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Whatever, I give up. If you can't look at the fighter's skill list or use traits and find something both enjoyable and useful, that's on you. It's quite clear that a lot of people here simply hate fighters and are looking for excuses to support that hate. They aren't perfect, but they aren't nearly as bad as some people make them out to be.
So go with Craft, Handle Animal, Profession, Ride, or Survival, all of which class skills of the fighter. Grab a trait that gives you Knowledge or Acrobatics or some other skill as a class skill. Don't be afraid to use combat maneuvers and unarmed combat to simulate wrestling and boxing and similar things. There are lots of options available; find one or two that works for that character and that campaign and have fun with them. The key is to break away from the "everyone has to roll Diplomacy all the time" mode; the precise details of how you do it are less important. Some people may prefer the strength or dexterity based skills simply because they feed of their high stats; others will prefer to use something like profession or knowledge and rely on skill points to counteract a comparatively low stat in order to use something more commonly used and understood.
Vivianne Laflamme wrote:
That's just one example. Any decently built character should be able to pull two or three such things out of their hats with a little creativity. In the end, the typical fighter has access to things that can be fun and allow them to participate; they may not be obvious at first glance, but they are there. They will never be primarily role playing type characters, but they don't have to sit out just because they have a low charisma either. They do require a bit more work outside of combat, and this is true even if you ignore dice rolls completely or give them more skill points.
sunshadow: you are making the slippery slope argument/fallacy here. Just because you give a buff to one class, doesn't mean you have to buff all of them (even though, for the rogue it'd actually make sense).
Depends on the table; some tables may be perfectly happy stopping there, others wouldn't. You certainly couldn't bake into the core rules, as I guarantee that it would open a huge can of worms. In the end, it's not an automatic route to disaster, but there are better ways to solve the problem that avoid that potential problem entirely.
This only works from level 1 to 6. 1 to 8 tops. At that point, no swimming contest are not something that can be rewarding. At level 9 you hit Teleport and Plane Shift, so for adventures past that the Material Plane and swimming contest aren't much a thing next to killing the evil king and taking over his kingdom.
Challenging a marid or a merfolk to a swimming contest and winning would be quite satisfying, at least to me. And not everyone wants to or can be the new king; being the king's champion could still involve challenging the top warriors from other kingdoms and accepting challenges in return that could still be rewarding and fun. You can always find reasons to make it work as long as both the DM and the player try. Later on, it may take some help from other players to make it happen, but that isn't a bad thing as it allows them to contribute to the scene just as much as you are; you still get your chance to roll the dice on something you are good at in order to help the party, rather than having to roll on something the bard or wizard is good at, and that is the key. The idea isn't how to make the fighter so that they can solo a social encounter; it's how to make the fighter an active participant that can shape and be part of that encounter. The former is going to be nigh impossible, and not all that desirable to boot; the latter is quite possible with the resources already available to the fighter.
Alexandros Satorum wrote:
The point is that whatever the rogues demand, it creates an endless cycle that can get out of control very quickly. You can't just arbitrarily change one part of the system without adversely affecting something else, which is why I tend to keep house rules fairly limited despite the fact that there is a lot of stuff I would love to see done differently. In the end, it's easier to make informed decisions about what to change and how when the ultimate focus remains on how to best use what already exists. Something like allowing aid another with different skills is actually an interesting idea that if refined would make a very good house rule; it allows people to use what they already have a bit more without creating additional headaches. Simply increasing the numbers involved and nothing else is a big reason why a lot of people don't like 3.x/PF and for good reason; there's already a lot of unnecessary number inflation in the game causing a lot of problems, and adding to it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Vivianne Laflamme wrote:
There are ways to keep swimming relevant at higher levels. For example, the party could go to a merfolk kingdom at the bottom of the ocean. Or they could travel to the Plane of Water to visit marids. These are the sorts of exciting adventures that are appropriate for mid-to-high level characters. Unfortunately, the fighter doesn't fare very well in these sorts of circumstances. It takes more than a really high swim modifier to breathe at the bottom of the ocean.
You can have exciting, level appropriate adventures on the material plane. You have to think less about individual encounters and more about the larger picture, which is where building reputations, making a name for yourself, and long term interaction with the NPCs and the world come into play. A swimming contest may not be all that exciting unto itself, but used to build a reputation and a base of support, it can be very rewarding. The key is to make sure as a DM you aren't focusing so much on individual encounters that you lose the bigger picture. If you keep sight of the bigger picture, it's much easier for both you and the players to find ways to keep things like swimming or climbing relevant.
Alexandros Satorum wrote:
Skill point inflation when people don't really use the ones they already have doesn't help. All you would see is more people finding ways to make Diplomacy and Perception class skills, and the main problem of overusing certain skills would still persist. Also, raising the number of skill points for one group and not another leads to increased friction. The players of rogues start demanding a higher BAB because they feel like their territory is being impinged upon. The players of the wizards would also likely demand more skill points, also being at 2 + Int, making the issues that people have with wizards already getting lots of skill points even worse. In the end, it may solve the immediate problem, but would create others and/or inflame already existing problems.
That being said, I think the whole way that skill points are allocated needs to be changed. Rather than relying on a single stat for all skill points, it needs to broken down a bit finer so that everyone has access to about the same number of skill points, but where they have them would be different based on their stats. As long as it's tied to just Intelligence, simply eliminating the 2 + Int in favor of 4 + Int really doesn't solve much; the root problem of Int being seen as largely useless to a fighter, and thus a dump stat, still remains.
One idea I've been toying with is dividing it by mental stats and physical stats, where one's physical stats drive the number of skill points for physical skills and one's mental stats drive the number of skill points for mental skills. This would allow for more skill points all around while creating a bit more balance in who has what skills. If you did something like base + the average of the relevant modifiers for each category, with the base being higher for those classes that now have 6 or 8 base points to start with, everyone has access to more skill points, but it's harder for any one character to dominate all of them. It's an idea I still need to tweak, but it deals with the main problem of one stat driving access to all skills.
It's fun to be successful at things. The fighter was having a good time being successful at swimming checks. It'd be nice if he could be successful at things that are level-relevant once he's out of the "swimming matters" levels.
So keep swimming relevant. If you're in a major town that has a harbor, lake, or river nearby, chances are they have swimming races; if they don't, start one. You're interacting with the NPCs, using the skills that you can do well, and have a very strong chance of being successful. Roleplaying is as much determining what dice gets rolled and when for each individual character as it is speaking or acting in character and then having each character roll for the same skill all at the same time, even while knowing that half of them don't stand a chance. If you want to keep rolling swim checks or any other skill to get things done, it's up to you to find ways to do so; that may mean finding new, more creative uses for the different skills as time goes on.
The mechanics aren't broken; they are working exactly as designed, which is that its up to the DM to deal with their own personal players as they need to. Aid Another using different skills could be an interesting house rule, but it requires DM determination of what works and what doesn't, so it'd be hard to put in the core rules. PF already made the limited skill points a lot less painful by making it the same cost to get both class and cross class skills, so they've already taken the biggest step they can without stepping on DM's toes.
