to resolve issues that affect their home.

And not just plot hooks for the random quests of the world, but things that tie the overarching narrative, the true plot that's will be hidden for quite some time.

Malag wrote:
- I recommend having NPC Codex on hand and get familiar with it. With that book, you will have stated NPC ready on the spot and if a feat or something isn't quite right for you, just switch it temporarily. It's not the best for "boss encounters" and similar peaks of campaign, but when you need something fast, it's good to have it. Similar can be said for Pathfinder Beastiaries.

Thanks so much for the reminder; the NPC Codex is even on the PRD.

Malag wrote:
- A thought which gave a lot to think is - make good, friendly and helpful NPCs. World which only poses a threat to their life isn't a real or fantasy world. PCs should meet all manner of things and sometimes, NPCs might choose to join them. Don't be afraid to lead NPCs as temporary addition to their group. Perhaps even the quest resolves around protecting the NPC from all the threats. In short, NPCs aren't just a cannon fodder. Make them useful to PCs.

This wasn't exactly a goal when I first thought of making a sandbox campaign, but more and more does this statement ring true. NPCs have been useless/villians in disguise in our other campaigns, but I want to especially lean on NPCs in this campaign. And try to get them emotionally involved with them. And tragically kill a valiant NPC for the sake of the story. *sigh*

Malag wrote:
- Even a sandbox needs a story arc. Don't plan it completely though. Just add pieces of information here and there. They might seem unconnected at first, but when bigger picture unfolds, PCs might get a moment of insight and horror/happiness when they realize it. The story however needs to be all around them. This is hard to pull honestly. I personally planned to give PCs in my next campaign several super-powers which they develop over time but these super-powers are exactly why some specific organizations and other people are searching for them hence pulling entire story towards them.

I can't tell you how much I want to make this a reality. The slow reveal of the conspiracy against them. Or whatever. My story isn't even put together fully, so I hope I come up with something good, and execute it masterfully. One can dream!

Malag wrote:
- Make the fights unique and interesting. The terrain and fights should be interesting, but what I considered recently is additional part of fight which I tend to call the catch. Each fight that you make, has to have a catch in it (well not every fight). Example would be a villain threatening to kill NPC. Catch would be to rescue him unharmed. Another example would be a regular fight with several zombies but a catch would be that they are in a poisonous mist. I think that you get what I mean by this. There is so many conditions out there to make fights more interesting then mere fight and defeat tactic.

I'm digging "the catch" concept. There has been no "catch" in one campaign, a few in another and some in my last campaign, just because the AP provided them. It really is a smart idea to keep combat fresh.

Browman wrote:

Sometimes it is better to give the illusion of choice then choice. If players haven't been somewhere before and you haven't told them anything about it, what direction they go doesn't matter. You had planned for that witch to be encountered on the eastern edge of the woods but they went the long way instead? The witch's house is now on the north-western edge with no one the wiser.

Also some times it is better to guess what stats an NPC will have than slow down the session to find them. The players will be non the wiser and you look brilliant for anticipating that they were going to attack this guy and stated him out.

Several directions or plot hooks leading to the same destination/event is definitely an efficient way to GM when improvising. I do hope that they will have some freedom at some stages though. Whether they'll investigate the haunted bog or wizard's tower or kobold mountain. I will have a small map with some details, and some things set, but in other ways I can make up the map as I go.

I also constantly go by gut when PCs attack something I don't have stats for.

Usually plays out like this:

Does a 26 hit? Yes. Does a 21 hit? No. (Note to self... AC 22.) Then faithfully keep the monster's AC as 22 for the whole fight.
And then guess approx how much HP, how much damage they might deal, what sort of spells they could have...

It's something that took several years before I got comfortable with it and the players rarely catch on to it. Perhaps that's in the wrong order; once you realize that the players can't tell the difference between you improvising vs faithfully reading a stat block, that's when you get comfortable with improvising.

rorek55 wrote:

I have come to this conclusion with my IRL group- Don't plan a damn thing, and yet, plan for everything.

make NPCs? sure, but be ready for them to be killed. (with consequences ready)The story takes them to ______ city? Don't expect to get there any time soon.

Know when to railroad- There are times that, even in IRL gaming where the players start to falter at what to do next, this is when you drop that plot hook character in that you have been hiding the entire time because anything he said would be heard then promptly ignored.

