This is the long overdue companion to DH's Guide to PBP Gaming.
In this guide I'll try to cover all the details of running a successful Play By Post game on the Paizo forums. Much like playing a character in a PBP game, GMing a PBP game is a whole different animal than GMing a tabletop game. It's the difference between sprinting through an obstacle course and running a marathon. The fundamentals are mostly the same. The techniques for success are vastly different.
Everything this guide will list are suggestions. I tend to have a very matter-of-fact writing style. Don't think that means I think other ways are wrong. I'm trying to give you ideas of how to experiment and find the way that works best for you. In the end, the ways that are wrong weed themselves out. If you are successful at running a PbP game, that means your way is one of the right ones. If you are unsuccessful, it might be a good idea to do some critical analysis and look at where things didn't work the way you wanted them to before trying it again.
If you want to start GMing a PBP game, I'm going to assume you've played in them before and understand things from that perspective. I'm not going to cover text formatting, plot structuring, or how to write immersive descriptions. If you feel like you don't already have a handle on those elements of gameplay, you might want to wait before jumping into running a PbP game.
Just like my last guide, what I'm going to cover is organization.
I'm going to put this right at the beginning. If you decide to run a PbP game, make sure you're in it for the long haul. Games can easily last years. While no one owes anyone else a game, it is still very disheartening to invest in a story that abruptly ends because the GM decides they don't want to do it anymore. Don't do that to your players. PbP has the benefit of not needing to coordinate schedules or be in the same physical space. It's a slower format, but as long as you can find 20 minutes of free time a day, you have the time to run a PbP game. You just have to be willing to stick with it. There will be times when it feels like a chore. When that happens, hopefully the techniques I'll discuss here will help you quickly move through the slog and get back to the fun. It's hard to describe exactly how to build momentum, but you'll know it when you have it. You'll also know it when you don't.
Most likely, if you're reading this it's because you have a grand idea for a story you want to tell, but haven't ever run a PbP game before. You want to know how to get started. You aren't going to like my advice.
Don't. Tell. That. Story.
Not yet. Get your feet wet first. Grab a short Pathfinder Society scenario, or We Be Goblins, or another very short, straightforward adventure. Run that. Think of it like a playtest.
The shortest adventure you can find will take months to play through. You'll learn a lot about your own particular playstyle, and how to keep things moving. You'll also learn that even a short scenario can feel like a slog sometimes.
By the time you make it through your short scenario, you'll have a good idea of whether or not the big story you wanted to run first is something you can realistically pull off. Hopefully, this guide will help get you on that path.
Your GM Face
First, make a GM Alias by going up to your Account settings. GM Alias' are handy because the forums allow you to search posts by a particular Alias. Sometimes you'll need to search back through your game. It's a lot easier when you don't have to deal with your other messageboard posts being mixed in with your GM posts. Also, your GM Alias gives you a handy spot to put all your GM notes. More on that later
Now that you have a GM Alias, go ahead and go to the Recruitment boards and click New Thread to get the ball rolling.
Getting the Party Started
So you have a story to tell. You need now are players. Think of it like a director with a screenplay. You need to pitch it to your actors. If you want a your dream cast, you'll need a good pitch.
You're going to start by going to the Recruitment boards and clicking the "new thread" link. Then you're going to make your first Recruitment post. Your Recruitment post should start with a pitch.
Your pitch should consist of Three things:
1) The Hook
This is where you show off your skills as a writer. Think of it like the back of a novel or a trailer for a movie. You don't want to give away too much, but you want to give your audience just enough information to interest them.
The most effective way I've seen this executed is to write a very short story about the events leading up to the adventure. Just a snippet. An excerpt. Consider formatting it in Italics to visually separate it from the rest of the character creation guidelines.
Another option is to simply describe the style of story that you'd like to tell. Mixing basic genre descriptions with movies or books you are using for inspiration can provide a lot of information. For example "low-magic dungeon crawl through a labyrinth, in the style of Greek mythology" or "Indiana Jones-style jungle exploration action adventure" gives potential players a lot of information.
I can't stress enough that this should be concise. Think of it like a teaser trailer. Recruitment is not the place for the history textbook of your homebrew setting.
That said, posting both an except and a stylistic description will give players a great way to get on board with your creative vision for the game
2) Setting Information
If this is a homebrew, things get more complex.
What you don't want to do here is dump a bunch of history and/or places full of fantasy-gibberish names. No one cares yet. Recruitment is not where people become invested in your story. You'll make readers go cross-eyed and skim over all that stuff you spent so long writing. Save your energy. Those details are for the Campaign Info tab, or to be revealed through Gameplay.
Instead, just give the basic overview of the themes of the setting, and where the players will be starting. If you just can't help but write out a ton of campaign info, put it in the Campaign Tab and link it for people that are interested. Then put a summarized version in your Recruitment thread. Often, a description of the basic geography, climate, culture, and some highlights of local politics are enough to put in this section.
Character Creation Guidelines
Here's the things you'll want to include, and the choices you need to make about them.
(If you want a Low Power game, what you need to do is set the Maximum starting statistic. Max of 16, after race mods, is a good low power baseline. Not many games use this method)
What Point Buy actually governs is the kinds of characters you're going to see submitted.
Low point buy games are going to create more "traditional" parties. You'll see characters that rely heavily on a single attribute, and that attribute will be in the 17-19 range. You'll see a lot of Wizards, Druids, Clerics, and Barbarians submitted. If you want a "classic" feel to your game, this is how to do it.
In a High Point Buy game, you're going to see more varied character concepts. You'll start seeing stranger builds. Monks, Paladins, Magi, Dex-based fighters, multi-class characters, and other M.A.D. concepts all require more than one high stat, so they basically only exist in higher point buy games. If you don't mind complex character concepts, go with high point buy.
I don't recommend this method because it will fill your recruitment thread with seemingly endless posts containing nothing but rolls. You'll also get a lot of people who will stick their heads in, roll, and if they get a below average spread, they'll either ask if they can reroll (which requires you to set a precedent for everyone, potentially causing another cascade of rolling posts), or they'll just leave, removing a potentially good candidate because of random chance.
Assigning an Array
Here are some example 20 point spreads. These will create 18 maximums and 6 minimums from almost all characters.
That being said, don't be afraid to re-flavor a class. There's no reason a Gunslinger couldn't use the exact same mechanics but actually be a guy with an extra-powerful crossbow (See: Bolt Ace), or even a special kind of wand-slinger in a magitech setting. There's no reason a Samurai has to be Asian themed. A warrior devoted to honor and duty towards a lord or kingdom could fit into just about any fantasy culture. The mechanics are all setting-neutral. Everything can be re-fluffed to fit your story.
Something to consider for your story is how high you want the scale of magic to go. It's perfectly acceptable to ban all 9th level caster classes and keep your magical scaling manageable, especially if you're new to Gming.
If you are running a non-Golarion setting, I advise allowing Golarion specific traits to be re-fluffed to fit your game. "Havoc of the Society" could just as easily be named "Potent Sorcery" with the same effect.
If you're running a Homebrew setting, or converting a non-pathfinder setting, creating your own Campaign Traits is a great way to get players invested in your story and kickstart the kinds of submissions you want to see. This requires some skill at mechanical balancing. In general, traits are worth about half a feat. Be careful granting things like "perception as a class skill" or "+1 initiative" or "+1 damage with a specific weapon." If you decide to allow those as a campaign trait, you're going to see a lot of submissions that pick those particular traits. Your other traits will be largely ignored. Instead, your traits should give bonuses to the kinds of skill challenges and situations your game is likely to present. If you know that tracking down a missing child in the woods is going to be how your game starts, creating a trait that gives a +1 bonus to Survival and makes it a class skill is a good option.