The problem with simply increasing the number of skill points is that by itself it doesn't really resolve any of the problems people have with skills, and in easing some of them, that solution simply makes others worse; as part of a more thorough revamp of how skill points are given out, it could work, but by itself, it's not worth it.
This person though, is at least trying. My impression from the OP is that the monk and fighter weren't.
I couldn't really tell on that to be honest. It's obvious that they weren't, but whether that was because of ignorance of alternate solutions or laziness was hard to tell. If the latter, then it's all on the players; if the former, then the DM shares responsibility in showing those players alternate solutions and creating scenarios where those solutions can potentially come into play.
Again the Fighter does not have enough skill points to really broaden his horizons so to speak. As well if a player is going to give a character low int and cha he is going to roleplay those stats in my game. Meaning he fails more often then he succeeds in social situations
I am not advocating ignoring low stats or weak skills; when those rolls come up, they deserve to be treated as low stats and weak skills. What I am advocating is giving the player a chance to think creatively to avoid having to rely solely on those rolls every single time. The one thing I truly liked about 4E was the concept, if not the execution, of skill challenges, where the idea of using a wide variety of skills to accomplish a task was important. If the player steps up, finds way to be creative in making other rolls relevant, and is successful in whatever rolls they do make, they should not be penalized because they didn't roll the same things at the same time that the other characters did. If the player doesn't, than you as a DM have a ready answer when that player starts complaining that puts the resolution firmly in the player's court. Simply telling people that fighters, or similar characters, can't roleplay or don't have enough skill points is as noneffective as telling people that rolling the dice isn't necessary outside of combat. They are definitely more challenging and require a bit more creativity to do well outside of combat while staying within the rules, but it can be done if both the player and the DM try.
As an example, the king is not going to realistically expect a fighter to give an amazing speech, but if that fighter can demonstrate his martial skills and knowledge, or has frequently enough demonstrated such things in the past to gain a reputation for it,the king is likely going to see that fighter as worthy of respect, being good at his chosen art, and treat him accordingly. He's not going to be asked about how to deal with merchants or anything like that, but there's no reason why he would be ignored with the subject of how to defeat a foe came up or when making a request based on that scenario, especially if the party bard is largely a bystander in combat and can show little skill in managing others in combat.
In the end with fighters and similarly challenged characters, it may mean that instead of a single diplomacy roll every encounter you have to do 3 or 4 rolls every 3 or 4 encounters to play out a wrestling match or some other similar challenge, which when won gives that character a reputation that carries over to other encounters and grows with each success, but that character is still rolling about the same amount of dice with the same overall chance to successfully contribute something beneficial to either his own storyline and/or the party's progress through the campaign. It's not the exact same kind of success or result that a Diplomacy roll gives, but it can be largely functionally the same thing in terms of measuring progress.
The OP said the fighter and Monk didnt feel they could CONTRIBUTE to out of combat situations. Not take them over or be the face... but actually make a difference. My respose was simply this... Anyone with well developed backstory and a DM who wants to get everyone envolved will be fine. Will they be making all the social roles? No. But can they contribute to the story and the conversation... sure. Can they gather information by actually talking to people... yes. Will they get as much info as the guy with a maxed out GatherInfo skill. No... but they can still figure stuff out and add to the group. Can the DM incorporate the backstory of any character into the plot and make that player fill invested. Absolutely.
This is the key; they don't have to be the best to at everything to still contribute, and it's not that hard with a touch of creativity to make the rules work for them to be able to contribute and participate.
So don't focus on Diplomacy for every single character in the party. Find some other skill or challenge for them to roll on that gives each character a reasonable chance of contributing to the scene and give them similar results on success (or failure) that gives the party and character what they need without being exactly the same. Roleplaying isn't just about ignoring the dice, and often simply ignoring the rules is counterproductive; treating roleplaying as shaping what dice get rolled and when rather than insisting only Diplomacy will work is a far more effective strategy.
That seems to be a big part of the problem I'm seeing in this thread; expecting the fighter to roll the exact same dice for the exact same reason as a bard or a wizard or a rogue or anyone else is guaranteed to put the fighter in a bad light because the fighter is none of those things. Instead of focusing on what the fighter doesn't have, focus on what they do have; feats of physical prowess to show combat strength and displaying knowledge of how to shape and survive a battlefield are valuable assets in your standard D&D world, and shouldn't be ignored just because the end goal is something other than killing. A lot of tricks and skills that fall out of use in combats or in pure party vs environment scenarios at mid to high levels still retain a considerable amount of value in shaping NPC's reactions in social encounters.
In the end want to roleplay then pick something else besides a fighter. As the don't have enough skill points or selection of skills to do a proper job of it.
Sure they do; it's definitely a bigger challenge, but it can be done as long as both the player and the DM are willing to look at the full extent of what can be done with the different skills and/or combat related abilities in a noncombat situation.
First, leave magic out of this, because most competitions aren't going to allow it; a race to the top of a cliff with the winner gaining local prestige is going to rely on base stats and skills, not magic. We're not talking a pure party vs environment situation, we're talking a encounter where style points and how you do it as just as important as the end goal of reaching the top, and no magic would definitely be a big part of that.
Similarly, just because a wizard has a higher knowledge doesn't mean that the isolated villagers are going to bother to give him a chance to share it; a fighter who can earn local respect via physical exploits will have a higher chance pf getting them to listen in the first place than a weird robed guy that waves his hands around. A bard could do something similar using Diplomacy or Perform instead of a wrestling match, that it true, but it's not the same thing. The difference is that Diplomacy and Perform are effected by language and cultural norms to a much greater effect than shows of physical strength, which in most D&D worlds is the basis for basic survival. Diplomacy and charisma based skills in general are great for doing business, but not so much when the NPCs are looking for a general who knows combat and war.
In the end, it's not just who in the party can do it best, it's who are the NPCs going to look to first, and the fighter is actually one of the first they will look to if you are playing them realistically as a DM, provided that the fighter doesn't shoot himself in the foot by dumping every single mental stat, because he is the most familiar to them and the easiest to understand. If the fighter can provide the competence they are looking for, they probably won't look any farther for a lot of the things that the party deals with, and there are lots of ways to prove that competence. There will still be plenty of areas that the fighter won't be strong in, leaving room for the rest of the party to shine.
A fighter that uses these tactics creatively outside of combat is going to be able to compete with anybody in the party in getting their share of the spotlight in a noncombat scenario, and that is all they need to do. They don't have to suddenly be the party leader and get more than anybody else. They don't even have to roll dice every single encounter, just once or twice to get the tale and fame started and after that every now and then to sustain it, unlike Diplomacy which has little to no carryover from NPC to NPC. All it takes is using the full ruleset creatively vs insisting that only a small portion of the ruleset applies.
Your argument that the fighter shouldn't bother because someone else can do it better misses the point. They don't have to be the primary star in order to be useful and enjoy playing through the scene. They just have to be able to contribute meaningfully, and they can while still staying within the rules if you do it right.
