Upon the wearer is a uniquely utilized term when it comes to this item. From the Ring of Counterspells: should that spell ever be cast upon the wearer, the spell is immediately countered, as a counterspell action. Using the exact same language in 3.5, the designers stated in the FAQ that [t]he ring of counterspells counters spells that are cast on you only, not necessarily a spell that affects you.
Fireball is the perfect example as to the difference between a "target" spell and one "cast upon" the ring wearer. Fireball actually targets a specific square, and from there it expands. The 3.5 FAQ went on to clarify that if a fireball targeted the player's square (aka "ground zero"), the spell would be negated. However, if the spell targeted his ally next to him, the spell would not be countered because the player is now subject to the area effect (the "blast zone"). The fireball was never cast "upon" him but rather someone else.
Upon the wearer allows the ring to accomplish what a Ring of Spell Turning cannot. Spell turning is very specific: target spells only, and does not affect area. The Ring of Counterspells has no such descriptors, and to give meaning to the term "upon the wearer" the designers have given it a bit more latitude in what it can stop.
The adventure is clear those who go looking for trouble are going to get it.
If you want a DM device, Zeech might listen to the Ominous Fabler who can forsee the players MUST be at the party (doesn't mean he has to let them live, etc.). Enraged perhaps at the destruction of one of his guards, he listens to the Fool, knowing that greater things lie ahead.
Your players won't need any more clues; I assure you they'll figure it out pretty quickly. As a troubleshooting matter, though:
My players just flew over the tilting challenge. This really seemed anti-climatic, and I don't think Gorum would feel it was skill that helped them solve this "challenge" but rather an item without effort. So, I required the holy symbol lying in one of the pits to be applied to the next door for passage. This required the party to "solve" the room, which seemed in spirit with Gorum's creation of it in the first place. After all, if one hasn't been tested, how can they advance and "prove" themselves to a god of battle?
Could have been 3 party deaths, but I generously kept it down to one by allowing two new players to arrive in the nick of time.
The party scrambled up to this trap in the lantern room. Three players were swept away with two surviving the fall into deep negatives and one, poor Garook, snapping his neck. A harsh start to set the tone of the campaign!
AD&D had a module (Treasure Hunt) for 0-level characters where you chose a race, but you role-play through the module determined what class and alignment you would have. Skills were role-played out as well (e.g. yeah, I want to climb those vines, but my character has always been afraid of heights). Everyone knew a simple weapon and could "learn" others as they went. A future arcane user "chose" when they felt it was time to use magic after being exposed to it.
Not for the faint of heart or new players, but definitely a good challenge.
The 3.5 compilation, which includes where you can find Brown, Purple (both purple energy and Deep Dragons that are purple colored), Iron, and yes even Grey.HERE
Finding the Dragon magazines and sources will be another matter, but if there's a color, odds are there's a dragon to go with it. Here's what I could dig up on Browns:
4th Edition Brown Dragon exerpt with art and ecology:HERE
2nd Edition Brown dragon: HERE
The tone of the setting - a gritty Age of Despair with a world still reeling from plague and disease, no high-level heroes in every town, clerical magic just returned to the world, and magic a thing to be distrusted and feared - seemed to be a good transition for an Age of Worms. The old sorcerer-emperors of the Aurim Empire and jungles of Neron areas laid good grounds for the BBEG.
One of my players is only a year or so older than the books. Makes me feel old.
After many months, finally beginning this (classic?) campaign in the setting of Taladas (Dragonlance), League of Minotaurs, 352 AC (Age of Despair).
Marcus (magus) - son of Dietrik Cicaeda (cartographer) and garrison soldier who secretly learns magic from Allustan
Duncan (monk) - monk of the Twilight Monastery who upon adulthood has cut loose from his peers with only a handful of coins in his pockets to expand his pursuit of drunken master techniques
Blue Sky (barbarian) - an exotic tamire elf from the north, last fighting member of the Wolf Clan, who makes ends meet by feats of strength at local bars. She seeks more from life than a day-to-day existence.
Garook (wizard) - goblin tribe outcast who earns his keep in Chaum's mines. His blood burns for the study of magic rather than the poisoned air of the iron mines.
Ten years ago a group of Diamond Lake children got lost following one of their peers to spy on an old cairn rumored to be an unexplored sorcerer's tomb full of magic and treasure. The other children became lost and tired, and their peer laughed at them. These children taunted her back that if she were so brave, she should spend the night at the tomb. They would spend the night in the girl's "secret base," an abandoned mining base.
