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RPG Superstar 2015

New scenarios too difficult?


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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Sczarni *** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

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I've noticed a trend toward Pathfinder Society scenarios becoming significantly more difficult recently. This seems to particularly be the case with the new Season 4 scenarios and the six-player assumption -- even when playing the four-player version of the scenario, it often seems much harder than a comparable Season 1 or 2 scenario.

I understand that some of the early scenarios in particular were quite easy, and I respect that many PFS players want a bigger challenge. However, as a PFS GM, there are two significant groups that I see having a very tough time with the more difficult scenarios:

1) The "role players" -- that is, players who are more interested in the RP and in hanging out with their friends than the combat and tactical aspects of the game. Often these sorts of players will be running "concept characters" that are not built to fight so much as explore an interesting build or roleplay angle. I see these players often getting frustrated with tough fights, and since I'm supposed to play "by the book" as a PFS GM, I'm limited in how much I can scale things to make it fun for them.

2) New players. I've seen a couple of games now where new players had a very difficult time due to a tough scenario and simple inexperience with the way the game is played. One PC in particular was only a single hit point away from dying (not being knocked out, but *dying*) during his very first game. Fortunately, I was able to donate my shirt reroll and he made his stabilization check, or he would have lost the character. For a first time player, that is not a particularly good experience, and he was quite skeptical of PFS after this.

I just want to raise the issue for the campaign coordinators. I know that there is a lot of talk on these messageboards about scenarios being too easy, but please keep in mind that it is quite possible to swing the pendulum the other way and make things too difficult.

Some proposed solutions:

* Dial back on the difficulty of scenarios a bit. Not a ton, because I will freely admit that most of the early scenarios are a total cakewalk. But perhaps a little less challenge would make things easier for the less competitive players.

* Allow more flexibility in determining which version of a scenario to play. For example, allow players to choose whether they want to play the 4 or 6-player version of a scenario. If I have a table of 6 new players, running the 4-player version might be a better idea. But if people really want a challenge, "playing up" to the 6-player variant at a 4-player table would provide additional challenge without needing any changes to the scenario design. And since the rewards are the same, we don't need to worry about PCs rocketing ahead in terms of wealth by "playing up".

* Have some sort of rating system to determine the difficulty of various adventures. This would help GMs pick games appropriate to the challenge their group wants, and help players decide which games they want to attend.

Thoughts?

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

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As for a rating system, (as well as addressing your general point) I truly recommend to go to the individual scenario's product page and leaving a review. Feedback like this is what mike and mark can use in the future to address this. Like you said, some individual mods are harder than others. I think this is true even in season 4 scenarios. So giving individual scenario feedback I think will provide the best results.

I have both played and GMed a lot of the new scenarios, and I'm not convinced yet its general problem. Yes, the exception being 5 players who have to play the 6 player version. That can get quite dicey sometimes.

Silver Crusade **

2 people marked this as a favorite.

They're not that hard at all combat-wise if all players have effective characters. The new scenarios still can't stand up to power builds or classes with pets.

Concept characters still need to be effective, or they wouldn't be sent on extremely dangerous missions. If all your character does is pile up knowledge skills, you should be in the library. Being a skill monkey is great, but you still need to be able to contribute when violence ensues.

* Star Voter 2013

Both season 3 and 4 are harder than seasons 0-2. That goes without saying.

I can see the problem with season 4 (and 4 player tables), but those are growing pains and I'm sure authors will adjust over time.

The significantly increased challenge at the end of season 3 is what worries me the most, but it seems to make some people happier, mostly GMs (which is most of the forum members).

I worry about the new players getting crushed as well. I think tier 1-5 especially should be dialed way back.

Difficulty ratings you can often get from reviews. So for new players you don't have to play the new scenarios. New players don't care if they're playing a season 4 or 0 scenario anyway, they just want a good time.

Having said that, I've often pondered if an official difficulty level is needed.

In case it wasn't clear, I agree with you Tamago. CRobledo has a point though, you should target specific scenarios.

Shadow Lodge *** Dedicated Voter 2014

Give me a challenge or give me death!

*****

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The problem with saying "X" scenario is Easy/Average/Difficult is that it varies so wildly from table to table. There are three main factors when determining if a scenario is difficult:

1) Scenario as designed/written.
2) GM
3) Players

1) This one seems pretty straight forward but it's really not. There are guidelines in place for authors that restrict the CR range for encounters. The problem is that the CR system doesn't work. Often CR is estimated for things like environmental conditions or terrain advantages. One author's CR 5 is another author's CR 1 (not me, I swear). Perhaps not as obvious is the way things are written or presented. The details and clues of the story can lead the PCs to follow a certain path, perhaps one that is more deadly than the author or developer can see when reading it (one that comes to mind is when the PCs routinely trigger more than one encounter at a time by following what the VC said to do)

2) Three big things here. How closely to the scenario as written is the GM running things? Often GMs think they need to change things to make it more "fun." Unfortunately this "fun" almost always changes the difficulty. Does the GM roll out in the open? GMs can affect difficulty by soft-balling from behind a screen. Heck, GMs can softball or hardball (i.e. cheat) without a screen.. Finally here, how tactically knowledgeable is your GM? Do they play the 18 INT NPC smartly? Do they overplay the INT 1 vermin? Do the NPC rogues 5-ft and then ready to attack when their buddy moves into a flank?

