Dreikaiserbund's page

118 posts (179 including aliases). 3 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 aliases.

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Hail and well met, fellow travelers! The name is Mikhail Rekun, and I wrote the Human Ancestries section of this book.

First, credit where it's due, Eleanor and Luis did yeoman work putting this book together, and Mark did a great deal to convert my early-system musings into actual rules.

Overall, I'd say this was the most difficult project I've ever undertaken for Paizo, before or since. On the mechanical side, the PF2 system was still being finalized when I was writing all those feats, which made for some interesting times (I want to say that heritages became a thing about halfway through my writing, though my memory may be deceiving me). On the setting side, well... summarizing an entire world's worth of ethnic groups was never going to be easy. Still, I'm rather pleased with the final product.

A couple of miscellaneous notes:

  • As mentioned earlier, the Dragon Spit and Dragon Prince feats are in my notes as 'Anime Hair' feats, since they give you a perfectly reasonable, rules-legal explanation for why you are wandering around with anime protagonist coloration. Dragons! Is there anything they can't do?
  • The working title for Keeping Up Appearances was 'Stiff Upper Lip', and I still wonder if I should've named it that instead. For the record, the Taldans are my favorite ethnicity. So delightfully snooty.
  • I'm rather proud of the origin stories I have for the half-orcs. In gaming, there's a marked tendency to portray half-orcs as the children of rape, with all the unfortunate implications involved. I made a point to sidestep that, and instead give them a certain mythic background. I'll also admit to being amused at the idea of Pharasma just throwing her hands in the air and sending a bunch of souls back, even though this is a folk legend and probably did not happen.

Anyway, that's all from me for now. Hope you lot like the book!

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So, ah, not to burst anyone's bubble, but do be aware that by the time a product has been publicly announced, about 98% of the writing is completed, and has been for months.

Publication pipelines are long.

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I'm rather proud of those two feats. In my notes I have them listed as my 'Anime Hair' Feats, for reasons that should be abundantly clear.

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Love this to bits. The art is gorgeous, the mechanics inspired, and the university fascinating.

Also I want an anadi ancestry so very much.

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Excellent. Really, all of it is excellent, but I particularly love the hobgoblin with the taotieh axe, and the whole concept of Uncommon ancestries.

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I very, very, very much would like to see playable gnolls somewhere in the setting.

They're a venerable D&D race, dating back from the first edition. They have a very appealing look (how can you not love these faces?). The hyena link gives you options for some definitely novel biology (the insane jaw strength has definite play applications, while the reproductive aspects are not exactly game-friendly but can definitely be fodder for cultural myths in the style of the Hugo-award winning Digger by Ursula Vernon.)

Keith Baker's 4E article on gnolls was a master class in how to make gnolls interesting and playable without detracting from the 'dangerous monster' aspect.

And I think that there are definite signs that Golarion may be ready for such a thing. We're steadily moving away from 'It's okay to kill them because they're green' approach to gaming, and if goblins can be a player ancestry, I can't imagine why gnolls couldn't be.

So, all aboard the gnoll hype train! Gnoll gnoll gnoll!

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1) Ustalav and all that is within it, but especially the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye. I started gaming in Ravenloft, and Ustalav feels very much like Ravenloft's hip, modern successor.

2) Taldor, and the mixture of politics, arrogance, history, and genuine albeit faded greatness that it has. If I were to live in Golarion, I would be a Taldan.

3) The Test of the Starstone and the stories of the Ascended Gods (Iomedae, Norgorber, and Cayden Cailean). More than any others, they feel like fully realized and complex characters, while at the same time maintaining that 'mythic' quality to them.

4) Psychopomps. I feel profound sympathy for the put-upon bureaucrats who are just trying to make the universe run properly.

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Rysky wrote:

Also thankies for the info Mikhail ^w^

And especially for the Dustwalkers and Mortics, I likes those I do yes yes.

You are most welcome! You have not heard the last of me, but alas, the big stuff I've worked on is still under NDA at the moment. Weep for the plight of the freelancer, Rysky.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
First of all, thanks to @Mikhail Rekun for the extremely useful post.

You are very welcome!

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
I agree with this, with the caveat that Anastasia might think to use magic to intervene covertly abroad and spare her armies. But I don't see a way clear to her loosening the reins in a longstanding repressive society, when she's only ever seen that lead to ruin for her family and for herself personally (she might also get some schadenfreude from scrying on the Russian Civil War from time to time).

