I played in a 3.5 Eberron game where the DM evidently introduced a Deck at level 1. (I came in at level 3). I personally avoided it like the plague, but it went okay. In fact, at the end that deck saved the party. At the very end of the adventure, we had rescued this lady from a sacrificial altar, and she agreed to show the party how to get to the Big Bad. She was unarmored and (as far as we could tell) just a local commoner. I was worried about her surviving: I cast Mage Armor on her as we went into the final dungeon.
So naturally when we get to the sanctum of the Big Bad, the helpless sacrificial victim turns out to be a polymorphed ancient blue dragon whose AC I had just boosted by four.
The party ranged from level 8 to a single level 12, with the average about 9. We stood no chance. The dragon's breath weapon took out two of us in the surprise round, including me.
So then the bard who had the deck says "whelp, I might as well pull a card". And it comes up: three wishes. Specifically, three *unlimited* wishes. So she wished for the dragon to turn into a hundred small inanimate gold statues of itself, which it did, and then she wished the two dead PCs back to life. I think she saved the third wish.
So that deck saved the day, because I'm pretty sure the GM would cheerfully have killed the lot of us otherwise.
Honestly, I think a lot of PC deaths are due to ill-advised tactical decisions by the players.
Example: I'm GM'ing Rise of the Runelords at the moment, and our sole PC death so far resulted from the player deciding to bull rush a goblin off the edge of Thistletop. I allowed him a DC 13 reflex save to avoid falling over himself, which he failed, and the rest is history.
Another example: in the Kingmaker campaign I'm playing in, our wizard (Wandering Moon) flew up to the top of a mountain with a large, nasty roc on it, intent on hooking a grappling hook for the rest of the party to climb up. He neglected to go invisible, was instantly spotted by the roc (who was home), and died in 2 rounds. If he'd thought to go invisible, he'd probably still be with us. We renamed the place Moon's End Peak in his honor.
Of course, making sound tactical decisions depends heavily on how experienced the player is. A party of newbies is likely to have a much rougher time of it than a group of old hands.
I'm a librarian. I love reading. And I've been a subscriber since Carrion Crown.
But I've never actually read any of the fiction in my APs. Why would I?
For world information, the articles detailing areas/deities/etc are more concise.
For flavor ... well, I've read an awful lot of fantasy novels. Definitely hundreds, probably over a thousand. Between that and the two master's degrees in medieval literature, I've got flavor covered.
More maps would be awesome, but they would probably be expensive to produce.
The full-time archer in our game has now lost three bows to Sunder, Warp Wood, and an unfortunate incident involving some green slime.
If this is at all likely to be a concern for you, I recommend two things:
1) Make your bow of greenwood, a special material from Ultimate Equipment. For a mere 150 gp over the price of a regular masterwork bow, your bow will be fire-resistant and able to heal itself if it gets broken. You're going to blowing a TON of gold on enchants for your bow; greenwood seems like a good insurance policy.
2) If that's not an option for some reason, carry a backup bow. A regular masterwork composite longbow with an appropriate STR rating is a comparatively cheap backup.
Will there be "training rooms" or similar where players can try fighting one another without risk of alignment change, criminal flagging, etc?
It would certainly make sense for people who enjoy PvP but would rather not be criminals. It would also make sense for newbies who want to try a few pvp fights without the risk of losing their stuff, to improve their odds of surviving the real thing out in the wilderness.
You could implement it as a building type ("training hall" or "dojo" if you don't mind the anachronism). Fights within the dojo don't incur alignment shift, reputation damage, criminal flags, etc. Also, it should be impossible to loot the corpse of anyone who dies inside a dojo. And the dojo should function as a soul-binding point, so that when you die you can get right back.
Alternatively, you could do it as a contract type, "Training". Ned Newbie can make a contract to fight Linda Longtimer, at a specified place and time. The authorities are notified, so no criminal flags get raised. Ned has to put up a small fee, which is placed in escrow. The fight runs until one of them is killed; then the winner has to guard the husk of the loser. If anybody manages to loot the husk, the fee is forfeit and the winner suffers some reputation loss for having failed to protect it. If the loser gets to the husk and regains all their gear, then Linda gets the fee, and the winner gets some added reputation for winning the fight and protecting the loser's husk.
Edit: oh, and if Linda kills Ned in the above scenario, then loots his husk herself, then the contract is void. Ned gets his fee back from escrow, and Linda incurs a criminal flag, rep loss, and alignment shift as usual.
I think it'll get funded handily, and I've pledged already.
I AM hoping, however, that they'll add a pledge level that consists of print + pdf with no MMO. Call it "Old Skool" level. And a higher one that does print + pdf + minis with no MMO ("Old Skool Maven", or something).
I had a barbarian once with an INT of 3 who became insanely jealous of the wizard's familiar. He wound up taking a level or sorcerer to get his own "talking birdy", named Jabbers. As a level 1 familiar, Jabbers had a higher INT score than Mook did, and thereafter did most of the talking.
That was a fun duo. Pity they were only around for a single one-shot. Maybe I'll get a chance to dust 'em off someday. (Probably I'd rebuild to use Eldritch Heritage to get the familiar, though.)
I once threw a 20th level Expert NPC into a campaign just for kicks. He was a chef who had taken enormous risks travelling all over the entire planet to learn every kind of cuisine you can think of. He had "Throw Anything" and "Catch Off Guard" for his habit of using common kitchen utensils, pots, and pans when forced into combat, and "Run" so that that wouldn't happen often. Everything else was devoted to Skill Focus feats focused on skills relevant to cooking and cuisine.
In the very first session of Burnt Offerings, I significantly expanded the festival by adding a bunch of competitions and events. Each PC got to participate in one event:
- the half-orc barbarian took second place in a wrestling contest. Prize: 50 gp.
- the cleric with craft (woodcarving) tied for first in a carving competition. Prize: 25 gp and a set of mwk woodworking tools.
- the ranger took second place in an archery competition. Prize: 50 gp. Pity he didn't get first place, the prize for that was a masterwork bow.
