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Sovereign Court

I'm reading through HolmesandWatson's article on dungeon delving and I've got to say its a great read. Check out his web/blog.

There's still much more to say about Gygaxian Dungeonmastery.... we've just scratched the surface here.

There are few things I love more than thread necromancy---thanks for the personal invitation HolmesandWatson.

Recently there's been chat about murderhobo, and the very phrase is one that's sure to send shivers up a DM's spine. Its not likable, its not sustainable nor realistic, its for certain a pejorative term, and long term, the DM will be unable to present a masterful gygaxian quasi-medieval fantasy world that can suspend disbelief for very long. Just the idea of players who mostly murder people, is, in fact, counterproductive to excellence in gaming. The milieu requires a morality system that leeks into law, government, popular opinion, social groups, factions, and the identify of the common-folk. So, those players interested in redeeming a so-called 'murder hobo' must first begin by deconstructing this stereotype of MMO and video game first-person-shooter, and construct a 3 dimensional character, as would a writer of fantasy literature. Only then can or should the DM be willing to extend plot to include the graces of great storytelling and have redemption as a key thread to the revitalization and rejuvenation of the character who has done grievous wrong and harm.

P.s. Hey Digitalelf!!


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Wrath wrote:

Fifth is beautiful to DM. So much more freedom in design and story telling. No more need to justify everything that's going on with a rules reference or stat boost item etc.

For me it gets back to the grass roots of what the game is. Characters confronting situations and solving them as best they can. It's less about finding that perfect combo of abilities and items to max your character than it is about roleplaying your character.

Players are free to try actions that Pathfinder wants them to have feats to accomplish.

For me it was awesome.

Some people prefer the complexity and challenge of building characters and having restricted options in combat though. For them, that is what makes the game fun. As such, they may not get as much out of fifth ed that I did.

Very intereating summary.

I had the opportunity to play-test 5e last night in one of those organized groups.

All I can say so far: Like Max Max it was shiny and chrome.

I caught a buzz opening my new shiney PHB for the first time in 10 years (ignoring 4e, and not counting the PFCRB).

Play was fast, fun, and easy. I felt like I could glance at the rules and instantly know and play them.

No rules barried in long winded narrative text and no crazy math + math _+ math + math.

Although I'm exicted I cannot yet evaluate it. I'm reading the PHB this week and will let you know. But those posts just above this one are certainly encouraging.

I GUESS I WENT THRILL SEEKING ---- and found something thrilling.

Could this be the solution?

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There were some very interesting ideas posted here, however, keep those ideas coming because...

> I kinda feel "shaken" a bit about GMing. I've been doing this for many years and I've hit some sort of wall that I still can't explain. No post so far has really hit on it.

> I'm interested in whether 5e might be a cure? I miss the days when I truly mastered the rules in the sense that the rules served me, not the other way around. I've heard good things and like what I see.

> I've got the gaming blues... but just like B.B.King sang about... just because someone has the blues doesn't mean they don't miss their girl. I'm saying that "not-playing" is definately NOT the answer. I miss the game... I miss that special D&D joy, and its been missing for some time. Recent developments have brought it to light, but I think the thrill is gone means something much deeper than just taking a break... taking a break would just be avoiding the problem and also stopping what I feel is my favorite hobby. I want it back, just like B.B.King sang about the girls he longed to hold. I want my D&D back!

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I'm caught up on reading-thanks to those who are contributing!

I like the part about players stepping up. When players get re-energized so does the GM. I like hearing that its just not the responsibility of the GM to bring the story.

I like the ideas to give more structure to the game stories. I've been reading up on story structure, and trying to get back to basics.

The coGM and I have been chatting about wrapping up campaigns. We've determined that attention spans for modern games are about 6 months, after which campaigns should end.

He's wrapping up his. I sent out a 4-page summary document that the players are loving. It appears there's been a lot of chaos in my campaign. I accept this. That's why I'm getting back to stronger modular adventure design within the context of a campaign--in this way I hope to deliver conclusions, and endings, and successes more strongly along the way, without blurring them in the ongoing saga.

I'm also watching this thread closely for the many things that spark ideas. The one thing I choose not to do is quit for a while. I'm fortunate to have a good group, good location to play (my game room), and I'm not hurting for ideas.

Right now I'm trying to decide to continue my campaign by adding 3 more modules then ending it, OR, just stopping abruptly and sending out a summary of things that might have happened. I told my players openly, "If I'm bored with it, chances are you are too. This summary will either ignite your interest to play it more, or toll the death knell for the campaign in favor of starting a new one."

So far:
1 vote - move on (from the coGM)
1 vote - continue only if there's consensus
1 vote - please continue, too good a story to end by mail

3 votes are still outstanding. I will keep you all posted.


