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Name of PC: Brunkel
Class/Level: 3rd level goblin rogue (yes, based on the goblin rogue from Thistletop supposedly killed in Sandpoint)
Adventure: The Skinsaw Murders
Catalyst: Not being as sneaky as he thought he was
Story: So, after mucking about in the Foxglove Mansion for a while and experiencing a couple of the haunts, Brunkel fails his save on the haunt in the den that has him suddenly believing he is a mother desperately trying to save his/her child (randomly determined to be the dwarven cleric Tungdil), and pulls Tungdil along outside to the ruined outbuilding. Tungdil goes along because he is curious where the haunt is taking Brunkel and why. The rest of the party trails along. Cue carrionstorms, which Brunkel takes the brunt of, but which everyone survives easily enough. Then the party decides the ghost must have been trying to tell them something and decides to go down the well, sending Brunkel, who was only partially healed from the carrionstorms, down first. After he and Spider, the monk, get down, and while the others are still coming down the rope, one by one, Brunkel decides to take advantage of his darkvision and explore, leaving Spider alone in the dark (Brunkel had the light source in his pack). He gets to the ghoulish dire bat room, spots the critter hanging from the ceiling, but doesn't know what it is. He decides that he will try and sneak past it to explore a bit more. He rolls a 3 on his Stealth. Direbats have pretty good Perception scores. He is detected and it attacks and puts him down in two rounds, long before Spider or anyone else can come to his rescue. Moral of this story - don't try to sneak past a bat in the dark, and don't leave the only person who can help you quickly without a light source.

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Did anyone else's group use the Sihedron Medallion to preserve the giant hermit crab in the bottom level of Thistletop after they killed it so that they could transport and sell the crabmeat? Yes, I know the crab doesn't really have a head or a neck to hang the medallion around, but the idea is so fun that I had to let it go. So how much meat would a five foot wide hermit crab produce and how much do you think they could sell it for? My initial SWAG is about 150 lbs and they could sell it for maybe 50GP. I might hint broadly to them, however, that their popularity in town would go up tremendously if they donated it and had the Rusty Dragon chefs cook it up for the town for free.

Only my group's first response to this encounter would be: "How much melted butter are we going to need to go with that thing?"

My nomination for quickest character death in S&S, perhaps in any AP. My fighter, Jericho, a brutally strong and headstrong young falcata specialist, took offense to being press-ganged and went after Scourge with his fists right after waking up. Scourge summoned help, and Jericho criticaled one of the pirates with his first punch, cracking his skull and killing him instantly. He didn't mean to kill him, just didn't know his own Strength. Plugg and Scourge then had him beaten unconscious and tossed overboard to drown for breaking the pirate's code against killing shipmates (or at least against getting caught doing it), and as an example to prevent further disobedience.

Enter the calmer and wiser Bron, my Inquisitor back-up character. Literally 20 minutes into the campaign and I was on my second character. I'll never let Tom tell me I'm a brutal DM ever again! I did kill one of his characters once on the first night of a campaign (separated from the party and tried to flee beast cultists on foot on his own, bad mistake) but never in the first half hour!

Just started. One of the more "unique" parties for our pretty conservative group. I'm playing this time rather than GMing, and we're having fun. Here's our lineup:

Bron "Cookie" - NG Human Inquisitor, a former slave who has vowed vengeance on all slavers and slave-owners. For some reason chosen as cook, and instantly became very popular in crew with an outstanding and lucky success making "rat stew". Morally conflicted about being a pirate, and will likely push group toward targeting only those who "deserve it".

Viviana "Bluelocks" - CG Gnome Summoner with a toothy amphibious eidolon. Icky the Eidolon has been very useful and will probably eventually be our best melee combatant.

Ryan "Ragdoll" - N Human Wizard Scrollmaster. Mostly has distinguished himself thus far by getting knocked unconscious repeatedly, both in melee and from punishment.

Ripley "Frogface" - CG Grippli Gunslinger. Fire support and occasional creative tongue deployment.

Vivanca "Swimmy Elfy" - CN Aquatic Elf Bard. Most dextrous party member. Bit of a showoff and good sailor. Not known for her courage.

Kriton "Magoo" - N Human Magus. Strongest member of party and currently best melee combatant.

Gordon "Doodad" - N Human Druid. Still hasn't chosen an animal companion.

Haven't mutinied yet, so no captain chosen. I think Bron, Vivanca and Kriton may all want it.

Party is heavy on spellchuckers, and will probably eventually be pretty potent, but still learning to work well together. Weak in healing and melee power, but that will likely improve rapidly with levels.

The real problem with point buy is that it is un-American and Communist! Communist, I tell you! Did they teach you this "all characters have to be equal" at the same time they taught you to sing "The Internationale"? Where's Joe McCarthy when you need him? We need to get these dangerous foreign ideas out of a red-blooded American hobby like RPGs before they infect our kids and lead to all kinds of shocking behavior.

I'm starting my list of posters on this board that are just a little too pinko for my liking!

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Just go with the flow and give it a try. Sounds like you had a generous rolling system that allows for generally higher, if non-optimized stats. In the end, it is n't stats that determine how memorable a character is, but rather how you play them. The stats are just a part of the structure on which you build a character.

In general point buy appeals to:
-- young whippersnappers whose youths were corrupted by WoW and anime :)
-- players for whom balance within the party is very important
-- players who come to the table with a specific concept in mind that they want to play
-- players who enjoy optimization
-- GMs who want to have a predicatble level of power for the PCs

In general rolling appeals to:
-- old farts like me who can't get over their "glory days" :)
-- players who welcome more randomness into their character creation and the resulting wider spread of stat arrays and could care less about absolute balance within the party
-- players who are happy to play whatever character the die roll produces rather than having a single concept in mind
-- players who dislike playing or feeling like they are being forced to play characters with dump stats
-- GMs who are comfortable with adjusting encounters to relfect the resultant PC power

As you may guess, I personally prefer rolling for characters, for a wide variety of reasons. That doesn't mean point buy is bad or wrong. It just appeals to a different type of person than I am.

Absolutely necessary in our brutal campaigns, or we would have a ton more PC deaths. Healing is no longer the dominant/primary role of clerics during combat, but it remains necessary in many tougher fights.

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Ichigeki wrote:

As to spell slots, it doesn't really matter. Remember how I said,"begin preparing to eliminate the threat and build up their defenses"? well I meant it, and it seems like a lot of posters are having trouble with that concept. They can take as long as they want to set up the perfect scenario and spell list to deal with the issue. Heck, maybe they'll even torment their target with the nightmare spell for a week. Or two. Or a year. While they craft a golem to teleport in with them. And send planar bound outsider assassins at them. etc. etc. etc.

If, in a high level game, you are consistently able to be successful with these tactics and your opponents never develop effective counter-measures, your GM has the game on the Easy setting for you.

Remember, high level characters face high level, powerful foes with significant resources. Many of them have superhuman intelligence scores as well. Safe to assume that their opponents are also planning and preparing. The U.S. military has a saying, as true in PF as it is combat: the enemy gets a vote. That doesn't mean the PCs will never get the jump on their opponents, it just means they won't always get the jump on their opponents. In fact, some times their opponents will get the jump on them, and given the extreme lethality of high-level contact, that can mean a lot of dead PCs.

Weirdo wrote:
roguerogue wrote:
Do not play a wizard, a witch, a cleric, or a druid the first time out. Look at the thickness of the Player's Handbook. See how thick it is? You'll need to know most of it if you play a prepared spell caster. If you want to play a caster, play a spontaneous caster.
Got to disagree with this one. My first three characters were a wizard, cleric/rogue, and druid. Spontaneous casters are a bit easier, but prepared casters aren't too hard. Not every spell is going to be on your list, and you only have to worry about learning one new spell level at a time. You can easily go over spells when you level and divide them into always-useful spells (Mage Armour, Bless), situational spells (Entangle for areas with vegetation, Endure Elements if you're headed into desert or arctic) and ones that you can safely ignore because you will probably never actually need them (Hold Portal). It helps to stick to the CRB and/or have a more experienced player explain the spells when you level. Then you prepare spells off your short list - which for a wizard or witch is your spellbook/familiar. You can also make a "typically prepared spells" list with a few holes in it for situational stuff, which I do anyway as an experienced player to save time. Are you occasionally going to have a sub-optimal set of prepared spells, or forget about some obscure situational spell that a more experienced player might be able to apply? Yes. But you can be a competent prepared caster without making optimal use of your spell list.

