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On page 102, the base statistics for an Infernal dragon specify its breath weapon as "line, 2d8 hellfire" but in all 3 printed examples on pages 102–103 (young, adult, ancient) the breath weapon is "line, Nd10 hellfire".

While it's entirely possible the developers intended for these three age categories to have d10-based breath weapons to the exclusion of the other age categories — in which case specific rules for those age categories would trump the general rules for breath weapons based on age category — I think it's more likely this was a mistake in printing.

Can we get someone to confirm this? Thanks!

Aerotan wrote:
Flashblade wrote:
Aerotan wrote:

Maybe forgo the consonant in that Silver? So Argiix (are-JEE-icks)? Other decent Silver names might be Diargixus, Vargix, Yarthixia, or Larigix. (dee-ARE-jicks-us, var-jicks, yar-THICKS-ee-uh, lai{r}-REE-jicks)

I like Auxaurian, but if we want to add more: Thurivarixian, Malixaurian, Taurixian, Dvarixthuriar, Mevixaurith. (thoo-REE-var-ICKS-ee-un, mall-ICKS-are-ee-un, TAr-ricks-ee-un, duhVAR-icks-THOO-ree-are, MEH-vicks-are-ith)

And for greens, it looks like it depends on male or female. Greens like to name females with things that end in 'vox', so Cheravox, Destrivox, Tennavox, or Verivox. They seem to like four or five syllable names as well, so males might be Tennaverion, Verilthron, Dastrinian, and Karsaevion. (CHAIR-ah-vocks, deh-STREE-vocks, TEN-nah-vox, VAIR-ih-vocks; TEN-nah-VAIR-ee-on, /'dæs-trIn-I-ʌn/, car-SAY-vee-un)(Couldn't think how else to do a key for the next to the last one, so take crappy IPA)

The language as a whole seems to like quick, harsh syllables, as a note, and I'm willing to bet most draconic names are something like Charity, Hayate, Una, and Joshua: words or phrases taken from the language and used as names.

Thank you so much for this post!

Would you mind if I steal a few of your examples?

Have at, it's one of the reasons I posted! Let me know which ones get used, I might grab a few myself...for reasons. Magical reasons. Anyway, I try to make sure I'm avoiding names other people are using as much as possible. Too many rounds of 'can I name my kingdom this?' in my fiction setting.

I'll be using Destrivox and Diargixus. You can keep Auxaurian, though I could use some more Gold female names. :)

Aerotan wrote:

Maybe forgo the consonant in that Silver? So Argiix (are-JEE-icks)? Other decent Silver names might be Diargixus, Vargix, Yarthixia, or Larigix. (dee-ARE-jicks-us, var-jicks, yar-THICKS-ee-uh, lai{r}-REE-jicks)

I like Auxaurian, but if we want to add more: Thurivarixian, Malixaurian, Taurixian, Dvarixthuriar, Mevixaurith. (thoo-REE-var-ICKS-ee-un, mall-ICKS-are-ee-un, TAr-ricks-ee-un, duhVAR-icks-THOO-ree-are, MEH-vicks-are-ith)

And for greens, it looks like it depends on male or female. Greens like to name females with things that end in 'vox', so Cheravox, Destrivox, Tennavox, or Verivox. They seem to like four or five syllable names as well, so males might be Tennaverion, Verilthron, Dastrinian, and Karsaevion. (CHAIR-ah-vocks, deh-STREE-vocks, TEN-nah-vox, VAIR-ih-vocks; TEN-nah-VAIR-ee-on, /'dæs-trIn-I-ʌn/, car-SAY-vee-un)(Couldn't think how else to do a key for the next to the last one, so take crappy IPA)

The language as a whole seems to like quick, harsh syllables, as a note, and I'm willing to bet most draconic names are something like Charity, Hayate, Una, and Joshua: words or phrases taken from the language and used as names.

Thank you so much for this post!

Would you mind if I steal a few of your examples?

Thanks for that text drop! I'd like to avoid using the ones already explicitly in the book, though, and I am really terrible and unimaginative at working within a convention for names. At least for the Gold and Silvers, they seem to be going for a faux-latin leaning so we can probably assume things that end in -ix are female and things that end in -us are male.

Argirix is the first thing that comes to mind for a silver, but it feels clumsy to say. Auxaurian sounds pretty cool for a (male?) gold. Would love some more suggestions.

I'm especially eager for some inspired Green, Gold, and Silver dragon names. Please indicate color and sex. Thanks in advance!

Wraiths are cool, and good, and my friend. I have recently done a lot of playtesting with them due to their appearance in a dungeon I plan to run in a few weeks.

How do/would you use this creature in your game?
I'm going to quote from the description for Ghosts real quick (emphasis mine): "An encounter with a ghost should never happen completely out of the blue — there are plenty of other incorporeal undead like wraiths and spectres to fill that role." What's more, their Environment is "any," and their Ecology entry is all of two sentences: "Wraiths are undead creatures born of evil and darkness. They hate light and living things, as they have lost much of their connection to their former lives."

These features combine to give the GM an in-universe carte blanche for placing them pretty much anywhere and for any reason. In this regard, they are much like Skeletons, Spectres, and Zombies: they do not need a specific narrative explanation, and any narrative explanation that fits some other monster can believably and reasonably be applied to include them. For this reason, my primary use of Wraiths is as supporting monsters or background variety for the primary narrative. For example, say you plan to have the players explore an old asylum or prison that was abandoned when it flooded during a major storm. In such an environment, it would make sense for you to have themed undead creatures representing the inmates or patients: you might have some undead that form when people drown, some who form when people starve, and/or some who form from particularly evil or insane people. And if you want to build into your adventure the story behind these groups, then you likely also want something to serve as less interesting filler combatants: that's where your carte blanche creatures come in, and Wraiths superbly fill that role. The party might be majorly interested in an Attic Whisperer or Ghost haunting an old mansion, but along the way Wraiths make for a thematically appropriate fodder creature. But don't interpret this to mean that they can only be used as fodder. As intelligent undead, they can think and plan. They can have agendas. They are not mindless, and they can be the crux of a story as easily as an Allip or a Banshee. Their usefulness to the GM is in their narrative-agnostic transferability across encounter areas: they can be anywhere almost any other kind of undead might be, and can fill almost any role. The same can be said of Spectres, which are effectively just their higher-CR cousins.