I think at this point we are so far out of the usual situation that any historical comparisons are of limited use at best, and narrative considerations become more important (in this case, I'm guessing that the narrative purpose is to make people who finished the Reign of Winter AP feel like they accomplished a positive act).

Anyway, I will bow out of the discussion at this point, but feel free to ping me if anyone wants more Random Russian History Fun Time Posts.

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I generally avoid wading into these sorts of debates, but for once this touches very close to my own field. So, here we go!

First off, hi, I'm Mikhail Rekun. I'm a Paizo freelancer, though not one who's done anything related to Saga Lands to date. When not writing about duskwalkers and mortics, though, I'm a historian of the late Russian Empire. (I've got a book and everything! Check it out: How Russia Lost Bulgaria, 1878-1886) My specialty is diplomatic history and foreign relations, not the Romanov dynasty itself, but I'm moderately familiar with them.

First point: There is not enough historical information to say firmly that Anastasia would be more liberal or more repressive than the typical ruler. Ultimately, Anastasia died when she was seventeen years old, and as a woman would have never been considered for the Russian throne owing to the Pauline laws of succession (there's some outside edge cases where such a thing was possible, but this was no a concern at the time to my knowledge). I'm not aware of Anastasia ever showing much interest in politics at a young age.

Thus, everything is going to be guess work to a certain extent, and that's even before you factor in the potential PTSD from her family's death, or the way resurrection, dimensional travel, and all the rest would influence the poor girl.

That said, we can untangle a couple of other points here.

The argument that the Romanovs were uniformly repressive, or that the lesson of history is that if you give the people an inch they will take a mile is a bit of an oversimplification. By and large, the last 150 or so years of the Romanovs saw more liberal monarchs alternating with more reactionary ones - you have Catherine the Great followed by Paul I, Alexander I followed by Nicholas I (Nicholas Palki, the real Gaoler of Europe), Alexander II followed by Alexander III, and then Nicholas II as the odd duck in the flock.

Taken as a whole, Imperial Russia was a more conservative land than France or the United Kingdom, but there were regular efforts to modernize, liberalize, and update it - the biggest effort was Alexander II's Great Reforms, which freed the serfs but also brought about massive reorganizations in the judiciary, in civil administration, and so forth.

The reason here is that it was fairly clear that a consistently authoritarian line would leave Russia further and further behind its peers among the Great Powers. I won't get into the details because I am much too lazy to break out my books, but suffice to say that Russia's antiquated administration came with serious costs - more modern states such as Germany were better able to mobilize large numbers of soldiers, and use civic expenditures to arrange railways the way they liked them for easy logistics. Ultimately, Alexander II became a reformer and a liberal (in the contemporary Russian sense of the term), because Imperial Russia had been beaten black and blue during the Crimean War, for all that the French and British armies had their own share of woeful incompetence.

Nicholas II breaks the pattern a bit, because he was honestly not the brightest bulb, but even his own experiences point to the fact that one cannot effectively repress a population indefinitely - the Revolution of 1905 was only really stopped because Sergei Witte essentially bullied Nicholas into granting a constitution and allowing for a legislature, even if the October Manifesto was subsequently defanged to near irrelevance with the various election manipulations. Which in turn played a major role in letting pressure build that resulted in the February Revolution.

So, it's certainly plausible that a reborn Anastasia might conclude that perpetual repression is a long-term loser, because sooner or later the system breaks down. Personally, I think it's even more plausible that she'd become a staunch pacifist and noninterventionist, because the Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 had their proximate causes in her father getting involved in unwise and unsuccessful foreign wars.

This post is getting a bit unwieldy, but I'll touch on a second point, which is the idea that the Romanovs were uniquely brutal. As noted, compared to the rest of Europe they were more conservative, and they definitely had their unpleasant moments (best example here would be the regular pogroms launched by basically all the Tsars).

But consider their contemporaries - such folks as Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Dowager Empress Cixi, or the most triumphant example, King Leopold II.

King Leopold II of Belgium's life overlapped a bit with Anastasia's (she was born in 1901, he died in 1909), though I don't know that they'd ever met. But in the Congo Free State, Leopold ran what can only be called a genocidal regime, uniquely brutal and horrific even by the standards of colonialism, which saw such things as routine mutilation, forced labor (slavery, not to mince words), and cut the Congo's population roughly in half. He's someone who could give Hitler and Stalin a run for their money in the body count contest.

