Gregg Helmberger's page

Goblin Squad Member. RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter. Organized Play Member. 486 posts. 26 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Organized Play character.

Listening to the podcast gives several examples of skill checks, and I'm strongly disliking what I'm seeing. The problems I have with them just from this example are:

1. Which skills one has appears to be subject mostly to background, ancestry, and class, limiting player choice -- I want to be able to grab skills at many points during the course of play.
2. Skill rankings appear to be very much in the 5e style, i.e. based solely on proficiency, level and characteristic, independent of player choice. This is a deeply, deeply unfortunate choice. It was a deal-breaker for me in 5e and it's a deal-breaker here.
3. The above two factors combined mean a far more rigid and far less interesting skill system.

I'm not entirely sure what the point of these changes are and how the devs perceive this to A) eliminate a problem in 1E, or B) constitute a substantive improvement over 1E. I'm hoping a dev could stop by and give some rationale for this, as right now it looks like A) change for the sake of change, and B) an active step toward a less customizable and less interesting skill system.

Thanks for your consideration.

Does anyone know of a good character sheet specifically designed for the Warpriest? One of my players is going to be rolling one up and she'd like a sheet that condenses all the relevant information onto a couple of pages or three. Any help would be appreciated.

The text of Improved Familiar states, "You may choose a familiar with an alignment up to one step away on each alignment axis (lawful through chaotic, good through evil)." On its face, this seems to mean that a True Neutral wizard/witch/whatever could have a familiar of any alignment, since even the extreme alignments (Lawful Good, Chaotic Evil, etc.) are no more than one step away from True Neutral on each axis (i.e. one ethics step from neutral to lawful, one morals step from neutral to good). Or am I reading this wrong?

I'm thinking of putting together a megadungeon-type setting, but I'm not sure what system to use. I love Pathfinder, but combats can take a long time and creating replacement characters (and face it, in a proper megadungeon you're going to need replacement characters) can be problematic at middle levels and up, given the amount of time it takes to craft one and the amount of time it takes to learn to play what you've just crafted. Therefore, I'm looking for something else.

What I want:
* A system with some degree of customizability in characters to allow for, if not system mastery in the 3.x sense, at least some player creativity and choice in character design
* A character creation system that can generate mid-level and up characters efficiently
* A combat system that's got some options beyond "I attack" but is faster than Pathfinder
* A reasonable buy-in cost, since I don't want to spend $300 on books imported from Estonia or someplace (no offense intended to Estonians, I could just as well have chosen Latvia for this example :-D )
* A more-or-less typical fantasy setting; while I'm sure Numenera is great, it's not what I'm looking for

What I do not want:
* A retro-clone; I played the old D&D when it was new and I am under no illusion that it was better than newer incarnations
* Savage Worlds; IME the system isn't robust enough to support a lengthy campaign

What I don't care about one way or the other:
* A d20 system; fine if I have it, fine if I don't
* A point-buy system; ditto

So, does the system I'm describing even exist? Any ideas?

I've just kicked off a rolld20 game of Carrion Crown, and I'm not sure how to do the Father Charlatan encounter. Obviously I can't tell one player to leave the room, nor can I leave the room -- we're one big happy video chat. Father Charlatan is a weird, not very good encounter to begin with so I don't want to dilute it any more than it already is by just running it with everyone knowing everything that's going on, or even with the sole affected PC typing away on text chat and everyone else in the video. Is there a satisfactory solution that others have found? Or am I better off just rewriting the whole durned thing?

My group currently consists of an elf enchantment-focused cleric of Calistria, a two-weapon-fighting ranger, a rogue, and a gnome fire elementalist. They're going to be joined by a dwarf druid with a bear companion. There will be multiclassing and I'll make sure they're 3rd level by the time they meet Nualia, so they'll likely be:

1. Elf Cleric of Calistria 3 (Lust and Trickery domains)
2. Gnome Fire Elementalist Wizard 3
3. Dwarf Druid 3 w/ bear
4. Human Rogue 2/Fighter 1
5. Human Ranger 2/Titan Mauler Barbarian 1 (or possibly Ranger 3)

With five PCs and an animal companion, it's obvious that I need to buff Nualia to keep her at the chapter-ending megabadass she needs to be, and there are, as I see it, three ways to do it:

1. Cleric 5/Fighter 2. This would give her third-level spells and another channel die but no iterative attack. She would probably concentrate on dropping a PC fast and then reanimating the corpse as a zombie.

2. Cleric 4/Fighter 3. This would give her an iterative attack. She would be the same as she's written in the book, but tougher in melee without any more flexibility.

3. Rebuild her from scratch as an antipaladin, which would make her a juggernaut with less spell flexibility and let me unleash the awfulness that is antipaladin.

Now I don't want to TPK the party but I've never been one to quail at a PC death or two, so I don't mind making her epically tough. Which build strikes the best balance?

