Landon Winkler wrote:
One thing about D&D's roots in war games that doesn't get mentioned as much is that, up until 3rd Edition in '99, it was assumed in the rules that PCs would get involved in kingdom building and politics around 9th level.
The problem with that assumption is that around 9th level a DnD game starts moving into territory when you no longer need kingdom building or politics, unless the world artificially levels with PC and random grunts forever remain just 3-4 levels behind them. This was already noticeable in OD&D where much of the opponents still threatening to you were straight-up immune to any number of 0-level mooks with non-magical weapons, and since 3.0 it is also became relatively easy to push opponents enough levels below yours off RNG, so that king's men cannot even hit a big bad monster to find that in practice there is not much difference between total immunity and damage reduction which can only be theoretically penetrated on one attack out of 400.
There are two actual conceptual problem with high-level play.
The first is that the power available without breaking the system and consequently negating 90+% of written adversaries and obstacles forever is far short of the mark set by basically any given high fantasy source of inspiration. It was already true in 3.5, although flexibility mitigated lack of sheer power to an extent, and every iteration since reduced or attempted to reduce powerlevels further. Not only that you can't properly stat BBEGs, I can easily name a good bunch of fantasy MCs without even touching anime, games, xianxia or whatever who are just too strong to be reflected by the current DnD mechanics without trying to squeeze a comparable amount of power juice from blatant exploits.
The second is that both available powers and opponents are all over the place and largely do not follow any clear, intuitive progression. You can equally easily meet a monster who is a big brute with a big stick at 3rd and 13th level, except in the latter case he will be somewhat taller and have better numbers. At the same time creatures who are basically immune to grunts without magical weapons forever and kill by touch appear as early as 3rd level. Some 1st-2nd level spells are straight up better than 5+ level spells, and a ton more would have been if not for artificial restrictions. Etc.
The fact of DnD keeping its main feature which makes it worth considering over any number of low-fantasy systems is absolutely not a problem.
Jesikah Morning's Dew wrote:
FFG Star Wars for most part is binary pass/fail, with dice sometimes suggesting that GM should make something up arbitrarily to spice up the things (because having advantages on a no-success stealth check will totally sweeten the fact that you're now in combat with a whole company of of vibroaxe-toting Gamorrean mercs and assassin droids, or something). Only for the combat system and a few of the skills advantages have an actual tangible effect.
Speaking more generally of failing forward, I've yet to see an example of it that did not amount to the GM railroading the party towards a designated outcome by hook or crook. Examples in this thread no exception (except perhaps for those where "failing forward" is entirely indistinguishable from your regular failure). Which strikes me as a way to make the game boring on the either side of GM's screen. Sure, it is a reaction to an actual problem (binary skill checks being irrelevant and de-facto set by GMs to automatic success in certain circumstances, because stopping the adventure due to one failed skill check is not fun), but that problem was not particularly significant to start with. Games where it was prevalent and could not be avoided by either having plenty of methods to bypass the skill system entirely, or stack modifiers to "you succeed 100% unless directly countered by someone more badass" had worse mechanical issues.
It is difficult to make a Law vs. Chaos AP, because Law and Chaos are not meaningfully different in DnD. It is not even Blue vs. Orange difference, Lawful ("honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability") and Chaotic ("freedom, adaptability, and flexibility") traits are not mutually exclusive at all and it is not clear why exactly Lawful and Chaotic entities would ever be in a pitched conflict, unless one or both are also evil.
That's what happens when you mindlessly copy an axis of cosmic forces that were nothing more than an attempt to make stand-ins for Good and Evil while being too pretentious to say that your book is about Good vs. Evil, and place it in the game which already has Good/Evil axis.
While it does make sense logically, it is the same argument of why don't we just kill all the people in the town jails?
No, it is the same argument of why don't we just painlessly euthanize all those people 99.999% of whom are going to be tortured and consumed in the most horrific fashion and the remaining 0.001% will wriggle out of that fate by having enough willingness and ability to horrifically torture their fellow unfortunates. Oh, and none these people would even know WHY they are suffering, because acts that consigned them to such fate were committed by what were effectively different entities - from whom they hatched but whose lives they do not remember.
"But you cannot destroy all Evil souls therefore why even bother?" is literally the same argument as "But you cannot defeat all Evil forever therefore why even bother?"
In Pathfinder cosmology there is no moral downside to destroying souls of creatures that detect as Evil. At worst, and even that is arguable, you're speeding up destruction of the universe - or the net result of your efforts may actually be delaying it by reducing power of fiends. And even if you ARE speeding it up, as the final triumph of darkness, void and eternal oblivion for everyone is inevitable anyway, it is still arguable whether buying the opportunity for more creatures to enjoy existence is worth horrible suffering of creatures already in existence. If some planar powers say that soul destruction is bad without even presenting an argument along these lines, they are either unimaginably vengeful and vindictive, or side with fiends for selfishly pragmatic reasons - whatever differences there are between uppper and lower planes, souls must flow!
The only reason why people argue otherwise seem to be the baggage associated with the word "soul", and that word is a rather poor fit for the cast-off ecloplasm you leave after your death in Pathfinder anyway.
One issue I've seen is that evil characters in modern media tend to be pretty over the top and stupid.
If anything, evil characters in modern, and even not so modern, media are far too subdued, kid-friendly, and, so to speak, intellectual, overburdened with justifications and ideological reasons. Even characters whose entire schtick is being unpredictable insane psychopaths regularly get loaded with pseudophilosophical baggage.
Playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, I was constantly annoyed that the 'dark side' choices were so wasteful.
Well, no s~*&. Egocentrism, power tripping and placing self-serving group loyalties over any univeral notion of fairness tend to have detrimental effects. Why do you think societies full of thugs and selfish bastards tend to be disfunctional and corruption past a certain level can crash civilizations?
Speaking of the main theme of the thread... Over time I grew to increasingly suspect that the main things separating a good campaign from an evil campaign are players' belief that their GM would punish them if they get off the rails or push him out of his comfort zone, and their unwillingness to tolerate discomofort arising from tensions within the party associated with an evil game. I have a bad feeling that if you make an OOC social contract against teamkilling and ensure players that they would not have sudden paladin hit squads dropped on them out of nowhere for doing nasty things, most groups would go pretty far off the deep end within a few sessions. At the very least, goblin chidren would never again pose any sort of dilemma anymore, and treatment of surrendering foes would be based solely on their possible usefulness to the party (though looks may play a role in case of females). Our current pirate campaign seem to be living up to my suspicions so far.
I don't think that a moral compass according to which real heroes can only exist, when the villains conpspire with the author to let them, is something to be proud of.
Let's imagine two variations on the basic situation that was (and is) fairly common in history. Your real hero is in charge of a fortress, besieged by a force outnumbering his own, perhaps not enough to overrun the walls, but enough that challenging it openly in the field can only result in a swift and inglorious defeat. He either sees the civilians who have failed to escape in time chased down and cut to pieces before his gates. Or the enemy brings some hostages, executes one as painfully as they can arrange in clear view of defenders but well beyond a shot range, and threatens to do the same with the rest unless the fortresses surrenders immediately, no negotiations, no nothing that might possibly allows to stall for time and stage a rescue mission. Those are far from purely theoretical, hypothetical situations. And in the world of Pathfinder there are a lot of opponents who will do things like this for s!@@s and giggles, not even because they expect to gain something tactically.
How you expect your Good-aligned characters to stay Good (which has tangible mechanical benefits, of which Evil foes will deliberately seek to strip them) here without suiciding themselves and letting the foes have their way with people they could have protected otherwise?
And yes, yes, I know, GM would be a dick for putting PCs in anything players may possibly perceive as an unwinnable situation that would make them feel bad. Let's consider the world's consistency for a moment, not all good guys have PC aura that lets them to always win.
If you started counting "forever" from late 19th to 20th century. Before that "antihero" was the term for a coward, a blowhard, or an apathetic misfit, people who lacked qualities to actually do anything heroic.
I wonder if I should envy groups in which killing a single innocent family to save many more is a hypothetical question. Given that in my last Pathfinder campaing PCs directly endorsed a bloody purge of priesthood of Asmodeus and functionaries of the ovethrown regime with casualites approximately in six digits, manipulated an army of barbarians into fighting for them in battles which they did not expect those barbarians to survive, turned a blind eye to genocide performed by their NPC ally on the same barbarian tribes afterwards, exiled a hostile group in the direction where it was going to be wiped out... The sad thing was, that party systematically tried to help people without expecting rewards and minimize bloodshed and destruction, even rehabilitated a bunch of villains and monsters. Pathfinderland was just too brutal of a place, and ensuring any sort of lasting safety for their own people without making a lot more people die proved to be impossible.
It is both antithematic (if we count fantasy characters who are inconvenienced by old age and long retirement in any way vs. those who aren't, the count would be overwhelmingly in the favor of the latter group) and nonsensical. Why you are trying to apply RL standards to superpowers that are supposed to make a character about 512 times stronger compared to his baseline level 1 abilities, before even touching mythic and whatever.
Zelda Marie Lupescu wrote:
So, I was just thinking, how many of you see level and age as linked?
They aren't. Level is linked to risking your life.
Zelda Marie Lupescu wrote:
But seeing your underlying assumptions behind the question... Ugh.
If level only matters in the context of the story narrative, how come it can be easily evaluated on the spot by people in the game world, including those who decide whether to hire a party or not? All they have to do is to see how many Magic Missiles you can squeeze out per casting.
That said, absolutely nothing mandates a 40-years character to have levels and nothing prevents her from being Reincarnated by a spell at level 1. Except that the Reincarnated trait has nothing to do with it, and it is unclear why she decides to become adventurer now, after not being so for 40 years.
And I'd explain it as "I'm using the troop rules on these Hellhounds to speed up combat.
The problem is, you would not be saying truth.
Of course, if you prefer I can have these things attack as a group and use flanking rules and dozens of attack rolls, of which I will get a natural 20 in some of them and you will get hurt by this."
Or not. Do not consider your players to be so incapable of calculating the odds that they see no difference between an unfairly hard fight and an effortless stomp.
And is it any different to say "Oh, these only look like Hellhounds. They're actually Uber-Hellhounds that are far tougher and more powerful than you've encountered before"?
This of course also sucks, but not quite as badly as trying to implement bad rules. Saying that monsters in a new area magically level up to match the party is a reason to consider that I may better spend my time at home, playing Wicher III or something, yes. Using rules crafted specifically so that players would be challenged by things that have no businness ever challenging PCs of that level is a reason to become sure about that.
There is a story called "Tucker's Kobolds" You can find it here in the forums - it's about
...how to be a short-sighted GM who does not value relaxed attitude (or suspension of disbelief) of his players and is signaling to them that the campaing is but a cage for paranoia deathmatch.
Which he is probably going to lose terribly.
