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Also, if the PCs always use the same tactics, smart bad guys can research and counter them. E,g., protection from energy often nerfs a shocking grasp magus build... Other techniques might apply to other characters.
Important: do this lightly. You do NOT want to turn this into a GM-vs-players arms race. Nobody really wins those. The occasional smart enemy that takes advantage of the players is one thing. Having every enemy nerf them automatically tends not to be fun.
I kind of eyeballed the prices, and what you were getting, and 1 cp = 1$ worked out pretty well. It's a good rule of thumb, not much more.
Of course, the magic item economy still makes no sense when compared to the everything-else economy. Mass production and computers, in particular, make big big differences. ("Yes, my Stone Of All Recorded Knowledge and Hypnotic Pattern Generator costs 6 gp"... fondles iPad...)
Lesser planar binding and lesser planar ally can both call creatures capable of teleportation -- probably the simplest and easiest are lantern archons, with greater teleport and truespeech. Probably going to be mostly used by either lawful/good temples, or by wizards of some skill, so not in common use, but I would be very surprised if major governments did not have some access to this. Teleporting creatures can repeat messages, and carry packages with them, so great for mail delivery. (On Golarion, I can certainly see Abadar's priests running a network like this -- after all, post offices are one of the foundations of civilization -- "neither snow, nor rain, nor hail, nor sleet, nor dragons, nor krakens, shall stay these carriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds".)
Rangers and druids with animal messenger are more likely to be helping the common folk.
Sending spells are short (25 words per casting) but allow a reply. Again, expensive to pay for, but not impossible.
Another thing to keep in mind: traps can be used as part of an encounter. If the PCs are busy dodging sword-swinging orcs, or charging down a corridor towards the archers shooting them, they may not have time to check carefully for magical auras, tripwires, pressure plates, pits in the floor, nets dropping from above, etc.
Or one can use traps to separate the party -- e.g., a portcullis dropping from the ceiling, or the classic forcecage-with-hamatula, or something in between, to isolate one or more of the PCs from each other, allowing enemies to gang up on part of the party. (This can be lethal.)
Alarm-type traps (bells, falling stones, etc.) can be used to let monsters know that something is coming, allowing them to prepare, or combine forces, or flee the area.
It seems to me that some roleplaying encounters, trying to kindle faith in their worshippers, might be appropriate. (Are there any left? How long is it since the gods killed each other off?)
Do the players know about the campaign arc? Do the _characters_ know what they used to be? The first adventures might involve finding that out.
I would wait a bit on finding their old relics -- these might be overpowered at first, unless they're the sort of thing where "the first piece is +1, the second increases both pieces to +2, the third all three to +3, etc.) Maybe the first thing might be to cleanse an old temple (a Pantheon, a temple to all the gods) that's been taken over by something. Defeating that group can be the first campaign arc (and if the PCs or the characters don't know, then cleansing the temple can start revealing their pasts, provide them with a base, and with their first influx of mythic power.)
Also, you want adversaries. Perhaps a guild of wizards who are happy to have the gods not be in their hair any longer? Perhaps a bunch of oracles who have found a new way to channel divine power? Perhaps a kingdom of atheists (like Rahadoum in Golarion?) Perhaps two or three different adversary groups, some of whom could be converted but others who must be fought? Perhaps dark abominations lurking in the depths below the depths?
The Eich, because every setting needs a race of competent evil alien overlords; and the Delgonians, because every space opera setting also needs bad guys who are so villainous nobody can defend them, even the competent evil alien overlords.
Also, the climax of the AP where the heroes have to figure out how to hijack control of the sunbeam's control center to prevent the Delgonians from using Sarenrae's fire to vaporize Castrovel and Akiton at the same time during the once-a-millennium lineup of the two worlds ought to be worth the price of admission.
Baron Drelev has a bunch of hill giants as enforcers.
