The Black Monk

Sutekh the Destroyer's page

67 posts. Alias of Matthew Bromund.


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Scarab Sages

I love Golarion, especially the continent of Garund. I think it makes 'Africa' into a fantasy adventure locale as worthy as any medieval European setting. Nothing in the Realms competes with that.

On the other hand, the Forgotten Realms does have a few areas that are so tremendously awesome for gameplay as to make up for the more bland 'cookie-cutter' areas (the Dales and Cormyr for example). In this vein I would put Waterdeep against any other locale in any published setting for high level adventures and if you broaden it to include the Sword Coast you have a great area for an entire campaign to play and progress. I also love the 'Empires of the Sand' (Calimshan, Tethyr, and Amn) for anyone who wants to mix in Arabian Nights while not detaching completely from the medieval European setting. Finally, Thay is about the best evil-nation ever conceived for insuring that the enemy is both ubiquitous and menacing without being overpowering for fantasy adventurers. In this sense, I think FR did better than Golarion; while I love Cheliax, I have to acknowledge that an empire actually run by Devils is a bit much for a PC party to handle.

I would put Mystara up as a very fine setting too, and one that allows novice players to really get into the tropes of this genre without running afoul of a ton of 'canon heroes' like Drizz't, Elminster, and Alias. In Mystara, halflings are hobbits and elves are elven without either being able to dominate the world with their thievery.

To sell you on the Forgotten Realms though, I would suggest you consider how tailor-made the portion of the game world your party is inhabiting needs to be. The tighter the fit required, the better Faerun is.

Scarab Sages

I tell the entire group of players, unless the check is made in such a way as to make it useful to pass the good information secretly (rogue skulking about intending to palm valuable treasure, for example). That way, the party has the information.

I then expect the players to speak, in character, about what they have noticed. This encourages them to see this as a role playing game rather than a roll-playing game. I find that the interaction between the players is fun for me and often points out differences in how the information I share is received.

Scarab Sages

Son of the Veterinarian wrote:

Nice work on the setting Sutekh, well thought out and written. I look forward to more.

Have you ever checked out White Wolf's old Hallowfaust setting? If not you might want to have a look, as it also details a nation (city-state) ruled by undead, though as a Lawful Neutral entity rather than Lawful or Chaotic Evil.

Also, regarding Arazni, why didn't Aroden raise her from the dead himself? He certainly should have been able to do something for her rather than just sticking her in a tomb and hiring her replacement right off. Was he acting in fulfillment of some prophecy? Did she have some hidden flaw, some seed of corruption that made her eventual fall easier, so he began to find her unsuitable as a Herald? Or does Iomadae just look that good in uniform?

Yes, Aroden's decision to leave Arazni dead is one of the really interesting mysteries in her story. Iomedae wasn't on the scene yet, but was Aroden aware of her and grooming her to be the 'Inheritor' even then?

Aroden's dogma seems to include an element of competition warranting the discard of failed ideas/followers. After all, his faith started in Taldor but moved to Cheliax when the leaders of Taldor failed to show enough vigor to continue to broaden the empire. Maybe Aroden's decision was that if Arazni couldn't defeat a lich she wasn't worth saving? If so, that conclusion might have been one that Geb could use in seducing Arazni to return as a member of the eternal undead.

It is a fascinating story to tease out for sure.

Scarab Sages

I am not going to allow it (I think) but wanted to share this latest attempt to rend the spirit of the rules for the benefit of PC power:

The proposed PC is a Druid 1/Ranger 6. He proposes to attract an animal companion as a Druid, then 'stack' his levels of Ranger to allow him that animal companion to be that of an druid 7. (I know, error #1, he only gets to stack Ranger-3 to his druid companion, or effective druid level 4 after adding his druid 1.)

Then he proposes to attract a second companion as a Ranger (levels 4-6) and interprets the rules to allow him to treat that companion as equal in power to his druid companion (or level 7, according to him).

I am of the opinion that such an interpretation does violence to the rules since the stacking ability exists to keep from gimping the animal companion of a multiclassed ranger/druid. I don't think it means that the PC gets to attract 2 animal companions. I find support by implication here in the 'beastmaster' archetype, which would be rendered completely pointless if this player's argument were valid. I further find support in my opinion in the fact that there is no 'Beastmaster' archetype in the druid class, implying that the nature priest's companion is a singular being and not just a upgraded pet.

Finally, and this is a pet peeve of mine, I am frustrated that my player proposed all of this BEFORE he presented anything close to a character concept. I have always run a role-playing intensive game in the Old School model, where players can have their characters do just about anything so long as it makes sense for the PC to try it and I can come up with some sort of a roll to adjudicate the outcome. In this case, my new player is thinking mechanics first and story second, and the mechanics he is thinking of is entirely designed to give his PC a gang of bodyguards and himself the fighting ability of a Ranger 6 to boot!

I would love to have the feedback of Paizonia on this situation.

Scarab Sages

I think the APs, combined with the immense amount of previously published modules, allow a GM to be as flexible as desired while enjoying the lower prep time provided by the AP.

In my own campaign, I have used Legacy of Fire as the foundation AP. I shifted the location to Geb, a bit farther south on Golarion, in order to have access to all the Egyptian-themed modules (Desert of Desolation AD&D series, Touch of Death from Ravenloft AD&D, Necropolis by Gary Gygax from 3.5, and Pactstone Pyramid from Paizo notably) and I have, as a result of player-wrought havoc (destroying the pyramid of the Pharoah module causing a flood and making a lake at the foot of the village of Mudar (from Touch of Death) that then caused a bigger side-quest to kill the vampire in charge of Mudar. A quick pivot to 3.5's Expedition to Castle Ravenloft gives me a full castle for the party to explore and engage with, a redressed Strahd as a BBEG, and almost no prep/conversion time for this DM who has WAY too much to do to make it all work. Renaming characters is a lot easier than designing lairs and encounters from the ground up.

By doing this, I give Jhavul more star time (he is the efreeti freed from the Sunken City of Pazar in the Pharaoh module now) and give the players a sandbox experience. Heck, I even threw in the Kingmaker realm-building rules to make more out of the 'One Year in Kelmerane' hook at the end of the first volume of the AP.

I think the element that is missing in all the discussion on railroad/sandbox in an AP is the context in which a DM works now. We have more than thirty years of lore to draw from, Bestiaries to give us PFRPG stats for any monster in any old module, and an AP that has a coherent plot (for the most part) that can survive contact with a determined group of players. For LOF for example, as long as the party doesn't get to killing Jhavul until late in the cycle, his menace can be properly epic no matter how many side battles the party faces. With an efreeti (of vampire, or dead god, or whatever other world-warping BEG the AP puts up) as the party's true nemesis, the DM needs only worry about utilizing that villain's escape powers effectively to keep the fun going until the proper moment. Each adventure completed moves the party forward with their nemesis always moving forward as well.

I love the APs for their ability to link into the context of our game's history and hope they continue to give the DM enough wiggle room to insert this lore as needed for the benefit of the game. For DM's who need more sandbox support, I strongly recommend looking at the wikipedia descriptions of old modules and then, when you see one that fits your world, grab it and make sure you have it on hand to support your work when your players decide they want to go farther afield from the APs primary path.

Scarab Sages

sunbeam wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Arazni is now pretty much 100% committed to being evil. Her god is dead, her followers failed to save her, and she lost her divinity only to see that upstart Iomedae basically steal it from her. Now, Arazni's a co-ruler of one of the most powerful nations in the Inner Sea, has a form of immortality that doesn't rely on keeping the favor of a fickle (and, as it turns out, mortal) god's favor, and has access to the wizardly secrets of one of the Inner Sea's most powerful spellcasters, her king and husband Geb.

She has a lot of anger and bitterness and rage toward the Knights of Ozem, Iomedae and her faith, and Aroden and humanity as a whole. She's got a lot for Tar-Baphon too... but this is not a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" at all. More a case of "the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy!"

She quite enjoys helping to rule a nation of liches and vampires and all that as a result. She never got to rule a nation as a human or a god. But as a powerful lich... yay!

She's called the "Harlot Queen" because a lot of people outside of Geb, particularly Iomedae's faith, see her actions as having sold out to the enemy. Once a crusader against a powerful evil lich, she basically whored herself out to Geb in order to BECOME a lich. And a queen. Hence, the name "Harlot Queen." And Arazni has sort of taken that moniker as her own, embracing it as a welcome badge of hatred and throwing it back at her now-enemies faces. And yes... the implication is that her personal method of becoming a lich did involve some distasteful necrophiliac type actions (every person has a somewhat different route to becoming a lich—hers was particularly vile). We haven't delved TOO deeply into the details there because of obvious reasons, I hope.

Arazni is very jealous of Iomedae's rise in power, and probably harbors a desire and goals to kill her, sending her into the afterlife just like her dead patron. And Arazni's powerful enough that she probably COULD kill a god, given the time and research. She

...

Adding to the legend of Arazni......

Arazni was the Herald of Aroden and she was summoned by the Knights of Ozem to lead the Crusade against the Whispering Tyrant. She was killed by Tar-Baphon and her corpse was stolen and raised to lichdom by the Ghost of Geb to serve as his Queen.

For their part, the Knights of Ozem were to continue the Crusade, being lead by Iomedae, a gallant champion who would take Arazni's place as Aroden's Herald.

This much is known.

But who founded the Knights of Ozem and how did they win the support of the Herald of Aroden? Why would Geb's Ghost choose to steal Arazni, dead a continent away with her service to Aroden focused on his worshippers and his causes on Avistan?

In my version of Golarion the answer is that the Knights of Ozem are the followers of a legendary warrior of Geb who battled, and temporarily held back, the onslaught of necromantic evil represented by the eponymous lord of that dark land. Ozem the wise defeated the exile from Osirion who would one day take the name Geb and rule. His wisdom and skill at fighting undead were so legendary that Aroden himself brought this great warrior to his city of Absalom to teach the warriors of the North his techniques. The Knights of Ozem were founded in that long-off past to fight the evil of undeath wherever it arose and Ozem himself served as the mentor of Arazni when she ascended to serve Aroden. Ozem died a natural death and was taken by Aroden to the Celestial Planes, frustrating the exiled necromancer, whose own power waxed again and ultimately overtook the southern land of Geb. The new King of Geb denied his old identity and scoured Golarion for signs of his nemesis. In his obsession he found the Knights of Ozem and learned of Arazni.

Subtle and evil, he encouraged the Knights of Ozem into their Crusade against the Whispering Tyrant. It was he, through agents and minions, sowed the seed of summoning Arazni to do battle with Tar-Baphon. When she fell, as Geb knew she would, it was with images of Ozem and his land that he seduced her spirit to serve as his Queen. Through Ozem, Arazni came to fight, and die. Through Ozem's image, Geb did corrupt her and make her a lich and his Queen.

For these corruptions, the Knights of Ozem harbor an eternal hatred of Geb, the ghost that rules the lands of their founder through the corpse of their divine patron.

Scarab Sages

Just to update the thread, and see if anyone else out there has had as much fun as I have with using Kingmaker rules in the ongoing LOF campaign:

My crew has added a good dozen hexes through the end of the House of the Beast adventure. I have imported the old classic 'Pharaoh' and the Paizo instant classic 'Pactstone Pyramid' as well as put the entire campaign in Geb (I like undead more than alien sovereigns) and it has been churning along nicely. We are soon to get to the point where the undead overlords are going to notice the party carving out, successfully, a zone where the undead don't get to feed and the dead aren't harvested for unwilling eternal slavery.

I have realized that the biggest adaptation for Kingmaker is the scale of time. I need to build in a lot more downtime between dungeon crawls to give the kingdom game time to work. Personally, this strikes me about right since the instant level phenomenon always struck me a bit wrong, with my AD&D (adding a level takes training time) mindset. I am also going to soon see if my successful merchant princes in Kelmarane are able to turn into effective generals against a legion of the undead.

It should be fun. How have you all done with it?

Scarab Sages

moon glum wrote:
1 would be interesting. 0 would be boring. The trick to DMing high level games is to realize that you are playing a super hero game of cosmic scope set in a series of cascading alternate realities. If you can dig that, the pathfinder rules (perhaps with the occasional house rule or two) work splendidly.

1.

For my own campaign, I house rule a few things that impact higher level play, I think to make things more manageable.

One is I cap the addition of new HD and instead apply something like the old AD&D HP progression (full HD through level 9, I use level 10, and then a flat +1, 2, 3, or 4 depending on the HD of the class for further levels, plus Con Mod of course). This keeps my PCs from having the massive buckets of HPs that make battles into long sessions of attrition at higher levels.

Second, I insist that PCs figure out all the dice they will need for their full round of combat before I call on them and that they have it all rolled out at once. High-level games call for organized thinking by the PCs and I have noticed that this is often a challenge for neophyte gamers.

Another is that I increase the XP for RP and decrease for straight monster kills. That reduces the emphasis on combat and increases the emphasis on creative approaches to plot problems and big-world issues, much more suitable for high level play, IMHO. Making that shift is a pretty minor one for rules but it has a HUGE impact on the playability of higher levels.

