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8,271 posts. Alias of brassbaboon.

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When I first self-published Warrior back in January I posted something here to let folks know. It didn't get much attention.

Since then Warrior has sold over 1,200 copies, has been as high as #13 on the Amazon young adult fantasy best seller list and has 22 of 27 reviews on Amazon as five stars.

If you like epic fantasy with lots of action, interesting characters and a unique setting and magic, you might want to check it out.

Amazon listing for Warrior

Also, I am in wrapping up editing for the next book in the series, "Warlock" which will be out by the end of next month.

Hi, I haven't posted here in a while except on the miniatures forum, but I have just self-published my epic fantasy novel on as a Kindle ebook.

Here is a link to the page if anyone is interested.

Here is the blurb I wrote to describe the book:

Warrior wrote:
The Testing Time has arrived. The world is falling into darkness. Lirak, a young forest-dwelling stone-chipper has become a pawn in the eternal battle of the Gods. Born of an outsider mother, feared by superstitious villagers, distrusted and resented by his own brother, Lirak must fight back an invading army while learning how to control the destructive powers that boil inside him. Lirak's path from simple stone-age villager to heroic warrior is only the first part of a much longer and more dangerous journey.

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I'll admit it. The first time I saw the "adventurers are really just murder hobos" thing, I thought it was humorous and had just enough of a kernel of truth in it to make the humor relevant.

But since then the meme has become so pervasive that the idea that adventurers are "murder hobos" has come so far that it actually has spawned a thread about creating a profession for "murderhobo", and in that thread the concept that most, if not all, adventurers are really just loot-grubbing, shoot-first, wandering killers seems to be accepted at face value.

Well, I think it's time to stand up and defend my hobby.

I've played this game for decades, and have played every alignment, in parties composed of every alignment and I have not once played a character, or played in a group, that would fit the general description of "murder hobo."

Even my evil characters.... heck probably ESPECIALLY my evil characters, have a much more diabolical scheme they are pursuing than randomly wandering around killing creatures and taking their stuff.

For my good/neutral characters I cannot think of a single time that my character has been part of any sort of wandering group of malcontents seeking to pillage the villages of other sentient creatures just because they are green.

The vast, vast majority of my characters have been part of a group of characters that have received some lawful designation to go and do something about some threat the town, city or kingdom is under. And it is pretty rare even then for my characters or groups to simply loot and pillage the villages randomly.

I have mentioned here before that it is my general practice when playing good characters to return captured loot to the proper authorities for distribution. I can't even remember the number of side quests my parties have taken to return a precious heirloom to the family of the murdered victim we have found in a goblin or kobold lair. One module that we did ended up with the party recovering an absolute treasure trove of stolen items, probably tens of thousands of gold worth. We loaded up all we could in a cart and hauled it to town, and then brought the townspeople back to the lair to recover the rest. We received a decent reward and the goodwill of the townspeople for our efforts.

While it is certainly possible to play the game as "murder hobos" and no doubt lots of people do play it that way, all of my groups have always taken their role as heroes seriously and have attempted to be heroic in their actions.

Now, having said that, when I do play an evil character, I have no problem with "murder hoboing" actions, but in general I have other goals that are put at risk by that sort of behavior. The number of times any of my characters has simply roamed through a village of any sentient creatures and slaughtered them indiscriminately for the explicit purpose of taking their stuff to enrich my character could probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Or maybe even one finger.

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I see this sort of thing a lot on these boards when a player comes here and posts something along the lines of "My group is mad at me because I'm so awesome":

"Heck, don't let those babies tell you how to play! As long as you are within the rules, you have a right to play whatever you want!"

I think I've seen four or five such threads in the past week. And they all seem to more or less follow the same basic plot.

When people (like me) try to say things like "Hey, if there are five people at a game table and four of them are telling the fifth 'you need to change your play style', then it seems a little odd to me that we here on the boards immediately leap to the conclusion that the one player who came to these boards is the one being mistreated." that seems to be completely overlooked as a legitimate approach.

So I wanted to ask the folks here on these boards a fundamental question about gaming. That question is:

"Does an individual player (or GM) have any obligation or responsibility to recognize the preferences of the majority of players when they game?"

Because the impression I get on reading thread after thread is that a very vocal contingent of participants here think that the individual player's pursuit of "fun" is some sort of sacred mission that must be accommodated at all costs.

The problem I have with that position is that it makes no sense. If one person is ruining the fun of four people, what about the other four people's pursuit of fun? Doesn't that matter at all?

I've seen a couple of threads lately where the issue of GM agency in encounters has come up. Some people have made it a point of pride to say they "don't coddle the players" while others have made it an equal point of pride to say that they are player advocates and want the players to generally be in a position to win encounters and be heroic.

GM fiat is written into the rules so the ability of a GM to "fudge" an encounter is clearly well within the game's scope. But it may or may not be in an individual group's social contract.

I am wondering how GMs in general address this issue with their players. Do you have a specific social contract in place? By which I mean have you officially stated, in your capacity as a GM, at the gaming table (or through email) that you do or do not fudge encounters? If you have made such a statement, to you truly stick to your guns, or do you sometimes fudge anyway?

And what do you consider "coddling" or "fudging" anyway? If you carefully tailor an encounter to match the party's power level, is that an example of coddling the players? After all there's usually no compelling story reason that a group of ogres be 3 ogres instead of 6. But 6 would wipe out the party, while 3 would be a good challenge. So by building a 3 ogre encounter are you already "coddling" the party, even before the encounter begins?

If you do tailor encounters to match the party's power level, and it ends up that you misjudged and the encounter is obviously careening towards a TPK, do you consider that to be a player problem and continue to play your NPCs or monsters rigorously according to their abilities, or do you consider the situation to be a GM mistake that now needs to be corrected by the GM by fudging some rolls or making some deliberately poor tactical choices?

I recently created a dice rolling tower using Hirst Arts blocks. I have been thinking about doing this for a long time, but I finally decided to do so because I had run out of table space as a GM and had started "rolling dice" on the computer, but my players said they missed the sound of dice rolling. So I figured a dice rolling tower was the best way to provide the dice rolling experience without constantly knocking stuff over, chasing dice across the floor, or shuffling things around to make space to roll dice on the table.

I haven't yet used the tower in a game, I just created it this weekend, and our next session isn't until next week. But I'll use it then and I expect it will be well received by my players. But the process has made me wonder some things and I'd like to hear from other gamers about their own opinions on dice towers. So I have some questions, some of which have follow up questions. I hope people will take the time to respond. :)

General questions:
1. Do you own a dice tower?
2. If the answer to #1 is "yes", then do you USE the dice tower you own?
3. If the answer to #2 is "yes", then do you use the tower in some situations, but not in others. Specifically, do you use it as a GM, but not as a player, or vice versa?
4. If the answer to #1 is "no", then do you sometimes wish you did have a dice tower?

Questions for dice tower owners:
1. What kind of dice tower do you own?
a) Commercially purchased tower that cost over $30
b) Commercially purchased tower that cost less than $30
c) Tower you built yourself, and are proud to say is as good as any commercial product
d) Tower you built yourself that works fine, but isn't anything to brag about
e) Tower a friend or game buddy built for you that is as good as any commercial product
f) Tower a friend or game buddy built for you that works, but isn't anything to brag about
2. How often do you use the dice tower? (e.g. do you only use it at home, or do you haul it to any game you play?)
3. Do your game partners find the dice tower to be a generally positive thing, or a generally negative thing?
4. If the answer to #3 is "generally negative" why is that? Is it due to table turf issues? Noise? Jealousy?
5. Has using the dice tower substantially improved your game experience (no longer hunting dice under furniture, knocking over minis, etc)?
6. Have you used your dice tower for dice rolling purposes other than RPG gaming?
7. Does your dice tower perform other functions? (e.g. does it have an initiative order tracker on it, or does it serve as an organizer of miniatures or other game materials?
8. If you lost your dice tower, would you feel a need to immediately replace it?
9. Have other gamers expressed a desire to purchase/build a dice tower based on watching your use of one?

