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186 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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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.

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.)

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 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:


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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I've recently been looking into the rules for high-level Paladin abilities as part of a game I'm involved in that's starting to get into the higher levels, and well, I've been completely boggled by the incredible awfulness of the Paladin capstone: the Banishment effect that applies whenever you hit an evil outsider with a smite attack. Particularly the fact that it ends your Smite after it's resolved, one way or the other, and can't be turned off.

So yeah. Are you in a situation where you don't want to do an all-or-nothing "hail mary" against the save of the demon you're fighting? Well, too bad! Rules say after 20th level Paladins don't get the option of full-attack-smiting evil outsiders anymore. Or even hitting them more than one time per smite. Just one hit, and have it make its save, and that's all you get anymore. Hope you set up your Paladin like a SoL-based sorcerer instead of, you know, a martial!

Worse, there are all kinds of situations where you wouldn't want to do a Banishment even if you thought you could land the save. Devil has a plot MacGuffin you're trying to get? Well, you better not risk using your iconic class feature on it anymore (especially since you'd only get one hit's worth of Smiting one way or the other). You want to actually kill (and loot) the demon you're fighting, instead of mildly inconvenience it and lose the treasure? You don't even want the Banishment to stick.

Most hilariously of all, the ability specifically applies the Banishment effect to whenever the Paladin smites an evil outsider, with no exception for if they have, say, the native subtype, or for whether the plane you're actually doing the smiting on is the outsider's home plane. Both of those are cases that would cause any Banishment spell cast on them to automatically fail, no save required. So if you're fighting a Balor in the Abyss, or fighting a Tiefling Antipaladin... well, enjoy having your smite canceled every single hit in exchange for a casting of Banishment that can't possibly succeed even if you did want it to.

Gack. I can't think of another capstone that would make me want to multi-class out of the class I'd been following up until that point, just to make sure the capstone didn't appear on my sheet.

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Ran a session with some friends a couple days ago where I played a Swashbuckler. Kept it to Core material, so no Agile, Dervish Dance, Piranha Strike, etc. It was definitely enjoyable to play overall, and I had a lot of fun with the class features.

That said, there were definitely a few annoying points. One of the biggest actually showed up not in actual play, but during the build of the character. In the other Pathfinder classes I've built/played, the experience was like being shown the basic foundation to a house, and then getting let loose to build something on top of it, whatever my imagination came up with in terms of a direction to go in. Building a Swashbuckler, on the other hand, felt like being shown a fully constructed house, and then being told that the interesting work was already done, now go in and patch all the leaks and fix the foundation before the place comes down around your ears.

So much of the character build was just finding the "right" missing pieces to make the class work, at all. Realizing that you need to spend one of your feats taking Combat Reflexes to make your main early-level class mechanics even function. Realizing you need to use a rapier if you want to spend the least percentage of time frustratingly out of Panache and unable to use your class's interesting stuff. Realizing that you need to take both the Iron Will and Great Fortitude feats (and really, probably both the feat chains) to desperately try and make up for the fact that both of your two weak saves are the ones that can make you flat out incapacitated/killed/attacking-your-own-party if you can't reliably make them. And heaven help you if you start at level 1 and have to accept the slap-in-the-face of having to spend one of your feats on Weapon Finesse to hit things, before then getting it at level 2.

Overall, it didn't feel like "coming up with a build" so much as it felt like using my feats and traits and such to try and fit the last few missing jigsaw puzzle pieces into an existing one, such that the character doesn't die or help kill his allies.

It's not usually this way. When I've built Bards, or Sorcerers, or Barbarians, or even Fighters, I've built them with unique builds and focuses and play styles and methodologies. But for Swashbucklers, so much of your (theoretically) "chooseable" resources are tied up in just patching the class's weaknesses and missing pieces that I have a hard time seeing myself playing any other Swashbuckler build under the current rules that isn't more or less just another tweaked-and-refined version of pretty much the same one I made for our playtest. At least not until much higher levels once all the "essentials" have been obtained.

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mdt wrote:
The actions a player states his character take are the ones he intends them to take, and the ones the character intends to take. But things don't always work out as we intend. Sometimes we stick our hands on the wizard's half-eaten fried peanut butter and banana sandwhich, and sometimes when we look at the pretty girl and try to sound suave as we complement her on her appearance we instead say 'Woah! Nice ****!'.

Maybe you might say "Woah! Nice ****!" to a girl. But please don't project that kind of behavior onto everyone else as though it's a common-to-us-all thing that "we" all do. In my entire twenty-nine years of life, in all the low and high rolls of my personal d20, in all the natural 1s I've gotten, in all the horrible, horrible Diplomacy failures I've made, I have never even once said anything remotely like that to a girl.

We can sometimes make mistakes and say things we don't mean to, yes. That is one possible way to describe a failed check. But just because a character might theoretically say something they didn't intend does not in any way, shape or form mean that there aren't plenty of things that a given character simply wouldn't say, even on the lowest possible roll. There are such things, and what they are will vary from character to character.

A GM can say the Diplomacy attempt succeeded or failed based on the die roll, thus enforcing the mechanical penalty for the dumped stat. But not only is it an overreach to try and wrest control of a PC's characterization from their player, to try and dictate to them what flavors of Diplomacy-failure (out of all the countless ways there are to fail) are in-character and out-of-character for their own character, I can't even comprehend why a GM would WANT to overrule a players wishes in such a way if they've made them known to him.

What kind of thoughts are even going through a GM's head when a player wants to have their old Elf Wizard's Charisma failures be due to, say... dry academic pedantic-ness that bores people to tears and causes them to make excuses to go elsewhere, but the GM turns around and says "Nope! You failed the roll, which means I get to decide your PC's characterization now! You blurt out 'Woah! Nice ****!'"

mdt wrote:
If you speak at the table in honeyed words that your character doesn't know, you are setting the terms for any debate over what happened. If the GM says you tick the NPC off, you retaliate with 'what could she possibly be upset about? I didn't say anything she could get that upset over'.

Well, no, none of my players have ever tried to pull this on me... and I know exactly what I'd say in the hypothetical event that one of them did. The exact same thing that Anzyr pointed out.

