Pathfinder Slaad are a bit easier to navigate. "old school" slaad are often behaviorally hard to distinguish between demons.
Pathfinders Greys and Greens are typically not destructive, since they are too occupied with the arcane to care about anything else and taking risks could jeopardize that ambition.
Blues are more 'noble bar brawlers', quick to pick a fight and more likely to buy you a beer if you win (slight good leaning). Reds lean more towards the CE side by comparison. If you're looking for a Chaotic summon, beat a blue slaad in a straight up fight and he'll probably give you his number.
Death Slaad are more like mercenary warlords. They'll happily whip up an army and wage a little war whenever opportunity arises, but can be convinced to cease unpleasantries much easier than dealing with a devil/demon. Not saying doing so would be cheap or easy, but there's less likely to be lingering unpleasantness in the arrangement.
Charm person, then whip out the tea and biscuits. "Okay, all this fighting is silly. Why don't you and I just skip the stabbing and have a chat over a drink?"
Yes. Mid-combat tea break. Charm spells can sometimes have a lingering effect if all you do is break the immediate hostility. It's even better if you've got time and skill to make diplomacy or bluff checks.
It sounds like a case where the entire party rolled for straight combat and no utility. Players' choices aside, who'd hire a bunch of combat mercenaries for what amounts to a covert heist? DM plot choices aside...
There are two avenues:
2: Charisma is a party dump stat. Hope that Ranger isn't just a quirky fighter and actually knows how to 'range'. Look for a back door or other path of least resistance, either inside or outside the fortification. "Fortifications" can often involve a hidden exit to the outside, or possibly a nearby cave system comes conveniently close to the basement or somesuch. If you're lucky, it'll lead you to your little vault. If you're not lucky, it'll be a sewer. If your DM is less good, you'll get railroaded into the grinder.
Ressurection is a more complex issue. First of all, if a character died, it's either accidental (bad rolls/decisions) or deliberate (out of control character).
I don't mind ressurections for accidental deaths. Bringing people back from the dead is a pretty impressive miracle to begin with, and not cheap from whatever service performs it. Making it too easy for some players to weasel their way around Death by Edict, in the case for characters just earned a huge VETO stamp for being irrevocably destructive, is not something I advocate in the slightest.
One of the most simple things i follow is this: Divine powers at be will not raise from the dead someone who is or has recently committed acts in violation of the Dieties' alignment or interests.
If the person had rolled Chaotic A**hole, and die after murdering people, resisting the law, and dying as a result, they are not likely to get a Resurrection from any good or lawful divine power. If the act was particularly evil, it may even only be possible by a divine caster of an evil power.
The most important thing to remember is that Divine Powers are 'granted', and not 'taken for granted' like arcane casting. There's some base level of approval required by the divine powers in question, and they get (via GM) final veto power over who gets to come back.
This is different from dying as a course of normal gameplay, where I will happily permit revival of characters if the player so desires.
And tougher to kill too, and eager to wrestle dragons and the ilk. They're always easy to get back in line by putting them back in the magic hole and not letting them out until they've reapplied the Lotion of Obedience. Sometimes necessary punishment after they've been swayed by naked ladies in the woods, the water, the nine hells, the bar, or by other casters like you who are more obvious with their application of Dominate Person. At which point, you're back in the hole waiting for the lotion to come down in a basket.
At low levels, fighters are mainstay party members.
At higher levels? Fighters are just always-summoned pets that are harder to revive for the party spellcasters.
Not to say they aren't effective, but at that level, it's mostly down to luck and gear when it comes to the storm of Save or Sucks, the "oh that's a fighter, let me dominate him!" moments, the waiting for everyone else to do their skill thing or their spell thing, and occasionally chumming up to big nasties and hoping the GM isn't an a**hole about critical failures that would probably still hit by the numbers.
Sure, there are heroic moments, but for the most part, you're an armored pack-mule with a suit of armor and the expectation that you're going to save the Sorceress that insists on wearing nothing but her underwear into a crypt because 'armor chafes'.
There are various builds, from reach builds to damage builds to generally unkillable, but lets face it, the fun and glory were ten levels ago and now the swashbuckler is running around doing swift-action panty-raids, nobody's seen the rogue in months, and the Wizard is asking you to carry the 75lb keg for the "Dimensional Tavern" spell he learned or some nonsense. Something about 'material component'. Either way, he's not letting you drink any, and you could really use it.
It's not out of line for a newer GM to take Traits off the table to start. It's fewer modifiers off core stats and easier to keep the players honest/on track.
As the runner of my own campaign world, I still have to go through and line-item greenlight a lot of character creation options. I don't mind caster-level traits to help out multiclass hybrids, but I'm also well aware of what it can do to with pure hybrids and casters.
One of my first PF arguments was before I picked up PF, about Chicken Infested. I quickly found out that my prospective player insisted on not only infinite free-action chickens, but that it was a core trait. Needless to say, I knew that converting to PF was going to require thorough comprehension of the rules, and likely overruling of many.
Then there was the arguments over diety-less clerics and unaligned paladins and I realized I wasn't going to figure out just how far the bunghole d20 fantasy had gone without seeing RAW myself.
End result: Whitelists are good and nip a lot of problems in the bud. I find players that roll with the dice are better than ones that insist on starting Nat19+1. I personally don't find them of any value whatsoever beyond optimization.
I still randomly reward players based on their play quirks, sometimes inventing new stuff like Smart Ass (roll ALL trained knowledge skills as a standard action). I typically also allow one extra skill point per level specifically for a Knowledge or Profession skill relevant to their class, since I want them to engage with those skills a little more often than they're used to.