Questions for non-owners of dice towers who would like to have one:
1. What is the main thing you think a dice tower will do for your gaming?
2. Is the aesthetic appeal of a dice tower important to you?
3. How important is weight, size and shape to you? Would adding a dice tower to your portable game accoutrements be "too much"?
4. How much would you be willing to pay for a dice tower, assuming it was high quality and aesthetically pleasing?

Questions for non-owners of dice towers who have no desire to have one:
1. Does the use of a dice tower in a game by another player or GM annoy you?
2. Have you ever used a dice tower for any length of time?
3. Would you use a dice tower if one was given to you as a gift?
4. Would a dice tower that provides other functions (initiative tracker, miniatures pending tray, pen/pencil or note holder) be more or less appealing?
5. Are you reading this and thinking "what the heck is a dice tower?"

Thanks in advance for any and all replies.

I'm going to use a real life example from a campaign I played in, not one I was the GM.

Our other "main" GM in our group wanted to run a short campaign to explore an evil demonic cult raising the dead and attempting to take over a valley which had a couple of villages in it.

He initially set out the campaign as "core rules only." Meaning only the races and classes in the core 3.5 material. When we (the players) pushed back he instead excluded a specific set of splat books while allowing the inclusion of others. But he was adamant that he would brook no attempt to bring in content from those books.

I approached him about an idea I had been having to build a custom race based on the idea of a dryad falling in love with a wild elf and praying to Nature to give birth to a child. The child, of course, would become my character.

He liked the idea, and we spent about a month working out the details of the race, statting it up and working hard to ensure it was both balanced and uniquely flavorful. Then I rolled up a character using that race and we started gaming.

So, "inclusive" or "restrictive?" Since some people seem to think it has to be one or the other.

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I have been reflecting on the unusually large number of locked threads lately, most of which are about whether GMs or players suck more, but a few have been political or ideological. Some of the same behaviors are present, if not as pronounced, in other threads that have not been locked.

The common dynamic in all of these threads is passion.

I generally think passion is a good thing. I'm a passionate person in just about everything I do. But, as oxymoronic as it might seem, I do try to be passionate in moderation.

I doubt it is possible to avoid passion when it comes to ideology and politics. Or religion I suppose. That sort of goes with the territory.

But is the level of passion I see on these boards about game rules, character builds, and GM or player preferences a good thing?

I dunno. Maybe it's just that I'm getting older, but I find it hard to get all worked up any more about how someone else plays this or any other game. I do get worked up about how people treat each other, but that's different.

I would like to hear from some of the people who have been so passionate on these subjects exactly why it is so important to them that the game be designed, adjudicated, played and enjoyed certain ways.

So I'll pose a few questions:

1. Why is it so important that you play a specific character concept? I understand that you might WANT to play something special, and that you feel it shouldn't be a problem to do so, but that's not what I'm asking. Why do you get so emotionally invested in it?

2. Why is it so important that classes be balanced? At the worst an unbalanced design would mean some characters can do more than others in a mechanical sense. But this is a role playing game, supposedly. There are plenty of ways to enjoy playing a less powerful character, and if you simply can't deal with playing a less powerful character, then why don't you just play a character that satisfies your desire for a certain level of power and move on?

3. If you have a special game world you've built yourself, why is it so important to you? If you are routinely telling players that the world can't accommodate certain concepts, why is that? Is it the work involved that is making you push back? Or is it something more closely associated with the creation and ownership of your world?

4. If a particular rule is interpreted in a way you don't agree with, why is it so hard to simply accept it and move on? There are plenty of ways to adjust characters, why would one rule adjustment cause emotional responses?

I could post more, but here's what they all boil down to:

5. Why do people get so upset and angry about an activity that they are presumably doing to relax and have fun?

That's what I really don't get. Where does the "I do this to have fun with my friends" get lost in the shuffle and "If I can't have my way I get pissed" take over?

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Based on the numerous and ever-growing list of threads dedicated to laying out in exquisite detail exactly what makes some gamers miserable, I find myself wondering why many of these people play this game.

Threads full of "my GM is an ass" or "I can't get along with player X" or "the new errata breaks my super awesomeness" or "why don't my players appreciate me?" are just a constant source of amazement for me.

I find myself wondering if those folks who are constantly posting messages about how this, that or the other thing ruins their gaming have any other activities they participate in, and if they have the same general reaction to those activities.

I feel like I should give my gaming group some sort of "super awesome gamers" award or something, since we seem to be able to play together for years at a time without altercations breaking out, people tossing their dice or individuals tossed unceremoniously out into the snow.

I would love to hear from other people whose gaming experience is more like mine, instead of the constant whining about how their games are miserable.

How many of you have gamed for months and months without the slightest problem, argument or string of personal insults being flung back and forth across your table?

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Clearly the goal of the FAQ was not to rewrite full attack combat rules for every ranged attack option.

Geez, there are half a dozen threads already with hundreds of posts all about how the new FAQ totally breaks the game.

That was not the intent and it should be clear to everyone that was not the intent.

Is it "Pay-zo" or "Pie-zo"? Or something else like "Pee-zo"?

Our group is having a bit of a dry period in gaming. Part of that is due to me having to move and a few weeks later another main group member having to move twice in a month. Plus it's summer and people are dealing with vacations and such.

But it also feels that the group just isn't as invested in gaming anymore. People are creatures of habit, and I think we sort of got out of the habit of making time for gaming.

So I am looking for ideas to spice up the gaming experience so that it is more likely to appeal enough to get people to make it a priority and plan some activities around gaming instead of planning gaming around every other possible activity.

If anyone else has gone through this and has come up with some ideas to bring back the spark, I'd love to hear what you did. If others just have some ideas, those are welcome too.

There's a thread going on here where people are describing multiple ways of using the "mount" spell in a "creative" manner. Almost all of the examples being given as "creative" or "out of the box" thinking seem to me to be old, tired, hackneyed summoning cliches. But perhaps my view is skewed because I've been playing this game for 35 years and dropping blue whales on the BBEG was one of the first things any real summoner did as far back as I can remember.

So what I'm looking for are really and truly creative ways to use spells. Things that don't tend to pop up within a few weeks of just about every game that includes a spellcaster.

I would especially like to hear about truly clever uses of zero or first level spells.

I'll start with a simple one that I use a lot. Many of my arcane casters will purchase fireworks or flash powder. In order to create a distraction, diversion or lay down concealing smoke, they will mage hand the fireworks or flash powder to a location as far away from them as possible, then use spark to set off the fireworks or create the smoke cloud. That allows the party to then gain concealment or, if done well, sneak in past guards who have stepped away from their post to check on the diversion.

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I've seen a couple threads lately about role playing and "did I go too far"? In one case it was a question about whether a PC was too "gimped" to be acceptable. Another case was a specific role playing activity which may or may not have been too focused on a single PC.

I am wondering if perhaps I crossed the line myself in what I had considered to be one of my best role playing moments.

