parrot familiar wrote:
I made a one shot where my party was having a vision of a past life in which they were all together on the day that they all died: they knew beforehand that there would be no survivors. Fun for a one-shot because the ending is set. They got to find their bodies after seeing where they died in the previous incarnation and looted themselves! A good break from the regular characters that didn't break continuity with the campaign.
Ooh, I might adapt this idea to help our campaign make a more seamless transition:
We have a couple friends coming back to the USA after a couple years in Japan and they'll be rejoining our Pathfinder group. We're currently in the middle of Curse of the Crimson Throne, and it seems awkward to introduce 2 additional characters to the story at this point. But how about that spooky intelligent item in CotCT gives us that vision of our death in a past life, but there were two other people there the day we died? It will further cement the idea that our current group was fated to meet and furthermore allow for a more seamless introduction of 2 new players.
9. (P) Here's one I've actually run: When the Advanced Class Guide came out, everyone picked a class they were interested in and they played the iconic for that class. It was fun in a few ways; players got to try classes unlike anything they've played before (The Arcanist had never been an arcane caster before) and since the backstory was written for them, it caused them to roleplay characters they wouldn't have come up with themselves. Not really ideal for a long-term character, but an interesting experiment to broaden horizons on what kind of character/class a player might enjoy.
10. (N) The story for this one-shot was nothing special; players arrived in a city looking for work. They're hired by a shady fellow hoping to find something on a mysterious island. PCs get into a fight in a back alley; turns out they were just being tested by their employer. PCs stock up in the city and set sail with employer and a few NPCs. A few fights on the boat, some stormy weather and they end up shipwrecked on precisely the island they were looking for. Story ends on cliffhanger there, although could easily go on for another session or two if you had ideas for the mysterious island.
...see why I made this thread? I need better one-shots!
You know how these threads work by now! The goal for this specific thread is to brainstorm ideas for one-shots. (Could be 1 to 3 sessions) These ideas can fall into 2 categories: the campaign narrative or the quirky parameters of the one-shot. Both are fine! I’ll be designating mine with an (N) for Narrative and (P) for Parameter, but do as you please.
1. (P) The GM changes over the course of the game! One person would write up the one-shot, but at key points one of the players is handed guidelines on how to GM part of the session and at the end of the instructions, it specifies who the next GM is. (Or how the next GM is chosen.) Have you played Betray at House on the Hill? Sort of like that.
2. (N) The players wake up in cages and have been experimented on by a wizard! You need to break free and find a way out. (Plagiarism isn’t bad, right? Ah, memories.)
3. (P) The entire party is the same class! (Different Archetypes encouraged!) I recommend letting your players chose and building around their choice. (Although let them face situations they may not be well suited for.) Whether Oracle, Barbarian or Bard, same class parties can make for some fun stories.
Wow, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! I almost edited that post to say "Feel free to pick and choose the questions you want to answer" since they're not the kind of questions you can answer in one word.
I might just take you up on that invitation when I'm in the Seattle area! I do actually live in Washington, but a good 3 hours to the south.
Tacticslion, it's as though the word Christian is mentioned and then bam! The heavens part and here you are. Haha, this definitely isn't the first time.
Random Question: Jason, how did you pick your avatar?
What is your religion? (When you used the phrase "weeping and gnashing of teeth" it narrowed my guesses, but that could also just be cultural accumulation. Plenty of non-Christians use phrases like "writing on the wall" and so forth.) Are there any great minds in your religion (or atheism?) that you admire?
Do you enjoy any sports? I have an admiration for people who are the best of their field, no matter what it is, but otherwise have been uninterested in sports my whole life. Although a couple months ago I picked up Table Tennis and found it to be surprisingly challenging and deep when I discovered spin and all the different strokes and counters. I still suck.
How are the processes of writing rules crunch vs adventure paths similar or different?
In writing an adventure path, you're constructing a story without any idea who the protagonists will be; is that challenging? Liberating?
Do you have a favorite story that you found influential to your writing? Or just something you really enjoyed?
Several times in my experiences with Pathfinder I remember looking at a spell or class feature and thinking "This is awesome!" and later find out it was your design. I wish I could remember them!
What's your favorite design out of all the work you've done for Paizo? Or what design do you think is enjoyed by players more than any of your other designs?
