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Weirdo wrote:
Kelleris wrote:
I actually go the opposite way on this - in my games, each new rank gives your number of ranks in additional languages. So rank 1 gives you 1 additional language, rank 2 gives you two more, and so on.

My only problem with this is that PCs are likely to run out of languages.

Of course, if you use this together with adding a bunch of regional languages and dialects, and perhaps learning alphabets separately, then it could work very well and really reward high investment in the skill.

I generally just hand-wave it after a certain point - at around 10 ranks I'll just assume that the character speaks anything in a broad area like "planar languages" or "Avistani languages" unless it's extremely obscure, and at around 15 ranks the skill is functionally equivalent to tongues except in very odd cases. If there's some question on the matter, I'll ask for a Linguistics check and we note it down as one of the character's languages if they succeed.


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I actually go the opposite way on this - in my games, each new rank gives your number of ranks in additional languages. So rank 1 gives you 1 additional language, rank 2 gives you two more, and so on.

I don't think this is unrealistic at all, though. As noted, there are real life examples of people speaking two dozen languages fluently, and, to me, 14 ranks in a skill represents far more ability in that area than any real-world human being has ever had or will ever have - yet, by the base rules, 14 ranks can't even duplicate something real people occasionally do. Once you get past level 5 or so, everything you do is better than anyone in real life could manage anyway. Why shouldn't Linguistics work the same way?

The rapid level-ups found in most campaigns are a pet peeve, but that's not unique to languages...


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So, I'm not very happy with the organizational management rules that are associated with Kingmaker and Ultimate Campaign, for unimportant reasons. So I decided to write up my own system for faction-level play (although I borrowed some ideas from Stars Without Number).

Here's the Google Drive link -

Faction Rules v2.0

Design Goals:

    1) Plays fairly quickly, while allowing interesting choices from faction leaders.
    2) Mechanically concrete, but flavor-light. I enjoy making up in-world descriptions for various mechanical results and events as they arise, and so do my players. So there's little hardcoded flavor.
    3) Works for a variety of scales. It can do gang warfare and intergalactic warfare just as easily.
    4) Accommodates weird factions that don't have a traditional state-based political structure.
    5) Is chaotic and unpredictable, since it's as much of an adventure seed generator as anything else.
    6) Is short, since my players are bums. (It's only 6 pages in the current draft.)

We've so far played out part of a time skip between one campaign and the next using this system, and it's had very interesting results. Maybe it'll be useful to you, and I'm happy for any suggestions!

Potential Concerns: I'm not 100% sure that the attributes are roughly on par, or that all-eggs-one-basket versus balanced-attribute playstyles are interestingly incentivized in different ways. The event charts are wildly unpredictable in their effects on the game, which may not be to your taste. Direct interactions between factions might need to be encouraged a bit more.

Potential Areas for Expansion: Rules for how PC stats and actions interact with the faction-level stuff. I pretty much just eyeball that sort of thing right now. (I might, for example, say that players can do a sidequest to recover a point of damage to an attribute instead of taking a regular faction turn to do it.) Faction-building rules might be useful, too - I just assigned stats by fiat in my campaign.


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My name is Matthew Kelsey, and I'm asking about Order 4080109. I purchased the Curse of the Crimson Throne hardback, and asked to have it delivered to my Denver address. But the order history is very confusing. It says that the book both has and has not shipped, and I see in my sidecart a copy of the book slated to go to Grand Prairie with my next AP subscription. So something seems out of whack. Just to clarify, then, I'd like it shipped to the aforementioned Denver address and not bundled with the AP subscription.


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Towards the end of my Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign, I started limiting buffs in this way to a number of spell levels equal to your level plus your Charisma modifier. That seemed to work pretty well in terms of limiting the effectiveness of buffs, though it doesn't really save time since people have to be choosier about what they accept. Makes Charisma more useful, too. I did have to house-rule that the party alchemist could benefit from more buffs than other characters, but that was easily done. "Buffs" being defined here as spells with a non-instantaneous duration that are either (a) harmless, per the tag in the saving throw entry, or (b) chosen by the character to waive the usual saving throw.

In my case, though, the primary motivation was that I was getting annoyed by how mandatory being heavily-buffed was. It makes it hard to use non-spellcasting characters or straight monsters as effective villains, and it makes the disparity between a buffed and a non-buffed character too ridiculous.


I put the whole thing into a single map page on Roll20 - it turned out to be pretty blurry, but in the end it was worth it, since due to an unusual sequence of events the PCs discovered the layout of the interior very quickly (from Castothrane, as it happened) and started poking away at the place from all angles. Though one problem I did run into is that the exterior of the Castle, and particularly the battlements and towers, are very hard to map properly. There were a few fights with aerial foes that I basically just handwaved, mapwise.


Ascalaphus wrote:

I personally don't like the abruptness of the troop auto-hitting mechanic.