Here's the scenario: My female archer druid was level 7. I had been playing her from level 1 in a slow advance game. In real life terms I had been playing her for almost five years. In all that time she had bonded with her original wolf animal companion. I role played that bond as being very important to her and did my best to present the relationship as a key part of her personality.

Well, as things go, the wolf was killed in battle. My druid was put in the position during the battle of having to choose between saving her wolf, or saving the party sorcerer. This was actually a very hard choice for her and it had serious consequences. In the end she chose to save the fully sentient humanoid party member, and could do nothing but watch as her wolf was quite literally eaten alive.

The party finally defeated the encounter and we ended our game session at that point, so I had some time between sessions to work out my druid's reaction to her AC's death.

I decided that she would be devastated. She took full responsibility for the death, even knowing that it was the sorcerer or the AC, she was wracked with guilt over choosing to save the sorcerer. As part of the encounter she slew the giant crocodile that had eaten her AC and recovered the corpse. So she planned an appropriate burial ceremony. Or, more accurately, I planned one for her. Including having my druid sing a farewall song for the AC.

Now, I understand that to play all that out at the game table might be seen as "hogging the spotlight" so instead I played this out in an email message I sent to the game group describing my druid's reaction to the death, the ceremonial burial and the performance of the farewell song. I did that specifically so that it didn't take up game time, but so that the entire party had a chance to understand what was going on, and if they so desired, offer their own condolences or participation.

I got nothing from anyone but the GM who said "awesome dude!" or something like that.

So at our next gaming session I reminded the party that the activities I had described in email would be occuring during the evening camp so that my druid wasn't going to be available for any other activities that night. Since we rarely role play our evening camp activities I considered this to be merely an informational aside to explain why I would not be having my druid participate in any in character tomfoolery at the camp that night, nor would she be taking any watches.

The reaction I got was pretty much "meh, whatever."

None of the other party members offered even the slightest expression of loss for the AC and in fact most of the comments about the AC were in-character comments that were actually painful for my druid to hear. Even the sorcerer whose life had been saved by the AC's sacrifice expressed no words of comfort and joined in the general jokes about how expendable ACs were and how I just needed to request a new meat shield and should spend the evening doing that instead of grieving for the lost one.

In the end I decided the event was so traumatic that my druid chose not to immediately summon a new AC as a means of atoning for her inability to protect her first one.

So my question to the group is this:

Was my role playing too much? Was it over the top? Was it inappropriate? How would you react to a player who had their druid spend an evening grieving over the loss of their first and only AC instead of immediately summoning a replacement?

Am I "That Guy" who role plays too much?

One of the things that keeps me entertained on these boards is the vast confusion over lots of terms that are thrown around in posts all the time, the majority of which posts eventually become ensnared in semantic arguments about what the terms mean. Specifically the terms that seem to cause the most issues are the following:

Power gamer
Roll player
Role playing


I personally see a huge difference between the terms "power gamer" and "munchkin" but they are used more or less interchangeably in many threads.

So as a public service I offer this thread as a means to create a "Tabletop Gamer Personality Profiler" (TGPP) which can be used to not only quantify the differences between these terms, but which can be used by players to identify their own gamer personality profile.

To do so I propose that we examine the personality of a gamer along three axes, and then to plot the resulting position into a three-dimensional grid with each "box" in the grid having a designation as to the type of gamer personality that box represents.

The three axes I propose for this exercise are:

1. Gamer maturity (this is not the same as normal maturity, but there is a lot of overlap)
2. Gamer approach (basically roll play vs role play)
3. Gamer rigor (basically how important the gamer feels adherence to the rules is)

The idea would be to generate a couple dozen questions that provide a numerical result on one or more of these three axes which can then be plotted into the grids. Each question would be constructed with a need to pick one of the following responses:

- Very important
- Somewhat important
- Not important

So a bit more on each of these:

Gamer maturity is a measure of how self-centered the player is when it comes to gaming. This is not necessarily a measure of their real-life maturity, but is instead intended to focus on how they GAME. A typical question might be:

"How important is it to you when you game that your character is as powerful or more powerful than the other PCs in the group."

Gamer approach is a measure of how the gamer views the importance of a character concept being created and played according to the character's actual statistics. A typical question might be:

"How important is it to you that your characters act within the limitations of their physical attributes, skills and abilities."

Gamer rigor is a measure of how important the gamer feels it is to have and follow a set of predictable, reliable rules. A typical question might be:

"How important is it to you that in your games the GM not create house rules that override the rules of the game system you are playing."

Some questions could provide insight into more than one axis at a time. For example:

"How important is it to you that your PC be an active member of a cooperative group of PCs in an immersive story?" Such a question would provide a result on both the maturity and approach axes.

At the highest level this could be mapped into a nine-box grid, with each box corresponding to a result of "very, very, very" vs "very, somewhat, none" etc.

Then we could say that a "power gamer" would probably fall into the box which rates maturity as "somewhat important", rates high in "roll play" and rates high in "rules adherence", while a "munchkin" would rate the same in role vs roll play and rules adherence, but would rate low in maturity.

This could be put into an online survey and the results could be posted.


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Back when I first started playing D&D, which was mostly done during clan rituals where we served brontosaurus burgers, I used to care a whole lot about leveling my characters up. In fact leveling up was a driving force behind my desire to play the game. I was always looking for some new spell level, or ability or magic item to add to my characters' repertoire.

Nowadays I find that I don't actually care that much about leveling up. It's nice when it happens, and I enjoy the process of picking new feats, spells, abilities, etc. but I have a number of characters I would be fine playing at their current level if they never leveled up again.

I wonder if I am unique in this regard. There are times when we reach a new level and I find myself saying "Dang! I haven't fully explored all the synergies of the stuff I just gained with our LAST level, now I have to add more to it?"

When I was playing 4e I was constantly feeling like my character was leveling up far too easily and quickly and that I was retiring powers that I had barely used. (4e has the concept of limited level-based powers so when you reach, say, level 14, to gain a new power you have to retire an older, lower level, one to make room for the new one.)

In general I feel I need about half a dozen sessions at least at any one level for me to feel like I've mastered the new capabilities and am ready to move on. In some cases even that's not enough.

I've also found that some levels are particularly comfortable to play and that moving up a level changes the party dynamic enough that I sometimes feel that the party has actually lost effectiveness as new, mostly untested and untried, abilities become the favorite tactic of a character whose previous tactics were reliable and predictable.

In general I guess I feel that my characters level up too fast for my taste. Of course holding my character back is not an option since he/she would rapidly become useless in a party of much higher level characters, but I'm sort of wondering if anyone else feels that they are sometimes rushed into the process of learning a new level before they really had a chance to appreciate their previous level.

... for a cantrip.

Can you get one? If so would it cost 500g? (Or even 250g?) And if you have one, can you cast that cantrip an unlimited number of times?

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I sort of hesitate to start yet ANOTHER thread on the subject of what incredible jerks we have to deal with as gamers, but due to lots of comments about what sort of GM or Player is a "jerk" compels me to describe more or less how I think things OUGHT TO work in the real world, and which, for me anyway, has worked fine. Perhaps this will provide some guidance for other GMs who have an internally consistent ideal for their campaigns to avoid player/GM conflict, perhaps not. As they say, it if saves only one PC from banishment, it's probably worth it, right?

And I'm sure it will provide plenty of ammunition for people to disagree, snark or generally just try to show how amazingly clever and amazing they are. But that just goes with the territory.

OK, here we go.