Finally, I think that DMs in general need to put more down-time into their high level campaigns. Rustling up a band of orcs to slaughter shouldn't take any group of adventurers long but finding the lair of the long-sleeping great wyrm black dragon in the Swamp of Utter Despair should have the PCs minions out investigating for months and leave our high level PCs time to build castles, engage in politics, scribe scrolls, and do other such things rather than spend all their time on horseback looking for random acts of violence to commit.

I suppose I don't really think the rules need a lot of tweaking but a book that shows how they can be tweaked to make high-level adventuring more satisfying would be very good.

Scarab Sages

ZappoHisbane wrote:

I apologize ahead of time if I'm stirring up a hornet's nest. I've done a few searches for existing threads, but they all seem to date back to late 2008 and early 2009 when things were still gelling.

In my current group we have a Dwarf Cleric (don't recall the God, but I believe its home-brewed/import from FR) with domains of Glory and Liberation. Both the player and DM have expressed some concern that this Cleric in particular, and Clerics in general, are underpowered. Looking at the level chart, all you see is their Channel Energy damage going up. Their 2nd domain power kicks in at 8th level, but then that's about it. Sure, spellcasting is always great, but a lot of the Cleric staples (Divine Power, Righteous Might, and the various save-or-die/suck spells) have been toned back some. And of course there's the loss of Heavy Armor proficiency.

I haven't had the chance to play a PF Cleric as of yet, so I have no personal experience. My personal take is that they don't look bad at all, particularly with the right Domain choices. I also suspect the problem is more with the player's build (25 point-buy but nothing higher than a 16 in any one stat; too much spreading around, too little focus) than the class itself.

So, I'm looking for the opinions of the community at large here, to pass on to the DM. Does the Cleric need a bone tossed his way to keep up? Or does the player just need assistance with picking the proper spells and getting his stats focused?

I have played clerics since the red box and spent a ton of time playing AD&D 1st edition clerics (who were so very much less versatile than the 3.0/3.5/PFRPG version) so my perspective may be a bit skewed. I have always believed that a cleric is mechanically a support character and thematically a natural leader and role-playing god-send (pun intended). In every game I have played in or run as a DM, it was the cleric who served as the conscience, wise councillor, and guiding hand on the campaign. They are the natural foils to the rogues, the mentors to the paladins, and the tempering force for the fighters. In short, I love clerics and have always loved what they bring to the table.

Mechanically, the PFRPG cleric is a first-tier class in my opinion. By scaling up the fighter and pulling back from having clerics serve as a true substitute for a fighter, the PFRPG rules make it easier to properly situate the cleric in a party for role-playing purposes. The domain powers are a ton more creative than in 3.5 and really allow the divine principle a character is devoted to to shine through in the game. I don't think you need to worry about the nerf bat being used on the spell list, the things a cleric does best no one else approaches and the things a cleric does to compete with the other classes (fighters and wizards primarily) really did need to be stepped back in order to make room for those characters to shine.

To be honest, my only real balance gripe with the PFRPG rules come with upgrading the wizard's hit points to a d6. A wizard needs to be frail to offset the power and supreme flexibility that the high Intelligence and spellbook represent. But that is another topic....

For me, clerics are more than potent enough to hold their own in any group. They are also a ton of fun to role-play.

Scarab Sages

An Update from Geb:

Since I always intended to run the LoF adventure path in Geb with Pharoah and other Egyptian-themed classic adventures, I am delighted to report that I FINALLY found a way to make sense of the 'release the efreeti, ruin the world' premise set up in the opening of Pharoah. With the LoF 'genie war' backstory, I have a great way to release Jhavul. Now, instead of trying to impress a efreeti overlady with his Rovagug prowess, Jhavul was a bound servant of Nex's in the long war with Geb. He was ultimately imprisoned by a lich in Geb's service after years of battling the Nefeshti and the Templars across Northwestern Geb. Our heroes released Jhavul thinking he would help them overthrow Geb, and they might be right: Jhavul, after all, can find Nex and if Nex can be found and killed the the ghost of Geb will die.

Thank you Ravenloft for providing enough fun creepy Egyptian themed crypts (Touch of Death, for example) to up the necromantic ante and capture the feeling of Geb by the way. I really hope the good folks at Paizo will mine this trove when they get around to writing up Geb officially. I know I am having a blast using these resources to make my Geb as horrifyingly terrific as possible.

Scarab Sages

Set wrote:

Thanks James, that's some pretty juicy info there!

Agreed, and it does make the analogue to Marc Antony a lot more clear. Corruption as a result of perceived abandonment makes a lot of sense. It does make one wonder what sort of conflict might arise between the three power groups in Geb:

1. The ghost of Geb, obsessed with Nex and tracking down the 'proof' that he still lives. Uncaring about the nation as a whole except insofar as it provides it with the ability to seek out Nex.

2. Arazni, lust-crazed with power and unlife filled with contempt for Iomedae and hatred for the Knights of Ozem (who I just remembered, summoned her to lead the crusade, a far cry from my initial thought that it was Arazni herself who started the Shining Crusade) and seeking always their destruction from far-off Geb.

3. The necromantic cabal of spellcasters and intelligent undead who constitute the aristocracy of Geb, scheming to advance themselves at the cost of their companions.

I also wonder how the fact that Geb is a 'society under glass' from Osirion impacts the quest for the past that the current Ruby Prince in Sothis has undertaken. Proving his legtimacy might be a big part of reclaiming the title of Pharoah and Geb seems like the most likely repository of that kind of proof since it was part and parcel of the empire during the days of the God-Kings and never fell to Qadira.

Scarab Sages

James Jacobs wrote:

The mention of Arazni being a mummy was 100% an error that slipped through the editorial process.

We first mentioned Arazni as being a wizard lich in Pathfinder #2. She's one of the very first NPCs we mentioned in Pathfinder.

The idea of a crusading paladin or cleric is fine... but cliche to a certain extent. By making Arazni a crusading wizard, that gives her a REALLY neat hook for her backstory... which is why we developed her backstory the way we did.

So what does that make Arazni like now?

What does she think of her life as a crusading wizard, goddess Herald of Aroden, who fell by the hand of a mortal lich?

What does she think of ruling a nation run by liches and vampires in an endless mockery of the culture of Osirion serving a ghost of a necromancer obssessed with a vanished arch-nemesis?

What makes her a 'Harlot Queen'? One suspects the the ghost of Geb the necromancer engaged in foul perversity with her corpse making the term necromancy more necrophiliac than we usually portray in the gaming convention as part of corrupting her. Putting that idea together with Set's very helpful insights into the possible means of obtaining Arazni's participation in becoming a lich makes for a dark tale of corruption that feels Lovecraftian.

What does Arazni think of the death of Aroden and the rise of Iomedae? As a lich, Arazni seems a kind of distaff Mark Antony, corrupted by the decadence of Geb but longing always to claim the throne of the departed Aroden (Julius Caesar) and being thwarted by Iomedae (Augustus).

As a mummy, many of these questions become moot because her body is prisoner to the curse imposed on it by the ghost of Geb. The person that was Arazni is hostage, somewhere inside, of the monster that was created by the ghost's work. The curse of the ghost would define her being, enslaving her to her task of guarding its realm and fulfilling its commands. She would have free will but that free will would be constantly frustrated by her imprisonment in the form of a mummy. Her harlotry would then be, perhaps, the one debased release she has from her enslavement to the ghost's command.

As a lich, however, all of these questions become relevant. Arazni the lich has to have had some thought of the vaccuum created by Aroden's death, the stirring of the Whispering Tyrant, the insanity of the ghost's endless quest for signs of Nex, and so many other things that would interest and concern a lich who once possessed such incredible power.

As a DM, I am determined to choose the conception of Arazni that makes her most 'real'. I welcome your thoughts on how to choose and what, if a lich, Arazni would be like.

Scarab Sages

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I am working up Arazni, Harlot Queen of Geb, for the campaign. She is a bit of a challenge since her official writings point toward an odd creation.

Officially, she was a Goddess, the Herald of Aroden, killed by Tar-Baphon during the Shining Crusade. She was buried by her followers and her corpse was stolen by Geb and reanimated to serve as his Harlot Queen.

So far, so good. Chilling story that brings together two of the greatest undead menaces of Golarion--the Whispering Tyrant and Geb the Ghost-King and the long saga of Aroden and his heralds (for whom immortality seems to be no cure for death). It is a great arc and really makes divinity in Golarion seem to be the true 'Epic' stage of adventuring.

But then we consider her reanimation and the rules. Officially, Arazni is a lich. In a disavowed description (from Classic Horrors Revisited), she is a mummy. I think her being a mummy makes sense according to the rules and the story but I want to get input from the community before I declare it so in my version of Golarion. Lets examine the rules:

**********
“Lich” is an acquired template that can be added to any living creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature), provided it can create the required phylactery. A lich retains all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here. Each lich must create its own phylactery by using the Craft Wondrous Item feat. The character must be able to cast spells and have a caster level of 11th or higher. The pinnacle of necromantic art, the lich is a spellcaster who has chosen to shed his life as a method to cheat death by becoming undead. While many who reach such heights of power stop at nothing to achieve immortality, the idea of becoming a lich is abhorrent to most creatures. The process involves the extraction of the spellcaster's life-force and its imprisonment in a specially prepared phylactery—the spellcaster gives up life, but in trapping life he also traps his death, and as long as his phylactery remains intact he can continue on in his research and work without fear of the passage of time.
The quest to become a lich is a lengthy one. While construction of the magical phylactery to contain the spellcaster's soul is a critical component, a prospective lich must also learn the secrets of transferring his soul into the receptacle and of preparing his body for the transformation into undeath, neither of which are simple tasks. Further complicating the ritual is the fact that no two bodies or souls are exactly alike—a ritual that works for one spellcaster might simply kill another or drive him insane. The exact methods for each spellcaster's transformation are left to the GM's discretion, but should involve expenditures of hundreds of thousands of gold pieces, numerous deadly adventures, and a large number of difficult skill checks over the course of months, years, or decades.

*****

Mummies are created through a rather lengthy and gruesome embalming process, during which all of the body's major organs are removed and replaced with dried herbs and flowers. After this process, the flesh is anointed with sacred oils and wrapped in purified linens. The creator then finishes the ritual with a create undead spell.

Although most mummies are created merely as guardians and remain loyal to their charge until their destruction, certain powerful mummies have much more free will. The majority are at least 10th-level clerics, and are often kings or pharaohs who have called upon dark gods or sinister necromancers to bind their souls to their bodies after death—usually as a means to extend their rule beyond the grave, but at times simply to escape what they fear will be an eternity of torment in their own afterlife.

***

Comparing the two, it sure looks like Arazni would have had to have been resurrected BEFORE Geb could make her into a lich. A resurrected Arazni would be a neat trick, assuming that the process of bringing a dead god back to life is at least as demanding as that which killed the god. Geb, we assume, has that much power since he is on par with Tar-Baphon and even more ancient. But why would he do such a thing?
Isn't it simpler and more consistent to say that Geb would use Arazni's body and animate her as a mummy to guard his nation while he seeks out Nex?

Consider this flavor text on the mummy:

Not just any corpse can spontaneously manifest as a mummy. GMs interested in creating mummies resurrected “naturally” (rather than by spells like create undead) should consider the passion and force of will of the would-be mummy. By and large, a corpse should be of a creature with a Charisma of 15 or higher and possessing at least 8 Hit Dice. In addition, it should have a reason for caring about the eternal sanctity of its remains in excess of normal mortal concern. As such, priests of deities with the Death or Repose domains, heroes expecting a champion’s burial, lords of cultures preoccupied with the afterlife, or individuals otherwise obsessed with death or their worldly possessions all make suitable candidates for resurrection as mummies—though countless other potential reasons for resurrection exist.
**

With that as an inspiration, what being could be more preoccuppied with the afterlife than the slain body of a God? Surely the flesh itself has the spark of eternal life in it still and since Arazni was the warrior-herald of Aroden her focus on the power of life and death had to be significant. Hitting the Charisma and HD minimum is a snap for the body of a Demigoddess, especially one charismatic enough to lead a crusade against the greatest evil Avistan saw during the time of Aroden.

It just makes more sense that Arazni would be a mummy, animated and tasked by Geb with the protection of his kingdom. Her debasement (to warrant the title Harlot Queen) could have been that Geb used all sorts of vile rituals to inject the negative energy of undeath into her properly buried and sanctified corpse. Her nature would therefore be that which Geb gave her and not her own spirit, which is tormented and trapped in the form.

Lichdom, on the other hand, seems to require real willfullnes and intention. The desire to live forever and continue acquiring power is the obsession of a lich. Arazni already had eternal life as a god, what possible corruption could drive her resurrected self to become a lich in Geb while her crusad continued to the North?

On the other hand, as a mummy her corpse would be bound to the task set for it by the Ghost of Geb and her true spirit would not have chosen to participate in this. The Knights of Ozem failed to guard her body and thus have a quest to redeem themselves rather than a quest that could only reveal that their patron goddess abandoned them and betrayed their ideals. Arazni would not have betrayed her nature, her spirit would instead be tormented by the foul uses to which the Ghost of Geb put her corpse.

