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New scenarios too difficult?


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Minnesota—Anoka

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Tamago wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
So again, what are we actually talking about here, Tamago? Is it "I want to be good at something besides strictly combat"? Or is it "I think that being too competent hinders roleplaying"? I've been responding to one, but if it's the other, then that's a whole different discussion. :)

I think the two of us are on pretty close to the same page about this aspect. My point is that some players prefer an interesting character who is versatile and has some resources (skills, feats, equipment, ability scores, etc.) dedicated to "fluff" (read: characterization) rather than "crunch" (read: optimization).

Thus, a given scenario will tend to be more difficult for the "fluffy" character than the "crunchy" one. Of course, how much this is true depends on just how un-optimized the character is. Right now, scenarios are swinging more toward the harder end, which is starting to make things difficult for the folks with unoptimized characters. If this trend continues, it will make it harder for those folks to have fun with the game.

I don't think the situation is impossible, even now. But the point of this thread is that I wanted to raise a flag and say, "excuse me, not everyone is happier the harder PFS scenarios are." I think it is possible to strike a balance; we just need to be aware of the various factors in play.

And I think that’s the point that Jiggy is trying to make. You can make a versatile, interesting character with plenty of fluff, without making sub-optimal choices.

The main thing here is, that in past seasons, players were able to make fluff characters and get away with it, because A) they could float by on the laurels of their optimized teammates, or B) the scenarios trended towards so easy, they didn’t need to actually be a good adventurer or relic-hunter. This was actually bad for the campaign, IMHO.

Especially now that the challenge has increased. I still stand by my statement, that a player’s responsibility is to create a character capable of being good in whichever campaign they are choosing to play. If they choose to make a character that is sub-optimal for that campaign, then they really don’t have room to complain about the campaign.

They don’t have to create combat monsters, or uber-optimized characters to succeed. Not all fighters need power attack (or piranha strike) and weapon specialization. Having a +2 bonus to 3 skills that can be useful either in combat or to avoid/deal with obstacles is its own form of optimization. Just not towards combat directly. This is ok.

But frankly, if a player creates a fluff character that is dead weight regardless of the what the scenario throws at the party (social, combat, traps, obstacles, et. al.), then that player has no room to complain that things are too difficult. They put themselves in the situation of being useless. That isn’t the campaign’s problem.
For the record, my new wife (yeah, just got married on Thursday!) creates concept characters. She doesn’t have fun unless the character is interesting to her, and she can add some humor during game play with. Her favorite right now is her Oracle of Heaven with the Tongues curse. She loves roleplaying the babbling while in combat. She made a couple choices early on that made her character less than useful in combat (although she could heal and kept groups alive because of that). Like the revelation that makes her immune to lycanthropy. No effect in PFS really. But she thought it was way cool, so took it. Now that the character is 8th level, she’s coming into her own, and is very effective across the boards. But it’s a fluff character. Still very effective and versatile. For the record, I’ve given her advice on what to take and what would be better and such, but let her make her own choices. She isn’t going to learn the game if I make the choices for her.

Cheliax ***** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

I will start worrying about season 4 when middle of the road characters are not able to pull their weight. Then I will know that Season 4 is skewed entirely towards optimization.

** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

I think one major factor is missing in this discussion: party composition.

As players, we don't know until we sit down at the table what the party is going to look like. We don't control the party composition beyond number of people and level of character. We don't always have the chance to make sure we have a balance of melee damage, ranged damage, arcane artillery, buffer/support person, and healer.

More than once, I've been in parties consisting of primarily fighters with no healers or divine casters. I've been in parties of mostly small-sized casters where the Halfling cavalier/bard was the only combat character. So far, the worst was the party of all melee fighters (even the two bard archetypes), with no casters or healers among us. (Two characters died in that one (one of them twice), and we didn't complete the mission at all.)

In all cases, each of the individual characters were well balanced and in some cases extremely effective. However, in the particular party compositions they ended up in, they can easily be destroyed.

In real life, the venture captain would not send a party out for a mission that specifically includes performing a religious ritual without sending along a cleric, oracle, inquisitor, paladin, monk, or even a bard at least. But the luck of the draw when mustering the tables has no qualms about this kind of thing.

Since the new seasons are written for 6 characters, the scenario writers have a reasonable expectation of a balanced party. But unless we can come up with a viable way to include party balance in the table mustering process, some scenarios are going to be brutal to certain unlucky combinations of characters.

(Now, I want to point out that I'm only talking about the difficulty of the scenario here: fun is based on a completely different set of factors.)

