Mark Hoover 330's page

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Drejk wrote:
Fantasy Monster: Chemix Gremlin, infester of hospitals and laboratories.

Quick rules question: does the Mix Reagents effect obscure the tampering? In other words, if a group of 4 level 3 PCs were to find a Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds in a fey treasure cache that was, in fact, sabotaged by a Chemix Gremlin, would the Investigator of the group, identifying it with Craft: Alchemy instead of any spells, be able to tell the potion was altered?

I suppose I could just use a Bluff check from the Gremlin opposed by the Craft: Alchemy check of the PC, right?

My girls asked to have a sleepover with some friends last night. I agreed, despite quarantine, since I know the kids and their families. My one request was that they don't get too crazy.

Now my home office is in the master bedroom, so I haven't been downstairs since a little after 10 last night when I headed up to bed. When I got down to the kitchen just now to make my morning coffee it looks like a bomb went off.

They apparently decided to make some chicken and cheese dip, in the crock pot, with buffalo sauce in it? How do I know? The crock pot is half full with some yellowy, chickeny crud stuff; half a raw chicken breast is sitting in the Styrofoam on the counter; the buffalo sauce has sat out all night long. This is not to mention the dishes piled in the sink, the half bag of chips laying open, the obvious soda spill that has turned into a sticky mess, and so on.

I spent an hour and a half cleaning the kitchen, breakfast nook and dining room yesterday. Most of that has been completely undone. In one night. It's only 9:10 am where I am, and I've already cycled through stressed, annoyed, disappointed, enraged, and now I'm down to exhausted.

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This weekend I played the board game Nemesis with a buddy on Saturday night, then yesterday I tried to figure out how to network a PS4 Minecraft game with friends between house chores.

Don't get me started on voting and things that piss me off. I don't want the thread to get shut down. Suffice it to say, voter suppression is real.

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I'm mostly in Derklord's camp. So long as you've got lots of points of mechanical choice for your character, you've got lots of opportunities to mold the character into a more unique PC. Unlike Derk De Monet however, I think a character's RP and specialness can be further defined by feat choices, skills purchased, Traits, and just answering basic questions.

PCs, even with a 15 point buy, are already exceptional to most normal people in the game world, at least at level 1. With stats like that, why did they decide to become an adventurer instead of remaining as an NPC? A level 1 Fighter with a 15 point buy where she ends up with 16 Str, 14 Dex, 14 Con, 10 Int, Wis, and Cha with 1 point in Acrobatics is now capable of exceptional skills setting the Fighter above most common performers in their tiny village. Why then would that person with those stats choose a life of wielding weapons in dark dungeons instead of a cushy life as a professional acrobat?

Long term, characters with few mechanical choices can be boring to play. All the RP and personality quirks in the world can't make a vanilla rogue fun to play at level 9. The classes already ID'd above could do with some more interesting choices which, I suppose is why there's tons of Archetypes out there.

Here's my thing though, and I can't stress it enough: take some non-optimal choices once in a while. Even on your "boring" characters. I'm not saying taking absolutely garbage choices, like a Trait that gives you +4 Diplomacy on checks made with creatures that already have a Friendly or Helpful attitude toward your family, unless you're playing a REALLY specific game.

But stuff like One Eye Open for a Witch with a Familiar. Said Familiar gives you Alertness and you happened to take a Wis of 13. Now, when you sleep, the DCs of any Perception check you have to make don't go up. This is weird, sub-optimal, possibly even build-ruining, but so what? Your character has some weird quirk where they always sleep super light. Maybe they're paranoid; maybe they were raised by thieves. The fact is that YOUR witch is that much different from everyone else's.

Will you still, with base Witch abilities and spells, contribute at the baselines for all combat encounters? Yes. Can you likely still defend yourself to the appropriate baselines, based on average mechanics by CR for monsters appropriate to your level? Most likely. In the end that one feat probably didn't render your entire character moot and at the same time gave them a mechanical benefit for some weird RP quirk.

By level 10 your character needs to survive attacks that either target their AC with a +18 to hit and deal 45 damage or Save against enemy effects hovering around a DC 19 average. You also need to be able to hit an average AC of 24 to contribute 32.5 damage or deliver effects able to overcome a high enemy save of about +13

If you can hit those benchmarks without spending every single one of your feats and character choices, then really consider picking up one of those weird, quirky feats or traits or whatever. You don't always have to be the most powerful, most damaging, or greatest DC spellcaster/adventurer in the galaxy to be successful in this game.

Now, if your GM ignores the monster creation baselines and requires you to hit an average AC of 30 at level 10, that's another matter...

Yeah, no it is a good idea, as long as you're working WITH the players.

I'm not saying cart blanch and if it came across that way I'm sorry. What I was getting at was that the players should conceptualize their own gear. Do I think permanent 1d8 +1 healing for everyone all the time is a good idea? No. Would I just tell my player "no" and move on? No.

You want a rock that permanently heals people, based on CLW? Fine... you put the spell on the rock, permanize it, and now their natural healing rate doubles. Or they can only receive the benefit of it once in a day. Or using the rock disintegrates it, so it's more like one of the Dusts or Pigments that you can make with Craft Wondrous Item. There's an Ioun stone with False Life on it; it doesn't just cast the spell on you whenever you want, it gives you a flat 5 temp hp and stacks with other sources. Maybe your CLW rock floats around your head, is crafted from a gem instead, and it gives you +5 on the Heal check for curing HP damage or something. Heck, there's gloves of First Aid that cost 2250 GP for 10 sapphires' worth of Cure spells or Breath of Life. Just because a player CAN find a way to make something cheaper and more game breaking, that doesn't mean as a GM I'm obligated to do so.

As for that player's talismans... so what? You could make them craft a "talisman" version of any number of low-level buffs that already exist as one-use items in Wondrous Items as Elixirs, Unguents, Pigments, War Paints, Dusts and so on. If the player INSISTS on making the potion version, that casts the literal spell on the user, either charge them more money to craft it or tell them they have to make a potion. Period. You don't have to give the players everything they want.

At the same time though, just saying "no, this is bad" and leaving it there is a tad reductive Mei-tastic.

I've had positive experiences doing this sort of thing with players. I've had an archer start out wanting Gauntlets of True Strike that just cast True Strike on him all the time. Its a level 1 spell, gives them +20 on their next attack, and as a permanent item he was like "it's only 1800 GP". I didn't just GIVE them to him, but we found a compromise.

First off I asked why he wanted them. The player just wanted to auto-hit from long range all the time. I was like "ok, what if they just gave you either 1 big bonus or several incremental bonuses per range increment, just on a permanent basis." We eventually settled on gauntlets that let him get +2 to hit with a bow (that's the bonus he could afford). Since he used True Strike though I included, at no added cost, the ability to 3/day fire a single arrow with +20.

Now, did he go on to take levels in Arcane Archer, exploit the +20 arrows and deal massive spell damage from insane ranges? Certainly, but then I planned encounters around this ability. He had fun, had special gauntlets unique to him, and I learned how to build encounters a bit better.

So, since I had a POSITIVE experience with it, does that prove this is a good idea? Yes and no; your table may vary. Suffice it to say that it CAN yield positive results. You had a bad experience doing this with your players, and I've had that happen as well; those don't invalidate the opportunity this solution presents, only illustrates the different results you might get.

Again, I'm sorry if you took my post to mean that players just get to do whatever they want, all the time. But know also that my philosophy, as the GM, is that I don't get to do whatever I want all the time either, at least when it comes to player decisions and PC actions. The game for me is a collaboration between GM and player and crafting unique items should be too, in my opinion.

Healing, or the recovery of HP, won't be an issue for this group regardless of your jump to Warpriest. Sorcerer already has some healing or temporary HP options on their spell list and will eventually be an Evangelist. Paladin, Bard and Ranger all have Cure spells of some kind on their spell lists. Being that this is Kingmaker, make sure someone in the party takes a consumable crafting feat and spend Downtime while exploring crafting wands, scrolls or potions of one form of healing or another. It's not sexy but it solves a problem.

Condition mitigation and recovery from ability damage can be a challenge. The Evangelist will get some of this. Again, make sure you budget a Feat and plenty of resources/time to crafting consumables, then make sure at least 2 people have and can use said consumables. If you're going Warpriest you qualify as the backup to the evangelist, or vice-versa.

Key takeaways and questions to answer for your background would be

1. why are you an adventurer, instead of an NPC? What was your call to adventure?

2. why did you pick the class/archetype you chose for your level 1 selections?

3. what inspired you to plan on jumping from Swashbuckler to Warpriest?

4. Mortian doesn't have super great Str or Con; why did he choose such aggressive, melee-focused classes?

5. what happened to mom? How did having zero family affect Mortian growing up?

6. where did Mortian learn Knowledge: Nobility, and why did he choose Dwarven and Elven as his extra languages?

7. what would Mortian be doing if he WASN'T an adventurer?

8. did Mortian earn every dueling skill he has from personal experience, or did he have a mentor/trainer/teacher?

9. why Arsenal Champion, other than mechanical advantage to the character build? In other words, why does Mortian focus so much on a militant lifestyle in the name of his faith?

10. what, exactly, does Mortian believe in? What are his values, beliefs and what does he hold dear?

11 sure, he's sickly-looking; does this quirk show up in RP? Does Mortian have any other affectations that aren't purely based on his blue-born nature?

12. how in-depth do you want to get into the church/worship of Pharasma?

On that last point... here's the wiki for Pharasma. She's true neutral, favors whippoorwills, daggers, the colors blue and white, and black roses are often associated with the goddess. Her servants are the Psychopomps; masked outsiders that act as the administrators of the dead in the Boneyard. Lastly, she's worshipped by midwives, grave-diggers, morticians, and pregnant women.

How does Mortian fit into all of this?

I mean, he WAS raised as a ward of the church. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say a boy child, raised in a neutral faith of life, death, rebirth and fate likely wasn't trained from day one as a zealot assassin. Maybe he was meant to be a professional mourner (some kind of performer, based on his mental stats) so he served the priestesses, learned all of the dirges and prayers, and practiced the rites, but at some point (since he has no Performance skills) he diverged from the career path the church had for him.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps he was always meant to be forged into a holy weapon by the more militant aspects of the church. If that's the case though, why was he allowed to indulge in his Rostland Bravo training on the streets of Restov? I mean, the goddess' alignment is true Neutral, so maybe they just didn't care, but then if they have "plans" for Mortian as you suggest it seems like someone, somewhere in the church of Pharasma DOES care.

Finally, how much does Mortian know/care about the circumstances of his birth? You state that this PC is for a Kingmaker game, so its likely that these details won't play into the campaign. However, there are ways you could shoehorn it into the game. If you work with the GM and you really want to go this far, you could tie your character's unique birth story into the larger plots of the campaign. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry too much about this.

Y'know, that's something to consider while making this background. If Mortian is going to be exploring hexes and building parts of his own kingdom, how deep do you want to go with this background? Also, how would THIS character end up on a wilderness frontier?

