|Paizo Pathfinder® Paizo Games|
|About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ|
Well, if you're fine with a more general "lost it in a fight with this rival mage" instead of specifically "was taken away by the rival mage's direct actions", then one way I can think of offhand to permanently lose spellcasting is by using Mage's Disjunction to destroy an artifact. So if, say, they were in some kind of life or death fight, and the rival was using an artifact to put him on the ropes, and the guy got desperate enough to disjoin it, but botched his Will save...
Anyway, that's the one way I can think of by RAW that such an effect could be incurred...
I've recently been looking into the rules for high-level Paladin abilities as part of a game I'm involved in that's starting to get into the higher levels, and well, I've been completely boggled by the incredible awfulness of the Paladin capstone: the Banishment effect that applies whenever you hit an evil outsider with a smite attack. Particularly the fact that it ends your Smite after it's resolved, one way or the other, and can't be turned off.
So yeah. Are you in a situation where you don't want to do an all-or-nothing "hail mary" against the save of the demon you're fighting? Well, too bad! Rules say after 20th level Paladins don't get the option of full-attack-smiting evil outsiders anymore. Or even hitting them more than one time per smite. Just one hit, and have it make its save, and that's all you get anymore. Hope you set up your Paladin like a SoL-based sorcerer instead of, you know, a martial!
Worse, there are all kinds of situations where you wouldn't want to do a Banishment even if you thought you could land the save. Devil has a plot MacGuffin you're trying to get? Well, you better not risk using your iconic class feature on it anymore (especially since you'd only get one hit's worth of Smiting one way or the other). You want to actually kill (and loot) the demon you're fighting, instead of mildly inconvenience it and lose the treasure? You don't even want the Banishment to stick.
Most hilariously of all, the ability specifically applies the Banishment effect to whenever the Paladin smites an evil outsider, with no exception for if they have, say, the native subtype, or for whether the plane you're actually doing the smiting on is the outsider's home plane. Both of those are cases that would cause any Banishment spell cast on them to automatically fail, no save required. So if you're fighting a Balor in the Abyss, or fighting a Tiefling Antipaladin... well, enjoy having your smite canceled every single hit in exchange for a casting of Banishment that can't possibly succeed even if you did want it to.
Gack. I can't think of another capstone that would make me want to multi-class out of the class I'd been following up until that point, just to make sure the capstone didn't appear on my sheet.
Ran a session with some friends a couple days ago where I played a Swashbuckler. Kept it to Core material, so no Agile, Dervish Dance, Piranha Strike, etc. It was definitely enjoyable to play overall, and I had a lot of fun with the class features.
That said, there were definitely a few annoying points. One of the biggest actually showed up not in actual play, but during the build of the character. In the other Pathfinder classes I've built/played, the experience was like being shown the basic foundation to a house, and then getting let loose to build something on top of it, whatever my imagination came up with in terms of a direction to go in. Building a Swashbuckler, on the other hand, felt like being shown a fully constructed house, and then being told that the interesting work was already done, now go in and patch all the leaks and fix the foundation before the place comes down around your ears.
So much of the character build was just finding the "right" missing pieces to make the class work, at all. Realizing that you need to spend one of your feats taking Combat Reflexes to make your main early-level class mechanics even function. Realizing you need to use a rapier if you want to spend the least percentage of time frustratingly out of Panache and unable to use your class's interesting stuff. Realizing that you need to take both the Iron Will and Great Fortitude feats (and really, probably both the feat chains) to desperately try and make up for the fact that both of your two weak saves are the ones that can make you flat out incapacitated/killed/attacking-your-own-party if you can't reliably make them. And heaven help you if you start at level 1 and have to accept the slap-in-the-face of having to spend one of your feats on Weapon Finesse to hit things, before then getting it at level 2.
Overall, it didn't feel like "coming up with a build" so much as it felt like using my feats and traits and such to try and fit the last few missing jigsaw puzzle pieces into an existing one, such that the character doesn't die or help kill his allies.
It's not usually this way. When I've built Bards, or Sorcerers, or Barbarians, or even Fighters, I've built them with unique builds and focuses and play styles and methodologies. But for Swashbucklers, so much of your (theoretically) "chooseable" resources are tied up in just patching the class's weaknesses and missing pieces that I have a hard time seeing myself playing any other Swashbuckler build under the current rules that isn't more or less just another tweaked-and-refined version of pretty much the same one I made for our playtest. At least not until much higher levels once all the "essentials" have been obtained.
The actions a player states his character take are the ones he intends them to take, and the ones the character intends to take. But things don't always work out as we intend. Sometimes we stick our hands on the wizard's half-eaten fried peanut butter and banana sandwhich, and sometimes when we look at the pretty girl and try to sound suave as we complement her on her appearance we instead say 'Woah! Nice ****!'.
Maybe you might say "Woah! Nice ****!" to a girl. But please don't project that kind of behavior onto everyone else as though it's a common-to-us-all thing that "we" all do. In my entire twenty-nine years of life, in all the low and high rolls of my personal d20, in all the natural 1s I've gotten, in all the horrible, horrible Diplomacy failures I've made, I have never even once said anything remotely like that to a girl.
We can sometimes make mistakes and say things we don't mean to, yes. That is one possible way to describe a failed check. But just because a character might theoretically say something they didn't intend does not in any way, shape or form mean that there aren't plenty of things that a given character simply wouldn't say, even on the lowest possible roll. There are such things, and what they are will vary from character to character.
A GM can say the Diplomacy attempt succeeded or failed based on the die roll, thus enforcing the mechanical penalty for the dumped stat. But not only is it an overreach to try and wrest control of a PC's characterization from their player, to try and dictate to them what flavors of Diplomacy-failure (out of all the countless ways there are to fail) are in-character and out-of-character for their own character, I can't even comprehend why a GM would WANT to overrule a players wishes in such a way if they've made them known to him.
What kind of thoughts are even going through a GM's head when a player wants to have their old Elf Wizard's Charisma failures be due to, say... dry academic pedantic-ness that bores people to tears and causes them to make excuses to go elsewhere, but the GM turns around and says "Nope! You failed the roll, which means I get to decide your PC's characterization now! You blurt out 'Woah! Nice ****!'"
If you speak at the table in honeyed words that your character doesn't know, you are setting the terms for any debate over what happened. If the GM says you tick the NPC off, you retaliate with 'what could she possibly be upset about? I didn't say anything she could get that upset over'.
Well, no, none of my players have ever tried to pull this on me... and I know exactly what I'd say in the hypothetical event that one of them did. The exact same thing that Anzyr pointed out.
"Oh, it wasn't what you said at all! It was how you said it. You said exactly what you told me you said... but to the waitress you were trying to pick up she perceived it as being smarmy/creepy, or the troops you were trying to rally perceived it as forced and uninspiring. As evidenced by, you know, the 4 you rolled on top of your total -2 modifier."
I will return to my question, which nobody wants to answer honestly. If you want to play James Bond, why are you building Maxwell Smart on your character sheet?
If you build Maxwell Smart on your character sheet you won't be able to play James Bond, because you'll keep failing the associated rolls.
But I would have a very serious problem if I built a character that I intended to play as Maxwell Smart, a bumbling but good-hearted dope who tries to act suave but usually isn't unless the dice really favor him... and the GM tried to tell me that, no, it's not enough that you just failed the roll, I also get to say that because you failed the roll, you're not playing a bumbling good-hearted dope anymore, you just called that woman a "sugar****".
I'll take my lumps for failed rolls when I fail them. But don't try to tell me that the GM gets to decide that the way my 7 CHA manifests is by referring to women with obscenities.
The problem I have with Anzyr's method is that the player is playing against his character. The player's using honeyed words, speaking diplomatically, and using phrases that given the character has no skill ranks in diplomacy and a natural ability that works against it. That's not 'roleplaying my character' that's 'I'll do whatever I want and only get the benefits but none of the downsides'.
What "benefits", exactly, is the player getting from what Anzyr describes? The roll is still the same. The chance of success or failure is still the same. The only "benefit" I can see the player getting is the ability to frame the reason for their failure in a way that is more palatable to them on a purely personal level. Is that really so troubling to you, to give players even just the freedom to RP their failure as they see fit?
What is so horrifying about a player wanting to, say, flavor their 7 CHA as your character being, say for example, "extremely insecure around people, geekish, horrible in social situations, maybe with a bad stutter, but still a very nice and kind person at heart"? Why shouldn't a player be able to attribute his increased chance to fail at leading troops or picking up a girl to that reason, if that's the sort of character he wants to play?