Has anything you've created been nerfed or banned? Is there anything you've created that you wish you could update/rewrite because of some oversight?
Too each their own. Are there other full casters in the party she'll be comparing herself too? If not, then I'd say leave it alone. It's an enjoyable class that contributes a lot to a party.
But is she standing next to a wizard, a cleric and a druid? Then sure, I'd be more inclined to let her have spell levels early, just because of the disappointment of being behind others.
1. The bloodline seems reasonably balanced, although it doesn't seem like a bloodline in the traditional sense.
2. That seems fine.
3. I'd leave this alone. Casting 1 level behind a wizard is the biggest handicap to playing a sorcerer, and that's okay. Sorcerer is still one of the strongest classes and you're giving lots of other nice benefits.
4. This is strong, but probably okay. I like extra feats.
5. I like this change and have made the same houserule. (Why should Oracles be the only one to get their extra spells on time?)
Oh, and if you want to go further in showering this sorcerer player with a bunch of nice things, might I suggest bumping up their skills per level to 4+ Int? Or maybe make a trait available that grants an extra skill point at every level.
Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:
Alter Summoned Monster
Haha, I'm aware of the spell and the beautiful/horrendous abuses with Mount. I just assumed my GM wouldn't stand for it. Even if my GM were short-sighted enough to allow the spell to function as written, I don't wish to relegate my good friends to life as a cadre of BMX Bandits.
I'd say killing people with Ponies is far from overwhelmingly powerful, it's more getting more utility out of SMI than people perhaps thought possible. SMII is still stronger, just not by very much when you factor in Evolved Summon Monster. I thought it was pretty cool, since Conjurer's Focus is very limited by your arcane reservoir.
That is what I plan to take at level 13. It's probably a little late to be taking the ability, although I don't really want to delay picking up any of my other exploits. It does has the nice timing of being the same time my Wizard cohort can start crafting staves. (Level 11) And of course my cohort will have scribe scroll, so I will eventually get some nice cheap scrolls. (Again, a little late.) A lot of awkward timing in this build, but hard to complain with such cool abilities.
Thought I'd point out one of my absolute favorite guides:
Every time I revisit the guide, I remember something I need to try. I'm currently level 2 in my campaign and this stuff is great! I'm adding nets to the list of items my Arcanist carries, since I have a great dex and ranged touch attacks aren't that hard to hit. The guide is chock full of ways you can save spells/arcane points in favor of other relevant actions.
Haha, sorry for misleading; I was thinking back to that April Fools 2011 post. ...but I guess people have taken what was a joke and made an actual campaign setting! Ambitious and even more pony-tastic than my Occultist, I'm sure.
I was inspired to make this guide after being a little frustrated with how many times you can activate your Conjurer's Focus ability, casting the highest Summon Monster available, before using consume spells. Here's the breakdown:
Level 1 - 3/day
...and 1/day every level thereafter. If you aren't taking extra reservoir or high charisma for Consume Spells, the ability becomes increasingly constrained. But I think shrewd use of Evolved Summon Monster (see Ponyfinder) will let you get more mileage of this powerful ability. All while still being a full caster with amazingly flexible abilities, like Quick Study. I hope this mini-guide will be of some use to people looking into playing the class.
Ever run out of powerful spells by the time you reach the big bad evil guy? All casters run into this balancing act. Arcanists even more so, with fewer spells than Wizards or Sorcerers and class features that encourage you to sacrifice even more spells. Occultist have it perhaps toughest of all, with an amazingly strong ability that, if used recklessly, can be depleted after only a few combats.
This mini-guide to the Occultist Arcanist is about how to conserve resources while still contributing to every fight.
My level 1 stats:
This character has crazy generous stats, but it's not necessary to make the class function. If anything, this guide is more pertinent to someone with a regular point buy since you can’t consume as many spells each day.
Occultist's Progression Of Abilities:
Other than level 2, every level for an Occultist adds exciting new options, which I think speaks well to the design of the class.
Levels 1 and 2
Subsequent Odd Levels
Subsequent Even Levels
Evolved Summon Monster: An Occultist’s Best Friend
So what makes Evolved Summon Monster so incredibly strong? The ability to add additional natural attacks. There was a great thread on this a while back. Theorycrafting to maximally exploit Evolved Summon Monster Adding natural attacks to monsters with high strength/hit die but a terrible attack routine is how you get the most out of this feat.
