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So how would "you" do epic level Pathfinder?


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


I have heard that 3.5/Pathfinder mechanics start to break down around lvl 17+ and was just curious what folks think would keep Pathfinder play both interesting in challenging in a lvl 20-30 type setting?

Would the game have to shift gears to some all new style or format? Would numbercrunching become so daunting you would need a reverise scientific notation calculator? What do ya'll think?

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Primal Order.

Shadow Lodge

E20. Until PFRPG 2.0, where it would cap character HD at 9, and then E20, along with a large amount of other changes.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

E6 or E8, plus suppliment rules for things like Kingdom Building, founding a Guild, etc.

Then add on "epic only" feats that are things like "can walk on clouds" and "can drink a lake"


2 people marked this as a favorite.

You two are being lazy buzzkills here. For shame.


There are certain scaling issues in higher level play. For example, a CR 20 fey would need a 34 Constitution to meet the hit point goal in the bestiary table 1-4, which would make their Fortitude save (a weak save) +2 higher than the recommended value for a good save. Their Wisdom score could be no higher than 15 if they wish to keep their Will save within the guidelines.

Of course, that's just an example... one that could be fixed by adding a "Charisma to hit points" ability like 3.5's unholy toughness, as a standard quality on high-level fey.

This could also happen with other monster types if the game goes to 36th level.

Also, designing another nine levels of spells would be an incredible hassle, though new martial abilities would be easier (and a necessity).


The easy way is to force multiclassing, but that's hardly worth publishing.

But in case I wind up wanting epic/mythic someday here's what I'd actually like to see something along the lines of. Keep in mind this is off the top of my head.

* Advance BAB but cap iteratives at 4 attacks and cap the BAB derived bonus at 20 (eg at BAB 21 the attack routine would be +20/+16/+11/+6, BAB 25 would be +20/+20/+15/+10)
* Progress spell slots and spells known, but add no spells. Partial casters might get some spells added to their list from the full caster lists that they can only cast at epic level though.
* No spell may ever be above level 9 (to limit Heighten Spell)
* advance other progressive class abilities
* Do Not advance hit dice. A multiclassed character can trade in old hit dice (eg. at level 21 a wizard-20 that takes a level of fighter can trade in one of his d6s for a d10)
* Do Not advance saves, but a multiclassed character can take the 20 most beneficial levels of saves (eg a fighter-20/monk-5 would have the saves of a fighter-15/monk-5 even if all the monk levels were taken after level 20)
* Cap skills at 20

* I'm on the fence about favored class bonuses, but I'd lean towards not advancing them either to keep hitpoints static.

And one new non-epic feat since all level 10+ slots will be filled via metamagic to avoid screwing spontaneous casters over relative to prepared in the action economy:

hasty metamagic
prereq: spontaneous caster
+1 level slot required. Metamagic effects on a spell cast with hasty metamagic do not increase casting time.

I see no reason this needs to be an epic feat.

For epic feats I think epic vital strike at +21 BAB and possibly improved epic vital strike at +26 BAB would be of value. Also probably upgrades to the maneuver feat chains to try to keep them relevant (or make them relevant again) in the face of high level enemies. Otherwise keep the epic level cap low enough that players won't run out of existing feats.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
icarr757 wrote:
I have heard that 3.5/Pathfinder mechanics start to break down around lvl 17+ and was just curious what folks think would keep Pathfinder play both interesting in challenging in a lvl 20-30 type setting?

A flexible GM and players more interested in roleplay than combat. Seriously, that's all it takes. A GM that hates dealing with powerful characters should stick to low level Ravenloft (old school Ravenloft) style sessions that never extend into the next week.

icarr757 wrote:

Would the game have to shift gears to some all new style or format? Would numbercrunching become so daunting you would need a reverise scientific notation calculator? What do ya'll think?

For the combat enthusiasts? Absolutely. Players demanding a newer, tougher, and more bizarre Rovagug week after week will get bored very quickly.

