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Aniuś the Talewise wrote:

I am that player. I'm autistic and I also have really bad adhd, so I forget stuff, my attention drifts and I lose my train of thought a lot. I also have at least two other players with learning disabilities. One of them has dyscalculia and literally can't do math.

Your three minute rule sounds useful, although in my case I might extend it to 5 minutes, see how that works out and adjust accordingly.
My group also plays over skype chat and, an online tabletop software.
EDIT: On second thought, I might just keep it 3, see how well that works out, and...

The compromise is that the have 2 minutes to talk through and clarify what went before and start their actions, then 3 minutes to complete.

To be clear, it isn't done to penalise, but in a table with 7 players around, it's no fun for anyone to only get one turn every 30 minutes at best. So it gets players to think before their turn, or graciously defer to the next player (a little like readying an action) to keep the action going.

The notepads help for the subsequent sessions too as I'm often keeping track of three different simultaneous parties- not recommended for this old DM with fading powers of recollection.

Aniuś the Talewise wrote:
As for the problem of players dominating the game, I will certainly keep that in mind. A friend of mine (who also plays the dwarf) has a GM trick in which he will ask the players in order what they are going to do. I will use that since otherwise I have noticed that players have a habit of talking over each other. Since one of the players has a very quiet mic, that could pose a problem and I don't want any players to feel talked over or left out.

This is a problem I've had with a player. In everyone else's turn he's asking questions about things that happened during his last turn, and yet on his next turn he hasn't used the intervening time to plan his next action. It gets at least one player at the table frustrated.

I am instigating an egg timer and notepad rule.

On your turn you get three minutes maximum. That should be more than enough time. After your turn is up, if you have further questions you write them down and raise them immediately before your three minutes. If your questions are important enough to be dealt with before your next turn, then you need to be raising them in your three minutes. There is leeway in it- if for instance two players want to share 6 minutes- but as my party are often separated it's not fair for the half orc wizard adventuring down the mine interrupts the turn of the charlatan who is halfway up the outside of a tower three miles away.

Hmm wrote:

We've talked about worldbuilding, but let's touch on the most challenging aspect of sandbox games -- motivating your players to do stuff.

In most of the sandbox games I've played or gm'ed, there are one or two players that dominate and lead the game because they tend to be the only ones with ideas, and the only ones who initiate.

You are going to want to have some mechanism to bring everyone in to certain adventure plots. One of the problems with having the PCs be slaves is that slaves who escape are not going to want to go to the Capitol where they were being dragged. They are going to want to go in another direction entirely.

One way to possibly bring them all back together would depend on how they are being organized. Are they going to be a mercenary group, that takes on assignments / challenges / tasks?

I love the conceit of Pathfinder Society games that all the players are agents on assignment, because it can get you in the adventure quickly. What mechanisms are you going to use to get your players into adventure if they become mired down, indecisive or unwilling to initiate their own investigations into your plot hooks?


My problem is the exact opposite. I have six or seven players in my sandbox, and they're all invested... just not in the same plot hook at the same time. Keeping the party together? Oh, I've given up on that.

On the problem of getting freed slaves to go to the slavers' capital, a strong narrative reason should be relatively easy. They have freed themselves but their queen or some legendary fighter remains a captive perhaps? Maybe they have to find some piece of jewellery that they have to sling at a volcano.

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Here's the start of my sandbox town if anyone wants a look. It contains about 20% of what I have written up so far, and I'm still writing, so a long way to go.

There are loads more photographs, maps and illustrations still to be added, but hey, I'm a busy man.

Scott Wilhelm wrote:

I have noticed a lot of fantasy writers use their fantasy races to express their own racial prejudices: take a look at some Robert Howard books, and you will see what I mean. It's out-of-genre, but if you mention Robert Howard, you have to mention HP Lovecraft. The inbred New England family that degenerated into a race of man-eating mole people, the fishing village that began having sexual relations with a race of sea monster people, and the narrative found out that he was one of those half-breeds. Poor Arthur Jermyn who immolated himself when he found out that is mysterious Great Grandmother was one of a race of White Gorillas from the Congo.

And while I hesitate to paint Tolkein as racist, he did have a way of just declaring that some people were better than other people. Elves were just a superior race. Orcs were nothing fecund and vicious people who were barely people at all. Aragorn wasn't some regular, base human, he was among the last of the ancient line of Numinoreans, that mighty seafaring empire that was destroyed by its own hubris. He wasn't making a big deal out of it, but I get the distinct sense that Tokein was watching the might of his own mighty, seafaring island empire fade into memory as they are forced to play kingmaker, choosing which of the warring peoples will establish the next great empire, guiding them a little as his own empire gracefully diminishes.

