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Saithor wrote:

Your assuming Pathfinder even pretends to be realistic. Which it really isn't. And I don't want Saitama, and the examples I've given (Paths of Wars, Dark Souls humanoid enemies) are nowhere near Saitama. I already posted some examples of maneuvers from Paths of War, and none of them are OP compared to a caster's spells of that level. I'm not even arguing that Martials should be able to create demi-planes and so on, just be as good if not better than the wizard at the job they were supposedly designed for.

Also, the Balor takes ten hits to kill from terminal velocity. My question to you is, how many hits can a Fighter kill it in? Assuming no friendly buffs from the Wizard?

Well, if you don't want Saitama, or even the Naruto-level "rearange the countryside with your punches" sort of craziness, then I probably don't disagree with you. I also think that the Fighter could use some buffing, as I mentioned in that post myself. I only disliked how people were jumping on The Sword for wanting to play a level 20 character that didn't have all the crazy powers that were being claimed as part and parcel of that level of play.

As for how many strikes it would take the Fighter... well, I'm not a Fighter expert, so I'd have to defer to those who know that class better than me if you want a really optimized answer, but supposedly there was a Fighter build up-thread that could do it in one hit. I didn't look too closely, so take that for what it's worth. 200HP per round was also thrown out as a benchmark, IIRC. *shrug*

Sundakan wrote:

This entire post falls apart when you realize that terminal velocity is not that significant of a speed or force. It's roughly 122 MPH. A bullet moves much faster. An ARROW achieves almost precisely double that velocity, at the low end.

The arrow is also going to have a higher force output than even a "fall" of the same speed, because the fall is going to spread damage equally over the entire surface area of the impacting and impacted objects, where the arrow compresses all of that force to a single, much smaller point.

Yes? I'm not sure I follow what your objection is. I didn't mean to say that the fall and the arrow had the same speeed, and certainly the surface area aspect gives an arrow or a blade an advantage in penetration and getting to internals for more effective damage to a creature. That advantage doesn't make the point of the post fall apart, it makes it stronger, since the force compression allows for greater damage efficiency on the part of the Fighter.

The fact that terminal velocity is, as you say, "not that significant of a force" is exactly the point. The point is: "if a CR20 Balor can be substantially harmed by 'merely' hitting the ground at 122 MPH, then why would we insist that a Fighter needs to have "devastate the ecology with his weapon strikes" levels of power in order to fight it, or other CR20 foes?

The Fighter needs to be strong, but he doesn't need to be that strong, not by a long shot.


You know, with all the people talking about how high level Pathfinder play should only ever be Saitama-esque dudes with flashy, planet-shaking superpowers, it got me thinking: a few pages back, we in the M/CD crowd kept on crowing about how--looking at how hitpoints scale--a high level Fighter could easily survive a terminal velocity fall. In fact, we kept harping on the math on that over and over to make our point (me included).

Well, IMHO, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Let's throw a Balor out of an airplane.

(After hitting him with Hold Monster and Dimensional Anchor, of course. Wouldn't want the subject messing up the experiment by trying to run away.)

20d6 averages to 75 damage. Take off 15 for his DR, leaves us with somewhere in the neighborhood 50 to his actual hitpoints shaved off for a given fall. So hey, he certainly survived, right?

Right, but it was absolutely a noticeable hit. That's over 10% of his max HP gone. Seven or eight more hits with that level of force, and this Balor is going to be in serious trouble. Which means that if your character is killing a Balor in one or two rounds of full attacks, then you've got about a (vaguely) rough parity going on in terms of the damage delivered by the individual blows to the individual falls.

So to those of you who are getting on The Sword's case for having the temerity to want to play to level 20 without his characters' strikes necessarily being able to wreck the local ecology, or other crazy stuff like that, my question would be this: about how many ecological disasters can you name that have been caused by the sheer kinetic force of someone falling out of an airplane at terminal velocity?

'Cause really, that's (very roughly speaking) all the kinetic force you need behind your individual blows to kill a CR20 threat like that in fairly short order.

Meanwhile, the attacks of the likes of Saitama eclipse that benchmark so utterly it isn't even a comparison. If a character whose strikes have a force that operates on a planetary scale like him goes up against a character who can be substantially harmed by the fall from an airplane, the former should be able to turn the latter into a faint red mist with more or less a flick of their finger.

That said, yes, the fact that a Pathfinder fighter can hit on the terminal velocity scale of imparted force is still incredibly superhuman; I haven't changed my mind on that. But you certainly don't need continent-shattering punches, or any techniques that go "swing your sword so fast it does magical effects that we're going to say toooootally aren't magical, wink-wink-nudge-nudge" to contribute against foes of that level.

If someone wants to play a character whose concept is "I did enough pushups that my individual strikes do comparable damage to a terminal velocity fall, but aside from that superhuman hitting power and damage resistance there's nothing flashy or supernatural about me personally"... well, I certainly think it's not "the most optimal build", and there's almost certainly going to be a notable level of disparity between what you can do and what a caster can do, but if you can beat the Balor's initiative and chew off a few hundred of his HP with your arrows all on your own, that's not too shabby in my book either. If that's the playstyle someone wants...

...well, I'm glad we still have a class that can accommodate that. Even if I'd personally like it to be a little stronger even within that setup.


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The Sword wrote:
You might wonder why I'm still arguing my point when clearly outnumbered. I know there are others out there who feel the same way. I think both sides need to be represented.

For what it's worth, even though I typically tend to argue on the side of the M/CD being a real problem that ought to be addressed, I nevertheless do hear you on what you're saying, and I appreciate you taking the time to represent those points despite all the crossfire you're getting in reply. I think you make your case well, and (despite my personal belief that the Fighter could use some "Unchaining") I think I agree with you more than I disagree.

I do agree that one class doesn't need to be able to handle everything the game can throw at a party, and (given that there's obviously a segment of the player base that enjoys it) I think it's worth keeping around classes with more narrow scopes that focus on mainly bashing things in the face with weapons and not worrying about too much else.

The party might need a way to do things like "stop enemy casters from teleporting away"... but the Fighter doesn't necessarily need to be the one that worries about that, any more than he needs to be the one that provides the ability to heal negative levels to the party. I don't think there needs to be a fundamental expansion of the "kind of role the fighter plays" or the "kind of things they bring to the table" for the class to be workable.

And I very much agree that, to the extent that any changes are made to the Fighter, in keeping with its theme they should be "non-flashy" ones. Even though I contend that a high-level Fighter is definitely superhuman and should absolutely be treated as such, it's still an earthy, mundane-feeling sort of superhuman. I have no particular desire to turn the Fighter into something that invokes flashy, kewl-looking effects, or wrecks continents with their blows, and I don't think that's in any way necessary in Pathfinder.

Like I said before, for me, in practical terms, 90% of what I'd want in an Unchained Fighter could be summed up with "better saves, better skills, and some way to get pounce". And those are all still pretty mundane, non-flashy sorts of things, IMHO.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
The only reason the aforementioned spells lack the destructive force of their themes is a deliberate act from the game designers to protect the setting and make no sense.

Wait. So... let me make sure I'm understanding you correctly. Are you saying that the root cause of this balance argument of why we (supposedly) absolutely positively need to buff martials to Saitama levels is because you first buffed your casters orders of magnitude beyond what Paizo's RAW has them at... so that what they can do would be consistent with the spells' names?

I... well... yes, I can see why you'd have an especially serious case of martial-caster disparity in your games, if that's what you're doing. But--just IMHO--that's not a very good standard to argue for a general redesign of the game's power tiers around.

In most every game I've ever played in, we actually run the spells by RAW. And if a series of 40' explosions aren't typically what we think of as a "Meteor Swarm", we don't houserule a completely different powerlevel to make it consistent with the name. We just assume that whatver ancient Golarion mage first came up with the spell had a flair for the bombastic in his naming sense, and it stuck. But that regardless of the name, the spell does exactly what it actualy says it does, no more, no less.

So no, our casters are not causing extinction-level events every time they cast Meteor Swarm, they're at most making 40' radius craters in the landscape. Which is still pretty dang powerful... but nowhere even remotely close to even being on Saitama's radar screen, much less a threat to someone like him.

And frankly, I don't think I'd even want to play in that kind of system. "Oh, sure, you've got this really cool ninth level spell. And you can even cast it! So long as you don't mind killing everyone on this particular hemisphere of the planet." As you said yourself: ecological/geological devastation.

No thanks, not interested. I much prefer Pathfinder's actual power level.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
By the 5th Tier her mobility and physical power are immense, flying to the opposite end of the world should take less than an hour. Were she to truly do battle to her utmost limit with enemies of equal power, the ecology would be devastated... if the geology survived.

Actually, could you elaborate on this a bit? Not just on this in particular, but more in general on how you've several times now talked about the need to boost martials up to this kind of level, to balance the fact that casters "don't need a single mythic rank to do god status stuff".

Now, I know that the martial/caster disparity exists. I've seen it in action. But I can't help but feel that this is still overstating the extent for straight-up Pathfinder casters. What exactly can Pathfinder casters do that's comparable, RAW, that could induce devastation on a geological scale?

(I mean, Tsunami can wreck a 200' x 150' area, and Meteor Swarm can give you four 40' radius explosions. Earthquake gets you out to 80', and I do vaguely recall a couple more less prominent spells that managed to have effects in the kilometer or greater range, although the names are escaping me at the moment. But even that is pretty small potatoes stacked up against the scale of "wreck the world's ecological system" levels of power that I know Saitama operates under, and it seems these new martial approaches do as well.)


