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Well, if we're dabbling in necromancy; I have no idea how this thread seemed to completely miss that if the DM (via random loot or hand-picking loot) gave magical scale mail, it may well be the best thing the party has => While not the most optimal, it's better than selling it for half price and buying something less good; at least until later.

This is before you even get to the argument about the availability of different armors of the same enchantment and whatnot or find people (who happen to be able to pay off a small army) who want to buy your hunk of armor so badly that they'd rather do that than retire 30 years early.

As the DM, I had a creature use (successfully anyway) the first* Fear effect I've ever run. Additionally, another player suffered confusion (though it was only for 1 round, so they didn't have a noticeable issue with it.)

*(There have been others but the saves always passed.)

The player whose guy ran away was fairly frustrated by it and I fully understand the frustration; but I am not sure if there's any good way to do fear. I've seen the revised 3.5 options but I'm not sure just having -X penalties is interesting enough.

On the one hand, I fully understand losing agency and I've really thought through if there's any way to narrate it such that the player would *choose* to run away. On the other hand, this *is* the point of will-save abilities a lot of the time -> Crowd control the players.

The same player has been put to sleep before (a few times) but that has a means to escape it (such as shaking the player awake.)

I foresee using more Fear/Paralyze effects on occasion and while he was a good sport and is quite interested in Iron Will and maybe another feat to get around it; I still feel like this is one of those things that *someone* in the community has solved (and yet I can't find any StackExchange, Paizo, or AngryGM threads on the topic.)

TL,DR - Do your players get used to it? Do you simply allow them saves each turn so they at least *can* come back?

EDIT: I goofed. I thought "pawns" was another word for models. I'd mention that a similar product could be card-boxes, but I think I no longer have relevant points to make. I've taken your survey anyway.

Also note, this could be on purpose but, the "Are you interested in purchasing a box like this?" only has "Yes" options.
While I don't wish to discourage you if you truly want to produce this; there are a great many of products that exist in this realm; as my single amazon search shows.

Why do I mention this? Well, aside from understanding you have a lot of competition in this realm already, it's worth looking at their products since they are already market-tested. The evolution that occurs when people market products naturally trims out the weaker product lines; so seeing what survived and then seeing if you can improve upon it is a good strategy.

Personally when I need to move/store them I tend to cut up foam and tightly fit things into plastic bins. When I have them around the house I have them on shelves for easy access when not in storage.

Make this two different rules:

Regeneration: <Fluff> Mithral/Silver (and I guess fire if you really want it.) Only the Werewolf form benefits from this regeneration.

Transform on Death: If a werewolf would die while in Werewolf form instead its hp becomes -1, it is dying, and it transforms into its human form.

The reason you do this is you use a Keyword rule that takes no special wording to work exactly as intended, then you modify it with a second rule that is extremely easy to understand and takes no special language.

That all said, if you don't show your players the exact text I wouldn't worry as much about rules-lawyering it to perfection

blahpers wrote:
If I found out that my GM specifically removed half the giants in an AP because he felt my choice of favored enemy was overpowered, I'd find a new GM.

I guess in (I assume published) AP, I can agree. If, instead, their campaign is going to be a boring one because the giant encounters are made trivial/pointless.. it's definitely time to change most of those encounters. Leave some so that the choice is valid and shines; but remove a good chunk because both the GM and the players will get bored of BBQPWNing everything. It's literally the GM's job to balance things.

If you counter this with "Well just raise the giant to a higher CR!" I can.. sort of see that? But then you're still just countering what the player chose. I get that they want to PWN some giants, so feed them a giant here and there, but don't have 75% Giant encounters.

Aside from that, crafting some situations where character flaws are present is good GMing. You're not taking away their agency, you're presenting them with challenges to overcome -> aka the entire point of a game.

Choices make a game interesting. If you only present encounters that are "I charge forward and insta-gib the opponent GRAH!!" then you're trivializing the game (at least the combat portion) to the point that no one should care if they play it or not; it's literally just one obvious choice that any 6-year-old can/will make and would succeed in equal measure in.

If some of your enemies now have readied 10ft grabs, or they dig a trench you have to jump, or they have hidden pit-traps, or they shoot from high walls/cliffs, your players are being presented with interesting situations that forces them to make choices; possibly difficult choices like "Should I remove the horses' armor to make that jump?" or "How do I get my zoggin' horse out of the pit?" or "Dang, we really should be at least carrying a bow or smoke bomb or something for those dang ranged guys."

Probably 15-20 rounds or so a couple campaigns ago. It was just a Summoning ooze against level.. 3(?) players, perched on a ledge. Between failing climb checks, figuring out what was going on (they couldn't see it, just flashes of light and skeletons appearing), fighting the skeletons, and the ooze Fast-Healing they eventually got it and then it got back up (hilariously.) They pounded that body into nothing after it knocked out that time.

I too am happy to "call it" in the player's favor if the choices remaining and the affects of it are going to be unnoticable. If someone, however, is going to spend spells/rage/abilities, take ability damage, or they'll be coming back through the area I'll probably play it out.

A recent one was some Darkmantles and they lack Darkvision; between them casting sleep but also being utterly unable to hit the darkmantles very well (50% miss) they finally ran off. Every time since then they just try and sleep Darkmantles and scurry through to avoid them; not because they're scary, but because they are obnoxious.

That encounter may have lasted like 10+ rounds before they ran off. I think the players took like 3 damage (they DMs missed their grapples and attacks) and the players may have dealt like.. 12-15 damage

This is precisely why I am currently running a campaign in wilderness/small towns.

My players can occasionally craft a bit, but otherwise are largely getting items I've fed to them; which makes them actually think the items are really awesome. A Belt of Giant's Strength +2 was an amazing thing to get, rather than a thing that (most of this forum) says you should expect.

This is all to say, items not feeling cool or special is entirely up to the GM; not just in adding flair to an item; but how you structure your players access to things and how to flavor the world.

Probably 70% of creatures (or more?) that I run have at least some modification compared to their original stat-block/abilities/etc.; and many have size changes, subtype changes, feat-chains that have been swapped, or synergies with how I want them to play

Often an un-edited creature has useless feats or are just regular beatsticks; but I want each creature to feel unique enough that players go "Ah s%&!, not these things again." Look at the Red Dragons for instance; they have like 7 attacks base; but also have a full feat-chain for vital strike; all of this on a creature that would rather fly around using a breath-weapon and spells. Not on my watch :p

Even stock creatures I choose tend to be of the annoying variety; a good example being Darkmantles for low-levels.

