What Should I Avoid / Ban From A Core Pathfinder Campaign?


Advice

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If you are new I would say try it out as written. Thousands of hours of playtesting says the game runs well the way it is. Modifying the rules is going to give you better results the better you understand how the rules work in the first place.


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I recommend banning the players, because they are typically unbalanced and really could have used some extra playtest time.


I suggest that you take a close look at the dazing spell metamagic feat. It is IMOP a feat that is bad for the fun.


As others have suggested, do not ban anything from Core (meaning the Core Rulebook.) Every group is different. Most of the players in my group do not like playing arcane casters, viewing them as weak and too easily killed.

After you have some experience under your belt, you can then think about banning things in your next campaign. If something during the first campaign is causing you a lot of trouble, re-read it. Generally people read things wrong in this kind of a situation. If you've read it correctly and it is still causing issues, then adjust things on your side to compensate.


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I can imagine banning the Leadership feat since it's a hassle, as has been said. But it's probably best, as has also been said, just to try different stuff out and see how it works out. It takes time and effort to learn tricks in this game.

Now...
Please forgive me for my tone in the following text:

The guy who came up with the suggestion to ban the wizard, druid and cleric should probably stop playing Pathfinder RPG altogether.
I'm sorry but I cannot believe I read that.
At first I thought it was a joke but this particular individual felt obligated to repeat himself to emphasize the gravity of this ridiculous statement.
What surprises me even more is that his comments are being favorited by people. What the blue backflip fudge is up with you people?

Obviously the classes have a difference in raw power measure but you guys are really pushing it...
The idea of banning three core classes just because they are slightly less or more powerful than the others is touching skyhigh levels of stupid that I cannot describe. What in the why how do you guys come up with this unnerving stuff? What kind of nihilistic view of the world does one need to have to think that up?

If balancing issues in core Pathfinder are this grave of an issue to some people then you really desperately need to get into D&D4e. Fix the balancing, and it will fix having fun; Because having fun is not what we're trying to do here apparently.

Please forgive me for this potential ad hominem but I have... limits!
Thought I'd cool down by typing this but I am royally flabbergasted.

To the OP: Take the wise advice from other people in this thread to heart, who have commented that it's a dangerous thing to get advice from people on this forum. I initially thought that was a bit harsh but right now I cannot agree more.

Back on the real topic, just experiment and have fun! My personal experience is to watch out for the Leadership feat and for misinterpretation of rules, or players trying to trick you in believing that rules work differently in their favor.

-DT


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I agree with DT full heartedly. Trying to balance out the classes is an exercise in futility that will only put limits on your groups fun. This game isn't about balance, it's about having fun with your friends.

The Exchange

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Icy Turbo wrote:
I am hopefully going to be able to run a Pathfinder campaign using the Core Ruleset only, and I can't wait to try my hand at DM'ing, as I almost never do it in such a format. However one thing that bothers me is I do not have a encyclopedic knowledge of the game. So in Core, what are some things I should try to avoid using, or ban from use in general? I once saw a thread talking about Leadership, but other than that I'm not too sure.

It's probably important to know how much experience your players have. Bear in mind that if you have a rules-lawyer or a long-time expert player at the table, it's a far better idea to recruit him ahead of time to help you out than it is to have him sitting there hoping you'll figure something out.

If all your players are novices too, then the good news is that most of the flaws in the core book (and Advanced Players' Guide, if you decide to use it) don't really become evident until players deliberately seek them out. If the players are novices, I think you should recommend avoiding the Cleric, Druid, Paladin and Wizard at first - three of 'em require a lot of spell knowledge and the fourth tends to cause disagreements among friends. But if a player's got his heart set on one of those classes, let 'em.

If you decide that the Advanced Players' Guide is allowed as well, you do open up a few potentially abusable rules (Dazing Spell, summoners, etc.) but it also opens up the Cavalier (an easier Paladin) and the Oracle (an easier Cleric) as player options. And the trait system introduced in the APG is a really nice way to allow your players to customize their characters according to their background. (There are a few traits that are abusable as well: remember that the system encourages you to create traits unique to your particular campaign, so you can limit available traits on a campaign-by-campaign basis.)

Lastly, bear in mind that advice on the message boards is sometimes affected by preconceptions, arguments taking place on other threads, and low blood sugar. It should be considered but not followed blindly.

