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In playing Pathfinder 2nd Edition, I occasionally encountered gaps in the rules regarding non-humanoid characters. The Pathfinder Core Rulebook, including the newer Player Core, has only humanoid ancestries, so the rules were written for humanoids. It assumes that characters eat every day, sleep every day, manipulate objects with two hands, walk on two feet, breathe air, hold their breath in water, etc.

For example, during the playtest of the Summoner class, I created a summoner with a beast eidolon in the shape of a goat, Cirieo Thessadin, Summoner. What can the goat Fluffy do with its abilities? Can it climb? A Goat animal companion, published years later in Highhelm has Climb 15 feet. But that is a Climb Speed. Without a Climb Speed, the Climb action requires two free hands. Goats lack hands. On the other hand, maybe Fluffy has hands, because I am merely roleplaying that the beast eidolon is a goat, and officially the rules say nothing about whether a beast eidolon has hands or functional substitutes for hands or nothing.

The party in that game later gained a new player character who was a leshy. Do leshies bleed? They have no blood. Well, they have no immunity to bleeding, so by PF2 rules they do bleed. We decided that they bleed sap.

I wrote of this issue before in Starfinder 2e classes and Pathfinder 2e classes? comment #36, where I have some other examples.

Ordinarily, I could simply make table rulings to fit each non-humanoid character into humanoid-based rules, but in December we started playing Starfinder. My players love the weird aliens. They are playing an alate formian, an entu colony, a kiirinta, a stellifera, a strix, a vlaka, and a witchwyrd. The strix, vlaka, and witchwyerd are humanoid if we ignore the wings on the strix and the extra arms on the witchwyrd. The entu colony keeps to a humanoid shape by flowing inside humanoid space armor, and the stellifera mimics a humanoid form with its hydrobody. But the formian and the kiirinta are more insectoid than humanoid. I would prefer that these species fit the rules smoothly rather than awkwardly, and not always by pretending to be humanoid as the entu colony and the stellifera do.

My players have envisioned NPCs as non-humaniods, too. In Skitter Crash the PCs needed to find an osharu research station after they crashed on Varkulon 4. I said, "You see some boot prints." But the module described the osharu as "Several years ago, a cadre of sluglike osharu (Starfinder Alien Archive 2 92) scientists discovered this anomaly and established a research base on Varkulon 4 to study the Drift cyclones, as they named the storms," and I had used that same "sluglike" adjective in my description. The players pointed out that sluglike people would not have feet and would not leave boot prints. So I corrected myself, "You see the gastropod trail marks of an osharu."

Skitter Crash had a head picture of osharu scientist Ponatia as its only illustration of an osharu, but after that session I went to Archives of Nethys's entry Osharu to find a picture for other osharu. I saw that osharu walked on two legs, just like humans. So I asked my wife: did she prefer osharu as gastropods or should I revert to the official two-legged version? She preferred gastropods, writing, "I like thinking of them as gastropods, imagining how such a being would evolve and how they would cope with the technological advances needed to be spacefaring." I made tokens for other osharu by modifying a line drawing of a sea slug. My players declared the cartoon drawing to be cute.

I am an experienced GM in Pathfinder, both 1st and 2nd Edition, but now I want to try out Starfinder. I have planned a mini-campaign using four consecutive Free RPG Day modules, Skitter Shot, Skitter Crash, Skitter Home, and Skitter Warp.

Once we have that bit of practice with Starfinder, I will start a Starfinder Adventure Path.

I am letting my players construct their own characters and none have chosen the pregenerated Skittermanders. Also, I have 7 players, so I will need to boost the difficulty a little, but having a cakewalk for Skitter Shot would not be bad. One player is new to tabletop RPGs and the other six are as experienced with PF1 and PF2 as I am.

Does anyone have advice for us?

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By a marvelous coincidence, my gaming group ended our PF2-converted Ironfang Invasion campaign on Friday, August 25, 2023 and planned Session Zero for A Fistful of Flowers and A Few Flowers More on Friday, September 1. Thus, our short new campaign coincides with the playtest. We have seven players consisting of six people from the Ironfang Invasion campaign and one person who never played tabletop roleplaying games before. We replaced the four 3rd-level pregenerated leshy PCs in Fistful of Flowers with seven 2nd-level leshy PCs.

Our Session Zero was on the day the playtest document was released, We had watched the Thursday video about the Animist and Exemplar, so had a little warning, but not the detailed mechanics, so no-one had committed to the classes before Session Zero. Fortunately, two players decided to run playtest characters.

The PCs are:
Dashing Rings fungus leshy rogue (pregenerated Reaching Rings reduced to 2nd level for the new player),
Blade Slinger vine leshy swashbuckler,
Grothnar pine leshy barbarian,
Misteria vine leshy psychic,
Monet lotus leshy kineticist,
Nightshade duskwalker leshy exemplar,
Sunshine sunflower leshy animist (sunflower heritage based on Sunflower Leshy, creature 1,).

Sunshine's player did have a rule question. A feat referred to "your spells" and she wondered whether that meant only the Animist spells or both the Animist and Apparition spells.

She also had to download the Remaster Core Preview document to understand the names telekinetic hand (renamed mage hand) and entangling flora (renamed entangle). I had already explained how positive and negative energy were renamed vitality and void.

Despite that, she was quite excited about the lore of the class and wrote up a detailed backstory for Sunshine.

Sunshine's player wrote:

The Story of Sunny

Sunshine started life as a sunflower in the garden of the lonely widow Eleanor. Sunny was a particularly large and healthy sunflower plant. Eleanor talked to all of her plants, but developed a particularly fond relationship with Sunny - enough that she began to see Sunny more and more as a companion. One day, on the anniversary of her husband's untimely death, when Elinor was particularly stricken by grief, Sunny found herself coming to life. She went to Eleanor, who was crying alone inside the cottage. Sunny stood beside the window, where she could pick up enough sunshine to reflect it to her friend. Eleanor looked up to see her favorite sunflower casting sunshine on her. Sunny started to talk for the first time: "It'll be all right. We have each other. I won't leave you." She wrapped her tendrils around Eleanor in a hug.

Together, they happily tended the gardens for many decades, until Eleanor eventually reached the end of her natural human life span. Sunny became despondent for a while, having lost her only friend. But more and more, she started feeling that Eleanor hadn't really moved on to another plane.

Eleanor, in the meantime, initially found herself a very weak spirit. She had always been of the Green Faith, so had no real connection to any of the deities or outer planes - so her spirit clung to her best friend, her sunflower plant leshy, Sunny. As time passed, she gradually strengthened. She wanted more than anything to be able to communicate with Sunny, to re-establish the bond they'd had.

On the anniversary of Eleanor's death, Sunny was particularly sad. Until she suddenly heard Eleanor's voice in her head: "It'll be all right. We have each other. I won't leave you." Sunny leapt with joy, glowing with sunshine; seeds flying like rain.

Eleanor's contact gave Sunny the ability to communicate with other spirits as well, and since then, some have gotten in touch with her who also wanted to become real leshies.

So they let the old garden go wild, took some cuttings so they could establish some of their favorite plants wherever they wandered, and went out to find new plant bodies for their new spirit friends - until they met Monet, and found a new home.

Note: Sunny's story was inspired by our campaign, Fistful of Flowers, beginning just as the new playtest for Animist class is about to start - combined with Erin allowing me to play a Sunflower Leshy, which is usually reserved for monsters - and the "Wished Alive" background was the final spark. "Eleanor" is named after Eleanor Rigby.

Alas, managing the details of Animist class were too complex and she did not have her character 100% finished before the first game session on Tuesday, September 5.

Nightshade's player has not discussed her exemplar. She lives in another state, so I don't talk to her face to face. We play via Roll20 with Discord handling our voices and out-of-game text discussions. She did create a Roll20 character sheet for Nightshade, so I will present the build in my next comment.

I spent the few days before the first play session making maps for every encounter for Roll20 rather than reading the playtest document about the Animist and Exemplar, so I lack my own opinion about those classes.

The player character Twining Gold-Flame Honeysuckle in my PF2-converted Ironfang Invasion campaign has a curious backstory. She started as an ordinary twining gold-flame honeysuckle vine in the fey-infested Fangwood Forest. A wandering druid awakened her as a leshy familiar. Honey and the druid traveled around the villages in and near the Fangwood as healers. Bandits killed the druid, but Honey survived and became a leshy character rather than reverting to an unintelligent plant. She studied the bandits from hiding--giving her the Criminal background--and killed them off. Then she resumed making the rounds to the villages as a healer until at 6th level she had to rescue some villagers from the Ironfang Invasion, met the party, and joined them.

Honey was so accustomed to being a familiar that she attached herself to the catfolk monk in the party and declared that she was his familiar.

Later, in Prisoners of the Blight the party rescued the goddess Gendowyn, Lady of Fangwood, from captivity. While that happened at the end of the module, I altered events so that the party got to spend some time with Gendowyn. She had been a glaistig, a kind of long-lived fey, from the First World, moved to Golarion, planted and tended the Fangwood Forest, and founded the Accressiel Court as a home for fey in the Fangwood.

Prisoners of the Blight, Gendowyn NPC gallery entry, page 55 wrote:

Proud and possessed of strong emotions, Gendowyn

considered all the glaistigs of Golarion to be her sisters, and so when the tyrant Treerazer slew Hephloma, guardian of the Fierani Forest, in 2506 AR, Gendowyn gathered her Accressiel Court into a fey army and marched against the nascent demon lord. Though their battles slew many in Treerazer’s cults—even capturing a legendary weapon, the Spiteful Scimitar—Gendowyn was eventually turned back, bearing several festering wounds from Treerazer that took the self-proclaimed earth goddess decades to fully heal.

Somehow, Gendowyn had become a goddess simply from tending and guarding the Fangwood and its fey for millennia. Or maybe fighting Treerazer had something to do with her godhood.

Honey expressed an interest in becoming a god herself, the god of familiars.

I considered that and realized that it would solve a major philosophical problem in my campaign. The religion of Hadregash, the pro-slavery barghest hero-god, would prevent a treaty to end the Ironfang Invasion because the followers of Hadregash would not give up the human war captives that they claimed as slaves. I needed to take the religion of Hadregash down a notch. I decided that if Honey became a godling, then Hadregash could show up to battle her--and lose.

And that worked. The 19th-level party fought a 23rd-level avatar of Hadregash and won. Hadregash would survive, but his clerics lost their divine powers for a day. And he would have to give up being a god of slavery and instead become a god of fighting for dominance.

The Godhood archetype is still a first draft and Honey has barely had time to test it. But two other discussions on the forum relate to it, so I am posting it now.

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This post grew out of a side topic around the 1600th comment in the Pathfinder Second Edition Remaster Project discussion thread. Some people suggested moving the discussion to its own thread, which I started to do. But several errands yesterday and today delayed me. In the meanwhile, the side discussion was erased. I am trying to write this thread as a tutorial to avoid further controversy. And I begin with math and history because I like math and history.

When Pathfinder 1st Edition was published in 2009, it was largely based on the Open Gaming License parts of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 but it has several improvements. And the most mathematically elegant of those improvements was exponential leveling.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition has quadratic leveling: 0 xp to start at 1st level, 1000 xp to reach 2nd level, 3000 xp for 3rd level, 6000 xp for 4th level, 10000 for 5th level, and so on, following the formula that 500n(n-1) xp would reach nth level. This meant that the gap between (n-1)st level and nth level was 1000n xp, a linear progression. Matching this, earning a new level progresses linearly, too. A 1st-level party defeating a CR 1 monster earns 75 xp, a 2nd-level party defeating a 2nd-level monster earns 150 xp, a 3rd-level party defeating a CR 3 monster earns 225 xp, a 4th-level party defeating a CR 4 monster earns 300 xp, etc. Or the 1st-level party could face one CR 1 monster for 75 xp, a 2nd-level party could face two CR 1 monsters for 150 xp, a 3rd-level party could face three CR 1 monsters for 225 xp, and a 4th-level party could face four CR 1 monsters for 300 xp.

Alas, the difference between a 6th-level party fighting six CR 1 wolves or seven CR 1 wolves does not feel significant. Because it isn't significant, it is only a 16% difference in difficulty. Encounter design did not have to care about the difference. At higher levels, the percentage difference between consecutive Challenge Ratings got smaller. And since the challenges did not grow much, Dungeons & Dragons did not have to offer much to new levels. Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 character classes have a few levels in which no new special features were added and only a tiny set of bonuses improved. We call them "dead levels."

With Pathfinder's exponential leveling, each new level is 41.4% more powerful than the previous level. Therefore, every new level feels powerful. This is much more exciting! I even started a thread about it in the PF2 playtest, The Mind-Boggling Math of Exponential Leveling. 41.4% means that the next level is 141.4% as strong, the level after that is 200% as strong (because 1.414 is the square root of 2), the level after that is 282.8% as strong, and continues in exponential growth of power.

The flip side of that exponential growth in power is that the foes of the party have the same growth. A creature of level N+2 will be twice as dangerous as a creature of level N. A single creature four levels above the party's level will be as powerful as the entire party of four adventurers. This makes encounters with higher-level creatures very risky for the party. A GM with linear progression of risk can afford to be sloppy, but a GM with exponential progression of risk has to be careful to avoid a Total Party Kill.

Thus, Pathfinder 2nd Edition explains five different categories of risk in the Core Rulebook's Building Encounters section: Trivial Threat, Low Threat, Moderate Threat, Severe Threat, and Extreme Threat.
Trivial Threat means the party will win. The threat is one-quarter the power of the party or even weaker, so one party member could face the brunt of the threat and still win due to minor support from teammates.
Low Threat is stronger than a single party member but weaker than two party members. Thus, abysmal tactics or the dice acting hatefully could risk one party member being knocked unconscious. Reasonable tactics with average dice rolls will be victorious will little loss of resources. A party could face a dozen Low Threat encounters in a row and have to stop only due to eventual bad luck on the dice rolls.
Moderate Threat is half as strong as the party. The party is well favored to win, but they will take their bruises in the effort and have to spend resources such as spell slots. A GM should provide a safe opportunity to rest after one or two Moderate Threat encounters.
Severe Threat means 75% as strong as the party. This will be a tough fight. The party is still favored to win, but they will be so worn out from the fight that they can face only Low and Trivial Threats afterwards.
Extreme Threat is the mirror match where the enemy is exactly as strong as the party. If both sides use good tactics, then the dice will decide who wins.
Beyond-Extreme Threat is not an official threat category, but sometimes the enemy is stronger than the party. My players have defeated enemies this strong, but they had a method of dividing the enemy into smaller, manageable pieces. And they planned an exit strategy in case the tide of battle let the enemy regroup at full strength.

To illustrate the separation between threat catagories, let's count wolves. To a 3rd-level party, a 1st-level wolf is worth 20 xp. Two wolves at 40 xp total are a trivial threat. Three wolves at 60 xp are a low threat. Four wolves at 80 xp are a moderate threat. Six wolves at 120 xp are a severe threat. And eight wolves at 160 xp are an extreme threat. Next, consider how a classic party of fighter, cleric, rogue, and wizard would deal with three wolves. The fighter and the cleric would stand as a front line to protect the wizard and the rogue would circle around to flank. The two frontliners could prevent a Pack Attack that requires three wolves next to one target by splitting the three wolves between them. The wolves would advance and attempt a jaws attack with Knockdown, followed by another jaws attack if successful. Since the wolves have 24 hp each, the combat will last long enough for some successful knockdowns. But the fighter and cleric can get back up. The fighter and the rogue with the wizard throwing cantrips from a safe distance focus on one wolf and take it down. Then the wolves are less of a problem and they can focus on another. The frontliners will lose a few hp, but a fighter with about 30 hp is just down a little and maybe they can take 10 minutes for Treat Wounds. Add a fourth wolf, and the knockdowns become more frequent or maybe the fourth wolf bypasses the front line to harass the wizard. That makes the fight more difficult, up to moderate threat. Add a fifth and sixth wolf, and we guarantee frequent knockdowns and a wolf attacking the wizard. The wizard won't throw mere cantrips at that Moderate Threat risk. He will use 2nd-level spells. But with eight wolves, the cleric and wizard might run out of hit points before the battle is over, so two PCs will have to finish off the remaining wolves alone. Each wolf gives the pack more of an edge, though to overwhelm the party the GM has to add pairs of wolves. Remember, one pair of wolves is as strong as any single 3rd-level party member.

However, imagine that the wolves were not balanced precisely, say we had a homebrew Deepforest Wolf that was 33% stronger than a plain Wolf, but the GM mistook it for 1st-level creature regardless. Three Deepforest Wolves would be a Moderate Threat rather than a Low Threat. Four Deepforest Wolves would be between a Moderate Threat and a Severe Threat. Five Deepforest Wolves would be a Severe Threat. Six Deepforest Wolves would be an Extreme Threat rather than a Severe Threat. A series of encounters with Deepforest Wolves designed to give a fairly safe Low Threat impression of a dangerous forest would really be a gauntlet of Moderate Threat encounters that would wear down and destroy the party.

The threat system lets the GM design appropriate encounters, easy or tough as the GM chooses, that avoid Total Party Kills despite the inherent risk in exponential leveling. However, the threat system requires being able to judge the threat accurately. Fortunately, the so-called tight math in Pathfinder 2nd Edition gives such accuracy that the monster designers are not going to make a terrible 33% error. And the Building Creatures guidelines and the Building Hazards guidelines lets the GMs themselves create homebrew creatures and hazards with accurate danger ratings, too. A 1st-level creature is close (10% accuracy) to as strong as a 1st-level creature ought to be. A 2nd-level creature is 41.4% stronger than 1st level, and a 3rd-level creature is twice as strong as 1st level, accurately.

With Paizo saying that the witch class will be slightly improved in the upcoming Pathfinder Player Core rulebook, and some related threads started about this, I have been wondering about familiars. They seem to exist in a weird place, a class feature that resembles a creature but is not fully a creature.

I started analyzing the minion trait in my thread, The Minion Trait, in the Homebrew and House Rules subforum. The mathematics for minion trait are well balanced for animal companions and hired NPCs. But the trait does not seem to fit familiars. For further analysis, I should learn more about the role that familiars have served in the game, both PF1 and PF2. Could you please tell the stories of your and your friends' familiars in your games? Why are familiars fun? If they weren't fun, how could they be fun?

I myself played a GMPC Val Baine in the PF1 Iron Gods adventure path who at 7th level gained a clockwork familiar with the Valet archetype, shaped like a toy dragon, and named Sparky. Four of the five party members--bloodrager Val Baine, magus Elric, gunslinger Boffin, and fighter/investigator Kheld--were heavily into crafting. Since Val was an NPC, I focused on her as a assistant. She tried to be helpful in six different kinds of crafting: alchemy, armor, bow, mechanical, tools, and weapons. Each specialty required its own skill ranks, so she was happy to acquire Sparky who gave a +2 bonus to crafting checks regardless of specialty. She trained in a seventh specialty, craft(clockwork), to keep Sparky in good condition.

She and Sparky would work together in a secret workshop making all sorts of items. Val even had the Technologist and Craft Technological Items feats to repair the Androffan high technology found in Numeria. In addition, bloodragers lack cantrips (though Val got some by other means), but Sparky's valet archetype game him Prestidigitation to help clean up.

Yet in Numeria, the evil Technic League tried to maintain a monopoly on Addroffan technology. Thus, the party hid their high tech whenever they visited home in the town of Torch. Though Sparky was clockwork rather than high technology, he was too much a clue that the party was digging into restricted knowledge, so Val had to keep Sparky's clockwork secret. She sewed a fur costume for Sparky to disguise him as a ferret. The costume would not fool everyone, but Sparky stayed in his familiar satchel so no-one got a close look.

Sparky rode in full glory on Val's shoulder when she was out adventuring with all her technological gear in full display. He had no abilities to help in combat. He was just her silent buddy helping her look cool. Val tried Improved Spell Sharing (Teamwork) so that Sparky could participate more, but it didn't work out.

A discussion in the PF2 General Discussion subforum, Avoiding slavery related terms with familiars? had an insightful revelation from graystone:

graystone wrote:
3-Body Problem wrote:
A familiar isn't an equal partner and is bound to the character that has them as a class feature. Unless you object to owning a pet or being a dog's master I don't see how a familiar, at least under default rules, is much different.
It's a byproduct of the minion trait: Minion by common use is "a follower or underling of a powerful person, especially a servile or unimportant one." IE, A loyal servant of another, usually a more powerful being [master]. Master works just fine with a servant so there is no slave relationship required. For instance, you'll see Alfred will refer to Bruce Wayne as "Master Wayne" in the comics and movies with no connotation of slavery. It's just what a good traditional British servant [Butler, Housekeeper, Chef, ect] does.

The Minion trait leaves the minion without their own agency.

Core Rulebook wrote:


Source Core Rulebook pg. 634 4.0
Minions are creatures that directly serve another creature. A creature with this trait can use only 2 actions per turn, doesn't have reactions, and can't act when it's not your turn. Your minion acts on your turn in combat, once per turn, when you spend an action to issue it commands. For an animal companion, you Command an Animal; for a minion that's a spell or magic item effect, like a summoned minion, you Sustain a Spell or Sustain an Activation; if not otherwise specified, you issue a verbal command as a single action with the auditory and concentrate traits. If given no commands, minions use no actions except to defend themselves or to escape obvious harm. If left unattended for long enough, typically 1 minute, mindless minions usually don't act, animals follow their instincts, and sapient minions act how they please. A minion can't control other creatures.

Most abilities that put a creature in minion status add some NPC agency back again. For example, summoned creatures are minions, but the summoned trait states, "If you can communicate with it, you can attempt to command it, but the GM determines the degree to which it follows your commands." Animal companions and familiars lack such mitigation. This robs them of displaying any personality beyond loyalty.

My PF2 players have had no familiars, but three of the seven PCs have animal companions. The first was a goblin champion Tikti who joined the party at 3rd level with her velociraptor animal companion Liklik, gained through flexibility on the champion steed ally.

We soon discovered that the minion rules for Liklik did not feel right. They were fine for combat where Tikti would spend one Command action to give Liklik two actions for the combat, especially since Tikti was built for defense and Liklik was built for offense so they worked as a team. But sometimes Tikti teamed up to defend a party member, and then Liklik would freeze in place mindlessly. Or the party could advance to another room while still in encounter mode, and Liklik would not automatically follow like she did in exploration mode.

Liklik needed some natural actions of her own to feel like a velociraptor. Therefore, we created a houserule. If Tikti did not command Liklik, then the GM could direct Liklik for an action of her own. The player and I worked out which actions would fit Liklik and not unbalance the game. Liklik liked to stay near Tikti, so she could Stride to follow Tikti. Liklik liked to lick weird objects, so Liklik could Interact to lick something not dangerous. Liklik could Step away from danger. Liklik could perform other actions if both of us agreed that it fit her.

Later, the gnome stormborn druid Stormdancer acquired a fledgling roc animal companion named Roxie. The module had three hobgoblin rangers with fledgling roc animal companions the size of big hawks that acted like big hawks. I decided to make the fledgling rocs Large size and gave them an attack consisting of grabbing an enemy, flying up 20 feet, and dropping them. After the fight, in which two rangers died and one ranger fled with his bird, Stormdancer adopted the two orphaned rocs as pets. A few levels later at 8th level, Rocky had a new home and Roxie was Stormdancer's official animal companion. The player had studiously roleplayed Stormdancer caring for those birds.

The party had seven members by then, which meant that most travel magic could not handle the entire party. Instead, the sorcerer conjured Phantom Steeds for faster travel. except that by them Tikti could ride Liklik and the monk could Stride as fast as a horse. I worked out a variant on Stormwind Flight that let Stormdancer ride Roxie in flight for long-distance travel at speed 50 feet (same as Liklik's speed). Roxie was Stormdancer's dedicated mount and never fought in combat directly.

The Fly action has the clause, "If you’re airborne at the end of your turn and didn’t use a Fly action this round, you fall." When Stormdancer was riding Roxie, he would use his third action to command Roxie to Fly. But when Stormdancer was on foot, he would use his third action to Stride for himself. Stormdancer's player took Mature Animal Companion (Druid) as soon as possible, which gave Roxie an independent action on Stormdancer's turn, but only to Stride or Strike. By the Rules as Written, Roxie would fall to the ground at the end of Stormdancer's turn because she did not Fly. The alternative is that she would be on the ground all the time, leaving her vulnerable to enemy minions. My minion-trait houserule let Roxie take a Fly action every turn. (Of course, I could have instead houseruled Mature Animal Companion (Druid) to allowing Flying, but I already had the minion-trait houserule.)

When the party encountered a Jubjub Bird right before 16th level, the gnome rogue Binny said, "I want to tame it." Everyone was trained in Nature and she succeeded. For the next game session, Binny took Mammoth Lord archetype to claim Jubby as her animal companion, and Jubby had shrunk to Large size. Binny's combat style is to Hide and shoot arrows, so Jubby uses their independent action to Hide along with her rather than Stride or Strike.

I have been running this houserule informally, but I should formalize it for this post.

Minion (Alternative)
Based on Minion, Core Rulebook pg. 634 4.0
Minions are creatures devoted to following another creature. A creature with this trait can use at most 2 actions per turn, doesn't have reactions, and takes its actions during your turn. During encounter mode, you may Command a Minion as one action with the auditory and concentrate traits that grants your minion two actions to use immediately as you command. For a minion that's a spell or magic item effect, such as a summoned creature, you Command a Minion whenever you Sustain a Spell or Sustain an Activation for it. Instead of Commanding a Minion, you may grant it one action that fits a list of actions developed by you and the GM as natural actions for that minion, such as Stride to follow you or Interact to draw a weapon. A minion cannot Strike during this natural action. If the minion gains an ability to take an independent action without Command a Minion, then these natural actions are added to the list of actions granted by the ability, but it is still limited to 1 action per turn without a command. A minion cannot Command a Minion. During exploration and downtime mode, the minion acts like an NPC loyal to you.

An NPC Val Baine from my my PF1 Iron Gods campaign from 2015-2017 will be visiting my current PF2-converted Ironfang Invasion campaign this Friday or maybe the following Friday. She might accompany the party for a few sessions, so I need to make this PF1 character operate under PF2 rules. Another NPC from Iron Gods, Casandalee III, has already made appearance in Ironfang Invasion.

Trouble arises in that Val Baine is a bloodrager and PF2 does not yet have a bloodrager class. Thus, I am inventing a Bloodline Instinct for barbarians to be able to mimic a bloodrager in PF2. Klaam posted a Bloodrager Instinct in the Homebrew forum in September 2019 and Pigusta220 posted a Bloodrage Class Archetype in November 2022, but I needed a bloodrager version with more emphasis on the sorcerer bloodline.

Bloodline Instinct
Your instincts seek the magic in your blood, a gift from your sorcerous ancestors. You gain Sorcerer Multiclass Dedication even if you do not meet the prerequisite. You can choose Charisma as your key ability score.

Letting an insult to your ancestors slide is anathema to your instinct. You must demand respect for either your ancestors or for the power they granted you.

Bloodline Rage (Instinct Ability)
You can Cast a Spell and Sustain a Spell for spells from your sorcerer multiclass archetype, including focus spells, while raging despite their concentration trait. When you take the Rage action, once during that turn you may reduce the number of actions to Cast a Spell by 1 (minimum a free action).

Specialization Ability 7th
You are an expert in spell attack rolls and DCs of the magical tradition of your bloodline and of your sorcerer focus spells. You gain Basic Sorcerer Spellcasting sorcerer multiclass archetype feat. If you already have Basic Sorcerer Spellcasting, then you gain Bloodline Breadth instead and you gain its additional 1st-level spell in your repertoire and spell slots immediately.
If you have greater weapon specialization, damage-dealing spells cast while raging deal an additional 8 damage, distributed among the affected creatures and objects, or if the spell affects your weapon or unarmed strike, you may instead give the weapon damage a +8 status bonus.

Raging Resistance 9th
You resist damage you take from spells and abilities with the magical tradition associated with your bloodline, regardless of the type of damage.

I also made a barbarian class feat that requires Bloodline Instinct. Leaving the Bloodline Instinct barbarian limited to a pair of cantrips until a near-mandatory 4th-level feat seemed disappointing. The PF1 bloodrager does not gain any spells before 4th level, but it gains a bloodline power at 1st level. Bloodline Breakout is similar to the bloodrager's bloodline power.

Bloodline Breakout Feat 2
Prerequisites Bloodline Instinct
You gain your bloodline’s initial bloodline spell. At 2nd and 3rd level, you can cast this bloodline spell only while raging. If you don’t already have one, you gain a focus pool of 1 Focus Point, which you can Refocus without any specific activity.
Special This feat counts as Basic Bloodline Spell from your sorcerer multiclass archetype.

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In a thread Is a manipulate action baked into firing a bow? I learned that diffeent players have different ideas about how subordinate actions work. Thus, I started this thread here to discuss subordinate actions in general, hoping to clear up misconceptions. Perhaps I myself have misconceptions.

The full rule about Subordinate Actions is fairly short:

Core Rulebook pg. 461 wrote:

Subordinate Actions

An action might allow you to use a simpler action—usually one of the Basic Actions on page 469—in a different circumstance or with different effects. This subordinate action still has its normal traits and effects, but is modified in any ways listed in the larger action. For example, an activity that tells you to Stride up to half your Speed alters the normal distance you can move in a Stride. The Stride would still have the move trait, would still trigger reactions that occur based on movement, and so on. The subordinate action doesn’t gain any of the traits of the larger action unless specified. The action that allows you to use a subordinate action doesn’t require you to spend more actions or reactions to do so; that cost is already factored in.

Using an activity is not the same as using any of its subordinate actions. For example, the quickened condition you get from the haste spell lets you spend an extra action each turn to Stride or Strike, but you couldn’t use the extra action for an activity that includes a Stride or Strike. As another example, if you used an action that specified, “If the next action you use is a Strike,” an activity that includes a Strike wouldn’t count, because the next thing you are doing is starting an activity, not using the Strike basic action.

Subordinate actions break the costing rule of three actions per turn.

Let me convert that into a list:

(1) Subordinate actions do not count as one of the three actions per turn; instead, only the action value of the containing action is counted.
(2) The containing action can contain any number of subordinate actions.
(3) The containing action can modify any individual subordinate actions. Restrictions are typical, but sometimes we have advantages added to them, such as Twin Feint's addition, "The target is automatically flat-footed against the second Strike."
(4) The subordinate actions retain all their traits and may trigger reactions and other effects based on those traits. For example, Twin Feint makes two Strikes, so each Strike counts as an attack and increases the multiple attack penalty.
(5) The containing action does not inherit the traits of the subordinate action. For example, Twin Feint is not an attack; rather, it contains two attacks. Likewise, the subordinate action does not inherit the traits of the containing action.
(6) Subordinate actions are usually Basic Actions, but that is not necessary.
(7) A containing action can include only a single Subordinate action. For example, Hunter's Aim gives a +2 circumstance bonus to hit to a single subordinate ranged weapon Strike.

I view subordinate actions as a way to treat Basic Actions and skill actions as Lego Building Blocks. Snap together a few well-defined actions in order to create a new action or activity that does more and has a particular flavor. Or enclose a single well-defined action in an envelope that changes it under well-defined conditions. By building with well-defined actions rather than building from scratch, the developers avoid rule conflicts. "Well-defined" is a favorite property for us mathematicians.

I remember a famous Pathfinder 1st Edition rules conflict due to weakly-defined actions: Vital Strike and Spring Attack. Vital Strike says, "Benefit: When you use the attack action, you can make one attack at your highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage...," and goes on to define the additional damage. Spring Attack is complicated enough to need the full quote:

Pathfinder 1st Edition Core Rulebook, page 134 wrote:

Spring Attack (Combat)

You can deftly move up to a foe, strike, and withdraw before he can react.
Prerequisites: Dex 13, Dodge, Mobility, base attack bonus +4.
Benefit: As a full-round action, you can move up to your speed and make a single melee attack without provoking any attacks of opportunity from the target of your attack. You can move both before and after the attack, but you must move at least 10 feet before the attack and the total distance that you move cannot be greater than your speed. You cannot use this ability to attack a foe that is adjacent to you at the start of your turn.
Normal: You cannot move before and after an attack.

Pazio developers had to clarify that Spring Attack did not combine with Vital Strike. The attack in Spring Attack did not qualify as an "attack action" for Vital Strike. I suspect that the dispute led them to create clearer categories for actions in PF2.

The well-defined building blocks lead to both disappointment and opportunity. For disappointment, moving through a closed door and wanting to close it behind me is awkward, because the operation requires a Stride to reach the door, an Interact to open the door, another Stride or Step to go through the doorway, and another Interact to close the door. The Quick Draw feat is Interact to draw a weapon, then Strike with that weapon. The Interact part triggers enemy Attack of Opportunity, and the Strike part means standing within reach of that enemy because no movement can fit between the Interact and Strike.

