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Some good answers here. I agree with Harry Canyon and Headfirst.

Quantum spellcasters are the real problem -- those pesky wizards who seem to have every spell needed for any situation and enemies always fail their saving throws against them. Too bad these spellcasters only exist on internet forum discussions. A good martial has high AC, high HP, and is a killing machine.

As for martials outside of combat: Martial characters are respected by the populace, and by the rulers. Fighters are covered in metal and carry deadly weapons. They tend to be (as they ought to) belong to organizations of reknown, whether it be a paladin's order or a pirate band.

For example: an "arcanist kitsune with draconic bloodline and a level dip in stormwind sorcerer" will likely get roasted on a spit by a hungry village. A "Human Hellknight of the Order of the Nail" will be invited to the feast, and asked to tell of his exploits.

I remember an article in Dragon magazine some years ago that featured some unusual spell books, such as metal plates connected by wire and tattooed skin finished as leather pages. It was pretty cool.

Consider the function of a spellbook in the game, and the liability that comes with owning/relying on a spellbook, and its inherent value, and so long as it keeps these qualities, as a GM I would see no problem with it, and actually enjoy the creative addition to the game.

Material component costs are mundane, unless you don't want them to be. Want to give the group a reason to visit a nearby village? "You need spell components, and this village is known to have a small market catering to spellcasters and other magic-users."

Want your group to visit a cave? "There is a cave nearby where bats and bat guano can be found. You just realized you're running pretty low."

Want to make death a serious obstacle to the players? The local priest informs you "You all have a good reputation, but there is something my order wants; there is a statue with two enormous diamonds for eyes in a nearby dungeon. I'll agree to raise one of you from the dead in the future in exchange for both diamonds. The other one is for ...someone special."

The things player characters want and need are potential hooks for the GM to use. Use your imagination and be cool about it.

Considering what Ileosa is up to in that final encounter, it makes perfect sense she'd want the PC's to "go away".

Look at these battles like a comic book; for some reason there is plenty of room to monologue one another, even in mid-swing.

Let the PC's talk smack. Let the villain talk smack. Heck, give everyone a swift action to "talk smack" for purposes of Intimidation. "Did you think I would reveal my master plan to you if I knew you had any chance of stopping me?"

Give players a +1 to their next attack if they do it "with style".

Don't let anyone roll initiative if there is no surprise round until everyone is done talking smack.

And if I may say so, get past the idea of "they fight to the death" in every scene. Let the enemy think tactically, and make an escape if possible. It sets up some neat scenes.

Daoud's Wondrous Lanthorn (from Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth) was always a favorite of mine.

Powerful, dangerous, evokes "my precious!" and probably sets lots of evil enemies after you, it really got the gears of imagination turning back in the day. It was also one of the first published modules that let players actually get their hands on an artifact-level item instead of just reading about them in the DM Guide.

I think any good artifact will, by definition, be full of history, dangers, power, consequences, etc. It's the kind of thing that entire campaigns can orbit around.

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Fun fact: an adult copper dragon has unlimited Grease, Hideous Laughter, Ghost Sound and Stone Shape. They are also trap masters and their breath weapon Slows.

YFW you realize an adult copper dragon's lair is a CR12 funhouse.

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Inspired by reading of a certain game that has the initials "DW" and it's "you succeed but there are consequences", I sat down to drink bourbon and consider the ramifications for PF. I passed out and hit my head on the keyboard, and when I'd woken, my forehead had typed this:

- Raise a Level - Attribute Check - You were right all along! You knew it! That thing your mentor told you about now clicks in your head! You have an insight! Eureka! - Go up one level. Relevant XP necessary. 3 days training. Required for gaining level 10 or higher.

- Training montage - Attribute Check - spend your time studying your magic, defenses and attacks. +2 "going forward" (meaning +2 to spend on your next Skill Check or Attack Roll). 3 days training minimum.

- Build Reputation - Diplomacy Skill Check - Do small local quests and jobs to build a reputation with the locals. Gain a +2 on all Social Checks on your next visit to the city. 3 days minimum.

- Gather Intelligence - Stealth or Diplomacy Skill Check - Watch or interact with local officials and important persons to gain a +4 on your next Knowledge Skill Check relating to local events. Gain a +2 on a Social Skill Check while interacting with locals. 3 days minimum.