Agreed, particularly if you are starting at first level, which I would recommend. The level of systems mastery needed for any type of character at first level is very manageable, but the learning curb gets steeper as the levels go up. Jumping into a game at any level higher than 5 or 6 is much more difficult, as characters have so many options on what they can do. This is doubly true for spellcasters, and triply so for those who must prepare their spells. Still doable, but will require much more investment of time out of game. Sounds like OP is doing that anyway, though.

Orfamay Quest wrote:
Atarlost wrote:

If your party is appropriately optimized and your GM is using CRs appropriate to your APL (or your unoptimized or overoptimized and the GM is adjusting appropriately) and you're near dead without a low probability crit or similar bad luck your opponent should be within one round of average attacks of going down. If it's a multi-opponent encounter and the CR system is being used Or this is an epic boss and will be on its last legs after dropping you and your friends can afford a raise dead before the next adventure. Close fights that the PCs ultimately win are exactly what the CR system is designed to facilitate.

There's a lot wrong with this analysis, starting with the fact that not all GMs use CRs appropriate to a particular level (especially in a sandbox or open-ended environment). Even if they do, the guidelines specifically state that a party should be able to defeat a monster of CR if they use appropriate tactics, which of course include retreating, regrouping, rebuffing, and trying again with a situation-optimized load. The same guidelines also suggest a mix of challenge ratings, including some that are above the party's level. (Personally, I think this makes sense precisely to mix things up and keep them interesting.)

But beyond that,... combat is a lot more swingy than you seem to imagine. If you're one round from being killed (and the BBEG isn't dead yet), the chances are almost equal that the BBEG is one round, two rounds, or three rounds away, and there's a fair sporting chance that he's four or more rounds from being killed. In the long run, on average, the BBEG is close to dead --- but that's an average over many hypothetical fights including the ones that you took no damage at all. Once we've established that this isn't a fight that you're winning, the odds are that this particular fight is one that you're losing, and you should react accordingly....

Couldn't have said it better myself. Trusting completely to math and averages in games where outcomes are determined by the roll of a 20-sided die is questionable, in my opinion. Back to the old axiom: anticipate success, but plan for failure. If you fail to do the latter, you are going to have a lot more characters die than you need to.

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Just a few simple guidelines that if someone follows, they will always be welcome in my game:

1) Don't disrupt the game - lots of ways to do that, ranging from loud off-topic conversations or cell phone calls while other people are taking their turns to long bouts of rules-lawyering to getting distracted on the Internet so you aren't ready when it is your turn to ... well, you get the picture.

2) Be a good teammate - avoid PvP behavior unless the entire table rocks that way. Work to make sure others can shine and succeed, not just to make your own character look awesome. Don't try to steal someone else's thunder by trying to be better at what they are trying to be good at. Remember that the game is designed to be a team activity and you win or lose as a team, not as individuals. Help folks out who are struggling, either with the rules or with in-game challenges. Make sure everyone gets their share of the RP spotlight (if they want it, some don't).

3) Come prepared and stay prepared - don't make others wait excessively for you to pick your spells or find the feat in the rulebook you want to use, or deide what you are going to do that round. Know your character and his capabilities so someone doesn't have to remind you that, a a paladin, it might be a good idea to use your smite power on that demon.

4) Give your character some personality. You don't have to be a mehtod actor or scenery-chewing ham, but make your character something more than a name and a set of numbers on a page. Give them a background and connections to the rest of the world like family or friends or enemies. Give them likes and dislikes. Give them some favorite phrases or sayings. Anything to make them memorable (not obnoxiously so).

5) Find a GM you trust and then, well, trust him. Give him the benefit of the doubt if you don't understand something. If it really bothers you, talk to him about it later rather than arguing about during game time.

Atarlost wrote:

It's not even drawing to an inside straight. It's drawing to a bunch of blank cards. Your hand is your opponent's hitpoints and you shouldn't know what those are unless you're looking at the GM's notes.

If you run you probably die now. If you attack maybe he dies after your first iterative with no crits needed. Maybe he's actually down to single digit hitpoints. Maybe if you don't manage to kill him before his next turn the cleric does. Or maybe he finally flubs a save and you get to coup de grace him next round.

If the GM is estimating difficulty correctly for a "close fight" the enemy should be getting close to dead about the time it's getting close to killing a player.

Not a valid analogy. In poker, you never know what your opponents cards are. You only know your own. In this case, your hand looks like a loser. Your opponent's hand might be just as bad as yours, but do you want to bet on that? I don't.

Making the assumption that the encounter must be balanced and therefore your opponent should be just about to fall because you are is a dangerous bit of metagaming that I wouldn't advise.

All that said, when I GM I regularly give hints to players to let them know if their opponent seems likely to fall soon. "He's wobbling after that last hit", or "He laughs off that feeble blow and attacks with undiminished fury." I'm sure many other GMs do the same to help their players make smart tactical decisions about whether to run or fight.

Sargonoth wrote:

The problem is that MAD and min maxing are interrelated and intertwined with a change in how campaigns have evolved

In early D&D you spent the majority of the adventures GETTING to the BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy/Girl/Gestalt)or doing random dungeon crawls. Having a character that could do 1 thing and only 1 thing meant that they were dead weight the majority of the time (carry the mage in a backpack so he can launch the fireball at the right time). The encounters were varied and the needs widespread. The only way to make this happen was if everyone was at least competent in fighting, surviving, fulfill another role, etc. Think of it as a jam session

The current way of D&D/PF is an optimized team which goes from set encounter to set encounter. The encounters are designed to have a full team that interacts with each other like clockwork. Think of it as a symphony which constantly practices

MAD and Min Maxing
Given the need to have an optimized team, you need to create an optimized character. Using a point buy system, you can usually only optimize 1 or 2 stats. A MAD character cannot optimize in all their stats since they have more stats that need to be high. Min Maxing is the only way to maybe allow for 3 stats to be high enough (since it takes 7 points to get to 15 in a single stat and 10 points to get to 16 in a single stat, you are build point starved). Thus you have to take huge negative somewhere to get the points.

Unfortunately, this leads to characters who are referred to by their abilities instead of their character makeup (e.g. " Heaven's Oracle" -designed to colour spray), "Greatsword with organic counterweight" - designed to power attack and only power attack", "Lightning Blade aka Magus" -designed to deliver a maximized shocking grasp). If you want to create interesting characters that are not optimized, then you need to make sure you get in with a group which shares your philosophy since the PF system is really focused upon optimized characters

Have to disagree with you here. While the 3.5/PF system certainly made optimizing easier and more tempting than previous versions, the game is not designed to make optimization the only or best way to play.

PF in particular was designed to support the adventure paths and vice versa. Take a look at the adventure paths and the sample characters they include. Definitely not optimized. Take a look at the encounters in them - definitely not challenging for an optimized party.

So it seems that the general system, including the CR system, is actually designed with the casual gamer who doesn't want to or is not willing to put the effort in to optimize (not that it is all that hard with all the advice out there on various builds). Talk to most GMs that have optimized groups, and they will tell you they have to beef up the CRs of encounters quite a bit off the standard to remain challenging.

My memories of AD&D were a bit different, although your overall portrayal isn't bad. Parties were assumed to be larger, for one thing. The default assumption was six, rather than four. That allowed for more specialization. Our "classic" party that we found worked best was one thief, one magic-user, one cleric, and three fighter/ranger/paladins. Combat was important, but less of a dominant factor than now, and a group could usually get away with carrying one or two characters that weren't that good in a fight, like the classic halfling thief, because they were so good at other things.