3) Easy to identify here is, "are the players new?" If they are, they're probably CR -1 or -2. ;-) Are the characters conceptual builds or optimized cheese-monkeys? Do the players know each other and the roles and capabilities of each other's characters?

The range here is amazing. If you have a GM who wants to make it fun by adding mooks, rolls in the open, is tactically cunning and running a table of n00bs, the easiest scenario will turn deadly. If you have a GM who refuses to kill characters by pulling punches, who isn't tactically sound, who doesn't understand the NPC tactics and is running a table of cheese monkey players who all know each other, it could be the hardest scenario every written and they'll still walk all over it.

Marathon Voter 2013

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
David Bowles wrote:

They're not that hard at all combat-wise if all players have effective characters. The new scenarios still can't stand up to power builds or classes with pets.

Concept characters still need to be effective, or they wouldn't be sent on extremely dangerous missions. If all your character does is pile up knowledge skills, you should be in the library. Being a skill monkey is great, but you still need to be able to contribute when violence ensues.

Huh, I've never seen 'lern2play, n00b' in the wild. I guess there's a first for everything though.

Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF

There's only so much a scenario writer can do, anyway. It's all but impossible to design an encounter that can present a meaningful challenge to a group of characters well-suited to the problems and opponents, but that will be survivable by a group short on the appropriate skills and abilities (and with an average character level one lower). Season four does at least allow adjusting the encounter based on party size, but that only goes part way to eliminating the problem.

And even if it were theoretically possible to exactly balance the CR, that balance is often on a knife-edge, and can easily tip either way. You can't allow for the random effects of the dice, or for the fact that adventuring parties will find ways to make things much easier (or harder) for themselves than anyone could reasonably anticipate. I've seen parties breeze through (or sidestep) encounters that have a reputation as party-killers, and get themselves into all kinds of trouble by poor tactical choices (a.k.a. just plain stupid behaviour).

Even if there is a killer scenario in what we have seen so far of season four, it's too early to say that this reflects an increase in difficulty. There are scenarios from the earlier seasons that have a bad reputation, too.

Sovereign Court *****

If anyone has a problem with diffuculty, rate scenario's.
If anyone likes the difficulty, rate the scenario.

Based on past seasons, scenario's had a bad review for being to easy.
Season 4 are getting really good reviews, based on current reviews.

There will never be a perfect difficulty for everyone. Hopefully there will be a wide range of difficulties out there.

Silver Crusade **

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.

Dark Archive

The latest scenario I played in Society was really interesting...

Scenario:
4-02: In Wrath's Shadow (tier 3/4)

In our group there was 3 pregens and 4 characters. (table of 7)

I played my Barbarian/Dual-Cursed Oracle going for the rage prophet prestige class.

dual-cursed:
Deaf/Wolfscarred Face (Wolfscarred Face levels normally).

The thief pregen almost died from low hit points and my character almost died because she was being useless and squishy by another curse and a disease bestowed upon her.

Squishy How?:
The curse came from the Haunt's Bestow Curse shriek. If you attempt a skill check of any kind you will have to make a will saving throw. I failed both my skill check and my will save... and that's how I got -4 on all attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks.

Disease?:
The disease is called Ghoul's Fever. Basically, when you get bitten by a ghoul, you make a Fortitude Saving throw. With the -4 penalty from the curse from the previous spoiler, I also failed... 1d3 Con and 1d3 Dex damage.

Unfortunately, I'm still kinda new to Pathfinder Society so I do not know how difficult the Season 4 scenarios are yet. Also, I have yet to witness a death of one of our party members.

Who knows? Maybe the next scenario I play in Society will have a tavern...

Party Trick!:
We walk into the tavern and I go towards the barkeep asking for a pitcher of water while the party sits at an empty table. I then bring the pitcher towards the table where the party is, halfway there the water mysteriously turns into alcohol. Ah, the joys of very cheap (if not free) beer as per the Enhance Water spell!

Liberty's Edge *****

2 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 7 people marked this as a favorite.
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.

