Chief Sootscale

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This is all great, I am reading it and I appreciate it.

There's a lot to absorb and read and reexamine, so I'm not informed enough to reply with much else.


Players in my game, obviously shouldn't be reading this.

We're wrapping up a campaign and I'm trying to get some awesome out of the last couple of sessions. Got some cool stuff planned, but the party has a killer tactic I don't really know how to step to.

They are level 8, we are playing a drastically altered version of Kingmaker (no spoilers, but the crucial detail is that 90% of the time they get to set their own pace, and the only way I can counteract that is with wasted hours of random encounters).
There is a paladin, a wizard, a bow-rogue, and a ranger.

My problem is this:
round one the wizardr casts greater invisibility on the rogue.
Round 2+ everything dies and the others are unable to contribute to anything except forming a shield wall and waiting.

This displeases me.

I seriously thought we were doing something wrong, and that maybe the sneak attack should be only once per round, not every iterative attack, but google and this forum have confirmed that thems the rules.

The rogue easily lands 60+ damage a turn, the ranger is landing something like 12. This is every round. Unless it is an evil character, the paladin is landing 12, to maaaybe 20 damage.

I do not know if the rogue and paladin characters are unoptimised, or if the rogue is severely optimised. One thing I do know is that I have no idea how to handle the use of greater invisibility.

I've tried the old "use the tactic on them, see how they fight it, then learn from that" trick, pitting them against will o wisps. The problem in that was "round one, wizard turns rogue invisible. Round two, glitter dust. Then blood"

So, short of ensuring any significant encounter has an enemy wizard, who wins initiative (otherwise, sneak attack and dead), I have no idea how the tactic could be fought.

So now I feel like every encounter needs to be APL+2 to be worthwhile, or 90% of encounters should just be narrated. (You came across 4 cyclops in your travel up the mountain. One was a mighty champion. But none were wizards. You soon bested them)

I play a whole bunch of systems, so I don't know pathfinder in as much depth as I'd like.

The main adversaries for now are... People with squid faces...
What sort of tricks can they, and large brutes, use to mitigate invisibility magic at this level?

Obviously I'm more after "how do monsters and NPCs combat this when they discover it happening" than "I want to neutralise this tactic" else I'd be giving everyone True Seeing items. But what do creatures do when they discover they are being hammered by invisible arrows?

Running Varnhold, having a bit of a problem.

The party have investigated the town, read the books, killed the spriggans, and then went home to their kingdom for the upkeep week.

They do not appear to have any interest in returning.

They were asked to look into it by an character in Restov, and as far as they seem to be concerned, they have. Certainly no interest in following up these centaur hooks, no concern about the villagers (having made the not inconceivable assumption that they are long dead), and no real sense that it is their problem (Restov is closer to Varnhold anyway, they'll have to deal with whatever it was that did it).

They have a small kingdom, with just one city.

They have killed the familiar.

How do I salvage this? Vordecai's dungeon is basically the high point for me.

StabbittyDoom wrote:

Tim Hunt wrote:
It is a huge selling point to me that being a paladin means being one of the *special* orders of knights. The paladins of Bahamut, Iomadae, whatever. If Vecna has paladins, and Desna has paladins, and lamashtu has paladins and the raven queen has paladins, and Tiamat has paladins... Paladin just becomes a byword for divine fighter.

I'm essentially okay with paladins being like this. I still wish a corresponding (but perhaps mechanically different) class existed for the LE and CG branches (mostly the latter).

That said, I still believe that the alignment restrictions of Barbarian, Monk and Druid serve no real purpose in that respect. Mostly Druid and Barbarian, actually, but I would've liked to see monks at least be changed to "non-chaotic".

I'm definitely all for a blackguard or antipaladin, some kind of paragon of evil. Maybe there shouldn't be an order of them (in response to the book mentioned earlier), but we can allow a single Vader.

I really haven't paid much attention to the APG, other than looking at the oracle and witch. Is the Inquistor sort of what you're after for the CG one? Or do they drift too far from good?

For the other three, its a bit tougher, but I'm much more open to changing them. I find that some classes describe careers (wizard, cleric), and some skill sets (rogue, fighter), and a few could describe either, depending on Gm and player. The alignment discussions falls down to working out where they are on that divide,
The paladin is, to me, specifically means a holy knight with a code and the backing of their god. The alignment stays.
Does the barbarian mean Conan (following a personal code/conscience rather than the kings law), or does it mean a combatatent who relies on anger frenzy and strength over tactics and duelling? There's an npc in Stolen Lands that is exactly that, a former paladin with anger issues. If the later works, I'm fine with no restrictions.
Does being a monk in your game strictly mean coming from a shaolin temple, following a vegan diet and abstinence? Kinda needs to be lawful. If it means you know Kung Fu (entirely legitimate alternative), you can have whatever alignment you like, including chaotic. There's enough fictional precedent for a martial artist who doesn't follow rules.