Orfamay Quest wrote:
awp832 wrote:

Exactly. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't, that's the entire point of what I'm trying to bring up. You can either make a full attack and just maybe get a lucky critical and do enough damage to bring down the enemy, or you can try to run and lose for sure.

If I'm playing a game of poker for my life and I have the option of trying to draw an inside straight or folding and losing for sure, I try to draw the inside straight.

I think I'd love to play poker with you.

You're doing the odds wrong. If you're in any sensible combat, especially one that you're losing, the odds of you scoring a "lucky critical" are less than 10%; the chance of taking an additional hit are four or five times greater. Furthermore, if you can disengage you have a chance of escaping next round, but if you stay, you are guaranteed not to move and almost certainly going to be faced with the same dilemma next round, only with even fewer hit points.

To continue the poker metaphor, you're not just drawing to the inside straight. You're raising on an inside straight, making the stakes higher while chasing what you know to be a bad bet.

Hey, I saw the patsy first. If anyone's playing poker with him, I am.

To continue the poker metaphor, the mistake was in betting your life on that inside straight to begin with. Converting to PF, it was in putting your character in an untenable position. That said, everyone makes tactical mistakes occasionally or sometimes just gets unlucky. Then you have to either get creative with your tactics, as TOZ suggests, or call for an assist from a buddy, like holding action until someone else can cover your retreat with a timely spell or a physical intervention, and then fleeing.

In pure poker terms, by the way, raising on an inside straight is actually better than calling. You have to raise big, though, as it is essentially a bluff. You really don't want to be called, because barring a lucky draw, you have a losing hand. Bluffing in the poker sense doesn't translate all that well to the PF world. Although now that I think about it...

TriOmegaZero wrote:
awp832 wrote:
Exactly. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't, that's the entire point of what I'm trying to bring up. You can either make a full attack and just maybe get a lucky critical and do enough damage to bring down the enemy, or you can try to run and lose for sure.
If you've let yourself get to or been forced to the point where one more hit will drop you, and you're hoping for the crit to drop him, you're better off hoping for a high combat maneuver check to trip or disarm him so you can run while he either cannot hit you or cannot immediately chase you.

Now that is sound tactical thinking. I think you've done this before.

awp832 wrote:
Brian Bachman wrote:
creatures with 15' reach AND Combat Relexes aren't that common.

All it takes is 10' reach to make withdrawl a non-option, as you will not be able to not provoke an AoO as you leave their threatened area. Combat reflexes is icing on the cake.

I definitely disagree that if you are down to the point where 1 more hit takes you out that you got there because of player error. Two sessions ago my character went from having max HP + temporary hp on his initiative to dead before he got another turn. He got nailed by 2 AoEs and then criticaled. Retreat was never an option for me.

We disagree, then. I think if you have gotten to the pint that one normal hit will kill you, then you've stayed too long.

That said, crits happen, and failed saves happen, so sometimes your attempt to disengage fails. That doesn't mean it was the wrong move, though.

Orfamay Quest wrote:

Lots of good stuff, but particularly the point about breaking discipline.

Fully agree. When players play their characters as individuals, trying to optimize what each individual can do in each round, that discipline fails miserably and the characters are more at risk. someitmes you have to do what is bets for the team not for your individual character, such as focusing attacks on particular enemies ratehr than shotgunning them out, and making sure melee brutes have no clear path to charge a spellcaster. If all someone is out for is the maximum glory that they can earn and the maximum damage they can do each round, they are failing in their responsibilities to the team.

So, yeah, for that guy, who has charge across the entire room to score a kill and now is surrounded and has no path to the exit, retreat is no longer an option. Or rather it is an option that he rejected consciously or subconsciously when he charged in.

awp832 wrote:

awp832 wrote:

2. Attacks of Opportunity will kill you. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a tight spot, I know one more round of attack and my character is dead... but how can I run? Unless I've maxed acrobatics and am in light armor, one hit from an AoO will kill my character. Running is not an option, especially vs monsters with reach and/or combat reflexes.
Full withdrawal action does not provoke AoOs. Period. A lot of people forget this...
This is not actually true. Full withdrawl means you don't provoke for the first five feet. If a monster has reach, they can still kill you with an AoO.

Agreed, or at least that is the way I play it. However, all that really means is you waited too long to retreat. If you can't absorb one AoO, you should have been gone before that. And creatures with 15' reach AND Combat Relexes aren't that common. Against those few edge cases, I agree that retreat becomes a pretty poor option.

The black raven wrote:

I agree with the OP that, in my experience, an efficient retreat with average PCs (ie not built specifically to retreat) requires GM's fiat.

The RAW makes it far more efficient to keep on fighting in the hope of landing a killing critical than retreating.

Too bad that many GMs want players to play smart (or "old-skool style") by meeting an enemy they just cannot beat and then retreat.

And those same GMs, ignoring the fact that the RAW push the players to keep on fighting, will lay the blame on the players and come to the board whining about nowadays' entitled players who were spoiled by too easy videogames ...

Would you like to play poker with me sometime?

Because what you are proposing, staying in a fight you are losing hoping to get a lucky critical to turn the tide, has an equivalent in poker. It's called drawing to an inside straight, and is a good way to lose a lot of money.

Following these tactics in PF is a good way to lose a lot of characters.

But, hey, if you insist it's smart, the poker invitation is open. I could use some more money for my daughters' college funds.

Delthyn wrote:

To answer the OP: (avoiding the vital strike mess...seriously, that feat...what a mess...)

I simply don't allow Ninjas in the majority of my campaigns for the same reason that I ban monks, samurai, gunslingers, etc. They don't fit a medieval swords and sorcery style game. Having ninjas in a "standard" Pathfinder game would be like having an illiterate, technophobic, smashing stuff-prone barbarian in a steampunk game. Or a wizard in a Star Trek game. Or whatever.

As to balance, first you must fix the fact that the wizard makes the rogue redundant before you can get around to balancing rogue vs. ninja. To give you some examples:

Invisibility eliminates Stealth. Feather Fall, Levitate, and Fly eliminate Acrobatics. Knock hurts Disable Device. Fly + Invisibility destroys trapfinding. Detect Secret Doors hurts Perception. Comprehend Languages destroys Linguistics. Summon Monster I destroys trapfinding. Freedom of Movement destroys escape artist.

I could go on, but you probably get the point. Why be like Jack Sparrow or Robin Hood and make a risky, daring attempt to infiltrate the castle, when you could just cast fly, invisibility, and use a wand of knock, and completely eliminate the castle. Or maybe just use arcane eye and dimension door to pop right into the evil bad guy's lair, bypassing all his minions.

I personally would prefer to be Jack Sparrow, but then again, playing Jack Sparrow isn't optimized, is it?

Let's look at this logically. If a wizard uses magic to usurp the traditional role of the rogue/ninja, and this is self-evidently a better option than having an actual rogue/ninja, then wouldn't there be a plethora of wizards using such tactics to infiltrate BBEG strongholds, and a minimum of actual rogue/ninjas? Therefore, wouldn't those BBEGs, who aren't stupid themselves, and have access to considerable resources because they are a BBEG, then design special traps/defenses to counter those efforts?

To put it bluntly, if fly, invisibility and knock become the best ways to infiltrate, then defenses against those methods would naturally evolve and become more common. And if rogues/ninjas are less of a threat, then proportionally less effort would be made to defend against them. If in your game, those simple spells/tactics consistently work and the BBEGs never change tactics to adjust, that's poor encounter design or a GM determined to keep the game on the Easy setting.

So Jack Sparrow, Robin Hood, the Gray Mouser, Bilbo Baggins and their ilk will never truly go out of style.

I'd stick in my two cents for Mud Sorcerer's Tomb as well, which I agree was clearly inspired by the classic Tomb of Horrors.

I haven't read or run the 3.5 remake of ToH, but the original was hands down the most deadly dungeon ever published. While I can't say everyone loved it, it definitely made an impression on everyone that has ever played it. To say you survived and bested the BBEG at the end is a source of gamer pride still 35 years later.

Just the fact gamers are still talking about that module 35 years after the fact makes me question whether the 3.X/PF designers did the right thing in deemphasizing/nerfing traps and puzzles.