My main issue with folks complaining about the difficulty when creating "concept" characters is this:

1) I think its ok to create a concept character as I have several, as long as the concept character would actually make a good adventurer/relic hunter. That's the campaign we are playing. Pathfinder Society is about a collection of people who are good at relic hunting. Whether that's social, combat, or object engineering.

2) It is a player's responsibility to create a character that is a good relic hunter. Not the campaign's responsibility to make adventures that concept characters that aren't good at relic hunting could succeed very well at.

In short. Create your concepts to the campaign, not to your own self-indulgence.

My comments above of course do not apply to newbies who just don't know better... yet (although when I was a newbie, I read up on what the campaign was about, and created a good relic-hunting character--even though he was a concept character).

* Star Voter 2013

Kyle Baird wrote:

The problem with saying "X" scenario is Easy/Average/Difficult is that it varies so wildly from table to table. There are three main factors when determining if a scenario is difficult:

1) Scenario as designed/written.
2) GM
3) Players

I agree with you, however Tamago is obviously talking about #1, because factors #2 and #3 aren't changing for him. I'm guessing he's seeing a pattern and it's not random dice rolls.

Contributor

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.

One of the pleasures of watching a scenario I wrote played over four days at GenCon is to witness the wide variation between tables. During the same session, I saw a table waltz through the first combat encounter in Wrath's Shadow and another get brutalized. Mark and the others developing the scenarios work hard for balance and making sure encounters are CR appropriate, regardless of what the numbers say, but there are so many variables affecting how encounters play it's impossible to know for certain what the outcome will be.

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

Dark Archive **** Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules Subscriber
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.

One of the pleasures of watching a scenario I wrote played over four days at GenCon is to witness the wide variation between tables. During the same session, I saw a table waltz through the first combat encounter in Wrath's Shadow and another get brutalized. Mark and the others developing the scenarios work hard for balance and making sure encounters are CR appropriate, regardless of what the numbers say, but there are so many variables affecting how encounters play it's impossible to know for certain what the outcome will be.

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

I suspect that Kyle discounts that factor in discussion beyond what he already called out in #2 - when lim(EQ)-> infinite, it doesn't bear discussing.

Dark Archive **** Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules Subscriber
Andrew Christian wrote:


My main issue with folks complaining about the difficulty when creating "concept" characters is this:

1) I think its ok to create a concept character as I have several, as long as the concept character would actually make a good adventurer/relic hunter. That's the campaign we are playing. Pathfinder Society is about a collection of people who are good at relic hunting. Whether that's social, combat, or object engineering.

2) It is a player's responsibility to create a character that is a good relic hunter. Not the campaign's responsibility to make adventures that concept characters that aren't good at relic hunting could succeed very well at.

In short. Create your concepts to the campaign, not to your own self-indulgence.

My comments above of course do not apply to newbies who just don't know better... yet (although when I was a newbie, I read up on what the campaign was about, and created a good relic-hunting character--even though he was a concept character).

A million times this. This is the core of what I express to new players thinking about what character to build. This is the core of joining ANY campaign - know the role you are going to bring to your tables and how to explain that role to the players you're with.

And please don't bring a character that would have Torch sending a cleanup team to take that pc out for the good of the society.

Shadow Lodge *** Dedicated Voter 2014

Is there a two handed fighter, gun slinger, or other high damage dealer that can cut through the ubiquitous damage reduction? I know that a lot of the flavor of the pathfinder society is indiana jones, but a lot of what they actually do can be more conan the barbarian SMASH.*

One of these will get you through a scenario. two or three will hack it to ribbons.

Spoiler:
*Movie version with Ahnold. Not the book version. Which is ironic because the book version would be VERY much a pathfinder , sneaking into places and getting out with the relic.

Grand Lodge *

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber
Chris Bonnet wrote:

If anyone has a problem with diffuculty, rate scenario's.

If anyone likes the difficulty, rate the scenario.

The problem with rating the scenarios is that they are subject to interpretation by individual DM's. Some DM's are very adversarial and use metagame knowledge versus the players as well as selectively ignoring the rules when it is to their benefit.

Should I give "Module Name Omitted" one star because it was among the worst five experiences that I have had in over 20 years of organized play going back to Living City days when I know that my experience could have been totally different with another judge?

That's not fair to the author.

Sczarni *** Venture-Lieutenant, Connecticut—Manchester aka Cpt_kirstov

Jason S wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:

The problem with saying "X" scenario is Easy/Average/Difficult is that it varies so wildly from table to table. There are three main factors when determining if a scenario is difficult:

1) Scenario as designed/written.
2) GM
3) Players

I agree with you, however Tamago is obviously talking about #1, because factors #2 and #3 aren't changing for him. I'm guessing he's seeing a pattern and it's not random dice rolls.

