Lucky Ben Willhuff

MorpheusAlpha's page

Organized Play Member. 12 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


KnightErrantJR wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
- I'd like to hear how you and your players like the new skill system, i.e. are there enough points? Does the "+3 to all class skills" rule affect how they invest their points? And so on.

We playtested the Alpha 1 as soon as it came out, and there were about 50/50 split on that system, and those that liked it kind of liked it, those that hated it, really, really hated it.

So far when it comes to the current skill system, there haven't been many complaints, although they have noted that they can't diversify quite as much at 1st level as they could. The fighter's player still isn't thrilled with his skill selection.

I've been allowing them to use WOTC material with approval, so the rogue got Open Minded, and that seems to be a bit out of whack under the new system, since it gives you five skill points and if you spend them on class skills, one feat gives you four ranks in four skills, but again, I'm thinking this will even out a bit at higher levels.

Open minded is kind of an issue in that it is in the Psionic SRD, so its not really off limits for PFRPG either.

I've got two half-orcs in my other game, though they took the class for the strength bonus (and because one player wanted to play a "thug" rogue instead of a slick one). In that game I've got a halfling cleric, in part because the player wanted the charisma bonus to boost his channel energy uses per day.

I've run into the limited skills at first level issue too, and my playtest group and I have come up with a new rule that we're going to playtest as well:

At their beginning character level, every character will get 4 apprenticeship skill points that can be spent only on his or her starting class skills. These apprenticeship skill points cannot be modified by any race or attribute. The character will also get the starting skill points as usual for their class to place anywhere they like.

It seems silly to us that characters with years of experiences before becoming adventurers might start with just one skill. As I joked during our aftergame conversation, finishing one's apprenticeship wearing a t-shirt that said "I spent four years laboring under the high cleric Osgood of the Dove, and all I got was one rank in Craft:Alchemy which I used to screenprint this lousy t-shirt" seems underwhelming. :-p

I'm going to try this again here, cos I get no reply/comment elsewhere. :-p

Lingustics I cannot understand how Forgery got rolled into Linguistics. Knowing more than one language does not improve one's skill at forgery, it just aids in forging documents in more than one language. If Forgery is going to be rolled into a separate skill, it should be rolled into Bluff because it doesn't matter how good your documents are if you lack the ability to back them up with behavior and chutzpah.

Perform I have always treated this like Speak Language in 3.5. For every two ranks one buys in Perform, one can choose to become skilled at another form of expression. Lute at rank 1, Singing at rank 3, Ballroom Dance at rank 5, Oratory at rank 7, and so on. My logic for this is that many of the musically skilled people I know became multi-instrumentalists as they learned. It makes sense that the more skilled one gets in performance, the more one can diversify. I did also have a rule that the more one diversified, the more one's skills were diluted. For each learned form of expression past the first, the character's overall Perform skill checks were made at -1, so a character with 3 different aspects of Perform would have an overall -2 modifier on their Perform skill checks.

Skill Points at First Level As I have posted in my playtest report Alpha Crew the players and I discussed many things about the game after our first session. One complaint was that characters with years of experiences before becoming adventurers might start with just one skill, which did seem unfair.* After the discussion, we agreed to test the following rule:

At their beginning character level, every character will get 4 apprenticeship skill points that can be spent only on his or her starting class skills. These apprenticeship skill points cannot be modified by any race or attribute. The character will also get the starting skill points as usual for their class to place anywhere they like.

Please let me know your thoughts and opinions on these. I appreciate all input.

*Finishing one's apprenticeship wearing a t-shirt that said "I spent four years laboring under the high cleric Osgood of the Dove, and all I got was one rank in Craft:Alchemy which I used to screenprint this lousy t-shirt" seems underwhelming. What the heck did I do for four years? At least give me a rank in chamber pot emptying! :-p

It occurs to me that I have not specifically mentioned that the party was going through Pazio's D0 Game Mastery Module: Hollow's Last Hope. Sorry for the oversight.

After my recent first playtesting for the group I call Alpha Crew, we sat around and discussed what we liked and what we thought should be changed about Pathfinder. Now all four of my players have been playing various RPGs for at least 15 years, and they all have dome some time behind the screen as a GM too, so there was a lot of experience here.

One of Mark's characters was a Gnome Cleric who had an 8 Int, and it frustrated Mark to no end that he had all of one skill (choosing Knowledge: Religion) that his character was familiar with. We discussed this, and came to an idea that we will playtest to see how well we like it. I wanted to post it here to get the thoughts and opinions of others as well.

