Ulzer Zandalus

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Hey guys. I could use some help. My folders are disorganized. My record-keeping system is non-existent. My handwriting is so bad that it once cancelled game night.

So here's my question: How do you go about handling the party loot sheet? Any software recommendations, bookkeeping resources, or general advice to help a bungling quartermaster out? Scribbled notes on random bits of paper clearly aren't working for me anymore. How does your group handle it?


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Metaphysician wrote:
If it was a weird set of mismatched expectations, hopefully this gives the opportunity to stop the game and discuss with the players genre intent and expectations. And if the players don't care about such? Well, you have to seriously consider whether you want to even run the game. If the players want to play in an evil villain game, they should have made that desire clear during campaign setup.

I think this may be the issue. Notes of cyberpunk mix in with Starfinder, and that is a famously dirty future. Even the protagonists are amoral people there, so a certain amount of "looking out for #1" gets into the mix.


I recently had a band of Dead Suns PCs go all cold-blooded-killer on some KO'd goons. A few more details in the write-up over here, but I'm curious if any of you GMs out there have had a similar experience. Have you ever seen your Neutral/Good crew of PCs turn into a band of Neutral/Evil killers? Is it ever appropriate for a GM in this kind of situation to say, "Are you sure you want to do that?" Or are morally dubious actions like this always best left to the discretion of the PCs, even when it seems out of character?


Tender Tendrils wrote:


Weird party compositions can be really fun if you approach things with the right attitude.

That's the thing... I'm not worried about this for myself, but for my players. When it's somebody else who feels crowded out of their own niche, I want to have the pep talk in my back pocket to help 'em have fun anyway.


Have you guys ever been in this situation? You roll up a character with a fairly standard archetype -- big dumb guy with greatsword; snarky necromancer; etc. -- only to find that another player is horning in on the same conceptual space. Is this a "stop copying me" problem, or do you feel like there's enough room in the campaign for similar character types? And if the players in questions do feel like, "I called shotgun on seductive bard," how did you resolve it?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


I've got a longer write up about my difficulties with nature-themed characters over here, but this has been a struggle with me for some time. Nature tends to be portrayed as "gray-side," meaning that there's no easy good/evil or law/chaos dichotomy to fuel conflict. That in turns means that it's hard for me to roll up a nature-themed protagonist: What exactly am I supposed to be struggling against?

So help me out here. How do you go about making a ranger or a druid with meaty plot hooks? And from the GM's side, how do you allow such a character to become central to a campaign's conflict?


Volkard Abendroth wrote:

The only way I've found to really resolve the argument is Hide in Plain Sight + Dampen Presence.

And that's the problem. Hide in plain sight or hellcat stealth solve the issue, but not everyone has those abilities. What's a first-level rogue to do?


Your typical stealthy PC thinks that hiding every round in every terrain is viable. Meanwhile, your average GM is sitting there like, “No, you can’t hide behind the halfling.” In scenarios where there isn't clearly marked terrain, how do you decide if there's enough cover to hide behind? The question goes double for groups that play without a battle map in theater of the mind style.

Comic for illustrative purposes.


Neriathale wrote:
it was the only way I could get out of being in a campaign with a toxic player.

Ouch. That's rough, man. Why couldn't you just quit straight up?


What it says on that tin. Have you ever had a PC death so heroic that resurrection would have been an anticlimax? What were the circumstance? Why did you decided not to accept the rez, and was retiring the character the right call in retrospect?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


Quixote wrote:

Back before the CMB and CMD, you'd take all your hirelings you have to form your peasant rail gun and have them start a grapple with each other. On each of their turns, they attempt to move half their speed. Everyone in the grapple willingly fails their opposing rolls to resist being moved. So now you have a ball of two thousand people moving 2,000×15=30,000ft every 6 seconds or roughly 3,409 miles per hour. A fairly efficient way of getting around.

Semi-related: my players wills sometimes try to pull one another out of danger. That feels like a CMB check, but damned if I can find anything about "willingly lowering CMD." Since you pointed out the similar sillines sin 3.5, I thought I check and see if you know of the equivalent in Pathfinder.


The peasant rail gun. The bag of rats. The absurdity of minimalist disguises.

No sensible GM would allow this malarkey at a real table, but I've always always found great joy in taking rules to their illogical extremes. We've got a mature system on our hands, and there must be some obscure stuff out there. What other "there's no explicit rule against it" type of shenanigans can you pull off?


