Zach Klopfleisch's page

Organized Play Member. 88 posts (1,020 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 9 Organized Play characters. 1 alias.


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Fargo isn't really small, there's a significant gaming culture here, but we topped out at around 3 tables worth of potential players and are now down to about 3-4 tables a month. We are small enough that there's a core of "everybody knows everybody, at least from reputation" people that make up half to two thirds of the potential playerbase. Here's some stuff I've learned from starting from scratch as an outsider:

  • Note on terminology: I say "will destroy your lodge" a lot here, what I mean is "will cause your lodge to stagnate, not necessarily stop being able to run games (though that's a possibility.) But lose players and keep it from growing, which in turn keeps players from progressing their characters, which loses players, etc.
  • There are a common set of problems that everybody has to deal with, but the causes and therefore solutions to those problems are unique to your situation. For me, this is the biggest issue I have with people from large areas saying "here's what you need to do..." A problem player is a problem player, sure. But dealing with a problem player requires a completely different perspective when they're one of the three players who you can count on to show up, and if he and his buddy leave there's a good chance that half your games won't even kick off. More on that specific example later. The key point is that what you have is all you have, it's more like a home game in that there's no fall back: If venue/player/gm doesn't pan out, then you don't have PFS. There's more flexibility than a home game because you don't need as much table continuity, but the added PFS rules balance that benefit out by creating their own problems.
  • One bad GM can destroy your lodge. People will stop coming if they don't like a GM. They don't even have to be bad bad, they can just be bad at prepping or bad at managing time or easily distracted. People will stop coming because playing with that GM isn't fun enough to warrant their time, even if they really love Pathfinder. If you have 15 tables a week, people avoiding someone who GMs once a month isn't an issue, if you have four tables a month, it can be catastrophic. And if you're like me, you won't find out until wayyyy after the fact.
  • One or a few bad players can destroy your lodge. Just like a bad GM, the players aren't necessarily jerks, they might even be the nicest people in the world, but they're annoying to play with. They might not be prepared, they might not understand the system, they might be bad at math, they might just be painfully slow on the uptake. But people will stop coming because these players make the game unfun, or at least less fun than the alternative.
  • Cliques will destroy your lodge. I've seen two types of cliques: Intra PFS cliques are players who prefer to play together, so they don't show up if their friends aren't coming. And they tend to level together, so it can make scheduling tougher. Also, you can get cliques of "bad" players that are perfectly fine but other players don't like playing with, so people will actively avoid them. Even without trying, they can push people not in their clique out of PFS simply because their style becomes the dominant style and that doesn't mesh well with other players. The other type, Inter gaming cliques, hurts when you've already got cliques in your gaming community and PFS ends up becoming part of one, which excludes the others. This can be subtle, especially if you're an outsider trying to start something up.
  • Your group may be better suited as a jumping off point for home games. But home games can also destroy your lodge. Partly this is an extension of the above: If a group of friends start playing PFS scenarios as home games, they can make scheduling downright hell. It's great to get people playing regularly, but it can also leave a few players stranded because they can't get into home games. The best players to build a community around, because people like them, are the first players to get a home game going: Because people like them.
  • Coordinator burn destroys your lodge.[/i] Scheduling and dealing with people takes time and effort and isn't necessarily a rewarding activity. But people willing to step up and do that work are even rarer than people willing to GM, so it's also a lot harder to rotate. Also, in a small area, whomever starts the group gets to be known as the contact for the group, so you'll still be stuck with a lot of the communication even if you do manage to hand over the reigns.
  • Scheduling sucks after a while. It's a math problem: You have a limited set of scenarios, and you can only run scenarios that nobody at the table has played before. Large groups solve this problem by bringing new players in to play at low levels, graduating intermediate players to high levels, and older players filter in on the new content. That's not an option when you have one or two tables a month.
  • [/i]Boons are at best rare, but more likely these mythical things that other people have which let them do things your players want to do.[/i] When people ask about playable races, I don't even mention boons anymore because pretty much nobody goes anywhere they can get them. Somebody will inevitably pipe up about boons, though, and that leads to a 5 minute explanation of something that's, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant.

If you take anything away from my rant, please be this: Small lodges have problems that look similar to some of the problems big lodges have. But listen carefully before you make a suggestion based on your experience, because the cause and likely solution to that problem is probably going to have to be unique to that specific situation. I can't think of anything the overall organization can do to address a lot of the problems I've seen, except to make scheduling easier and get boons and GM rewards out to the hinterlands. Unfortunately, I don't have any solutions to those issues.


I always suggest at least a 12 CON and favored class bonus to HP for new players, with advice to go with 14 if at all possible. The added survivability tends to make those new player mistakes (like running into a double flank just to get a sneak attack because you won initiative) less lethal, but no less dramatic and worrisome. It won't guarantee your PC won't die, it does shift the odds a little bit more in your favor.

I consider going with less than 12 CON (14 for a front liner) to be an advanced technique. Play something basic but solid first, get an understanding of the game and get a feel for the difference that 2 or 4 CON might make, get to the point where you can walk away from a character death without feeling upset about it before you go tinkering with a lower CON. (Same thing with other advanced character building concepts like trying to create something from a movie, or trying to exploit an obscure or complicated mechanic from the Advice forums.)

I've GM'd 4 character deaths, I don't know about the one that took 20d6 falling damage, but the other three each had 10 or lower CON. The last one died to a surprise round shortbow crit with sneak attack, and two HP would have saved him.

3 of my characters have died, the one that died from HP damage had 16 CON and Toughness. But he took 120 damage at level 3 before he finally dropped, because the GM took pity on our party and pounded on him while he got healed MMO style to give the rest of the party a chance to whittle the enemy down. After I dropped, he proceeded to one shot KO or kill a party member per round until the Wizard finally finished it off with a wand of Magic Missiles. I chalk that up to a CON win, especially since the fight opened with a crit that would have killed my wife's PC outright which got redirected to my PC through Compel Hostility and didn't even knock him into single digits. (My other two PCs died to a Shadow and drowning.)

Murdock Mudeater wrote:

The classic MMORPG party is 1-3 DPS, a healer, and a tank. Those DPS characters are typically glass cannons. Glass cannons can be useful, but they need to understand their role behave responsibly.

Classic MMORPG PVE combats with a tank, healer, and DPS don't reflect Pathfinder combat well, though. Instead of the script + targeting algorithm of PVE, Pathfinder combat is against an intelligent, creative enemy who is trying to defeat your party, not just take out a single character.

This does, however, reflect a common area of MMOs: PVP. PVP in MMOs is a completely different game, and one of the universal constants of MMPORPG PVP is "Kill the healer first. Or the crowd controller." This maps directly to Pathfinder, even old school D&D. It's always a solid tactic to prioritize killing the characters that can either swing the odds in their team's favor (controller: wizard), or the character who can undo your actions (healer: cleric.) If you accept this, and work within the paradigm instead of trying to force an MMO PVE paradigm onto the game, things will go much more smoothly for all involved.


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Andrew Christian wrote:

There are many, many, many stories of all the horrible atrocities that corporations inflicted upon their rank and file. And some still exist today after hundreds of years.

So it is absolutely probable that a corporation such as the Pathfinder Society and the Decemvirate could continue to be successful without any kind of external or internal oversight.

This is actually more common, especially the further back in time you go, than you are making it out to be.

a.) How many of those atrocious companies were successful for long.

b.) More importantly, what kind of workers were they oppressing?

Almost universally it was unskilled labor that was cheaper than raw materials at the time. In many cases, laborers who were legally tied to the land and not allowed to leave.

That's not what PFS field agents are. They're much more valuable: Exceptional people to begin with, the Society spends three friggin years training them before they go out on missions, dedicating three of their most senior Venture Captains to training and other agents to assist in that training.

Pathfinder agents are not cheap to replace, and even in the absence of OSHA, firms treat expensive, difficult to replace resources much better than cheap, easily replaced resources. Even if the dark ages carpenter beat his apprentices, he still treated his tools very well because those were expensive but apprentices were cheap. PFS field agents are expensive capital. Oliver Williamson's The Economic Institutions of Capitalism has a chapter on labor, unions, and contracting that is applicable here.

Why would the Decemvirate put up with a labor union? Because agents are expensive and they can't micromanage their VCs to ensure those agents aren't wasted. It's called the Principal-Agent problem: How does the Decemvirate ensure that VCs and agents are acting in the way they want them to, instead of following their own interests? Sic someone on them whose incentives (at least in one area) line up with the Decemvirate's. Torch has other, nefarious goals as well? How better to keep your eye on him than keeping him in your own organization? Two birds, one stone.

Finally, there's playing your subordinates off against each other to ensure none become powerful enough to challenge you. This isn't just a fiction trope, it's how Japan and the English Monarchy (for just two examples) actually operated for centuries.

Or, you can disregard the whole body of human knowledge and just make your characters cartoon villains who do bad things just to be bad and still manage to run a successful organization for centuries. Because who cares? It's fiction! But that really grinds on my suspension of disbelief.


Congrats and welcome to the herd!


I'm not familiar with any rulings on this specifically. The PFS forums are where you need to go to find people who will be able to answer this, though, so I've flagged it to be moved.


You can learn any two of "Elven, Dwarven, Gnome, [or] Goblin" from your 14 int. You can learn any of these languages from the rank in Linguistics:

Modern Human Languages
Hallit (Kellid)
Kelish (Kelishite)
Osiriani (Garundi)
Polyglot (Mwangi)
Shoanti (Shoanti)
Skald (Ulfen)
Tien (Tian)
Varisian (Varisian)
Vudrani (Vundrani)

Ancient Languages
Ancient Osiriani

Other Languages


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redward wrote:

*Call out natural 1s and 20s. You don't need to calculate your save on either.