Ultimate conclusion then: Yes, the Romanovs were conservative in general and on occasion quite reactionary (the point about Nicholas I and the Revolution of 1848 is a valid one), but they were neither uniformly tyrannical nor necessarily out of line with other European monarchs of the Victorian era.

Furthermore, there's not really enough on Anastasia to make sweeping proclamations as to what kind of ruler she would be, but certainly a benevolent, non-violent Anastasia is entirely possible.

Sources: I've got more books on this topic than I care to think about, but a very good set of readable histories on the late Russian Empire would be the various books of W. Bruce Lincoln, especially In War's Dark Shadow. If anyone is terribly interested in an actual reading list, I would be happy to provide.

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I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the old, classic pulp adventures (or more accurately, their retro reincarnations like Indiana Jones or Johnny Quest). It had orientalizing baggage by the truckload, no argument here, but at the same time... there was this little spark of genuine interest in other lands and other cultures. "Look how cool the world is! Look at all these interesting places and interesting people!"

Seeing this made me grin, I'll say.

Anyway, this was a genius trick and I am legitimately impressed. Also putting a bunch of adventures on my to-read list, clearly.

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You're the best!

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I was very much thinking of Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain when I wrote it.

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Prince Setehrael wrote:
What is the Witch Capstone called?

The Witch and the Alchemist already get a variable capstone, with grand hexes and grand discoveries, so rather than replace those I simply wrote one new grand hex and one new grand discovery.

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Greetings all and sundry! This is Mikhail Rekun, your humble author and writer of the capstone section. A great big thank you to Eleanor and Luis for tossing this my way - it was fun to really stretch my wings with high-power, high-level stuff.

A few miscellaneous notes and comments below. Standard disclaimer, this is me in my civilian hat, and is no way, shape, or form official.

1) My balance guideline was 1 capstone = 4 feats, leaning towards more powerful and dramatic effects out of the principle of ending the campaign, and the edition, with a bang.

2) I dearly, dearly wanted to call the Wizard capstone 'Schrodinger's Wizard', but this would have been too meta. The thought, however, is there.

3) My own personal favorite capstones are 'The Boss', 'With This Sword' and 'Won't Stay Dead,' for their ability to spark new stories or roleplaying moments ("How did you survive that broken neck?" "Special trousers.") Arch-Familiar gets an honorable mention because I love familiars.

Finally, I note that the narrator of this section, Kallixeina Nyx, is a character from my Planescape campaign, and is the sister of Kharmione Nyx from the Half-Dead article intro in AP 139: The Dead Roads. You can see what Kalli looks like here.

Hope everyone liked the capstones!

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I am thoroughly on board with this. Kingmaker the AP has always seemed like a triumph of magnificent ideas over solid-but-not-great execution, so a revised, rereleased AP is <i>definitely</i> my cup of tea. Owlcat did a lot of good work on the CRPG, it'll be great to have it backported into PF.

Also, I am quite happy on having it be PF2 (really, I can't imagine who'd think it would be otherwise), and the D&D5E bestiary seems a fairly shrewd play to lure new gamers in.

Overall, count me as quite pleased.

(Carrion Crown afterwards? :D)

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Greetings to all and sundry! This is Mikhail Rekun, and I wrote one of the monsters at the end of this AP -- the Gurgist, everyone's favorite terrifying masked horror who isn't really that bad.

As ever, a massive thank you to Ron Lundeen for sending this my way, along with big bunches of ideas to ponder. And likewise, what follows are some random comments that are not in any way official.

Stylistically, the Gurgist grew out of thinking about hungers, while trying to avoid the usual zombie tropes (nothing wrong with those, but we were aiming at more than just 'cannibal humans'). So, I was thinking about hunger as a central theme, and addiction, and I was reading Discworld, and a little light bulb went up above my head. For those sorry souls among you who have not read Sir Terry's Discworld series, vampires there often become teetotalers, displacing their addiction to blood for something else.

Now, in Sir Terry's books, this is mostly played for laughs. So I started thinking of how to make it creepy (leading to the obsession skills). And then one of my friends showed me something that involved masks, and a second light bulb went on. Creepy masks! Masks make everything creepy! (My players are now rolling their eyes a bit). Maybe not the most original idea in the history of gaming (creepy masked dead things are a thing), but hey, it works.