The next morning, the peer did not return, and the children became lost trying to find her and the hidden cairn. Adults from Diamond Lake would eventually find them but not the girl who took the dare. To this day, no one has run across or found an overgrown tomb with a particular sigil on it that seemed to breathe air out of its entrance.
Modern day, these children and the adults have stayed in touch, some becoming good friends. All seem destined for life in the mines or drudgery in the garrison. The thought of the cairn has bothered Blue Sky, who helped find the children a decade ago. She is certain the tomb still exists. After hearing an offhand story retold by Duncan about an explorer from the metropolis of Kristophan named Uluvant who, 60 years ago, bragged he'd found a cairn and would be rich (the story being told to discourage foolish errands since Uluvant never came back), she told her idea to her friend Marcus. Marcus snuck into his father's maps and after many days found a map with a notation "for Uluvant" and a cairn location. They recruited Garook on his day off and presented the idea: this cairn may be unexplored and contain riches that could allow them to leave this life, find a better one.
Further, they discussed that the expedition needed to leave earlier than later. A trio of adventurers from Kristophan, who by rumor were skilled and had won the Champion's tournament last year, were in town bragging they'd be clearing out some of the deadly tombs. Blue Sky heard the first they'd try was the Stirgenest, which she knew had been looted years ago. But, every possibility existed that they waited, the more likely this trio would come across some map leading to their tomb!
So it began. Four intrepid adventurers visited Taggin's General Store and invested in gear. Taggin, twirling his moustache ends, applauded their vigor and zest for what appeared to be a great expedition, though as everyone knew the local cairns were probably all empty.
Varnhold is one of the best modules, especially when enhanced with Dudemeister's suggestions about the centaurs. But remember Kingmaker is supposed to be all about the kingdom, not the BBEG. It's about threats to the kingdom and keeping it thriving, and the hook is great (if this could happen to them, could it happen to the PC kingdom??). By book 3, the party should be mildly suspicious something is odd with the fey, but not enough to begin to worry about any lurking BBEG. Given that Nyrissa isn't supposed to pop up as a challenge till 17th level, introducing her in snippets 11 levels early is just going to frustrate the party (e.g. why give us all this if we can't do anything about it...)
In a prior post I revealed a system I'm proposing to my players that converts the WBL system into fixed bonuses by relaying what a bonus would be worth into the system. It works in an artificial environment but have not subjected it to playtesting. It elaborated on what Magic Crafter posted by balancing the bonuses with actual WBL.
FIXED TRAINING BONUSES
So, the question becomes: how can we fix a system dependent on magic item upgrades, without having to overhaul the entire system? The solution is Fixed Training Bonuses. Players, starting at 3rd level, gain points that they can spend on specialized training that gives permanent fixed bonuses. These do not stack with bonuses of the same name, so a +2 Strength enhancement bonus would not stack with the +4 given by Bull’s Strength. All magic items in the game with a “plus” have been removed. However, all spells and abilities that boost with a “plus” still exist and have their usual uses. You will still find magical weapons, but they may be the Flaming Sword of Pellinor (with flaming property), and this item continues to have use to a fighter instead of being discarded at higher levels. This opens the door to having magical items which carry more meaning and purpose while still preserving party power levels to have success against gradually escalating foes. It also lessens the likelihood of “throwaway” magic items such as a collection of Rings of Protection +1.
Rules: Starting at 3rd level, players get training points to spend on a list of non-magical, permanent fixed abilities. Players are not obligated to spend points and may accumulate them, but a player can only gain the abilities when advancing a level. If it isn’t obvious, bonuses must be purchased in ascending order.
Mechanics: Training Enhancements do not allow a player to overcome DR. Weapon enhancements such as flaming are treated as the equivalent “plus” they cost to add for purposes of bypassing DR. Crafting will subsequently be slightly easier as there will be no +1 requirement on a pre-existing weapons/armors to begin adding other enhancements. Items will be more vulnerable to sundering, but a character’s battle capability isn’t entirely tied into one weapon.
Wealth by Level: This system takes the value of the boost by comparing it to existing gear and assigning a point cost at a ratio of 1000gp value to 1 point. This accounts for the cost of each boost. The training points gained is based off a 75% principle, drawn from the WBL tables in which it is presumed 25% of wealth goes to offensive items, 25% to armor, and 25% to miscellaneous (generally “plus” items), settling in the middle at 50% to accommodate all classes. The below table gives players 50% of WBL in training abilities. Pre-requisites are also built in to assume that no more than 25% of a character’s wealth is generally spent on a single item. All point costs for abilities include the cost beforehand, so if you tally the entire Weapon Training line to +5, it would convert to 50,000.
