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I agree with you, Pax Veritas. I find the skill system a bit frustrating as well. I'll list a few ideas I've had.
#3. I don't have players roll for skill checks. I use "passive" skill checks. Your passive skill rating is your ranks + 10. I keep a list of the players' ratings in the most commonly used skills. When a skill check is required in the adventure I check my list to determine if the skill check is passed or not. I find this approach covers most situations.
If the skill check is opposed - usually by an NPC - I then use the passive skill rating and have each party roll a d10 and add it to their skill rating for their total. Yep, a d10. To me rolling a d20 and then adding your ranks makes skill checks way too "swingy". I think if you've spent points on a skill, you should be able to rely on that skill. This type of skill check is most often used with Perception vs Stealth, or Bluff vs Sense Motive. One thing I do too is that players never roll their own Sense Motive checks. I think that leads to too much metagaming. I roll for them and then hand them a notecard with their impression of the NPC. This leads to some fun situations and great role playing rather than just having the group go with whichever PC rolled the highest Sense Motive check.
#1: One solution to this - although it complicates things - is to make the cost of buying a rank in a skill variable. What I mean by this is the first five ranks cost 1 skill point, ranks 6-10 cost 2 points, ranks 11-15 are 3 points, and 16+ are 4 points. I have not instituted this idea, but I've seen other RPG's do this. I do think this approach is more realistic than the one currently in use.
#6: This I think is a tough one. If something is in an adventure then I'm assuming the PC's are meant to find it, so why go through the hassle of all these search checks? Just let them find it. I don't think I've ever met a player who thought rolling Search checks was exciting.
This situation is also greatly sped up by using the passive check system I mentioned above.
I do think making the skill system more exciting requires a lot of work on the GM's part. One thing I'm working on is making battles less common and far more interesting with terrain and such so that skills can be incorporated into the battle itself. Things like jumping on top of some crates, taking a swipe at an enemy and then backflipping over him onto the ground, swinging on ropes, chandeliers, etc. The skill system currently feels like a "tacked on" thing to me and not really well integrated into the other parts of the game, but I think with some work it could be a fun, dynamic system.
This also requires a chat with your players. No one in my group minds that they usually don't roll their skill checks, and they've been happy with no more rolling 1's on Climb checks and such.
As a side note, I also use the passive system with Initiative as well. My players enjoy not having to "break" the story for Initiative rolls and waiting for the order to get figured out before resuming the story.
The equalizer wrote:
I personally prefer games which start the pcs off at level one. Everyone is really squishy and there is the very real possibility of getting offed if you fail a save and the opponent rolls well. Even in the case of classes with d10 or d12 hit die, the level 1 pc can still be killed quite easily if the opponent rolls well. The longer the party succeeds at quests, surviving and levelling up, the greater is the sense of achievement. I'm not saying that starting with extra hp from a houserule is bad, it just depends on how big a bonus you would give the players. I and other gamers have found the sense of achievement really diminished when the dm decides to add an extra 5 hp at first level to everyone or rules max hp gained each time the pcs level up. I suppose I prefer a slightly harsh game but everyone's gaming style is different. The pcs are supposed to be the great heroes/villains/cool individuals eventually. Essentially its the ye old thing of "the man of tomorrow is forged by his battles today." Something can't really be considered a battle if its chances of failure are too drastically lowered. But YMMV.
The Equalizer, you bring up a great point. Additional hit points must fit the "feel" of the game. In a gritty campaign extra hit points should not be given. Combat should be dirty and deadly. In a high fantasy, heroic type of campaign then I would say extra hit points fit the bill. One's houserules should serve the needs and feel of the campaign and the players involved.
I like this idea. I'm doing this in the 3.5 campaign I'm currently running. Everyone has 5hp + their Con bonus to represent their "commoner" level. This seems to give PC's a slight edge at first level without going over the top.
In addition to the hp, I also give all characters a "commoner" feat from a select list. These are things like skill focus, running, etc., the feats that no one ever seems to take with their class levels. One of the feat options I offer also allows a PC to make a non-class skill a class skill. If your fighter was once apprenticed to a locksmith then Open Lock becomes a class skill for him.