Most of the time, I think its a combination of #1 and #2.... The scenario is designed harder, but also has easier to follow tactics. Many of the season 4 scenarios have a higher threshold on the 'after brought to X HP they flee/give up' I've GMed 2 of them and in both scenarios at least one encounter gave up/ran away. if the GM is fighting to the death on all of these, its #2. But at the same time the tactics in the stat blocks fit the story the scenarios are trying to tell... I've seen GMs ignore the written tactics too many times, and have this affect the scenario difficulty.

so using newer books that some GMs might not have digested fully + Gms ignoring printed tactics that actually make fights easier = a tougher experience overall

Shadow Lodge *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
sieylianna wrote:
Some DM's are very adversarial and use metagame knowledge versus the players as well as selectively ignoring the rules when it is to their benefit.

You need a new GM if they are ignoring rules, the kind of GM you are describing seems to me like they are not following these guidelines:

The leadership of this campaign assumes that you will use common sense in your interpretation of the rules. This includes being courteous and encouraging a mutual interest in playing, not engaging in endless rules discussions. While you are enjoying the game, be considerate of the others at the table and don’t let your actions keep them from having a good time too. In short, don’t be a jerk.

Grand Lodge ****

Let me start off by saying, I love Season 4, it has had great RP elements, been very challenging, and had some very fun and interesting stories.

So I've played 5 scenarios in season 4, unfortunately I haven't ran any yet (I still have a ton of scenarios to run, that I haven't got around too), so this is my side only as a player. They have been ran by 2 different GM's, with a group I play with regularly, so your mileage may vary.

There are 8 of us who would be the hardcore gamers in the group, with probably another 15 that show up occasionally in our group. Me and another guy GM about 80% of games, with 3 others in the group running games occasionally. Luckily for us, 2 of them have lost their jobs and they are now running more games! I have played most these scenarios with 7 players.

Most the party, while heavy "role-players", is well built. Only 1 of our regular players is a complete "role-play" character, and he usually ends up unconscious every game, at least once. Honestly, not even sure how he could stand to play. My opinion is, while you can build "concept" type characters, you have to build to be good at something. Anyway, off track- so we are all fairly well built, with three of us (one being myself) having pretty hardcore builds.

The main group with the pathfinders we are running is currently between 6-8. It is hard to GM for this group sometimes, because so many power gamers are present. Before I got involved, one guy did most the running, and he stopped the game at 10-11, because the 2 gunslingers, witch, Duelist, and two handed weapon fighter had brought the game to the point where it was no longer enjoyable for him to run. The problem with PFS, is there is so little you can do, and when you have on average over 200 damage coming out the first round of combat, with another enemy getting disabled, it gets frustrating. And in a home game, where you could mitigate some of this, there is nothing for a GM to do.

Season 4 has brought the challenge rating back up, allowing a GM to run a power heavy group, and still challenge us again. I'd say the challenge had started dropping off again as we entered mid-tiers, until season 4 came out. Now we have had interesting encounters, that allow multiple characters to shine. The RP elements are great, and according to the people running them, are optional for those who don't enjoy that stuff so much.

Almost every Season 4 game, has had at least 1 battle that had me on the edge of my seat, with I think goblin guild being the exception. I find that difficult in the earlier scenarios, especially when we end with 6-7 at our tables. Now, the GM admittingly runs for us on what he refers to as "hard" mode(#2 from Kyle Bairds post above), but they give him the resources to run it on hard mode. As a GM myself, I know sometimes they don't give you access to that switch. At least making at available is great for the Group I normally play with.

Now, every couple weeks I try and make it to the local game store and play there. There, I would be hard-pressed to sit at a season 4 table, and if I did, it'd be with a character I didn't care if I lost too much, or someone who was good at getting out of there, when the end invariably came to my poorly built compatriots. About half the players there are poorly built, and I have gotten in a world of trouble dealing with those guys and their poor character concepts. These are people who laugh when I pull out my half orc monk/rogue/cavalier/fighter in full plate, then thank me when I save their butts with cleaving sneak attacks.

So, its easy for me to see both sides of the argument. Because of the random nature of PFS party set-up, and who you are playing with, I have always been an advocate of powergaming, and being well rounded and survivable. Some people have told me you don't need to do that in PFS (mostly "role"players who get their but handed to them consistently). It appears that PFS is leaning more towards my camp of thought, which is probably great for some, and horrible for people that think a CHA 7 can't be charming, even though I sport better skill checks than them at 16 Cha, and am better at RPing social encounters anyway, even while being somewhat gruff and off putting.

Anyway, I like it. I would like to see them keep it up, and if you have people who fall into camp 1 or 2, allow them to play earlier seasons, where the difficulty level is still easily attainable by those who put more into "the numbers are the character" or "noobs", and let those of us who play "the character is what I make him regardless of number camp" have fun and difficult encounters.

