Even though I don't use miniatures much these days (most of my games are conducted via Skype and I rarely have the time/money for maps and minis), seeing this guy has rekindled my interest in the adventure path itself! It's a BBEG if I ever saw one, and a refreshing shift from standard dragons, demons, and liches. Wish I could plonk him down on a tabletop to freak out the party...
In my game, Crimson's one-half religious zealot (s$+* might hit the fan when he finds out the party's bone oracle practices necromancy and is not, as she convinced him, a fellow adherent to Pharasma's doctrines), and one-half shady black market dealer. If I was running the game just a smidgen sillier, he'd have an oversized coat with oversized pockets to pull all of his goods from. I suspect that he'll end up as the new ship's quartermaster if none of the PCs take the job.
I can also vouch for Owlbear; despite our barbarian captain whaling on him in their first encounter, the party's rather fond of the big guy (if only because it's good to have such the massive brute as your friend instead of as your enemy).
I was less concerned about spoilers and more concerned about annoying the players with "Wow, there sure was a lot of cool stuff going on recently that you guys can't get directly involved with!"
It's mostly hypothetical, though. I'm just about to start Skull & Shackles, so it will probably be quite some time until I even have the option to play this.
First thought: Disappointment that this isn't a high fantasy space opera campaign, which is what my mind jumped to when I first heard the title.
Second thought: As much as I like Varisia, I'm a little tired of adventure paths that focus on it.
Third thought: Oh, but making the Pathfinder Society a central element is cool! It's always been one of the setting's more memorable features.
General impression so far: It looks like a fun return to basics, but unless I'm missing something there doesn't seem to be a big "do all this and you'll be able to achieve X!" hook. Skull & Shackles let you become pirate lords, Jade Regent sent you on a journey across continents, but all I'm getting from this is relatively generic threats of ancient evil. Seems like wasted potential, especially when the Pathfinder Society's role could give you an excuse to travel across the entire Inner Sea region.
Lots of good ideas here. Even though this is the first pre-written campaign I've run in ages, I sometimes forget that I can just change or ditch anything that I don't like.
Dinosaurs are a must, though I'll have to look the whole path over and make sure that the authors aren't saving them for later. It'd be a shame to play that card too early and lessen the effect later on.
The voices are why I'm conflicted about potentially doing the game over voicechat on Skype. On one hand, what's the point of a pirate game if you can't do pirate voices? On the other, I'm not sure if my range of pirate voices is big enough.
That said, on my short-lived initial run several months back I started out trying to make Harrigan Keith David. I couldn't quite pull it off but I liked the result: deep and rolling, with a kind of laid-back menace.
Plugg is nasaly and British, though more the former than the latter. Not sure about Scourge just yet.
For Fishguts, I mixed the generic pirate "accent" with drunken slurring to the point of being unintelligible. I plan on making his voice clearer and clearer the more he sobers up, but maintain a heavy use of maritime slang and euphemisms.
I was worried about Riaris Krine, because she apparently "makes Rosie Cusswell sound like a nun" and I was already going to give the halfling a Carlinesque vocabulary; where to go from there? Then I decided to get clever and just convey her messages to the players with the addendum, "I'd tell you what she actually SAID, but even I have my limits with these things."
Hmm... I think enabling Hero Points might be the best way to keep them out of Pharasma's grasp; I might even restrict its use to Cheat Death.
spoilers about bulking up encounters
I think I'll wait and see how they do with a few unmodified encounters first. If things are too easy, then I'll ramp things up.
spoilers about deadliness
I'll keep all of that in mind. I've been considering cutting out the swarms and representing the botfly menace purely through disease; depends on how capable the PCs are of dealing with that kind of thing.
As for XP, they'll get some extra when the adventure path calls for a level-up.
Thanks for the advice and encouragement.
Sometime next month I plan on kicking off S&S with a group of six friends via Skype. Exactly who they'll be and who they'll be playing are up in the air, as I currently have more prospective players than I'm willing to take on at once.
My question is: will a slightly-larger-than-average party mitigate the adventure path's notorious fatality? I know that you can't overcome every hazard by ganging up on it, but at least it raises the odds of someone having the particular spell/skill/misc to prevent a tragic death.
If that's not enough, I've also considered giving the characters 25-point beginning builds, though I'm very cautious about doing so. 20 points always seemed like just the right amount to me.
You know, that's actually a good idea... though I'm worried that it might remove the incentive to do certain things; for example, dumping XP on them for befriending NPCs is a great way to encourage diplomacy. Not to mention the simple dopamine spike of being directly rewarded for your actions.
It's almost the same problem as Communism, when you think about it.
Now, I only read the first page and the last page of this thread, so I'm probably missing something, and aside from that the actual topic was derailed long ago. Still, I think it's odd that people seem to be focusing entirely on the definition of fantasy and ignoring the definition of steampunk, which is much more concrete and narrow.
Modern steampunk was invented as the anachronistic half-brother of cyberpunk: it achieves the same themes of technological dystopia from a different direction, mirroring the inventions and social trends of the industrial revolution in 19th century Europe. Though some authors insert steampunk elements into fantasy (like the China Mieville's Bas Lag books) or fantasy elements into steampunk (like Phil Foglio's webcomic Girl Genius), the genre would probably be categorized as "soft science fiction" by default.
