Michael Suzio's page

146 posts. Organized Play character for xanen.


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Scarab Sages

I asked about this before but the order is still listed as pending. I DO NOT want the beginner box - one more for you to get to the back-ordered folks. Shipping costs make this a net loss for me.

Scarab Sages

Itairion wrote:
minoritarian wrote:

Could I ask that the beginner's box that I got as part of my humble bundle be removed from my account and donated to a school/library/Care home/day centre.

I already redeemed my code for that code but I also do not want to pay shipping, and I already have the beginner's box -- I guess I flubbed up my order (thought it was an ebook, I think)

Can I cancel or Donate it now? I can't edit my order at this point, it seems (order #3873327).

Scarab Sages

Sorry... I've been informed that a Beginners Box has already been purchased for the household I planned on gifting it to. No refund expected, just don't want to pay $13 more for shipping an item I don't have a home for :-(

Scarab Sages

please cancel all subscriptions for this account

Scarab Sages

I just received the print copy of my first volume of the tales sub line (Winter Witch.) as part of this order I deliberately started with the older volume so I'd get the PDF too -- but I don't see that available for me in my downloads. The book seems to have shipped as part of my sub, so I expected the ebook download to be included. Am I misunderstanding how this sub should work?

Scarab Sages

I just re-upped my ap subscription and rpg sub. however, on this order, I don't appear to have gotten the 15% deal on some of the items ( condition cards?). is that because those items had been in my cart prior to me adding the subs? just curious, and of course the 15% wouldn't hurt as a bonus!

Scarab Sages

This is a really dumb set of questions for me to ask, but...

- If you have Vital Strike, and used it that round, does it mean that provoked AoO's also use the Vital Strike damage? I'm very much figuring that is "no", but players argue "Well, but Power Attack carries over!!!"

- If you have TWF, and are using it, can you use both of those attacks on an AoO? Again, I say "no".

Anyone who can give my arguments weight by citing specific legalities of the rules would be appreciated. The ambiguous wording of several pieces of things is hurting my ability to explain these things, and I'm surprised these aren't in the FAQ yet.

Scarab Sages

Oliver McShade wrote:
Is there any way to cast Antimagic Field on some other target other than yourself.


One of my players convinced me the the other day to let him cast it on his familiar use Share Spells, and then had the familiar go up to the wraith sorcerer bad-guy and make him "wink out".

That sucked, but nothing I consulted made me think that wouldn't work. It was a spell with range "Personal", so... I congratulated him on being very smart, and we went on.

Eventually, they had to finally confront the guy, but they kept the familiar within closing range -- still protected by the field, just in case the bad-guy starting whomping on them.

Scarab Sages

OK, so my ideas aren't far off from consensus. Good enough for me.

I think I'll be going with the hosts physical stats while the devourer is 'riding' it, including using the Fort/Ref saves. Mental stats will be devourer totally, since I tend to hand-wave most of the purely physical attributes of CHA and keep around a Comeliness stat (word up to Gary G!), and I'll probably dink a few points off that even if the devourer keeps up with the Gentle Repose spells -- something has to seem 'off' about the whole thing.

Although it's more book-keeping with two sets of stats, saves and such, there will only be a few of these hanging about for the duration of the whole arc, and I think the extra effort will pay off in the end.

Scarab Sages

A few more questions I forgot to include in the OP:

* Stats
Do you use the hosts physical stats and the devourers mental stats? I'm quite sure the appropriate CMD for a combat maneuver is based off the size and build of the host, so that makes sense to me

* Saves versus attacks while devourer is 'in' the host?
Fort/Ref saves -- are they the hosts (former) saves, the devourers, or best of the two? Will saves are clearly the devourers, since there's no host mind left.

This all almost seems to require spelling out via a template or something. Sure, I can wing it again, but I'm wondering if there is some general ruling from the 1st Ed / 2nd Ed / 3.5 days that sums up what the intent was -- these are really old monsters! I don't recall if they had the body-stealing ability back in ye olde days -- for me, they were always the 'scary psionic brain monster' and I never was keen on psionics, so I just realized I've been skimming over them since grade school days.

Scarab Sages

I'm about to run a fairly extensive arc using Intellect Devourers. I have some questions about how the body thief power works.

So, clearly, they inhabit dead bodies, not live targets -- their body thief attack kills the target even if it was alive when they started. However, the PRD also says:

PRD text wrote:

The intellect devourer has full access to all of the host's defensive and offensive abilities save for spellcasting and spell-like abilities (although the intellect devourer can still use its own spell-like abilities).
Damage done to a host body does not harm the intellect devourer, and if the host body is slain, the intellect devourer emerges and is dazed for 1 round.

So, to model a devourer + host, would you stat up the host body as it was when alive (at full hit points, even though the devourer killed it)? I'm strangely assuming that somehow the cure moderate wounds ability might facilitate this, even though CMW doesn't work that way. They should at least have mend to stitch up the corpse and help the facade work. Or... could you assume (in the case where the devourer wants to masquerade as the target as best it can) that they have full hit points minus the damage the body thief attack might have done? So, maximum, the devourer host body has Full HP - 19 (the minimum the coup de grace attack could have done)?

Then... if the devourer + host is attacked, does damage first come off the host body, then the devourer emerges and can attack at full HP?

A most confusing monster, but so wonderfully scary I just have to use it. I've used it once before, but just winged it on how this all should work. Now that the party might face several in a row, I have to figure out some consistent method for adjudicating this.