I'm putting together a new group to play an AP, and for various reasons I've narrowed the field down to five (RotRL, CotCT, CoT, JR, and ShatStar...hehehe, I said "shat"). I'd be good running any of them and I intend to put it to a group vote as to which one we pick, but I'm wondering...

Now that lots of people have had a chance to finish the AP, do you feel that a group would get substantially more out of this by playing RotRL first? Of course the main thrust of JR is the epic journey, but the origin in Sandpoint and the ongoing relationships with the four main NPCs seem to me to make it pretty important to play RotRL first to get best emotional buy-in and commitment.

I know JR can be run without playing the older AP first, but should it? How much is lost by doing so? Is anything gained?

So let's say you had the opportunity to make one change in the current status quo of Golarion to make for interesting story possibilities going forward. Just one -- but it can be anything. Now sure, you can make a tiny change (Abrogail II dies and her son Bobby Joe Thrune takes over to continue her policies! There's a really big sandstorm in Osirion! The Pathfinder Society starts giving out cake for every completed mission!) but why bother?

No, go big or go home.

We're talking MAJOR changes. Maybe you want the Worldwound to be closed...or maybe you want it to bust wide open and swallow Numeria and now you've got mechademons to deal with. Maybe you want the Whispering Tyrant to run a jailbreak and establish an empire of the undead on the north shore of Lake Encarthan. Maybe Aroden's back -- and this time it's PERSONAL!

What's YOUR change? And just as important, WHY your change? And make it convincing -- the Paizonians read these threads, you know!

I've been toying around with a scythe specialist fighter and trying different builds, and I've come to ask advice. For the purposes of this discussion let's assume the following:

1. A human character
2. A PC
3. Using traits
4. Using options presented in the CRB, APG, UC, and ARG (as well as UM in the extremely unlikely event that something important could be found there)
5. A GM who likes to have opponents move around a lot, so mobility remains a factor and iterative attacks are not always assumed
6. Some degree of out-of-combat utility is obviously desirable, though I'm not wholly certain it pertains to this discussion
7. Access to MageMart is not assumed, so builds relying on a specific magic item (or items) aren't optimal
8. I'm perfectly fine with dumping a stat for RP purposes, but not for optimization, so don't assume I'll be willing to carry a 7 in anything

I narrow my choice to three broad possibilities: the standard fighter with no archetype, the two-handed fighter, and the weapon master. Are there others I've missed that I ought to consider, and is there one that's CLEARLY the best option? Likewise, is there one that's clearly the WORST option?

The base fighter remains a strong option primarily because of #5, above. The archetypes both give up armor training, which means wearing anything other than light armor limits mobility. Mobility is obviously not the only determining factor here, but many suggested fighter builds write it off far more readily than I'm comfortable with in my games. That's not to say armor training is inviolate -- it's just one important factor among many.

The two-handed fighter gets big points for increasing the damage of the scythe, and when you're using a scythe you're all about adding points to damage that can then be quadrupled on a crit. This archetype especially pump up Power Attack, and a scythe fighter should be Power Attacking at every opportunity. It also spreads its benefits out over the life of the character, which is nice.

The weapon master limits primary utility to a single weapon, thus cutting down on the fighter's martial versatility. However, since a scythe specialist will be using a scythe all the time, that's less of a problem. It gives a rapidly-escalating to-hit and damage bonus with the specialist weapon, which is good; however, most of the other archetype features seem underwhelming to me -- Weapon Guard is situational at best, Mirror Move is essentially useless when dealing with an uncommon weapon like a scythe, and the others, while nice, don't come until the typical campaign is either done or nearly done. Am I missing something here?

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One of the things I occasionally see bruited about by the powers that be (OK, mostly James Jacobs, but he's quite the power) is the idea of an AP where PCs are only allowed to play a single race -- everybody's a gnome, to use the example cited in the AP panel at the last PaizoCon. Personally I love the idea and I'd be thrilled with Paizo if they gave that a shot (with a single exception, as I'll get into below). But given that this topic is hanging around as something Paizo would enjoy taking on, I thought I'd start a discussion on which race might be best for such a treatment, as well as which one might be worst.

For me personally, I'd love to see an all-dwarf AP. The depiction of dwarves has remained essentially static for the whole history of D&D/Pathfinder -- more or less, everybody who plays a dwarf is either playing Gimli or playing a character who is a conscious reaction to that stereotype. Yes, yes, before people start citing exceptions to that, I know it's a grotesque exaggeration made for the sake of effect -- it's the internets, what do you expect? So if we can at least agree that the dwarven stereotype is a gruff, drunken, belching, bearded guy who runs around hitting people with an axe, I would suggest that the creative minds at Paizo could do a heck of a lot to subvert that and point the Golarion dwarves in a different, subtler, more interesting direction. I'd love to see their take on dwarven society as developed throughout a whole AP, I'd love to see them peel back the layers of the culture and figure out what makes these guys tick beyond an inordinate love of rock and an inordinate hatred of orcs, and really get into the differences between various groups of dwarves. Added to this are the facts that there are scads of fascinating story hooks inherent in the backstory of the dwarves, AND doing a dwarven AP would satisfy my clamor for an all-Darklands campaign.