Fun fact: As often neutral critters, they can also be creepy-cool allies.

So, this is where the Gurgist came from. I'm rather proud of them, and I'm really proud of the artwork that came with them. Seriously, it's amazing.

Mechanically, Gurgists are slow-moving rogues. They have the zombie vibe, and then they rush up to you and sneak attack you (ideally, they're fighting in groups and set up flanks). Whereupon they are zombies dual-wielding daggers and hitting you for way too much damage.

Hope folks enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them, and with luck a few PCs will get to go 'urk' at being stabbed repeatedly.

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Hello everyone! This is Mikhail Rekun, I wrote the Half-Dead article at the back. I just want to say a very big thank you to Ron for giving me the chance to write about this -- various creepy dead things are absolutely in my wheelhouse.

Some miscellaneous comments on things in the article not immediately obvious: (For the record, this is me in my civilian hat, and is in no way, shape, or form official).

1) The Dhampir's Blasphemous Chalice is inspired by Brian Lumley's Necroscope series, with its alien vampires.

2) The Suit of Inverted Jade is based on a real-world thing, the jade burial suits of Han Dynasty China. I had the privilege of seeing one at the National Museum of Beijing roughly at the same time as Ron first messaging me about this article, so it was meant to be (you can find more on them here).

3) The weapons from the Vanth's Scythe feat are meant to match the weapons of the psychopomps -- scythe for vanths, quarterstaves for shoki, whips for the morrigna, and bows for olethros.

4) The Shabti feats are all named after actual Egyptian titles, with the exception of First General. But the others are all real things.

Finally, as a tiny bit of trivia, Kharmione Nyx, the hustler from the article introduction, is a character in a Planescape game I have run. You can see what she looks like here.

That's all! Hope everyone liked the article.

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I'll admit that I am okay with Belimarius as one of the surviving Runelords, because she always seemed one of the more interesting ones. She's an Abjurer, which feels like an underrepresented school of magic, she's an evil grandma-looking old lady, which is just generally underrepresented in fiction, and she's actually interested in running her nation. Plus the ghost angle feels like it has quite a lot of potential for character and plot development going forward.

(I do have a soft spot for Xanderghul, if only because there's something homey about his little lair -- you can meet the guy while he's eating dinner or feeling homesick!)

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magnuskn wrote:
Aside from the Neutral Evil alignment (which makes no sense, but there it is...)
CorvusMask wrote:
Reading the entry again, I think they are evil because they were originally created by binding Shining Children(which are evil outsiders) into body of a lynx

...I mean, they're cats. Do we need more of an explanation? Cats are ***holes. :P

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Greetings all and sundry! Mikhail Rekun here, I wrote the familiar and animal companion sections. I might have made some manner of feral sound when Luis offered me a chance to write it.

I'm glad to see people like those sections so far. Some random thoughts, keeping in mind that this is me in my 'Private Citizen' hat and I don't actually have my copy yet.

  • <> I really, really wanted to add ostriches to the list of animal companions/mounts, but alas there are no ostriches in any hardcover books. I shall carry this regret to my grave.

  • <> Something that might not be immediately obvious about the talking-familiar feat is that it makes it semi-official that your un-Improved Familiar is also your Improved Familiar, albeit in a new body (I say semi-official because I don't believe there are any formal rules about this). You play with Mittens the Cat Familiar for seven levels, you want to get a shiny new Silvanshee Agathion Improved Familiar, but you can't just throw Mittens aside. It's Mittens! You two go way back! Most GMs I've had would let you finagle something for roleplaying purposes, but this makes it a bit more official.

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Yessss.... first Paizo article with my name exclusively on it. And it's about dead things! Marvelous!

(Many thanks to Ron for giving me this chance. So many fun dead things.)

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Continuing along, my invocation-slinging wizard's spell list.

Reality Rend: Time Stop
"Time is an illusion, space is a lie. By the Seven Runes of Thassilon and the Eighth Rune Unwritten, I call upon the Worm that gnaws its tail. Coils of infinity, turn!"

The Fimbulwind: Cold Sirocco + Cold Tar Pool
Let the cold wind shatter their eyes, let the night wind steal their breath, let the ice wind harden their blood, let the dark wind blacken their limbs. Hoary Jötnar of bygone ages, unleash the Fimbul-Wind!