Finally, the powers of Mummy-Harlot Queen Arazni seem much more fitting for her role than the powers of a Lich-Harlot Queen Arazni. As a mummy, we can employ this variant of mummy rot:

Phantom Infestation: The victim of this form of mummy rot bears the marks of one whose flesh is beset by worms or parasitic vermin. Though the skin breaks with scars, verminous trails, and minute bites, no infestation is ever witnessed, at least until the body bursts in an eruption of scarab beetles upon the victim’s death.

Her corpse could be given advanced powers through Geb's significant necromantic experience, perhaps even including her being able to access her divine powers directly. The aura of despair upon seeing her is entirely consistent with what one would feel upon seeing a divine figure horrifically corrupted into an undead servant of evil.

As a lich, we gain the rejuvenation ability of the phylactery but we also have to accept that huge Achilles-heel. We gain a paralyzing touch and fear aura and, perhaps most importantly, keep all her spellcasting abilities (minimum 11th level). But that begs an important question: would Arazni, warrior-herald of Aroden have a caster level of 11 or better? If she were a paladin in life, perhaps. But Arazni strikes me as more warrior than paladin. She was defeated by Tar-Baphon and a paladin-goddess would surely have been using every one of the tricks and powers of paladin-hood to overcome the lich. A fighter-goddess, on the other hand, might not have had a smite/channel/holy spell to reach for and found herself overcome by the lich's spells when her sword proved unable to breach his defenses. Arazni as a fighter-goddess also makes sense of Iomedae's nature as a paladin-goddess. After all, if Aroden lost a herald because she lacked the extra punch of paladinhood, perhaps he selected his next herald with more concern for magical power?

Just some musings, please help me by offering your thoughts on Arazni and what makes sense for her origin.

Scarab Sages

northbrb wrote:

i have a small problem, i have a character concept i want to play.

i want to play a commando style character who can ware up to medium armor move faster while stealthing waring that armor, can move without leaving a trace.

the big problem is that if i want to do this i need to multiclass as a fighter of 3rd level, a rogue of 2nd level, a ranger of 7th level and a druid of 3rd level.

now should i try out this multiclass character who ends up getting a bunch of abilities i don't want or should i just make my own base class?

I would do neither. I would suggest making a ranger that moves into a prestige class at level 6. The prestige class should be called something like "Commando" and feature a full BAB, no spell progression, good fort and will save, and special abilities that have your character with all the desired abilities by character level 15.

Prestige classes are the perfect mechanism for making this kind of character concept, one that fits well within a base class, but offers a customized suite of abilities at higher levels to suit the concept.

Thats what I would have any player in any game I run do. It is a lot more intelligible than the F3/R2/Rgr7/Drd3 that you are proposing. (And your character stats won't lag behind a sole class character much either)
:)

Scarab Sages

AlQahir wrote:

I thought I would start a thread where people can post things the would and would not like to see in the new Magus class. It seems there is a new fighter-mage (Magus) thread every other week, but this time it is more of a wish list of abilities that we would like the Magus to have. Since the developers want Magus to supplant "Gish" as the word that means fighter-mage, and since many never liked the word gish to begin with, AND since we all want to earn extra credit from the developers so they'll listen to our ideas, lets make this a 'gish-free thread :)

Things I'd like to see in the new Magus class:

1- An ability to deliver spells through a weapon.
2- Flexible armor penalty reduction to support multiple build concepts. Meaning not just "can cast spells in X armor . . ." but "reduces the spell failure of armor by X% . . ." This supports those that want to wear all types of armor.
3- Bonus to casting spells in melee.
4- D10 hit die.
5- A broad or multiple spell list(s) to facilitate different builds or concepts.
6- Cool flavor. I would love to see something along the lines of the cavalier orders that would give the magus different abilities, and control which spells they had access to.
7- Magus (or even better, order) specific spells.

Things I DON'T want to see:

1- Paladin/ranger spell progression.
2- Full spell progression.
3- Full BAB
4- Prohibited magic schools.
5- Unrestricted access to all schools like a sorcerer or universalist wizard.

I know some of the things I put on the list seem contradictory (d10 hit dice with 3/4 BAB), and others seem like I was obfuscating (not wizard/sorcerer spell progression and not ranger/paladin which leaves . . .), but I think that this class may be an opportunity to break the mold. I don't think the magus must have a bard equivalent spell progression, but that a brand new magus spell progression might be the way to go.

Likewise I wouldn't mind seeing a different casting mechanic then we have seen before. Depending on flavor text I could...

I want to see an arcane caster whose proficiencies and spell progressions and HD align with the cleric. I want his special abilities to focus on channelling spell power through his weapon and being able to cast spells at the same time as making a single melee attack. Lastly, I want him to have 4+Int Skill Points and UMD needs to be a critical skill for him.

Finally, in terms of flavor, I want him to be more Rune magic and less book magic. I think it is essential that he not be a bookworm and instead be someone who's body fuels the magic. For that reason, I would love it if CON was his primary magic-generating stat and if using his spells drained HP as he goes along.

And I think the name Magus is excellent for the class.

Scarab Sages

DMFTodd wrote:

Pale Mountain Region map from House of the Beast with a hex overlay: Click Here.

The scale is wrong. Kingmaker says hexes should be 12 miles, hex on this map makes it about 3 miles. I just felt that this sized-up better on the map.

Perfect!

I am running my crew through a LoF set in Geb (I like the ancient Egyptian/undead feel better than Arabian Knights) and using the Kingmaker rule-set/concept allows me to build in hexes with various great Egyptian style adventures of old (Pharoah, Necropolis, etc.) and this map is JUST what I needed!

The adjustments I have made is to make the campaign focused on destroying Geb's ghost and freeing Geb from the tyranny of the undead by carving out a realm free of their taint.

This is part of why I love Paizo so much. They give us room to take their great ideas, customize it, and make a module or adventure path into something much more personalized.

Thank you all.

Scarab Sages

I do think that it makes sense that the lawful gods would have had larger hierarchies but that those organizations do not currently operate on a global scale.

Examples from my Golarion:

Asmodeus: In Cheliax, his church is extremely rigid and hierarchical, supervised by devils directly. This church operates fist-in-glove with the House of Thrune as an empire and is actively promoting the expansion of the Asmodean faith across Golarion. As a result, outside Cheliax, the Asmodean faith is suppressed most vigorously by those states opposed to Cheliax and elsewhere viewed as a Chelish inflitration generally. To counteract that, some Asmodean groups explicitly defy Chelish emissaries in the hopes of currying local favor or protection. In all of this, Asmodeus encourages the competition among groups to weed out the weak and to insure the maximum spread of evil.

Sarenrae: Sarenrae's faith was once completely hierarchical, organized in the great Empire of which Qadira is only the westernmost satrapy. The loss of Osirion as a satrap was predicated by an internal schism within the faith of Sarenrae (similar to the Sunni/Shia split in Islam) based on the intended successor to the role of First Imam of the Dawnflower. For 10 years, the Dawnflower did not speak to her followers on the question of who to follow and has since expressed her view that the office of First Imam be abolished in favor of each High Priest communing directly with the Dawnflower. As a result, the hierarchy has become organized around cultural groups and a priest may receive a dispensation to either adventure/missionary or transfer to another home church. Each church operates within the Communion of Dawn, an annual planet-wide communion with Sarenrae on the dawning of the Vernal Equinox when the Dawnflower provides all her High Priests with guidance for the coming year and disputes are ironed out. Gaining title as a High Priest is thus extremely coveted among Sarenrae's faithful.

Aroden: Aroden's faith was, and is, still completely hierarchical. At one point, the Pontifex Maximus of Aroden had the power to crown Emperors and impose peace treaties on nations. That title has not been filled, however, since the last Pontiff committed suicide on the first anniversary of Aroden's disappearance. Now, the few remaining priests of Aroden act on their own best understanding of the dictates (or Bulls) of the long-dead Pontiff.

Iomedae: Iomedae directs the acts of her church directly and commissions crusades on her own. In that regard, she takes a much more hands-on approach than either Aroden or her predecessor as herald, Arazni. The organization of her church is seamless and unified but its highest mortal level is that of the temple. Above temples, the hierarchy is completely celestial in nature and military in organization with Iomedae as commander-in-chief. The Mendevian Crusade, for example, is supervised by a General that happens to be a Solar and many regional groupings of temples are coordinated by the ascended spirits of high priests whose eternal rewards are to lead the faithful on Golarion to even greater glories on behalf of the Inheritor.

I don't think any of this contradicts the text of the various published sources but it helps me to give my lawful clerics a better sense of their place. Abadar's system hasn't been fully developed by me yet but I suspect he would also have a mixed mortal/celestial hierarchy dominated by LN outsiders focused on the harnessing and sheltering of wealth without concern for national ambitions. Of the various Lawful gods, I think only Asmodeus has a real hand on a nation's pulse and most priests, I would think, would find the cause of nations pedestrian and jejeune compared to the real struggle for divine power and worshipper's souls.

Scarab Sages

I think the Tier analysis is pretty correct overall, as is the purpose behind it (to allow the DM to give players options to make their characters interesting to play at all levels in the campaign.

In my opinion:
PF Tier I: Wizard, Cleric
Solution if other PCs are in lower tiers--d4 Wizard HD and control of spells made available, i.e., only specialty/universal school are automatically available for the Wizard and for Clerics only spells compatible with their deity's nature are available. In both cases, spells outside of the Core are only made available through in-game role-playing (discovery or creation). Also, casting spells of the PCs highest level available is always a full round action. (After all, isn't it the highest level spell that is the one the PC needs to make the biggest splash?)

PF Tier II: Druid, Sorcerer, Paladin
Solution if other PCs are in lower tiers--Druid has to give up wild shape or the animal companion (no doubt which one a min/maxer would choose but reducing the animal companion as a flanker/extra attacker is a big deal in), Sorcerer has to abide by the casting rule for a wizard and can't pick a spell he hasn't seen in-game, and the Paladin has her moral code enforced strictly and defined explicitly.

Solution if other PCs are in higher tiers--Allow PCs to play a non-standard race with up to 2 racial HD or Nat Armor/Nat Attack of up to +2/2d6 or Scent special ability but no special movement forms or spell-like abilities.

PF Tier III: Fighter, Rogue, Bard
Solution if other PCs are in lower tiers(Unlikely as this is the realistic mediocre tier)--Fighter is restrained best by access to equipment, magical and otherwise. Rogue is restrained best by sliding her back down to a d6 hit die. The Bard is easily restrained through limiting social skill check situations.

Solution if other PCs are in higher tiers--As above but include spell-like abilities that reflect 1st or second level spells and potentially one non-standard movement form (swim before burrow before flight). Remove the dex penalty for ride checks for the Fighter, give the fighter an exotic weapon proficiency for free, allow Rogues to access a black market on a successful appraise check which will allow them to obtain non-standard items in excess of community limit (DC equal to 10+ 5% over community limit), and allow Bards to swap out skill ranks whenever Versatile performance makes prior skill buys irrelevant.

PF Tier IV: Monk, Barbarian
Solution if other PCs are in higher tiers--Introduce 'Break' mechanics for Monks to allow them to destroy/bypass barriers with a successful concentration check, give them a bonus on concentration checks equal to class level, and allow Flurry of Blows to be a standard action each day for a number of rounds equal to the monk's wisdom modifier. For the Barbarian allow character, when Raging, to automatically confirm critical hits.

The Tier system has been very helpful for me, as a DM, to adjust PC specific house rules to keep everyone happy. Usually I apply a combination of these suggested house rules to calibrate the group. In the end, you can also accomplish a lot of calibration simply by adjusting party treasure to suit the needs of the group. Everyone at the table should feel like they have a place to shine.

Scarab Sages

In my use of the Cavalier class I have handled those two questions as follows:

1) The cavalier's mount gains proficiency in all armor types as per the wording of combat training under the handle animal skill.

'The mount is always considered combat trained' ... and 'An animal trained in this way counts as trained for war, and becomes proficient with all forms of armor.'

I treat the language about light armor proficiency in the playtest as surplusage. It doesn't contradict the description of combat training and only leaves out the other types of armor the mount is also proficient in.

2) The tricks mentioned under combat training are the mount's but they count against his available tricks total. As the general purpose 'combat training' has six tricks, the mount must have at least INT 2. He gets a bonus trick at 1st level with the mount since it is an animal companion. Given that all the mounts listed have INT 2, I have allowed my cavalier player to add the bonus trick but to consider the other available slots filled by the combat training tricks.

Scarab Sages

I think Dragon magazine was a great incubator of ideas and laboratory of game concepts. In the old days of AD&D, before Unearthed Arcana was published, the resistance to new classes for PCs was legendary but Dragon found so much positive reception to some of their NPC classes (bandit and anti-paladin for example) that it allowed grognard DMs everywhere to try adding new PC classes when they appeared (cavalier and barbarian being the two big ones in AD&D, one becoming pretty iconic in the game and the second still having a pretty valuable niche as the PFRPG APG is going to show).

I think the PFRPG has not yet come anywhere close to the problem 3.5 had near the end where it was mechanically foolish to play an original base class and forego the later base classes. Each base class in the PFRPG is playable and interesting. I am especially fond of the upgraded fighter, bard and sorcerer adjustments. Each was close to a mandatory prestige class buff in order to hang in with a regular party of adventurers above 7th level.

