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Would have preferred Kyra over Karsk for that classic quartet of party roles, but I don't blame anyone for wanting to fill the dwarf quota. Everyone sounds very true to their characters, especially Valeros.
EDIT: D'oh, I wrote Karsk instead of Harsk because that's the name of the dwarf PC in my own RotR campaign.
Even with rules in place, there's still a story element to the game and a reason to choose certain enemies besides mechanical optimization. No one's going to look at a human warlord and say, "Why does he bother if a demon can do the job better?"
Well first off I feel like your analogy with Steve and Pete doesn't reflect the matter at hand because you're talking about two player characters. I said that the mechanics exist to facilitate the PCs interacting with the setting, be it through trade, seduction, murder, or whatever else they want to do. NPCs are a different matter; yes, they use the same systems when they're dealing with the PCs (or the PCs' NPC companions if they get involved), but everything "off screen" generally proceeds without needing to roll for anything. And if you don't need rolls, you don't need the numbers that exist to modify rolls.
Second, even if we are cleaving to the rules here, saying that the Fighter is capable of nothing beyond his namesake is flat-out ignoring the options presented. Granted, the class skills are limited and the skill points are few, but a good Intimidate or Profession (Soldier) is potentially enough to justify leadership depending on context. Plus, there is nothing at all preventing a Fighter from buying respectable mental attributes or putting ranks in non-class skills. And of course, archetypes like the Cad and Tactition open up new class skills and even more skill points in the latter example. So while the Bard might have an edge in those departments, there's no reason to flat-out say that Fighters simply cannot do more than bash people.
Actually, to follow up, "suave statecraft and master plans" aren't Bard class features either. They're encouraged to have high Charisma and have access to useful skills, but their innate performance abilities are generally more useful in combat than social maneuvering (except Suggestion, but using magic to influence people can easily backfire if anyone figures it out). Plus, there is no game mechanic for plotting and scheming; it can be assumed that high Intelligence helps, but nowhere does it say that there's any kind of minimum for having and executing good ideas.
I don't want to step into the mathematical crossfire going on, but since the "no mechanical justification for leadership" thing has cropped up again...
Should I make my NPCs roll off-screen to justify their achievements? Does the town blacksmith need to make Craft checks if I want there to be weapons and armor available for purchase? By the same logic, does a BBEG's master plan require a series of Intelligence rolls to formulate, followed by numerous Diplomacy checks against the DCs needed to make their minions Helpful? If I want the PCs to encounter a town ransacked by said minions, is it necessary to play out the attack beforehand, complete with Profession (Soldier) rolls to properly coordinate?
Mechanics are only relevant in terms of how the PCs interact with everything else. Granted, this doesn't mean mental Attributes are meaningless; a spellcaster might raise his eyebrows if one Touch of Idiocy reduces a mastermind to a vegetable with minimal damage. But narrative questions like "how did he rise to power?" don't need to be answered with numbers.
Follow-up: more and more I'm seeing this as a good argument for the old-fashioned ways before Skills became a big deal. A character's ability to locate hidden treasure or negotiate with uncooperative NPCs was based on the player's ability to describe what they did rather than a bonus and a roll. These two methods have equal merit in my eyes, but things like this definitely cast the alternative in a better light.
I'm generally less concerned about things "making sense" than I am about providing fun and viable options for gameplay, given that the system is geared towards action/adventure fantasy and already uses abstractions like HP and AC. I'm not saying that simulationist elements are verboten, but if the rules work in such a way to make basic race/class combinations inherently inferior, then they're interfering with the core purpose of the game itself.
I must disclose that I don't have enough experience with Small PCs to verify if this is actually an issue or not; maybe the attack and defense benefits are enough to compensate for smaller dice. But if you're arguing that it DOES suck for them but that's okay because the math says it should, then I question your reasoning.
I don't think anyone is saying "you can't do cool fantasy with humans anymore," it's just that 99% of cool fantasy is about humans and human lookalikes already. I don't think it makes you a special snowflake for wanting something that hasn't been the default for forty years.