*

I actually feel that for the most part Season 4 scenarios are more balanced than any of the previous Seasons. I think that for the most part we have been living in a cake walk era where a party of 5-7 players walk through a scenario with ease, collect their xp, prestige, and gold, and don't have to worry too much about their chances of dying. Their are a few exceptions with brutal acts but most scenarios are pretty under challenging unless you are a group of 4.

Season 4 however is the exact opposite. It's no longer a cake walk but it is a challenge that can kill the player who makes a careless choice. I think that Season 4 is hardest when you are a table of 5. You are playing a scenario balanced against one additional player and unless those players pick up the slack it can be difficult. We now push for player tables of six instead of 5 (We still try to avoid 7 player tables). We also now split a group of 10 into a table of 6 and a table of 4 instead of two tables of 5. This gives the players the right amount of strength to tackle the scenario.

Lantern Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland— Baltimore aka dragonkitten

I have to preface this by saying I have been heavily involved in another organized play campaign. I felt that one has become an arms race between authors and hardcore optimizers. I have also told this to my gaming buddies before that I don't enjoy having mod after mod where the fights are over in one round. In more and more cases fights could be over so fast that some people did not even get a turn. Of course I also don't want to end up getting destroyed and not having a chance.

I do get frustrated with the term of role-playing synonymous with you probably made a terrible character. I like to think I make solid characters with an 18 in the primary stat and try to make them as useful as possible. I also dislike making a solid character and then having a crazy build turn my character into basically an audience for their greatness. I can stay home and watch a movie for that. I am already crazy paranoid about who I game with much of the time. Even if I go to a big convention I try to stick with friends.

I guess my point is I would appreciate the scenarios being a challenge, but not an arms race with power gamers. I don't want the only response to concerns being, "Well if you played one of the ten builds recommended by the optimal build guides then you will have no problems. If you go outside of those ten then that's what you deserve".

Maybe if there was an extra block of tactics and perhaps monsters to add to combat an aggressively optimized party that would be nice. That way noobs and role players can feel comfortable and have fun.

*

I think the difficulty is about right for a full party of decently-built but not necessarily optimized characters. There's usually at least one player who can't pull their weight, though.

I agree 5-player tables are really tough. Maybe the scaling sidebars have space enough to fit in some guidelines for those? Especially in the harder fights.

Silver Crusade ***

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Take Boat wrote:

I think the difficulty is about right for a full party of decently-built but not necessarily optimized characters. There's usually at least one player who can't pull their weight, though.

I agree 5-player tables are really tough. Maybe the scaling sidebars have space enough to fit in some guidelines for those? Especially in the harder fights.

+1 to this.

Most of the time when there is a problem. It comes from one or two players at the table with very underpowered characters.

RANT DO NOT READ IF YOU CAN BE OFFENDED:

I have a real problem with new players, or any player that makes an underpowered character because "It's for role playing". That is !@$ #&&%. The only place role playing takes place is at the table. Bring a character that can do there job. That doses not mean that need to be optimized just capable of doing the job. Then role play the character how you want. Rant off.

Grand Lodge **** Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2015

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I was getting really sick of the Pathfinder Society cake walk so this new emphasis on challenge and teamwork has been enjoyable for me.

The Exchange ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

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Sure, calagnar.

But I think a lot of people say "it's for role-playing" when they mean "This is the character I'd like to play. My cleric would take two levels in Wizard. It doesn't help her in a lot of fights, at least not so much as two more levels in Cleric, but she's keeping a promise to an old mentor."

Now, at the table, that player might not have a lot of pizzazz, and the character might be dull in comparison to a lively halfling summoner with a combat-optimized eidolon.

Not every character is, essentially, a Pathfinder Commando, making every choice with an eye to be the toughest possible combatant. Some players make characters because it's fun to play an aristocratic wizard, or a fighter based on Captain America. And so far, there's been room in PFS for those characters.

Grand Lodge ****

Ya Chris, but even then there's a way to do those things right and ways to do them that makes them inadequate and a danger to have in the and for the party. You can be pretty good while still making a concept character, and you can suck doing it. I have a buddy who's a rogue gunsliner. Optimal - No. Does he suck - No. Does his suckiness put the party in jeopardy because he can't fulfill his(or even a) party role - no.

I have another friend whos fulfills no party role, and continuously puts the rest of the party in danger because of a poor build and trying to keep that person alive. That player contributes literally almost nothing to the party as well(crappy at healing and crappy at damage output, the two things the character is built for). All of his characters end up being like this.

I can think of a few ways to make all three of the above classes/ideas that you mentioned, without sucking. Now are they the most optimized - no. Will they still contribute to the party in the capacity they were meant to - Yes. And they will still not suck doing it. I play a character working towards wizard/rogue arcane trickster - optimized, well yes, but from the standpoint of PFS which is low level - no. My character can hold his own though and usually contribute in some way, even in his limited capacity.