Why would that need to get thrown out the window in the name of reducing this supposed "benefit" to them? Why are they're not punished enough for taking that stat penalty unless the GM can step in and say that the character they wanted to play as a kind, terminally-awkward bookworm really said "Hey sugar****, you been boffing any red-headed guys with scars on their cheeks lately?"
Dazzling Display does have some advantages that set it apart from the other AoE Demoralize approaches. Dirge of Doom, as you say, does stop Inspire Courage. Blistering Invective is language-dependent, which removes one of the big benefits of Demoralize as a debuff; its ability to target a wide range of creatures, and get around quite a few resistances, whereas BI is much more limited.
You can totally Dazzling Display the pack of Dire Wolves that are ambushing the party from every direction. But they'll shrug off Blistering Invective to no effect whatsoever.
And of course, Dazzling Display doesn't burn spell slots or performance rounds.
Now, whether that's enough to outweigh the other factors you point out is a different question, but I just thought I'd mention that it does have some other advantages that make it not compare quite so badly as that, even for a Bard.
Not so much on its own terms, maybe, but the margins for Combat Maneuvers as the levels go up are tight enough that eating the extra penalty to the CMB check for taking damage from the AoO will likely ruin your attempt anyway. Even if you can technically survive it without too much problem, it becomes a wasted action, and you still take the chip damage. Sure, you might be able to gamble on the Wizard not being able to hit your AC at all, and depending on the wizard that could go different ways, but anything worth hitting with, say, a disarm is most likely going to stand a pretty decent chance of hitting you with their highest BaB, and you're pretty likely to lose your Maneuver if they do.
Like for like on intelligence, they only break even at 6th level. That is a sizable chunk of the game that the rogue beat the bard on skill, and that is before you take into account that rogues focusing as a skill monkey can relatively easily boost their int at creation(points that really cannot be spared by the bard who need Dex, Str and Cha already)
And the Rogue wouldn't need to pump their other stats? Unless by "focusing as a skill monkey" you mean a Rogue who resolves their MAD issues by being ONLY a skill monkey? In which case one would think you ought to compare to a Bard who also chooses to be "focusing as a skill monkey" as a Bard? And for such a Bard I don't see a reason why the Bard couldn't pump INT just as easily.
And the funny part is that (on top of everything else) even that "focusing as a skill monkey" Bard would still probably be more useful in combat than the "focusing as a skill monkey" Rogue. The Bard can always Inspire Courage, and lay down buffs, and since pumping CHA is important for a lot of the most important skills a skill monkey will be using anyway, they'll be at least decent casters too.
In the end, Bards are a bit behind on skill points, but can use Versatile Performance to catch up, and get WAY better synergy between "boosting CHA for Diplomacy/Bluff/Intimidate/Use Magical Device" and "combat effectiveness". They can even use Versatile Performance swap certain other skills to work off their high stat, and effectively pull in a couple new class skills if they see fit. If they really want to make it ridiculous they can also use VP to double-count any Skill Focuses or Prodigy feats they take on their VP skills. And with Ultimate Campaign and the retraining rules, you can now even get back any points "lost" to the replaced skills.
I think, in the end, it comes down to the sort of campaign you're running. If you're doing protracted dungeon crawls with a whole lot of disarming magical traps, then the impact of Trapfinding could potentially make itself felt over and above what the Bard could bring to the table, even if they took the trait to make DD a class skill. On the other hand, if you're running an intrigue campaign with lots of opportunities for social skills, then I'd expect a Bard to pretty much obliterate the Rogue in the role of skill monkey.
And in either case, I'd put my money on the skill-focused Bard contributing more to the combats than the skill-focused Rogue, on the whole.
Huh? How did you get "roleplay doesn't really come into it" out of what I said?
Roleplay! Roleplay as much as you want! All I'm saying is that if a player is trying to determine how to roleplay, if a player is trying to determine what that modifier to their stat actually means in terms of its severity... then it makes perfect sense for them to keep said roleplay consistent with its mechanical effect, and with how the fluff describes it as well. They're still roleplaying, just doing that roleplay in a way such that there's no disconnect between said roleplay and the mechanics when they do come in.
If their roleplay is within the ballpark of what the fluff and mechanics describe the stat effect as actually being, I don't think those players should be told they're doing it wrong based on an attempted statistical population model of Golarion, whether using the NPC stat array, or whatever other method. That's my point.
I don't think anyone in the thread said someone with a 7 IQ had to be 'Ugh, Thac Smash!'.
We've had, in this very thread, contention that simply being a tool-using animal with a total vocabulary in the whole dozens of words ought to be an INT 6. (i.e. higher than Homer) We've also had doubting whether an INT dumper should even be able to do things like maneuver to avoid attacks of opportunity in combat, effectively utilize flanking, and time their attacks to take advantage of it.
I realize not everyone holds to that degree of it. And it's a squiggly, imprecise, subjective spectrum to adjudicate any way you look at it. I'm just trying to give some context as to how the books actually describe various increments, and to point out that it's really not nearly so bad as it's often portrayed as.
(Well, that, and also making the more general point that trying to map hypothesized population demographics onto our own world really shouldn't overrule what we see from the actual mechanical/described aspects of the effect dumping stats actually entails, as a general principle.)
Ahhhhhh, this old argument again...
I am of the opinion that it's good to roleplay your stats... but I'm also pretty convinced that the "required" actual usual effects of a normal buy-down just aren't as severe as people often make them out to be. As was mentioned upthread, the stereotypical "Village Idiot" isn't an INT 7, he's an INT 4, and even that INT 4, if you look at the NPC's writeup, is still described as being functional, though significantly impaired. He's capable of hunting food for himself, handling odd jobs, and finding secrets to guide the PCs to as a Boon out of gratitude.
That's what INT 4 human looks like.
Similarly, look at the description text for the Dwarf racial modifiers. They describe their effects in the following way: "+2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, –2 Charisma: Dwarves are both tough and wise, but also a bit gruff." So if you took a -2 to your CHA of your own accord on your Human, it makes no sense to me that you couldn't flavor your roleplay in the same way. "The roleplay effect of that -2 on my character is just that, well, he's a bit gruff with people, and that accounts for the penalties to the rolls." Doesn't have to be that he's some can't-take-him-out-in-public guy who picks his nose and breaks wind as loud as he can. Just... a bit gruff.
Which only makes sense. Mechanically, if you were trying to ask that someone go out with you, even a 7 CHA is not, for instance, someone who could never, ever get a date. Rather--whatever the Diplomacy DC is for making that particular request of someone--the effect of their lowered CHA is that they're someone who has, on average, a mere 10% less chance of walking away with a new S.O. than a normal everyday Jane or Joe would have, all else being equal. 7 CHA could be the nerdy, uncertain-of-himself bookworm that almost always stumbles over his words trying to talk with people, but could still very well end up getting along with people if he got past his shyness once or twice and managed to get his words across right, or they had other reasons to see past that (situational modifiers).
People can argue all they want about whether the NPC array is a physical law for the vast majority of Golarionites born, or whether they actually roll 3d6, or 4d6, or whatever, and how that pertains to the actual population distribution, and what percentage of NPCs in Golarion's total population distribution are created using those rules or through GM fiat like the Village Idiot is an example of. There are no answers to these questions, but even if there were, it wouldn't actually change how an INT 4 is described as playing out, or what the mechanical effects of a 7 CHA are.
(Taking the above to an extreme: Assume, as a thought experiment, that it could be shown that 95% of Golarionites had an INT that was greater than 14. That wouldn't mean that INT 10 is now someone who couldn't tie their shoelaces, since we can see in the NPC writeup that even INT 4 characters can do stuff like that. Rather, you'd have simply proved that the population in Golarion skews significantly smarter than our world, and that they don't map to each other. The stat distribution simply doesn't override either the mechanical or the described effects of the different stat values themselves.)
In short, yes, your INT 7 guy is going to be quite on the dense side, and I certainly wouldn't roleplay him as coming up with any elaborate plans or intricate, thirty-two-step schemes, but there's really no reason you should feel compelled by anyone to play him at a "Thog no like you" level of cognitive disability either, unless you want to.
Alexander Augunas wrote:
Be a paladin. Anything immune to fear, emotion effects, or mind-affecting abilities is immune to demoralize attempts.