Swashies are a lot like fighters, albeit a little lighter on the armor up front. Dodging and Riposte are pretty solid defensive items available early on, and the manipulations expand as the class levels up. It, however, is not a damage dealer on the level of a flanking rogue or a levelled caster. In terms described, they're more an Anvil being flashy and drawing attention. They also get more skill points than fighters, rounding them out a lot more.
Investigators primary functions are in "Knowing things" and "Seeing Things". They can make 'called shots' (studied strike) and deal damage along the lines of the rogue in combat, but their special function is better classified as 'Skill:KNOW EVERYTHING' which can help the party form better tactical approaches against enemies without metagaming. They make pretty effective Arms without necessarily "adding numbers" to the party.
I'm thinking swashbuckler. You'll be a good anvil to pair off with the Magus, but still have a wealth of combat options to be something other than a spellmonkey. You'll stand up better in a fight than the Investigator, but may still be able to present yourself as a better 'face man' for the battletoads behind you.
I'd otherwise suggest an Investigator, since you're dealing again with a pile of spellmonkeys who have to be walked down the street by the hand, and don't have the common sense to knock on a door if you want to be let in. Not nearly as combat intensive, you're just there for the show and as a general distraction in combat when there aren't "Things to See. Things to Know." When there are, you're the front-liner. Solid 'face man' territory, you'll be the 'gentle touch' who can just walk up, ask nicely, and generally open doors the easy way. GM'ing this is both a nuisance and a blessing. There's someone to notice all the details, but also are a living Meta when it comes to 'unrecognized monster' encounters.
Bard is interesting territory, but this is more if you want to be a little less utilitarian, and a lot more flamboyance. Again, good 'face man' territory here with a lot of versatility, just more wiggle-fingers than the Investigator and less sword-swishing than the swashbuckler.
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
I have to disagree with putting in more work than they did to deal with this problem. Max out opponent HP, sure. Tack on a couple extra HD, fine. There are better ways than breaking down and just becoming one of them.
The only characters a GM should ever have to 'min/max' are BBEG's, high profile NPC's, and the Enforcers ("GM's personal law-enforcment PK squad").
For starters, enforce the per-day rule. There is no 8-hour cop-out. On top of that, 8 hours is a long time to get noticed and if they've got only one guy on watch, there's still a good chance that BadThings can happen and interrupt their 'recharge period'. If they're in town, there may not be ANYBODY watching their backs, or bags.
If you're putting them up against BBEG vampire, you're doing something wrong. If you're up against the BBEG vampire, a half dozen of his vampire thralls, and 12-20 ghouls, ghasts, and other nasties, then you're probably in the right boat. If they're all making grapple attempts, you're TOTALLY on MY boat. If they're being dragged into holes and separated from one another, you are my idol.
There is no RAW solution for munchkins, so prepare for some offroad DM'ing
First, increase party level by 2, reduce XP/Loot rewards by 1. Eg, if they're level 8, challenge them as if they were APL 10, reward them as if they fought a CR7.
This shouldn't result in a risky increase in difficulty, and the cutback in wealth should, in the long run, leverage their 'metaskills' against their 'item power' and hopefully bring some level of balance back into play.
If it's still pretty bad, increase the APL by another level (don't drop rewards further). Make them do more with less until they hit a good equilibrium.
The other thing you should do is play monsters smarter. Many of them should not charge unto death, leveraging ranged ambushes, difficult/impassable terrain, hard cover, or otherwise not always being within charging distance. Hobgoblins and kobolds should be the worst things ever to try and assault on home turf, with lock offs and murder holes everywhere.
BBEG's should never be within first-round attacking distance of the party, ever, and should never be blithely unaware of their presence. They should be behind numbers of bodyguards designed to punish boss-blitzers along with an entourage so that even the back-line casters should have things to worry about than just casting Fireball on top of the boss 'cause the blitzing fighter "can take the hit".
Vampires and a number of LE baddies love to gloat, but if you've got a hairtrigger party, make them use dominated proxies to gloat/monologue in their stead.
This probably should have been first on my list, but if you want to give a party a challenge, employ 4+ monsters of lower CR, rather than a single higher CR. Make them use takedown tactics. Animals should flank, trip, and make grapple attempts in pack maneuvers. Give them max HP instead of average. I can do -evil- things with large packs of Krenshar to an APL 5 party that I can't do with a hydra, like trip the wizard and drag him into the bushes where he can't see to target others or four-way-flank a melee character.
Last but not least keep a "CyberPsycho Squad" on hand for dealing with totally berserk parties. Every GM should have deathsquads of L16+ Magus & Inquisitors, just in case players go off the deep end. You don't need to kill everyone. Just a few. Again, only for last ditch players that have just totally done messed up to the point where there would be a 'preferably dead' warrant put out for them.
If booting the player is not practical or something the group doesn't want to do long term, I suggest smaller, less intense sessions for just the other players that lets them play around without worrying about someone bending the tracks.
This may mean either starting 'early' or at some other time inconvenient for him, or having a second day for them to dig around the game without someone trying to roll for initiative or get arrested.
How I handle it is that the knowledge check is just a matter of, at a minimum, knowing the name of the critter and any attacks of some legend, such as dragon having a breath attack or a Vampire's draining bite. Only Reds are renowned for fire breath, other types, not-so-forthcoming.