Or is this just some normal phenomenon. I truly don't feel "burnt out", this feels a bit like that ennui that was mentioned, or perhaps I'm just fishing for more player support??? In a way, if suddenly all the players walked in totally jazzed to play, and gave 100% participation and preparation... I would probably get excited again too, but I can't be sure.

Just this second... I'm having an insight.




It feels like 2 things: 1) players can't or aren't able to appreciate the story and 2) I own dragging things on too long (caveat: each session has been jam-packed with adventure! So when I say dragged out, I don't mean lack of action or progress in sessions, I mean the over-arching plot has been very long and there have been some crazy lacks of understanding of what's happening in the mega-arc. And THAT'S something I own. Something I should definitely fix.

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Yes, the coGM has it right--that's a great place for a hiatus.
The interesting part to me is that in closure comes wanting/needing a break. I'm just saying that as time wears on... I've come to see things don't always get richer better, sometimes as players they just feel like a drag, because of the things you mention--life is pressing and after a time its hard to connect all the dots. (Mileage will vary, because there are some extremely sharp players out there who remember everything.)

Let me put the original question another way...

Its commonly known that gamers of all kinds get mini serotonin bursts when things are achieved. Its a principle that works in RL as well as online or video games, and I think applies to tabletop. Naturally, not everyone who does tabletop needs that much of a gaming buzz. That is, some folks just play to be social.

Could it be, however, that the amount of gaming, or the type/quality of gaming just isn't producing that euphoria/happiness/satisfaction because some distinct elements are missing?

And so I'm asking what would be those elements given the circumstances described? What would take away these blues based on your advice?

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I do think there's something to the structure of the evening, and its context within the campaign, and campaign style that needs improvement.

As a player, its obvious that I'm with the others who want closure--or some point at which an "adventure" delivers a complete and satisfying game" to borrow the words of Angry GM. (see link posted above)

And, I've spent the afternoon reviewing these comments, including the story structure posted above by @chbgraphicarts.

In sum there's:

  • Adventure
  • Encounters
  • Actions
  • Choices

    And these are driven by:

  • Motivation/Resolution

    Encounters are held together by

  • Structure

    As noted above each adventure has a:

  • Beginning, Middle, End

Sometimes these adventures follow the classic Hero Journey/Campbellian/Jungian/Lucasian outline. Sometimes they do not. Sometimes they follow what I would call the "Jos Whedon Formula" or what is known as the Mr. Rogers/Dora Formula.

As a casual observer, Sandbox GMs, Improviser GMs, Endless Adventure GMs, are all using a structure. The only difference is they are designing and developing structure very quickly (in the moment).

I'm starting to see three themes emerge that describes the problem a bit better than my OP does.

The two main issues I'm seeing emerge:

  • Pathfinder RPG - The rule volume slows play (to a degree--but is very elegant, compelling, and fun in its own way especially due to the tactic-related rules of combat). So, this is not the true issue. This is only listed because rather than 7-8 or 13 encounters per evening, Pathfinder RPG might deliver 3-4 really good detailed encounters (game time is allocated to running the game). I might call these an effect of using a "high-resolution" rule set.

  • Structure - Its possible that since I started working with a 2-GM bi-weekly campaign swap system I've come to taste my own pudding. That is, I've played through a year of weekly gaming sessions in a sandbox setting. This has perhaps (in some Taoist/Buddhist/mirrored way enabled me to see the folly of too much sandbox when it obviously points to missing aspects of good story writing i.e. something I was once brilliant at in college days and other years of yore, but have gotten away from in favor of the "create a big-ass detailed world campaign setting down to the monogram on the silverware and let the players play in it". Caveat: Now, the other GM isn't as detailed as I am, but still I've gotten a years worth of sandbox play and here's what I notice:
    [/b] Generally, players aren't that creative any more. [/b] Adults just don't seem to imagine as much when they get older as they did when they were young. They also have a LOT of issues with congruity/consistency/connectivity of modules and seem to need answers for every little thing in the game, including what I would deem "boring s%~&". Mileage may vary--there are major exceptions to every rule. But on the whole, perhaps what I've become bored with is the lack of imagination on the part of the players to step up to a sandbox world and create their own adventures. So I've become bored with the players, and myself. Maybe what we all want is a little more structure (not a Jacobsian rail-road), but at least the three act play structure or perhaps an "adventure" or module unit completing every 1-3 sessions in the form of resolved story arcs.

The interesting part... about a month ago I started talking extensively with the other GM to tell him how I felt about this. As a consequence, he hastened the timeline and brought a bunch of story arcs to a resolution session this past week! While it was a great single session... now I've gotten an email from him that says, he needs a break because he put so much work into those arcs and now he doesn't know what to do next.

