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I could see a specialist being mitigated a bit by simply being wrong about some of his facts. Talk with your GM about making your understanding begin as incomplete but get more accurate over time.
And if you trust him or her, have them roll for you behind a screen. That way they can lie to you about the result and you can run with it. "This doesn't make any sense but the walls seem to have WRAITH written on them over and over."
Something that I failed to realize when asking this question myself:
APs assume you start off as a nobody and approach max level over the course of a year of real-life play.
In that light it may not make sense. For example...
How many characters actually survive those odds?
It might make more sense to approach each AP as a separate commitment.
But that's what I'm saying: What Ragathiel does or does not permit is irrelevant. The morality of your actions is not based on Ragathiel's code, but on a centralized code of alignment.
Because the entire world falls within that centralized code, so should the gods. When they don't, it means their fiction doesn't match the world. It's like fire being wet. It is obviously possible within the realm of imagination, just not in the ruleset we are all assumed to use.
Easiest fixes are along the lines of:
Change that god's alignment
But what you're describing is a flaw with the fiction surrounding the god, and not a flaw in the system itself. It doesn't require new rules to fix it, only more world-consistent fiction.
I don't want to dive too far into the deep end here, but isn't the stated purpose of the Pathfinders to go out and plunder other cultures? Comparisons to the Victoria era explorers are pretty apt. The problem being, most of that behavior was pretty evil. They profited off the ancestral relics of the people they were exploiting. Could they not have found as much gold in the tombs of their own ancestors?
Star Trek offers us a view of a more likeable PFS, because they don't loot and have a non-interference policy. They are a lot closer to neutral than Pathfinders are, and they are pretty benevolent. Unless I am missing something.
I think the "bring Sandpoint to life" stuff is a bit overstated, if you know how to read your players. It seems you're aware, but if they are bored they are NOT forming positive associations with the people in Sandpoint. In fact if they found certain people annoying, they may wind up rooting for the bad guys.
Go for a light touch. Introduce your NPC in a few phrases, dangle out the hook if you will, and if they don't bit3 just keep going. Then, later, assume these encounters registered with the players by 'reminding' them. "Remember, he's that guy who really wanted to go boar hunting with you after you saved his dog."
Another game system has shown me the value of letting the players run the extras. If you're worried about immersion, have them take turns, pass them around, etc. Have them drop in and out of the party. Shelilu (sp) works well for this. Finally, kill the NPCs off in a horrible fashion for that "that could have been me" effect.
I think this was handled fairly. A GM has the gift/responsibility of running the game and this requires judgement calls. Players can do, as your player did, ask for their GM to be fair and discuss things when it doesn't seem this is the case.
So that all seems pretty healthy.
I do, however, see an incompatibility between how the two of you view social skill checks. You want them to 'nudge' NPCs along a path they're already on, while he wants the rolls to 'matter'. So I would definitely discuss it further, and would even go so far as to allow the player to tweak their character.
One last bit of advice, going forward make sure you try to say 'yes'. Pause, take a breath and think, "is there any circumstances where I could see this happening?" If one never comes, just say so and keep on keeping on...
On the level track vs counting XP, one subtlety here - there's not effectively a difference. On the one hand you can count points and level up when they would naturally, and on the other you can level up when they would have anyway - had they resolved all the encounters, etc.
But in both cases, if they go the distance they will be retirement age (level 18+) by the end.
So it's really the journey that matters.
If it ever did get out of hand, you might lean on your players to do a bit of roleplaying, too. If, for example, the wizard couldn't identify it, would the fighter know he rolled too low? Or would he probably just think, "hmm that must be tough to identify"?
Try and think of your characters as people, if that helps.
Food for thought.
None that I could see, and I do own both.
I use the hardback at the table when I am running the game.
I use the pdfs when I am mobile (e.g. at work) or when I just want to search for something. I have also extracted images from the pdfs for handouts, display on my tablet ("she looks like this"), and printing out the maps.
I didn't see where he said how many HD the lawyer had.
So here's the elephant in the room: If out of combat healing is relegated to cheap, ubiquitous wands, is it not a design flaw to require it?
You only wind up punishing those who refuse to meta game.
And what if the character who could use the wand refuses to do so? Aren't you still "telling them what to do" by handing them your wand and saying "heal me"?
Forest for the trees, folks.
Good points in spades here.
The story never tells us exactly how he is trapped, or how Nualia expects to be able to free him. Except for the tactics blurb I'd agree that it isn't obvious.
As for a plot hole, I am not sure I agree. What's he going to do, exactly? And for how much longer is he even going to remain a threat to the party? I suspect that if he got cleanly away and was never heard from again that the players may well forget. There's some stuff about to happen that's probably more important...
The goblins of Thistletop, while unique and interesting, have absolutely no ties into the overall story arc at all. They do happen to be sitting on top of Mal’s prison, which was a former Karzauog holding, but that’s the extent of it. In fact, not only are they unaware that Karzaoug even exists, but so are Nualia and her crew. They haven’t discovered the projection yet.
Some possible solutions –
a) Replace them with something linked thematically to giants. Admittedly I have no idea what that might be (that would still be level appropriate for beginner characters). But such a replacement would at least be foreshadowing for the later chapters.
b) Modify Mal’s allegiance to Karzaoug, and put them in contact. Have Mal be actively manipulating Nualia and the goblins in an attempt to hasten the Rise. In fact, you could devise a ‘runeslave cauldron’ for them in an effort to cause their greedy souls to feed through lense. Again this foreshadows the giants later, and should make the larger cauldron that much more intimidating.