I've never had a problem with any high-level "math"; I stick to my formulas and index cards and never have some of the problems I've seen posted here.

Andoran

TriOmegaZero wrote:

The Primal Order.

That's probably the only way to do it and not have it suck. Levels 15-20 are so completely epic in the proper dictionary sense of the word epic that the next rational step up is godhood, and deities shouldn't just be modeled as high level characters/high CR monsters (lest this become canon), they really need their own separate rules system. Because you're really playing a whole different game at that point.

Shadow Lodge

Thelemic_Noun wrote:

For example, a CR 20 fey would need a 34 Constitution to meet the hit point goal in the bestiary table 1-4, which would make their Fortitude save (a weak save) +2 higher than the recommended value for a good save. Their Wisdom score could be no higher than 15 if they wish to keep their Will save within the guidelines.

Of course, that's just an example... one that could be fixed by adding a "Charisma to hit points" ability like 3.5's unholy toughness, as a standard quality on high-level fey.

Ug. This kinda crap right here is what's slowly turning me off of PFRPG (and d20 in general). I miss the good old days of "Why does that monster has two dozen special abilities and only one HD? Because...that's why! Suck it up, a critter with 4 hp just owned you."


Kthulhu wrote:
Thelemic_Noun wrote:

For example, a CR 20 fey would need a 34 Constitution to meet the hit point goal in the bestiary table 1-4, which would make their Fortitude save (a weak save) +2 higher than the recommended value for a good save. Their Wisdom score could be no higher than 15 if they wish to keep their Will save within the guidelines.

Of course, that's just an example... one that could be fixed by adding a "Charisma to hit points" ability like 3.5's unholy toughness, as a standard quality on high-level fey.

Ug. This kinda crap right here is what's slowly turning me off of PFRPG (and d20 in general). I miss the good old days of "Why does that monster has two dozen special abilities and only one HD? Because...that's why! Suck it up, a critter with 4 hp just owned you."

I'm in agreement on this point. Boosting Constitution or other Stats is a design trap. Take precedence from various class abilities that pass out Attack Bonuses instead of Hit Die increases (which also increase attack bonus. A special ability that grants just flat out extra HP is not unreasonable, ditto to boosting/reducing saves if needed.

This was done on the Big T back in 3.5. They couldn't figure out what other feats to give him so they just loaded him down with Toughness Feats. Templet and Feat options to do just that kind tweaking post 20 to existing monsters would insure a viable source of "epic" challenges. Obviously with a primer on how to reskin monster stats into new creatures. It's a bonus if the templets and epic monster feats are easy to apply.

Wouldn't the end effect of TPO be essentially E20? You put the breaks on further mechanical advancement and switch to an essentially different system of advancement. I agree this is likely the best method as there are many varied wishes as to how people want to go about Epic.

In all the brewhaha I've tagged 3 different basic methods.
1) Halt mechanics and use alt-system
2) Continue mechanics
3) Continue mechanics and use alt-system (see Divine SRD)

You get variations, such as kicking the level cap to 36 or 40 before stopping, or never stopping advancement, but the core 3 don't really change much during this month or so of discussion. There is a 4th one which Kthulhu and Erik Freund seem to want, but I'm not going to count it because that's just moving the effective level cap.

3e D&D Epic was 2. Although it stopped class progressions it didn't stop the core mechanics. If you wished you could go 3 and add on the Divine rules.

If I were to start putting pen to paper on a PFRPG targeted Post 20 book, I'd begin by looking at ways to cover 1 to 3 flexibly.


Thelemic_Noun wrote:
There are certain scaling issues in higher level play. For example, a CR 20 fey would need a 34 Constitution to meet the hit point goal in the bestiary table 1-4, which would make their Fortitude save (a weak save) +2 higher than the recommended value for a good save. Their Wisdom score could be no higher than 15 if they wish to keep their Will save within the guidelines.

