Clockwork Spy

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After some thought, while I do like the idea of using CMB instead of an attack roll, I think I will stick with my way of shield blocking. Removing AC bonus altogether and allowing multiple blocks is just too much and will slow down game too much. This way allows players an incentive to use sword and board style with added benefit of "maybe" able to block one attack per round.

There were a couple of things I realized I forgot to post:
Shield blocking is supposed to be an immediate action (something martials rarely use anyway), you can't be flat-footed to use block, you have to be proficient in a shield to use the block, and we changed shields to count against Touch AC NOT flat-footed AC. It doesn't make sense that a rogue has to get through your shield when sneak attacking, and you cant block an incoming vial of acid.

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Headfirst wrote:
I prefer an active shield system that removes the static AC bonuses, like this.

Actually that IS pretty good. I would still have a static bonus to AC from shields, but overall I think I like that a lot. May have to update my shield rules with that.

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Shadow Knight 12 wrote:

There was actually a spell back in the old 3.5e supplement "Heroes of War", called Battlemagic Perception. It was Cleric 3 and Wiz/Sorc 3, Divination, lasted 10 min/level and gave you a bonus to Spellcraft to identify spells, then if you had 5 ranks in Spellcraft it gave you a "spellsense" (the ability to sense any spells or SLA) within Medium range, and the ability to make Spellcraft checks to identify them, and finally it gave you the option to counterspell as a free action without needing line of sight to the spellcaster, but doing so ended the spell.

It was a very good spell, and rather crucial for counterspellers. Even if you had that spell made permanent on your caster, once discharged it only returned at the beginning of your next round, so you could effectively only use it once per round.

This would be a very useful spell indeed. I like that this allows you to basically overlook the first step in counterspelling.

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It has been a long time since posting on these forums, but since the success of Pathfinder Unchanged (still around the corner for most), I felt this was the perfect time to simply share a few changes of our own that has vastly improved the feel and quality of our games.

Now first I want to start out by saying these are just two rules changes we introduced, but I feel have had the best/easiest impact on play. When making these changes, we always had golden rules that any changes we made must be easy to explain to players (a few sentences or less), must not break the game, must not break logic/common sense, and must only "fix" what we felt has truly been broken. With that said:

Improved Shields:
A light, heavy, tower shields gain an additional +1 shield bonus. So Bucklers still grant +1, light shields grant +2, heavy grants +3, and tower grants +5. In addition (like how mounted combat feat works), as long as you have a shield equipped, and are still receiving its bonus to AC (didn't shield bash, etc), once per round you can attempt to block an incoming attack. The blocker makes a melee attack roll, if that check is equal to or higher than the attack roll made by your opponent, then the shield takes the damage instead. If the attack roll is a critical, then you can attempt to block the confirmation roll. If successful, the critical hit is a normal hit instead and the shield eats the damage too.

Example: Monster attack 5th level fighter with a 16 STR and a shield. Monster gets a 23 on his attack roll. Fighter attempts to block (hasn't tried this round), and rolls a 25. Success. The monster still rolls damage. Monster does 17 damage. The shield take 17 damage (minus hardness). If the shield breaks, that's it. Get a new shield or kill that monster already.

Improved Counterspelling:
I have always loved the idea of counterspelling, just hated the rules for it. All of the normal rules for counterspelling still apply, except:
As an attack of opportunity, a spellcaster can attempt to counterspell. The spell must still be a valid spell for counterspelling, and must be within range of the spell he is casting. Regardless of success, you cannot cast a spell on your turn (rule for only being able to cast 1 spell a round minus quicken still applies).

Example: Mage A is attempting to cast a 2nd level spell. Mage B attempts to counterspell. He has does not have the Improved Coutnerspell Feat, so he decides to counterspell with Dispel Magic. He must be within medium range to do so (the range of the spell 100 ft. +10 ft./lv). Regardless of success or not, Mage B cannot cast a spell on his turn, except for a quickened spell. He can still use items (wands, staffs, scrolls, potions, etc) and class features or that crossbow you've had sense level 1. This rule allows counterspelling to be more "reactive" than "proactive", which to me is always how its felt in literature.

Well, if these go over well I will post our fixes for metamagic feats (making them worth a while and not outdone by rods), evocation spell damage as well as spell damage dice in general (making high level spells actually feel like higher level spells), and a few specific spell tweaks like Magic Weapon being a worthwhile spell.

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MagusJanus wrote:

For horror campaigns, I add on a sanity system.

Wisdom x 5. When you encounter something scary, you roll a d100. If the result is higher than your sanity score, you lose sanity. In time, you can go quite insane...

What do you do for someone with a wisdom of 20 or higher? I guess a 100 always fails?

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I have house ruled normally in my games +1 to two ability stats every 4 levels, but I do like the idea that every so often +1 to all stats...interesting.

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Swashbucklersdc wrote:
Aioran wrote:
~Can't wait for the updated playtest~
I hear ya, I am ready to see the changes too!

If I had to guess, the updated playtest is probably coming Monday or Tuesday of next week. So that would be 9th or just a week to playtest ALL 10 classes with revisions. That is an awfully short time span for such an expansive addition. I usually don't agree to such things, but I feel I have to agree to a push back here. While I haven't seen the revisions for all 10 classes, some classes require FAR too much work to be simply corrected in a weeks time. Grant it, some classes are close enough to finished that a simple revision is probably all they'll need, but the Warpriest, Skald, Hunter, and few others are going to require a lot more time to become polished classes that can stand up against...every other class.

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I ran a very brief (so far 1 shot) playtest that involved a level 5 swashbuckler. He had 3 NPCs out the NPC Codex. A level 5 bard, cleric, and rogue. During this playtest, it was almost exclusively a dungeon crawl. During which he encountered a few groups of enemies, traps, locked/jammed doors, a few skill checks, and one "boss" encounter at the end.

The results:
Swashbuckler is a "slow and steady" class. He almost always fought defensively, getting his AC to a 26, and relied on attacks of opportunity (combat reflexes) to get the job done. Damage output was still effective.