Call out the result of all of your dice rolls, definitely make natural 1s and 20s clear, and if you rolled something so low you're sure won't hit, at least say something like "I rolled a 3, I don't think I have enough modifiers to hit with that." I've seen a lot of players shortchange themselves because they roll low and simply say "I miss" instead of adding up their attack, especially players who are used to playing at low levels and without a lot of buffs. (I've seen other players' PCs almost killed because of this, because the damage that was foregone would have been enough to significantly shorten a fight.) I've also seen crit threats miss.

--Make up some notes on what your attack bonuses are in certain situations. It speeds your math up immensely, and makes you more confident in your result.

--If you aren't good at math, get a calculator. It's better at math than people who are good at math. =D

Let other people make rolls. If someone asks to make a knowledge or perception check, let them make the roll initially and wait until the results are announced before making your own roll. They thought of it, you didn't, let them have the recognition for their good work.


ShadowLodgeAgent wrote:
This is the place to tell other players why they don't need a high Initiative modifier in PFS. Go nuts.

I tell some players who are building Ninjas, Rogues, Monks, Fighters or Barbarians that they don't need a high initiative sometimes as a bit of a white lie: It makes it slightly easier later on to teach them not to run into the middle of a bunch of enemies and get themselves killed before anyone else acts when they aren't consistently getting 20+ on initiative rolls.


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dwayne germaine wrote:
Odd, I've never questioned that the "must use the re-roll result" meant anything other than that you couldn't use another re-roll on the same check.

I always read it as only referring to the two rolls in question, to expose the character to the same penalties for failure that a normal roll would:

I'm disarming a trap and roll an 8, which I don't think will make it. So I reroll and get a 3: That's almost certain to set the trap off for missing by more than 5 so I want to take the 8 instead. The "must take the result of the second roll even if it's worse" verbiage doesn't let me reduce my exposure to danger this way. It doesn't have anything to say about other abilities or effects to modify the roll, such as another reroll ability.

If you read the "must take the result of the second roll" so strictly that "must" means you cannot use another ability to reroll, wouldn't that also mean that special abilities like Gallant Inspiration aren't applicable to rerolls? That doesn't make sense because the spell is completely silent on when it can be used other than that it's an immediate action that happens after a roll fails, and it's explicitly intended to convert failed rolls to successful rolls.

The writers are also very conscious of word count, "you must take the result of the second roll" is much more parsimonious than "you must take the result of the second roll unless you have a spell or ability that allows another roll or modifies it in some way." That more than doubles the word count for a rare corner case.

Rerolls are expensive resources, if a player wants to burn multiple on a single roll, why not let them manage their resources?


Quadstriker wrote:

Specificallly with tracking initiative and keeping track of buffs, debuffs, hp, and the like.

As a newish GM, it can seem like a lot to do. Locally I have seen a few different methods.

1. Pathfinder Combat Pad - it is nice looking and is what I have used in my first few GMing efforts.
PROS - Easy to adjust initiative order during combat
CONS - not much space to write on the individual character tabs. Squeezing a name, initiative #, and damage received on there is a tight fit, and forget it if you want to slip a -2 debuff to something on there. How are others using this more effectively?

I use the combat pad for tracking initiative. I put the name (Bad 1 through Bad N for enemies) and their initiative count on the small movable bits. The initiative count is just for sorting at the beginning of a fight. I push them to the left for delay and to the right for readied actions, and keep track of damage on the right side of the board using the numbers meant to track rounds for the bad guys: Bad Guy 1's damage goes to the right of round 1, etc.

I use a couple methods for keeping track of conditions: If there is one condition, or if it's fairly long I'll use a die to count down: 9 rounds of nausea? Put a D10 on 9 and decrement it each round until it drops to 0. If it's a short thing, I sometimes put a hash mark on the name tag to count it. The method isn't foolproof, it's easy to forget a count especially if there are a lot of conditions going around. Also, I track non-lethal damage by using a different color marker: Blue is my standard color, so if someone does non-lethal to an enemy I'll use red or green, then add up the total to see how much damage that enemy has taken.

When I started GMing I was really bad at reading stat blocks on the fly so I created a Google doc that formatted things in a way that was easier for me to read and copied all the stats into there while I was prepping. It had two benefits: I could find all the information I needed at a glance instead of looking for those stupid saves that always seemed to hide, and the process of copying the information over made me much more familiar with the monsters. I don't use it much now as I've gotten a lot better at reading stat blocks, but it's still useful on occasion.

Here's the template.

Here's an example of one that's filled out. ( WARNING! PFS 04-01 Rise of the Goblin Guild spoilers in that link. It's a great scenario to run, though!)

Make a new tab for each encounter of each tier, there's a separate place to track HP, and I would put the Con score by the name there to let me know when they actually die. I'd also add the important information (to me) for spells enemies might cast and information on traps in extra boxes so I didn't have to look up most things.

In our region, new players generally start out with a martial character while more experienced players are often experimenting with something wacky. Then the new players see what the old hands are doing and start trying off the wall builds themselves, so a couple old timers will start building characters to fill gaps, and so on and so forth. That means we tend to go in waves of having a lot of martials and then having almost none, and back.


Brigg wrote:

EDIT: Actually Tamec, after re-reading your idea of kicking the BBEG in, THEN throwing the bag in...I think that could work that way, too. But it would only work on bad guys medium or smaller.

Well, if the BBEG is Large or larger, would standing 5' away while doing your Hole 'o Bagiciding suck you and half of the BBEG onto the astral plane? That sounds marginally more survivable. =D


From a coordinator's perspective: Multi-parters range from nifty to nightmare.

  • Before the Dawn I and II are about as good a it gets: There isn't anything special for playing them both, and they both do a fine job as standalone scenarios.
  • Quest for Perfection is a nightmare: You've signed yourself up for a good two months of catch up games and players bugging you as soon as you run the first scenario.
  • Shades of Ice is in between: It tells a cool story, but that means you want to run them in order, but that means when you're just looking for a scenario to fill out a day, at least two of them basically aren't available.

Telling a story in more than one four hour slot is really cool, but it gives up one of PFS's biggest strengths: You're now playing something like a home game where it's important who is sitting at a certain table at a certain time, rather than just being able to walk in, sit down, and start rolling dice. The retirement arc is the ultimate example of this.

The other problem is that, as a player, they're only extra cool if you can manage to play all the parts. I played Shades of Ice II when I was passing through town once. That PC has since leveled out of the series, so now I'll never get the full experience of playing them all in order on the same character. That is a net loss, it will be a detriment to my enjoyment if I ever play the other parts because I will be thinking of might have beens.

I'd love more multi parters like Among the Living, Among the Dead and Among the Gods where each is its own self contained story but you revisit thematically similar places and people. So, I'm not a fan of them as a coordinator, and only slightly more excited about them as a player.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
eternallamppost wrote:

The question for whether or not we ban something is not "what is it adding?" The question is "What is it hurting?" and the answer here is not much.

Its a two parter. What does it add to the game VS what does it hurt.

In this case its hurting the low level play in some areas where the trend catches on. As it seems to add nothing to the game even that localized damaged to the game seems to call for a ban.

Disruptive characters are a player problem, not a mechanics problem. How many people spending two PP on combat trained tigers would not have some other disruptive character if the tiger was banned? Banning these isn't going to prevent a player from rolling up a Heaven's Oracle or 20 Str 7 Int/Cha Barbarian in response. (Dumped mental stats for troll value more than resource allocation.)

Furthermore, banning an option instead of talking to players about it directly is sort of passive aggressive and catches those players who don't abuse the options as well. I don't even want to troll, but every time something I want to use gets banned because people don't like it, I just want to go out and make a character that takes the fun out of the game for the naysayers using just CRB options.

Again, disruptive characters are a player problem, not a rules problem. Banning one option won't prevent these players from being disruptive, heck, banning everything but the CRB won't even do that.

My vote is to leave things as they are. Keep these options available.


About time! Congratulations!

Jolene wrote:

Cograts Jon!! I always enjoy playing at your table! Even when you bullrushed me off a 180ft bridge.

What do you expect from the guy who killed my first character and made Monica cry? :P


Congrats! We'll give you any help we can from North Dakota as well.


ZomB wrote:
See The 100-gold leopard problem and Battle Cattle for earlier discussions of this issue.

Oh, right, that reminds me: My next character was supposed to be an NDSU themed gnomish martial riding a battle cow. (Martial Moo-er? Lowing Lancer?) Go Bison! Wait! Woah Bison!


Congratulations and welcome aboard!


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Andrew Torgerud wrote:

@Zach - sub-optimized is not a crime. I'm sorry if the 'group two' characters who retrain would not be maximized/optimized on stats. but that does not negate they have the option to finish out the same PrC path via normal entry.

I am looking forward to high tier games with my standard path mystic theurge. I will be happy to tell you about it next February :D

Hey, I'm the last guy to call sub-optimized a crime. My first piece of advice is that if you're on par with Valeros or Ezren, you're doing fine. For the first year I ran games up here I provided the encyclopedic rules knowledge it took to put mechanics behind what my new players envisioned in their heads, to give them the PC they wanted not the PC I wanted them to play.

I don't do that anymore. The rapier wielding Paladin/Duelist or the Monk/Cleric who basically just buffs and aids his allies, the 16 Int Universalist Wizard, they're OK for a level or two but they start to get unfun when you move up to higher tier games. I've seen too many new players get frustrated, some even gave up, because their character just weren't very fun to play. It wasn't that they weren't keeping up with the 20 Str Bloodrager, it was because they were doing 1d6+3 damage against mooks that had 40 or 50 HP.

You don't have to be optimized to have fun, but there is a lower bar on effectiveness in order to have fun. (There are exceptions, but those are actually advanced topics, not something to wander into or try as a new player.)

So, if you had two or three levels on a PC that you planned to enter into a prestige class early on, it's bound to be frustrating. You weren't building an intentionally weak character. Moreover, this change is likely to feel punitive because you were intentionally building a very moderately powerful character, just to have the option banned and get stranded in something that has now gone from moderate to weak. You just went from carrying your weight to being carried. Not everyone likes to play that kind of PC, not everyone can pull it off successfully, and I'm pretty sure nobody wants to do it unintentionally as the result of someone else's decision without notice. After all, I would certainly make different choices (some of which cannot be retrained into, like race, traits and stat assignments,) if I were building for a normal entry MT than I would if I were making an early entry version.