For a slightly different suggestion, you might want to check out the very popular Challenge of Champions series in Dungeon magazine. No combat at all, really, just puzzle solving. Each of them makes a great one or two night change of pace for a group.

Augment Summoning, for me, falls in the "nice to have", rather than "have to have" category for any spellcaster who doens't intend to concentrrate on summoning. It is one of a variety of attractive options to choose from, no one of which is the "right" answer for all characters.

I agree with DM that a couple of summoning spells (cast, not just prepared) is pretty significant though. I think that if that were the way it was playing out in game for me, I'd probably take it eventually.

Rhinox wrote:
Brian Bachman wrote:

Simple question: are you enjoying the game even with the change?

An involuntary alignment change can be a lot of fun or a game-wrecker. I reserve judgment on your GM until i know if you're haivng fun or not. He may have judged you to be the type of player who can handle such an thing, enjoy it and use it to create an even more awesome story. Or he may just be trying to create intra-party conflict for his own amusement, which is not cool.

Highly commend you for talking with your GM and finding out as much as possible about this change and how he expects you to roleplay it.

One key question is whether this change is permanent and irreversible, or whether your character can "fight" it? Sounds like the latter to me, from what little you have posted, but find out for sure.

If it is the former, it is perfectly within your rights to say that you no longer wish to play that character. Or you can just roll with it and enjoy being bad. Not my cup of tea, but some folks enjoy it.

If it is the latter, sounds like a great RP opportunity to me. Lots of epic stories out there about folks trying to be heroic despite their sinful natures.

As for the paladin, Icyshadow is absolutely correct that he shouldn't feel any compulsion to kill you even if he does discover the lignment change. Rather, as a former trusted comrade, he should be dedicated to your redemption. He...

I am quite enjoying the game as a whole, I am just slightly confused as to what is happening to my character specifically. As I said, there are a lot of complexities involved, and so I am worried for his future depending on the specifics of his situation.

One thing I do know: Originally after the shift, I asked if the alignment could be changed back, and he told me he couldn't tell me because it would be metagaming. In character I don't know if I will ever be the same, and so OOC he wants me to find out as I go, it seems. But once again, I need to talk to him to ask more specific questions and...

Glad you're enjoying the game and hope it continues. I also yield to you on your roleplaying ideas regarding your relationship with the paladin. Makes it a tougher road for your character if he has to go it alone without support, but tough roads are what heroes are made for.

With regard to what the GM told you, I understand where he is coming from, but that wouldn't be a sufficient answer for me. I don't enjoy playing evil characters, and if my character were ever irrevocably changed to evil, it simply wouldn't be fun for me and I'd want to create a new character, just as I would do if the character died. Frankly, I would prefer that my character was simply killed, rather than changed into something that is a danger to my friends and innocent bystanders. However, that's me, and if the character is still fun for you, probably not a problem.

I would note, though, that the GM is straying into dangerous territory with a unilateral and involuntary alignment change for a PC. Such things, if they are frequent and not appreciated by the players, can absolutely wreck a game. So, if it seems that the alignment change is irreversible and it ceases to be fun for you, I'd be honest with the GM about it and try to work out a solution.

Whether retreat is a viable option depends on both the players and how they have prepared for contingencies, and on the GM and how he plays adversaries and the campaign in general.

Some campaigns are such (Kingmaker is a good example) that the players will inevitably run into things they cannot defeat in battle. That can be a shock and lead to TPKs if players are overconfident that the GM will never throw anything at them that they cannot defeat. So if it is such a campaign in which not everything encountered is tailored to be manageable for the party, the GM needs to let people know ahead of time.

If the GM does let them know that, then it is incumbent on the players to plan accoridngly, and leave themselves escape routes either through proper preparation of spells and items, good tactical planning or even character creation.

As for the GM, my belief is that different types of adversaries should be treated in different ways. Not every fight is a no-holds barred death match where one side or the other is going home in a bag. Many creatures, particularly if they are wounded, will be more than happy to just drive the party out of their lair and lick their own wounds. Intelligent opponents will think carefully about whether pursuit is worth the risk, and may be leery of being drawn into a trap. And of course, all sorts of opponents will try to escape themselves rather than fight to the death when clearly outmatched.

As GM, I personally have lots of opponents, in the very first round, decide the odds are not in their favor and bug out to come back again when they can reverse the balance of power (or think they can). If they are intelligent, then they probably already have escape routes and contingencies (not just the spell) arranged for when things start to go south. I would expect PCs to do the same. As they say, anticipate success, but plan for failure.

Rhinox wrote:

So here's the deal:

I've been playing as a Halfling Bard in a non-evil campaign. I was kidnapped by a Shadow Demon and interrogated, and long story short I walked out as a Half-Fiend Halfling with my alignment shifted from CG to NE.

I want to try and get back to at least neutral, but is that even possible? I know the template states evil alignment, but I am not sure if that's designed for NPC's or what.

This is especially an issue because I have a paladin in the group, who will be forced to kill me if he manages to find a way through the alignment concealment and discovers I am currently evil.

Simple question: are you enjoying the game even with the change?

An involuntary alignment change can be a lot of fun or a game-wrecker. I reserve judgment on your GM until i know if you're haivng fun or not. He may have judged you to be the type of player who can handle such an thing, enjoy it and use it to create an even more awesome story. Or he may just be trying to create intra-party conflict for his own amusement, which is not cool.

Highly commend you for talking with your GM and finding out as much as possible about this change and how he expects you to roleplay it.

One key question is whether this change is permanent and irreversible, or whether your character can "fight" it? Sounds like the latter to me, from what little you have posted, but find out for sure.

If it is the former, it is perfectly within your rights to say that you no longer wish to play that character. Or you can just roll with it and enjoy being bad. Not my cup of tea, but some folks enjoy it.

If it is the latter, sounds like a great RP opportunity to me. Lots of epic stories out there about folks trying to be heroic despite their sinful natures.

As for the paladin, Icyshadow is absolutely correct that he shouldn't feel any compulsion to kill you even if he does discover the lignment change. Rather, as a former trusted comrade, he should be dedicated to your redemption. He should definitely be keeping an eye on you, though, and wokr to prevent you from acting evil.

Here's an idea to consider. Maybe your character could go to the paladin privately, explain what happened and that you do not wish to be evil, and ask for his help in controlling your evil urges and finding a way to redemption. That way he has an awesome roleplaying opportunity as well, and your road to redemption can be a major plot thread.

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MaestroVolpe wrote:

Okay, so what I'm really hearing from all of you is that ALL of my fears are hugely confirmed.

Rogues/Ninjas are collectively seen as completely fungible, mostly useless in combat and therefore unwanted, and nobody likes a character with a well-rounded set of abilities because apparently min/maxing is the only way to go.

This does not sound like a tabletop RPG I would enjoy.

Which is a pity, this game sounded like it would be awesome.

Don't give up so soon.

These boards are heavily populated with people who are deeply into optimization and very judgmental about anything less than completely optimal, usually in a purely mechanical, heavily combat-focused sense.

Some of the optimizers are broad-minded enough to realize that the way they play is not the only way there is to play, while others are stubbornly resistant to the radical concept that different groups can and do play the game in diffewrent ways and love to throw around terms like "MAD", "gimped", "useless", etc. about anything that doesn't meet their own definition of a strong character.

They are useful to listen to only if you intend to play in/run an optimized game, or if your existing group begins to optimize. If you aren't, ignore them.

Be assured it is still more than possible to play PF in any style you and your group wants, and many, many people out there are playing rogues, fighters, monks and other less than optimal characters happily and could care less that their choice was "not optimal". Many times, those characters end up being the most effective and memorable in their games because in the end, it is a how a character is played that truly determines its success, not the numbers on the stat sheet.

Jeven wrote:
The black raven wrote:

I am amazed that people are so into the fluff of the Bard (and the core one at that) that they just can't get past it to check what the crunch actually is (ie, the RAW).

The focus on the fluff makes some of the crunch appear non-sensical and people have questions that should not be, by RAW. And I find this a bit frustrating.
However, at the same time, I have some fondness for people being so enthusiastic for the fluff of the class. Someone did a very good job here.