Scarab Sages

I'm in a position right now where money is tight. Please suspend all my subscriptions and ship any remaining items in my sidecart as soon as possible.

Scarab Sages

GeraintElberion wrote:
I don't usually play sub-opt. characters but my characters, once created, react to their experiences and environment, not what I, as a player, know about PathfinderRPG at level X.

Yes... I don't put down someones play style for playing up any of those elements (and in organized play, I'd go right for it on any and all of those, they're a part of the core assumptions), but I think the game is much more fun if you do not go down that road in the standard long-running campaign.

Thus... the observation that "of course, every 3rd level player has oil of magic weapon" just doesn't ring true for me. I find too many gaps there -- should we assume that item purchasing is wide-open and that the PC understands the way DR rules work? In most of my games, this isn't going to be 100% true (not because of this circumstance -- oil of magic weapon is no big deal), because I find the Ye Olde Magic Shoppe version of D&D to be less fun. For similar reasons, the Big Six approach to PC advancement doesn't interest me and I'd rather tweak other parts of the game to suit.

Back to the the OP, my observation -- the modules and APs can be really tough. It helps to being your A-game. It helps even more when the DM realizes that the players need a fair chance to know that they're on a thin margin of error and should be well prepared.

For example -- swarms. Totally fair to use, great thing to make parties have to play smart (and playing smart usually encourages good teamwork, and that pays off in plenty of RP ways). To be fair with them, I'd encourage direct inclusion in the module of alchemist fire or scrolls of flame sphere, or avenues of retreat appropriate to buy the party some time to organize anti-swarm tactics. Or you let them retreat and then (now armed with knowledge of the threat) return with the required gear. If the module doesn't include this, no big deal -- but the DM has to either see that possibility ahead of time or be able to shuffle on his feet to say "uh oh, this just got a lot tougher than it should have, time to cut them a small break this time and get them out of here, let's delay the swarm's advance and strongly hint they get out of here ASAP".

I think so long as you're prepared for some small adjustments to keep things true to the intended threat levels, the modules and APs run fine.

Scarab Sages

loaba wrote:


The game depends on having access to the right tools. Don't deny your players what they need to have a reasonable chance to succeed. And, while you're at it, save yourself some paperwork.

No, it doesn't. At all. The game hangs together on a set of assumptions, but changing one assumption (the role of magic) doesn't make it "not" D&D. It just means there is a natural ripple effect -- the nature of casters changes (you trim spell list, you limit their choices of spells, and you probably strictly enforce the existing limitations -- concentration checks, costs and requirements for components, etc. You probably change item feats to explain *why* magic items are more rare), magical monsters become less prevalent and intrinsically more dangerous, etc.

But it is perfectly possible. I could define a "low magic" game in... less than 3 pages of house rules? You mostly prune a few things, and then prune the other stuff that still sticks out. Adjust as needed as the game goes forward.

Anyway, to answer the actual OP rather than thread-s*~%... low magic to me means there are no Ye Olde Magic Shoppes. +1 weapons are rare and possibly non-existence -- the magic items that do exist are kept special so they are meaninful, and getting one is a major quest. Casters are rare, and the traditional casters may not even exist at all. I could live in a game with no wizards, clerics, or even druids -- and making the partial casters serve as the only casters wouldn't offend me (the archetype rules allow for plenty of easy variants to develop that mix partial casting with other abilities).

It's a different game. Could still be a fun game, by changing the assumptions and injecting a fresh perspective. I've certainly had plenty of fun in games like MERP where magic is implicitly pretty low.

Scarab Sages

Evil Lincoln wrote:
So I don't personally mind that the adventures as printed skew a little toward the tough end of the spectrum.

I usually find that Paizo takes the time to give at least some hints when fights are expected to be tough, and lets a GM know if maybe he wants to carefully monitor how things are going.

In most cases, simply chopping down AC and HPs by a smidge, dropping a feat or ability that helps lower save DCs by that 1-2 that makes a difference, etc -- those small adjustments for your parties composition or play style -- those make the difference between success/fun and failure / not so fun.

Scarab Sages

OK, I can speak for Carrion Hill as a GM and RoTRL as a player. Very mild spoilers on general plotlines below.

Carrion Hill:


The individual foes up until the end of the module are relatively easy... they could present a challenge to a 5th level party, but only if something astray. Chances are, with so many encounters leading up until the end, one of the secondary foe fights strays into "man, that sucked" territory. That's OK, about what you'd expect.

The BBEG could be horribly tough, but only if the party somehow fails utterly to handle every single previous encounter "correctly". Details are given on what is going on, and players really should understand the hook of why the previous encounters all matter. If somehow they do not, the GM pretty much has to see it coming and clue them in sooner or do something to help mitigate the threat the beast poses (giving the party a second chance to get clever). I certainly would not have ran my BBEG fight the same way if my players had failed to eliminate the cultists in the proper way, and I thought the module adequately warned the GM about the whole thing.



We've not had any TPKs, but yes... the end-boss fight of every module has killed someone. They are tough. The fights aren't too far over APL/CR, but simply having the BBEG sprung on us cold half the time has severely crippled us. Knowing ahead of time, for instance, that Foe X can fly / turn invisible, made a huge difference in attempt #2 on one of them (and our subsequent fight against her friend in the next module). I wish we had had more clues on the sort of threats we might be facing, but maybe we got those and completely missed them.

