Zaranorth's page

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So, a sail's been spotted, but how far away is the ship?
Can you see the whole ship or is it still hull down with just the sails showing?
What about that island the treasure map is pointing to?

Does it really matter? ;)

If it does, then I hope this spreadsheet will turn out helpful.

I've done it a bit hurriedly during boring parts of training, so it's a bit rough.

It does both simple and "complex" calculations for spotting land and ships. I've assumed Golarion has the same radius as Earth. I also assume the weather's fine and the lookout is eagle-eyed and sober.

An example: assuming a ship with a deck 10 feet above sea level and a lookout at the crosstrees 70 feet up. The ship is heading towards the White Cliffs of Dover (UK, not Golarion), they reach upwards of 350 feet above sea level.

That means that the lookout will be able to spot them at just over 33 miles. People on deck have an effective horizon of just under 4 miles. But since the cliffs are 350 feet tall, they'll be able to spot them when the ship gets to just under 27 miles.

They happen to be attempting to run the English Blockade. Unbeknownst to them, a British frigate is ahead. It's under full sail; it has somewhere to go, but won't mind turning to snatch up a blockade runner. Assuming the top of the frigate's sails are 120 feet above sea level, our blockade runner's lookout can spot the sails 23 miles out and it'll be hull up at 10 miles (the lookout's horizon).

If our lookout is hungover and is not paying attention, then the officer of the watch could spot the sails 17 miles out and it'd be hull up at under 4 miles.

Now the island. You might think you could spot it's location first from the vegetation or mountain peak (if it was a volcanic island). But no, you'd get a much earlier indication because of clouds that form above islands. An astute sailor could determine that there's something "thataway" due to a cloud bank on the horizon in an otherwise clear sky. So the ship might be able to spot it over 100 miles away.

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There's flogging around the fleet where the convicted would be sentenced to hundreds of lashes, split up among the ships. A surgeon would travel with him and determine when the flogging needed to stop for the day. Such a punishment could take weeks to be completed.

Now bring in magic. A particularly cruel captain with access to a cleric, or other means of healing, could flog a crewman to, or near, unconsciousness, have the cleric heal him, and continue.

Especially cruel if the cleric and transgressor are PCs. The cleric could be under threat of the same, or double, if she doesn't perform the duties. An excellent way to make the PCs despise Plugg.

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Yeah, I'm working out how to balance out not playing every. single. day. yet give the players time to get to know the crew and to get the politics worked out. It's the latter that'll force the time to stretch out some, but if it's interspersed with some additional encounters, I think it'll work out pretty good.

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I'm with Sean. There's what? 21 base classes now? That's a lot of space required for a paragraph each. Then add in archetypes and bloodlines that can seriously change a class and it gets pretty boggling.

I'd rather the space be taken up with new rules like this, and not in the module. Since it's for the players, they can easily access it, and it doesn't take away precious real estate from the module itself.

I get that new/casual GMs/players might find it helpful, but ... well, is a paragraph really going to be all that helpful beyond: fighters hit things, clerics heal/turn things, wizards blow things up, sorcerers blow things up, alchemists ... uh ... blow things up, gunslingers blow themselves up*, etc. Even my newest player who'd never seen a dice other than a d6 didn't bother reading the class section of the Player's Guide. But then YMMV.

*As one of my players has discovered, if your d20 has nineteen 1s on it, do not play a gunslinger.

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Zaranorth wrote:
Spiral_Ninja wrote:
SnowHeart wrote:
@ Spiral Ninja -- The primary stats do not increase aside from feats that you take. I think James or one of the Devs said there may be points in the AP where the party is awarded some points to spend, but I can't recall the specifics at the moment.
Thanks, SnowHeart.
Spiral_Ninja: I'll get the doc up on google docs here soon. The numbers I used are total WAGs so it requires some salt to go with it. :)

OK, finally got it up on Google Docs. Here's the link. Unfortunately, due to a sickness in the group, there was no chance to test it in action. As I mentioned, it's a total WAG on a lot of the numbers with no real testing (myself or playtesting with the group), so change as you see fit. As it is, trading isn't going to be much of a concern anyways. I think Sandpoint to Brinewall has the most trading opportunities run in the first 3 modules. (Although I'm curious about what's in the 1100+ miles between NoFS and THS.) My players realize the "mobile village" aspect of it and are accepting of the fact that they're going to have to likely bankroll it out of their own pockets.