Actually, Intimidate is not described as a mind-affecting ability anywhere that I'm aware of, unless there's something I'm missing.
Which makes sense. After all, when you demoralize, you're not trying to muck around with the target's brain-meats to directly, artificially create the emotion. What you're doing is simply creating an actual situation in the outside world, a situation where that fear would come to the target naturally.
The only way to be flat-out immune to Demoralize is to be simply immune to feeling fear in any kind of scary situation, fundamentally speaking.
Personally, I think the Demoralize builds have shown a critical weakness in Demoralize. It is just too easy to cripple an entire group of enemies. I think I may have to discuss houserules with my groups.
I don't think the issue is so much in the Demoralize skill itself, as much as an issue with things like the Thug archetype, which provide a way to get around the usual "no possible way to use Demoralize's shaken to get Frightened" restriction. The core of Demoralize is just a rather pedestrian debuff that is of questionable action-economy worth on its own; it's only when you gain a way to possibly upgrade the condition that it becomes really amazing.
And even that I don't actually think counts as "broken". Is it very, very good? Heck yes! And I'm glad that martials can actually get something like that, another flavorful option that doesn't fall by the wayside at mid-to-high levels, fits with their theme, and isn't just "hit it with a stick".
I think it pays for being much easier to land by also being less effective; its harder to resist than say, a wizard spell, but it isn't the sort of complete encounter-ender that a lot of wizard spells can be either. If it allowed a comparable save for a significantly lesser effect, it'd be just another lackluster option that you should eschew in favor of being a beatstick.
As it stands, you can definitely disrupt the opponents action economy and positioning, but it won't end the fight like a wizard can. Sure, they might end up fleeing for a round, but they don't need to be stupid about it; the frightened description says it flees "as best it can". I'd assume that includes Withdraw actions (so as not to provoke if you're in AoO range) or Run actions (to get out of PC charge range if you're not).
And since Thug's version of frightened only lasts a single round they'll be coming back again next turn, with a +5 DC on the Intimidate check each time you use it. It's not something you can use to keep them Fright-locked permanently; that +5 for subsequent attempts within an hour will add up pretty fast.
I actually love the build, to be honest. It's an admittedly powerful option for martial classes that synergizes with giving them social options as well, an option that has to be used fairly tactically, measuring when the optimal time to make use of it is to mess with the enemy positioning.
To the OP, for GM strategies to counter, I'd suggest that the key won't be so much "stating the enemies so that they can usually just tank the intimidate effect and make it just a no-sell" but rather "making enemies respond to being demoralized in the best way."
1) Definitely make sure to track all the +5 DC increases. This will make it less attractive to just use willy-nilly.
2) Even Frightened creatures will fight if cornered, and they literally can't run. Fights in tight quarters might not see all THAT much difference between Frightened and Shaken, and Shaken just isn't all that much in the broad scheme of things.
3) Have the NPCs use all their options, even when frightened, to flee effectively, so as not to expose themselves to AoOs or set themselves up for PC counterattack. This may include even foes that you didn't frighten falling back temporarily as well. Yeah, you've bought yourself a turn, but if the keep their formation regardless the unfrightened NPCs can set themselves up to try and make you pay for attempting to exploit the frightened ones.
In the end, I think it comes down to tactics more than stats.
If you can't tell yet, I tend to get on my own high horse when people try to go to extremes and then tell others that they are doing it wrong. Different people can have different styles, and that's fine. But I don't particularly like the idea of someone proclaiming 'the one true way'. :) It sticks in my craw. Too many religious people telling me that when I was young (and none of them agreeing on the 'one true way'). :)
I apologize if it sounded like I was going to kick down your door and try to force you to stop playing your game the way you wanted to; that wasn't my intention.
As I've said before, I'm not claiming your games aren't fun, or that you're wrong to enjoy them. But making arguments for what we each think is good advice for a GM isn't the same as saying that you are obligated to follow it, or else.
It's like (to use a much more extreme example) if I were to make a post outlining how in my campaigns I have an NPC who's seven levels higher than the PCs, constantly keeps an eye on them, and comes in to bail them out if it ever looks like they're getting in over their heads, and I asked whether the forumites thought that was a good idea as a GM. I bet a lot of posters would reply that they don't think it's a very good idea and that they wouldn't enjoy playing in such a campaign.
But but but! If my players are enjoying it, and I'm enjoying it, who do these forumites think they are to tell me what I'm doing is badwrongfun?! I could fire back to their posts with the same quote you used: "You can play and run however you want. Others who disagree with you are not doing it wrong however."
And that's true. Heck, depending on my precise tastes, and the precise tastes of my players, it could even theoretically hurt the fun of the table to remove the guardian NPC. And of course, it's certainly within the "rights" of the GM to have their "setting" such that there are NPCs of whatever level they chose, acting as the GM thinks they would.
But when I post something like that in a discussion forum and ask for people's opinions on it, I'd still expect those opinions to include "I don't think your DMPC is very good DMing style, and if I was playing at your table I'd try to convince you the change things so the super-powerful guy isn't holding our hand anymore."
In the same way, yes. I am making the case that, in my opinion, being flatly unwilling to change any decided detail of the setting (before the campaign starts) in response to player feedback is something that will tend to (in general, may vary from table to table) result in less "net fun" than the table might otherwise have had.
If you're convinced that's not the case with your table, I don't think it's "wrong" for you to run it that way. But in terms of discussing GMing practice and theory as a whole, I would still argue the above point, in the general sense. In the same sense that I would argue "I don't think higher-level DMPCs are, in general, a very good idea for DMs to use either".
(To be clear: I'm not saying that I think the approach you're describing is "as bad" as the DMPC example. Even in my view I agree that it's a relatively smaller thing in comparison. I'm just using it as an example of how "debating about GMing techniques you advocate to others, and styles of GMing you enjoy" can be a valid thing without necessarily meaning "you're having badwrongfun if you enjoy anything else!")
So, no setting should ever be fixed enough to have any limitations, since all settings must have flexibility enough to handle all conceivable character concepts?
No, that is not what I'm suggesting. When I DM, my own worlds certainly do have various fixed limitations (within the context of the world itself). There are certain character concepts that would not be possible, etc.
But, if a character came to me (before the campaign started) asking to play something that those limitations invalidated, I would be willing to consider changing those limitations I came up with into different in-world-fixed limitations. It's not that I play in the sort of world you construe me as wanting, with "no overarching theme or coherence". I am simply willing to make alterations to what that (coherent) theme is in the process of getting it ready for the players to step into it at the start of the campaign.
Nor am I saying that the DM is absolutely obliged to grant every request to change their setting. But what I am saying is this: that a GM who entirely refuses any request at all that would require a change their setting, solely on the basis of it being their setting, is, IMHO, setting themselves up for potential missed opportunities that could have increased overall table fun. As such, it's my earnest suggestion to GMs that they be willing to take a second look at such opportunities.
'Cause, speaking as someone who has GMed significantly more than he's played, having the willingness to do that can lead to way cooler places than just my "original" setting, if not "sullied" by player input, would have taken us.
(Everything I've said does apply equally to players too, of course. If you're talking things out, negotiating, and the GM is holding fast on various particular points, it's every bit as much a good thing for you to be willing to take a second look at your character and see how attached you really are to the parts that are in contention. I don't advocate players considering their character backstory sacrosanct and unopen to any compromise any more than I do GMs considering their setting unopen to any compromise. Quite the contrary, the more compromising everyone is willing to do on the small details, the better it works out for everyone.)
Why is it you get to decide what is a 'small detail'?
I'm not saying that the players can just unilaterally decide what is a small detail, but that doesn't change the fact that there are going to be small details. And medium-sized ones too.
To continue the Druid example, if it is the case that the fact that RAW Druids can't possibly exist in your setting actually was absolutely crucial to a huge plot twist that the whole campaign turned on, and would be crucial to that major level 10 quest that you thought would be super-awesome for the characters to experience, then granted, that is not a small detail.
So when I (as a player at your table whose sympathies, like I said, would tend to lie with the guy who wants to play the Druid in a situation like that) come to you, and I'm saying "Hey, man, are you really sure you couldn't cut Bill some slack? He really wants to play a Druid and if you just let him approach it this way, you could totally justify him being their without any problem", then if it is such a crucial facet of the setting, yeah. Totally push back on me.
That's how that inter-personal negotiation stuff goes.
