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RPG Superstar 2015

Low Magic / Low level Campaign, Characters maybe being countered, should I be complaining?


Advice


Long story, basically "what due"? Currently level 4, in a "Game of thrones" Setting where magic almost doesn't exist in high levels.

So our current campaign, we are only allowed one spell caster. Which one player picked as a witch. She was given the ability to spontaneously use heal spells by the DM, as he is aware she is the only caster. The DM has a history for not liking caster. Not to mention the encounters seem rather tough and are very good at countering out very specific builds.

Spoiler:
Every fight has her basically using heal spells on the party almost every round, if it was not for her Familiar, she (The Character) would never be able to do anything else but heal. Basically, blowing all of her spells. Her Familiar is effectively an animal companion, the party knows, the DM does not since the Witch character has express that he isn't really having any fun at all in combat, especially having an AC of 12 due to low rolled stats, so we have decided not to say anything. At the table, during the RP sections, he (The player) has his head laying over the table bored out of his mind. Since his characters "Story parts" do not come up as often as some of the other characters. The caster is pretty much dead if so as an arrow nicks her.

His characters overall plot involves that fact that the witch "she" is one of the few people in the world who can cast magic. We expect that would have something to do later on, but I'm not really ranting about the story.

The two rangers, are not really having any true issues since our characters do only 2 things, hit things and get hit. I have adapted to being a switch hitter AC shield ranger, where I shoot with a long bow, and then engage in melee combat when the opponent comes near me. I went Combat Maneuvers with shields as well, and we have a monk who has 16 AC.

Which brings to the next and final part, both the monk and I use Maneuvers, specifically tripping gripping and bull rushing. The enemies we are encountering also have hero levels, but use NPC stats as apose to our ether good rolls, or heroic stats (18/16/14/12/10/8). I don't know which NPC stats he used but I think it was the better of the two. The Monks we fought had 16 AC. The Alchemists "THAT DOESNT COUNT AS MAGIC!!!! :( " where throwing potions at us pretty hard. They all had about 30 health, so it is fair to say that they are at least level 2, but I think they where level 3. We fought them at level 3. These guys are cultist, so of course they would try to suicide bomb us when they where close to death. "The monk and other ranger grappled one, more heals for the witch"

There was around 12 of them. I don't recall the exact number, but I killed 4 guys on my own, while the party took out the rest.

All the monks happen to be quite good at escaping grapples and getting up from falling prone without provoking an AoO. Then the stunning fists started flying.

I didn't take any damage do to my switch and hit strategy, and scored the most kills in the fight because of it, but was constantly annoyed that every damn one of these monks got off wall/floor and tried to punch through my shield without me so much as AoO any of them. "My AC of 23 held out, I fear my DM is going to have something nasty stored for me" Both the ranger and I where allowed a bonus ranger specific feat for not being allowed to cast ranger spells every 4/8/12/16 level on top of skrimish.

two of out party members dropped below 0 during that fight. We leveled after that fight to level 4. So as a beast master, I was going to get 3 wolves with the feat Boon Companion. "You can split the HD" Upon telling my DM this when I went to go venture back outside to get these new wolf friends as it was clear we where in over our heads, the entrance... can you guess what happened? Collapses, and the only now is forward.

He pulled similar cards on us before, the other Ranger had his animal companion skin level one with one of the archtypes. "You can only choose a bird, and its at half its health until you get 4" He picked a Roc, and after giving it the light armor feat and crafting it some exotic light armor with the ranks I have in craft armor, its AC was something like 25. The DM I don't think was happy. So when ever we entered an "important area" "See dungeon" the animals would be too spooked, and would refuse to go in............

In fact I even brought a guard Dog with me, and the dog was too scared to go in with me. Since this was just a normal guard dog I bought, I didn't try to force it to follow me.

TL:DR, are we being countered? What should we do if we are? This DM values story over combat, so I can see why he would want to restrict certain elements, but still........ Give me my wolf pack.


Lying to the GM is bad form if apparently everyone agrees something isn't being done right confront him and have a fair discussion.

I'd suggest that the GM makes some houserules mostly aimed at healing up after encounters. possibly allowing half damage to be non-lethal damage and not allow spellcasters higher than half the character level.

