Erick Wilson's page

RPG Superstar 7 Season Dedicated Voter, 8 Season Star Voter, 9 Season Star Voter. Organized Play Member. 781 posts (782 including aliases). 7 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 20 Organized Play characters.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Doomed Hero wrote:

The issue with Archon Style is that you have to be adjacent to both the enemy you're effecting and the ally you're protecting. That's really circumstantial. Not reliable at all.

I'm not seeing that for the latter 2 feats

Yeah, as far as I can tell you only have to be adjacent to your ally to divert an attack.

BigNorseWolf wrote:

ARchon style: oh wow.. that IS bad. Requires more feats than bodyguard, the combat expertise feat tax, AND burns a standard action AND you take an AC penalty .. did I mention it burns your standard action?

Archon Diversion: the move action isn't bad.

Archon justice: swift action, now we're talking. But thats a looong road of bad to get there. The AOOs are sweet though

Indeed, the AOOs are what make it. It looks bad on paper, but my Ki Mystic/Lore Warden/Magus has used it to great effect in PFS.

EDIT: And actually, I just stopped at Archon Diversion since my swift actions are already at a premium with that character, and it still works great. Using it as a move action is enough. I combine it with Vital Strike and Kirin Strike, or sometimes I just take total defense and then sit there deflecting things and giving people AOOs. Also, Lore Warden meant I picked up Expertise anyway, and meanwhile it's good for my Kirin Style.

It seems to have a bad rep, which I suppose is why no one's mentioned it, but I personally get a lot of mileage out of the Archon Style tree. It's difficult to use but if you can swing it, it's the best aggro resource available in my opinion.

There's also the excellent spell compel hostility, but it can be difficult to use effectively as well.

Herolab is a fantastic resource that is capable of handling extremely complex builds very well indeed, contrary to some of the opinions being offered here. Yes, you have to learn how to use it. Yes, it sometimes requires tweaking. Yes, it makes (relatively few, actually) mistakes. But used properly it is invaluable and is likely to produce far fewer mistakes, in most cases, than freehand pen and paper. To be honest, considering the complexity of PF at this point, I think it's practically a crime that Paizo doesn't endorse HL (or offer some similar service) and include a download of it with every Core Rulebook. I wouldn't even play without it as this point.

blackbloodtroll wrote:
Like how feats increase DCs and damage of spells?

Feats really shouldn't do this, either. It causes all sorts of havoc. Basically, any feat that gives a static bonus is boring (and likely prone to be unbalancing) and probably ought to be built into the system somewhere else.

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Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Erick Wilson wrote:

The bottom line is that the CR system needs an update. It was designed to provide balance to sub-optimal characters in the first place, and that was before power creep. It just has not kept up.

I disagree.

CR should be balanced around sub-optimal characters. Otherwise people new to the system will become frustrated when their (obviously to veterans sub-optimal) character can't take things on. The new GM doesn't know that since they're all new, he needs to make encounters easier.

On the other hand - if the whole group are veterans who enjoy making more potent characters - then the GM can, rather easily, ramp up encounters with tougher and/or more numerous foes without much trouble.

Yes, as long as they're willing to do that. But many GMs and players, like Malag, feel it's "unfair" to go outside of CR, and then you have a problem.

I didn't say CR should be set at the level of veteran, optimized characters, and I don't think that. I think CR needs to be more flexible in some way. Currently it's tied to level, and this in some ways makes no sense, since level in PF is actually not a very good indication of character power, since as I said you can have one X level character that is like 5 times better than another character of the same level.

Jiggy wrote:


So the thing he LIKES about 5E is that there's just one fighter, and the thing he DISLIKES about Pathfinder is that (due to a small list of viable feats) there's just one fighter?


Sure, this thinking is entirely sound. His contention is that in both games there is only one fighter, but one of those games lies to you, gives the illusion of having more than one fighter, and makes you waste your time. And he doesn't like that.

Mark Hoover wrote:

Sorry, I didn't mean to drop a thread grenade and walk away. I had company come by and then got caught up with kid stuff too. Anyway, one of the reasons this debate about feats came up was because this new player and I were discussing what we liked about 3e/PF versus 1 and 2e as well as the new 5e D&D.

The new player's contention was that 1e/5e was awesome because you just pick "Fighter" and you get a set package that includes the best of EVERYTHING that has to do with being a fighter; you don't NEED to customize because you're already the best at what you're supposed to do.

My reason for liking PF was that my fighter can be the best at: grappling, ranged, melee, dueling, tanking or a dozen other niches but still positively contribute to other areas of combat. I can BUILD my character for either as specific or as general a role as I'd like and unless I'm doing a terrible job I can build to be very effective.

You're both right, it's just a matter of how much it bothers you that inter-party balance can be drastically skewed the way it can in PF. You can have one 8th level character in the party that is like 15% as effective as the other 8th level character, by any metric. That's a design problem, and it simply doesn't exist in 5E. Thus the prep time is lower, the potential for arguments is lower, etc, etc, and it still gives you a decent amount of customization.