Rogue, wizard, cleric, and paladin all got great flavor enhancements to make them much more customizable and flavoraful. While the monk, druid, and barbarian didn't change as much, they were all pretty uniquely colored anyway and I think still fit their niche.

The problems with Pathfinder, as I described earlier, are not problems that can't be house-ruled away. Ranger combat style additions are easy to house rule, for example, as is racial flavor being added back into the pot. I did want to identify the aspects of the RAW that I think could be enhanced without disrupting game balance in future works by Paizo.

The potential problems with Pathfinder are clear to see from AD&D 2.0 and 3.5: the need for new product leading to the endless creation of new base classes that parasitically consume the niche of existing classes.

I hope that problem will be solved by resisting the urge to 'base class' every conceivable character role. For that reason, until I playtested them, I was worried about the new classes in the APG. After playtesting them, I am delighted to see the Cavalier come in but I am probably going to prohibit the others. I just don't see them as 'iconic' enough in result to warrant inclusion and risk seeing my wizards and clerics and sorcerers go away. I think the others are much better done as prestige classes.

I love 3PP and have adopted wholesale the 'spell-less ranger' from Kobold Quarterly, for example. (I hate the name but love the build and wish we saw more 'variant' class options rather than whole new classes; for some reason it just seems easier to fit into the game.)

Prestige classes are still fun (especially when the DM does his job on what to allow into his game in prestige classes) and I would highly encourage more customization within the existing classes rather than the addition of new classes.

I hope to see further growth in the PFRPG go along these paths to avoid the problems late 3.5 developed while still allowing for a ton of publishing material:

racial alternate level abilities allowing a PC to do something especially 'halfling' as his halfling fighter levels up, at his choice, without leaving the fighter class

concept customization within the existing classes (like the spell-less ranger, or additional combat styles, or a druid who foregoes wild shaping to gain an enhanced or additional animal companion, or a monk who foregoes unarmed combat improvement to become more of a mystic with alternate unarmed damage options)

monstrous race inclusion into the game

Profession and Craft skills that provide synergies to other skill checks, making the herbalist into a better healer for example

Traits being included into the game as an 'always campaign specific' boon for characters and as a way for the DM and party together to make their game much more PC-anchored.

Spell component customization rules that can make spell casting more potent or impactful should the magic-user collect and cultivate the right components

Legacy weapons or rules allowing PCs to see their signature tools upgrade in potency through the application of dedicated role-playing

I hope to see minimized the following:
a) new base classes
b) new feat trees that offer real power upgrades without significant prerequisite requirements
c) gunpowder, clockworks, and other artifice of the modern world being given to PCs as an ordinary piece of equipment.
d) Gestalt mechanics allowing any one PC to operate without need of a group

Scarab Sages

I have been running PFRPG games now for about a year, after running 3.5 for 4 years, and AD&D for 5 years (with about a decade off just playing computer AD&D 2).

My problems with Pathfinder (all pretty easily fixed by small house rules):

1. The increased feat progression (1/2 levels rather than 1/3 levels) disadvantages the fighter class unnecessarily; the other classes have a raft of special abilities so that feats are not as critical, fighters on the other hand need to be seen as the feat-monster class so that someone who wants to have a ton of special moves in combat know where to stay.

2. The ranger class didn't get additional combat styles, and the RAW actually seem to discourage additional combat styles more than 3.5. The 'archetypal' ranger combat style boils down to the archer and Drizz't. I just don't buy that, having the ranger from AD&D hard-wired into my brain and believing that 'combat style' really just stands for a fighter who has had to focus himself on one kind of combat to compensate for all the time he spends studying his favored enemy and learning survival skills.

3. The wizard class needs to be less hardy than the sorcerer class. That d4 has always been the 'magic-user die' and to take it from him in his hit points and spell damage dice is a homogenization of the game I just don't see as necessary. Let the sorcerer have his d6 HD, he needs it since he doesn't have the spell variety and intellect of the wizard. The wizard needs to be given a reason to avoid combat like the plague and to see 'Tenser's Transformation' as the sell-out sacrifice to combat when all his meatshields have gone away.

4. Halflings should be sling and rock-chucking hobbits, not kleptomaniac kender. I have always disliked the loss of Tolkien's archetype that Dragonlance made into the main game. Kender are great on Krynn but the halfling niche shouldn't be abandoned everywhere. After all, on Krynn, gnomes are made into crazed tinkerers whereas everywhere else they are treated as midget elves. Niches matter and I don't like stealing away Bilbo and Frodo, Merry and Pippin.

5. Monstrous PCs are much more difficult to create since the Savage Species rules-set doesn't really transfer smoothly to the PFRPG. I only rarely have a player who wants to play something unsual (as a long-time DM though, I almost never want to give up my broad pallette of choices when I move back into the role of a player, playing a dragon PC and then a centaur PC were epic joys for me) but having the rules available to make it happen quickly was really helpful.

Those are my 5 concerns with Pathfinder. 4 are easily house-ruled and the fifth just takes custom attention and collaboration between DM and player, never a bad thing.

All told, I am well ahead on balance as PFRPG makes core classing better, combat faster, skill management easier, and character differentiation clearer. And it comes wrapped up in some of the best looking and written material I have read in my entire 25 years gaming.

Scarab Sages

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Note: This information is being developed for use in a 1-20 PFRPG campaign using the 1st 2 volumes of Legacy of Fire as a jumping off point. The information about the Legions of Geb was created by Set, some of the naming conventions were assimilated from Hamunaptra, and much of the remaining information is adapted from real world information about the Pharoahs of Meroe and the known history of ancient Egypt. The core conceit of the nation is that of a society frozen socially by undeath and rooted in the ideal of Egypt's Old Kingdom. I welcome feedback on this so I can deepen and develop it further and perhaps even help the Paizonauts in making Geb as glorious a Necropolis as possible.

Geb was founded immediately prior to Osirion's Age of the Black Sphinx, in -1550 AR. After the unification of Osirion's large empire under the Four Pharaohs of Ascension, Geb became a valuable breadbasket for the empire and a peaceful and verdant colony. It was said of Geb that neither conflict nor storm ever disturbed the peace of her amber fields. The Mwangi Expanse was kept safely isolated by the Barrier Mountains, raised up to immense beauty by the powerful magics of the Pharoah Djederet IV, who sent the first colony south to Geb. The land was colonized as the southernmost outpost of empire, sending food north through the grasslands of what are now Nex and Katapesh. The 'Drive to the South' was the program of the Djederet Dynasty, in direct contrast to the work of the An Dynasty which reached to the North and West and in response to the rising power of Taldor, successor state to Azlant. The Djederet Dynasty eventually collapsed under Djederet V 'The Pharoah of 3 Moons', who produced no heirs and whose dissolute ways caused Osirion to fragment into competing lines of self-proclaimed Pharoahs after a reign lasting only 3 months in -1515.

In -1498 AR, the Four Pharaohs of Ascension consolidated their rule of Osirion, bringing about the kingdom's second age. Their forces defeat the Tekritanin League in -1452 AR, incorporating a number of their city-states while destroying others. With the alliance complete, Osirion prospered, fueling its wealth with an enslaved underclass, sourced from its conquered neighbors. Each year the four pharaohs return inside a hidden pyramid known as Ahn’Selota and renew their mystic pact using an artifact known as the Pact Stone. Their pact caused the simultaneous death of the Four Pharoahs of Ascension in -1451 AR. In Geb, the locals believed that the visible pyramid of Ahn'Selota in Tumen was merely a gateway to the actual retreat of the Four Pharoahs of Ascension hidden somewhere in their peaceful land, far from the prying eyes of priests and aristocrats.

Osirion begin to decline around -1431 AR but remained the dominant power of Garund and fiercely independent of foreign influence.

Geb became independent of Osirion in -1206 AR, proclaiming a kingdom recognizing the Pharoah in Sothis as the source of his authority. An annual tribute of grain satisfied the Pharoah, whose power continued to recede to the North.

The necromancer now known as Geb was exiled from Osirion in -1189 and moved to Geb, installing himself as king after a brief period of struggle with the native nobility. He consolidated his power and took on the name Geb, proclaiming himself God-King in the Osirian tradition in -1180.

Geb and Nex first went to war in -892 AR.

Geb won the war of almost 1500 years in 576 AR when Nex disappeared during a magical attack on his capital of Quantium.

In 637 AR, Geb returned as a ghost to resume control over the land.

In 3890 AR, Geb stole the corpse of Arazni from the Knights of Ozem, and reanimated her as a lich. Nowadays, Geb rarely appears before his people. Arazni, the Harlot Queen of Geb, rules in his stead.

In 4606 AR, Aroden died and the Age of Lost Omens began. In Geb, Arazni proclaimed a year-long celebration of the end of Aroden. At the end of the festival year, trade resumed with Nex (for Onyx in exchange for food) and an ambassador was sent to Absalom for the first time in recorded history. The living ambassador has taken up residence but has sent no emissaries nor attended any functions. He has, however, been cultivating information about Osirion and the Pathfinder Society.

4710 AR, current year.

Current Summary:
Geb was once a beautiful verdant colony of a great nation called Osirion. Geb was eventually given over to a powerful wizard to protect and defend on behalf of the 4 Pharoahs. This wizard took on the name of this colony and his power was unquestioned. Eventually, however, a rival wizard called Nex took over the land dividing Geb from Osirion and a centuries-long conflict ensued between the two wizard-kings. The land was devastated and Geb resorted to using huge armies of undead, animated from his own subjects, to carry the fight to Nex. Geb fell into shadow and evil and became completely obsessed with killing Nex. When Nex ultimately disappeared, Geb went completely insane and committed ritual suicide because he was denied his ability to triumph over Nex. His death did not end his existence and his spirit arose as a ghost, continuing to rule over the ashes of Geb. Now, centuries later, the land is still governed by the ghost of Geb and his undead aristocracy. Your party of living adventurers have been raised in this land and seen the fate that awaits you when Geb's fleshforges take your corpses. One of you has been told that there is hope for Geb, that his ghost can be destroyed once and for all and the others of you have decided (out of belief, desperation, or resignation) to take up the path of the adventurer in the hopes of destroying the undead master of your land. To the West, the vast jungle of the Mwangi Expanse holds untold dangers and wealth. To the North, the Mana Wastes where magic does not function and the ironworks of Alkenstar turn out curious weapons and mechanical monstrosities and beyond that Nex, kingdom of magic, and Osirion, original home of Geb's people. Rumors abound of hidden pockets of othe resisters against Geb's tyranny within Geb and perhaps they would be inclined to work with you in your quest.

Warm winds from the Obari Ocean creates lush grassland in Geb, allowing crops to prosper. The fields are mainly worked by mindless undead, and foodstuffs is Geb’s major export. They trade food to Nex in return for rare components and luxury goods. They also trade food to Alkenstar, in return for the city state’s ice wine, which is a favourite of Geb’s nobility. The Axan Wood suffered badly in the war between Nex and Geb. The trees of this twisted forest are all either dead or undead, and it is home to many strange creatures. Some, such as deadwood dryads, nightwolves and twilight unicorns, are unique to this location. The Axanir river network rises in the Shattered Range in the Mwangi Expanse (where in some cases it forms a natural boundary with Geb). The various major tributaries meet up and flow south of the Axan Wood into the Obari Ocean. The ancient mountains of the Shattered Range in southeastern Garund stretch from the uninhabited lands south of Geb to the center of Nex's western border with the Mwangi Expanse. Between these nations, the city-state of Alkenstar stands tall atop the Hellfallen Cliffs on the banks of the Ustradi River, whose own headwaters are found in the mountains within the desolate Mana Wastes. Mysterious ruins of long-abandoned Mwangi cities lie strewn throughout the jungles of the forlorn mountains as well as at least one ruined flying city of legendary Shory.

Provinces of Geb and Osirion are known as Sepats. Names involve components like Meren 'beloved of', Mose 'son of', Neter 'god', Neb 'Lord', Ka 'spirt of life', Ba 'soul', and Aha 'fighter/warrior'. Gebbite vocabulary: Pir-Aa (Pharoah), Kandare (King), Sirdar (Count), Bashar (General), Pesedjer (Human), Anpur (Gnoll), Asari (Halfling), Esetiri (Elf), Peseshet (Half-Elf), Ptahmenu (Dwarf), Sutekhra (Gnome), Bahati (Monk), Beqenu (Fighter), Ghaffir (Paladin), Hekai (Sorceror), Kama'at (Druid), Khasti (Barbarian), Khebenti (Rogue), Kheri-Heb (Wizard), Shenu (Bard), Priest (Cleric), Heka (Magic).

In Geb, most of the citizenry are Pesedjer (80%). Esetiri (1%), Ptahmenu (1%), and Asari (1%) are exceedingly rare and almost exclusively slaves of Geb's undead aristocracy. Peseshet (2%) are very valuable slave stock, but are also never free citizens. Sutekhra (5%) are the most favored of demihumans, being the original servitors of Geb in his initial exile from Osirion. Today Sutekhra alone have direct contact with Geb's ghost and serve almost exclusively as his spies and covert agents. Anpur are not officially accorded citizen status in Geb but do acknowledge the power of Geb and do not raid the lands as they do in other realms. All the rest of the kingdomn are organized under the Blood Lords with Arazni as Queen.

