Devis

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In your opening post you hint at an interesting idea... gods vs. the outsiders that serve them. Like the story of Lucifer and his rebel angels turning against God (check out Paradise Lost for inspiration). Or like the the Greek Olympian gods overthrowing their predecessors the titans.

Maybe society has been gradually turning away from religion and turning towards technology/arcane magic. It reaches a point that the benevolent gods and the evil gods agree that the sentient races of the world are irredeemably flawed. Good and evil deities alike form a pact to cleanse the world of all life and begin anew. Their servants, the various outsiders, deal more directly with the peoples of the world and more invested in it. The good outsiders want to see the various humanoids who have remained faithful rewarded, and to keep up their good works. The evil outsiders have invested too much of their power in building up cults of humanoid followers and forming pacts with humanoid spell-casters. If the gods can so quickly turn on the mortals, who's to say the outsiders won't be next. Reluctantly the greatest of the good outsiders and the evil outsiders band together to declare war on the gods and to save mankind/elfkind/orckind/etc.

PCs would of course be caught in the middle, probably siding with the outsiders, and the outsiders' ultimate goal might be to ascend to godhood and replace the deities they destroy.


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Darkholme, I pretty much +1 your entire list. However rather than rules for quick-generating minions, I'd prefer a full array of pre-generated monsters for every level. One of the things that bugs me about pathfinder is how often they present tools for the GM to build his own version of something that almost ever GM wants, instead of just building it for him. Town stats and townsfolk for example.


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When I first read the Pathfinder core rule book, I was in love. That love sustains me when I see something I don't like in one of the supplemental splat books because worst case scenario, I can ignore any and all splat and run a very satisfactory core game.

Core 5th edition, seems like a bare-bones launching platform predicated on high levels of dependency on future splat books.

Pathfinder's chief weakness to me is a ho-hum GM book. They deliberately made it un-core, and it feels very unessential. In most cases, as a GM its something that costs me time to implement instead of saving me time by offering solutions to things that crop up while playing/world building. 3.0 and 3.5 had great DMGs, where pathfinder has an adequate DMG packed into its core rule book, with additional DM themed splat books for DM's who want to invest more time in optional sub systems.

So, I'll reserve my ultimate judgement until I see a 5th edition DMG.

That said, I take exception with the notion that the higher levels of complexity in Pathfinder's character options somehow curtails the freedom granted by free-form imagination imposed on a bare-bones rules set. Pathfinder's complexity is usually pretty modular for both GMs and players. Want a simple hack and slash dungeon crawl? The rules make it intuitive to run one. Want to take your game out of the dungeon into high concept intrigue and social adventure, great you have the tools to transition seamlessly. Want to play a rule's light character concept that manifests himself through roleplaying instead of feats and skill picks? Great, pick a character class, make a general build, and bring him to life at the table. Want your character to have very specific mechanic abilities to match the concept? Great, spend another hour or two combing through character options. Dependency on crunchy rules is generally up to the players and GM, but having them there gives you the option to use them when you need them. Rules-light systems are restricted by not having crunchy options when you need them.

I don't want complex rules or simple rules... I want good rules. Good rules create balanced mechanics to easily resolve the questions that arise from the gaming groups' collective creativity, while minimizing the tax on the GM's time, and ultimately providing a fun an challenging game. Bare-bones systems run the danger of devolving into "the GM's story-telling hour" while crunchier systems run the danger of devolving into table-top war gaming. Pathfinder leans toward the crunchy end of the spectrum, but all in all I'd say its imperfect rules are holistically the best ones I've encountered. To get me to play something else, it needs to fill a niche better than something else. I'm not sure 5th edition fills the rules-light niche better than fourth edition.


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I'm a GM, so that's how I see things.

Pro
1. Human variable stat bump--Demi humans 2 up 1 down.
2. Cmd/Cmb
3. Polymorph
4. Infinite Cantrips
5. No XP costs for anything = I'm able to just set a current level for the party and increase it between adventures as I see fit. Yay no more incentivizing XP grinding. Yay no more having to keep up with experience math. Yay! No more worrying if the badguys I pick to challenge my power gaming parties will just make them more powerful. This easily doable house rule puts me in control without adversely interacting with the rest of the game system.
6. Drows, Hobgoblins, etc. with no Level Adjustment.
7. Cleric Channel (So much more useful than turn undead and simpler to boot)
8. The death of the prestige class.
9. The fluff of sorcerer bloodlines.
10. The flexibility of the single cost per rank spell system.
11. Druids got a good nerfing.

