Interesting, that could be a good way for an anti paladin to rise. They start with small mercies, servitude is better than a horrible death, but over time become ever more merciful and minions become ever more loyal. Like a positive feedback loop. Eventually the anti paladin crosses that unforgivable line and does something positively generous.
My view on alignment is to focus on the small scale, the short term, the localised, the personal, the intention rather than things of cosmic scale and ultimate consequences, which are impossible to measure and far too open to interpretation.
For example a good character defeats a foe in battle and shows mercy by letting them go. That is a good act, simple. Whether that foe then goes on to commit an evil act later is not relevant to the question of whether the original action was good or not. Otherwise we are left with the ridiculous situation where goods acts become impossible.
Going back to the opening post, an anti paladin would rise when they deal honestly, show mercy, show generosity etc. on purpose, in the here and now. Not after some convoluted chain of events results in some unintended goodness down the track.
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Really? That sounds like a big call. At our table other forms of healing are quite effective depending on circumstance. For instance in our low level campaign I had a melee Inquisitor with high AC who would trigger fast healing as his judgment power and it worked really well. On our high level campaign our healbot can lay down three channels in a round or cast mass heal in emergencies.
I don’t get why people on these boards think in combat healing is ineffective, in combat healing works great for us, our table mostly plays adventure paths as written, I can’t see our group being a weird outlier. Maybe I’m wrong.
Back to the opening post. I had a high level cleric of Asmodeus once with the Conversion Channel feat. It was brilliant in emergencies, once a day you can inflict damage on the enemy AND heal your allies in the one action, muahaha! The other tactic I liked was to summon evil outsiders (with Sacred Summons it is a standard action) as meat shields and then use alignment channel to heal them.
This might be one of those rare instances where PCs have an advantage over monsters.
PCs with fast healing or regeneration usually acquire it via magical means such as the Inquisitor’s healing judgement or a ring of regeneration. Magical healing stops bleed damage. Monsters with fast healing or regeneration have them as extraordinary abilities and so still suffer bleed damage.
I think a dwarf barbarian combination is great from a mechanical perspective regardless whether you go core or unchained.
What is really interesting to me is the combination from a role playing perspective. To what degree does the age and wisdom of a dwarf temper the typical recklessness desire to smash things of a barbarian? Perhaps the dwarf is rather chill, until the tavern runs out of ale…
If you want to be really nasty cursed items aren’t technically traps but I’m sure you could find a way for one to act like a trap and yet be undetectable with trap sense.
Although, I’m not sure that you actually have a problem. Aren’t rogues supposed to find traps? I’m not sure why you would want to make one of the weakest classes even more ineffective.
Then again, perhaps I’ve misunderstood your intent and what you are looking for are obstacles rather than traps. This could be as simple as a dungeon filled one foot deep with mud. This counts as difficult terrain and requires a DC10 reflex save to stay upright in the slippery parts (like ramps). The native troglodytes are used to the swampy ground and can move through it unimpeded.
Oh and if you are determined on turning the encounter into an action heist scenario with lots of explosions just make it happen. Have a vegepygmy exit a hut balancing a large quantity of alchemical items just as the PCs are sneaking in. The vegepygmy is clumsy and just happens to be carrying shock sensitive alchemical explosives.
A couple of other thoughts.
1) Real waterfalls are noisy, think how loud an ordinary shower can be, a waterfall is dumping many orders of magnitude more water than that. Fantasy waterfalls might not be loud, but that seems like an unreasonable call to me. There should a significant circumstance bonus to any stealth checks near the waterfall.
2) You could turn the scenario on its head. Maybe they want the prisoners rescued. Why? Who knows? Maybe one of the prisoners is a doppelgänger and by “rescuing” him you’ve just given him the perfect cover. If you do this there should be some foreshadowing. For example, they were sent to rescue five prisoners, but there were actually six. Hmm…
Just make it easier for them. You said in the opening post that they need to roll perfectly on stealth rolls. Why? Is the entire village utterly silent and on high alert at all times? If so how are they making alchemical items?
If I were running this scenario I would say that the primary purpose of the village is making alchemical items, holding prisoners is just a nuisance, they just don’t have the personnel, the sooner the prisoners can be transferred to a proper prison the better. That should give the PCs plenty of scope for organising a prison break.
