In general I'm not a huge follower of the RPG contest but I do check in on some part of it each year out of curiosity.
As a casual observer, some of my suggestions:
- I've seen enough "Wondrous" items. I'd like to see some other aspect of the game be the focus of round 1. Personally I'd like to see novel uses of existing skills.
- A "make the game better" round. I'd like to see one of the latter rounds of the competition showcase the ability of the contestant to make the game better by suggesting a subtle or wholesale change to an existing part of it OR apply existing rules in an uncommon way. Not just a new monster or encounter but something like a new stat block format, or a diceless combat resolution system, or new overland movement and exploration rules, or resolving combat using only ability checks. Something that showcases the contestants knowledge of the rules and creativity in applying them in an innovative way.
- A "stat up a legend" round. The contestant would pick a fictional (or even non fictional) character and stat them up using Pathfinder classes and abilities. Julius Caesar, Conan, Nostradamus, Nimue, Joan of Arc? What they be to you in Pathfinder rules?
Any spell (or spell like or supernatural ability that emulates a spell) that has the "death" [Descriptor].
School evocation [fire];
Yes:WAIL OF THE BANSHEE
School necromancy [death, sonic];
Devour Soul (Su) By making a touch attack as a standard action, a devourer can deal 12d6+18 points of damage as if using a slay living spell.
School necromancy [death];
That's how I rule it anyway.
Kerian Valentine wrote:
I'd like to point out that the phrase Mythic is probably what's bothering people more than the concept of Mythic rules... the entire post
What you describe is basically what bugs me about the "mythic" stuff in a nutshell. To me, the mythic levels are redundant. Everything you describe, and what I've read about as far as "mythic" inspirations, is already modeled in the existing class hierarchy. At least in my games it always has been.
Examples (the classes and levels are arbitrary, it's the progression that matters):
I just don't understand where the "mythic tiers" fit within the existing class system on a narrative level.
To a common farmer, a 12th level cleric seems mythic. A 12th level cleric can create water at will and bring people back from the dead, certainly "godlike" powers to a farmer, or even a 2nd level person. So to that same farmer, what is a 12th level cleric with 1 mythic tier?
What is a cleric 2/mythic tier 2 cleric to a 12th level cleric? Does the 12th level cleric look at the mythic guy and aspire to have his power, revere him in awe as a chosen servant? Why would he? He's 12th level! If not, then whats the point of the mythic tiers?
A 10th or 12th or 15th level paladin has certainly done many extraordinary things in his adventuring life in service of his deity and the greater good. He has the divine blessing of his deity and is directly granted powers due to this blessing. So when a level 3/mythic tier 2 paladin comes along what does that mean to him? Despite his (probably) years more dedication and service to his deity this chosen one is more favored?
I don't get how the mythic stuff works on a story level when the existing class system is already modeling "mythic" and "fledgling" beings today.
What would make more sense to me is if the "mythic" tiers were reserved for deities and monsters, NOT PCs. Now that would be interesting because it would open truly horrific and/or beautifully powerful beings for the PCs to interact with and battle and for designers to stat out so we can see the numbers on these terrible beings (I'm not above stats for stats sake!). High level PCs would have to draw upon their own "mortal" (non mythic) abilities to defeat these cosmically powerful foes by luck, planning, overwhelming numbers, perseverance, or some combination of all. It would give PLAYERS of high level characters reasons to count up and track all those little bonuses (instead of hand-waving them) for every little edge and come up with strong battlefield tactics or work as a group to defeat a mythic opponent. It would allow GMs to run high level battles with powerful BBEGs without over complicated stat blocks, tons of mooks, and reams of paper.
So "mythic monsters" work for me but "mythic PCs" seem redundant and unnecessary to both the game rules and narrative.
Carrion Crown was not very urban at all. Each volume had some kind of urban site to start off but the adventure almost immediately left each urban area and moved into a dungeon like setting:
Part 1: town->dungeon like prison
Not that I'm complaining about dungeons though. As long as they are a manageable size I have no issue with them.
Regarding S&S, I remain baffled by this AP and the reaction to it. The pre-release hype was all about "OMG Pirates! I love Pirates! ARG!" Yet when it was finally released interest seemed to immediately fade into malaise. So what happened? The goal seemed pretty simple: a bunch of customers wanted a nautical pirate AP and Paizo agreed to write one. How could that have gone wrong?
Funny that the core rules were too simple to cover what S&S needed and the expanded Ultimate Combat rules were too complex so a third set of nautical rules had to be invented which caused it to get behind schedule. I don't know, seems to me it would be easier and more beneficial to write adventures that use the rules already in print instead of constantly inventing new ones that just put the adventures behind schedule and make them sub-par anyway.