Throw true random encounters at your PCs, but be creative.

one time I had them ambushed by a group of cave trolls, (no one made a perception check of 20, 20! at level 7!) which ended in them getting captured. (note, not killed). They later awoke in cages, 2 to each, with all of their gear sitting in a corner. they managed to not only talk their way out of being dinner, but managed to gnab a few nifty magical items as well. They later returned to that area, whooped some giant but, and got the leader to serve them XD XD XD.

That's a similar conclusion I've come to with Step 7: Prepare to Improvise. Players will rarely let situations play out like you intended. So just roll with it and hopefully you have engaging NPCs and other encounters in your back pocket to keep things fun and interesting. But sometimes it will come down to pure improvising and stealthy google searches mid-session.

And cool story on the cave trolls. Some of the most memorable moments in a campaign are rarely planned; they just turn out that way with good GM/player storytelling chemistry.

Gregory Connolly wrote:

Don't be afraid to peruse the Bestairy in the middle of a session. Some of the most epic moments I have had as a GM happened that way. It is part of the tradeoff you make when running a sandbox. The players want to go over there and you have no idea what is over there so you stall with random encounters. They can take hours, give loot, challenge the players, and spur the creativity of both the GM and the players.

Think of it as an improv challenge. The party just fought two hill giants. Why? Are there more about? Do they live around here? Does anybody speak giant?

Then next session you have had time to come up with answers. You not only know what is over there but how it relates to those hill giants. The pace of the game is one of the most important tools for a sandbox GM. Fights grind the game to a halt when you are out of creative juice. But they are a lot more fun than ending early so the GM can think.

That is solid advice. I employed a similar tactic while running Rise of the Runelords. The players took a route I wasn't expecting into the dungeon and I moved some of the monsters they had missed into the dungeons. It bought me the time I needed to prepare an epic boss battle.

Joynt Jezebel wrote:

I suggest you reconsider.

Most Pathfinder campaigns take place in locations that are more in tune with the source material. Dungeons, Ruined Cities, Necropoli, Eivl Overlords Dungeons and so on.

And the PCs are heroes, or villains, larger than life.

A Sandbox does not seem an appropriate setting, although one populated by young giants or dragons could perhaps serve. And presumably the PCs will be infants, perhaps toddlers. Hardly persons who are going to change the world in the short term.

The only positive aspect to the idea is that we are all familiar with PCs who act like toddlers. But this is hardly enough to proceed.

Ahahahaha. Hahahahaha. Oh. My. Goodness. It took me a while to even comprehend your post, but when I found out you took issue that the setting of my campaign was a literal sandbox, I lost it.

Hahahahaha, whew. Anyway, rest assured, I should have a good fantasy setting that I'll be building together with help from my players.

Well, before I let this thread sink into the icy depths, I'd just like to say that I am unbelievably stoked about this campaign and the reaction of my players thus far. Sometimes when you get a "brilliant" idea in isolation, it doesn't always receive the warmest reception when shared. But my players are excited and I have several months before the first session even begins, so I'll do what I can to provide an engaging world and opportunities for great stories.

Hope you all are having great adventures with company you enjoy,

The Chort

Oh, two things I forgot to mention; Time and Downtime.

Time - There will be a calendar. Not sure if I'll go with 365 days or something simplified like 112 days partitioned into 4 months of 28 days. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

Downtime – There will be opportunities for downtime; I’m torn on this, but I believe this will be best executed by the party agreeing on allocating a certain amount of time on the calendar and managing all the details via facebook messages between campaigns. Then I will choose to either pick up the campaign at the other end of the downtime OR as a flashback/interruption of the declared downtime.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Since I'm wrapping up Rise of the Runelords, I decided to start planning my next campaign. Our group always has three separate campaigns running and I am one of the 3 GMs currently in the rotation. One feature common to all of our campaigns is that the plot is always railroaded upon the PCs.

So I think it's time for a sandbox campaign. I've tried this once before, albeit with minimal preparation and no GMing experience, (4-5 years ago) and failed utterly to create a compelling story. Someone else's sandbox campaign was career-ending. The group lost interest and forced him to retire it and he hasn't GM'd since. (Still plays, though)

So, if possible, I want to do it right. Here are steps I've taken to prevent disaster.