Mark Hoover 330 wrote:
I would have said something like “clinical RPG” as in the GM is skilled like a clinical psychologist, and the tone is more serious, but “White Wolf” works just as well.
You guys are clearly more committed to the game than me. If that’s what you enjoy, more power to you, it sounds like your games are really rich and detailed.
I don’t have the time or inclination for anything too serious. I’m not sure what you would call what I run these days: popcorn RPG perhaps.
I have a straightforward definition for evil people: people who make evil acts.
For me the cultists are still evil, we just happen to know what turned them to evil, and maybe there is hope for redemption, but they are definitely evil and will detect as such if they have sufficient hit dice.
Otherwise I have to work with a definition of evil that is too nuanced for my brain to handle with all the other stuff GMs have to do. I’ve tried running games that are more subtle and nuanced, but I found them to be too much like hard work.
For the most part I like Pathfinder 1e the way it is. I’ve started buying 2e books, but I still haven’t made the switch because 1e is such a great game.
If I were to change something I would make fighters and rogues more appealing to play. I’m not sure how exactly. I would probably look at the archetypes for each class and see what I could add to the base chassis from those. The Phantom Thief archetype for example has abilities that, in my opinion, should be standard for all rogues. For fighters I would also also look at ways to make armour and shields more effective without having to select a bunch of feats. For both classes I would add two extra skill points per level.
In my experience players don’t always know what they want.
The most common feedback I get is that they want more gritty and realistic games, but do they really? Let’s take combat. Realistic warfare is mind-numbing monotonous utter boredom for countless hours punctuated by intense short lived utter terror. Does anyone really want to play a game like that? Of course not.
As a GM I generally go with cliched villains because they are easy to represent. The GM has a tough job, to describe a whole fantasy world in a way that the players can understand. Being overly subtle or deliberately misleading is more likely to create confusion than better games. I’ve tried subtle villains, what usually happens is either the players figure it out immediately, in which case you might as well have made it obvious, or they never do and they waste precious game time on red herrings until you make it really obvious.
That’s not to say you can’t mix it up a little. For example you could have a villain that is obvious to the PCs but not to everyone else (including the NPC authorities). That way the PCs aren’t chasing pointless red herrings but the treatment of the villain is a little different.
I definitely prefer to build characters that are decent at a number of things rather than really good at one thing, so I will never optimise to be great at combat to the detriment of everything else. I never dump stats and I usually don’t have any glaring weaknesses.
For instance in one campaign I ran a pacifist cleric who was great at healing, status removal and buffing team mates but I actually favoured charisma over wisdom so I could act as party face as well. That character had negligible offence, but was very hard to take down (good AC, saves etc.) so could act as party tank in a pinch.
More recently I ran a ranger character with archery style, so I was decent at combat, but my feat choices were split between archery feats and skill boosting feats, plus I picked up a level of rogue so I could act as a few different roles: party tank (due to point blank master), ranged damage dealer, scout and trap finder with a number of other useful skills.
Within our group my character is never the best at anything, but my character is usually the second best at everything. There are two advantages to this:
1) I can always contribute to the success of the party, regardless of the situation, so I’m always engaged with what is going on.
2) My characters have high survivability. In our three longest running campaigns my three characters were the only ones to survive from start to finish in all three.
Number 1 is why I design characters the way I do, it basically gives me more game time without hogging the spotlight and ruining anyone else’s fun, number 2 is just a side benefit.
If you close all those gaps you don’t have a rogue anymore you have a fighter/wizard hybrid. The solution is to give rogue abilities that are thematically consistent with being a rogue and that other classes don’t have. Abilities like:
Hide in plain sight
I would rather make rogues better at what they are supposed to excel in rather than make them more like fighters. So something like giving them hide in plain sight at level 1, or a rogue talent at every level instead of every second level, or the ability to use any skill untrained a limited number of times per day.
It’s called cowardice/self preservation. If you can hear that the guards next door are getting slaughtered by some unknown intruder are you really going to stick around and receive the same punishment?
Or, they are ordered to guard a particular area and they know what happens when they disobey orders and the evil overlord finds out.