Swashbuckler works well with others. During the encounter, he was a great asset to the rouge and bard as he provided flanking, and "DPS" (absorbed a lot of attention from enemies). The bards inspire courage was enough to offset the accuracy penalty for fighting defensively.

Swashbuckler is very MAD. As the class clearly relies on at least 3 ability scores to be effective. The class needs a good STR as any melee class should. He needs a good CHA for his panache ability, and a good DEX to offset the AC and weapon finesse. The player put this class solidly next to the Monk in terms of requiring good ability scores and anything less than a 20pt buy is just not worth playing.

Swashbuckler is a very narrow class...almost too narrow. There will be almost no distinction between one swashbuckler and the next (much like the gunslinger). That being said, it is very good at what it does.

The skills the Swashbuckler posses make it still effective during a crawl and out of combat utility. However, the class posses almost no class features that are useful out-of-combat other than skills.

The player enjoyed himself while playing and enjoyed the class. I asked him to rate the class on a 1 to 5 scale. He said "a 4/5. The only reason for the loss of a point is because he feels the class is too narrow and lacks any flexibility to be a base class. This might be better suited as a alternate class."

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master_marshmallow wrote:

I would love a Priest class who is essentially a wizard using the cleric spell list.

1/2 BAB, and 6+ skills/level with all of the knowledges present. Would require a lot of effort on new things to do with domains though.

Give them a familiar or divine bonded object, and access to some buff/battlefield control stuff like Haste, and maybe some blasty stuff taken from the druid list.

Could be awesome. much this. Back in 3.5 days, I wrote a variant class to the Cleric called the Priest. Basically, I wrote it as a 1/2 BAB class, light armor pro, simple weapons, no shields. I think it was 6+Int skills (all knowledges). The big difference was that I gave it 3 domains instead of 2 and allowed it to spontaneously cast from its domain spells in addition to its cure/inflict spells. Players loved it, and felt it was a much needed role of classic fantasy.

I'm not saying I would want to see a carbon copy of a more spellcaster-type cleric, but even that would be very nice.

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Arcanist: I was really looking forward to this class. Especially as a nice alternate spellcaster to wizard or sorcerer. But, I will admit, I do not like the mixed bloodline thing. That is for sorcerers...leave it there. I would love to see instead an ability to surge their magic more. The ability to enhance spells on the fly, but at a cost. This would make them unique. 4/5

Bloodrager: I was not actually looking forward to this class, but it came as a nice surprise. It is well thought out, unique, and overall very nice. Needs a bit of love to refine it, but overall I am glad for this class to be add to my games. 5/5

Brawler: I have been waiting on a full BAB monk without supernatural powers for a long time. And this delivers...almost. I feel the ability to choose a feat on a whim is either TOO POWERFUL or no strong enough. Either way, it will add a very complex feature that will only add more book keeping and slow game down. I HATE THE FLEXIBLE FEAT FEATURE. It is poorly designed and needs to be reworked. That being said, the class as a whole is nice. 3/5

Hunter: I was really looking forward to this class as much as the arcanist and it failed...hard. None of my players will ever tough this class, nor will they even playtest it. It is inferior to both the ranger and the druid, and has no "RANGER" in it. I feel like a full BAB, plus the shifting ability of the ranger archetype would actually help fix this class. Overall concept great, but mechanically fails. 2/5

Investigator: Probably my favorite class in the book. Unique, loves what it adds to the game. Needs very little refinement. Good job guys! 5/5

Shaman: Love the concept, but again I feel this class fails at what should be a good concept. Why the oracle and witch...I don't feel that is the strongest combination for the concept. Why not druid and witch. I feel like these classes make more sense then oracle. 2/5

Skald: Love bards, love barbarians. Hate the combination. I am sorry, there is nothing about this that is any good. I will never play this, my players will never play this, and if they did, I would never "
"accept" their community rage. Please remove this class for a better combination. 1/5

Slayer: I love the concept enough to almost remove the inquisitor from the game. I have very little to say on this other than well done. It needs only a little bit of tweaking to polish this class. 4/5

Swashbuckler: I (and all my players) hate the gunsligner, and this is coming from a guy who runs steampunk and futuristic games. That being said, I LOVE this concept and the class. This does what a prestige class and archetypes have failed at. WELL DONE. The class is unique and offers something that has been missing from the game. Like the Investigator, I am excited to see this at my games. 4/5

Warpriest: I am sorry, but I hate this class as much as the skald. I love clerics (played two in the last year) and fighters. However, this is not a combination that needed to happen unless you where going to do a "paladin-like" build without all of the Lawful Good tie down. I love the concept of a heavy armor, divine magic enhancing fighter...but the inquisitor already does this nicely. I am sorry, this class is not unique, adds nothing interesting to the game, and simply needs to be removed for a better hybrid concept. 1/5

All in all, a very strong start to a book I will definitely be getting. However, the two concepts I feel are too weak or unnecessary need to be removed. There are plenty of other hybrid concepts that I feel deserve to be made rather than warpriest (which is what a CLERIC IS SUPPOSED TO BE) or the Skald (just a bad combo). Statistically a 3.1/5

What about these concept builds.
Cleric/Wizard or Oracle/Sorcerer (I am sorry the Mystic Theurge takes too long to get to)
Sorcerer/Monk (all out magical monk, very Asian-like spellcaster that mixes martial arts with magic)
Bard/Cavalier (war leader, champion, king of sorts)
Ranger/Witch (a companion that grants spells)

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Zwordsman wrote:
16. teleport killed the caravan trade

did anyone else read this like the 80's song "video killed the radio star"...

...or is my age just starting to show.

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Cthulhu, Kaji, and a living wall. I am beyond ecstatic. I understand the living wall is different from 2nd ed and honestly im glad. I don't like having to do that much work for just 1 encounter. Oh and outer dragons just in time for my future game to go high level!