Qadira ****

if a group of normal dudes who know PF can complete the scenario with iconics it's probably in a good place.

I love the "optimization vs fluff" arguement, but ultimately iconics are a great baseline, they are reasonably designed characters, nothing over the top, but have skills/stats in the right places.

It's frustrating playing with a str 10, dex/wis 14 monk. he does nothing, literally nothing. can't even stunning fist effectively because he can't hit.

He doesn't have skills to speak of, or good ac. I mean if we need acrobatics he's got us covered, but otherwise that character is a complete waste of space.

I understand not wanting to dump stats, I really do, every class has something it's good at, all i'm asking for is at least a 16 in your (obviously primary) stat. If you want to be a weapon finesser, dex, if you're a caster? your casting stat if you want to hit things, 16 str.

usually an 18 is worth it, but not always. on my summoner I sometimes regret starting 18cha (16+2), because it's really not needed, but I like my social skills so meh.

you are not by any means sacrificing role-playing or social skills by having one good stat. if you want to do a very specific combat build and super excel at it, well then you're making a choice aren't you?

Skill feats by and large don't do enough, they are better now but you still don't need them. honestly unless you're going TWF or archer weapon specialization doesn't do enough either :-p, but THW fighters usually have enough feats that it gets in there either way :D

Osirion *

Gwen Smith wrote:
So far, the worst was the party of all melee fighters (even the two bard archetypes), with no casters or healers among us.

If you had two bards, you had two casters that made a deliberate choice not to include healing options.

Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Fresno aka Sarta

Artanthos wrote:
If you had two bards, you had two casters that made a deliberate choice not to include healing options.

Amen!

I've often been the party healer with my Ranger. If you are not flexible enough to meet the needs of your party and the encounter, you are jeopardizing the success of the mission and the lives of your party.

The biggest issue I've seen with the new scenarios isn't that you have to be more optimized. It's that you have to be more tactical. 5 thugs with great swords and a spam-bot healer may no longer be the best tactic.

Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Minnesota—Anoka

Will Johnson wrote:
Artanthos wrote:
If you had two bards, you had two casters that made a deliberate choice not to include healing options.

Amen!

I've often been the party healer with my Ranger.

Yeah, I can't count how many times my Battle Oracle (Rage Prophet) was the only healer at the table. He's a front line fighter, but when no other healing was available, I had to modify my tactics and role to let some other fighters have the front line fun.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

In an ongoing effort to correctly understand and therefore effectively address the concerns of Tamago and others like him...

I think it's important to remember that there are degrees of optimization. Is your PC proficient in the weapon they're using? Yes? That's a basic level of optimization. The question is, how much do you need for Season 4 PFS?

The answer is "some, but not 100%". My Eldritch Knight took Additional Traits (and didn't use it to make Perception a class skill - he's currently rocking a +0 Perception at 9th level). My fighter took Cosmopolitan, and also bought an INT headband (currently sitting at 17 INT with no INT-based features besides Combat Expertise), and has max ranks in Profession (baker). My cleric started with 15 WIS instead of 16 because I wanted 12 INT for an extra skill rank per level. And so on, and so forth.

What I often tell people on Advice threads is that depending on your skill level as a player, PFS only requires about 60-85% combat optimization. I still think that's true, as long as you're honest with yourself about your skill level.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Will Johnson wrote:
The biggest issue I've seen with the new scenarios isn't that you have to be more optimized. It's that you have to be more tactical. 5 thugs with great swords and a spam-bot healer may no longer be the best tactic.

This sounds like things are working correctly then!

I can't speak for the other authors, but when I finally figure something out- I "get it".

Those single bosses were not holding up to a beat down.

Its the economy of action. Now that we have an APL for a 6 player table, I am definitely dropping the BBEG down a CR or two, so I can afford to give them some allies. The 6 player assumption gives us an APL to be able to "afford" to do that in our encounter budgets.

That's requiring a more tactical approach, while increasing overall challenge, which I believed was one of our goals.

Is it good for the community?

Silver Crusade **

I like that trying to solo a certain alchemist long enough for my allies to finish with his cronies and come to my aid nearly cost me my life. The danger made of pulling a stunt like that felt good. :)

Silver Crusade *

LazarX wrote:
David Bowles wrote:

I wasn't trying to be insulting. I was just making a statement based off observations.

PFS scenarios don't throw such challenging encounters than one can't both be a concept character and be effective. It might be more difficult in the homebrews I play. We have very difficult encounters as a staple.