Look, here's 11 individual level 1 mooks with 1d8 crossbows that only hit PCs on a 20 due to them being armored like level 7 PCs. Expected damage is (4.5 * (0.05 * 0.95) * 11) + (9.0 * (0.05 * 0.05) * 11) = 2.59875 in total.

Now we add a 12th and can make them a troop. Suddenly they can shoot four lines per round doing 2d8+4 to everything in a line (reflex halves).

I certainly wouldn't want to roll to-hit for 12 such mooks every round, but I don't like how the troop rules ignore the AC of PCs.

I've used a version of the rules EN Publishing used for their War of the Burning Sky not-an-AP-honest a while back. It covers about 20 creatures, and involves some fairly simple adjustments to the base stat block. HD and hit points are multiplied by 6, the creature gets +20 to attack (to represent aiding another and sheer mass of attacks), deals triple damage with all of its attacks (since even a hive mind can only layer so many attacks in a round), and increases two size categories for CMB, CMD, and space (but not reach) purposes. There are some generic unit traits that provide common-sense immunities, and area attacks inflict multiples of damage for every full quarter of the unit's space the attack can cover. Special attacks have +20 to the save DC. The CR is nominally +6 for the template, but it's very swingy in practice, so you have to eyeball it. I'll often add individually-targetable leaders or other special abilities on an ad-hoc basis as well, but no rules for that really.

Anyway, I like that template. It still produces weird results sometimes, but by and large you end up with common-sensical stats and ability interactions, and best of all the connection between base creature stats and unit stats is really clear.


Wow. Nothing to add, really, just wanted to say this was pretty amazing. I'm running Curse of the Crimson Throne now, but I think I'll look back at Council of Thieves for the next round...


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Villainous speech from Lady Andaisin in the Temple of Urgathoa for me. Just to up the stakes a bit, I had the Urgathoans go off the reservation and plan to destroy the whole city. When they finally defeated Andaisin she told them about the Queen's underhanded population control measures. Then Rolth, who'd been working with them, Suddenly But Inevitably Betrayed the party and made off with the doohickey he was after, trapping them underground. They eventually escaped, but it took long enough for the city to be transformed. Fun times!

For me, one of the best parts of this adventure path is getting to see the Queen gaining power and resources alongside the party, so I've really played that aspect up. I expanded her inner circle, too, so they have a number of rivalries there. Should be very satisfying to wrap things up (we're just getting into the final book).


S'mon wrote:
Matthew Kelsey wrote:
As I mentioned over here, I've also had it serve as a sort of neutral ground in my campaign, particularly since I decided that the giant hexagon wards against divinations - so it's a good place for plotters.

Yep, I did that too - did we just make it up, or is it official somewhere? :)

Factions - on their first visit my PCs got in with the Duskwardens and helped them deal with a Gray Render in the prison levels, then took out a renegade Zon-Kuthonite dark naga in the Undercity that had been using cloakers etc to raid the Dusklight Path. This time they're meeting the Pharasma clerics at the Godsmouth Ossuary getting a PC raised, and one has been invited to dinner with the Freemen - he has a rep as a 'people's champion' back in Korvosa.

You know, I was rereading City of Strangers the other day, and I couldn't find it. So I guess I made it up on the spot? Who knows, right? I always like to have places of magic like that have some sort of really obvious effect that influences day-to-day life in the city, though. Good for the flavor and such.

At any rate, it sounds like you've got a lot going on in Kaer Maga. It's mostly just been background for me, up to this point, and I'm not sure how many sessions it would take to build up that much of a repertoire. I'm currently trying to decide if there's a good way to at least name-check all the cool bits. I figure a bunch of Red Mantis showing up and a foreign queen fomenting war with the Shoanti would bring all manner of things out of the woodwork, at least.

I'm staying away from the deep spaces, though, so it might be hard to include the Duskwardens. I'm thinking along the lines of extensive polarization between the different factions about how to respond to Ileosa and the Shoanti problem. Then it's a matter of figuring out who wants what...


Oh, I've been looking at Psychological Combat for a while now. Hmm. I'm having the same "I'm not worthy" reaction that everyone else is, though. Heh.


As I mentioned over here, I've also had it serve as a sort of neutral ground in my campaign, particularly since I decided that the giant hexagon wards against divinations - so it's a good place for plotters. Right now they're about to do a cat-and-mouse thing with the Red Mantis over some NPCs that were taken as hostages, and I'd like to throw in a few of the more interesting factions to deal with along the way.

It kind of goes against the "hive of scum and villainy" vibe, but since my players are 12th level now, I want to give them a chance to throw their weight around in the process. With the Queen in charge of Korvosa and needing to make nice with the Shoanti, they haven't really gotten to experience the joys of being big shots in this campaign, and Kaer Maga seems like the best place for them to do that.


For various reasons*, the group I run for needs to locate and rescue a handful of important NPC types from a cell of assassins in Kaer Maga. I'd like to crib from somewhere, though, to make my life easier as the party tries to figure out where the assassin base is before the assassins can track them down and strike with overwhelming force. So I'm looking for an adventure I can adapt for that purpose.