Higher results on the die roll will reveal piecemeal information, starting with the most general, like whether it's an undead, abberation, outsider, etc, and perhaps a more dangerous capability, like Behir's breath attack or swallow whole
Even with a good knowledge check, I will cherry pick what they remember on the spot unless it's an extraordinarily good check result. Like a single immunity, vulnerability, or attack vector (like mind-affecting). In 3.x I had fun results when I told a cleric that an iron golem was affected by electricity and fire, but I didn't tell which was a vulnerability and which was the boost. Invariably, he dropped a triple-meta fire strike and made the fight much more interesting and cinematic, yet still not near TPK territory.
It's important to give the players a helpful leg up without simply handing them the monster manual entry. Some things, like Undead, are well known to be vulnerable to holy magic and positive energy, so that goes without saying. Recognizing some obscure horror is undead and not an aberration, monsterous humanoid, or outsider is frequently another matter entirely.
People are probably going to generally comprehend, without the need for a check, common humanoids like goblins, orcs, giants, etc. Krenshar, Behir, most outsiders, and a number of obscure powerful undead are going to be tougher to identify, and thus have a scope limited to skill/memory. These are usually not metagaming problems
Personally, I'd just consider the circle a formality of the process. Dealing with outsiders is a fickle thing, and unless you've established some kind of 'working relationship' with a particular outsider you trust above all else, it's safer to keep that circle up in case they decide to say 'no thanks" and go do their own thing. Outsiders tend to be surprisingly infexible, and even a Good aligned one on the loose can be incredibly disruptive.
This sounds terrible, both as a situation to be walking into as a new player, and as a kind of game being run by a newbie DM.
Run! These are not the friends you are looking for!
Strike 1: Newbie DM running a medium-to-high level game off the cuff
I don't know how to make this red flag bigger. I really don't!
The easiest way, at the start of the game, lay out what CAN be played that you are ready to incorporate into the world. Some players may balk, but the players you want are the people who stay and play.
My homebrew dates back to when I first played AD&D as a newbie GM on OpenRPG, and every game I ran, a lot of them one-offs, went into cobbling together something bigger. One of the legacies of this is a small continent, and restricted race availability due to how I had built the world and just how big a newbie I was at the time.
I've had to loosen the nuts in adapting from 2E to 3.X (which was a lot more diverse), and I'm doing it again in the latest evolutions into PF. 10 years of sporadic development, but it's still the same game world, and all the old territories, npc's, and unfinished campaign devices exist.
It's not a world built from PF RAW, but one that's been adapted to it, so there's going a lot that doesn't line up. This is different than, say, Golarion, which was designed from the ground up around the the unmitigated orgy of everyone-having-babies-with-everyone to allow everyone to jump in with whatever, and the buffet of rapidly released mechanics that didn't even exist conceptually back when I started world building. It's put pressure on me to incorporate many of them somehow, as either evolutions of the game world or having simply been there the whole time. In some cases, some content just doesn't exist or have room to. In others, it filled gaps I needed.
In my case, I can take the gaps between incomplete campaign attempts (historically seperate, but canon in some fashion) and make the world flex with new content, but I still have to say 'No' to a lot of things that may contradict precedent or larger narratives, and I am up front about it.
Nothing wrong with crafting an item with a family crest, a seal, or even an inscription. Such gifts (which they usually are) are usually commissioned work on top of the value of the item, not an item value reduction.
Aligned weapons are not really something that would be just cranked out. While valid RAW, I find it more appropriate to tie Aligned weapons to being made by strongly aligned creators (priest crafted), or having been indelibly associated with strongly aligned acts (such as an enchanted executioners axe becoming lawful aligned after several generations of use), or associated with an aligned outsider.
Otherwise, you could pretty much say it's illegal to enchant Chaotic or Evil weapons since they are, by design, intended to harm law enforcement and civilians if they are that easily created.
And, to respond. A smart trader walks up to a wizard and offers a business deal to split the profit margin if the Wizard makes a bunch of enchanted weapons, the trader will handle finding buyers. The wizard gets an up-front profit margin and may sell off 5 times as many swords at half the profit margin, getting him more in sales than if he just sat on the stock. The trader now has valuables to ply his trade and take them to known adventurer hubs where he can hawk the wares and espouse the virtues of his products, including those swords. The better the tradesmen's reputation, the faster the swords sell.
He may even cue the Wizard into making enchanted Guisarme Volge's because of rumors of a blossoming conflict, and these reach weapons are suddenly in fashion since they're wielded by many of the elite guardsmen. The tradesman keeps the enchanter up to speed on trends so that he doesn't spend time making things that won't sell as well, further earning his keep and strengthening the business relationship. Perhaps the tradesman, and by proxy, the enchanter build a reputation. Now suddenly the enchanter is in demand!
The other wizard? He's still sitting on that one sword he made last year. That tradesman? He's running around with his pack-goat going "Hey, how's that sword holding up? Check this one out, it's on fire! Interested?"
It's late for me too, mind if I take the pass? o.o
I'll run the game as best as my adapatations can keep up. I prefer to keep the rules as close to RAW as possible. Characters that start at level 1 are easy to maintain, even when I throw in custom gear of no computable value.
It's the characters that come in at higher levels and are issued a blank check. That's where things get rowdy in terms of what players try to get away with, I've found. Not just PF, but old 3.x as well.
There's a lot of expansion material I still want to incorporate, but it's also making it difficult to ensure that my challenges are appropriate when players are given free access to over-adapt. Very simply, someone utters the word 'Vampire', and suddenly there are super soakers, garden hoses, and two dozen very confused diplo-charmed low level clerics tasked with blessing a thousand-gallon tank of water in the back of a wagon.