That statement needs to be qualified a bit. The new scenarios definitely exclude concept characters that rely heavily on being carried through by their companions. Concepts that can't pull their weight are going to become very obvious in Season 4, which does seem to be a response to the growing amount of power gaming in PFS proper.

Why would one want to play a character that has to be carried? What happens when a party of these types of characters are thrown together?

Silver Crusade *

Todd Morgan wrote:
I will start worrying about season 4 when middle of the road characters are not able to pull their weight. Then I will know that Season 4 is skewed entirely towards optimization.

A group of 6 "middle of the road" characters will still win season 4 scenarios pretty easily. Combat twinks will still break the scenarios fairly trivially with insane mathematics.

Silver Crusade *

Jiggy wrote:

In an ongoing effort to correctly understand and therefore effectively address the concerns of Tamago and others like him...

I think it's important to remember that there are degrees of optimization. Is your PC proficient in the weapon they're using? Yes? That's a basic level of optimization. The question is, how much do you need for Season 4 PFS?

The answer is "some, but not 100%". My Eldritch Knight took Additional Traits (and didn't use it to make Perception a class skill - he's currently rocking a +0 Perception at 9th level). My fighter took Cosmopolitan, and also bought an INT headband (currently sitting at 17 INT with no INT-based features besides Combat Expertise), and has max ranks in Profession (baker). My cleric started with 15 WIS instead of 16 because I wanted 12 INT for an extra skill rank per level. And so on, and so forth.

What I often tell people on Advice threads is that depending on your skill level as a player, PFS only requires about 60-85% combat optimization. I still think that's true, as long as you're honest with yourself about your skill level.

60-85%? Try 30-50%. PFS does not seem to use multiple opponents with two-handed weapons with cleave in a single fight. PFS does not seem to use multiple spell casters per combat. PFS does not seem to use multiple archer builds per combat. PFS does not seem to use multiple barbarian templated opponents with sunder per combat. These encounters require optimization.

PFS still trots out way too many schmucks for 60-85% optimization to be required. Too many fights can be won by "facerolling" the proverbial keyboard. In my homebrews, after level 3 or 4, most opponents are templated with PC classes and given appropriate gear for the template level.

Silver Crusade *

Benrislove wrote:

if a group of normal dudes who know PF can complete the scenario with iconics it's probably in a good place.

I love the "optimization vs fluff" arguement, but ultimately iconics are a great baseline, they are reasonably designed characters, nothing over the top, but have skills/stats in the right places.

It's frustrating playing with a str 10, dex/wis 14 monk. he does nothing, literally nothing. can't even stunning fist effectively because he can't hit.

He doesn't have skills to speak of, or good ac. I mean if we need acrobatics he's got us covered, but otherwise that character is a complete waste of space.

I understand not wanting to dump stats, I really do, every class has something it's good at, all i'm asking for is at least a 16 in your (obviously primary) stat. If you want to be a weapon finesser, dex, if you're a caster? your casting stat if you want to hit things, 16 str.

usually an 18 is worth it, but not always. on my summoner I sometimes regret starting 18cha (16+2), because it's really not needed, but I like my social skills so meh.

you are not by any means sacrificing role-playing or social skills by having one good stat. if you want to do a very specific combat build and super excel at it, well then you're making a choice aren't you?

Skill feats by and large don't do enough, they are better now but you still don't need them. honestly unless you're going TWF or archer weapon specialization doesn't do enough either :-p, but THW fighters usually have enough feats that it gets in there either way :D

Monks have a hard life in PFS. They are MAD, and there are no item creation feats for half price AC and stat booster gear. The best I can come up with is an 18 DEX human that is a finesse build and agile maneuver build.

Cheliax ***

Try monk2 (master of many styles/iron mountain)/fighter 1(armor master for DR6/- at higher levels but any fighter works)

Wearing fullplate +1 (2650 gold for +10 AC) total AC 22 (at level 3) with no buffs. Has power attack, snake style, snake fang, pather style, panther parry (gets 3 AOO's from dex, 3 from wisdom can make 7 attacks in 1 round at 1d6+6, and 1 at 1d10+9 gets 1 AOO's per person who attacks him while he is moving 2 if they miss)

Maximum single target damage in 1 round is 4 hits (for 1d6+6 each kick so 21-36 damage from 3 kicks, and 10-19 from 1 nodachi hit for a total of 31-45 damage to a single target in 1 round), 1 from panther AOO which he provokes by moving, 1 from Snake AOO if the opponent misses his AC 22, 1 from immediate action snake style, 1 nodachi attack (18-20 1d10+9). All 4 attacks are at full BAB -1 for power attack.