Malk_Content wrote:
My wizard has Lore: Cartography at Legendary so should already know where all the carts are before the chase even begins.

That's a weirdly hilarious premise for an adventure. I'm getting Home Alone vibes, but ya know... as a chase instead of a burglary.


I've got a chase sequence planned for an upcoming session. The only problem is that a dwarf (20 ft. movement speed) can never escape a human (30 ft. movement speed). This is a known problem, and I've seen a couple of different solutions and subsystems to address it (notably the 1e chase system). Do you guys have any favorites from other systems? Any that worked especially well in your own games? I'm set to try something new, and I could use a little direction!

Comic for illustrative purposes.


Dave Justus wrote:
First off, I don't think you drive that. Let the player use their secret identity as they desire and respond to that.

It's a good point. As basic as it sounds, straight up asking the dude "how do you pictures NPCs responding to this other persona" seems like a good first step.


I've got a buddy who dipped into Vigilante late campaign (16th level). I'd like for his secret identity to come into play, but I'm drawing a bit of a blank on my tropes. How do you build a plot around secret identities without threatening to make the class feature worthless? Do any of you guys have good vigilante plots to share? My brain is coming up short trying to transition from fantasy to superhero, and I could use the help!

Comic for illustrative purposes.


graystone wrote:
Gisher wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
b) people picking a bunch of small situational flaws in order to gain some massive advantage helping them twink out their builds. Cue a spellcaster who can't cast spells on Mondays, in running shallow water, after eating broccoli and within 24h of a romantic tryst, but gets +1 spell slot per level or some other munchkin CharOp hoodoo.
Hey! That broccoli allergy was integral to my character concept!
LOL Who says it isn't a flaw? He's got to roll all the time vs my broccoli leshy! ;)

You joke, but I think that flaw-based systems benefit hugely from a group willing to work them into the game.

When I ran a dragons game back in 1e, I used the stuff from Rite Publishing, and I made sure the "draconic essence" stuff came into play frequently:

https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/3rd-party-classes/rite-publishing/draconic -exemplar/?/#Draconic_Essence

If there's a phobia on a character sheet somewhere, I think it's down to a GM to jot that mess down and work it into the game.


Is there any support for character flaws / disadvantages / drawbacks in 2e? I'm slowly making my way through the rules, but I haven't stumbled upon the topic yet.

Comic for illustrative purposes.


blahpers wrote:

My Rise of the Runelords: Anniversary Edition labored under the assumption that

** spoiler omitted **

pretty much all the way until we stopped playing after Book 1. X D

Something similar happened in my Strange Aeons game recently.

Strange Aeons spoilers:
My players misunderstood some clues about the doctor turned doppelganger Dr. Oathsday, and assumed she was experimenting on patients before she turned into a literal monster.

My solution was to shrug my shoulders and then allow that to be true. I wound up adapting to their view of the game world rather than vice versa.


I love me some random rumor tables. The convention of 'true,' 'false,' and 'partially true' rumors can keep even setting experts on their toes.

So my question for the board is this: Have you ever come across some dubious piece of setting information that turned out to be unexpectedly true? How did the party find out they were laboring under a misapprehension?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


Wheldrake wrote:
What I like about the new charm spell is that the target only knows what you were trying to do with a critical success on his save, or a regular success and a successful Identify Magic check.

I love that they spelled that out. In a way, it feels as if the crit fail / success design space can be used as a "for example" kind of purpose. By telling us exactly when someone notices, we don't have to guess and change it up table-by-table.


"Charm person" is one of those spells that suffered from A LOT of table variation in 1e. Case in point, my conception of spell worked very differently from my GM's when it came time to turn a "charm" victim loose.

My question for the board is this: Do you plan to change the way you run "Charm" in 2e, or do you plan to stick with the long-standing traditions of your group?


blahpers wrote:
Were these secret doors required for progress? Sounds like another job for the Three Clue Rule. Watery Soup's method sounds legit, too.

This was specifically a "challenge your players" dungeon written in the vein of Tomb of Horrors. In the larger megadungeon complex, Monte Cook called it out as an optional level "that not every group will get through." The three clue rule is (unfortunately) inappropriate in this sort of setup.

In other words, it's a deliberately different design style calculated to make life hard for players. And if you're trying to stay true to the spirit of the design, I'm not sure how you go about speeding up play.


Not so long ago, my players came upon a puzzle and trap-themed level in my megadungeon. I tell the full story of the interaction over here, but the TLDR is that they spent well over an hour IRL brute forcing their way through a hidden door puzzle.