This seems to help break up the rigidity of the class system and allows for some fun options - and it also forces players to give some thought to their character's backstory.
Thank you very much, Marc.
Really looking forward to this. Anyone know when this is supposed to be released?
That is very cool. Good job!
That looks great - good job!
Thanks for the post Werthead. I happen to be off to the bookstore today and I'll defenitely be picking up a few of the books on your list. Some fine reading inspiration here.
Whoa! Did I hear you say "out of graph paper" - Never again with this site
All kinds of graph paper for you to print out for FREE!!!
I have been thinking about going gridless as well for my campaign. I had thought to use pipe cleaners cut to the PC's movement rate. They're bendy for when the characters want to manuever, otherwise just lay the pipe cleaner down and move your mini to the end of it.
I would like to cancel my Pathfinder subscription after I receive volume 12.
I too use the wooden dowels cut down and painted.
Rather than spray paint I use the cheap acrylic paint you can find at WalMart for 44 cents a bottle. Cheap and they have a huge assortment of colors. Just lay out your chips and it only takes a few minutes to paint the top and sides. I would recommend spraying them with a clearcoat of some kind; I think a spray can of that would run 4 or 5 dollars.
I love this game too - it's how I learned how to play 3rd edition D & D.
Defenitely get those patches for it - as stated they open up some cool possibilities such as removing the level restriction, etc.
I've replayed it all the way through at least half a dozen times now. It's a good one to whip out every six months or so.
Hmmm, not sure what a browser is but I click on an "e" button when I want to go on the internet (I know absolutely nothing about computers).
I still have the same problem with nothing happening when I click on the register button.
But on a happier note the stuff on the site looks awesome and after reading up on the forthcoming vampire mega-adventure I can honestly say I haven't looked forward to an adventure this much since the Age of Worms campaign.
Looks great and you can defenitely count on my business!
Is this a late April Fool's joke? I can fill out the registration fields but nothing happens when I click the register button.
I recently picked up some PDF downloads from your store. I personalized them,then downloaded them, but then when I went to open them there was nothing in the folder.
This happened with the following two products:
City Builder Volume 2
Quirin Campaign 1: The Temporal Key
I'm not sure if this is a product problem or some technical snafu.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
AARRGH! Just lost my post!
Firstly let me apologize for the brevity of my previous post - I had to run out in the midst of it and hit the submit button rather than the cancel button.
OK, firstly DMcCOY i agree with you that old school D & D was pretty weak in the role playing framework department. I love the opportunities that the 3rd edition skill set has brought to the table, and how it makes my job as a DM much easier. I too do not want to see an edition that neglects this aspect of the game. A solid framework that the players can understand can only encourage them to see its potential in the game. I am hoping for a 4th editon framework that opens possibilities - not shuts the door on them.
I should also say here that I am giving WoTC the benefit of the doubt when it comes to 4th edition. I am willing to believe until they prove me wrong that they are going to put out a solid product that addresses role playing concerns in a well thought out manner. I believe I read a post somewhere (?) from one of the designers where they talked about how they are trying to do just that, and I'm willing to believe that.
And thank you to you Watcher for the reminder that roleplaying is more than just PC - NPC interaction; when I hear the term roleplaying that's what immediately jumps to my mind and I began to address the issue with that prejudice. There's been just as much role-playing at my table regardless of the edition or system used - although the results of that roleplaying and what it can accomplish have certainly changed! (And again, much for the better in my opinion)
I've run campaigns in D & D Basic, AD & D 1st edition, AD & D 2nd edition and 3rd edition, and the amount of roleplaying I've seen by the players has remained exactly the same.
I'm just not seeing how the ruleset you're using really makes much difference at all.
Roleplaying is created by the DM and the players, not the rules.
You did an excellent job on that guy - I might even have to try that myself. THanks for the pics.