I don't think you should take that table as a set of strict rules; the Paizo monster designers certainly don't. In some thread around here, I posted a spreadsheet that compares the individual monsters in the Bestiary to the numbers in the chart; there is a lot of variation.


TriOmegaZero wrote:

The Primal Order.

Now if only that were actually available anywhere ...

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well if you....oh, you mean legally.

Ebay?


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

There needs to be a way to advance monsters that doesn't take a million years in practice.

Even for my Pathfinder games, I advance monsters using the 3.5e rules, because using the monster advancement table for more than small advancements takes an eternity.

Yeah, using the old "Aberration, construct, elemental, fey, giant, humanoid, ooze, plant, undead, vermin gain +1 CR/4 HD" is rough, but at higher CRs its all pretty rough.

Trying to advance, say, a kraken by more than a couple CR becomes extremely painful using the Pathfinder monster advancement table, since you have to bounce back and forth, and since you have to guess what the above 21 rows are. I'd much rather go "Let's see, I want it to go from CR12 to CR18, that's +6 so I'll add 18 HD since it's a magical beast."

Now try that same endeavor with the Pathfinder table - you'll spend 15 minutes doing the same thing I just did in 5 seconds as you bounce back and forth between size adjustments, ability adjustments, HD adjustments and the table, since the table is based on eyeballing what the hit point, damage and BAB adjustments should approximately be.

I won't deny it's more precise - I'm just not quite sure that the extra precision gains anything, since CR numbers are just estimates anyways.

Dorje Sylas wrote:

In all the brewhaha I've tagged 3 different basic methods.

1) Halt mechanics and use alt-system
2) Continue mechanics
3) Continue mechanics and use alt-system (see Divine SRD)

You get variations, such as kicking the level cap to 36 or 40 before stopping, or never stopping advancement, but the core 3 don't really change much during this month or so of discussion. There is a 4th one which Kthulhu and Erik Freund seem to want, but I'm not going to count it because that's just moving the effective level cap.

3e D&D Epic was 2. Although it stopped class progressions it didn't stop the core mechanics. If you wished you could go 3 and add on the Divine rules.

If I were to start putting pen to paper on a PFRPG targeted Post 20 book, I'd begin by looking at ways to cover 1 to 3 flexibly.

+10

That way groups that don't want their mortal PCs getting confused with divine beings can play, as can groups that want the whole nine yards.

I've been perfectly happy with #2 for years, but I certainly don't want to begrudge anyone the ability to use an alternative system. It's just not my bag, just like the Ed20 systems aren't.

P.S. I just picked up a copy of The Primal Order a few weeks ago. So it can be found.


Just a thought, I was looking at DC Adventures book the other day (I's a sucker for Alex Ross' art) and the thought struck me, this is a game that stats Batman vs Superman and the Penguin beside Darkside, using the same system. Now, I know jack about DCa and M&M e3, which is the system its based on, does anyone here know how they pull it off? Is it doable with Pathfinder? I do know that M&M was originally a 3.0 spin for supers but thats about all I know.

Tia


Quick and dirty I'd use a level cap of 20, at which point characters would select an Epic Archtype to channel XP into. This would swap out previously gained abilities and progressions for grander ones.


Exactly like the 3.0 Epic Level Handbook.

.

.

.

Just kidding.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Frogboy wrote:

Exactly like the 3.0 Epic Level Handbook.

.

.

.

Just kidding.

Replace epic spells with a real epic magic system, and I agree :)


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The few times I had campaigns last this long, I just did something simple that I was doing all along. I used my imagination, came up with a cool story arch and went with it.
Epic items, one shot powers/abilities, and other such things like maguphin (spl?) also work instead of always having to level up. Plus, when the characters always ended up reaching these levels, they were also running guilds, and or other spanning organizations. It was never just them in the fights that would occur.
Imagination and well....that's all you need. Hell for the epic lvl 3.5 game I ended that was 3 yrs in the running 2x a week, when it came down to the BBEG, I had some powers it had outlined, a general idea of how big, and some stats (a joke really at that point), and just ran the fight till I knew it had peaked, they killed it, and almost themselves, and then the prologue rolled and credits and done.


