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RPG Superstar 9 Season Star Voter. Organized Play Member. 44 posts (195 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 3 aliases.


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For instance, a lesser bestial mutagen gives you a more savage aspect with greater muscle mass, granting you a +2 item bonus to Athletics checks and unarmed attack rolls and increasing the amount of damage die you roll for such attacks, but this new form is clumsy and lumbering, imparting a -1 penalty to Acrobatics, Stealth, and Thievery checks, as well as to AC and Reflex saves.

I would discourage Paizo developers from adding any abilities as modifier-complex as the above. (+2 to Athletics, +2 to unarmed attacks, +1 die size for unarmed attacks, -1 to Acrobatics, -1 to Stealth, -1 to Thievery, -1 to Armor Class, -1 to Reflex Saves)

Even in the age of digital pads and auto-calculating character sheets, keeping track of the modifiers from a couple of such spells/effects takes away from the game. Players get busy with math instead of being in the moment, and combat pauses while everyone makes sure they get it all sorted correctly. No thanks, keep it simple(r) please.

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Here's my heartfelt recommendation: Trust your players and leave it to them, it eventually becomes a problem when you make it your job.

One campaign we ran to completion and level 21, I've let players have no restrictions. They had fun, but as the 3 year campaign went on, it became a ridiculous amount of work to design encounters around their power levels and all their cool tricks. Way WAY too much work to do a proper job of it, and you spend all your time doing encounter math instead of NPC motivations, story and descriptions, etc. Also, at some point, all those powers, spells and abilities remove your ability to give fights flavor or unique twists and scenarios, because the party has a way to neutralize or counter everything imaginative. They're having a blast crushing the opposition, but the DM starts not to, because the amount of work you need to sink into prepping a single encounter begins to approach a full work day, and if you're a fair DM, the party may avoid that encounter or overcome it in a way you didn't account for. Which, yay for the party, but nothing like seeing 6 hours of prep boil down to a "No thanks, we move on". LOL, DM life, right?

So, after that campaign, my "DM" lesson was: Forget adjusting to the party's power level, that will drive you mad eventually. Take an AP as written and call it a day. You'll have fun, they'll have fun and all is well.

Except you start to worry that halfway through the party will get bored of how easy everything is. By level 12, they can probably handle the last fight in the AP, and by level 18, they'll win it before the BBEG gets to act. So you figure out cool "creative" ways to limit PC power.

Hey, intricate stat system. Yay, no PFS-like shopping for gear. Hey-no full casters allowed. No invisibility and fly spells/powers before level X. All the stuff that caused you a DM headache in the last campaign.

Except that is also a mistake. Players really don't enjoy that sort of thing, to the point that one bowed out of the campaign because he just wasn;t having fun. And you know, I learned that lesson too late but I learned it. Don't impose limits on your players that are above/beyond what is in the rules/PFS.

Finally, my solution is the one I should have stumbled on in the first place. Run an AP that is NOT adjusted to the party's power levels, and tell them that is the case. That makes it easy for you to concentrate on prepping story, RP, NPCs personalities and motivations instead of the math of encounter balance. It's easy for your players to aim for the expected power level, because you've just told them what it will be. Leave the character creation up to them, and trust them to police themselves. Players in a group of friends would prefer for Timmy the Barbarian to tell the wizard that he'd rather storm the castle than invisible-gaseous form through it, than to have the DM ban the spell combo.

Hope this helps.

The simplest solution may be to treat the practice sword as an "Improvised Weapon" of the appropriate size. Probably not what you had in mind.

Otherwise, the world of Dark Sun made "wooden" versions of weapons take a -3 to hit, -3 to damage, and break on a natural 1 on the attack roll.

That's easy to remember.

The issue of conscription goes beyond whether and to what degree it mimics the conditions of slavery. The military does generally act like it owns it's soldiers, and has done so more often than not throughout history. That is not the only evil of conscription.

Where on the Pathfinder alignment scale would you place threatening someone with the use of force and/or other punishment in order to get them to kill people for you against their own will?

Does it fall in a different place if you're really desperate or you believe you have a good reason to force someone to kill for you?

For me, it's lawful evil, because the mantle of law, rules, society and duty is used to coerce and compel a person to kill against their will. Others will view the above, particularly for a good cause, as a lawful neutral, lawful good, or even simply a lawful act. Ultimately, the DM has to decide what it is in their game, and proceed based on that.

Really good thread though, really interesting read.

thejeff wrote:

You might gladly volunteer, but what of others who aren't so altruistic? If the war is just and you volunteer, but too many others choose not to do so out of cowardice or just out of the assumption that others will do so and therefore you and the noble volunteers are slaughtered and your land enslaved?

Part of what conscription in a just cause does is avoid the free-rider problem, where it's individually beneficial to avoid fighting, but beneficial to all to share the risks.

Mind you, if the cause is not a good cause, then conscription to fight for it is even less so.

I understand, and you've made a very good point, though I think conscription is the greater evil between free-riders and being forced to fight.