Solar Gate: Sunburst
"Solar orb, sightless, sleeping, chained in cloud and night, Awaken!"

Chain of Jupiter: Chain Lightning
"Jupiter rises ascendant, and dwells in the house of the Archer. To your base forms I assign the crown, the blade, the throne, the eagle... and chain them with the thunderbolt!"

Azlant's Doom: Tsunami
"Rime-ringed ocean, fathomless and black, lend me one of your children. I call upon Azlant's Doom!"

Hungering Flames: Disruptive Contagious Flames
"Spell-drinker, Heart-eater, never sated, never quenched. By the Secret Fire I bid thee, feast!"

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Ooooh. This is gonna be good/terrible.

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A few of the splatbook critters are pretty awesome. The creepy spider-doll servitor from Crownfall comes to mind as well.

Also, totally stealing this creature for my Ravenloft game.

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NobodysHome wrote:
The problem in Pathfinder is the sheer number of buff types, and the fact that some stack (Dodge, Natural Armor, Untyped) and others don't (Deflection, Armor, Enhancement), leading to an incredibly-complicated game to try to keep track of...

Yeeeeep. My players are at roughly the same level as yours, and despite having both a mechanical engineer and a finance geek among my player base, we still get regular cries of "okay so what are my actual numbers?!?"

I recently enacted the nuclear option and just banned numbers-only buffs from the table (Divine Favor, Prayer, Barkskin, etc), except for a couple of grandfathered-in exceptions like Inspire Courage. We'll see how it goes, but hopefully it'll be a slightly simpler game.

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It might help to qualify what one means by 'powerful' a bit (the following is based on my own experiences with the class).

The most important thing to note is that a summoner is fairly optimized right out of the gate. Summoning monsters is considered one of the most potent strategies in Pathfinder, and producing an extremely durable Eidolon is child's play. In essence, a summoner has a low floor.

However, their ceiling isn't particularly different from other casters. If you've got a summoner alongside well-optimized martials (like a pounce-raging barbarian) and casters (like a Treantmonk-style God Wizard), then they won't stand out at all.

What this means is that while the summoner is powerful, whether it's "too" powerful (in other words, whether the power is out of whack with the rest of the table) depends on the level of optimization of the rest of the players, and to a lesser extent the level (it's easier to optimize at higher levels, so the summoner's 'natural' power shines more early on).

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In addition to the good points above, I might further add that a character's heritage or occult origins don't have to be so clear and crisp.

Golarion (or Faerun, or Eberron, or your typical campaign setting) is a place with a lot of magic, a lot of supernatural creatures, a lot of weird stuff... and they've been around for a long time. It might not be that your father was a demon (or made a demonic pact, or had a demonic artifact). Maybe it was your great-great-great-great-great grandfather, and you just got (un)lucky with a recessive gene throwing up for some reason.

Essentially, it is entirely plausible for the character themselves not to know why they have a certain eldritch heritage.

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Terrinam wrote:
Set up party romances that are doomed to fail epicly as soon as the spell wears off.
Scrapper wrote:
Make sure it involves high end clergy of Cheliax!

This is a thing of beauty. Probably more involved than I can strictly manage, but definitely intriguing.

Riffing off that... she knows the PCs well enough to have a sense of their personalities, so encouraging the PCs' worst (or most inconvenient) habits at the worst time. The Paladin who tends to be far too honest for her own good, the rogue who seduces everything that moves, the wizard who has the common sense of a gerbil...

This has potential.

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Omnius wrote:
Wevi wrote:
For skin I just need to find a pic that's not white.

Way harder in fantasy than it should be. >.>

Paizo's done an admirable job of it. Most others... not so much.

Good god yes. >_> It's not just race either, though that's a big part of it. Try finding fantasy characters who do not fit classical ideals of beauty. Maybe I want a short, fat, female knight!

Wevi wrote:
NeoTiamat wrote:
his was intentional to counterbalance PC tendency to play male characters...
To not do the same when I'm playing, every time I start a new character I go to the other gender. I just played a female human bard, now I'm about to play a male ratfolk wizard. When it come I playing a female dwarf druid.

I tend to play characters of the opposite gender, for vaguely this reason, yes. Variety!

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NobodysHome wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Please, please tell me there is photographic evidence.

(Also, hope you get better soon!)