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DrDeth wrote:
There are like 35 classes in Pathfinder. THIRTYFIVE!! Some few people really want a 100% "mundane class".

If it's "mundane" in the sense of "not supernatural", then I agree. In fact, I already said exactly that upthread. I don't think we need to give the Fighter out-and-out magic abilities. I don't think the themes of the Fighter necessarily need to go beyond what can more or less be encompassed in the themes of "really strong" and "really tough" and "really, really good with weapons".

DrDeth wrote:
So, if there is a "Mad Martigan 'till 20 crowd" then let them have their one class. Why not?

The Fighter--right now, in its current form!--is not actually a "Mad Martigan 'till 20" class. That's the point that this whole last page has showcased in excruciating detail.

To reiterate: Mad Martigan cannot jump out of a high-flying airplane, hit ground at terminal velocity, then pick himself up and then immediately wrestle a nearby rhino to the ground and pin it, and/or literally beat the rhino to death with his bare hands.

This in the natural result of trying to make the Fighter anything even resembling a threat to the kind of foes you see at CR20. Aragorn couldn't go toe-to-toe with a Balrog. He wasn't even remotely in the Balrog's league. If you're a level of being that has attained enough martial might to fight a Balrog on anything resembling even footing then the character you're playing doesn't much resemble Aragorn anymore.

That's the point of the article. That's the fundamental cognitive dissonance. We want level 20 Fighters that can fight Balrogs, but simultaneously can't do anything that completely transcends what Aragorn could do. The problem is that fighting a Balrog itself completely transcends what Aragorn could do.

I'm not saying "we should change the one 'Mad Martigan 'till 20' class to not be that anymore". I'm saying "we should admit that the Fighter isn't even a 'Mad Martigan 'till 20' class in the first place and stop trying to pretend it is."

Again, just to re-emphasize, I fully agree that we should keep the Fighter's abilities as not inherently supernatural. But at the same time, we should also admit that the (natural!) abilities of a high level fighter include a level of martial prowess that is extremely superhuman (by the standards of our world) and not try to shy away from that.


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HWalsh wrote:

Uh no.

Level 20 isn't "hit a Rhino so hard he explodes."

It is, "Expertly stab it in a vital location and kill it in a single stroke."

For Rogues relying on Sneak Attack to hurt their foe, sure. I mean, "strike a vital spot for extra damage" is exactly the description for how Sneak Attack works. If it were how the Fighter was getting all that extra damage too, then it would A) be precision damage, and B) fall off just as badly as the Rogue's damage does when going up against something homogeneous like an ooze that literally, specifically does not have any such "vital spot" to target.

But it doesn't, because it isn't.

Heck, let's take the whole "vital spot" question off the table entirely. A level 20 Fighter can also stroll right up to a Rhino and, without any assistance, wrestle it bodily to the ground and pin it there, with basically no difficulty at all. Like, literally only fail on a natural 1. Is that something you'd call "still within human capability"?

HWalsh wrote:
Why mess with something that, by all rights, you obviously hate when you have options that are viable enough.

I don't hate fighters. I've played them, enjoyed them. Heck, I probably want less changes to them than some of the people on this thread do.

I'm fine with them being predominately a class focused on "killing/maiming in not-terribly-flashy ways by hitting enemies with their weapons". I'm not arguing for sword beams or air-pressure punches or magical chi blasts. I mean... if it were hypothetically up to me, I'd increase their mundane capacity: give them better saves, better skills, maybe feats that allowed them to do cooler mundane things, eventual access to pounce or something like it in a straightforward way, etc. But I don't particularly want them to be "punching holes in reality".

(And yes, I have heard that some of the paperbacks give options to help with some of what I mentioned. Which is cool, and appreciated, though it's not exactly intuitive for newbies, like some players in my group. In order to call it a "good class" I'd want those fundamental sorts of things to be available in a more "out of the box" sort of way, not a "scour the splatbooks for the secret option" sort of way.)

Anyway, I'm getting off track. That's all to say that I agree with them being non-magical. But I just think they're inescapably superhuman. They already are just plain stronger, more resilient, more durable than anything in our world could even come remotely close to.

And what really bugs me--more than anything else--is when even the things that martials do have already get nerfed or complained about in the name of "realism". Like when people complain about or fiat away the rules on how high level characters are able to do things like survive terminal velocity falls, or (to go back to the example the Frank Trollman article gave) trivially kill a rhino with their bare hands.

That's how I see Fighters, as "being able to do the things that the game allows them to do". And I wish we'd lean into that paradigm in a cohesive manner, rather than trying to keep one foot in that world, and one foot in the still-just-Mad-Martigan world.


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Arbane the Terrible wrote:
Some guy named Frank Trollman (who's written a lot of homebrew stuff for D&D 3.5 on just this topic) said this:

Wow, that's brilliantly put, and encapsulates the inherent cognitive dissonance so well. Particularly so, since the things that the "Mad Martigan 'till 20" crowd want to preserve are... honestly, already lost in the current system when you really look at it. Just... without the actual balance to show for it.

If you play to 20, even in the current system you're no longer playing anything resembling Mad Martigan. Mad Martigan cannot hit a Rhinoceros so hard that it invokes the "chunky-salsa rule" from sheer damage and explodes, after the Rhino spends several rounds futilely trying and utterly failing to do the slightest bit of damage to him as he just stands there. (Much like that first Saitama clip, actually.) kyrt-rider is exactly right. It's a level question, not a class question.

So as long as that's the case, as long as Level 20 means that you're a full-out ludicrous superhuman who is supposed to be able to go toe-to-toe with Balrogs Balors that Aragorn couldn't remotely hold a candle to, then let's at least own that, and lean into the kind of Figher that actually, thematically entails in a way that's consistent across the board, rather than the current approach of "make Aragorn's capabilities our thematic benchmark... eeeeexcept for a handful of raw numbers that blow it out of the water anyway, but without which we couldn't even pretend that it's balanced".

If you really, truly do want to play an actual Mad Martigan or Aragorn through a whole campaign, an E6 campaign is a perfectly viable way to do so. But let's not limit level 20 by trying to have a foot in both worlds, providing a "realism" it--even now--doesn't actually provide.


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My experience with Shield Slam has been pretty positive. Used it on a enemy NPC I threw at the party's Paladin. The Paladin had a habit of splattering most things in one round thanks to Mythic Vital Strike, and I wanted an opponent that could give him a bit more of an actual "duel".

So I worked up a comparable-level Barbarian who combined Shield Slam with the "Come and Get Me" rage power, such that he could use the Shield Bash on the attacks of opportunity that were triggered by his opponent trying to whack him. The AoO would, of course, not get any of the iterative penalties, and he could smack away melee attackers into a position where they couldn't reach him any more once the AoO was resolved. Then he'd follow that up with a pounce and pound on the enemy in close quarters, then bash him away again when his opponent tried to retaliate.

Seemed to work pretty well; by the time the Paladin realized that his best bet was to go for his backup reach weapon in order to effectively attack, he was already in a pretty tight spot damage-wise, and he actually got KOed, though the rest of the party was able to turn the overall encounter around and rescue him.


Jader7777 wrote:
So like how a werewolf has DR silver that makes it's wounds close from mundane weapons, so to does Cthulhu's wounds close when rammed by boats. His body is some weird incorporeal-like thing.

That description doesn't sound even remotely like DR to me. A hit that's fully absorbed by DR has no effect on the character's actions in combat; if you flavor it as some kind of limited recovery/healing, it's healing so fast the wound might as well not have happened in the first place.

In the very section you quoted, the boat hit Cthulhu so hard that the creature was actually physically "scattered". And when Johansen looked back, the "recombining" process was still going on, taking long enough that Cthulhu was unable to catch up to them.

That's not like hitting a werewolf not hard enough to punch through it's DR; that's like hitting a troll hard enough to chunky-salsa its body, only to have its Regeneration kick in because you didn't have the countering substance required to keep it down.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
A martial guy should be able to do that with mooks, sure. With equal-CR martial combatants, 50/50 -- he dies or they do. And you can hit that benchmark with a reasonable PB. But that's not all he should be able to do, so that he pretty much has to sit out any encounters that don't involve a mundane opponent walking up to him and offering to trade blows Queensberry-style.

So I still don't understand enough of what you mean by "competent" to tell if I even disagree with you or not.

Because if by "competent" you mean the benchmarks above, and by "reasonable" you mean the 25 PB you were saying earlier was "barely enough" to make a "competent" martial, then in my experience a well built martial can hit around those kind of thresholds with way less than 25 PB.

Conversely, if all you're saying is just "the martial-caster disparity is a thing that exists", then... sure, whatever. If someone with decent system mastery builds a caster designed to overshadow the martials, then yeah, the caster will probably be able to do it. I agree that's a legit issue that can be talked about. (Though preferably not in this thread, since it's not terribly on-topic.)

So if by "competent" you mean "can contribute effectively--without relying on help from party members--in a situation designed to push a well-optimized non-support full-caster to their uttermost limits, along all axes" then I could understand that. No serious disagreement.

But for me, if you can take a class/PB combination into a module and have it contribute meaningfully to a majority of the encounters therein, it meets the base standard of being at least what I would consider "competent".

And I have absolutely seen martials do that on less than 25 PB, so I don't see how it's necessary to being "competent" in that sense.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Point buy is a tool of the magocracy. As noted upthread, 15 PB is more than enough to make your wizard or cleric into a god, whereas 25 PB is barely enough to make a competent martial. The problem isn't with the number of points; it lies in the martial/caster discrepancy that's built into nearly every aspect of the game from the ground up.