INTERESTING, isn't it?

Kinda the same boat I found myself in prior to my 1 month hiatus recently... I started thinking about bringing the campaign to a close, and actually lost interest in it... instead I want to start a new one.

So, what's going on my friends? Can you peal back this onion layers of this veteran gamer's blues?

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And this is different than burn out.

I still want to play. I still want to run a campaign.

Instead of a candle that's "burning out" due to loss of oil or wax... its like there's something wrong with the light.

I find myself:

  • Analyzing Jos Whedon shows or other movies and shows to figure out a kind of "formula" that makes for a more compelling evening session
  • Disinterested in the conclusion of my current campaign. I've taken a month off to focus on RL stuff and recharge. Turns out, my charge is still very much on, but I don't get thrilled like I used to, and I notice players in the homebrew are left wanting more, not just from my campaign, but the other as well. Just not as satisfying as it used to be.
  • Looking through my gaming collection for inspiration; I feel like I just want to start a new campaign, with fresh characters, maybe even some new players. OMG! Am I just bored with my current group?
  • Making lists of things I would do differently in my next campaign; opening discussions of alternative playstyles with the other players--asking them how they feel about GM hand-waiving introductions so each week the game takes place in a new interesting venue (mountain, waterfront, island, volcano, forest, under earth, etc,., ; I find myself recalling the early days of gaming when it "just didn't matter how we got there" and "players didn't need to analyze all the stuff in-between modules/adventure arcs" like how they got there or why the location was 1000 miles away from the week before...
  • Looking for that singular thrilling moment that happens when a new campaign begins, new characters are awaiting their first lines, when new players are just first seeing what their new GM can do... ; I long for that excitement of presenting a fresh new situation without a lot of established "baggage" that comes with knowing how players react in certain situations... ***But note: I'm not just talking about starting a new campaign---I'm describing the excitement that used to come each week, and that THRILL IS GONE.

This is much different that what I'd expect to see on a simple "burn-out" thread. What does this mean? I've got the veteran gamer blues pretty hard.

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I play Pathfinder weekly. The group I started GMing for began in 2005. 10 years later, there is still 1 original player. This past year, I brought in 2 younger players (in their 20s) and we've switched campaigns weekly (between 2 different campaigns, run by 2 different GMs - myself and one of the younger guys).

Having a week "off" was very refreshing. after 7-9 years of weekly GMing original content... I appreciate having 2 weeks to come up with a story. The current campaigns are only 1 year old.

Here's what I've observed gets the players excited:

  • When the evening session moves through more than 3-4 "scenes"/scenarios - more content seems to feel like greater accomplishment
  • "gamist" style rewards i.e. cleverly selected treasure - stuff that means something, is useful, or has a rich background
  • NPCs with lots of character, rich appearance/voice, interesting plight
  • Well-placed hand-waiving - whenever the GM waves past the boring bits, there's a split second moment of resistance, but in effect the player group appears to then feel relieved that the story progressed
  • Story-twists happening faster rather than slower; "big reveals" happening weekly rather than monthly or annually. It just feels like modern players need more closure than in the past, more progress than in the past, more content than in the past...
  • Guard-rails off - campaign threats that pose lethal problems i.e. the risk of character death without a lot of pulling punches by the GM. The feel of possibly losing a character gets the heart pumping.

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I like where this is headed. I feel the need to hear more.

Sessions that have a lot of different scenes, progress, and culminate in completing a significant story arc provide the thrill to a degree, except for the knowledge of how rare they are, and once they are done what usually follows is a lot of non-culminating sessions, fragmented pieces of a long, larger story.

That is, remember when we were kids... we would get together and whatever the story was that night would actually finish?!

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This is what I hope will become a very long thread of community input regarding the elephant in the room.

Backstory: As a veteran gamer (since 1982) I've hit a wall that nearly every gamer including you has hit, or will hit at some point--and we (I) need your help!

The Problem: For years, gaming session provided a "gaming buzz" i.e. a happy wholesome high of joy (you know what I mean). However, home games in Pathfinder drag on too long. Campaigns run too long. Players get bored. A few encounters/rooms per week is NOT enough content to reach that gaming thrill (and I don't know what's changed).

Observation: I still observe rare moments when that "feeling" returns: a) new campaign first sessions with new characters b) when we play a 1-shot adventure with all new characters and c) for a few sessions after when we bring in a new player. But that's it.

Caveat about PFS: Let's leave PFS out of this equation without any value judgment of that style of game. Let's just say we're focusing on home games, with homebrew content.

Question: What can be done to re-ignite the flame of these veteran gamer blues?