"Oh, it wasn't what you said at all! It was how you said it. You said exactly what you told me you said... but to the waitress you were trying to pick up she perceived it as being smarmy/creepy, or the troops you were trying to rally perceived it as forced and uninspiring. As evidenced by, you know, the 4 you rolled on top of your total -2 modifier."

mdt wrote:
I will return to my question, which nobody wants to answer honestly. If you want to play James Bond, why are you building Maxwell Smart on your character sheet?

If you build Maxwell Smart on your character sheet you won't be able to play James Bond, because you'll keep failing the associated rolls.

But I would have a very serious problem if I built a character that I intended to play as Maxwell Smart, a bumbling but good-hearted dope who tries to act suave but usually isn't unless the dice really favor him... and the GM tried to tell me that, no, it's not enough that you just failed the roll, I also get to say that because you failed the roll, you're not playing a bumbling good-hearted dope anymore, you just called that woman a "sugar****".

I'll take my lumps for failed rolls when I fail them. But don't try to tell me that the GM gets to decide that the way my 7 CHA manifests is by referring to women with obscenities.

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mdt wrote:
The problem I have with Anzyr's method is that the player is playing against his character. The player's using honeyed words, speaking diplomatically, and using phrases that given the character has no skill ranks in diplomacy and a natural ability that works against it. That's not 'roleplaying my character' that's 'I'll do whatever I want and only get the benefits but none of the downsides'.

What "benefits", exactly, is the player getting from what Anzyr describes? The roll is still the same. The chance of success or failure is still the same. The only "benefit" I can see the player getting is the ability to frame the reason for their failure in a way that is more palatable to them on a purely personal level. Is that really so troubling to you, to give players even just the freedom to RP their failure as they see fit?

What is so horrifying about a player wanting to, say, flavor their 7 CHA as your character being, say for example, "extremely insecure around people, geekish, horrible in social situations, maybe with a bad stutter, but still a very nice and kind person at heart"? Why shouldn't a player be able to attribute his increased chance to fail at leading troops or picking up a girl to that reason, if that's the sort of character he wants to play?

Why would that need to get thrown out the window in the name of reducing this supposed "benefit" to them? Why are they're not punished enough for taking that stat penalty unless the GM can step in and say that the character they wanted to play as a kind, terminally-awkward bookworm really said "Hey sugar****, you been boffing any red-headed guys with scars on their cheeks lately?"

Dazzling Display does have some advantages that set it apart from the other AoE Demoralize approaches. Dirge of Doom, as you say, does stop Inspire Courage. Blistering Invective is language-dependent, which removes one of the big benefits of Demoralize as a debuff; its ability to target a wide range of creatures, and get around quite a few resistances, whereas BI is much more limited.

You can totally Dazzling Display the pack of Dire Wolves that are ambushing the party from every direction. But they'll shrug off Blistering Invective to no effect whatsoever.

And of course, Dazzling Display doesn't burn spell slots or performance rounds.

Now, whether that's enough to outweigh the other factors you point out is a different question, but I just thought I'd mention that it does have some other advantages that make it not compare quite so badly as that, even for a Bard.

ciretose wrote:

I find that the classes that can use them against the things they will work on aren't all that scared of a single AoO.

A barbarian isn't going to worry about provoking a AoO if it grapples a wizard, for example.

Not so much on its own terms, maybe, but the margins for Combat Maneuvers as the levels go up are tight enough that eating the extra penalty to the CMB check for taking damage from the AoO will likely ruin your attempt anyway. Even if you can technically survive it without too much problem, it becomes a wasted action, and you still take the chip damage. Sure, you might be able to gamble on the Wizard not being able to hit your AC at all, and depending on the wizard that could go different ways, but anything worth hitting with, say, a disarm is most likely going to stand a pretty decent chance of hitting you with their highest BaB, and you're pretty likely to lose your Maneuver if they do.

Zombieneighbours wrote:
Like for like on intelligence, they only break even at 6th level. That is a sizable chunk of the game that the rogue beat the bard on skill, and that is before you take into account that rogues focusing as a skill monkey can relatively easily boost their int at creation(points that really cannot be spared by the bard who need Dex, Str and Cha already)

And the Rogue wouldn't need to pump their other stats? Unless by "focusing as a skill monkey" you mean a Rogue who resolves their MAD issues by being ONLY a skill monkey? In which case one would think you ought to compare to a Bard who also chooses to be "focusing as a skill monkey" as a Bard? And for such a Bard I don't see a reason why the Bard couldn't pump INT just as easily.

And the funny part is that (on top of everything else) even that "focusing as a skill monkey" Bard would still probably be more useful in combat than the "focusing as a skill monkey" Rogue. The Bard can always Inspire Courage, and lay down buffs, and since pumping CHA is important for a lot of the most important skills a skill monkey will be using anyway, they'll be at least decent casters too.

In the end, Bards are a bit behind on skill points, but can use Versatile Performance to catch up, and get WAY better synergy between "boosting CHA for Diplomacy/Bluff/Intimidate/Use Magical Device" and "combat effectiveness". They can even use Versatile Performance swap certain other skills to work off their high stat, and effectively pull in a couple new class skills if they see fit. If they really want to make it ridiculous they can also use VP to double-count any Skill Focuses or Prodigy feats they take on their VP skills. And with Ultimate Campaign and the retraining rules, you can now even get back any points "lost" to the replaced skills.

I think, in the end, it comes down to the sort of campaign you're running. If you're doing protracted dungeon crawls with a whole lot of disarming magical traps, then the impact of Trapfinding could potentially make itself felt over and above what the Bard could bring to the table, even if they took the trait to make DD a class skill. On the other hand, if you're running an intrigue campaign with lots of opportunities for social skills, then I'd expect a Bard to pretty much obliterate the Rogue in the role of skill monkey.

And in either case, I'd put my money on the skill-focused Bard contributing more to the combats than the skill-focused Rogue, on the whole.

mdt wrote:
claymade wrote:

(Well, that, and also making the more general point that trying to map hypothesized population demographics onto our own world really shouldn't overrule what we see from the actual mechanical/described aspects of the effect dumping stats actually entails, as a general principle.)

Except, if we're strictly just doing dice rolling, and roleplay doesn't really come into it, why the heck are we bothering? I can play video game RPGs if I just want some dice rolls.

The only reason I play is the roleplaying. If it's just a dry recitation of what goes on, and some die rolls, and more dry recitation, then it's boring.

And if the numbers don't mean anything, other than the die rolls, again, why bother with them. I can get the same level of play from WoW.