In the original write up of ROTRL knowledge of Thassilon was almost unheard of, no one spoke Thassilonian, and even the guy (Brodert) who seemed to have some clue about the local Thassilonian ruin was regarded as a complete quack. The discovery of Golarians history, specifically dealing with the Thassilonians, was one of the key points of the AP. Ultimately the PCs discover what these monuments lying about Varisia are (Thassilonian ruins) and what they mean to the current day. The climax is of course the discovery of Runelords and that at least one of them is still around. Any local historians knew none of this knowledge, from what I remember reading. In fact, in the original Thassilon write up I seem to remember some of the common theories of what ended Thassilon and only one of them was an Earthfall type event. The most universally accepted scholarly explanation for Thassilons fall was the giants revolting, from what I remember, not a rock falling from the sky. Earthfall was not some kind of fact ingrained in the populace of all Golarian at birth. It was a theory that a rare scholar might know about but your everyday person and even knowledgeable historian knew nothing about it or at most vague details that may or may not be true. The PCs are the ones that discover this information throughout the course of the AP.
Since then, as the writing about Golarian continued and more Paizo products were published, Earthfall became fact and (seemingly) common knowledge to a larger population on Golarian. How common? I’m unsure. If we look at the world today and our own “Earthfall” type event, I would guess most people are unaware of the Chicxulub crater even today and our own experts didn’t even know about it until 1978 or so, so that discovery took about 65 million years. So in Golarian considering Earthfall only occurred 10,000 years ago it is entirely possible for the vast majority of the planet to have no idea it occurred or even care. Keep in mind though Golarian has beings capable of living for 10,000 years. In fact, many creatures alive on Golarian today actually survived Earthfall and continue to live on Golarian to the present day. Many such creatures make appearances in ROTRL and the other APs, off the top of my head I remember a dragon and a few demons that are just encounters the PCs have, but almost every AP has a BBEG that was around before and after Earthfall and was personally effected by it in some way. Since these creatures are sentient and can communicate with anyone they want it’s easy to see how the details of Earthfall could be known to some people alive on Golarian today but probably not many.
I occasionally get the feeling that pieces of the AP adventures (or at least the set pieces in the adventures) have been repurposed or reskinned from their original theme to fit the current AP. So a freelance author might have written and/or mapped a "haunted keep" encounter area that never got published, or was used in a home game, or Paizo never printed, and they repurposed it to meet the current AP assignment and deadline. I imagine the deadlines are so tight it must be very tempting (and maybe even necessary) to do this for both Paizo and a freelancer. Maybe something like this has happened with S&S? Some of those out of place dungeon crawls were re-skinned into the pirate AP assignment?
Why are deities geographically constrained at all? Tian Xia should just be worshipping the same core 20 as everyone else. It’s not like Desna can’t cross an ocean. In the real world, different religions have different deific representations because they are imaginary and people come up with what suits them. In Golarian the gods are real, they really exist, and are not constrained by oceans or borders that their followers haphazardly create.
I've been doing something similar: the Ouija board the players find in part one is a twin of the one in the ghostly necromancers’ room in part 6. They function like walkie talkies, but the players think it is divination. So every question the PCs have asked of the Ouija board since part 1 has been answered by the necromancers in part 6 using their board. They just found this out last night!
The only disappointment I have with this is that the LOTR story was condensed to fit the movies while TH story is being expanded to fill them. In a perfect world, I would have preferred the exact opposite. LOTR is the greater, deeper tale that deserves the extra time and exploration in a cinematic venue. TH is the lighter, simpler tale that would suffer very little when made into a single movie. I’m glad TH is being made, but they just got the plan backwards.
In the run up to LOTR I pretty distinctly remember PJ and company explaining that you have to trim the literature for the screen; otherwise the movie doesn’t work. Now, with TH, they seem to be doing the opposite. When all is said and done one of PJs conflicting perspectives will be proved correct. I have a feeling he has learned that condensing the story for LOTR sapped some of its strength as a genre defining epic and he is making an expanded TH as a kind of apology to the spirit of the thing.
As far as GDT goes with TH, I was much pleased when he left the project. He never seemed like a good fit to me. For movies like LOTR and TH I think you have embrace and internalize the story to do justice to it. You almost have to treat the source material as a historical account of real events, not a fairy tale. GDT specializes in fairy tales. That’s why I think the Hellboy movies were so lackluster. The very soul of the Hellboy stories (and the BPRD) is that this is real stuff happening to real people; it’s not a fairy tale or superhero story. Hellboy movie 1 was about a superhero, Hellboy movie 2 was a fairy tale. TH under GDT would have been a combination of the two (Bilbo the super hero in a fairy tale setting).
I'm not sure I get what this product is for. $10 for 16 pages of character information? I assume the pages can only be used once so what happens when the character dies at 2nd level, or 5th, or 10th? Do you just throw it out and buy another one for the next character?
Maybe my group is playing a different game but we usually have many PC deaths through the course of an AP and once the AP is finished the surviving characters are retired (thrown out) anyway and we start again from 1st level. In addition we are always looking to get the 2 page character sheets we use now down to one --not up to 16!