- the warlock (from the lands of the linnorm kings) found an old Ulfen man there and played hnefatafl with him. Prize: an ivory drinking mug, beautifully carved with depictions of warriors in combat with linnorms.
- the rogue, rather than competing, served as a judge in the cooking contest between the three local taverns. Happily, he picked Ameiko Kaijitsu's entry. The town council gave him an honorarium of 50 gp for his time.
- the druid steadfastly refused to participate in any contests. So instead, I had Madame Mvashti approach her with the cryptic message "Thorny briars do not hinder those who love the land", and handed her the "Briars" card from a Harrow deck. During the Gogmurt encounter, this card popped out of her belt pouch and granted her immunity to entanglement for the duration of the encounter.
In order to make Madame Mvashti sufficiently mysterious, I re-statted her as a high-level sorc/cleric/mystic theurge so she can do things like go invisible, appear suddenly, teleport away, and so on.
Also, Madame Mvashti was originally an Arodenite. She was a child seer of Aroden; he died when she was 8, and she's spent the rest of her life tending to the fulfillment of prophecies she made as a girl. Prophecy doesn't work as reliably as it once did, but even today she can see murkily into the future -- enough to know that it is not her path to defend Sandpoint from its aggressors, but to shepherd those who do. I figure she'll show up once per book and give one of the PCs a cryptic message and a Harrow card that will provide a helpful bonus in some future encounter.
I'm just waiting for someone to manage to ask her who she is so I can say "The last prophet of a dead god, child." ^_^
It looks like Vic answered that in the thread Cpt_kirstov linked. Shipping them flat doesn't save on shipping, and they'd likely get damaged in the process.
Sigh. I'll just have to keep looking for thematically appropriate cereal boxes for my APs:
Carrion Crown - Count Chocula
Skull and Shackles - Cap'n Crunch
Jade Regent - a Cheerios box because I have so far failed to acquire any Japanese cereal boxes.
Shattered Star - I'm leaning towards Lucky Charms.
I asked a similar question about Create Water, namely whether you could create gallons of water in mid-air in order to make it rain and/or put out a fire or similar.
James Jacob replied, and said:
James Jacobs wrote:
This is one case where the spell overrides the more general rules from the school description. Create Water can make it rain.
I'm inclined to think that the same reasoning applies. The spell states:
Dimension Door on the PRD wrote:
You instantly transfer yourself from your current location to any other spot within range. You always arrive at exactly the spot desired—whether by simply visualizing the area or by stating direction.
It says I can go to any spot I desire, and I always arrive exactly there. It doesn't say it has to be someplace safe to arrive at. In fact, it goes on later in the spell to talk about what happens if I arrive inside a solid object. "Arrival in a solid object" is clearly forbidden by the Conjuration school rules, but clearly allowed for by the spell itself. I'm entitled to try and D-Door straight through a mountain if I so choose, even if I know in advance that it won't work and I'll hurt myself trying.
So if I want to D-Door myself 680 feet straight up, cast Feather Fall and shout "WHEEEEEEEEE!", I can, because the specific spell trumps the general rule.
So the Dimension Dervish would therefore be entitled to try attacking an aerial critter. I'd probably apply a penalty on the attack roll for trying to attack while falling though.
In addition to the question about custom tokens, are there any plans to support custom maps?
It's not too hard to make a decent map using free pre-fab resources from places like the dundjinni.com forums and rpgmapshare.com. If I make such a thing, can I upload it for my players to use?
I'm not trying to discourage anyone. As I said, I think an MT would make quite a good support caster. If you're mostly casting buffs, utility spells, and healing, save DCs are irrelevant. And that extra support could easily mean the difference between survival and TPK in a long drawn-out fight, or when you're forced to handle several complicated encounters in a row without rest.
I kind of hesitate to mention this, 'cause it's a little cheesy, but ... the Eclectic Training and Esoteric Training Guild rules in Inner Sea Magic (p. 22) appear to offer a way to get a Mystic Theurge with full casting in one class, and near-full casting in the other.
Eclectic Training is a Fame reward (at 5 Fame) that boosts your caster level by +1 in one class. And it specifies that this bonus includes "the number of spells you know and can cast per day". When you get Esoteric Training at 35 Fame, the bonus increases to +3, and you get to add a second class at +1 for the same benefits.
So a Wiz 3/Cleric 3/MT 3 with 35 fame in a guild could cast as a 9th-level wizard and a 7th-level cleric. Or the other way around, depending on which class you pick for the bonus first. Add Magical Knack for the class that gets the lower bonus and your effective CL would be equal to your HD in both classes (though spells known and per day would still be 2 levels behind in the slower class).
All of which is contingent on the GM agreeing to allow the guild rules in your game, and it'd probably need a good bit of backstory establishing a suitable guild identity and Fame checks. I'd probably allow it in my game, but the Fame checks would be difficult (especially at lower levels) and the guild would probably require you to complete occasional side-quests.
Frankly, though, it might be easier to just ask to play a gestalt character and be done with it. :-Þ
My take is that Druid would get the movement mode -up to- base form's speed, but not above it?
Correct. The spell does not entitle you to move faster than a natural example of the beast you've become. The movement has to be listed in both the spell and the animal's stat block, and you get the slower speed of the two.
Am I right in assuming shapeshifter gets the standard array of natural attacks of the form he attains? I.e. Would a Druid using Wild Shape (Beast Shape II) to turn into a Lion, in addition to gaining Pounce, gain Bite (1D8) and 2 Claws (1D4) ?
Yes. When becoming a lion, you do in fact grow teeth and claws, and therefore have the attacks.
Check out the guide to wild shape that I wrote.
I think Evil Lincoln has hit the nail on the head about the tension and release thing.
The worst fight I ever had was this (Kingmaker spoilers):
The fight with the Quickling in the ruined elven tower during Book 2. The GM felt it wasn't challenging enough, so he "spiced it up" by giving the quickling a ring that let hime cast Vanish, usable an unlimited number of times per day. Oh, and did I mention that it was *quickened* Vanish? So the quicklings attack sequence went something like: swift action Vanish, Spring Attack to run in and hit someone, then run away.