This may be a non-RAW example, but a general idea of how a few thousand gold and a blank check to buy anything can unhinge significant challenges. I would honestly allow this out of amusement, but may impede the process of planting the next hooks.
CheatYaMaximus saw you as a sucker and a newcomer, and you bit a 10kgp scam. He's not planning on seeing you again, he has enough regular business (or regular suckers) satisfied with his work to keep in business, and so far nobody's noticed the sell-and-steal game.
RPG games typically hand-wave artisan quality and gives everything a generic quantification. It also generally assumes honesty in the seller and competancy in the crafter. In reality, both of these factor in, as well as their ability to market their skills, which can generate sales despite being a lower quality. In business, you can compete (honestly) in either price, quality, or service. Successful businesses focus on one of these.
Just like how you have two gas stations across the street from one another, one selling gas for 3 cents higher, yet there are still cars being filled up on both sides. Maybe the 'higher price' is more convenient, maybe it's a higher quality, maybe their customers are convinced of one or the other. Maybe one still has a guy that runs out and cleans your window for you.
More economics.. yay. Now I gotta stab something.
Natan Linggod 327 wrote:
Allow me to introduce you to Microsoft, Nvidia, AMD, Intel, ATI. Their products are sold to manufacturers (chips and OS) who incorporate that into their own designs and effectively 'resell' their suppliers' product plus their own.
Allow me to also introduce you to most American car dealerships. MSRP is the manufacturer suggested profit margin. Dealerships may be associated with multiple auto manufacturers, but they aren't run by them in many cases. Dealers resell multiple different brands of cars they purchased from the manufacturers, and also resell used cars.
Tradesmen routinely buy up items or have business deals with crafter A (and B, C, and probably more) and move them to places where these items can demand a price. This works for both the manufacturer, who is able to routinely sell products to sustain a living, as well as the trader, who gets a profit in the resale. That's how Amazon works, friends! They don't make ANY of that stuff themselves!
The question stands, who plays by what rules?
Should players playing by RAW *expect* the 75% rule to be in play, and challenge a GM that 'did the homework' and fully inventoried the settlements?
-If not, is the GM supposed to present this facade that items not available in the town failed the check, and may become available within the week?
-Is the GM obligated to provide player-desired quantities of items that he planned to be available in fixed quantities within an immediate time frame?
Shortcuts for GMs are a good thing, since it can help manage and maintain 'worlds in progress' and handwave attention to detail, but it's another thing when GM Shortcuts are built as Player Rules.
97. The only available seats are next to the toilet. Roll fortitude or be sickened.
98. While sleeping in the common room, a drunk cuddles you through the night.
99. You hear a series of dares and goads from a table nearby. Before you know it, a drunkard leaps on your table stark naked and starts dancing.
100. Three nerds with sticks leap through the door, and are promptly mocked into leaving.
101. Everyone in the tavern is already passed out except one person amidst a pile of beer and a very happy bartender amidst a mountain of emptied kegs and bottles. The party missed the party.
102. The animal companion of a nearby adventurer insists on crop-dusting, humping, or bumping the chair out from under a member of the party.
103. You find a full sized, stuffed effigy of a woman in your bed at the Inn. The Innkeep doesn't find this unusual.
104. The party discovers the tavern/bar doesn't serve alcohol.
Bonus. One end of the bar of a brand-new tavern appears to have been fireproofed. Discolored thin metal plates adorn the floor and bar accompanied by a sturdy iron stool. The party can sometimes find the sorcerer proprietess sitting there, drinking flaming shots. The party can inquire and discover she decided to buy the property after having burned it down twice. Visits to this bar have a one in ten chance (each) of it actively burning, burnt down, or being rebuilt.
This does remind me of many stories of 'duct-taped wands'.
I see no problem in holding multiple wands, however, proper activation probably requires a firm grip of a single wand, just like how proper use of a weapon requires a firm grip on a single weapon.
I'm pretty sure that's how it would be formally adjudicated. I'm sure someone with better page-flipping skills will correct me shortly. I'm not seeing anything RAW that goes either way in saying how many wands you can hold in one hand at a time yet.
The paladin shouldn't be making this decision in a vacuum. The party should weigh in and that should determine what happens. the NG's and CG's would push for the no-kill option, which should settle this matter almost immediately.
If the group is more heavily Lawful aligned, the kill option becomes more probable since the inclination to protect the nearby settlements and the risk to potential adopters may outweigh the 'saving babies'. Practicality vs idealism in this case.
If the party leans more TN/CN, someone should just tell the Paladin to take a short walk to think about it, and spare their buddy for something a little more heroic than cheap morality stunts.
The fine art of conversation is a lost one to many it seems. When given a choice between a business/estate and a magi-*STAB*ROB*RUN*
"I swear he was a vampire."
And so ends the life of an old NPC in a rocking chair willing to give the party the time of day, just because he sat in the shade.
AD&D Full plate cost anywhere from 4,000-10,000gp! 30,000gp for a +1
I don't miss THAC0, backwards math is bad.
The problem I most frequently encounter, is right around the 'golden levels' around 8-15, it starts to become possible where it is extraordinarily difficult to keep players in line. It's where a lot of builds fill out, and it's fun to see, but it's also where players start growing a pair to see what they can get away with. I like clever, but I don't like interruptions like murderfacing NPC's on the suspicion (valid or not) that he might be a BBEG at some point. I've since learned to keep new NPC's at least 80' or more away from the party whenever possible, which I find to be a not-good-thing to have learned.
