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Touc's page

444 posts. Alias of M P 433.


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Silver Crusade

Your character is not unique because of its race, class, abilities, or mechanical scores. Why? Because anyone else can duplicate. Rather, your character is unique based on the storyline you create for it. Avoid clichés like "my family is all dead murdered by [insert race] and he has a lust for revenge" or "my barbarian speaks in the 3rd person and likes to bash everything." Add some flavor.

Torg of the Hawk Clan is embarrassed that he cannot read as well as his friends and he cannot seem to grasp Dragonchess when everyone else knows the moves. While he pushes himself to excel in honor of his deity in physical arts, there is a part of him that admires the shamans of his tribe, normally regarded as the weakest. As a result, Torg is hesitant and reserved around those who remind him of his tribe's shamans. As a GM storyline (for sandbox campaigns), Torg may unknowingly have a sibling who became a shaman as they are culled from the weak children and not permitted to be part of a family.

If you're in Pathfinder Society and/or playing a one-time session with strangers, don't bother. Few, if any, are going to remember (or care about) your cool background or how you tricked out the rules to do 4d4+12 damage at 3rd level with each attack. But if you are in a campaign that may last, memorable characters have always been the ones who contribute to a good story.

Silver Crusade

Make the orcs into a swarm.

Silver Crusade

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Pack mules. Porters. They served a purpose once, and for those who track encumbrance, they will rise again and have relevance.

Silver Crusade

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If someone's not interested enough in our game to do something without being bribed/paid, I don't try to dangle incentives. For some players, there's a hard time tracking NPCs and details. What you could do is hand everyone an "NPC/story" sheet (there's a couple out there for campaigns) so they can track anything important. You could also try going around the table asking for a volunteer, having last week's person be the last one you ask.

Silver Crusade

Are the Giants superstitious or tied to rituals? Could engage in symbolic challenges to "become one" with the tribe. Maybe there's a deep well whose waters contain the essence of ancestor giants and the party members who drink from those waters fall into a spiritual state where they become those giants, solving an ancient problem or facing an ancient enemy. If the giants are superstitious, they might have a burial ground that has been invaded by spirits. Whether those spirits would need to be forced out by combat or by other means is up to you.

Silver Crusade

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@ ParagonDire Raccoon: Treasure Hunt for 0-level players, someday I'll convert this to PF. It's a trope in most heroic stories that at some point the hero is stripped of everything but their wits, creativity. While it should be sparingly used, it's designed to test characters when their sheet doesn't tell them what they can and can't do. Treasure Hunt is probably the truest form of "making it up as you go."

For those who haven't experienced such "old school" style of play, there may be no life experience telling them they can play an RPG with more creative freedom. An RPG is far richer when the players and GM can interact with one another rather than with the dice.

I also took note of a prior post where the ranger character you made probably looked similar to a dozen other rangers out there. So to distinguish him, you added flavor, story. Your strongest memories weren't of times "I rolled a 12 and the king became friendly." They were more of the times you went "outside" the figurative box and did something novel, and it either spectacularly succeeded or failed. You tried it because there wasn't anything telling you that you'd fail or couldn't.

In my early days of GMing, a player wanted to use a Wish on a green dragon's egg to convert it to a good dragon, then use a Rod of Withering to "age" it to larger size. I didn't have one rule on any of this, and it was far more rewarding to let the plan work, then later given the powerful nature of a dragon and altering its very free will, I had it revert from the wish back to a green dragon. It was far more rewarding to see where our storyline took us rather than some game mechanic. Would it have been as novel if the Wish spell had a line "any change in alignment of a target lasts for 1d4 years, after which time the target reverts to its previous alignment?" The novelty of creativity is gone; the player now has a set mechanic and knows X action will happen in Y years.

Silver Crusade

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Take them for the role playing immersion experience, same thing as your tent and bedroll. Are you getting a numerical benefit for spending the gold pieces for a bedroll? No, but when it comes time to make camp, would a real adventurer neglect all these things "because the rules don't provide a negative?" Even a cleric might bring them on the off chance they cannot safely renew spells. It's about putting yourself into the game regardless of a mechanical rule justifying your decision.

Silver Crusade

WBL has always been around in some fashion, when monsters had random treasure type "A" and another "E." Players were "stuck" with whatever the random loot happened to be. Wizards added only spells they could scrounge. There was an uncertainty built into the game to see how players would do with what they got, not how they would do when they always got what they wanted. In 3E, the perception shifted to "player first."

Definitely some pros and cons here. A pro because less reliance on GM or module arbitrariness, play the character you want rather than what random events drive you to.

A con because less chances at in-game player innovation using what they have versus what they want.

Think about the play for a second. A player in 2E makes a fighter with a 12 Strength, high Dex and Con. His rationale: I'll make do until I get Gauntlets of Ogre Power at 5th level and a Belt of Hill Giant Strength by 9th. I'll have the best of all worlds: high strength, Dex, and Con. In PF, that's legit and you'll goto the magic mart if the loot isn't what you want.

But in 2E, what happens if he's wrong? There was no guarantee for loot; the world doesn't always give you a gold star for trying. You got creative with what you had. That's not so much a factor anymore, and I suspect many players weren't sad to see that go. But I want to convey there was a method to the madness, a built-in attempt to have the players be creative and never expect they'll have what they want in order to overcome challenges. Old school.

Silver Crusade

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Mark Hoover wrote:
...What I've done is ask players to dig a little deeper...