Oh, and... welcome to GMing.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

At 1st level there is very little in Core that needs banning. It is best to play normally and as things open up due to leveling, evaluate the new options and see what doesn't suit your table before banning items.


I ban everything except Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Thief, Bard, Cleric, Wizard, and Sorcerer with Dragon, Celestial, Infernal, Genie, or Abyssal Bloodlines.

The only races I allow are Humans.

Well, in one of my campaigns.


The illusion and enchantment spell schools can be difficult to play/run. As the over all effects are open to interpretation on how effective they are. Plus the rules on them can be confusing.


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

You could take a look at the Pathfinder Society campaign rules and restrictions and include them in your default rules. Those rules automatically eliminate Leadership, item crafting, and a few other problematic areas.


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Cornellius Aggredor wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
Daenar wrote:
.
Sorry, but Cleric, Druid, and Wizard are broken right out of the gate. Core is not even remotely balanced.

This is your opinion. Not mine.

It's nobody's opinion. It's fact.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Zhayne wrote:
Cornellius Aggredor wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
Daenar wrote:
.
Sorry, but Cleric, Druid, and Wizard are broken right out of the gate. Core is not even remotely balanced.

This is your opinion. Not mine.

It's nobody's opinion. It's fact.

People said the same thing about Earth being flat, and look where it got them.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

For a more streamlined game, especially with new players, you might want to have them not use familiars/animal companions/mounts. There are alternate options for each.

I have played with new players who either forget they have an animal companion until their turn is over and want to go back, or don't have any clue as to what their companion can and cannot do.

It can bog the game down substantially.

Also, in the same vein, Leadership.

Use them in your second campaign.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There are several reasons to ban things. One reason is flavor for the world you want, for example, I often ban gunslingers, not because they are broken per se, but because I don't gun powder in the world I'm running. Those choices are entirely entirely up to you.

Another reason is for smoothing out play and reducing complexity. One reason to ban leadership, for example, is that giving each player another full set of actions can slow down game play. Similarly, while I might allow magic item creation if I was a new GM, I would advise against allowing custom magic item creation, because it is very tricky to make things balanced and the guideline tables are only a very rough starting point for what an item should cost.

The last reason to ban things is to ensure balance between the characters. What you would need to achieve this depends a whole lot on what type of game you are going to run, what levels it will encompass, the system mastery of your players and other things that make it impossible to definitively answer. I think the best thing to do here is work with the players, make sure everyone has a character that will be able to contribute enough to enjoy the game, and don't be afraid to make a few adjustments later on (communicating of course) to make the game enjoyable for everyone. Banning things isn't probably the best answer for this, but in some cases some changes outside the official rules can improve everyone's experience. For example, if you have a new player who ends up with a spontaneous caster that chose his spells poorly, and isn't having much fun as a result, allowing a wholesale change of spells known is admissible. Similar things can be done with feats etc.

The Exchange

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Zhayne wrote:
Cornellius Aggredor wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
Daenar wrote:
.
Sorry, but Cleric, Druid, and Wizard are broken right out of the gate. Core is not even remotely balanced.

This is your opinion. Not mine.

It's nobody's opinion. It's fact.

Gonna let you in on a little secret about posts like this one, Zhayne. When people stop responding to you after this kind of post, it's not because your stubborn defense has convinced them that you must be right; it's because your stubborn defense has convinced them that you're too... what's the most neutral word?... too fervent to be worth convincing. Yeah. Fervent. My point being that they label you as... fervent... and ignore everything you post from that moment onward. Surely that's not what you want? To be ignored by everybody who disagrees with you? Isn't convincing them the whole point of posting in the first place?

Sovereign Court

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Zhayne wrote:
Cornellius Aggredor wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
Daenar wrote:
.
Sorry, but Cleric, Druid, and Wizard are broken right out of the gate. Core is not even remotely balanced.

This is your opinion. Not mine.

It's nobody's opinion. It's fact.

I... tried to formulate a polite reply to this, but I can't.

I think Lincoln Hills said it best.


Lincoln Hills wrote:
Gonna let you in on a little secret about posts like this one, Zhayne. When people stop responding to you after this kind of post, it's not because your stubborn defense has convinced them that you must be right; it's because your stubborn defense has convinced them that you're too... what's the most neutral word?... too fervent to be worth convincing. Yeah. Fervent. My point being that they label you as... fervent... and ignore everything you post from that moment onward. Surely that's not what you want? To be ignored by everybody who disagrees with you? Isn't convincing them the whole point of posting in the first place?