I don't know that you need to be a completely optimized party to do well in Paizo modules, but you do need to be a smart party. PFS adventures seem more tolerant of casual play, and I'd perhaps be more inclined to use them as intro adventures for new players than I would a Paizo module. In a group with at least 1-2 experienced gamers, though, the modules seem to work fine -- the concerned GM might just want to read the text carefully first, and make some notes on Plan B in case no one "gets it" and they start towards the path to Certain Doom. The modules always seem to have good NPCs suitable for dropping that one extra hint that gives them the best chance to play smart, though.

Scarab Sages

I had come to similar conclusions. Although I'm tempted to go with comparisons to constructs, I think Simulacrum would be a transformation spell if that were the case. This is an Illusion (Shadow) spell, so the best comparisons would appear to be with Shadow Conjuration. That doesn't seem a 100% reliable comparison though; Simulacrum just plays as too distinct in flavor, despite the mechanics overlap.

Actually, Simulacrum is just plain weird. They have a mind and will, even though they are obedient to the creator. In fact, a Simulacrum of someone with a 26 INT has... well, not a 26 INT (half the levels, after all, so presumably you'd have to pare that down if the assumption is some of that is from level bonuses -- the spell doesn't give strict guidelines), but is still going to be very smart. Are there limits on that "smartness"?

Do they have a soul? Certainly doesn't seem so at all, which could be quite tragic... I would hate it if I had an 18 INT and WIS, and realized from that that I was just a construct dominated by my creator's will and doomed to melt in a puddle some day.

Do any of these flavor-traits mean anything game-wise, though? Do they share any attributes with constructs?

- Do they eat, breathe, sleep? (They seem to, since they aren't immune to any attacks based on that)
- Are they affected by death attacks, level drain, etc?
- Are they "alive" for the sake of any spells that detect that sort of thing?

Maybe we're venturing far into house rules here, and that's fine (I can decide on all of these myself, and this discussion has certainly made me think). Still, an "Ecology of the Simulacrum" could prove interesting, couldn't it? Maybe I should submit something to KQ.

Scarab Sages

One of the bad guys in my game has gotten driven a bit... paranoid by my players, who have certainly done a great job of screwing up his plans at every turn and thumbing their nose in his face. Through a series of elaborate (and well-played) deceptions and misdirections, they've made him question the loyalty of his minions and allies.

So... he's decided the only person he can trust is himself. Or close copies thereof. He's high enough level to have access to Simulacrum.

So... what are the limits of this? Unlike Clone, there seem to be no inherent limits other than the GP cost and time. Given 6-12 months of the party not screwing with him (and it looks like there is a definite detente coming, where both sides lick their wounds and figure out what to do), I don't see why this guy couldn't have a palace full of illusionary "hims" running around. At the very least, paranoid as he is getting, he's going to send these dupes off as decoys or have them run all errands he doesn't have to personally oversee, giving the impression to the lower ranks that he's on top of everything while he lurks behind a locked door warded with everything he can think of to protect him.

Besides just testing the general limits here (both rules-wise and "what makes sense"-wise), a few questions. Many of them hinge on the fact that Simulacrum is an Illusion (shadow) spell. All I can find so far about that is this bit in the "Magic" section about this subset of illusion effects:

Shadow: A shadow spell creates something that is partially real from extradimensional energy. Such illusions can have real effects. Damage dealt by a shadow illusion is real.

1) Can a simulacrum be destroyed via Dispel Magic? I think it seems overwhelmingly that the answer is no, because the spell is instantaneous and Dispel Magic clarifies:

"The effect of a spell with an instantaneous duration can't be dispelled, because the magical effect is already over before the dispel magic can take effect."

Still, if a magic item can be suppressed, can a magic creature? The fact that it is an Illusion spell really gets me hung up, because it suggests that without ongoing magic, the simulacrum couldn't exist at all.

2) Going with the above, what, if anything happens inside an Antimagic Field? This particular bit sticks out as saying "AM Fields can do weird stuff":

incorporeal undead wink out if they enter an antimagic field.

3) Would Detect Magic detect them as magic creatures?

4) What would True Seeing do? My inclination is that True Seeing and similar effects would show an animated figure of snow and ice standing there (Frosty the Anti-Paladin?), since they see through the illusion to show what is really there.

Anyone have thoughts or advice? I realize a Simulacrum isn't very powerful, but their combat effectiveness isn't what would make them useful. Just setting the party off-balance by them having to ponder which of the Big Bad sightings is the real one to follow up on might be worth it to me plot-wise.

Scarab Sages

Hyrum Savage wrote:
(something reasonable)

Yes, yes. That is the way to go about it. Much more carrot, much less stick, and all very understandable. I'm so glad I've held off commenting prior to this, I knew flaming out wasn't going to help. I have, however, been very concerned with the direction things had been going, and the inklings of the inquisition coming were crawling up my spine. I think the VCs were just trying to carry out what they thought the intent was, but I was envisioning checkpoints at the doors of game stores and random table audits.

I think PFS is a great marketing drive for you guys; I want you to keep it as open and friendly as possible so it continues to serve that purpose. You've made your rules libre, and this makes the PFS game as open as possible while still serving the real purpose (of making sure the onus is on players to provide cites for Chapter 13 materials, so the GM doesn't have to own every supplement).


Scarab Sages

Kthulhu wrote:
Mistah Green wrote:

Blah Blah Blah

Ah, yes...