5E gives you the best balance I've seen thus far between character customization and game balance. It's really very masterfully designed in that regard. But that tension between those two elements is always going to be there; you always have to sacrifice one for the other. I understand wanting more customization in your game, but it comes with the territory that you're going to have to deal with players and arguments like the one at issue here. There's no way around it, so you may as well go in with your eyes open, take the fleas with the dog, and just don't let it become personal.

Jiggy wrote:
Malag wrote:
I kind of more expected from my PC's to do such things as exploration, scouting and finding allies, but they still use the old tactic of "buff up and kick the door". I guess the problem was that I never completely teached them not to use it, but then again, putting up a double higher CR encounter constantly seems unfair also so I am not sure how to approach that area.

This is a bit of a derail, but if you want to discourage the practice of always defaulting to "buff up and kick down the door", you're probably better served not by an unreasonably tough fight, but an empty room. When the PCs throw up half a dozen buffs only to spend a good chunk of the durations trying in vain to find (non-existent) secrets in the lavatory, they might think twice about other unknown rooms as well.

When scouting becomes a means of not wasting their buffs, they'll probably start doing it.

While you're not wrong, this kind of thing only goes so far. If your PCs are optimized enough then at some point you have to go well outside of CR, as Malag says, in order to challenge them. It's not unfair to do this, because the game is just plain boring if you don't do it. One truly optimized character can solo most PFS scenarios.

The bottom line is that the CR system needs an update. It was designed to provide balance to sub-optimal characters in the first place, and that was before power creep. It just has not kept up.

Charon's Little Helper wrote:

I'll go through the A's though.

Bad feats
Pinpoint Poisoner
Archon Style x3

I don't mean to piss on your bonfire, since I basically agree with both you and Jiggy, but I go out of my way to make decent builds out of the things nobody else uses, and I can tell you that I have a kickass Archon Style build and a kickass Pinpoint Poisoner build. Are they "optimal?" Well, relative to what?

The point is, they do great in PFS games, to the point that I'm constantly pushing for more hard modes and more difficulty in general. Measured against the standard of CR, even some of the "bad" feats can do quite well.

The real problems here are that: 1- the CR standard of difficulty is absurdly low when placed against even modestly optimized builds, and 2- the game allows characters of the same level to be wildly, vastly far apart from each other in terms of power and effectiveness.

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Congratulations :) Well played!

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Harp Rose wrote:

But on a side note, it is SUPER disrespectful to post about one author on another authors page. Especially when you pretend to do it out of some bizarre notion of "fairness."

I'm not sure what's bizarre about the notion of fairness, and I must confess that at times the etiquette (and for that matter the purpose) of these threads in superstar eludes me. In any event, it was never my intent to disrespect Nick, and I called Paizo and had the post removed.

Unfortunately, this has also had the result of deleting the good things I said about this mod, so I'll just repeat them here: this entry is extremely polished and well written. If developed well, this mod is going to be a blast with some very cool God of War style set pieces. And if its first chapter actually manages to pull off being a genuine sandbox style game of exploring sunken Hyrantum, that could really be a home run.

That said, I have some reservations about it that I've already detailed which make it my second choice. But it was a photo finish ;)

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Wolf Spirit wrote:

First off, I thought posting this here was really uncool. You want to support or criticize an entry that's fine, but keep the thread about the entry itself. The Spires thread is not the place to be drumming up votes for Starpearl Tower, in my opinion; put that on the Starpearl thread.

So, the more I thought about these two entries, the more inseparable my critiques of them became, until finally I just decided to write one critique that was equally about both, and put it in both locations. And yes, I picked a side, but that's what we're all doing here. It didn't feel to me like I was crossing an etiquette boundary when I posted it in the way I did, and I apologize to Nick if I miscalculated there. It wasn't my intention. I'll ask Chris to delete that post on this page, since I can't do it now.

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RJGrady wrote:
I tend to imagine that most paladins who fall and become evil, psychotic villains do not successfully repent; those that do, I would imagine to have something exceptional about them. Someone who has come back from the dark should be really, really formidable. The hag ought to be more afraid of him, I think. This is a guy who could probably coup de grace her with a coffee mug. But maybe I'm over-thinking this, maybe he really just has a thing for hags, which conflicts with his alignment and drives all of this.

No, I think you're spot on. It feels like that's exactly what she's going for. Heveril here is like Russel Crowe from The Quick and the Dead. The hag can't kill him (and anyway doesn't want to since he was a fun evil lover), but just maybe she can break him for good by corrupting his daughter and turn him back to evil. Then you've got a hag/anti-paladin Bonnie and Clyde team from Hell terrorizing the Sodden Lands.

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Mark Griffin wrote:
Erick Wilson wrote:
Maybe because of their badass paladin guardian Father Heveril, whose will the hag queen now seems to be trying to break by corrupting his daughter? You point that out as incoherent, whereas it seems to me to tie together nicely.