What do you mean by "competent"?

Is "competent" for a martial supposed to mean "has a somewhat comparable breadth of narrative options to a caster"?

Or is "can solo a CR appropriate encounter in a hail of arrows or raging pounce(s)" enough to qualify as at least "competent" for the purposes of this evaluation?


Bandw2 wrote:

the fact that the side saying it's not a good idea, focus solely on character traits is the point, what if they're not character traits? what if they're simply human traits?

this all falls apart when you don't focus on someone say getting a will save to skim from the register, and it moves onto a will save to win a staring contest.

can I for the maximum greyest area possible, force a will save or fall in genuine love at first sight? I mean, it's usually argued that you don't get to choose to fall in love. Yet, i willing to bet that this is a no-no to most people.

"Falling in love" is NOT a universally human trait in the same way the blink reflex is. Asexual people are a thing that exists. You're saying players should not be allowed to play them?

What's more, the characteristics that cause someone to fall in love are even less generically human. If the GM is allowed to just decide based on a Will save that you fell for someone, you might end up falling head over heels for the tall, busty tavern maid when you personally see your character concept as being attracted to short, shy, intellectual men, and that tall, busty tavern maids don't tempt him in the slightest. Or vice versa.

In other words, no, I don't consider it a "gray area" in the slightest.


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Tacticslion wrote:
The problem with Cthulu's statblock is that his immortality explicitly notes that he fades away to "his tomb in R'lyeh" until he's released again. But what if some form of trap to damage or harm him is placed in his tomb? Or what if his tomb is destroyed? The fluff text notes that he's bound there (and it's fortunate), but that negates the text of his immortality entry, and there's really no backup text to indicate what happens. Probably intended to be implied that he can't be beaten down permanently anymore, but rules-wise, without a R'lyeh, his essence goes to R'lyeh... which is nowhere. He'll never be released from the tomb, because it doesn't exist. He's gone for good.

Personally, I'd probably go at it from the opposite direction were I GMing such a clash. Treat R'lyeh itself as more or less an enormous artifact, complete with an artifact's quirk of "only one way to destroy it". That method being, in this case, to permakill Cthulhu.

If I were going to explore that angle, I might let that be accomplished by killing him in the actual heart of R'lyeh itself, after he's already where he's been sent back to. Or maybe something more involved, depending on the needs of the campaign.


Swarms, incorporeal creatures, and certain kinds of regeneration can all completely shut down an unprepared party, with little chance of a workaround.

Of course, depending on how the regeneration is canceled you can obtain counters at early levels if you're thinking ahead and are willing to shell out the gold. Swarms can be similar, depending on where you fall on the whole "splash weapons against swarms" debate.

Still, they can both technically still serve that sort of "gateway" function, even if its a gateway you can go through fairly early (so long as you're experienced enough to know how important it is to prepare for).


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Trojan Flumph wrote:
Josh-o-Lantern wrote:
This link covers my entire opinion on the topic
I couldn't agree with this more. If your GM has ever has you combat Cthulhu in any physical way then they have no idea what they are doing.

Even in Lovecraft's own mythos, there are things that would squash Cthulhu like a bug, so if Cthulhu occupies "a place" in a GM's world-narrative, that place needn't be at the very top. And if you're in a world where humans have as much "upward mobility" as Golarion does... well, they can climb a lot higher than the level 1-4 commoners that Lovecraft's world probably mostly contained, and face things that would break those commoners' brains to try to comprehend.

Granted, doing so would mean that, even if such a game incorporates "elements from Lovecraft", its overall genre would not qualify as "Lovecraftian Horror" per se. Okay... so? True, if you tell a story about a bunch of heroes ascending to demigod levels of reality-warping magic and punching the Eldritch Abomination in the face until it runs back to R'yleh with its tail between its legs... then yes, you're not telling a story about a hopeless struggle against existential dread.

But those are hardly the only kind of stories you're "allowed" to tell with Cthulhu, any more than mystery-genre stories are the only kind of stories you're "allowed" to tell with Sherlock Holmes.

If the whole thematic "point" of your plot arc is the contention that humans actually can grow beyond what we thought our limits were yesterday, and stake out a claim even in a big, scary universe that doesn't much care about us... then Cthulhu actually makes perfect sense to use as a final boss, for the exact reason that he's the go-to poster child for the opposing view.

So... maybe it's not the case that those GMs "have no idea what they are doing".

Maybe they're just doing something different.


Tyinyk wrote:
If that's a concern, you'll want to have a team to go with the Tarrasque on his quest to hit level 20, because there's plenty of time to undo the helmet on that journey. The team'll be there to re-up it if they need to.

Oh, sure, I guess I should have made that explicit, but yeah, I'd assumed you'd be watching over it along the way in case some crazed cultist manages to hit level 17 in a full-casting class that has access to Wish or Miracle, and decides to try to free the Big T from your plot.


The Sideromancer wrote:
As mentioned upthread, there are slightly faster ways to remove its immunity to Mind-affecting stuff, but in the time-frame of this plan, it doesn't matter much.

Yeah, I went with that particular approach because my cursory check didn't find much about Ember Weavers on d20pfsrd, which is my main go-to site, and I wasn't quite sure how that fit in with mainline Golarion or what it might entail to get one of those. I figured I'd just stick with an approach that I was familiar with.

Tyinyk wrote:
You could pretty much just stop after step 4, since "The Tarrasque" as an engine of doom is dead, personality-wise.

True, but plot-device level deity powers could doubtless undo the effect of a Helm of Opposite Alignment.

The particular goal with this one was to tackle the "bonus round" of putting the solution to the Tarrasque beyond the power of even Rovagug to undo, should he ever regain his former ability to once again menace Golarion directly (as opposed to through his various proxies).

And undoing the Monk of the Healing Hand's capstone is one of the very few things accessible to mortals that are explicitly stated to be beyond even that level of power.

But yeah, you're absolutely right that for normal in-the-course-of-most-campaigns purposes, you wouldn't need to go nearly so far to effectively end the threat, practically speaking. This was, admittedly, in large part an exercise in support of the most holy Lord British Postulate. ;-)


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Tyinyk wrote:
I was imagining a few hundred people on shift at once, for maximum redundancy. An automated "Body-smasher" seems like it would work, though you'd want to have multiple going on, and a support staff to make sure one breakdown doesn't ruin everything.

Well, if you're only interested in keeping it at bay, and not actually killing it, my favorite method is the old lock-it-in-a-permanent-timeless-null-magic-demiplane-with-no-egress-portal method. That's another situation where you more or less need direct divine intervention to get it out.

Anyway, while almost any mortal means of killing the Tarrasque (or any other living thing in existence) won't stop a deity from bringing it back, there is one single exception that I'm aware of. If the victory conditions isn't "perma-kill the Tarrasque in a way that it stays dead as long as Rovagug doesn't get free from his prison to revive it" but rather "perma-kill the Tarrasque in such a way that it stays dead even if Rovagug breaks free and wants to resurrect it" then I submit the following approach:

Step 1) Beat the Tarrasque into the negatives, and keep it there
Step 2) Create a Simulacrum of Nocticula
Step 3) Keep exposing the Tarrasque to the Simulacrum's Seductive Presence Aura for days until it fails its save, removing its immunity to mind-affecting effects
Step 4) Find a Helm of Opposite Alignment, and put it on and take it off the Tarrasque's head until it rolls a natural one
Step 5) The Tarrasque is now Lawful Good, making it much easier to deal with now that it's benevolent. However, what we really care about is that it's now lawful. Next, hit it with a Geas to become a Level 20 Monk of the Healing Hand
Step 6) Take it to a monastery you scouted ahead of time for its initial training. Then, take it on a whirlwind adventure of power-leveling. You're going to need a LOT of xp, but hey, we never said this would be easy.
Step 7) Once it's level 20, manufacture a fake situation where it looks like your party is losing, and the whole world will be doomed unless you win, prompting the newly benevolent Tarrasque to sacrifice itself using its level 20 capstone to save Golarion.

Congratulations! The Tarrasque is now dead in a way that even if Rovagug did escape from his captivity, he could do nothing about.


Snowlilly wrote:
The possibility of divine intervention is explicitly invoked by the Sphere of Annihilation.

I don't follow what you're trying to say here. The text in no way, shape or form says that there's anything about what the Sphere does to its victims that makes direct divine intervention more likely, or in any way easier. It just notes that it's the only thing that could ever possibly work.

So yes, if Rovagug is both willing and able to directly intervene on Golarion to resurrect the Tarrasque from being sucked into the Sphere, then there's no logical reason I can see why he couldn't use that very same direct divine intervention to thwart any other plan the PCs might bring to bear against the Tarrasque, just as easily.

Or, more likely given Rovagug's temperament, just rip the PCs to tiny shreds before they can implement it, no save.

The fact that he isn't doing things like that--given his observed behavior when he was free--is one of the many indications that he's no longer capable of exerting the kind of direct divine intervention on Golarion.

Which is, once again, the whole point of sealing something like him away in the first place.

Snowlilly wrote:
That the Tarrasque is directly tied to a deity is also explicit in the statblock.

Out of curiosity, where? I looked on this link, but I wasn't able to find it.


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MageHunter wrote:
What if the Tarrasque is a spoiled favorite child?

Then Rovagug becomes especially sad at losing it?

