Wings of Protection

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quibblemuch wrote:
A low-level trick I'm fond of is casting silent image to create an area of obscuring mist. Now you can see out, but they can't see in--and if you do this enough, the party starts to make their Will saves pretty much by default, which means the enemy has a 20% miss chance while the PCs do not. The archers love this too.

Wait, why would the party start to make their Will saves by default...?


Dragon Magazine #93 (the January 1985 issue) included a comprehensive official pronunciation guide, written by none other than Frank Mentzer. According to that guide, "cambion" is pronounced with an emphasis on the first syllable.

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Kalindlara wrote:


Let's not fight.

While there is something to what you say, Makhno, it's a bit more complicated. A lot of Pathfinder issues, such as multiclassing, are inherited from 3e, and not of Paizo design. Fixing them would likely require significant revisions to the system, and given Paizo's long-standing commitment to backwards compatibility, that's not likely to happen.

Well, this is true to an extent, but multiclassing is objectively stronger in 3.5 than it is in Pathfinder. It's not as if this is an accident; Jason Bulmahn has commented more than once that he doesn't think multiclassing should even exist (nor prestige classes, either), and that "archetypes as multiclassing" is deliberate. I was at a panel at GenCon at one point where he and Sean K Reynolds talked about this at some length, in fact.

(By the way, please do not take the above as some sort of claim in the vein of "See, it really is an evil plot!!!". As I said, there may be all sorts of game design reasons for this sort of approach.)

It's hard to deny that combining classes in arbitrary ways was quite commonplace in 3.5, and isn't in Pathfinder. (And 3.5 isn't a paragon of multiclassing systems either, by the way! Far from it. Wizards of the Coast, after all, also had financial incentives...) So, in fact, the weakness of multiclassing, and the fact that there is not a flexible and robust way to mix-and-match classes in Pathfinder is far from being a legacy of 3rd edition; rather, it's an innovation of Pathfinder (and a deliberate one, as I mention above).


In addition, people designing their own content is still very much part of the system - the ARG and ACG each contain sections discussing how to do just that. People can buy the books if they want a professionally-designed version. Or just use the PRD.

The idea that "you have to buy the book to do what you want" is undermined somewhat by the existence of the various SRDs, in fact. ^_^

Well, this is certainly true. People do buy the books, though, don't they? The SRDs are a great thing, but let's be fair: they're no substitute for a good PDF or a physical book or, especially, the combo of those two things. (And this is fine! Why shouldn't Paizo make money off the content they create?)

And so there are patterns to which books sell better and which sell worse. Empirically, people who want to use new content will buy the books. Many GMs in fact allow content only from books that either they or their players physically own (a sensible policy, imo). So what I said does, after all, still hold, SRDs notwithstanding...

Rysky wrote:

And where exactly have you seen Paizo espouse this logic?

And no, constantly creating material that people buy and are inspired by isn't it.

Who said I had?

Reread what I wrote, Rysky. I never said anything about what Paizo did or did not "espouse". Just the facts.

The thing about economics is, at the core, it's really about something very simple — and yet undeniable and inexorable:

People follow incentives.

Doesn't have to be conscious. Doesn't have to be intentional. They don't have to admit it to themselves, or be aware of it. But it's what happens, nonetheless.

What I wrote isn't an attack on Paizo. It's certainly not some sort of claim that Paizo is evilly plotting to take our money (besides, they are a business, after all; making a profit is kind of the point) by stifling our creativity.

All I am saying is that one attitude about modification/creativity is more profitable for Paizo, and another attitude is less profitable for Paizo. As a result, they have an incentive to publish one sort of content, and not publish another sort of content. And as I said: people (and especially people acting within organizations, like a business!) follow incentives.

The way this looks in practice is that Paizo hit on what we might call a "content architecture" that discourages creativity, and allows a business model wherein they publish lots of rulebooks. Rulebooks thus sell, and books that perpetuate that architecture sell, and each in turn creates the demand for further books that perpetuate that architecture. ("Buy this new book with rules for X! Then of course you'll want these supplements that expand your options for X. And look! There's a new AP, which features X - of course you'll want those rulebooks and supplements to go with it." — where X is kingdom building, intrigue, psychic magic, whatever New Thing it is that year...) Books that do not contribute to this structure, sell more poorly and enable fewer future sales.

Perhaps an example might illustrate my point.

In Pathfinder, multiclassing mostly sucks (as a quick perusal of forum threads on the topic will tell you). Archetypes are the new multiclassing; the way you achieve thematic/conceptual combinations of classes or roles is to take the appropriate archetype.

Now, there are certainly game design reasons for this, and we could, if we wanted, argue all day about whether they are good design reasons or bad design reasons, etc. But we could also observe the following:

In a game with a robust, flexible, and effective multiclassing system, if the core rulebook hands you a fighter, a cleric, a wizard, and a rogue class, you can then play a wizard/rogue, or a fighter/rogue, or a cleric/rogue, or a fighter/wizard/cleric, with no further materials. In Pathfinder, if you want to play a wizard/rogue, you have to wait until Paizo publishes the "eldritch scoundrel", and buy the book it's in; if you want to play a cleric/rogue, you have to wait until Paizo publishes the "divine stalker", and buy the book it's in; etc.

Straightforwardly, the latter design sells more books. Is this false?

The reason is economics.

The more freedom players of the game have, the less dependent they are on Paizo. If you (the GM / the gaming group) can make your own class, or modify an existing one, why buy the next book of archetypes? If you can reflavor items, if you can come up with creatures on your own, why buy the next Armory or Bestiary or what have you? Heck, if you can come up with mechanics for mass combat / ships / intrigue / anything on your own, why buy the next Ultimate whatever?

The attitude of sticking to the rules, modifying nothing, taking the flavor as it is given, and religiously obeying the limitations (because "balance" would suffer otherwise!), is good for Paizo's bottom line. The attitude of DIYing, tweaking, remixing, rolling your own, and otherwise flexing your creative muscles, is bad for Paizo's bottom line. That's all there is to it.

Sundakan wrote:
Think I'm starting to see where the confusion is coming in for you and Cabbage.

Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

That said, I'm afraid I still have to disagree...

Given the quotes you picked to support your position, and Cabbage's last post, you think that the lack of an exhaustive list of every option disproves that this is a (using your definition to prevent confusion between us) restricted ruleset.

No. I don't think that. I think that a) the lack of any indication that the ruleset is restrictive; b) the fact that if the ruleset were restrictive, that would make nonsense out of any attempt to play the game as the open-ended RPG that it certainly is; and c) the fact that the game designers (or at least, SKR) have said things that clearly indicate that the ruleset is not restrictive — I think these things shows that it's a permissive, and not restrictive, ruleset.


That's not what it means. The difference is in a philosophy of design. As SKR says in the quotes you picked up, if a rule does not exist, the GM is capable of making an adjudication for it. That is too keep the rulebook from being bogged down in minutiae. Likewise, the game's reality is assumed to be "Like our reality except where stated otherwise". Gravity works the same in this universe as in real life, except for places it doesn't (specified within rules for things like Planes with different kinds of gravity), for example. Measurements of time and distance are assumed to be the same as well.

This does not mean the ruleset is less restrictive. You are still only allowed to do things that the rules allow, or the GM allows.

I have to wonder, with this definition, what it could possibly mean to have a permissive ruleset, then. I mean, of course you are only allowed to do things that that the GM allows — you don't even need the "things that the rules allow" clause in there, because "things the GM allows" is, by definition, a 100% exhaustive and complete set of what you can do in the game. It is in principle impossible to do anything the GM doesn't allow, yeah?

So that's not a useful direction to take this discussion, or a useful way to think about whether the rules are restrictive or permissive. The key question, I think, is this: how does the game, and how do we (as players), expect the GM to handle situations that fall outside the set of things explicitly delineated by the rules? There are two scenarios:

In what I would call a "restrictive" ruleset, the player might say: "I do <thing X that seems like it makes sense to be able to do, but for which there isn't a rule for>." And the GM would respond: "Nothing in the rules says you can do that. So, you can't."