A level 4 NPC fallen Paladin is probably CR 2? I'm not sure that's bad ass enough. Either way it was a minor point, and the problem would be easily solved by moving the caves.

Did they print stats on Heveril somewhere? His level isn't given in the Inner Sea Guide entry about Jula. Why must he be level 4?

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This next post I'm putting both here and under Storm Veiled Spires, for reasons which will momentarily become obvious:

With all due respect to Chris Wasko, I don't think Beneath the Storm-Veiled Spires is quite the slam dunk he thinks it is. That said, and with all due respect as well to the other fine contestants, from where I'm standing this is a two horse race: It's Storm Veiled Spires vs. The Starpearl Tower. Both are strong entries. Nick Wasko is a muscular writer with a lot of good ideas, and his presentation was clearly the most polished. That said, I still think Starpearl Tower is the winner here, and I'll tell you why.

In many ways, these two entries are like diametric opposites. They use a lot of the same villains and environments, but where Storm-Veiled Spires is hard, loud, raucous and in your face, Starpearl is soft, quiet, elegant and enigmatic. This is not a critique of either of them; these are matters of taste. Comparing the two is like asking whether Fury Road is a better action movie than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. They're simply trying to do different things. For instance, it's my habit to prep a lot of music as a GM, and If I'm running Storm-Veiled I see myself prepping a lot of this kind of thing. For Starpearl, it's a lot more of this. But, de gustibus non est disputandum.

The point is, I think you have to consider the best and worst case scenarios here. Either one of these could be a wreck if developed poorly. Storm-Veiled Spires would be a chaotic and arbitrary-seeming mess culminating in a "cinematic" boss fight that feels forced and/or falls flat completely. Starpearl would be a plodding cakewalk through trivial (if pretty) environments. Fine, either one could go wrong. Personally I'd rather be mildly bored by a bad Starpearl than confused and frustrated by a bad Storm-Veiled, but that's neither here nor there because what we really need to consider are the best case scenarios.

Storm Veiled Spires could be an action packed, exciting, fun game that approximated an experience like God of War or Skyrim. But at the end of the day, as much fun as you've had, I think it winds up being a forgettable pastiche, an entertaining summer blockbuster. Empty calories. But Starpearl might just be downright poignant. The best case scenario there? Neil already said it best: "For old school gamers, The Starpearl Tower could become as iconic as The Ghost Tower of Inverness if you play your cards right." Read that again if it hasn't quite hit you what a significant thing that is for a judge to say. Ghost Tower of Inverness was rated by Dungeon Magazine as one of the top 30 adventures of all time. Forgive the hyperbole in this next bit, but even if I'm wrong about its limitations, a well developed Storm-Veiled Spires has the potential to be a full on Skyrim type of experience. But a well developed Starpearl Tower? Man, you might just get the Legend of Zelda. In other words, The Starpearl Tower is the only entry this year that might, just might, have the potential to be an honest to goodness classic. Let's give it the chance.

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This is a great entry, but I think it has some big problems that could be easy to miss due its polished presentation.

1. It's really arbitrary. There's nothing in the books about a witch coven ruling over Hyrantum, and if you think about it they'd have to be pretty embedded there with spies and enforcers in order to justify a "suspicion mechanic" of the sort we had in By Way of Bloodcove (or, for old schoolers, City of Skulls). It just doesn't make sense here and it basically changes the fundamental nature of an established Golarion location. Like, he shouldn't have written this mod in this way unless the Inner Sea Guide section on Hyrantum began: "Ruled over by a trio of despotic hags, this ruined city is where..."

2. It's that most frustrating of things: a railroad that pretends to be a sandbox. I mean, yes, you have the option of gathering resources to kill the thunderbird in whatever order you want, but you still have to go around gathering resources to kill the thunderbird. As a player, I can see myself sitting there listening to the Hyrantum locals going "Okay, we have a plan: at these three locations we believe you may be able to find components to build siege weapons and thunder rods to kill the thunderbird..." And I'm immediately thinking "Why do we need to kill the thundbird? It wasn't causing trouble before the hags came. The hags are making all the problems, so let's just go take them out. I don't think the thunderbird can follow us into their fortress. If necessary, we surveil them and then take them out one by one..." etc. The point is, the mod pretty clearly isn't going to allow for me trying these kinds of things. It's a "sandbox" only in the sense that I get to somewhat pick the order in which I get to act out its very carefully scripted encounters (the big thunderbird battle being the obvious example). It doesn't have the courage of its convictions to go genuinely old school and be a real, Dwellers of the Forbidden City style sandbox. That style of adventure in Hyrantum I would vote for. But don't be fooled: this is not that.

3. Your milage may vary, but by 7th level, a lot of parties can just take on the CR 11 thunderbird straight up, especially if there are more than 4 party members. The big set piece combat that seems to be this adventure's raison d'etre could easily fall apart completely. Plus, it just kind of seems like he had this big thunderbird battle in mind and then wrote a whole mod to make it happen.

