Warden Rogard Hammerfell

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Hi all,

From early 2019 to early 2022, our little group played a weekly game of Tyrant's Grasp. Over the course of 100+ sessions of 3-4 hours a piece, we told the story of a wildly divergent AP that brought in lore from all across the PF multiverse. Although going into any real detail would be at least a novella, I thought that it might be interesting to share at least a brief summary of what occurred.

Note: The following summary contains spoilers to not only TG, but also minor spoilers to portions of at least a half dozen other modules and APs. It also takes place in a Golarion where two other APs have occurred. Our group has been playing in the PF universe for a decade now and has quite the unique local history. If asked, I will gladly explain things in detail:

Thirty-six Days till the End of the World - A Tyrant’s Grasp recap

Part One - the beginning to the fall of Vigil.

1 Arodus 4739 - In the new nation of Veridia in the Stolen Lands (Veridia was created as a result of the Kingmaker campaign), a band of young adventurers assist the King Orla Brandywine in her unnatural sleepwalking escapades. (Content taken from “The Night March of Kalkamedes” as a way to introduce the party). At the end of the adventure, the party meets a Ghaele named Suliana and is tasked with taking an artifact - The Grace of the Last Azlanti - to Yarlzan Urgol in Lastwall. Yarlzan was one of the heroes of the Kingmaker campaign. With Orla’s blessing, the PCs agree to make the overland trek to Lastwall under the guise of a diplomatic envoy to Lastwall.

The party consists of:
Decibel Rieveres - a human female bard and resident of Roslar’s Coffer in Lastwall. She grew up in Veridia, a refugee from a massacre that happened in Roslar’s Coffer many years ago.
Nico Polio - A human male cleric in the employ of the Lastwall military. He comes from a military family long in service of Lastwall.
Rina Osi - a male tiefling paladin who grew up in Vigil among some of the leftover clerics of Aroden’s faith. He took the halfhearted teachings of Aroden so close to his heart that he somehow managed to exhibit paladin abilities even though he was following a dead god.
Cole Mishkal - a male, half-elven spellcaster and offspring of another of the Kingmaker heroes. His father disappeared several months before the start of the adventure.
Queyen - a male Vanaran monk. He exhibits the uncanny ability to annoy anyone he talks to.
Rava - a male Vanaran ranger. He is in Avistan for the first time to broaden his horizons and find adventure.

2 Arodus 4739 - The PCs leave for Lastwall, travelling overland and booking passage on a boat across Lake Encarthan.

17 Arodus 4739 - The PCs arrive at Vellumis in Lastwall. Here, they learn the direct route to the north to Vigil is unsafe to travel due to orc raids from the forest. They book passage along the river to Roslar’s Coffer to go the ‘long way around’. Nico checks in with his superiors to find that the Lastwall military is spread more than usual due to increased humanoid activity. The feeling is that Belkzen is prepping for another major push against the country.

21 Arodus 4739 - The PCs arrive in the afternoon at Roslar’s Coffer. Deci reunites with friends and family. She learns that two friends - Saisha and Frederick are to be wed in the fall. Nico reveals that this town is important to him as well - his father was slain as one of the defenders of the orc massacre here years ago. He and Rina travel to his father’s grave.
In the evening, the party dines at Deci’s aunt and uncle’s tavern. Following dinner, over tea and beer, everyone in the town is destroyed by the Tyrant’s first test of the Radiant Fire.

22 Arodus 4739 - The party awakens in the Boneyard, and escapes the shadow representation of the tomb in the Boneyard’s version of Roslar’s Coffer. Queyen is killed along the way (the player dropped out of the campaign). The remainder of the party recognize their location in the multiverse. They meet a psychopomp who explains to them how to get out of the Boneyard. They talk to the waiting spirits and learn a little bit about what happened to the town including the fact that a hooded crone was seen walking the streets the night before.

23 Arodus 4739 - The party fights its way through the Nine Eaves.

24 Arodus 4739 - The party fights its way through the Scriptorium. They meet Berthold, a ratling and adopt him. Berthold becomes interested in Rina, the Paladin and by extension, Aroden. Ms. Pedipalp manages to escape the PCs, leaving them anxious she might return later.

25 Arodus 4739 - The party fights its way through the tooth fairies’ castle, declining to give up any of their teeth in the process. After this session, the party is 4th level and several players are at least a little uncomfortable about the dark tone of the AP to this point.

26 Arodus 4739 - The party returns to the Boneyard version of Roslar’s Coffer. Deci insists on saying good-bye to the many people she knows there. She is concerned because some of the people she knows are not present in the Boneyard - specifically Saisha, Frederick and her aunt and uncle. Umble and Thoot (the psychopomps) tell them how to get out of the Boneyard. But en route, a garden blocks their path and the PCs have to fight their way through it. They meet and befriend Reedreaper - a warrior from Osirion - who allies with them. They encounter Mictena and convince her to let them pass back to Golarion. They return to Golarion to discover they each have somehow achieved a mythic tier.