As it is, I'm more concerned/focused on the damage output of the caravan. BFMnp2SU9oQkE

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Ok, first impressions about the caravan from my group. Overall they liked it. In a 3-hour session we made it from Sandpoint to Ravenmoor - 230 miles give or take. I'd printed out a map of Varisia for everyone, so they were able to follow where they were going. That coupled with me having grabbed some historic weather data from Weather Underground and pulling descriptions of the local geography from Pathfinderwiki really helped to give it a sense of travel. I also apparently grabbed a timeframe from WU that was in a cold snap as they were snowed on once already which led to some grumblings. :)

I had modified the caravan speed to be base 16, they'd upped it to 24 (enhanced undercarriage - that was a pretty penny for them). This led to 9 days of travel plus a 2-day layover in Galduria. I think the slower pace also helped to impress the size of the journey they're going to face.

We had two combats, goblin raiders the second day out and bandits between Galduria and Wolf's Ear. Combat was a bit tough to handle for us. We like entertaining descriptions of what's happening and the caravan combat system made that kinda tough to do. Also, it felt very much like a single player's solo combat since there was only one person rolling. (Each combat only lasted two rounds so there wasn't time to pass the caravan sheet and let everyone participate.) In other words, it was a bit too abstract.

So, we worked out an alternative system. Each PC filling a Hero roll (all of them basically) gets to make a caravan attack with a damage die of 1d4. If the PC is in a role that could preclude them from fighting, such as driving or out scouting and thus not with the caravan, they don't get to attack. Once it's determined how many PCs hit, they each roll their damage die, and the results are totaled. The caravan level plus any other modifiers (first strike, reckless tactics, etc.) is added to this total and that's the damage done.

Basically, each PC is in charge of a "unit" of the caravan's forces. Since we have 3 PCs at level 3, that puts the caravan damage at a max of 3d4+3, or an average of 10. This is higher than the RAW 1d6+3 (6 average), but after looking at The Hungry Storm, they're going to need all the damage output they can get. :) Also, 3d4 assumes all 3 hit; since they're rolling separately, that won't always be the case. Natural 20s will let the player roll 2d4. I haven't yet worked out how to incorporate the Increased Damage feat.

If my other two players make it back while we're still doing caravan encounters, I'll probably knock the damage die down to 1d3s.

Nobody liked the idea of the limit of a single unit of trade goods per settlement per trader. So I kicked the numbers around some and WAGed out a table of varying types of trade goods.

I came up with different types of trade goods, denoted by their base worth: 10, 20, 50, 100, 250, 500. I then threw together a chart of the various settlement sizes and came up with a max number of trade goods that each could be expected to have. For example, hamlets only have 1 unit of 10gp trade goods, while small towns have 9 units of 10 gp, 6 units of 20 gp, and 3 units of 50 gp available for purchase (it also serves as the max units sellable). I then changed the trader rules so that they roll against a DC that, if they roll good, allows them to buy low and sell high. If they want to do more than 1 transaction per day for a trader, they state so before any rolling. It's then a -2 penalty for each additional transaction they want to do that day as the trader is being rushed and doesn't have time to haggle like he should.

My description sadly makes it look far more complex than it actually is. It's two rolls per trader (if they don't opt for additional transactions) and a fast table lookup for each roll, so it didn't really slow gameplay down much. The players happily traded a little bit of slowdown for something with a bit more meat to it.

The caravan is still primarily a "mobile village" but now it feels more ... real to the PCs.

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Jason Nelson wrote:
Long story short: You might remind your PCs from time to time that they have options other than ALL-OUT ATTACK. :)

Just remember to award them XP even if they do run. Nothing like fleeing from something that they know will kill them, only to be told they don't get any experience from it. That'll lead to the players choosing to take on horribly out-matched fights that the characters would never choose because they meta-game know that that's the only way to get XP. (Thankfully we broke the only DM in our group that had that attitude of it early on. There's little more aggravating than being "punished" for doing something wise in-character.)

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SnowHeart wrote:
PhineasGage wrote:
... After purusing through "The Hungry Storm" ...
Wait... what!? (Still doesn't have his .pdf download link... sigh)

Yeah, my reaction too. Same thing happened with Night of Frozen Shadows, a week after the first person posted about reading it I was still showing "pending." And then the transaction disappeared from my bank's website about the same time that the bank screwed up a deposit making me worried that the transaction got bounced.

By the way, I like your Ember Lake and Wolf's Ear additions. I've been working on some similar encounters too. A goblin "tollbooth" in the Fogscar Mountains - 1 or 2 units of cargo as a toll will mollify them and prevent combat. And since trade goods are cheaper than repair materials, they'd be advised to do it, even giving up 2 units of trade goods still comes out cheaper than a unit of repair materials.