Thats just one of many monk builds thats effective at low levels, and stays effective into the higher tier, I have never found a point of dex based monks as you are basically useless till you can afford a 5k item (which requires a minimum level of 4 by which time you have played at least 9 sessions)

Cheliax *

Mike Shel wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
The problem with saying "X" scenario is Easy/Average/Difficult is that it varies so wildly from table to table. <snip>

Ditto this.

@Kyle: you left out one extremely important variable: GM EQ (Evil Quotient).

That's rather redundant, i.e. ALL GMs are evil.

Andoran ****

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
baron arem heshvaun wrote:
That's rather redundant, i.e. ALL GMs are evil.

I'm not.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

TriOmegaZero wrote:
baron arem heshvaun wrote:
That's rather redundant, i.e. ALL GMs are evil.
I'm not.

Exactly what an evil GM would say!

Andoran ****

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
baron arem heshvaun wrote:
That's rather redundant, i.e. ALL GMs are evil.
I'm not.
Exactly what an evil GM would say!

But an evil GM would know not to say it, as that would blow his cover!

** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

Artanthos wrote:
Gwen Smith wrote:
So far, the worst was the party of all melee fighters (even the two bard archetypes), with no casters or healers among us.
If you had two bards, you had two casters that made a deliberate choice not to include healing options.

Exactly. Even though they could both use CLW wands, neither was built as a support character. Forcing either one to be the party healer was not an effective use of their archetypes.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Gwen Smith wrote:
Artanthos wrote:
Gwen Smith wrote:
So far, the worst was the party of all melee fighters (even the two bard archetypes), with no casters or healers among us.
If you had two bards, you had two casters that made a deliberate choice not to include healing options.
Exactly. Even though they could both use CLW wands, neither was built as a support character. Forcing either one to be the party healer was not an effective use of their archetypes.

Depends on whether you're meaning "party healer" as "having a wand to use between fights" or "making feeble attempts at healing in combat when actions would be better used ending the fight faster".

Most games I've played or run, all healing is done via wands after combat. No matter how melee-focused a bard is, there's no reason they couldn't do that too.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston aka Rogue Eidolon

Mattastrophic wrote:

Something worth noting here...

The combats in late Season 3 and early Season 4 have been noticeably tougher than before, but there appear to be no reduction in the number of them per module.

This time-extension has meant that our local session times have been expanding to encompass six-plus hours of play, because of all the extra time spent on dealing with combat.

It would be nice to maintain the trend of challenging combats, ones where wands of cure light wounds don't cut it as a sole source of healing and where arcane ability is important, but also to have fewer of them, so that we have the option of running five-hour sessions again.

-Matt

I'll second this. I love the challenge of the new scenarios. They make you think and use your resources wisely if you want to consistently win without a super-optimized party (and it's certainly doable). However, this sometimes makes the combats take way longer, making the whole scenario take way longer. A good example--

Golemworks Incident:
Both the simulacrum fight (with all the other helpers and the elemental) and the actual Black himself take a good deal of time to run. They are awesome dynamic encounters, particularly Black is a great example of a BBEG Wizard fight done right (as opposed to some earlier scenarios). The scenario also has great RP opportunities at several points--at the Golemworks, with the simulacrum before he attacks, at the Dollhouse if they pose as doll buyers. Even with skipping the optional encounter (which has been done at 100% of tables I know of), this still tends to run long, and I'd hate to see the great RP opportunities be what gets cut for time. I know when I ran this one, it went super long due in part to the party being good at surviving but not as quick on the knockouts in these fights.

And, of course, woe betide she who runs a Season 4 at a con with a 4 hour slot. The only one I've seen so far that could manage that is Goblin Guild, and then only because Color Spray and its ilk are swift fight-enders at low levels in any scenario

Goblin Guild:
But particularly one full of low-Will humanoids

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston aka Rogue Eidolon

Jiggy wrote:
Gwen Smith wrote:
Artanthos wrote:
Gwen Smith wrote:
So far, the worst was the party of all melee fighters (even the two bard archetypes), with no casters or healers among us.
If you had two bards, you had two casters that made a deliberate choice not to include healing options.
Exactly. Even though they could both use CLW wands, neither was built as a support character. Forcing either one to be the party healer was not an effective use of their archetypes.