Con

1. The absence of an online npc character generator that allows me to designate a race, class levels, and alignment and then spits me out a stat block with vaguely intelligent feat, equipment, and spell selections. I had several of these options for 3.X, and it made my life 5000 times easier as a GM.

2. NPCs take FOREVER to generate in bulk after level 2.

3. Favored Class Bonus. I loved this at first. But after playing the system for a year, I find that it is just one more layer of character complexity that makes the game worse by allowing characters to erase their weaknesses and all look the same. It is especially bad because it highlights two of the systems worst class balance problems and makes them worse. It takes the only drawback of being a mage- squshiness, and largely lets you erase it with a bunch of free hitpoints (as if the d6 wasn't enough). Then it takes the games crappiest class, the Rogue, and let's anyone have a whole bunch of what makes them special: skills

4. The Splat Books. Specifically Ultimate Combat and APG. I don't mind Ultimate Magic, because it's so bad that there is nothing in there I'd ever want to use. The APG and Ultimate Combat entice me into hours of trying to separate the little flecks of gold from the piles of steaming filth. They are so very far beneath the standards set by the Core Rulebook that it can be disorienting. Granted, most of the material in the core rulebooks has been playtested and improved upon for decades by hundreds of players and designers, while the stuff in the splat was just pulled out of thin air by Paizo in the last 2-3 years on a deadline, but sadly that is exactly how it reads, and how it plays.

5. The Golgarion/AP centric paradigm. I run my own games that I generate, and set in Eberron. I hear that the AP's and PFS are top noch if you're into that sort of thing, and I don't doubt it, but I get the impression that they are not particularly concerned with making my life easier as a GM, because they think I'm using their Adventure Paths.

6. Traits. I thought these sounded like a great way of letting the players flesh out their characters, with some harmless little background perks. Turns out they are another layer of poorly balanced rules bloat that have added no additional flavor to the PCs, but have become central to several of their builds.

7. Class Skills mean NOTHING. Fighter- never dies in combat. Wizard- can control the entire universe by Lv 5. Cleric- never dies in combat AND controls the entire universe by level 5. Rogue- gets twice as many +3 bonuses to underpowered skills that everyone can access as the Cleric does.

8. Combined super skills, mean that classes with few skill points never notice that they have few skill points, further exacerbating the nerfiness of the rouge class. This is of course further exacerbated by the favored class thing that gives everyone as many additional skill points as they need.

9. Too many spells outshine skills and make rogues irrelevant.

10. Spellcaster>Warrior>Skill User

11. Monks either suck or use some poorly balanced splatbook mechanics that break/slow down my game. There is no middle ground.

12. Spell blasters still kinda suck.

13. Trip is a little OP. Giving a few more options to prone characters would help.

14. Too many cut & paste artifacts from 3.5 and awkward rules seams where they changed something without rewriting

15. Transmutation and Conjuration are still, individually the only school you'll ever need.

16. The 'Over Haul' of the spell system is underwhelming.

17. Clerics are still a little OP, though I admit they are less so than in 3.5

18. Christmas Tree effect, made worse by the fact that the rules imply unfettered market access to any magic item the players can afford.

19. Archetypes. I liked them at first... until I saw them in action a while. Want to give up a well designed special ability that the party is depending on someone of your class to have, to get a poorly designed special ability that lets you narrowly over specialize? Choose an archetype. Or, alternately: Want to let your players give up a useless class ability that they were never going to use for an over powered ability they are going to use 10 times a session? Choose an archetype.

20. The mechanics of the Sorcerer bloodlines are super under powered, especially when you compare them with their divine counter part, the Oracle.