Visualizing a scene is also part of role-playing. The mechanics are the building blocks, but they are all meant to represent something which can be imagined (when you wish to).

I think the mechanics work best when they work harmoniously with our imagination.


RPGs are, at their core, about group storytelling, and the most memorable sessions are those in which everyone becomes immersed in the action and can visualize it happening. So I have no problem with someone who is troubled when the "crunch" and the "fluff" don't synch together to well and damage the level of immersion for that person.

That said, I don't share the same problem, as I have pretty much always visualized bards as either singing, talking or joking their way through fights and situations in a way that irritates the crap out of the bad guys and inspires their friends, and only playing their instruments during non-combat sessions.

I agree that the way the rules are now, unless the fluff is handwaved as unimportant (which a lot of people seem to do), seem to discourage the classic instrument-playing bard. I think the reason why is quite obvious. The developers wanted to make the bard a more powerful and mechanically interesting character class to play, and decided that was important enough to sacrifice the instrument-playing bard, at least for those people who can't just handwave the fluff and maintain immersion.

I'd have to agree with the developers' choice, from a purely mechanical perspective.

One last comment. While I agree that a bard character can probably be quite effective without a single rank in Perform, I find that kind of character sort of cheesy. Perform is the classic skill of the Bard, and if you don't have it in abundance, you're just not a Bard to me. I would suggest the developers find ways to make the Perform skill integral to the class again, perhaps in the same way Spellcraft is for casters.

Avh wrote:
That's why the game has a GM. So he/she can interpret the rules and make calls when they are unclear. So, in the absence of specific language in the rules defining the outcome of a proposed action or an FAQ answer from Paizo staff, it works if the GM, drawing on his experience, says it works. That's not house rules, that's how the game functions.

I agree with you. But what about PFS scenarios ? They are ruled by RAW/official FAQ, and the DM does NOT have the right to interpret rules in such games : they MUST apply it to the letter. And for that, there must be an agreement of how the action works BY THE RULES. The sentence "Your DM will find a way", or "You're the DM, put your pants on and tell how it works at your table" doesn't work with those.

I interpret things when I'm home, or when I don't know how it works, or when I'm not satisfied with the official ruling. But we are on the official Paizo forum, and by such, posters look for the rules to be clarified/explained by official rules, not to be told : "Hey guys, you don't know how it works ? DM's call". If it was the case, such forum wouldn't even exist.

There is a forum for houserules, and one for advice. There is also a forum for Rules questions.

I do not play PFS, so will defer to those that do, but it has never been my impression that PFS GMs do not have any discretion on interpretation of the rules. Frankly, I don't believe such would even be possible, given how many areas in the rules are unclear (and some of them deliberately so). I also have never believed that there can ever be such a thing as a RAW-only game, for reasons I've previously stated. Certainly some tables, and PFS as a whole, try to hold closer to the RAW than others, but the RAW simply does not suffice to run a game. No matter how many rules you write, imaginative players will always figure out some plan that is not accounted for in those rules. I've been GMing for 35 years and virtually everyu session my players will come up with something new that I would never have foreseen (and neither would the designers) in a million years. Part of what makes it fun.

Also, I know some people wish it wasn't so, but GM makes the call is RAW itself, and thus appropriate for forum discussion. In fact the very nature of these forum arguments, which tend to showcase variety of opinion and playstyle far more often than they ever come to unanimous conclusions when someone "wins" the argument, tend to support my argument.

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Most I've ever done is ten in a prty and that was AD&D, which was less complicated to run (less rules, less player/GM options to choose from in combat and other scenarios, more GM determines what happens). I run for 7 now, and it was 8 previously. I probably wouldn't choose to do 12, but I think it is doable.

It requires more GM preparation and I would suggest a stronger GM disciplinary hand.

-- Have prepared tactics ahead of time for all encounters, including some contingencies.
-- Have an initiative board for large combats so you don't have to keep looking to see whose turn it is, also immediately note end of spells and other effects immediately on it.
-- Have your miniatures and other props pre-selected and ready to hand.
-- If possible have major encounter areas drawn out ahead of time as well on multiple battlemats
-- Look up all spells NPCs are likely to cast ahead of time, as well as any rules you aren't intimately familiar with that may come into play.
-- Prepare encounters carefully. Can't do single BBEG because of action economy, unless you make him so formidable that he is capable of killing a character or two each round. Need lots and lots of minions.

-- Strongly enforce need for players to be prepared with what they want to do before their turn arrives. If they aren't ready, they are doing nothing until they are (e.g. still looking up a spell or feat, going to the bathroom, texting their BFF, reading OOTS online, whatever). Losing a few actions like that usually ensures it won't happen often.
-- No rules disputes or lengthy rules searches during play. GM ruling is quick and final and it can be discussed later out of game if someone has serious heartburn with it. Recognize GM will make some mistakes, but that is better than a buzz-killing 30 minute rules debate/rules research project every session.
-- Respect other players turns by avoiding loud side conversations while it is someone else's turn.
-- Don't let other players (unless there is a truly lost newbie who needs help) tell or advise someone what their character should do (unless it is in character and would fit timewise, like a fighter yelling that he could use some healing). Everybody play their own character.

-- Might want to discourage optimization. Creating challenging encounters for a 12 member party is hard enough, without it being a heavily optimized party.

This is a fun argument between people saying essentially that if the rules don't say you can't do something, then you can and those essentially arguing that if the rules don't say you can, then you can't.

Note to both sides. The rules don't say a lot of things. If the rules were written to take every conceivable contigency into acocunt, no one would be able to carry that book around, or find anything in it if they could. And the game would likely be a heck of a lot slower and less fun as everyone paused the action to search for rules every time someone tries to so something unusual.

That's why the game has a GM. So he/she can interpret the rules and make calls when they are unclear. So, in the absence of specific language in the rules defining the outcome of a proposed action or an FAQ answer from Paizo staff, it works if the GM, drawing on his experience, says it works. That's not house rules, that's how the game functions.

I realize that drives some people crazy because different GMs with different types and amounts of experience and different perspectives might interpret rules in very different ways. Oh well. Nature of the beast. If they ever get to the point where the rules are so well-defined so as not to need a GM to make rulings on stuff like this, I'll probably have to find another hobby, because this one will likely be no fun anymore.

Piccolo wrote:
Brian Bachman wrote:

sinc ethen we've just been arguing with each other about related issues because, well, it's the Internet and we all like to argue, even though our chances of convincing each other of anything is probably less than the chance of your barbarian winning the Nobel Prize for Physics.

I dunno about everyone else, but I know that I am perfectly willing, and even eager sometimes, to be convinced (assuming I agree with their logic). Already have been in several threads that I myself created.

Actually, I was engagin in a bit of hopefully humorous hyperbole. I too, have occasionally been convinced by people on the Boards, and I always learn something new from them, even if it is just info about how other people play the game differently from my group.

That said, there are a fair number of posters whom I have never seen change their positions one iota for any reason despite any argument placed before them. Thus the post.

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Well, I would have objected first to the DM rolling the stats. Seems control freakish to me, and not fun. Or an overreaction to people who amazingly always roll spectacular stats, usually when noone else is watching. Better call to just insist all stat rolls are witnessed (as I do for my daughters, the little cheaters).

However, if somehow he convinced me to go with it, I'd play them. I'd probably have a bit of an attitude, though, which would cause me to create and play that character with every ounce of optimization skill and tactical skill I could bring to the table or glean from the Internet, and roleplay my butt off to make him memorable, just to show that GM that I can overcome whatever adversity he throws at me, and still contribute. Probably would end up being pretty fun.

Very, very simple.

Win the initiative.

That's it. 4 of any type of 20th level character against a 20th level lich, if that lich rolls a 1 for initiative, he's a goner. Of course with a lich that just means he's temporarily gone unless the phylactery is destroyed, but still - combat over, good guys won. Action economy strikes again.