There's a middle ground you and a lot of people are missing. You can roll dice and still keep the fighter relevant outside of combat, you just have to be creative in what you're rolling the dice for. Wrestling is essentially unarmed combat using the grapple maneuver. Boxing is essentially unarmed nonlethal combat. You can have archery tournaments, races of all kinds, tracking challenges, etc. that use skills/rolls that are either contested or come with some kind of DC, keeping them within the framework of the ruleset. These are all things that the fighter (or any character really) can be successful at and still gain the effects that a successful Diplomacy check would. Craft, Profession, and Knowledge (easily accessible via traits) checks all make them experts in a certain field, giving NPCs a reason to listen to them, provided that the fighter didn't completely dump Int, and still has a few skill points to play with. Changing away from fighter doesn't really do anything because the mindset at the root of the problem is still there.
The problem is that you are in the minority if that is the case. Point buy in my experience is not a direct problem by itself, but it tends to be easily abused by those of lack that level of engagement and don't care how much it potentially limits the engagement level of the others at the table. A good DM can use either point buy or rolling and make it work, but I've seen too many DMs that are just as lazy as the players and think that point buy solves all their problems and that they don't need to do any extra effort because of it. I agree that it isn't strictly a problem of mechanics or stats, but certain mechanics tend to be easier to hide behind than others when making excuses, and point buy is definitely high on the list of easily abused systems.
K177Y C47 wrote:
You're assuming that everything has to be a life or death challenge for an NPC to be impressed and that impressing NPCs have the same hard and fast rules that combat has. The fighter could very easily be known as the wrestling champ of the region and not need the rest of the party to get respect, information, or aid from the village bartender. The first step of making the fighter more useful is not insisting that they must be able to kill everything they meet on their own with absolutely no help from anyone in order to be effective in combat or need to roll the exact same skills as the party bard outside of combat. The second is to realize that most of the existing combat mechanics, rules, and abilities work just fine for nonlethal combat scenarios where the fighter could show off their skill without the end goal being killing their foe. Wrestling matches, archery tournaments, races of pretty much all kinds involving all sorts of different skills, all of these are ways that non-charismatic, but physically capable, characters of all classes can secure the respect and attention of the NPCs the party needs to deal with.
Alexandros Satorum wrote:
Sure there is; find some other skill, challenge, or approach that feeds off what you can roll the dice well on. Just because it needs to come down to a dice roll eventually doesn't mean that it always has to be the same skill all the time. Personally I find that Diplomacy tends to be way overused; players insist that by having that one skill high they can do absolutely anything, and DMs see it a quick and easy way to push through and otherwise ignore potentially complex social interactions. It has it's place, but it's not the only way to interact with NPCs and it's not an instant win for those who have a +(enter insanely high number here). Role play doesn't have to mean ignoring the dice rolls; it can also mean figuring out creative ways to get other dice rolls to work just as well.
If the DM insists that only Diplomacy will work, find a new DM that is willing to consider alternate approaches. On the flip side, if you were dumb enough to be truly a combat only specialist with absolutely zero capabilities outside of combat, go study history to see how the skills and knowledges used in combat were used outside of combat in real life and/or build your character a bit differently next time to include at least a few options outside of combat.
Fighters are good at what, climbing and swimming? These are not exactly skills that come up often unless your DM loves running adventures where you have to climb and swim all over the place. The last time our party had to use the swim skill, we had no fighter types or good swimmers and we spent more than half an hour IRL just trying to swim past this part until the DM gave up and handwaved it as us using ropes to get past this part successfully. In a typical party, the fighter would swim through this part and the rest of the party would get stuck, or the wizard would be forced to cast multiple fly spells for the other party members.
A better idea is to find uses for those type skills and abilities that allow for interaction with NPCs. Have the local arm wrestling champ challenge the fighter to a arm wrestling match. Get to know the grappling rules better by having a wrestling challenge or two, with the winner gaining local prestige and favor with the locals, making it easier for the party to get the items/information/help that they need from the otherwise reluctant locals to move the adventure along. Let the fighter challenge the locals, and guards as it is appropriate, to competitions that reflect his fighting prowess and physical strength rather than simply depending on diplomacy or intimidate checks, giving both him and the party a boost in the locals' views should he win. If there's a river or a cliff nearby, or if on a boat, a tall mast, have climbing and swimming competitions. Similar things could be done with the monk's skills and capabilities; if he has acrobatics, have the party encounter local competitions that utilize that skill.
A large part of the problem tends to be that a lot of people tend to isolate physical skills and combat abilities to just pure combat, and social skills to pure non-combat; this really wasn't the reality in real life, and it shouldn't be in a reasonably well portrayed campaign. Have fun with the types of competitions/interactions you come up with, and be creative in the lore behind them, and both the fighter and the monk should be able to find ways to keep involved outside of combat.
Doing it before the game during character creation I can see, especially if the group is building the party all together; the characters are still in the formative stage, so there's a lot more room to tinker with every aspect of them. I still wouldn't force a player to do it, but it's not changing something already basically hardcoded into the character when nothing is to that level of development yet.
In this scenario though, and many other scenarios this discussion comes up, the characters are not only already created, but have gone through several adventures. Deciding at that point that a stat needs to be dropped down probably isn't the best solution unless a change in basic tactics or other minor tweaks have already been tried; even discussions on multiclassing need to focus on to preserve what has already been established ingame about the character rather than simply being a quick attempt to deal with something that may or may not still be a problem 5 levels down the road.
One, balance is usually overrated, next to impossible to achieve even with point buy, and far too often leads to bland, largely uninteresting characters. There are times where it's a necessary consideration, but it should never be the only one. Two, it's not that hard to run a group with varying levels of power if you include a wide variety of encounters and have the NPCs react to the different race and class choices of the players, ensuring that high stats or low stats are only part of the equation of how encounters play out; in combat, using the environment and a mixture of tactics and enemies also keeps things from easily being dominated by one character. Throw a swarm or a neutral flying creature at this paladin and suddenly the game changes dramatically.
As a general rule, I personally try to avoid this kind of solution unless other solutions have been tried and failed. Others may have different mileage.
In the end, you don't need to cripple yourself, but just move in a different direction.
That really is the key. The idea of cutting your own stats or similarly gimping yourself deliberately is dumb, but choosing to multiclass, especially to a caster in a party with no casters, or choosing a different fighting style are both things that can be done to make the character mesh with the group better while retaining the character's strengths if done correctly.
My experience that while there can be disparities so large they have to be dealt with, most of the complaints come from people who don't want to have to deal with them at all, and refuse to even attempt to do so. Again, it comes down to how the DM and the players approach it; some groups and campaigns can tolerate a fairly wide band of stats, others require a more narrow focus. For those times that need the more narrow focus, point buy works fine, but for those times where a wider band would be workable, point buy limits character concepts unnecessarily in my mind.
To some degree, but I think people here underestimate how much people found ways to turn apparent weaknesses into something not just playable, but an actual strength, not to mention the DMs that found ways to deal with those that preferred all 14+ stats. Low stats are as bad as your mindset makes them, and while they have never been desired, the original mindset where you worked with what you were given, no matter what it was, was far more capable of working with lower stats effectively than the current views that everything must be equal for people to have fun.