I've wondered about this myself but from a slightly different perspective. I was wondering if the start up costs today for a youngster are more than they were for me some 25 years ago.
If I remember correctly I made 3 bucks an hour at my first job (minimum wage) and I think the AD & D Hardcovers were 12 to 15 dollars.
Today of course minimum wage for a young'un is about 7 bucks an hour (?)and the books sell for 35 dollars (4th Ed PH). And of course the quality of the books now is far superior to that of the old ones (here I refer to the paper quality and interior color artwork, not the quality of the actual content).
So really I don't think the game is any more expensive today than it was back when I was young.
As for a multitude of supplements I don't think it's any different now than when TSR was releasing the Handbook (I think that's what it was called) series - one for each class, so you pretty much either had to buy none of them or all of them.
I remember lamenting the fact that I couldn't afford all the D & D stuff I wanted back then. It seemed like TSR (at least for 2nd Edition) was releasing more stuff each month than WoTC has.
Even with editon changes and 35 dollar hardcover books I still think D & D is an affordable hobby.
I do however sympathize with not wanting to "toss out" one's library of 3rd edition stuff. I got back into the hobby about 2 years ago and have dropped about 5 grand on it since and it pains me to think of making that obsolete.
I think if WoTC would spent the last few years putting out quality adventures each month instead of the more expensive rules supplements the resistance to 4th edition would be far less. The thought of converting adventures to a new edition doesn't bother me, but converting a rules supplement - No Thanks!
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions here. It is much appreciated.
I really like the idea of the Feywild and Shadowfell and I was wondering if there has been any talk floating around WoTC of doing sourcebooks for those areas?
I just picked up today the RPG A Faery's Tale. I haven't had a chance to fully read it yet but I think it would be an excellent intro to role playing games. I believe it's designed for 6 years and up, and I plan on introducing it to a 5 year old girl and a 4 year old girl. You can get the PDF of the deluxe edition for 10 bucks at firefly games.
As for the old basic D & D, I think it's also a great intro to D & D. The system is simple and the books do a good job of teaching the ropes. It's also easy to swap out the combat and save systems with the 3.5 systems.
I would also recommend the old choose your own adventure books - this is what hooked me and my friends on the idea of role playing back in the day.
My group did make it through the Age of Worms and yes, the bad guys were pretty decked out in comparison to my group of players.
I scaled down a few of the badguys - primarily reducing the saving throw DC's for some of their effects.
I also edited out some of the combat encounters, especially in the later modules. The combat did grind on quite a bit, especially in the later modules. I just gave them the XP for the stuff I dropped to keep them on par with where they should have been.
For the final adventure I stripped out everything except for the battle with K himself. I had the PC's allies take care of the sidequests to lower K's power level.
It worked well and seemed to help rekindle not only my players' interest in the campaign but my own as well.
She is the goddess of death, winter, and fate - she used to have a name but it has been lost to history. She now resides in the Shadowfell, known only as the Raven Queen.
Worlds and Monsters doesn't give a whole lot of detail on her.
the Raven Queen
That's what I've gleaned so far. According to Worlds and Monsters there will be twenty plus one major gods. Other "godlings" or exarchs will also be present but they will be in the service of the major gods.
I've gotta say that Worlds & Monsters was without a doubt one of the best D & D books I've read in quite awhile.
I really like the design and philosophy behind it. In particular I'm glad to see the Feywild and Shadowfell. I've always enjoyed reading about the Fairy world in fairy tales and myth and I'm really glad to see this brought into the game world. I think they both promise to be great sites to adventure in as well as allowing DM's to be able to have environments where they can emphasize cool magic intertwined with the environment as well as a great horror slant to adventures in the Shadowfell - I think this will be an excellent place to bring into play the stuff from Heroes of Horror.
I also really like that there is a creation myth to explain the various monsters and races in the world. Though purely fluff in nature it makes me as a DM happy to have a reason behind the world, and I think it helps to make the world itself more compelling and fun to work with as a DM.
