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330 posts. Alias of Christopher Fannin.


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As a GM, I feel like the Mechanic's ability Remote Hack isn't really taken into account well enough in the modules, or is written to be too open-ended.

DS5 :

During DS5, for example, the players had been provided with a map of the installation they were in by O, and the mechanic simply moved to the end of the hallway and made his computer checks from outside the room to access the terminal where E could be imprisoned again. He set off all the countermeasures in advance, I ruled, locked the room down, and basically tossed three big shock grenades in the room prior to entering. I mean, it's a fair trade, but I doubt it was intended.

I'm curious what level of agency and what forms of restriction other GMs and players have experienced with Remote Hack. I've considered requiring LOS or LOE to a target, or restricting by intervening material thickness, but I don't want the ability to feel useless either.

As a side question, do later AP's do a better job of suggesting responses to potentially troublesome class abilities? Seriously, as written, there's nothing stopping a drone mechanic from climbing on top of most buildings and walking around the top remote hacking every computer and robot with impunity. It's like playing Watch Dogs, but better.

If <+9 (3/4 BAB +4 DEX) is rough, what should it be? What basic optimization is my group missing?

pithica42 wrote:
It's easily the hardest fight of the campaign up to that point with a group of 4 at level 6. It potentially poisons every round and has solid hits that are all but automatic if anyone is in reach. But if you follow the 'during combat' it switches to bad tactics once it takes a couple hits, and if the party is all (or even mostly ranged) they have the potential to kite it or ping-pong it.

Most of my party is only at a less than +9 to hit. It taking a couple of hits was, in fact, one of the hard parts. I feel like there is a level of basic optimization that my group is missing. They didn't even have the option to run away. The stupid thing was fast enough to run down anyone who tried unless they split up and sacrificed someone. :)

The Ragi wrote:

Don't forget this:

Armor protects you against low levels of radiation (see page 403) and grants a +4 circumstance bonus to saving throws against higher levels of radiation. Armor of 7th level and higher grants immunity to medium radiation levels and provides a +6 circumstance bonus to saving throws against higher levels of radiation. No armor’s bonuses apply to saves against radiation sickness, regardless of the level of radiation exposure that caused you to contract it.

A single meaty target in an open area is not that much of a challenge, if the party knows how to cooperate.

The last battle, with the magic missile barrage can be much more deadly.

I learned about the radiation protection (nobody would be immune in my group) by watching a video of the fight from another group. Everything seemed to work against the group in this fight (let's also be real...the little map inset is ridiculous. I must have misread it because that 'hovel' was something like 90' across). The ellicoth was in melee range after its first move, essentially could not miss, and scored a crit on the second round of combat. Our solarian front liner went from 'this will be tough' to 'WTF mate!?' faster than I could even roll. Every single roll, from Trick Attack to Clever Attack, to hitting required above average luck to succeed at and you just can't expect above average luck for the duration of a fight like that.

That's really why I'm curious about party comp. The fight felt excessively challenging for a group of 4 at level 6 (CR +3, with a fight immediately after)

Hmm wrote:
The fight with the Ellicoth was particularly memorable, especially once the group learned about the sad history of Ellicoths on Eox. The fact that the Ellicoth had a 'garden' was especially poignant.

It's been a few days, but would you mind sharing your party comp and how they approached the ellicoth? By the numbers, it LOOKS like an almost certain TPK. The radiation, high defense, and excessive attack rolls on the creature, in conjunction with soul rend, would seem to make it darn near unstoppable for a party of 4 level 6 characters.

It would hit our heaviest armored, highest defense player on a... 3, I think? Everyone else is just a speedbump.

Environment certainly matters too. My group is on level 5 or 6, and at least one of the levels was a TPK waiting to happen if the GM didn't baby us.

Don't suppose the old Locate City bomb still works in pathfinder? :)

BadBird wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Neo2151 wrote:
Adding more feat taxes to starve every non-Fighter martial even more than they're already feat-starved is cold-blooded.
Making even more Fighter abilities that the Fighter can't use any better than anyone else is even worse, though.

There's a peculiar running complaint paradox that goes:

1. Fighters lack features, all they get is more feats. Everyone gets feats, that's not a unique or interesting feature.

2. Damn these feat-taxes on feat-starved characters, I can't create the feat-using character I want to with X class because I'm too short on feats to make it work.

Perhaps the obvious conclusion is that a big 'class feature' of Fighters is that they can build the feat-chains nobody else (oh shut up, Human Warpriest) can?

You know, a few hundred years ago the obvious conclusion was that the earth was flat and the universe revolved around it. But when people actually started to analyze things it became apparent that wasn't the case. Maybe there's relevance to be found in bad analogies.

But I suppose I need to check out this new book, if only to see if any of the new feat chains are worth the paper they are printed on. Frankly, when people think of feat chains it's difficult to not think of 'Combat Reflexes->Improved Disarm->Greater Disarm->Directed Disarm' or 'Combat Expertise->Spring Attack->Whirlwind Attack'

Underwhelming. Overcosted. Nearly useless by the time you get them in the environments that forumites (at least) seem to play the game in. Also, none of which do a darn thing to increase a fighter's narrative scope. :)

The Sword wrote:

Is it fair to say that player agency lies on a spectrum.

GM dictated novel <-----------------------> freeform player improv

To this point, I agree with you I think.

The Sword wrote:

A standard AP sits somewhere in the middle.

A sandbox adventure like Slumbering Tsar lies closer to the right.
Something like the old dragon lance saga adventures lie closer to the left.

I don't think that tracks. (with exceptions given for railroading and prison-break-style) The adventure that you're running doesn't suddenly make a caster less capable, or a martial more.

The Sword wrote:

Am I right in thinking we don't want too much railroading because that is dull for the players and we don't want too much agency because then the DM has no campaign plot.

Or is the feeling that there can never be too much player agency?

Good question. Can there be too much player agency? I mean, the GM is another player and he's got quite a bit of agency. :)

Most of the player agency I see is small scale (but potentially large impact...teleport for example). That doesn't strike me as something that prevents a GM from having a plot.

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GM 1990 wrote:
Zilvar2k11 wrote:

In another game I play, there's a class with an ability called 'biggest fan' or something similar.