- Earn A Living - Craft, Knowledge or Perform Skill Check - You can earn half your profession checks roll in gold per week of work.

- Drinking and Whoring - Diplomacy or Intimidation Skill Check - You uphold your reputation as an adventurer by spending money in the way everyone else wishes they could. Gain +2 on all Social Skill Checks on your next visit to the city.

- Gambling - Diplomacy or Bluff Skill Check - Gain a +3 on all Social Skill Checks on your next visit to that particular establishment, and +1 on all Social Skill Checks in that part of town. Cost = 300gp. To earn money through gambling, see "Earn a Living" as Profession: Gambler.

- Vigilantism - Stealth or Performance or Intimidation Skill Check - Build a reputation and an identity as a masked crusader for justice! (It's the latest thing). +5 to Fame for each week spent crusading.

How Skill Checks work in Downtime:

A Downtime Skill Check is a single roll of a d20 + relevant skill modifier.
- Meet or exceed target number - Success! There may be additional benefits or opportunities that arise from a skillful and competent use of your time.
- Miss by less than five - Success, although there may be some repercussions. It shouldn't be anything you can't handle.
- Miss by five or more - Failure, although there may be opportunities arise in lessons learned.
- Roll lower than your character level - Failure! Although you may earn XP from your brave endeavor.

A Downtime Attribute Check is a single roll of a d20 + relevant attribute bonus.
- Natural 20 - Success! Gain a +2 bonus going forward
- Meet or exceed target number - Success! There may be additional benefits or opportunities that arise from your training.
- Miss by five or less - Success, although there may be consequences that arise from your training.
- Miss by five or more - Failure, although opportunities may arise in lessons learned.
- Natural 1 - Failure! Although you may earn XP from your hard work and study.

Avoid wraiths.

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Ask the player how the background of conflict fits into an adventurer's story, especially since the civil war doesn't figure in your campaign. Often, it's just that simple.

Still, many of the player's feats and skills and professions can reflect a background from a nation in conflict. Profession-soldier, for example. An Iron Will can reflect some family he has to go back for one day. etc.

Maybe if he seeks vengeance against some army captain who burned down his town and slew his family, you could drop a rumor that said villain is living in/has been seen in/has been stirring up trouble in, a town that is on the way to where the adventurer's are headed. Vengeance Sidequest!

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Devargo is a great low-level villain. As such, he's useful to those in the government (and noble families) as they give him permission to run his little feifdom down at the dock, and he provides them with information and occasional vice. The constabulary love villains like him because they have someone they can hold accountable if crime ever gets out of hand. He's an "unofficial lord" as it were.

Let Devargo carry on his business, but getting captured by PC's is embarrassing to those in power, as they can't pretend to ignore him if too much public attention is drawn. He'd surely let the PC's know if debts got called-in and powerful sponsors don't want any more foul ups.

My group went to see DeVargo during Escape from Old Korvosa, and rescued Majenko as part of a price for doing DeVargo a favor. He became the party wizard's familiar (with a little rule bending).

During Legacy of Ashes, Majenko handled himself well during a Red Mantis ambush--scoring the last hp of damage against a wounded assassin. After that, he began putting on airs. His sleepy stinger has been effective...twice.

During Scarwall, he went a little nuts upon finding a certain dragon's hoard, and momentarily forgot who his master was. He was given a pile of coppers to sleep on from then on.

He was also polymorphed into a medium dragon for one game in which we had a returning player for that session. He got to feel real dragon power, as it were.

For the most part, the wizard keeps him out of the way. :)

I suggest a sudden gating-in of a kyton...

...who offers them pleasure toast.

You hunger for it.

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I say "fie" to both Orfamay and Claxon. FIE! I say! This is an excellent way to tell a tale and involve the players. One just has to do it in a way that engages the players in a fun way.

Idea: The artifact sits in a ceremonial room on an altar where motes of light dance over it in a spectacular and fascinating way. Very magical scene.

On the way in, there were interesting encounters in a temple environment where there were interesting bas relief murals upon the walls depicting an ancient people's beliefs, history and way of life.

Anyone who approaches the artifact appears to get "zapped", disappears, and reappears a few seconds later either having lived an interesting experience, or weak and nearly unconscious from some traumatic event. Most treasure hunters leave the temple to tell the tale.