What are some tactics it might use?
Something not used enough in either adventure paths or custom games is versatility of the incorporeal special quality. They can freely hide in ceilings, floors, furniture, siege weapons, stairs, statues, vehicles, walls — and due to their lifesense, their ability to detect and observe prey is not hindered while within a solid object. As creatures "born of evil and darkness," and who explicitly "hate light and living things," Wraiths are perfectly fit for ambush predators. And they are not dumb; in fact, with 14 Intelligence they are quite smart! If you've ever had the urge to play Kobolds or other entry-level monsters as deceptively difficult through preparation, strategy, and tactics, then Wraiths are even better suited for that role because they are smarter and likely have the advantage over the players in concealment and movement. Hit and run. Hide and wait. Lure the good guys into traps. Take advantage of the ability to just ready an action to Constitution Drain the Wizard when he passes by, then retreat back into the wall to freely escape reprisal. Attack while the party is sleeping. Harry and harass and never fight fair.

And there's no reason one need ever face just one! By the time the party has heard of the old haunted asylum, castle, or mansion, it's very likely other people have attempted to explore or purify it — and died in the process. Wraiths are one of those wonderful creatures who have an in-universe reason to swarm the players with monster tokens and shift the action economy firmly onto the side of the bad guys. Paizo helpfully gave us unambiguous stats for a Wraith Spawn in Pathfinder 44: Trail of the Beast (pg. 25), and a CR 10 encounter of 1 Wraith (1,600 XP) and 6 Wraith Spawn (1,200 XP each). That's exactly the sort of ambush that experienced undead hunters should be paranoid about and be prepared to take steps to circumvent.

Encounter ideas
In a low-level game, a single Wraith can be the primary antagonist for an entire adventure. This is a creature who can create its own minions to send after the PCs, who can probably escape if losing a fight, and who by itself is a credible threat to the entire party even given their advantage of action economy. Even its individual spawn are dangerous opponents for a low-level party, and one wraith might have several. For me, this suggests a creature in a network position: perhaps the local criminal kingpin or capo is a Wraith or spawn, indirectly manipulating the local adventuring guild or temple to send naive do-gooders to their death and assimilation into the growing Wraith collective; perhaps this Wraith collective is itself just one of many arms infiltrating not just the local town but towns all across the country or province, all in service to a greater power like a devil, lich, or necromancer; perhaps the local noble secretly keeps the counsel of a Wraith who serves as both adviser and assassin; perhaps members of the local devil-cult routinely sacrifice victims to their Wraith patron who serves as intermediary with even darker powers; perhaps that devil-cult instead sees immortality as a Wraith Spawn as the reward granted the most devoted.

Keep in mind that for low-level parties, even a single Wraith or Wraith Spawn can be deadly — especially if it strikes without warning. Most party members will not be walking around with force effects all the time, so even the sword-and-board Fighter will get hit. Couple this with the above average DC 17 Fortitude save on its Constitution Drain (Su), and the party will likely experience long-term consequences after a fight. At low-level, it's best to use Wraiths as the difficult and exciting climax of an adventure. Alternately, have the Wraith encounter be the Twist — right after the party has taken long-term penalties and expended significant resources is the perfect time to reveal that the Wraith was merely The Dragon, and now they have drawn the attention of The Man Behind The Man. This is when you throw in a weak (compared to the rest of the New Bad Guy's minions) combat encounter, to drive home both just how powerful the New Bad Guy is and how significant the Old Bad Guy's damage to the party was; for an example think of the Power Rangers' first encounter with the Z Putty Patrol. Then you let the party have a break. This post-climax encounter guarantees the party actually experiences the consequences of the Constitution Drain (Su), and at the same time acts as a breadcrumb to the next adventure.

In a mid-level game, Wraiths and their Spawn can take more of the background and supporting roles that I opened this post discussing. Use them in conjunction with other creatures that target Fortitude saves to inflict all kinds of conditions, diseases, and poisons that the party might otherwise be able to shrug off. By this point in the game, especially in campaigns where undead have featured prominently, you can feel more free to use them in the sorts of nasty ambushes discussed above in the tactics section. This is also around the time when airborne and underwater adventures become possible, so begin to think in three dimensions if you haven't previously: they can just as easily emerge from the ceilings and walls of an airship or sunken ruin as they can from those of a haunted mansion, and these environments offer new challenges for the players to overcome while being harried by creatures that can deliberately make them more difficult. Relatively low-CR enemies like Draugrs, Ghouls, and Wights become considerably more threatening when in the company of Wraiths, and even mindless undead like groups of Skeletons and Plague Zombies become dangerous when they serve as distractions for Wraiths. Consider including other incorporeal undead like Allips, Poltergeists, and Shadows alongside wraiths for particularly haunted areas and a range of special abilities to challenge mid-level parties.

Designate one Shadow and a Wraith as progenitors and generate as many other Shadows and Wraith Spawn as you feel appropriate to either spread about a dungeon area or combine into a single encounter. As an example: 3 shadows, 1 wraith, and 2 wraith spawn are a CR 9 encounter where the bad guys have the advantage in action economy. Adding in 3 draugrs or 9 plague zombies bumps it up to CR 10. This batch of critters can be evenly distributed instead into a series of CR 2–4 encounters that culminate with the final CR 6 encounter with the progenitor Shadow and Wraith.

Jeraa wrote:
Volkard Abendroth wrote:

Lets assume the two abilities don't cancel:

Immunity wrote:
A creature with immunities takes no damage from listed sources.
Vulnerability wrote:
A creature with vulnerabilities takes half again as much damage (+50%) from a specific energy type

You either reduce damage to zero and then multiply by x1.5 or multiply x1.5 and then reduce to zero.

Either way, vulnerability is a numerical multiplier and immunity reduces to zero.

