Count Haserton Lowis IV

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My group is starting The City of Seven Spears this weekend, so some of this advise is very timely for me. I'll work to make sure they a solid sense of direction and accomplishment as they pacify the districts (and try to push trough it in as few session as possible if they start to check out, even to the point of skipping to book 4 early if I have to).

However, does anyone have a worksheet to track the camps and discovery race for each faction? I need a tool to make this as easy and intuitive as possible, and don't want to have to reinvent the wheel if someone already has something that they are willing to share.


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I plan to stick to 1e for the foreseeable future. In large part because my preferred campaign setting is Eberron and I really don't want to go through all the work of converting my 3.5 Eberron library to new system.

Instead, I'll spend the next year or so deciding which of the holes in my Pathfinder collection need to be filled with hardcopies and buying those books before they go out of print.

If I end up down the road playing with a group that prefers 2e, I'll cross that bridge then.

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I kind of like the idea that you have laid out as it is. I gives the players a chance at some fun roleplaying, and as a bonus rewards them for having actually paid attention to the story over the course of the campaign.

How satisfying the non-violent resolution is for the players depends largely on two factors that you would have a better feel than anyone here.

First, how attached are the players/PCs to this NPC? If they feel that they have genuinely formed a bond with him over the campaign, then saving him will be enough (especially if it's clear that the options are to either talk him down or be forced to kill him). However, if they just view him as window dressing, then they may miss the visceral payoff of combat.

Second, do your players enjoy those types of intense roleplaying moments; or are they more into the tactical combat? If they don't get in to the roleplaying, then the whole thing has a huge risk of falling flat.

Serpent's Skull could easily be started with Book 2 by simply having the Organizations have the location of Saventh-Yi instead of the PCs discovering it in Book 1.

You could even possibly start it with Book 3 by having the PCs discover Saventh-Yi by other means and the Organizations learning about their discovery and showing up later to offer aid/recruit the PCs.

Book 1 of Serpent's Skull makes an outstanding stand-alone. You simply have to downplay the importance of the information they discover in the last dungeon so that the PCs are more willing to sell it than leverage it to search for Saventh-Yi themselves.

I will echo that books 2 (7 Days to the Grave) and 5 (Skeletons of Scarwall) of CoCT would make good stand-alone adventures.

Perhaps you could start with the Kaiju from Bestiary 4. They are certainly on the right scale for this type of story.

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I have a few of those d10s. I actually like them better than traditional d10s because they are better balanced and roll more naturally.

Raynulf wrote:

Its actually the BBEG's bastard child?

Came into town 12-15 months* ago in disguise, after a brief affair** with a lady in town vanished without a trace, and has come back for "What is his"***.

*You want the baby to be 3-6 months old. Younger than 3 months and they're still tiny, fragile, prone to illness etc and may not actually survive a long flight on dragonback. That and they look kinda alien (Hint: Pretty much all babies in movies/shows/etc are 3 months old, even when they're supposed to be newborns). Older than 6 months and they get a lot more alert and attentive, and crawling usually kicks in at 8-10 months. And then they try to eat everything in the room.

**As a plus, if the baby is a (half) sibling to a PC, said PC get's the rare opportunity to literally call the BBEG a mother******.

***As for what the BBEG wants a child... could be any number of reasons. Isn't planning on going the undeath route and wants to leave a legacy. Wants an apprentice that doesn't "Fail Him For The Last Time" like the last dozen or so. And so on.

As bonus points, his motivation for reclaiming his bastard child is that he wants give the child a better life with all of the opportunities and luxuries that his wealth can provide. He could even, given the opportunity, prove to be a loving and caring parent who will try to shelter the child from the darker side of his life (a common movie trope with the children of mob bosses).

Remember, it is often the methods rather than the objectives that make a character villainous.

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Jiggy wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Why is that character an adventurer at all? It seems like their current character should become a lackluster NPC and they should start playing an adventurer.
To be fair, you could have said the same of Luke Skywalker at the start of Star Wars. Could be that the player was waiting for the GM to drop the smoking, bloody remains of his only family members onto his lap. That's why I was asking earlier what pre-game agreements (if any) had been made about character creation and the premise of the adventure.

In all fairness to the GM, if the player wanted that type of personal motivation and attention to bring his character into the campaign they probably should have talked to the GM about it before finalizing the character so both parties could have been prepared.

These types of problems are specifically why I like the Campaign Traits as they are used in the Paizo APs. If done correctly they will nudge the character into the adventure in a natural, organic way while also offering a small reward for the little bit of "railroading" of their background.

DungeonmasterCal wrote:
For over 20 years our running joke has been "a flaming couch falls from the sky and crushes your character".

This is an oddly specific gag that was also a favorite of a DM that I played AD&D 2nd Ed. under through the 90s. I wonder where it came from...