If you've never GMd an Adventure Path before you might be surprised at the amount of effort required to run either of the APs you've selected. If your players have never been through an AP they will certainly be surprised by the level of detail and adventure in either as well.
Given the two options you listed and assuming you've never GMd and AP before I would recommend starting with Carrion Crown as each volume is fairly linear and concise. You can run the CC volumes as written and your group will have a great time. Just be aware that CC does contain a significant amount of material not in the core rulebook. As GM, you will need to either get that material ahead of time or be prepared to replace it. Also be aware that the end game of the AP (all of part 6) does get mechanically complex for whomever is sitting in the GM chair.
Serpents Skull might be a good follow up to Carrion Crown. Serpents Skull is more free-form and will require a significant amount of planning and preparation from the GM (above and beyond the amount any AP requires). Serpents Skull turns into a big free-form adventure (sometimes referred to as a sandbox) in parts 3 and 4. This was partially by design and partially by what is assumed to be some kind of issue with the initial writing of part 3. The original author of part 3 was never used to write another product for Paizo, which I think is pretty unusual, if not unique. So I think that says something right there. In the hands of an experienced and dedicated GM part 3 and 4 can be merged into an outstanding lost city exploration adventure, but I don't think you want to tackle this on your first AP.
Jerry Wright 307 wrote:
One of my biggest problems with 3.5/PF as it stands is the complexity issue. The rules try to cover everything, and that's just too much.
I think this is true when starting out but, even with a complex system like 3.5, you can master it after a surprisingly quick amount of time, provided it stops expanding. Unfortunately we've yet to see a D&D rule set that does not continually expand. Pathfinder had a great start but the APG and Ultimate books pushed it right over the edge. I think once a game crosses this line it’s hard to come back, you’ve forever abandoned the casual or rules light customer in favor of the tactical player. You either force the rules light guys to play a game they don’t want to play or to ignore escalating amounts of content in the game they do play and force them to deal with diminishing returns on their purchases.
DDN has an opportunity right now to keep players of all kinds happy if it can publish a cohesive enough set of rules at the start, allow and enable the players to master it, then: (this is the hard part) leave it alone. We’ll see.
Epic Meepo wrote:
I'm speaking only from the perspective of a semi-professional author and game designer who is, for all intents and purposes, excluded from participating in this playtest.
Yup. That’s exactly what they want. If you are a "semi-professional game designer" you are almost certainly designing for a game other than D&D so they don't want you to take anything from the playtest and bring it into another game. I don't think it's a bad thing for them to do, although it is a bit overbearing.
What if my character is unusually susceptible to mental manipulation due to a low self-esteem and lack of social interaction from a childhood spent in work camps for half-orc orphans? Am I still required to take "Iron Will"?
This has to be a joke. I find it hard to believe a majority of people play the game this way or that it is expected behavior by most groups.
Do you just give the "Gloves of Dueling" out at first level or do they automatically show up at a later level? Do players complain when the "Gloves of Dueling" are not in the first treasure pile or available for purchase at any shops? Weird. I’m not even sure what "Gloves of Dueling" are or what they do.
BTW, I’m glad the iconic stat blocks are gone. I’d rather have the page count for other things.
Power Word Unzip wrote:
This describes the experience of my group almost exactly.
I swear, sometimes I wonder if some of you actually play this game or just read the books.
I don't wonder about this anymore. I now just assume most posters on the boards primarily just read the books, or more accurately the PRD, and don't actually play the game much if at all. It really does explain a lot of the "controversies" that exist. I don’t really think of it as a bad thing though. I just try to keep in mind that most rules based discussions are theoretical with little or no actual game play backing.
Just look at how prolific (with regard to number of posts per day) many of the regulars are. They don’t even have enough down time in their post history to be away from the boards and actually playing the game!
I do get concerned though when I think this is happening to the game developers and authors . I’m pretty sure a lack of actual gaming time has caused some questionable design choices over the years in many games I play.
Well, here is my list of completed campaighns going back to 2000. I've had the same players since around 1984.
Some tips for completing campaigns:
- Map out the entire campaign arc for the players (the APs do this for you) and share it with the players and stick to it. If they know you have a beginning, middle, and end planned out they are more likely to stay with the campaign. If the players can track how close the end is they can plan for it (building anticipation) or accurately bide their time until it ends (if they don't particularly like it). I've found that free-form campaigns die more often because players can't plan for the end game or don't want to stick around for something that seems to have no ending. People usually like to get to the end of the story and know when it's coming.
- Limit the rules bloat. I stick to core books only for the players but every group has its preferences. Allowing any non-core rules into the campaign at any time tends to make the players lose focus on the game and instead focus on the rules they are (or are not) using. This usually leads to game fatigue as everyone tries to keep up with the ever shifting rules landscape and never achieves any kind of game play flow. Save something for the next campaign that the players can get by finishing the current one.