Even when imprecision of rules at the time allowed to GM-Fiat lots of stuff against PCs and RNG wasn't structured in a way that low-level monsters are expected to drop off it, a moderately competent OD&D (never mind AD&D 2E) wizard could have annihilated everything described single-handedly in several different ways. Sure it would have been boring methodical butchery, but it was easily doable.
As about the actual solution, may I propose, you know, reading the AP beforehand and replace trash encounters altogether, if you are not satisfied with "okay, I'm not going to roll the rest of this effortless stomp, time to move onto something more interesting".
Klara Meison wrote:
So if Good isn't about humanly good things, like saving lives or alleviating suffering, and is instead about some morals gods/spacewhales bestowed upon the world, it is not about efficiency, it gives weird inconsistent results (letting people die being sometimes the thing a Good character would do, even though they can save them), and being Evil actually helps deal with the things that lurk in the darkness and eat babies...
Tl;dr, you're defining Good strictly from the consequentialist standpoint.
There is a slight problem with the consequentialism: it works like a drug. In small doses it serves as a reality check, and prevents your moral stance from becoming subtly perverted, such as when acts of magnanimity (like, sparing enemies who certainly wouldn't have done the same if the tables were reversed) start to be treated as obligatory acts. But if you get addicted to it, and start substituting it for your actual moral stance, it will ruin your mind and inevitably lead to justifying literally anything to yourself, both on personal and political level. Taking bribes from a criminal syndicate in exchange for not investigating their crimes? Well, bringing the syndicate down would only create chaos in the streets and result in more deaths, so my corruption is perfectly moral! Exterminating or incarcerating whole categories of population? Well, the society we're building will give a great return in terms of lives saved and suffering alleviated, so these means are clearly justified by our end! That's just where consequentialism leads in the real life - once it becomes your main principle, it becomes one huge loophole for self-justification and doing what is expedient, because it offers no practical guidance on how to act, particularly if consequences are not clear and immediate. It is telling that your own examples of good rulers are iron-fisted tyrants (who offered short-term solutions for the problems of their countries but set them on the course to decline in the long term - ironically the extended trains of consequences tend to repudiate consequentialism and the resulting "end justifies the means" attitude).
As it seems, the main reason why consequentialism is constantly brought up in discussions on TTRPG morality because in TTRPGs you have GM Almighty, who controls the consequences at his whim.
Oh, I understand that. The problem is, DnD does so without really understanding reasons why those things are objectively bad
Bargaining with demons is what evil people do because only people who would not rather ask Heaven for help are people whose goals are too selfish and repellent. But given how Planar Binding works, using it to summon angels can be hardly different. (Conversely, enslaving sapient beings for power through binding magic and breaking their will, which is closer to how DnD demon-summoning works by rules, is also what evil people do... but when those beings are purely evil and every day they spend in servitude is a day they cannot spend trying to kill and torture everyone, arguments that enslaving demons can be ethical are not difficult to construct.)
Heroes gather living troops instead of going around raising undead, because creating puppets stripped of free will to fight for you is what a villain does.
But DnD has so many more ways to place combat puppets on the battlefield, such as Summon Monster, that this argument stops holding water - disposable minions who are extensions of a caster's will are just a part of combat tactics.
Heroes do not use poison because it is either a tool for covert assassination under the mask of friendship (if used somewhat realistically) or, at best, a way to take opponents of greater skill with you, instead of training to beat them fair and square (if applied to a blade). But in DnD poisons outside of combat are laughably ineffective and in combat your ability to use them effectively depend on your skill, in fact, potence of a creature's poison is determined by its general badassery. Moreover, there is a pile of spells that do the same thing poisons do but better, so singling poisons out looks strange in DnDland.
Patrick C. wrote:
Unless your setting is deep in the land of unicorns and rainbows, killing should be your default option against opponents who resort to lethal force in a confrontation (thus excluding petty criminals and whatever). Sure, a hero can show mercy, on case-by-case basis. Sparing enemies who happen to still live despite their wounds after dust settles down also might - might - be admirable. Going out of your way to keep enemies alive for the sake of keeping them alive? That's just offering potential opponents the perverse incentive to use lethal force with abandon, as they can reasonably expect your first option to be disabling them non-lethally regardless of their own methods.
Similarly, there is the question of what exactly the villain did to earn the hero's opposition. Forgiveness is all fine and dandy - but again only until the point when it becomes so expected that unrepentant villains start confidently including it in their risk-benefit calculations. After crossing that point all it does is offering an incentive for atrocity.
There is also the question of how much support structure a hero has and whether he can relegate to the society the responsibility of dealing with his foes once their immediate combat capacity is removed. Catching a criminal red-handed when the courts and the penitentiary system largely work and can be expected to deal with him is one matter. Catching a criminal red-handed when neither even exist, and the only justice to be found is meted by your own sword is another. In DnD the latter is generally true.
Patrick C. wrote:
It is certainly not Good.
It is. In fact, DnDland and by extension Golarion are structured in a way that sparing your typical enemies in your average adventure usually requires greater moral flexibility than killing them all. In fact, I've observed a couple of my players insisting that their characters are of Evil or Chaotic Neutral alignment for seemingly no other reason than their desire to avoid situations where they would be obliged to kill people they'd rather spare. Because, while they undestand the reasoning outlined above, the adventures are so flooded with unrepentant villains deserving to be put to the sword that all the slaughter begins stretching suspension of disbelief. (I do believe that most of the "poor widdle goblins/drow/serpentfolk/whatever are just doing what they can to survive!" sentiment comes from the same source.)
