Leonard Kriegler

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I've just binge watched Season 2. Twice. I generally hate sequels but this one completely destroyed any expectations I had.


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The game opens on a village where people are going missing and a young girl is confused. Her father, a bucolic middle-aged woodcutter is fond of calling people "Great, fibbling rats!" when angry with them.

The girl has been bullied and it turns out her bullies are the ones disappearing. Then the rats start showing up. But when the rats are captured and done in, they turn out to be people. "Great, Fibbling Rats" begins appearing around town.

The girl disappears. Her father is the number one suspect. The PCs have to deal with the rats, gather clues, and go find the girl.

What's really going on is that the young lady is a changeling on the verge of turning into a hag. There's already a coven in place but one of the hags is secretly the girls' mom. She intends to use her daughter to replace one of the coven members to give her more of an edge on the control of the three.

So the coven used a Witch member of the group with the Cauldron hex to make potions of Baleful Polymorph that the girl was tricked into feeding to her bullies. The PCs have the strong possibility of foiling her becoming a hag in which case she becomes a Level 1 Witch NPC who can help the party and feed them more missions.

Meanwhile, whether they foil the girl's transformation or not the plot of the girl's mother is discovered and the coven fractures for a time into three individuals, each with their own agenda. As the campaign wears on however the coven makes amends and re-forms, coincidentally around the time that the PCs begin to get to power levels where they can face such challenges.


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ccs wrote:

You'll love this one.

Many many years ago playing 1e AD&D I had a player try & trick me. I figured out his scheme & had a nasty surprise waiting for him at the end. :)

Once upon a time Brian read some article about how to become a Lich in a Dragon Magazine issue. He decided that he wanted his next character to become a lich.
He made two assumptions.
1) That whatever he read was automatically in play. (wrong!)
2) That I'd never agree to let him become a Lich if he just asked. (wrong!)

So from day one of this campaign he set about making that secretly happen.
He made a Cleric of Thoth (Egyptian god of knowledge)- presumably so that he wouldn't have to find anything out about the process during play. Because you know, cleric of knowledge.... Thus avoiding asking me if he could eventually become a Lich.
He carefully planned out at what lv he'd MC into Wizard (he needed some spell or other) & how many lvs he'd sink into it.
He did everything he could in game to slowly amass the requisite spells, materials, & ingredients for the Lich potion and a phylacerty.
And he rose through all the desired Cleric/Wizard lvs. (It's AD&D, do you have any idea how much XP that is???)

This took nearly 3 years of weekly play (about 5 hrs per session).
And in all that time he never once mentioned his grand plan to me, the DM.
That was a mistake.

For a good long while (about 1/2 the campaign)I had no idea what he was up to. I hadn't read that issue of Dragon. I just knew that he was collecting some weird components.
Well, eventually I got a "Best Of Dragon" compilation. And one of the articles in it detailed the steps to become a Lich. Steps & components that seemed really familiar....
And so I decided that that WASN'T how liches were made in my world. But I'd let Brian continue down his chosen path as long as he liked & if he ever said anything about his plan only then would I let him know the truth.
He never said anything.

And so after almost 3 years of gaming the big day arrives. Brian's...

So... why?

I mean, why did you NOT let him have what he was planning? Why didn't YOU talk to HIM since you figured out his plan?

I don't mean to be inflammatory here but speaking as a player who got burned similarly by the same GM... TWICE... basically for deciding to play good characters in dark worlds, it really ruins the game.

Both games were 1e. The first I was a female elf fighter/wizard. I was even made a minor noble in the game. My "secret plan" was to unite the elven clans but I knew I couldn't do it outright since a demon lord was running about mucking things up. I used as much subterfuge as I could muster.

My GM was (I found out later) cheesed off that I was playing some of the players off one another to accomplish my goal. The other players figured it out and played along. Basically I think my GM was just mad that I was monopolizing his plot, however as the game got up close to double digit levels he got things back on track - by plucking out one of my character's eyes, replacing that with a magic gem, but then letting the magic gem be a curse that fed info back to the demon.

So by the end of the game I've got a demon-killing artifact sword, all the players who were aligned with me have all been coerced or outright dominated into serving the demon so I've had to fight through my own party, and I finally go toe-to-toe with the demon, who I defeat.

Then... the saving throw. Demon's about to die, I'm about to strike the final blow, and I blow a save triggered by the artifact that NO ONE, not even the greatest sages in the world, knew was in the sword.

When I failed I came to a thousand years into a dystopian future. The elf forest kingdoms had been obliterated to a desert, all elves were either hunted down or marked as pariahs, and my own character's name was a curse word.

... and one of my legs had been replaced with a combat tail.

That's just one of 2 stories I had from this GM. The second one involved me learning my lesson, going to him hat in hand and spelling out the custom character I wanted to make (combo of wizard and thief called a Barrier Mage), getting permission for it and some new spells from this GM, and even getting enthusiasm on how much my ideas would bring to this game, only to be the target of a succubus' charm ability IN MY SLEEP on the very first game session.

What followed was 6 levels of my character being the secret proxy of the main villain without any ability for me to stop it or even know in character it was happening. My "plan" in the game was to go after a dragon of legend but miraculously the dragon seemed informed at all times of every move our party made.

At one point we bugged out into the wilderness without any supplies. We were caught unawares and had to flee. However in "secondary skills" my barrier mage just happened to roll exceptionally well: TWO skills - Hunter/Fisher and Leather Worker. So with some skills in the wilds I get to roll an Int check and NAIL it! First good roll in a few sessions so I find a big, beautiful pond of potable water near a cave, a stream babbling through the rocks that's crystal clean...

...except for the freaking HORDE of xvarts hiding inches below the waters' surface and just inside the cave entrance.

I'm instantly grappled and am being choked (no spells now), then I'm targeted by the others who drag me into the cave. My party comes to bail me out, melee ensues. I'm tossed down a slanting vertical shaft with the intent of putting me in their dungeon but I cast one of my unique barrier spells, make a baton between the walls of the shaft and grab it as I'm sliding under to stop myself.

Hooray! I'm saved!

... until 7 xvarts who, currently engaged in combat 20' away up the vertical shaft notice me and decide "HE'S the one we should be focused on, not this dwarf fighter in front of us!" They descend down the shaft, beat me unconscious and I end up in the dungeon anyway.

So in the end my party nearly dies coming to save me. We escape the xvart dungeon, everyone with 1 HP, and race into the forest at night. Still no supplies. No treasure. The entire party is angry and they're all pointing their fingers at ME for bungling into the pool.

We run through the dark for hours, no sign that we're being followed by the xvarts. The DM lets me make another Int roll to make and camouflage a campsite out of branches in the middle of the night but HUZZAH! Another good roll for ME! We have a camp, it's hidden under brush and leaves, we set a watch, we lay down to rest without ANY evidence that the xvarts followed us...

...and they were on us seconds later knowing exactly where we were.

Now we eventually survived the xvarts but that was how the campaign went for almost 9 levels until I threw up my hands in defeat. The dragon was nowhere in sight, none of my barrier spells seemed to ever work or, like in the case of the xvart lair when they worked they made me an instant target for every monster in the scene. I died twice and the second time they left me buried in a pine box but the DM spontaneously resurrected me - didn't get me out of the ground, just made me alive in my coffin from which I spent an entire game session escaping.

So after ALL of that I got bitten by a vampire and died a third time, so I quit. The DM raised me as a vampire under his control. One of the other players comes to me: "Man, why didn't you ever actually USE any of those spells?" I ask him what he's talking about. It seems that, in my absence, all the obstacles the DM had put around my barrier spells all came off and they were working as intended all along, much to the chagrin of the other PCs.

When that campaign wrapped I was left, stranded on an island (can't cross water b/c vampire), at the bottom of a semi-active volcano, guarded by the red dragon of legend that I'd vowed to steal from at the outset of the game.

I don't know WHY my DM did these things to me, other than we were kids and his ego may have been hurt or something. I wasn't actively trying to derail things in either game and in fact with the barrier mage went out of my way to work WITH the DM from the beginning.

So I guess the moral of MY story is: DM's/GM's - talk to your players


Merellin wrote:
Sorry, I hope Im not bothering people with all my posts about diferent character ideas. I always have a hard time making up my mind, so I toss arround a lot of ideas, Ask for tips and sugestions online, and discuss it with my party and GM and repeat over and over for various ideas, Untill the time comes when I must make the character, And then I try to quickly make up my mind about my ideas.. xD I cant make up my mind in good time, Because if I do, If I'm compleately sure i'l play something, Then two or three days later I'm changing my mind and pondering ideas again, Untill the time comes to make the character, Then I go through my many ideas and pick one to play.