The presence of firearms does not make Pathfinder steampunk for two reasons. First, a weapon would not be considered steampunk-themed in and of itself unless it exceeded the technological boundaries of the 19th century while still maintaining its trappings (for example, a rail gun powered by Tesla coils). The guns in Ultimate Combat are historically accurate, or at least superficially so. Second, they are a deviation from the game's central themes. There are martial artist monks in Pathfinder, but that does not make the game wuxia.
Golarion could be considered to have the rare hint of steampunk. Mostly, this is limited to the Mana Wastes and its billowing factories. But then again, Golarion is a pathwork of fantastical genres, from sword and sorcery to Lovecraftian horror.
Now, I'm not very good at eyeballing things like balance, so don't expect any of that from me.
The first thing that jumps out at me is that all of the options seem to have been made by chopping up the existing races and working out the values of their abilities. And while I think that's a good starting point and the presented array is quite serviceable, it leaves out some relatively basic features because they can't be found in said races. For example: extra limbs. Looking at the eidolon evolutions would be a good place to start if you're going to improve the range of selections.
Second, at lot of the prerequisites seem arbitrary. There's nothing distinctively elven about Elven Magic, aside from the fact that Pathfinder elves have it. I'd suggest making things a little more generic, and assume that people will be using this for their homebrew settings (I know I will).
In short, it isn't quite as flexible as I had hoped, but it's still functional and I'm pleased with the product as a whole.
Most of my opinions have already been stated, but here's what I always say first when I'm trying to explain why Golarion is cool: one of the main gods ASCENDED TO DIVINITY ON A DRUNKEN DARE! He was like, "Yeah, yeah I can reach the staaar-hic-stone! Jus' you wash!" And then three days later there was a powerful new force of Chaotic Good in the world.
I also appreciate just how much of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink the place is. There's room for any type of character if you do your research.
And you know, even though I complained about it in the first thread, I'm slowly starting to warm up to the idea of all the gods just being regional deities (though it would make more sense of they were created through belief, like Discworld gods).
I haven't had a chance to read through most of this thread, so I might come back and add anything that comes to me later, but the first thing that comes to mind: Arcadia, going by the little we know about it, seems like a wasted opportunity for weirdness.
EDIT: Oh yeah, and there's a slight problem with the hinted-at deities of Tian Xia and Fantasy India (can't remember the name). It implies that most if not all of the default gods are regional deities, and yet they're usually treated as if they're the only gods. I mean, where were Iori and his three thousand siblings when Rovagug was trying to eat the planet? Did Aroden's death matter to the people on the other side of the world who never knew he was alive?
Unless Ultimate Equipment has rules for motorcycles or something equally cool, I'm not interested. Between the Advanced Player's Guide and Ultimate Combat, there's plenty of gear available already.
It's good to know that the Advanced Race Guide will include races from the Jade Regent adventure path, and I hope Bestiary 3 has enough clockwork monsters to justify the new category.
Dragon riding wouldn't really work in a D&D-based game because dragons are ancient, highly intelligent, and incredibly proud. Okay, it's not impossible to enslave one or earn its respect, but that sounds more like a major in-game achievement to me than a prestige class. Wyvern riding, on the other hand... yeah, I can see it.
If he wants to devote himself to a specific cause rather than a specific deity, I would suggest at least looking at the oathbound paladin from Ultimate Magic. The Oath of Loyalty would work if he'd dedicated to protecting Ameiko (or anyone else on the caravan), or if he wants to avoid the whole NPC romance angle he could take the Oath of Chastity.
I think I'll just replace the weapons with their "Western" equivalents in all but description. Personally, I don't like it when very similar weapons are given different stats just because they come from different cultures and have different designs. Katana is just another word for bastard sword in my games.
I had her pegged as a pirate, but it turns out that she's a loose-cannon cop! Her backstory, especially the magical teleportation plot point, really highlights how varied Golarion is and how different the other regions must seem to each other.
Sole complaint in regards to the art: I can't really tell that she's half-Garundi at all. Quite the pale one, she is. Must have gotten it from her mother.
My definition of fantasy is pretty broad; it basically boils down to, "Anything that has magic in it, and some things that don't, I know it when I see it." The Dresden Files books are a fantasy series, and it takes place in modern Chicago and stars a wizard detective who carries a pistol for situations when fireballs won't do the trick.
What I normally define as "D&D fantasy" doesn't have firearms in it by default, but if they're primitive enough and don't replace bows then I'm all for including them. Golarion fits the bill rather nicely: a gunslinger anywhere outside of the Mana Wastes is seen as a dangerous oddity.
I've been wondering which of the Golarion gods would want Holy Guns in their employ... definitely Abadar, since his holy weapon is the next closest thing to a gun, and it fits Sarenrae's philosophy of, "If you have to kill someone, do it quick." Dwarves are real traditionalists, but guns also represent masterful crafting, so I'm unsure where Torag would stand. Erastil would unquestionably blow a gasket over KIDS THESE DAYS AND THEIR BLACKPOWDER WHY IN MY DAY ALL HUNTERS NEEDED WAS A BRANCH AND SOME DEER TENDONS AND THEY COULD FEED THEIR FAMILIES FOR A YEAR!
