Over the years, I've taught a lot of people RPGs. The one thing they inevitably ask is, "What should I play?" Of course, this is a difficult answer because it's entirely based on important information they don't know enough of yet to form an opinion.
To remedy this, I decided to just make a class anyone can play at 1st level. The catch is: This class ONLY has one level. Once you reach 2nd level, you convert into a 2nd level character using "real" classes from the books. The adventurer is really just a "sampler" class that gives them a taste of how the game works without forcing them to learn all the systems beforehand.
Let me know what you think!
Skill Ranks Per Level
Base Attack Bonus: +0
Fort Save: +1
Weapon and Armor Proficiency
Special: Adventurer's Luck, Minor Magic, Second Wind
... you stumble across the unlocked computer of Lisa Stevens, CEO of the company. You suddenly recall a memo they sent out a while back: "Once Lisa announces it, it's official no matter what." Figuring it's now or never, you seize the opportunity to push your own agenda for Pathfinder.
Using her account to make whatever you say the actual, legitimate direction for the company and the product, what do you announce as Paizo's next book?
"We've got too many classes and we know it. However, people love the systems and mechanics we've put in place, so we don't want to lose those. We need you to cut 10 classes out of Pathfinder by absorbing them into other classes. Keep as much of the flavor and mechanics in place as you can, though!"
Well, theorycrafters and aspiring RPG designers? What 10 Pathfinder classes would you squish into others?
Here's a quick question for all the Pathfinder fans out there:
How long do you think Pathfinder (and Paizo) would stay in business if they stopped publishing "crunchy" rules material (races, classes, feats, spells, etc) and instead focused on "soft" material like expanded settings, modules, and adventure paths?
Like a druid or summoner who gets sentient people as companions instead of animals or monsters. Instead of spells, they get a lot of bard-like buffs that apply to all their allies. A good selection of Charisma-based social skills make them good party faces, too.
Class talents let you spec as either more of a front-line warlord (armor, buffs that trigger on Frits/kills, etc) or a diplomat/tactician, directing groups of followers and using connections and wealth manipulation to get things done while in town.
They were so impressed (or disappointed) by your suggestion of three things to cut out of Pathfinder that Paizo has transferred you to the Department of Plagiarism. Your task: Come up with a list of three game features to outright steal from other games. They could be other RPGs, video games, board games, anything. Maybe it's a dice system to replace d20, a new class, or even a new way to handle hit points. What's your list?
Does anyone know of an app, program, or pen-and-paper ruleset that simulates an automatic GM? I'm not talking about a system that randomly generates a dungeon, I mean a full-fledged simulated AI that can assemble a workable story arc using PC input that generates level-appropriate, engaging encounters that can effectively replace the need for a GM. Anyone heard of anything like that?
Hey gang, I could use your help. I'm trying to redesign Pathfinder's races. My primary goal is to maintain the overall theme of each race, keeping some mechanical benefits, while eliminating attribute bonuses and penalties.
In my opinion, that +2/-2 attribute nonsense is archaic RPG design that needs to go. While intended to showcase the differences between each race, all it really does is make some race/class choices almost mandatory (elf wizard, etc) and others so gimped that they're really only played as joke/gimmick builds (dwarf sorcerer, halfling barbarian, etc).
Okay, maybe you agree with all that, maybe you don't. Whatever. The point here is that I'd like to eliminate attribute bonuses and penalties, as well as alternate favored class bonuses (which only worsen the problem... why play anything but a half-elf summoner?).
So, what would you do to redesign each race that preserves its "feel" while abandoning the clunky old attribute stuff?
Here's one I've been working on. Feedback is very welcome!
Some questions I'd really like to hear answered:
1. Is it balanced? If not, how would you balance it?
Perplexing scholars for ages, there are some rare individuals in the world with the natural ability to change shape at will without the need of arcane magic or divine blessings. As they learn to control their talents, these versatile enigmas can become even more powerful than the creatures they emulate, which is usually accompanied by the increasing fear and distrust of the community they once called home.
Role: The ability to change form at will gives shapeshifters the unique ability to modify their tactics whenever they please, clawing enemies with multiple attacks one round and flying into the sky on the next, only to return as a poisonous snake a round later. Outside of combat, their shapeshifting abilities make them natural infiltrators, able to pass unnoticed wherever they please.