For an Occultist, at level 3 and beyond, you really don’t want to be using your Conjurer’s Focus to cast the highest level SM spell you have access to in EVERY combat. But how can you still contribute to combat while conserving resources? Enter Ponyfinder.
The pony is the strongest monster on SM1. Didn’t seem that way last time you looked? That’s because it starts with secondary attacks. But with 2 Hit Die and (post augment summoning) 17 Str and 18 Con, it has stats you’d expect to see on SM2. Let’s see how it looks with some evolutions.
At Level 3:
At Level 5:
Or Add Mount:
Now is the pony actually stronger than the SM2 options? No, a Giant Worker Ant or a Hyena with evolutions would be stronger. But the power difference is so minor it generally makes no sense to spend double the arcane points to achieve such a minor boost.
Don’t forget this important line of text, which reinforces the pony as the best option for abuse at low levels. ” Evolutions that grant additional attacks or enhance existing attacks can be applied only to Medium or larger summoned creatures.” So eagles and earth elementals don’t have access to the most powerful part of this feat; extra attacks. (You could still give them +2 natural armor or something.)
The pony is a low level trick to conserve resources, and I’d say the sweet spot is levels 3 through 6, although I wouldn’t forget about it entirely. Sometimes a flank buddy with 5+ natural attacks that only hit on a nat 20 is good enough for easier fights.
However the same concept can be applied well beyond these levels. Try summoning a Bison (SM4) instead of a Dire Tiger. (SM6) And the beauty of it all is that this trick doesn’t take any investment at all. You want Evolved Summon Monster anyway! Who doesn’t want to summon a T-Rex with 6 natural attacks?
Other Ways To Conserve Resources:
School Understanding: Void
I love Reveal Weakness. 3+Cha times per day, you give a penalty on AC and saving throws equal to half your caster level. No saving throw, just massive penalties. It’s often a great follow up to summoning a creature, allowing a flurry of attacks (and spells) to get through much easier. And it’s contributing to combat without casting a spell or spending arcane points.
Are you ready to inflict death by ponies? Suggestions, questions, and critiques are much appreciated!
There are quite a few action economy evangels; to quote from another thread:
"Always, always take a familiar. Always. An exploit and a feat is a pittance for gaining an extra standard action every round. Particularly if you invest in UMD as you should and grab good wands."
It's solid advice, but not necessarily the character everyone wants to build. Whatever people choose, I hope most are respectful enough of their fellow players to keep their turns short.
Eh, I wouldn't go around accusing people of "doing it wrong." 1. Fun is king. 2. You don't know enough about their party to criticize their choices even from a crunch standpoint.
Our party isn't quite ideal either; our frontliners are a Life Oracle and a Ninja. (So actually a two-handed raging power attacking barbarian cohort would be quite nice.) But I think we can manage; my summons help with that.
During character construction, I pick a class and from there my optimization brain turns on and do the best I can to make my mechanics rock solid.
...but when I go to the table I prioritize fun. I try to monitor what the other players are doing and interacting with whoever seems disengaged. I perhaps overdo my character quirks. 8 wisdom isn't abysmally low, but I like to play my character as someone who speaks before thinking of the ramifications.
Oh, and I'll be taking Leadership, but only to get a crafting Wizard for the pure money saving goodness for the party and also more spells for my spellbook. He won't be adventuring with us.
I don't want to deal with managing all these actions each turn. I don't want the other players waiting for me to finish my turn. I don't want to discourage our Ninja who's playing Pathfinder for the first time after 8 years of saying "No thanks" to our invitations.
Action economy is discussed on the boards all the time; you should be summoning monsters, quickening spells, and have a familiar using a wand to overwhelm your foes with the sheer quantity of standard actions you can take each turn. But when is it too much?
From a pure optimization standpoint, the answer is never. Always take more actions when possible. I'm playing an Occultist Arcanist (currently level 2) and have every opportunity to shatter the action economy. ...but I'm thinking I'd rather not. I'll take a regular familiar, for the nice initiative boost and other minor utility, but would rather keep it away from the battlefield. I'd like to summon an Auroch with Claws and a Bite attack from Evolved Summon Monster, but would rather stay away from Superior Summoning. I guess I have preference in potent actions over a lot of them, even though more actions is stronger.
