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Grand Necromancer

TimD's page

Goblin Squad Member. RPG Superstar 2013 Star Voter. Pathfinder Society Member. 559 posts (560 including aliases). 1 review. No lists. No wishlists. 25 Pathfinder Society characters. 1 alias.


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Good evening,

Please cancel both my maps subscription and my AP subscription.

Regards,

-TimD


Looks like she and Seoni shop at the same "sleeves without elbows and cool widget-sticks" store.

-TimD


1 person marked this as a favorite.

D'oh, you're right, I thought he was talking about Extracts.
Sorry, Scott!

-TimD


Scott Wilhelm wrote:
In game terms, from the user's perspective, there is no difference between an Elixir and a Potion. The only difference is in which feats are required to make it.

Um, no.

You may want to go back and reread Elixirs.
Unlike potions, most Elixirs can ONLY be used by the Alchemist, unless they are made into Infusions.
Both standard Elixirs & Infusions take up the Alchemists' slots until activated. That is a huge difference between a potion and an Elixir: a potion-guy can make any # of potions and won't care when they are used, an alchemist doesn't get his slots back until they are used, so if you find one as "treasure" that's an alchemist that has been permanently missing a slot.

-TimD


Don't forget the mundane necessities like guest quarters, kitchens, stables (especially for exotic creatures), maybe some sort of vet area for when familiars get into it, etc.

-TimD


1 person marked this as a favorite.

+1 to what DM Cal said about your awesome posts.

Not sure what it is you're trying to write, or if you're one of those people that tries to hammer everything out simultaneously.
So for the “shotgun method” of covering multiple things I find myself writing (table top RPG related, at least) –

For campaign designing: :

Personally, I write myself a lot of notes about design intent things for when I’m “outlining” campaigns and then try to go back in and fill in the little details when I’m inspired about those areas. (I’ve been doing a lot of orc stuff lately, inspired by some Shoanti & alchemical goodness that I’m going to steal for a nice schism in my FR campaign).
I then go back and try to pick 3 or 4 paths my PCs are likely to either be willing to stumble along or be somewhat dragged along (depending on how pro-active / reactive they’re feeling during that time) and pull some flavor and throw some encounters together along with some NPCs and “visuals” that I’ve made note of wanting to have my PCs experience.

(Example time - I had an encounter where PCs were trying to stealth into the Beastlands in the FR campaign and had to go through a mountainous area infested by worgs, ogres & kobolds, ruled by a pair of beholders with a dragon underling. I wanted to kobolds to be very memorable (sadly the PCs were so good at sneaking most of my design stuff was somewhat pointless), so I put in a creepy extra planar kobold summoner with its serpentine eidolon it named “Lover”, that was constantly whispering to it in abyssal, and a cackling kobold witch who had an animated cauldron which functioned similar to an alchemical golem and used ventriloquism to throw the sound of his cackling around the room, to try to draw PCs into a pit trap).

For NPCs:
:
I steal from Jim Butcher’s advise on writing characters and try to make sure they are memorable with some sort of mnemonic trait I can use to bring up their description with my players. I also try to think of a few “memorable quotes” so I can get their “voice in my head”. If they have a specific combat role or socially antagonistic role, I try to think about their tactics, backgrounds and biases and see what I can do to have them mesh in a more organic manner. I also try to reuse bit characters I’ve described that PCs may have discounted or belittled in the past.

(Example time - my PCs in my home campaign are currently in a “mercenary” arc with a very grey moral attitude, they had previously encountered a half elf huntress whose companions were killed by orc & half orc mercenaries and she wanted the PCs to help her by killing them. Their c/o was afraid it might be enemy scouts, so sent the PCs to check it out. PCs attacked them and ended up capturing the orcs & half orcs involved. The half elf wanted vengeance, but it turns out it they were part of an allied company, who was mustering out, so their c/o cut the half orcs loose after their company paid a weirgild to the deceased’s families. The half elf meandered off screen for a few months, where she agreed to host a shadow demon in exchange for revenge against the orcs & the PCs. Next time the PCs saw here, they were a bit surprised when she had a few extra tricks up her sleeves, which in turn burned some PC resources, so that when the real enemy was revealed they had already burned some resources, making their next encounter MUCH more difficult.)

For individual adventure design:
: (aka mods, scenarios, etc.)
I try to pick two or three of the below and go with whatever is currently most striking my fancy:

Boss Battle
Environmental challenge
NPC (options: Antagonistic, Recurring, Victim, Potential Employer, Potential Employee, Contact, Infamous, Spy, Red Herring, or Ally)
Venue Backdrop (ie where the encounter is going to take place, if it’s in an urban environment, I need to write something more than a dungeon)
Hook (ie how the PCs find out about the scenario and what it is that makes them want to engage the challenge)
Backstory (what I think the PCs might find interesting about both the set-up &/or resolution of the scenario, or how I can write it in to make something about the PC[s] seem even more cool)
Future Dev potential – will I be able to use some of this for a future encounter / scenario / role-playing opportunity, what can I put in to make it awesome when it comes back
Hero Moments – is there some trick / schtick or feature of one or more of the PCs that could make them really shine that doesn’t get to come out often? – go with it! (ex maybe a PC has a mostly useless favored enemy or a backstory that could come in handy to give them additional perspective or make them realize that the NPC is a great liar and that they believed them right up until they started talking about the PC without realizing who the PC actually was…)

(Example time – PCs made it through the super stealth dungeon of koboldish terror and snuck in and snagged some things out of a relatively badass dragon’s lair. Did it in an appropriately professional manner. The PCs, however, are part of a much larger mercenary company. So when the truly big boss hears about this, he gets curious about counter measures to make sure something similar doesn’t happen to him as did to the beholder twins and drops by to speak with the most infamous non-human company on Faerun. Which the PCs are part of. So, they get to hear about their infiltration from the POV of their targets and get to seem even cooler, while trying to maintain a straight face and not give away too many details to the even bigger bad as they’re not sure if he’ll congratulate them or try to have them killed. Fun RP encounter for both me and my players and let me both reuse some dev material, make the players feel that they’re appropriately badass, make them sweat a few bluff / sense motive rolls, and let them show off a bit about their own tactical expertise to a genuinely scary NPC that may actually eventually pay them to “test” his defenses based on their feedback.

Hope that helps !

-TimD

Also, do you have a whiteboard / chalkboard / something to doodle on that you can look at on a wall? … that sometimes helps me out if I have stuff I can look at and move around a bit while organizing.


Dotting to see if there is any associated James Jacobs trauma in the future.

... oh, and to give some additional ideas later on once I'm not at work where typing about demonic clown minions might be... bad.

-TimD


I have a paladin of Shizuru as well as an oracle who is a devout follower of Sarenrae.
I never really thought of them as particularly comperable until you pointed out the whole Sun diety thing.

I think it's how I focus on different aspects with the characters...

For my paladin of Shizuru, it's about honor and legacy - specifically how your actions to improve the world will honor your ancestors and make the world a better place for your descendents. In his case, he strives even harder given that he believes he is living penance for father who gave in to the temptations of the Worldwound and the dishonorable mother who bore him.

For my follower of Sarenrae, it is more about temperance in actions and being less the force of change, and more the fulcrum. He feels that the Dawnflower would want him to learn from her lessons that passion is an excellent thing, but that sometimes it can cause you to be led to misfortune by your enemies. Temper always your penchant for violence with vigilance in recognizing your motives, but never quell your desire to give aid and comfort to your allies or the victims of evil.

Were the two to ever meet, I think they would both be interested in seeing how the other seeks to better the world they live in and those they call allies & friends.