In what I would call a "permissive" ruleset, the player might say the same thing, and the GM would respond: "Nothing in the rules says you can do that, but of course you're quite right, that makes sense as a thing you should be able to do. So, you can do it." [and, probably something like: "... and here is an impromptu ruling / ad-hoc mechanics / extrapolation from existinct rules / off-the-cuff common-sense-based decision on what the effects are / etc."]

Basically you're confusing "simulationist game" and "restrictive ruleset". The game does not model reality, and is not meant to. but it does provide a strong list of options and rules for nearly everything. That's what this system THRIVES on, and the reason rulebooks are still made.

Sean K. Reynolds begs to differ:

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
The mundane aspects of the game have to try model mundane reality

From ect#73. The entire thread is worth a read. The part where SKR makes it clear that the Pathfinder rules are designed to simulate reality, and NOT designed to simulate things like the Batman movie, is instructive, for instance:

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Except that the skills system and many other aspects of D&D are designed to create a reasonable yet speedy approximation of reality. So "what can Batman do?" is irrelevant to a discussion of, "what should a D&D character be able to do?" The real question is, "what can a real person do?"

I think it's clear that Pathfinder is explicitly and intentionally simulationist.


Permissive ruleset: "I CAN grapple the creature because the rules don't say I CAN'T"

Restrictive ruleset: "I CAN'T grapple the creature because the rules don't say I CAN"

First, I'd like to point out that while the rules certainly don't specifically say you can grapple a gaseous creature, they do say you can grapple creatures in general, and make no explicit exception for gaseous ones. Whether the ruleset is restrictive or permissive, it seems like you should be able to grapple gaseous creatures... assuming, of course, that your GM is a robot, applies the rules mechanically, and either lacks all common sense or deliberately abjures simulationism. (And what a horror such a game would be.)

So no, that's definitely not what I think a permissive ruleset is. (See above for my definition.) The reason you can't grapple a gaseous creature isn't that the rules do, or do not, say that you can or can't. The reason you can't grapple a gaseous creature is because the rules aren't all there is! The rules say what needs to be said, and assume that obvious things are obvious, and that GMs are humans with at least some common sense, and that the game's reality is like our reality except where noted otherwise.


People argue that since the backpack does not have a listed dimension, then it is effectively infinite. You can fit anything of any weight within the backpack. In essence "the rules don't say I CAN'T fit anything and everything inside it, therefore I can". The same logic used to defend stuff like "Being dead doesn't technically prevent me from taking actions, therefore I can".

That is how a permissive (again, your definition of it) works. "I am not expressly limited from doing so, therefore I can".

Where Pathfinder has a ruleset, and an assumption that "common sense" and basic reality is in play. Dead people are dead, they can't do anything. Therefore in lack of any rule saying you CAN act while dead, you cannot. That is a restrictive ruleset.

I think it's critical to distinguish two scenarios.

The rules don't say you can act while dead. (Neither do they say that you can't.)

The rules also don't say that you can buy apples. (Nor do they say that you can't.)

These two situations are clearly different. Does it make any sense to say "in a restrictive ruleset, you can't do either of those things; in a permissive ruleset, you can do both of those things"? It does not.

In what I would call a "permissive ruleset", you can't act while dead (because the game models reality and assumes common sense), but you can buy apples (because the game models reality and assumes common sense). In a permissive ruleset, if there's no rule that says you can or can't do something, then the question devolves to (your GM's view of) common sense and reality. The lack of a rule enabling you to do a thing, in such a ruleset, doesn't mean much; it just means the GM has to make a judgment call. Well, and what's so unusual about that? The GM has to make judgment calls all the time — even when applying the actual rules!


Compare/contrast Pathfinder and a slightly more permissive game, Mutants and Masterminds.

M&M characters have Hero points that allow them to affect the plot. You can spend a Hero point and change something drastic about the scenario. For example, use a Hero point to put a fire hydrant in the area you are fighting the electric woman, and then use a Power Stunt to short circuit her powers. The GM can veto this, but by default anything not vetoed can happen. This is still a restrictive ruleset overall, but is MORE permissive than Pathfinder. A fully free-form RP takes this to its logical extreme, where anyone can do anything, add any character or item to a scene, and perform any feat they imagine so long as the Gm does not explicitly say "No, you can't do that".

Contrast Pathfinder where the players can only work within the options given. If the Gm describes no fire hydrant, there is no way they can put one there. They can ask the GM if it is there, and the GM can say yes or no, but have no way to change the scene themselves short of a rules option to create one (like knowing the spell "Summon Fire Hydrant").

Ah, now this is a different issue entirely. This has little to do with permissiveness vs. restrictiveness. The key distinction here is the presence or absence of narrativist game mechanics! (Which is, essentially, what defines the distinction, or perhaps the spectrum, of roleplaying games vs. storytelling games.)

M&M has narrativist mechanics. Pathfinder does not (at least, by default; hero points in PF are a very weak form of narrativist mechanic).

(This is now a tangent and somewhat distant from the main point, but as an aside: I strongly dislike narrativist mechanics. My preference for permissive rulesets has absolutely nothing to do with the narrativism vs. simulationism issue, in which I am firmly on the side of simulationism.)

Bloodrealm wrote:
Could be explosions, and shrapnel, and fire, and things falling on top of you

Did you know that of the passengers in the Hindenburg disaster, most survived? And those were just regular IRL humans! Not even soldiers or athletes or anything, much less fantasy adventurers.

and being stranded in the mountains.

Oh boy, being stranded in the mountains. What a truly terrifying situation, that no D&D player characters have ever escaped from... :p

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Sundakan wrote:
Makhno wrote:

In other words: you don't actually have any support for your claim. Ok, cool. That's basically what I expected. (Throwing up your hands and saying "ugh, it's ***obvious***!!!", and "it's totally seriously an unwritten rule, for real, trust me" is tantamount to admitting that nowhere in the text does it say anything like what you claimed.)

For what it's worth, I have indeed read the book. I've read it quite a few times. (3.5, too, and other versions, and other games — useful for comparison and context.) And I've read the comments of the game's developers, here and elsewhere. And the impression I got — and the way I've always played the game, and the way that it very much seems is the way that the devs themselves play the game — is diametrically opposed to what you describe. So I was curious just where you got this strange notion of yours (which does indeed seem to be popular around here, little as that does to make it any less wrong).

The idea is popular among both the community and developers of this game.

That puts the burden of proof upon you. Please, find me something from a DEVELOPER (James Jacobs is not a developer) that contradicts me. Pay special attention to posts from Sean K Reynolds, Jason Buhlman, and Mark Seifter, since the first and last were/are very active on the boards, and the middle is the lead developer.

I do not have the time to hold you by your little hands and trawl through old forum posts for you, or teach you reading comprehension. If you're so curious, educate yourself.

You're not going to find in almost any game a clear piece of text that says "And here's the design principles we're working under" any more than when reading a novel you're going to find a line that says "This is an allegory to help my political agenda" even when both are pretty damn obvious on reading them if either is present.

If you make a positive claim about how the game is, the burden of proof is on you. "The idea is popular around here" is nothing. You say many people play Pathfinder as a restrictive-ruleset game; fair enough; I'm sure they do indeed. But the claim that it just is that sort of game, somehow, by default, or by dint of the actual rules — that is a claim that needs defending, which is why I challenged it (and also because I simply disagree with it). (And PossibleCabbage makes some excellent points, in his posts, about why it really doesn't make sense for Pathfinder to be a restrictive-ruleset kind of game.)

However, and although you've been nothing but rude to me, I think it's only reasonable for me to at least try to fulfill your request. The designers' posting history is long, so this is by no means exhaustive — just some things that jump out at me as I peruse the archives.

Sean K. Reynolds wrote: wrote:

{Does having a blanket give you a bonus to Survival checks?}

No, it's just nice to have if you want to sleep. Not everything in the game has to have rules text (though "has straps so it can be rolled up and tied" may be useful if for some reason you need to steal a strap, or justify how you're carrying it). Remember, we got a lot of flak for the CR not saying how much a backpack can hold (because it's a backpack), and this book added more should-be-obvious descriptions to common gear that didn't have descriptions in the CR.

