Jeff Wilder's page

Goblin Squad Member. Organized Play Member. 408 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 Organized Play characters.

Liberty's Edge

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I play a gnome mesmerist (10th level now), and I had the good fortune to roll incredibly well for my stats (pre-mods: 12, 14, 14, 15, 15, 17), so in order to avoid pulling too far ahead of the group, I'm somewhat deliberately gimping myself.

What I'm looking for, therefore, are fun and useful magic items for mesmerists that aren't the standard Big Six. (With regard to Big Six items, I'm restricting myself purely to what we find as a group.)

So, for instance, I bought a shadow falconer's glove the last time we had a chunk of change and the chance to shop. It's not a powerful item, but I like the visual, and it seems fun. (And it could be useful!)

So now I have about 13,500 gp to spend, and I'm looking for another item or two in the same vein. Fun, flashy, and interesting ... but not contributing directly to the strengths of the mesmerist.

Limited to official PFRPG books, but any of those are fair game.

Liberty's Edge

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So I made a change to the final battle with Munasukaru. (Actually, I suppose, two changes, but one was almost irrelevant.) It worked out really, really well. Without these changes, my players would have steamrollered her. As it was, it was a tough, scary fight, but they escaped (barely) without a fatality. (I should note I have six players with 25-point-buy PCs, but they do not have a full arcanist or cleric. They have plenty of healing, but not much in the way of utility magic.)

(1) I decided the SotBP would retreat to Munasukaru when reduced to 40 HP and make a last stand there.

(2) I added eight magical prayer wheels to the walls above the pit overlooking the kimon. (So they are embedded in the walls, spinning 30 feet above the floor of the pit.) While spinning, these prayer wheels give Munasukaru the following bonuses:

+6 AC, regen 12/-, DR 8/-, +6 damage, +6 attack, SR 18.

I divided the bonuses up and randomly distributed them among the prayer wheels. E.g., one prayer wheel, if stopped, might give a -1 att, -2 regen, and -1 dam. The upshot is that if all the prayer wheels are stopped, Munasukaru has no bonuses left. (To facilitate play, I made a chart of which bonuses where associated with which prayer wheels, and made tick-marks for "effective penalties" (because I incorporated the bonuses into her statblock).)

While even one prayer wheel spins, Munasukaru cannot die or be disabled. When she is in "disabled" territory, she is staggered.

Two ways to stop a prayer wheel (must be adjacent):

(1) Knowledge (engineering) DC 22 to pick a spot to jam; jam with anything with hardness 4 or higher. (This ruins a non-magical item.) These are move and standard actions respectively. I allowed one PC to do each action.

(2) Knowledge (religion) DC 22 to recognize the glyphs on the prayer wheel; recite counter-prayer. Again, I made these move and standard actions respectively, but I did not allow them to be split between PCs.

Anyway, as I said, it worked out really well.

Liberty's Edge

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As a lawyer, I'll point out the contradiction in the OP's thesis.

On the one hand, he argues that someone interpreting the rules shouldn't do it as a lawyer, but rather with consideration of intent. (As an aside, lawyers are absolutely trained to research and argue intent behind laws. So a lawyer interpreting rules "as a lawyer" will be considering intent.)

But on the other hand, he argues that flavor text should carry no weight when it comes to the mechanics.

The contradiction is that flavor text is very often an indication of the intent for the mechanics. If the OP thinks intent matters when interpreting rules, then flavor text matters.

Liberty's Edge

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Once every two weeks for about 12 years now. During some of that time, I've been a player on alternating weeks; second games have been somewhat sporadic, but mine has been pretty much continuous.

I wouldn't say that I enjoy GMing more than playing, but I will say this: if I haven't GMed for a while, even though I'm playing, I get antsy. If I haven't played for a while, but I'm GMing, I don't.

So GMing is more like a need for me than a want.

Liberty's Edge

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Personally, I think most folks vastly overestimate their Goodness. "Good" requires action, not just a general self-assessment of tolerance and altruism.

A Neutral person will generally hold preferences for tolerance and altruism, because when people are tolerant and altruistic, it's much easier for everybody to enjoy their own lives.

If a person is truly Neutral Good, that person is actively philanthropic (or, in an FRP society, sometimes recklessly heroic).

I'm tolerant and altruistic (for example, I don't resent paying fairly high California taxes), but not actively so. I don't do charity work, and only give to charity on the occasional impulse or when I need to get stuff out of my house. I'm a decent person.

Therefore, on the Good-Evil axis, I'm Neutral.

I believe that, overall, rules and structure make life better for everyone, but on the other hand, I strongly believes that individuals deserve protection from the majority, and that unjust (or just plain stupid) laws should be ignored.

Therefore, on the Law-Chaos axis, I'm Neutral.

Liberty's Edge

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The 4:1 ratio is loosely based on the info WotC shared, dated from many years ago when they were developing 3E. If I remember correctly, it was actually higher than 4:1; I lowered it as a better ballpark just because of my own experiences with all of the gamers I know personally (40 or so), combined with those I've spoken to at cons.

John Ketzer wrote:
tell me why this is true for me?

The really interesting things about having power (even the nerdy ridiculous power a GM has) are that: (1) nobody can force you to exercise it, (2) you can delegate it to other people, and (3) it exists even if you're not aware of it.