Step 1: Put players to work:
This has been amazingly effective. As a condition of joining this campaign, you must provide a backstory, an NPC for the world, and a location. If you provide additional NPCs and locations, I am more willing to indulge certain things for your character that I'd ordinarily disallow. (Exotic races, OP feats/archetypes, 3rd party/homebrew things, etc.)

Step 2: Have players work on their backstory together:

This worked out better than I anticipated:

The group is largely LG or CG.
The Witch and Druid are brother and sister.
The Synthesist is an acquaintance of the Bard.
The Synthesist was a noble of the starting city, Almas, before his parents were killed 15 years ago.
The parents of the Witch and Druid used to live in Almas 15 years ago.
The Swashbuckler is the child of one of the leaders of the evil organization that took control of Almas 15 years ago.

I can't tell you how much easier it makes my life that all of this happened.

Step 3: Railroad Anyway:
To get the adventurers up and running I decided to begin with a 6-ish session railroad story arc. This will set them up with the power and influence to strike out on their own and build a nation. Or do whatever else they want in the sandbox.

I just hope I can convince the party to care enough about this foundling nation who's existence is constantly threatened by an evil organization. Between their sense of justice I think they'll stick around to defeat the organization and continue to stick around simply because they're invested. (Running a town has benefits) Otherwise, this sandbox will be more difficult to control, but I'll find a way with open communication with the players.

Speaking of which...

Step 4: Open Communications:
Just stating a simple, but important point: Beyond the construction of the world and the PCs story, I want to talk to players between sessions to keep a pulse on the ambitions of the characters. And I can prepare additional material based on these ambitions, instead of preparing a dozen things and hoping they run into it some of it. (I'll likely have to do some of that anyway, but hopefully less so with communication)

Step 5: Go Big Or Go Home:
My two biggest pieces of homework is this: I have to read Mythic Adventures and Ultimate Campaign. Ultimate Campaign is the more intimidating of the two, and yet the most crucial. My sandbox is designed to encourage kingdom building.

Step 6: Recurring Villians:
My campaign has a large cast of villians and the first they'll run into during the railroad arc is the Black Organization (loosely stolen from Detective Conan) currently dominating Almas. The PCs will initially have some successful skirmishes with this organization, but ultimately, they are far to weak to defeat the upper echelon of this organization (Several level 10+) After witnessing the PCs win a battle against the organization, some NPCs will find the courage to pack up and escape the tyranny of Almas, and attempt to start a life away from this city. Which is where Ultimate Campaign and kingdom building will come in.

But the villains aren't done with them yet; Almas will consistently interfere and undermine this budding new kingdom. Beyond that, in my world there are fouler things than orc- er, the Black Organization in the deep places of the earth. Or many other places in the earth, really.

Step 7: Prepare To Improvise:
Sounds counterintuitive, but I need to prepare to improvise. This boils down to having a long list of potential neutral NPCs, evil NPCs, monsters, traps and so forth to toss into the world wherever/whenever appropriate. (Hopefully, with a liberal application of Step 1, a good chunk of preparation has been done for me.) You don't want to peruse the bestiary or anything else in the middle of a session.

So my question to the Pathfinder community:

What cautions/advice would you give to someone starting a sandbox campaign?

As for spells, I'm thinking cure spells, Mage Armor, Ray of Enfeeblement, Enlarge Person, Mirror Image, maybe even other blast spells for type coverage like Magic Missile or Scorching Ray (doesn't require high Int to function well) Perhaps Summon Monster spells later.

I'd be surprised if this character made it to level 6, but you never know. It'd be interesting to try to make it into high levels with this "suboptimal" character.

Hmm wrote:

Color me intrigued. Where are you going with this? What spells are you planning? Are you just going to be focusing on the blast exploits? I agree that both acid jet and ice missile would work with those stats. What is the top level to which you are taking your character? I assume that you will be a mostly buffs and wands mage, since your DCs will be pretty low....


Yes, the major feature of this build is the power of the blast exploits, Charisma boosting both the damage and the DC of the debuff. But other exploits are made more powerful, like Arcane Barrier. With the high Charisma and extra spell slots to fund it, it can be an impressive defensive skill.