I'm playing through the Crimson Throne with an unchained Ninja, Oracle and a Cleric. We have a GENEROUS point buy and optimized builds, so I feel I have plenty of margin to skip out on action economy; our party is strong enough for the challenge. But not everyone has such a generous hedge of power. How do you go about it in your games?
The Steel Refrain wrote:
You're correct in spades, of course. The class was seamlessly powerful before, now it's merely awkwardly powerful. (You have to truly weigh the cost of using Potent Magic, Dimensional Slide, and Quick Study.) But hey, I like nice things and maybe my GM won't mind. I'll walk him through all the ways I can think of abusing the ability (like trap finding) and see if he's still okay with it.
Hrmm. How busted would it be to change the ability like so:
Your Conjurer's Focus ability costs 1 less point from her arcane reservoir. (Minimum 0 points)
It'd allow you to cast SM1 an unlimited number of times per day, although you could only ever have one active, and if you ever wanted to cast higher level summon with Conjurer's Focus, it would disappear. SM1 has no spells that can be abused... I don't know. Kicking in at level 7, I'm unsure if this ability would be broken or useless.
Just a Mort wrote:
Actually, there's this clause: "Evolutions that grant additional attacks or enhance existing attacks can be applied only to Medium or larger summoned creatures." So you can't. And as you say, you wouldn't want to anyway. The earth elemental can also do +6 to hit, 1d6+11 dmg, if power attacking.
That was the idea behind the ability; even if I met the prereq for those feats, they're simply not worth taking. Not only are there a lot of better feats, but you can even take Evolved Summon Monster as many times as you want, and I think it's always better than any of the "light" feats. So I thought this would be a cool way to make use of the subpar feats. Having access to all 3 allows when necessary allows you to flexibly deal with niche things that come up, like DR/Silver (Moonlight Summons) or an invisible enemies (Starlight Summons) Summoning can already work around these issues (Dire Bats for invisible enemies, spellcasting summons for DR) but it's nice to add options to your other creatures.
Greater Consumption would be nice, but doesn't kick in until level 11, which I find too late. Also seems weird to spend an Exploit to still not be as good as a pre-nerf arcanist.
I'd say Pounce and Reach are almost trap evolutions anyway. You tend to just summon the monster next to its target anyway. Evolved summon monster can do some cool things, look at a horse with augment summoning:
2 attacks: +0/+0 to hit, d4+2* damage
Now let's add in Evolved Summon Monster. Either:
Bite: Add a 3rd attack. +5 to hit, d8+5* damage
Mount: Hooves improve. +5/+5 to hit, d4+5* damage
*Didn't include smite damage
Just a Mort wrote:
Superior summons as evolved summons has been nerfed. No reach or pounce evos can now be added. Furthermore, evolved summons only adds 1 evo point, ability score improvement costs 2 evo points. So no 20 str horses.
Right, it was officially changed to exclude pounce or reach. How about mount or claws? Actually, given they had to specifically spell out that you are forbidden to take pounce lends credence to the idea that you're allowed to take mount even though it's "only available to eidolons of the quadruped or serpentine base forms" You could make the same case for claws.
A horse naturally has 16 Str, so augment summoning will bring it up to 20 Str. Although I wonder if Earth Elemental is simply the better summon?
Let's say you're a 2nd level Summoner with Augment Summoning. You're about to hit level 3 and you're looking to take one of two feats: Superior Summoning or Evolved Summon Monster. Which do you take?
If I had to guess, Superior Summoning is more powerful. d3+1 14 Str Eagles vs a 20 Str Horse with either a bite attack or the mount evolution to make his hooves primary attacks. But more than raw power, I imagine sticking with 1 summon is less of a headache for the rest of the table. On the other hand, I do have a rogue in the party who appreciates all the flanking he can get.
So which would you choose, and why?
Has Paizo made an official ruling on which evolutions you can take with Evolved Summon Monster? I've seen people mention you can't take mount because the monster isn't a quadruped eidolon or you can't take claws since it doesn't have the limbs evolution. Honestly, I find that that dubious. I think my GM would readily allow me to apply claws to a wolf or whatever seems anatomically reasonable.
