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Squidmasher wrote:
Who uses a creature with +0 Perception as a sentry?

The same person that creates a creature that will on average turn on them in 5 minutes, and will definitely do so in 10?

So what are golems being used for, if not being told to stay in a room and attack anyone other than the creator who enters or similar? No Int, no skills, no self awareness. The only valid answer to that is "they appear with an enemy caster". So how high a level does a caster have to be to make one of those things? It's probably higher than 7.


Initially I assumed everyone capable of learning already knew this, as it was quite painfully obvious. Apparently not though, so here it is.

You can't hurt things.

It's that simple.

Anyone HP damage based already has to struggle immensely to do enough damage to make enemies care they exist. If enemies do not care they exist, they might as well not exist.

If you hold a shield in your hand, you immediately lose half your damage or more. So even if you could, otherwise do enough damage to matter, now you can't. Let's ignore the many flaws with PF martials here that would prevent them from meeting this criteria regardless here.

Not to mention you'll still be hit easily by anything that doesn't just ignore you because you are a non threat, and the things that do ignore you walk around, so it's not as if holding a shield grants any advantage.

In 3.5, the Animated property allowed martial characters to have a shield, and still do damage. This property was heavily nerfed in PF, so that is not an option. CoDzillas can still hold a shield, as it doesn't interfere with their spells. Wizards can hold shields too, without it interfering with their spells. In all cases the shields are there for special properties, and not AC as you will be hit anyways, but the point is that in PF, as a martial character you cannot use a shield without hopelessly gimping yourself.

The sole exception is at level 1. This is because 1d8+5 actually holds up decently against 13 HP enemies, and at this level the shield bonus to AC actually matters. But even at level 2, enemies have way too many HP to make a non two hander viable. As early as 5, you can forget about tickling the 56 HP to death. It gets far, far worse at 10, 15, and 20.


Squidmasher wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:


Golems also have low HP, so it still works fine.

That particular golem has 79 HP, no save over +3 (at a level at which you have a spell DC of 17-20, without trying depending on spell level), is mindless, and can't see very well.

So let's see...

Silent Image, walk around.
Fog spell, walk around.
Grease, walk around.
Glitterdust, walk around.

If for some reason you want to actually fight the thing, even though there's no point in doing so cast summons. Or better yet, let the Druid's pet solo it. After all I never assumed the Wizard was alone, just that there were ways around SR. I'm not quite sure where the no martials thing came from, but Druid pets aren't martial classes in any case.

I still don't see how Silent Image beats golems. It can still hear you in fog. It can still move at half speed while prone from slipping in Grease, and it can get up once it's out of the spell's radius. It can still hear you with Glitterdust.

If you want to fight it with summons, your piddly little creatures are still going to have a hard time breaking through its DR. Assuming you use Summon Monster IV, your best damage dealers are Hound Archons, Lions, and Grizzly Bears. But they still have trouble getting through DR. Let's assume you got the golem with Grease and Glitterdust, which gives it an effective AC of 14. I'm going to run the DPR on a Grizzly Bear factoring in the golem's DR, but I won't bother with the Hound Archon or Lion. If you're that curious about how it would look, you can run it on your own. I'm sure they won't be much better than the bear.

Grizzly Bear: .65(3.5)+.05*.65(3.5)=2.38875. Grizzly has 3 attacks just like that, so that's a total of 7.16625 DPR. Over the 7 round duration of the spell, that's a grand total of around 50.13675 damage. Not enough to kill the golem. If you were a Conjurer with Augment Summoning, your bear would probably manage to kill it, but if not, you're still spending two of your highest level spells killing this thing, which is a pretty...

Victory condition: Defeat the encounter. Since it's a mindless creature, who is typically a sentry getting around qualifies. And since it has +0 Perception, there is also Invis and walk around.

Also, you don't move at half speed when prone. That is only when not prone.

And you can assume a higher level golem if you'd like. Mindless creatures are free XP, so the party won't mind.

Not even touching on such things as the problem with the Berserk ability here. That makes things a lot worse, mostly because it means there is no golem.


Squidmasher wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
Low magic means you do not get any of those stats. Hell, high magic still gets you auto hit.

But with my low magic rules, you can get high AC/CMD. The whole thing is built around getting you the same numbers (or close) as the ones you get in high magic.

Quite the generalization in any case. A sword and board Fighter can get 25 AC at 4th level even under my rules without taking Dodge, Combat Expertise, or Shield Focus, which means the Owlbear, the primary grapple monster at that level, needs to roll a 17 on its attack roll to hit with its grab, and then roll again to hit CMD (albeit with a much higher chance, but it's still not a formality). At 8th level, the same Fighter can have 29 AC(+11 armor, +4 shield, +2 Dex, +2 dodge) without any sort of AC boosting feats, which means your average monster still has to roll about 15+ to hit him. This trend continues through the levels; AC is not just a formality if you devote actual resources to it.

You are a sword and board character at a level other than 1. You are automatically invalid.


Mok wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
Almost every enemy in the book can beat a 30 foot move speed.

I am a bit confused with all these monsters running away. In 30 years of D&D I haven't encountered many creatures that run away much. Usually it's just fight till the end. Not that it isn't exciting or interesting to have morale features in the game, it's just not something I've seen happen all that much.

But just looking over the database of the SRD, there are 182 creatures from both Bestiaries that have 30' or below speed. That doesn't take into account weirder listings with other odd types of speeds, or even those creatures which are stationary, like some plants.

So there is ample material to use in a campaign just over the issue of whether or not PCs can catch some creature running away from them.

The enemies are not running away. They are running after you when you run away. And since they are faster...

Reading comprehension is your friend.

On a side note, even though enemies are faster, their attempts to run away don't work either. So yeah.


Brian Bachman wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
Lots and lots of stuff.

Just a few things.

I don't mean to be dismissive, I just don't think anyone wants to hear us rehash the exact same arguments we've had before. I don't particularly like to repeat myself, and don't think anybody else wants to read it. So if it is ground we have covered repeatedly before, I choose to just summarize our disagreement and move on to new ground. You're welcome to disagree with how I summarize it, if you want.

I don't like repeating myself either. Which is why I hate even having to have a document with all of my posts in it in case I ever need to repost them as a result of biased moderation. But hey, immature forums warrant immature tactics.

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Thank you for pointing out two errors in my analysis. It should be +5 to hit rather than +4. Although that has a minor cascade effect on the math, in the end it doesn't change the conclusion, as it is still less than a 1% chance of a one shot by the orc on even a marginal martial character. I also forgot ferocity, which does make it almost impossible for the martial class to one shot the orc without buffs. Good catch. That's what I get for trying to do something from memory rather than looking it up.

The thing is, once he goes down it becomes trivial to hit him.

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I fully admit Mr. Fighter is not optimized. I did that deliberately, as optimizing him would give poor Mr. Orc no chance at all of one-shotting him. I was deliberately and I thought explicitly choosing a worst case scenario to make the point that it only gets better from there.

The problem is that even in a real scenario it still doesn't work out well. So no.

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As to your 10 orcs scenario, it is, as Fergie pointed out, ludicrously inappropriate for 4 1st level characters.

His math is wrong, as usual.

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The idea that they all charge the same character is similarly ludicrous, and by my reading of the RAW, impossible, as they need a straight and unobstructed line to the target. After the first one charges, the others can't. If they are all going at the same time, they would interfere with each other, and only one or two would get charges in. I can see allowing simultaneous charges from different sides of the PC if he starts then encounter surrounded, but that's clearly a specific and uncommon circumstance. And, as the rules clearly state, there are many, many other things that can prevent charges. That's why I didn't include it, or any other special tactics, in the analysis. Including them makes it much more complicated, and further favors the fighter who probably has access to more of them. Besides, what are the other characters doing while the fighter gets gangbanged? Sitting with their thumbs up their asses? Do the orcs beat everybody's initiative (with that awesome initiative bonus of, wait for it, +0)? Does the fighter just separate himself from his comrades, spread his arms wide and close his eyes like a sacrificial lamb?

At least 3 can charge the same person. And that's with Falchions. If they instead have some use Falchions and some use Spears, also an orcish weapon you can have 10 charge the same character. And that assumes the enemies only come from one side. If they are surrounding the group, more can.

Alternately they can move normally to surround a PC, and get the +2 via flanking if you would like. That is actually BETTER for the orcs than charging. But see, I picked things that were orc like, in addition to being successful.

And it doesn't matter who they target. Doesn't have to be the Fighter. As stated, it could be anyone. It doesn't much matter, because the focus fire will one round them regardless.