Druids, honestly I barely get what restricting them from the extreme alignments does. They've already got access to 5 of the alignments. If they are allowed to be lawful, and allowed to be evil, then I don't see what is gained from preventing them form being lawful evil. If the player wants to play them as lawful good (always holds to law and good) but can only select neutral good (always holds to good, tries to hold to law) then nothing stops them from playing a NG who tries very well. Likewise, while they can't play CG, they can play NG with sufficiently weak convictions. I really don't see what the restriction achieves.

In my home game, I have a single TN nature spirit, so I suppose 'any Nuetral' is the same as the cleric's 'within one step'. Honestly I'd rather work out a Code of the Wilds than have an alignment restriction.

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I came to pathfinder after running/playing 4e for a couple of years.
In 4e, a paladin is a fighter with a Divine power source, and it doesn't matter what god or alignment they play (as long as they matched). While playing 4e, this made sense to me. Every god should have priests and warriors. The 4e roles lock the cleric into a leader role, so the paladin is needed as a defender. Done.

When coming to pathfinder, I saw that a paladin was a Paladin. Their class features aren't 'some divine power' but 'shining holy knight'. The flavour of them is significantly different from 'a divine fighter', and I feel that really should be preserved. Every god can have warriors and priests (through multiclassing and battle clerics, there isn't a huge difference between the two), but only the knightly-order-type-gods get paladins.
It is a huge selling point to me that being a paladin means being one of the *special* orders of knights. The paladins of Bahamut, Iomadae, whatever. If Vecna has paladins, and Desna has paladins, and lamashtu has paladins and the raven queen has paladins, and Tiamat has paladins... Paladin just becomes a byword for divine fighter.

I don't have nostalgia for the restrictions, I came from the other direction, and I think it is abjectly better this way*. My personal opinion/experience is that the class loses any actual identity. I flatly do not consider the alignment a balance matter.
Other people can play however they like, and as long as you don't bring it to my game I won't argue with your right to.

For the books though, I'm glad they kept it for the RAW. It is fundamentally harder to take something away from your players than it is to give it to them. If the book said "any alignment at all, have fun" I would have more trouble putting it back in than one would have taking it out.

* mind you, I'm a fan of versimilitude over player indulgement. Hell, I somewhat approve of racial class restrictions. You cant play a Gnome barbarian, because the idea is ridiculous and you are asking me and the other players to continually ignore the fact that being 2'4" has only minor detriment to your ability with a great axe. For some of us, that dramatic suspension of disbelief is actually a major source of fun.
Again, not balance, just versimilitude.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
My thoughts on it are: don't have the gp cost, don't have the negative level be permanent. It sucks to die, it sucks that one of the PCs has to use a high-level spell to fix the problem. We grew up playing video games where you die, hit Continue, and keep playing. These costs are among the last "DM vs. players" mentality of the old style of gaming, and I don't play that way.

I have a couple of different reactions, and they don't easily flow into each other. So I used subheadings.

I'm interested, could you elaborate:
That's with the situation that the players are high enough level to cast the spell themselves. The 'cost' is a 4th level spell slot. How do you handle it when they aren't high enough level?
The standard "the cleric will only do it if you complete this quest"?
I've never really liked using that one, but the problem might be I've never planned for it to happen, so I haven't had a good quest justification handy*. How have you handled it?

I disagree, but don't mean offense:
I definitely feel like the cost and negative levels are an uninteresting tax in my games, doing nothing more than to drain their coffers and kick them while they're down -and I'm looking for ways to fix that in my games- but I have to ask, what is the point of a game where dying doesnt mean anything beyond sitting out a few rounds? I'm not saying that with my DM hat, but as a player. I can't imagine that I would feel any tension or buy in, if I knew that I basically couldn't fail in the longrun.
Sure, we might not save the damsel. But I'm immortal. My friends are immortal. Hell, we can just use a 4th level spell on her when we finally get there, after our third or fourth suicide charge breaks down the minotaur morale.
I got a bit sarcastic there, but that's because I clearly don't see the logistics of how to make this work in a good game, which I fully believe you to be running.
If you could enlighten me on how you prevent the issues I'm concerned with, I would appreciate it.