Base Attack Bonus: Medium
Shapeshift (Ex): At 1st level, the shapeshifter learns how to change her form at will, per the beast shape I spell. This is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The shapeshifter loses the ability to speak and cast spells while in animal form because she is limited to the sounds and gestures a normal, untrained animal can make, but she can communicate normally with other animals of the same general grouping as her new form.
At 4th level, this ability functions like the beast shape II spell.
At 7th level, this ability functions like the beast shape III spell.
At 12th level, this ability functions like the beast shape IV spell.
At 20th level, the shapeshifter can assume the form of a fine or gargantuan creature. This ability otherwise functions like Beast Shape IV.
Adaptation (Ex): At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the shapeshifter gains an adaptation from the list below.
Enduring Resolve: The shapeshifter gains 5 temporary hit points whenever she changes into an animal form. These temporary hit points do not stack, though additional shapeshifts can replenish the total amount. At 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, this amount increases by +5. While in her base form, she gains the benefits of the Endurance feat.
Instinctual Maneuver: While in animal form, the shapeshifter gains a +2 bonus on any combat maneuver emulated by an ability of her animal form. This bonus increases by +2 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. While in her base form, she gains the benefits of the Combat Expertise feat.
Instinctual Skill: While in animal form, the shapeshifter gains a +2 bonus on one of the following skills: Acrobatics, Climb, Escape Artist, Fly, Intimidate, Stealth, Survival, or Swim. This skill is set when this adaptation is chosen and cannot change. This bonus increases by +2 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. This adaptation can be selected multiple times, but must be applied to a different skill each time. While in her base form, she gains a +2 competence bonus on all aid another actions and increases the bonus granted when successful by +1 when aiding another with any of these skills.
Keen Senses: While in animal form, the shapeshifter gains a +1 bonus on Perception and Survival skill checks. These bonuses increase by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. While in her base form, the shapeshifter gains the scent special ability.
Maiming Attacks: While in animal form, the shapeshifter causes 1d6 points of bleed damage whenever she scores a critical hit with a primary natural attack. This bonus increases by +1d6 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. While in her base form, she can extend or retract claws as a free action, allowing her unarmed attacks to count as natural weapons and deal lethal damage.
Night Eyes: While in animal form, the shapeshifter always gains low-light vision and darkvision up to 60 feet. The range of her darkvision increases by 15 feet at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. While in her base form, she gains low-light vision.
Nimble Feet: While in animal form, the shapeshifter gains a +5 foot increase to her base speed. This bonus increases by +5 feet at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. While in her base form, she gains the benefit of the Run feat.
Rapid Climber: While in animal form, the shapeshifter gains a +10 foot increase to her climb speed. This adaptation only functions for animal forms that have a base climb speed. This bonus increases by +10 feet at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. While in her base form, she gains a +2 competence bonus on Climb skill checks and can accelerate her climb speed at no penalty.
Savage Attacks: While in animal form, the shapeshifter gains a +1 bonus on all secondary natural attack rolls. This bonus increases by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. While in her base form, she gains the benefits of the Improved Unarmed Strike feat.[/b]
Thick Hide: While in animal form, the shapeshifter gains a +1 bonus to her natural armor. This bonus increases by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. While in her base form, she suffers no harm from being in cold environments.
Untamable Spirit: While in animal form, the shapeshifter gains a +2 bonus on all Will saving throws. This bonus increases by +2 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. While in her base form, she gains the benefits of the Iron Will feat.
Wide Fins: While in animal form, the shapeshifter gains a +10 foot increase to her swim speed. This adaptation only functions for animal forms that have a base swim speed. This bonus increases by +10 feet at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. While in her base form, she gains the ability to breathe normally underwater.
Faceshift (Ex): At 2nd level, the shapeshifter can make a Disguise skill checks as a standard action and gains a +1 competence bonus per odd shapeshifter level. This ability only functions while the shapeshifter is her base form.
Beast Speech (Ex): At 3rd level, the shapeshifter can communicate normally, but not cast spells, while shapeshifted.
Moving Shapeshift (Ex): At 7th level, the shapeshifter can shapeshift as part of a move action.
Swift Shapeshift (Ex): At 13th level, the shapeshifter can shapeshift as a swift action.
Immediate Shapeshift (Ex): At 20th level, the shapeshifter can shapeshift as an immediate action.