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Sir Thugsalot wrote:

What are the rules (especially as regards to legality in PFS) regarding this feat and gnomes (or any other race with innate arcane ability)? Can a 1st-level gnome fighter use the feat?

...I note that various races may now qualify for PrCs based on inate abilities rather than casting-class levels (with there accordingly being renewed interest in the moribund Mystic Theurge), and am curious if this leniency extends to feats.

Can you provide a link to the moribund Mystic Theurge. I really like that class, but its always sooo week the first few levels.

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If you want to talk realism, consider this. Farming has to be one of the most physically and mentally difficult professions next to say frontline soldier. And even then, I would still give it to a farmer. Farmers HAVE to be strong to lift what they need to everyday and not kill themselves. They HAVE to be endurant. They get up at 4 am, and stop at 6 or 8 pm... seriously. After a 8 hour work day I feel exhausted, after anything longer and feel like I want to die. They do this EVERYDAY. Not to mention, they need to be smart. Contrary to popular belief, farmers have a great deal of knowledge about animals, plants, weather, machines, you know...farming. They HAVE to know this stuff or there crops die, their animals don't produce, and their machines break down...and then they fail as farmers and we all suffer for it. Out of any profession on the planet, farmers to this day use some the most expensive and advanced equipment we have to offer on a consumer (and non-consumer) level. They must be fully trained in how to use every single piece of that equipment. If you have ever stepped back and REALLY thought about what farmers have to do...its really freaking amazing. That is why there are currently farmer shortages in the real world.

That being said...I also feel it is easy to have a huge miss-interpretation of what a 15 in a single ability score represents. Just to give you and idea, my Army friend (who served two tours) at the peek of his physical condition, he was capable of performing a STR 16 on a regular day to day task. When he got back, he stopped most of his military regiment, and started a kickboxing one...this had the effect of now dropping is STR to a 15 in most areas, while increasing his DEX to a what I would say is a 14 or so. Considering his accuracy with a pistol at certain ranges.

I don't really know where I was going with all that...just felt like sharing. Maybe because I do agree that out of all the NPC's stats, the farmer is the only one I COMPLETELY disagree with.

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I live in Louisiana, and at least on two separate occasions, i've had hurricanes knock my power out (more recently) and decided to spend my time reading (in full) every Pathfinder RPG book i own (which is all of them).

As of the last hurricane I've read in completion up to the Ultimate Equipment. So that makes it:
Core Rulebook (3x)
Bestiary 1, 2 (almost done with 3)
Advanced Players Guide
Ultimate Combat/Magic/Equipment
...and most of the Advanced Race Guide.

During the last hurricane, I had ordered my UE and was surprised UPS delivered it the day before the hurricane made landfall...the next day, we lost power...and that is how I read that book from cover to cover in a week. Fun times. I always come out of those things like " I understand that obscure rule no body knows about..."

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Dekalinder wrote:
Ehm, so a 8th level sorcer with 6-7 fireball and god know what else is "of no threat" to 100 rank-and-file paesant? I think i'm not ever going to use this system...

No reason to be so negative. This is better than any system that's out know...because there are so many war rules systems for d20. [a joke for those who didn't get the sarcasm through text] So yes, at that exact point of 8th level, there seems to be some issues...if you don't like it, make 8th level the equivalent of a ACR 1/2 Army (or whatever its called), and a 7th lv a Army ACR 1/3, and so on.

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xevious573 wrote:
AinvarG wrote:
Just trying to understand - wouldn't warrior 3 have an average of 16.5?

Not for armies, no. Warrior 3 helps determine the ACR (Army Challenge Rating). A warrior 3 human or drow has a CR 1 and this army has 100 soldiers, making it a Medium size army which means the creatures ACR = the Warrior 3's CR (1). If there were actually 2,000 Human Warrior 3's (each individual one being CR 1), then we'd have a Colossal size army which would increase the ACR by 8, making the total ACR be 9 and the army's hp 49 (5.5 x 9 = 49.5). That ACR determines a lot of the numbers surrounding armies - hp, OM, and DV. Now armies can only take damage from other armies (And thus the normal damage system of Pathfinder isn't relevant) so if your character decides to take on an army all by themselves, you would take your characters normal gameplay CR (normally their level unless other things like templates are involved) and subtract 8 (This is a Fine sized army and thus its ACR is 8 less then the base creature's CR) from it to determine your characters ACR. We would then determine your hp by taking the lowest of your HD types (if you're multiclass fighter/rogue then we'd use a d8) and taking the average of that HD type and multiplying it by your ACR. Note that if we don't atleast get a ACR 1 after applying a penalty or bonus for army size category, then the creatures composing the "army" aren't actually strong enough to pose a threat to a real army and thus can't have an army statblock.

So take a 20th level wizard. This wizard's ACR would be 12 (20 - 8 since he's a Fine army), his HD is d6, he has 3.5hp per CR, or 42hp. Now this wizard can take on another army as we now have the beginnings of an Army statblock. This wizard would probably have several other special qualities based on his actual character sheet but that would require the GM (and player if it's a PC) to determine those special qualities.

There's more to it of course, but that's the general gist of the old system. It looks like they have a...

Thank you for explaining that. I know that took a while, and for someone who didn't get to read the army rules from before couldn't be more excited now that I partially understand the rules.



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This alone could be the reason I am buying this book...its not...but i5 could be. I cannot express how excited for this chapter I am. BRAVO paizo, bravo. I also just got into minecraft and cant help but feel this is inspired from that and RTS games. Thats not a baf thing...just stating what I noticed.

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I too feel that for a feat, this is pretty lackluster. That being said, offering this as a bonus 1st level feat is PERFECT because it won't bump the characters power much. I love this mechanic and cannot wait to see more. Looking forward to the rest of this book too! I hope next week is kingdom builder rules preview...or some other variant rule.

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I really like what Banalitybob said above. Seeing as I too run almost exclusively sandbox games, there are a few more things I would like to add.