While that is true, that isn't the issue being debated at all. The issue is whether or not the immunity/vulnerability from the subtype would even transfer to the skeleton, or it it is dropped along with all other special defenses.

And if it were the issue, I'll direct you to the Absolute Cold (Su) ability of Lunar Dragons as an example of immunity-piercing effects. A hypothetical creature that is both cold immune and vulnerable to cold would take 0% damage normally and 75% damage on a failed save.

Murdock Mudeater wrote:
Flashblade wrote:
is this a pathfinder book? I'm looking online, but can't find it.

It should be. :(

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Cyrad wrote:

Spells are clearly mental actions that require thought as even the paralysis condition describes spellcasting as a "mental action."

There's also...

Choosing a Spell wrote:
To cast a spell, you must be able to speak (if the spell has a verbal component), gesture (if it has a somatic component), and manipulate the material components or focus (if any). Additionally, you must concentrate to cast a spell.

This is something I overlooked, and is relevant: without an intelligence score (and lacking the relevant anatomy), a Skeleton normally cannot speak a language. Even if Skeletons do retain spell-casting ability, the inability to speak would prohibit a great number of spells from being cast.

Cyrad wrote:

And then there's...
Concentration Checks and Casting Spells wrote:
To cast a spell, you must concentrate. If something interrupts your concentration while you’re casting, you must make a concentration check or lose the spell.
This makes it clear that concentration isn't just about resisting effects that disrupt spellcasting but rather a requirement for spellcasting in itself.

Just so we're clear, I personally agree with your conclusion that Skeletons do not cast spells because even if they could because it's not thematically appropriate. I still disagree with you analysis of the rules here that concentration is used in its more general definition rather than specific to concentration checks.

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I'm not asking for a Paizo dev to post. I am asking for people who don't actually know to refrain from cluttering up the thread with responses of "well this is what I, a person who does not know and who is not citing an example, would personally do it". I already know how I, a person who does not know and is not citing an example, am going to run the Bloody Skeleton Adult Gold Dragon in my game next weekend. What I don't know is what the rules-as-written or rules-as-intended say, since I've not read every single Paizo material, and there might exist in some book I haven't read a rule that shows one way or the other. I'm asking for ForumUser452 to make a post saying something like:

Page 17 of Adventure Path Eleventy-three has a Weurhfeuihefr Skeleton encounter that isn't given a separate stat block, just a reference to its entry on page 63 of the CruelCreaturesChronicle, and the text of the encounter explicitly mentions that starts the encounter having cast Greater Invisibility on itself — which is one of its frequently-prepared spells in its monster entry. Later on in the adventure there's another creature that's also treated as a standard Skeleton, and the text of the encounter references the spell-like abilities of the base creature being used. From this we can conclude that the Skeleton template did not strip its spell casting ability, and since the adventure does not mention these skeletons being special in any way we can transfer this conclusion to other Skeletons and conclude that the Skeleton template does not remove spell-casting.

There is no conflict intended here, and I sincerely and respectfully apologize for giving the impression I was impetuously demanding the attention of Paizo devs. I just want my fellow forums posters to help with research of what has already been tweeted, posted in other threads, published in books I don't own, etc. With respect, if the intention were to solicit Advice or Homebrew options, I imagine this thread would have been posted in one of those forums rather than Rules Questions.

Cyrad wrote:

The issue with the examples is that monster creation follows a precedent where if a creature has an ability in their stat-block, they can use it even if they normally shouldn't be able to.

I'm more-so interested if a creature with SLA and spells that somehow becomes mindless retains the ability to use those abilities. I would say "no" as you need to concentrate to cast a spell or spell-like ability and you can't concentrate when mindless.

I can fully understand your logical reasoning, and I will concede that the entire premise could be easily avoided by just picking a different template like Skeletal Champion or Lich. But can you provide a rules-as-written justification for why a mindless creature cannot cast spells or use spell-like abilities? Nothing in the description of the Intelligence ability score says this; nothing in the rules for casting spells says this; and, there does not even exist to my knowledge a condition or trait called mindless.

The only thing I can find in support of your position is this line: "You must concentrate to cast a spell. If you can’t concentrate, you can’t cast a spell." This line clearly refers to making concentration checks when presented with actions or situations that might prevent successful spell casting (i.e., cause a spell to "fizzle"), and spell fizzle is explicitly described as the result of being unable to concentrate. The rules even then go on to say that when a spell fizzles, it still uses up the spell slot; so, even when a creature "can't concentrate" it retains its ability to cast spells. In order to even get to the part of the successful spell casting flow chart where it is possible to fizzle a spell because one "can't concentrate," one must possess spell-casting ability in the first place. It's not logically possible that the inability to concentrate, described here, could retroactively remove the ability to cast spells, which is itself a prerequisite to getting to the point int he flow chart where ability to concentrate is checked.

I think the confusion here is that you're reading "concentrate" as the capacity of a self-aware creature (which a Skeleton is, by virtue of it having a Charisma score) to engage in mental effort, which is a reasonable definition of that word in general English usage. But the use of the word "concentrate" in the spell casting rules clearly conveys very specific meaning separate from its usage in (American) Standard English.

Question does what it says on the tin. Consider for example a Frost Giant: as per the Skeleton template, the resulting skeletal Frost Giant would drop the giant subtype but retain the cold subtype. The cold subtype ordinarily confers cold immunity and vulnerability to fire to the resulting creature; however, in this very similar question it has been contested how and whether a subtype's Defensive Abilities and Weaknesses are conferred to a skeleton.

As this is a Rules Question, please limit responses to citations of official developer feedback, errata, published material, and unambiguously transferable rules-as-written.

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toastedamphibian wrote:
Side stepping the issue: As far as I can tell, red dragons get SLA by AGE CATEGORY, not HD. It is no longer alive, and no longer a dragon. It is dead, skeletons do not have draconic age categories.

Dragons also gain size and natural weapons by virtue of their age category. Should the skeletal dragon revert to Tiny and lose all attacks but its bite and claws?