I have some ideas for higher level spells:

Fortify dweomer: one spell effect gains 1/4 CL increase to its dispel DC.
Greater globe of invulnerability: hedges out spells of 7th level and lower.
Mass dominate person: dominate 2HD of humanoids per caster level.
Shadow split: you create shadow duplicate of a creature that functions as if created by a mirror of opposition, but only 20% real.
Shadow sunder: as shadow split, affects one target/3 levels.
Subjugate: as demand, but targets one creature per 2 caster levels.
Irresistible summons: forces a creature you have seen before to appear in front of you.
Plain of portals: creates one interconnected ring gate per four levels for 10 minutes per level within long range that only allies can use.
Disintegrating blast: 40 ft. radius burst that disintegrates all creatures and unattented mundane objects. Can be delayed up to 5 rounds.
Caustic cataclysm: lake of boiling acid slows movement, blinds, causes hit point and Constitution damage.
Mithral body: as iron body, but you take no dexterity penalty or armor check penalty, your weight only increases by x4, and your DR increases to 25/adamantine.
Giant size: touched creature becomes gargantuan for 1 minute/level.
Mass giant size: one creature per level becomes Colossal for 10 minutes/level.
Protean gift: touched living creature gains shapechange.

I have more, but the rules text isn't finished yet for them: cataract of carrion, chronologic cascade, plague of rotting, know secrets, true dominate, restructure psyche, adamantine body, electrocute, field of exclusion, soulreap, liquify, etc.

I'm busy designing new spells and assigning levels. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.

Shadow Lodge

Thelemic_Noun wrote:
You two are being lazy buzzkills here. For shame.

You asked a question, you got some answers.

Qadira

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kthulhu wrote:
Thelemic_Noun wrote:
You two are being lazy buzzkills here. For shame.
You asked a question, you got some answers.

First of all, icarr757 is the OP, not Thelemic Noun. Secondly TN's point was that the answers given were not with the spirit of the OP's intention.

Now, for my answer, here's my $0.02 on how I'd handle Epic Pathfinder:

- continue BAB, no modifications, keeping adding iterative attacks too
- continue Base Saves
- do not continue classes past 20, instead require levels 21+ to be multiclassed or prestige classes
- expand spell slots beyond 9, but do not create new spells, simply allow them to be used for higher metamagiced spells (Quickened Wish anyone? LOL)
- new Simple Templates to increase things like DR, etc
- some kind of Epic setting, so as to not populate Golarion with Gandalfs and Eliminsters.

I don't think I left anything out, but if you can point out some aspect I missed, please bring it up.


CrackedOzy wrote:


- some kind of Epic setting, so as to not populate Golarion with Gandalfs and Eliminsters.

I think there's room for this in connected planes like Leng so the adventure hook would still be in Golarion and the adventurers would be from Golarion, but they might be dealing with the face on Masal sharif or whatever it was called. Or the "people" who sent it. Or that it was fleeing when it tried to enter Golarion. It's almost like the lovecraftian insertions are designed to support linked settings for running extremely high level adventures.

Shadow Lodge

I would do whatever my DM allowed...

*slowly walks away with head held low, hoping not to get beaten again*


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd probably stick with the 20+ guidelines in the core. YMMV

Qadira

Atarlost wrote:
CrackedOzy wrote:


- some kind of Epic setting, so as to not populate Golarion with Gandalfs and Eliminsters.
I think there's room for this in connected planes like Leng so the adventure hook would still be in Golarion and the adventurers would be from Golarion, but they might be dealing with the face on Masal sharif or whatever it was called. Or the "people" who sent it. Or that it was fleeing when it tried to enter Golarion. It's almost like the lovecraftian insertions are designed to support linked settings for running extremely high level adventures.

I was thinking something like Planescape's Sigil or the Epic Handbook's city of Union.