Depends on whether you're meaning "party healer" as "having a wand to use between fights" or "making feeble attempts at healing in combat when actions would be better used ending the fight faster".

Most games I've played or run, all healing is done via wands after combat. No matter how melee-focused a bard is, there's no reason they couldn't do that too.

You're missing out on the fun GM conundrum of whether to go for the kill against teams with those ubiquitous Fast Channel + Phylactery clerics who heal the whole party for 12d6 at level 7.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Focus fire on the cleric, obviously. ;)

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston aka Rogue Eidolon

Jiggy wrote:
Focus fire on the cleric, obviously. ;)

Heh, you'd have loved it when I had two of these at one table. The enemy team didn't have the raw damage to drop both. Since it was an overland journey scenario with only one encounter that day, they could blow all their channels on it too, and the damage dealers went to town, since the clerics had built lots of defense, expecting to be focused. I chuckle a bit at the idea that healing can't be effective--though it's still quite true that one of those combat bards wasting turns to heal people in Gwen's example would have been a bad idea.

Shadow Lodge ***

Kyle Baird wrote:
Thod wrote:
One aspect not mentioned that can make or break an encounter is dice rolling. Initiative for the BBEG is the most difficult here as it makes a hell of a lot of difference if the group can act, can't act, can partially act.
This is why my NPCs go on an initiative of 11+Modifier. Don't like that? Tough. ;-)

Can't make that kind of ruling in PFS though.

Lantern Lodge ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
David Bowles wrote:
LazarX wrote:
David Bowles wrote:

I wasn't trying to be insulting. I was just making a statement based off observations.

PFS scenarios don't throw such challenging encounters than one can't both be a concept character and be effective. It might be more difficult in the homebrews I play. We have very difficult encounters as a staple.

That statement needs to be qualified a bit. The new scenarios definitely exclude concept characters that rely heavily on being carried through by their companions. Concepts that can't pull their weight are going to become very obvious in Season 4, which does seem to be a response to the growing amount of power gaming in PFS proper.
Why would one want to play a character that has to be carried? What happens when a party of these types of characters are thrown together?

Some people have a strange wish to make subfunctional nearly completely dysfunctional characters and insist that they made it through Pathfinder Boot Camp somehow.

Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Minnesota—Anoka

Avatar-1 wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
Thod wrote:
One aspect not mentioned that can make or break an encounter is dice rolling. Initiative for the BBEG is the most difficult here as it makes a hell of a lot of difference if the group can act, can't act, can partially act.
This is why my NPCs go on an initiative of 11+Modifier. Don't like that? Tough. ;-)
Can't make that kind of ruling in PFS though.

Sure he can. GM's aren't required to show their die rolls, and Guide 4.2, page 34, Table Variation, indicates otherwise.

*

Yep GM dice fudging has always been in the realm of legal. A GM can't mess with the modifiers but they are perfectly with in their right to determine what their dice roll. In Kyles case he rolls an 11 for initiative. I consider that to be pretty dang fair (and might even steal the idea) as most players with high mods will probably still go before the BBEG but the BBEG will probably not go last and make the encounter a total bore fest (Dying before it gets a turn).

Grand Lodge **

If Kyle's BBEG has an initiative mod of +2 or less, I will always go before him. :D

Qadira ****

Avatar-1 wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
Thod wrote:
One aspect not mentioned that can make or break an encounter is dice rolling. Initiative for the BBEG is the most difficult here as it makes a hell of a lot of difference if the group can act, can't act, can partially act.
This is why my NPCs go on an initiative of 11+Modifier. Don't like that? Tough. ;-)
Can't make that kind of ruling in PFS though.

yeah, I agree that by the rules this isn't correct, but it feels nitpicky. (not calling you out avatar, really, just trying to draw the line somewhere).

Ultimately it's not a major change, it's not how the game works, it's simply "evening things out" if all the monsters spike initiative rolls it artificially makes encounters more difficult, and rolling 1's make encounters easier, averaging out those rolls does keep scenario balance imo (and reduces variance to only the player's rolls). Is that bad? should we be condemning GMs for it? Or should we perhaps look at that as something GMs SHOULD do?

What about other things like pre-rolling initiatives? or perceptions?

Qadira *** Venture-Captain, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Thorkull

Benrislove wrote:

Ultimately it's not a major change, it's not how the game works, it's simply "evening things out" if all the monsters spike initiative rolls it artificially makes encounters more difficult, and rolling 1's make encounters easier, averaging out those rolls does keep scenario balance imo (and reduces variance to only the player's rolls). Is that bad? should we be condemning GMs for it? Or should we perhaps look at that as something GMs SHOULD do?