Note: Story Traits are awesome rewards. Did your players survive a story arc that had them stuck at sea for months? Why not give them each a sailor-themed trait related to the most significant experience their character had while aboard the ship. Something as simple as allowing the Fighter to Charge across unstable ground because of all those fights on a stormy deck, or giving the Wizard proficiency with the Boarding Pike from that time they used it to hook an enemy boat, can shape characters in profound ways. Players love story-related cookies. Even if it's not an amazingly useful ability, they'll still love it.
For low power games, you'll probably want to put strong limits of available magic items.
Personally, I'm a strong advocate of the Automatic Bonus Progression rules. That allows you to worry less about making sure every scenario has level appropriate magic items and loot baked into it. It also allows magic item slots to be used for more than just the Big 6 magic items.
Managing Your Recruitment Thread:
I'm just going to go ahead and say it. Recruitment threads suck. They are pretty much all barely manageable f#$@tangles.
Here's a few tips for making it easier:
Request characters sheets be submitted in an alias, or in a spoiler. Players who submit their raw character info as a post create walls of text in the thread, making navigating the thread itself a lot harder.
Request that potential players not roleplay in the recruitment thread. If you want to see how characters interact and how players write, tell them that there will be opportunity for recruitment thread roleplay after the submission deadline, but before you make your final choices.
Some players will start talking to other players, trying to tie their characters' backstories together. Ask them to wait until after party selection is made. This will cut back on thread chatter and stop any characters from becoming "Package Deals". That being said, sometimes Package Deal characters can be very rewarding story-wise, so if a couple players take that initiative, you may consider asking them to pursue it via Instant Message, and make a contingency plan for the possibility of only one of the characters being picked.
When addressing a player to ask them questions or give feedback, put your comments in a Spoiler. Spoilers are big, bold and save space. They're a lot more likely to be noticed by a player, and most of the time, players will respond to your spoiler with one of their own, which continues the trend of keeping the thread easy to navigate.
I recommend asking prospective players to keep their backgrounds fairly brief. They can be expanded upon after party selection happens.
On the other hand, reading a fleshed out backstory can give you a good idea of a given player's skill at writing. In the end it's up to you how much you want to read.
Picking Your Party
Pick good, reliable writers.
Check a player's posting stats for other games. Read some examples of their writing. See what they are like in message board discussions. Snoop around. Most of the time their posting history will speak for itself.
If you like how they write, consider them for the game. Don't worry too much about party composition. Just go with the people who's concepts make you excited. This is the fun and easy part of your job.
Oh, one more thing. Stick to your deadline. If you need more time to pick a party, at least check in with your thread. Don't tell people when selection will happen and then ghost your own thread for a week. That's not a good way to inspire trust from your new players.
By the time you announce your party, have the Discussion Thread and Gameplay thread open and ready to go. Don't announce your party and then make your new players wait for you to get your game together. Let your players jump right in and make first posts in each thread. That will attach the threads to the player's campaign tabs and let them get updates a lot easier.
This probably shouldn't need to be said, but I'm trying to make this guide as thorough as possible. When you announce your party, link them to your game thread. Don't make them hunt. I've seen games lose as many as half the party just from the GM not giving the players a link to follow when they announced the group (yes, that really happened).
Starting Your Game:
Congratulations, you made it through your first Recruitment. I know, it was painful. Get yourself a beer, you earned it.
Now you can actually start to play!
Your GM Alias
Use your Race, Class, and Gender spaces for links you and your players will need frequently. I usually use it for a link to the current map. That way every time I post, the map is right there. Other GMs put their map link in the About This Campaign section of the Campaign Tab, but I find that putting the link in the Gender space is more efficient.
The Campaign Tab
Make a setting almanac and put it in a spoiler. Search the internet for pictures that fit the landscape or architecture of the areas. Link them in the descriptions.
Make an NPC list and put it in a spoiler. In each NPC's short description, link the gameplay post the NPC was introduced in, and any posts that the NPC did something significant, in with their description so the players can easily remember who they are.
Make a House Rules list and put it in a spoiler.
You get the idea.
The Gameplay Tab
The most important thing is that what you write is able to be understood clearly by the players. Make liberal use of Blue Text and the Enter key to break up text walls. Use spell-checker.
The Discussion Tab
Setting The Stage
For example, do not tell your players "the game will be starting at this village" and then let them roleplay how they get there. You'll end up with one person describing walking on a road, then another player will jump in and describe meeting the first character on the road. A conversation will start, and all the other players will be forced to either sit it out, or have their character inexplicably showing up on the same road also, just so they can be included. It's awful. Don't do it.
Instead, let them work out how they know each other in the Discussion thread, or tell them that they'll meet on the job. A neat way of combining the two approaches is to split the party into a few different smaller groups. Within their given group, they know each other, but dont know the others. Maybe a cleric and a paladin are from the dame church and have known each other for a long time. Maybe an Inquisitor and a Ranger are partners tracking down criminals. Starting with a few character ties will help your game along.
Once character ties (or lack of them) are established, the next thing to do is establish the setting. Describe where they are and why. Try to be concise. You can fill in any gaps later once motives are established and the starting choices are made. Before those things happen, players will skim descriptions to find what is most relevant to them. After that, everything is relevant to them.
Then, drop them into the fire.
Nothing sets the tone of a game quite like the first fight. Don't let them get their bearings. Don't let them ask questions. Just bloody them.
Everything else will fall into place after that.
Keeping Things Moving:
The most important tool at a PBP GM's disposal is the "Cut Away".
Think of it like a movie. Once the plot-relevant stuff has happened, the story doesn't hang around and show us how the main characters get ready for bed, or the entirety of their shopping trip. It skips forward.
Do that. If a scene is lagging, skip ahead. If a fight is basically over and posting has slowed down, resolve the end of it "cinematicly" and get on with the story.
Games live and die by their momentum, and you are the one with the reins.
Handle shopping trips, divvying up treasure, lengthy discussions about what to do next, and anything that slows the story down, in the Discussion thread.
If nothing happens during travel, don't roleplay it out. If you aren't playing a Survival themed game, don't make a big deal out of things like Rations or how exactly camp is laid out.
Always keep in mind momentum. If it's flagging, change things.
I really can't stress this enough. I've seen a good PbP GM cut away in the middle of a fight because posting rates were down to one or two a week after a high-level fight had become a drawn out slog. The GM just wrapped things up with a few lines of description and pushed the game forward. It was a fantastic way of gutting away the fat and keeping to the meat of the story.
You need to decide if you're going to use them. If you aren't, you need to get used to doing a lot of extra writing. Combat will be heavy on description. You'll probably want to use Blue Text to describe the schematics of the area, like the exact size of a room, or the size category of the monster you just described.
If you are going to use maps, there are a number of options, I'll list them in order of complexity.
MS Paint works for drawing out rough maps. You can host them on Imagr, or any other image hosting site. This is probably the lowest tech/skill option possible in a PbP game.
Google Spreadsheets also works fine. Just adjust the grid to be squares, and use initials to represent players and enemies. Setting the background color of various squares can create simple topography like rocks, doors, trees and water.
Google Slides is the point where you can start using more professional quality maps. If you're running an Adventure Path, you'll need a PDF file of the maps, or a scanner to upload the image. Then, just create opaque polygons to cover your map with (simulating a kind of "fog of war"). Upload images of your player's tokens (a screen capture or image download of their avatar image works for this). Make the Slide Doc accessabe via the link, and set the edit preferences to anyone with the link. Then players can drag their tokens around on the map. As the players move on the map, delete or move the opaque polygons and reveal the map beneath.