27 Arodus 4739 - The party wakes up on Golarion in a ruined version of Roslar’s Coffer. They discover Saisha survived by hiding in a cellar under the barn, and that she is secretly an earth kineticist. They make their way through the town, and encounter Tuuli Kanerva, a female duskwalker sent by Pharasma with the essence taken from Queyen so that she also has a Mythic Tier (a new player joined the campaign). Deci finds and frees the bound spirits of her relatives in the town, but upon freeing them, they merge with her musical instrument - an oud. They set Frederick’s spirit free as well.

28 Arodus 4739 - The party ambushes some of the Whispering Way cultists and kill them. Rava finds a half-starved cat and adopts it as his animal companion. They find other WW cultists and manage to interrogate them for some other information including how to get out of Roslar’s Coffer.

29 Arodus 4739 - The party enters the graveyard at the southeast of town. A worm that walks, formed of partial essences of the good people who dewlled in the town greets them. The party decides that ‘Roslar’ as the WtW calls itself is not evil and allows it to leave in peace. Nico notices his father’s grave has been excavated.. possibly from within. The party grimly travels through the tomb, clearing it out. They meet Regio Polio - Nico’s father, now a graveknight. A brief conflict ensued and Regio was slain. Nico was confused, first by the ineffectual tactics his father used, second by the graveknights seeming desire to escape rather than fight and third by his father’s utterance that he was “Only following orders - like at Kassen”. Nico kept his father’s armor for cleansing.

30 Arodus 4739 - The party fought through the Bastion of Light, clearing the first floor.

31 Arodus 4739 - The party nearly died clearing the second floor of the Bastion of Light. They found two sisters, Orlava and Savenna, who were accomplices to the WW and provided the party with a wealth of information about what was happening in Roslar’s Coffer. The party took them as prisoners with the intent to return them to Vigil.
Later that evening, the party met Arazni in disguise as a hooded old crone. She urged the party to head to Vigil, report the use of the radiant fire and look for someone named Gildias.

1 Rova 4739 - The party repelled an orcish attack at a border fort north of Roslar’s Coffer. They managed a sending off to Vigil and received teleportation to the city. Once in the city they were debriefed and made a temporary base at a tavern called ‘The Shield’s Banquet’. The party debated whether to (a) hunt for Gildias, (b) investigate a Dwarven monastery to the south near Falcon’s Hollow (the location of one of the seals that keeps the WT in check) (c) investigate whether the shards of the Shattered Shield have been stolen or (d) try to convince the important people in Vigil of this new threat.

2 Rova 4739 - The party spent half a day trying to convince the important people in Vigil with little success. Rina spent part of the day touring Arodenite places. Rava spent the day sightseeing. Deci and Saisha partied. In the end they decided to visit Falcon’s Hollow and see if that seal remained intact.

3 Rova 4739 - The party arranged teleportation to Falcon’s Hollow. There they learned that the seal had, in fact, been broken years before. They relayed this information back to Vigil via sending.

4 Rova 4739 - The party solved Falcon’s Hollow’s societal problems and left as heroes. Several wondered if Aroden had returned. Rina explained that Aroden had not, but Aroden’s ideals carried weight and if people kept those ideals in their heart, it would be as if he never left.
The party also defeated a huge green dragon that was near the village. The party did not kill Thalilurirex, but subdued him and offered him his life in exchange for some future service.

5 Rova 4739 - Rina returns to Vigil and speaks to his old mentors. They confide to him that Aroden’s faith is gone, and his teachings are meaningless. Moreover, real, actual Aroden was a bit of a jerk - not much like the ideal. They have heard about Roslar’s Coffer and are leaving Vigil, rather than stay and help. Enraged, Rina resolves to leave the ‘religion’ of Aroden, but keep the idealised tenets.
Nico gets reprimanded for digging too deeply and independently into the Roslar’s Coffer problem. The investigations are starting to sow panic. Deci charms her way into a private viewing of the Shattered Shield fragments. Cole researches the history of Arazni, Aroden and knights of Ozem. Tuuli visits the high priestess of Pharasma in Vigil and learns that she has been having premonitions of the city being destroyed in fire. Rava finds a wonderful Vanaran restaurant and has a meal. He talks to a bunch of locals and learns about a system of sewers under the city - a veritable city under the city.

6 Rova 4739 - Rava discovers an entrance to the sewers. The rest of the party splits up and manages to track down several leads within the city about Gildias, the possibility of the Shattered Shield being a forgery and infiltration into the city from one of the border crossings. The group reconvenes at the sewers where they learn more about the Whispering Way from a very prescient neo-otyugh.

7 Rova 4739 - The party continues to tread through the sewers, defeating foes as they go. Some of the cultists have the markings of Seal Breakers - a sect devoted to releasing Rovagug from his prison within Golarion! They returned to the surface to learn how forgeries of the Shattered Shield were made. While travelling through the town the party were very nearly TPKed by a sneak attack from Killenbrant, but managed to escape to the church of Iomedae where they find a kindred spirit in the leader of the church - the Second Sword. Yarlzan arrives and everyone compares notes. The Seal Breakers were trying to find a way to steal the shattered shield, but they stopped right after Roslar’s Coffer was destroyed. Later, they also learned that another group did steal the shattered shield pieces and replaced them with forgeries. They party is convinced the answers lie deeper in the sewers.