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Mark Griffin wrote:

Bandits in the Sodden Lands are probably Sodden Scavangers, I wish you had called them such

Yeah, I assume that's who she meant too. Should have name dropped that.

Mark Griffin wrote:

Wow, even more monsters in this cave below a tiny settlement, how has Jula not been overrun?

Maybe because of their badass paladin guardian Father Heveril, whose will the hag queen now seems to be trying to break by corrupting his daughter? You point that out as incoherent, whereas it seems to me to tie together nicely.

Mark Griffin wrote:

Contemplatives, sweet! My module proposal actually have a rogue group of these guys serving as villains! But why are they in this hag’s tower? Just throwing in a couple aliens from another planet as a throwaway encounter seems wasteful.

They seem to be caretaking this ancient center of Lirgen astronomical knowledge, no? Seems like a perfect fit to me, not a "throw away" at all. Perhaps they once helped the Lirgen astronomers here study the stars they hailed from?

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Jacob W. Michaels wrote:

Well, my item's listed first, so I'm going to assume I'm No. 37. :p

I know, I know; it's alphabetical...

Oh, you were the anathema brand? I upvoted you many times, my friend ;)

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Ah, to make the top one hundred for the first time in the first year that the judges didn't look at the top one hundred... Hey, it's cool. I guess this means I'm improving. Thanks for releasing this list, Owen. And for, you know, this contest in general. Congratulations to everyone that made it this far.

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Trekkie90909 wrote:
A good catch -- since he provided a link to the PRD fossegrim entry I think it's safe to assume that the mage hand line is an overlook along the same lines as the minor formatting error.

I think you're right about the PRD. I think we can safely assume that he wasn't using the winter fey material from Shackled Hut, and that's good.

If it was just a mistake though, as in he really thought that fossegrims had mage hand, I think it's a much more significant one than leaving out the word "variant." He's accidentally added a spell-like ability to a monster ex nihilo. In a contest like this, that does not look good.

If it was done on purpose, I'm less sure how to feel about it. In that case, it seems less incompetent but it's troubling in other ways. For one, it seems arbitrary to the point of whimsy (since, again, why would being an arctic creature give something mage hand?)- again not a good attitude to design with in this kind of contest. It also seems reckless. He must have known that it constituted, at the very least, a...let's say "unorthodox" interpretation of the "variant monster" clause. Taking risks is good. That kind of intentional manipulation of the contest guidelines is probably not. As you said, he's unable to come on and explain, but again the alternative is the pretty significant incompetence of just somehow thinking the monster had a power it doesn't have.

As a GM, this kind of thing concerns me. In the playtest I ran, one of the more scrupulous PCs ignored a lot of other tactical concerns (like his own safety) in the interest of saving the captive. He saved her, but got killed in the process by the redcap. I even said to the players "wow, that's the most effective use of mage hand I've ever seen," when the thought hit me that it was odd that fossegrims even have mage hand. That's when I looked more closely, and sure enough they don't. Imagine the ire of a player in a PFS game if the same thing happened to them and then they discovered that the monster that dropped the cage in the water wasn't even supposed to have the spell that let them do it. That's potentially one angry player you've got on your hands.

I didn't want to make assumptions, so I was waiting to see if someone could explain what was going on here. Since there seems to be no clear explanation though, I'm going to have to definitely take a pass on this entry based on this issue. There were other things, and I'll post the playtest report after I go do the reports on the other entries, but this issue seals the deal. Not a keeper for me.

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John Compton wrote:
In this case the arctic variant seems to just involve adding resist cold 10.

What about the mage hand? Are we assuming that's part of the arctic variant he's created? How would we know that? And does that also mean, as a matter of precedent, that it's kosher to add spell-like abilities to variant monsters as long as the author does not deem that doing so would increase the creature's CR? And is that supposed to be indicated in any way?

Basically, I'm just not sure how to accurately evaluate what he's done there. It seems like it could be anywhere from a minor formatting error (not indicating "variant" in the stat block) to -if it's supposed to be a "winter fey" as per Shackled Hut- use of material outside the PRD (not sure how verboten that is) to just, I don't know, confusing and arguably exploitative use of the "variant monster" clause from the contest rules (because I don't see why being an arctic variant would give something mage hand, and because it wasn't indicated in any way that that's what was going on).

Granted, it's a 0 level spell, but its use in the encounter is highly tactically significant. If the monster had the spell in question then I would say kudos for making hay with it. But the monster doesn't have it; he just added it, so...I'm just a bit lost about how to regard this.

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Okay, I've now playtested this (and several other round 4 encounters) and I've somewhat revised my opinion about it, but before I go into any of that, I have to lead with the most confusing thing that came up for me while running this.

What is the arctic template (as in "arctic fossegrims")? There's a 3rd party one on pfsrd, but it seems to work differently and I'm assuming that's not what the author is using. Is there an official Paizo one somewhere? Is it the author's creation? In either case, does it give things mage hand? Was there an errata to fossegrims giving them mage hand? They don't seem to have it in the Bestiary, but they use it in the encounter. Someone help? Am I missing something?