Liberty's Edge

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Jeff Wilder wrote:
So, since everyone agrees, we can stop wasting time talking about it, and we can move on to what happens when compromise and discussion fail.
Then I have only one question: Why in God's name are you playing with people with whom you cannot have a discussion?!?!

That is not what I said. You literally quoted what I said, and then paraphrased it into something completely different.

"A discussion that fails to reach compromise" is not the same as "unable to have a discussion." If you can't see the difference, or if you can't understand why the difference matters, then I'm not sure what else to say to you.

Liberty's Edge

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My position is simple:

"A player/GM should never have to play/run a game in which his or her enjoyment is outweighed by non-enjoyment. The player/GM does not need to justify his or her decision to anyone else."

Does anybody disagree with that?

If a player and a GM don't agree on an issue that would cause each one's non-enjoyment to rise to the level of "not playing," what happens?

One group here argues that the GM should sometimes concede and run the game, despite the GM's non-enjoyment.

Another group here argues that the player should sometimes concede and play in the game, despite the player's non-enjoyment.

My argument is that "A player/GM should never have to play/run a game in which his or her enjoyment is outweighed by non-enjoyment. The player/GM does not need to justify his or her decision to anyone else."

In the real world, because GMing takes more commitment and more effort than playing, GMs are scarcer. In the real world, in most games, the player:GM ratio approximates 4:1. In the real world, if the player elects not to play, the game can go on. In the real world, if the GM elects not to play, that game isn't happening.

This is a power imbalance. Folks here have argued that it's an "unfair" power imbalance, or that the GM should be "sensitive to it," or whatever, but what those arguments logically boil down to is that they believe a GM should be forced to GM a game ... or at least to justify his or her reasons for non-enjoyment to someone else to be vetted for reasonableness.

The power imbalance is real. It is part of the real-world dynamics of most RPGs, and it is baked into, and codified by, most RPGs.

Ultimately, however, what it comes down to is this: "A player/GM should never have to play/run a game in which his or her enjoyment is outweighed by non-enjoyment. The player/GM does not need to justify his or her decision to anyone else."

You either agree with that statement -- in which case the logical real-world result is that the GM has more power than any individual player -- or you don't agree with that statement, in which case you must believe either that (a) a GM can be forced to run a game he or she doesn't enjoy, or (b) a GM can be forced to justify his or her non-enjoyment to a "reasonableness standard" to someone else.

Liberty's Edge

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Scott Betts wrote:
Absolutely. We've spent pages acknowledging that the GMs have just as much right to enjoy the game the way they want as the players do!

Except you've also decided that you get to be the one that decides how much enjoyment the GM has to give up. You are the one who gets to pass judgment, apparently. "I've decided that this GM is making this decision unreasonably, instead of being properly flexible." Or, if the GM in question is lucky, like me, you get to be the one to pronounce a game decision "reasonable."

Why do you get to decide that?

In the response to my earlier post asking who gets to decide, you said:


The GM, of course.

I just think that a lot of GMs aren't actually making these decisions based on what would or wouldn't make the game actually unenjoyable or uncomfortable for them, but rather based on a desire to continue to assert total control of their setting, and to avoid having to experience a game which is slightly out-of-step with their ideal.

Which is exactly the same as:


The GM, of course.

[Unless I think it's unreasonable.]

You really don't see the problem with that?

If a player isn't going to enjoy a game, the player has the right to decide not to play. It does not matter how unreasonable Scott Betts thinks his decision is. The player does not have to justify his decision; the player only has to balance his enjoyment of a game he thinks is flawed against not playing in that particular game, and whatever decision that player reaches is right for that player.

If a GM isn't going to enjoy a game, the GM has the right to decide not to run that game. It does not matter how unreasonable Scott Betts thinks his decision is. The GM does not have to justify his decision; the GM only has to balance his enjoyment of a game he thinks is flawed against not running that particular game, and whatever decision that GM reaches is right for that GM. (And yes ... the work the GM puts into a game does factor into the "Enjoyment Equation.")

You are insisting not only that the GM's enjoyment-impairment reach a certain threshold (one that is still kinda hazy), but that you get to decide what that threshold is. You don't, Scott. Nor does Adamantine Dragon. Nor does anyone else ... except that GM.

Look, it's great that you think my dislike of Evil PCs is "reasonable," but you don't get to decide that for me. That decision is mine. It is not "entitlement" (in the bizarrely derogatory way it's being used here) to make a decision one has the right to make. It's only acting "entitled" when one insists on trying to force a decision someone else has the right to make.

I simply don't understand why you think you get to be the arbiter. It's completely baffling.

Liberty's Edge

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Well Jeff, if you guys keep running into this issue, then I stipulate quite directly my group games better than yours.

(1) "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

(2) "If you guys keep running into this ... " Even though I said, maybe two posts up, that it almost never happens. Yet another: "My game is too good for you" post.

(3) Obviously some people do have significant problems with player-entitlement (or believe themselves to be entitled, which is the same issue from the player's POV).

In which case, yes, your group is probably a better group, but that doesn't mean you are superior to the person asking for guidance or opinions, however much you keep saying so. (Deny it all the like, but when you keep calling other people "absolutist nutcases" and similar, it's exactly what you're saying. And you know it.)