Daw wrote:
Flashblade wrote:
The entirety of the rules for Pathfinder and every game are open to GM-and-player agreement and interpretation; so, to say so is not wrong, but it is also not helpful in this case. Cyrad and I are both looking for a determination based on official developer feedback, published example, or unambiguously transferable rules-as-written.

That's all?

Yes, we came to the Rules Questions forum looking for responses grounded in the rules rather than peoples' opinions about what works best; otherwise, instead of Pathfinder we'd all be playing Regdar Gets a Hummer and a Burrito.

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@Cyrad — I think I have found some examples of mindless creatures that can cast spell-like abilities.

Okay so I think maybe what we're looking for has not been fully communicated. We do not expect JJ to hop in here and say yea or nay; what we were expecting is people delving into the books and bringing up potentially transferable examples of the rules-as-written like the one I'm about to do.

From the rules for Constructs: "Skill points equal to 2 + Int modifier (minimum 1) per Hit Die. However, most constructs are mindless and gain no skill points or feats. Constructs do not have any class skills, regardless of their Intelligence scores."

While this rule is not 100% unambiguously transferable, this at least gives us an entire Type of creatures which might potentially be both Mindless and able to cast Spell-like abilities and/or spells — even a single example of which would illustrate the possibility. Looking at the list of CR 1–10 constructs from the Advanced Monster Search tool available on d20pfsrd gives me the following examples of things that might qualify:

CR 1 Wood Idol (AP 27)
CR 2 Soulbound Doll (Bestiary 2)
CR 3 Guardian Doll (Irrisen)
CR 3 Stone Idol (AP 27)
CR 4 Jade Idol (AP 27)
CR 4 Marble Sentinel (AP 62)
CR 4 Mask Golem (Masks of the Living God)
CR 5 Graven Guardian (Bestiary 3)
CR 5 Mirror Man (AP 68)
CR 7 Soulbound Mannequin (Bestiary 4)
CR 7 Tupilaq (Bestiary 3)

All the creatures on the above list are Constructs which have Spell-Like Abilities on their stat block, which is the minimum criteria for inclusion. I specifically excluded creatures whose descriptions explicitly mention being self-aware, sentient, etc. Several of the creatures above have "Weakness susceptible to mind-affecting effects," so perhaps you would also discount them; however, at least some meet all the criteria I can imagine. For example, the Graven Guardian and Tupilaq have all of the following: Immune construct traits; n/day (rather than constant) Spell-Like Abilitiies; Int —; lack Weakness susceptible to mind-affecting effects; and, lack feats and skills. I would blindly hypothesize that were I to extend the search to include all CRs of Construct (or all creatures in general), I'd likely be able to find more creatures that fit the same criteria filled by the Graven Guardian and Tupilaq.

@Cyrad — Does that criteria satisfy you? If so, then do you agree with my intuition that it could serve as evidence for the lack of an exclusion to the general rule that templates only change the things they explicitly say they do? If so, then it would seem a Skeleton Dragon would indeed be able to cast at least its spell-like abilities as normal.

I am now imagining a high-level Dragon or other caster using polymorph any object to permanently attach pinched cheeks or grandma's-lipstick-marks to party members and I laughed for a solid minute.

The entirety of the rules for Pathfinder and every game are open to GM-and-player agreement and interpretation; so, to say so is not wrong, but it is also not helpful in this case. Cyrad and I are both looking for a determination based on official developer feedback, published example, or unambiguously transferable rules-as-written.

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wraithstrike wrote:

What I am curious about is the specific situation which allowed a mindless creature to have access to SLA's or spells.

Is this a mental exercise or an actual situation? If it is an actual situation then having more info would be helpful

I am not @Cyrad, but the specific question is whether a Skeletal Dragon retains the ability to cast its spells and spell-like abilities, the caster level for which are determined by its HD rather than by class levels. Bloody skeleton variants even have 14 Charisma, so non-cantrips are at issue. The skeleton template notably does not mention spells or spell-like abilities, so in the absence of a rule specifically saying that a creature must have an Intelligence score (or otherwise not be "mindless") then I see no reason why a Bloody Skeleton Adult Gold Dragon would not have the usual spells and spell-like abilities due its hit dice.

Is there perhaps a published example of some other combination of subtype and template that might illustrate this issue?

Cyrad wrote:
No, because the Type heading of the template says "It uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.." Later in the text, the Defensive abilities heading says "A skeleton loses the base creature’s defensive abilities." Since the defensive abilities line is an explicit exception, the skeleton template overwrites the defensive abilities gained by the fire subtype.

Can you provide a published example of a fire subtype creature with the Skeleton template to verify?

Question is exactly what it says on the tin. Citation will be needed, as similar unresolved questions have recently been asked on /r/Pathfinder_RPG and RPG Stack Exchange. I'm posting here on the official Paizo board in hopes of finding a clear determination of the rules-as-written. The ambiguity arises from interpretation of the Skeleton template (Bestiary, pg. 251) concerning defensive abilities conferred by the fire subtype.

If you really feel like being a hero, you might also check out those questions and answer the unresolved issues being debated.

Thanks in advance!

We know from decades of experience that Dragons generally tend to have sizable hordes various treasure. We can deduce from the Bestiary (pg. 108–109) that Gold Dragons specifically like gems since they have spell-like abilities based on them. I know also that in my specific scenario the Skeleton Adult Gold Dragon was killed and raised by Villain the Wizard, whom in order to do such a thing must be competent and powerful.

From these assumptions we may conclude that any treasures that were particularly useful to a powerful spellcaster, or which were sufficiently small and valuable to be worth a powerful spellcaster's effort to remove, have been removed from the treasure.

What interesting trinkets might that leave behind to serve as treasure for the current CR 9 encounter with the Bloody Skeleton Adult Gold Dragon? For reference, the living Adult Gold Dragon would have been a CR 15 encounter, caster level 7th.

Scott Wilhelm wrote:

What is the manner by which Villain the Wizard gained access to the Fire MacGuffin to corrupt it? Did the Villain actually enter the Dungeon, defeat the traps and guardians, or did the Villain just find some magical way to influence the Fire MacGuffin from afar: astrally project, influence it through his crystal ball, something.