Huh? How did you get "roleplay doesn't really come into it" out of what I said?

Roleplay! Roleplay as much as you want! All I'm saying is that if a player is trying to determine how to roleplay, if a player is trying to determine what that modifier to their stat actually means in terms of its severity... then it makes perfect sense for them to keep said roleplay consistent with its mechanical effect, and with how the fluff describes it as well. They're still roleplaying, just doing that roleplay in a way such that there's no disconnect between said roleplay and the mechanics when they do come in.

If their roleplay is within the ballpark of what the fluff and mechanics describe the stat effect as actually being, I don't think those players should be told they're doing it wrong based on an attempted statistical population model of Golarion, whether using the NPC stat array, or whatever other method. That's my point.

mdt wrote:
I don't think anyone in the thread said someone with a 7 IQ had to be 'Ugh, Thac Smash!'.

We've had, in this very thread, contention that simply being a tool-using animal with a total vocabulary in the whole dozens of words ought to be an INT 6. (i.e. higher than Homer) We've also had doubting whether an INT dumper should even be able to do things like maneuver to avoid attacks of opportunity in combat, effectively utilize flanking, and time their attacks to take advantage of it.

I realize not everyone holds to that degree of it. And it's a squiggly, imprecise, subjective spectrum to adjudicate any way you look at it. I'm just trying to give some context as to how the books actually describe various increments, and to point out that it's really not nearly so bad as it's often portrayed as.

(Well, that, and also making the more general point that trying to map hypothesized population demographics onto our own world really shouldn't overrule what we see from the actual mechanical/described aspects of the effect dumping stats actually entails, as a general principle.)

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Ahhhhhh, this old argument again...

I am of the opinion that it's good to roleplay your stats... but I'm also pretty convinced that the "required" actual usual effects of a normal buy-down just aren't as severe as people often make them out to be. As was mentioned upthread, the stereotypical "Village Idiot" isn't an INT 7, he's an INT 4, and even that INT 4, if you look at the NPC's writeup, is still described as being functional, though significantly impaired. He's capable of hunting food for himself, handling odd jobs, and finding secrets to guide the PCs to as a Boon out of gratitude.

That's what INT 4 human looks like.

Similarly, look at the description text for the Dwarf racial modifiers. They describe their effects in the following way: "+2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, –2 Charisma: Dwarves are both tough and wise, but also a bit gruff." So if you took a -2 to your CHA of your own accord on your Human, it makes no sense to me that you couldn't flavor your roleplay in the same way. "The roleplay effect of that -2 on my character is just that, well, he's a bit gruff with people, and that accounts for the penalties to the rolls." Doesn't have to be that he's some can't-take-him-out-in-public guy who picks his nose and breaks wind as loud as he can. Just... a bit gruff.

Which only makes sense. Mechanically, if you were trying to ask that someone go out with you, even a 7 CHA is not, for instance, someone who could never, ever get a date. Rather--whatever the Diplomacy DC is for making that particular request of someone--the effect of their lowered CHA is that they're someone who has, on average, a mere 10% less chance of walking away with a new S.O. than a normal everyday Jane or Joe would have, all else being equal. 7 CHA could be the nerdy, uncertain-of-himself bookworm that almost always stumbles over his words trying to talk with people, but could still very well end up getting along with people if he got past his shyness once or twice and managed to get his words across right, or they had other reasons to see past that (situational modifiers).

People can argue all they want about whether the NPC array is a physical law for the vast majority of Golarionites born, or whether they actually roll 3d6, or 4d6, or whatever, and how that pertains to the actual population distribution, and what percentage of NPCs in Golarion's total population distribution are created using those rules or through GM fiat like the Village Idiot is an example of. There are no answers to these questions, but even if there were, it wouldn't actually change how an INT 4 is described as playing out, or what the mechanical effects of a 7 CHA are.

(Taking the above to an extreme: Assume, as a thought experiment, that it could be shown that 95% of Golarionites had an INT that was greater than 14. That wouldn't mean that INT 10 is now someone who couldn't tie their shoelaces, since we can see in the NPC writeup that even INT 4 characters can do stuff like that. Rather, you'd have simply proved that the population in Golarion skews significantly smarter than our world, and that they don't map to each other. The stat distribution simply doesn't override either the mechanical or the described effects of the different stat values themselves.)

In short, yes, your INT 7 guy is going to be quite on the dense side, and I certainly wouldn't roleplay him as coming up with any elaborate plans or intricate, thirty-two-step schemes, but there's really no reason you should feel compelled by anyone to play him at a "Thog no like you" level of cognitive disability either, unless you want to.

Alexander Augunas wrote:
Be a paladin. Anything immune to fear, emotion effects, or mind-affecting abilities is immune to demoralize attempts.

Actually, Intimidate is not described as a mind-affecting ability anywhere that I'm aware of, unless there's something I'm missing.

Which makes sense. After all, when you demoralize, you're not trying to muck around with the target's brain-meats to directly, artificially create the emotion. What you're doing is simply creating an actual situation in the outside world, a situation where that fear would come to the target naturally.

The only way to be flat-out immune to Demoralize is to be simply immune to feeling fear in any kind of scary situation, fundamentally speaking.

Gauss wrote:
Personally, I think the Demoralize builds have shown a critical weakness in Demoralize. It is just too easy to cripple an entire group of enemies. I think I may have to discuss houserules with my groups.

I don't think the issue is so much in the Demoralize skill itself, as much as an issue with things like the Thug archetype, which provide a way to get around the usual "no possible way to use Demoralize's shaken to get Frightened" restriction. The core of Demoralize is just a rather pedestrian debuff that is of questionable action-economy worth on its own; it's only when you gain a way to possibly upgrade the condition that it becomes really amazing.

And even that I don't actually think counts as "broken". Is it very, very good? Heck yes! And I'm glad that martials can actually get something like that, another flavorful option that doesn't fall by the wayside at mid-to-high levels, fits with their theme, and isn't just "hit it with a stick".

I think it pays for being much easier to land by also being less effective; its harder to resist than say, a wizard spell, but it isn't the sort of complete encounter-ender that a lot of wizard spells can be either. If it allowed a comparable save for a significantly lesser effect, it'd be just another lackluster option that you should eschew in favor of being a beatstick.