Also, as an aside: anime isn't an art style, it's a medium. Try comparing Fist of the North Star with Lucky Star and then see if you still think they're the same style.
All of those archetypes made me make rather embarrassing noises, just like when the UM list came out.
I agree that a lot of the new weapons seem redundant and confusing, but the knowledge that they'll come in convenient packages rather than a single great deluge of options is quite comforting. I doubt that any of the siege weapons will be viable for player use; at least, not if they plan on being even slightly mobile. Still, I won't say no if you offer me something along the lines of Detritus's Piecemaker.
More racial weapons would be neat. Speaking of which, there should be some manner of archetype, feat chain, and/or prestige class that lets halflings get more mileage out of slings.
Oh, and more non-magical ways to augment weapons and armor. Maybe new qualities like "spiked" and "serrated" that can be added to certain weapons for a price.
A lot of the other ideas in this thread are good, but I like the "bomber rogue" archetype the best.
The funny thing is that if Galt existed in Terry Pratchett's Discworld, I wouldn't bat an eye, and I'd probably love it. Since I generally adore humor and whimsy (including dark stuff) in fantasy (and why I like the Golarion goblins,) it feels a bit weird that the tone of Galt sets me off. Maybe I need to rethink my thoughts on the matter.
Speaking as someone who loves the little modern touches in Golarion, I agree that Galt seems particularly Pratchettian. And if I ever need to explain Ustalav to one of my friends in a hurry, I'll just say, "It's this setting's Uberwald."
Damn, now I'm wondering how he'd present the Pathfinder Society itself. Probably as a parody of travel agencies. "Well the Candlestone Caverns are just crawling with gremlins in early summer... I can book your party a ship to Andoran later this month, but one of you will have to sleep in the cargo hold."
I remember something from one of the books saying that some people suspect all gnomes of being the individual sensory nodes of an extradimensional being in the First World. Now that's a conspiracy for you!
I think that the best way to show off Golarion would be to focus on the Pathfinder Society itself. Maybe have the PC be a rookie who interacts with the iconics from time to time. Alternatively, make it an old-school, Final Fantasy style RPG where all of the iconics are available as party members but you can only travel with four or five of them at a time.
All this talk about human skill points is confusing me, probably because I wasn't around for the original thread.
Personally, I've always used the houserule that when a character's special ability is based on X + ability modifier, modifiers of less than zero count as zero (or as Randall worded it, you use the bonus instead of the modifier). Otherwise it's possible, like kikanaide pointed out, to have negative uses of an ability. The same goes for skill ranks. Personally I don't think it's unbalancing, because you're still only getting the bare minimum and the low score is still going to effect your skills and such. Also note that it doesn't apply to dice rolls, so the power of a CHA 5 cleric's energy channel would be severely weakened.
Despite its numerous issues, I love the summoner class because the creative freedom presented by a fully customizable magical creature is downright mouth-watering. So let's see just how many neat concepts we can think up for a first-level summoner's eidolon, using just three evolution points.
The Boxer: has the body of an muscular man with disproportionately large fists and the head of a square-muzzled dog. Biped; improved damage (slam), scent, slam (replaces claws).
Slithers: a halfling-sized slug-like thing that compensates for its weakness with tough and slippery skin that lets it avoid most attacks. Small serpentine; improved natural armor, ability increase (Dex).
Personal Armorer: a slightly gnomish, slightly dwarven lackey that supplies its master's party with equipment. Small biped; skilled (Craft (armor)), skilled (Craft (bows)), skilled (Craft (weapons)).
I really want to see your ideas.
So, you wouldn't care if the dinosaur had no mechanical differences from the wolf?
That's how I did it in 4E. I figured, "Alright, they're both medium-sized pack animals that can run fast... Yeah, pretty much interchangeable."
Coming into this thread, I didn't know that Pathfinder's dino companions were exceptionally powerful.
No, but there's not much between:
"I want to play a wizard"
This whole debate has had a lot of twists and turns, so I'm not entirely sure what we're all supposed to be assuming for the sake of the argument, but I never said anything about the setting.
Anyway, it's my philosophy that PCs are exceptional by default. Why else would they be the only ones who can stop [INSERT THREAT HERE]?
"I want my new character to be a wizard!"
Sometimes you decide on a character's mechanical elements first and flesh them out after, and sometimes you start with a purely conceptual character and then assign statistics to them. You end up with the same thing either way, and how well they're actually roleplayed depends on the player.
Anyway, regarding the actual topic: I enjoy dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures in my fantasy settings, with a few exceptions. Sometimes you have to keep them hidden away on an exotic little island or plateau, but they aren't really out of place alongside magical hybrids, giants, and dire mammals. I like how 4E's default setting mentions drakes (basically small raptors) as common domestic animals used in much the same way as dogs. I also agree that they're better off without the Latin names, though it's not a very big problem.