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NobodysHome wrote:
Community colleges, my friend. No research; no publish-or-perish, and a remarkably good student body of people who are (mostly) really dedicated to getting a "real" education so they can move on to a "real" college.

I considered it, and actually sent off some job applications... but community colleges (or at least the ones I'm familiar with) have gone heavily for the adjunct model of teaching. Which is it's own kettle of severely messed up fish.

Anyway, I can't complain too much. I graduated last year and finally landed a job a few months ago (teaching English abroad) and it's been the most profitable and least stressful two months of my life so far.

NobodysHome wrote:
In high school, math is such a hated subject that no matter how interesting you make it, you have a good percentage of the students who tune it out just out of resentment. In college, if you make it interesting, students will sit up and say, "Hey, I haven't seen math taught this way before!"

I enjoyed statistics, but my memory of most of the rest of my high school math education consists of 'memorize these formulae'.

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NobodysHome wrote:
When I was in high school I wanted to be a high school teacher. Then a couple of the teachers let me teach their classes. Once I'd been in front of a live class, I decided to teach college. Says something right there.

Hah. I've got the opposite progression going. Went to grad school intending to be a professor, finished my PhD and promptly looked for jobs teaching high school.

Though in my case, I'd actually prefer and be very happy teaching college students, it's all the rest of the stuff I can do without. Publish-or-perish, the whole 'string together post-docs as a kind of highly educated hobo' job path, the stress of grant applications... yeah, pass.

Mind, I usually teach history, so whenever the kids get too bored I can usually find something gruesome and gory to talk about. That helps a bit.

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NobodysHome wrote:
But the (very good) idea is that the best way to know whether or not you understand something is to try to explain it to someone else...

Hum. Well at least the idea seems very cool and quite clever. I need to try it. How old are the students this was designed for? (Sorry about the digression)

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If I might ask -- is the rest of the Path of War errata still in the pipeline somewhere?

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The other source of complexity is that psychic casting is generally unprecedented in the rules before. Like, a magus and an inquisitor may have their own rules, but their spells still generally work like wizard or cleric spells (they have some unique spells but really not many).

Meanwhile, psychic casting has a much higher portion of new spells, and has some new mechanics (undercasting, thought/emotion components).

Is this enough to justify 'hate'? Eeeeeh... but I can see a GM not wanting to deal with it (honestly, given that Pathfinder has something like 40 base classes by now, I can totally see a GM just saying 'sticking to Corebook + APG classes for the sake of my sanity'). Gods Above know I've been tempted to do that.

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I'm really looking forward to seeing how the cleric changes his spell list this time.

...I wonder if the cleric can gain levels from defeating PCs.

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I think it's fair to say that the occult classes generally skew complex, though how complex depends on the class - Psychic is fairly straightforward, Mesmerist and Spiritualist a bit trickier, Occultist and Medium fairly complicated, and Kineticist is the only class I've seen that has a guide for GMs to understand it.

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Dreikaiserbund wrote:
I am reading! I'm honestly kind of underwhelmed by the boons, but that's not your fault. At least illusionists get an impressive boost, most of the rest seems... 'eh'.

Most of it seems to suffer from the fear of giving PCs stuff that's TOO GOOD that pervades a lot of Paizo's design philosophy IMO. That said, a couple of hair-raising items did slip through -- stuff that's either powerful on its own terms, or abusable if you're that sort of player. Not a lot, but a few.

Doug M.

Leading to us having thousands of feats and magic items, which all get ignored in favor of Power Attack and Toughness... but I digress.

Your work is genuinely useful! It saves me going through all of the Diabolic Boons looking for the few hidden gems, and for this I thank you.

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So, the author of this adventure, Eleanor Ferron, is also an artist of no small skill, and she's done a bunch of portraits for the characters in the adventure. Entirely unofficial, but something that others might find useful:

Commencement Portraits

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Pipefox. Definitely Pipefox.

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Pretty much what it says on the tin. Let us suppose that the PCs are fighting a 12th level wizard with the Lich Template (+2 CR). Does our Lich have wealth as a 12th level NPC (21,000) or as a 14th level NPC (34,800)?

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I have, over the last few days, read this thread from top to bottom. You, sir, have my deepest admiration, and your silly players as well.