That's part of it. The system encourages new players to engage in "roll" play by replacing most, if not all, player interactions with the game world with a specific check and rule. At its extreme, players can anticipate mathematical results like a computer game. Of course, we hope there's GMs who are not simply there to referee die rolls and guide players from one numerical combat to the next. But unless one has been exposed to the "old school," what are new players to think? Maybe it's good enough, or maybe they just don't know there's more out there to an RPG than numbers.

Silver Crusade

You don't want to isolate the player whose character got killed by making them sit out, so now's some opportunity for the players to exercise some creative muscle. Maybe they can work with Ekaym on getting the registration documents and forging an additional member's information. There's no requirement the entire group participate in a battle, and who's to say the party couldn't declare they were so confident of victory in the earlier rounds that they competed one member short? However, for fairness, they'll keep their numbers the same (and surely come up with a creative story as to where the dead character is).

As a simpler solution, Ekaym could take their winnings to obtain an item to raise the dead. He has a built-in excuse to visit the party.

Silver Crusade

You can also search the "Suggestions" for home-brewed systems where people replaced the innumerable "plus" items with built-in bonuses as characters gain levels to solve the low-magic issue. The game has a pre-made presumption that players will obtain "plus" gear that will increase their ability scores, saves, armor class, etc. and scales monsters accordingly. You remove a ton of "fluff" magic that really becomes as mundane as a backpack and can introduce rarer magic without imbalancing the game.

If you're old school and rules-light, I'd recommend sticking to the Core rule book only for gameplay and character creation. Every book thereafter adds dozens more concepts and rules, and it's easy to get overwhelmed if you try to absorb it all at once.

Silver Crusade

Vary the terrain just as much as the foes for combat encounters. Have a fight in the rain (20% concealment?) with high winds (-2 ranged attacks?) where visibility is limited (10'?) and the ground is muddy (no 5' steps or charges?)

If underground, have the enemy use dungeon features, knock over a brazier of hot coals (5' square, 1 dmg + 1d4 fire dmg for each add'l round spent in the square) or fight from behind a chair for partial cover (+2 AC?)

Use encounters that can't be solved always by combat (a cave-in, a tornado, a fire where people are trapped inside).

Silver Crusade

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It's a Herculean task to envision modifying Pathfinder, and D&D Next got the jump on a new system (dibs). If Pathfinder ever considers revision, good ideas may be barred from duplication. Fundamentally, it starts with character classes, the phenomenon of more focus on a sheet and what it can do "by the numbers" versus imagination and what it can do "by the story put forth before you." May be mixing threads into what people would want to see for a Pathfinder 2E, but moreso if we perceive the character rules bloat as the effect which has caused a mechanical focus versus a creative one, then we are really expressing a thematic perception of where the game should be.

Silver Crusade

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Generic Dungeon Master wrote:

The essence of AD&D that made is so amazingly wonderful was this, simply this...

I was 12

One group's essence may not be another's. I played AD&D 2nd until my curiosity about 3.5 outweighed my reservations with a crew of people ranging from 25-45. I'll put my take on the essence starting with a 2004 quote by the late Mr. Gygax describing 3rd edition:

The new D&D is too rule intensive. It's relegated the Dungeon Master to being an entertainer rather than master of the game. It's done away with the archetypes, focused on nothing but combat and character power, lost the group cooperative aspect, bastardized the class-based system, and resembles a comic-book superheroes game...

Essence of AD&D? To me, simply that players spent more time looking and interacting with one another than interacting with their character sheet or the rulebook.

I fear we're headed for a system that replaces the creative/social aspect of the game with a rules search that encourages character building to excel in a grid-based combat system and where the story boils down to a series of combat rolls interspersed with skill checks. I advocate for a shave of the rules to a simpler time, where if there's 40 useful feats out of a list of 2000, then let's eliminate 1,960 and see what players can do with what they've got. Is it the rules that make a character special, the story that the characers create, or is it the player and their imagination?

Silver Crusade

If your players haven't delved into Pathfinder, I'd keep them restricted to the Core Rulebook only rather than open up the entire Internet. They'll be overwhelmed with accessories and rules, many of which they may not grasp. Also endorse running an "intro" adventure to get everyone used to the rules. We be Goblins is a free, fun way to start, and Hollow's is edition 3.5, minimal effort needed to update to Pathfinder given most of the monsters are from the Bestiary anyways.

As a tip with new players, if you don't know if there's a "rule" (or forget), don't interrupt play to search through the books for it. Act confident and declare something that sounds fair, say we'll look up the rule later (but encourage players to bring a cheat sheet of any special abilities so they don't have to refer back to the books). It's my experience players lose confidence if the GM spends sessions repeatedly bumbling through a book. You'll all get to know the rules you need as time progresses.

Finally, the white erase board rather than the tradtional grid may get tricky when someone casts a cone shaped spell, or you're talking line of sight issues with whether someone can fire a bow. Again recommend keeping the game flowing. When in doubt, make a ruling that seems fair. Someone in the way of a player's bow and you can't recall whether that might be a +2 or a +4 bonus to Armor Class for the target due to cover? Don't sweat it. Make your call, make a note to check it later, and keep things exciting.

Silver Crusade

Made the assumption incorrectly! I would second a druid shape-shifter. At lower levels, with high Strength and just enough Wisdom to cast spells (topping out at 19, summons and buffing rather than anything that gives your foes a save), the druid is a passable fighter. When they can shift shape you'll graduate to a damage dealer who can keep pace with most other fighter types. If you've worked on your Con and hit points, you'll find it durable and versatile, adapting to the environment. Certain shapes benefit heavily from Vital Strike making the druid frontliner a real bruiser, or you could end up being a caster's worst nightmare, either flying or pouncing at them.