But most of all I like that they are emphasizing the role of monster civilizations in the world and in the world's past. This is something that I feel that none of the game worlds so far have addressed and I defenitely agree with the designers' assessment that so far the approach has been to develop a medieval world full of humans and their kingdoms and then to try to randomly drop monsters into it.
While I don't plan on switching to 4th edition, I really like the changes and design shown in this book and I am already at work implementing many of them into my own campaign world.
It also seems to me that they've done a good job with this book of showcasing elements that can be adapted to any world. It doesn't seem to me that they're trying to force a philosophy on DM's, but merely showcasing one we can use if we wish.
I did this for part of the campaign before my group made the switch to 3.5 so yes it can be done.
It is of course a fair amount of work for the DM. The biggest changes I had to make were bumping up the number of monsters encountered and reworking the treasure to fit second edition standards. Expect to have to stat up a few of the more unique monsters, but other than that it's not a huge undertaking to convert.
Hello Customer Service,
I am trying to switch the credit card associated with my Pathfinder subscription but the change doesn't seem to want to stick.
I click on the "change" button and enter in my new info but when I check it again under "my subscriptions" the old card is still listed as the payment method.
Am I doing this wrong, or have I encountered some website snafu?
As it happens I have an extra copy of that issue (still in the plastic with the Sasserine poster map) that I can send to you.
And no you don't have to pay me that much for it!
Anyone remember this one? I loved it back in the day, and my girlfriend recently tracked down the complete series for me on DVD.
The design a magic item competition got me thinking about slipping a Curious Goods store into my campaign, along with a few cursed objects. . .
I developed my D & D habit while growing up in a small town here in North Dakota. One of the local families who also happened to be very religious found out about my habit and quickly rumors began to fly all over town that my friends and I were worshipping Satan and making sacrifices of cats to Satan in this wooded area just outside of town.
As it happened my family had several cats, two of whom loved nothing more than to nap in the sunny rear window of the car. So one afternoon while driving around I was pulled over by the town cop who was worried about what I had in store for the two cats I had in the back of my car!
And I must say I still hear the whole Satan thing around a fair amount as well. I know of one pastor in particular who somewhat regularly incites the masses against the evils of D & D and Harry Potter.
I'd like to take the 3.0 DMG if it hasn't already been spoken for.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
I was wondering if there were going to be certain areas in the new Pathfinder world that you guys (James, Eric, and company) had no plans on developing in future products - areas that we as DMs could freely flesh out without running into conflicts with future official development of said areas.
I for one would like to see a few forests, a couple towns/cities, and a mountain range or two left untouched by the official products so that I could go to town on them.
I found this on the Wizards Sage Advice column regarding the number of sneak attacks in a round:
Number of Sneak Attacks
Provided it is possible for you to make a sneak attack at all, you can make multiple sneak attacks when you use the full attack action. For example, if you have a higher initiative result at the beginning of an encounter, your foe is flat-footed and every attack you make is a sneak attack. The same is true if you flank your foe.
Anything that allows you to make extra attacks during the full attack action gets you extra sneak attacks as well: fighting with two weapons, the haste spell, and the monk's flurry of blows are the most common ways of getting extra attacks.
Remember the earlier note about invisibility effects, however. If you're relying on invisibility to set up a sneak attack, you'll only have the effect for the first attack you make during your turn. You'll still get all your extra attacks, but only the first will be a sneak attack. You don't have this problem if you're using a greaterinvisibility effect.
Hope that helps.
I buy a lot of minis on e-bay and other sites, and it seems to me that paizo is the most expensive place to buy minis.
I know some sites will give you a cash payout or store credit if they buy your minis, but as you can imagine you won't get much for them.
If you're looking to liquidate some of your minis I would say that ebay would be the way to go. To get pricing ideas just search for your mini and check the buy it now offers from others. Auction prices seem to go for about the lowest selling price listed in the buy it now's.
I give my players two rolls for their hit points and they take the higher of the two rolls.
This gives higher than average hp, without overbalancing things.
