I've run games myself, and I well know the desire to houserule things to fit your personal vision. But the GM of a game I'm currently in seems to have no real sense of how Pathfinder is intended to work, and he's constantly trying to get rid of things that he doesn't like, and replace them without any idea of what the impact will be.
For example, he hates items with +x bonuses with a passion. Especially weapons and armor. He also hates weapon and armor special abilities. So he created his own system of combining special materials (all of which are ridiculously rare and hard to work with) and specialized "designs" that only certain smiths know how to make. Now, looking at the possibilities it would be simple to make some truly gamebreaking stuff, but we rarely encounter a crafter who can create what we want, and even if we did, the pricetag is far greater than "boring normal magic items". If we deal with a smith who can't make what we want, we can sacrifice an existing item that has a special design so he can learn it. Now we're out an item with no compensation other than now this guy can make similar items for us.
As far as found items, we often come across strange weapons and armor with bizarre combinations of abilities, and rarely are we even proficient with them. For example, we once found an enchanted bone spell storing boomerang, and he couldn't comprehend why we weren't excited by it. I pointed out that 1) nobody in the party could use a boomerang, 2) neither of the spellcasters (a bard and an oracle) had anything particularly interesting to store in the boomerang, and 3) we didn't have a dedicated ranged character anyways (no point blank/precise shot).
"Well that shouldn't matter, the Fighter has a 15 Dexterity and a full base attack, so he'd be fine throwing the boomerang."
But why though?
"Well, you could put cure light wounds in it, and then it'd do damage to undead."
I should mention the boomerang didn't have returning or anything, so we'd have to constantly go fetch this overpriced monstrosity each and every time it was used. And then, when we tried to sell it, we kept getting told we'd have to go to the capitol, because no local merchant could afford it (reasonable, but kind of obnoxious- why let the party claim treasure they don't really have a use for, and then not let them trade it in, all the while claiming "I give you guys lots of treasure, you're above WBL").
Now he's decided he hates the magic system in general. This isn't particularly irksome, I agree with his general problem- that there's spells for darn near everything, and certain casters will almost always have a "magic bullet" available for any problem.
He wants casters to be specialists, with thematic spell lists. I pointed out to him that there's a big issue with this- the game is designed so that some problems have almost no solutions BUT magic, and if your caster doesn't have those solutions on hand, you're pretty much doomed.
We had a long argument about why an Oracle isn't as good a healer as a Cleric, because he's convinced Life Oracles are better than Clerics in every respect. Unfortunately, it's hard for an Oracle to have "cure status ailment X" on tap, as they have limited spell slots, while a Cleric can just pray for whatever he needs after a rest.
Anyways, he just handed me this long half-baked document that he wants to implement, that will force casters to choose a specialty (or 2 if your class has access to level 9 spells). But with a caveat that if you choose "opposed" specialties, you'll get a special advantage, but a disadvantage as well.
In addition, he's completely reworked spell resistance. Now your spell resistance is basically temporary hit points versus spell damage, so if you have SR 22, you ignore 22 points of spell damage, like it's some sort of ablative armor. You recover SR at a rate of 1 point per minute.
I think he was inspired by the system used by Divinity 2. Lord knows how this is going to interact with Spell Penetration or Elves. There's also some nonsense about how you can use your spell resistance to ignore status effects based on a "severity rating"- as I understand it, dazzled is equal to 3 points of "damage", while frightened is equal to 5 or something.
Also, he hates damage to ability scores (who doesn't?) but he's decided to replace them with a static penalty that persists until you get the damage healed. For example, if you have any Strength damage, you deal half damage with weapons until the Strength damage is recovered. If you have any Wisdom damage, your saving throw bonuses are HALVED until it's recovered.
Immediately I realized this is going to largely favor monsters over players, but he's like "oh you're just worrying too much".
Oh about the specializations- they're divided into "elements" of magic that he's come up with for his game world, such as Darkness, Light, Fire, Cold, Earth, and...Mystic (I have NO idea). He's assigned a school of magic to each one. You can also "double specialize" in one element for greater bonuses.
The first example is Fire/Evocation, which increases all damage dice of spells to d12's, AND to increase spell damage caps by TEN. Double specializing allows you to ignore all fire resistance, and treat fire immunity as if it were fire resist 15. Probably fine, because ok, sure, a 20d12 fireball sounds scary at level 20, but it's only damage.
Then there's the "Mystic" double spec, which increases save DC's of spells by SIX.
I can provide more information if desired, but these are just the highlights. At this point, I'm not sure if there's anything I can say that can convince him that he's warped the game in ways he cannot begin to comprehend. But I feel this is all going to end badly. Either way, I'm curious what other people would do- leave the game? Fight the insanity? Find some way to abuse the system and enjoy the (likely very short) ride?