Dragonlance by tradition never had dinosaurs, so check with your GM about the flavor of the campaign and if this is a part of it.

Silver Crusade

rando1000 wrote:
I've been playing more like option 2 since I started with a group that used a 1"=5' scale battle mat. It starts to feel like you try to do the 1st, which is more interesting, but then you HAVE to do the 2nd, because you need to make sure all the rules are accounted for to ensure that the first is even possible. And then, somewhere along the way, the description never happens and you do your move, and the next guy does his.

I think that's where it began for me, but not because of the grid map (which in some ways has been around since the Gold Box computer games were conceived). Players want to make sure they're not missing advantages, so they spend their limited turns describing the bonuses and modifiers rather than the actual action. It's not necessarily their desire to avoid description. Rather, it's necessity to avoid delay while maximizing your turn. Got soft cover +2, a flanking bonus +2, higher terrain +1, fighting defensively this turn? Rather than "I climb up on the table behind the guard while Garr has him occupied and look for a seam in his armor. Difficult with the high-back chair between us but I can do it," the player confirms his modifiers because the mechanics insist.

Silver Crusade

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houstonderek wrote:
Amen. Some of my 1e games had quite a bit of "epic". Those "epic" combats just took up WAY less time looking stuff up and adding a zillion modifiers (stuff that is decidedly not "epic", quite draggy and boring, actually).

That's where rules bloat gets in the way of the story. AD&D wasn't anywhere close to perfect, but there wasn't a lot of mechanics to get in the way of an epic story. If the 1st level gamer wanted to throw acid at the roof of the building to weaken the rafters to smash a rampaging basilisk that he has no chance of beating in a traditional "grid-based" combat, that's a whole lot more epic than stopping play and flipping to page 2xx to argue the relative hardness of each rafter, much less finding the rules for "cave-in" once, if ever, the ceiling falls. This may simply be a matter where a DM steps in, adjudicates "normally the acid splash is too weak to do real damage to treated wood, but termites have been working on the building along with some exposure to weather over the years. The ancient rafters give a creak and'd better think about finding something to hide under..."

There's also something non-epic about being engaged in the middle of battle with the Death Knight Lord Sinister who has razed the local church atop his flaming nightmare steed, and stopping play to recount "...ok so I get a +1 from bless, a +1 from prayer, a +2 from blessing of fervor, a +1 from (oops, that's a morale bonus, doesn't stack with bless, scratch that), a +1 from haste, a -2 because of the shaken effect, did I count that +4 for the Potion of Bull Strength, (no wait, that should only be a net gain of +2 because of my strength already) I hit AC 30. No wait, I forgot that I had activated a swift action to gain a temporary +2, I think that's a class bonus so it counts...(and now another player indicates his abilities grant a bonus so long as they're in proximity), and was bard song playing? What's that grant again? Hold on, I lost my count on the plusses..."

You may argue that a player should know the rules, but just as easily those same rules are getting in the way of what should be a pulse-raising battle to the finish.

Could simply be that refined mechanics are all that's needed. I certainly don't need more rules (than now) to recapture the spirit and creativity inherent to RPGs that should encourage gamers to immerse in a story about a character, not a character's stats. Make no mistake, I want some stats; I want players to brag about that time due to their great strength they lifted the portcullis in the flooding basement for everyone to escape. I just don't want that heroic story to get lost amongst memories of rules lawyering.

Silver Crusade

I've been watching D&D Next and what they're taking from gamer feedback (they are taking a page from Paizo and making the fans a part of the process, smart move). Their brand director, Nathan Stewart, summed it up in a Forbes Magazine interview: "...the future of D&D is not the [rules sets] but it’s this feeling that you get playing Dungeons & Dragons, no matter where you do it.”

So what's the "feeling" you get?

From Mike Mearls, creative directing (summary), the 120,000+ playtesters are indicating it's the "story" element, the "idea of what a character is, that's really important." Players want to be engaged in an "evocative" story and the "mechanics are really just a means to an end." Players are less interested in the "feats/powers" than making a fun story with others.

"They’re not coming to D&D saying oh, I need mechanics." For example, "we have some basic guidelines for handling character interactions, what to do when you meet an NPC and you want to convince them to do something for you. Right now we have about two pages of rules about that, really more storytelling guidelines rather than hardcore mechanics. The big disparity between having the feedback and not having it is that without that feedback, it would have been a much more mechanical approach, a skill challenge kind of thing where you need X number of success before failing."

And bam, that hit me.

Mechanics do influence gameplay and more rules isn't always better. Is an RPG a social experience where the players make the game or is it where the mechanics make the game (how many "skill challenges" or Diplomacy checks can I succeed on?) My theory has been that creativity is expanded with less rules bloat, recognizing always there must be a core set of rules that creates a framework without becoming the framework.

Like Mearls, I want to get to the part where the characters are making the story and I'd like to see where we go next. I want a meaningful set of rules that enable this without interfering with getting to the story. I don't want to spend 2 hours making up a stat block to get started. 120,000 players were crying for less mechanics and more story. I'm sure there were innumerable more. Paizo has great writers; I'm here just as much for their skill as for the system. Maybe there's a market for a rules-bloated system, but every edition has inevitably expanded and contracted. It may be I'm looking ahead to the next inception of Pathfinder just as much as I'm looking behind for that "feeling" I used to get quite a bit more often.

Silver Crusade

Welcome to Pathfinder! While I won't say one system is superior to another, there are styles of play that work better with certain gamers. Remember to disengage from the notion of "tanks" and "strikers." While Pathfinder has "grid combat," multiple classes can be adapted to fit a variety of roles. Even a bard can be molded to survive on the "front lines." For fun, pick a concept and go with it. Don't avoid an archetype or "build" simply because it has less numerical advantage than another.

