How much is too much or too little? I've run the gamut between not even having NPCs accessible to the party and have a pseudo-leader to guide the party, and each time there were complaints about the campaign being directionless or railroady.
Two recent examples of both ends of the spectrum are in my latest runs of Ironfang Invasion which I'm going to spoiler the rest below.
So in the run before this one, the party decided that they weren't actually going to help anyone out of Phaendar, they were just going to go straight to the bridge, clear whoever may be blocking it, and just hope that whoever gets out, gets out. Naturally no one got out, not even Aubrin who died at the Taproot since none of the PCs even bothered to give her a heal check. The PCs proceeded to aimlessly wander through the woods until they got bored and blamed me for not giving them clear directions.
In the latest run that just ended, PCs saved Aubrin and various other townsfolk, but decided that Aubrin was an iron-fisted ruler for asking the PCs to investigate spots of interest that the refugee scouts had found out about. The PCs had also complained that plothooks were too easy to find with their +10 perception and survival modifiers and dedicated nature-survival characters.
Other points of contention were PCs trying to negotiate with the troglodytes to let them live in their caves. Troglodytes demanded tribute in the form of gemstones or sacrifices to let the refugees even stay in the forest. The other was that the PCs wanted to leave the refugees behind and go to Tamran, where the roads are being watched by the hobgoblins to keep a chokehold on information getting in and out, and which the PCs came across and decided to backdown on fighting.
Altogether, this was seen as railroading instead of challenges in the party's way that they couldn't just nova in one round.
So now I'm at a loss as to what to do for my next campaign? How do I keep together a story while letting the party have the freedom to do whatever they want?
Boomerang Nebula wrote:
In my experience players don’t always know what they want.
A scathing truth to be sure.
It seems like nowadays players want every npc that they come across to have a nuanced backstory, allied or not. Even the lowly kobold guard someone mentioned further up needs to be a tragic hero of his own story.
There's also the trend towards redeeming villains while not wanting them to do villainous things such as -reads list- own slaves. Y'know, because every slave capturing warlord is versed in modern day economics and the long term effects on the economy of their warband because of slave labor vs paid workers.
But at the end of the day, most sessions are 3-4 hours, most of which taken up by either combat or rping amongst the players (if any) with a bit of exposition to keep the story going.
Recently I was in a conversation where someone described cultists sacrificing innocents as being 'boring and lazy writing' because there was no personal attachment for them.
To me that seemed overly analytical, as if the act of having to rescue people from being killed was trite and overdone unless it's someone you specifically care for. I could not wrap my head around that line of thinking.
The more they elaborated, the more fantasy tropes they decried as being overdone until eventually I asked "Then what does a fantasy hero do?" To which they had no response other than "I don't know, I just don't want to fight against someone that that has a sign that says 'bad guy' hanging from their neck."
This threw me for a loop. All I could think of was a quote from Lemony Snickett - "I'm at a loss for how to write a villain who doesn't do villainous things"
How do you go about writing your villains in a way that isn't boring or overdone?
Spoilers for the first part of the Ironfang Invasion AP!
So my group just finished getting through the troglodyte caves, clearing them out so that the refugees of Phaendar can move in.
After the game, as I always do, I asked the party for questions/comments/concerns which opened up a dialogue regarding the troglodytes.
The players felt it was very clumsy writing to have the PCs go invade and take over someone elses home, the very thing that kicks off the AP for them.
Even the fact that the troglodytes sacrifice others for their beliefs was considered justification for the take over so that there's not even a hint of grey morality to the situation.
I do agree that the situation seems a bit forced, but I don't think too much of it in the grand scheme of the AP.
I'm curious to know what other folks that have run or played through this portion feel.
Over the years, Paizo has released a number of useful and flavorful alchemical items, ranging from the humble alchemist's fire to the flashy bottled sunlight.
However, the same is true of spells, starting with the wizard's handgun, magic missile, and literally going beyond reality in terms of limits.