I think if you really want a raw answer, the closest you'll get is:

Although invisibility provides total concealment, sighted opponents may still make Perception checks to notice the location of an invisible character.

which is logically equivalent to saying "Sighted opponents may only make Perception Checks against total concealment when who they are perceiving is invisible."

I understand if that's not acceptable to you because it's not spelled out and it's in an unintuitive section but:
A) It is RAW.
B) While the rules aren't written very well or intuitively, that doesn't negate 'A'
C) It's not our job to convince you that true things are true

Gray Warden wrote:

Things GMs think mounted-chargers fear:

- dragons
- abominations
- evil necromancers
- windmills

Things mounted-chargers actually fear:
- big rocks
- overgrown bushes
- narrow corridors
- small rooms
- corners

- Stairs

- Ladders
- Pit-traps in the middle of the road
- Readied attacks with Bracing weapons
- Rickity bridges
- Grease and other slicks

- Dudes in the way of the real enemy; such as CR1/2 mooks in the way of a CRX caster
- Readied Move Actions
- Creatures with 10ft+ reach and Grab. "Ooooo, sorry bout that. You don't get that charge attack because you are now in a grapple."

I actually have a race who always carries spears and work as a group if they fight; forming a phalanx of little guys to protect their musicians/standard-bearers, slowly advancing with readied attacks, and getting an AoO if you don't have reach weapons. A cavalry person walking into 6 attacks, 3 of them being double damage, is quite the potential for bad times. So:

Readied Attack actions, especially those with Brace and Reach, and especially if multiple enemies are holding them next to eachother defensively.

First, let's consider some Dark Souls bosses that have easy outs:
* Undead Chariot in DS2 becomes much easier with a certain lever that gets pulled
* Abyssal Demon tells you to plummet-attack it for most of its HP
* Taurus Demon gets much easier if you remember to plummet-attack from the previous encounter, and look at your surroundings so you're not being shot at the whole time. They even hint at plummeting with the Archers that you naturally want to kill to make it easier.
* etc..

Consider looking for environment kills that you could Bull Rush the opponent into or otherwise interact with:
* Pits, Lava, Acid, etc
* Giant grinding gears
* Pillars that could be broken to bring a stone ceiling crashing down
* etc.

Consider that the boss may be entirely avoidable, like dozens of the DS bosses. If it's optional, the DM is simply daring you to kill yourself. Just like DS, if you do something stupid, it's your fault.

If it's really a straight up fight, the drow's biggest weakness seems to be Grappling. Silence will help, but grappling should basically neutralize him extremely easily; as his CMD is comparable to CR5

NOTE: to do this you'll probably still need to silence him.

You could even go nuts and have others readied-action-grapple if he escapes yours, giving you guys 3-4 rolls to grapple each turn against his 1 roll to escape. As soon as he fails to escape and you guys feel safe, have 1-2 members (the grappler and someone else) start hitting him for damage, poisoning him, or otherwise finishing the fight.

if he does have an unholy symbol, use Steal to grab it away (if it can be. The DM may require you to ask if it's held on or something and allow you to screw yourself.)

Given the multiple-death thing, I'm guessing he's expecting you to die a couple times trying to figure out the fight. But now you have an idea of a couple routes you could go.

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Aronbar wrote:
If my DM didn't, I'd just "research" my Fire Ray anyway.

DM - "Fire ray"? You mean "Scorching Ray"?

You - "No. I studied Fire Ray because you said I couldn't just change spells into completely different effects on a whim. Fire Ray is a better Scorching Ray."

DM - ..? So because you don't like the spell that literally does exactly what you want already; you want a new spell called Fire Ray that's just buffed?

You - "Yeh. I roll 10d6; 42!"

DM - *rolls some dice behind the screen* "That's super weird, it seems you only did 16. Better luck on the next one"

I really can't imagine how you see subverting your DM, the guy who does 100% of the work to run the game for you, is going to turn out.

DM - "What's that spell? Oh you made it up after I said Fireball isn't a ray? No you still can't have Fireball as a ray."

Poison Headcrabs, and more so, the Poison Zombies that carry them. (Half life 2)

Those things man. Poison you to 1HP so that anything (other than the headcrabs) will instantly kill you? Brutal and scary. And what's worse? They can be hiding under just about anything.

Then the poison zombie? Hucking them at you from 50ft away or so. blech.

Oh! I would've definitely asked about Vertical "squares" since it's not well defined. I guess if you were 6ft tall and thus in the explosion, but would've have been if you were <5ft, that's fair.. ish.

I'd have probably let you duck myself; as his ruling is assuming a Cylindrical fireball explosion, rather than a spherical one.

That said, vertical combat is loosely defined and you'll have to defer to the DM (as far I know.)

Chess Pwn wrote:
Can a medium creature mechanically be in two squares so that two splash damages that only hit one of the squares both hit them?

Splash damage doesn't hit the same creature multiple times.


Throw Splash Weapon

[...] A hit deals direct hit damage to the target, and splash damage to all creatures within 5 feet of the target. If the target is Large or larger, you choose one of its squares and the splash damage affects creatures within 5 feet of that square.

You can instead target a specific grid intersection. Treat this as a ranged attack against AC 5. However, if you target a grid intersection, creatures in all adjacent squares are dealt the splash damage, and the direct hit damage is not dealt to any creature.

The bolded passages say "Creatures in adjacent squares are dealt splash damage." If you read that it's actually a binary condition:

-> Am I a creature in an adjacent square? -> Take Splash damage

It's not phrased in such a way that large or larger creatures, or a creature taking up more than one square, could take the same splash damage multiple times. Anyone who says otherwise has house-ruled it.

I believe, but am not entirely sure, that creatures can ever be in multiple squares; but can't find how i'd prove that in a meaningful timeframe.

I'd just give it a flat rate of failure, and make it high enough that it's truly dangerous. Add a flat 10% chance to mishap to the mishaps that already exist. This means mishap-ing probably kills you, but might not.

In 40k I believe 1-in-6 models usually died from any of these sorts of moves (though I don't know in the current edition.)

I also like the idea that things from other dimensions sometimes come with you.

I think something I'd allow as a GM would be an ability:

"Damage Focus: When you cast a spell you may expend a Power Charge to double the damage of a spell of equal or lower Spell Level as the Power Charge.