Hi, I'm Adamantine Dragon and I'm a custom world building GM. I run almost every campaign out of my campaign world. The single exception in the last 20 years was a 4e module I ran for our group when we were testing 4e out and I didn't want to modify my world for 4e rules unless we decided as a group to move to 4e. We didn't, but we did move to Pathfinder. All of my pathfinder campaigns have been in my world, and a couple of other GMs have liked my world enough to set their own custom campaigns in my world as well.

Why is that relevant? Well, because my world has some eccentricities. For example, it's chock full of custom monsters. It has a few custom races. It began as an AD&D world and even though it has been updated through the years, I have not yet incorporated every aspect of the latest game revisions. For example, my world currently has no catfolk, not even any Tengu. It has no gunslingers, no existing NPC summoners and no magi. It's not I that "ban" any of these, they just have never been added.

Also, way back in my early days as a fledgling GM I rather arbitrarily decided that the world had no dwarves. The lack of dwarves was a key backstory element of the world. Dwarves had once existed, but had been the target of genocide and had been completely wiped out. I had "good reasons" for this as a morality tale, and the first epic campaign in the world was designed to allow the PCs to instigate the restoration of the dwarven race, which they did, but until that occurred, dwarven PCs were not allowed.

Now, I have since "matured" or "grown" as a GM and I realize now that a custom world decision on the scale of "no dwarf PCs" is one that I probably should not have made without first consulting my player group. Not that I think it shouldn't be done, but the whole point of this game is to be a collaborative story creating environment and while I am the GM and drive the game world creation process, creating a game world that players might not want to play in is just an exercise in futility. So I don't make that sort of campaign world decision arbitrarily anymore.

But, I do have some things in my world that are "baked in" to the background so intricately that to change them would pretty much mean ripping out huge chunks of work and redoing them. Here are a few of those customizations that players may or may not like, but I don't really consider to be "negotiable". Some of them have mitigating factors that come into play to avoid GM/Player conflict. Anyway, here's the list:

1. Wild magic. I'm the sort of person who really needs verisimilitude. So when I set out to create a magical world, the very first question I felt needed to be addressed was "where does magic come from and how does it work?" This is something that is more or less ignored in the rules themselves, magic just "is." But that really isn't enough for me. I just have a need to know and so magic in my universe is a fundamental force of nature, similar in some respects to the existing natural forces, but different as well. The consequence of that design decision is that the magical fields which permeate the universe can be affected by local phenomena. Large deposits of magical material, for example, will have an impact on the local magical fields. In some cases magic fields can be suppressed to the point that spells hardly work at all. In other places magical fields are so concentrated that magic spells are more potent than they normally are. And in some places the magical fields fluctuate rapidly so that from round to round it is literally impossible to predict the nature of the field when a spell is cast, and so the results can vary significantly from expectations. This is something that the most knowledgeable and clever magical user can and do exploit. Most major magical enclaves, for instance, are located in or near intense local magical fields. Some groups, organizations or political entities find magic to be a threat, and so locate themselves in or near fields of low intensity magical fields.

Wild magic is fairly easy to mitigate for campaigns. If there is any reason the players don't want to deal with it, I can fairly easily concentrate the activities, goals and quests of that campaign in areas of "normal magic." But I do let my players know that the world has these abnormal magical field areas. Some players like it, some don't.

2. Unique theology. In my world the gods are not the same as in the Pathfinder pantheon. I've revised my theology and cosmology a bit each time I've converted the world to a new game rule system, but the fundamental theology has really not changed. Basically my world has a few "elder gods" who run the entire universe. Those "elder gods" are hidden from all but the wisest creatures in the universe. For reasons of their own they interact with the universe through sub-personas that they "birthed" to represent aspects of their overall godhood. These sub-gods are the "gods" that most people worship or fear. However, there is also a level of "demigods" which are not true gods nor personas of the elder gods, but are actually mortal beings which have been promoted to "godhood" by the elder gods, usually through legendary acts of valor or sacrifice. These demigods are generally viewed as the equal of the sub-personas of the elder gods. Once you ascend to the pantheon of gods, you're a god for all intents and purposes. That means PCs can worship these demigods. Some PCs can even worship an elder god, but the backstory for that would have to be extremely well thought out and written up.

3. Alignment modifications. My world doesn't exactly follow the alignment system described in the book. This can create some issues for classes that are highly dependent on alignment. Alignment auras in my world are more granular than in the rules. So a character can ping as "tainted with evil but mostly good" for example. If a level 1 character is evil enough, their aura will have some level of evil taint. There really isn't a race or creature alignment with evil either. Any sentient race will have a range of alignments, although some races will trend more towards one sort of alignment than others. Orcs trend more towards evil than elves, but individual elves and orcs have their own alignments. The most important implication of this is that killing the children of any race is highly discouraged since even a young kobold has a chance of growing up to be good. So indiscriminate destruction of orc villages will have alignment consequences.

4. Magic item creation/destruction. Magic items are created by infusing things with magical fields. Those magical fields can be repurposed. I've sort of adopted the 4e concept of residuum, although I don't call it residuum and it's more of a concentration of magical energy than any sort of magical material. The in-game consequence of this is that magic itself is fungible in many ways. +1 magical swords can be "sacrificed" to concentrate magical energy for the creation of more powerful magical items. However, this repurposing is only as efficient as the magical crafter is, and so it might take several +1 swords to concentrate and repurpose enough magical energy to make a single +2 sword. This is why the world is not overrun with magical items. There are also monsters who consume magic as food. Dragons, for example.

There are more examples of unique rules but these are probably the most player character impacting ones. I have yet to have a single player express anything but interest in these things. Some have even expressed a desire to exploit some of them.

Perhaps the more common issue that comes up are races or classes that I don't currently have represented in my world. When I get a new player I direct them to my blog which has in depth descriptions of my world. Among those descriptions are the basic demographic layout of the main areas of game play. Those areas pretty much only describe populations of humans, elves, half-elves, orcs, goblins, halflings and gnomes. There is no current "Tengu nation" for example. Now, that doesn't mean that I don't allow Tengu PCs, it just means that to introduce a Tengu PC would mean I have some work to do. Most likely what I would do is find one of my lesser traveled areas of the world and create a Tengu nation there so that the PC could have traveled from that remote region to the more commonly active campaign areas. Or perhaps I could even have a campaign that is set in the newly created area and have the PC party be a sort of "Lewis and Clark" expedition with a local guide. Regardless of the approach, I can only fit it into my world if I can take the time and effort to make it work. I'm not going to just randomly drop a Tengu into my world with no explanation. That means a lot of work for me. Work I'm willing to do if I have the time. If I don't have the time I might tell the player that I would greatly prefer that they wait until I get a chance to update my world before they play a Tengu. If the player really, really, really wanted to play one, I might relent and just make the effort.

Then there are gunslingers...

Sigh. I really, really don't like gunslingers. I mean this is as close to an arbitrary GM bias or prejudice as I can think of for my world. I just really feel like gunslingers have no place in my world. And I don't have any desire at all to try to force them in.

So if someone asks to play a gunslinger, this is going to be an issue for me. Does that mean I would simply say "no" and tell them not to let the door hit them on the way out?

Well, I've never worked that way. Well, not since my first early days as a dwarf-denying GM anyway.

What this would do if a player wanted to play a gunslinger is it would create a significant internal conflict for me personally. I would find myself pitting my intellectual desire to be flexible and accommodating against my emotional desire to keep my fantasy world free of guns. I honestly don't know which would win. That's in large part because I have verisimilitude problems with cultures pursuing technology when there is no economic, military or academic reason to do so. Guns exist in our world because they are demonstrably superior to previous types of weapons. In a world of death-raining magical compound bows and pointed fingers delivering rays of instant death, I just don't see the rationale behind the pursuit of gun technology. It just doesn't "make sense."