Tsukiyo is an interesting diety as well. I'm with you on the uninspiring longspear (wish they had gone with something a bit more flavorful, like a Naginata, but eh), but the Lawful Good diety with the Darkness, Madness & Repose domains can make for some evocative character concepts. I was pondering an aasimar follower of Tsukiyo with a sort of "guardian in the night" or "slightly crazed undead hunter" touched by the higher planes concept, but I doubt I'll get to play it before the cut next month.

-TimD


Hmmm.
Looked back over what I typed, the #'s are right, but the 2nd "Dodge" should read "Shield Focus".
Copy paste errors for-the-d'oh!.

-TimD


TriOmegaZero wrote:
There's a build around here somewhere with a 20 AC and high HP someone used to play up until 2nd level and rebuild before 2nd into the actual character, but my search-fu is weak tonight.

Not sure about the build you're referring to, but I have a L1 Tank Fighter Build I use sometimes, especially for crunchy tables of all new players...

I put it together when trying to figure out how to build a slightly moronic defensive fighter. He's got 21 AC & 21 HP at 1st...

Dolph:

Adolphus Brigg, Gentle Giant

AL NG

STR 16
DEX 13
CON 18 (includes +2 racial bonus)
INT 8
WIS 9
CHA 10

HP: 21 (10hp base, +4 HP for CON, +6 HP for tribal scars, +1 HP for favored class)
AC 21 (+6 armor, +1 dodge, +1 dex, +3 shield)

Skills: Climb 1 rank, Profession (Soldier) 1 rank

Traits: Defender of the Society (+1 armor in Med or Hvy Armor), +1 (usually shield bearer or wary of danger)

Feats:
1st L ~ Dodge
Human ~ Tribal Scars (Raptorscale)
Fighter-1 ~ Dodge

Equipment:

Heavy Steel Shield
Scale Mail
Long Sword
Bardiche
Cold Iron Dagger
Alch. Silver Light Mace
Pathfinder's kit
Cooking Kit
Flint & Steel
Flask of Acid
Sling


TriOmegaZero wrote:
stuff that can be used without requiring a plane-touched character

Valid.

If it wasn't locked, I would alter my statement from useless to "much less useful" or "not useful enough I would have likely made the purchase for PFS play".

-TimD


First of all, thank you for your response.
It helps restore some of the lost faith I have in the direction the campaign seemed to be going.

John Compton wrote:
There are also some folks who have voiced concerns about trusting Paizo not to pull the rug out from them in the future regarding other products (such as appears to be the case for Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends) and particular boons (such as the "triple boon" that opens access to the soon-to-be-open-acess kitsune, nagaji, and wayangs). I hear you. To my knowledge, Paizo has only performed two substantial scale-backs of available character options: the "archetype purge" (synthesist, vivisectionist, undead lord, and gravewalker) and now the restriction of aasimars and tieflings.

As one of those who have "voiced concerns" over the perceived loss of value of my Paizo purchases, I would note that unlike the archetype purge, which removed only specific and relatively small portions of a book's usefulness, that this change effectively makes Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends useless to those who intend to make new characters after 08/14/14 and do not participate in convention play.

The other point I would note is that the announcement was somewhat counter-intuitive in the reasoning behind the decision for the restriction. There was no mention of game balance or volunteer feedback, only some vague reference to the resolution of the Worldwound plotline and, combined with prior hints that Season 6 may involve scenarios returning to Tien Xia - this seemed particularly odd for with characters who might hail from Tianjing and have never ventured to the Worldwound. I know as I had to try to explain your "more options" post to my girlfriend after we just purchased the Dragon Empires Gazetteer so she can play an aasimar cleric of Yamatsumi, who originally hails from Tianjing.

John Compton wrote:
It is not our goal to tweak the noses of those who buy a product with Pathfinder Society Organized Play in mind. Your desire to use these books is an important reason for our giving warning of thise change. Your enjoyment of these texts is one of many very strong reasons we did not ban aasimars and tieflings outright.

The Law of Unintended Consequences has definitely raised its ugly head on this one, then.

Speaking of which, I would also like to respectfully point out that this will likely actually decrease the perceived value convention boons to those who may already have a aasimar or tiefling characters or no interest in them. Given the many, many, many discussions about convention boons and the need for more volunteers and participation at conventions, I can only assume this possible chilling effect is likewise unintended.

Though I still disagree with the decision and how it was communicated, as always, one of the things I appreciate most about both Paizo & PFS is the willingness of the employees & campaign staff to open and maintain dialogue with their customer/ player base. Thank you again for your responsiveness, especially difficult, I'm sure, with negative determinations such as these.

-TimD


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hmmm… PF#100 will be part 4 of whatever that arc will be called.
Given that James has indicated it’s a big deal, I would think / hope it would be something either fun & crazy-over-the-top or iconic to Pathfinder…

Random speculation:

Geb/Nex would be interesting and might allow some fun stuff with Alkenstar & the Manawastes, but they’ve done a mod there recently.

Absalom would be very cool, but urban adventures seem to be a bit harder to pin down well for APs – though going into the Siege Tower of Nex might be interesting, especially if it led through to multiple other demi-planes like every high-level PC seems to do.

For an iconic, “back-to-our-roots” sort of thing, I could see a return to Darkmoon Vale, the area of many of the early mods set on Golarion.

For a “naw-they’d-NEVER-do-THAT” sort of guess, I’d say some sort of whirlwind journey through different areas ala “Around the World in 80 Days” where Paizo staff get to write something thematic about their “pet country”.

Since they rarely seem to flinch from potential world-ending stuff, I could see something in Casmaron that involved the now-updated Tarrasque (even if not directly). I’d love to see something involving the legend of Namzaruum get full AP treatment.

A Mediogalti or Red Mantis-related AP might be interesting, since the RMs are pretty iconic for PF. Given the prevalence of “let’s be good guys!” themed APs, it probably wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but Paizo has been able to surprise me more than once, so I’d be curious to see it.

An AP around the Sun Orchid Elixir and the Veiled Masters which control those who partake of it might be interesting (yes, rampant speculation, no actually evidence in cannon … yet!)

Something which gives additional info on the rise of the Thrunes and involves devilish manipulations and maybe even daemons could be cool.

Shadows of Aroden – where we may not actually find out what DID happen to Aroden, but we may find out more about events which occurred simultaneously, such as the mass suicide of the leaders of the Saoc Brotherhood, and what the Sar-gorog truly are.

-TimD


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Azzure Chuk Chuk wrote:

It was a suggestion, no need to tell me I'm wrong. I assume you disagree with me which is fine.

Vehemently.

You ARE wrong. I also feel the decision was wrong and will negatively impact both my enjoyment of society play and any future purchases I make of Paizo product now that I have to second-guess their use for Society play (which is what 80%+ of my purchases are for).

However, the Jeopardy dig was likely a bit over the top, so for that, I apologize and I am editing that post.

-TimD


2 people marked this as a favorite.

OP, no.

-TimD


I'd go with either Abadar (as fine foods are a hallmark of civilization), Thisamet (Empyreal Lord of Celebrations, Feasts, etc.) or maaaybe Alseta (in her guise as the Welcomer).

-TimD


This message brought to you from the Lawful Evil part of my brain (which may or may not be a controlling portion, depending on whom you ask and the alignment effect variables of caffeine & alcohol).
So, from an LE POV...

I find your initial post confusing… your subject header speaks of coming to the Dark Side...

Balancer wrote:
In games sometimes you start with an idea for a PC, maybe you're a swash buckling rouge with a golden heart or a shinning beacon of mortality that is a paladin. However along the way you've come to realize you aren't quite the man/woman you thought you were, maybe you rather like the shinny shinny gold everyone keeps thrusting at you or maybe you just lacked the conviction to stick with your morals.

So, you are speaking to or of failures. Those who lacked conviction or inner strength.

