Hello James, I have a couple questions but I'll keep them in separate posts.
Why did the Paizo team decide that Succubi are demons as opposed to DnD's devil classification and is there an appropriate lust based devil that now exists to fill that gap? This would extend to lilitu as well, as both seem much more calculating and manipulative in their methods than demons traditionally are.
Would there be any potential for having Nyarlathotep posing in the great beyond as a god, unknown to the other gods? I realize that probably wouldn't fit with anything you've developed thus far just because work has already gone into those gods, but would he be able to essentially hide in sheeps clothing and pass himself off for something acceptable while controlling things from behind the scenes?
I've been looking into the Dreamlands and Leng recently and I was wondering if you might be able to point me to some sources or trains of thought that will expand upon or improve my depiction of them.
I've read Strange Aeons and Planar Adventures so far as my main Paizo sources and theb I've been thinking of using Bloodborne as my inspiration for Leng.
Any help or feedback would be great :)
Hey James, I'm wondering if you have any recommendations on how to run dundeon crawls. There are a lot of opinions on how to reveal maps and whatnot, but what I'm actually trying to figure out is how to prevent a bunch of consecutive combat encouters from dragging.
Specifically, I'm starting to plan a Scarwall run (probably still have some months until we get there) and while I want to maintain the atmosphere, major encounters, and overall feeling of exploring a massive and dangerous location, I'm concerned it'll fall into monotony.
A standard encounter for my group lasts about an hour and our sessions are short at just 3 hours. Even if I hold an extra long session, I still worry that we'll get consecutive sessions of almost pure combat that'll kill the sense of pacing.
I know other groups love dungeon crawls, so it would be great to hear back from you.
Sorry for the longer question.
Hey James, I was wondering if the Paizo staff have their own head cannon concerning why Golarion's societies for the most part have technology behind what we have, despite being thousands of years older. I understand the main reasin is because that's the setting you want to use, but is there a lore reason as well?
I hope you don't mind me following up in response.
I have no intention of making this a mythic campaign, I'm actually making it a 10 point buy game. The abilities granted by this third party class are the only major abilities I expect will be used to show any godlike powers, and from looking it over, it remains balanced.
As for the aasimar aspect, I don't think their expectation is to be closer to the celestial side of things, but simply that they are using a native outsider race to represent who they are. As I said, they've intentionally given me a lot of flexibility.
What I'm interested in is more a stance on what kind of diety would accompany the themes of a horror campaign best, and how might this reveal itself through the course of play?
I was planning on treating it as a mystery and whether it was positive or negative would be largely unknown for the first half of the adventure. You might think of it similarly to a D&D 5e warlock's patron in how I'm hoping to treat it.
Hello James. One of my players is making a character and getting ready for a modified verion of strange aeons that I'll be running. They've asked to play a third party class called a clever godling (which I approved) and wish to pair that with an assimar as a race (or something thematically equivalent).
Essentially, they are wanting to be a direct decendant of a deity, and pairing that with the fugue state at the beginning of the adventure, they've given me a great deal of creative liberties with choosing their origins.
Because of this, I was hoping to hear any ideas on your end as to what might be an intresting or compelling godly parent that would mix well with the horror themes provided already, and how might this relation appear over time as their connection grows?
As a reference, I'm currently considering Shub Niggurath as a mother, but I'm open to any ideas.
Ok, thank you, that makes sense. In that case though, I'd be curious why Nocticula is bothering to take in new worshippers of her old ways in the first place if she just plans to ditch them so soon once she ascends, especcially seeing as you've said before that the number of worshippers doesn't affect the power of gods. Would she have a reason?
I would love that someday! It's the kind of book I'd buy two of because I'd wear through the first copy too fast.
On another note, I'm currently wrestling with Nocticula's ascention; I'm happy to see it happen, but my character is in a wierd position. My current character just recently converted to her and became an evangelist, specifically worshipping her aspects of lust and assassination, but now those subdomains are completley missing.
I don't think my DM is aware of the changes so it likely won't be a focus in the campaign, but I still personally want to know what's going on. I guess the question is, what is the relationship between my lust/assassin based newly converted worshipper and Nocticula? Beyond just "do I keep my class", but along the lines of what does she think of me and others like me?