No worries Professor M. 2 things: first, your frequent requests and musings keep all us board lurkers on our game. Thought experiments like this are ideal creativity boosters so honestly we should thank you!

Second, have you ever considered designing your own adventures? You wouldn't have to decide on ONE character - you could put 'em ALL into play as villains!

Think about it: you want to make a challenge for 4 characters, APL = 3. A hard fight for these PCs would be a CR 6.

Take the build I pitched for a spellcaster with a familiar and an Animal Companion and tweak it: Kobold Adept 7/Warrior 2. He's got level 1 and 2 spells, flies on a mauler flying familiar (try the swooping dinosaur one!) while his giant lizard races in and devours the party. For feats he's got Nature Soul, Evolved Familiar: Improved Damage (Bite), Animal Ally, Boon Companion, and Spell Focus: Necromancy.

The caster buffs his animal up as much as he can and then lets the thing loose while flying on his mauler. Said familiar swoops down and delivers a decent Bite attack, maybe also buffed. Meanwhile the caster unleashes Fear spells to send heroes packing, preferably when they're in melee range w/one of his pets!


I concur with AVR; figure out what you'd use a familiar for first before you decide to take a bunch of feats for it. If you're looking to exemplify using scrolls, maybe take a look at Cypher Magic which gives you a +1CL bonus and +2 on checks to activate higher level scrolls.

If you eventually want the familiar reading your scrolls, consider the following winding road to success:

1. Take a familiar that can speak; give it the Valet archetype so it can Prestidigitate (slowly manipulate 1 lb of material) a scroll
2. Take the feat Evolved Familiar - Skilled to give the familiar +8 Use Magic Device
3. Swap the familiar's starting feat with Extra Traits; take Dangerously Curious as one of your familiar's new traits
4. Take the 2nd level spells Eagle's Splendor and Visualization of the Mind
5. Take 4 ranks in Use Magic Device

Follow this program every day:

1. at daybreak take 1 hour to cast Visualization of the Mind (Charisma) on your familiar; the familiar now gains +5 on all Charisma-based checks
2. Before combat if you think you're going to utilize your familiar's scroll-casting abilities, cast Eagle's Splendor for a +4 Enhancement bonus on your familiar's Cha

At this point your familiar should be at +21 Use Magic Device: +3 Class Skill, +4 Ranks, +8 Evolved Familiar, +5 Visualization of the Mind, +1 Trait. The familiar likely starts with a Cha 7 (-2 penalty) so casting Eagle's Splendor simply removes that.

So with UMD +21, Speech, the ability to hold/manipulate the scroll and no auto-fail on using skills for rolling a 1, this means that your simple animal familiar is guaranteed at successfully casting spells from a level 2 scroll or less. Since all you can write is a level 2 scroll spell, you should be just fine.


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Nobody's mentioned Shelyn yet, so I will. The fluff around her dogma suggests that she appears to potential worshippers in the midst of their darkest hour, like in a foxhole in the heat of battle.

It might be kind of a cool backstory actually.

You were a grizzled, mercenary warrior, pillaging everything you could and carelessly using every vice including other people. You were a cad and a scoundrel with nothing but conquest and oblivion before you.

Then came The Battle of Mengler's Tor.

Your unit was betrayed and besieged by foe and ally alike. You cried out to your lord Gorum but of course your pleas fell on deaf ears. As men fell like cord wood and the sodden ground stank of blood you ran to the tree line, only to tumble down, into the dark of a shallow cave, your enemies hot on your trail.

But then, as all hope seemed lost the last rays of sunshine found their way to you, beyond you, into a single, multifaceted crystal exposed on the cave wall. The light refracted into a riot of color dancing across your vision like a playful child begging for you to chase them.

You thought you heard the songs of beautiful birds on the wind then, and the laughter in your mother's eyes. The scent of the lilacs from her garden teased your memory. Something in your heart gave way and you were at once unafraid, for at the moment of your fate you were reminded of all the living beauty in this world.

That wonderment filled you and for the first time since you were a wee child you were awed by something greater than yourself. Then from outside, the panting taunts of your pursuers. You had been discovered and now they would come down for you, to claim their horrible prize. But let them come, for the grin on your face and the tear in your eye were all the defense you would ever need.

From the lip of the cavern above came the opening salvo: a barrage of sling bullets driving you back against the cavern wall. Several ricocheted off your armor, your shield, but two struck hard and true, fracturing your knee and gashing your brow. Blood mingled with the tears then as you collapsed to your one good knee. They were there, encircling you, readying to drive axe and spear down through flesh and bone. You hoisted your shield one last time, a feeble attempt to delay the inevitable.

In that moment you marveled: so much beauty in this world, and only now do I wish to know it. That's when the glaive appeared.

The sudden clang shattered your dulling senses. Your consciousness would only remain a few moments more but in those precious seconds a lifetime of magnificence was revealed. A spectacular glaive, as beautiful as it was deadly, was dancing of it's own accord. It blocked and parried each attack away, returning each blow with two of its own. As it swung you could swear you heard a woman's voice, or perhaps more songbirds on a summer's breeze, and as your enemies fell or fled all you could do was marvel at the beauty of it all.

You awoke hours later. Your wounds were nothing more than throbbing aches over your tired but living body. There was no sign of the glaive or the birds or the scent of lilacs, but the memory of it all was so real, so vivid. You knew beyond all reason or logic that something had visited its will upon you, saved you despite your repugnant soul. You had been a despised and despicable man, but this grace had nonetheless chosen you to be spared.

"There is beauty in this world, if I would only take a moment to regard it" you thought. This singular mantra carried you up, out of the earthen hole and into the mourning midnight moon. The orb's silver light, like a pall upon the fallen left strewn on the moors before Mengler's Tor, gave you pause for a moment. In that moment, when in the face of all that horror you found grace and beauty, your new life truly began.

Since then you have curbed your carousing ways. For certain there are still moments of vice for even the highest soul yet stumbles, but always there is the reminder that even in folly there is a beauty to this weary world. You are not alone anymore for The Rose Eternal blooms with you, in you and through you.


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So when I was a kid there was a D&D coloring book I got for a birthday. In said book was a tavern scene with a sign that reads The Green Dragon but somehow me and my brothers confused it with the griffon on a later page and started calling it the Green Gryphon Inn.

The name stuck.

Since I was 9 years old and started running my own games there has been an iteration of the Green Gryphon in every world I've made. Generally these are 2-3 stories and the amenities vary with the region, however they always feature the following:

1. A Halfling with an alliterated name: Bindul Bosnystock, Ungla Underfoot, Igor Iverbottle, etc.

2. Dwarven ale: normally I stay away from clichés but this is literally ALWAYS there!

3. Bath services: I think in 30+ years of games I've only had folks use the bath at the Green Gryphon like, a dozen times maybe, but they're always offered.

The best campaign was a 1e/2e game when a buddy of mine convinced me to let him play a goblin with Popeye arms. He and the Halfling homesteader in the group set out to earn enough cash to keep the local Green Gryphon in business. They did so well they bought the place, then they hijacked the campaign in order to franchise the inn.

For a while in my lands there was a Green Gryphon Inn scattered every 30 miles from horizon to horizon. The pair of PCs went about seeking recipes of legend, talented bartenders, establishing huge plantations for food and hops, and even at one point took over a pocket dimension to enhance logistics. It was... kinda ridiculous, but great fun!


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Railroads aren't always bad. In fact, I find most players purposely put themselves on one. I have a group of gamers that only meets once a week for short periods of time. Also it often comes up that one of the players can't make a session since they're on weeknights. Finally these are all old-skool type players who've all expressed nostalgia for campaigns ranging randomly through Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms.

I figured this was the ideal place for a "West Marches" style campaign. I drew out a city and hinterlands map on notebook paper, then laid out a second hex map with a few hexes filled in. I proudly unveiled everything and set the first few hooks in place, then I triumphantly set back and waited.

... and waited, and waited.

My players didn't know how to self start. I added an "adventurer's guild" and forced them off on the first mission. Once completed, they only wanted to follow up on the mysterious tower at the first locale. Then the kobolds from the first locale. Then it was back to the guild to put some pieces together about a dragon the kobolds were worshipping.

I mean don't get me wrong: they were having fun and so was I so I'm not complaining, but the game couldn't have been designed more "sandbox" without playing in a physical sandbox. Despite that initial setup the players forced a linear story to play out until frankly I couldn't think of anything else for it so I gave them a side quest to do with one PC's backstory.