I'm also toying with the idea of Sandru and Ameiko stopping the caravan as it's crossing the southern Fogscar. They'll leave the caravan for about an hour and then come back looking like they've been grieving. If one or more of the PCs accompany them, they'll find out that the two are going to a shrine they'd set up for Alder. Since one of the PCs is really starting to have hard feelings towards Sandru, views him as a challenger for Ameiko's affection, this would be a great opportunity for character and NPC development.

I'd also halfway thought about having them encounter the "degenerate family of backwoods cannibals" and let Ameiko and Sandru get their vengeance with the aid of the PCs. But I don't want to sidetrack the adventure too much.

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Last night we, finally, finished up part 1 of the Brinewall Legacy. Then came 2 hours of caravan building. Interestingly enough, the players enjoyed it as much as if they'd been playing during that time. They enjoyed tweaking the caravan, even if the math was sending my wife into a tailspin as she got saddled with filling out the sheet.

However, filling out a "caravan character sheet" did what James has stated his hopes were: the caravan has come alive for them and they haven't even departed Sandpoint.

It took a couple hours because while they knew a caravan was coming up and that they'd have a lot of control over it, I had asked that they avoid the player's guide until I gave the all-clear (basically until part 1 of Brinewall Legacy was done). It's due to how we started the AP; after an aborted start at Rise of the Runelords, they were already integrated into Sandpoint. I wanted to give away as little as possible and the player's guide, in our case, was fairly full of spoilers, not they didn't guess what was going to happen, but they couldn't be 100% sure their guess was right.

Anyways, they enjoyed making the caravan and after some discussions, we made a few house rules that I though I'd share.

First: Base speed is 16 per the CRB
That makes provision management a bit more of a concern. Heh, it was fun when they ran out of cargo units for stores, got another supply wagon, and then about pulled their hair out when they discovered that it upped their consumption as they needed to feed the new horses and hire a driver too. It also enticed them to upgrade the undercarriages of the wagons when they saw it was going to take nearly a month to get to Brinewall, and that's if they don't layover at any towns.

Second: We made wainwright and trader roles have a special stacking caveat - if filled by a PC or significant NPC (SNPC), then that position stacks with others
The argument was, traders won't be doing anything between towns and wainwrights are only needed to repair the wagons, and that has to be done when the caravan is not moving. Thus we took the union vs. non-union approach. If they hire somebody, then it's a union job, the trader only does trader stuff and leaches off the provisions otherwise, same goes for the wainwright. But if a PC/SNPC fills the role, he/she is doing it for the "good of the caravan." So, Sandu suddenly found himself a driver, trader, and wainwright. It looks like it'll work out pretty well. They might end up holding over at a town a day or two longer as Sandru is locked into 24 hour "hat" cycles. So if the caravan needs repairing, then that's all he's going to do for a day. The next day he can then switch hats and be a trader.

Third: Percy lives, or, there's a cart in the caravan
One of the players has a small, four-wheeled cart pulled by Percy the mule. (Why are all mules named Percy?) I'd given it some prior thought and we agreed the cart would be treated as a smaller version of the supply wagon: 1 consumption, 2 travelers, 5 cargo units of storage, and it applies against the maximum number of wagons. There is a caveat though. Percy must survive a caravan destruction. When I was reading the section about caravans reaching 0 hit points and got to the part about all horses die, the room went silent and many pairs of eyes narrowed at me. As they were between me and the door leaving the only escape route out a second story window, I capitulated and agreed that Percy would also end up at 1d20-5 hp and somehow miraculously escaping like the PCs and SNPCs. :)

Even with the role stacking, they ended up with a total of 14 people (counting themselves and the SNPCs) in the caravan. That gave them pause and they realized that the caravan was a Big Deal after all.

Next week they start out on the trip. Along with the "standard" stops, I added a few more:

  • A permanently used Varisian halting site(camp), as in there's always a dozen or so caravans there at any give time, between Sandpoint and Gladuria
  • A possible detour to Ravenmoor, the temptation to get a cargo unit or two of its fabled wine might be too much for Sandru to pass up, and night is falling ...
  • If the party takes the detour around Riddleport, there's a ferry over the Velashu River, unfortunately there's a bit of a snag
  • A chance encounter with the Mierani elves if they camp at a certain know Varisian halting site
  • A fortress on the borderland between the Velashu Uplands and the Nolands where some paladins and rangers base out of in their struggles against the Nolanders

So, we'll see how the caravan portion of the game goes. I'm hoping it'll be as fun as the standard fare, so far it seems to be. Goodness knows I've put enough hours into preparing for it.

