I do think the new line of setting books would be a great opportunity to think again on giants.
We have this legacy from D&D in the 19XXs of "Hill Giants" and "Swamp Giants" and "particular biome that your earth sciences teacher once wrote a paper about Giants".
But really, how do giants fit into the world at large? Where do they live on Golarion? Are there giant nations? Are there actually sufficient breeding populations? Are the various "terrain giants" related through common descent?
Lightning Raven wrote:
I think the Mountain Stance is probably the best example. If you take that style you're probably dependent on it for AC so you don't want to be out of it after your turn, but what if you're fighting a devil with resistance against non-silver weapons, weakness against good damage, and earlier in the adventure you conveniently found a good silver dagger?
Finding such a convenient weapon is kind of a staple, but the monk styles make it hard to take advantage of it.
I'd personally lean towards a free action but only at the start of your turn.
Yeah for example in an investigation themed adventure, you can do a check to find a clue as:
Critical Succcess you find the clue and more
That steps neatly around the "roll Perception to proceed with the adventure" problem that we often had. We think that skills should matter in finding clues, but the adventure should survive failures.
Man these grapes are sour.
What I mean is, you don't get one character that's always doing all the skills things while others sit back and be bored.
Need something done with Nature? Well the cleric or druid with high wisdom has a lot more talent at this than the wizard. Need someone smooth-talked? Charisma is needed.
Characters have only so many ability boosts to place, so you can't be good at everything. Not like first edition where a wizard due to high intelligence would have so many more skill points than the fighter, and where the various bonuses made the base ability "talent" irrelevant.
Captain Morgan wrote:
I don't think you can really compare monster level / CR entirely. It's like the scale of CR vs. APL has been compressed a bit; the difference between a level X and X+2 monster is much bigger in PF2 than it is for a CR X and CR X+2 monster in PF1. So you would get good results if you converted a EL=APL encouter but get overtuned results if you converted an APL+3 encounter.
Basically, APL+2 is the new APL+4.
It also works the other way a bit - creatures significantly below your level can still hit you because monster to-hit scales quite fast, but you're also hitting them a lot and also critting them a lot, so it's going to be a fast and furious sort of fight. A level 5 party fighting a metric ton of ghouls is going to get scratched up a bit but is also going to enjoy a power trip, and won't have to worry too much about getting paralyzed. Due to the Incapacitation trait, hordes of low-level critters don't overwhelm PCs.
I'm just into level 7 with my cleric right now, but it's been pretty satisfying.
I do use cantrips quite a lot, and I happen to have True Strike as a spell from my deity so I can get a lot of mileage out of my level 1 slots as well. One of my favorite tricks is True Strike + Charged Bolt, which does an okay amount of damage and can make an enemy easier to hit for the rest of the party. Alternatively, I can do True Strike + Weapon Surge + a longbow shot.
As a caster you have multiple pools to draw from:
So I don't really lack for things to do in combat. My spells can hit fairly hard, and I can target every save. But if I do that all the time, I run out of juice. But it works if you need a hard hit in the beginning of combat to shift the situation to our advantage, and then the fighter and rogue can clean up with all-day violence.
I feel that if I didn't use the take cover action that I would not get any AC boost but because I used an action it is not fair that I lose this as it make it a complete waste of a action in 9/10 cases.
It's not a waste. You've spent one action of yours, to force the enemy to spend one action of theirs. That's one action the ogre isn't using to hit another time.
In fact, when it's multiple characters fighting one monster, trading one action of the players for one of the monster is a very good thing. If you had four players, you together would get 12 actions per round. The ogre would get 3. If you trade one action for one action, your group still has 11 left but the ogre only 2. That's a big profit!
Well the theory behind the 1E APL/EL system was that after about four APL=EL encounters, the party should be running low on resources and seeking to quit for the day.
In practice, almost everything but the theory happened:
* A lot of APs have their story written in a style that suggests everything is urgent, you'll fail if you stop. I've seen parties do nine encounters in a row instead of the theoretical four, both because they could, but also because the story told them they had to.