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I agree with Treant Monk in theory... just like I believe all sorts of politically correct things about men and women... in theory. I know some men that like to watch emotional dramas (myself included), and some women who don't. But time and again, I've found that if I want to watch an emotional drama, usually my guy friends aren't going to enjoy it. Men get sports, multiple choice, and commitment issues. Women get shoes, Elton John, and maternal instincts. Obviously these are just crude generalizations, with enough exceptions to them that the rule should probably just be thrown out, but it's difficult to give up these biases when they are so frequently reinforced by experience.

Sadly, a lot of us have found by experience that MOST players who exhibit a strong inclination toward min/maxing are less inclined toward several different traits that some people describe with the phrase 'role-playing' focused, for lack of a better word, whether you define that as story-driven, cinematicly inclined, psycho-dramatic characterization focused, social-interaction focused, etc. etc. I personally have even found that some players who are skilled and enthusiastic power-gamers, are among the best roleplayers in these other ways as well. However, I've also observed that those player's power gaming instincts are often at odds with their role-playing motives. The most imaginative and dramatic roleplayer in my group, often seems to be torn between what he wants his character to do in the story, and what he knows the mathmatical odds of success dictate he should do. Some sessions it gets the best of him, and his role playing seems to take a hit as he uses immersion-breaking tactics or character building options to maximize his odds of success. In fact it seems rare for him to be a good role-player and a good power-gamer on the same day. Which is fine with me because there's room for all kinds.

So does all this mean that my hardcore feminist friends shouldn't chide me for calling my emotional dramas 'chick flicks'? No, they're probably right to chide me. And Treeant Monk is probably right to chide us for talking about 'roleplaying' versus 'power gaming'. However, when folks like myself slip up, and refer to the observable dichotomy in our games, it's a little naive for others to just shout "Stormwind Fallacy!" and act like they don't know where we're coming from.


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Firstly, I'd just like to say, I'm pleased to have started a thread that got people passionately citing 1st/2nd edition rules at one another. You don't see enough of that.

I think main reason that armor vs. weapon rules were not used more universally was just their placement in the book. When me and my friends were teaching ourselves the system, if we wanted to know what a longsword did, we flipped to the equipment chapter, not the combat chapter. By the time we noticed the armor vs. weapon rules, we were already used to doing it without so it seemed like too much trouble for too little pay off. Plus we were coming off of the non-advanced old school D&D, which I don't believe used these rules, so we thought we already knew how combat worked. Add to it that the D&D computer games seldom if ever mentioned these rules, and it was pretty easy to just not know about them or pretend they weren't there.

If you want to check out a system with a hardcore commitment to weapon/armor simulation, I recommend finding an old copy or PDF of the Rolemaster book called Arms Law. They gave each weapon its own 150 line table with a separate column for each weapon type. Once you determined the initial result of an attak, if it was a critical, you were referred to a separate critical table (slashing/piercing/crushing/etc.) which was a 100 line table with 5 columns for 5 different levels of crit severity. Each result on this table specifically described the result of your attack, extra damage, wounding, auto-kills, bleeding, stun, etc.

All I want is a vague nod to simulation for all of the pathfinder weapons, and for all of them to have a meaningful niche in the game. And for it to be perfectly balanced. And for my favorite weapons to be super awesome. Hmmm. Maybe I have unreasonable expectations. Still... I want what I want.


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I'm a pretty treacherous GM with my NPCs so I have some experience here. First off, by default, players naturally distrust NPC's because they are being controlled by the GM, and they know intrinsically that there is a line of separation between this character and the other characters in the party. If you really want this kind of thing to work you, need patience. Expect the party to distrust them from the start, and then work to gain their trust. Throw some combats out there and let the new NPC take some risks to help the party. Let him come to the rescue. Then in another encounter put him in danger and let the party come to his rescue. If someone in the party is particularly vocal about distrusting him, have him strive to impress that character. Make the player feel like his character's being a D-bag and the NPC is kindly and patiently turning the other cheek. Build up a history where the party doesn't just trust him, they WANT to trust him. Once he's been around a little while if you can casually win a few gestures of trust from the party you'll know your on the right track: for example, when camping ask the party if they're setting up watches. Have the npc offer to take the watch with the most vulnerable character or if possible a watch by himself, and then either have him faithfully help out in an encounter on that watch, or let the night pass smoothly without him trying anything. Once you've laid down some ground work, the betrayal isn't just more of a surprise, its more of a betrayal.