As it stands, you can definitely disrupt the opponents action economy and positioning, but it won't end the fight like a wizard can. Sure, they might end up fleeing for a round, but they don't need to be stupid about it; the frightened description says it flees "as best it can". I'd assume that includes Withdraw actions (so as not to provoke if you're in AoO range) or Run actions (to get out of PC charge range if you're not).

And since Thug's version of frightened only lasts a single round they'll be coming back again next turn, with a +5 DC on the Intimidate check each time you use it. It's not something you can use to keep them Fright-locked permanently; that +5 for subsequent attempts within an hour will add up pretty fast.

I actually love the build, to be honest. It's an admittedly powerful option for martial classes that synergizes with giving them social options as well, an option that has to be used fairly tactically, measuring when the optimal time to make use of it is to mess with the enemy positioning.

To the OP, for GM strategies to counter, I'd suggest that the key won't be so much "stating the enemies so that they can usually just tank the intimidate effect and make it just a no-sell" but rather "making enemies respond to being demoralized in the best way."

1) Definitely make sure to track all the +5 DC increases. This will make it less attractive to just use willy-nilly.

2) Even Frightened creatures will fight if cornered, and they literally can't run. Fights in tight quarters might not see all THAT much difference between Frightened and Shaken, and Shaken just isn't all that much in the broad scheme of things.

3) Have the NPCs use all their options, even when frightened, to flee effectively, so as not to expose themselves to AoOs or set themselves up for PC counterattack. This may include even foes that you didn't frighten falling back temporarily as well. Yeah, you've bought yourself a turn, but if the keep their formation regardless the unfrightened NPCs can set themselves up to try and make you pay for attempting to exploit the frightened ones.

In the end, I think it comes down to tactics more than stats.

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mdt wrote:
If you can't tell yet, I tend to get on my own high horse when people try to go to extremes and then tell others that they are doing it wrong. Different people can have different styles, and that's fine. But I don't particularly like the idea of someone proclaiming 'the one true way'. :) It sticks in my craw. Too many religious people telling me that when I was young (and none of them agreeing on the 'one true way'). :)

I apologize if it sounded like I was going to kick down your door and try to force you to stop playing your game the way you wanted to; that wasn't my intention.

As I've said before, I'm not claiming your games aren't fun, or that you're wrong to enjoy them. But making arguments for what we each think is good advice for a GM isn't the same as saying that you are obligated to follow it, or else.

It's like (to use a much more extreme example) if I were to make a post outlining how in my campaigns I have an NPC who's seven levels higher than the PCs, constantly keeps an eye on them, and comes in to bail them out if it ever looks like they're getting in over their heads, and I asked whether the forumites thought that was a good idea as a GM. I bet a lot of posters would reply that they don't think it's a very good idea and that they wouldn't enjoy playing in such a campaign.

But but but! If my players are enjoying it, and I'm enjoying it, who do these forumites think they are to tell me what I'm doing is badwrongfun?! I could fire back to their posts with the same quote you used: "You can play and run however you want. Others who disagree with you are not doing it wrong however."

And that's true. Heck, depending on my precise tastes, and the precise tastes of my players, it could even theoretically hurt the fun of the table to remove the guardian NPC. And of course, it's certainly within the "rights" of the GM to have their "setting" such that there are NPCs of whatever level they chose, acting as the GM thinks they would.

But when I post something like that in a discussion forum and ask for people's opinions on it, I'd still expect those opinions to include "I don't think your DMPC is very good DMing style, and if I was playing at your table I'd try to convince you the change things so the super-powerful guy isn't holding our hand anymore."

In the same way, yes. I am making the case that, in my opinion, being flatly unwilling to change any decided detail of the setting (before the campaign starts) in response to player feedback is something that will tend to (in general, may vary from table to table) result in less "net fun" than the table might otherwise have had.

If you're convinced that's not the case with your table, I don't think it's "wrong" for you to run it that way. But in terms of discussing GMing practice and theory as a whole, I would still argue the above point, in the general sense. In the same sense that I would argue "I don't think higher-level DMPCs are, in general, a very good idea for DMs to use either".

(To be clear: I'm not saying that I think the approach you're describing is "as bad" as the DMPC example. Even in my view I agree that it's a relatively smaller thing in comparison. I'm just using it as an example of how "debating about GMing techniques you advocate to others, and styles of GMing you enjoy" can be a valid thing without necessarily meaning "you're having badwrongfun if you enjoy anything else!")

mdt wrote:
So, no setting should ever be fixed enough to have any limitations, since all settings must have flexibility enough to handle all conceivable character concepts?

No, that is not what I'm suggesting. When I DM, my own worlds certainly do have various fixed limitations (within the context of the world itself). There are certain character concepts that would not be possible, etc.

But, if a character came to me (before the campaign started) asking to play something that those limitations invalidated, I would be willing to consider changing those limitations I came up with into different in-world-fixed limitations. It's not that I play in the sort of world you construe me as wanting, with "no overarching theme or coherence". I am simply willing to make alterations to what that (coherent) theme is in the process of getting it ready for the players to step into it at the start of the campaign.

Nor am I saying that the DM is absolutely obliged to grant every request to change their setting. But what I am saying is this: that a GM who entirely refuses any request at all that would require a change their setting, solely on the basis of it being their setting, is, IMHO, setting themselves up for potential missed opportunities that could have increased overall table fun. As such, it's my earnest suggestion to GMs that they be willing to take a second look at such opportunities.

'Cause, speaking as someone who has GMed significantly more than he's played, having the willingness to do that can lead to way cooler places than just my "original" setting, if not "sullied" by player input, would have taken us.

(Everything I've said does apply equally to players too, of course. If you're talking things out, negotiating, and the GM is holding fast on various particular points, it's every bit as much a good thing for you to be willing to take a second look at your character and see how attached you really are to the parts that are in contention. I don't advocate players considering their character backstory sacrosanct and unopen to any compromise any more than I do GMs considering their setting unopen to any compromise. Quite the contrary, the more compromising everyone is willing to do on the small details, the better it works out for everyone.)

Why is it you get to decide what is a 'small detail'?

I'm not saying that the players can just unilaterally decide what is a small detail, but that doesn't change the fact that there are going to be small details. And medium-sized ones too.