But if someone really wants to play one, would I revisit that bias and prejudice? Would I make the effort to make it work?

I could you know. Some large island nation could well exist in an area where local magic is suppressed to the point that guns are a better option. Guns created in that region would work fine elsewhere. But would they be adopted? Probably not.

I suppose the day will inevitably come when I have to make a decision. The only thing I want the player who is asking to play a gunslinger to understand is that I am not being arbitrary and that I want to work with them. So far that has always been the case, and I hope I am lucky enough that it always is the case in the future.

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With all the histrionics and angst being vomited up on these boards about how this hobby has fallen into decadence and despair, I thought I would just post a simple bit of reminiscing about the game which demonstrates why I love it now at least as much as I did when my brother first plopped the Players Handbook on top of my physics text in 1978 and said "take a break, you're going to roll up a character."

I was a physics student struggling to get by, working two jobs each summer and one job during the school year and paying rent, groceries and, when I could manage it, dinner and a movie for my latest opposed-gender companion. My brother was in the Navy where he had discovered the game of "Dungeons and Dragons" since it was played regularly on long ship deployments. I was an avid reader of fantasy and sci-fi and had even written an unpublished novella and a couple of short stories. My room had the latest "Lord of the Rings" calendar on the wall, and most of the individual paintings tacked up from the previous year's LotR calendar. I even had some sculptures of Gandalf that I had created myself. Studying Physics was quite an investment of time and energy, especially on top of my paid job.

"OK." I said. And soon I was reading the PHB and contemplating the creation of a "player character" that I would "role play" in a "campaign" that my brother had created while on ship. Looking through the available options, I decided that the game was clearly human-biased and the whole idea of magic was sort of fascinating, so with my brother's help, I rolled up a level 1 human wizard (which was actually called a "magic-user" as I recall).

My brother was a ruthless GM. You got what you rolled. And I have always had notoriously poor luck with dice. However, he did have somewhat generous ability rolling rules, allowing you to choose where to put your 3d6 results so that you could construct a character targeting your preferred class. Luckily one of my rolls was a 16, and that meant my wizard was extremely intelligent. But when I rolled a "1" on the tiny four-sided hit die, I was crushed.

"No worries" my brother said. "Your first character is just gonna die anyway."

Physics forgotten I then went through the fascinating experience of fleshing out my wizard. Soon I had a character sheet filled with numbers, text and repeated marks of erasures and rewriting. When I finally completed the process to my brother's satisfaction, I spent the rest of the evening creating pencil drawings of my new wizard. Finally I had one that I thought was suitable and I cut it out and taped it into the little square reserved for "character illustration."

I was all set. The next day was a Saturday and my brother had rounded up a group to go into his campaign.

My memory isn't terribly reliable, but as I recall, the next day the group of players settled into couches and bean bag chairs in the living room of my rented apartment. My brother started the session by describing a strange medieval-sounding world where all of our characters had been born and grew up. My character had been off at "wizard school" for a few years and had recently returned home as a newly certified wizard. This gave my character some renown in the town. As I recall, his ale was free at the tavern. "Cool!" I thought.

But trouble was brewing in the town. Goblin raids had begun recently and a childhood friend had gone missing. An angry crowd had converged on the tavern with the idea that "something must be done!"

"Hey! You're a wizard! You need to protect us!" one of the villagers said, pointing at my character. My puffed chest at the free ale suddenly became a sense of cold fear as I looked at the "1" written in the "Hit Points" block on my character sheet.

"Wizards are not the only help you can seek, my friend!" A voice came from the table next to mine. There a young man clad in simple armor and wielding a sword rose up, raising his sword above his head. "Steel has ever been the bane of goblins." he said.

"Your steel and mine!" another young man strode forth, clad in leather armor and adorned with daggers. "I will not let the goblins get away with kidnapping or murdering my friend!"

"Wizard! Do you care to join us?" the first volunteer asked, looking at me.

"Of course!" I had my wizard reply, sneaking a peek at that character's sheet. NINE HIT POINTS! OMG! Maybe I can just hide behind him...

Soon a fourth villager, a young priest sent by the local temple to aid us, joined our group. The villagers cheered our resolve and some even offered to help with small items like rope, old rusty daggers, and the local priest himself handed us a rare and treasured flask containing a potion which he said could save us at need.

Before I knew what was happening, we were at the edge of town, following the trail of refuse and blood left by the rampaging goblins. "What have I gotten myself into?" I wondered.

Eventually we caught up with the evil monsters, and their captives. We attempted to sneak up to their camp, but were spotted. Suddenly we were in battle! My wizard pulled forth his one and only spell and half of the goblins fell to the ground asleep. The rest were soon disposed of by the cold steel of my wizard's companions.

As we walked back to town with the captives and the town cheered our success, I thought "This is pretty cool!"

I've been hooked ever since.

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There have been a couple of contentious threads on the subject of "making sense" when either multi-classing to a new class, or else even just gaining new abilities within a class (e.g. new spell levels).

There is definitely an argument to be made that true immersion would lead the gaming group to deal with a rogue learning how to become a wizard, or for a fighter to learn a difficult new feat, however, there is also an argument that if each level essentially becomes a side-quest to complete, that can very seriously interrupt an ongoing campaign story itself.

Most gamers, I believe, tend to fall somewhere in between the extremes of "explain everything" and "explain nothing."

What I'd like to do on this thread is not to revisit the debate of whether it is "badwrongfun" to play one way or the other, but to have people present reasonable in-game approaches to the issue of multi-classing or just leveling up.

Some situations are obviously easier than others. Spontaneous casters can be assumed to just spontaneously add to their repertoire. But wizards leveling up in a dungeon, or rogues taking a level of druid are more problematic.

I think the first and most reasonable approach is for players to try to plan their level advancement in advance and to drop a few role-play attempts to explain it during game. For example, a rogue could spend downtime with UMD to read and attempt to understand scrolls the party has found if the rogue intends to multi-class into wizard.

This might give some players a way to pre-empt any in game problems if they expect to multi-class without notifying their GM in their own games.

So, any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

So, suppose I don't have the "detect magic" cantrip.

But suppose that I enter a room with loot and pick up a high-quality sword. I can't "detect magic" but can I now use spellcraft to "identify the properties" of the sword?

If the sword happens to be magic, I see nothing in the use of "spellcraft" that says I have to know that the item is magical. So wouldn't spellcraft work just as it normally does and I need to make a spellcraft check to see if I identify the properties?

And if it's not magical, does that mean I can identify the lack of properties? There is no caster for a non-magical item, so the caster level should be zero, which means the DC to determine if it is magical at all would be 15.

Obviously if I don't take "detect magic" then I can't just glance at a pile and locate the magic items, but I could pick up individual items and examine them with spellcraft, and that would tell me if it is magical or not, right?

I keep seeing the recommendation to summon lantern archons to deal with a wide variety of "problems".

The latest was a recommendation to just summon a group of them to kill golems.

It seems that these "CR2" critters are quite powerful.

Why wouldn't a wizard just summon them for any fight?

I'm trying to pick spells known for my first level detective bard.

I really want "dancing lights" and "ghost sound", and "detect magic" is probably necessary from a role play perspective (he's a sneaky skillmonkey dude... he'd want to be able to detect magic items...)