To get more complicated, if the lich knows they are coming and has time to buff or has the right Contingency spells on him, it definitely gets harder. And, of course this is his lair, so it will likely have some defenses. If he is well-prepared, and the fighters are not, it is likely to be a slaughterbouse, but that is true of any combat scenario.

Conversely, if the martial types have tracked down his sanctum sanctorum, know where he has his phylactery and developed a clever plan to surprise him, then even more dead.

But the OP doesn't say otherwise, so I'm assuming neither side has the chance to prepare ahead of time. So comes down to initiative.

Thread refocus - away from alignment issues.

I would say the least played classes are those that are most banned, either for flavor or concerns about balance: Gunslinger, Ninja, Samurai, Monk, Summoner, Alchemist, Inquisitor.

In my group personally, the bard gets no love. I'm the only one to have played one in the last 15 years. Every other core class has been played at least a few times, although the paladin is less popular due to concerns about roleplaying and party cohesion.

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Rynjin wrote:
EldonG wrote:
Oh? A low Int is *gosh, by golly, gee whilickers* not very intelligent. RAW says so. Yes, there is justification.

"Not very intelligent" is not equivalent to "an utter f#$$ing dingus".

This is not even getting into the sheer stupidity of the "If your Int 7 Fighter isn't a gibbering moron you're just trying to be a powergaming dick and should leave my glorious (inaccurate) method acting presence" argument I've seen tossed around by multiple people in multiple threads.

Really, Rynjin? I don't know, but I guess I assume that when someone uses quotes, they are, you know, actually quoting someone, rather than indicating what they wish he/she had said because it makes their own argument stronger if they actually had said that. I call foul.

No one has said anything remotely like what you are "quoting" (that is, of course, a different use of quotation marks, indicating that I do not believe you were actually quoting anyone). We are merely stating that roleplaying is important in what is, you know, a roleplaying game. Further, we believe that the stats have meaning beyond the purely mechanical RAW, and that players should make an effort to incorporate their stats (and their character background, and their relevant skills, feats and other abilities) into their roleplaying.

I am presenting the OPINION and ADVICE (which is what the OP asked for) that to roleplay a 7 Int/7 Wis/7 Cha character with no or few knowledge or social skills to compensate for the low raw scores should be played as someone who is less intelligent, wise and charismatic than average. Because they are less intelligent, wise and charismatic than average. To expand, they should not be the character solving every riddle, should not be showing extraordinary judgment consistently, and should not be smoothly negotiating disputes on a regular basis. They may occasionally have good ideas, make good judgments or sway someone with their arguments, but that should be the exception, rather than the rule, when roleplaying that character.

I'm also willing to give the benefit of the doubt to those who argue the opposite side of the coin that they may not be a "powergaming dick" (See, that is how quotes are used accurately. You actually wrote it and I put it in quotes to show that you actually wrote it and make it distinct from what I am writing). However, I hold to my opinion that they are not roleplaying the character as accurately as they could, for whatever reason. Doesn't mean they can't/shouldn't do it that way if their whole table either agrees that roleplaying is completely independent from stats or could care less, and they are having fun. It is merely my opinion that such would not be fun or accepted in my group, or apparently, in quite a few others.

To sum up. Build whatever character (within reason) that you want to play. Develop that charactr's persona based on whatever information is available to you, including, but not limited to: backstory (best if developed jointly with or at least cleared with, the GM), stats, skills, feats, other abilities and setting. Stats is just one of many factors used to form the personality of a character, but it is, in my opinion, one of the most important ones, and is certainly one of the most concrete ones. Once you have that character built, play that characer as accurately as you can.

EldonG wrote:
Piccolo wrote:
Durngrun Stonebreaker wrote:

Your Int 3 fighter with barely human intelligence is "smarter" than my Int 20 wizard because you're level 20 and I'm level 1? So words, numbers...meaningless?
Actually, at Intelligence 5, aka 70-75 IQ, people have difficulty speaking. Therefore to be fully functional in game, you need at least a 6 Intelligence.
Supposedly, a 3 can speak. I always felt that was a bit crazy, but it's right there in the rules.

They did it for the same reason that they made all characters literate in the most recent editions, even though they haven't built a public school system or any such means for them to become literate into settings I am aware of. Because players complain about not being literate, and complain about not being able to communicate verbally with a hyper-low score. Wouldn't want players to whine even more, even if it isn't logical.

The Human Diversion wrote:
To think, I started this thread just looking for advice on how to play my int 7 barbarian.

I think you got most of that in the first page or two. sinc ethen we've just been arguing with each other about related issues because, well, it's the Internet and we all like to argue, even though our chances of convincing each other of anything is probably less than the chance of your barbarian winning the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Of course, that said, I'm right and everybody who disagrees with me is wrong. :)

Seriously, best of luck playing your barbarian. I hope he kicks serious ass.

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Sounds like your basic issue is that you don't like the feel of the game at higher levels, when it basically becomes a superhero game in which all characters, even those without magical powers, become capable of physics and reality-defying stunts. My suggestion, rather than go through the trouble of developing cumbersome house rules to deal with these "superpowers", just limit the games you play to certain levels. For example, cap them at 10. That way, you stay in your comfort zone.

For those who forcefully claim that such superhero skills are necessary to balance the reality-bending nature of casters, I would say that you need to respect the wishes of someone who doesn't want to play a superheroes game.

Certain ridiculous results possible through the skill system simply break all immersion for some people, myself included, and make the game not fun. So we will continue to say characters in full plate cannot swim, no matter what their Strength is and what the rules say, and that noone (human) can jump 20 feet vertically without artificial (magical or mechanical) assistance. Makes the game more fun for us, and we've never had a serious problem with caster/mundane imbalance due to our play style.

Weirdo wrote:
3.5 Loyalist wrote:
Slow and dumb don't apply, so I have argued. Not dumb in the sense you can match a genius with some effort and simple build; not slow in the initiative and response sense, not slow in that using your skills is not delayed by a 7 int.

You get fewer skill points per level. Your rate of gaining skill points is slower.

3.5 Loyalist wrote:
You roll like everyone else.

You roll. But you have lower odds of success than someone with a higher intelligence, all else being equal. It may not be a huge difference, but it's significant over time - in terms of grade average, 10% is enough to cost you a scholarship or admittance to an exclusive school.

3.5 Loyalist wrote:

If they are so much more intelligent, what happens when you are at their modifier just a few levels later?

Are you intelligent yet? What about when you surpass low level geniuses? Are you intelligent then?

No, you are not intelligent. You are skilled and/or well-educated.

Comparing a 3rd level Int 7 with a 1st level Int 18 is like comparing a dull but diligent high school graduate with an extremely bright grade schooler. It's not the grade schooler's fault that he doesn't know the basic structure of an atom - he's missing years of education.

Brian Bachman wrote:
But let's be serious, here. Does anyone really think that the min-maxed 7 Int/7 Wis/7 Cha fighter is going to be putting lots of ranks into social and knowledge skills to compensate for his low scores? Of course not.

I'm planning up an Int/Cha dump character (probably 8/10, pending rolled stats) who will sink half of a meagre skill point allotment into Knowledge and Diplomacy. It's not as extreme, but we use a pretty generous rolling method and I'm unlikely to need to dump lower *fingers crossed*

Brian Bachman wrote:
As for the hypothetical 7 Int bard, that's just what he is, hypothetical. Who would create such a character? Theoretically, he could exist, of course, but I don't think anyone would legitimately create a

I guess I should know that someone who goes by the name Weirdo on the boards would play a 7 Int bard and insist on giving social/knowledge skills to an 8 Int/10 Cha fighter. :) Although I do note that there is a significant diffeence between that and a 7/7/7 mental stat fighter.

Weirdo exceptions, however, do not invalidate the basic thesis. :)

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Valcrim Flinthammer wrote:

If we are just talking fighters and barbarians... then none of this matters. Because the Int/Wis/Cha 7 dude is likely never going to be in a position where his word matters unless the GM sets him up to fail just on spite. He is there to tear stuff apart, and withstand the damage of other things that would crush his more eloquent and intelligent friends. That is his sole purpose.