8 Rova 4739 - The party finds the hidden Seal Breaker fortress underneath the city and begins to systematically go through it. They befriend Dundun, who was untrustworthy until the battle with Yosidium. Because of dice rolls, the battle goes poorly for Yosidium, and midway through the battle another blast of the Radiant Fire is unleashed - this time destroying Vigil. The PCs immediately gain a second mythic tier.
They climb their way out of several hundred feet of rubble into a ruined city. They made their way to the ruined Church of Iomedae and rescued the Second Sword and recovered several important relics. Along the way they encountered Ceto Maldera who revealed herself to be a member of the Knights of the Splinter - a radical sect of Lastwall driven to provoke a final confrontation with the WT regardless of the consequences.
The party then led a large band of refugees to the docks in a running battle through several blocks of Lastwall. The party and refugees were cornered near the docks by waves of undead. The Tyrant himself demonstrated an until now unknown connection between himself and the party, stunning the party with a psychic blast. At the last moment they were saved by Yarlzan and the remnants of the Vigil guard. Among the creatures under the WT’s control were scaeduinar - sentient denizens of the negative energy plane. What role they have in the conflict remains unknown. As the refugees escape across the river, the remnants of Vigil collapse into a giant sinkhole created by the blast, depriving the Tyrant of his instant army. As Yarlzan explains - Vigil was always a trap for the Tyrant. The city was meant to be sacrificed to give the rest of Lastwall time to respond to the threat. Thats why the undercity was hollowed out. When the river broke through into the undercity, the supports eroded away and the city was destroyed.

Coincident with the destruction of the Vigil, the seal over Gallowspire is also destroyed. The WT begins to move his forces. A raiding party of 50 high level ghasts leaves Vilyrich and heads southward. The Witchgates are re-established, trapping Ceto Malderra in the process.

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I haven't read through it all (the AP alone is 600+ pages) but from what I've seen I think I can come to some tentative conclusions.

1. The book is overall well done. It seems to follow the computer game fairly closely, which could be a plus or minus. There's a lot of content in there, so I feel confident any GM can mix and match material and still have plenty.

2. The map is problematic. The map is simply a reprint of the original AP map, hidden away in the back of the AP. The map is still not oriented with north and I don't think that they ever resolved the Stolen Lands / Brevoy / Iobaria map conflicts. On the plus side, I like how the Stolen Lands are divided into 20 sections - one for each level - with level appropriate wandering encounters for each.

3. Mivon appears to be completely ignored again (likely because it was more or less ignored in the CRPG). Again, this is a huge wasted opportunity IMHO.

4. There appears to be no Gazetteer at all in the product. I understand that we could use the 10+ year old materials from PF1, (I mean, we could have used the 1e AP in its entirety), but one major point was to flesh out those parts of the original that 10+ years of feedback had laid the groundwork for.

My honest appraisal at this point is that while the AP is well presented and organized, it falls short of the original intent of these hardback second endeavors, which is to not only present the material in a compilation, but also to expand and fill in those portions which were lacking in the original work. Instead, the new material seems to be taken almost exclusively from the CRPG. Where the CRPG filled in the missing parts well, these additions are welcome. But considering the promises throughout the dev cycle, the repeated missed dates for completion and the simple fact that this edition was less about new content and more about converting existing content (namely stat blocks, etc), the end result has to be disappointing to some degree.

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I see that Paizo is moving towards 3 book APs which cover only half the level range. I think this is a great direction to head in, but I also think that this needs to be further subdivided. Let me explain why.

The one long standing criticism about APs (which many of you are already intuitively aware of) is that there is a very difficult transition around the end of book 3 and into book 4. For whatever reason keeping the same plot with the same characters and the same BBEG is really hard to do consistently (basically twice a year). Paizo does it better than most, but even their efforts are problematic at best.
So I like to look back to the old Mystara campaign setting for guidance (really, basic D&D did SO much correctly). The "official campaign" had four distinct stages (pre-Immortals)
1. Karameikos dungeon crawls and later city crawls.
2. The Master of the Desert Nomads invasion and the Known World
3. Norworld, and understand the relationship between the empires of Thaytis and Alphatia.
4. Fighting the immortal Alphaks' plans.

Each one of those things was a campaign in itself, and you could play each one individually. They didn't really wrap into one another, either, which makes sense. It doesn't always have to be one world-ending threat (in part, because you eventually run out of threats). If anything, a single campaign like Tyrant's Grasp or Jade Regent or Strange Aeons taking place over several weeks or months feels unnaturally forced, narratively. Its great marketing, but its terrible storytelling. Think of how much better Tyrant's Grasp would have been if the party started at Level 10 with the destruction of Vigil.