Not really a rules question, but I'm kind of confused. I have a Bonded Witch who selected a Wand as her Bonded Item. Looking at the spells I can cast with it, I noticed the level 9 spell is an Empowered and Maximized Fire Shield.
Fire Shield does 1d6 damage, +1 per level, max of +15. Empowered increases the random part of the spell by +50% and Maximized...maximizes it.
So as I understand it, all of this ensures that the most powerful spell I can use from my wand is a 24 damage fire shield.
I'm...not sure what the point of that is, so I'm wondering if I'm missing something?
Age categories are weird anyways- a shorter-lived race with access to Reincarnate can reap the benefits of age then magically gain the lifespan of an Elf, all before an actual Elf would hit middle age.
Now imagine the reverse, an Elf Reincarnated as a Goblin- do they gain the benefits of aging at the Elven or Goblin rates? Because they could die of old age before hitting Elven middle age!
(Goblins hit middle age at 20 and their maximum lifespan is 40+1d20 years vs. the Elf who hits middle age at 175).
Protean is far from the worst offender since scientific laws explicitly work in the World of Darkness until they don't (darned Mages). How does Vicissitude do...well, anything? Or worse, Obtenebration lvl 5 which turns you into a shadow that can either have no mass or negative mass (since it allows you to 'fall' in an upwards direction).
"Because, magic, that's why" is an excuse used in just about every fantasy game ever. Which I'd be fine with if two things were true:
1) the rules for "magic" were given.
2) people weren't worried about how physics applies to anything that is not explicitly magic.
Which brings me to the worst argument of all time. "It's not realistic".
"Well it's not realistic that a character can fall 100 feet and not be reduced to a pile of broken bones AT BEST...oh Feather Fall? Sure, that's legit..."
I'm not saying that he did violate the spirit of the Feat or not, I didn't mean to be accusatory- just that any time something like this occurs, that you need to consider if you are or not, and how you'd rule if the positions were reversed- sometimes I find I need that shift in perspective.
By the rules of the Feat, the GM did make a legal action. That's pretty much it for a rules discussion. I'm going to spoil the rest of this, as it falls outside of a rules question.
Whether this violates the SPIRIT of the Feat, or it's intent, is another matter entirely. I think it's a good thing to step back a bit and ask yourself how you would rule this scenario if an NPC was using the Feat, and a player said "Well, since I can't reach him, I'll at least move in his direction, but I'm going to use my action to attack someone else, since there's no way I could attack him".
I've had issues with GM's along these lines before, like the time I was hit by a Suggestion, and I followed the exact words the NPC used, instead of the intent. I thought I was rather clever, and the GM thought I was being a bastard. I think we were both right, lol. But I then offered to change my action if he felt I was abusing the intent of the spell.
If you feel that you'd be ok with a player styming the intent of the Feat, or that you feel the Feat's mechanics ARE the intent of the Feat, that's perfectly fine and valid.
The only other thing to really consider as a GM is if that ruling adds to the fun (or at least, doesn't detract from the fun) of the game. Which should be the highest priority.
So if I've heard this right, the breakdown is as follows:
Spell Combat is "like two-weapon fighting".
Two-Weapon Fighting grants a bonus attack on a full attack.
Whirlwind Attack allows you, when making a full attack, to forfeit your normal attacks to attack each enemy within reach once. You also forfeit any bonus or extra attacks granted by other feats, spells, or abilities.
This prevents Two-Weapon Fighting from granting extra attacks while using Whirlwind Attack.
But...Spell Combat states that the spell takes the place of an off-hand weapon, not an attack. In fact, you can use a weapon in your off-hand while making a Whirlwind Attack if you so choose, you just don't get any extra attacks while doing so.
So the crux of the argument is basically "is casting a spell during Whirlwind Attack considered an extra attack?".
So what about casting a Quickened Spell in the same round as Whirlwind Attack, if casting a spell is "an attack"?
Or a 10th-level Eldritch Knight who scores a critical hit during his Whirlwind Attack?
"At 10th level, whenever an eldritch knight successfully confirms a critical hit, he can cast a spell as a swift action. The spell must include the target of the attack as one of its targets or in its area of effect. Casting this spell does not provoke an attack of opportunity. The caster must still meet all of the spell's components and must roll for arcane spell failure if necessary."
Or how about casting a swift or immediate action spell in the turn you use Whirlwind Attack? You'll note all four of these questions reflect something that can occur in the core rules. If Whirlwind Attack was meant to say "also, you can't cast a spell as a swift action because that's an attack", they really could have said so.
Again, this goes back to comparing Spell Combat and Two-Weapon Fighting. You can't use the bonus attack of Two-Weapon Fighting with Whirlwind. Spell Combat is similar to TWF, but you can cast a standard action spell instead of gaining a bonus attack.
But to infer that you can't use Spell Combat to cast a spell while using Whirlwind Attack requires a leap of logic, since it's never stated the spell counts as an extra attack. The only evidence that points to such is the sentence "This functions much like two-weapon fighting, but the off-hand weapon is a spell that is being cast."