{Do I need an animal harness to use Handle Animal?}

No. Like the blanket, knowing that your animal has a harness may come in handy at some point in the game, but the GM is not a robot and the books shouldn't try to explain every single possibility for every single item in the game. "Your guard dog has fallen into the icy river, how are you getting him out?" "He has a harness! Do I get a bonus for that?" "Sure, GM's best friend rule, I'll give you a +2 on your roll!"


{Does [item] give a bonus to [something] or [have a specific game effect]?}

Much of the equipment in this book is based on real Earth equipment. If you could use it for that purpose on Earth, you should be able to use it for that purpose in the game. AA is not the place to codify how long a drill lasts before it wears out, or what temperature a firework burns at, or the chances of breaking a shovel on hard gravel, or how much damage a bundle of burning rice paper causes. The item works as expected for its intended purpose; if the players or the GM are getting too bogged down in round-by-round analysis of hp, hardness, break DCs, and fatigue, they need to take a step back, hand-wave the specifics because it doesn't matter for the adventure, and let the PCs get back on track doing some adventuring.

(From panion-Adventurers-Armory#363. Bolded emphasis is mine.)

Sean K. Reynolds wrote: wrote:
I don't think the spell needs that, that sounds like a no-brainer property of ice, falling under the category of "some energy types might be particularly effective against certain objects" rule (Core Rulebook page 173). The wall of ice spell mentioning that is just the rulebook being redundant (which is fine for a core rulebook where you want to reiterate rules, but shouldn't be held as a precedent that every later rule supplement spells out obvious and redundant things).


Sean K. Reynolds wrote: wrote:
You can't grapple a gaseous creature, that's obvious and we shouldn't need to state that in the rules. If a gaseous creature can slip through any crack because it's gaseous, it can easily slip through the gaps between your fingers or arms.


I think the pattern is fairly clear. Do you disagree? I suppose I can dig up more posts, if need be. You did say "find me SOMETHING", though, and this is clearly something.

Squiggit wrote:
Makhno wrote:

You made a claim that Pathfinder is a system where nothing is permitted except what the rules specifically allow (as opposed to a system where everything is permitted except what the rules specifically forbid). I am asking you what you base this on. Pointing to the rules doesn't answer that!
It kind of does though, because it's self evident in the way the rules are written. Pathfinder's ruleset is a list of things you can do. There are very few examples that I can find, at least among the basic rules, of things you cannot do. So the idea of it being a system where things are allowed unless otherwise stated means that most of the book is meaningless.

Ah, to the contrary; it makes all the sense in the world, if you consider that the point of the rules is to define the mechanics and game structures for how characters do certain things. (And to provide a framework for extrapolation: can you do things that aren't spelled out in the rules? Of course; and the existence of the rules lets you come up with mechanics for doing just about anything, by extrapolating, by looking at rules for similar situations, by applying general patterns and approaches inherent in the mechanics to whatever you're trying to instantiate, etc.)

Seen in that light, the rules are not a straightjacket, but a scaffold. Far from "meaningless", they are much more useful than you give them credit for!

Edit: Rules in a permissive system ("everything is allowed, except...") can also serve a function which I mention above, but which bears expanding upon: they can serve to establish structures. Many actual, real-world laws in a legal system like that of the U.S. (certainly a permissive one, as I mentioned already) do just that: they establish government institutions, establish procedures for doing things, establish guidelines for legal decisions... etc. They do not so much permit the citizens to do something, which might, lacking the law, be forbidden; instead, they construct a way for the government (which, by analogy, is the GM) to accomplish something. Likewise with many rules in Pathfinder.

Quantum Steve wrote:
Makhno wrote:
Quantum Steve wrote:

No, it's the opposite of what you think: a restrictive system is one that puts restrictions on participants, i.e. tells you what you can't do, or are "restricted" from doing.

Pathfinder is a permissive system.

Nope. That is entirely contrary to the common usage of the terms. They generally refer to what the default is: if the default is "permitted" (unless there exists a rule that says "not permitted!"), then the system is "permissive"; if the default is "not permitted" (unless there exists a rule that says "this is permitted"), that's "restrictive".

Of course, this is merely a terminological issue; they're just words, and we can use them however we like... I just happen to think that the usage I cite (which is, in my experience and according to my googling also, the more common usage) makes a lot more sense. :)

No, a Permissive Rule, by definition, tells you what you are allowed to do, and not just in gaming, any rule, anywhere, that defines a thing that is permitted or allowed is a Permissive Rule.

A Restrictive Rule, or restriction, again by definition, tells you what you are not allowed to do.

A set of rules, or ruleset, consisting of mostly Permissive Rules would most logically be defined as a Permissive Ruleset.

Being a Permissive System, Pathfinder doesn't necessarily mean "everything is forbidden," but it does set the standard that, generally, there are rules for the things you can do; if there isn't a rule for it, you generally can't do it.

It is contrary, Permissive Systems do not actually have much freedom, and a more permissive system would not be a Permissive System.

You know, you keep insisting on this definition, but where are you getting it? I've made it clear that I'm basing my usage on common usage outside these forums. What's yours based on? (It clearly doesn't make sense, as your last line demonstrates, so it can't be preferable on its merits...)

Sundakan wrote:
Makhno wrote:
Sundakan wrote:
Makhno wrote:

But more importantly: can you cite where in the rules it is stated that only those things are permitted which have specific rules defining them?
Can you cite in this law book where it says it's about the law?
This glib reply doesn't actually answer my question, and I wonder if what I said wasn't clear, or what.

It was clear, I just thought it was a rock stupid question and wanted to be a little politer in pointing it out. Hope that clears things up on your end.

Read the book. If you somehow get the impression I'm not correct by the way the book is written and laid out, and all the general assumptions of the system (you need Feats to do certain actions, every single action is very clear about what you can do with it, etc.), read it again until you do it right.

There's even a specific rule that says "Your GM can change some of these rules if they want" for god's sake, how much clearer does it need to be?

Or, if you want the more accurate glib answer, it's in the Unwritten Rules, along with the imaginary hands of effort, and exactly what line Rolf has to cross before drinking blood is evil.

In other words: you don't actually have any support for your claim. Ok, cool. That's basically what I expected. (Throwing up your hands and saying "ugh, it's ***obvious***!!!", and "it's totally seriously an unwritten rule, for real, trust me" is tantamount to admitting that nowhere in the text does it say anything like what you claimed.)

For what it's worth, I have indeed read the book. I've read it quite a few times. (3.5, too, and other versions, and other games — useful for comparison and context.) And I've read the comments of the game's developers, here and elsewhere. And the impression I got — and the way I've always played the game, and the way that it very much seems is the way that the devs themselves play the game — is diametrically opposed to what you describe. So I was curious just where you got this strange notion of yours (which does indeed seem to be popular around here, little as that does to make it any less wrong).

Sundakan wrote:
Makhno wrote:

But more importantly: can you cite where in the rules it is stated that only those things are permitted which have specific rules defining them?
Can you cite in this law book where it says it's about the law?

This glib reply doesn't actually answer my question, and I wonder if what I said wasn't clear, or what.

You made a claim that Pathfinder is a system where nothing is permitted except what the rules specifically allow (as opposed to a system where everything is permitted except what the rules specifically forbid). I am asking you what you base this on. Pointing to the rules doesn't answer that! Of course there are rules. But are the rules an exhaustive list of things you can do? Or not? You say they are; I'm asking you to support that claim. (Or are you not really making any substantive claim at all?)

Your analogy, by the way, actually hurts your point! The laws we have (at least, here in the U.S.) are a permissive system. There's a set of explicit laws (just like Pathfinder has a set of explicit rules) — but anything that the law makes no mention of, is, in fact, allowed (as noted by this old political joke).

P.S. Not to mention that the U.S. Code, for instance, does mention quite frequently that it's talking about the law. So... even that part of your analogy doesn't make sense? :/

Quantum Steve wrote:
Makhno wrote:
Sundakan wrote:

Yeppers. This is a permissive ruleset. That means anything you are said to be able to do, you can do. Anything you do not have a specific reference for doing is not within the rules, and by default disallowed.