But I also know that sometimes, those conflicting details aren't always all that terribly crucial. Sometimes there's an easy way to work it so that the change doesn't destroy the epic quest you were going to send them once they hit level 10. Sometimes, just being willing to take that second look at it, without committing to anything, will show you ways that the precise detail barring the player is actually not that hard at all to work around.
And I know that being willing to work with your players, to engage in back-and-forth on hashing out things like that, has made the "final product" campaign world a lot more fun and engaging for everyone in the times I've engaged in it.
So that's why I'm an advocate for being willing to do so.
GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Depends on your group, though. Some groups will feel "coddled" and resentful if even their failures just end up taking them forward anyway, regardless of what they did or how well. Takes away from their sense of realism, and more importantly, of accomplishment when they do succeed.
Some groups will want to failure to have the real potential, if the failure happens badly enough and in the wrong place, of not going forward, and indeed, of going nowhere except six feet into the ground for all concerned. (Though they also want to do their best to avoid that failure actually occurring.)
Ah, I see the misunderstanding. I wasn't saying that there was only one choice the Druids had to chose from. When I talked about the Druids being dependent on a particular deity, I didn't mean that every Druid had to be dependent on the same particular deity, just contrasting being dependent on a specific, particular deific entity giving them their powers rather than the "primal magics" of Nature itself that the CRB describes them as having access to.
So yeah, to be more clear, it's that to add a houserule that the Druid class needs an actual, particular deific entity backing them (even if that entity can be different for each Druid) in a campaign taking place on a continent where the gods aren't in play, strikes me as needlessly un-fun.
So, we're back to the GM being the second tier, and his preferences are secondary to everyone elses.
No, that's... not at all what I said. I said that the assumption is generally that the GM doesn't specifically want you to not play your class, but rather that the class not being available is in most cases a secondary side effect of how he wants his campaign to be like. Thus, if there's a way that you can find to make the class work, to reconcile it to the important details without compromising the parts the GM is himself particularly geeked about, then everyone can get what they most want.
But to the extent that the GM takes the hard line out of the gate, that the setting itself absolutely will not change, that it's inviolate in all respects even in small details, just by virtue of being THE SETTING, then the chances for that kind of happy compromise being able to happen are correspondingly reduced. I personally think that's a... less than optimal approach in terms of generating table fun, and not something I would suggest to any GM.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, then. If you didn't houserule in a requirement for Druids to have a specific deity give them their powers, and your Druids can get their powers straight from Nature itself like they do in the CRB, then why would they be unable to do exactly that on the continent where the forces of the gods aren't in play?
We can also ask 'Why is everything the player wants on the table, but things the GM doesn't want are off the table and the GM must adjust?'. Why is the first more important than the second?
It's not that the things the DM doesn't want are completely off the table; they're open to negotiation like everything else. If they're enjoyed by the other players, cool.
Still, to your point, I think part of the reason the "active" desires are percieved as tending to be more important is because "wanting to be able to do something" and "wanting everyone else not to be able to do something" are things we treat differently in our perceptions.
It's the difference between saying "I really like the Lawful Good alignment, so I want to play it" and saying "I really don't like the Lawful Good alignment, so I don't want anyone in the party to play it."
"Not being able to play a class I really wanted to play" would make me sadder than "someone else getting to play a class I really didn't want them to play".
In fact, part of the reason for the disconnect is probably giving the GM the benefit of the doubt. The player wants to play the class as a first-tier priority. They want to play the class because they want to play the class. We assume that this is not the case for the GM, that it's a second-tier priority. We assume they don't want to ban/nerf Clerics because they don't want the player to play a Cleric, they want to ban/nerf Clerics (we assume) because they want to have a campaign whose setting is, say for instance, a continent abandoned by the gods.
Since we assume it's a second-tier priority, that opens the door more to workarounds in that direction, that allow both the actual first tier priorities for both the player and the GM to be fulfilled, if they're willing to compromise. To use your own example, a GM can find a reason for the Barbarian to show up, even if the immediate environment is highly civilized, as long as their first-tier priority isn't simply "no Barbarians" but rather "highly civilized environment as setting". Conan went into some pretty civilized environments, IIRC.
That is, per the class ability, up to the GM. Oh look, GM says clerics can't do that (to further differentiate them from Oracles) because the gods say 'If you are a cleric, you must worship us'. Done.
Kirth made the salient point here. It's not that the GM "can't" say that Clerics depend on a deity, or that Druids depend on a deity, or that Rangers depend on a deity or any other divine caster. The GM can spin whatever setting they want, if they can get player buy-in. In most settings, players would probably find that unobjectionable flavor. Heck, the GM "could" say that in their setting, Barbarian Rage had a divine component.
But its when you combine, for example, houseruling the Druid class to make them dependent on a particular deity AND removing all deities from play that just comes across as a passive-agressive way of banning/nerfing Druids while hiding behind the "demands" of the storyline.
That, to me, feels like a pretty far cry from compromise, when there are obvious methods provided right in the CRB itself to harmonize "the story-plot-situation with respect to the gods" and "the player's desire to play the class they want" such that they both work and are feasible, without any nerfs required.
Actually, according to the class description, the Oracles explicitly do derive their powers from the gods, which is necessary because the whole, entire point is that they were chosen by something outside them, potentially even against their will. They don't need to like said gods that they get their powers from, but that's a different question. They're the one divine casting class that isn't given the option of getting their divine mojo from generic, impersonal forces.
The Cleric, for their part, is stated in the CRB as being able to devote themselves to a divine concept instead of a deity, and the Druids get their powers from Nature itself and its "primal magics". The only way for "no-Druids-even-possible" to make sense is if in addition to no deities that continent had "no Nature" whatsoever on it... whatever that even means.
So according to the class descriptions, the divine casting class that specifically requires deities to be behind the power is the Oracle. Clerics can go either way, and Druids inherently get their mojo from primal nature forces.
Sure, you can turn around and alter the class details as well so they don't work the way they're described, and thus keep the class unplayable, but at that point the excuse of "oh no, it's not that I want to kibosh your class choice, the larger story I want to tell just happened to require kiboshing it by virtue of what's happening with the gods and stuff" starts to wear preeeeeetty thin.
If the GM is so inflexible as to not even allow such an small compromise as "okay, if you really want to play a Druid, then sure, I'll let you play a Druid who gets their power from Nature itself, which is how the CRB says it works anyway" then that's... not a GMing call I'd be very impressed with. Not saying they're necessarily a "bad GM" overall, or that the campaign can't be good regardless, but my sympathies would probably side with the player were I an onlooker in that particular exchange.
The CRB disagrees with you.
Combat Reflexes and Additional Attacks of Opportunity: If you have the Combat Reflexes feat, you can add your Dexterity bonus to the number of attacks of opportunity you can make in a round. This feat does not let you make more than one attack for a given opportunity, but if the same opponent provokes two attacks of opportunity from you, you could make two separate attacks of opportunity (since each one represents a different opportunity). Moving out of more than one square threatened by the same opponent in the same round doesn't count as more than one opportunity for that opponent.
Agreed. The players could definitely stand to be more polite in how they're voicing their own desires for the campaign, but what's fundamentally going on here is pretty much exactly what should happen in situations like this. They're negotiating. They're working it out. They're trying to find a compromise that will make the most people enjoy the campaign, including (but not limited to) the GM.
Like I said earlier in the thread, the more willing that players are to compromise on changing the details of their characters, and the more willing that GMs are to compromise on changing the details of their settings, the more opportunities there are for maximizing the fun of everyone involved.
So... I ask the players if they have interest in playing a forest themed campaign about why the elves disappeared, including restrictions on race and such (no elves), and if they agree, then whine about it, they are the problem, not me. YMMV. I honestly don't care.
Perfectly reasonable. Checking ahead of time with the players like you're describing is exactly the sort of thing that has been suggested to avoid the kind of campaign-expectation conflicts, and allow the kind of long-term planning you desire without losing all ability to take the players' desires into account as well. If the players agree, and then go back on what they said after the GM put in all the work, then of course they're being unreasonable.
Whereas, correspondingly, if they do voice their opinions at the outset that a bunch of the players want to play elves, and then the GM goes and writes his specifically-no-elves campaign anyway, even knowing that, then that, in turn, would strike me as rather jerkish and contrarily-dictatorial on his part.
It's not a question of changing the campaign details "at a moment's notice". That isn't at all necessary, simply in order to work player input into the kind of campaign they'd enjoy playing.
Ugh. There goes my Dragon Age play time while my toddler sleeps...