- Don’t homebrew. Calm down, I’m not saying homebrew is bad, but let’s face it professional authors are usually the pros for a reason. Odds are you have skills that someone already pays you to perform. Odds are those skills do not involve adventure writing or world building. There might be a good reason for this. Your players may be too kind to say something about it so it might be easier for them to just bail on your games.
- Limit the game days to a specific day of the week a limited number of times per month. Don’t try to play every time everyone is available. Instead, schedule a day 2 or 3 times a month (at most) to play for the majority of the day (6-8 hours).
- When one game day gets cancelled immediately schedule the next one that everyone is available for. Don’t wait to reschedule until next week or month, get it on the calendar as soon as possible even if its weeks away.
- As GM, try to always be available. If the GM cancels no one can play no matter what, so the GM has a responsibility to be the most flexible with his time.
- If you can, get players that are siblings. When you have siblings in a group you often get two players for the price of one. Usually siblings are going to see each other anyway and have similar family commitments so their availability tends to already be in sync. So if you have one regular player that has an age appropriate brother or sister with similar interests try to get them in the game as well.
Watched the video and read the latest 5E stuff from EnWorld. The designers seem all over the place with 5E and what they want it to be. Either they are deliberately being obtuse or are genuinely flailing, I'm not sure.
Meanwhile they continue to (apparently) ignore the success that Paizo and Pathfinder are having as they publicly wonder how to do things that Paizo has already done. It's like Microsoft saying: "We want to do something that has never been done before: Create a phone like communication device that you can control completely by touch that consumers love so much they are willing to pay a premium for!"
The article never mentions the 1E PHB. Did you know that all the humans in it were brown skinned? It's hard to tell with the black and white art work, but it's true.
The real issue regarding fantasy art work is age discrimination, not race. The only people over 30 years old I see in modern fantasy RPG art work are either elves or evil. The only women I see over 25 are either undead or invisible. There are laws against this kind of discrimination you know!
Captain Marsh wrote:
How to fix Pathfinder?
Just use the core rules. It works fine all the way from 1 to 20.
Wolfgang Baur wrote:
In my experience the only thing that gets silly is the occasional high level adventure or things like ninjas and cowboys. The classic and vetted stuff stays very grounded when you have an adventure writer or GM that is experienced with high level play, not reading or daydreaming about what high level play is like, or what it was like when they were 12 years old.
Wolfgang Baur wrote:
Why not just add a simple descriptor in the above published table of contents?
The reason why I stopped regularly buying KQ is precisely because I don't know how much of each issue is compatible with my game. I concur with Shasazar above that clarifying the system for each article is a good thing, especially when the topic is something (like a succubus) that is fundamentally different in different game systems.
I think the "edition warriors or Pathfinder purists" comment was uncalled for. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a consumer wanting to get the most out of their purchase and politely complaining about it when they don't. If anything, the "Glad to hear you like the issue!" comment was inflammatory since the reviewer clearly did not. I'm not sure if that was just ignorance or snark though.
From Trial of the Beast:
Same source on stats for them:
None. I read each proposal. I would not purchase any of these adventures.
I'm not sure having the public judge the final four submissions is the best way to determine the winner of the contest. I don't read enough adventure proposals in my life to be able to accurately judge how good any of these are. For all I know these proposals are better than the proposals for "Seven Days to the Grave" or "Souls for Smugglers Shiv". I have no idea how much massaging takes place from this rough draft form to the final published adventure, so I can’t judge how these proposals match up.
Of course I have the judges’ comments to aid in the decision process but what’s the point of letting them do the thinking for me? Just have them pick one, they do a much better job of seeing the diamond in the rough than the general public does anyway, I think.
Brandon Hodge wrote:
There is no "B" in the picture on the left.
Brandon Hodge wrote:
All this is from the picture on the right, which you suggest we ignore. So I'm confused. I get the tower in a tower, but I don't know how to apply any of the above to the picture on the left. The picture on the left just has an "A" on it.
For one I would like to see an introductory adventure for each AP
I'm fine with the APs starting off they way they do already. My group has never had an issue with already knowing each other, or having lived in the town their whole life, or whatever. We usually take 5 or 10 minutes to come up with a goofy back story for each PC and go from there, no big deal. I would rather Paizo focus its limited resources on the end of the AP, the beginning gets plenty of attention already.
Interesting post. These are exactly the kinds of things I would like to see the authors of the Pathfinder Tales novels tackle in their prose. A novel based on the game, to me, would seem like the perfect place to describe some of these things and how they look and feel in the world. Wouldn't it?
Ice Titan wrote:
Agreed. I've always felt the iconics are more for the "read but don't play" AP crowd. I'd love to see a variety of adventurers instead of the iconics but I don't think that will ever happen.
So far I have found the art in Carrion Crown to be especially detached from the text. I hope the APs improve in this area as well. Sounds like JR might have.
I've never read much RPG Superstar feedback in the past so I really don't have anything to compare it to but I do agree with the OP that the comments from the judges give an impression of "best of the worst" rather than "best of the best". I just thought this was deliberate behavior by the judges because you need to have thick skin to be an RPG designer and they need to expose you to that fact early in the process.