Though the obvious rebuttal to that is, "Then why are you playing Dungeons & Dragons?"
Well then I can certainly see where you're coming from. I can picture both of those parties working, but it depends on the campaign and setting (that first one sounds like prime Carrion Crown material). To be honest, if a player's reaction to NPC conflict is "kill 'em all" rather than "how do I win them over," then the problem may have deeper roots than their choice of species.
The best compromise I can think of is to use a setting where weird half-elemental animal people ARE the homegrown heroes, but that doesn't seem up your alley.
Might as well join in, why not.
Short-Lived First Attempt at Running the System in College:
Skull & Shackles:
Rise of the Runelords:
And if we include campaigns where a party was assembled but it never got off the ground...
Skull & Shackles
Okay, I see this topic crop up on a pretty regular basis, but it never reflects what I perceive as the norm. Are traditional "some humans, an elf, and a dwarf" parties really in the minority after decades of being the only option? Sure, you see the occasional band of exotic adventurers, but they're more visible by virtue of being exceptional.
If you ask me, adventurers are ALWAYS weird; the only reason it isn't "immersion breaking" to see an armored soldier, a healer-priest, an arcane sage, and some sneaky guy with knives all wandering around together with no ties to a larger organization is because that's the kind of absurdity that we've come to accept without questioning.
FOLLOW-UP: It should probably be noted that Golarion acknowledges this old game logic concession as an actual element of the world; most people are familiar with the idea of adventuring parties and their unique line of business, and the Pathfinder Society has all but standardized it. And I like that, because it's a game setting that really KNOWS it's a game setting and doesn't force you to awkwardly explain all the old cliches that necessitate a campaign. But I'm getting off-topic.
I haven't been keeping up with the Mythic balance debate, but it occurs to me that slapping a couple tiers of Champion onto a Fighter can give a considerable power boost along with some flashy tricks to make the battle more interesting.
Granted, that probably breaks the "no templates, no multiclassing" clause for some people.
As others have already said, I really don't care for anything that just takes you out of combat (though making everyone else rush to save a paralyzed ally, for example, can still be interesting). I once houseruled a fear effect so that once you've run away from the source it expires; the players were only incapacitated for a round or two and then had to scramble back to the fight.
I haven't encountered level loss in any of my games yet, but it seems almost antithetical to the whole way that threats work; they run the risk of killing or inconveniencing you, but you work through them to keep gaining levels. A threat that reverses that progress just doesn't fit in, especially if you're in an adventure specifically made for people of a certain level. If you ask me, it's an an element of older editions that got carried over because it's "traditional" rather than something that works in a different paradigm.
That said, I think that you can make an argument for arming your NPCs to the teeth with "cheating" magic so long as A) it doesn't overwhelm your players or B) your players are old school hardcore and want to be overwhelmed.
Rust monsters really sum up the D&D monster aesthetic to me. Their natural habitat is sprawling abandoned underground complexes, and their primary food source is the equipment of overconfident adventurers. They look like crosses between beetles and glyptodonts; I think they might have been created when Gary Gygax used a box of cheap plastic "dinosaur" toys as miniatures. Plus, they're kinda cute in a buggy way.
Owlbears probably take second place for many of the same reasons. When you run into either of those guys, you know what kind of game you're playing.
True, but that's because it's basically cyberpunk, and cyborg samurai are to that genre what sword-and-board fighters are to high fantasy.
On a thematic level, the series puts a lot of weight on being a soldier, which is what fighters do better than any other class.
Honestly, all the talk about Fighters always being minions (right-hand-men at best) makes me think that you could rip off Metal Gear Solid for BBEG motivations. Maybe someone wants to create a world where mundane soldiers aren't beholden to magic-users, a world where martial skill is valued and respected rather than used and abused. Throw in some oversized constructs and you're golden.