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My wife and I always end up bickering in character before a campaign gets too far along. It doesn't seem to matter what kind of concepts or personalities we start with, our characters just never seem to get along. It has run the gamut from friends needling each other to bickering like an old married couple to barely being civil, but it's always there.

The funny part is that our actual marriage is nothing like that. We have a very healthy relationship where we work out our differences openly before they have time to fester, and only behave like this in character.

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NobodysHome wrote:

Impus Major: So, if Disneyland has California Adventure, does Disney World have Florida Adventure, where drunken rednecks try to pick fights with you and go around wrestling crocodiles?

This would be amazing. Disney should look into this.

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Unless you think he is cheating, there is nothing you should do as a GM.

I would start by actually logging all of his d20 rolls (these types of issues tend to focus on d20 rolls, not damage or other rolls that use other dice). The most likely answer is that he has had a few timely crits or high rolls that built a confirmation bias among the table.

If a log over multiple sessions (I would suggest at least 50 rolls before drawing conclusions, and would probably hold off for 100 myself) demonstrates and extreme tendency towards high rolls, then you can look into other options.

Since the digital dice roller seems to have corrected the issue, I sounds like it was something in his rolling technique that (possibly unconsciously) impacted his rolls. If he has a preference for the feel and sound of physical dice (I know I do), a dice tower or rolling cup will probably correct the situation.

Automatic Bonus Progression from Unchained. Having to invest so much of a character's wealth into boring magic items that the game assumes you are going to get anyway is the worst. It makes so much more sense to add these into the leveling charts along with feats and ability score increases, which this does.

Plus it comes with the added benefits of allowing magic items to be "magical" again, which is also good.

However, since that is really an alternate system introduced by Paizo, I am going to cheat and say that it isn't really a house rule and make everyone play on a hex map instead of a grid. The movement is more organic and removes the annoying math of counting diagonal movement.

Hubaris wrote:
Rathendar wrote:

Paizo did that kinda(as an example) in escape from old korvosa i believe, with the urgathoan cleric villain if memory serves.

Might have been 7 days to the grave, but i know it was in the crimson throne AP.

Yup. Actually caught us off guard when we were running through it.

I've seen it in a Module as well and its done very well:

** spoiler omitted **

The trope is fun when done right. It helps to extend the fight but the second part needs to have an interesting twist thats not just more meat to cut through.

It was definitely 7 Days to the Grave. We were so surprised by this that we called the second form "Random Boss" for weeks. The GM swears that if we had done more research we would have had some clues about what was coming, but we had no idea.

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The legendary Axe of the Rock Gods.

This +2 great axe is also strung like a 6-string guitar and can be played with the Perform (strings) skill. When used by a character with Bardic Performance, the Axe of the Rock Gods continues playing for 3 rounds while being used as a weapon. These rounds still count against the Bard's performance rounds, and the Bard must play the instrument with two hands for one round to continue the Performance effect at the end of three rounds. In the hands of a character with at least 10 ranks in Perform (strings), the Axe also gains the shock property; and with at least 15 ranks it gains shocking burst.

The sound of this instrument is unique, being magically distorted to provide more volume and energy than is normally possible though a solid bodied guitar. Once per day, the performer can also turn it up to 11.

All numerical values are subject to change, as I spend no time considering how balanced this would be.

I am currently running the first book of the Serpent's Skull AP, which is entirely set on a smallish island with no notable civilization. The PCs are survivors of a shipwreck and have to figure out how to survive and get themselves rescued on their own.

I have spent almost zero time driving the isolation in to them (though they have had to deal with disease and other natural hazards that would be a non-issue a standard game), but after a level or two with no place to buy gear or supplies believe me that they feel pretty isolated.

I guess what I am trying to say is not to be too worried about overdoing it, the lack of civilization will make itself felt sooner or later regardless of how much you focus on it.

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I often ask myself where the extra 8 hours of my day end up. I sleep less than 8 hours a night and work 8 hour days, but never seem to have more than an hour or so of "downtime" in a given day.

It is amazing how quickly those 1 hour and half hour chores add up to eat a third of a day.

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I am unabashedly a fan of Pathfinder (as much for the business philosophy of Paizo as for the content of the game itself), but I can completely sympathize with the feat overload problem. Especially for classes where feat choice is not always obvious to more casual players past the first few levels (like Bard or Cleric).

I am of two minds about the changes to Damage Reduction. In some ways I like the idea of needing to find an actual silver weapon to effectively fight werewolves; but at the same time the end result of the "golf bag" effect is annoying. I have often considered tinkering with the DR system to either encourage or discourage needing specialized weapons for DR, but have never pulled the trigger either way. Maybe that's a good sign that the system used in Pathfinder is pretty good, where different material requirements are considered met if the enhancement bonus of the weapon is high enough. If feels like a good compromise, at least.

Oh, they know that it can be activated. They just refuse to activate it because they are convinced that it is some sort of weapon that will blow up Sharn or Stormreach if they activate it. I have no idea how they came to that conclusion, but players tend to do that sometimes.