The only exception really is Kingmaker, because there are appropriate natural pauses built into that campaign. Ruins of Azlant has similar, but fewer and shorter pauses.

What is forgotten by people who didn't grow up with 1e AD&D, etc.. is that you're not supposed to be able to jump from level 1-20 over the course of a year (real time or game time). Back in the day, if you gained three levels a year playing at typical frequency, it was considered a fast campaign. And things slowed down even more at higher levels (9th level and higher). I power-leveled my ranger-illusionist in my last AD&D campaign (10th level ranger / 10th level illusionist at the start) and he gained a total of 2 levels, 1 in each class, both of which he was partway to at the start. Plus an additional level from a magic item. That was over 2 years of regular playing and 7 modules. Clearly, we weren't playing the modules to level- we played them because we enjoyed the story.

I think APs need to move to 3 volume sets which cover approximately 6 levels of experience. At the beginning and end of each AP, there should be suggestions to which modules these APs can connect to thematically. Then the players can mix and match themes based on their tastes as well as swap out GMs to avoid GM burnout. When a group gets close to the end of AP 1, the GM for AP 2 can already be prepping their turn. In the end, by making the modules more focused and taking up a lesser percentage of the PCs' career, I think Paizo will win out financially as the sale of older modules and APs will be able to better keep up with newer ones. Having those older works continue to bring in $$$ (especially digitally) helps everyone including the developers who aren't feeling the pressure as much for the current fare to be a "hit".

Specifically, for my campaign. The map will be in the style of my Kingmaker map. But I recognize that others may want to use this and so I'm releasing a more generic map.

I've got a beta version completed and uploaded already. You can find it here: The final map will have things like a scale, a key, national borders, etc... and be in a higher resolution

The scale is 1 hex = 4 miles to a side. I chose the 4 mile unit because its a great distance to use in conjunction with the overland movement rates as everything divides by 4.

I've kept personal additions to a minimum, but there are things which I've had to add and will add. Among them are:

  • some border forts along the western lastwall border. These are implied by the text but never explicitly described. They can be as extensive as you want them to be
  • roads - there are numerous roads throughout the region, all implied, none drawn in. Major routes will be added
  • Large ranches. Horses need a lot of room and I expect that the horse trade is probably monopolized by a few wealthy families. So I added choice grazing grounds and large ranches to eastern Lastwall.
  • little bits of flavor. Things like a little swamp in the forest.. but keep in mind not all of the flavor is just that. There are numerous details about this region scattered across all of Paizo's products so at least 80% of the map is taken directly from one source or another.

    Anyways, to reiterate.. the map is primarily for my campaign. It should suffice for any TG campaign and play well with all published products. C&C is welcome as are suggestions for improvement and things I might have missed. Enjoy.

  • As the PCs explore under Vigil, I have divided up the sewers into an upper, relatively safe level and a lower, mostly forgotten level. The lower level is where the Seal Breakers dwell.

    Along the way, I decided to place an additional encounter to give the sewers more flavor and the party more thematic hints. I set up a nest of otyughs attended by akaname. The otyughs gather because one of them is a plague-bringer otyugh who is afflicted by visions. She is also a devotee of pharasma (quite unusual for an otyugh) though she refers to her as the "lady of corpses". the akaname is also led by a priestess, who also follows Pharasma. The plaguebringer otyugh and the akaname have a symbiotic relationship. The otyughs provide protection for the akaname and the akaname interprets the otyugh visions and provides comfort to the plaguebringer (who is in constant pain).

    In our party we had a cleric of Pharasma and she hit it off with the otyughs (about as well as you can expect). I had the plaguebringer recite a prophecy to the party, which went as follows:

    A great beast grows under the city
    A heart of nothingness; eyes of undeath
    The two become one before the cleansing
    The eyes rend from the heart, each stab at the other
    The sewers destroyed, fire from above
    One is enough. A dagger through her heart
    The bloodless' revenge upon the bloodless.

    Its partly generic, partly tailored to my party.

    As an added wrinkle, the area is along the seal-breakers' patrol route, so the otyughs have no love for them. I ended the encounter with an attack on the otyugh complex by one of the seal-breaker patrols.

    Grand Lodge

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    Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Boo for delays, huzzah for updates!

    So we're playing (I'm GMming) a variant of TG and we're in Last Watch. There's a few things about my party which differ from the set story.

    1. The party has 1 mythic tier, a result of the events at Roslar's Coffer.
    2. One of the party (the cleric) has some ties in with the Lastwall Government - Precentor's Scouting, to be exact - It's a lower/mid level position. But its high enough that he's been given the task of investigating the rumor of Gildias visiting the city as well as collecting the data from Roslar's Coffer.
    3. The party has uncovered the location of one of the other seals - the one in Darkmoon Vale. The party visited the seal and learned it was opened. They also know that the seal to the north was opened due to the events of ReotR.
    4. The party also effected local regime change in Falcon's Hollow in Darkmoon Vale. This has caused significant disruption in the flow of darkwood to the Andoran gov't, set up a local resistance movement and caused an international incident.