Aside from the above, it's interesting how often the argument of "we would have lost if we didn't do that" comes up in saying something necessary wasn't evil. We like to think of our necessary actions as not evil. Is it truly so?

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MichaelCullen wrote:
I take my views on the morality of conflict from Just War Theory. In Just War Theory one of the requirements for a "Just War" is that it must be declared by competent authority. If a nation has as its "competent authority" the votes of the people, then such a vote could suffice for the competent authority requirement.

I'm having trouble equating the justness of a war with the justness of conscription. A government coercing me into risking my life for a cause I don't agree with, attempting to kill other people whom I may not consider my enemies, and leaving behind my duties to my family and children on the basis that I will otherwise be jailed, shot, or lose my property isn't behaving in anything but an evil fashion.

If I agreed with the war, and thought of the other side as an enemy, the government wouldn't need to conscript me, I'd be fighting already. It's not my duty to help the "State" survive, I may even prefer a change in governance. (like an Iraqi citizen might have felt with Saddam)

I feel my first duty is to my family, the second to the people that are my neighbors and form my community. A government that bullies it's way to the front of my "duty" list through threats of reprisal against me is being evil. One that convinces me without coercion to volunteer for a just war is not.

thejeff wrote:
Actually, that was intended as the justification for conscription laws (or laws establishing local militia, generally consisting of all able-bodied citizens), not as an rally the troops speech.

That's interesting. I'm thinking about how a popular vote would affect the morality of conscription. Would forcing the will of the majority onto the minority be neutral, compared to forcing the will of the state onto the people? Interesting.

"Because if we all go to the walls and fight the raiders we'll likely mostly survive, but if half of us hide in our homes the rest will be slaughtered and the town will be sacked and the survivors dragged off into slavery."

Yes, exactly. Great example of convincing people to do something in their common interest without forcing them to via conscription. The boundary between good and evil lies whether this bit of logic and inspiration stands on it's own, or is followed up by: "and so, I'll just kill any man who won't fight here and now and save you the trouble, coward!"


As for Paladins, if conscription is Evil, then the paladin falls if she participates in it. (Probably not just fighting beside, but participating in press gangs or the like.) The God's Code doesn't change that. A paladin can also fall for violating her Code in ways that aren't explicitly Evil. The Code does not provide protection for Evil deeds.

I very much like your differentiation between participation and tolerance of the conscription. I would say being responsible for the adoption of conscription, one of the architects of the policy, is pretty serious for a Paladin. I would still excuse a Paladin of Gorum, because that God asks his Paladins to start wars, which is some boss-level type of evil. What's a little conscription for war to Gorum?

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Fun Question, here's my two cents:

Yes, conscription is an evil act, very representative of lawful evil. Arguments like "for the greater good", "out of necessity" , "because we face an existential threat" and "because the enemy cannot be allowed to continue their evil ways" generally call for something that is inherently wrong to be tolerated due to the circumstances. In other words, your little nation needs to do this evil thing to survive and win.

If people freely wanted to go to war, let them volunteer. Conscripting is using the threat of punishment to make someone fight that doesn't want to. It's an effective coercive tactic, and is evil. It being common in the real world speaks to it's efficacy, not it's morality.

The "good" option in your campaign is to use Diplomacy to inspire people to volunteer for the war effort.

Would the Paladin fall? Depends on their god and tenets. A Paladin of Gorum wouldn't fall, but one whose tenets espoused freedom, fighting oppressive rule and tyranny, or opposing slavery probably would. Thankfully, Paladins in Golarion have some moral flexibility.

To give you some maths that may help:
The dead average damage for a sneak attack with a short sword is 10.5, before any bonuses from strength or other sources. That is enough to take a level 1 PC from full health to unconsciousness in one hit the majority of the time.

The encounter with two burglars is your chance to really make the party feel the danger of sneak attacks, as the bruglars can successfully knock one party member unconscious and still be badly outnumbered (and killed or chased off) by the rest of the group. The point of the encounter is to kind of teach/validate the tactical threat.

In the subsequent boss encounter, the problem is that you're combining the ability to one-shot players while they're already at a numbers disadvantage. This is why I think the threat of the boss using the sneak attack should be implied but not really used. Make the party afraid of it, make them sweat and worry about their positioning, but don't one shot them.

This isn't so much about the raw mechanics of the boss (2d6 vs 1d6 sneak attacks), but how you choose to use/play him. Remember, as DM your job isn't to play the bad guys to be effective, but instead fun and memorable.

At least that's my two cents on it.

The only fight to really present a challenge to the party is the last one with the four rangers and their boss. In every other encounter, the party outnumbers the enemy and (presumably) outclasses them too.

Your last fight can swing wildly depending on the following:
Is the party rested and prepared for the final fight?
Are the rangers built for melee or ranged?
Will they get favored enemy bonuses against the party?
Will the boss rogue get opportunities to apply sneak attack?