The opportunity is that feats are measureable about what they offer. Quick Draw gives two actions for the price of one, so it is worth learning for a weapon wielder who does not regulary carry a weapon in hand. Sudden Charge costs two actions for two Strides and a Strike, an efficient opener for the first round of combat. The fighter's Double Slice is two actions for two Strikes, no action economy advantage, but it says that both Strikes use the multiple attack penalty of its first Strike. Bundling them left an easy way to adjust the penalty.

Yet despite all this clarity, two ideas in the thread on firing a bow seem wrong to me. People insteaded that firing a bow (a Reload 0 weapon) without a preliminary Interact action to reload meant that a costless Interact was hidden somewhere. I myself asked whether they meant as a subordinate action, and some people favored that interpretation. However, I feel that the rules cannot support inserting an entire subordinate action into a Strike because that would change the nature of the Strike too much. Strike is a very flexible basic action, changing with the weapon used, but building blocks ought to be solid.

And when the thread revived in September, Darksol the Painbringer posted in comment #268,

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
The others still circle back to interacting/manipulating without spending an action for it, though, which was the point being thrown at me: if you don't spend an action for it, you don't trigger reactions on it. Just because it's a subordinate action for a specific activity doesn't mean anything when the point being disputed was that the action cost is what creates the trigger, not the action itself (such as if it didn't cost an action for Reload 0).

Subordinate actions still trigger reactions, because they are actions. Thus, if my character uses Quick Draw next to an enemy with Attack of Opportunity, then the Interact action to draw a weapon subordinate to the Quick Draw action is a manipulate action and triggers the Attack of Opportunity.

Consider that if the enemy makes a critical hit with the Attack of Opportunity, then the Interact is disrupted and my character fails to draw the weapon. Quick Draw gives only one Interact action to draw a weapon, so I cannot try to draw again during the Quick Draw. Next, Quick Draw says to Strike with the weapon I drew, which I failed to draw, so the Strike is cancelled. Thus, the action used for Quick Draw is wasted.

But they did not cost actions to do them, so they can't trigger reactions.

I don't know whether that was Dearksol the Painbringer's own interpretation of subordinate actions or whether he was echoing what he thought other people were saying, but I decided to create a separate thread about subordinate actions in order to clear up that subordinate actions do trigger reactions.

Or am I wrong?

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My player Story created a playtest kineticist to insert into my PF2-converted Ironfang Invasion campaign. I usually write characters in a stat-block format, but he writes in a different style.


* Level: 15
* Class: Kineticist
* Ancestry: Kitsune
* Background: Courier (Int & Dex)
* Size: Medium
* Speed: 30 (25 + 5 from Fleet)
* Alignment: Neutral Good
* Gender: Male
* Deity: Ragathiel
* Age: 20
* Languages: Common, Varisian, Sylvan, Goblin

* Hit Points (HP): 203
8 from kitsune, (8 + CON) per level [8+(8+5)*15]

* Proficiency: 0 U / 17 T / 19 E / 21 M / 23 L

* Armor Class (AC): 33
[10 + 4 (DEX) + 19 (Expert) + (XXX: 1 from Leather Armor not included?)]
Expert in Unarmored Defense and Light Armor

* Fortitude: +28 (Legendary)
Success becomes a Critical Success (7th - Juggernaut)
* Reflex: +25 (Master)
Success becomes a Critical Success (11th - Evasion)
* Will: +21 (Expert - 3rd)

* Perception +21 (Expert - 9th - Alertness)

* Kineticist Class DC: Expert (9th - Elemental Expertise)

Ability Scores (Stats):

* STR 18 (+4) [10 + + 1st + 5th + 10th + 15th]
* DEX 18 (+4) [10 + Courier-Free + 1st + 5th + 10th ]
* CON 20 (+5) [10 + Kitsune-Free + Kineticist + 1st + 5th + 10th + 15th]
* INT 16 (+3) [10 + Courier-D/I + 1st + 5th ]
* WIS 14 (+2) [10 + 10th + 15th]
* CHA 16 (+3) [10 + Kitsune-Cha + 15th]


Acrobatics +21 Trained (Level 11)
Arcana +3
Athletics +21 Trained (Starting #1)
Crafting +3
Deception +20 Trained (Ancestry Feat)
Diplomacy +24 Master (Ancestry Feat + Level 5 + Level 9)
Intimidation +3
Lore: Tamran +20 Trained (Courier)
Lore: Kitsune +20 Trained (Ancestry Feat)
Medicine +2
Nature +19 Trained (Kineticist)
Occultism +3
Performance +20 Trained (Starting #2)
Religion +19 Trained (Starting #3)
Society +26 Legendary (Courier + Level 3 + Level 7 + Level 15)
Stealth +25 Master (Starting #4 + Extra 5)
Survival +2
Thievery +21 Trained (Starting #5)


* Unarmed attacks and simple weapons - Master (13th blast mastery)
* Greater Weapon Specialization: You deal 2 additional damage with weapons &
unarmed attacks in which you're an expert. This damage increases to 6 if
master, and 8 if legendary.


Kineticist Feats 1 (air), 1 (water), 1 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
Improved Elemental Flexibility:
Free 8th and 14th level impulses each day at prep

1/air - whisper on the wind
1/water - water dance
1/any - winter's clutch
2 - tidal hands
4 - flinging updraft
6 - clear as air
8 - aura shaping
10 - chain blasts
12 - rapid reattunement
14 - ferocious cyclone
flex/8 - cycling blast / torrent in the blood / wings of air
flex/14 - drowning sphere / circulate qi / glacial prison / flowing kinetics

Skill Feats: 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 [seven in all]
2 Courtly Graces
4 Connections [expert Society]
6 Fascinating Performance
12 Cat Fall?
14 Hobnobber (trained Diplomacy)
10 Evangelize (req master diplomacy)
8 Eye for Numbers

Level 1

* Initial proficiencies:
- Trained in Perception
- Expert in Fortitude
- Expert in Reflex
- Trained in Will
- Trained in Nature
- Trained in 3+INT additional skills [so 3+2 at level 1 = 5]
* Athletics
* Performance
* Religion
* Stealth
* Thievery
- Trained in simple weapons
- Trained in unarmed attacks
- Trained in light armor
- Trained in unarmored defense
- Trained in kineticist class DC

* Inner Gate: Dual Gate
- 1st-level Air Impulse: Whisper on the Wind (Air)
- 1st-level Water Impulse: Water Dance (Water)
* Kineticist Feat: Winter's Clutch (Water)
* Adapt Element◆◆

* Glean Contents Feat [Courier background]
* Heritage: Celestial Envoy Kitsune
* Ancestry Feat: Kitsune Lore
(trained in Diplomacy, Deception, Kitsune Lore)

Level 2

* Kineticist Feat: Tidal Hands (Water)
* Skill Feat: Courtly Graces

Level 3

* Elemental Resistance
* Extract Elementâ—†
* Iron Will [better saves]
* General Feat: Fleet
* Skill Increase: Society

Level 4

* Kineticist Feat: Flinging Updraft (Air)
* Skill Feat: Connections

Level 5

* Ability boosts
- INT increased by 1 so extra skill increase: Stealth to Expert
* Critical Element
* Skill Increase: Diplomacy to Expert
* Ancestry Feat: Myriad Forms (Earthly Wilds Kitsune)

Level 6

* Kineticist Feat: Clear as Air (Air)
* Skill Feat: Fascinating Performance

Level 7

* Adapt Terrain
* Blast Expertise
* Juggernaut [better saves]
* Weapon Specialization [better attacks]
* Skill Increase (can do Master): Society
* General Feat: Incredible Initiative

Level 8

* Kineticist Feat: Aura Shaping
* Skill Feat: Eye for Numbers

Level 9

* Alertness, elemental expertise, elemental flexibility,
* Ancestry Feat: Hybrid Form
* Skill Increase (can do Master): Diplomacy

Level 10

* Ability boosts
* Kineticist Feat: Chain Blasts◆◆
* Skill Feat: Evangelize

Level 11

* Evasion [better saves]
* General Feat: Pick up the Pace
* Pure Adaptation [extends Adapt Element]
* Skill Increase (can do Master): Acrobatics to Trained

Level 12

* Kineticist Feat: Rapid Reattunement
* Skill Feat: Cat Fall

Level 13

* Ancestry Feat: Fox Trick
* Blast Mastery [better attacks]
* Light Armor Expertise
* Skill Increase (can do Master): Stealth to Master

Level 14

* Kineticist Feat: Ferocious Cyclone
* Skill Feat: Hobnobber

Level 15

* Ability boosts
* General Feat: Caravan Leader
* Greater Juggernaut [better saves]
* Greater Weapon Specialization [better attacks]
* Improved Elemental Flexibility
* Skill Increase (can do Legendary): Society

* Gather Elementâ—†
[Conjuration Kineticist Manipulate Primal]

* Elemental Blastâ—†
[Evocation Impulse Kineticist Primal]

Air: 1d4 S
melee: agile air finesse reach versatile B
range: agile air range 120 feet, versatile B

Water: 1d8 B
melee: sweep, water
range: range 30 feet, water

- Critical Element
- Air: Stray gales move the target 5 ft in direction of choice. Forced.
- Water: Splash damage equal to number of weapon damage dice.

* Chain Blasts◆◆
[Impulse Kineticist]

* Adapt Element◆◆
[Concentrate Evocation Kineticist Manipulate Primal]
Requires hand free

also add Purify (any element) from 11th

* Extract Elementâ—†
[Kineticist Manipulate Primal Transmutation]

* Change Shapeâ—†
True form, Human/Varisian form, or Fox (1st-level pest form)

* (Reaction) Invoke Celestial Privilege [from Celest. Envoy Heritage]

* Low-Light Vision
* Elemental Resistance
[Resist 15 to element you currently have gathered]


14th: 1 - Magic Leather Armor +2 Greater Resilient Glamered? or just exp. clothes for -1 AC and no shenanigans.
13th: 2,
12th: 1 - Handwraps +2GS
11th: 2

2250 gp

* Handwraps of Mighty Blows (+2 Greater Striking, Frost, Thundering)
* +1 Explorer's Clothing or Leather Armor? Runes?
* 2x Healing Potion (Moderate)?
* Adventurer's Pack
* Thieves' Tools
* Bag of Holding (Type I)

Mathmuse note: Story did not know the rules for treasure for higher-level new characters. I directed him to Table 10-10: Character Wealth and he will have complete gear on Collin next game session.

The 14th-level party in my campaign now faces a 17th-level medusa with additional powers. Elacnida was supposed to be the CR 15 final boss of the module, but I converted the adventure path to PF2, my party is one level higher than expected, and has 7 members, so a 17th-level adversary seemed appropriate.

But a medusa's two-part petrification gaze is difficult to balance in the conversion from PF1 to PF2. I could use a sanity check about my decision.

PF2 has fewer ways of dealing with petrification than PF1. Previous modules offered opportunities acquire a jar of stone salve, an amulet of proof against
and a lidless charm bracelet, likely in anticipation of Elacnida's petrifying gaze, but the party skipped some looting because of peaceful resolution of conflicts and saved me the trouble of converting them. And, of course, PF1 offers the 6th-level arcane spell Flesh to Stone and the 5th-level spell Break Enchantment. I recall that 3rd-level PF1 Dispel Magic did not work on petrification, but maybe that is because Flesh to Stone is instantaneous and Dispel Magic specifically does not work on instantaneous effects.

PF2 also offers Stone to Flesh but it lacks Break Enchantment. Its only magic item that removes or prevents petrification is Greater Salve of Antiparalysis, item 12, though Smoked Goggles offer the same bonus against visual effects as Averting Gaze. The 8th-level one-day ritual Freedom can also remove petrification, but that ritual is not available to 14th-level characters.

Last year's Rules Discussion thread Can Dispel Magic dispel the "permanent petrification" caused by a Medusa offers reasons why Dispel Magic cannot undo a medusa's- pertrification in PF2:
1) Dispel Magic targets "1 spell effect or unattended magic item" yet a medusa's Focus Gaze petrification ability is a magical offensive creature ability, not a spell.
2) Although the Focus Gaze ability uses the phrase, "petrified permanently," it does not have an official spell duration. The enduring effect of magic is not necessarily a magical effect, because the Duration rules say, "Some spells have effects that remain even after the spell’s magic is gone. Any ongoing effect that isn’t part of the spell’s duration entry isn’t considered magical. For instance, a spell that creates a loud sound and has no duration might deafen someone for a time, even permanently. This deafness couldn’t be counteracted because it is not itself magical (though it might be cured by other magic, such as restore senses)." The rules for Petrified do not declare it a magical condition.
Reason 2 matters because I have already fudged Reason 1 in this campaign. The sorcerer was able to dispel the Change Shape ability of a doppleganger to prove that it was an imposter.

On the other hand, the Counteract rules do balance Dispel Magic nicely against 17th-level Elacnida. The counteract level of her Focus Gaze would be 9. The 14th-level sorcerer can heighten Dispel Magic only up to 7th level, so she would need a Critical Success on a 6th-level or 7th-level Dispel Magic to counteract Elacnida's Focus Gaze. The druid in the party, in contrast, could prepare Stone to Flesh in his 6th-level slots. Thus, he will be the favorite target of Elacnida once she deduces his class.

In apparent balance to fewer cures for petrification, many PF2 creatures have less threat of permanent petrification. Cockatrice, creature 3, offer a DC 20 Fortitude save every 24 hours to recover from their Calcification petrification, though a critical failure makes the petrification permanent. The Calcification from a Granite Glyptodont, creature 8, have a similar 24-hour Fortitude save, but with DC 26. The petrification from a Basilisk's Petrifying Gaze (creature 5) can be cured with fresh basilisk blood, which is usually available after defeating a basilisk. The petrification from a Gorgon's breath weapon (creature 8) lasts only one minute, except a critical failure makes it permanent. A Dracolisk, creature 9, copies the blood cure of a basilisk. The Stygira's Stone Curse (creature 7) can be broken with 4th-level spell Remove Curse.

And the Critical Failure petrifications have the Incapacitation trait, so any character of higher level than the creature can't have a critical failure.

The Medusa, Waldgeist, adult and ancient Crystal Dragons, and Fossil Golem have no easy remedy for their petrification at hand. They do require multiple failed Fortitude saves: DC 25 for the 7th-level Medusa, DC 24 for the 8th-level Waldgeist, DC 30 for the 11th-level adult Crystal Dragon, DC 32 for the 12th-level Fossil Golem, and DC 37 for the 16th-level ancient Crystal Dragon. I set 17th-level Elacnida's Fortitude save to DC 35, the moderate value on the GMG's Table 2–11: Spell DC and Spell Attack Bonus, because the extreme value, DC 38, felt too high.

The 7th-level Medusa's DC 25 is the extreme value for 7th level. A Medusa's 105 hit points are low for a 7th-level creature. Her gaze is her primary defense and her primary offense. Elacnida has alternatives, but I am putting the description under a spoiler mask.

Elacnida is a ghost, so is incorporeal and will rejuvenate from death if any petrified creature in the reliquary is left uncured and undestroyed. She also has the Draining Touch of a ghost and I let her snakes deal spirit venom that drains hit points from the victim back to Elacnida.

She has the ability to shape her ghostly appearance to match any creature she petrified, but that renders her medusa abilities inert. She has Deception +33 for this ruse. She had intended to use this to lure party members out of sight from the others, resume her true form in a single action, and petrify them. She wants more anchors to maintain her undead existence.

She can hide inside a petrified creature, so that hitting her would damage the petrified creature, too, and add Hardness 8 to her Resistance 15 all damage except force and ghost-touch. Taking a petrified creature from the reliquary would extend her Site Bound range, though I suppose a mile away would break the connection. And she can teleport to any other petrified creature in the reliquary in two actions, which gives her an excellent escape. I like that, because she will risk trying to interact with the PCs before the final battle.

Two petrified creatures have evidence for a mystery the party wants to solve, so they would rather cure those petrifications rather than demolish them. Elacnida will appear as false ghosts of them to tell lies to the party.

My questions are whether the Fortitude DC 35 on her petrification is appropriate, whether I should allow 7th-level Dispel Magic to break petrification on a Critical Success, and whether I should load up the party with Greater Salve of Antiparalysis?

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A few weeks ago my players finished Assault on Longshadow, the 3rd module of the Ironfang Invasion adventure path. I have been converting that adventure path to Pathfinder 2nd Edition. They stopped the invasion of the city of Longshadow in Nirmathas. A heavily rewritten enemy commander, Repral, contacted the party to negotiate a short truce. Repral suggested that they set a temporary border at the Marideth River. The Ironfang Legion would withdraw from the small villagers and farms that they had conquered north of the river, and the defenders of Longshadow would not attack them as they departed, and the Ironfang Legion could hold the Valley of Aloi and the villages of Ecru and Phaendar south of the river as places where they could retreat to. The party insisted that the Ironfang Legion would have to free all the villagers that they had captured and enslaved, as a necessary condition for the truce.

The Ironfang Legion did not agree. No truce was made, but the withdrawal took place regardless. And the party attacked Phaendar, killed half the Ironfang Legion troops garrisoned there, and freed all the villagers in forced labor there. No truce meant they could attack in good conscience.

I realized that I would have to end slavery among the hobgoblins of the Ironfang Legion for the war to end in a peace treaty. Unfortunately, slavery is part of General Azaersi's invasion plan.

Trail of the Hunted, page 5 wrote:

With her armies and the Onyx Key, Azaersi is prepared to launch her campaign of lightning-quick assaults to carry her across Nirmathas, and eventually Molthune and Lastwall. She intends to carve out a homeland for the monsters humans fear, with Phaendar as the beating heart that will deliver her Nirmathi food, mines, and lumber. Her people need only land to settle and enslaved hands to raise their empire.

As of yet, though, no one knows the Ironfang Legion is a threat, or that it even still exists. Azaersi intends to keep it that way, and she has instructed her troops to enslave those they can, slaughter those they must, and ensure no one escapes to warn the rest of humanity that the Ironfangs march for war!

Slavery is also part of the hobgoblin culture

Fangs of War, page 72 wrote:
Slavery is as ingrained in hobgoblin society as much as war, yet hobgoblins are not known for participating in the slave trade in the same way as duergar, gnolls, or even evil humans. Hobgoblins take slaves to impose their order on others, assert their dominance, and spread suffering. Most hobgoblin armies leave dangerous or menial tasks to these prisoners, allowing the hobgoblins to more efficiently focus on martial endeavors.

and of the hobgoblin religion.

Asault on Longshadow, page 74 wrote:
As the foremost of the barghest hero-gods, Hadregash promotes the importance of proving one’s strength through conquest and following the orders of those rightfully in charge. Such victories need not be won fairly. In fact, followers of the Supreme Chieftain believe that ambushes and dirty fighting are the best ways to win without suffering too many casualties. Hadregash also encourages his worshipers to take other races as slaves, as that is the only role non-goblinoids are fit to play.

We are only halfway through the adventure path, so I figured on waiting until the players themselves had some ideas on eliminating slavery among the Ironfang Legion. However, the decision by Paizo to remove slavery from Paizo publications made me decide to fit a drastic redirection of hobgoblin culture into my plot.

I have seen such a transition in my campaigns before. When the Pathfinder 1st Edition Advanced Race Guide was published, one player created a goblin alchemist for my Jade Regent campaign. That alchemist became the new chief of the Licktoad goblin tribe, turned them away from raiding caravans, and gave them a new opportunity selling supplies and Goblin Gulp coffee to those caravans. At the beginning of the Pathfinder 2nd Edition playtest, my wife created a goblin paladin of Alseta. Alseta, the god of doorways and transitions, was transitioning the goblins to a civilized people. Thus, my campaign world was ready for goblins as a core ancestry in Pathfinder 2nd Edition.

Though this is about an Ironfang Invasion campaign, the Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion subforum seemed the best place of discussion of the transition of the hobgoblins. It is about the new Lost Omens themes of Pathfinder more than it is about one particular adventure path. Especially because I reached back to our previous adventure path to get the ball rolling.

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My elder daughter plays a 12th-level CG tailed goblin champion of liberator cause devoted to Grandmother Spider. She is thinking ahead to the 16th-level Auspicious Mount class feat for her velociraptor animal companion (steed ally substitute). The velociraptor will learn the language associated with her deity's servitors (default is Celestial for tenets of good).

She is curious about what kinds of creatures are the servitors of Grandmother Spider.

Grandmother Spider started as an underpaid servant of the gods and managed to gain freedom and her own minor godhood through trickery. Nevertheless, she values fairness and has Neutral alignment. Her followers are NG, CG, N, and CN.

Grandmother Spider is not listed as the inhabitant of any outer sphere plane. The Neutral outer sphere plane is the Boneyard, which does not seem an appropriate place for her despite her brother Achaekek residing there. Nor is she listed as residing in the inner sphere planes, the transitive planes, or the dimensions. I cannot simply chose the native creatures of her home when I don't know her home.

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On Friday, March 26, I started preparing for my weekly Ironfang Invasion game by posting a map and some details about Longshadow in our Discord group. My wife noted that some descriptions did not fit the environment. Due to my health problems, I cancelled that game session, so the discussion continued. The geography of Nirmathis contradicts a major industry in Longshadow.

A similar issue has been brought up in Marideth River and major map disparities by Fenrick Talon in April 2018 and revived by erucsbo in August 2020.

Pages 62 to 71 of Assault on Longshadow have an informative gazeteer article on the city. Its main industry is smelting. It receives ore from the Hollow Hills, refines it into useable metal, and ships it out via its docks.

Where do these shipping routes go?! According to the maps on the endpapers of the modules, Southern Nirmathis and Ironfang Territories, the Marideth River has a major waterfall halfway between Longshadow and Phaendar. No-one can take a boat from Longshadow downstream past Phaendar to reach the major trade routes at Tamran on Lake Encarthan. Upstream lies Ecru, which is a village with no trade routes mentioned, with the impassible Mindspin Mountains west of that.

Do the boats instead cross the Marideth River and transfer the refined metal to wagons traveling south on the Nesmian Plains? The Mindspin Mountains reach further east south of Longshadow, so the route would go through foothills, a burdensome path for heavy metal.

The docks in Longshadow are the Gorenheim Ferry and Migrant’s Welcome Dock. Their descriptions tell of the shipping industry.

Assault on Longshadow wrote:

6. The Gorenheim Ferry: For a single silver piece, passengers can catch a ride on one of three ferries traveling across the Marideth River. These especially spacious and sturdy wooden boats remain equally spread out, with one near the center of the river while the others dock and resupply at the respective ends of the waterway. It’s not the passengers that make Gorenheim Ferries its money, however; the business makes most of its profit from significant industrial hauling across the river in the lower holds of its large ships.

10. Migrant’s Welcome Dock: Longshadow’s docks received their rather contentious title in the aftermath of Jordish Redcliff’s death. Disparaging those who partook in the boom of immigration as word spread about the discovery of minerals in the Hollow Hills, Longshadow’s residents often declared those first workers migrants, despite them being loyal citizens of Cheliax—and the dock where they disembarked took its name after them. The name stuck for years, and even when people flooded back out of Longshadow for Canorate, the townsfolk still used it, more out of familiarity than for any other reason.

Numerous wooden landing piers stretch out from the southwestern edge of Longshadow, extending like greedy fingers onto the Marideth River. Poor planning has resulted in a haphazard arrangement of docks, with new piers routinely added with little regard to proper shipping routes or ease of docking for larger vessels. ...

The maps at the beginning of each module are not the only maps with the waterfall. The Nesmian Plains map on page 66 of Trail of the Hunted puts the waterfall close to Longshadow, only 15 miles downstream. Its text describes the river as:

Trail of the Hunted, page 66 wrote:
Marideth River: Stumbling down from the Mindspin Mountains and along the southern border of the Fangwood, the Marideth is easily the largest river in Nirmathas, but also its least navigable. Long stretches of whitewater mark its course, and several picturesque waterfalls dot its length as it passes through the Hollow Hills. Various fey claim stretches of the river, including nuckelavee and kelpies, but the annual spring floods often cause the river to jump its banks and find new paths to follow, leading to constant territorial disputes between its various residents. ...

At the beginning of the module, the river is described as:

Trail of the Hunted, page 6 wrote:
The adventure begins in the town of Phaendar, nestled along the southern bank of the Marideth River, a stone’s throw from the Southern Fangwood Forest. Trade comes through the town over Phaendar Bridge, the only suitable place to traverse the swift, rapid-coursed river for 50 miles in either direction.

The map on page 8 shows that the Marideth River is 65 feet wide at the Phaendar Bridge.

The map of the Chernasardo region of the Fangwood on page 7 of Fangs of War copies the endpaper maps. The waterfall is visible on it.

The map of the Hollow Hills on page 8 of Assault on Longshadow draws the Marideth River flat, without waterfalls or tributaries, though the artist did try to shade it as if it had rapids. The river appears a mile wide, but that might be the drawing style rather than literal. (The endpaper maps are way off scale, using a pictoral representation rather then a literal one.)

In contrast, the text on the same page says,

Assault o Longshadow, page 8 wrote:
The Hollow Hills lie just west of the Fangwood, and control much of the region’s mineral wealth. Relatively isolated thanks to the Marideth River’s waterfalls and rapids, its communities are every bit as independent and proud as those of the Fangwood.

And page 20 says,

Assault o Longshadow, page 20 wrote:
Built along the turbulent Marideth River to power its mills, Longshadow is the largest town in the region—and the Ironfang Legion’s current target for conquest. Its foundries and forges offer fuel for the hobgoblin war machine, while its population will provide the slave labor to maintain that steady flow of supplies.

Page 39 describes an upriver section of the Marideth River as 120 feet wide. The Ironfang Legion hopes to use a nuckelavee to Control Water to make a walkable crossing. She can lower the water level by 18 feet under Pathfinder 1st Edition rules.

The map of Longshadow on page 64 includes the northeast bank of the Marideth River. I see no waterwheels. The river is at least 500 feet wide with the southwestern bank too far away to include in the map. Perhaps the river widened into a lake at Longshadow?

My wife says that the different images of the Marideth River remind her of the Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada. Its width varies drastically because it goes through many different terrains.

In theory, the exact industries of Longshadow do not matter while the city is under siege. In practice, my players like to explore the places their characters visit and interact with the common people. They care a lot about the people and often find jobs for the people they rescue. And their concerns change the plot. They got word of the destruction of Redburrow while they liberated Fort Nunder in Fangs of War, so they rushed off into the next module and stopped the conquest of Radya's Hollow (they were ahead of schedule, so Radya's Hollow was not yet invaded).

I sent the question to my players of where does Longshadow ship out its refined metals. I will talk about one answer in a comment. I am curious about other answers. What is your opinion?

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My method of playtesting new classes is by including a temporary character in my ongoing Pathfinder campaign. I converted the adept NPC Rhyna into an oracle for the Advanced Player's Guide playtest, and converted ranger NPC Cirieo Thessaddin to summoner for the Secrets of Magic playtest. In the Summoner playtest my newest player played Cirieo, which I thought was a better way to test the class.

Therefore, this time, I asked my players if anyone wanted to build and play an Inventor. My new newest player, my 33-year-old younger daughter, volunteered with, "Me, me! I'll do it! *starts scheming*" She created Arkus.

Arkus Inventor 7
CN, Medium, Orc, Humanoid
Perception +9 (trained), darkvision
Languages Common, Orcish, Goblin, Jotun, Undercommon
Skills Acrobatics +11, Athletics +17 (expert), Crafting +14 (expert), Diplomacy +10, Medicine +9, Society +12, Stealth +11, Survival +9, Warfare Lore +12.
Str 18, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 12
Items innovation weapon, composite longbow (20 arrows), +1 scale armor, adventurer's pack, compass, climbing kit, healer's tools, repair kit.
Inventor, Terrain Expertise (Underground)
AC 21; Fort +14, Ref +13, Will +11
HP 87
Orc Ferocity [Reaction] Once per day your health drops to 1 hp rather than 0 hp, and you gain wounded 1.
Speed 30 feet, due to Fleet
Athletic Might, Combat Climber, Powerful Leap, Quick Jump, Rapid Mantel
Dual-form Weapon Ranseur or Scythe. 2 Interact actions to switch
Melee +1 wounding striking entangling ranseur +16 (two-handed, disarm, reach, grapple, trip) Damage 2d10+6 piercing and 1d6 fire and 1d6 persistent bleed Polearm Critical Spec The target is moved 5 feet in a direction of your choice. 1d12 bleed instead.
Melee +1 wounding striking hefty scythe +16 (two-handed, deadly d10, trip, shove, versatile B) Damage 2d10+6 slashing and 1d6 fire and 1d6 persistent bleed Polearm Critical Spec The target is moved 5 feet in a direction of your choice. 1d12 bleed instead.
Ranged composite longbow +13 (Range increment 100 ft, Deadly d10, Propulsive, Volley 30 ft.) Damage 1d8+2 piercing Bow Critical Spec Pin to adjacent surface.
Titan Wrestler Disarm, Grapple, Shove, or Trip up to 2 sizes bigger.

Inventor Abilities: Explode, Innovation [Weapon], Overdrive, Reconfigure, Critical Specialization effects with Innovation, Offensive Boost (Fire), Weapon Specialization
Other Inventor Feats: Prototype Companion, Kickback Strike, Clockwork Celerity

Build Choices
Ancestry Deep Orc Ancestry Feats Orc Ferocity, Athletic Might
Background Martial Disciple
Class Feats Prototype Companion, Kickback Strike, Dual-form Weapon, Clockwork Celerity
General Feats Fleet
Skill feats Titan Wrestler, Powerful Leap, Rapid Mantel

Niktu Prototype Companion
N, Small, Construct
Trained in its unarmed attacks, unarmored defense, all saving throws, Perception, Acrobatics, and Athletics
Unarmed: 1d8B or 1d6 P/S agile finesse
Str +3, Dex +1, Con +2, Int –4, Wis +1, Cha +0
HP 66
Immune to bleed, death effects, disease, doomed, drained, fatigued, healing, necromancy, nonlethal attacks, paralyzed, poison, sickened, and unconscious
Healed via Repair, broken if dropped to dying, destroyed if damaged while broken
Speed 25 ft

Arkus comes from the Darklands near the dwarven Sky Citadel of Kraggodan. He follows the orcish philosophy that orcs are shaped by the challenges they survive, and the most worthy survive the most hardships. The challenge he chose was exploration. He discovered his innovative weapon during an expedition in his youth and spent the next seven years exploring its capabilities. He constructed Niktu from parts found during later expeditions.

When hobgoblin General Azaersi and her guide dark naga Zanathura wrecked havoc deep below Kraggodan, the chaos eventually spread to Arkus's home. He decided to visit the surface to investigate, not through Kraggodan since they are hostile to the dwarves, but by a more northern tunnel. He encountered the Ironfang Legion, who tried to recruit him, possibly as a captain. Arkus was not interested in joining and he had figured out that General Azaersi was responsible for the mess, so he continued wandering to see the other side of this war. And thus, he found himself at the gates of Radya's Hollow, a human and dwarven town where the party was resting after destroying a hobgoblin army.

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The four eidolons from the playtest are generic. All four are Medium size, Speed 25 feet, see with Darkvision, have Str 16, Dex 16, Con 16, Cha 10 with only slight variations in Int and Wis, have a 1d8 melee attack and a 14 agile melee attack. Their shape is never defined, so they default to humanoid with two hands, two feet, one head, etc.

Their main differences are the magic traditions and skills they give to the summoner. That is a difference in summoners, not a difference in eidolons.

Since the unchained eidolon from PF1 had basic forms, I presume that different shapes of eidolons were left out of the playtest because the Paizo developers had no need to test those features. They were tested in PF1.

Nevertheless, when I created my playtest summoner, Cirieo Thassaddin, I decided that the best form for his beast eidolon was a goat. That opened up questions, such as whether the eidolon had two hands and whether halfling Cirieo could ride his Medium-sized goat. The stat block for an eidolon needs to answer those questions.

Furthermore, in the thread Final Assessment on the Summoner Class: Current iteration KrisoyXIV pointed out that the playtest eidolon is constructed like an animal companion:

KrispyXIV wrote:
Verzen wrote:
Your argument of, "take things thats better for them rather than be thematic" disproves your whole argument. EVERYONE has this opportunity with feats, heritages, backgrounds, etc. It is INEVITABLE in a system with crunch thats literally already occurring. Would you rather EVERYONE just play pregens?!

Eidolons - as a class feature, and not full character - get exactly the same customization as any other class feature, including (if we're being generous) Animal Companions.

