Male Changeling Fighter 1, Monk 1, Rogue 1, Ranger 1, Actor 5
Sharon Goldtree wrote:
Isn't that what girlfriends are supposed to do?
Male Changeling Fighter 1, Monk 1, Rogue 1, Ranger 1, Actor 5
As mentioned, Xanos has basically put Haruk in charge of the organization. Xanos is already managing about 25 undead minions. That's enough for me as a player.
Thanks for taking care of the bookkeeping on this, Haruk.
Thanks a bunch! Hope to use this more in the future =^^=
Bloodpaw, if you haven't seen it yet, here's a little guide I wrote a while ago about the basics of PbP on these forums. It might help you get used to all the different nuts and bolts.
There's a few other guides sticky-d on the same sub-forum that do a great job talking about how to get the most out of writing and roleplaying in PbP games. Those might be worth reading for you also.
Male Changeling Fighter 1, Monk 1, Rogue 1, Ranger 1, Actor 5
Vex, Lyr's familiar wrote:
If we're close enough together, could I create a Silent Image overlayed on us that makes us look like our disguised drow selves? It would require concentration, but I think it would fool anyone who wasn't touching us.
bumping this question
Thanks for the prompt answer! Here we go-
4d6 ⇒ (5, 5, 1, 1) = 12 11
4d6 ⇒ (5, 3, 6, 2) = 16 14
GM, are you ok with a character starting at Middle Age?
I have an idea for a character who used to be the Big Bad Evil Guy of some other adventure, but who ended up having a crisis of conscience and vanishing into the Stolen Lands to get away from his former life.
I want to make sure the use of Age mechanic stat adjustments (and playing a reformed villain) is alright before I sink a bunch of time into building the character.
I find that when PCs have a bit of wiggle room regarding the order they take their actions in their Block, that it facilitates teamwork. I like when PCs talk to each other, so it's an extra tactical advantage I'm willing to give them as a teamwork incentive.
I like your round 1/2 idea, Mott. Im curious how you use in combats that do have a Surprise round?
Also a big yes from me about adjusting PC actions where it is needed. I find that Block Initiative usually keeps that from happening. The way I do it, within a given block PCs act in the order they post, so anyone posting at the end of the block can see the intentions and rolls of the PCs who acted before them and adjust their actions accordingly. Sometimes an unexpected result will negate a PCs intended action, but I've found that it doesn't happen often.
Personally I don't track XP, but I left it out of the guide because I don't feel like there's a significant difference between using that system in a table top game and using it in a PbP game. If you like using the XP system, you won't notice a difference between your home game and your online game.
No problem. I've been thinking about alternate versions of her in case Antipaladin was a no go. I'll drop Hellknight and submit her as a Paladin of Desna instead.
This is the long overdue companion to DH's Guide to PBP Gaming.
In this guide I'll try to cover all the details of running a successful Play By Post game on the Paizo forums. Much like playing a character in a PBP game, GMing a PBP game is a whole different animal than GMing a tabletop game. It's the difference between sprinting through an obstacle course and running a marathon. The fundamentals are mostly the same. The techniques for success are vastly different.
Everything this guide will list are suggestions. I tend to have a very matter-of-fact writing style. Don't think that means I think other ways are wrong. I'm trying to give you ideas of how to experiment and find the way that works best for you. In the end, the ways that are wrong weed themselves out. If you are successful at running a PbP game, that means your way is one of the right ones. If you are unsuccessful, it might be a good idea to do some critical analysis and look at where things didn't work the way you wanted them to before trying it again.
If you want to start GMing a PBP game, I'm going to assume you've played in them before and understand things from that perspective. I'm not going to cover text formatting, plot structuring, or how to write immersive descriptions. If you feel like you don't already have a handle on those elements of gameplay, you might want to wait before jumping into running a PbP game.
Just like my last guide, what I'm going to cover is organization.
I'm going to put this right at the beginning. If you decide to run a PbP game, make sure you're in it for the long haul. Games can easily last years. While no one owes anyone else a game, it is still very disheartening to invest in a story that abruptly ends because the GM decides they don't want to do it anymore. Don't do that to your players. PbP has the benefit of not needing to coordinate schedules or be in the same physical space. It's a slower format, but as long as you can find 20 minutes of free time a day, you have the time to run a PbP game. You just have to be willing to stick with it. There will be times when it feels like a chore. When that happens, hopefully the techniques I'll discuss here will help you quickly move through the slog and get back to the fun. It's hard to describe exactly how to build momentum, but you'll know it when you have it. You'll also know it when you don't.
Most likely, if you're reading this it's because you have a grand idea for a story you want to tell, but haven't ever run a PbP game before. You want to know how to get started. You aren't going to like my advice.
Don't. Tell. That. Story.
Not yet. Get your feet wet first. Grab a short Pathfinder Society scenario, or We Be Goblins, or another very short, straightforward adventure. Run that. Think of it like a playtest.
The shortest adventure you can find will take months to play through. You'll learn a lot about your own particular playstyle, and how to keep things moving. You'll also learn that even a short scenario can feel like a slog sometimes.
By the time you make it through your short scenario, you'll have a good idea of whether or not the big story you wanted to run first is something you can realistically pull off. Hopefully, this guide will help get you on that path.
Your GM Face
First, make a GM Alias by going up to your Account settings. GM Alias' are handy because the forums allow you to search posts by a particular Alias. Sometimes you'll need to search back through your game. It's a lot easier when you don't have to deal with your other messageboard posts being mixed in with your GM posts. Also, your GM Alias gives you a handy spot to put all your GM notes. More on that later
Now that you have a GM Alias, go ahead and go to the Recruitment boards and click New Thread to get the ball rolling.