Finally, there's been a lot of complaints over the power gamers. The type of people who are actively rude towards players who bring unoptimized PCs to the table. (It's one of the reasons people are excited for the Core Campaign, for example.) You know what just happened? The power gamers who weren't jerks; the power gamers who applied their skills to underpowered options instead of overpowered ones; the power gamers who could sit down at a table full of folks that think 20Str is a minimum for a meleer and demonstrate how non-standard, non-OP options can be both fun and successful: Those folks are the ones who just got the rug pulled out from under them. Not the jerks running off new players for making a Harsk clone.

Nobody who's building Mystic Theurge, Eldritch Knight or Arcane Trickster is in the "If it's not over powered, it's not playable" group by definition. But it's easy to come to the conclusion that they're getting treated as if they are.


Andrew Torgerud wrote:
i am just not seeing the practicality in the argument on stats... if a character was going early entry mystic theurge... why isnt its stats still fine for standard entry mystic theurge?

Play King of the Storval Stairs as a level 7 pure caster whose highest spell level is 2, casting stat is 18 after a headband, and caster level is 4. How would you feel about adding a Level 3 Wizard or a level 2 Cleric (neither of which are optimized) to your party about to go through Weapon in the Rift? How about playing The Elven Entanglement as a 7th level martial with BAB of 4 and no class features to increase attack bonuses?

That doesn't sound fun to me, either as the player of the PC or as someone else at the table. Feel free to prove me wrong, though: Play a character for the next 15 weeks and tell me how you feel about finally getting to play the class you want to play on the 16th week, with the class features of a PC who is too low level to play in tier.


Jiggy wrote:
You've actually had players tell you that there's not allowed to be obstacles extending beyond the edge of the map? I'm not sure that's even relevant to a discussion about creative solutions, in either direction.

Yes, and I've had them argue with me about my ruling.

"Creative Solution" is interpreted differently by different people. Your example seemed to miss the point of what I meant by "exploiting plot holes" rather than "creative solutions."


Jiggy wrote:
Zach Klopfleisch wrote:

I want players to be creative, I don't want them to exploit plot holes just to skip over challenges without expending effort.

On the contrary, I love it when my players do that! I had a player trying to figure out how to get his tablemate's tiger down a cliff safely, and came up with the idea of taking several feet of rope and tying a kind of harness to "attach" the cat to the main rope that everyone else was climbing down. I didn't call for any Craft skill checks, I didn't give any chance of failure, and no resources were expended; I congratulated him on the clever idea and gave the tiger access to the Climb DC for "rope against a wall", which was low enough it could make it down safely.

Personally, I'm of the firm belief that a player who has X should always have an advantage over someone who doesn't. Whether X is a spell, a class feature, or a clever idea; if it's relevant to the situation at hand, that situation should play out more favorably (and noticeably so) than it would have if they didn't have X.

By saying "I don't want them to exploit plot holes just to skip over challenges without expending effort," I don't mean disallowing them to rope up a tiger so that it can effectively make a DC 0 climb check. I probably wouldn't have them make a roll, either, since the closest rule I know of is tying up someone who is pinned, and that doesn't require a rule. (Heck, all my PCs with mounts or animal companions pack along a block and tackle for just that kind of situation.) What I mean is more like:

GM: "You are facing a canyon that's 40' wide and 50' deep, there's a tree precariously hanging over the ledge here..."
Player: "We walk around it."
GM: "Huh?"
Player: "It's only 50' long, so we walk around."
GM: "I only drew the relevant section, I didn't draw the entire undefined length of the canyon."
Player: "So, if the scenario doesn't say how long it is, it must be as long as you drew it. So we walk around."

Those types of solutions are what I consider "exploiting plot holes just to skip over challenges without expending effort." I'm not going to let players break the fourth wall or twist something I said or the scenario writer wrote into an opportunity to simply skip parts of the scenario. To me, that's different than coming up with a creative method of solving a problem.

Perhaps a better way of saying it is: Creative solutions must be something available to the PCs within the world of the game, even if specific rules for the idea aren't defined. In most cases, solutions that require the perspective of a player sitting at the table in the real world are exploitave rather than creative. (With exceptions, as always, especially when puzzles are concerned.)

Or more concisely: I don't consider metagaming to be a creative solution.


Something to keep in mind is that pregens are teaching opportunities, aside from just teaching you about the classes:

Valeros teaches you how to fight with two weapons.
Harsk teaches you how to fight with a ranged weapon.
Lini teaches you how to use an animal companion.
Seoni, Ezren, Lini and Kyra teach you how to play casters.

But in order to learn these things, new players need to be taught: The GM or an experienced player can point out things like the limitations on full attack actions with Valeros, or cover rules wit Harsk, etc. In fact, the martial pregens cover all the fighting styles. Beyond the basics, concepts like the fact that Valeros can two hand his long sword for extra damage to get through DR are important to teach. You can point out non-obvious uses of spells with the casters, to open new players' eyes to how versatile you need to be in order to use magic successfully.

The pregens aren't going to keep up with optimized builds, but they're generally good enough to succeed. (Harsk is an issue at higher levels.) But that's also a teachable moment: You can explain the different build choices that pregens made compared to optimized PCs at the table and explain why they're not as spectacular.


Jiggy wrote:

When a player encounters a situation in a scenario, and has an idea for some kind of fun, nontraditional approach that could tackle the obstacle in a unique way, it seems the GM's response is often to assign an absurdly high action/time cost, require 2-3 d20 rolls, and have the result be negligible (and then smile to themselves about how accommodating they are to creative solutions).

That's right at the top of my "List of things to work on to become a better GM."

My first response to out of the box ideas always used to be "no," because it's not spelled out in the rules or the scenario. Also, while I want players to be creative, I don't want them to exploit plot holes just to skip over challenges without expending effort.

Now I at least have them give me a roll of some sort, which largely serves to give me some time to think about how to handle the situation, and if they flub the roll they often assume they failed and move on before I say anything either way. My goal is to keep the task roughly as difficult as its written, but allow the players to make it more interesting by coming up with creative solutions. Also, if they've spent resources in equipment or build decisions, I want those to be meaningful. So, if you have ranks in Profession (Chef), you can definitely use that instead of Diplomacy to talk with a chef, and will get a circumstance bonus to boot.

An example: This weekend some players were infiltrating an Aspis controlled town and got confronted y guards. They said they'd gotten a Silver Aspis badge from another scenario and tried to use it to bluff their way out of the encounter. Rather than take the easy way out and ask to see where, on a chronicle they were allowed to buy a badge, I let them roll the bluff, decided to give them a penalty because agent or not, he's not in the guard's chain of command (the scenario states that the guards have a lucrative, long term contract and really don't want to risk it, they also have Sense Motive trained) then rolled against them. I looked at the Bluff chart and gave the PC a -10 for a far fetched lie, which took his 31 down to a 21, then proceeded to roll a 19, which gave the NPC a 21 because he had a couple ranks in Sense Motive, so he told the PC that if he was so special he could hash it out with the boss. The PC had a chance: I gave him a penalty out of the book, based on the stated motivations of the NPC. The PC would still have auto-succeeded, except for the fact that the NPC actually had the right (non class) skill trained and I rolled very well. They had a chance to bypass the encounter, which was something the scenario said they shouldn't have, but failed due to a penalty out of the book, an opposed skill check, and the fact that the opposing NPC was actually built to at least try to deal with just that situation. On the other hand, the players saw a 31 Bluff get ignored, and probably thought I was "just saying no."

Someone was telling me about some rules light game, where one of the core ideas was that "every roll counts." And that's where I'd like to be as a GM: Make every roll meaningful and impact the story in an interesting way, both the good ones and the bad ones. Not sure how to get there, though I've started giving out (generally obvious) red herrings on really bad Perception and Sense Motive checks as a start.


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GM Lamplighter wrote:

I don't think the goal should be for scenario writers to make it easy for fighters to solve puzzles. The Lore Warden archetype exists for the Pathfinder Society. Should they also adjust combats so a low-strength rogue with a dagger can defeat every enemy?

First off, Akerlof = Me, didn't mean to sock puppet myself, just forgot to change my default avatar.

The thing is, good game design allows everyone to participate as long as they don't actively choose to disable themselves, at least most of the time. That means combat challenges should be designed so that rogues can feel useful and non-combat encounters should be designed so that fighters can feel useful.

That doesn't mean that every combat encounter should make a Rogue who dumped Str as successful as a Barbarian, and not every non-combat encounter should make a Fighter with 7 int as successful as a Bard. But most encounters should be designed so that a Rogue with 14 Str can participate and a fighter with 14 Cha and a trait can as well.

The game is designed to limit the number of out of combat skills martial characters have, that's a constraint scenario writers need to work with in order to keep those players involved. After all, if I'm building a fighter with 14 Cha, I'm sacrificing a quarter of my potential combat stats in order to be well rounded enough to take part in the non-combat portion of the game. If the writers don't reward that investment, they're punishing me simply for playing a fighter and next time I won't even bother with trying to be well rounded.

John Compton wrote:

Is this to say that challenges such as those in The Blakros Matrimony and Library of the Lion, which call on all of the PCs to attempt skill checks, are well received? I ask this regarding the structure of the challenges and not quite so much the particular blend of skills involved.

I've run 4-5 tables of The Blakros Matrimony and The Merchant's Wake, and each time the players had fun with the skill mechanics. The overall mechanics and narrative of influencing people at a party multiple times were not necessarily universally enjoyed, but the mechanic of "Use diplomacy at DC A or use this other skill at DC B<A, and you get a bonus for each n you exceed the DC by" was well received.