For example, the Ranger is a great fit for nature themed and can specialize in two-handed weaponry. Just be aware some of their abilities don't function with heavy armor. Optimally, a fighter should be more "tanky" and a barbarian should deal more combat damage, but the beauty of Pathfinder is that the Ranger can fit the combat role of a "frontliner" just fine if you mold him so. In Pathfinder, you don't have to pick the "best" build to succeed given the versatility with each class through archetypes and feats.

Silver Crusade

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OgreBattle wrote:
If you want to play AD&D, why not play AD&D? PF is for PF. It's not like AD&D stopped existing, the rules are still out there and very easy to find.

Still have my 2E books and modules, albeit a bit beaten up. But no desire to go back, and I generally admire the quality of Paizo writers. The alloy comparison is fitting; I'm still working on the mixture.

AdAstraGames wrote:

At today's game at the game store, I saw a 6th level Orc Bloodline Admixture Wizard Arcanist show up with a 10d6+11 Fireball spell. Utterly wrecked the PFS scenario we were playing. The player was really looking forward to 8th level, when his Wayang Spell Hunter would let him Empower that puppy as a 4th level spell slot.

As I get older, I have less and less desire to play with people whose creative outlet is centered on character builds. The difference between Pun-Pun and an optimized summoner is only one of degree, not kind.

At some point in the past some folks simply played an "elf." What one did with the actions and decisions of the elf made that elf unique and special, and barring some dip into options, one elf rogue was largely the same as the next elf rogue. Heroes were made by choices in the game, not by mechanical design. One looked at their fellow players and DM when making decisions, less so at the character sheet. I still love what Pathfinder has done, but it's progressing into something foreign to imagination. Guess there's a market for bad wine as much as good wine, and I don't want the winery to forget its reputation comes from the good wine.

Silver Crusade

DrDeth wrote:
Karl Hammarhand wrote:
The main thrust of this is not 'Why is Pathfinder bad' but 'what can we do to recapture the feel of D&D'. The very fact that you are taking this as an adversarial position says quite a bit. Pathfinder isn't bad, it is different we want to regain something Pathfinder has lost not take away any of the fun you are currently enjoying.
And, i think it is very possible to regain some of the feel of Old School D&D and still play PF.

That's where I'm wanting to head. I am working on one of my players who hasn't had the experience of an older edition (where without a rule for everything you got creative, albeit subject to the arbitrariness of the DM). It's trickier for him to express at the table and act outside the script of the pages of the book, and I notice he looks to the character sheet and confines of the rules for all that his character does. Without turning this into a MMO debate, my comparison is that he's been introduced into a form of table-top gaming where he feels like it's a console or keyboard. If there isn't a key or button, it cannot be done.

I am in the process of running him and our PF crew through a 1st edition converted Tomb of Horrors (with two old timers who have vague memories of it). Say what you will about lethality, but as we've pushed through, I've seen more creative guesswork on solving the various challenges than with prior standard modules. There's a novelty to having no "knowledge" check to explain everything, wherein you have to experiment, test, and you aren't guaranteed a successful results. It's my theory, based on AD&D play, that there's more sense of accomplishment by creative resolution than by simply a successful die roll or a "take 10." Certain elements have their purpose in certain situations, but the rules should never replace the need for player ingenuity. We'll see if everyone agrees once we're through...

Silver Crusade

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Jack Assery wrote:

... I think the magic was the antics and ingenuity were left in the hands of the players in the old school style, whereas the new school GM's do most of that stuff now....

That's maybe what I'm feeling with the advent of the "D&D minis" style of adventuring. There's not a need to "invent" a means to an end if you can find a rule for it. Reading the post about a teacher wanting to use Pathfinder in a school setting made me wonder if the students are going to expand their creative and critical thinking or merely become more skilled at flipping to the correct rule.

All in all, I leaning towards the view that, having been a DM & GM for many years, players are now encouraged to spend more time searching for the rule (building a superior character, the unbeatable trip tactic, and so on) than immersing in the world. My theory, perhaps flawed, is if we reduce those rules, reduce the mechanical incentive, the focus returns to the game world and not the game mechanic. Maybe it's as simple as trying a "core only" game to wean players off a rules-laden system.

Silver Crusade

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Feedback from my players and observation of them has been intriguing as well:

* First time gamer #1, Pathfinder is his first system. Hates tracking all the bonuses and forgets some at times. Prefers a class with few features to keep it simple.
* First time gamer #2, likes the system, likes the idea of less rules
* Old school gamer #1 (taking a break now due to career change), likes the classes, overwhelmed by high level play due to sheer volume of options.
* Old school gamer #2, keeps it simple (e.g. plays an evoker, uses the Core spells)
* Savvy gamer #1, knows the sytem inside and out, likes it all, has a mind for numbers
* Savvy gamer #2, same as #1, less about rolling dice and more about the pure RP
* Savvy gamer #3, knows the system and is good any way, played 3rd and transitioned to PF with me, does a decent job at building the world (adds a storyline of his own) without GM hints or prompts

Silver Crusade

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I like the Pathfinder system, but I hold a fear it's drifting from what made AD&D special. I've puzzled out what attracted me to AD&D in the first place (it wasn't the "to hit" system). It was the creative spirit of the game that I fear is being buried under the crush of rule after rule, and added power after power. While more rules have pros and cons (e.g. Pathfinder item creation, a pro compared to hazy AD&D rules), I want to capture the creative social spirit rather than creative mechanical effort.