The problem is, some "role-players" role play at any cost, including crappy feat, skill, class and equipment selection. Then they either complain about it, or, worse, make everyone else's life difficult to the point of deadly.

Sovereign Court **** Star Voter 2014

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If your character isn't strong, then at least make them prepared. Never bring a character to a table playing anything higher than 4-5 without a) a way to get out of a grapple reliably, b) a way to heal your character, even if it's just a wand that someone else might be able to use, c) a way to deal with DR (at least weapon type and cold iron/silver) or SR, and d) a way to fly.

Here's a few questions to ask about any character about to enter mid-level play:

1) How can you deal with Black Tentacles? Because almost every enemy wizard with 4th level spells has it. The lowest possible escape DC is 21 (but expect 25), and the minimum check to cast somatic-less spells (since somatic components aren't an option in grapples) is 21 plus spell level.

2) How are you stopping yourself from being dominated/suggested/commanded? A clear spindle in a wayfinder cannot be underestimated.

3) How can you deal with flying enemies?

4) How can you deal with incorporeal enemies?

5) How can you deal with swarms? Swarms with DR?

None of these require an unhittable AC, perfect saves, or a ridiculous damage output. You just need to be prepared.

Dark Archive ***** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Illeist wrote:

If your character isn't strong, then at least make them prepared. Never bring a character to a table playing anything higher than 4-5 without a) a way to get out of a grapple reliably, b) a way to heal your character, even if it's just a wand that someone else might be able to use, c) a way to deal with DR (at least weapon type and cold iron/silver) or SR, and d) a way to fly.

Here's a few questions to ask about any character about to enter mid-level play:

1) How can you deal with Black Tentacles? Because almost every enemy wizard with 4th level spells has it. The lowest possible escape DC is 21 (but expect 25), and the minimum check to cast somatic-less spells (since somatic components aren't an option in grapples) is 21 plus spell level.

2) How are you stopping yourself from being dominated/suggested/commanded? A clear spindle in a wayfinder cannot be underestimated.

3) How can you deal with flying enemies?

4) How can you deal with incorporeal enemies?

5) How can you deal with swarms? Swarms with DR?

None of these require an unhittable AC, perfect saves, or a ridiculous damage output. You just need to be prepared.

I usually count on other party members to pick up the slack. No one should be responsible for all of those things except maybe the party wizard


4 people marked this as a favorite.

As I've said many times: Some people like "easy mode". Some people like "hard mode". You can't please everyone.

Silver Crusade **

Todd Morgan wrote:
Illeist wrote:

If your character isn't strong, then at least make them prepared. Never bring a character to a table playing anything higher than 4-5 without a) a way to get out of a grapple reliably, b) a way to heal your character, even if it's just a wand that someone else might be able to use, c) a way to deal with DR (at least weapon type and cold iron/silver) or SR, and d) a way to fly.

Here's a few questions to ask about any character about to enter mid-level play:

1) How can you deal with Black Tentacles? Because almost every enemy wizard with 4th level spells has it. The lowest possible escape DC is 21 (but expect 25), and the minimum check to cast somatic-less spells (since somatic components aren't an option in grapples) is 21 plus spell level.

2) How are you stopping yourself from being dominated/suggested/commanded? A clear spindle in a wayfinder cannot be underestimated.

3) How can you deal with flying enemies?

4) How can you deal with incorporeal enemies?

5) How can you deal with swarms? Swarms with DR?

None of these require an unhittable AC, perfect saves, or a ridiculous damage output. You just need to be prepared.

I usually count on other party members to pick up the slack. No one should be responsible for all of those things except maybe the party wizard

Thus we have, "It's not my responsibility mentality", which leads to TPKs. We all need to have an answer to every one of those things. That's the point of being a Pathfinder.

I have been glad to feel the burn in these season 4 scenario. BTW, Season 1 has some really hard scenarios too.

Dark Archive ***

The point is the things on Illeists list are attainable for any character of any class,

1. Getting a decent CMB/escape artist or just being able to cast from within it

2. I dislike clear spindles mostly because an automatic "no" option thats always to dominate (from evil casters) means that it encourages writers to introduce enemies who arent evil to bypass the protection.

3. Potions of fly are cheap as are ranged weapons (and most casters have mid or longer ranged attack spells)

4. a magic weapon is sufficient for this, having ways to restore ability damage is nice too.

5. Swarms are a pain for anything thats not a caster, although honestly taking your time and using a swarmbane clasp is probably your best bet.

The point is if your a drain on the team as a whole and increase the risks of getting everyone killed (which happens at higher tier if someone cant pull their weight), why would the society keep you on as a pathfinder?