Getting the Party Started
So you have a story to tell. You need now are players. Think of it like a director with a screenplay. You need to pitch it to your actors. If you want a your dream cast, you'll need a good pitch.
You're going to start by going to the Recruitment boards and clicking the "new thread" link. Then you're going to make your first Recruitment post. Your Recruitment post should start with a pitch.
Your pitch should consist of Three things:
1) The Hook
This is where you show off your skills as a writer. Think of it like the back of a novel or a trailer for a movie. You don't want to give away too much, but you want to give your audience just enough information to interest them.
The most effective way I've seen this executed is to write a very short story about the events leading up to the adventure. Just a snippet. An excerpt. Consider formatting it in Italics to visually separate it from the rest of the character creation guidelines.
Another option is to simply describe the style of story that you'd like to tell. Mixing basic genre descriptions with movies or books you are using for inspiration can provide a lot of information. For example "low-magic dungeon crawl through a labyrinth, in the style of Greek mythology" or "Indiana Jones-style jungle exploration action adventure" gives potential players a lot of information.
I can't stress enough that this should be concise. Think of it like a teaser trailer. Recruitment is not the place for the history textbook of your homebrew setting.
That said, posting both an except and a stylistic description will give players a great way to get on board with your creative vision for the game
2) Setting Information
If this is a homebrew, things get more complex.
What you don't want to do here is dump a bunch of history and/or places full of fantasy-gibberish names. No one cares yet. Recruitment is not where people become invested in your story. You'll make readers go cross-eyed and skim over all that stuff you spent so long writing. Save your energy. Those details are for the Campaign Info tab, or to be revealed through Gameplay.
Instead, just give the basic overview of the themes of the setting, and where the players will be starting. If you just can't help but write out a ton of campaign info, put it in the Campaign Tab and link it for people that are interested. Then put a summarized version in your Recruitment thread. Often, a description of the basic geography, climate, culture, and some highlights of local politics are enough to put in this section.
Character Creation Guidelines
Here's the things you'll want to include, and the choices you need to make about them.
(If you want a Low Power game, what you need to do is set the Maximum starting statistic. Max of 16, after race mods, is a good low power baseline. Not many games use this method)
What Point Buy actually governs is the kinds of characters you're going to see submitted.
Low point buy games are going to create more "traditional" parties. You'll see characters that rely heavily on a single attribute, and that attribute will be in the 17-19 range. You'll see a lot of Wizards, Druids, Clerics, and Barbarians submitted. If you want a "classic" feel to your game, this is how to do it.
In a High Point Buy game, you're going to see more varied character concepts. You'll start seeing stranger builds. Monks, Paladins, Magi, Dex-based fighters, multi-class characters, and other M.A.D. concepts all require more than one high stat, so they basically only exist in higher point buy games. If you don't mind complex character concepts, go with high point buy.
I don't recommend this method because it will fill your recruitment thread with seemingly endless posts containing nothing but rolls. You'll also get a lot of people who will stick their heads in, roll, and if they get a below average spread, they'll either ask if they can reroll (which requires you to set a precedent for everyone, potentially causing another cascade of rolling posts), or they'll just leave, removing a potentially good candidate because of random chance.
Assigning an Array
Here are some example 20 point spreads. These will create 18 maximums and 6 minimums from almost all characters.
That being said, don't be afraid to re-flavor a class. There's no reason a Gunslinger couldn't use the exact same mechanics but actually be a guy with an extra-powerful crossbow (See: Bolt Ace), or even a special kind of wand-slinger in a magitech setting. There's no reason a Samurai has to be Asian themed. A warrior devoted to honor and duty towards a lord or kingdom could fit into just about any fantasy culture. The mechanics are all setting-neutral. Everything can be re-fluffed to fit your story.
Something to consider for your story is how high you want the scale of magic to go. It's perfectly acceptable to ban all 9th level caster classes and keep your magical scaling manageable, especially if you're new to Gming.
If you are running a non-Golarion setting, I advise allowing Golarion specific traits to be re-fluffed to fit your game. "Havoc of the Society" could just as easily be named "Potent Sorcery" with the same effect.
If you're running a Homebrew setting, or converting a non-pathfinder setting, creating your own Campaign Traits is a great way to get players invested in your story and kickstart the kinds of submissions you want to see. This requires some skill at mechanical balancing. In general, traits are worth about half a feat. Be careful granting things like "perception as a class skill" or "+1 initiative" or "+1 damage with a specific weapon." If you decide to allow those as a campaign trait, you're going to see a lot of submissions that pick those particular traits. Your other traits will be largely ignored. Instead, your traits should give bonuses to the kinds of skill challenges and situations your game is likely to present. If you know that tracking down a missing child in the woods is going to be how your game starts, creating a trait that gives a +1 bonus to Survival and makes it a class skill is a good option.
Note: Story Traits are awesome rewards. Did your players survive a story arc that had them stuck at sea for months? Why not give them each a sailor-themed trait related to the most significant experience their character had while aboard the ship. Something as simple as allowing the Fighter to Charge across unstable ground because of all those fights on a stormy deck, or giving the Wizard proficiency with the Boarding Pike from that time they used it to hook an enemy boat, can shape characters in profound ways. Players love story-related cookies. Even if it's not an amazingly useful ability, they'll still love it.
For low power games, you'll probably want to put strong limits of available magic items.
Personally, I'm a strong advocate of the Automatic Bonus Progression rules. That allows you to worry less about making sure every scenario has level appropriate magic items and loot baked into it. It also allows magic item slots to be used for more than just the Big 6 magic items.
Managing Your Recruitment Thread:
I'm just going to go ahead and say it. Recruitment threads suck. They are pretty much all barely manageable f%#!tangles.