Or, they are sleeping or drunk on the job.
Or, they have the perfect ambush planned right where they are already stationed.
Or, they hate the guards next door. Serves them right for cheating at cards.
Or, they don’t want to blunder into a counter ambush.
Or, the evil overlord built massive sound proof doors, can’t hear much through those things.
Or, they want reinforcements to arrive first.
Or, they are just not paid enough to take unnecessary risks.
I’m not exactly sure what you have in mind, but here is an idea anyway.
In the present some allies of Rovagug are trying to create a gate from the Dark Tapestry to Golarion with the ultimate aim of releasing Rovagug from his prison. They are prevented by ancient but powerful arcane wards.
In the future the arcane wards have weakened and there are no arcane wizards powerful enough to strengthen them once more. This has allowed some evil and alien creatures to slip through dimensional cracks and wreck havoc in Golarion. This has reduced what was supposed to be a technological paradise into a rifts-like post apocalyptic wasteland.
What the PCs need to find out is which wards are failing in the future and then return to the present and attempt to strengthen them so they don’t fail completely. If they don’t then some Dark Tapestry monstrosity will come through in the far future, and being so alien, it won’t be bound by the usual rules of cause and effect so it’s presence will ripple back into the past causing Rovagug to rise in the present.
Talk to me about Nature vs Nurture with Chromatic Dragons, or if other instincts can win over their evil alignment
I like that dragons are big obvious personifications of alignment, so I basically follow the same idea.
If I want an instant reaction I will do something really unoriginal like:
* The villain announces the PC’s doom while smiling evilly.
If I don’t need an instant reaction then I won’t make any special effort to indicate how evil the BBEG is. Sometimes half the fun is figuring out who the bad guy really is.
Self consistency “can” apply to fantasy, but there isn’t any particular reason for it to do so, other than taste. Any paradox or logical inconsistency can be covered by “magic”.
There are some basic principles that need to be consistent for anyone to have any fun. Cause and effect needs to make sense and basic arithmetic needs to work. If you don’t have these basic things your game becomes entirely arbitrary based on GM whim which will quickly become frustrating for the players.
Self consistency is more of an issue with science fiction. For fantasy you can just say a wizard did it.
My campaign was a science fiction game not classic fantasy.
However the self consistency principle can still apply to a Pathfinder game because it deals with logical inconsistencies around cause and effect which are still applicable to some fantasy games.
I’ve done time travel in an RPG campaign.
I used a variation of the Novikov self consistency principle for how time travel into the past works. This is the Wikipedia article: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novikov_self-consistency_principle
The principle states that only self consistent time loops are allowed by the laws of physics. I guess it is similar to other scientific principles like you can’t travel faster than light.
That principle is hard to enforce in a RPG setting so I changed it slightly. My variation states that to an outside observer the time loop must appear self consistent. For the time travellers themselves personal histories do not need to make sense, indeed they definitely won’t make sense, that is part of the benefit (and curse) of being time travellers. This resolved the issue of time paradoxes and player knowledge vs character knowledge (since they were effectively the same).
How this worked in my game is that the time travel event happened somewhere in the middle of the campaign. So the first half ran like any normal campaign and I carefully recorded everything that happened up to the point they travelled back in time.
The second part of the campaign is where things got interesting. The PCs jumped back in time and of course started changing history. Whenever they changed something important in one gaming session they would mentally “jump” into a scene they had previously played in the first half of the campaign for the next gaming session, only now things were/are different and they were using their current character not their former character that was in the scene originally. So for instance say they were 4th level during a scene in the first half of the campaign but now their character was 6th level, it was their 6th level character that repeated the scene not the old 4th level character. This reflected the fact that the time travelling PCs remembered events that were yet to happen (or never happened in some cases) and gained the knowledge and experience from remembering. Once the session was over they mentally “jumped” back to the actual past (their personal present) often finding that the present was different too.
The PCs mentally “jumped” back and forth about half a dozen times until the players were totally confused as to what was going on and I was satisfied that to an outside observer there was definitely one coherent timeline. I also wrote up some alternate histories that contradicted events that happened at the gaming table and sent them to individual players saying you also remember this happening. Basically the idea was to confuse the players so they could never be quite sure what exactly happened. Along the way the characters were hit with insanity checks that got progressively worse every time they mentally “jumped”. This was to encourage the players not to make drastic changes.