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Ablative Barrier = Most people look at this spell and see a weaker Mage Armor combined with a nonlethal damage effect that's mostly worthless (since you still go unconscious when you take enough nonlethal). And on it's own, it's not too impressive. But! Combined with healing magic, it absolutely shines. Any healing spell or effect that heals lethal damage also heals an equal amount of nonlethal damage. So with Ablative Barrier up, you render healing potentially twice as effect on you -- no little thing. And it's a second level spell that stacks with everything and has a long duration, so just stick it on the whole party once you get high enough level, and watch your cleric's channeling healing explode.

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Dale McCoy Jr wrote:

Lets talk length and scope of the plot. For length, are you interested in adventures that take players up:

  • 1 level or less,
  • 2-3 levels, and/or
  • 4+ levels?

1 level or less by preference, 2-3 levels is alright, 4+ is more than I need.

Dale McCoy Jr wrote:

As far as scope goes, do you want an adventure that

  • is a 1-2 session break from the main story (finding a treasure map, killing some raiders, find a serial killer, rescue the kidnapped kid from the devils holding him in Hell),
  • you can make part of the main story by changing the names (making a bargain with an elemental lord on the plane of ash, taking down a wizards cult that can be working for your campaigns main villain, stealing the McGuffin from the vault in Hell that first requires you to break into a vault in the main realm go through a labyrinth and strike a deal with an archdevil), or
  • a campaign that start up high (you start off fighting the forces of of the lich Eskenma Pruith, hunt down all the lich's phylactories, and end 5-7 levels later with the death of the lich, darkness spreads over the countryside from several towers and you have to stop the spread of the plane of shadows into your land, kill the evil sorcerers that are making it happen, and then finally broker a peace deal between the sun and moon gods to get reality back to the way it was)

I would say the first two. Might phrase it as a simple question of demand. GMs generally only need one great-big-super-plot per campaign, and these are the plots that GMs are most likely to spend lots of time on and develop their own. On the other hand, a campaign generally needs multiple short drop-ins.

Dale McCoy Jr wrote:

While we're at it, lets talk campaign setting. I can't use Paizo Campaign Setting (obviously). Would you rather have:

  • JBE's own campaign setting, allowing us to delve into our own lore, making the world flavorful and unique, or
  • More generic, allowing it for easier working into your own campaign setting or Paizo's campaign setting?

I'm going to say use JBE's own campaign setting. As pointed out, generic campaign settings tend towards, well, being bland and generic. I'd much rather have something that engages the imagination, then have to do a bit of thought on how to fit it in (perhaps have a sidebar somewhere that talks about how to integrate it into most campaign settings?)

I will also note that I tend to buy a fair bit more adventures than I ever have a chance to use, mostly to mine for ideas. In that case, something that is fun to read is liable to make me think that it's money well spent even if I don't use it.

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Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
Dreikaiserbund wrote:
What would be useful, thus, are high-level adventures that I can basically just slip into a session or a half-session, possibly as a break from the main plot for whatever reason. Things which are an appropriate challenge for level 12+ adventurers, but which don't require me to upend the campaign.
Something like finding a treasure map, only to discover once you are inside that a dragon has taken up residence inside, yes?

Precisely! Or there's a mohrg with class levels taking up some serial killing in the PCs' city, or a small but potent demonic cult, etc.

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I will say that as a GM I've often had monsters take advantage of Vital Strike for pretty much the same reasons mentioned above -- it lets them move and attack much more effectively.

It also combos very nicely with Flyby Attack.

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Shisumo wrote:
True, but you also have to reckon with the question of how many touch-range spells are there on the oracle list you really want to hit people with? Even allowing for getting all the inflict spells for free, it feels like an iffy use of a revelation to me... and if you do decide you want to punch someone with a spell, then you can use the held charge rules to do it.

The Inflict Spells are 'meh', but oracles can grab Bestow Curse, which is pretty badass, and later on there's the lovely Harm. Force Punch is far from bad as well. I feel like you guys are under-valuing the Spellstrike ability a bit -- I'll note that both melee brute clerics and bad-touch clerics are very reliable builds, and spellstrike lets you combine the two.

Looking at the other Revelations...

  • Absence of Body -- Okay, this is pretty useless.
  • Absence of Form -- not bad after level 10. Sure, you can get Air Walk as a spell, but this lets you break it up into little bits, which has utility use. Not a priority Revelation, but if you have a spare feat there are worse things to grab.
  • Ascetic Armor -- Excellent, and stacks with Monk AC boosts
  • Fleet -- Excellent, more speed is always useful
  • Martial Disciple -- Pretty solid if you want to make a melee character
  • Oracular Spellstrike -- See above. Biggest downside is that it comes online pretty late.
  • Rapid Convalescence -- Pretty useless.
  • Spell Deflection -- I feel it's a bit niche (only works against ranged touch attacks), but when it works it's impressive.