Much like. To what degree? The only time the word "attack" appears in the text for Spell Combat never refers to the spell itself. Only in reference to how and when you can make attacks using Spell Combat.
Since we're never told how much Spell Combat is like TWF other than the sentence in Spell Combat, and Spell Combat never refers to the spell as an extra attack, it's pure conjecture to say that it is an extra attack, as opposed to what it functions as- an ability that allows you to cast a spell with a different action than normal.
No different than casting a spell as a swift action, really.
Now, it is highly likely that the good people at Paizo, if/when they add their input to this question, will say that the SPIRIT of Whirlwind Attack precludes the casting of spells.
They may cite balance reasons we're not seeing. They may state that Spell Combat isn't a full attack for this purpose.
In fact, we may be inferring too much from the Spell Combat/Haste FAQ. But as the rules are written at this moment, it does appear that this could function, and there is more text to assert this is the case than the opposite.
Is simply having the answer enough? I mean, just because you know it's a medusa doesn't mean there aren't tactical decisions to be made on how to defeat it. Do you use magic to boost your saving throws, and trust in a high save? Unload on it with the best offensive magic you have? Carefully avert your gaze? Or even wear a blindfold? Figure out how to keep it more than 30' away while you plink at it with ranged abilities?
Dig in your pack to find those smoked goggles you bought five sessions ago? I mean, you'd be doing all this stuff anyways, but I think it's better to have the party figuring that out from the get go, not after the Rogue becomes a stone statue.
Milo v3- I don't have a problem with presenting my players with a problem to be solved, even in combat. How you go about dealing with a creature with an unusual ability that prevents your normal tactics from working is a challenge and overcoming challenges can be rewarding experiences.
But giving someone a puzzle to solve without telling them there is a puzzle at all? I don't like that approach. It's kind of like how traps are terrible. You notice them, and then someone can either use a skill or some creative plan to bypass them. Or you don't notice them, and you take damage or some other penalty because...you failed a check. One of those two scenarios is fun, the other is just an acid meringue pie to the face.
Come to think about it, I rarely use traps in my games either, lol.
Sideromancer- there is a lot about the game that seems to actively require or encourage metagame thinking. I've found, however, that giving the players more information means they don't have to metagame, and it's a more enjoyable experience.
A little confused by this spell. It says it can "cause one nearby corpse to animate for a brief moment" except...
The duration is instantaneous. While it doesn't talk about what happens after it makes a trip attempt, if it grapples someone, they stay grappled until they either break free, or destroy the corpse (which has 12 hp and DR 5/slashing).
So does this mean that after it's initial attack, the corpse just remains animated until someone bothers to kill it?
Friend of mine plays a Spiritualist, and he just hit level 7. And I was seriously underwhelmed.
At 7th level, he gets a 2nd-level spell as a SLA 1/day? Eh, ok, but...
Wait a minute. It targets Will, which is the best save for the undead creature it targets. It's a SLA, so the save DC is Charisma-based.
On a Wisdom-based caster?
Am I missing something here, because this seems especially bad.
Rysky- well both, really. Basically I was curious if there was a better way to handle monster knowledge that makes sure the players get the information they need to avoid a "gotcha!" moment, speeds up play, and still rewards investment in knowledges.
I know, that's a pretty tall order, and it's probably not possible to do all of that.
Mulgar- there's a style, if memory serves, and I know the Lore Warden gets bonuses for identifying monsters. I have no doubt there are others. As to the chance of being surprised...I can respect that. But I really despise monsters that are designed with the idea that the whole thing that makes them a challenge is their unknown nature. It takes the ability to make informed, tactical decisions right out of the players hands.
Take the mimic. Even if you realize it's a creature of some kind, if you don't know what it is, your melee can suddenly find themselves forced to rely on secondary, inferior weapons because their main weapons are glued to the thing...well I understand a lot of people are ok with that, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not a fan, but that's just me.
rainzax- probably the best way to go, if I want to speed up the process, and remove the element of chance. Of course, players love to roll dice, so it might not go over well, but I can try it.
Way back in the 80's, when I first got serious about playing AD&D, I was introduced to that wretched type of monster, the "gotcha" monster. The doppleganger. The Mimic. That plant monster that looks like a cute bunny rabbit on a tree stump. Gas spores that look like Beholders. Cloakers.
It's quite the tradition, and many of these creatures still exist in Pathfinder. And I hate them all, so very, very much.
When I run my games, I want to let my players make informed decisions. I don't want them finding themselves over their heads because they didn't know a monster had a strange immunity or defense, or that had a particularly lethal attack.
This is why I always allow them to roll monster knowledge. But after awhile, even though some of my players have invested in knowledge skills, I feel the die rolling to find out what a monster can do slows down play.