We had all kinds of strange things happen during the campaign. NPCs they had never met seemed to know all about them. NPCs they knew well had no idea who they were. New threats emerged out of nowhere and others strangely vanished. The PCs gave themselves a note in the past that they returned to themselves in the future. That was cool. One PC had a follower that vanished never to be seen again. We had the PCs invent histories for events that happened in the first half of the campaign that I hadn’t fully fleshed out yet. So that became the new official history. And the weirdest one. We had an PC die only to come back to life later in the campaign (about a year later in real time). That was really weird because when their character died the player adopted an NPC as a replacement character and had played it for over a year. When the timeline changed and the scene was replayed the exact opposite happened and the NPC died instead. That was really spooky actually. When the old character was revived I leveled them up to match the other PCs and created yet another alternate history.
To summarise: I found that handling time travel like this allowed us to explore all the weird confusing fun of time travel without the problem of time paradoxes, separating player knowledge from character knowledge or players losing agency.
I’m a big fan of the Paladin.
It is very easy for GMs to write adventure hooks for Paladin characters. This is a HUGE plus whether you are the GM or one of the PCs because nothing kills a game faster than a frustrated or miserable GM. This fact alone makes Paladins awesome.
Paladins are usually at their strongest when it really matters. When you finally get through the dungeon and meet the final evil mastermind most other classes have often used up most of their precious resources. The Paladin can simply smite evil their way through the encounter. Easy.
It’s a good class for new players because the vanilla Paladin without much optimisation works just fine and is very resilient.
The role playing requirements are not nearly as restrictive as most people make out. A Paladin can do whatever they like, the catch is that there are consequences for their actions. Well, so what? There are always consequences for your actions. The only real issue is with jerk GMs who make Paladins fall at the drop of a hat, but I see two problems with that argument. 1) Why would a patron god who is the epitome of goodness, i.e. mercy, compassion and forgiveness punish their followers all the time? That makes zero sense. And 2) Why are you playing with a jerk GM anyway?
I have a similar dilemma to the opening post. I prefer sandbox style games but I don’t have the time to figure out all the details in advance.
My way of getting around that is to limit the scope to a small city/island/dungeon/demi-plane where the PCs can’t leave (at least for awhile) so I don’t have to create too much stuff in advance. Then by the time they escape I have time to plan and create the next area.
Great idea for a thread.
There are so many great Golarion deities I’m not sure where to even start. As a player I think my favourite is Desna, for me she typifies the wandering adventurer who travels from place to place doing good deeds. I also like Sarenrae as a deity for good characters.
If I’m going for the antihero type then Abadar is my first choice. For this kind of character I’m imagining someone like a Judge Dredd archetype. A character with a strict code working for a higher purpose dispensing harsh justice on criminals.
If I’m looking for a villain Asmodeus is usually my first pick. I don’t like villains who break things just because (e.g. Rovagug) I find them boring and oddly predictable, I prefer villains who are subtle, manipulative and intelligent schemers.
The Eldest are also really interesting: Ng, The Lost Prince, The Green Mother, Shyka are all great characters.
This spell confuses the subject affecting their spatial awareness. Subjects who fail their saving throw receive a -4 penalty to AC and a -2 penalty to dexterity checks and reflex saves. The subject also has a -10 on fly and climb checks and no sense of direction meaning they automatically become lost in unfamiliar territory. Subjects who attempt spells with somatic components must succeed at a concentration check with a DC equal to 15 plus twice the spell level. Fey creatures (including gnomes) are immune to this spell. This spell may be made permanent with a permanency spell.
This spell confuses the subject allowing the caster to choose one type of activity that they cannot perform for the duration of the spell. For example: the caster could specify that subject of the spell may not open doors and then for the duration of the spell the subject will lack the capacity to open doors.
The caster cannot specify an activity that is unconscious like maintaining ones balance or breathing. The caster may not specify an activity the subject is already performing, for example climbing when the subject is already scaling a wall. The caster may not specify meta-activities like reflex saving throws. An invalid choice of activity causes the spell to fail automatically.