And how many of our fantasy heroes have destroyed "evil books?" In my world, burning books is something Nazis do! And in my book, there is no such thing as forbidden knowledge that humans should not know. But that happens a lot in fantasy worlds!

A lot of gamers think nothing of the casual racism and and acts of violence justified by their prejudicial hatred. I have seen plenty of Paladins and Clerics using deadly force against someone for no other reason than "he performed an evil act," or "she's a lich." In my own life, I have known quite a few evil people, and I have not killed a single one of them. And I just...

Some excellent insights there. I use much of that credo in my own sandbox town, where all actions have consequences, the politics is never quite black and white, and the reasons why things happened are far more complex than they appear to be superficially.

Just a quickie, on my way out for a few hours, but marking to pick up later.

Generic can be good if all the GM wants is a broad brushstrokes enclave that the players are not going to spend much time in, and they want simplicity over definition.

I'm currently working on my own town (I'll pm you the URL if you're interested), and the thing I would say to others is this- if your town is for sandboxing, however much you think you'll need in your town, double it. Quadruple it even. If you're not doing it because you love worldbuilding, then reconsider, because it can be very time and energy consuming.

The players need to be invested in the town if you've any chance of them to interact with it. Get players to write up a backstory for their characters, and give individual players knowledge about the town and its characters based on their character bio. Perhaps even misinformation about characters. Not everyone will know everything about everyone, even if they live in the same town. If their character is a visitor to the town they will know less about the local politics and customs, but will perhaps know more about what is going on just outside, or in neighbouring towns.


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It's an awkward one, because players will play their characters as they've planned them to be. I remember one 3.5 game I was playing, there was a giant beating up on a dwarf. The level 1 dwarf in our party waded in to help his kin, and was promptly one-shotted. The GM was asking "Why on earth did you do that?!?!?!" Errrrr, because it's what almost any dwarf would do in that circumstance.

In my games there are always consequences for actions, and my players don't see those as punishments. If the thief breaks into the armoury and steals the captain of the guard's magic +3 breastplate of golden glitteriness, that's up to them. If they then walk around the town in broad daylight wearing it, there are likely to be consequences. It's part of an immersive game.

However, expecting a lawful good paladin to break bread with a lich is quite possibly a stretch to the paladin player's immersion. Obviously you know this, hence being here asking advice on it.

Instead of getting the hound to vouch for said lich, perhaps instead convince the paladin to gather information, assess the lich, and report back ALIVE, or the fate of thousands could be in the balance. He is much more likely to believe that as a narrative than the lich is ok to dine with and you're gods might be ok with it.

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Because I play an original sandbox setting, there are literally dozens of NPCs, and the players are free to invite any of them to join various parts of the adventure, and I will sometimes run them in game as a semi GMPC. In these cases though I try to get other players to manage their dice rolls). More commonly though the players themselves will run them (often as an alternate character if their's has become separated from the plot thread being played).

I don't like it if that NPC becomes too integral to the action in a gaming session (not the plot- that's fine, but in the plot resolution over and above the PCs), and if I feel it is going that way I'll look for ways to withdraw that character.

Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
foolsjourney wrote:

Morality is always objective.
I assume you meant 'subjective'. Otherwise I'm seriously misreading your posts. ;)

Indeed. My bad.

SultanOfAwesome wrote:
Still, using ISIS as an example to try to prop up subjective morality as a theory is poor theory-crafting, given how repulsive their actions have proven.

That is the point though, isn't it? If their actions were repulsive to everyone, well, there wouldn't be misguided people crossing the world to join up with them, surely? If they have sufficient members and armaments to control large areas of Iraq, Syria and other places and are labelling themselves as a state (and Caliphate) by which all morality is to be judged, I'm not sure how that becomes 'poor theory-crafting' just because we don't like the premise. Morality is always objective. As an example, if preemptive bombing attacks on places that support terrorism are justified, would the RAF have been justified for bombing Boston for their support of the IRA? Of course most would argue not, but there is no single universally agreed line either side of which we can all define right and wrong.

SultanOfAwesome wrote:

Partially contradicting what I said above, it is obvious that some things are evil. Unjustifiable murder, rape, pedophilia.