It's their problem if they like to ignore the truth. Eh, ignorance is bliss, I guess.

And lol at you for insinuating that he should watch what he posts or else people will *gasp* not reply to him. Heh. I wish my posts would make people shut up.


Daenar wrote:
Level 7-9 spells and a semi clever player can trivualize encounters if you aren't prepared. Sometimes even if you ARE prepared.

"Big bad ogre appears, demanding you pay a toll, he's flanked by two orc buddies"

*yawn*

Wizard; I cast charm person, I command the Ogre to kill his friends.

Okay, he fails his Will save (if not just cast the spell again), opposed charisma's, oh look he rolls with a negative, yep you order him to do it.

If the DM says he won't because it's harmful (which is fun to argue) you just make him stand still until the fight is over and then kill him.

No one needs level 7 spells to ruin trivialize encounters.


Well, if you DM let you win just because then you win without problem.


Nicos wrote:
Well, if you DM let you win just because then you win without problem.

Explain which part is him "winning just because".


Anarchy_Kanya wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Well, if you DM let you win just because then you win without problem.
Explain which part is him "winning just because".

- Ignoring the -5 penalty to the DC

- Allowing hte wizrd to cast again if the original spell failed
- Enemies that allow the caster cast in the first place

Not to mention that even with a -2 the chances in the cha check are far from autosucced.

BUt I suppose this is not the thread for this.


RMcD wrote:
Daenar wrote:
Level 7-9 spells and a semi clever player can trivualize encounters if you aren't prepared. Sometimes even if you ARE prepared.

"Big bad ogre appears, demanding you pay a toll, he's flanked by two orc buddies"

*yawn*

Wizard; I cast charm person, I command the Ogre to kill his friends.

Okay, he fails his Will save (if not just cast the spell again), opposed charisma's, oh look he rolls with a negative, yep you order him to do it.

If the DM says he won't because it's harmful (which is fun to argue) you just make him stand still until the fight is over and then kill him.

No one needs level 7 spells to ruin trivialize encounters.

Charm Person does not work like that. It will not make creatures attack their allies, they will only take everything you say in the most favorable way. Shame people forget that.


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Anarchy_Kanya wrote:
Lincoln Hills wrote:
Gonna let you in on a little secret about posts like this one, Zhayne. When people stop responding to you after this kind of post, it's not because your stubborn defense has convinced them that you must be right; it's because your stubborn defense has convinced them that you're too... what's the most neutral word?... too fervent to be worth convincing. Yeah. Fervent. My point being that they label you as... fervent... and ignore everything you post from that moment onward. Surely that's not what you want? To be ignored by everybody who disagrees with you? Isn't convincing them the whole point of posting in the first place?

It's their problem if they like to ignore the truth. Eh, ignorance is bliss, I guess.

And lol at you for insinuating that he should watch what he posts or else people will *gasp* not reply to him. Heh. I wish my posts would make people shut up.

Wish granted.


Nicos wrote:
Anarchy_Kanya wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Well, if you DM let you win just because then you win without problem.
Explain which part is him "winning just because".

- Ignoring the -5 penalty to the DC

- Allowing hte wizrd to cast again if the original spell failed
- Enemies that allow the caster cast in the first place

Not to mention that even with a -2 the chances in the cha check are far from autosucced.

BUt I suppose this is not the thread for this.

Bigger issue: Cherry-picking one of the most optimal encounters for a wizard to face for that CR.


Nicos wrote:
- Ignoring the -5 penalty to the DC

Ogres have only a +3 to Will. A competent Wizard will beat that easily.

And where is that -5 coming from exactly?

Quote:
- Allowing hte wizrd to cast again if the original spell failed

Sorry, but I see only one casting.

Quote:
Not to mention that even with a -2 the chances in the cha check are far from autosucced.

It might as well be. The wizard can get his Cha to be higher. The ogre can't.

Arnwolf wrote:
Charm Person does not work like that.

Except it does. And even if it doesn't, the ogre doesn't have to attack them, he can be ordered to simply protect the Wizard.

blahpers wrote:
Wish granted.

Sorry, was I talking with you?

blahpers wrote:
Bigger issue: Cherry-picking one of the most optimal encounters for a wizard to face for that CR.

Yeah, it's not like fighting ogres at this levels is common or something, right? /sarcasm


Daenar wrote:
I think everything in core is A-ok. Avoid expanding unto advanced, ultimate, mythic and paizo peripheral/ 3pp if you're concerned with over powered options.