Here's a few tips for making it easier:
Request characters sheets be submitted in an alias, or in a spoiler. Players who submit their raw character info as a post create walls of text in the thread, making navigating the thread itself a lot harder.
Request that potential players not roleplay in the recruitment thread. If you want to see how characters interact and how players write, tell them that there will be opportunity for recruitment thread roleplay after the submission deadline, but before you make your final choices.
Some players will start talking to other players, trying to tie their characters' backstories together. Ask them to wait until after party selection is made. This will cut back on thread chatter and stop any characters from becoming "Package Deals". That being said, sometimes Package Deal characters can be very rewarding story-wise, so if a couple players take that initiative, you may consider asking them to pursue it via Instant Message, and make a contingency plan for the possibility of only one of the characters being picked.
When addressing a player to ask them questions or give feedback, put your comments in a Spoiler. Spoilers are big, bold and save space. They're a lot more likely to be noticed by a player, and most of the time, players will respond to your spoiler with one of their own, which continues the trend of keeping the thread easy to navigate.
I recommend asking prospective players to keep their backgrounds fairly brief. They can be expanded upon after party selection happens.
On the other hand, reading a fleshed out backstory can give you a good idea of a given player's skill at writing. In the end it's up to you how much you want to read.
Picking Your Party
Pick good, reliable writers.
Check a player's posting stats for other games. Read some examples of their writing. See what they are like in message board discussions. Snoop around. Most of the time their posting history will speak for itself.
If you like how they write, consider them for the game. Don't worry too much about party composition. Just go with the people who's concepts make you excited. This is the fun and easy part of your job.
Oh, one more thing. Stick to your deadline. If you need more time to pick a party, at least check in with your thread. Don't tell people when selection will happen and then ghost your own thread for a week. That's not a good way to inspire trust from your new players.
By the time you announce your party, have the Discussion Thread and Gameplay thread open and ready to go. Don't announce your party and then make your new players wait for you to get your game together. Let your players jump right in and make first posts in each thread. That will attach the threads to the player's campaign tabs and let them get updates a lot easier.
This probably shouldn't need to be said, but I'm trying to make this guide as thorough as possible. When you announce your party, link them to your game thread. Don't make them hunt. I've seen games lose as many as half the party just from the GM not giving the players a link to follow when they announced the group (yes, that really happened).
Starting Your Game:
Congratulations, you made it through your first Recruitment. I know, it was painful. Get yourself a beer, you earned it.
Now you can actually start to play!
Your GM Alias
Use your Race, Class, and Gender spaces for links you and your players will need frequently. I usually use it for a link to the current map. That way every time I post, the map is right there. Other GMs put their map link in the About This Campaign section of the Campaign Tab, but I find that putting the link in the Gender space is more efficient.
The Campaign Tab
Make a setting almanac and put it in a spoiler. Search the internet for pictures that fit the landscape or architecture of the areas. Link them in the descriptions.
Make an NPC list and put it in a spoiler. In each NPC's short description, link the gameplay post the NPC was introduced in, and any posts that the NPC did something significant, in with their description so the players can easily remember who they are.
Make a House Rules list and put it in a spoiler.
You get the idea.
The Gameplay Tab
The most important thing is that what you write is able to be understood clearly by the players. Make liberal use of Blue Text and the Enter key to break up text walls. Use spell-checker.
The Discussion Tab
Setting The Stage
For example, do not tell your players "the game will be starting at this village" and then let them roleplay how they get there. You'll end up with one person describing walking on a road, then another player will jump in and describe meeting the first character on the road. A conversation will start, and all the other players will be forced to either sit it out, or have their character inexplicably showing up on the same road also, just so they can be included. It's awful. Don't do it.
Instead, let them work out how they know each other in the Discussion thread, or tell them that they'll meet on the job. A neat way of combining the two approaches is to split the party into a few different smaller groups. Within their given group, they know each other, but dont know the others. Maybe a cleric and a paladin are from the dame church and have known each other for a long time. Maybe an Inquisitor and a Ranger are partners tracking down criminals. Starting with a few character ties will help your game along.
Once character ties (or lack of them) are established, the next thing to do is establish the setting. Describe where they are and why. Try to be concise. You can fill in any gaps later once motives are established and the starting choices are made. Before those things happen, players will skim descriptions to find what is most relevant to them. After that, everything is relevant to them.
Then, drop them into the fire.
Nothing sets the tone of a game quite like the first fight. Don't let them get their bearings. Don't let them ask questions. Just bloody them.
Everything else will fall into place after that.
Keeping Things Moving:
The most important tool at a PBP GM's disposal is the "Cut Away".
Think of it like a movie. Once the plot-relevant stuff has happened, the story doesn't hang around and show us how the main characters get ready for bed, or the entirety of their shopping trip. It skips forward.
Do that. If a scene is lagging, skip ahead. If a fight is basically over and posting has slowed down, resolve the end of it "cinematicly" and get on with the story.
Games live and die by their momentum, and you are the one with the reins.
Handle shopping trips, divvying up treasure, lengthy discussions about what to do next, and anything that slows the story down, in the Discussion thread.
If nothing happens during travel, don't roleplay it out. If you aren't playing a Survival themed game, don't make a big deal out of things like Rations or how exactly camp is laid out.
Always keep in mind momentum. If it's flagging, change things.
I really can't stress this enough. I've seen a good PbP GM cut away in the middle of a fight because posting rates were down to one or two a week after a high-level fight had become a drawn out slog. The GM just wrapped things up with a few lines of description and pushed the game forward. It was a fantastic way of gutting away the fat and keeping to the meat of the story.