And if you don't, then what the hell is this argument even about? Other than rhetorical chest thumping I mean.

(1) It's about which party -- the GM or the players -- has ultimate authority over the content of a particular game. Not over the activities of a gaming group. Not over the people comprising that group. Over the content of a particular game.

(2) Rhetorical chest-thumping is fun. Literal chest-thumping hurts my knuckles.

Liberty's Edge

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Of course there's a winning argument.

Consider Player1. Consider GM. They get along well. In addition to Player1, there are also Player2 though Player6, who have their PCs and are ready to play.

Player1 comes to GM with Concept X. GM nixes it. Player1 and GM discuss it, reasonably and at length. They cannot come to an arrangement. Eventually their positions are:

Player1: I don't feel like playing unless I can play Concept X.

GM: I don't feel like GMing if I must accommodate Concept X.

What happens? Assume both Player1 and GM are being truthful, non-passive aggressive, and non-acrimonious. How does it shake out?

There is a clear outcome here, however much some of y'all obviously really, really, really wish it were something different.

Liberty's Edge

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My buddy and I were playing WEG Star Wars at GenCon about 12+ years ago. I was playing a GM-provided Jedi who was described as smarmy, cocky, and good-looking. When it came time to introduce our characters, I read what I'd written on my table-tent: "The Tom Cruise of Jedi."

My buddy snapped, "You can't handle the Force!"

26 years ago, I was in a Fantasy Trip game set in the Empire of the Petal Throne. For some reason, we had to shrink down in order to fit into a solid-gold fountain that was a perfect replica of a lost city. My friend Steve -- a Southern Baptist minister, a DM, and (in this game) a fellow player -- said that if we went into the fountain where it sat in the courtyard, we'd be exposed to our enemies.

The GM piped up, "The fountain probably weighs at least 6,000 pounds."

I looked at my character sheet and said, "I don't have the strength to move this fountain."

The table cracked up. I was bewildered. I got the (completely accidental) pun about fifteen minutes later.

Liberty's Edge

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Coup de grace is only inherently evil when pronounced incorrectly. Worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. Worse than biting into aluminum foil. Worse than scraping two marbles together. Worse than Taylor Swift's mus -- well, no, okay, it's not worse than that.

Liberty's Edge

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Every generation thinks the next generation is soft and entitled.

CRO-MAGNON: Man, those Neanderthal guys with their frou-frou 'fire.' In my day, we ripped the loin from the mastodon with our teeth and swallowed it raw and we liked it.

But RPGs have changed significantly. PFRPG, by dint of being far more structured with vastly more specific rules, implicitly gives more power to players. If you read stuff by Tweet and Cook and others, you can see that this was, at least to some extent, intentional.

And I'm in favor of it. I'm a lawyer. I like rules. All else being equal, I think rules are a benefit.

The problem is that because players have been given a much stronger codified framework (as opposed to what a 1E DM may have just kept in his head) and a staggering number of rules-legal choices, players think that the GM's power and say over his or her game has lessened. Players think that "power in the game" is a zero-sum proposal, so if they have "more," the GM must have "less." It's not true, and the 3E designers never intended that interpretation of the gift they were giving to players.

In 1E, a player actively and explicitly had to go to the GM to ask how to do something, in-game, because it simply wasn't codified. From the player's perspective, this meant the GM had immense power.

In 3E, so much of that stuff is codified that the players no longer have to go to the GM to ask how to do something. They can look at the rulebook.

What players don't realize is that the real power inherent in being a GM is, and has always been, "can my PC do this?" (with the answer depending on many, many factors, not all of which the player will or should be privy to), rather than "what is the rule to do this?"

Because players now don't have to ask, "what is the rule to do this?" they have forgotten -- sometimes, IMO, very purposefully -- that the full question is, and always has been, "what is the rule to do this (if it can be done in the current situation in your game world)?"

I'm sorry, but "if it's rules-legal, I get to do it whether the GM likes it or not" is an expression of entitlement. Its one that I never saw -- literally never -- when I was playing and running B/E D&D and AD&D, but see all the time in the current era.

It's not that players-as-people have changed or devolved or just aren't as good people; if 3E existed in 1980, players would feel as entitled as they do now. Given my limited experience as a GM back then, as a player I probably would have felt it, too. And I'd have been just as wrong as "entitled" players are today.

Liberty's Edge

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If I weren't a control-freak, I wouldn't be willing to put in the large amount of extra time and effort it takes to be a GM (even when using published adventures), as compared to being a player. For that extra time and effort, I get to control my game.

IMO, BTW, GMs that aren't controls freaks are almost always the most mediocre GMs. The worst GMs are usually control-freaks, and the best GMs are usually control-freaks. The very concept of "GM" (being literally the only conduit between the in-game environment and the players' perception of it) renders this almost entirely self-evident.

Liberty's Edge

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When it's really, really, blindingly obvious that the PCs are going to die if they stay and fight, and they're only staying and fighting because they're PCs and PCs hate to be pussies, I'm not subtle about it at all. I'll ask for a Wisdom check, DC sometimes as low as 5, and any character that makes it knows that if they fight this fight, they'll die.

I really dislike killing PCs. TPKs actually send me into brief depressions. But without risk to the beloved heroes, IMO, the game isn't fun, so ...