***** Dedicated Voter 2013

sieylianna wrote:
Chris Bonnet wrote:

If anyone has a problem with diffuculty, rate scenario's.

If anyone likes the difficulty, rate the scenario.

The problem with rating the scenarios is that they are subject to interpretation by individual DM's. Some DM's are very adversarial and use metagame knowledge versus the players as well as selectively ignoring the rules when it is to their benefit.

Should I give "Module Name Omitted" one star because it was among the worst five experiences that I have had in over 20 years of organized play going back to Living City days when I know that my experience could have been totally different with another judge?

That's not fair to the author.

So, I am not sure how to respond to this, I would not judge a GM until I have ran the scenario or atleast read the scenario. If I personaly felt the GM was too adversarial, I would choose not play with that person again.

As a player I would leave honest feedback on the scenario reviews, hopefully after running it.

I would communicate with your local players and see if they feel the same way, then I would talk with the GM, or choose to run instead of playing. If other players feel the same way you probably would be a great addition as a GM, especially if you know what your players want.

I personally try not to softball players, I am not sure if I have a high or low kill count. But I would think it is average or a bit lower.

I also think it is rude to comment on other players characters. Some may surprise you, others may die and need help raising...

Silver Crusade **

It's everyone's responsibility in a random group to have some level of self-sufficiency. That's why I love Pathfinder over 4th edition. The characters are more complete; no MMORPG "jobs".

Shadow Lodge *****

CRY SOME MORE!

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2014

I think pathfinder is great...even with the characters that I make which are not optimized. I have enjoyed, and so far survived, all the modules I have played with the assistance of my more optimized friends; and I hope that I have contributed-even in a lesser way- to the success of our explorations and adventures. I do think that season four modules have been more challenging; however, I accept these challenges and believe that they help keep the group more alert and focused as well as make the game more intersting. And, if all else fails, you can always RUN, RUN for your lives...

Silver Crusade ****

Ill_Made_Knight wrote:


Thus we have, "It's not my responsibility mentality", which leads to TPKs. We all need to have an answer to every one of those things. That's the point of being a Pathfinder.

Part of the problem is that this (and all the other similar lists) are only partial. For example, you also need to be able to deal with invisibility, deeper darkness, pit spells, underwater encounters, surprise, large amounts of critical damage, etc etc etc.

Unless the player spends inordinate amounts of time and effort and the character spends probably impossible resources no character can deal with all of these.

It really should NOT be the case that a player has to spend 30 hours perusing the various books in order to create a viable character.

And it really shouldn't be the case that every character is expected to deal perfectly with everything. You ARE part of a team, they are expected to pick up some of the slack. And, at some level, I want some things to be still quite dangerous. If I have the perfect counter to everything we're back to cakewalks.

Liberty's Edge *****

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Making a character that fits the campaign, does not mean you have to be uber-combat optimized, or that a mostly RP character is not appropriate.

what folks (and myself) are saying, is that one should create a character that would be good at some aspect of relic hunting. That's what this campaign is about.

If you create a character that is not good at relic hunting, and is not at least really good at something a pathfinder might do, like combat or social stuff, then that "concept" character really has no place in this particular campaign.

would you play Skulls and Shackles with a character that would not be a good pirate (or at least start making build choices after 1st level toward things that would make a good pirate?)

Probably not.

So why would a character that would only be good in a Taldan political campaign be a good character for a relic-hunting campaign.

Players have been able to get away with making ill-fitting to PFS concept characters, because the scenarios have largely been fairly easy through about 6th level or so.

***

Andrew Christian wrote:
So why would a character that would only be good in a Taldan political campaign be a good character for a relic-hunting campaign.

I have managed just fine throughout my time with the Pathfinders, thank you very much.

-Lady Gabrielle d'Apcher, Aristocrat10

Liberty's Edge ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I have yet to experience any of this 'Season 4 is hard' business that everyone is talking about. I even played Storval Stair with the author!

As far as I've seen, season 4 is more of the same (for better or worse).

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

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.

Golemwork incident:

A Black tentacle in the Suprise round with a Nat 20 that gets the complete party grappled, followed by a 19 on initiative for the BBEG which means he is first to cast 13d6 damage (half with reflex save) before even the very first action of any of the characters - and you are on the brink of TPK before you even can act.

You start 25-75% down on HP and grappled with even the fighters needing to roll well to break free. And another 13d6 incoming as there isn't anything you can threaten him with.

Edit: the above would have been 3-4 CR less if the BBEG would have done a 1followed by a 2 instead of the 20 followed by a 19. I feel for scenario authors as you can't build in every possibility.

Sovereign Court **** Star Voter 2014

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.