First - Pick a theme! Pick a theme to the game that you and your players will all like and that you feel inspired to run. You say your running in Tian Xia, but what type of game are you running? Are you running a classic fantasy adventure, steam punk, noir, cops & robbers, pirates, guild members, etc. My themes going back a few years where (sci-fi, classic fantasy/dark, steam punk, now I'm currently running a cyberpunk Pathfinder game). Having a theme allows you to narrow what classes/archetypes people will pick, what races make sense, what languages they choose, what skills they focus in. This is a good thing. Its okay to say "no elves in this game". I usually say "certain races are restricted, and any character you make HAS TO BE TO THEME OR YOU WILL REMAKE". When I ran steam punk, I had Alchemist (salesmen), a runaway gunslinger (fighter), a playboy (bard), and a "cute" theif (rogue). My friend is currently running an underdark game and has said (no humans, elves, halflings, but added drow, orcs, and a few others).

Second - Stick to the theme. I hate it when a GM says he's going to run a Renaissance game and then adds automatic weapons, mechs, and robots. I literally threw a book at him. Pick a theme, enforce the theme (both through rules and through fluff), and then stick to it.

Third - Plan, plan, plan. You cannot go wrong with writing up a ton of side quests or random encounters. More options the better. Also, try to write quests that stick to theme (see above). I also recommend reading my post if you haven't already here. This has 7 quick rules to help you out.

Fourth - Be prepared. Have as many resources as you can help you come up with stuff on the fly. You're going to have to. A good sandbox GM can come up with any needed when needed. Here are some tools that I use ALL THE TIME.

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Ascalaphus wrote:

Something about motivated characters: some people are just good at this. Their characters always have motivations; if they have the slightest clue about what the campaign is about they'll fit right in. Other people need a bit more help to get started.

Many people have a hard time moving beyond "get rich" or "level up" as motivations. I think some of these are helpful for them:

* Setting description; what's going on in the setting? What are the conflicts in the setting? If you can pick sides for or against something in the setting, that helps in finding a motivation. (Promote this god. Fight that race. Stop injustice. End slavery. Avenge your clan.)

* A list of sample motivations: ideas to get people started. Not meant to be an exhaustive list or menu, but if people want to take some of those suggestions instead of developing their own ideas, good enough.

* A push in the right direction. You actually need to ask people what their PC's motivation is. It's not enough to know what a PC is capable of or where he's come from; you need to know where he wants to go. Ask the player to formulate one long-term and one short-term goal. More is allowed, but this is the required minimum.

Motivation seems to be a BIG key I missed in my post, but have remembered in my actual game design. This here though, I've never thought of that. I like that idea of a list of motivations, and allowing the players to "choose their own" motivation that is already suited for the world. Its like not tailor the game to the players, but allowing the players to be tailor suited to the game...interesting. I'm going to have to try that.

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Ascalaphus wrote:

I'm actually somewhat on the side of not tailoring the game too tightly. Let me explain what I mean by that;

* If your players want lots of combat, sure, put combat in the game. Or let them try to solve things with combat. Don't ignore the players' style entirely.

* But on the other hand, don't put in only challenges that the party can actually handle. Put in stuff they can't handle as well; if time comes to make a new character, that can be an opportunity to access some sectors of the sandbox that were previously impossible to crack.

For example, the original party doesn't have a cleric. So there's an area with lots of level-draining undead and stuff like that; very nasty if your party doesn't have a cleric.

Then a player's character dies, or a new players joins, or someone retires a character to try something new. Now there's an opportunity to add new competencies to the party, so that they can access parts of the sandbox they previously couldn't handle.

And undead aren't the only example; there might be thick woods where a druid is very useful; or a desert that's hard to cross without someone who can conjure food and water. The capital city might be a difficult environment if you don't have a diplomancer of some sort.

Maybe adding a dwarf to the all-human party opens up adventures in the ancestral dwarven lands; without their chaperone-dwarf they'd get harassed by the locals (with big axes).

If you'd tailored the campaign tightly to the characters, when a PC leaves, there's a big niche falling empty, and there's not a lot to do for very different types of PCs. The new PC is under big pressure to pick up the role of the old PC. "If the cleric dies, we need a new cleric."

Loose tailoring means that the PCs won't be able to go everywhere; but a change in party means some areas become harder and others become easier or even possible. And there's more room to change to very different characters if a PC dies or leaves.

An important aspect in this, is that you kind of spread around the...

THIS...this exactly. I'm not saying a tailor made game is wrong or not fun. What I am saying is it's not HOW you run a sandbox/open ended game. What you said Ascalaphus & thejeff hits the nail right on the head. You don't tailor a game to your players; you write your material and then let them choose what they like.

Real-world example: Skyrim or Fallout wasn't tailor designed with my interests in mind, but I love the games anyways. In fact, they are my favorite games. There are certain aspects of the game I might choose to ignore because of the type of character I'm playing. If I'm playing a good, heroic character I'm not going to join the Dark Brotherhood (in fact, I killed them), but I do (and did) join them with my evil character.

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Kaisoku wrote:

Good stuff!

Sounds like you read the Alexandrian (or at least heard about the three clue rule from a similar source). For those that want a longer essay on this critical rule, check it out here.

With regards to creating the world, a great article I read was about a design method, the "Slaughterhouse" (named after the designer's dungeon he was creating). It's a great way to give a sandbox game a living feel with your planning. Click here for the link.

Lastly, a little bit of advice that I gave my brother who was doing his own sort of sandboxy game, was to go with the flow and be ready to wing-it. The best tool in your arsenal for when your players blindside you, is the chart: Monster Statistics by CR.

I did read some of Alexandrian stuff! Great stuff in there.

I'm going to give that Slaughterhouse stuff a read when I get back (off to an interview ATM).