What about other things like pre-rolling initiatives? or perceptions?

Personally, I dislike pre-rolling anything. I also don't particularly care for having NPCs "take 11" on their initiative rolls. You could balance the encounters by having them "take 11" on their attack rolls and "take 5" on their longsword damage rolls, too. Fireballs could all do average damage, variable spell durations could always "roll" average, etc. That will greatly even out the difficulty between different run-throughs of the same scenario.

However, that doesn't sound like it's the same game I'm playing, at all. Part of the fun of the game is the extreme and unpredictable results that come from using polyhedral solids as random number generators.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Avatar-1 wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
Thod wrote:
One aspect not mentioned that can make or break an encounter is dice rolling. Initiative for the BBEG is the most difficult here as it makes a hell of a lot of difference if the group can act, can't act, can partially act.
This is why my NPCs go on an initiative of 11+Modifier. Don't like that? Tough. ;-)
Can't make that kind of ruling in PFS though.

It's no different than prerolling NPC initiatives. It speeds up the game w/o overly affecting the player experience.

Qadira ****

Jonathan Cary wrote:


Personally, I dislike pre-rolling anything. I also don't particularly care for having NPCs "take 11" on their initiative rolls. You could balance the encounters by having them "take 11" on their attack rolls and "take 5" on their longsword damage rolls, too. Fireballs could all do average damage, variable spell durations could always "roll" average, etc. That will greatly even out the difficulty between different run-throughs of the same scenario.

However, that doesn't sound like it's the same game I'm playing, at all. Part of the fun of the game is the extreme and unpredictable results that come from using polyhedral solids as random number generators.

I'm against pre-rolling things in general, but GMs do it in PFS and it's technically legal (i think, probably. whatever).

I'm not really advocating GMs having NPCs take 11, however I think it would be reasonable for some NPC types (big boss wizards or something) to have "set" initiatives in modules to limit the randomness.

if the enemy archer shoots first, or fighter charges first. Not a big deal, if the enemy wizard black tentacles the entire party before they can move? worse.

Should that be part of the writing to help make for "difficult" but not overly lethal encounters?

Qadira ****

Kyle Baird wrote:
Avatar-1 wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
Thod wrote:
One aspect not mentioned that can make or break an encounter is dice rolling. Initiative for the BBEG is the most difficult here as it makes a hell of a lot of difference if the group can act, can't act, can partially act.
This is why my NPCs go on an initiative of 11+Modifier. Don't like that? Tough. ;-)
Can't make that kind of ruling in PFS though.
It's no different than prerolling NPC initiatives. It speeds up the game w/o overly affecting the player experience.

Except that you didn't roll? what if that +7 init NPC wizard would have rolled a 1? also you're giving them a minor numerical boost by rounding up :D

It's different for sure, I'm not saying bad, but it is different.

Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Fresno aka Sarta

I pre-roll, using initiative cards. I find it speeds things up. However, as someone who rolls everything else publicly, I can understand why folks wouldn't like pre-rolling.

I do like rolling, simply because it means that not all NPC's go simultaneously. I only fudge one particular NPC's initiative if it seems high (a certain halfling barbarian).

Lantern Lodge ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Artanthos wrote:
Gwen Smith wrote:
So far, the worst was the party of all melee fighters (even the two bard archetypes), with no casters or healers among us.
If you had two bards, you had two casters that made a deliberate choice not to include healing options.

Save that bards CAN use CLW wands.

** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

Jiggy wrote:
Gwen Smith wrote:
Artanthos wrote:
Gwen Smith wrote:
So far, the worst was the party of all melee fighters (even the two bard archetypes), with no casters or healers among us.
If you had two bards, you had two casters that made a deliberate choice not to include healing options.
Exactly. Even though they could both use CLW wands, neither was built as a support character. Forcing either one to be the party healer was not an effective use of their archetypes.

Depends on whether you're meaning "party healer" as "having a wand to use between fights" or "making feeble attempts at healing in combat when actions would be better used ending the fight faster".

Most games I've played or run, all healing is done via wands after combat. No matter how melee-focused a bard is, there's no reason they couldn't do that too.

Healing out of combat wasn't the issue. The issue was "BBEG gets lucky and drops one of the fighters in the surprise round" and "BBEG throws AoE spells at us from 60ft up, at night." Having a melee-focused party--no ranged casters either, we were pretty much SOL.