The last one is really critical, as any 1st level PC is going down to a sneak attack from a level 3 rogue.

If you want to make the fight tense, loudly mention how the enemies are "clearly" trying to help their boss to get a deadly strike in. Give the party opportunities to tactically prevent the big bad from gaining flank, and only punish them if they are terribly inept or don't care about the clear warning.

I assume the four rangers are each outclassed by the PCs, so the boss is the factor that evens things out and makes the fight deadly, depending on whether he gets to use his sneak attack to effect. Lastly, if the party has tricks to keep the boss out of the fight, such as a sleep hex, then it will be an easier fight than you think for them.

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Yes, ask him to GM the game, in fact, insist on it. He sounds like he wants to be running the show anyway, and it would be inconvenient to kick him out. You relax, roll up a character of your own, and let him do the hard work. He can play cool battle songs on his laptop, look up images and handouts online in the middle of a session, and generally everything that bothers you now would be fine if he was GMing. If he isn't paying attention to what the party is doing, it will make his monsters less effective too, so bonus.

Otherwise, I would not continue playing with this person. You can't be "Captain I-Will-Fix-A-Player". It's been 5 years, and you've been too polite, almost too accommodating. I understand it's a relationship, but just like any relationship, you have to end the abusive ones even if it hurts to do so.

My 2 cents, anyway.

Perhaps this might be an interesting way of handling it:

Successful Passive Check: "Something seems off here, though you aren't sure if it's just your nerves getting to you."

Failed Passive Check when there isn't anything: "Something seems off here, though you aren't sure if it's just your nerves getting to you."

Active Check Passed: "You notice a hole in the far wall that looks suspiciously like an arrow-slit for a trap mechanism....and the tiles ahead are likely pressure plates that set off the trap!"

Active Check Failed by a little: "You notice a hole in the far wall that looks suspiciously like an arrow-slit for a trap mechanism....and that door on the far end would trigger the trap when opened!"

Active Check Failed by more than 5: "It was just a feeling, this time!"

And add a variety of the above so trap searching stays flavorful, and isn't reduced to a immersion-destroying mechanic. Of course, this doesn't address the difference in trap DC and perception DC problems, and honestly, you're getting into homebrew rules territory to fix that problem.

Example: Trapfinding chance: 50% plus perception minus trap DC

Journey to the Center of the Earth style delve into the Darklands and below.

I will submit that the original premise is flawed because it compares two identical characters and the comparative benefit to each character individually. This is an incorrect basis because the foundation of the game is the adventuring party.

The correct comparison should be what is the overall benefit to the party. In this case, both wizards contribute to making the party stronger and more effective. The party can accomplish more and secure more treasure against tougher enemies. The party can take larger risks and survive harder challenges.

Both wizard A and B gain large benefits through the choice of their respective feats. Wizard A gains the benefit of both his own and Wizard B's feats, and Wizard B gains the benefit of both his own and Wizard A's feats. Every other member of the adventuring party also gains the benefit's of both Wizard's feats. and they, in turn, benefit from the feats of the fighters, clerics and rogues.

Looking at the matter from the party perspective, there is no basis for charging more than cost for item creation, as it simply moves WBL from being evenly spread throughout the party, onto a single character. Because of the way item pricing works, the party is generally worse off if it concentrates wealth on a single character.

The first campaign I DM'd, I let players have powerful characters with a lot of freedom of choice in allowing splat-books and even 3rd party materials.

The campaign went 1-20 and was a good success, but many problems became apparent from behind the DM screen. I had an increasingly difficult time challenging players as their powers increased, which eventually culminated in a final boss that they say they enjoyed, but was truly exhausting to put together in a rules-valid way and I thought was a bit of Dm-BS territory in contingency spells, wishes and spell immunities to even make it a challenge. In addition, I had to invest more and more time in re-writing and "fine-tuning" the AP, as their power level and certain key powers made later challenges trivial without a lot of finessing. High level play is a mess without a ton of DM work, but it also taught me a lot.

I won't DM that type of game again. I now firmly believe in under-powered PCs. APs are written to a low power level, and I'd rather invest my time into telling a better story with well played NPCs, thinking of mood, setting, presentation and atmosphere than investing time into scaling the power levels of everything up.

I also won't allow spells and abilities that make key story points trivial, that make key combat encounters trivial, and that solve certain key puzzles or mysteries with no effort. That gets tailored to the adventure and where the party is in a campaign. It may seem harsh to read, but makes for a better game. The party is challenged, the key combats are tough and close, puzzles/challenges/mysteries are real milestones.

I did lose a player in making the switch, who did not enjoy the new limitations, lower power level and also theme of the new AP (Iron Gods). For my part, I am having more fun, and every key fight and scene has been a victory the PCs really earned. I have a lot more time to think of the NPCs motivations, the plot and story, and I don't have to spend hours doing CR-math calculus.

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I'll drop in my 2 cents:
Contributing isn't just battle, it's roleplaying his character's personality, its being a fun person around the table, its talking out party ideas and strategies, its talking to NPCs and solving puzzles.