The level doesn't really matter too much, since I can adjust all the fighting stats - I'm mostly looking for names, NPC networks, maps, and the like I can swipe and modify as needed. I've got all the APs up through to Giantslayer, and all the third-edition-era Dungeon magazines too, to draw from.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

*Various reasons, from Curse of the Crimson Throne:
They're playing through a heavily-modified version of History of Ashes at the moment. Due to paranoia and a pathological aversion to the spotlight, the Red Mantis is having a very hard time finding them, so Cinnabar has decided to lure them into a trap instead by kidnapping Vencarlo Orsini, Cressida Kroft, and Zenobia Zenderholme, who have all been assisting the party on the sly up until now. So I need something to build a proper cat-and-mouse game on, preferably giving the party a fair but not guaranteed shot at saving the NPCs in question. Resurrection is limited in my game, so "let them die, raise them later" isn't an option. I've also established the ring in Kaer Maga as being warded against divinations, so no cheap-shot locate creature effects, either - it's why the Red Mantis chose this location, actually. As a result, lower-level plots should work fine, even though the party's actually 12th level.


I've always solved this problem by handing out "hero" points based on plot relevance, which they can use for making clutch saves or grabbing extra actions or whatever. One nice thing about this is that it means that save-or-sucks are still worth casting - if you force the BBEG to spend a hero point to weasel out, that's a measurable contribution to the win that follows the attrition model more than the up-or-down model that makes these sort of effects so unsatisfying usually.

Generally, I give important named NPCs one such point that refreshes every time the PCs level, 2 if they're extremely plot-relevant, or 3 if they're high-level BBEGs and I want a really epic fight. One other nice thing about this is that it is far easier to have recurring baddies who actually matter if they can pull this trick - they use a hero point or two to escape, but then when they come back they don't necessarily get those points back, so the earlier victory by the PCs means something.


*Exactly* a 90, not a 90 or better? Then you just multiply out the probabilities - 1/100 cubed. It's exactly a one in a million shot.

ETA: Probably should've expected to get ninja'd here...


This is kind of a brilliant idea, it seems to me - and it actually fits in nicely with the deliberately abstract nature of hit points. I think I would probably limit it to major NPCs, however, since the right effects ought too be able to one-shot mooks without too much trouble and since some of these abilities are used to get a deliberate status effect and not just to win a fight (sleeping enemies as a nonlethal way of dealing with them, paralyzing them so you can capture them, making them shaken so you can run them off with another fear effect, etc. etc.).

You have it limited to CR greater than caster level as it is, but why not just make it a matter of GM fiat? At least in my campaigns, it would be pretty obvious who could do it and who couldn't.


Jason S wrote:

CotCT is an unusual campaign in the sense that it’s an urban sandbox and there are many ways to approach problems and many decisions to be made.

I think it would be fun if we shared some of the unusual decisions that the PCs made during this campaign.
“Did your PCs do anything unexpected?”
“Did your PCs do anything to drive the campaign slightly off the rails?”

** spoiler omitted **

Let’s hear your stories.

This seems like an odd thread to have a bunch of spoiler tags in? Maybe just put one in the thread title, since it would be hard to talk about these things without spoilers.

Anyway, the thing that's been amusing me the most so far is that my group has been borderline-completionist about allying with major bad guys against other major bad guys. Shenanigans!

Spoiler:
So far, they've done the friendly-rivals thing with an evil adventuring party I introduced; worked with Rolth and Jolistina against the Urgathoans in exchange for helping the former become Seneschal; aided Sabina Marrin in cracking down on the Thieves' Guild; assisted the Red Mantis in finding Neolandus in a trade of information; allied with Vimanda in a coup against Glorio; are presently planning to fight with the Grey Maidens against the remaining Arkona forces; and more or less ended up working for Sorshen to prevent Ileosa from monkeying about with Ancient Thassilonian Stuff. It's happening so frequently it's basically a theme with our game, and I've got plans to keep it rolling past the third adventure...

The Sorshen situation turned out to be pretty wild, too. I had a doomsayer preaching about her rise as flavor text during the riots, and they immediately decided she was the BBEG and got *obsessed* with it. I always try to roll with these things, and ended up making her a sort of interested third party in Korvosan goings-on. As it happened, though, when they met her - in a dream - I reused the art for a powerful, not-exactly-evil NPC in a previous campaign, and someone suggested that it was the same person under a different name. I had to go with it, but it's sort of snowballed.

The NPC in question is in fact far more powerful than they ever suspected from the previous game - a 35th level character using homebrew epic rules - and in fact completely outside the scale that Paizo officially uses for their setting. (So this character is primarily a caster, but could physically slap the Oliphaunt of Jandelay to death, given its recently-published stats. I've joked that she pretended to be an immortal, god-like wizard king to hide her true power.) She also has a very different personality and goals than the official Sorshen, so I've had to rewrite the whole history of Xin-Eurythnia. But it's great, because trying to determine the motivations and resources of a nigh-omnipotent wild card has been great fun for the players.