TL/DR. I guess my point is just that often folks engineer a logical, straight-line approach to their game out of habit or necessity, regardless of a "sandbox" setting.


Bounty Hunter as one-off encounter for level 1 party:

1. Lone bounty hunter: CN F Half-Elf Hunter 5; either build as a Packmaster with 5 level 1 ACs or just give hunter a host of trained animals; this encounter focuses on the villain using Tracking skills and a cadre of animals to harry the PCs, catch them in the open and secure the bounty while the animals keep the others at bay

2. Small party: NE M Half-Orc Rogue (Thug)3, x2 NE Male Halfling Rogue (Sniper) 1; this encounter is a bit more urban but can also be an ambush in the wilderness; the Thug focuses on the bounty and the snipers pin down the other PCs from hidden positions; build the Thug with Bludgeoner, Cudgeler Style and have them deal 2d6 Non-Lethal plus Sickened to the wanted PC!

3. Big pack: LE F Kobold Adept 3/Warrior 2 (flying Mauler Rhamphorhynchus familiar), x5 kobold warrior 1; build Adept around Sleep spell, use of nets, and flying on his "draconic" mount; warriors can either be built around a single Teamwork feat or using Aid Another on Grapple checks; kobolds attack while their bounty is sleeping


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So... ALL of the leaders are evil to some degree? Is this kind of a dark world? Is the intention that, down the road, the PCs will get embroiled in these politics? I'm asking because if ALL rulers are some level of evil and the players want to be heroes, they might find it a bit overwhelming when literally everyone is a villain.

That being said, it sounds like you have a LOT of villainy to work with. Even though they're all "sensible" evil I'm guessing that some might have schemes to usurp one another. An easy out in this situation would be to have one of the Caliph's "party members" reach out to the PCs as a mysterious benefactor in order to manipulate them into dealing with the Caliph for them.


Broken Zenith wrote:
Broken Zenith wrote:

Zenith Games is looking for Authors for 100 Side Quests

Project Length: Multiple 300 - 500 wrd Side Quests
Pay Rate: $0.01/word

Additional details: Zenith Games looking for 100 half-page side quests. These will be system neutral, and easy to adjust to a wide range of CRs.

Are you a good writer? This is an excellent chance to get published! I'll be accepting any number authors for this, depending on the quality of the pitch.

Pitch: One completed side quest of 300 - 500 words. Writing should be 100% fluff, 0% crunch, and system neutral. Glance over the Top 12 Tips for Writing Adventures for inspiration (though obviously you shouldn't try to include all that in a side-quest). Also send your credits and a writing sample/published product.

Respond to: zenithgames.blog@gmail.com with your name, credits, and pitch. Subject line should be "100 Side Quests Pitch" is the proposed title of the product.

If anybody missed this and has a great idea, please send it in the next few days!

So I have some questions. Should I post here, PM you or use a site email?


1. Command Undead spell from Wizard

2. Brew Potion

So find a wizard willing to cast Command Undead in the crafting of a potion. Pay them the 60 GP to cast the spell, pay the 75 GP to create the potion, and now you have what you need.

Alternately use an alchemical way to coerce or blackmail the spellcaster into rendering their service for free.


What about a "tavern" based around the wild abandon of fey revels or bacchanals?

It could be a druid's grove or even just a public park or something. Patronage is by invitation only, the evening's festivities would be preternaturally fun and exciting with the most amazing liquors and foods in seemingly never-ending abundance. It might be a good way to intro otherworldly elements or magic while inflicting consequences minutes, hours or even months later on the PCs.

Also, what's the difference between an "Inn" and a "Hall?" Like in some Scandinavian settlements in the dark and middle ages you had a longhouse where people gathered for public meetings, but then they also had like shelves or ledges on the walls for people to bed down after they ate/drank. Maybe the only difference was doors/privacy?


First off, if you're designing the adventure pick stuff that gets a Bite attack. Ogrekin can get one with their Beneficial Mutations, so that's not a concern. Then decide what kind of cannibal you're modeling after.

1. Hannibal the Cannibal: Hannibal Lecter was a brilliant psychologist, highly analytical, and incredibly epicurean. He was also savagely sociopathic and ate his victims since he was so utterly superior to them.

2. Cannibal Corpses: this metal band from the 90's pushed an aesthetic of ghouls and gore on steroids. The imagery conjured by their art and lyrics would suggest a profane religious fanaticism for the consumption of sentient humanoids.

3. RL cannibals: some native tribes have practiced cannibalism for a variety of reasons, though mostly ceremonial. For this reason the culinary practice would be secondary to the primitive lifestyle which would suggest possible class choices.

4. The Donner Party: the classic "cannibalism by necessity" scenario, these were homesteaders and pioneers. Again, the act of eating humanoid flesh here is secondary to their primary goals of survival in a hard world which suggests more NPC type classes.

So what kind of cannibal do you envision for your ogrekin? If you're imagining a cauldron of humanoid soup like in the OP then I'm guessing more primitive type eaters - Barbarians, Witches, Oracles and Hunters immediately spring to mind. However, can I suggest a few out-of-the-box alternatives?

1. Aberrant-blooded Sorcerer or Bloodrager: Ogrekin already have a Bite attack. Add in bizarre, tentacular limbs, paralyzing touch attacks and completely savage, alien minds and these things would be the stuff of nightmares.

2. Sin-Eater Inquisitor: taking the ogrekin in a COMPLETELY different direction, imagine they are cannibalizing for some kind of extreme religious ceremony. They eat their foes as part of their Judgment ability, utterly condemning their enemies to torment in the next life while they actually eat their own kin or allies to save them from said damnation.

3. Vivisectionist Alchemist, Rogues, and anyone that gets Precision damage: these ogrekin don't just cannibalize for necessity or ceremony; this is a lifestyle, an aesthetic. They can draw a dagger and carve the choicest pieces from their foes, sometimes while they're still standing. The consumption then is the highest feasting. Perhaps using alchemy, culinary skills and herbalism, the ogrekin are knowingly inflicting their blasphemy on the populace under the guise of haute cuisine? Bon Apetit!

There's lots of ways to take this O Great White Duke. I suppose it just boils down to one question: when you close your eyes and imagine the horror of these villains, what precisely do you see?


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Ironically I had a player last night telling me the only acceptable way to end fights as a wizard (PCs in my game are level 4) is to cast web, fog cloud, and other save-or-suck effects to funnel all enemies into the barbarian since, y'know... she can Cleave.

I sent him a link to this guide. Specialized/Empowered Burning Hands. I'm sorry, WHAT low-level undead minions were you talking about?


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I've skulked these boards for years. I took a year of personal... garbage and have just started to re-emerge the past few weeks.

Succubus in a grapple: hello old friend


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So in another thread the OP was asking why all adventures seem to start in a tavern. Whether they do or not, every settlement I've ever designed/run/played from had one. But that got me thinking - are they ALWAYS just a bar with rooms for rent?

I don't know how many hits this thread will get or even if its all that interesting, but I'm looking for variants to the "standard" tavern. For the purposes of this thread, the "standard" will be defined as a single common room, separate rooms for rent for PCs to sleep in and some kind of cellar area for storing extra alcohol/foodstuffs.

Here are my two right off the bat:

Auntie Mymm's Pies: this eatery is merely the parlor, dining room and kitchen of Old Widow Mymm. She is a kindly human, pleasant to the regulars and generous with the gravies in her pies. She serves kidney, beef and mutton pies for lunch, dinner and supper. She also has an arrangement with the Brewhammer Brewery, serving their pales and lagers with her savories. Seating is limited but turns quickly and there are always a few who know to ask for "Auntie's Precious;" a robust confection infused with the widow's own witchcraft. Although only the highest merchants and nobles can afford these pies (50 GP) they swear that once consumed all their aches and pains are gone! (note: "Auntie's Precious" is a Cure Light Wounds potion; GM may add other level 1 potions as desired)

Croak and Whistle Teahouse: this rather unique establishment is built into the hollow and boughs of an ancient, gnarled willow. A flight of steps rises through the taproots to a small-sized door while the wafting aroma of dozens of heady brews hangs upon the lintel like a worn old coat. Inside are a handful of modest tables fit only for a party of four. Each features a ceramic plate in the center. A staircase exits out the side of the hollow to ring its way around the girth of the tree to the decking above.

The Croak and Whistle, established and run by a grippli ranger and his associate - a Halfling cleric of Gozreh, serves only teas alongside a host of sweets, cakes and other pastries with which to pair the steeped beverages. They boast no less than at least 99 varieties; some are classic teas found throughout the region, others are hybrids created by the dual proprietors, and some more unique flavors they claim to have discovered on their adventures through this world and others.