Balancer wrote:
So maybe you decided to take a trip over to Neutral and might have overshot by a genocide or five

… and apparently those who seek mediocrity and yet have accidentally achieved a monumental task a time or five…

Balancer wrote:
and now your holding some poor sap over the hot coals or flaying him alive with a rusty teaspoon. Whoops.

… and apparently those who also lack the tools to achieve proper results…

Balancer wrote:

So lets share some tips about how to successfully roleplay the jolly traitor, sure he's going to stab you in the back but man...

You're in for a hell of a ride!

… and apparently also lacks the strength of character to either choose proper allies or the inability to mask their motives so that any fool can see that they are soon to be discarded.

In short, you seem to lack any perspective on the dark side.

We are those who know how to decide and commit ourselves to a task with our whole being and a strength of will that few of the fools who call themselves "heroes" can conceive. We are willing to accept the consequences of our actions, knowing that the sacrifices we make (both of ourselves and of others) is ultimately worth securing our goals in the end.

While we use the tools we must to accomplish our goals, it does not mean that we do not value allies to our cause – in fact, we likely have a far greater appreciation for true allies than any “heroes” as those who have proven themselves to hold value by OUR standards have accomplished a far more strenuous task than many of the “tavern friends” which go on to become “heroes”.

Few of us, I will admit, began our path with the strength of conviction we now hold. For many it was forged by watching the wrongful ideals and sentiments molded by weakness shatter under the relentless press of the true world in which we live. We CHOSE to reforge ourselves stronger and better than we began, an often painful choice. As a child must often put aside their childish things to grow into maturity, so too did we choose to set aside childish morality and grow into conviction and purpose.

-TimD


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Fromper wrote:
Is anyone really upset about the removal of these races? I know I'm surprised Paizo did this, because I'd expect some players will be upset, but the response on this thread has been far more positive than negative.

Yes.

Just because someone is upset doesn't mean they want to violate Wheaton's Law on the Paizo forums, however. I can respect the folks who made the decision, without agreeing with it, even if it causes a chilling effect on my excitement for PFS. Personally, I feel part of that respect is trying to manage how I communicate that disagreement.

On a more positive note, I will say that I'm glad that folks who have been wanting to play the three unlocked races will have their chance and that I look forward to the the new Quests and their associated PFS mechanic.

-TimD


Oracle - Life & Lunar are awesome, but others can be very good too. Having an in-play connection to celestial powers just makes it even more thematic.
Hunter - because a celestial lion is just pretty dam- er, darn cool.
Inquisitor - Garuda blooded, as mentioned earlier. I have a heretic inquisitor of Red Mantis I've been pondering for a bit that I think I'll have a lot of fun RP'ing assuming I get the xp on them in time before the PFS cut.
Bard - Musetouched begs for Bard :)
Cleric - cleric of Yamatsumi from Tianjing


1 person marked this as a favorite.
blahpers wrote:
Then that, as they say, is that.

I think that, with your avatar, you should stick with "That's all folks" :)


Imbicatus wrote:
Kryzbyn wrote:
Guild wars is still going, as is Aeon, Guild Wars2, and now Wildstar.

List of the fallen.

But if the Richard Garriot Tabula Rasa fiasco and CoX Shutdown isn't reason enough to boycott them, I don't know what is.

Random amusement: Google search of "inactive mmos" - 2nd option on the list - NCSoft's wikipedia entry - an amusing and telling point in and of itself.


Sharoth wrote:
I have yet to try any new NCSoft games since they shut down CoH.

+1 to this.

I also make a point of telling anyone thinking about trying NCSoft games that NCSoft has a reputation for killing more MMO's than any other company on the market and actively discourage anyone else from giving NCSoft money.

I'd say RIP CoX, but I'd much prefer for you to rise from your grave.

-TimD


9 people marked this as a favorite.

Also disappointed in the choice to remove Aasimars & Tieflings.
Double bummer as the new PF Quests would have been something I would have been very excited about at any other time.
The irony of telling folks to look in a post titled "New Options" for why they are no longer able to play 2 races isn't lost to me, either.

-TimD


Cedfaz wrote:
There seems to be a lot of hate for Amazon.

I get annoyed at Amazon, but don't hate them.

Hate I mostly save for gnomes, country music, and wasted alcohol. :)

My issue with Amazon (well, the one that is pertinent to this thread) is that they change the release dates on products that they didn't order sufficient quantities of rather than showing them out-of-stock.

-TimD


Dottting in hope that it may involve shot glasses.

-TimD


My (current) top 5.

#1 Communication: OOP communication is key. I cannot stress this enough. OOP communication is key. Talk to your players. Have your players talk to each other. IP is where the magic happens, OOP is where things can come unraveled.

#3 Fun: The point of the game is about having fun. Fun for you, fun for the players. Sometimes it may get serious, sometimes it may get silly. Make sure that what is fun for your is fun for your players and vice versa. See also rule # 1. Remember not everyone’s fun is the same. Different strokes for different folks and all that. Some of the advice up-thread I consider great, other advise I consider nonsense. I don’t doubt others will feel the same about any I might offer.

#3 “No”: “No” is not a bad word. Use it, love it. “No” helps define the world and the story you and your players are building.

#4: Gaming Style: not everyone has the same style of games. In addition to parts of rule # 3, part of the fun is stealing. Not people’s dice bags, but their techniques, shortcuts, and sometimes the “spin” that they put on things which might have seemed familiar until you heard / saw how they did something. Be willing and be excited to be inspired by both other GMs & other players, it keeps the game from getting stale.

#5: Trust. Build it, keep it. Odds are if you can’t trust your players and they can’t trust you, none of you are going to end up having much fun.

-TimD


Happy to help!

-TimD


Hopping in as a voice for the above mentioned “Other” category – I'm a store liaison who …

1. schedules around the scenarios I know my regs have played (generally scheduled for the next 15 games out)
2. looks at the schedules for other stores to try to make sure my regs aren’t signed up elsewhere for scenarios that are in the works (and PM’s the ones who have signed up for things they’ve already played in)
3. tries to make sure my regular GMs (some of whom are VO’s) are able to run the games they would like as many are trying to “build up stars”, which means …
4. rarely GMs for PFS (and most of my PFS GM credit is for other areas where I’ve gone to help out, not my own store)
5. coordinates for a store which has a perpetual derth of Paizo product, but who loves having PFS players there (even though they carry so little product we’re only able to purchase snacks) – and who can and has handled 4+ tables running simultaneously.

... so there’s another example of the “Other” :)

I don’t feel bad about not GMing more as I think that encouraging and scheduling a crop of additional GMs who can both play and run at the store I coordinate for and then go and run at other stores or at conventions is far more valuable to the campaign as sitting down and saying “I want to GM this”.

That said, access to some way of verification for what players have played or GM’d what would be much easier than maintaining a spreadsheet of regular players & tick marks next to the names of scenarios & modules played/ GM'd. :)

-TimD


The most info is in Chronicle of the Righteous.

For a quick overview: Korada.

Edit: also, Korada Mystery Cultist info & Korada Stats.

-TimD


Always appreciate the info.

Very intrigued by "out of retirement scenarios", makes me even more tempted to make it out to PaizoCon next year.

-TimD


Giants... hmmm... sounds like a great AP in which to unleash Jorngarl's Harm on unsuspecting PCs...

-TimD


Anguish wrote:

I need to go start a thread: Customer Service Bestiary 1 Wishlist.

Top contenders:
1} Dire Cosmo
2} Dread Cosmo
3} Cosmolyxtrix Demon
4} Advanced Abysal Cosmo Ooze

This book may informally be referred to as the Cosmonomicon.

