I'm starting a new campaign with 7(!) PCs, and I'm a little worried about designing properly tuned encounters for them.
The rules tell me to start with APL, and add +1 if there are more than 4 PCs. They're all starting at 1st level, so APL = 1 + 1 = 2. Then let's say I want it to be a "challenging" encounter, so I add another +1 to that, for a total encounter CR of 3. This gives me a total XP budget of 800 -- or two CR 1 creatures.
I cannot help but worry that 7 level 1 PCs are going to absolutely demolish two CR 1 creatures.
Am I wrong about that? I mean we're talking about a mechanic, a soldier, an operative, an envoy, a solarian, a nanocyte, and a witchwarper against... a pair of trained squox. The squox will be lucky if they last 2 rounds.
Any advice? Should I bump up the APL by one more? Or should I just relax and trust the math?
* My players are not really min-maxers, and neither am I (none of us has the head or the patience for it).
** Please don't say "split the party up". I could offer each player $100 in real money to split up and they still wouldn't do it.
I'm suggesting that the patch action can only ever improve a given system one level higher than its "actual" status.
For example, you have malfunctioning engines, giving the Pilot -4 on all rolls. You patch them (using as many actions over as many rounds as that takes), so now they are treated as glitching for the purposes of determining action penalties. Pilot action penalties are now -2, but the engines are still malfunctioning. This means, if you patch them again, they would just be treated as though they are glitching, and since they are already being treated as glitching, there would be no effect.
In other words, you can't use patch make a malfunctioning engine go away entirely, the best you can do is improve it to glitching for the duration of the battle.
Also to clarify, this is how I think I would rule if it came up in my game (it hasn't ever, yet), but I think there are a number of valid ways to interpret it, depending on how tough you want to be on your players. (I don't do society play, so I have no thoughts on how they do it over there. )
That all seems to make sense except for maybe a slight quibble with point (vi)? I would rule that you can't patch a Malfunctioning system twice in a row to remove the penalties entirely. Per point (i), after you patch the Malfunctioning system the first time, it's treated as though it were Glitching, but it's still actually a Malfunctioning system. Therefore the second patch is not being applied to a Glitching system but to a Malfunctioning one.
That said, it kind of hinges on how you choose to parse the phrase "treated as". Although I'd personally rule it as I described, your interpretation is probably equally legit.
Most of the complaints about the Barricade feat are coming from people who have not read the rules closely enough.
Starfinder Core Rules wrote:
As a move action, you can stack and reinforce objects that are too small or too fragile to provide cover into a single square of adjacent cover.
Anyone can spend a standard action to kick over a wooden table with 5 hardness and 15 hp and take cover behind it. You don't even need a skill roll. The presence of the Barricade feat does not prevent you from doing this.
Someone who has the Barricade feat can spend a move action to create cover that is just as sturdy out of a roll of aluminum foil, or a pile of foam beer cozies, or a couple of discarded plastic cafeteria trays, or literally any old crap that happens to be lying around.
I don't understand why people keep claiming that the latter is "something anyone could do before they made a rule defining it."
Just a couple of things:
* There is no such thing as a "good" Hellknight order. Taking a queue from the words of Kurt Vonnegut: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be," my version of the setting posits that you cannot accomplish good by emulating Hell, nor can you establish justice or peace through tools of terror and oppression. There are individual hellknights who might believe that they are upholding good principles by dressing up like devils and enforcing laws without regard for nuance or mercy, but they are deluding themselves.
* On a related note, it is official canon that the Hellknights were originally founded by a man emotionally devastated by his son's suicide. He became obsessed with the idea that his son had been consigned to Hell for his sins, and spent the rest of his life searching for a way to set his son's soul free -- which is to say, for a way to cheat Hell. And at the end of his life, the founder of the Hellknights set fire to his library and rode out into the night, never to be seen again. To my knowledge, Paizo has not published an official explanation for this mystery. In my Golarion, the explanation is simple: the founder of the Hellknights went mad when it was revealed to him that his son had never been in Hell, but that he had readily sold his own soul by creating the perfect tool for corrupting authoritarian-minded dupes, and Asmodeus was eternally grateful.
* As a member of the Red Mantis gains more and more levels in the Red Mantis prestige class, he removes his mantis-helmet less and less often. By the time the assassin reaches level 10, he never takes it off. By that time, it might not actually be a helmet any more.
If you actually extrapolated the Stealth penalty for the moon's actual size instead of arbitrarily capping it at -128, it easily overcomes the -126,139,200 penalty to Perception. Like, 50 times over.
Once you realize that Paizo is coyly describing a coffee percolator, you can google "antique coffee percolator" to find pictures that look old and beat-up enough to have come out of some adventurer's handy haversack:
My entire library of Pathfinder material is PDFs. I extract the images, and import the maps into a virtual tabletop; drop pics of major NPCs and monsters into a folder so I can put them up on the big screen TV during the session; use the decorative page borders and fonts to create handouts; print out pages, chop them up, put them in a 3-ring-binder interleaved with my own notes and any relevant chapters from setting books.