The Sideromancer wrote:
I would split it into 2 exploits (the template and the reduction), but I know little of balance. Also is this for an Arcanist or an Occultist?
It was meant to work directly with the Occultist's conjurer's focus ability. The true value of this ability is in the point reduction, but thought it would be cool if the ability was more than that. Also, the ability would still do something when you hit level 20. Not that level 20 really matters.
I also like that the ability doesn't come online until level 7; casting Summon Monster II at level 3 for one arcane point would be too strong, I think. But 3 points for SM4 seems fair, and 1 point for SM2 just isn't super relevant by that stage of the game.
Of all archetypes, I think the Occultist was hardest hit by the consume spells nerf. So I was thinking of asking my GM for a replacement ability for the 7th level ability. I have no delusions that my proposed ability is a "fair trade," I mean for it to make the class function more easily.
At 7th level, an occultist can spend 1 point from her arcane reservoir to apply Moonlight/Starlight/Sunlight Summons to his Conjurer's Focus ability.
Your Conjurer's Focus ability costs 1 less point from her arcane reservoir. (Minimum 1 point)
I added the first half of the ability as more of a flavor thing, since I have fey heritage as the source of my sorcerer side and the feats are underwhelming normally. Although the flexibility to add any of the 3 may be stronger than I suspect. I also went through various iterations, like the Moonlight/Starlight/Sunlight being 1/day, but figured spending arcane points was more in line with what the arcanist usually does. I also thought of increasing the point reduction to 2 at level 15, but that's just asking for more gravy late game rather than helping the class function. The ability becomes free at level 20 anyway.
So what do you think? Interesting ability? More help than the class actually needs?
Oh, a report! I have played level 1 with this character, and it was awesome! I've played many 1st level wizards before and I just accept that my awesome levels come later. Not so with my Arcanist. Flexibly preparing sleep and grease was very nice, casting just the right spell. (I normally miss out on Sleep since I usually pick Enchantment as an opposition school) Greasing flights of stairs, knocking people to the bottom and ending fights before they began with sleep.
...and then there's Conjurer's Focus. Standard action casting, 1 minute duration, 3 eagle attacks with Augment Summoning... Haha, maybe my true calling is to play a Master Summoner. But I think the Arcanist's full casting and exploits will make for a powerful, flexible character.
You could just take extra reservoir like five times. Does a good job giving you enough points, especially at mid or higher levels.
Believe me, I'm tempted. But there's so many other tempting choices, like Superior Summoning, Evolved Summon Monster, Improved Initiative, Leadership...
Oh, I might also be able to make use of the Magic Schools system, which is sort of cool. I might be able to make some homebrew adjustments to make the benefits of enrollment more suitable to my Arcanist, but the Summoning Specialization ability is already pretty cool. (Adding new monsters of equivalent CR to your summon monster list, with GM approval)
I will go with Quick Study at level 3 and Consume Magic Items at level 5, and push Familiar to 9 or take Extra Arcanist Exploit if you want it earlier, ditto for Dimensional Slide
I think Quick Study doesn't really hit it's stride until 4th or 5th level spells, when you have slots to spare and the added versatility can really pay off. Like swapping in Teleport when needed.
Dimensional Slide... I guess I haven't been grappled enough times to really fall in love with it, but more than that it just lets you get ideal positioning to cast your spells. Again, burning precious arcane points makes me nervous, but this is strong.
Consume Magic Items. I didn't like this ability before, I like it less now. Pre-nerf, you had to pay 75g per arcane point, if you were lucky enough to have a wizard with scribe scroll in your party. Now, you're strongly encouraged to pay even more per arcane point, so you can get even more arcane points in a day. Ugh. But I'm sure I'll take this exploit eventually. I'm thinking it'll be level 11+ though. I'll have wizard cohort, so may as well make good use of it.
I decided I wanted to play an Occultist before knowing about the Consume Spells nerf, but here I am, still playing it anyway. I think it'll still be strong. But does it affect my Exploit picks? Do I still prioritize Potent Magic, Dimensional Slide, and Quick Study?
My current thoughts:
Stats at level 1:
Unsure where to go from there.
This isn't PFS, so I have some flexibility. Heck, if I were super whiny, I bet I could play pre-nerf Arcanist. ...but I don't mind a challenge. How would you build it?