What if, instead of slowly chipping away at enemies' hit points, you had to succeed at one or more maneuvers or apply certain status effects to defeat monsters? Maybe a goblin only requires one success. Disarm or trip a goblin and he's out. An ogre might require several effects, and a dragon would require quite a few.
Now we change some other stuff, mainly spells. Instead of doing XdX damage, a spell might apply the "ignite" effect, while a cold spell would "chill" or whatever. Keep stuff like shaken, panicked, sickened, etc, to round out the system.
Each round, you (or a monster) can try to end effects on you. If you got tripped, you get back up. Ignited? Put yourself out. Staggered? Attempt another Will save. Whatever.
I really like the idea of the magus, but spell combat two-weapon fighting/casting is just too clunky for my tastes. In an effort to simplify the class, as well as open up one of my favorite fantasy gaming images (the cloth-wearing guy with a greatsword), I made this: The Fury magus.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A fury is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, but not with any armor or shields. Armor interferes with a fury’s movements, which can cause spells with somatic components to fail.
A fury has the following class features.
Spell Preparation (Ex)
This ability replaces spellstrike.
At 8th level, the fury can break through the magical defenses of almost any creature through sheer force of will and strength of arms. As a standard action, he can make one attack with a two-handed weapon at his highest attack bonus, bypassing all forms of damage reduction. If the fury hits with this attack, he can spend 1 point from his arcane pool to disable the target’s damage reduction for 1 round.
At 14th level, when the fury uses his arcane pool to enhance a two-handed weapon, he increases both the critical range and damage multiplier of the weapon by 1.
At 20th level, the fury no longer needs to spend points from his arcane pool to enhance any two-handed weapon he wields, and he may enhance such weapons as part of the immediate action taken to activate his spell preparation ability. If the fury has the Quick Draw feat, he may also draw a two-handed weapon as part of this action.
This ability replaces spell combat, improved spell combat, greater spell combat, and true magus.
After many years on these forums, reading post after post of people struggling to find the right set of house and/or optional rules for running their games, I thought I'd take a moment to share my group's setup, which has been very successful for us. Using these guidelines, our extended campaign has been going strong for almost three years. Here's how it works:
This system has worked marvelously for managing an ongoing campaign over the years, especially one with a rotating roster of players. We're all adults, so no one is expected to run or attend every single game session, and these rules make it super easy to accommodate our varying schedules. Over the years, we've lost some players and added many others, and the transition has always gone smoothly.
I hope this helps anyone struggling to get or keep their game going! Cheers!
So here's a funny idea: An antipaladin archetype that required the character to be lawful good. A "good guy" who uses darkness, trickery, and otherwise underhanded tactics to further the cause of justice... kind of sounds familiar, doesn't it? (Batman, Spawn, Hellboy, etc)
Notice how the archetype keeps all the evil-sounding powers, just forces you to figure out how to use them while acting lawful good. Let me know what you guys think.
Even the lowest of the fallen paladins can seek redemption, but their path is a long and difficult one. Though they retain most of their unholy abilities, they must be careful to only use them in the pursuit of good, an arduous and delicate task at best.
Alignment: A penitent must be of lawful good alignment.
A penitent has the following class features.
Code of Conduct
Moral Compass (Sp)
This ability replaces detect good.
At 11th level, whenever the penitent successfully uses this ability, he may also attempt an Intimidate check to demoralize all enemies within 30 feet. He receives a +5 bonus on Diplomacy checks made using this ability against demoralized foes at any point during the next 24 hours.
This ability replaces smite good and aura of vengeance.
This ability replaces unholy champion.
Just out of curiosity, what is the equivalency between a gestalt character and a single level character? For example is a 2/2 gestalt roughly equal to a 3rd level character? 4th level? 5th?
It might be a matter of opinion, but there might also be some math behind it. I'd like to know what people think.
Has anyone ever run a game where the players only had access to the NPC classes (adept, aristocrat, commoner, expert, and warrior)? If so, what was your experience like? Obviously, something like this would be best for a low-power game; what other rules did you use? Character creation and starting wealth? What kinds of challenges did the players have, aside from simply not having all the fun class powers we've come to rely on from the "real" classes? Did anything actually turn out to be much more fun than you expected? I'd love to hear from someone who actually ran or participated in a game like this.
Here's something I've noticed quite a few times on these forums, especially when discussing touchy issues like class balance, power gaming, martial/caster disparity, and theory-craft builds: Some people try to prove their points by using the worst possible examples, hyperbolic situations carefully engineered to support their opinions.