Like I said above, there's no indication or evidence that I'm aware of that Rovagug is even capable of that level of direct, personal divine-scale intervention on Golarion itself while he's sealed away. When you boil it down, that's the whole point of him being sealed away at all: to keep him from adversely affecting the larger creation. Wouldn't be much of a seal if it didn't limit what he could do...

And sure, you can always play the "what if?" game. The GM can always say "what if Rovagug wasn't actually as limited by the seal as the evidence seems to point to him being, and he resurrects the Tarrasque, even though he didn't resurrect Xotani?" But now you've gone way beyond the Big T's actual stat block into straight-up plot device land, and the same thing applies just as equally well to literally anything else the players could come up with.

Witch Generational Eternal Slumber Hex plan? "Oh, but what if Rovagug just uses direct divine intervention to make the Slumber Hex just not work on the Tarrasque?"

Soul Bind approach? "Oh, but what if Rovagug just uses direct divine intervention to make the Soul Bind fail?"

The classic plane shift it to sun? "Oh, but what if Rovagug just uses direct divine intervention to make your plane shift fail?"

Hit it with a sword? "Oh, but what if Rovagug just uses direct divine intervention to make you always miss?"

At that point you're not even talking about "the Tarrasque" anymore, making its actual nature (and statblock) rather irrelevant. It could just as easily be a level 1 commoner that Rovagug (or any other deity) has taken a shine to for whatever "what if" reason.


Tyinyk wrote:
Certainly if you use the Golarion setting. But for people who don't, a sphere of annihilation would work quite well.

Even in the Golarion setting, I think it's extremely unlikely that it would recover from the Sphere. It's not just the "will" of a deity that's required, it's their "direct intervention". And Rovagug's ability to directly intervene (on a deific scale) in Golarion has pretty clearly been compromised by his seal, given how he's not blasting creation with his "direct" power in a rampage similar to his usual MO, and has been reduced to squeezing a new spawn through the keyhole every few hundred years.

There's also the fact that he never intervened via resurrection when, say, Xotani got mulched. And that wasn't with anything near as hard to ressurect from as a Sphere of Annihilation, AFAIK. I see no particular evidence that he'd suddenly do so if a different one of his spawn is killed (and so much more permanently).

So yeah, even if a GM is running canon Golarion (in which Spheres of Annihilation explicitly do exist) then if the players can pull off enough Knowledge checks and/or Legend Lore castings and/or whatever else they come up with to satisfy that GM that they ought to have picked up a trail from their research, then it is totally possible to kill the Tarrasque with stuff that has explicitly been stated to be present in the canonical Golarion setting, in a way that the Tarrasque would not be able to recover from in and of itself.

And once so killed, it is IMHO highly doubtful that Rovagug could do anything about it (in his current state). Now, if Rovagug were to break from his seal, then yeah, sure, he could probably resurrect the Tarrasque with a direct application of his divine might. But if Rovagug ever regains the ability to act that directly in Golarion, that means Golarion is about to have waaaaaaaay worse problems to deal with than the Big T.


Headfirst wrote:
Guess I could have worded it better... Most of the leadership style abilities affect all allies, not just the leader's companions. The commands are just for the companion.

No, I got that the leadership styles already apply. That's why I said "At the very least, I'd suggest letting Commands apply to any of your allies who are willing to listen".

If the point of your class is that you're a "good commander", I don't see any reason why you're only able to command one single person in the whole entire world. It's not like you have a special psychic link to only him, like with an eidolon or a animal companion or whatever.

Headfirst wrote:
And I did have a capstone, but removed it just before I posted this. It gave the leader a 2nd companion, but only at level-2. That seemed a bit too powerful, though. Any ideas on something better?

Beats me. I mean, it should be an awesome, thematic culmination of the principles and themes of the class... but like I mentioned, the class seems pretty bland (to me) to begin with, so I'm probably not the best person to ask as far as something like that goes.

Still, feels like it ought to have something, though.

----

Also, one other thing I forgot to mention: for the "Stand" command, players already automatically can apply morale bonuses to your AC to your overall CMD as well, so the bonus to the specific maneuvers is, as worded, redundant since the morale bonus to AC would in and of itself transfer to CMD against every combat maneuver already.


Personally, I don't think I'd play it. Just... comes across as feeling kinda barren, mostly.

I mean, yeah, you can make comparisons to the Summoner, with the critter being the "main event", but it feels like A) even with the Summoner, there were still more diverse, flavorful things the Summoner herself could do with her casting and such, and B) even the eidolon itself feels like it had more flair and wonkiness in how it was built, the different ways you could evolve it.

I dunno, when I look at this class, the main feeling I come away with is essentially "pick this class, and you can play through the game as two NPC classes instead of one PC class, but with one of them buffed sometimes!" Which just doesn't feel very exciting to me. The buffs you can hand out to your NPC buddy help a little bit, but they don't feel all that terribly interesting.

Add to that the fact that the eidolon was more designed to keep up on its own merits, while the parameters of this class mean that you're trying to (essentially) keep an NPC class and your main character APL combat-relevant on about 1/2 WBL each... I just look at it and my default response is "ugh".

(I mean, the classic heal-bots and crafting-bots you often see through Leadership are one thing--not nearly so gold-intensive--but if the player is actually trying to go the direct-combat route with their minion that a lot of these buffs seem to be pushing the player toward, that seems a lot more gear-dependent.)

Also, how do the Leadership styles work once you start getting more of them? Do they just stack, or do you have to pick which one you're using? If the latter, how do you switch between them?

At the very least, I'd suggest letting Commands apply to any of your allies who are willing to listen, not just your one dude. The whole shtick of this guy is supposed to be his overall magnetic ability to lead, right? Not a special spiritual bond to one single person. Why would it only work on one person in the world at a time?

Oh, and it could use a capstone. Capstones are cool.

But yeah, even if you did all that, and even if the WBL situation was mitigated somehow... even then, I still don't think I'd find it all that enticing. There's just not much in the overall progression here that I'd honestly look forward to. Like, most other classes tend to have more of a "oooh, I can't wait until level X, when my character becomes able to do Y!!!" factor.

Heck, both the Leadership Styles and Commands are free-pick and lacking any kind of prerequisites, so players will probably pick the ones they consider the best first, meaning each successive level will see them grabbing the ones they care about less and less as time goes on.

In the end, it's just... yeah, there's one more NPC on the board, one that you can buff in a handful of ways, and you get more bonuses the higher you go. Still doesn't, IMHO, match the same distinctive... "flair", I guess you could call it... that you can find in the other pet-owning classes, both in terms of how interesting the pet feels and how interesting the pet owner feels in and of themselves.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.


Also, just to concentrate on what was alluded to above, don't underestimate how nifty Shield Slam can be, as a way to actually physically prevent a lot of opponents from reaching your squishier members. Especially if you can get Enlarge Person and/or Long Arm cast on you. If you Shield Bash for your AOOs in that widened threat area, not only do you get to whack incoming opponents, but you can also send them flying right back the way they came.


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I've never used games as representational replacements for what would, in the narrative, be non-game skill rolls. I have, however, used games twice when the characters in question were actually playing said game as part of the plot.

The first time was when the PCs came across Death, who was curious about them and decided to check them out because they had just become Mythic (Death, in that setting, had a particular interest in mortals who started down that path). He offered them the chance to take one of four tests (or not, it was all completely optional). The Test of Intellect, the Test of Strength, the Test of Luck, and the Test of Deftness.

Anyway, long story short, the Test of Luck was playing a game of Liar's Dice with death, and for any PCs who picked that, we just plain played it out with the actual dice there. For all the challenges, if you won, Death granted you an extra point to your maximum possible Mythic Power reservoir. If you lost, he took one.

The second time was quite a bit later on, when the PCs were stuck in the depths of Limbo, without any way to Plane Shift out (since the only one who could cast it was an oracle NPC who had gotten separated from the party). So they visited a local denizen called the Player of Games, who had a large trove of magical items that he'd put up as the stakes in his games.

So they, along with a bunch of other people who had gotten sucked into that place, went to the portal to his pocket realm. He welcomed them in, and explained the game he was playing that day. Turned out to be, essentially, a variant of Go Fish with some odd rules. Among other things, the victory condition wasn't scoring points, but rather getting your hand down to zero. Also, it was never played with the same cards twice. Once the game was over, and cards left in your hand at that point became truly yours, and the game would begin with a fresh deck.

The Player of Games did a trial run playing for a potion of cure light wounds to show how it worked. Everybody anted up, and two of the PCs decided to play. I conscripted the others to play the NPCs, a Protean and a Qlippoth. The PCs won the potion, the losers took their cards, and then we started the next game, this time playing for what they were all actually here for: a Spherewalker's Staff that would allow them to get off the plane. Everybody anted up for that (a quite higher chunk of change) and the Player of Games brought out the new deck that they were going to play with.

Specifically, a Deck of Many Things.

I'd made modifications to it, of course, filling out more cards to get to the full 52 so that you could actually play a Go Fish game with it. And due to the Player of Games' magic, it worked like he promised. The cards wouldn't truly become theirs until after the game was over. So the one who won wouldn't get any effects, good or bad. But there were two PCs playing the game. And only one had a high enough Knowledge(Arcana) score to know what each card actually did. And the Player didn't permit table talk.

So, yeah, they played Go Fish with a Deck of Many Things. Pretty tense session, that one. But they managed to both win and make it out in one piece. Even got some nifty bonuses out of it, for the one who still had some cards left.