When your players have no clue where to go, how do you go about giving them useful hints to move the game along? Should you? Or does it cheapen the experience when they don't 'figure it out for themselves?'


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Unicore wrote:
Letting them experience the consequences of their actions without making it feel like you are punishing them for their actions is pretty critical.

Seems like natural consequences is the ideal. It's not didactic, but a natural extension of the system at that point.


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Suppose you've got new players. Suppose they're a bit on the young side, and are desperate to charge into combat, classes and consequences be damned. Aside from "let them die," how do you help them discover the concept of tactics and marching order?

Comic related.


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Quoth13 wrote:
I have had a couple times where something I added in in an earlier book conflicts with something I forgot was in a later book and if I can't adjust it behind the scenes to make sense I will talk to my party openly and let them know hey I need to tweak this or that because I messed up.

My buddy in an Exalted game does something he calls "rolling for paradox." Basically, if the players notice a plot hole and point it out, he has to roll a d10. On a 7-9 he gets one point of paradox, and on a 10 he gets two points of paradox. When he reaches ten points of paradox, he has to do something nice for his players (e.g. bonus treasure or a lucky break in the investigation).


If I make a bad call as a GM, I feel a strong temptation to halt the game, hash things out, and ask the party if they'd like a retcon. However, the last time I tried that, it left a bad taste in the group's collective narrative-continuity mouth.

Have you ever called for a retcon in your games? What lead to it, and do you still think it was the right call in retrospect?


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If you've ever started a new job at a large organization, and especially if that organization is military, you know how easy it is to fall into the habit of acronym-speak. I've found myself running with new players for the first time in a long time, and I realized that I had somehow *become* the military.

In other words, please go easy on the acronyms, especially around new players! It creates a barrier to to entry, and it's one that's largely invisible to long-time players. Of course "combat maneuver defense" is a mouthful, but it's worth saying the whole thing for the first few months. The newbies of the world will thank you for your service.

Comic for illustrative purposes.


blahpers wrote:
Clearly the answer is a jetpack.

That's it. My Strange Aeons games is cancelled. We're restarting with Iron Gods. :P


Pathfinder offers A LOT of choices for unconventional transportation. My question is simple: What's the weirdest thing you've ever used as a mount?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


So to sum up so far:

* Require the PCs to be cursed in order to proceed through some sort of magic puzzle.

* Add benefits to the curse.

* Make some curses removable only under curse-specific circumstances.

* The curse jumps to the person who cures it.

* Beneficial curses (throg like having big monster teeth!).

* Conditional curse seems specifically designed to solve this problem without making "remove curse" arbitrarily useless.

It's not often that I see a thread with so many on-point suggestions. Cheers to all you guys!


How do you make curses more interesting than, "I cast remove curse?" I've got an example of an interesting curse interaction over here, but it relied on player buy-in rather than clever design. The way I see it, there's a tension between trivial challenges on the one hand and long-term, crippling debuffs here.

My question is this: How can GMs design curses that last long enough to actually feel like a curse without crippling a character for sessions at a time?


Dasrak wrote:
My own view of Strange Aeons (and as GM of your own game you might portray it differently) is that the narrative itself is at tension between the genres of cosmic horror and fantasy adventure.

That's an extremely genre-savvy reading. Thanks for the perspective!


I'm running through "Strange Aeons" at the moment, and I'm contemplating the corruption rules. I get the impression that the AP wants the horror to come from without rather than within. In other words, if the players become creepy crawlies themselves, I fear it might undercut the tone of the game.

Does anyone out there have experience with corruption in Strange Aeons? Did it add to the game or detract from it?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


One of the reasons I've always admired Dragon Age is its intra-party banter. But how much is too much when it comes to mocking your fellow party members? I mean, while a bit of a witty repartee can be a good time, enduring constant smack talk can turn an interesting frenemy relationship into full-on hostility. At least, that's been my experience.

This all leads to my question: In your own games, do you prefer having everyone in the party be friends and get along famously? Or do you like a little antagonism between PCs?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


blahpers wrote:
Not as a masquerade thing. There's no real reason a wizard has to wear robes or be genetically shrimpy. I rarely max out my spellcasting stat anyway since eventually gear will make up the difference. It's handy being able to swing a greataxe if you're up against the wall.

So like... Does the fury of your orc ancestors live in that particular bonded item?