For example, some people try to prove that class A is better than class B by showing sample builds from each where class A is perfectly optimized and class B is not.
Another example that really bothers me, from the rogue vs. wizard debate, is how wizards can supposedly replace rogues because they have spells that accomplish most of the iconic thief skills. This requires a wizard to:
Naturally, this makes a lot of assumptions about the wizard's build, the adventure situation, and how accommodating the DM is. It also assumes the rogue is a bumbling moron who has not bolstered his skills with his own magical advantages.
Now, I'm not trying to open up new debates on either of these topics, just saying that, from now on, whenever I hear someone try to prove a point using an absurd, hyperbolic, unequal example comparing two design features, I'm going to refer to this thread and call it a Straw Golem Argument. Linking back to this thread is going to be a much easier way of expressing this point than having to write all this down again and again. :)
So I started a little project recently making what I call "patch" archetypes for each class. The idea here is that there's at least some minor (and often major) complaint about each class, and these archetypes would attempt to address that core issue by replacing it with different abilities.
Just to give you a taste of what I'm trying to do, here's one of the first ones I did:
Summoner - "Rifter"
I'm not really looking for critique on this archetype just yet, though. What I'd love to hear from the Pathfinder community is what they think the single, biggest problem is with the other classes. If you'd like to chime in, please try to keep it brief (there are a lot of classes!). For example, a valid complaint would be that fighters really don't have anything to do outside of combat, which is an issue I'm already attempting to address in that class' patch archetype.
So, what's the single, biggest issue with the other classes, in your opinions?
Here's a quick question for all of you theory-crafters out there.
Imagine Pathfinder had only one class. Let's call it "hero." The hero class has these basic features:
So my question is: Given access to only the hero class, do you think most players would build their characters in almost the exact same way, in terms of feats, traits, race, etc, or do you think they would still naturally gravitate toward the classic fantasy RPG roles and maintain diversity among their companions?
So I've been thinking a lot about how overpowered archery is in Pathfinder and how to address it without a basic damage nerf. Here's my idea:
Though this system would require a lot of little changes to some feats, class abilities, and weapons, the simplest change is this: Composite bows require standard actions to fire.
So now you have a choice between doing one high damage attack each round or shooting tons of individual arrows with no damage bonus. If we built this system up, feats like Deadly Aim would only function for power archery (composite bows), while stuff like Rapid Shot and Multishot would only work for speed archery (normal bows). Of course, these feats would apply normally to all other ranged weapons; this system is only meant to affect archery.
In this system, I'd also introduce new feats that further boosted the base damage of power archery, maybe even increasing the base damage of a composite longbow to 2d6 around 6th level.
Hopefully the end effect is that Strength-based characters like fighters, paladins, barbarians, etc, would naturally prefer power archery, while Dexterity-based characters would stick to normal bows and focus on shooting as many arrows as possible.
Here's a house rule I'm thinking of implementing: Remove initiative as a separate statistic. Instead, combatants start each battle by rolling a Reflex save, which becomes their initiative score. All of the class abilities, feats, and traits that normally add to initiative add to Reflex saves for determining combat order.
The reasons for this are:
1) I'm generally in favor of anything that streamlines or simplifies an RPG system. In many ways, initiative is redundant, being that it's really just a Dex check.
2) Classes with low Reflex saves are usually very powerful already (full casters or hybrid divine/martials). Classes with high Reflex saves are commonly thought of as underpowered (rogues, swashbucklers, monks, etc). So if this system buffs the latter category, it's a net win for balancing the system.
3) Reflex is pretty much agreed to be the weakest saving throw out of all three. Will is the most important because of mind-control nonsense and Fort covers a lot of save-or-die/suck effects. So any system that brings Reflex up to being just as important as the other saves is a good thing.
Any thoughts on this before I get started playtesting it?
TL;DR: I'm going to use Reflex saves instead of initiative, with all the usual modifiers applying normally.
From your personal experiences playing and/or running Pathfinder games, what are some things you've seen people doing blatantly wrong in terms of rules? I'm not talking about problematic attitudes, boring plots, or awkward house rules here, just people unintentionally messing up the actual rules of the game.
Another title for this thread could be: "What are some often overlooked or misunderstood Pathfinder rules?"