If it is the latter, then the Dungeon is a classic sort of vault/tomb full of undead and magically-charged traps and fierce guardians. If the former, then the original Dungeon has already been defeated, and this is the Sequel Dungeon. What did Villain the Wizard do when he defeated the Dungeon? Did he take up residence there, so the Dungeon is now the Wizard's citadel? Did he take the Fire MacGuffin with him? Does the party know that? How do the Dungeon Guardians feel about being beaten by this Wizard? Do you think they would side with the party defeat the Wizard so they can get the Fire back? Did Villain the Wizard actually defeat the Dungeon only to taint the MacGuffin and then leave it there? Did he reset the traps? Did he replace those traps with some of his own?

First of all, thank you for these questions! Thinking through the answers is really helpful!

I think the Villain physically went there because he needed to do something to corrupt the MacGuffin he could not do from afar. Being the patient wizard or lich that he is, Villain did remote scrying to find the place and while I'm at it let's say he's the reason previous adventuring parties were able to find the place and die there: he wanted information he couldn't get remotely for whatever reason, before going there himself. Upon defeating the dungeon, Villain did something to corrupt the MacGuffin and then left because he is not strong enough to destroy or remove it.

My major behind-the-scenes cosmic plot device for the entire campaign is that the Killing Frost of Ghulurak (a thing from 3.5 DMG 2) is beginning and corrupting the Heart of Flame is done to aid the process of bringing about snowmageddon. I was thinking the gearghosts could reset the traps, so there's no need for Villain the Wizard to have done so. But any still-intact guardians would likely be furious over what Villain has done, especially those that are themselves directly good-aligned or fire-attuned. As someone above eloquently put it, the MacGuffin which I have named the Heart of Flame is a crystallized mote of the Elemental Plane of Fire, responsible for empowering Fire on the Material Plane (or at least this particular world) and with its corruption such effects as purification, rebirth, and perhaps even things like magical healing will not function or will function in diminished capacity.

I think it might be neat to have that Gold Dragon Skeleton, suggested above, not be deep in the dungeon but right outside prowling around its rotting carcass. An adult only yields a CR 8 encounter if my application of the Skeleton template is right, and it would convey to the party just how powerful Villain is.

djdust wrote:
the macguffin is a cryatalized mote of the elemental plane of fire, so it manifests fire elementals, naturally.

Cannot possibly thank you enough for putting into words the impression I was trying to convey with this. :)

@Dastis I could see immortal beings like Angels or Archons having the excuse that they only showed up once they realized something was wrong but were not strong enough to clear the dungeon by themselves. Alternately, like you said, I could have demons or devils to represent fallen angels who were original guardians now corrupted.

An order of paladins sounds neat, but they as well as any other living guardian would need to either be transformed with a template or have a good reason for why they somehow survived the villain getting into the dungeon and corrupting the MacGuffin. Any thoughts toward that end?

THUNDER_Jeffro wrote:
So, my first question is who created the dungeon and put the Magical Fire MacGuffin in it? A dungeon created by a god or gods has an automatic list to pull from: the gods servitors. If it was by a race than undead or somehow preserved members of that race are a good choice. Constructs are also a good option for any kind of "guard the thing" scenario.

The dungeon was probably built by gods in the long ago, or at least elder beings of some kind like dragons or the like. I'll admit this is something I've not yet fleshed out. I had considered including a Monadic Deva as one of the guardians toward the end of the dungeon, but removed it from the list because it seemed out of place for it to be there — and still alive after the villain got past it. Can you corrupt/undead an angel?

Another question is what do you expect the overall level of this place to be? Are you making something in the vein of older dungeons where the deeper you go the deadlier things get? Because looking at your current list, CR 1/2 to CR 12 is a pretty big jump. Are you trying to assemble a list of monsters before determining how tough you want the place to be?

For the most part, the higher-CR things are meant to be solo encounters while most encounters will be multiple-creature affairs. The lower-CR monsters are intended to be combined with traps or other creatures to create encounter areas with backstory. As an example of the former, I intend for one CR 7 encounter to be a Roiling Oil and 4 Burning Skeletons — the remains of a prior party which died to the Roiling Oil some time in the past. I have also thought to show off the presence of prior adventurers by applying the CR ½ templates to some humanoids or monstrous humanoids that have racial hit dice; e.g., a group of 4 Bloody Skeleton Bugbears makes a CR 6 encounter, which could be combined with something CR 3 for a CR 7 encounter or with something else CR 6 for a CR 8 encounter.

I did originally start out with just looking for things that looked thematic and making a list, and as the result of that process I'm now thinking of shooting for an APL 8–10 party.

One other thing to consider is a lot of monsters can be modified to fit in a dungeon that has a Magical Fire MacGuffin with templates. Any cool monster can be affected with the Fiery Creature template if you want to stay first party, or the Fire Creature, Flame-Spawned Creature, or Element-Infused templates if you wanted to branch out to third party sources.

I'll be sticking to first-party Paizo stuff, but I'll definitely give the Fiery Creature template a look.

Hello world, it's been a while. I am embarking on my first attempt at making a big dungeon that has a multi-stage history to it, and I'd like your help to come up with design ideas.

Long ago, this dungeon was created to isolate the Magical Fire MacGuffin from the rest of the world. In my world, this MacGuffin is the source of elemental Fire in the world as well as the source of some fire-related abilities such as a Phoenix's rebirth and the cleansing power of fire to purify. At the time of creation, it had its own seals and traps and probably some fire-related creatures or constructs as guardians. Some time ago, its location was discovered and in the intervening time various groups died trying to loot the place. This has led to lots of corpses and loose loot, and perhaps some damage to the dungeon layout from adventurers and exposure to the elements. Recently, the villain successfully accessed the Magical Fire MacGuffin and corrupted it. This has caused problems throughout the world in general and here specifically it has caused many of the slain looters to rise as undead. Now, the party must fight through the remaining original guardians as well as the souls of prior adventurers in order to reach the Magical Fire MacGuffin and cleanse it.