We've all heard of the "muscle wizard" meme. We've all thought about playing something similar: the PC that masquerades as another class. I'm talking paladins that pretend to be fighters, barbarians pretending to be rogues (Thorg open door good!), and any rogue that's ever noodled with the counterfeit mage archetype.

Have you ever played such a character? And if so, how did you make the "big reveal" to the rest of the party?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


What is the single biggest damage spike you've ever pulled off in-game? What was the build?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


Dave Justus wrote:

I have always thought that letting the players know the themes of the proposed campaign, including at least enough information to derive things like favored enemies and favored terrain was GM 101.

I've seen GMs play things close to the vest. I think the idea is that there's a great big wilderness out there, and starting PCs can't be sure what lies beyond in the great unknown etc. etc.

There's value in surprise, but I agree that this is one situation where you've got to give players some lore so that they can make informed decisions.


I've always admired the way that the Paizo Player's Guides take the time to spell out good choices for favored terrain, favored enemies, and other campaign-appropriate choices. Is there any reason to not take a cue from this practice and make similar recommendations in a home game? I mean, do you gain anything by letting the rangers of the world guess what your campaign is going to be about?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


Is this the ultimate campaign geneator we're talking about?

https://www.d20pfsrd.com/basics-ability-scores/more-character-options/chara cter-backgrounds/background-generator/

That does indeed look like a saucy temptress of a generator. Cheers for the tip!


When it comes to character questionnaires — those long bullet point lists of character-building questions like "what is her greatest fear?" and "does he have any enemies?" — I find that my preference is for 5-10 questions. Any longer than that and things begin to feel like homework. My question for the board is this: What are the most important questions to ask your players during character gen? What are the most useful ones to think about while you're fleshing out a character concept?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


Mathmuse wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:
The key to skirmishing is moving away from the counterattacks. Spring Attack is a classic. A 5-foot-step after a raging bloodrager commandeers the attention of one's opponent is often enough.

It's my buddy's first character, and she's running a halfling investigator with a longspear and a Con of 10. I'm trying to help her survive long enough to overcome the build's inherent weaknesses, and something as simple as this might just help her out. Cheers!


Suppose you're a rogue or a bard. A magus or an investigator. You've got light armor, a d8 hit die, and some solid melee damage potential. In other words, you're a bit of a glass cannon. How do you go in for the stabs without receiving them in turn?

We tend not to talk about basic strategy too often, but I find myself with a table full of low-level squishy melee PCs, and I'd like to give them solid advice. Is the answer purely "let the big guy go first?" Is it more about spending the first round buffing? How do you ply the skirmisher's trade at low level without getting your face gnawed off by a dire rat?

In other words, if you happen to be a glass cannon, how do you contribute without shattering?

Comic for illustrative purposes.


Jared Walter 356 wrote:


I never fudge in favor of the NPCs, it just makes an unfun story. Having a character killed by a weak encounter through sheer bad luck is also unfun.

This right here. My goal is to help the players feel just as badass as their characters. If there is fudge afoot, it's not at the service of the NPC.

That said, I will occasionally "cheat" in other ways. For example, I might allow the six-fingered man to fight on at 0 hp, knowing that it will be more satisfying for Inigo to kill him than Fezzik.


My attitude tends to be that "the screen is there for a reason," but I can't shake the feeling that I'm somehow cheapening the game when I alter result behind the screen. What is the community's attitude on this one? Are the dice sacred, is it the GM's prerogative, or is the answer "only fudge the roll sometimes in these specific circumstances?"

Comic for illustrative purposes.


Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

I haven't run/played Strange Aeons but as I understand it the AP is fairly dark horror with nods to Lovecraftian storytelling and mythos. Does the standard PF Wild Magic table of effects add or detract from that? I ask because keeping a horror mood at a tabletop RPG is hard enough without jarring disruptions like a magic missile spell turning into flowers or a Stinking Cloud spell becoming one long episode of wizard-with-flatulence.

I think you may have just decided me. Cheers!


So here's my situation. I've got a player interested in the wild magic optional rules from Unchained. I can see the potential for wacky antics, but I also see the potential for a bit of "oops I'm dead" if the spell targets the caster. Is this a case of "let the player make that decision," or should a responsible GM police the tone of the game? (It's going to be the Strange Aeons campaign, and wacky antics seems out of place in terms of mood. Maddeningly, I can also picture "chaos magic" feeling appropriate given the mythos flavor.)

So help me think this thing through. What makes for a better game and a better experience? Any arguments for or against turning random effects into a major part of a campaign?

Comic for illustrative purposes.

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