I compare the RPG creative spirit to the "lunar crash exercise" many did as a kid.

You've crashed on the moon and need to get to the lunar base. You've got your suit, limited oxygen, and a list of 15 items salvaged from the crash. As a team, choose what you'd bring, why, and which would be the most important. If you have questions about the Moon, you can ask the instructor.

It's an RPG. You've got a class (Astronaut) which gives you knowledge of the moon and how to use certain equipment. You've got a GM (the instructor) to describe anything. You've got an "equipment guide." Above all, you've got your ingenuity. The purpose of the puzzle is to think outside the box, to fit a square peg in a round hole, to creatively make use of the items in perhaps unconventional ways (use the crashed ship's fire extinguishers for propulsion, etc.)

You work as a team, you get creative. Here's the key: There was less emphasis on the mechanics and more emphasis on the creative aspect. I saw a lot of creative attempts in AD&D, not all successful, but attempted because there wasn't a rule saying you can or cannot succeed. For example

An illusionist in AD&D runs into a golem, immune to spells, and needs to get it away from a door. He knows his spells won't work on it. He tells the DM he's using his fly spell and making an illusion of the cliff stretching out a few more feet. He's hoping if it looks like he's running on the cliff, using fly, the golem might pursue and fall into the chasm below. Won't destroy it but gets him past the door and buys a lot of time. He's using an illusion in an unusual way. Was creativity rewarded? Absolutely. The AD&D caster didn't have a lot of spells (and no abilities) to work with, so he was forced to think in an unconventional way that didn't have a rule saying it would or wouldn't work, or might work with a % chance. A fighter without the +3 weapon in those days might have pretended to play dead (would the golem keep attacking a dead foe or move onto something else?) While some DMs might have finished him off, who knows. He's desperate, trying something creative, and there's no "bluff" check back then that makes him think this will or won't succeed.

Meanwhile, a Pathfinder caster would use a supernatural ability, or pull out a Wand of Intensified Snowballs, or any number of preset "trump" abilities to get past unlimited spell resistance. He doesn't need to get creative; the game has a built-in selection of preset options, press button A, B, or C.


The AD&D player had a very limited set of abilities and unlike Pathfinder, there wasn't always a rule of A trumps B, B trumps C (e.g. spells that would bypass spell immunity). Like the lunar exercise, sometimes you had to take an unconventional, creative approach. Now I'm not saying players can't or won't today, but a continued slew of rules may be a disincentive to pure creativity. In the above spoiler, there's a preset "trump" mechanically in place. One doesn't have to get creative, one just has to know which rule to apply. Note, I'm not talking about pure combat mechanics. The game isn't all about combat, and I grasp combat is about mechanics and math, always has been, not where I'm headed.

A system composed of too many rules stifles the need for creativity. You simply apply X ability to Y situation. Problem solved. And that's my personal observation. In AD&D, I saw players try all sorts of imaginative, crazy things, like leaping off a 20' ledge onto a dragon's back hoping it would count as a backstab since they couldn't get behind the dragon. I see far far less in Pathfinder, with some of the exact same players.

So, what to do about it? I'm certainly not going back to AD&D; I like the Pathfinder core classes, the fixes. Nor am I buying the beginner box. My thoughts: simplify the game again as much as possible.


1. Restrict players to the Core and 1 accessory book of their choice (that reasonably ties to the character). Discourage character creation to be all about mechanics. Encourage players to generate characters based on concept, not mechanical benefit (how many archetypes are considered "useless" by players? How many choose the clerical "Travel" domain because they're genuinely enthused about Travel and not the awesome "dimensional hop" ability? How many dip into a class simply to get Evasion or Rage?)

2. Skills. 4th Edition encounters can simply be an exercise in mathematics by making a series of skill checks. How fun, a computer program with a dice generator can run that for you. Pick ability X, apply to situation Y. Don't substitute role play for skill play. While some skills are math (a knowledge check), others have a social game aspect that should be played. Unless purely mechanical, players should have to describe what they're doing, and if it's unclear if it'll automatically succeed, we can apply a skill check.

3. Don't stop the game to look up a rule. I'm sure there's a rule for everything. I had my AD&D books memorized, but that'll never happen in my lifetime for all the Pathfinder rules. Grappling even has a flowchart because it can get so insanely convoluted. If the player doesn't have it before them and I don't know, just do what players did for 30 years before: adjudicate it with what seems fair and reasonable.

4. Restore some Core concepts. Make those golems immune to all magic (not everything has a "trump"). Put some (not all) traps in that can only be uncovered by player action, not a generic "perception" check. Don't be afraid to ban something that the group has found to "bend or break" the game.

5. Look for more "open-ended" adventures that inspire creativity. Stolen Lands (Kingmaker) has a great 3-dimensional bandit fort that can be taken in a dozen different ways, none necessarily better than the other (players might spend an hour discussing how to take it and not once roll dice, make a skill check, etc.) Dungeon's Challenge of Champions presented meta-game challenges to make the players use their own ingenuity and creativity.

Maybe I'm behind the times. But I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve the game I run.

Silver Crusade

I've been pretty liberal with Kyuss as some mythical being from the time they met the Ebon Triad, but I've treated all his monsters as unique and don't allow knowledge rolls. There's just no way they "researched" or "know" about something that hasn't been seen for millenia and then only in a lost civilization. It heightens the suspense facing a monster and not knowing what it can or will do.

With the Spawn, it'd be enough to make a DC 15 check to perhaps recognize it as undead, but anything else would be trial and error (e.g. watching it fast heal).