The player of that character has the ability, once per session, to point to an npc and say 'hey, GM, that guy is one of my fans'.

That's interesting and creates some potential RPing too.

In my campaign, the day after my group had raided a goblin camp and brought back 15 prisoner, I had the inn they were staying at swarmed with local villagers etc wanting to talk with them, hear about their success, buy them drinks etc. Groupies. Was also funny that the rogue kept trying to get farther and farther in the shadows as she thought this whole idea of getting to know you was not good for long term.

The entire game is built on the idea that the players have just as much narrative agency as the GM does. I'm pretty sure that every class has some ability, or at least access to some ability, that rewrites the rules or the narrative. In some cases drastically.

'This shot will add damage equal to how tough the creature I shoot is'
'This attack ignores all defenses'
'Hey, GM, I'm using my ability to just FIND something storyline related that's relevant'.
'That guy and I start a duel, nobody else will interfere'

and so on. And if class abilities aren't enough, the resolution system explicitly gives narrative control of rolled effects to the person performing the action. Got a great roll? Sure, you get a bonus to your roll. Tell me why and that's part of the narrative now. I have never personally encountered another system that makes it so absolutely clear that it's not the GM's story. It's everyone's story. And everyone should have a part to play.

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GM 1990 wrote:

KC - what is your definition of narrative control?

Trying to understand how you define it, and then equate what "some" is?

How do you know when any character in a session has gone from none, to some, to roughly even amounts, and avoids being deadweight or accused of not pulling their weight regardless of class?

In another game I play, there's a class with an ability called 'biggest fan' or something similar.

The player of that character has the ability, once per session, to point to an npc and say 'hey, GM, that guy is one of my fans'.

Now the GM is forced, by player agency, to respond to the change in story.

Players of casters in pathfinder have that capability. 'Hey GM, I cast aqueous orb...that half of the room is underwater and the orb provides cover from everyone except these guys.' 'Hey GM, I charm him.' 'Hey GM, I cast pull out a couple of teleport scrolls that I made a week ago.'

Players of fighters/rogues say 'oh, I get behind cover and shoot them'. 'I try to make a diplomacy roll...does a 23 do anything?' 'Is there a level 9 wizard in the area with teleport?'

Any caster has vast potential to force the to GM respond. Martials have less of that potential.

After all, which is easier to plan for? If you put a wall in front of a fighter, he has basically 6 options...go left, go right, climb up, dig down, go through, or go back. If you put the same wall in front of a caster, he has the same six options, except that any of his potential answers involves more potential sub responses. 'Go through' could be shapeshift into big thing and punch through, could be passwall, stone to mud, earth glide, teleport, and probably 3 dozen more things that I don't know or remember.

Which is easier to plan for? Which is easier to deal with?

The one that's harder has more narrative agency.

Orfamay Quest wrote:
It's not at all clear that spellcasting should provide greater and more effective options than non-spell options.

Actually, I think it is clear. There are problems in implementation but it is always the case that limited use abilities should be more effective than always-on abilities. Otherwise you lose obvious progression paths (more uses per day progresses to always on, for example) and create trap choices that are generally unattractive.

It's fairly well argued and almost certainly a Truth that between bonus spells, cheap consumables, item crafting, and a number of other things, casters don't really face an issue of limited use. As such, spells are almost certainly over-valued as a resource.

Orfamay Quest wrote:
If every spell in Pathfinder had its casting time increased by one level (so a spell that is now a standard action takes a full round, and a spell with a one round casting time takes a minute), casters would still have overwhelming narrative power (I...

Most of your suggestions are only effective if you also remove the ability of casters to create and use easy consumables. Wands and scrolls largely eliminate most of those problems and have the benefit of bringing wealth by level back into expected patterns (referencing half-remembered, previous discussions about how characters don't tend to use enough consumables, and apparent expectations about adventure and game design where modules tend to over-reward players).

Jiggy wrote:
The disparity exists objectively. The fact that casters can fly, turn invisible, travel the planes, cure HP damage, foretell the future and summon fantastical minions is not subjective; it's objective fact, written right there on the page in black and white. The fact that martials can't do those things is similarly objective, not subjective. The disparity exists.

That's like saying it's objectively true that a low level/high level disparity exists. It's an objective truth, but by itself it isn't a useful one.

It is true that the more spells you have available to you, the more options you have, and that range of options is generally greater and more effective than the range of options provided by non-spell options (class abilities/feats).

The latter is, as I see it, the source of these discussions. Casters get to have more fun. It's also the source of the counters (like the funny story I posted), because sometimes you can go loooong stretches where the roles are reversed and someone else gets to have more fun.

Ideally, the asymmetric balance between classes, roles, abilities, spells would be tailored so that the level of fun you have isn't generally tied to the number of spells you get to cast per day or per encounter, and we're not there AT ALL, but in the end I still see this as a very subjective subject because you won't ever be able to escape that every discussion, at its core, is going to come back to fun.

IMO, of course. :)

Davor wrote:
Just point him to myth #1. The C/MD isn't subjective, at least it isn't totally subjective. Player skill can influence table experience with it, but on a fundamental level it exists. I believe that's another one of the myths mentioned in the OP.

Of course it's subjective. As I see it, at its heart, CM/D is about one group of players getting to have more fun than the others. The reasons for that are well-described in this thread and the many others like it.

Subjectively, the GM doesn't get to have fun because he always feels like the big, epic battles on the various floors just aren't. In the specific instance of this campaign and this adventure, C/MD exists in the other direction in his eyes.

In a more general campaign...in a more general setting...hell, in bigger rooms where I can't get face to face with Mr I-Hate-PC's in a single round (and damn the consequences), the typical disparity of casters and martials would reassert itself.

And then who knows...maybe I'd be the one not having fun.

Jiggy wrote:
...at 5th level.

no argument here. Paladins are good martials, but they're still martials when it comes down to it.

Arachnofiend wrote:
If you're trivializing everything because of Paladin smite the last floor might be the absolute worst time for your GM to ramp up the difficulty... you start to fight less "evil stuff that took over the spire" and more "neutral stuff that built the thing in the first place". You will be very short on Smite targets towards the end of the adventure.