Charge up: You may, as a standard action, expend a spell slot to gain a power charge of the level of the spell slot expended. This charge lasts until <whatever it's called when you renew your spells>"

This means it's basically the same as the player spending two of the spell to get double damage, although if they do it in advance they'll be better at alphastriking a tough enemy (though SR and saves will be doubly effective!)

Consider salting it with an ability check to taste, or have that as a feat.

There is some balance harm:
* When you choose Positive you can't harm Living creatures with your abilities
* When you choose Negative you can't harm Undead creatures or heal Living Creatures

This is a giant balance difference. Obviously a cleric in the general case would like to have it mixed because if he can turn every utility spell into a harm spell while providing full healing; he's able to do the former much better. Similarly, one who can blast negative energy while being a reasonable healer can end up being a reasonable blaster without any downside. Further, the blaster version can still run up to undead and "cure" them as well; making them basically bypass DR on any creature, against touch AC, while still being a healer.

I would not let a player do this personally as I already know how it'll turn out. Either be a healer or don't be. The 'Trade god' excuse is super weak imo


GM Rednal wrote:
Aren't natural attacks normally limited to one per limb? Gore and Bite are both "Head" attacks, so having one generally precludes having the other.

Gargoyles think otherwise. Given that the attacks are all listed under a full attack.

Notice that it could've been worded like the Skeleton where it has two different full attacks, one with Gore and one with Bite.

Given that these creatures have both in their attacks and no one has made a rules citation saying otherwise; yes you can do both*

*pending someone posting rules that contradict this

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:

It's the first. Another natural attack means that srength, power attack, arcane strike, any spells the dragon's cast, and all it's other damage multipliers get multiplied another time. That's not a small increase in power.

Looking at an Adult Red Dragon,

Given that it already has 6 attacks, 7 with haste and a fire aura as it's melee; increasing it's power by less than 1/7th (14%) isn't going to be a big deal, given that its defenses and everything else won't change.

He's also saying that Dragons may have better things to do than be sitting in melee full-attacking. They may be fine at doing that, but they can also fly 45ft away, blasting massive cones of fire or other such nonsense.

Among myriad other things; adding a small increase to their full-attack isn't worthy of a CR change at that point. It is at level 2 or 3 maybe, but even then there are CR 3 creatures with 5 attacks (Grick) and CR 3 creatures with 1 attack (Ogre)

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:

Kalindlara wrote:
Gargoyles have both. ^_^

I'm trying to imagine what that looks like . . .

I would imagine it Gores, pulls up, then bites. Certainly biting first makes it less elegant.

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Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:

I think the horns are just for show, though. It's clear just by looking at them that dragons didn't evolve, so whatever designed them *cough* Wayne Reynolds *cough* must have thought the horns looked sick.

Now now! What if the lady-dragons also think the horns look sick? Sexual Selection is an entire array of pointless traits that evolved specifically to attract mates.

* Peacock
* Weird bird dances
* Lion manes
* And yes, even horns!

Now.. you'd have to decide whether female dragons have horns or not to decide if it's really Sexual Selection or not, according to that final link. Considering that, maybe they don't have Gore attacks because the females *don't* have horns?!

Of course, this is more about being a pedant than thinking this is actually the reason they lack Gore attacks.

Lynos wrote:

This is going away from rules discussion, but I am trying to get my players more invested in the minutiae of their characters and know their characters inside and out, and I sometimes feel that if I remind them what skills they have and when they should roll I am doing their job for them and thus they become lazy.

I feel like this is breaking both "Make a fun game" and "What would my characters logically already be doing"

Personally I just call out "Does anyone have Knowledge: <X>?" and have them roll at the beginning of the encounter. Why?

Well first I don't want them to call out 12 different knowledge checks trying to pin down what it's technically under. I even give them a secondary or tertiary knowledge check at a penalty if they are all missing a knowledge or maybe if they all blow it (depends how important it is. Something of dire importance they should just know or have a way of getting that knowledge.)

Think of what's fun. Asking for a half dozen knowledge checks isn't fun for them or you and it's a free action to do it, so limiting them seems unfair.. So now you're inventing a situation that requires them to ask you a half dozen pointless questions each; that they should just remember in the first place given knowledge is a binary "do I know this" check.
I essentially do the same with Perception, giving an automatic perception check when they enter rooms and running with that to determine traps and things. In addition, I don't make them "search for traps" all the time, and I often even describe things in the room (especially traps) so that they know something interesting is there.

The point of all this being; I personally think you and your players will enjoy the game more if you streamline the process of some things.

Speed has a major impact at times:
* Any ranged attacker (bows, wizards, etc) is far more dangerous at 50+ speed than they are at 20. At 20 you can catch them and quickly neutralize the problem, at 50 you have to utilize terrain, break LOS, and maybe find a ranged way to slow them down or you'll have troubles.

* Any melee attacker can choose their target regardless of the other targets, unless everyone is bunched up. This means if there is a 50ft+ wide set of 5 meat-shield guys, you can *still* run around them and up to the wizard being guarded in a single full-round move action. The 30ft character would instead need 2-3 rounds and the wizard could see it coming.

Mobility (not the feat) is king in many games simply because choosing your battles means you *don't* choose the losing ones.

Practically speaking, a game that encourages battle mats also puts you in a weird position because the faster people move, the bigger the encounter space. At some point you may end up just changing the scale of the battle mat just to fit it on a reasonable sized table.

Paper for most mapping, quick notes, battle-stats (HP, initiative order, number of rounds for something so I can cross them off.)

Comp for looking up rules, storing the rail-roady parts of a session etc.

I actually design most of my sessions in Notepad++ and save all the files to a cloud-service (used to be Dropbox, now Sync) and that way I can write on those notes from anywhere, then pull them up on the laptop. Normally these are:
* Interesting encounters / DCs etc
* custom critters stats and rules
* some canned dialog from important NPCs and possible plot hooks
* canned terrain DCs, chases, etc for non-combat adjudication on the fly easier

So while all of that is computer; for those of you who work on mulitple PCs; it's a very convenient way of designing sessions

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Ryze Kuja wrote:

But after that one time, I told him I don't want to start a precedent with you running around poisoning and bluffing shopkeepers to make millions of gold for nothing :P

Interestingly, you don't need that restriction. The Bluff doesn't last forever; that shopkeeper will go to spend coins at some point, which are regular coins, and know he was ripped off 2k.