And they can still fail, and find themselves screwed over when they discover "yes, it's an animated object, so it has hardness, not DR", or "oh the monster is immune to that spell", while they're being beaten into a bloody pulp.
I've actually toyed with eliminating monster knowledge and just telling them what they need to know. But still reward people for actually having the skills to know about the monsters. I'm just not sure how to do that, or if I should even try.
So I'm curious how other GM's have, or would, handle this topic.
Thank you in advance for any replies!
What I mean by player agency is that there was no action we could take (this was AD&D, so rules for disarming or wrestling away a magic item were ad hoc or completely optional) to prevent the incident.
It was completely taken out of our hands. Maybe that's perfectly acceptable to many, I'm more than willing to admit that I sometimes have an odd perspective on things.
Really, the bottom line is, I don't really blame my players for being frustrated about things they couldn't realistically prevent. Now some may say well, that's how real life is, and I'd agree.
But I don't think we play games like Pathfinder to be reminded of how unfair real life is. So I try to mitigate this sort of thing when I can. Not eliminate, please, no posts about how I'm trying to turn Pathfinder into some kind of happy fun land, lol.
Ultimately, my problem, if it is a problem, is that I want to be the kind of GM whose game I'd like to play in.
And that I'm stubborn. That is a problem, and I acknowledge it. Some of you are very bewildered by what it is I want to do as a GM. I can understand that, and I'm not offended by your criticism at all.
To me, player agency includes the ability not just to affect the game world, but to be given the opportunity to make real choices. Informed decisions about what's going on. One of my friends who also GM's for the group is fond of giving us "choices"- that aren't really choices at all, because we never have any real idea of what the consequences could be.
These decision gates really come down to "do you turn left, or do you turn right?". That's no choice at all, but even that's light years better than the incident with the Wizard so long ago, where it was literally a lose-lose situation, as it was presented to us.
Of course, after the fact, the DM was like "what, there was all kinds of stuff you could do", and listed examples- but they were all things we weren't sure we could do, because he never informed us that we could try them. I've played in a lot of games where attempting an action that wasn't already in the rules, or using an ability on your character sheet, either fail, are deemed impossible, or hidden behind several difficult rolls for very little gain. I don't think I'm alone in that.
This does generate a mindset that trying to step outside the rules is bad, and it's easy to get stuck thinking that way. The only way I can think of to counter that, is to get your players to trust you, as a GM. And the best way I can earn that trust, is to show, time and again, that I'm striving to be as fair as I can be. Give the players as much information as I can to let them make real decisions, as opposed to picking a random direction and hoping for the best.
Monsters using consumables is very unpopular with the people I play Pathfinder with- the general attitude is that the monster is "drinking/eating/using our treasure".
I mean, consider this. What if, instead of giving enemies magic weapons, any enemy that has a clue the party is coming, just used oil of magic weapon? If instead of giving four enemies +1 swords, a caster enemy has a wand of magic weapon?
Sure, the extra money saved on gear would have to go somewhere, and I don't think most GM's would try to cheat the party out of loot this way- they'd make up the difference elsewhere- but the perception of the players is the important thing.
That's not saying I never have enemies use consumables, but it's not a common occurrence for these very reasons. With charged items, the party always recovers them partially charged, but I never deduct charges the NPC uses. I don't know if my players realize that, or even appreciate it, but I feel like I'm doing the right thing.
Way back in middle school, in my AD&D days, my friends and I were playing, and we had to fight an evil wizard, who had a Staff of Power. He used it's charges like candy to deal damage to us, and then when we almost had him beat, he decided to break it out of spite, dealing massive damage with it's Retributive Strike power.
That left a bad taste in my mouth. Sure it was a legitimate course of actions for a person in a fantasy world to take, but it removed any sense of player agency from the proceedings. The NPC was vastly more powerful due to an item that we would never be allowed to use ourselves. Sometimes legitimate actions people in the game world could take aren't fun. Enemies could build traps that no Rogue could spot or disarm with a little bit of creativity- thereby removing any sense of agency from the player.
If the players aren't having fun, I feel, the GM has failed at his job. Now I fully admit, there are some players who actually like being kicked in the unmentionables, because they feel more challenged, and more ecstatic when they win. My hat's off to them, but I know I'd feel very frustrated playing that kind of game- so unless my players say that's what they want, that's not the game I plan on running.
A thought occurred to me- if we take the sentence "This functions much like two-weapon fighting, but the off-hand weapon is a spell that is being cast" too literally, would we be saying the spell is a weapon now? Would it qualify for Inspire Courage bonus damage?
I mean obviously not, so I think it's fair to say that the spell is not a weapon and that sentence is just trying to help people wrap their mind around the ability.
Ha, that's cute about the Scroll of Daylight. I suppose you'd have to cast it outside the area of darkness. I'd allow it though, I have enough consumable hate in my gaming circle.