5} Mustache-of-Cosmo, Unfettered

6} Moustache-of-Cosmo, Unfettered (Mythic)


Nothing new there, it's Amazon, losing money on shipping is apparently part of their marketing strategy. If you search "Amazon" on the message boards, you'll see this topic has come up many times already.

I AM a bit surprised they are showing a release date within 3 months of the ACTUAL release date, though. Normally Amazon is notoriously bad about accuracy of the release date on Paizo products, so if they had said December or January of 2015, it wouldn't have surprised me.

-TimD


thejeff wrote:
TimD wrote:
1. How this decision may water down HIPAA - generally an employer has no right to any private health information for any of its employees, so it becomes very odd in how this will be handled. Especially if this exception for religious beliefs becomes more widespread. To my knowledge, there is no real way the CPT or diagnosis system is going to really differentiate between billing for "acceptable" vs. "unacceptable" birth control, especially as it will apparently vary by the company's current belief system. While individual medications may be added to a list, I don't know many health professionals that would know to or care to try to find a specific list of things they can't discuss with or prescribe to a patient because of who their employer happens to be.

I'm not sure that's really an issue.

This is all done through the insurance company anyway, which already gets the information. Insurance companies already have lists of prescription drugs they do and do not cover or cover at various percentages and/or co-pays, so I assume this would be handled the same way.

Think I may have been unclear. Note the bolded part.

While I acknowledge there are ways that specific meds may excluded, I was more concerned about the expectations on health providers' billing (ex if Hobby Lobby thinks that they are going to be able to find out what birth control measures your MD spoke with you about, &/or prescribed for you, rather than the prescription you filled). In addition, many people these days also have separate Rx plans for their prescription drugs which have little to no information overlap with their actual medical coverage, so there is additional obfuscation from that point of view if the medical coverage is through the employer, but the employee has addition Rx coverage through a supplemental plan not tied to the employer.

MagusJanus wrote:
It's simple enough: The company auto-denies until the employee provides all of the necessary documentation as to what the procedure is actually for. There's no law against that thanks to that ruling.

I know of no companies who are directly billed for medical services, generally billing goes to the insurance company, managed care company, or Rx provider if it is not going directly to the member. In addition, there ARE many laws which prohibit automatic denials such as what you are describing, though most are on a state level or part of CMS criteria.

-TimD


Bruunwald wrote:

It is a common misconception that health benefits amount to "somebody else paying for your stuff." They don't. They are part of your salary. Part of your compensation for your work.

+1 to this. Benefits are completely part of your overall compensation package.

I have two additional concerns I've not seen come up yet on this one:

1. How this decision may water down HIPAA - generally an employer has no right to any private health information for any of its employees, so it becomes very odd in how this will be handled. Especially if this exception for religious beliefs becomes more widespread. To my knowledge, there is no real way the CPT or diagnosis system is going to really differentiate between billing for "acceptable" vs. "unacceptable" birth control, especially as it will apparently vary by the company's current belief system. While individual medications may be added to a list, I don't know many health professionals that would know to or care to try to find a specific list of things they can't discuss with or prescribe to a patient because of who their employer happens to be.

2. The concept that a corporation can have a religion. One of the "downstream effects" which concerns me is if a "closely held" company decides that they are a conscientious objector, how that will affect those who may be employed there who are serving in the armed forces or are veterans. Edit on this one, I see that there were a few fun thoughts on corporations as religion. I <3 the Valhalla one.

-TimD


Examples of the build I was referring to...

15-pt buy, Heroic NPC WBL
Level 5: (3,450gp)
N Medium Humanoid (Half Elf) Ranger (Witchguard) 4 / Inquisitor (Spellbreaker) 1

Buffs to Ally: +4 AC with Bodyguard Feat (uses an attack of op), +2 dodge bonus to AC, +2 to circumstance bonus to concentration checks with Defend Charge Ability (uses a move action, lasts 1 round while adjacent)

Spoiler:

Initiative +3 (+5 in urban environments) ; Senses Low Light Vision ; Perception +14
AC 22 (Touch 13 , Flat Footed 19 ) (+6 Armor, +3 Shield, +3 Dex) add +3 dodge bonus if fighting defensively
HP 46 (assumes max @ 1st Level, average thereafter, favored class bonus to hp’s)
FORT +8 REF +7 WILL+4
Other Defenses Immune to Sleep, +2 vs. enchantment, Strong Willed (roll twice & take better on Will saves vs. mind-affecting effects), Resistance Spell, Hex Nail (+2 resistance bonus on all saving throws against the hexes, spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities of fey, hags, and witches), Lessons of Chaldira (1x/day reroll of a save)
Offense
Speed 20ft (30 ft base)
Melee Masterwork Cold Iron Long Sword+7 (1d8+2, 19-20/x2, S) or Spiked Heavy Shield Bash+6 (1d6+2, 20/x2, P) or Alchemical Silver Locking Gauntlet +6 (1d3+2, 20/x2, B) or Cold Iron Spiked Gauntlet+6 (1d4+2, 20/x2, P, Light)
Ranged Masterwork Composite Longbow+8 (1d8+2, 20/x3, 110 ft range increments, P or B depending on ammunition type)
Other Offense Judgment 1x/day, Favored Enemy (+4 vs. human, +2 vs. undead), Shield Slam, Stand Still
Other
Statistics
STR 14 DEX 16 CON 14 (includes +1 at 4th Level) INT 11 WIS 13 CHA 8
Base Attack +4 CMB +6 CMD 19

Racial Abilities Low Light Vision, Keen Senses, Immune to Sleep, +2 vs. enchantment, Skill Focus (Perception), Multitalented, Elf Blood

Traits:
Racial (Adopted/Halfling: Helpful, gives +4 on Aid Another, rather than +2; source: Halfling of Golarion)
Religion (Chaldira Zuzaristan, Lessons of Chaldira: 1x/day you may re-roll a saving throw before the result is known; source: Inner Sea Gods)

Feats:
1: Combat Reflexes
Ranger-2 : Shield Slam
3: Stand Still
Ranger-3: Bodyguard
5: Power Attack

Skills

Acrobatics+6 (3r), Diplomacy+3 (1r), Heal+5 (1r), Knowledge (Arcana, Dungeoneering, Geography, Nature, Planes, Religion)+4 (1r), Knowledge (Nobility)+6 (3r), Linguistics+1 (1r), Perception+14 (5r), Ride+7 (1r), Sense Motive+9 (4r), Spellcraft+6 (3r), Stealth+7 (1r), Survival+5 (+7 if tracking) (1r) ; -6 armor check penalty (-4 for breastplate, -2 for heavy steel shield) not yet applied , +2 racial bonus for perception applied, +3 skill focus for perception applied, +1 bonus to sense motive for stern gaze applied, favored enemy & favored terrain bonuses not applied.

Languages
Common (Taldane), Elven, Skald

CLA’S

Ranger (Witchguard):
Wild Empathy
Combat Style (Sword & Shield)
Track
Favored Enemy: Humanoid (Human) +2
(bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks against creatures of his selected type. Likewise, he gets an equal bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against them. A ranger may make Knowledge skill checks untrained when attempting to identify these creatures.)
Favored Terrain: Urban
(+2 bonus on initiative checks and Knowledge (geography), Perception, Stealth, and Survival skill checks when he is in this terrain. A ranger traveling through his favored terrain normally leaves no trail and cannot be tracked [though he may leave a trail if he so chooses].)

Defend Charge (2x/day +2)
At 4th level, a witchguard forms a bond with a spellcaster he has sworn to defend. Once per day, this bond allows the witchguard to spend a move action to grant an adjacent spellcaster a +2 dodge bonus to AC and a +2 circumstance bonus on concentration checks.
At 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, these bonuses increase by 2. The bonuses last for a number of rounds equal to the witchguard’s Wisdom modifier (minimum 1).
At 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the witchguard can use this ability one additional time per day.
This ability replaces hunter’s bond.