How many characters have any of you played that do not into social stuff, and then step up and speak for the party? How many times have your progress been halted because your melee monster does not have knowledges? Or if we flip the coin, how many Str7-8 wizards have you played that insist on going melee?

If you feel there is some manner of need to punish someone for min-maxing, then don't allow it. And if someone is playing their character with knowledge beyond their scope, then request a relevant skill check. But if you open that can of worms, prepare to require that check from EVERYONE who comes up with an idea, regardless of point buy configuration. Some of the most intelligent people I know regularly gets stumped when confronted with a problem outside their field of interest/education.

I agree with you, the sole purpose of that build is to hit things hard in combat. My argument all along is that - you build it that way, play it that way. Don't build it that way, and then decide that is too "limiting" and you want to play that character as actually being smart. If you want to play a smart character, build a smart character.

I also agree that asking for skill checks all the time is tedious and not fun. Personally, I would have preferred if 3.X/PF had left social skills firmly in the roleplay area and left die-rolling out of it. I'm not proposing asking for skill checks all the time in social situations or planning sessions (although, it is sorely tempting when confronted with the "only the mechanics matter" argument). I'm just saying, play the role of the character you build. If you have low mental stats across the board and no skills to compensate, play it that way. Don't try to be the lord high strategist and the ambassador at large for the party, or invent far-fetched arguments as to why your character really should be able to do that, rather than just being able to hit things really hard.

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3.5 Loyalist wrote:
Durngrun Stonebreaker wrote:
3.5 Loyalist wrote:
Yeah, and some cultures think you are a genius if you are a genius in a craft or art form. You've heard of artistic geniuses I am sure.

I've heard that expression before, sure. It means talented, not smart.

And talent can be a demonstration of...?

Dedication, intelligence, learning and skills.

Actually, I think of "talent" as innate or God-given. Someone talented at something is naturally gifted in that area. They can, of course, become even better at something through working hard at it, and someone with lower levels of talent can even become better at something than a naturally gifted person through hard work.

For example, there was kid on my HS track team (way back in the Stone Age) who worked his butt off, put in more miles and workout time than anyone else on the team. With hard work and dedication he became a contributor, but never a star. Why? Because he was simply not very talented. On the other hand, we had a kid who walked onto the team senior year, ran a few practices and became an instant star, because he was blessed with natural talent. Of course, a third kid, who became a state champion, had both talent and dedication.

I realize this is a physical example, and we are talking about mental stats. However, I believe it still applies. There is talent (represented by the Int score) and dedication/hard work/learning (represented by skill ranks and/or feats). A character can overcome lack of natural talent through hard work, and a character with natural talent can perhaps breeze by without putting in the work. The most effective characters, of course, will blend natural talent and hard work.

But let's be serious, here. Does anyone really think that the min-maxed 7 Int/7 Wis/7 Cha fighter is going to be putting lots of ranks into social and knowledge skills to compensate for his low scores? Of course not.

As for the hypothetical 7 Int bard, that's just what he is, hypothetical. Who would create such a character? Theoretically, he could exist, of course, but I don't think anyone would legitimately create a character for a class heavily dependent on skills for effectiveness and give them a 7 Int (assuming you are not rolling for stats with a pretty restrictive method and just got unlucky), as anything but a joke (or a strawman, as the case may be).

So what we are relly talking about is fighters and barbarians, who aren't likely to have many skills either to compensate for their low natural talent. So, we are talking unskilled and untalented. My argument all along is just to be honest and play them that way. Embrace your place at the lower end of the normal spectrum and go with it.

Valcrim Flinthammer wrote:

I want to go on the record and remind people that there is a huge difference between saying you CAN play int 7 as the stereotypical slack-jawed idiot... and that you HAVE TO play int 7 as a stereotypical slack-jawed idiot.

There was a book I really enjoyed back in 2e that covered suggestions on how to roleplay interesting combinations of stats. Where one was a person with low int and good cha, that was able to SOUND very intelligent and articulate, but anyone knowledgeable on the topic would be able to see through his facade.

Kinda like the Eddie Izzard stand-up bit about the "Ich bin ein Berliner!" speech, which is grammatically incorrect, but since it was delivered well by a person that looked good delivering it, that was completely overshadowed.

So, yeah. How dumb IS a character with int 7?

I say "Tell me more about this character."

Heaggles: There are nuances that should be addressed. Like how Str alone does not determine how HARD you hit, Int alone does not determine everything related to knowledge and intelligence. You can have a good vocabulary, justifying it by having ranks in diplomacy and linguistics. You could have a good education by playing a class with lots of skill points. Your base potential alone is just one number in a bigger equation.

Of course, keep in mind that the specific case being discussed was a character that had dumped not just Int to 7, but also Wis and Cha, in order to have a strating Str of 20. While not explicitly stated, I would seriously doubt this character had ranks in much of anything with his one or two skilll pojnts per level. So your examples of perfectly valid coping mechanisms that can be taken by a character to compensate for a 7 Int simply don't apply.

littlehewy wrote:

Having said all this ^^^ stuff, I've never, in all my years of GMing, told a player "Your PC can't think that! He's too dumb, Int of 7, remember?" I've just never encountered anyone that even hinted that they thought Intelligence wasn't intelligence, just like I've never encountered anyone that thought Strength wasn't how strong your character is.

I should note, too, that although I've been one of the ones arguing the hardest for people to roleplay the character they have created, including the intelligence score, which I find to have meaning other than purely mechanically, I also would not be so blatant.

At our table, the same folks usually end up being the "leaders" in every adventuring group, making the plans, being the faces, etc. Fortunately, those players, because they agree with me that the stats have meaning, would never create a character with all low mental stats, or likely any really low mental stats at all. On those rare occasions that they (or I) do, we deliberately take a back seat and let others be the leaders. When people are not playing their character accurately, it is not at all unusual for someone at the table (not always or even usually the GM) to point it out.

Valcrim Flinthammer wrote:

Also, back in the day, when the game was designed, there was NO mechanical difference between someone with Int 3 and int 8. The table even read "Int 3-8: 1 Bonus proficiency, no spellcasting". So for all intents and purposes Int3 = Int8 in the old days, when the game was made, if your character did not take any int based proficiencies.

Saying that a stat is more than what the table of modifiers imply is strictly up to the interpretation of every player and GM. There was a time when we were so spoiled with ability scores that we considered anything below 15 worthless. Because according to 2e tables... that was true.

Absolutely correct that there was no mechanical difference. The game was far less numbers-driven then.

In fact, the only purpose the difference in numbers of mental stats for non-spellcasters served was to inform roleplaying. Not that everyone was a great roleplayer then, but playing the role of a character was pretty much an expected part of the game, and in my mind, still is.

Rasmus Nielsen wrote:
littlehewy wrote:

Ok. But see, as far as the world, and everyone it, is concerned, if you can't apply your intelligence, you're unintelligent. If you can't access it, you will appear dumb, and everyone will think you're dumb. So what's the point of making a character that's "smart" but can't access/apply it? How will that change how you roleplay them, and how will it change how other PCs/NPCs view/interact with them?

In other words, what's the point?

What's the point? Well, what's the point of roleplaying *any* character? What's the point of roleplaying a character who's flaws are not black and white? It creates a more layered and interesting character, both for *yourself* but also for others.

For instance, just because a character has low wisdom, doesn't mean he can't have insights into personal issues or problems, or a social situation, even though he has terrible impulse control, can't shut up, doesn't notice sounds or spots sights, or hell, forgets things which are common sense. Low Stats don't *mean* that a character is terrible at *everything* the stat does, it means the character has a low ability to apply the stat when he *needs* it, when it's required, at will, at his behest.

The Low Wis Barbarian, who always talks at the wrong time, or makes the wrong comment in social situations, who never notices when his friends are upset, but who *cares* about his friends, and wants to help them and can express that, but simply isn't good at doing it most of the time, or all the time, or when he needs to. The bard, who *knows* all sorts of things, but *never* can remember them when he *needs* to remember them. "Ooooh, it was just on the tip of my tongue..." who's relatively good at puzzles and riddles, but, the problem is, he just *can't* seem to get the answers formulated right when they're posed before others answer. The low Charisma Warrior, who's brash and has bad manners in a crowd, who's actually a good leader, but he acts like an idiot in a crowd, or simply is ugly, or doesn't have...