Liberty's Edge

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In dungeon situations, we have a shorthand. I was a dwarven rogue named Pagrym in our last dungeon crawl (Castle Whiterock), so we would say, "We're Pagryming the door." (The gerund changes based on the trapfinder's name.) In our shorthand, that means:

* Ranged combatants are covering the door from 20 to 30 feet back.
* Pagrym is alone at the door.
* He checks for traps at Perception +X+trapfinding.
* He listens at the door at Perception +X.
* He checks carefully to see if the door is openable (i.e., not locked or barred).

Then we move into our "unknown door" formation and eventually open it.

My new character, for RotR, is an inquisitor with the Exploration subdomain, so he's just gonna put his hand on doors, concentrate, and have a look inside!

For miniatures, I too have an occasionally annoyingly metagamey group. I've gotten in the habitof going around the table every so often and just asking them to position their miniature where they currently are and tell me what they're doing. Usually it's just to get description out, but sometimes it matters for surprises and ambushes.

Oh, and when my group metagames stuff like monster abilities and resistances, I just ruthlessly change them.

(I should say that my group doesn't do it on purpose. We've just all played so long, and we're all huge rules nerds, so knowing that you need cold iron for demons and silver for devils is, for us, just like knowing that falling speed in a vacuum is 10m/s/s. You just know.)

Liberty's Edge

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I don't think it was "mean," but I don't think it was correct.

The AC 10 number for Aid Another is just a target number, and doesn't have anything to do with the opponent you're facing. That's why it's always "AC 10." The basic idea is, "You need to show at least this much skill before you can provide meaningful aid in a fight."

Think of it as "DC 10, using your full attack bonus."

Liberty's Edge

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I was so shocked that players wouldn't run, in my Eberron game several years ago, that I had to type up a freakin' mission statement and send it out to the players. (It was really only for the two players who stood their ground against a Huge dragon, because the rest of the players would run in extreme circumstances, but I sent it to everybody.)


Here are things that I should have made explicit a long time ago. Think of this as my "Metagame Contract" with my players. Please feel free to comment or suggest changes.

Although I edited it, I stole the idea for this and parts of it wholesale from a post online. Other DMs should feel free to steal it from me and edit it (or not) for their campaigns.

* The DM is never -- *ever* -- playing "DM vs. Player."
* Some encounters will not be winnable through combat.
* Sometimes the PCs will have to run to survive.
* Retreat will usually, but not always, be possible.
* Sometimes the PCs will have to surrender to survive.
* Surrender by PCs will usually, but not always, be honored by enemies.
* Sometimes the PCs will be insulted and even humiliated by enemies.
* The DM is not out to kill PCs. The DM dislikes killing PCs.
* PCs can die. Bad luck, bad tactics, foolish behavior, and even fair fights can kill PCs.
* Cool and heroic actions will usually not count as bad tactics or foolish behavior.
* Good storytelling involves setbacks, and those setbacks can sometimes be very serious.
* Good storytelling also involves PCs bouncing back stronger from serious setbacks.
* The ongoing goal for the campaign is good storytelling.
* The end goal for the campaign is success and heroism for the PCs.

Liberty's Edge

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:
It's at least in part because ciretose doesn't seem to assume that someone is intentionally misreading his intentions. That helps a lot.

Probably. That's not a help for me, because I actually get at least as annoyed by sheer dumbness. Back in law school, my partner and I would win our mock trials, but in literally 75 percent of them, her notes from the judge and jury would be things like, "Be more confident," and "Make eye contact." Mine would be, "Try to hide your contempt just a little better."

Liberty's Edge

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:
And if the player simply says "Hey, that's not really my thing, but if you want to come up with something for me, I'm more than happy to let you."

It doesn't look like anybody else is going to say it, so I will.

I'd say, "We're not a good fit as gamers. I wish you the best of luck with your next group."

It should be obvious that this is a different guy than a guy who refuses out of a sense of player-entitlement, but the end result is the same (for me and my group; obviously YMDV): gamer breakup. I want players in my game that are engaged beyond the mechanics, and as a player, I want a GM who wants players that are engaged beyond the mechanics.

EDIT: And, BTW, unless I missed something, cirelose's entire point here was that he was attacked as being unreasonable for requiring players that are engaged beyond the mechanics. It was fascinating how people kept flipping it around so that he was portrayed as the one attacking how other people played the game, but that's not how it was.

Liberty's Edge

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littlehewy wrote:
My experiences in learning martial arts (while not huge) and in other areas that require physical improvement such as jazz music, suggests that feedback from a teacher or mentor is invaluable, and irreplaceable, for improvement.

"Irreplaceable"? Really? You wanna give that some thought and decide if you wanna stick with it?

Liberty's Edge

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Irony blindness cannot be cured with a third-level spell. Maybe remove curse would work, I guess.

Liberty's Edge

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Avatar-1 wrote:
How do you talk about what level you are in real life?

Typically, people look at "years of experience."

Unfortunately that doesn't work in the game, because (depending on the adventure and the GM) getting to 15th level might take 15 in-game years or it might take 15 in-game days.