When our Wizard hit him with Glitterdust, he ran away and stayed out in the forest till the spell wore off, then returned and resumed the same procedure. We didn't have any other anti-invisibility measures. Readying actions to attack him when he popped into visibility did nothing, because he was too clever about choosing his approaches to avoid triggering the actions.
We finally got him based solely on the luck of the dice -- he failed a Will save against a Sleep spell and we coup-de-graced him before his natural invisibility could kick in.
In short, we just couldn't DO anything against our opponent. In-game, the fight went to 43 rounds. Out of game, that combat alone took ELEVEN HOURS spread across two full sessions. We left the first session intensely frustrated, and by the end of the second session (8 solid hours) we were so tired and vexed that there was no sense of accomplishment at all. The general feeling was not so much "Hooray, we got 'im!" as "Thank god that's over."
By contrast the same GM ran a random encounter with a pelluda last session that was a tough fight. We lost our wizard to CON damage, and half the party's horses. But the combat ended by the end of the session, and we all felt great for having stuck it out and won. Even the dead wizard was pleased, since he'll be raised at the next major town.
Obviously you can't plan for everything. But for a stalemate, like the dragon fight, perhaps a valid approach would be for the dragon to get frustrated and leave the party, roaring out something along the lines of "NEXT TIME!" And then let them find a small cache of treasure -- not the dragon's main hoard, but just a small backup hoard, so that they get a reward for having fended off the dragon even if they know he's not out of the picture yet.
I am happy to report that my worst GM wasn't that bad. He had started in 1st ed way back when. The first game I ever played he GM'ed, and it was a 1st ed adventure converted to 3.5 rules.
Anyway, by the time I got to know him, he was never quite satisfied by any group or adventure. Nothing could ever measure up to the glorious adventures of his memory. He was forever yearning after some ill-defined feeling of shared experience that he'll probably never find again.
It's sad -- no one can save him from his crippling nostalgia.
I seriously thought about the $100 level, because the price per mini for that is amazingly low. But ... I don't paint. I don't WANT to paint. In fact, I absolutely REFUSE to paint. I already spend too much time on game prep as it is.
So I pledged at the $15 level to get a batch of generic goblins, kobolds, and rats. Nobody cares whether your rats are painted or not. Maybe they're albino anyway.
Things to think about when prepping:
1) If you can take the time to draw the map out before the session begins, DO. It saves time in-game.
2) If any of your villains are going to be summoning critters, e.g. with Summon Nature's Ally or Summon Monster or whatever, take a moment to decide what KIND of critter in advance, pull up the critter's stat block, and have a suitable mini on hand (if you play with minis). That will speed up combat because you don't have to go searching through books for stat blocks.
3) Consider making your initiative order public. Put it out there for the whole group to see. Then make a point of telling your players "When the person in front of you is taking their turn, you should plan what you're going to do, maybe even roll dice and do math in advance." The turns move more quickly when people have done their thinking before their turn arrives. Of course, sometimes plans change in response to events, but a lot of the time you can anticipate.
4) Consider rolling initiative at the beginning of the session. When you come to the first combat, go immediately into initiative order using that roll. This heightens the effect, because there's no delay between spotting a monster and starting combat. Then, roll a fresh initiative at the END of combat.
5) Tablets are awesome. You can hold them up and show pretty pictures of NPCs and monsters to people. If you're using an Adventure Path, you can use Nitro PDF viewer to pull all those images out of the adventure's PDF in one fell swoop with the handy "Extract Images" button. It even preserves the opacity at the edges of the images correctly, which is nice. Anyway, put 'em on your tablet and pull up the one you want when you need it. Having that picture will save a thousand words, and the expressions on your players' faces when they SEE a monster they've never encountered for the first time is well worth the time it takes to get the images out and organize them.
In my last Runelords session, my players failed their Knowledge checks to identify a Sinspawn. None of them had encountered one before, so there was no player knowledge for metagaming. But based on the picture I held up on my tablet, they jumped immediately to the conclusion that it was undead. Many hilariously wrong-headed but totally in-character tactical flubs ensued.
Got a new guide:
A handy how-to guide for using wild shape or other polymorph abilities/spells. Not an optimization guide exactly -- more focused on helping people work through all the changes that need to be applied when they're changing shape.
Basically core only -- it refers to a couple of spells from other sources by name, but the discussion is focused on the core mechanics of changing shape.
One of my players is running her first druid, and had never dealt with wildshape before. She found the rules for what exactly she gets and loses when she changes shape fairly complex, and asked me if I knew of any guides on how to do it. I didn't, and couldn't find one, so I wrote it. I give you:
What it is: an attempt to get all the rules for this in ONE place, and in the order you need to apply them, to simplify the process of making a character sheet for a shape-changed version of a PC (or other creature).
What it is NOT: an optimization guide. There is no discussion of what forms offer the most damage per second, highest number of attacks, or whatever else. I figure it's up to the player to work out what shapes they like.
I hope you all find this useful. If you find any typos, errors, missing things, or have any suggestions, please let me know in this thread and I'll update the guide.
"Sweet Desna, what is that thing?" -- Telvin Merison, dwarven ranger, immediately after failing a Knowledge check to recognize a Chuul, which proceeded to paralyze him, drag him into a river, and eat him.
"A 4 doesn't save against Slay Living, does it?" -- Alexei Voinovich, human wizard. Moments later his cat familiar Mishka, maddened with grief, charged the cleric who did it. She hit, dealt exactly 1 point of damage ... and took him down. ^_^
- Your weight (for purposes of damage rolls, your STR modifier is +0 regardless of your actual Strength score; you count as Tiny for purposes of determining when you are checked or blown away by wind; and are permanently under the effect of Feather Fall).