Sidenote: Opportunities for Homebrew:
My character is a student of the Acadamae, as in, the school in question for the Acadamae Graduate feat. Although that feat isn't useful to an occultist. Perhaps it could be rewritten to a relevant benefit? But what kind of benefit would I actually care to get? Maybe my GM would allow me to replace an Exploit with this homebrew ability. I also have an open trait slot.
I feel like quite a few could. Like perception, all Knowledge checks, sense motive... Anytime where failing a check informs the player that there's something their character missed, although the character shouldn't know that. A lot of this came up tonight, actually.
Perception - We were investigating a ship and our GM told us to make a perception check, but we rolled too low. The place was covered in poisonous spider webs, so we're like "Screw that" and made peace with the knowledge that we missed out on something. (We should never have known we missed something.)
Knowledge (Nobility) - None of us had a rank in this skill (We were level 1) so we were aware it was impossible to get higher than a 10. Now we're scheming on taking a rank in Knowledge (Nobility) and check a library or something so we can try the check again. (Very meta-y, although I guess we would have researched this mysterious royal object regardless)
Sense Motive - Very straightforward; when you roll a nat 1 on a sense motive, you think "Okay, guaranteed worthless information" or if you roll a nat 20 you think "Guaranteed relevant information!" Ideally, players wouldn't initiate sense motive checks and the GM would alert us whenever our BS detector started picking up on something.
I think the problem is is that on top of everything a GM has to keep track of, he now has to keep track of every skill modifier for our characters and make all our rolls for us? So... On the one hand this seems like something a well designed app could handle, and that would be a cool tool for a GM to have access to. On the other hand, players are expected to take charge and be responsible for everything their character does, so I'm wondering if this needlessly encroaches on the small part of the world the players have control over?
In the end, Pathfinder isn't a video game so not everything runs as smoothly or automated as you might hope. I've made my peace with meta moments, but if your gaming group can accommodate ways to diminish opportunities for meta knowledge, more power to ya!
Thanks for pointing out School Understanding; I was planning on taking it, but I didn't read it very carefully and assumed it was still keyed off of intelligence. Important to know!
The Steel Refrain wrote:
I've sort of made my peace with the fact that my defenses are flawed and I could be incapacitated or killed by certain spells or poisons. I lean heavily on optimizing proactively, toward enabling my concept rather than defensively, to increase my chances of survival in all scenarios. If I dies or end up useless in a fight, so be it.
Hey all, I'm starting a new campaign on Saturday and have a very generous stat generation system and can't decide on what would be best for my Occultist. (I'd consider dropping the archetype, but I've written a backstory that quite heavily leans on my taking this archetype) Here are the two extremes I'm looking at:
Or I could split the difference with a Charisma of 14 or so. What would your preference be? My concern is that without Consume Spells being usable many times a day, eventually my Summon Monster ability will be usable twice a day, tops. Are there other notable perks to having 18 charisma? Exploits worth looking at? Consume spells alone seems like a shaky reason to go from 8 to 18.
Originality is overrated, I say. Stand atop the shoulders of greats and take the ideas of others even farther!
My favorite idea that I've stolen is from a post in another thread I started where someone explained a great way to run sandbox campaigns. Establish the existence of time and have 3 or 4 plotlines occurring simultaneously. Have each plot advance whether the PCs interact with it or not. An individual plotline could reach a critical point where the PCs have even more compelling reasons to resolve it. Or it could be resolved by other heroes who got there before you. Or whatever. Just seemed like a great way to maintain that openness of a sandbox, where players can go and do what they'd like, but add some urgency and verisimilitude that this is an actual world that moves without you.
What's your favorite idea that you've taken, perhaps reworked a little and added to your game? As a player or game master.
And the final chapter!
@yronimous: I feel I have a GM who can railroad us even more than the GM you described; it's not "You stand at the outside of the dungeon, what do you do?" "Wrong!" ...it's more like... "My GMPC is leading you into the dungeon as you follow behind." The story can keep going without us making any decisions. Anyway, as you explained, I hope to provide my players with enough information, set the mood of the campaign and let them make informed decisions which have meaningful consequences.