Your GM can change this, but that will obviously vary wildly form person to person.

First of all, that sort of rule set is "restrictive", not "permissive" — i.e. "everything is forbidden, except that which is is permitted". ("Permissive" would be "everything is permitted, except that which is forbidden".)

No, it's the opposite of what you think: a restrictive system is one that puts restrictions on participants, i.e. tells you what you can't do, or are "restricted" from doing.

Pathfinder is a permissive system.

Nope. That is entirely contrary to the common usage of the terms. They generally refer to what the default is: if the default is "permitted" (unless there exists a rule that says "not permitted!"), then the system is "permissive"; if the default is "not permitted" (unless there exists a rule that says "this is permitted"), that's "restrictive".

Of course, this is merely a terminological issue; they're just words, and we can use them however we like... I just happen to think that the usage I cite (which is, in my experience and according to my googling also, the more common usage) makes a lot more sense. :)

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Sundakan wrote:

Yeppers. This is a permissive ruleset. That means anything you are said to be able to do, you can do. Anything you do not have a specific reference for doing is not within the rules, and by default disallowed.

Your GM can change this, but that will obviously vary wildly form person to person.

First of all, that sort of rule set is "restrictive", not "permissive" — i.e. "everything is forbidden, except that which is is permitted". ("Permissive" would be "everything is permitted, except that which is forbidden".)

But more importantly: can you cite where in the rules it is stated that only those things are permitted which have specific rules defining them?

This is very cool!

Hey, The World Is Square and Radiostorm:

I've been running campaigns in my own, homebrewed Slavic-myth-themed campaign world (a fantasy version of real-world medieval Russia, in fact) for about 13 years now. (I'm from Russia myself, and grew up reading all the old stories about Baba Yaga and Zmei Gorynych and the like; and of course I've done a good deal of historical/mythological research over the years to supplement that.)

If you have any questions about Russian/Slavic myths/stories, or names/words, or even about my experience running campaigns in a setting with this theme, feel free to PM me!

Sepherum wrote:
burkoJames wrote:

What spells are they immune to? How are they immune to Maze? or an Adamantine Rain of Arrows? Clashing Rocks (Touch AC to inflict 20d6)?

Spell Immunity, Greater; L8. Once they've identified these spells they choose a suite of high level spells that just don't work. So, Maze, Implosion, etc. were good for an encounter or two.

Follow-up to my above post — the following spells do not allow spell resistance and thus are not permissible selections for spell immunity (greater or otherwise):

rain of arrows
clashing rocks

Sepherum wrote:
Aranna wrote:

You realize if buffs are giving you a headache you can simply make debuffing magic common in their encounters. Those overlapping layers of intricate buffs they took minutes casting can be undone in seconds. And if the characters aren't ready for debuffing it could lead to a very one sided battle in the bad guys favor.

You can choose Dispel Magic as a spell to be immune to.

No, no you can't.

Dispel Magic does not allow spell resistance. Spell Immunity clearly states:

The warded creature effectively has unbeatable spell resistance regarding the specified spell or spells. Naturally, that immunity doesn't protect a creature from spells for which spell resistance doesn't apply.

Edit: So the very first thing an enemy spellcaster would do is dispel the PCs' spell immunity... and then cast big scary spells at them to his heart's content.

Edit #2: Or, of course, an enemy caster can just use one of the many non-SR-allowing spells out there in the first place, and spell immunity will be of no help there either.

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I have a nervous breakdown from being unable to pare the list down to just three. I fail to deliver any work. Paizo fires me. :(

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Darn, I thought this thread was going to be about the titular classic adventure module. I am disappointed :(

(It's an excellent adventure, by the way. I converted it to Pathfinder more or less on the fly and ran it for my friends a while ago — it was a blast!)

Buri Reborn wrote:
It fails to be critical thought when you didn't even consider the case of targeting individual pieces of the structure rather than the whole floor or wall, as if a floor or wall is just a single thing and not made of anything else. It's disingenuous. It appears to be thought out but is actually lazy.

I explained why targeting individual pieces of the structure wouldn't work (and would in many cases actually be impossible). Did you read my analysis of why this wouldn't work? If so, do you disagree with it? In what way is it mistaken? Please be specific.

If that's how you'd run it, you should include it as a house rule or have some general rule which touches on the limitations of the "actual" physics you use to mesh mundane and magic in your game.

Except it's not a "house rule". A house rule is when you modify, override, or ignore the existing rules in some way. Please point out which existing rule you think I am modifying, overriding, or ignoring.

Edit: I agree that it's a very good to have a conversation with players to calibrate everyone's expectations appropriately. When I run campaigns, I generally make it clear that as far as I'm concerned, anything the rules don't explicitly call out, can be assumed to work exactly like it does in real life: people have to visit the outhouse (even though there's no pooping in the rules), gravity, magnetism, and other physical forces work exactly like they do IRL (unless some magic is afoot to change that), mundane plants and animals and materials like wood or iron act like they do in reality (except where specified), etc.

At any rate, the player should have some kind of indication before hand that their goal clearly should not work.

Of course. The conversation would go like this:

Player: I cast Shatter on the wall, to make a big hole in it so I can escape!
DM: Um, just so you know, that doesn't actually work. The spell doesn't work that way. (Insert all the explanations I gave in my previous posts, if necessary.) Your character would know that, of course, since he's a wizard and all.
Player: Oh, darn. Hm, ok. In that case, here's what I do instead...

That a concept of load bearing parts of a building even exists and are super commonly understood to be part of any structure, just washing away the entire effort without actually considering how it could be done is not being a good GM and simply shows how little thought you've put into the situation.

Once again, please read my analysis of why "Shatter the load bearing beam" is likely to fail (it's the weight). If you think what I said was mistaken, explain why. That said: the "load bearing part of a building" could apply in some situations. It won't apply to:

1. Break through the wall to escape.
2. Collapse the floor under your enemy (or under yourself, to escape).

It could apply in some small subset of "collapse the ceiling" or "collapse this entire structure" (even less likely). (But, again, probably won't work — as I explained.)

If one of your players chose this spell and, thus, devoted resources to pull off a specific effect, and you just rolled your eyes and said no, you would not be doing your due diligence to enable that player to have fun and participate in the game. ...

This part of your post touches on a broader point, which is why I saved it for last.

No. No, if one of my players chose this spell, didn't read it or didn't understand how it works, and then tried to use it in a situation without thinking about whether it actually makes sense for the spell to apply to that situation — and if I, then, allowed the spell to work — that would mean that I would not be doing my due diligence.

I can't stand playing in games where a GM would let Shatter work as broadly as Aelreth described — never mind that the rules, the actual spell text, forbids it, never minds that it makes no sense if you think about it for more than two seconds — just because it "enables the player to have fun and participate". My interest in playing drops away immediately, because if a GM allows this sort of thing, what that tells me is that either the GM doesn't know the rules (and doesn't care enough to know the rules) — or, even worse, that he just doesn't care, and will let any old thing fly as long as it "enables a player to have fun".

That sort of thing renders choice meaningless. It renders system mastery meaningless. It means that it doesn't matter if I put any effort into picking spells, or thinking of clever ways to use my character's abilities to solve problems — in other words, if I actually exercise creativity within the constraints provided by the rules — because another player, who didn't make any effort, can just say "hey I can use Shatter to Kool-Aid-Man my way through the wall, right?" and the GM will go "why not, lol", because it's "fun" and he's incapable of saying "no". At that point, rules mean nothing, constraints mean nothing, and so creativity and cleverness also mean nothing.

No thanks.

My job as a GM is to know the rules, understand the restrictions, and to be firm, predictable, and consistent in enforcing them; to provide a consistent, coherent world for the players to act within. My job as a player is to know the rules, understand the restrictions, and come up with clever and creative ways to solve the challenges the GM places before me, while operating within those rules and restrictions. That is what I call doing due diligence.

Buri Reborn wrote:

Don't be dense. The spell was brought up with a list of uses, all of which you discounted out of hand with almost no critical thought, and you basically tried to shame Aelreth by saying that his GM would have the last laugh when he essentially looks dumb. You essentially said "lol, no." Idc if you didn't actually say the word, you tried to put down his usage for the spell and now you capitulate by saying "well, yeah, if you 'happen' to be in that situation..." No, you're wrong. Go troll elsewhere.