Edit: By the way, thank you for posting. It is soothing to the ego to know that someone is at least reading my ramblings here.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that I am talking to myself here, but I will continue to post my thoughts so that if another GM decides to attempt this conversion later they will have the benefit of my notes.

While poking around for ideas on what to do with Racing to Ruin, I stumbled on an article in Dungeon Magazine #122 about the Ring of Storms in Xen'Drik. The article specifically discusses the Qabalrin Elves, including their history a little bit of their culture, and the current state of the mountain valley that their city was in.

I won't be able to use all of it without changes, but it does give me a lot more background to play around with to make things fit more cleanly into Eberron. The biggest thing that I won't be able to keep is that the area can't be as utterly destroyed as written, because I need a city to explore.

The Heart of Siberys
I haven't decided if I want Saventh-Yhi to be the central city of Qabalrin and integrate the Heart of Siberys into the ruins somewhere, or if I want to ignore it and just move on. Luckily, I have some time to make this decision.

The Halls of Ice and Marble
I will use this encounter area to replace some of the encounters from Racing to Ruin that just don't work in Xen'Drik. I will probably place it after Tazion, between books 2 and 3. Hopefully that doesn't make my party underleveled for Tazion, but there are 5 of them so they will probably be okay.

I will also use the encounter tables in the article for Saventh-Yhi and Illmurea, which should be a lot of fun.

More pressingly, the Temple of Blood on the Shiv (which we should explore in our next session) will be a Temple of members of the Unnamed faction of old Qabalrin that escaped and sought to follow their elders into discovering vampirism and seek out revenge on their enemies. They eventually did manage to turn themselves into vampires, and navigated the Halls of Ice and Marble to Qabalrin just in time to be destroyed by the rain of Siberys dragonshards.

Some of the other information in the article will also inform some of the changes that I plan to make to the inhabitants of the districts of Saventh-Yhi, but that will have to wait until I get all of that figured out and there are more pressing decisions to make first.

Wow. Decks of Many Things tend to end poorly when you draw from them. Usually the best choice is just not to mess with them.

Oracle may be something you want to look at. You can choose the Battle Mystery to keep your martial bent, and they cast off of Charisma so you will be able to leverage your best ability score.

They cast divine spells, so you will continue to be able to use your armor and be a front line fighter. They also gain a decent hit die (d8) and medium BAB progression, so it doesn't cripple your combat ability completely.

You would basically be trading a little bit of BAB progression and HP for the Cleric's spell list and a ton of spells per day.

We have reached an interesting impasse in exploring the Shiv. My intrepid heroes have explored the Caves of the Mother and taken care of the Lacedon problem down there, and we left the session with them standing at the (un-activated) Tide Stone after having just defeated the Red Mountain Devil.

The problem is, they failed all of the relevant knowledge checks in the Temple to Yedersius in the Caves (with no INT based characters in the party, Knowledge checks may be their Achilles Heel until the Bard gets enough levels to consistently pass is Bardic Knowledge checks); and have convinced themselves that the Tide Stones are actually a weapon and aren't even trying to activate it.

Since the rest of the campaign relies heavily on them exploring the Temple of Blood and getting their hands on Yarzoth's research there, this is obviously an issue that I need to have a plan for before our next session (which will probably not be until May).

The ideas I have so far are:

Exploring the area around the Tide Stone
I will give the Ranger a survival test to notice Yarzoth's footprints leaving the Tide Stone and leading into the sea near one of the bridges. The know that she was already there and activated the Stone once, so maybe they will get the picture that it opened something up and that they should follow her based on that.

I will also give them a (relatively easy) Perception test to notice that the bridges lead down into nothing and that the slope of the last ledge leads gently down into the sea.

The problem here is that it relies on skill checks that they may not pass (especially the Survival check--it has been at least 2 days since Yarzoth passed this way, and with rain every afternoon that makes finding tracks difficult).

Yarzoth emerges
If they still don't active the Stone, I will have Yarzoth finish her research and emerge from the Temple before their rescue arrives. I will have to make sure that they interact with her in some way on the island to give them a chance to get the information.

If nothing else, she would logically return to the lighthouse to try to use it to get off of the island when she is finished with her work. That could lead to some interesting interactions if Ieana shows back up looking for help after what they have learned about her.

If anyone is still reading this, do you have any other ideas to help nudge my wayward heroes back on the path to their destinies?

Lord Mhoram wrote:
Josh-o-Lantern wrote:
So... to get this right... you want a Bard... that's not, well... a BARD... That's like saying "I love the flavor of this tomato soup, but could we somehow take these gross tomatoes out?"

More like I like stew, but want to replace the beef with some other meat for a different flavor, but keep all the veggies the same. It's not beef stew anymore, but I prefer that.