Like, he's a sword duelist specific to Restov, with an intention of becoming an arsenal champion. In the meantime you're knowledgeable of nobles, with good skills around sensing people's motivations and tricking or scaring them. In other words, you're a people-focused character right now.

And you're heading into the wilds to explore miles from civilization.

So why would Mortian take this gig? Does he intend on building up survival skills later on? Does he want his own kingdom? Is he Running from someone/something, or chasing after someone/something? Is this initially an edict of his faith? Or maybe he's been shunned for his reckless dueling ways and he's out here doing penance?

Of course, this is all just my own commentary and you should feel free to ignore/rewrite any of it. Hopefully the game goes well!

Y'know, another way to handle handing out giving out cool/useful loot, specifically weapons, is to just tell your gear specialists about them. Like, how hard is it to design a side quest for your glaive focused fighter, or thunder-and-fang barbarian or whatever, where the gear they covet was once worn by this famous person and then they were buried with it, now monsters have moved in and they can have the gear if they defeat the monsters?

Last, but certainly not least... encourage character development and Downtime. Promise to hand out a free Master Craftsperson (I know, the feat is called Master Craftsman but that feels reductive) feat to any PC willing to put 5 ranks into an appropriate Craft feat and make some really impressive masterwork item (say, DC 20 with no Aid Another or Take 10). Work it into the story, give appropriate Downtime days/weeks/months, and then 2 levels later hand them another bonus crafting feat (either Craft Magic Arms and Armor, or Craft Wondrous Item) and just let the players make all their own unique, specialty gear.

Who cares then if you give out +1 Verminbane maces or whatever. The PCs will just take them, sell them, then go make their own stuff.

Even better, if you want truly one-of-a-kind items, suggest to your players they use formulae that they make up. Like, what if you have a PC take 5 ranks in Profession: Tanner, makes a unique masterwork winter blanket from some rare hide, then picks up Craft Wondrous? Maybe they throw the Cleric spell Ice Armor on it so when they wrap the blanket around themselves they get a +2 Armor bonus, or if they lay out the blanket over water it goes rigid and becomes buoyant so they can use it like a raft?

I don't know, it just seems like we GMs drive ourselves crazy trying to either please our players or alternatively keep verisimilitude in our games, when really if the players handle their own fun it could potentially kill both Blood Hawks with one Magic Stone.

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*insert obligatory "shut up and take my money" meme here* Yes, I would buy more stuff from Paizo for PF 1e. Mostly AP's and stand alone adventures.

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So am I the only one that uses YouTube for training videos? I've learned GM'ing tips, 5e D&D guides, lots of cooking modules, how to fix issues with my furnace, and still other stuff on the site.

And then also, putting on atmospheric music to run for hours while I make game stuff can be pretty handy.

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NH, have you been scaring the neighbors?

Yes, of course; thanks for the correction Mei-queen.

Otherwise, I think we've done a pretty good job illustrating the Rooms and Teams from the Downtime rules.

Rooms and Teams wrote:
For a room, the Earnings amount already subtracts the cost of having unskilled employees to do the basic work for you. For example, the Earnings listed for having a Bar already account for the wages of a bartender and servers. For a team, the Earnings amount assumes they are working at a building you own. If you don’t provide a building for the team to work in or from, halve the Earnings for that team.

So a Building is made up of Rooms. You build your own Building piecemeal or buy it outright, or whatever. If your PC doesn't have an actual Building, just a pit in the ground they control, it's assumed that there's unskilled laborers working at it but you get half the GP it earns every day.

A pit gets GP +1, or it adds 1 to a skilled check to earn GP. It's assumed that you take 10 most of the time, so let's say that your pit with no building earns you 1.1 GP/day. You end up getting 5 SP, 5 CP/day for just having a Pit room.

What is the pit?

Sure, we can go silly and say people just randomly dump loose change in it or whatever. More seriously though, the Room is a simulation of any 1-5 square pit area that could possibly earn coin.

Might be a lye pit, if you're an alchemist. Yeah, it could be a shallow garbage pit; it might also be for sporting events, cooking charcoal, making gravel, stomping grapes, a soaking pit for pulping wood for paper, and so on.

Bear in mind, building a Pit room is more than just digging a hole in the ground. The Room's construction lists 1 Goods and 1 Labor to create it, and 2 days' time. The smallest Pit Room however is 5' radius, to a depth of 5' deep with "steep sides." While the fluff of the room suggests it's only a dump, please see above for other examples besides mass grave or communal latrine that this pit could represent.

My point is, if a common shovel costs, at most, 2 GP and the 1 Labor and 1 Goods to create the Pit have an earned cost of 20 GP or you can buy them outright for 40 GP, this "Room" isn't just a hole in the ground the PC takes a couple days to knock out on their own.

Finally, since it's assumed that there's unskilled laborers working any proper Room that a PC pays for using the Downtime rules, this Pit is manned by some kind of crew which ensures some kind of money gets into the PC's hands for having it. The workers would depend on the purpose of the pit.

Also... I mention that Rooms are an abstraction or simulation for a reason. You don't have to go with the fluff dictated in the entry for the room, only the mechanics of it are fixed. Let's look at the Room called Statue.

This is a large, showy decoration meant to attract attention to the Business or Organization. Y'know what that sounds like to me? A sign. Sure, any rank business likely has some kind of simple sign hanging on it but if you want your tavern to stand out maybe you spend 30 GP to earn 1 Labor and 2 Goods, then spend those resources on a big, gaudy placard hanging out front. It's got a permanent Prestidigitation of a bawdy barmaid carrying 6 frothing tankards that glows faintly; the edges are gilt in copper; the design features ornate scrollwork around the frame.

That humble "Statue" ensures that your business brings in +1 GP or +1 Influence. Since it also guarantees unskilled labor, the mere fact that you've purchased it means you've got some street caller trying to hawk patrons into your bar.

Of course, all this ostentatiousness isn't without risk. The Downtime system also subjects your Business/Organization to weekly "events" that might break good or bad for you, depending on how well you roll, but that's probably a discussion for another time.

TL/DR (as usual): the main point of my rambling is just to think of the Room(s) or Team(s) your character has as some kind of extension of what they want to be known for. Moreover, Rooms can have other functions besides the fluff given.

My final example... the Office. It doesn't ever add any bonuses, but look at what it comes from. It can be built on its own, or it can be an upgrade from a Shack.

A Shack is a 10'x10' room that is basically some kind of bare-bones living space for 1-2 people. Upgrading this to an office essentially makes the place a tad more sturdy and puts a lock on the door. Sure, the fluff suggests this is where you or the manager does the books, but think: it upgrades from a room you could live in.

Need a bedroom for your character inside the building of your Business, but don't want to pay for the Bedroom room? Build an Office instead. This is now a 10'x15' room with a locking door containing a desk, chair, and a cot to sleep on (left behind from when it was a Shack Room).

Or, y'know... houserule power crystals.

Every Masterwork anything is made "masterwork" by the inclusion of a housing that can be fitted with a magic power crystal. Said crystals can be mined in their raw state, at which point the power in them lays dormant.

A magic crystal, in the hands of a crafter with the correct crafting feat can be "awakened" to be a weapon crystal, armor crystal, wondrous item crystal, and so on. Once so awakened, they are then empowered by the crafter with the correct spells; the process consumes other materials as well. In the end, the crafter inserts the empowered, awakened power crystal into the device it was intended for.

So... a crafter makes a crystal to give a battle axe +1 attack and damage. Then 100 years later the kukri guy in the party finds the battle axe and goes - hey cool! I can use that power crystal on one of my knives!

Take the axe back to town, get a mage to transfer the crystal for a nominal fee, and wham! you have a +1 kukri totally within the setting. You've also got an axe that's still worth like, 365 GP or something that you could pawn for half.

5e changes character building and focuses more on in game play. Said play revolves around narration, interaction between players and DM, and while there is a lot of crunch, the central mechanic is stat + bonuses +d20, or the player declaring an action that requires a foe to make a similar roll to survive said action.

I don't think I'm trying to force 5e to play like PF 1e; my brain was making the comparisons between the 2 b/c PF 1e has been my default game for a decade now. I recognize the differences between the 2 systems.

I enjoy character builds. I enjoy builds in general. I'm usually the GM in my PF games, and part of the fun for me is building foes. A particular pastime for me is reskinning monsters. Thing is, while I agree that character building in PF is a stumbling block for new player entry, I disagree that the effort of building your character is lonely fun away from the table.

I've hosted session 0 sessions where a couple players have discussed and played off one another for their initial builds. I've also sat in on email chains between players, going over how one might take one feat and another a supporting feat, or Teamwork feats, or how the party is going to quest for a certain armor for the barbarian, and so on.

It CAN be lonely fun, or it CAN be a group activity. Either way, it is fun for some, not fun for others.

In 5e the subjectiveness of character success depending on hurdles laid out by the DM is more pronounced. While PF has this too, there are RAW expectations baked into the skills, equipment, and other sections in the Core book that lay out baselines for players to measure their expectations against. While minor, and still modifiable by the GM's discretion, these baselines and the setting of player expectation could, for some players like myself, offer a baseline: if my GM and I follow the rules, by "x" level I should be able to smash through walls like they're paper, based on hardness and HP of a standard wall.

So... I agree with Stevie G upthread. 5e is a system that encourages DM's to be MORE prepped, not less. Walking into a dungeon room, the DM has to know the details PCs might find in that room with their skills, have some kind of idea how hard those details are to detect, know what details character skills might discern from other rooms/areas adjoining this one with the difficulty of those as well, what monsters or hazards exist here or nearby, the stats for those hazards, the rewards, if any, for overcoming those threats, and all of the other crunchy bits that go into running a dungeon room in a 5e game.

It doesn't stop there though.

As the sole arbiter of the rules, the DM has to be prepared to share these details with the players. They have to know and understand how mechanics like Passive Perception work and be ready to act accordingly, or else be ready to provide reasonable explanation why such mechanics aren't being utilized.

The DM has to know the level of handwaving or mechanical reliance they're comfortable with. They have to be ready to be barraged with questions from players hungry to digest the scene. The DMs of a 5e game have to be prepared to set and maintain player expectations as far as success or failure of the characters' actions go.

To run a 5e game the DM has to be mentally and emotionally prepared, as well as physically ready with graph paper, rectangles, stats and rewards.

I've gotten kind of lazy as a GM in PF 1e. Oh, I still narrate the scene when my players first enter and I usually give myself an outline-style write up of important details I review pre-game, but once it comes to interacting with a scene I'm kind of on autopilot. My players are all vets of PF as well as RPGs in general so they announce their actions while grabbing their dice and I just casually recline in my role as narrator and threat-runner.

In my few experiences in 5e, my DM has the added layer that he's telling me what actions to take, after I announce what actions my character is taking. In other words, while 99 percent of the time my stated action would result in a certain dice roll, with a specific mechanic to it, to resolve the action, that isn't a foregone conclusion. Every action I declare for my PC, at least outside of combat, is a potential corner case for my DM to weigh in on.