    As a result, the cleric has been pulled off the case and placed on administrative leave. The party has become convinced that the key to this somehow ties into the Shattered Shield of Arnistad. They understand they have no proof of this, but its where they are going. Moreover, they know that Vigil is likely the next target, though they do not know if the WT can destroy another city or how long it takes for the weapon to "recharge" (their words). They've tried to get the authorities to evacuate the city. That didn't work and they were told if they persisted that they would be thrown in jail.

    Consequently, the party is coming close to concluding that the only thing they can do now to save the city is to steal the shards themselves and get them out of the city (note, this will not save the city as the WT knows where the shard is and can always drop another one somewhere hidden in the city. That event will still happen). I'm taking a hard look at Book 3 and honestly, what happens in the back half of that book is pretty unimportant to the main plot. So I'm perfectly content to run off the rails at this point. lol.

    What i need now is a decent map of Castle Overwatch's interiors. I may be resigned to making one myself (probably by hand - I'm not proficient with CC3 yet) but if there's a user made map out there already, I'm happy to use that instead.

    If you've got one, send me a link or post it here, please. The people of Lastwall will thank you.

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    You can find the map here . Comments welcome, particularly on whether I got the old hordelines, etc... correct.

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    If anyone's interested, I redid the map of Lastwall to add in a lot of the small things that weren't in the AP map. You can find the link here .

    A couple notes:

    -The border forts on the western edge of Lastwall are alluded to, but never explicitly mentioned.
    - The ferry to the NE just seems logical.
    - the roads are also logical inferences and are the main roads within the kingdom.
    - the purple dashed lines are former Hordelines. Lastwall lost a lot of land.


    So we're wrapping up Book 2 in a couple of sessions and I have a choice. The way my party has acted has been extremely good and honest, and anyone watching would definitely get the impression that these are people who can be trusted with secrets.

    Which brings me to the Arazni encounter. I'm half thinking that the PCs will guess who she is without her saying and maybe even press her on the answer. And I'm thinking that she might be willing to tell them, based on what little she has observed of them over the first two books (and before).

    Before I do that big reveal two books early, I need to think ahead to some of the complications this might bring up, as well as spoilers, changes, etc... What does the group as a whole think of this?

    I have some backstory which has come out of my campaign and which I'd like to share. It's not complete, but I think even in this unfinished state it might be able to inspire others to create and share some of their backstories.

    In my campaign we have two characters whose history ties into Roslar's Coffer. The bard, Deci, was a refugee from the orc raid in her childhood and grew up away from the town. The party cleric, Nico, is a cleric of Lastwall. His father, Regio, was a paladin of Lastwall and killed in another raid on Roslar's Coffer after the big one. (He was there because of increased patrolling following the razing of the town in Deci's raid).

    Regio was interred in the town cemetery. A mid-level paladin, his skeleton was also turned into a graveknight as a result of the Radiant Fire (there are reasons for this which I will get into later). There was a 'family reunion' of sorts at the bitter end of the tomb section of Book 2 wherein Regio tried to tempt Nico into embracing undeath and finally be the son his father always wanted (there's a Boromir - Faramir vibe going on here). The conversation hinged on the father's disappointment of the son (for not following in his footsteps) and the son's resentment of the father (for paying more attention to duty than family). During the conversation, I was subconsciously seeking a way to make real this debate through some background experience. It was in this light that Regio answered one of Nico's rebukes with the phrase. "Yes, I always obeyed orders.. just like at Kassen." In hindsight, I think this was a wonderful thing to say.

    I told my player that Nico remembered "Kassen" as a word that was thrown around during a dark time in the family history over a decade ago - when Nico was only seven or eight. Kassen, Nico would know, was a small town east of Roslar's Coffer (see the Crypt of the Everflame module). I explained that Regio came home, uncharacteristically took to the bottle over several weeks as officials, police and officers had several heated discussions. As an eight year old, he didn't remember much, but he heard the name Kassen used frequently.

    The backstory I'm going with is that Regio was on an undercover mission - a deep undercover mission - to infiltrate an important Whispering Way cell in Nirmithas near Kassen. To be convincing as a fallen paladin looking to join he had to actually fall. And that meant slaughtering his guard outpost while they slept. It also meant preventing word about the impending raid at Roslar's Coffer getting to the right people allowing the big raid to occur (and turn Deci into a refugee - its just a happy coincidence that this all occurred in the same year). Now, none of these deeds were ever expressly ordered by the high command - Regio was told to infiltrate this cell regardless of what it took. The cell contained a high level Whispering Tyrant person - someone along the level of Gildeas (though not Gildeas himself). The sting was successful and Lastwall was saved, but there was private horror at the cost, even though at the highest levels, there was approval and Regio was never charged with any crimes. He was, however, given a desk job in Vigil for the next several years and it took a long time to regain his paladin powers.