- Your hair (character loses all hair of any kind, including eyebrows, and cannot regrow it)
- Your grace (-4 penalty on DEX based skill checks and ranged attacks)
- Your ancestry (character is reincarnated, as the spell; if they roll the same race they started as, roll again)
- Seven misty mornings (the next seven mornings that have mist, the character remains asleep until the mist dissipates, and cannot be woken)
Things for sale:
- A clear mind (immunity to mind-affecting effects)
- An enemy's hatred (specific enemy affected by Calm Emotions when within 30 feet of you; when that enemy is within 30 feet, you gain the benefits of a Rage spell)
- Sharp eyes (Alertness as a bonus feat)
- Silken dreams (once per week as a spell-like ability, you can attempt to trap a target creature in dreams; Will negates, DC = 10 + 1/2 your character level + CHA mod. On failure, the target's dreams turn into a maze made of richly embroidered silk and brocade tapestries depicting scenes from their own life. The creature does not wake up, but does not age, and is also protected from all harm by a cocoon of enchanted silk cloth. You can have only one such creature trapped at any one time; attempting to trap another releases the previous target. The target can also be freed with Break Enchantment, Limited Wish, Wish, or Miracle. You cannot release a trapped creature without trying to capture another. Creatures that do not sleep and those immune to magical sleep effects cannot be targeted with this ability.)
It occurs to me that many of the things that count as prices could also be available for sale. For example, I listed "Your skill with [weapon group]" as a price in an earlier post, the price being that you lose proficiency with all weapons in that group. That could easily be turned into something for sale: you could buy proficiency with a weapon group, at the cost of one of the other prices listed. And so on.
- The dawn of your next birthday (surprise, you're a vampire!)
- Hope (permanently under the effect of crushing despair)
- 48 breaths (8 rounds of holding your breath, collected the next time you're in danger underwater)
- Your old age (you perish immediately on reaching "old" category)
- Your youth (immediately advance to middle age)
- Your birth (your parents, relatives, and friends immediately lose all memory of you)
- Your vitality (you cannot heal naturally, and magical healing is only 1/2 effective)
- Your death (you can never die. When in negative hit points, you are disabled as normal. Once you reach venerable status, old age stat modifications accrue at an exponential rate. See: Tithonus)
- Your skill with [weapon group] (lose proficiency with all weapons of the specified weapon group, and can never regain it in any way)
- Your voice (character is mute)
- Your music (character can never use perform skill; receives no benefit from musical bardic performances, though dance would still work)
- The love of children (character will be automatically feared and hated by every immature creature he or she ever encounters, including his or her own offspring)
- 2 minutes of soft breeze (environment around character becomes airless at inconvenient time)
- That which lies over the horizon (character is permanently under the effects of Dimensional Anchor; on death, he or she becomes a ghost; if the ghost is destroyed, character's soul is irrevocably lost, and never comes to Pharasma's Boneyard for judgement).
- An egg (the next time the character encounters the nest of a rare creature, e.g. a dragon, linnorm, pegasus, or other egg-laying creature, he or she comes under the effect of a Geas to steal one of the eggs and hurl it into the nearest lake, where it will be caught by an arm mysteriously rising from the waters and drawn down into the depths.)
- Thrice the value of your true love's sighs (the next three people the character comes to love will die.)
Familiars get a lot more useful at level 5, when they can talk to you. At that point, they can make perception checks just like you do, and if they see something, they can tell you about it. E.g., "Boss! Somebody sneaking up on you from behind!"
They can use any skill that you have ranks in, and that they are physically capable of using. Example: a cat cannot use the "Fly" skill, even if you have ranks. But, your cat has a brain, and a decent INT score by mid levels, so they can use any Knowledge skill you've got. I had a wizard once whose cat familiar (Mishka) repeatedly saved the party's bacon by knowing something that nobody else did. It was great fun too:
Me: Mishka rolls a ... wow, 29 on that Knowledge (Arcana) check.
GM: HA! She says: "meow meow meow meow meow meow, meow"
Me: Oh really!
Me: You don't say!
GM: Meow meow meow.
Me: Hey guys, listen to this!
GM: (explains whatever)
Fair enough. And yeah, I don't think "greed" played any role in the pricing here. If anything, I'm inclined to attribute it more to Paizo and WizKids feeling out this niche market for the first time. Chalk it up to a learning experience.
And yes, back to 40-ish size sets, please!
Holy sticker shock, Batman!
After the 15% Pathfinder Advantage discount, Heroes & Monsters cost me $233.74 plus $16.68 shipping, for a total of $250.42. But a case bundle of this set is going to cost more than twice that, after the discount and before shipping.
It took nearly a month of deliberation before deciding to proceed with the Heroes & Monsters purchase. It was at the very outer limit of my spending range for a product that I will use once every couple of weeks at best. I appreciate Paizo's commitment to quality. If this had been spread out across two sets separated by a few months, I might even have gone for it.
There are a lot of sweet minis in this set. But at that price, all at once? No.
In grad school, one of the classes I took focused on medieval cartography (across multiple cultures, not just Europe). One of the things I learned about those early maps is that they are VERY different from modern maps. Take a look at the Wikipedia article on early world maps:
It has lots of images of medieval and ancient maps (though many of the older ones, particularly from antiquity, are actually much more recent "reconstructions" based on descriptions, since the originals haven't survived). If you look over them, you'll note several things:
1) They are often schematic rather than representative. Take a look at the Tabula Peutingeriana, a 13th century copy of a 4th century map showing the public road system the Romans built. The focus of the map is on destinations: where they are in relation to each other, as you would experience it walking between them, rather than giving trying to depict distinct locations in relation to the land mass around them. It shows you rough distances and which turns you need to take. It's a map of a walker's experience of the roads, not of the land.
2) They are frequently expressions of ideology more than of geography. Look at Isidore of Seville's map of the world, which is a "T and O" map. It places the whole world in a large circle centered on Jerusalem (the O part) with a "T" formed by the mediterranean ocean. East is at the top. A map like this is not a map of the world; it's a map of a worldview, meant to express the organization of reality in religious and philosophical terms. This was the dominant model of map making through most of the Middle Ages, and the same kind of thing was common in other cultures (there was a particularly beautiful Sanskrit one I remember looking at in class, but I can't seem to find it again).