Patrick C. wrote:
So, I'm also draining those planes of energy and take their servants out of active duty in the process of achieving my goals? How is that not good?
Do note, I'm all for having Evil powers that should not be used due to their inherently corruptive nature or requirements of amorality. However, the first step to having such in DnD/PF is admitting that [Evil] spells and most other things that supposed to fill this niche do not actually do that. They just don't. Animate Dead does not enslave people in a torturous mockery of life like it does in its likely source of inspiration, it just makes mindless necromantic robots. Summoning demons and devils does not require you to sell your soul and is not associated with terrible risks, it actually just gives you a perfect way to dance around the issue of enslavement inherent in the Planar Binding spells, because in case of Evil outsiders your slaves deserve anything you might do to them. Casting Unholy Blight does not really make your opponents die any more painfully than casting Fireball, and there is no mechanical cost for smiting your foes with dark power. What the rules say they do and what they actually do are currently two different things.
Only absolute morality exists.
Or in other words, any morality that is not absolute is not a morality at all, but merely a set of rules of convenience. By very definition it does not have normative force. And therefore it auto-fails at the actual function of morality, that is compelling people to choose something else over their personal gain/convenience.
and pretending that it does is, ironically, the most common justification for evil acts.
The most common justification for evil acts is "I want this".
I've never used Grigori as written. Sort of no point, when PCs are going to respond to "You are tyrants!" with "Why, yes, of course, what did you expect from feudal lords who carved their domain with spell and sword?" (roll for initiative). Those of my PCs with actual morals would only act differently insofar as they would give Grigori a public challenge to single combat, so that all people would be able to witness who is better qualified to be a ruler, instead of just detaining him (or killing if he actually puts a serious fight) right away.
This AP is all about working *within* the Thrune hierarchy. A hierarchy by definition means being subservient to other people.
This answer amounts to "but it sucks INTENTIONALLY, see, that's different". Who in the whole world has "working within a hierarchy" as his power fantasy? Particularly a power fantasy of the darker, unrestrained sort. Way of the Wicked used working for an evil BBEG boss who forced you into signing a contract of loyalty as a build-up for eventually blasting him in the face and taking his stuff. I somehow doubt this AP would let PCs overthrow the House of Thrune.
Ignore what? In the adventures as written there is no way for all but most extremely paranoid PCs to even guess that Nyrissa is working behind the scenes. What you've quoted is a pitch. But from books that are sold for money I expect to get a finished product. So that, you know, I don't have to do as much work myself.
Cole Deschain wrote:
Don't see a switch here.
The problem with Part 6 is not that Nyrissa exists and wants to kill you. It is that she and her plans are very much smalltime and uninteresting. She is a mid-level villain pretending to be a high-level villain, and even as a mid-level villain Rhoswen played the exact same role with better style and narrative credibility.
captain yesterday wrote:
They have a campaign summary at the back of the first book, while I agree, more hints or tips to foreshadow were needed, it's not like the GM doesn't know she's there, so really, it's a fault of the GM to not do the foreshadowing themselves.
I'm supposed to pay for an adventure, not for a list of things that I must fix by myself.
Zayne Iwatani wrote:
Drelev and Irovetti (if you care to use him) need to be foreshadowed and presented in advance too. "Suddenly there are foes right on your border who somehow have cooler toys than you despite being your loser counterparts" is not a pronouncement I'd care to make to my players. Drelev in particular can be their long-standing rival.
Zayne Iwatani wrote:
that NPC's need to be fleshed out. I want to know how some of you have done that.
(1)Give Nyrissa a bigger historical presense. She appears to be an outside context villain coming out of nowhere because, well, she largely is. In my setting, the Green Queen was a legendary figure of three thousands years ago, who ruled most of the continent with ironwood fist. She got largely forgotten by the time of PCs, because three thousands years is a lot of time, but one still could find some information by looking at old legends or consulting various immortal beings.
(2)Make certain fey who appear early in the AP, like the Dancing Lady, her worshippers, believing that one day Nyrissa will return and reestablish the rule of fey over mortals. Make certain that PCs are aware about the fact that Greenbelt still has a connection to the First World/whatever Faerie is called now, and that connection, albeit nearly inactive at the moment, can grow stronger later.
(3)If your players are not averse to mysterious NPCs appearing to be mysterious, one of Nyrissa's fey enemies/jilted lovers might appear before PCs once those start gaining fame, to drop hints about the larget picture and groom PC for the future confrontation.
The observable facts disagree.
The dragons got fanboyed by the rules too much. That was already noticeable in 2E, but got out of control by the times of 3.5. Battles against high-level dragons became as complex, difficult to run, optimization-sensitive and potentially punishing for PCs as battles against high-level spellcasters. Even dragons of mid-to-low CR, if used according to their mental stats, forced severe mobility/ranged offense checks on a party, that a good deal of characters were set to fail. In short, true dragons became just not very fun to use in games. I've noticed that I'm almost always using relatively simple monsters of the dragon family, like linnorms, when I'm in need of throwing something dragonlike at my PC, ever since I've switched to Pathfinder. I've also noticed that published adventure paths use true dragons quite infrequently, with Giantslayer the only one I can remember having more than three.
Dragons can't be iconic when they aren't actually encountered in the game all that often.
Our group is planing to take up an Adventure Path and looking for recommendations on which one offers the most roleplaying opportunities. Any favorites?
I tentatively propose Kingmaker. In terms of sheer number of roleplaying opportunities it is probably in the lead. Their quality is another matter, because NPCs with most detailed writeups and bios are quite likely to be killed by the party without exchanging a single word. But this problem is not limited to Kingmaker.