As such, GM’s using this system should adjust in game wealth accordingly to 50%. The below chart has been converted off the WBL table by multiplying the WBL by .50 and reducing to a ratio of 1 to 1,000.
Level Training Points Gained
Weapon Training (2): The character receives a +1 fixed enhancement bonus to attacks and damage with a class of weapons (select from Fighter class), unarmed attacks, or natural weapons (must select one type of attack, such as claw or bite). Must be at least level 4.
Defensive Training (1): The character receives a +1 fixed enhancement bonus to the effective armor bonus of any one type of armor, shield, or bracers worn, or the character receives a fixed +1 resistance bonus to their Fortitude, Reflex, and Willpower saves.
Protection Training (2): The character receives a +1 fixed deflection bonus to AC, or a +1 fixed natural armor bonus to AC. Must be at least level 4.
Ability Score Improvement: Note: players cannot use the Double Focus or Full Package improvements to mix and match mental and physical increases. The Double and Full must be all mental or all physical attributes.
Singular Focus: select a mental (Int, Wis, Cha) or physical (Str, Dex, Con) attribute to apply a +2 fixed enhancement bonus. Costs (4) and must be at least level 6.
Double Focus (must have Singular Focus): increases a second mental or physical ability score beyond the Singular Focus. The second score increased can never be higher than the Singular Focus attribute.
Full Package (must have Singular and Double Focus): increases a third mental or physical attribute score beyond the Singular and Double Focus. The third score increased can never be higher than the Singular or Double Focus attribute.
Wealth Boost: The player comes into unexpected wealth and may exchange 1 training point for 1,000gp.
In our intro, I told the party they're at Oleg's (gave the premise) and with a diceless half-session we role-played how everyone met and happened to know one another. This allowed me to introduce some politics in the form of a wedding assassination and to get some NPC contacts. Party loved it as they were building the entire intro story - linking party backgrounds - from scratch and it was spontaneous (likely they were expecting the usual "you start the campaign with a fight in a tavern..." motif.)
You can award XP once for "defeating" a villain, but if he comes back, you wouldn't award twice. Recurring bad guys aren't bad, but if you plan for the bad guy to stay away, award loot in some other way (maybe the grateful peasants give up an ancient heirloom, or the merchant's guild pools together for a reward).
But as far as intelligent enemies, unless they're diagnosibly arrogant and supremely confident in their abilities, running is always an option. A dragon might not ("a teeny tiny human is no threat"), but certainly a lich would flee (after all, they've worked so hard for eternal life to just throw it away).
Resurrected this thread as I'm working up an AoW campaign and also want to insert the Tomb of Horrors (in lieu of the expanded whispering cairn). Once they enter the portal, it will transport them to the inner hall of the tomb, with a naked Allustan within. Allustan had retrieved a "portal key" from the other side that allows one to make a return trip only to have lost it (he attempted teleportation and wound up in this state).
Of course, his gear is now in the finale room of the tomb along with the portal key necessary to escape. I'm debating inserting a "timer" in the form of an outside event (more gloom and doom on Diamond Lake) so that the party does not avail itself of infinite rest time.
By completing the Tomb, the party will (later) know exactly where to go to get the Sphere should they wish to do so.
Don't be surprised if your players waltz through some overland encounters. Sometimes it's nice to smack down a monster. You should type in a search as numerous gamers have provided their own additions, such as Dudemeister's work. For example, the Baron and his allies can be a more intriguing challenge if done diplomatically. Hints are made on how access to the keep can be had besides the "secret way," so I'd expand on that (e.g. the Baroness's birthday party).
The baron's having an affair with a spy mistress who is sending secret communicades; so much goodness here that you should work on giving hints about getting in that don't all lead to combat. I fleshed out a cell of resistance in the town, then others who recalled the Baron's glory days when he wasn't all bad.
As to Armag:
Don't be surprised if your party uses scrying and totally makes this easy. Just don't let Armag leave the tomb; he's a much more effective and scary foe when there's limited quarters to maneuver. With that said, Armag while tough on his own may not be the challenge everyone is expecting him to be. But don't forget, that's a really bad sword he's carrying, and if other barbarians get wind that the party has this sword, it could cause an invasion. That may be the real challenge. There is no given means how to destroy it; I have posted some thoughts involving the Boneyard in another post or two.
Maybe an archetype that isn't statistically dominant and see if you can pull it off?