Of those remaining I am torn between:

"Sift" - examine an area from 30' away
"Mage hand" - pick up stuff at a distance
"Open/close" - open or close things at a distance
"prestidigitation" - lots of uses
"spark" - Just really like this cantrip

So, any advice? The idea behind "dancing lights" and "ghost sound" is to be able to create distractions and mislead guards or pursuers. Plus "dancing lights" works well as a "light" substitute. Seems really handy for a scout type PC.

Any suggestions appreciated.

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I see this a lot in threads where someone mentions using tactics. I responded to such a thread with a description of what I mean by strategy and tactics at a very high level, and after responding I thought maybe this deserved its own thread. So I am reposting it here:

Re: unusual tactics or strategy.

It has been my experience that players have to be trained to utilize strategy and tactics.

What I try to do in combat (and what I try to teach the game group I play with) is to follow the following general strategy for combat:

1. Knowledge is power. Learn what you can about your opponents. In some cases with extensive lead time that means trips to a library to research local history, in other cases where you've been jumped totally unexpectedly it means observing the enemy in action. Either way "Learn your enemy's strengths and weaknesses" should be among the first thing the party does. That can be done in game context with knowledge checks, perception checks or sense motive checks. USE THESE SKILLS IN COMBAT.

2. Exploit the environment. This is nearly impossible if you don't do #1 above. But it is one of the most powerful ways to turn an encounter to your advantage. Identify what parts of the battlefield give your party a tactical edge. In some cases that means exploiting difficult terrain, in some cases that means utilizing cover or in some cases it means learning how to make the environment an active agent in the combat.

3. Manage the battlefield. Sun Tzu taught over 3,000 years ago that the winner of a battle is usually the army that has a tactical advantage, not necessarily the army that has superior firepower or manpower. This is one of the things that I believe confuses more players than any other part of combat. What does it mean to manage the battlefield? Is that the wizard's job? No, it's everybody's job. Fighters can bull rush opponents, archers can throw tanglefoot bags, casters can throw up walls, create pits, whatever. The important thing about battlefield control is that the party should have some idea of how to structure the battlefield. Does the party benefit from the creation of difficult terrain? Does the party benefit from creating choke points? Etc.

4. Focus on offense. In the words of General George S Patton, the winner of the battle is usually the one that "gets there the firstest with the mostest". Offense is generally superior to defense in combat, but the Pathfinder ruleset actually codifies this by making damage scale faster and higher than healing or armor class. Focusing on offense is best done when items #1, #2 and #3 are also being performed. Knowledge of the enemy will tell you which opponents are the biggest threat. Those should be targeted first. Exploiting the environment will allow you to position your team for the best possible means of delivering damage to those key targets. And managing the battlefield can make them sitting ducks so that they can be more easily damaged or neutralized. Most battles in PF are hit point attrition affairs. Because of that it is key to try to go first. There are very few tactical options that will end up being superior to "get the highest initiative you can manage". If your attacks kill an opponent who has a lower initiative, it's a full round where you did damage and the opponent did not.

5. Communicate and coordinate. In the modern military they call this "command and control". Execute tactical plans, and direct the action. Someone should be the combat tactician. They should be giving orders. "Bull rush the troll into the pit!" Etc. When individual party members are left to operate as free agents, tactical options like "focus fire" or "manage the battlefield" or "know the enemy" become a waste of effort. An effective team is a coordinated team. Coordination requires teamwork, planning and willingness to follow orders.

6. Be prepared to improvise. Yeah, I know that this one seems to contradict all the previous 5. It doesn't contradict them. It is a way of saying that every battle plan will fracture to some degree when the battle begins. The less knowledge you have about your enemy, the more likely you will have to improvise. This means pay attention to what is happening in combat. "Your sword connects solidly, but somehow it doesn't seem to do as much damage as you expected" is a clue that maybe your sword isn't the best way to deal with this threat. Maybe a club would work better. Maybe weapons should be put aside and combat maneuvers or dirty tricks should be attempted so that spellcasters can deal with this particular threat.

7. Have a retreat plan. Who initiates retreat? What are the parameters that lead to choosing to retreat? How is a retreat coordinated? Where do you retreat to? Who provides rear protection while the retreat is in order. If all else fails, who sacrifices themselves so the others can get away?

I have played with groups that do some of these things but not the others. And I have played in groups that do none of these things.

Now, quite frankly, sometimes it can be quite fun to totally ignore all of this and just wade into combat like a bunch of untrained newbs. Fun is not based on tactical success alone, and sometimes not at all.

These are tips to be more effective in combat. They are not tips on how to improve your fun.

Unless winning more combats while using fewer resources is fun for you.

It sort of is for me.

So, does a wizard have to prepare his cantrips every day, or if he doesn't prepare new ones, do the ones he had prepared the day before stay in his prepared slots?

This could be relevant if, for example, a wizard is captured and deprived of his spell book.

... no spoilers please!

I am looking to join a Carrion Crown campaign, starting with the first module.

We have six players signed up, but we may end up with only four or five when push comes to shove on the schedule.

So far we have one player wanting to play a "meaty fighty dude", one wanting to play a necromancer wizard and one who is flirting with cleric. (I am trying to dissuade him from playing a heal focused cleric.)

So, without any spoilers, the main question I have is whether the party truly needs a rogue.

I don't mind playing a rogue, but there are other classes/roles I am interested in too. I've played lots of rogues, but I've never played a bard. So I'm wondering how a bard would fit in.

Any advice would be appreciated.

... and if so, when and how?

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I constantly see posts on various subjects that say something like "Magic shops ruin the game" or "Nothing is special if you can just order it from a catalog" or "If a PC can just buy an item then they will never appreciate it."

I understand those sentiments. In some ways I sympathize with them.

But I don't agree with them.

The idea that nothing is special if you can order it from a catalog is sort of interesting to me since I know all sorts of special things I could order from catalogs. Things like, Oh, I dunno, a Ferrari? A Rolex? A Lear Jet?

Let's look at weapons and armor. In the real world weapons are primarily guns and knives. Armor is, well, armor. You can buy guns at any price range, and if you want the most reliable, most accurate, most powerful gun possible, you're going to pay a hefty price for it. But you CAN buy it from a catalog. The same is true of body armor. Or electronic devices. Or shoes. Or gloves...

I recently researched the subject of pellet guns. I had no idea that there was a worldwide market for high power, highly accurate pellet guns. There is. You can spend several thousand dollars on a pellet gun if you want to. And that gun is going to be vastly superior to a $200 pellet gun. Or if that's not enough, you can have your pellet gun custom made for as much as you want to spend.

The point is that having access to nice things doesn't mean that nice things aren't "special." It just means you have access to them.

I am an amateur astronomer. There are custom made telescopes on the market for amateur astronomers that run close to $100,000 or even more. Do you think that the people who buy those telescopes think they are any less amazing because they didn't have to raid an enemy astronomer's lair and haul it off as booty?

In a world where magic exists and people can LEARN to be wizards through simple study and time, there will be magic items made for purchase. And they will be sold like any other commodity.

A game where magic shops allow PCs to buy desirable items that fit their concept is a game where players are empowered and concepts are achievable. A game where players are at the mercy of a GM who manipulates the world so that certain things are available and certain things are not is a world where players are at the mercy of the GM to achieve their conceptual goals.

So, instead of enhancing a magic item to provide a +1 to hit and a +1 to damage, what do you think about splitting that into separate enhancements that are not tied together so that you could purchase a +2/+0 or a +0/+2 weapon enhancment?