The good things about those scenarios are:

  • Diplomacy was always useful. So, if you have limited skill resources, and pick diplomacy as the one or two skills you can heavily invest in, you got to contribute in a meaningful way.
  • Other skills provided alternative ways to get the same result as Diplomacy. One of my players went from accepting that The Merchant's Wake wasn't going to be a particularly good scenario for her PC to being a rock star when she found out she could use Profession: Pastry Chef (which her character's RP was entirely based around) to advance the group's goals.
  • Heavy investment in a skill paid off. One of my times through The Blakros Matrimony, the Dervish Dancer Bard carried the group and _almost_ singlehandedly assured the party got the maximum number of boons.
  • A modest investment in a common skill was still valuable. One of my Merchant's Wake groups succeeded in getting all the boons/influences despite not having a single "face" type character. Three or four of them had at least a couple points in Diplomacy, and through carefully applying their skills managed to successfully influence everyone they could.

The philosophy behind how skills were used in these scenarios is exactly how I think it should be done: A small number of core skills are always useful, allowing characters with limited resources to contribute. Bonuses are given to characters with very high scores in some skills, but characters with more modest scores (though not untrained) can still consistently contribute beyond assisting. A broad range of skills are available to be used in a way that is complementary or parallel to those core skills, but not instead of them.

<Implementing the philosophy in unique mechanics, narratives and situations is bound to be tough and not universally successful. But I laud the effort made so far trying to do new things and will continue supporting even the failures to encourage the risk taking necessary to develop new cool things.>

Imagine Blakros Matrimony if you took out the option to use Diplomacy, Bluff or Intimidate because those skills are over represented. How many groups would be successful? Even skill monkey PCs like Bards and Rogues would be of limited use. How would you feel if you played a Fighter or Barbarian and invested a significant portion of your available skills, along with some stats that aren't even useful to you in combat, to be a well rounded character: How would you react to the writers effectively saying "No matter how hard you try to be well rounded, we're going to write scenarios that just don't let you participate unless you pick a certain class."

The goal is not for "scenario writers to make it easy for fighters to solve puzzles." The goal is to write scenarios so that players who spend at least some effort to participate outside of combat have a chance to, regardless of their class.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Beacuse skill dcs scale by level You really cant have every skill in the game cover ed on any one character except for some pretty niche builds. This means that pfs grab bag of characters are likely to be missing some spots,so making them essential to the adventures can be kinda risky


And to extend it even more: Class design forces authors' hands. Far too many classes have 2 or 4 skill points per level, meaning PCs simply cannot be competent in a broad range of skills.

Try playing a fighter and then come back and tell me how engaging it is to have the scenario depend on half a dozen skills other than diplomacy, perception, and knowledge (Local).

If you keep the set of really important skill small, the skills that you have to succeed at in order to move the scenario forward, that allows everyone to participate most of the time. If there are only going to be 3 to 5 skills that act as gatekeepers in scenarios, even a fighter, Cleric, Sorcerer or Paladin can pick a couple up as class skills from traits, choose not to dump the relevant stat, and be able to competently assist the party while staying effective at their core job as well.

If you open up all the skills to play a major role in the scenario, and use them evenly, those PCs simply won't have any place outside of combat. Even if a fighter doesn't have any stat below 10, and spends both his traits picking up class skills, if you don't provide him chances to use those skills you're punishing him and disincentivizing the player against being well rounded. What's the point, after all, when one scenario requires a DC 20 Appraise check, the next a DC 20 Handle Animal, the next a DC 20 Knowledge (Geography), the one after that a DC 20 Linguistics, and after that a DC 20 Sleight of Hand, and so forth.

There's no way to build a character who can meaningfully participate in that environment without a lot of skill points.

If you keep the set of skills that matter, (the set of skills that move the scenario along,) small, then you open the door to every class participating in every part of the scenario. Which is a good thing.


pauljathome wrote:

Still, in the well over a dozen times I've played or run this I've never seen thus battle this close. And at least a part of that was the Core restrictions.

I'm curious: What Core restrictions caused the encounter to be lengthened? What options were passed up that would have ended it sooner, and what were taken in their place?


GM Lamplighter wrote:

Hmm... Good point, Chris. That's what I get for trying to answer off the cuff!

I do like Chris' two-line answer of, "No, you're wrong" better than multiple paragraphs beating me for making a mistake, though. Asking someone if they think they're wrong multiple time in one post, before they have a chance to answer, is prett pointless.

That's pretty much my standard way of answering a rules question: I hate unsupported yes/no responses because they just invite argument. So I always try to document why an answer is what it is and how I came to that conclusion. In this case, I spent about 15 minutes looking through the additional resources and various books before responding. After all, you might have been right and my initial reaction might have been wrong. I even included a quote that could support your reasoning.

I didn't intend to spend multiple paragraphs berating you for making a mistake, I meant to lay out the evidence so you (and anyone else who runs across this thread in the future) could come to the correct conclusion.


o0o0Squirrel0o0o wrote:

Why is it that RotR is a 1-18 lvl campaign from start to finish but only credits like 6 lvls for society play.

It makes me alittle upset to run something so wonderful and exspansive just to find out that i wasted my players time with pointless rabble.

The entire ROTRL AP is not sanctioned, just one certain section out of each book. The intention was to sanction those sections so that they could be played as standalone modules by legal PFS characters. Not to play through the AP as an entire campaign.

Receiving chronicle sheets for playing Rise of the Runelords, or any other AP, through as a campaign are just icing on the cake. It's an alternative way of getting some credit (and sort of a marketing ploy to get home game players interested in PFS) for games that take place outside the scope of PFS. After all, the PCs who play it that way aren't legal PFS characters.


GM Lamplighter wrote:

"Gods: All gods listed in the tables on pages 229, 231, and 234 are legal for play;"

Are the Four Horsemen gods? The Eldest and Empyreal lords aren't gods, either; neither are demon lords or other possible personae of worship. I think no, and so just being on those pages is trumped by the AR specifying "gods".

That's a... strange interpretation. After all, the only entries on 231 and 234 are Arch Devils, Demon Lords, Eldest, Elemental Lords, Empyrial Lords and the Horsemen. By your interpretation, none of the entries on 234 or 234 would be legal since they aren't called "gods" in the tables listed as legal. But since those are the only options on the listed pages, why were the pages listed as legal for play?

It you look a little closer, though, all of these categories fall under the heading "Outsider Demigods," explained on page 230, which says "A number of powerful, unique outsiders exist who, while not true gods, still have the capability to grant spells and are served on Golarian by cults of devoted worshippers."

Is it your assertion that, although the entries are listed as legal options, and the mechanics work the same for them as for "true gods," they aren't real options because the heading used in Additional Resources says only "Gods?"

Does the fact that the entry for Inner Sea Gods treats "daemon harbingers, great old ones, infernal dukes, malebranche, nascent demon lords, orc deities, outer gods, qlippoth lords, and whore queens" as gods who are not legal, even though they don't fit the definition of "true god? "

Which seems more reasonable: "Gods" as used in the Additional resources section implies only those defined in text not referenced by the Additional Resources as true gods. Or, "gods" as used by Additional resources references all the entries on the listed pages that give the mechanical benefits of domains, inquisitions, favored weapons, etc. even though none of the entries on those pages qualify as "true gods" based on text not covered by the Additional Resources entry.

I really don't see how there can be table variation on this.


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EricMcG wrote:

Core is optional, so I am still trying to get my head around the issue you are having.

Core creates the same set of problems as mixed high and low level characters create: It's not going to be an issue if you hit a certain threshold of players, but below that threshold you're at risk of getting stuck in a perpetual 1-2 loop.

You run into problems with a small group, say 3-4 regulars that show up every time and 6-8 people that show up, say, once a month. The regulars will relatively quickly level up to 3 or 4 or 5, but there are always a couple players showing up to round out the table but only have a 1 or a 2. So, unless you grow large enough to expand to two tables, your regulars are stuck effectively abandoning their PCs and starting over every time they level out of content.

Now, with Core, instead of 2 possibilities (high or low) you have 4: High or Low Classic and High or low Core. That means, if you're trying to run everything, the odds of having everyone at the table high enough to run something other than 1-2 are halved.

That's what people are worried about.

The key to running a successful PFS game day will be careful scheduling by the coordinators. Coordinators will need to schedule their games more carefully to ensure that people can level their characters and see higher level content. That's going to be tough, because there will be some players who don't care about higher level play, there will be some who want the simplified game Core offers, there will be some who want to continue growing their current characters.

Coordinators will be tempted to try pleasing everyone. The set of cases where that isn't possible has just increased because the set of options has increased: In order to please players who want Core games, coordinators will either need to run more games or convert some Classic games to Core. Not everyone will be able to expand the number of tables they offer, due to time, personnel, space, and any number of other constraints. Not everyone is capable of stepping up and coordinating extra games. If you offer Core games but do not expand the number of tables you schedule, you have to offer fewer Classic games.

Offering Core tables will not reduce the opportunities for Classic players everywhere. Plenty of places have plenty of resources to add some Core tables without impacting players who want to go to Classic games. Some places will have new players come in to swell the ranks, or new coordinators and GMs stepping up. That's great.

But offering Core tables without paying close attention to the effects can be detrimental in some cases. Again, the same problem that crops up with single table groups who can never get out of 1-2s will show up with small groups that try to do both Core and Classic games. What's the magic number to be big enough to support both campaigns? Nobody knows.

Core can be good for the group overall but still negatively impact individual players. Core could be a huge success, you could double the number of players and re-energize the existing player base. But if too many people switch to Core games that there aren't enough people at the right level to kick off Classic tables, there will be people left out in the dark. I'd hate to see my Harrower get stranded at 7 because everyone switched over to Core for a year, for example.

I'm sure that Core is going to be good for the campaign as a whole. But coordinators need to be careful with their scheduling, especially coordinators with smallish groups, or they might end up getting stuck in a loop where the consistent players can't advance because the inconsistent players are scattered with too many characters and too few chances to catch up in level.