As for the games, here you go: link.

So, very specific comments, with citations of the rules, about individual cases, and detailed analysis — this, to you, is "no critical thought"? And the fact that you have no responses to any of my concrete points, but are commenting only in generalities — this is "critical thought", to you?

Ok then.

Aelreth's list was wrong, top to bottom. I explained why; you haven't refuted my points at all (nor have you acknowledged them, even the ones which you didn't bother to deny — rather a rude way to argue, by the way!). The situation you described, with the load-bearing beam, wasn't on his list — and indeed it's quite a rare and niche one. (And it, too, is unlikely to work — note the comments about weight!)

Thanks for the search keywords, though; I'll check out some of these.

Buri Reborn wrote:
The result of how you use the spell and what you do about are ENTIRELY up to the situation at hand.

Yeah, yeah. This is the sort of general platitude people retreat to, when they don't have anything to say about specifics.

I've made very concrete, very specific points.

Saying no because you don't see the point is quite laughably irrelevant.

I have no idea what you're even talking about here. Saying no to what? Don't see the point of what?

Plus, depending on the structure, a single load-bearing beam could easily cause a chain reaction. Have you not played any of the dozens of physics games out there about this?

I don't think I have, no. They sound interesting. Got some names / links?

That said: at this point, we've gone from:

"Shatter can smash through walls, smash holes in floors, cause ceilings to collapse, destroy doors, destroy cool enemy weapons, smash traps, etc."


"it's possible, in certain situations, depending on the structure you're in, and where you are in that structure, that you could shatter a key load-bearing beam (which you must first identify as being load-bearing — how many ranks in Knowledge (engineering) do you have?) and cause a ceiling collapse, if that beam weighs less than 10 lbs. per caster level (better hope you're pretty high level, and certainly not casting the spell from a wand — after all, even a 1-foot-thick, 8-foot-long pine beam will weigh ~260 lbs., and an oaken one of the same size will weigh a whopping ~360 lbs.!), and if the DM decides that this results in a chain reaction that collapses the ceiling, and also that the collapse of the ceiling harms your enemies but not you ..."

And, you know what? Sure! If you happen to find yourself in that fairly rare situation where a confluence of factors aligns in your favor, and you have the presence of mind to use a Shatter spell (and have one available) — great! I congratulate you on finding a clever use for a niche spell.

But that's not what Aelreth wrote, is it? He listed a set of broad cases, much too broad for Shatter to apply in even most, much less all of them (and some of the things he listed are just flat wrong — like the bit about an enemy's weapon).

Shatter is a niche spell with specific applications. It does the things it says it does. If you can find a clever use for it, within those restrictions — great. Good on you. But using it in the broad ways that Aelreth describes is clearly and blatantly against the rules.

Buri Reborn wrote:
If only the game supported those weights, Makhno. That's going to vary from table to table and even door to door. Also, very few manufacturing techniques combine pieces in such a way as to destroy a piece's individual cohesion. Just like you could use a crowbar to pry up a single board or knock out a single brick, there should be no reason you can't target such things with shatter.

The thickness of doors is given by the rules.

The composition and size is not, you're right. The only thing a GM has to go on is real-world doors. If the GM chooses to have his wooden doors be quite different from the way doors are in real life, well, that's his call. But at this point, you're relying, in order for your spell to function, on your GM choosing to make a specific ruling that a) is not grounded in rules text, b) deviates from reality, c) is in your favor.

By that measure, you can say that almost any spell can do almost anything; after all, the GM is free to make all sorts of rulings.

And that's just for wooden doors! What GM is going to rule that a 2" thick iron door, or a 4" thick stone door, weighs less than 150 or 100 pounds (or even less than 30 lbs. — the maximum weight affected by a Shatter spell cast from a wand)?! That's obviously wrong.

As for walls and floors: the idea that a "solid object" can mean "just one brick of a solidly mortared wall" or "just one floorboard of the floor" is quite the stretch. Walls and floors are generally dealt with in "10 x 10 foot sections" (see here, for example).

There's more: what if the bricks are covered with plaster? How do you propose to target each one? If carpeting covers the floor, how do you target a floorboard?

And, heck, say you can target a single floorboard or a single brick. Alright, you've destroyed a floorboard or a brick. That... doesn't actually destroy nearly enough of a wall or floor to break through it, cause it to collapse, etc. I mean — a single brick?! Come on. (Making a ceiling collapse in this manner is, if anything, even more absurd.)

Aelreth wrote:

My favorite spell of all time is easily SHATTER!

Locked door, SHATTER!

Enemy has a cool weapon, SHATTER!

Trapped on the second floor of an Inn? SHATTER the floor and jump down the hole. Or SHATTER the wall and leave!

Cornered in said in by an Enemy? Shatter the floor beneath your enemy and have THEM fall down the hole! Oh, you are on the first floor? Shatter the ceiling and hit them in the head with rubble.

Game Master if overly found of trap puzzles and you aren't? Use Shatter to 'solve' and disable these 'puzzles'.

Make a 2nd level wand of Shatter with 50 charges. Call it a "Sonic Screw Driver". Then watch your Game Master bang his head against a wall as you proceed to use your Sonic Screw Driver to solve all of your problems.

Shatter doesn't do any of that. Not a single one of these examples actually works.

Shatter spell description

The spell affects a single non-magical object that weighs up to 10 pounds per caster level.

Locked door? Even a strong wooden door (2" thick) weighs 250 lbs. if oaken and 8' x 4' in size. You'd have to have a caster level of 25 to shatter it. Iron or stone? Much, much heavier. (And if the door is enchanted or affected by a spell, then you just can't shatter it ever, no matter how high your caster level.)

Enemy has a cool weapon? If it's magical (and how "cool" could it possibly be if it's non-magical), then Shatter can't affect it, period.

Trapped on the second floor of an inn? Cornered by an enemy? Too bad: neither the wall nor the floor weigh less than 10 pounds per caster level. Shatter is absolutely powerless against walls and floors.

Trap puzzles? Do they weigh less than 10 pounds per caster level, and are they also non-magical? If either of these conditions don't hold (which is quite likely), too bad; Shatter will do you no good whatsoever.

By all means, make your "Sonic Screw Driver"; your GM will have the last laugh as you slowly realize that you've wasted a bunch of money and crafting time on a useless item.

That all having been said, my ideal simple solution to "core 3.5 is what we want to run, but the lower-tier classes are kind of weak and that's no fun :(" is to use the Trailblazer rules. They fix what needs fixing, in straightforward ways (taking some great ideas from Pathfinder and adding a whole bunch of their own, rather ingenious, innovations).

(My ideal solution, period, is to design my own variant system. But I can't recommend this option to anyone else, because it's staggeringly effort-intensive.)

False comparison. You must compare Core 3.5 to Core PF, or "3.5 + splat" to "PF with Advanced *, Ultimate *, setting, etc.".

It's simply absurd to compare Core 3.5 to "PF with all the splat" — but that's what you're doing when you bring in archetypes. Under the proper comparisons, a 3.5 character can easily win. To wit:

Core vs. Core:


1. 3.5 druid beats any PF class. (Wild shape and animal companions both worked very differently in 3.5.)

2. Certain martial builds were better in 3.5; for example, a 3.5 spiked chain tripper is superior in almost every way to his PF counterpart.

3. Bards had certain advantages in 3.5 due to the way song effect durations worked.

Splat vs. Splat:


1. PF simply doesn't have some of the game-breaking combos that 3.5 splat allowed.

2. Certain magical spells and effects (polymorph / shapechange is just one example) were way, way more open to crazy-power-level exploits in 3.5.

3. The far, far greater selection / diversity, and much lower level of standardization, of prestige classes and certain other kinds of content (items, spells, etc.) in 3.5 meant that some truly titanic builds were possible: nightsticks and Divine Metamagic is not a thing in PF, for example; nor is Vow of Poverty; nor is Mindrape / Love's Pain for unavoidable infinite-range ignores-all-defenses assassination; etc., etc.