    Why is this so important? Because Regio has a part to play in this AP as well. It's a reprise (and here we get to that 'later' part I alluded to earlier). Because Regio's shown a knack for doing unsavory things in the name of good he was the perfect person for Iomedae to send back and allow to be transformed into a graveknight. Suitably clad, he can work from within to help bring down the WT. After all, just because they are evil doesn't mean they are united. And just because they are good doesn't mean they always make "best choices". Ask Arazni.

    So, a few off hand remarks, some thought after the fact and a good sense of the spatial and temporal relationships of the AP made this a fun side story to piece together. This is one of the things I like doing most when GMming - putting together these supporting characters. Now i have the opportunity to further explore this through Nico's family, Lastwall officials, etc... And I have a great recurring character whose motives are morally ambiguous. (the party has most, but not all of the graveknight's armor.. there'll be a return of our villain).

    So who else has some fun backstory for their campaign?

    One of my players in game (who plays a Lastwall cleric - i.e. a LG priest of Iomedae working within the gov't) upon learning of the existence of the Whispering Way (WW) wanted to know the government's stance towards this organization's members. Specifically, he asked:

    player said wrote:
    "...Which does raise a question: What's the official status in LastWall about the Whispering Way? I mean, obviously frowned upon, but is it a "kill on sight" kind of thing? I mean, they are literally the advocates of everything the country is trying to prevent."

    I gave the following response as a first pass at an answer:

    GM said wrote:

    "That's actually a very very good question - and one I don't have a snap answer to. But I've given it a bunch of thought tonight and I think I have come up with an "official policy".

    A few things to know about the WW:

    its very decentralized
    Tar Baphon was a de-facto leader. Now there isn't one.
    It actively seeks to release Tar-Baphon (or replace him with another, equally powerful person. That, apparently, was the plot behind the AP Carrion Crown).

    In modern parlance, the WW would be considered a terrorist organization. So that's a good place to start thinking about it. They're not citizens, so they are not beholden to Lastwall's laws and they are agents of the one faction Lastwall is at war with in perpetuity. I would say that the WW falls outside of Lastwall's laws and therefore you need not worry about killing them. Of course, the taking of human life is always something done with a heavy heart (the destruction of undead is always welcome as it frees the body of the negative energy's hold on it). So you won't get in trouble for slaughtering them to a man.

    Having said that, Lastwall has been in this business long enough to know that you learn a lot more by taking some of these agents alive and interrogating them. Learning their plans, etc... Interrogating them how, you might ask? Well, obviously the official line is that nothing bad is ever done in the service of the inheritor, but you've heard more than one story (many more, in fact) about what happens in practice. Information is generally held in higher importance than lives - particularly WW lives. It is the VERY unofficial position of Lastwall that these lunatics made their choice when they joined up with the enemy and whatever we can get out of them (before killing them) is acceptable and at least if we get information out of them, then they've served some purpose. Heh, some call that "standard interrogation". But yeah, truth syrum, coercion, intimidation, torture. These are all acceptable forms of extraction for the enemy. It's been done since the Crusade. And honestly, if the choice is between a little pain endured by a Chaotic Evil mook or the Whispering Tyrant turning half of Avistan into a horde of undead, there's not a paladin in Lastwall who wouldn't make that mook cry for its mother before dying to keep that from happening. General Arnistad knew that, Arazni knew that, Iomedae knew that. Hell, even Aroden knew that.

    Whether you choose to follow in those footsteps is entirely a matter between yourself and your goddess. I will, of course, let you know if you feel as if you are straying from the path.

    What are your thoughts on the topic? Has it come up in your games? How would you respond to the original question?

    This idea sprang out of some discussions I had about the differences between 1e and 2e. Maybe there's some truth in it, maybe it's all just delusion. :) But it's a neat thought...

    Looking at the age of Lost Omens, it's clear that magic won't have as easy a ride as it did in previous ages. This is almost Tolkienesque, talking about how things have "diminished" and that's cool. Things change and we have to bridge the gap (pun intended) from 1e to Starfinder somehow.

    But what is also kind of cool is to consider what the world was like in ages past, and which rulesets would cover that. If we go all the way back to the days of old Azlant, that feels very much like playing a 3.0 or 3.5 game.

    I would suggest PF1 would start with the raising of the Starstone. But where I like to really play with the game is to say that the time in-between Earthfall and the raising of the Starstone.. that's all the old TSR AD&D. Why? Because that game is brutal, especially on low level characters. It's very martial oriented and yes, while casters have some great spells, many of these spells have some serious side-effects (for example, casting Haste ages you a year). Think of that time as a time when the civilized folk lost much of their collected knowledge and had to restart from scratch. As compared to the modern day when there are lots of magical schools, magic is standardized, most of the negative bits are weeded out of spellcasting, etc..

    It's a neat thought exercise and there's obviously no right or wrong answer. How would you break it up and with what rulesets?

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    Hear me out...

    There's a strong argument that casters have been nerfed too much. Having played a bunch of 2e, I tend to agree. But at the same level I don't want the linear-quadratic problem.