Here is the rationale and the rule. A first level starting character has spent their adolescence learning a trade, represented by a character class. They have more than likely been learning the basics of their class for at least a couple of years, and we think that first level skills should reflect this. Therefore we decided on the following rule:

At his or her first character level, every character will have four skill points to distribute among their class skills only. These skill points are not modified by racial or attribute modifiers. These represent the skills they have picked up during their training and apprenticeship. A first level character will also gain the standard number of skill points listed for their class that can be applied wherever the character desires.

For example, Mark makes a Gnome Cleric character with an 8 Intelligence. At first level, Kirkee the Gnome has 4 skill points for class skills, and 1 skill point that can be applied anywhere. Mark decides that Kirkee will spend his points for Knowledge: Religion, Knowledge: Arcana, Craft: Gemcutting, and Heal. With his one class skill point he buys a rank in Perception.

We have also discussed whether the starting points should be four or two. We'll test it out and see what we think. Please consider this and post any thoughts or ideas you have about it as well. Thanks!

And for those who may be interested, the first play test session for Alpha Crew can be found here: Alpha Crew

In this campaign, instead of paying taxes to the king, adventurers pledge their services for several months out of the year to the king or his representatives as expert troubleshooters or general militia, depending on what is needed most. I decided on this as a way of giving characters a common experience and meeting place, and avoiding the cliche deus ex machina introductions in seedy taverns. It also helps as a way of introducing plot hooks when needed. Therefore, it is decided that both Alpha and Omega Crews have worked together before in the service of the king, and found that they enjoyed working together. That decided, the crew is sent off to the small village of Falcon's Hollow to see how things are. It is quickly obvious that things are not well, and the party is prevailed upon as servants of the Crown to do all they can to help. They agree, and proceed.

The opening scenes of the game proceed fairly quickly along the lines suggested in the module. Zire is all about getting paid for his "considerable" aid, and though this irritates everyone in the party but the rogue, it works out okay. They get the information about the logging camp and set off to find their contact there. Poor Diplomacy rolls mean that a lot of time is wasted and bribes must be paid, but finally they are told where their contact is and meet him. Milon reacts well to them and sketches out a map of where they may need to hunt. Between Eldorath the Ranger and Zire the Wizard, checks are successfully made to know where these places are with more accuracy, and the party heads out.

DM note: The rolls for Diplomacy were horrible, with a 5 being the highest. The Knowledge: Geography and Knowledge: Nature rolls more than made up for it though, with Eldorath knowing where two locations were, and Zire the third.

Before bedding down for the night, the party wants to get near the lake, and when they do they meet the first planned encounter with a hobgoblin huntsman warrior and his two razorcrows (hawks). The battle is fierce and both Windamere and Kirkee are injured in the melee, but Kirkee uses spontaneous casting to get them both healed up before settling down for the night. Zire and Holo search for any treasure the hobgoblin might have had, but come away disappointed. Eldorath rescues the bait (a fox) from the hobgoblin's trap with Windamere's help, and then Eldorath befriends the fox and cares for it, arguing that it is unfair to leave it to face predators with the unfair disadvantages that the hunter gave it. No one argues, Eldorath makes a Heal check for the fox, and the party sets up watches for the night.

DM note: The first day passes, and I rolled a 2 on the d4, meaning 2 citizens died. Zire's direct damage spells, Magic Missile and Burning Hands, helped in the fight as he scorched the Razorcrows after other players had hurt them with fired crossbow bolts. Windamere was on the wrong side of a crit from the hobgoblin, while one of the Razorcrows did damage to Kirkee. The battle was standard and went well. Gail enjoys role play even more than the others, and very much played the role of nurturing ranger to the injured fox, going as far as to get a "Vacation Chthulu" plushie off of the shelf and tend and cuddle it as if it were the fox, which was both amusing and slightly disturbing. :-p

Morning comes and the party rises, ready to start their day. The wizards and the cleric choose their spells while Eldorath creates a sling to carry the fox in, and then the party sets off for the oldest tree in the forest. There are no dangerous encounters during the day, and with the ranger scouting and setting the pace, the party finds the oldest tree in good order. Holo the Rogue notices the tatzlwyrm before it rushes to the attack, but the shouted warning does not come in time to prevent the surprise attack. The tatzlwyrm makes some good attacks and hurts both Eldorath and Windamere before it is hurt badly enough to disengage and run. It does not make it far, as two of the three crossbow bolts fired at its back hit and kill it. As Kirkee tends to both Windamere and Eldorath, Ivyreen and Zire scout for and locate the component needed for the cure, and after searching and finding no treasure, Holo decides that if she is at the oldest tree in the forest, she's darn well going to climb it and tie a banner torn off of her cloak to the topmost branch to show that she was there. In doing so, she locates the bodies of the three hunters and, after tying her banner to the top of the tree, she yells a warning and drops the bodies to the ground as her friends scatter. Kirkee says prayers over their bodies, and Windamere, Eldorath, and Holo search for stones to make a quick cairn. Ivyreen hides the hunters' equipment for later retrieval and return to families (Zire protesting, as typical), and the party moves on.