Have an elven inquisitor in our campaign, and she switched from sword n' shield to two-handed recently (elven curve blade, keen) and hasn't looked back. The constant threat of critical hits along with Bane ensures she's going to hurt most anything she comes across very badly. It's the first foray anyone has made into the class, so have not explored archetypes.
1. I have checked the wikipage, and decided I wanted to play assassin, of course starting as a rogue, so what would be the ''best'' race and starting stats for the class?
For role-playing, you should go with a race that intrigues you. Generically if you're combat focused, stats should begin with emphasis in DEX, then CON, STR, INT, WIS, and then CHA. A medium-sized class with a +2 that can be put in DEX is ideal. You can swap CON and STR for some extra damage, but most of a rogue's damage is done from sneak attacks.
3. How can I make my assassin/rogue good at dps, effective in trap finding and such?
Flank your opponents and improve your initiative so you can catch opponents "flat-footed" in the first round. Consider two-weapon fighting. Don't worry about "keeping up" with other classes. It's a team effort, not a video game. A tabletop rogue isn't a World of Warcraft rogue. You bring a ton of skills to the table that will aid the party in more than just combat. Otherwise, skill points are required in Perception and Disable Device to help find and disarm traps.
5. How does min/maxing work in Pathfinder?
Just like it sounds. Rather than choosing your ability scores and abilities for role-play flavor, you're going for combat supremacy and probably use an online "guide" to a particular class. It can make for bland, cookie-cutter characters. It's simply a matter of preference.
6. What is the ''best'' composition in the game for a 4 - 6 player session?
The classic D&D party was a fighter (soaks damage), thief (skills and traps), wizard, and cleric. The point is to have diversity so that there are more options to overcoming challenges. Sometimes you need a fighter to bash down that door, other times you need a cleric to cast water breathing. Don't worry about which class is "more powerful" than other class. Just make sure you're having fun playing the class you have chosen.
7. Some of the players are sort of still in those stereotype pandering, despite being young adults, so they believe roleplaying is only something ''basement dwelling virgins'' do, so how can that be dealt with? Can we just do it like a hack and slash game with no roleplay or is it a must, if not then is it possible to help such a player at least try it?
It's no different than a poker club to play cards that meets once a week. While I don't have to let the world know I play cards on Thursday nights, I don't act ashamed or hide it. Pathfinder challenges me to think on my feet and I enjoy it. 'Nuff said. As to style of play, new players probably need more combat just to get a feel with intermittent chances to interact with NPCs. I would start with role-play encounters like "the guy at the bar has been bad-mouthing your claim that you killed those goblins. He now walks over and spits in your beer. Are you going to do anything about it?" Later on down the road, mature gamers will get more complex interactions, such as political intrigue.
First, are you enforcing the "ineffective weapon" clause on breaking objects? Certain weapons just can't effectively deal damage to certain objects. For example, a bludgeoning weapon cannot be used to damage a rope. Likewise, most melee weapons have little effect on stone walls and doors, unless they are designed for breaking up stone, such as a pick or hammer. Link here
It won't matter if the weapon is especially hard. It just isn't designed to burrow, and it's not a light saber that disintigrates matter before it.
Beyond that, if you are allowing tunneling with adamantine, are you accounting for how they're clearing the rubble created? As noted, the weapon isn't disintigrating the rock. Otherwise, the rules for cave-ins only provide when half the support for a roof is gone then it collapses. The rest is arbitrary, but for the untrained tunneler, they'll have no clue if they are destroying something essential, and you should enforce Knowledge-Engineering checks of some sort.
Rules on Cave In or Collapse (CR8): Cave Ins
I made my players figure out a way to cross rivers, and the author makes careful note of where there's fords and where there's a broken bridge, and what terrain surrounds the river (like the brambles). It rewarded players who took swimming and resulted in some creativeness.
By the time the players got to the 2nd book, their skills were significant enough and they'd had enough "real world" experience that I didn't enforce checks (barring something unique).
There comes a time when you've got to boot a troublesome player. If you're down to attempting to solve issues in-game when out-of-game has failed, you're going to have a 0% success rate. I'm betting she digs in her heels even further when you try to make her "see the light" by exposing how badly she plays.
Your GM should be taking control of the situation and is not, which is a problem. The GM is not solely some neutral arbitrator behind a screen; they're a person sitting down with friends to enjoy a game. Have you talked to your GM about nixing these behaviors, or at least the knitting?