Inquisitor (Spellbreaker)
Domain (War/Tactics, roll twice on initiative & take better result, 3+WisMod/day [4x/day])
Judgment 1x/day
Strong Willed (roll twice & take better on Will saves vs. mind-affecting effects) (Replaced Monster Lore)
Orisons
Stern Gaze (+1 to sense motive & intimidate)

Inquisitor Spells Known (4/2)
0: Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Resistance, Stabilize
1st: Litany of Sloth, True Strike (for CMB checks)

Inquisitor Spells per day: two 1st Level , Caster Level 1

Ranger Spell Memorized (Caster Level 1)
1st: Abundand Ammunition

Advancement:
1: Ranger-1
2: Inquisitor-1 (Spellbreaker Archtype, War/Tactics Domain)
3: Ranger-2
4: Ranger-3
5: Ranger-4

Equipment (Heroic NPC Level 5: 3,450 gp):

Masterwork Breastplate
Spiked Heavy Steel Shield +1

Masterwork Cold Iron Longsword
Alchemical Silver Locking Gauntlet
Cold Iron Spiked Gauntlet
Masterwork Composite (+2 STR) Longbow
Durable Alchemical Silver Tipped Blunt Arrows x5
Durable Cold Iron Tipped Arrows x5
Durable Adamantine Tipped Arrows x3
Durable Arrows with Ghost Salt Weapon Blanche Applied x5

3 Weapon Cords
Anti-toxin
Air Crystal
Alchemist’s Fire x2
Sunrod x2
3 bags of powder (for revealing invisible creatures)
Vermin Repellent
Smelling Salts
Hex Nail

Scrolls (225gp): Horn of Pursuit (for alarm purposes), Keep Watch, Fallback Strategy, Petulengro’s Validation ; Lead Blades, Aspect of the Falcon, Abundant Ammunition, Gravity Bow, Alarm
Wands (5 charges / 75 gp ea, x3, 225gp total): Wand of Protection from Evil (CL 1, 5 charges), Wand of True Strike (CL 1, 5 charges), Wand of Magic Weapon (CL 1, 5 charges)

10gp, 1sp, 7cp

and at 8th...

15-pt buy, Heroic NPC WBL
Level 8: (7,800gp)
N Medium Humanoid (Half Elf) Ranger (Witchguard) 6 / Inquisitor (Spellbreaker) 1 / Ulfen Guard 1

Buffs to Ally: +5 AC with Bodyguard Feat (uses an attack of op), +4 dodge bonus to AC, +4 to circumstance bonus to concentration checks with Defend Charge Ability (uses a move action, lasts 2 rounds while adjacent), Deflect Arrow while adjacent, May intercept successful attack if adjacent if Bodyguard Feat is used (In Harm’s Way Feat), +1 dodge bonus to AC & +1 bonus to Reflex saves (Chosen Ally Ability).
Total potential ally buff +10 AC Bonus, Deflect 1 arrow, take 1 attack, +4 Concentration, +1 Reflex Save

Spoiler:

Initiative +3 (+5 in urban environments) ; Senses Low Light Vision ; Perception +18
AC 23 (Touch 13 , Flat Footed 19 ) (+7 Armor, +3 Shield, +3 Dex) add +3 dodge bonus if fighting defensively, -1 penalty when Chosen Ally ability active
HP 74 (assumes max @ 1st Level, average thereafter, favored class bonus to hp’s)
FORT +9 REF +7 WILL+5
Other Defenses Immune to Sleep, +2 vs. enchantment, Strong Willed (roll twice & take better on Will saves vs. mind-affecting effects), Resistance Spell, Hex Nail (+2 resistance bonus on all saving throws against the hexes, spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities of fey, hags, and witches) Lessons of Chaldira (1x/day reroll of a save), Deflect Arrows, Rage (+2 to Will saves while Raging)
Offense
Speed 20ft (30 ft base)
Melee Masterwork Cold Iron Long Sword+10/+5 (1d8+2, 19-20/x2, S) or Spiked Heavy Shield Bash+9/+4 (1d6+2, 20/x2, P) or Alchemical Silver Locking Gauntlet +9/4 (1d3+2, 20/x2, B) or Cold Iron Spiked Gauntlet+9/+4 (1d4+2, 20/x2, P, Light)
Ranged Masterwork Composite Longbow+8 (1d8+2, 20/x3, 110 ft range increments, P or B depending on ammunition type)
Other Offense Judgment 1x/day, Favored Enemy (+4 vs. human, +2 vs. undead), Shield Slam, Stand Still, Rage (6 rounds / day)
Statistics
STR 14 DEX 16 CON 14 (includes +1 at 4th Level) INT 11 WIS 13 (includes +1 at 8th Level) CHA 8
Base Attack +7 CMB +9 CMD 22

Racial Abilities Low Light Vision, Keen Senses, Immune to Sleep, +2 vs. enchantment, Skill Focus (Perception), Multitalented, Elf Blood

Traits:
Racial (Adopted/Halfling: Helpful, gives +4 on Aid Another, rather than +2; source: Halfling of Golarion)
Religion (Chaldira Zuzaristan, Lessons of Chaldira: 1x/day you may re-roll a saving throw before the result is known; source: Inner Sea Gods)

Feats:
1: Combat Reflexes
Ranger-2 : Shield Slam
3: Stand Still
Ranger-3: Bodyguard
5: Power Attack
7: Improved Shield Bash
Ulfen Guard-1: Deflect Arrows (with Ulfen Guard ability, may be used to Deflect Arrows targeting adjacent chosen ally)
Ranger-6: In Harm’s Way, Shield Master

Skills

Acrobatics+6 (3r), Diplomacy+3 (1r), Heal+6 (1r), Knowledge (Arcana, Dungeoneering, Geography, Nature, Planes, Religion)+4 (1r), Knowledge (Nobility)+6 (3r), Linguistics+3 (3r), Perception+18 (8r), Ride+7 (1r), Sense Motive+14 (8r), Spellcraft+9 (6r), Stealth+9 (3r), Survival+8 (+11 if tracking) (3r) ; -6 armor check penalty (-4 for breastplate, -2 for heavy steel shield) not yet applied , +2 racial bonus for perception applied, +3 skill focus for perception applied, +1 bonus to sense motive for stern gaze applied ; favored enemy & favored terrain bonuses not yet applied.

Languages
Common (Taldane), Elven, Hallit, Kelish, Skald

CLA’S

Ranger (Witchguard):
Wild Empathy
Combat Style (Sword & Shield)
Track
Favored Enemy: Humanoid (Human) +4 / Undead +2
(bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks against creatures of his selected type. Likewise, he gets an equal bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against them. A ranger may make Knowledge skill checks untrained when attempting to identify these creatures.)
Favored Terrain: Urban
(+2 bonus on initiative checks and Knowledge (geography), Perception, Stealth, and Survival skill checks when he is in this terrain. A ranger traveling through his favored terrain normally leaves no trail and cannot be tracked [though he may leave a trail if he so chooses].)

Defend Charge (2x/day +4 bonus)
At 4th level, a witchguard forms a bond with a spellcaster he has sworn to defend. Once per day, this bond allows the witchguard to spend a move action to grant an adjacent spellcaster a +2 dodge bonus to AC and a +2 circumstance bonus on concentration checks.
At 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, these bonuses increase by 2. The bonuses last for a number of rounds equal to the witchguard’s Wisdom modifier (minimum 1).
At 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the witchguard can use this ability one additional time per day.
This ability replaces hunter’s bond.