...and yes. Actually I literally use the PRPG website EVERY SINGLE SESSION I run. That website is countless useful. My endless resources of material come from these great resources as well... (fantastic sight. I use the pickpocket generator all the time) (this website has tons of generators, check them out) (this one is ridiculous)

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[WARNING LONG] - So I have been running sandbox games for several years now. Out of my gaming group, my games tend to be the ones of any success. By success I mean running for a while, everyone having fun while doing it, and the game coming to a fun ending. (not to say my friends games are not any fun)... I've made some mistakes, tried new things, and made improvements on my game. Recently, one of my friends attempted to run a sandbox game. He asked me for help, and he listened to the "WHAT", but not "HOW" or "WHY". Recently, his game came to abrupt end when 4 players dropped (out of 5). Not including the 2 or 3 that dropped before I came into the scene. In light of that, I want to help you guys avoid "Game Killers" of running a sandbox game.

1 - Do not tailor the game to the players or their characters. Players should be encouraged to play whatever they want. If they come to an obstacle they cannot overcome, let them fail or come back to it later. This will influence players to be more well rounded in their character creation, or at least as a group.

2 - DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING, EVER! I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT require a skill check [OR ANY TYPE OF ROLL] to move the story/plot/mission/quest further. If the players need to find a clue to move on, they simply find it. If not, then call for a skill check. Lets use the locked door as an example. The 3 obvious choices are lockpick (if able), bash (if able), find keys (if able). If there is a possibility they could fail all 3, it should not be required to get through that door. Instead, the door should have something else behind it that helps the players if they do succeed. Such as a shortcut, treasure, or possible just an empty room (whatever the situation calls for).

3 - The 3 clue rule. When planing a mission/quest/adventure, always try to leave at least THREE (3) possible conclusions to said mission/quest/adventure or 3 clues to solve it. If the players feel/look like they are getting stuck, or are bored, or lost, give them clues. For example, I had a player get stuck trying to move through the sewer under a ruined city. Climbing up and moving through the city was always an option (a dangerous option, but an option). Never assume the players have a particular skill or a particular skill high enough (or roll high enough) to accomplish anything (see above).

4 - Be FAIR. This doesn't mean what you think it means. It means, in a TRUE sandbox game, if a character gets killed by a goblin, the character gets killed. If they fail a save, they fail. If they succeed, THEY SUCCEED. Plain and simple, whatever the outcome maybe, move on.

5 - Do NOT become attached to anything! When fleshing out your world, do not become attached to it. I know this can be difficult, especially for your NPCs you worked so hard to be cool. But here's the truth. They ARE NOT COOL. No NPC can, will be, or should be cool EVER. I use a rule of thumb that if you think the players will like an NPC, the players will try and kill them. And you need to be fine with that, and allow it to happen (because it will). This includes NPCs, locations, items, and even plot-lines. That's right, quests. Your players will hate your quest you spent 5 hours on, and love the one you spent 5 minutes on. This leads me to my next point...

6 - 10 Minute Rule. When planing a mission/quest/adventure/anything (except the world), do not spend more than 5 to 10 minutes on it. Jot down a few bullet points, important names, 3 clues, reward...and DONE. That it. Trust me, your players wont even realize.

7 - The WORLD. This is the ONLY exception to the above rule. Spend days, weeks, or even months planing the world. Create towns, cities, economy, factions, companies, governments, gangs/criminals, guilds, schools, religions, magic, and the meta-physics of your world/universe. The one thing that makes any sandbox game work is a world for your players to explore, become immersed in, and do stuff in. So, after you have a world (or a small piece of it) fleshed out, plan plenty of things for your players to do in it; and expect for about 1/3 of it to NEVER get used. See rule 6 above. I recommend creating about 10 to 20 missions for your players to pick and choose what they want to do. If the players come up with their own thing...roll/role with it.

In the end, NEVER say no. Says yes, asked for a roll/role, and decide the outcome. Sometimes players may want to do things or ask for things they cannot do or have yet...that's fine; just tell them "not yet".

A few more pieces of advice. Keep DC's low, use NPC classes ALOT, do not overuse Core classes, keep treasure rewards low but frequent, give players plenty of options, and above all BE CLEAR WITH YOUR PLAYERS, BOTH AHEAD OF TIME AND DURING THE GAME!

I'm interested in any feedback you guys have, or pieces of advice you have from times you've run sandbox/open ended games.

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Gobo Horde wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
DragonBringerX wrote:
... if they lake the skills to handle certain obstacles, then they simply cannot do them.

Hmm... I hope you don't make the decision about what skills are needed to overcome obstacles unilaterally and in advance instead of allowing your characters to get creative and come up with unusual ways to handle those obstacles.

I have seen (and done) some rather incredible things to overcome "obstacles" while "lacking the skills required" to handle them. Some of my most memorable moments in the game have come from coming up with creative ways to use the abilities my characters have to solve problems that the GM or module designers assumed would require specific skills.

While being creative and thinking outside the box is great and should be rewarded, I don't think standing there and SHOUTING at the door counts as creative :P Especially if they then just stood there waiting for the kolbolds to open the door after as well ;)

well said.

master_marshmallow wrote:

Not to mention the knock spell, I actually remember reading one if your posts about sandbox style games and having multiple options and I really tried, but I just can't have sympathy for ignorance, they did no exploring for something that wasn't even hidden (the keys)

And on top of that, you have 3 wizards, you have already had the revelation that you can triple the amount of spells you can normally have in your spell book if you all take different spells, and NONE of you prepared any utility spells, knowing full well that you didn't have a skill monkey character

...and you did. I wouldn't feel sorry for them either.

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:
DragonBringerX wrote:
... if they lake the skills to handle certain obstacles, then they simply cannot do them.

Hmm... I hope you don't make the decision about what skills are needed to overcome obstacles unilaterally and in advance instead of allowing your characters to get creative and come up with unusual ways to handle those obstacles.

I have seen (and done) some rather incredible things to overcome "obstacles" while "lacking the skills required" to handle them. Some of my most memorable moments in the game have come from coming up with creative ways to use the abilities my characters have to solve problems that the GM or module designers assumed would require specific skills.


Yes and Yes. I do "pre-plan" what skills are necessary to overcome certain challenges, but, if a player can come up with a creative or reasonable solution to why "this might work" then I let them have a crack at it...usually with a higher DC.