To those who disbelieve the notion of objective morality, do you think these things can be justified by perspective? Is it ok to rape someone or walk up and shoot them just for laughs?

Except, it's still not that simple. As you raised paedophilia, we then have the question of what is an acceptable age of consent? Even in a single country the United States, there is large variation on where the line is drawn. In some countries it goes down as low as 12. Can a 12 year old make an informed decision about such acts. Likewise, your use of the term unjustifiable murder implies that there is justifiable murder, which many will disagree with vehemently. Some states sanction executions, whereas more and more are saying it is morally unacceptable- to the point of saying State Governors are accessories to murder. Elsewhere in the world, IS will claim that they are doing God's work by executing Christians. Sunni and Shia muslims, and Roman and Protestant Christians have histories of killing one another justified by virtue of their faith.

Most agree that murder is an evil act. The problem is, we all have a different set of criteria to differentiate murder from justifiable homicide.

1. Is there a direct correlation between good/evil and law/chaos?

Not directly, though one could inform the other. For instance, if someone is lawful to the point of OCD, they may have a more clear framework into which they can view evil or good acts to their own, personal satisfaction. I think to have an understanding of which acts may be evil or good, it probably helps if your characters have an ordered criteria by which they live their life.

2. Is anything inherently or irredeemably good/evil?

In pathfinder terms, probably not. After all, it's a manufactured world with a limitless narrative, so there is always the option for the story to sway a character's, well, character.

3. Can you know how good or bad an act is without exploring the whole scenario first?

Yes. Because each act is measured on its own. There may well be other criteria that makes us choose the lesser of evils (the kill one innocent to save one hundred innocents is still murder for example) but we can only make a personal value judgement based on what we know up to this point.

4. Should the morality of a player affect their character?
5. Does the morality of a player affect their character?

Not sure how it can't. Even if they choose to play a character totally contrary to their real selves, it's still informed by their own life choices and expectations. If for example they think capital punishment is both acceptable and to be championed in real life, they're perception of in game executions would potentially be viewed differently from someone who believes state sanctioned executions are evil.

6. Does committing an evil act make you evil?

Are acts in and of themselves evil? Or is it the motives and beliefs of the perpetrator that decides whether it's evil or just misguided?
In game terms, I believe in most cases a single evil act may drag you along the axis some, but how far depends on the intent behind the act. Likewise, subsequent acts committed with increasingly less concern will move them more rapidly to that alignment.

7. Committing several evil acts in pathfinder will change your alignment to evil. How does that relate to real life? Is that an accurate portrayal of morality?

It's a very simplistic view of morality, streamlined for playability. I tend to use a much bigger grid than the simple 9 squares that the game uses to better mirror real life. In real life, morality is very personal, and evil and good are constructs that vary based on the religion, geography, social history, class and a dozen other factors dictate what we view as evil, but in many cases the perpetrator doesn't share that view. Hitler for instance is evil by most sane people's criteria, especially with the hindsight and knowledge we have, but in the mind of he and his followers they were making the world a better place and therefore the ends justified the means. It's scary that less than a century ago leaders and citizens of a civilised country could have that morality so skewed that those actively involved saw no wrong in it.

True morality can only ever be personal. What informs that personal morality can come from state, indoctrination, external values etc, but ultimately, when brushing your teeth at bedtime, there's only you in that mirror.

wraithstrike wrote:
foolsjourney wrote:

When someone who is older than 12 says 'it's not fair', I tend to stop listening.

It is fair for a DM to set the terms of engagement of a game they are running. It is fair for the player to choose not to take part in the game based on those terms.

There are 7 players in my homebrew sandbox. They regularly split the party and go and do different things, and not every avenue and NPC is fully nuanced. I doubt 6 of them would be overly happy if I stopped the game for an hour while I rolled up the NPC and their whole backstory so that 1 person can try to bluff them out of some specified potion they may or may not have about their person. So yeah, sometimes I'll say I'd rather you didn't pursue that this week, but I'll sort it for you for next time.

I set up the table. Buy the rule books and minis, and build the terrain. I populate the sandbox, invite the people to my home, feed them and facilitate the game. Damn right it's fair I have a veto on what your character has as a back story and abilities. I try to be fair, and give clear reasons why certain things may not be allowed, and am amenable to most ideas, but if I say I don't want- oh, I dunno, let's say gunslingers- I don't expect it's not fair stompyfoot pet lip. A polite 'No thanks Mike, I'll sit this game out.' will suffice.

Nobody asked about YOU. The topic is about GM's in general.