With that said, I have in-game been successful once with a GM and player-coordinated effort, but the player was a good friend so I was willing to try. Every time negative behavior came up, we stopped the game and had a talk. The other players conveyed that their characters wouldn't be willing to sacrifice their life and time for someone who treats them that way. We then discussed we're all friends (in some way shape or form) away from the table, and as friends we didn't want to play that way. In this circumstance (my only experience trying this), it worked, and likely only because we'd all known one another for years.
Pathfinder characters will be stronger than 3.5 characters (more feats, more abilities, higher hit/skill points), so while conversion is generally minimal, your combats may be softer than expected. An easy accomodation, especially with a party of 5 Pathfinder characters, is to begin players at one level lower than the campaign (e.g. start them at 9th level, not 10th) and run the campaign this way. From experience this works fine. However, if your players are brand new (and I'm guessing not if you're running them through an epic themed module), I would leave things as is to account for growing pangs.
As to lots of summoned monsters, a common player frustration is when other players (whether intentionally or not) monopolize the table time with summons or a lot of dice rolling. You don't want to spend 10 seconds a turn with the bard only to spend 5 minutes with the conjuror. I recommend having summoning players print note cards of their monsters (index card sized) and ask other players to handle the attacks if there's more than one creature in play for them.
(Random, but remember, if the player cannot communicate with the summoned creature, it attacks obvious threats and unless intelligent doesn't use advanced strategy).
My Irovetti is closely tied to the Strocalle family and drug trade, he's got his hands in quite a bit. Could begin smuggling some bad batches to your kingdoms. Otherwise, I went with the former adventurer angle who has some twisted appetites and studies his opponents much like he'd study a script to a play.
Used Jason's Arcane Duelist angle, altered an item or two (Irovetti knows his foes), and we're paused in the middle of our 2nd battle with the king. He is lethal, as he should be, and the party wants him dead. The 2nd time around, they made back door deals with houses not so loyal to Irovetti. The Pitax info is minimal but gives plenty enough for some intrigue.
Kingmaker is pretty light (book 3 has a kidnapping scene you'd want to modify) and involves group decisions on how to build one's kingdom from scratch as well as playing "king" and "magister." However, being "sandbox" it is very free-form and may be difficult for younger kids to grasp when the adventures don't come to them. Out of all the paths, it is probably the most adaptable for content.
"We Be Goblins" is a free and very light-hearted Paizo adventure - get it here - and the goblin characters are already pre-made. I'd begin with a few stand-alone modules to get into the swing of running games before launching into (or investing in) a full-blown campaign. You'll eventually get a feel for what is a level-appropriate challenge, both combat and non-combat.
People write guides for first-time gamemasters, but here's 5 that come to mind:
1. The game must go on. Don't be afraid to make errors and make up something on the fly; it WILL happen and you'll look up the rule after the game. Same with players, they need to know their abilities and not pause the game.
2. Communicate with your players as to what type of game they're looking for and expectations. Don't run Skulls & Shackles if your players are looking for a kingdom-builder like Kingmaker.
3. Make your NPCs and world come alive, and don't be shy about bad accents and mannerisms. While not every NPC has a lisp, they have quirks. Maybe one tavern owner likes to tell stories of when he fought off the rabid boar of Timmeran (much to the groan of the audience that has heard it many times before). Don't spend too much time describing everything, but be ready if someone asks.
4. Prep! Know your module inside and out, same with monsters. If you see an ability listed, look it up. If it's too much, make a "cheat sheet" by putting blurbs about important abilities, spells, etc., so you don't pause the game flipping through a book to find them.
5. Be flexible. Let the story build around the players. Don't say "no" when a player tries something. If they want to swing from a chandalier onto the kobolds below, and you have no clue how to rule it, just go with it. If they don't trust that NPC that wants to give them a crucial map for the adventure, maybe they get it from somewhere else, perhaps loot off a kobold that took it from the NPC when he ventured forth himself to find the treasure. You get the idea.
Seconding talking to the players to ensure they are playing their characters. A 1st level former militia guard turned player character is unlikely to know the weaknesses of a caryatid column. As a joke, you could insist that if players are going to substitute what they know versus what their characters know, they should have to make the climb and acrobatics checks as well or their character fails them. Hopefully they'll get a laugh and see the point.
Get them hyped about the upcoming campaign, the setting, the atmosphere, so that their focus will not be so much on playing a monstrous race but rather finding something that fits into the campaign. Then have a talk about what works and what will or will not be allowed. I can't imagine they've been coming to your game table for that many years solely because you run a high-power campaign.
Coincidence, but one of my Kingmakers chose an inquisitor of Sarenrae. We discussed there are no established temples and it wasn't a regional fit, then figured background from there using the swordlord angle. She came from afar and had been training Aldori style, taking the campaign trait reflecting such.