2k is a hefty bounty for a single target unless they are quite powerful, and a gang of vigilantes or mercenaries may well be hired in order to get the 2k back plus.. "expenses."

The fact that this could occur multiple times could result in a coalition/union of such shops bringing the hammer down; which makes for quite the plot hook.

* This is a good time for a Gelatinous Cube. Stick it around a corner in the tunnel after describing the previous bit "suspiciously clear of dirt and grime" and they'll have a DC15 Perception (not that difficult) to pass before running into it as they round the corner. Even if they make the check, it may engulf a couple in the next round! I did mine right after they hopped down a reasonable climb (say, 30ft) and had a somewhat "Z"-shaped tunnel with the cube at the top of the Z corner. (Note: this is still an "easy" encounter; but it's also still dangerous, if they don't kill it in a couple rounds since it can paralyze/engulf everyone.)

* Have the tunnel be multiple levels that interact. Holes in the floor or weak flooring. Shortcuts that require climbing. "Secret" areas where you'll have to crawl through muck or go around the tunnels to get to; or gated-off areas that they can tell have items but have to go-around to get to.

* Things that get stuck in the sewer: If you have Zombies/Ghouls/etc, finding these in places that the players can fall makes perfect sense. Too dumb to climb really; just sitting there in a pack mindlessly waiting.

* Consider some hazards: Azure Fungus is good; and sprinkling it in various areas gives some push-pull to whether to travel through that area. It's especially useful as a "hazardous terrain" kind of addition to a fight; as the water it's electrifying will be safe for some number of rounds; but the players have to waste time shaving off the fungus or hope they don't get zapped while in the water (or fight only on non-water spots!)

* Could consider Kelpies. Drowning a player in a couple rounds is a pretty brutal way to go; turning an encounter up to 11 in a heartbeat.

* 3rd Party River Troll(basically just a troll with swim.)

* Gibbering Mouthers are suitable to the environment, creepy and weird. Have it rise out of the water after they find themselves "trapped" between a locked gate and it. They have options to fight in this congested area, run passed it as best they can, or attempt to unlock the gate quickly.

* Obvious area to set up a Minotaur; maybe make it large so it's more beastly; and make it a bit more like a puzzle; trying to get the minotaur to charge into things to break them; collapsing a weak part; revealing a new area; bashing through a gate that the party otherwise was going to be unable to get through; etc. This makes the party consider trying to lead it around maybe; before some final conflict with it after harassing them.

I'll note that most of the above encounters are average difficulty; and are more for environmental fun and whatnot.

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Usually "rool of cool" comes in when the rules puts an arbitrary barrier simply because someone is combining actions. This is in part because the "Yes, and.." rule of improv.

The purpose is that shooting down someone's idea rather than working with it means that they are less likely to attempt ideas. What's more? That idea may end up causing a very memorable and entertaining scene (which is the point.) I'm still repairing people's willingness to try crazy things from when I was early in DMing and shot down things I couldn't figure out how to adjudicate.

Note; if I give some advantage "You gain +1d6 damage for falling on them" then I often reflect that as a disadvantage "and additionally you take 1d6 damage for falling" or w/e. "You get +2 to hit since he's unlikely to defend this attack; but because you're exposed as you fall you'll suffer -2 to AC until your next turn."

Yes, it's true that this is similar to Vicious or similar to Charging; but there you go! That means that under some set of conditions where they had a risk of failing in a bad way, you gave them a bonus that they could've gotten in the game some other way without breaking it.

It's also true it favors creativity and storytelling; but that's the whole point of the game. The point isn't to say "My guy killed a troll." It's to say "Remember that one time the troll was weak so I jammed an alchemist's fire down it's throat!"

And all you have to do for that is look at the rules for Water of Maddening and get an idea that maybe instead of Reflex the monster gets Fort, and gets a -4 to the save for injesting it. How to adjudicate? Grapple; make a successful improvised melee attack with the flask (or possibly some other maneuver.) And so instead of just doing a simple "throw the flask; yay I did 2 damage?" you get a flashy ending to a scene that someone gets to feel like a hero for; and will chat about over beers for years to come.

I'd rather be the guy who runs a table that people will chat about for years down the line because of the stories it created than just some guy willing to run a table.

Not a single person mentioned dwarves? Not the OP? Not anyone else?



Dwarves get darkvision, a host of good stuff attached to their race, and dump Cha for free making them excellent for the average min-maxer in the first place; but it's not like having a -2 Cha doesn't mean you can't be a dwarf with 14 cha or some such.

Personally I do the "NPCs that you befriend can be your replacement when you die" and they can choose among those that I allow them to. This solves loads of issues pertaining to PC death and replacement; but it's too much to leave in an unrelated thread.

I want to point out that the Barb is making a choice to not gimp his speed for his AC; and is then whining about his AC. It's perfectly easy to get a +4 Chain Shirt, Leather Lamellar, etc which would instantly bump his AC to ~21 (depending on his current dex bonus.) Where he to have a simple Mithral Chain Shirt; even better. So *at least part of this is the player's fault.*

Second, it's up to you how difficult you want the campaign to be. If they're getting chopped up because they just charge everything that's totally different than if they were getting chopped up with a well executed and thought out strategy with synergies and whatnot. If they're rolling well, planning well, AND losing; that's a problem.

This could be partly the GM, but the items are only "required" due to the min-maxing of the internet. In the same way that weird lists win Mtg tournies but are considered "unviable"; builds that lack the "big 6" are simply somewhat sub optimal, rather than unusable.

IMO, try to make strategies to approach the monsters more obvious with some rumors/NPCs, maybe even an in-game book of monster lore that helps out. Consider a monster that is WAY too powerful to fight head on but is also located in a (somewhat obviously) collapsible cave; and have his attacks weaken the struts so they are really just trying to get it to kill itself.

Try making easier encounters that are hard due to the combination of monsters or terrain; but not because of CR (making their stats and whatnot lower.) An example is mixing a bunch of Troglodytes with some C$ thing; they lower your damage and ability to hit; but are individually not that threatening and the encounter; this will peanut butter the damage and difficulty.

I suspect that the GM side of this is that you are throwing single meanies at the party and having them duke it out. This obviously leads to higher amounts of damage that the party has to eat and reliable hits from the big-bads.