CR ½ Bloody Skeleton, Bestiary 1 pg. 251
CR ½ Burning Skeleton, Bestiary 1 pg. 251
CR 3 Allip, Bestiary 3 pg. 12
CR 3 Shadow, Bestiary 1 pg. 245
CR 3 Wight, Bestiary 1 pg. 276
CR 5 Gearghost, Bestiary 4 pg. 123
CR 5 Unrisen, Bestiary 6 pg. 268
CR 5 Wraith, Bestiary 1 pg. 281
CR 6 Roiling Oil, Bestiary 5 pg. 210
CR 7 Psychic Stalker, Occult Bestiary pg. 45
CR 7 Spectre, Bestiary 1 pg. 256
CR 8 Greater Shadow, Bestiary 1 pg. 245
CR 9 Geist, Bestiary 4 pg. 124
CR 10 Pale Stranger, Bestiary 3 pg. 114
CR 12 Shining Child, Bestiary 2 pg. 245

After reading the history and viewing my creatures thus far, you'll note a problem: I've only included things that have recently come to dwell in the place — the undead risen from those who died trying to loot the dungeon, and a few other creatures drawn to the place because of its association with fire. I'm looking for things that might have been original guardians, either in their original form or corrupted/reanimated now that the Magical Fire MacGuffin has been corrupted.

I've heard of 1/10th, 1/20th, or 1/25th based on folks I have asked in real life. Is there any consensus?

I'm looking to give the party a pound of phosphorous and a pound of magnesium. Both items are weightless in the portions used for alchemy, so presumably a pound of them is a considerably bigger portion. How big should such a portion be? And how much should it cost? Without knowing a rule of thumb for how to add up multiples of a weightless item, I'm staring at a zero. Help?

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Everyone has suddenly found themselves surrounded by giants in broad daylight without being presented the option for a Perception roll, because that's how random encounters work. It's so common that it's a trope, and no one is ever surprised by it. This is not a thread for that kind of totally expected encounter. This is a thread for the more subtle, insidious encounters such as…

Flask of Roiling Oil (CR 6)
Thinking not to needlessly waste what remains of his arcane power on such a paltry foe, the wizard pulls from his pack the recently looted flask of acid and tosses it at the enraged rock troll. But instead of the expected eruption of caustic liquid when the flask bursts, a viscous black goo splatters across the surrounding floor in globs; meanwhile, the GM wordlessly adds a monster token to the battle map.

Spermy The Cat wrote:

Correct Answer: get better friends, ones who do not care so little for the value of your friendship that a disagreement about a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game puts that "friendship at risk".

Tossup between Regdar and Tordek.

Order of precedence is important, else you might forget to forgive.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is the thread, I'm the guy, and here's the trap:

Electric Conduit (CR 7)

Every round, 3 electricity discharges arc across the length of this 20-ft wide conduit. For each electricity discharge, roll 1d4 to determine which 5-ft. wide channel is struck. The entire trap may be disabled at a central location halfway up the conduit, and the individual channels may be disarmed at either end of the conduit.

XP 3,200
Type mechanical; Perception DC 15; Disable Device DC 25
Trigger location; Reset automatic; Bypass hidden disarm switch (Perception DC 25, Disable Device DC 30)
Effect 3 electricity discharges (3d6 electricity damage, DC 20 Reflex for half damage); multiple targets (all targets in a 120-ft. line)

CR Maths:
• Mechanical, +0 CR
• Perception 15, –1 CR
• Disable Device 25, +1 CR
• Reflex DC 20, +0 CR
• Average damage 31.5 (multiple targets, ×2), CR +6
• Automatic reset, CR +1

Do you folks think this is balanced for the CR? Too easy or hard? Is the description ambiguous? How could the write-up be improved?

swoosh wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
swoosh wrote:
The irony here is that the OP is complaining about longswords dying because of power gaming, when the reason they were so much more popular in older editions is because they were so blatantly an optimal choice.snip
I'll take your word for it re prior editions, but wasn't the long sword also IRL the weapon of choice for medieval warriors? So didn't the older versions of the game merely reflect a past reality that the game was designed to mimic?
Well, various flavors of longsword were certainly common, but I think 'weapon of choice' would more likely go to the bow, crossbow, some flavor of polearm or spear or firearm, depending on the specific period of time.

It also depends on what you mean by "warriors". If you mean the average fighting man who is fighting other men for land and a piece of cloth, then the weapon of choice is some kind of spear. They're simple, easy to make, require less metal, easy as hell to train people to use, and can be wielded in formation to great effect. If you mean landed nobles who can afford horses and metal armor, then one-handed swords of various styles from the gladius to the khopesh were extremely popular as sidearms supplementing the knight's proper weapon which was very much a Flavour-of-the-Decade arms race.

Quark Blast wrote:
Athaleon wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
swoosh wrote:
The irony here is that the OP is complaining about longswords dying because of power gaming, when the reason they were so much more popular in older editions is because they were so blatantly an optimal choice.snip
I'll take your word for it re prior editions, but wasn't the long sword also IRL the weapon of choice for medieval warriors? So didn't the older versions of the game merely reflect a past reality that the game was designed to mimic?
More or less, but the sword generally used with a shield was the arming sword, which Pathfinder doesn't really have. The arming sword was a dedicated one-handed weapon, a little shorter and lighter than a longsword, with only enough room on the hilt for one hand. As I understand it, the terms 'longsword' and 'bastard sword' mean basically the same thing.
OK, thanks for that confirmation. I saw Kingdom of Heaven about three years ago and it seemed a realistic presentation of the long sword. Definitely best to use it two-handed and with the full-attack option engaged.

Pathfinder totally has arming swords/side swords, and ever since 3.0 we have made fun of people who pick one instead of the mechanically superior rapier. But if you want verisimilitude, roll for anal circumference and then equip your trusty sword, short.

watching a dude talk to himself is p laffo

Buri Reborn wrote:
Ed, Pointless Argument Admissions Clerk wrote:

Yay! The Merry Go Round spins again!

sets up ticket booth.