This is bad advice I feel. Core is BY FAR the most broken book, even weighting for size. (I wouldn't recomend Mythic unless you are running with less than 4 people and would pick gestalt before it but that's another issue entirely).


Arnwolf wrote:
RMcD wrote:
Daenar wrote:
snip
snip
Charm Person does not work like that. It will not make creatures attack their allies, they will only take everything you say in the most favorable way. Shame people forget that.

"The spell does not enable you to control the charmed person as if it were an automaton, but it perceives your words and actions in the most favorable way. You can try to give the subject orders, but you must win an opposed Charisma check to convince it to do anything it wouldn't ordinarily do. (Retries are not allowed.)"

From the Charm Person description.

Okay, so Will Save against a normal Wizard

d20+3 for the Ogre, DC of 10+1(spell level)+4(18 INT) = 15

At first level, sure, the Ogre could certainly pass it. Depending on how many times the wizard remembers the spell he can try again if it passes it's save (right? I'm pretty sure you can do that).

If you're currently threatening and or attacking (and really you want to cast this spell before combat, specially if you wizard acts all snivelly and willing to pay gold), it gets a plus 5 to it's save.

d20+8 to hit 15. A lot easier for the ogre. (Remember Ogre is CR 3 but we're assuming that the wizard only has 18 Int, and is first level without any buffs or items).

If the Ogre rolls lower than a 7, boom encounter practically over.

Whether or not you've made him fight alongside you, he's certainly not fighting in the fight anymore (since you and your allies are his freinds.

For winning a Charisma check (which you only get one of for each order (make up a different order)) it rolls d20-1, and you roll whatever modifier your Wizard has.

The fact that a solo level wizard going up against a CR 3 at level 1 has a ~30% (or 55% if not threatening) chance of shutting the encounter down with one spell, not even just shutting the encounter down, but now using that encounter to potentially fight other encounters.

EDIT: This is also the worst use of the spell possible, instead walk into a local treasury or bank and cast it on the richest guy you see. What's that, Bill Gates thinks you are his close friend, of course you can have a no-interest loan of 10,000 gold!


RMcD wrote:
Arnwolf wrote:
RMcD wrote:
Daenar wrote:
snip
snip
Charm Person does not work like that. It will not make creatures attack their allies, they will only take everything you say in the most favorable way. Shame people forget that.

"The spell does not enable you to control the charmed person as if it were an automaton, but it perceives your words and actions in the most favorable way. You can try to give the subject orders, but you must win an opposed Charisma check to convince it to do anything it wouldn't ordinarily do. (Retries are not allowed.)"

From the Charm Person description.

Okay, so Will Save against a normal Wizard

d20+3 for the Ogre, DC of 10+1(spell level)+4(18 INT) = 15

At first level, sure, the Ogre could certainly pass it. Depending on how many times the wizard remembers the spell he can try again if it passes it's save (right? I'm pretty sure you can do that).

If you're currently threatening and or attacking (and really you want to cast this spell before combat, specially if you wizard acts all snivelly and willing to pay gold), it gets a plus 5 to it's save.

d20+8 to hit 15. A lot easier for the ogre. (Remember Ogre is CR 3 but we're assuming that the wizard only has 18 Int, and is first level without any buffs or items).

If the Ogre rolls lower than a 7, boom encounter practically over.

Whether or not you've made him fight alongside you, he's certainly not fighting in the fight anymore (since you and your allies are his freinds.

For winning a Charisma check (which you only get one of for each order (make up a different order)) it rolls d20-1, and you roll whatever modifier your Wizard has.

The fact that a solo level wizard going up against a CR 3 at level 1 has a ~30% (or 55% if not threatening) chance of shutting the encounter down with one spell, not even just shutting the encounter down, but now using that encounter to potentially fight other encounters.

EDIT: This is also the worst use of the spell possible, instead...

There's also the debate that the person will become suspicious after the charm wears off. Obviously an ogre is too dull to realize this and just thinks he made a new friend, but more intelligent creatures may become suspicious. I've been advised not to use this in any town we plan on revisiting for this exact reason.


My DM to do list:

Rule#1: Have fun.

Have a world concept.
What kind of a game do you want? Cinematic Bruckheimer? Or Sin City gritty? 4 color comic? Something else?
Decide on power level.
Decide on wealth level.
If the above is too many details you could go with the Core RB defaults. 15 point buy, standard wealth by level. 20 point buy for a slightly more higher power campaign.