To continue the Druid example, if it is the case that the fact that RAW Druids can't possibly exist in your setting actually was absolutely crucial to a huge plot twist that the whole campaign turned on, and would be crucial to that major level 10 quest that you thought would be super-awesome for the characters to experience, then granted, that is not a small detail.

So when I (as a player at your table whose sympathies, like I said, would tend to lie with the guy who wants to play the Druid in a situation like that) come to you, and I'm saying "Hey, man, are you really sure you couldn't cut Bill some slack? He really wants to play a Druid and if you just let him approach it this way, you could totally justify him being their without any problem", then if it is such a crucial facet of the setting, yeah. Totally push back on me.

That's how that inter-personal negotiation stuff goes.

But I also know that sometimes, those conflicting details aren't always all that terribly crucial. Sometimes there's an easy way to work it so that the change doesn't destroy the epic quest you were going to send them once they hit level 10. Sometimes, just being willing to take that second look at it, without committing to anything, will show you ways that the precise detail barring the player is actually not that hard at all to work around.

And I know that being willing to work with your players, to engage in back-and-forth on hashing out things like that, has made the "final product" campaign world a lot more fun and engaging for everyone in the times I've engaged in it.

So that's why I'm an advocate for being willing to do so.

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GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Lincoln Hills wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Is it about a game of Numbers and Optimization or a game about Storyline(s) and Adventuring the depths of dungeons and hideouts?
In honesty, as much as some of the optimizers here irk me, I must acknowledge that if they were not fans of heroic fantasy they'd be playing something else. An optimization-minded player wants tons of player options and stackable modifiers so that he can create [the most powerful possible version of] the exact character concept in his mind. Because d20 sets up the possibility of failing a lot more often than heroes of fiction,...
The best advice for GMs nearly eliminates this. Quite simply, always fail forward. Lots of movies have heros that are constantly failing individual details or making mistakes but yet they succeed anyway. A failed roll is just an opportunity for an interesting plot twist.

Depends on your group, though. Some groups will feel "coddled" and resentful if even their failures just end up taking them forward anyway, regardless of what they did or how well. Takes away from their sense of realism, and more importantly, of accomplishment when they do succeed.

Some groups will want to failure to have the real potential, if the failure happens badly enough and in the wrong place, of not going forward, and indeed, of going nowhere except six feet into the ground for all concerned. (Though they also want to do their best to avoid that failure actually occurring.)

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mdt wrote:

Extremism I see. I didn't say, 'you can only have one druid god'. I said 'Druids get their powers from their deity' in this setting. Not 'from that god', but from 'their' god. There are several deities that can be a druid's god in the setting, about a third of the 27 gods and demigods.

There is a point between 'no god' and 'only one god'. You skipped right past it.

Ah, I see the misunderstanding. I wasn't saying that there was only one choice the Druids had to chose from. When I talked about the Druids being dependent on a particular deity, I didn't mean that every Druid had to be dependent on the same particular deity, just contrasting being dependent on a specific, particular deific entity giving them their powers rather than the "primal magics" of Nature itself that the CRB describes them as having access to.

So yeah, to be more clear, it's that to add a houserule that the Druid class needs an actual, particular deific entity backing them (even if that entity can be different for each Druid) in a campaign taking place on a continent where the gods aren't in play, strikes me as needlessly un-fun.

mdt wrote:
So, we're back to the GM being the second tier, and his preferences are secondary to everyone elses.

No, that's... not at all what I said. I said that the assumption is generally that the GM doesn't specifically want you to not play your class, but rather that the class not being available is in most cases a secondary side effect of how he wants his campaign to be like. Thus, if there's a way that you can find to make the class work, to reconcile it to the important details without compromising the parts the GM is himself particularly geeked about, then everyone can get what they most want.

But to the extent that the GM takes the hard line out of the gate, that the setting itself absolutely will not change, that it's inviolate in all respects even in small details, just by virtue of being THE SETTING, then the chances for that kind of happy compromise being able to happen are correspondingly reduced. I personally think that's a... less than optimal approach in terms of generating table fun, and not something I would suggest to any GM.

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mdt wrote:
claymade wrote:

But its when you combine, for example, houseruling the Druid class to make them dependent on a particular deity AND removing all deities from play that just comes across as a passive-agressive way of banning/nerfing Druids while hiding behind the "demands" of the storyline.
Since I at no point advocated or said I did anything like that, I will assume it is a purely rhetorical example, and agree with you. Or at least, agree that it's unlikely many will play druids unless the god happens to be one they'd like anyway.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding, then. If you didn't houserule in a requirement for Druids to have a specific deity give them their powers, and your Druids can get their powers straight from Nature itself like they do in the CRB, then why would they be unable to do exactly that on the continent where the forces of the gods aren't in play?

mdt wrote:
We can also ask 'Why is everything the player wants on the table, but things the GM doesn't want are off the table and the GM must adjust?'. Why is the first more important than the second?

It's not that the things the DM doesn't want are completely off the table; they're open to negotiation like everything else. If they're enjoyed by the other players, cool.

Still, to your point, I think part of the reason the "active" desires are percieved as tending to be more important is because "wanting to be able to do something" and "wanting everyone else not to be able to do something" are things we treat differently in our perceptions.

It's the difference between saying "I really like the Lawful Good alignment, so I want to play it" and saying "I really don't like the Lawful Good alignment, so I don't want anyone in the party to play it."

"Not being able to play a class I really wanted to play" would make me sadder than "someone else getting to play a class I really didn't want them to play".

In fact, part of the reason for the disconnect is probably giving the GM the benefit of the doubt. The player wants to play the class as a first-tier priority. They want to play the class because they want to play the class. We assume that this is not the case for the GM, that it's a second-tier priority. We assume they don't want to ban/nerf Clerics because they don't want the player to play a Cleric, they want to ban/nerf Clerics (we assume) because they want to have a campaign whose setting is, say for instance, a continent abandoned by the gods.

Since we assume it's a second-tier priority, that opens the door more to workarounds in that direction, that allow both the actual first tier priorities for both the player and the GM to be fulfilled, if they're willing to compromise. To use your own example, a GM can find a reason for the Barbarian to show up, even if the immediate environment is highly civilized, as long as their first-tier priority isn't simply "no Barbarians" but rather "highly civilized environment as setting". Conan went into some pretty civilized environments, IIRC.

mdt wrote:
That is, per the class ability, up to the GM. Oh look, GM says clerics can't do that (to further differentiate them from Oracles) because the gods say 'If you are a cleric, you must worship us'. Done.