Map Tools or Roll20 are both pretty intuitive to use and seem to be the preferred method of most GMs on these boards. It just takes some time investment to get used to it. There are some good tutorials on YouTube. Personally, I'm a fan of Roll20. The Dynamic Lighting system is incredible at creating atmosphere and reminding players how much light conditions matter.
To give you an example of the kinds of things you can do in Roll20, Here's a map for a game I'm running. I created this using a few map builder sets from the Roll20 Marketplace, some tiles I found on Deviant Art and the Map Makers reddit forum, and tokens pulled from Pintrest and stamped with the Token tool I will link a few paragraphs below. If you've never used Roll20, you'll need to make an account. Then, the link will take you right to the map. On the left you can use the magnifying glass tool to alter the map scale. I recommend 40% or so to give you a good, wide view of the terrain. Once the map loads, you should be able to scroll down a bit, pick up the Orc PC token, and enjoy wandering around the map. (Once you're done, please drop your token off int he upper left area of the map so the next person can find it easily)
For post apocalyptic games set on earth (or any other modern world), Google Maps Streetview makes an amazing tool. A screen shot of a street, slightly altered with Photoshop or MS Paint to show damaged buildings and things like that, then posted to a hosting site or game wiki, can make a powerful visual aid. There are areas of the world that don't need any alterations at all to depict a convincing urban sprawl for Shadowrun or a Ghost Town for Deadlands. Go on a virtual tour of the streets of St. Petersburg or Namie, Japan. Encounter ideas will jump out at you, I promise. Here's my favorite example of real-world places that make great RPG backdrops- Villa Epecuen. A south american resort town that was underwater for 25 years. Now it's been revealed. Take a look a these pictures. Tell me you don't want to run a game in this place.
Google Maps also has great pictures of places in the world that fit right in to fantasy games. Go on a virtual tour of the Yucatan or of some obscure town in Eastern Europe or Northern Scotland. You'll find some amazing pictures that are ready-to-go lanscapes and maps for your games.
Using Roll20, you can even combine a real-world image taken from Google Satellite View (the top-down street map) and various Tokens. What you do is zoom in as far as you can, and take a screenshot of a map. Then upload it to Roll20 (you can even tile a few screenshots together for a large map that encompasses a few blocks). Then pick up a "damage sticker" pack on the Roll20 Marketplace (they cost abut 5 bucks). Slap down some "stone damage" and some "fire" stickers (or whatever else you want), and then drop your player and enemy tokens onto the map. With this method you can create an impressively immersive map for any modern setting game in about 15 minutes.
That brings us to Map Tokens. Personally, I prefer using the TokenStamp2 online tool. It's free and easy. I also like that I can use the border color to easily keep track of factions in any encounter with more than two sides. It's an incredibly easy site to use. Grab a picture from google image search (or wherever), drop it into the window, resize it, and hit the Download button. Then switch over to your map hosting site and drag the downloaded token onto the map. Done.
This is where the organization starts to make a huge difference in the success of your game. Document everything, but do it with style.
It's a balancing act. On one hand, you don't want to hit your players with walls of text that leave them unsure of the nuts and bolts of what happened to their characters. On the other hand, you don't want them to feel like they just got slapped with a math text book.
I find that alternating my rolls and the descriptions attached to them is a good general guideline to format combat posts. Bascially, just make a roll, use the Preview button to see the result, and then write a description of what the results of the roll actuall mean in game. Then do the next roll.
With that in mind, lets get specific.
This chart can be re-posted at the top of each round as a reminder to the players, and it can be altered if conditions change (a single casting of Daylight is often enough to remove lighting issues for an entire fight, for example. A Gust of Wind spell might clear away fog for a time.)
Block Initiative: This is an optional initiative system that speeds things up a lot. It relies on one simple fundamental: All the enemies go at the same time. The players either go before the bad guys, or after them. I have found that the best way to implement this system is to have the enemies take 10 on Initiative, or to average the enemy initiative rolls.
Once you know when the block of enemies goes, just compare the players to it. Think of it like setting an Initiative DC for the players. Higher initiative players get put in group A, before the enemies. Lower initiative players get put in Group B, after the enemies.
Within a given group, players may act in whatever order they want. This means that for the most part, players don't need to wait for anyone else before posting. They can just post according to when they are able to. It also allows players within a given group to coordinate their actions, which is a nice way of facilitating teamwork.
The GM would then only need to make two posts a round.
The first post would be the results of Group A's actions and the actions of the Enemies.
I recommend making yourself a pre-written and pre-formatted template and putting it in your GM Alias for ease of reference.
Action Tracker wrote:
You can see how the empty parenthesis indicate that those characters have not yet acted. Also, note the link to the Giant Frog bestiary entry. That's there because the party Druid rolled well enough on Knowledge Nature that the GM decided they knew pretty much all there was to know about Giant Frogs. It's a handy little time saving tip that doubles as a player reward.
Attacks and Damage
Take a look at the following formats-
Hopefully it's easy to tell which example is the one with the clearest format and most easily accessible information. If you've been a PbP player, you're probably used to this stuff. As a GM, it's much the same, but there's a matter of volume to consider.
Lets flip around to the goblin's turn. Showing four examples of bad formats would be messy, so I'll jump straight to a good example and let it speak for itself-
Another option is to Spoiler all the roles and just present the relevant information. Here's that same post, reformated to hide the dice-
Both formats work well. The second is moer aesthetically pleasing, but many players wont open the spoiler so mistakes might slip through and go unaddressed. It's up to you whether that's important to you or not.
Always, always always copy your posts before you click any button. The Paizo boards are notorious for timing out, eating posts, or otherwise ruining all your hard work.
Personaly, before I click anything, I Select All, Copy, refresh the page, then Select All, and paste my completed post back into the text box. Then I post.
Yes, it's extra steps. Yes, it's a pain in the ass. It's better than losing an hour's worth of work to a random site glitch.
Many times, the overall success of a skill check is going to be based on the total of the roll. Higher might mean noticing something of particular importance, or remembering more detailed knowledge.
A great way of front-loading the work for skill checks you know are coming is to to put the results in Spoilers.
You might describe a ransacked bedroom, and then ask for Perception checks. Instead of waiting a day for everyone in the game to make their checks, and then responding based on the results, you can speed things up by posting the results right away. Something like-
Perception DC 15
You notice a spot of blood on the window sill
Perception DC 20
You notice a spot of blood on the window sill.
The way the glass is scattered makes you think that the window was broken from the inside.
Perception DC 25
You notice a spot of blood on the window sill.
The way the glass is scattered makes you think that the window was broken from the inside.
A section of the floor where the rug has been rumpled by the struggle looks like it is less worn than others, like the boards were replaced at some point.
Then, when the players roll their checks they can consult the appropriate spoilers and react immediately to the information.
Another way of handling skill checks you know are coming is to simply roll for everyone with the appropriate skill, and post the results in individual spoilers.
Wiz's Knowledge Arcana Check: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13
What Wiz Knows
It's a glyph of warding. Feel fee to look up the spell if you aren't familiar with it.
A handy way of handling general knowledge checks is to assume everyone with the appropriate Knowledge Takes 10 and then write a spoiler for them describing what they recall. Often this is really going to be an info dump for the bard or wizard. I find Spoilers for the information to be the best way of handling knowledge checks because it allows the players to put things in their own words, or to withhold information if they feel the need to. Simply writing out "what the bard tells the party" removes the bard's autonomy. As a GM, that's usually a bad idea. I advise against it.
Nothing slows down a fight quite like Saves against multi-target monster abilities.
Compare the following examples:
Which takes the least amount of time? Which seems like the best narrative tool?
Don't be afraid to make Save rolls for your players. If you make it known up front that you'll occasionally do it, there won't be any complaints. It's all the same dice roller after all.
This is actually pretty simple. There's a lot of ways to do it, and none of them are really wrong, but one stands out as particulalry right. Google is your friend.