In the case of the doors as the OP listed, you have the 3 obvious ones (disable device, bash, keys). But then you have the not obvious ones; example - I had a player ask if he could roll Know (engineering) to know how to take the door down by the hinges. I allowed it, he rolled high, I knew how. I then allowed him to decrease the DC to bash equal to the difference of the Know (engineering) he got.

The Math: DC bash down a strong door DC 23 [link], the DC to know how to take the door down by hinges I ruled was the same. He got a like a 27 (rolled high) that's a difference of 4. So the DC to bash door became a 19. With aid another from another friend, the two of them were able to do it.

I reasoned, "knowing how" is not the same as being "able to". Since all of the doors in the house were the same, the bash DC for all of the doors was now only 19.

That was more of a long-winded explanation then expected, but yes.

Dark Archive

I haven't read all of it yet, but my recommendation is make sure that the all of the character origins have a bonus equal to that of a vault dweller. Getting that pit boy at 1st level is amazing. The other starting out origins need something to be equally awesome to that.

That's my two caps.

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Thanis Kartaleon wrote:

I don't see reference on the PRD to bear traps costing 1000 gp per 12.

The Adventurer's Armory lists the same information as the Advanced Player's Guide, and the PRD.

Could you provide a link to the different information?

Bear traps work on any corporeal creature. It's a pressure plate connected to a pair of metal jaws. Common sense says that Fine, Diminutive, and perhaps Tiny creatures would not have enough mass to trigger the plate or be caught in the jaws while on the plate.

As the length of the chain is not specified, your last question would definitely be up to GM interpretation. Considering that 10 ft. of chain is 30 gp, and the trap is only 2 gp, I would say that you would need to purchase the extra chain in order to wrap it around a tree.

Good catch. I usually have an eye for details like that, but even I missed that one.

@OP: Yeah, I agree with Thanis here. The cost of the bear trap obviously only has (probably a foot of chain). You would need to buy the rest to wrap around a tree sufficiently.

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Actually, I have to defend the OP here. I run sandbox games almost exclusively. I actually give my players a one page handout of character gen rules and things to expect in my game ans suggestions. I then give them a two page handout explaining everything the players need to know about the world before session 1. I explain to them in person and on paper the type of game I am running and if they lake the skills to handle certain obstacles, then they simply cannot do them. So, yes, I feel no sympathy for your players. More so, let them get killed and make a new character if they play "dumb".

At the same time though, I also make EVERY SINGLE QUEST/MISSION have at least 3 options for completion (not including failure). And if they do fail (and they have), they still get half xp for the mission (and no reward). And it seems you left them 3 options as you described above.

[lock pick doors, bash open doors, or go downstairs and get the keys (perception check?)]. So, again, I feel NO SYMPATHY for your players. If they are playing dumb, let them die. DON'T GET MAD! I cannot express this enough. I know you needed to rant, but don't get mad. Let their own consequences play out. Let the dice determine their fate...not you.

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Well, considering the one listed in the Advanced Players Guide is the one written most recently, I would go with that one. I also have a Huge problem with the trap prices in the core rulebook. They have a 10 foot hole costing 500 gp...seriously. A hole is the price of a shovel and a couple of hours of work.

As for your other question, yes. A bear trap would work on any large creature equally well. I would go so far as to say it will still hurt Huge and larger creatures too, it just doesn't trap them like it does smaller creatures. My reasoning for this, does a mouse trap not hurt a human if we stick a foot in there? We're just not held in place.

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Personally, I don't run scenarios or even linear campaigns. I almost exclusively run sandbox games, and I certainly don't pull punches. If a character gets killed by goblins in the first fight, then so be it. I also give out hero points, and allow for a PC to spend 1 hero point (instead of 2) to save their characters life. I have one player who almost never spends his hero points that way, and instead spends them on other things. If character gets killed, then he simply makes a new one.

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Our concept of leveling seems to be heavily influenced by modern (or old school) video games. But Pathfinder is not a video game. Its a simulation of something more. So, once a character (or party) has earned enough Xp to level up, when does that moment of accession occur?

At the end of the fight or encounter
After a solid rest (8 hours)
After a short rest/meditation/prayer/study
Do you have to train to earn your new class features

...or is level more subtle than that? I know I personally tally up xp in-between sessions. If the characters have earned enough, they do it before game and it really doesn't have a "moment" in my games. They are just suddenly capable of new things. In solo games I have run, I have had a player gain his class features and skill points slowly (and not all at once).

What about you? How do handle leveling "in game", or how has leveling been handled in games have you been in?

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I'm going to try out some of these environmental ideas out this sunday during game. Thanks guys.

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666bender wrote:

nice idea... hoping the DM approve magus..

I'm also going to recommend the Myrmidarch (Archetype) in the Ultimate Combat. It is specifically an archer/melee magus that will get you started without having to wait for Arcane archer levels. Plus, AA doesn't allow ray spells, but Myrmidarch does. Once you get to AA levels, you can imbue area and rays on your arrow.

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I try to remember to use environments in my games, but I feel I could always do a better job. Do you guys have any advice on the best ways to implement environments, or simple techniques that make every fight not on a "flat, generic field".

Dark Archive

I know this wasn't one of the options, but have you considered Magus for several levels and then dive into Arcane archer. Its a simpler build, no multiclassing, higher caster level all around.

Level 1-8 Magus
Level 9 + Arcane Archer

Level 11 build =
4th level spells
10th level caster
BAB +8
Good Fort and Ref saves
Doesn't suck at melee *(opinion)

The only thing that suffers is not as many skill points as a ranger/sorc build.

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Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
Thac20 wrote:
Elamdri wrote:

Lets try to stay on topic here:

Trap Items: Adamantine Arrows, Bullets, or Bolts.

Adamantine costs 60 gold per missile.

Adamantine weapon blanch costs 100g and coats 10 missiles and lasts until the ammo is fired. It even persists from PFS scenarios.