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I don't agree with your max HP of 13 for martial characters. Many have 14, and occasionally someone has more. Barbarians frequently have 16 or more. On the other hand, only the superoptimized wizard/sorcerer who has left large vulnerabilities in other stats to boost his Con will have 10 HP. I know all of yours will, but let's assume for a moment that your preferences do not define the gaming universe.

I assumed a typical party makeup. Cleric/Fighter/Rogue/Wizard. All have favored class: HP. The Wizard has 16 Con, the others have 14. This means the Cleric has 11 HP, and 25 until death, the Fighter has 13 HP, and 27 until death, the Rogue has 11 HP, and 25 until death, and the Wizard has 10 HP, and 26 until death. Notice that there is very little variance. That's why it doesn't matter who they target.

A Barbarian will have 15. Rage doesn't count, because that just causes rage death when you get KOed. Even so, that only amounts to 2 more than the Fighter. Not a big difference, even at this level as it is less than one quarter of one hit.

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The Fast Track assumption, skilled DM jibe and so forth strike me as a vain attempt to explain away why you don't like to play at low levels. Why don't you admit you just don't like low level play? That's OK. It really is ... without any foolish attempts to justify it by assuming a mantle of non-existent superiority.

The dismissive handwaving again.

My not liking it is irrelevant to the fact it does not work. We are discussing the fact it does not work, not what some random guy on the Internet thinks about it.


Laurefindel wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
The enemies outrun you, you die tired. Thus you need teleport, except you can't get it, so you either fight and win or fight and die, but you do not run. Grapplers hold you anyways. Any adventure with a time table you automatically fail, because you can't get there.

Ennemies built to face magic-happy opponents will outrun you.

Adventures with a timetable expecting character to teleport around town will most-likely fail in low magic.

Granted, the system as writen takes a large amount of magic into account. Remove availability to magic and the game doesn't work as intended. Therefore the need for a book that IMO, would be very popular.

'findel

Almost every enemy in the book can beat a 30 foot move speed.


Squidmasher wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:


Actually, golems are rather weak in general, and weaker after the crippling, so not really. Meanwhile spells like Glitterdust end fights, even though the fight does not technically end after it is cast, the rest is just making it official. Other enemies with SR can do more when crippled. It's still not going to take much resources.

Golems aren't the strongest monsters, to be sure, but your summoned monsters are pretty crappy against CR appropriate monsters anyway. The DR that just about every golem packs makes it a definite pain for your summons to bypass, and they have to take the golem's attacks while they're whittling away at its hp. Glitterdust helps your monster not get torn to shreds in one round, but it doesn't end the fight. You make the enemy a lot less effective, but you don't win with it. You have to seal the deal with damage from some source, and summoned monsters aren't exactly the best at damage. But these abstractions aren't going to get us anywhere.

Suppose you're a 7th level Wizard who doesn't necessarily know he's going to be running into golems today, but he encounters a Flesh Golem. How do you handle it?

Golems also have low HP, so it still works fine.

That particular golem has 79 HP, no save over +3 (at a level at which you have a spell DC of 17-20, without trying depending on spell level), is mindless, and can't see very well.

So let's see...

Silent Image, walk around.
Fog spell, walk around.
Grease, walk around.
Glitterdust, walk around.

If for some reason you want to actually fight the thing, even though there's no point in doing so cast summons. Or better yet, let the Druid's pet solo it. After all I never assumed the Wizard was alone, just that there were ways around SR. I'm not quite sure where the no martials thing came from, but Druid pets aren't martial classes in any case.


Squidmasher wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:

They do when the sources are magical.

As for enemies, still plenty of those that fly without magic, even if you ignore that most "low magic" means "low magic for you, not low magic for the rest of the world". Teleportation is an absolute requirement because short distance teleportation is the only way to escape a decent grapple, medium distance is the only way to escape combats, and long distance is the only way to get to where you need to be within a reasonable time frame. Potions of anything are incredibly overpriced, and waste actions. Meanwhile Haste items are a free action.

The sources aren't magical anymore. Being built into the character, they're all just sort of there. Since the system assumes you have those bonuses, though, they need to come from somewhere, and low-magic is more flavor as it is anything. I want to play low-magic Pathfinder, not another system, so I make as few changes as possible to keep the game working as it should. Making sure the bonuses are there through building them into the characters accomplishes that.

"Low Magic" does not mean "low magic for you, not low magic for the rest of the world" in my campaign. That's a straw man. I explicitly stated that low magic applies to everyone, not just the players. The enemy doesn't have magical flight, Haste, or teleportation either.

"Decent" grapples can be avoided by having high AC and CMD. Escaping combats isn't a strict necessity, and you can accomplish that with clever tactics or just running like hell, depending on your class. Long distance teleportation isn't a big deal because no one has it in my low-magic campaigns, so the idea of a "reasonable time frame" is vastly different than it is in a normal magic campaign. I changed the way potions work to make them less of an action waste, seeing as anyone can make them in my campaign, the price issue is considerably less important. I do have a few special materials for weapons that act as if they had the Speed property as well.

Low magic means you do not get any of those stats. Hell, high magic still gets you auto hit.


Caineach wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:

They do when the sources are magical.

As for enemies, still plenty of those that fly without magic, even if you ignore that most "low magic" means "low magic for you, not low magic for the rest of the world". Teleportation is an absolute requirement because short distance teleportation is the only way to escape a decent grapple, medium distance is the only way to escape combats, and long distance is the only way to get to where you need to be within a reasonable time frame. Potions of anything are incredibly overpriced, and waste actions. Meanwhile Haste items are a free action.

Or, you know, you are completely failing to understand the differences in a low magic campaign. There is no retreating with teleport: you have to do it the old fashioned way using your feat. Escape Artist and opposed CMB checks will get you out of a grapple, or you can just kill it first. And you actually have to physically travel from 1 place to annother, likely by boat or horse. This gives you time to use natural healing too, rather than magic. Potions become valuable because you can't get those shiny swift action boots, so you are not hasted every fight. If you have no other way of boosting yourself, the price of a potion of haste starts to look very cost effective.

The enemies outrun you, you die tired. Thus you need teleport, except you can't get it, so you either fight and win or fight and die, but you do not run. Grapplers hold you anyways. Any adventure with a time table you automatically fail, because you can't get there.


Squidmasher wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
Squidmasher wrote:
And inside of core, I can't imagine there's much I failed to mention. So assuming you're playing strict Pathfinder with no 3.5 materials like I do, SR is still a pretty big obstacle unless you pick your race and two feats just to bypass it. And at that point, SR largely becomes a formality, but hey, if you went to lengths like that, you deserve to bypass SR.
Except that as stated, the first point alone covers it. Anything after it, such as that point is only mentioned for the sake of completeness. Therefore it is not an obstacle at all. It isn't even something you will necessarily notice, as all those SR: No spells are things you'd happily cast anyways.
But none of those spells actually win the encounter. You have to spend them and then a pretty hefty number of Summon spells, because even a de-buffed golem is still probably better than anything you can summon.

Actually, golems are rather weak in general, and weaker after the crippling, so not really. Meanwhile spells like Glitterdust end fights, even though the fight does not technically end after it is cast, the rest is just making it official. Other enemies with SR can do more when crippled. It's still not going to take much resources.


Squidmasher wrote:
And inside of core, I can't imagine there's much I failed to mention. So assuming you're playing strict Pathfinder with no 3.5 materials like I do, SR is still a pretty big obstacle unless you pick your race and two feats just to bypass it. And at that point, SR largely becomes a formality, but hey, if you went to lengths like that, you deserve to bypass SR.

Except that as stated, the first point alone covers it. Anything after it, such as that point is only mentioned for the sake of completeness. Therefore it is not an obstacle at all. It isn't even something you will necessarily notice, as all those SR: No spells are things you'd happily cast anyways.


Squidmasher wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:

Translation: Take the magic, reskin it in a way that is technically higher magic, call it lower magic, and consider that a success?

Let's not even get into the fact that most of the "low magic" types come about to try and avoid basic stat booster items, not realizing the game does not function without them. So they certainly will not reflavor them as innate abilities.

Let's not get into the utility effects, such as flight, teleportation, and haste just to name a few that are most definitely magic. And you still need those.

So higher numbers on your character sheet are automatically magic now? I realize the game assumes you need certain stats, so I address it by giving those stats without magic.

I'm not most "low magic" types. We're discussing my suggestions right now, not theirs.

As for utilities, I said I'm running low magic. That applies to the enemies, too. You don't need flight nearly as much if the enemies don't have much of it, either. The few flying creatures still around when you take out most of the outsiders are things that had natural fly speeds to begin with, and you probably weren't ever going to be able to keep up with them with a standard fly spell anyway. Teleportation isn't exactly necessary. It's nice, but you don't strictly need it. Haste isn't completely needed, but if you really like it, you can still make potions of it.