As for the race I don't want, it's elves. Hands-down. For one thing they've already been a significant area of focus for an AP (Second Darkness). However, for me the more salient fact is that I hate elves. I mean I hate elves. I can't encounter an elf NPC without wanting to fireball the smug off his arrogant face. There's no threat to the elven race that wouldn't make me actively participate in it. Whenever I think of how orcs hate elves, it makes me think that the orcs aren't so bad after all. Having an all-elf AP is one of the very few things Paizo could do that would make me cancel my AP subscription, because I'd rather play a blind, one-legged, 5-point-buy kobold than an elf.

Another point is that, while a human-only AP would be the easiest for Paizo to pull off, I'd find it not all that interesting. I generally speaking play humans (bonus feat FTW!) but I think everyone playing only humans in a world with so many other races sounds a bit bland.

So, what are your thoughts?

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Disclaimer before we begin: the opinions in this post reflect the views of nobody but me. I don't claim to speak for a silent majority, a vocal minority, or any segment of Paizo's rabid consumer base except that segment composed of me and me alone.

With that out of the way, I have to say I think the way Paizo goes about writing APs could use some revision. As I understand it, the process goes something like this: A bunch of people at a very high level argue vociferously about what stories, settings, etc. should be used in an AP and who should write the various books. Those same people make their decision and one of them (as I understand it, James Jacobs in the past, and he and Adam Daigle going forward, but I could be completely wrong about that) supervises the project. Each of the six writer is provided direction for their book, which can range from the pretty specific to the pretty broad based on a huge number of factors including the specific AP, the specific writer, which of the six books it is, how much canon there is on the topics covered, and likely too many more to mention. Each of those six writers then goes their separate ways for a while and does a bunch of other stuff, then one day looks at the calendar, realizes the deadline is approaching, swears a lot, and gets writing. Presumably during this process there is some level of supervision from James Jacobs/other poobahs at Paizo (by the way, the Paizo Poobahs should totally be the name of the company softball team) but the six manuscripts are delivered in raw form, usually too long, sometimes off target, and occasionally not all that great, and then somebody (James Jacobs) spends long nights sweating blood trying to hammer those six pieces into a recognizable shape; since each of the six books has been written independently, that somebody has to ensure continuity between the divergent chapters, build the book-to-book segues, and make sure the whole thing hangs together as an AP.

Now, one can say, with considerable justification, that if the above process ain't broke, then it shouldn't be fixed and I ought to shut my big fat mouth. And that's perfectly fair. But I think there's room for criticism of the approach, and I point to the results as evidence. The above system (or, if I'm mistaken in my appreciation of it, whatever system they're using) has produced APs that range from brilliant (Rise of the Rune Lords) to a bunch of good adventures that don't make a good AP (Jade Regent) to wildly uneven (Council of Thieves) to frankly kinda bad (Second Darkness).

The problems in the less-than-awesome APs seems, from an outside perspective, to be at the very least exacerbated by the decentralized approach to writing. If a bad book is coming down the pipe, the poobah in charge may not know until it lands on his desk, at which point it's far too late. If the six pieces, however brilliant they might be individually, don't fit together well, the poobah won't realize it until he starts to hammer the rivets in, and again it's too late to change very much at that point with the printer deadline looming and the next AP needing work right then as well.

Is there a better way, a way that can produce a more even and coherent product?

As a humble suggestion, I submit the following. Rather than having six writers, you have three, with each getting a book in the first half and a book in the second half of the AP. For example, writer A might get books 1 and 5, writer B books 2 and 4, and writer C books 3 and 6. Then throughout the process there can be meetings (whether those meetings are in person, conference calls, wiki pages, or something else is almost irrelevant) between the three writers and the poobah-in-charge, where the writers update each other on the plots and progress of their books and advise each other of the stories they're creating. The advantages of this scheme would appear to be that writers can create subplots and storylines in the first half that they know will pay off in the second half because they'll get to pay them off; the writers can draw inspiration from and use elements of each other's work in an organic way; the poobah can have a better sense of how the pieces are going to mesh and where trouble is arising in process and can head it off in a more timely fashion; and the whole thing is more likely to produce not just good adventures but good adventures that tie into each other well and make a good AP. The main disadvantage is likely to be that it's harder for a writer to write two books than it is to write one, and this is something to consider; however, this is at least somewhat ameliorated by the fact that the writers are each writing bigger chunks of one story, rather than two wholly separate stories -- their subplots, characters, and even locations can carry over from the first half to the second half of the AP, allowing them to stretch things out more and create more sweeping, epic adventures. In addition, writing in close synergy with two other equally creative people can actually spur the creative process, and a writer might find himself getting inspired by the ideas of another and incorporating them into his own work, further decreasing the creative burden.