Yeah, that's where I got that mindset too. 4E was my first taste of D&D (having only played GURPS before), and between the system itself and the painful edition wars I learned a lot about game design philosophies. Unfortunately, I also have a strong sense of insecurity when it comes to houseruling, so it can be hard to put those lessons to use.
I think that's still a pretty reductive viewpoint, but then again, this is a pretty reductive game (see: alignments). The nature of intelligence is far, far out of my areas of expertise, and even if it was, arguing about it would just cause derailment.
Now, if you want to make a mechanically smart fighter with a limited point build, here's something that can help you: there are literally magic hats in this world that can make you smarter, wiser, and more charming. I can actually see some random amoral adventurer putting on a headband he found in a dragon's lair and suddenly thinking, "Whoa, I've been going about this all the wrong way! Political power beats loot every time. Let's see, if I invest what I have wisely and start building support, then in a few years I might be able to organize a local coup and..."
I have to say, this thread has been a great source of ideas.
In a fantasy setting, Boudicea is probably a reasonably leveled aristocrat with high Charisma and just above average Intelligence, maybe a 12. She has Diplomacy and was able to unite several tribes. (While she doesn't need to make those checks, being an NPC, I would feel bad as a DM if I didn't give her the ability to do so.) She had loads of poorly-equipped troops. Her opponents were far fewer, better trained, disciplined and equipped (higher level) and had a commander with lots of ranks in Profession (soldier) and a higher Intelligence score.
Honestly, I would not advise tacking Attribute scores onto actual people, historical or otherwise. In real life, things like how smart and skilled you are go far beyond a single numerical value, and you can't claim that anyone won or lost because of some fundamental difference in brain power.
A lot of the things I wanted to say in this thread have already been said, so a big thanks for that. I think that it's very easy to see the rules as your master instead of your tool, but in the end the mechanics are just there to keep combat scenarios balanced (at least primarily). You can have a BBEG with Int 7 who's still a tactical mastermind, so long as it's expressed through roleplaying elements rather than feats.
Just for fun, I decided to come up with a narrative explanation for the fighteriest fighter that ever fightered becoming an evil leader.
Barbarians are right at home in Numeria, and I'm in love with the concept of some all-brawn-no-brains warrior stumbling upon advanced otherworldly technology and beating monsters over the head with it. Maybe make them distrustful of magic, which is totally justified in this case, given what the Technic League did to this country.
Yeah. It's probably safe to assume that creatures with one or no biological sex have no gender roles within their own cultures, if they have any.
Ropers are weird though because they have a philosophical predisposition, and individuals (especially those that regularly interact with humanoids) might develop their own notions of gender or sexual self-identity. Given that their societies never extend beyond limited clusters, however, I would assume that it's not something that would develop and become widespread on its own.
I gotta say, if this is what this thread becomes from now on, I won't argue.
Don't see why they'd need any, since they don't seem to have their own culture and (I assume) reproduce asexually. If a humanoid decided to keep one as a friend or minion and started calling it he or she, it just might pick that pronoun up, but I can't see how an amorphous being that spends most of its time pretending to be inanimate objects could actually fill any gender role.
Giving this question serious thought was more relaxing and worthwhile than a lot of the reading I just did on the way here...
As a side note, I'm now wistfully imagining an alternate timeline where there is a 72-page-and-growing thread labelled "Homosexuality in Golarion" that is exclusively about how non-straight people are viewed and treated in the various cultures and regions of this fictional roleplaying setting. 72 pages of on-topic discussion of this touchy but very interesting subject, doubtlessly containing disagreements and debates but always sticking to the core concept, rather than diverging into other topics such as what material should and shouldn't appear in certain published works.
She also has a real interesting backstory; her elven mom had a lengthy (by human standards) relationship with her human dad, but left them in a moment of capriciousness while Liri was young. I'm pretty sure it tied in to her fascination with stories of faeries and princesses and dragons and knights, which in Alkenstar are almost as fantastical as they are here.