That said, if you spam this, it becomes more and more impossible to get the party to trust any NPCs. That's where you make it a point to pick a bunch of NPC's that you don't ever plan on betraying the party. If 1/3 of the friendly NPCs a party meets are traitors, then expect lots of dead NPCs who never even got the chance to lie. But if 1/10 of the helpful NPC's are traitors, then its not really worth it for the party to be overly suspicious.

Also, if you find that you've broken the party's NPC trust beyond a point where you are satisfied, just use more tricks. Come up with some situations that turn their mistrust against them. Make an NPC look really suspicious, then when the party turns against him, produce incontrovertible proof that his intentions were good, and create consequences for their aggression on him. Make it a world where PC's learn that they have to judge each NPC individually, and treachery is neither precluded or guaranteed.

Finally, make your traitors believable. If someone is hired by the enemy to specifically infiltrate their group, determine in advance what his intentions are and have him act on those intentions. If he has been instructed to lead the party into an ambush, then that's why he's hanging out with them, and that's why he doesn't just kill them in their sleep. If however, he is operating on his own and is simply waiting for an ideal time to attack the party when their guard is down, killing them in their sleep would make perfect sense, and it would be stupid for him to reveal his true nature when everyone was fully equipped and ready to go. If he intends to infiltrate and betray the party, but he seems to form real attachment to one of the characters, then make it possible for him to change his mind. Think about who he is, why he's doing what he's doing and how he feels about the situation he's in. If the party feels that the treachery itself doesn't make sense, then they don't just start to mistrust the character, they mistrust the plot. And once your in that boat don't be surprised when the party starts attacking the plot with swords.


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The Lamia Monsters from Final Fantasy 4


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My initial reaction is that the book is a maddening mix of gold and garbage (as opposed to UM which is mainly just garbage). Will give it some time, but as a DM, I'm really not looking forward to painstakingly looking at everything on every page and deciding which third to alter, which third to keep, and which third to toss out, and then having to frustrate my players when I decide the awesome new class they bought the book for isn't allowed in my game. Plus I don't trust myself to not overlook something like a broken combo, and I'm now far passed the point where I trust Paizo to do it for me.

Gold:

Katanas and Waks. There was a lot of thoughtful debate on these forums on how these should be rendered, and I think they got it just right. For the historically accurate cult of the western knight, the katana now does equal damage to its western counterpart, and less than the bastard sword. For the historically accurate cult of the samurai, the weapon does more criticals like its curved edge should, and using them with 2 hands like you're supposed to is still a valid option, the extra damage synergizes with the giant crit range. For the "ZOMG katanas are teh ultimatez ... gimme one fer each hand" 14-year-old-anime-crowd, you are still able to wield them 1 handed, and they have the mechanically negligible but flufftastically awesome "Deadly" special ability. And its all tucked nicely under the exotic proficiency for game balance and fluff. Plus, finally it is physically possible to make a cheap, lower quality katana. It always bothered me that all katanas always had to be masterwork, always.

Gladiators: Net feats are cool. Performance stuff looks cool at first glance, but I haven't looked through it too much.

Primitive weapons: Haven't thoroughly examined it, but it looks cool, and a little bit less gimped than 2nd edition's attempt at primitive weapons.

Martial Arts: Some of it looks, cool. Mainly the stances. Of course half the book seems to be taken up by martial arts so I haven't fully absorbed it all.

Dragoon: Good compromise allowing a lot of the Final Fantasy flavor, without the anime, keeping the suspension of disbelief more or less in tact.

Archaeologist: Indi! This should be renamed "adventurer" and it should take the bard's place as a base class (I say this as someone who loves bards before all other character classes). Bards are such a specifically flavored class, filling such a generally generic role that they'd make a great archetype off of something more flavor-neutral like this. Though not sure why this is in the combat book, and they should really have tweaked the spell selection and class skills a little. Why is Indiana Jones throwing around Sound Burst like Guile from street fighter instead of getting disable device as a class skill?