I like everything about the bard except the music. I like the other class abilities, how they fit together, what kind of themes you can do with them. I just want to decouple all that from music and bardic performance.

How close does the Investigator get to what you are looking for?

It has a comparable spell list, acceptable combat prowess, a similar ability to make knowledge checks (with fewer bonuses, but still good), a the flexibility in its Investigator Talents to build multiple themes.

Rub-Eta wrote:
Rennaivx wrote:
Nohwear wrote:
Bacondale wrote:
We use a Chessex Battlemat and wet-erase markers to draw out the map as we progress through the adventure.
Seconding this. Unless you are in a hurry, or will be changing battle maps frequently, a blank map should be good enough. Giant pads with the right size grid also exists.
Thirding this. Conveniently enough, if you're looking for a really budget solution, a lot of gift wrapping paper has a one-inch grid on the back.
Fourth-ing. I'd never bother with printing out maps and getting the scale right. Too expensive. Battlemat + wet-eraser covers everything.

I supplement my battlemat by pre-drawing the maps on clear acetate. Then, I just lay the map over the battle map when it is needed. That saves a lot of time during the game since I don't have to constantly stop play to break out the markers.

GM 1990 wrote:
Otherwhere wrote:
ShroudedInLight wrote:

Another suggestion is what I call the "Balrog effect"

Have the party come across a high level wizard fighting a ferocious monster, as the party approaches have the Wizard warn them away "Fly you fools" while casting something in the spell level 7-9 range.

Have the wizard then get shrecked and either die or be forced to run, and the beast turn its attention to the party.

This can be a good tactic to use. You let someone/something else get torn up by "the Threat" as a demonstration/warning.

But you still run the risk of some PC's (mistakenly) thinking they can tackle it as a group. In which case, are you willing to kill a PC or two to make it clear they are not invulnerable?

something with a nasty reputation that they already have heard about, so when they come across it they don't have any delusions of fighting it and living. If they do anything it should be to allow them to run (control/obscuration etc spells).

It can also be helpful to use iconic monsters for this type of encounter. Classic demons, devils, and even dragons if your players are savvy enough to recognize the size and color to CR standards for them, have been around the game forever and most players already know the relative power level of those monsters. Using an obscure monster can lead to a TPK if the players don't realize how powerful it actually it; but a Vvrock swooping down on them is a known commodity and experienced players will know whether they can handle it or not.

There was actually a great example of this in the early days of D&D 3.0. They published a series of loosely connected adventures that were supposed to take characters through their career, like an AP with less connection between volumes. In the second adventure, for 3rd - 5th level characters, the author put a Beholder in an isolated spot in the dungeon as a rattlesnake encounter (to teach players that not every inch of every map needs to be explored, I guess). The editors for some reason changed the Beholder to a Roper for publication, and many TPKs were the unfortunate result.

I ended up putting this game on hold for about a year shortly after starting it due to having a baby and dealing with the lifestyle changes that came with it. But we are back at it now, and the PCs have just taken over the cannibal camp. They still have the Caves of the Mother to explore, then the Temple of Blood; so I expect them to finish book one in one or two more sessions depending on how focused we can stay.

Looking ahead to Racing for Ruin, I see a lot of work in my future. I can keep the city encounters with some appropriate flavor changes (I haven't settled on all of them yet, but the city will certainly be Stormreach).

I will also keep Tazion, but it will be populated with Drow to make it more Xen'drik feeling. That should be a simple matter of building a few stat blocks to replace the ones in the book, but that part is easy.

However, I will have to rework the entire journey portion. Not only is it too focused on dealing with the locals for Xen'drik, but the encounters are just too random and there is not enough interaction and actual racing with the other factions for my taste. I will take a hard look at the salt mines to see if they can be salvaged somehow, because I hate to let a good dungeon map go to waste. I will also try to work in the meeting the contact and being spied on by the other factions in to Last Rest (I think that is name of the Inn south of Stormreach).

At that point I will see how much experience and treasure we are leaving on the table with the remaining encounters and take it from there.

Artificer conversions are always tricky because the magic item creation rules changes in Pathfinder impact the underlying foundation of the class. That said, this one does a good job of retaining the essence of the class while allowing it to work within the Pathfinder rules.

My only real critique is the lack of a level 20 capstone ability. Perhaps the abilty to create true (perhaps limited to lesser) artifacts? Or a major upgrade to the Metamagic Spell Completion and Metamagic Spell Trigger abilities?

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I have a hard time allowing the opportunity for a snarky comment or joke to pass without capitalizing on it. This often makes if hard for me to stay in character, makes it difficult for others to tell when I am speaking in character or out of character, or (most frequently) leads to all of my charcters have a smart-ass personality whether I want them to or not.