3) For those maps that do attempt to portray the actual shape of the land, the end result is rough at best. Scale and perspective vary wildly depending on the accuracy of the map maker's information. Often, coastal maps designed for navigators of ships were more accurate, because the navigators invested huge amounts of attention on working things out. "Lost at sea" is officially bad.
4) The accuracy of the maps tends to diminish the further you get from the location of the map maker. The old saw about medieval maps saying "Here be dragons" isn't entirely accurate -- the first recorded instance of that phrase I have been able to find dates to the late 1500s, where "Hic sunt gigantes pugnantes cum draconibus" was written over what appears to be South America. Earlier maps did have fantastic creatures, but mostly in the margins. In-map illustrations were mostly of locations, rulers, typical people of the area. The Hereford Mappa Mundi of the 13th century is an excellent example of this.
Lastly, maps were rare and expensive throughout the medieval period. They took a lot of materials (colored inks, large high-quality pieces of parchment, tools), and it took a lot of time, knowledge, and painstaking effort to make one.
With that in mind, let's turn to implications for the game world.
There are three things to consider:
1) Availability -- can the PCs get one?
On availability, Golarion is very different from Earth. In much of the world, the level of culture is more advanced than the medieval period, particularly close around the inner sea region where it seems to be something like late renaissance or early enlightenment. Once a map is made it can probably be copied more easily -- back in 3.5 there was a cantrip called Amanuensis for copying non-magical writing, which probably would work on maps as well. I think there's even a cartographer's kit planned for Ultimate Equipment. And engravings of maps could easily be mass produced in areas that have printing presses.
That said, maps are not going to be equally available everywhere. A tiny village in the middle of nowhere is not going to have a map of the world, or even the local area. The locals know where local stuff is. They live there. So, for availability, I'd tie it to the settlement size chart from the core rulebook. Using that chart, local maps would be available in Village or larger settlements. Regional maps in Large Town or larger. World maps in Large City or Metropolis. In countries where printing presses are available, decrease that by two size settlement categories.
The quality of the map depends on the sources of information available to the map maker. A well-traveled cleric of Desna with access to Wind Walk could probably make quite a good map of large areas, both from her personal experience, and from the advantage of being able to fly up and get a bird's eye view. (But since Desna's joy in travel seems to revolve around discovery, I suspect Desnans tend not to make maps very much. Knowing what to expect diminishes theh experience for future travelers). A Diviner wizard with Overland Flight prepped could get much the same effect, and wouldn't likely have any particular compunctions about map-making itself.
Local and regional maps are likely to fairly accurate, then. World maps are a lot harder -- it's a big planet. The map maker will need to rely on reports from third parties for areas further away. The further off, the less the accuracy.
In game terms, I should add, a "local" map shows a small area -- ranging from about 1 dungeon up to 1 city. A "regional" map shows, essentially, one country (and maybe a bit from the borders of its neighbors). A "world" map shows either a continent (Avistan, Garund), or a the whole area covered by one of the primers (e.g. you would need separate world maps for Tian Xia and for the Inner Sea).
That brings us to mechanics. What could you use a map for on Golarion? The following things come to mind:
- Knowledge (Geography) skill checks
I would treat this as a bonus to the PC's skill check, rather than replacing the skill check. If a map can replace a skill check, there's a strong incentive to ignore the skill altogether -- all it takes is some gold and then you're as good as somebody who put ranks in. The risk that the map might get damaged, or stolen, isn't a serious consideration. Anyway, players often get upset with the GM if their gear is stolen or damaged, and I'd rather not encourage situations where that can arise.
So the map would give a circumstance bonus on a skill check. The price should rise sharply as the bonus increases. I initially thought of doing it like Masterwork tools (+2, +4, maximum +6 bonus), but after some thought I compared the prices to +5 skill items from the wondrous items. A map is a mundane item, but if it has the same effect as a magic item, the price should vary similarly. For example, a Cloak of Elvenkind (+5 Stealth) has a price of 2,500 gp. Both Stealth and Kn(Geography) checks are fairly situational, so the two should be closely in line with each other. But magic items give flat bonuses in +5 increments, and a mundane item should offer smaller increments (for earlier entry) and a lower cap (there's a limit to how much useful info you can cram onto a map). So I settled on increments of +1, +3, and +5. The price should start fairly low, but rise sharply with the quality of the bonus. So I'm thinking of a formula like:
Market price for a map = map base price * 2 to the N, where N is the bonus
Base price for a local map: 15 gp
Using that formula for each map type, it works out to the following prices:
regional map +1 -- 70 gp * (2 to the 1st) = 140 gp
world map +1 -- 80 gp * (2 to the 1st) = 160 gp
Local maps are fairly cheap, but also fairly limited in applicability. How often do you need to make a skill check to navigate a city, say? But it would be in the interest of local merchants to produce local maps showing their businesses, in order to draw in customers. I think this works okay.
Regional maps and world maps are fairly close in price. That's because many campaigns -- especially adventure paths -- are restricted to one country. Having a high quality map of Ustalav would be very handy in Carrion Crown, for example. In that case, a world map isn't actually that much more useful than a regional one. But other campaigns do some serious globe-hopping. Having good maps of Avistan and Tian Xia would be very helpful in Jade Regent. So I decided to set their price fairly close to one another, with country maps a little cheaper because it's easier to gather the information needed to produce one.
Just because it caused me added pain, I would like to point out that although composing text in Polaris Office on Android is a lot easier than doing it Opera, you cannot actually do a select-all to copy it back to Opera. I had to email this to myself, only to discover that Polaris-generated .doc files crash LibreOffice. Opening it in Notepad++ and doing a search-replace for \x00 to get rid of all the NUL objects was the only way to salvage the text.
So there you have it. And there went my morning. Hope someone finds this useful, or at least interesting.
Hmm, okay, how about this?
1) The PCs anchor in a small bay.
2) Akamai and Nalukea, two sisters, are in the area gathering coconuts when they spot the junk coming in. They drop the nuts and flee to the jungle, where they observe long enough to see strange people aboard ship. Then they head back to the village to alert everyone.