Maybe I'm just still resistant to the new scalings, where there are now suddenly magicmarts in every village stocking CLW potions like redbull, and people walking around with iSwords and eBags, yet is still supposed to be medieval fantasy (admittely, perhaps evolving into more steampunk fantasy, but.. VILLAGE! HAMLET! HORSES!)
Sure, I like to take it down to a bit more 'old school' where I can still make people sweat with giant ants in a ruleset where hydras are considered speed bumps. Oh, and that's a 1 CR difference between the two now. O.o another discussion.
My game world had to adapt from AD&D to 3.X, which was a welcome and easy change. Pathfinder, I've come to realize, has a higher level of octane in the gas tank, and it's making me work harder to maintain pacing where at one point being level 5 meant you were the town badass. A wizard went from "Nerd with stick" to "Professorial Artillery" in that span if he didn't get hit with a stiff breeze.
The settlement creation rules just seem to be lacking heavily, and what little is written supports the 'bottomless, infinite, full-spectrum availability' argument.
Once the players ask "Where's the nearest metropolis", you know you're in trouble.
The only solution, as stated by Kestral287...
"Once you control their gold supply you can control their available items..."
...is learning how to properly itemize adventure rewards.
And yes, I got rid of a post where I caught myself having processed the context rules incorrectly.
Some Yokel thought it'd be a good idea to:
Sadly, I hearken back to the AD&D days, and the thought of every level 2 running around with a thousand gold in their pockets makes me just want to sit on my rocking chair and ponder medieval fantasy inflation. Just rock back and forth. People used to have copper coins back then y'know. Back and forth. Where did electrum coins go? Zzzzz.
I agree. You can make anything horrifying. For example. I have, and can, scared people with small rocks. I f'k you not. Rocks.
As the players go about, they'll undoubtedly be rolling perception to find all the little goodies you find laying about. Among them, simply mention ".. and a rock." Just one. They'll make note of it.
Whenever they do their easter egg hunt again, add, ".. and a rock." It can be a small. round, palm sized rock of no particular significance, just laying on the floor.
Eventually, this rock will receive scrutiny. If they ask if it's the same rock, respond "you can't tell" or "Maybe". Investigation reveals no alignment, magic, life, undeath. It's just "A rock."
Things will get freaky for them real fast if they decide to 'mark' the rock. The next rock they find will also have this mark. This may be an entirely different part of the world. This rock will continue to appear off and on when they make a 'room exploration' perception check. You have them hooked now and can cut back on the frequency of when this rock appears. From time to time, when they do their easter-egg hunt check, cue the return of "...and a rock."
If they destroy this rock, they find two rocks, both with the same marking. If they keep destroying these rocks, take this to Blair Witch territory where they start seeing these rocks everywhere, in small piles, on benches, hanging by moss from the ceiling. Perhaps a natural stone section of wall has a large 'mark' on it. it becomes something they immediately notice upon entering rooms, or perhaps appears in places where it wasn't a moment earlier.
Don't overplay it too fast. This should proceed over the course of several sessions. If they start getting freaked out, have these marked rocks pop up in even more unlikely places, like on shelves, on their pillows in Inns, on bars, in holy water fonts in temples. Wherever. If they look for it specifically, it's probably not there unless they already found one.
If there are NPC's around, nobody finds this strange, or there's some perfectly plausible explanation. Maybe there's one sitting on the throne when the King isn't sitting in it. Just let this rock screw with players and have fun with it. :)
I'm also incredibly confused about why your players aren't making Spellcraft checks to /identify/ all the loot with special powers that you're dropping but that's a separate thing.
I do a lot of unconventional things because nothing turns me into a bigger hipster than a Longsword +1, and I like using this to add some extra curiosity to pique player interest in the oddities I lay about.
One was just simply a set of spring-loaded metal (adamantine) wrist claws that gave a sizable bonus to climbing and some minor unarmed-attack melee damage. I'll be honest. He loved those damn things so much he was spider-manning though dungeons and leaping on iron golems trying to rip it apart. This was the ranger, and they weren't even magical!
Another was the 'pet rock' the Rogue adopted because he was convinced it was stalking him.
I have a large number of adventures, contingents, and storylines all going simultaneously in my world. Most importantly. I have had to deal with the lawyers, the munchkins, the 'broken builds'.
I want the players to be comfortable and not offended when I say "no". If I feel that the item in question would reduce the importance or value of other players in the party, or would significantly trivialize adventures I have planned in the future, then I want to be able to say "No" and for it to not be out of place.
I find a reasonable level of item control to be the easiest way to prevent players from feeling above their challenges. We all have stories of the guy pulling the surprise "CALLEDSHOTTOTHEFACE".
Reduced shop availablity means the challenge is on me to seed things to find within the adventures themselves, which I'm happy to do, and I do crazy stuff that the rules simply can't sustain, and people have fun.
It is the only hedge against Squirt Gun Wars and other GM vs Players arms-races that puts strain on everyone.
I'll delete the massive essay response and summarize briefly. I've been GM'ing for a long time, so I know how to tune my challenges.
"As a GM. I run my world, not the players. The players are allowed to control the narrative through their characters actions according to the rules governing their actions, but everything else is the GM's right and rule.
The Game Masters' guide is for the Game Master, not the players, and it only contains suggestions and framework to assist the building of my world.
The players have only one requirement: Play by the rules, have fun.
The game doesn't break down if the GM is clever in his challenges and not out to run "Level 1 epic battle tournament" as a campaign idea.