Very important, discuss beforehand with your players your plan and what direction you want to go. If you want a cooperative group of good heroes...you'll probably want to let the players know that evil aligned lone-wolf sociopaths are not going to do well. Do you want your players to stick a story-arc or do you want more of a sandbox/free-form universe? Again make that clear from the get-go.

Also make it clear that you may and will make changes as you go if you feel it makes a better game. If you make changes, be accommodating to players who may wish to then adjust their character.

Take every bit of advice with a shaker of salt. Including mine. This is YOUR (you and your players in a cooperative story) game. Make it so.

Cheers and welcome to the fun world of DMing!


Things which suck the fun out of the game for new players.

Summoning. Time consuming, annoying, and confusing to new players.
Leadership. Whoever takes this will be double the party member anyone else is.
Level 15+ Spell casters. Just keep the game at level 14 or below. 8th and 9th level magic (7th to a lesser extent) obliterate any conceptual chance melee's have at playing the game.

Other than that I'd allow anything. Those three things obliterate fun for new players. Overpowered is relative. If they party is full of power gamers I'd just raise the average CL of encounters from +1-+2 to +4.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

About the only Core Rulebook thing I'd ban, assuming you start at level 1, is custom magic items. There are plenty of good magic items printed in the book, enough even for item crafters to make. Custom items really take a certain amount of finesse and guesswork that can be tough for an inexperienced GM to estimate.

Even though the Advanced Players Guide and Ultimate books have great stuff in them, the game is tricky enough when you're first learning it that I'd start with just one book and slowly add stuff as you get more comfortable.

Remember anything you ban is something that you're not learning how to deal with.

Liberty's Edge

Zhayne wrote:

Sorry, but Cleric, Druid, and Wizard are broken right out of the gate. Core is not even remotely balanced.

*yawn* This is so over played.

I guess then the barbarian is broken, too. So is the fighter because it gets so many feats and that's unfair. The paladin is definitely broken because the only way to balance out its smite evil is to always have non-evil opponents. The sorcerer is broken because it can cast the same spell so many times. The bard is broken because they're a little creepy. The monk is broken because fanbois complain that they're not fighters.

Rogues are ok because everyone thinks that they're the weakest class and can't compete with the other classes. There. You should only allow rogues in your campaign.

*rollseyes*


Icy Turbo wrote:

So if I understand, I should be fine unless we come across something that must be addressed? Sounds good. Also I would like a explanation on Caster OP? I'm just guessing because of the later level abillities for them?

Make sure you have a conversation with the players that goes something like this:

DM: "Ok guys, I'm going to be running this game, and this is my first time. If there comes a point in game where we aren't sure of a rule, I'll make a call to resolve the problem, either by dice roll or whatever seems fair/equitable/cool and we can check the rules after game, sound fair?

Everyone: "Yeah sure. Why not!"

Try to implement the Rule of Cool and encourage/reward players who like to do stuff in the name of Awesome™.

Always have fun.

Scarab Sages

I've decided to ban alchemist and gunslingers. These classes are designed to circumvent the armor class mechanic.

I have thrown an alchemist at a mid level party and GREASED The tank. Afterwards, I decided that I didn't like the spirit of the class. AC should matter. It's a special ability that is as important as spellcasting or BAB. Negating AC entirely is OK for an occasional monster (like a ghost) or an occasional spell (like a ray), but building a whole class around negating AC is too much cheese for me.

So these classes are out.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Icy Turbo wrote:
I am hopefully going to be able to run a Pathfinder campaign using the Core Ruleset only, and I can't wait to try my hand at DM'ing, as I almost never do it in such a format. However one thing that bothers me is I do not have a encyclopedic knowledge of the game. So in Core, what are some things I should try to avoid using, or ban from use in general? I once saw a thread talking about Leadership, but other than that I'm not too sure.

You'll go a lot further if you simply accept the fact that things will happen, and that you will learn a lot more in making the mistakes yourself than having all your answers spoon fed. Go by your instincts and your own sense of aesthetics.

Liberty's Edge

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PSusac wrote:

I've decided to ban alchemist and gunslingers. These classes are designed to circumvent the armor class mechanic.