Every single customization for Animal Companions other than base type (which an Eidolon also gets) is from a class feat.

In the following discussion whether an eidolon closer to a player character or an animal companion, I responded, "Eidolons lack ancestry and background, so they are missing two aspects of a standard player character."

Thus, I want to experiment with setting up ancestry and background for eidolons as a tool for more diversity. However, upon reflection I will called the ancestry aspect Heritage, since most eidolons lack ancestors.

I like to participate in the PF2 playtests; however, my friends are content with our weekly PF2 Ironfang Invasion campaign. Therefore, last year I playtested an oracle by converting an existing NPC in Ironfang Invasion into an oracle. Rhyna, N female human adept 2 and the assistant to the village cleric, became a 1st-level fire oracle.

This year, the party will rescue a halfling Chernasardo Ranger named Cirieo Thessaddin in two days during in my game session at 6pm EDT Friday, September 18, 2020. The module, Fangs of War, intends that he will serve as their guide for several game sessions. "Chernasardo Ranger" means he is a member of a loose-knit band of protectors of Nirmathis. Most of them are rangers, and Cirieo is a 5th-level skirmisher ranger in the module, but I am converting him to a summoner for the playtest.

I need to create a summoner who captures the essence of Cirieo Thessaddin. Playtesting the potential of summoner is more important to me than faithfulness to the PF1 Cirieo, but trying for faithfulness playtests the flexibility and storytelling of the class. Building a 5th-level character offers more chances for mistakes than building 1st-level character, so I hope for comments.

Cirieo is an NPC Gallery character in Fangs of War, so he has a backstory. He grew up in a ranching family on the Nesmian Plains, about 90 miles southwest of the setting of Fangs of War. Human raiders from Molthune killed his family. The boy Cirieo responded by poisoning the raiders' food. He joined other local freedom fighters to fight off other raiders. Without a family, he roved northward. The dedication of the Chernasardo Rangers impressed him, so he joined them.

I may keep his family alive. Instead they would have been captured to be sold as halfling slaves to Cheliax. Young Cirieo would have rescued them with the mystic aid of his new eidolon. Working the eidolon into the story is more fun.

Cirieo's ability scores in the PF1 module are Str 12, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 10. I typically give NPCs four fewer ability score boosts than PCs, but I want Cirieo to have Charisma 18 without mangling the other ability scores, so I shortchange him out of only three fewer ability score boosts. PF2 characters receive four more ability score boosts at 5th level, so 5th-level Cirieo ends up as Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 18.

Cirieo's PF1 trained skills are Acrobatics +6, Climb +8, Handle Animal +8, Heal +9, Knowledge (geography, nature) +5, Perception +11, Stealth +14, Survival +9, Swim +5. This translates to training in Acrobatics, Athletics, Medicine, Nature, and Survival, plus expertise in Stealth. None of these skills are based on Charisma; however, Cirieo will also be trained in Intimidation from his eidolon-selected skills.

His feats were Endurance, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Reload, Rapid Shot. His PF1 ranger combat style was archery, though he used a halfling sling staff for ranged attacks.

The PF2 halfling sling staff has some controversy, because it changed more between editions than just adapting to new rules:
Wait, the halfling sling staff isn’t a staff?
and Is the Halfling Sling Staff worth an Ancestry Feat? and Halfling Slingstaff - Both a melee AND ranged weapon?. The PF1 halfling sling staff is both a ranged weapon that slings a stone with 80-foot range increment to deal 1d6(small)/1d8(medium) damage and a one-handed melee weapon that deals 1d4(small)/1d6(medium) danage. The PF2 halfling sling staff is purely a 2-handed ranged weapon that slings a stone with 80-foot range increment to deal 1d10 damage. I will go with the strict position that a PF2 halfling sling staff is purely ranged. Nevertheless, a ranged weapon makes sense for a martial summoner with a melee eidolon and the halfling sling staff is iconic for halflings. However, he will also carry a shortsword (proficiency also granted by Halfling Weapon Familiarity) for serious melee since that is a finesse weapon. I rule that reloading a halfling sling staff gives a free regrip because I don't see how reloading can work otherwise. That will let him switch between weapons more swiftly.

I gave Cirieo the 1st-level ancestry feat Halfling Weapon Familarity to let him keep his halfling sling staff. For his ancestry heritage he lacks low-light vision and luck abilities and extra languages, so Jinxed Halfling and Twilight Halfling and Nomadic Halfling are out. He has a +2 vs. fear in the module, so Gutsy Halfling would be justified. However, I am curious how the extra healing from Hillock Halfling interacts with the shared hit points with the eidolon, so I am going with that. For his 5th-level ancestry feat, Halfling Weapon Trickster naturally follows Halfling weapon Familiarity and resembles Ranger Weapon Expertise.

Scout background fits his backstory, provides the correct ability score boosts, and give ranger-like training in Survival and Plains Lore and access to the Forager feat.

Cirieo Thassaddin Creature 5
CG, Small, Halfling, Humanoid
Perception +10(expert), keen eyes
Languages Common, Halfling, Sylvan
Skills Acrobatics +10, Athletics +8, Intimidation +11, Medicine +8, Nature +8, Plains Lore +7, Stealth +12(expert), Survival +8.
Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 18
Items +1 resilient studded leather, +1 striking halfling sling staff with 30 bullets, +1 shortsword, dagger, belt, belt pouch, ammunition belt pouch, 3 sheaths, backpack, bedroll, coffee pot, cooking pot, 1 week rations, healer's tools, 50 ft. rope, 25 sp.
Forager Subsist feeds five, Core Rulebook page 261.
AC 23; Fort +11, Ref +11, Will +11
HP 61
Hillock Halfling Heal 5 extra hp overnight and if snacking during Treat Wounds.
Speed 25 feet
Melee +1 shortsword +11 (agile, finesse, versatile S) Damage 1d6+1 piercing
Ranged +1 striking halfling sling staff +11 (halfling, propulsive, 2 hands, reload 1, range increment 80 ft.) Damage 2d10 bludgeoning
Manifest Eidolon [three-actions]
Primal Spontaneous Spells DC 21, attack +11; 3rd (2 slots) haste, slow; 2nd (2 slots) restoration; 1st (0 slots) heal; Cantrips (3rd) dancing lights, produce flame, ray of frost, read aura, stabilize
Summoner Conduit Spells 1 Focus Point, DC 21; 3rd evolution surge, Cantrips (3rd) boost eidolon

Build Choices
Ancestry Hillock Halfling Ancestry Feats Halfling Weapon Familiarity, Halfling Weapon Tricks
Background Scout
Class Feats Sensory Evolution (scent), Unarmed Evolution (shove)
General Feats Armor Proficiency
Skill feats Intimidating Glare, Express Rider

Cirieo Thassaddin grew up on a ranch and that would influence the nature of his eidolon. A ranch could herd cattle, sheep, or goats. Twenty-seven years ago in a D&D 2nd Edition campaign, my wife played a halfling whose cart was pulled by a goat Fluffy, so in remembrance, I am inclined toward a goat eidolon named Fluffy. If the raiders slaughtered Ciriceo's pet goat Fluffy, then Cirieo could envision a beast eidolon based on Fluffy, even though spirits of the dead are more a phantom eidolon's origin.

Fluffy Goat Creature 5
CG, Medium, Beast, Eidolon
Perception +11(expert), darkvision and scent
Languages Common, Halfling, Sylvan
Skills Acrobatics +11, Athletics +11, Intimidation +7, Medicine +9, Nature +9, Plains Lore +7, Stealth +13(expert), Survival +9.
Str 18, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
AC 24; Fort +13, Ref +12, Will +12 (+1 from Cirieo's armor runes factored in)
HP Shared with Cirieo
Speed 25 feet
Melee +1 striking curved horns +14 (shove) Damage 2d8+4 bludgeoning
Melee +1 striking hoof +14 (agile) 2d4+4 bludgeoning
Act Together [one-action]
Share Senses [one-action]
Beast's Charge [two-actions]
Your eidolon rushes forward, using their momentum to power their attack. Your eidolon Strides twice in a straight line and then Strikes, gaining a +1 circumstance bonus to the attack roll as long as they moved at least 20 feet.

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Over in the thread, You might be a bad GM if..., TwilightKnight said,

TwilightKnight wrote:
Instead of focusing on the negative, why not focus on what makes a good GM? Do you really think a “bad” GM is gonna read this and have a sudden epiphany? And invariably this is gonna lead to a “You might be a bad player if” thread.

That is a marvelous suggestion, so I am creating the thread.

First, let me reverse mrspaghetti's 7 bad signs into positive goals:
1) Try to keep the players engaged and interested throughout the entire game session.
2) Reach out to recruit players.
3) Avoid player character deaths that are frustrating rather than heroic.
4) Don't be late to the game sessions.
5) Prepare properly for each game session.
6) Stick to the rules as written except when the players agree on house rules.
7) Everyone should have fun, even if that breaks any of the rules above.

I admit that I have trouble balancing 4 and 5. I was often glad whenever we decided to wait for a late player because that gave me more time to re-read the module descriptions.

I have noticed that one of the Paizo designers' goals has changed combat in Pathfinder 2nd Edition. In Pathfinder 1st Edition a player can construct a character who is supreme in one area, such as massive damage in combat or battlefield control, and almost always exercise that into victory. PF2 prevents that level of advantage. This changes encounter design and pacing, so I hope that the discussion of great GMing covers PF2-specific encounter design.

My own insight into encounter design is that the creatures in the PF2 bestiaries have fewer feats and special abilities than the PCs and balance that with higher attack bonuses. This gives them less versatility, so the PCs can often find their weaknesses and strengths quickly and either exploit the weakness or nullify the strength with adaptive tactics. As a GM back in PF1, I had an informal agreement with my players that if their characters searched for advance information in a reasonable manner, then they would find something. This became more valuable in PF2.

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My players have manipulated events in my game so that they will encounter the BBEG (a 7th-level rogue) during his overland travel on foot rather than in his stronghold. Those players are clever like that. Their ambush site will be where he and his minions ford a small river. I have a few days before the game session to draw a map of the ambush terrain.

I cannot find terrain rules for wading in knee-deep moving water. The rules cover swimming a river, instead:

PF2 Core Rulebook, Game Mastering chapter, Environment section, page 512 wrote:

Currents and Flowing Water

Ocean currents, flowing rivers, and similar moving water are difficult terrain or greater difficult terrain (depending on the speed of the water) for a creature Swimming against the current. At the end of a creature’s turn, it moves a certain distance depending on the current’s speed. For instance, a 10-foot current moves a creature 10 feet in the current’s direction at the end of that creature’s turn.

I have to decide whether the shallow ford counts as difficult terrain, greater difficult terrain, or uneven ground.

PF2 Core Rulebook, Playing the Game chapter, Terrain section, page 476 wrote:

Uneven Ground

Uneven ground is an area unsteady enough that you need to Balance (see Acrobatics on page 240) or risk falling prone and possibly injuring yourself, depending on the specifics of the uneven ground. You are flat-footed on uneven ground. Each time you are hit by an attack or fail a save on uneven ground, you must succeed at a Reflex save (with the same DC as the Acrobatics check to Balance) or fall prone.

The party has two 4th-level rogues, so terrain that leaves the enemy flat-footed, especially an enemy with Deny Advantage to ignore flanking and surprise attack, would be extremely useful to them. Everyone in the party has good ranged attacks. I would adapt the uneven terrain rules so that falling moves a creature 5 feet downstream rather than injuring them, which could sweep the creature into deeper water.

Would uneven terrain be too extreme? It won't last long, for the ford would be only 25 feet wide, unless the target is knocked prone and swept into deeper water.

I told my wife that a rogue with sorcerer dedication cannot get the blood magic ability of her character's bloodline. She wants me to confirm this in the forum here.

The situation is a long and colorful story.

Six years ago, my wife created a halfling sorceress of aberrant bloodline named Wealday Addams. Wealday had been a slave of Dr. Addams of Nidal, who viewed his slaves as guinea pigs for his biological experiements. He had infused her with eldritch essences. This experiement succeeded at giving her abberant sorcery. Wealday used her new powers to escape, stowed away on a ship, and ended up shipwrecked to begin the Serpent's Skull adventure path. Wealday was a very odd character, a half-crazy melee sorceress who talked to her doll in Aklo and became more inhumanly (unhalflingly?) aberrant as she leveled up.

A few months ago, I began the Ironfang Invasion adventure path adapted to PF2 rules. Noticing that Nirmathis was close to Nidal, my wife created Wealday's cousin Toilday, a halfling animal-whisperer rogue of scoundrel racket. Dr. Addams had infused Toilday with the essence of a red dragon and nothing happened, so Toilday became an ordinary slave assigned to tend animals. In the fuss created by Wealday's escape, Toilday escaped, too. The Bellflower Network had helped him get to Phaendar in Nirmathis, where he settled down as a goat herder under the name Sam.

At 2nd level, my wife multiclassed Sam to sorcerer with draconic bloodline. Dr. Addams' vile experiment was yielding a belated success. Sam learned two arcane cantrips Produce Flame and Telekinetic Projectile. Those cantrips serve as Sam's most damaging attacks, though Sam can usually get sneak attack damage with them only in the surprise attack or by using Produce Flame as a melee weapon. Sam is now 3rd level.

The player of the party's champion had to quit due to health problems. Sam now finds himself standing too close to the enemies, because the others in the party prefer to attack from further away than 30 feet. Sam wears durable farm clothes (counts as padded armor, came from Fall of Plaguestone) as light armor. Charisma is his best ability score, leaving his Dexterity at only 14, so between the 2+level proficiency bonus, +2 Dex bonus, and +1 item bonus, his AC is only 18. In the most recent combat, he lost 26 out of 33 hit points. No other party member was hit. Therefore, my wife wants to increase Sam's defenses.

Sam has Strength 10, so the +2 item bonus from studded leather armor comes with a -1 check penalty to strength- and dexterity-based skill checks. My wife does not want that penalty. Shields use up a hand and take an action to raise, so my wife views a shield as too expensive a solution, too.

The nearest solution to Sam's mediocre AC is the +1 status bonus to AC from a draconic bloodline's blood magic.

PF2 Core Rulebook, Classes chapter, Sorcerer, Draconic Bloodline, page 196 wrote:
Blood Magic Draconic scales grow briefly on you or one target, granting a +1 status bonus to AC for 1 round.

However, Sorcerer Dedication does not grant blood magic ability. And no archetype feat offers a way to get it, either.

As an additional problem, blood magic is roused by casting a bloodline focus spell or a bloodline granted spell, and Sam currently lacks those. My wife thinks that Sam gaining the three draconic focus spells (initial: dragon claws; advanced: dragon breath; greater: dragon wings) is closer to her character concept than gaining sorcerer spell slots, so she plans on taking Basic Bloodline Spell, sorcerer archertype feat 4, soon. I will have to fudge the details on Advanced Blood Potency, sorcerer archetype feat 6, to allow her to take Advanced Bloodline, sorcerer feat 6, and Greater Bloodline, sorcerer feat 10, at reasonable levels. For Advanced Blood Potency as written, she would have to take Basic Blood Potency first as a feat tax and then wait for 12th level for Advanced Bloodline and 20th level for Greater Bloodline.

PF2 Core Rulebook, Classes chapter, Archetypes, Sorcerer, page 196 wrote:

Advanced Blood Potency feat 6

Prerequisites Basic Blood Potency
You gain one sorcerer feat. For the purpose of prerequisites, your sorcerer level is half your character level.
Special You can select this feat more than once. Each time you do, you gain another sorcerer feat.

Draco18s and I are arguing over in Mathmuse's Houserules and I would like to hear other people's viewpoints on the issue. I had made an assumption about the Rules As Written when I made up a houserule, and Draco18s rightly pointed out that the rules are inadequately described and could be interpretted differently.

The issue is crafting in batches during the Craft activity.

PF2 Core Rulebook, Skills chapter, Craft activity, page 245 wrote:

Consumables and Ammunition

You can Craft items with the consumable trait in batches,
making up to four of the same item at once with a single
check. This requires you to include the raw materials
for all the items in the batch at the start, and you must
complete the batch all at once. You also Craft non-magical
ammunition in batches, using the quantity listed in Table
6–8: Ranged Weapons (typically 10).

I had assumed that, for example, Crafting 1 batch of 4 Acid Flasks took 4 times as long as Crafting 1 Acid Flask. One lesser Acid Flask costs 3 gp. Suppose the character's Income Earned (Table 4-2, page 236) is 5 sp per day. To make 1 lesser Acid Flask, the character spends 4 days in preparation, spends 1.5 gp in raw materials, and then works 3 days at 0.5 gp per day to finish the Acid Flask. To make a batch of 4 lesser Acid Flasks, with combined price 12 gp, the character spends 4 days in preparation, spends 6 gp in raw materials, and then works 12 days at 0.5 gp per day to finish the remaining 6 gp of work on all 4 Acid Flasks.

Draco18s presented an alternative viewpoint that to create a batch of 4 lesser Acid Flasks, the character spends 4 days in preparation, spends 6 gp in raw materials, and then works 3 days just like with 1 lesser Acid Flask to finish the batch, since they are all brewed together in one large beaker (or cauldron, since he is considering the witch's Cauldron feat).

The only other information I can find about crafting in batches is the Alchemist class's Efficient Alchemy ability. Be warned that usually, when an alchemist ability uses the word "batch," the word is in the phrase "batch of infused reagents" which does not mean batch in the same way Craft uses batch. But Efficient Alchemy appears to use the word batch the same way Craft does.

PF2 Core Rulebook, Classes chapter, Alchemist class, page 77 wrote:


Thanks to the time you’ve spent studying and experimenting,
you know how to scale your formulas into larger batches
that don’t require any additional attention. When spending
downtime to Craft alchemical items, you can produce twice
as many alchemical items in a single batch without spending
additional preparatory time. For instance, if you are creating
elixirs of life, you can craft up to eight elixirs in a single batch
using downtime, rather than four. This does not reduce the
amount of alchemical reagents required or other ingredients
needed to craft each item, nor does it increase your rate of
progress for days past the base downtime spent. This also
does not change the number of items you can create in a batch
using advanced alchemy.

In my total-price approach, Efficient Alchemy is a weak feat. A 3rd-level Crafting expert alchemist whose Income Earned is 5 sp per day could make two separate batches of 4 lesser Acid Flasks over 32 days, 16 days per batch. With Efficient Alchemy the same alchemist could make one batch of 8 lesser Acid Flasks over 28 days. Saving 4 days out of 32 days is only 12.5% of the time. The alchemist could also save 4 days by spending 2 gp to finish the crafting early, so this feat is worth only a few gold pieces.

In contrast, the fast-batch approach means that the alchemist crafting 4 items in a batch makes 2 gp of progress a day, instead of 0.5 gp. That is the progress rate of a 6th-level Crafting expert, 3 levels above our alchemist. The alchemist crafting 8 items in a batch makes 4 gp of progess a day. That is the progress rate of a 9th-level Crafting expert. With fast batch processing, the alchemist finishes 8 Acid Flasks in two 4-item batches in 14 days and an Efficient Alchemy alchemist finishes 8 Acid Flasks in one batch in 7 days. The time is so short that the alchemical items are essentially half price. People are accustomed to that from Pathfinder 1st Edition.

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Weaknesses in Crafting and other Earned Income

In my Iron Gods campaign, the Pathfinder 1st Edition rules for crafting were not up to the extensive mundane crafting my players engaged in, so I switched to the Making Craft Work rules by Mark L. Chance from Spes Magna Games (also available at www.d20pfsrd Alternative Craft Rules). The Pathfinder 2nd Edition rules are much better, but I still found reason to houserule them.

The introduction to Making Craft Work describes some unwanted consequences of the PF1 crafting rules. A few still apply to PF2.
1. In PF2 a more expensive item takes longer to craft even if the more expensive material is easier to work. A gold ring takes longer to craft than an iron ring. In PF2 this still holds true for the full crafting time, but it can be roleplayed realistically by paying more of the material cost for the more expensive material.
2. The excessively long crafting time of the most expensive magic items, such as 28 weeks for full plate, interferes with adventuring. This still holds in PF2 and now applies to magic items, too, except for paying for more raw materials for faster crafting.
3. In PF1 for two items of the same price the one with higher DC is crafted faster. PF2 eliminated this paradox.

I mentioned the PF2 Craft action rule about paying more to finish crafting, "If your attempt to create the item is successful, you expend the raw materials you supplied. You can pay the remaining portion of the item’s Price in materials to complete the item immediately, or you can spend additional downtime days working on it. For each additional day you spend, reduce the value of the materials you need to expend to complete the item." This rule is unrealistic, because materials can't become part of a finished item without more crafting work. Nevertheless, I view this as an acceptable breach from reality for playability. Sometimes a character will have to cut his or her work short, because an emergency occurs or because the party lacks enough downtime for full crafting. A rule to cut crafting short without abandoning the work--and delaying the work for several levels is as bad as abandoning it--makes the game more convenient.

In contrast, the PF2 Craft action rule about preparation time, "You must spend 4 days at work, at which point you attempt a Crafting check," is unacceptable. Currently, I run a PF2 Ironfang Invasion campaign. The players do not plan on much crafting, but they will be away from stores for two modules. And two player characters rely on archery. They will need to craft arrows. I ran into this before in a Serpent's Skull campaign, which leaves the party far from civilization often. The ranger in that campaign spent every evening making arrows. Under PF2 rules, making 10 arrows will take 4 days and 2 hours. The 2 hours can be reduced, the 4 days cannot. As the GM, I can let them find arrows, but a regular supply that way would be a kludge. Craft is supposed to provide a player-controlled workaround. If I instead provide artisan's tools for fletching, then I put the arrow supply into the hands of my players.

Another problem with the PF2 Craft action rule is that the critical success result can be so good that clever players will reroll until they get a critical success. Imagine a 9th-level crafter making the 9th-level greater healer’s gloves. The crafter has Int 18, Master Crafting Proficiency, Magical Crafting feat, and Sterling artisan’s tools for leatherworking. He has a +20 to Craft checks to make gloves. The GM references Table 10-5, DCs by Level, and decides on DC 26 to craft the gloves. The crafter buys 350 gp of raw materials, spends 4 days in preparation, and rolls a 10 for a total of 30. He could spend 88 more days crafting at 4 gp per day to finish the gloves at no additional cost. Instead, he starts over, reusing his raw materials and taking another 4 days and rolls a 5. So he starts over another time, reusing his raw materials and rolls a 16. That is a critical success, so he can spend 59 days crafting at 6 gp per day to finish the gloves at no additional cost. Even with 8 more days spent in preparation, he would spend 21 fewer days on crafting.

Very long crafting times and faster crafting for critical successes could lead to rejecting successes to fish for critical successes. I don't want that behavior. I could use a harsh interpretation of, "If your attempt to create the item is successful, you expend the raw materials you supplied," to prevent a restart on a success, but then I would have to justify why a failure allows reusing the same raw materials and a success doesn't. Besides, I asked my players. They would prefer better items for critical success rather than faster crafting.

And the problem that persuaded me to create houserules is that I exampled the mathematics inside Table 4-2, Income Earned, on page 236 of the PF2 Core Rulebook, and I saw too many flaws (Income on a Curve). I wish to rewrite that table.

Finally, so long as I am creating houserules for Craft, I ought fix snares. The player of a ranger in my campaign is interested in using snares, but the cost is prohibitive. PF2 bent their snare rules to fit them into Crafting rather than Survival and treating them as something to use in the middle of combat. I can make snares more realistic and therefore more useable. I liked playing rangers as the wilderness expert, the person who could find a well-hidden location and set up a campsite there. Setting up snares to guard against attacks in the night fits my vision of ranger class.

Houserules for Earned Income, Earned Income, Subsist, and Snares

EARN INCOME, PF2 Core Rulebook, Skills chapter, page 236, is unchanged except that it no longer uses proficiency rank and Table 4-2, Income Earned, is rewritten.

Alternative Table 4-2: INCOME EARNED
Negative 1st level: 5 cp/day. 0th level: 1 sp/day.
1st level: 2 sp/day. 2nd level: 3 sp/day. 3rd level: 5 sp/day. 4th level: 8 sp/day. 5th level: 13 sp/day.
6th level: 2 gp/day. 7th level: 3 gp/day. 8th level: 4 gp/day. 9th level: 6 gp/day. 10th level: 9 gp/day.
11th level: 13 gp/day. 12th level: 20 gp/day. 13th level: 27 gp/day. 14th level: 40 gp/day. 15th level: 60 gp/day.
16th level: 90 gp/day. 17th level. 130 gp/day. 18th level: 200 gp. 19th level: 300 gp. 20th level: 450 gp.
20th level (critical success): 700 gp.

CRAFT Crafting Trained Skill
Downtime, Manipulate
You can make an item from raw materials. You need the Alchemical Crafting skill feat to create alchemical items, the Magical Crafting skill feat to create magic items, and the Snare Crafting skill feat to create snares. To Craft an item, you must meet the following requirements:
• The item is your level or lower. An item that doesn’t list a level is level 0.
• You have the formula for the item; see Formulas below for more information.
• You have an appropriate set of tools and, in many cases, a workshop. For example, you need access to a smithy to forge a metal shield. Sometimes the tools can be improvised, such as using a wookworker's kit to work leather, but that imposes a -2 item penalty.
• You must supply raw materials worth at least 50% the item’s Price, or 40% if Expert in Crafting, 30% if Master in Crafting, and 20% if Legendary in Crafting. in You expend the supplied raw materials when you Craft successfully. If in a settlement, you can usually spend currency to get the amount of raw materials you need, except in the case of rarer precious materials. If in the wild, you might be able to Harvest to obtain the raw materials.

When you begin work, you attempt a Crafting check. The GM determines the DC to Craft the item based on its level, rarity, and other circumstances. If your attempt to create the item is successful, you expend the raw materials you supplied. You can pay the remaining portion of the item’s Price in materials to complete the item immediately, or you can spend additional downtime days working on it. For each additional day you spend, reduce the value of the materials you need to expend to complete the item. This amount is determined using Table 4–2: Income Earned (page 236), using your own level instead of a task level. You may work individual hours instead of days, up to a maximum of 8 hours per day. Progress per hour is one eighth the progress per day. At the end of any downtime day, you can complete the item by spending the remaining portion of its Price in materials. If the downtime days you spend are interrupted, you can return to finish the item later, continuing where you left off, if it is safely stored.
Critical Success Your attempt is successful. You may create a better version of your item instead of the intended version. See Better Items below.
Success Your attempt is successful. Each additional hour spent Crafting reduces the materials needed to complete the item by an amount based on your level.
Failure You fail to complete the item. You can salvage 90% of the raw materials you supplied for their full value. Before you can try again, you must spend 1 day studying the formula for the item.
Critical Failure You fail to complete the item. You can salvage 75% of the raw materials you supplied for their full value. Before you can try again, you must spend 2 days studying the formula for the item.

You can Craft item in batches of identical items. This requires you to include the raw materials for all the items in the batch at the start, they all use the same Craft check, and you must complete the batch together. You can make a batch of four identical items consumable trait in batches, such as Acid Flasks, or a batch of ten ammunition items, such as arrows. You can also put together a daily batch, consisting of few enough identical items that you can Craft them in a single day.

A formula is necessary to craft any item. You memorize any formula in your formula book, but if you fail a Crafting check to Craft an item, you must study the formula book itself to be able to try again. You can gain access to the formulas for all common items in Chapter 6: Equipment by purchasing a basic crafter’s book (page 287). See the rules on page 293 for information on how to acquire other formulas.

Better Items
One a critical success the crafted item is better than any item in the store. It gains an additional minor beneficial trait or slightly better numbers or reduces a hindering trait, that would raise the quality of the item by at most one level. This increases its selling price by 50%, but does not increase its crafting price. Better items disassembled to yield a formula provide only the original formula, not a better formula, and better common items are uncommon items for purchase.

The improvement cannot change the item's nature, shape, material, or cultural adoption, so a longbow gaining the Elf, Free-hand, or Trip trait would not be plausible. On the other hand, a better elven curve blade could gain Trip because it is a curved sword like a temple sword. A better longbow could gain the propulsive ability, becoming as useful as a composite longbow. Or a better longbow could have its volley 30 feet reduced to volley 15 feet. Matching a nearly-identical item of twice the price is plausible, so a better wooden shield could have the hardness and hit points of a steel shield. In contrast, a better 0th-level fishing tackle cannot gain the +1 item bonus of 3rd-level professional fishing tackle, due to the difference of 4 levels, but it could gain the +1 item bonus under special circumstances, such as fishing in mountain terrain. In general, a +1 bonus upgrades by more than one level.

SUBSIST is replaced by HARVEST.

You gather food or raw materials from the local terrain. Harvesting as a downtime activity takes one day and yields the desired raw materials according to Alternative Table 4-2, Income Earned. You declare the nature of the raw materials you seek, such as "raw materials for making arrows" or "meat and enough fireword to cook it." The GM determines the skill and DC based on the place and a task level based on the availability of the materials. The skill fits the nature of the terrain, such as Survival for a wild place and Society for an urban location. The DC reflects the difficulty in spotting and extracting the raw materials, following the five simple skill DCs in Table 10-4, Simple DCs, on page 503. For example, finding raw material for building a wall (mostly stone) would be Crafting or Mining Lore with Untrained DC 10 in mountains and Expert DC 20 in swamps. The task level reflects the maximum rate at which the raw materials can be found, and defaults to your level if the material is abundant. Appropriate tools are also required, such as saws for harvesting timber or mining tools and a smelter for harvesting ore and refining it into metal.
Critical Success Your harvest is very successful. You return with twice as much raw material as success or spend half the time as success.
Success Your harvest is successful. You return with the full value in the raw materials according to Alternative Table 4-2, Income Earned for the task level.
Failure Your harvest is marginal. You return with half the value in the raw materials for the task level.
Critical Failure Your harvest is fruitless. You return with nothing.

Harvesting from a local terrain can also be an exploration activity while traveling up to half speed. It yields 1/10th the value in Alternative Table 4-2, Income Earned, per hour instead of full value per day. A single available object, such as an edible carcass or a disabled trap, can be stripped for harvesting, too, as a 1-hour exploration activity. It can be harvested in one hour for a full day's harvest, but the type of resources recovered depends on the nature of the object.

Raw Materials and Food
Raw materials are non-specific consumable items that can be refined into other items. Freshly gathered food is a raw material that can be eaten as is or refined into meals (Table 6-14, Basic Services and Consumables, page 294) or rations (Table 6–9, Adventuring Gear, page 288) via a Craft or Cooking Lore activity. A character can nourish themselves with 5 cp of food or meals per day. Living off of half that food for 4 consecutive days or no food for 2 consecutive days leads to fatigue. The use of raw materials measured in price, so price per quantity information is seldom available. For cheap, bulky raw materials, such as wood or food, estimate their bulk as 1 bulk per silver piece of raw materials. Less bulky raw materials might be 1 bulk per gold piece, and expensive raw materials might be 1 light bulk per gold piece. To avoid confusion about price, the purchasing price and selling price of raw materials are the same, as if they were other currency (page 271).

Snares (page 589) are no longer crafted in place. Instead, snares are crafted at a campsite or workshop, carried to the place of use, and deployed with a 1-minute Interact activity. You can deploy only a snare of your level or less. Deploying the snare starts in the snare's square and finishes in an adjacent square. Two or more characters can work together to deploy the snare in half a minute, and all will count as the deployer for disabling and retrieving the snare. A snare has bulk 1, but any number of snares can be packed into a snare kit without increasing its bulk.

Erase the sentences in Disabling Snares on page 589 that said, "As you become better at creating snares, your snares become harder to disable by those with lesser ability. If you are an expert in Crafting, only a creature that is trained in Thievery can disable them; if you are a master in Crafting, only a creature that is an expert in Thievery can
disable them; and if you are legendary in Crafting, only a creature that is a master in Thievery can disable them." I view this as unnecessarily complicated. The increasing DC should be enough challenge.

A disabled snare can be harvested for parts, a raw material for building devices. A triggered snare is destroyed and cannot be harvested. If you deployed a snare, then you can automatically disarm it without triggering it by spending an Interact action while adjacent to the snare, and a similar Interact action can re-arm it. With a 1-minute activity, you can return a disarmed snare you deployed to its undeployed form that can be carried or packed again.

The following feats also change:

General, Skill
Prerequisites trained in Crafting
You can use the Craft activity to create snares, using the houserule Craft rules. You can attempt to undeploy a disarmed deployed snare with a 10-minute Craft check against the snare's item DC. Failure destroys the snare. When you select this feat, you add the formulas for four common snares to your formula book.