Google sheets is the easiest and best way of tracking loot. Just make a spreadsheet that list the collected gear, what it's worth, and who's carrying it. Set the permissions to "anyone with the link" and then put the link in the Race section of your GM Alias, or in the About This Campaign section of the Campaign Info tab.
Ask one of your players if they'd like to be the party's quartermaster. One of them will do it. Then all you need to do is drop loot lists into the Discussion thread. Your players will do the rest.
Traps are always hard to pull off. Their flaws are extra hard in PbP games.
When your players suspect traps they move slowly and cautiously. In PbP that can translate to weeks of back and forth between a scout making Perception checks and you posting results and them moving forward a bit. Rinse repeat, ad nauseum. It's terrible.
If you want to use Traps in a PbP game, talk to your players (especially your scout). Tell them that you will be handling all the roles regarding Search and Disable Device. All they need to do is give you a destination on the map ("down the hall to the corner ahead. I want to go there and sneakily peek around to the next hall.").
Then you make all the appropriate rolls and tell them what happens. Either they bypass the trap, find the trap but fail to bypass it, or they fail to find the trap and set it off (in which case you make their save for them and tell them what happens). Jump right to the descriptions of those results. In any case, you job is to get the game past the trap as quickly as possible.
Making Traps Useful: A good trap is a storytelling tool. It pushes the momentum of the game, rather than stalling it. Traps are best used in the middle of other encounters, or to drive the party in certain directions. Think about the big rolling bolder from Indiana Jones. That's a great trap. It's an encounter all to itself. It has a movement speed. There's only one way for the hero to go. There are obstacles along the path. At the end, the hero avoids the trap, but runs right into the next encounter. That's an excellent of a trap as a storytelling device. Try to default to that methodology as a GM.
Other kinds of traps along the same vein are things like slowly filling rooms of water, auto-turrets on top of a cliffside that have to be turned off manually, hidden pits or mines in the middle of a fight, haunts with lingering effects (like mini-curses), and the often-overlooked alarm-trap.
If you find that any kind of trap is slowing the game down, move past it. Just say something like "you discover that the trap's mechanism is jammed and it poses no threat any longer" and get on with the game.
Wayfinder: It's an app specifically for posting to the Paizo gameplay forums. Look it up, try it out. I don't personally use it because my phone is old. If you have a fancy phone, you might like the fancy app.
Keyboard Macros: Did you know that you can program your keyboard to automatically paste in something if you press the right key sequence? Super handy.
Look up a Keyboard Macro tutorial for your operating system on youtube. They are usually super easy. Then set a keystroke combination to do something like type out [ spoiler=[ ooc][ /ooc]] [ /spoiler] whenever you press Control+Shift+S+P. Then you just need to fill in the gaps. Putting the ooc text in the spoiler code puts the spoiler wording in Blue Text. I prefer it for aesthetics. Oh, and for Nested Spoilers, you can't give a spoiler inside another spoiler a description in green ("[spoiler=whatever" doesn't work for nested spoilers). Use Blue Text for the description of what is inside the spoiler instead.
Pre-coding Dice Rolls: If you put dice coding into an Alias, the dice roller doesn't get the instructions. That means you can store the dice coding in your GM Alias so you don't have to type them all out every round.
Advanced Storytelling Tips:
Establishing a Creative Agenda: This could really be an entire full length post to itself. I'm just going to touch on it as food for thought.
As the GM, it's your job to clearly lay out the kind of story you want to tell. This is mostly about the establishment of themes. Talk about your inspirations as a storyteller. See if you can get your players to buy into your creative vision from the very beginning. If someone doesn't seem to be meshing well with the group, it is most likely a problem with their understanding, or their buy-in, of the Creative Agenda. Nearly all non-organizational problems games have come back to this concept.
I find that it's useful to reinforce the creative agenda scene by scene. At the beginning of a scene I'll post something in Discussion like "this next fight is a chase sequence. I'll be moving fast and winging it a bit with the rules. I'm going to try for a more action movie feel here" or "This is a tactical fight. There's a lot of moving parts. Don't be afraid to take your time and try to out think the scenario. Teamwork will be rewarded" or "you're looking for information in a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Everyone is out to get everyone here. The wrong words could get you shot."
Something as simple as that works wonders when it comes to getting players to approach the game with similar expectations.
Major NPCs: Make separate Aliases for them. Put vital information and notes in their profile. This will help establish them as important, and give the players a "face to the name."
The Narrator: Fantasy stories use this a lot. The Princess Bride, Conan, and The Never-Ending Story are good examples in cinema.
Creating a separate Alias to be "the guy telling the story", and posting as that character whenever you need to cut to a new scene is a good way of establishing a narrative theme, and making it very clear when one scene ends and the next begins.
The Narrator could be an NPC, older in the future, telling the story of the great heroes he knew in his youth, or it could be an archivist, far in the future, written like a history text book or lecture, telling the story as a chronicle of the distant past. It could even be a villain, or a ghost, or a god. It might not be clear who the narrator is, or what side they are on, which creates a new mystery for the players to speculate at out of game.
Languages: Google Translate is very cool. Pick a few real-world languages to represent fantasy world analogues. Post them, and spoiler the English translation. This method creates very immersive and interesting visual storytelling.
Links!: Learn to use the [url ] code. Learn to love it. Does your villain have a theme song? Link it when they show up. Is the forest on fire? Link a video. Need to remind the players of an encounter that happened a year ago? Find the relevant post, click the time stamp, and copy that address into the url link.
Care and Feeding of Gamers:
Handling Cranky Players
As a GM, it's important to listen to your players. You don't necessarily have to agree with their assessment, but it is your responsibility to let them know you've heard them. The most powerful tool in your arsenal for getting the game back on track is the following question: "How can I make the game fun for you again?"
A lot of times, that question is all it takes to move the conversation in the direction of getting everyone's creative agenda back on the same page.
The List of Don'ts
There's certain storytelling staples that are very hard to pull of in PbP due to the nature of the format. Most are essentially traps that new PbP GMs fall into. They are game killers. Consider this your warning.
Mysteries- Following clue to clue, and wrangling information out of NPCs is vary hard when it takes months to get fom one clue to the next. Players just don't have the memory to make it work. If you want to do a mystery storyline, make it absurdly simple. Even if you dumb it down to only three clues, expect to be doing a lot of reminding, nudging and railroading. Better yet, don't bother. Instead, just describe a narrative where the players start at one clue, follow some leads, and end up at the end ready to get on with the story. Make your mysteries into montages. Trust me, this will save you months of work and frustration.
Base Building- Every Kingmaker game I've ever been in on these boards has died when it got to the point of trying to use the Kingdom Building rules. They're too unfamiliar to most people, take too long to resolve, and have too many options to consider. If your game includes an element of base building, hand wave it, or handle the mechanics yourself. Your players will be pretty clear about what kinds of things they want to focus on. Don't make them spend Kingdom Points or bean-count how much is in the treasury, or futz about with the crafting rules. Just montage it and get on with the game. PbP games live and die by their momentum, and nothing kills momentum quite like base building.
Dungeon Crawls- This is a staple. You'll want to do one at some point. If you don't know where the pit traps are, you're going to end up in them. There are techniques to make it work. I'll try to list them all-
The List of Dos
There's a few things that don't work well in Tabletop games that PbP handles nicely. Here's the list-
Hordes of Enemies: In a tabletop game waiting for the GM to roll out all 30 of the attacks from the goblin horde is annoying. In a PbP game it isn't. If you want to throw a giant pile of weak enemies at your players, go for it. The ability to Copy/Paste attacks means that all you really have to do is make sure you give a good TL;DR overview at the end of the enemy horde's combat turn. (An especially fun version of this is one or two real threats, and a big rush of cannon fodder. Let the party Wizard really show off the power of Fireball. Then have the enemy leader call in reinforcements after the first wave dies.)