* There's a common wisdom going around that APs are written with a 15pt party in mind, but that most parties play 20pt buy. I'm not convinced of that, definitely not consistently across all AP books. Quite a few of the Iron Gods books are harder than that. Also, if you use roll 4d6, drop lowest, then statistically you expect to end up with something closer to 18pt buy. I suspect that in later years, AP books get written expecting stronger parties than they did in the first years.
* Four or more encounters in an adventuring day to give the Proper Challenge™ is something a lot of gaming groups found tedious. An encounter takes some time to set up (battle mat, initiative, preparing statblocks) so there's an overhead cost to having a lot of easy encounters.
* In my experience, a lot of gaming groups play a game during weekday evenings and prefer one nice chewy combat, over a bunch of smaller ones. There's OOC time pressure to get something good in every session. On the other hand, it's nicer not to spread a single IC adventuring day over multiple OOC sessions. So you'd sooner have one big high EL encounter per day than those four separate EL=APL ones.
* Then there's power creep. Towards the end of ten years of splatbooks, characters were more powerful than at the beginning. But the monsters from Bestiary 1 didn't get any stronger. So you need to pick higher CR compared to the APL.
* The APL=EL thing is based on a four-player gaming group. If you have more than that, a lot of the mathematical assumptions are strained. But five-player groups are fairly common.
* Player skill also matters. The same players, with the same characters, after a year or two player together will probably be much more efficient at carving up encounters.
* When gamers grow up and they have less time for gaming, there's pressure to cut filler encounters that don't really matter to the story but only exist because this AP book was supposed to take you from level X to Y and you need Z XP for that. Paizo includes notes in their books saying "at this part of the story you should be level X", which has become a popular solution; just ignore the filler encounters, don't track XP, and level people up when it makes sense in the story.
So to summarize that: the math in the old system was almost entirely useless. Few people really used it as it was set up in theory because the theory was dated.
Second edition has a subtly different setup for encounter difficulty. The 3.x idea of "difficulty by attrition through multiple encounters" has been pushed into the background. Difficulty for encounters is done more on a standalone basis: a severe encounter should be severe on its own, not because you've been worn down by previous encounters. All classes have more all-day resources (cantrips, focus spells, rage) and you can recover a lot of health in between encounters. So you can also have much longer adventuring days than before without some classes feeling like they can't do anything fun anymore.
This is very helpful for groups who don't want to hew to some strict rhythm of how many encounters should be in a given IC or OOC session. If you prefer one big fight per game evening, that comes a bit more natural now. If you like tracking XP, you can, but if you don't it's not that necessary either. But you can still use the encounter building guidelines to say "I want a difficult encounter, so I'll pick Severe".
I wouldn't bother trying to use any conversion formulas at all. What I would do is:
* Go through the adventure and look at the encounters. Encounters with EL = APL I will rebuild using 2E rules as Moderate encounters, encounters with EL = APL +2 as Severe encounters, and so on. I look at the page in the beginning of the AP and check when the PCs should be which level, and I make sure that together my encounters are indeed worth enough XP to level them by then.
* Using Table 10-9 from the 2E CRB, put approximately that much loot into each "level" of the AP. When seeking inspiration for what specific items to put in the loot, I look at the original AP. Especially for items that help build the story or feel of the location/creature. But I don't have to follow it religiously.
And that's it. I never have to look up the gold value of any 1E part of the AP. Since my encounters are balanced with 2E monster and encounter difficulties, I don't really need to look at the past, I just need to balance treasure with the current edition.
Charon Onozuka wrote:
I think you need to be very careful here. This sounds the sort of thing where a GM becomes enamored of a "realistic" idea and to the players it's not fun. You say that it's interesting if you can't always use your same optimal routine - I agree. But you can swing too far into the opposite direction - being unable to use your basic build, which cost you most of your choices during character generation, during a typical adventure.