I would caution that some of it is luck too. I had a party encounter a troll the other day (but they couldn't tell what it was) and it did 42 the first round; scaring off the CR4 (?) party instantly even though the next round it did single digits or nothing. The party scrambled and fled an encounter that they could've done because of variance. (Though i'm happy about it; because many encounters where I wanted to get them to run they've challenged the thing and won handily. Yet more variance!)

I don't see this as entirely a GM problem. Maybe partially; but you're in a difficult situation because you have 6 PCs; that's really the biggest reason you keep killing people; and everyone in the thread is ignoring that.

Why is it a problem? because you've added 50% more player action-economy which makes it difficult to balance encounters. All the sudden an encounter that would've been balanced with 1 Stone Roper; is balanced by having a second one and considered "difficult." But what happens? Now you've *doubled* your enemies while "barely increasing the difficulty."

I have a hard limit on 4 players now because it's way easier for me to balance.
Second issue: Everyone here seems to think you should just hand them a campaign that they didn't earn; which you don't believe. I'm happy to stand with you on that. You gave them an NPC, you pointed out some side quest or w/e that had much needed loot; you've attempted to build balanced encounters; and you *didn't adjust the campaign just because they were doing badly.*

I think that's a good thing. Your players are in a real world that didn't just adjust to them; I think that despite their deaths; that's why they're hanging around.

Because I sympathize with you but assume you want them to get through it; give them a second way to get to those outs they need so badly. You may even have the OOC chat that says "hey... if you guys don't go do a thing; you're probably dead." Then they'll either take the railroad or they'll take the hard-core challenge.

Fact is.. the party is somewhat killing itself and it sounds like you've been playing it fairly and playing it lethally => meaning there is actual danger for the PCs.

The only other thought would be to have maybe a secondary "Save the angel" quest as an option; where they go on some side quest deep in this dungeon; and doing it basically negates the rest of it or clears their issues up; whichever seems better to you.

I am always happy to advocate that this is a good idea; mostly because one of my favorite albums is about it: The Legend of the Bone Carver

If you want to do this within the rules without being evil; being Neutral is fine; and you can use your powers for good. In theory; using evil for good is a very Neutral thing to do. "Bring balance back to the whatever" and such.

(Bear with me for a moment)

In 40k (unless they've retconned yet again) Orks create their entire society unintentionally. As they live they slowly release spores (they're a fungal creature) and these spores grow Orks, food-items, gretchin (like goblins) and various beasts of burden.

Similarly, I have no Half-Orcs in my campaign (though have a race that replaces them) and thus have no "female" orks (though the "males" wouldn't really be either.)

In other news -
Harpies reproduce by stealing humanoids and (...)

Dust Diggers "bud off"

Many Vermin reproduce like insects; where a queen gives birth to the young, which may be "male" in some sense; but often their roles and genetics are determined by how they're fed and "raised" in the hive. (Queen Bees are just female bees that have been treated specially)

Golems are often magical creations;

Elementals are often forces of nature that don't reproduce (are part of the world itself)

Many plant species don't reproduce, they are created by some corrupting force that passes by

Undead often "reproduce" by killing a non-undead in some specific way.

Slugs (in real life) can reproduce by laying egg-copies of themselves OR by mating (which is true of many species.)


So summarizing:
* implantation, infection, or corruption
* creation by another party
* "budding off"
* splitting at sufficient size
* asexual egg-laying (or spores, etc)
* a post-birth sex-determination such as the way they're raised/fed/environment

and many other ways. Some include manifestation of feelings or thoughts. Whatever you can imagine probably has *at least one* creature that follows that pattern in a beastiary somewhere.

If adjudicating this on the fly (for some reason) I'd probably do:

W | W = Expected Character Wealth (or possibly the character's wealth)
T | T = Total/Max HP
M | M = Multiplier for balance reasons

And then for each point of HP I'd cost it at M*W/T Gold for it. This means that each subsequent HP is worth more and possibly a lot more.

Say you have 37 HP and your expected character wealth is 6,000. I'd expect that to buy a point of HP from such a character you'd have to give them 6,000/37 gold is a mere 126 gold. So maybe we decide a multiplier of 10x is in order; resulting in 1260 gold.

Now that their max HP is 36, the next HP would be 166 gold to buy from them, the multiplier making that 1660.

I'm not sure what a reasonable cost would be, but consider that some items grant you a feat and these are often around the 4-10k range; I'd compare how what it costs your character based on how much HP Toughness would get you. At level 10, Toughness gets you 10 HP So consider that 1 HP should cost somewhere in the 400 gold range when you're level 10, but toughness grants only 3 HP at level 3, so maybe it would instead cost 1300+ per HP at a low level.

This makes sense because gaining life has less effectiveness each level, since each level you had more HP to begin with. (If you have 10 hp and gain 5, you gained 50%. If you have 50 and gain 5, you've gained 10%)

I'm way off in the deep end on this; I actually build custom monsters to match models I have or I build custom models that match the monsters I'd like to run (or I'll find a cool model and look for something in the beastiarys that is close enough to mold into it as is or as a reskin.)

This comes mostly from me being a 40k nerd who loves kit-bashing and customizing.

-My harpies? Daemonettes with Tyranid Gargoyle wings green stuffed on em
-Animated trees? these weird Malifaux haunted tree things
-Goblins? Warhammer gobbos!
-Skeletons? older (vampire counts?) Skeleton models and Tomb-kings Skeleton Archers


It's bad enough I'll build entire sections of the map or entire campaigns to end in a penultimate big-ol-fancy model of some kind.

One can certainly get by by simply marking things down or using coins, etc; but I basically only run campaigns because I enjoy building/painting models. When they plop down the players often pick them up and ogle them to good effect.

So the Kelpie is somewhere between "nearly completely ineffective" and "nigh guaranteed to kill a player of the appropriate level."

If the player would hold their breath, the kelpie will usually have to drown them for 25 rounds or more. While they offer no resistance; it's fairly strange since a Harpy (who has a similar ability that affects all the players) will probably kill you in a couple full-attack actions.

This makes me think "maybe the person who offers no resistance and is under the charm is not holding their breath"; but I doubt it.

I do understand it'd be more interesting if it wasn't used as a singleton creature; but my goodness; how many combats last 25+ rounds? Certainly none that I've ever run (they usually start to drag if they make it to 10-15 in and I'd say that if they last 25 it's either very well designed or very badly designed; depending on if it's still entertaining.)