Here's what I mean by "coordinators need to be careful with their scheduling." I currently schedule and GM 6 game days a month, most of them are two tables: One at 1-2 for new players and one alternating between 3-7 and 5-9 to keep experienced players advancing and sophomoric players on track to becoming experienced. I don't have the time to offer more game days, and don't currently have enough GMs to add a table without burning people out. So, if I were to start running Core games as part of my normal game days, I'd have to convert one of my Classic tables to Core. Core will only be 1-2 for a while, but I can't completely replace my 1-2 table because that would strand my newer players who are just getting a chance to advance. I can't replace the higher level table because that would end advancement for my most loyal players. So what do I do? Alternate 1-2s between Core and Classic? That doubles the amount of time a new player takes before they get a chance to play with the "big boys." Alternate Core with the higher level table? That disincentivizes people from leveling up and stretches the big goal, Eyes of the Ten, much farther into the future. Run Core in place of low one week and high the next? Then we're playing more Core than either Classic.

The best I can do as a coordinator is talk to my players, explain the options that I see, and solicit feedback. Maybe someone will step up and start running Core themselves. That would be awesome. Maybe we'll just run Core at the big once a month event our game store puts on, as an advertising thing as much as anything else. I don't know, and the attitude I'm taking into it is "First, do no harm." If I were a player, I think I would prefer for my coordinator to have that attitude than "Check out this awesome new shiny, it's gonna be awesome!!1!"


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It depends on the situation and the tactics as written. Sometimes the tactics explicitly state that a monster will pick one PC and focus on them to the exclusion of others. (This even occasionally shows up in tier 1-2.) Sometimes the most intelligent thing for an intelligent enemy to do would be to kill that downed Barbarian because the summoned monsters will only last a couple rounds and can't touch him anyway, the other PCs aren't much of a threat, and although the Cleric is out of the fight for the moment, the Bard/Ranger/Paladin/Druid/Inquisitor/Alchemist/Witch/Oracle/Investigator/Sk ald/Shaman might bring him back up. (This is within the purview of a GM judgment call. I generally wouldn't want a GM doing that at an event I organized in a 1-2 [though context matters,] but I feel it would be perfectly reasonable for a GM to do that in an 8-9.)

There is no rule preventing GMs from killing characters.

On the other hand, it's not a competition between GMs and players. Good GMs won't go out of their way to kill PCs just to ruin someone's day, and an environment where GMs do so is a lot more likely to die out.

There's no way we on the forums can tell you whether or not the GM acted inappropriately. You need to talk with your local venture officer or the coordinator of the event, they can then talk with everyone who was involved and get to the root of the situation. You can also start avoiding that GM: Tell your coordinator that you don't want to be seated at his table, and why.


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DruidBrod wrote:
Thank you very much guys. Now that we have this we just need to get our Captain registered. Here's hoping we get it off the ground before Sunday!

You don't need any official venture officers to run games, if that's what you mean. Just register an event, which is actually pretty easy:

Whomever is taking charge just needs to go to then follow the link in the gray bad up to for "My Pathfinder Society."

Assuming you have a PFS account set up (it should prompt you if you don't), you will there will be three tabs under the blurb about the Pathfinder Society: "Player," "GM/Event Coordinator," and "Sessions." Pick the GM/Event Coordinator and click the "Create Your Event" button.

This pulls up a page that looks big and intimidating, but there really isn't all that much to worry about.

1.) If this is just a few friends getting together for a home game, make sure to uncheck the "Event is Public" check box in the Restrictions section. That way it won't be advertised on the Paizo site and you won't have random people showing up.

2.) Aside from having a name, date and location, you don't really need to enter much info. It's best to be as accurate and descriptive as possible if you want to create a public event that will attract strangers, but if it's just a group of buddies, that's about all you need.

3.) Once you've entered the information that you want to, hit the "Save Changes" button and you've created your event. The event will now show up in your "GM/Event Coordinator tab of My Pathfinder Society."

4.) After the event, you'll want to report your players' participation. You need their PFS number, their character number (-1 for first character, -2 for second, etc.), their faction, how much prestige they earned, and whether or not they died. To report this information, just click on the "Report" link and fill the information in in the blanks provided. Make sure to choose the correct scenario name at the top.

4.a) Each scenario has a session sheet that you can pass around for players to fill this out (the GM fills in the prestige at the end). Or you can print those session sheets out by clicking the "Download Session Sheets" link next to the event name in "My Pathfinder Society." Or you can just have people write their info down on a piece of paper, or report it while everyone's at the table. Whatever method works for you.

5.) Finally, make sure everyone gets a chronicle sheet. There are instructions for filling those out in the Guide to Organized Play. (Pages 35-37, they have pictures!) The chronicle sheet is always on the last page of the scenario. If you're running an AP or module, the chronicle sheet can be downloaded from Additional Resources. Modules will be in the side bar on the right, Adventure Paths will be in their entry of the Additional Resources.

I wrote a lot of words here, which makes it look complicated. But that's mainly because I can't use pictures here. If I could show you my computer screen, it would take about 30 seconds to explain. It really is trivially easy to both set up and then report.


David Neilson wrote:
I would point out this level is I believe listed as "Slow Mode" recommended. It might be better just to skip it, and play the next level at full speed.

Yeah, that was the big issue for my players, too. I hadn't read the chronicle sheet before running it so I didn't push them towards the full rewards and they were all running slow mode: When they took the non-evil route it put them behind for the rest of the dungeon (since they were running everything back to back.)


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I don't think I've actually read the fluff description for any of the classes. All a class is to me is a bundle of features that define what my character can do. Therefore, I don't feel like there are any classes that don't fit in PFS: I'm as likely to come up with a Samurai concept that works perfectly with the campaign fluff as I am to come up with a Rogue, Bard or Wizard concept that wouldn't do at all.

So I have a samurai from Minkai who was sent off to join the PFS as a political move to gain the favor of Amara Li. Mechanically he's a fighter.

I have a semi con-man fortune teller who may or may not be ethnically Varisian. He joined the PFS because you'll never get rich just reading cards, he needs the connections he can get through the PFS to make it big. And knowing everything about everything is sort of his schtick, so digging through ancient ruins is interesting and profitable. Mechanically he's a Wizard/Harrower. (Sometimes he "reads" the cards, sometimes he really tells the future. Usually depending on which is more profitable in the long run.)

I have a Gnome who joined the PFS because the Silver Crusade seemed like a group that A.) Has a decent number of members, B.) Often become a captive audience, C.) Won't run him out on a rail, and D.) Really needs to hear the teachings of the Lantern King. And besides, Pathfinders get to travel! Mechanically he's a Cleric, Evangelist archetype.

Some of my character concepts start as a mechanical idea, some start as a personality idea. None of them really care about what class the book says they are, they just do what they do.


Steven Schopmeyer wrote:

I had never even heard of kuru before this scenario.

So we murderhoboed them.

I hadn't heard of it, either.

I GM'd this twice at 1-2, and neither group came within 20 feet of the surrogate to even see him until the fight was over. So negotiating was never even an option.


Snorter wrote:

Wands, he'd be fine with, but scrolls, no.
He'd still be required to pass some difficult UMD checks, to fake the requisite ability scores.

Right, but you're jumping ahead. Normally, if a spell is on your class's spell list you can activate it with at most a pretty easy caster level check. There are three criteria for that: It must be on your class's spell list, it must be the correct type (arcane or divine, PFS handwaves this requirement), and you need to have the requisite ability score.

But, since you don't meet the ability score requirement, you've got to resort to UMDing it instead of activating it normally. This isn't necessarily obvious or well known, so I thought I would point it out.

The relevant rules are in the Scroll section of the Magic Item chapter:

Activating Scrolls wrote:

Activate the Spell: Activating a scroll requires reading the spell from the scroll. The character must be able to see and read the writing on the scroll. Activating a scroll spell requires no material components or focus. (The creator of the scroll provided these when scribing the scroll.) Note that some spells are effective only when cast on an item or items. In such a case, the scroll user must provide the item when activating the spell. Activating a scroll spell is subject to disruption just as casting a normally prepared spell would be. Using a scroll is like casting a spell for purposes of arcane spell failure chance.

To have any chance of activating a scroll spell, the scroll user must meet the following requirements.

  • The spell must be of the correct type (arcane or divine). Arcane spellcasters (wizards, sorcerers, and bards) can only use scrolls containing arcane spells, and divine spellcasters (clerics, druids, paladins, and rangers) can only use scrolls containing divine spells. (The type of scroll a character creates is also determined by his class.)
  • The user must have the spell on her class list.
  • The user must have the requisite ability score.

If the user meets all the requirements noted above, and her caster level is at least equal to the spell's caster level, she can automatically activate the spell without a check. If she meets all three requirements but her own caster level is lower than the scroll spell's caster level, then she has to make a caster level check (DC = scroll's caster level + 1) to cast the spell successfully. If she fails, she must make a DC 5 Wisdom check to avoid a mishap (see Scroll Mishaps). A natural roll of 1 always fails, whatever the modifiers. Activating a scroll is a standard action (or the spell's casting time, whichever is longer) and it provokes attacks of opportunity exactly as casting a spell does.


Doors are an abstraction, the game rules treat them as either open or closed, and the rules don't care which way they swing. That makes sense from a rules-crafting perspective: If you want to model how a door acts in real life, there are a ton of variables. Your post explaining what you want to do with doors took up 440 words, which is a reasonable estimate of how many words it would take to lay out those rules. Compare that to the 725 words in the Grappling rules. 60 per cent of the word count of probably the most complex action in combat, just to describe how a door works. That's a lot of resources, where are you going to get them from? Also, where do you stop? The encumbrance rules could certainly be "improved" to better reflect real life by including the size of things being carried, but that's really complex. And movement, there's a lot that can be done for movement!

The rules are an abstraction, and meant to be a simple as possible. If you want to get more complex, that's why we have a GM. Work it out with him.


[re Readying out of combat]
That is one very frustrating rule, you cannot ready out of makes no sense.