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am going to be an even bigger buzz-kill! Pragmatically speaking, I do not think that an Epic Rule System would not be a good idea for Paizo to really explore.

First off, who runs a campaign that long?

Secondly, with the controversy surrounding the Miniatures line right now, one thing Paizo doesn't want to hear is how much they "suck" for doing not doing it the "right way" (which there are a gazillion opinions on what the "right way" is).

Lastly, would it makes sense from a business stand point to take such a risk in today's economy? I am not sure how big of a seller the ELH from WotC was but when I got it, it did nothing but collect dust!

Don't get me wrong, I would love to see this happen but reality tells me that it won't. I do hope that Paizo can prove me wrong!


Kevida wrote:
First off, who runs a campaign that long?

Me.

I am a frequent poster to the various epic threads and I even hesitated to respond to this one as I largely feel that just about everything I need to say has been said...several times. But...

My current campaign just hit epic a few weeks back.

I do not feel that the game 'breaks down' so much at 17th level as it just starts requiring a good size larger dedication of time on the DMs part. Thankfully I married a wonderful woman, that while not a gamer, she supports my gaming habits. In other words, she doesn't whine and moan when I spend upwards of 4 - 6 hours one night a week doing game prep.

At this point in the game, the bulk of that prep is done making encounters. On a good night I can get through one. And THAT is a GOOD night. Personally I don't want a full blown epic book as much as I just want a book of monsters and unique NPCs with CRs running in the range of 20 - 30.

As for rules, how we did it was this. Every core class has a hard END at 20th level. So, if you max a single class out, your 21st level has to be a new class. Everything continues to stack just as if you were multiclassing at ANY level. No one can ever get more than 4 iterative attacks, but EVENTUALLY everyone can.

In regards to spell casting the rules are pretty much there if you bend your vision of it a bit. We just continue on as if there were 10th level spells and higher. Want to know the guidelines for one of these spells? Add a metamagic feat to a 9th level spell and go from there.

It isn't perfect but it works for now.

We also have a hard level cap of 36th. The reason being that the first campaign I ran in this setting about ended when the characters were 36th level.

Since the onset of d20 this current campaign marks the third one that has reached epic. My first epic campaign lasted about 6 years and since then, the average campaign lasts anywhere from a year to three years.

Take all that for what you will.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kevida wrote:


I am going to be an even bigger buzz-kill! Pragmatically speaking, I do not think that an Epic Rule System would not be a good idea for Paizo to really explore.

First off, who runs a campaign that long?

To repeat what Katerek said above, "me". My current campaign originated in 1974. My current players are 10-12th level (and it took them about 4 years of play to get there) but I have had high level PCs in prior editions. Some of my games deities, well saints / demi-gods anyway, started as PCs in previous editions. I really like a lot of 3.x, but the rapid improvement in base attack / iterative attacks and the level 20 cap on classes can be a pain. PCs go up faster but top out sooner as a result (PF has slowed that down which is good imo). I'd like a well thought out epic / mythic rules set. I can home brew one (and will in the event none is forthcoming) but ideas / systems are welcome. In the meantime, as my players advance the lower end of that will become useful as well (i.e. nascent demon lords as BBEGs). I also find this type of thing useful for world building. And after 37 years I'm still in a constant state of building / rebuilding :)

So, in a few yeasr it would be good to have. By then I think a post 20th level book would be a natural progression of their RPG line.

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

With all due respect I think that most of you are just reading my first paragraph and ignoring the third one. Notice, if you will please< what I said,

Kevida wrote:
Don't get me wrong, I would love to see this happen but reality tells me that it won't. I do hope that Paizo can prove me wrong!

As you can see I DO want this to happen! I am just not going to bank on it. However Paizo has pleasantly proven me wrong before!

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Furthermore I haven't had much luck keeping o group together for long due to the nature of where I live (pretty much a military town) where people come and go all of the time! Therefore I haven't even had a chance to run an Adventure Path all of the way through!

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