In the sense that the story arc needlessly drags down because the adventure has to be extended into high teen levels by hook or crook, even though the main plot can be finished far earlier?
Generally yes, with multiple adventures of padding and filler that either have next to nothing to do with the main plot or are devoted purely to obtaining a McGuffin/powerup needed to progress in the main plot (1 and 5 in RotR, 4 and 5 in CotCT, 1 and nearly all of 2 in SD, etc, etc).
In the sense that there are too many boring trash encounters to beat if the party is to collect enough EXP for their presumed advancement?
So, basically every existing magic user is a living god assumed to have inscrutable and seemingly limitless powers (besides just objectively having very little in the way of real obstacles), and people primarily remember how horrible magic users can be to those who disobey them.
Not seeing any problem here.
So, some elves decided to go the smart route and turns themselves into royalty while keeping humans as peasants.
Still not seeing any problems here. In real life more warlike and vigorous groups of people did it all the time, without actually being superhuman. Given the description of your PCs, they would actually revel in drinking their subjects' tears of impotent hatred.
Well, at least there will be fun, even if their rule will not be very smooth! I'm glad that you and your group have found a way proceed.
gustavo iglesias wrote:
If you consider that being stoned to death does not make a big difference... Which was the standard punishment for having undue interest in your fellow legionnaries in legions of republican Rome, of course.
Here's my opinion on the starting point of the thread.
The main problem with attempting a serious discussion of racism in DnD is that there is largely no such thing as a racism in DnD. Certainly not when it comes to races like orcs
There is only being realistic. As opposed to being a drooling moron who thinks that people who were dedicated to waging a war of extermination on his whole race and culture for thousands of years, and who are objectively, measurably stained with corruption, never mind inferior in mental capacity, would somehow stop trying to kill, rape, and eat him, if only he tries to stop being bigoted towards them.
Just by trying to approach DnD as written with any degree of seriousness you pretty much automatically must come to the conclusion that nature trumps nurture completely and plenty of sapient being are incorrigibly hostile and dangerous, because that's what the rules and the setting tell you in no uncertain terms. Regarding a lot of races on Golarion in particular you might argue that genocide is not only wholly justified but is a moral imperative.
But of course, the authors are quite uncomfortable with drawing these obvious conclusions from the premises they have selected for their setting. Whether because they have selected those premises only because those were present in the previous editions in DnD, or because they are simply afraid of being branded as heretics, if they explore what having s$~$ like Golarion ogres or serpentfolk in your world really means, I don't know. As the premises in question aren't going anywhere any time soon, you simply cannot expect anything non-cartoonish on matters of race and racism from PF products. The authors of this AP did not make the wise choice of skirting around the whole matter, and the result was predictably unsatisfying. Because the only real alternative to "not feeling real", while staying in the predefined confines of the setting, was feeling soul-crushingly grimdark.
Honestly I prefer silliness and unreality. They are easier to spot-fix.
Much the same goes for same-sex and multiracial (multispecies, to be more exact, in cases when no viable children can be expected) relationships. The setting of Golation is 90% filled with societies which had existed for >300 years in stable states. Such stability is, of course, not compatible with social acceptance of any relationship not resulting in procreation. Before we even take into account dangerous man-eating monsters behind every tree and rock, which should obviously contribute to mortality rate, mind you. Therefore any portrayal of such relationships - and, particularly, reactions to them - should be completely cartoonish and based on not thinking about this stuff too hard. Because conclusions of thinking about them too hard are going to offend some of the readers as certainly as the conclusion that maybe if we just f#$%^&g kill, say, every chromatic dragon on Golarion that would objectively make the world a massively better place for everybody who is not a chromatic dragon.
Blue Rose works excellently as a deconstructive commentary about the modern day political correctness, with the nation oh-so-progressive people in the setting making big deal of their superiority to backwards, politically incorrect rednecks next door which are, in the geographical and military terms, the main bloody barrier standing between them and the local equivalent of Mordor.
As a setting played straight, not so much.
Neither you got there be being paranoid, extra careful, and, in short, timid. Those are blatantly self-destructive traits that sap will and make people, even those people are gigantic fantasy reptiles, sit on their thumbs in self-doubt, when decisive action is required. To win, you must have enough boldness to gamble.
Chromatic dragons - as colossally arrogant megalomaniacs. The sort who would choose pride over prudence nearly every time, would crawl to hell and back to retrieve a single stolen copper, and would sooner bite their tongue off than openly admit any sort of weakness or need in others. Tactics-wise most have several a couple routines of tricks that have worked on everything so far and tend to go into frothing rage and denial when this time opponents refuse to go down.
Metallic dragons - as schemers. They do not enjoy fighting, and know that even if they really do not have any significant treasure, many people, particularly many adventurers, would never ever believe that, so they prefer to avoid unneccessary violence by hiding themselves, masquerading as humanoids and working through intermediaries. Ideally they prefer to be a power behind some reasonably benevolent throne. Tactically they use the normal arcane spellcaster routines (you better be ready for some scry&fry if you've decided to mess with a metallic dragon's homeland), if they are old enough to do so, except with a physicaly powerful form as a backup.
Both types are quite rare and unusual. Dragons are supposed to be a big deal, the things that can devastate whole kingdoms if you wake them up in a wrong time, so they have to be rare.
Age of Worms and Rise of the Runelords have the most epic finales. Pretty fine antagonists, with generally useable statblocks, the overall atmosphere of racing against the clock to stop the end of the world, great locations, great sense of progression from humble origins to fighting evil overlords and gods, any snarls are easily ignored.