They do when the sources are magical.

As for enemies, still plenty of those that fly without magic, even if you ignore that most "low magic" means "low magic for you, not low magic for the rest of the world". Teleportation is an absolute requirement because short distance teleportation is the only way to escape a decent grapple, medium distance is the only way to escape combats, and long distance is the only way to get to where you need to be within a reasonable time frame. Potions of anything are incredibly overpriced, and waste actions. Meanwhile Haste items are a free action.


Squidmasher wrote:
1) Which spells do you use instead of direct Save or Suck/Die or blasting to win fights without the help of martial characters?

Depends on the monster. There's two types. The golems, and the everything else with SR.

The first type is beyond trivial, due to their abysmal saves. Any indirect save or die that is SR: No, and that the construct type does not grant immunity to, such as Glitterdust and they're shut down. You can also auto win with Silent Image, Grease, any fog spell...

The second type might or might not be difficult, but save or loses still work fine.

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2)Can you explain this one further? I see playing an elf and taking Spell Penetration, but besides that, I don't really see any ways of boosting your bonus against SR.

Items, feats, Assay, Arcane Mastery... As I said, mostly non core, but this is really just for completeness. The first point alone is enough to never need to make a SR check.

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3) Indirect spell use is fairly circumstantial. If there's no bridge to disintegrate under them or no stalactite to drop (or other convenient terrain feature), there's not much you can do. Summons are fairly weak in combat, and I really can't see them standing up to CR appropriate monsters in a fight for more than a round or two.

See previous comment. As for summons, they can finish off crippled enemies. That's all they need to do. Martial characters can't survive more than a round or two vs level appropriate opposition either. Difference is you don't care if a summon dies. And since this is PF, you aren't making a martial character who can contribute. It is not possible.


Squidmasher wrote:


You can remove the Big Six by just building the bonuses into the characters without the items being present. Start on a 25 point buy and give an ability score increase at every even level to balance the lack of stat-boosters, give a +1 bonus on all saves every 3 levels, give a +1 dodge bonus to AC every 3 levels, base weapon and armor quality off of material strength instead of magical enhancements (and add in new materials to duplicate the effect of more popular enhancements like Keen). Remove Craft Magic Arms and Armor and just let people craft with their Craft skills. Rework DR/magic to just need better materials. Add in Reserve Points from Unearthed Arcana to allow some non-magical healing, and sever potions from spellcasting by basing Brew Potion off of Craft (Potions) or Profession (Herbalist) instead of Caster Level. Handwave all spellcasting requirements for making potions. Make drinking potions a move action that doesn't provoke, add a potion bandoleer that allows people to draw them as a swift action. Lastly, ban all primary casters because they don't fit in with low-magic.

Translation: Take the magic, reskin it in a way that is technically higher magic, call it lower magic, and consider that a success?

Let's not even get into the fact that most of the "low magic" types come about to try and avoid basic stat booster items, not realizing the game does not function without them. So they certainly will not reflavor them as innate abilities.

Let's not get into the utility effects, such as flight, teleportation, and haste just to name a few that are most definitely magic. And you still need those.


Squidmasher wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:


And no, SR is irrelevant so don't bring it up.

You keep saying that and I still have no idea why that's the case. Care to explain?

Multiple reasons.

1: SR: No spells. Even in just core, you can do everything but blast or direct save or die without ever touching a SR: Yes spell. Blasting sucks, and direct save or dies were nerfed in PF, so you're not missing anything. All enemies could have SR: level + 100, and it'd not change what you are doing one iota. In non core you can even blast and direct save or die without touching SR. But let's ignore that.

2: Bypassing SR is not that hard even if for some reason you insist on going through it. There are so many things that boost your ability to blast through SR it is quite possible to say... roll 1d20+38 at level 16, without trying that hard. Granted many of these are non core, but see the previous point for why this only matters if you insist on playing an ineffective build.

3: Any use of indirect magic bypasses SR entirely. Disintegrate (aimed at the floor) and TK (to throw various oversized weapons) are but the simplest and least creative examples. In 3.5 there's also buffing (there aren't any worthwhile buffs in PF). Summons work too.


Fergie wrote:

A great example is the Second Darkness campaign. I noticed that several folks playing this AP had trouble with overpowered monks. While monks are generally considered one of the least powerful classes, they do very well in this AP. At the risk of giving away anything, it is because one of the primary enemies is a race of humanoids, who cast spells, have generally poor fortitude saves, and fight with things like rapiers and hand crossbows. The monk can make his saves, use his stunning fist ability, and make CMB maneuvers. The monk is generally able to participate in combats in a very effective way.

Translation: If the enemies are gimped enough, even those that are themselves heavily gimped can contribute against them.

Of course, once you start using encounters that are designed half decently, so you can't just go Fort save or lose, got them all Stunning Fist goes right back to the pass on a 2 status inherent to having something tied to a non primary stat. It also helps if you use a better race than Drow, which is quite obvious even with your attempt to avoid spoilers as I guessed it in half a second without ever having looked at that AP.

And no, SR is irrelevant so don't bring it up.


Wolfsnap wrote:

I have never run a group all the way up to epic levels, but I'd like to run an epic game sometime, maybe a single adventure over a few session. As a DM, I feel the need to ask advice from anyone who has experience with epic play:

I'm assuming levels 17-20 constitutes epic play. Is that a fair assessment?

Epic has a specific meaning. That meaning is level 21+. 17-20 is "very high level".

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Should I assume that any epic party has access to raise dead/resurrection relatively easily? If I want to make particular threats seem more urgent, is givin the antagonists a resurrection-proof means of killing considered cheap? Is it something that should be done only occasionally in the game?

Any living high level party can easily trivialize death. As such things that make it harder, or impossible to come back should be common.

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Should I assume the party has a quick way to deal with any poison or disease? Will such afflictions basically only matter for the length of a combat? (sometimes not even that?)

All PCs are always immune to poison beginning at 11. They've stopped caring about diseases at 5. These are not remotely significant factors in any encounter.

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What kind of damage can an epic melee character put out? How about an epic caster? How much healing power can an epic healer lay out?

300-400 or more for the melee character if he's worthwhile. If he is not worthwhile, he's dead. Casters do at or close to 0 damage at this level, same as any other level. That's because they are bypassing HP entirely to do something right now. The healing power available is quite irrelevant, as all PCs will always enter all fights at full health, same as they have since level 1-3. They will also either have their HP bypasses entirely, or have those HP plowed through in 1 round. Anything that cannot do either of those things is irrelevant. So no need to measure healing.

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What constitutes a mook at that level? By this I mean an antagonist who can credibly threaten a PC, but will be easy to dispatch.

Is it a primary spellcaster? Dragons count, Outsiders with a save or lose array count. If it is not, it is completely irrelevant and cannot threaten anyone at this level.

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If I take Lower CR monsters and give them class levels to bump them up to epic status, will that more likely to make for interesting challenges or long boring fights?

Does combat take forever?

Depends on the class levels, but combat will be fast and brutal regardless.

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What constitutes an epic-level skill challenge?

Skills expired at level 5. No such thing.


Hey look, we're back to randomly deleting posts that in no way violate the rules. Biased moderation is fun.


Brian Bachman wrote:
I understand your group had certain experiences that may or may not be unique to your table, and responded by creating a standard party build and tactical response that you have found good results with. I would just state that the way you guys chose to handle it is certainly not the only way, and may not even be the best way for other tables with different DMs and styles. But you probably knew that is what I would say and I know that you won't agree, so let's just leave it there.

The hand waving dismissing thing. You're doing it again.

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Instead, let me examine briefly one of the assertions you make repeatedly, that party death at first level is completely random across all classes because level appropriate monsters can one or two shot any PC and kill them. I'll venture into the math, where I rarely go, to show the fallacy in that statement, and why, at low levels, martial characters have some significant advantages in survivability.

Let's go with Fergie's falchion-armed orc as a typical 1st level encounter. It has +4 to hit and does 2d4+4 damage, generating possible crits on an impressive 18-20. A party of 4 of these guys would be a pretty challenging encounter for 4 1st level PCs.

Stop. Right there.

1: You are artificially nerfing the enemies. This automatically invalidates any argument you make.

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Orc

CR 1/3
Melee falchion +5 (2d4+4/18–20)

2: Since it is CR 1/3, 4 of these guys is only marginally harder than a routine encounter. So it's still meant to be quite easy. For it to actually be remotely challenging, you'd need at least 10 of them (level +2 or so). Instead, it's just a speed bump.