The Haversack is probably the prime example of one of the first "I MUST GET THIS NAOW" items players clamour for. These items should be seeded into the game, not the shops. Maybe it's not the same name. Maybe the functionality is slightly different? Same item, slightly different.
DM's shouldn't also be shoving rolls of gold coins up the rectums of giant rats and other creatures that have no plausible means or reason to be carrying 'liquid wealth', and almost always seem to be encountered in or within immediate proximity to their home/lair/nest/stash/chest with their name on it in big glowing magic letters above it.
As a point, I keep liquid wealth to a minimum for starters, and if the fighter wants to scoff at a +1 dwarven hammer because he wants to be a crit-monkey, that's his problem. He'll take the loss in selling it and finding whatever exotic weapon he's pre-destined himself for, and miss out on the other stuff that hammer could do that I never quite bothered to tell the party about yet.
Maybe there's a large wealth vaccuum that needs to be filled because they're working a little too undergeared for my liking. I don't toss them a diseased dragon on death's door. I give them an adventure, and they may stumble on a mine, or some other form of material business venture. I make them =play=, and they'll be rewarded. If they go "Well, that's nice. When do I roll initiative?", their loss, sadly.
Pathfinder is really, really liberal about the availability of magic items. DM's are also really, really lazy when it comes to getting bowled over by Walmart players who won't do anything until they get their +1 fiery icy freezing weapon that acid upgrade.
Pathfinder says that a "Small Town", small town, mind you, as in, sleepy Canadian farm town.. has 500gp base, 2,500gp max, 3rd level spells, 2-8 minor magical items above base and 1-4 medium above base available.
Lazy DM's don't figure out what those 'items' are, and let player walk all over them shopping for things, citing things the rules don't say, like not having all 3rd level spells available. Or It's a small town, there has to be one spellcaster who can cast 3rd level spells to enchant my adamantine phallus to +1
DM's also get lazy and let players have casual access to large cities and Metropolis', which is pretty much free reign to buy whatever they want at any given time if the DM doesn't keep a chokehold on availability, and when something it's available, it's the players calling him out on breaking the rules.
The first thing a DM *should* do is:
2. Determine whether the person who sells magic doodads is just a trader or an actual wizard.
3. Determine if there is even a fully-leveled wizard associated with the town, and whether or not he would give the party the time of day.
4. Consider that many items with charges may have been 'previously used' and not come fully charged. There is no compulsion for a spellcaster vendor to know or be honest about this.
5. Consider that traders dealing in "Majik Itemz" may try to hawk off fake or cursed items to the players instead of what they asked for if it's of a similar description. Consider Spellcasters who don't like the party for being pushy or an1noying to give them scrolls of faulty or nonfunctional spells.
Double post, but this one is VERY involved and may be a bit of reading.
It also shouldn't be put anywhere near a paladin, or anyone who is sensitive to piles of F-bombs. Be prepared for one hell of an NPC.
Bertrand the Smith
Years after being razed by snakemen five years earlier, the party enters the what-was-old-is-new frontier village. Among the first NPC's the party meets is Bertrand, the smith, and only survivor from the razing.
Bertrand (NE), a muscular smith with a short chain about his neck, is the literally the foulest, meanest person on earth you can possibly enact. He has nothing nice to say about anything, and will F-bomb nearly every sentence, make crude analogies, and generally refer to the party as walking sacks of sh**. However, somewhere snuck amid his beratements, he'll let drop that he'll make things for the party if they bring him the materials. And he will!
Anyone 'messing' with Bertrands' belongings at the smithy invariably and inevitably has their skulls caved in and their corpse thrown in the quenching water, and Bertrand will continue work unabated. In fact, to head off this, I encourage a shallow grave nearby with the name F***ker crudely etched in it.
I encourage the DM running Bertrand to come up with inventive and helpful gear, and ensure that Bertrand continues to be a character of interest. Once supplied with Mythril, Bertrand will begin work on Bertrand's Blade.
When the party recieves Bertrand's Blade, he will vanish when nobody is looking. Investigation in the smithy will reveal a chest of snakeman bones (whole and finely powdered), and the village foreman will point them to where he thinks Bertrand's home was. It's a ways off and Bertrand was always working, so nobody's really been out that way before.
At the smiths' former home, they will find an old, burnt down building. Inside are the bones of an adult and child, and outside, the remains of an adult, chained by the neck to the outside of the house. The snakemen chained the door of his home shut, with him tied by the neck on the outside, before burning him and his family alive. Bertrand wasn't a survivor, he was a revenant.
The blade is his legacy, and all of his anger. It's not a nice F'kn blade.
Bertrand's blade is an ash-white bastard sword of mythril infused with powdered snakeman bones. Motifs of snake skeletons run the length of the blade, the hilt is wrapped in chains, which hang loosely about the crossguard. This sword is every bit as angry and venomously bitter as its creator, and takes care to handle properly. In its default state, treat the blade as a +1 Mythril Bastard Sword, strongly Evil aligned.
Bertrand's Blade behaves differently depending on its situation, and imparts different sensations to its wielder.
vs Snakemen - Rage - The weapon's enhancement bonus increases to +4, and inflicts 2 points of Level Drain (DC22) against Snakemen. One for the wife. One for the kid.
vs Reptiles - Hatred - Bertrand's Blade is more than a little racist, and becomes a Bane weapon against reptiles or creatures with reptile qualities.