3) Chief Kamoku listens to what they have to say and taps three hunters (Kaneho'omalu, Hani and Ululani) to go investigate while everybody else does standard raid prep. You might make one of the scouts a Druid 1 instead of a Ranger, to get an animal companion and a little spell casting into the mix on their side.
Assume the girls have pretty good eye sight, and that it takes a while to organize the boat to shore. The scouts arrive at roughly the same time the PCs finish landing, and can observe from hiding places in the jungle without being seen themselves (they've got good Stealth and know the area).
4) You'll need to give the PCs a few things to do in the meantime. So picture the area having a few points of interest.
A) The coconuts. A DC 15 Perception check finds the abandoned nuts in a net-basket at the base of a tree, so it's clear the area is inhabited. You could have some fun with them trying to get the coconuts open; it's actually quite hard if you don't know how -- the trick is to peel off the outer husk rather than trying to bash it. DC 18 Kn(Nature) or Survival to figure it out. There are also clear tracks of two people in the sand leading away from the nuts -- DC 10 Survival to follow them to the edge of the jungle, after that DC 15 in the firmer soil of the jungle. If they try tracking the girls back into the forest, the scouts are likely to assume they're hostile and send one member back to alert the village that it's a raiding party, while the other two try to slow the PCs down by harrying them with ranged attacks (slings probably) and possibly herding them towards natural hazards.
B) There is a small pillar of rock at the edge of the beach opposite the coconuts, offering a pretty fair view of the area (DC 15 Climb check to reach the top, 20 feet up). The locals know to avoid it, because it's also home to a small nest of 3 venomous snakes who like sunning themselves on the rocks. There's a 50% chance that a PC reaching up over the last edge of the rock will accidentally grab a snake, who will of course bite the PC. If it hits, PC makes a DC 12 Reflex save to avoid falling (20 feet, 2d6 damage). Since there's comparatively soft sand below, treat falling damage as non-lethal, and a successful Acrobatics check negates the damage. The Scouts will be amused at the ineptitude of the interlopers and probably decide they're not hostile.
C) Kapu trail. A DC 18 Perception check reveals a narrow trail leading into the jungle from the rear of the beach. This leads to the ancestral graves about half a mile inland. Walking on the trail is kapu, forbidden, unless you are ritually cleansed. There is a small stone statue grimacing just inside the path, with its hand outstretched in warning. There is a small basin in the top of its head full of water. Detect Magic would show that it's holy water (blessed by the local spirits). Venturing past the statue without sprinkling yourself with the water and a moment of silence breaks the law. A DC 12 Kn(Religion) check will reveal that it's probably not cool to follow the path, though you don't know why. A DC 18 Kn(Religion) check lets you figure out that you need to spritz yourself with the water first. If the PCs break kapu, the angered scouts will attack them, forgetting even to send back a report to the village. If the PCs find it but back off, the scouts don't attack, but don't approach quite yet either; it's a point in the PC's favor though. If the PCs figure out the significance of the water and anoint themselves before venturing on the trail, the scouts conclude they are honorable people and approach in a friendly manner to invite them back to the village.
D) Dire Boar. There is a dire boar in the forest surrounding the beach, minding its own business. If the PCs go poking about in a random spot, they'll probably encounter it and get attacked. If this happens, the scouts will recognize it as a known menace that has killed a couple of villagers in the past. They'll throw caution to the wind and jump in to help the PCs after a couple of rounds. Having a druid as one of the scouts would be handy (a Cure Light Wounds spell goes a long way towards saying "I'm friendly" in any language), and the Favored Enemy (Animal) for the other two would also be helpful.
Soooo ... there are a handful of encounters you can plop down on a map of a beach and leave it up to the PCs whether their behavior provokes a hostile or friendly response from the scouts.
I rolled up a Sorcerer with the Sage bloodline who carries a spell book around with him to fool people into thinking he's a wizard. He put an Arcane Mark on it, filled it with naughty limericks, and blew a whole bunch of gold to cast Illusory Page over everything with an Explosive Runes built into the cover.
I'm hoping he'll get captured someday so he can say "Oh no, don't take my spellbook, I'll be POWERLESS". Bluff is a Sorcerer class skill. Boy will they be surprised. If it ever happens.
Interesting. For my game, I'm ditching the Spirit Planchette in favor of three scrolls of Detect Undead and a book entitled The Compleat Medium: being a Most Excellent and Thorough introduction to the Noble Art of Communion with the Restless Dead, which explains the following rules.
As a full-round action, a PC under the effects of Detect Undead may attempt to commune with the spirit that animates a haunt. This may only be done when the haunt is active or resetting.
The haunt and the communer (i.e. the PC attempting communion) make opposed Charisma checks. For purposes of this check, use the haunt's CR as its Charisma bonus. If the PC is suffering damage from the haunt while attempting to commune with it, she takes a -2 penalty on her check.
If the communer wins this opposed check, she is temporarily possessed by the spirit animating the haunt, but is able to force it to speak through her mouth of the circumstances that created it, and of what action or circumstance would lay it to rest. If the communer loses the opposed check, she is afflicted by Confusion (as the spell) for a number of rounds equal to the haunt's CR. In the event of a tie, the attempt fails with no ill effect to the communer.
Regardless of success or failure, the communer cannot try again until 24 hours have passed. Other PCs are free to make an attempt. Certain unusually powerful haunts may be immune to communion. In this case, the attempt always fails, and the PC may or may not suffer ill effects from the attempt (GM's discretion).
The book won't describe it, of course, but a similar procedure can be used with the cursed items in the vault. Once any of the curses has been triggered, a DC 15 Kn (Religion) or (Arcana) check should be sufficient for the PCs to realize that they can try this; or Vesorianna can suggest it at any time after they meet her.
Communing with the Cursed Items:
The Cursed Items
Since the five cursed items are tied to the primary spirits haunting the prison, the PCs may attempt to commune with the items. If the spirit in question has a normal CHA bonus higher than its CR, use that for the opposed Charisma check; otherwise use its CR as its CHA bonus.