Ah, OK; if personal examples aren't welcome, then a general GM answer to the questions posed might be the same as 90% of all questions posed in Gamer Talk. "Yes. Or no. Maybe. Sometimes".

When someone who is older than 12 says 'it's not fair', I tend to stop listening.

It is fair for a DM to set the terms of engagement of a game they are running. It is fair for the player to choose not to take part in the game based on those terms.

There are 7 players in my homebrew sandbox. They regularly split the party and go and do different things, and not every avenue and NPC is fully nuanced. I doubt 6 of them would be overly happy if I stopped the game for an hour while I rolled up the NPC and their whole backstory so that 1 person can try to bluff them out of some specified potion they may or may not have about their person. So yeah, sometimes I'll say I'd rather you didn't pursue that this week, but I'll sort it for you for next time.

I set up the table. Buy the rule books and minis, and build the terrain. I populate the sandbox, invite the people to my home, feed them and facilitate the game. Damn right it's fair I have a veto on what your character has as a back story and abilities. I try to be fair, and give clear reasons why certain things may not be allowed, and am amenable to most ideas, but if I say I don't want- oh, I dunno, let's say gunslingers- I don't expect it's not fair stompyfoot pet lip. A polite 'No thanks Mike, I'll sit this game out.' will suffice.

I use maps- well, actually I use full on 3D terrain where possible and I've laid out a 6' square town centre using predominantly Dave Graffam's buildings.

The reasons are two fold. Firstly, some of my players prefer it- perhaps even need it- so they can see where all the balconies, crates, low and high roofs and the like are. I have up to eight players at a time, plus NPCs they've cohorted so it's easier for everyone to track roughly where everyone is. I say roughly, because we don't measure things precisely and we have no power gamers; it's used as a visual aid so we can get playing in the limited time we have.

Secondly though, what started out as a visual aid has become a big part of the hobby for me. I enjoy building the sandbox, working out for myself all the minutiae of the town they're playing in, and I am really enjoying it.

The town doesn't get put out most games now, because they're mostly familiar with it so can generally now navigate via language alone. If for example the rogue is intending to spend large parts of the game leaping across rooftops and sneaking through 4th floor windows she will let me know in advance and I'll set it up before they arrive.

It's also sometimes beneficial for me so that when they've gone I can review who did what, make a note of who is where and doing what, and plan the next session with less fear of forgetting something.

I won't run campaigns for this very reason. We used to run for three hours once a fortnight. Was me plus four players, two who'd never played before (but one of the two had played plenty of console equivalents so got the principles). Then another friend invited himself along, and soon there were 7/8 players, all with different experience and abilities.

Then two completely dropped out and one pretty much dropped out, turning up very, very infrequently. He's my eldest son and in his degree graduation year so can't kick him per se, but his character is now effectively an NPC cohort that the others control. Others can't be bothered to let me know their availability, have to leave early, arrive late and the usual.

The only workable thing for me is sandboxing, so maybe try that as opposed to adventure paths. Those that show can play, those that don't miss out on the adventure. Miss three in a row and your character is an NPC, because I see no reason why I should run it.

That is the cornerstone of my home game at the moment. It is loosely built around The Circus of Dr Lao, and has within it many colourful characters, heavily borrowed from mythology and literature.

Other references are the excellent KISS Psycho Circus comic book series, the sublime TV series Carnivale and other more subtle sources.

Good luck, you'll have fun building it if my experience is anything to go by.

In my games it's 4D6 drop lowest, assign how you wish. If you are unhappy, you may reroll all 6 dice. We have a character creation/campaign primer session before we begin, and all dice are rolled in front of the other players.

We play sandbox, with intelligent, world building games so the players aren't aggrieved by lower level stats. They start off as better than average in an average world and their stats reflect that- they are not yet superheroes, so don't need that 20 STR 18 DEX build.

I like that members have areas in which they don't excel. It makes our games (note: I did say our, not all) much more interesting, because they aren't just about blasting beasties and thumping thralls, and it's great to see how players play to their characters' strengths and weaknesses.

I have no aversion to the point buy, and if I was playing in someone else's game I'd happily go along with their point buy, but the system we're using works for our games just fine.

Jadeite wrote:
I still don't get why publishers try to support Facebook by hiding information there.

I hate Facebook. Despise it and all it stands for.

But I also create websites for a living, and Facebook is, quite sadly but inevitably, the fastest- some would say only- way to reach thousands of people in one go. And their friends. And their friends' friends...