I have thrown an alchemist at a mid level party and GREASED The tank. Afterwards, I decided that I didn't like the spirit of the class. AC should matter. It's a special ability that is as important as spellcasting or BAB. Negating AC entirely is OK for an occasional monster (like a ghost) or an occasional spell (like a ray), but building a whole class around negating AC is too much cheese for me.

So these classes are out.

Gunslinger I can see, they can do that a whole bunch all day.

Alchemists, however, have limited numbers of bombs per day. Heck, a Sorcerer with a Scorching Ray focus could do pretty much the same. By 12th level, as a Draconic Bloodline, that'd be 12d6+102 (or 144 average) damage per turn for several turns, and only requires a couple of metamagic Feats to work. I can make it much higher with a bit more investment.

An Alchemist, meanwhile, only manages (even with heavy Feat investment and Haste going) 30d6+65 (or 170) or so. And that costs him 5 bombs per turn...meaning he can only do it for 4 turns. And even that necessitates using a Cognatogen.

Is 26 damage a turn maybe four turns a day that big a deal?


Deadmanwalking wrote:
PSusac wrote:

I've decided to ban alchemist and gunslingers. These classes are designed to circumvent the armor class mechanic.

I have thrown an alchemist at a mid level party and GREASED The tank. Afterwards, I decided that I didn't like the spirit of the class. AC should matter. It's a special ability that is as important as spellcasting or BAB. Negating AC entirely is OK for an occasional monster (like a ghost) or an occasional spell (like a ray), but building a whole class around negating AC is too much cheese for me.

So these classes are out.

Gunslinger I can see, they can do that a whole bunch all day.

Alchemists, however, have limited numbers of bombs per day. Heck, a Sorcerer with a Scorching Ray focus could do pretty much the same. By 12th level, as a Draconic Bloodline, that'd be 12d6+102 (or 144 average) damage per turn for several turns, and only requires a couple of metamagic Feats to work. I can make it much higher with a bit more investment.

An Alchemist, meanwhile, only manages (even with heavy Feat investment and Haste going) 30d6+65 (or 170) or so. And that costs him 5 bombs per turn...meaning he can only do it for 4 turns. And even that necessitates using a Cognatogen.

Is 26 damage a turn maybe four turns a day that big a deal?

That's also assuming that you're going for a bomber alchemist rather than a Mister Hyde Alchemist that focuses on buffs and transformations.


Oncoming_Storm wrote:
Don't outright ban anything. Talk to your players about their choices first, and then decide if it's good or bad for your game.

This, also, talk with your players about what they want to do with their characters and how they plan on doing it. Then, look up the rules (have the player do the same) on anything non-basic about what they want to do: Someone playing an archer? Look up the cover and archery rules. Someone wants to do combat maneuvers? Look up the core combat maneuver rules and the rules for the specific maneuvers they're trying. Someone playing a caster? Read up on the spells they plan on focusing their build around. (e.g. Grease has 3 distinct uses with specific rules, Command has a specific set of possible commands, Detect Evil doesn't indicate something is evil unless it has 5HD or meets other specific requirements, etc.) Same for the classes, read up on the first couple levels of class features.

This will make play go smoother and help you make more informed decisions, both on the fly and when you're planning adventures. Things will work the way both you and your players expect. Surprises due to rules are bad, surprises due to creativity can be good. (E.g. A caster finding out that they are at -8 to their attack when using Acid Splash or Scorching Ray = Bad surprise. Ordering an Unseen Servant to pick up all weapons on the ground and put them in a pile in the corner when your fighter is a disarm specialist = Good Surprise.) Knowing about your player's characters also lets you customize your adventures to play into their interests, even if you're running pre-written adventures: Adjust the fluff to play into your party's backgrounds, reskin or change out enemies to things that interest them, etc.

Finally, let your players know that you're still learning the art of GMing, and if something isn't working out, you'll revisit it and change or disallow it down the road. Try not to take things away from your players, but don't feel that you're stuck with something forever just because you allowed it once and have since learned that it's un-fun.


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I don't like banning anything, but if you want some guidelines on how to make things run smoother, try the following campaign restrictions:

1. No evil characters. If you want to experiment with why this is a good idea, play "We be Goblins" and tell everybody to try to act like an evil goblin. If you group can actually not PK each other, then maybe bad guys will be fine.