If we had more versatility putting the party together, we would have been OK. Coincidently, the only characters we had at the proper level for the scenario were all melee. Hence, SOL.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
You're missing out on the fun GM conundrum of whether to go for the kill against teams with those ubiquitous Fast Channel + Phylactery clerics who heal the whole party for 12d6 at level 7.

Do you mind walking me through that?

It would cost 11,000 gp for the phylactery, well over half the standard wealth the cleric would have accumulated by 7th level, and the cleric wouldn't be able to use a magical headband to increase her Wisdom. That stunt would cost her 3 uses of her channel ability (2 for the move action, and 1 for the regular standard action), yes?

So, it's a once- or maybe twice-a-day stunt requiring a very heavy investment of money, feats, and daily resources.

I haven't seen it at any tables I've GMed. And you say it's ubiquitous in your neck of the woods?

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

@Gwen Smith: And that's why I always advise people to build a little versatility into their PCs, both in stats and gear. ;)

Potion of fly costs 750gp or 2PP, people.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka CRobledo

Chris Mortika wrote:

So, it's a once- or maybe twice-a-day stunt requiring a very heavy investment of money, feats, and daily resources.

I haven't seen it at any tables I've GMed. And you say it's ubiquitous in your neck of the woods?

The Life Oracle I am retiring with uses this and it is pretty sick, although we are level 10/11 now. He had 20 CHA at level 1. He can still boost his casting stat with ioun stones, or even other ways (Rod of Splendor).

Yes, it's not an every round thing, but it has saved our bacon multiple times. Channel, then quick channel the same turn.

Also wrecks fights with a lot of undead mooks.


Tamago wrote:


The point is that a +2 on Acrobatics, Climb, and Swim checks probably won't do much to increase your combat effectiveness, whereas +2 damage will be useful in pretty much every encounter. Neither one is a "wrong" choice. But someone who doesn't care as much about maximizing their character's combat effectiveness might go for the more "flavorful" feat, rather than the one which would be more useful in terms of hack & slash combat.

What I'm trying to say is that both of these should be valid options. But if the scenario difficulty is high enough that people are "punished" for making flavorful (yet still valid) choices rather than always thinking about their combat stats, I do think that is a bad thing.

To me both the both Sea Legs and Weapon Specialization are both mechanical choices the only differences is the frequency of the number of times it occurs, the importance of the roll when it does occur and the name of the two feats (with "Sea Legs" being an arguably better RP name over Weapon Spec). Ultimately the results of either feat is simply a +2 adjustment on my die rolls and it will rarely change the description of a successful Swim check when after figuring static modifiers + roll you got a 17 instead of a 15 or if instead of dealing 8 points of damage you dealt 10 points of damage.

Additionally while I do not play in PFS the only way I can see both choices being equally valid is if the consequences of failing a Acrobatics, Climb or Swim check were equal to the consequences of consistently doing slightly more damage. Otherwise you are looking for a scenario where neither feat choice matters and is equally passable even if you took a feat that at no point in the game came up at all.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston aka Rogue Eidolon

Chris Mortika wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
You're missing out on the fun GM conundrum of whether to go for the kill against teams with those ubiquitous Fast Channel + Phylactery clerics who heal the whole party for 12d6 at level 7.

Do you mind walking me through that?

It would cost 11,000 gp for the phylactery, well over half the standard wealth the cleric would have accumulated by 7th level, and the cleric wouldn't be able to use a magical headband to increase her Wisdom. That stunt would cost her 3 uses of her channel ability (2 for the move action, and 1 for the regular standard action), yes?

So, it's a once- or maybe twice-a-day stunt requiring a very heavy investment of money, feats, and daily resources.

I haven't seen it at any tables I've GMed. And you say it's ubiquitous in your neck of the woods?

Most of the clerics focused on healing that I've seen have at least a good percentage of that stuff, including my own cleric (though I haven't ever played her outside a con). The real key is not to use the double channel unless you really need to--often more good can be done with a fast channel and a standard action Blessing of Fervor or the like. With Extra Channel, you can usually double channel twice a day, which is all you need when you can put the whole team back from nearly zero to full, particularly if the enemy has either not been focus-firing or has been leaving unconscious party members alone without killing them. When you have two of these guys in the same team, they basically don't need to use Fast Channel unless there's a particularly bad round, so they can keep this up for much longer. Granted, it certainly only works if they ration out channeling and only use it on the hardest fights.