Inquisitor (Spellbreaker)
Domain (War/Tactics, roll twice on initiative & take better result, 3+WisMod/day [4x/day])
Judgment 1x/day
Strong Willed (roll twice & take better on Will saves vs. mind-affecting effects) (Replaced Monster Lore)
Orisons
Stern Gaze (+1 to sense motive & intimidate)

Ulfen Guard
Rage (Ex): An Ulfen Guard is trained to harness her brutish nature while in combat in the defense of her charge. This works as the barbarian ability of the same name. An Ulfen Guard’s class levels stack with any other classes granting this ability for determining the effects of rage powers and the number of rounds per day the guard can rage.
Rage (Ex): A barbarian can call upon inner reserves of strength and ferocity, granting her additional combat prowess. Starting at 1st level, a barbarian can rage for a number of rounds per day equal to 4 + her Constitution modifier. At each level after 1st, she can rage for 2 additional rounds. Temporary increases to Constitution, such as those gained from rage and spells like bear's endurance, do not increase the total number of rounds that a barbarian can rage per day. A barbarian can enter rage as a free action. The total number of rounds of rage per day is renewed after resting for 8 hours, although these hours do not need to be consecutive.

While in rage, a barbarian gains a +4 morale bonus to her Strength and Constitution, as well as a +2 morale bonus on Will saves. In addition, she takes a –2 penalty to Armor Class. The increase to Constitution grants the barbarian 2 hit points per Hit Dice, but these disappear when the rage ends and are not lost first like temporary hit points. While in rage, a barbarian cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate, and Ride) or any ability that requires patience or concentration.

A barbarian can end her rage as a free action and is fatigued after rage for a number of rounds equal to 2 times the number of rounds spent in the rage. A barbarian cannot enter a new rage while fatigued or exhausted but can otherwise enter rage multiple times during a single encounter or combat. If a barbarian falls unconscious, her rage immediately ends, placing her in peril of death.

Chosen Ally (Ex): At 1st level, when entering a rage, an Ulfen Guard can choose an ally to protect as a free action. The Ulfen Guard must make this choice when beginning her rage and cannot change her designated ally while raging. Whenever the Ulfen Guard is adjacent to her chosen ally, she can choose to take a –1 penalty to her AC to grant her ally a +1 dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves. This bonus increases by 1 at 5th and 10th level.

Deflect Arrows (Ex): The Ulfen Guard gains Deflect Arrows as a bonus feat. If she is adjacent to her chosen ally, she can use this ability to deflect an arrow targeting her chosen ally. The Ulfen Guard does not need to meet the prerequisites for this bonus feat.

Inquisitor Spells Known (4/2)
0: Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Resistance, Stabilize
1st: Litany of Sloth, True Strike (for CMB checks)

Inquisitor Spells per day: two 1st Level , Caster Level 1

Ranger Spell Memorized (Caster Level 3)
1st: Abundand Ammunition, Delay Poison

Advancement:
1: Ranger-1
2: Inquisitor-1 (Spellbreaker Archtype, War/Tactics Domain)
3: Ranger-2
4: Ranger-3
5: Ranger-4
6: Ranger-5
7: Ulfen Guard-1
8: Ranger-6

Equipment (Heroic NPC Level 8: 7,800 gp):

Benevolent Breastplate+1
Spiked Heavy Steel Shield +1

Masterwork Cold Iron Longsword
Alchemical Silver Locking Gauntlet
Cold Iron Spiked Gauntlet
Masterwork Composite (+2 STR) Longbow
Durable Alchemical Silver Tipped Blunt Arrows x5
Durable Cold Iron Tipped Arrows x25
Durable Adamantine Tipped Arrows x3
Durable Arrows with Ghost Salt Weapon Blanche Applied x5

3 Weapon Cords
Anti-toxin
Air Crystal
Alchemist’s Fire x2
Sunrod x2
3 bags of powder (for revealing invisible creatures)
Vermin Repellent
Smelling Salts
Alchemical Solvent

Hex Nail
Snap Leaf
Arrow Magnet

Scrolls (225gp): Horn of Pursuit (for alarm purposes), Keep Watch, Fallback Strategy, Petulengro’s Validation ; Lead Blades, Aspect of the Falcon, Abundant Ammunition, Gravity Bow, Alarm
Wands (5 charges / 75 gp ea, x3, 225gp total): Wand of Protection from Evil (CL 1, 5 charges), Wand of True Strike (CL 1, 5 charges), Wand of Magic Weapon (CL 1, 5 charges)

10gp, 21sp, 7cp

-TimD


Witchguard Ranger 4 (Devotion Patron) / Spellbreaker Inquisitor 1.
For maximum benefit, have them be part of an Ulfen group of orphans raised by halflings who run the elite bodyguard services in the North and trained by Ulfen Guards and eventually go for Ulfen Guard prestige class. Take Adopted: Helpful Halfling and Religion: Lessons of Chaldira for traits and go with either War/Tactics or Deception for your Domain power.

If you want to skip the "cheese" of the Halfling Adoption/training, go with Travel/Exploration domain, Regional Trait of Shield Bearer and Reactive Combat Trait.

8th level would be Ranger 6 (Witchguard), Inquisitor 1 (Spellbreaker) and Ulfen Guard 1.

-TimD


Mark Seifter wrote:
Lots of good things

Thanks for your detailed reply, Mark, there's a lot of good stuff in there.

I'm considerably more hopeful for higher-level support from Paizo now, even if in the far future beyond all the currently scheduled product.

-TimD


Hey, Mark.

I’ve gotten the impression from reading over several years worth of posts from other Paizo employees, that few or none of them have had any meaningful play or enjoyable play experiences with high level* games. Because of this, I’m curious about your experience or lack of experience with well-done high level* play. Where do you see yourself in the spectrum of support for &/or experience with higher-level* gaming?

Thanks for your time!

-TimD

*in this case, “higher-level” indicating 15+ for PF


Epic boss battles are incredibly fun when they execute properly and incredibly frustrating for everyone (especially the GM) when they don’t go off as intended.
You seem to have a good idea on what you want the BBEG to be (so I've skipped that advice) and have already hit several of the main things I always like to see in epic boss battles – player investment (the PC has a motivation to go after this NPC), recurring villain and thematic backstory.
Assuming the BBEG is anticipating a visit from the party (especially the one who left him maimed), I would try to set things up with a nice environment to keep the battle challenging for the PCs and let everyone feel like they have something to do other than surround & pound the BBEG.
Since he was already burned by the PC – I would probably make him either nigh invulnerable due to being paranoid about it happening again & worse or make it fatal flaw type of thing where PCs can debuff or otherwise manipulate him using his fear of burning / scalding against him.

Example set up:

This seems like it would be a good place to have an action movie style scene with catwalks, giant cauldrons of boiling liquids and clouds of steam or noxious vapors cutting down on visibility – the BBEG could be an excellent mobile opponent trying to draw PCs into pre-planned ambushes or mechanical traps and using the lack of visibility against the PCs – especially if he has some way of seeing through it (ala waves oracle/ninja builds or wearing a goz mask).

Whatever you do though, don’t forget the minions – almost no fight is going to go well with just one bad guy – action economy is definitely something to consider. I’d recommend you have a few minions to slow the party, but even more guarding or preparing to kill prisoners or hostages that the PCs may be invested in protecting. This lets the PC with the most emotional investment in the BBEG focus on them and still gives the other PCs something to do in the fight and feel like they are contributing.