Exploring dark dungeons and skirmishes in the woods at night are pretty core adventure situations. They're not rare or unusual. So dealing with darkness isn't an exotic incident that's a great way of shaking up the status quo, it's kinda the standard thing you do much of the time.
Now consider, if you were the designated torchbearer:
Notice how in particular front-row characters really need both hands for weapons and shields. Let's see about some of the things the party can do:
Have a second-row character carry the torch. Okay, but then the front-row characters can't go too far forward. Feats like Sudden Charge become pretty useless because you're not going to Stride twice, that would put you in the dark. And you can't do fun teamwork stuff like the Light-emitting barbarian going into the dark to put a light source next to the enemy so that the archer can sight them.
You could also drop a torch on the ground and draw weapons. That also sounds more fun to the GM than to the player who has to spend an extra action to draw weapons, and the party that's still on a sort of leash to wherever they dropped the torch.
I don't think banning Light spells makes torches interesting. I think it tells the players "don't play a human barbarian, play a dwarf instead, so that you can play the greataxe build that you wanted when you said you wanted a barbarian".
I think it's more fun to have some hands-free light sources. There's one feature of the Light cantrip that I like in particular: that you can have only one active per caster. So you could put a Light on the barbarian's breastplate so he can go ahead to light up enemies for ranged attacks, but then the rest of the party still needs to figure out a light source that stays with them. And actually, for that, torches might be fine.
I also like wayfinders: hands-free, doesn't depend on a caster, but the spell doesn't Heighten so it could be shut down by a Darkness spell. They're not that different from a lantern that you could wear at your belt actually, which would also fix most of the problems I listed above.
Combing through the AP and trying to figure out where it's higher and where it's lower than regular WBL seems tedious to me.
In Starfinder I've actually done the math and if you add up all the average loot values of all the encounters needed to level up, pretty consistently, it's 50% over the amount you need to keep up with WBL. This is because you're expecting the party to also leak capital in the form of items that become obsolete as the party becomes higher level and a low-level armor is no longer sufficient, and consumables used.
Instead of painstakingly determining the % above or below expectation the 1E AP is, why not just cut to the end: use the tables in PF2 that say how much the party should find each level and just use those. And if you're wondering which items they should be, you can look at the ABP rules and those should give you a good idea what "main" items there are.
Also note that the tables in PF2 are talking about what they should actually get; not potentially get if they pass all the Perception checks.
With the Covid crisis pushing me to play online, I've discovered the joys of dynamic lighting. The difference in ease of use between tabletop light, and VTT light, it's night and day. I find myself evaluating scenarios thinking "what kind of lighting would give the right dramatic effect to this map?" That's something I've never really been able to do on a physical tabletop.
The lesson for me is, any rule for light and dark has to be based on what's actually practical in the medium I'm playing in, not what it looks like in theory for someone alone with a piece of graph paper. So for tabletop, I would actually use different light rules than online.
As a side note on torches: the problem with torches is that free hands are just too precious for that.
I do see some promise in:
- Making it so that by default, creatures with Darkvision suffer concealment problems in bright light.
This does in fact let the characters wield bright light as a weapon, or choose not to because some of their own members also have darkvision.
It won't work. The polymorph rules say:
CRB p. 301 wrote:
Magic Fang is not any of those things, so it can't modify the damage dice of your wild shape.
Yeah I mostly meant, that's a way to keep things interesting if you're aiming for a 6-rounds influence scene.
I feel like 5-6 rounds is about the sweet spot for a major, somewhat predictable-outcome scene. Take too long, and just becomes too much rote. Too short and it's a bit janky.
Longer than that is possible but you need to intersperse multiple intermezzos (see Hellknight's Feast for a good demonstration). Shorter means that the outcome is more random, so that only works if your plot can handle that wildness - you need fail-forward plot options if they crash and burn, and extra content if they steamroll it.
A thing to consider is how much of an idea you give the players of how many rounds they're getting. Especially when you add more strategic options. For example, if the PCs need to absolutely convince the king, but ideally more people. If they know they have a long scene, they can try to build support from the bishop and the chancellor first to help with the king. But if they don't have all that long, they may need to start with the king first to ensure they at least get that if nothing else.