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Dark Sun from 2E had rules for alternative weapons like bone and wood, and 4E does as well. Believe it goes something like:

2E: if roll max damage (or crit?), 5% chance the weapon shatters.
4E: If roll a 1, break
4E: Other option, if roll fumble, may take miss or reroll. If reroll and miss, weapon breaks.

This assumes you built your weapon with the intent it be made of wood and not having it morphed, at which point it should be very inferior. The weapons didn't do any different type of damage (e.g. a sword did not do bludgeon). That would more fit into the rules for the -4 penalty for "flat blading."

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Any thoughts from your group? I always encourage my players to draw up a party as a collective, and no one should feel pressured to play something they aren't somewhat enthused about. Also, stepping outside your comfort zone and trying a new character isn't a bad idea, and there's nothing to stop you from retiring a character later if it isn't working out. There's 33 core domains and maybe you can randomly select the first domain, try something outside a guidebook or what others say you "should" do.

With that said, imo the cleric fits your group best (brings healing), the bard next (wand use), and the trickster next (skill monkey).

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The game loses some of its suspense when a character death becomes meaningless, so be careful with the "wow, how convenient right after my character died we found a scroll of raise dead" moments. I would simply let the game balance things out. As noted, it's not easy to kill a character, but it happens. It shouldn't be viewed as a negative ("losing") but rather another facet of the game.

In Red Hand of Doom (3rd), because the party was going to be away from civilization with little chance to buy/sell, an early treasure (6th level) was a partially charged Staff of Life (6 charges, enough for a Raise Dead and a Heal, or 6 heals). While a powerful treasure, no one was leveled enough to recharge it and it was useful in a setting where you can't run back to a temple and pray for the best. Consider the setting and circumstances. Also remember low-level PCs aren't supposed to have access to resurrection magic (generally one doesn't become as attached to a character until they've run it for months to higher levels).

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I don't increase loot if the party exceeds 4 as the party power level is increased already by having +50% characters than the adventure is designed for. Be aware that several AoW battles beyond just the Cairn are single "bosses," and these will be substantially less challenging with 6. I have a varying party based on who shows every week (5 usually, 6 sometimes).

With that said, I'd modify Zosiel's Diadem

The diadem functions as a +2 Wisdom gear, but eventually it will be surpassed by other gear (it gets powers around 12th level in the path, way too late). It comes into play as a nice item to have in the final modules, but there's really no clue or incentive to keep it till then other than Allustan hinting "it's cool, you should hang onto it." I made mine a Legacy item (from 3rd edition).

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At 1st level, exploring "sandbox" style is challenging. Crossing rivers that have no bridges, that are hedged in by thick briars, is an adventure that forces players to rely on non-combat skills. Weather, such as spring tornados, can be fierce, even deadly. Players will account for cold weather at night (do they take exposure damage), whether they have enough food or must live off the land, and have the wonder of not knowing what lies behind the next hill.

Higher level adventures lose a lot of that luster. Skill checks and saves are high enough that the earlier non-combat events pose little threat. Most parties can magically create food or have magical storage so food is not a concern. If you skip Stolen Lands, you lose a lot of the magic that made it the flagship for one of the most popular adventure paths.

The 2nd module is heavily adjustable, and if you have the hex map you probably could create your own setup. It's really about starting up your kingdom and handling the threats in the more dangerous "south" that 1st level characters would have perished in. Many players opted for the "monster kingdom" campaign idea, and it's a good one.

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The village hosts an ancient ruin or standing stone that is a portal to a lost bastion of power or an ancient evil that the BBEG believes it can harness. The portal can only be opened if certain steps are taken, and the last may involve a mass ritual that the BBEG believes it can manipulate the villagers into performing. It may succeed in enough steps that danger is created and in this remote area, the PCs are likely the only ones with strength enough to deal with whatever is on the other side.

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1st Edition's 1976 Expedition to Barrier Peaks was run at Origins to expose D&D players to the sci-fi RPG that became Gamma World. I've got a copy but never run it under the premise it would ruin the atmosphere. Still, I think a one-time shot with guns, sci-fi, and androids would be interesting. But an everyday thing? The fun of the adventure was pretending to not know what these weird devices did and puzzling out how things worked. 2E introduced a Pirates supplement that went heavy into the personal firearms. As a whole, they were a curiosity, and certainly unable to be "swiftly" reloaded or fired in 6 seconds like Pathfinder allows, which really stretches the imagination (because we're not saying it's magic, we're saying it's skill).

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Add in "gang up" and a heavy focus in strength along with some magic spiked gauntlets and the damage from an "unarmed" attacker can be constructed to rival many melee, with the option to dirty trick, trip, etc. Throwing dirt to "blind" a combatant then getting some sneak attacks in is just wrong. It's like...a...dirty trick.

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I've got a player who's dipped into multiple classes to make the archetypes he wants "maximized" for a really sick brawler, and it includes 2 levels of monk, maneuver master, Dragon style (to get flurry and ability to substitute maneuvers for attacks as well as evasion plus bonus damage on first hit in a round), 4 levels of rogue, scout (to get sneak attack on a charge and some extra feats with rogue talents), and the rest to Fighter, brawler (for obvious reasons).

While he's appears useless ranged (flight potions anyone), he's pretty darn nasty against most every foe. This is a highly optimized build, so really dependent on your game how much you want to break the bank.

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Don't see why not. The spell sends you "visual information" no matter where it goes, and it wouldn't cease to function if a person closed their eyes (which they would probably do thematically given that they would be visualizing two things at once otherwise, a headache). Spell wouldn't cease to function if someone turned out the lights in the room they're in while the eye is somewhere else in a lit area.