On a successful communion, the PC is able to reveal the item's properties and drawbacks. On a tie OR a failed check, the communer suffers negative consequences that vary according to the item:
The Bloody Handaxe: if the PC fails the opposed CHA check, she is compelled to attack the nearest party member with the axe for 5 rounds, aiming for the neck. Treat the PC as proficient with handaxes, even if she isn't ordinarily. If any of the attacks hits, the curse is triggered as normal (in this case, continue to treat the PC as proficient with the handaxe until the curse is lifted).
The Holy Symbols: if the PC fails the opposed CHA check, she is targetd by an Inflict Moderate Wounds spell (DC 17 Will save for half). The DC is based on Father Charlatan's CR (10 + spell level 2 + 5 CR).
The Moldy Spellbook: on a failed CHA check, the PC begins bleeding from the mouth. The PC takes 1d2 damage for each letter in her name, and the splashes of blood she coughs out spell out her name on the floor.
The Smith's Hammer: on a failed CHA check, the PC is compelled to bash her own skull with the hammer for 3 rounds. Treat the PC as proficient with light hammers for the duration of this effect.
The Tarnished Silver Flute: on failed CHA check, the PC is compelled to make a Perform (Wind Instruments) check on the flute, with a +10 bonus. This triggers the usual effects of the flute's curse, with no Will save to avoid the effect. In addition, anyone in earshot of the communer must make a Will save (DC = the communer's Perform [Wind Instruments] check). Any listeners who fail their Will saves are Fascinated and can take no actions until the music stops. If the communer is prevented from playing through the end of the piece -- for example, by a party member wresting the flute from her -- then she learns nothing from the communion attempt. However, if she plays through to the end of the piece, falls unconscious and is stabilized by her allies, she automatically knows the full details of the flute's properties due to prolonged exposure.
It helps that one of the group is a Menhir Savant and thus permanently under the effects of Detect Undead. He's quite smug about it. I'm probably going to give him a penalty on saves against Insanity in Wake of the Watcher due to his heightened sensitivity to outsiders, fey, undead, and such. Bwa ha.
I would allow a player with the Improved Familiar feat to apply a template to their existing familiar rather than picking a whole new one -- definitely a CR +1 template, or a CR +2 if the one they wanted seemed reasonable to me.
What? You mean not everyone carries three bear traps, a portable alchemist's lab, and a giant sack of reagents like our Wizard does?
Well, no. Let's be honest. He carries a LOT more than that. I swear he's got at least one of every mundane or alchemical item on every equipment list ever made.
He's got a STR of 12, but his Muleback Cords give him a +8 bonus to that for purposes of carrying stuff. And then he casts Ant Haul on himself every day, giving himself an effective Strength score of 60 for purposes of calculating carrying capacity.
We don't ford rivers any more; we run slings under the horses and he just flies us across, two at a time.
I have a suggestion:
Start a group composed of all (or mostly) new players.
Starting with newbies means you can train them up right. And if you're GM'ing, you know the rules well enough that you can teach them. If something comes up that you're not sure of, say "I'm not sure. Let's play it like this for tonight, and I'll check on it and get you a definite ruling later." That will demonstrate both your authority ("we're doing this now") and your fairness ("I'll check the details later for future reference").
New players are less likely to give you back talk. At the start, they don't know the rules well enough to dispute your interpretation. And by the time they've learned the rules that well, you will already have established your role as the judge and jury. You may even have a little plaque to put out in front of GM screen that says "Final Arbiter of All Rules Questions."
It could be helpful to have just one more experienced player in the group. Pick someone you trust, who respects you, and let them act as a kind of Deputy GM who can help the newbies with their characters when you get busy.
Introduction of two new PCs.
GM: Late in the afternoon, you come across a camp site. There are two people there, a man and a woman. The woman is cooking something, and you notice she has to feel around a bit to find a spoon.
New PC (the male): I jump on a rock, strike a pose and say, "What ho, strangers? I am Flynn, the magnificent!". A beam of sunlight flashes from my teeth, and my hair flows in the breeze.
Old PC: "Well, that settles it ... she must be blind."
*table cracks up*
One of the other players in my group expressed interest in taking the Dragon Disciple prestige class. Unfortunately, she's a sorcerer with the fey bloodline, and therefore can't take it without basically rebuilding the character to use the draconic bloodline. At this point, that would require some pretty serious retconning to account for things she's already done, so it's not in the cards.
That being the case, I took a stab at making a Fey Disciple prestige class. Here's the class description, with discussion of my reasoning afterwards. Any feedback (particularly on balance issues) would be welcome.
=============== Begin class description
Hit die: d6.
Race: Any non-fey.
Skills: Knowledge (Nature) 5 ranks.
Spellcasting: Ability to cast 1st-level arcane spells without preparation. If the character has sorcerer levels, she must have the fey bloodline. If the character gains levels of sorcerer after taking this class, she must take the fey bloodline.
Class skills: The fey disciple's class skills (and the key ability for each) are:
Skill Ranks at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier.
Fort poor, Reflex good, Will good
Spell progression same as Dragon Disciple (spell casting increases all levels except 1, 5, and 9).
Abilities by level:
Fey Blood: A fey disciple adds her level to her sorcerer levels when determining the powers gained from her bloodline. If the fey disciple does not have levels of sorcerer, she instead gains bloodline powers of the fey bloodline, using her fey disciple level as her sorcerer level to determine the bonuses gained. This ability does not grant bonus spells to a sorcerer unless she possesses spell slots of an appropriate level. Such bonus spells are automatically granted if the sorcerer gains spell slots of the spell's level.
Damage Reduction (Ex): As her fey blood stirs, a fey disciple begins to manifest more sensitivity to cold iron. At 1st level, a fey disciple gains damage reduction 1/cold iron. At 4th level a fey disciple's DR increases to 3/cold iron, and again at 7th level to 5/cold iron. This DR does not stack with the DR granted by the Soul of the Fey sorcerer bloodline ability.
Ability Boost (Ex): As a fey disciple gains levels in this prestige class, her ability scores increase as noted on Table: Fey Disciple. These increases stack and are gained as if through level advancement.
