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Absolutes Bedevil the d20 system


Races & Classes

Osirion

A few absolutes that make it hard to challenge a party of adventurers
(and the fixes for them in Pathfinder)

Paladin's Immunity to Fear
--So, the 1st level Sir Galahad, faced with the Queen of Dragons Tiamat, doesn't even feel a bit afraid, secure in his faith(and his immunity to fear). Tough to stomach as a DM, harder to role play properly as a character.

Fix: Add Paladin as a bonus to all STs v. Fear.

Death Happens at -10 HP
--So, a character who has hundreds of hit points, fights for hours against epic evil, and then drops down to 12 hp. He takes one solid blow taking him to -11 and he is dead? Automatically. As damage values for attacks get higher, the 'survivable buffer' necessary becomes larger when death is an absolute at -10.

Fix: Make Death the result of a failed Fortitude Save where the DC is equal to the # of negative HPs. That way, a heroic fighter has more survivability than his arch-mage companion and both have a fighting chance of staying alive after taking a blow from some epic opponent. (Note: This doesn't unbalance the game either, since even a 1st level character has a good chance of making the save from -1 through -10 HP.

Immunity to Energy
--So, a Fire Giant is so tough, he can stand in the center of the fires of Mount Doom, bathing calmly, while any character who even approaches the flames would find their skin melting like the Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Arc? Tough to accept that a Fire Giant is as immune to fire as a Red Dragon who is as immune as a Fire Elemental. After all, the Red Dragon is a creature of magic power as well as physical toughness and the Fire Elemental is actually made of Fire. Isn't this one abstraction too many?

Fix: Make Immunity to into Resistance 25, 35, or 50, depending on how much an aspect of the energy the creature is able to tap.

In each of these cases, the absolutes help make the D20 system tough to sustain at higher levels and against greater challenges.

I don't know if this made it into the Beta but as my playtest is now operating at levels 15+, I can vouch absolutely that these adjustments have proven necessary to keep my games compelling.

Paizo Employee Developer

I don't know if you've seen it, but Paizo's newest full-time developer, Sean K Reynolds, has written about this extensively on his website. I imagine he's going to try to get at least some of that into the new system. Unless they have him getting them coffee for the first few months.


1.) Immunity to fear isn't that big of an issue, in my opinion, since fear and it's alikes are a horrible thing on both sides as it is.

2.) I like 4th's version, or Arcana Evolved if you like, more than I do 3.5. -10 never sat well; why does everyone die at the same time?

0 to -con mod means you're disabled, then -con mod to -con score is dying. -con score is when you're actually dead. Minimum -10.


Another thread actually went fairly in depth on this, I might dig up a link if I have time later. I actually presented a fairly valid solution to the fire giant/red dragon/fire elemental paradigm.

As for dead at -10, I use dead at -(10+fortitude save bonus). It works well.

And for the immunity to fear, I didn't like that either, but a freind of mine raised one interesting point. Paladin's are not neccessarily immune to being afraid. They are immune to the mechanical penalties associated with the three fear categories of frightened, shaken, and panicked. The level 1 palladin in front of Tiamat is completely aware that his life is over in moments, and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it.

But he accepts that his destiny is to die here, a small peice of a greater machine, part of a greater plan. He will do his god proud, and look death in the eye, stalwart and defiant, rather than turn and run, crying and screaming with the panic of the doomed. He knows it will hurt. If Tiamat wants it to, it will hurt for a very long time. But he will endure. Because in the end, a greater pain awaits him. The pain of his soul, should he cry and beg and weep and scrabble for his life. The pain that he knows he would feel when he looks upon his god's face after death and see's that his god is shamed by him, that his god might look upon him with pity, rather than pride. To be looked upon with pride by his god is the ultimate reward, and while he fears, because he knows it will hurt, and he knows he will scream, he will endure through the fear, because his god is watching him.

The paladin is afraid. He just doesn't take a -2 to his rolls. Doesn't work with some other immunities to fear, and of course, other immunities, like druid immunity to poison (Bebilith poison? Nah, im fine!) or some of the undead critical immunity (Vorpal blade + ghoul = I hunger for the marrow...of your ankles!)

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