In Book 5, we spent half a session with intrigue from the Pitax section. Although written more for flavor, it ended up fueling quite a bit of the day's activities.
In summary, after a failed attack on the Keep in Pitax, the party worked with the Liacenza family, whom the King had wronged, and persuaded the Vascari family to throw in support provided that the players ensured Jhofre Vascari ascend to the throne and marry a female PC to seal the alliance. Vascari would then require the player kingdom troops to root out the Strocalle family and the thieves' guild, which controls the black market and drug trade. During said meeting, the Cattanei family backed out refusing to put a pretender family on any throne and had to be eliminated.
The session went quite a bit more detailed, but you get the gist, all from supplemental material in the back of the book.
I could probably come up with a dozen cool moments, but this one was purely from the material as written. As for the mites, I'm glad no one died in my party (though it was very close). Who wants to say they were taken down by mites, or a giant tick? Just not a story one retells over a brew at the tavern.
#1. Completely within the rules. Does not fool blindsense, tremorsense, etc., and faerie fire is a good spell to reveal invisible targets if one knows the square the enemy is in.
#2. Are you using the Variant Rules for clerics? Assuming you are, it appears your player cleric is using the Rulership Variant Feat in order to use a "harm" channel (requiring neutral or evil alignment) to daze living enemies one round. He can do this as many times as he has a channel. The effect deals 1/2 of the channel damage and, if the Will save vs. channeling is failed, are dazed 1 round as well. This will not work against undead, constructs, or anything that is otherwise immune to negative energy.
Once this variant is chosen, the player cannot use the original rules for channeling, though they can apply feats that modify channeling.
If it all checks out on paper, then this does apply. On a personal level, I do hope the player is choosing Rulership and the variant for a roleplaying reason and not because it gives a great combat bonus. But I digress...
Beyond the thought that Emergency Force Sphere should be banned, immediate actions operate much like a readied action (if X happens then Y occurs) but without having to state a precondition (unless the spell requires one). Actions that can be readied include move, standard, and swift, but not immediate since they function as a readied action in response to a situation. Most (if not all) spells that are immediate casts generally state a precursor event, aka the event it is readied against.
For example, the Bard spell Saving Finale (APG, 1st level) allows a bard to end his song as an immediate spellcast to allow one creature affected by the song to reroll not only a saving throw but a failed saving throw. This spell is more detailed on how the immediate action should take place, and I would use it as guidance.
Hence, the Sphere was written allows itself to be used reactively to an attack (assuming one is not flat-footed). Personally I'd ban it because an instantaneous invulnerable shell is just too strong for a 4th level spell. But if in play, I'd have to allow players who can react to attacks to cast it in response to an event (being attacked), and thereby interrupt the effect of that event, much like Saving Finale would interrupt the effect of a failed save by preventing the effect from setting in (ignoring the versimilitude of how one player would know a creature in range has actually failed a save...).
Agree with Slim that it could not be used after being hit because it couldn't "interrupt" the damage then.
This is our 4th PC death in the Keep so far. And the battle is not yet over...
Players returned to the Keep after making a deal with the Vascari and Liacenza families, offing the Cattanai patriarch in the process. As mobs roamed the city and clashed with the guards, the players attacked the keep and drew the King's ire. I recast Irovetti as an Arcane Duelist, which with some precast buffs and the right equipment makes him just plain nasty. They'd already been slaughtered by him before in a botched attempt, and this one kept with the tradition though the battle is far from over and angry mobs of starving citizens, tired of martial law, have poured into the open keep doors. The King cast his above spell and Svany fell prostrate, worshipping the King, at which time bodyguard Villamor Koth did the coup de grace.
Fortunately for the players, they have cast multiple successful dispels, stripping away some powerful spells that were making Irovetti near-invincible in combat. With the mobs in the keep, curious to see how this one plays out.
A most brutal back-to-back series of sessions wherein 3/4 of the PCs perished....One, a rogue, managed to hide out in the wine cellar for a few days and later sneak out invisibly. It brings our PC death tally to 8 so far, with 1 retirement and 1 converted to evil per an artifact. Been a rough ride but the players are resilient!
The party used invisibility to enter Irovetti's keep and were spotted in the King's throne room during an audience. Irovetti was being attended several guards, troll fighters, and his generals. It wasn't pretty. Greatly outnumbered and outgunned, the characters went down one by one. Tempest, as general of the kingdom, was beheaded by Irovetti as an example to dissidents. The player has the only original character from 1st level, and thanks to a wish spell, she will rise again.