Most magic items in my campaign already provide clues as to their function, or simply auto-identify themselves to avoid slowing down play for no good reason. I think if it ever comes up I'll say "the runes on the magical scroll glow with magic light, allowing you to read them even in darkness".
I already use a lot of alternative consumables, like ceramic 'spell tiles' that activate when you break them, as opposed to standard potions. Same rules for making them/using them, but now you have something you could use when holding your breath, for example.
Some might argue that such limitations are meant to balance these items, but given the existence of Wondrous Item consumables that already exist and don't have these limitations, I don't see any real balancing factors.
It is normal for that sort of thing, but the BEST option for dealing with those problems is having the right tool for the job. Consider how many enemies have debilitating effects that only the Cleric has a ready answer for.
You can use an Oracle instead of a Cleric, but he's not the best at dealing with those problems. Just like how having a Wizard to solve problems for you is better than a Bard with Use Magic Device trained.
Sure, an experienced player can make things work, especially if his character is well optimized. It's simply a truth though that there is a "best" solution, and it's easier to employ it.
One of the strengths of RPG's is that they sell you on the idea that you can play any character you want, whatever idea you have in your mind can become real. Unfortunately, no game system can really deliver on that promise- there are going to be concepts that work, and ones that don't.
In addition, team-oriented tactical games, like Pathfinder, are written with certain expectations, and can fall apart if you do things in a strange or less optimal fashion. Good players can overcome these expectations, but only if they have the system mastery to know what they are getting themselves into, and what options they have to work with.
My group doesn't strategize well. Session Zero was a total failure- they came to the table with the character concept they thought would be 'fun'. Some tweaking had to be made, originally the Fighter used that archetype that requires you to use a one-handed weapon and not even a shield. Because he wanted to use combat maneuvers, and to him, that archetype added bonuses to those, so it was good, right?
We eventually sold him on Lore Warden, but his tendency to suffer from decision paralysis and act like a Big Stupid Fighter in combat not only makes him less effective, it means the party has to put a lot more work in keeping him alive.
Now what you see in a lot of computer games, is that the developers can't think of every possible strategy or combination the players will use in battles. You have to start with some kind of baseline expectations- like the classic Fighter/Cleric/Wizard/Rogue party. So you create content based on that. But players will be like, oh no, we're going to use four Clerics! And the game can't be written to take that into account.
Sneakily, what the developers of those games do is, they find ways to funnel you into making the kinds of characters they are making the content for. They buff some classes, nerf others, make better gear options for the 'right' classes, and so on (see most MMO's for details on how this works).
Pathfinder has to do this to some extent, and it's not malicious or anything, it's just that creating content balanced for the all-Rogue party is not an efficient use of resources. If you want to know why it's easier to create and play "Conan the Barbarian" in Pathfinder than "Simon Belmont", that's why. Because the party that uses Conan is easier to build content for.
But players like options, even if balancing those options can be a very difficult task. Like most people who like Pathfinder, I've sighed at how some options just seem to suck compared to others- but I totally get why that is. Overhauling Mounted Combat, a subsystem only a small percentage of players even use, and only a percentage of the game's content even allows to be used, simply can't be a priority for a successful business model. So we're left to our own devices to patch these rules, if we want them in the game.
That's the lesson I'm taking away from this thread- if you decide you want to deviate from the base assumptions, the core conceits of the game, you're kind of on your own. As much as it irks me, Claxon is right. You want to drive a square peg into a round hole, you're basically flying solo.
Again, there is no malice in creating options some players want, and leaving them under-supported. It's just assumed that if you want to let your players be a party of Rangers, both you as the GM and the players have to figure out how that's going to work. Because devoting man-hours and money for the "Ultimate Ranger Party" sourcebook only works if a large percentage of the people who play this game will buy it.
At the same time, the rules are written with the expectation that you will be playing core races, who are all small and medium-size. In fact, the only reason small characters have the same reach as medium characters is so that you can play a Gnome or Halfling and have a reasonably similar experience to playing a Human. If a Gnome had a reach of 0, this would be a very different game.
Statements like "using a reach weapon doubles your natural reach" don't map out when you start dealing with monster races. It would be nice if they'd given more thought to how the rules interact with size changing spells, but it is what it is.
More great points and good advice. I especially like the idea of "minor enemies" who fly or use obnoxious defenses- they aren't the big threat, but their ability to...ah...fly in the face of the party might make my group think about how to deal with the problem.
Special thanks for the change to the thread name! That's much better. I was really having a bad day, but no reason to bring that to the forums.
Good points, and I agree with easing them into realizing that there are things they haven't considered dealing with yet.
As for consumables, I always assumed that's how consumables and WBL work- otherwise you get players like mine, who rarely buy any, "because if I drink the potion, I'm 50 gp farther away from a REAL item".
That brings another paradigm shift to consider. Maybe I should consider CR to be the level at which this monster isn't a problem to anyone?