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Hey all! I'd love to see an active link to the compendium again. I'm planning a game for Friday and need a few beastie stats.
Anyone seen Mairkurion or Gene?


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Yes, used up a standard action, and the vrock actually failed twice. Sounds completely legit. Glad I made the right call.

Thanks all.

For the record - I believe EX and SU are not subject to these checks if I'm reading it correctly, aren't disrupted the way SLAs are, right?

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Last night the player monk grappled the vrock.

Upon attempting to escape via At-Will Spell Like Ability: Greater Telport, a player called for a concentration check from the vrock.

The vrock at that point was pinned in a grapple.

Since the SLA is mental only (no components or somatic components needed) did the GM (vrock) need to make a concentration check?

End result: the vrock wasn't able to use its SLA (greater teleport) and was beaten to death by the players.

Rules experts, please help!
Thank you,

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Cleveland, Ohio (Parma)

[Updated November 2014]

6pm-midnight or later on Fridays in Parma (Pleasant Valley/State) 
Homebrew World and Pantheon
1 Group with two GMs: 2 campaigns alternating weekly (you'll have two characters)
Pathfinder RPG Ruleset (RAW/RAI)
GMs Have No Limitations (This means we don't argue rules and we stick to having fun.)
This is not a PFS group.

We ARE interested in: A mature Pathfinder enthusiast who can really bring his or her best role-play every week. Preference given to energetic but peaceful people who enjoy character development and role-play with other player characters, story immersion, and traditional fantasy tropes. Story rating: R (18 or older please).

We ARE NOT interested in: “kick in the door/my build pwnz all!!!” attitudes, 4E players, couples, or anyone who views the game like a video or card game. Passive players, rules lawyers, and munchkins need not apply. We are looking for a friendly team-player who creates story rather than expects entertainment. No "entitled players" please.

What you can EXPECT: A private basement game room loaded with projector map displays, miniatures, elevation and blast templates, a library of game book resources, refrigerator, occasional snacks and an end time around midnight. We'll keep a contextual role-play focus even during dungeon crawling, or mighty combats (this means no meta-gaming). 

What we expect from YOU: Arrive on time, bring your role-playing A-game every week, and don’t complain when bad stuff happens (damaged equipment, death, etc.). Expect to role-play through situations rather than rely upon a single skill or attribute check. Care about and develop your character. Good communication and respect for other players as well as the GM is essential. You do not need to be a rules expert to play, however, we do expect you to be ready on your turn and to look up any essential rules unfamiliar to you as needed.
Playing every Friday is a commitment. If you wish to join, or if you wish to be placed on a wait-list, please contact Tom at 

HOW TO REACH ME: Please send email and share your reason for interest, and a little about your play style. Talk to you soon, thanks!

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How would you suggest building this? Make a druid, add undead traits, then add minor Siabrae special abilities?

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A wizard player pulled this as a summon... I need your expert help to determine if I should disallow its use???

Does this thing do too much for being just a CR1 elemental???


Should I expect all future encounters to be owned by this player? As a GM should I be concerned this will break encounters? Please have a look.


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>> Bump

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I need some good advice/guidance to build my NPC enemy before the game I'm running on Friday. Any help you can provide is appreciated.

NEED: A challenging NPC that acts like a living (or undead) Druidic Defiler Assassin). The idea is 3 such villains were sent by the Dread Lords (read undead forces) to slay an ancient enchanted tree. The PCs must slay each of these three "tree-assassins" before they can complete their ritual (the villains need not be co-located - perhaps they are performing their defilement ritual along the nodes of an equilateral triangle around the tree, but perhaps a mile apart from one another.) For a variant: This could mean they must be slayn "at the same time" so the party has to split up! OOH this is interesting. Each is protected by a Mythic Worg or worgs.... Perhaps if not slayn at the same time, they will all re-materialize and continue the profane ritual to slay the tree?

PROBLEM: I have no idea what to build here to be reflective of this story theme? Please help!

BACKGROUND: The PCs must save an old enchanted tree from three druidic defiler assassins who seek to destroy/kill it. They each travel with a Mythic Worg. Party level is 6 (enhanced with boost to ability scores and skils to accommodate Mythic encounters per James Jacob's advice column in "Sword of Valor" AP74).

DOWN N DIRTY: Should I just make up a druid, call it evil, and be done with it? Maybe add an Undead template?


Warm regards,

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I agree pennywit. Total dick move. And I'm not going to do to them what was once done to me.

I'll have the PCs discover that the Paladins have uncovered an Assassin's Dagger and poison on the grounds of the keep.

This should alert the PCs and provide some interesting roleplay as they try to surmise who has come for whom?!?

Then, it will be up to the PCs to take precautions that evening.