Savage Tide had a lot of problems in the lead-up to its finale, in the departments of NPCs, world interactivity and statblocks, which were individually tolerable, but pretty much ruined it when taken together. The same goes for Second Darkness. Wrath of the Righteous' last third is a boring slog through encounters that cease to exist the second you look at them somewhat harshly, and the final boss battle is fought past the culmination, which is only a good design when the conflict with the final boss is made highly personal, and it wasn't in WotR. I haven't ran or even carefully read the ending to Reign of Winter.
Everything else is like "And now you've defeatead a villain that has about enough mojo to treaten one whole country of, like, 40 on Golarion's globe, sometimes not even that much. Wow. So epic. Much high stakes. Why this has to be a level 15 adventure, again?"
All but the psychic (who is OK, hey, it's a full caster) and the kyneticist (who simply doesn't have a big enough punch) have that bard syndrome, where on the paper you have plenty of powers, but then combat begins, and suddenly you find that unless you picked just the right options, notning you do makes a particularly big impact on the situation. You don't even have a real stick to hit people with - you need to expend resources to barely keep up with a fighter for an encounter or two! Sure, the cleric has the same syndrome before level 5 too, but the cleric at least can heal.
For that matter, speaking about the cleric, compare the occultist or the spiritualist to it and tell me the latter are not straight downgrades. Compare the mesmerist to the bard and see that they are not much different. I'm not quite sure what medium is even suppposed to do, given that he's a half-caster with a worse-than-cleric chassis and your best tricks are imitating 3/4th casters. Being flexibile and able to reinvent himself has limited worth in the world of DnD combat, where the most important resource of all are standard actions, and all your flexibly accessible options simply lag several levels behind the stuff normal classes can get access too. Well, I already covered the rest at the start of my post.
Sure, if you sift through every option meticulously, you can pull your weight with an Occult Adventures class, or maybe your party's psychic will pull for two. But you know, you can make overpowered monks and rogues if you try hard enough too. It just takes a disproportional investment of time and effort most people at my table (myself included) aren't willing to make.
No AP is particularly cohesive as written. CotCT, already mentioned here, is one of the best, because at least it presents the BBEG and has her actions directly and visibly influence the story in the first module, instead of by the end of fourth or something. It still features a two-adventure long "You thought it was a city adventure and it's the time to organize a revolution? Too bad, time to go dungeoncrawling!" derail.
I'd name Wrath of the Righteous perhaps as the most cohesive, as long as players start aware of the fact that they WILL be forced to deal and bargain with forces of evil at some point, because that's just how Paizo rolls.
Council of Thieves. Maybe Second Darkness, at least until part 5-6. I don't know if any of the newer APs have seriously underpowered opposition. Most APs will hand a party of Occult Adventures classes their heads on a platter, unless the players are exceedingly meticulous with their optimization, or the GM really, really goes out of his way to keep them alive no matter what.
Strictly speaking, none.
By "strictly speaking", I mean that (1)NPCs were presented strictly as they are written in an APs, without any changes to motivation, attitude, and, well, actual presentation; (2)NPCs in question were actually morally changed for the better, instead of being told something boiling down to "We think you can be useful/you have nice t@!* - you can work for us, if you don't like the idea of dying on the spot".
Discounting those two caveats, quite a lot. In RotR alone the party I GMed had Erilium, Nualia, Xanesha and a significant part of Mokmurian's army switching sides, and most of them even ended up appreciably better people thanks to it.
Nobody cares. Pathfinder's cosmology is Lovercraftian atheism anyway and there is absolutely nothing mystic or transcedent about deities. In this particular situation a deity wants something that benefits her and something she cannot accomplish on her own from PCs. When people ask favors, they should act accordingly.
That's before remembering oft-forgotten fact that acting like a self-absorbed jerk is not only hardly constructive, but unbecoming of a figure of great authority. Particularly at the gaming table, where your arrogant and bombastic speeches won't be told by a great voice actor in a controlled studio environment, but would be subjected to players' comments in and out of character.
Honestly, if you have a group of PCs that mouth off to a goddess or attack her, they deserve exactly what happens to them. I'm from an old school group and all of them agree, you sit down and you shut up when a God talks.
You have a funny definition of old school that makes me think your school is not really old.
In the real old school you stab a goddess in the face and loot her demiplane (if you really were old school, you might have heard about a module where you do exactly that). Before riding dragons you've slapped into submission to confront Orcus.
Any group not willing to show proper respect to a Goddess has a serious case of their own prideful self worth, a weakness the Abyss will quickly use to destroy them.
Prideful self-worth does not make one's Will saves any lower in DnD. And the Abyss, as actually written in WotR part 5, does not meaningfully challenge PCs's moral convictions. Only Will saves.
Well, that's before pointing out that judging by Iomedae's behavior they are just emulating their role model.
Nothing insightful in the link here. Yeah, tanglefoot bags can have decent effects, but everything else mostly consists of the ways to blow your standard actions for a dubious benefit. I'd like to see these methods used against my current Nature Fang druid and his riding panther, with his buddy Summoner and his pet feline eldritch abomination, and his another buddy Cleric buffbot. But I'm afraid GM will cry in the aftermath. Maybe if your advice is worse than useless against a random real-play sample of three spellcasters, you should think it through better.
All those scenarios assume that the gods of the setting will just go "Meh, divine rules prevent me from intervening. Too bad, worshippers!" on all of those catastrophes.
A)So do AP writers.