Smite is one of his pet peeves (a big one, of course, but not the only). Specifically that smite bypasses all forms of DR on the target creature.

I won't say it was completely unintentional, but I didn't plan for an evil-caster-chasing-beat-down-machine paladin when I built him. It just so happens that many of our fights have gone 'the caster does something horrid, make a save.' 'I pass, move adjacent, mark him as my smite target, and hit for some significant portion of BBEG's hit points'. BBEG tries to take a 5' step to cast safely and, whoops, paladin's still there! Tries to cast defensively and fails because 15+2x level is not an easy check for spells at the caster's top level.

So, DM ends up feeling like 'wow, this fight that was supposed to be an awesome test of their capability was complete crap because zilvar just wtfpwned the bad guy'.

The point of all this is that CM/D is often a subjective subject. In this specific instance, I wouldn't be able to bribe my GM into believing in the concept of CM/D because recent experience tells him that (his NPC) casters don't ever get to do interesting things, because zilvar's paladin is a meaniepantsdouchebag and carries badwrongfun around in a big bag o' SMITE.


Matthew Downie wrote:

Invincibility disparity is A Thing.

While GMing, if a PC seems invincible, it can feel like the player broke the game. Why are these monsters bothering to attack him? Can't they see that they'll never hit his AC? If the last two spells just bounced off his saving throw, why the evil caster try a third time?

A character with powerful narrative agency (but no invincibility) can break a campaign, but generally only by doing clever things the GM didn't think of, and they have to be careful because if they slip up they could die at any moment.

A character with unhittable AC and high saving throws can simply kick down the door, kill everything in the room, and move on, without needing to do anything interesting. From the GM viewpoint, that's a more serious problem.

Possibly true, yes, but in this case the character is far from invincible. I've never gone down, but I've been in single digit hit points multiple times.

Emerald Spire is badly designed to deal with someone getting into a caster's face. Many of the end level fights have, so far (level 5, or 6) taken place in small rooms against a single, or at most 2, bad guys.

But no, I'm short on AC. Far from unhittable. :)

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Funny story.


I'm playing a paladin in the Emerald Spire and didn't really bother to build him for any sort of optimization. He's got Power Attack and Step Up and Following Step.

My GM is basically threatening to kill everyone in the party (by ramping up encounter difficulty) because my paladin is trivializing end-level encounters (who are mostly evil caster types who can't 5' step to get away from me). He's been rolling poorly on concentration checks and complains a lot about not being able to Do Anything.

This is a funny story to me because he doesn't get it. That's pretty much how anyone who accepts that CM/D is A Thing feels any time a caster steps up and does what needs to be done and the non casters just shrug and wait for another opportunity to roll a d20.

The best speakers in groups are usually casters.
The guys who know everything are casters.
The most perceptive guys are casters.
The guys most likely to be able to do something on any given round...casters.

But heaven forbid anything make the almighty caster's life more difficult. That's just not fun.

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Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
I know, 'not according to APs' or 'not according to PFS', etc. I'm just talking about home campaign that would attempt to make sense of things, considering the short supply of this metal AND locations that can transform it.

Someone's probably already out there counting the number of adamantine weapons that show up in AP's... you know that right?

(it's could be pretty low and support your thesis, who knows :)

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Thewms wrote:
Just make the players roll out all of the damage they are doing to your objects. Instead of saying "it takes you about 20 mins" say "make your attack roll". After 10-15 irl minutes of AC10 attack rolls and dealing damage, maybe they will be dissuaded from doing it and will instead try......dun dun dun....the door.

So let's stop fixating on the wall.

Let's ask questions about cutting through support pillars to bring down part of a ceiling. Or cutting the wheel off a wagon. Or severing part of a statue.

You know, the sorts of feats of awesome the are enablers of narrative power for people swinging pointy things and not just the finger twiddlers.

Why would anyone want to make players do game-destroying feats of repetitive mind-numbing MMO-grind in a passive-aggressive attempt to not have to say 'no, I don't like that and I don't want it in my game'?

knightnday wrote:
Zilvar2k11 wrote:
As for inappropriate weapons, I grew up on books about magic swords doing incredible and inappropriate things. The Saberhagen's first 3 Books of Swords were formative fiction for me. I have NO problem with a sword slicing chunks out of rock :) But obviously that's just me. :)

As I recall, the 12 swords were made by a God and empowered, they weren't just picked up at the local market. Which in many games is where you'd pick up a an adamantine nodachi, right next to the 100 feet of rope and iron rations.

I enjoyed the books as well, but I'd prefer that every sword wasn't a God-forged blade or at least didn't have the attributes of one.

Indeed, but they also existed as the sole magical items in a world and were created and empowered by gods whose power was waning in a last ditch attempt to get people to believe and empower them again. That particular comparison isn't strictly useful.

That said, Stonecutter was a beast at cutting through stone but had the benefit of actually being magical with an enhancement that made it perfect for the task. We're still talking about a simple masterwork adamantine sword. If someone came up with a 'RockSlicer' enhancement and applied it to an adamantine sword you could make a good argument that caster of level (n-1) with Transmute Stone To Mud (or whatever) just copied one of Vulcan's masterworks.

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knightnday wrote:

One is magic and the other isn't? One is a manipulation of reality itself, and the other is a really sharp sword -- which is really neat by itself -- being used in a way that it wasn't mean to be used in.

That's all it is? A really sharp sword? You could get the same results with steel, or iron, or bone, or brass?

There's something inherent in ad. that allows it to do this strange thing that somehow allows it cut stone and steel as easily as it cuts leather and paper (except that it doesn't, because they still have more hit points, hence 'strange'). It's something that we do not have a real world analog for. It's something that requires just as much suspension of disbelief as a fireball, or an elf, or a potion of healing, because it really is more than just a really sharp sword.

knightnday wrote:
There's a reason we don't see Wolverine cutting through 10 foot walls; as I recall, even with his impossibly cool claws he has in the past lacked leverage, strength, or time to do so.

And because the writers of your average comic book have never needed, wanted, or been required to really answer those questions :)

knightnday wrote:
As I said above, there is a line for most if not all of us. Where your line and what your likes are vary. For me, it's someone using this inappropriate weapon as a pick to do some mining, let alone someone WANTING to do that. In character. To their prized weapon. Oh, out of game we know that it is super duper metal and probably won't break. Does your character know that banging it over and over on a wall won't cause problems?