As with Tempest, went down making a run for it when things went bad.
New to playing a caster after his last character went down, the player launched chain lightning and a quickened fireball at the enemies. Had he lived past the next round when a hasted Villamor Koth went into a rage and hit him with a massive vital strike, the battle might have gone differently. But losing a PC in the 2nd round was nasty and chain-reacted into more PC deaths. The player was running a fighter last session, and his body was finally recovered in the wilderness where he had died. He'll get his fighter back, which he is much more comfortable with!
Looking for people to provide features they would prohibit from play (or significantly alter) and a short snippet as to why so that I may see if I'm missing anything.
Before our next campaign I'm drafting a character creation guide that lists prohibited/altered material (generally things that have been identified as unwieldly in play or creating substantial problems). Some of my thoughts are taken from Society play, others from tabletop experience, and others from these forums.
My Proposed Lists-
Race and Classes
For setting only, there are no firearms, samurai, or eastern weaponry.
Alchemist: Poison Conversion & Siege Bomb discoveries barred. No
Barbarian: Wild Rager archetype not allowed.
Clerics, Druids: Nobility domain Leadership feat replaced with Persuasive feat. No Undead Lord clerics allowed.
Fighter: Gladiator archetype not allowed. (try reading it and you’ll see why)
Ninjas: Bombs are Supernatural, not Extraordinary abilities. For setting, ninjas use rogue weapon list and are a variant.
Rogue: Driver archetype not allowed and black market connections talent
Witch: No Gravewalker Witches allowed.
Wizard: Siege mage and spellslinger archetypes not allowed.
Drow do not exist in our setting.
Master Alchemist (APG) can only be learned by Alchemists &
Clustered Shots is not allowed. Please use Penetrating Strike.
Antagonize is not allowed.
Leadership is not allowed.
Dazing Spell metamagic feat not allowed.
Animal companions may not take weapon proficiencies.
Following traits are banned: hedge magician, magical knack,
natural born leader, rich parents, and all Campaign Traits.
Banned Create Pit spells, Emergency Force Sphere, Cacophonous Call
Charm/Hold Person not effective against trolls or giants. They've been monsters since the Red Box came out and will always be to me.
Crafting Magical Items
Allowed, but at 100% cost for anything but potions, scrolls, and wands. Items occupying the same slot can be "converted" into raw materials at 100% value towards the crafting price of the item being made.
The worst written module I've ever seen is Dragonlance #16, World of Krynn, Lord Soth's Keep (2nd Edition).
1. Premise is 18th level cleric and archmage need lower level characters to enter a death knight's keep. They can't do it themselves.
2. Impossible checks. No matter what the players do, if they approach on the drawbridge, they make noise or are noticed.
3. Idiotic encounters. A lich guarding the bridge attacks. Because it makes sense to have wizards who have sought immortality to stand around guarding bridges in the off chance some adventurer will saunter in. Also included are monsters just waiting in rooms (no ecosystem), all capped by a tarrasque chilling inside the keep in the off chance adventurers make it that far.
4. Not knowing your world. The writer includes monsters not native to the game world. Lots of them.
5. Kill versimilitude. The writer gives drow (not native to the gaming world) names such as "Waynoh Castermaster," "Jake," and "Larri Harriharri."
6. Bad guys that follow no game rules. Bad guy death knight gets to teleport in anytime, throw a fireball or summon a lot of monsters, then escape. Text indicates there's nothing the party can do about it as he taunts them.
Don't ever toss in an expectation that the party *MUST* take a certain action to complete an adventure or the entire campaign is ruined. GMs must be flexible and adapt the game world around the PCs actions, though certain actions like intentionally derailing an adventure for no reason other than to test the patience of the GM is not cool. When possible, anticipate multiple ways to "solve" encounters. If a player must make a DC 30 Perception check to notice the secret latch in order to descend into the dungeon, and there's no other way to keep the adventure going, then you've improperly funneled the adventure down to one check that the party may not be able to make.
Never include any description or text that tells players how they feel, act, etc. Don't ever make players feel like you're reading them a novel and they're along for the ride, rolling dice from time to time that really don't matter because your story will turn out the way you want regardless of the player's actions.
I saw it coming in advance as the character took off and got lost with no ranks in Survival in a hostile wilderness but kept my GM composure. Having been so used to others magicking up food and drink, he totally forgot the basics of a waterskin much less food. Had to crack open the thirst and starvation rules.
The players have come across bodies in their travels that were unknown explorers from long ago. Just never know what the wilderness brings.