For me, it would be all the very popular spells that have a casting time of 1 round that are often allowed to be cast as a standard action because nobody remembers their actual casting times.
Another common mistake is that the Diplomacy skill is not an unlimited charm person spell, no matter how high your bonus is.
Also, in the ongoing debate about how arcane spellcasters can easily duplicate lots of traditional rogue skills, people always forget that stuff like knock and disguise self still require skill checks, they're not instant success win buttons.
From your own experience, either as a DM or a player, what was the best single battle you've ever experienced in Pathfinder? Which one was the most fun while still being a tactical challenge? What other aspects of the battle contributed to it being so memorable? I'm interested in hearing about well-designed fights, not just ones where the players tried something crazy or the dice resulted in highly improbably outcomes.
In other words: What single Pathfinder combat encounter made you reflect on it and say, "Wow, that was a really well-designed fight!"
I've noticed that low level adventures, even official Pathfinder material, often give enemies really high damage and/or high critical multiplier weapons, consolidating their damage output into heartbreaking alpha strikes instead of spreading it out into something more managable, something a team can react to.
There's no reason a common thug in a tier 1-2 adventure should be using a x4 crit weapon. All that's going to do is insta-kill some unlucky player. Why not design low level enemies to use more forgiving (but still believable) tactics? Instead of singe, huge attacks, use more numerous, lower damage attacks (two weapon fighting, shield bash, natural attacks, etc). How about more combat maneuvers that spice things up instead of just trying to exterminate single-digit characters as fast as possible. Debuff spells instead of save-or-die, more mooks instead of single monsters with DR, and multiple skill challenges instead of death traps.
Just some thoughts. Anyone agree or disagree strongly?
Is it just me, or does it seem like one of the big design goals of Pathfinder is to convert as many classes as possible to work on some kind of points-per-day system? Back in original D&D, only spellcasters had to worry about running out of their "stuff" during the course of an adventure, but now it seems like every class has some cornerstone ability that essentially says: "You can perform your class' iconic, most effective, and role-defining power X times per day. Use them wisely..."
Maybe I'm alone in this, but to me, this feels a lot like lazy game design. "Wow, this ability is really effective. Should we do another balance pass on it? Nah, just make it only usable a few times per day and it's fine." This sort of thing gives me the CRPG "super potion paralysis" where you finish a game like Skyrim or Final Fantasy with an inventory packed with super potions because you're terrified of using them unwisely.
Surely there's a better way to handle this sort of thing. Hell, they already did a great job of it with the witch's hexes; why not apply the same philosophy (or at least effort) into designing the other classes? I know, I know, even mentioning 4th Edition D&D is going to enrage Pathfinder purists, but you have to admit: "encounter" powers were quite liberating. Why not design more abilities that work like toggles or triggers based on other events? There has to be a better way. There's no reason my swashbuckler should hold back during a fight because he's worried about saving points for the next one. Why are brawlers crafty, resourceful combatants... a few times a day? If a druid's shapeshifting power lasts for hours at a time anyway, why limit it to only so many uses per day? I'd love it if each of these abilities sacrificed a little raw power for the ability to use them at will, or if each was saddled with some kind of drawback that made each one a tactical choice, not a gas tank.
Sorry for the rant. I just had to mention this because it's driving me nuts to have to constantly worry about how much "fun ability ammo" every one of my characters has.
Here's something an old wizard said in another thread in regard to all the unwritten rules that actually hold an RPG game/group together. While another person hinted that his group maintained balance between martial and caster power levels through meta-gaming, Lemmy really got me thinking with the following line:
Or we could wake up and insist on a rulebook that has everything people need in it to actually play. In other words, rules that actually reflect all these agreements we've evolved over the last 35 years.
Obviously, the core rulebooks cover some of this stuff, but it's always very general "golden rule" kind of advice. "Don't be a jerk" and "Rule 0" stuff that comes off a lot like the old "keep trying" advice you got when you were young that really didn't help. So my question to everyone is: What sorts of things would you like to see in such a supplement? I'm talking about very specific tactics, rules, and guidelines that help you turn a handful of newbies -friends or strangers- into a thriving gaming group and keep it running smoothly for years. Share your wisdom with us, veterans!
Here's a piece of advice that's going to sound counter-intuitive, foolish, or perhaps even offensive to some of you: Stop trying to win. You'll enjoy Pathfinder (and all RPGs) much more, I promise you. Here we go.