I'm sure there are excellent reasons why the above is really stupid and won't work and I'm a big dumb dummy who should keep his idiot opinions to himself, but I'd love to hear people on the inside of the process give their takes on it and what they feel would be the pros and cons.

Admittedly my search fu is weak -- WEAK! -- but I wasn't able to track down an official ruling from one of the good folks at Paizo on whether or not magical items resize themselves to adapt to the user/wearer/poor cursed slob. I've found discussions of this from previous editions, but nothing particular to Pathfinder. Has there been official word on this that I'm not aware of, or are we flyin' blind here?

Let me set the scene:

I'm running five players through Kingmaker. We're in the middle of RRR (the group has dealt with Grigori and the werewolf, they know about the trolls down south, and they've just discovered the Abandoned Keep) and we've done about 18 months of build phases.

The problem is, my players are growing heartily sick of the build phases.

Now, I know I could run the "Kingdom in the Background" option, but that's highly unsatisfactory to me for a number of reasons. First, I feel the kingdom building mechanics are the heart of the AP and what makes the AP different from anything else. Second, that would mean focusing on the events of the AP, which honestly are nothing to write home about (The Varnhold Vanishing is awesome, Blood for Blood is an abysmally-designed waste of paper and time, War of the River Kings is serviceable at best, and Sound of a Thousand Screams is good but such a complete and utter non sequitur that it may as well be parachuted in from a different AP) so rushing through the building aspects of the AP to get to it is sort of like driving 100 mph to get to a corn field in Nebraska. Third, the "Kingdom in the Background" option is unsatisfactory because large sections of the plot in the later books involve triggers and issues based in the mechanics of kingdom building, so removing those mechanics make those issues (the technical problems of absorbing large swaths of land, the different plot points that occur when the kingdom reaches a certain size or what have you) very much less interesting. Fourth, I'll be damned if I'm going to assume the onus of all the bookkeeping and decisions involved in kingdom building on my own shoulders -- if I want to do that, I'll fire up Civilization on the PC.

A complicating factor of the whole thing is that the players who are growing sick of the build phases are growing sick of them for different reasons. One player wanted the sort of intrigue that comes with a "Game of Thrones"-style setting, which isn't something that a frontier kingdom being built up from the raw wilderness can deliver. Another player is irritated that other players are taking up too much of the process and that she isn't the focus of the build phases because of her character's background (a cleric of Abadar), and that other players are getting too much attention in the roleplaying elements adherent to the build phases because of background choices they've made for their characters. A third player isn't much for deep roleplaying and enjoys the poking-things-with-sharp-bits-of-metal aspects of Pathfinder; however, all the players enjoy that aspect as well in some measure, and those aspects come less and less frequently as you explore all the land you can get to without getting slaughtered by wandering monsters or trespassing on your neighbors' territory.

That last point is genuinely significant, because no matter how I space out the plot events from the books, they need to be surrounded by game years of kingdom building to bring the kingdom up to the point where it can handle the events of the next book in the chain; this is something that's making everyone's skin crawl just at the idea of it.

This is not to say I've had nothing occurring during the build phases outside of the mechanics. Quite the contrary, they've had to deal with a wide variety of conundrums that they've all enjoyed, which have arisen from elements both in their characters and from outside events. Those have been the best moments of the game so far, IMO, but, again, nobody wants a steady diet of roleplaying at the expense of traditional adventuring activities like exploration and killing things for fun and profit.

Now, there are solutions to much of the above. The pedestrian and uninspired nature of the later books is easily rectified by homebrewing vast swaths of the books, which is something I'm fine with. So far the players have been generally very passive in expecting me to bring everything of interest to them, and them being more proactive in developing their own plot lines can make more interesting and involving things things occur during the time covered by the build phases. However, that still leave the crux of the issue, which is that the kingdom building metgagame is getting tedious and boring for them and they want more traditional adventure than I can deliver in the framework of the AP.

Having previous tried Curse of the Crimson Throne (and failed at it when the GM quit the group when we were 5th level), we don't want to abandon yet another AP at 5th level. However, I'm not certain that solutions exist for the problems we have. Can this campaign be saved? What do YOU think?

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I'd love to see rules on leshy companions. Those guys are just adorable.

I know that there are a lot of things in D&D/Pathfinder that simply don't bear logical weight. A society with prevalent magic would look NOTHING like the society of any fantasy world I've ever seen, because magic of the power, reliability, and utility of the magic presented in the rules and the settings would warp every level of society beyond all recognition. Relatively simple spells like Purify Food and Drink, Cure Disease, and Plant Growth alone would create a massive population boom if applied logically, as just one example. In other words, ya can't look too closely or the whole thing falls apart.

However, assuming the basic nature of humanity (and certainly dwarves and halflings, among other races) isn't wholly altered by magic, there's one basic law of existence that can't be broken without shattering disbelief: the law of supply and demand. Or, to put it simply, things aren't worth what some notional schedule of prices say they're worth, they're worth what people are willing to pay.