The Charisma might also be nice for School Understanding. Become a Necromancer! Pick Ice Missiles as your blast exploit and then when you run into the cold immune undead, switch to commanding them. =)

So my local game store has a Pathfinder group that's running some low level adventures (currently level 2) and I thought I'd bring an interesting character to the table; most people suggest a high Int, moderate to low Cha build but I thought it'd be fun to invert this. Here's what I have in mind:

Eldritch Font/ Unlettered Arcanist Halfling

15 point buy:

Str 5 (7 - 2)
Dex 14 (12 + 2)
Con 12
Int 12
Wis 7
Cha 20 (18 + 2)

Eldritch Font and Unlettered are normally weak archetypes, but when you've opted out of a high intelligence build and focusing on your Arcanist exploits, it's sort of nice. Basically a free familiar and more spell slots to convert into arcane points.

Halfling is nice because it boosts Charisma and Dex, the stats I need to make the most of Acid Jet / Ice Missile. Also, I'm small so that's another bonus to attack rolls (and AC)

So what do you think of the build? Should be okay for a low level campaign?

Under A Bleeding Sun wrote:
I will completely skip them on my arcanist, I see little to no use for them.

If you're an Occultist Arcanist? Sure, it can be skipped easily enough. But if you're not an Occultist, it really pays to be able to spend Arcane Points instead of your spells to contribute to combat. You have far fewer spells per day than a Wizard or Sorcerer.

Spell slots level 5:

(Presuming 20 as casting stat)

6 1st level
4 2nd level
3 3rd level

8 1st level
5 2nd level

6 1st level
4 2nd level

So 13 spells each to your 10.

Your spell diversity in combat is also inferior to the Sorcerer, generally.

Spells prepared/spells known at level 5:

4 1st level prepared
2 2nd level prepared

Human Sorcerer:
7 1st level known
3 2nd level known

So it really is a nice perk to be able to not have to prepare blast spells, nor waste any spells per day on blasts. Hell, it may not even be a terrible idea to eventually take a 2nd blasting exploit with Extra Exploit, just to get around elemental resistances. (Level 7 or later)

the secret fire wrote:

Potent Magic makes the Arcanist, by default, the best SoS caster in the game, bar none. Counterspelling makes him the best against the scariest bad guys in the game, other casters. If Dimensional Slide can be used to escape grappling, which may well be the case (we'll wait for an FAQ on that one), the Arcanist is second only to the Teleport School Conjurer in terms of defensive/tactical movement ability, and the gap between him and 3rd place is huge. And that's just for starters.

The "few things" the class does better are quite potent, indeed.

First off, I want to apologize to you for becoming rude and snippy. It was 3am, you offended some of my sensibilities and I went on a warpath. Sorry about that. >_<

When I heard you wanting to ban the Arcanist from your games, I took the position of a whiny player caterwauling to his GM about losing his favorite toy. As I mentioned in my OP, I can't wait to play the Arcanist. Having played many a Wizard and Sorcerer and having seen someone else play an Arcanist I understood the weaknesses of this shiny new class, but want to embrace it all the same, because, as you've well noticed, it has some cool abilities. Do I think the class and its abilities are powerful? Well, yes. Do I think its powerful in such a way that it diminishes fun for surrounding players? Not so much.

I just don't see the Arcanist as a problem class. I would love seeing it at my table. It gives me nowhere near as much grief as other things I've encountered: Magus nova one-shotting bosses. Fey Kitsune Sorcerer spamming confusion, making the whole party wait while the monsters very slowly and boringly kill themselves. Crane Style users, before that was nerfed. An Oracle of Life altogether removing the fear of taking damage. Druid clogging up the battlefield with Animal Companion, Summons, and Cohort (Might reconsider my policy on Leadership for my next campaign) and bringing combat to a crawl. There's just so much out there that makes me grimace as a GM, it's hard to see why you singled out the Arcanist as the enemy of fun.

If some particularly feature of the Arcanist is just too destabilizing, perhaps just nerf one particular exploit. I just hate to see the death of a cool class.

the secret fire wrote:
The Chort wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
Of course a lot of people prefer the Arcanist's casting system (not his spell progression) to the Wizard's; it is strictly better. Saying that you prefer the system is like saying you prefer ten dollars to five.
That's borderline delusional; you must be reading the rules of the Arcanist without bothering to look at the numbers on the tables OR watch how a player actually runs one.