Great Scott, man! What are you doing still in a quagmire like this thread while there's a great game like Dragon Age to be played?
Save yourself! It's too late for me; I've already failed too many Swim checks...
But I am absolutely sure that, had we done it the traditional way, being a slave to the alignment he wrote on his sheet and tracking deeds incrementally, with me changing his alignment and informing him of the changes at the time I felt his deeds justified an alignment change, we would have had exactly the same half hour debate.
Just to clarify, I wasn't in any way taking issue with your improvement to the whole "tracking incrementally" bit, or your approach of you being the one to make the call based on your own appraisal. That all sounds super-awesome.
The only part I though might be worth a discussion was just the whole "when do they find out they're now X alignment?" question, because, like I mentioned, I had recent personal experience with exactly that kind of inner-motive/outer-action apparent disconnect, and if the discussion is going to happen, I'd rather not be doing it based on our respective memories of three months back. But even that, I agree, there's things to be said on both sides, just giving my own experience of it.
And I agree that Lincoln Hills' suggestion about doing it post-session is a very good one as well.
(Actually, Monks, now that I think some more about it, are the ones that has the capacity to bite more than anyone. At least with Paladins and Barbarians the feedback loop is pretty short, and you can go hunting for an Atonement spell or some such immediately. With Monks, the first time you hit one of those extrinsic, environmental factors that let you realize that you're no longer Lawful might very easily be when you hit the next level and you find out you aren't able to take a Monk level for that level up.)
As they play, I evaluate their behavior and mentally assign an alignment to them based on what their characters do and how they behave, not what the players wrote on their sheets. And it almost never matters anyway. But if someone who always or even usually behaves in evil ways finds a holy sword and picks it up, he's going to lose a level, even if his character sheet says he's neutral or good.
The one advantage to making alignment shifts an up-front and discussed thing is that it reduces unpleasant surprises that can be based around different interpretations of motives.
For instance, my Bard is Neutral Good, someone who's primarily concerned with helping people and saving lives, and doesn't much care whether he's breaking or keeping laws in the process of doing so. One of the people I play with (a Chaotic Good player) once recently expressed disbelief that my alignment was not Lawful Good, since I'd been fairly consistently trying to curtail or do damage control for his shenanigans in bucking authority in the city we were in. Which, yeah, I guess you could interpret as a long string of Lawful actions, looking at it from the outside as another player (or GM).
Thing was, my character didn't give 2cp about the laws, he was trying to mitigate that stuff because there were a LOT of people's lives at stake, and the cooperation of the authorities was pretty crucial to what we were planning to try and protect them.
Having an actual "shift moment" out in the open does have the advantage of bringing out any discussion as to different viewpoints on the issue while the events in question are still fresh in mind, and you're not suddenly arguing about a shift the DM made ten sessions ago based predominantly on events that you don't remember the exact details of as well anymore when you suddenly find out that Anarchic arrows are doing an extra 2d6 of damage to you...
Whether it's a vast difference in flavor or small, the point is that because the DM in the story was willing to tell the elf-crazy player that he didn't have to go through with his (despondent) offer to play a gnome, and instead decided to change one of the "immutable" constants of his world, replacing one thing the DM liked with something else that the DM also liked, it means that there will be a net "overall fun quotient" gain around that particular table.
Now are there situations where the DM doing that for the player would be a bad idea, and instead reduce the net "overall fun quotient" of the table instead? Of course! But if the DM has already made up his mind that explicit decisions he's made about the world are flatly "immutable", before even considering changes to it in light of player desires, or how changes might affect the "overall fun quotient" of the table or not, then the ability to generate that kind of "net fun gain" is correspondingly off the table.
Doesn't mean the "take-it-or-leave-it" approach can't work. Doesn't mean the sessions can't be fun. Doesn't even mean that the issue will even come up as long as you have the right group of people.
But the DM who can do that, who can exercise that level of flexibility, is capable of generating those kind of "net fun gains". Which I hold as a win. It's a good skill for DMs to have. It's a good skill for players to have. The more flexible everyone is, the more leeway you'll have to find the most optimized possible "fun quotient" for everyone.
Dragons and elves don't have even anything close to remotely the same flavor and implications to them.
And...? Neither do LotR-style-elves and gnomes.
Yes, a dragon campaign will have a somewhat different "flavor" to it (though the degree of that difference will depend on how I, with my omnipotent GM powers, flavor my universe's version of dragons, and how I planned to flavor my elves). But I like dragons too, in different ways. And if I, hypothetically speaking, hadn't liked dragons, I could have used something else I did.
Plus, I've made my LotR-lover-elf-crazed player happy, in a way I couldn't have done if I'd considered that kind of change to my world's "immutable" parameters flatly off the table.
I consider that a definite GMing win.
Matthew Downie wrote:
"You really sure you need to do that, man? I was kinda assuming that there weren't going to be any elves in this campaign... though in retrospect I probably should have given you some heads up on that before I went and did a bunch of work on the idea, checked to see if you'd all be cool with that."
"That's cool, it's no big deal, I was just reeeeeeally psyched up because of the new Hobbit movies and I really, really, really love elves... but... *despondent sigh* if it's going to be that much extra work for you... I... guess I can be a gnome instead." *hangs head*
"...no, no I really want you to have the funnest possible time with this, and I'm pretty sure I can actually make this work now that I've thought about it for a minute. I'll have to change the specifics of some of the encounter details later on, but most of that won't even start to hit until you reach the ruins at the very least; you've still got that trek ahead of you. Okay, taking it from the top."
"For two thousand years, dragons ruled over all. Their sorceror-wyrms reigned for a century before abdicating to their chosen heir. Other races were tolerated, but had no say in government, nor were they permitted to enter the craggy peaks of the draconic citadels. At last, the other races united in rebellion, and a terrible war began, one which wrought destruction across half the world. The feud grew more bitter and bloody by the year, until at last all dragon life was destroyed. Now, three centuries later, a new civilisation has risen in the ashes of the old. You are part of an archaelogical survey team, sent to investigate whether the dragons are truly extinct as most believe, or whether some dark and terrible remant remains, perhaps in the chasms below their desolate cities, alive or undead..."
The length people will go to to insist players must always win is ridiculous ...
The point isn't that players must always win, it's that DM's don't ultimately have that "must always win" button any more than the players do.
It's that the idea that the setting rules out certain races does not automatically mean that the DM should under no circumstances rework that exclusion he'd baked into his world.
I can imagine situations where, if I were looking in on a conflict, I'd suggest to the player "are you really sure you couldn't budge on that? it sounds like you could get basically the same experience you're interested in by doing X, Y and Z instead, without making the DM shift things..."
I can imagine situations where, if I were looking in on a conflict, I'd suggest to the DM "are you really sure you couldn't budge on that? I know you specifically wrote Orcs out of your world, but Bob's really wanted to play one since forever, and he'll be moving to Alaska at the end of the year, so this'll be his last chance to game with us..."
It's not "the DM should always immediately bow to the players' wishes." It's not "the players should always immediately bow to the DM's wishes." At the end of the day, it's just resolving interpersonal conflict in a way that hopefully makes it the most fun for the most people.
And as frustrating as it can be to us nerds, there is no RAW for doing that.
I've noticed that this idea of "trust" seems to be a very recurrent theme in your posts. Going along with the DM is taken as a sign of "trust", with the converse implication that the reason one would have to not want to go along is because of a lack of "trust".
Except that's just not at all necessarily the case. It's not that they think the banned race will result in worse stories, or that you did it to be mean. It's that they simply have other priorities.
The guy, mentioned upthread, who has invested a lot of time into building/painting his beloved goblin mini-figure, and is really, really geeked to play with it and doesn't want to have to put it into mothballs for however many months (or years) the current campaign runs for before he finally gets a chance to actually use it... that doesn't have anything to do with his trust in how good a story you'll tell.
The guy who's a furry, who roleplays in large part to have an outlet for his fetish, and who isn't interested in going months (or years) in the current campaign without being able to do that at all because his Kitsune are banned... that doesn't have anything to do with his trust in how good a story you'll tell.
Guys like me, who can't stomach RPing the things that straight-up Evil campaigns entail... that isn't because I think they'll be told with poor skill, it's because I don't like pretending to do nasty things to people, even imaginary ones. Which, again, wouldn't have anything to do with my trust in how good a story you'll tell either.