Consider, for our purposes, the diamond. Or, more explicitly, consider the 5,000 GP diamond. Now, by everything we know about human nature, a 5,000 GP diamond is not worth just one more GP than a 4,999 GP diamond, for the simple reason that a 4,999 GP diamond is a shiny rock, while a 5,000 GP diamond is a key to bringing dead people back to life. Diamond miners (or, more likely, the owners of diamond mines) know this perfectly well (unless somehow this information vital to their business interests is kept from them), and no doubt they have keen appraisers scanning every rock that comes out of their mines for diamonds that might meet the standards of size and clarity and color, or whatever else, that separates a 5,000 GP diamond from the lesser sorts, and so presumably he adds some amount for the raw diamond when he sells it to a jeweler for cutting.

Similarly, a jeweler applying his expertise to cutting the diamond would understand that he can get much, much more from the middle men who transport the diamonds to market for a 5,000 GP diamond than one worth just one gold less, and so he would need to be made of virtuous stuff indeed if he didn't pass along his additional costs plus a little something for himself when he sells them.

Likewise, the merchants transporting such gems to market incur extra risks by doing so, because every thief would know that the merchant might be carrying a vital component to a genuinely life-saving spell, and therefore extra security is required that simply isn't needed when carrying a bunch of garnets or tourmalines; who's going to pay for those costs if not his customers?

So, at every stage of the way, costs get added to a diamond that's notionally worth 5,000 GP that simply don't get added to one worth 4,999 GP. The question is, how much do those costs come up to when a PC goes into a gem shop in Campaign City and asks for a diamond suitable for use as the material component of a Raise Dead spell? Should a 5,000 GP diamond cost 15,000 GP? Or 20,000? Surely that's not too much for a chance to be raised from an untimely death. What's certain is that if the PCs balk at paying that much, the nobility, rich merchants, and other far-sighted folk would be delighted to snap them up, horde them, and drive up the prices even further (while ensuring their own access to Raise Dead, of course!).

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Well that's just awesome. Seltyiel scrubbing the deck in full armor is good for a larf!

No, not the minis -- they're generally awesome. I'm talking about the enormous package of refuse left over after pulling a single mini out of a big plastic tray that you've just pulled out of a bigger cardboard box that you've just pulled out of a BIGGER cardboard box. Is there any need for this enormous pile of waste (in both material and monetary terms) that's produced just from getting a single mini? There has to be a better way of doing business!

16 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the errata.

This question has been brought up on the boards but never gotten an official reply as far as I know.

As written, it looks to me like Boar Style, a feat a monk can get at 3rd level, produces a 2d6 bleed effect without a saving throw. Inflicting 2d6 damage that bypasses DR at the start of every round is excessive, so I think there must be something wrong there.

Compounding this is the wording of Boar Shred. Since all bleed damage is ongoing and happens at the beginning of the bleeder's round, what does the 1d6 bleed actually achieve? Bleed damage doesn't stack under normal rules. It says it continues if the attacker changes styles, but the Boar Style bleed doesn't say the 2d6 bleed from that ends if the attacker changes styles.

As I see it, there are two possibilities:

1. The Boar Style bleed effect happens only once, on the round after the attacker hits with two unarmed attacks, and can be avoided by timely application of a healing effect, whereas the Boar Shred bleed effect is a regular bleed that continues until stopped by healing or death, or

2. The Boar Style 2d6 bleed effect is an ongoing effect that ends if the attacker changes styles, while the Boar Shred 1d6 bleed is added to that 2d6 bleed and continues even if the attacker changes styles.

Of those, 1 seems much closer to being balanced (though still VERY powerful). Possibility 2 seems like a gamewrecker. So was the first interpretation what was intended? Or is there a third possibility I haven't even considered?

It's been established that the Lore Oracle Revelation "Sidestep Secret" replaces DEX for AC and Reflex saves, but it does not replace DEX for CMD. Given that this is established, what do folks reckon was the rationale for that? Is it simply a game balance thing, or was there some broader idea behind it? And what would be the game balance implications of house-ruling it so it did apply to CMD?

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You win.

From the first time I heard about "Jade Regent," I had no desire to play it, run, it, buy, it, or have anything to do with it. I don't give a hoot about Asian settings or tropes. I couldn't care less about samurai, ninjas, oni, or tea services. I'd rather have an adventure set ANYWHERE else on Golarion than in Tian Xia. But heck, I thought, it's only one AP. Money is tight and I could use the disposable income somewhere else, but I won't cancel my AP subscription for one AP I have no interest in.

So, the players guide comes out and I read through it and the rules for caravans and relationships seem very, very cool, and the quality of the guide knocks my socks off. So what? think I, it's not like I'll ever play the AP. Maybe I can adapt the relationship rules though.

Then "The Brinewall Legacy" comes and, after sitting unread a couple of weeks, I pick it up and flip through it when I'm on the can. Hey...this is a pretty cool adventure. Very well written, very clever, intriguing, and exciting. Too bad it kicks off an AP I have no interest in.