Example minions & complications:

Using the example above, the BBEG may have taken several prisoners for specific purposes and some of his minions may be compelled rather than volunteers, giving the PCs the option to find a way to try to weaken the BBEG before going in for the kill. Perhaps he has the children of a few life oracles with orders that they be killed if anything happens to him, with the end result of him having incredible healing for at least the first few rounds of combat (via multiple life links) if the PCs don’t find a way to neutralize it. While the PC with the backstory investment keeps the BBEG busy, the others can find and release the prisoners which causes the compelled allies to revolt against the BBEG (and maybe switch sides and buff the PCs instead).
For minions, the BBEG has a combination of animated objects placed in strategic areas (to try to bull rush PCs off of the catwalks, or who are perhaps part of the environment such as animated ladders), as well as at least one “LT” minion, several tough bodyguard minions and at least one “buff/escape” minion whose job is to make sure that the BBEG can (at least temporarily) escape (such as using the Shadow Well ability of the Shadow Sorcerer Bloodline).

… and last, but not least, make sure the BBEG is at least a little bit smart and has contingency plans for common PC tactics (such as blindness, disarm/sunder, etc. I would have a set of code words he and his minions yell back and forth to each other throughout the combat and especially a sequence of “all is fine, no need to activate a contingency plan yet” words that don’t work if used out of order (as opponents would likely start yelling them back if they think it will help the situation). Extra points if they are in a specific & obscure language that one of the other PCs may unexpectedly know.

Hope that helps.

-TimD


Nefreet wrote:
I picked a bad week to give up coffee.

Giving up coffee is a bit like giving up oxygen. There's not really a good week for it.

-TimD


Ishpumalibu wrote:
Tim d. Actually i have it set in absalom.

Interesting choice. Absalom is on the Isle of Kortos. The island was raised from the ocean by Aroden, who then established Absalom after the Earthfall, which means it wasn't established until after the Azlanti Empire was destroyed by the aboleth.

Not trying to rain on your parade, just saying that if any of your players are Golarion buffs, they may wonder how an Azlanti War College came to exist on an island that didn't exist until after the end of the Azlanti. (Which isn't to say, don't do it, just to say, be prepared for the question.)

Urgathoa would be very appropriate for something like this. It could be that the College was taken by Barasthangas at the time of the Earthfall. I would probably avoid using Zon-Kuthon as you described, as he waited until he was asked to snag and preserve Nidal.

-TimD


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sounds like a cool idea for a campaign.

When your subject header said “undead dungeon”, I have to admit I was thinking some sort of undead gargantuan+ mimic or several of them stacked, severed and twisted together into an unliving amalgamation of aberrant flesh and bone.
Then I saw that you were going for an ancient Azlanti War College, so that might not be as appropriate…

Wall of text - Fun with the Shadow Plane and ideas for the War College:

… on the other hand, you could actually make it so. We know that Zon-Kuthon preserved much of Nidal from the Earthfall through the utilization of the Shadow Plane. It would be thematically interesting and perhaps metaphysically appropriate if the Azlant War College had some sort of similar defense that may have either kicked in automatically or been activated (either by someone whose remains or spirit may still be there or someone you may want to introduce later in your campaign). Pulling PCs into the Shadow Plane to explore the War College lets you put all sort of Kuthonite-flavored goodies like those described above and keep it realistic. Would an actual Azlanti War College likely have all of that? … no, but it’s Shadow Plane version probably would and if the PCs have to make it through the shadowy twin of the college in order to deactivate the defense it solves for verisimilitude (and, if you think the PCs are up for it and you’re feeling especially mean, means that the PCs may plane shift into the actual war college in the middle of the structure and have to make their way OUT through a series of magical traps, constructs, animated objects, and other Azlanti defenses, as well as whatever summoned creatures may have been bound and trapped in the structure this whole time or may have made their way in over the intervening centuries).

All of that said, I would go with other fun things like:

The Instructor
A Grave Knight tactics instructor who is in their “civies” – which is to say that they aren’t wearing the armor from which they will become reconstitute if defeated and therefore the PCs who attempt to win through via combat will have to face them at least twice. The lawful evil graveknight is slightly insane, APL+4 or so, and will see the PCs as “trainees” into whom it must instill both respect and the traditions of the College. PCs should be able to view this as an incredibly dangerous role-playing encounter which may punish overly aggressive behaviors. Diplomacy, Knowledge (History), Knowledge (Planes), Profession (Barrister / Lawyer) and Profession (Soldier) should all assist in the encounters with the Grave Knight instructor.

The Mess Hall
Here undead “cooks” carve bits of the unliving walls and serve them to former students and staff who have succumbed to the ghoulish curse of undeath. The dementia of the undead will cause them to hesitate before attacking PCs and PCs may be able to bluff their way through by attempting to “blend in” and either consume or appear to consume the fleshy repast prepared by the kitchen staff. Perceptive PCs may note that the walls slowly bleed, but appear to be growing back – at a rate just fast enough for the next scheduled meal. PCs who actually eat the undead flesh should at least risk being sickened / nauseated and perhaps risk ghoul fever or similar. Of course, they may also get a bonus to bluff or the ability to seem like a denizen of the College and bypass certain other threats if they’re willing to eat the meal of unliving flesh. Perhaps after enough is consumed they may take an infernal healing effect when consuming the flesh of sentient creatures. Knowledge (Religion), Diplomacy, Bluff, and Sleight-of-Hand should all aid in the mess hall encounter area.

The Armory
As PCs approach what is likely one of their main destinations in the College, they may note that the floor is sticky with dried blood. As they approach, the sounds of combat can be heard – but combat with an oddly measured pace. When they come within view they will see the animated bodies and / or spirits of several of the students and staff who sought the armory to defend themselves are being cut down by its defenses again and again - an unending battle which began at the Earthfall and has continued ever since. The undead continue to reanimate and the Armory itself continues to mend and maintain its defenses putting both sides in a macabre stalemate. The combat has occurred so often there is a sort of twisted pattern to it now and PCs risk destruction from both sides if they don’t time their attack when both sides are at their weakest. PCs should be encouraged to come up with creative ways to alter the tide of battle as neither side will interfere or interact with PCs until the PCs interrupt their endless struggle.

The Chapel
This should be the area that the PCs are both most leery of and should possibly the most subtle of the “creepiness” of the area.
It should appear perfectly preserved and peaceful – and it is – for here the attention of Lissala, one of the patron deities of Old Azlant yet remains.
So long as the PCs seem to be worshippers of Lissala, neither the chapel or its guardians will prevent the PCs from using the area as a resting location and the GM can make it seem like an ideal area to “camp” in the madness of the rest of the College.
If any of the PCs are divine casters, however, as soon as they are witnessed casting a spell or praying to a deity other than Lissala, the spirits of the temple will attack (likely while some PCs are asleep or unprepared for combat).
Each day at a specific time, everything in the temple will revert and be restored to how it was before the PCs arrived – including wiping any memory of the PCs from any guardian spirits and restoring any constructs, traps, or summoned creatures.

Azlanti Easter Eggs
For extra fun, you could consider having the PCs find…
A roster of exception students or those who were kicked out of the academy, which might include the name Aroden or Xin…
A commendation might show the signature from Queen Zura…
A treatise on the changes which can be afflicted upon divinity – namely the metaphysical and spiritual ramifications of the transformation of Dou-Bral to Zon-Kuthon by what was likely an outside force.
Graffiti indicating that the dean is a Veiled Master.
A letter from a worried parent indicating that the student who wrote the above graffiti has gone missing.
A partially burned report indicating that the aboleth were especially interested in occurences at this College.

Additional fun things
Doors which are made of flesh or undead flesh – and have to be cut open… they bleed and slowly start to heal. Should positive energy be used on them, they take damage as if undead, but always grow back.
A warm humid breeze from nowhere carrying the scent of carrion and the sounds of whimpering.
A trio of bodies, two of which are gnawed, the third looks to have died from starvation or dehydration. In blood, written on the walls in Azlanti “they are still trapped here with me, not even death will let us escape”. On the ceiling, well out of reach is scratched a response “of course not, and you will join them soon” in the same language, but obviously different handwriting.
When PCs channel positive energy to harm undead in one of the combats, have the structure and any furniture become blackened or take damage as well, possibly causing a shuddering moan to come from deeper within the structure.
Anyone detecting magic will also get glimpses of other things and states of existence around them – perhaps images of shadowy shapes ineffectively trying to feed on the magics and life force of their allies, stopped – for now - by planar barriers.
The bottoms of stairs showing slick and wet with a mild acid and stones that seem more akin to flesh, with the remains of others clearly visible and partially digested by the structure itself.