Prerequisites expert in Crafting, Snare Crafting
You specialize in improvising cheap traps to obstruct your enemies on the battlefield. If your proficiency rank in Crafting is expert, you gain the formulas for three common or uncommon snares (page 589). If your rank is master, you gain 6. If your rank is legendary, you gain 9.
Each day during your daily preparations, if you have a snare kit, you can prepare four makeshift snares from your formula book for quick deployment without spending resources. You can deploy them with 3 Interact actions. These makeshift snares are stored in your snare kit, cannot be harvested or sold, and are disassembled as you make your next day's makeshift snares. The number of makeshift snares increases to six if you have master proficiency in Crafting and eight if you have legendary proficiency in Crafting.

Prerequisites expert in Crafting, Snare Specialist
You can rig a snare in only moments. You can deploy a snare with 3 Interact actions.

No change to POWERFUL SNARES ranger feat 8.

Prerequisites master in Crafting, Snare Specialist
You can rig a trap with incredible speed. You can deploy a snare in 1 Interact actions.

Prerequisites Snare Specialist
You have arranged your snare kit for amazing utility. Double the number of daily makeshift snares from Snare Specialist.

Auditory, Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Price 3 gp
You create an alarm snare by rigging one or more noisy objects to a trip wire or pressure plate. When you deploy an alarm snare, you designate a range between 100 to 500 feet at which it can be heard. The trigger for the alarm can cover four additional contiguous squares. When a Small or larger creature enters a trigger square, the snare makes a noise loud enough that it can be heard by all creatures in the range you designated. This snare is disarmed but not destroyed when triggered.

WARNING SNARE also gains the four additional contiguous squares for its trigger.

Trip Snare downgraded to snare 1. I could not stand that a simple strand of wire was a 4th-level item.
Mechanical, Snare, Tap
Price 3 gp
You set a well-anchored wire to trip a creature. A Trip Snare is deployed in one to four squares in a straight line. Any walking creature that steps into a trigger square or crosses over them diagonally must attempt a DC 20 Reflex save. A Large or bigger creature for which some of its girth did not cross the squares makes a DC 15 Reflex save instead. A creature that noticed the Trip Snare has any failure or critical failure upgraded to success. This snare is not destroyed when triggered.
Critical Success The creature is unaffected.
Success The creature is flat-footed until the start of its next turn.
Failure The creature falls prone.
Critical Failure The creature falls prone and takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage. The snare is destroyed.

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The discussion on the thread Savings from Crafting reached a point where I wanted to perform a mathematical analysis of Table 4–2, Income Earned, before I commented further. The discussion died down, so I had plenty of time for the analysis. This post is merely to present the results.

I had performed this analysis before (Unskilled labor unable to live at Subsistence Cost of Living, comment #13) on the playtest version of the Income Earned table, but the real key to the table is a description Mark Seifter gave in Trickle Down Alchemy Economics, comment #16:

Mark Seifter wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
I have been thinking about the crafting rules as written in the Playtest Rulebook and its updates and trying to analyze its patterns.
I don't think it's even mathematically possible to figure out the formula we used for item value / crafting, especially after the rounding (as you posited later), but even without the rounding, it's a piecewise-defined function on a logarithmic y axis, so one function won't cut it.

I used to break secret codes for a living, so that is a cakewalk for me. Explaining the math to other people, that's the challenge.

That "logarithmic y axis" is familiar to players who have played a character over several levels. I use the x axis and call it exponential instead, unless I use the old-fashioned phrase geometric progression. A moderate encounter (80 xp by Table 10-1, Encounter Budget, page 489) against a 1st level party would be 2 orc warriors, creature 1. To get the same threat against a 2nd-level party requires 3 orc warriors. Against a 3rd-level party requires 4 orc warriors, against a 4th-level party requires 6 orc warriors, against a 5th-level party requires 8 orc warriors, against a 6th-level party requires 12 orc warriors, and so on, except that the system breaks down for large differences between levels. That sequence 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, etc. is an exponential sequence with growth rate 1.4142, the square root of 2. The exact sequence is supposed to be 2, 2.83, 4, 5.66, 8, 11.31, 16, but 3 orc warriors are easier to play than 2.83. The error between the rounded values and the exact values is less than 7%.

Character Wealth also follows an exponential curve. Its growth rate is 1.4678, the sixth root of 10. Using a root of 10 means that the numbers will be rounder and 1.4678 is close enough to 1.4142 for practical purposes. Actually, Character Wealth starts that growth rate at 6th level. Before 6th level it grows even faster, pretty much doubling every level. I suspect the higher growth rate at the lower levels is because plenty of low-level foes have mundane gear, so controlling the acquisition of mundane-level wealth by restricting enemy gear is more difficult.

Comparing Character Wealth to 1.4678 growth:
Lump Sum column of Table 10-10, Character Wealth, page 511, compared to formula (100 gp)×(1.4678)^(level-2).
1st level: 15 gp (22% of 68.1 gp)
2nd level: 30 gp (30% of 100 gp)
3rd level: 75 gp (51% of 147 gp)
4th level: 140 gp (65% of 215 gp)
5th level: 270 gp (85% of 316 gp)
6th level: 450 gp (97% of 464 gp)
7th level: 720 gp (106% of 681 gp)
8th level: 1100 gp (110% of 1000 gp)
9th level: 1600 gp (109% of 1470 gp)
10th level: 2300 gp (107% of 2150 gp)
11th level: 3200 gp (101% of 3160 gp)
12th level: 4500 gp (97% of 4640 gp)
13th level: 6400 gp (94% of 6810 gp)
14th level: 9300 gp (93% of 10000 gp)
15th level: 13500 gp (92% of 14700 gp)
16th level: 20000 gp (93% of 21500 gp)
17th level: 30000 gp (95% of 31600 gp)
18th level: 45000 gp (97% of 46400 gp)
19th level: 69000 gp (101% of 68100 gp)
20th level: 112000 gp (112% of 100000 gp)

The wealth varies from the 1.4678 exponential curve by at most 10% between 6th level and 19th level.

Prices are harder to mathematically model, since we have a range of prices for items at a single level. However, we can find a reasonably smooth price curve by taking the maximum price of permanent items at each level.

Comparing Maximum Prices to 1.4678 growth:
Maximum Prices from Table 11-1, Treasure by Level, pages 536-542, compared to formula (100 gp)×(1.4678)^(level-4).
1st level: 18 gp (57% of 31.6 gp)
2nd level: 40 gp (86% of 46.4 gp)
3rd level: 60 gp (88% of 68.1 gp)
4th level: 100 gp (100% of 100 gp)
5th level: 160 gp (109% of 147 gp)
6th level: 250 gp (116% of 215 gp)
7th level: 360 gp (114% of 316 gp)
8th level: 500 gp (108% of 464 gp)
9th level: 700 gp (103% of 681 gp)
10th level: 1000 gp (100% of 1000 gp)
11th level: 1400 gp (95% of 1470 gp)
12th level: 2000 gp (93% of 2150 gp)
13th level: 3000 gp (95% of 3160 gp)
14th level: 4500 gp (97% of 4640 gp)
15th level: 7000 gp (103% of 6810 gp)
16th level: 11200 gp (112% of 10000 gp)
17th level: 15000 gp (102% of 14700 gp)
18th level: 24000 gp (112% of 21500 gp)
19th level: 40000 gp (127% of 31600 gp)
20th level: 90000 gp (194% of 46400 gp)

The maximum price varies from the 1.4678 exponential curve by at most 14% between 2nd level and 18th level.

Table 4-2, Income Earned, on page 236 has five columns of incomes. The four columns that represent successfully earning income are Trained, Expert, Master, and Legendary. For the first 4 rows, from 0th level to 3rd level, the four columns have the same incomes. At 4th level, the Trained column's income begins to fall short of the other three incomes, gradually falling further and further behind until it stabilizes near half the value of the Expert column beginning at 15th level. Similarly, the Expert income is the same as the Master and Legendary incomes until it falls behind at 10th level. And the Master income is the same as the Legendary income until it falls behind at 16th level.

Clearly the four columns are supposed to represent that in the long run, greater proficiency rank gives more income. A Master cook in a restaurant can earn more than a Trained cook. The rows tell that character level also affects income. While level and proficiency bonus are linked, I believe that the main reason to link income with level is to enable crafting. Since crafting involves working until the crafter achieves the full price of the item, income (crafting rate) ought to keep up with the rising prices or crafting time would become impossibly lengthy. As the table below shows, combining the maximum prices with legendary earned income keeps maximum crafting time from growing out of bounds. Er, sort of.

Longest Craft Time:
Craft time for Maximum Prices from Table 11-1, Treasure by Level, pages 536-542, assuming crafter is same level as the item, and ignoring the 4-day preparation time.
1st level: (1/2)(18 gp)/(0.2 gp/day) = 45 days
2nd level: (1/2)(40 gp)/(0.3 gp/day) = 67 days
3rd level: (1/2)(60 gp)/(0.5 gp/day) = 60 days
4th level: (1/2)(100 gp)/(0.8 gp/day) = 63 days
5th level: (1/2)(160 gp)/(1 gp/day) = 80 days
6th level: (1/2)(250 gp)/(2 gp/day) = 63 days
7th level: (1/2)(360 gp)/(2.5 gp/day) = 72 days
8th level: (1/2)(500 gp)/(3 gp/day) = 84 days
9th level: (1/2)(700 gp)/(4 gp/day) = 88 days
10th level: (1/2)(1000 gp)/(6 gp/day) = 84 days
11th level: (1/2)(1400 gp)/(8 gp/day) = 88 days
12th level: (1/2)(2000 gp)/(10 gp/day) = 100 days
13th level: (1/2)(3000 gp)/(15 gp/day) = 100 days
14th level: (1/2)(4500 gp)/(20 gp/day) = 113 days
15th level: (1/2)(7000 gp)/(28 gp/day) = 125 days
16th level: (1/2)(11200 gp)/(40 gp/day) = 140 days
17th level: (1/2)(15000 gp)/(55 gp/day) = 137 days
18th level: (1/2)(24000 gp)/(90 gp/day) = 134 days
19th level: (1/2)(40000 gp)/(130 gp/day) = 154 days
20th level: (1/2)(90000 gp)/(200 gp/day) = 225 days

Ignoring the off-the-curve low prices at 1st, 2nd. and 3rd levels and high prices at 19th and 20th level, the longer crafting time varies from 63 days at low levels to 140 days at high levels. The rising earned income does not keep up with the rising prices.

The growth rate of prices is close to 1.4678 from 4th level to 18th level, but the growth rate of crafting varies so much that I cannot model it as a single growth rate with a few exception at each end. Changing growth rates in the columns is inevitable when two columns that matched each other diverge. Yet I had hoped that the Legendary column would have a fixed growth rate. It doesn't. It appears to have at least three different growth rates.

Comparing Legendary Column of Income Earned Table to a Piecewise Curve:
Legendary column of Table 4-2, Income Earned, page 236 compared to piecemeal combination of three curves.
1st level: 2 sp (100% of transition point 2sp)
2nd level: 3 sp (95% of 1.585 curve 3.17 sp)
3rd level: 5 sp (100% of 1.585 curve 5.02 sp)
4th level: 8 sp (100% of 1.585 curve 7.96 sp)
5th level: 10 sp (79% of 1.585 curve 12.6 sp)
6th level: 20 sp (100% of transition point 20 sp)
7th level: 25 sp (96% of 1.308 curve 26.2 sp)
8th level: 30 sp (88% of 1.308 curve 34.2 sp)
9th level: 40 sp (89% of 1.308 curve 44.8 sp)
10th level: 60 sp (102% of 1.308 curve 58.5 sp)
11th level: 80 sp (105% of 1.308 curve 76.5 sp)
12th level: 100 sp (100% of transition point 100 sp)
13th level: 150 sp (106% of 1.414 curve 141 sp)
14th level: 200 sp (100% of 1.414 curve 200 sp)
15th level: 280 sp (99% of 1.414 curve 283 sp)
16th level: 400 sp (100% of 1.414 curve 400 sp)
17th level: 550 sp (97% of 1.414 curve 566 sp)
18th level: 900 sp (112% of 1.414 curve 800 sp)
19th level: 1300 sp (115% of 1.414 curve 1131 sp)
20th level: 2000 sp (125% of 1.414 curve 1600 sp)
20th crit: 3000 sp (133% of 1.414 curve 2263 sp)

The three curves start with a steady exponential growth of 1.585 from 2sp at 20 sp at 6th level, which means that the curve automatically fits the endpoints perfectly. Likewise, I used a steady exponential growth of 1.308 from 20 sp at 6th level to 100 sp at 12th level. Past that, the curve appeared to be the familar 1.414 growth rate used for experience points per level. That broke down at 18th level, but given the amount of rounding there, I can't determine the intended growth rate there.

The curves also show that earning 10 sp at 5th level is well below the intended curve. It should be 12 or 13 sp. That would not matter if the money were a price, since prices vary, but this 10 sp earning is also the reward for critical success at 4th level. An extra 2 sp is a disappointing reward when 3rd level gets an extra 3 sp.

Another oddity in the Income Earned table that if the columns are intended to pay off for higher proficiency rank, then why do they have a time delay. A character can become an Expert at 3rd level (2nd level for rogues) but the Expert column does not give more earnings until 4th level. A character can become a Master at 7th level, but the Master column does not give more earnings until 10th level. A character can become Legendary at 15th level, but the Legendary column does not give more earnings until 16th level.

I also found that the critical success rules for Crafting have an unintended consequence due to the 1.3 or higher rate of increases in Income Earned by level, but that is a matter for another post: Mathmuse's Houserules.

Yesterday in my Ironfang Invasion game adapted to PF2, I ran into trouble with a closed unlocked door. I wonder whether there was a better way to play it. Houserules are an acceptable solution to me.

The party was trying to get non-combatant people across the Phaendar bridge to escape from hobgoblin soldiers. NPC Aubrin the Green asked the elf Chernasardo-hopeful ranger Zinfandel to fetch an item out of a nearby shed where Aubrin had stashed it until needed. Two people, husband and wife, had taken shelter in the shed after the husband was hit by a arrow shot by a hobgoblin soldier. The hobgobins were deliberately targetting the civilians in order to intimidate them into surrendering. Aubrin wanted them over the bridge, too.

Zinfandel Strode 15 feet to the shed's door as her first action. She Interacted to open the door as her second action, and I allowed her to Step through and close the door behind her as part of the same action. She spoke firmly to the two people, making a Request as her third action.

If I had played this by the book it would have taken five actions: Stride to the door, Interact to open the door, Step to go through the door, Interact to close the door, and Request to speak to the couple inside. Zinfandel had to close the door behind her; otherwise, the hobgoblin heavy trooper would have had a clear line to shoot at the couple through the open doorway, with Zinfandel providing soft cover.

On the townsfolks' turn, the wife Stepped 5 feet to the door, Interacted to open it, and Strode 25 more feet. In contrast, her injured husband who followed took 3 Stride actions and ended up 40 feet ahead of her. Zinfandel asked her to leave the door open, because getting shot with an arrow would be less trouble than dealing with a closed door.

During my PF1 games, I used a rule that opening a door during Movement cost 5 feet of movement. I don't recall whether that was a houserule or not.

The issue is not so much that opening the door costs a full Interact action. The main loss of movement is that first Stride action has to be cut short in order to Interact with the door. Maybe I should invent a two-action Acrobatics-based activity Moving Interact that allows Interactions during a Stride. But I hope that the rules as written provide a more realistic method of moving through a closed door.

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I am converting the Ironfang Invasion adventure path to Pathfinder 2nd Edition and starting the campaign in about two weeks. I send preliminary character creation information to my potential players before the campaign, so that is what I converted first. I converted campaign traits from the Ironfang Invasion Player's Guide into campaign backgrounds.

I started methodically by cataloging all the available PF2 backgrounds. Each background provides an ability boost from a selection of two ability scores, a free ability boost, a Lore skill, a non-Lore skill, and a 1st-level skill feat in the non-Lore skill. The Lore skill usually related to the profession of the background. Since each skill feat is associated with a skill and each skill is associated with an ability score, I sorted everything into a outline format where the skills are grouped by related ability score and the 1st-level skill feats are grouped by their skills. I put the 34 backgrounds from the PF2 Core Rulebook and the 9 backgrounds from the Age of Ashes Player's Guide into those sorted categories, and marked them with their alternative ability boost not associated with their skill feat.

* Athletics -> Combat Climber, Hefty Hauler (Laborer CON), Quick Jump (Martial Disciple(1 of 2) DEX), Titan Wrestler, Underwater Marauder (Sailor DEX)

* Acrobatics -> Cat Fall (Martial Disciple(2 of 2) STR), Quick Squeeze, Steady Balance (Acrobat STR)
* Stealth -> Experienced Smuggler (Criminal INT, Prisoner STR CON), Terrain Stalker (Emancipated‡ CHA)
* Thievery -> Pickpocket (Street Urchin CON, Returning Descendent‡ WIS), Subtle Theft


* Arcana -> Arcane Sense
* Crafting -> Alchemical Crafting, Quick Repair, Snare Crafting, Specialty Crafting (Artisan STR, Artist DEX CHA, Tinker DEX, Local Scion‡ CON CHA)
* Lore -> Additional Lore, Experienced Professional
* Occultism -> Oddity Identification (Fortune Teller CHA)
* Society -> Courtly Graces (Noble CHA, Hellknight Historian‡ STR), Multilingual (Emissary CHA), Read Lips, Sign Language, Streetwise (Detective WIS)

* Medicine -> Battle Medicine (Field Medic CON)
* Nature -> Natural Medicine (Herbalist CON), Train Animal (Animal Whisperer CHA)
* Religion -> Student of the Canon (Acolyte INT, Haunting Vision‡ CON)
* Survival -> Experienced Tracker (Bounty Hunter STR), Forager (Scout DEX), Survey Wildlife (Hunter DEX), Terrain Expertise ((underground) Miner STR, Reputation Seeker‡ DEX INT)

* Deception -> Charming Liar (Charlatan INT), Lengthy Diversion, Lie to Me (Gambler DEX, Truth Seeker‡ STR WIS)
* Diplomacy -> Bargain Hunter (Merchant INT), Group Impression (Barrister INT), Hobnobber (Barkeep CON, Out-of-Towner‡ CON INT)
* Intimidation -> Group Coercion, Intimidating Glare (Warrior STR CON, Dragon Scholar‡ STR), Quick Coercion (Guard STR)
* Performance -> Fascinating Performance (Entertainer DEX), Impressive Performance (Gladiator STR), Virtuosic Performer

* Multiskill -> Assurance (STR Athletics: Farmhand CON WIS, WIS Survival: Nomad CON WIS, INT Arcana or WIS Nature or INT Occultism or Wis Religion: Scholar INT WIS), Dubious Knowledge (WIS Nature or INT Occultism: Hermit CON INT), Quick Identification, Recognize Spell, Skill Training, Trick Magic Item

‡ from Age of Ashes campaign background

The table above is not perfectly orderly. Assurance, Dubious Knowledge, and a few other 1st-level skill feats are associated with several skills, so I sorted them into a separate Multiskill line. Scholar took advantage of Assurance's multiskill nature to offer a choice of skills, and Hermit did the same for Dubious Knowledge. Martial Discipline background gives a choice of two separate skills and has a different feat associated with each skill. Artist, Farmhand, Nature-based Hermit, Prisoner, Local Scion‡, Out-of-Towner‡, Reputation Seeker‡, and Truth Seeker‡ offer a skill and skill feat not matched to either of their ability boosts. That mismatch is more common with the Age of Ashes backgrounds than the Core Rulebook backgrounds. I speculate that this is because the Core Rulebook is about balanced character design and the Age of Ashes Player's Guide is about campaign-flavor character design.

Here are my efforts to convert 9 Ironfang Invasion campaign traits into campaign backgrounds.

1. Animal Whisperer background
You’ve spent more of your life around animals than people, and find them easier to understand.
Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Wisdom or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.
You’re trained in the Nature skill and a Lore skill related to one terrain inhabited by animals you like (such as Plains Lore
or Swamp Lore).
You gain the Train Animal skill feat.

"Ironfang Invasion Player's Guide, Campaign Traits, page 7 wrote:

Animal Whisperer: You’ve spent more of your life around animals than people, and find them easier to understand. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Handle Animal

checks, and Handle Animal is always a class skill for you. Your trait bonus increases to +5 whenever you attempt to
“push” a wild animal to perform a trick for you, so long as its attitude is indifferent or friendlier. You may target creatures of the animal type with charm or compulsion spells as if they were humanoids, but unless you have another ability to make yourself understood to animals, you must still succeed at a Handle Animal check to “push” your target in order to communicate specific requests.

Design Notes: Okay, this one had the same name and theme as a Core Rulebook background, so I copied it. The PF1 Handle Animal skill was merged into the PF2 Nature skill, so Nature makes sense for the trained skill.

2. Blight-Burned background
You were raised deep in the Fangwood Forest, but in your childhood the Darkblight overtook your community, and blighted fey attacked your friends and family. Even after escaping, you barely survived infection by the otherworldly fungal disease and still bear a fey scar from your ordeal.
Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.
You’re trained in the Stealth skill and the Darkblight Lore skill.
You gain the Canny Acumen general feat for Fortitude Saves.

"Ironfang Invasion Player's Guide, Campaign Traits, page 7 wrote:

Blight-Burned: You were raised deep in the Fangwood Forest, but in your childhood the Darkblight overtook your community, and blighted fey attacked your friends

and family. Even after escaping, you barely survived infection by the otherworldly fungal disease and still bear a terrible scar from your ordeal. You gain a +2 trait bonus on Fortitude saving throws against disease or poison (your choice), and your scar now throbs painfully in the presence of unnatural creatures, immediately alerting you to their presence. This sixth sense alerts you to the presence of aberrations, oozes, and all creatures with the blighted fey and fungal creature templates within 30 feet (though it doesn’t indicate their exact location). You can always act during the surprise round against such creatures, and you aren’t considered flat-footed against such creatures in the first round of combat.

Design Notes: In order to give a bonus to Fortitude, I had to select a 1st-level general feat rather than a 1st-level skill feat. This makes Blight-Burned exceptional as a background. It also gives no hint about a skill. The part about surprise round, however, favors a skill that is rolled often in initiative, and having Stealth as a means of escaping the blight makes a good story, so I selected Stealth. Dexterity is tied to Stealth and Charisma is tied to fey.

3. Chernasardo Hopeful background
You’ve pledged your skills and your life to the Chernasardo rangers, studying to protect your homeland from foreign invaders. You currently remain a neophyte in this secretive guerrilla army. You have yet to be entrusted with many of their secrets, and spend a great deal of time training with the old ranger Aubrin in Phaendar to hone your skills of hunting and tracking.
Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Dexterity, and one is a free ability boost.
You’re trained in the Survival skill and in either the Forest Lore skill or the Plains Lore skill.
You gain the Terrain Expertise feat for the terrain you selected for your lore.

Ironfang Invasion Player's Guide, Campaign Traits, page 8 wrote:
Chernasardo Hopeful: You’ve pledged your skills and your life to the Chernasardo rangers, studying to protect your homeland from foreign invaders. You currently remain a neophyte in this secretive guerrilla army. You have yet to be entrusted with many of their secrets, and spend a great deal of time training with the old ranger Aubrin in Phaendar to hone your skills of hunting and tracking. In forest or plains terrain, you may reduce a single target’s effective level of concealment against you (from total concealment to concealment to not concealed) by studying your natural surroundings as a move action. This reduced concealment ends immediately once the target moves from its current location. At 10th level, you may study your terrain as a swift action instead.

Design Notes: This background is about wanting to become a ranger, so its two ability boosts are the two choices for ranger ability boosts. The rest is about terrain, so I considered Terrain Expertise and Terrain Stalker as skill feats. The original trait was about finding opponents so Terrain Expertise fit better. In addition, Terrain Expertise tied to Forests or Plains while Terrain Stalker tied to rubble, snow, or underbrush. Thus, to say closer to the original, I went with Terrain Expertise.

4. Foxclaw Scout background
You are part of Nirmathas’s informal network of hunters and scouts known as the Foxclaws, and study the dangerous beasts that prey upon your fellow settlers.
Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.
You’re trained in the Survival skill, Animal Lore skill, and Beast Lore skill.
You gain the Survey Wildlife feat.

Ironfang Invasion Player's Guide, Campaign Traits, page 8 wrote:
Foxclaw Scout: You are part of Nirmathas’s informal network of hunters and scouts known as the Foxclaws, and study the secret vulnerabilities of those dangerous beasts that prey upon your fellow settlers. You gain a +2 trait bonus to confirm critical hits against creatures of the animal, magical beast, and vermin types, and while wearing a trophy from an animal, magical beast, or vermin whose CR was higher than your current class level, you gain a +1 morale bonus on Will saves.

Design Notes: Will saves suggested Wisdom as a choice for an ability boost, and Dexterity seemed the other natural choice for a scout (the Scout background from the Core Rulebook also offered Dexterity or Wisdom). The emphasis on creatures as opponents led to Survival and Survey Wildlife. To provide Recall Knowledge about the hostile "creatures of the animal, magical beast, and vermin types" I gave both Animal Lore for animals and vermin and Beast Lore for magical beasts. This is unusual in granting a pair of Lore skills, but they are closely related.

5. Frontier Healer background
You make your way in life by putting people back together after the rigors of the world take
their toll—brewing herbal remedies, setting broken bones, and treating diseases.
Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Constitution or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost.
You’re trained in the Nature skill and the Herbalism Lore skill.
You gain the Natural Medicine skill feat.

Ironfang Invasion Player's Guide, Campaign Traits, page 8 wrote:
Frontier Healer: You make your way in life by putting people back together after the rigors of the world take their toll—brewing herbal remedies, setting broken bones, and treating diseases. You gain a +1 trait bonus on all Heal and Knowledge (nature) checks, and one of these skills is always a class skill for you. Any time you restore hit points using the Heal skill or a cure spell (but not with channeled energy, lay on hands, or a magic device such as a potion or wand), you restore 1 additional hit point, plus 1 for every 2 class levels you have beyond 1st.

Design Notes: This trait is built around Heal and Knowledge(nature), which became Medicine and Nature in PF2. The Herbalist background from the Core Rulebook already combined the two, so I copied it. The Frontier Healer even mentioned herbal remedies in its description, so Herbalism Lore fit, too.

6. Ironfang Survivor background
Whether you were serving in the military or simply beset by a surprise attack, you barely survived an encounter with the Ironfang Legion, one of Molthune’s infamous monster regiments. Maybe you even survived the horrors of the Ramgate Massacre. You can’t scrub the memories of their brutality from your waking or sleeping mind, and you keenly recall their
distinctive fighting styles.
Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Constitution, and one is a free ability boost.
You are trained in the Intimidation skill and the Ironfang Legion Lore skill.
You gain a Hobgoblin Hatred background feat identical to the Vengeful Hatred dwarf ancestry feat but against goblins.

Ironfang Invasion Player's Guide, Campaign Traits, page 8 wrote:
Ironfang Survivor: Whether you were serving in the military or simply beset by a surprise attack, you barely survived an encounter with the Ironfang Legion, one of Molthune’s infamous monster regiments. Maybe you even survived the horrors of the Ramgate Massacre. You can’t scrub the memories of their brutality from your waking or sleeping mind, and you keenly recall their distinctive fighting styles. You gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC against goblinoids, and once per day when you attempt an Intimidate, Sense Motive, or Stealth check against a goblinoid, you can roll two dice and use the better result.

Design Notes: This trait is clearly racial hatred against goblinoids, and PF2 lacks any skill traits that reflect racial hatred. However, the Dwarves have the Vengeful Hatred ancestry feat, so I adapted that. That left no skill associations to guide other choices, so I just chose soldierly ones: Strength, Constitution, and Intimidation.

7. Kraggodan Castaway background (Dwarf Only)
You hail from the dwarven Sky Citadel of Kraggodan in southern Nirmathas and have spent the past several years among
the surface people serving as a mercenary in the war, trading with Nirmathi towns, or simply seeing the surface world. Molthune’s recent siege of Kraggodan has squelched any hopes you had of returning home, and now you struggle to find a home on the surface.
Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Constitution or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.
You’re trained in the Society skill, the Dwarf Lore skill, and the Kraggodan Lore skill.
You gain the Multilingual skill feat with Undercommon as one language unless you already know it.

Ironfang Invasion Player's Guide, Campaign Traits, page 8 wrote:

Kraggodan Castaway (Dwarf Only): You hail from the dwarven Sky Citadel of Kraggodan in southern Nirmathas and have spent the past several years among the surface people serving as a mercenary in the war, trading with Nirmathi towns, or simply seeing the surface world. Molthune’s recent siege of Kraggodan has squelched any hopes you had of returning home, and now you struggle to find a home on the surface. Thanks to your travels, you gain one of the following as a bonus language: Common, Hallit, Varisian, or Undercommon. In addition, your homesickness means time spent underground revitalizes your spirits; whenever you are

underground—either in natural caverns or an artificial complex—you automatically stabilize if brought below 0 hit points, and if reduced to 0 hit points (or you are stable and conscious when below 0 hit points) you do not take the usual 1 point of damage disabled characters take from performing a standard action. This revitalizing effect fades after 4 consecutive days spent underground, but returns after you spend more than a week above ground again.

Design Notes: Homesickness causes the character to stabilize from wounds in places that remind him or her of home--I cannot rebuild something that strange out of PF2 feats. So I grabbed a few concepts related to the theme: the character is a dwarf from the dwarven Sky Citadel of Kraggodan who has lived away from home for a long time, and threw them together. The extra language suggested Multilingual, which went with Society and Intelligence. And once again, I granted a pair of closely related Lore skills because this is a lore-heavy background.

8. Unbreakable Survivor background
Over a decade ago, bandits took everything you valued in life and left you barely alive. You managed to rebuild your life in the years since, and your tenacity has made you a local legend in Phaendar.
Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.
You are trained in the Medicine skill and the Underworld Lore skill.
You gain the Toughness general feat.

Ironfang Invasion Player's Guide, Campaign Traits, page 8 wrote:

Unbreakable Survivor: Over a decade ago, bandits took everything you valued in life and left you barely alive. You managed to rebuild your life in the years since, and

your tenacity has made you a local legend. Once per day as a full round action, you may shrug off some of your injuries and immediately heal a number of hit points equal to your Constitution modifier + 1 per Hit Die. Your reputation for tenacity inspires your neighbors, and you gain a +1 trait bonus whenever you attempt to influence residents of Phaendar with Diplomacy or Intimidate checks. At 6th level, your reputation spreads further across the nation, and you may apply your trait bonus on Diplomacy and Intimidate checks to influence all humanoids in Nirmathas..

Design Notes: I had to consult my wife on this one. She believes it is about being a tough survivor and suggested I boost hit points. Thus, it grants the Toughness general feat. To mimic the healing, I granted training in Medicine skill for the Treat Wounds activity. That left no skill or skill feat to improve Diplomacy nor Intimidation, but I gave the option of boosting Charisma for that. This trait offers no link to a Lore, but it mentioned a robbery and implied poverty, so I went with Underworld Lore.

9. World-Weary background
You’ve seen the horrors of war—likely from the front line with Molthune, but maybe from the crusade of Lastwall or the political infighting of Ustalav. You’ve lost sight of the truth amid all the propaganda and retreated from battlefield. Now you hope that living in a small town will restore your perspective.
Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.
You’re trained in the Warfare Lore skill and in one of the non-Lore skills related to Recall Knowledge: Arcana, Crafting, Medicine, Nature, Occultism, Religion, or Society.
You gain the Dubious Knowledge feat.

Ironfang Invasion Player's Guide, Campaign Traits, page 8 wrote:

World-Weary: You’ve seen the horrors of war, and had hoped you’d seen the end of it. You’ve retreated from the fighting—likely from the front line with Molthune,

but maybe from the crusade of Lastwall or the political infighting of Ustalav—and now just want to protect and provide for those you care about. You gain one of the following as a permanent class skill: Appraise, Heal, Knowledge (history), Sense Motive, or Survival. When you perform an aid another action to improve a creature’s Armor Class, you increase its AC by +4 rather than +2.

Design Notes: This one offered a selection of skills, so I decided on a skill feat from the Multiskill category. The confusion from Dubious Knowledge felt right for world weariness and it went with a selection of skills. Strength and Intelligence fit a warrior or a war wizard. I had to drop the Aid Another aspect, because PF2 lacks skill feats related to Aid, and it did not fit the descriptive text anyway.

To see another set of homebrew campaign traits, Bruno Romero created campaign backgrounds for the Hell's Rebels adventure path. His thread is at Pathfinder 2E Hell's Rebels Player's Guide.

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A new Pathfinder 2nd Edition exploration activity called Follow the Expert was revealed at the Garycon Pathfinder 2E Seminar with Mark Seifter giving the full name in comment #93. More recently Paizo revealed the full text of Follow the Expert at Paizocon as Pathfinder 2nd Edition Spoiler #94, available in the #MyPathfinderSpoiler thread.