Doomed Hero wrote:
I would personally go with this idea, though the oracle approach could be interesting as well, especially with the lack of casters in the party. Having the GM focus a bit more on neutral or even good foes would be a good solution as well. The advantage with these is that they don't gimp your character but rather shift the focus of your character and/or the campaign to something that allows the rest of the party a chance to show off, something a lot more palatable to pretty much everyone at the table; it's just as distasteful to be the one that forces a player that got lucky on his stats to dumb his character down as it is to be the one that renders the rest of the party useless. In the meantime, use your experience to help out the newer players to help them get the most out of their characters. The high stats are as overpowered as you let them be; I would leave those alone for now as there are better solutions to try first. Most of the issues I'm seeing tend to disappear at higher levels when foes have more options available to them so making super drastic changes doesn't seem necessary just yet; start with the smaller things first, and if it's still a problem at level 7 or so, than you can better see exactly what needs changed.
As for point buy, it has it's place, but I personally will never use it as a DM; it makes most of the more interesting character concepts essentially not possible. People did nothing but roll for stats for years and found ways to make it work; heck, for a while, it wasn't even as generous as 4d6, drop the lowest, and people still found ways to make it work. For PFS or a similar environment, I can see the need for it, but for a home game, I prefer rolling every time; it just allows for a wider variety of characters than point buy ever will, and there are ways to deal with the unevenness of the stats generated without gimping the high roller. I personally do everyone gets one 16, and rolls 2d6+6 5 times; it guarantees one perfectly good stat and still allows for reasonably balanced but not automatically overly strong characters. There are other ways to handle it though, and the usual 4d6, drop the lowest, still works fine as long as you don't expect every character to be exactly equal in every way and the DM knows how to find both the strengths and weaknesses of every character created.
I've dealt with it by developing a tiered system of access. Anyting up to roughly 3k to 4k is generally available in the appropriate sized town without any extra fuss, with exceptions for exotic and just plain weird stuff. Anything from there up to the top end of the medium wondrous items chart in price is available via commissioning, which may take additional time or money depending on the item. Anything higher than that must go through me, the DM, to acquire, through extensive rp, making contacts in the world, and/or letting me know what you want so that if an opportunity to place it as treasure happens to come up, I can do so. I do similar things for access to new spell scrolls; different levels and subschools have different levels of accessibility. I've found this generally allows for the built in assumptions of the game to operate with minimum fuss while keeping the mystery and rarity of the higher powered stuff intact.
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
So, yes, I have a solid role-playing reason to have a good guess at that ambush, if I want to. It's no-one else's business to tell me what ideas I can come up with as long as I'm not meta-gaming, and a good guess at how ambushes work is not like creating dynamite. I don't need to have access to knowledge that my PC cannot have had. I'm not inventing the ambush!
The bolded section is the key phrase there. If the others at the table agree with your view of what is and isn't metagaming and otherwise overboard, you're all good; if not, than it becomes a problem, and saying it's my character and none of your business is not a helpful solution. And you keep talking 10th level characters assuming they survive that long; you have to get to that level for that argument to work, and that's challenging for a low int, low wisdom fighter that thinks he's much smarter than he really is unless the rest of the party is willing to humor him, a factor which relies heavily on the other players willing to humor that player. Many parties may well be inclined to let such a character die from his own stupidity long before level 10, even if the players find the character not overly obnoxious, just because the other players can use the same argument to play their characters how they see fit, and their characters don't feel like coddling a major ego. There's a reason that I went to 2d6+6 for stat generation; having even the possibility of a 5 or lower stat PC just ain't worth the headache as a DM, at least for me. Too many people focus on either the mechanical aspect or the rp aspect and want to completely ignore the other.
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
People trained in stuff should demonstrate skill beyond what their ability scores would suggest. If you are a 10th level martial then this is your field of expertise, your low Int (forced on you by point-buy) doesn't stop a 10th level martial being really good at fighting/small unit tactics, and it's appropriate for that player to declare smart combat actions.
Smart choices working with all the knowledge currently known to the party doesn't necessarily mean complex, or even semi-complex, tactics. Expecting them to make obviously stupid decisions is not something most people would ask, but questioning their ability to see a potential ambush site, and maybe even one of the ambushers, and suddenly extrapolate not only exactly how the ambushers have laid themselves out, but exactly how to respond is quite reasonable. Likewise, acting as though the idiot savant knows exactly what their brand new wizard ally can, and will, do even though they just met the wizard a day ago, and this is their first battle together, is fair game for questioning without a decent int or wis to back up their assumptions, since the only other real support is experience with that character, something the idiot savant don't have yet. That doesn't mean that such a character can't do quite well in certain circumstances, but they still have to work within the knowledge the character would have of those circumstances; knowing an ambush is probable is not the same as knowing exactly where the ambush is, how many people are waiting, or even the most effective countermeasures for this particular ambush. If you have both low int and low wis, something not uncommon in the point buy system when making fighters, you have neither instinct nor a good memory to allow you do to much but be completely reactionary and simply power through it. If you have a good Wisdom and/or invested in the appropriate skills, the 5 int doesn't matter as much because it's not the driving factor anymore, but if you don't have either, the int 5, or possibly the equally low wis, remains the key mechanic and a major hurdle if you want to rp a battlewise idiot fighter. Which ever stat you see as the big hurdle, it's still an extreme disconnect, and one that over the long term could become a major headache.
The problem comes up if another player is playing a genuinely intelligent character, but is not a strong rper. At that point, it can very quickly become a player issue because the player of the not so smart character ends up dominating both the spotlight time their character would normally get as well as the spotlight time that the other player would normally get, even if they are consistently failing in the process, leaving the other player feeling short changed. RP penalties, vs purely mechanical penalties, are important; they help balance out differences in player personalities the same way that mechanical differences balance out character differences. Just like mechanical differences need to be used with a bit of wisdom and constraint, RP penalties need be used wisely, but at some point, that 5 Int "genius" needs to have it made very clear that no, he really isn't a genius, and if the player continues to insist that he is, and taking half an hour as a player to describe something that the character would never be able to think of without a great deal of additional mechanical support, that additional RP penalties are necessary if that character is to remain in the party. Again, it doesn't usually take a lot; asking for a skill to be made a class skill if it isn't already and dropping a single skill point cancels out the penalty and then some and takes virtually no effort. Likewise, the player accepting that what the character thinks isn't what the world thinks, and refraining from spending too much precious game time on pretending otherwise, is a remarkably simple thing. A player running a CHA 5 character that has not invested in any charisma based skills does not need to take half an hour to try to haggle a price down when the chances of success are slim to none; simply roll it and move on in that case. To be fair, I would also say that a player with a charisma of 5 trying to play a character with a charisma of 18 should probably do the same in most cases, giving a brief summary of what the character said, but not wasting a lot of time trying to rp out the entire scene.
When it becomes clear that the rp has virtually no chance of matching the results of the dice roll, than either the rp needs to be modified or completely skipped; anything else is wasting precious game time. Similarly, pretending that every Int 5 PC is an idiot savant is also a waste of time and gets old quick.