So... that removes a lot of the feeling of consistency I have as a player. In PF 1e I know that walking into a room and looking around, searching the shelves and such is a Perception check. What's more, I know that a Perception check adds certain bonuses from set locations and requires at least a Move action, if not more time, to accomplish.

When I walk into a room in a scene, knowing all that as a player, I KNOW that I can state that I walk into the room, declaring my PC's action, and roll the die, then look to my GM for the result.

In 5e, while I THINK that the same declared PC action SHOULD result in a consistent mechanic involving a Perception check to resolve that action, that's not up to me, its up to the DM. They can decide whatever they want to resolve my PCs' actions so all I'm in control of is narrating what my character wants to do, not how it's done. While I might expect that my DM would use the predictable mechanic, I have no leg to stand on if the DM decides differently.

Its subtle, and play will most certainly vary from DM to DM, but that is the biggest difference I've noticed between the systems, outside obvious crunch. In PF certain consistencies are baked into the RAW and players are in control of resolving HOW their PCs accomplish some tasks, even if they have no control whatsoever over how successful they might be. In 5e the "how" is determined by the DM.

This, to me, means more work for the DM. The DM has to do more in 5e than in PF. The DM I have for the recent games I've been involved in suggested he wanted LESS work.

Regardless of anything I've suggested, that DM refuses to let me run a PF game for him, nor does he see ANY virtue in Pathfinder as a system. Bare in mind: he's never played a single session of the system, simply paged through the Core book and made his decision from that review.

Personally, I like being a player in any system where I determine the "how" of what my character does. I like saying "I'm gonna use my..." and insert whatever skill, character ability, spell, power, or whatever, completing the sentence as a declaration, not a question. It gives me a feeling of control. I don't have control over anything else in the game world, but I have total control over the actions my character takes, how they're built, and so on.

Now, maybe what I'm describing isn't a function of the system but of playstyle. Maybe there are 5e groups where players announce "I'll use Perception to scan the room. I got..." rolls dice, adds Wis plus Proficiency and other static, pre-determined bonuses, "a 21. What do I see?" but this has not been my experience, nor does this seem like the norm based on anecdotal evidence I've gathered here and on other forums.

Whatever. As I've said, 5e is a good game and I don't think I'm closing the book on it forever. I think I just need to get a better DM.

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Weak of limb = Str 9, meaning he has a -1 Str penalty. Sickly = Con 10. Only, Con 10 is as healthy as the average human so I don't know that you'd be able to claim him weak, frail or sickly. Whatever though; those are subjective details so play them up as much as you want.

The part I really like is that he's a swashbuckler that's planning to go warpriest. He was raised by the church... the church of Pharasma. Think about that for a second. The dogma of the church is that their deity is true neutral and impassionate, waiting with foreknowledge (fate and prophecy) of inevitable happenings, only to sort the dead into their final resting places.

I can't imagine a lot of bouncing, upstart "bravos" that learn as much street flair as technique with their Aldori style. Also think about that; this guy, described as "sickly" and "weak" took up melee dueling in the form of light armor while eschewing the buckler, the only kind of shield duelists typically learn to wield.

Yet, we're already establishing that Mortia has a burning desire to be even more warlike, more aggressive, specifically in the name of his faith. What might inspire such reckless, almost unhinged passion?

pre Remlin:
"I should've died" Sister Temperance looked down at her wayward charge, laid out on the table before her. The lad had yet another set of fresh wounds, a scarlet tally of every imagined sin the boy tortured himself with. As always, the matronly nun did nothing more than listen, and sew.

"If she had lived, my mother would've gotten out of this... filth. She wouldn't be squabbling in the gutter, begging for scraps at a convent table. She wouldn't be made to suffer. She deserved better than her death... than me... RGGH! Hey, watch it Sister Temp... NNNGH!"

The sickly lad, Mortia, so named by the Order of the Weeping Lady who had taken him in of the streets of Restov all those years ago, grimaced and swooned at the searing pain Temperance deliberately inflicted as she dragged the catgut between errant flesh. "Oh, I'm sorry boy, have I hurt you? Good! Serves you right for all the self pity you wallow in."

Sister Temperance had watched over Mortia since he was an infant. She'd tended every bump and bruise; tried to console every nightmare and calm every fear the boy had endured over these many years. Yet tonight, with another patchwork to add to the quilt of his self-loathing, Temperance could not sit idly by and endure another moment of his lip.

So boo-hoo, your mother, Lady rest her, died giving you life. So your arms aren't as strong as the other boys. So you... what did you say... "beg for scraps?" Mortia, you have a roof over your head; MANY, in fact, as all orthodox orders of the church hold to the vow of refuge for any of our servants. You've a family who loves you; what strength you do have is coupled with a near unearthly skill that dancers and thieves would deal with devils to have. But more than that is your passion, your will."

The middle-aged woman allowed her veil to drop then. The veil of her order; the stoic façade of indifference all sisters of the order must adopt to care for the sick and dying as they do. For the first time in many years, Mortia gazed upon the real Temperance, the mortal woman who existed behind duty and vows and devotion. There was a sorrow in her eyes, care worn with a hint of... regret.

"You've so many gifts Mortia, but you squander them in petty duels day and night, and for what? To prove to your bullies you are no coward? To prove to yourself you are worth the precious life she gave you? Every scar you've earned is already enough evidence to satisfy any Justicar in the city. No... you torture yourself for something else."

The matron breathed heavily then, closing her eyes around the word. "Fear" she sighed finally, as if exorcising some terrible spirit chained within her breast. "You are driven by this terrible, absolute fear that, when all is said and done, you are just some little boy, unworthy and forgotten. And why should you not? You've never known a proper mother. We sisters must..." Temperance hesitated for a moment on the thought, her eyes suddenly darting from her charge. "... must maintain our distance from those in our care, that we can share our love and skill with all. You've been made to feel as though you were one of many, nameless and common, since the moment you were delivered into our concern."

A need started to rise in Mortia's heart. A need he'd denied for so long, until it became a second skin; the armor of scars and sheer will he'd worn through every duel, every melee. Every beating. "Sister I..." the need was there, so fierce and burning the boy could feel it in his fingertips. The air was heavy with it.

Before he could manage to name it or claim it from Sister Temperance she spoke. "Know this boy: while I may not have birthed you into this world, you HAVE a mother. I have... loved you, as my own, since the first mewling wail you managed from your basket. I know my vows, know my order, but I know also my heart, and it beats for you Mortia. Each day when you saunter out the convent doors, you carry with you a mother's fears, her hopes, and her never-ending worry. Each night when you stagger back, berating yourself for yet another perceived weakness, I seal your wounds with silent tears you never see."

She was on her feet now, shaking. The robes of her order, gray and worn, seemed almost like a shroud framing the wounded mourner within. Mortia could see the sorrow and joy fighting one another in the corners of her eyes. Temperance stepped cautiously toward the boy, measuring every inch against the miles of years she'd endured in quiet desperation.

"You are loved, Mortia. And you will always be. But more than that, you belong. You belong to me, and I to you, bound by these hearstrings that no sword will ever sever. And you belong to the faith, for The Gray Mother waits for us all, not as a specter to fear but as our final homecoming. She has taken you in, as I have, and by her grace and prophecy she has spoken - you ARE alive, like it or not, so you yet have a purpose here, a life that needs to be lived. And I will be proud of it and you Mortia, every step that you take."

The need was there then. Mortia knew it for the first time, like a beast stalking him in the shadows now finally revealed. He craved to be claimed, truly claimed by another. No mere tart of the streets or even comrade in duels could match the need for it was primal, visceral. Mortia needed to know that at least one other soul was with him, that he was not some untethered boat tossed on the uncaring waves.

He didn't want friends or companions. Mortia needed a family. As his mind finally seized upon this realization his head snapped up from the floor to behold Temperance hovering over him. She was smiling through her tears, so close to the boy that he could smell the faint rosewater she anointed herself with hours ago in Service. So close he could reach out, he could embrace her as his mother.

But no, this was not the way of the order. Her vows forbade it. His resolve fading Mortia resigned to the truth of the...

And she had him. Temperance the woman, the mother, bound the boy to her with her arms and her tear-stained smile and the faded rosewater love that ebbed from her like the gentle rain of a summer's day. Mortia sat on the table, a petrified mix of fear and confusion, captured in the taboo of the embrace.

He waited a few heartbeats, fully expecting the sister to remember herself and abandon her foolishness. "She CANNOT love me, not like this." Mortia thought. "Any second now her arms will loosen and reason will win out over her pity." But a hand found it's way to the back of his head, pressing his cheek to her shoulder, even as the other arm coiled tighter around his shoulders.

Mortia abandoned himself then, to mother he'd always needed. They remained in the moment, delivering the answer to questions neither had dared to ask for a lifetime. It was a moment that Mortia had never known in all his days. It was home.

So the point is that the backstory you started with above is pretty typical of a lot of RPG characters: no blood family, raised by strangers, the people in his life are more an obligation than real loved ones. Mortia is untethered to anyone and thus he hurls himself into the most violence he can find. He literally owes himself to nothing per your original backstory, except maybe his faith but even then he starts as a Swashbuckler, not a warpriest; his faith is secondary.

So consider: what would make a guy with no real attachments in this world and an obvious death wish want to actually persist in becoming not only a Bravo but also a GOOD man? Not some faceless deity that comes second to his passion with the blade. No, he has to have some deeper motivation.

Enter: Sister Temperance. She's his rock; the Alfred and possibly even Robin to his Batman. Sister Temperance is the grounding he needs to not spiral into nihilistic thoughts and reckless abandon.

Making her one of the nuns then gives a reinforcement for his duty to the church. To honor her, Mortia takes a second look at his faith. Finding (when he hits level 2) a genuine passion for Pharasma and her teachings, Mortia will take up the cause of fighting in her name, though whether the "her" in this case is Temperance or The Lady of Graves may remain to be seen.

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-You're right D-Eggo my waffle; Perception checks may take more time than a single Move equivalent action. My bad, I'm sorry.

That doesn't change the fact though that a single Perception check, if you take the time to use one across an entire 10'x10' area reveals all fine details or other things of note that you qualify to spot with your roll. The skill doesn't specify you notice only one "stimulus" at a time. It is supremely frustrating to me personally that my DM in our 5e game requires us to ask about, call out, and make Perception checks for every kind of thing on a door.

Now, when our party gets to a door in that game, we're listing off a litany of stimuli to our DM out of habit: we tap the floor with our quarterstaves as we approach, check for weird smells, listen at the door, check for wires or triggers, look for light through the keyhole or from cracks in the door, check the door frame for loose or irregular construction, knock on surrounding walls or frame for hollow spots, check the floor for irregularities, pay attention to the air, feeling for airflow, potential ozone, or burning feelings creeping into our lungs, eyes or skin, try to gauge if there's a temperature drop...