2. No minions. (Ban Summoner, and all classes have to take the non companion option like arcane bond items for wizards and domains for druids. This kind of auto bans cavaliers and witches. No leadership either. No undead armies.) This speeds up game play with new players. Everybody wants a pet tiger. Nobody bothers to learn how to level one up. Only allow monster summoning spells to function if the player has a stat card with the vital statistics of whatever they're summoning or else the spell fails. The sole purpose of these rules would be to speed up gameplay. If your group has their s*** together, then minions are a rich addition to the party. If not, they grind gameplay to a halt.

3. No third party. Getting one player character whining in your ear about allowing them to play psionic character rules or some race of half dwarf elf things that they found on the internet seems to happen often. Allow it if you're comfortable with it and it sounds cool, but on closer reading, I usually find such third party races and classes tend to run on the brokenly OP or completely useless side of things.

Again, I always use "explicit GM permission after discussion" instead of a ban.

Also, If you have casters that seem overpowered (unlikely), throw more than 5 encounters at the group between rests. A wizard with no spells is a commoner in a nightgown.


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Rylar wrote:
I read core as the 4 core hardback books. I guess it could be just the core rulebook.

Which four is that? I generally think of the CRB, APG, and Bestiary 1 as the "core" rulebooks.

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Nicos wrote:
Anarchy_Kanya wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Well, if you DM let you win just because then you win without problem.
Explain which part is him "winning just because".

- Ignoring the -5 penalty to the DC

- Allowing hte wizrd to cast again if the original spell failed
- Enemies that allow the caster cast in the first place

I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist this bait. I added emphasis via bolding. If you don't let casters cast, they're fine!

Brox suggested playing with Rule of Cool in mind. That means going off the rails a lot, and I would not recommend it to a new DM. When you allow something once, players will expect it to be allowed every time. And what you allowed in the spur of the moment may have been grossly unbalanced.
There are systems based around the Rule of Cool, and I suggest playing them for that sort of game (such as Legend).

Pathfinder's caster/martial disparity is inherent to the system, especially when sticking to core (I believe the Barbarian got most of his power in APG, the Monk got Styles in UC, and now we're getting the Advanced Classes soon with seemingly superior martial options). You have to just accept it as the system you've chosen. You can try to help martials be relevant by not letting casters set the pace however. Setting the pace is up to the DM:

Make sure players acquire wands of Cure Light Wounds. Give them time-sensitive missions so they can't just nova with spells then rest immediately.
That's pretty much the best you can do for them.


If the players accept the social contract that they are all playing together, you don't have to ban anything. It is just when a player is so superior to the others that you can't make a real challenge without TPK if the allstar falls that you run into trouble. If they are not trying to eclipse anyone, let it run.

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ryric wrote:

About the only Core Rulebook thing I'd ban, assuming you start at level 1, is custom magic items. There are plenty of good magic items printed in the book, enough even for item crafters to make. Custom items really take a certain amount of finesse and guesswork that can be tough for an inexperienced GM to estimate.

Remember anything you ban is something that you're not learning how to deal with.

I was playing a monk that had his MW robes infused with the ability to cast mage armor 2/day. When I wanted to add enlarge person 2/day on it, my GM stepped in and denied me that option.

I was a wrecking ball of a front line monk but it was mostly because I rolled good, not because 2/day I could give myself a +4 to AC for 3 hours. (yes, a 3rd lvl casting in the robes).

It was for balance purposes, or at least that is what he told me. But it is those custom magic items that really spark my creativity, even if it is adding 1/day fly to my celestial chain mail to where I can cast it twice instead of once. I think I like the option of being able to blow one use and still have that 2nd use in my back pocket... :D

Silver Crusade

bfobar wrote:

I don't like banning anything, but if you want some guidelines on how to make things run smoother, try the following campaign restrictions:

Again, I always use "explicit GM permission after discussion" instead of a ban.

Also, If you have casters that seem overpowered (unlikely), throw more than 5 encounters at the group between rests. A wizard with no spells is a commoner in a nightgown.

This is why I allow the 3.5 reserve feats to all my casters. If they choose not to take them, its not my fault. :D


The most important thing you need to remind yourself and your players is to have fun. Explain that from the beginning and tell them a ruling once given even if it's incorrect is final.
I always play the 30 second rule => If you cannot provide evidence for a mistake the GM made in 30 seconds about a wrong use of rules, then the ruling stands at least untill the end of the session. Any corrections can be made for future games but not the past session.
For example I knew that a monster/player rolling a 0 for damage will at least do 1 point of subdual damage and corrected the GM on this. Noone else including the GM knew this, but a fellow player actually found this rule in 5 seconds by googling it and the GM immideatly applied this and we played on. That's the spirit of the game and if the GM would have ruled differently I would have accepted that as well and showed him the rule later.
This off course doesn't mean the game must be interupted every minute to search rules. Don't spend too much time on finding the corresponding rules. You are the GM and You decide.