3: Though it only has 6 HP, you need to do 18 damage to actually kill it, and until then it can still fight just fine. That makes it surprisingly resistant to PC rockets.

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Now, our typical martial character has at least 12 HP, and a Con of at least 12, so it takes 24 HP of damage to kill him outright. Most martial builds will probably be sturdier than that, but those are reasonable minimums. He also likely has an AC of at least 15, probably better, but we'll go with the worst case scenario for this. So Mr. Orc can hit Mr. Fighter 50% of the time, doing an average of 9 points of damage, and a maximum of 12 (note that 12 only occurs on 1 of 16 random rolls). No one-shot kill there, but might be taken to zero approximately 3% of the time.

At least assume reasonable stats. I am, and it still results in random death.

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So let's look at crits. Mr. Orc is excited because falchions generate lots of crits. He gets a possible crit 15% of the time, but can confirm it only 50% of the time. So he gets a crit on an impressive 7.5% of his swings. Unfortunately, to take Mr. Fighter directly to dead dead, he needs to do maximum damage, which as we mentioned before, only happens one in sixteen times. Average crit damage is 18. So that means his total chance to one shot Mr. Fighter is less than one half of one percent. His chance to take him to zero or lower is considerably better, but still less than 20%.

And then you remember there are four of them. He's in two hit KO range at any time. And they hit half the time.

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Add in the fact that the fighter ain't just standing there, has an even or better chance to win initiative and actually probably has a much better chance to one shot the orc than the orc has to one shot him, and the numbers go even lower. Make it a less optimal weapon for the orc than a falchion and it goes lower. Give him a better AC, and the chance goes down. Give the fighter more Con (and thus HPs) and it becomes impossible for the orc to one-shot him, and impossible for him to even take him to zero in one shot unless he crits.

With what actual abilities does the 1st level Fighter do 18 damage? Sure it's possible with a Str of 20 and a Greatsword, but you have proven to be the sort opposed to common sense building decisions, and that is still only 1:12 odds on a hit.

Quote:
So, your claim that character death is random at 1st level is demonstrably, by the math, untrue. The martial character has easily demonstrated mathematical survivability advantages at 1st level.

Except that he hasn't. Here's what actually happens:

Orcs all charge the same person, because they are orcs, and orcs charge things. Each of them does 6-12 damage, with a +7 to hit. That's a greater than 50% chance to be hit by any given attack. Regardless of who they are aimed at, as you are not getting an AC of 18 or better at this level without severely gimping your character.

The PC in question (doesn't matter who they are) has a HP total between 10 and 13, inclusive. Not much variance. So OHKOs are possible, two hit KOs practically assured. In addition, the PC in question, regardless of who they are needs to take anywhere from 25 damage (Rogues, the lowest defense classes in the game) to 27 damage (the martial types, CoDzillas) to die outright. Strictly speaking, a CoDzilla could have 28. 8 base, 3 Con, 1 favored class, dead at -16. But let's assume the CoDzillas do not have a 16 Con. Of course, once you do go down you immediately go to hit on a 2 or better status as helpless creatures are prone, and have an effective Dex of 0, meaning their AC is 1 + armor and is therefore around 7 or less.

So anyways, each attack has at least a coin toss chance of hitting, there's four of them, and any two hitting will drop that character on the spot.

If the first and the second hit, it's time to reroll, as the third and fourth will auto hit and assuredly kill.

If it takes until the third hit to drop you (aka, one miss early), the fourth might kill (18-36 damage vs 25-27 HP = better than 50% chance to die).

If it takes until the fourth hit to drop you (aka, two miss early) you probably don't die this round, but are easily finished off by the brutal and savage orcs if they ever get another turn. Better hope you can get a Color Spray in there, as you aren't plowing through 72 HP in 1 round as a level 1 party.

If the enemy gets a critical hit at any time, and this has an over one in four chance to happen a round every round at the absolute MINIMUM, you instantly go down if not down already, or instantly die if already down. And if this occurs on any attack other than Orc 4's attack, you die from the follow up.

So let's say your party of four somehow lucks out and beats the 4 Orcs without losing anyone.

Each person gains 135 XP. On the fast track, that is only marginally higher than 10% of a level. So you have 9 more of these, and you have to survive every single one of them just to get to level 2. You must then survive an additional 15 such fights to get to level 3. Then, and only then have you escaped the Luck Based Mission and can start making strategy and choices matter. Obviously, your chances of pulling this off 25 times in a row are absurdly low. That's why it's a Luck Based Mission.

Things get a lot worse if you don't have a DM skilled enough to realize any advancement track slower than Fast completely breaks the game. If you are unfortunate enough to have such a DM, you need to avoid random unavoidable death 15 times to hit 2 and 22 more times to hit 3 (Medium) or 23 times to hit 2 and 33 more times to hit 3 (Slow). Suffice it to say, not happening. Don't be surprised if the DM either has to fudge dice constantly, deliberately nerf enemies, or you are on "Bob the 20th" by level 3. Not to mention the obvious problems with such an approach, starting with "no one will take their characters seriously if they have to change them every other fight".

So we skip straight to level 3, that way we can actually do things like strategize, and roleplay, and otherwise play the game and have those things matter.

Now sure you can assume that because 4 Orcs is marginally harder than normal at level 1, you shouldn't do that. Well, ok. Then it's 3 Orcs. You still randomly die all the time. But at level 2 4 Orcs is a fair bit easier than normal, and by the same logic it should actually be around 6 or so to be a routine encounter. That results in more random death, not less. And once you remember that a sizeable percentage of encounters are meant to be harder than routine, the chance of random death goes up even more. And these are just stock Orcs, no modifications made of any kind. Which means they are very weak as actual threats go. I mean really. +4 racial bonus to Str and they STILL only manage a +3 modifier? Any PC would have +6 with that. Stock Orcs are terribly gimped.


Thalin wrote:
Divine metamagic may have been the silliest boost to a top-tier class ever.

DMM helps people other than the Cleric more than it helps the Cleric themselves. After all, the best buffs are self only, and in 3.5, where Dispel actually works it is something to be concerned about.

Quote:
All wizard/cleric prestige classes were top-heavy and very powerful.

No, 90% of them are complete wastes of ink because they lose 1 or more caster levels. And then most of the ones that are left do nothing special other than full casting, so it's more a flavor thing. Incantrix (setting specific, and I specifically added that comment to exclude FR books from this) and IotSV and... that's about it, really. Before anyone says it, Planar Shepherd is also campaign specific.

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Splat books started going too far into conjuration/illusion spells that bypassed SR, to the point where SR became worthless.

There were already dozens of ways to defeat SR completely. You can't make something irrelevant when it already is.

Quote:
In Pathfinder, APG was well-balanced and interesting, and they used us as guinea pig playtesters. They're doing the same with the ultimates, so I have hopes. Power creep was mostly circumvented, and where it did happen (growth domain ability) it was quickly errataed away.

APG offered a bunch more complete trash for martial characters, and a MASSIVE boost to primary spellcasters. Your argument is invalid.


BPorter wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
Arnwolf wrote:
I can't begin to tell you how much I want a book on running a low magic campaign. Especially where characters are not running around with ability scores above 18, and most ability scores being much lower.

Presumably the book will tell you how to retweak all the monsters in the bestiaries so you can run said game past level 3.

Why do so many people want to play Commoners & Housecats rather than Dungeons & Dragons?

For many of us, it's more about emulating sword-n-sorcery sources of inspiration rather than starting there and ending up being fantasy superheroes.

There are other genres & games for the capes & tights.

Also, low magic doesn't mean commoners & housecats. It means magic is a dangerous, often uncontrollable & sometimes corrupting force rather than a sterile, perfected technology/skill replacement.

Which means Commoners and Housecats. Which is actually more interesting than the game you are left with once the magic is gone. Hint: The magic is everything, so when it's gone you are left with nothing.


Brian Bachman wrote:

ust a couple of additional thoughts in reponse.

In my experience, the absolute worst rules lawyers and powergamers never, ever wanted to DM. They seemingly found far more fun in trying to break a game than in trying to create and sustain one. Those few powergamers I know who did attempt to DM were almost uniformly horrible at it. Combining a powergamer mentality with the DM's ultimate power over the game universe seems to quickly lead to a DM vs. Players dynamic, which then devolves into repeated TPKs. Unless of course, everybody at the table is a powergamer and agrees they pretty much want to play the game like a tactical wargame. Not for me, but I can see the right group having fun with that.

What you describe is a player problem, not a powergamer problem. The vast majority of powergamers/optimizers/what have you do not do this. And they make the best DMs both because they know and understand the rules well enough to not get bogged down by them, and because chances are they're better at fluff than the "real ROLEplayers" anyways.