Environmental Complications: The ability do take your time with descriptions means that you can really set the stage when it comes to things like environmental conditions. Give the players a good description of the hot steam in the air from the waterfall that pours down into the bubbling lava (or whatever). Being able to post a reminder of environmental effects at the top of each round makes sure that the conditions of the area aren't forgotten.
Countdowns: This is a GM technique that works just as well in PbP as it does in Tabletop, and is a great way to rebuild momentum. A rising water level, a bomb fuse, a ritual nearly completed. There's lots of ways to play with the idea of "beating the clock." If your players seem disengaged or momentum is flagging, introduce a time component and watch what happens.
Loss of a Player
You will lose players. Expect it. Accept it. Don't blame yourself. You could be the best PbP GM on the planet and you'd still most likely lose one or two players in the first six months of gameplay.
For that reason, many GMs choose to go with a starting party size of 5 or 6. That way, if you lose one or two players you still have a viable party size.
There may be a time when you'll need to recruit a new player for an existing game. Here's my advice about that-
Make a new Recruitment thread. If you start making new posts in your original thread, prospective players are going to see that it has 100+ post already and figure they are either late to the party, or that there's super stiff competition. Both are reasons prospective players might scroll past your attempt to recruit.
Ask players to take over an orphaned PC[i]. By the time you need to recruit a new player, you've probably invested a lot of story time into their character. Losing that hard work sucks. There are quite a few players out there willing to take over a roll began by someone else. This approach is the easiest way to work new players into an existing game. Their character is already baked into your game. Consider allowing them to rework the mechanics of the player they are taking over to suit their vision. A change of a few feats or an archetype can make a big difference. Another similar option is to have a new player take over an NPC that is important to the game, or to upgrade another player's Cohort to a full fledged PC. All these options make it very easy to get a new player immediately invested and feeling like part of the team.
[i]Ask your players for their input. Your players are a great resource. Use them. Often, they'll have gamed with other players on the boards before, and can tell you if they'd be a good fit for your game or not. Also, by the time a re-recruitment is happening, the game is as much your players' as it is yours. They should have a say in who joins. Getting the players invested in who a new party member is can be a great way of generating new momentum (often momentum takes a big hit leading up to a player leaving a game, so the injection of new energy can really help).
Winter kills games.
Seriously. The stretch from Halloween to Christmas is absolute hell on PbP games. Everyone's busy, tired, stressed, and trying to make it through holiday madness. Expect it and plan for it. I've seen games go on a hiatus from the end of November through New Year's Day. I've seen games use the down time to execute a long Kingdom Building or Crafting phase. More frequently though, I've seen games end.
It's a sad reality and you, as the GM, need to be aware that you might lose players to the jaws of Winter. You might also decide you're too busy to keep running your game. I highly recommend putting your game on hold rather than letting it bog down, get frustrating, and become a chore you no longer enjoy.
Nothing in this guide is sacrosanct. I'm not the guru on the mountain. I'm just telling you what's worked for me as a player and as a GM so that you hopefully won't have to learn by screwing up a lot like I did.
If you have better way of doing things, post it here. I'd love to hear it.
If you have questions, feel free to ask them here. Myself or someone else will answer. I've tried to provide you a clear path to follow, but ultimately the only way to really learn how to do it is to do it.
Go do it.
I have an AoO focused character, and I'm looking for feats or abilities that will allow him to take AoOs off of actions that don't normally trigger them.
A 4th level Tetori Monk gains the ability to take AoOs against anything trying to initiate a Grapple against them.
The Come Get Me rage power allows a Barbarian to take an AoO whenever they are attacked.
Snake Style allows a character to take an AoO against an enemy whenever that enemy misses them.
Help me compile a list of abilities like these, please. Whatever you can think of, add it to the stack.
This thread is a continuation of this gameplay experience.
Elf Ranger (me)
1) Making an archer is much easier. There's no more feat taxes involved just to be able to do your thing. That's nice.
2) The Druid Orders are flavorful and interesting.
3) Animal Companions are easy to build and all have interesting teamwork options.
4) I expected not to like the new "items ranked by level" system. I find that I like it quite a bit. It makes creating higher level characters much faster.
1) The Trappers Tools are pretty expensive and 8 bulk! I wanted to try out the Ranger's trap mechanics. Right off the bat, I'm running into a serious road block. Our GM agreed to let me split the kit up between my character, my Bear animal companion, and the barbarian. If not for that (possible) house rule, the trap making options are going to be very hard to use.
2) To make matters worse, carrying a Trapper's Tools doesn't actually let you build traps. It 's just the tools you need to use the traps you purchase. Traps have to be pre-bought as items. And they are expensive as hell.
3) In the end, I sunk a ranger feat, a general feat, half my money, and the encumbrance of two characters and an animal companion into my desire to see how the trap making system worked. That seemed like a pretty huge investment of character resources. I was hoping for a big payoff. (I didn't get one, more on that in Gameplay feedback)
4) The early ranger options besides Animal companion are lackluster. I ended up taking animal companion because it was the option that seemed the least bad, not because it particularly excited me.
(Gameplay feedback will follow)
Dwarf Cleric (me)
1) Character creation is very streamlined. The new character sheet clearly labels everything and the book's layout makes making a new character very straightforward.
2) The Bulk system makes equipment choices really matter. The days of huge equipment lists seem effectively gone. Some people might not like this change, but I do. It means difficult choices have to be made, or clever work around have to be figured out.
3) The new skills system, and it's integration with the Background system is excellent. Fewer skills seem unnecessary, and Perception being a derived attribute rather than a skill is an excellent change. Personally, I think that design philosophy should be pushed even further, especially regarding Lore. Lore should simply be an alternate use of other skills, such as Nature Lore being an alternate use of Survival (using Int for the roll instead of Wisdom).
4) With 10 starting HP and a Con bonus, Dwarves feel significantly tougher than other races now. I appreciate that. Likewise, Elves feel fragile. That's also good in my opinion.
1) The character choices seem underwhelming. In 1st edition, I remember being wowed by many character options during the Playtest (yes I've been playing Pathfinder that long). I had to make hard choices based on which one seemed most interesting out of a plethora of cool options. In 2nd edition, some of my character choices were made based on which ones seemed slightly less yawn inducing.
2) The layout of all the different feat sections is a bit obnoxious. I like that all the levels are listed, but it would be really nice if they were simply compiled in one list, with the kinds of feats in parenthesis along with the levels.
The Leadership rules list a number of special creatures and their level equivalent. Are there rules for adapting creatures that aren't on that list as Cohorts?
I have a character who wants to take his own severed and animated hand as a Cohort, but I have no idea how to determine the level the hand should count as before I start adding class levels.
I'm in a game where I'm playing a Hellknight Signifier of the Order of the Cipher (a GM created order)
The Order of the Cipher is an offshoot chapter of the Order of the Scourge who specialize in clandestine operations. They work as spies and secret agents. If the Order of the Scourge are the Hellknight "police" then the Order of the Cipher are the "undercover cops."
The GM has left it up to me to develop more of Cipher's fluff.
Specifically, I need to come up with what their Favored Weapon is, and also what their order's armor looks like (for those rare instances when they reveal themselves).
Any ideas are welcome.
Let's say your heroic character is rescuing a baby. You have them all trussed up in your cloak and you are running from the BBEG.
Does the baby count as an Attended Object (using your saves instead of its own)?
What if you have Evasion? You completely dodge the fireball, does the baby still take damage?
I just took a look at the Burning Arc spell and it occured to me that if there's only one target, the additional acs might be able to target objects.