Totally off topic, of course can someone point me to the Ignore User Greasemonkey script that used to work these forums? I can't find it.

Scarab Sages

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
But... did the players have fun? If the answer is "yes," then my question is, "then who cares if the characters faced challenges that weren't risky?"

Oh, hell yeah. Actually, I tend to think that they are going to have to figure out very clever ways to rack up the body count if that is their goal, so it might be more fun.

I mean, I'm easily bored myself, so as a GM if they insisted on giving this a go, I'd pretty much have to figure out a way to spice it up and keep it from being a grind. After they hit the mid-point of the Great Orc Genocide, at the very least the next few encounters are going to see the Orcs try something new, like herding kobolds in front of them to absorb AoEs first, or catapulting goblins wearing alchemical fire vests. Flavorful encounters can be just as fun as deadly encounters!

Scarab Sages

Blueluck wrote:

I think it's much more interesting for characters to have a few very special items than a laundry list. Excalibur wouldn't be so fascinating if King Arthur had also been carrying around four magic knives, three magic clothes, two magic rings, and a blasted magic partridge in a blasted magic pear tree!

This. I tend towards this approach myself, for precisely the same reasons; I just think the "here is my shopping list, and I must have this list of things in order to be effective" approach just takes me out of the story and reduces the immersive fun I could be having. A character should not be his gear, and if he does at all define himself through it, it should be 1-2 items that really take on a life of their own.

I like your ideas on how to mechanically make this work too. I tend to integrate similar "power ups" on items myself, explaining that as characters level they naturally meld better with the magics within their items and learn new ways to utilize them.

One of the best recent memories I have in gaming was when my paladin got his fourth or fifth x4 crit while smiting with the +1 Pick I found in one of our first modules (and that I just seemed to crit with all the darn time, so it seemed "lucky" to me). My GM decreed that my goddess smiled upon me, and as I hit the creature with the massive (100+ damage) killing blow, lightning from the sky crashed into my weapon and made it... +2!

Mechanically, big deal -- another +1. But circumstantially? My character will never ever trade this thing in. We gave it a name, and my character is now devoting his spare time to writing an epic treatise on the pick as both a weapon and a means of spiritual insight. Details matter way more than maxing out game bonuses.

Scarab Sages

DeathQuaker wrote:
You put a "naked" party of four level 15 characters--make them as optimized as you can, 20 point buy or good results from 4d6 drop lowest--versus a CR 15 dragon, and statistically, that CR 15 dragon is more likely to be able to squash...

OK, so it's a CR 18 Dragon now. I can deal with that.

I mean, I'll agree that there are gaps magic items fill right now. I just don't agree that if you reduce the ubiquity of that filler, the result is an unplayable game. In fact, I think it is a much more fulfilling game, because items pulled from the book as De rigueur for your level seems far too vanilla. If you're statted up with all the gear every other character of your level and type in every other campaign has, what is the fun in that?

I'll agree that if you decide to pull away from the reliance on magic items, you inherit some other issues. As a GM, I tend to run with a mix of the following:

  • I tend towards smaller numbers of more interesting items. The fighter-types tend to be much more likely to get armor or weapons with smaller enhancement bonuses but with the addition of a special ability. I believe they deserve items with some personality and some differentiating factor. To fill in gaps in the party, I then have the more standard +1/+2 weapons and armor pop up often enough to have everyone get something along those lines as they level up.

  • My general rule of thumb is that everyone has some magic weapon and some protective gear fairly early on, although maybe the wizard doesn't get his +1 dagger until later in game; he'll deal with it. Then I sprinkle in the extras -- wands for the wizards (so long as they don't start needing a bandoleer for them), scrolls for the clerics, plenty of potions, and a mix of rings, cloaks, and other wondrous things so everyone has 1-2 special things. On average, 2-3 permanent items per person in the party, and consumables to a reasonable degree. One of those permanent items tends to be fairly potent and does become part of the character's persona -- but that might be the hat of disguise for the rogue, not the +6 Dex stat booster.

  • I encourage the party to work as a team. Buff spells and abilities can help fill in the need for bigger bonuses in appropriate combats. This isn't a big deal; I mostly play with the same people I've played with for 25 years, so players and characters tend to mesh well.

  • I do tend to evaluate encounters as more like 1-2 CR higher once the game gets to the levels cited above. That sort of evaluation can be pretty dependent on specifics of the party and the threat, of course. A party full of people with evasion might not be as hard-pressed when they fail Reflex saves against a threat, and if they also have a cleric with Healing domain, they bounce back quicker too.

I just so incredibly loathe the Christmas Tree effect, I'm more than willing to work around the gaps and work with my players to have a game that doesn't need it in order to work. It takes adjustments as you go along, but by the time I hit those problem areas, I know my party well enough to anticipate and plan around them.

Scarab Sages

Roman wrote:

That said, on the actual topic of the relative versus fixed XP sytems, the difference in potential abuse of low-level enemies is not much of a problem in either. The experience needed to gain higher levels increases much faster in the fixed XP system, so killing low level enemies might net some experience points, but the number is relatively insignificant compared to the number one must gain to achieve a new level.

Yes, on-topic, this is my POV also. I can't imagine my players bothering to go slay easy "prey", it is just too tedious.