With the nature of the fare served at the Teahouse customers tend to linger for hours. Attending either the breakfast or high tea at the Croak and Whistle is always a social affair as patrons tend to wander through one anothers' conversations like so many wisps of steam from a rattling teapot. (Note: if PCs make a point to be on hand for either the Breakfast or High Tea service at this establishment they gain a +1 Circumstance bonus to any Gather Information roll made)


So these are published modules; the tavern is fixed for each adventure. As folks have mentioned, there is usually some kind of "tavern" present in every settlement in published materials. I don't know that every PFS module starts in one, but I know the 2 I played besides "the graduation" began at: a party, and a tavern.


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I've had one item in three campaigns. Recently my players found a Belt of Dexterity +4 that was actually crafted by a korred, a mischievous hill fey. Korreds have overly long hair they can animate and "tickle" enemies with. The creature had woven his own shorn beard into this belt and the curse was that, once the wearer entered their first combat wearing it the belt would start tickling them and essentially deliver no bonus.

I thought I was all cute and flavorful. Then my players rolled to I.D. the device and I actually reviewed the rules on detecting/analyzing a cursed item. Long story boring, unless I wanted to be a total jag they rolled so high that they could not only identify the belt but the curse as well.

So my cool, flavorful item was "it's a belt of Dex +4; put it on for a fight and it tickles you. Let's get a remove curse, depower the thing and then hock the gems in the buckle for some cash."

To try and salvage it I gave my players an alternative curse removal that would leave the Dex +4 intact. If a korred or a fey more powerful than one of those creatures were willing they could remove the curse using their First World power. Of course, the party would have to do this fey patron a small favor first. Currently my party is heading into the wilderness to track down a fey they'd had dealings with in a previous adventure...


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Some ideas of religious ceremonies:

Pharasma

1. Baptism: having both aspects of birth AND death, this rite is very important to the Pharasmin. It involves clothing the infant in the colors of the faith, anointing it with holy water and the parents and family swearing oaths to give the child every opportunity to grow and prosper.

2. Holy Day of Remembrance or All Souls Day: this holy day owes not only to the dead but also to the lore of the departed. Sacred ledgers which account the deeds and life of ancestors are carried through the streets; sometimes these are accompanied by images, icons or favored items of the dead. The processors also carry prayer wheels as they march to the graves of their ancestors where final songs of celebration are sung in their honor. If it rains during this holy day (usually held in mid-spring) it is considered a blessing from the Mother of Souls

Iomedae

1. Oath of the Devoted Blade: the final oath sworn by initiates into the faith, petitioners are brought before the altar at midnight where they are instructed to kneel and hold their swords out before them with both arms; candidates are not permitted to leave this position until the first rays of sunlight are seen on the horizon. While enduring this final trial the hopefuls are to continuously chant the Valors of the Inheritor.

2. Swearing in ceremony: new barristers, judges, and other legal or political notables must swear an oath on the Acts of Iomedae. While no spells are invoked to GUARANTEE the fidelity of the new office holder, there is a symbolic swearing of loyalty to the tenets of the faith - honor, integrity, and the good of all above personal glory.

Torag

1. Anointing of Shields: clerics of Torag are often called upon to travel out to new fortifications, mines, or forge ovens to deliver a blessing to these constructions at their inaugurations. Shield makers or those who employ such devices however often prostrate themselves before the Toragdan. For a small donation to the church a Forge Priest(ess) will perform a ritualized blessing, painting the shield in holy oils and calling forth prayers in the Toragdan Throat Singing technique. The rite culminates with a solid blow from a solid stone mallet; if the shield rings true the blessing is complete but if the sound is dull or worse if the device cracks or dents it is considered a very bad omen

2. Braids of Adulthood: a tradition begun under the orthodox dwarves of the Toragdan, this has continued into all of the cultures who worship the Forge Father. The hair of the adolescent is purposely allowed to grow continuously for one year; in the case of males this includes any facial hair they are capable of producing. When the time comes, depending on the birthday of the adolescent and their race, they are brought before the holy anvil where they must recite the Riddle of Steel from memory. While they do so they are blindfolded and their hair is ritualistically braided, each knot and pattern symbolic of their chosen profession and path before them. Once they complete the recitation of the Riddle the adolescent is immediately pronounced an adult in the eyes of Torag; this is generally followed by a modest celebration of feasting, drinking and other church-permitted carousing

Cayden Cailean

1. The First Drink: while the Toragdan have a very ritualized adulthood ceremony, the Caydenites have a far less structured rite. It is however just as important to those of true faith in the Lucky Drunk. The adolescent is led to the bar where an initiate in the faith submits The Most Legendary Toast - an entirely subjective descriptor for a short speech of equal parts roast and admiration of the adolescent. After the Toast the young faithful is expected to drain their First Drink to the last drop whereupon they are pronounced an adult. More often than not the drink selected is the most alcoholic the initiate can find

2. Share the Luck: whenever a true faithful of the Caydenites is particularly blessed, whether by a good night at the tables, a packed house at the inn or escaping death with great wealth and an even better story, the faithful are encouraged to share a tithe of their luck with the less fortunate. This is usually performed in the buying of an entire tavern a round or two; other forms of charity however would be to dole bread and thin wine out to the needy, a donation of gold and goods to the local orphanage, or perhaps use spells or skills free of charge in wineries, breweries or other such businesses. Upon the completion of their charity the faithful are expected to make a final prayer of thanks to the Accidental God, offering a toast in his honor at a local shrine

Sarenrae

1. Dance of the New Dawn: the first morning of the new year is met with jubilant celebration by Sarenites. As the grey of Falsedawn paints the sky the faithful gather outside to greet the first dawn. At the moment of the first sunlight their swords are drawn forth in a salute to the Dawnflower, then ritualistically sheathed and knotted for peace. What follows is an hours-long ceremony of dance, ululating and praising songs thanking the Everlight for the renewal of the land.

2. Confession of Sins: those who seek redemption may attend a private audience with a priestess/priest of Sarenrae. The penitent meet one on one with their confessor between noon and evening meal. They are seated outdoors where they are given a ritualized greeting that also serves to encourage truth from the petitioner. An oath of confidentiality is then delivered and finally the confession is made. Once finished the priestess/priest pronounces a suitable penance to be carried out by the sinner at which point all wrongdoing will be absolved.

Abadar

1. Rounding Day: in every ledger there are fractions of coppers and silvers which must be negotiated into the accounting of the church. One day of the year fortunes are ritualistically reversed; a gong is sounded after midday meal and all Holy Accountants are expected to round in the favor of the clients and the needy. These fractions are totaled and, if need be rounded again to nearest gold piece whereupon the remainder is sealed in a ceremonial flatbox. This tithe is then distributed out as a dole just before the evening meal

2. Holy Day of Undertakings: while many journeys or ventures receive blessings by the Abadaran, many businesses or guilds hold their Commencement ceremonies on this auspicious holiday. The pontiffs of the faith hold service at the church in the form of a prayer breakfast; following this there is one hour of Sacred Networking over pots of blessed tea or coffee; leading into the midday meal is the Producing of the Contracts and Diplomas wherein lay members are encouraged to seal deals or receive their signed accreditation of graduation from guilds, colleges and other apprenticeships; finally there is the Luncheon of Power, a celebratory meal over which church pontiffs preside. Once all of these rites have been completed lay members are allowed to take the day off from the rest of their labors

Gozreh

1. Rite of the Tempest: a fertility rite for the Gozren, this ceremony only occurs during the most brutal of summer storms. Because it is weather dependent it is generally only called forth hours before it is to commence. Faithful are encouraged to gather somewhere that is at once protected from the elements but also delivers full view of the gathering storm, such as a cave or grotto. Once assembled a ritualized bacchanal is performed, the priest(ess) leading certain dances, songs and other activities meant to invoke the union of water and sky until the climax of the passing storm. Children conceived by this ritual are considered blessed by the Wind and the Waves

2. Return to the Earth: while the Pharasmin are the purveyors of burial and the dead, there are some sects of Gozren who adhere to the old ways of delivering their dead to the natural forces of entropy and decay. The corpse is anointed with holy oils and final rites of thanks, well wishes and invocations of security in their journey to the next life are delivered. At this point the corpse is wrapped in a white shroud and entombed in a natural grave of earth and loam. Some, such as peoples of the jungles or gripili of the swamps chose to lower the dead into bogs or mires instead

Shelyn

1. Celebration of Love's Union: weddings in the Shelynite faith are a lavish affair. They begin early in the day with ritualized processions, guests seated in the utmost comfort amid flowers and fanfare. One partner is delivered to the altar first, their face obscured by multicolored scarves. The other partner then processes in, usually accompanied by either a coir or other musical accompaniment, at which point the first partner is ceremonially revealed. Both of the betrothed have previously been made over with the most elaborate costumes, makeup and other beautifying techniques of the culture. Finally a ceremony lasting at least an hour is held with prayers, vows by the betrothed to one another, and the exchanging of tokens - rings, ribbons, or even matching glaives. The celebration following the wedding is just as lush, involving costume changes, ritualized dances and as grand a feast as the community can deliver.