DM note: This battle was a bit hairy, mainly due to dice failures. Everybody except for Carl changed out d20s midbattle. With the new dice, things went better and the party won out thanks to liberal use of 'aid other' from Kirkee the swish machine and Holo who flanked the wyrmling. Al was called 'Jeff' for the rest of the day (after Jeff Dunham the comedian/ventriloquist) since he amused us all when he roleplayed the argument between Windamere the lawful knight and Zire the greedy mage who had different ideas about what to do with the hunters' corpses and treasure.

Continuing, the party makes a forced march toward the hag's hut, reaching there around sunset. The creepiness makes them edgy at first, but after scouting around inside and out, they feel that this place is relatively safe. As they draw this conclusion and start searching, the cauldron animates and starts trying to eat them. Unfortunately, Ivyreen the mage is closest to it as it animates, and with one powerful "bite" it leaves her unconscious and bleeding on the floor. Windamere and Eldorath engage the clunky monstrosity with Holo and Kirkee, while Zire attempts to get Ivyreen out of the way of the melee. After a protracted battle, and several nasty "bites" the cauldron is shattered and the party can search the hut while Kirkee tends to their wounds. Zire finds the component as well as a valuable bag, and the party decides to rest for the night. But not inside the hut.

DM note: I had misread or misremembered the scale of the map, so the party made better time than they maybe should have. Another d4 roll indicated that 3 more villagers died during the night, making five total. The battle was more difficult, because with their 10 strengths, Holo could only damage the cauldron on a roll of 6 for damage, and Kirkee couldn't hurt it at all with his light mace. Once again they fell back on the 'aid other' ability to help the fighters out. This marked the first use of the turning power as a area of affect bandaid. Opinions had been mixed about whether or not it was a good thing, but there were few complaints when Kirkee stepped back out of combat and used it to heal the party. It did keep the party in the battle and kept Ivyreen from losing any more blood, and in the end the consensus was that it was a good thing, especially since the rationale for it made sense. During the night, Zire snuck back into the hut and used his Detect Magic cantrip often in an attempt to discover more secret treasures. As the shelves were said to be messy and junked up, I had him make a Perception check to see if he saw the faint glow from the one item there. He failed the roll, and left empty handed. He did set the hut on fire though, and no one in the party asked too many questions about how it 'magically combusted', instead choosing to take Zire's assessment that it must have been a delayed trap the hag placed on the hut before she vanished.

The following morning the party heads off toward the dwarven monastery to look for the last component for the cure. Eldorath once again proves his skills and leads the party right to the place. A cursory search of the trail and the area around it shows mainly wildlife tracks, so the party cautiously approaches the front gate. Holo sneaks up and looks through the gate for anything moving, and seeing nothing waves the party forward. Eldorath's skills show that there is traffic still to and from the main building, so while the spellcasters watch the entrances from the cover of the stable wall, the rest of the party begins carefully searching the yard for clues. Holo finds the well and makes the gruesome discovery of the body next to it, and signals Eldorath to come look while Holo peeps into the well. Eldorath discovers that the body was eaten on by a wild animal, and Holo discovers the abandoned pack and rifles the contents. Windamere found nothing of interest in the remains of the stables, nor anything looking out through the hole in the wall. A quick conversation among the party brings the decision to search the tower before entering the main entrance, to minimize the chance of something catching them from behind. Windamere forces the door open while Eldorath watches for anyone coming out of the main building. Once the door is open, the party enters.
Inside, the webs ranging overhead give good warning of the occupant, but while Zire and Kirkee are trying to light torches to burn the webs, the spider attacks. The spider drops onto Eldorath and bites him first. El makes his save and throws the thing off, where Ivyreen fires a crossbow bolt at it as it lands, hitting for some damage. The spider heads toward her as the party prepares for combat. Ivy Dazes the monster, who fails its save, giving Windamere the perfect chance to swing. The mighty fighter hacks it in half with his swing, leaving the party in good shape after the combat.
A quick inspection by Holo shows that the rickety stairs are unsafe, so she climbs up the wall, occasionally using the stairs for support. Nothing is worthwhile on the tower's roof, so she wedges a spike into the tower's top and lowers a knotted rope for others to use if they want to. While Holo climbs and Windamere watches out the door for movement or monsters, the rest of the party searches through the crates and the floor, looking for anything useable or a component in the rubbish as well as looking for cellar trapdoors in the floor. Zire discovers the oilskin wrapped mw shortsword in an intact crate, but nothing else of value is found. After gathering and preparing themselves, the party heads out the door toward the main building.