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memorax wrote:
I found the background to be decent. Though it also had fans that almost sold me off it as well. One of the big things that bothered fans about FR was the amount of high level npcs. Eberron has none or very little. Which some of the fans of Ebberron liked to point out over and over. The one questions the fans never like to answer is what happens when the players characters level up. Eventually those low level npcs have to be reworked or the players start becoming better than them. Some fans also tried to pass it off as being grim and gritty which I never got as a vibe.

That is an interesting question. It is also very difficult to answer; because for every person who says that they need more high-level enemies and encounters statted up in print to save the prep work, there is another who argues that high-level PCs are so diverse and so powerful at the things that they have specialized in that it is impossible to create "general use" enemies at those levels and the GM should custom build enemies to match up in interesting ways with the PCs.

The best answer as it applies to Eberron is to send the PCs out of Khorvaire (the main continent) and let them adventure in the heart of Xen'Drik, or combat the Dreaming Dark in Sarlona, or even have them deal with the dragons of Argonnessen. Argonnessen particularly was seemingly designed specifically with high-to-epic level play in mind.

You can even keep them close to home and have them combat the Lords of Dust and their Raksasha masters in Khorvaire if those other shores don't appeal.

In short, the high level power players are there (Vol, the Chamber, the Dreaming Dark, the Lords of Dust, etc.), they are just more in the background than other settings and require more work from the GM to bring out.

That may not be to everyone’s taste, which is fine since there are dozens of other settings to play with, but the options are there.

captain yesterday wrote:

it is just how I feel about it, my phone and brain cant handle a long drawn out race discussion now.

just move past it and discuss Eberron, and yes I've generally found drow racist in other settings as well And dont like it

if you dont like my opinion, oh well:)

I am not interested in dissuading you from your opinions about the Drow in general, and I'm really not interested in having an in depth conversation about race and racism on the Internet.

My only reason for posting was to express my love of the Eberron setting and to clear up some misconceptions being voiced concerning the interpretation of the Drow in that setting.

I LOVE Eberron. It is the only published campaign setting that I get excited about running or playing in. If you can accept the magi-tech elements of the setting, it is adaptable enough to run any style fo campaign that you like. If you are creative, you can even work around the tech-stuff by carefully selecting the setting and themes of your campaign; but at that point you might be better off with another setting unless you are just in love with the history.

About the Drow in Eberron, they are no more or less racist than Drow in any other setting. Being thouroughly read on the 3.5 setting books, I will positively state that they are not all--or even mostly--evil. Partially because one of the fundamentaly conceits of the setting is that no intelligent race comes with a preset alignment--including dragons, undead, orcs, goblinoids, and drow--with the exception of outsiders whose identity is based on alignment (e.g. devils and demons).

The Drow in Eberron were slaves of giants in the distant past, a common history that they share with baseline Elves. They merely chose to stay on Xen'Drik after the fall of the giant empires when the Elves left for other shores.

If you feel that Drow are racist by definition, that is not the fault of the Eberron setting and you should understand that the designers were required by company mandate to include everything in D&D in the setting and had to do the best with what they were given.

If you feel that the Drow in Eberron are somehow more racist than the standard Drow, I would be intersted in hearing your arguement. But a past of slavery is a tenuious perch for that stance, because many of the humanoid races in Eberron have either a past or present of slavery in their write-ups; including common Elves, humans in Sarlona, Halflings, and pretty much anyone who gets unluck in Darguun.

About that precinct captain:
She is this continuity's Sarah Essen, a detective that Gordon has an affair with in Frank Miller's Year One. That affair creates (along with the pressures of his job) the initial conflict in Jim's marriage that eventually culminates in his divorce from Barbara. She then reappears in Miller's The Dark Knight Returns as retired Gordon's current wife. Do not be surprised if Gotham's story arc follows a similar line.

wicked cool wrote:
if the show is to follow the comics how powerful/influence should the penguin get? does he control a large gang . Ive only followed him on the batman cartoons and the old 60's tv show/tim burton movie and in all cases hes got a small gang or penguin subjects

In recent comics continuity the Penguin is cast as one of the major mob bosses in Gotham. As such he has considerable power and influence along with a host of underlings working for him. It is a much more refined and beleiveable character than version presented in the Silver Age, and Burton's Penguin had only superficial similarities to any other version of the character that I've seen (much like his Joker from the first movie).

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Congratulations, Tacticslion! And best wishes in caring for your premie.

My second is expected in early January, only two or three weeks short of 9 full years after the first arrived.

MMCJawa wrote:
Were the bad guys a DC reference? I was sort of confused, because I felt I should know their employer, but didn't.

The "Dollmaker" that they work for (referenced one time in a single scene) was the villian in a Catwoman arc from near the beginning of the New 52 era in the comics. The plot of that arc also revolved around homeless kids going missing aroudn Gotham and no one caring.

I won't be surprised if this isn't a trend through the series--using relatively unknown, used-once-and-forgotten villians from the comics as the "villian of the week."