I don't think I'd need to actively discourage such ideas -- if they wanted to seek out a 1st level adventure hook, I guess they could do that, but I'm not sure if I'd just shrug and say "OK, mark 1 week off on the calendar, and you kill a bunch of orcs" or if I'd make them tediously play out the entire slaughter and make sure it was really boring. Either way, the un-fun nature of it seems discouraging enough.

Scarab Sages

jreyst wrote:
I've just told my players that "you will gain a level every 4th session, from now to eternity"

This is essentially what I do too. I still award XPs, but have a standard per session award specifically designed to average giving them a level every 3-4 sessions. So, obviously, the number goes up over time -- I pick it to always be just slightly below that 1/3 of the way to next level figure, giving me leeway for bonus awards when they do really cool stuff.

Other than that, I don't give XP much thought at all.

Scarab Sages

I just... don't do it. Stat boosters are rare items, not expected items. Magic weapons and armor come along as appropriate, but they tend to be somewhat sparse too (although everyone in my current game had a magic weapon by 4th level or so, and I think they all have magic armor or the equivalent now at 7th level). Wands tend to be plentiful, since I find those are self-limiting and seem very much "in genre" to me.

I simply reject the idea that the game is based around this stuff. Pish-posh, utter BS. If you don't want it, you don't need to have it -- the game can adjust just fine if this is the way it is across the board. If the end result is that some adversaries are much harder than their standard CR would say, I can live with that. So far, looks like my players can too (because we like our worlds to seem more cinematic and less like "OK, now I'm going to go buy a +1 sword; you guys need anything from Joe's Magic Emporium?").

Scarab Sages

Zark wrote:
"When you use the Whirlwind Attack feat, you also forfeit any bonus or extra attacks granted by other feats, spells, or abilities."

That language might be hard to parse, but aren't the words "bonus and extra" both modifying the word "attacks"? I mean, that's redundant and should just use one adjective or the other, but the intent was never to say "you don't get any bonuses of any kind", it was to say "one attack, one attack only" -- the clear intent of the feat.

I've never saw that as unclear, although I'd say the language could have been more direct. Just like Vital Strike -- all along, it should have said "This is a standard action, and cannot be combine with anything else that is a standard action. Just roll the weapon damage dice again, that's it".

Scarab Sages

0gre wrote:
While I agree that simplification is a great goal the intro set absolutely must be compatible with the core game.

Well, perhaps. I really support any simplification that seamlessly removes or changes elements that:

a) You don't miss them being there; they were truly additive (I'll keep coming back to criticals as an examples)
b) Get added back in just as seamlessly once you get the Core Rules.
c) Whatever gets changed/simplified (things that we didn't drop entirely but included in some simpler form) can be explained in a conversion guide of no more than 4 pages, maximum. This is where I can accommodate rules that aren't "compatible" in the strictest sense, but where the differences aren't meaningful enough to care about.

So, you should be able to play using the intro set, and then when you move to the Core, you just get more options. Combat options we omitted before get introduced (flanking, AoOs, whatever). Spell lists get expanded. Wizard specializations get introduced. Rogue talent lists are expanded, etc.

Scarab Sages

Chopping down the weapon list would be great. For maximum fun, you can certainly have things like:

Dagger (knife, dirk, shiv, short sword): 1d4, Light Weapon
Sword (scimitar, rapier, falcion): 1d8
2H Sword (claymore, katana): 1d10, 2 Handed Weapon

I mean, you miss pretty much zero things that matter. Oh dear, a short sword now might do 1 point less on average. *twirls finger*.

I remember having just as much fun in games like Middle Earth Role Playing when we had a list of weapons that was pretty short. No reason to have a list of weapons that takes more than 3/4 of a page. Same with armor -- 2 light armors, 2 mediums, 1 heavy.

I favor a view that starts with a blank book and says "OK, what absolutely must be in here to call this a Pathfinder game?". Then you bring in each piece, carefully asking if it has to be there. Decide right from the start that you're going to throw out way more than you keep.

Some of this gets easier with a level cap -- you won't find BABs outracing AC options in our limited system if you never get much past 5th level.

Scarab Sages

Wolfthulhu wrote:
You want all the concepts included, but don't need every single option.

You might not even need that. If we open up our minds and consider what could be cut and still leave a distinctly "Pathfinder" game, that helps narrow the focus.

If we had no skills, what would suffer? Are they too tied into every other part of the system?

Could disappear and no one would really notice. We did without them for 25 years. Or you keep them, but simplify resolution and trim down things that need clarifying -- a simple rule that says "any roll of a 20 that still hits the AC targeted results in maximum damage" would work.

I would go through the spell list like a madman, cutting out 40-50% of them. Any spell that relies on tedious mechanics (Black Tentacles, I'm looking at you).

Combat Maneuvers?
Bye-bye! Grapple, been nice knowing you! Reduce it down to one maneuver at most, and describe a simple bulleted list of things that you can do with a successful check, like "Foe drops weapon" and "Foe moves back 5 feet in the direction of your choosing".

The more I write this stuff, I more I want to just do this sort of stuff in my home game. I love the options Pathfinder has, but often I wonder if they are just shiny things that are distracting from the fun we would be having if we got the rules more out of the way and spent more time playing our roles.

Scarab Sages

MisterSlanky wrote:
Adding rules is one thing, but providing any kind of "alternate" rules only will cause confusion once they switch over to Core Pathfinder.