Follow the Expert Exploration Activity
Auditory, Concentrate, Exploration, Visual
Choose an ally attempting a recurring skillcheck while exploring, such as climbing, or performing a different exploration tactic that requires a skill check (like Avoiding Notice). The ally must be at least an expert in that skill and must be willing to provide assistance. While Following the Expert, you match their tactic or attempt similiar skill checks. Thanks to you ally's assistance, you can add your level as a proficiency bonus to the associated skill check, even if you're untrained. Additionally, you gain a circumstance bonus to your skill check based on your ally's proficiency (+2 for expert, +3 for master, and +4 for legendary).

I like it.

In the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Playtest, Exploration Mode felt jerryrigged. That wasn't so bad, becuase the time between encounters was a roleplaying jerryrig in previous editions of Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons, but calling out a jerryrig as official rules felt unfinished. The Playtest rulebook said, "Exploration mode happens when the characters travel significant distances, delve into mysterious new locations, interact with nonplayer characters outside of combat or simply watch for danger. In this mode, time moves at whatever pace the GM sees fit." on page 7, and had similar words on page 290. That gave a role but no substance. The full description on pages 316-317, Travel Speed was a table of travel times, Encounter Tactics were some drawn-out encounter activities, Social Tactics suggested skill checks for roleplaying, and Rest and Daily Preparations gave the familiar before-we-start-exploring rules. This is rehashed on page 329. Exploration mode seemed largely an interactive time gap to prepare for, lead up to, or follow up on encounters.

Follow the Expert is an activity that gives substance to Exploration Mode. For example, if the character Starbuck is an expert in Sailing Lore and the party is crewing a small sailing boat by themselves, then Starbuck can declare, "Follow my lead. Doctor Amazo, you navigate; Chimney Sweep, you climb the rigging and handle the sails; Hercules, you haul on whichever rope needs hauling, and I will take the wheel." One sentence, one set of skill checks, and the adventure moves on smoothly. It will no longer feel jerryrigged.

Also, it is an expert-level basic activity. In the playtest, some skill-based activities could be performed untrained and others could be performed trained, but expert proficiency was not necessary. Expert mattered only for qualifying for feats. Expert was not awesome in itself; instead, it permitted awesome feats. With expert-level activities, an expert can show off their expertise directly. "Of course, we can cross that desert. I am an expert. Follow me."

Finally, I believe that Follow the Expert shows that Paizo listened to us playtesters. In the playtest chapter In Pale Mountain's Shadow my wife created a climbing-expert barbarian. And she wanted that her barbarian have some way to share her expertise with the rest of the party. The other players agreed, especially the player with rock-climbing experience: Expert Climber Aiding Trained Climbers. I thought that this would be a nice addition to the rules, perhaps a expert-level Save Other reaction. Paizo instead used the niche to expand the purpose of Exploration Mode. That's good, too.

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Last week during a discussion about rangers (Pathfinder 2nd Ranger, comment #59), I had looked over the snare rules and realized that they were unworkable as a ranger specialty. I decided to rewrite them. If Pathfinder 2nd Edition has the same snare rules as the playtest, I will probably use my rewritten snare rules as a house rule.

In rewriting the rules, I saw that most problems came from one mistaken decision: using the Crafting rules for snares. The Crafting rules are for making items out of raw materials. A ranger setting up a snare in the forest is not hammering iron bar stock into the shape of a snare; instead, he is pounding stakes into the ground and attacking wires to the stakes. This is not crafting. This is more like setting up a tent or fastening a saddle to a horse or strapping on armor.

The following item and three feats replace the 3 Snare Kits on page 185, the Snare Crafting feat on page 171, the Snare Savant and Quick Snares feats on page 116, and the Powerful Snares and Improvised Snare feats on page 117.

Snare Kit: Price 50 sp, Bulk 2, Hands 2
This kit contains tools, ropes, wires, and connectors for setting up snares.

General, Skill
Prerequisite Trained in Survival
General, Skill
You can set up a snare in 10 minutes. When you set up a snare, you may alter its Stealth DC to equal your Stealth DC.

Prerequisite Trained in Survival
You gain the Hidden Snares feat and you can set up a snare in 1 minute. You can use rope as an improvised snare kit that gives a -2 circumstance penalty to the Survival checks and DC of your snares.

Prerequisite Expert in Survival, Snare Savant
While scouting an area undetected, you can spend one minute setting up an inactive secret snare in any square that was adjacent to your path. You do not need to decide on the type or location of snare at this time. Later the same day, when you are in the area, you can spend an Operate action to make the snare active, declaring its type and location and removing the parts and consumables from your inventory. If a target is in the square of the snare, you make a Stealth check against the target's Perception DC. On success, the snare triggers on that target. On failure, the snare is destroyed without triggering.

The following replaces the 2-page Snares section on pages 357 and 358 in the Treasure chapter.

Snares are simple traps you can set up using the Survival skill. Snares are hazards that have the snare trait. The pieces of a snare are crafted in advance, so the snare is considered already crafted. Nevertheless, the snare has to be set up in location, using the Survival skill, a snare kit (see page 187), and some amount of snare components.

A snare occupies a single 5-foot square. Some snares have tripwires that extend beyond that square. A tripwire is an unbroken wire-thin path from the snare and its length is the number of squares it passes through, counting a section of tripwire on the edge between two squares as one square long. The tripwire path does not have to be straight. A tripwire on the edge between two squares is tripped if a creature moves across it and a tripwire through the interior of a square is tripped if a creature enters the square. The trigger for a snare is a Small or larger creature entering its square or tripping its tripwire at ground level. Jumping or flying over a snare or tripwire does not trigger it. The target of a snare is the creature that triggered it. A snare has AC 14, TAC 10, hardness 4, Fort +4, and Ref +0. One dent destroys it. An attack that hits but does not dent the snare triggers it, and the attacker is affected by the snare as if he or she were in its square. Snares are used up (destroyed) by their effect, so they trigger only once. The common hazard levels of a snare are "none" when the snare does not directly threaten its target or 0 when the hazard can damage or impede the target. Upgrading a snare with better parts or consumables can raise its hazard level.

You assemble a snare out of components you carry provided that you have sufficient Survival proficiency rank. The required proficiency rank is listed after "Survival" in the entry for that snare. The components come in three types: snare kit, parts, and consumbables. The snare kit is the resusable supplies for the snare and the snare kit provides as much as you need. The parts are the durable durable components and become part of the snare. They can be salvaged later. The consumbles are components that are used up in the triggering of the snare. The parts and consumables necessary to set up a particular snare are listed in the snare's entry. The character who set up a snare is known as its builder, and the builder's Survival modifier determines the checks and DC of the snare. Setting up a snare requires half an hour, but the Hidden Snares feat reduces the time to 10 minutes.

Only one snare can be set up in any square, but tripwires of different snares may overlap.

Creatures can detect snares as they would any trap or hazard (see page 341), using the snare’s Stealth DC. The GM secretly rolls a Perception check for the character as a free action just before the character would trigger the snare, and warns the player to avoid the snare or its tripwire. A Seek action can find the snare under other circumstances. A snare set up by a character with Hidden Snare feat may use the character's Stealth DC instead. The Point Out action can make the snare sensed by other characters. Someone who senses a snare knows the location of the snare and its tripwires.

Once you discover a snare, you can disable it much like other physical traps, requiring only one success from the Disable a Device action of the Thievery skill and using the Disable DC of the snare. A critical failure on Disable Device affected the character as if he or she were the target of the trap. A critical success on Disable check can temporarily deactive it with only one Interact action necessary to reactive it. If the character can reach a tripwire but not the snare's square, the tripwire alone can be disabled. The character who set up a snare always succeeds or critical succeeds to disable it: failures and critical failures are upgraded to success.

A snare left out in the weather becomes disabled after one week. A snare protected from the weather becomes disabled after one year.

After a snare has been triggered, the parts may be salvaged intact through an Interact action. Consumables have been consumed. After a snare has been disabled, both parts and consumables may be salvaged intact. After a square has been destroyed by an attack, the parts may be salvaged in broken condition.

ALARM SNARE hazard none
Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Stealth DC 16
Description This snare has a tripwire up to 100 feet long. When triggered, it releases a weight that rings the snare's bell for two rounds, alerting people nearby. Triggering the snare deactivates it rather than destroys it, and it can be reset by an Interact action by any character to raise the weight again.
Disable DC 4 Parts A small bell (8 cp) Survival Trained

Stealth DC 12
Alchemical, Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Description The snare throws an alchemical bomb (page 359) at the target. The attack roll is a Survival check using the builder's Survival modifier. The bomb is the consumable built into the snare, such as an acid flask, alchemist's fire, bottled lightning, liquid ice, tanglefoot bag, or thunderstone. The attack the traits of the bomb attack, and splash damage could reach beyond the snare's square. Using a higher-level bomb increases the hazard level to one less than the level of the bomb.
Disable DC 14 Consumables An alchemical bomb (30 sp) Survival Trained

ARROW SNARE hazard 1
Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Stealth DC 16
Description This snare has a tripwire up to 50 feet long that must be laid out inside a straight line of squares (see diagram on page 298 for shapes of lines). When triggered, it shoots an arrow or bolt along the line of squares at the target. The attack roll is a Survival check using the builder's Survival modifier. The damage from the arrow is crossbow damage with strength modifier 0. The arrow is the consumable built into the snare. Using an arrow with special properties could increase the hazard level to one less than the level of the arrow.
Disable DC 10 Consumables An arrow or crossbow bolt (1 sp) Survival Expert

Stealth DC 12
Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Description This snare stabs the target with a dagger. The attack roll is a Survival check using the builder's Survival modifier. The damage is the dagger's weapon damage with strength modifier 0. The dagger is the part built into the snare. Using a dagger with special properties could increase the hazard level to one less than the level of the dagger.
Disable DC 10 Parts A dagger (1 sp) Survival Trained
Special If expert in Survival, you may substitute any simple or martial one-handed melee weapon for the dagger. The snare's damage is the weapon's damage.

Stealth DC 16
Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Description This snare's use of local materials makes it harder to detect. A heavy boulder or log unexpected falls on the target. The target attempt a Reflex save versus the builder's Survival DC.
Success The target is unaffected.
Failure The target takes 1d8 bludgeoning damage.
Critical Failure The target takes 2d8 bludgeoning damage and is grabbed with escape DC 10.
Disable DC 8 Parts A log, boulder, or heavy object with bulk at least 10. Survival Trained

Stealth DC 12
Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Description This snare drops a net on the target. The target attempt a Reflex save versus the builder's Survival DC. On failure, the target is entangled (page 321) by the net. Any creature can end the entangled condition by spending 2 consecutive Interact actions to remove the net.
Disable DC 14 Parts A net (2 sp) and a tall structure, such as a ceiling or adjacent tree, to hold the net above the square. Survival Trained

Stealth DC 12
Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Description This snare covers the target in oil and ignites the oil. The target attempt a Reflex save versus the builder's Survival DC.
Critical Success The trap is disabled and the oli is spilled on the ground.
Success The square is on fire for 3 rounds. Any creature crossing the square or occupying the square at the start of its turn takes 1d4 fire damage.
Failure The target takes 1d6 fire damage and 1 persistent fire damage.
Critical Failure The target takes 2d6 fire damage and 2 persistent fire damage.
Disable DC 10 Parts Flint and Steel (5 cp) Consumables Oil (1 cp) Survival Expert

HUNTING SNARE hazard none
Stealth DC 12
Mechanical, Snare
This snare is a trap only for tiny or smaller animals. If you set up this snare at the beginning of a Survive in the Wild activity, then you receive a +2 item bonus to the Survive in the Wild's Survival check.
Disable DC 0 Survival Trained

LEG SNARE hazard 0
Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Stealth DC 12
Description The wire loop of this snare catches the leg of the target, unless the target succeeds at a Reflex save versus the builder's Survival DC. A creature caught by the leg snare gains the Immobile condition until someone uses an Interact action to loosen the loop and someone uses another Interact action to remove the loop from the leg. A creature without legs cannot trigger the leg snare.
Disable DC 0 Parts A pillar, tree, mounted bracket, or heavy object to anchor the snare. Survival Trained

MARKING SNARE hazard none
Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Stealth DC 16
Description This snare splashes ink on the target to mark it. The marking grants a +2 circumstance bonus to track the target for up to 24 hours
or until the ink is washed off (requiring at least a gallon of water and 10 minutes of scrubbing). The target must attempt a Reflex saving throw versus the builder's Survival DC.
Success The target is unaffected.
Failure The snare marks the target.
Critical Failure The snare marks the target, and the target is blinded until the end of its next turn.
Disable DC 8 Parts Ink (1 sp) Survival Trained
Special If expert in Survival, you may use a scent marker instead of ink. If the target fails a DC 12 Perception check (DC 5 with scent ability), he does not realize he is marked.

Stealth DC 12
Mechanical, Snare, Trap
Description This snare lifts up a net to catch the target. The target must attempt a Reflex save versus the builder's Survival DC. On failure, the target is restrained (page 321) by the net. The Escape DC of the suspended net is 20 and the Break Grapple DC is 25. A successful Break Grapple breaks the net and releases its captives.
Disable DC 18 Parts A net (2 sp) and a tall structure, such as a ceiling or adjacent tree, to hold the net above the square. Survival Expert

Stealth DC 16
Snare, Trap
Description This snare is a well-anchored wire placed to trip people who cross it. The target must attempt a Reflex save versus the builder's Survival DC. On failure, the target trips and falls prone.
Disable DC 8 Survival Trained

I may want to invent magical snare trinkets as consumables for higher-level snares.

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My adorable wife Amy is hard on Paizo adventure paths. She roleplays her characters with too many dimensions for the plot of the path and they reshape the story and go off in unexpected directions. I often have to rearrange the encounters in the path to serve new goals in new places. I consider it a fun challenge.

Thus, when I began the Pathfinder 2nd Edition playtest, I invited her to stress test the new system. Which she did.

But she did more. She strongly roleplayed in the new system, seeing how much character she could bring out in her characters. In The Lost Star her goblin mindquake-survivor paladin Harvey Wallbanger was a humble, dedicated worshipper of Alseta, who believe that Alseta wanted him to help transition goblins to civilized folk by serving as an example of compassionate behavior. In In Pale Mountain's Shadow her human nomad barbarian Haku Na Matata was a local guide, often hired to escort travelers or fetch lost objects safely because she grew up with her supersitious tribe in these mountains. In Affair at Sombrefell Hall her elf noble bard Loriel was an artist and an organizer. When a half-elf cousin came to Ustalav with other companions to visit Dr. Oscilar at Sombrefell Hall, she and her hired footman organized the travel there, and she was going to make sure that the sick doctor was well tended.

When I first read of the March 6 Paizo preview blog First Look at the Pathfinder Playtest, which said, "Next you decide on your background, representing how you were raised and what you did before taking up the life of an adventurer," I thought background made for a cute acronym, ABC Ancestry-Background-Class character creation. Amy saw the potential and made background the heart of her characters.

She did not have mechanics to aid that endeavor, but she made stories. Harvey Wallbanger had been a young garbage-picker goblin wandering the alleys of Maginimar when he touched some esoteric object discarded in Necerion rubbish and suffered a mindquake. That granted him the Dubious Knowledge feat and Dominion of the Black Lore, but more importantly, it granted him a fresh start. An elf cleric of Alseta found the feverish goblin boy and nursed him back to health in the hospice of Alseta, where the boy became a servant and Alseta gave him paladin powers. Haku Na Matata's nomad background granted her Assurance in Survival and Mountain Lore, but to Amy, Mountain Lore meant the lore of her tribe of Superstiton-totem barbarians. She gradually spun a tale from the elements encountered in the chapter, where her tribe had developed their anti-magic tradition because its founders where the surviving workers who had constructed the Tomb of Tular Seft. Thus, she persuaded me that she could roll on Mountain Lore for Recall Knowledge about the history of the tomb. And I had more fun expressing that knowledge as ancient tribal legends than scholarly archelogical facts. Loriel's noble background gave her Courtly Graces and Nobility Lore, but her court was her patronage of actors and playwrights. She was the person that artists in her city contacted to stage a production and she found them a venue. When the party went to Sombrefell Hall, she provided the coach and footman--and had to send them away for the evening because I told them Sombrefell Hall's stable had collapsed. When the hall was attacked, she did not immediately wield her rapier, though she sent an Unseen Servant to fetch it from her room. Her first task was to organize the residents for their own protection.

Amy proved the strong roleplaying potential of Pathfinder 2nd Edition's backgrounds. On the other hand, my other players often chose backgrounds that faded away into the background: scout rogue, scout ranger, two separate scholar wizards. A blacksmith druid and nomad alchemist stood out, and by the time of Affair at Sombrefell Hall, the whole party had more variety: half-elf barkeep cleric of Cayden Cailean teamed up with a dwarf barkeep monk, half-elf esoteric-scion cleric of Sarenrae, and Amy's elf noble bard.

I asked Amy what official rules change could make roleplaying the background easier. She said that extra skill boosts or feats would not help, because this was a roleplaying matter. Instead, the characters would need GM acknowledgement of their background, a benefit of the doubt that the character can do things that are implied by the background but not formally stated.

Examples she gave are that Haku Na Matata used her Mountain Lore, a terrain lore that is supposed to cover the environment of mountains, for Recall Knowledge checks to recognize the tribe of a gnoll on Pale Mountain and to recall some legends about Pale Mountain, because Pale Mountain was in the mountain range where her tribe lived. And Loriel used her nobility to give orders to Dr. Oscilar and his students, because both she and they assumed that as a noble she had the authority.

Likewise, Farmhand background might allow a character untrained in Nature to use a similar trained skill to handle a horse pulling a wagon, because that farmhand probably handled horses that way on the farm. A Blacksmith background might make a Craft roll to disable a device, as he whittles a shim to jam a trap in the right spot. A Merchant background might allow a Mercantile Lore check for a bluff that the character is a merchant rather than an adventurer.

This might also justify actions not described in the rulebook. A street urchin might Escape as a reaction rather than a action, because the character grew accustomed to dodging constables' grasps while running in the street.

I also allowed characters to earn hero points based on acting helpfully in character, and background defines character. I gave up on that later, because the playtest hero points proved fairly useless and were not worth the extra effort to give them out.

My playtesters and I are playing Doomsday Dawn every Tuesday, barring scheduling conflicts and bad weather. Alas, one of those scheduling conflicts is coming up on Tuesday, December 25. Therefore, our last scheduled session will occur Tuesday, December 18. And we won't finish Affair at Sombrefell Hall.

I will try to arrange another session to finish, but it might not work out. And the surveys shut down at the end of the year, so we cannot continue in January and still answer the surveys.

Affair at Sombrefell Hall is an endurance test. It says we should be prepared to answer questions such as how often characters were healed. If we don't finish, that number will be short of what would have happened if we had finished. That would be misleading data.

If we don't finish the chapter, should we skip the numerical survey and just answer the open survey? Should we take the numerical survey and skip the questions that require a finished game? What advice should I give my players?

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The following discussion occurred in the Hear Our Plea(s) thread, but that thread is not for discussions, so I am copying it here.

gwynfrid wrote:

I'd like to ask for just one thing: That we intuitively know what type a bonus is, solely based on its source and without having to consult the rules. With a lot of experience, I can do this in PF1 and be correct most of the time. PF2 has less bonus types (good!) so I would expect this to be easier now, and unfortunately the playtest isn't quite there yet.

Directly related to this, can we get rid of the term "conditional bonus"? The fact that some conditions give circumstance penalties/bonuses while others give conditional penalties/bonuses is very confusing.

Mathmuse wrote:
gwynfrid wrote:

I'd like to ask for just one thing: That we intuitively know what type a bonus is, solely based on its source and without having to consult the rules. With a lot of experience, I can do this in PF1 and be correct most of the time. PF2 has less bonus types (good!) so I would expect this to be easier now, and unfortunately the playtest isn't quite there yet.

Directly related to this, can we get rid of the term "conditional bonus"? The fact that some conditions give circumstance penalties/bonuses while others give conditional penalties/bonuses is very confusing.

I cataloged the 42 Basic Conditions on pages 320 to 324 to see how mixed the conditional and circumstance modifiers were. The results are below.

12 Conditional Modifiers
Blinded: –4 conditional penalty to Perception
Deafened: –2 conditional penalty to Perception. Also DC 5 flat check on auditory activities.
Drained: conditional penalty on Fortitude saves and Constitutionbased checks. Also lose hit points.
Enervated: conditional penalty on checks that include a proficiency modifier.
Enfeebled: conditional penalty on attack rolls, damage rolls, and Strength-based checks.
Fascinated: –2 conditional penalty to Perception and skill checks.
Fatigued: conditional penalty to AC and saving throws.
Frightened: conditional penalty to checks and saving throws.
Sick: conditional penalty on all your checks.
Sluggish: conditional penalty to AC, attack rolls, Dexterity-based checks, and Reflex saves.
Stupified: conditional penalty on spell rolls; spell DCs; and Intelligence-, Wisdom-, and Charisma-based checks.
Unconscious: –4 conditional penalty to AC

6 Circumstance Modifiers
Asleep: -4 circumstance penalty to Perception.
Flat-footed: -2 circumstance penalty to AC.
Friendly: +2 circumstance bonus to Lie, Make an Impression, or Request.
Helpful: +4 circumstance bonus to Lie.
Prone: –2 circumstance penalty to attack rolls and +1 circumstance bonus to AC against ranged attacks
Unfriendly: –2 circumstance penalty to Lie and Make an Impression.

7 Typeless Modifiers
Accelerated: Numerical increase in speed.
Encumbered: Increase armor check penalty by 2. Decrease Speed by 10 feet, down to Speed 5 at worst.
Entangled: Hampered 10.
Hampered: Numerical decrease in speed.
Hostile: Others have –4 penalty to Make an Impression and Lie.
Quick: Gain 1 additional action
Slowed: Fewer actions per turn.

2 Weird
Broken: Broken armor gives a conditional penalty to AC.
Persistent damage: Gives typed damage.

7 Other numbers
Concealed: DC 5 flat check against attacks.
Confused: Actions controlled by 1d4 roll.
Dazzled: Creatures concealed from vision.
Dead: Hit points go to 0.
Dying: Adjusts its own number.
Petrified: Gain new stats as a statue.
Sensed: DC 11 flat check against attacks and other activities that target you.

8 No Numbers

Ed Reppert wrote:

Maybe it doesn't matter. Seems to me that "conditional", as Paizo is using it here, means "pertinent to or arising from a condition". "Circumstance" seems to apply when the origin of the bonus or penalty is something other than a condition (e.g. "situational" reasons). So if you get a penalty to Perception because you're asleep, that should be a conditional penalty (you have the "asleep" condition") not a circumstance penalty. Same with flat-footed (a condition), even though the rulebook (page 291) specifically calls that out as possibly being due to being flanked (a circumstance). To me, that doesn't matter. The penalty exists because you're flat-footed. It's a conditional penalty. Doesn't matter what circumstance caused you to be flat-footed.

So I wouldn't get rid of the term "conditional bonus/penalty". I *would* call "circumstance" bonuses or penalties "conditional" rather than "circumstance" if it's the condition that is the origin of the modifier.

If your vision is impaired because it's raining, that's a circumstance penalty. If your vision is impaired because you're blinded, that's a conditional penalty.

The situation Ed Reppert describes might be clarified if we also used "circumstance" as a noun for a situation that gives a circumstance modifier. For example, flat-footed could be a circumstance rather than a condition.

I believe that six kinds of numerical modifiers is not enough. The five are ability, proficincy, conditional, circumstance, item, and typeless. Ability and proficiency modifiers are very difficult to change, item modifiers are directly related to items, typeless modifiers are subject to stacking abuse, so that leaves only conditional modifiers and circumstance modifiers as the only modifiers to represent spells and special abilities.

In PF2 a barbarian's rage gives a +2 conditional bonus to damage rolls and a -1 typeless penalty to AC, a bard's inspire courage composition cantrip gives a +1 conditional bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saves against fear, and a cleric's bless spell gives a +1 conditional bonus to attack rolls. They don't properly stack. A cleric could prepare a different spell, but rage and inspire courage are primary class abilities of the barbarian and bard.

Keeping with my tradition of making lists, here is the list of Pathfinder 1st Edition modifiers (source): alchemical, armor, base attack bonus, circumstance, competence, deflection, dodge, enhancement, inherent, insight, luck, morale, natural armor, profane, racial, resistance, sacred, shield, size, and trait. Some, such as dodge and resistance, restrict themselves to certain rolls. Others, such as sacred and size, restrict themselves to a narrow source. Competence is too much like proficiency, and trait has a significant other meaning in PF2. That leaves enhancement, insight, luck, and morale if we want to copy a term from PF1. In PF1 a barbarian's rage is a morale bonus, a bard's inspire courage is a competence bonus on attack and damage rolls, and a cleric's bless is a morale bonus.

I recommend "inspirational bonus" for inspire courage.

Consumable, Magical, Oil, Transmutation
Price 5 gp
Method of Use held, 2 hands; Bulk L
Activation [[A]] Operate Activation
When you apply this oil to a nonmagical weapon or
suit of armor, that item immediately becomes magically potent.
The item gains a temporary +1 potency rune of the appropriate
type, even if it isn’t expert-quality or higher. This lasts for 1 minute.

One of my players, in purchasing items for his 7th-level Affair at Sombrefell Hall character, was enthusiastic about Oil of Potency. He imagined buying several mundane weapons with his 125 gp, waiting to see what enemy showed up, and enchanting the right weapon for the job of defeating that enemy. He has a lasting impression from one of his first Pathfinder 1st Edition battles being against skeletons with DR 5/bludgeoning that the right damage type or special material is a key to victory.

When I described Method of Use to him, he lost much of that enthusiasm.

I said, "Held two hands means that you need to hold the oil in both hands. Perhaps you have the bottle in one hand and an application cloth in the other. Either way, you are using both hands to hold the Oil of Potency before you can apply it. You can't be holding the weapon in your hand, because you need both hands for the oil. Maybe the weapon is on a table in front of you, or it could be on the floor at your feet or still in the scabbard. It just has to be within reach. And the Operate Activation means you have to spend a resonance point as you apply the oil, but that does not require an extra action. After you apply the oil, you can drop the empty bottle and use an Interact action to pick up the weapon in the proper grip to wield it."

Thus, his actions upon seeing an enemy and deciding on which weapon to enchant with the Oil of Potency would be an Interact Action to put away whatever weapon is in his hands, an Interact action to draw the oil, an Operate Activation action to apply the oil to the chosen weapon still in its scabbard, and an Interact action to draw the oiled weapon. If he is lucky, he has the right unenchanted weapon in his hands and can drop it on the floor as a free action instead of putting it away as an Interact action, because applying the oil to it on the floor is as easy as applying it on a table or in the scabbard, and picking it up off the floor is as easy as drawing it. If he is crazy prepared, he has all his weapons on a table in front of him.

Affair of Sombrefell Hall spoiler:
Of course, if he does have all his weapons on a table in front of him, that collection of weaponry going to be the ammunition for the poltergeist's Telekinetic Storm.

And Interact and Operate Activation all have the manipulate trait, so they provoke attacks of opportunity.

Do I have that right? It seems like a heavy action cost to use the Oil of Potency. The only other threads on Method of Use I could find were Spell Duelist's Gloves are "Held" and Action system, simplicity, quantum physics?.

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My wife is creating a 7th-level bard character for Affair at Sombrefell Hall. I hate watching her suffer. Bards had been one of her favorite classes, both because she is a musician and because she likes versatile, flamboyant characters. The playtest bard is only 1/3 as versatile as the PF1 bard. And they don't seem musical. They are occult.

The Pathfinder 1st Edition Core Rulebook is a magnificent work of design in the clever ways it corrected many flaws of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. My wife played bards in D&D, and she spent skill points on Perform(sing) and other Perform skills because she wanted her character to be able to sing and play musical intruments. That was pure roleplaying, for the Perform skill had no mechanical advantage worth caring about. Pathfinder invented Versatile Performance for bards, where Perform can substitute for two other skills, and voila, bards could afford--and were rewarded for--to put skill points into a Perform skill. And it made sense that bards were so versatile that they could adapt their stage skills to non-stage situations.

In Pathfinder 2nd Edition, Versatile Performance costs a class feat. As a polymath muse, the bard would gain Versatile Performance for free along with Summon Monster, but that is not really free. That costs the muse selection, passing up lore muse with Bardic Lore and True Strike and maestro muse with Lingering Composition and Soothe. My wife's elf noble bard Loriel wants Bardic Lore (lore is even in her name) and Inspire Competence, which requires Lingering Composition. Polymath muse is third out of three on her choice of muses, despite her being married to a math muse.

The ingenious way that Versatile Performance encouraged bards who actually sing and play music has been shot down for over half the bards. Maybe Pathfinder 2nd Edition's use of musical instruments as casting components will help restore music to the bard, but it will be unskilled music.

Meanwhile, I have a problem with Occultism skill. As a GM, I have difficulty telling the difference between arcane and occult. I am also annoyed at how Doomsday Dawn says to make an Arcana, Nature, Occultism, or Religion check as if the writer cannot figure out which skill covers spellcraft.

Other people have another gripe about Occultism: Why is occultism not charisma based? and Suggestion: Occultism skill should be CHA based. As thorin001 explains, the two classes that use occult magic, bard and occult sorcerer, are Charisma casters. So why is understanding their magic based on Intelligence? Rysky replied, "I'd come at from the other way and say that Religion should be INT as well, since they represent the Knowledge in this game."

Rysky has a good point, too. If Religion skill is nothing but Knowledge(Religion) with a shorter name, then it is an Intelligence skill. And since Religion skill has only the actions Recall Knowledge, Identify Magic, Learn a Divine Spell, and Read Scripture, it does seem to be solely a knowledge skill. Nature skill has a better grounding in Wisdom, with Handle an Animal and Command an Animal also under its reign.

Occultism has the same actions as Religion: Recall Knowledge, Identify Magic, Learn an Occult Spell, and Read Esoterica. It is a knowledge skill; hence, its bonus is from Intelligence. To justify switching it to a Charisma skill, we ought to add Charisma actions to it, just as Nature has some Wisdom actions in it.

To find Charisma-based occultism, look at the bard and ask what makes the class occult? Bards tell stories and uncover the hidden. Bards sing songs and play music, which affect people's emotions rather than their intellect. Musical powers are beyond cold-hearted calculations, beyond science. The occult side of bards is their stories and music.

Time for a sanity check (sanity checks are often necessary when dealing with the occult). Let's see if this fits the other occult classes. Aside from occult sorcerer, those classes exist only in PF1 right now: Kineticist, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, and Spiritualist. Constitution-based Kineticists draw from inner elemental powers like sorcerers. Mediums and Spiritualists deal with spirits, which ordinarily be under Religion and Wisdom. That holds for the Wisdom-based Spiritualists, but the more occult Mediums must influence the spirits with their Charisma. Intelligence-based Occultists rely on occult implements and mental focus. The mind-based spells of Psychics so based in Intelligence that I can imagine them using the intellectual Arane spell list instead of the bardic Occult spell list. The Mesmerist is a more clearly an Occult magician, dealing in delusion and misdirection.

Thus, the occult side of bards is digging into mystery, influencing feelings, and weaving delusions. Occultism is defined as the secrets man is not meant to know, because knowing leads to insanity. Friedrich Nietzsche said, "If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you," and the bard knows to manipulate the occult frivolously without gazing into it intellectually. Occultism is not Intelligence, because the bard must tap into the occult without understanding it.

So how does a bard learn something without understanding it? Other glimpse the unknowable and code it into symbols, recitations, music, rituals, or implements to hide the details. Then the bard masters the coding. Occultism is about figuring out the answer from the following the symbolism rather than mentally grasping knowledge that is too hot to handle. Bards answer questions indirectly through drama (obligatory Order of the Stick comic, All Available Resources).

Okay, now that I defined Occultism, let's get rid of it.

As I said earlier, to make Occultism not a knowledge skill, it needs actions that are not knowledge actions. I don't see any actions related to symbolism and rote recitation that we can invent from scratch. The only such actions in the game are already covered by another skill. So, let's merge Occultism and that other skill, which is Performance. The bard literally performs occult magic as a staged performance.

Don't yell that Occultism is a knowledge skill and Performance is an active skill so they can't be merged. Occultism is not supposed to be abstract knowledge. Occultism is about dealing with the unknowable eldritch phenomena of the world.

This serves two purposes. (1) Occultism will become better separated from Arcana, because it will be tied to symbols, rituals, and mystery rather than knowledge. (2) The bard will have a reason to study Performance.