1) Eberron
2) Planescape
3) Dark Sun
4) Eberron

Deadmanwalking wrote:

I agree that what you say is true. I just don't think that people with system mastery having quite as much of an advantage as they do in, say, Pathfinder is actually good for the game or the players.

This is a good point, and I am willing to accept that something that is good for a game like Magic is not necessary good for an RPG.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

I'm not talking about making the Classes more complicated. Just better at a particular thing. A Full BAB Rogue with a good Fort Save or a 4-6 skill points per level Fighter (with better class skills) with a good Will Save isn't actually more complicated, just better (those aren't exactly how I'd fix the classes or perfectly balanced, it's just an example).

And some opinions are flatly wrong. I don't actually think this...

I hate that I have contributed to devolving this thread into another Fighter thread, so I am going to wrap up our little debate before it gets out of hand (if it's not too late already). Please don't take this as a dismissal of you or your points, I have enjoyed this conversation immensly and appreaciate your well stated opinions.

What I love most about Pathfinder it that it is a robust enough system that you can despise some aspects of it that others adore, and the game can support both of those playstles with minimal fuss. I would wager that I could put you and my wife, with your diametrically opposed options about one of the Core classes in the same campaign and you would both have fun in your own ways.

Happy gaming.

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Carl Hanson wrote:
I have played a lot of RPGs over the years, and balance did not exist in any of them as anything more than an illusion. In any system that allows choices, some choices will be better than others--sometimes much better--even if which options are better is determined by situational variants (such as campaign style in an RPG).
I conditionally disagree, I've run into a fairly large number of games that were pretty well balanced. They, however, were all very simple. Complexity makes it a lot harder to properly balance mechanically distinct options.

I will concede this point as I am something on an old-school (more middle shool really, I started with AD&D 2nd Ed in the early 90's), and am drawn to the more complex systems that were the hallmarks of that era of gaming. I don't know that I have ever played a system more simple than the old White Wolf games, and some choices in those games were defintely unbalanced.

But then, I have no interst in playing a system that is simple enough to be easily balanced. That's why I like Pathfinder so much, the complexity of the system provides a depth of game play that simpler games cannot approach.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Carl Hanson wrote:
Further, balance is not necessiraly as desirable as some people seem to think it is. In the harsh reality of game design, the trade-off for adding balance is usually a reduction of uniqueness because the more varity of options used, the harder it becomes to balance all of those options.
It's definitely a balancing act (pun intended) between truly mechanically distinct options and perfect game balance...but that doesn't mean game balance isn't a good thing to strive for, just that it must be balanced (ha! pun again) with other concerns.

I'm not sure that we disagree here. It may be that, as a long time Magic player and a fan of Mark Rosewater's game design column, I am more comfortable with games containing choices that are actively unbalanced than other gamers might be. Those choices are what allows experienced, knowledgeable players to demonstrate their system mastery. Without bad choices, system mastery loses it's advantages.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Carl Hanson wrote:
As to the uselessness of certain classes. Almost every Pathfinder or D&D game that I have ever played in has included a Figher and/or a Rogue, and I have never heard a player in any of those games complain that they felt useless. I know that my experience may not be the same as yours, but it is just as valid; and there should be rules to support both of our playstyles.
How does the Fighter being better out-of-combat or the Rogue in-combat hurt your playstyle, though? If a class's design prohibits certain playstyles while other classes don't...that class is a worse-designed class and should be fixed.

You say the straight-forward, single-minded, simple design of those classes makes them bad. My wife says those are the things that make the Fighter her favorite class. Everyone has an opinion, and none of them are necessarily wrong.

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Anzyr wrote:
Balance is very important for the overall health of a game. It's no fun being useless and there's many many opportunities in Pathfinder to become useless. I'd rather have everyone be useful then cater to a hypothetical player who enjoys being useless or enjoys being overpowered. And I think everyone agrees. Except the hypothetical person. But I've never met a hypothetical before.

I have played a lot of RPGs over the years, and balance did not exist in any of them as anything more than an illusion. In any system that allows choices, some choices will be better than others--sometimes much better--even if which options are better is determined by situational variants (such as campaign style in an RPG).

Further, balance is not necessiraly as desirable as some people seem to think it is. In the harsh reality of game design, the trade-off for adding balance is usually a reduction of uniqueness because the more varity of options used, the harder it becomes to balance all of those options.

As to the uselessness of certain classes. Almost every Pathfinder or D&D game that I have ever played in has included a Figher and/or a Rogue, and I have never heard a player in any of those games complain that they felt useless. I know that my experience may not be the same as yours, but it is just as valid; and there should be rules to support both of our playstyles.

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Rynjin wrote:
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:


However, many of the complaints on here are so vociferous, angst ridden, completely negative, and even hate filled that I can't understand why they still play the game.

The game became even MORE fun when I got pissed at the devs.