Targeted - Offended - If the sword is specifically targeted by an enemy (spell, sunder, disarm) or is targeted by an Identify Item spell, the effort fails, and the sword becomes an Acid (1d6) weapon, and deals 1d6 acid damage to any object the blade touches for 1 minute.
Divine - Rejection - Bertrand's Blade rejects all forms of divine augmentation. Holy/Unholy water boils off without ever touching the blade.
Fire - Comfort - If deliberately heated or exposed to at least 10 points of magical fire, the blade becomes a Fiery weapon, dealing 1d6 fire damage on a successful strike. As with the Acid effect, the wielder does not control this enchantment and any objects touched by the blade suffer 1d6 fire damage as well, and risk being set on fire. This continues until the blade is quenched in fluid.
Note: This is probably best considered something of an artifact weapon, but its unpredictability and rejection to being identified makes it seem like a fun toy to let loose. The players shouldn't be aware they're completing this quest, so there's always the risk they'll forget about the foul-mouthed blacksmith before thinking about bringing him some special materials.
A few stories I've used in my homebrew that, to this day, have yet to be resolved by any group :(
A player character is a noble that lost their family and possessions during a recent war, and what remains of the estate is being claimed by some other noble, leaving the character destitute save for their starting gear. The 'other noble' turns out to be not only a vampire, but also the players' great grandfather, and only finds this out while sent on a vampire hunt by a third party. Needless to say, offers are made when the vampire discovers this, and the question of what the player is willing to do to regain what was lost is presented.
An infamous villain is wanted not only by law enforcement, but is being hunted by his former guild. One of the player-characters is secretly given a backstory element and connections as an informant for that guild, and there's a lot of money on the line for tip-offs. The party is fed leads while following other adventures, while the informant likely passes information off to the guild. The party meets confrontation at some points, or are beaten to the punch in others (whether tipoffs are made or not). The end result is a three-way confrontation, with options along the way for a shift between the 'official manhunt' to the 'underworld manhunt'.
The leader of a thieves guilds' daughter has gone missing years ago, along with a valuable possession, after eloping (and invariably evading pursuit). The party is later tipped off to the trail of the husband, who has recently resurfaced alone. The daughter winds up imprisoned somewhere with the valuable.. which happens to be a powerful relic very much desired by church and kingdom. The question is: whose favor does the party curry by returning the artifact, should they succeed in retrieving it? That, and whose ire is gained when she doesn't want to go back to her family?
A powerful necromancer has become obsessed with meddling with bloodlines, seeking to combine the hereditary traits of naturally opposing Outsiders to obtain a more powerful result. A player with Outsider heritage or special bloodline is abducted, tortured, and experimented upon while the rest of the party mounts a rescue... only to find the player dead. However, a clone and successful experiment, is found nearby. The player must now contend with a one-notch forced alignment shift depending on the Outsider he was 'spliced' against and an interesting set of additional abilities. The question remains of who was backing this research. (I'm actually still trying to hash out an NPC named 'Lillith', literally a portmanteau of Lillend and Marilith, if you need an idea of what this guy is doing)
There's more cogs spinning in the backgrounds of my little game world, but these are some of the bigger ones that have been pursued, and added to the histories of abandoned heroism.
Mending or Make Whole may very well repair physical damage such as torn flesh and broken bones, and I could legitimately warrant that it could work to stabilize a person providing all their parts are present, albeit very painfully.
I would rule it doesn't, however, remedy blood loss, and it certainly doesn't dull pain or heal bruising, so there's no actual HP gain in the process, but it'll be better than letting someone bleed out from a lost leg.
All the persons parts have to be present, of course.
The problem I have with the hydra is.. well.. it's dumb as a dog turd, and usually played dumb as a dog turd.
A hydra is a g#&-d$*n vicious critter if it hits and submerges over and over, taking even a few rounds to regenerate body hp and multiply its heads, then Pounce starting movement from below the water's surface.
A hydra played away from the waterline better be a much stronger hydra, the CR4 version is better played in a favorable environment.
If you want a more dangerous hydra, either hit and run to regenerate, or have it take serious objection to the first yokel who chucks fire at him and do an overrun to the back line. Yeah, he's got 5 heads, he saw you do that, Fishstick-fingers. Now you're gonna wiggle a skid mark while it overruns the front line to eat you. Pounce+Overrun is valid in a single round if it makes that maneuver check.
What is pathetic is that a Huge creature has less strength than your average fighter.
It's not so much a monster, so much as an oddity item.. but it's a critter.
A short backstory, I had a VERY paranoid rogue. Virtually every round, turn, room, bend, or five foot step, he would roll perception. Out of sheer boredom of this, I simply responded "You see a rock."
Everytime he rolled and there was nothing to see, i'd simply tell him "You see a rock."
He became suspicious, and leery. "Is this the same rock?"
"You can't tell."
A few hours later. "You see a rock."
This is enough to freak out just about any player by itself, but he was a good sport and one of my better players. I decided, on the fly, that it was a tiny, amorphous metal-based critter with the ability to imbue metal items with the properties of other metals or low level enchants that it has touched before.
Suffice to say, he was thrilled to have a new pet rock.
extreme stat dumpers can be easy to deal with from a DM standpoint, and they'll fix that s+$* fast. They should be dealt with as soon as inconveniently possible.
There are entire arsenals of stat-draining things, not the least of which is Bestow Curse (which is permenant). Once your character drops below 3 in Int/Wis/Cha, the DM should be asking to hold on to your sheet for you. You're done for now. Things are better for physical stats, but the consequences are pretty straightforward.