The armies of Geb are divided into four Legions, the Legion of Ash, which is the only one composed of living warriors, the Crimson Legion, composed of zombies, ghouls, ghasts, wights and vampires, the Pale Legion, composed of shadows, wraiths, specters and ghosts, and the Ivory Legion, composed primarily of skeletons and liches.

At least, this is what is known to outsiders. In truth, the skeletons and liches represent only the two extremes of the ‘Ivory Legion,’ called in Geb the Ineb-Hedj, or ‘the White Wall.’ In between these mindless drudges and extraordinary skilled archwizards and high priests lies an entire rank of skeletal dead not commonly known outside of Geb, the ruthlessly efficient Bone Soldiers of the Ivory Legion.

A Bone Soldier is awakened into unlife through the use of create undead cast by an 11th level or higher level caster. Deep within the Mortuarium of Yled is an altar of obsidian and rusted iron, dedicated to Urgathoa, which casts this spell multiple times per night upon those who die slowly, impaled upon its six gruesome iron spikes, so long as it is attended by an 11th level or higher Cleric of Urgathoa. The animated corpses of sacred flesh-devouring beetles pour from hidden lairs within the altar itself to strip the dying sacrifices of their flesh, with the assistance of ghoul acolytes, while the magic of the altar keeps their skeletons intact as it fills them with necromantic energy. In eight hours time, the ritual is complete, and the six selected victims lift their now fleshless frames from the altars spikes to take up service in the Ivory Legion. Even without the power of this relic, the city of Yled has several necromancers and clergymen capable of creating new Bone Soldiers, and can easily field a dozen replacements in a single night.

The soldiers of the Ivory Legion are specialized skeletons, that retain some semblance of intellect, although, as with the shadows of memory left behind that can be contacted via speak with dead, the actual souls of the skeletons former living selves are not retained. Still, these kaybet, or ‘shadows on the soul,’ as they are called in Orisirion and Geb, can retain intellect and even some memories of the person that once walked in those bones. More importantly, from a military perspective, these shadow-souls retain enough intellectual capacity to be able to access some of the feats and skills of the original person, although PC class abilities are not retained.

Settlements: (Paaleq, Swenet, Pa-Sebek, Djeba, Nekhen, Djerty, Waset, Nebyet, Gebtu, Abedjou, Tjeny, Shashotep, Yenyet, Zawty, Hebenu, Hardai, Shedyet, Khem, Tanta, Avaris, Imet, Meroe)

Axan is at the headwaters of the Axanir River's northernmost arm, surrounded by the mountains of the Shattered Range. The small village of 500 is dominated by Lord Knucklebones, a ghast who was given this post by the Blood Lords 40 years ago after a long career as a living spy inside Nex. The valley village has one inn, run by a fat human Keleshite named Jonas and is the trade hub for caravans going into the Shattered Range and Alkenstar. Hidden somewhere in the mountains near Axan is a secret colony of halflings called Asar. Asar is the only known source of 'Desnaberries', a fruit that carries the power of gentle repose and is reputedly invisible except under certain mystical circumstances. Every 6 months, a caravan from Asar appears in Axan and unloads a shipment of Desnaberries in tribute to Geb and thereby obtaining their continued anonymity.

Greydirge is in the foothills of the Shattered Range, in the land of Geb. The normal custom of Geb is to re-animate its citizens as undead once they die. Greydirge is built out of the bones of those Gebbites who were unwilling or unable to be reanimated. Its inhabitants no doubt have their own reasons for living in a city-sized ossuary. Its one notable feature is the Empty Threshold, a temple of Zon-Kuthon.

Mechitar (pronounced meh-KEE-tar)[1] is the capital of the undead realm of Geb, and its second-largest city. The necromancer Geb, now a ghost, remains the head of state. He rarely manifests before the people, so the acting ruler is the lich Arazni, Harlot Queen of Geb. The country’s day-to-day affairs are managed by the Blood Lords, an aristocracy of powerful living and undead necromancers. The chief Blood Lord is the vampire Kemnebi, who holds the office of chancellor. Other Blood Lords include Kamose, Merenptah, Sinuhe, Ammit, Menkaure, Seti, and Horemheb.

Yled (pronounced EH-lehd) is the largest city in the land of Geb and also home to most of its undead legions. It can be found in the north-eastern part of the country, near the border with the Mana Wastes. The city is surrounded by the Bonewall, a curtain wall made entirely of bleached bones. In times of need, the Bonewall can be animated by one of the Blood Lords to defend the city. Yled is also home to a number of important necromantic colleges, the most well-known being the Mortuarium. The school's central tower sticks up like a withered claw, dominating the city's skyline.

Scarab Sages

I think Pathfinder has it right on multiclassing. Over a long campaign, it is a real trick for a character to hone and tell a 'hero's story' of progression and growth if he is constantly diving into sidelights of other careers. While Fafhrd and Conan had some thieving skills, they were primarily warriors and the stories were better told because of it. When the big bad monster entered the room, you could see the warriors tensing their muscles and preparing their weapons for dire combat.

AD&D 1st ed. really held this at its core, allowing multiclassing only in ways that fit clear fantasy tropes (elven fighter/mage, halfling fighter/thief) and even in so doing, made clear that other paths would likely lead to more raw power (Merlin the human wizard is a more powerful mage than Elrond the fighter/mage). In that game, it was easy to sit a new player down into an existing group and have him quickly visualize how each PC fit into the group's thematic style. In a long campaign, this was valuable as it allowed the players to focus on the growth in character, rather than the growth in mechanical power.

AD&D 2d ed. opened the door to the multiclassing chimera with its kits and players options. These put players into the DMs world with mix-and-match options that quickly made planning a game session a nightmare for the DM. Even worse, any new player had to download into his brain the full scope of abilities the kits allowed the other PCs in order to know what roles were available and what options would not be redundant.

3.0 and 3.5 rebuilt the problem with the proliferation of base classes and prestige classes (and most DMs lost their core authority when they treated anything published as if it was suitable for their game) but in the process made following one class for 20 levels unsurvivable in a game where free multiclassing and PRC'ing was allowed. By late 3.5, if you sat down to a table with a Sorcerer 10 you were likely to have the first casualty in a party with a duskblade 10, fighter1/wizard5/eldritch knight 4, rogue4/fighter2/cleric4.

Pathfinder brought the game back to sanity. With core classes that are truly core and that are competitive with any of 3.5's prestige class builds, as a DM I am no longer having to defend the exclusion of this broken class or that overpowered combination; my players WANT to be a Wizard 10! Even better, as I add in new players, I don't have to add to the exposition an hour letting the player of the Rogue4/Duskblade5/Thief Acrobat 1 what exactly he is capable of doing in combat so that they don't build a Rogue 10 that is irrelevant.

As a player, I find now, and have always found, that a true multiclass character is a rare concept to be played out. The players who like multiclassing almost always do so for the mechanical benefits (I want to play a fighter who can hurl fireballs so that he can hurt a lot of opponents without having to rely on the wizard; I imagine a cleric who is pious but is also capable of really kicking butt with his god's favored weapon) and doesn't truly embrace the 'gestalt' concept (a Fighter/Cleric, for example, seems much more like a medieval Knight with a religious code rather than the Templar often cited; the base cleric already is a medieval Templar and not a parish priest). If the player really does want the gestalt, then they almost never mind that they can cast spells as well as a Merlin, or swing a sword as well as Conan. They accept the weakness as a trade-off for the versatility.

A few multiclass examples to consider under PFRPG as irrelevant:
Cleric/Druid--Cleric with Animal and Plant Domain
Fighter/Wizard--Bard (low/mid levels)
Monk/Wizard--Monk2/Wizard remaining since almost never do you intend your monk to be lobbing fingers of death or animating an army of zombies; usually this ideal is just for a wizard who is more than he appears
Rogue/Wizard--Bard
Fighter/Cleric--Paladin with a possible loosening/adjustment of the alignment requirements and special powers should LG be untenable for the player's concept
Fighter/Thief--Ranger, especially the 'Spell-less Ranger' just put out by Kobold Quarterly

For my table, I will always discourage the idea of a Prestige Class being used as a band-aid for multiclassing. Down that road lies the 'kit hell' that made running AD&D 2d Ed. impossible. Instead, use the base classes with creativity to scratch your multiclass itch. I always imagined Conan as a Barbarian 17/Rogue 3 and Merlin as a Druid 4/Wizard(Diviner) 16. As a DM, I strongly encourage you to hold the line on letting your game become a string of numbers, maximized to allow a player to feel that the victory is in having the highest possible modifier to ever possible situation.

The game is the story, and the best stories happen when everyone can imagine the scene and the characters clearly. PFRPG's restoration of classes to their core place accomplishes that at my table.

Scarab Sages

1) What's your favorite experience level?
Level 16 (but as a range I have always liked 12-18 best; the PFRPG makes me think I should add in 19 and 20)

2) Why is that your favorite experience level?
There are enough levels that your character concept can be filled out and your PC has the history and connection to the world around him to really make an impact. You are more of a co-author of adventures with the DM. At lower levels, you are much more the recipient of the world as designed by the DM; at these levels you have the ability to make changes to the world and really engage in the world-building process.

3) What's your favorite adventure, and what level was it for? Why is it your favorite adventure?

I have two.

Bloodstone Wars because it offers high level PCs the chance to really dig in and participate in a war scenario with political stakes that matter without necessitating the 'small squad' approach favored recently in war-game scenarios or requiring truly cosmic-level interactions. It has the Assassins Run mini-adventure built in so you can scratch your dungeon crawl itch and it avoids the silliness that seems to creap into a lot of other high level adventures (Throne of Bloodstone, for example).

A Paladin in Hell is my other favorite for the reason that here,truly, is an epic adventure with touches of Planescape (but no requirement that you get into all the zaniness there), founded solidly in the mythos designed in the original AD&D Monster Manual, and yet never spinds out of control into being some open-ended endless quest (as the original drow supermodule could, and did the 2 times I played it; as a DM it kept itself much more contained). Monte Cook wrote a classic and even running it now as a DM with PFRPG rules it holds up as great fun.

Scarab Sages

I love the paradigm shift from 3.5 to PFRPG and I do believe it is a shift that brings the game closer to the AD&D 1st ed roots.

In 1st ed AD&D, the most important choice you made for your character was what combination of race and class you chose at the outset. So many things about your character's career were locked in then due to the multiclass rules (demihumans only) and the way racial mods impacted your ability to qualify for classes (no dwarf magic users, human only paladins). If you wanted a progressive class changing experience, you built up a bard through many many levels of arduous play. Each class had a clear niche, to the point where the most unique thieves and magic users needed stand-alone classes (assassins and illusionists) because they couldn't very well be expressed simply by player role playing.

PFRPG brings back all of that while still holding to 3.5's mandate of 'options not restrictions'. In PFRPG, the race and class you pick at the outset are likely the ones you will keep; the benefits of class-dipping don't compare with the progressively more awesome benefits of single classing (capstone abilities, +1 hp/sp from favored class). Your race choice has real meaning again as each race offers something truly special without feeling suboptimal (a half-orc bard makes real sense when you look at the racial makeup and the ability to trade perform checks for other skills--the half orc drummer who intimidates his way to power; a half-elf is again a playable race that can bridge two classes and two cultures). And best of all, you no longer have classes (sorcerer/fighter) that demand prestige classing at the earliest possible opportunity nor classes (bard) that are simply unplayable because they don't bring enough to the table in a party with fewer than 5 PCs. The paladin and cleric are again clearly differentiated (and yes, I happen to like the armor prof change because of that, and I have played clerics for years and years), whereas in 3.5 you could easily build up a cleric to do all that a paladin can do (except summon a horse from pokemon land) and the wizard and sorcerer distinctions finally remind me of the classic magic-user/illusionist differences of 1st ed (I know the conceptual differences are substantial but the dialogues I have had at my table remind me a lot of those old debates).

While some say the base classes offer more of a 'kit' feel, I have concluded that the options within the core class are primarily designed to keep players from needing to make a fighter/want/rogue just to get the balance of abilities and options they want. Now they use rogue talent (combat feat) and rogue talent (minor/major magic) to get that jack-of-all-trades feel.

For me, the paradigm shift made me feel much more at home. All my D20 DM experience is emininetly useful but I can now again tell 1st ed stories without having to spend all my time figuring out what to call the holy warrior in the party. (In 3.5 he was a fighter/cleric/hospitaler; in PFRPG he is a Paladin)

Thumbs way up for me.

Scarab Sages

nomadicc wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:
The current Epic Level rules are a mess.

IMO...

I think the above statement is almost universally accepted. There's always a draw to play the uber-powerful heroes against the most iconic foes. The problem with ELH was that, after progressing your PC for 20 levels, the new ruleset killed the fun.

I loved the D&D Immortals box, but I think that might be a step beyond epic... perhaps levels 40+. :) For epic, I'd see them as a progression from hero to demi-god (like). I'd like to see content and adventures that take the PCs to the edge of mortal powers, with an end goal of reaching some level of immortality.