"Night of Frozen Shadows" arrives a couple weeks later and I read it. Dang, that's some good stuff. I mean GOOD stuff. I just wish it was part of an AP I wanted anything to do with.

Then comes "The Hungry Storm," and I read it and then reread it and think, "Oh man, this is awesome! It just sucks that it's part of this AP, because I'd love to run this."

And then "Forest of Spirits." I read it, my mind racing with how cool it is and how exciting and how much I'd love to run it and how much fun my players would have going through it --

And then I realize, of course, that I love this AP. It's amazing, amazing stuff. I want desperately to run it, and will do when my current Kingmaker game ends. You win. James, Greg, Jason, Richard, you win. You with your remorseless commitment to quality, your excellent writing, and your enthusiasm for the subject matter. I went from dead set against wanting the any association with what I was sure would be completely uninvolving (for me) to panting with eagerness for the next book to come out. I surrender.

Now fork over the last two installments and nobody gets hurt. ;-)

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Has anyone done a sheet for kingdom management that incorporates the additions from Jon Brazer's Book of the River Kingdoms? I want to use it but I'd prefer to avoid the trouble of writing my own sheet if it's already been done by someone who, unlike me, knows what they're doing.

In a game I'm currently playing, I've expressed a desire to have made for me a wondrous item that gives the effect of a continuous Protection from Evil on the wearer. As I read the cost (based on chart on page 550 of the Core Rulebook), the price would be 4,000 GP (spell level 1 X caster level 1 [since, as I understand it, the person enchanting the item does not need to be the one who knows the spell, and since Protection from Evil doesn't scale, there's no reason to have anyone higher than level 1 cast the spell for the enchanting] X 2,000 GP X 2 [for spells lasting 1 minute per level]. The GM believes this to be an extremely powerful effect for 4K GP, and he asked me to come to the boards for clarification on the pricing, since neither of us are experts in the proper valuation of magic items.

To clarify, we both understand that the GM can, by fiat, raise the price of anything; he's just not sure how much to raise it, or whether to raise it at all.

So, advice?

So here's the deal. I want to run Masks. I began the game once on tabletop and it was highly successful, but it fell apart when two players left the group due to real life needs. Now I want to take a crack at it electronically. I haven't made up my mind about whether it should be PBeM (run through Yahoo! Groups for file storage, since I loves me some handouts and play aids) or Skype with a VTT and with a Groups site for file storage. Frankly, I'm open to either one, and which one I choose will likely be determined by the response I get. I'm in GMT-6, though of course that doesn't matter for PBeM.

So right now I'm looking for 5-7 players. Obviously people who've never played the campaign are welcome, but I also welcome people who've played one or two chapters (I get the feeling that beginning Masks is far commoner than completing Masks).

As for me, I've been GMing and playing RPGs since about 1978. I've both played and run CoC as well as many other systems. As a GM I tend to be more on the storytelling and roleplaying side than the hard crunch side, but fortunately BRP's rules are sufficiently flexible and simple that hard crunch is seldom an issue. As mentioned I give lots of handouts. I also tend to roleplay my NPCs rather...exuberantly. Since I've run three chapters of MoN already and have given extensive thought to the others, I feel like I'm ready to roll with it right away.

For players, I'm looking for people who are reliable, who are not completely familiar with the campaign, who like to roleplay, and who understand that the core of CoC is investigation, madness, and death (and therefore will embrace those challenges rather than get upset when this notoriously dangerous campaign claims yet another investigator!). Familiarity with the system isn't required, since it's dead simple and I run it crunch-lite. As I see it, there are several near-certain TPCs in the campaign as written, and my intention is to modify them so that the players actually have a fighting chance of getting out alive (if not necessarily sane and unscathed), but, like I said, it's a notoriously deadly campaign in a game system known for being deadly, so the odds of you finishing the campaign with the character you began it with aren't great -- it's not impossible, but don't expect it!

As for the medium, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I don't have a preference, and I'll be willing to run with whatever I get the players for. However, I've never played a Skype game before, and there's a potential issue with my connection; it's high speed, but it drops very briefly (for less than a minute) anywhere from once every several hours to once every fifteen minutes -- someone more familiar with Skype gaming can tell me whether or not that's a dealbreaker. A Skype game would play once per week, most likely on a weeknight (US Central Time) for several hours: I could begin as early as 6:00 PM and go as late as 11:00 PM or so, so there's some flexibility. A PBeM game would expect posts once per day, though more often is of course acceptable.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have.

But I'm not sure this is the correct place for this thread. Basically, I have a question about whether I ought to run the game via Skype with a VTT or as a PBEM. I also have a question about which AP would be best to run this way. And lastly, I need a passel of players!

First things first. My preference would be to run things via Skype with a VTT, but I have a bit of a flaky connection. It's high speed, but I suffer from occasional and unpredictable dropouts that last a few seconds each. Sometimes these don't occur at all during an evening, and other times they happen every 20 minutes. My inexperience with Skype and VTTs means I don't know if this would be an issue or not. Any advice here would be helpful, since I will certainly play a PBEM if needful, but the pace of a PBEM is slow enough, and doing combat in a PBEM is dodgy enough, that I would rather avoid it if the Skype would work.