And so on. It is exhausting, but this DM is not only extremely stingy with details in a given scene unless WE ask first, but he only describes the things we ask about. This kind of call-and-response type of gameplay slows things down and frustrates all of us at the table, including the DM. He does it though, and I quote, "so you have to ask questions and thus I'm not hand-holding you all the time"

I'm a fan and user of passive checks at my table. I don't stop at Perception though. Perception, Survival, and some Craft, Knowledge, and Profession checks I use as passive skills to justify revealing lots of info to my players. It is extremely rare that a party walks into a scene with less than three sentences of description to it.

Think about it: if you have an APL 5 party with a wizard with genius level intellect, a 1/2 elf monk and an elf U-rogue, alongside a paladin with maxed ranks in Knowledge: Religion who walk up on the ruins of an old wilderness shrine that was corrupted long ago, and they're not distracted or threatened, how are you going to tell the players "you see an old ruin, crumbling into the sod" and leave it at that?

You as a GM know that there's a bit of crumbling masonry that poses a threat, noticeable with a DC 20 Knowledge: Dungeoneering, Craft: Stonemasonry or other similar skills; there's a secret door to a crypt below the altar with a DC 25 to be noticed and requiring either brute force or Dim light along with a common prayer to be showered upon the altar to open it; knowing these details require levels of Knowledge: Religion (DC 10 to know the ruins are religious in nature; DC 15 to know the deity; DC 20 for knowledge this sect liked to hide catacombs under their shrines; DC 25, once the secret door is discovered, to know the opening conditions). You know that 4 gnolls, led by an evil cleric, came through here 24 hours ago and tried to open the altar but failed, so they skulked deeper into the hills to the east.

Looking over the PCs you note that the wizard has Knowledge: Dungeoneering with 4 ranks, making his passive roll in that skill a 22. The U-rogue has a class ability that gives her a +2 on Perception to detect traps, and you wrote the masonry part as a trap with a DC 25 to detect without the other skills, so the U-rogue would sense the trap if she got within 10' without even needing to make a roll. The monk took Survival as a Class skill with a Trait so his passive on that skill is a 20 while the traces of the villains passing through the area are a base DC of 16, and finally the passive Knowledge: Religion for the paladin is a 19.

Just walking up to the ruins, the monk should immediately spot the trail of the villains passing through. Getting to within 10' of the crumbling masonry over the entrance, both the wizard and the U-rogue could identify the hazard through simple observations and deductive reasoning. The paladin meanwhile, with a minute to look over the safe spots within the shrine, could easily deduce that this is a shrine to an old moon god and is so close to recalling the catacombs with his passive skill that you might give a hint like "you feel there might be more to this shrine as the practitioners of this faith were fond of hiding secrets" or something.

That's all passive skills. Skills these PCs have spent ranks on, built their characters around. In other words, these are the things these characters are supposed to be particularly good and clever with. Limiting the utility or success of these skills kind of nullifies the investment the players have put on them for just such an occasion.

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I was going to come in here and rant:
Right now I'm still at work, 4 hours after I was meant to log off, trying to fix issues that I and my team identified weeks before the customer that is now booked for an angry meeting at 10 am tomorrow morning converted to our new system from our old.

I was going to rant... but then I remembered LM upthread. It's a low moment for me right now; the ahole in my brain is pretty f-ing loud. But LM went for a run.

I can't... we can't let the crap this quarantine is heaping on us win. Its not much, but I just did the first crunches I've done in months. I'm fat, and tired, and there's an ache in my body that I don't ever remember having before.

But, I did something. And tomorrow I'll do something else. And eventually, somewhere down the road, I'll be doing whatever because I want to, not because I have to.

Thanks again LM and all of you for just, I don't know... being human. Freehold, I really hope your team appreciates the genuine care and work you're putting out there for them and as you look out into the universe I hope that karma comes back to you seven-fold.

Now, back to the FaWtL thread already in progress.

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Drejk wrote:
Nylarthotep wrote:

If your pan is deep enough you can do the chef shake that pushes everything to the far side and then flips up followed by a catch. But this relies on the laws of probability to have all the meat flip sides. Which, given that most such morsels are not uniform/flat is not a guarantee that everything flips.

Although if you do enough times, it should average out the flips.

I thought of that but the pan is not deep enough for it to work properly, and my morsels tend to be to weird-shaped.

What you need there is a pair of metal spatulas, or is it spatulae? I have no idea. Anyway

1. one spatula goes flat in the pan, for you to push morsels onto
2. the other spatula turns on its side, as the pushing arm
3. use pushing arm to load the flat spatula with meat chunks
4. flip meat to other side
5. repeat with different groups of morsels until all have flipped

Think of your fave hibachi place. The chef there likely does the same thing with a knife and spatula instead of 2 of the same utensil. One thing that helps, regardless of how uniform the chunks are cut is to group them into quadrants in the pan.

Or just do what I do: sautee. Take a wooden spoon, shake the pan, and push the spoon around once in a while. If the chunks of meat are small enough, you'll eventually get a char on all sides.

I confess the same as Halamoose upthread; I've never gotten into organized play. Tried at conventions, had more negative than positive experiences with either what I subjectively call bad DM's or chaos players ("some people just want to watch the world burn")

I played a couple Living Greyhawk games but found the folks I was playing with, for lack of a better term, pretentious. Like, I grew up with Greyhawk but obviously we put a homebrew spin on it. When I went to games my fellow players were like "if you don't know the inner secrets of the Valley of the Mage then what are you even DOING here?"

PFS was weirdly inviting and inclusive; I really liked the people I met through these games! The only downside was what Four Times the Jayson said - the games were basically use this skill, at this time, and survive combat... and you get a cookie at the end.

Funny enough, I didn't get into massively online games either. I played WOW a couple times, but getting slaughtered by jerkwads that were running around in god armor and just wanted to kill noobs was enough to convince me that sometimes the online communities of my hobbies can be... challenging.

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Maybe it helps to not like any of your neighbors. Most that I've interacted with personally are either proud of the fact that they don't vote or are very the opposite of my views, to the point of harassment. Seeing the yard signs of those who do vote only fuels my never-ending rage.

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I'm a player in a 5e game and I can tell you; as a player on the receiving end of the "well, you weren't searching for SMELLS, so you didn't notice the smoke from the fire on the other side of the door" line from my DM, that way of gaming is annoying.

If a game system like 5e or PF 1e is going to roll up all the old skills such as Listen, Spot, and so on into one skill of Perception, then that one skill should account for all of those activities. If, like in the case of 5e, you have a skill to NOTICE details in your environment (Perception) but a separate skill for interpreting those details with deductive reasoning (Investigation) then MAYBE you have 2 rolls, but that's about it.

The fact is that with a Perception check a PC can use a Move equivalent action to investigate a 10' x 10' area to search for some kind of stimulus, aka, actionable details from the GM. If, for example, there is a secret door (DC 20 to detect) which is a sliding panel of wood painted to look like stone which has a false brick button to activate it within that 10' x 10' area, and that secret door is trapped with a Burning Hands trap (DC 21 to detect) that spits a cone of fire down on anyone that doesn't pull the button out of the wall and turn it clockwise first, the PC still rolls ONE Perception check for this area and spends their Move action to do so.

If the player rolls a total of 20 for their character, they may only notice that there's a false section of wall with a false brick next to it that seems to activate some kind of mechanism. The rules on secret doors only say that on a successful Perception check you discover the secret door, so the GM can describe that discovery however they want. However, they've failed to notice the trap and will likely get burnt.

If the player rolls a total of 21 - 25 for their character, they notice the secret door but also they notice the TRIGGER MECHANISM of the trap. In this instance, they notice that the false brick has grip marks and worn grooves around it that suggest that it needs to be rotated in a specific way before the mechanism works properly, but the success of their Perception check suggests to the PC that improper rotation might be worse than the door not opening.

If the player rolls a total of 26 or more, the PC receives some kind of clue what the trap is likely to do. The character might notice burn marks, nearly all but worn away, depicting a 15' cone of searing hot flame with an origin point somewhere over the secret door's frame. One false move with the brick and WHAM! Barbeque!

Now, by the rules the PC is capable of learning any or all of the above from their single Perception check and Move action. Supposedly this simulates that the character has done a once over in the area visually, and may have also very gently tested the area with tactile or olfactory senses as well; they most certainly have been keeping an ear out for errant sounds that whole time as well.

Thus, if standing just on the other side of the thin wood panel of the door is a panting minotaur whose passive Stealth check is a 12, made into a 19 by the GM's discretion based on the minotaur being on the other side of the secret door AND there being "unfavorable conditions," a catch-all the GM has decided to invoke b/c reasons, that still means that if the PC has managed to only hit a 19 on their Perception check they might notice labored breathing and the scraping of metal on stone behind the "wall" before them.

So Perception, in Pathfinder, is meant to encompass several sensory inputs, all at once. You don't handle separate stimuli in a given area 1 at a time; the PC rolls and based on that roll they do or do not notice stimuli based on the success of that roll and their distance from the stimuli, as well as other limiting factors. If the character is deaf and the stimuli is a sound, they won't hear it no matter how high they roll; if the stimuli is ONLY visual and the PC has no conceivable line of sight to it, they don't see it.

This puts the burden back on the GM to KNOW all of the hidden things in and around the PCs at any given time and to be able to accurately portray the findings of a given Perception check. Be a good narrator.

I've tried lots of ways to solve this problem. Saying that "Masterwork" was actually a unique, supernatural property that gave a PC a Weapon Focus feat specifically with that weapon; having weapons get automatic bonus progression at some levels; offering financial incentives for selling current weapons or penalties for enhancing existing ones to try and motivate players to "move on" from the weapons they've gotten attached to.

The bottom line, as many have said, is that in PF 1e a character build can center on one specific weapon. The benefits of such a build are baked into the system.

Also, while I might not have the... passion, with which Derk the Smirk upthread put it, I agree that, as a GM, I need to respect the build my players are putting together. That doesn't mean I don't put a +1 Cold longsword in a treasure hoard when the barbarian is weapon focused on the greataxe; rather, I set the expectation that the party will sell the weapon, divide the proceeds and the barbarian will use her portion to upgrade her +1 greataxe to something better.

See, that is ALSO baked into the game. The RAW of this game contains rules to upgrade existing weapons for a reason. While a GM can choose to limit or penalize PCs that go this route, or can remove the rule altogether, the basic mechanics recognize that single weapon builds are definitely a thing.

My bigger problems these days are PCs who specialize in weapons that aren't really common to the area they're in. For example, I had one player toying with playing a net-and-trident build. He had a cool backstory, great stats (rolled) and was all set, until I laid out that the setting was largely land locked with a heavy influence from the dark ages. I told the player straight out that finding trident "drops" in treasure hoards was going to be extremely rare, so they were constantly going to have to use their Downtime to maintain/upgrade their weapon.

Now, I didn't say no to the build and would've encouraged other aspects of it with encounter building, giving this PC a chance to shine. Also Downtime is a thing in my games; it is rare that I don't provide at least a few significant chunks of it during a campaign. Still, the player decided after realizing that they'd be solely in charge of their own weapon upgrades decided to instead make a completely different PC and went with a paladin instead.