Doomed Hero wrote:
What I want to know now is why. In what way does this rule make the game better or more functional?

It makes the game better because it's a standard rule that can be applied across the board, rather than trying to argue each spell individually based on flavor text where the spell writer might not have been thinking of those particular considerations when writing it.

Take Call Lightning. It says you can call lightning bolts down from the sky, to a certain location. But how does the targeting work? And in what direction does the magic flow? Are you sending magic up into the sky, with the target location pre-encoded in that magic somehow? Or do you shoot out the magical equivalent of a "targeting flare" to the point you want the bolt to strike, whereupon it activates and from there calls down a lightning bolt to that point, lightning rod style?

Both of those are entirely valid ways that the spell could be said to work. If the general rule wasn't there, each and every spell would have to make explicit the precise "path" that its magic follows.

Rather than create that kind of a quagmire, they made a general rule instead. For spells where you're creating an effect at a location, unless the spell says otherwise, there's always at least some necessary element of targeting magic that has to flow from you to that target point, to specify where the effect you're creating should, in fact, occur.

I... really don't see what's so awful about that notion. It's not the only way it could have been done, but it makes sense enough to me, and I honestly far prefer one general rule to trying to argue out the answer for each individual spell based on each one's respective fluff text. The way things are, I can just quickly point people to that one section, have that settle it, and continue with play.

(This is actually exactly what happened to our group two sessions ago, funnily enough. We were doing exactly that, bogging down a fight in back and forth discussions of whether this spell or that spell required line of effect based on the details of its fluff text, but pulling out the straightforward rule cleared it right up and ended the uncertainty. So yes, I do think it benefits the game--in ways I have direct personal experience with.)


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Thatcher Iliff wrote:
I am trying to create a backstory for a campaign I am running and it involves Aroden and speculating on his death. But in order to do that, I need to understand his "power level" when compared to other beings. My campaign involves the Demon Lord Kostchtchie a lot, and I am trying to tie the two together. But according to what I can find, Aroden would be much more powerful than Kostchtchie (I believe?). I cannot however figure out Aroden's power level when compared to Asmodeus (and other archdevils / major gods)

For what it's worth, if the question is how a demon lord would stack up against a Pathfinder deity, there is one official instance where one of the former managed to kill one of the latter. Namely, when Lamashtu killed Curchanus, becoming a deity herself as a result of her victory.

So, apparently, just being a deity doesn't put you utterly beyond the reach of lesser beings in the CR30-ish range. Particularly instructive is how Lamashtu accomplished the feat: she lured Curchanus into her territory (where he was presumably weaker, in a non-matching plane) and then zerg rushed him with swarms of minions until he was worn down enough for her to engage. So, interestingly enough, not only can people in the demon lord CR range technically cause damage to deities, but even lesser beings can harm them with enough of a massively overwhelming numbers edge to how much simultaneous firepower they can bring to bear.

At the same time, though, it's pretty clear that Lamashtu, before her own ascension, could not have taken Curchanus in an actual straight-up fight, even with home-field advantage. Still, they weren't so far apart that he was completely unreachable to her, either.


thejeff wrote:
It does sort of raise the question of how much anime you have to watch before deciding you don't want to watch more of it.

I guess I take issue with the "have to" part of things being applied by fans to non-fans on any level, when it comes to something like choosing "what do I want to watch for my personal entertainment?"

Like, if all someone knew about anime is that it wasn't an American Police Procedural, and their stance was "I don't even know what this 'anime' stuff is about, but I know I like American Police Procedurals, and I'd rather stick with something I'm sure I like than take a chance on something new I'm not sure about", then... well, I'd (personally) think they were totally depriving themselves, but I'd try to respect that choice.

So based on that, I guess, for me, the answer to "the question of how much anime you have to watch before deciding you don't want to watch more of it" would be "zero anime". I don't believe that anyone owes any level of trying anime to anime fans, or to the medium of anime in the abstract, and I really dislike it when anime fans criticize or shame non-anime fans for not being willing to reach whatever non-zero answer they've decided is the actual threshold.

And, if "zero anime" is enough, then (of course) I'd say "one anime" definitely is. Which is, I guess, why I'm sympathetic to the person who agrees to watch one (or more) anime, and the anime they see (in whole, or large proportion) have elements they really dislike (over the top fighting, particular comedy styles, or even just some subconscious quality that sets them on edge) and decide they're not interested in trying any more.

If they've touched their hand to the anime burner X number of times, and been burned by anime on all (or even most) of them, they don't owe it to anime to keep on touching the burner to find out just exactly what percent of the medium fits whatever characteristics they disliked about the ones that they saw. At any point, I contend that they're allowed to say, politely, "my past experience has led me, just personally speaking, to believe that this is not overly-likely to give me a fun time, so I think I'm going to pass, thanks".

And I think they should be able to say so (ideally) without being shamed or criticized by anime fans.

MMCJawa wrote:
Also Anime is just sort of a weird category. Pretty much all the anime I watch is chosen because of topic. Blindly going into anime seems really weird. I loved Attack on Titan and Cowboy Bebop, but that doesn't mean I have any interest in some high school drama just because it also is anime.

Speaking as someone who does exactly that, one of the big reasons is that even in a medium as diverse as anime, there totally are trends that statistically tend to apply to the culture/medium combination, running across genres.

Like, a big one for me is that anime (far more than American TV, in my experience) tends to go for contained story arcs that have a definite finale, and not try to milk a concept until they run it into the ground. Again, not that it's 100%--there are definitely some incredible long-runners in anime as well, and some self-contained American stuff. But I've found that, in my own personal experience, the American TV shows that I've seen seems significantly more likely to keep spinning out the story for as many seasons as they can managed until they tank the show by turning it into crap, whereas anime seems quite a bit more likely to have a resounding conclusion and actually end in a definitive way.

And my genre tastes are at least fairly broad, so I'd totally be more interested in watching, specifically, an anime school drama than I would an American one. Because it's not purely a genre thing; there are totally factors associated with particular culture/medium combinations that you wouldn't expect would need to be.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
Well, having just googled those two, I can confirm that I would have dismissed re:Zero on the "over the top fighting" basis, based on the artwork I saw.

Oh, it definitely does have "over the top fighting". That's not all it has to offer, but if you don't happen to like shows where people do things like obliterate an entire building with a single swing of their sword, then your instinctual, gut-level, subconscious assessment of that show was giving you exactly the right warning.

thejeff wrote:

Which is also a thing commonly done, particularly by older people - "Cartoons are for kids". Less prevalent than a few decades ago, but still a thing.

And again, while it's definitely a stereotyped overgeneralization, it's not racism.

Yeah. And for a while, it wouldn't actually have even been that bad as a heuristic. Used to be, if you recognized something as American animation, you'd have pretty decent odds that it in fact was targeted primarily at kids. Not 100% certain, even back then, but it would have been a perfectly reasonable thing to factor into your "will I like this?" probability calculation.

Heck, even nowadays, you've still probably got better odds for it than not over here in the States. If that's within your level of tolerance for "missing stuff you might have liked", then I don't think it's wrong to use things like that as a rule of thumb.

So it's hardly irrational for someone to think that there could be large-scale commonalities across a given culture/medium combination. Sometimes, particular mediums do hold particular cultural niches.

Or, heck, even just statistical skews. Say a person has tried six different anime, and four of them involved "over the top fighting" which they really didn't like, and two of them were touching school dramas that they thought were okay. In a case like that, even though they might realize that there's more to anime than just "over the top fighting" alone, I'd fully understand if they decided to shy away from anime on general principle, just on the basis that: "in my experience, just personally speaking, I've found that anime seems more likely to involve crazy fighting with big energy blasts than, say, American TV is, and I dislike that element to enough of an extent that I'm okay with the risk that I might also miss out on some stuff I might have liked".

Even then it's probably still a skewed impression, formed from a unrepresentative sample set. But I'm still not going to fault them for making their decisions as far as entertainment choices go based on what they happen to have seen themselves.


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Jiggy wrote:
I'm talking about when the viewer completely ignores the message that the publisher is trying to communicate with the cover. The exact opposite of what you're talking about. I'm talking about when they don't buy into the cover's message because the characters were hand-drawn Asians instead of photographed Americans (or whatever else).

How is the particular art style chosen for the cover not part of "the cover's message"?

You say people are ignoring the supposedly "obvious" message of the cover, because of how the characters are drawn. But "how the characters are drawn" is part of the message, even if it might convey different things to different people who come at it from different experiences.

What I mean is, take the exact example you gave: "three teenagers stand in battle-ready poses in the foreground, while the background includes a battleship and a looming, angry face". But you can't just reduce the "message" to the mere physical elements the way you're doing here.

That exact scene you describe could be drawn using the art syle of Avatar the Last Airbender. Or it could be drawn in the style of the Justice League Unlimited cartoon. Or it could also be drawn in the art style of The Powerpuff Girls. Or it could be drawn in the art style of Rick and Morty. Or (and this was the intended point of the example) it could be drawn in the stereotypical-romance-cover-art-style of the image I linked above.

That choice--even keeping the same basic components of the scene the same--will create VASTLY different impressions in the audience of what the people who see it think the intended "message" of the image is. And those different impressions will be informed, in part, by their prior experience with other media that use a similar art style as well. Cultural context is an intrinsic part of that kind of non-verbal communication, and it absolutely influences the "meaning" that people read into a work or an image.