I am assuming the player holds their breath; but it's obviously such a giant power difference that the ability may as well not be there at that point. If it's "they don't hold their breath" then I'll need to be more careful (as will the players) in employing it.


EDIT: I guess a third option would be to start without holding their breath; in which the rounds are non-deterministic because they have to fail a check before they begin drowning; upping the time from 3 rounds to 7 or something; which starts to sound like what it should be.

You should probably play the Dark Souls board game where you eventually fight bosses.

Long story short the way they work is:
* You face a first phase where they have some number of cards in a deck. These are revealed each time they'd have an action and show how they'll attack and thus which "arcs" take damage/saves/etc.
* These stay in order allowing the party to prepare for them as they go
* After you defeat the first phase, more cards are added to the deck and it is shuffled, meaning you now have more dangerous moves and have to learn how it moves again.

Now.. that game is quite difficult and it's not a perfect mirror; but it does some interesting things. It lets you do AoE melee attacks that are fair because the party learns how it moves and what to avoid. It makes him like a puzzle to be solved, which is very "Boss like."

Some things I've done (though lower level):
* Ghost boss inspired by some of the haunt rules where it can inhabit a corpse. Each room the party entered the boss would start in an undead body, reanimate, attack. Then it would appear, they could fight it for a round, then if they didn't do enough damage it would inhabit an additional body. At some point it couldn't retreat anymore and they had a "showdown"

* A standard "Summoning Ooze" from 3.5 in a room with several pillars and it was perched in a balcony. Each turn it summoned a Bloody Skeleton near the party as they tried to climb to it and fought off the skellies. Then they could fight it when they got there.

Some monsters work very well with singleton movesets if they have a large combination of feats/abilities. For instance, if you have Bulette Leap/Rampage, Combat Reflexes, a reach of 15ft or something, and a high speed; you can have a monster who uses Overrun (and acts like trample sort of) to knock everyone down as best it can. Those that try to get up it gets free attacks on and have to waste actions getting up.

This makes it charge through (which is interesting), cause "AoE damage" that is avoidable (strategic), knock people around (cinematic), and force interesting decisions (do I try to get up?); which all form a memorable encounter. Add in an area that favors this (such as a long massive corridor with little areas to hide in on the sides) and a secondary thing that the monster will do every other turn or three; and you have a good encounter.

Further, if you were to add hazards, secondary objectives, a "second form", or similar; you now have a half session or more of material, all in the same area/same thing. That's an encounter people will remember.

Consider the idea of stained glass or a prism, where the same God can be viewed from different angles. In Game of Thrones, for example, the Many-Faced God and the Lord of Light are often considered to be the only gods that actually exist, but different cultures have their own 7 gods here and 9 gods there etc..

Maybe this allows you to get a fairly interesting story where you don't present your universe as having a single god, but many, even dozens; but the players come to realize over time that some of the mono-theisms takes may be right. At the same time, the "Old Faiths" of many gods seem legit in that they tap into some hidden source of power; and a different one that worshiping Big God would give you.

This allows you to have your cake and eat it too. They choose a sub-god thing and think they're making an actual choice (mechanically they are) but in reality, the gods are just different aspects of the same one.

It's worth noting that while the above is a bit of a ramble, I just have an image of a holy figure in stained glass in my head; where looking at individual pieces of glass is an entirely different experience than looking at the whole thing.

Taken magically, looking at the individual piece of blue, with portions of a ship on its edges and a bird flying; but if you look; the whole picture is really about a city and the ship at the bottom is just a small detail. That blue piece may be Weather, Air, etc.; but the whole thing may be Light, Good, Community, etc.

DungeonmasterCal wrote:

@Derklord --

I have a player who wants to do the "guns blazing" thing at every opportunity and has felt forced to go along with the crowd if they disagree with her. She often splits from the rest of the party to pursue her own agendas. I fear this will cause a real life problem at some point. The beginnings of that are starting to manifest.


I've never really had to deal with this sort of thing in 30+ years of gaming with my group. I know it needs to be addressed but I'm still trying to figure out the best way to do it.

Well, you've been around a lot longer than I have, but I'd consider a couple of approaches I'd use:

* Start a second mini-campaign of 2-3 players with her. You can use the two campaigns' interactions with the world to maybe create intrigue or otherwise. Certainly it'll help you keep the world alive around your players. Just literally let her split off, have a couple people roll up followers as she charismatically convinces a few people to join her and badda-bing! I've done something like this (and offered it to players)

* Have some situations that favor each approach. Have a chase scene where no planning can really occur, which favors her guns blazing approach. Then have a scene where the players can carefully navigate around an obviously-too-dangerous foe. Then have a scene where they are ambushed. Etc..

I tend to naturally build my encounters where some can be approached and some are ambushes, and some are player-folly; and the planners vs. the head-strong seem content since they get to each act in their preferred way at different times. Once waiting outside a Ratfolk cave debating their possibilities or deciding how to ambush something hunting them. other times being forced to chase a critter for a couple miles hopping and climbing, etc.

* She could play a character that requires planning to use effectively. The Wizard who isn't blasting often needs to coordinate to make his spells effective. This could be in addition to suggestion 1; where in one campaign she's running her gunslinger (or w/e) and blasting everything, and in the other she's carefully planning her approach while the others are figuring things out.

IMO, attempt to turn this into an opportunity to spice things up rather than a problem to be solved.

EDIT: It could also be that your campaign isn't dangerous enough. My players tend to plan because when they don't, they often find themselves running away from what should've been a balanced or somewhat difficult encounter; rather than an impossible one. Being willing to kill your players if the dice go against them and/or if they do something obviously stupid is conducive to making them consider their approach.

I haven't killed any in my current campaign; but there's been a couple times they've had to run.

With the above, remember that 5% of encounters should be of the "nearly impossible" variety; several CR above them. If you do it in such a way that they are still making choices then they won't be frustrated, but rather they'll be relieved that their wits saw them through something terrifying

Derklord wrote:

Also, when the players discuss the how they're going to be sneaky or how to prepare an ambush, I don't pause the game, and I'll also have their characters discuss what the players are discussion. (...)

I do the same concept when the players are joking around. My players tend to use similar sounding contemporary names for NPCs and sometimes PCs. (...)

Very much this. I think it helps keep the plays in-universe and avoid random banter at the table (thus streamlining the game a bit and keeping immersion a tiny bit higher.)