And Zuckerberg...

Funny. The link you're posting clearly says his page, the hyperlink text is clearly to his page, and yet for me it goes to my own homepage. Odd.

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I have a player like that. He knew I was going to be running the game and asked to join, so I lent him the 3.5 player handbook to get a feel for the game. He came back a month later, announcing he was going to play a monk... and even bought the Pathfinder core rule book for the group too.

After several sessions and three level ups it is clear he's playing the monk alright- Friar Tuck. Complete with cassocks and 'bless you my son's. So I took his character sheet and with some fudging reskinned him as a Cleric Evangelist, printed out all his spells, powers etc.

2 years on, probably 150 hours of gaming, he still doesn't know his spells.

He is however the most punctual player, the most disappointed when gaming is cancelled, and very much engaged in the story (homebrew sandbox, and only he will remember the fine details of what went before), he has bought us the APG- he just can't work a character sheet.

The rest of the players seem happy to carry him though, so it's not too much of an issue.

I build my world fully sandbox, and adventures aren't built around CR and killing things, and there are no adventure paths. That makes things so much more flexible for me to give out free feats, skill ranks or proficiencies. I let them plan their journey in advance- as others have said, for some classes it can be necessary- but build in incentives to try other things. If the cleric picks up the longsword lying around and dispatches those foes with it, I may well give them it as a free proficiency in the next level up. If they take off their armour in order to creep into somewhere, I will give them some stealth skill points as reward for their success.

That way, they get the chance to still play their linear character exactly as they planned it, with no in game penalty, but they can choose to take chances and get some benefits that aren't gamebreaking, but are a kind of roleplaying loot.

lemeres wrote:

If we are looking at a rusted construct, I would just add in an ability that forces the staggered condition (forcing it to only a single move or standard action per round).

Then you need a removal condition for that ability- how about a large number of grease spells? Like 2 spells per hit dice? That should be enough that it would take significant resources over several days to cure.

Anyway, I am a bit 'meh' on the scythe thematically. Not only does the woodsman use an axe (which would help know, chopping wood), you also have the problem that there is a scarecrow character as well (and that would obviously have more claim to a scythe).

Last point is valid, but it's not exactly the tin woodmman per se, just something very similar thematically. The party had an earlier adventure, and they left an old farmer just before harvest, and the scythe thing ties in with that... it's more of a tin harvester to be more specific- I just want to see if they can join the dots and do the matchmaking. The tin man is more shorthand because I knew you'd all have the reference.

So thanks team, some excellent help there.

Hi all. I'm adding an NPC tin woodcutter (ie Dorothy's Tin Man) as a plot device, and using the clockwork construct rules. Possibly just a clockwork soldier with scythe, with its stats scaled back a level or three.

I was wondering how best in game to deal with it being all rusted up when first encountered? They are immune to so many of the conditions that would best cover it. Would you just disregard 'immune to fatique' or 'immune to ability drain', put it under the effects of a spell or some other condition? I don't want it to just be wound down and them to be able to simply wind it up.

It's not PFS, it doesn't have to be rules precise- narrative trumps rules precision- but it'd be nice to get it somewhere close if possible.

Any help, as ever, greatly appreciated.

I really get miffed when my players look up things mid game that their character couldn't possibly know- things like damage reduction, intrinsic abilities, the nature of wondrous items and the like. I've had to tell players to turn off their tablets/phones because, well, it's bloody rude for them to start looking things up while I'm still describing them.

If your <10 INT, <10 WIS character has seen skeletons before, or heard tell of them, then yes, putting down his trusty +4 rapier to pick up an improvised club isn't metagaming. If you as a player, having seen them before on Jason and the Argonauts does it, yes it is.

I'm always open to players suggesting we should hold up the game for 2 minutes while we discuss the application of a rule if they think I've got it wrong, or how best an in game event would play out smoothly, I encourage it. But I won't tolerate rudeness, or people spoiling the game for others out of turn just to nit pick on what they've looked up.

There's an NPC Grippli Net Adept Rogue Acrobat in my circus.

He has great fun pulling others in with his net and hitting them with a wet fish (sap). He's also proficient with the snag net if things get a little more serious.

It's funny how the lower level PC's attitude changes when they struggle to hit it, and he tangles, slaps, slips away, tumbles, AoO and more in the circus ring.

Not Duergar, but a PC in the game I run is a chaotic good goblin, and plays it well. Orphaned as a baby, found by humans at the travelling circus, he was raised totally unaware of the general behaviour and diet of his race.