I don't think this is always true. If you simplify some elements (that is, the ones you don't omit entirely -- for example, criticals aren't core to the game IMHO), you can present them as "quick play" versions of the full rules. They resolve easier, but when you get to see the full rules, all you see is "oh, now my rogue can sneak attack people if they have this new 'flanked' condition that the Basic rules didn't have, not just when he's directly behind them! Awesome, guys, let's flank people a lot!".

I see it as being quite possible to trim some of the complexity out without too much drift from lite to full. I'd prefer the approach that just completely cuts out anything too complex, but some things are more amenable to the "rules light" approach.

Scarab Sages

My general ideas:

1) Most rules absolutely in line with the "full" rules -- nothing changes about the rules themselves as you move from intro to "full", you just learn more rules. Any changes made are a "slimming down" of a particular rule to make resolution of it easier (see below)

2) Trim the feat list down considerably. Fewer options, but keep the function of the feats the same. Power Attack, for example -- as it is written now, it works fine and I can explain it to anyone easily. In fact, if the intro rules never advanced people beyond 3rd level, Power Attack is dead simple to explain -- it's always -1 to hit, and +1-3 to damage depending on the type of weapon.

3) No need to limit race choices -- none of the races are inherently hard to "get" or run. If you had to trim down for space, the iconic choices to me remain human, elf, dwarf, halfling (good enough for the Red Box, good enough for me)

4) Limited class choices and options. I myself would throw out monk, paladin, druid, sorceror, and barbarian entirely. Red Box standards, baby -- fighter, rogue, wizard, cleric.

Specifics per class:

  • Fighter -- OK as is
  • Rogue -- Simplify rules on when you get the sneak dice. OK if you just reverted to "you have to be behind him or surprise him", that didn't hurt us in the first 20+ years of gaming. Trim down talent list severely; if there's a level cap, you're only going to get to pick 2-3 of them at most anyway
  • Wizard -- Mostly OK, but consider either removing arcane focus entirely or making it be a single thing. I'd suggest going with item focus only; familiars have too many bonuses/penalties that are circumstantial. If you just told every wizard "you need this thing to cast spells, just like the cleric needs his holy symbol. Once a day, you can cast a bonus spell with it", that's dead simple.
  • Cleric -- No gods? Just general beliefs and a really reduced choice of domains (remove the ones that have hard-to-explain abilities)? At the very least... fewer domains. Saves space, decreases complexity, doesn't overwhelm people with too many options to weigh

5) Same thing with everything else -- the same stuff, just less of it. Omit the things that introduce complicated subjects. So (for example), no monsters with grab+constrict (because grappling still is way complex). Way fewer spells and magic items.

6) Combat -- I'd chop out many of the factors.

  • Criticals -- Could be made into "you do maximum damage", omitting confirm rolls entirely -- or you just remove criticals completely, is that a big deal?

  • Combat manuevers -- don't get me started on this. Grappling is still way crazy, and let me tell you... everyone who is new to the game instantly wants to tackle the bad guys. They never ever understand when I try to explain how it works... because it doesn't. Don't take it as an insult, though -- every RPG has horrible grappling rules. Your chance to fix this.

  • Concealment -- simplify down to just an AC bonus, no % misses.

Stuff like that. Ruthlessly cut down options.

7) Elements I'd expect in the box:

  • Players book
  • DMs book (which includes the monster stats)
  • Tokens; just a variety of medium, large, huge chits for combat. Art quality can be poor on these. Actual miniatures would just be icing on the cake. I played with pennies with masking tape on them for numbers for years.
  • Several pre-made maps. Must be awesome, because newbie GMs won't all want to draw their own
  • Blank grid paper for making your own maps, because eventually every GM will want to draw their own.

8) Beyond the above -- The product must have an absolutely awesome intro adventure suitable for levels 1-3. Spend most of the time on this! Make it very simple to GM it -- tons of helper text for the GM, 2-3 pages just devoted to "lets see how our group of 4 players (one for each class, and each a different race!) plus the GM play through these encounters", etc. If the adventure kicks ass, people will be motivated to figure out how to play. You need your "Keep on the Borderlands" and Caves of Chaos.

I think, properly done, your approach can really strip the game down to what matters. Toss out any preconceptions about what is needed, and decide on an "opt-in" approach -- if a rule/class/spell/feat/race is there, it's because you put it there and someone made the good argument that it's iconic and vital to the game. These don't have to be "kiddie" rules (although I'd love them to be suitable for a younger audience), they just have to be simpler rules. Most of the fun of gaming occurs way outside the rules -- help the players to get the rules out of the way as much as possible by making the rules easy!

Scarab Sages

Matthew Morris wrote:
#1 Intellect Devourer Battle Armour!

One of my players actually has two intellect devourer corpses in jars in his laboratory (I planted them in Carrion Hill as set-dressing). I might have him find one of the jars has gone missing, and his laboratory is in shambles. Would be a fun little side-trek :-).

Scarab Sages

The Admiral Jose Monkamuck wrote:
Ninjaiguana wrote:

I don't present it as it appears in the stat block. If it has DR 10/Silver I say something like, you've heard that it is vulnerable to silver.

Ditto. I don't want to get into game mechanics and break the immersion, but something that makes a difference in terms of what matters, game-wise, is what I think the knowledge skill should be worth. I tend to be generous enough with the skill in general that the times when I'm stingy and cautious with giving info don't make the players irate -- they understand that sometimes you need to hold back some mystery in order to make things fun. Just setting the DC high for rare creatures gives the perfect game mechanic reason why they might not get much.