Secondly, which AP should I run? Practically it's limited to one of the first five, since I'm currently running a Kingmaker game, I'm playing in both Carrion Crown and Serpent Skull, and I don't have enough familiarity with Asian themes to do justice to Jade Regent. I'll rule out Second Darkness, since drow leave me cold, which means it's a choice of Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, Legacy of Fire, or Council of Thieves. I've never played or run any of them (with the exception of playing through a modified version the first book of CotCT in a game that fell apart). Do any of these APs have any features that would particularly recommend them for or against a Skype or PBEM experience?

And lastly, I need players. Four or five of them, in fact. I live in GMT-6 (US Central), which would matter for Skype but not for PBEM, obviously. I would plan on weekly Skype sessions lasting from 6:00-10:00 PM (give or take an hour on either end, so long as it's a 2 1/2-4 hour session and I'm in bed by 11:00) on a weeknight. If I go PBEM then I would want posts probably daily to keep things moving in that notoriously slow medium. I've been playing and GMing since 1978 (damn I'm old) and I'd be looking for people who enjoy roleplaying and who don't want to break my game with a funky unstoppable build.

OK, that's enough. Help me! :)

Has anyone posted audio of the Paizo seminars yet?*

*He asked, suspecting that they'd already been posted several times and he's been too blind to see them when they were right in front of his nose...

I'm sure this is old hat to these forums, but I'ma rant on them again because this is when I, the most important person in my world, have become offended by them.


Anyhoo, Pathfinder's CR valuation on traps is ludicrous. Since when is an open, yawning, and (presumably) stationary pit present the same challenge as a giant tick, a small elemental, or a second-level PC class character? I think one of the reasons that rogues are so often viewed as "useless" is that traps aren't as robust in Pathfinder as they ought to be (when they're used at all), which means that one of the rogue's signature abilities - finding and bypassing magical and mundane traps -- is of peripheral importance.

[crotchety old man voice]Back in my day -- 1e days -- traps were freaking lethal right from 1st level. Didn't find that trap? Make a new character. I admit that this approach was too far to the other direction, but it seems to me that Pathfinder has moved way, way too far to the other end of the spectrum.

And yeah, I know I can just slash the CR by half or whatever, but the problem comes when using published Paizo adventures. Traps are underpowered and overvalued, and since the point of using a published product is to keep from having to do the work your own self, having to comb through an adventure to systematically beef up the traps to present an appropriate challenge to the PCs defeats the purpose.


Ranty Foamatthemoutherson

What does "MAD" stand for? I know it means you need too many high stats to be viable (a complaint commonly leveled against the monk, for example). But what does the acronym come from?

*Gregg Helmberger is not afraid to admit -- nay, revel in -- his ignorance.

I'm considering a rogue when I start this AP in a few weeks. My current thought is for a standard two-weapon, finesse sort, though I might be swayed by the ideas of a Varisian who uses a bladed scarf.

My question is, would it be worth my while to do a one-level dip into Sorcerer (I assume the answer would be yes), and, if so, would it be worth it to do a four-level dip to get the second bloodline power and second level spells (much more problematic in my mind, since it means sacrificing 2d6 of precious, precious sneak attack damage)? And is this sort of build even worthwhile in this AP?

Does anyone know a site that archives portraits of fantasy characters for use in games (or anything else, I imagine)?

I don't know if this has already been talked about, but I'm getting a serious Black Company vibe off the last book in the AP, as described in the blurb. I mean, swap out Tar-Baphon for the Dominator and Gallowspire for the Barrowlands (neither one is a stretch) and you've got it. Is this just me? Have I been reading too much Glen Cook lately?

Please note that I don't think this is a bad thing. Far from it, in fact, as for my money fantasy doesn't get better than the Black Company books.

My group took a stab at CotCT, and we got through the first book before the GM flamed out and the campaign died. We all took a campaign trait and we all took pains to tie ourselves to the city in our backgrounds, and we successfully completed the first book without much trouble.


When we finished the book and Lamm was toast and we took stock of our situation, we saw that we had a decent amount of money, some skill to make our way in the world, and that Korvosa was a horrible, horrible, horrible place to live. The rulers (whether king or queen, rightful or usurper) were at best hopelessly out of touch and at worst outright evil. The city governance was cruel, corrupt, and contemptible at its best. The masses of the people were hopelessly poor, unskilled, disenfranchised, and so miserable that their lives seemed impossible to improve by any means we could ever command. The bourgeoisie was contemptible and eager to ape the latest Chelaxian vileness. Speaking of the latest Chelaxian vileness, there was a huge magical academy focusing on devil summoning that wielded vast power and influence. The few rich had their boot right across the throats of the masses of poor, racial discrimination was official policy. In other words, the place was a vast festering pimple with literally no bright spots. None of us could think of any reason to stay there other than the fact that the GM had dropped money on the AP and that was what it dictated. Had the campaign continued, we would have faced serious motivational problems in trying to keep our characters involved rather than just throwing up our hands, taking the couple of people we each cared about from our backgrounds, and moving someplace nicer (e.g. nearly anywhere not named Korvosa).