Excellent topic. I too agree that divine spell lists can quickly get out of hand and here's how I address this in my campaign.
Divine casters get all the spells out of the players' handbook, and then for each spell level they may choose three spells from the other books to add to their spell lists. This selection is permanent. (Rangers, paladins and other "lesser" casters may only choose two spells per spell level).
This gives divine casters some variety but also keeps their spell lists under control.
You can find all the maps of Cauldron that your heart desires on the following site:
As well as excellent articles and background for running the adventure paths.
While I'm certainly sorry to see the end of two icons like Dragon and Dungeon, I am looking forward to Pathfinder. The info given so far looks good and I'm sure the high quality content we've come to expect from James, Eric & Co will continue and I will definitely be subscribing.
Good luck with the new venture, and you can count on my support.
I would suggest checking out some of the articles on the Warhammer game site. Given that they're entire thing is painting your mini's and battling with them they should have some good articles on this.
I remember when I was younger and painted mini's they had an excellent guide on mini painting - it went over all the techniques like basecoating, drybrushing, washes, etc.
I would also suggest picking up some issues of White Dwarf magazine. I have one or two issues and they have painting guides in them - very useful for seeing what colors they use as basecoats, highlights and for shading.
Tough one - though I think my first choice would have to be Hemmingway's The Old Man and the Sea - never has anyone said so much with so few words.
Second choice would be Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In my opinion, a must read for everyone.
Snowy and 25 degrees here in Fargo, North Dakota!
Not to dash your player's hopes, but keep in mind that there's a pretty limited customer base for magic items in Cauldron, and Skye has the monopoly there.
Perhaps instead of selling magic adventuring gear he might want to sell magical household items to the rich and famous of the region - levitating serving plates, self cleaning items, etc.
You'd have to whip up some rules to cover those sorts of items, but seeing what your player comes up with might be interesting.
For the SCAP web enhancements all you have to do is go to where you normally download web enhancements for Dungeon, and scroll down the list til you run across them. The page is at
and there's the list of all the dungeon supplements!
If I remember correctly not all of that stuff was reprinted in the hardcover version - there's a few extras in there if I'm not mistaken.
Thanks for the hard work, I've read your articles and I will defenitely be using your suggestions and ideas for my upcoming Shackled City campaign - due to start in two weeks.
Streamlining those Cagewrights defenitely needed to be done and I really like the love angle with Nidrama.
Keep up the good work!
Even better - It's actually a wet-erase board. I use the combat pad too, and I think it's a great product. Very handy for keeping track of initiative and tracking rounds for spell effects and such.
One thing I do as a DM is insist that all players use the same style character sheet.
This is a courtesy to other players who may have to run your character while you're gone and to the DM when I have to look things up on your sheet.
If everyone uses the same style sheet we all know where to find things quickly and easily on the character sheet.
Great set up!
Check out worldworksgames.com They have an excellent array of cardstock modelling kits to do all kinds of set ups.
I use them in my games and am very happy with their stuff.
What kind of flavor or theme do you want your world to have?
Will the adventures set in this world be of your own design or will you be using published material?
Are you looking to design an entire world, or an area suitable to fulfill the needs of a campaign?
What races will be found in this area?
As for your first question, I do not give my players the name of the monster they are fighting. I show them the pic out of the Monster Manual. Then I'll do a knowledge check for PC's with the appropriate knowledge skill (I keep that info written down on my DM log), if the check is successful I'll give the players the name of the monster as well as some pertinent info.
As for mini's, yes I use them and find them invaluable. If you don't want to make that financial investment then I would suggest getting a mini for each size category and just use the appropriate sized mini for the monster.
Tokens are also an excellent and cheap alternative to using mini's.
As for the Gamemastery products I use the item cards and I think they're great. I use them for the treasure the PC's find. After they ID the item they give the card back to me and I reuse it.
I think the Dungeon tiles are a good item to have for laying out your dungeons. They work well and are durable. Although if you're son is into modelling I would suggest checking out the products at worldworksgames.com, they are an amazing way to lay out the adventure sites.