You also assume that just because there are tactics in the fights that it becomes a tactical wargame in which the party gets slaughtered repeatedly. Sure that happens if the party sucks. If they don't suck they can deal with intelligent opponents that act intelligently just fine. Know what strains immersion and therefore roleplay? When that doesn't happen. The DM who makes enemies act their Int score is heightening the immersion in his world, not detracting from it.

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In my experience also, most of the splat books introduced more bugs than they fixed.

Let's take a look at 3.5, since there are plenty of examples, and let's ignore Complete Warrior, as that has the opposite effect.

Without exception, the books released that are not campaign specific have offered a significant power boost for the lower tier classes (and yes, be a Warblade is a power boost for anyone wanting to be a Fighter, as the fluff is the same, just you're not an NPC class) and offered very little in the way of power boosts for higher tier classes.

A primary spellcaster, in an anything goes game is still going to be at least 75% core, and 90% of their power will come from core.

Anyone else is going to have all sorts of things from other books, which they need to catch up.

For example a build that can kind of sort of protect others needs Stand Still from the EPH, Martial Stance: Thicket of Blades (or Crusader levels), among many other things outside of core just to even attempt it.

A build wanting to do enough damage to actually contribute needs Leap Attack, Shock Trooper, and other non core feats.


Gorbacz wrote:
Fnipernackle wrote:
but i do need some kind of damaging effect to use against them. is their anything at higher levels that can do anything to them?

Well, the point of golem magic immunity was to render them immune to magical blasting, among other things. That's why their saves are so crap.

Of course, you can go cheesy and use some SC stuff like Orbs, but don't expect a lot of love from the DM if you ask him about SC spells (or in worse case, don't expect a lot of love if he allows it and you end up going Ray of Stupidity and Wraithstrike on him).

Ray of Stupidity doesn't work. Wraithstrike isn't needed as they are easily hit.


Fnipernackle wrote:

Im a big fan of single targeting damage spells, but when I make spellcasting characters, I try to optimize his spell selection to be able to deal with a wide variety of things. As of right now though, Im having trouble finding spells that would be useable vs. creatures with magic immunity (spells that allow spell resistance autofail). they dont have to be single target but I just dont have the time right now to go through my tons of books to find all of the spells that are useable, so I thought Id ask and see what other people have used in this case.

I wont be surprised if I dont like some of the spells that people put down, seeing as how I have a different method of playing spellcasters than the majority on the forums, but it works for me and to each their own. Thanks in advance.

All golems have horrible saves. Hit them with anything that is SR: No, and you win.


ciretose wrote:

Except you can't lose intelligence or charisma while lockpicking, and lock picking is a skill check, and you don't have to spend your standard action concentrating on casting a spell while your mind is on another plane...

But if you would like to argue those factors are neither distracting nor dangerous, or that picking a lock out of combat is distracting or dangerous, please continue.

The lock contains a trap, which you think is relevant that does Int and/or Cha damage. Ability checks are the same as skill checks except the latter add ranks. You are concentrating on... sending your mind to another plane, so no you are not distracted from that other plane. The very same thing you are focusing on.

Meanwhile by your logic even if the lock is not trapped you are so distracted by picking the lock that you cannot focus properly on the lock, therefore you cannot take 10 on anything, ever.

Now Abundant Step away.


meabolex wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
At level 20, you can expect to have a 1/4 chance to fail a save or lose, and that's if you aren't trying.
The reroll mechanic is ubiquitous now. You can end up having 3-4 rerolls just for a single saving throw. If it's a 25% chance to end up failing a save or lose, the rerolls will bury that. . .

That qualifies as things that improve the situation from that which you aren't trying.

Quote:

Based on the discussions on this thread, I'm starting to think parties can easily design/outfit themselves for viability. Pushing for powerful offense isn't the real solution. The key questions seem to be:

* How often can I give the enemy the staggered condition during combat?

Largely a matter of offense.

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* How often can I avoid full attack actions?

Largely a matter of offense in PF (3.5 offers means of avoiding it other than kill it first or never get anywhere near it).

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* How often can I reroll/avoid save or lose spells/conditions?

Rare in PF, more common in 3.5, the only thing that isn't offense.

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Offense isn't the solution precisely because the game is moving away from the "rocket tag" type fast game. Healing is too easy, so continuous small damage isn't a early-game threat like it used to be. AoE blasting damage isn't nearly the threat it was in earlier editions. The real threats seem to be full attack actions and save or lose spells. If the party focuses on generating the staggered condition, full attack actions are only possible in a few situations. If the party focuses on rerolls, the threat of the 1 on the D20 goes down immensely.

No, offense still is the solution. You just need good offense. Non fatal HP damage is a worthless offense. Blasting spells are worthless because they didn't scale like everything else.


james maissen wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
james maissen wrote:

Now consider the spell traps that didn't have their CR altered. That is those that don't deal hp damage. If your party likes to simply trigger traps then might I suggest some simple CR 5 enervation traps for them? Perhaps a few CR 4 dispel magic traps that they will hit multiple times? Some other low level trap that they might have to fight an encounter on top of in addition to a normal EL fight (say by being warned that the party is around when they triggered a prior trap and then setting an ambush for when they run through the next one)? There are plenty of things that you can do with APL-5 traps that are worthless in terms of XP to the party that can really annoy them for not having a trapfinder that can simply bypass all of these.

Add to that the alarm factor of setting off traps and you can start to become a DM that incorporates traps into their game.

-James

Ok. Dispel trap is DC 28. Good luck hitting that at 4. Enervation trap is DC 29. Good luck hitting that at 5. Now let's ignore that both of those spells have been massively nerfed for a moment.

So you still just find them with your face, except now you're slower, have a dead weight class in the party, and just to really remind you of what a big mistake you are making - Enervation still does lower skills, so after one zap he fails even harder at dealing with traps.

Umm since you felt the need to quote all that I wrote, would you mind reading it again (or for a first time)?

The dispel trap is DC 28 and the enervation is DC 29, at level 9 a rogue is going to reasonably have a +23 (9 ranks +3 class +2WIS +4traps +5 eyes) perception check against them (more if there's a racial bonus to perception say from halfling/elf), so will make them with lots of room to spare on a take 10. With the trap spotter trait he doesn't even need to slow down to do so.

Meanwhile the disable DC is also 28/29 for these traps. At level 9 the rogue is going to reasonably have a +29 (9ranks +3class +6DEX...

And at level 4 and 5, when the traps are actually level appropriate, and not trivial?

It's like trying to defend a build's viability at level 9 by claiming it can deal with CR 5 opponents. If you are level 9, this stuff is supposed to be beyond trivial to you. Not the best you can do.

At level 9, the level appropriate traps are DC 33. And 5k is a fair bit to burn just to even attempt to be able to do your job. Meanwhile you are a Rogue in PF, and therefore the second worst class in the entire game, and you have further nerfed yourself by caring about traps.

At level 4 or 5, as would be necessary to deal with the traps when they matter 5k gold is almost all your wealth.


So basically it's a weaker Abrupt Jaunt that anyone can use? Still unimpressed. The only problem there is shuffling in multiple x/day items.


james maissen wrote:

Now consider the spell traps that didn't have their CR altered. That is those that don't deal hp damage. If your party likes to simply trigger traps then might I suggest some simple CR 5 enervation traps for them? Perhaps a few CR 4 dispel magic traps that they will hit multiple times? Some other low level trap that they might have to fight an encounter on top of in addition to a normal EL fight (say by being warned that the party is around when they triggered a prior trap and then setting an ambush for when they run through the next one)? There are plenty of things that you can do with APL-5 traps that are worthless in terms of XP to the party that can really annoy them for not having a trapfinder that can simply bypass all of these.

Add to that the alarm factor of setting off traps and you can start to become a DM that incorporates traps into their game.

-James

Ok. Dispel trap is DC 28. Good luck hitting that at 4. Enervation trap is DC 29. Good luck hitting that at 5. Now let's ignore that both of those spells have been massively nerfed for a moment.

So you still just find them with your face, except now you're slower, have a dead weight class in the party, and just to really remind you of what a big mistake you are making - Enervation still does lower skills, so after one zap he fails even harder at dealing with traps.