You need to decide if you're going to use them. If you aren't, you need to get used to doing a lot of extra writing. Combat will be heavy on description. You'll probably want to use Blue Text to describe the schematics of the area, like the exact size of a room, or the size category of the monster you just described.
If you are going to use maps, there are a number of options, I'll list them in order of complexity.
MS Paint works for drawing out rough maps. You can host them on Imagr, or any other image hosting site. This is probably the lowest tech/skill option possible in a PbP game.
Google Spreadsheets also works fine. Just adjust the grid to be squares, and use initials to represent players and enemies. Setting the background color of various squares can create simple topography like rocks, doors, trees and water.
Google Slides is the point where you can start using more professional quality maps. If you're running an Adventure Path, you'll need a PDF file of the maps, or a scanner to upload the image. Then, just create opaque polygons to cover your map with (simulating a kind of "fog of war"). Upload images of your player's tokens (a screen capture or image download of their avatar image works for this). Make the Slide Doc accessabe via the link, and set the edit preferences to anyone with the link. Then players can drag their tokens around on the map. As the players move on the map, delete or move the opaque polygons and reveal the map beneath.
Map Tools or Roll20 are both pretty intuitive to use and seem to be the preferred method of most GMs on these boards. It just takes some time investment to get used to it. There are some good tutorials on YouTube. Personally, I'm a fan of Roll20. The Dynamic Lighting system is incredible at creating atmosphere and reminding players how much light conditions matter.
To give you an example of the kinds of things you can do in Roll20, Here's a map for a game I'm running. I created this using a few map builder sets from the Roll20 Marketplace, some tiles I found on Deviant Art and the Map Makers reddit forum, and tokens pulled from Pintrest and stamped with the Token tool I will link a few paragraphs below. If you've never used Roll20, you'll need to make an account. Then, the link will take you right to the map. On the left you can use the magnifying glass tool to alter the map scale. I recommend 40% or so to give you a good, wide view of the terrain. Once the map loads, you should be able to scroll down a bit, pick up the Orc PC token, and enjoy wandering around the map. (Once you're done, please drop your token off int he upper left area of the map so the next person can find it easily)
For post apocalyptic games set on earth (or any other modern world), Google Maps Streetview makes an amazing tool. A screen shot of a street, slightly altered with Photoshop or MS Paint to show damaged buildings and things like that, then posted to a hosting site or game wiki, can make a powerful visual aid. There are areas of the world that don't need any alterations at all to depict a convincing urban sprawl for Shadowrun or a Ghost Town for Deadlands. Go on a virtual tour of the streets of St. Petersburg or Namie, Japan. Encounter ideas will jump out at you, I promise. Here's my favorite example of real-world places that make great RPG backdrops- Villa Epecuen. A south american resort town that was underwater for 25 years. Now it's been revealed. Take a look a these pictures. Tell me you don't want to run a game in this place.
Google Maps also has great pictures of places in the world that fit right in to fantasy games. Go on a virtual tour of the Yucatan or of some obscure town in Eastern Europe or Northern Scotland. You'll find some amazing pictures that are ready-to-go lanscapes and maps for your games.
Using Roll20, you can even combine a real-world image taken from Google Satellite View (the top-down street map) and various Tokens. What you do is zoom in as far as you can, and take a screenshot of a map. Then upload it to Roll20 (you can even tile a few screenshots together for a large map that encompasses a few blocks). Then pick up a "damage sticker" pack on the Roll20 Marketplace (they cost abut 5 bucks). Slap down some "stone damage" and some "fire" stickers (or whatever else you want), and then drop your player and enemy tokens onto the map. With this method you can create an impressively immersive map for any modern setting game in about 15 minutes.
That brings us to Map Tokens. Personally, I prefer using the TokenStamp2 online tool. It's free and easy. I also like that I can use the border color to easily keep track of factions in any encounter with more than two sides. It's an incredibly easy site to use. Grab a picture from google image search (or wherever), drop it into the window, resize it, and hit the Download button. Then switch over to your map hosting site and drag the downloaded token onto the map. Done.
This is where the organization starts to make a huge difference in the success of your game. Document everything, but do it with style.
It's a balancing act. On one hand, you don't want to hit your players with walls of text that leave them unsure of the nuts and bolts of what happened to their characters. On the other hand, you don't want them to feel like they just got slapped with a math text book.
I find that alternating my rolls and the descriptions attached to them is a good general guideline to format combat posts. Bascially, just make a roll, use the Preview button to see the result, and then write a description of what the results of the roll actuall mean in game. Then do the next roll.
With that in mind, lets get specific.
This chart can be re-posted at the top of each round as a reminder to the players, and it can be altered if conditions change (a single casting of Daylight is often enough to remove lighting issues for an entire fight, for example. A Gust of Wind spell might clear away fog for a time.)
Block Initiative: This is an optional initiative system that speeds things up a lot. It relies on one simple fundamental: All the enemies go at the same time. The players either go before the bad guys, or after them. I have found that the best way to implement this system is to have the enemies take 10 on Initiative, or to average the enemy initiative rolls.
Once you know when the block of enemies goes, just compare the players to it. Think of it like setting an Initiative DC for the players. Higher initiative players get put in group A, before the enemies. Lower initiative players get put in Group B, after the enemies.
Within a given group, players may act in whatever order they want. This means that for the most part, players don't need to wait for anyone else before posting. They can just post according to when they are able to. It also allows players within a given group to coordinate their actions, which is a nice way of facilitating teamwork.
The GM would then only need to make two posts a round.
The first post would be the results of Group A's actions and the actions of the Enemies.
I recommend making yourself a pre-written and pre-formatted template and putting it in your GM Alias for ease of reference.
