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I suppose what I'm really looking for is a clear and complete list of all spells, items and abilities, sorted by level, that need to be accounted for by either side.
So I'm not caught out by that one weird trick that criminals hate.
With all the hundreds of spells, I would not be surprised if there is some level 1 spell that is worthless to adventurers so goes relatively unknown, but invalidates all possibility of concealing the truth. Or vice versa.
With the proliferation of magic, the simple act of getting away with murder gets a whole lot more complicated.
Let's split this into three parts:
1. THE CRIME
You're a criminal and you want to do a crime without being caught. Knowing you live in this magical world, what do you do to succeed at your crime? What precautions must you take to avoid leaving evidence that can be traced back to you?
2. THE INVESTIGATION
A crime has been done! Now from the angle of the detective, in a world where criminals can do magic, how do you perform a full and thorough investigation? What do you have to do to make sure you are not boggled or bedeviled by some sorcerous trick (or even mundane trick that takes advantage of the assumption that magic is used in the crime)?
3. THE TRIAL
This is something I've always wanted to do in a roleplaying game, but it is immensely hard. A courtroom scene, with the party attempting to present convincing evidence that their nefarious nemesis actually did the crime. Do we have a magical courtroom as well? In such a case, what happens in it and what behaviours must be enforced or accounted for?
I'd like good advice from peeps that know how to handle these things!
Addendum: For the most recent comprehensive source on the actions and attitudes of the Chaos gods, see the Liber Chaotica (2006). It is possibly considered the most suitable replacement for Realms of Chaos (removed from canon) since they pulled the book from their line.
The change and consolidation of GW's stance from 'Chaos gods are ambiguously aligned but still evil but we don't want to call them evil outright' to 'irredeemably crazy murderclowns' is pretty clear there. That may be what you're looking for.
You're really stuck on this point and I'm sorry, but the chaos gods have been described taking personal actions (not filtered through the biased outlets of followers) that are hideously and cartoonishly evil, time and time again.
You're desperate for something that is far more nuanced and cleverly written than is actually there. The descriptions you keep repeating do exist, but are far more contradicted than not. GW is not great at consistency.
The only problem I can see is if these player souls are aware that when their host dies they can simply body hop, that there isnt much consequence for failure in any task. Without the fear of death or permanent consequence there's much less motivation for the character to feel invested in combat. But you could work around that in other ways if you like.
There are loads of ways to keep people invested even if they cannot permanently die.
From an apocalyptic Underdark game that started at level 1 and ended beyond level 20, mythic 10 (the final chapter was mostly narrative, with the PCs as gods or equivalent):
From an Eberron game:
Our local groups have taken a liking to gestalt. It began because of small group sizes, and stuck even after groups grew.
It might require an entirely different system to pull off well. Pathfinder is probably unsuited for it. Oh well! Here's the idea:
The player characters are disembodied souls, perhaps deceased mortals, or elemental spirits or alien influences or something.
Player characters don't have their own body. Instead, they possess a creature to act as their body until killed, whereupon they have to possess another one. In this world, enemies aware of these possessing spirits might have wards of some kind that prevent easy possession.
If a player character dies, their soul emerges from the body and follows the party around powerlessly until an opportune body appears. This may be a subdued foe with their ward removed or broken.
Hmm. Maybe I should adapt something like Eclipse Phase rather than Pathfinder. The vast variation in power between possessable bodies would be too problematic, unless the possession 'normalises' the bodies somehow, which would also be weird.
I'm pretty sure the statblock format requires everything to have CMB and CMD scores. Things that cannot move at all still have CMB and CMD.
Here's how I might have a skeleton interpret these commands.
Destroy all living beings that enter this hall: Skeleton waits idly in hall until a living being enters, then attacks the nearest creature until it is no longer able to (creature is dead, creature has evaded skeleton's senses, etc.).
Defend this hallway. Bar entry to all who approach: Skeleton waits idly at the end of the hallway, and attacks creatures closest to the end rather than closest to the skeleton. Even that might be a tad too sophisticated for some GMs.
Plants are a bit ambiguous since a lot of them have a grapple design to them. Certainly, as a GM you could say that it is their mindless nature to just grab and kill the nearest target over and over until it can't do anything else.
Mindless constructs, unless ordered directly (I'd say requiring orders during the battle, preprogrammed tactics would not be allowed), never use sunder or disarm unless it is stated in their creature entry.
I wanted some handy, printable reference cards for creatures and stuff for my game, so I decided to fire up Magic Set Editor and fill in the necessary text.
The result! (Ignore the houserule stats such as DEF and AR.) The 'casting cost' icon in the top right is its hit dice.
I think it turned out nicely. More complex creatures may require two cards.
If you're open to 3rd party stuff:
Psion, Psychoportation Discipline (Dreamscarred Press)
Nomad’s Step (Su)
At 2nd level, as long as you maintain psionic focus, as a standard action you may teleport to a location up to 15 feet away. You must have line of sight to the location and you can bring along possessions that amount to as much as a medium load. The distance increases by 5 feet every psion level thereafter.
If you are willing to invest a feat, Fast Step reduces it to a move action.
Other than that, a Nomad Psion is basically an int-based sorcerer.
If you still insist on staying with the group, and want to be neither antagonistic nor silly:
You: "What's your name?"
Take on the burden of tracking and dividing party loot. Ask them (in character) to write their names down on the party's accounts. If one of the others insists on doing the tracking of funds, write up a book of accounts and give it to them, with the same request for names.
Meat Mountain - Barbarian Archetype
The meat mountain only has a 3/4 BAB but gains +2 STR at 1st level and every 4 levels thereafter (maximum +10 at 17th level).
Impressive Flex: At 2nd level, the meat mountain may flex impressively, adding his or her strength bonus to Charisma checks and Charisma-based skill checks. Yes, including handle animal and disguise, somehow. Flexing overcomes all. This replaces Uncanny Dodge.
Incredible Smash: At 2nd level, the meat mountain's first melee or thrown weapon attack each round while raging deals an additional 1d6 damage, plus 1d6 for every 2 levels thereafter. This replaces Rage Powers.
Fight Sense: Such a lust for battle attunes the meat mountain to any and all threats. The mere motion of steel through air incites a trembling of the thews! At 3rd level, the meat mountain gains blindsense 10 ft. plus 5 ft. every 3 levels thereafter. This replaces Trap Sense.
Tough It Out: At 5th level, the meat mountain adds his or her Constitution bonus to his or her saving throws while raging. This stacks with the existing bonus to Fortitude. This replaces Improved Uncanny Dodge.
The Vessel of Eternal Spirits
The Emperor's New Clothes
The Ring of Negative Three Wishes
The Cutting Board