The difference between them is that magic, in the form of potions, scrolls, and wands, has a set price formula. Alchemical items don't follow the same notion, their prices assigned by whatever the creator feels is appropriate.
Unfortunately, this means that some alchemical items just aren't able to match up in terms of opportunity cost.
"But wait," you may ask "don't alchemical items pay for themselves in anti-magic areas?" To which I reply "If you're in an anti-magic area, you're far out of the depths that alchemical items can save you from."
But, that's not to say alchemical items are just the poor mans magic option (despite magic often being cheaper by comparison).
So what are some alchemical items that retain parity against spells?
As an example, I'm quite fond of sunlight rods, they're dirt cheap for an adventurer, aren't subject to being blown out or accidentally going off when you drop them in a puddle, and provide more light than a standard torch. One thing I like to do is make a sunstone, with GM permission, and stick it in a hooded or bullseye lantern.
Very much agree.
It's one thing to want a group where everyone is treated equally, but that's also predicated on everyone being equal.
Do the other players actually contribute during combat? Do they have any meaningful damage output or combat assistance?
Why not try doing a small 'split the party' adventure where the players have to go against the grain for their characters.
Have the warrior do something where has to talk his way out or through a situation, while the story players have to fight their way out. Hopefully this would give them all a better appreciation for what the others do.
We do rolled stats: 4d6, reroll 1's, take best 3 total, generate 6 complete sets, make grid, take best number from each row (I still couldn't get an 18 :p)
Good lord just do 20 point buy and call it a day!
Edit: I see this so often where groups will try to make rolling for stats fair and balanced by adding so many steps to it that it feels like the Point Buy system insulted their mother.
Still traumatizing, it'd start with bugs getting wiped nigh instantly, going up to small animals, including family pets.
Potentially vegetation as well? Depends on if regular non-creature plants would be able to be healed by the positive energy.
After that it'd be farm animals, but at that point it'd be affecting your average commoner as well.
"Elephant in the Room System"?
You can look it up on google but essentially it's freeing up a lot of feats that are considered necessary or expanding and consolidating feats.
Off the top of my head this includes:
Yes, and it doesn't matter
25 point buy
Party still only goes at a rate of one dungeon room per session
I've been on both ends of GM Favoritism and both were for the same reason, the other players can't keep track of rules.
When I was on the receiving end, the other players would receive freebies ranging from free gear to stat boosts while I had to meticulously plan every bit of equipment I could bring with me on every adventure. This was mostly because the other players tended to be more 'beer and pretzels' type players, making choices because they sounded flavorful or just didn't care that most of their choices were less than suboptimal(let me tell you the tale of the paladin that couldn't smite!).
When I'm the one doling it out, it's because the player in question has a very hard time remembering rules even despite playing Pathfinder for many years. Trying to get them to remember the rules between campaigns, or even between sessions is nigh on impossible, so for the sake of moving things a long I, and pretty much the rest of the party, just accept it as part of the game.
This is all personal anecdote and opinion so take it with a grain of salt:
2e is Paizo's response to DnD 5e, hence the simplicity to it, and going back to 1e in any sense would come across as 2e being a flight of fancy which they wouldn't want to do when competing with the pop culture phenomenon that 5e became.
As nice as it would be to get a few more 1e splatbooks or even just an AP, it just won't be happening.
That said, I'm happy 2e is continuing to play in Golarion, there's plenty of neat little plot threads that'll continue to be tied off for as long as 2e continues to sound like a good idea to Paizo.
I've thoroughly given up on using any enchantment magic on players that's along the lines of charm person or suggestion, or even dominate.
As soon as a save against these spells gets failed, some flip gets switched in a players brain that activates every latent brain cell for the express purpose of qualifying for the Olympic Mental Gymnastics team.