Here's the deal:

The ancient peoples to whom this artifact belonged were very religious (like Egypt-level religious). The stars and the constellations and movement of the planets were important in their religion, as were certain important leaders, discoverers and heroes.

The murals should reveal this through a series of [Knowledge Checks].

The motes of light above the artifact move to depict various constellations in the sky (according to this ancient culture). There are dozens of possible patterns. Only when the altar is approached during a specific constellation does the artifact allow itself to be touched without consequence.

The consequences however, are not all dire. Through the use of a [Maze] spell, certain chapters of the people's history can be told, like that episode of Star Trek TNG where Picard lives out decades of his life on another planet in just a few moments of time. Hehe.

The wrong constellation: The PC's in the room are transported via [Maze] to an ancient battlefield where they are part of an army taking on waves of terrifying undead soldiers led by a powerful overlord. They must slay the overlord to be free of the endless battle. If any fall in battle, they take 1d6 Wisdom damage upon their return, but otherwise suffer no real physical harm.

[Knowledge Check] on murals: Reveals two or three scenes where certain constellations were in the skies over important events. If the players approach at THESE times, they can see and hear the words and deeds of certain important individuals -- a heroine, an inventor, a great leader who led them to freedom.

Armed with this information, the PC's can put together the story of the people who built the temple, and find which of the temple's murals (use a symbol like a crown or two crossed swords or something -- just one amongst dozens of symbols in the temple) has the scene they're looking for; in that scene, there will be stars in the sky depicting the correct constellation by which to approach the altar.

Additional fun: when the altar is approached at the last, the PC's are transported to the time and place where the artifact played an important role, and the actual historical figure will give it to them if they show the proper respect (much like Percival retrieving the Holy Grail in Excalibur).

Orfamay Quest wrote:
ElyasRavenwood wrote:

Anyways, to me it seems the martial characters, Barbarian, fighter etc do far more damage a round consistently then the evocation magic my wizard wields. So why do martial's feel they don't have "nice things"?.


In broad terms, it's because "do[ing] far more damage a round" is a relatively limited niche.

Spellcasters have tremendous battlefield mobility advantages -- they can climb better, swim better, fly (at all), and teleport (at all) to get to where they need to be for strategic purposes.

Spellcasters have many more resources for defending the party. They can make the party invisible, immune to attack, out-of-reach, untouchably behind a wall, uncatchable, and so forth.

Spellcasters have many more options for dealing with the environment. They can open locks, disable traps, make or seal portals through the dungeon, create safe zones for rest and recovery,...

Spellcasters have many more options for dealing with bad guys. They can put the bad guys in a deep pit, on the other side of a wall, in a cloud of blinding mist, lying on the ground unable to move, or simply dazed, confused, and unable to fight. They can even take direct control of bad guys and turn them into good guys.

Oh and if none of those things work out, they can do direct damage, as a last and much poorer resort.

So, basically, the spellcaster's list of options ends where the martial's list begins.

Yours is the "quantum spellcaster" argument; Not every caster has every utility or buff/debuff or attack/defense, control spell available on every turn. Not every violent conflict needs the wizard to use up spells. Opponents don't always make their saving throws either. For those moments, its good to have a fighter or two around.

But...much of this comes down to a GM having exciting combat scenes (or even just "conflicts") prepared.

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RainyDayNinja wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:

* A party of high level (17th level) martials is taking on a high-level caster (18th level caster, plus enough minions to make it a CR 20 encounter).
* The encounter is taking place in the caster's stronghold. Think, if you like, of Conan encountering the evil wizard at the top of his tower. This gives the caster the home field advantage plus all the prep time in the world.
* The party consists of a fighter, a rogue, gunslinger or a skirmisher ranger, and a brawler. No spells among them. More importantly, no magical items duplicating spells either. This is about martials themselves being cool, not martials pretending to be casters.
* The caster is RAW legal; no nerfing him. Simulacra of wish-granting outsiders, bags of marbles with symbols on them, teleporting to private demiplanes, all legitimate.
* The party is not allowed to do anything "wuxia," "weeaboo," "anime," or similar derogatory words.
The fighter kicks the door open...