Does that work?
Could you target a wizard, and also target their spellbook and spell component pouch? (Making new saves for each?)
Could you arc from a person to unattended objects?
Normally, if an Aqueous orb ran over a Flaming Sphere, the sphere would be snuffed out (as per the rules on underwater effects).
What if an Admixture Evoker used Vesatile Evocation to change a Flaming Sphere's damage type to Electricity or Cold?
Would the Sphere still be negated?
Could the Orb and the Sphere overlap?
If they were overlapped, would cold damage freeze the water? Would electrical damage effect anyone who touched the Orb?
What would happen?
Assume a character is a Multiclassed Vigilante Paladin-
One of the Vigilante's identities can have an alignment that is not Lawful Good. It can be assumed that while in the non-Lawful Good identity the character does not have access to their Paladin abilities.
But what about when they change identities? Would the wording of Dual Identity allow for only one identity to be a paladin and the other to be less powerful but free of the restrictions of being a Paladin, or would simply changing identities (and alignments) count as "breaking the paladin's code?"
How would this work?
Would they stack?
Armor Kilt wrote:
When you add an armored kilt to a suit of light armor, the set counts as medium armor. Likewise, a kilt and medium armor counts as heavy armor.
Mage Armor adds a +4 Armor bonus, but does not actually count as Light or Medium armor.
How do these rules interact (if at all)?
The Magic Circle Against Evil spell notes that -
If the circle of powdered silver laid down in the process of spellcasting is broken, the effect immediately ends.
and that -
You can add a special diagram (a two-dimensional bounded figure with no gaps along its circumference, augmented with various magical sigils) to make the magic circle more secure. Drawing the diagram by hand takes 10 minutes and requires a DC 20 Spellcraft check.
Are there any rules for permanent Summoning/Binding circles?
Could a caster carve a "special diagram" out in a stone floor and pour molten silver into it to make a permanent and (fairly) unbreakable circle?
Could a hoola hoop of silver be carried around as a portable ready-made summoning circle (maybe with Shrink Item to make it portable)?
Imagine that two people are aware of each other, and one of them decides to attack, but doesn't want the other to know the attack is coming.
My group has always handled this with an opposed Bluff/Sense Motive. If the bluff is successful, it begins combat as per the usual surprise round rules.
Today I learned that this is (apparently) a house rule. I can't find rules for initiating surprise combat with bluff instead of stealth anywhere.
Are there rules for this?
In our recent game a strange situation came up,
A Darkmantle cast Darkness on the room. Our Arcanist thought that since the Darkmantle was the only thing that could see, it would be the only thing effected by a Color Spray. This prompted a series of questions.
1) Does Color Spray make it's own light?
2) Does an Illusion of light actually create light people can see by?
3) If someone makes their save against a light-creating illusion, does that mean they can't see the light anymore?
4) Does a Darkness effect negate (or even effect) Illusionary light?
Would it be possible to add a feature to the site which would allow users to mark Aliases as 'inactive' or 'hidden' or something?
At this point I've been in so many games that I have more than a 150 aliases, most of them from games that have long since stopped running, and I cannot delete them.
I'd really like to be able to do some housekeeping on my Aliases tab.
Loot Tracker Current Map
It had been a year since Talas and Garridan had forged a partnership on a blasted beach. They'd taken work where they cold get it as local guides, scouts and mercenaries. They'd made a name for themselves as reliable and professional. Their unofficial office was a tavern called The Stock and Barrel.
They were waiting for a client. They didn't expect it when Thedra sat herself down across from them.
"Evening, gents. I have a proposition for you."
Loot Tracker Current Map
This thread will be for discussion of the City of Arch game collective.
Out of Game discussion for each games should be kept to those individual threads. This Discussion thread is for general discussion pertaining to all Arch games, and as a space for Arch GMs to discuss rules issues with each other. It will also act as an informal space where players across arch games can banter. When rules or organization issues come up for discussion, we ask that any banter halt until those situations are sorted out.
The Central Planning Gameplay thread will act as a connection point for all characters to be able to interact across games. Between arcs the Gameplay thread will be used to recap and report, and to set up the next arc.
Information about Arch itself can be found in the Campaign Info tab.
Loot Tracker Current Map
Darian was late again.
Nathaniel Shepherd tapped his stylus against his glassteel slate in a slow staccato rhythm that echoed through the small unadorned meeting chamber.
"You knew he was going to be late, didn't you?" Nate asked the Oracle.
"Yes." the Oracle shrugged.
"So why didn't you just set the meeting time for when he was going to show up?" Nate said, clearly annoyed.
"It doesn't work that way. I knew he was going to be late. I didn't know exactly how late. The meeting time was an educated guess." the Oracle didn't tend to get impatient. Everything happened in its own time. While he waited he played a mindless game on his own slate, matching and manipulating geometric colored illusions as they appeared in sequence.
"Some all seeing Oracle you are." Thedra said with a wry smile. She stretched her arms behind her head and leaned back in her chair. Next to her a small glowing orb of light hung in the air.
"I don't think there's any amount of premonition that could predict the comings and goings of our dear Headmaster." the Oracle shook his head. He lost the game he was playing and looked up just in time to see Darian walk through the door.
His clothes were badly burned and his skin was looking new and pink, a sign of recent healing. He took his seat with a smile. "Sorry I'm late. That Lizardman Demigod possessed some priest of his and started raising his army from the dead. Had to go off city to deal with it."
"How many times do you have to kill that guy?" Thedra said, a bit amazed.
"Twice more." The Oracle said.
"Goooood to know." Darian said. "Anyway, meeting time?"
Nate called them to order. "Shard, you may begin." he said to the small glowing sphere near Thedra. It chimed and it's surface became a silvery mirror, showing them all in a distorted reflection.
Nate began ticking things off this slate. "Darian Kale, is present representing the Academy. Thedra Locke is present representing the Watch. The Oracle is present representing the Harbinger Contingencies. Nathaniel Shepherd is present representing the council. The Godstone Archon Shard is recording."
"First order of business: New blood. We've lost a lot of citizens recently. The next generation of Scions is still children. The academy is all but empty. We need to bring in Petitioners."
"I know where we can find a few." Thedra said pulling up some information on her slate. "They have the spark, but no contact has been made. We were dealing with the situation with that Genie and the Foundation at the time. They were tagged. I think we can find them again without much trouble."
Nate nodded. "Darian, how fast can you have them through the academy?"
Darian shrugged and looked to the Oracle. "If I can have access to the Experience Vault, I can have them through before the next Harbinger cycle."
The Oracle looked wary. "I'll have to vet them personally. A full liable probably analysis. If there's negligible mnemonic risk, then I can give you authorization."
"Second order of business:" Nate said, moving on. "The Labyrinth has been moved entirely off-city. All the breeches have been closed, but it is too late to really contain. The Architect says he's managed to mostly stabilize the structural infection, but it means some areas of the city are still uninhabitable. The spread has been stopped, but nearly fifteen percent of the city is now a quarantine zone."
Thedra picked up where Nate left off. "There are still missing people, and a number of flagged individuals have disappeared into this new maze, and we have reports that there have been portals opening and closing in the quarantined area. The unpredictable magics and shifting terrain is making our attempts at divination extremely unreliable. The entire place is a huge security risk."
"What's the risk to our people?" Darian asked.
"From the infection itself? None." Nate answered. "Only structures seem effected. Golems and artificial persons are at risk, but living creatures are only in danger from the sudden changes in their surroundings."
"Doesn't sound so bad." Darian grinned.
"Imagine trying to find your way out of a constantly changing maze that is also a giant angry Mimic." Nate said dryly.
"Huh. Yeah, I can see how that would be a problem." Darian said, no longer grinning.