Xenocrat, in the "Suggestion: Occultism should be CHA" thread said, "It should stay INT based. Intelligence has few enough uses, and Charisma already has plenty." Giving Intelligence a skill that only bards will bother studying does not help Intelligence much. Better to take rename Arcana skill as Knowledge and let it expand, too.

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This is not a full report on In Pale Mountain's Shadow. This is a rant on the events in the room called Chamber of the Sunken Stones in that chapter. The party had just begun the battle against the Lesser Water Elemental when we wrapped up last week and they resumed the battle in today's session. I was sick, so we played for only two hours and quit after the elemental was defeated and after 7 failed attempts at Treat Wounds. The party defeated the elemental, so that was a success. But the players tried to have fun, too, with their usual growing tactical awareness spawning clever battle plans. Despite their efforts, that did not happen. The battle was tedious.

Others have said that the playtest is not to have fun. But one of the goals of the playtest is, "2. Ensure that the new version of the game allows us to tell the same stories and share in the same worlds as the previous edition, but also makes room for new stories and new worlds wherever possible." We had a highly mobile barbarian, a deft ranger, a powerful sorceress, and a resourceful alchemist facing a powerful but clueless elemental in the Chamber of the Sunken Stones. In Pathfinder 1st Edition a little trickery could have the elemental swimming in circles while the party wore it down. It even started that way last week in the playtest. But in the playtest, the battle became a slugfest against a creature built for slugfests.

In last week's game session, my playtest party had glanced into the Chamber of the Sunken Stones, deduced the water theme, and continued on. When they learned they needed elemental keys, they returned to that chamber to find the water key. They figured the key was hidden in the unseen northeastern chamber but the water elemental arose before they reached it and critically hit the alchemist Purl Knit. Haku Na Matata, the Raging-Athlete barbarian with a climb speed and a swim speed, rushed to the northeastern chamber to grab the key while the others distracted its guardian. It would have been a great story, but since the water elemental was the key, it failed. That is how PF1 stories turn out sometimes: the clever idea is the wrong one. Nothing wrong with PF2 yet.

A few Arcana Recall Knowledge checks revealed that they had misinterpreted the clues and that the key was in the elemental. (I always made Knowledge checks strong to straighten out game-stopping misunderstandings quickly.) Haku climbed up to the ceiling out of the elemental's reach. The elemental climbed up onto the 5-foot-tall rock to reach Haku and hit her. Yet Haku saw that it was slowed when out of water. [Question: by the PF2 rules, are the PCs allowed to deduce things without spending an action?] Haku raced along the wall to get out of the northeastern area and back in sight of the others, and then braced herself amongst good handholds (She made a Seek check to spot them) before she fell into fatigue and lost her climb speed.

We ended the game there and resumed today. The fish-shaped water elemental climbed the wall to attack Haku [Question: the water elemental lacks hands, but the fish shape is just ornamental. Can it climb? Does it need a free hand--and remember, no hands--to attack with its Wave attack while clinging to a wall? By the way, the water elemental climbing the wall was what the party wanted it to do.] The ranger shot arrows at the elemental. The sorcerer throw a Lightning Bolt and Rays of Frost at it. The barbarian raged anew, stabbed it with a spear and moved to goad the elemental to keep wasting actions chasing her. The alchemist had retreated to heal. The elemental rolled a 3 against the Lightning Bolt, but no other attack did more than 7 damage and half missed outright. The elemental (as determined by the dice) figured out that chasing the barbarian was a distraction and attacked the sorceress, taking out half her hit points in natural 20 critical hit. She retreated, but the barbarian took to fighting it one on one at ground level while fatigued, taking massive damage but outlasted it when the ranger made the final shot.

If the party had taken down the water elemental just after it hit the sorceress, then the battle would have been a Pyrrhic victory but a victory nonetheless. But the battle continued two rounds after that. It became drudgery, reminding the party that they won not because they were better but because they were four mercenaries beating up an outnumbered creature that an evil elemental wizard gated into a no-win situation centuries ago.

And they have to do this three more times with no clue toward a better strategy. Their best abilities, besides the barbarian's climbing and swimming, merely deal damage. PF2 does not offer much battlefield control. The alchemist had time to invent and prepare something clever, but her formulas did not offer anything useful.

To add salt to their wounds, they rolled on Treat Wounds seven times for five failures and two critical failures. Only the barbarian, the worst at medicine, has not yet had a critical failure on Treat Wounds that day. The barbarian had time for two self-heals via her Superstition Totem. She hopes to soak up the damage in the remaining battles. The rest are limping along on the alchemist's elixirs of life.

For further annoyance, we had to deal with lighting and multiple-mode movement rules and Interact actions and similar nitpicking details when we were trying to tell a story by running a game. Trivial details break the flow.

The Superstition-Totem Raging-Athlete barbarian is working out like we hoped. The ranger is dull. The alchemist fails at damage and has no other meaningful options to use her Intelligence to win. The sorceress was a substitute, a friend running the pregenerated 5th-level Seoni while a regular player was out of town on business. Next week our alchemist's player will be busy at her daughter's wedding.

I am not going to quit the playtest. Something is wrong. Pathfinder 2nd Edition has an elegant foundation, but the little choices don't add up into well-rounde characters that can be themselves during gameplay. The playtest gives me data to find the error.

In the discussion of the Paizo Blog: Halfway to Doomsday the topic of class feats, ancestry feats, skill feats, versus general feats arose. One subtopic related to this was whether they should all be named "feat" because they served different roles. Jason Bulmanh suggested a separate thread.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Folks.. this thread is really not for arguing about the use of the word feat, but it has been made clear that some feel that the adjective delineation is not sufficient.

If folks want to continue the discussion, please start another thread (and try not to use big text to make your point, it not necessary).

Thus, I am creating this thread to discuss whether class feats, ancestry feats, skill feats, and general feats should have different names.

First, I was to discuss their roles and why they are different. Second, I will review some names.

Mechanically, Pathfinder 2nd Edition gives out ancestry feats, class feats, skill feats, and general feats at different times. The usual pattern is:

Levels that grant ancestry feats: 1, 5, 9, 13, 17
Levels that grant class feats: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Levels that grant skill feats: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Levels that grant general feats: 3, 7, 11, 15, 19

This pattern is not set in stone. For example, the granting of class feats depends on class:
Alchemist feats: 1, (2), 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Babarian feats: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Bard feats: 1**, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, (18), 20
Cleric feats: 1*, (2), 4, (6), 8, 14, 20
Druid feats: 1**, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, 18, 20
Fighter feats: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Monk feats: 1, (2), 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Paladin feats: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Ranger feats: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Rogue feats: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Sorcerer feats: 1*, (2), 4, 8, 14, (18), 20
Wizard feats: 1*, (2), 4, (6), 8, (10), 14, (18), 20
() - no class feats of this level available, so it grants a feat of lower level.
* no class feat granted at this level.
** 1st-level class feat selected by order or muse

Why are these kinds of feats kept separate? We can learn some reasons from Pathfinder 1st Edition.

1. Some selected features depend on class features and have no meaning outside of that class. For example, a barbarian's rage powers require the barbarian rage feature, and would be useless to a non-barbarian character.

2. Some selected features are thematic to a particular class or ancestry and would break the theme if allowed elsewhere. A human is supposed to lack inherent magic, except for inner sorcerous power often described as not being fully human, so a gnome's casual Dancing Lights or Speak with Animals would not fit a human character. This reason is weak with regard to feats, because feats can require racial prerequisites.

3. Some selected features become multiplicatively more powerful if combined together. A feature that adds a higher critical hit range combines too well with a feature that increases critical hit damage, so we wouldn't want those to mix.

4. Some selected features are weaker than standard feats and would not be selected if a feat were offered as an alternative. The Advanced Player's Guide traits were meant to fall in this role. The feat Additional Traits offered two traits, so as shorthand we say that a PF1 trait is half as powerful as a PF1 feat. In practice, the strongest traits are more powerful than the weakest feats, but that does not matter because people would still select the strongest feats instead of the strongest traits.

5. Many players overspecialize their characters, known as min-maxing. A min-maxed character is problematic for crafting an adventure. In their area of expertise, a min-maxed character is too powerful for ordinary challenges, and the challenges appropriate for that character leave the rest of the party sidelined. Outside their area of expertise, the reverse happens. A min-maxed character is too weak for ordinary challenges, and the challenge appropriate for that character are easily handled by the rest of the party without the min-maxed character. Forcing selection of feats outside an obvious specialty, such as combat, reduces min-maxing.

6. Separate feats reduce the number of feats a player needs to examine during character creation or leveling up. For example, a player creating a human monk does need not consider any elf ancestry feats nor fighter class feats.

The problem is that by naming every selected feature as "feats," they no longer feel separated. Some people have reported that their players did not realize the lists were separate and selected class feats instead of skill or general feats.

Good names might make the reason for these separations more obvious. For example, "class feats" suggest that the feats are separated because they are thematic for the class. Words denoting power would emphaize reason 3, that the feats are too powerful to be available to all characters. Words denoting frivolity would emphasize reason 4, that the feats are too weak to compete against other feats.

The selected features of Pathfinder 1st Edition classes offer our first alternatives to the name "feat."

1. Alchemists have discoveries.
2. Barbarians have rage powers.
3. Bards have performances and masterpieces.
4. Clerics have domains that offer domain powers.
5. Druids have nothing.
6. Fighters gained advanced weapon training from Weapon Master's Handbook and advanced armor training from Armor Master's Handbook.
7. Monks gained style feats from Ultimate Combat that offered stances.
8. Paladins have mercies.
9. Rangers have combat styles.
10. Rogues have talents.
11. Sorcerers have bloodlines that offer bloodline powers.
12. Wizards have schools that offer school powers.

Outside the Core Rulebook (alchemists are honorary core now), we have a few more names.

13. Cavaliers have orders that offer order abilities.
14. Gunslingers have deeds.
15. Inquisitors have judgments.
16. Magi have arcana.
17. Oracles have revelations.
18. Shifters have aspects.
19. Summoner eidolons have evolutions.
20. Vigilantes, like rogues, have talents.
21. Witches have hexes.
22. Ninja and mesmerists have tricks.
23. Arcanists have exploits.
24. Warpriests have blessings.
25. Occultists have focus powers and implements.
26. Psychics have amplifications.

The Paizo Blog discussion had other suggestions. For example:

Data Lore wrote:
Ya, I would go with Class Feats, General Feats, Ancestral Qualities, and Skill Talents instead of calling everything a "Feat."

What are your ideas and opinions?

EDIT: Oops, I forgot a sixth reason for separating feats. Sorry, I am sick this week and not clearheaded. Fortunately, I am still in the one-hour edit period, so I added it.

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Due to real-life delays, my group is starting In Pale Mountain's Shadow today 6pm EDT (two and a half hours from now). While waiting with my wife at her doctor appointment, we talked about her character, a Mountain Nomad barbarian with expert Athletics and Raging Athlete and an Expert-quality Climbing Kit. She can walk up cliffs using just two legs and a hand, i.e., an actual climb speed and One-handed Climber feat. And she wants to aid the other party members in their climbs. What options does her character have?

She could use the Aid reaction on page 307 to give them a +2 circumstancce bonus that would stack with the +1 item bonus from lending the person her expert climbing kit. That is bland. She wants more roleplaying.

The other characters will be trained in Athletics, too, so they will be able to manage the DC 19 climb checks. The only problem is the occasional Critical Failure that will result in a fall. The climbing kit allows a DC 5 flat check to prevent the fall. The Critical Failure allows a Grab Edge reaction to prevent falling further than the next handhold--I guess 5 feet down. The barbarian wants to use her own reaction to try to stop their fail. This will prevent her from using Aid, but it makes more sense for the character. She is a barbarian and believes in the hard path so long as your teammates have your back.

Should this be possible? Would using the Grab Edge reaction as a Grab Person reaction be feasible? Should expert proficiency open up obvious new uses of old skill actions?

The goal between my wife and I is to stress test Pathfinder 2nd Edition. This is one of the tests. If Aid is the only aid an expert mountaineer with an expert climbing kit can give to a fellow climber, then the Pathfinder skill systems fails. Back in AD&D our characters used to send the best climber up the cliff to lower down a knotted rope, and the system gave the climb DC for a knotted rope, too. I have not found the DC for climbing a rope. I fear I must use the nightmare Table 10-2, because <sarcasm>higher-level ropes are harder to climb</sarcasm>. Nor have I found the DC or Strength requirement for simply hauling a non-athletic character up the cliff by the combined strength of the other three party members.

My wife compares her barbarian to Bear Grylls on Man vs. Wild where he helps a celebrity guest climb cliffs.

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41.4% Better

With the playtest of Pathfinder 2nd Edition, many people are digging down to mathematical fundamentals in their delight or discomfort with new rules. We have Proficiency modifiers are too low and Level bonus, explain why we need it. The thread The return of linear martials and quadratic casters, and how to address it harks back to the old trope of Linear Fighters and Quadratic Wizards.

The predecessor to Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, is quadratic. You can see this in its level progression. Second level required 1000 experience points. Third level required 2000 more, for a total of 3000. Fourth level required 3000 more, for a total of 6000. The progression 0, 1000, 3000, 6000, 10000, 15000, 21000, 28000, 36000, 45000, 55000, 66000, etc. is given by the 2nd-degree formula 500×(n^2) - 500×(n). Another sign of D&D 3rd Edition being quadratic is the frequent dead levels that have no new class features at higher levels.

Pathfinder, in contrast, is exponential. This is better than quadratic.

The fast experience progression for leveling in Pathfinder 1st Edition is:
0, 1300, 3300, 6000, 10000, 15000, 23000, 34000, 50000, 71000, 105000, 145000, ....
This grows first near the same rate and later much faster than D&D 3rd Edition's quadratic progression. It strongly resembles the offset exponential sequence:
0, 1300, 3100, 6000, 10000, 15000, 23000, 34000, 49000, 72000, 104000, 150000,...,
which follows the formula 3000×(1.43^(n-1)) - 3000 with some rounding. If we pretend that every character starts first level with 3000 unrecorded experience points, then it is exponential. Childhood in Pathfinder must be quite an experience.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition hides its experience progression under a rescaled 1000 xp per level, but the experience points by creature level in both 1st Edition and 2nd Edition tell the same story of expoential growth. In 1st Edition CR 1 is worth 400 xp, CR 2 is worth 600 xp, CR 3 800 xp, CR 4 1200 xp, CR 5 1600 xp, CR 6 2400 xp, CR 7 3200 xp, CR 8 4800 xp, CR 9 6400 xp, etc. In Table 4: Creature XP and Role in the 2nd Edition playtest Bestiary we find Party’s level – 4 is worth 10 xp, Party’s level – 3 is worth 15 xp, Party’s level – 2 is worth 20 xp, Party’s level – 1 30 xp, Party’s level 40 xp, Party’s level + 1 60 xp, Party’s level + 2 80 xp, Party’s level + 3 120 xp, and Party’s level + 4 160 xp. The 1st-Edition sequence--400, 600, 800, 1200, 1600, etc.--is 40 times the 2nd-Edition sequence--10, 15, 20, 30, 40, etc.--but they grow at the same exponential rate, doubling every two levels.

Since the square root of 2 is 1.414, doubling every two levels gives a ratio of 1.414 between consecutive numbers--10, 14, 20, 28, 40, etc.--but Paizo rounded them to multiples of 5. That is a 41.4% improvement at each level.

41.4% is a good number. If the level-up improvement were only 15%, as it is in many video games, then players would shrug and think that the new perk is nice, but not important. If the level-up improvement were 100%, doubling the power, then the character would be transformed at every level, messing up consistency and trivializing former opponents. We players want enough improvement to eagerly anticipate the level-up but not so much improvement to feel helpless if it is delayed.

A linear progression has improvement ratios that start high but shrink. The linear progression 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, ... , 5 + 5×(n) has ratios 15/10 = 1.5, 20/15 = 1.33, 25/20 = 1.25, 30/25 = 1.2, 35/30 = 1.17, 40/35 = 1.14, ..., so it shrinks well below 41% improvement.

A quadratic progression can mimic the improvement ratios of an exponential progression much longer. The quadratic progression 10, 14, 20, 28, 38, 50, 64, 80, 98, 118, ... , n^2 + n + 8 has ratios 14/20 = 1.4, 20/14 = 1.43, 28/20 = 1.4, 38/28 = 1.36, 50/38 = 1.32, 64/50 = 1.28, ..., and it too drops below 41% improvement.

A fourth kind of curve sometimes appears in Pathfinder. The combat effect of increasing AC is the reciprocal of a linear sequence: 20/6, 20/5, 20/4, 20/3, 20/2, 20/1, 20/1, 20/1, etc. Its ratio increases; in fact, if not for a natural 20 always hitting, it would go asymptotic to infinity. The ratios increase until the nat-20 cap: 1.2, 1.25, 1.33, 1.5, 2, 1, 1, etc. The reciprocal sequence is very swingy and hard to balance in the game. I suspect that this was the main reason D&D 3rd Edition and Pathfinder 2nd Edition severely restricted increases to AC.

Measuring Improvement

Imagine a ranger that tracks wild dire boar for hunts by aristocrats. He has to help fight the boar, too. Let's say the 2nd-level ranger has a +3 STR bonus, +3 DEX bonus, a masterwork sword, a masterwork bow, BAB +2, and his favored enemy is animals, giving a +2 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against dire boar. That gives an attack bonus of +8. The boar has AC 15. The ranger must roll 7 or higher, 14 chances out of 20, to hit the boar.

The ranger levels up to 3rd level. His BAB is +3. 3 is 50% better than 2, right? No, I knew that you would not fall for that silly statement. The value of the BAB is based on his chance of hitting. He previously had 14 chances out of 20 of hitting the bandit. Now he has 15 chances out of 20. 15/14 = 1.071, so he became 7.1% better.

In addition, he bought a +1 sword. That improves his damage from 1d8+5 to 1d8+6, 10.5% better. But he still uses his old bow, so his damage is 10.5% better only 50% of the time, so overall his damage is only 5.3% better. Thus his damage per attack is 12.8% better, (1.071)(1.053) = 1.128.

How much improvement should there be? Combat can be split into three parts, each of which contributes to the 41.4%: defense, battlefield control, and offense. Defense keeps the character alive, battlefield control enables winning, and offense wins. Offense is a favorite, so its improvement has to at least match the improvement in defense and battlefield control. We want at least 12.2% improvement to offense at each level-up, calculated as the cube root of 1.414 rather than as one third of 41.4%. The effects of the three areas of combat are multiplicative rather than additive.

His other improvements are 6 more hit points, the Endurance feat, favored terrain, and his 3rd-level feat.

  • Let's suppose the ranger has Con 10 and had 16 hit points at 2nd level. Six more is a 37% increase when compared to the point (0 hp) where the ranger would become unconscious and a 23% increase when compared to the point (-10 hp) where he would die. Let's rate that as the average, a 30% improvement.
  • Endurance seldom affects combat itself and this is a combat rating.
  • Favored terrain gives him +2 to initative in the forest. Winning initiative is a one-turn advantage on a two-turn encounter, and gives him flat-footed opponents with a -1 loss of Dex to AC. The whole formula for that is his chances to hit increase from 13/20 + 13/20 to 14/20 + 13/20 + 13/20, but only 60% of the time instead of 50%, so the improvement ratio is ((0.6)(40/20)+(0.4)(26/20))/((0.5)(40/20)+(0.5)(26/20)) = 34.4/33 = 1.042, a 4.2% improvement.
  • For his feat, let's use Dodge, a +1 to AC. A breastplace and Dex 16 give him AC 19, versus the +8 gore attack of a boar, so AC 20 reduces his chance of being hit from 10/20 to 9/20. We look at the ratio upsidedown to see the improvement, because we want a lower number. 10/9 = 1.111, an 11.1% improvement.

We multiply the combat improvement ratios together, (1.128)(1.3)(1.042)(1.111) = 1.698, a 69.8% improvement. That is better than 41.4%, enough better that it is a little unbalanced. The ranger has the advantage that he is specializing in boar hunting in the forest. If he had to make saving throws against spells or deal with a wide variety of terrains, I would be adjusting his improvements downward because sometimes they would not matter.

After another year of boar hunting, the ranger levels up to 4th level. His BAB is +4 and he buys a +1 bow. His attack roll is now 6.7% better (16/15 = 1.067). His damage is now improved from 50% 1d8+5 and 50% 1d8+6 to 100% 1d8+6, 5% better. Overall, his damage per attack is 12.0% better.

Notice that though the ranger's advancement to 4th level has essentially the same new element to offense as his advancement to 3rd level, the amount of improvement is slightly less, 12.0% instead of 12.8%. Adding the same thing is a linear improvement, and linear progressions don't keep up with exponential progressions. Likewise, when he gains another 6 hit points, it is 6 out of 22 rather than 6 out of 16, so the same element to defense is only a 23% improvement instead of a 30% improvement. Fortunately for the ranger, he gains two other big improvements at 4th level, Hunter's Bond and one 1st-level ranger spell. I will skip measuring the total improvement because the measurement of exotic effects like Hunter's Bond is very difficult.

Moving the Goalposts

Providing a 41.4% improvement at each level for a primary spellcaster, such as a wizard, is simple. The spellcaster gains a new spell level every two character level. If the power of the spells at the new level is twice the power of the spells obtained two levels before, then the power of the spellcaster doubles in two levels. However, Pathfinder tends to give more range and versatility to higher level spells in exchange for not doubling the damage, because damage growing exponentially would lead to easy kills.

Martial characters, in contrast, have to assemble their exponential improvement out of linear progressions such as Base Attack Bonus and hit points. Feats also appear regularly. In theory, higher-level feats coul be more powerful, like spells are. In practice, Pathfinder 1st Edition usually uses feat chains rather than level restrictions. Once the chain ends, the character begins a new chain with low-level feats, which reverts the feats to linear growth. Many class features, such as a rogue's sneak attack damage, increase linearly, too.

Despite linear growth mechancis, martial characters use a trick to manipulate the improvement curve to mimic 41.4% growth. Improvement due to increasing attack bonus is measured relative to the AC of the opponent. Changing the AC changes the numerical value of the improvement. I call this trick Moving the Goalposts.

Ava was a 1st-level paladin helping her order stop Lamashtu cultists. Her strength was 13, so her total attack bonus was +2. The cultists had AC 15, so she hit on a 13 or higher, 8 chances out of 20. She advanced to 2nd level while fighting cultists. With her improved BAB, she hit 9 chances out of 20, a 12.5% improvement.

The cultist hired local thugs to defend them. The thugs had AC 16, so Ava hit 8 chances out of 20. She advanced to 3rd level while fighting thugs. With her improved BAB, she hit 9 chances out of 20, a 12.5% improvement.

The paladins defeat the thugs and find the cultist's secret lair. The guards in the lair had AC 17, so Ava hit 8 chances out of 20. She advanced to 4th level while fighting guards. With her improved BAB, she hit 9 chances out of 20, a 12.5% improvement.

The cultist leader sent their death squads after the paladins. The death squads had AC 18, so Ava hit 8 chances out of 20. She advanced to 5th level while fighting death squads. With her improved BAB, she hit 9 chances out of 20, a 12.5% improvement.

Changing her foes let me force Ava's chance of hitting back to 8 chances out of 20. So long as she repeatedly advances from 8 chances out of 20 to 9 chances out of 20, her repeated improvement in offense is an unvarying 12.5%.

Is this an appropriate method for setting up challenges? No, it is a delaying tactic. Moving the goalposts keeps the battles the same, so that each new level and each new enemy seems the same. Repeated too often, leveling up against unreachable goalposts because a treadmill (Vic Ferrari's words) or a Red Queen's Race (Jester David's words).

Moving the goalposts does buy time. After buying time and reaching an appropriate level, the player character will receive a boost in offense besides a routine +1 to BAB. Perhaps the character selects a powerful combat feat. At 6th level full BAB characters receive an extra attack. With a non-BAB improvement to combat effectiveness, the GM does not have to move the goalposts to achieve the designed improvement. The character will probably exceed the goal. Afterward, combat will feel more advanced as the player uses the new feature.

And sometimes we can move the goalposts without changing the opponents. Voluntary methods persuade the player to give chances at hitting in exchange for something better. And that something better makes combat different and new.

Consider Power Attack in Pathfinder 1st Edition. Before 4th level, it gives a -1 penalty to hit in exchange for +2 to damage. Imagine that Ava learns Power Attack at 3rd level. I don't have to increase the AC of her foes by 1, because she has voluntarily accepted a -1 penalty. Power Attack shrinks her 9 chances out of 20 back down to 8 chances out of 20. At 4th level, that -1 penalty has increased to -2, so once again the game does my work of challenging Ava. I need to increase the hit points of her foes, due to the extra damage from Power Attack, but not their AC. Increasing hit points is easier.

Other feats give penalties to attacks: Two-Weapon Fighting, Rapid Shot, and Combat Expertise. Switching to combat maneuver rolls instead of attacks against AC could also shift odds of success downward, putting the goalposts where the GM wants them.

Many players don't use those voluntary options. Fortunately for Pathfinder 1st Edition, at 6th level the full BAB classes have a new penalty, -5 to their second attack.

At 5th level, Ava was still fighting foes with AC 18, this time they're bandits. She was using Power Attack regularly, so with Strength 13, BAB +5, a +1 sword, and the -2 penalty from Power Attack, she needed to roll a 13 or higher to hit, 8 chances out of 20. She advanced to 6th level while fighting bandits. With her improved BAB, she hit hit on a 12 or higher, 9 chances out of 20, a 12.5% improvement. But she also gained a 2nd attack. On that 2nd attack, she need an 17 or higher to hit, 4 chances out of 20. But those extra 4 chances are an additional improvement.

Ava now has a reason to make full attacks. Going from standard attacks at 5th level, with 8 chances out of 20, to full attacks at 6th level, with 9 chances followed by 4 more chances, has an improvement ratio of (9+4)/8 = 1.625, an enormous 62.5% improvement! We cannot assume full attacks every turn, so she sometimes does only 12.5% better a single attack. Combat with half standard attacks and half full attacks would mean that she goes from 8+8 chances on two turns (both standard attacks) at 5th level to 9+9+4 chances on two turns (one standard attack and one full attack), for a ratio of 22/16 = 1.375, a 37.5% improvement.

When Ava advanced to 7th level, she was still fighting bandits. Her kingdom had lots of bandits. Her 1st attack improved from 9 chances out of 20 to 10 chances out of 20, an 11.1% improvement. Her 2nd attack improved from 4 chances out of 20 to 5 chances out of 20, a 25% improvement. Her improvement ratio, still assuming half standard attacks and half full attacks, would be (10+10+5)/(9+9+4) = 25/22 = 1.136, an overall 13.6% improvement. And that is without moving the goalposts by increasing the AC of her opponents.

Advancing to 8th level while still fighting AC 18 bandits, Ava had a 10% improvement in her 1st attack and a 20% improvement in her 2nd attack. Her overall improvement ratio was (11+11+6)/(10+10+5) = 28/25 = 1.12, a 12% improvement. The boost from the 2nd attack began wearing off. I would raise the AC of her opponents again before 9th level.

That boost, fortunately, is renewed at 11th level with the 3rd attack. But the 3rd attack is not as influential as the 2nd attack, because it is one attack out of three rather than one attack out of two in a full attack. The linear growth in BAB adding 2nd and 3rd attacks turn the linear progression into a quadratic progresion, which can stay near exponential growth longer but not forever. Hence, in Pathfinder 1st Edition the martial classes fall behind the spellcasting classes past 11th level.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition

Pathfinder 2nd Editon removes the iterated attacks from BAB +6 and every +5 after that, and instead offers three Strike actions per turn. PF2 multiple attacks copy the -5 and -10 penalties of iterated attacks for the 2nd and 3rd attacks of the turn. While many martial characters may find themselves moving or raising a shield with the 3rd action, they will often make two attacks right from 1st level.

Gaining a 2nd attack is no longer a way to convert the BAB linear curve into a quadratic curve at 6th level, because the characters already have a 2nd attack.

The PF2 math does offer an effect like an extra attack. In Pathfinder 1st Edition, critical hits were a fixed percentage of all the hits with a particular weapon. In Pathfinder 2nd Edition, critical hits can also be a reward for hitting with an attack roll 10 more than necessary to hit. And that acts just like an extra attack at a -10 penalty.

I don't fully understand the Pathfinder 2nd Edition options, but I can investigate the options by sampling parts of individual classes and analyzing them.

Since extra attacks had a major effect on the improvement progression of a martial character in Pathfinder 1st Edition, let us sample the Monk class. Monks gain one more attack than most classes due to Flurry of Blows, which allows two unarmed Strike actions at the cost of one action slot, once per turn. (I will distinguish between performing an action and the three actions per turn by calling the latter "action slots".) I don't know for sure whether Flurry of Blows takes an additional multiattack penalty on its 2nd attack, but for the sake of more consistent mathematics, let's assume it does.

Hornet the human monk with nomadic background has scores Str 18, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 12 and has 3 spell points for her ki strike. Against an orc warrior AC 15 while using her ki strike to enhance her attack, her 1st unarmed attack hits on a roll of 9 or higher and deals 1d6+4 damage. Fists are agile, so her 2nd attack has a -4 multiattack penalty and her 3rd and later attacks have a -8 multiattack penalty. In a full four attacks against the orc she would have to roll a 9, 13, 17, and 17 to hit, except she does not have enough spell points for that many ki-strike attacks, so it would be 9, 13, 17, and 18.

At 2nd level, her proficiencies in unarmed attacks and unarmored defense increase with her level and she learns another monk feat. Thus, she would hit the orc warrior on 8, 12, 16, and 17, for a total of 13+9+5+4 = 31 chances out of 20 to hit. That is a 14.8% improvement in offense.

Hornet considers Tiger Stance. It would increase her damage die to 1d8 plus 1d4 persistent damage on a crit, but it costs an action to enter the stance. That increases Hornet's average immediate damage to 1d8+4, a 13.3% increase but losing the hit on a 17 4th attack is a 14.8% reduction in hitting (upsidedown ration 31/27 = 1.148). Oops, Tiger Stance deals 11.5 damage in that turn instead of 11.6. The 1d4 persistent damage, which has an 23.3% chance of being applied, makes up for the loss. If we count the persistent damage as applied once, Tiger Stance would be an overall 3.5% improvement. This would have been a clearer improvement if Hornet had strength 16, which would make the 1d8 damage die better in comparison.

Our first lesson is that the Pathfinder 2nd Edition action economy can be a serious penalty to multiple attacks, even when giving up the worst attack.

Hornet learns Monastic Weaponry instead, because a bo staff deals 1d8+4 damage in her hands and could be used with Flurry of Blows. That gives a 13.3% increase in damage. In addition, she becomes 22% better at throwing shuriken, a ranged attack at which she does not excel, but sometimes she will need a ranged option. Let's dub that a 1% increase (wild guess).

With expert proficiency in unarmored defense, Hornet's AC increased from 13 at 1st level to 14 at 2nd level. Against the orc warrior's +7 to hit, her AC-based defense increased by 7.7%.

Her hit points increasing from 18 to 28 is another 55.6% increase. Unlike Pathfinder 1st Edition, Hornet does not have a reserve of negative hit points to distinguish unconscious from dead, so both conditions have the same starting point, unlike 1st Edition. The severity of dying depends on a Fortitude save against DC 13, but we assume that fellow party members will revive her before that matters.

Thus, her overall increase in combat effectiveness is (1.148)(1.133)(1.01)(1.077)(1.556) = 2.182, a 118% increase. That is double power! First level is pathetic compared to second level.

Sadly, most of Hornet's improvement came from features that all classes receive: level to attack proficiency, level to defense proficiency, and hit points per level.

The monk's class features are set up linearly, possibly with frontloading at 1st level:

  • Ancestry feats at 1st, 5th, 13th, and 17th levels.
  • Monk feats at 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.
  • Skill feats at 2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.
  • General feats at 3rd, 7th, 11th, etc.
  • Ability boosts at 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th levels.
  • Skill increases at 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.
  • Incredible movement increases at 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, etc.

    The nonlinear exceptions are unarmored defense proficiency increases at 1st, 13th, and 17th levels; unarmed attack proficiency increases at 1st, 3rd, and 13th levels; path to perfection increases at 7th, 11th, and 14th levels; fierce flurry at 9th level; and perfected form at 19th level. Those are not enough to make the growth exponential.

    The only mechanism left to provide exponential progression, beyond the Moving the Goalposts trickery, is for the feats to increase in power by 41.4% per level, like spells do. Let's examine the monk feats. The easiest to compare are the ki feats that use spell points. The Ki Strike 1st-level feat gives a monk a spell point pool the same as a cleric's spell point pool.