DM note: The party made good rolls for Stealth, Perception, and Tracking checks coming in to the monastery and used good team tactics to make sure they wouldn't be taken by surprise during their searches of the courtyard. Windamere does not want to make too much noise, so he just gives a cursory look over to the stables and the ruined wall instead of attempting to shift things and risk making enough noise to bring out more than the party wants to handle. The decision to 'secure their 6' was unanimous among the players, and the battle with the spider was tense but not too difficult. Once Eldorath made his save the party was all for hacking the spider up quickly, especially since El was the only character with the Heal skill, as Kirkee's 8 Intelligence meant he only had one skill point which he put into Knowledge: Religion. Mark plans on correcting that when the party hits 2nd level, especially since Heal gets the Wisdom bonus, unlike Knowledge, which gets Kirkee's Int penalty.

Again using her Stealth skill, Holo takes the point and moves into the main entrance of the monastery, with Zire in the rear watching the side door as well as the exits from the courtyard. Eldorath follows Holo in and makes the DC 20 check, informing the party that most traffic goes north from there. Windamere steps up to look north and Eldorath watches out the entry doors while the rest of the party decides to search both doors on the sides of the entry room before looking through the open double doors across from the entry doors. They figure after that they will search the halls. The south room is uninteresting, and the party just looks around before leaving. Windamere is called on to force the northern door while Ivyreen watches the north hall. With a crash, the door breaks open exposing the room. Everyone freezes while listening intently for movement or activity of any sort, but after a couple of minutes pass, they continue, with Windamere moving back to watch the north hall. In the cloak room they find the corpse of the dead dwarf, and the silver hammer on his person. Kirkee does not recognize the name of the god on the hammer, and neither does Holo. Putting this hammer into Kirkee's pack, the party returns to the entry hall.
From the hall, the party decides to move through the ajar double doors across from the main entrance. A glance inside shows that this was a temple, though it is now defaced. As the party moves in to explore, the darkmantles inside use their darkness spells and drop to the attack, one targeting Eldorath and the other Holo while they ignore Windamere, the other front line person. As the darkness falls and the combat begins, the wizards and the cleric are at a loss to know what to do as they are outside the area of effect and cannot see into it. Ivyreen decides that this would be the perfect time for her sleep spell and targets it on the darkened area. Eldorath being immune due to his elven blood, he isn't affected while everything else is. El quickly locates Windamere and Holo and drags them clear of the affected area, where a few slaps quickly wake the sleeping characters. Ivy is certain that her sleep spell should last longer than the darkness spells, and she is proven correct. Two coup de gras later, the party is victorious. Kirkee identifies the altar as having been sanctified to the major dwarven god (different pantheon in my campaign world), but was defaced and abandoned. A quick search of the area reveals nothing of note, so the party returns to the entry hall.

DM note: Carl made a great quick decision about casting Sleep, which made this battle easy. He also made a successful Spellcraft roll for Ivy to determine that the Sleep spell's duration was longer than Darkness' duration. Mark was having no luck using Kirkee's only ranked skill, which added some frustration.