Well the thing is, before we learned what classes worked, we really racked up the death count by feeding the monsters with NPC classes like Fighter, Paladin, etc. Eventually we started playing solid classes. The deaths dropped dramatically. There still were a lot of unlucky save or lose fails, but not nearly as many as with the low tier classes. The number of deaths that could not be attributed to lack of power or bad luck is surprisingly small. Mostly because at the same time we were learning what classes do and do not work, we were learning how to use the good classes effectively. End result? Not a lot of tactical failure. For example, at least 3 or 4 deaths came about because we DID stop and check for traps, instead of just blitzing the dungeon and outrunning the alarms. Because we were slow, enemies buffed up fully. That was actually the closest we came to the entire party dying. Suffice it to say when I mock trapfinding as a liability, it's for good reason!

There were also less deaths at higher levels, because higher level characters tend to have more answers to incoming rockets other than get hit by them.

At level 1, any random nobody can walk up to you and 1-2 shot you.

At level 20, they need a full attack to do that. Much less likely.

At level 1, you can expect to only have a 1/4 chance to pass a save or lose.

At level 20, you can expect to have a 1/4 chance to fail a save or lose, and that's if you aren't trying.


Kamelguru wrote:
Never had a problem with the players having "power". Heck, it allowed me to make some really insane NPCs and monsters to pit against them. Or, I did, until we started doing APs. Then I either had to re-write the entire things to make the encounters even worth playing out instead of just saying "you win in less than 20 seconds, without much risk". So I just limited them to core to get rid of the invincible wizard, swift action channeling and the less than 10k items that mimic epic feats, which I am sure makes CoDzilla think less of me. Personally, I don't mind it all that much if I actually make stuff from scratch, but I am growing weary and lazy, and can't be arsed anymore.

You keep mentioning that Epic Dodge thing. But really, 95% of "Epic" feats are complete wastes of space even if you could take them at level 1.


Brian Bachman wrote:


My experience is very different from yours. Of course, you've already said in other threads that you don't really play the lower levels anymore, so perhaps your experience with it is not that broad. Low level characters do indeed go down frequently, as they are fragile, but so are their opponents, and most of them, even on crits, can't do enough damage to take someone, particularly a well-built martial character, immediately into death. Swarming tactics are indeed dangerous, particularly for those characters rash/stupid enough to expose themselves to being surrounded. Playing a little smarter tactically usually prevents that from happening a lot. Now, I can see your point if your DM decides that the goblins' highest priority, rather than winning or surviving the fight, is to coup de grace any downed characters. That, IMHO, is a particularly nasty metagaming DM style, but it would make low levels very deadly.

Define lower levels. If it's 1 or 2 you're right. If it's 3 or higher you're wrong. And the reason why we stopped is because it is a Luck Based Mission - regardless of strategy, build solidity, or approach all it takes is for one random nobody to close to you, and swing once and you're down. Likely down and out.

For example, stock Orcs are what? 8-14? 1st level PF characters have 10-13 HP, so it's generally a OHKO, and crits can outright kill a character from full health. There's also three of them per routine encounter, more in harder fights. So if it's not a OHKO, it kills in two hits, and there's several of them, so at least one PC/round is going down.

As for goblins, I dunno what goblins you fight but every goblinoid I've ever seen anywhere is played as dirty, opportunistic fighters. In other words if anyone is going to make sure the enemy STAYS down, it's a goblinoid. Particularly an actual goblin, as they certainly are lacking in size and strength.

And it only takes 2-3 to focus fire and one round you. So unless there's a conveniently placed 5 foot hallway, and they can't get behind you, they can swarm you sufficiently.


TakeABow wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
TakeABow wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
Misattribute quotes much?
Explain.
You attributed a quote to me. I did not say that. I did not say anything like that. Simple to understand.

'like that' meaning the entire discussion where you explained how a single adamantine bolt can bypass essentially all locks. A new DM making their own game or using a published adventure is likely to find locks. Chances are they want those locks to remain challenges, and you pointed out a way that invalidates the open lock skill (the adamantine bolts). Since you pointed this out, I attributed the logical solution to you.

I'm simply trying to give credit where it is due, and you were the source of the adamantine bolt idea in this thread. Since that is a problem a new DM might have to solve, it goes on the list.

Simple to understand.

And you are still misrepresenting my position. Yes, I said adamantine bolts bypass locks. But so does breaking the door down. And since actually picking the lock is a non option unless the DM deliberately nerfs the locks, alternative means of dealing with the locked door must be used.

But the open lock skill is already invalid, because it never works. So regardless of if there are alternatives or not, you're not getting past locked doors by picking the locks.


TakeABow wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
Misattribute quotes much?
Explain.

You attributed a quote to me. I did not say that. I did not say anything like that. Simple to understand.

Of course, so is "Doing a thing does not distract you from doing that same thing, and if it did Take 10 would not exist as you could never use it, but it does exist, and it's clear what it works on." That isn't stopping him from continuing to be deliberately obtuse though.


MMOs and CRPGs are only at risk of replacing poor games and systems. The good ones offer things that grind games do not.


Kamelguru wrote:

@CoDzilla: Predicting/foreseeing everything that is available in terms of spells and ways to deal with things for 3.5 is nigh impossible in my experience, but I agree that there are some glaring loopholes in some APs that needs to be covered. You should have seen my face when I realized the players could ignore parts 4 and 5 of Kingmaker with simple applications of core spells. Which made me revamp and retool the entire thing, with some good help from Jason Nelson (thanks again) into something that should actually challenge my players, and not be winnable by a single day of spell slots between the two casters in party.

BUT, I will in their defense say that they NEED to scale things down a little for the APs to be playable for the common folk that has little to no system mastery (after all, there are more of them than us, and it is not a sane marketing decision to aim for the niche).

Ideally (IMO) they would eliminate some of the extraneous stuff in the AP (never read a single one of the novels) and add "How to tweak the AP to take X into consideration" section. If I was playing with less experienced players, with less optimized characters, Kingmaker Part 4&5 would be plenty fine as written.

Can't speak for the older APs, because that was released in my college days when I had barely enough for instant ramen and textbooks, and we prefer the updated stuff to save on work (yes, we are a little lazy)

Predicting everything? No. Predicting very basic things, instead of pretending level 10 is just like level 1, except with bigger numbers? They should really do at least that much. At least not if they don't want to be mocked by being compared to fast food and/or primitive video games.


memorax wrote:
SC is not that bad. Yes some spells in it are unbalanced. Yet those same spells players use the NPC can too. It seems the SC rub DMs who need to control everything at a table the wrong way.

This. The good, competent DMs know that not only does the SC not break anything, it fixes quite a few things that actually were broken. Quillfire for example. Incredibly powerful outside the SC, nerfed quite substantially within it. If anything that spell has the opposite problem now, but there's enough spells that having some suck just means some don't get used. In other words, not as big of a deal as having some non caster options suck.


OilHorse wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:

What kind of party would you (try to) put together if no-one was allowed to take a class that eventually got 9th level spells. Lets assume a 5 PC party built using what I call the "Superelite Array": 16,15,14,13,11,9.

What kinds of opponents would you throw at such a party?

I'm presenting this as a bit of a thought exercise for people to get out of the "only pure casters are useful" mindset.

Commoners and Experts. The goal here is not to win (as that's not happening regardless) but to screw around and mess with the DM until he stops being absurd.

Would you have called it absurd if it was about a "Very Low" (or even "No") Magic world, where where caster classes were off the list?

Regardless the "goal" is never "To Win". It is to enjoy yourself while playing a game.

Well yes, using the terms low or no magic in the same sentence as D&D is severely and patently absurd. Which further reinforces the desire to absolutely refuse to take anything going on seriously until the DM wakes up and realizes he's being an idiot.

Also, being a Red Shirt is very much a non enjoyable experience. So even if your smokescreen had any merit, and it does not you're still only going to have any kind of "fun" there by "trolling" the DM.


Starbuck_II wrote:
Alex Smith 908 wrote:


The actual problem with splat books in 3.5 was their lack of support. For...

Again lack of Support sucked for the new classes (they buffed Ninja in Complete Scoundrel though with feats). You had to scavenge around for stuff for Warlock.

Funny thing about Spell Compendruim: it was reprints not new spells. It just gathered up 70% of spells out there and reprinted them (a few minor changes sometimes).

Mostly, by nerfing them. What all the people complaining about SC miss is that banning it results in more problem spells, not less.


If your adventure is broken by level 1 abilities, your adventure is fragile, and having to nerf said low level abilities only highlights what a poorly designed adventure it is.


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
It's like comparing a meal you make yourself to one you drive forward and get in a bag. Which is to say, you cannot compare the two.
Depends how well you can cook.

Well if you're that bad at cooking, you get someone else to do it for you. Which in this food/DMing analogy means that you don't run the game at all, you let someone else do it (and ideally you observe and learn from them).