Rasmus, my friend, you do realize you are totally undermining your own argument that you would have a real life Int score of 7 with every articulate, well-reasoned post you make, don't you? Perhaps your disability comes across more in person, but in writing you're pretty smooth. Not that I agree with you, mind you, but I respect the skill with which you are putting forth your argument.

Epic Meepo wrote:
Brian Bachman wrote:
For me, what you call "fluff", the story, is the most vitally important part of the game, and to be credible, must be supported by the stats. If you want your character to be smart, or even average, don't dump the stat.

For me, what I call "fluff" isn't directly supported by any stat in the game. Each ability score measures the probability of a character achieving a certain result (plus carrying capacity for Strength, etc.). I expect the story in-game to exactly agree with the probabilities laid out in the rules. Beyond that, I could care less what numbers I've written on a character sheet. Their only purpose is to determine the aforementioned probabilities.

Intelligence measures a character's ability to "learn and reason." The description of the Intelligence score explicitly lists what learning and reasoning entail in Pathfinder: modifiers to number of skill ranks, number of languages known, wizard spellcasting ability, and Intelligence-based skill checks. The description also specifies that Int 1 or 2 is animal intelligence and Int 0 is comatose. That (plus the glossary definition of a null Intelligence score) is the entire definition of the Intelligence score in the Pathfinder game. The abstract, game-mechanical variable assigned the name Intelligence does not measure anything else.

If your gaming group attaches any additional meaning to the Intelligence score, that is a house rule. A perfectly fine, common-sense-based, simulationist house rule, but a house rule nonetheless. There is no RAW reason for gamers who prefer what you are calling "munchkin" and "delusional" behavior (also known as the gamist and narrativist playstyles) to adopt that house rule.

Gamists are free to interpret the RAW as the "computer code" that runs the game, complete with exploits and bugs. Narrativists are free to ignore anything not explicitly stated in the rules if doing so would give them more freedom to tell their characters' stories. And simulationists are free to assign common-sense...

Personally, I wouldn't consider myself simulationist, gamist or narrativist. Roleplaying is an important part of the game for my group, but we also love combat and the heavy rules crunch that they require. I actually kind of regret that in 3.X/PF that so many of the roleplaying interactions have been or can be reduced to a die roll.

The stats of a character have always been, through every edition, one of the best ways to help inform roleplaying and define a character. In 3.X/PF some more tools are added, such as skill points and feats(you got them somehow). They don't need to be absolutely determinative, but they should have some relation to how your character is played. Or not, if this aspect of the game isn't important to you. I do kind of object to an emphasis on roleplaying a character accurately being called a "house rule", at least until they change the name of the genre to something other than roleplaying game.

I don't believe that everyone who is arguing the opposite side of this argument is doing so only because they want to have all the benefits of their min/maxed character without any of the drawbacks, and I respect honest differences of opinion. However, I believe some probably are, and that is a step in the direction of the land where the really short folks with funny accents reside. No, thank you, I'll take a different route, please.

kyrt-ryder wrote:
Brian Bachman wrote:
If someone handed me a character sheet for one of my games with 7s in all three mental stats, but still described himself as "smart" in his background story, I would laugh uncontrollably for a few minutes and then tell the player that may be how the character views himself, but that he is actually delusional and the rest of the world pretty much considers him a dullard.

And that is when I would walk away from your table.

If you wanted to be a reasonable human being and talk to me about it, about your perspective, and how you felt about stats and the way you think they should affect the story, I'd have listened and perhaps we could have come to a compromise.

But you just ripping control over my character away like that, interpreting him differently from how I envisioned him, and to even go so far as to laugh in my face about it? No thank you. I'd rather go gameless than play in that scenario.

You are correct that that would be pretty rude, and thank you for calling me on it. I guess I was thinking in the context of my group, which has been playing together for years, and laughs a lot at/with each other without anyone taking offense (well, at least not usually, certainly noone has ever walked away from the table). We also (naturally) have a similar playstyle that has developed over the years, and it just wouldn't fly in our group. I, as the GM, would not be the only one laughing, the rest of the table would, too, because, in our opinion, a player who describes his 7 Int, 7 Wis, 7 Cha character as "smart" is pretty hilarious. Sorry if you don't appreciate the humor.

Ravingdork wrote:

Your question doesn't apply in this instance rending any answer I gave moot.

Betraying powerful celestial beings to their deaths has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with a character's ability or inability to be able to take them on in one-on-one combat. Cersy Lanister from Game of Thrones probably could not hope to kill the lowliest of her enemies in combat. Yet she is responsible for the deaths of THOUSANDS of her enemies. Why? Because she is a clever little snake who finds betrayal and deception easy.

Even a non-combatant character with no stats could plausibly lure powerful celestial beings into an ambush against powerful fiends whom she made a deal with. She may need powerful allies or resources to pull it off, but if said allies/reousrces were killed/consumed in the endeavor, who really cares? In the end, you're left with an evil celestial-bloodline sorcerer with a great back story and lots of potential for future plot hooks.

I just don't see why so many GMs would be willing to trash such a great resource for their own egos.

"No, your low level character cannot possibly have had any dealings with powerful creatures because that would imply she is somehow more capable than MY powerful creatures."

To GMs like that I say "get over yourself!"

RD, to be honest, with the character you described, I don't really think it is the GM who needs to get over himself.

I think many of the things being described as "gamechangers", I would just classify as "challenging for the GM to deal with".

Example: Scry and fry tactics. Using a combination of scrying and teleport to bypass guards, traps and other obstacles and get straight to the BBEG for the final showdown, fully buffed and ready to rock and roll. While it may seem so to some players, this is not really an innovative tactic. It's been around for as long as there have been crystal balls and telport spells (although the removal of risk of death from teleportation and the proliferation of scrying items and spells have certainly made it easier, at a lowere level, than it used to be). Given that, it makes complete sense that virtually any intelligent adversary with access to sufficient resources will take steps to protect himself. Lead-lining every sanctum sanctorum may seem tedious, but logically, why wouldn't they, if they have the cash? And it's not more tedious than an endless string of easy victories over ridiculously and illogically unprepared foes. If the BBEG is really a BBEG assume a healthy level of paranoia and an obsessive desire for self-preservation and have fun with it.

To get even more devious, incorporate illusions into the defenses, so what they see isn't necessarily what is really there.

Provide open, inviting "arrival areas" that are in reality deadly, heavily trapped killing zones.

That's why I love intelligent, recurring villains, because they know your party's strengths, tactics and weaknesses. When using them, you can really make devious plans specific to your PCs without metagaming in an unfair way. And it is so much the sweeter when the party finally corners them and brings them down. I feel I have done my job when the BBEG finally falls and the players leap out of their seats and high five each other.

Another point I would make is that many, many spells are game-changing when cast, but then they are gone for the next encounter. So the more you can do to prevent the 15-minute adventuring day in which all spells are available for every encounter, the less game-changing spells you will have to deal with.

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Stynkk wrote:
Brian Bachman wrote:
There are other reasons as well, based on many bad experiences with evil characters and the players who like to play them over the years, but the reason above is the main one.
I am assuming the GM ok'd the play of an evil character.


3.5L and I were just having a brief side conversation about an earlier post of mine in which I commented that I didn't allow evil characters in my games. Nothing to do with the OP's game.

Although...I would note that if RD's GM had taken the same approach, the problem likely would not have arisen. Another probably would have, however. My take is that RD likes to test the edge of the envelope with his character creation and probably with his gameplay, based on previous threads he has started or participated in, which would keep any GM on his toes. I would probably enjoy the challenge, but end up slapping him down frequently, and he'd likely be complaining about me on the boards.

If I remember correctly from some of his previous posts, however,he has stated that not every situation he posts comes from actual gameplay. Some are just hypotheticals he throws out to get a conversation started and see how folks come out on the issue.

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