That is a VERY good rule, for two reasons. 1.) We abstract time out of combat instead of tracking specific actions. Readying should have the restriction of limiting you to just a move action per round, but if we aren't counting actions you're getting the benefit without paying the costs, playing it out would pay those costs but slow the game to a boring morass. (Buffs last longer than they should, movement rates differ so the party should be scattered when they encounter things, etc.) 2.) Readying out of combat would lead absolute massacres in most combats: An entire party getting their standard actions in before anything else got to act, (Ready to <x> when I see an enemy) is taking the action economy advantage players have, shooting it full of speed, and then giving it a Pixie Stick. A lot of combats only last 1-2 rounds, most of those combats would be over before an enemy even acted if readying out of combat were allowed.

I don't let my PCs ready out of combat, my monsters don't do so either. (And yes, if your GM is regularly having most of his monsters do so, he's cheating.) Sometimes, though, it's written into the scenario that an enemy does such. I used to play it by the CRB, but the end result is more often than not the enemy doesn't get a chance to act. So now I'm leaning towards the theory that, when it's written into the scenario it's the writer exercising Rule 0, so I've started doing it as written. But I still follow the CRB rule if it looks like the party is having a really bad day.

(I can also see situations where you observe the enemy, they have a chance to observe you and fail, and you continue to observe until some opportune moment. I'd allow either PCs or NPCs to ready in this situation, because you're basically in combat but the bad guys don't notice you. You're effectively readying the action in the surprise round, and then continuing to ready the action through followup rounds until the ready conditions are met. The "actual" surprise round is just the nth consecutive round of combat even though the other side didn't realize it.)


John Francis wrote:

That depends on what season adventure they were playing. For an early-season scenario (prior to season 4) if the APL both with and without the additional character falls between tiers, then increasing the party size from 5 to 6 means the party will play in the high subtier if the additional level 1 character is present, but in the low subtier if that character is absent.

My mistake, I was thinking a party of 5 or 6 played up in Season 0-3, but it's 6 or 7 that plays up while a party of 5 plays down.


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Jenter, the Happy Swordsman wrote:

Here's a situation that's been in the back of my mind for a while, but now seems appropriate to the discussion:

This alias is my 3rd-level bloodrager. Sooner or later, he's going to hit 4th level, and gain some spellcasting ability. There's a good chance I'll take burning hands as a spell known, to deal with swarms and whatnot. At that point, I fully expect to encounter some disbelief from GMs when I cast it (for reasons you'll see in a minute).

Now, there's two ways the GM could handle it. Have a look:
** spoiler omitted **
** spoiler omitted **...

That would be awesome... If that were the situation I were having a problem with.

In fact, I wouldn't be having a problem if that were my situation.

Here's the problem I'm having:

Player: Yikes a swarm/troll/whatever! Okay, I cast burning hands.
GM: Wait, weren't you raging?
Player: Yeah, why?
GM: You can't cast while raging.
Player: <blinks>
GM: It should be in the Rage description of the class.
Player: Spends about a minute fiddling with a stack of books...
{alternatively, Player: Oh yeah, it totes works, something special about Bloodragers, I remember now!}
GM: For the sake of brevity, and because it appears you're the only one in the party with an AoE, and since it won't make any real difference right now, we'll just say you can and look it up after the fight. So, since you're standing in the swarm you'll need to make a concentration check, DC <x>. And then what's your save DC and damage?
Player: <blinks, if we're lucky actually starts looking at their character sheet.>
GM:Step 1, just step over here so you aren't in the swarm. Also you can aim the cone this way so you don't hit allies. The save DCs are on the upper right corner of the back of your character sheet. Remember when I explained how to fill it in?
Player: Oh, a level 1 spell is DC... 13. And Burning Hands does 1d4 per level. <rolls 4d4>
GM: Wait, aren't you only 4th level?
Player: Yeah...?
GM: So isn't your caster level is only 1st? You don't get any spells until 4th level like a Ranger or Paladin, and in those cases you don't have a caster level until you can actually cast spells.
Player: <blinks> But I'm level 4.
GM:But you just got spells this level, like a Ranger or Paladin, shouldn't your CL be Class Level -3?
Player: <blinks> But I'm level 4.
Player2: I think I heard <other player, not even here today> say something about Bloodragers casting at full level.
GM:OK, this is one we've got to look up because it will actually make a difference.
Player: Spends a minute or two finding the Bloodrager entry and passing it over to the GM.
GM:*reads* Okay, it doesn't say you're at -3 CL, {does it say anything at all about Caster Level in the entry? I honestly haven't read it.} Is that another ACG editing error? That doesn't sound right. Whatever, we'll roll with it. Now I have to go home and look up the forums to find one more ruling.

That's what I'm dealing with. Your very own example demonstrates why I'm having problems keeping up: Understanding the Core Rules of the game isn't enough anymore because some of the new things being published intentionally break them. So I can't rule based on my previous knowledge, I have to take the time to read up on the new stuff specifically. And, because there are new elements that don't follow the pattern laid down by older elements, while at the same time there are legitimate editing errors, I can't rely on my previous experience either way, I have to take the time to look it up.

And now they have 6 more classes and how many feats and spells coming out?


OK, here's what I got:

1.) The whole question of "home" or "private" verses "public" PFS games is, as far as I understand, determined mainly by whether or not you check the "Event is Public" box when you're creating it. You can run a private PFS game at a game store, even at a con, no problems. (Though if you're running it a public location and advertising it openly, you're really are running a public game and should follow those rules.)

This is mostly important for event coordinators, not so much individual GMs who are just showing up and running games.

So, and I could be wrong on this, but I don't know of any PFS-specific rule that says a GM cannot grab 5 players and put together his own "private" PFS session at the same time and location as a public game day. The location and/or coordinator setting up the game day might have issues with that, but you're not going to get your PFS license taken away, as far as I know.

2.) In this case, I think that is not the right course of action.

I don't know the whole story, only a paragraph or so from the OP, so I really cannot say what I would do in his situation. But here are some things that I would be asking myself:

--You are within your rights to remove (or ask the event coordinator to remove) a disruptive player from the table. Anyone whose mere presence has instigated five players to choose to not play sounds pretty disruptive. I don't know the person involved, but I can certainly see some people I know playing such a character to intentionally be disruptive. So that option is open to you. It's more confrontational, but sometimes you need to step up and confront bad behavior, no matter how much you dislike confrontation. (Speaking from experience here.)

--A level 1 character at a 6 player table will not mathematically increase the danger level for the other players. He cannot bump them up to a higher tier than they would play if he weren't at the table. That being the case, if I didn't think the guy was trying to be a jerk, I would consider telling the other players to suck it up and just play the game. (Though he might be able to bump them down to a lower tier, which might qualify for the "don't be a jerk" rule.)

--I do not like playing with people aggressively RPing low Int PCs. It's a pet peeve. If I were set at a table with this person at one of the very few games I get to actually play in, it would very likely be a very negative experience for me. Even if the other player is a nice guy, his character is almost certain to be detrimental to my enjoyment. I empathise with the players who don't want to play with him.

--Talk to the event coordinator. Bring the player along and lay out your observations. Handling personality conflicts is part of the job you take on when you schedule that event. But, even if the event coordinator doesn't make the call, it can help to hash it out with a (hopefully) neutral third party as a referee. If you are the event coordinator, you've taken the responsibility to make those calls on yourself (unless you can find someone else to pawn it off onto, like a venture officer) and you're going to have to make the tough decision of telling someone to either suck it up and be a team player or go home. Just try to do so in nicer words than that. =)

Those are the big things that I think of from what I know of this situation. I don't know if any of it is applicable to the OP, but he does have options.


Kadasbrass Loreweaver wrote:

This falls under dysfunctional play that could be viewed as trying to hinder the party intentionally. I'm all in favor of role play, not every character needs to be useful in combat. Heck specialize in enchantment or divination for crying out load if you want to avoid combat use.

The Enchantment spec does give social skill bonus, combined with the skill points of a wizard with decent int, grab some traits to get 2 social skills as class skills, and heck since he wants to make an unoptimized character, make Charisma 12 or 14 for those social skills. And there he has achieved his goal and still functions usefully in game and very useful in those roleplay situations.

>.> ... <.< ... >.> ... ^.^;;

My Harrower has 5 levels of Divination Wizard, Cha 14, Bluff and Sense Motive 12 (8 Diplomacy, can only max out so many skills) at 6th level... And +13 initiative, no save lower than 5 (+11 verses Charms and Compulsions), 22 Int, casts all the same spells at +/- 1 DC as the God Wizard in the guide. He's a monster in combat, and is still "unoptimized" by what you're suggesting. I must be doing something wrong. =P

Wizards need so little for optimization that you have no excuse to not make him competent. Really, all you need is a decent (16-18+) Int and the rest is your playground.


John Compton wrote:
Zach Klopfleisch wrote:
[Story time]
** spoiler omitted **

Yeah, Ezren's player's idea was brilliant, nobody else saw it coming.

Offtopic: Healing Judgment:

While the Judgment ability itself says "If she is frightened, panicked, paralyzed, stunned, unconscious, or otherwise prevented from participating in the combat, the ability does not end, but the bonuses do not resume until she can participate in the combat again."

The wording of the Healing Judgment seems to make it an exception:


Healing: The inquisitor is surrounded by a healing light, gaining fast healing 1. This causes the inquisitor to heal 1 point of damage each round as long as the inquisitor is alive and the judgment lasts. The amount of healing increases by 1 point for every three inquisitor levels she possesses.

The way I read it, Healing Judgment specifically overrules the general rule. The Judgment has not ended, per the general judgment rules. Normally the bonus would go on hiatus but the specific line "as long as the Inquisitor is alive and the judgment lasts" takes precedence.

So, we've got two conditions:

--Character is alive. Check, this is fast healing not regeneration.
--Judgment has not ended. Check, the general rule says judgments don't end until combat is over even if they do go on hiatus.