2. The Holy Rose of Battle: this blessing generally occurs before tournaments, jousts or pugilistic matches though it has also been performed more solemnly before the outset of a military battle or campaign. The priestess/priest of Shelyn takes up a purely ceremonial glaive, one with a rosebud etched on either side of the blade. Songs invoking beauty and life are sung, followed by a leaping, twirling dance. During this dance the glaive and its wielder soar through the air; both are adorned with a rainbow of flowing clothes, ribbons, and other fetishes. Finally a blessing is issued to all participants, even the enemies of the faithful, that they may find the beauty that waits for them at battles' end

Desna

1. Ceremony of Foot Washing: the Desnan do not have many rituals as they are a people who revere the chaos and uncertainty of the next horizon. However they have performed this rite since the dawn of their faith and it is used not only to celebrate the end of a day's journey but the commencement of new ventures. The celebrant kneels before the one to receive the blessing, issuing prayers over a sacred vessels of scented oils, thin wine, and finally pure water. They issue the same prayers over a blue and white towel. The footwear of the traveler is ceremonially removed, the feet are bathed in first the wine, then the water, and then they are wiped clean and dried with the towel. Finally the celebrant massages the scented oil into the feet of the traveler to complete the rite

2. Hymns of the Final Journey: as with the Gozren, some adherents of the old faith of Desna have their own way of saying goodbye to their departed. The corpse of the fallen is placed on a pyre or perhaps a raft that will be set ablaze. This rite is always performed at night, preferably under the light of the moon and stars. Prayers of last rites are issued and a pair of gold coins (silver or copper, or even rare wood depending on the culture) are placed on the eyes of the deceased. The corpse is then dressed in a midnight blue shawl with white, star-like designs. Finally the stack upon which the corpse has been laid is lit and as the soul of the departed rises with the smoke, a hymn is delivered - preferred songs are The Road Goes Ever On or The Greatest Adventure, though others such as Stairway to Heaven may also be used depending on the celebrants involved

So that's just 2 rites per deity but hopefully that inspires you to consider others. Basically just look over the write-ups of the deities in the CRB, on the Pathfinder Wiki or in other sources. Check out not only their Domains and Areas of Concern, but also their Worshipers, Sacred Animals or even their Dogma.

For example, did you know that Torag has a badger as his Sacred Animal? I could imagine a Groundhog Day kind of ritual - a ceremonial badger has been released into an area and is allowed to burrow into the earth. Depending on how the little fella digs his hole, where he throws his dirt or if he turns and pokes his head back out, the omen can either be favorable or ill for the return of spring.


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You could do something with the Familiar or PC Class Archetypes:

"What do you mean, I'm just a FIGMENT of his/her imagination? I can think and feel; I'm as real as the next raven!"

"We formed a support group: Former Paladin Loved Ones Now Soulbound, or F-PLONS for short. We not only help each other through this difficult period of limbo between our mortal death and the time our souls can actually reach the afterlives we all became holy warriors to express faith in, but we also do outreach, counseling living paladins on the dangers of being the kin or loving partners of wizards"

These sort of go along with the "dismissal" in favor of Improved Familiars.


Any PC class character, created by an experienced optimizer. Wizards with high stats and the right spells can soak some damage and deliver a ridiculous amount with Touch attacks boosted by ongoing effects or wands wielded by their Familiars or Small sized constructs.

A Halfling nature oracle built for Dex and tanking can stand toe-to-toe at level 4 with a Bone Golem and not only survive but deal back 17 damage/round.

I witnessed a NG Male Dwarf Fighter 7 hit a 27 AC, pull together some spectacular saves for his class, and hold the front line against an adult white dragon whilst also delivering 48 damage on a full attack. I thought that was pretty impressive.

Of course I'm only commenting anecdotally. As far as the numbers of specific builds I'm assuming a Paladin or Warpriest with some kind of Swift action healing that keeps them up and fighting while also delivering heavy damage would be ideal.


blahpers wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:
I SO want to hijack this thread for ideas on how folks run organized religion in their games... but so far I'm resisting the urge.
There's always another thread!

Noted


Ok so it started with this thread. I want to know - if you use the Golarion gods, how do you run organized religion in your games? I'm sure there's other threads on this subject but right now my search-fu is failing me (point me in the right direction if this has been done before in earnest). For example I run a homebrew but use the CRB deities - there is a central church called the Holy Rukenvalyk Church and then there are small, regional or settlement-based churches dedicated to 1 or more of the cannon deities w/in the pantheon which includes Abadar, Desna, Erastil, Iomedae, Nethys, Pharasma, Sarenrae, and Shelyn. Other deities are more region-specific or pagan.

Also that begs my second point: do you have different versions of your deities representing pagan/heretic/fringe groups of the faithful and cannon?


Second the Harpynator - Hags were likely just ported in from other versions and didn't get much thought.

Suggestions: give them Alter Self 1/day (not much of a change to CR); give them levels of Sorcerer, more levels of Adept, or other such character boons; throw them a crazy-high Disguise ability.

@ the OP: what are you looking to do with them? I ask cuz I use hags a lot in my fairy-tale-inspired games.


I SO want to hijack this thread for ideas on how folks run organized religion in their games... but so far I'm resisting the urge.


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TOZ wrote:
oh hai fakey!

The mother-lovin T...O...Z! Just throwing on a cloak isn't enough of a disguise, I'd know that sardonic smile anywhere!


Other ways to convey villain interactions:

1. Hearsay: should the PCs capture an enemy minion, they could blather on about some meeting they attended wherein the BBEG chastised his second, telling their underling in no uncertain terms what the penalty for failing the master again would be...

2. Rumors and innuendo: when the heroes are gathering information you can insert snips of villain-centric scenes as tavern talk

3. 2-D illusions: in 1st Ed, cantrips were individual effects under a single spell called Cantrip. One of these effects was a simple, 2-D illusion you could project on a flat surface, kind of like a home movie. Imagine if the players happen across one of these with sound added, as left as a triggered effect by a minion who recorded his boss' "displeasure" with one of the middle-management types, just so the other minions could crow about it afterwards?

Now if you're not looking to display whole villainous interactions from the BBEG to an underling but rather just convey a bit of info to the players in the form of dialogue direct from the bad guys, look no further than comic books for your answer.

1. The villain's monologue: Dr Doom ranting about his evil plot as he gloats over the onrushing Fantastic Four

2. Enemy expletives: these are when the bad guys punctuate the fight scenes with snips of dialogue: "Ha... you are weak like the last batch of heroes who tried to defeat us! Their blood still paints the walls even as the paladin's sword hangs in the hall of the Dread Queen below..."

3. Minion banter: sometimes villains might narrate, strategize, or otherwise communicate with one another mid-battle. Some of this dialogue could easily deliver clues, motivations or other info from the bad guys' side of the curtain.

Finally... Haunts. This is a good mechanic for delivering a quick burst of info while at the same time giving the players something to interact with. However it doesn't always have to be ghostly, negative energy fueling the delivery system. Other sources might be

1. The Passion left behind by fey revels

2. Lingering Arcane energy from a coven's ritual

3. A unique variant of an Alchemical Ooze Swarm


Second what V to the B is saying. If this thread is about the cost of traps and making them as PCs; there I cannot help you. But if you think about using them as a GM, I'd strongly suggest using them in conjunction with other threats.

Consider a room with a CR 1/2 Acid Splash trap. It spits out a small gout of acid on someone who trips the Trigger; big deal. Now imagine that the ONLY way to go is through the Trigger, and that the only monsters in the room are a kind of Ooze that's immune: acid. Suddenly this trap becomes a serious nuisance.

Traps are good as ways to divide larger encounters. One toe-to-toe fight with four mites and a giant spider is a CR 3 fight and pretty challenging for your APL 1 party. The same fight as 2 mites and a shallow, easy to detect pit (call the pit a CR 1/2 and it deals only 1d6 damage) is merely a CR 1 fight but unless the PCs disable the trap, eventually it opens releasing a giant spider from behind. It works out to the same CR but splits it into 2 separate encounters.