All of that stuff, the very stuff that got mentioned in previous posts as examples, pertain to issues that are irrespective of how good a storyteller they think the DM will be. Because the experience of a roleplaying game is something that is, in the end, significantly larger than just the story the DM has in mind, and the story the DM has in mind is not (humbling though it may be to us DMs) necessarily the most important part for every player.
Sure we as DMs can gnash our teeth and rage that the above three kinds of players are having BADWRONGFUN!!! for treating those other, supposedly less-important aspects of the roleplaying experience as more important to them than OUR wonderful story/world we've created. We can indeed ban them from our games, for not being the right kind of player.
That's not an approach I'd want to take myself, though.
Reducing it to "all a matter of your history and level of trust with the folks at the table" is missing the fact that it's not just about you and the abstract quality of your storytelling. People have many other reasons for showing up at the table, reasons which may not always correlate to the reasons of you or the people you typically game with.
And personally, should I even encounter one of them, I only hope that I would try and respect those differences as much as I can.
Pretty much, yeah. Or maybe a cross between the Amoeba Boys and Señor Senior, Senior.
Not that they couldn't be competent enough in their own way, just that "their way" would, when they tried to be "evil" involve fiendish deeds that were less along the lines of slaughtering and pillaging, and more along the lines of linking people directly to TV Tropes articles, thus ruining their productivity at whatever they were doing before.
Immortal Greed wrote:
Aww, that is unfortunate to hear. A "good" evil campaign run once in a while can be absolutely thrilling. Now peasants are easy killing but they don't give good loot, but there are always mayors and former adventurers to gank, and don't forget the clergy! Pick your targets, be absolute jobbers and it can be really fun. It is like a dungeon, above ground and everywhere!
Well, that's pretty much what I was saying about how everyone's "sticking points" are different. For me, the idea of spending an evening pretending to go around killing innocent people or whatnot isn't thrilling in the slightest. I mostly just feel kinda sick at the thought.
Whereas to someone who finds Evil campaigns actively thrilling, my adamant insistence on playing a Good alignment might well seem as bizarre as some other player's adamant insistence on playing a Kitsune.
Though I will say, one kind of Evil campaign I suspect I could find hilarious is if the party were absolutely dedicated to keeping things just at the silly, Saturday-morning-cartoon-level supervillainy. Kill the Paladins sent to stop us? Heck no! We'll obviously capture them alive, and then put them into an easily-escapable deathtrap, (and even make sure they get out of it all right if necessary) so that the Heroes can come back and continue to try and foil our plans later once they've gained a few more levels, as is only right and proper! Mwahahahahahaha!
Even funnier if the rest of the world doesn't actually take on the same cartoonish ethos, and we're the only oddballs. So the forces of Good are used to dealing with the sort of actual, honestly-brutally-horrifying evil that Golarion has so much of... and then they come smack up against this group of complete and total loons who rant and rave about the power of Eeeeeeevil and their brilliant plans to take over the world by gathering all the MacGuffins and attaining Ultimate Cosmic Power... but who wouldn't actually be able to so much as kick the proverbial puppy should the opportunity present itself, and who'd probably throw in for an Enemy Mine should any of those aforementioned actual nasties show up and attack.
I've never had a player tell me that they can't play in any RPG unless they play one particular race. It is nothing I would ever see from anyone I know.
Yeah, like I said, it's not actually anything from any of my players either. If I did actually suggest a campaign with certain races not available I doubt there'd be much of an issue.
But if I did have a friend who couldn't play a game without being a fox-man I wouldn't write a whole campaign world that precluded them. But, to be honest, I wouldn't be playing with fox-man in the first place. My group of players isn't that inflexible in their ability to enjoy a game.
*shrugs* I guess I just don't see it as a deal-breaker. Everyone has their quirks. If my (hypothetical) Kitsune player was a friend, and a fun guy to play with, and doesn't turn his fetish (or whatever) into something that made the other players uncomfortable, I'd rather do like you say above and just make sure not to write a campaign world that precluded them.
Especially since, like I mentioned above, there are ways in which I'm also "inflexible" in my own respects (though with things like alignment rather than race for me) so I try to be patient with the inflexibilities of others insofar as I can, even if theirs don't happen to fall in the same places as mine. "Do unto others..."
Vivianne Laflamme wrote:
It's a pretty common trope in fantasy and science fiction that an extinct race isn't really extinct. There's a surviving diaspora or they were sealed away or they traveled through time or whatever. It seems like it'd be really easy to do something like that if a player wanted to play a member of a genocided race.
It's true that might very well be an option in many cases, but as Democratus points out sometimes that doesn't work as well without changing the surrounding story.
So if it's just that Kitsune were all killed, then I might well throw out the idea of a "last survivor"... but if it's a situation where my current plotline has it that the existence of Kitsune blood would "unmake the universe by its very presence", and a player said the quote in my previous post to me, then that's when I'd maybe do something like what I originally said, and switch it to "the existence of Dwarf blood (or whatever race the PCs didn't pick) would unmake the universe by its very presence" and rework things from there, making changes as needed.
And there's probably oodles more ways beyond either of those, depending on the situation.
Green light is .... Everything that was specifically included. You pick one of these, you are likely good to go without extra commentary from me. You want an 'easy' character creation process? Stay here. You dip into yellow, there is going to be extra work involved, and red just isn't going to happen.
For me, I have a hard time thinking of a truly "red" case on racial lines. Sure, I might push back on some concepts, but in the very final analysis...
...well, look at it this way. I am--right now--imagining one of my friends, who I very much enjoy playing with, (respectfully) saying to me a version of what I myself would say about my own sticking points, like Evil campaigns: "Look, this is just... a hangup I have. This campaign just isn't going to be much fun at all for me if I can't be a Kitsune, because the fox-creature aspect is a big part of what I, personally, enjoy about RPing in the first place. And if I can't play that then I think I should probably just bow out this time 'cause I'll just be bored and uninspired otherwise. Sorry."
If one of my friends felt that strongly, then rather than have him gone from our sessions (and despite the fact that I don't personally "get" why Kitsune in particular are so important to him) I expect that I would change my story, even if I had specifically written Kitsune out. If they're absent because they were genocided ages ago, and that's a major plot point, then maybe I shift it so that it was a different race got killed off that none of the PCs picked and rework things from there to see where the changes lead. I've done stuff like that before. It's not that hard.
Because it's just not worth it to me. Just the mere "sanctity" of my given plotline/worldbuilding with regard to races is absolutely not worth having someone else's fun spoiled to that degree--much less them sitting a whole campaign out.
Because I know how it would feel if one of my "sticking points" got stepped on like that.
(To clarify, none of my players actually would say that, or have ever even played Kitsune to my knowledge. I'm just using it as a thought experiment.)
Excluding one option out of many is indeed different than insisting on one option out of many.
Why? There are near-infinite possible settings among the set of "campaigns with dwarves in them", just as there are near-infinite possible characters among the set excluded by "no dwarves".
To turn this around on myself a bit, part of my "fun criteria" is that I don't like Evil campaigns. At all. Maybe you can understand that feeling. Maybe it seems as odd to you as insisting that the campaign have Dwarves in it. I don't know. Simply in terms of the combinatorial heuristic you describe above, my requirement is a lot more "unreasonable" than the "needs dwarves" requirement, in terms of the wide sweep of "options" it goes against as far as storyline goes, across the board.
All I know is, whether it's reasonable or unreasonable, I won't enjoy a game that doesn't follow that. So if a DM really, really has an awesome "story" they want to tell where the PCs are orc raiders out to raze and slaughter peaceful human settlements (and he's more like Democratus than Kirth in his opinion of the DM's role) then I'll need to respectfully bow out of that for as long as that campaign runs.
In the end, what it simply comes down to is what requirements the participants (players and GMs equally) are looking for in a game that will make it a fun time for each of them. If you can find an intersection of that set, you can have a fun game. If not, then it may not work out so well for everyone. If there's a split decision, you'd probably go the way that A) makes the most people happy, and B) leaves you with someone willing to DM.
To be honest, I do agree with you that I find it... odd... that someone might find being a Kitsune so crucial to their having fun. But I'm not going to judge them for it; it's just part of that "fun criteria" for them. After all, I have my own sticking points, as I mentioned above, and mine are even more "unreasonable" than theirs (in your combinatorial sense, at least) though on different issues.
Similarly I have just as a hard a time imagining a situation where I wouldn't tweak my story to allow Kitsune if I thought it really would seriously decrease my players' enjoyment of the game not to have one. Even if I don't share his particular view on what makes a character fun.