He wants to play a weak fighter, some people want to play ugly bards and dumb mages. It happens.

In nearly all games there are one or two characters who can't contribute much to combat and people don't complain because their class isn't called "fighter". You've got a fighter who isn't a melee powerhouse because he clearly doesn't want to be. Combat is typically a big part of Pathfinder, but not this players main focus, or he'd care to build for it. He isn't "terrible", he isn't "low-skill". This game isn't supposed to be a spreadsheet of character combat efficiency. However, he isn't a good fit for your group. This isn't a small problem as the disparity has caused you to have a pretty clear feeling of contempt for him. This can be patched, but ultimately someone isn't going to be having fun and it will affect the whole table/game.

The question is, a. can this player have fun playing "your" way? and b. is everyone else as bothered by this character as you are.

Depending on the answer to these questions, you can figure out whether the best way forward is to re-build his character, leave him alone, remove him politely from the game, or remove yourself.


Thanks Ravingdork!
Makes it nice and easy to calculate too.

Simple question, I hope:

Does the Kineticist's ability to Metamagic Empower their blast apply to the base ability damage only (Xd6+X+CON)


Or does it apply to the final damage including modifiers from Elemental Overflow, abilities like Fire's Fury and feats like Point-Blank Shot?

Thanks in advance for your help in answering this.

Hey, I'm running the campaign now for some friends, and although they haven't had your luck in the casino, I think I can be of help. Torch has some special rules listed in regards to base value and purchase limit in its section of the AP. Considering those restraints, and how well described Torch is in the book, I thought it more flavorful to write up the "actual" store availability list of special items.

This is a list of the magic and technological items available for sale by going through the book and picking out NPC's personal gear and what's listed for the stores in the AP:

Here it is in hopefully useful fashion:
Ion Tape (50')
Skillslot (Surgery not Included)
Skillchip Mark I, Engineering
Zipstick, Fully Charged
Torpinal, 1 Injector with Dose
Universal Serum, 1 Injector with Dose
Vitality Serum, 1 Injector with 1 Dose
5 Batteries, All Fully Charged
2 Sunrods
Cloak of the Hedge Wizard (Abjuration)
Trauma Pack x5
Wand of Technomancy (41 charges)
Filter Mask [Unpowered]
Flaming Warhammer +1
Hemochem I
Hemochem II
Hemochem III
Hemochem IV
Cardioamp x2
Medlances x6
Potion of Cure Light Wounds x3
Antitoxin x3
Numerian Fluid
Flare Gun
Scroll of Find Traps (CL 10)
Scroll of Restoration x3
Scroll of Raise Dead
Wand of Rebuke Technology (11 charges)
Cold Siccatite Longsword +1
Masterwork Heavy Crossbow, Ornate
Adamantine Crossbow Bolts x30
Construct Bane Adamantine Dagger +1
Breastplate +2
Mithral Chain Shirt +1
Spiked Light Steel Shield +2
Masterwork Rapier
Studded Leather Armor +1
Adamantine Warhammer +1

lordofthemax wrote:
Bearserk wrote:

Yeah, the hundreds of roleplying games without an alignment system must be unplayable.... ^^

This is a fair point. However, if you actually take a look at your characters in these games, they will almost always fit into one of the 9 alignments. Pathfinder's system is simply there to make things easier, not harder. For example, if a cleric casted "Detect Evil", without the alignment system it would be up to the GM to decide what is evil and what isn't. It's there to make things a bit easier, and unfortunately many misunderstand it's purpose, thus making the game harder instead.

I just want alignment to be designed as an optional system in Starfinder, so that it is there for those who enjoy it and not a burden on those that don't. To make it optional, the game needs to stop integrating alignment into it's spells, classes, abilities and magic/tech items so heavily

Starfinder can be slightly different, so that alignment is a tool to help you design and define a character if you need it, but one that does not have mechanical consequences in gameplay.

You can do a lot to design away from the need for alignment and toward it being optional. As for one example of how, a "Detect Evil" ability can be re-flavored, you can go for some options:
1. Make it an ability that reads micro-expressions and works like "Detect Hostility"
2. Make it like Warhammer40k and make versions to "Detect Demonic Presence / Corruption" and "Detect Angelic Presence / Taint".
3. Keep it very similar but remove the alignment focus, and instead have it inform you which people your god accepts and which they reject, call it "Divine Judgement".

In Pathfinder, tying down mechanics to the alignment system makes arguments about it necessary. For example, did that Paladin fall, is casting that spell evil, is this action chaotic, etc. It becomes important, because there are consequences that aren't just story/plot related tied to it. Mandatory alignment just doesn't offer any benefit for me to outweigh the problems it causes.

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Please make alignment fully optional in Starfinder. In other words, do not make classes that require a certain alignment (they can still follow a code of behavior), do not make spells that function based off of alignment (instead use friend/foe).