I wouldn't change anything to ensure this player gets to use his charge. If you open that can of worms, next you'll need to put more demons in so the paladin can use his smite. You'll have to take out undead so the illusion-specialized sorcerer feels useful. You'll have to keep those undead so your cleric can use his channeling. And so on...
Having seen a cavalier in action, they can do quite a bit even without a mount.
Random feedback on using a more strategic mass combat system (used 2E Battlesystem, converted to Pathfinder): while entertaining at the first two battles, when a tabletop mini strategy battle takes 2+ hours, not everyone is going to participate as fully. During the War of the River Kings, the players (as much as they liked the combat rules) wanted to get on with their characters after the first few battles.
Lesson learned: the combat rules were simplified for a reason. I'd add "missions" for the players (whether it be them, or they assume control over some NPCs in the army who go on a mission that affects the outcome of the battle, such as destroying a bridge) rather than increase the time spent on mass combat.
A BRUTAL day, 3 party deaths after 7 levels without a death.
The group attempted to negotiate with the hill giant army - fifty giants, who were being paid by Pitax to invade their kingdom. When it became clear the party had nothing to offer and the giants were threatening to "take" whatever they wanted, the players tried activating various fly abilities to flee the area. The giants, vigilant, charged on their mammoths. Odil rolled a 2 on initiative (ouch!) and was simultaneously impaled by 3/5 hill giant lancers mounted on mammoths. A Breath of Life kicked in and Odil was alive, but when a party member tried to help while invisible, the giants set their mammoths to trampling the area, effectively destroying the halfling and the other PC. To add insult to injury, the giants collected the corpses of the two and put them in a stew, then threw the bones to feral dogs.
She was the player who attempted to help Odil while invisible and died when the mammoths began trampling the area. The player (in real life) was pretty upset about the death and the rest of the group chipped in (long story) to get her a Wish and bring Tempest back to life.
This one is odd. In search of high-level clerics to help resurrect his friend Odil (above), Svany decided to use a Wind Walk spell cast by another to fly to Mivon and find a powerful caster since Cayden Cailen was not a big fixture in Brevoy. He got lost. He'd never been to Mivon alone, much less flying. He eventually had to land and forgot to bring food or water, having relied on his clerical friend to conjure food each day. Although he foraged, he barely had enough to survive. To complicate matters, he had contracted filth fever from a rat swarm days earlier and it hit him. To complicate matters even worse, in the middle of the night in a forest, shambling mounds snuck up on him. He escaped with a handful of hit points only to succumb to the filth fever, fatigue, and starvation/thirst the next morning. His friends, thinking he'd be gone a few days, paid his absence no mind...
True, in D&D 3.5 it was noted that domesticating giant weasels as mounts was one of the kobold's greatest achievements. Perhaps instead of tatzlwyrms, the party can import some giant weasels to the area?
Kobolds wouldn't have the culture to even begin to know how to groom, train, rear, and care for mounts. Tatzlwyrms are feral beasts; you'd be just as successful asking your human population to try and catch wolverines and train them to hunt rats like house cats.
Anyways, what do the kobolds think of this? I wouldn't shoot down every idea of the players, but surely the kobolds wouldn't be keen on trying to domesticate something that eats them.
Played through much of Jason Nelson's original draft material (all except the final battle with Irovetti) and here's what we experienced:
Summary: great stuff. Players need to be kept on their toes and taken outside their comfort zone from time to time. I used the Tower of Jewels, Jousting Rules, and altered Whiterose Abbey ambush.
- Tower of Jewels: Entertaining even without a rogue. Slow and steady is the best way since one just needs the 5,000gp gem to win. The barbarians climb at an insane pace but just snatched random gems before they fell. Our player used survival to turn her clothes into a climbing device after falling, despite the catcalls. She couldn't appraise worth a darn though.
- Jousting is hard. Our cavalier went down to a hedge knight in the first round. Ouch. Of course, rolling a 3 and a 5 in the same round usually does one in... I liked the idea that players can't just get on a horse and be successful, but unless one is mounted-combat full bore, winning the Joust probably isn't in the cards. Even then, it's at best a 50/50 proposition.
- The Whiterose Abbey ambush was tremendously more satisfying than as written in the module, but one must know their party before springing it. If I didn't think any of the players had a way out, I wouldn't spring it. Environmental hazards are great to shake things up. The rat swarm is plain nasty (the distraction DC is brutal). Still, it gave our travel domain cleric who usually supports a chance to use his offensive spells for the first time since he was the only one who could get out before the rats came.