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I'll grant that the Irrisen soul market is a pretty cool set up, and personally I even liked the much maligned insertion of the night hag that doesn't do much. I also like the trap. But then we come to...

The fossegrims: I personally think the insertion of these creatures was a huge misstep on many levels. First, good names or not, nothing about the description of these creatures in the Bestiary makes me think they are the sort of beings that can be hired (in pairs, no less, being solitary) for something so mundane as guard duty. I love the fossegrim, but its use in this way actually makes it seem banal and demystified. Not cool.

Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, as JC points out the way this is set up makes it entirely likely the whole thing will be triggered as two separate encounters, each basically a CR 6. For even a 7th level party, this is likely to be trivial. Also, it's one of those annoying encounters that is actually made more difficult if the PCs try to accomplish it with stealth and finesse (since they run the risk of triggering the fossegrims and trap first, and drawing out the redcap), than if they just kick down the door and start killing (in which case they murder the redcap and forlarren as barely a speedbump, then do the same to the fossegrims, then finally trigger the trap which at that point is irrelevant since nothing is fighting them anymore and they can deal with it at their leisure).

You could say that my main criteria for judging an encounter is how meticulously the author has visualized the way (or ways) that encounter is likely to play out, and on that level I have to reluctantly call this one a fail. Although there are some nice ideas here, at this stage of the contest it's all about execution, and I think in practice this encounter is going to fall flat 9 times out of 10.

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1. In the Land of Time and Other Tales by Lord Dunsany

2. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

3. The Well-Built City by Jeffrey Ford

Ford is a highly underrated fantasist. Check out "The Manticore Spell" for starters: https://books.google.com/books?id=tv0oEKjewxcC&pg=PT367&lpg=PT367&a mp;dq=jeffrey+ford+the+manticore&source=bl&ots=FYseRpYaJE&sig=R lY-Vm-NTaPaIeq_lOCqaJVCAc0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CEcQ6AEwB2oVChMIg-ey ydvUxwIVihg-Ch2SVQvN#v=onepage&q=jeffrey%20ford%20the%20manticore&f =false

Gene Wolfe is probably the greatest living fantasist, but don't take my word for it. Quoth Neil Gaiman: "He's the finest living male American writer of SF and fantasy – possibly the finest living American writer. Most people haven't heard of him."

Lord Dunsany is probably the greatest fantasist of all time, and he is arguably the most influential. The very term "fantasy literature" was coined in reference to his work. He basically invented this thing that we love. Now he is all but forgotten.

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Yes, definitely thanks for the update. I'm just wondering if you mean you'll post the winners whenever things are sorted, or if you're officially rescheduling the announcement to tomorrow. If it's the latter I'll save your server the effort of processing my obsessive checkups all day. :)

Edit: Ninja'd! thanks Owen

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Does "back on track tomorrow" mean winners aren't being announced until tomorrow? Do we know what time?

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Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
I have to say I have no idea what items will appear, because some of the most amazingly pedestrian (and indeed a few entirely questionable) items seemed to have survived whereas other, way more (or even extremely) interesting items did not. I'm not seein an increase in excellence or a tight competition - I'm seeing the results of letting a section of the fans crucify a lot of creativity on the pillar of hum-drum. Which is how democracy works. Bring back enlightened despotism.

I don't totally disagree. A few things made it through that unquestionably should have been culled, while a few items with promise were inexplicably culled early. Still, I think you're overstating the case. Most of the really quality stuff is still in the running, while most of the chaff was eliminated.

And I have to say, I absolutely love the rolling culls and the opportunity they gave us to track how well individual items were doing. I think they were a great improvement to the process.

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Papasteve08 wrote:

Just keep in mind that the winner of this contest writes a module - Would you prefer your new author to have rich, innovative ideas with cool themes? or one who can nail the mechanics?

Editors can help with mechanics. Give me the good writer anyday. My preference is to vote for the good idea, execution being far less important (but not something to ignore)

Totally disagree. To be honest, the idea behind a module is not that important, much like the plot of a kung fu movie is not that important. It just needs to be strong enough to do its job and enable adventuring.

A workmanlike module with well constructed encounters, wherein the writer has clearly visualized how things are going to play out pragmatically, is very much preferable to some high concept mess with neat ideas but boring/easy encounters and/or baffling mechanics. In my opinion, Paizo currently has far too many of the latter type of mod, due to the predominance of opinions like the one papasteve just related.

Edit: I submit, as examples of what I am talking about, Quest for Perfection Part I (which I thought was excellent) vs. Quest for Perfection Part III (a high concept mess where the mechanics hadn't been tightened up enough).

Edit 2: In other words, when in doubt I favor solid mechanics in an item over a vivid idea. The solid mechanical item would have to be very humdrum, and the poorly designed item extremely evocative, for me to go the other way.