Consider the maturity of your players. Some players will use a tablet or laptop and as long as they do NOT use this to look up every monster you play in the bestiary or to read the adventure so they can anticipate where to find the treasure, it's fine. But if they do simply ban the electronics.
I have even heard of pc's playing games on electronic devices during a session and I consider that a banning affair. If you want to play games fine, but don't do that during my PF session.
Electronics can be very usefull and helpfull, as well as annoying depending on who uses them.

And finnaly: Do not forget to have fun, it's the most important part of the game, for you and the players!

P.S. Did I mention you should have fun??


Zhayne wrote:
Cornellius Aggredor wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
Daenar wrote:
.
Sorry, but Cleric, Druid, and Wizard are broken right out of the gate. Core is not even remotely balanced.

This is your opinion. Not mine.

It's nobody's opinion. It's fact.

Spellcasters are bad. Alignment is bad. Paladins are bad. Powerful magic items are bad. Err, perhaps Pathfinder is not the game for you. Have you tried Iron Heroes?

I mean, obviously you don't like or play Pathfinder.

How are you on the level system? Vancian casting?


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Sooooo...

Back to the OP's question.

If you are looking to run your first game and want to have a game that is fun but not overly difficult to GM,I would use everything in the Core Rulebook with the exception of Leadership. I'd ban evil-aligned PC's and make it clear to your players what you're hoping to accomplish with your game.

If it were me, I'd tell them that you -might- open the game up to more options when you feel comfortable, but for now, you'd like to run a classic game with classic rules. If your players are on board with that idea, things should run more smoothly.

One GM tip for smoother games. Tell your players this up front: "I will make the wrong call from time to time. If you know I'm wrong and can quickly show me the rule to set me right, I'll appreciate that because I'm still learning. However, if things look like they might devolve into a long discussion, I'm going to make the best call I can and ask everyone to accept it in the interests of moving along. We can always figure out the 'correct' answer before the next game session."

Believe me, a "good enough" ruling made quickly is better than the perfect ruling made fifteen minutes later. Every time.

And after almost 40 years of GMing, my players point out something I didn't know about the rules every single game.

Have fun!


Yes, back to the Op- what do you mean by "Core only"?


Tarondor wrote:

Sooooo...

Back to the OP's question.

If you are looking to run your first game and want to have a game that is fun but not overly difficult to GM,I would use everything in the Core Rulebook with the exception of Leadership. I'd ban evil-aligned PC's and make it clear to your players what you're hoping to accomplish with your game.

If it were me, I'd tell them that you -might- open the game up to more options when you feel comfortable, but for now, you'd like to run a classic game with classic rules. If your players are on board with that idea, things should run more smoothly.

One GM tip for smoother games. Tell your players this up front: "I will make the wrong call from time to time. If you know I'm wrong and can quickly show me the rule to set me right, I'll appreciate that because I'm still learning. However, if things look like they might devolve into a long discussion, I'm going to make the best call I can and ask everyone to accept it in the interests of moving along. We can always figure out the 'correct' answer before the next game session."

Believe me, a "good enough" ruling made quickly is better than the perfect ruling made fifteen minutes later. Every time.

And after almost 40 years of GMing, my players point out something I didn't know about the rules every single game.

Have fun!

Hey I allready explained the wrong ruling bit 2 posts before yours!!! But you are right.

I completely agree with the banning of evil aligned PC's.

The leadership thing is very extreme. People either love or hate it. I think it depends on whether the PC is really trying to powergame the hell out of it. So try to find out if your players are adults enough to handle the free reigns you give them. I hate it if players try to hoard everything into their own personal treasure pile and try to outdo everyone at the table as if they want to win a race. In one of the games I play we work with a party pool of treasure that the party members will get their needs from.
I think of leadership in a way like followers were handled in the AD&D system. From a certain level PC's were able to establish their own castle and with a castle came the followers.
That meant that not every follower was literally following you around, but were taking care of your estate. Off course there are different ways to handle leadership, but I would handle it in a 'base of operations' kind of style.

I really like it if my players manage to surprise me and defeat the master plan I was hatching or explain a rule I wasn't aware of.

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