Sorceror uses his insanely highly Bluff check to convince all the hill giants that there is free beer in town. Hill giants all race down into town, leaving the Baron's castle ill-defended.
Afterwards, sorceror convinces the now-angry-at-lack-of-beer hill giants that the beer is really across the lake in the swamp hex full of annoying monsters. Most giants last seen rowing across the lake. No more annoying monsters seen.
I generally think hunkering down in the dungeon is a bad idea -- but that ties in with me wanting enemy forces to be reactive.
I'm not much for mega-dungeons, unless the whole campaign is going to be about them. (It's like a city, only underground; LOTS of stuff is going on.)
But I do want adventure design that includes, say, an evil temple, or a bandit lair, or a mysterious castle, to have some idea of how the sort of reasonably capable people of questionable sanity that inhabit the place would plan against the threat, or react against the reality, of outside attack. Of course, you can't write that all up in an adventure, because there'd be too much of it (and guaranteed your players WOULD come up with something the module writers never saw coming), so a lot of boils down to "GM judgment call".
But some suggestions and plans might be very helpful to a GM, even if most of it is only "basic watchkeeping 101" combined with "first-order effects of how magic changes that".
General precautions taken by legitimate Authority (Or, why my Level 3 Kitsune Fey Bloodline Sorcerror isn't ruling the world)
I assume that local good temples will do a certain amount of this kind of stuff for free on a regular basis as part of their civic duty -- e.g., magic circle against evil, detect charm on leaders, other protective spells as the occasion seems to demand. Ditto an authorized wizards' guild -- part of their founding charters is that they provide magical security to the local ruling class or the city.
People with major resources probably have the wherewithal to get their court wizard to cast lots of permanent spells on them, and do other spellcasting on a regular basis. (Why does the spellcaster do this instead of taking over? If he's a lawful or good cleric, it's what his god wants; if he's not an out-and-out dominant himself, he may assume that letting someone else take care of all the irritating details AND pay him while he busies himself with the really fun stuff like magic is a really good deal -- not every spellcaster is the sort of personality type who's out to rule the world -- "wants to rule, and is good at it" is orthogonal to "magical talent".)
In my campaign worlds, most of this stuff exists in the background; it's there, but not mentioned unless it becomes relevant. Major buildings are warded in various ways, and there are mundane means as well (e.g., lead-lined "secure rooms" to block scrying, or hallow spells on any major religious buildings.) Most people are vaguely aware of this and don't do too much to rock the status quo (A good Knowledge or Profession check would let one know what the local rules are, though details of security spells are often kept secret.)
A few good outsiders (planar ally or just "sent by the local patron deity") are likely to be hanging out in the ethereal plane keeping an eye out for anything too abusive. There might be legal enforcement, too -- e.g., in the late Roman Empire, attempting to cast a divination spell regarding the Emperor, or even calculate his horoscope, carried the death penalty (seriously, look it up).
Generally, a GM should assume that if it were easy to take over the government this way, someone else would already have done it and be the new government, and therefore be wary of anyone else doing the same thing -- which gives you a handy angle to frustrate PCs. (If magic is very rare, or very new, in your campaign world, this is unlikely to apply, but that's campaign-dependent.)
The other thing with optimization is that it's possible to theorycraft for maximum effectiveness in _something_ -- but at the expense of some necessary or useful features. Usually this results in glass cannons, powerful but very vulnerable characters.
Playing in a campaign with a variety of threats may require a variety of defenses. The fighter that optimizes one-strike one-kill melee combat gets dominated. The archer is shut down by the maze of 10' little passages, all alike. The sorceror with hyper-DCs for his charm spells is powerless against the mindless foe. The AC-of-doom defending cleric can't DO anything other than stand around unhit (until his enemies get around to wrestling him). The paladin who can do more damage in one blow than any creature in the Monster Manual can survive but can't figure out the murder mystery. Et cetera.
Optimization in excess of practicality is not necessary.
(Sometimes one's friends can fill in roles. Sometimes they can't.)