Liberty's Edge

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
I'll admit I never understood why so many people are so very strongly against multi-classing to begin with

I think the multi-class thing was just the context of the original dispute, and doesn't really have anything to do with the actual issue. Speaking for myself, as a GM for literally 15 straight years, twice a month, I require all mechanical decisions to make sense within the context of the world I'm running. It's fairly rare that there's any question of a rules-legal choice making sense, and I can't remember the last time there was any actual dispute over it, because all I have to do is ask, "How did that come about?" and my excellent players give me a rationale that's good enough.

But if one of them ever came back with, "It doesn't matter, because it's rules-legal, so I can do it," I'd literally laugh in his or her face.

(BTW, I also do some stuff to incentivize multi-classing. I use a Base Magic Bonus (analogous to BAB), for instance, to allow caster level to stay relevant when spellcasters multi-class. I've certainly got nothing against multi-classing. It just needs to, you know, make some sense. Like every other mechanical decision that hits my table.)

Liberty's Edge

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Again, the rules of the world go far, far, far beyond the rules of the game. An action or character choice can fall squarely and undeniably within the PFRPG rules ... and yet still be prohibited by the environment and situation within the game world.

The continuing statements that "if it's allowed by the rules, the GM can't stop me from doing it" is patently ridiculous. Illuminating, but ridiculous.

Liberty's Edge

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Katz wrote:
Roberta Yang wrote:
I too am appalled that players might want to do cool but unrealistic things in my game about elf wizards fighting dragons.
Or pop-culture Ninjas, Monks that can punch through things as if their fists were magical and made from cold-iron, silver and, adamintine, and Summoners who have trans-planar pets.

Y'all are aware that it was the OP who brought up real-world physics in his call for knock-back, right? That, in fact, this thread is entitled "Knockback - A Question of Physics"? That, furthermore, several people in their responses said that real-world physics wouldn't necessarily bar something from the game?

I only ask because AFAICT you didn't bother to read the thread before sniping in it. And who can blame you, really, when one-line sarcasm just makes you look so cool and sophisticated, like the Internet version of Kool menthols? (Oooh, so refreshing!)

Liberty's Edge

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Kazaan wrote:
What happens if his reason doesn't satisfy the GM? Are you going to say, "Your RP is invalid, multi-class denied"?

Since the world is mine to present to the players, if the player is not willing to behave as if the world actually exists and has events, rules, and constraints, yes, I'm going to deny it.

In the real world, I'd suggest delaying it until there's some way it fits within the world -- and my world's rules are much, much more than the game's rules; it's incredible that this even needs to be said -- or suggest other alternatives, or, if I can think of something, suggest possibilities to make it work now.

The GM's job is to adjudicate the rules and narrate the story.

My job? Really? Given the level of effort and dedication the "GM's job" entails, compared to the other players, what do I get out of it, compared to the other players?

If you want to do something like limit what and how players can multi-class, don't just drop it on them in the middle, establish it from the start.

Again, the rules of the world -- including the current in-game situation -- are vastly more voluminous (and sometimes more restrictive) than the rules of the game.

A perfectly reasonable and explainable advancement choice in one situation can be unreasonable and bizarre in another, just as a perfectly reasonable and explainable action choice -- hitting a big dude with a sword -- in one situation (a dungeon's anti-paladin) can be unreasonable and bizarre in another (a tavern's barkeep).

A perfectly reasonable and explainable action in one situation can even be impossible in another situation, and it doesn't matter that the rules allow you to do that action, because the world does not.

The implication of the post I'm responding to that anything allowed by the rules must be allowed by the in-game environment and situation is ... well, it's somethin'.

Liberty's Edge

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Let's just ask it this way:

(1) Last level you were a barbarian. This level you became a wizard.

(2) Is it reasonable for a GM to require you to be able to explain, truthfully and in character, how that remarkable change of focus and skill-sets happened?

If my character asks your character, you should be able to tell my character. Yes, you might lie, or you might refuse to answer, or whatever ... but you should be able to tell how it came about, because you as a player should know.

That is really all ciretose is requiring: that there's actually some story behind it. How in the world is that unreasonable?

Liberty's Edge

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Newton's Third - For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In other words, if a weapon's projectile could physically move its target, it would necessarily physically move the attacker. In fact, because the target is taking force concentrated into a smaller surface area, anything that could knock the target physically back would be more likely to do it to the attacker.

Knock-back is a myth. If you really want to demonstrate this to yourself, grab a pumpkin -- say, a lowly 20-pounder -- and hit it with the broadest, bluntest arrow you like from the most powerful bow you can draw. The pumpkin won't go anywhere, and it's got one-tenth the inertia of a fantasy warrior.

("Knock-down" happens, but it's mostly a function of the shock of getting wounded, or sometimes of the actual wound (i.e., getting hit in the leg). "Spin-around" also happens, for similar reasons. So does "Stagger-back." But knock-back? No.)

On the other hand, knock-back not being scientifically accurate obviously doesn't keep it out of a fantasy game. But then the argument isn't one of science, but one of cinematics.

If you want knock-back, become Large and take Awesome Blow. Or do what I do and play Mutants & Masterminds!

Liberty's Edge

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I'm not exactly sure what "use WBL" means, but I think I use it.

Every couple of levels, I scope out the PCs' gear values (which is easy, because we use Hero Lab). If it's within about 20 percent of WBL, circumstances (like crafting feats) considered, all's well.