Scarab Sages

For instance, all those miniatures... feel free to move them to another order, to be sent (whenever). I'm visualizing you guys searching through the warehouse for a bajillion little pieces of plastic and then saying "Ah, forget this... where's an order that requires less *walking*???". :-D

Scarab Sages

My order containing the APG is still not sent, which I'm sure is my problem. I've got a bunch of knick-knacks in there that I absolutely do not need right away, and I'm sure that is holding up this vital order (forget the physical books, I need that darn PDF).

I'm obviously screwing myself over on the subscriber bonus of getting the PDF early, because... I never do. Advice on how to better structure orders would be welcome.

Let me know what could be done to free this order up; if you need to split it up somehow, that's fine. :-(

Scarab Sages

Thanks for the clarification, Vic, and thanks for fixing up my cart Cosmo. As usual, stellar customer service.

Scarab Sages

My order last month got a bit messed with because of discontinued / pending items from KenzerCo, and it looks like maybe that might happen again this month?

I see this order also has some Bundles of Trouble and KoDT issues; the BoT's are listed as discontinued. If this is holding up the order, I'd prefer to put those off to the side (if they will eventually be in stock) or just cancel them entirely. To be clear, I really do want these items (I love me some KoDT!), but I just also want to make sure I'm not getting my order put on some dusty shelf in the warehouse and insuring that I get my AP volume sometime in December.

I for sure don't want to bungle up my APG shipment through something like this, so whatever helps smooth the process, let me know my options.

Scarab Sages

Slime wrote:
Some interesting options are to use it on wands, holy symbols, spell components, etc. as a Ready action and/or AoO.

Mage Hand also works for most weapons, as they fall under the 5lb limit; the sorcerer in my party uses it all the time. Most importantly, ye olde longsword weighs just 4 lbs. So, even better -- sync up actions, let your buddy disarm the foe, and then you yank the weapon 15' away via Mage Hand.

If you're truly evil, you ready an action to do that just as the foe is using his move action to pick the thing up. :-D

Scarab Sages

knightofstyx wrote:
Increasing spell level by 4 slots, Quicken Spell had better override all others, lol.

I concur. There's no other function for Quicken Spell; it makes the casting a swift action. It doesn't say "it makes it quicker", like moving it down on some hierarchy of actions, it makes it swift.

I think the language quoted above on how sorcerer metamagic works is meant to say that; it says "spells modified by the Quicken Spell metamagic feat, which can be cast as normal using the feat". Normal for Quicken Spell == swift.

So, Empowered + Quickened = swift action, 50% increase. And a very high level spell use required on the part of the sorcerer. Hope that Magic Missile was worth it!

Scarab Sages

Everyone has heard the story of the blues player who met the devil at the crossroads and sold his soul for supernatural skills at his art, or The Devil who challenged Johnny to a fiddlin' contest.

Being that one of the main PCs in my current campaign is a bard, I'd love to set up a rival/threat to him by having an infernal bard of legendary skills.

Possible ideas:

1) Make him an actual fiend, with bard levels. This is more of the "Devil Went Down to Georgia" variation.

2) Somehow mold an infernal bloodline onto the bard? I'm wondering if there is some reasonable trade-off of abilities that could be dropped to acquire a bloodline.

3) Multi-classed bard/sorcerer? Interestingly enough, the PC in question actually is one of these. It's an interesting build... seemingly quite non-optimal, but he does OK at it.

I mostly want to figure this out for the Rule of Cool factor to it. Confronting such an adversary could make an interesting side-quest in between larger plot arcs, or maybe develop into a plot arc of its own.

Scarab Sages

Ramarren wrote:
I note that most of the comparisons here are "+1HP vs Additional Spell" most of you consider +1 HP to be a no brainer over +1 Skill point?

Not a no-brainer, but I'd say the HP option is far more attractive in most cases. However..., I expect the APG to also introduce attractive options for skill use that may make it more compelling to have a wider range of skills available or max out existing skills.

I'm not at all worried about the previewed options. I'm OK with some choices being more attractive, and I'm also not worried about choosing the sub-optimal picks if they make more sense for a character. The game has always been this way, hasn't it?

Scarab Sages

So, let's look at this objectively for a minute.

I think as things stand right now, for most characters, one FC bonus option is clearly superior over another already. Between PFS and DM'ing, I've designed a whole lot of characters in the last year. Very few of those choose a mix of bonuses -- I'm either picking the skill point or HP, all-in. At most, an 80/20 split.

This usually follows (for me at least) class selections. I'm less likely to take skill points with a paladin or fighter -- they already are not going to be the skill-focused characters, a skill point here or there won't help much. Upping my hit points just makes me better in the area I'm already focused on. In fact, I'd argue that the +1 HP is already the far better option in almost all cases.

So... if, once the APG is out, there emerges a FC bonus that stands out as a typical "best choice" for some common situations (human sorcerer? Pick the extra spell most of the time), is that so bad? I'm not sure it alters the game that much.

So the argument that this becomes the dominant FC choice seems like a small matter at worst. Whether or not this unbalances the sorcerer as a class... I don't think that seems likely. Certainly, we already know other classes will get shiny things too. I already think extra spell picks for spontaneous casters aren't a bad option to offer. Bloodlines already do this for sorcerers, and in my game I'm considering adding more bonus spells via bloodlines (those would at least be spells I picked rather than the player cherry-picking the best options).