Stop building your characters for optimal performance and stop playing them like chess pieces. I'm not suggesting doing stupid things or making absurdly broken characters, but rather just making ones that sound interesting based on their backgrounds, motivations, and imagery instead of just their statistics. I'm also not telling you to be a hardcore role-player either, prancing around the room like you're auditioning for the Renaissance Festival. You don't have to be an aspiring thespian to come up with a fun idea for an interesting character.
In other words: Stop making characters that are built to win. Start making characters that you and everyone else at the table will enjoy interacting with. That should be your goal during character creation. "Will this character be fun to have around, be a source of interesting situations, and flexible enough to be part of just about any kind of story?"
Give it a shot for your next game. I promise you won't be disappointed. In fact, I promise you right now that the stories you come up with during that game will stick with you much longer than the exploits of "Minmax the Destroyer" or whatever your last catfolk gestalt magus/slayer's name was.
Over the years, I've had the chance to take part in some really great games run by amazing Dungeon Masters. These guys and gals really knew how to run the game, engage players, weave an exciting story, and setup a dynamic battle. Needless to say, outlining everything these talented DMs did right would take pages and pages of documentation.
Here's one short anecdote: I had a DM once who enhanced his games by simply always remembering to determine what the weather was. It didn't matter if he was rolling it randomly, making it up on the fly, or reading it right out of the module text - we always knew if it was sunny, raining, hot, calm, stormy, whatever. It didn't even matter if it had effects on the game or not (obscuring vision, slowing movement, etc).
It's such a simple thing, yet it always got the players into character and helped set every scene. I never once thought we were all just miniatures on a white grid - we were daring adventurers trying to fend off rabid wolves during a thunderstorm!
So, for this thread, I'd love to hear what other little things good DMs do to take their games to the next level. Maybe the rest of us can incorporate these little tricks into our games to become better DMs ourselves!
How do you handle player character death in your games? Of course, a lot of games probably do it by the book, but based on my personal experiences (outside of PFS), I get the feeling a lot of DMs out there have house rules for handling death.
Here's the one I use: When a character takes enough damage to reduce them below their negative Constitution score, regardless of how much damage was done, there is always a one round grace period during which they can be saved by some form of healing. It's worked out really well so far.
It's not too lenient; characters still occasionally die in my games, but when this situation comes up, there's a really dramatic round of combat where everyone is like "Oh, crap, he's about to die! Quick, on your turn, throw me a healing potion, I'll tumble through these orcs and give it to the wizard, and if the ranger holds his action and kills that orc right there, the wizard can 5' step and feed our buddy the potion before he dies. All right, go!"
If you guys have clever, fun, and fair house rules regarding character death, let's hear them!
Here's an idea we were kicking around in another thread. I'm open to suggestions on how to improve it, so comments are welcome.
If you are not proficient with the shield, blocking requires a readied action instead of an immediate action. You may not use a shield to bash and block in the same round.
Buckler: May be used to block one melee attack per round. Cannot be used to block ranged attacks.
Small Shield: May be used to block one melee or ranged attack per round.
Large Shield: May be used to block two melee or ranged attacks per round.
Tower Shield: May be used to block three melee or ranged attacks per round.
Shield Focus: The number of block attempts you may make per round increases by 1.
Shield Specialization: You receive a +2 bonus on all block rolls with the chosen shield type.
Saving Shield: You may attempt the block action to prevent an attack against an adjacent ally.
Ray Shield: You may attempt the block action against ranged touch attacks.
Mounted Shield: You may attempt the block action to prevent an attack against your mount.
Missile Shield: You receive a +2 bonus on block rolls against ranged attacks.
Covering Shield: You receive a +2 bonus on reflex saves against area of effect attacks.
Wouldn't it be cool if Paizo released a whole book of iconic, pre-made characters? I'm thinking at least two or three new builds for each class, all of which would need to be Pathfinder Society legal. For example, a caster/healer cleric, a front-line melee type, and maybe even a necromancer variant.
What got me thinking about this is the current pre-made fighter iconic option, which for some reason is based on a needlessly complicated, underpowered two-weapon build. Three times now I've been in a situation where I needed to introduce a completely new player to the game, and naturally the player wanted to start simple. "I'll just play a fighter." Except now I have to spend fifteen extra minutes explaining off-hand weapons, full attacks, and the stats for two different swords. After all of that, the player then spends the rest of the night stuck with an underwhelming character build that can't keep up in combat and has nothing to do outside of combat.