Even the most innocuous of requests, such as prioritizing the wizards bodyguard instead of the wizard will be met with some variant of 'Oh, well actually the wizard looks just like my deadbeat father who I hate with every fiber of my soul. Yes I know my father was a celestial orc and this is a gnome, what's your point?' or 'I know he just said to attack my allies, but really these are just work acquaintances that I've known for 20 years, they're not REALLY allies!'
It's aggravating to the extreme, but I never try to push the issue past poking a couple of holes in their arguments, so I just treat it as a turn wasted for the bad guy and make a mental note never to bother with such spells again.
What've your experiences been with this situation?
If I sat down at a table and the GM started to list off all the types of characters I'm not allowed to play, and all these restrictions on how my ability points are spent, and how I have to play the game the way he wants me to, I'm going to say thanks, but no thanks, and walk away.
Yeah I get what you mean, if I sat down to run a game with players that threw hissy fits because their overly niche builds didn't work out for them in every single situation, I'd walk away too.
One recent example of a switch hitter build that left was a dwarven ranger with the hatred feat that lets them apply their hatred trait to both attack and damage, as well as bumping the bonus to +2, along with the precise shot feat from archery style. Their favored enemy was goblins so they could get a grand total of +4 to attack and damage against them.
They failed to take down a bear in melee and quit at the end of the session.
I've GMed numerous APs, often with either 20 or 25 Point Buy as well as Elephant in the Room feat tax rules.
For some reason, this has caused numerous players to start making either incredibly single-stat focused builds (Dex) or very broad builds (Switch hitters)
Without fail, those same players end up quitting because they don't feel like they're doing any damage or are ineffective overall.
Are these builds actually viable or do I need to make encounters easier to accommodate these off the wall builds?
Cheese and misinterpretation can be separate things believe it or not.
A witches slumber hex is cheesy because of its power level for how early it's accessible and scalability, same with color spray being an encounter ender.
The example given before of Escape Route with a mount is cheesy because it's being used in an unexpected way but is still legal RAW.
Spell Cartridges are cheesy due to unrestricted access to force damage on demand, allowing you to not only bypass DR carte blanche but also to damage incorporeal creatures from the get go, not to mention force effects.
I expect Warded Against Nature to do exactly what it says on the text: "Animals do not willingly approach within 30 feet of you, unless you or the animal’s master succeeds at a DC 20 Handle Animal, Ride, or wild empathy check. Animal companions, familiars, and mounts granted by your class abilities are immune to this effect." It's cheesy-reading only in how broad and unrestrained it's effects are.
I am not hiding anything from the DM, they have access to my character sheet and can look up all my abilities, including drawbacks, at their leisure, as they well should.
If they neglect to read it and get upset with the results, that is no longer on me. I'm using Paizo content, as was allowed and as is written.
@Artofregicide: If you like getting insulted and misrepresented, more power to you, but I don't take that laying down.
There is no antagonism here except for what's being shown to me. I saw something exploitable and took it after taking into consideration the people I'd be playing with and the setting.
If you wanna cause arguments, take it somewhere else.
@Ryan: Rules that arbitrarily change based on DM fiat means there's no point to having rules at all. At that point, this turns into 'magical tea time' as it's so often referred to.
When I take an ability that says it does X, I expected it to do X, not Y and Z when the DM feels like it short of there being an actual reason behind the scenes for it. Did I get cursed to have animals actively move away from me? Did I get a save to resist that curse?
If the rules don't matter, then my choices don't matter and that doesn't sound like fun to me.
I decided on taking the drawback after everyone made their characters specifically to avoid that, don't treat me like I'm actively trying to negate peoples fun.
As stated previously, there's a vermin-blooded sorcerer and horses aren't the only draft animal in existence. Duergars are known to use beetles for much the same uses as horses.
I misread that magical beast part then, but that doesn't really affect much aside from the niche situation where an ally's familiar would need to approach me, which I can only imagine would be to deliver a touch spell. If it's come to that, there's already something that's gone horribly wrong.