It sort of depends. Men can father children at very young ages (14-15) or very old (70+ is rare but not unknown).
That said, for someone who was around about a century ago, I would say great-great-grandfather, assuming 22-25 years/generation, which is pretty typical. You might get away with great-grandfather if you assume a 30-year generation time.
But whatever works, works.
A museum curator is secretly selling off stuff from the vaults to finance (her retirement | her son's medical treatment | a life of drunken debauchery | some cultist who's raising money for a try at the Starstone (he says) | insert your choice here).
PCs are offered a chance to buy something at ridiculously low prices. Do they accept the offer (and deal with the museum's security force when the thefts become known)? Turn in the curator? Blackmail the museum?
Oh, and a couple of the pieces she sold? Really shouldn't have been removed from their lead-lined coffers...
Well, scrying, detect thoughts and clairvoyance/clairaudience would seem to be absolutely essential for a spy or spymaster. Message is too limited in range.
Telepathic bond is amazingly useful for spymasters as it obviates all that tedious difficulty about passing messages. Tongues would be handy if he doesn't have the right linguistic skills, and certainly comprehend languages. Though he should certainly be maxing out Linguistics as high intelligence will make him good at forging stuff.
Secret page will help in concealing his notes, and his spellbooks.
Charm person and suggestion would both be very helpful in recruiting informants! Knock, disguise self, and (improved) invisibility would all be very handy in sneaking around to gather information. Locate object might be valuable.
Reduce person or dimension door would both be very handy in getting into and out of various places, maybe spider climb to sneak up and listen outside of windows or get to other hard-to-reach places. D-door is also very nice for going to/from secret chambers, including the totally-bricked-up chamber where he keeps all his notes and records. Remember to memorize it twice! Once in, once out.
He's probably either an enchantment or divination specialist. I'm guessing that necromancy is NOT on his banned list, because speak with dead is sometimes handy for interrogations, and disposing of your no-longer-useful agents by making undead out of them is an old tradition among evil cultists. Plus if you can control an incorporeal undead you have an unsurpassed espionage agent/assassin who can walk through walls...
He's not high enough level to cast sending, dominate person or geas/quest yet, but he should be looking toward those sometime in his future. He might have a scroll or two of them around for emergencies or to report back home.
Feats: Brew Potion would let him give useful spells and abilities to his minions regardless of their UMD skill, and give him a reason to constantly be hanging around the court inquiring about magic. "Yes, that's our Potionmaster, Harmless chap, but stop by sometime and buy stuff -- he sells at a discount, and has a great wine cellar." -- which gives him a nice reason to talk to anybody and everybody. No one will be surprised if the Countess' maid stops by for some of the Countess' beauty potions, and if she gossips a bit while she's there, why not? (Being a shopkeeper of some sort is a great way to have easy access to all sorts of people, and it helps hide him from the PCs and/or any police.... Bonus points if he can get the PCs to be (unknowing) informants, or give them fetch quests!)
Spell Mastery, though seldom used, would be great if he has several spells he regularly uses and never wants to be without, especially if he doesn't want anyone knowing he has access to them by looking in his spellbooks. (He may have an extra spellbook or two lying around in concealed cubbyholes, well-disposed.)
Still Spell and (especially) Silent Spell would help him use magic with less chance of detection, but he might have Spell Focus in either enchantment or divination, as well as other feats to help him cast spells unnoticed.
The players meet a talking cat on the island. The dead wizard's old familiar is hanging around, and might,, or might not, be willing to feed the players accurate information.
Being a shape shifting quasit or imp, he's got his own goal in mind - the wizard's soul is still somewhere in the area and he wants the players to release it so he can grab it and take it home. But he'd rather not die in the process... and he's not averse to becoming the familiar of one of the players, if things should chance that way....