Deciding to take the south hall first in the interests of securing their rear, the party heads down the hall. When they reach the two doors, one on each side of the hall, they peek through the open western door first. Seeing nothing dangerous in the room, they decide to open the closed door opposite. They are stymied by the locked door, and Holo bends to pick the lock while warning everyone else to be quiet so anyone behind the locked door will not be warned. As she works, Eldorath watches into the room across the hall, and Windamere watches to the north up the hall. Hollo cannot pick the lock, so after a quick discussion, the decision is made to check the open room first. Entering what was once a library, the party notes the fungus growing everywhere. Eldorath wants to make a Knowledge: Nature check to see if he can identify it, and he does so and immediately warns the party to avoid it. Zire uses his standard 'Detect Magic' searchlight trick, and notices a faint glow coming from a book hidden high on the top shelf away from the mold. Carefully retreiving the book shows it to be a beautiful hymnal to the major dwarven god, and a magic scroll is found in the back. Zire is very disappointed though when the scroll is a clerical scroll.
Once the party leaves the old library, they decide to use two of Holo's spikes to wedge the locked door shut, just in case, before the go to explore the north hallway. Once that is done, they head north. Around the corner the party comes across a door to the left, which is slightly ajar. After peeking through the crack and not seeing much, the party pushes the door open and enters the room. Upon doing so, the two wolves leap out from behind the cover of the desk and attack. Windamere and Eldorath quickly move to engage one wolf each, with Kirkee and Holo coming to help them. Both Kirkee and Eldorath are bitten before the wolves are wounded enough to flee through the open doorway into the western room. Quickly following, the party is surprised when Graypelt leaps out and growls fiercely at them before he then speaks. The conversation is quickly turned to business when the party admits that they are looking for the mushrooms. Graypelt says he will consider giving them the mushrooms if they defeat the darkmantles in the temple. The party admits that they have already done so. Graypelt then says he will consider it if they kill the spider as well, and the party admits to this too. The party is beginning to feel that Graypelt has no intentions of letting them collect mushrooms, so as Graypelt begins to make his third demand, Zire hits him with a Magic Missle, singeing him badly. Graypelt leaps to the attack along with his two wounded consorts, and the battle begins.
The battle goes both well and poorly for the group in the initial attack, as one of the consorts does enough damage to render Ivyreen unconscious before she ever gets the chance to act. The other consort tears at Kirkee, while Graypelt attacks Windamere and damages him. Both Windamere's longsword strike and Eldorath's scimitar strike confirm criticals against Graypelt, dropping his hit points by over half. Graypelt fights on, determined to win. In round two, Ivy bleeds while Zire takes a strategic five foot step before firing his Burning Hands spell, doing enough damage to kill the badly-wounded consort who dropped Ivyreen. Graypelt bites Windamere again, doing serious damage to the fighter, and the consort misses with her attack on Kirkee. After Holo misses with her attack, Kirkee hits the consort and manages to kill her as she was already severely wounded as well. Graypelt is much harder to kill. As the battle rages, Graypelt confirms a critical against Windamere, which puts him down and bleeding. Kirkee isn't having much luck in combat, but does manage to cast a Cure Light to get Windamere back into the fray. In the next round, as Kirkee prepares to use his turning power to heal the party, Graypelt attacks him and drops him to zero hit points. Eldorath and the badly wounded Windamere manage to land two devastating blows, along with the damage Holo does, which kills Graypelt.
Wasting no time, Zire and Holo gather mushrooms while Eldorath pciks up Kirkee and Windamere collects Ivyreen. Once that is done, the party hastily backtracks to the tower, where they barricade themselves inside to rest for the remainder of the day. Eldorath has stabilized Ivyreen right after the battle, so while Windamere barricades the door and Holo scrambles up the rope to keep an eye out over the courtyard, Zire and Eldorath make their unconscious companions comfortable for the evening.
After resting the night with Eldorath tending to his patients and Holo shooting a couple of razorcrows that pass too close, Kirkee is awake and praying for his spells in the morning. After spending two Cure Lights to get Ivyreen awake and moving and Windamere in slightly better shape, the party loads up their precious cargo and heads back to town by the quickest route.

DM note: The battle with Graypelt was BRUTAL! If not for the lucky critical hits the party scored early on which took away over 20 hp, Graypelt would have killed and eaten the entire party with very few problems. A couple of players were very pissed off at me for this encounter, and only calmed down a little when I showed them where it said that the module was written for four characters of first level, and that the battle against Graypelt was considered a EL 3 encounter. A quick grab by two players for the 3.5 DMG as well as the PF book resulted in them showing me the evidence that this should have been listed as at least an EL 5 encounter, and I had to agree with them. I feel fairly certain that this "EL 3" encounter will get a TPK against Omega Crew. Listing Graypelt as an EL3 encounter seems misleading to me, as he could have likely killed the party without his consorts' help, and the party was not in all that bad of a shape before the battle with the consorts. Ivy's spent Sleep spell wouldn't have helped any, as the L1 characters would have been slept before the 2 hd consorts, and the 6 hd boss wouldn't have noticed it at all. This encounter would destroy a typical four member first level party without almost any chance for survival. To continue, the dice roll on 2d4 was 6, bringing the total death toll to 11.

With Eldorath's skills, the party finds the quickest route back to town and delivers the components for the cure in good time, saving the remaining sick villagers. The party finds rooms at the inn to flop down and sleep in, and the adventure ends.

DM note: After the game session was over, I asked the players for their thoughts about the game system, the changes, and opinions about everything. I'll put those in the closing comments in a bit and give my thoughts first.

I enjoyed running the game. Part of that was that I had good experienced players who knew the kinds of games I ran, and who knew me as a DM as well as I knew them as players. The rule changes that threw me the most were relatively minor, along the lines of "Make a Spot, I mean a... what's it called now? Oh, a Perception check." and so on. The new spellcaster rules weren't too bad, with a noticable exception being Alan having Zire do the "Rotating Beacon of Detect Magic" in every room. His view being that since he cast it as often as he likes, he might as well use this to max scan every location for magic items. I'll admit that I can't blame him for this thought, but I wanted to have a way of doing more than just handing over any magic item within range. To answer this, I used a Perception check against varying DCs to indicate the difficulty of finding hidden, secured, or simply obscured items. This also led to 'taking 10' and 'taking 20' on the Perception check disputes that really don't have any way of being resolved in the written rules and either need to have a written solution in the rulebook (which I DON'T want or recommend!) or a DMs ruling, such as the one I instituted with Perception checks. In the end, this is not really horribly unbalancing, but it is a kind of nuisance. Any ideas on better ways of handling it would be appreciated.