What's awesome is there's now an argument over something that wasn't even an argument to begin with.

I'm a helper.

Rub-Eta wrote:

The problem is that his statment is based on an older version of the game and you try to counter it with rules that didn't exist back then, Flashblade.

His preference of the longsword isn't mechanical, not '1d8 19-20/x2' vs '1d6 18-20/x2'. You can't make an argument about his preference.

Also: It's kosher to let people know that you're necromancing a thread.

What is there to prefer about "longsword," versus "knightly sword," or "arming sword," or "greatsword," versus "claymore" or "zweihander," or any other label we assign to a collection of mechanics? That is literally all that defines a weapon in a tabletop RPG: its mechanics. You can call a one-handed 1d8/19–20/×2/Slashing weapon anything you want; in the D&D 3rd Edition-inspired systems it's a longsword, but that word—longsword—has been picked apart since it first appeared in a fantasy RPG as being an inaccurate misnomer; for, you see (and probably do not care), a "long sword" more accurately describes what D&D calls a bastard sword, and what we think of as a one-handed martial weapon is actually an arming sword or knightly sword or side sword or a dozen other things. The point of this little aside is that what we call a thing does not matter and is often nonsensical. And that's to be expected, because we're playing a game about magical elves and demons from outer space that can eat the world. You can call your one-handed 1d8/19–20/×2/Slashing weapon a Zork or a Quaalude if you want, and you can describe it as being a giant frisbee or a bladed shortspear or whatever else your mind desires; it doesn't have to be a "longsword" to be that one-handed 1d8/19–20/×2/Slashing weapon, which for whatever reason you have chosen.

And that's my point. You don't pick "longsword," because what you call your weapon doesn't matter a bit. The reason you pick "rapier" or "scimitar" in my above rant is because you want "piercing weapon I can use with Dexterity," or "slashing weapon I use with Strength". If you wanted a weapon that's thematically similar to a rapier but has a different damage profile, then you can just pick any of the existing ones and describe it as representing an estoc or an epee or some other rapier-like thrusting sword.

So what is there to "prefer," once you recognize that a weapon is literally nothing but a label and a mechanic? Does the guy just like the way the word "longsword" rolls off of his tongue, or the way it feels to type it? Perhaps he would also like a one-handed 1d6/18–20/x3/Piercing weapon called a "lozenge," then? Oh! Better yet, call that one-handed 1d6/18–20/x3/Piercing weapon a "long sword," or perhaps a "sword, long" to match up with "sword, short" entry in the weapons table. I just don't get it. What are people trying to say when they make statements like that?

Also: Why would anyone care if a thread has been necromanced? They can see the post dates if they for some reason matter. More to the point, why would one want to make a new thread about an old topic?

Torbyne wrote:
The swing on larger dice is too great, failing to disarm a trap and taking 3D6 damage is going to result in fewer dead PCs than failing and taking 2D20-1, in that a level 2 PC can drop into the negatives with 18 damage but is extremely unlikely to be outright dead. Not many level 2 PCs can take 39 damage and be saved. Although i do like the idea of a rogue failing to disarm a simple spring loaded dart trap and being immediately exploded into a pink mist in front of the completely dumb founded remainder of the party.

You made an error in your typing here which was pretty crucial for your point. 3D6 is an average of 10.5 damage, appropriate for a CR 1 trap. You are comparing it with 2D20–1 which produces an average of 20 damage, appropriate for a CR2 trap. The top-end of 6D6–1, which yields an average of 20 damage appropriate for CR 2 trap, is 35—only 4 lower than the top-end of 2D20–1. I would hazard to guess that a similar number of Level 2 characters would be dusted by taking 35 damage as would by taking 39.

If anything, the issue with the variance in large dice is more concerned with the low-end of damage than the high.

D6D–1 yields an average of 20 damage, yields exactly 20 damage 9.28% of the time, and yields at least 20 damage 56.64% of the time. 2D20–1 yields an average of 20 damage, yields exactly 20 damage only 5.00% of the time, and yields at least 20 damage only 52.5% of the time. These small changes may not seem like much, but when you extend the bell curves out from the center the changes become pretty drastic as shown in the image.


Consider the chances of a "20 average damage" CR 2 trap dealing at least 15 damage: with 2d20–1, the probability is 73.75%; with 4d10–2, the probability is 82.39%; with 6d6–1, the probability is 90.35%; with 8d4, the probability is 95.97%. Looking at it from the reverse, consider the chances of a "20 average damage" CR 2 trap dealing 10 damage or less: those probabilities are 13.75%, 4.95%, 1.00%, and 0.07%.

More, smaller dice results in less variance; i.e., consistency.

captain yesterday wrote:
Seems like a pointless argument to advance though.

The same could be said of any of the arguments anyone might make about any hobby ever, tbh.

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Flashblade wrote:
FallofCamelot wrote:

My Elven Cleric of Cayden Cailean use a Longsword rather than a rapier. Most of the Falcata/Falchion love comes from the idea that these are optimal weapons and sure they are if your main concern is crunching the numbers. However I reckon most people would choose a weapon that they like rather than what is the optimal.

What does that even mean?

It means that it was 4.5 years ago and they're not going to respond.

Someone else might, who wishes to advance the same argument.

Hi friends,

I've been a DM and player since 3.0 in 2004 or so, and I'm only just now really trying to get into the granularity of the much-maligned challenge rating system. In particular, I am looking at guidelines for custom monsters and custom traps, and a thing I keep coming across when I look at officially published things for examples is the unhealthy prevalence of the d6. Why?

Perhaps we should back up a bit. I'm looking at the rules for making custom traps in line with the CR system, and the GMG advises that the CR should increase by 1 for every 10 average damage. Simple enough, I suppose; though, since none of our default polyhedrons has an average result of 10, we must compromise. The most obvious would be to have every trap do damage measured in Xd20, and just tack on a -1 for every 2d20; i.e., a CR 2 trap could roll 2d20-1 for damage and average 20 damage. But for what is probably good reason we don't do that: 1d20 is a lot of variance, even if the average is close to what we want. So what do we use instead? For some bizarre reason, usually Xd6. Why?