Would you be interested in ever publishing something dedicated to designing adventures, including common resources, design techniques etc? I know this kind of information can be found in other hard covers whenever you put out content, but I more mean getting into the nitty gritty of complete adenture design.
It would be great to learn about it from a person or team that has dedicated tonnes of effort into it before, and also maybe get a peek into any design methods that are too time consuming for us to see in an ordinary adventure path due to production time constraints.
Hello James, I was just curious what your standard is when you design and direct both adventures as well as world building content in regards to how much is expected to be added on the player's end?
So, from your point of view if everything was under your control, do you believe that you craft things with specific purpose and only small changes should be made to suit individual groups, or do you see what you make as more of a guidelines and you believe that an adventure should be heavilly modified before play, given the DM has the time for that? Or anywhere in between.
Sorry if it felt like I was pushing for an answer to an already answered question. I thought what I said made a difference but I apologize if it didn't feel that way to you.
On another note, I'm planning to start a new one on one campaign soon with the express goal of impoving my sandbox and open world style of GMing. I really like telling a cohesive story but I find my style often feels too linear and railroad-y. Do you have any personal experiences or tips that could help facilitate a cohesive story along with maintaing a sandbox style of play?
Additionally, happy thanksgiving from Canada. Thank you for all your help on this forun and your work done outside if it!
As an,extension off of that last question, when I integrated the Curse of Strahd adventure into the Golarion setting, I changed the shadowfell and domains of dread rules around to let it work with pathfinder's domains of evil. This let me keep the villain in the world, while still giving them a special realm to rule.
Given that change, what Golarion villain would you assign their own domain of evil, and maybe as an extension to this question, how would the themes of their own domain differ from that of traditional Ravenloft?
Hi James, this question is related to the answer you placed in spoilers for Tyrant's Grasp
If I want to use Arazni before running TG, is there anything specific I should do or avoid in order to make things consistent for the future AP? I'm actually planning to introduce her to my PC's in tonight's game and I just don't want to skrew myself over in the future.
I can appreciate not wanting to put any rules to the deities, but what about additional information on them? I'm thinking along the lines of folk tales that we've never heard before, thought patterns and goals of various deities, and perhaps what ongoing business they have in the great beyond and on golarion that are unknown to most mortals. I just think it would be great to have this additional insight and it would be able to play with as well.
If you don't like the idea of this, could you explain why not?
Thank you James
Hello James, I was reading some of your posts and the name "Divine Adventures" came up as a theoretical. I was mostly hoping to bring the idea back into the conversation but I was also curious to what point do you draw the line in defining what the gods can do as well as their personal stories and beliefs, and at what point they should remain mysterious.
In a CotCT game that I'm running, I'm finding our pacing is too fast and I'm planning to use the cinderlands expedition to adapt the the pace to something slower. I've remade almost all of chapter 4 to facilitate this change but I'm worried about a whiplash effect where suddenly, even though plenty is happening, the cinderlands will feel like a drag. Do you have any recommendations as to make this change without players experiencing this?
There's no complaint here by the way, I love crimson throne. I'm just trying to adjust for my players and our style.
How do you determine the unique abilities of creatures and how many they get? I understand that if something would affect damage per round then that should be taken into account when looking at damage by CR, but what about unique abilities that aren't easilly represented by the table in the back of the bestiary? For example, the leviathan can target everyone it wants with feeblemind (which is hella cool) but it isn't easilly reflected in spell like abilities per day.
I guess the question boils down to, how do you determine the balance of these unique abilities and is there a guidline of how many abilities like this a creature should have?
Hello James, thankyou for your continuous support on this forum. I haven't heard about that holliday yet so I hope you get it soon :)
As for my question, I was wondering what the creature on the cover of Planar Adventures is. It kind of strikes me as a nightmare astradaemon but I feel like that's jumping to a random conclusion. It looks rad and I'd love to use something like that but I can't for the life of me place it.
After looking it over, 28 should be the correct DC. Ten plus half of HD plus Cha plus skill focus are where those values were found, and they are correct when compared to the other DC's without skill focus (frightful moan and malevolence are both DC 26) You are right in that it's a high DC though. The standard DC of a CR 15 is around 23 so she has the potential to be quite dangerous, however I'll remind you that her stare is her main threat and by this point in the adventure, PC's have learned quite well how to deal with flesh to stone.