Fortunately, in my games, it will never come up because I switched to 2d6+6 to generate stats a while ago. Keeps everyone from automatically being massively overpowered, but ensures that every PC is clearly capable of rudimentary battle tactics and other basic adventuring necessities without external help. Having an idiot savant at the table can be interesting enough for a while, but most of the time it's not really worth the extra hassle.
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
Interesting character stuff
I would have no problem with that character personally. However, the difficulty comes into play when you get down to the 5 or 6 range. This is the point that you're clearly not in the band of what qualifies as normal, but you're still close enough that a lot of people still try to act as though they are. Once you get down to 3 or 4, the problem usually goes away because at that point, even the most obtuse person can understand that the stat simply does not support the concept even remotely. The challenge in that 5 or 6 range is making something distinctive without making it feel like an additional penalty at the same time, and this is only possible when the player and the DM work together. If the player refuses to come up with something on their own, or work with the DM to come up with a mutually agreed upon limitation, then the DM is usually forced to do alone to keep the other players from being shafted, and the player directly affected feels like it's an extra penalty when it fact it's something already there that they just don't want to acknowledge. For some groups, the problem range might start at 7 instead of 6, but the same concept holds true; at some point, the DM has the right and responsibility to step in and impose certain conditions if the player refuses to do so themselves. Where that point is will vary, and usually most players will figure out something if really pushed that hard, but ultimately, the player is part of a group, and his opinion is not the final word all the time, not even with his own character.
My personal take on the issue is to break it into categories. While the stats don't have a direct correlation with rp, they are not completely disconnected either, and they do have to match to a certain degree.
Any stat with up to a +2 or -2 modifier is close enough to normal that when normal circumstances are taken into account, rping them as normal isn't that big of an issue overall all. You get into the +/- 3 or 4 modifier range, and they definitely become noticeable and cannot be ignored, and I expect them to be played as such, though I am perfectly content to leave the precise details up to the player. You get into the +/- 5 or beyond, and not only is it noticeable, but it will get you lots of attention, both positive and negative, whether you really want it or not, unless you really take efforts to downplay the extremeness of the stat.
If a player with a 5 int wants to be a military genius, they better be prepared to back it up with a really good wisdom and/or points in profession (soldier) or something similar; that is a bit too much of a stretch without additional mechanics to support it. Similarly, if someone wants to be good looking, but shy or something like that, I expect them to rp that to the fullest, not just the positive good looking part. Likewise, downplaying a high stat takes a fair bit of effort through either mechanics or rp. In my experience, it doesn't usually take a lot to get things to match well enough. Heck, if that 5 int character wants to be a military genius, I may even give a free skill point to profession (soldier) to help them along if I feel that otherwise the 5 int is being given it's full due. It's only the players that refuse to make any connection at all between the stats and their concept that bother me; while making a direct comparison is difficult, refusing to make any comparison at all is just as problematic.
Detect Magic is also blocked by solid materials without that much effort, so you're not going to see around a corner with it in most cases, and any other location with obstructions between you and the source of the trap (see most dungeons without much effort) is going to be a problem for you as well. Combine that with nondetection, false aura, and lingering auras, and you can get a lot of false readings that limit it's usefulness for general scouting, not to mention having to be in front of the party so that their gear isn't muddling the results and having to concentrate for 3 rounds to get anything genuinely useful.
In the end, those kinds of reasons tend to be why unlimited cantrips don't particularly bother me. The thing to remember as a DM is that it's really, really easy to limit them or turn them against the caster if they try to abuse them that much. Light is great, but you can only have one at a time, which the party still needs other light sources unless everyone wants to cluster around that one light source, unless multiple people have it, and every single one of them is willing to spend a slot on it. Also, while there isn't technically anything in the rules that limits someone from casting them nonstop for 8 hrs, there is almost always good roleplay reasons, and worst case scenario, you pull out the fatigue rules; hope you didn't ignore constitution while building your character.
The challenge with PF, and really 3.x in general, is that many of the tactics and strategies that DMs learned and knew in older editions, but didn't need to start worrying about until really high levels, now come into play at basically level 1. Magic in general is no longer this extremely rare thing that only really comes into play as a high powered resource late in the game. It now serves to some extent as technology, with examples of it ranging from the very simple and common to the very rare and powerful. But, just like technology can only do so much in the real world, magic can only do so much, no matter how reliant you become on it. That does mean that you actually have to read and understand everything from the very beginning in order to understand it's limits. Likewise, the ability for players to simply sit down and not have to expect to do much of anything as far as reading the book is concerned for ten levels is largely gone. It is definitely a much more cooperative game from the very start where both DM and player have to understand the mechanics in play and have to work together to turn those mechanics into a solid story. Especially since that by now, many of the spells have gone through multiple iterations, even just within PF errata, and each person at the table may remember a different version, you need to communicate and make sure that everyone is on the same page from the very start, not just at level 10.
I agree with the loss of creativity, but that is wrapped up in the entire evolution of not just the game itself, but how gamers communicate with each other, and the expectations that both DMs and players bring to the table. Ultimately, the difference is that before being creative lay almost entirely in the hands of the players, who oftentimes had no other in character resource, whereas now, the DM must be an equal partner in creating the creative moments, since the actual characters are more fleshed out, giving the players more mechanic based options.
Slumber hex can allow witches to take on a wide variety of encounters above what should even be possible, with a better chance of success then any other single ability or spell. It takes no resources, no special build, and works in most circumstances. If the hex is not useful in the encounter, the witch is still one of the most powerful classes in the game, with a wide variety of other powerful options. If you want to powergame the hell out of it, it isn't hard to do.
I would not call needing to be within 30' of the target with your fighting partner needing to be within 5' to be most circumstances (in most cases, the giant will simply keep moving, keeping the chances of getting the ideal scenario unlikely). Nor would I consider a standard action in combats that usually last only 2-3 rounds no resources. Nor would I consider the need to have the DC high enough to routinely land the hex to be no special build. As for the powergaming, and lots of other options, we're talking NPCs here, not PCs. They are at most 2nd level, so have 1 hex (maybe two if human or with the extra hex feat), with a good sized list of useful hexes to choose from, a handful of cantrips, and one or two 1st level spells. Not to mention NPC equipment. They are far from weak, but they aren't going to have so many additional options over a cleric or druid or oracle or sorcerer or even the ability of rangers to use certain wands at that level (or even adept when it comes down to it, which as the advantage of less training required), the other most likely spellcasting classes, that they are going to be the go to caster for every single thorpe and village in the entire world.
A lone giant wandering through an area that also happens to be a hamlet or thorpe wouldn't worry that much about the threat of a witch unless it was well established that that particular locale had a witch/warrior combo capable of doing that particular combo routinely and effectively. An actual village is large enough that the militia, walls, and other defenses would by itself be enough of a threat to keep the giant from randomly strolling down Main Street, though even the threat of a witch still wouldn't stop him from grabbing a cow from one of the nearby fields as he passed by.