So, my question is, is this a problem of the AP and the city, or was the presentation of it flawed? I mean it when I say that each PC, even my relentlessly cheerful streetwise thief, was forced to admit at one point or another that the city would be better off burned to the ground and the heads of almost everyone with any wealth, power, or influence put on pikes. Is there something that the GM could have done that he didn't do to motivate us? Or does Korvosa really suck that bad?

So how does RotRL stack up to later APs? Is it still fun? Is it an enormous pain to convert it to Pathfinder from 3.5? Would a group only familiar with later APs enjoy it?

Thanks in advance for your input.

Dear Paizo,

It hasn't been a long love affair between us, but it has been a deep one (no, not a Deep One, that's something else entirely). Your product rekindled a love affair with The World's Greatest Roleplaying Game that had burned bright from the late-70s to the late-80s, but had grown stale as I began looking for more subtlety and flexibility in my RPGs. I didn't even think of it again until I heard about Pathfinder and loved the story of the plucky upstart cocking a snook at the multinational corporation. I checked out your product, and I loved it.

And I've loved most everything since. I'm now in two regular Pathfinder games and about to play my first Society game this weekend. And as great as everything else is (and I do mean that), the APs are what grabbed my attention the most and made me run the first canned adventure I've run since White Plume Mountain and the only published campaign I'd stack up against my homebrews.

But coming up we have Carrion Crown and Jade Regent. And the thing is, both of them worry me. I'm not interested in Jade Regent because, well, I don't care a whit about East Asian games -- but that's no big deal because I know you can't please everyone all the time and most people are slavering for it.

Carrion Crown is a different beastie though. As I mentioned, I've been playing for 30-odd (very odd) years, and I've gamed with a lot of different people and a lot of different groups. And I can honestly say that it would never have occurred to any of my groups to save werewolves or vampires from whatever was killing them. And why not? Because they're werewolves and vampires, that's why not. Even if we felt like it would be momentarily advantageous to have them not killed, we'd have realized that, hey, werewolves and vampires are evil to the core and utterly untrustworthy. They'd stick a shank in us and eat us the moment they had the chance. Because, you know, they're werewolves and vampires. It's what they do. You don't blame the scorpion for stinging, but you don't take it to bed either. You step on it.

Under no circumstances would any of us ever seriously entertained the thought of "helping unite the Werewolf King savage people,and risking becoming tainted by the curse of lycanthropy" or "saving the vampires from something killing them by exploring the vampires’ deadly society and indulging its blasphemous traditions." Why would it? It's not like they're trustworthy allies. If you save them, they'll still eat you, and if not you then some other innocent person that we're supposed to be protecting. You don't help the monsters, even if you think they have information you need -- you kill them, pilfer their belongings, and quiz their remains through magic. Because relying on monsters is worse than going it alone.

And beyond that, because we're the freakin' heroes and that's what the heroes are supposed to do. The heroes aren't supposed to coddle the monsters so that they can continue their depredations. They're supposed to kill the monsters, starting with the little ones and working our way up. No player I've ever played with would seriously think that allying with the monsters was what we were supposed to do; every one of us would see it as a trick to be avoided. No player I've ever played with would want to ally with the monsters. My current groups have read the plot summaries, scratched their heads and said, to a man, "Well wouldn't we just kill the werewolves and vampires?"

So, given that, convince me not to cancel my AP subscription for the next year. I don't care a snap for the fiction (I've never read a word and consider it a profound waste of pages). I know the monsters will be printed in a bestiary somewhere down the road. Why would I drop $20 a month on Jade Regent, which doesn't appeal, and Carrion Crown,, which doesn't even make sense?

Confused in Minnesota

My players will likely encounter Perlivash and Tyg-Titter-Tut tonight. What are some good tricks, pranks, and hijinks you've had these two playful entities play on your players?

Hi all,

After lurking on these boards for a while, I thought I'd throw something out and get some of the good advice I see passed around.

Inspired by the character of Silent from Glen Cook's Black Company series, I'm looking to create an arcane caster of the Wizard variety, with a twist: he never uses verbal components. I know this is possible through the Metamagic Feat Silent Spell, but obviously it's not practical to have a reasonable wizard memorize all his spells with that. Instead, what I'm looking to do is make a class who casts all spells silently. Since this is a significant advantage, what disadvantages would you suggest to balance it out? I should add I'm looking to create a single caster that does this (at least in my current game) and since he's intended to be a mysterious figure the players will likely never learn any of his magic or be able to take a class in his level. He will be a recurring character, however, and so I want to know his details mechanically and have him on a sound footing. So, thoughts?