A short explanation of my point of view:
I don't have a dm vs players perspective, but both I and my players have come from a background with a variety of narrative** games where half the point is that if you screw up, you could Die.
Call of Cthulhu, NWOD, Requiem, Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader.
That was after starting with 4e.
I, and at least a couple of my players, really dislike how little death means under RAW, to the point where my wip homebrew setting completely lacks ressurection magic, and uses hero points to compensate.

*There's also the massive problem with anything along these lines... "Hey, George, you're gonna have to just sit there while the other three do an exciting adventure to bring you back"

** Not free form narrative, psuedo plot points and wishy washy collaborative whatever. Fairly standard games about investigation, social intrigue, conspiracy and action, and that's what we want to do in Pathfinder. I gather all the fine folks here succeed at doing exactly that.
I'm really only taking the time to cover this, as I'm premptively concerned with someone insinuating I'm a dm deriving pleasure from crushing players hopes and dreams, by running them through dungeon crawl filled with nonsensical but abusively optimised monsters.

Interesting. Yeah, I'd be quite down with inherent bonuses. It's basically instances like the cloak being mechanically mandated that I want to avoid.

Beyond +1 to all saves at 3rd level, what are some other general steps? Where abouts are they expected to have +1 armour?

I'll do some reading on that.

Fair point, I just said some subjective buzzwords and left it at that.
As generic and pointless as it sounds, despite running 4e and pathfinder for years now, I've never felt like I was playing Tolkien styled fantasy. Corebook classes (no monk, and i still don't get Bards), 'plain' races (humans, dwarves, half elves, halfling. True elves left a long time ago), arcane magic in a recession (the elves are gone), only a handful of distant deities. All Detect spells are gone. Resurrection magic is the sole purview of one of the gods, and she's the least anthropomorphised. Maybe resurrection is in there as a 9th level spell.
That sort of thing.

A big thing is that I don't like is there being so many magic items around that most of them get sold. I've been running kingmaker and the players usually greet a new bundle of magic items by doing the sums to work out their worth, and all but converting them into cash on the spot.

Maybe that is a result of the particular AP giving the wizard time to craft the perfect items instead of merely working with what they find/acquire.

For a new game with players new to fantasy, I'd really like to have them excited over what they find, and not expecting that ill let them shop through the books for optimised gear.

So if I do need to keep a fair bit of gear in, I'll alter the question.

How easily could a campaign work where, by and large, the magic items are those that are made available, and not commissioned or self made?
I'm not looking to push the bleeding edge of CR, a big thing of the 'there's no Raise Dead' is that the PCs might fear death. That let's me play NPCs and monsters with enough fear of death to break or surrender.

Given all of that, how badly are optimised builds and their selected gear needed?

So I am wanting to run a relatively low magic campaign. It's not that I want to abolish magic items, but that I want them to feel special. I'd rather shoot for "Sting, an enchanted blade of Elven steel" than "a +2 goblin bane short sword that you'll probably sell rather than use".

But my concern is how level progression, DCs, ACs and attack scores of monsters measures up to PCs without buckets of magic items.
Is this at all doable, or should I just try another way to get the feel I'm going for? Maybe a large discrepancy between 'enchanted' generic +x items, and True Magic items, with traits, wondrous items, etc?

My players have basically no dnd experience, and I'm building my own setting for the game, so if I can shoot for the flavour I'm after that'd be great. Otherwise I can keep it more traditional.

That is perfectly what I'm looking for, thank you!

Guess I really need to read ultimate magic.

That's a good point, and definitely something to keep in mind. Great set of bruisers for a decent level necromancer.

Are there any other ways to handle things at a lower level though? I'm talking 'our first adventure', apl 3 sorta villain?

It seems the problem is escalation. You don't fight a necromancer by himself, and a CR5-ish cleric plus a pair of them... bit horrifying for our 3rd level party.


I'm sorry if the question has come up too much before, but my searches have so far haven't solved my problem. Most of the hits were about PC builds, or making especially dangerous villains. My problem is the undead minions feeling embaressingly weak next to a lvl5 cleric.

It seems like the difference between the level needed for an antagonist to raise low level undead, and the strength of those undead, makes a necromancer useless as a low level villain.

Animate Dead is 4th level for wizards (so fireball is an alternative), and 3rd for cleric (the negative energy damage is at 3d6). A skeleton is cr1/3. I am not seeing how a party that can handle that kind of villain is even slowed down by the +0 attacks of those skeletons, or how a party that is challenged by skeletons could survive making eye contact with that villain.