This way, I can be prepared to:
>Run the above encounter OR
>Skip the above encouter if the assassins call off the attack due to the precautions OR
> Run the same enemies in a more favorable territory, have the alarms and whatnot go off, wherever the target PC decides to sleep (with one eye open ;)

Thanks everyone, you really helped today!


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I like Mysterious Stranger's ideas for modifying the DC contextually based on shutters and noise. I figured the STEALTH skill would account for that, but hadn't considered penalties.

Also Rysky and Thorin001 also like the idea of assassins bursting in during sex. So do I.

Orginally, I didn't come out and say it, because I'm technically uncertain of the PC choice in this matter. But assuming sex...

Sex and assassins would make for a very memorable encounter. Modifications down to DC21 for noisy shutters, hinges, crumbling wall structure, etc. might make for a great encounter.

The PC AC will be 10+Dex. Depending on his "position" he might be "prone"... But hey, at least they stand a chance...

Perhaps the studders are so strong, the assassins climbing the outer tower wall cannot hear the passion inside... so they don't wait long enough to burst in...


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Assassins are half elves CR5 each (4@CR9)

Two persons in room: 1 CR6 PC (Male human Inquisitor), and 1 CR6 NPC (female DrowFighter).

Scenario: I'm pretty sure this is a dick move, just like Charon's Little Helper mentions.

When this happened to me, I felt it was stupid.

Now, even though I can and probably should I think a better way is in order:

Some IDEAS based on input from thread (above):
>Give the clue that an assassin's dagger was found, along with some poison.
>Have an NPC as the PCs, "Are you aware of any reason any one of you might be wanted dead? We have reason to believe there is an assassin, or assassins in or around the Keep tonight."

Then, have the PCs take any necessary precautions....
If the target PC must choose either A) Have sex with the drow elf and sleep or B) post a watch near where he sleeps and ensure someone is awake all night watching for assassins.

Then, I can spring the assassins on the target PC in his new environment.... might not be the Keep Tower room as I would like it to be... but hey, at least it isn't a "jerk" move... and the result can be a battle with other PCs or alone, but still a very viable fighting chance.

I completely agree, if the GM wants a PC dead, it happens. Boom. And this is something I can't stand as a player... dunno why I struggled with this today as a GM. I was just amazed that the rules have the PCs dead-to-rights when it comes to a scenario like this.

PC CR6+NPC CR6= CR8 vs. 4 Assassins at CR5 = CR9, so its really only a hard encounter, but when you add ***SLEEP*** plus Assassins, its pretty much overwith, isn't it?


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Ouch, I like this option. Kill the love interest first, alerting the PC. Functionally this would jolt the PC awake.

However, with several assassins available in the scenario... I would think they would assassinate both at once for just that reason.


Nope. Seems like a "gimme".

Perhaps this just truly sucks.

Maybe the only way to "survive" this scenario, is for the PC to not be tempted to sleep in the tower chamber that night. Really the only way to avoid death is to avoid the scenario.

Truly this sucks.

Mechanically, there's really no "saving grace" (pun intended) to this type of scenario is there?

If a GM wants a PC dead, assassins while sleeping are pretty much a guarantee, aren't they?

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Scenario: Assassins enter through the windows of a tower. Two sleeping persons in room. 1 NPC drow female fighter sleeping with a PC Inquisitor.

Rules say sleeping perception is +10 DC +1/10 feet.

Would the following be a fair way to adjudicate this:

Assassins stealth +15. + Roll of 13 = 28.

Allow the PC and the NPC to each roll perception with a +11 to the DC of 28. This means they would need to roll 39 to perceive the Assassins in round 1.

If they fail. The Assassins enter the tower room and 2 begin to study the NPC and PC respectively.

NPC rolls 15. PC rolls 14. They add their perception to these rolls. Totals (for example) might be 23 and 31 respectively.

The two assassins successfully study them for the round.

Rinse and repeat... two more times.

QUESTION: Is is just me, or would GMs be real dicks if they run this scenario of assassins entering a tower bedroom. I don't see how the +11 sleeping penalty can be overcome by a 6th level PC.

BACKGROUND: I once had a GM do this to me. And I hated it. But my current campaign story just happens to warrant this exact scenario today!

PLEASE SAVE MY GAME. Any thoughts? Am I missing anything?


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Yes, I'm thinking Option 1.

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1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

So where are we with this solution?

My first though was to ask Sean K. Reynolds, well.. because he was awesome and would always pop in to clarify things. Who else is active on the boards these days...

OKAY, here are three options PLEASE VOTE:

Option 1: The feat states punch, but not unarmed strike as most feats do when limiting it to a punch, so the feat is only usable with unarmed strikes.