I would never choose any of these items over Amulet of My Primary Stat +(Level-appropriate value) even if their initial price was all you ever pay for them. Simply put, getting a cool effect five to ten levels after it is available to good classes might range from not particularly important if you can use that effect outside of combat to utterly worthless if you have to burn your precious standard actions for it.
As you also apparently have to pay a ton of gold to upgrade these items over your adventuring career, so their full suite of powers also COSTS almost as much as Headband of Mental Superiority +6, my characters would just immediately pawn them to the closest magic shop, instead of crippling themselves.
The biggest problem with foreshadowing Part 5 is the fact that Part 5 simply sucks. Irovetti and his whole plan would have been a decent threat at about level 6. At level 13? Fluff-wise he's lame (that's a recurring problem with Kingmaker villains, I think); mechanics-wise he is quite likely to never even know what hit him; involvement of Pitax in part 4 was pretty obvious, so the adventure setup presumes both passivity and gullibility on PCs' part, else Irovetti's half-baked scheme of luring PCs into a trap won't work for one reason or another; a large part of the module is supposed to be about massed combat between armies of little men, which hardly works at these levels; and there is just nothing particularly interesting about any of the opponents you encounter.
Consider replacing or rewriting the whole module. I did rewriting, utilizing pretty much nothing but some statblocks, and foreshadowed the change from the beginning - PCs were dispatched to the Stolen Lands because these lands were a no man's land between their home country and its most dangerous enemy, in place of Part 5 that enemy finally strikes, and what PCs did with their kingdom up to that point should determine whether their kingdom survives or is reduced to a pile of corpses and rubble by the time they wipe out enough enemy leaders to cause the invasion to falter. Mass combat might be used to determine how well PCs' subordinates are doing in their absence, though I'm just keeping an improvised "kingdom score", largely based on how many valuable allies they recruit and whether they invest their plunder in development of the land or, on the contrary, leech gold from their subjects.
Drelev and his cronies, for the record, tried to prepare for the same invasion by allying with the barbarians in this version of the Kingmaker, thinking they would be in control in this alliance.
So... basically a Weapon Specialization (+2 damage on average)? If you forget all the restrictions and penalties, that is.
This is not crazy, this is not overpowered, and considering that Monkey Grip did in fact feature a -2 penalty, taking it was and is nerfing your character for the sake of pure flavor.
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Exactly. You can have complex decision processes and even culture without free will. As is the case with outsiders. And actually there are non-outsider races working on the same logic - shall I remind, that Golarion drow is literally what happens when elves go insane and evil to the core, with a spontaneous tranformation, no less?
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
The only one of your examples that matters here is the AI one, because we (as a species) fight hardwired biological drives all the time. It's not necessarily easy and some people have a much harder time than others but it's always possible.
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
I'm sure hearing that would be a great relief to people living near that underground daemonic-conctructed race with unpronounceable name for which killing every sapient creature other than themselves is an imperative as strong as procreation.
Wait, no it wouldn't be. The attitude towards vampires is "kill 'em all, no sorting needed", and vampires don't even strictly speaking have an urge to kill, merely an urge to feed in a way that often results in death.
And going to the main point of the thread, the key problem spawning all these goblin babies conundrums is the indisputable fact that yes, certain races exist in the game world solely to give PCs targets for guilt-free killing. You might note that as soon as orcs and other traditional candidates for this role become humanized to the point that PCs might feel uncomfortable massacring them, game settings invariably introduce "eviler than you" fantasy races to serve the same role. And yes, it is certainly possible to imagine creatures that have sapience but not free will, as you have agreed right above. And so the concept of free will does not give bad GMs a free excuse to pretend that the "goblin baby" issue is, in fact, an issue in their settings, even though that situation implicitly assumes that every able-bodied goblin acted like not a free-willed creature but an organic killbot that might have programming elaborate enough to make tools and create complex plans but cannot deny its core directive of aggression.
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Free will is a concept that is universally assumed in our world, because it is convenient, but not actually strictly proven to be true...
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Since I can't think of any race that has that it's best to assume they're capable of the same decision making as any other race.
...In fiction, though, concepts that explicitly or implicitly override free will while still allowing for complex decision-making and self-conttrol are introduced all the time. Even before we dip into explicitly mystical stuff, or things that make people into drones of a greater entity there are solutions like hardwired programming that makes certain core directives impossible to disobey, while giving the subject free reign on how to pursue them (look, at, like, every second story featuring AIs); or supercharging certain urges and drives, so, say, your need to hurt others is just as or almost as strong as your need to feed.
In other words, "but if this bugbear can think up complex plans of killing me, he necessarily can think that killing me is wrong" is a fallacious argument.
It does. That's a fact. While attempting to remove these things was not the only reason why DnD 4E managed to do the impossible and lose the throne of the King of RPGs, it was one of significant reasons.
Having a 3rd level Cleric hit you with Blindness at any level between 1st and 4th is grounds for retirement.
Or maybe for coughing up enough money for a scroll of Remove Blindness/Deafness. 375 gp (even double that to compensate for a failure chance) is not exactly a big sum.
PF is already allows PCs to incredibly easily recover from anything short of a TPK. Even death is, in practice, reversible from levels 5-6, in exchange for a relatively small handicap of having less money in the future. There is simply no way to make the game any easier without making the difficulty into a completely binary switch between "TPK" and "Perfectly Fine". This binary switch sucks.
Nocte ex Mortis wrote:
That's the question we should ask more often. Or at least "Why they don't get explicit supernatural power source?"