About the "well they could have chosen to be Wizards" comment; that's very true, but are we saying that every party needs a Wizard? I'm inclined to think what's being said here is that "if you don't have a Wizard, figure out how to adjust for that"...kind of like what happens when you don't have a Cleric in the party.
How does one adjust for not having a Wizard? Use Magic Device and a healthy collection of scrolls and wands? That sounds like a fairly hefty investment.
I mean, I don't expect my Fighter to be Batman, with a gadget for everything...but I suppose it's fair to use encounters that would be challenging for a party with a mediocre Wizard. Whatever that is.
EDIT: I just realized how petty the thread title was. I apologize, I should have known better, even if I was frustrated. And thank you, everyone, for giving me better assistance than I deserved.
That's very important to consider as well, thanks for that. I just wish I had more time to spend preparing my game. I chose to do things my way, and that means I can't just grab monsters "off the rack". It's unfortunate, but there really can't be a "universal monster every group can face with a certain expectation of success".
That's likely very true, and it's advice I've been given before (on these forums, in fact). Though I wonder what issues I'd have if my party consisted of two Clerics and two Wizards...
I am hearing two things from this thread so far, however.
1) you're not using monsters the right way, monsters are fine.
2) monsters aren't built right and need adjusting.
I'm coming away with the notion that both of these statements are true.
Well, yeah, but I don't think 20th level play is meaningfully impacted by +8 AC, is it? I'm not trying to be flippant, just, is this really a problem before the game escalates into magic spells trivializing every option that isn't also a magic spell?
EDIT: I really need to apologize for 1) helping to derail another discussion entirely, and 2) bringing issues of internal balance into a rules discussion where they really don't belong. Sorry.
Isn't Whirlwind Attack really just a replacement for the extra attacks you'd get with a high Base Attack Bonus?
A Magus with BAB +6 gets two attacks and a spell with Spell Combat. Or he could, instead of making two attacks on one guy, make one attack on every enemy within reach, by burning all of his Feats to do so. Which only pays off if there are, in fact, enough enemies in reach to justify Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, and Combat Expertise. In fact, thinking about that, when is the earliest level a Magus could get Whirlwind Attack?
Maybe? I don't really see how diluting your Paladin's build to get more uses of Channel Energy, even if it's 3+ more, by taking a Cleric level, would be a problem.
But you did bring up a point I didn't consider- the design policy for Pathfinder, which is to dis-incentivize (is that a word? Maybe I'm spelling it wrong) multiclassing. If multiclassing could give you a benefit better than single classing, even if it's also giving you a penalty somewhere (slower progression on Paladin abilities), that may run counter to Pathfinder's expectations, which is a possible reason for rulings that Channel doesn't stack, or the Ability score bonus FAQ.
Well, I wouldn't say always let them fight at full potential and use all class features, I just try to be careful about it. Like, on occasion I'll use an elemental, fully knowing that the Swashbuckler doesn't get her precision damage, or I'll have the occasional monster with crazy DR.
But if I feel that a tactic or ability a monster has is nothing you can't be expected to have a counter for without knowing about it in advance, or that would require a significant investment of resources, I'm not keen on doing that unless I have a good reason for it.
For example, a high level caster isn't going to be used often, because a lot of times, the only solution for magic is more magic. And punishing my players because nobody wanted to play a full caster class (and by extension, playing classes that are easier to plan around) seems a bit strange.
It's just my philosophy, and maybe it's not a good fit for Pathfinder monster design. I can accept that. Still think it's weird when I see an ooze and wonder why they can't hit anything.
But is having a bow enough? My experience is that it isn't. You need at the very least enchanted, and possibly special material arrows. You need to have enough Dex and BAB to hit the enemy.
I mean, if your party is trading a bow shot at full BAB and one at -5 even if they do have magic arrows (for dragon DR) and composite bows with a STR rating, are you going to do enough damage compared to what your opponent can do to you?
Basically, I'm curious what level of investment is actually required to do more than annoy the monster, let alone drive them off. I don't know, but again, my totally non-data, anecdotal experience is that if you're being strafed by a flying monster with over 100 hit points, "archery as a hobby" isn't enough. Especially since they can cast spells and Wind Wall exists...
First, thanks Ssalarn, I'll definitely look into the Green Ronin stuff. And you're right, yes, CR is balanced around some less than great character ideas. But not all of the iconics are bad...
Saldiven, your advice is accepted and you're coming from the right place, but a 60' fly speed would be pretty useless against a dragon. They have a fly speed of 200. Fly helps with Arrowhawks, especially since their electric ray is only 50', but there are situations and tactics that are basically impossible to overcome without specifically building your character to deal with them (I believe) which just opens up other, different weak points.