For the rules, I would avoid any new systems (epic magic, for example). The more I think about it, I like the "epic class levels", somewhat like advanced prestige classes, building on iconic models. Meet the prerequisites and advance to "Epic Barbarian" 1 - no matter what your 1 - 20 class break-out is. This is kinda like the 4e epic model, love it or hate it.

Lastly, like some have said, if you renew the epic rules, support them! Adventures in the form of a PF adventure path would be fantastic! Perhaps a planar world guide tailored to those levels. That would be something I would love to play - and by focusing on other planes you can avoid "breaking" the material plane establishments.

Good luck! And if you need help, I'm available... :p

I would suggest the following:

High Level Pathfinder--Weapons of Legacy-type crunch binding a high level character to an iconic item of his choice, allowing the character to gain increasing power beyond 20th level (But not HP, BAB, STs, etc.). Simply max out the character's progression at level 20, but allow them to apply their XP to improving their legacy item. (Think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

Pathfinder Immortals--Port over the D&D Immortals Box Ruleset, leavening it with the Power of Faerun to create a path for roleplaying Demigods (Achilles, Perseus, Imotep, Roland). This needs to be crunch lite and allow for the character to truly break the baseline rules. I would again not have it represented as Level 21+ but rather Immortal Powers that are accumulated by sacrificing some monster pile of XP and satisfying other requirements (think Hercules Labors).

In both cases, do not treat anything above level 20 as if it is a simple matter of accumulating XP. All the monsters we presently have with a 20+ ECL are members of magical or godlike species (demons, devils, dragons). Ordinary races should have a 'level cap' (truly old-school concept that) of 20.

(For bona fides I can report having played D&D immortals, AD&D 1st through 40th level, and currently running a PFRPG Beta Game at level 15. The math IS a problem and the game design needs to assist the DM in focusing players on 'epic' not on linear mathmatical progression.)

Scarab Sages

The US won.

After the war, the British never again seriously considered expanding their dominion in the Americas.

Before the war, the Americas was just one more piece of the global pie available for British imperialism.

And anyone who thinks that no one wins a war may want to reference the experience of:

--slaves after the civil war in the US
--Jews after WWII in Europe
--Koreans, Filipnos, and Chinese after WWII in Europe
--Soviet Communists after WWII
--women after the Afghan war of 2002

War has settled more political disagreements than any other method of conflict resolution. Sometimes the peace is the peace of a tomb but denying the effectiveness of war to resolve disputes is to refuse to acknowledge the results of any other method of dispute resolution in international affairs.

Scarab Sages

Yeesh, I totally forgot that they ruined Lathander too!

My favorite FR god, something that really made the setting unique, taken for no apparent good reason.

Consider: Amaunator had some life as a heresy and as a Netherese dead god.
Ed was very conscious in making the Realms free of a 'Sun God' proper. When he brought in Mulhorand he got rid of Ra on purpose to keep the Realms that way. This is a big deal for traditional mythologists as the Sun God is almost always a really big deal. By doing so, Ed makes the Realms its own animal, where the Goddess of Magic is much more likely to be the central god as opposed to the God of the Sun. It also made Chauntea much more central.
Assuming Lathander into Amaunator removed a unique and creative Morninglord with a Pelor/Cuthbert amalgam that offers much more judgment (and crowds out Tyr/Torm/Helm in the process) and much less 'springtime in the Realms' feeling.

Yes, the Spellplague wrought ugliness in a lot of perfectly pretty places.

Scarab Sages

I LOVE the idea of them bringing 'Points of Light' into Chessenta and amalgamating Shar and Mystra to warp the magic rules for 4e. A similar conceit could be used for the elf origins, heck just make the new race a hidden sub-species of elves from Evermeet.

That would work without all the apocalyptic nonsense they used in their setting.

And the dragonborn are an easy fix, especially given all the work they did over the last few years of 3.5 to bring Bahamut and Tiamat into the center of the Realms narrative. I never thought when they were used in 'Throne of Bloodstone' that the meta-design was going to have Tiamat restore herself in the Babylonian fashion in Chessenta. That region is perfect for all that they wanted to do with the 4e realms--Tieflings, Aasimar, dragonborn, apocalyptic breakdown of civilization. Excellent thinking.

And it would have left the rest of the Realms alone.

For the DMs and players who run their worlds there.

(As an aside, it is one of the reason my FR campaigns only ever visit Waterdeep and the North, the Dalelands, and Cormyr. I don't like having to hand-waive away all the official publications but I also don't want to have to be bound by whatever book-of-the-month came up with. Instead, I used Mulhorand, Damara, and Chult extensively; I suspect other DMs did the same so they can have a 'Big World' without having to either negate or memorize all of it.)

For richness of possibility, I think my favorite solution would have been the ancient past of Faerun, pre-Netheril, as a place for 4e's Forgotten Realms but the Chessenta concept really is elegant and economical with the canon and our world.

Scarab Sages

Could it have been done better?

What would have been the way to integrate points of light into the FR? (as opposed to making a new setting for this concept, which I agree would have been cleanest)

Scarab Sages

A recent post made me wonder, what meta-events of the Forgotten Realms canon made it easier to adventure in the Realms?

--Initial Gray Box Setting? A world with dozens of playable areas is released commercially, with powerful NPCs all around but no specific focus on one place or another, although Shadowdale, Cormyr, and Waterdeep certainly were offered as great starting locales. Accessible to all and especially handy for a DM who doesn't want to have to conjure a world from whole cloth.

--Kara Tur, Al Qadim? Big new settings, far enough away to not directly impact anyone uninterested in being impacted.

--Throne of Bloodstone? Sure, Orcus was barred from the Realms but he was never a big part of the Realms anyway. A regional war that has no big impact outside its land and the 'canon' doesn't change matters much for the surrounding countries.

2nd Ed.
--Time of Troubles? Rule-set shift sure, and a few gods are killed but the gods affected are relatively minor for most DMs games. Bhaal, Bane and Myrkul all had their places and the flavor is definitely different with Cyric but the core player deities remained the same. The ToT didn't make it harder to role-play and it might even have spurred more high level play since the actions of mortals appear to have real impact on the realm of the gods.

--The Horde invades? Big regional war but no big impact on the world as a whole; heck I am still unsure if it is even necessary to acknowledge this event as so few things were different after the invasion as compared to before. Handy story if you want to use it but no big deal.

--Maztica discovered? Distant and different, certainly world shaking but, as written, so limited in its impact (Waterdeep, Amn, Baldur's Gate mostly) that if you wanted it, its there and if not, no worries.

--Cyrinishad? Cyric was already cuckoo for coco puffs, making him explicitly crazy doesn't seem like that big a deal. Kelemvor becoming god of the dead is a bigger shift than most seem to acknowledge owing to death's central place in the life of an adventurer and certainly this whole sequence involves some chaos. Still a earthquake and not a major trauma.

--Silver Marches established? Mulhorand invades Unther? No big deal here, creating a new country in a far-off corner adjusts the experience of adventuring up there but things remain the same everywhere else in the Realms; a war in another distant corner doesn't interefere with role-playing opportunities anywhere, possibly igniting interest in that corner of the world as ancient egyptian settings have been all too often treated as static and stable to the point of boredom.

3d ed.
--Return of Netherese magic? Big disruption here. Bringing back a floating city, introducing the Shadow Weave, restoring the phaerimm war to the main flow? Yeesh, this is a big move to dump in on the setting right in the middle of it all in Anauroch. Now, instead of being a great divider between Western Faerun and Eastern Faerun, we have a full active and very dynamic nation of exceedingly powerful mages to factor in. Sure, they offset that by neutering the Thayans and wrecking the Zhentarim, but I don't see that as an even trade. After all, the Zhents were essentially a conventional evil organization with both high and low level bad guys. The Thayans offered up a powerful, but conventional, magic tyrant society. The Shadovar though? They are alien in the extreme and with a floating multi-dimensional city, have the power to really disrupt expectations.

--Return of Bane? Just retconning away another impact of the Time of Troubles. Now the net result is the reduction of Myrkul to an artifact and the trading of Bhaal for Cyric, brutality for insanity. No big deal unless you think Gods shouldn't just be on the comic-book 'death go round'.

--Myth Drannor invaded by Drow? No big deal, unless the 'all drow serve Lolth' conceit is central. A good reason why ancient elven cities are abandoned though.

4th ed
--Spellplague? Absolute alteration an annihilation of the world. Maztica is consumed whole, Halruaa is obliterated, the Mulhorandi gods leave, and the entire civilization of Faerun is thrown back into a dark age. Nothing else comes even close to having as much of an impact on a DMs ability to set adventures in the Realms as this.

So, in 22 years we have had many 'big' events but only a few really impacted a DMs ability to run adventures wherever desired in the setting as laid out in 1987. From my side of the screen, only the return of Netheril and the Time of Troubles count as a Major happening with setting-wide impact. The Spellplague makes both of those seem like footnotes.

For such a major change, I want to see some major setting benefits. What were those benefits?

After all, the more minor changes offered benefits by adding depth to the setting.
-Maztica, Kara Tur, Al Qadim: new lands to adventure in
-Horde, Throne of Bloodstone, Silver Marches, Drow invasion of Cormanthyr, Mulhorandi war: new conflicts in different parts of Faerun, gives you some big picture stuff without wreaking havoc with the rest of the Realm (DM can opt in or opt out without being completely outside the overall flow)

Spellplague does what for a DM whose game has been in the Realms?

Scarab Sages

In the end, it all comes down to the fact that there was NO NEED to annihilate the realms of the late 14th DR century in a catstrophe.

There was a perceived need to offer a 'Points of Light' setting with a rationale for the 4th Ed.'s cosmology and power sourcing. It was felt that capitalizing on the brand recognition of the Forgotten Realms was of value to the merchandising of the product.

That's all that was required.

Consider some of the ways that could have been accomplished:

-A Forgotten Realms setting in -30000 DR, prior to the rise of Netheril and home to the scions of the Creator Races (Dragonborn, Tieflings, etc.) and operating under rules of power that arose from the primal energies in play before Mystryl's Netherese embodiment.

-A Forgotten Realms setting on another planet of the same solar system, one where Ao took a more direct hand and 'experimented' with shaping a world by his hand directly. (Glyth, for the spelljammers out there, would seem the best candidates; a little tweaking of either would create the points of light necessary. A little mighty magic improving the atmosphere, perhaps due to the arrival of dragons in numbers from Faerun, using their dragonborn servitors to drive the illithid into the depths.)

-A Forgotten Realms setting far in the future, not just a couple hundred years, but a few THOUSAND years, where the geographical features are the same and no torment of the planet itself was required, simply allow the passage of time to exceed the recording capacity of the world. Because of the lifespans of dragons and elves, a few thousand years would be required, not the shorter jump of the new Realms.

As a bonus side-effect of any of these three options, the Forgotten Realms would become a brand name with meaning again. While Ed offered the initial conceit that our world and Abeir Toril were once known to each other but forgotten by our world (an idea adapted by the history of Mulhorand and Chessenta, btw) it was never fixed in time or place. In any of those three ways, we could have meaning for what was 'forgotten' in the Forgotten Realms.

The Age of Thunder (4th ed) was forgotten by the the inhabitants of the Present Age (AD&D, 2nd Ed, 3rd Ed). Or perhaps the life of those humans on Glyth is the Forgotten Realms from the perspective of those on Abeir Toril, with a spelljamming guide from Toril serving as Marco Volo to bring folks up to speed on this Forgotten Realms. Or perhaps the Realms of the Present Age is what was forgotten by the moderns who emerge, from a much more recent catastrophe that shattered their world while leaving the survivors to seek out their future by unearthing the past, a past that was once much more populated.

Even if you don't like any of those three options, a fourth, slightly less elegant one remains avaiable thanks to the precedent of the FR: A new continent where the 4th Ed Points of Light construct plays out. Put it to the SW of Maztica, separated by a vast sea from Kara Tur, an Australia for the 4th Edition to develop. This has been done before, and done to accommodate new game rules that seem to challenge the Faerunian baseline. The rules for Al Qadim were dramatically different from core D&D and yet the region was situated in the FR without major tension. Similarly, true OE rules are very different from baseline D&D, and yet Kara Tur could co-exist with Cormyr. Why not place the new FR rules in another far corner of the Abeir Toril? FR fans are used to the fact that the world is crowded. Why couldn't there be another continent out there for the 4th ed. to rule?

In the end, having read most of the new FR stuff, I keep coming back to the feeling of flagrant waste in the new Realmslore. Creating on Overgod Ao in order to (net result) eliminate the God of Murder and trade an evil God of Death for a neutral one while adding in a Loki-light god of malice seems like a reasonable deus ex machina. (In my own FR, I have taken that farther, restoring Myrkul as well so that I can keep a Cyric without having to let him reign over the dead or take on Kelemvor as a god.) On the other hand, concocting an entire soap opera drama to eliminate a handful of gods in brutal deicide (and having melodrama provide the motivation for most of it) seems callous. Smashing entire nations out of existence and eliminating a continent (Maztica) whose story (like that of Al Qadim or Kara Tur) was exotic and filled a unique niche was brutal and unnecessary.