    When we first got 2e, I get the impression that cantrips were going to be the workhorses of the caster's arsenal. That would have made a ton of sense. Cantrips were the utility spells that casters knew so well they could do them at will. The spell slots were the "game changing" things that a caster would pull out during those dramatic moments. And so it makes sense to limit those and turn some into rituals, etc..

    But cantrips are watered down compared to what martials can do at the equivalent level. Moreover, a caster can only have 5 cantrips up at any time. (Granted you could choose spell substitution - but any option that becomes mandatory is a terrible design choice).

    But I think that a lot of the above problems can be solved with a couple small rule tweaks.

    First - make all cantrips 1 action. I know they have multiple tags - usually verbal and somatic. But.. seriously? You can't talk and wave your arms at the same time? I know why they did it, but I maintain its a terrible design choice. Cantrips are supposed to be those really short bits of magic that are literally at your fingertips.

    Reducing a cantrip to one action would also make them subject to the -5, -10 multiple attack tax. Thats fine. I don't expect the third attack to hit anyways (unless you're hitting a stationary object or something). But it allows you a reasonable chance to double your damage and that puts you on par with the martials.

    Second, I'd add a couple more cantrip slots. Or, failing that, to relearn a cantrip with a minute of review in your spellbook. This makes cantrips a little more versatile.

    That would be a good first pass at restoring the balance. It gives casters something to do. Ideally, you'd also rebalance your Level 1-9 spells and spell slots so that they would packa little more punch and be available a little less frequently. And we'd also have a few more cantrips to cover the everyday things you could do with magic.

    Dear CS,

    This is a follow up to an email sent. Please cancel the following subscriptions:

    Pathfinder Adventure Path
    Pathfinder Battles
    Pathfinder Lost Omens
    Pathfinder Rulebook

    While 2e is a fun iteration to play, I've come to realize that my interests are shifting away from PF. Good luck in your endeavors.

    John T.

    11 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Liane is fast becoming my favorite Pathfinder author.

    So, I'm going to start an AP (converted from 1e) with 3 players. None of them are particularly keen to play a cleric. As it stands now, we will likely have one martial, one caster (could be a bard) and one rogue.

    The AP will be Kingmaker (I know.. it's coming out in a year for 2e anyways. we're impatient lol)

    What do you all see as some of the challenges to this set-up? What are the things I ought to look for? Suggestions on class choices/builds?

    So I'm going to start a Kingmaker campaign under PF2 rules this October. (I know.. but the Anniversary Edition doesn't come out till late next year and my group wants to try out the new ruleset earlier). It'll be an entirely meatspace group with 3-5 players. I plan on making some fairly substantial changes to the AP (having played the AP and the CRPG). The biggest of which is I plan to excise most of Nyrissa from the plot. The overarching plot will be the exploration of why House Rogarvia disappeared. (It has to do with House Surtova and a tremendously complex magical ritual).

    Right off the bat, I'd like to ask the forum if this is the proper place. I find it a tad confusing - its a PF2 ruleset, but the real knowledge about the AP resides in this group. So I'd like to keep my thread here.

    Beyond that, I hope to keep one step ahead of the players. We won't get through book 1 until at least the start of 2020 - at which point the new GMG will be out. Working with a much reduced bestiary means that I'll have to reskin several encounters - for example the mites will become goblins.

    Note - I'll be using my own map of the Stolen Lands area I developed a couple years ago. I plan on printing it out 24x36-ish and laminating it so that we can roll it out onto the table and write on it.

    I do plan on going into a fair amount of Brevic politics, as I think my group is into that sort of thing. Moreover, they'll have the freedom to make their kingdom to be as good or morally ambiguous as they'd like.

    Oh, and any other suggestions would be appreciated, especially pertaining to the new ruleset.

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    Hi all,

    So I thought it might be useful for people to see how I'm running my non-vanilla iteration of TG. Who should read this? GMs interested in running this AP. Who should absolutely not read this? Anyone thinking of playing in this AP. You have been warned. Also, let me know if this thread is inappropriate to this forum.

    As a reminder, I'm running a 25 pt, mythic version of it where most of the players are not from Lastwall. If it's ok with everyone, I'll post a wrap-up of where we are after each session. If there are questions, I'll try to answer them as best as I can. To give a sense of how fast we proceed, we play weekly for 3-4 hour sessions. We are a pretty heavy RP group.

    The party: We have a party of 5, with a 6th joining in the fall. They are:
    Rina - a paladin of Aroden's teachings.
    Nico - a cleric of Iomedae from Vigil.
    Cole - a wizard with arcanist leanings.
    Rava - a Garundi ranger.
    Deci - a bard from Roslar's Coffer.

    We started our campaign in the kingdom of Veridia (this kingdom was created at the close of the Kingmaker campaign we ran from 2012-2018). I ran a short adventure beforehand, heavily adapting the Night March of Kalkamedes and ending with the party coming into possession of the amulet called the "Grace of the Last Azlanti". The reasons for that and the GM plan for the AP can be found in this thread. The short adventure took 3 sessions and was very light hearted. But it solved the initial problem of getting the party working cohesively and gave them a reason and macguffin to travel to Lastwall. They also had a meeting with a withered old crone (Arazni). At the end, I let them level up to Level 2, which means they started the AP at level 2. Having seen what was coming up, I thought that a 25 pt buy and level 2 were appropriate.