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I went all pedantic and made up a spreadsheet working out the various travel times at various speeds - base, enhanced undercarriage, horse trains, faster feat and its stacking. (Yay for boring lunches with nothing else to do.)

Personally, I'm dropping the base speed down to 16 miles/day. Facing nearly 30 days of traveling made the players do everything in their power to get the caravan's speed increased, which effectively enticed them to spend their own money to fit out enhanced undercarriages on all wagons.

I've added some additional stops, but here are the core places (days are shown as 16 miles/day / 32 miles/day):
Sandpoint to Galduria: 7.3 / 3.7
Gladuria to Wolf's Ear: 1.9 / 0.9
Wolf's Ear to Roderic's Cove: 7.5 / 3.8
Roderic's Cove to Brinewall: 12.0 / 6.0 (taking the detour trail or going through Riddleport worked out the same for the way I laid down the roads.)
Total: 28.7 days / 14.4 days (assuming they have no layovers at towns)

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Gorbacz wrote:

If you go with the "oh I just tell my players when they level up" approach, you make your player miss out on the joy of receiving XP as a reward and the anxious conversations on "are we there yet?".

Not to mentions things go bananas when a player pulls out a piece of paper and demonstrates that you gave out the previous level way too early and the current one way too late. And it's rather hard to defend yourself in either case.

We do a middle ground approach. The first person to level triggers an XP jump in everybody up to the minimum needed for the next level. This was especially useful when there were 8 players with rarely more than 5 or 6 showing up on any given night. So that nobody was penalized for missing nights, we're all ... uh ... well past graduation and jobs frequently get in the way, everybody's levels are kept the same. It also keeps a character from falling a few levels behind and becoming more squishy.

There's still the thrill of getting XP, but it isn't awarded in lockstep. Somebody might get an XP boost for exceptionally good roleplaying or doing something worthy of a bonus. So everybody still looks forward to getting a number at the end of the night.

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Ultrace wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:

My issue is when the GM does all of the above, and then turns around and tells me he doesn't. In other words, he tries to "get away with it" instead of including me in the decision.

If the whole group asks to be kept in the dark, that's another thing entirely; go nuts. But if the group includes people like me, then fudging for everyone as an automatic default that cannot be opted out of is really a dick move.

On this I think we can actually agree. If as a player you make it clear to the GM that you don't want fudging, or that you want to know when it happens (either during the session or after) and the GM either refuses to stop fudging or refuses to tell you when it has occurred, then there is definitely a problem between the two of you that is likely to extend even further than the fudging realm; a GM that you can't expect to be honest with you in this manner is best abandoned in favor of another group.

I've got to stop reading this thread because I keep getting tempted to jump back in.

*Holds nose and jumps*

This I too can heartily, absolutely, completely agree with. If next session my players say, "You know what, let's try all rolls count, no rerolls, no fudging, let them stand as they fall" or "Hey, after the session, could you tell us where and why you fudged/cheated/did the hula." Then, yes, I will do just that. As I've said, I do what I do because that's what my table wants. If that changes, I change.

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Zaranorth wrote:
It boils down to suspension of disbelief. Which is pretty odd to start with considering we're basically a bunch of adults sitting around playing make-believe.

Heh, I see what you mean.

OK, I kind of get what you're saying. I don't actually agree with it -- if I get involved in a make-believe world which supposedly follows different physical laws (as represented by the rule set instead of physics), I'm OK with that, because at least there's internal consistency. But if the in-game world rules ALSO change arbitrarily -- and I can see the guy behind the curtain doing it, and yet he has the gall to pretend like he isn't -- THAT'S what kills my suspension of disbelief.

But it doesn't matter if I agree, it matters if your players do.

Glad we finally found a middle ground. I'm cool that you don't fudge at all. It's your game. And that's the key point, it's acceptable in my group, it's not in yours, but they're not the same group so we're good.

I also completely agree that a GM that fudges when his players don't want him to is in the wrong.


Just a word of warning, though, for the many other GMs who are fudging things, and assume it's hidden: just because you don't announce it doesn't mean the players won't spot it if they look. Almost everyone I meet thinks they have a perfect poker face. Almost all of them are, in fact, childishly obvious. So unless the players specifically tell you they'll go out of their way to put blinders on and not look for it, you sort of have to assume they'll know. That said, it behooves you to make sure -- up front and without reservation -- that they're OK with it, and what the limits are.

If you can do that, then everything is indeed copacetic, as another poster said.