When I want to read them, I load them onto a tablet.
Pretty much the best GMing setup I've had in 30 years of gaming.
Although I understand and appreciate that it comes straight from real-world Egyptian mythology, and that it is a perfectly serviceable CR 7 encounter...
There is no way on God's gray earth that my players would be able to keep a straight face if I told them they were attacked by a "serpopard".
No, showing them the picture will not help.
The monster in question is a Barrow Hound, a one-off monster introduced specifically for that module. Here's the relevant text of its special abilities:
The howl is explicitly described as a sonic effect, so a silence spell would certainly shut that down.
The dimensional bark is less clear. It is not described as sonic or language-dependent, and nothing in the text suggests that the targets have to be able to hear it to be affected. A strict reading suggests that the dimensional bark is not a sound at all -- the dog is literally "barking" out a cone of pure dimensional energy. Almost more like a breath weapon, really. I would probably rule that silence does not affect it.
Lord Snow wrote:
I'm not sure you understood the gist of my post. If you physically cannot manage to stand like that, then I can only imagine you must have some kind of serious injury or skeletal condition. The woman is facing forward. Her shoulders are in line with her hips. Her right hip is not "twisted" sideways and back; it is cocked slightly upwards, as is natural, because she is taking a step forwards with her left leg.
The second thing I'd do to understand is to try and imagine her standing like that in a room with other people, and ask myself "what situation is this?" Will someone stand like that while talking to friends? perhaps while in combat? or while casting a spell? I think you'll find the answer to all of these potential questions to be "no" - this is simply no way for a human to stand.
Again, I have to disagree. Respectfully, but unequivocally, I disagree. It's the pose of a woman walking. It's perfectly normal. I linked to a picture of a normal woman in a nearly identical pose (minus the staff) in my previous post, for illustrative purposes. Here's the link again, in case you missed it.
There are obviously sexual elements to the art, and she is clearly intended to be a sexually attractive woman. But that is not a sex toy pose.
Could someone explain what's so contorted about the woman's pose? Because I sincerely, respectfully, do not see it. She is not twisting at the waist in that ubiquitous "butt + boobs" pose; her shoulders are pretty much inline with her hips; one hip is cocked up at, what, about 15 degrees? Which is normal, because she is clearly in the act of taking a step forward.
It's not a combat pose, but it's not a stripper pose or even anything like typical comic book cheesecake. It's hardly contorted at all. It's almost the exact same pose (minus the staff) as this.
More giants. I kind of feel like giants are all done. We have a giant for every major biome. Now we're starting to make giants for specific professions. I don't particularly need to see Flood Plain Giant, Temperate Grassland Giant, Suburban Strip Mall Giant, and Laundromat Giant in the next Bestiary.
More gremlins. We have nearly a dozen varieties of gremlins now. We're all good on gremlins.
I'm kind of on the fence about drakes. I don't need any more drakes, but I could probably handle, like, a couple more. Just take it easy with the drakes, is what I'm saying. Proceed cautiously.
Same with oozes, I think.
On the other hand, golems are still great. By all means, bring on more golems.
- Discussion of its history, its nature, how to get there, how to get back out.
and that people who complain about the presence of heteronormative periphery sexuality (that is, the obvious parents, the tavern-owning couple, and non-sexually explicit expressions of same-sex attraction/existence) are getting mad about it because they don't see as much same-sex periphery sexuality
No. You are misunderstanding.
No one is "getting mad" that heteronomative peripheral sexuality, such as that implied by the mere mention of heterosexual couples, exists in Paizo's gaming products. We are drawing a parallel, in order to illuminate the hypocrisy of people who get mad at the existence of LGBT couples and then justify it by claiming that discussions or endorsements of sexuality have "no place in a fantasy game".
The obvious response to this is twofold:
1) Discussions and endorsements of heteronormative sexuality are already in the fantasy game, in that they are implied every time a heteronormative couple is depicted;
2) Depictions of LGBT couples imply no more discussion or endorsement of sexuality than the heteronormative depictions do; thus, why is one acceptable and the other not?
It's a means of exposing a double standard employed by several people who have objected to depictions of LBGT relationships in the gaming material. If you're interpreting it as "complaining" that there is too much heteronormative sex in the books, then you are missing the intent.
You cannot escape making real-world declarations when you play Pathfinder. Whenever you mention a character who happens to be married or have children or have romantic feelings for someone of the opposite sex, you are declaring "Hetero relationships are normal." The fact that you don't consider that a declaration just means that you have internalized it to such a degree that it never occurs to you to question it, or think of it as something that is even appropriate to question. That is precisely what people mean when they talk about "privilege", incidentally.
You might respond, "Well, yes, but hetero relationships are normal," and you would be right. But LGBT relationships are normal, too. And so it begs the question of why it is okay to make real-world declarations about one (which you are, all the time, whether you realize it or not), but not the other.