"We need people skilled enough to scout the labyrinth and bring back information about what is going on inside. We need eyes inside and the Watch doesn't have manpower to spare." Thedra said pointedly.
"So I'm hearing 'train people faster.' Same as the last problem." Darian said with a small shake of his head. Then his eyes narrowed in thought. "What is the current threat assessment?"
"Journeyman scale." The Oracle said simply.
"The Crucible." Darian said, smiling again.
Thedra slowly joined his smile. Nate frowned. "What?"
"I've been meaning to come up with a new Crucible anyway." Darian explained. "Everyone knew about the forest. Students were starting to tell stories about it. This sounds like a great fit. Two birds with one stone."
Thedra nodded. "I like it. Means a nearly constant scout rotation through the quarantine. Also means when we lose people, they're still in city. No more trying to search that whole damn forest for bodies."
"So we're going to use a dangerous site of magical flux as a testing ground for unproven students?" Nate said, making some notes. He didn't particularly sound surprised.
"Same as before, really. Just urban instead of wilderness." Darian said innocently.
Nate sighed. "Third order of business." He didn't continue. He simply looked worried and looked up at the Oracle.
"Containment of the Eternium artifacts has been extremely draining. Together with the expenditures from the recent attacks that has meant we have lost a lot of our reserve energies. The Harbinger is nearing a critical risk state. I'm recommending that anyone we can spare be asked to donate Experience."
Thedra's brow furrowed. "I'll put the word out."
"This is going to mean a major reshuffling of our power structure." Nate said, sounding worried.
"We've done it before." the Oracle said. "We know what to expect."
I haven't looked into it too much, but it seems like the variant Multiclassing system could be used to give Dual Identity to any class. Then you could do the vigilante shtick with whatever you wanted. Opens the door to a lot of thematic options.
Barbarian Vigilante: Hulk
Assume the creature being moved is controlling the grapple. Then they get moved into another square.
Bull Rush, Reposition, Drag, Hydraulic Push, Force Punch, Awesome Blow, Create Pit, Reverse Gravity, and a lot of other abilities can move creatures around against their will. How do those abilities interact with Grappling?
1) The Grapple ends. No CMD/CMB check necessary. The grappler can't hold on so the grappled creature loses the grappled condition.
2) The Grapple does not end. No appropriate check to breaqk the grapple has been made, so the grapple continues and the creature being grappled goes along for the ride.
3) Circumstantial. Because the rules are unclear this is entirely GM arbitration territory.
Can someone killed by attribute damage be brought back to life by Breath of Life?
Breath of Life seems to presuppose that the target was killed by hit point damage, but it only actually makes an exception for Death Effects.
The Dreamweaver's Dreamspinner ability is all about affecting sleeping characters with mind effecting spells. The DC's go up, and even if the target succeeds at a save, they still don't remember the save or wake up.
That seems awesome, except for this-
Targeting a Spell wrote:
So that means this whole section-
Dream Spinner wrote:
At 2nd level, when a dreamweaver casts a mind-affecting spell on a target that is sleeping because of her slumber hex or a spell she cast, she adds +1 to the mind-affecting spell's DC. If the target succeeds at the saving throw against the spell, it does not wake up, nor does it have any recollection of having resisted a spell.
-is completely irrelevant.
It doesn't matter what the DC is because the target can't resist. It doesn't matter if the target won't remember being effected if it makes it's save, because it can't make a save in the first place.
The only part of the ability that is left is this-
If appropriate, the dreamweaver may incorporate elements of a mind-affecting spell (i.e., sow thoughts, suggestion, and so on) into the target's subconscious so it believes the spell's effects originated in its dreams (the details of how these elements fit into the dream is up to the GM).
-which is kinda neat, but not really anything more than fluff.
So am I missing something, or is this whole ability essentially a typo?
What is it supposed to do?
In order to enchant something the base item has to be masterwork. Generally speaking it also has to have something to do with the skill being boosted. (Boots of Elvenkind giving stealth bonuses by helping the wearer move quietly, for example)
A specially crafted item designed to facilitate a certain task sounds an awful lot like a Masterwork Tool to me.
So, would/could the item being enchanted also be a masterwork tool?
Since masterwork tools grant Circumstance bonuses and enchantments grant Competence bonuses, they stack, which means pretty much all listed skill-boosting items could grant a bonus two higher than listed for an extra 50 gold tacked onto the cost.
Am I missing anything here?
If a familiar had the ability to cast a spells, could they use Share Spells to cast a spell with a target of 'You' on their Master?
I can't seem to find an answer to this on the boards. I can't believe it hasn't come up yet considering the Titan Mauler exists.
If a Medium creature is wielding a longspear for a Large creature, what is the medium creature's effective reach?
A) Large Longspears are 20' long. The reach of the creature is 20 feet.
B) Large longspears double a large creature's natural reach (10 feet), which means the weapon itself is 10 feet long. Add that to the medium creature's natural reach, and we conclude that the creature's reach is 15 feet.
C) Something else.
Just came across These Photographs which show the gear english military personnel have carried over the years.
Looks like a lot to drag about, don't it?
It got me thinking about the gear adventurers carry around. Think about it all laid out like that, and how an adventurer might pack for maximum efficiency.
Makes you appreciate Handy Haversacks and Bags of Holding doesn't it?
This thread is for discussing what adventurers carry, how they carry it, what living out of a backpack is really like, and ways of making lugging all that junk around easier.
Read the rules carefully, and you might be confused.
Aid Another wrote:
It turns out, according to the rules the best way of protecting someone isn't by being next to them. It's by being next to the person attacking them.
I could almost buy that, except that the following feats use Aid Another as a core mechanic-
So now we have a problem.
A guy with a shield is a bad bodyguard. What you want is a guy with a polearm! You don't want your bodyguard next to you. You want them in the middle of as many enemies as possible! Their ability to protect you is contingent on how many people they Threaten with their weapon, not on weather they are between you and someone trying to stab you! Someone should probably tell the Secret Service they're doing it all wrong.
Bodyguards are also completely helpless against ranged weapons. There is no such thing as "taking a bullet" for someone. It can't happen. It doesn't even matter if the bodyguard is threatening the shooter. All they can do is take a normal AoO and hope that shot they couldn't stop wasn't an Arrow of Slaying.
Basically, Bodyguard and In Harms Way are counter-intuitive and bad.
This came up in a game i'm in. I'm pretty sure I understand it, but I wanted to be sure. Please let me know if any of these statements seem incorrect-
Spells like Alter Self and Disguise Self do not allow you to assume the form of a specific creature. They also grant a bonus to the Disguise skill.
The Disguise skill can be used to pretend to be a specific creature.
When using the Disguise skill to pretend to be a specific creature you still get the bonus from the spell. It is the skill that allows it. The magic is making it easier by more closely matching your shape to that of the creature being copied.
Is that correct?
The idea of a Werewolf Antipaladin is super cool and kind of an obvious fit, but there's this potential wrench in the gears-
Plague Bringer wrote:
Plague Bringer makes note of damage and penalties but leaves out any potential benefits a disease might bestow.
The question is, can antipaladins even become lycanthropes.
Lycanthropy is listed as a Curse, but the description of it (and the cure) specifically call it out as a disease. It seems to be both.
So, by my reading there's a few possibilities-
1) Lycanthropy is a Curse, does not count as a Disease and effects the Antipaladin normally (I call this the boring option).
2) Antipaladins can only be carriers of lycanthropy, sort of like a werewolf Typhoid Mary, passing anger and hair growth everywhere they go. The trail of spawned manbeasts would be almost impossible to track back to the anti paladin (great option for a mystery-oriented game plot)
3) Antipaladins can become lycanthropes, but are actually immune to the drawbacks of the disease. They don't go crazy under the full moon, they don't have any of the usual signs, they might not even have a weakness to silver. (Antipaladins make the best lycanthropes. This seems powerful, but rather appropriate.)