Scarab Sages

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Getting an ulcer

Walk away for a while, man. Don't let a few people over-reacting distract you. I think this preview is brilliant for its purpose -- it sure has people excited, right? I think most of us realize that we'll see the bigger picture as more previews come in.

Scarab Sages

Marc Radle wrote:
Cartigan wrote:

It's starting to appear that Paizo skipped right over Complete Warrior and went right to Book of Nine Swords.
No offence but ... you've come to that conclusion based on this one little preview?

This is why gamers can't have nice stuff.

Scarab Sages

Just as another point of possible interest, the "Red Eye of Azathoth" Open Design project considered another possible system -- Pathfinder rules, NPC classes only. So you'd use (basically) Commoner, Warrior and Expert in a modern setting -- closely corresponding to Modern D20s archetypes of Strong, Skilled, etc. I may give that a try myself when I get the end product (mostly because my wife is very interested in playing, and now that she knows Pathfinder pretty well, it may help to stick with something familiar in terms of a rules system).

Obviously, though, this would require a lot of homebrew work, so YMMV.

Scarab Sages

Lisa said to post a message if anyone's subscription orders hadn't shipped yet with the GMG. Mine has not, to my enormous sorrows. I can be patient with the physical materials, but I really want my PDF :-).

Order 1426755 has my subscription items for June; I'm sure it's gone to the bottom of the stack because it also has some unusual items combined with it for shipping. I just want to be sure it didn't get entirely missed.

Scarab Sages

I just got done running this module for a lvl 6 group with high stats (25 point buy) and some minions that probably make them more like APL 7 in terms of challenges that they can take on.

What I'd suggest is some of the following:

1) Add more minions overall. You can easily give all of the Keepers more minions to chew away at the party:

* Crove already has his orderlies; make them full fighters (that's a quick and easy conversion) and increase their numbers. If you make them lvl 4 fighters and set them up to maximize their tactics (Improved Trip could be very useful to them), they can make the asylum encounter more challenging without being crazy.
* Myre has his zombies; if you slightly increase the size of his factory you could fit more zombies on the map without crowding, and maximize the "slippery floor" factor. If you give the zombies some ability to push people into the cockroach pits, that will increase the challenge. If you could make some rationale for advancing the zombies further, that will up the challenge even more (even just a few more HD would make a big difference in terms of them lasting longer).
* Hyve doesn't have any minions, but you could easily add some hired help on the top level of his church and/or guarding him in his lab. You could use some dark creepers for this, or add some "tame" violet fungi plants in his lab level. The poison effects can help slow the party down, or at least make them use resources for restorations and such.

2) Give every Keeper 2-3 more levels, of course. You can also make sure to give the wizards arcane bonded items of maximum use; that buffs them up without adding another item the party can use after killing the guy (a dirty tactic, but useful nonetheless). I gave Hyve more poisons and alchemical items to use against the party.

3) Crove isn't all that great as a mystic theurge; I made him a summoner with a very Lovecraftian eidolon. Even if you don't buff him that much, I'd strongly suggest you carefully choose his spells for maximum usefulness, even to the point of min-maxing against your parties strengths (chalk that up to his high INT and WIS; he's supposed to be the badass among the Keepers).

4) Finally... the spawn.

My group of lvl 6 characters had a hard fight against the spawn, but they did OK against it overall. It was just about right as the "final boss". To increase its threat level, I would suggest you go the route of adding hit dice and applying the advanced template to it. I wouldn't increase it to Huge, since it already has a huge CMB for grappling and it might be too tough if you piled that on much more. This creature should be able to grab pretty much anyone who gets close and drain the hell out of them -- use that threat to make people have to devise tactics to escape!

I think using Advanced (+1 CR) and adding 2 more HD to the spawn should make it pretty challenging. It needs more HPs to increase longevity of its threatening attacks, and a little bit of extra CMB/CMD to keep the grapples nasty is about right.

Scarab Sages

Count me in for a definite pre-order. I love the Advanced Bestiary, although I don't get to use most of the templates, other than the dread ___ ones that Paizo also seems to love using.

Scarab Sages

CincoDeMayonnaise wrote:

The orcs with crossbows and hobgoblin fighters (as written) couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.

To be a decent challenge for a 4th level party of 6 characters with a 25 point buy, you need a CR 6 encounter (APL = 4, add 1 to the APL for being a larger group, and I'd safely add another 1 for the higher stats).

That would be an XP "budget" of 2400 xp. If I were going to spend it on a mix of orcs and hobgoblins (which is, by the way, kind of strange -- conflicting cultural alignments, you know; but whatever), I'd probably come up with something like this:

4 Orcs = CR 3, 800 xps
4 Hobgoblins = CR 4, 1200 xps
1 Hobgoblin commander (Add another level of fighter) = CR 1, 400 xps

If that encounter didn't have at least 9 opponents, it wasn't even an average encounter for these guys. To be challenging, it would have to have something like 3 more of those commanders.

(Primarily calculating this from the notes on encounter design:

If the module didn't have at least that level of challenge, I wouldn't be surprised at all that players are walking over it -- the original group of 9 is a completely average encounter meant primarily to wear them down!

To help adapt previous materials quickly, the easiest path I'd take would be to do some very small tweaks on the fly -- just give the average monster +1-2 hps/HD, and a blanket +2 attack and damage on whatever attack seems to be their primary mode. For major foes, I'd probably hand-tweak them to suit, saving my prep time for the things that make the most difference in the adventure.

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