It is doable, with a bit of clever backstory.

My question would be, do you get them to roll initiative in any other circumstances?

I use the initiative order for convenience throughout the game, they all roll at the start of the session (as usually there'll be no more than one combat) and that's the order the players act in until something happens that would cause it to be changed.

It's not incongruous to adapt initiative to a broader purpose than combat, but the important thing is to inform players at the outset, and to be consistent throughout. The great thing about Pathfinder is that the rules CAN be adapted quite freely, but if you are going to change something that is explicitly stated in the standard rules, then you need to be clearthat you have done so.

As a DM, there is a reason why some of those things happen. For example, the animal companion initiative step. I'd prefer the players manage their own initiative/companion, but sometime it takes them such an interminable amount of time I just get them to do all their actions in one lump so the other players don't kill him.

One of our party is a goblin engineer, which is a hybrid Archaeologist and Grenadier, with the Improvisational Equipment and Improvised Defence traits, but it'd be nice to see something a created for purpose.

She does have Engineer's Workgloves, robe of infinite twine, traveller's Anytool, a tidy toolbox (a repurposed handy haversack), and it's a fun in game character.

My current homebrew campaign has one, Wonkitu, a confectioner in the travelling Circus. None of the PCs have any reason to suspect he is anything but human, but I thought the race was a natural choice. Think it's a bit Wilder.

He is evasive, suave, cunning and a little devious.

He also has a gnome helper. An orange faced gnome. Because he's from Middle Barrow, where most people have remarkably orange faces. :-D

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wraithstrike wrote:

In the next game I run I will be using rolling, but everyone will get to use the rolls of whoever rolled the best. That way it will be fair.

Wow! You know, I never thought of that idea. Inspired.

I use dice rolls, and the players get to reroll ALL the dice if they aren't satisfied with them. Usually though there'll be one or two tasty rolls so they have to think hard before rerolling just to get rid of that one lousy 7.

To me, it depends on the type of game you as a GM run, and the important thing is just to tell the players up front the kind of game you play before they start. I play full on sandbox, and in my experience players are less likely to dump in such games as it's harder for them to predict when stat dumps will bite them on the bum.

I'm also fortunate enough to DM for a group that don't all want to be awesome megadudes out of the gate. They like the idea of their character evolving from the mundane level one townsperson to the legendary hero.

As an aside, the wild mage in my party actually asked if he could dump his wisdom as his rolls were too high for him to roleplay the character as he would have liked. Sure I said, and gave him a bonus feat for willingly dropping his wisdom by 4 and in doing so building a more appropriate character.

Ta muchly team, as ever.

Just a general clarification required, to help understand what exactly is being sacrificed by the Grenadier losing Brew Potion.

The Alchemist is capable of making a)Mutagens, b)Extracts and c)Bombs- and the write up for extracts says "Extracts are the most varied of the three. In many ways, they behave like spells in potion form, and as such their effects can be dispelled by effects like dispel magic using the alchemist's level as the caster level. Unlike potions, though, extracts can have powerful effects and duplicate spells that a potion normally could not."

So, does the Alchemist require Brew Potion to be able to make extracts?

And if not, what is the reason for Brew Potion when it appears they can do it anyway with a Craft Alchemy?

And what can a vanilla Alchemist make that a Grenadier can't?

Any help clarifying greatly appreciated.


Ta muchly.

I think I'll make her do some suitable rolls to see which books she finds, and then some linguistics rolls to see if she actually understands what she's reading. If she's successful in discerning information, I will give her some situational bonus ranks in the appropriate knowledge.

Thanks for the heads up on Carrion Crown too Cpt Kirstov, I shall try to get hold of it before we next game. :-)

Hello team.

I have a PC (rogue charlatan) who's invested highly in sense motive, bluff, diplomacy... you know, the usual. Her only knowledge ranks are in local and nobility.

She's doing some investigation on a plot device she's uncovered (it's homebrew sandbox), and she's ended the session in Bernard's Bookshop with access to a set of Spectacles of Understanding.

She is trying to finding out about a Drow. She only has the name so far, but from the family name she could potentially find out where they are from, some family history and the Demon Lord they follow.

Obviously she'll be reading books from different sources- human, elven, dwarven, which while not necessarily dishonest or untrue, they'll be written from the perspective of those races.