For a Lawful Evil plane, imagine that you are Dilbert, and that the Pointy-Haired Boss, Catbert the Evil HR Director, and Mordac the Preventer of Information Services are, none of them, the fundamentally light-hearted, friendly, helpful, and generous characters we see in the comic.
Evil is not a team jersey where everyone on the same side works together, like good (mostly) is. Evil is a way of doing things -- specifically, the way that sees "me first" as the organizing principle of the universe. No one out there is on your side, at all.
Not boom. Hordes of undead plus spells that do horrible things to non-undead creatures -- for instance, mind fog or cloudkill. I suppose you could cast communal fire resistance on your horde before starting the fireball-tossing, but using stuff the undead are naturally immune to is just more elegant.
Give them choices -- do you take the easy way or the hard way? Repeatedly...
If they do X to get away, they succeed easily but enemies get closer, or they have to fight someone else ("the easy way is always mined!"). Or they can try the hard way -- if they succeed, the enemies fall further behind or are weakened.
Up ahead looks like the lair of (insert local ferocious beast) -- can you get past him with a Stealth check, or do you go around? Maybe the tribesmen won't puruse, or will wake him up (and lose 1-3 from the pursuit.)
When in doubt, have some drums sounding way behind the PCs.
This looks like a good ambush site -- do you try to lay one? (Be dramatic, e.g., a trail on the edge of a cliff.) If the PCs lay an ambush, they have to fight 1-2 enemy scouts (the enemy has split up to cover the possible escape routes); if they can kill the scouts without them raising an alarm, they gain hours -- if they don't, all the enemies converge on the spot.
The prisoner could have...
...overheard a conversation between the Stag Lord and his father full of the father trying to warn his son about "fey gifts" and their dangers, particularly fey lovers.
....had the Stag Lord rant at him about "the Green Lady" and how she guarantees his triumph, and gave him the owlbear. (Not everything that is said needs to be true. Staggy could have been drunk, or recounting a dream, or something.)
...seen the Stag Lord fondling a locket of green hair (Nyrissa's token), perhaps in a disturbing and creepy fashion.
...had Sarenrae send a very minor angel to protect him the night one of Nyrissas dreams get sent to the Stag Lord and the prisoner gets caught up in the overflow.
...had the druid come talk to him, asking help getting free of his evil son (probably a bluff as part of the interrogation, but maybe not.)
In general, use the kingdom building rules as a rough measure of "how good are you doing", and as a scenario and politics generator. Even with the UC version, don't use it as a gamable system for the players to 'win" at. It's not really well-suited for that.
The primary problem is the lack of negative feedback loops. As you build more and more of a kingdom, it becomes easier to make DCs, meaning after a while it's just about impossible to fail -- and then what? You as a GM want to generate _problems_ for the PCs to deal with, not just have them march to success on easy mode.
So add your own negative feedback loops. Different towns generate unrest if they don't get _something_. Different political groups want _different_ things, and usually these are not possible to fit together. Ambitious people want to be important, and need to be dealt with. Minions get into empire-building, and personality conflicts. Some people start something (e.g., wars with centaurs, or taxes on something some other group needs or wants.) Do some real difficulties for people to work with.
One minor thing I did that worked well was that I generated separate events for each map the PCs had claimed hexes on. Spread out your territory, have more problems to deal with...
Their demon lords like having drow around to worship them, are amused by their plots, and sponsor cloning vats for all the major drow houses, so there is always a new supply around, with bonuses for the extra memories of all the times they backstabbed each other.
"So, that's now 14 times I've murdered you, compared to 8 times you've murdered me!"
The maze is a bunch of twisty little passages, all alike. The reason is to confuse people trying to scry on someone living in the maze -- because it's all alike, they can never be sure that they've teleported into the right place when they try. Stocking it with traps and weird monsters is just to make sure that intruders never make it out again... or at least that they won't be at full strength when they reach the center.
Watch out for summon-monster types -- they're not superlatively powerful but they can bog down gameplay. insist that the guy summoning monsters have all the statblocks conveniently to hand and run them fast and well.