Why wouldn't he? What's the DC and knowledge check required (in your games) know know the general properties of adamantine? Is it arbitrarily high because your PC's aren't allowed to understand the world they live in? Is it unreasonably low because the world is well known? Is it somewhere in the middle for Reasons? The game doesn't specify as far as I know.

As for inappropriate weapons, I grew up on books about magic swords doing incredible and inappropriate things. The Saberhagen's first 3 Books of Swords were formative fiction for me. I have NO problem with a sword slicing chunks out of rock :) But obviously that's just me. :)

knightnday wrote:

For that matter, why isn't it destroying armour and leaving people in ruined gear afterwards?

Because he's not a sunder-focused fighter, of course. :)

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knightnday wrote:
I didn't see any response to your question, but I may have missed it in the mayhem. For my own answer, I've no problem with an adamantine item designed to break down walls. I don't subscribe to the "It'd be cool if people could like, hack thru walls with adamantine butterknives!" Cool doesn't override silly or nonsensical for me. I'm willing to suspend disbelief a lot in games, but there are lines (and we all have them, even if we don't admit it on forums.)

Why is it a suspension of disbelief for someone to do inexplicable things with a sword made of an inexplicable material, but not one for a wizard to wiggle his fingers and turn the same wall into mud, or just make a magical hole appear, or just appear on the other side of it because reasons?

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knightnday wrote:
The problem is that "it's cool" is a matter of perspective; what seems cool for some games is a mess for others.

That's why I asked the question:

By no later than 9th level, any obstacle limited by walls is potentially a joke because of casters (probably earlier, dimension door is available earlier). Why is it such an issue if someone with an adamantine (sword/axe/pick/flail/hammer/whatever) gets a way to do the same thing by 5th or 6th level?

If there was an answer, I've missed it. If there's an answer that involves 'spell slots' or 'limited uses', then I respectfully respond in advance: scrolls, staves (lol), wands, pearls, bonded items, etc. It might cost more than an ad. sword/hammer/pick, but it's also a lot more flexible.

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Saldiven wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Then "hardness" shouldn't be a thing. Instead, rope would have "DR 20/slashing" and stone would be like "DR 20/bludgeoning," or whatever. It's awkward and goofy for rope to have hardness 0 and also virtual "DR infinity/slashing" but not even call it that, and make no effort to integrate the two systems. Or for stone to have hardness 8 but also DR/arbitrary.
Can't write rules for every scenario. Look how many pages of rules there already area and how many gray areas still exist.

Kirth's point is that you don't have to. There are only 2 differences between DR/- and hardness. Adamantine ignores hardness <20, and hardness reduces energy damage. Seems to me that it would have been just as easy to have used DR/- and given a rule that resistance=DR for objects (which gives you some latitude for special rules if you want to have something affected by something extra easily). One subsystem to remember. Writing rules for every scenario actually becomes more difficult the more rules you write :)

Saldiven wrote:
Is that really such a counter-intuitive concept that it needs specific codification in the rules? Do they need to go through every substance and spell out which tools are more or less effective in damaging those substances?

Yes, in the specific event that you have a material that is so extraordinarily hard that it has physical properties that we literally have no real-world counterpart to compare to.

You see the practical effects of that in a more restrictive fashion than I do. I believe there's no reason that someone couldn't take an adamantine sword, put the point against a wall, push really hard and force the blade in a bit and just cut chunks out, because that's how I envision ignoring hardness.

It's all about the awesome :)

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TPK wrote:
Actually I have no problem with and adamantine hammer breaking through the wall with ease and not requiring the 4 cuts concept, but at this point I am more pointing out that the HP and Hardness apply to each section. The PC is using a adamantine blade which cuts cleanly through and when you do enough damage it will penetrate that section of wall, but the penetration is still in the shape of a cut, so a line... For this to be useable you need to make 3 more cuts. The only reason I think this description is truly important is to define the timeframe, difficulty (read fatigue) and amount of noise that will occur once the cuts have been complete and a slab of stone falls loudly slamming into the ground, not just making noise but a hell of a lot of noise and shaking the area with its force. No more surprise rounds against all the...

How much damage is enough though? I guess that's where I might be misunderstanding. Would you really require someone to do 172 points of damage to cut a single line through a 1 foot wall section? And then do it again 3 more times?

Because now you've made the guy with the sword do enough damage to reduce the wall to rubble 4 times.

shadowkras wrote:
i don't consider them worth a feat
By the time i can Time Stop or Create Dimensional Pocket i dont consider most 1st and 2nd level spells as worth a feat either.

If you tried to account for the log(n) nature of spells and feats, do you really feel like that would make the non-casters look ANY better? :)

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TPK wrote:
For a quick answer next time calculate the HP of the object that is targeted calculate the PC's average damage minus any penalties for an inappropriate tool and give the PC a number of rounds it will take to get through ONE side of the hole they are cutting. Remember there are FOUR cuts required to make a square or rectangle like a door. Good luck!

This answer bothers me a bit. Maybe this is a problem with my view of the object breaking/hardness rules, but when I see someone say that you need to roll damage in excess of a wall's hit points in order to make a window, or a door, or whatever, I wonder why GM's rule that you've got to do the same damage to make an opening big enough to get through as you have to do to reduce the entire wall section to rubble.

Am I misinterpreting your position? If not, why is that your concern?

By no later than 9th level, any obstacle limited by walls is potentially a joke because of casters (probably earlier, dimension door is available earlier). Why is it such an issue if someone with an adamantine (sword/axe/pick/flail/hammer/whatever) gets a way to do the same thing by 5th or 6th level?

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Saldiven wrote:
Zilvar2k11 wrote:

I think I like Kirth's answer the best, honestly, but not because of some perceived imbalance or whacky application of reality to game. I think that amazing things should be allowed to be amazing. :)

I like the idea that adamantine swords can act something like Stonecutter. It's thematic, cool, and has a precedent in the fiction that the people I game with are familiar with. If you still think that people using swords shouldn't be allowed to do amazing things with them, well, there's a thread for that. :)

If it were a magical adamantium sword enchanted to tunnel through rock, then sure.