(For example, doing your example heroes-in-front-of-a-battleship scene in a cutesy style will convey one sort of meaning to a person who grew up watching Powerpuff Girls... but it might not have even remotely the same connotations to someone who grew up watching Happy Tree Friends instead.)

In short, I maintain that choice of art style can (and should) convey meaning. But, since that meaning is imprecise and context-sensitive, I think it's worth giving people the benefit of the doubt in situations like this.

If someone's only experience of that art style is it being used in a certain specific genre, their perspective could be as skewed as the guy who was raised on Happy Tree Friends would be as far as what the choice to use that art style "really" conveys. It doesn't necessarily mean they're racist, or being willfully ignorant. They might just be operating from a smaller reference pool than I am, and thus reading a bit more specificity into the meaning of the art style choice than actually exists. It's not like there's a hard and fast rule to this kind of interpretation, no matter how "obvious" it might seem to fans of the work who are more experienced in these waters.

Anyway, in a situation like this, I prefer giving them the benefit of the doubt, rather than condemning them in absentia.


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kyrt-ryder wrote:
I guess people really do judge a book by its cover (art.) Myself I prefer to judge by the back cover text.

Heh heh, if I read the back cover text for every book I glanced across in the bookstore/library when I go on a binge, I would never leave.

Actually... it's kinda funny when I started thinking about it. For all the thematic differences that Jiggy (rightly) notes between Avatar and most anime, that kind of back-cover-blurb, 500-ft view, overall-plot-synopsis of Avatar and Naruto would be amazingly similar.

(Air-wielding kid from a world of element-wielding kung-fu wizards, a world that is structured into elemental nations, is the chosen one destined to bring peace to their war-torn world, aided by his ability to draw on the super-powerful spirit dwelling inside him, but opposed by a fire-wielding sometimes-friend, sometimes-rival of vacillating allegiance.)


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Jiggy wrote:
The latter is what I'm talking about. Not so much them disliking something for superficially looking different from what they like, but rather disliking something for superficially looking similar to what they already dislike.

So let's take a different example. Say I'm browsing through the bookstore... and I come across a book with this cover.

Now, I don't know anything about the writer, or the content. I've certainly never read it myself. The actual content could, for all I know, be an amazingly well-crafted story. It could be as different from my mental image of the typical romance novel as Avatar is from Naruto.

And yet I'm almost certainly not going to give it the time of day, based entirely on a brief glance at a couple (superficial) characteristics of its presentation. My reaction would be almost identical to the reaction of the people to Avatar whose motives you so derided. I would, as you said, "express a lack of interest" in the book, because I'm "not into anime that kind of romance novel".

But, but, but! Do I actually know that it's "that kind of romance novel" based on the cover alone? Well, no. I freely admit that. Me thinking that book will be just like my preconception of the kind of books that have "that style" of cover could be exactly as "incorrect" as people thinking Avatar will be just like their preconceptions of what "shows with that anime art style" usually end up being like, in their incomplete experience.

In both cases, it's a judgement based on, exactly as you say, "superficially looking similar to what they already dislike". But... so what? Works of entertainment (whether they "look superficially like anime" on one hand, or "look superficially like romance novels" on the other) are not entitled to the same benefit of the doubt that living, breathing humans are. People have no obligation to be "interested" in a given piece of media, an obligation that can only be discharged if they can come up with some valid reason not to be.

It's certainly wrong to prejudge a person's character based on superficial factors. But when judging whether you're interested in a particular piece of media enough to pursue it further, the judgement the vast majority of the time is going to have to be as superficial as the two described above given the sheer glut of just how freaking much of it there is.

So I guess, in the end, my question would be: exactly how much more in-depth consideration than what is described above are you telling me I'm--apparently--required to give a book that looks (superficially, in mere cover art style) like a romance novel?


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"The Mating Habits of Seagulls"

This one has its roots way, way back in the first campaign one of my gaming groups ran. This one was a GURPS campaign, set in a fantasy world. The party was trying to infiltrate the restricted section of a big library in the capital city of a vaguely Roman-empire-ish nation, to investigate a tome that the evil cult they'd been butting heads with had been trying to obtain.

So one of the party members, a monk/druid-ish shapeshifter melee guy, is waiting around while other party members work on the plan, and he says that he wants to pull a random book off the shelves and read it, and asks what it is. I'm the GM, and this catches me completely off-guard, since I wasn't expecting them to bother with any of the ordinary shelves, and I just say the first random thing that comes to mind that didn't sound in any way plot relevant. Which was something along the lines of "Um... It's... a scholarly treatise on the mating habits of seagulls".

Since then, our group's standard response for when someone looks at a book or scroll that doesn't have any relevance to the actual plot is that it's title is "The Mating Habits of Seagulls".

Sir Offrick

Similarly to that one, there was a time in a different campaign, run by a different GM, where we ran into an NPC whose sole reason for existence was just to give us our payout for finishing the quest we'd just completed. Except somehow we got the impression he was more important than that, so we were going pretty deep into interacting with him. And of course, one of the first things we ask was what the guy's name was.

The GM, of course, hadn't really prepared a name for him, so his response when we asked the question was: "Ah. Frick."

Everyone else at the table paused for half a beat, looked at each other, then all in complete unison just went with it. "Ah, I see. Well met, Sir Offrick! So pray tell, what is your impression of the guard captain?"

Since then, people with the last name of "Offrick" have shown up in almost all of our homebrew setting games.


Claxon wrote:
Yeah, if you have to start resorting to Artifacts I don't you can call that an acceptable solution. Artifacts exist only at the whim of the GM, you can't create them or buy them.

Well, sure, you can't craft them or get them at the local magic-mart, but you can certainly attempt to search for them. Make knowledge checks, scour libraries, inquire after legends, etc. It's a plot hook.

I mean, yes, the GM can always just say "those don't exist in my version of Golarion" or whatever the world is you're playing in. I'm not saying "this is how you pull one over on your GM, or go against the GM's designs". The GM can always thwart anything the players decide to do... if they feel so inclined.

But if the GM is cool and onboard with the players trying to puzzle out a way to deal with the Tarrasque permanently, the point is just that there exists a RAW way to do it without the GM having to fiat in an arbitrary "sword of anti-Tarrasque-regeneration that I made up myself".

I mean, that's a big part of the whole fun of "how do I do X?" threads like these, y'know? Trying to think up ways to accomplish a task using the tools from the official sources, without having to homebrew up a specific fiat solution.


A Sphere of Annihilation should do the trick, if you can track one down. Knock the Big T into the negatives and drop one of those on top of it.

The sphere's effect isn't anything the Tarrasque is immune to, so the initial annihilation will take place. And once it does, the artifact text specifies that the direct intervention of a deity is the only way to restore a creature that has been sucked inside the sphere and annihilated. And the Tarrasque's regeneration doesn't fit that criteria.

I've seen people make an argument for the regeneration being an indirect intervention of a deity, since the Big T was created by Rovagug. But even if that were the case (which I'm not really convinced of) merely indirect intervention still doesn't cut it with a Sphere of Annihilation. Rovagug would have to directly act himself to bring the Big T back from that.

But as far as just the Tarrasque itself goes, without getting outside intervention, a Sphere of Annihilation should kill it as dead as anything can be killed by mortal means in Pathfinder.


knightnday wrote:
It appears in recent posts that we've moved a bit from giving more narrative control and/or more to do than just hit things into removing the need for spell casters at all. I cannot say I'd be any more for that than I would the current state of affairs where spell casters don't need martials.

Concur. I agree that there is a martial-caster disparity, and that it's not a good thing as it stands. But while I would totally like to see upper tier casters reined in so they're not as widely role-encompasingly powerful in potentially so many areas at once, and while I would also like to see martials be given more areas in which they can contribute either on par with or exceeding what straight-up magic can do... that doesn't mean that I'd go so far as to say that an all-martial party should necessarily be able to fill all possible roles, or at least not without some extreme inefficiencies.

I don't personally see a problem with the game stating that if you want to (just to pick an example) travel to a different plane of existence, then you really do need magic for that. And if you're committed to an all-martial party then you're probably going to be paying through the nose (or go through some other comparatively extremely inefficient method) to achieve that kind of travel.

If you don't diversify your approaches, your party might well end up taking on a much tougher row to hoe. I don't think that that's in and of itself a bad thing.


_Ozy_ wrote:
Except that we know that it doesn't. Initiative occurs when you're drinking in a bar, strolling down a park path, and every other situation where you wouldn't normally expect combat to erupt.

Hence, "in a generalized, abstracted way".

Nothing's going to be a perfect model, but I personally find assuming that initiative more or less represents that to be a lot less odious than what I can see the readied actions bit doing to the game, and trying to finagle that.

_Ozy_ wrote:

Seriously, though, if the rogue is using stealth, they still get to sneak attack with their first attack. And, once combat starts they need flank and flat-footedness is irrelevant.

We actually do have a rogue in a couple of our games, and the initial flat-footedeness of the enemies has been largely irrelevant.

Well they'd at the very least need some way to get concealment for that to work, which is iffy. It's been a really significant source of the rogue's damage in our game, so I really don't like the idea of just taking it away for the asking.

Crimeo wrote:
Ah I see. Okay, but so? Even if your rule is that initiative only occurs with actual attacks, I can still have the wizard unarmed slap the fighter every round as we walk along and force initiative all day anyway, and get this same advantage.

That wouldn't be "my rule" either. My rule would be, to quote the combat section "At the start of a battle, each combatant makes an initiative check."