What about Vampirism?
Kreig is a 9th level Paladin of the Holy Light, Tier 3 Guardian.
He has a Strength of 25, Mythic Power Attack and Mythic Vital Strike.
He wields a +2 Large sized Bastard Sword (he has the Exotic weapon proficiency and wields it in two hands).
At 9th level he took the Legendary Weapon mythic power twice (using both his Path ability and his Mythic feat) to turn his favorite weapon into a Minor Artifact and added the Foe Biting quality to it.
Foe Biting wrote:
Foe-Biting: When this item deals damage, its user can use mythic power to double the total amount of damage it deals. If the attack is a normal attack, the bearer can expend one use of legendary power to double the total amount of damage. If the attack is a confirmed critical hit, the bearer must instead expend two uses of legendary power to double the total damage. Damage from weapon special abilities (such as flaming) and precision-based damage are also doubled. This ability can be applied only to weapons. An item must be a minor or major artifact to have this ability.
So now the math that Kreig hits with is pretty ridiculous. It seems like it might not work the way we think it does.
Here's Kreig's math. Can any of you smart rules people break this down and tell us if we're doing anything wrong?
4d8+4 Base weapon damage while Vital Striking (+2 Large bastard sword)
+10 Strength Damage (str mod +7, two handing)
+13 damage, Mythic Power Attack (base +9, and two handing)
Mythic Vital Strike doubles both the strength damage (+20) and the power attack damage (+26), bringing the total so far to:
+18 damage is added from Smite (level 9 Paladin, doubled by Mythic Vital Strike)
+2 damage from Aura of Light (+1 base, doubled by Mythic Vital Strike)
Total so far:
Let's assume Kreig hits with this pile of math. Then, he spends a Mythic point to use Foe Biter. Damage is now:
Then, Kreig spends another Mythic point to take an additional Standard action (from Amazing Initiative, tier 2 ability). He uses it to Vital Strike again.
Kreig's new damage total (assuming he hits with both attacks), for the cost of 3 Mythic points and 1 use of Smite, is now:
Is this math correct? Are we doing something wrong?
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This will be the campaign thread for the second group of Royal Archeologists.
Loot Tracker Current Map
Base camp wasn't much. A few good sized tents. Some wind-breaks tied between scraggly trees. A good sized fire where the cook was bubbling up some kind of stew for the evening meal. A half-dozen bored guards sitting on top of crates of various supplies playing dice games. A few energetic academics arguing over a map.
They'd been here for two days getting set up and settled in.
They'd been waiting for the professionals who's job it was to delve into these sorts of dilapidated ruins. The royal explorer's society was fairly new. They wanted to bring back treasures and lost knowledge and tales of success.
Mostly what they'd found so far was collapsing caverns filled with dangerous things that had moved in when the original builders had left.
It was hard to find people crazy enough to go into these sorts of places. It was harder to find people skilled enough to come back.
Everyone was anxious to see what kinds of characters were on the wagon that was rolling up the trail...
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This thread will be for Out Of Character discussion for Doomed Hero's Tales of the Royal Explorer's Society campaign.
All expeditions fully supported and funded. Wages based on potential danger, as determined by pre-survey Divinations. Professionals and qualified experts only. Apply within.
This game will be a series of classic dungeon crawls. Your characters will be professional dungeon-delvers hired to survey and clear various ancient ruins.
The dungeons will be randomly created by This Program, and then edited by me to create an interesting archeological concept for what the ruin is and why it was built.
The general feel and culture of the setting is loosely based on a fantasy version of early renaissance england. There are ruins built on ruins and much of history has been lost or is poorly understood. The crown has managed to unify the land under one rule and and the Royal Archeological Society has been founded to uncover and document the many mysteries of the past.
The story is set in a "generic" low-magic fantasy world. All the standard fantasy tropes are included, but there are no "magic marts" or fully stocked "adventurer walmarts."
Instead, loot will be based on what is randomly generated by the dungeon.
In addition, between dungeons, I will randomly roll for what items have been recovered from other ruin sites that are available for player purchase.
In spite of the randomized nature of the game, I plan on attempting to narratively connect the dungeons based on the character's actions. Recurring themes and villains are definitely going to be included, though none have been determined yet.
It is my hope to create a narrative organically as the party discovers more and more about the ancient history of the setting.
Recruitment will be open for as long as it needs to be to create a solid four person group.
20 Point Buy
Core Races Only (going for a more classic feel)
2nd Level starting wealth
Divine Characters: This game is not set in Golarion, so we will not use the Golarion gods. Instead, being that the setting is loosely based on Britain, we will use Norse, Celtic, Roman and early Christian mythology as the foundation of our cosmology. Instead of picking a god, simply pick domains appropriate to your character' concept, and we'll fill in the appropriate god at a later point.
Being an explorer/ruin delver/treasure hunter/archeologist/bodyguard/historean or something of that nature is a must. Your character is a professional. They have to want to be there. This game will not be creating motivations for you. The story hook is that this is your job.
Please do not create ties to other characters until after selections have been made. Character ties will be discussed in the discussion thread.
No Item Creation feats.
Anyone with a BaB of +1 or higher may attempt Combat Maneuvers without provoking Attacks of Opportunity.
Reposition: The caveat about not being able to move people into danger with this maneuver is removed. (seriously, why else would you want to do it?)
Power Attack and Combat Expertise are granted as bonus feats at +1 BaB. (These are things that everyone familiar with weapons knows how to do.)
Dervish Dance is weapon-specific (like weapon focus) may be used with any Finesse-able weapon. This feat may be taken more than once, but applies to a different weapon each time. (dex-martials deserve some love)
Anyone proficient in Martial Weapons may use a spear of any kind in one hand.
Reach Weapons use the 3.5 Exception (letting them threaten on diagonals) and do not use the ranged weapon soft cover rules.
Magical Mishaps: Spells don't "fizzle." Anyone that fails a concentration check doesn't simply lose the spell. Instead, the Scroll Mishaps rules will be consulted to see what happens to the magical energy when it is interrupted.
I've been thinking about a game based around short scenarios with a "rotating cast" for some time. This would allow people who cannot commit to years of gameplay to try their hand at PBP games, and would allow new players to get some experience. It would also create a "guild" atmosphere where characters would come and go from the overall narrative.
This is going to be my attempt at creating that game.
In the event of character death, I will be returning to the Recruitment thread and Private Messaging a suitable replacement. Players who's characters die are encouraged to make new explorers, but may need to wait for a slot to open.
I'd like to do one small dungeon over the course of 3 to 6 months. Then I will re-open recruitment for a new team for a new mission. Characters from successful missions will be able to re-apply, but are not guaranteed a position in the next mission.
This game will be written in 3rd person narrative. I'd also like players to keep out of character commentary in the Discussion thread. OOC text is reserved for clarification of actions and information directly related to gameplay. I'd like the posts to flow from one to the next as much as possible. If we do it right, it will feel like a novel, which makes things very fun. I believe that immersion in a play by post game is mostly dependent on quality writing. I will absolutely give special consideration to people who's writing engages me. Posting in text-speak is grounds for a sudden, localized cave-in.
I post daily during the week and when I can during the weekend. I'd like players to be able to keep up with me. I am not a tyrant, but if you go more than a day or two without posting or notice as to why you are missing, I reserve the right to NPC your character. If it happens more than once, there is a good chance your character will suffer a tragic accident and have to be replaced.
If this game runs as smoothly as I hope, I may open a second game that will run concurrent with the first, and may even be taking place in another area of the same dungeon (a different team in the same general area). Character cross-over and interaction is likely.