I also like the idea of a count-down. I occasionally will do a "skip turn" thing if someone really can't decide what they're doing; then go back after the next player goes and see if they've figured it out (in combat.) This helps somewhat; though they feel jilted the first couple times. Implementing a count down would make this seem more fair though.

GrandLounge's points are all things I like to use as well.

So the thread is more about "how do I get people to stop overplanning" if I'm reading it correctly.

Consider that:
* We don't know what you mean by overplanning; so if you think 30 seconds is too long or 30 minutes is too long is kinda undefined.

But! Either way, I would maybe approach this as a challenge or a request with something like "I'd like to implement a 2-minute timer for planning before we're forced to move on"

If the GM enforces this by just forcing the situation if they haven't chosen (advancing the plot; such as your party being discovered waiting outside the door, your party missing their chance to do a thing, a natural event, etc.)

I (GM) tend to go to d20. As the owner(?) mentioned, it does seem better for home-brewed campaigns. A lot of times when I see something linked on Archives, it seems more powerful or ridiculous; so (probably undeserved) it has a reputation with me similar to Forgeworld had with w40k a couple editions back -> OP stuff.

While I'm not sure how that'd be given the descriptions above; I'm still happier navigating d20. If nothing else, it's one of the few times I prefer a white-background black-text kind of site. Archives feels kinda like a site from the early 2000's or late 90's with the high contrast. (And again, I normally put everything to a "dark theme")

So, not real big criticisms. I actually used d20 over PRD 80% of the time; due to better linking of things.

- Grab? Press the hyperlink and go straight to it from the monster.
- Bane Weapon? Press the hyperlink and go straight to it from the npc
- Armor table? Press the hyperlink if you want to go to the description
- Crafting? Has alternate crafting rules (that aren't terrible) right under it

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D&D 5th (and I thought PF1 but I can't find a quote) codified what the DM should do

D&D 5th wrote:

Sometimes, the GM might ask for an ability check using a specific skill--for example, “Make a Wisdom (Perception) check.” At other times, a player might ask the GM if proficiency in a particular skill applies to a check. In either case, proficiency in a skill means an individual can add his or her proficiency bonus to ability checks that involve that skill. Without proficiency in the skill, the individual makes a normal ability check.
For example, if a character attempts to climb up a dangerous cliff, the GM might ask for a Strength (Athletics) check. If the character is proficient in Athletics, the character's proficiency bonus is added to the Strength check. If the character lacks that proficiency, he or she just makes a Strength check.

This is basically how I do it. You choose an ability, you say "make a check with this ability, modified with this skill's bonus's"

What this does is allow a player to frame a situation using their good stats and thus encouraging good roleplay.

* You've been studying lockpicking books in your downtime as an Int 16 Dex 8 character. You then frame your approach as "Using my knowledge of locks from 'A Locksmith's Guide' I carefully manipulate the tumblers" (or something..), then maybe I'd say "Roll an Intelligence(Disable Device)"; though I'd be more likely to have them add in their dex mod (-1) as well, given that they are bad at manipulating objects.

* You have poor cha but good wisdom -> Diplomacy. You're requesting the aid of someone and use a philosophical approach rather than a charismatic approach: "When you help one in your community, you help all in it. If everyone would deny us help, then our community will succumb to <the thing>, and you are best positioned to help. In order to help yourself, you must help us." (or something better..) Then I may ask for a "roll a Wisdom(Diplomacy)" rather than Cha which may be an approach that attempts to be friendly, attempts to barter, or some other manipulation of a person that appeals to the way people act

This also helps players pass checks AND promote roleplay; which is good. You incentivize the players to roleplay by virtue of dangling "doing well" in front of them.

It's worth mentioning that still exists and is alive. I don't know if there are plans for it to go down at some point but I always found that to actually be a better site than the PRD

A) IMO, if you can pass the check -> seems fine. Look below, however, as typically a player says "I want to do X" and then the GM says "Roll a blah check." Saying "I want to grapple the dragon" has issues.

B) GrandLounge points out that there are jujitzu (sp) ways of doing things. Consider watching some MMA or Jujitzu instructional vids to come up with neat "animations" for what you're doing. Everyone will benefit from this; while leaning on just A will result in breaking everyone's immersion.

Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

Nonlethal damage does not reduce your hit points; you keep track of it as a separate tally and fall unconscious if it equals or exceeds your current hit points (i.e. max hp reduced by lethal damage).
d20pfsrd wrote:

If a creature’s nonlethal damage is equal to his total maximum hit points (not his current hit points), all further nonlethal damage is treated as lethal damage.

While it is unlikely that in this scenario they were dealing lethal with their non-lethal, it's possible; especially the mix of lethal and non lethal.

For example, say he had 60 HP (40 real) and had 39 lethal, 59 non-lethal; someone then does 21 non-lethal -> 1 non-lethal, 20 lethal. Now he falls unconscious, loses rage, loses 20HP, and dies.

While my example is convoluted, it's only the minimum case. If someone got a crit-non-lethal for 42 or something (which I've seen done at level 2 I believe?) there's now a lot of leeway in those numbers.

Also keep in mind that the area he's fought in will dramatically affect the encounter. Is it 300 ft away gunning at you from a tower with holes in it for aiming/firing? Is there room to maneuver? Etc..

I'd consider that if you think they'll have problems with it; nerf it a little before the fight. If it's dramatic, just drop a D6 off everything and -2 to hit and AC; maybe the DR to 10. That's all the sudden probably -2 CR. Consider having an objective other than "Kill the thing" or possibly an environmental way to cause high damage or a finishing move kind-of thing.

If the player's objective is to hit the three levers and escape alive; that means they may only be in there for a couple turns if they're quick about it and means they don't have to "beat it" unless they want to.

1) This seems fine for a somewhat-railroaded campaign (as the explorers can't take too long or go too quickly or it's ruined. Diablo 2 is technically based around the Wanderer

2) I don't mind it. I like having false encounters and such personally. That said, designing two character sheets may be obnoxious and nerfing the characters could go either way. I'd rather keep them the same level and maybe they find the dungeon at a later level and it's harder or something.