At this point, I can only suggest that you read for content. I specifically said that his spell progression is not as good as a wizard's. We were talking about the casting system, which incorporates the best of both of the core arcane casting classes. The point I was making wasn't terribly complex.

The Arcanist's Quick Study is certainly a neat class feature, but honestly, a Wizard with Fast Study can accomplish much the same as an Arcanist. (Or a Wizard with an Arcane Bond. Or a Wizard with a few scrolls. Or...)

Fast Study is completely unusable in combat. If you have a full minute to look at your spellbook, you are not in any kind of combat that could be considered dangerous.

Bonded items and scrolls are both resource-intensive. They are not viable as default plans. You give up a familiar for the one (and get only one magic bullet per day), or gold for the other, and potentially lots of it if you plan on having a wide range of utility. Both of these are constraining factors on a wizard's ability to pull silver bullets out of his pocket. The Arcanist is not similarly constrained. Firing silver bullets can easily be his standard plan.

*apropos nothing, even if a 9th level Arcanist could cast the spell in the first place, which he cannot, why you would swap out for teleport and not feather fall in the above scenario is beyond me.*

... if you're wasting a Full Round Action and an Arcane Point in the middle of a combat to find a better spell... You're doing something wrong. As a full caster with metamagics and exploits at your disposal, and a reasonable diversity of spell preparation across your spell levels, you should have some kind of method to contribute to combat, although inefficient compared to "the best spell", that trumps wasting an entire turn. If you could Quick Study as a move action, I could understand outrage over such an ability. As it stands, it seems fine as one of the few things Arcanists can do better than other classes; out of combat versatility.

My theoretical 10th level Arcanist unrelated to your example can cast Teleport just fine.

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the secret fire wrote:
Of course a lot of people prefer the Arcanist's casting system (not his spell progression) to the Wizard's; it is strictly better. Saying that you prefer the system is like saying you prefer ten dollars to five.

That's borderline delusional; you must be reading the rules of the Arcanist without bothering to look at the numbers on the tables OR watch how a player actually runs one. The Arcanist's casting system isn't that great. In the heat of combat, (which is usually when a well timed spell matters most) the Arcanist is one of the least impressive casting classes. It has less versatility than a Sorcerer and fewer spells per day than any other full caster.

the secret fire wrote:
Solving the problem with the Arcanist took about as much thought as cooking a pot of coffee. The Wizard, on the other hand, actually had to do something clever with his resources, something that the players will remember much more than "ah, the Arcanist just spammed the spell we he always does."

The Arcanist's Quick Study is certainly a neat class feature, but honestly, a Wizard with Fast Study can accomplish much the same as an Arcanist. (Or a Wizard with an Arcane Bond. Or a Wizard with a few scrolls. Or...)

Quick Study is a sweet get out of jail free card, sort of like the Arcane Bond but perhaps usable a couple more times in a day. But remember, it often costs 2 arcane points per use. At level 10, for example, you prepared something like Wall of Stone or Icy Prison as your 5th level spell. (You only have one slot, remember.) Then you Quick Study to change to teleport. After you've teleported, you'll want to switch back to something you can use in combat. So 2 points, and you only have 3 + 1/2 your level in your pool each day. (8 points.) So then you'll have to start consuming spells just keep Quick Study usable. ...and you already have fewer spells per day than any other full caster.

Anyway, I say all that to say that although the Arcanist has a neat trick to pull out whatever spell he needs, it's not without a cost. It's also not that exceptional, when you consider scrolls and the Arcane Bond. And if you overuse Quick Study, you won't even make it through the 15 minute adventuring day, let alone a proper session.

It'll take a clever Arcanist to properly manage his resources, or he'll end up spending most of his day as a glorified commoner.

Gargs454 wrote:
Monk levels would (sorta) in that you would add your BAB from the two classes. The problem though is that MoMS gives up Flurry for Fuse Style. So in your scenario you'd only have 1 level in a class with Flurry.

I understood that that much would work, wasn't quite sure about getting the extra attacks.

Well, that's not completely terrible. You get Full BAB, get two-weapon fighting, BAB iterative attacks, you still get a Ki Pool to add an extra attack, maybe add in haste... A Warpriest 1/MoMS X wouldn't be completely gimped by this.

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