But not just because it's made of adamantium.

And now we're in the territory of the other thread. IMO, of course.

Much like Wolin says above, adamantine is a unique metal in the game with unique properties that we do not have a real world analogue for. We don't even REALLY have a good real world analogue for what ignoring hardness means. It's still harder to slice through leather than cloth with an adamantine weapon, but some aspect of what it means to be harder to cut leather is removed.

That just leaves us with the realm of what we imagine to be appropriate, cool, or fun. If complex locks or winding mazes are the challenges that you want your players to focus on by the time they can willfully afford a +1.something equivalent weapon (at current pricing...please remember I agree with Kirth's theory that the price might be a tad low for weapons (and high for armors, IMO)) then you're going to have extra issues with the idea of adamintine weapons being used to chop things up.

Me? Not so much. It's a narrative action, not a combat action. As far as I'm concerned someone with an adamantine sword and some knowledge in engineering can make a passage through a wall in a reasonable timeframe, because it's cool. :)

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I think I like Kirth's answer the best, honestly, but not because of some perceived imbalance or whacky application of reality to game. I think that amazing things should be allowed to be amazing. :)

I like the idea that adamantine swords can act something like Stonecutter. It's thematic, cool, and has a precedent in the fiction that the people I game with are familiar with. If you still think that people using swords shouldn't be allowed to do amazing things with them, well, there's a thread for that. :)

Vutava wrote:
I hated this level. This was probably made worse by the fact that our GM read the "light doesn't illuminate past 5'" thing as "if you get more than 5' from a light source, you can't see it anymore". This meant that apart from the one half-orc in our party, everyone had to be right next to something in order to see it. This also meant that my squishy 1st-level sorcerer was utterly worthless for the entire session.

This, with the 5' distance, is what my GM implied as well. We never even considered leaving a trail of torches.

Imbicatus wrote:
What the simulation really shows is that +1 to hit is more powerful than +1 to crit modifier. If the Falcata user had weapon focus as well, (not a poor assumption), it will pull ahead.

QWhat it appears to show is a reasonable answer to the OP. Taking EWP as a feat cost is not worth it. If you have to (or want to) spend a feat, find something other than EWP. If you get or have it for free, it's well acknowledged in this thread that it's not a bad deal.

thejeff wrote:
Zilvar2k11 wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:

3)Plenty of magic item crafting time. Let's pretend that this isn't truly variable in campaigns and that every pally and ranger is just crafting pearls of power or other gear until their wealth is double wbl.
D20PFSRD wrote:

If the caster is out adventuring, he can devote 4 hours each day to item creation, although he nets only 2 hours' worth of work. This time is not spent in one continuous period, but rather during lunch, morning preparation, and during watches at night
How much time does one really need? If you CAN craft, and AREN'T crafting, it's generally because you don't know the rule or you don't want to, not because you cannot.

Or because you're going up levels faster than you can spend your money at 2 hours a day.

I'll grant that this is theoretically possible, but I am finding it difficult to imagine it actually happening outside of some odd circumstances.

At 13-ish encounters per day, each utilizing some fraction of daily resources (suggested 25%), you are more or less obligated to take 3 or 4 days per level. You're getting at least a little crafting done in that time if you want. Probably not to your full capacity, but a little.

Rhedyn wrote:

3)Plenty of magic item crafting time. Let's pretend that this isn't truly variable in campaigns and that every pally and ranger is just crafting pearls of power or other gear until their wealth is double wbl.
D20PFSRD wrote:

If the caster is out adventuring, he can devote 4 hours each day to item creation, although he nets only 2 hours' worth of work. This time is not spent in one continuous period, but rather during lunch, morning preparation, and during watches at night

How much time does one really need? If you CAN craft, and AREN'T crafting, it's generally because you don't know the rule or you don't want to, not because you cannot.

Philo Pharynx wrote:

The idea of one person rolling at a penalty means that nobody else needs to give much of a damn. That's pretty excluding in my view.

That's an interesting outlook. In my experience, people feel excluded when there's nothing that they can do to contribute, and/or when the decisions that they have made are marginalized or of limited value.

With the simple rule I proposed, everyone would get to contribute by simply spending a single skill point (a much less expensive investment than a feat and teamwork++). The primary actor gets to do fantastic things for the group he's acting for, and if the tools exist, and are effective, the automatic reliance on 'let the wizard do it' or 'I have a scroll for that' might wane as well (again, teamwork++).

Philo Pharynx wrote:

When it's something where a group is working together I often use something I call the group check. I also use it for things like climbing with everybody roped together, or social situations that the group has planned for.

For this I compare the average of the PC's rolls to the DC. That way it involves more than just the highest or lowest person. If a roll fails the DC by 10, then they are in jeopardy. Somebody else has to make a roll with a penalty equal to how much they missed by to cover them.

Average? That's sounds harsh. On the surface, it seems like it would encourage classes with a shortage of skill points to spend them in ways that they might otherwise not to keep the averages from plummeting. The system doesn't reward diluting your resources in any other fashion, so it feels kinda counter intuitive to me.

At level 6, the difference might not be that big, but at level 12 or 15, I'd be looking for ways to not have to ever take part in your group check if I hadn't invested in the skill at all (something a low-skill-point class is likely to face). Ultimately that's contrary to what I'd want to achieve.

Since you continue to use it, I'm going to assume you haven't actually seen that in play. Can you provide a few anecdotes (level, class, situation) where it's come into play at the table, and how have your players responded in regards to spending skill points?

Kaisoku wrote:

There was a great scene in the 13th Warrior movie. They had to sneak through the cave lair of the Wendol, to kill their leader and their "mother" (spiritual leader), to break them.

The one sneaky guy takes the point, while the rest start dropping off all their extra armor. One guy sees "mister armor" not taking off his breastplate, and he says "you'll have to kiss me first! haha".
They move along, the sneaky guy showing the path, and giving hand signals on when to stop and stay down to keep hidden from enemies moving around (using his Stealth check over the whole group).

However, at one point, the guy with the breastplate scraps against some rocks with it, and they all stop when one enemy looks up for a moment. Mister Armor gives a bit of an ashamed look, but the enemy wasn't really on guard for anything and goes back.