3d6 gives us the same average result (10.5) as 1d20 with less variance. But why stop there? 4d4 gives us an average result of 10, which is actually our target number, with even less variance.

For a CR2 trap then, getting our desired 20 average damage we could do any of these:
• 2d20–1 yields the average result 5.00% of the time, with a range of 1–39.
• 4d10–2 yields the average result 6.70% of the time, with a range of 2–38.
• 6d6–1 yields the average result 9.28% of the time, with a range of 5–35.
• 8d4 yields the average result 12.35% of the time, with a range of 8-32.

Most folks would for simplicity's sake just say the average of 21 produced by 6d6 is "good enough" and call it a day. But why? And why, especially for traps where you can abstract everything as much as you like without invoking the 3rd-edition convention of D6=arcane and D8=divine, do so many effects that are not even spells go for a bunch of d6 instead of say d8 or d10?

I'm sure something like this has been discussed exhaustively, but a google query of "why d6" didn't really get me far. Thoughts? Links?

FallofCamelot wrote:

My Elven Cleric of Cayden Cailean use a Longsword rather than a rapier. Most of the Falcata/Falchion love comes from the idea that these are optimal weapons and sure they are if your main concern is crunching the numbers. However I reckon most people would choose a weapon that they like rather than what is the optimal.

What does that even mean?

Outside of its mechanical expression, a weapon is just an abstraction and this is obvious if you look at weapons that are almost mechanically identical. "This is a martial one-handed weapon that deals 1d6 damage for medium creatures and threatens a critical hit on an 18, 19, or 20" describes both a thin, lightweight piercing weapon and a heavy, curved slashing weapon. You pick the rapier if you want to use weapon finesse and/or if you want to take advantage of some class feature or racial proficiency, or you pick the scimitar if you want to use Strength to hit and/or if you want to take advantage of some class feature or racial proficiency. Want to be Elan the Bard? Rapier it is! Want to be a bard who is instead a Dervish Dancer? Scimitar time! You don't play the class that depends on having a scimitar and then choose to "like" the rapier and use that instead.

I guess you could make the argument that electing to play the Rapier-using-Build rather than the Scimitar-using-Build could be a choice based on preference rather than optimization? But once you have an idea of what you want to do, you don't go and then do something that makes it not work.

Back to the OP's question, it's mostly in my experience based on how many class features, archetypes, and so on, that allow a benefit for some other kind of weapon; moreover, Pathfinder has really expanded on making crits more impactful than in previous game versions. In previous versions you could only really take advantage of the higher-crit threat weapons with specific builds that use what we now call precision damage. Expanding the availability and utility of crits across more classes has lead to greater weapon diversity, and the old meta of longsword-and-something or 2h greatsword as a default for front-line martials has faded. Keep in mind also that Pathfinder has expanded on the total number and granularity of weapons. Back in the day a longsword versus a battleaxe was roughly an equivalent choice but you went with a longsword because thematically you are playing a good guy and swords seem more knightly and also because mechanically 1d8/19-20/2 is statistically better than 1d8/20/x3. But if you then scale up to 2h weapons, the gulf became even wider. 2d6/19-20/x2 on a greatsword vs 1d12/20/x3 on a greataxe is a no-brainer: 2-12 damage is just better, even without considering the variance of crits. Pathfinder introduces the Earthbreaker, which gives us the 2d6/20/x3 choice we didn't even have back in the day. And this sort of mechanical incongruence, which has been widely called "system mastery," let you to either take obvious trap choices or the just plain better option. There was no reason to take a 1d10 or 1d12 weapon versus a 2d6 one, with all other things equal, because they were just worse. The same sort of thinking trickled down to the 1-handers as well, with the longsword having the best average damage of the commonly available 1-handers for most classes that could use them. That this is no longer true results in people no longer using them almost exclusively.

Ah, thanks again.

Her Wisdom is 16. And thanks, kinevon

First, what are Lini's default traits for PFS? A google search did not reveal it as it did for Valeros.

Second, Lini's skill point total seems off.

At 1st-level, Lini has Int 12, which should afford her 5 skill points to spend—or 6 if she uses her favored class bonus for a skill point. At 1st-level, Lini has Con 16 and hp 11, so this seems to be what she did. So, Lini has 6 skill points to spend.

At 1st-level, she has the following Skills Craft (jewelery) +3, Handle Animal +6, Heal +9, Knowledge (geography) +5, Knowledge (nature) +7, Perception +9, Spellcraft +5, Survival +7.

That's 8 skills. Craft (jewelery) gets a pass, because of the gnome racial bonus. That still leaves 7 skills, all of which require a skill point investment in order to reach their stated levels. This pattern continues through 7th- and 12th-level versions of Lini.

Is this a longstanding error that has been addressed in the errata somewhere, or is there something I'm not seeing? Thanks in advance!

Deighton Thrane wrote:

You're right on the masterwork and +1 breastplate. But it costs 4000 Gp to craft a medium armor with Mithral, so it's;

mithral breastplate-4200 gp
+1 mithral breastplate-5200 gp

Ah, right. Gotcha. Thanks again!

I see! To continue your examples:

breastplate—200 gp
masterwork breastplate—350 gp
+1 breastplate—1,350 gp
mithral breastplate—1,200 gp
+1 mithral breastplate—2,200 gp

Is the above correct?

Hello friends,

I am having a disagreement with people based on how we have each always treated the cost of magic arms and armor.

Version 1: Base Item + Enhancement Bonus
Version 2: Base Item + Masterwork + Enhancement Bonus

Version 1 has a +1 longsword cost 2,015 gp.
Version 2 has a +1 longsword cost 2,315 gp.

Off the top of my head, I do not know of where to clarify this. The reasoning for Version 1 is that all magic items are assumed to be masterwork-quality already so the masterwork cost is included. The reasoning for Version 2 is that an item must first be masterwork before it can become magical, therefore that cost should be included.

Which way is the rules?

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