    Wholeness of Body, Feat 4, Power 2, gives a monk 2 more spell points and the ability to heal himself for 1d8+Wis (2d8+Wis at 6th level) by spending 2 spell points in a Verbal Casting. The cleric healing domain offers Healing Font, Power 2, by which the cleric can cast Heal (1d8+Wis plus 2d8 more for each heightening) for 1 spell point. The monk's feat is weaker and stops improving at 6th level.

    Abundant Step, Feat 6, Power 3, gives a monk 2 more spell points and the ability to teleport himself a 10 feet within his line of sight by spending 1 spell point in a Somatic Casting. The distance auntomatically increases at 12th and 16th level. Given that somatic casting triggers an attack of opportunity, I don't see the advantage over walking or leaping. The wizard gains an identical feat at 8th level, so the monk is ahead of the wizard there.

    Ki Blast, Feat 6, Power 3, gives a monk 2 more spell points and the ability to blast 4d4 force damage in a 30-foot cone by spending 2 spell points in a Somatic Casting and Verbal Casting. The damage heightens by 2d4. This is similar to the 5d6 elemental damage, heightens by 1d6, in a 30-foot cone from the sorcerer's Draconic bloodline Dragon Breath Power 3, which costs only 1 spell point. The monk's Ki Blast damage equals the sorcerer's Dragaon Breath damage at 16th level, but still costs twice the spell points.

    Wild Winds Stance, Feat 8, Power 4, gives a monk 1 more spell point and a stance that increases AC by 1 and allows an unarmed 1d4 propulsive ranged Strike up to 30 feet away for 1 spell point. The wording seems to say that the spell point is spent to enter the stance rather than make the attack. This does not resemble any spellcaster power.

    Wind Jump, Feat 10, Power 5, gives a monk 2 more spell points and the ability to fly for 1 minute by spending 2 spell points in a Verbal Casting. Before 12th level, the monk must land every turn. A potion of flying is 8th-level treasure costing 60 gp.

    Wild Winds Gust, Feat 14, Power 7, gives a monk 2 more spell points and the ability to make an unarmed 1d4 propulsive ranged Strike against every creature in a 30-foot cone by spending 2 spell points in a Somatic Casting and Verbal Casting. The damage would be pathetic at that level, except that the monk could be using +3 handwraps of mighty fists for 4d4+2×Str damage, which still leave the damage less than the Ki Blast.

    Quivering Palm, Feat 16, Power 8, gives a monk 2 more spell points and the ability to make a melee unarmed Strike that can kill the target on a critically failed Fortitude save by spending 2 spell points in a Somatic Casting and Verbal Casting. On a non-critical failure, the target is stunned for one round and the monk can try again.

    Empty Body, Feat 18, Power 9, gives a monk 2 more spell points and the ability to turn ethereal for 1 minute by spending 2 spell points in a Somatic Casting and Verbal Casting. It is identical to Ethereal Jaunt, Spell 7, except it does not require concentration, so ending the spell is more difficult.

    Thus, the monk's ki powers do resemble similar spellcaster powers but at double the spell point cost and with a few useless powers. Double the cost means half the uses, but half an exponential curve is still an exponential curve with the same improvement rate. I suspect the double cost is not from balance issues; instead because the Pathfinder 1st Edition monk's ki pool was a small pool, equal to 1/2 his monk level + his Wisdom modifier. The monk's use of ki was supposed to be infrequent.

    In contrast to class feats, the ancestry feats do not go above feat 5, so past 5th level ancestry feats are purely linear. The non-skill general feats are limited to feat 1 and feat 2, except for Expeditious Search feat 7, so they likewise are linear. Skill feats come in levels 1, 2, 7, and 15. Do the 7th and 15th-level feats live up to their level? A 7th-level feat, on a 41%-improvement exponential progression, should be 8 times as powerful as a 1st-level feat, and a 15th-level feat should be 16 times as powerful as a 7th-level feat.

    The Intimidation skill feats have Intimidating Glare and Quick Intimidation at 1st level; Group Coercion, Intimidating Prowess, and Lasting Coercion at 2nd level; Battle Cry at 7th level; and Scare to Death at 15th level. Battle Cry is an action-economy feat, allowing Demoralize as a free action when rolling initiative. It compares readily to Quick Intimidation, another action-economy feat that allows Coercion in one turns rather than ten turns. Battle Cry saves about one action out of six or nine; Quick Intimidation saves nine turns out of ten. The 1st-level feat seems more powerful. Scare to Death can kill a foe on a critical Intimidation success and a failed Fortitude save. It is not an attack, so a critical success is as easy as regular success on a third attack with its -10 multiattack penalty. It would be great, except for a bolster-against limitation that prevents repeating it until the Fortitude save fails. That makes it effective only as an opening action or against several enemies. It fails to meet the goal of 16 times as powerful as Battle Cry.

    In the Athletics skill line, Quick Climber (7th) permits climbing at half land speed on a regular success and Legendary Climber gives a climb speed equal to land speed. The climb speed is not only twice as fast, it also removes flat-footedness, permits sneaking, and gives automatic success on ordinary climbs, so it is about 4 times as powerful as Quick Climber. But at 15th level, the exponential progression wants 16 times as powerful. Legendary Climber should be an 11th-level feat at the latest, especially since flying becomes more frequent around that level. For another comparison, Spider Climb, Spell 2, grants a 25-foot climb speed for 10 minutes. Spider Climb can be cast at 3rd level. Unlimited duration would make Legendary Climber appropriate for 11th level.

    Sampling two skill lines shows that the skill feats do not keep up to the exponential curve.

    Finally, I claimed that spells could keep a spellcaster on the exponential improvement curve if their power doubled every spell level. Do they?

    Spell DC is the caster's level plus the modifier for his or her spellcasting ability score. Since it is level-based, all spells with saving throws are subject to the Moving the Goalposts effect. Outside of Moving the Goalposts, it is linear.

    For the effects of spells, the arcane Wall spells make a convenient sample. Wall of Wind, Spell 3, stops arrows and creates difficult terrain. Wall of Fire, Spell 4, deters enemies from crossing with 3d6 fire damage, which is at least twice as powerful. Wall of Ice and Wall of Stone, both Spell 5, create actual walls, at least twice as powerful as Wall of Fire. Wall of Force, Spell 6, creates an wall that can block incorporeal creatures and is much stronger, twice as powerful as Wall of Ice. Blade Barrier, a different Spell 6, is more like Wall of Fire and deals 6d8 force damage on a failed Reflex roll. That is 2.5 times the damage, so it is not 4 times as strong as the comparable Spell 4 Wall of Fire. Chromatic Wall, Spell 5, has a random color and each color has different effects. Prismatic Wall, Spell 8, has all seven colors and their effects, which is a little short of 8 times as powerful but close enough.

    The wall spell sample has the spells doubling in power with each spell level. The spellcasters can achieve the 41.4% improvement exponential curve.

  • The discussion for Paizo Blog: All about Actions was closed at 759 comments, but I have a new comment about the three-action system that I am wild to share.

    My players were gathered together yesterday for the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game that my wife runs. During a break (the dogs wanted my wife to walk them), I talked about our schedule for the Paizo Playtest, getting final confirmation from the fifth player for the playtest. I have been sending playtest emails to my potential playtesters, illustrating some of the PF2 concepts with the pregenerated characters previewed at ENWorld. (I posted one message to in Pregen previews over at ENWorld! comment #798). My most recent message described a battle with Merisiel and Valeros on one side and Kyra and Seelah on the other.

    He was willing to join in, but was worried about the three-actions per turn system. He said it sounded complicated. He also said that healing sounded important in combat (In my battle example, Kyra had cast Heal at range once and Seelah had laid hands on herself once.)

    This player had played Pathfinder 1st Edition for two and a half years and GURPS for three months.

    Well, a playtest with only players quick to master new rules, such as my wife, would not be representative of the general public.

    I have been following many discussions on this Playtest subforum with the goal of envisioning resonance. The resonance mechanic at the moment feels like nothing more than a mechanic. It was designed to simplify the use of X-uses-per-turn magic items, to replace the magic item slots, to prevent spamming cheap consumables, to eliminate "worn for 24 hours" restrictions, and to replace Use Magic Device skill. The fivefold goal has resulted in a complex system. How can I explain it to my players?

    Of the five people I think will participate in the playtest with me, I will have one true newbie, one near newbie who does not understand written rules well, one experienced player who would rather improvise from a verbal description that read a rulebook, and two people who would read the playest rulebook. Thus, I want to give a clear verbal description of the resonance system.

    A good underlying concept makes a strong foundation for a verbal description. I have read many different visualizations of resonance. Let's go over them.

    0) Magical charges
    For comparison, let me begin with the notions I use in pre-resonance Pathfinder 1st Edition. Magic items are invested with magic during their creation. Either that magic is unchangingly stored until use, as with a scroll or a feather token, or the magic recharges fast enough to be used a few times during the day as in a circlet of blasting. The internal magic of an item is measured in charges. Sometimes these charges are explicit, as the charges in a wand or staff, and sometimes the charges are implied, as in the 10 rounds per day of Boots of Speed. A single use of a Ring of Invisibility is enough to make a person invisible for 3 minutes; fortunately, after 3 minutes the ring has recharged so it can be used again. Continuous items charge fast enough for an uninterrupted effect.

    This does not explain magic item slots on a person's body, so we also assume some kind of interference between two magic items too close to each other. It also does not explain Use Magic Device. Some people describe Use Magic Device as tricking the item, so a few GMs have forbidden the skill to paladins forbidden to lie, but I envision it as attuning one's inner magic to the kind of magic that activates the item.

    1) Resonance as inner magical power.
    If I present resonance primarily as a resource pool to be spent, like the arcane pool of the magus or the grit pool of the gunslinger, then I have labeled it as an inner resource. An inner magic power fits the Golarion setting well. Magic items are powered by the person who holds them, which explains how non-consumables can go on forever.

    However, PF2 already has an inner magical power: spell points. The differences between resonance and spell points is that resonance deals with magic items and spell points don't, and resonance comes from level and Charisma and spell points come from a spellcasting class. Describing two very similar pools of inner magic to my players will lead to confusion.

    In addition, magic weapons would have to consume resonance under this visualization, and they don't. Likewise, what would power magic traps?

    2) Resonance as external magic power.
    The best example of external magic power is the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce. Four children, and in the Circle Opens some others, do not cast their spells off of inner magical power. Instead, they have an affinity for the magic of ordinary objects: Sandry with thread and weaving, Tris with wind and weather, Daja with fire and forge, and Briar with plants. They have power beyond ordinary mages because they are not using their own power. In PF2 the objects would be magic items and the affinity would be represented by resonance.

    But straight external power empowers the character, rather than depleting them. We don't want resonance users to become more powerful than spell-point users. And they won't be, because using magic items uses up resonance quickly. Some other factor than empowerment is active here.

    3) Resonance as tolerance.
    I played with resonance as tolerance in comment #877 in the Paizo Blog: Trinkets and Treasures discussion. The notion is that magic items strain the person who uses them. Resonance measures the tolerance against the strain. This has a nice mythic vibe similar to bearing the One Ring and keeping Stormbringer's bloodthirst under control. Resonance as tolerance acts more like hit points than spell points, but the damage is self inflicted.

    Resonance does not power the magic items; rather, the power is limited by a resonance threshold. Wearing a magic item costs resonance and activating a magic items costs resonance, because the strain increases. Perhaps weapons don't cost resonance because people hold them farther from the body and that causes less strain. Do magic shields cost resonance? Staves are also held equally far, but they require activation which is a closer link.

    This is closer to how PF2 magic items work, but it does have one gap: what happens when resonance runs out. The plausible outcome for acivating an item without resonance is some kind of harm, such as hit point damage or the sickened condition. Failure to activate implies that the power comes from the person, not the item.

    4) Resonance as attunement
    How do non-intelligent magic items know what to do? A scroll is no problem, because that is spell completion. But do Boots of Striding and Springing simply make the person lighter or do they change the wearer's stride? That would imply a connection. And the name "resonance" implies two objects vibrating together.

    The resonance spent on worn and carried items could be viewed as assigned to the item to create that connection. Resonance spent as activation can be viewed as re-establishing that connection after a surge of magic burned it out, so resonance is spent at the end of activation rather than at the beginning. And without connection, the magic item cannot detect attempts to activate it. The limit on items worn is because a person needs practice at maintaining several connections.

    But like resonance as inner magic power, this explanation has trouble explaining why weapons don't need resonance.

    5) Resonance as liveliness
    The magic items have their own power, but that is not all they need. Magic inside unliving items could lack liveliness. It is static and inert. It needs to be awaken by living magic. The magic the wielder provides is not powerful, but it is the spark needed to ignite the magic in the item.

    This is slightly better than resonace as inner magic power, since it leaves off "power", but the difference between liveliness and power is too subtle and will be lost in my explanation. And magic traps would be hard to justify.

    6) Resonance as performance
    Resonance is based on Charisma, so perhaps its nature relates to the PF2 Charisma skills. Use Magic Device will no longer be a Charisma skill, but how about Performance? What if the wielder had to finesse the magic item like playing a musical instrument? The Boots of Striding and Springing move on their own and their wearer learns to dance with their motion.

    This notion lacks the need for spending resonance, since despite an investigator's inspiration pool, spending points does not feel like a skill or a performance. But it could complement resonance as attunement. Perhaps resonance as performance could fill in the gaps, such as using weapons without spending resonance.

    I plan to use attunement with a splash of performance to describe resonance to my players as follows:

    When you put on a magic item, such as magic armor, a magic ring, or magic boots, your body attunes to the item and makes a connection. The connection is called an investment in the item. The number of investments you can maintain is limited, and the maximum is your resonance limit, which starts every morning at your level plus your Charisma modifier, minimum 1. Any item you put on past your resonance limit won't work magically, though magic boots will still be boots.

    You cannot voluntarily end an investment. You are stuck with it the rest of the day, even if you take off the item and someone else uses it. If you sleep for the night while wearing the item, the investment endures for the next day and counts against your fresh resonance limit. You still have to be wearing or holding the item properly to use it.

    An exception is weapons. You go through an attunement ritual in the morning, such as a paladin saying morning prayers while holding his Holy Avenger sword in front of him, to invest in the weapon, but that investment does not count against the resonance limit.

    Activating a magic item requires more than a connection. The effort burns up resonance and reduces the resonance limit by one for the day. If your investments are at your resonance limit already, you cannot activate items. Drinking a magic potion activates it, so be careful that you don't waste one by drinking it without spare resonance.

    For those who played Pathfinder 1st Edition, magic items no longer have body slots. You can wear as many rings and amulets as your resonance limit. Wearing two pairs of magic boots would be physically impractical, but if you crafted one set of enchanted footwear as magic socks instead, they fit into your magic boots just fine.

    I majorly rewrote The Divinity Drive. The changes started when--to avoid conflict with the Technic League--the party fled Starfall in their small scout spacecraft. Unity took remote control of the spaceship, and though the party was capable of deactivating the remote control, they let Unity land them on top of the Divinity.

    They bluffed that they were a repair crew trained by Casandalee. Unity was not fooled by the bluff, but he pretended to be fooled because he wanted Casandalee back, even in the form of some recorded memories on a compact AI. And he put the party to work as a repair crew. We had a lot of fun as the party made serious repairs to a damaged mile-long spaceship, fought shadows and wraiths, befriended some of Unity's other minions, and snuck around via maintenance tunnels to learn Unity's secret plan. The players liked the repairing-the-spaceship adventures so much that, except for the sneaking around, they kind of forgot that Unity was the enemy.

    I changed Unity's secret plan. The module says

    The Divinity Drive wrote:
    The Iron God’s methods of forcing worship and enslaving minds have been perfected, and it’s moved on to transform flesh as well. It has met with particular success with gargoyles here, for their supernatural association with earth and metal made them excellent targets for total subjugation. Unity is confident that once it escapes its confines within Silver Mount, it can use these methods of control over mind and flesh to spread its faith throughout Golarion like a disease. Central to Unity’s goal is the launch of a shuttle that’s been altered to carry the AI’s computer core and the Divinity Drive (see page 60) into orbit above Golarion.

    Nope, the experiment with Hellion proved that a remote computer core is unreliable. Instead, it plans to launch the Divinity itself. Sure, the gigantic spaceship is half buried in a mountain and its engines are no longer capable of lifting it to orbit, but Unity has the Divinity Drive, a device that can open portals to outer space. Step 1. Dig tunnels around the Divinity and plant explosive charges that will clear the mountain away from the Divinity. Step 2. Open a portal above the Divinity with the gas giant Bretheda on the other side. The gravity from Bretheda will pull the Divinity through the portal. Step 3. Open another portal to escape to orbit around Aballon before the Divinity crashes into Bretheda. Step 4. Steal Aballonan technology to finish repairing the Divinity.

    As for the city of Starfall, it will be crushed under avalanches and then sucked out into space. Unity will try to minimize the about of debris that accompanies the Divinity to space, so maybe half the city of 30,000 people will survive. Unity does not care about the lives of non-Androffan people.

    The party snuck into the Godmind via the "weaknesses between planes" (page 65) in the Divinty Core chamber. I made the Godmind a lot bigger--as big as the Divinity--as a patchwork of interconnected computer games that Unity played to pass the time while it was stuck isolated before it could start repairs. Nevertheless, the PCs encountered Unity's solar angel avatar, almost at full strength, and had to fight it. A 15th-level party defeated a CR 23 evil solar angel that could also cast Unity's spells in an awesome battle that lasted across several game sessions and 10 minutes of in-game time.

    They left the Godmind for the Shuttle Bay (room A17) via the teleporter. They discovered that while they had fought in the Godmind, Unity had loaded the Divinity Drive into its shuttle spacecraft along with the Overlord Robot, blown open the tunnel out of the Shuttle Bay, flown the shuttle to the top of the Command Center, and clamped it into place ready to open a portal in the sky. Unity can implement its evil plan immediately.

    Unity agreed to a one-hour truce with the party. They could evacuate the slaves that planted the explosives in the tunnels around the mountain into the safe interior of the Divinity before Unity blew up the mountain.

    The party left a charismatic NPC, Val Baine, to evacuate the slaves and rushed to the Security Center to get their dying repair drone cohort DW5, called Dwalin, repaired. That was a ruse, because after dropping off Dwalin they went to the Computer Core. I had slipped them a computer hacking rig. They were going to hack into Unity and replace its mind with Casandalee's. (My wife said, "I've been wanting to do that ever since Boffin met the insufferable computer.")

    They were so good at this deception that I rewarded them by letting them lock high priestess Ophelia outside the Computer Core room. They fought the guardian robots and hacked into Unity. This took several rounds, so Ophelia blasted the door to bits with her rail gun. The wizard cohort cast Wall of Force to block her again. She switched to blasting through the wall. The party finished hacking Unity and escaped via the virtual game rigs back into the Godmind before they had to battle Ophelia. They had not rested after battling Unity's solar angel avatar and Ophelia had managed to hit a few with a quickened Irradiate, so they were in bad shape. Casandalee used the powers of the Godmind for quickened sleep and fast spell preparation for the party and then they returned to the Shuttle Bay via the teleporter again.

    The Wall of Force expired. Ophelia entered the Computer Core room and cast Miracle to restore Unity to normal. Unity announced its restored presence to the party over the Shuttle Bay's public address system. then we ended the game session for the night. Both the players and I need time to plan.

    The miracle did not re-establish Unity's link to the Godmind, so Unity is no longer an Iron God. Due to convoluted details too lengthy to describe here, Dwalin is now in charge of the Godmind. However, Unity can still blow up the mountain and open the portal in the sky.

    Has the party lost their chance to save Starfall? One of the most logical acts for Unity is to blow up the mountain right now, before the party can disable the detonation mechanism. Or should Unity give the party a third chance after they broke their bargain on the second chance? I feel guilty about undoing their hard work with an unexpected Miracle spell, but Ophelia did have it and its 25,000gp material component prepared. I allowed Dwalin an opposed Wisdom check to block the spell, since the spell was powered by the Godmind's energies, but Dwalin rolled a natural 1 and had a total of 5. Ophelia rolled an 18 for a total of 26.

    I can delay opening the portal on the excuse that the Divinity Drive requires several minutes to do so. Or I could have the fun of Iron Gods in spaaace.

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Mirror Image is a great spell. Not only does it provide significant protection to its caster, it also provides drama to the combat as the decoy images are destroyed one by one. And it lacks the disadvantages of roleplaying Invisibility, such as not being able to mark location with a minature, and can be learned sooner than Displacement.

    Core Rulebook, Spells wrote:

    Mirror Image

    School illusion (figment); Level bard 2, sorcerer/wizard 2
    Casting Time 1 standard action
    Components V, S
    Range personal
    Target you
    Duration 1 min./level

    This spell creates a number of illusory doubles of you that inhabit your square. These doubles make it difficult for enemies to precisely locate and attack you.

    When mirror image is cast, 1d4 images plus one image per three caster levels (maximum eight images total) are created. These images remain in your space and move with you, mimicking your movements, sounds, and actions exactly. Whenever you are attacked or are the target of a spell that requires an attack roll, there is a possibility that the attack targets one of your images instead. If the attack is a hit, roll randomly to see whether the selected target is real or a figment. If it is a figment, the figment is destroyed. If the attack misses by 5 or less, one of your figments is destroyed by the near miss. Area spells affect you normally and do not destroy any of your figments. Spells and effects that do not require an attack roll affect you normally and do not destroy any of your figments. Spells that require a touch attack are harmlessly discharged if used to destroy a figment.

    An attacker must be able to see the figments to be fooled. If you are invisible or the attacker is blind, the spell has no effect (although the normal miss chances still apply).

    Alas, Mirror Image breaks the general principles of illusion spells. It does not allow a Will save to disbelieve any figment. Instead, it invents its own rule that if a decory figment is hit or almost hit, then it is destroyed. An FAQ on Mirror Image declares that targeting a decoy figment with Magic Missile hits the decoyed caster instead. And even if the enemies discover momentarily which image is real, they cannot retain that knowledge for the next attack. Targeting a Major Image figment with Magic Missile has different results, because the spell will fail due to an illegal target and allow a Will save to disbelieve.

    People have individual visions of how the decoy figments manage to work as written. For example, in another thread about other uses of spells, Mirror Image was mentioned and Loren Pechtel said, "The missiles go for the real target which reveals which one is real for now. The images move around, you lose track." Mirror Image does not say that the images move around, but perhaps that is implicit in its properties.

    I asked in the Rules forum about how Mirror Image and its variant Shocking Image interact: Mirror Image and Shocking Image on Same Character. People had different answers based on how they envisioned the spell.

    I am curious about these many ways of envisioning Mirror Image. What are good explanations for how Mirror Image's decoys work? What explains the inability to disbelieve the figments or cast a spell on an individual figment or track the real caster?

    My bloodrager passed up Mirror Image at low levels. By the time she wanted that useful defensive spell, she qualified for the 4th-level Shocking Image spell and learned that instead. However, she is considering learning Mirror Image at 15th level, because she cannot cast Shocking Image via Greater Bloodrage. She could cast Mirror Image that way.

    This leads to the possibility of casting both spells on herself in the same round: casting Shocking Image as a standard action and autocasting Mirror Image by going into Greater Bloodrage as a free action. That raises the question of how the two spells would stack.

    I read postings in this forum about Mirror Image stacking, such as Multiple Mirror Image? from 2011. The best supported view is that the Mirror Image spell with the most images takes effect and the other one fails.

    Shocking Image is a different spell, but says, "This spell works like mirror image, except the illusory doubles it creates discharge an electric shock when destroyed." Do its images count as the same effect, and therefore don't stack, or do they cound as a different effect and stack?

    If they don't stack, would the non-stacking be that Shocking Image creates all the shocking images rolled for it and if Mirror Image would create more images then it creates the difference in non-shocking images? For example, if my bloodrager rolls 6 images for Shocking Image and 8 images for Mirror Image, that would create 6 shocking images and 2 non-shocking images.

    Mirror Image
    School illusion (figment); Level bard 2, sorcerer/wizard 2
    Casting Time 1 standard action
    Components V, S
    Range personal
    Target you
    Duration 1 min./level

    This spell creates a number of illusory doubles of you that inhabit your square. These doubles make it difficult for enemies to precisely locate and attack you.

    When mirror image is cast, 1d4 images plus one image per three caster levels (maximum eight images total) are created. These images remain in your space and move with you, mimicking your movements, sounds, and actions exactly. Whenever you are attacked or are the target of a spell that requires an attack roll, there is a possibility that the attack targets one of your images instead. If the attack is a hit, roll randomly to see whether the selected target is real or a figment. If it is a figment, the figment is destroyed. If the attack misses by 5 or less, one of your figments is destroyed by the near miss. Area spells affect you normally and do not destroy any of your figments. Spells and effects that do not require an attack roll affect you normally and do not destroy any of your figments. Spells that require a touch attack are harmlessly discharged if used to destroy a figment.

    An attacker must be able to see the figments to be fooled. If you are invisible or the attacker is blind, the spell has no effect (although the normal miss chances still apply).

    Shocking Image
    School illusion (figment) [electricity]; Level bard 4, sorcerer/wizard 4
    Casting Time 1 standard action
    Components V, S
    Range personal
    Target you
    Duration 1 minute/level
    Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance see text

    This spell works like mirror image, except the illusory doubles it creates discharge an electric shock when destroyed. An opponent that uses a melee attack to destroy one of your images takes 2d6 points of electricity damage. You must overcome a target's spell resistance the first time you deal this electricity damage to it. Failure renders the target immune to damage from this spell.

    My party is totally off the rails for The Divinity Drive. As I write new material, the game sessions switch between the story advancing at a snail's pace and the characters being amusing and amazing. Yesterday was an amusing day.

    The situation is that at 14th level, the party entered the Divinity peacefully by telling Unity that they were a repair crew trained by the Casandalee Compact AI. They have the Knowledge(engineering) skill and technology feats to back up that claim. Unity has a high Sense Motive, so it knows that they are bluffing, but it really wanted Casandalee to return, even if she is merely a recording now. It pretended to believe them. And put them to work as a repair crew.

    I drastically changed the character of Bastion, the four-armed noqual robot on the security deck. I asked myself, why would the Androffans make a robot out of the anti-magic metal noqual? The answer is that they were afraid of magic. I envisioned Bastion as a robot built centuries before the Divinity, an early space-explorer machine. The Androffans had discovered that other planets had magic, so they had plated Bastion in noqual. He was added to Divinity's crew due to his experience, and appointed head of security during the attack by the Dominion of the Black due to his resistance to their weapons. He is free willed, but programmed for extreme loyalty to the command structure of the ship, so he always follows Unity's orders. He never went crazy; instead, the living members of the security team died in the attack and the crash.

    (Yes, Unity is an "it" but Bastion is a "he".)

    Boffin, the party's tech expert, was talking with Bastion, trying to get more information about Unity's weaknesses. But the conversation drifted to loyalties. Boffin asked, "Are you more concerned about the security of the ship or the security of the crew?"

    GM: Make a roll for existential philosophy.
    Boffin's player: I'll make a Wisdom check. 21.
    GM: Bastion says, "To the crew, of course. But they died off. The only crew left is me, Unity, ... and you guys."

    The party skald, prompted by Casandalee, had persuaded Unity to put the PCs on the payroll. They are official engineering crew, issued their own access cards. A high Diplomacy check made those access cards at orange level, the second highest rank. Unity had not done that for Becrux, the androids, the lashunta, nor the gargoyles. He had done it for Casandalee, centuries ago: back in the Scar of the Spider the party found the prismatic access card issued to her 500 years ago as new chief repair officer. (I have been treating access cards as ID cards, which explains why some high-ranked access cards still cannot open certain doors.)

    Bastion is loyal to crew, and they are crew. Well played, players, well played.

    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    In the thread, What Happened To Magic Itens? Are They Useless?, Gulthor said,

    Gulthor wrote:

    Our group just finished Iron Gods and I just started running Jade Regent this last weekend (I was a player in IG.)

    One of the great disappointments for our group was that as fantastic an AP as Iron Gods was (we *loved* it), we got very, very little use out of the technological items. We kept a ton of them because we *wanted* to use them, but the fact was that basic magic items and our standard build strategies were just *so* much better. Not just a little bit, but enormously so.

    The technological items have several built-in disadvantages:

    1. The technological items are frequently more expensive than their magical equivalents. For example, Eyes of the Owl grant low-light vision for 4,000 gp and the gray veemod strip grants low-light vision for 6,000 gp, plus the 1,000 gp for the veemod goggles. Other examples at The Wires Behind The Magic.

    2. Technological items are either single use or consume charges. A 1-pound battery for recharging costs 100 gp for 10 charges.

    3. Most technological items are timeworn, causing them to occassionally glitch and preventing recharging.

    4. Most technological weapons require exotic weapon proficiency: firearm, heavy weaponry, whip, or bastard sword.

    5. The powerful Technic League has a monopoly on technological items in Numeria. Anyone else using technology is an outlaw in their eyes. Outside of Numeria, advanced technology is extremely rare.

    6. Making technological items has its own feat set and requires special technological laboratories that are rare and often heavy guarded by the Technic League. For a silly example, constructing grippers requires Craft Technological Item and a production lab, when they are simply modern vise grips that a Golarian blacksmith could make out of high-quality steel.

    7. The list of technological items is much smaller than the list of magic items, so they don't fill some obvious niches.

    The advantages of technological items are that they are not magical, so they don't take up magic items slots except physically, and have some abilities not found in magic items, such as touch weapon attacks at long range with a laser pistol. While wands can duplicate some technological effects, wand use often requires heavy investment in Use Magic Device skill.

    Crippling technological items from the Technology Guide is understandable in the overall Pathfinder game. It would ruin the flavor of non-Numerican games if a trickster in Varisia pulled out a hologram generator for a non-magical illusion or a gunslinger in Galt was armed with an arc pistol. In Pathfinder, rare means too expensive to buy.

    But in Iron Gods, letting the PCs freely use technology without all the restrictions lets them immerse themselves deeper into Numeria. I removed many of the restrictions.

    Here is how I did it.

    1. I did not change prices, because found items are essentially free. High price merely increases the temptation to sell the item. And selling the item can lead to an exciting trip to the black market, so it works for roleplaying, too.

    After the PCs cleared the supernatural energies out of the haunted valley in Scrapwall, they searched for good scrap there. It was the one place in Scrapwall that had not been picked clean. So, they found a few more technological items than the module had set out.

    2. I made a mistake about batteries that worked out well. Numerians call the batteries "silverdisks" and use them as coins, so I erroneously assumed that they weighed the same as coins, fifty to a pound. That let the PCs carry plenty of batteries. Furthermore, I let them charge batteries in the reactor beneath Torch (the torch above Torch would sometimes shut down for a few hours after the mysterious period when it had shut down for a week--until the party became so good at engineering that they figured out how the reactor could charge batteries and maintain the torch at the same time). Since Torch residents used silverdisks as money, the party could find new uncharged batteries in their change from shopping. If the silverdisk was unchargeable, then they used it as money instead.

    I also let them salvage the spaceship from the haunted valley in Scrapwall, which gave them a mobile recharging station.

    3. Timeworn was the biggest problem. I made a house rule that Greater Make Whole could remove timeworn. Friendly NPC Dinvaya Lanalei could cast that for them. In retrospect, I should have made removing timeworn more challenging. For example, first a Knowledge(engineering) skill check at DC equal to the crafting DC of the item to diagnose which part failed over the centuries. This check could be retried once a week. Second, with the proper knowledge, Greater Make Whole could remove the timeworn condition.

    My houserule had a cascade effect. If timeworn could be removed by a 4th-level spell on the cleric and sorcerer/wizard lists, then what use was the recondition ability from the Technomancer prestige class? I declared that a technomancer could repair a reconditioned item at a minor cost with no skill check, removing the timeworn or broken condition, yet the Technic League technomancers preferred to leave their favorite items merely reconditioned to prevent theft.

    4. No change to weapon proficiencies. My game had two party members with firearm proficiency and a third took Exotic Weapon Proficiency(heavy weaponry). The players were willing to sacrifice a little to fit the milieu.

    5. My players also roleplayed around the Technic League's ban on technology. They maintained dual identities. In towns, such as Torch and Iadenveigh, they were ordinary smiths, fighters, wizards, and bards who showed no visible technology. In isolated places where outlaws roamed free, such as Scrapwall, the Choking Tower, the Tarnished Halls, and the Scar of the Spider, they adopted false names and pulled out their technology. Their spaceship was always parked miles away from curious eyes. They built a warehouse 3 miles outside Torch for long-term concealment of the spaceship during downtime.