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chaoseffect wrote:

The list has a check box to confirm sightings for each item after the culls. So yeah, it's a work in progress.

Oh, I see how it works now, thanks. Man, checking that thing is going to be a nailbiter this year! But it's cool that you'll be able to track how far you made it.

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I'm confused. If the list started before any of the culls, and they're doing a bunch of smaller culls this year, won't you have to start a new list after each cull? Otherwise how can you identify which items aren't there anymore?

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Bill Dunn wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:

TL;DR: "A good DM can fix this mess" is not a reason for people to pay $50 for a rulebook.

It isn't a reason not to buy one either. You have to approach the game like you do Champions. It's a very broad game in the things it includes, but the GM is encouraged to make it work for his group and his style of running the game. Far too many people take the assumption that if it's in the game it has to work for everybody and everybody's style. That is not true and never has been in any form of D&D.

There are three major flaws with your argument.

1. Champions/Hero System has a portion of the rule book that explains its philosophy towards game balance. In this section it says explicitly that the system can easily be broken, explains how to do so, explains why not to do so, and gives guidelines rather than hard rules on how to determine if the character you've designed is reasonable. Pathfinder allows for similar excesses, but has no equivalent section explaining its philosophy.

2. Champions/HS does not have nearly as extensive an organized play setup, and if it did I feel certain it would approach organized play rather differently than PFS does.

3. If you're talking about aesthetic preferences then I would agree with you that not every game will be for everyone. Hero System, again, markets itself as a generic system so that there is an assumption that GMs will be determining allowed aesthetic elements within each campaign. Pathfinder and D&D need to stop positioning themselves as the "big tent" game system for all lovers of fantasy, and start making design and marketing decisions that actually plant a flag in some aesthetic soil. 5E has actually done this to a degree. Pathfinder is still all over the place, and refuses to take responsibility for their own schizophrenia. They do not seem sensitive to the obvious argument that the simulation of certain fantasy genres requires one to leave out numerous game elements that PF includes and even emphasizes. You could even make the argument that something as fundamental as wizards as PCs violates the inherent aesthetic laws of the Sword and Sorcery genre. Since D&D was initially conceptualized as a Sword and Sorcery engine, this is a rather serious critique that I don't think anyone has fully dealt with to this day.

Yes, you are free to spend your money on whatever you want. But your subjective experience of enjoying the book does not mean that the money was, in any objective sense, "well spent."

I like this list a lot, especially #1, #2, #4 and #5. People use those arguments here all the time, and incessantly countering them is tiring.

I think #3 and #6 are perhaps a bit overstated, or anyway prone to misinterpretation.

#3- Stormwind Fallacy only says that rollplaying and roleplaying are not mutually exclusive. While this is true, it does not mean that the two do not have a potentially hostile relationship to one another, and that's an important thing to bear in mind. There are ways in which poorly designed mechanics can incentivize or at least enable poor role-playing.

#6- People making the aesthetic complaint do actually have a point. D&D/Pathfinder is unclear about what aesthetic tradition it is attempting to simulate, but tries to position itself as a sort of "big tent" for lovers of all fantasy. This creates inherent tension between enthusiasts of different fantasy sub-genres that often bear little resemblance to one another. Actually, 5E has gone a long way towards resolving these tensions, but in PF they are still acute.

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Soilent wrote:

I really don't care that people think wizards are obscenely overpowered. Because a GM should always be able to challenge a PC, regardless of how broken the community thinks that class may be.

As a DM, I'd like to be able to be free to turn more of my attention towards world-building and running the game, and spend a lot less of it working against the rules just to get the game to work.

If you're a good enough DM to do all of the latter and still get some of the former in, just think of how awesome the game would be if you could focus solely on the former? It nearly boggles the mind.

TL;DR: "A good DM can fix this mess" is not a reason for people to pay $50 for a rulebook.

Replying my support because I'm not allowed to favorite this multiple times. In other words, +1

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I really wish we didn't even have to have discussions like this. "Samurai" is just the name that happens to have been given to that particular grouping of game statistics. Reskinning/reflavoring is an important if not essential aspect of playing RPGs. It's a major part of what makes the hobby creative and enjoyable. When I actually have to walk my GM through the very concept of reskinning just to initiate the conversation about my character concept, I feel like I'm back in 1989.

So, Charisma equals physical attractiveness, eh? Let's see what the officially endorsed art in the NPC Codex has to say about that.

Apparently, a Charisma score of 8 looks like...
1. Graceful Slayer, pg. 22
2. Shadow Cleric, pg. 59
3. Scheming Fencer, pg. 86
4. Fiendslayer, pg. 136
5. Undead Slayer, pg. 139
6. Death Initiate, pg. 209

Yep, those all look real ugly to me. Now let's look at some average looking people (Charisma 10-12)...