I stopped attempting to listen to their often contradictory opinions on what good game design should be, and the numerous unnecessary and detrimental FAQs they've released (See: Crane Wing, Weapon Cords) and just decided to play a fun game with minimal developer interference ruining the experience for me.

There's something to be said for this attitude. I rarely go to the errata or FAQs for Pathfinder. Not because I'm pissed at the developers, but because I game with a group of highly intellegent people who can figure out how we want most of the rules to work ourselves in a way that we will have fun playing.

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I like Pathfinder well enough that I didn't even consider switching to D&D 5 and would be unlikely to switch to a Pathfinder 2nd edition unless it was almost entirely backwards compatable.

That doesn't mean that I purchase everything that Paizo releases. On the contrary, I own none of the setting materials and none of the softcover splat books; or even many of the hardcover books. That's the beauty of a modular, expandable game system; beyond the Core Rulebook and first Bestiary each consumer can pick and choose which options to invest in and use based on their own preferances.

I'm so weary of the endless parade of reboots and remakes that Hollywood is churning out these days, so it is hard for me to get too excited about this. That said, so long is JMS is at the helm is shouldn't be too bad.

Of course, the pacing and depth of the story--and hopefully more than that--will have to change to work as a movie franchise, but JMS has experience with several different types of storytelling and should be able to pull it off. I actually would like to see a very different take on the B5 story/universe rather than a movie that tries to slave itself to the series too closely.

There was a 3.5 book called Cityscape that was all about buidling large cities. The focus was on truely massive metropolis sized cities, like Waterdeep or Sharn, and they provided a method of buidling the city by using multiple districts that each had there own character and flavor. If you can find a copy of that, it has some good ideas that you can work off of.

I just started running this in Eberron. We have only played one session (plus one for character creation), so the group has done little more than explore the Jenivere wreck and start getting know each other and the NPCs.

I'm excited for the next few games as they start to explore the Shiv, but my groups meets pretty sporadically due to grown-up commitments, so it may be a couple of months before they really get into the weird stuff on the island.

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Ronin_Knight wrote:
Eberron and Faerun but as I'm the eternal DM the conversion work I would need to do to be happy with either makes me leery

I have just started running a Serpent's Skull campaign in Eberron, and so far the conversions haven't been too difficult. The method that I am using is to convert flavor and backstory as much as possbile without changing too many mechanics.

If you are interested, I have placed some of my notes here: Serpent's Skull in Eberron.

If you do decide to work on any conversion, feel free to drop me a line if you need to bounce some ideas off of someone. I truely enjoy those types thought exercises.

As for settings that I've always wanted to run or play, Ravenloft has been at the top of my list for either for a long time. Unfortunately, I don't think I've ever had the right group for it.

I prefer to use a paper character sheet, traditional dice, and paper to keep notes with; but I use my Galaxy Tab 10.1 for rules lookups to keep me from havign to pull out books all of the time.

Since I have apparently hijacked this thread and turned it into my personal conversion diary, I may as well keep putting my thoughts here.

After further thought, I have decided to make a few changes to Jask's backstory to make it less of a stretch for him to work of House Tharashk in later chapters.

He will no longer be member of House Tharashk; instead he is a Stormreach native that was framed by a government bureacrat for doing some side business in such a way to cut the Storm Lords out (much like his written story). When he went on the lamb, the Storm Lords sent a Tharashk bounty hunter after him. The bounty hunter eventually caught up with him in Q'barra and put him in the care of the Jenivere's captain for the trip to Stormreach. Since the bounty hunter treated him respectfully, Jack will be open to assisting them on their mission to Qabalrin after getting off of the Shiv.

I surprisingly managed to find a way to make zero changes to the NPC Castaways' character sheets, but I did have to make significant changes to some of their backgrounds.

Aerys (Mavato) Thuranni: The child of a scion of House Thuranni, Aerys was born as the result of an affair between her mother and a Lazaarite captain based in Regalport. Due to her half-elf heritage, she has never been fully accepted by House Thuranni, and that rejection has filled her with rage that is constantly waiting a chance to get out. The most common trigger for her temper tends to be the romantic advances of men who are attracted to her exotic beauty. Her love of the sea and poetry remain unchanged from her bio in the AP, as will her scrap with the crewman when she boarded the Jenivere.

She is also the first Castaway whose faction affiliation I have changed. According to my faction listing, House Thuranni replaces the Red Mantis Assassins, but Aerys is written to be affiliated with the Order of the Emerald Claw. The problem that I kept coming back to is that I wanted to write the misogyny parts out of her background since Eberron is written to be very gender equal (so is Golarian in many ways, and that aspect of her story doesn't make much sense in light of that). The solution that I kept coming back to was to simply change her faction of House Thuranni and make her a bastard child to give her the rage issues.

Aerys boarded the Jenivere in Regalport.

Gelik Aberhinge: No real changes to him at all. I simply changed "Pathfinder Society" to "Wayfinder Foundation" and had him board in Trollanport.