So as a GM, I would look at the Wizard slapping the fighter with no intent to kill, think long and hard about whether, in my judgement, it constituted a "battle", then respond "of course not, that's ridiculous", and if any player tried to claim an initiative check for that "battle" I'd roll my eyes and say "no, now stop fooling around and play seriously".


_Ozy_ wrote:
]Or, how you guys seem to want to play it, characters acting like idiots strolling through a dungeon.

Or, we could just assume that initiative represents (in a generalized, abstracted way) an alert adventurer being "appropriately cautious" for the situation, and that the enemies (which can hold themselves to similar standards) are using, on average, similar tactics, meaning that we just factor it back to initiative again without having to laboriously spell it all out. We could also assume that readying an action represents an extra level of "utterly hair-trigger focus" that is not so mentally sustainable over more protracted periods to that extent. Hence why it's only allowable inside the initiative tick of a given combat.

Crimeo wrote:

This would still not be necessarily true. You cannot do readied actions in response to something unless your character is aware of the trigger happening. It's not the same as the spell "contingency" where the universe can just know something happened and magically set off the trigger. Readied actions, by comparison, still require you to perceive the thing to act on it.

So if somebody sneaks up on you etc., you will not get to full defense in reaction to that, because you didn't see the trigger in order to respond with your readied action.

Actually, what I actually said in what you quoted has nothing to do with the readied action itself. If the player is allowed to arbitrarily start the initiative tick, they've already acted. They might be denied DEX if their opponent is invisible or whatever while attacking, which is always the case. But no matter what the action was (ready, move, attack, whatever) if they've already acted in that initiative count (which they obviously have, in this setup) it sidesteps the whole rule about how you're flat-footed if you haven't yet.

Basically, what this would allow is that players could say, even just at the entrance of the dungeon, say "okay, that rule about how you're flat footed until you've acted once in a given combat encounter? we're just going to decide to start the one single combat initiative tick for this dungeon now, and now no monster within will be able to catch us with that rule, because we say so."

Man, it'd suck to be a rogue in that kind of game...


Crimeo wrote:
Agreed. That's why initiative is simply rolled when you say you want to ready an action if you aren't already in initiative. Ta da! Now all your readies have an initiative to work off of no matter what, and you can do it whenever you like.

Oh man, if that were actually the way it worked, that would open up so much cheese. Just to take the most obvious, if you could start the initiative sequence whenever you wanted, you'd be perfectly within your rights to start readying an action the moment you woke up, with a trigger of "someone attacks me", and an action of "take a full defense". Then specify that you will continue taking that throughout the day, during every single six-second interval where you are not doing something that requires a standard action.

And voila! Through this amazing tactic, you've now made it nearly impossible for anyone to ever catch you flat-footed at the "start" of combat. Whenever you run into enemies in whatever dungeon you're exploring, they're not starting a new initiative sequence, they're just belatedly joining into the ongoing one you started at the beginning of the day with your readied action, and have been running consecutively since then (which you have obviously already acted in long ago).

This would be particularly great against melee attacks, since you can also take a five-foot step as part of your readied action. So if anyone ever managed to take a swing at you in what in a normal game would have been "before you first acted in that combat", it trips your readied action, and you can five-foot step away giving you a free miss.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

Because Slow specifically mentions that it reduces the affected creature's speed. Freedom of Movement does not do anything for action economy, it only affects movement.

So if I was affected by both Slow and Freedom of Movement, I would be able to move at my normal speed, but I would still be under the effects of the Staggered condition. (Because the reduction of actions is onset from a condition, not by a lack of movement.)

Hmmm. So by the does-not-affect-action-economy interpretation of the spell, then I guess it wouldn't ultimately counter Hold Person and its kin either?

Hold Person:

"The subject becomes paralyzed and freezes in place. It is aware and breathes normally but cannot take any actions, even speech."

That'd actually be a pretty noticeable buff to that line of spells, since we've always ruled that they didn't work on anything in the bestiary with constant freedom of movement going for it.

(I'm honestly not convinced, myself, that that was where the dividing line was intended to be drawn. We've always played it that it countered both Slow and Hold X spells completely, though I can also totally see the other way of reading it as well.)


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There's one campaign I've always wanted to be a part of.

To give some context to the significance: I really, really don't have much interest in Evil campaigns in general. I just can't find it enjoyable to role-play out doing really nasty things, having the bad guys win, etc. Just leaves me feeling unpleasant inside, and I prefer to avoid that. I mean, there's enough super-depressing crap going on out in the real world as it is; I don't want to immerse myself in trying to achieve the success of that kind of stuff while I'm role-playing too.

But.

But there is one single Evil campaign that I've always wanted to try.

Namely, taking what should be a serious, dark, truly Evil campaign... and running it with a party of total Saturday-morning-cartoon-level villains. And I'm talking old Saturday morning cartoons. Including all the behavioral restrictions that come with that. We'd never ever actually kill any innocents, or even any of the heroes. Of course not! We'd naturally capture them alive, which would give us the chance to exercise our maxed-out skill ranks in Craft(Easily Escapable Deathtrap).

While laughing maniacally all the while, of course, as is only right and proper.

The key thing is, it would be run in a world that is absolutely not in line with the sort of villains the PCs are at all. So you'd have Paladins and the like, who are used to dealing with horrible, legitimate evil, and they end up completely flummoxed by this increasingly powerful (but overall largely harmless) bunch of utter loons that don't seem to realize what idiots they are.

So, yeah, super niche, I know, and not likely to ever happen, but it's been a brainbug in my head for quite some time now.


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Redjack_rose wrote:
My point has been if someone asks for something and it's a significant benefit to the whole party over whatever artsy character model you got, yeah, you should do it. If you don't, you're not really being a team player and you have traits many find dis-favorable.

Well, none of the tables I've played at have been among those "many". If we do make requests like that, or offer suggestions for more optimal play, and the recipient responds that that really wasn't in line with how they envisioned their character, the response is generally more along the lines of "ok, sure, no prob", rather than a response of "but you're obligated to do it!"

My point is just that I, personally, believe that the former response tends to make for a significantly more enjoyable play experience overall than the latter.

haremlord said it more succinctly and poignantly than I've been able to in all my posts since, way back at the beginning:

haremlord wrote:
If someone does something that helps someone else, we accept it not as something that we expected, but as something given.

What a great way to look at it. Not as an obligation the other player owes you that you're just summarily collecting on, but as a gift!

That's the kind of player I want to be like. That's the kind of player I want to play with.


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Redjack_rose wrote:

@Claymade

Sounds like a fun story. Did the party ask you to take the more beneficial path?

If yes, then you probably should have but hey, glad it worked out for you.

If no, not relevant to the conversation. The conversation is are you obligated to give things buffs/help/resources to party members when they ask.

No, no one asked... nor would I particularly expect them to, since the table culture was pretty much the sort of table culture I've been trying to advocate for. If someone wants to play a character of "withdrawn, non-violent fellow who doesn't like hurting people and prefers to buff the party from behind" then our players, by and large, will just roll with stuff like that, and not ask them to act outside their character concept. Even if they did think that it might be technically better for the party if he fought more directly more often.

My point with the story was that, despite all the dire things you were saying about TPKs and such in the comment that prompted it, that "yes, it totally can work out to just let people play sub-optimally, even significantly so." And that in fact, it can actually be more fun all around when your goal is "do fun, in-character things" rather than "win Pathfinder".

What I'm trying to say is that that's the kind of table I want to play at, the kind of table where you can do stuff like that without being called to the carpet for being "significantly" less than optimal in your fighting tactics, because the other players don't mind things like that.


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Redjack_rose wrote:

You know, I've mentioned other players getting upset about how you are acting. I've even mentioned other players talking to you about it. But I've never advocated they should try to force you. What I have indicated, is that you should feel obligated to be a decent team player in what is essentially, a team game.

I fully agree if you're in a party playing and someone flat out tells you ''play this way'' even if they have a myriad of valid reasons why, that's not good party ethics. But that's not what this thread is about. This thread is about whether or not you should feel obligated when someone asks things of you in the party. And the answer, my answer to that, is yes if there is a significant benefit to that action.

So... you're saying it's wrong for someone to say "play this way" to someone, but it's fine for someone to say "you should feel obligated to play this way"? I'm afraid I don't see all that much difference between the two in terms of actual social pressure.

The latter is, perhaps, slightly more polite, and it uses more words, but the effective, conveyed intent is not something I would consider terribly different.

Redjack_rose wrote:
Meaningful story telling does not come at the price of basic teamwork. Furthermore, it's just human nature that people like to ''win.'' Maybe the definition of winning is different for each person but a TPK is almost universally a loss. Repeated TPK's are always a loss.

If you look at the whole quote, "meaningful storytelling" wasn't even the crux of the main objective I mentioned. What I described it as was "a storytelling exercise where the objective is to have cool memories after it's over of the fun things your characters did." That's why I don't want to get in the way of other people doing whatever sort of thing they personally find to be cool.

Let me give an actual example from our group that sort of turns the example situation we've been discussing on its head. Where buffing was probably the less optimal choice and attacking probably the far better one.

Our group was doing a high-level module, and I was playing the Wizard, and was scouting ahead with the Arcane Archer. We rounded a corner and ran into something that was pretty clearly a Big Climactic Area Boss Fight, who also saw us. We won initiative, and as luck would have it, I still had a couple nasty Save-or-Lose combos prepared that I was pretty certain could just stop the thing right in its tracks (based on what the DM gave me for my knowledge check regarding its immunities and weaknesses).