Finally, think about WHY the trap is there in the first place. Most traps have the CHANCE to kill their prey outright, but also slow or immobilize their quarry making it easier for the hunter to finish off their kill.

Consider a kobold outpost with a Burning Hands trap. Now first off they'll have a way to avoid the device; a secret way around or over it, magic or genetics to ignore the fire damage, etc. Secondly, any good kobold adept or sorcerer knows that Burning Hands at level 1 just simply doesn't do enough damage to kill much more than a Tiny sized rat. One thing a flash of fire DOES do though is ignite things.

So... Burning Hands trap; within range are some fire crackers, wicks sticking out of the walls. Trap goes off, the wicks burn, and POP POP POP! Suddenly the kobolds know you're there and one round later they ambush you from inside the walls.


Dragonhunterq, I couldn't agree more. Crafting anything other than consumables is as much art as science. What I find most often though in my games (and this is anecdotal so not true of everyone) is that my players tend to craft items specific to numbers, bonuses.

They go through the hassle of getting Craft Magical Arms and Armor in the party somehow then obsess over squeezing out the most +'s for their money.

I feel like a lot of "special effects" or niche spells go unused but could make interesting and unique magic items. Take Call Animal for example.

The spell itself compels an Animal with a CR equal or less than your level to make it's way to you, sometimes from up to miles away. It can't be an animal under the handling of others. You have to select a specific type of creature you hope is close enough at the time of casting. Once the animal arrives it is Indifferent towards you but if maintained at that level or better it follows you around for the duration of the spell which is hours/level.

I have a guy in a campaign that is a Halfling warpriest (Divine Commander) 4/hunter 3. He has access to Call Animal and could cast this at CL3 to draw out, say, a Bristle Boar or something if he thought it lived nearby. But I've never used this spell in three levels of having access to it even though I want to command subordinates once in a while.

Instead, what if I bound the idea of this spell - calling a specific kind of animal to serve me, into an item? What would that look like?

I thought immediately of a hunting horn. The thing would send a clarion call to an animal I find prevalent in the region of the campaign. Hopefully one is nearby and answers the call. This opens up a whole list of other items I'd want, like something to make the animal trust me, items I can use to quickly buff the animal to a level where it'll survive in combat at this level and something to allow me to communicate with it.

Just from envisioning that one item I find myself daydreaming a whole array of gear working in concert to make my guy the "beastmaster" or something.

I find it more interesting using such less-used spells or special effects to design unique items than the standard +1 Flaming sword with a custom background.


1. Do you have them/make them in your game?
2. If yes, are they crafted by the PCs?
3. If yes again, do the players typically start with an idea that they try to fit spells/rules to, or spells/mechanics they try to fit an idea to?

I'm asking because our home game has hit an interesting event horizon. Our PCs are as follows: NG Halfling warpriest (archetype: Divine Commander) 4/hunter 3; changeling arcanist 7; 1/2 minotaur (homebrew) shaman 7; dwarf fighter 7. The arcanist chose a couple item creation feats, namely Scribe Scroll and Craft Wondrous Items.

I've got ideas for items, but they're pipe dreams; scenes I want to see happen because I have the gear to MAKE them happen. I have no idea if the rules exist to allow these things or if those rules are there, whether or not we're high enough level to make them a reality.

I just thought it'd be cool to open a discussion on unique, custom wondrous items.


I love history lessons and that's partly what I was looking for, which is why I went here instead of Rules. I was kind of hoping someone's search-fu was better than mine when it comes to the armies though and numbers specific to Pathfinder. I also checked UC under the Kingdom Building but didn't see it either.

One thing though that helped clarify nobles is a point that both DM Dubs and Questor hit on. So you start at the king, who owns everything. he doles out land and titles to his children, extended family, and trusted vassals. He does this not 'cuz he's awesome, but because then his kids and family hold most of the lands and keep the line of succession going, and then the trusted vassals hopefully continue toeing the family line and don't revolt.

I sort of understood this, but then I could never rationalize landless nobles or noble-on-noble skirmishing. Now I'm starting to understand.

The point these 2 astute posters make is that sometimes in real life nobles get a title without land simply to give them legal and social rights not normally afforded, like being able to have commoners duel for them or not being persecuted for loitering or something.

Landed nobles might fight among themselves for like honor or something, but most of their disputes could be settled by marriages, shady deals or money. Why would any noble ever fight to acquire land though, if said land was doled out by a higher noble?

Well perhaps the landless noble chafes against the foolish count who got his lofty position and lands from just being born, but the landless baron saved the king's niece and an entire town from siege through brilliant tactics and bloody battle.

So knowing the king is ruthless and will honor him if he can pull it off, the baron uses his title's legal advantage to hire a mercenary army from the town he saved. He then storms the count's keep, manages to siege it and takes out the count. The king, in like fashion, hands over the former count's lands. However legally the count's hereditary title COULD go to the baron, or it COULD pass to the count's infant son who the nursemaid managed to escape with (potential plot hook?)

The reason none of this ever made sense to me was... WHO CARES about legal and social rights in a medieval fantasy roleplaying game? I just figured nobles equaled land in some way because when playing an RPG I'm looking at a giant hex map of sparsely populated land plagued by slavering hordes of pure evil.

Oh sure, when world building I'd pay lip service to legal issues like noting which court would prosecute and hang a PC for murder or whatever. It never occurred to me that nobles would care more about such courts and their rights than, say, a goblin horde working for an evil witch that can raise and command the dead.

In my games I'm a fan of non-hereditary merchant barons; folks with lots of money that buy their way into nobility and a chip on their shoulder because they don't hold land and can't pass the title on to their kin. I always just said though that they already built up a big business, made tons of money, and THEN bought the title.

It never occurred to me that I might have it backwards. Perhaps they scraped together just enough gold to dump it all on a title, that then afforded them the rights to OWN a business instead of just working for someone else. Then they re-built their fortunes steadily and might even own other side businesses.

As for the military numbers, I'll have to just wing it. There's a 1-100 ratio I use for guards INSIDE settlements, so I suppose I could just as easily guesstimate using that ratio applied to the relative size of a political area. Then I'll just toy with the numbers, like Baron Von Irongate is a war-monger so even though there's 5000 people in his lands he actually has like 750 soldiers, but the Earl of Gloomynmere is very poor and his lands are plagued by fey, so even with 6000 population he only commands 450 soldiers.


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So I just popped into the Settlements thread on the General Discussion board and learned that the CRB has some solid numbers on guards per city. I'm wondering if anyone has similar numbers for things like how many nobles for a kingdom, how many soldiers per noble or kingdom, and a good way to divide up the political titles?

I never could get a handle on nobles in real life. So in feudal societies, you had nobles based on the right to own land, but how much land made you one kind of noble or another? Like why would someone be a baron instead of a knight, or a count?

As for military I ask that because I've got a couple players wanting to take Profession: Soldier in a new campaign and they want to dive into the minutia of how big the armies are and how they're divvied up throughout the kingdom. They want to be able to use the skill as they level up to work with said military and perhaps at mid or higher levels even call upon favors from the rank and file.


Seriously, no one I know is going to this thing.


Seriously, no one I know is going to this thing.


So I'm on the fence about going to this con. I have never been and I live 4 hours away in MN. Y'see I'm not one for cosplay, I like to read as much as the next guy but there's no one I need to get autographs from, I'm not a collector so there's nothing I'd be hunting for in the dealer room... that just leaves me looking for gaming.

I've poked around the website and I see tons of photos about the stuff I'm not really into. They don't have the games schedule up yet so I don't know what to expect. There's a couple of discussions I'd sign up for but I don't think I want to drive for four hours, get a hotel room, and then attend two talks and end up wandering around by myself for a weekend.

If any MN Pathfinders happen upon this thread and are planning on going chime in. Also if any PFS folks from years past have anecdotes on what goes on feel free to dish. I've just been burned on one con in my own town that didn't live up to my expectations; I don't want to spend money and time a state away for the same let down.


So I'm on the fence about going to this con. I have never been and I live 4 hours away in MN. I'm wondering if PFS is going to have a presence there? Y'see I'm not one for cosplay, I like to read as much as the next guy but there's no one I need to get autographs from, I'm not a collector so there's nothing I'd be hunting for in the dealer room... that just leaves me looking for gaming.

I've poked around the website and I see tons of photos about the stuff I'm not really into. They don't have the games schedule up yet so I don't know what to expect. There's a couple of discussions I'd sign up for but I don't think I want to drive for four hours, get a hotel room, and then attend two talks and end up wandering around by myself for a weekend.