...and in the spirit of thick skin...I don't find Mr. Danceys criticisms to be "superstar judge" level. Maybe he's just too busy to put a great effort into the process but it seems like he is mailing it in compared to what the other judges provide. Running GW I'm sure is taking a ton of his time. I thought his mention of "beholders" in one of his criticisms was both funny and enlightening. Using auto-reject terminology (non-Paizo owned IP) in a criticism is a little odd.
Here are my tips:
1. High level characters are best when they organically grow to that point. Just sitting down and building 18th level characters from scratch always results in ultra-optimized combat focused PCs that the players and GM are unfamiliar with. This leads to a very complex, time consuming, and un-fun play experience.
2. High level adventures need to be about the story and goal. The seeds for the capstone adventure should have been planted early in the PCs career.
3. High level PCs should be challenged by the environment as much as by the actual creatures. Deadly environments (magic or natural) are a must, the PCs still need to rely on those low level abilities to survive. High level PCs (sometimes) still need to eat and breathe so keep this in mind when designing the adventure, make those clerics use create food and water and endure elements, every day.
4. No sleep. In my campaigns, when we get to about 15th level or so, I always make sleeping very problematic and hard to come by. This can be done in various ways using the environment or opportunistic enemies with disposable minions or even curses or disease. I routinely have high level PCs go weeks without getting good rest.
5. Make high level abilities requirements don't look for ways to counteract them. Design the adventure so the players must fly to it or must teleport into it. Make the players use the abilities they have instead of looking for ways to keep them from using their abilities.
6. When using possession or domination type abilities on the PCs DO NOT use them to have the PCs attack each other. Just don't do it. If a PC must be dominated or possessed have the magic manifest in a detrimental way that DOES NOT include attacking friends. Instead they might begin randomly using consumable magic items, or casting spells on targets they know are immune, or using smite attacks on inert objects. There are plenty of things to do without degenerating to taking control of an 18th level character to attack another 18th level character (yuck).
7. Combat can (and will) be long and drawn out, just prepare for this. However, it is just as common for some fights to be very quick and deadly. Several times during my Savage Tide campaign I had 3 or 4 round battles that resulted in a PC or two being dead or unconscious and all the enemies defeated. These were some of the most memorable high level battles we have had to date. 3 quick rounds of massive damage, deaths, death effects, and the combat is over.
8. The PCs should feel their power. A great way to illustrate the power of high level PCs is by using their followers (or even some cohorts that are a few levels lower). Often high level PCs will meet things like solars or ancient dragons or balors, when this happens those lower level followers and cohorts should be paralyzed with fear or awe or both regardless of the actual abilities of the creatures. A 5th level fighter should just cower in the presence of a balor while 5th level cleric would fall to his knees into meditative prayer in front of a solar. All the while the high level PC can stand toe to toe or eye to eye with the being. This in itself is a victory of sorts and the player should get to experience it inside and outside of combat.
9. If you have a climactic battle you are building toward don't let the PCs get into it at full strength. They must be made to sacrifice on the way into the battle and they should know this, it should be part of the fight even though it doesn't take place during initiative. Maybe channel energy needs to be used to open gateways, or the paladin has to stay behind for three rounds to hold off an evil force with his divine aura, or the wizard needs to cast several high level damage dealing spells in succession without disruption to pass a ward while the rest of the party has to keep him moving, or maybe the ninja has to poison powerful living foe with a special poison that will force them into their true undead state for the real final battle.
10. Alignment. This is the climactic adventure for these PCs (since the level cap is 20) so there is no tomorrow. Someone should have to make a choice that goes against alignment and deity and pay the price.
Well, who knows what the future holds, but "We’re actually much better off creating a single, stable edition. It’s easier for fans, it’s better for continuity for writers and designers, and it’s much easier in terms of creating a long-term product strategy." sounds like the most intelligent thing I've heard come out of the owners of "Dungeons & Dragons" in a long time. Those are words of wisdom that every TRPG publisher could learn from. Every one.
Just make a single stable rule set and do cool things with it. We will give you money for that. Simple.
At this point the only thing that would make me consider playing D&D 5.0 is PF 2.0. I figure, if the game I play is changing anyway, I might as well look at all the options.
For me as GM I make a distinction between "charm" spells and "compulsion" spells.
Charm spells I do not consider to be effective combat options at any level and they have little to no effectiveness in actual combat (specifically, after initiative has been rolled). They are for social settings.
Compulsion spells I consider a combat based version of charm so I do try to give them every opportunity to work in actual combat.
Now, with Suggestion and this situation specifically, I do not believe the Rakshasa could just say "Throw your weapon away." in the middle of a heated battle (meaning you have rolled initiative) and you would blindly obey. At best you would get another save, at worst it would break the spell. However, I do believe the Rakshasa could have suggested that your bow was ineffective against him and you should stop using it (opposed by Sense Motive or Knowledge(the planes)) or that he should be allowed to face you in "more honorable" hand to hand combat (opposed by Sense Motive or Wisdom) or that he would let you live if you did (opposed by Sense Motive if he were lying or if you didn't feel like you were in danger).