    6. I dropped the laboratory requirement for repairing technology. Technolgical labs were needed only for building technology from raw materials. The gunslinger/rogue in the party took the technological crafting feats, and the skald could fix parts with Greater Make Whole, so they could repair any found technological item. I also invented a feat for this PC, Leadership of Robots, that let her repair a limited number of robots the party defeated as follower robots with 1st-level abilities. She wanted a crew for her spaceship.

    7. The lack of variety is still a problem. Thus, the party has more magic items than technological items. I invented a technological toaster oven, +2 for Craft cooking and alchemy. The gunslinger/rogue in the party loved it.

    I am accustomed to my players derailing modules, but this time they sabotaged the plot hooks in the module. How can I keep the campaign going?

    We have begun Palace of Fallen Stars and the PCs decided to enter the town by blending in. And they are so good at blending that they stopped adventuring. They are never going to earn any Notoriety points; fortunately, I don't rely on them.

    They had blended in successful in Scrapwall during Lords of Rust, entering that former bandit camp under false names while pretending to be archeologists hiding from the Technic League. In Starfall, they went more extreme: they split the party. The gunslinger/rogue Boffin and bloodrager Val Baine had started B&B Alchemical Smelting in Torch during downtime after The Choking Tower, and they entered Starfall as businesswomen seeking customers. The fighter/investigator Kheld and his wizard cohort Juran invested in a caravan and entered Starfall to buy a storehouse in Starfall. The strix skald Kirii and her lyrakien skald/rogue cohort Tay were the hardest to disguise: a Hat of Disguise let her become a roving winged aasimir cleric of Desna accompanied by a lyrakien of Desna. The brooding magus Elric entered alone as a brooding adventurer who never talked about his background. They meet for dinner in the Laughing Whitefish Inn to share notes.

    I started with an adventure that motivated them: the alien boss from the previous module had escaped and set up in a farmstead outside Starfall by sending an intellect devourer to possess the farmer. The party reverted to their false Scrapwall identities for that. I thought that I could lure them to the Night Market to sell the technological gadgets from the aliens at the farm. Instead, Juran teleported to Hajoth Hakados and sold the spare technological items there.

    Fortunately, my wife's character Boffin was willing to bite the now-baitless plot hook. She went to the Night Market out of curiosity and the rest followed in their separate identities, except Val switched to her false identity. But that meant that when the fight between Baron Drund and The Shade erupted, only Val was willing to step up in full force. The others were trying to stay inconspicuous. Boffin, pretending to be a 2nd-level rogue/expert, did risk a low-level tactic: she hit The Shade with a tanglefoot bag. That gave Drund an opportunity to run, and The Shade chased after him instead of taking revenge on the meddling townsperson.

    One conversation and one tanglefoot bag in a 3-page scenario barely counts as roleplaying. Val is a GMPC, so she does not count.

    Elric had encountered Mockery when two palace guards abused a sausage vendor on the main street. Elric had helped the vendor slip away while Mockery distracted the corrupt guards by mocking them. I hope this contact will lead to the Red Reaver scenario. But Mockery does not know that Elric is part of a larger party. I rewrote it so that Mockery asked about a skilled alchemist, so Elric introduced him to Boffin.

    They have no grudge against the Black Sovereign in the Palace of Fallen Stars. They believe that the Technic League is vile and evil, but have no desire to attack them.

    I laid the foundation for another potential plot hook: the Technic League had captured some of their friends in Scrapwall as slaves. And slaves in Starfall are mysteriously disappearing (Ozmyn is sending them to Silver Mount) instead of being sold to Chesed as usual. My wife is biting her tongue waiting for either Kirii's or Juran's player to realize, "Hey, I could cast Sending and ask them where they are!" Maybe I will leave a trail of mundane clues for them to follow.

    Ordinarily, dilly-dallying would make me roll on the random encounter table. However, the table in Palace of Fallen Stars makes little sense. 01-04 1d20 barbarian gargoyles CR 12, 05-09 1d4 bogeymen CR 12, 10-15 1d4 contract killers CR 12, 16-22 elite Technic League patrol CR12, etc. How do ordinary citizens survive in this city with a CR 12 or worse hazard appearing every 3 hours? I presume that a Technic League patrol would walk right past ordinary people, but that means they will walk past disguised party members, too. If five barbarian gargoyles do swoop down and attack random townsfolk, I suspect that the one or two party members in the vicinity would help the people evacuate rather than break their disguise by fighting.

    Do I just keep laying out breadcrumb trails? Does anyone have suggestions for getting their butts in gear?

    Recently in my Pathfinder campaign, I have had two sessions where most of the action was running and flying to reach a single enemy. Two months ago, the party tried to sneak up at midnight on a sorceress living in a tent surrounded by low-level minions. The sentries spotted the party 500 feet out (a few PCs had terrible stealth), so they switched to running toward the sorceress while throwing long-range spells. In this week's session, the party had taken out intellect devourers and other eldritch horrors hiding on a farm, but one cultist possessed by an intellect devourer ran away and the party did not chase after him until they defeated the others. This chase lasted a full mile, with the intellect devourer and two party members using Dimension Door as a shortcut.

    The party members have different speeds, so the party becomes strung out when each individual moves as fast as possible in the chase. When one or two party members catch up to their opponent, the rest of the party is left out of the action. And Dimension Door often means that someone who rushed ahead is left behind, instead.

    Furthermore, the chases takes more time than combat itself. The mile-long chase took 2 hours in real time. Is there any way to speed it up?

    When I tried handwaving the details of exact locations, the players insisted on exact arrival times. I ended up tracking and reporting locations in detail: "You are 120 feet from the start, so you have 380 feet to go. If you keep running at 120 feet per round, that will be 4 rounds." Imagine updating that detail every round, after the player says, "No, I am not running. I cast a fireball instead, and then I move 30 feet. Wait, maybe I should run."

    I also tried laying out the minatures in a not-to-scale line with distance written beside them on the playmat, and that helped. But even with the compressed scale, the minatures ran off the playmat. Any other suggestions?

    How well should the Detect Metal spell work for prospecting? Unlike Detect Magic and Detect Technology, Detect Metal apparently can sense through solid stone for its full 60-foot range.

    I let my party use it before. They were short of wealth for their level after the second module, Lords of Rust, so I let them use Detect Metal to mine the largely untapped Valley of Mists, which they had cleared of haunts. During two months, they found some pure adamantine and some cold siccatite and a few small technological items, before the Technic League got word of a new mining operation in Scrapwall and chased them away.

    I also let them repair the wrecked spaceship there, because they invested heavily in the technological crafting skills and feats. The Technic League team got to watch slackjawed as the party escaped by flying away in a spaceship.

    After the fourth module, Valley of the Brain Collectors, and before the fifth module, the party in my campaign returned to Scrapwall. A few members of the Technic League had moved in and had enslaved 100 ratfolk to continue mining the Valley of the Mists. With the aid of their good friend Redtooth, the party took on the Technic League team and rescued the ratfolk slaves. But if the slaves remain in Scrapwall, Technic League replacements might enslave them again or take revenge on them. The party wants to resettle the ratfolk.

    They first tried a long march to Chitterhome, a ratfolk city only 50 miles from Scrapwall. But Redtooth's brother Whiskifiss had gone on ahead to Chitterhome and learned that they would not accept the refugees. Scrapwall has a terrible reputation, even among ratfolk, and Chitterhome ratfolk did not want bandits and thieves in their city.

    A long discussion with Redtooth revealed a lack of marketable skills among the ratfolk refugees. The Scrapwall ratfolk survived mostly by scavenging useful scrap. They could burrow deep into the scrap piles with smaller tunnels than medium creatures would use. Other ratfolk worked as servants or housecleaners for house-owning Scrapwall residents such as the Steel Hawks. And several were thieves, including some that took housecleaning jobs merely to case the house for valuables. Settling them in a human town would lead to lots of trouble.

    Now the party is considering settling the ratfolk east of Torch. In my version of Numeria, a town called Murray's Mine grew up five miles east of Torch. They strip-mine a long eastward-running vein of glaucite, seeking the more valuable skymetals hidden among the glaucite. That vein is the debris of two lower decks of the ship hidden beneath Torch, for it skipped like a stone before crashing into the Torch bluff. The players had built a warehouse near there, for I let them smelting adamantine from glaucite using the fusion reactor in their spaceship. The party salvaged the smaller reactors out of the annilihator robots they recently defeated and plan to set up a permanent adamantine smelter with one reactor. If they can find and claim another deposit of glaucite near Murray's Mine, then the ratfolk can become miners, the only skill most of them possess. Hence, the party plans to do some prospecting with Detect Metal.

    By the way, both the spacehip and the adamantine smelter are under the control of my wife's character Boffin. She is careful not to abuse the privileges I gave the party.

    The bloodrager in my Iron Gods game has decided to wear a scatterlight suit obtained as loot. I want to make sure I understand which weapons it protects against.

    A scatterlight suit comes from the Technology Guide. It gives +1 armor bonus against most attacks, but against beam weapons and rays it gives a bigger armor bonus to touch AC. The size of the bonus is based on its rank on the Androffan color code: the suit worn by the bloodrager is rated "blue" which gives a +7 to touch AC against beam weapons and rays.

    Unfortunately, the Technology Guide does not define beam weapons. It is obvious that they are some of the technological weapons in the guide and in the Iron Gods adventure path, but which ones? Will I have to open up the Technology Guide for every opponent and declare, "Sorry, but his energy pistol says blast not beam, so the scatterlight suit does not help." Another player suggested that since the suit scatters light, it works only against lasers but not against other energy, but that is extremely restrictive since enemies seem to have arc pistols (electricity), laser pistols (fire), and zero pistols (cold) in equal measure. Besides, since the scatterlight suits have to power up to gain the touch AC protection, their defense is probably more than simply reflecting light.

    The descriptions for arc pistol, atom gun, death ray, EMP pistol, gravity pistol, laser pistol, laser torch, nuclear resonator, vortex gun, x-laser, and zero gun use the word beam. The descriptions for atom gun, plasmathrower, sonic pistol, stun gun, and x-laser use the word blast (two weapons overlap). Rifles says they are bigger versions of the pistols. The mindrender sends out nanites on a carrier wave; however, the death ray sends out nanites on a carrier beam. The other technological weapons shoot projectiles, such as an autograpnel, or are melee weapons, such as a chainsaw.

    The robot subtype from Inner Sea Bestiary says describes laser weapons as "These weapons emit beams of intensely focused light waves that resolve as touch attacks and deal fire damage," and plasma weapons "These weapons emit bursts of superheated, electrically charged gas known as plasma. A plasma weapon's attacks resolve as touch attacks. Half the damage dealt by plasma is fire damage, and half is electricity damage." The plasma torch on an arachnid robot is described only as a ranged touch attack. The plasma beam on an advanced arachnid robot was described as a beam. The plasma lance on an annihilator robot is described as a line, area-of effect rather than ranged touch. Plasma torch, plasma beam, and plasma lance are the tail weapons on three multi-legged robots that differ mostly in size and CR.

    The bloodrager plans to wear an armored coat over the scatterlight suit to protect against physical attacks.

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    My players gathered 20,000 gold pieces of technological items during the second module, Lords of Rust, but wanted to keep only a few items. No-one in Scrapwall could afford to buy the rest. I had a black market merchant visit Scrapwall but she could buy only 2,000 gp of items, because only a down-on-her-luck dealer would visit Scrapwall. They found more items in Iadenveigh during The Choking Tower. but, of course, kept them secret from the anti-technology residents of that town. They sold some skymetal in their hometown of Torch, but they worried that selling technology there would attract unpleasant attention from the Technic League.

    And they seriously needed to upgrade their equipment before visiting the Choking Tower itself. I hinted they should visit one of Numeria's black markets.

    The Pathfinder Player Companion: Black Markets lists The Tarnished Halls as one of the major black markets in the Inner Sea area, so that was the obvious place to visit. It is described as:
    The Tarnished Halls
    Community: Hajoth Hakados
    Specialties: Alien technology, skymetals
    Regularly moving up and down the length of the Seven Tears River and protected by an unofficial council of river pirates, the Tarnished Halls are one of the few places outsiders can find or purchase the various technological wonders and strange creatures endemic to Numeria.

    That is great! Torch is at the headwaters of the Seven Tears River, so it is not far from their home base.

    Alas, Black Markets is a Player Companion book, not a Campaign Setting book. It primarily tells how to design a black market, but gives only a short settlement-style description of existing black markets. It is nice to know that the Tarnished Halls have Population 228 (167 humans, 19 halflings, 13 half-orcs, 8 androids, 7 dwarves, 5 orcs, 4 ratfolk, 5 others), Marketplace Base Value 4,000 gp (6,000 gp alien goods and technology), Purchase Limit 24,000 gp (32,000 gp alien goods and technology) and Spellcasting 5th, but none of that describes how to find this mobile marketplace or the experience of shopping there. Therefore, I used the techniques in the Player Companion and constructed it myself.

    Locating the Tarnished Halls
    Once a week, Captain Drakenda Kuldar sets up the Tarnished Halls at one of two dozen cooperative villages along the Seven Tears River. The day of the week varies randomly. She sends out advance notice of the location to several trustworthy people who regularly shop there or who serve as guides to visitors. The guides in Torch are in the Ropefist gang led by Garmen Ulreth and an occasional caravan master who does some smuggling. The city of Hajoth Hakados has several guides, including the alchemist witchwyrd Cythrul, who will send an assistant rather than going herself, and several members of the local pathfinder lodge. A DC 15 Diplomacy check at the shady taverns of Hajoth Hakados will also yield a lowlife guide.

    My own players went to Hajoth Hakados but the player of the diplomatic strix skald was out sick that day. My wife, the highly experienced player of the non-diplomatic dwarf gunslinger, stayed in character as an introvert, so she guided party to good locations such as the alchemist shop and the pathfinder lodge but did not interact herself. The other two PCs did not ask relevant questions. Sigh. I gave them the worst possible guide, a lazy bard named Giacomo. He offered to lead them to the Tarnished Halls that would meet in two days, but instead, they arranged to meet him at the small fishing village of South Bend in two days.

    The Market
    The Tarnished Halls spends most of the daylight hours setting up. The full market is conducted at night. Most villages hosting the Tarnished Halls try to keep their people away from it and its customers away from them. However, any village large enough to have a tavern that attracts lowlife scum will do good business before the Tarnished Halls become fully active.

    In the morning, twenty small, fast sailing boats show up on the shore of a clearing near the village and begin setting up booths, walls, and traps. The perimeter around the Tarnished Halls is staked out with portable traps (the PPC: Black Markets has a section on portable traps), and they have some underwater traps for the riverbank, too. No-one is allowed in until the perimeter is secure.

    In the afternoon, a cheap tavern and a swapmeet open up for business. Attending the swapmeet requires a 100 gp fee and an inspection of items to ensure they are not forgeries. This is the primary place to buy and trade access cards and timeworn technology.

    In the evening, the booths of non-technological items open up. Armor, weapons, and magic items up to 4000 gp price can be found at these booths. The Tarnished Hall's trapsetter, a middle-aged dwarf who goes by Nana Trapsmith, has her own booth selling portable traps. Food booths and a better tavern run by Nana's husband open up, too. A brothel ship docks on the river. The owners of a livestock pen herd alien creatures ashore. Blood Gar pirates, who are 5th-level barbarians, guard the booths.

    At sunset, the boats containing Tallend Halant's tent and goods arrive. This is the place to buy technology that is not timeworn and sell to any technology. Tech items up to 6000 gp are sold, and more expensive items can sometimes be found. Artificial lights keep the market dimly lit.

    Any visitors entering the market by the one safe entrance will be scanned with chipfinders to check for Technic League tracking chips. Technological communication devices are not allowed.

    The Tarnished Halls' booths shut down and pack up before dawn. The walls and traps are removed in the morning.

    My party showed up in the morning because their lazy guide had not mentioned the schedule. They had to kill time watching the black market set itself up. When they wanted to enter, they almost had their communicators confiscated, but the guards were willing to lock the gadgets in a box to be carried by their guide. They picked up a few parts for tech crafting at the swapmeet, but did most of their selling at Tallend Halant's tent. They mostly purchased magical reagents for crafting their own magic items, because their previous lack of cash had given them the habit of saving money.

    The People
    The leaders of the Tarnished Halls are Tallend Halant, who reconditions timeworn technology back to full function, and Captain Drakenda Kuldar, who commands the boats and guards.

    Tallend Halant CR 8
    XP 4,800
    Female human sorcerer (crossblooded) 7/technomancer 2
    CN Medium humanoid (android)
    Init +2; Senses low-light vision, darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +3

    AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 17 (+5 armor, +3 Dex, +2 deflection)
    hp 45 (9d6+favored class bonus)
    Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +7
    Defensive Abilities: Androids count as both humanoids and constructs. +4 racial bonus on all saving throws against paralysis, poison, and stun effects, are not subject to fatigue or exhaustion, and are immune to disease and sleep effects.

    Speed 30 ft.
    Melee +1 dagger +6 (1d4/19–20) [add nanite strike]
    Ranged arc rifle +3 touch (2d6 electricity/×2) range increment 150 ft., 20 charges
    Special Attacks: Nanite strike, nanite surge 2/day

    Spells Known (CL 8th; concentration +9)

    4th (3/day, 0 known)—rebuke technology (via technic mastery +1/day)
    3rd (6/day, 1 known)—beast shape I*, gaseous form
    2nd (7/day, 2 known)—invisibility, detect thoughts (DC 15), id insinuation I (DC 15)
    1st (7/day, 4 known)—alarm, color spray (DC 14), comprehend languages, disguise self, technomancy
    0 (at will, 7 known)—daze (DC 13), detect magic, detect poison, flare (DC 13), mending*, message*, read magic
    * transmutation school, affected by nanite bloodline arcana.
    Bloodline bonus spells: disguise self (1st), id insinuation I (2nd), gaseous form (3rd)

    Before Combat: She relies on the defenses of the Tarnished Halls. She secretly casts Detect Thoughts on suspicious characters.
    During Combat: For small threats, she relies on the arc rifle, despite her –4 non-proficiency penalty. For larger threats, she casts Invisibility and runs. If anyone follows using technology, she disables it with Rebuke Technology. Or she casts Beast Shape I to turn into a seal and swims away in the Seven Tears River. Her employees will rescue the valuables on display in the Tarnished Halls. They recognize that her main duty is to protect herself.

    Str 8, Dex 16, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 16
    Base Atk +4; CMB +3; CMD 15
    Feats Logical Spell (1st), Technologist (3rd), Empathy (5th), Craft Technological Item (7th), Skill Focus (Knowledge[engineering]) (7th bonus), Craft Technological Arms and Armor (9th)
    Skills: Appraise +7, Bluff +6, Craft (mechanical) +5, Disable Device +9, Fly +7, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (arcana) +5, Knowledge(engineering) +13, Profession (Merchant) +5, Perception +3, Sense Motive +5, Spellcraft +10, Use Magic Device +7
    Languages Common, Androffan
    SQ bloodline arcana: nanite and psychic, recondition, technical expertise, efficient construction, technic spell mastery (rebuke technology)
    Gear: +1 mithril shirt, +1 dagger, arc rifle, ring of protection +2, potion of barkskin, potion of cure moderate wounds (3), scroll of dispel magic, scroll of obscuring mist, wand of fireball (21 charges), muleback cords, 3 batteries, 7500 gp

    Tallend Halant is a blue-skinned android with white hair, white lips, and blue nanite markings on her skin. Her demenor is professional and her emotions are subdued, but she is willing to talk at length with strangers about her background or technical matters. Androids age more slowly than humans, and she appears 10 years younger than her current age of 53.

    She was born in captivity, a slave to the Technic League. Her previous incarnation had been a nanite bloodline sorcerer in bondage to the Technic League. The Technic League hoped she would manifest those powers again. She was taught to be a loyal slave, with the belief that machines like herself were created to serve humans. She developed nanite-bloodline abilities as predicted, but appeared deficient in her spellcasting. Unknown to everyone she cast everything as a Logical Spell because she was born a psychic caster without emotions. The Technic League trained her as support for their field agents.

    The cruelties left in the wake of her field team shattered Tallend's loyalties. Pushed to her limits, she manifested emotions, but kept them secret. That boosted her psychic casting and let her escape 30 years ago. She loves freedom almost more than she loves her life.

    She found work using her technological training in Hajoth Hakados on the Seven Tears River. Yet even in that android-friendly city she was not safe, for the Technic League offered a bounty to recapture their valuable slave. She teamed up with young Blood Gar smuggler Drakenda Kuldar and moved her business upriver to a secret location. Their trade in refurbished technological items became popular and they set up a black market fair, The Tarnished Halls, in random villages along the Seven Tears River every week. The fair attracts a violent, criminal element. Tallend views them as free to chose violence, but will intervene if it disrupts her commerce.

    Captain Drakenda Kuldar CR 5
    XP 1,600
    Human slayer 6
    NE Medium humanoid (human)
    Init+4; Perception +9

    AC 21, touch 14, flat-footed 18 (+7 armor, +1 deflection, +3 Dex)
    hp 52 (6d10+6+favored class bonus)
    Fort +7, Ref +10, Will +3
    Defensive Abilities

    Speed 20 ft.
    Melee +1 keen rapier +11/+6 (1d6+1/15–20)
    Ranged zero pistol +10/+5 touch (1d8 cold/×2), range increment 50 ft., 10 charges
    Special Attacks: studied target +2, sneak attack +2d6, power attack -2/+4

    Before combat: Drakenda Kuldar is willing to intimidate customers to keep order in the Tarnished Halls, "Black markets attract customers who lie. Believing you would be stupid."
    During combat: She uses Weapon Finesse and Power Attack with her rapier to try to deal 1d6+5 damage. She calls on Blood Gar barbarians for help. If her opponent damages her, she retreats and uses Ranged Feint with her zero pistol for sneak attack damage, with slowing strike so that her opponent stays out in the open. If she is down to 25 hit points, she runs and gives the evacuation order for The Tarnished Halls.

    Str 13, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 13
    Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +16; CMD 20
    Slayer talents: Range Combat Style(Deceptive: Improved Feint), Rogue Talent(Firearm Training), Slowing Strike
    Feats: Power Attack, Ranged Feint, Shadow Strike, Weapon Finesse
    Skills: Acrobatics +6, Bluff +10, Climb +1, Heal +4, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +4, Knowledge (geography) +5, Knowledge (local) +6, Linguistics +1, Perception +9, Sense Motive +9, Stealth +9, Survival +4, and Swim +1.
    Languages Common, Orc
    Gear +1 rapier, zero pistol, acid (2), alchemist's fire (2), +1 breastplate, cloak of resistance +1, ring of protection +1, 581 gp

    Captain Drakenda Kuldar is a quick-tempered 50-year old brunette Kellid woman of the Blood Gar tribe. She leads a group of pirates who switched from raiding to illegal commerce solely because commerce was more profitable. Every week without warning, a set of small sailing ships docks at the fair grounds of a cooperative village on the Seven Tears River to hold The Tarnished Halls black market for an evening and a night. Cooperation includes clearing and maintaining suitable fair grounds. Villages that do not cooperate are raided and pillaged instead. Villages that do cooperate gain immunity to Blood Gar raids and sometimes Blood Gar assistance against orcish raids.

    She began as a captain of one raiding ship, but met Tallend Halant while buying weapons in Hajoth Hakados. The pair teamed up to create a black market too mobile to be shut down by the Technic League, backed by a Kellid tribe too powerful for the Technic League to wipe out. Drakenda pays a sizeable tribute to the Blood Gar tribal leaders for the protection of her illegal business.

    Glorium Kane, NE human cleric of Bright 9
    Kane grew up in a shipbuilding family and kept to that trade even after he followed a divine calling to serve Brigh, goddess of invention. He worked with his smuggler brother to design faster ships for smuggling, but was lured away by a better offer from the Tarnished Halls to design fast ships for them. At the Tarnished Halls, he takes nighttime orders for spells and then prays just before dawn to prepare those spells for his customers. He also knows Brew Potion and keeps the potion booth well stocked with divine potions.

    Nana Trapsmith, N dwarf trapsmith ranger 5
    Nana's main job is to set up traps so that no thief sneaks out of the Tarnished Halls after filching expensive items. She has mastered portable traps that can be dismantled for re-use elsewhere. After dark, she and her son run a booth that sells portable traps. Her husband runs the better tavern in the Tarnished Halls.

    Tarnished Halls Guard CR 4
    XP 1,200
    Human barbarian (urban barbarian) 5
    NE Medium humanoid (human)
    Init+2; senses low-light vision rage power, Perception +

    AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 18 (+4 armor, +2 deflection, +2 Dex)
    hp 37 (5d10+5)
    Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +1
    Defensive Abilities trap sense +1, uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge, rolling dodge rage power

    Speed 30 ft.
    Melee +1 falchion +10 (2d4+6/18–20)
    Ranged mwk composite (str +4) shortbow +8 (1d6+4/×3)
    Special Attacks: controlled rage 13 rounds/day, crowd control urban barbarian feature, combat reflexes, power attack, point-blank shot, precise shot

    Before Combat: A Tarnished Halls guard guards a particular merchant or wanders the Tarnished Halls watching for trouble. He attempts to intimidate any rulebreaker into submission and will confiscate any stolen items.
    During Combat: The guard calls for help as he attacks, so that several guards can surround the opponent. The goal is to not let suspected thieves escape.
    During Evacuation: If evacuation is called, his job is to carry the merchandise for the fleeing merchant to the getaway boat.
    Morale: If down to 10 hp while other guards are in better shape, he backs away, drops out of rage, sheathes his falchion, and draws his bow.

    Str 18 Dex 13 Con 12 Int 13 Wis 10 Cha 10 (non-raging statistics)
    Base Atk +5; CMB +9; CMD 20
    Feats: Combat Reflexes, Point-Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot
    Skills: Acrobatics +5, Climb +7, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (local) +4, Perception +8, Profession(sailor) +8, Sense Motive +4, Swim +5
    Languages Common, Hallit
    SQ crowd control
    Combat Gear potions of cure moderate wounds (2); Other Gear mwk chain shirt, mwk composite (str +4) shortbow, +1 falchion, 50 gp

    The Blood Gar barbarians who guard the Tarnished Halls are not as bloodthirsty as fellow Blood Gar pirates, but they don't have an ounce of sympathy. The job pays well but bores them. If a fight breaks out among customers, as frequently happens, they gather around to protect the merchandise in the booths and then exchange bets on who will win. Only if someone tries to hurt the Tarnished Halls merchants or steal the merchandise do they take action, usually brutal and often fatal. Their bravery is also extreme, for they will remain to pack up the merchandise during an evacuation as Technic League shoots at them.

    The Danger
    About twice a year, the Technic League raids the Tarnished Halls. Their primary goal is to take as much technological items as possible. Their secondary goal is to shut down the black market, but they acknowledge that that particular marketplace is too stubborn to stay shut down. Collateral damage in blowing up customers is a side benefit, since those customers are defying Technic League rules. Most customers can run away unless unlucky.

    The greatest danger besides the Technic League is the other customers. Black markets attract lawbreakers, including bandits, gangsters, and thieves. Add in excessive drinking from the sudden wealth from selling a piece of high-tech scrap, and even ordinary looters and prospectors become ready to tussle on the slightest provocation. The guards don't interfere at fights between customers, because the winner will spend the loser's money at the Tarnished Halls regardless.

    One likely scenario is a gang war breaking out in the aisles of the black market. If buyers from one gang discover buyers from a rival gang. The adventuring party could be mistaken for a gang from anyone who encountered them in another town. Another scenario is a drunk brigand who takes offense at some aspect of the party, such as exotic races. The guards do not interfere in fights between customers unless one side accused the other of theft. The regulars at the Tarnished Halls know better that to accuse each other of theft.

    Finally, anyone accused of theft will be searched by the guards. Theft from a merchant has a death sentence, unless the captured thief pays a fine equal to half the price of the stolen item. Theft from another customer results in the supposedly stolen item being confiscated permanently by the guards, since they don't care who owned it originally.

    In my campaign, I originally planned to have the party caught in the crossfire of a gang war, but when Boffin brought along her robot cohort Dwalin, I instead had a pair of drunk techslingers use the robot for target practice. Boffin shot the laser pistol out of the hand of the first techslinger and the second was wise enough not to take his shot.

    I had a discussion in another thread and decided I ought to separate it to its own thread. Then the discussion was removed as an unrelated side topic, but that was after I copied it.

    Mathmuse wrote:
    Kalindlara wrote:
    Azten wrote:
    I'm afraid to ask what they did to Rage now.

    Multiple forms of rage don't stack.

    Therefore, a skald and barbarian have worse synergy than a bard and barbarian. This makes for less thematic pairings - fighters want skalds, while barbarians want bards.

    I didn't know that. My party's skald will be disappointed that the bloodrager NPC in the party no longer always accepts her Ragesong. We already had to find reasons for the magus PC to sometimes accept her song; now the other spellcaster joins the sometimes group. She has a bloodline power that she likes.

    Of course, I am the GM and can override the errata. But I would like to know the reasoning behind it, to better inform my decision.

    Mathmuse wrote:
    Azten wrote:
    Wow, the PDT can make sensible changes(mechanically, anyway, I do agree that Barbarians should want Skalds).

    The current discussion here is why the developers don't explain their errata, so I will ask Azten instead. Why does that make sense to you?

    I thought the developers were using the usual rules for bonuses to control possible problems about rage stacking. The skald's Inspired Rage ragesong gives fellow party members a morale bonus to Str, Con, and Will saves, a penalty to AC, shares rage powers, and prevents concentration, spellcasting, and certain skill checks. A barbarian's Rage gives the barbarian a morale bonus to Str, Con, and Will saves, a penalty to AC, enables his own rage powers, and prevents concentration, spellcasting, and the same skill checks. A bloodrager's Bloodrage give the bloodrager a morale bonus to Str, Con, and Will saves, a penalty to AC, enables her own bloodline powers, and prevents concentration, spellcasting, and the same skill checks except for the bloodrager's own Bloodrage Casting. The best parts are morale bonuses that don't stack anyway. The penalties would stack, including the ragesong stopping the bloodrager from casting bloodrager spells. All the errata prevents is combining the rage powers and bloodline powers.

    Wait, the errata prevents one other thing. Based on initiative rolls, my bloodrager would start her own bloodrage if the skald had not started her ragesong before the bloodrager's attack. The skald's Inspired Rage was superior, since my bloodrager traded away her 1st-level bloodline power for a familiar. Thus, she would run both rages at once to gain the rage powers while she spent more rounds of her own rage merely to prevent fatigue. With the errata, she would be penalized with fatigue for switching to the ragesong.

    CBDunkerson wrote:

    Except, none of that is new with the FAQ. The Skald text always said;

    "Inspired rage does not allow an ally to activate abilities dependent on other rage class abilities, such as rage powers, blood casting, or bloodrager bloodlines; the ally must activate her own rage class ability in order to use these features."

    Mathmuse wrote:

    My bloodrager used to do that, using her own rounds of bloodrage while also accepting the skald's ragesong. The problem is that the FAQ adds the clause that the barbarian and bloodrager cannot use their own rage class ability while accepting Inspired Rage. I had erroneously interpreted the sentence CBDunkerson quoted as meaning that my bloodrager could accept both forms of rage together.

    1ST EDIT: I found part of the reason for the FAQ errata. In the Unchained barbarian the bonuses to melee attack rolls, melee damage rolls, thrown weapon damage rolls, and Will saving throws are typeless, so they would stack. And they don't affect Str and Con directly, so would stack even if they were morale bonuses.

    2ND EDIT: On second thought, the Inspired Rage clause that the barbarian uses his own bonuses during Inspired Rage could be generalized to prevent stacking by the same-source rule. That would be a more elegant solution.

    CBDunkerson wrote:
    Ah. I hadn't ever thought/heard of that interpretation. I always thought of it as switching from one to the other, but your reading was also plausible. So that alone explains the need for this FAQ... to clarify which of differing interpretations was intended.

    Thus, I learned that overlapping Inspired Rage raging song and Bloodrage was not possible. Instead, unless I ignore the FAQ, my bloodrager has to either abandon her skald friend's contribution entirely or switch between the two kinds of rage. Switching would make sense in roleplaying, since the two rages offer different rage powers and bloodline powers.

    The topic of this thread is I would like good ideas how to handle rage switching for a bloodrager who hopes to switch between the skald's Inspired Rage and her own Bloodrage during the same combat.

    The main problem with switching is the fatigue caused by ending bloodrage. It does not prevent accepting the Inspired Rage, but fatigue still penalizes. Of course, if I use a rage-cycling trick to prevent fatigue, my bloodrager can switch without problem. I usually avoid such grandstanding measures on an NPC, but if it keeps other player happy, I am game.

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