Feats: First glance through the feats looks like they did a good job. For instance, I just read the whip feats and they're pretty golden.

Garbage:

Sloppiness: There are already threads up with tons of typos and other mistakes. I can live with OBVIOUS typos (begrudgingly), but what I can't handle is having to second guess the intent of every rule and mechanic. The wording is frequently vague, mistake ridden, and lazy. Further, they continue the fine pathfinder tradition of pretending that complicated rules collisions are sufficiently cleared up in previous books, so they can just refer you back and it will be clear how the new rule should be resolved. This saves the space they could have used to explicitly reiterate relevant rules and errata when they introduce something new.

Eastern Weapons: Aside from historical quibbling which others are doing far better than I ever could, I'm immediately annoyed with the game balance of the Nodachi. It is an Elven Curve Blade, that you don't have to burn a feat on. Clear and simple power creep. Because the first new martial weapon I looked at was clearly broken, I'm forced to rule them all as exotic weapons, for the time being, which of course makes me look like a miserly GM to my players, because the book spells out a separate group that is exotic.

Butterfly Swords: A d4... seriously? A gunslinger can wallop me with a rusty blunderbuss for 1d10, but if Kano hits me with his 5 inch WIDE razor-sharp buttefly sword, I'm no worse off than if a drunk stabs me with a broken bottle. I know its petty to quibble with a single weapon, but how do these do the same damage as daggers. Have they ever seen these things? They're short, but massive. They're basically Knife-Shaped Axes. If the Falcata gets the coveted 18-20x3, these guys should certainly get it. Or give them a +1 when attacking with 2 of them. Or something better, than the only special thing they get- you can draw them together. In real life, they actually aren't even especially easy to draw together, because the handguards require specific placing of your hands, where as a pair of short swords could be grabbed from any angle. This is just a sore spot for me because I played Kano a lot in Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, and grew fond of these weapons.

Ninjas: Aside from the CHA based problem I and other have, which has been amply voiced in other threads, these guys are hella broken. Why would anyone play a rogue when they could be a ninja:

-WEAPONS:
Rogue-I've got a rapier, prepare to eat d6
Ninja-Prepare to eat d8 and groovy special maneuvers... I've got a Katana, and a nunchaku, and a kusarigama, and...

-EVASION/KI POOL-
Rogue- I can survive a fireball!
Ninja-I can move 20 additional feet when I need to!
Rogue-I can survive a fireball!
Ninja:I can jump like a monk!
Rogue-I can survive a fireball!
Ninja- I can get a +4 to stealth when I need I it.
Rogue-I can survive a fireball!
Ninja-I can make extra attacks at no penalty!
10 levels Later...
Ninja- Dang, I can do all of this crazy stuff almost as often as I want, this is the ability that keeps on giving!
Rouge-I can survive a fireball! And my reflex save is invincible... oh no, I rolled a 1 and didn't survive the fireball...
1 level and a resurrection spell later...
Rogue-I can survive a fireball!!!
Ninja-Enough already! I'm going to take the damn evasion ninja trick just to shut you up... now with my equal reflex bonus, I can survive a fireball just as good as you.
Rogue-Fine, then I'll take the Ki Pool Rogue talent and I'll be just as good as... hey how come my Ki Pool is so much smaller than yours... and why can't I use it to make extra attacks...

-TALENTS/TRICKS- Ninja- I can pick any of your rogue talents as a ninja trick! Rogue- I can pick any of your ninja tricks as a rogue talent... except that I won't have the Ki necessary to use it, unless I spend an additional rogue talent to get the lame version of your Ki Pool...

-POISON USE/TRAP FINDING-
Rogue- Yay... I finally came out infinitesimally ahead on one of these matchups! I'm good at traps, I'm good at traps!
Ninja- Poison Use is nice, but fine I'll let you have this one.

-TRAP SENSE/NO TRACE-
Rogue- I'm trap proof, and I'm going to keep getting more and more trap proof as I level... except for magic traps that target my will/fort... they'll completely destroy me.
Ninja- So, what else is new? We both already have a good dex and good reflex saves... besides I thought you were good at traps... how often are you going to benefit from TRAP SENSE if you're using TRAP FINDING.
Oh look what I got... I'm untrackable, so that's cool. Oh, and I'm a master of disguise. Oh, and I'm king of opposed stealth checks whatever the hell those are... But go ahead and keep pluggin away at those traps... you're good at traps.