In my opinion animal companions and similar abilities should be exchanged in a low magic campaign since their abilities will be quite formidable if the players have no or few magic items.

Either way it is better for the GM to be honest and open on what he does not like before it comes into play and adjust rules for that so you can work with it before you make a character.


yeah, sounds like you guys need to get together with the GM outside of game and talk about what he wants for the game. he obviously doesn't like other combatants on the field, but he should've said something after you bought the guard dog, and after the whole 2 rangers things and the mention of animal companions, unless there's a real story issue that keeps animals from approaching (i know of a couple spells), but that implies that your characters will be out of the cave within the session because it is bad form to negate part of a character's class without letting them know. even if it is for story reasons, it should be made clear beforehand that sometimes the animals may not be able to be present during plot important events.

acrobatics DC25 is super hard to hit at 4th level, even 5th isn't a sure thing (maximum 35% chance) which is the swift action up assuming 20dex, no armor check penalty, skill focus and acrobatic, and 5 ranks. that's a huge challenge for your level.

though the GM could be doing what he thinks is right, giving you a challenge, so you need to know what he expects from the game so you know what you're getting into

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2015

There's clearly a large disconnect between the expectations and styles of play of this GM and players. Discuss the problems openly, and then perhaps change GMs, change the style of the game, or even split and go your separate ways with him finding a group that his style appeals to, and you finding a GM whose style you appreciate.

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.

The two most important things you said are "isn't really having any fun" and "bored out of his mind." You don't really need to say any of the rest.

If the group is not having fun, you need to insist on a change. Wanting to play the game in a normal-magic world is certainly reasonable. If the GM wants to deviate from that, it should be with the agreement of the players beforehand. And even after the campaign starts, should the group find that the majority of players are not having fun, then the campaign should be abandoned or modified significantly.

If that GM can't handle normal magic levels in his campaign world, then he should step aside as GM until he is experienced enough to do so. Perhaps run only published modules for a while. Always remember Rule 0: We're all in this together. It is not a dictatorship run by the GM. The players have equal say in how the game runs and a good GM will be able to provide such a game.

Before the next game session, talk to the GM. Tell him you're not having any fun because you can't use your character's abilities and you don't like having low access to magic. Insist that the campaign be changed or else start over with a new one, rolling new characters. Maybe you should roll new - magic using - characters anyway.

There are plenty of game tables that have what you're looking for. Don't waste your time at one that doesn't.


We where informed of this a while before the campaign started. Of the lack of magic and the "gritty realism". I think the biggest problem is just HOW LONG it has been taking us to actually level, and the time between each session is about 2-4 weeks sometimes, usually 2. Each level has been about 3-5 sessions, so we have been VERY SLOW to level.

He loves low level campaigns as it is very easy "to control" the players. Which I don't mind railroaded plots, but this DM has had a history with "class power" countering. Which is the reason I refuse to ever play a rogue with him ever again. "Your sneak attack damage doesn't work."

Spoiler:

So anyway, biggest issue had to be the last fight we had at level 3. Where we went up against a group of pirates. They had guns and swords, we only had swords. We didn't go alone, we went with a good few level 2 warriors, but these guys where clearly 2 levels or higher of fighter classes, especially the pirate captain, who critical my AC of 23 "combat expertise, breast plate and a heavy shield with 16 dex." "We are using traditional DnD rules on guns." effectively one rounding me. All 4 party members dropped below 0 at some point.

His pirate captain, despite being only at one health, since we charged his first before anything else, came back with vengeance at 1 hp, and was constantly just doing half damage to the party at least, ever time he came out. We still had to deal with his crew, since our back up just got slaughtered due to not having guns, "early guns", being under level, and low rolls. Also, the pirates knew their ship, and used it to their advantage. All of the pirates had again, around 30 health. Except for the pirate captain, who was most defiantly Hero classes, and higher level about us to boot, with 3 attacks, no doubt rapid-shot two weapon fighting with pistols, and rarely every missing.

"Well, none of you died, so it was a fair fight." This has been the center argument of every fight we have been in. Since none of our characters ever die "in this campaign", even though everyone in the party dropped below 0, in fact a few times, the entire party in the same fight, just not at the same time. It just encourages him to make the fights harder or stay the course. In fact, he was mad when my character was able to, surprise round + full round high Initiative and drop one of his monks before they ever acted. The guy had over 30 health mind you....