@Cap. Darling: I do plan on using some "All roads lead to Rome" tactics, especially with any number of NPCs able to drop the same plot hooks, and perhaps any number of subplots lead to a bigger plot.
@Devilkiller: There are certainly some skills I'll need to master: improvisation and, failing that, controlling the flow of the game to non-offensively stall the PCs, thereby buying you the time you need to create a dungeon/flesh out a plotline that the PCs will explore next time.
@Bodhizen: Good reminders; I intend to have a weather forecast for the entire campaign. Players can railroad is a concern, I know one player who can get a little dominating. I could use some in-game consequences and punish this player, but I'd sooner take him aside and discuss it with him. He's been in my Pathfinder group for 7 years, so I'm comfortable enough.
@SteveGeddes: I'm unsure how comfortable my players will be without rails, I'll do my best to guide them subtly throw in plot hooks and decide for themselves which they'll bite. I do have a player who, when the story isn't moving at a pace she enjoys, will shout "Find the Plot!" a parody of "Find the Path", hoping similar magical results will be reached. Hopefully when the PCs stumble on one of the multiple plotlines found in my sandbox, it won't feel aimless nor require further castings of "Find the Plot"
@MrCharisma: Hope you don't mind if I straight up steal some of what you posted for my campaign. Great ideas. Really digging the separate yet interconnected and constantly moving plotlines.
...and it's over! Thanks again so much to everyone who posted. ...and feel free to post more. This has really helped inspire me to keep on plugging away at building my sandbox.
@TGMaxMaxer: That sounds amazing. Especially the "3 plotlines, chose what to focus on, see what consequences unfold because of what you ignored." I've told my group I want to include the concept of time, and that the world is moving before PCs get there and after they leave. The "3 plotlines" strategy sounds like superbly focused way to do this; rather than tracking 10 individual towns/cities, just track the effects of the 3 plotlines.
@kyrt-rider: Good luck in your endeavor to return to the GM seat! It can be daunting, frustrating and rewarding. I look forward to tossing an encounter they simply cannot defeat, but of course give them the chance to escape. Also I do have something of an assistant GM; I'll lean on him more after the game begins.
@ChengarQuordath: Good point; I don't want to completely take my hands off the world, I can still guide them to the plots through my available tools, like NPCs.
@pezlerpolychromatic: I'll keep the concept of "something to strive for" in mind. Aimless PCs in my "unlimited potential awesome Sandbox" is a fear of mine. What good is my sandbox if my players have no sense of purpose?
@squankmuffin: I will encourage my players to have individual goals, but not necessarily count on those to guide the story. There are storylines in the world that the players can interact with that can have regional/global consequences that should add a sense of purpose and stave off feelings of pointlessness.
@Errant Mercenary: That's a great list of information you want to know as a GMing when building locations/plotlines within you sandbox. Rather than writing the plot in advance, write the villians / NPCs in advance and have them react to the world around them.
...even more to come!
Apologies for disappearing after posting; I just wanted to pop back in to thank everyone for the phenomenal responses. And to think I almost didn't post this thread thinking it'd be uninteresting!
@Petty Alchemy: Point taken; I hate too many irrelevant quests.
@chbgraphicarts: Freaking sweet! Thanks for pointing this out. I've noticed that our group is not lethal in the slightest, no PC deaths ever. I never quite put two and two together that it was because it's somewhat of a jerk move to kill PCs in a railroad plot, and of course our group always railroads. I look forward to TPKing every combat. (Totally kidding, but less pulled punches!)
@MsPleiades: That's my intention! I want this campaign centered around kingdom building rules. Should help tether them down; they're free to wander but they do need to come back eventually.
@Ithnaar: I'm glad to have mortal danger as one tool in my toolbox. Thanks for pointing out the 3x3x3 system! Took me a moment to put in the proper google search, but found it. I've had my players design NPCs for me, but not nearly 9 each, and not nearly as focused.
@Create Mr. Pitt: I'm doing my best to create a world with its own cultures and social/power structures. I don't intend to have linear narrative, but a bunch of chapters my players can explore in the order they choose.
One GM tactic that can rub players the wrong way is railroading, where the GM is overly controlling of the story. No matter what the players do, the story continues down the path the GM has laid out. All GMs in our group, myself included, are guilty of using this tactic at least once, if not constantly.