Therefore, I think the Healing Judgment continues while the Inquisitor is unconscious. Of course, you're in a better position to verify that's what was meant than I. :P However, if that's the case, they might want to simply remove the "as long as the Inquisitor is alive" line because it doesn't do anything.


Benjamin Falk wrote:

You know what i do when i have new players that have no clue?

I recommend them to play an easy class in the beginning, and if it´s only for the first 3 sessions, so they can get a grasp on the rules.
If this is going good and they want to play a different class, i take some time outside the game and look at it with them.
Should i feel they can´t handle it or will never spend the time to get familiar with the rules, i ask them straight to play something easier.
Most do.

There is the "own what you play" rule for a reason.
You can totally expect even new players to get familiar with their character and class and abilities. That´s only a few pages to read.

I do that, oh boy do I do all of that.

Did you miss the part in my earlier post about players with fifth level characters are still asking how many hit points and skill points they get when they level up?

The thing is, there are players who just don't get it. I enforce the rules about owning their own books. But the newer books are less clear and less well understood. When a player who doesn't get it asks a question about something vague in the Inquisitor rules, someone's bound to have run across it before. However, if someone asks about Rovagug's obedience, or Pummeling Charge, that's new and we've got to read it and figure it out from scratch. That's disruptive, takes time, and lets some of the more assertive players take advantage of GMs to the detriment of the rest of the table's enjoyment. I don't just have to deal with answering these payers' questions, I get to deal with other players requesting to play at other tables. Or just leaving. It's much easier to keep the experience enjoyable for everyone and minimize the pain when I can focus on managing the table and telling the story instead of constantly being distracted by rules I've never heard of.

The fact that we've got books coming out with these new rules so fast is making it hard to keep up. That, in turn, makes it hard to deal with players who "don't get it" but buy them and want to play with the shiny new toys.


I enjoyed prepping the scenario, it was simpler than a lot of the Season 5 stuff, but still had cool, new lore that I was able to get across to my players. It was a dungeon crawl, but had a really "explorey" feel to it. I handed out paper and stressed bringing a record back, and Valeros's player immediately started mapping the dungeon out when he saw it. The party met every single one of the conditions for the second prestige point and boon.

All told, the players had an edge of their seat experience. The fights were tough, and things got out of hand with just a couple bad rolls on the players' part. I thought for sure it would be a TPK a couple times, but the dice aligned properly to avoid that. I think the fights were balanced really well for that party, which was pretty close to an iconic party in strength and composition.

Well done.

My experience with it:

Ran it Saturday morning, unfortunately I completely forgot to play up the alien geometry but the tension ended up high enough anyway.

4 players: An Inquisitor, Ezren clone with 2XP, Investigator who took the archetype that traded out extracts, and a first timer playing Valeros. Only the Inquisitor could use a wand of CLW.

Ezren memorized Color Spray instead of Magic Missile and ended up taking out all but one of the Barbarians in the first fight. The Party coup de graced them all, but not after one dropped the Investigator to 0.

The Investigator proceeded to be KO'd by the first trap and trigger the second one, ending up sickened after 3 rounds of gnoshing on the corpse.

Then, they got to the water and while the Investigator was wondering what horrible fate would befall him next, Ezren (who happened to be played by a 12 year old) offers "Why don't we just unfold the boat." That idea never crossed my mind, and I figured that qualified as "creatively bypassing" the encounter. I did give the Investigator a nice, close look at the slug as it tried to latch onto the boat.

The Polyp and Ghouls/Festrogs was rough on them. They didn't take advantage of the surprise round or the territory, moving in slowly and getting split up. The Inquisitor charged on the round they were staggered while Valeros waited for them to come to him. Both ended up getting full attacked and eventually going down. Ezren ended up in a corner, with a Festrog (at 3hp) 10' away and a Ghoul (at 2hp) adjacent. He cast burning hands, accepting the AoO from the Ghoul who promptly missed on what was probably my first sub 10 roll of the day, and chose the far corner of his square, catching himself and both undead in the AoE. My dice completed the process of reverting to the mean and both failed their saves, taking 3hp damage and going down.

The score is now Ezren 3, Investigator -2, Valeros and the only character capable of using a CLW wand unconscious but stable.

So, the two characters who are vertical begin digging while I look up the rules for Heal and Recovering With Help. Two hours later Valeros is conscious at -2 and the Inquisitor comes around, lucks out and heals himself for 6 hp so he doesn't drop back unconscious.

At this point they decide to check out the other room. Nobody ever gets really curious about the Polyp.

Valeros goes in alone, trying to bluff the Ancient One about giving himself up and failing miserably. No surprise round, everyone knew what was going to happen, but Valeros gets paralyzed. The Inquisitor moved in to help him, gets knocked to half HP. His next round, he judges Justice. I ask him if that's what he really wants to do. He tentatively says "Destruction?" I ask him how many HP he has and the rest of the table reminds him of the fact that Healing explicitly doesn't stop when you go unconscious. He goes with healing and proceeds to hit the Festrog. I smile and then knock him down to -2. Then proceed to move on and KO Ezren and the Investigator (who was the only one to fail his save vs. the stench. But hey, he still had 3 hours of sickened left anyway, so no biggie.)

The Inquisitor heals to 0, I let him Bluff to play dead and pop himself with a wand of CLW and completely low my perception checks. The Festrog heads back to finish off Valeros first and draws and AoO (legitimate non-metagemey: The mini was down so I didn't think anything of walking right past it.) One natural 20 later and it's just a Ghast and a prone Inquisitor. The Ghast moves over and bites the Inquisitor into the negatives, but that gives Valeros just enouh time to come out of paralysis. He moves up and gets one swing in, and misses. I full attack and only hit with 1, failing to paralyze. He proceeds to full attack and crit but not confirm, dealing almost max damage and exactly enough to knock the Ghast down to 0.

This was the only fight that Ezren didn't finish off.

Once everyone came back around and healed up, Valeros and the Inquisitor spend the next four hours digging. The Inquisitor was a Dwarf with Profession (Stone Mason), which I figure was close enough to Profession (Miner), and he had Stonecunning anyway. He blew away the check to make the saves easier and the mining quiet. The last fight was anticlimactic, save for Ezren walking up and applying his stick to the Ghoul's head after the martials whiffed a couple rounds in a row, ending it.


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Jiggy wrote:

I'm not saying we should treat players like they're perfect; I'm saying we should treat players like they're on the same tier as GMs.

Players come from the same pool of human beings as GMs. Players' experience levels can range from "newbie" to "been doing this for 40 years", just like GMs. Players' IQs and rules-fu run the exact same ranges as that of GMs. Players have the same variety of motives, expectations, preferences and playstyles as GMs.

Neither pool is more or less deserving of "innocent until proven guilty" treatment than the other; all I'm advocating is acting on that reality.

You seem to be under the misconception that I'm arguing some theoretical point.

I'm not. I'm expressing the frustration and explaining the real problems I'm running into with the real people I really GM for.

I spend a ton of my own time helping my players out. I go to the game store on off days to help them create characters. I field questions from GMs at all hours to help them prep scenarios. I get pulled away from the table I'm currently running to answer rules questions and when a PC dies I'm called in to make sure everything was kosher. I listen to their gripes about other players and how they spoil the fun by exploiting or appearing to exploit the rules, and watch some of the people I enjoy playing with the most walk away because that makes the game un-fun for them.

And I'm having trouble keeping up with the rules expansions to answer their questions.

This is causing troubles for me and for my players. Real, actual, non-theoretical problems. It's bogging down games while people argue over rulings. It's making it harder for me and my GMs to manage tables and try to make sure everyone is included. It's making GMing less fun and more of a chore.

Jiggy wrote:

There's some misinformation here:

First, the Strategy Guide contains nothing new at all. It's more like "here's how to use the CRB".
Second, Unchained is mostly a bunch of houserule suggestions; not likely to be an issue for PFS.
That leaves ISG, ACG, and OA. I don't remember when the ISG came out, but come on, the ACG and OA are exactly a year apart, which is what you said yourself was fine.

You're welcome to your opinions, but when it comes to actual facts, let's at least be honest, okay?

That's a very confident statement. Look at the Additional Resources entry for the Monster Codex, there's actually a pretty good amount of material being added for what I expected to be a GM resource like the NPC Codex or GMG.

I have absolutely no idea what will be in the Strategy Guide or Unchained. (That's actually part of the problem, there's so much new stuff in the pipeline I can't keep track of it.) But I seriously doubt that there won't be anything new from either of them. I'm still fielding regular questions about retraining from Ultimate Campaign, after all.

Regardless of what actually gets included from either of those resources, the perception is that there's still a lot more coming down the road. And even if neither of them have anything new, releasing OA a year after ACG is really pushing the ability for the community up here to build up the institutional knowledge to help players with it before they've gotten an entirely new set of mechanics thrown at them.

On top of that, it seems that there are a lot more gray areas that require interpretation or judgment calls in the ACG than in previous books. That might be my inexperience talking since I wasn't playing when APG came out. But it's certainly requiring more work from my GMs and me right now.

I love the ACG, I think Paizo is going in the right direction with the new classes. I know a lot of people have wanted to get psionics classes so the OA is a big deal. But they seem too close together, especially with the big releases around and between them. ISG was the release before ACG, so it was out roughly 3 months before ACG and we're still finding stuff in it. (Checked Amazon, ISG was May, ACG was September. So about 4 months.)


Read pages 11 and 12 of the Guide to organized play, especially this part:

Guide to Organized Play wrote:

The Society recognizes no formal bylaws, but adherence to a general code of behavior is expected of all members, and reports of activity
violating this code are grounds for removal from the organization. The three most important member duties are as follows

Explore: Pathfinders are expected to further the knowledge and reputation of the Society by traveling to distant lands, unearthing forbidden secrets, and piecing together the secret history of the world. Agents are encouraged to travel uncharted lands in search of evermore fantastic mysteries.