Option 2: The feat states punch and flurry of blows (punch is just flavor but not specifying unarmed strike) so the feat can be used with any monk weapon that flurrys.

Option 3: No written limit to weapons usable...not even limited to weapon categories.

I'm hoping there's a great GM out there who can give me their vote, and why they think that option is 99% near the Rules As Written/Rules As Intended.


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Hmmmn. I just stopped back to pick up some stats for the Gnaw Demon... but see the links are broken...

I'll contact Mairkurion{tm} in RL and see if he has a copy or if he can contact Gene...

I cannot recall where I saved his PDF to...

Ah... the good ole days.. this was a fun thread.


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Sorry for the typo. When/why did he leave? I swear I thought I just saw him last week at GENCON. Was I seeing things?

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Shawn k. Reynolds can you please weigh in? I require clarity before Friday's game. Thanks so very much.

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So... has anyone used the Mass Combat system?

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Has anyone used the Mass Combat system? Or are we just buying books but not playing these days? C'mon---there's gotta be someone who can help me get ready?

Pretty please,

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>> Bump...

For example, I'm looking for something like:

GM: Your scout returns and informs you that the bridge is occupied by a force of 100 Tieflings with a small encampment wherein their leader is currently in his tent. What do you do.
Player: I'm going to sneak into the camp and assassinate the leader.
[some time later after the assassination...]
GM: Okay now what?
Player: We're going to plan an ambush.
GM: The Paladin army awaits the Tiefling Army in the brush for a surprise ambush. Early the next morning the troup gathers for exercises in the area of the brush when suddenly the paladin commander orders the assault to begin. Missiles open fire!
Player: Wow, cool.
GM: Okay, I need 1 person to roll 1 d20. When the die lands, leave the number open for everyone to see. We will use that number again in a few minutes.
Player: I got a 9.
GM: That represents the offense! Not a bad roll. Add 9 + the paladin army OM (offense modifier).
Player: That makes 17.
GM: Great! That's enough to beat the defending Tiefling army's DV (defense value). The battle rages for about 20 minutes. You see the paladins cutting down tieflings, their horns severed from heads, scattered in the brush. The tieflings were surprised and ambushed. Because the paladins had concealment, so the Tieflings don't get to act in this tactics phase.
Player: Cool.
GM: Okay now, the offense check result was a total of 17. The tiefling army is not as armored and sturdy as the paladins with a DV of only 12. 17-12 then, is your total damage during this battle round against the Tieflings! The paladins cause 5 points of damage to the Tieflings with their volley of arrows. They engage the Tieflings in melee. When this happens, which strategy does the paladin army choose this melee phase?
Player: What, huh?
GM: The paladins can choose to be defensive, cautious, standard, aggressive, or reckless during melee. My guess is they attack in a standard fashion, but your call.
Player: Yeah, standard assault in melee.
GM: Okay, the paladin's blades slice through the outwordlers' skins, and blood spayes everywhere! Let's have a melee offense check please.
Player: Huh?
GM: Same as before. Please roll 1d20.
Player: I rolled a 1.
GM: The Tieflings are defending amazingly well! The tieflings try to push the paladin army back away from the bridge.
GM: ROLLS 1d20 for the Tiefling army. *rolls 13* Okay... I will add the Tiefling's OM (offense modifier) for a total of ... 17.
Player: Uh oh.
GM: The Tieflings hold the line. The paladins cannot reach the bridge but do not suffer casualties this round. The paladins are equipped with heavy armor and the battle looks like a stalemate at this point.
Player: Is that it?
GM: No, the battle rages on. Each side attacking in melee with one another. You see shields bashed, and helmets with heads in them rolling on the ground.
Player: So what happens.
GM: Go ahead and attack for the paladins.
Player: Okay, I got this. Rolls 1d20=2 plus the Paladin OM of 8, for a total of 10.
GM: The paladin army is struggling to thwart the Tieflings.
GM: Rolls for the Tieflings for melee offense check = 5+8=13. Try as they might, the Tieflings cannot damage the well armored Paladins. Remember, you can change tactics if you like.
Player: Um. Okay. Lets use Expert Flankers!
GM: Increase your OM by 2, and decrease your DV by 2.
Player: Is that good?
GM: It means the paladins attack from both sides, wedging the bulk of the Tiefling army at the foot of the bridge. Your defenses are lower a bit, but your chance of crushing them increased!
Player: Okay. *rolls 1d20* WOW! I got a 20. Is that a CRIT?
GM: Its a good hit. Let's say it happened to be lower than the defender's DV, you'd still do 1 point of damage for the great assault!
Player: Okay, that seems okay....
GM: Now... let's go a few more times to see if the paladins can take the bridge.
Player: WAIT! We don't want the tieflings to get to use the bridge structure in any way to their advantage. We back up a bit... to draw them off the bridge.
GM: Good thinking! Structures usually provide big bonuses to defense.
Player: Yeah, and we want to taunt them too, in the name of our holy god!
GM: Er... okay. Let me make a morale check for the tieflings. Roll 1d20+2 for their commander's charisma bonus. Total of 18 against a DC of 10+the paladin army's ACR.
Player: AC what?
GM: The ACR is 2 for the paladin army. See it on the Army Sheet I printed from the Ultimate Campaign book, p251.
Player: You're always prepared, Pax.
GM: I try.
Player: So?
GM: The paladins, try as they might, in the name of their righteous god, are unable to shake the confidence of the Tieflings. They remain untaunted.
Players: Crap. But did they leave the bridge?
GM: They're too smart for that. The paladins back off a bit... but the Tieflings do not follow. Do you wish to with draw from combat, and assault again later, or return to the battlefield. The Tieflings are regrouping at the bridge to hunker down for your assault. I'm going to say the bridge provide some fortification... Let's give them a bonus of about 3 to their DV. Not a lot though... a real structure could give a bonus as high as around 8.
Player: We charge the bridge!
GM: The paladin commander shouts, "We are in range for a volley of arrows! Let's rain down almight terror!"
Player: Yeah, that sounds good.
GM: Okay... let's start again, just like we did before with a Tactics phase, then ranged, then melee.
Player: I think I'm getting the hang of this.