I don't know about you guys, but the games I'm in are pretty much all humans, elves, and half-orcs. The other races, especially the small/slow ones just can't keep up (ha!) with the big three as a fit for most classes. Now, obviously, if you're only concern is role-playing, you can stop reading right here. However, some of us would like to see the core races balanced out in terms of power, versatility, and overall effectiveness.
So, here's my challenge: What would you change or add to the dwarf, gnome, and halfling to make them more appealing, appropriate, and effective for any class?
With the release of the Advanced Class Guide, Pathfinder has again increased its available options. While I was initially somewhat disappointed by the redundancy, I've since refocused myself on figuring out what's left.
In other words: When you think of high fantasy literature, film, or folklore, there are certain archetypes that come to mind. Conan the barbarian, Merlin the wizard, Aragorn the ranger, etc. While Pathfinder covers most of these bases with its class selection, there are undoubtedly some classic tropes that remain unexplored.
I would personally love to see an official take on the tinker, the steam and clockwork engineer that's a staple in several fantasy worlds. Which classes do you think Pathfinder should release to fill in the rest of the gaps?
What if we, the players and DMs, are responsible for some of the balance and general design issues we're constantly pointing out in Pathfinder? Let me walk you through a timeline of the last few games in which I've played.
1. Minimal Exposition - No player input whatsoever, just some NPC telling us what the adventure is going to be about.
2. Perception Checks - We walk around town or travel somewhere, and the only skill ever called for is perception. Whoever rolls highest gets their name attached at the beginning of "___ notices [plot point]."
3. Vanilla Battle - A long, drawn-out grid battle against a bunch of statistically identical enemies. 12 orcs with greataxes. 10 town guards with longswords. 6 wolves. It's really just a two-hour-long tennis match of BAB vs AC.
4. Perception Checks - (see above)
5. "Boss" Battle - Instead of an interesting, dramatic, dynamic boss fight, we instead get another vanilla battle (see above), except there's one extra bad guy with 10x the normal hit points.
How many adventures have you been on that follow that template, more or less? I think we've all been there at some point. By the complaints I read in these forums, it sounds like some players rarely get to experience anything beyond that. So let's package that up and call it the "Minimum Vanilla Adventure". Can you see how, in an MVA, a lot of the Pathfinder rules go unused?
My point here is that I think a lot of us either ignore or simply aren't proficient enough with the whole game system to really use all it has to offer. Think about all the combat maneuvers that rarely get used, the rules for weather, settlements, and light levels. If your DM thinks stuff like that slows down the game, what he's really doing is altering the balance to favor some playstyles and trivialize others. A DM who never bothers with traps is really saying "I'm making the decision to devalue rogues." It would be just like playing in a campaign where almost every monster the party fought was a golem immune to magic - why would you ever play an offensive spellcaster in a game like that?
I think that the game was designed so that every rule was important. Leaving stuff out to streamline combat really just makes it blander. Glossing over stuff like encumbrance and resource tracking might save you a few minutes here and there, but it also makes players focus more on combat, since they don't have to worry about anything else anymore. Static NPCs with no wiggle room in their behavior really turns off social players who want to bluff, diplomacy, and intimidate their way through non-combat encounters. If we put more effort into using all the rules, maybe the game would seem more balanced.
So just about everyone agrees that the Leadership feat is way too powerful. Most home games and even the Pathfinder Society ban it. So I was thinking... what if it was broken down into smaller pieces and divided up into three branches?
Here are nine feats to replace the current incarnation of Leadership. The first three give a character the ability to help his team out without having to add a bunch of NPCs to the group. The next three break the cohort chain into three parts; you can take some or all of them, with the net result being that a full cohort costs four total feats. Finally, there are three feats to handle an ascending amount (and effectiveness) of followers.
Okay, here's my challenge to the Pathfinder community:
Using the least amount of new rules possible, what would you change about the existing classes to fix them? Keep in mind, "fixing" could mean nerfing, buffing, or altering a class's focus. Optimally, such modifications would be cut-and-paste features from other classes, if only to reduce the potential for strange interactions with other parts of the game. For example, here's my idea on how to fix rogues.