It's 600g to make 10 missiles out of Adamantine, but only 100g to blanch 10.

Can't you recover and reuse Adamantine arrows, bullets and bolts? Whereas weapon blanch is one shot.


Ammunition made from special materials is destroyed when used, after the hit is resolved.

Where is this ruling? Arrows and bolts have a 50% chance to be recovered (bullets are always expended). So, what you are telling me is an adamantine arrow, far stronger than a wooden one (literally 4x the hardness) is always destroyed or lost after being fired, but a wooden one is just fine? If I even tried to tell that to any of my players they would walk away from game from sheer logic error.

Recovery chance:
Regardless, I house rule in my games that masterworked arrows have a +10% chance of being recovered, and special materials have an additional +10% chance. In my games, adamantine arrows have a 70% chance of being recovered.

Dark Archive

Athletics is a skill (encompasses swim, climb, and jumping), acrobatics changes to encompass (tumble, escape artist, and fly).

Fire deals 1d6 per round for partially covered by the fire (just an arm, etc), completely covered by the fire (your entire body is on fire) deals 2d8 per round and must make Con checks vs. suffocation.

I DONT use facing, but I do this with shields instead. Shields (or shield bonuses to AC) apply to AC and touch. NOT flat-footed. I agree that it doesn't make sense a rouge has to bypass your shield to back-stab you. "here, let me sneak around in front of you and stab you through your shield"...

All healing effects (cure spells, cure potions/scrolls) restore at least average amount of health. So a potion of cure light wounds (1d8+1 heals a minimum of 5 hp (4.5 + 1 = 5.5 or 5hp). You can still roll higher. So if you roll 7 you still heal 8hp.

side note:
The .5 is the average of dice (sense there is no 0). This really on comes into play with multiple dice. So a cure moderate wounds heals 2d8+3 or a min of 12hp

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Fake Healer wrote:
Rakshaka wrote:
Azten wrote:
Swarms. I friggin hate fighting swarms.
I feel dirty not warning my players of the existence of creatures that are immune to all physical weapons, but they've played enough Pathfinder now to know the danger such things present. Against a party without area of effects or even alchemist fire, a lowly spider swarm can toast them if they're in an area they can't move quicker than it. (like while climbing or in lots of difficult terrain.).
Try a crab swarm....close to 40 hp of no physical weapon damage....hard to come up with that much damage in Area of Effect stuff at the appropriate level (or a level or 2 below). RUN AWAY!!!

Funny you say that, I had a party go bounty hunt a giant crab, before the crab came out of the water, they had to contend with a crab swarm for 1d4 +1 rounds, ended up being like 4 or 5 rounds. They were damaging the crab swarm, but barely. Then the giant crab came out and one hit killed the tank. Just chopped him in half. Everyone was stunned.

One monster I found that nearly wiped a party out was a medium skeleton in full-plate with a greatsword. The party had a Paladin to boot, and just pitted them up against 2 of those. The Paladin would have died if not for using all of his lay on hands on himself.

Also very overlooked for its CR...the Manticore. Those spikes nearly wiped a party of 4 3rd levels.

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kmal2t wrote:
It is incredibly silly how people are decked out in full plate 24/7. No one ever says they're taking it off so its like they're constantly squeaking around in plate whether they're at the bar, taking a s@%$, climbing a wall etc.

This is exactly what I'm talking about. I also will houserule that while in a town/city or other social situations, all characters wearing armor get a -2 penalty to Diplomacy checks and a +1 Intimidate checks. I grant the same bonus for characters with a weapon visible. The bonus and penalties stack. So if they got their sword and armor on walking through town square, they get a -4 Diplomacy and a +2 Intimadate. I may boost the penalty and bonus if it is a practically scary piece of equipment. I find this too works really well to promote socially acceptable behavior from adventures. Or at least more realistic.

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So, a few friends and I have been discussing the possibility of adding a defense variant in our games. I have always like the idea of a defense bonus, but never liked their delivery. Until now...

The idea here is, the bonus does not stack with Armor of any kind. The bonus on applies to AC (not flat-footed or touch). It does stack with shields and any other type of bonus. While the bonus does not stack with armor, armor still has the benefit of apply to flat-footed. The concept around this is promote a play style where players do not feel the need to wear their armor at ALL times.

"Oh, your wearing your spiked full plate to the bar...really..."
- or - "You are all going on a sea fearing vessel, why are you donning heavy armor." - or - "your tracking through 108 degree dessert in half-plate..."

The bonus is not large, but it does allow characters to feel like they are "defenseless" when their armor gets sundered, or they get arrested and have to break out, or they go to a court ball and need to wear nice clothes.

We call the bonus: Parry bonus to AC.

Heroic Characters
Not Proficient in armor - +1 Parry bonus to AC
Light Armor Proficiency - +2 Parry bonus to AC
Medium Armor Proficiency - +3 Parry bonus to AC
Heavy Armor Proficiency - +4 Parry bonus to AC

At 4th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, all characters receive a +1 Parry bonus to AC (or +5 at 20th level).

If you take the armor proficiency feats or later take levels in a class that grants armor proficiency, your base Parry bonus increases to match. For example, a level 3 wizard then takes 1 level of fighter. His base Parry bonus increases from +1 to +4, and he gains an additional +1 bonus to Parry for reaching 4th level granting him a total of +5 Parry bonus to Defense. If he then chooses to equip a chain shirt, his AC does not increase, but his flat-footed AC does increase by +4.

NPC classes nor monsters get this bonus. NPC's with Heroic levels do. (The difference between a Warrior and a Fighter).

Ideas, suggestions, thoughts.

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Vorduvai wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
I think that several of us demonstrated quite well that magic shops do not automatically reduce role playing, unbalance the game or create free access to magic items as if there is some sort of Infinite Capacity Vending Machine of Magic Items. In the case of careful use of magic shops the game really operates much like a game without magic shops.