I think a large part of the problem is your definition of "village" and "raid." A sustained attack on a small cluster of maybe 4 houses with the intent to plunder is not "raiding" a "village." It's plundering a hamlet, which usually requires intent and something worth plundering; the tactic works great in that situation, but so does building the small number of buildings in such a way that no giant is going to go strolling through them, and it's still reliant on both the witch and the warrior being at least somewhat forewarned, something difficult to do with the manpower available to a hamlet or thorpe. A "raid" on a "village" (at least a village in D&D terms) is grabbing a cow from a field as they pass near the village proper (which with 100 some people, would be a fairly substantial and notable feature of the immediate area, especially with fences, which to giants are functionally linear caltrops), probably not even bothering to stop, and just grabbing the cow midstride, something that having a witch with the slumber hex isn't going to help against unless you have a crack watch that can pinpoint the giant's presence and path soon enough for the duo to be in the necessary position and both a witch and a warrior (or at least a well armed commoner) that isn't doing anything else important so that they can get to that spot immediately (as in probably 2-3 rounds of the giant's initial appearance, counting moving getting any needed weapons, dealing with any doors or stairs in whatever building they are currently in to get outside, getting around whatever other buildings/fences/etc that may be in between them and the ideal spot), and then hoping to win initiative against the giant. It provides a bit more protection against plundering, as that requires the giant to move in a more predictable and slower manner, but any village that has something worth plundering is also going to have a militia and other defenses that render the slumber hex useful, but mostly icing on the cake, as it still relies on the other defenses to pull off, either by insuring that multiple people are available with weapons, making the positioning game easier and/or by slowing the giant down enough to make the positioning game possible in the first place.
At no point is the hex by itself all that useful; it requires timing and coordination, which for a random raid by a random lone creature is very unlikely in any place that wouldn't have other readily available options.
richard develyn wrote:
So drop the kill a few villagers part and the rest is still just fine. A bear doesn't worry about killing the bees in the bee hive as he reaches in for a paw of honey before moving on. The base problem I have with your argument is the assumption the giant gives a flying hoot about the villagers themselves; more likely as not, the giant cares more about the cow than anything else. And a village of 150 people is probably safe from random attacks by lone giants anyway; that's large enough to have a militia that could be a headache even without a witch. It's the small hamlets that would have a bigger problem, and they are better off simply building in places that giants can't easily fit, or creating obstacles to create that same basic effect, then they are to worry about attacking every giant that passes by.
As for the Balors, no, they still don't care. They really don't. Commoners killed nobles and kings in real life battles all the time, and they were still ignored and belittled by the upper class. The chances of a commoner being able to plan to kill the generals and the kings was virtually nil, so while the general threat may have been there, even if the generals were afraid enough to care, the threat was generic enough to be the battlefield itself as much as any one risk on the battlefield. There generally wasn't a special enough threat to make them sweat, and this case would be no different.
For me, it's not even about team evil being stupid,but rather the still very high risks that both the witch and the warrior would have to take to pull it off. Everyone keeps focusing on the unusually high success rate, but ignores that the failure rate is still high enough that most witches are still not going to try unless they really have no choice. It's a comparatively cheap option for solutions that require specific people to be in the right place at the right time, but out in the wilderness, you don't throw warriors out there where there is a 50%+ chance of failure unless you really, really have no choice, and you don't risk the witch that is probably the town healer as well with those kinds of odds. In short, it never gets to team evil being stupid, because most NPCs aren't going to react that way consistently enough for it to be a consistent threat.
I'm not seeing how cackle has anything to do with it; it lists very clearly the hexes it works with and slumber isn't one of them.
richard develyn wrote:
Location, fortifications, and keeping the other local inhabitants (whether that be giants, dragons, or anything else) from noticing or caring about them. Finding a place that the potential lone wanderers can't and/or won't go is going to be the primary defense. Barring that possibility, creating a space where they can accomplish that same thing is going to be the number 1 priority. Once they have, generally being invisible to the other local inhabitants is the next biggest concern. Even a coven of witches is going to be of little value if even only a handful of giants decide to eradicate the hornet's nest. Thus, even if they have that tactic available to them, they aren't going to use it on every single giant that happens to pass by the outer fields; they will be far more likely to hold it in reserve for any attempts to breach the village core itself, something that if the other defenses were done right, should be a fairly rare occurrence.
People of any kind or any kind of offensive tactic would not be the primary defense. People are only as effective when they are in the right place at the right time, and are expensive to replace if they are lost, whether they are a witch or a simple spear wielding warrior, and going offensive without really good cause simply gives the other locals cause to crush them before they can have any real impact as a whole.
If they had a budget like that, I would go one adept/healer type (could be a witch or druid with a similar focus, but wouldn't have to be), one really good ranger that could lead the warriors/hunters, and several warriors/hunters who could gather food & resources, fend off smaller critters, and provide a warning system that would allow the villagers to pull in their livestock from the outer fields should they see anything bigger approach. I would not have any of them be the primary deterrent to keep anything bigger away; terrain, fortifications, natural or manmade, apathy on the part of those creatures, and awareness on the part of the villagers would be more effective and cheaper in the long run to deal with those threats. People would be a necessary backup defense against a determined assault, but people of any kind should not be the primary tactic against the lone wandering creature. Flesh and blood is expensive to replace and train. Not to mention killing other creatures just draws in unwanted attention from everything else in the area, whether it be other local giants or the inevitable carrion feeders.
w.r.t. the Balor example - I disagree. I think wars are fought in the main by 1st and 2nd level minions with some higher level dudes slugging it among them. That 1st level witch isn't going to *choose* to be next to a Balor any more than, say, in LOTR any one of those humans and elves in Gladden Fields would have *chosen* to be next to a wyvern, troll or oliphaunt. The battle comes to you whether you like it or not.
At which point, the witch wouldn't be focused on the Balor, nor would the warrior that would have to be the second part of the tactic. They might take a shot at one of the Balors if they got exactly the right opportunity, but they would have their own enemies to deal with, and a host of reasons to get out of the way rather than stick around and try to take down the Balor. Most people on the field aren't Legolas or Gimli, looking for the biggest fish on the field to kill; they are just trying to survive, and are perfectly content to not engage the bigger stuff, but rather get out of the way and allow the big folks on their side deal with the big folks on the other side. In the end, it's not impossible, by any means, but at the same time, it's not something you could plan for, nor would it be something that the Balors would worry about. Countless kings in real life died in battle from common attacks, but that didn't stop future kings from focusing on their noble foes, and ignoring the common rabble surrounding them.
richard develyn wrote:
The giant leans his hunting grounds and learns to avoid the occasional village that has that witch like humans avoid hornet's nests. Also, if the giant doesn't try to enter the village proper itself, and is content to grab easy to reach livestock from the fields around the edge and departing immediately, the witch may not have time to get there before the giant is gone, especially if the giant is simply foraging as he travels from one point to another. It would increase the chances of him leaving the village center alone to be certain, but chances are that they don't need to bother with the village center to get the food they need to eat, and the villagers aren't going to try to stop every single giant that happens to be passing by if all the majority of giants are doing is grabbing a meal to go from a bordering field on their way by. They are more likely to develop a warning system so that they can pull in the livestock quickly giving the giant no reason to stick around without actually having to work. Attacks or raids on the village itself should be rather rare in any case if the village hopes to sustain itself, so chances are that other precautions would have been made to protect the core of the village; adding a witch would strengthen that defense, but would be less useful against a more random grab and go happening in the fields around the village, which is what most of the giant's raiding for food would consist of.