This sounds like, to me, like the Sneaky Guy rolls a stealth check (maybe at a -4 "non proficiency penalty for directing others) minus any armor check penalties. The rest of the group uses that roll and applies their amor check penalty.

Slap on a feat that lets the sneaky guy do this without a penalty, and maybe even add a reroll or something (so the feat isn't piddly).

Good idea!

Yeah..exactly. This is exactly the sort of thing you see in media (that may or may not be inspiring for you and your players) that I want a rule like this to emulate.

I didn't have a specific movie scene in mind, but that's exactly what I want people to visualize.

Stopping the 'me-too' gaming is just a happy side effect.

Devilkiller wrote:

Are you thinking that the stealthy character puts the others in a crate and smuggles them in or just whispers "caster martial disparity" over and over as they clank by and amazingly nobody hears them? I mean, does this represent somehow using your Stealth skill to help other PCs be stealthy too, or is it purely a game balance concept to make the Stealth skill more rewarding and easier to use?

If it were going to be the former I'd expect that giving your party members a bonus (possibly even a big one) on their Stealth checks might feel more reasonable than just making the Stealth check for them using your modifier. That way if you're trying to sneak in an unskilled woolly mammoth in full plate barding it would still be harder than if you're trying to sneak around with a couple of average humans in studded leather.

Honestly I don't care how he does it. Rolling carts, whispered advice, or brilliant deduction on guard lines of sight, or any other theatrical trope you can dream up. What matters is that you can't ever have a scene where the skilled rogue gets everyone through a tight spot. The scale of whatever bonus he could provide is unlikely to make a lick of difference to anything more capable than a blind, sleeping octogenarian.

That's a system failing that I think à rule like this one could address

Reverse wrote:

Aid another checks - everybody rolls Stealth to support the main Rogue. Those who succeed add nothing to the check, but gain the ability to use one main Stealth roll instead of their own Stealth. Those who fail actively hamper the Rogue, providing a -2 for each failed Aid.

I was thinking something similar, but wanted to reduce rolling overall. I figured to take the worst penalty and apply it, then add +2 for everyone else who was trained in stealth. Simple and hopefully quick.

Then I got to looking at the survival skill and though, oh, yeah...assess a penalty of -1 for each additional person because it makes sense.

It wouldn't, necessarily, be easy for a stealth focused character to get a bunch of people past a guard station (like you've probably seen in any number of action and fantasy movies/books), but it would be doable unlike now.

Devilkiller wrote:
In my opinion Stealth Synergy isn't very good. You're probably better off with Skill Focus (Stealth) in most cases, and expecting everybody to make a feat commitment to Stealth when the problem is that they won't even invest skill ranks in it seems like an odd assumption.

How many skill points do you expect a level 3 armored cleric to be able to devote to stealth? Or fighter? Or any other low skill class for whom stealth isn't a class skill?

I agree with you. Asking players to take a mediocre (IMO) feat at the levels when they're grabbing the 'essential' and 'easily reached' feats for whatever build or vision they hope to play is a hard sell.

Devilkiller wrote:
Anyhow, while helping your friends move more quietly sounds nice it could be tough to explain how you made the guy in full plate or the woolly mammoth really sneaky. There's also a bit of "something for nothing" which some DMs might not appreciate (players either if stealthy bad guys start sneaking Fire Giants into your camp)

Sooo...because skills are mundane, they shouldn't be allowed to do cool things? Nobody bats an eyelash at a group of ogre magi ambushing a sleeping party, but the sneaky guide showing his (less skillful) group the hidden path around the sentries so they can launch a surprise attack just really isn't doable without, apparently, quite a bit of investment all around.

Devilkiller wrote:
A mundane option which often gets overlooked is simply having the noisy folks follow the stealthy ones from a good distance back.

Typically only works outside or in wide open areas. Effective, until you flub the stealth roll and are dead before the party gets to respond, because splitting the party sucks. :) (Seriously, you've never had this happen? Some variation of it happens Every Single Time to groups I'm in.)

Jack of Dust wrote:
Stealth synergy is actually pretty good all things considering. In a four person party where everyone has stealth synergy you're essentially getting to roll your stealth four times and take the highest result. That's quite powerful for a feat. You might be falling into the unfortunately common misconception that teamwork feats are not worth bothering with just because they are teamwork feats. There are actually quite a few gems there if you take a good look.

From the first post, having 4 people roll and take the highest result is one of the things I'd actually like to avoid.

I'd also scoff at your notion of 'quite powerful', but that would be the power gamer in me holding it up against feats that are actually consistent game changers (some metamagic, power attack, etc). Extremely situational feats are always going to weigh poorly against that.

Jack of Dust wrote:
If in the unlikely scenario that absolutely no one can afford to spare one feat, have someone in the party with the Tactician ability take it and grant it to their allies.

How many classes grant that ability at a level that's low enough for skills to be an important focus of the game (given your point below)?

Jack of Dust wrote:
As for the other skills, climb, acrobatics and swim are incredibly easy to bypass with magic while survival usually only requires one person to have. Tracking and food providing (assuming you even have to keep track of food) can often be taken care of with just one person. Use Aid Another if you have to, you don't even need to be trained so you might as well.

With the general disdain expressed for skills on these boards, I do admit to being a little bit dismayed at how quickly a harebrained proposal to extend the useful timeline and application of skills (and limit me-too-metagaming) is dismissed as useless-because-of-magic.

As for survival, my experience has been that through level 3 or so, a single person with survival is insufficient to provide for the party plus mounts + companions. Also, survival is already written to support or encourage group-focused usage, with set DC's and effects that expand based on how much you exceed the DC by. In that sense, it's already an excellent prototype for the sort of game mechanic I proposed.

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I just looked up Stealth Synergy. Honestly, I'm dumbfounded. Your answer to 'groups avoid tropes because the skill system doesn't encourage avenues of play that are..less direct.' is a lame teamwork feat?

I'm sorry, but in my experience teamwork feats are a waste of ink. They've never seen the light of play because the cost doesn't justify the benefits.

Has your experience been sufficiently different that you could imagine players abandoning personal advancement feats so that they could pick up Stealth Synergy and any other hypothetical similar feats for other skills that could benefit (climb, acrobatics, survival, swim come to mind).