I gotta say that I am coming around to this line of thinking. Prior to the original post's discussion I was definitely against it, but negative extreme connotations of "Magic Shoppe" overshadowed what can truly be a cool concept. It just has to be treated with some degree of thought and consistent within the context of the campaign. I see now for me it's not the "Magic Shoppe" issue but the 75% availability issue...and even that's not really an issue if it's not the entire list of Magic Items potentially on the racks.

Somewhere I keep running into a need to homerule a line of separation, beyond gp value. What's commonly known and understood in the heroes' line of work? What's uncommon or rare? What's never been seen before and so jealously guarded as to provide an advantage to that country/society/clan/whatever? What's made by crafters that they'd never sell except to those they implicitly trusted (by reputation or quest)? Somewhere for me there's another line besides "artifact" and "magic item" but not sure how to tackle that one. It's not a problem in my campaign now, but I could see it becoming that way later on - especially if I loosened up the reigns on incorporating the Magic Shoppe concept.

I use the minor/medium/major item rule. That's what it's for. Major items are never available. They are almost exclusively quest items. That quest can be contained within the confines of said city, however. Medium items are extremely rare and are only available as I "once in a blue moon" drop them in. Minor items above 5000 gp are uncommon at best, below are a little more common. These items are still not readily available and have a 75% chance rule. Items below 1000 gp tend to be more common. Potions/scrolls/ and sometimes wands are readily available. Not all though. I use the Ultimate Equipment Guide common and uncommon to determine what is READILY available and CHANCE to be available.

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As the title says, does mage armor or shield for that matter count against touch attacks. It is a force effect and does stop incorpreal attacks. As a GM I feel it should, but it is specifically an Armor bonus, so I'm still not sure.

Dark Archive

I typically don't buy such game aids, but in the case of spell cards...YES. I would love to see that.

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kmal2t wrote:

And yet it only goes up to medieval technology and medieval societal advancements?

Plate mail...kings and courts and virtually every picture of towns and cities uses medieval looking architecture..

when is the last time you saw a DnD parliment? DnD rise of the industrial revolution and labor unions? A DnD Age of Reason with people inventing microbiology and penicillin?

When is the last time you saw a DnD Rosseou or Niche? Regardless of it being paganistic it still has the feel of medieval Europe..

I'm sorry I have to stop you there. I didn't read any further past this and if I've been ninja'd then oh well. I run those types of games every week. I am currently running a Pathfinder year 2410 type of deal right now. My last campaign was Pathfinder Steampunk. The game before that was in a time period that barely had guns or cannons. Even in THAT game I ran governments that my friend who is a Political Science Major felt was a realistic and tangible government system.

So, yes. Me and my gaming group run different things ALL the time. In fact, I do not remember that last time I ran a cookie-cutter Pathfinder "dark ages" game.

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Arikiel wrote:

9. There's a Table for That.

So I go through all the trouble of making up CP 2020 style background tables for Pathfinder only to have Paizo come up with their own and undoubtable better version. Damn you Paizo! *shakes fist in air* >.<

I know that feel. I went through the trouble of creating guns for my game only to have the Ult Combat book do it so well. Oh we'll, at least I get to keep my modern and future guns because they didn't touch those.

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I know in my games I give a +1 level bonus every 4 levels to balance this out. This bonus applies to everything, flat-footed, touch, and of course AC.

Although, after reading the Star Wars rules, I have thought about making a defense bonus that only applies when not wearing armor. Or at least a feat that does this. I haven't put the math to this yet as I'm on an iPad, I'll get back to you guys on this.

Dark Archive

I never ran for THAT many, but I did run a 6 player game for nearly a year. Near the end (about 15th level) I was reduced to handing out requisition forms so that characters could write down what they wanted their characters to buy/craft/or find (if I was feeling nice). It worked out well for cutting the "shopping" time down to almost none. I did make sure to stress that it was a requisition form...not an acquisition form. I had the right, AND FREQUENTLY DID, deny anything or everything on the list. AND I never let my players gain any more than a handful of items per session, not including mostly mundane equipment, ammo, etc.

The other idea is (what I've been doing recently) in my 4 or 5 player games is ban magic item crafting and only allow drops.

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I created an NPC class for my games call The Mage. They work just like the Adept except for arcane spells, uses Intelligence instead of Wisdom, and their spell list.

Side note, no NPC class should EVER get class features. None of the other NPC classes do and for a good reason. The ONLY exception to this is the Adept and now the Mage getting a familiar.

0 Level: arcane mark, dancing lights, daze, detect magic, detect poison, flare, light, mage hand, mending, message, read magic

1st Level: alarm, burning hands, color spray, comprehend languages, endure elements, feather fall, floating disk, identify, mage armor, magic aura, magic missile, magic weapon, mount, obscuring mist, silent image, summon monster I, unseen servant

2nd Level: acid arrow, arcane lock, continual flame, flaming sphere, gust of wind, identify fingerprint, knock, levitate, make whole, minor image, resist energy, scare, see invisibility, summon monster II, whispering wind

3rd Level: arcane sight, daylight, dispel magic, fireball, heroism, lightning bolt, major image, nondetection, sleet storm, summon monster III, tongues, wind wall

4th Level: dimension door, fear, hallucinatory terrain, scrying, stone shape, summon monster IV, wall of fire

5th Level: cone of cold, fabricate, major creation, permanency, sending, summon monster V, telekinesis, teleport

Dark Archive

Personally, I love the idea of magical engineering (lol). Seriously thought, You do also have to consider that these prices do not represent the cost of the building as well. These are costs similar to the cost of enchanting a weapon or armor. You still have to buy/build the structure first. I typically use the build point system in the kingmakers guide as a rough guide for costs of buildings and structures. (Another reason I cannot wait for Ultimate Campaign)

I also love the idea of cities that utilize wall of ice, wind wall (for the cheap), dimension door (for linking two buildings far apart together), a tower of control weather (effects farmlands and such), or even the absurdly expensive tower of Interplanetary Teleport to transport people and goods to another world. (a link for those unfamiliar with the spell)

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