James Jacobs wrote:
It's interesting that you chose the first three Adventure Paths that we created as your examples. I'll be the FIRST to agree with you that we made some pretty big errors in those earlier adventures... but I'd also immediately follow that up with two observations:

I chose those for several reasons:

1: Because they were our first encounter with Paizo products, there was no bias clouding our judgment one way or the other.
2: They were released at a time where we had not yet came to the conclusion that published module = fast food, as that conclusion came from experience we did not yet have.
3: Obviously, we actually played them.

Quote:
1) We learn a HELL of a lot every time we do an Adventure Path. I think that the improvement between those first three APs is immense—if only from the pre-planning staage. Shackled City was thrown together as we went. We didn't outline it at the start—we DID do a detailed outline for Age of Worms, and it made a huge difference. But we didn't do any concepting art for it—when we got to Shackled City, we had some artists create some REALLY cool concept art for the AP so that we'd have a look for the entire campaign that made it feel solid. And those are just a few examples—we're continuing to refine and perfect the Adventure Path format all the time. I'd be curious to see what you thought of, say, Kingmaker, which is the most recent of our Adventure paths that are fully available.

Age of Worms is easier to sequence break than Shackled City. The detailed outline clearly did not take into consideration mid and high level abilities at mid at high levels. I'm not sure why you brought art into it, as we are discussing the substance of the campaign. Pretty pictures - good or not in no way impact this. The art is a complete non factor when discussing substance of a campaign.

What I find most notable though is that the earlier campaigns are actually somewhat difficult. The later ones are mind numbingly boring and easy. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me. Burn me three times, shame on us all. Burn me four times, STOP PLAYING IN FIRE. Suffice it to say that having no reason not to expect all the same difficulties, combined with the complete lack of AP difficulty means I have no interest in Kingmaker, or any other future APs as a combination of the flaws with published adventure paths in general, and with those made by Paizo in particular turned both me, and every gamer I know off that idea permanently. Not to mention all reports of Kingmaker I've seen confirm that many of the same types of bugs are still there.

Quote:
2) As tragic and hopeless as you seem to indicate those first few Adventure Paths are... they were both ENORMOUSLY successful and ENORMOUSLY popular. They are, essentially, the reason Dungeon Magazine wasn't cancelled at around issue #100. They are ALSO the reason Paizo exists today—the Adventure Path concept is the backbone of the entire business. It's what keeps our doors open (the rulebook line itself is what lets us decorate those doors with diamonds and gold). That tells me that we're doing something right. If that's equal to what fast food franchises are doing right in order to stay open... I guess I have to be okay with that too.

At one point in time, the majority of the world's population believed that the world is flat. Popular does not equate to good, especially when about 80-90% of the people posting here outright admit they freely, and randomly change anything and everything they want in a published AP anyways, which means whatever they're playing in no way resembles what they purchased. Now I am not you, but if I had a bunch of my customers telling me they feel the need to completely revamp my product in order for it to be useful to them, I would take that as a sign that I should do the revamping myself, before shipping out my product.

Now fast food places are certainly popular. They're one of the few types of businesses who actually made money during the depression. And the guys running McDonalds, or Burger King, or what have you certainly do have a lot of money. There's no shame in that. But at the same time, people buy Whoppers because they are too lazy/don't have time to cook a real burger, and not because they think Whoppers are good. This is not specific to Paizo - it's inherent to published adventures of any kind. Doesn't matter who wrote them. If I wrote one, it could be fairly equated to a cheap synthetic beef burger too. So take my words as putting things into context, rather than busting your balls about it.

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CLOSING CHALLENGE: We're ALWAYS looking for talented new authors and designers to take on freelance assignments. So consider this a challenge—if you think you, or frankly ANYONE, thinks they're able to produce better content than we're already offering... we want to hear about it. Take part in RPG superstar. Submit adventures to our Pathfinder Society org play. Submit articles to other companies like Open Design or Green Ronin or Super Genius Games. Let us know about your talents. Because if you're as good as you claim to be, I want to give you money to help make US more awesome! :-)

Refer to earlier comments. Not to mention, what basis are the winners judged upon? Because if it's a popularity contest, take everything I've said, and add "petty high school drama" to the end of that list. There's a long list of people on this board who judge things not on the merits of those words, but the names of the poster. So for example, anything I say is automatically bad, and anything you say is automatically good. Even if I find a cure for cancer, and you say Heil Hitler. Not that I think either of us will ever actually do those things. My point is that it would be a waste of time to conduct an experiment when the results are entirely predictable regardless of the means by which I go about it.

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If, on the other hand, you're just trying to keep us from getting comfortable on our high horses... keep going! Complacency is bad, and if we at Paizo ever start getting lazy about trying to improve our game, that'd be a shame.

I wasn't going to say anything, but as long as you brought it up... How's about making Pathfinder a substantially less narrow game? That would go a very long way towards shaking off complacency, improving the game, and improving my own outlook towards Paizo products. Which admittedly has steadily dimmed over time, to the point where I would not even consider buying an AP, or a non core Pathfinder book to go beside the core books.

Provided that you are saying that because you are serious about it, and aren't just trying to be "polite" I am certainly capable of elaborating, at great length what I mean by this. Or you can just check my posting history and get the same message, though admittedly doing it that way would require you filter out some annoyance and hostility, as I am substantially more civil to someone not attacking me (you, for example) than someone who is.

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And if, on the OTHER hand (I'm a three handed mutant!), you're just beating your chest and showing off and aren't really interested in helping us at Paizo get better at what we're trying to do, then I'll just go back to work and try not to be insulted by your accusations, I suppose.

My words are not empty. As for being insulted, well really you shouldn't be in any case. I'm telling it like it is, and it can be a hard message to take but the goal here is constructive criticism (as opposed to sycophantic yes manism) and not baseless insulting.


cibet44 wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:


I will be blunt - you insult professional chefs everywhere by comparing the two. Paizo APs are filled with incredibly stupid errors caused by a complete lack of foresight, among other factors. Particularly those of mid and high levels. It's like playing a primitive video game, both in terms of the extreme linearity (as doing otherwise breaks the published module, any published module) and because it's extremely buggy and therefore easy to Sequence Break.

AoW? ST? SC? All of them have extreme and grievous errors and oversights, that if found (and it's not hard to find them) completely break the module by skipping whole sections of it. Sometimes they all but draw attention to their own mistakes, and yet still seemingly expect you not to notice them.

As such they are unusable without a complete overwrite, as otherwise the instant the players stop nicely playing along the game breaks.

Some of the later modules are...

Wow. That's just not my experience with the APs. I've DMd Savage Tide and Rise of the Runelords both start to finish and am now running Curse of the Crimson Throne. I've been Dming D&D since 1985. I just don't see the horrendous problems you mention. I'm not interested in derailing this thread but I would love to hear some specific examples from the APs of the problems you cite.

If I had the experience you have apparently had with pre-published stuff I would feel the same way. Of course, if I did, I wouldn't be posting on these message boards since I would not be Paizo customer. Thanks for the insight.

Two examples of many.

Spoiler:
Shackled City: So early on there's this Beholder. You have effectively no chance to defeat a Beholder at this level. Luckily he just wants to railroad you into making the entire section of that adventure completely pointless. And since he's lol CR 14, and you're around... 3 you have no choice but to accept.

The Beholder then completely vanishes off the face of the campaign world for a dozen levels or more. But what they conveniently, and completely forget is that players tend to resent this sort of thing and long before he makes his next scripted appearance, the PCs will have the power, and the tools to hunt him down and destroy him for revenge.

So what happens when they take what should really be an easily predictable action? The entire module breaks, because they forgot to take actual mid and high level abilities into account.

Age of Worms: Entire sections of this module can be skipped, as they completely forgot to take divinations into account again.

Published adventures completely failing to take higher level abilities into account is in no way limited to Paizo, but I've seen it more often with them than anyone else. Published adventures requiring railroading also occurs regardless of author, but it's most prevalent with the Paizo ones, as they both often lack incentives for you to want to stay on the rails, and derail easier than most trains.

As such, published adventures of any kind are like fast food - it's fast, and it's cheap, and that's enough to make you overlook the problems. Such as "probably fake", "extremely low quality", stuff like that. If you want good eating though you either make it yourself or get someone you know to do it for you. Similarly, if you want a good adventure write it yourself.