Ambush: For purposes of sneak attacks, the rogue's base attack bonus from rogue levels is equal to his rogue level. For all other purposes, such as qualifying for a feat or a prestige class, the rogue uses his normal base attack bonus.
Canny Defense: When wearing light or no armor and not using a shield, a rogue adds 1 point of Intelligence bonus (if any) per rogue class level as a dodge bonus to his Armor Class while wielding a melee weapon. If a rogue is caught flat-footed or otherwise denied his Dexterity bonus, he also loses this bonus.
There, two little additions that I think would go a long way toward making the rogue class more attractive. Most of the complaints we see have to do with the fact that rogues, while skilled out of combat, are way behind the curve on the battlefield due to their medium base attack bonus and low armor class. So, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, we've simply brought over effective mechanics from the monk and duelist to fill those gaps.
Anyone want to give this a shot for the other classes?
I'd like to get some opinions on a system I'm thinking of implementing. At first glance, you might read through this and say "Get your WoW out of my Pathfinder!" but humor me, please. The goal of this system isn't to turn tabletop RPS into video games; it's to create a simple system that encourages and rewards teamwork while simultaneously making it easier for DMs to run basic encounters.
Here we go:
Aggression Mechanics (v1.0)
These modifications to the Pathfinder rules introduce a quick and easy method of tracking aggression in your game in such a way as to make encounters more dynamic, interesting, and fun.
On its turn, a marked enemy may attempt a Will save, DC 10 + the average level of the party. If successful, it may attack whomever it wishes. If unsuccessful, it must attempt to attack or approach the player whose mark it currently bears.
If the enemy doesn't have enough movement or any attacks within range of the player whose mark it currently has, it may attack whomever it wishes.
New Skill Applications
Bluff - "Misdirect"
Diplomacy - "Soothe"
Intimidate - "Challenge"
You guys are going to try to burn me at the stake for this, but there's actually one (and only one) thing I think 4th Edition did better than Pathfinder: Skills.
I find that Pathfinder (and 3.0x in general) has a lot of redundant skills. Pathfinder is an improvement over 3.0 and 3.5, but some of the awkwardness remains.
For example, do we really need Knowledge (Geography), Knowledge (Nature), and Survival? I know there are minor differences between them, but aren't they close enough that we could have just one skill called "Nature" like 4th Edition does?
The same goes for Knowledge (Arcana) and Spellcraft. Thematically, what are you doing with one that isn't covered by the other? Maybe divine spells? Seems like if that's the only difference, you could just have one skill that covers all the knowledge and all the spellcraft of each, like 4th Edition does.
Another thing I loved was the combining of climb and swim into "Athletics." That freed up a lot of points for martial classes to actually invest in other skills instead of having to waste them all on the skills needed to haul their heavy armor around.
Whittling down the thief skills into just one called "Thievery" was a good move, too, since Stealth was left separate (for rangers and other stealthy classes). Rogues got the same freedom as the martial guys: the ability to explore other skills without neglecting something that's basically mandatory for their class.
I also really liked the skills they added, like Endurance and Streetwise. Knowledge (Local) is horribly misnamed for what it's supposed to do, which is also strange because what it's supposed to do is largely covered by gathering information using Diplomacy.
Anyway, 99% of Pathfinder is great, but the skill system still bugs me.
How would you go about optimizing an entire party of adventurers?
Let's assume you have four characters to work with. What races and classes do you pick? What builds do you use for each? How do you equip them?
I'm not looking for exact mathematics here, so I'm going to set the level, gold available, point buys, or anything. All Paizo material is valid.
How do you optimize a party of four characters so that they have the best chances for success on any adventure, considering both the battles and the non-combat scenarios?
For all the DMs out there who write their own material, how do you design and run your boss fights?
While I often lament how RPGs have suffered since the development of the MMO, there's one thing RPGs could learn from video games: how to craft an exciting, dynamic boss fight.
So what are some clever tricks you guys have used before?
Why is it so hard for people to admit they're power gamers? It's not a dirty word.
Some people are into gaming for the role-playing and some people are in it for the battles, tinkering with the rules to optimize their chances of success. That's perfectly fine.
So why is it that some people will bend over backwards to convince you that their crazy alternate race, 3rd party class, four archetype, min-maxed character with three 18s and three 7s for attributes was built that way for role-playing purposes?
Guys, it's okay. Power gaming is part of the game. We accept you for who you are; there's no reason to lie to us.