Kirth made the salient point here. It's not that the GM "can't" say that Clerics depend on a deity, or that Druids depend on a deity, or that Rangers depend on a deity or any other divine caster. The GM can spin whatever setting they want, if they can get player buy-in. In most settings, players would probably find that unobjectionable flavor. Heck, the GM "could" say that in their setting, Barbarian Rage had a divine component.

But its when you combine, for example, houseruling the Druid class to make them dependent on a particular deity AND removing all deities from play that just comes across as a passive-agressive way of banning/nerfing Druids while hiding behind the "demands" of the storyline.

That, to me, feels like a pretty far cry from compromise, when there are obvious methods provided right in the CRB itself to harmonize "the story-plot-situation with respect to the gods" and "the player's desire to play the class they want" such that they both work and are feasible, without any nerfs required.

mdt wrote:

Oracles are not required follow a god, and do not derive their powers from one even if they do follow one.

Witches receive their powers from a patron, which is not a god (see description).

Both Druids and Clerics receive their powers from one specific god.

Actually, according to the class description, the Oracles explicitly do derive their powers from the gods, which is necessary because the whole, entire point is that they were chosen by something outside them, potentially even against their will. They don't need to like said gods that they get their powers from, but that's a different question. They're the one divine casting class that isn't given the option of getting their divine mojo from generic, impersonal forces.

The Cleric, for their part, is stated in the CRB as being able to devote themselves to a divine concept instead of a deity, and the Druids get their powers from Nature itself and its "primal magics". The only way for "no-Druids-even-possible" to make sense is if in addition to no deities that continent had "no Nature" whatsoever on it... whatever that even means.

So according to the class descriptions, the divine casting class that specifically requires deities to be behind the power is the Oracle. Clerics can go either way, and Druids inherently get their mojo from primal nature forces.

Sure, you can turn around and alter the class details as well so they don't work the way they're described, and thus keep the class unplayable, but at that point the excuse of "oh no, it's not that I want to kibosh your class choice, the larger story I want to tell just happened to require kiboshing it by virtue of what's happening with the gods and stuff" starts to wear preeeeeetty thin.

If the GM is so inflexible as to not even allow such an small compromise as "okay, if you really want to play a Druid, then sure, I'll let you play a Druid who gets their power from Nature itself, which is how the CRB says it works anyway" then that's... not a GMing call I'd be very impressed with. Not saying they're necessarily a "bad GM" overall, or that the campaign can't be good regardless, but my sympathies would probably side with the player were I an onlooker in that particular exchange.

Marthkus wrote:
137ben wrote:
Marthkus wrote:
Lotion wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
In fact, the balor's best bet is to keep retreating out of range of the monk and let him charge, then deliver AoO's (he has 20' reach - three AoO's - and the monk can't use Acrobatics on a charge, but the fighter can use Lunge and his reach weapon to reduce the AoOs to one) and single strikes against the monk's reduced AC, while the monk only gets one AoO and one strike, both on 3/4 BAB. The fighter gets only two hits as well, but he does it on his full BAB.

Don't want to get too into this anymore, but I'd just like to comment:

Moving out of more than one square threatened by the same opponent in the same round doesn't count as more than one opportunity for that opponent.

Yep you need mythic powers to strike an opponent with more than 1 AOO per round anyways.
Combat Reflexes is a core, nonmythic feat available from level 1 with no prerequisites.

False, you need mythic combat reflexes to "As a swift action expend one use of mythic power to, until the start of your next turn, make attacks of opportunity against foes you've already made attacks of opportunity against this round if they provoke attacks of opportunity from you by moving"

The feat also gives you unlimited AOOs per round.

The CRB disagrees with you.

CRB wrote:
Combat Reflexes and Additional Attacks of Opportunity: If you have the Combat Reflexes feat, you can add your Dexterity bonus to the number of attacks of opportunity you can make in a round. This feat does not let you make more than one attack for a given opportunity, but if the same opponent provokes two attacks of opportunity from you, you could make two separate attacks of opportunity (since each one represents a different opportunity). Moving out of more than one square threatened by the same opponent in the same round doesn't count as more than one opportunity for that opponent.

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Tacticslion wrote:

I'd not say anyone - GM or players - are being jerks about anything at all, though they're all being a little - very little - inflexible in their view. The players (understandably) are being more so than the GM, however Player A has a pretty decent case for "this should work", Player B has a decent case for "great idea hampered by arbitrary mechanics" (from their perspective), and Player C is just being a teensy bit silly.

The GM's inflexibility comes from the hard work and focus he's placed into a campaign and has developed the concepts for. It's entirely understandable. It's even rather reasonable. His only flaw is not exercising or holding enough creative license to accommodate them. Which, really, is a flaw most GMs share to some degree or another. It comes from being mortal. Their inflexibility doesn't make them a bad GM.

Agreed. The players could definitely stand to be more polite in how they're voicing their own desires for the campaign, but what's fundamentally going on here is pretty much exactly what should happen in situations like this. They're negotiating. They're working it out. They're trying to find a compromise that will make the most people enjoy the campaign, including (but not limited to) the GM.

Like I said earlier in the thread, the more willing that players are to compromise on changing the details of their characters, and the more willing that GMs are to compromise on changing the details of their settings, the more opportunities there are for maximizing the fun of everyone involved.

Sissyl wrote:
So... I ask the players if they have interest in playing a forest themed campaign about why the elves disappeared, including restrictions on race and such (no elves), and if they agree, then whine about it, they are the problem, not me. YMMV. I honestly don't care.

Perfectly reasonable. Checking ahead of time with the players like you're describing is exactly the sort of thing that has been suggested to avoid the kind of campaign-expectation conflicts, and allow the kind of long-term planning you desire without losing all ability to take the players' desires into account as well. If the players agree, and then go back on what they said after the GM put in all the work, then of course they're being unreasonable.

Whereas, correspondingly, if they do voice their opinions at the outset that a bunch of the players want to play elves, and then the GM goes and writes his specifically-no-elves campaign anyway, even knowing that, then that, in turn, would strike me as rather jerkish and contrarily-dictatorial on his part.

It's not a question of changing the campaign details "at a moment's notice". That isn't at all necessary, simply in order to work player input into the kind of campaign they'd enjoy playing.