The benefit of the Compulsion spell to the caster is that it allows the dice to make a decision for the PC (via saving throw, skill check, or ability check) instead of the player.
I really think the Paizo blog could use some attention and inspiration. I'd like to see posts in the Paizo blog made by rotating Paizo staff (or freelancers, or just interesting people Paizo staff can get to occasionally write for it) on things like:
- the RPG industry in general(not just Pathfinder)
For inspiration take a look at the "Ask James Jacobs" thread and some of the answers James gives about things in there, some of that stuff can be expand into really interesting blog posts. I also really enjoyed the comic book discussion Eric Mona was having on his own blog a few months ago, why not put something like that on the Paizo blog? Or what James Maliszewski does with Grognardia in discussing his game of choice and its history. Or the additional content Wes Schneider provided in the Carrion Crown forums would have been an awesome post.
Today the posts are too infrequent (developer posts like the Stealth and Poison discussions), too short and tissue paper thin (Golarian related posts), too marketing focused (the minis posts), or just not interesting (the PFS stuff, and RPG super star stuff) or just not the right place (I just don't enjoy reading the fiction on the blog). I think the Paizo blog could really use a refresh this year and can be expanded to become almost like a mini Dragon Magazine of old.
Yes, I know it takes time and resources to do this that Paizo either doesn't have or doesn't want to move from other projects. Yes, I know Paizo staff is already maxed out working 120 hour weeks. Yes I know Gen Con either just passed or is right around the corner so everyone is swamped. Yes I know RPG Superstar is like a resource and time black hole. So realistically I know improving the Paizo Blog is low on the list, but still, it would be cool if it became something better.
Scott Betts wrote:
We think that the hobby today is cooler than it was 10 years ago, and that 10 years from now it will be cooler than it is today.
The hobby of tabletop RPGs in general or Dungeons & Dragons specifically?
I think the tabletop RPG hobby in general is much cooler today than 10 years ago but I do not think the game of "Dungeons & Dragons" specifically is.
"We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play."
So that was not the goal of 4E? Seems odd. So then what was the goal of 4E and did they accomplish it?
Did they want to make a sub-par game that drove vast numbers of loyal D&D players into the arms of a competing publisher that essentially reprinted the game they just decided needed to be replaced only to have to scrap and rewrite the new game 3 years later after a dismal launch and lackluster followup only to ask the very people they drove away to begin with for ideas on what they would like in another new game using an open playtest?
Because that seems like what 4E accomplished to me.
Scott Betts wrote:
True, but I just don't think that will ever happen. The well is far too poisoned by everyone involved which includes BTW, anti-4e players, pro-4e players, anti-4e companies, and pro-4e companies. They all played a part in poisoning the edition well and now I don't think it can be undone. I think it's best to just avoid the comparisons and talk about what the new game does without comparing it to any other game or version.
I put together this simple Vrood timeline so GMs can keep track of his whereabouts while the PCs progress through the adventures.
Auren Vrood timeline
Day 1 : Auren Vrood kills Professor Petros Lorrimor outside of Harrowstone
Clark Peterson wrote:
Seriously? So if your group wants to get together to play a session you say you can't because you're playing Star Wars The Old Republic?? As GM?? My players would be quite upset if I (the GM) did that. Not that I would. Professional and personal conflicts sure, but not GMing for a group because you'd rather play an MMO? That seems like a recipe for a flame out to me. Good luck, hope the campaign picks up again in the new year!
Below are some changes I made to TotB. These changes were made to replace some aspects of the adventure I felt my group would not enjoy or that I felt did not fit:
This is a GM thread so I won't spoiler tag anything, players beware.
1. I removed all the "Crooked Kin" stuff from the start of the adventure. It just seemed weird, arbitrary, and out of place to me. Instead I used the river journey portion (only) of "River into Darkness" to detail a river boat ride from near Ravengro to Lepidstadt. Check out the module, it worked pretty well and the protean engine stuff fits in nicely with Ustalv. I used the "drug and addiction" rules from the GMG and made the crew of the riverboat drug runners (which, to me, does not make them criminals in Ustalav, just opportunistic). Of course they offered some samples to the PCs during the ride, some of whom became addicted. Fun stuff.
2. I made the Beast intelligent and (to the PCs) scheming, knowing more then he lets on. He flat out tells the PCs he is not guilty of the crimes he is on trial for but is also not an innocent. He explains his "father" has a way of controlling him from a distance that he can't fight and he has done some bad things in the past in this state. He has no remorse about it though as he cares more for his father than anyone else. Although he can't control his actions while under this power, he does know who is controlling him. During the University break in he knows someone else was controlling him, not his father, some kind of cultist that spoke in whispers. This has never happened to him before and he feels it means bad news for his father. He says no more unless freed from captivity. He won't tell the PCs who his father is or where his father is until freed. He also says he needs their help in one final task that he will not detail until set free.