Brian Bachman wrote:
That's a pretty impressive mortality rate, unless you are playing more than once a week or so, roughly a character death every couple of sessions. Most groups I'm familiar with wouldn't find that real fun. It's indicative of a style of play where everybody is going for the jugular at all times, and it sounds like the enemies are played with the intention of doing maximum damage to the party at all times, regardless of whether that is the smart move for them or not. To me the smart move is to ignore the helpless characters and focus on the ones still capable of hurting you, knowing that you probably have time to finish off the helpless ones later. Unless you know you have no chance of surviving the fight and are fanatical, in which case you will just try to do the most permanent damage you can before dying. Not how most enemies should logically be played, IMHO. But I assume that style is fun for you or you wouldn't still be doing it after 5 years. I can certainly see it as being exciting, as long as you aren't too attached to your character.

It's not that high, considering that 3rd edition came out what, 10 years ago? 11? And during about half that time, we had two different games going at once. It is also somewhat front loaded - there were a lot more deaths early on, before we realized what did and did not work. The process took a while because it was necessary to rule out other factors.

As for the approach, in combat, either actual combat or this people do fight fast and viciously, because combat is over in seconds regardless of whether you like it or not. You certainly cannot do things like run away, so fighting viciously is your only potential way out.

Not to mention this is a world where you can beat someone within an inch of their life and not only will they still be able to fight back completely unimpeded, but the common healing magic can erase even that in seconds. And if you actually knock them unconscious, but don't kill them, they can still easily get back up. Making sure they stay down is a weak swing away. That same weak swing isn't going to cause any damage to anyone else worth noting. And even if it's not a weak swing, they'll still shake it off. Hitting the guy that is down, to actually reduce the enemy's numbers is the only smart move to make.

As for being attached to your characters, Rocket Tag is fast, vicious, and high risk high reward. But provided you have rockets too, deaths are surprisingly infrequent. It helps that we all meet the criteria I state, or as close to it as possible. But ruling out such things as low tier classes being killed because they are low tier and therefore die easily to things that better characters can survive, and those 8 I mentioned before there's been about... 20 character deaths in total, over the past 5 years, and about 100 character levels between the games involved. That's not very common at all. Sure, the deaths that do occur still do impose permanent setbacks for the most part. If they occurred often, well it'd be time to make a new character, even if the old one could be brought back it'd no longer be worth it to do so as they'd be too far behind.

That is why the competence training I mention is so critically important, so you can deal with enemies that are actually played intelligently without dying every other combat.


erik542 wrote:
What I would like to know is the style of encounters CoDZilla is regularly going against. If most of them are just stuff out of the monster manual then it's probably usually like CR=3+APL and least about 4 of them to get the danger level that he's talking about. Now if things are more along the lines of leveled NPC's then I can see how the party faces much of SoL that he talks about.

Depends on the game.

Some of the games were Normal difficulty. So the typical encounter is at level, and being played intelligently, with a significant portion higher level than this. Which is the exact level of difficulty the game describes. That's still enough to get encounters with a save or lose caster of a decent DC + follow up, or enemies that just 1-2 round you with full attacks as even the default difficulty is very fast paced and lethal.

Some of the games were Hard difficulty. Hard is like Normal, except raise the level of all encounters by 1-2, and have them use more tricks. Giants with Knockback for example, to play ping pong with the party. It's not too bad if it's not a boss though.

Some of the games were Very Hard difficulty. APL + 3-4? Normal fight. It goes up from there. And the enemies are absolutely vicious and ruthless. Super charge? Save DC optimization to spam DC 40 save or loses? Expect to see it early and often.

The thing is though it doesn't matter what difficulty it is, as even the Normal difficulty is easily able to kill you in very short order, meaning that I am completely right.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:
So what you are saying is there's some long shot chance everyone is still alive. Yeah sure. But there's a much higher chance everyone fails that 1/4 check the first time.
No, I'm actually saying that the chance isn't a long shot. In actual practice, everyone surviving happens as much if not more than everyone dying. You can say they have a one in four chance of dying, but it actually does not in a lot of cases. Every character being dead at the end of the day does not happen every time. Now, if we are discounting rez and healing magic and treating that as 'dead' then the occurrence certainly is more frequent.

No, what you are describing is a success rate much greater than 75%.


Brian Bachman wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Brian Bachman wrote:
Instead, let's look at a more common and/or varied low-level scenario.

Stay with me here, buddy. I made a big point several posts ago that at low levels, any caster-martial disparity is a lot smaller and is easy to overlook. You can run around stabbing things without analyzing them and the game works as intended. You and I can encounter bandits at 5th level and make a totally different approach to it and still end up with a fun, internally-consistent story. You can spend several rounds sizing up the enemy at low levels because it takes a goblin that long just to finally score a hit on your armored character, or you can run in and color spray all the goblins, and either way is OK. And it's easy for the DM to play goblins, because in real life the DM is smarter and maybe more experienced than a goblin anyway.

It's specifically at high levels when things are different, and when the stuff I'm talking about finally matters. Playing the high-level villains with their full abilities is where things do collapse down to CoD's style of play, because fights don't last more than a round or two unless the villains are being unconsciously neutered by the DM. Then people say "I would never do that!" -- and I have to point out that powerful, experienced, intelligent villains should not be bound by the DM's real-life limitations, or else the DM actually is doing exactly that.

OK, I can buy that to some extent, although I know people vary greatly as to where they think this "high-level style" of play begins, with some claiming it begins as early as 3rd level (I S@#% you not). I also very rarely venture into really high-level play (haven't had a campaign get above 17th level since the 1990s, and only one made it above 14th), so I will not claim any great expertise. From the informed opinions I've heard, including the Paizo development staff, the game gets pretty wonky at high levels in many ways.

Just out of curiousity, how do you pull off making...

That's because it isn't really high level. The entire game is Rocket Tag. It's most pronounced at the lowest levels, and becomes slightly reduced at higher levels. Which is why you have people like me, who haven't gone past 18 in multiple editions and decades who still see it all the time. Yeah sure, it happens with Balors. The point most here are missing is that it also happens with goblins.

As for how you compensate for the difference between a 10-16 Int, and the likely higher Int the enemy has? Time. You have considerably more time to think of tactics than the players have to react to those tactics. The things it takes you several minutes to think of takes the genius a few seconds.

Will you think of everything? No. But then neither will they, even if they do have an effective IQ of 200 or more.


ciretose wrote:
Dire Mongoose wrote:
CoDzilla wrote:

CoP is supposedly unsafe, but in actuality it is a completely safe way to get 88% accurate answers to any question (and the error margin is easily worked around).

Now let's see how many of those here are smart enough to figure out why this is so.

I never thought about it before, but I don't see any reason you couldn't take 10 on the check and autopass it as long as you have +6 INT modifier, which you will if you're a wizard and not a sorcerer.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/basics-ability-scores/glossary#TOC-Take-10

I would consider having your mind on another plane "distracting" and a possible "immediate danger"

Because as we all know, doing a thing distracts you from that very same thing. Except that if that were true, it would be impossible to take 10 on anything at any time, ever which means there would be no Take 10 rules at all. Except there are Take 10 rules, and you can Take 10 on quite a few things, and you can only not do so when something ELSE, other than the thing you are doing is distracting you.

So if for some reason you speeddial the gods in combat, you can't take 10. But you'd never, ever do that, so it's a moot point.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Brian Bachman wrote:
Instead, let's look at a more common and/or varied low-level scenario.

Stay with me here, buddy. I made a big point several posts ago that at low levels, any caster-martial disparity is a lot smaller and is easy to overlook. You can run around stabbing things without analyzing them and the game works as intended. You and I can encounter bandits at 5th level and make a totally different approach to it and still end up with a fun, internally-consistent story. You can spend several rounds sizing up the enemy at low levels because it takes a goblin that long just to finally score a hit on your armored character, or you can run in and color spray all the goblins, and either way is OK. And it's easy for the DM to play goblins, because in real life the DM is smarter and maybe more experienced than a goblin anyway.

It's specifically at high levels when things are different, and when the stuff I'm talking about finally matters. Playing the high-level villains with their full abilities is where things do collapse down to CoD's style of play, because fights don't last more than a round or two unless the villains are being unconsciously neutered by the DM. Then people say "I would never do that!" -- and I have to point out that powerful, experienced, intelligent villains should not be bound by the DM's real-life limitations, or else the DM actually is doing exactly that.

While the difference between casters and martials is smaller, the game is at its highest levels of Rocket Tag at the lowest levels of the game. One random crit and someone's down, if not down and out on the spot. And that's just from one enemy. Three goblins all attack the same person (and goblins, and other small enemies DO swarm, so focus fire is instinctive to them), chances are that person is being one rounded. Not to mention what happens when you fight things like hobgoblins, or humans, or orcs, or any Medium sized or larger opponent.

It gets in long, LONG before high levels. In fact at the highest levels, Rocket Tag is actually slightly reduced due to lower chance for spells to work + immunities + HP buffers.

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