Action Tracker wrote:
You can see how the empty parenthesis indicate that those characters have not yet acted. Also, note the link to the Giant Frog bestiary entry. That's there because the party Druid rolled well enough on Knowledge Nature that the GM decided they knew pretty much all there was to know about Giant Frogs. It's a handy little time saving tip that doubles as a player reward.
Attacks and Damage
Take a look at the following formats-
Hopefully it's easy to tell which example is the one with the clearest format and most easily accessible information. If you've been a PbP player, you're probably used to this stuff. As a GM, it's much the same, but there's a matter of volume to consider.
Lets flip around to the goblin's turn. Showing four examples of bad formats would be messy, so I'll jump straight to a good example and let it speak for itself-
Another option is to Spoiler all the roles and just present the relevant information. Here's that same post, reformated to hide the dice-
Both formats work well. The second is moer aesthetically pleasing, but many players wont open the spoiler so mistakes might slip through and go unaddressed. It's up to you whether that's important to you or not.
Always, always always copy your posts before you click any button. The Paizo boards are notorious for timing out, eating posts, or otherwise ruining all your hard work.
Personaly, before I click anything, I Select All, Copy, refresh the page, then Select All, and paste my completed post back into the text box. Then I post.
Yes, it's extra steps. Yes, it's a pain in the ass. It's better than losing an hour's worth of work to a random site glitch.
Many times, the overall success of a skill check is going to be based on the total of the roll. Higher might mean noticing something of particular importance, or remembering more detailed knowledge.
A great way of front-loading the work for skill checks you know are coming is to to put the results in Spoilers.
You might describe a ransacked bedroom, and then ask for Perception checks. Instead of waiting a day for everyone in the game to make their checks, and then responding based on the results, you can speed things up by posting the results right away. Something like-
Perception DC 15
You notice a spot of blood on the window sill
Perception DC 20
You notice a spot of blood on the window sill.
The way the glass is scattered makes you think that the window was broken from the inside.
Perception DC 25
You notice a spot of blood on the window sill.
The way the glass is scattered makes you think that the window was broken from the inside.
A section of the floor where the rug has been rumpled by the struggle looks like it is less worn than others, like the boards were replaced at some point.
Then, when the players roll their checks they can consult the appropriate spoilers and react immediately to the information.
Another way of handling skill checks you know are coming is to simply roll for everyone with the appropriate skill, and post the results in individual spoilers.
Wiz's Knowledge Arcana Check: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13
What Wiz Knows
It's a glyph of warding. Feel fee to look up the spell if you aren't familiar with it.
A handy way of handling general knowledge checks is to assume everyone with the appropriate Knowledge Takes 10 and then write a spoiler for them describing what they recall. Often this is really going to be an info dump for the bard or wizard. I find Spoilers for the information to be the best way of handling knowledge checks because it allows the players to put things in their own words, or to withhold information if they feel the need to. Simply writing out "what the bard tells the party" removes the bard's autonomy. As a GM, that's usually a bad idea. I advise against it.
Nothing slows down a fight quite like Saves against multi-target monster abilities.
Compare the following examples:
Which takes the least amount of time? Which seems like the best narrative tool?
Don't be afraid to make Save rolls for your players. If you make it known up front that you'll occasionally do it, there won't be any complaints. It's all the same dice roller after all.
This is actually pretty simple. There's a lot of ways to do it, and none of them are really wrong, but one stands out as particulalry right. Google is your friend.
Google sheets is the easiest and best way of tracking loot. Just make a spreadsheet that list the collected gear, what it's worth, and who's carrying it. Set the permissions to "anyone with the link" and then put the link in the Race section of your GM Alias, or in the About This Campaign section of the Campaign Info tab.
Ask one of your players if they'd like to be the party's quartermaster. One of them will do it. Then all you need to do is drop loot lists into the Discussion thread. Your players will do the rest.
Traps are always hard to pull off. Their flaws are extra hard in PbP games.
When your players suspect traps they move slowly and cautiously. In PbP that can translate to weeks of back and forth between a scout making Perception checks and you posting results and them moving forward a bit. Rinse repeat, ad nauseum. It's terrible.
If you want to use Traps in a PbP game, talk to your players (especially your scout). Tell them that you will be handling all the roles regarding Search and Disable Device. All they need to do is give you a destination on the map ("down the hall to the corner ahead. I want to go there and sneakily peek around to the next hall.").
Then you make all the appropriate rolls and tell them what happens. Either they bypass the trap, find the trap but fail to bypass it, or they fail to find the trap and set it off (in which case you make their save for them and tell them what happens). Jump right to the descriptions of those results. In any case, you job is to get the game past the trap as quickly as possible.
Making Traps Useful: A good trap is a storytelling tool. It pushes the momentum of the game, rather than stalling it. Traps are best used in the middle of other encounters, or to drive the party in certain directions. Think about the big rolling bolder from Indiana Jones. That's a great trap. It's an encounter all to itself. It has a movement speed. There's only one way for the hero to go. There are obstacles along the path. At the end, the hero avoids the trap, but runs right into the next encounter. That's an excellent of a trap as a storytelling device. Try to default to that methodology as a GM.
Other kinds of traps along the same vein are things like slowly filling rooms of water, auto-turrets on top of a cliffside that have to be turned off manually, hidden pits or mines in the middle of a fight, haunts with lingering effects (like mini-curses), and the often-overlooked alarm-trap.
If you find that any kind of trap is slowing the game down, move past it. Just say something like "you discover that the trap's mechanism is jammed and it poses no threat any longer" and get on with the game.
Wayfinder: It's an app specifically for posting to the Paizo gameplay forums. Look it up, try it out. I don't personally use it because my phone is old. If you have a fancy phone, you might like the fancy app.
Keyboard Macros: Did you know that you can program your keyboard to automatically paste in something if you press the right key sequence? Super handy.