This is already better than some of the Pathfinder novelizations.

Anyway, yeah. Fighters are badass. Trouble with discussing them online [versus casters], is those casters tend to be "quantum casters", i.e., whoever is arguing for them assumes they have the most useful spell for any given situation at-the-ready and that everyone fails their saving throws.

Watch "Mystery Men" and check out the character of "the Sphinx". (He can cut guns in half with his mind!). That character is so much about the aphorisms, that Ben Stiller's character calls him on it in one scene.

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I would change Pathfinder back to a roleplaying game from the battle-game it's become.

Make sure to include a mundane tavern scene....one where there are circumstances that they MUST remain incognito for fear of the enemy or his agents knowing they're coming.

And in this scene, have some really annoying people start teasing and tormenting the group, yet the PCs dare not react, and these level 20 mythic PC's have to accept their torment and be labeled by the locals as wimps/cowards, whatever. They even have to sleep in the barn and eat porridge. THAT would be a challenge to set up.

I have to agree with RedDog, Nefreet's answer notwithstanding. An SLA is not a spell. And the definition of a scroll is "a spell that has been stored in written form."

Interesting side note: A wizard attempting to use another wizard's spell book needs to make a Spellcraft check every time. (Which is why wizards write spells into their own books).

I like the idea of a rogue being able to "figure out" some magic from a spellbook though. Bookish Rogue makes the spellcasting an SU ability.

Spellbooks tend to be expensive though, and there are some pretty nifty security spells wizards keep to track them down if a thief steals one.

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Continual frustration and ragequitting are not things to enjoy with your friends.

Play a simple game like Crypt of the Everflame. It's a beginner module designed to get players working with clues and helping one another.

If they're not into it, then do other things. Gaming shouldn't be work. A lifetime of gaming has taught me that it's all about the company you keep, not the game you're playing.

If you and your players are experienced enough to handle high level play (there's a lot to track at that level), then I might suggest picking up one or both of Dragons Unleashed or Undead Unleashed. You'll find very affordable sourcebooks that contain multiple entries for high level dragons and their lairs, or high level undead. Each lair contains history and background that can be extrapolated into a several or many sessions-long game.

I assume your paladin order is in good with the local constabulary? Use your paladin abilities to detect his lies, and then have him incarcerated. Spending a day or two in the stocks should help the sneak thief reconsider his profession.

I'm really astonished by the number of people posting here who have been influenced by interpretations of blindsight like that featured in Daredevil.

Blindsight isn't "seeing a different way" or "heatvision" or "the world on fire" (although it can be if you want it to be), it's a "non-visual sense to operate effectively without sight". It makes the one with blindsense unaffected by blur or displacement, so I too would rule that feint is ineffective against blindsense.

I'm kinda iffy on the Judgement affecting a swarm, but a destruction-oriented smite sounds more like a reflex save than a will save anyway. I'd probably let it happen.

Some good posts here though about the real issue: getting along with people with whom you've developed an adversarial or at least an unfriendly relationship. It takes a dose of maturity to get past the rough edges we often show to one another, and it's usually time and perspective that get you to soften up and forgive one another. Communicating concerns and being assertive (rather than angry) is a good way to clear the air.

I am completely on board with winged creatures, and other creatures using natural flight to be able to increase their speed. What I would like to see from Paizo is a complete rules write-up of Movement (including mounted combat, btw) that would include "flying creatures using natural flying ability can increase their speed..." instead of us relying on "default" interpretations... Because I don't see it.

Constructive disagreement from me.


Because that's the default assumption. All movement modes can be used to run unless otherwise stated. And they are otherwise stated in at least some cases:

Swim: The skill entry describes that you must have a swim speed to run.

Climb: The skill entry says no run action, even with climb speed. However, using accelerated climb lets you move at double speed per action, which is effectively the same for an unladen character without special feats.

Fly: Neither the bestiary entry for "Flight (Ex or Su)" nor the skill lists any special exemptions. Therefor, fly speeds can be used to run. As long as it isn't the Fly spell or an ability based on it, since that spell does forbid the run action. A non-trivial portion of player-accessible flight references the spell, so many PCs may be SoL on running with their fly speeds, but not all of them.

Burrow: The "Burrow (Ex)" special ability...