But I had also (deliberately) built my character's personality as a more withdrawn, diplomatic sort of person, who generally preferred to avoid direct violence himself. So (playing my character) I instead flew back to the party along with the archer and cast (you guessed it) Haste instead, allowing us to all fight it together in a fun, epic battle, with me more focused on buffing and healing than attacking directly.

Now (applying your litmus test to it) was the spell I chose "significantly" less effective than the one I could have used instead? Well, yeah, since if I'd just zapped the enemy when I won initiative, it could easily have turned what became one of the hardest fights of the whole module for us into a speedbump encounter. But if it had, it would also have turned one of the most fun fights of the module into one of the most boring ones, especially for everyone else.

That was, in the end, the ultimate reason I went with my in-character approach, instead of the most mathematically sound one. Because I wasn't just trying to win the encounter as conclusively as possible (as I would have if I were playing Pathfinder like a game of baseball). I was playing my character, and even more, I was hoping that as many people at the table as possible would get the chance to do their own particular fun things, especially in a Big Climactic Boss Fight like that.

The reason I don't want to tell Wizards in my group "you should feel obligated to cast Haste instead of throwing a Fireball" is the same reason I did cast Haste in that particular scenario. Because I think fights are more fun when everyone at the table is doing the sort of things they find to be cool and fun. If casting Haste isn't fun for someone, I don't particularly want them to feel "obligated" to do so, even if doing so would give a "significant" extra boost to my Fighter's DPR numbers.

So yeah, if you don't think I should have made that "significantly" less optimal choice, simply because A) I thought it would be closer to my character, and B) that it would be more FUN to play it out that way, then I guess we're at an impasse, because I totally don't regret the choice.


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Redjack_rose wrote:
If someone asks for advice [I believe this started in the advice forum] about should they feel obligated to do X, then me answering with my opinion seems par for the course. This is my line, this is where I draw it, and here's why. I think you should adopt it.

General Discussion, actually. And the point is that if all you're saying is that if the DPR difference is "significant" players have the green light to tell other players how they ought to be playing, then everyone, even within a given table, will have a different idea of how much "significant" actually means.

If that's as deep as the table-practice-rule goes, you will see the falchion fans try to force the paladin to take it. Because if the only guide is "significance", they absolutely find it so.

Now, I suppose if you wanted to actually define a meaningful line, you could say, I dunno, "I think 'significant' means an X% DPR increase" and make the case for that. If you have that, then I guess you could just apply math to determine whether the Haste spell or the falchion was above or underneath that threshold, and thus determine whether another player would be "justified" in trying to force another player to use either one.

Of course, as mentioned, I (for my own personal part) find the fundamental idea of having a table ethos that gives other players that kind of permission to try and force decisions like that based on DPR calculations to be flat-out TOXIC to the sort of environment I find fun in tabletop gaming.

The freedom to make dumb, in-character tactics is something awesome, and IMHO doesn't happen enough in my games.

Redjack_rose wrote:

You're playing on a baseball team, and you notice your team mate often tries to steal a base. Sometimes he succeeds, but often he get's nabbed or get's out of position for the next batter.

Now, assuming you don't come up to him cursing and swearing but explain to him ''Hey, could you stop trying to steal that base? The team gets a lot more benefit if you stay put.''

His answer is ''You have no right to decide what's more beneficial for me to do. I want to have fun and it's more fun to try and steal the base than back up the team.''

Who's the immature one?

Really, this one example says it all, and about as clearly as could be asked for, how you're portraying playing Pathfinder as analogous to playing baseball.

This whole argument is basically the difference between looking at Pathfinder as a game where the objective is just to "win", and looking at it as a storytelling exercise where the objective is to have cool memories after it's over of the fun things your characters did.

If we're playing Pathfinder-ball, heck yeah I'd be in favor of a player keeping on trying to "steal bases" if that was the sort of method he found fun to contribute to the team. If it was less than optimal, maybe even "significantly" so... so what? He's enjoying himself. I'd concern myself with enjoying the things my character can do, the way I enjoy doing them.


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Redjack_rose wrote:
I feel like I'm going blue in the face here. Significant Benefit.

From my experience, an tripled crit range alone is a pretty darn significant benefit. And that's just the thing, isn't it? You're putting yourself in the position of judge and jury on what exactly constitutes "significant enough" to tell another player what to do. This is not a hypothetical; I've seen people try to convince other players to drop their existing choice and go for falchion.

Sure, you might say that those falchion people are over the "magic, invisible, Redjack_rose-defined line of significance" past which you're allowed call other players to the carpet for acting suboptimal. But really, all they're doing is just drawing their own version of that line in a somewhat different place from you.

As Orthos said, you're opening up a very nasty rabbit hole... and then protesting that it's okay, because you'd only follow it just as far down as you, personally, think is reasonable in terms of telling other players how to play.

For my part, I prefer to let each player at the table draw that magic, invisible, optimal-behavior line for their own characters inasmuch as is possible, as long as they're not actively harming the party.

Redjack_rose wrote:
Now you've also introduced another complication. Let's be realistic. Even at 4 combats a day, only one of them is going to warrant a casting of haste.

That's an interesting assumption to make. I'd expect that would depend a lot on DM style and/or module design, myself. What if you've got a DM who just prefers low-creature count encounters of various types, and uses them in very large proportion?


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Redjack_rose wrote:
Nope, seems perfectly valid to me.

Consider the following template, then:

Once upon a time, there was a ______ who designed a character whose fighting concept was based around ________. However, when fighting in a dungeon, the party happened to find a _________. The party (correctly) pointed out to the _______ that using the _________ instead of his ________ would be significantly better for the party in many situations. However, the ________ liked the theme of using a ________, so even though he _________, he kept on __________, even though it wasn't anywhere close to the mechanically best option.

If you fill in the blanks with:

Once upon a time, there was a [wizard] who designed a character whose fighting concept was based around [throwing fireballs]. However, when fighting in a dungeon, the party happened to find a [spellbook with Haste in it]. The party (correctly) pointed out to the [wizard] that using the [Haste spell] instead of his [Fireball spell] would be significantly better for the party in many situations. However, the [wizard] liked the theme of using a [Fireball spell], so even though he [had the Haste spell], he kept on [casting Fireball], even though it wasn't the mechanically best option.

...that player is an immature jerk? But if you fill in the blanks with:

Once upon a time, there was a [paladin] who designed a character whose fighting concept was based around [fighting with a sickle]. However, when fighting in a dungeon, the party happened to find a [falchion]. The party (correctly) pointed out to the [paladin] that using the [falchion] instead of his [sickle] would be significantly better for the party in many situations. However, the [paladin] liked the theme of using a [sickle], so even though he [had proficiency in falchion], he kept on [using a sickle], even though it wasn't the mechanically best option.

...that's just fine?

Keep in mind that this does not fit your explanation of how "They can't plan ahead of time that they should have gotten a degree in physics or gone to medical school because they'll know one day the group their in will need it." The choice, as you can see, is being made after the party is formed. No foreknowledge required. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever stopping the paladin from swinging a falchion instead of a sickle at that point, other than the same sort of "thematic" aspect that might want to make an Ifrit wizard want to throw around fire instead of buffs, even when buffs are technically the best choice.

The paladin, character and player, in this case is choosing, in-game, not to take the option that most benefits the team for the sake of his concept/roleplay. There's no two ways about it.

For my part? I'd much rather all the players had fun at the table doing things they found cool than play that sort of "Pathfinder Police".

("Dave, I'm really disappointed in your decision to Fireball the BBEG who killed your little sister in the face personally, instead of standing on the sidelines and casting Haste while the rest of the party killed him for you. According to my carefully-calculated spreadsheets, doing that reduced our group's average DPR for that encounter by a whole 52 points! We might have killed him a whole round faster if you hadn't been so selfish! I really hope this trend of playing your character like he has emotions instead of number-crunching calculation doesn't continue. In fact... maybe we don't need you around at all, if you're not going to take the most mathematically optimal solution that's in your capabilities!")


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haremlord wrote:
If someone does something that helps someone else, we accept it not as something that we expected, but as something given.

This. This right here. This is, IMHO, a far more healthy approach to go with than this sort of "fun police" attitude where someone tries to force other players at the table to make the choices in combat that they've decided will be the most optimal.

Jaunt wrote:
Personally, I think that if you "have to" always make the most effective decision in combat, even if it's to the detriment of your character concept, personality, or whatever, then you're equally obligated to make the most effective decisions in character creation.

Agreed. I really don't get this strange dichotomy, where (supposedly) you're totally allowed to make sub-optimal decisions in character building, based on your character's personality... but once you actually get into combat you're at that point obligated to completely ignore that self-same personality, and go into pure ROBOT VULCAN OPTIMIZER mode.

Conversely, some of the most memorable moments in some of my group's combats have been the moments when we've discarded sound, purely optimized tactics for in-character reactions, actual role-playing, and/or the chance to do "cool stuff".

Turns out? That can be a lot more interesting than just methodically "winning the game" by using the bloodlessly-calculated, mathematically-best approach, over and over again.

So yeah. If I were in a party along with an optimizer like the ones in this thread, and that optimizer was trying to browbeat the party's caster into buffing him, instead of blasting for their own damage, I expect that my sympathies and support would totally lie with the caster. Even if it meant we weren't quite crushing the opposition by as large a margin as we might theoretically be capable of, or pulling off the absolute biggest numbers possible, as a result.


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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...

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