Ishirou: Another castaway with no changes to his background. I changed him to a human of Reidran descent and changed the Aspis Consortium to the Aurum. Ishirou boarded in Sharn.

Jask (Derindi) Tharashk: Jask is a human member of House Tharashk cleric of the Sovereign Host (versitile enough that I don't have to change his domains) who once worked in the Stormreach enclave. He uncovered unsanctioned side deals involving one he enclave higher ups selling dragonshards through a Lhazaarite captain to cut the House out of the transactions and pocket the difference. After being framed for those betrayals, he fled as far Q'barra before being hunted down by Tharashk agents and sent back to Stormreach for punishment. He was handed over to the captain of the Jenivere in Adderport.

Sasha Nevah: I simply changed Red Mantis to Order of the Emerald Claw in her background and the rest worked out perfectly. I did have to change her faction (according to a direct port she would have been a member of House Thuranni), but the violent exile from her Order made more sense for the Emerald Claw than for House Thuranni.

Sasha boarded the Jenivere in Port Krev.

I have also, borrowing heavily from Khasmo's Obsidian Portal page (link in his post above) created handouts to serve as a Player's Guide for this campaign. The handouts are available here.

So, other than a few minor changes that I will be able to implement on the fly, I feel like I am ready to roll with this campaign. I hope that talking through my thought processes and decisions here helps someone down the road, or at least makes an interesting read.

I will most likely make similar updates as I convert Book 2. In the meantime, feel free to post any questions or comments that you have about my work here.

It has taken me longer than I expected to make this update, but I haven't been idle on this project either. When working out what to do with the NPC Castaways, I decided that I wanted to do as little mechanical conversion as possible and focus on their backgrounds and faction affiliations. But before I could figure that out, I needed to settle on which power groups in Eberron would be joining the quest to Qabalrin.

Instead of trying to translate the Golarion factions over to their closest Eberron counterparts, I feel like it will increase the Eberron feel of the campaign if I start by asking which Eberron factions would interested in finding and exploring Qabalrin, then mapping those over to the published factions based on tactics, general attitude, and my own ability to link the NPC Castaways to them. Here is what I have come up with:

Aurum: The Aurum, or at least members of it, are always looking for ways to increase their wealth and power in Khorvaire; and the ancient artifacts and possible lost knowledge in Qabalrin are sure ways to obtain both. The Aurum translates cleanly over to the Aspis Consortium in both motive and tactics, making it one of the two factions that convert overly with little effort.

Wayfinder Foundation: Founded specifically to explore Xen'Drik and bring the secrets of the Lost Continent to light, the Wayfinder Foundation is an obvious choice for the expedition Qabalrin. As a clean translation to the Pathfinder Society, they are easy to translate over to Eberron.

Order of the Emerald Claw: This one took a long look into the background of Eberron to put in here. The brief write-up of Qabalrin in Secrets of Xen'Drik mentions that the first vampires on Eberron were possibly created by the Elves of Qabalrin. Since Vol was turned into a lich against her will, and (I believe according to Keith Baker's website) has actively sought ways to end her condition in the past, word of a possible location of Qabalrin would be enough for her to send an expedition of her elite soldiers into the jungles of Xen'Drik. Based off of their ruthless approach to the expedition, the Order will fill the place of the Shackles Pirates on the expedition. (There was some additional difficulties with the associated NPC, but more on that below.)

House Thuranni: Since their founding following the Shadow Schism, House Thuranni has held a deep interest in Elven history, so an expedition to find the ancient Elven city of Qabalrin is right in their wheelhouse. Their small expedition size and focus on stealth make them an easy parallel to the Red Mantis Assassins.

House Tharashk: Legend has it that Qabalrin was destroyed in a rain of Siberys dragonshards. As the source of the majority of Khorvaire's dragonshards, House Tharashk is not going to sit still and let a potentially massive source of rare Siberys dragonshard fall into the hands of another organization. Even though it is not a particularly good match of theme or motive, there is nothing in their tactics that makes it an unbelievable stretch to match them to the Sargavan Government faction.

Now that I have settled on the factions, it is time to work out the NPC Castaways. I will make that a new post because I need to move to my tablet so my wife can nap.

I tend to have a pretty regular 3-man side game going with my wife and another couple for when the main game can't get together for a while.

We had the most luck with Paladin-Wizard-Bard. Enough healing to get by, buffing from the Bard, blasting (my wife likes evokers) and non-combat spells from the Wizard, raw damage and tanking from the Paladin, plenty of skills between the Wizard and Bard, two high Charisma characters. The only real hole that we missed was trap finding, but that never really became a problem in our campaign.

The key to a 3-man group is generous ability scores (our GM tends to let us make uber characters for these groups) and careful selection of magic gear. Leadership also makes a good choice for these types of parties if someone can afford to use a feat on it.

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