Bloodline Feat: Upon reaching 2nd level, and every three levels thereafter, a fey disciple receives one bonus feat, chosen from the fey bloodline's bonus feat list.
Fey Magic: A fey disciple's growing connection to the natural world grants her access to magic not normally available to sorcerers. At 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th levels she may select two spells from the Druid spell list and add them to her list of spells known. These are in addition to the spells she would ordinarily gain from level advancement. The selected spells must be of a level the fey disciple can cast. The selected spells are treated as arcane rather than divine spells, including suffering from arcane spell failure chance due to armor, but function normally as per their spell descriptions in all other respects.
Unearthly Grace (Su): At 5th level, A fey disciple adds one half her Charisma modifier as a racial bonus to all her saving throws, and as a deflection bonus to her Armor Class. At 10th level the bonus equals her full Charisma modifier.
Nature Form (Sp): At 9th level, a fey disciple may assume the form of a plant or animal. This ability functions as Plant Shape I or Beast Shape I, respectively. For purposes of this ability, treat the fey disciple's Caster Level as equal to her effective sorcerer level for purposes of her bloodline. She may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 plus her CHA modifier.
=============== End class description
And now some discussion of my reasoning.
The key thing about a dragon disciple is that they're slowly becoming more like a dragon: they get stronger, tougher, and acquire draconic abilities like breath weapons, wings, blindsense, and so on. That manifests in the form of:
- An increased hit die -- d12 instead of d6
I figured fey would work similarly. But of course fey have different attributes than dragons. I spent some time reading through the Fey creature type description in the bestiary, plus a few sample fey monsters (dryad, nymph, mite, satyr). It seems to me that the signature abilities of the fey (in terms of game mechanics) are:
- They're attractive and forceful (high CHA, good will saves)
It didn't make sense to give a Fey Disciple a hit die increase. The default hit die for fey in the bestiary is a d6, which is identical to the default sorcerer hit die. However, fey generally get 6 + INT skill points per level, so I gave them that instead of a larger hit die.
Fey Disciples get ability boosts in the same way that Dragon Disciples do, except that instead of STR/STR/CON/INT, they get CHA/CHA/DEX/INT. Dragons are much more likely to get physical than fey, who rely on force of personality, magic, and speed.
Fey Disciples slowly gain DR bypassed by cold iron. This is meant to be equivalent to the increase in natural armor that dragon disciples get, but it doesn't stack -- each increase in DR replaces the older value -- because DR is basically always in effect until you run into somebody with the appropriate weapon or a generic +3 weapon.
The breath weapon, wings, and blindsense abilities that dragon disciples get didn't have any direct fey equivalent. So instead I gave them three abilities that reflect an increased connection to nature:
1) They get to add a few Druid spells to their spell list.
Druids get their spells from nature, so it made sense to limit spell selection to those lists. Note that this potentially gives the Fey Disciple access to healing spells, which could be very helpful.
Unearthy Grace came straight out of the description for Nymphs. It's a pretty strong ability (especially for a high CHA character, which any Fey Disciple would be!) so I toned it down slightly by granting half the ability at 5th level, and the rest at 10th. Even so, I'm still uncertain that it's properly balanced for a PC.
I wasn't sure what to do about base attack bonus. By default, Fey get 1/2 BAB progression, which is the same as a sorcerer. So my initial impulse was to keep that. But taking away three levels of spellcasting AND not giving them a BAB increase felt punitive compared to the dragon disciple -- dragon disciples lose three caster levels, but get 3/4 BAB plus all the other goodies. At the same time, using a 1/2 BAB progression and granting them full spell progression felt like too much -- those caster levels are the primary penalty a PC would take for going into the prestige class. So I stuck with a 3/4 BAB, as in Dragon Disciple.
It seems pretty powerful to me, but then, so is Dragon Disciple. Things that might be done to nerf it a bit include, say, using 4 + INT skill points instead of 6 + INT, giving only 1 Druid spell at each of the Fey Magic levels instad of 2.
Alexander Kilcoyne wrote:
Question 1- Is there any way to turn all labels on (so all the building names are visible at once).
There are two ways. The first and easiest is to print it out; all labels should be visible in the print-out.
To get the same effect in the digital copy, find this line in the HEAD of the document:
<link rel="stylesheet" href="building-labels-print.css" type="text/css" media="print" />
Replace media="print" with media="all". Ordinarily this style sheet only applies when you print; changing it to "all" means it'll apply that code on-screen as well.
Alexander Kilcoyne wrote:
Question 2- Any word on the rubble/destroyed/damaged buildings? This would be awesome.
Still working on that one.
Alexander Kilcoyne wrote:
Question 3- I have made my PC's city by using the toolkit and I can view it using firefox from my desktop. What would be the best place to share i with my players? I don't particularily want to print screen it as I want the labels to be viewable, and I don't have my own website.
Bigrin's method (save complete web page) should work. Alternatively, you could just zip up the whole directory and send it to them that way.
I have created an HTML and CSS based toolkit for making city maps. It uses the building images from the Kingmaker Player's Guide, some basic HTML and some moderately complex CSS. Using it requires minor editing of the HTML. You shouldn't need to touch the CSS.
For an example, check out the Vessilion Commerce District. Move your mouse over a building to see its label. Buildings can be rotated by clicking them; note that 1x2 buildings are free to rotate on top of existing buildings, which causes things not to work.
It works fine in Firefox and Opera. Chrome works, but has problems with cutting off larger buildings if you rotate them after the page has loaded. Safari I have not tested, but it probably has the same behavior as Chrome. IE 8 works mostly, and IE 9 should be able to handle it just fine (though I don't have an IE 9 handy).
To get a copy and for complete documentation on how to use it, go to:
A few buildings were not implemented for lack of suitable images.
Note that I am not GM'ing this campaign, and we've only just finished Part 1. I built this strictly on the information available in the Player's Guide and in the Book of the River Nations Exploration and Kingdom Building Guide. So if there's something important that I'm missing, it's likely because I don't know about it (and no spoilers, pls & thx!).
If you have bug reports, patches, or comments, post them below.