The big things to remember as a DM:
Do this, and you're well on your way to keeping your players in check, and hopefully a fun ride as long as you're not a vindictive a@@+@~%.
Remorhaz's and a few other monsters are DM tools for punishing parties. Rust monsters are often too obvious. Behir are in this category too.
Mark Hoover wrote:
You have to start training them to think this way. If you're adopting this mid-campaign, this is a bit harder. Don't force them to roll anything, but simply ask 'So does anyone have XXX skill? No? okay...".
They should notice a very, very, very sharp drop in their rewards for running an adventure, because you've pretty much relocated half their stuff into interaction checks. They may become perturbed and start perma-Detect and stuff for the next adventure. Keep denying them easy stuff, and keep asking for knowledge, appraisal, or proffession checks and looking disappointed. When confronted, simply let them know. "Remember that blah-blah, and that blah-blah? And that time I asked if anyone had an Appraise skill? Your stuff was there. You just lacked the talent, knowledge, and skills to see it." Suggest a few ranks in a profession or appraise, and maybe a few relevant items for the next time they level up. Reward that.
If you ask for these skills, hopefully, someone will at least have the Appraise skill. If so, you're lucky. This will suddenly start to pay off, and they'll start using it more, and you can graciously suggest different skill checks for it. They'll get the idea once they whiff that suddenly those 'useless' profession skills will net them money if they investigate their surroundings.
This requires some special tuning on your part. You're the only one who knows what these items are worth, and you should keep them secret until they start looking for buyers. Get an idea of how much of this stuff they're finding in general, and increase their worth appropriately so that they start keeping pace.
Basic greed should steer them in the right direction once they get a whiff of where and how the money is hidden. Maybe what they find isn't money, but a story hook instead. Now things get interesting. Apply this sparingly. Too many hooks and not enough bait and people stop biting the bait.
Use details in these items and the environment descriptions to help tell a story of 'what once was' in the case of old construction, ruins, dungeons, and the like. Use these details to form questions. Perhaps they find an old deserted dwarven outpost. Use the details to build questions like 'why are they gone' and 'why where they here'.
Give players plenty of quiet time to contend with hazards and traps laid in their wake to mull over these things, and avoid extensive combat-heavy engagements until after these things have had time to settle in. Keep it light in terms of direct combat, but not totally out of character. Once they have something important in their heads or hands, then it's time to turn up the heat.
He's min-maxed, therefore stupid and easily manipulated. Force cage trap. He'll walk blindly forward in any open space to close distance with your BBEG.
I had to deal with a regenerating weretiger monk that decided to go off on his own and try to blitz a fortress and the results were satisfactory. No saving throw required.
Never take a munchkin head on and play his game, and instead capitalize on the sacrifices he made in his decision to Numbers his way out of situations.
Capture him, strip him, and make his friends decide if he's worth saving. Let him play with your BBEG in the end so that he's not completely left out, but let it serve as a reminder that you can and will take him with mooks alone.
If he's stat-dumped, Greater Bestow Curse. If you bring his int or wisdom below 3, he's unplayable.
Another option is to "DM fail" his rolls for a disease he may have unwittingly contracted at some point, and begin inflicting the penalties at an inopportune time. He won't know what's going on until properly diagnosed.
This is a DM to DM reminder: Never tell your players the DC of challenges or saving throws. You reserve the right to overrule the save, silently.
rogue/slayer/hunter, all with max stealth, invisibility ring, couple other fancy magical items,
the best way to fight a mage, is to get the drop on them.
If you're dealing with a theorycrafter player, you can't always count on getting into melee range, but the principle is correct. No matter the approach, the best chance for winning is in the surprise round.
The problem with dealing with spellcasters is, well, spells, and there's no conventional way to deal with that without wielding the same. My class of choice are Eldritch Knights.
spellcasters are PITA theorycrafters, but in reality it just takes a surprise round and a fair shot at a Polymorph and Admonishing Ray if you want them alive.
In fact, any 'mage hunter' should probably invest in methods and ways to bring spellcasters' primary stats down as close to 10 as possible. Bestow Curse is a pretty easy way to bring a spellcaster to heel with a 6 point permanent stat drop out of the gate. Good advice for any DM having to contend with out of control Wizards without having to wait for them to do something cosmically stupid (wish bending)
Pound for pound, this is just a Divination version of Haste, trading the multiple/other target option for a little better AC and scaling attack bonus.
4th level, Divination, and condense the text a bit to just admit it's a variant of Haste. It's a combat buff spell, War domain if you want divine access.
I would even go so far as to say it's 3rd level, since it's probably a pound better to have an entire Hasted party, but the Insight bonus is straight-up Divination in nature, and combat isn't Divination's strong point, hence the extra level on it.
8 str and 8 con. Unless there's some supernatural power, she has no muscle mass and really looks like she could use a cheeseburger. She's not moving a couch across a room without considerable effort, forget about lifting her own weight over her head.
Looks alone would be 14 cha, only lower if she's socially inept or has 'issues' dealing with people. She'd probably get more than one free drink at a pub before she opened her mouth.
You can't tell Wis and Int by looking. You also actually can't tell Dex by looking, since even someone of apparent grace can still be a total butterfinger, and even a muscular person in heavy armor can have surprising reflexes and sense of self-position.
You also can't tell Con above 10, since there's no way to really tell the difference between 'healthy' and 'vibrantly resilient'. If she didn't look almost bulemic I'd cut her the 10.
If you're going by japanese RPG standards or teen-boy standards, she's straight 18-20's across the board with an AC of 20+.