Report: In the course of their adventures, Pathfinders are expected to keep detailed journals, maps, and accounts of their exploits. At the conclusion of a successful mission, the agent sends a copy of his notes to his immediate superior, a regional venture-captain, who makes a full analysis (often involving divination). Accounts of especially noteworthy exploits make their way to Absalom and the Decemvirate, who compile the best tales into irregularly published editions of the Pathfinder Chronicles, which make their way back to venture captains for distribution to Pathfinder agents in the field.

Cooperate: The Society places no moral obligations upon its members, so agents span all races, creeds, and motivations. At any given time, a Pathfinder lodge might house a fiend-summoning Chelaxian, a Silver Crusade paladin, an antiquities-obsessed Osirian necromancer,
and a friendly Taldan raconteur. Pathfinder agents, no matter which of the eight factions they belong to, are expected to respect one another’s claims and stay out of each other’s affairs unless offering a helping hand.

Have a reason why your Paladin would join an organization like this, and how it fits into your code and deity's plan for you. If you can explain why your Paladin would join the Pathfinder Society, it will be a lot easier to figure out why he will put with the characters and jobs he has to deal with in this specific scenario. That will also help you avoid trapping yourself with a too strict archetype, personality or deity.

I'd also suggest picking up, borrowing, or even just visiting and checking out Faiths of Purity for the different good aligned deities' Paladin codes. Some are pretty surprising for how non-goody two shoes they can be. A Paladin of Torag, for example, would have a problem with taking prisoners in some instances, rather than killing them. A Paladin of Shelyn, on the other hand, is much more pacifistic. Both could fit into PFS just fine, but they would do so in different ways and justify their actions very differently.


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Jiggy wrote:

You say that trusting your players is not the issue. But if you're not willing to let THEM tell YOU how something works, if you're not comfortable with character options unless you know them well enough yourself that you'll be able to spot any errors, then you do not trust your players.

Trust does not just mean "I don't suspect malice". It means "I think you can handle this." If you don't think they can handle it, then by definition you do not trust them. Whether it's a GM and his players, a parent and their child that's just learned to drive, or any other situation of risk or vulnerability you can think of; if you're not willing to put them in control of the thing in question (in this case, their own PCs' mechanics), then no, you DON'T trust them.

Here's the thing: I have players with 5th level characters who ask how many hit points and skill points they get when they level up. I have players who don't know you can't take a move action and use two weapon fighting in the same round, and don't understand that you have to apply the TWF penalties when they do make multiple attacks in a round. I explain the why behind the what each time, but they don't pick up on it for whatever reason.

(Some are deliberately obtuse in an attempt to hog the spotlight. If I don't understand the rules they're abusing, how am I going to ensure that other players get their chance? If you don't manage the game to ensure everyone gets a chance and everyone has fun, you lose players.)

It takes work to teach these players the game. But I also have other players at the table who can explain the basics while I move the game along. The Base classes have been around long enough that somebody is at least passingly familiar with just about anything someone shows up with, so I've got that going for me.

And then they bring a Brawler to the next session. Or an Arcanist or Shaman. And they have no idea how to play it and ask me or the other GMs and players. What do I do with that?

These players aren't telling me how their characters work, certainly not in any coherent way, they're asking their GMs how they work.

If the ACG were a one off thing, that would be fine. We'd assimilate the information in it and a year from now there'd be someone at the table who would be able to explain how Arcanists cast while the GM walks a new person through their turn. But the ACG is just in the middle of a bunch of books that have a lot more options, and it looks like we're going to be getting another half dozen new classes while we're still assimilating the ACG classes.

When I started, Paizo was publishing small books monthly that might have a single feat or spell or archetype that one person might use. The changes were small and easy to handle. Hardcovers that made big additions came out slowly (that was actually a selling point when I started: You didn't have the rules bloat from monthly hardcover releases like 3.5). There was, what, a year after Ultimate Equipment came out before there was another hardcover with player options? That's manageable. Inner Sea Gods, Advanced Class Guide, Strategy Guide, Unchained, Occult Adventures: That's drinking from a fire hose.

On top of it all, and it's especially noticeable with the Advanced Class Guide, there are a lot more rules that aren't clearly spelled out in the books. I'm getting more questions about how things work, I'm needing to make more rulings on gray areas than I do with things out of the APG or Core Rulebook, and there's no FAQ support on these new resources to base those rulings on.

You don't show your trust in a 16 year old by throwing car keys at them out of the blue, you teach them first and assess their skills before letting them behind the wheel alone. Big changes are coming out so fast right now that I cannot keep up in order to teach my players who really need the help, and expect _someone_ to be able to help them.


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Back on a topic at least in sight of the OP:

I haven't had a chance to look over the new playtest document. Is there anything really weird about the new classes? Any completely new mechanics I should know about?

They all seems to be casters of some type, and though it's psionic or occult or whatever, I'm guessing it's still more or less magic: Casting time, V, S, and or M component, hits one of the saves, etc?

This "Burn" thing with Kineticists? It's sort of like a penalty you take after using abilities? Other new stuff like that to be aware of?

Is there anything really funky like forcing me to reverse initiative order as a free action that can be taken on anyone's turn, inverts lighting conditions whenever someone at the table sneezes, accidentally summons Groetus whenever anyone rolls a 1 (roll % dice to see who's side Groetus is on, each round)? Or something unbelievably wild and crazy like causing reach weapons to threaten on the second diagonal and everyone to agree on mounted combat rules?


Derek Weil wrote:

If you do mount your banner to a longspear or lance, how do you justify swinging it around at enemies? What if you stabbed too hard and the flag itself entered the wound?

Just thinking about flavor on that last item. I don't want to take an option that isn't at least somewhat logically consistent.

I'm not sure about the rules offhand, but as for the flavor: If it's good enough for the Bayeux Tapestry, it's good enough for me.

Of course, they didn't charge with couched lances in 1066. (That didn't really become a thing until they learned about stirrups from the Huns or someone.) The Maciejowski Bible is from 1240, when they definitely _did_ charge with couched lances. (See! Stirrups! Pennons are in the upper left corner, kinda cut off in that picture.) But I'm not certain if those lances are meant for combat or for parade.

I have no idea what the provenance of this page or image are, but it looks like it's more or less in period, and those are definitely pennons. On lances. In combat.

So, I wouldn't let a pennon on my character's lance kick me out of my suspension of disbelief while he's charging a flying dragon on a dinosaur using a lance that smites evil enemies with holy magic and has a tip made of metal that cuts steel like butter. Oh, and he's singing a song that makes all his friends better fighters while he's at it. Pennon? No problem.

(If you're worried about overpenetration, just say it has lugs to prevent that. The lugs may or may not have been for that, and they weren't used on lances that were used by heavy cavalry making charges anyway, but hey, we're playing a game not publishing a peer reviewed paper here!)


The problem with the Rogue, I think, is the intersection between design and practicality: Rogues are 3/4 BAB, meaning they're a support class*. But their support/non-combat schtick is skills, and skills just don't have the impact that the designers back in the 3.0/3.5 days expected.

And it's not just that they're behind on attack scores: 3/4 BAB slows down their iteratives, slows down Power Attack progression, and puts them 2 levels behind full BAB on the key combat feats which require BAB 1. Combat Trick catches them up on the feats, but they're still behind on the other progressions. The fact that they have no innate class abilities to improve their attack bonuses is what really makes them bad at landing hits.

I think the Slayer and Investigator are intentional fixes to this: The Slayer takes over the combat side and the Investigator takes over the non-combat side, each doing their schtick without reservation because they're focused on it.


Rogue design theorizing:

You basically have 3 groups of classes:

Full BAB = Good at doing damage, meh at doing "other stuff."
3/4 BAB = "About" half as good at doing damage, decent at doing "other stuff."
1/2 BAB = Meh at doing damage, good at doing "other stuff."

So, the full BAB characters simply don't do much out of combat, and most of what they do in combat is HP damage.

1/2 BAB characters suck at doing damage in combat (10d6 Fireball vs CR 10 Couatl with 126hp in Pathfinder compared to a 10d6 Fireball vs 9 hit die Couatl averaging 41hp (max 72) in 1st Edition.) But they're amazing at doing "other things" both in and out of combat.

The 3/4 BAB characters were, I think, meant as support characters for both sides of the specialists: They can do "other things" to either fill in for the 1/2 BAB characters (both in and out of combat), but they don't do them as well even if they specialize. They do about half the damage as full BAB characters, and can improve on that if they specialize, but even specialized they don't do as well as full BAB characters.

The problem for the Rogue is that their "other things" are skills. For the most part, skills just don't have the legs to stay tremendously useful throughout all levels. At the same time, those skills that do stay useful throughout all levels: Social and knowledge skills mainly, are done as well or better by other classes. Cha and Int based casters do their respective skills better than Rogues due to synergy with their stats, and Rogues simply have more skill points, they don't have anything to actually allow them to do any better than any other character with the same stats in a class skill. (Aside from finding and removing traps. But traps have become downright rare and mostly minor.)

So, Rogues' utility at "other things" is minimal, but they're still stuck with the support character baggage when it comes to doing damage. They probably should have been rolled in with Fighters. But this is D&D, and where there's D&D there are Rogues. So failing that, they should have been given extra power for their skills, something like giving them Su or Sp abilities when they put a certain number of ranks into a class skill, roughly equivalent to a Bard spell of the level they would be able to cast at that level. I.e, putting 4 ranks into Diplomacy would give the rogue a SLA roughly equivalent to a 2nd level Bard spell, 7 ranks would increase that to roughly the equivalent of a 3rd level Bard spell, etc. (Of course, the word count on that would be horriffic.)

Monks don't really fit into the BAB paradigm directly: They're specialists, but neither in doing damage or doing "other stuff" the way Wizards and Sorcerers do. I think they probably fit into the full BAB space, but instead of doing tons of damage they're focused on having great defenses or being great at combat maneuvers. Unfortunately, while defense wins championships in the real world, it's not so hot in D&D.

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