I try to avoid those. Now when I have a Cleric use Deeper Darkness to help it's Bone Devil ally, and the party doesn't even have a scroll of Daylight, then I have no pity for them, that's something that's come up before, and they should know better! ^-^
Thanks, but actually, as strange as it might seem, I actually know all of that. The problem is...it takes a lot of investment to make, say, archery a reasonable option. So I don't usually press the flight advantage, because it's basically saying "ha, you were dumb for choosing to play the character you have".
I had a bad experience when I used a pack of the previously mentioned Arrowhawks. The party ran away and afterwards the players asked if I was trying to TPK them.
When I play, I spend a lot of effort to make my characters able to perform in different situations. I'll buy consumables, make sure I have ranged options, and so on. But by not specializing, I'm usually lackluster at everything. Eventually I'll realize I'm having a hard time doing my basic job in combat because my attack bonus is 4 less than everyone else's.
The game puts you in a lot of untenable situations, but penalizes both for not having a strong point AND for having weak points. So many battles have been decided not by the guy (me) who tried to be a switch hitter with utility and skill options, but by the greatsword wielding barbarian.
OTOH, a ranged build, which is fairly strong in practice, can be foiled completely with ease. Now it's intended that each party member have a specialty, and a moment to shine, for those moments when their compatriots aren't effective, but most encounters aren't balanced by "this is the fight where one archer saves the day while his friends dig into their backpacks looking for smokesticks and fly potions".
I don't like punishing my players because they thought a class with a bad save or a lack of mobility, or that urges you to focus on one combat style was cool or fun. Because it's not fun when it happens to me.
Others have told me I need to be tougher on my players, it's just hard for me, because I'm the GM. I have a lot of latitude in making encounters for them, and it's trivial to say "oh here's this enemy who makes you look like chumps". I try not to negate their choices because to me, I just feel like a kid using a magnifying glass to murder ants.
The question really came down to whether or not it can hit with it's non-sword attacks. If it surprises a party, breathes, and gets away with minimal damage, then yeah, it's nasty...but a dragon can already do that, easier, and is much stronger at a lower CR.
Though honestly, I never felt very proud of myself for having a dragon strafe the party and run away. It's bad enough Arrowhawks are a thing.
That's all my personal viewpoint, however, I'm more than willing to accept I'm looking at it from the wrong perspective.
That's true, but there are a lot of cheap AC options, so the scenario is one where there are no options that are worth less than 8k. Right now I'm thinking, ok, Ring of Protection +1, Amulet of Natural Armor +1, Jingasa...er, never mind, Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone, +1 armor for 1k. Probably more I'm forgetting.
We can dispense with off-hand weapon because a shield is cheaper by far, I think. Unless you're a Monk?
And then of course, after awhile, all that extra AC cuts into your Headband/Belt budget, right? Oh toss that onto the AC pile, a belt that grants enhancement to Dexterity is already a superior option for AC...
Hey, I'm probably wrong, I just haven't played at the levels where Defending Armor Spikes +1 would look like a great deal if they just worked without needing an attack.
Ugh, swarms, I hate them. The last time I used one (two army ant swarms), the party ran away- and I didn't blame them!
Auto progression is one of those things that I like the idea of, but I have a few issues with the execution. But definitely my next campaign will have some variation of it. "+2 sword" and "+3 armor" are so lame...
My favorite shoulder item, the Pauldrons of the Serpent is constantly ignored "because it doesn't increase saves". There has to be a better way...but again, that's a whole 'nother rant!
Good points. Terrain is a big deal. I draw my own battle maps on Chessex gaming paper, and I recall one time I drew the layout of an abandoned mine the night before.
Come game time, and I realized the room I'd put 3 Stone Guardians in was a bit too snug- the party failed to realize the statues were constructs at first, and this resulted in combat starting with everyone in reach of at least one of the enemies. That was a mess, because even fleeing the room proved to be as hard as just standing still to slug it out (they leveled up after that fight, and the next session, three of them had Escape Route- but that's a whole 'nother rant, lol).
One of my problems is, with larger encounters, I don't diversify enemy types as much as I'd like to. I only have so much time to prep for game, and if I have 6 or more enemies, juggling what each one does always means I forget something. I don't rewind when this happens, even if I failed to remember that a creature does +1 damage to the player with Fey Foundling due to a cold iron weapon.
There have been a few times where I over-estimated my group's capabilities and some annoying special ability nearly led to their demise. Like the time I had undead miners with "mining picks" (actually Heavy Picks), AND decided to give them a teamwork Feat...one lucky crit later, and the Fighter nearly died from a sucking chest wound- and he was at full hit points (and the next time the party had some cash, he was rewarded with a Jingasa. I haven't had the heart to enforce the nerf, it was a touching moment when the group presented him with his "birthday present").
Some special abilities I do need to brush up on, I vaguely recall the last time I used Trample it led to a very heated rules debate. But maybe that was Overrun...