Edit: In short, if you allow both all 3.5 material and all PF material, and someone builds a PF character and someone else builds a 3.5 character (both at high optimization levels), the PF character doesn't stand a ghost of a chance.

Edit 2: Of course, you could bring in 3pp stuff to help the PF guy out, while still sticking to WotC-only for the 3.5 side; but I am reasonably sure that even then, the PF guy gets stomped easily.

Umbral Reaver wrote:
Is that available publicly anywhere?

I'm afraid not. But DriveThruRPG does sell it for less than $5.

It's well worth it.

Umbral Reaver wrote:

Something like: You may spend an attack of opportunity to attempt to block with a shield.

You roll 1d20 + your BAB + your Str bonus + your shield bonus (including enhancement) vs the incoming attack. You may use this total as your AC against the attack.

I feel like there should be a higher cost to this, perhaps. I dunno at the moment. I suppose it does make shields really good for defending against a single opponent and opens up weak points if you are attacked more than once in a turn (if you don't have combat reflexes).

I highly recommend looking into the Trailblazer combat reaction rules.

Umbral Reaver wrote:
It also makes archers a little worse. Which is probably a good thing.

Well, I guess that depends on whether you allow stuff like Clustered Shots... if you don't, then yeah, it does, and yes, that's probably not a bad thing.

Some quick math with some (more or less arbitrarily selected) monsters:

CR 1:


Small Air Elemental
- current AC 17
- new AC 16

Small Earth Elemental
- current AC 17
- new AC 14

- current AC 14
- new AC 13

- current AC 15
- new AC 13

Giant Spider (Medium)
- current AC 14
- new AC 14

CR 5:


- current AC 19
- new AC 16

Bearded Devil
- current AC 19
- new AC 16

Gibbering Mouther
- current AC 19
- new AC 16

Dire Lion
- current AC 15
- new AC 13

- current AC 16
- new AC 14

CR 10:


- current AC 22
- new AC 16

Cryohydra, 9-headed
- current AC 19
- new AC 14

Young Adult Black Dragon
- current AC 25
- new AC 18

Fire Giant
- current AC 24
- new AC 12 (fire giants wear half-plate armor)

Rakshasa, common
- current AC 25
- new AC 21

CR 15:


Mature Adult Red Dragon
- current AC 32
- new AC 20

Marut Inevitable
- current AC 30
- new AC 22

Gare Linnorm
- current AC 30
- new AC 21

- current AC 30
- new AC 17

Jotund Troll
- current AC 30
- new AC 19

One thing that strikes me about the effect of these rules is that monsters gain touch AC and lose regular AC[1] (while gaining DR). This favors big hitters (two-handed weapon types) while disfavoring people who hit more times but for less damage, as well as anyone who relied on touch attacks (such as some casters).

It seems that, past a certain level, monsters at CR = APL will be essentially auto-hittable with this rule. At roughly what level will this actually happen? My estimate is approx. level 6-8. Which you may be totally ok with, given that you're doing E6; this would actually let you throw higher-CR monsters at the party, and have them be challenging (due to lots of HP/DR, attacks, etc.) without being unhittable by the party.

But, if it becomes a problem (PCs hitting monsters too easily), one thing that might make combats a little more interesting is either some sort of "active defense" (e.g. the Trailblazer combat reaction rules that let someone attempt to dodge individual attacks), or some way of converting attack bonus to more damage (in the vein of Power Attack) or some other effect like bleed, or both.

[1] To be clear, what I mean by this is that monsters become easier to hit with things that are "attacks vs. regular AC" in the standard system, while becoming harder to hit with things that are "attacks vs. touch AC" in the standard system.

Edit: I am still thinking about this and rewriting as I go

Question: in your system, do you differentiate between touch AC and regular AC?

(Sorry if this is a dumb question, but I am not familiar with Paizo's take on this variant; I know it from 3.5's Unearthed Arcana, and my own version of it.)

Also, do monster hit dice figure into this at all? Or do you more or less assume that a monster has (in its official stats) appropriate nat. armor for its CR/HD and its role, and then just convert the nat. armor into Defense bonus and DR, without considering its CR or HD?

Another question re: monsters: how does the DR they gain from nat. armor conversion interact with any DR they might already have? Does it just overlap?

What sort of total Defense numbers do monsters at various CRs end up with?

I've played around with similar rules for a low-magic variant system I'm working on. This is similar to how I approached it. Some thoughts:

You say "This bonus does not apply to CMD", but wouldn't it actually be simpler to use the Base Defense Bonus instead of BAB in the CMD calculation? With just a little adjustment, couldn't you unify Defense and CMD into one stat that way? (In another variant system I'm designing, I've already unified attack bonus and CMB, and it's definitely simpler that way.)

Re: shields: the way I did it, shields provide a Defense bonus rather than DR; +1 for buckler, +2 for light, +4 for heavy, +6 for tower.

(Caveat: I haven't playtested this, just done a lot of theorycraft and thinking.)

P.S. I'm glad to see someone working on this, this is a variant I've always found appealing!

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DungeonmasterCal wrote:
I've got an idea for one for my homebrew campaign, but I have no idea where to start. Any suggestions welcome!

There is a psionic lich template in Bruce Cordell's excellent adventure module If Thoughts Could Kill. It's for 3.5, but it shouldn't be hard to adapt it for Pathfinder and Dreamscarred Press's psionics rules.


One of the villains of the adventure is a pretty badass psionic lich. (His base of operations is a mini-dungeon built into the dimensionally-expanded inside of a Huge skeletal bear. Sort of an undead-bear-TARDIS. The lich rides in the bear's head and blasts his enemies with psionic powers through the bear's eye sockets.)

Snowblind wrote:
Havoq wrote:

I'd consider it with Knife Master, but that -2 on a 3/4 BAB a trap.

It's actually even worse on a knife master unless you are using something other than a knife.

The chance of getting a reroll are lower, but the accuracy loss is equal.

For reference, average damage per dice is...
Which is worse than on a d6

d8 with rerolling 1s:

(4.5 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8) / 8 = 4.9375

d8 with rerolling 1s and 2s:

(4.5 + 4.5 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8) / 8 = 5.25

Seems better than with d6s, actually.

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The Bloodrager is strong because he always eats his Cheerios with Protein.

NobodysHome wrote:

If the d20 ends up with nothing but misses, then you start using a normal distribution and calculating average damage and all that, but that's usually way more work than I want to put in.

Just a note — the distribution of d20 rolls is not the normal (Gaussian) distribution, but the uniform distribution. (This makes a difference; the normal distribution has many 10s and 11s but few 1s and 20s; the uniform distribution has as many 1s as 20s as 10s as 15s etc.)

So the gist of this thread is "our favorite monsters are exactly those monsters which were invented by D&D, and which Wizards of the Coast has judged to be so iconic as to constitute intellectual property (and thus not covered by the OGL)".

Seems reasonable ;)

Calybos1 wrote:

Which "warlock" are you converting? A 3.x class, the Warcraft character class, the ones from Bewitched, or a generic fantasy-novel warlock archetype?

This is clearly the warlock from the 3.5 book Complete Arcane. Notice the eldritch blast and invocations.

Mark Hoover wrote:

You ever actually BEEN to Shell Beach?

Seriously though Mak, I hear you. I was looking over some notes from 2 years ago and originally I'd planned to run my current campaign West Marches style. Its a homebrew. But then I switched and I couldn't figure out why til I read a liner note. I'd rolled up "settlement" a couple hexes from the main city and I thought "how can I have miles of unexplored wilderness with a town 30 miles from the major city?" Why wouldn't there be trade, and political scheming, and shared lore and everything that comes from civilization?

Couple that with intelligent monsters/villains and I can't understand how this game style is supposed to work.

Oh my god, that's EXACTLY the movie that popped into my mind when I wrote this!

Yeah, I like my settings to be rather more... organic. As you described. The idea that the PCs just never have the option of doing anything interesting in a city, for example, is offputting.