I think the way you run an Ascetic Oracle, and I think this would be a pretty powerful character, is you treat it as a kind of melee bruiser -- particularly as a tank. I would strongly suggest a two-level dip into Unchained Monk (Scaled Fist), which nets you two bonus feats, Evasion, and adds your Charisma to your AC. Then pick up Ascetic Armor, Martial Disciple, Oracular Spellstrike, and Spell Deflection as your 1/3/7/11 Revelations, and grab spells like Divine Favor, Divine Power, Blessing of Fervor. Extra Revelation (Fleet) and Quicken Spell are good feat choices alongside the usual martial/monk stuff.

The build will really come online around level 9, I think, once you've got Oracular Spellstrike up and running. You have your Charisma bonus to AC along with a +6 Armor bonus, and you've got Flurry of Blows and Unarmed damage equivalent to a full monk. Spend your first round action on a major buff like Divine Favor or Divine Power, then move in and start hittings things, spellstriking with Bestow Curse and Force Punch.

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#1 for pure nostalgia reasons. These are the trolls of my childhood, wretched things kept killing me in Baldur's Gate.

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Oh sure, wasn't saying otherwise -- my games tend towards the 'Talking is a Free Action' thing, with monologues and philosophical rambling between spells. We just also make fun of particularly verbose examples. :-p

Anyway, in an effort to be more on topic... MORE SPELLS. Cleric in question is a Trickster Domain, which explains the certain bend.

To powers great I now appeal
To curse my foes; their luck I'll steal
And grant my allies purloin'd weal
So bind all to this unfair deal!

Flame Strike
True subtlety still guides my heart,
To smile, to sneak, to creep, to lie.
But power has a hundred arts,
And so with flames I bid thee die.

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Ravingdork wrote:
I REALLY like these! :D

Thank you! You flatter me.

Matthew Downie wrote:
Titans of the Age of Ice, unleash the northern winds! Shatter their eyes, harden their blood, chill their very souls!

I like this. Let's see... taking my old list and expanding with some more spells.

Contagious Flames
Though I hunger I am never sated. Through grass and ground I crawl, devouring all I behold. My blood knows the call, my flesh the craving. Nameless eidolons, thieves of Heaven’s grace, grant me endless flame.

Chain Lightning
Jupiter rises ascendant, and dwells in the house of the Archer. To your base forms I assign the crown, the blade, the throne, the eagle... and chain them with the thunderbolt!

Cloudkill + Quickened Black Tentacles
Hearken to me, you whispering and creeping things that dwell behind the glass! Listen outcast ones, banished ones, forgotten horrors scrabbling at the roots of creation! Open your hands! Send forth your breath!

Caustic Eruption
Porphatys, curse of traitors, eternal mire. By my lost blood I call on you. Contracts were made, debts incurred. My will is paramount, here and forever. Drown the world in your tears.

Space is an illusion. Distance is a lie. By my will, I am where I am, and where I wish is where I shall now be!

Cone of Cold
Let the cold wind shatter their eyes, let the ice wind harden their blood, let the dark wind blacken their limbs. Hoary Jötnar of bygone ages, send forth the Fimbul-Wind!

Disintegrate (yay Visionaries!)
By nature's hand, by craft, by art, What once was one now fly apart!

Ice Crystal Teleport
Agathys! Tarterian Prison, inescapable, eternal! Know me as your warden, master of the keys! Grant me thy cold, that I might send this fool to your lightless abyss!

Hungry Pit
Writhing worms that gnaw at the roots of the tree of life, hear my words! I shatter the mirror, I lift the veil, I open the door to your hunger!

Battering Blast
As the Bull speaks to the Fly, as the Lion speaks to the Jackal, so I say to you -- Begone!

Quickened Disruptive Magic Missile
Imps of the Perverse, fly!

Quickened Hydraulic Push
Ceto, open your gate!

Nitro~Nina wrote:
I think we could do with seeing how they differ from class to class.

I more do it differently from character to character -- the above are all for one mage. I've also got incantations I'm assembling for another character, I'll put them up once they are less... drab.

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