I think telling people when it's about halftime is a good habit shown in PFS/SFS scenarios. They also tend to have you meet with your boss at halftime to discuss strategy and take stock, figure out priorities for the remaining time.
I think in the backend of your influence encounter, you should plug in some of the ideas of the library rules: as you talk more with each NPC, they volunteer new information, and with that new information you might get new topics of discussion and weaknesses to exploit on that, or another, NPC.
For example, when you get enough influence with the high priest, he gives you his unvarnished opinion of the archmage, which gives you some leverage on the archmage (and may make you realize that he's actually a sinister bastard).
Defeating enemies and taking their powerful gear is absolutely intended.
One of the ideas behind giving items a level in Starfinder is to indicate that if you want to just buy (without any dangerous adventuring) an item, you have to wait until that level. But if you actually go out adventuring, you can find some powerful stuff earlier. After all, if the stuff you could buy in the shop was just as good as the stuff you had to do a difficult fight to get, the loot from that fight would be very disappointing.
You should read the whole text of Shot on the Run.
Louis-Philippe Desroches wrote:
You're correct that that one PC will be ahead of the rest - for a while. And they they catch back up.
But don't think of that as a downside. It's a feature. Let me explain by drawing your attention to Table 10-9 on page 509.
This table shows when the party should be finding items of a given level. The table assumes a four-player party. Notice how you consistently find about two items of the next level. So a level 3 party can expect, over the course of level 3, to find two level 4 items. And then when they're level 4, they can expect to find two more level 4 items as well as two level 5 items.
This shows a pattern: you get next-level-items for half the party every level. When you actually reach that level (say, level 4), you should be able to buy those items, but items you find will always be just a little bit ahead of what you can get in the shop. So adventuring feels rewarding.
It also shows that the striking rune isn't the only time someone in the party is going to get a shiny new thing before anyone else. That should happen, basically, once every level, namely, the first next-level item the party finds during a given level.
So when the ranger is looking enviously at the ranger's cool axe, make a note to yourself that when you're assembling the loot for next level, you may want to make sure the first cool item is more a ranger item. Rotate who gets to find the cool shiny.
Other posters are contrasting this with Automatic Bonus Progression. The thing with ABP is that everyone moves in lockstep. You don't get that feeling of having something really powerful (because you got it a level earlier, and before anyone else). I think the standard loot system is pretty good for having those moments where you drool a little over your new item, but it doesn't create a permanent imbalance because the rest will catch up soon enough.
Yeah I would certainly say, none of this sounds uniquely American or Californian.
We make a point of asking people:
There are some people in our lodge who due to work can't commit that far ahead of time. But they accept that if they show up unannounced, there's no guarantee they'll be seated.
Modern day Word copied a lot of stuff from examples set by LaTeX. LaTeX is like other markup languages - the idea is to have a clear separation between content and style. You can change the style rules (for example, submitting a paper to a different journal, that uses a different bibliography style) and it'll get the new look and feel. In a way it's not that different from HTML/CSS.
Another trait of LaTeX is that it's more like "programming" a text than just writing it. You can easily re-use chunks of text. For PF1 I had several folders with the text of feats and spells and I could add a few keywords to a document to assemble a spellbook with full spell texts for that character.
I think you can just say that in the mission briefing then, or whenever the players seem to be making a plan based on the ship coming to them say "you remember now that they told you..."
Let's assume that the missing information is because the author forgot to be sufficiently detailed, not because the Society is intentionally making things harder. That was early-season 1E :P
So in the whole "is spending two of my actions to make an enemy lose their action" discussion, I think what's really important is to consider monsters with 2-action abilities. Which is a LOT of the monsters.
If one character can trade two out of their three actions to make the boss unable to use its two-action cool ability, that's not "expensive", that's a bargain. And one that can suck all of the fun out of fights because monsters can't use their special abilities anymore and have to just resort to samey small actions.