Stompy Rex wrote:

Some ideas:

You may could do something with Aid Another. Possibly, assume within a certain radius that AA is automatic because your group is assumed to cooperate. Clumping risks traps, etc. so they'll want to spread out some--but it definitely helps encourage working together and may prevent the "everyone pounce" metagame. If they pounce, the AA goes away and they're suddenly making their own rolls.

The "automatic AA" could help your less skilled PCs as well--a +4 is a nice bonus to any roll.

Another could be "the expert lead." Have an "expert" in an area grant less skillful PCs a...

Depending on the target numbers and situations, everyone making separate rolls is better for the metagame, especially with a commonly trained skill like perception (2 rolls with similar modifiers have twice the chance of reaching the target, for example) I think that would just change the metagame, and I'm thinking that assuming AA within a set radius is similar to the group roll idea I was suggesting, except that it requires people roll (or be good enough to make the 10 target). I was trying to streamline a little bit.

Dunno what Stealth Synergy is. That's not ringing a bell.

I think this is close to the expert leads idea, but just consolidates down to the expert rolls instead.

Part of the thought process is to increase options by allowing a single, skilled, roll to stand for the party, but also to reduce metagame thinking by forcing a single, skilled, roll to stand for the party in the cases where that would be appropriate.

I do think that my simple version is probably too simple, but I was more interested in conveying the idea for input without proposing a lot of excessive calculation to bog the idea down. :)

I had a thought today while deliriously bicycling in the heat. There are a number of times when, in my experience, groups avoid tropes because the skill system doesn't encourage avenues of play that are..less direct.

Concrete example, a party with a fighter or cleric or other armored character will often (IME) avoid stealth-based resolutions to problems because there's realistically no chance that all of the characters can pull it off and common logic is that splitting a 4-man party is tantamount to suicide.

But what if your skilled character could make a single check for the entire group? What would be the ramifications in play of something like (and this is probably the simplest workable version) a rogue making a stealth check at -2 for each additional untrained person and letting that count as the group's roll?

That's basically what happens now when the bard steps up and charms the pants off the princess, or the wizard teleports the party across the world. Heck, it's basically what happens when the rogue climbs a wall and drops a knotted rope down so that Anemic Wizard can climb or be pulled up safely.

You could do the same thing for perception rolls too, to cut down on the 'Jack, roll perception'...and then having every pounce over to where Jack was standing so they get a chance to roll too. One check for the group. Less metagaming maybe :)

Does it sound workable?

Ashiel wrote:
Aratrok wrote:
The current plan is that the standard recovery method for any "daily" resources is that a character can recover any of those resources they haven't used in the last 8 hours by resting/studying/meditating/practicing/whatevering for an hour.

Yeah, this is actually one of my favorite things because we're standardizing the way classes with daily resources recover them.

Some classes may have other resources though. One thing I'm looking into developing at the behest of my brother is a class that revs up with combat, similar to warriors from WoW. As in the class begins at 0 and each action generates more whupass power to be expended for liberal smackdowns and/or heroic action.

I look forward to working on it. :)

That could be difficult to balance. If you base the gain of whoopass on time spent in combat, you end up with insufficient WA points in short or less important fights (which there are typically more of). If you base it on damage taken, you end up with someone who rides the line of 'kill me so I can kill you better' and 'I'm dead/I'm a healing sponge'. If you base it on damage done, you encourage one-dimensional character advancement.

I wonder...maybe something like a swift-action ability that gives a whoopass point and increases the WA counter so that the next use gives an additional point (up to a cap of, oh, 1/4 level). Activation of most skills is a single point, but can scale up in effectiveness with more points spent.

Jiggy wrote:
Zilvar2k11 wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
No, instantly fatal to that PC. "Fatal" is just a description of whether or not the damage killed the creature, because that's what "fatal" means. An attack that deals 20 damage might be fatal to one character but not another, all while being an identical amount of damage.

It seems to me that you're changing your story now. You started with ' the two injuries are equal by definition', and now you're saying they aren't.

Please explain you position more fully, because I feel like you're conflating the concepts 'injury' and 'damage amount' in a confusing fashion, or I have -completely- missed the point.

I included a bit of additional description later in the same post; does that help? If not, let me know.

Not really.

The primary problem I have proposed is unanswered. From 14 damage onward, using your interpretation, any described injury MUST be one that can instantly kill a 1st level PC. No bleedout. No lingering death. DEAD-in-one-hit-do-not-pass-Go-D.E.A.D. . Because that is, as far as I can determine, the minimum amount of damage that is required to reduce a heroic PC from full hit points to dead in a single strike. Whatever that 14hp injury is, as you've said, is the same (or equivalent, I suppose) for every person, because you have stated that the injuries are equal by definition.

That sounds like nonsense to me, and that's why I'm asking for a more complete explanation.

Jiggy wrote:
No, instantly fatal to that PC. "Fatal" is just a description of whether or not the damage killed the creature, because that's what "fatal" means. An attack that deals 20 damage might be fatal to one character but not another, all while being an identical amount of damage.

It seems to me that you're changing your story now. You started with ' the two injuries are equal by definition', and now you're saying they aren't.

Please explain you position more fully, because I feel like you're conflating the concepts 'injury' and 'damage amount' in a confusing fashion, or I have -completely- missed the point.

alexd1976 wrote:
Any conversation about what hitpoints are and how damage is represented (when described other than as '5 points') is of great interest to me.

I remember thinking, when looking over the rules in the pathfinder player's handbook, that the rules for hit points had been shortchanged a bit in the interest of making things either different enough from 3.5 to not get into trouble, or generic enough that people could do whatever they wanted to with them.

Thusly, I defer to the 3.5 (3.0? don't remember which book) commentary which essentially described hit points in one or two paragraphs. It said that hit points were a measure of physical toughness, luck, divine grace, and all of the other things that keep you alive. It also went on to describe the proportional damage explanation that I mentioned a few posts ago. I don't have the exact line handy, but I vaguely recall that it described a fighter and wizard at two different levels (1st and 10th?) as being equally hurt after losing different amounts of hit points. I don't think that the world proportional is ever used, but the intent seemed clear enough to me.