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Tacticslion wrote:
Ugh. There goes my Dragon Age play time while my toddler sleeps...

Great Scott, man! What are you doing still in a quagmire like this thread while there's a great game like Dragon Age to be played?

Save yourself! It's too late for me; I've already failed too many Swim checks...


DM_Blake wrote:
But I am absolutely sure that, had we done it the traditional way, being a slave to the alignment he wrote on his sheet and tracking deeds incrementally, with me changing his alignment and informing him of the changes at the time I felt his deeds justified an alignment change, we would have had exactly the same half hour debate.

Just to clarify, I wasn't in any way taking issue with your improvement to the whole "tracking incrementally" bit, or your approach of you being the one to make the call based on your own appraisal. That all sounds super-awesome.

The only part I though might be worth a discussion was just the whole "when do they find out they're now X alignment?" question, because, like I mentioned, I had recent personal experience with exactly that kind of inner-motive/outer-action apparent disconnect, and if the discussion is going to happen, I'd rather not be doing it based on our respective memories of three months back. But even that, I agree, there's things to be said on both sides, just giving my own experience of it.

And I agree that Lincoln Hills' suggestion about doing it post-session is a very good one as well.

(Actually, Monks, now that I think some more about it, are the ones that has the capacity to bite more than anyone. At least with Paladins and Barbarians the feedback loop is pretty short, and you can go hunting for an Atonement spell or some such immediately. With Monks, the first time you hit one of those extrinsic, environmental factors that let you realize that you're no longer Lawful might very easily be when you hit the next level and you find out you aren't able to take a Monk level for that level up.)

DM_Blake wrote:
As they play, I evaluate their behavior and mentally assign an alignment to them based on what their characters do and how they behave, not what the players wrote on their sheets. And it almost never matters anyway. But if someone who always or even usually behaves in evil ways finds a holy sword and picks it up, he's going to lose a level, even if his character sheet says he's neutral or good.

The one advantage to making alignment shifts an up-front and discussed thing is that it reduces unpleasant surprises that can be based around different interpretations of motives.

For instance, my Bard is Neutral Good, someone who's primarily concerned with helping people and saving lives, and doesn't much care whether he's breaking or keeping laws in the process of doing so. One of the people I play with (a Chaotic Good player) once recently expressed disbelief that my alignment was not Lawful Good, since I'd been fairly consistently trying to curtail or do damage control for his shenanigans in bucking authority in the city we were in. Which, yeah, I guess you could interpret as a long string of Lawful actions, looking at it from the outside as another player (or GM).

Thing was, my character didn't give 2cp about the laws, he was trying to mitigate that stuff because there were a LOT of people's lives at stake, and the cooperation of the authorities was pretty crucial to what we were planning to try and protect them.

Having an actual "shift moment" out in the open does have the advantage of bringing out any discussion as to different viewpoints on the issue while the events in question are still fresh in mind, and you're not suddenly arguing about a shift the DM made ten sessions ago based predominantly on events that you don't remember the exact details of as well anymore when you suddenly find out that Anarchic arrows are doing an extra 2d6 of damage to you...

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Arssanguinus wrote:
claymade wrote:
Arssanguinus wrote:
Dragons and elves don't have even anything close to remotely the same flavor and implications to them.

And...? Neither do LotR-style-elves and gnomes.

Yes, a dragon campaign will have a somewhat different "flavor" to it (though the degree of that difference will depend on how I, with my omnipotent GM powers, flavor my universe's version of dragons, and how I planned to flavor my elves). But I like dragons too, in different ways. And if I, hypothetically speaking, hadn't liked dragons, I could have used something else I did.

Plus, I've made my LotR-lover-elf-crazed player happy, in a way I couldn't have done if I'd considered that kind of change to my world's "immutable" parameters flatly off the table.

I consider that a definite GMing win.

Somewhat? Vastly.

"Your elf is now a dwarf"

Whether it's a vast difference in flavor or small, the point is that because the DM in the story was willing to tell the elf-crazy player that he didn't have to go through with his (despondent) offer to play a gnome, and instead decided to change one of the "immutable" constants of his world, replacing one thing the DM liked with something else that the DM also liked, it means that there will be a net "overall fun quotient" gain around that particular table.

Now are there situations where the DM doing that for the player would be a bad idea, and instead reduce the net "overall fun quotient" of the table instead? Of course! But if the DM has already made up his mind that explicit decisions he's made about the world are flatly "immutable", before even considering changes to it in light of player desires, or how changes might affect the "overall fun quotient" of the table or not, then the ability to generate that kind of "net fun gain" is correspondingly off the table.

Doesn't mean the "take-it-or-leave-it" approach can't work. Doesn't mean the sessions can't be fun. Doesn't even mean that the issue will even come up as long as you have the right group of people.

But the DM who can do that, who can exercise that level of flexibility, is capable of generating those kind of "net fun gains". Which I hold as a win. It's a good skill for DMs to have. It's a good skill for players to have. The more flexible everyone is, the more leeway you'll have to find the most optimized possible "fun quotient" for everyone.

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Arssanguinus wrote:
Dragons and elves don't have even anything close to remotely the same flavor and implications to them.

And...? Neither do LotR-style-elves and gnomes.

Yes, a dragon campaign will have a somewhat different "flavor" to it (though the degree of that difference will depend on how I, with my omnipotent GM powers, flavor my universe's version of dragons, and how I planned to flavor my elves). But I like dragons too, in different ways. And if I, hypothetically speaking, hadn't liked dragons, I could have used something else I did.

Plus, I've made my LotR-lover-elf-crazed player happy, in a way I couldn't have done if I'd considered that kind of change to my world's "immutable" parameters flatly off the table.

I consider that a definite GMing win.

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Matthew Downie wrote:

"OK, and now Steve will introduce the next campaign."

"For two thousand years, elves ruled over all. Their mage-queens reigned for a century before abdicating to their chosen heir. Other races were tolerated, but had no say in government, nor were they permitted to enter the crystalline towers of the tree-shrouded elven cities. At last, the other races united in rebellion, and a terrible war began, one which wrought destruction across half the world. The feud grew more bitter and bloody by the year, until at last all elf life was destroyed. Now, three centuries later, a new civilisation has risen in the ashes of the old. You are part of an archaelogical survey team, sent to investigate whether the elves are truly extinct as most believe, or whether some dark and terrible remant remains, perhaps in the chasms below their desolate cities, alive or undead..."