Look up a Keyboard Macro tutorial for your operating system on youtube. They are usually super easy. Then set a keystroke combination to do something like type out [ spoiler=[ ooc][ /ooc]] [ /spoiler] whenever you press Control+Shift+S+P. Then you just need to fill in the gaps. Putting the ooc text in the spoiler code puts the spoiler wording in Blue Text. I prefer it for aesthetics. Oh, and for Nested Spoilers, you can't give a spoiler inside another spoiler a description in green ("[spoiler=whatever" doesn't work for nested spoilers). Use Blue Text for the description of what is inside the spoiler instead.
Pre-coding Dice Rolls: If you put dice coding into an Alias, the dice roller doesn't get the instructions. That means you can store the dice coding in your GM Alias so you don't have to type them all out every round.
Advanced Storytelling Tips:
Establishing a Creative Agenda: This could really be an entire full length post to itself. I'm just going to touch on it as food for thought.
As the GM, it's your job to clearly lay out the kind of story you want to tell. This is mostly about the establishment of themes. Talk about your inspirations as a storyteller. See if you can get your players to buy into your creative vision from the very beginning. If someone doesn't seem to be meshing well with the group, it is most likely a problem with their understanding, or their buy-in, of the Creative Agenda. Nearly all non-organizational problems games have come back to this concept.
I find that it's useful to reinforce the creative agenda scene by scene. At the beginning of a scene I'll post something in Discussion like "this next fight is a chase sequence. I'll be moving fast and winging it a bit with the rules. I'm going to try for a more action movie feel here" or "This is a tactical fight. There's a lot of moving parts. Don't be afraid to take your time and try to out think the scenario. Teamwork will be rewarded" or "you're looking for information in a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Everyone is out to get everyone here. The wrong words could get you shot."
Something as simple as that works wonders when it comes to getting players to approach the game with similar expectations.
Major NPCs: Make separate Aliases for them. Put vital information and notes in their profile. This will help establish them as important, and give the players a "face to the name."
The Narrator: Fantasy stories use this a lot. The Princess Bride, Conan, and The Never-Ending Story are good examples in cinema.
Creating a separate Alias to be "the guy telling the story", and posting as that character whenever you need to cut to a new scene is a good way of establishing a narrative theme, and making it very clear when one scene ends and the next begins.
The Narrator could be an NPC, older in the future, telling the story of the great heroes he knew in his youth, or it could be an archivist, far in the future, written like a history text book or lecture, telling the story as a chronicle of the distant past. It could even be a villain, or a ghost, or a god. It might not be clear who the narrator is, or what side they are on, which creates a new mystery for the players to speculate at out of game.
Languages: Google Translate is very cool. Pick a few real-world languages to represent fantasy world analogues. Post them, and spoiler the English translation. This method creates very immersive and interesting visual storytelling.
Links!: Learn to use the [url ] code. Learn to love it. Does your villain have a theme song? Link it when they show up. Is the forest on fire? Link a video. Need to remind the players of an encounter that happened a year ago? Find the relevant post, click the time stamp, and copy that address into the url link.
Care and Feeding of Gamers:
Handling Cranky Players
As a GM, it's important to listen to your players. You don't necessarily have to agree with their assessment, but it is your responsibility to let them know you've heard them. The most powerful tool in your arsenal for getting the game back on track is the following question: "How can I make the game fun for you again?"
A lot of times, that question is all it takes to move the conversation in the direction of getting everyone's creative agenda back on the same page.
The List of Don'ts
There's certain storytelling staples that are very hard to pull of in PbP due to the nature of the format. Most are essentially traps that new PbP GMs fall into. They are game killers. Consider this your warning.
Mysteries- Following clue to clue, and wrangling information out of NPCs is vary hard when it takes months to get fom one clue to the next. Players just don't have the memory to make it work. If you want to do a mystery storyline, make it absurdly simple. Even if you dumb it down to only three clues, expect to be doing a lot of reminding, nudging and railroading. Better yet, don't bother. Instead, just describe a narrative where the players start at one clue, follow some leads, and end up at the end ready to get on with the story. Make your mysteries into montages. Trust me, this will save you months of work and frustration.
Base Building- Every Kingmaker game I've ever been in on these boards has died when it got to the point of trying to use the Kingdom Building rules. They're too unfamiliar to most people, take too long to resolve, and have too many options to consider. If your game includes an element of base building, hand wave it, or handle the mechanics yourself. Your players will be pretty clear about what kinds of things they want to focus on. Don't make them spend Kingdom Points or bean-count how much is in the treasury, or futz about with the crafting rules. Just montage it and get on with the game. PbP games live and die by their momentum, and nothing kills momentum quite like base building.
Dungeon Crawls- This is a staple. You'll want to do one at some point. If you don't know where the pit traps are, you're going to end up in them. There are techniques to make it work. I'll try to list them all-
The List of Dos
There's a few things that don't work well in Tabletop games that PbP handles nicely. Here's the list-
Hordes of Enemies: In a tabletop game waiting for the GM to roll out all 30 of the attacks from the goblin horde is annoying. In a PbP game it isn't. If you want to throw a giant pile of weak enemies at your players, go for it. The ability to Copy/Paste attacks means that all you really have to do is make sure you give a good TL;DR overview at the end of the enemy horde's combat turn. (An especially fun version of this is one or two real threats, and a big rush of cannon fodder. Let the party Wizard really show off the power of Fireball. Then have the enemy leader call in reinforcements after the first wave dies.)
Environmental Complications: The ability do take your time with descriptions means that you can really set the stage when it comes to things like environmental conditions. Give the players a good description of the hot steam in the air from the waterfall that pours down into the bubbling lava (or whatever). Being able to post a reminder of environmental effects at the top of each round makes sure that the conditions of the area aren't forgotten.