Totaling up the XP for the adventure was interesting as well. I decided to award xp as the adventure was written, and counted Graypelt as only an EL3 encounter. From that I totalled xp two different ways; getting a first total by giving xp for the EL of each encounter, and then a second total by giving xp for the CR of each creature defeated. In this instance, the first method gave the party more experience, though nowhere near close enough for the party to level. Even if the total was divided by 4 instead of 6, no one would have leveled. I decided that I would add in a bonus xp reward of 100xp for every villager saved, and with the extra 2900xp for that, the party has almost reached second level on the 'fast' chart.

The Players Opinions: In spite of the fact that I was looking for opinions about the game, much of the early conversation was centered around the question "How the hell is that an EL 3 encounter?" Once we all agreed that we disagreed with that EL, they moved on. They all agreed that the transition to the new rules would take a few sessions to get accustomed to, with the changes in skill names and spellcasting rules. Al and Carl both enjoyed the extra role play of their bound item (an amulet for Ivyreen and a staff for Zire), which included 'brandishing' their item when casting their spells. Al and Carl both thought there was some potential for abuse with the Cantrip rules, but nothing really game breaking so far except for Zire's Rotating Beacon of Detect Magic. Al agreed with me that the Perception check was probably the right call to make at that point, and agreed that he'd have probably said that this was a required roll check too, instead of a take 10 or 20. We're going to talk more about that and see what we think.

Mark was frustrated by Kirkee's lack of skill points compounded by his 8 Intelligence. He thinks that skill points for characters that don't have an Intelligence requirement for their class should be higher. The options that were discussed for fixing the limited skill choices for the 2 skill point classes were increasing the skill points to either 3 or 4 for those classes, or having 2 skill points be the minimum any character can get per level instead of one. A more popular suggestion was saying that at first level, a character could have 4 skill points to spread among his or her starting class skills, plus the starting skill points per class to place anywhere they liked. This would reflect that the character would have had a chance to learn something about several skills relating to their original class during training in his or her youth, but could only advance skills at a rate determined by intelligence and class. I will probably institute that rule in my game for the future. Again, any ideas or suggestions are appreciated.

Playtest Prologue: Alpha Crew

This campaign is played with two different groups: Alpha Crew, consisting of a small group of friends who are veterans of many years and various RPGs, and Omega Crew, consisting of relatively new players as well as a mentor player who is more experienced. I am partly running this with two groups to get a better feel for how different players will respond to the same situations, so each group will go through a couple of the same adventures. There will be six characters in each group to start with, and the games start by following standard PF rules, with the creation exceptions below.

1) Generation of Ability Scores. Characters will be created with my most recent house rules: Two d6 are rolled, and the player has the choice of discarding one of the two. After the decision is made, two more d6 are rolled of which one may be discarded providing a discard was not made from the first roll. One discard must be made, from either set of rolls. The resulting stat is then assigned to the ability of the player's choice.

Example: Jeff rolls two dice, getting a 6 and a 2. He chooses to discard the 2, giving him a 6 so far. He rolls the dice again, getting a 4 and a 1. As he has already discarded he must keep these, giving himself an 11. Jeff wants to play a fighter, so he puts the 11 into Intelligence. Starting again, he rolls a 5 and a 4, and he decides to keep both giving himself a 9. Re-rolling the dice, he gets a 6 and a 3. He discards the three and places the resulting 15 into his Strength score. This continues until he has all six stats rolled.

2) Hit Points. All hit points are 3.5 standard: Max die at first level, plus Con bonus.

Alpha Crew has four players to start with, all of whom have spent at least 15 years playing RPGs, and who have GMed at least three years worth of games. The starting characters will be more or less the "Wizardry Standard" of two fighter types, a cleric type, a rogue type, and two mage types.

Al creates two characters, a Human Fighter named Windamere the Mighty who longs to be a knight, and a Human Wizard Evoker named Zire of Riversbend who is out for power.

Gail creates a half-elf Ranger named Eldorath the Fleet, a surly sort but a good fellow.

Mark creates a Gnome Cleric named Kirkee Tumblethumb (Water and Travel), who isn't very smart but tries hard, and a Dwarf Rogue named Holo Tinker who claims to be a locksmith more than a rogue.

Carl creates an Elf Wizard Enchanter named Ivyreen Silkenwind who tends to be the party spokesperson.

After choosing skills and feats, spells and domains, and loading up on their basic equipment, Alpha Crew is ready to see if they can be successful as Hollow's Last Hope.