But yeah, it's a sight-based spell to cast in the first place, so some issues with that. I think they mean for it to be unlimited range to cast, but that's for some GM interpretation ("why can't I just drop it right by myself?")

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If there's no reaction from your game world to character actions, then you're pretty much running a computer game from your gaming table. After a week the captive should be dead. Players should always be aware not every adventure is "kill and get treasure," and to preserve what makes RPGs unique, you have to make the world react to both the players' actions and inactions. If you don't enforce a reactive world because it's easier or you want to preserve a certain storyline, then you're not providing the full experience.

A good campaign has events moving regardless of what players are doing. Sometimes those events intersect, and we have grand adventures. In this case, the girl is kidnapped and presumably going to die in a few days. That's the background; players may not even know this and you've hinted at it through an NPC brother. If the players dawdle, do nothing, and so on, the event occurs and the girl perishes. By finding out their "slow and steady" approach didn't work, they'll gain some "experience" about your game world moving on, unlike the computer world of Skyrim where every quest waits indefinitely for you to drop by and do something.

I'm also betting players will respect the game more if you "keep it real" instead of trying to beat them over the head with a timed plot device by sending NPCs ("OMG I just saw her and she's about dead, hurry!"), visions ("The God of Justice demands you get your butt down there in 24 hours!"), or more annoyance by the brother ("I oh so certain she's going to starve in 2 more days if you don't hurry after you've piddled around for a week! Hurry please!")

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Players can add to the richness of the game world when it comes to moments like these. Consider your character knowing someone who tried these "demon devices that spit fire" and having a story where it blew up and killed them. In Dragonlance, gnomes are always creating crazy inventions (not mass producing, if you make the same thing twice where's the fun in that?) and thematically guns work with them. Forgotten Realms justified guns as rarities perhaps known by worshippers of Gond the Wondermaker but rejected by many as unwieldy and more dangerous than a good sword.

Mechanically I have issues with the gunslinger, but thematically if you're creative enough, it can all make sense (as much sense as a fantasy world can make...).

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I know my players well enough that we can chat outside the game if it looks like someone has built something that effectively minimizes other player contributions in battle. You'll know when other players are getting exasperated.

I wouldn't modify battles to specifically "take them down a notch" as players will catch on pretty quickly, though adding some random encounters or some challenges where time is an issue (party can't rest at will) can alleviate characters casually burning through all their spells/abilities in 2-3 combats.

While this isn't a thread to trash Clustered Shots, we previously found it created enough of an imbalance in combat that we've banned it. You know your player best, and he may be willing to modify his character to tone things down a bit by swapping out that feat, which might "even out" his damage. As I've stated in threads before, try to address any game issues outside the game rather than at the table.

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In honor of "March Madness," gaming can be like a game of pick-up basketball at the local YMCA: you probably don't want a team of 5 short guys playing point guard or 5 tall guys who don't know how to dribble the ball. You have a basic understanding of what a team must have, and unless you're an ass-hat, you don't need to see their "character sheet" to know what other players shoot at the free-throw and 3-point line. (If you're playing for money, that may be another matter...)

A team that has played together long enough will have a level of trust that if one guy is playing the "point guard" then he'll be good at dribbling and passing the ball. The only thing owed to one another is that level of trust that everyone brings something useful to the team. If someone has an injury (i.e. making the party's only dhampir that takes damage from positive energy and another is playing a good cleric), they owe it to the party to say why they're still able to contribute to the team and how they'll overcome the injury.

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(You can obviously work the DCs and effects), could make the arena floor a layer of bones, 1' deep.

Animate bones grab at players (could be locations, could be a free action by the BBEG directed to a particular target), Ref DC 14 or minor distraction, -1 to attacks, concentration checks

Bone columns that exude the stench of the dead in 5' radius, Fort DC 14 or sickened, effect lasts 1 round after leaving.

Minions. Once per round, a weak skeleton rises from the bones, taking no action the round it emerges (flat-footed). Could be small or have low hit points (1-2). Could make these certain areas that can be destroyed (a bone cage with Hardness 5, 10 hit points), but wouldn't add more than one skeleton a round.

If bones, whole area should be difficult terrain, no 5' stepping. You may wish to give your BBEG a form of druid-like movement through the bones.

Biters, areas of bone where mandibles underneath try to bit anyone coming near, +2 attack, 1d4 damage. May develop how to destroy it given the mandible is buried (total cover?)

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It's old, but D&D did an article on variant intelligent oozes "link" , and then the Alkilith Demon (an ooze demon that can change into a Cloudkill) gave our group a nasty fit in the Age of Worms campaign, and it happens to be a free online print still on the D&D 3.5 site, minor conversions needed, "link" .

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Adjule wrote:
Curious if you still have ring of protection (deflection bonus) as well as amulet of natural armor (natural armor bonus), since those are different from and stack with the armor and shield bonuses. I had actually thought of doing something similar, with bonuses at various levels to take the place of the "plus items".

Our system follows WBL and allows players to "purchase" with "training points" bonuses such as deflection and resistance bonuses. Stronger bonuses do not become available until later levels. It's to cure the occupation of magic item slots with "required" gear while still offering the bonuses that seem essential to surviving combat.

We no longer use "Rings of Protection" or "Amulets of Natural Armor" as such.

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Our player archer was reaching insane levels of damage and gave input he felt the Feat was too easy in combo with Deadly Aim and Rapid Shot. Even a gunslinger has to spend grit to compound all attacks into one big volley to overcome DR. We instead rely on Penetrating Strike.