I briefly had the beginnings of a Kingmaker game set up, but player issues brought an end to it. Since I already have half of the books and really like the core concept, I'll probably try running it again sometime, and this will definitely come in handy. Whether or not I show my players is something I'll have to decide later.
Wrapped up my last session with this encounter; I was reeeally worried about it being too awkward for my party, but everything turned out fine. From our perspective, at least.
Shayliss's target was a half-elf barbarian with a big ego and a habit for wearing armor similar to this; he didn't have the highest Charisma score in the party, but I figured that all of the other factors would more than compensate in her eyes. She approached him while the party was having lunch at the Rusty Dragon and rolled a natural 20 on her Bluff check. He was very eager to help with the rat problem, but a couple of the other PCs wanted to come too, so she gave up. Egged on by the party's alchemist (who had an idea of what was going on), our hero went after her.
Cut to the barbarian and the shopkeeper's daughter in the basement, both very disappointed and embarrassed. You see, his primary interests are (1) fighting and (2) men. She would have let him go on his way, but then Ven came down to see his daughter hurriedly dressing herself and a strange man trying to hide behind the shelves. One failed Diplomacy check later and the poor guy's fleeing the wrath of a protective father who doesn't buy his (completely true) excuses.
The rest of the party was just amused by their companion's obliviousness, but when the -2 Diplomacy penalty kicks in they'll have to find some way to clear things up. We don't really have a designated "face" yet, but the monk is friends with Hemlock, and the Sheriff's word might be enough to put this to rest.
I'm... on the fence. A lot of these do sound interesting, and the magus did pull off the old and notorious fighter/wizard hybrid very well, so there's some precedent.
But one of my favorite things about PF as a system is that the archetypes allow the handful of "vanilla" classes to cover a wide range of concepts, even by combining elements from other classes sometimes. Unlike in 3.5, you don't need a special scout class (for example) when you can just tweak a ranger or rogue to fit the niche. In fact, I'd argue that the ninja and samurai should have just been meaty rogue and cavalier archetypes, but that's behind us now.
Furthermore, a lot of these concepts were already very close together. Rangers were already pretty similar to druids and rogues, and "battle clerics" have never been very hard to make. The magus works so well because wizards and fighters have virtually no overlap, so combining them creates something very new. From what we've seen, the battlerager is probably closest to this formula, and I'm actually pretty interested in seeing it. The barbarian and the sorcerer are already like dumber, flashier cousins to the fighter and wizard.
ALL THAT SAID, I'm interested in all the other material this book offers, even if I'm not guaranteed to buy it (or let my players use some of these hybrids if I'm feeling really curmudgeony). If there's one thing I'm always grateful for, it's the online reference document.
I can vouch that my party's half-orc sea-singer is a massive boon to the crew (though everyone is, in their own way). He once boarded an enemy ship and insulted the sailors SO HARD that they literally CAUGHT ON FIRE (Boiling Blood is crazy). I know the mass combat is supposed to be glossed over in favor of officer-versus-officer swashbuckling, but after a display like that I decided that the enemy captain would just give up.
And if you know the type, you know everything that the type entails? I'm just a little uncertain about how much people are assumed to know about monsters.
Funny story, last night my RotR party managed to discover virtually everything that skeletons can't (easily) be hurt by through trial and error. The monk smashed one to pieces with a single punch, but the second undead withstood swords, bolts, enchantments, and non-monk unarmed attacks. Went down when the cleric used his hammer to great effect.
Aw dang, I missed the official rules and just let the player look at the Bestiary entry if they met the base DC...
Do you think a default roll should be enough to know the creature's subtype and the features that come with that? So someone who rolls a 13 against a quasit could say, "I know it's a demon, so that means it probably has (standard demon strengths and weaknesses), though I can't say much about this particular specimen."
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
My first thought is that they wouldn't have the full power of their mythic tiers, because they couldn't spend all their mythic feats without the actual feats to piggyback on.