Not dying does not equal fun, and if SA is not working he should tell you why. It might be time for someone else to take over for him.


What hex did the witch take?

I think 12 hp at level 4 is redicolous and those high stats make way powerful npcs. I tihnk I challenge players enough with the normal npc array with highest 13 before racial bonuses if built to be powerful and not just a single npc.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Does sound like you have to talk about it with the GM.

Every GM I've known (I include myself) goes through a phase where they think that the best game is one where the characters are being challenged constantly to the point where they feel that they are at the edge of death all the time. GM's do this because they think that this makes the game hard core and realstic and ....... because he genuinely thinks that you want to play this sort of game and enjoy the hard challenges he is putting you up against.

Your comment about nobody having been killed, even in really hard fights, suggests that your GM is using a little bit of psychology on you. One of the best ways to build up tension is for the GM to act up how much he wants to kill you and pretend that he is playing against you because he thinks that the "GM can win" when really he is putting very hard but balanced combats at you (and fudging to keep you alive if necessary). I do think that he has overplayed his hand on this though.

In time wisdom comes and you realise that this is not fun to play and rips your narrative to shreds, because if every fight is close to being a TPK, then there is no room to build up tension, no room to relax and have some comic relief before turning the screw again, and perhaps most importantly, your boss fight just feels like any other fight, because every fight is right on the edge so there is no nice feeling of victory at the end of the scenario.

Granted, in a "game of thrones" type world, you would expect things to be a bit grittier than normal.

There are also occasions when you expect to be pushed hard, in a recent game we had all been reading Treantmonk and announced our intention to roll play fully optimised characters. The GM warned us that if we did so he would not pull any punches, and has stuck by his word. It's an excellent game and turned into a proper role play as well.


peterrco wrote:

Does sound like you have to talk about it with the GM.

Every GM I've known (I include myself) goes through a phase where they think that the best game is one where the characters are being challenged constantly to the point where they feel that they are at the edge of death all the time. GM's do this because they think that this makes the game hard core and realstic and ....... because he genuinely thinks that you want to play this sort of game and enjoy the hard challenges he is putting you up against.

Your comment about nobody having been killed, even in really hard fights, suggests that your GM is using a little bit of psychology on you. One of the best ways to build up tension is for the GM to act up how much he wants to kill you and pretend that he is playing against you because he thinks that the "GM can win" when really he is putting very hard but balanced combats at you (and fudging to keep you alive if necessary). I do think that he has overplayed his hand on this though.

In time wisdom comes and you realise that this is not fun to play and rips your narrative to shreds, because if every fight is close to being a TPK, then there is no room to build up tension, no room to relax and have some comic relief before turning the screw again, and perhaps most importantly, your boss fight just feels like any other fight, because every fight is right on the edge so there is no nice feeling of victory at the end of the scenario.

Granted, in a "game of thrones" type world, you would expect things to be a bit grittier than normal.

There are also occasions when you expect to be pushed hard, in a recent game we had all been reading Treantmonk and announced our intention to roll play fully optimised characters. The GM warned us that if we did so he would not pull any punches, and has stuck by his word. It's an excellent game and turned into a proper role play as well.

I have gone through that phase also. I am glad to know it is not just me. :)


Just get the witch to refuse healing the party during combat, and see if anyone dies then.

I'd never play a witch, or any other character for that matter, as a damn boring healbot.


This is plain awful. Low magic campaings are ok (my favourite ones really) but they shouldnt bwme built ar players fun expenses. If magic is unnaceptable in the setting, the plot device witch SHOULD BE A NPC.

Talk to your DM, tell him one of the pkayers isnt having fun. Change the wirch to a NPC, change the game style, or change the DM. The witch player is not an slave. He is not supposed to sacrifice himself so tge otgers have fun.


wraithstrike wrote:
peterrco wrote:

Does sound like you have to talk about it with the GM.

Every GM I've known (I include myself) goes through a phase where they think that the best game is one where the characters are being challenged constantly to the point where they feel that they are at the edge of death all the time. GM's do this because they think that this makes the game hard core and realstic and ....... because he genuinely thinks that you want to play this sort of game and enjoy the hard challenges he is putting you up against.