So in my next campaign I'd like to intentionally NOT railroad the group. My campaign is sandbox style, but that does not by definition prevent railroading. I think the true agony of being railroaded is that the players' decisions are meaningless and don't affect the outcome of the story. So I'm trying to brainstorm ways to make the players' decisions matter.
1. Recurring NPCs:
Take notes for each NPC you introduce. Did PCs do a favor for this NPC? Did PCs mistreat this NPC? Have karma bless or bite the PCs. Excessively, if appropriate. Make it over the top awesome or horrible.
2. Players Express Interest:
PCs are especially interested in some throwaway line about an ancient ruin? Let them investigate! If you have trouble completely ad libbing this unplanned dungeon from start to finish, make it a 2 parter and flesh out the details by the next session.
3. Reward Roleplay and Creativity:
Player does some great roleplaying or lays out some really clever plan? Reward behavior you like seeing in your players by letting their roleplay or plan achieve its intended results, even if it stretches what they could normally accomplish within the rules. Or give the player a literal poker chip or some other token they can turn in for free rerolls or something.
How else could a GM implement the opposite of railroading?
Since many classes offer ways to pick up Weapon Finesse as a class feature (Swashbuckler, Rogue Talents) you may want to ask your GM if you can get a replacement class feature.
In our home games, we give out Weapon Finesse for free, and allow people to take Slashing Grace/Fencing Grace/Dervish Dance/Deadly Agility if a class feature would give them Weapon Finesse. Other options could be any combat feat, or some simple static feat, like Dodge.
I'm thinking a traditional fighter, actually. Or perhaps a fighter with the two-handed archetype, to represent just how heavy her swings are. She doesn't seem like a Paladin (she has strong convictions, but not like that) or a Barbarian, (she doesn't go crazy, she's collected yet brutal) so I'd go fighter. Maybe a knightly martial prestige class would be fitting, like Golden Legionnaire.
Successfully bringing Brienne of Tarth to Pathfinder involves... Well, roleplaying Brienne of Tarth in Pathfinder.
So I've been running the runelords campaign for a few years now, and I'd like to conclude it in chapter 4.
1. My players are losing their excitement for this campaign. Probably because I'm losing excitement as GM
2. Problem characters, mechanically. I've got a Fey Kitsune Sorcerer who's hyper specialized in save or die combat ending enchantments. This leads to a no-win situation. Either the sorcerer completely ends the fight and the party is bored, or the sorcerer is completely useless and not having fun, while the rest of the party is having a good time. Also, I have an Oracle of Life that makes the game feel too safe. No one's ever in danger since the Oracle is constantly topping off HP as free actions, swift actions, move actions, and standard actions. Occasionally casting scorching ray instead.
3. Well, more a consequence than a reason, but I have already declared my intentions for a new campaign. People have rolled up characters and are stoked to try my first stab at a homebrew story; a sandbox kingmaker-esque campaign.
1. Leave the game untouched, PCs defeat Mokmurian and are left with a foreboding cliffhanger of Karzoug's return.
Option 1 seems unsatisfying, while 2 and 3 seem tempting, although I'm nervous about implementing option 3. It could be completely awesome or could go very sour if handled poorly.
Any ideas on how to best conclude the campaign?
Just an update:
The Druid has decided to instead become a Void Wizard. (Glad I asked "Why druid?") I'll still need to walk her through some spellcasting tips to get her on a strong footing.
The Bard has taken the tips from the buffer guide to heart and will be a phenomenal buffer. Also, she opted for the Duettist archetype, so she has a performing familiar now.
The Witch is now a Lore Shaman, oddly enough. Too bad about the loss of the potential of sharing spellbook/familiar spells, but very happy to have a full Divine caster on board.
The Swashbuckler is going for the Inspired Blade archetype, allowing her to dominate with a rapier.
The Synthesist... Not really sure what he's up to. I'll discuss his character with him closer to when my campaign starts.
That's another thing I was considering, like letting them keep a single path ability as a token piece of awesomeness after completing a Mythic one-shot/arc.
Or I could use it like your GM and simply hand out the ability without ever going into full Mythic rules.
I really like the sound of this; might be the best I can offer my players. Would 1 tier be plenty to feel mythic? Or how many tiers wound you recommend for a "Mythic one-shot"?