The alignment system is a net negative. It creates more arguments at the table than anything it offers in return. It's an unsolvable problem because, as any forum post on the topic demonstrates, we each have widely differing opinions of what good, evil, lawful and chaotic mean and where each begins and ends. Its a part of the game that doesn't need to be there.

Thank you!

Grumbaki wrote:

(1) Can you be lawful good and threaten children with bodily harm/death?

(2) Different deities can be lawful good and have different points of view...

1. Yes, parents do that all the time when raising kids. It's really more of whether it's all talk or whether you're willing to do it. Being willing to hurt children is generally outside of the realm of "good".

2. In my opinion, this is kind of a problem in Pathfinder. Torag, a LG deity, states principles that are not the "traditional" virtues associated with being a good person (no mercy, no surrender, scatter their families with honor.) Pathfinder insists that this is still lawful good behavior, so okay I guess? For me, that's pretty solidly neutral on the good-evil scale. However, I would only make that sort of ruling in a home game and would have discussed with my players what the boundaries are well ahead of time.

3. I would also point out that you shooting the baddies in the head as they pass out flowers isn't typically lawful behavior either, as trial-less executions are probably not the common law in that town. However, once again Pathfinder has guidelines that Torag would consider this lawful behavior. I may not like it as a GM, but in a PFS game I wouldn't change your alignment.

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A Quest for the Holy Grail style adventure path where the group are or travel with a group of Vikings on a long-ship (like 13th warrior?) and visit/explore many exotic locales such as Arcadia, Garund, Casmaron, the ruins of Azlant, Tian Xia and Sarusan.

You can organize it so that the group travels to one new continent/area per book. Consider it a world tour of Golarion taken to locate some ancient artifact, each location once a former stop for the artifact before it (and the party) move on to the next place. A grand quest, like for the holy grail, except the party doesn't split up :D

Whether you *need* to maximize is really dependent on the DM and fellow players. If your DM is running a campaign where high optimization is expected and the encounters are very tough, then you need to optimize. If your DM is running an Adventure Path and doesn't plan on making it tougher than written, you absolutely do not need to optimize and a 16 stat is fine. If your fellow players will optimize, then you need to as well. If they won't, you shouldn't.

The best advice I can give you is to talk with your fellow players and the DM to figure out what everyone is aiming for, and tailor your character build from that conversation.

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How about some optional disadvantages, such as phobias, delusions and various forms of insanity? That would be pretty cool to consider when making a character, and you can design ones that happen to really work well within the AP. If you're feeling extra generous, maybe each can grant a minor boon as well.

In my experience, it's not so much ability scores that you have to look at, but the comparative combat statistics of the party against what they will face in the adventure. Those stats can come from ability scores, items, feats, traits and everything else under the sun. When players have too high (or low) a chance to hit in melee, too high (or low) a chance to make saves, or their spell DCs are too high (or low), too much (or too little) damage output, that's what breaks the fun. Things either become too easy and boring, or too hard and frustrating. You'll often hear the advice that you should simply compensate with clever tactics, terrain, situations, timers, templates, extra minions, etc.

In the beginning, when the imbalance is relatively minor, those are easy and good ideas. However, if anything is true of Pathfinder, it's that as the levels rise, the imbalance between PCs and the bad guys inevitably grows. As a DM, you will find it increasingly difficult to adjust for, deal with and account for that growing power imbalance so that everyone has fun. It will also cause you to spend more and more time on "balancing" instead of being a good storyteller and thinking about the narrative you're trying to tell. It is even more problematic when some of your party are at an "elite" tier of power while some members are average or below. The weaker players will have their fun somewhat stolen by the stronger ones, and your job will be to continue to find ways for the weaker characters to shine. It's something every DM should care about and do, but if you can address the issue before it becomes an issue, you save yourself a lot of trouble.

Limiting players to a max of 18 after adjustments is a very good policy, in my experience. However, what you're really after is to have an understanding and gentlemen's agreement between yourself and your players as to what power levels you're all aiming for. Both you and your players have to keep to the agreed power curve. If they break the agreement, they won't find the adventure challenging and you'll have a lot more prep work, for the whole campaign. If you break your word on the power curve, you betray the trust of your players, and the game becomes "vs. the GM" instead of a co-operative one. If your fighters are hitting on a 5+, killing bad guys in one full attack, it's too much. If the bad guys only save on a 16+ from the player's spells, it's too much. If your monsters can take a PC from full health to dead in one full attack, it's too much. You want the balance to be in the party's favor about 60% to 40% for most of the math.

Hope that helps. It's a lot of work to kind of learn what makes for appropriate numbers at first, but eventually you get a natural feel for it.

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There is an inherent problem in the "math" of Pathfinder/d20.

Imagine you have two level 3 fighters. One has a +7 to hit and the other a +13. As GM, you've got one number, Armor Class, that's going to matter how much they hit the monsters. You've got to make the AC too easy for one of them, or too hard for the other.