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A time has come in my current campaign to use the mass combat system (imagine situations similar to AP74: Sword of Valor).

Can someone please give me a narrative example of mass combat in play?

For example, like the game books do when describing "how to roleplay" I'm looking for a line-by-line example of what happens at the table as the three phases play out (tactics, ranged, melee).

Recommended: Use of Knights (ACR3) vs. Tiefling Army (ACR2) from Sword of Valor, but any example will do.

Thanks so very much for your help.
I know there's an expert in the forums who can explain it to me with an example. (Pls hurry, my game is in 1 week)


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Where is the download link?

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Hi Eric. I'm very pleased with the quality of the minis. Pathfinder minis receive ooohs, and aaahs everywhere they're seen. As someone who would like to buy whole complete collections, rather than buy piecemeal aftermarket singles, might you consider smaller collections priced at the 220.00 range. For many I speak with the disposable income is available but once costs exceed that range, the choice to buy whole collections becomes cost prohibitive. Otherwise, I'm sure most agree the collections are fully worth their cost as-is... but I would like to see more people buying the collections rather than admiring them from afar. Just my 2cp worth of thoughts. Take care.

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I am actively reading this thread and considering all the suggestions carefully. Just wan folks to know I appreciate the input and look forward to more if possible.


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Advice from Experienced GM Needed, Please:

Background: 30+ yrs. GM. Having a complex issue designing story threads such that they play with obvious path for players to follow. Sandbox style for so many years, I want to create a compelling story without wracking my brain with 10 possible directions the party can go in after every segment of the game. After years of NON-railroading, I need your advice on how to railroad and get the players on board without overt coercion/railroading [Non-GMs, please cover your ears ;)]

Problem: I want to run my homebrew games more fluidly in an evening's session, getting through several different locales, and having more flowing story content, possibly toward completion of some story threads within an evening's session (approx. 4-5 hrs.). (Similar in some ways to Pathfinder Society Games, but without the overt coercion/railroading.) My current immersive sandbox style causes me too much prep-time (I prep 3-4+ possible storylines for each session currently.)

Question: Is there a GM out there with years of experience running homebrew worlds of extreme immersive complexity, and choice options for players who can advise me with specific techniques to keep my games more coherent, on a track, more modular, and faster paced? [James Jacobs and Sean K Reynolds - I will be looking to ask you this at GENCON.] In fact, perhaps other GMs here on the messageboards can help me craft a more succinct question, as the issues I'm having elude me: I'm feeling like I'm too immersive, too detailed, and the prep time is too lengthy. [Edit: this is not an issue of GM-grandstanding i.e. I don't overwhelm players with detail for my own glory. My games are very player focused, and I am not the cause of slow down, if anything, my background prep for many areas is wasted including my time.] I am even open to hearing about any module design structure templates GMs may be using to keep ideas on a rail-track, rather than feel the burden of prepping all things for all people.

Thanks for any input,

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The monk in the party is a huge WOW player - so it would be a treat if I could conjure some tactic to make this plausible, even if WOW isn't my cup of tea... a nod of giving the player a tactical experience i.e. what he enjoys best.

As of now, I've hinted that the dragon can be destroyed by "what the monk knows best" which is peace. The dragon will not attack first. But I want to plan for the contingency of battle. Any 3.5 stuff or 3PP stuff? I certainly don't want the dragon to be a joke.