Anyways, shouldn't digress the main point of the thread too much--it's a perfectly cool and valid tactic which is probably the #1 best way to heal people in combat, though it more-or-less requires enemies to kill downed PCs.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The biggest clerical mistake I see is clerics who have taken Extra Channel more than once. If a player is playing a channel focused cleric, please review their character sheet. Thank you.

edit: And Chris, my 15th level cleric still has his phylactery, although I still need to purchase a tome before I play him again in order to get from 17 to 18 wisdom. ;-)

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston aka Rogue Eidolon

Kyle Baird wrote:

The biggest clerical mistake I see is clerics who have taken Extra Channel more than once. If a player is playing a channel focused cleric, please review their character sheet. Thank you.

edit: And Chris, my 15th level cleric still has his phylactery, although I still need to purchase a tome before I play him again in order to get from 17 to 18 wisdom. ;-)

Huh, I've never seen someone take it multiple times. Is that because maybe Extra Turning used to be takable multiple times in 3.5?

*** Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka Yiroep

Channeling Derail:
CRobledo wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:

So, it's a once- or maybe twice-a-day stunt requiring a very heavy investment of money, feats, and daily resources.

I haven't seen it at any tables I've GMed. And you say it's ubiquitous in your neck of the woods?

The Life Oracle I am retiring with uses this and it is pretty sick, although we are level 10/11 now. He had 20 CHA at level 1. He can still boost his casting stat with ioun stones, or even other ways (Rod of Splendor).

Yes, it's not an every round thing, but it has saved our bacon multiple times. Channel, then quick channel the same turn.

Also wrecks fights with a lot of undead mooks.

(I play said Life Oracle)

I have never seen anyone else have quick channel besides my character, so it's not common in my area. It is a heavy investment, but it's a pretty decent payoff. It's a "oh man that was a lot of damage" reaction that has saved parties he's been in on occasion, and himself, too.

And he does only use it once or twice in a scenario, and sometimes not at all. But casting Death Ward and channeling in the same turn is great for shadows (especially since they don't have spellcraft to tell that you cast Death Ward, and channeling tends to draw them to you). Or channeling twice in a tight situation. Or casting Fickle Winds and channeling. It's great!

It's even more amusing for life oracles with the combat healer and life link revelations... (Life Link + Channel + Quick Channel + Quickened Cure Light Wounds Mass anyone? Or Breath of Life + Quick Channel + Quickened Cure Critical....)

Sure, he uses lots of daily resources, but with how short scenarios are it works out just fine.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:

The biggest clerical mistake I see is clerics who have taken Extra Channel more than once. If a player is playing a channel focused cleric, please review their character sheet. Thank you.

edit: And Chris, my 15th level cleric still has his phylactery, although I still need to purchase a tome before I play him again in order to get from 17 to 18 wisdom. ;-)

Huh, I've never seen someone take it multiple times. Is that because maybe Extra Turning used to be takable multiple times in 3.5?

It's mostly likely because most of the other "Extra" feats say you can take it more than once. Players have assumed it was simply omitted from the Extra Channel feat.

Qadira ***

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Will Johnson wrote:
If you want to be Aquaman on the Justice League, more power to you. Just understand that your job is to save the earth against all attacks and you may have to get really creative figuring out how to do so with fish.

I don't have much to add to this discussion right now, but whatever I would contribute would just pale in comparison to the above quote. In fact I might not even read the next two days of posts...I think I'm done after this post.

That's my new freakin' PFS motto right there: "I'm Aquaman. I'll solve all problems with fish."

-Pain

Qadira ** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Painlord wrote:
Will Johnson wrote:
If you want to be Aquaman on the Justice League, more power to you. Just understand that your job is to save the earth against all attacks and you may have to get really creative figuring out how to do so with fish.

I don't have much to add to this discussion right now, but whatever I would contribute would just pale in comparison to the above quote. In fact I might not even read the next two days of posts...I think I'm done after this post.

That's my new freakin' PFS motto right there: "I'm Aquaman. I'll solve all problems with fish."

-Pain

My halfling vow of poverty is going to wear an orange and green outfit and he's going to answer to Aquaman. Maybe he'll hit people with fish.

Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Fresno aka Sarta

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Painlord wrote:
That's my new freakin' PFS motto right there: "I'm Aquaman. I'll solve all problems with fish."

ROFL!

From you, I'd believe it. Of course, you are also the one who had your character Aroden Reborn tell a fellow Pathfinder, "If you have faith in me, you will successfully disarm that trap". Only to tell the same character later, "If you worship me hard enough, your poison will go away."

You don't even need the fish. You're usually working with placebos.

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