Nocte ex Mortis wrote:
Most likely because when 3.0 came about, they didn't realize what taking all the limitations off of the spellcasters, and limiting the more 'mundane' (Seriously though, there's NOTHING mundane about a 9th level fighter. You're talking about someone who could have methodically killed every single person in the Battle of Normandy, on both sides.) characters to 'realism' would end up really doing.
That happened when AD&D 1E came about, not 3.0. Compare AD&D 1 or 2E with Rules Cyclopedia. You'll notice:
(1)Removal of high-level options for martials because of muh realism.
And supplements added the ability of casters, namely priests, to steal every good part of being a fighter while still casting what they needed.
Nocte ex Mortis wrote:
They learned really quick, but refused to admit their screw-up.
Incorrect. It took about 5-6 years of incessant flame wars to convince the majority of Internet-frequenting playerbase that caster-martial disbalance exists. There were still very significant holdouts of people saying that it, in fact, doesn't at the time of Pathfinder's public beta. No, "holdouts" is a wrong word. On Paizo's board this opinion dominated. This is the most likely reason why Paizo saw fit not only not to rework martial classes in any significant fashion, but to consciously nerf the few effective things they did in 3.5, from high-damage melee combos to trip.
I was wondering why there seems to be a lot of hate towards magic(casters and items) on this forum?
As you can notice from this very thread, most of the complaining is due to people being unable to accept that their vanilla action heroes are inherently obsolete at the certain point that DnD/PF hit somewhere between levels 5 and 10. And most of modern fantasy fiction starts beyond. As you can notice, people who complain about casters generally aren't complaining that their Fighters don't get to move at supersonic speeds, and their rogues don't get to shadow teleport, and their Acrobatics check don't allow them to run on clouds. They are complaining that absolutely mundane tricks and tactics are obsoleted by magic. Well, duh. That goes without saying. Xaltotun beats Conan, easily, and the latter needs to quest for a McGuffin to stand any chance, such was the state of things even in Swords & Sorcery. The system unfortunately encourages this sort of thinking by pretending that fighters and rogues are conceptually valid to level 20.
Please enlighten me in what PoW ways maneuvers make a character more than a hack and slash machine.
I'll start with one: there are maneuvers that provide you with mobility that can be useful on adventure when combat music is not playing.
Doing damage, and imposing conditions and possibly letting you fly is well within the realm of what the druid's (and now also the oracle's and the sorcerer's...) pet can do. No, of course, the Path of War classes make you a way more interesting hack and slash machine. Your combat routine with them is more diverse than "I attack". Probably more diverse than the combat routine of your average original ToB character, where the difference between your best maneuvers and the rest was such that you generaly wanted to recharge after going through 1-2 strikes, unless you were a crusader - and you weren't because few people liked to be toyed with by random chance. But they still hack, and they still slash, and nothing else. If you are in this thread not just to hype Path of War you might have notices that I've tried to insert some non-combat utility stuff in every discipline precisely because of that (although not nearly enough of such stuff yet, coming up with ways of making swording useful outside of the usual contect is pretty hard).
And how second-wave PF classes doing the same thing makes that thing good?
Particularly when you still can play ye olde full casters (with the wizard easily snatching just about everythihg that is good about the arcanist for himself) and not only enjoy maximum power, but power coming in considerably simpler ways. Sure, you still have extra abilities to track, like hexes or whatever you snatch through the bloodline/mystery/school/whatever. But these generally are a static bonus or either/or proposition, replacing your normal actions. Take note that the only not-full-caster who had joined the big boys' club for the moment, the Summoner, is not overburdened with resource management systems - he just have spells, and spell-like abilties used in place of spells, and a pet he generates before a game session.
Now, the above-mentioned Stalker abilities are largely dynamic and interlocked (though it as a lot of static bonuses too, most of them piddly) to the point they make a high-level cleric buff array look simple (at least with the cleric you just usually write up a template of your normal adventuring buffs and a template of your max buffs, unless someone hits you with a Dispel you merely have three versions of your charlist, instead of tracking abilities round-to-round).
I do own PoW, but have only skimmed it. Other than the class with ki points, what resource managing do the others make you deal with?
Let us look at the stalker.
-You have the maneuvers and the maneuver recharge system.
The same goes for other classes. They have at least one extra resource management system (armiger's mark, tactical presense, warleader) and some abilities that tinker with their maneuver use or recovery too. Now, they are not like monks, who have a ton of abilties which all suck. Path of War classes seem to be quite strong.
The martial classes have a inherent problem since 3.0: they are supposed to be the classes for Bob the Noob, but in actual practice they are classes that only work for Richard the King of Minmaxing. Well, the Path of War classes are at least open about it. But this is still not a good thing. I, personally, consider himself above average at handling mechanics. I may play one of those classes as a PC, possibly, when stars are right. But there is no way in Abyss I'm ever generating or running one of those as an NPC. A wizard would be simpler to handle. Like, a lot simpler.
Now, Path of War disciplines (I've read more of them over the last two days) are pretty good, better in sheer killing power than even my homebrew in its current form, even with non-scaling saves, mostly non-scaling damage and the MAD problem (all save DCs work of the primary initiation attribute, in ToB at least some DCs worked off Strength). But they have clearly avoided the ToB's pitfall of simply setting the power level too low (save for a couple of maneuvers you needed to pick carefully). With plenty of maneuvers to choose from on every level in PoW, you easily can fairly easily avoid problematic ones and make your way to power through obvious choices. I'm considering allowing these disciplines as written in my games. But classes? No, thanks.