** spoiler omitted **

Edit: the above would have been 3-4 CR less if the BBEG would have done a 1followed by a 2 instead of the 20 followed by a 19. I feel for scenario authors as you can't build in every possibility.

I've run that mod twice. Once, a player died

Spoiler:
from an overabundance of greater earth elemental
and the rest of the party decided to walk away from the mission. The second time, two players died
Spoiler:
just from the black tentacles
and another was unconscious. It's brutal.
*

Feral wrote:

I have yet to experience any of this 'Season 4 is hard' business that everyone is talking about. I even played Storval Stair with the author!

As far as I've seen, season 4 is more of the same (for better or worse).

Storval was my only Season 4 so far. We had a table of 6 and were playing at 10-11. We didn't find it a slaughter fest as some people had felt it was but we did find it challenging. Usually in a scenario your spell casters are worried about metering out their spells and making sure you have their good ones for the "boss" fight. Storval however is one of those scenarios were we threw it all on the table from the get go. It was definitely one of the more challenging scenarios for that lvl but not drastically outside the norm. What lvl did you play it at Feral?

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

Todd Morgan wrote:
Illeist wrote:

If your character isn't strong, then at least make them prepared. Never bring a character to a table playing anything higher than 4-5 without a) a way to get out of a grapple reliably, b) a way to heal your character, even if it's just a wand that someone else might be able to use, c) a way to deal with DR (at least weapon type and cold iron/silver) or SR, and d) a way to fly.

Here's a few questions to ask about any character about to enter mid-level play:

1) How can you deal with Black Tentacles? Because almost every enemy wizard with 4th level spells has it. The lowest possible escape DC is 21 (but expect 25), and the minimum check to cast somatic-less spells (since somatic components aren't an option in grapples) is 21 plus spell level.

2) How are you stopping yourself from being dominated/suggested/commanded? A clear spindle in a wayfinder cannot be underestimated.

3) How can you deal with flying enemies?

4) How can you deal with incorporeal enemies?

5) How can you deal with swarms? Swarms with DR?

None of these require an unhittable AC, perfect saves, or a ridiculous damage output. You just need to be prepared.

I usually count on other party members to pick up the slack. No one should be responsible for all of those things except maybe the party wizard

I adamantly disagree with this. There's a huge, vast difference between party roles and "being prepared."

If you rely on someone else to do something about incorporeals, then what are *you* doing during battle? Awful damage output? Nothing at all? I feel you aren't completing *your* role if you can't contribute anything to a battle.

There ARE roles. Buffing. Damage. Tank. Debuffer. Controller. (Possibly) Healer. etc. But the point is that all those roles can do *something* in all those battles (with the small exception of the swarm in some cases). Preparedness is something that every adventurer can do.

I'm not saying that you should be prepared for everything to be a decent player...we all make mistakes and we can't possibly predict everything we are going to face, but giving it thought will help your character immensely.

Sczarni *** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Chris Bonnet wrote:

If anyone has a problem with diffuculty, rate scenario's.

If anyone likes the difficulty, rate the scenario.

Based on past seasons, scenario's had a bad review for being to easy.
Season 4 are getting really good reviews, based on current reviews.

There will never be a perfect difficulty for everyone. Hopefully there will be a wide range of difficulties out there.

You are absolutely, 100% right, and I will admit that I have not rated all the scenarios I have run/played. I'm sure if we all pitch in, that will make a big difference.

Liberty's Edge *****

Lady Gabrielle d'Apcher wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
So why would a character that would only be good in a Taldan political campaign be a good character for a relic-hunting campaign.

I have managed just fine throughout my time with the Pathfinders, thank you very much.

-Lady Gabrielle d'Apcher, Aristocrat10

Clorrup Finglefingers has adventured with the Lady, and she's good at more than just Taldan politics.

And you proved my point.You can make a good concept character, and still they can be effective as a Pathfinder.

I was more speaking of the players that create concept characters that do not make good Pathfinders.

The adventures now require good Pathfinders, and not just any old schmoe.

*****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
hogarth wrote:
As I've said many times: Some people like "easy mode". Some people like "hard mode". You can't please everyone.

You know what I hate about this statement? It comes across as "because we know you can't please 100% of the population, we shouldn't try." I'm a firm believer that just because you can't please 100% it doesn't mean you shouldn't try to please 99.999%. There ARE things we all can do (players, GMs, organizers, authors, Paizo staff) to make this campaign better. Saying that we can't please everyone does nothing to help please anyone.

/rant

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ill_Made_Knight wrote:
Thus we have, "It's not my responsibility mentality", which leads to TPKs. We all need to have an answer to every one of those things. That's the point of being a Pathfinder.

Am I in the wrong for purposely having characters NOT be able to deal with ALL of those things themselves? I prefer to have some challenges that I'm not prepared for.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
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. ;-)

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