Hence why (as I said) I find the idea of getting a stick up my rear on either side of the issue is just about equally peculiar, in my mind.
And you still somehow think "I can only play a dwarf" is a reasonable position?
Whether it's reasonable or not is a somewhat subjective question, but at the very least I don't consider there to be a particular difference in reasonability between the player absolutely saying "I can only play a dwarf" versus the GM absolutely saying "I can only run a campaign if it doesn't have dwarves in it." The latter seems just as odd (to the extent that it is odd) an opinion to me as the former.
As I mentioned before, I agree there is a caveat if the campaign setting is a continuing, pre-existing one from previous sessions, and the GM didn't want to contradict what had already been established to the players. That's indeed a different situation.
But for fresh, from-scratch-for-this-group campaigns (which are the only ones I've ever played, myself) that particular caveat doesn't apply.
Yeah, it is, indeed, a bit off-track. Still, I thought it was worth mentioning, just because I think a lot of times, both issues can sometimes come from the same sort of place, born out of the same basic thought process toward what, fundamentally, a GM is and does.
To elaborate, if a GM is so flatly committed to his artistic vision that he absolutely can't tolerate fitting in, say, Kitsune in his world because he says he "has a story he is passionate about telling", and he didn't envision Kitsune as part of that story, that suggests at least some degree of an attitude toward the game as... well, like our GM says himself. A story. More to the point, his story.
As such, I thought I'd just throw out the idea that that approach may not actually be the best way to look at the GM's role in the first place--even speaking on a more fundamental level than just the specific case manifested in this thread. That's how I've found it to be in my personal experience, at least.
knowing that the DM has a story he is passionate about telling
This is, I think, one of the disconnects in approach, and an attitude that I've tried my best to expunge from my GMing style. I'm also a writer, so it's a difficult temptation to resist, and I've often times fallen to it, but I constantly try to remind myself when I DM that this game is not my fantasy novel. I'm not trying to "tell a good story" of my design or imagination, I'm trying to adjudicate a world for the players to experience and interact with, hopefully in ways that are fun for them.
We've had games (though I wasn't GMing this one) where the players have used the mechanics of a puzzle in an unexpected way to trap demons intended to be the main final bosses of a section in ways that would be horrible anti-climaxes had the GM been viewing it as a "story" and trying to make it good on those terms. But they were awesome to us, because we weren't viewing it as a story arc, we were playing those characters as us, and it was an awesome reward for quick thinking on the part of the guy who came up with it that we could own them like that.
It's that attitude of being passionate about telling the story that the DM has which does, indeed, lead to those sorts of "my way or the highway" decisions. It has to lead to that, or the players will generally run roughshod over "his" story given the slightest opening, and in far, far worse ways than playing as a Kitsune in a story that didn't have them in the original version.
Myself, I've abandoned that whole approach of "having a story I'm passionate about telling" as being actually inhibitory to the players fun overall. I just present them with obstacles, challenges, threats, lots of juicy imminent doooooom and the like, and they make their story, such as it is, in how they decide to handle them.
Being "passionate" about my idea of "what the story is" actually tends to make me hold tighter to how I think things "ought" to go, which is generally a bad thing in DMing, or so I've come to believe.
It takes a whole lot more effort for the GM to modify to accommodate a single player's preferences than it does for that one player to adapt to the GM's. Just my POV anyhow.
That's been almost the exact opposite of my experience. When I GMed in a GURPS game for my group, I had a homebrew setting of my own. Fairly standard medieval fantasy; not total Tolkienesque as your example, but it was definitely themed along those general lines.
One of my players said he wanted to play a hand to hand kung-fu style martial artist who could morph into a beast form. Think Synthesist Summoner crossed with Monk.
Completely had no place in the setting (as it was written then) but the other players were cool with it, and I worked it in, integrated the resultant monastery system into the cosmology of spirits I had planned out, decided where it had come from, and when I was done, the setting was actually a lot stronger for the exercise.
Wasn't particularly difficult or time-consuming in the larger scheme of things. Not compared to GM duties overall, certainly.
That's why I just... kind of cock my head when I hear people rage about how adding in the existence of something like Kitsune in their homebrew world would be such a horrific addition to their world-building burden as GMs, or how it would taint the visionary masterpiece of a world that they've meticulously created for their players' enjoyment. Because I've GMed, I've done more or less that... and in my experience, it... just isn't that bad. Just as long as I get player input early on, float any big restrictions early to see how they go over, and try not to be too uptight about the world I've created.
Oh, and as for Kirth's survey:
1) Somewhere between B and C. In a group hanging around six-ish, three people have GMed so far, and at least one more is probably going to take a shot soon, maybe two.
2) B is probably the closest. Honestly, it's not anything formal, we just talk it over and come to a general agreement on what sort of campaign we want to run next, and who's going to run it. There's plenty of back-and-forth, sometimes pushback, in both directions, from player to GM and vice versa, and it usually settles out to something fun.
Your own quote disproves your point. Weapon Finesse applies to normal Unarmed Strike, even unmodified by IUS. Even a normal unarmed strike, unmodified by any other feat at all, even in a non-Monk, can use Weapon Finesse to hit, though they still eat an AoO since it doesn't count as being specifically "armed", which is the key distinction.
Thus, if you actually use Unarmed Strike to grapple, then "normally" has nothing to do with it. Any character with Weapon Finesse could always apply their DEX bonus to grapple, every time.
Keep in mind that ripping a weapon out of someones hands counts as using their fists for disarm checks.
If you use Improved Unarmed Strike to do a disarm, then you're striking the weapon out of their hands with a blow, using the "You are considered to be armed" clause in the feat, treating the unarmed strike as a Light Weapon.
If you are using IUS, though, you also wouldn't take the -4 penalty to an unarmed disarm checks (since, after all, the feat specifically says "You are considered to be armed") nor would you get the benefit of ending up with the weapon in your hands (for the same reason). IUS disarms makes it considered as an "armed disarm".
If you want to "rip a weapon out of someones hands" then that's a grab instead of a strike. Just like a grapple is a grab and not a strike.
Which is exactly why, as others have mentioned, the weapon focus is different between grapple and IUS. They're not the same thing.
Explain how do I not use my fists, elbows, keens, and feet to grapple.
You're stretching your equivocation too far. You use your fists to IUS, and you can use IUS to disarm. That doesn't mean you use IUS to grapple, even if you used your fists to grapple. (Not to mention the minor detail that grabbing someone doesn't actually involve your fist in any serious way. It's a palm-finger-grab thing. Fists are for, again, strikes. As in, "Improved Unarmed Strike".)
Speaker for the Dead wrote:
I would argue that light levels are relative. From the point of view of an adversary with darkvision, are shadows even relevant?
Heh. I bet vampires wish it worked that way. "I'm closing my eyes, so relatively speaking I'm in pitch blackness. So this sunlight shouldn't be burning me at all!"
The ability says "As long as she is within 10 feet of an area of dim light, a shadowdancer can hide herself from view". It doesn't say "As long as she is concealed by dim light she can hide from view". In fact, even a cursory read should reveal the obvious fact that they're not hiding in the shadow, since they explicitly don't need to be in the shadow at all. The shadowdancer can be standing in broad daylight, in front of someone, with no shadow between them, but as long as there's dimmness 10 feet off, even to one side of them, they have fulfilled the conditions required to allow the activation of their ability.
In our current (about to go into hiatus) campaign it's just core races (we started out core-only, and added books in as the GM started to feel more comfortable). But now, in our next campaign, we haven't even decided on classes yet... but for races, we're tossing around the idea of doing something like: Ifrit, Oread, Slyph, Undine, Aasimar.
Not for mechanical advantages, or because we want to use character stereotypes in our RP, or because we want to be "special snowflakes" from each other... but because we thought it would be cool to do a "themed" group where the overall story-concept is the whole "bringing together all the elements" sort of thing.
And maaaaaaybe even asking the GM if we can have a special, extra-powerful summon spell that, instead of one person taking a 1-round action, only works when we all take 1-round actions at the same time to pull it off.
Summoned Creature: "By your powers combined..."
...yeah, this one's looking to be a much less serious campaign than our current one.
Thymus Vulgaris wrote:
Yes, this is all cultural—it's the culture of the race. Goblins thinking reading is evil is also cultural.
And actually, even that doesn't cover the whole scope of things, because it's not all cultural; some of the stuff really, truly is baked into the race.