-LEVEL 6-
Rogue-Wow, Santa left a rogue talent and +2 Trap sense in my stocking!
Ninja-Awesome dude, yeah he put a Ninja Talent and +2 No Trace in my stocking, then I looked under the tree and found Light Steps- its a super versatile and useful ability that I'll benefit from until I'm level 20- it let's me get passed difficult terrain, which as you know is starting to become a major pain because all of those mid-level battlefield control spells the casters are starting to use. Plus, whenever you're not around to do the traps, I can just walk through them like they're not there. And I can walk on water like Jesus. And I can walk on lava like... well I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who can do that. And I can walk on pretty much anything else. Anyway... what did he leave for you under the tree?
Rogue-... ... ... new socks and undies...
Ninja- Aw that sucks dude.

Well I'm getting tired of complaining about the bad parts of this book and I haven't even mentioned the gunslinger yet so I'll wrap it up. I really don't want to be pessimistic about the future of Pathfinder, but this is the 3rd splatbook in a row that I've given a perfectly fair and optimistic shake to, and I'm starting to lose faith. If another good fantasy RPG popped up, attempting to carry-on the mantle of 3.5, I'd jump on it in a second.


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I played with a guy who by no means meant to be disruptive, but his reasoning skills were so sub-par that they frequently caused problems for DM and fellow player alike.

At one point, 5 minutes into a new campaign the party was speaking to a town guard who offered to give them directions. The player's response "I'd like to join the thieve's guild. Do you know where it is?"


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I've been looking at the forums and reading through the Core Rulebook and the Beastiary to get some clarification, but I haven't found it.

Are animal companions ever assumed to gain reach upon becoming large? A number of companions in the core rulebook and the bestiary advance to large size when the Druid is 4th/7th level. None of these have reach listed as a benefit of advancing.

According to the official ruling on the FAQ, the companion doesn't get any racial benefits not explicitly listed in the animal's companion benefits section. One might say that this applies to the reach that's listed for the animal, but not in its companion abilities section, therefore no reach for the companion. However, if that's the case then can we assume the same about the 10 foot spacing associated with an animal's size? How about the attack and AC penalties for being large? If we don't assume some of the traits that go along with being large, what is the point of the animal advancing in size?

I realize a large animal would only get's reach if it is Large(tall) and not if it is Large(long). However, I have found no explicit indicator of rather or not an animal type is inherently long or tall. If this were made explicit, I would have no question: tall large animals get reach, long ones do not- and all other size adjustments would apply.

I can see two ways of determining long vs. tall:

Method one: common sense. An ape stands on two legs so it is tall, a wolf stands on four so it is long. This method breaks down however when the animals are of less familiar shapes. Would a pteradon animal companion get reach with its 7th level advancement? Does anyone know rather pteradon's stood upright? Should the DM have to consult wikipedia to make a ruling that will significantly impact the player's combat abilities? Also what about a large constrictor snake? One could argue that a snake big enough to occupy 10 square feet would be able to reach atleast as well as an ape when it is coiled up.

Method two: check the statted out version of the animal in the beastiary. The problems here are that 1) many of the stated out versions are an even larger size than large, so it seems wonky to base a decision off of, and 2)many of these are counter intuitive. For example, while the apes listed seem to be treated as large-tall, so does the stegasaurus and the ankylosauros(both four legged types, though I could see the tail attack adding to the reach). And then there's the Elasmosaurus. It is a huge creature, which should translate to 15 foot reach if it is tall. However it has 20 foot reach. Should a dm therefore assume that there is an implied 15 foot reach for a large version of the animal?

I'm aware that these problems can easily be houseruled away, but I wanted to make other animal companions that are well balanced to the one's in the bestiary and core rulebook, so I need to know how much combat ability the designers intended for these creature. Please let me know if there's a simple paragraph or something in the book that I've missed that clears this up.

thx