We also know, because corner cases are still valid, that every single hit point is, at least in part, representative of real damage, because a character with 1, 10, or 10000000000000 of them is forced to make a saving throw every time they get bit by something that does 1 point of damage + save vs poison.

Aaron Whitley wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:

Yeah, that is an odd bit.

In my own houserules I've tweaked the cure line into being a single Cure spell with limitations on how many 'hit dice' it can heal relative to the spell level it is cast from, and different classes heal different amounts.

It works in my houserules because I've destroyed the purpose of multiclassing and therefore felt no shame in banning it. A character chooses to either be a Hero [warrior/assassin style archetype] a Dabbler [Bard/Inquisitor/Alchemist style archetype] or a Mage [Wizard/Cleric style archetype] and everybody gets enough feats and flexible character options to pursue any theme they could want that their Archetype can support.

Yeah, that was the direction I was heading in as well except I realized I didn't want to rewrite a whole bunch of the system and just went with the number rolled representing the number of days of natural healing you receive.

That feels like a huge buff to the spells. Why not just have 'cure light' be a day of natural healing and scale up from there?

Jiggy wrote:

We're not "assuming" anything; rather, the two injuries are equal by definition. A greater or lesser amount of injury is represented by a higher or lower damage value. Five points of damage is the same as five points of damage because that's what "the same" means.


Why not? It sounds like your issue is not with the actual HP and damage rules Pathfinder uses, but rather with the "injury based on percentage of HP remaining" houserule that you forced upon yourself. You've decided that every character has exactly 100 points of actual health/injury, and you're...

The idea that damage has a static value or representation is pretty thinly supported by any form of rules. For that to work, any damage value of..what, 14 or more (8 CON, d6 hd, level 1) has to automatically describe a wound that is instantly fatal. Not potentially fatal. Not 'might die in a few seconds to bleed out', but instantly fatal to any PC. And now you've got to make up stories about how your uber hero shrugged off having a sword stuck through his heart or had his head removed, because that's what the same means, isn't it?

I don't think that the game works in the fashion in which you are describing, but Pathfinder itself is pretty vague on the subject, isn't it?

The proportional damage model is lifted pretty much straight out of the 3.0 (3.5?) players handbook which included a paragraph describing how a wizard who had lost half his hit points was about as hurt as a fighter who had lost half of his. 'Damage', for 3.x-based games, has pretty much always been defined as proportional to
the overall health of the target.

Zardnaar wrote:
1. Disparity of 6 points between a good and bad save.

Unessential to the enjoyment of pathfinder or any similar game.

Zardnaar wrote:
2. Sacking spell DCs with the level of the spell and then adding the spellcaster modifier to the DC (when you require XYZ amount of ability score to cast the spell in the 1st place).

Meh. Take it or leave it. Tying the power of a spell to the power of the caster is essential for the trope, but tying it into the primary casting stat (the one that determines if you can cast, and the one that determines how often you can cast) overloads a single stat.

Zardnaar wrote:
3. Being able to easily buy magical items.

Essential for the game as it is designed, but so far removed from any fantasy trope that isn't directly related to 3.x as to be laughable.

Fantasy heroes don't adventure for the money to buy Excaliber. They find Excaliber. Money is just a way to keep score. The reliance on custom purchased or designed magic items and the (oft-perceived) requirement to spend all of your money on upgrades actively pushes the average player away from common fantasy story tropes of growing into power, taking on students, becoming NAMES and LEGENDS outside of the question of 'What Did I Kill Today?' Someone's going to argue that it's the GM's job to write those stories, and maybe it is for a lot of people, but I want a game where my players are encouraged to exercise the narrative and change the world in meaningful ways.

Zardnaar wrote:
4. Wands of Cure Ligth Wounds and similar wands existing enabling very cheap healing.

Don't like it as wands, but I want cheap, out-of-combat healing to be available. I don't want to be the guy that has to play a healing battery (even though the discussions I've been having with my current GM about whether my Soulthief Vitalist is evil for draining hit points from enemies the sap adept rogue has knocked unconscious and healing his party with that energy have been amusing).

Zardnaar wrote:
5. Multiple attacks decreasing in accuracy eg. +16/+11/+6/+1

Meh. Multiple attacks are so attractive from a player's perspective that people jump through amazing hoops to find ways to throw buckets of dice and scream 'Yeah Baby!'. I am not a huge fan. I want to roll a few meaningful dice and streamline fights.

Zardnaar wrote:
6. The natural spell feat existing.

Honestly don't even understand why you included this. I don't think anything else you listed was purely class specific. You must have had some bad experiences with druids, and that's a shame.

Zardnaar wrote:
7. Disparity of +/- 6 skill points between the classes eg 2 for fighters, 8 for rogues.

Not a fan. I wasn't really a fan of 4E's skills either, but I liked that every character could be expected to be at least minimally awesome in every skill (obviously, in practice, that didn't work. But I don't like players to feel useless at a table)

Zardnaar wrote:
8. Auto scaling buff spells you can stack together eg divine power, divine favor, righteous might etc.

More things should be scalable. Too many things stack.

Zardnaar wrote:
9. Feats existing full stop. Would you play a 3.x/d20 game with no feats?

No I wouldn't. But I'm not a fan of a lot of the low-hanging fruit.

Zardnaar wrote:
10. Ability scores scaling up as you level and uncapped limits on ability scores.

Ability scores scaling is a plus if they're going to exist. I like several of the systems that have been posted on these forums to remove enhancement bonus items and bake those bonuses in.

In the end, I think your list of things you consider sacred cows is a bit strange.

I start asking the questions with:
1) 3-18 stats. Why? All that matters is the plus. -5 to +5 to start with.
2) Vancian casting. Magic based off a power-point system is inherently more balanced (no auto scaling of spells), and provides a lot of room for the classes themselves to have interesting abilities that don't come from the spells (reference, for example, the aforementioned soulthief vitalist).
3) Classes. I like them. I want to keep them. It's still a sacred cow whose existence can be examined. At this point, there are So Many classes available and multiclassing is So Easy that we're 2/3 of the way to a point based system anyway.

There might be others, but I've been distracted by life and my thoughts are utterly and completely scattered. :)

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