No single tough monster is immune from one-shot knockouts. Have mooks! Or pairs of monsters. Single BBEGs don't work well in tabletop.
Give him some places where he has choices -- e.g., use Stealth to get across the room, or Climb to go up the wall? Don't always force him to use one skill.
Maybe there is someone in the maze he can talk to -- perhaps the gorgons are willing to toy with their prey, or they hate each other and can be convinced to do each other dirty....
Don't make every skill failure lethal -- give him a cushion where the first couple of failed checks just make things more difficult. E.g., gorgons start off sleeping and the first bit of noise only wakes them up, and then they start patrolling.
Have some traces of lingering poison that slow him down (Dex poison, maybe), and perhaps some things in the maze at help counter it (e.g., a potion or two of lesser restoration).
Don't forget Knowledge (local), Knowledge (geography), and Knowledge (nobility and royalty) -- all of these are very very useful for knowing what's up, what the possibilities are, and who all the local power structures are and what can be done about them.
Most definitely talk to your GM! This is really a matter of campaign direction more than anything; there are no particular rules for it.
The Leadership feat will help you have a coterie of devoted followers, but it's more along the lines of a gang or a business or a monastery or a private guard than it is of taking over a kingdom.
All evil works on appearing pretty -- or at least impressive.
It's only after you're in the snare that the masks come off, and you see that Asmodeus isn't laughing with you, but at you. Norgorber isn't selling you secrets, he's buying yours and selling them to your enemies. Lamashtu might have the hot-and-heavy vibe, but you're not her children, you're their food.
The remaining evil deities are left as an exercise for the nightmare-prone.
Divination spells fall into several categories -- you may want to figure out which one(s) of them your class will use. (Note that not even diviner wizards or Knowledge-domain clerics get all the divination spells; figure out a theme and stick to it.)
Category one: Special Glasses let you see things from where you are. Darkvision, most of the detect spells, see invisibility, and others fall into this category. They negate environmental obstacles, help you see through illusions of various types. They're nice if you can fight, or can cast them on combat types accompanying you, but usually don't reveal hidden mysteries. Most of these are low-level spells, though some of them (like true seeing wait till the mid-levels). Magic that boosts your Perception or Sense Motive probably belongs in this category as well.
Foiled by: invisible medusas. "You really didn't want to see me."
Good for: People who want to do things while wearing Special Glasses -- so either buff spells to cast on someone else, or spells for a magic/martial hybrid class to cast on themselves.
Category two: Remote Viewing lets you see things that are far away, usually (but not always) on the same plane. Clairvoyance, scrying, arcane eye; these are usually mid-level spells, and good for remote scouting. Seeing through a familiar's eyes, or an animal's, provides similar abilities. These spells effectively place your eyes somewhere else and let you look around.
Foiled by: being on another plane, lead sheeting, and (sometimes) measures that defeat sight. Some of these spells work with Special Glasses, many of them don't.
Good for: High-magic people who can scry (sometimes) and do other things (most of the time), information gathering types.
Category Three: Brain Implants let you know things and ask questions and act on information that you wouldn't otherwise have. Speak with dead, blood biography, tongues, comprehend languages, speak with animals, find the path, and so forth. Spells that boost your Knowledge skills (including Linguistics and Appraise) usually fall into this category, as do abilities that boost your initiative or let you act in the surprise round. These things are found at all levels.
Foiled by: asking questions of things that don't have the information in the first place, or want to lie. This is where your own skills in intepreting the information (Sense Motive, knowledge skills, ability to think on your feet and/or read the GM's hints well) become important.
Good for: Classes that schmooze with people and use Knowledge skills a lot, detectives and investigators.
Category Four: Plot Breakers are similar to Brain Implants, but are more noted for their ability to make unimaginative GMs cry if used effectively: divination, commune, vision, contact other plane, legend lore, etc. These are mid- to high-level spells (though some classes can get an improved familiar with commune as early as 7th level.