The campaign setting for these adventures will be my previously unused setting of the Kingdom of Lloringhold, which I first started creating as a possible backup campaign world back in 1985. This will be the first time it has seen use though, so it should be interesting to see how it develops. It has its own pantheon of gods, which brings a different flavor to the game. The pantheon is in the process of being converted from 2nd edition to PF, so it isn't all straight, so the clerics are pretty much choosing god concepts and domains, and I'll make it all work out later. :-p Otherwise, the realm is fairly straight forward 1st edition style, with all 'good' races living in relative harmony and the feel being somewhat more of a 'high fantasy' campaign. We'll see where the players take it though. :-p

Pondering on skills...

I've spent what some members of my family consider way too much of the last 30 years (when I became a Boy Scout and got introduced to the game) thinking about D&D and tinkering with it. I've read through the points here that various writers have made, and considered them, and I have a few thoughts. Be afraid. :-p

A) Stealth vs. Perception. Yes, it is much more likely for a greater wyrm that has maxed out his stealth to be able to surprise anyone short of Zeus. If I am a great dragon, powerful and mighty (and arrogant), I am going to spend my time pursuing skills and abilities that will enhance my prestige and reputation. Smaug was capable of great stealth, but his main focus was on skills that made him more powerful and fearsome. I'll max Appraise first, because in my greed I will want to know to the last copper piece how wealthy I am. I'll max out Fly to increase the fear that comes as I effortlessly wind my way through the crowded heights of the mountains or the close in spires of the city below. I'll max out Linguistics and Diplomacy so that I can interrogate anyone that I have captured, and gather information about my foes or threats to my might. Perception as well, so I can notice if anything is even slightly amiss in my lair. Stealth? Only cowards need stealth, and if I am considered a coward my own kind will destroy me long before any foolish adventurers do. Besides, my thought as a DM about dragons and Stealth is that if maxing out the stealth of a dragon to lay waste to a party of my friends seems like a grand idea to me, then I suck both as a DM and as a friend. And in my opinion and experience, DMs/friends that suck that badly quickly have no group or friends. The problem should fix itself, and it usually does.

B) On the subject of 'useless' skills, it is my opinion that any skill that the DM doesn't make desirable becomes useless. If a skill isn't being used, then perhaps I need to come up with ways to make that skill attractive. Either through role play (Ryn, a cleric of the God of Battle, is told by the bishop that his skills in siegecraft are not up to the expected standard. "How can you serve Sunsu when you can't tell me the best way to breech a standard moat and rampart? Perhaps, instead of adventuring, you need to spend some more time in the cloister?") or by making there be a reason for the skill to come in handy (Your party has taken refuge from marauding lizardmen in the town of Talltree. The village militia is a dozen semi-trained men, and the warband you tangled with is two score strong. The lizardmen were heading in this direction, and you provide the best hope of survival. How will you defend the villagers?). These are semi-ridiculous examples perhaps, but they illustrate my point. Of course, Zombieneighbors gave even better examples of making Craft:Basketry useful. I bow before your wisdom.

C) Perform. In the past, I have treated perform much like Speak Language: For every rank of the skill you buy, you can add another type of performance to your repertoire. First rank, Lute. Second rank, fiddle. Third rank, singing. And so on. This way it can be specific for certain instruments instead of categories, and there's always a good reason to buy another rank, be it in flute, yodeling, oratory, or drama.

D) Forgery needs to be its own skill. It is my opinion based on my own attempts at forgery when I was younger that knowing how to speak more languages does not help one become a better forger. Forgery is an intellectual art, but it is also a very physical skill in that it requires a steady hand and a certain physical grace. And it is also a charismatic skill because often one needs a major set of brass ones to make it work. If one is going to combine it with another skill, then combine it with Bluff and have that opposed by Sense Motive, because a good forgery is as much in the presentation as it is the documents.

E) Linguistics. This skill in PathFinder annoys me to no end because it wrongly includes the ability to forge documents. If one wants to package another skill with Linguistics, Decipher Script is a good choice. The more languages one knows the easier it is to puzzle out messages in different but associated languages. I know some French, which means I have a decent chance of puzzling out the meaning of a passage in Spanish or Italian.

Please let me know what you think. I always appreciate input and other ideas. I'll be making Craft:Basketry seem like a darn useful skill now, thanks to Zombieneighbors. :-)

Sidebar: Okay, Pazio forums are really making me angry. I've written a post here two times that was long involved and well thought out, just to have the damn board say 'oops?' and make it go away. Third time is the charm. But you no longer get the reasoned, well thought out discussions and evidence that I've had before. I lack the patience for it now.