There was simply no elegance in what WOTC did in this transition. It was a brutal attack on all aspects of the Realms that they could not justify as a current moneymaker. Thus Drizzt and Elminster stay but anyone from Maztica is gone.

As a DM, I find it part of my obligation to try, whenever possible, to respect the ideas of my players for their fantasy world and (when I use a prepared setting, like the FR) to try and respect the image they have of the world their characters inhabit. Extending that obligation to the game designers who are trustee of these Forgotten Realms does not seem unreasonable. It is a bit hippocratic, I know, but RPGs are not the sole property of the owner of the brand: it is a shared exercise between designer, novelist, player, and DM.

First, do no harm seems to have been a rule that was cast aside by this design team.

But that wasn't what WOTC did. That's why I am disappointed with the new Realms. They subtracted options from this big world we have imagined together for decades.

(And I would have loved to see 4e pick one of the three more elegant options, that would have had me opening my wallet just to expand my Forgotten Realms collection. I don't play Al Qadim or Oriental Adventures and only briefly played Maztica, but I bought all 3 just so my big crowded Abeir Toril could get even bigger! Heck, I even bought the Arcane Age stuff just to fill in that fourth magical ruleset to my quiver of storytelling tools. I don't run a 4e game but I would happily make room for a 4e setting in the context of a vibrant Forgotten Realms.)

Scarab Sages

Minotaurs are tough as a PC race.

I played the Dragonlance minotaurs in AD&D and in the three groups we played with, they always seemed to distract the party significantly, even in the campaign where we were doubling for Huma and Kaz themselves.

After that, I took over as DM and discovered that Minotaurs, like other exotic creatures that have sufficient intelligence to be PCs (centaurs, dragons, bugbears, giants, etc.) all work terrifically well as NPCs, whose engagement with the party can be explained in the milieu but whom the party is not expecting to try and integrate into their intimate social circle.

When 3rd edition arrived and Savage Species came out, I rushed to the other side of the screen to play a minotaur again, believing that the problem in AD&D was the rules and not the race. Again I encountered the same challenge from the group. When Dragon 320 came out and gave me the chance to play a brass dragon, I built one to be bard-like in his ability to support all the other PCs without supplanting anyone (as the minotaur did in almost all situations of intimidation or making a dramatic entrance). Even there, the party couldn't seem to integrate the dragon as one of the PCs, the race always made the character stand apart from the group.

In the end then, this is what I have been able to conclude from trying to use more exotic races over the course of ten years of gaming:

1. If the whole party is exotic, then it can work for the whole party. A party of humanoids (goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears) works a LOT better than a party with just one humanoid.

2. Exotic races make for great NPCs as the tendency towards cliche with standard races (gruff dwarves, prankster gnomes, etc.) is even more pronounced with an exotic race and can really assist the players in discerning the core of the NPC, whether it plays to the cliche (strong savage minotaur) or against it (urbane contemplative minotaur) because the strength of the cliche serves as a template for the players to contrast with the NPC as portrayed, making the quirks much more apparent.

3. The sizzle of playing an exotic race is great, the struggle of integrating them into a party is greater. I stopped DMing for a time so I could play exotic race PCs. In so doing, I made my DMs job a TON harder. He now needed to figure out challenges to adapt to a flying, house-cat sized dragon who was terrifically charismatic and wanted more than anything else to start collecting and hoarding treasure. At the same time, the rest of the party were all medium-sized young bipedal walkers who wanted to make their name in the world. As a quick example: pit traps were irrelevant to my PC and thus became irrelevant to the party which had my little dragon serve as scout.

4. Computer games and books can mislead us as to which new concepts are going to work well in a role playing game. In both a computer game and a book the author has the ability to control the plot and the course of adventure more than a DM does in an RPG. Weiss and Hickman can make minotaurs into a regular race in the Dragonlance books. WoW can make minotaurs or panda-men into something mundane. Players can do that much less easily. They are used to seeing tall people and short people, thin people and fat people, gruff people and polite people. Because of that, the standard races can fit into their social imagination pretty easily. How do you act around a dwarf? Put your character into a discussion with a grumpy thick short person in your imagination and you are off. How do you act around a horned half-man half-bull with horns and a snout that is a foot taller than anyone you can imagine meeting? A much more difficult extrapolation.

Exotic races are neat, just don't be surprised if you end up not being able to integrate them into a party with standard race PCs. PHB3 offers them for a reason: the audience expects to see their RPG give them the ability to express their fantasies and minotaur PCs have become a staple of current fantasy thanks to WoW.

Scarab Sages

lordzack wrote:
Montalve wrote:
lordzack wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:
lordzack wrote:
Why would that be? Paladins don't necessarily even worship Gods.

Neither do clerics need worship Gods. They can be clerics of an Alignment Philosophy (Clerics of Chaos/Law/Good/Evil/ or mix there of), or Clerics of Totems and Idols.

Conceivably a Paladin could be a Paladin of Law and Good in a church of one with obligations to many.

My point isn't a Paladin isn't a religious class. It has a certain philosophy of law and good, but it's powers don't come from devotion to any specific faith.

actually Palladins are religios class, since they receive positive energy channeling and divine blessings...

they don't come from no where it was 3.x the one that gave the freedom to not worship gods...

the original paladins in the game not only had to be part of a church (clerics actually were closer to catholicism then, at lest 2nd Ed) but they had to pay tithes at least 10%, don't have mroe than 10 magic items, etc :P

note: the original were servants of a king doing good... but if a priest told them to do something... they DID... unless it went away of their vows... which included Serving the Church

I'm sorry, but I just read the 1st and 2nd Edition PHB, and in neither of those does it say the Paladin has to worship a deity. They do have to pay tithes, but that doesn't mean that they are clergy. Of course a lawful good person would follow the orders of a priest of they're religion.

I have always loved clerics and thus always been keenly aware of paladins too and have noticed the following differences in application if not in game-designed niche:

1) Paladins are inevitably drawn to the front of the party, to the role of spokesman; Clerics are inevitably drawn to the middle of the party, to the role of supporter.

--While players can build their characters in a lot of different ways, the mechanics move them to certain places in the party (a phenomenon 4e made into rule rather than side-effect, to the detriment of the game; I have seen the leader/controller role played by every class, not just the ones the mechanics favor). Even when the party has developed a Cleric/leader, Paladin/back bencher set up (something I have never seen), when the party is facing the red dragon, the Paladin will find a way to step forward and command the stage.

2) The mechanics, even when subtle, move characters towards a certain place in the party.

--For the cleric, this means wise counselor and chief opponent of undeath and impiety. The cleric's prime attribute and the skills attached to it, combined with the ability to turn undead and connect with the priestly hierarchy makes it matter. The cleric is not the village priest, he is the adventuring wing of his faith and is likely to not fit into the formal power structure very well (if his church has such) since he can't attend to the ecclesiastical power struggle while also vindicating the faith in the field.

--For the paladin, this means charismatic embodiment of the chivalric ideals. His code is too restrictive, the consequences of violation too immediate, and so many of his powers flow from his willingness to be an exemplar of his virtues. If a paladin is involved in the church formally it is almost always as a charismatic hero figure or a handy dupe for the schemers behind the throne.

3) Successive iterations of the game have added a ton of flexibility to the cleric while retaining the principal role-playing restrictions on the paladin; this means that while a cleric can mimic a paladin pretty well, a paladin can only mimic a cleric of a Lawful Good, Justice-centered, Retributive God.

--A cleric is much much more flexible in realization than a paladin. This means that players who step up to their first paladin almost always settle into one of three very clear archetypes: Launcelot the Mighty (and sometimes tempted to corruption), Dudley Do Right, or Captain America. On the other hand, most players stepping up to their first cleric tend to settle in for a long stay as healing-on-demand before they move into a niche of trying to embody their god in the party.

Eventually, for experienced players of both classes, the profession becomes a backdrop for the normal range of human personality.

BGII's NPC paladin Keldorn, for example, is an excellent realization of the depth possible in a paladin while still remaining true to the strict limits of life of a paladin. Keldorn would never be mistaken for a high priest of Torm nor would he even be consulted in the church's power structure. Despite that, he is undeniably a powerful presence as both a noble knight and a mighty priest of Torm. Never would you mistake him for a cleric of Torm, the cleric would never allow himself to be so bound and penalized by his Code as Keldorn did. Redemption is not part of the Paladin's mindset, winnowing evil is.

Keldorn is the rarity of paladin characters, however, because the strict role tends to limit player's imaginations.

In my experience, that is why cleric players tend to push their boundaries more and explore the possibilities more. A cleric of Tyr, god of Justice, for example could be a stern judge, or a battling warrior, or a determined teacher of virtue. He could also be one who bears his clerical robes as a penance for his own earlier immorality, working always to temper judgment with the possiblity of redemption. Because as a cleric he has a charge to win souls for the faith, redemption is always available to the cleric, no matter how stern his god.

Both classes are a ton of fun and I have never once seen a party actually struggle with an identity crisis because they had a LG cleric and a paladin and couldn't tell which was which.

Scarab Sages

I wonder if WOTC considered what those PDFs were good for before deciding to foreclose the operation of offering them for sale by 3rd parties?

Many of the points on inventory and comparative advantage have already been laid out so I won't rehash them.

Another key point that has been pointed out is the anti-piracy effect of offering an affordable option for customers to obtain pdfs. When you prohibit product purchase you encourage criminality because demand doesn't evaporate just because you prohibit supply.

The third point, that maybe hasn't been expressed so clearly, is what the pdfs do for building demand for the book trade. More than two decades of pdf existence has shown that a hard cover book is better in the eyes of customers than a pdf for most purposes. The information may be in the pdf, it may be portable and transferrable, but it is not as much fun. The desire to hold a thing, see one page flow into the next and to let your five senses be engaged by a creation instead of just your eyes is hard-wired into us. When you consider the fact that most of the pdfs avaiable for sale were for books that were out-of-print and for scenarios WOTC was not planning on revisiting in print distribution (Glory of Rome and other historical settings, Basic D&D and the world of Mystara, Spelljammer, etc.) all the pdfs could represent is a spur to imagination, a jolt of extra information to drive one to the store to purchasing the new books and rules and benefiting from the progress in development of the game.

Speaking for myself, I have spent most of the last two years running a campaign that is totally based off of pdfs of classic AD&D adventures but use PFRPG rules obtained from a hard copy beta test book. I did this because the feel of the adventure is something I wanted but I couldn't get (at least until recently, Pathfinder is coming close now with their adventure paths. Yay!). I have brought new players into the game by giving them the chance to read some of the pdfs I purchased and participate in a game I have loved for more than 25 years.

Now, when they want to get some of these out-of-print products where will they turn? file sharing sites that convince them that its all free now, turning them into pirates instead of developing their appreciation for the value of the work that went into creating these products.

No, this is a no-winners plan by WOTC and I am sorry to see it come to pass.

Scarab Sages

JoelF847 wrote:
Wouldn't class abilities fill these levels?

They do. And to be honest, in our playtest, we have found that going with the D&D feat progression rather than the PFRPG feat progression has led to much happier fighters. When everyone gets a feat every other level, the joy of being the feat-heavy fighter is diminished. Similarly, when base skill points are increased, the joy of being the skill-monkey rogue is diminished.

So, from my standpoint, and what we have found through our long 1st-14th level playtest, the best thing for happy PCs is a D&D 3.5 feat progression, fascinating class builds a la PFRPG, and the discovery that there really aren't 'empty' character levels any more.

Scarab Sages

I think the recognition that the fix has to be on both sides of the inequality is key.

For melee combatants, I have had a great time in our PFRPG playtest campaign adding in DR/magic for armor. (= to Armor Bonus for Heavy, = to 1/2 Armor Bonus for Medium, with an additional increase for each enhancement bonus, altering the DR for special materials to DR/good, evil, cold iron, silver or even - for stuff like adamantium) Similarly, adding in the Helm item for AC bonus has helped. Finally, putting in a Reflex Save kicker for Shield bonus (= to 1/3 the shield's AC bonus) has proven salutary.

The second fix for melee combatants has to be some sort of ability for them to hurt a spellcaster when they cast before the spell goes off.

To this end, adjusting the casting time to a Full Round Action for all spells with a Standard Action casting time is a move in the right direction. To keep it from crippling casters, I have been working with the rule that all Standard Action casting time spells become that way once the caster has access to a higher level of spells. Swift or Immediate casting spells are unaffected, as are command-word activated items.

Removing Casting Defensively has also proven amazingly helpful. I wanted Concentration left in the game but without it (and since I reject the notion that spellcraft can fill in fully for concentration), I was left with the realization that Casting Defenseively no longer made any sense. Now, the challenge is handled either with a spellcraft check or a will save (whichver is higher) v. the damage done to the caster while casting. This adds a great thrill of drama to the caster who provokes an attack of opportunity and it makes the whole game seem like a contest between the slow arriving spell and the fast arriving blade (or arrow).

These are helping my playtest group of 12th level PCs enjoy the mid-high level game more than we ever did in 3.5.

(oh, and the base class improvements have resulted in not a single player seeking a prestige class. Truly amazing results and a testament to the empowerment the new rules give base class characters. All that and I keep the 3.5 feat progression too!)