The types of activities that are valid choices are: opening doors, drawing a sword, running, climbing, swimming, jumping, reading, eating, drinking, tying knots, casting spells etc. Subjects in combat when the spell is cast receive a +4 circumstance bonus on their will saving throws to resist. Subjects who make their saving throw may attempt an opposed bluff vs sense motive check to convince the caster that the saving throw was not successful. The spell may he made permanent with a permanency spell however the subject receives a new saving throw to resist at the start of each day. If the saving throw is successful they are immune to the effect that day and must save again the next day. Permanency may be removed with a dispel magic spell, remove curse or similar magic.
286. Disarming Strike
On a successful ranged touch attack this spell shoots a beam that causes the target to drop whatever they are carrying (unless the target succeeds on their reflex save) as if the subject of a successful disarm combat maneuver. Items, circumstances or abilities which prevent disarming are also effective against this spell.
Jolken Jenkins wrote:
My level 8 Gnome Cleric had +17 Spellcraft on account of 8 ranks, +2 Int, +1 from a trait, and Skill Focus. She crafted the monk a Monk's Robe without being high enough level or knowing the right spell, with no chance of failure because you can take 10s on spellcraft. Is it supposed to be this easy?
I assumed it was a design choice by Paizo. I like it, I found it annoying that PCs couldn’t craft magic items in the early versions of D&D. Also it gives PCs an avenue to spend wealth on something besides castles and towers.
I’m all for giving the fighter extra abilities, not so much for balance reasons, more to make them more interesting.
I’m prepared to accept that for some gaming tables Pathfinder feels like players are in competition with each other in the sense that weaker characters have less agency than more powerful ones. The powerful wizard might hog the limelight over the lowly fighter even though they are supposed to cooperate. In those cases players could agree with each other on guidelines for character builds that keep characters more or less equivalent. But, I suspect that for every table that wants equivalent classes there is a table that likes the power disparity and the challenges that presents.
The extrapolation is wrong because the underlying premise is false. D&D was designed as a cooperative game in shared storytelling, not as a competition between players. As far as I can tell Pathfinder follows the same philosophy. In no game I’ve played was a winner declared after the session. The wizard character may be significantly more powerful than the fighter but it is irrelevant because their goal is not to defeat the fighter, it is to cooperate with the fighter to overcome challenges set by the GM.
Whether individual GMs “softball” is an entirely unrelated issue, but in my opinion both PCs and NPCs tend to be unrealistically aggressive in games. No intelligent creature deliberately puts themselves into kill or be killed situations without very good reason. One of my favourite enemies are Tucker’s Kobolds, which are loosely inspired by the tactics of the Viet Cong. They fight to defend their home, they don’t go looking for trouble. They use scouts to gauge the strength of their enemy. They rely on traps and ambushes to vanquish foes and run away at the first sign of any real danger. At all times survival is their first priority, they may take the opportunity to kill a downed foe, but only if doing so poses no danger to themselves.
It is interesting to read through necro’d threads. This one has many familiar arguments so perhaps I read it when it was originally posted six years ago.
I don’t agree with the premise of the opening post, in thirty plus years of gaming in dozens of different RPG systems I’ve rarely felt like it was character vs character or player vs player. In other words the mechanics are independent of the overarching goal.
As a thought experiment if you played monopoly where the goal was to make sure every player doubled their starting money within a time limit but the underlying mechanics were the same then you change it from player vs player to cooperative. There are modern board games that do just that, take familiar player vs player type mechanics and flip them on their head by simply changing the goal. The goal is what is important, not the mechanics. The genius of Gary Gygax was creating this revolutionary change in game philosophy.
If it doesn’t suit your campaign for outsiders to teleport at will then just remove it. From memory 5e demons and devils can’t teleport at will and it works just fine.
If you want an in game reason why the have the ability and don’t use it all the time, then perhaps overuse drains their power and turns them into the next weaker demon or devil. If on the other hand you want to increase in power, and of course they all want to, then they have to use teleport sparingly.
As to why demons and devils don’t simply wander around killing innocents, well possibly that just creates more angels. Angels whose first mission is to take down the devil that slew them. Better make sure these mortals are corrupted before they die. Souls are valuable!