Real post begins:

The game of D&D has always been about making choices, ever since I started playing it when I joined Boy Scouts 30 years ago. The choices that had to be made were not always this simple, but these are simplistic examples.

FIGHTER: Do I pull out my bow and shoot the big baddie at the back of the mob, OR do I heft my sword and shield and try to deflect the tide of minions charging towards us?

CLERIC: Do I cast a buff/debuff spell, OR do I heft my mace and shield and stand beside the fighter and try to keep the minions off of the rest of the party?

ROGUE: Do I shoot my bow at either the big baddie or a minion, OR do I slip into the shadows and try to sneak around to flank and sneak attack someone?

WIZARD: Do I cast a protective spell, or do I try to eliminate some of the bad guys with an attack spell?

DRUID: So I cast a spell to try to hinder/harm the baddies, OR do I shapechange into something fierce and step up to help the fighter and/or cleric?

Now, with the Nature Spell feat, the choice isn't there. One can do both. So I've eliminated the Nature Spell feat.

I have one big problem with animal companions. All too often and all too easily they are treated like a disposable meat shield; they are tossed in to battle, killed, and then 'oh well, I'll get another.' I think that is a bullcrap attitude. Any AC (and familiar) has a deep and intense link to its character companion. That's how it works. Therefore, I think that anyone who gets their animal companion killed foolishly should suffer the kinds of penalties a paladin does when his called mount gets killed. Otherwise, what's the big deal? Crunch all you want, I'll make more. This attitude is very much against the mindset of either the druid or ranger classes, and probably should be against the wizard's mindset too. This kind of penalty for druids, rangers, and wizards would make the difference. Say a -1 on the DCs of saves versus spells they cast for 30 days, plus other hindrances like -1 on skill rolls dealing with either nature (druid & ranger) or spell casting (wizard) and the -1 to AC as well. Suddenly, an animal companion would be something more than disposable, and that would make playing a character companion require much more thinking. And I am for that too.

Linguistics problems...

For my own history, I've taken classes in three different languages (French, Spanish and German if anyone cares. And you shouldn't, cos I really don't. :-p ), and as a result know how to carry on basic minimal conversations in one or maybe two, and how to offend people in all three. :-p I don't necessarily see the bard as the ace diplomat who can speak a dozen languages with ease, but instead more as the storyteller and entertainer who may have picked up a few stories in a few varied languages over the years, but who may not know much more. Therefore, I'm fine with the max ranks = level rule. It makes life much easier, and it seems to be more balanced in many ways.

My BIGGEST problem with linguistics is that it includes the 'Forgery' skill. Really, I don't think my pidgin progress in French helped me become better at mimicking handwriting, or falsifying papers, or any of that. If anything, I think Forgery should fall under the Bluff skill. The DM makes a roll against your Bluff to see how good your forgery is, and then maybe you make another Bluff skill roll when you present the papers to see if you match up against what the guard/busybody/whatever expects, and the success of your papers can be an additional modifier like on the current list to see how well you pull it off. Or whatever.

In the end, Forgery seems to be a lot more about making someone believe that something that isn't true, is true. By definition, that seems to fall a lot more under Bluff than Linguistics.

Just a question that may have been covered elsewhere...

Page 49, column 1. "The bonded item can be used once per day to cast any one spell that the wizard knows and can cast, just as if the wizard had cast it."

Just because I'm anal retenti... I mean a rules lawye... I mean. . . Oh honestly, just because I'm an argumentative jerk sometimes, I was going to ask this question before my players ask it of me:

If I can cast any spell I 'know', I can claim that all I have in my spell book are spells I 'know', which means I can, in theory, use my bonded item to cast any spell in my spell book of any level that I can cast whether I have it memorized or not. Is this the intent, or does it just give me the chance to cast a spell I have memorized for that day without losing it from my memory?

Thanks for the answer, and I'll admit that I'm loving the game so far. :-)

Majuba wrote:

Hmm - despite repeated attempts could not reply to this from Firefox.

To answer your question, the Beta Web Enhancement came out at the same time as the Beta, and is included in the Zip file with the Beta. If you haven't downloaded the Beta yet, just add it to your cart Here for free and "View Cart" / "Complete Checkout". Then the Beta will be in your "My Downloads" section.

Download it, and the Web Enhancement is the smaller PDF.

Ah, thank you Majuba! I had purchased the hard copy, so I had not downloaded the zip file. Thanks a lot for your help. :-)

So, after searching this site, I've decided that in spite of what my hardcopy book says, it seems that there is (yet) no such animal. Is there a secret and hidden web enhancement to go along with the book? Is it stuck in development still and just lagging a bit? Is it never going to appear (which would be a damn shame)?

Can anyone let me know if the promised PBWE is coming, or is it still an illusion that I failed my save against?