That was my initial concern too, but given that you can hold mythic feats in reserve if you don't have the prerequisite, I'd actually interpret the mythic feats less as an aspect of the tiers and more as an aspect of your regular stats that are influenced by mythicness. Sorry if that sounds confusing, it's the only way I could think of phrasing it.
It is an issue though, and I wonder if a PC who can justify more mythic feats than another of the same level and tier would be drastically more powerful as a result. Maybe something to put a limit on, if that's the case.
First I want to establish that I don't have Mythic Adventures yet, though I do have the playtest PDF.
The core of my idea is this: I want to see how a 1st-level party with 10 mythic tiers plays. From a mechanical angle, I'm interested in seeing how they would approach challenges intended for PCs five levels higher than them, and from a fluff angle, I like the idea of newbie adventurers somehow gaining immense power.
Generic Villain wrote:
Sounds fair. The other issue was that a lot of path abilities seemed to only be useful when you had multiple attacks/high-level spells/etc, but all the preview material I've seen looks like there's a wider selection now. I'm gonna have to try this out after I get the book...
Question: would there be any mechanical issues with giving 1st level characters 10 mythic tiers? It's just a little thought experiment I have.
In the playtest, the biggest issue with that was that most of the mythic feats have normal feats as prerequisites, and (aside from human monks) no one's going to have five feats already at level 1. This is also assuming I didn't overlook some kind of rule like "mythic tiers cannot exceed class levels."
I feel proud of my guys; it was never a question of who'd be in charge because our Half-Elf Barbarian was just full-on "I'M GONNA BE KING OF THE PIRATES" from the very beginning (which got her almost-one-shotted by Harrigan for giving him lip in the first session). Everyone else in the party just instinctively fell into step behind her and she's been the ringleader ever since, though she always listens to what the crew has to say. It's one of those treasured parties where everyone is very much friends with everyone else.
This might sound a little Care Bears-y, but hear me out.
What if the Runelords' shift from virtue to sin was not a simple matter of psychology? What if they began as genuine avatars of Thassilon's magically-aligned virtues, but something caused them to change in such a way that would actually be reflected by their statistics. Maybe the empire's corruption caused its leaders to follow suit, or the aboleths cast some manner of curse upon the wizards to corrupt them from within. Maybe there is some way, either deceptively simple or near-impossible, to reverse this effect and make his return a boon to the world rather than a disaster.
Granted, Wealth isn't really that much better than Greed, but one more avaricious but non-evil wizard king in the world wouldn't be too bad; if he decides to turn his resources towards trade, there could be significant but mixed impact on the region. If you go all the way and make him the new Runelord of Generousity, that's a very interesting path to explore. Just think, an extremely powerful transmutation specialist who lives for the betterment of others!
Pathfinder's already a step ahead of many other fantasy settings by actually including Africa and Asia equivalents and making interesting things happen there instead of just shoving them off the borders so not-Europe can have more attention. That said, sometimes I take a second look at some of the material and think, "If I had a friend who didn't want to play this because they were offended/uncomfortable, I wouldn't blame them."
I haven't seen the poster, but I think it could have been improved by replacing the gnoll with an actual citizen of Alkenstar. There's a lot of really cool "civilized" stuff going on down there alongside the pulp jungle monsters.
The Golux wrote:
"Baba Yaga has gone missing! There's money in it for you if you get her back! Here's her hut!" Would probably suffice on short notice.
Hmmm... would there be any problems resulting from jumping into this adventure with characters created at level 13, rather than starting at the first one in the path? The only possible one that comes to mind is magical items from previous adventures playing a vital role.
I'm not (currently) too interested in playing the whole thing, but I definitely see the gonzo appeal of making Rasputin Must Die! its own mini-campaign.
This is definitely something I'd like to see used for less "exotic" Pathfinder enemies; in fact, after GMing my party's first independent boarding attack in Skull & Shackles this Thursday, I wouldn't mind a troop statblock to represent the enemy crew!
Maybe make a booklet for it? Armies of Golarion or something along those lines? I think there's already a thread with that name...
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.