And there aren't going to be enough villages in the middle of giant country for a giant to make them a routine place to look for meals, either. If there are that many villages, there won't be enough giants around for it to be a problem. In the end, the few villages that do exist will learn how to avoid detection and attention rather than draw even more attention to themselves by routinely deploying offensive tactics. They may very well develop such tactics as a backup and a last ditch defense, but I don't see it being effective enough of a tactic often enough for it to be a very good primary strategy for the villagers, and thus not common enough that the giants would be that scared of it that they wouldn't look for opportunities to hit the outer fields and grazing lands. Even without the witch, though, the giants would likely find a number of annoying defenses that would prevent them from simply strolling through town.
Just like humans could in theory stand by a hornets nest all day and poke it with a stick, it's not something that any rational person does; too much work to avoid getting stung to death, and not enough reward. The giant would likely see a human village the same way; they could stand there and just annoy the humans with the right preparation, but it's not worth their while just for a bit of food when there are at least 3 other meadows close by with wild game just standing there for the taking. They might go to the village occasionally, but would only focus on the village routinely if the villagers themselves gave the giants a reason to.
As for the Balors, any witch that has a chance of surviving on the same battlefield as two Balors long enough to get close to them probably is not 1st or 2nd level, and has plenty of other tricks available to them. The balors are not going to be on the edge of the battlefield, and no PC or NPC that low of a level is going to want to be anywhere near the area near the two Balors, even if somehow they have the ability to do so without immediately dying.
richard develyn wrote:
I don't think that PCs classes are common enough amongst the NPCs for it to be that big of a concern to be honest. A very small percentage of NPCs are going to have PC classes to begin with. Most of them are probably going to be fellow adventurers roaming the world. The remainder are going to be split up between all of the PC classes. Once you get down to just the witches, you still have to account for a wide variety of builds, many of which won't even focus on hexes, or if they do, not on the slumber hex. It's a large world and access to the necessary training and environment to reach just level 1 would be uneven, with the more remote areas being less likely to produce arcane magic users of any kind, diminishing it even further.
For me, it's not realistic that a giant or lone wanderer would worry about it because I don't populate my entire world with PC class NPCs and most of them that do have PC classes are either are fellow adventurers, and thus just as mobile and a random an occurrence as the party, or geared to very specific tasks or part of some elite force. Village defense, even in giant territory, is not something that requires magic or even PC class NPCs, so the idea of a large group of witches dedicated exclusively to village defense in the middle of the wilds would not make sense. I could see a group of witches who work in tandem with local druids to keep the local giants from getting too out of hand, but not ones that would consider this particular tactic all that useful on a routine basis; it relies a lot on luck and proper circumstances, and would quickly lose the shock appeal as the only remaining giants would be ones mentally tough enough to not care or they would simply do a mass assault and destroy the problem for good. For others, who craft their world differently, making PC classes more common amongst NPCs, it might more notably more effect. For Golarion, it could go either way. My argument isn't that witches don't cause problems; the slumber hex in certain campaigns can cause lots of problems. Rather, my argument is that they cause as many problems as you let them; it's just as easy to figure out why it's not a problem as it is to assume that it's a problem and look for a solution. If in your mind, they are a unique challenge, then they are genuinely a unique challenge to you; someone trying to say otherwise is wrong. That does not mean that they are going to be a unique challenge to everyone.
If you write a module that has a wandering giant (or other lone creature), some people won't blink, some people will blink for other reasons, and some people will immediately fixate on the slumber hex. Trying to write it so that no one blinks is impossible; there's too many ways to approach world building, and too many details that could shape how realistic one perceives any given encounter to be. I would say write something that satisfies you first. If you're not satisfied with it, chances are no one else will be, regardless of whatever it is that you are dissatisfied with. If you are satisfied with it, there will still be people that don't personally like it because it doesn't fit their view of how things should be, but the module as a whole will still be recognized as being good at what it was designed to be, and people who approach it willing to accept it's limitations will still have a lot of fun with it. If you don't believe that the slumber hex is particularly compatible with the module, put a short one sentence warning to that effect at the beginning, and DMs can deal with it accordingly.
I could see as a module writer how it would have a greater effect since you can't assume any given party composition, but for the DM writing an adventure at home, it really isn't that big of a deal. You know the party, you know their capabilities, and you can easily work around these issues with a little planning. The problem when writing modules, though, is that no matter what you write, there will be a party combo that can break it. Trying to plan for the slumber hex simply shifts that broken combo to something else, it doesn't remove it.
dwayne germaine wrote:
That's a play style issue, not an issue with the power itself. Obviously if you run an adventure written with certain assumptions, and try to shoe horn it into a completely different set of assumptions, there is going to be problems. Likewise, if the party wants to be the kill everything on sight type of party, and you don't adjust NPC reactions accordingly, that's a problem between you and the players, not you and the slumber hex. Some DMs like running that type of group; others hate them with a passion; the chosen tactics don't usually matter as much as the overall effect. I think a bigger problem is that many DMs are used to not having to worry about low level adventures the same way they do high level adventures, so they don't think to employ many of the tools already available to them when planning or running 1st level adventures. Having an additional potent low level power changes how adventures need to be written and approached. That does not mean that the base world is necessarily changed, just that how the PCs interact with that world has changed. The slumber hex is notable in that regard, but far from unique or special, save the level that it really comes into play; nothing else is all that different from anything else already in the players' arsenal.
Slamy Mcbiteo wrote:
Sounds like a difference in expectations issue rather than an issue with a single mechanic. You would probably have the same problem if the player had chosen one of the many other potentially broken mechanics already in the system. Countering this one is still a challenge because it's relatively new, so the community hasn't fully figured out it's limits, but things like not enforcing consequences for what is basically robbery in plain sight are an oversight on your part, not the player's.
I'd take the level 10 party any day. The slumber hex + cdg combo relies a lot on luck, while a level 10 party has a far better chance of surviving on skill and preparation. The level 10 party would understand the chances of running into that demon, and would have the resources to be ready for it; even if they didn't win initiative, they would still have a decent chance of survival. The level 1 party would praying to win initiative or they would be dead immediately.
richard develyn wrote:
It might change their tactics and expectations a bit, but an organized assault would not be hindered by the presence of witches. The threat might prevent the random attack from a lone giant, but not always. As someone said before, it just means they have different feats and/or magic gear than they would have before the presence of the slumber hex. It's an interesting tactic, but not an instant win. Warriors could still be lost that have to be replaced, something tough to do in the middle of giant country. The giants could simply learn to throw rocks at anything that moves before approaching the village. Other giants may decide to band together if it happens enough times and put together that organized assault that would require completely different defensive tactics on the part of the villagers. If they kill enough giants, other folks move in that can counter that tactic more effectively. It adds a new wrinkle, as does any new option, but it doesn't completely change the picture as a whole. It still comes down to how much does the DM really want the world to change because of it; it's just as easy to come up with reasons why it doesn't change the world all that much as it is to come up with reasons why it does.