The in-play vs. out-of-play factor:

As noted by the many great suggestions above, there’s several levels of “creepy” vs. “grotesque”, which leads to a subject near and dear to my twisted heart – PC immersion.

It’s often difficult to get players out of their comfort zones for properly creepy environments, especially when the players are in a well-lit environment that screams “safe” to their subconscious and tend to speak in 3rd person about their character’s actions. I recommend talking with your players and letting them know that you’re trying to evoke a different feel for a few sessions and see how they feel about changing things up a bit. If they are good with it, there are lots of tricks you can do with lighting, sounds and smells to help really evoke certain areas or NPCs, as well as things with body language, eye contact, and general player awareness.

Not all PCs are comfortable with these types of changes, though, some folks just want to sit around in comfort and roll dice – there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s definitely best to know which types of players you have before you do things like dim the lights, start up the music and open up the container with the rotting meat smell to clue the players that their characters are approaching the Count of Corpulence and his ghast and zombie lord court.

-TimD


Congratz, R.E.Mark!

-TimD


Malag wrote:


Shadow Spells (Su) wrote:

At 1st level, a shadowcaster uses his shadow to prepare additional spells. He must spend his entire period of spell preparation in dim illumination to use this ability. He may prepare a number of additional spell levels of spells equal to the level of the highest-level wizard spell he can cast. For example, if he can cast 6th-level wizard spells, he could prepare six 1st-level spells, two 3rd level-spells, or any similar combination that adds up to a total of six spell levels. These spells are stored in his shadow. He can only cast these spells when he is in an area of normal light or dim light. He gains Shadowtongue as a bonus language.

This ability replaces arcane bond.

The bolded part confuses me. Does it include all spells that wizard casts?

No, it only applies to the spells you have stored in your shadow.

Malag wrote:

Additional question: How could I counter being in darkness? The campaign world will include a lot of demons, daemons and devils, so I am slightly afraid of darkness and deeper darkness spells.

The standard tactic I see is a heightened continual flame so that the level of the continual flame is higher than that of darkness or deeper darkness.

-TimD


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I have this strange image of a successful UMD or Disable Device check ending in a message spell to the activator saying "Sky Key validation successful. Sky Net activated and now online. Anti-Connor protocols initiated."

... on a more serious note, looking forward to seeing what's been going on in Tian Xia with the Lantern Lodge.

-TimD


Sniggevert wrote:
It uses it's own unique map. No map packs/flip-mats for this one. Thankfully, there's only one to make.

Do note that it's on 10-ft scale, not 5-ft though. I almost missed that when starting to pre-draw the map.

-TimD


SAMAS wrote:
"'Nice Try'? Mister, where I come from, there is no Try!"

Yeah, that's now one of my fav scenes in the entire series. In hindsight, it is also possibly the craziest as well (perhaps tied with the frozen turkey).

I'm pondering getting that quote made into a T-Shirt if Buzzy (or some other T-shirt maker) doesn't beat me to it and save me the effort.

-TimD


As I have a few more minutes and these types of topics are some of my fav things on the Paizo boards, a few more…

All-for-one / one-for-all / all-for-us – in their youth, the PCs made a pact with each other to support each other in their endeavors and quests for differing types of power so that, as a group, they would have a great deal of influence over the world. One might seek to become the Great Guildmaster, with spies in every court, blackmail on everyone, and to whom every criminal in the region pays heed & tribute. Another may seek to master the ancient arcane magics and seeks magical power and influence, perhaps even control, amongst the arcanists of the region. Yet another may seek to make their religion (and by “their” I mean all of the PCs by preference) the pre-eminent religion in the area, a state religion, or at least to build such a bastion to their deity (or deities) that their enemies may ever fear to enter into their lands (or even plane). One may seek to lead – whether it be army, city, nation, etc. – and seeks the guidance and backing of the others and to aid them too in their endeavors. The key is that none compete where others seek and that they all support each others’ efforts as they gain in power.
Variant – the PCs have discovered such a cabal already exists and must find a way to destabilize or remove them from power in order to accomplish their own goals.

We have a Dream – PCs have a singular, all-encompassing goal which will have significant repercussions on the game world, if achieved. Whether it be the ending of slavery, the eradication of a demon lord’s religion, the freedom of their nation from tyranny, the establishment of their own nation, or some other goal the campaign world will be changed both by their efforts and by the result of their efforts (even if not wholly successful).
Variant – the PCs are opposing another group who is implacably forging their own will on the PC’s world and must find a way to stop them before the way of life that they have enjoyed is gone forever. The PCs are bound by whatever is threatened by this group, whether it be a religion, citizenship in a country or city-state, or something even more primal or esoteric – whatever it is, they see in each other what they hope to preserve and defend.

Snowflakes – all of the PCs share some ability which seems to be unique to them. Perhaps they can always smell incorporeal or ethereal entities, perhaps the sounds of lies spoken either by themselves or others creates an odd taste in their mouth, maybe there is a specific type of wood which they can shape like clay and which becomes as strong as steel once their shaping is completed. Whatever the ability – it is a sign of something else. A sign those who are their sworn enemies seek to find a destroy all those who share this trait.
Variant – the PCs are either the seekers or have discovered that their secret talent is actually the sign that they are capable of something they would prefer not to be involved in (such as summoning a greater demon lord, slaying a greater angel, etc.).

Hunters – PCs all share a specialty in opposing a specific type of enemy. Perhaps they are undead hunters or demon hunters, maybe they specialize in unearthing shapechangers or the manipulations of the aboleth, perhaps they are all non-humans and seek to minimize the influence of the upstart humans on the world as best they can, or perhaps they specialize in providing security and aid for dragons against those who hunt them for their lairs. Whatever it is, they are all very, very good at dealing with a specific type of threat. Their services are often sought for such threats and those whom they oppose may even start building their own forces to oppose the PCs.
Variant – PCs instead specialize in a service such as stealth specialists, kidnappers or hostage rescue, transport specialists, or magical engineers.
NOTE: this type of campaign requires a bit more buy-in from the GM than most as a group of pirate hunters may be bored stiff if they find themselves stuck in the deserts of the Tomb-Nation of the Ancient Mummy Kings.

-TimD


1. Mostly home games up until about 6 months ago, have been doing a lot of PFS though (about 5 games a month), so probably mostly PFS at this point.

2. Too easy, I guess. More specifically, there is a lack of complexity which makes the entire "system" easily bypassed.

3. Again, it's a lack of complexity. Traps are even more binary than most of PF. I would love to see a better (optional) system where degrees of success and failure would change results.

4. Added comlexity, more examples, more "layers" of traps and more examples of how to use traps as only part of a challenge. More traps that change the environment, more traps that can't just be immediately ignored. Fewer options to arbitrarily "disarm" a trap. More reasons that Trapfinding should be useful. More "environmental" traps so that "perception, disable device, done" may be more of a standard rather than an absolute. More traps that result in effects which aren't just removed by the application of charges from Cure Light Wounds wands (or curse / disease / poison removal).

Honestly, traps are one of the areas I could see a 3PP doing very well for PF or maybe a "traps revisited" book with alternate systems from Paizo. I think that they are thematically critical to the type of game PF tries to be, but that it often falls short in the execution and the delivery of that theme.

-TimD

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