I also imagined using PAIZOs mythic stuff. Perhaps giving the players mythic power as they enter this tiny plane. Still, I'm pressed for stats for the dragon. Help!

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Thanks for the idea Vrita.

However, I consider the monk in the party, who possesses a magical staff that will give him a "second life" as in full health but 1 time.

Question: If that were the case, could the monk tank the dragon (what would be the smallest red dragon possible... I need one at perhaps CR7 or CR8 maximum. Alternatively, if the monk makes a bee-line for the artifact and uses it against the dragon - that could work, just so long as he survives the run. Still, is there any book 3.5 or otherwise that has a red dragon of that range? (Rationale: the artifact is keyed to fire, and thematically its essential there be a 'dragon' of some kind.)

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I need the help of a creative GM:

Background: At the end of an adventure, the players finally arrive inside a mountain containing a tiny demi-plane of lava and rocks with a suspected red dragon they must fight, and powerful magic item (mini artifact setting on a pedestal).

Problem: The party level of 5 players is only level 3.

Please help: I need the conclusion to be an epic fight. Can you help me imagine an ending that uses some kind of epic fire/dragon-themed challenge for the party? It looks like a Pathfinder red dragon of any age would destroy them.

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Hey there, Gene. Sorry I missed you when you popped in last year. Let's fire up those stat engines! Once more unto the breech dear friend.

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To whom it may:

Paizo and I go waay back. It's been nearly a decade, so when I offer this request it is with heartfelt apprciation for the great website, and the myriad content bits that PAIZO already provides.

I need a draw to come to the website.

I need the kind of content that inspires GMs to make last minute tweaks to their homegame, or the kind of usable fluffcrunch mix that is immediately usable.

I need PAIZO to do more than promote their work products with a few visuals and a narrative. I need excerpts with both flavor and mechanical bits that enable me, as a GM, to immediately find content usable, and to draw me back to using the website.

I need a return to balance with focus and supporting content to help GMs run home games (not just an assumption that everyone plays Pathfinder Society, which while I'm sure not intended, seems to be the implication throughout).

It is not enough to publish a book like Gamemastery Guide and not regularly support the ideas contained therein with fresh examples, articles, and imaginative content (villains, monsters, stories, side-treks, drop-in bits) for home games.

I won't presume to ask for specifics about "how" you achieve this. I'm only suggesting the "what" in hopes that I can return to looking forward to view the PAIZO website again and feel "supported" as a GM.

Thank you for your consideration,

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I've looked into using UDK, however the technical time to set it up seems excessive over the typical 3d terrain objects or use of dungeon tiles, vynal mats, etc. For now, I use a projector at table top about 15% of the time, with preference for the more tactile minis and PAIZO flipmaps and other dungeon tiles and vynal wet-erase about 85% of the time.

I would love to use UDK, and noticed they just did it in the video for the final battles of the campaign. Sure, if I work on something like that for a grand finale it would be great, but I'm waiting for a company like PAIZO to craft a 3d world that is plug and play style for GMs to project a 3d world onto tabletop, without needing to know so much intensive programming to achieve similar effects, such as appears to be the case for UDK.

I first heard about UDK about 3 years ago, and even though it is free and makes for excellent eye-candy, the cost-benefit in time just isn't there yet imho.


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Updates? I'd like to check it out. Can anyone get me in?

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Yes SlimGuage I mean these

The mushroom thingys.
LOL Vamptastic.

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Is there a deathcap equivalent in Pathfinder RPG? If so, which Bestiary or resource please?


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Can I get anyone with some knowledge of html or web design or google site programming to weigh in on this one? Anyone - feel free to drop me an IM, or respond to this thread. Maybe you can forward to someone you know who might know? Deeply appreciated.


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Is anyone using this template?

If so, please IM me. I'm going to abandon if I cannot get it working for the players. Thx.


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So, in sum, its:
1. SAVE = Done
1a. Fail SAVE = wait onset time

Starting on the onset day, and each day afterword a failed save = damage. UNLESS 2 consecutive saves are made to cure AND each successful save day = no damage that day.

If this is correct... THANKS ALL!

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Hmmmn. So are we counting three rolls, or does 1 today and 1 tomorrow = the two saves needed?

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How does this work?

Disease (Ex) Filth fever: Swarm—injury; save Fort DC 12; onset 1d3 days; frequency 1/day; effect 1d3 Dex damage and 1d3 Con damage; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.

When do I make players save?
Is this filth fever automatic on any successful hit?
Is it one initial save with no immediate effect if failed?
Is it two consecutive saves in 1d3 days later if failed?

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