This has been said a couple of times already, but:
I would like to see the whole Core Rulebook reorganized and typographically redesigned, according to the layout and design principles used in the Basic Box and most of Paizo's hardbacks published since then. The CR as it stands is a dense, poorly organized, and not particularly attractive book.
I would like to see no substantive rules changes at all.
I would rather not see an entire hardcover based on a single region. I love Ustalav but I don't need 320 pages of it; ditto Cheliax or pretty much any other specific area within the Inner Sea region. I feel like that kind of heavy treatment works best with large, broad topics: an entire continent, or all the gods, to pick two convenient examples.
The one exception is Absalom: I think there's room for one (but probably only one) ultra-detailed mega-city treatment in the setting, and Absalom is the obvious candidate.
If there were more representative black people shown on the map, I'd agree. If there wasn't a racist history of depicting black people as apes/monkeys or other sub-humans, I'd also agree. As is, I think it's reasonable.
And if those were actually the only contextual cues available to the OP, I would be more sympathetic to her and your concerns. But they aren't. There is also the context that Pathfinder is a fantasy RPG, that the setting contains various kinds of monsters that are meant to be antagonists, and that those monsters might be located in thematically appropriate places in the setting. The apes, I'll grant you, are something that should probably be presented more care and context, but one of these monsters is gnolls, which do not exist in folklore or in any literature outside of D&D. You're going to have to dig up some actual sources comparing Africans to hyena-men before I'll believe anyone would legitimately mistake gnolls for some kind of racial dog whistle.
But finally, there is also the context that literally comparing black people to monkeys is not just racist but really quite horrifyingly racist, and we generally ascribe the most profoundly ignorant and hateful motives to the people who do it. That sort of thing does not just fly under the radar. It would be truly extraordinary for a major publisher of one of one of the top two RPGs in the business to go on for five years doing that without anyone ever raising a fuss, and I think that a reasonable person would not immediately jump to that conclusion, even if they did have problems with the poster.
"Why are the northern nations illustrated with what seem to be representative citizens of those nations, while the southern nations are mainly illustrated with monsters and bad guys?" is a reasonable question and one that I think someone in Paizo's marketing department maybe should have asked themselves before okaying that map. "Guys, I'm worried that maybe Paizo thinks black people are all basically monkeys, is that really true?" is just concern-trolling.
No, I have to disagree with this. The map is problematic but it does not exist in a complete contextual vacuum. Even with the understanding that the southern continent is an Africa analogue, there is a big difference between inferring "This region contains demonic apes and gnolls" and "The demonic apes and gnolls in this setting are meant to represent black people." It is really difficult to see the latter as anything but an attempt to make the least charitable assumption possible.
Well, okay: taking the OP purely at his/her word, and bearing in mind that her only exposure to the setting is a poster, then the answer to the original, question is, "No." The Pathfinder setting is not ethically problematic.
The poster may be problematic in that it does not accurately reflect the majority ethnicities of many of the spots it chooses to highlight. Geb, to take just one example, is certainly not full of white liches; the woman Paizo chose to show on the map may well be the only white person in that region, and she's not a native. It's also worth noting that most of the conclusions the OP drew about the northern continent are also either simplistic or dead wrong, and that may well be also the fault of the map. I gather, however, that the OP is not as concerned about that.
But I think if we take the OP at his/her word that her main criteria for "ethically problematic" is that the southern continent appears to consist solely of pirates, apes, and gnolls, then we can certainly all agree that the actual setting does not meet that criteria. Katapesh (which is at least partially inspired by Afghanistan) is not overrun by gnolls; Geb is not full of white liches; the "nasty-looking" nation in north Garund is populated primarily by perfectly civilized black people, not by fiendish divs; and the ape lord's kingdom comprises only a small part of the Mwangi expanse, and his subjects are primarily other evil apes, not people. There are at least 7 human dark-skinned ethnicities described in the setting as living on the southern continent, more than the number of light-skinned ethnicities on the northern continent (unless you want to count the Shoanti as "light-skinned", which I definitely think would be ethically problematic). A few of these ethnicities are heirs to one of the most advanced ancient civilizations in the setting (and I am not talking about the Osirians), and the sub-not-Saharan jungle region boasts the most prestigious magical academy in the setting's current day.
No, the setting is not ethically problematic. You got the wrong impression from a poorly designed map.
Lord Snow wrote:
I'm not aware that this was ever stated as the purpose of the first Bestiary.
"Everything you need to play the game" is not equivalent to "Everything you need to run every adventure that we publish."
It's in literally every single Pathfinder book published by Paizo. You only have to notice it once. I guess I feel like Paizo has met a standard of disclosure sufficient for most reasonable people.
The number of customers who:
1) puchase and run APs, but
must be vanishingly small if not nonexistent, and I'm not sure I'd consider the act of including Bestiary 2 and 3 monsters in their products a "failure" to serve this notional audience on the part of Paizo.
Lord Snow wrote:
Right on the title page of the AP, it says:
"This product makes use of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 3, Pathfinder RPG GameMastery Guide, and Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Combat. These rules can be found online for free as part of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document at paizo.com/prd." (Emphasis mine.)