How would you handle it? Would she have any chance of understanding the texts about Demons with zero ranks in knowledge planes or knowledge religion? Would she have any chance of picking through historical and mythical tales?

There is a cleric, a paladin and a wild mage in the party, but she is currently separated from the party so will be doing this alone.

Bernard the NPC bookshop owner is very intelligent, though socially inept and seldom sober enough to be much help for her in her quest.

Any help appreciated.

Introduce an NPC who is not a combatant but a badass pacifist chronicler or a domesticated troll of some sort, who the party can adopt as the loot mule, and he'd be reluctant to go up against.

And yes on time economy... while he's looting it takes time, and unless he has traits/feats/class skills to the contrary he's flat footed, minuses to general perception and quite possibly prone too for the duration of his looting.

As a laugh, have something heavy fall on him and pin him, and leave him there while the rest of the party loot, eat, rest up etc.

My players tell me before the game the type of player they want to play, the backstory and wished for narrative, and I build scenarios into the sandbox around that. They will then get pseudoXP points that I alone track, and the players level up independently of each other, and get the rewards appropriate to their character.

For instance the Dwarf who's terrified of water gets a greater acknowledgment for passing their will save and crossing the river on the raft than the rest of the party.

When players are absent, they get to make the call what they want their character to be doing while the rest of the party are doing stuff. Usually they will ask another player to babysit their character for the session, but they may say their wizard will spend much of the day in the library (less XP equivalent but bonus knowledge ranks for example, or unearthing the details for another quest or plot device).

It probably helps that everyone is there to have fun, and they love exploring and role play. We did have one player who semi jokingly asked if he'd levelled up before every session, because he'd only ever played games where XP was pretty much consistent, but he adapted and now prefers the current system.

By far the best character in the campaign I'm running right now is the rogue charlatan, with STR 8.

At level 5, with the appropriate traits, feats and social class skills she doesn't HAVE to be good in combat... she's been pretty darned good at convincing the big NPC to do her fighting for her. :-D

The thing to do is to go back to your GM and find how they run their game. If it's bash, loot, level up, repeat then yeah, a charlatan rogue probably isn't going to have a rewarding game, but in sandbox games with lots of options to actually steer the whole narrative of the game, the charlatan rogue has few peers.

Whereas I go the other way- I give my players lots of opportunities to use skills and lots of potential rewards as a result. I don't like skills being too bundled, because it doesn't always make sense narratively that climb is climb is climb for example. I understand why certain skills have been rolled into one for streamlining, but I really wouldn't like it to go further, and I'd like to see acrobatics split up too.

A high dex low strength character could more easily climb the narrow beams of a building frontage with suitable hand holds than a low dex high strength build. Hauling oneself up a rope unsupported however not so.

I don't necessarily need a bigger skill list for my games, I just make a call on the fly depending on the circumstances, giving bonuses depending on other stats and skills but I can imagine the rules lawyers would have a problem with that.

Perhaps a sort of two tier system would work? Quick Skillset for those who like that, and an in depth skill list for those who want more immersive characters and NPCs.

First decide on an immediate locale, and think of two or three plot hooks.
Build a few NPCs that can have boons, help inform the narrative and give the players reason to pick up some of the hooks.

Create some history, politics for the locale, the surrounding area, and the wider area. Get your players to write a little backstory for their characters- don't make it compulsory but tell them there'll be bonuses for detail.

I only ever do sandbox- and here are my cautions, based on experience:

Sandbox parties are harder to keep together. If you don't mind this, then great- I have no problem with it- but players do have the right to pursue their individual stories, and will.

Make sure all that are playing know what to expect, because sandbox by definition has a lot more social interaction and if Geoff has built an uberbarbarian of killiness, and your campaign setting isn't going to get them the game that character is geared for, they'll lose interest.

I create a mini website before my games, give them a couple of weeks to study it, offer feedback, build an appropriate character and give me a few ideas of where their characters are likely to want bite first.

Look at their character sheets and backstory, and build a few more plot hooks and NPCs that'll engage the players with their own characters.

Apportion the information on who knows who and what based on backstory, how they've allocated skill points etc- so a traveller just arriving in the town may not know that the whole town mistrusts the local mayor, and locals may not be aware of the warring outlanders' uneasy truce as they look this way. Give each of them a few pieces of the jigsaw, and enough incentive to find the box lid.