Yeah, I've always thought the West Marches concept is silly, for more or less this reason (and related ones):

1. There's no plot (or metaplot).
2. There are no persistent villains (certainly not ones who do anything interesting).
3. There's no interaction between any parts of the world, on any but the most local scale.
4. Even though it's a "sandbox" of sorts, the PCs can't actually effect any changes to the world, because...
5. There IS no world. There's just an area with a set of disparate adventure locations, and outside of that region there's... nothing. Just an amorphous, unspecified mist.

Come to think of it, West Marches might be interesting as a sort of existential horror campaign, where the PCs slowly realize that the world they are in is not real, has no existence outside of this one region; that even the "city" doesn't exist beyond the small trade district they've seen; and that they can't... ever... escape... no matter how much they try...

This thing here — an item set consisting of five items (two gauntlets, pair of boots, breastplate, helm). It was one of the major focusing points of an entire years-long campaign. (Detailed item powers redacted for length.)

The Grand Sultan of the efreet wore the Armor into battle during his campaign of interplanar conquest, but he was defeated by an alliance of Good-aligned heroes and creatures. The Armor was scattered across the planes; but many years later, parts of it began to find their way to the Material Plane...


The Armor of the Grand Sultan: Created by the late, half-human Grand Sultan of the efreeti to grant himself power and control over his recalcitrant subjects, and composed of several semi-independent parts, this armor is impressive indeed. Though the individual and synergistic powers of the set pieces are described at length below, wearing the entire armor grants several formidable and unique powers to its fortunate owner.

For one, the unified armor magically binds itself to its wearer, and maintains this bond regardless of distance. The first person to don the entire set becomes the armor's recognized owner; thenceforth, he may take a standard action to recall the armor to him, provided he is located on the same plane as all its parts. (Otherwise this power functions as the called armor enhancement.) The only way to unbind the armor from its owner is to kill him, then scatter the armor's parts throughout the planes.

When the entire armor is worn, all the onyx gems set into it (one in each glove and each boot, one in the breastplate, and three in the helm) are searing hot to the touch, and a bright fire can be seen burning in their centers.


Breastplate: This +5 breastplate is made of brass, but due to the intense process of its creation, is hardened to provide a +5 bonus to AC (+10 total with the enhancement bonus). The entire armor provides a +7 bonus to AC (+12 total with enhancement bonus). The surface is engraved with various arcane symbols describing powerful abjurations, and is decorated with flames dancing around the armor's edges. A large onyx gem is set into the center, directly above a human wearer's heart.

The breastplate's primary function being protective, it has a variety of functions related to shielding the wearer from the fiery doom that the other parts of the armor are designed to inflict.


Helmet: This elaborate brass helmet, which is set with three onyx gems, seems mostly decorative, and does not provide much protection. It is crafted, however, in such a way as not to obscure vision, and it is a comfortable fit for any Medium-sized wearer. When worn, the helm appears to burst into flame, giving off a continual flame effect, and making it effectively impossible to hide. This effect cannot be dispelled, and is not suppressed in any sort of magical darkness.

The simplest power of the helmet becomes obvious the first time the wearer lights a bonfire; the helm permits the wearer to see through mundane or magical fire and smoke of any kind perfectly; opponents obscured by such smoke do not benefit from any concealment against the helm's wearer.

The primary purpose of the helmet is control. It serves to focus the energies of the rest of the armor into coherent powers. When worn separately from the entirety of the armor, this controlling magic attempts to exert itself in strange ways.


Boots: These tall, almost knee-high boots are made of brass, and engraved with images of fire and smoke. Though they are entirely metallic, they are nonetheless comfortable for any Medium-sized wearer. A small onyx gem is set deep into the heel of each boot. When when the boots are worn, small wisps of dark smoke rise from them continuously, giving off a faint sulfuric odor.

Inspired and powered by the Paraelemental Plane of Smoke, the boots were designed by the Grand Sultan to aid in travel and, should the situation require it, escape.


Gloves: These brass gauntlets are too thin and flimsy to provide any real protective value, and a character wielding them is not considered armed. However, they are quite ornate, and a highly polished black onyx gem is set into the middle of the palm of each glove.

The purpose of the gloves is offensive in nature: the Grand Sultan imbued with them with the ability to generate elemental energy. The Quasielemental Planes of Radiance and Ash are the inspiration and source of the gloves' power.


Ravingdork wrote:
Links! LINKS!!! I have no context for the discussion!

Yes, please link. Let's make a habit of linking to any rule/content we discuss. You'll get more help/comments that way, too.

Yes, this seems to work.

Ok, let's clarify, to make sure I understand what's going on. The character starts out Medium. The bastard sword starts out Large.

The Rules said wrote:

Inappropriately Sized Weapons: A creature can't make optimum use of a weapon that isn't properly sized for it. A cumulative –2 penalty applies on attack rolls for each size category of difference between the size of its intended wielder and the size of its actual wielder. If the creature isn't proficient with the weapon, a –4 nonproficiency penalty also applies.

The measure of how much effort it takes to use a weapon (whether the weapon is designated as a light, one-handed, or two-handed weapon for a particular wielder) is altered by one step for each size category of difference between the wielder's size and the size of the creature for which the weapon was designed. For example, a Small creature would wield a Medium one-handed weapon as a two-handed weapon. If a weapon's designation would be changed to something other than light, one-handed, or two-handed by this alteration, the creature can't wield the weapon at all.


As I understand it, your player's argument (with my commentary in parentheses) is like this:

1. The bastard sword is a one-handed weapon, with which he is, by default, not proficient. (He cannot wield it in one hand, even with a -4 nonproficiency penalty; this is different from the way nonproficiency works with most weapons. See -bastard.)
2. Taking Exotic Weapon Proficiency makes him proficient with it. (Rather than removing a nonproficiency penalty, as with most weapons, this now lets him wield it one-handed.)
3. The fact that the weapon is Large, on a Medium wielder, alters the measure of how much effort it takes to use it by one step up, thus making it two-handed. He can wield it two-handed, with a -2 penalty (see first paragraph of quote above).

When he enlarges with the weapon in hand, it enlarges with him; since the difference in the size category of weapon and wielder does not change, the above reasoning likewise stays unchanged.

Then, when he throws it, and it reduces in size, it comes back to him, now a Large weapon on a Large wielder. It remains a one-handed weapon by default (as bastard swords always are); he remains proficient with it (thus able, by default, to wield it one-handed); and it is now the same size as he is, thus not changing either of those things from their defaults. He can now wield the sword as a one-handed weapon with no penalty; he does not (while enlarged) incur the -2 penalty from wielding an inappropriately sized weapon.

As for the damage calculation... his Strength bonus is +5. (+6 when enlarged). Thrown weapons add 1x Strength modifier to damage. On a critical hit, that would be +12. Four levels of fighter get him Weapon Specialization (I assume), for another +2 (+4 on crit). That's +16. Where are we getting the other +8?

That aside, keep in mind that if your player were using a longsword instead of a bastard sword, those numbers would be very similar; a Large longsword does 2d6 damage, and a Huge one does 3d6. I'm not quite sure that I'd spend a feat on EWP, given those numbers, but otherwise, and contingent on the damage calculation being correct, the trick seems to work.

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
And as a side note, I just love how this thread has become a RT debate rather than a 'Let's fix broken spells' discussion. Let's partay like it's 2000!

Right you are. Let us waste no more breath on rope trick. Instead:

Other things that need fixed.

I think that spells that grant immunity to things should go. Pretty much all of them. (I am open to individual exceptions, but can't think of any offhand.)

I refer to spells such as:

freedom of movement
death ward
mind blank

In 3.5, these made you outright immune to grappling, death effects and energy drain, and mind-affecting effects and most divinations, respectively.

Pathfinder did a bit of nerfing. Death ward now makes you immune only to negative energy, not death effects (against which it only provides a save); mind blank gives a bonus to saves against mind-affecting. Freedom of movement still makes you immune to grappling.

I say all these spells should be nerfed; they should grant immunity to nothing. Spells, especially if they last a minute per level, 10 minutes per level, or 24 hours, should not just make you immune to things. Immunities are uninteresting; they just eliminate a whole swath of possible tactics. They disregard the relative power levels of opponents; they contribute to the annoying issue of fights with casters always, tediously, opening with dispels.