If you want players to use lots of different magic weapons, you have to incentivize them to do so. Some other systems, or optional rules in PF 1e, do this by removing weapon specialization and making combat bonuses more a part of the character instead of their gear. Other systems allow specialization to work, as Mr Cha suggested, on broader groups of weapons. Others still do away with magic items altogether.

One final note, kind of along Derkmandias' points: as a GM, why do you include weapons in magic treasure that you know your PCs aren't going to use? For example, if you have a shortbow-focused PC, a greataxe-focused PC, a druid and a bloodrager/brawler that mainly uses either their own natural attacks or reach wepaons, why would you drop a halfling slingstaff into a treasure hoard?

Now, I do it because the PCs were fighting an evil grippli alchemist that was using the slingstaff in the place of that alchemist vial-slinger weapon-thing that that class can use, in order to have the bombs he was flinging deal fire AND acid damage, so it might be a weapon specifically being used by the antagonist.

Other reasons might be that THIS type of weapon was common to the setting, so it's a setting-based clue, or perhaps it was just randomly rolled. Whatever the case, the next logical question any GM SHOULD have in their mind is: "what will my non-halfling, non-sling-focused PCs DO with this weapon?"

You are the GM. You control the entire world, outside of the PCs. At some point though, you have to realize that, because you don't control the PCs, your setting will HAVE to give a little to those PCs. Chastising them for not using the sub-optimal choices you've given them is trying to force your control onto the characters. Rather, you should set your expectation of the PCs doing whatever they want with the choices you give them and plan your own reactions accordingly.

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Y'know what's interesting with that sentiment J-Dave? What you're saying is that constant improvement of the character's numbers, abilities and such aren't really part of the 5e system, so focus instead on making your character more interesting/engaging through roleplay.

Here, again, I reference challenging DMs.

If you give your character a secret but the DM never plays that into the larger game, does it really matter? If you say one of your goals is to bring industry to a little town that's struggling with poverty and your DM says "Ok, you do that. Meanwhile, goblins attack; roll initiative!" then it wasn't much of an accomplishment, was it?

These kinds of "builds" are possible in any system, mind you. I've told my players in all 3 of my PF campaigns to have real, measurable goals for their characters. Want to be the best axe wielder in the land? Intend on taming that swamp? Planning to pen the definitive work on the eldritch society that built that megadungeon? Ok, then I'm going to take those and work them into my adventures.

Perhaps between stories the axe wielder is constantly getting challenged to contests, brutal fights, etc. However, over time since she's bested so many she's built quite a rep, even among humanoids in the region. Now, when she holds her axe menacingly while also making an Intimimdation check I might ignore Size penalties or grant Circumstance bonuses.

The player is seeing a genuine game impact for their RP efforts, their achievements. Meanwhile, in my 5e game, my DM has openly mocked the paladin and I for roleplaying aspects of our backgrounds.

My character was "literally raised by wolves" per the rolls I made. I've been playing it as written; my character growls, snarls, makes references to his "pack" being the people he travels with and generally acts wolf-like. The paladin in the meantime has the "folk hero" background and saved his militia squad at the zero hour.

My DM has laughed openly at me trying to be like a wolf in character. NPCs have treated both of us like we're crazy. No one in town believes that the paladin is anything more than a blowhard claiming HE saved all his fellow soldiers since the skirmish happened in his own Dragonborn lands, not here.

Its demoralizing. Why bother coming up with a secret or a goal, or playing up some aspect of your character when the DM has made it abundantly clear that he doesn't care to use those efforts to effect the game world at all? Worse yet, how would it make you feel if your own DM made fun of you for some of your RP choices?

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Things that aren't werewolves associated with the full moon on Halloween: the festival of Samhain, witches, ghosts/spirits, the Fey, druids, Magick, particularly certain necromantic rites, evils of the sea the rise with the tides, generic curses and the breaking of them

Possible plots: a group of druids are using the power of the full moon to enact a protean rite; the Fey of both the Seelie and Unseelie court are holding a once-in-a-century moot on the Prime b/c it is the second full moon on the night of Samhain - this revel will enslave an entire city of mortals in the Eternal Masquerade, stealing their souls forever to the Fey Lands unless the Eldest can be dealt with; the town of Innsmouth is the only port avail to the party, and they're rumored to have lots of gold in that church...; a Grand Coven (9 x 9 witches) has met for one night of total chaos, with the PCs being the only ones between The 81 Curses and the doom of all mortals

Also, more silly associations with the moon: Blue Moon - either weird luck, hexes, witches, gremlins, or a detective agency from an 80's TV comedy; alternatively relating to a variety of popular songs.

Full Moon - colloquial reference to completely exposing the posterior of a person in public, especially when such displays are socially frowned upon.

Moonstruck - a fated love brought about only by the light of the full moon, as portrayed by Nick Cage and Cher

Mooncrazed - a common superstition holding that sleeping while directly exposed to the light of the full moon can bring mental illness; see Lunatic


It sounds like what got your players last was a sort of intimacy with the horror. Whatever you decide to do, I'd say find some way to personalize it. Not necessarily to the PCs, but to the players. Loss of innocence and horror that robs its victims of agency works well here.

Could be that the antagonist of the piece is compelled by forces beyond their control into evil. Alternatively, the evil threatens something very close to the players, like with Emily. Even worse still...

What if the evil is specifically after the PCs? "It's a small thing, almost trivial; deliver this philter to the Lady Ashcombe, just before she is to meet her stable boy. Ensure she drinks it all, and before you know it your darling Emily will be back with you, made whole and what's more... she'll be a REAL girl. Such little thing after all..."

Of course the elixir, when drunk and then the imbiber exposed to the light of the full moon forces the drinker to lose all inhibitions and act on their basest desires. By the morning Lord Ashcombe will be found murdered by his adulterous wife who will be found in the stable boy's arms. Unfortunately, this small act causes a vacuum of power in the feudal structure of the kingdom, which in turn will plunge the country into a civil war that will pit kin against kin...

(the grinning devil, standing there with Emily staring wide-eyed in horror with her new "family") "… and all of this death, this utter destruction, could not have been possible without YOU."

I don't know, I'm just throwin' stuff out there. Don't know where your campaign or players are at these days. Hopefully there's something here you can use.

I haven't worked out in months. I used to run/walk every day at work, and 2 days/week did free weights in the office gym downstairs from my dept. Since quarantine all of this has dropped off.

Saturday I noticed a big branch broke off of the maple in the back and had wedged itself near the base of the tree. I reached up, at an odd angle, to try and free the stuck branch. Not only did I not get it but I strained something in my core on the right side that's been aching ever since.

That is... ridiculous. I need to start doing stuff at home; walking outside, crunches, squats, and serious yoga. Heck, just lifting a bag full of gaming books would be something.

I don't need to run marathons. My girls are teenagers so no need to "keep up" with them anymore. No, I'd just like to not be at risk for diabetes anymore and maybe look better in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt is all.

A river drake in the river, accompanied by 2 tatzlwyrms in the trees and a handful of kobolds. The encounter begins when the PCs are spotted by the kobolds or tatzlwyrms passing near the river. The kobolds use slings from inside the tree line, then flee backwards to the water's edge. The edge of the tree line however is trapped with minor things - snares, nets, whatever, that will deliver Entangled and slow the PCs' ground movement.

The tatzlwyrms drop down on them from above then, attempting to grapple, weaken with poison, and claw the PCs with Rake. If possible, some kobolds might split off from the riverbank to try and pile into one of these grapples, getting out some rope to attempt to tie up a character.

Eventually either the kobolds and tatzlwyrms get one or 2 of the PCs grappled and tied, then try to drag them to the waiting river drake or the characters defeat their attackers and see only a few of them left on the riverbank in the distance and hopefully move up close enough that the river drake can attack them

The final portion of the fight should be the river drake, with at least a few kobold minions, battling the party at the water's edge, using its caustic mucus from distance or its speed surge to get into a melee with a single foe separated from the others.

Remember that the kobolds inside the tree line have either partial cover or cover, and against PCs that lack Darkvision or Low Light Vision they might be able to get Concealment in the darkness. You might also provide squares of overgrowth that the kobolds can use to grant Concealment regardless of the PCs' senses. This can not only mess with ranged attack accuracy but also limit line of sight for spells.

Also remember that fully submerged monsters have full cover and even just popping up its head out of the water to spit mucus gives the river drake cover, in regards to ranged attacks. Hitting the thing while it's in the river should be pretty hard unless the PCs are willing to wade into the water after it.

Having 3 phases of attack, scattering some traps around, putting monsters above using their Climb speed, foes moving up and down the terrain, grappling instead of straight-up bite attacks, and so on could keep things interesting. Another interesting thing might be to have a goal other than pest control.

Perhaps the kobolds are worshipping a dragon in the area. They believe that the tatzlwyrms and river drake are divine beings and have built them a shrine because of it. As the PCs are approaching, perhaps they spot signs of draconic worship in the area; fetishes hanging in the trees, a way marker sculpted of stone, depicting a dragon's face, or scrolls invoking the power of dragons hung from vines as a sort of "keep out" message.

Once the fights make it down to the river's edge, the PCs might spot mud structures in the distance. Somewhere, in the midst of the river, is a shrine to their dragon god. The ambush is meant to defend the shrine from interlopers. During the fight the kobolds bark that their cruel god will curse these trespassers for their insolence and such.

Then, when the fight is done, if the PCs are victorious and search around the mud hut village of the kobolds, they find pieces of a collapsible bridge that spans the river to the shrine. You might put a curse on the shrine for non-kobolds or non-dragons entering it, or maybe not depending on how involved you want to be with this. Even from the shoreline when the characters are searching the mud huts they should be able to see suggestions of wealth in the shrine, encouraging them to go there.

The shrine is the final reward at the end of the encounter, but it might also hold a terrible secret for the characters. You might, even have the river drake here instead of earlier in the scene. Any way you slice it, raiding the shrine ends the whole thing for better or for worse. If you DO put a curse on the shrine for any PCs entering, it might not just be something to weaken a stat.

Interesting curses might be that any gems handled by the cursed PCs are suddenly discovered to be flawed and worthless; jewelry turns out to be glass and costume jewelry; all coins turn to copper pieces. Perhaps, in an even more draconic twist, any PC that fails to save against the curse becomes insatiably greedy, desiring all the loot for their own "hoard." Now any PCs not affected by the curse have to restrain their fellows and find a way to not get robbed in their sleep until the curse can be lifted.

We didn't actually end up getting together last night. Instead I met up with another buddy of mine that I usually play PF with. We had a couple beers and burgers, and chatted about all our different games together.

I'm going to take the weekend off from obsessing about this. I know I haven't talked to the DM about this stuff live yet, but every indicator over past experiences, emails and texts has been that his game is HIS game, and what I consider fun or interesting is secondary.