Yeah, I've got the world's worse poker face. I'm pretty sure that over 90% of the time they know when I fudge, but attention isn't drawn to it, and everyone keeps on trucking. If called, I will reveal if I did or not.

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I don't think so, but then, as always, it depends on your table.

In the first module's three parts they don't show up until part 2. Part 2 is caravan travel, so that subset of rules apply. In part 3 they don't accompany the PCs anywhere.

So in module one they're, well I wouldn't say window dressing, but close. And James Jacobs has said a couple times in various threads that the AP doesn't level them until after the PCs have surpassed them. So they're only overshadowing the PCs power-wise for the first module and parity is more or less reached in the second. (Which from my quick skimming the other day, has the NPCs basically out of the picture too.)

I'm excited to have a number of NPCs that aren't just either information sources or sacks of XP waiting for the PCs to cut open. Having four individuals along for most, or all, of the journey will help buff up the roleplay elements and adds a little something extra. Then there's the fact that we're a bit light on players this go-round. Having 4 NPCs to fill in some spots now and then helps to reduce the risk factor and doesn't make anybody feel like they have to choose a class for "the good of the party" rather than what they want to do.

And, if they're still a concern, there's the explicitly written option to have the PCs play one or all of them. Failing that, there's also the option to do away with them completely and have one, or all, of the PCs the focus of the AP.

As for the PCs being only students or hanger-ons, I don't agree. Sure, as written one NPC has a grand destiny; but rather than follower or tagging along, I view it as the PCs are enabling and actively trying to make it happen. Plus, my group doesn't want to be the center of attention that's going to happen to one NPC, but they're more than happy getting said NPC to where they need to go.

[Edit: Dang it, hit submit rather than preview.]

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I've been trying to decide if I wanted to post this here or in an "almost-bituary" thread. I'll take SnowHeart's lead and do it here. :)

Name: Cinocard
Race: Gnome
Classes/levels: Sorcerer 2
Adventure: Brinewall Legacy
Location: A random bridge on the Old Fish Trail
Catalyst: Trying to jump a tiny gap

Name: CJ
Race: Human/Half-Orc/Thing
Classes/levels: Fighter 2
Adventure: Brinewall Legacy
Location: A random bridge on the Old Fish Trail
Catalyst: Trying to save the gnome

The party is making its way to Licktoad Village and decided to take the Old Fish Trail. On a last second whim, I decided that since the trail isn't used by fishermen anymore and goblins aren't exactly worried about upkeep, the bridges have fallen into disrepair. Thus, one of the bridges had a few planks missing. Nothing too bad, just a 4 or 5 foot gap. A few athletics rolls and flavor for the swamp, nothing more right?


The other characters, all medium-sized, make the jump easily. Cincocard, however, basically walks right off the edge. Being an unarmored person in a group of heavily armored individuals, you'd think he'd be the one best suited for taking an impromptu swim. No. He immediately sinks and starts to drown. (The poor player is cursed to never roll higher than a 4 when it comes to save or die a horribly embarrassing death.)

In comes CJ; seeing the gnome sink below the water, he jumps in ... and immediately sinks like a stone. (Then starts 5 minutes of bickering whether or not a fighter is trained enough to swim perfectly fine in his own armor with references to loading Olympic swimmers down with 30 pounds of lead.) The rest of the party stands there refusing to join in on the chaos figuring that natural selection, or the whim of the dice, is best to decide fate.* Fortunately, they both manage to struggle their way back onto the bridge, Cinocard spending way too much time underwater going the wrong direction.

*There's something about this group and bridges. In Rise of the Runelords, a character got yanked off a bridge by a monster. The entire party, save CJ, jumped down off said bridge to save her. Instead, they all ... Every. Single. One. Crashed down onto her. One going so far as to hitting her upside the head with a mace in the fall.

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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Ironicdisaster wrote:
Lies. See above.
Baseless assertions without a shred of support.

I donno, after listening to a couple of his stand-ups I'd have to agree. :D

But seriously, if you (you reader not you TOZ) haven't read the D&D Calibrating article linked above, do so. I came across it a few weeks ago and showed it to a couple friends that are extremely knowledgeable gamers and had had significant problems with the d20 system over the years. The article helped them ferment the problems they had with the system, realize the problem was actually that a lot people think that to be "any good" you had to be in the high teens level wise, when the people are DMs/GMs it's doubly bad, and then realize that by using the article's logic, the system wasn't nearly as broken as they thought. They then proceeded to print out the article and beat a couple DMs/GMs senseless with it while chanting, "thou shalt not make farmers lvl 16!"