I disagree. The "other exemptions" argument is more like a case of sloppy editing left over from past editions. In fact, looking at D20, there is a description for flying creatures "a flying creature can fly down at twice its normal speed".

And "default assumption" is no reason to allow someone to double or triple their movement speed.

However, it makes sense to allow a winged creature to beat their wings faster and get more speed out of it. Using a winged mount with higher stamina would make sense for someone to want to gain a speed advantage if their mount can "sprint" for some distances. This is all great and wonderful stuff, so long as the players can accept my gargoyles and harpies can come at them really fast, while the flying wizard putts along at 60' and the cleric goes running past in the air at 120'.

Nefreet wrote:

You can use the Run action with other forms of movement, such as Fly, Swim, and even Climb (so long as you have the relevant movement speed and a straight line to do so).

Neither the Run or Speed sections are limited to land speeds.

The only occasional restriction is that "You can't run across difficult terrain or if you can't see where you're going", and I believe with Air Walk you ascend at half speed, which could be interpreted as "difficult terrain".

EDIT: added more words.

Under the definition of the "Fly" spell, it reads "The subject of a fly spell can charge but not run."

And I see no other indication in the rules of Fly, Flying or Movement that a flying character can move any faster than their fly speed, with the exception of Air Walk, which reads "The subject can tread on air as if walking on solid ground."

Show me where you're getting this interpretation please, and I'll change my mind.

I have frequently had NPC villains refer to certain PC characters as "holy warriors", not knowing whether they were up against a paladin or a cleric, and "magicians", seeing they had a foe who wielded magic and wasn't coming at them with a sword.

Paladins, wizards, clerics, druids, monks,...these all have institutions behind them, which helps define them and their roles in the world. (Like a "maester" from GoT). Whether someone else recognizes the Seal of Purity a paladin is wearing, or the holy regalia of a traveling cleric is another matter.

Fighters and rogues...these could be anybody.

A good martial interested in keeping the enemy busy will have good mobility on the battlefield, as well as situational-awareness (Combat Reflexes and is reserving actions when prudent).

Thinking like a field commander, you'll want to protect your artillery and archers (your caster), so stay in a position relative to those whom you wish to protect.

As DM, I won't send an enemy after a PC caster unless I think the enemy has the intelligence to recognize the threat and has the opportunity to do so.

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Take it from a gamer whose gamer group has moved a couple of decades down the road: enjoy gaming for the togetherness and escape from day-to-day concerns. Everyone at the table is just another gamer and we're all there to have a good time.

Remember Gimli told Aragorn to toss him at the orcs. ;)

We used one of our DM's kids' toys (a plastic shark) to represent a summoned shark (of my wizard's) during a particular lake battle. It was the right size for the shark's description in the bestiary, but it was considerably larger than the space such a creature occupies on the battlemat. Still, it was very cool, and it got me to looking at the descriptions of size of many of our classic beasts.

Think about this for a second:

DM:"The creature is trying to grab you."

PC:"I will let it grab me."

DM:"It grabs you."

There is no conflict, so there is no contest. At best, I may allow an intelligent assailant to sense motive to figure out the PC is trying to maneuver in close using the assailant's action. But since the player isn't using his Maneuver Defense in Combat, there's no need for the creature to roll against his CMD.

This came up the other night in Curse of the Crimson Throne. Players were trying to get Cindermaw to swallow them, and Cindermaw WANTED to swallow them. Why roll? Does it build tension?

As for bullrushing an ally, I see no difficulty unless the ally is blinded for some reason and can't see who is tackling him. It makes perfect dramatic sense that an ally could knock someone out of the way of danger if they had an action ready.

A crocodile (CR2) has "death roll" which allows for underwater grappling, which could be epic and exciting. A bulette is pretty tough (and has burrowing), so I could see some fun scenes happening with grabbing and dragging PC's underground.

Still, you have to consider that the risk of being underground is greater than that of being underwater (as PC's can theoretically swim). I might use such a maneuver to hook the PC's into an underground adventure, but I'd make them fight the bulette first.

Also, I don't believe it's necessary to have a hard and fast ruling on every imaginable situation in the game. Where's the thrill in having everything figured-out? This is why we have dungeon masters.