At a certain level, you are of course going to go into every major battle with freedom of movement, which means that grappling is entirely eliminated as a category of threat; many mid-to-high level creatures have grapple-based powers, which are all rendered entirely moot by this spell. You don't have to adjust your tactics to compensate; you don't have to plan with them in mind; you just cast this one buff, as part of your standard buff routine, and put it out of your mind. Mind blank? Of course you have it on; put it on your martials, and now an entire massive category of threats (all mind-affecting spells, of which there are lots and lots and lots) is eliminated from consideration. Expect any chance at all of facing undead? Death ward yourself, just in case. Why not? Now a whole swath of creatures can't harm you, at all, with their primary, defining powers.

Instead, these spells should function as either bonuses to saves, or buffers, or some combination thereof. Freedom of movement might give a +8 bonus to CMD and EA vs. grapples, for instance. Death ward, rather than granting immunity to negative energy, might function more like 3.0 negative energy protection, where the warded creature may roll a check against the attack, which, if successful, negates it (and deals positive energy damage to the attacker). Or it could be a buffer, similar to protection from energy, being discharged after some number of negative energy attacks. And so forth. I don't know, I'm just throwing out ideas. The point is, outright immunities: no.

Oh, and:


That is exactly what the spell does, creates a little extra dimensional hiding spot.

You are saying that the spell is problematic for doing exactly what it is supposed to do? I just don't see it.

The point isn't that the spell is problematic for doing exactly what it's supposed to do (like, uh, almost all spells...), the point is that what the spell does is inherently problematic.

Remy Balster wrote:
Exactly how much do people get done in 5 minutes?

Quite a bit, considering that 5-15 minutes is enough to cast all of your short-duration buffs and have several big fights, if you can get to them quickly enough. (Which, past a certain level, is trivial. Especially in a dungeon.)

My Kingmaker group cleared a small dungeon in less than 10 minutes recently. It was maybe 3-5 fights, of which a couple were large-ish.

And how fun is it to spend, literally the entire day, sitting in an empty void with nothing to do?

Who cares?

"How much fun (for the characters) is it to do this overpowered thing" is not any kind of a good argument. If the overpowered thing provides a massive advantage, then the players will do it. It's not like they're the ones who have to sit there the whole day; the characters are sitting there the whole day, while in real life, only as much time passes as it takes to say "we sit in the rope trick the whole day".

Besides, maybe they play cards. Maybe the bard entertains them all with songs. Maybe they get real creative with the munchkinry and the wizard scribes some scrolls while the archer fletches some arrows. Sky's the limit!

And who in their right mind would ever do that all the time? Or... like, ever?

Many people, much of the time. This is a thing people do.

Every minute you spend sitting on your butt doing absolutely nothing is a minute the world continues to tick on by, stuff happens while PCs waste time. Usually it is 'bad stuff'.

Usually irrelevant if it's a dungeon. (Most dungeons aren't very reactive.) And in general, not all adventures are that time-constrained.

And even if you are time-constrained, the constraint often is: how many big, buffed boss fights can you get done in a day? Continuing to adventure and generally walk around after you've expended your daily resources doesn't help you get more big fights done in a single day (in fact it increases the probability that you'll get into a fight and lose due to lack of resources, and death really cuts into your schedule) so you lose nothing, time-wise, by safely hiding in a rope trick.

And... the rope trick can be spotted, too. "The rope cannot be removed or hidden." So it isn't exactly the best possible way to hide. It is useful, certainly... but hardly problematic.

Well, keep in mind this wasn't true in 3.5. So yes, Pathfinder nerfed it a bit. (Although see my comments earlier in the thread about cutting the rope and so forth.)

Bad guys can just crawl on up into your rope trick while the party is all fast asleep. And then more 'bad stuff' happens.

Obviously you put someone on watch. Come on.

And since only one person can climb the rope at a time, and they can't even see the extradimensional window (and you CAN see them coming), it's almost trivially easy to surprise them with a nice gang-up the moment they poke their head into the space. After the first orc pokes his head up into nowhere, is promptly murdered, and falls off the rope, his face and head mangled nearly to unrecognizability with a combination of blades and spell blasts... how eager will the other orcs be to proceed? (And even if they are, you can go ahead and keep murdering them, too.)

Climbing up into a rope trick with the intent of assaulting the occupants is pretty much the worst idea, in short. Now, if you'd said: "A cleric comes by and dispels the rope trick" — ok, then we have a more interesting scenario. Still not spell-nerfingly catastrophic — but interesting.

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Um, guys, the point is not that you use rope trick to regain spells more than once a day. That's crazy; no one is suggesting that (except you two, apparently), it's never been considered legal, and it's certainly not the source of rope trick's brokenness.

The reason the spell is broken is because you regain spells, go out and nova things for 15 minutes, and then spend the rest of the day just hanging out. And then when it comes time to sleep, or if anything threatening comes your way, you climb into the rope trick and sleep / relax in there.

To go back to my previous Ravenloft example, one of the things that are supposed to make that adventure scary is that spending the night in the castle is anywhere from spooky to terrifying; all manner of things roam the halls of Ravenloft at night, and they will come upon you while you sleep, quietly subdue whoever's on watch, and feast on your delicious blood / life energy / etc.

But if you've got rope trick, then all of that is moot. Anytime you feel like not exploring anymore, you just plop yourself down wherever you are and hang out, and when it's time to sleep, you all climb into the extradimensional space and sleep soundly, knowing that you're immune to anything and everything that might walk by. Heck, you can prepare three rope tricks (or make some scrolls) and have 24 hours of coverage at level 8! You are exposed to the dangers of the scary world of adventuring for exactly as many minutes in a day as you choose to be, and not one second more.

This whole business with regaining spells twice a day or what have you is one colossal red herring.

Night attacks aren't dickery, they are a completely reasonable threat when you're resting in enemy territory.

Meanwhile, the whole "the rope cannot be removed or hidden" stipulation is actually kinda strange, when you think about it*. Ok, so 16,000 pounds of force pulls the rope free. Then what? Does the spell end when that happens? Or what? What if, instead of pulling at the rope, you cut it? It's a regular rope, right? Just take your sword to it, cut it off? Or is the rope invulnerable somehow? If not, how close to the dimensional boundary can you make that cut? Can you just have a millimeter of rope dangling out? That seems like it'd be hard to spot, yeah?

*As is most magic-related rules text that says "you can't X", rather than "if X happens, then Y results".

The Arcatraz dungeon from World of Warcraft (Burning Crusade) could be a source of ideas.

See, the Arcatraz is an alien prison ship, once crewed by good-aligned aliens (who were forced to abandon ship), and inside are kept various creatures — demons, aliens, criminals. Some are in stasis (and the PCs might inadvertently, or intentionally, let them loose). Some have broken free, allied with others, and entrenched themselves in parts of the ship. Some are simply rampaging. There are also security robots, some of which are malfunctioning and berserk.

The aesthetics of the place are also pretty cool — all crystals and force fields and light.

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Makhno wrote:
Wait, banning things is finicky? Or do you mean duration-nerfing?

Sorry, I meant your 'I'll just invoke RT's hazard clause if the party takes their bag of holding inside the RT' solution. I think it's finicky because it simply encourages players to get more creative in their effort to break the 4-encounter-day paradigm. (As do all "I'll just come up with various reasons why my PCs shouldn't rest in RT" solutions.)

Apparently it works for other DMs, but it's too finicky for me.

Heh. Yeah, I don't actually advocate solving rope trick that way; it's just the simplest way to solve it without house ruling.

My favorite rope trick solution was one I instituted in a Ravenloft (original module, not setting) game I ran. You see,

Ravenloft is filled with this evil mist that, once you breathe it, you need to keep breathing to survive; if you leave Ravenloft before defeating Strahd, you immediately start to choke from the absence of the mist, and soon suffocate. (Destroying Strahd causes the mist to disperse and the affliction to be cured.)

So when the PCs cast a rope trick and climbed in, I told them they start choking. Turns out (thus I ruled), the mist won't diffuse past the dimensional boundary. There sure was weeping and gnashing of teeth that day, I tell ya what.

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