If you allowed it, what would you charge for it? Would the attack bonus be more or less than the damage bonus? And why?

For GMs, have you worked with players on spells they have wanted to research?

For players, have you researched spells and added them to your repertoire?

I'd also love to hear whether the spells you've researched were custom spells or were just spells you liked on a different class's spell list.

Now, for those of you who have done it, how easy or hard was it?

So, my druid is "between campaigns" right now. Our last campaign ended with her leveling up to level 9 and gaining a whole bunch of treasure. So she is now going back to do some "downtime" activities, including some spell research, some home building and studying this tome she found in a dungeon.

The GM who ran the last campaign is now wanting to play so I am working with the GM of the next campaign for my druid on her downtime activities. With all the treasure she has she can do just about anything, it was one of those epic quest things with a dragon hoard at the end.

So the new GM has basically said "With all that gold, you can essentially work trades, buy stuff and otherwise completely re-equip your druid, so long as you stay roughly within the Wealth by level guidelines when you are done before going into my campaign". Or words to that effect.

It is important to note that she is an archer and she uses her bow as her typical combat attack in most fights, but will use spells when pressed and generally uses spells in major boss fights.

So I thought I'd come to here and see if anyone had suggestions for how to totally pimp my druid.

My main concern is that she get a bow with the guided property to utilize her high wisdom bonus, a headband of inspired wisdom +2 at least and a better AC than she has now (leaf +1 armor).

She will also need barding for her tiger.

So right now it's a blank slate. The GM generally doesn't like to go too far from the core books but he's already approved the "bracers of the falcon" and the "adaptive" enchantment for the bow, so he's got some leeway.

The druid in question has the following stats, without any magic items:

Str - 10
Dex -16
Con - 10
Int - 10
Wis - 20
Cha - 11

With the guided property on her bow, she won't need a high dex. She might benefit from some str in fact with the adaptive property.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Here's a quick list of stuff I've considered so far:

+1 adaptive, guided bow
bracers of the falcon
+2 elvish chain mail armor
+1 barding for AC
+2 headband of inspired wisdom
Boots of speed

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So, just for fun I thought I'd see if the high-powered minds on this messageboard could come up with a build for a wizard who focuses on melee, but still can step aside and pull off the awesome cosmic fabric-of-reality altering wizardness whenever necessary. We'll call him "Melzard"

The guidelines should be as follows:

1. Melzard should have at least a 60% chance to hit level-appropriate monsters.

2. Melzard should have an AC comparable to an equal level fighter or cleric

3. Melzard should have enough hit points to survive a couple of hits in combat.

4. Melzard should expect that his physical prowess should be enough to survive and defeat most encounters.

Melzard should not rely on "Schroedinger's Wizard" spellcasting, meaning any spells used to achieve points 1, 2 or 3 above should either be long-term (hours) or cast as swift actions.

If Melzard should end up only being effective for some range of levels, those levels should include at least levels 1 - 10.

If we can't make Melzard work, we should start on a Ranzard (ranged wizard) build instead.

But I think we can make Melzard work.

I just want to get some ideas from folks around what qualifies as "powergaming" There are constant debates on these forums about when a "reasonable build" crosses some invisible line and becomes a "power gamer build."

So in the spirit of Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck if... (your lawn furniture used to be your living room furniture), I am going to get people's thoughts on munchkinery, power gaming, min-maxing, etc. by trying to have some fun with it.

So I'll start:

You might be a munchkin if...:

... you have a pet Tarrasque.

... you have crafted a staff of wishes.

... your AC is so high the only creature that can hit it reliably is... you.

... you have solars on your speed dial.

... your magic items have magic items.

... your minions have minions.

... your party brings popcorn and soda to an encounter so they have something to do.

... you can't remember the last time you didn't get a full attack in combat.

... you use a weapon whose name you didn't know a year ago, and still can't spell without looking it up.

... you resorted to bribery or intimidation to convince your GM to allow a book because it had a feat your character "needed".

Just a few... looking forward to other thoughts...

There are a couple of threads going on right now about how to run an "old school" type of campaign. One of those made me think about how using extensive terrain elements might impact the enjoyment of the game.

While there are many things being discussed that are being identified as elements of "old school" gaming, things like lethality, scope of rules, use of battle grid, etc. one of the things that gets mentioned is sometimes referred to as "theater of the mind" which is the concept that in the old days games were much more descriptive and required more imagination by the player who was reconstructing in their own head what the GM was telling him.

This got me to thinking about differing, and perhaps mutually exclusive, aspects of the game that I find enjoyable.

First of all, I am very much a fan of "theater of the mind." I love the idea of the GM and players collaborating on a joint story that may be led by the GM, but is "owned" by everyone in the group who contributes to it.

But I also enjoy the tactile, craft-oriented aspects of gaming. Making and/or painting miniatures, for example. Or more and more lately, making and using terrain.

Last night, for example, I spent probably two hours assembling and painting a "Dwarven guard room" which is where my players will start their next encounter. The guard room is made from Hirst Arts blocks cast out of Hydrostone and painted with acrylic paints. I don't want to post a photo of it yet because I want the first view of it to be when I plop it down in front of my players.

The room will have two doors, one at a higher level since the guard room is at the lower level of a dwarven city, and is the gateway into the Underdark where the dwarves sometimes trade with the races who live there. There will be a desk, a table, some chairs, some shelves, some items on the tables and desk, a weapon cache and a cabinet for storage of armor. All will be painted and put on display so that I can say "OK, your characters are in this room."

From there they will (presumably, unless they revolt) head out the door into a dwarven made tunnel which will lead eventually to a secret door into a larger tunnel where the Underdark begins. That tunnel is also made out of Hirst blocks, assembled and painted, and the larger tunnel is the beginning of a fairly typical "dungeon crawl" section where there will be multiple passageways and rooms to explore, all done in the same fieldstone blocks.

Now, my players have repeatedly expressed great satisfaction and appreciation for my terrain elements, which have included a palace, wizard's tower, troll's cabin, several outdoor elements and an underground cave/cavern so far. And I enjoy making and using them.

But does using such things detract from the "theater of the mind" experience? Does it make the game less "literate" and more "mechanical"?

I dunno. What do you think?

6 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the errata.

I've read through several threads on detect evil and at least on these boards the consensus seems to be that detect evil only detects evil auras, and evil auras are present and have the strength that are listed in the detect evil spell matrix for different creatures and classes.

Or to put it another way, detect evil will not detect evil from a less than fifth level fighter no matter how evil the fighter is because a fighter of less than level 5 has no aura.

Is there an actual FAQ or errata that explicitly states whether detect evil ONLY detects auras in this way?

For full disclosure, I am having a discussion with my paladin player who believes detect evil detects any evil at all, and that auras are only detected if the paladin looks for auras.

Also, while I am debating the RAW with the player, I frankly think the RAW is stupid if that's how it works. So I am putting my own house rule in effect anyway, but I still want to know if there has been any FAQ or errata which clarifies how the spell works on the first round. I have done FAQ searches and found nothing, but I am not convinced I am searching effectively.

Any help is appreciated. (And while opinions are welcome, please indicate if you are simply presenting your opinion. What I want is actual Paizo confirmation about how the ability/spell works with auras.)

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I've posted other links in the past with other modern archers who have been able to shoot extremely fast and accurately. The previous best I have seen is a guy who has recreated the ancient Mongol raider technique and was able to shoot six arrows from a running horse and deliver potentially lethal arrows to human dummies at a rate of slightly more than one arrow per second.