I'll just add by two cents here.
With a steady schedule of meeting once per week and having relatively short sessions of around two and a half hours in length, my average completion time for modules or one sixth of an adventure path is between 3 and 4 months. This will obviously vary by your players, how much you modify your adventure and chances are by level as gameplay usually slows down at high levels unless you have a skilled group playing.
Altogether though, if you can maintain a steady pace, you are looking at 1.5 to 2 years (as meantioned above) before adding your own content to a full adventure path.
James Jacobs wrote:
I've not yet actually read the adventures, though, so yeah—my first step would be to read them and then make decisions. So ... I don't really have any advice or insights for you on how to adjust things. Sorry!
That's totally understandable, and in that case maybe I'll ask in a more general way? When you design your adventures and want to include extra content that supports the themes that you are telling, how do you try to balance the added content with the main focus so that it enhances the story as opposed to distracting or cluttering the story?
Hello James. Over in the Thrushmoor Terror GM reference thread, there's been discussion on switching the skum out for deep ones and having them worship Shub-Niggurath to give them a stronger connection to Ariadna and the Watcher in the Bay. Personally I'm on board with this for when I get to run this, but I was curious how you would go about introducing these themes in a way that enhances the experience as opposed to adding to many disparate plot elements. I feel like it can be done seeing as Ariadna is already part of the plot but I want my players to care most about Hastur and Xhamen-dor. Honestly, I'm still worried about juggling those two alone so any insight as to how you would balance these themes in a supporting way would be great.
Actually, is there anything about Shelyn that you can share that you find is often overlooked or not discussed in the books? She seems like a lovely deity but she's always overshadowed by her brother. I feel like I've heard you say before that Zon Kuthon is not her defining characteristic so it would be great to hear what you think is under appreciated about her.
Personally, I really don't like the idea of giving away the big XD name drop so easily. DC 25 is too low for something that is only known about in rare occult texts. A DC 25 is equivalent to something specific in an area of study, so while it would make sense for most uncommon holy symbols to fall in this category, XD is beyond obscure. If a PC's backstory would explain their knowing (if they are a wizard who studies the dark tapestry for instance), then giving a bit more info would be fine but I'd suggest that you seed things with the symbol. Tell them after making the check that they feel nauseated and uneasy and they don't know why. Or that they recall seeing something reminiscent of the fungal tendrils in the corner of one of Zandalus' sketches. If they make a really good check or use legend lore, reward them with the knowledge that it is not contained in any conventional book and if they want to understand the only way to learn more is to research more obscure texts (which they can find at Iris Hill, maybe from a book with the symbol of XD on it's cover).
The horror of XD comes from the desire to know being tainted and dangerous, so I'd play that up and set things in a way that makes your players want to know. I also really agree with Leedwashere in that making the PC's be vectors is really cool and if they learn about XD at iris hill then the boat ride is a fantastic place to bring out that aspect.
Adding apostles to the fight could work but I treated this encounter in an almost social way. My players new he was wrong in the head and didn't fully grasp the situation so when they confronted him, I had him act friendly (in a very insane way). My players tried getting on his good side and talked to him, with him reciprocating in kind, but all the while I had him casting spells. One of the greatest strengths of psychic casters is that they use emotional and thought based components so their casting can be a lot less obvious. Even once attacks began, I described them in ways that made my players think they were more akin to haunts that were tied to Zandalus, so they still weren't sure if Zandalus was insane with a good heart or just pure evil.
Ultimately, I'd recommend making the encounter wierd and creepy, which is fitting for the final boss of an asylum. Also, probably switch out those NPC levels for Zandalus and play the tatterman viciously to make up for the more social encounter before hand. The best tactics I've seen for the Tatterman are using shadow walk to separate the party and, what I did, using suggestion to isolate a party member after feigning death. There's a fair chance that you kill that pc (most likely by making them sleep and then coup de grace, through having them make a series of secret rolls) and then you can have them continue playing as the tatterman without knowing.
I don't have the book on me right now but I'll just say that the way I ran these encounters was crazy fun and led to the best roll playing of my entire time playing pathfinder.