To recap, Nualia is an assimar girl who was disgraced by pregnancy and fell to wrath. She now serves Lamashtu and endeavors to destroy Sandpoint. The thematic keys here are ‘wrath’ and ‘Lamashtu’. Neither has much of anything to do with Karzaoug, and connecting them requires explanations that will probably never reveal themselves through actual play. They’re there for the GM to know and understand, for certain. But that leaves me feeling like I need to manufacture some reason for the players to know this information.
Some possible solutions –
a) Replace Karzaoug/greed with wrath. This makes Nualia a GREAT way to bootstrap this situation, gives a reason for the recent rise, etc. This also represents a gigantic retcon of the scenario, possibly reverberating all the way through ‘giants’ and the like. It’s a big concept to squeeze into my brain, and I’ll admit I haven’t fully looked into it.
b) Replace Nualia with someone greedy instead of wrathful. Perhaps a Scarni princess who sold her deformed baby to a cult, if you wanted to preserve the links to Lamashtu. Driven by greed, she sees giving birth to monsters as a way to power – or something like that.
c) You could certainly come up with a way to replace Lamashtu’s influence with someone greedy as well. But I haven’t come up with anything along those lines yet, and this would create Lamia problems later.
Note that whatever changes made here will need to be made to Erilium and the Scribbler as well.
As a preface, let me say that this is not a call to action. No action is required or even requested. This is just an analysis with an eye towards problems that I see in getting the modules to ‘fit’ together and tell a single, cohesive story. Burnt Offerings takes a bit of a beating here, and that’s really unfortunate because it is one of the best modules I have ever had the pleasure of running. Also I’d point out that my approach will lead to a more conceited, less ‘realistic’ approach to telling this story. I see an opportunity to re-use and reinforce themes from the very beginning of the story, which should require less work overall and should certainly confuse the players less. Remember this thing takes the better part of a year to run, so anything to be done to tighten it up without making it boring is probably a good thing to try and do.
The goal of RotRL, as I see it, is roughly as follows:
The situation, in a nutshell is:
My first proposal is that all the major elements support one of these two concepts. Not the tangents, mind you, those are fine and add depth, but the major elements.
Let’s examine some problem points, and touch briefly on fixing them.
At the risk of making Vic sad, a person could skip it without a whole lot of trouble. You need to consider these goals:
1) Get the party to care about Sandpoint.
2) Demonstrate that Varisia used to be Thassilon.
3) Foreshadow the Old Light's significance.
...and that's about all I can think of...
Burnt Offerings does a damn fine job of doing these things, no doubt. But it also makes some thematic errors. But that's another topic...
Agree, it seems Ciretose is either projecting (identifying with the DM) or on some sort of quest.
Yes, OP, you might find out what's really going on here because you can probably use that information in the rest of your life. For example I once lived in a bug infested hell hole of a rental condo. I thought I was leaving all that behind me when I went to work, but no one had the heart to tell me the truth - it was making me stink. I couldn't smell it because I lived in it every day. After I learned the truth it was pretty easy to compensate, and I really wish someone had told me sooner.
Maybe you stink, or maybe its something else, or maybe (most likely) that DM had some other reason for not wanting you there.
Whatever you do, be subtle and patient.
Can Pathfinder be played in a narrative style? Certainly.
Will you run into players that are expecting a rules-lawyer-y charop metagame that won't like it? Absolutely. Looking at the posts above as a sample, it's probably 50% of the PF player base.
You'll need to discover whether or not that type of player is common in your group.
You'll also want to decide what kinds of things you're going to allow via creativity and what things you'll only allow due to feats and class features. It could get sticky if you're not consistent about it.
Tigger_mk4 and others have basically nailed it: ask your group.
Put it this way, you can find both answers on a message board like this. Yes you were too soft, and no you weren't. But neither of those matter much if you have an (unknown) unhappy player at your table.
In my opinion, so long as you are consistent, be confident that you're using your judgement for the benefit of your friends.
Sometimes player characters are caricatures. It's actually pretty common, and a plain view where barbarians are socially backwards would actually support this.
There's also a historical angle to consider.
Frankly it should probably more surprising that our characters don't typically behave anything like those who used to use this same type of equipment. It's a social contract conceit that some people don't seem to get.
One thing to bear in mind is that the whole first module is essentially just a warmup. As above, getting them to care about Sandpoint is the key. Once chapter 2 begins they begin to get swept up in the metaplot, but until then you really can't mess it up. (Within reason.)
I say this because my party is really confused by all the detail they're being offered up front. They really want to go after Chopper, are confused as to what Shelelu's role in all this is, and suspect Vin and his daughter... They aren't used to interacting with the scenery... :)
Yeah, it really depends on Nualia and whoever is around to advise her. See she wants Mal out as a priority. But she is stuck, so she's bound to keep trying for a while, but it's really up to the GM how long.
If Tsuto is out of the picture, it will probably be longer rather than shorter. Remember, she didn't go get the bones to burn. Tsuto did, eaver to both hurt Sandpoint and score points with Nualia.
Another possible angle is Gromgurt (sp? Druid goblin). He might start to sway Ripnugget back to his way of thinking if Nualia tarries too long.
It's taken her five years to get this far, and she's suffered a setback...