1. Death Priest, pg. 50
2. Mistress of High Places, pg. 70
3. Poisonous Performer, pg. 102
4. Seductive Enchanter, pg. 183
5. Cultist, pg. 249

If these people represent average beauty, I can only assume the Paizo artists and writers were born and raised in, and have never left, the Viper Room.

On the other hand, their idea of Charisma 14 makes me think they frequent a different kind of club...

1. Priest of Oblivion, pg. 60

"Charisma determines a character's physical beauty" doesn't seem so certain anymore, does it?


Huh, I didn't know that word would get censored...


Walter, nevermind the b*$$~+$s. I like your idea and your extrapolations on your idea. The only detail I'd add would be the option to buy bigger chunks of subscription time at a reduced price.


This list is reposted from another thread at the suggestion of the OP here. I'd like to see more boons like the following:

1. Races- Race boons would be more common, but each race boon would allow a wide number of race choices, and PFS would stop allowing non-core races altogether, except via boons. Thus the approximate number of weird races could be controlled, and you wouldn't get the phenomenon of an inexplicable influx of X race each season.

2. Companions and Familiars- More boons allowing the selection of cool familiars and animal companions, like the faerie dragon, owlbear, hippogriff etc.

3. "Cameo Characters"- These boons would allow the creation of a level (randomly generated from 4-11) character that would not earn XP or level up, but which could be played (randomly generated from 1-6) times before being permanently retired. This would let players play around with interesting character and build concepts that they like, but which they might not be interested in committing a lot of time to.

4. NPC Codex Pregens- These boons would allow the player to use a specific character from the NPC codex in place of the usual pregens of a specific level. For instance, you might receive a boon that allowed you to play Meliski Traundor the Gambler (pg. 30) anytime you would normally have the option of using a level 7 pregen.


Sebastian Hirsch wrote:

Even creating a makeshift "spellbook" filled with bits and peaces from copied pages might be an idea. (I pretty much to this with herolab when I...

Keep in mind that HeroLab is not a legal source for PFS. That's the real cherry on top! Someone like me, who is a big fan of both hardcopy and HeroLab, effectively has to buy everything three times in order to use it in PFS. That's just too much.


Dorothy Lindman wrote:

For me, the main issue is that if the players are not required to bring the resources, the GMs will have to. You can't assume you will always have access to the PRD/SRD/AoN. (We have some locations in our area where WiFi is not available and at certain conventions, even a cell phone signal is dicey at best.)

Someone at the table needs to have a copy of the resource to look up the rules. Should this be the player who built their character off of those rules and is benefitting from them? Or should it be the volunteer GM who has already shelled out money for the scenario and invested their time in prepping it?

This is 2015. I think venues without wifi or a reliable cell signal represent a corner case, at best. And even if we're going to include those in the discussion, the rule could still be that you need to present the source material only in the event that you don't have access to the pfsrd.

I still think Walter's idea about a more comprehensive and vigilantly updated official Paizo SRD that PFS players could access via a subscription fee is probably the best one though.


pH unbalanced wrote:
One of the things that I do is put each of my PFS characters in their own manila folder, and the first sheet in the manila folder is a list of the sources used by that character. That gives me a quick pick list of what I need to bring. Even at a convention I'm not going to be playing more than three characters before making a trip back to my room, so that helps me really cut down on what I need to carry -- it's made a huge difference in the six months since I went to this method.

That is a good idea, but honestly you shouldn't be having to do things like this in order to play a game during your free time. The fact that you felt the need even to come up with a system like that to address the problem speaks to the point I'm making, I think.


Sebastian Hirsch wrote:

Without really looking at the merits of your boons (those are very much a separate issue, this would only really help those who like physical books. For those who buy PDFs nothing changes.

Well, no, these boons are supposed to come with pdf purchases too.

As for the boons, what do you think of them? We can discuss that too, separately from their distribution method.

Also, I'd be happy with the VO book signing/certificate distributing idea you proposed too. I think there are a lot of potential solutions like this that aren't really being considered enough.


Walter Sheppard wrote:

Another thing to consider when discussing this is that while various srd sites may have accurate information about feats and options, they also have the possibility of being innaccurate by the same virtue that also makes them accessible-they're fan made and fan run.

As a GM, I'd rather have obscure resources presented to me from Paizo product, because I can easily verify their authenticity. And if you've ever run several high tier tables at a convention, you're going to encounter strange new rules. Aside from that, I am always dubious whenever someone's only resources are from d20pfsrd. I've also noticed that newer players assume 3PP content is OK for PFS when they rely solely on that website.

Those would be my primary concerns as a GM. Now if the Paizo PRD included all their obscure source material... That would be another thing. Perhaps offer a "members only" PRD that subscribers get access to for free? Or charge an annual fee to access? No reason that couldn't be allowed as an additional resource IMO.

You make some good points here, and I do share some of your concerns. I like your "members only" subscription idea a lot, and have proposed something similar in the past.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

The bigger your geek back, the less likely you are to be audited for anything.

Now if only I knew how to stop a donkey from leaving presents for the clean up crew...

I have no idea what this means.