Foiled by: GM fiat, player boneheadedness (GMs may not want to reveal their plots, players may persist in asking the gods the wrong questions), and (sometimes) inability to afford expensive material components. USE WITH CAUTION. Note to GMs: This is one of the things that happens in high-level play; maybe you should talk over these things with your players before getting too high-level. Also figure out what your BBEGs are doing with these spells.
Good for: Any adventuring class, but you can also sometimes get the same information from NPC Mouthpieces of the Gods, or GM Informants. Spells of this power should probably only be available to full-caster classes or very thematically appropriate classes.
When you're designing a class, think about which categories you want them to be able to use, and when they're usable. Special Glasses are mostly good for combat or dungeon-crawling and in the heat of action. Remote Viewing is good for scouting and dungeon-crawling but you probably wouldn't cast them during combat. Brain Implants can be good at any time depending on what ability they enhance, but they're often handiest in face time or scouting outside of combat. Plot Breakers are almost always non-combat spells. Try and make sure your class has more than one option available -- it should be able to do something (not necessarily magic) in all situations.
Witches are great at using their hexes for debuffing (and some buffing), with their spells for backup and utility purposes. Usually it's fairly obvious what to do.
Wizards are probably the best overall buffers and debuffers in the game, if they are built right, and if they spend time thinking about what they need to do, learning about their opponents, and knowing the right thing to do. Plus if they work on adding to their spells known they can very often come up with the perfect tool for the occasion. (Research, divination, and Knowledge skills are all very important!.) You need a fair amount of system mastery and tactical knowledge to be highly effective at this.
(Clerics and bards are really good at buffing, not so good at debuffing, depending on the build.)
In either case, you want to look for several things:
1) who is the rest of your party? what spells would really help them, or really hinder enemies as they work to take them out? You need to work with your fellow players on this, and figure out what makes them shine the best.
2) Look for spells that have no SR and/or no saving throw -- sometimes just changing conditions around someone is enough, and you don't want to fail against high-save enemies.
3) Have spells (or hexes, or whatever) that target several different saves -- and know which save an enemy is weak at. Then use the right spell for the job. Don't throw a Fort save at a giant (good Fort save, high Con) -- throw a Will save instead.
4) Know what your spells do, and how to get around them. Shutting down enemy archers with a pocket rainstorm is clever, but not so clever if your party's main damage-dealer is an archer. (Put up an illusion of a fogbank instead and let him know it's not real so he can easily save against it.) Buff your friends, debuff your foes, and watch out on the overlap between those zones.
5) Research your enemies ahead of time if possible, so you can prepare the perfect spell for the occasion. The middle of combat is not the right time to be thumbing through the 38-volume Encyclopedia of Targets!
6) Have a light hand on the scales -- do enough to let your friends win the battle, not enough that you run out of spells partway through. Often a single spell and some aid another actions (or wands, or cantrips) will be more than sufficient for one encounter. Save your best spells for when they really make a difference. And that way, if things get really tough, you have reserves to pull from that your foes (or the GM) may not be expecting.
7) If you can, get some wands of handy utility spells (the sort of thing you regularly cast), and some scrolls of key helpful spells (the sort of thing where you go "I'll only need this once every seven years, but when I do I will need it very badly." Wands of mage armor, scrolls of stone to flesh. Wands of protection from (alignment of favorite enemy), scrolls of water breathing.. Prepare during downtime, and you'll be able to save the day when things go haywire.
8) If it gives a saving throw, you cast it; if it doesn't, wands or scrolls are an OK source. Higher DCs from you than from items.
Asmodeus would work just fine. No evil is petty -- what matters is to slowly turn the soul away from its orbit around the Light and redirect it into the outer Darkness.
Big evil gets noticed. Big messy evil gets fought. Slow, petty, stuff --- that's the ticket.
(And now you know why Cheliax is so bureaucratic...)