Ironically my buddy last night reminded me that his chief complaint with the way I run MY games is that I give out too MUCH information. They make a decent gather info roll in a PF game and suddenly they get the entire backstory for an adventure site.

Still, what he said to me though was that this also has an upside. My "data dumps" on the setting have given the players a clear vision on how their characters fit in - they feel like their characters are a part of the world. Then, when I add local descriptions and such, like there's a weird bone in the middle of a room or a cave is painted with dried blood, those details end up meaning SOMETHING. Either it's telling them there might be a trap nearby, or an evil cult used this place, or whatever.

My buddy said, by getting so much detail he feels like he's "on the same page" with me and the game I'm running.

I know I'm wordy. Look at my emails here and in other threads! But even though I slow down my games with info delivery I'm not doing it ONLY to hear myself talk. I'd rather my players know exactly what their characters could know instead of surprising them with the details later.

So, its caves and cliffs then. Who else thinks the goats are the most impressive part of this update? :)

Wait, you can get banned from these forums? I didn't even know that was a thing. I REALLY gotta step up my game.

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captain yesterday wrote:
I'm on a roll now.

You are the Captain; is it a Kaiser?

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We've got a customer conversion tomorrow, so I'm on call for any issues. After 3pm tomorrow though, my plan is to enjoy the weird 60-70 degree weather we're having here in MN, have a cocktail on the deck, and try to catch up on all the chores I've been putting off all week.

As far as gaming goes, I might have some board gaming lined up for Sunday afternoon, but the guys I've got on the hook are pretty flaky so we'll wait and see. Otherwise, its more Minecraft for me.

Yeah, that one kind of threw me G Squared, especially when in follow up emails and texts this DM alluded to there being a lot more setting info my character just doesn't know b/c he doesn't have the right skills/I haven't asked the right questions, in game.

So if you've done lots of work on the setting, and I walk into a pub, and it's a pub that I, ostensibly, have visited multiple times over the past 5 years at least in my role as a local guide, that leads me to believe that there actually ISN'T a name for the place.

The best was meeting the bartender. My character is Adrick, the paladin is Hescrum

DM: Ah, well-met Hescrum and Adrick! I heard you saved Reginald Drake from that deadly disease! That deserves a round on the house!

Me: Thanks... ah... bartender I've suddenly forgotten the name of!

DM: Yeah, remember Adrick? My name is... (DM pauses, eyes dart up and to the left, takes a few seconds) Tom. I run this pub, remember?

So yeah... there's no larger setting stuff. He's gaslighting me, making stuff up as he goes, then playing it off like he had this stuff prepped this whole time.

The only things that seemed pre-planned are the dungeon maps, some of the encounters, and the fact that there's a large, oppressive empire on the outskirts of the region in which we're currently adventuring.

Now I don't have a problem with random tables. One of the best 3 game session arcs I've had I a long time came from a random table. So long as you're willing to ad-lib stuff, random tables are the bomb. Thing is, you have to CARE about setting details and stuff outside of combat to use the majority of the random tables out there.

Thanks for understanding Quarkius Maximus. I don't mean to be a narc and I respect that you have both solid reasons and appreciation for these numbers. It's just...

This disease is cruel. I've had personal near-misses, friends and family dealing with it directly, and tons of data coming at me every day. I also work for a med device company that is intimately involved in US and international distribution efforts. Every time we get on a company-wide conf call I'm reminded of all the good and bad going on around me.

Folks in this thread can be... passionate on their opinions or points of debate. You're included in this QB. The one thing that seems to underscore all of that is that we're all interested in some kind of better, healthier future in regards to climate change.

Seeing how folks and countries are struggling with this disease may help illustrate those points may play towards that underlying goal but sometimes Q-Blast, sometimes its just... it's just too much y'know?

Log on at work, Covid stats; turn on the TV or YouTube, Covid stats; jump on social media or heck, just check my texts or take a call, Covid impacts. Thank you for respecting the request to just take a little bit of that edge off Quark Blast.

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Sales Support and Analytics for a med device company. I also got paid once for submission to a gaming book and I hope to make that happen again.

We all cope in different ways. FH, I've pulled up a therapy couch here on these forums, and you've all been very gracious, letting me rant about my personal life. You deserve no less from any of us.

The company I work for does virtual pulse checks of the business. Currently I'm listening to a talk from a psychologist speaking to the company about dealing with the stress and anxiety of the business so far this calendar year. Her first key takeaway is when stress and anxiety increases, we need to intentionally increase connection.

Freehold, if this is your default community for those connections then its a good thing you're decompressing here.

Now, on a lighter note, a buddy of mine is a teacher for middle school and he's going to be stuck on hours of virtual parent conferences next week. For those of you in this thread that are facing the same challenge, I work for a company that sells leg bags and other uro devices, just in case bathroom breaks won't be an option.

Just throwing that out there.

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Honestly, by level 2 the ability to load your lantern becomes kind of moot. You've got the Tentacle, Tumor Familiar or Vestigal Arm Discoveries. Any of those will hold the lantern while you use two hands for whatever's needed.

The Familiar is my pick, but I'm biased 'cuz I love Familiars. A Valet archetype Familiar for example gets Prestidigitation at will. Seems meh until you realize it can let the Familiar move 1 lb of material, albeit "slowly." That means the Familiar doesn't even need opposable thumbs to hand you a vial of lamp oil every round.

Another way to go would be to give your Familiar Evolution Points like an Eidolon. You could achieve this through a Feat if you have a 13 Charisma or by instead giving it the Figment Archetype. The 1 point Evolution Basic Magic gives the Familiar Mage Hand 1/day, but the duration on Mage Hand is Concentration so as long as the Figment doesn't lose Concentration it can pick one object, say, your lantern, that is 5 lbs or less, that it can move around all day.

As well, it's an animal form that can detach from your body so if it CAN pick up and manipulate items, such as a Monkey, it doesn't even need any of these spells. It just sits in a satchel at your hip, handing you flasks of oil, or acid, or whatever while you go on with your attacks.

With the Lantern Bomb trick, there's lots of questions to ask. Does the lantern get broken after throwing it? How do you reload/relight the lantern after it's thrown? Do you have 2 feats to devote to a 1d6 +Int Splash Weapon attack?

The base alchemist gets Bombs, for 1d6 +Int damage, but it's not splash damage. Also they only get Class Level +Int number of Bombs/day so it's a limited resource.

Equipment Trick requires a BAB +1 before you can take the feat. The first time a base Alchemist can take this Feat would be level 3. By level 3 you could either spend 2 feats for cheap, all-day Lantern Bomb tricks for 1d6 +Int splash damage or you could have those 2 feats spent on improving the accuracy and damage of your daily Bombs when throwing from 30' or less, increase the number of bombs/day by 2, use a Discovery to change your bombs to a different (less resisted) energy type, AND be inflicting 2d6 +Int now instead of 1d6.

Is the Lantern Bomb trick worth the investment? I suppose if you're going Grenadier, adding that Lantern Bomb into your normal Bomb and dealing extra damage, but again, you'll have to contend with Fire being the most resisted Energy type. Otherwise, 1d6 +Int just isn't enough damage to remain relevant past, maybe, level 3 or 4 depending on other feats you have with these 2.

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With lamp oil, I prefer having a flying familiar dropping it on foes or making a ranged touch attack with the flask, while also having the Spark cantrip at the ready.

Also remember that when you throw the lantern as a splash weapon this likely breaks the lantern as it does the container of an Alchemist's Fire. This is not explicitly stated above, so it could certainly be argued either way, but as a GM that's what I would say.

I'm a kind, benevolent GM however so I'd likely allow lanterns to be repaired by the Mending cantrip. Either that, or buy LOTS of lanterns.

Yeah, Downtime is really not about profit. That is, unless you're generating Capital instead of GP.

A Level 1/CL 1 spell scroll costs 25 GP; crafting that requires 12.5 GP invested. Using an optional rule and a 3PP feat, you can craft this for 2.5 GP instead by making the scroll from treated birch bark. Using skills, a business, an organization, or a combination of all three, you can spend 1 day to generate 1 or more Magic Capital.

1 Magic Capital requires the PC to spend 50 GP per Capital once it is generates so that the PC can use it as a resource. Once so purchased, 1 magic capital can be used in turn to pay the crafting costs for magic items, up to a value of 100 GP worth of crafting costs/Magic Capital spent.

So, just using the normal rules you can write 8 Level 1/CL 1 spell scrolls for 1 Magic Capital. Using that optional rule, you could write 40 per 1 Magic Capital.

8 Level 1/CL 1 spell scrolls sell for 200 GP. So, for every 50 GP spent, you get 150 GP profit. Not bad.

40 Level 1/CL 1 spell scrolls sell for 1000 GP. So, for every 50 GP spent using the optional scroll writing rules, you get 950 GP profit. That's pretty good.

Downtime's real use is in crafting cheap items, preferably magic items. Using Capital to pay for crafting costs is a way to make those items actually profitable for sale.

If you're not crafting items with your Downtime, the only other reason to have a Business/Organization is to gain bonuses later on your Leadership score. If you're not using THAT... you might as well take the 2GP/day.

Haladir wrote:
Mark Hoover 330 wrote:
...really nice things...

*blushes* Aww... shucks...

Thanks. Really. I am truly touched!

When I GM, one thing that I absolutely always want to be certain of is that we have player consent for whatever happens to their character.

The RPGs I tend to run these days have that concern baked into the rules. Generally, if something bad is going to happen to a character, I'll let the player define/decide what that is, according to the fiction. Sometimes, I'll provide a choice of options; sometimes I'll dictate the final result and ask the player to tell us how that happened.

And in case you were really wondering... I'm turning 51 later this year.

If anyone was wondering what my GM style looks like in practice, I've started recording my online play sessions with The Gauntlet Online Gaming Community. You can watch what I've recorded so far over at my YouTube Channel.

Mark Hoover 330 wrote:
Haladir, thanks for your advice and experience in this and other threads. You REALLY know your stuff when it comes to gaming, be it history, play-style philosophy, game design... heck, I bet if there was an algorithm that accurately calculated gamer age based on games played, I'd swear The Dir of Hal wrote it! I appreciate your insight!

Glad to offer it! Believe me: In some of the other RPG circles I kick around in, I am absolutely the lightweight! I have learned SO MUCH about RPGs in indie game circles: Those games broke my brain in a good way. One nice thing about splashing around in a small pond is that most of the luminaries of the indie RPG scene are totally approachable, super-friendly, and love to share their insights.

** spoiler omitted **...

Just saw this today; check your PMs :)

All I want to do is go buy GOETHE now...

Woran wrote:
Mark Hoover 330 wrote:
Woran wrote:
Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

Nowadays I go to Con of the North to network with friends and play game demos. I learned how much I love Zombicide at CotN. Otherwise the rest of any con is kind of lost on me.

I went to con of the north last year. Were you there too?

I was, but only briefly Friday night. I went to meetup with a guy that works the computers downstairs, then also strolled the buying hall and chatted with some folks, trying to get some new players.