I removed the beasts barbarian levels (just seemed goofy, I don't like when monsters have player character levels) and his "Open Mind (Ex)" ability so the PCs can't interrogate him magically and just made him an intelligent advanced Flesh Golem. I also removed all his magic items since if he had these on his person when he broke into the university they would have been confiscated anyway and most likely never given back. If he didn't have them on his person, well why wouldn't he? It just seems weird that this flesh golem (especially a not so smart one as originally written) would have these magic items stashed away then retrieve them at the end game. Really weird stuff here, better to just axe it all.
3. The rest of the adventure flows pretty much as written until we get to the very end. The only significant change I made to the investigations was that the Beast was never present at any of the crime scenes. He never did the cheesy "return the broken body laughing/crying" thing.
4. After the trial the Beast exits the courtroom and immediately heads to the Schloss, if found innocent he tells the PCs that if they want to know who was controlling him they need to get to the Schloss. He will head there now and deal with his "brother" while the PCs find and destroy the device (the task he mentioned when they first met) that allows others to control him so no one can ever control him again. The Beast doesn't know where this device is, what it is, or how to destroy it.
If found guilty he does the same, attacking anything that gets in his way. No one in the court dares to fight the Beast and if the PCs try to (with no weapons or magic since the court confiscates these things before each trial day) his only goal is to escape overrunning and bull rushing until he is dead or escapes. All the while raging about getting to the Schloss and saving his father. The PCs can detect that he is holding back and not really trying to kill them with appropriate Sense Motive checks. If the PCs do manage to kill the beast they can infer where his father is from his ranting during the fight or from the poems he wrote in his poetry book during his captivity. Otherwise the Beast offers no help to the PCs and heads to the Schloss without speaking to them.
5. I toned downed the Promethean a bit (or as I refer to him: the Beasts brother) so the PCs can handle it in a tough fight alone if need be. With the Beast in its new state of no magic and no barbarian levels it can serve as an NPC with the party, be somewhere in the Schloss ahead or behind the party, or not there at all, it doesn't really matter at this point. The end game plays out pretty much as written except the PCs do not have the ability to use the Bondslave device, it's just beyond their knowledge. Once the Count is freed the PCs learn the info they need to continue on the adventure as written. If the Beast survives he asks the PCs to destroy the Bondslave (or does it himself). While the Bondslave is being dismantled it has a "Flowers for Algernon" effect on the Beast until he is finally and permanently reduced to an unintelligent construct, the lifespark gone forever. The last bit of poetry the Beast wrote (found on his person) indicates he knew this would be the result of destroying the machine all along.
For me, it's less about the combat numbers and more that I don't understand what most of his Arcana and other special abilities mean.
I'm with you there. I really don't want to be learning how to run a "staff magus arcana" or whatever he is while dealing with 15th level PCs. In the future I really wish the developers would consider the DM burden for running high level BBEG spell casters. It's hard enough with core high level spell casters when you start adding on all the supplementary stuff the fun just evaporates for the DM.
I think the key is to minimize the amount of tactics and decisions the DM has to make. As a good example take a look at all the foes at the end of Savage Tide. They are high level, interesting, challenging encounters and a DM can basically run any of them just by reading the stat blocks twice. The last one is Demogorgon himself and it is still pretty easy to run!
Maybe someone could post a round by round tactics block for the CC BBEG for DMs that still want to give the players the flavor of the guy but don't know all the intricate rules needed to run him.
Toadkiller Dog wrote:
I think one is referring to the physical size of the wolves in the tribe and one is referring to the number of wolves in the tribe. I don't know which is which off the top of my head.
Here is how I rule Knowledge checks and the accompanying rule support. Of course this is all subjective...
PRD on Knowledge checks:
Try Again: No. The check represents what you know, and thinking about a topic a second time doesn't let you know something that you never learned in the first place.
PRD on Take 20:
Based on the above and bolded I think it is pretty clear that the initial Knowledge checks are not eligible for taking 20 since you can't try them multiple times as required by take 20.
As far as Taking 10 on the initial knowledge check it seems RAW as that is allowed since it does not require a long period of time or a retry. The same goes for taking 10 while doing a full day of research in a Ravengro location (after a full day).
Doing research in a Ravengro location, free from distractions or danger, I rule as legal for taking a 20. However since taking 20 "takes 20 times as long as making a single check (PRD)" and since the single check for research in Ravengro takes "spending a day looking through references, books, and other materials (HoH)" taking 20 while doing research would take 20 days in any of the Ravengro locations.
I would like to note, beyond debating rules, that all of this is kind of pointless.
Except, of course, that the OP asked some questions that we are trying to give him answers to. Not pointless at all to him.
What might be pointless though is reading and posting to a thread that one feels is pointless to begin with. Ha! ;)
I've been playing with the same group for over 25 years. Some things have changed some have not.