I'm sorry to hear things aren't going great, hopefully your vacation goes well.
I was wondering how you like to go about messing with player characters and adding plot twists. I've always loved plot hooks that surprize players or recontextualize the character's background, but how do you bring in these surprizes and big changes while not accidentally ruining a players experience? The main issue I find is that these plot hooks are coolest when they are a big reveal and have large impact on the characters on a personal level, however this can really easily remove agency from the player or worse, alienate them from their own character. I'm just looking for some input so I can excite or freak out my players instead of anger them or make them disinterested.
Hello James, I was just curious what your thoughts are on evil PC's in non evil games. I understand that they can be disruptive, but have you had experience with integrating them in a more cohesive way? If so, it would he great to hear your methods of ensureing a structurally sound party while having that extra room for roleplaying differing ideals.
In Strange Aeons, I feel like the desired effect is to have a continuous campaign of eldritch horror, like a pervasive atmosphere that permeates everything. There are some occassions where I felt like this could be lost however, or momentum would prevent the atmosphere from coming through.
I haven't played the adventure through yet, so maybe my reading just missed pieces, but between moments where things slow down for rest, shopping or other non plot essential RP (talking to eachother or friendly NPCs) or in locations
Okeno, Casmaron, and the Parchlands
I get the sense that the creepy horror feel could be easily lost.
I don't mean any offense by asking this and questioning the writers and design, but it would be great to understand a bit better. Are these breaks intentional and beneficial to the horror feel in the long run, or if not, what is a good method of maintaining the sense or horror in these instances.
I'm planning to run WotR while maintaining the majority of mythic as written, but I prefer my campaigns have higher risk and I've heard mythic knocks that option out...
Currently I'm thinking of halving the number of tiers I hand out but I'm not sure if that's the right answer. I guess my question is, how would you include mythic so your players get to feel powerful and epic while maintaining a sense of high risk.
Also, not just for Tar Baphon but for all liches, is there any way to prevent phylacteries from being kept on the astral plane or other similarily impossible to find locations? I understand that liches are supposed to be essentially immortal, but the most logical location for them to keep their phylacteries is also the least interesting on a thematic level.
I understand that some RPG systems make it so the phylactery must be easilly on hand, but pathfinder doesn't have those requirements.
Hi James, I just heard about Tyrant's Grasp and now I'm all excited and my gears are turning.
If I wanted to start forshadowing TG in the next couple adventure paths I'm running (CotCT & WotR), would you have any recommendations for how to set up Tar Baphon as the BBEG and maybe some other exciting themes or elements we can expect in the adventure?
So, I'm working on making an add on to an existing adventure path, essentially adding a final part from lv 17 to lv 20, taking inspiration from D&D's Tomb of Annihilation.
The premise is that there will be an artifact that uses souls as fuel and prevents all souls from joining the river of souls.
My question is, what kind of retaliation would you expect from the psychopomps or Pharasma herself for the activation of such an extreme and powerful artifact and are there any other organizations/ outsiders that would likely get involved?
As for my second question, I was hoping for some clarification on how situations like Nocticula's ascension would work. Mostly pertaining to domains and areas of interest. For example, currently Nocticula's purview includes lust, shadow, and assassination but it seems like the idea of her becoming a CN goddess of Artists, Outcasts and the Glories of Midnight removes other focuses. Would this mean that she currently has no true interest in what she currently stands for, does she have interests in both sides and just chooses whatever she thinks her followers would like more at a given time, or is it something totally different?
Again, thank you for you help, and I'd like to let you know that there is at least one fan here who would love to see Nocticula's ascension eventually making it's way into an adventure of some kind :)
Hello James, this is my first post but I've been spending the last week binging this thread and I'd just like to say that the work you're doing to maintain a strong connection to the fanbase is admirable and greatly appreciated.
Now, I have a couple questions but I'll split them up.
It's been stated that the psychopomps and Pharasma judge all souls including gods, and while I can understand this process, it raises the question as to how the soul economy works with deities. I'd assume that unless special protections were put in place, these powerful souls would immediately be taken by daemons, hags and other scavengers. Are there any notable guardians or methods in place to protect these uniquely potent souls?