Make sure you have a dozen interchangeable encounters. You can't force the players to go into that pub you've spent two months creating and populating, but they can have that encounter in the town square or at a ramshackle encampment they stumble upon.

shallowsoul wrote:
foolsjourney wrote:

I'd make the game so it's less dependent on just killing everything that moves and have better rewards for those players with more interest in role play interaction than just combat oriented.

As a DM, you could do this yourself. You really don't need rules for assigning XP for other things.

Oh, I do. All of my games have a huge element of this in them.

But if it was more inherent in the rules system, less people on boards like this would insist how crap some of the more social skill builds are. There'd be less assertion that GMs who have in game consequences for in game actions are nasty men who no play fair.

So yeah, I'd like to see a whole chapter in the written, published rules that in some way legitimise that as a style of play so less people on boards consistently tell us we're having fun wrong.

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I'd make the game so it's less dependent on just killing everything that moves and have better rewards for those players with more interest in role play interaction than just combat oriented.

I'd have more realistic, incremental rules for taking damage and falling prone during combat. It has always seemed illogical that a huge barbarian with a mega axehammer of doom can take all but one hit point off something, and it stays on its feet, then one slap later and it's unconscious.

Try Dundjinni. I have got loads from there.

There would probably be a constable and a magistrate, to keep order.
A bank manager, to safeguard the town's coin.
Perhaps a principle land owner, from whom many rent their homes- probably the laird of the manor.
If it's a feudal area, there may be a small standing guard or voluntary militia, so the captain of the guard would have influence.

Mojorat wrote:
Or just read the ring which explains it only helps part PFS th skill.

Not helpful. Before advising to 'just read the ring', just read the original post.

As I said way back in the original post, I know what the description of the ring says in the book. The ring gives a bonus on high/long jumps. That's understood. I also knew that the acrobatics was split into distinct parts. I didn't even doubt that until someone else brought it up in a subsequent post.

The question is what differentiates passing through the threatened square as per Acrobatics and leaping over its occupant, as per Acrobatics jumping high/long.

My player, who has never read/played AD&D, and won't be going on here, the PRD, D20pfsrd, or any other online source, has asked where it says about tumbling in the official core rulebook. And of course it doesn't specifically.

The more helpful members have helped me deal with it when it comes up next session. To those I offer my thanks.

kinevon wrote:

The acrobatics check to avoid an AoO is a tumble check, not a jump check. I think Durngrun was simply pointing out that the ring applies to any attempt to jump.

You see, this is curious, because that was the case in D&D 3.5, but nowhere in the core rulebook under acrobatics and threatened squares do the words tumble, roll or any other such descriptive language apply. It simply says move through an opponent's or threatened square.

I come from a D&D background so I've been playing it as you describe- two separate checks for unhindered jumping (high or long) and 'tumbling' as we always have; I used the imagery of tumbling in the description to my players, but on closer scrutiny assuming no prior knowledge, if the PC says they are attempting to leap through said square, the rules no longer describe tumbling or rolling. They simply state 'to move through a threatened square'.

I think I shall go back to my previous ruling:

the height of a given square occupied by a small/medium creature is equal to creature height + around 2', with some modifiers based on that creature's encumbrance, armour, weapon wielded, conditions underfoot etc. The ring will only apply to jump attempts greater than that, and anything lower would be the standard acrobatics vs CMD+5.


Thanks Durngrun.

That's interesting, and great to know, as I've been reading the rules for Acrobatics differently.

My reading was that it can be used EITHER for evading an AoO when moving through a threatened or occupied square, OR for jumping high/long, and that they were distinct separate uses of the skill. When the ring description then said it applied specifically to the high/long, my reasoning was that it couldn't be applied to the jumping through a threatened or occupied square.

Wow. It's a very cheap item if it allows +5 to that too- it effectively negates the +5 to opponent's CMD. I think my player will like this news.

Ta muchly good sirs.

Thanks. That helps quite a lot.

I'm taking the abstraction of the height of s given square occupied by a small/medium creature as creature height + around 2', with some flexibility based on encumbrance, armour and weapon wielded.

Would it be unreasonable to say the ring only applies to jump attempts greater than that, and anything lower would be the standard acrobatics vs CMD+5, (and the rogue calling which she was attempting before the roll)?

We have a rogue in the party with +13 on Acrobatics, and is additionally equipped with a Ring of Jumping.

So, what constitutes high or long jumping, as per the ring's usability? If she were to attempt to jump over the enemy, say a dwarf fighter, and land immediately behind him to potentially flank, does this count as high/long, or is it just moving through a threatened square so the ring doesn't apply?

Ta in advance.

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