Vivianne Laflamme wrote:
The slumber hex is powerful and would make a difference in how villages defend themselves. It's no more world-changing, however, than other low-level magic. A few dozen sorcerers spamming charm person at the frost giant will have much the same effect as witches spamming slumber. Mass application of magic missile and acid splash will go a long ways towards defending the village.
That to me is the key. It's powerful, but not notably unique enough even amongst magic options to make it's impact that unique. The villagers aren't likely to seek out witches specifically unless the giant problem is truly that big, at which point, they are just as likely to seek out adventurers to deal with the giants directly. The villagers don't have to kill the giant, and may have many reasons for not wanting to actually kill the giant; they just have to be able to do enough damage or slow the giant down enough that the giant simply writes them off as the giant's version of a hornet's nest and wanders off somewhere else. If the first solution they come upon is the slumber hex, great; if it isn't, and the first solution keeps the giants at bay enough, then they probably aren't going to actively keep looking for a witch.
I think that it just seems uniquely powerful right now because it's still comparatively new, and therefore something that DMs are only just now starting to really adjust to in terms of world building. There will be some adjustments, but in the end I don't see very many worlds changing all that drastically because of it. Too many other options, both magical and non-magical are already available that accomplish the villagers primary goal of keeping the giants away. It's going to be a larger issue in designing campaigns, I think, than in designing worlds once the dust fully settles, and more people simply automatically account for it just like they do all other magic options.
richard develyn wrote:
The first part is true enough, and it can certainly cause problems in certain campaigns. Still, the effects on the world are as much as the DM wants them to be. If the DM wants the changes to be a special case for the party, it's no harder to figure out a good rationale for that argument than it is to figure out how to change the whole world around that special case.
The second part assumes that the answer is one that PCs would give, and that is where the problem develops. These aren't PCs; their lives don't revolve around combat and being around lots of magic on a daily basis. They have different lives, goals, concerns, and are more likely to think in terms of the society they grew up in. This means that an answer that would be insane to a party of PCs could be perfectly reasonable to these NPCs and the same would be true with the roles reversed. Obviously a group of settlers going out into giant country is either crazy or they know something the PCs don't if they give that particular answer, but that doesn't mean that the right answer is always magic, or that if it is magic, that it's always the slumber hex. Maybe they know a valley that the giants ignore because the entrance is too small for the giants and mountains around it are too tall to easily climb. Or have plans to make use of the natural terrain to make fortifications. Or have made a pact with a local silver dragon to keep the giants in check. Or lots of other things. The slumber hex is but one of many possible magical solutions, and there are even more non-magical solutions. Ultimately, whatever the answer is probably would not match what a party of PCs would say no matter how hard you try to make it so; they have different goals, different resources, and different concerns. Trying to fight off every giant they see is probably not a good strategy for them because even if it does work the first few times and the reputation of the hex does spread, it could inspire anger and resentment as much as fear and respect, causing even bigger problems. PCs generally don't care because more often than not, they are simply passing through, and not trying to live there on a long term basis; upsetting the local population has far less impact on them.
I guess in the end, I don't see a need for problem A to develop into problem B because the PCs don't live the same lives as the rest of the world, so some deviation from societal norms and thought patterns of non-adventurers is to be expected, especially at higher levels, but even at lower levels. As long as the DM doesn't go crazy and end up with what is basically two separate worlds, having notable differences between how PCs and NPCs view the world is not catastrophic.
On Earth, in the days when people were punished for witchcraft, anybody who was believed to have magic powers would be considered a witch. That means ANY spellcasting class would be considered witches were they to appear on Earth in those times. Even Paladins and Clerics would have to talk very fast to explain what they were doing.
In my home world, there are places where all spellcasters have to do exactly that, precisely because they are spellcasters. Most places don't go quite that far, but the idea that someone using spells or similar abilites, like hexes, would be viewed with a bit of suspicion is not that crazy, even in a world where those things are more common. Having lots of kinds of magic in the world is not always the same as having it all accepted and commonly practiced in a given locale. The only drawing point I took from real life is that "different" is not always accepted (and magic very definitely qualifies as "different" to most commoners; a useful "different" in many cases, but not all, and it's still not precisely normal even when useful), and even when it's tolerated, it's still not always encouraged or supported; I did this because the very human impulses that drive that reaction are still there in a fantasy world, since we are still modeling ourselves to a large degree, even if the precise examples that trigger it are usually different.
In the end, it comes down to how people choose to view magic in their world. Even a published setting like Golarion is often up for individual interpretation. In a setting where magic is widely accessible to the commoners, and thus widely used, having something like the slumber hex is a big deal. In other settings, where commoners routinely look to other solutions first or simultaneously, it's far less of a world issue because the use of magic isn't embedded as deeply. To me, a realistic world is one where different locales respond to different types of magic for different reasons, some rational, some not so rational. Having every village in the world have a witch with the slumber hex is not realistic to me, because magic isn't so universally useful that every single village is going to reach the same solution to how to defend their village or be that reliant on just magic.
True, but that would make the jealousies that come with having power that much greater, since some people might be compelled to use social structures to limit such individuals, as they couldn't affect the actual power base.
This isn't to say that all witches, or indeed PC classes in general (since like the frost giant example, a focus on the witch alone is actually a bit narrow), would be shunned, just that many on this thread are assuming that simply having the power, and the potential for that power, would be enough to get the respect needed to have a village recruit you, and that to me is a problematic assumption. Many villages in the wilderness wouldn't know about the slumber hex, so they wouldn't know to recruit, and even if they did know about it, fear and distrust of outsiders and, quite possibly, unknown magic, in general would limit their willingness to openly recruit. That isn't to say that they would chase away a local or an immigrant that showed that particular talent, but the idea that every village would go looking for it is a bit of a stretch.
Just like few villages anywhere would actively ask a wizard to build a tower on the edge of their fields, a witch, or indeed any arcane caster would not have the social pull to make them that valued to a simple commoner who can just as easily get rid of the giant by having the village give that giant 5 goats every year for leaving them alone and 5 more for keeping other giants from bothering them. Even many divine casters would likely have the same difficulties, depending on the location of the village, and the predominant faith of the region.
We as players, DMs, and module writers tend to think of casters as an indispensable part of the fantasy economy, when in reality, for pretty much every world I've seen other Eberron, with Golarion and even FR being part of the former group, there is nothing that makes magic that critical to the common person. They could just as easily hire a retired level 15 fighter to train the villagers how to fight and/or an engineer to help them make basic, but still useful, fortifications. This would have the same basic effect as the giant fearing a witch putting them to sleep, and be possible at more or less the same cost. Magic is still a powerful tool, but it's not the only tool available.