There is no downside to designing your melee hero to be the +13 guy, just "optimal" choices. The "math" of the game mostly reinforces the idea that the rules reward the "optimized" more than they reward the +7 guy, because good role-playing is not really stat-dependent, but the combat is.

Maybe one way to make Starfinder better is to make stats and combat scale less linearly, and more like rock-paper-scissors? What if as you scale up one value to get better, another value(s) diminish slightly. Or put another way, what if you have a "Pool" to allocate between accuracy, damage and number of attacks.

Using the example of the two fighters, maybe the +7 to hit guy has that +7 because he hits for more damage, or attacks more often, whereas the +13 guy got his very high accuracy in exchange for slower, less damaging attacks.

In Pathfinder, the +13 guy is strictly better than the +7 guy. In Starfinder, maybe they both can have a place.

Thanks for reading.

Gisher wrote:
(Out of curiosity, why are you going to use the buckler arm instead of the other?)

I am presuming the other hand will be busy holding/using a melee weapon. If I switch my melee weapon to the shield hand, draw a dagger and throw it, then switch hands again, aren't I just cheesing my way around the buckler penalty?

Easy Question, I hope:

If someone throws a weapon, such as a dagger at an enemy using their buckler-equipped hand, does that ranged attack suffer the -1 to hit penalty from the Buckler?

It seems clear in the case of hand-to-hand fighting, less so for thrown attacks.

Thanks in advance.

In reply to Claxon:
Yes, I agree I need to tone town the downside on bird-boned and large lungs. Not all of my ideas are going to be winners, and that's ok. The player that brought up this idea likes a little of that 1st ed. old-school style hazardous consequences in their game, so some of the possibilities for the quirks are supposed to be bad. Something like the original deck of many things. To be fair, I'm giving everyone a choice whether they want to roll on the d100 table of quirks or not, but the result, once rolled, is part of that character for better or worse.

In reply to Prof. Lowenzahn:
Thanks for pointing out the ones with cool potential and for the additional ideas!

Dear Paizo community,
I am a DM about to start the Iron Gods campaign for my players. One of them thought it would be really cool to add a random oddity or quirk to their characters, in homage to the strange qualities you could add in many old school rpgs, such as fallout. I love the idea.

I've come up with a few examples, but I could really use the communities help and creativity with making many more! Ideally, it would be awesome to have enough to fill out a d100 table. These quirks can run the gamut of terrible, fantastic, strange, useful, burdensome, interesting and everything in between.

Here is what I came up with so far, can you write more of your own for my group (and anyone else) to use? Thank you so much!

Quirks and Oddities

Bird-Boned “You get a broken jaw from a stiff slap, and falling down stairs is a recurring nightmare for you. At least in the right wind, and with a running start, you feel like you can almost fly.”
Benefit(s): You weigh 30% less than normal; You gain a +5 bonus on Jump checks; You gain a +2 bonus on Fly checks; You take 1d6 less falling damage than usual
Drawback(s): You have a weakness to bludgeoning damage (50% more)

Hemophiliac “You always bruised easily and your nosebleeds would last for hours. Your blood is thin and runny, and every time you cut yourself it’s always a struggle to get the wound to stop bleeding.”
Benefit(s): None
Drawback(s): All bleed effects continue for 2 rounds after they would have otherwise stopped.

Hater of Doors: “What is best in life? The sound of splintering wood, the crushing of portals, and the lamentation of former door owners. For some reason, you’ve always hated closed doors, likely due to some unremembered childhood trauma. Maybe you’re just crazy. Now you treat all closed doors as a mortal enemy and a personal affront. You’ve spent a lot of time in jail for property damage. “
Benefit(s): You roll twice on strength checks to force open a door, taking the better result; You always deal a critical hit when attempting to sunder doors.
Drawback(s): If you ever try and fail to open a closed door in one shot, (via sunder or strength check), you become shaken as you lose faith in yourself. This penalty lasts until you successfully defeat a door in one shot.

Large Lungs: “You have lungs like bellows, and they have served you well every time you went swimming or diving. If you could only breathe fire, you’d be the mightiest dragon.”
Benefit(s): You can hold your breath twice as long as usual; Any breath attacks you make have their cone or line effect increased by 50%
Drawback(s): In combat and other physically exciting situations, roll a d20 at the start of your turn, on a result of 1, you momentarily pass out. You become prone and staggered for your turn, and drop what you were holding.

Thrill-seeker: “It’s better to burn out, than to fade away. You’ve always felt that life is only thrilling when you’re riding the edge of death. Safe is boring, you live for risk.’
Benefit(s): If you’re below 50% hit points, gain a +1 bonus on your d20 rolls.
Drawback(s): If you’re at full hit points, take a -1 penalty on your d20 rolls.