If it's off by more than that, I'll take steps to adjust it, inserting wealth into or pulling wealth from the adventure.

Liberty's Edge

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Ballpark, I think a good AC -- good, not "spectacular" -- is 15+(level*1.5).

2nd level? 18.

7th level? 25 or 26.

10th level? 30.

15th level? 37 or 38.

If I wanna be a front-line fighter, these are what I shoot for. If I wanna "tank," I try to beat them.

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It doesn't matter if there's a clock or not.

If there is a clock, and the encounters are tough enough, of course the adventure and/or GM has to find a way for a suitably skilled group to complete the mission.

I'll restate this: until PFS, I never played in a group that used wands of cure light wounds the way players in this thread routinely use them. We enjoyed the game, we didn't suffer from the 15-minute adventuring day, and the world didn't end.

Using wands as described in this thread is a choice of play-styles, and that's all it is: it's isn't mandated by game design, by adventure design, or by living campaign design. It's a choice, and in my experience it's not a choice that occurs to most players who don't scout the Internet for optimization options.

The OP doesn't like this particular playstyle choice. (Nor do I, in my limited experience with it in PFS.) Other people apparently like it.

Both of those are fine.

But these claims that constant purchase and use of wands of cure light wounds is somehow required by game design, adventure design, or whatever ... those claims are just increasingly bizarre.

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Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
if you want to remove the need for the CLW wand. you have to do some of the following.

There's an implication to this assertion that I find really interesting: that it's an intended design aspect of PFRPG (and presumably, but not necessarily, 3E before it) that every group must buy and use, as soon as possible, cheap wands of cure light wounds.

Is that implication intended? Do you really mean to say that buying, crafting, and using cheap wands is necessary to play the game as intended by the designers?

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nosig wrote:
I have this urge to say something about bringing a print out of the rule for Take 10... But I think I'd best just slink back to my corner now.

Man, no kidding. At one PFS game last year at GenCon, I was the only person with a full understanding of Take 10/20. Even the GM -- otherwise really good -- kept saying we couldn't Take 10 "because there's a penalty for failure" and even if we could "it takes 10 times as long."

Once I dug up the rule for him -- which took 10 seconds -- he was fine and the game went on. It wasn't in any way unpleasant ... just bizarre to me that six more experienced PFS players all misunderstood such a basic PF rule.

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ZZTRaider wrote:
unless the DM screwed up, you're not going to have nearly enough monetary resources to make use of it. Yes, you gain potential of more items as you level, but it still relies on spending other resources (gold and time) to gain the benefit.

"Time" is simply not a "resource" in most Pathfinder games. It's nearly always simply a binary state controlled by the GM (or the published adventure). You either have the time to craft, or you don't.

Even if you've got an above-average GM who allows non-crafters to make use of the time the crafter is spending chained to the workbench, that's simply balancing a strong mechanical benefit (crafting) by roleplaying limits, and IMO that's almost never a good idea. (And that's aside from the logistical issues raised by the non-crafters getting to RP for eight hours a day (to whatever benefit) while the crafter's player sits around and twiddles his thumbs. Or, of course, just waits until the eight hours are up and then goes out for his share of the RP.

IMO, crafting is too good for the feat, especially Craft Wondrous Item. I changed it to be 70 percent of cost in my Jade Regent game, and IMO it's still too good.

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I think the "impossibility" of PCs escaping a losing fight is, at best, an excuse (even in those cases where it might be true).

The truth is that PCs -- including me, when I'm on the other side of the screen -- simply hate like hell to run. We hate to lose. We hate it, and because of that we're willing to try to roll two miracle crits in a row rather than attempt to retreat.

The issue is exacerbated when the party is composed of heroic -- as opposed to mercenary or anti-heroic -- archetypes.

Another factor is that, by nature, PFRPG combat is pretty swingy. It can be legitimately difficult to judge, early enough to make the tough decision to escape and then to execute it, whether or not an encounter is simply too tough to beat.

It took a long, long time, but (for the most part) I've trained my players to retreat (or at least to try) from a too-tough encounter. How?

(1) I flat-out told them, "Not all encounters will be weighted in favor of the PCs. To avoid PC death, you will have to run sometimes. Sometimes, you'll have to do even worse, like give up treasure!" (Man, if players hate running, and we do, our hatred for being extorted by enemies burns with the white heat of a thousand suns. A group that can do it is an extremely formidable group.)

(2) I almost always give them a chance at revenge, redemption, or recovery.

(3) I roll all attack rolls and saves in the open. While the "AC bracketing" meta-gaming sometimes gives me a middlin' peeve, it's minor, and I find the benefits heavily outweigh that drawback.

(4) If the dice come up that way, I kill PCs.

(5) I usually let them get away if they actually try. Look, a stat-block might well say that a monster can catch and kill fleeing PCs, but the stat-block doesn't say everything about a monster. There are a bajillion reasons a monster might not pursue, from the prosaic (too lazy) to the overly clever ("they're leading me away from my home turf and into a trap").

BTW, if absolutely nothing else, don't handle the escape via the stat-block. Make it a chase, using the chase rules from the GMG (or the card-set). Give the PCs a chance to get away if you want to see them make the attempt occasionally.