Scarab Sages

Kevin Mack wrote:
I also quite like the idea of shield bonuses applying to touch armour. As it stands most creatures have very very poor touch armour this would help beef up touch armour without making it to good or affecting a creatures normal Ac.

I have had much better results applying 1/2 the shield bonus to Reflex saves. It allows for much more dramatic Reflex save descriptions and a more accurate depiction of how the fighter somehow reduces the damage he takes from the fire dragon's cone of destructive fiery breath.

Scarab Sages

I don't think it should stray farther than it has. Upgrading the Sorcerer, Paladin, and Fighter is great. Upgrading the Wizard and Cleric strikes me as questionable and the Monk, Bard, and Barbarain upgrades are fine and dandy. Fixing the Half-Elf is huge, adjusting the other races is no big deal. The skill list I love (aside from dropping Concentration, I love it as a role-playing skill mechanic for all classes) and the feats are much better.

I have had to dial it back a bit though in my PFRPG test. I can't let all the feats that they are adding as a base function of level advancement go. I also don't like giving the wizard a d6 HD. It is a sacred cow that is just too tasty to change, in my opinion. If you want a sturdy spellcaster, the d6 Sorcerer seems like a much better fit.

As for backwards compatibility generally though, I think that they need to stick to tweaking. If it goes beyond that, we will lose some core advantages over D&D 4 (use of pre-existing works, pre-existing game rules, and pre-existing campaigns).

Scarab Sages

Wolf Munroe wrote:
Is this a PDF? I thought this was the actual book for sale?

This book is great. I have never used werewolves before in my games from AD&D forward. This book makes it possible to use them and integrate them into our campaigns pretty seamlessly. It has a ton of good flavor and would allow for an entirely werewolf themed campaign if you want.

I recommend this product.

Scarab Sages

PFRPG gives at least two options for favored class (humans and half-elves have even more). That means you are not shoe-horned into just one little box.

You are, on the other hand, strongly encouraged to stay in a core class and play that through your career by the mechanic.

As a DM, I like that.

Everytime someone comes in to my level 10 game with a Rogue 2/Fighter 2/Assassin 4/Dreadnought 2, I had a PC in my group without an identity; a bundle of great abilities with no core narrative to motivate or challenge the character. As a result, I have had to house rule in a limit on prestige classes to 1) only those I approve specifically for the campaign and 2) only 1 per PC before Epic levels. This helps but it does nothing to keep folks from dipping through four base classes on their way to the one prestige class. Now I have rogue 2/spellthief 4/kensai 4 running around.

PFRPG helps me keep it plausible to have a Rogue 10. That is nice.

It makes my players develop their characters more and rewards them for giving their PCs a career in a core class, a class with a clear concept and a mechanic and niche that is easy to design adventures for.

So from this DM, I say keep it. It helps with the core objective of making the core classes central to a campaign (without prohibiting warlocks and spellthieves and all the rest.)

Scarab Sages

WannabeIndy wrote:
Again the more I look at it the more I think that Paladins should be able to access the Glory domain (at least at CL 12 and lower) it's just a really good fit.

I have long house-ruled giving Paladins access to one domain of their chosen god as a means of emphasizing that they are warrior-priests more than chivalric knights with a few spells. It has worked out wonderfully to keep paladins in the game and to make them behave more in line with the tenets of their faith.

I recognize, however, that this draws the class away from the 'Knight of the Round Table/Charlemagne's Paladins' model and towards the 'Knight Templar/Knight Hospitaler' model.

To bring a paladin more towards the Round Table, I concur in making the 'Holy Strike' (weapons held by paladin gain Holy property) a class ability at say, level 9.

Lightbringer has proven too powerful at the playtest I am running (levels 1 onward, currently at level 11), we used it from levels 9-11 before pulling it.

Perhaps a 'Righteous Strike' ability where the paladin can apply his cha mod to hit after he has determined the foe is evil would be an appropriate smite-lite ability to throw out. This would be a continuous ability that requires the paladin to pause before striking but emphasizes his ability to strike down evil.

Scarab Sages

Threeshades wrote:

This is actually a suggestions but it didnt seem to fit in the other forums since its neither abilities and races nor playtesting. If its wrong please move it.

On topic:

Something that bugged me ever since I first played DnD (started with 3.0) is that Paladins are absolutely unusable in evil themed parties, without using non-core material.
Every hero can have his evil opposite. The valorous fighter, and the heroic barbarian can as well be bloodthirsty slaughterers, the cunning but good-hearted rogue might as well be a backstabbing (literally) murderer and thief. the great wizards and sorcerers of light can be evil necromancers and fireball flinging destroyers. the enlightened healer and priest of the god of the sun can also be an evil undead controlling priest of death and decay. The druid bringing nature and humanoids to live in harmony with each other could also be summoning beasts to bring destruction about humans. The nature loving ranger could also be a murderous ambusher. The bard traveling from one place to another collecting great tales to tell the people and inspire them could also be a mischievous evildoer travelling only to bring despair to the people.
But the paladin? The paladin is only the paladin. And the only way to become something else is by a prestige class. The black guard is all nice and good, but it is near impossible to go with that option if you start in an evil party at level 1.

There are two ways around this:

The AD&D way was to have the Assassin as a core class. In every way, the assassin was a true polar opposite of the paladin. He wasn't a fighter fiercely standing in the forefront of battle against the valorous champion--he was a murderer in the shadows, evil and duplicitous. Godly v. godless; honor-bound v. duplicitous; steadfast v. skulking. I had a blast playing an assassin in an evil-aligned party for three years. I know that most folks think of the blackguard as the paladin's opposite but I personally like having more contrast and the assassin was the greatest contrast for a paladin the AD&D game could admit.

To do this in 3.5, just break down the prestige class into a base class. There are a lot of on-line builds to do that and it works great thematically in the game.

The alternative is to bump the paladin up to a prestige class from the beginning. It makes a lot of sense to do this given the blended nature of the class, the alignment restriction, and the conceit of the class that a paladin is chosen by his deity, not a self-made holy warrior.

This fix has been applied in a game I played in (as a dragon PC using hte rules from Dragon 320--the best savage species work I have ever used) and it worked out great. The Fighter 2/Cleric 4 who became a paladin really felt like something special. His 'knighting' occured after he earned it and he was forever after a true holy warrior. No rookie in the field, he knew his faith and his sword and applied both to good effect.

I know backwards compatibility compels Pathfinder to keep the Paladin as a core class. As a DM though, I think the prestige-only paladin is a great counterpoint to the prestige assassin and doing this modification brings the AD&D sensibility about alignment restriction and its effects into much plainer focus in the 3.5 mechanics. Fie on Blackguards! Onward Assassins!

Scarab Sages

The Forgotten Realms are the Realms of 1st ed., 2d ed., and 3rd ed.

Only now, in the end, with 4th ed., is it clear what was 'Forgotten' about the Forgotten Realms.

Accordingly, I continue my campaign in 1364 DR, where the Realms are what they can be and they have not yet been forgotten by those who will come along afterwards (in 4th ed.).

Of course, this does mean that I have no need to buy the new campaign setting, no need to buy the new rules, and no need to read any new books. The good wise heads at WOTC has just changed the base price of my information from $40 (new books) to $4 (paizo downloads).

A nice coup for me, brought on entirely by WOTC.

Scarab Sages

I concur that Power Attack should be Strength based. In my game, we have applied the Power Attack shifting to Strength attack bonuses rather than to BAB. A character can slide their Str. attack bonus to Damage (with all the same modifications based on the kind of weapon). This can allow a player to 'double down' on damage bonuses due to strength, if they want.

Combat Expertise on the other hand, makes sense to me as written in 3.5. Dexterity is already the stat to affect AC, so it makes sense that this abstraction of nimbleness would be the prerequisite for the ability to avoid a damaging blow. BAB represents combat training, so allowing a character to apply training to avoiding damage rather than inflicting it, makes good logical sense.

I do house rule both as having a cap of +1/2 character levels though. This keeps my characters from having to burn multiple feats to get to an epic power attack while also keeping me as DM from being burned by the raging, bull's strength, great axe wielding barbarian from doing 70 points of damage to my easy-to-hit hill giant.

Scarab Sages

With the Savage Species rules, I think just about any race can be played. I have had particularly good luck with the flavor added by centaurs to a regular party, the various humanoids/aberrations for an evil party, and even dragons when played by an experienced player.

As I reflected on my experience playing/DMing it seems that the harm in exotic races boils down to player inexperience and mechanics that are too complicated for a PCs regular use. In the latter category, the lycanthrope/vampire group appear to sit--fun flavor in an encounter but a tremendous pain in an ongoing game (what phase is the moon, where is your casket, etc.). In the former category, I think I can safely put all the 'fanboy' players of drow ginsu knife masters and tiefling Hellboys.

As a result, my rule is that any race is playable...upon application. The application has to include the RP background, the leveling progression (for anything with a LA + > 1), and a pre-game discussion of the character's personality in the party.

As an aside, I do think that most folks use half-orcs as Klingon substitutes and halflings as kender. That is a shame, both are capable of much more compelling stories. Of course, if Legolas and Gimli didn't define 90% of all elf and dwarf characters we would have a bounty of better stories too, so I suppose I can't gripe too much.

Scarab Sages

Blayde MacRonan wrote:

This is about epic advancement for PCs wishing to play dragons, as these issues only deal with advancing the dragons up to 20th (same with the Draconomicon). Does anyone know how this would work or can anyone give me suggestions as to how this would work? Thanking you in advance for the help.

This, I think is a fascinating inquiry. Many Dragons have ECLs well above 20. Because of that, I don't think Epic rules would apply to a PC Dragon with more than 20 levels in the Dragon racial class. Instead, I would just continue the progression started in the magazine articles up above 20. I have played the Dragon PC (gold and brass) from the articles from level 4-18 and have enjoyed both experiences immensely. The characters were balanced, fun, and a terrific stretch.

Above 20 though, that's where I think a Dragon PC really comes into his own. I haven't done it yet but I think if you were to do so, you might actually have a character who is, by his very nature, epic and in no need of the epic mechanics.

Scarab Sages

The "Dark Sun as the future of the Forgotten Realms is a great idea."

4e as the distant past of the Forgotten Realms is also a great idea.

In the old D&D world of Mystara, the scientific/magic world of Blackmoor (Arneson's original milieu) lay in the distant past, allowing for stories to be told in one world where everything could change but there was still impact and still continuity.

The beauty of fantasy is that we can create these worlds without needing to invalidate the past or run up against doctrine about just how old any given world is.

I have seen so many alternative ideas put out here that I am marvelling anew at how pedestrian the 4e reboot really is. When I add in the fact, just pointed out, that what was destroyed were almost all of the powerful women, the non-European non-medieval cultures, and that the entire cosmos was rearranged due to the murder of one god (whose role has become so much more central to the divine order that she seems more like the Egyptian Ma'at than any mere goddess of magic), I have to balk.

The ToT was simplistic and unnecessary (witness the resurrection of Bane because the milieu needed a tyrant god) and the struggles that Cyric and Midnight's humanity caused the setting (how come Kelemvor handled ascension so easily btw?) unbalanced the world in a very Dragonlance kind of way (the gods are the only actors with real power, stop trying silly adventurer) but it was survivable because the Realms were so big.

Post Spell-plague, the Realms are a lot smaller. Smaller, in fact, than many of the homebrew worlds I have adventured in. With that in mind, why would anyone buy a world that is smaller than one they can invent in just a couple of hours?

In the end, that is what I think will hurt the Realms 4e. The upset by current fans will cost plenty but it is nothing like the realization that new fans will have upon discovering that they can make their own worlds richer and deeper than the realms just by imagining them.

Scarab Sages

What if we were to use this thread to actually show what people are talking about. I would like to see the images (aside from Seoni's two shots--walking as her iconic, and battling in her outfit from the Alpha) that folks think are either

a) entertaining and inspiring scantily clad females that don't denigrate or objectify women (since there is a legitimate argument on that score--google 'feminist pin-up girls' for example)

or

b) awful oppressive demonstrations of the phallocracy at work in FRPG.

My argument that Seoni might have a powerful reason to dress as she does in a world where violence is always at hand and her power takes time to express (through spellcasting) falls apart when applied to Red Sonja. On the other hand, Red Sonja, while impractically dressed, surely gets the advantage in the surprise round versus heterosexual male human opponents.

So, lets see some links and put some actual imagery to the test, lest our debate fall apart due to a lack of antagonistic viewpoints. :)

(As an aside, the modern biological view that both sexes exist as expressions of the repressed markers for the opposite sex has caused my mind to bend a bit; almost like quantum physics. Fun stuff to think anew.)

Scarab Sages

doppelganger wrote:
I'm gonna need something to use as a nalfeshnee and can't seem to find any minis that look like one. Anyone have any suggestions for a metal or plastic mini that (at least sorta) resembles a nalfeshnee?

I haven't looked for a nalfeshnee but the Dreamscape line from WOTC has a lot of great miniatures for demons and outsiders of various types, conveniently scaled to work as Large miniatures in D&D.

Grand Lodge

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I really can't believe any Gm would allow those stats. Have you checked with them make sure you can use those stats?

Dark Archive

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Super excited to start this AP. I started subscribing for this one.