Goblins... holy crap, they're cannibals practically from birth. Tieflings, completely irrespective of what culture they're raised in, have a pull to evil that has nothing to do with the culture, because they really do have a mystical whammy working against them that inherently tries to drag them down into evil.
That's not just "cultural", it's something "in the blood", and it'll hit the character even if they're completely raised in the idyllic town of Niceville. And if you want to play someone with a good upbringing struggling against an inherent evil that's truly, honestly "in their blood"... well, that just isn't really something that just playing around with a normal human character's starting culture will let you play.
If I ready an action to cast silence when I notice spellcasting and I target the area instead of the caster do the lose the spell they were about to cast if it has a verbal component or can they change their action to something else?
Well, you couldn't do this in the first place, because Silence is a 1-round action. You'd have to do something like cast it on an object, and then ready an action to throw the object if you wanted to even attempt it.
I wouldn't allow them to decide to not cast after getting hit by the spell, since you can't make that decision after taking damage after provoking an AoO, or getting targeted by a normal counterspell, etc. And Reflex save to move out of the radius is not, indeed, RAW.
I think they do just lose the spell if you can successfully land it.
Crazed, violent and intrinsically drawn to fire is part of the baseline goblin attributes (for Golarion goblins). It doesn't say anything about where they player takes the goblin from there, whether they follow their nature or try and resist it, and to what degree, or whether that set of characteristics is the limit of their characterization or not. Just that you get to operate from a different fundamental starting point regarding where you take your characterization from.
You seem to be under the odd impression that (to use a different example) playing a dhampir as having a fascination with blood (instead of fire) and having their own type of innate tendency toward evil, would mean you're playing an "Easy Stereotype". It's not a stereotype. It's the baseline of their nature, the physiology/psychology interaction of how their race's bodies work. You could play a dhampir who revels in his bloodlust and the pull toward evil, or one who rejects it utterly and struggles to be good instead and entirely deny his bloodlust while still RPing the temptations, or one who doesn't see anything wrong with indulging his bloodlust as long as he doesn't kill anyone and it's all consensual, and a thousand different shades in between.
Similarly, Skeletal Steve's post about the fundamentally different approaches his two goblin characters took to responding to their natures and innate drives shows how differently players can react to the canvas that the goblin innate drives present them with.
And the best part is, even when the PCs completely do embrace those four factors outlined above, without reservation, that fact alone still gives you no justification whatsoever to sneer down your nose about them doing "easy" stereotypes. As though it were somehow impossible to create a fleshed out, interesting and unique character who still fully embraces those particular goblin biological imperatives? You can be rabid, demented 6 year old who loves fire, and still have characterization beyond that, or even within that.
Say you're a goblin alchemist, whose overriding, life-long goal is to produce the greatest firework ever made. You try and you try, but you're just not satisfied. It's not big enough! There's not enough fire! It keeps you up at nights, tossing and turning... until at last it drives you to the ultimate heresy. You would be set upon by all your kin if you knew, but your need to create the ultimate firework is too great. You must increase your knowledge. Your work demands it! You must find out how to make it bigger, even if it means using the most horrible, unspeakable methods to find out how. Even if it means...
...learning how to read.
tl;dr: Get off your high horse, and stop assuming that just because someone wants to play a race with different baseline psychological natures than humans that must mean they're just wanting to play "easy" stereotypes. Having different starting parameters does not in any way mean those differences are the only thing your character has, with no further depth or thought given to them as persons beyond those base aspects.
This WOULD still be easy to do with humans... YES it would! How? Well the magic of an all race group like Goblins for one example is the us vs them role play of moving through a world that is dominated by other races not yours. So to make it work with Humans you just need to make all the main civilizations non-human. Imagine a world where Hobgoblins are dominant allied with Orcs and Kobolds to form a broad humanoid set of kingdoms where little tribes of hunted humans are the distinct minority.
...yeah. So what happens when the players aren't as satisfied by only getting that one fragment of the experience of "playing goblins" as you think they ought to be?
It's not enough to say "here's a way to kinda-sorta get one aspect of the experience of playing goblins as a human, and I decree that it ought to satisfy you. And if just that much doesn't satisfy you, I'll make disparaging allusions about 'easy' stereotypes in your RP style to try and discredit those things you are looking to experience in this fantasy game."
Zorajit Zorajit wrote:
You're worried about not having a "baseline character" for the narrative for the "odd" characters to be measured against. The sort of role played by the (ironically, non-human) hobbits in LotR, or the token human in other shows. It's an understandable worry, I guess, but if you really, really feel its necessary, is it even required for that role to be filled a PC?
If you really feel you need a normal guy in the story (and there's little enough natural inclination among the party you're having to pressure one of them to try and get it filled) then why not work in a reason for "Norman the Normal Commoner, Dirt Farmer NPC Extrordinaire" or something like that to accompany the party? He can ooh and ahh and express shock at the appropriate times at all the non-normal weirdness, and the role you want filled is filled perfectly. Even more perfectly than with a PC might, since you'd be the one in control of him, and you can make him exactly as normal as you need to fulfill the narrative requirement that you (unlike your players, apparently) feel the need to meet.
"If you want something done right..."
An all Goblin group is one of the very few exceptions to the three type rule. By making everyone Goblins the GM has in effect made them the humans of his game and removed two and in some cases even three of the main reasons to play an unusual race.
But, but, but! To channel my inner humans-are-all-you-need advocate, "if all they're doing is just making goblins the humans of the game, then why didn't they just use humans for that purpose to begin with?"
Well, I'll also answer my inner humans-are-all-you-need advocate's question, because it's an obvious answer. Because it wouldn't work. How do you roleplay, with only human characters, creatures who are part of an established society, continuing through multiple generations, where the communal mentality is consistently that of a 6 year old human (and a rabid, demented, pyromaniac 6 year old human at that) but the physical capacity is still enough to be a threat to fully grown humans? Playing as a human would not plausibly allow them the kind of character, or the kind of experience, that they wanted when they asked the GM to run an all-goblin campaign.
So then, my question then becomes, if you have PCs asking the GM to run an all-goblin AP really does form an "exception" to this supposed rule...
...then why would you ever assume, if one of those players later on asked to be a goblin naturally in a mixed party, that they now had to be doing it according to that rule? As opposed to the same reasons they thought running an all-goblin AP would be fun to do? Why are the alternate reasons suddenly not plausible options anymore?
I don't think that players asking to play an all-goblin party is an "exception" to an overarching rule. I think it's a demonstration that there can be more going on in players' race choice than such a rule would suggest.
I think you are missing my point. The "elf" outliving lover role can be played by a human. There's a reason humans connect with the character. And the same story COULD be told with a human. The 18 year-old PC is in love with a 65 year-old human. She has to choose what to do. And her decision may not be socially acceptable among her family. Yes, a human can play the role.
And this supposed 18 year old knows she will also outlive her children as well? And her children's children? I think you're forgetting just how dire Arwen's situation really was, choosing to live with the humans over the elves.
Saying that fantastic races are superfluous because humans can provide "kinda-sorta" the same themes, in a much weaker sort of way (with pets, and maybe single people if you stretch things) is the same sort of argument as claiming that sci-fi/fantasy on the whole is a superfluous genre since we can cover, in broad terms, the same general themes in modern-day fiction. And both arguments are wrong. Making the character an elf (or other fantastical elements) allows you to examine situations and extremes that you just can't do with a normal human, and the breadth of our fictional experience would be far, far poorer without those kind of approaches in our literary repertoire.
The goblins, there's a reason we think they are sometimes funny and end up doing unintentionally funny things even though they don't mean them to be. And they are often played for comedic effect. We can relate to them. They are buffoonery. It's akin to making a comedy segment out of the keystone cops. The role of goblins can be played by humans. Just change the window dressing.
Aaaand once again, you managed to conveniently ignore the exceedingly simple question I was actually asking with the goblin example.
You claimed that--and I'm quoting you here: "a desire to play an 'exotic' race must either be motivated by a human desire to 'stand out' and be 'unique' among a gaming group, or to optimize. Because from a role-playing perspective, all can be achieved with human"
Are you admitting that what you claimed isn't actually true?
If you are not admitting that, then which of those two groups do players who like to run all-goblin parties fall under? Which one? First or second? A or B? We're talking a one word answer here!
This ought to be an utterly simple question for you to answer. (Or at least, it would be simple if the false dichotomy you're trying to draw actually covered the reality of people's actual motives.)