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First, let me say that I've tried Organized Play before: Raven's Bluff, Living Greyhawk, and Shadowrun Missions. I hated all three. I cannot stress that highly enough: I hated them.

Invariably at every table there were two or three players who were interested in nothing but power-gaming, and I guess the controls on the rules were not sufficient to control it, because these players would basically use their ultimate characters to take over and do whatever they wanted. There was no need for the non-munchkins to be at the table, honestly, in all of the ten or so sessions I tried of those three Living games.

In three years of gradually increasing PFS activity (I play only at GenCon), 12 adventures, I have yet to not have a good time at a table. While there have been characters that were more powerful than the rest of us at the table (not hard in my case; I play a weak ranged rogue), there seems to be something in the PFS player that just wasn't present in the other Living games: a desire to actually play an RPG with other people.

Seriously, I've played PFS games with 40 to 50 other strangers ... and not a single obnoxious player. (And I'd say 10 of the 12 DMs were significantly above average, too.) That's beyond amazing and into miraculous.

I've liked PFS so much that in GenCon 2013, I'm planning to GM a couple of slots.

Anyway, that doesn't fully answer the OP's question of "why do Organized Play in the first place"?

Well, just to be clear, at home I don't. I'm running Jade Regent right now for a stable group of friends, and I ran a Mutants & Masterminds campaign for three years before that, and Eberron for three years before that.

I have been giving thoughts to starting up a bi-weekly PFS society game, though, primarily because I like playing on a pretty strict schedule, and since people can drop in and out of PFS games without disrupting stuff, the control freak in me won't get so stressed out about last-minute cancellations the way I do now in my JR game. Secondarily, the PFS adventures tend to be pretty good.

The reason I do Organized Play is that I very much enjoy playing RPGs at GenCon (pretty much the only con I attend), and I enjoy playing RPGs with strangers (in the abstract). At GenCon, the quality of games is wildly variable, which can be frustrating. Before I started doing PFS games, I'd typically have a mix of two good games, two mediocre games, and two games in which I'd be very close to just leaving the table two hours in.

Before PFS, I'd specifically try to find games with GMs I'd previously liked a lot (and that gets tough, after word spreads), or regularly play games or series run by specific clubs (like NASCRAG; but eventually the magnetized-to-the-very-visible-rails aspect of these, combined with some OOC silliness, wore me down). Playing PFS basically streamlines the process, and since PFRPG is one of my three favorite games (the other two being M&M and SR), it was a natural thing to try.

And since the experiences have been uniformly positive, I'll keep playing PFS until they stop being so.

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All I know is that with Dex 20 and max ranks, my rogue would fail at tumbling with 18, 19, even a 20 on the die. If I failed with a 13 on the die, or even a 15, I'd shrug and move on. But a maxed-out skill that fails against level appropriate enemies on an 18 indicates a broken skill.

People can argue (and obviously are) that mandatory custom magic items and a feat tax can make everything okay. (As long as the rogue doesn't try tumbling at full speed (-10) or through an enemy's space (-5), that is.) If they think it's okay, there's clearly nothing anybody can say to convince them otherwise. And that's fine; different strokes and all that.

Me, in my game, I want to de-emphasize the requirement of magic items to perform a class function -- arguably, in the case of a rogue, a vital class function, since tumbling is usually necessary for offense (to achieve sneak attack and thus perform in combat) and defense (to get out of dangerous situations in which a warrior would go toe-to-toe). I want to encourage people to spend feats on abilities beyond those that should be provided by skills. And, on the other hand, I want to encourage mobile, cinematic combat.

So the base tumble-to-avoid-AoO DC is 10+BAB+Dex. It's certainly not guaranteed for any of the PCs in my game (but then, none of my players have maxed-out point-buy DEX, maxed-out skill-enhancing feats, and custom skill-enhacing magic items), but it's reliable enough that they use it. If any of my PCs did want to make those investments for guaranteed tumbling, I'd be fine with it.

That works for me.

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Okay, I used the caravan rules a few times in Brinewall Legacy, and they worked ... okay. I'm fairly good at description, so I basically just used the dice-rolling and input from players to present almost-scripted vignettes.

I foresee a more difficult time in Hungry Storm, so I'm looking for some advice.

(1) 10% cumulative, with reset, per day is absurd. The PCs will gain XP like crazy. Part of the problem is that the caravan moves too fast, per Brinewall Castle it somehow moves twice as fast as it should, and I slowed it down to about 12 miles per day. Given that, I calculated about 300 travel days, and I generated encounters using 2% cumulative, with reset, per day.

That got me 20 encounters. The average XP per encounter is probably about 1500, so that's 30000 XP, or 5000 XP each in my 6-player group. That seems about right to me.

Any thoughts? How many encounters did people have when they ran it by the book? How much XP did the PCs end up collecting?

(2) I'm fine with the caravan encounters in theory, but the math is seriously messed up. I've lowered the damage to 25% of what's listed, because I can tell just by eyeballing it that it's way too high if the caravan is supposed to have any chance to survive.

Do I need to lower the AC, the hp, or any of the caravan attribute checks (e.g., Resolve, Security)? They look okay to me (though I'm shaky on the hp), but my confidence in the math is shot.

(3) There are a few encounters that give full stats of the monsters and say they target individuals, not the caravan.