Odd Glow: “There are places in the world where you simply start glowing like a faint will-o-wisp, usually in the Numerian Wastes or next to technological items and scrap.”
Benefit(s): Whenever you’re within an area of radiation, you give off dim light in a 10’ radius.
Drawback(s): None

Free Fated: “You’ve always felt like you had an extraordinary will and an ability to control your own fate, to bend luck to your bidding. Maybe you’re just extraordinarily confident.”
Benefit(s): You can control your fate to re-roll any d20 roll as a free action, keeping the better result. Doing so earns you a Debt Token.
Drawback(s): The DM can use a Debt Token to force you to re-roll any d20 roll, keeping the worse result. You cannot Control your Fate while you have a Debt Token.

Alcoholic: “You’ve hit the bottle so long you’ve nearly forgotten what being sober is like.”
Benefit(s): You can consume twice the alcohol as usual without becoming drunk.; You gain a +2 diplomacy bonus in bars, taverns, parties and with fellow connoisseurs.; You gain a +1 bonus on saves vs. poison
Drawback(s): You take a -1 penalty on saves vs. disease; You must consume alcohol each day or you take 2 points of Constitution damage from withdrawal. You are too far gone to quit without it killing you.

Light Sleeper: “You awaken at the slightest sound, at the gentlest breeze or even a shadow passing over you. It’s a curse and you envy others restful sleep.”
Benefit(s): You automatically awaken when anything at all is wrong. You can wear earplugs and a sleeping mask to intentionally lose this benefit.
Drawback(s): You gain the fatigued condition for the following day, due to your inability to get proper sleep. You can wear earplugs and a sleeping mask to intentionally lose this drawback.

Hodor: “Some people are fat, some people are big boned, but you’re clearly just a small giant.”
Benefit(s): You are treated as one size bigger for purposes of CMD, BAB, AC and Natural Attack Dice
Drawback(s): You have never squeezed into anywhere, and you never will.

Know-It-All: “You know a lot of useful information, odd pieces of knowledge and obscure trivia. The problem is that when you don’t know something, you just give it your best guess instead of admitting your ignorance.”
Benefit(s): You roll two dice when making knowledge checks.
Drawback(s): The DM secretly and randomly picks which of your two rolls is used.

Heartbomb: “At one point in your life you’ve had a particularly critical need to implant an explosive into your body that would explode if you died. Eventually, the need passed, and the bomb stayed.”
Benefit(s): If anyone kills you, they’ll die too. You bomb explodes for 10d6 fire damage in a 30’ radius. Anyone affected can take half damage with a Reflex Save DC of 15 + your character level.
Drawback(s): There won’t be much left of your body for a nice funeral.

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APs too long?
No, they are not. As a DM, I can see most of the APs taking between 9 months to 2 years, depending on how I pace the story and how much content I add or skip. That's a really nice range of time for a full campaign.

In our Kingmaker campaign, we just passed the two year mark, but the players got really involved in the kingdom, wanted to get to level 20 and adventure there for a while, so I used the wealth of additional information and potential stories in the AP to extend the fun for them.

It is always easier to run a good campaign when there is a lot of material to work with, and the more you have, the easier it is to pick things to skip. With more detailed content, it is easier to flesh out stories that fit extremely well within the campaign if you want to add time.

The icing on the cake is that within the time one campaign takes place, your PCs have two to three new campaigns to pick from, typically each with their own unique flavor and style. My group opted for Iron Gods next.

By the time that's done, we'll have plenty more to choose from. I think the current AP model is really as good as it gets.

Star Voter Season 9

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Trekkie90909 wrote:


Solid. Using the ability is boring; it’d be more interesting if there were more player interaction involved than ‘activate as a standard action.’ This is especially true as there’s little descriptive imagery to draw the reader into the item.

Does this add something to the game?

Definitely; this is a strong item at the level you can get it, and while it drops off in effectiveness (as things get huge fort save bonuses) the penalties remain potent all the way to 20. Better, there’s nothing like this in the game.

Would I want this in my games?
As a Player?

I favor static bonuses over variable to a significant extent; the dice REALLY hate me. That said, in terms of the ‘active which screws enemies over’ items I saw this year, this was hands down the best. I’d be tempted to get it, so I’m sure others would. Maybe if this were some kind of reactive penalty I could hit others with when they tumble past me, or cast spells in my direction.

As a GM?

It’s neat; I could see putting it on law enforcement officials. Heck, I could see this inspiring a lot of city-guard related itemizations. That said, it mostly favors the side with greater action economy since burning a standard action for a highly situational short...

Thank you for the review. I really appreciate you taking your time to give an honest appraisal, it helps me to get better at design. I'm glad the idea was solid, and I will work on making future items more interesting, both in their visualization and in the method of their use. Now I'm going to spend some time thinking about how I might do that with this item as practice.

Star Voter Season 9

Wolin wrote:

Armour of Burden

This I thought had promise. It's a fairly simple concept, but one that is well described flavourwise. Nice and easy to picture it.

Mechanically I feel it works very well. Clear and concise. It's an interesting anti-arcane caster ability - make them suffer that hefty 40% spell failure chance! I think you probably did a good job of not making it hugely exploitable by arcane casters dumping it on their familiars or...