Countdowns: This is a GM technique that works just as well in PbP as it does in Tabletop, and is a great way to rebuild momentum. A rising water level, a bomb fuse, a ritual nearly completed. There's lots of ways to play with the idea of "beating the clock." If your players seem disengaged or momentum is flagging, introduce a time component and watch what happens.
Loss of a Player
You will lose players. Expect it. Accept it. Don't blame yourself. You could be the best PbP GM on the planet and you'd still most likely lose one or two players in the first six months of gameplay.
For that reason, many GMs choose to go with a starting party size of 5 or 6. That way, if you lose one or two players you still have a viable party size.
There may be a time when you'll need to recruit a new player for an existing game. Here's my advice about that-
Make a new Recruitment thread. If you start making new posts in your original thread, prospective players are going to see that it has 100+ post already and figure they are either late to the party, or that there's super stiff competition. Both are reasons prospective players might scroll past your attempt to recruit.
Ask players to take over an orphaned PC[i]. By the time you need to recruit a new player, you've probably invested a lot of story time into their character. Losing that hard work sucks. There are quite a few players out there willing to take over a roll began by someone else. This approach is the easiest way to work new players into an existing game. Their character is already baked into your game. Consider allowing them to rework the mechanics of the player they are taking over to suit their vision. A change of a few feats or an archetype can make a big difference. Another similar option is to have a new player take over an NPC that is important to the game, or to upgrade another player's Cohort to a full fledged PC. All these options make it very easy to get a new player immediately invested and feeling like part of the team.
[i]Ask your players for their input. Your players are a great resource. Use them. Often, they'll have gamed with other players on the boards before, and can tell you if they'd be a good fit for your game or not. Also, by the time a re-recruitment is happening, the game is as much your players' as it is yours. They should have a say in who joins. Getting the players invested in who a new party member is can be a great way of generating new momentum (often momentum takes a big hit leading up to a player leaving a game, so the injection of new energy can really help).
Winter kills games.
Seriously. The stretch from Halloween to Christmas is absolute hell on PbP games. Everyone's busy, tired, stressed, and trying to make it through holiday madness. Expect it and plan for it. I've seen games go on a hiatus from the end of November through New Year's Day. I've seen games use the down time to execute a long Kingdom Building or Crafting phase. More frequently though, I've seen games end.
It's a sad reality and you, as the GM, need to be aware that you might lose players to the jaws of Winter. You might also decide you're too busy to keep running your game. I highly recommend putting your game on hold rather than letting it bog down, get frustrating, and become a chore you no longer enjoy.
Nothing in this guide is sacrosanct. I'm not the guru on the mountain. I'm just telling you what's worked for me as a player and as a GM so that you hopefully won't have to learn by screwing up a lot like I did.
If you have better way of doing things, post it here. I'd love to hear it.
If you have questions, feel free to ask them here. Myself or someone else will answer. I've tried to provide you a clear path to follow, but ultimately the only way to really learn how to do it is to do it.
Go do it.
I have an idea for a "strange bedfellows" sort of character.
Cheliax has good reason to want the Worldwound contained or destroyed. I was thinking of submitting House Thrune's contribution to the Fourth Crusade.
A Hellknight champion infused with the raw, Mythic power of Hell, driven to destroy the demonic foothold on Golarion.
Mechanically, she'd be a Tyrant Antipaladin 5/Evangelist of Asmodeus on one side, and a Sorcerer 5/Hellknight Signifier 2 on the other, following the Archmage mythic path.
Is that an allowable concept, or are you not interested in dealing with an evil character in the party?
Male Changeling Fighter 1, Monk 1, Rogue 1, Ranger 1, Actor 5
Sorеn Marsailles wrote:
I give up spells for that, don't I? It's tempting to look into but if that is indeed the case I likely won't since they're so valuable for me.
No, actually. You'd give up feats (but it would end up being more feat-efficient for you.
If you were going to convert Soren to Spheres, you'd give up your 1st level feat and your 5th level feat (I'd bet Shadow would let you negotiate this to a different feat due to our special gestalt rules taking our 5th level feat slot.) This would make you a Proficient practitioner.
In return for that investment, you'd get a Martial Tradition which sets your weapon and armor proficiencies and gives you a couple bonus starting spheres (Soren would likely have either the Combat Gunner or Mechanic tradition). Then after picking your tradition you'd have 3 sphere Talents to pick from. (that's a total of probably 5 sphere talents, depending on the Tradition you picked).
Each sphere talent is worth roughly one feat, but some of them are actually better. Using one Talent (or the right Martial Tradition) to pick up the Barrage sphere, for example, grants the effective benefits of Point Blank Shot and Rapid Shot. So that alone would already pay for the feat investment, and keep you with the same feats you already have. (Spheres is a straight upgrade in versatility for most Martial classes.)
Here's some examples of the stuff Soren might choose:
The Gun Kata equipment talent would let you use your guns as effective melee weapons.
The Sniper sphere is all about doing big damage with one bullet. A fun combination of Sniper talents is Focusing Reload and Headshot. Basically, you take one shot each round at +2d10 damage, and if it deals ore than 50% of the target's remaining health, they have to make a save or die. (this talent combo requires the Sniper sphere, and two additional Talents sunk into it, so it's a bit steep but a great example of the the kinds of combos you can pull off)
If you can get your Reload speed down to a free action, the combination of the Covering Fire sniper talent and the Combat Reflexes feat allows you to make Attacks of Opportunity into a area you choose. (This is fantastic for covering doorways). This combo stacks really nicely with the Vigilant Sharpshooter talent out of the Barrage sphere (which acts similarly to Snap Shot without all the BS feat prerequisites)
Just take a look at [url=http://spheresofpower.wikidot.com/barrage]Cone of Death[/url towards the bottom of the page. That costs 1 Talent, and you qualify for it next level.
Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:
That was the one I was thinking of. Thanks.
As a tangent, I really wish there was some way to tie Combat Patrol and the Dimensional Agility feat line together.
Jeebus. That might be the most circumstantial feat chain I've ever seen.
If you're next to them, and you hit them with a specific, underpowered attack, and they stay next to you, and they attack you on their next action, and miss you by at least 5, you get an AoO on them.
Who came up with that nonsense? Three feats for an AoO that requires five different boxes checked to occur?
Am I missing something? How did that make it through development?
I have an AoO focused character, and I'm looking for feats or abilities that will allow him to take AoOs off of actions that don't normally trigger them.
A 4th level Tetori Monk gains the ability to take AoOs against anything trying to initiate a Grapple against them.
The Come Get Me rage power allows a Barbarian to take an AoO whenever they are attacked.
Snake Style allows a character to take an AoO against an enemy whenever that enemy misses them.
Help me compile a list of abilities like these, please. Whatever you can think of, add it to the stack.
Male Changeling Fighter 1, Monk 1, Rogue 1, Ranger 1, Actor 5
Next order of business-
Click the Annotated Map link and take a look around.
I've set all of the Minions to be controllable by anyone, so you can use your own token, or any of the minions to cruise around the horn and take a look at the changed I've made to the architecture. It's relatively minor. Mostly I just beefed up the defensibility of the first two levels.
In case it isn't completely clear, the light green color is "floor. It's as close as I could get to the color on the map. Most of the new floor I've added just covers up all the clutter and damage that the original artist put in as detail. By now we've cleaned the place up pretty thoroughly, so I figured I'd get rid of it.
I've scoured the game thread for descriptions of the rooms and labeled everything as clearly as possible, and I've left all the doors "off" to make it as easy as possible for everyone to look around.
Please let me know if anything seems wrong to you, or if there are any changes you'd like to see.
When you're done, please drop your character token into the room that you'd like to claim for your character. I'll label it later.
Once everyone's signed off on the renovations and claimed a room, I'll add in all the rest of the details and get all our minions on the map as well.
This point in the game is pretty much right where the previous, furthest along WotW game I've been in died. I found that having a good visual of all the creatures int he Horn was fun and useful.
Absolutely love this concept.
You mentioned 3pp requests. How do you feel about the Spheres of Might system?
The opportunity to play a non-evil Antipaladin doesn't come up often, so I'm thinking I want to go with that. I have a loose idea for an "nature's avenger" concept, someone who's taken on the cause of trying to take vengeance against the industrialists who have been pillaging the natural world without care.
I'll probably go with a Nature Oracle once we reach the point of Gestalt progression.
Does that sound like a good character pitch, or is the concept a bad fit for your story?
It's a busy weekend, but on Monday I'll finish wrapping up my mechanics.
With the Tulpa template, Raxus goes from being a bodyguard slave to being a nigh-immortal guardian spirit who exists in his master's head and manifests at their will.
The slight twist on this that i'd like is for "master" to be able to be transfered. Raxus chooses his master. Right now, he does it subconsciously. He doesn't understand it, so right now it happens when his primary master gives him a job. Then his "ownership" passes to a new master for the duration of the task, and then goes back to his primary master.
I need you to help me fill in the blanks though. Where's Raxus starting, and who's his master right now? Is it Cae? Or someone else? What's Raxus's starting situation?
Ooooh, nifty. I love team up attacks, that sounds fun.
I'm starting work on my build now. Might take me a while to finish, this is a complex set of rules.
5d6 ⇒ (2, 6, 4, 5, 2) = 19 15
...well alright then.
Alright. I think I'll go with the Half-Giant. My ideas for Kreen work best when I'm playing the only one (I tend to try to make them super alien and hard to relate to, which is not how most people play them). Since you already have a unique and interesting Kreen in the party I'll go another way.
All the hooks you've discussed sound great. I love the tie-in to Cae's background. That gives me a lot to build off of when I start writing.
I'll start putting my mechanics together tomorrow.
No need for a trapbreaker then. So much for that idea to make my decision for me.
Next question to help me decide-
My basic plan for the half giant is to be able to snag enemies and toss them into other enemies. Basically, I'd use the Uncanny Grapple and Limitless Range mythic abilities to turn foes into missile weapons. The damage scales by distance (like falling damage) so it has the potential to get big, fast. It's an entertaining build I've wanted to play around with for a long time, but it's potentially game breaking (like many mythic options), so I need GM approval.
Any objection to that?
Wow, that's a very impressive crew.
Here's my two character pitches-
Both work off of the same basic premise. A slave who doesn't really understand the concept of freedom (yet). The basics of the character's behavior would be a lot like Jet Li's character in the movie Unleashed. Essentially, he'd be the property of a wealthy patron. He'd be sent with the PCs to guard/insure the patron's interests.
The character's arc would revolve around finding self-worth through things other than violence and pleasing a master.
Concept 1) A gregarious Half-Giant Gladiator who was banned from the games for causing too much collateral damage to the arena. A Barbarian/Conscript (Spheres of Might)/Mythic Champion. He'd specialize in zone control via reach, grappling, and throwing enemies absurd distances.
Concept 2) A Thri-Kreen slave who never learned how to behave in civilization. More bug than person, savage, with all the morality of an actual preying mantis. A Rogue/Conscript/Mythic Champion. She'd be an extremely mobile melee fighter specializing in doing lots of damage to a single target. She's also be a very impressive scout.
Do either of those ideas sound interesting to you?