Reverse wrote:
Owly wrote:

Our group's policy: Bringing in a new character (due to death or switcheroo or whatever) means that new character is 1 level lower than the lowest at the table. Everyone is 10th level? Your new character is bottom of 9th level.

It lends some consequences to death without being soul-crushing, and discourages the revolving door. It's also fair to the players who have kept their characters alive.

How does this work with multiple characters dying?

The group is 10th level. Bob dies, and comes back at the bottom of 9th. Then Amy dies next week, and has to come back at 8th because Bob got killed. Then Jack dies and is 7th level, only to die over and over again because now he's perma-stuck 3 levels below the highest party level.

Do you run into problems?

The slippery slope is indeed, treacherous, but this worst-case-scenario you describe hasn't happened. What HAS happened is two PCs (one killed, one voluntarily changes out characters at level 9) have altered the APL from 10 to 9. So I've been putting together one-shot dungeons to give them and me some practice. When everyone is level 10 or 11, they'll pick up the main storyline in the Cinderlands again.

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Our group's policy: Bringing in a new character (due to death or switcheroo or whatever) means that new character is 1 level lower than the lowest at the table. Everyone is 10th level? Your new character is bottom of 9th level.

It lends some consequences to death without being soul-crushing, and discourages the revolving door. It's also fair to the players who have kept their characters alive.

The Mounted Combat rules have long deserved a dedicated rewrite in Pathfinder, in my humble opinion.

"Stay in the Saddle" is the relevant check (DC 5, does not require an action). An imaginative DM might add +1 to the difficulty (house rule) for each 5pts. of damage the rider takes or for each 5pts. the CMD is exceeded by, considering that jousting competitors got unhorsed frequently.

Edit: Oops, I forgot Armor Check Penalties. Well, there ya go.

Fair game. As the GM, you'd want to think cinematically though. Throw CR's, feats and abilities out the window and turn the scene into a dramatic one, or one of relentless menace (like in Salem's Lot), and the characters need to figure out how to push back or forestall the menace while you provide lots of clues.

Example: The vampire is slowly descending the stairs, enjoying the fact he's intimidated the PC's and is showing his fangs, intending to corner each of them and drain them of their lives. Perhaps he's monologuing the whole time, revealing how he's manipulated the PC's up to this point. The players need to
1. Get the cage open that holds the girl they came to rescue
2. Get the vampire to reveal a certain bit of information
3. Pull the curtain down off the plate glass window to burn the vamp and stop him in his tracks
4. Battle his minions
5. Find the back door out of the mansion

Meanwhile, the GM's description includes "You've heard legends about these POWERFUL monsters and the INCREDIBLE powers they wield. Did you wish to attack him with your FEEBLE weapons, or did you want to rescue the girl and RUN?"

They could identify the spells used in the device (like the teleporter) but I doubt they could identify how the lever affects the teleporter or where the teleport would take them.

Can one use Spellcraft or Detect Magic to understand the workings of a magical device, like a trap or a teleporter?

Case-in-point: There is a certain AP which has a room with levers and "floating spheres of mist" which act as teleporters. One of the levers affects the destination of the teleporters, and each sphere teleports to a different location. This is not the first time we've seen teleporters in Paizo adventures. I was curious if an astute PC could use his skills to decipher and understand such magical devices and save the PCs a lot of trouble...?

My 2cp: I often have what I call "dramatic scenes" wherein amusing stuff occurs to set the scene, get a laugh, get everyone to loosen up, let the bad guy monologue.

So long as it doesn't put the PCs at a disadvantage, then no sense of agency is broken. No harm no foul.

I once had a villain noserafu make an escape despite the efforts of the party. I explained "He's protected by plot armor" and that got a belly laugh out of everyone. They understood.

Jacob Saltband wrote:

AD&D 1e:

The material component of this spell is a small, forked metal rod - the exact size and metal type dictating to which plane of existence the spell will send the affected creature(s) to.

AD&D 2e added:
Forked rods keyed to cetain planes may be difficult come by, as decided by the GM.

Wizards didnt have plane shift on their spell lists in 1e and 2e, at least not in the Players Hand Books.

Good to see another player who doesn't regard "the fluff" as something that just goes by the wayside in favor of "the build".

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I think the logical dysfunction here comes from the fact any spell appearing on some non-wizard's spell list is by definition, not a wizard spell.