Now there's this guy, who shows how to shoot ten arrows accurately, with lethal force, in less than five seconds.

He demonstrates his arrows penetrating chain mail armor easily.

In another thread I posted a quick comment about how even a physically "weak" druid can quite easily boost up their animal companion to become a solid melee tank. But I think there's lots more than could be done to optimize the animal companion's tankiness.

If you wanted to create the best possible animal companion tank, what techniques would you use?

My initial comment on the other thread was pretty simple. Get some magical barding, throw in an amulet of natural armor and then when battle is about to start, feed the AC a potion of shield.

Using a level 9 big cat as an example you would have a base normal AC as a level 9 big cat of 25. (10 +1 original, +2 lvl 7 adv, +6 AC increase, +4 for 18 dex, +1 dodge, +1 improved nat armor).

Add +2 leather barding (+5) and a +2 amulet of natural armor and you are at AC 32 for a level 9 big cat (other ACs no doubt could do much better. I suppose you could make "chain shirt" barding to get to AC 33, which would also give a potential to go to +5 dex bonus if you could scrounge some more dex for the cat.

What else can you do for a permanent AC boost?

Add a shield potion and you should be able to get to AC 36. Would "barkskin" stack with the amulet of natural armor?

Any other ideas for how to boost an animal companion's AC?

With all the threads about "power gaming" and "optimizing" and "min-maxing" and all that other "crunchy" stuff about how to numerically maximize the advantage a character has, I got to wondering.

How do you "power story tell"?

I'm not suggesting that power gaming and story telling are mutually exclusive, far from it. I'm just asking what techniques people use to optimize the story telling aspect of the game.

For example:

Do you attempt to advance the plot using any of the following techniques?

1. Characters receiving dreams which are intended to direct their actions in some way.
2. Divination spells are resolved by revealing important plot guidance.
3. Special NPCs who provide particular information that directs characters to pursue specific goals.
4. Visions, apparitions or other "supernatural" encouragement
5. Quests, missions, rewards

Also, beyond the use of specific techniques to advance the story, what special techniques do you use to attempt to make the story more compelling to the players? Do you use any of the following?

1. Extensive role playing of key NPCs, including, but not limited to, unique accents, signature sayings, special clothing, or mannerisms?
2. Detailed plot/story exposition outside of the gaming table, with emphasis on story telling techniques that might be used in movies, novels or TV shows?
3. Do you introduce romance to the game in an attempt to make one or more players feel more engaged.

Finally, do any of you approach story telling with environmental adjustments? Do you use music, bring candy, dim the lights...

How do you do it?

So... we just wrapped up a years-long campaign with an epic battle against a red dragon and his minions.

Not to go into great detail, but it went something like this:

Party is all 8th level.


1. Party rogue scouts ahead invisibly, discovering dragon "resting" in his lair. Returns to party apparently undiscovered to report.
2. Party druid lays out tactics, asks sorcerer to "greater invisibility" the druid, the party rogue and the party sorcerer with his three available slots (greater invisibility is the only fourth level spell the sorcerer has).
3. Party druid asks party rogue to use rogue's "invisibility" wand to cast invisibility on party barbarian and druid's AC.
4. Party druid casts "greater magic fang" on tiger AC bite, casts "magic fang" on tiger claws and casts "cat's grace" upon herself.
5. Party moves as quietly as possible into charging range (now round 4 since initial buffs cast)
6. Party initiative results - Rogue - Druid - AC - Sorc - Barbarian.

*Round 1*

1. Rogue moves into dragon lair attempting to get behind dragon to gain flanking.
2. Druid holds action waiting for AC
3. AC charges invisibly into lair, pouncing on dragon. Dragon does not react, with buffs in place, lion hits with all five attacks, and critical hits on his bite. Does roughly 70 damage.
4. Druid 5 foot steps to position as far away from dragon as possible while still having a clear shot and full-attacks with bow. All three attacks hit, four arrows do roughly 30 damage to dragon.
5. Sorcerer moves into lair and magic missiles dragon, does 15 damage.
6. Previously unseen enemy rogue appears suddenly behind party barbarian, sneak attacks for 21 damage.
7. Previously unseen enemy sorcerer unleashes 11d6 "chain lightning" on party, all party members are in range except druid. raw damage is 44, half damage is 22. AC (initial target) and rogue make save, take no damage (each has "evasion"). Sorcerer and barbarian fail save, take 22 each.
8. Dragon 5 foot steps away from party AC and uses breath weapon, managing to include AC, sorcerer and barbarian (but not rogue or druid). AC fails save, takes full 59 damage. left with 3 hit points. Sorcerer makes save, takes half damage (29) reduced to 2 hit points. Barbarian fails save, takes full damage. Dies before being able to move.

*Round 2*

1. Party rogue realizes that at least some of the enemy party can see invisible. Decides to 5 ft step and full attack (unable to gain flanking due to dragon moving away from AC). Hits twice, does 11 total damage.

2. AC 5 foot steps and full attacks dragon. Bite attack and one claw succed, dragon dies.
3. Druid sees dead barbarian, also sees sorcerer badly injured. Realizes the sorcerer cannot get away from both the sorcerer's spells and the rogue's daggers, so sorcerer is easy prey. Decides to withold action to allow sorcerer to move.
4. Sorcerer runs out of dragon's lair, drops strategically placed fireball in spot that it only hits enemy rogue. Enemy rogue turns out to be immune to fire damage, so fireball does nothing.
5. Druid decides to focus on saving sorcerer and so summons a tiger, giving up a fourth level spell to spontaneously summon. As a lion shaman can summon cats as a standard action, so drops the tiger so it can charge/pounce enemy rogue. Yells to sorcerer "Get behind me!" Then moves into dragon's lair in position to engage enemy sorcerer or enemy rogue on next turn.
6. Summoned tiger charges, bites, claws and with successful hit, attempts to grapple enemy rogue. Grapple is successful.
7. Enemy rogue attempts to escape grapple and fails.
8. Enemy sorcerer drops "wall of fire" around him to keep party rogue at bay. Wall of fire does five points of damage to party rogue.

*Round 3*

1. Party rogue ignores fire damage and leaps through wall of fire, taking 24 damage, which is almost, but not quite, enough to drop him. Uses spring attack feat to allow sneak attack. Sneak attack kills sorcerer.
2. Animal companion moves to attack grappled enemy rogue. Bite attack is successful, enemy rogue dies.

* Combat Over *

Party uses gold from treasure to hire cleric to resurrect barbarian. Party druid returns most loot to rightful owners, party distributes the rest as reward.

So... how common is it in your games for someone in the party (or yourself) to engage in repartee during combat itself?

If so, what are some of your favorite exchanges?

In our last session my ranger was fighting a nasty but beautiful female skirmisher who was putting up quite a fight. In spite of the dangerous situation my ranger could not help but admire the skills of his adversary. So he began a conversation with her during combat.

Some snippets from the fight:

Ranger: "Such skill is rare, it is an honor to meet such a worthy adversary."

Her: "You shall die here!"
Ranger: "Death is no dishonor against such skill, but you have yet to take my measure."

Her, attempting to flee: "We shall meet again!"
Ranger: "I shall seek you out in the fields of eternal battle, for our dance in this life ends now!"

Her, dying: "...urgle......"
Ranger: "Would that we had met in a different time, a different place..."

I try to come up with something expressing my character's personality in every fight. In some cases it's just him flicking his cigar at someone, or insulting their ancestry.

I have to admit, he has a tendency to flirt with his female adversaries though...

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