The past couple of years I haven't been as active at the con as I was in previous years. What were you there for Woran?

Gaming. Pathfinder/Starfinder the whole weekend. Plus a LOT of alcohol.

Im a responsible adult...

Next time I'm in attendance then I'll watch for a responsible adult Dutch woman with a fondness for Pathfinder games and toast you with a Jameson from a respectable distance then.

Freehold DM wrote:



Another meeting today.

My boss has alienated my staff almost completely to the point they don't feel like speaking out anymore, or even talking to me. Two people are planning on leaving for different reasons, but I think we can all agree what the initial impetus was. I doubt the third will stay much longer.

And then it will be just me and maaaaaaybe one other person, working part time.

I'm upset at myself for not defending my staff more, doing more, getting it all right. I'm upset with my boss for being my boss. I'm upset with how the coronavirus based lockdown has affected my job(s). I dont know if this is going to lead to something more or not, but right now its just leading to madness.

You're doing what you can now FH. The rest is not under your control. I'm sorry you're going through this. Sending you the best vibes I can!

Woran wrote:
Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

Nowadays I go to Con of the North to network with friends and play game demos. I learned how much I love Zombicide at CotN. Otherwise the rest of any con is kind of lost on me.

I went to con of the north last year. Were you there too?

I was, but only briefly Friday night. I went to meetup with a guy that works the computers downstairs, then also strolled the buying hall and chatted with some folks, trying to get some new players.

The past couple of years I haven't been as active at the con as I was in previous years. What were you there for Woran?

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Spell choice for a level 1 sorcerer says a lot about who you are, what you will become. Taking levels in Arcanist after that basically throws that out the window. With enough Downtime you'll have whatever spell you want then, so I don't know how long spell choice will actually help "define" you.

That being said, Remlin has been "hiding in the woods." Yet he's also a sorcerer, not a ranger, druid, barbarian, hunter, or other classes/archetypes that are typically associated with woodland survival.

This doesn't mean that he's helpless out there. With a 12 Wis and the right Trait he's got Survival as a Class skill with a +1 Trait bonus. This results in a Survival +5; so long as the GM is allowing you to take 10 on survival checks, you can get by in the wilderness.

Then there's the issue of self-defense. Obviously some kind of personal defense spell would be good. Common predators or threats present in the woods, outside of supernatural forces or monsters, would be animals who are faster than you, toxic plants, and natural hazards.

Ironically, if you remove monsters and such, surviving in the woods with magic isn't always about a Shield spell. If you accidentally run across a black bear and it decides to attack instead of flee, having a round of AC 20 isn't much of a boon. Instead, let's look at escape plans.

Obscuring Mist is my own personal default at level 1. Putting a sudden wall of mist between you and a foe could be very advantageous. Some animals however have Scent and once they spot your square they can move to within 5' of you, removing your advantage. While this spell is great to hide you from ranged attacking foes, it's not much use against animals.

Vanish is another ideal spell. Its only a round of invisibility, but that might just be enough time. I only wish you had some way of making consumables since having lots of 1 round Vanish spells, say on scrolls, would be much better.

Another good spell against single foes, such as that bear, would be Glue Seal. Assuming an 18 Cha, the spell requires a DC 15 Ref save. Lots of Animal type monsters that would serve as apex predators have between a 12 to 17 Dex, though Ref is also one of their good Saves. Still, even if this spell only worked half the time, that's half your animal attackers stuck for a round or more while you flee.

Now, all of these suggestions are in addition to the spectacular advice of AVR upthread. Heightened Awareness is a great spell to have just in general. I know I repeated Vanish though; that's because it's THAT good for getting away.

Let's think about that though... getting away. Many animals, especially predator types, have between a 30 to a 50 base move speed. You have a 30. This means they are often as fast or faster than you. Also many Animal type creatures have extra movement types such as a Climb or Fly speed. How do you get away from these things?

Expeditious Retreat is an obvious one. Another would be Jump. Still another could be Monkey Fish, though the Climb and Swim speeds are fairly slow. Finally, Touch of the Sea is a way to get a good Swim speed if useful.

At some point you're going to have to attack. Fire based damage is right out; you're in a forest. Depending on the season such spells might also be a death sentence for you, Zebra and much of the woods. Ditto could be said for Electricity attacks, though less so.

This leaves us with Force, Sonic, Acid, or Cold damage if you want to deal energy damage. Weapon attacks will be useful for hunting or against Plant creatures with a slow movement or no movement, but at half BAB counting on a longspear or crossbow, even with a 14 Dex, is basically giving up.

Personally, if I were Remlin and expected to be spending a significant amount of time in the woods, I'd strongly consider an alternate racial trait that gives me 3 0-level spells and 1 level 1 spell as an SLA usable 1/day in a Forest terrain type. For half-elves its called Fey Magic, don't know if all races get this option but a few of them do.

If that is both an option AND a mechanical choice you're willing to take for Remlin, strongly consider Charm Animal. Think about it; how cool would it be to take a second Trait that gives you Handle Animal as a Class skill, also have Charm Animal 1/day, and be able to spend a week back in your woodland home during Downtime in game befriending and training your own wolf buddy?

Having a wolf at your side would keep other predators at bay, the animal's Scent ability might alert you to hazards you might not have noticed, and after SEVERAL weeks of training you could even have a proper attack wolf for you to use in combat. Sure, you'd be spending Move actions to get your wolf to perform tricks it knows, such as Attack or Defend, but still... you're a level 1 sorcerer with a WOLF!

Anyway, hopefully this gives you some food for thought. Of course, I wouldn't be me on these boards w/out a WHOLE other rabbit hole to send you down. Remlin has an Arcane bloodline right? Why would ANY of his powers be useful for woodland survival?

Mage Armor is pretty "arcane." Magic Missile is an arcane staple that goes all the way back to when the class was just called "magic user" and they wore robes with stars and a pointy hat. Other arcane-seeming spells might include Incendiary Runes, Alarm, Hold Portal, Expeditious Construction or Expeditious Excavation, Summon Monster I, Grease or Web Bolt, Enlarge Person, Mount, Stumble Gap, Identify, True Strike, Charm Person, Sleep, Burning Hands, Shocking Grasp, Floating Disk, Color Spray, Darting Duplicate, Magic Aura, Ventriloquism, Ray of Enfeeblement, Animate Rope, Magic Weapon, Windy Escape, Hypnotism, or even Comprehend Languages.

Frankly, I think it would be cool if your GM allowed you to pick 10 of these spells, then roll a D10 every day for the spells Remlin can actually manifest that day. This would work into your concept of the character still developing control over his abilities. It might be frustrating to your party and could even end up hurting your chances of success: "Remlin, what do you mean you can only give objects a magic aura, conjure disks of force that follow you and make doors harder to open for the day? We're about to raid the goblin camp!"

Still, that second list of spells, IMO, fit with a more arcane, almost wizard-like force flowing through their veins. Your final decision might vary wildly.

Finally, I gotta concur with G to the Noams upthread. Character concept and character build are 2 completely different things. Build however you want to J Dubs, your fun is your fun. I'm just sayin', you could pull off this PC's character concept as a Wizard, Sorcerer with Arcane Bloodline, a half-elf of any arcane casting class, and so on. The major beats of the PC concept are that you're still learning your powers, you have arcane magic flowing through your veins, and you have a familiar named Zebra helping you.

Just look at half-elves. They get a free Skill Focus feat at creation. Make that Skill Focus: Knowledge (any of your choice) and then as your level 1 Feat you take Eldritch Heritage/Arcane Bloodline to get a familiar. Boom. You have a feat that represents magic flowing through your veins and that also gives you your familiar. Now all you need are some powers to master, whether that be from Wizard, Arcanist, Magus, a Rogue that will eventually take Minor and Major Magic talents, Bard, the Witch archetype that gets a book instead of a familiar, and so on.

On the other hand you could do the same thing with a human, just use the bonus feat as your skill focus. Another way to prove this concept would be to play a class that gets a familiar. A witch with a patron could be reskinned to be explained as a witch whose body is somehow connected to a universal well of arcane energies that provides them with the arcane bond to a familiar that, in turn, instructs the witch on what else they can do with the powerful radiation flowing through them.

On yet ANOTHER hand, I once made a game where sorcerers were basically mutants from the Marvel comics. They don't necessarily have spells, but rather super powers they can briefly manifest and grow stronger as they gain experience. They're born that way though, and their bloodline alters their body as well as giving them powers. To keep true to the comics, in that campaign sorcerers were hated and feared by the general populace.

In fact, taking THAT concept one step further, what if sorcerers got their powers the same way super heroes do in the comics? Some are born with their "bloodline", but others might have been dropped into a vat of fleshwarping chemicals and now have the Aberrant bloodline, representing how after their accident they can now spit acid all day (Acid Splash cantrip), a few times/day vomit a huge blast of acid (bloodline power), and also leap great distances (Jump Spell), exude acid from their hands (Corrosive Touch spell) or even elongate their own rubbery limbs (Longarm spell). You could have such a PC play whatever race but give them a scarred, "aberrant" appearance, dress them in a mask and cape, and boom, you've got what the Marvel Super Heroes game back in the 80's would call an "Altered Human" origin super hero.

I know I kind of wandered off topic there, sorry. Hopefully this gives you enough to chew on for Remlin. Also, if you don't call him Remlin the Gremlin at some point, I'm calling this a missed opportunity! :)

This game never had a session 0, nor anything resembling CATS. I suspect the DM is fully making all of this up as he goes along, or for the stuff he does have a map for all he's prepped is the absolute bare minimum.

I've said in another thread, I need to be done with this game. It's not the system, it's for sure the DM. My biggest complaint is that I beg for info, the DM is intentionally vague, and with an incomplete picture of what's going on I blunder into a situation.

Once I'm either in the midst of the situation or immediately after, I learn more info; descriptions of rooms, backstory of ruins, and so on. AFTER I learn this greater information, I realize that not only should I have had this info beforehand but it may have informed my decision to be IN this situation in the first place.

The biggest example is the whole basis for Crystal Falls in the first place. My PC interrogated 2 NPCs in a scene before tending to a diseased NPC. Said interrogations yielded NO info. I tend to the patient, he rouses for a few seconds, and he mutters the name of a ruin.

After that revelation, THEN the same 2 NPCs are like "oh, he said 'Crystal Falls?' All that is is this ruined town nearby. Come to think of it though, it DOES have this healing font that can cure any disease. Think THAT's why he said it?"

But even MORE than that...

1. My PC is a local wilderness guide; the DM later revealed to me I've BEEN to outskirts of Crystal Falls

2. In the backstory we learned later, the town was ruined by orc attacks. Said attacks occurred "a few decades ago." My PC has, in his backstory, a group of orcs that destroyed his homeland 40 years ago. There's no relation between the 2

3. My PC is trained with Proficiency in both Medicine and Religion. The Paladin also has proficiency in Religion. The people of Crystal Falls were really religious, what with this healing fountain in the caves at the edge of town. Our PCs knew NONE of this until the TOWN PRIEST told us later

My point here is that if we'd had prior knowledge of the setting, things our PCs could easily have known, like ruined religious sites close by where supernatural healing flows from the very rock, this may have influenced our choices and actions, led to more independent thought and less "hand holding" by the DM.