I mean, I know it doesn't. I just read another thread where someone brought up that it doesn't (as an example of abilities that don't stack), and rather than derail that thread, I made this thread.
Is there some balance issue I'm not seeing here? Because it appears (to me) that there aren't many ways to get multiple Channel Energy powers that wouldn't be counterproductive in the long run- so what really would be the harm if they did stack to determine effectiveness?
(The only exception I can see to that is one of the Shaman archetypes that appears to give you two different Channels on the same class progression, but I'm not sure that's intended to begin with.)
I mean, yes, you'd get more uses of Channel if you were, say, a Cleric/Oracle (Life), and so if they stacked you'd be more effective than a straight-class healer, but...so? You're giving up higher level spells and other abilities for a very niche advantage, right?
Well I generally have been using multiple monsters, I know action economy is King- I haven't used a Dragon in over two years now. I was just using the Nuckelavee as an example; I've found lots of under-performers while rifling through monsters. This is a long post, sorry, so...
Last session I only had 3 of my 4 players, so I had to recalculate a few encounters on the fly to make sure I didn't murder them for the crime of being undermanned.
The first encounter consisted of some Juju Zombies. I'm away from notes atm, so I can't recall the exact base creature, but they came out to approximately CR 4, along with a 5th-level evil cleric.
I re-equipped the zombies with masterwork weapons, so their attack bonus came out to +12 base. The cleric used desecrate, and there was an altar of his dark god, so that brought them to +14 to hit with their primary attack.
Since they out-numbered the players, flanking was easy, bringing them to approximately +16.
My party consists of:
Halfling Swashbuckler 7.
The Warpriest opened by spending 1 fervor for a swift casted Shield of Faith (+3 deflection, I believe). This brought her AC to about 27, I think? Very expensive enchanted Hellknight Plate, an enchanted Heavy Shield...maybe the AC is 28. Either way, that would have been fine, the scrubs still hit on a 12, probably too high.
The Paladin has a crazy build that's mostly Dex and Cha, he gets bonus AC from his Charisma and he can spend a ki point for +4 dodge for 1 round. He bought a few scrolls of ironskin, a spell that grants +4 natural armor. They only cost 150 gp, and he'd earned a discount from the temple for consumables for completing a mission- I've been trying to get them to buy consumables for awhile, so I figured bonuses like that would help, it's only a 10% discount. Anyways, if he really wants to, an AC above 30 isn't hard or very resource intensive.
The Swashbuckler has an insane to-hit, something like +20, so she's taken to fighting defensively and it really doesn't hurt. She gets improved critical for free from her class, so it feels like every other hit is a critical (statistically, it's more like every other round), and even though her base damage die is a d4, she gets a lot of static, so a crit can easily be around 30 damage. Again, away from notes, so I don't have her actual sheet to consult.
The Cleric's offensive spells aren't worth using, for the most part, I actually cheated a little and gave him a custom version of archon's aura (normally a good spell, so baddies can't use), but the only person to fail the save was the swashbuckler, and she didn't really notice the -2 to hit.
Now that was just the easy fight, but by the time the session ended 7 hours later, they'd pretty much dismantled everything I used, even the fight with the CR 9 Bone Devil (whose Feats I changed to give him Greater Disarm) and even though I was supposed to "play down" since they were missing the Fighter, I didn't, and let him keep his CR 6 Cleric 7 and a re-skinned Brass Man (a 3rd party CR 7 construct). That fight did end with the party roughed up, but the Bone Devil had to teleport out, and they Cleric and the construct bit it.
Now, I can always use stronger monsters if the party shows their tactics means they're functioning above-par. That isn't the problem. The problem is, I'm seeing even CR 11 monsters that I think they'd murder. And yes, I can customize the numbers, but it would be nice if more than a handful of CR 10's came with the +18 to hit they were supposed to have. Not to mention, the AC's on these monsters are a joke.
Sure, your high attack is meant to hit, AC is really about mitigating secondary attacks. I get that. But when I see a monster and say "what the heck, his HIGH attack only has a 15% chance to hit my melee", I'm really confused as to why.
And sure, I can, and do equip monsters, but that means I'm constantly having to keep an eye on party wealth.
I'm not asking for "how to balance my game" advice here, though it's always appreciated- I was just frustrated at how it appears I have to custom-build almost all enemies from here on out, because the existing ones don't (at first glance, at least) to have anything like the combat numbers the guidelines for monster creation indicate they should have.
I had a much longer post, but I decided just to get to the point. I spent a good two hours last night looking for new monsters to challenge my players with- the last batch were basically laughed off.
I finally stopped after reviewing the 50th monster, 4 above their CR. So few monsters even seem to meet the bars presented in monster creation, and I don't know why. Something that's supposedly "big and evil and heinous" (the CR 9 Nuckelavee) has a +11 to hit. What?
Oh sure, it has a mean breath weapon, but it'd get used once and then it would curl up and die. Am I missing something?