Exactly. Not increasing Multiple Attack Penalty is a special benefit that needs to be explicitly mentioned in an ability that gives you extra attacks, otherwise you don't get it.
The point of Double Slice is using two actions to make two attacks, but without increasing penalty.
The point of Two-Weapon Flurry is to attack twice, but at the cost of only one action. (Which is really useful when you also need actions for other stuff, like raising shields or moving around.)
For reference, the GMG:
page 13 wrote:
When might you need to do that? When someone tries to come up with a really annoying rule-technical trick that grinds the game to a halt as everyone carefully considers cat and mouse action triggers.
That's interesting, I didn't notice that before. Sounds a bit like Dune-style spacer guild.
On the other hand, the Aballon section also talks a lot about "what people think Triune's plan is", indicating that the Church might not have such a clear agenda itself. We don't actually really know all that much about how the Church of Triune is organized, whether it's political, whether there are dissident Triune priests who decide themselves where to put beacons and so forth. And of course, there's the beacons that just pop up without being placed by the Church. Are they Triune doing some of that themselves, are they a deniable activity by a dissident wing of the Church, or is it the work of some other organization that also knows how to make them?
My take on Triune's faith is that it's a bit more like 80s-90s hacker style "information wants to be free" kind of thing, with followers believing everyone has a right to travel the galaxy and communicate freely. Some believe that this technology should be used in a responsible way to create a stable universal order (Lawful Neutral take on the faith) while others focus more on personal liberation (Chaotic Neutral take).
I'm in favor of this change. We've gone over the disadvantages of 7 player tables extensively. But what I think deserves attention is the reasons why now is a good change to finally do this.
This edition is built with a 4P party in mind. PFS2 scenarios are also written with a 4P party in mind. If you split a 6+1 table into two smaller tables with a pregen each, you're not applying an awkward 4P adjustment, you're returning to playing the scenario as originally intended.
Also, there are pregens available are more fine-grained level ranges, and the pregens are more well-rounded and have better stats than in the past. A pregen is not a liability in this edition. And 3 players who pick a pregen that fills a missing niche in their party, can do pretty well.
I'm working on packaging several evergreens that allow any given player at the table to easily step up and run a second table. This is good flexibility to have anyway (what if the regularly scheduled GM can't make it).
Qui Gan Dalf wrote:
Could you be a bit more precise? The only thing I see on that page is
CRB p. 291 wrote:
While Near Space worlds tend to be closer to the galactic center (and, incidentally, to the Pact Worlds) and the systems of the Vast tend to be farther out, the true difference between the regions lies in the density of so-called “Drift beacons.” These mysterious objects, sometimes spontaneously generated and sometimes placed by priests of Triune, help navigation systems orient ships in the Drift.
That doesn't sound like a monopoly at all. It doesn't say "only the Church", it's just that they're well known for it. Drift beacons also seem to pop up spontaneously. And other people could presumably also place them. There isn't a religion requirement for the level 6 spell to make a temporary beacon either.
I don't think I would though. To start with, what is actually the problem that you're trying to solve? Is it an aesthetic one ("dogpiling looks silly") or a game balance one ("it gets too easy")?
Also let's think about reasons not to dogpile
So if dogpiling is happening, something is awry with the reasons not to dogpile. Is everyone Searching? Maybe the other exploration tactics aren't giving the players any good results; there's never anything to find with Detect Magic for example. Or the cost of missing a trap detection are too severe to do anything else, because the GM is using high level traps that hurt a lot?
Searching as an exploration tactic actually does have some limits built in. Succesful searching guarantees that you find something before you step into it. It doesn't guarantee anything about the person in front of you. So only the frontline of the party can Search for traps truly effectively.
It's also got an opportunity cost: a rogue who's Searching isn't getting to use the Surprise Attack ability.
Finally, if the party is saying "we're not moving forward until we've truly searched every inch of this place", and they don't actually have to keep moving, then they should just find the hidden thing. The GMG advises automatic success in such cases, and instead using checks to see just how long it takes to find the hidden thing. (p. 18)