The problem seems to be that the caravan encounter rules are basically just a very abstract rules-set for mass combat, and that's fine ... but it gets messy when you keep the caravan (and all its travelers) present, but dispense with the mass combat rules.

How do people handle that in practice? Do GMs honestly roll init for each of the NPCs? Just the major NPCs? Handwave it?

Anyway, I haven't finished reading the adventure, but I do find it ambitious and interesting. I just wish the math had been thought out better and some advice given on how to run the mass combats when the adventure intends that caravan rules not be used.

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I've had two PCs die so far. One was rezzed by the Seal; the other elected to make a new PC. He still wanted to use the Relationship rules, so another player (with some input from me) created a short list of relationship traits intended for PCs created above 1st level.

Kindred Spirit
You recently met a very interesting traveller in your current place of residence. If it is Koya you met at a temple service or local shrine to Desna. For Ameiko she saw you performing in a tavern and approached you after your performance with praise and some questions. For Sandru, you met in a tavern where you were both engaged in a drinking contest. You immediately hit it off, discovering that you had quite a bit in common. They confided in you that they were engaged in an epic-sounding quest, and you’ve been feeling a bit restless lately. It sounds like your new friend could use your help with this quest, so you’ve volunteered to join up. If your new friend is Koya, you get a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge (religion) checks and Knowledge (religion) is always a class skill for you. If your new friend is Ameiko, you get a +1 trait bonus on any one Perform check and Perform is always a class skill for you. If your new friend is Sandru, you get a +1 trait bonus on Fortitude saves. In addition for any NPC, you get a +1 trait bonus on all attack rolls against foes that threaten your new friend.
NPC choices: Ameiko, Sandru, Koya.

Lost Scion
You are a surviving member of one of the other four royal families of Minkai, from a minor branch of lesser nobility. Your grandparents sent one of your parents into hiding after the murder of Emperor Shigure, and they raised you in secret. You recently had a vivid dream in which a young Tien woman awoke sitting upon the throne of Minkai. You are certain that this was no ordinary dream and have set out to find this woman, hoping that if you can help her achieve the throne, your own family will be restored to prominence as well. Your noble background, though impoverished, gives you a +1 trait bonus on Diplomacy checks and Diplomacy is always a class skill for you. In addition, you get +1 trait bonus on all attack rolls against foes that threaten the woman who can help avenge your family.
Additional requirement: Human or half-elf of Tien-Min descent only.
NPC choices: Ameiko.

Love at First Sight
You recently fell in with a party of adventurers traveling as part of a Varisian caravan. They introduced you to a number of people traveling with the caravan, and the sight of one of them struck you like a thunderbolt from the sky. You decided that day to drop everything and join the caravan, because surely, this is destiny! You gain a +1 trait bonus on all attack rolls against foes that threaten the object of your infatuation. Once per day, you may attempt to earn a kind word or a smile from the NPC by making a DC 15 Charisma check. If you’re successful, the elation and joy at the attention gives you a +1 trait bonus on all saving throws for the remainder of the day. If you’re ever lucky enough to win the NPC’s love, this +1 trait bonus on saving throws applies at all times, as long as your relationship remains active.
NPC choices: Any.

On the Run
You need to get out of town, quickly. Perhaps you are in over your head with a local crime boss, or you were caught in bed with the wife of a prominent citizen. Luckily for you, you recently met a Varisian caravan master named Sandru drinking in your favorite bar. You hit it off immediately and he agreed to help you give your enemies the slip by taking you on as a caravan guard. Your low character gives you a +1 on Bluff checks and Bluff is always a class skill for you. In addition, you get +1 on all attack rolls against foes who threaten the man who you feel saved your life.
NPC choices: Sandru.

Oni Stalker
You know of the existence of the evil possessing spirits known as “oni,” and you are learning how to fight them. Someone you trust has sent you to the elven ranger Shalelu to learn more. You gain +1 trait bonus on damage rolls against evil native outsiders. In addition, you get a +1 trait bonus on all attack rolls against foes that threaten Shalelu.
Additional requirement: Stealth, 1 rank.
NPC choices: Shalelu.

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Tommy GM wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

I have a large and powerful group (later on they'll start to miss not having a true arcanist rather than just an alchemist, but for now they are powerful), so I gave that creature a mate (absent when they killed the first one), based on one of the other sins (guess which one). She is a sorcerer, specializing in enchantments, and has very strong Stealth and Disguise skills. She has followed the PCs all the way to Brinewall Castle, messing with them all the while in seeking revenge, and has become an excellent recurring villain, even though she really doesn't (yet) have a thing to do with the AP plot as such.

So far she has infiltrated the caravan, charmed and bedded the barbarian, convinced him to slaughter a horse (trying for all of the livestock, but the other PCs stopped him); charmed the alchemist and convinced him to attempt to murder one of the other PCs (the alchemist made the additional save just before the coup de grace, and just barely); and recruited a couple of trolls and a few scattered Licktoad remnants to raid the caravan and kidnap the comatose Ameiko, forcing the PCs to come to the rescue. (That last one almost messed me up, but good, because she tried a coup de grace on Ameiko when things started going badly, and it ended up being a 50/50 save ... but a player rolled it and Ameiko yet lives).

For a throwaway encounter, me and my players are having a ball with the fallout from the Soggy River Monster.