If PFS is going to be there or if any MN Pathfinders happen upon this thread and are planning on going chime in. Also if any PFS folks from years past have anecdotes on what goes on feel free to dish.


One thing at early levels that stinks is that you have limited resources. Spending them on your familiar can be risky. One way I mitigated this with a wizard PC I made was to give her the Cypher Magic feat at first level. Then I gave the familiar the Familiar Focus feat. This meant that any harmless spell I cast on my familiar from a scroll, like say Mage Armor, received a +2 Caster Level boost.

Also if you're looking to up the combat power of your familiar there are a couple 1pt Evolutions you can pick up with Evolved Familiar that can enhance damage, grant longer reach or give your little buddy extra attacks. Imagine that battle goat with it's gore attack plus a pair of hoof attacks, a bite attack, enlarged to Medium size and having the gore raised to 1d8 damage dice. Slap some armor on that bad boy, load it up with mutagen and start mauling!


How about a compromise OUT of character? So there's a dispute, your character stalks off to go scout the next rift. Meanwhile...

You roll up a new character. Easy for you since you have such good system mastery. Said new character will be a new contact of the slayer's. It works like this:

Paladin: well, I did all I could, even trying to restrain our friend but the alchemist simply won't see our side on this.

Slayer: He has his reasons. Besides, I can't think about that right now. My man needs help now! If the alchemist can't help, maybe there's an old friend who might...

Paladin: What "old friend?" I thought all your guildmates were compromised?

Slayer: Well, this guy got out of the guild just before me. We had a... rivalry. We clashed a bit, things got heated and, well... let's just say, he could only sing soprano for a long time. Still, there was that one job on the riverbank he still owes me for so...

At this point you introduce your new character for the first session after the wagon incident, have a side adventure with that guy, and help save the boyfriend. Now you get to play, your "party" such that it is now stays together which helps the GM and if things go really well, you could pull the same stunt with your lone character in the north.

Your guy stalks off alone at the beginning of the second session, wanders for a bit, runs into an ambush. Two other adventurers appear out of nowhere and help you out. The three of you form a friendship in the crucible of battle and you decide to let them in on what you're doing. Now you head off to the rift.

Now, if your GM does it JUST right, on the THIRD session after the wagon-breaking fight there's first a cut back to the guys in the city. Your new character there, the slayer's old rival, has a tip about something bad going down in the north. His info implicates 2 new players, hiding in plain sight.

Cut back to your guy, moving on towards the rift. There's another fight and you and your new "teammates" really seem to be doing well. They begin to press for more info though. Like a lot more. They want to know details, they ask to see the mark if you've mentioned it, etc.

Now cut back again to the party back in the city. They need a way to catch up to you, and fast. They recognize you may be in danger and the 2 spies may be stalking you in the wilderness even now. The guildmaster you saved has a contact, a wizard powerful enough to locate you and put the party with you immediately.

You visit said wizard, he uses some scrying and he's struck with pain while spotting your friend. He's getting some terrible interference from powerful entities extremely close to your alchemist. He's got a rough area though and can teleport you close. He casts his spell and then the GM sets up a fight:

The GM takes control of the two companions traveling with the alchemist. He spontaneously gives them a couple extra "evil" powers that make them a challenge to your whole party combined. The paladin and the slayer come upon the scene as your alchemist is sleeping and his "companions" are using extreme stealth to root through his things or whatever.

The battle ensues, with your party banding together to fight these spies. In the aftermath you talk and realize that, although the boyfriend is safe, splitting apart like this put you all in jeopardy. You find a new birth of friendship and commitment to one another and since, now you're all together you can finish the adventure to the next rift as a team.

Plus, you've got at least 1 new NPC (the slayer's rival) that you feel a connection to in the game. If the GM wants, he could have the 2 adventurers who were spies simply be unknowing puppets or possessed or something and, after the battle they too become NPCs. The game grows out from your actions and decisions.


It might also be handy to give yourself some benchmarks to shoot for. I'm running a switch-hitter Halfling warpriest with a Halfling sling-staff. This means he wants to be competent from both range and melee.

My GM runs very generic, vanilla encounters. This means I can usually plan around the Monster Statistics by CR chart. I try and shoot for having a bonus to attack that, if I roll a 10 on my D20 I can still hit the average AC. If I hit, I want to be able to deal 1/4 of the average HP for a monster with a CR = to my current level.

Right now I'm level 4. This means I built my character around having a bonus to attack from melee and range of at least +7 to hit and I want to be able to deal approximately 10 damage per hit.

Now with my particular build I have an Animal Companion, a wolf Sacred Mount. I factor his attack into mine for my total damage in a round. I've built well enough that under optimal situations we both have at least a +7 or better attack bonus and my sling-staff deals 1d6 +2 (average 5.5 damage) in melee. My wolf on the other hand with his +7 bite attack delivers 1d6 +3 (average 6.5 damage) in melee.

This covers me for the benchmarks for a CR 4 monster. Hopefully this helps a little.


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Krensky wrote:

Let Me Google That For You is just about the epitome of passive aggressive forum douchbaggery KC, especially when the question was already answered.

I expected better from you.

I didn't. He's a kobold for goodness sake. I feel like if I'd clicked on anything my computer would've sprayed Choking Powder in my face.


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Backstories. R_Chance touches on them up thread. And character death too. Yes, some folks are of the opinion that old school = PC fatalities and a lack of backstory.

This is why I think "old school" is completely subjective.

I have roughly as many deaths in PF as I did back in AD&D when we were in HS. That is to say; not that many. Also I still remember the elaborate backgrounds my players used to make, like the half-elven prince of a fallen empire cursed to wander and losing all his skills reducing him to a level 1 druid/fighter/magic-user and others.

People always say "YMMV" and I wholeheartedly agree. Inevitably my experience is NEVER the same as my current buddies. I have one guy that produced a binder with 2 pocket folders from back in the day. One side was full of pre-rolled AD&D characters, the other side was stuffed with six different dead characters from ONE campaign. Said campaign only made it to sixth level.

REALLY? 1 dead guy per level? I fudged dice as my group's DM so PCs would live time and again because my players had put so much into crafting them. A couple of my campaigns got so high in level I had whole lineages of famed adventurers, from grandfather to grandson. Not because the characters died and the same stats were used for Bergen Frothmeyer the Second, but because the character would make to about 11th level, retire, and the player would want to keep playing in a reboot to level 1.

So yeah, my MMV. A lot.

I think "old school" just means however you played as a kid. Whatever thoughts, feelings, experiences and ideas you had back in the day when you first started. It's really nothing more than that to me. That makes the term entirely personal. One player's "old school" is another's "killer GM" or whatever.

And as for new players and kids being raised on MMO's: my kids at 11 and 13 were raised on video games. I'm not ashamed to say that they have logged more hours on some of the kinder, gentler online or PS3 RPGs than I have.

They also routinely come up with cool plans, engage in silly roleplay and generally are more cinematic than any other players I game with, with one exception. There's a group of thirty-somethings I play with who never played RPGs having only done board gaming and MMOs. I have played two sessions with them so far and am blown away by the weird, cool crap they try every game without any thought to HOW they will succeed at said crap.

So I don't think youth, saturation in video games or a generation has anything to do with how much folks do or don't do in the game or with their roleplaying. My suspicion is that it's about their newness to the game.

Players I game with seem to have more enthusiasm to assume a role and try crazy stuff with the less system mastery they have. They don't know HOW to, say, grab a vine, swing over a bog, and chop a bullywug's head off with their axe just as the foe comes shooting up out of the water in a Charge, but they know they want to so they just say that they do that and leave it to me to figure the how.

Other players though with extreme system mastery dictate a litany of skill checks, feats and powers they'll use to inevitably land at learning everything about, say, a witch's plan to infiltrate a village by slowly poisoning patrons of the feast hall with an addictive substance in the food. Said plans are meticulous, suggest possible DCs and are well reasoned. They also involve certain Gather Information scenes which the player handwaves with skill checks that their character has been specifically built to succeed at.

These are 2 different ways of playing. Neither is bad. Neither came from a kid raised on video games. Both are grown adults my age (forties); the bullywug-chopper has only RPG'd a few times and rarely in PF while the diplomancer has been at this for years and has a lot of 3.5 and PF experience.

I just want to play so both are welcome at my table. I picture both differently in my head, even though neither has ever given me a proper description of their character. The female barbarian with her axe, a half-orc; for some reason I picture her with red hair, wild eyes and a blood-smear on her smirking cheek dressed all in crazy hide armor. The other one is an elf wizard with a thrush; I picture him like some stuffy British TV interviewer from the 60's and 70's with pale hair and complexion, really well polished clothing and gear, and very properly de-briefing the folks he diplomacizes.