For the mutation, you assume a form and gain abilities, but you don't cease to be a humanoid subject to charm spells. If born a giant or troll, yes, we require a Charm Monster to get their compliance.

The "plus" removal has worked well. Players get a "flaming sword" which scales in usefulness if the character invests "training points" into better weapon training. The training doesn't make a weapon magical (flaming sword would count as magical +1 due to the flaming quality), so players have to be more keen on overcoming DR. They've also been able to equip Cloaks that do something more than provide a save bonus and save that Belt slot for something unique rather than a stat boost.

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1. Remove "plus" items and incorporate them into leveling, adjusting wealth by level to compensate. To date positive feedback from players.

2. Magic item crafting costs 100% besides wands, potions, scrolls. Can "disenchant" same-slot items and apply their cost to crafting. Intended to fix WBL issue while preserving ability to use feats to get exactly which items the player wants.

3. Re-roll hit points once with minimum based on the die.

4. No use of abilities, spells, etc. from sourcebooks I don't own unless you bring a full copy.

5. Feats banned: Clustered Shots, Antagonize, Leadership, Dazing Spell. All have created trouble in game balance.

6. Raise Dead is an 8 hour ritual costing 500gp per Hit Die. Characters must make a "Resurrection Survival" roll based off 2nd edition or forever be dead; each successive roll is treated as 1 CON lower to a minimum of 40% chance of success at effective CON 3. Explains why indefinite raise dead not feasible.

7. Charm/Hold Person does not work on Giants or trolls. They've always been monsters to me.

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Not RPGs but board games (Arkham Horror, Lords of Waterdeep, Game of Thrones) and Munchkin. Healthy to step away every other month and branch out, but we always return to our favorite RPG.

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I'm allowing players to create a "backup" character to bring into the Tomb, and I'm keeping most of it "old school" with updates based off the 3.5 conversion (without the Libris Mortis advertisements randomly inserted into rooms, there's enough challenge within). Without getting into detail of how, the players will be on a 24-hour timer (or be trapped in the tomb forever), and as a campaign plot the tomb holds something useful to defeating a BBEG that adventurers hundreds of years ago tried to obtain. They have left clues about "by great sacrifice" sending the items necessary to defeating the Enemy to its chamber so the party has some chance in the final battle of ascertaining a way to defeat the BBEG if we go with the 1st edition manner of defeating it.

The 1st Edition is absolutely harsh as above. And so was the Soul Gem in the Ghost Tower of Inverness. As written, someone's going to die unless some really clever misdirection goes on. When I played 2nd edition, players accepted the sucky reality of "no save and die" situations, albeit super rare. Still, I want to avoid being strung up by my players (though death can be cured at their levels).

Would folks recommend altering the trap's attack to mimic the attack of a demilich (once per round target Fort Save DC 24, save and get 2 negative levels, fail and die) so at least there's a save? Or use the demi-lich from Pathfinder (there is a paladin in the party, which can make the battle cheese), use the Construct from the 3rd edition conversion (rendering smite useless), use the demi-lich stats but make it a neutral construct subtype rather than NE undead?

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Don't, and beware of creating "spin" in your resume by fluffing a game played for leisure into a job skill. When asked by the employer about your "people management" pursuits, the last thing you want to try and say is you are actually managing people who pretend to be wizards who kill dragons.

If the game has led you to collateral skills (maintaining a blog, the aforementioned excel sheet know-how), then great, mention those. But you're not going to impress an employer by citing your "money management" and "accounting" skills gleaned from playing multiple sessions of Monopoly.

Defer to Scott and the others who have advised there may be a more basic issue. There should be several community resources or university based resources for alumni that can help you not only rework your resume but may have practice interviews to sharpen your skills and help you aim toward the employers most likely to hire your skill set.

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I think the fear of using Pathfinder is that, if run literally with all rules in place, mechanics replace creativity. Rather than role-play a way to unlock the door, a player can simply select a skill and roll a d20, no intuitiveness involved. You may wish to require a player to describe how they might open the door before you allow a skill check (e.g. "I don't have a tool kit, so I look for a thin wire or maybe a bone or rock..."). The same goes for social interaction with NPCs. The system taken literally can discourage players to roleplay out an encounter with words and simply declare "I'll influence his behavior using my Diplomacy. I got a 26."

Simply rolling dice does not contribute to social skills nor inventiveness. Suggestions to simpler systems iterate the belief that less rules are better if you want your gamers to "think outside the box, think outside the game." For kids, I'd also shy away from letting the dice rolls resolve all matters. In older (and other) editions, the GM had to resolve creative actions without a specific rule to govern. You want to reward such efforts when reasonably possible, or at least praise them. If a player wants to leap off a cliffside to "backstab" a dragon with a 20' fall, there's no specific rule and you shouldn't spend your time looking for one. It's daring, it's feasible, and while the player should take some damage in the fall, maybe if they hit you'll give a bonus to damage.

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If you haven't read the Dark Sun series, encourage it as you get a feel for the gladiators. If the party survives, they may be granted limited freedoms. In the Dark Sun series, the reigning champions were recruited by rebels to help them strike at the sorcerer king who ruled in tyranny. In the arena, with a specific weapon, on the day of the games, they would have a chance to strike a major blow in concert with the rebellion. There's quite a bit more to the story, but gladiator themed campaigns can have much going on.

Certain characters can throw a gladiator campaign into whack as already noted and Pathfinder characters tend to have many combat abilities. Also account for how your wizards as slaves are going to get spells as they go up in levels or why the captors would ever, in their craziest dreams, let a foreign priest or sorcerer gain in power.

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