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Paizo needs to sell their products and PFS is supposed to help them do that, largely via the rule that each player has to possess, either on pdf or hardcopy, every book that their characters' draw rules from.

This rule is understandable, but increasingly impractical as the proliferation of books marches on. If you like using pdfs of everything anyway, maybe its fine for you. But if you're someone (like me) who likes having hardcopies, it's annoying having to face the choice of either buying everything twice or else carting around a truly unwieldy pack of books to every game. It's especially frustrating since it is entirely unnecessary: The truth is that at this point the pfsrd site is actually a better resource than the pdfs, since they update based on errata and even thread commentary from devs.

So I say get rid of the "must own/present the books" rule in PFS. Now, "that's all well and good," Paizo may respond, "but then how do we use PFS to sell product?" Well, I have an idea for that, too: Boons.

The way it works is this: Each Paizo product, whether purchased hardcopy or on pdf, will come with a code that can be redeemed in the PFS section of the website. The code will then randomly select three possible boons that the player can choose from. The player chooses his boon and then prints it out. The boon sheet has his PFS number included on it, so he can not simply make a bunch of copies and give them out; the boon only works for one specific character.

The boons available will be stuff people really want. Some ideas:

1. Races- There would be boons allowing players to build characters of various races. PFS would stop allowing non-core races altogether, except via these boons. Thus the approximate number of weird races could be controlled, and you wouldn't get the phenomenon of an inexplicable influx of X race each season. You could even have a few ultra-rare race boons floating around that allowed play as a centaur or an ogre mage or something.

2. Companions and Familiars- There would be boons allowing the selection of cool familiars and animal companions, like the faerie dragon, owlbear, hippogriff etc.

3. "Cameo Characters"- These boons would allow the creation of a level (randomly generated from 4-11) character that would not earn XP or level up, but which could be played (randomly generated from 1-6) times before being permanently retired. This would let players play around with interesting character and build concepts that they like, but which they might not be interested in committing a lot of time to.

4. NPC Codex Pregens- These boons would allow the player to use a specific character from the NPC codex in place of the usual pregens of a specific level. For instance, you might receive a boon that allowed you to play Meliski Traundor the Gambler (pg. 30) anytime you would normally have the option of using a level 7 pregen.

5. Unique/Sentient Magic Items- These boons would make interesting magic items available to the character for purchase.

6. Misc- All kinds of other stuff.

Note that none of these boons actually increase the power of the characters played; they just provide interesting options. Releasing these sorts of options in this way would make them feel special to the players that have them, would make unique-option proliferation more controllable (since the number of X option available could be set by the computer program that gives out boons), and would push product very effectively assuming people were excited about the boons available. Anyway, that's the idea.


pauljathome wrote:

Ask the people that he saved with his channeled revival when he was L7 playing up whether or not that was overkill...

Bottom line, people seem to be quite happy when I bring him to the table, even in the scenarios where his healing turns out to be pretty irrelevant. Having other things to do as well as healing certainly helps with that a lot, admittedly. But people LIKE insurance.

Yeah, I play healers too. I have a dedicated Hedge Witch healer (who will never have slumber) and a dedicated healer Hospitaler/Oath of Charity Paladin. I enjoy playing them too, not least of all because they make people happy, as you correctly note.

But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the math, and the math's been done, and from an optimization standpoint you would have better served your party's encounter success rate by just making something that would take out the monsters faster so you wouldn't need to heal anybody.

What I've been saying is that everyone should play whatever they want, but they should also acknowledge the realities of the system. But a lot of the time people will come and say "I don't know what you're talking about! I play an X and I do just fine thank you very much!" as though that in any way diminishes the point being made by the folks who are running the math and discussing things from an optimization/mathematical standpoint.


I'm not saying her soloing it wasn't impressive. It was. But it doesn't mean that the scenarios were necessarily incredibly easy.

It does. It means that.


pauljathome wrote:

Dedicated healers make a LOT of sense in PFS. They act as insurance. Most of the time the twinked out murder hoboes will end the fight but sometimes the bad guy wins initiative and you need to remove status conditions or just heal. Lots of the time another damage dealer is just redundant overkill.

As to whether the scenarios will be easy in Core definitely remains to be seen. Oh, most probably are if a group of 6 optimized core characters using the better classes shows up. But people ARE going to play rogues and monks etc. And even the better classes have been significantly weakened

I'm not saying it doesn't make sense to put any resources whatever toward in-combat healing. But you approach the point of diminishing returns very rapidly when you do.

And as for the second thing, sure, but my points were about what happens when experienced players play optimized versions of the better classes. A truly optimized Core Wizard needs remarkably little help to shred most scenarios. He probably can't solo them, but just barely.

In non-core, I ran my girlfriend (a smart, experienced player and a good optimizer)a while back through one of the more difficult season four mods with her bard/paladin, just to see what would happen. She soloed it (not without difficulty, but she did it). If that is even possible, then obviously we can work backwards and we see where we stand.

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