Deleting an entire category of encounters sounds good to me, it's one less enemy type to worry about.
If Paizo has poorly written content available to use, it's not my fault for it being busted RAW.
There is no interpretation to be argued, the drawback does what it does, no more and no less. If it was supposed to actually be a drawback, then it should've been written as such or gotten some sort of errata.
No one else in the party has animals, there're no druids, no one's got summon monster, our sorcerer is vermin-blooded and will just be handling vermin anyway, and it's a wilderness exploration game so there's not gonna be any settlements.
Plus it just says they don't willing approach me, nothing saying I can't approach them or that they'll bolt if I do.
So I joined a wilderness based exploration game and asked the DM if it was okay to take drawbacks. Cue the big grin on my face when they said yes.
I went straight for the Warded Against Nature "drawback" so now I'm immune to any wild animals the party encounters.
Are there any other poorly written feats/abilities I could take advantage of? I'm playing a gunslinger magus so I'm already planning on taking the arcane bullets feat chain to bypass all DR and not have to bother with money.
Edit: Oops, meant to put those under Advise.
Visual Sensor (Su): An isitoq's creator or master can see through its eye at a range of 60 feet, using the eye's normal vision and darkvision. The following spells have a 5% chance per caster level of the isitoq's creator of operating through the isitoq: detect chaos, detect evil, detect good, detect law, detect magic, and message. If the creator is 15th level or higher, the following spells have the same chance of functioning through the isitoq: read magic and tongues.
Does this mean the Isitoq has to be within 60 feet of the creator/master in order for them to see through it or that it has a vision range limit of 60 feet?
What happened was this:
I gave the party the choice of where to start the AP, telling them about the various major townsfolk and where each one was at.
However, once the attack started, they decided that securing an escape route was the best course of action.
For some reason this prompted them to go west to the plains. I described several hobgoblins shooting down anyone fleeing from town and having an easy time of it due to the lack of cover.
They mulled over taking on all the crossbowmen on their own before deciding to go back to the other side of town and securing the bridge instead.
Since they had nothing but their starting equipment on them, they had a pretty rough time with the bridge fight but eventually pulled through.
Rather than going back for survivors at this point, they decide to just book it into the fangwood.
A few days went by, they came across Veld, thoroughly insulted her for not helping them at the drop of a hat, then decided there was no point staying anywhere near Phaendar.
They asked about places to go, I told them the only real major hub within reasonable distance would be Longshadow, and stressed to them that this would not only be a long trip but an arduous one for such an unprepared group.
They ended up deciding that a longshot was their best and only shot, and thus they began marching to Longshadow which is where I cut session 1.
We did have a session 0 as well, and I had them put forth several reasons as to why each of their characters was attached to Phaender and why they'd want to liberate either it or its inhabitants, but it seems none of it was enough.
So due to decisions my party took, they're going to skip two whole books of the AP.
They didn't rescue any of the townsfolk and left the bridge intact.
After asking about nearby settlements they could run to, they learned about Longshadow and decided to book it there, ignoring the fangwood entirely.
Has this happened in your own rendition of the AP? What did you decide to do in regards to everything that was skipped?
First, I apologize for the cardinal sin of equating real life to fantasy.
With that out of the way, does Glaucite make sense in that it's used as the premier metal for building spaceships?
A quick google search tells me that the ideal metal for spacecrafts is aluminum for being both sturdy and light.
Glaucite is stated to be 50% heavier than steel which is already quite a few bags of feathers.
Is the hidden caveat that Glaucite is only made for ships that are never meant to take off from a planet?
There's the common joke that it takes a feat in Pathfinder to know how to breathe in, and a second feat to breathe out.
What feats or abilities do you feel should just be baked into the game?
In example, the Rumormonger Rogue Talent requires a 10th level Rogue to spread a rumor around the local farmers that Farmer Jonah might be milking his neighbours cows rather than his own.