Thanks Wolin. I thought it would be pretty useful against most melee threats too, since relatively few classes and monsters are heavy armor proficient, and would incur a hefty to-hit penalty. Outside of combat, I figured the ability to relieve yourself of a swim check penalty or a climb penalty might be handy in some situations. Thanks for upvoting me and for the critique!

Star Voter Season 9

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Hello and thank you for your thoughts, advice and critique of my item:

Armor of Burden
Aura faint necromancy; CL 5th
Slot armor; Price 6750 gp; Weight 45 lbs.
This +1 Splint Mail is embossed with an image of a squire carrying the equipment of his knight. Once per day, the wearer of the armor may command it to impose its burden upon a creature within 120 feet. That creature must make a DC 14 Fortitude saving throw, or suffer the -6 armor check penalty, 40% arcane spell failure chance, and any non-proficiency penalty as if they were wearing a suit of Splint Mail for 1d4 rounds. While another creature is so affected, the Armor of Burdens imposes no armor check penalty or arcane spell failure chance upon its wearer.
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Bestow Curse, Spectral Hand; Cost 3375 gp

Star Voter Season 9

Ran into the best Monster-in-a-Can I have ever read. That's how to do it properly mysterious designer! Great job!

Thank you Claxon and voideternal.

Rephrasing: My player believes that a ranged attacker or a spellcaster would be harmed by the prismatic sphere if they attack the wizard within it (using spells or ranged attacks). The player's argument in favor of this is the quote in the prismatic sphere spell description that states "Other creatures that attempt to attack you... suffer the effects of each color".

For what it's worth, I also do not believe that the player is correct, but wanted to do my due diligence here on the boards.

I was asked for a ruling on the Prismatic Sphere and Prismatic Wall spells from one of my players, and I need some advice.

The question is whether all (ranged, magic, melee) attacks targeting the wizard suffer the effects of the seven colors, or just melee attacks passing through the sphere or wall. The spell text from Prismatic Sphere states that "Other creatures that attempt to attack you or pass through suffer the effects of each color, one at a time."

My natural inclination is to assume this means or was intended to mean melee attacks, even ones from large creatures with a lot of reach. However, my player believes this means the prismatic sphere should also affect an archer attempting to shoot his wizard, or someone trying to cast a targeted spell at his wizard. I wanted to get a second, third and fourth opinion from fellow GMs and players. Thank you in advance for taking the time to reply.

I am looking for some advice from the community who have played at tables where the PCs and monsters had maximum HP per hit die. I am considering adding this feature to the next campaign I run, but I am unsure as to how the Pros and Cons work out in actual play.

The Pros that entice me to the idea:
1. Less chance of quick TPK
2. Less rocket tag from either side / Rebalance of damage vs. health
3. Tactics take on slightly more importance
4. Healing is less of an afterthought

The Cons seem to be:
1. Battles will last longer in game rounds and in table time
2. Healing takes up more resources

I can take some steps to help mitigate the length of the encounters, such as limiting how many people roll up characters with pets/mounts/familiars/summons. But is the fundamental trade off generally positive or generally negative?

Either way, thanks for taking the time to reply!

Saldiven wrote:
Paul Migaj wrote:

For the next game:
Going to try combat with grid-less maps. Same scale, with round templates, and no more talk of corners of squares and diagonals. It should be more elegant and immersive.
Out of curiosity, will you use a tape measure or ruler for movement, then templates or something to determine if you're in threat range, etc?

For movement: Eyeball it when it doesn't matter, tape measure for when it does.

For threat: For when it's not obvious visually, I plan on using a transparent plastic ruler to check the distance between the bases of figures. (Less than 1", less than 2", etc.)

For spells and effects: Transparent plastic circles of various diameters, with a 90 degree area marked off for cone effects. Tape measure or ruler for "line effects"

My favorite:
Ready - You do not have to declare the action or the trigger. You just ready and if something comes up you want to respond to, you can. It helps speed up play if you're unsure what you want to do. It can be used pretty creatively and hasn't shown itself to be game breaking or unbalanced so far. (Especially since the monsters get to do the same)

For the next game:
Going to try combat with grid-less maps. Same scale, with round templates, and no more talk of corners of squares and diagonals. It should be more elegant and immersive.

Looking for a NJ gaming/hobby store that will be running the pathfinder adventure card game season. I want to try the organized play and see how it goes. My commute takes me from the Maplewood / Union area down to Freehold / Jackson area. If you are a store running a game anywhere reasonably near the above areas, or know of one, please let me know.


Need some opinions on fleshing out a Cossack character.
Where would be the most appropriate homeland for such a character? Mendev?
I have the character using a scimitar and pistol, and being an excellent horseman.
What other feats, skills, equipment etc would you all suggest to fully represent the flavor of such a character and the Cossacks raiding culture?

I plan on making him a rogue with a level of gunslinger for just a touch of firearms. Would you also take levels of ranger or barbarian?

Thanks in advance.