"Sounds good. I'll play an elf."

"You really sure you need to do that, man? I was kinda assuming that there weren't going to be any elves in this campaign... though in retrospect I probably should have given you some heads up on that before I went and did a bunch of work on the idea, checked to see if you'd all be cool with that."

"That's cool, it's no big deal, I was just reeeeeeally psyched up because of the new Hobbit movies and I really, really, really love elves... but... *despondent sigh* if it's going to be that much extra work for you... I... guess I can be a gnome instead." *hangs head*

", no I really want you to have the funnest possible time with this, and I'm pretty sure I can actually make this work now that I've thought about it for a minute. I'll have to change the specifics of some of the encounter details later on, but most of that won't even start to hit until you reach the ruins at the very least; you've still got that trek ahead of you. Okay, taking it from the top."

"For two thousand years, dragons ruled over all. Their sorceror-wyrms reigned for a century before abdicating to their chosen heir. Other races were tolerated, but had no say in government, nor were they permitted to enter the craggy peaks of the draconic citadels. At last, the other races united in rebellion, and a terrible war began, one which wrought destruction across half the world. The feud grew more bitter and bloody by the year, until at last all dragon life was destroyed. Now, three centuries later, a new civilisation has risen in the ashes of the old. You are part of an archaelogical survey team, sent to investigate whether the dragons are truly extinct as most believe, or whether some dark and terrible remant remains, perhaps in the chasms below their desolate cities, alive or undead..."

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Arssanguinus wrote:
The length people will go to to insist players must always win is ridiculous ...

The point isn't that players must always win, it's that DM's don't ultimately have that "must always win" button any more than the players do.

It's that the idea that the setting rules out certain races does not automatically mean that the DM should under no circumstances rework that exclusion he'd baked into his world.

I can imagine situations where, if I were looking in on a conflict, I'd suggest to the player "are you really sure you couldn't budge on that? it sounds like you could get basically the same experience you're interested in by doing X, Y and Z instead, without making the DM shift things..."

I can imagine situations where, if I were looking in on a conflict, I'd suggest to the DM "are you really sure you couldn't budge on that? I know you specifically wrote Orcs out of your world, but Bob's really wanted to play one since forever, and he'll be moving to Alaska at the end of the year, so this'll be his last chance to game with us..."

It's not "the DM should always immediately bow to the players' wishes." It's not "the players should always immediately bow to the DM's wishes." At the end of the day, it's just resolving interpersonal conflict in a way that hopefully makes it the most fun for the most people.

And as frustrating as it can be to us nerds, there is no RAW for doing that.

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Democratus wrote:
Arssanguinus wrote:
Not a bit. But usually if I exclude something normal its heavily tied into the history and background' not jus tossed aside, and removing that, and all of its numerous side effects, is not some simple matter.

Exactly. And this comes back around to the issue of trust. I don't capriciously limit things in my campaign. There's a always a solid reason for it.

My players trust that I'm not building a campaign designed to ruin their fun.


It's all a matter of your history and level of trust with the folks at the table.

I've noticed that this idea of "trust" seems to be a very recurrent theme in your posts. Going along with the DM is taken as a sign of "trust", with the converse implication that the reason one would have to not want to go along is because of a lack of "trust".

Except that's just not at all necessarily the case. It's not that they think the banned race will result in worse stories, or that you did it to be mean. It's that they simply have other priorities.

The guy, mentioned upthread, who has invested a lot of time into building/painting his beloved goblin mini-figure, and is really, really geeked to play with it and doesn't want to have to put it into mothballs for however many months (or years) the current campaign runs for before he finally gets a chance to actually use it... that doesn't have anything to do with his trust in how good a story you'll tell.

The guy who's a furry, who roleplays in large part to have an outlet for his fetish, and who isn't interested in going months (or years) in the current campaign without being able to do that at all because his Kitsune are banned... that doesn't have anything to do with his trust in how good a story you'll tell.

Guys like me, who can't stomach RPing the things that straight-up Evil campaigns entail... that isn't because I think they'll be told with poor skill, it's because I don't like pretending to do nasty things to people, even imaginary ones. Which, again, wouldn't have anything to do with my trust in how good a story you'll tell either.

All of that stuff, the very stuff that got mentioned in previous posts as examples, pertain to issues that are irrespective of how good a storyteller they think the DM will be. Because the experience of a roleplaying game is something that is, in the end, significantly larger than just the story the DM has in mind, and the story the DM has in mind is not (humbling though it may be to us DMs) necessarily the most important part for every player.

Sure we as DMs can gnash our teeth and rage that the above three kinds of players are having BADWRONGFUN!!! for treating those other, supposedly less-important aspects of the roleplaying experience as more important to them than OUR wonderful story/world we've created. We can indeed ban them from our games, for not being the right kind of player.

That's not an approach I'd want to take myself, though.

Reducing it to "all a matter of your history and level of trust with the folks at the table" is missing the fact that it's not just about you and the abstract quality of your storytelling. People have many other reasons for showing up at the table, reasons which may not always correlate to the reasons of you or the people you typically game with.

And personally, should I even encounter one of them, I only hope that I would try and respect those differences as much as I can.

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TriOmegaZero wrote:
claymade wrote:
ven funnier if the rest of the world doesn't actually take on the same cartoonish ethos, and we're the only oddballs. So the forces of Good are used to dealing with the sort of actual, honestly-brutally-horrifying evil that Golarion has so much of... and then they come smack up against this group of complete and total loons who rant and rave about the power of Eeeeeeevil and their brilliant plans to take over the world by gathering all the MacGuffins and attaining Ultimate Cosmic Power... but who wouldn't actually be able to so much as kick the proverbial puppy should the opportunity present itself, and who'd probably throw in for an Enemy Mine should any of those aforementioned actual nasties show up and attack.
So they'd play the Amoeba Boys?

Pretty much, yeah. Or maybe a cross between the Amoeba Boys and Señor Senior, Senior.

Not that they couldn't be competent enough in their own way, just that "their way" would, when they tried to be "evil" involve fiendish deeds that were less along the lines of slaughtering and pillaging, and more along the lines of linking people directly to TV Tropes articles, thus ruining their productivity at whatever they were doing before.


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