When a cleric casts Plane-Shift, he's casting a divine version of plane-shift, and one given to him by his deity.

Now...getting snotty with "why can't you read?" replies overlooks the fact that what I just wrote it how the "yes" crowd is reading the rules. So there it is.

Jacob makes a fine argument, as PFS seems to be the watermark of the wider game.

I'm open to an FAQ ruling.

While it works in theory, such things rarely work in practice. Why? Outside influences. It's chaos math, basically. In the years it would take some sorcerer to work out his "technique" he would doubtless make quite a few enemies who didn't take well to his undermining of their local influence: gangsters, crooks, politicians, wizards, etc. In a world of magic, there are plenty of ways to detect its influence.

Google "Jesus sorcerer" for a bit of history on this.

From a GMs perspective, I'd let you get away with this for a while, but then I'd use it as an excuse to make you some fun enemies.

Inquisitors of Pharasma show up investigating the demise of three notorious and wanted vampires. Church is impressed with adventurers.

Opportunity is offered to "finish the job" by traveling to the astral plane to eliminate the villain holding those vampires souls (because magic). Adventurers bodies will be kept safe and negative levels removed in the meantime-- using artifact unique to that particular church.

-solves problem
-makes new friends
-exciting new adventure

For demoralizing, sure. Every urban setting (or rural town) may have a thug or two, or even a member of the upper-class who doesn't want to be bothered. A quick Intimidation check to "send a message" and I award the player with a "Shaken" Condition Card.

In-fact, lots of demoralizing going around in Crimson Throne. It's kind of like our modern world, in that a person's PRESENCE and AUTHORITY is projected more often than you think, even innocuous social settings.

Imagine PCs trying to get aboard a ship, and the harbor master putting up his hand and saying "This is my harbor, not yours. Do I need to call the city watch?" It's not a combat situation, but it's about someone swinging their weight around.

I am imagining the drum machine from metalocalypse.

It sounds to me like they weren't having a good time, and decided to leave.

A lack of face-to-face social interaction is one of the reasons I have migrated away from online gaming in general. There is fun to be had, but some people don't seem to understand that sitting in your home instead of at a table with friends doesn't give you the excuse to not show up on time, or to goof off.

Game Master wrote:

What's morally wrong about drawing an unholy symbol? What harm does that actually cause? What's morally wrong about pouring unholy water on someone? Does this impinge on someone's freedom, or comfort, or security?

"Inherently evil" isn't interesting. It's not good storytelling and it doesn't make characters hesitate due to the consequences of their actions.

The "small sacrifice to a devil" idea makes me think, though. What if instead of devil's blood, the material component was the blood of an animal the caster had sacrificed in Asmodeus's name? The wizard needs to catch a squirrel and sacrifice it to a devil to use his spell (the blood can be stored in the component pouch between adventures, perhaps, but it'd be part of the background of the ability. Rolled into his spell preparations and component gathering, maybe).

Inherent evil really IS the crux of the matter and moreover it's an artifact left over from the very beginning of D&D. Orcs and goblins are inherently evil. How do we know? Detect Evil tells us so. Kill them!

Is it interesting? Enh. Your mileage may vary with your philosophy. But evil isn't necessarily just impinging on someone's freedom, comfort or security. In a more medieval sense, it's INVITING something else in. Drawing an unholy symbol is making evil that much more "real" in the world. Uttering "evil" words is inviting an evil spirit within you, so others should make the sign against the evil eye, etc.

Let's not forget the material component of Infernal Healing is demon's blood. How does the caster get this component? Why, through the evil act of summoning, bargaining for, purchasing or otherwise getting a substance that is inherently evil, even if just from someone else (who must be evil, or he wouldn't have it). When evil becomes tangible and quantifiable, it actually makes storytelling a bit easier (if a little less interesting).

I myself like to imagine that using Infernal Healing causes nasty, painful scars that flare up whenever the recipient says or does something good--reminding him or her that they accepted such magic and that dark agents have a little hook into their immortal soul...

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It's as Wraithstrike said: You can evade so long as you're not helpless.

Even a tanglefoot bag and quicksand do not render a character helpless, so this is one of those things where the rules abut common sense. I've learned to simply nod and move on with the game.

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