3) Not big on it but if it were planned it's fine. Normally you want *everyone* to be in on it before it occurs as far as I understand it. Haven't done it myself. EDIT: I did plan on killing a player with a Succubus if they fell for the ruse and then having them play normal for some number of sessions until the Succubus attacks the party; with that character having been dead for a number of sessions. I think a doppleganger betrayel thing based on the player doing something hideously dumb (like going to bed with a succubus) is potentially fitting if you think your group can handle that.

EDIT Side note: The player wouldn't have known they were dead for a number of sessions; but additionally i'd have provided Sense Motive checks and such for the party to realize something was off. Technically, the player *could* have survived if my secret rolling went in their favor as well.

4) Make the boosts permanent but specific to a task (+2 damage against Orcs) or have the player Choose to give up the boost by giving them something attractive to "drain their power into."

5) It's fine. Just try to make it so everyone isn't bored watching. Be willing to kill PCs if they fail, consider doing it only every once in awhile to a single PC for good reason. Have it be their choice as that causes investment and interest; and keep it short enough.

6) Sounds like something went wrong here. Either the players should feel necessary (since they're integral to the plan) or the players were immature.

7) Moral quandaries are difficult if your group isn't into it. Just consider who is in your group if you're going to pose it.

8) Meh. Convoluted and potentially predictable.

9) Allow the players to choose to play her; but still only allow 4 PCs at once. It's still a game and needs to be balanced in a variety of ways; which the NPC can screw up. Either they leave for a good reason or they can't participate all the time for some other reason.

10) Almost the same as 1. I would only do this for a session or two; and probably for a big plot reveal or some sort of "I'll hold on <X> while you guys go do <Y>." Think of a game where the Boss has to focus on the big NPC for a moment while the players solve a thing. This can be even better if you present a major Moral Quandary right here; making them choose between the NPC and the Boss to decide something interesting. Whoever they will assist will win (unless it all gets bungled.)

Try to keep it about the players, give them choice, but have the NPC be helpful. My players captured and used an NPC recently, thinking it'd join them just because it helped them once; but in reality it was intimidated into helping each time so of course he wasn't sticking around. Had they approached it different; maybe?

For context; I run my campaign with perma-death and you don't get to build your replacement. Your replacements are NPCs you've found along the way that join your cause. Players can readily swap characters (and should) in order to level those characters. Additionally, it takes feat-tension off of crafting and such since you have other characters to do some of that downtime-stuff with.

This makes my considerations of 6, 8, 9, and even 10 skewed. Additionally, it means I can more readily deal with 8. If someone dies; it can be a PC or NPC and it makes the same difference.

For #4, I already do (permanent and possibly conditional) boosts based on quests, player actions, and other stuff to characters. These often make them feel cool for doing something and since it's not an item it gives a unique un-obtainable bonus to the character. It also allows me to hide "you need this" kinds of bonuses in the party long before they're necessary; allowing them to feel like the bonus is them being creative in solving the big problem they encounter later.

Example: "<some god>'s Blessing: You may counter a single Fire spell as a swift action once per day; instead, you can change a single enemy hit into a miss once per day."

Some number of sessions later, a nasty fireball you had planned maybe gets countered. Players will feel great for dodging 60 damage (or w/e) while if they use the ability willy-nilly they get blasted. Their fault!

While this isn't helpful to you in the moment; this is how I'm doing my campaigns at the moment:

I'm currently organizing my campaign in "Seasons." A season is just 8-12 sessions that allow me to have some "long" story arc over several small ones and let the players figure out what's going on as they explore the smaller ones.

Think of an Act in an ARPG: You enter a new area and there's a BBEG causing issues. You know that over the course of it you're going to go deal with it, but that there should be things that would help you along the way, and sub-arcs or obstacles.



Act 2 in Diablo II is a great representation of this with an unknown evil (sort of): Stop Mephisto from Escaping Tal-Rasha's Tomb

But what happens? The town is under attack of Undead, so you're asked to stop it.

Then you need a way to get into the tomb, so you need to go find a special staff in the desert.

Then as you explore the sun goes out and you need to crack a seal to turn it back on; coincidentally giving you the other piece of the staff.

These let you go to some strange dimension you have to wonder through until you find a book that tells you which tomb to go to and a portal to the area.

You go finally deal with Mephisto only to find out that he's gone and left a minion in his place.


While the above seems linear, the player can actually skip the first thing, go immediately to the claw vipers or wander around, get the amulet, then be told they need the staff. They can (with assistance) even find the 7 tombs and skip the inter-dimensional travel if they are patient enough to dig through an average 4 tombs to find the right one.

That's a substantial amount of freedom and side-quests that really are all the same thing.

This is all a long winded way of saying: "One way to do it is to plan your arcs in different lengths and lay them over eachother. The players will then engage some number of them and you can adjust accordingly."

Again, I realize that's not helpful to you now and if you've been doing the same one for 5 years then you're probably good at adjudicating; but the introduction of numerous unrelated NPCs and plots leaves you with less satisfying endings.

What would I do? Maybe design the last couple months you have into a "Final Season" so you can intricately tie up everything in a slightly-more-railroaded way.

EDIT: I'd mention that you can just leave some loose-ends untied. Let your players guide which ones you should tie up and leave the ones that they've forgotten to the wayside. You can always have a beer with 'em and chat about what they *didn't* do; which I've done with campaigns that died.

"Yeah, that chick was as succubus and you were probably going to kill yourself trying to sleep with her. Then she'd join the party until the time's right; you'd find out you'd have been dead by your own hand for weeks as she screws the party in a grandiose way!"

They'll still get a kick out of the work you did even if it didn't pan out. A lot of the design of being a GM (as I'm sure you know) is all of the things that "just happen to work out" that were actually woven together in a meaningful way.

My players just went to recover a blacksmith and his materials; finding several Oils' of Mending last week. Coincidentally? They happen to run into a Carytid Column and bust their weapons. Odd that.

A dubious <Caster> Merchant; a pudgy/tall Elf in vibrant greens and blues. He travels on a boat that's oddly shaped due to having enslaved a few Ogres via Dominate to do the heavy lifting. He is a pushy salesman and stutters awkwardly as he talks; despite having a minimum of knowledge on the given subject matter.

For example if you asked about delivering something to a place he didn't know hey might say:
"B-b-but I could find it!" and attempt to seal the deal.

He is certainly not above shanghaiing* others. He's generally polite and sounds well meaning (and he will do business he's contracted to do) though he may cause something terrible in the place you send him; requiring you to go there anyway to deal with whatever mess he's made of it.


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