I want to put together a low level adventure based around a necromancer villain. I really don't want to use stronger undead (I'm after 'skeletons and zombies' for this, not cyclops lich), and I am vaguely dissatisfied with giving the guy a wand*.

What am I missing?

* foreshadowing that there is a bigger bbeg is nice, but not to the point that this villain is obviously a chump.

Fair points, and thank you for the quick replies.

I was reading through Dragons Revisited and I loved the idea of a scholarly green dragon. That it was determined to amplify its power through research and study of magic rather than simply waiting to grow older and let more of its innate power manifest.

Plus it has already become a plot point that it exchanged tutelage from a wizard in exchange for the protection of that wizard and his village.
As the last session left it, it traded the PC wizard's spell book for the diamond needed to bring back the paladin, so I definitely want to go with it being a wizard.

Perhaps I can work with the idea of it somehow permanently converting its sorcerer CL into wizard? It loses spontaneous casting in exchange for the ability to learn from books...
Eschew Materials takes care of the most glaring problem (I do have trouble picturing it with a bag of ingredients), which just leaves its spellbook and a bonded item. Both things that the PCs could try to destroy before the final confrontation comes.

So, I have a dragon in my game that has become a wizard.

I am trying to work some things out, namely, does this in anyway stack with its CL as a dragon (aka, pseudo sorcerer)? That becoming Wizard 1 makes an adult green dragon go up a CR seems a bit odd to me, as all of its spells are ridiculously ineffectual for its current power level (though the ability score changes are considerable).

I understand that sorcerer and wizard are separate things, but I'm still puzzled here. Do any of its spellcasting abilities stack together (monster advancement in bestiary seems to imply this, but not state too clearly as it relates to different spellcasting types)? I suppose I'm confused by the fact that it isn't a 5th level sorcerer, but merely casts spells -like- a sorcerer.

Thank you.

Cool, I was leaning towards yes, but wanted to check before I made a precedent. Getting this wrong could have been a major problem.

Thank you!

PC died last session in my game. We're playing Kingmaker, and they don't have a cleric powerful enough for any Raise Dead spells yet (all at level 4), so they have to ride at full speed to another city.

With the weather and a caravan, it could take them around a week.

So a question has come up. For them, Gentle Repose is a 4 day spell. At the end of those 4 days, can it be cast again?

Ah, nevermind. Google, and all that.

Ah, a good point. I am unfortunately very new to the Golarion setting, so I'm finding my way as I go. That's probably the best way to to with it. I can stretch some GMing muscles on making the cultists, without having to make up the mythology first.

Can I find Charon in the Inner World guide, or do I need another book?

Thanks for the quick replies. Some ideas I hadn't thought about before, especially the actual upside of physically marking members of the cult. It had never really occurred that it would keep members from ratting them out, and only the obvious downside of "make every member of this secretive order easy to identify".

some spoilers for Varnhold Vanishing:

Fair points regarding the definition of the term Cult, but when I was specifying "worships an ancient Lich" I had a specific usage in mind.

I am intending to make them Lawful Evil. My basic idea is that they are unaware that Vordecai is simpy a lich, and instead believe him to be some dark god or devil. It was started by a charismatic sorcerer who used the legends of the ancient being to start a cult for personal purposes. The cult outlived its creator, and the legends and laws that he created to keep them under control served to keep them hidden and safe.

They believe that their god will only grant them their reward when they gain sufficient arcane and political power, which is their explanation for the lack of divine power they have. All leaders within the cult are arcane spell casters (acquisition of arcane power is the core tenant), but many others join for the connections and influence membership can bring. I am thinking on modelling this on some kind of Masonic fraternity, with the majority of the lower tier members being there for selfish reasons.

Given that their goals are the acquisition of knowledge and influence at any cost -not "blood for the blood god"- and that members should be well connected within their kingdom, it will be complicated to [i]prove[/] that they are responsible for anything wrong, and difficult to excise the members without leaving key positions unmanned.

Vordecai is, of course, entirely unaware of this following.

Still a work in progress, but I'm hitting some ideas I like. Any suggestions or criticisms would be welcome.

I am wanting to add a human cult dedicated to the worship of a certain entity from adventure three (with the justification that the legends passed from the centaur shamans to the kingdom of Restov) to use as antagonists throughout adventures one (a kobold sized subplot that sets up a recurring villain) and two (an insidious cult infecting the new kingdom), as well as foreshadowing adventure three a little.

I'm looking for any resources for designing a cult for an rpg. Most of my google searches have already turned up nothing but the argument that dnd is satanism. Instead I turn to the august members of the board.

Anyone know any articles or general advice for forming the details?