Your comment about nobody having been killed, even in really hard fights, suggests that your GM is using a little bit of psychology on you. One of the best ways to build up tension is for the GM to act up how much he wants to kill you and pretend that he is playing against you because he thinks that the "GM can win" when really he is putting very hard but balanced combats at you (and fudging to keep you alive if necessary). I do think that he has overplayed his hand on this though.

In time wisdom comes and you realise that this is not fun to play and rips your narrative to shreds, because if every fight is close to being a TPK, then there is no room to build up tension, no room to relax and have some comic relief before turning the screw again, and perhaps most importantly, your boss fight just feels like any other fight, because every fight is right on the edge so there is no nice feeling of victory at the end of the scenario.

Granted, in a "game of thrones" type world, you would expect things to be a bit grittier than normal.

There are also occasions when you expect to be pushed hard, in a recent game we had all been reading Treantmonk and announced our intention to roll play fully optimised characters. The GM warned us that if we did so he would not pull any punches, and has stuck by his word. It's an excellent game and turned into a proper role play as well.

I have gone through that phase also. I am glad to know it is not just me. :)

+1, it can be quite hard to notice the flaws in your own GM style, especially if you do not have many other GMs to compare to.

I'd advise to confront him but make it a good discussion, just be respectful and try to be constructive, a GM tends to put in alot more time and effort in a game than the players and being criticised for your efforts can cause someone to feel insulted quite easily.

Shadow Lodge

Obirandiath wrote:


If that GM can't handle normal magic levels in his campaign world, then he should step aside as GM until he is experienced enough to do so.

You do realize that some GMs/groups might chose to use a lower level of magic because it's what they actually prefer, not just because they're all a bunch of clueless noobs who don't know how to play the game like you are telling them it should be played....right?


Kthulhu wrote:
Obirandiath wrote:


If that GM can't handle normal magic levels in his campaign world, then he should step aside as GM until he is experienced enough to do so.
You do realize that some GMs/groups might chose to use a lower level of magic because it's what they actually prefer, not just because they're all a bunch of clueless noobs who don't know how to play the game like you are telling them it should be played....right?

in this case the Game of thrones setting justify a low magic game. Hiwever, it does not justify stripping the fun from a player, treating him like an NPC, or using plot armor on NPCs. That is simply beinf bad GM


What I am wondering: So, why hasn't anyone committed death by NPC to make an alchemist (the only "caster" that isn't a "caster" so is acceptable per the GM) yet?

Star Voter 2013

Lockgo wrote:
Long story, basically "what due"? Currently level 4, in a "Game of thrones" Setting where magic almost doesn't exist in high levels.

Lots of issues here

ISSUE #1: Low magic game
I’m not sure that the problem is because it’s a “low magic game”, I believe the problem with the PF system itself. Basically, if encounters are really challenging, you can only do a limited amount of actions per day based on how much healing you have, which essentially turns one of the PCs into a “healing battery”.

Even if the encounters are easy, you're still limited significantly by your healing.

D&D 4E solved the problem by having healing surges; the PCs could recover slowly without magical aid, so a healer wasn’t “needed” (desired but not needed). Pathfinder Organized Society handles it by allowing cheap wands of Cure Light Wounds and Infernal Healing (used out of combat), so that healers can focus mostly on offense, and defense only when needed.

How do regular campaigns handle it? Some people make up house rules, otherwise one PC is almost always hosed with spending all of their spells healing. Either that or it takes several days to recover. I guess another solution would be to have an NPC healing battery following the PCs around everywhere. Yet another solution is to use “Iron Heroes” or some other D&D rule system variants that allow for low magic campaigns. Other posters here would know better than me.

ISSUE #2: Crappy stats
You’re supposed to be the heroes; NPCs shouldn’t have better stats than you, period.

And your GM is working hit points properly. NPCs should only have average hp at each level, and it sounds like he’s giving them max hp at 1st level.

ISSUE #3: GM’s lack of knowing the rules
The monks should not be able to get up without provoking AoO, unless you’ve already used up your AoO attacks for the rounds (you can only do 1 AoO a round unless you have Combat Reflexes).

Rangers can’t select an animal companion at 1st level without the Boon Companion feat. Link

He’s being heavy handed with animals in general, especially since a small part of the Rangers power is derived from it.