And that's just it. In an email last night my DM said, among other things, he is deliberately vague with info SO THAT we players have to ask more questions and make more choices, thus he has to hand hold us less.

What? Begging for info to be spoon fed to us by random NPCs, and only AFTER specific trigger events like another diseased NPC mutters the name of a ruin, is, like, the DEFINITION of hand holding!

Ever walk outside on a cool night when your neighbors are having a bonfire or burning wood in their fireplace? You can smell the wood smoke on the breeze from a few doors down. Our characters came to a dungeon door, 10' from where a fire was supposedly "ROARING" in the fireplace, and inspected the heck out of the door and the frame. NEITHER of us smelled smoke, heard the crackle of the fire, saw the flicker under the door, and so on.

Now, in THAT instance it didn't end up having a game impact, but this is the DM I'm dealing with. He purposely omits or spoon feeds us info that our PCs could EASILY have already known or at least suspected, based not only on our stats and mechanics but from the actions we state that we're taking, and then GASLIGHTS me into thinking I'M the crazy one for questioning his...

Enough. I'm ranting. I'm quitting this game. He and I are supposed to have dinner tomorrow night, I'm telling him then. It sucks, b/c it's gonna cause problems in a couple friendships but at this point I'm so done with the whole thing.

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Interesting Character wrote:

Um, have any of you ever played with no rules at all, no dice, no mechanics, no character sheets, just a circle of chairs and talking through the game? (table rules, such as excluding explicit content, do not count)

As adults in a choose-your-own-adventure style game I mean.

My next older brother Matt and I played this style of game between ourselves, right up until about a month before he passed at the age of 20. We called them "Matches and Markles" games. Neither of us had any idea that this was an established game system at the time; at age 10 and 8 respectively, we thought we invented it.

We did it out of necessity at first. Our parents split when we were little kids and my brothers and I played D&D as one of many coping mechanisms. My dad was... less than accepting of game books with demon statues on the front of them, so we couldn't bring the game to his house, so we'd hide in our room when we were stuck at his house, imagining whole dungeons and playing together.

Now, we BASED the game motifs and style after D&D at first. As we learned other games, including video games, we incorporated those into our M&M games. And when I say "incorporated" I mean plagiarized.

After we learned Runequest 1e, suddenly we imagined dragonnewts. After Star Frontiers became a thing on our radar, some of our characters became amorphous aliens. We brought in elements of Marvel Super Heroes, Intelevision and Atari games, the Myth series by Robert Lynn Asprin, and so on.

Thing is, these games worked b/c my brother and I were bonded so close, being 2 years apart and surviving the shared trauma of a sometimes abusive dad in part through these games, that basically all we were doing was acting in each other's stories. We were almost a singular mind.

I tried M&M games with my high school friends and only 2 people ever got into them. One, my buddy Dave, is basically like another brother to me and we remain best friends to this day. The other was a guy named Karl who is now a professional stage actor in Chicago.

I have no idea how I'd make these games work now, as a 46 year old man. In order for them to flow the way they used to and play out as seamlessly as they did, my fellow players would have to consent to anything I choose to introduce and me, them. We'd have to all be able to imagine and clearly communicate the exact same scenes and scenarios, and then find a way to mutually agree to some form of conflict resolution.

In classic M&M games with my brother, we basically had an unspoken rule that we later termed the Rule of Mel. Mel Gibson was a big figure in our action films as kids and we especially liked how in the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series his characters were always like an underdog type that would get the snot beat out of him but prevail at the zero hour. And ALWAYS his character would end up looking both horrible and spectacular at the same time, like as if the mud from the puddle he was nearly drowned in clung to JUST the right spots to make him look even cooler!

So... that was our mechanic for conflict resolution: a shared love of Mel Gibson action movies from the 80's. In other words, your proposed solution only worked if it somehow positioned you as some epic underdog, surviving the worst of what was thrown at you and making some "hail Mary" type effort, and only if you would end up looking or seeming epic after pulling this off.

Again, I have no confidence this game would work now.

After Matt passed away, I didn't have the heart to run these games anymore, even with Karl and Dave. I have since worked The Staff of Matches, the Ring of Mel, and the Array of Vic DuChance (one of his last M&M characters, who in turn was based on a combo of Rifts and Cyberpunk 2020) as unique, legendary items into TTRPGs I've run.

Nostalgia aside, I guess my point is that even as kids Matt and I were stealing from other games to build some kind of game mechanic that worked for us. The other diceless RPGs I know, or rather the TWO I know, which are a diceless version of Vampire: the Masquerade and Amber, both have at least SOME mechanics to guide the players to some kind of mutually agreed upon system.

If you want to use the D20 system to do the same thing, you can. Or really ANY system for that matter. You just need to have trust and vulnerability with the other assembled players and a mutual agreement to the shared fantasy you're collectively creating.

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The last Gencon I went to was in 2000 when they announced 3rd edition. I remember all us nobodies that weren't keeping up with current events were freaking out when they were like "HUGE announcement in the Great Hall!"

I ran in, super excited and BAM! There's Gary Gygax on stage, helping to roll out something called D&D 3rd Edition! I even got a shirt for attending the event.

Thing is... I'd only made the switch fully to 2e just a few years earlier. I wasn't super pumped for it. Because of that I ducked out of the hall soon after the initial announcement.

Outside I decided to cut behind the hall, across the campus and get back to the games area to try and make it early for my next event. I see this big crowd of folks crowding around a rear exit. I walk over and about 20' ahead of me, through the crowd is Gary Gygax himself!

I just remember him answering one person's question about whether to switch to 3e or not. I'm paraphrasing, my memory isn't perfect, but he just kept implying that we should play the game we want because, after all, EVERY version of D&D we play is OUR game.

Somehow, coming from Gary it was like a life lesson. Make the game your own; OWN your game. I never went back to Gencon and only started going to cons again at all when I moved to a town in MN where they hold a convention about a mile from my house.

Nowadays I go to Con of the North to network with friends and play game demos. I learned how much I love Zombicide at CotN. Otherwise the rest of any con is kind of lost on me.

I will admit, the only thing I wish I could do these days is attend Paizocon. I have no other reason than to meet Jason B and others in person and thank them, out loud, for a fantastic game. I've done so on these forums and in a letter, but It'd be nice to fanboy in person just once.

I don't need to go out for scotch with them. I don't need special DMing advice in a VIP panel. I like them for the product they gave me, not for any personal inspiration the creative team offers me.

In fact, in threads here it seems my design philosophy is often at odds with the folks that conceptualized Golarion. I'd dare say that MY PF 1e game is different than that of the original creative team.

That's ok. A guy once told me to own MY game.

QB: with all due respect, please stop quoting the stats for France and Sweden. Anyone that's read this thread from the time that quarantine started in the USA knows that you're a big fan of Sweden and seem to crow about France's challenges.

I'm a resident of the US. Now that I'm in quarantine and working from home I've got the news on constantly. While I don't always have the current numbers, I know what's happening here, in France and in Sweden. I have my own opinions on those situations.

However, you quoting them to me adds nothing to my understanding of human influenced climate change. Further, the constant singling out of France's misfortune only makes me want to sympathize with them more.

As it is my heart is already bleeding for the over 210,000 American families who have lost loved ones in this pandemic. I have a friend that had mild symptoms but she is ok now, though we're watching for serious long-term challenges. I also family member who is a partner in a pediatric practice. She has had to quarantine several times now and every time thank goodness she's tested negative, but these scares all take a toll.

If you enjoy comparing the victories or failures of governmental policies controlling the spread of this pandemic then please continue to do so but unless there is a direct, quantifiable climate change impact related to how well France or Sweden is doing with their infection or death per capita, or how their respective economies are faring as a result, please stop posting these updates here.

Thank you, and I look forward to more thought provoking debate about the role of human impact on climate change!

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When did gaslighting become a national pastime? Maybe it always has and I've been missing it all this time.

My ex gaslights me all the time, claiming issues she's clearly exacerbating with the kids are my fault.

Politics... just know its a thing on all sides.

My own siblings recently tried to gaslight me into thinking I'M the crazy one for not rebuilding a relationship with a dad who has abused me as a little kid and then shamed and tried to diminish me most of my adult life.

Last night my DM started gaslighting me. I've gone back and forth with him on issues, specifically on railroading. He is telling me that he's NOT railroading the PCs since 1. no one/nothing in game is FORCING us on the missions we've undertaken and 2. last session he gave us a roadside ruin, with no explanation, and we CHOSE to explore it so... not railroading.

the game opened with our characters in a small town neither of them are from, at the bedside of the town's wise elder, who had mysteriously contracted a disease overnight that now had him in a coma. My character gets a phenomenal success for the system (5e) on a skill check... no diagnosis, no cure.

The other PC, a paladin, has a cure disease ability at level 1; fails. All nearby NPCs are despairing that the town will fold if the elder goes down. Elder wakens momentarily to mutter the name of a nearby ruin, which JUST HAPPENS to have a legendary magic font that can cure ANY wound or disease.

Asking around the ONLY thing the NPCs know is that there's a ruin, and the font there cures their elder. In other words, the ONLY plot hook we have as the game opens is save the elder; the ONLY solution our level 1 characters could possibly pull off is go find the magic font.

As the game has progressed we saved the elder who instantly awoke and knew everything that was going on apparently. This was followed up with the elder handing us a letter and telling us we're the ONLY mortals powerful enough to get this very important letter to the elder's associate in a city to the north.

We ask around the town again: there are no local rumors, no gossip from traders in the harbor, nothing else to indicate that ANYTHING else is going on in the game world. With no other plot hooks we head north, notice some ruins, and veer off the road to check it out. The last session ended with us saving some myconoids from some invading goblins, and we got a bunch of treasure

So as you can see from the spoiler, our 2 PCs don't have a crossbow to our heads that we HAVE to complete these missions, but after specific attempts to find OTHER plot hooks there's no other obvious things for us to do. Also, in both missions a sense of desperation and urgency are being heaped on the quests.

Despite all of this, we got a random ruin to explore so... no railroading.

Treat me like a grown up. Be honest, admit what you're doing and own it. I'd have more respect for the DM if he just stated "I'm running a linear game where I want you to work the PCs into a larger plot of helping this elder save the world from a great evil" rather than shoehorning us into this weird plot and then telling ME that I'M the one with the problem.

Freehold DM wrote:


Reached out to my boss boss. She suggested I meet with my staff and put everything in writing so we can all go over it with boss to get some questions answered. Will be meeting with my staff later on today and see about putting everything down on paper.

Good luck FH and I really hope it all works out for you. Speaking from personal experience, that is a really tough situation to be in. Thanks for showing us all how its done with grace FH, and again, fingers crossed.

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