Whatever. TL/DR; my point is that all of this is subjective. Old school gamers; good versus bad roleplaying; how we enjoy our hobby. All of my experiences above are all anecdotal so of course YMMV and I expect, as R_Chance does that yours does vary. Wildly.


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quibblemuch wrote:
Feh. Kids today, with their music and their pants...

I know right? And their new-fangled desire to build to the numbers and kill everything in the dungeon.

...

Oh wait, that was my friends back in HS. And College. And after college. And right now.

Stinkin kids...


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:

Yeah, there's this idea that AD&D and related systems were more roleplaying-friendly. People are confusing imagination with story.

Imagination: Not to be confused with creativity (which has slightly more "new-school" connotations), imagination was heavily encouraged by older editions. Instead of tasks being outlined by your stats, you had to handle them "manually". Examples are diplomacy or trap disabling. The downside to an imagination-focused game is it tends to go against roleplaying the character you want to play (if I can't talk my way out of a fight, neither can my "silver-tongued" rogue). Imagination is a fun feature, though, and one of the key strengths of old-school games.

Story: Story is heavily encouraged by newer editions. It is easier to play the exact type of character you want, and thanks to lower mortality, it is easier to play out that character's arc without worrying about a fatality in the first encounter they're in. This also frees you up to make riskier choices and not play the most optimal build possible (though some degree of usefulness is necessary).

People who find that their groups don't roleplay as much under newer systems are likely just running into groups less interested in roleplaying.

I love everything you're saying here KC Barbeque. It also occurs to me that one of the things that always vexed me in older editions is that I was always a story-driven guy. I had lots of characters I wanted to see go to the end and lots of villains I wanted to develop in front of my players. My friends however were always more imaginative in that they just wanted to keep making up more and more stuff. Dirigibles with machine guns; plane-hopping rods; a magically awakened shark army.

None of their imagination ever seemed to go with my story. Since there was always more of them than there was of me, those were the games we played. Since imagination has a lot less rules and structure than story a lot of my games were just my players arguing with me about how their characters SHOULD have all this cool stuff.


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I read the Deathly Hollows, and I cried when Snape's fate was revealed, his life explained. I didn't cry because Rowling is an incredible author, though she is. I cried because I imagined Alan Rickman playing Snape.

Then I saw the movie. I am not ashamed to say I let the tears flow again even though my kids were sitting right there with me. He was THAT good.

The first time I ever saw Mr Rickman on screen was when my brother rented Die Hard. "Hey, it's got that guy from Moonlighting and Blind Date in it!" Then Hans Gruber appeared on screen. We were fans of quoting lines but the only ones we ever used from Die Hard were from the villain.

Next I watched Robin Hood. EVERY one of my friends made fun of me. Despite their cajoling, I saw it TWICE in the theater.

I didn't see Alan Rickman again until Dogma. One of my favorite scenes in ANY biblical film is Rickman talking about telling Jesus he's the son of god. "...I had to tell this little boy that he was God's only son and that it meant a life of persecution and crucifixion at the hands of the very people he came to enlighten and redeem. He begged me to 'take it all back'... and if I'd had the power I would have."

My eyes are misty just typing this.

So F U cancer! I know it's stupid, and childish, but I'm saying it anyway. You took my 20 year old brother, three of my grandparents, 2 of my aunts, crippled my uncle, stole a brother-in-law and have claimed or damaged a dozen other people in my life.

I F-ing HATE cancer. I'm so sick and tired of this stupid disease. I give to foundations every year, run 5ks, and talk with folks about the disease so I feel like I'm doing what I can. I'M DOING MY PART UNIVERSE! Time for you to start picking up the slack!

... I'm sorry, this just sucks.

Alan Rickman was a great actor. He could make even a role like Metatron in a silly, comic book version of religion, grab your attention. I bet he was an amazing human being to know in real life. I hope he is at peace, and in a place where he is loved for all time.


It never really gets that creative in my games. Currently I'm playing a Halfling warpriest with Profession: Tanner. He's mainly using his skills to keep the party in hides, furs and leather straps for their winter gear and snowshoes.

The few players that take these skills seriously pick stuff that serves their character in some in-game capacity. I've had folks who craft weapons, armor and books; a lot of Profession: Hunter or Trapper so they could sub it for Survival, and a monk/bard with Performance: Dance because she was a Dervish Dancer.

The most interesting one was a guy that took Profession: Cartographer. He was supposed to be making maps of the megadungoen at the center of the campaign. I reminded him 3 times though, then stopped and he never actually made any maps (either the character OR the player). In the end the game died.

I think it comes from my players being very focused on the adventure without any desire for downtime. Personally I love me some downtime sessions. Unfortunately my fellow gamers find this boring so mostly we just finish one adventure and either plow right into the next one or handwave purchasing some minor gear before moving on.


50. The entire dungeon is a real place twisted into a dying child's nightmare

51. The "dungeon" is a ruined city completely consumed by flora

52. A dungeon where each room is a famous painting the PCs must resolve some conflict for

53. A series of pocket dimensions based on popular video games

54. Hundreds of magnetized plates floating in an ionized field with random polarity

55. A dungeon controlled entirely by different songs; players are invited to sing in order to influence secret doors, traps etc.

I actually ran #53 when I was a little kid, based on Intellevision games popular at the time. There was a Tron section where PCs could drive light cycles and floating tanks and even collect a laser disc as a weapon; there was a racing section; there was even a place where you could get a rebel's machine gun from the game Utopia.

Nowadays it would probably be even cooler!


I didn't think I'd get choked up. I didn't know him personally and only listened to his stuff up through the 80's. But then my wife told me this morning and I remembered Changes.

David Bowie did a best of with live and studio recordings. I had a terrible year when I was 17. One of the things that got me through was listening to this album, over and over. Not that the lyrics were super profound or anything, but just the tone, the sound, the everything of Mr Bowie's music was so poppy, but mournful and beautiful all at once.

I sat down and cried a little this morning.

I hope wherever he is, David Bowie is as wonderful, as amazing as he was here. Yes, he was my goblin king. He was my thin white duke, he was the voice in my mind for many years.

Time may change me, but I can't change time.

It reminded me that I will continue to evolve forever, but forever will always be there for me. It's comforting, remembering you have at least one constant. Along the same lines my brother, who I lost at 17 and was a huge Bowie fan, used to always say:

They can never take away your birthday

I miss my brother. I miss David Bowie. Go listen to one of his albums, watch one of his movies, and be the Starman of your own life.

Flights of angels Mr Bowie; flights of angels...


29. Rocksteady Vault
Just off the market area Halgrev Rocksteady, a dwarven priest of Abadar, maintains a brutally fortified keep. She holds it not for personal glory or even in devotion to her patron, but primarily for the sake of her clients. 7 deep earth chambers, accessible only through the dwarves who ward the keep, are used to safeguard some of the most precious valuables outside the private nobility. The common hall is also a place of money exchange where loans can be obtained. It is frequented by travelers, adventurers and well-heeled merchants.


Cyrad and Myotin: so in some of your situations, what do you feel kept your players from just launching into combat? Or for that matter using magic to just leave?

If I'd given my players a "framed for murder" rap, they would've immediately checked for exits or else tried to fight their way out. My point is: you have to know your audience.

Otherwhere: I've been interested in running a "rescue from the burning building" scenario myself. Can you talk about how it went?

If you want to run non-combat encounters of a non-social nature you have to somehow involve the whole party. This is always the tricky thing for me. I mean combat is easy: there's a very identifiable goal (defeat the enemy) and everyone has SOME kind of combat action they can perform to add to the success of the group.

What do you do when you have an "escape from a prison" scene and you have three characters who are uber-specialized in Perception, Knowledge skills and Climb and then one guy has some hidden lockpicks, Disable Device, Stealth, etc?

Now I'm not saying it's impossible, you just have to be willing to coax and communicate with your players. You also have to be receptive to what they're trying to accomplish. I've stretched and even broken the rules on Aid Another to turn set piece traps and obstacles into whole-party events.

Instead of just having the rogue pick the lock and disable the door trap players have used Perception to help the rogue listen to/feel tumblers move in the lock for a +2; use Knowledge skills to ID the maker of the trap and explain common techniques and engineering flaws for a +2; Survival to check for tracks or movement patters through the area for a +2.

Since that isn't normal I had to tell my players I'd allow them to try anything and then give them examples. Unfortunately I've had to change out players several times so I don't have many folks who play with me that know me really well. They're also very rules-heavy. Still, its worth putting it out there for the one or two times people really get into it.

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