I agree with the others, talk to your GM about the campaign and possible solutions, it should be fun for everyone.


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I agree with Jason's points.
The fact he restricts animal companions as well, make me think he want to control anything he players can do. The OP said he focus on "story", so he is, probably, one of those oveezelous "narrative nazis" that believe the game is "theirs" and the PC are there just to be sure he has an audience to tell "his" story.

I once had a DM that even planned the combats, round by round. If he NPC was going to Summon Monster inthe sixth round, he had Plot Inmunity to Saves, Plot Armor, and Plot hit points. If the Summon was planned to be dispelled by a PC, that PC had Plot Inmunity as well. I'd never understand why people do this. But it's far from uncommon.

If I were in the OP party (specially being the witch) I'd say to the DM "hey Steve YOUR story is nice. What if you write it in a .Doc and send us by email? i promise you we'll read. Now... can we go back and play OUR game instead of YOUR story?


He can't even select animal companions at level 1 with the boon companion feat, since the animal companion is gained at a certain class level, that is independent of effective druid levels.


From What I am understanding now with how he was running it, is that, so far, many of those encounter we faced where, in many cases, the only encounter per day. So I suppose when you only have one combat instance per day, I guess it was kind of fair ish?...

Encounters in Pathfinder are suppose to work like a War of Attrition, where you are suppose to wear down the resources. However, I see where he is coming from. Even so, hero classes. The standing without provoking an AoO is from a skill trick from Complete Scoundrel, which I myself have. We are allowed to use outside 3.5 books, but it is very selective, for example, only feats/skill tricks have been allowed so far, no other classes or spells, which is fine by me.

As far as alchemist goes, they kind of are not all that good from when I looked at them, especially if it was just for the spells, but I have to take a better look at them again. I was under the impression they could not "share" any of their spells, so it was mostly self buffs. I'll look over it again.


Lockgo wrote:
I was under the impression they could not "share" any of their spells, so it was mostly self buffs. I'll look over it again.

Infusions. They have a whole thing around sharing their spells.

Scarab Sages

@ Kthulu and gustavo: Yes, I realize that some groups choose a low-magic campaign, of course. If that's the case, that all the players agreed beforehand, then I think that's fine. However, my experiences have been that when a GM is highly restrictive it is because he cannot deal with the increased options that become available to players when magic is introduced to the game. From what the OP said, the GM is highly restrictive. And not just with magic, but with many other things that increase the players options as well.

I did not mean to insult those who may choose to run low-magic campaigns. Plenty of experienced groups enjoy games similar to A Game of Thrones. The impression I got from the OP is that the GM is railroading the characters in may ways, and those limitations are reducing their enjoyment of the game. It seemed to me that although the players may have known that the campaign would be "gritty" before they started, they did not know the full extent of what they were getting into. Perhaps I overestimated the effect that low magic plays in that lack of enjoyment. If so, I apologize.

Also, I have experienced GMs who stifled class features and parceled out wealth like Scrooge in an attempt to maintain control of the characters. Such campaigns were low-magic, at least as far as the players were concerned. Even if there was magic in use all around, we could never seem to acquire much of it. Those GMs liked keeping the characters weak, both low level and low magic. Once the game reached a level where the characters needed to have magic to face challenges, the campaign would end. I realized that such tactics were not for player enjoyment - all of us were glad to finally be reaching higher levels and gaining items and wealth. Instead it was a function of the GMs lack of experience in anticipating greater options available to the players. A good GM can either predict and plan a counter for player actions, or become good at improvising without cheating...er, fudging.

In any event, if the players agree that a low-magic campaign is something they enjoy, then more power to them. I agree with all of Jasons points, though, and I'll add that PF assumes a certain amount of magic at each level. Reducing all party magic to, effectively, heals only is not what I'd call fun. But again, I apoligize if I misinterpreted something in the OP.


I agree with you about the excess of railroading. It has nothing to do with low magic though. A raikroading narrative nazi will railroad you whatever the level of magic you play. Sure, it is easier with no magic, as the players have less tools to break railroads and circunvent obstacles, but I ve seen open ended campaigbs in Conan's world, with no PC magic at all, and railroading in Forgotten Realms, where your fellow librarian is a lvl 15 wizard.

In this case, it is just a case of awful DMing. Nothing more.

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