- 4E was the first edition of D&D we looked at and quickly concluded we would not be playing. If not for PF we would have just stuck with 3.5 for the duration. A seminal moment for us as we always enthusiastically supported the most recent version of D&D.
- We no longer have interest in "sandbox" type free form campaigns. We only play campaigns that have a story with a beginning, middle, and end, then we restart a new campaign from level 1. We don't play characters past 15th level or so.
- As DM I don't make up adventures or worlds or even parts of worlds any more. As a group we only have interest in playing published stuff. After all these years we've been through all of our own ideas so now we only use what other people have thought up for us.
- We don't bother with things like evil campaigns, or in game romances, or detailing our characters family tree. The characters are tools for the game and story and we only flesh them out enough to enhance the current campaign. When they die or the campaign is over it's into the garbage and roll up the next one.
- We can still occasionally pull an all nighter (or a very late session) but for the most part we don't. We usually wrap up around 9:00 at the latest.
- We still make fun of Monks and Bards and almost never have them in the party. When we do we just assume they will be dead soon (and they usually are). We love this.
- We still start every campaign with a slight variation of "you all meet in a tavern". We would not have it any other way.
- Despite that fact that we have probably slayed hundreds of dragons in our history it is always exciting the "first time" this party faces one.
This is a great anecdote for adventure designers and GMs out there. Always look for ways to reward players for spending skill points. There are only so many skills in the game (unlike feats) so it shouldn't be too much of a problem to work unusual and meaningful skill checks into an adventure.
Gratz! What were the highlights and the lows of this campaign for your group?
In no particular order some highs and lows:
Scarwall was fun. I did have some trepidation about running such a large dungeon crawl to find a sword but it turned out very well. Lots of fun.
The time spent in Korvosa from day one until the party leaves for the cinderlands. The assassination, the paranoia afterward, figuring out who is on what side. All worked very well.
Interacting with and eventually fighting the Arkonas was fun. The players enjoyed infiltrating the palace and, of course, having it all go wrong.
The cinderlands. I know there was a lot of discussion on the boards about the AP leaving Korvosa but for my group it worked out very well. They didn't want to go but knew they had to.
The Sunken Queen part just did not quite fit into the whole AP. The Runelord Shorshen stuff basically comes out of left field. Ileosa should have been concentrating on the power and influence of Kazavon and the Crown not the "eternal youth" stuff with Shorshen. It just seemed tacked on and in hindsight I should have edited it out and kept the focus (and the queen) in Castle Korvosa. Why would the Shaon-Ti hide a deadly evil artifact in the ancient home of an even deadlier evil Runelord? Seems like there was some retconning going on there. Castle Korvosa should not have had anything to do with a Runelord. It should have just been a (possibly holy) site from ancient Thassilon.
All the Blackjack stuff including the climax with the Efreeti guy. I axed most of it from day one. I especially axed the efreeti using the wishes of his minions during the battle with the PCs, that was just goofy. I don't know why an efreeti got shoehorned into the final volume, it was just weird and jarring.
The lack of Red Mantis stuff at the end. There should have been a climactic battle with the Red Mantis in Korvosa. Instead they were basically just hanging around in the castle doing nothing.
The Temple of Asmodeus not being directly involved in anything. One thing that continually served as a distraction for my players was the Temple of Asmodeus. I think the temple should have has some kind of formal participation in Ileosas plans. Again, in hindsight, I should have made the Sunken Queen site just a level in the Temple of Asmodeus, that would have at least made sense and gave the players an opportunity to assault the place. They were looking for a reason to do this from the start but (as written) no evidence ever surfaces to allow them to do so.
Not really a hit or miss:
The big problem with Zallara was that she is in the start of every volume of the AP, even needs to be rescued by the PCs at one point, yet has nothing to do with Ileosa or the Crown. Nothing. She literally just fades away in Crown of Fangs. The End. What? This one I took care of though easily enough. I took out Venster (who made no sense) and simply replaced him with Zellara. Instead of an outcast brother the king now had an outcast sister, and that was Zallara. Ileosa was obviously bisexual anyway so I didn't even have to change any of the love triangle story. I don't know why this obvious hook never got used.
For those of you using Tito Leati's alternate Crown of Fangs encounter where the PCs have an opportunity to remove Ileosas Devil-bound template below are her stats once the template is removed:
Queen Ileosa Arabasti CR 18
DR 10/adamantine; Immune paralysis and other
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 18th)
Spells Known (CL 16th)
Feats Craft Wondrous Item, Extend Spell, Forge Ring,
Skills Bluff +32, Concentration +22, Diplomacy
Languages Common, Draconic, Elven,
SQ bardic knowledge +17,
Combat Gear wand of
Exceptional Stats (Ex) Queen Ileosa was destined
Inherent Bonuses Strength +3, Dexterity +4,
Susceptible to Serithtial (Ex) The infusion of Kazavon