    Session 4 was spent travelling from the River Kingdoms to Lastwall and getting some immersion into its culture. The party had a chance to spend their reward from the little adventure and get some nice new shiny objects. They spent a lot of time on this. We ended in Roslar's Coffer where the party met up with Deci's extended family (who owned the inn). Everyone else in the party made friends in town. Then the town got nuked.

    Session 5 everyone woke up in the Boneyard. They had none of their equipment. I honestly felt it was more appropriate to the feeling of detachment for that to happen - also it explains a certain encounter in book 2 better. They only cleared the initial room and the next room. They were very resourceful in using whatever they had as improvised weapons.

    Session 6 saw the party cutting through the lower part of Roslar's Tomb rather quickly. The paladin with power attack was very effective even with less than ideal weapons. They got all the way up to the mites in the room with the animated hair. I should point out that I amended the treasure here to have loot that the party could use as weapons and armor- for example, craftsman's hammers that could double as light hammers. Daggers. A few first level scrolls that could be used for cleaning and moving things. Things that a clever party could use to their advantage. And they also had the advantage of being 2nd level. All in all, they did very well getting to this point.

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    Weird thought. Can the PCs buy supplies in the Boneyard version of Roslar's Coffer? I'm kind of leaning towards "yes". The town wouldn't have anything exciting.. as a mock up, it would have generic versions of everything.

    But if you wanted to get anything off the basic list of items (rope, spikes, backpack, bedrolls, etc..) I'd allow it unless someone has a good reason not to. Indeed, it could be part of how they realize they are dead (Where is that potion of healing? It was on the shelf yesterday. Come to think of it, why is my ledger empty?).

    I know what the explosions are... but where are we told what the skulls represent?

    Unless my google-fu has failed me, I cannot find anything canonical on it. I imagine it would be a mix of Iomedae's tenets and Abadar's, Shelyn's and Pharasma's beliefs. I think it would be something like: (note: cribbed from across the internet. Some are directly lifted from other gods who Aroden admired or vice/versa)

    -- I see beauty in others. As a rough stone hides a diamond, a drab face may hide the heart of a saint. I will work with others to bring their inner beauty out.

    -- I will learn the weight of my sword. Without my heart to guide it, it is worthless—my strength is not in my sword, but in my heart. If I lose my sword, I have lost a tool. If I betray my heart, I have died.

    -- Lives are never to be thrown away. But if I must sacrifice my life to save the people, it is a worthy sacrifice.

    -- Gods can die, but humanity will live on. True strength lies within the people, not the gods.

    -- Mend what is broken, and heal what is wounded. Do this through either labor or magic.

    -- All civilized life should be saved and protected, but the human spirit of ingenuity and drive must be preserved and passed on.

    -- Corruption in the greatest threat to civilization. I will root out corruption wherever I find it, and if a system is fundamentally flawed, I will work to reform or replace it.

    What would you change or add?

    I have a PC in my group who is very interested in Cartography. Which deity would be the one mapmakers look towards and follow? AFAIK none of the well-known deities specifically call out to mapmakers, but mapmaking could find its way into several deities' portfolio.


    I know that they aren't all listed in what we have in the AP so far, but are they listed anywhere else? So far I have...

    Watcher Lord --- Ulthun II

    Precentor Martial for Cavalry --- (is pro taking the fight to Belkzen?)
    Precentor Martial for Infantry --- (is pro taking the fight to Belkzen?)
    Precentor Martial for Garrison and Siege ---
    Precentor Martial for Scouting --- Keyron Saiville
    Precentor Martial for Magic --- Veena Heliu

    Tribune for Trade ---
    Tribune of Mines ---
    Tribune of Farms ---
    Tribune of Faith --- could be Aylunna Varvatos?
    Tribune of Magic ---

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    One of my PCs will be a Lastwall crusader by trade. But at first level, he's obviously not going to be a "knight" unless knight is the catch-all term for soldiers. I can see from other sources that there are already some positions which have titles The ruler is the Watcher-Lord, individual garrison commanders are called "Captains". The latter almost suggests a military ranking system to officials (which I would expect).

    I'd suggest that the rank-and-file (the G.Is) would be called 'Crusaders'. And above them would be sergeants and lieutenants, etc up to Captains who command forts or middle-sized units. then a couple of names (Colonels, commanders?) up to the rank of General. Then above General would be the Precentors and then the Watcher Lord.

    Does anyone have a better org structure for this?

    I'm putting together a module with Aroden as the background and I need a mid-high level CR to serve as a former representative of Aroden. It could have at one point been a herald of Aroden, but just as likely an outsider. I know Aroden was LN and dwelt on Axis for a time, and we all know about his two heralds but anything more specific seems not to be forthcoming.

    So does anyone have suggestions for a servitor / representative for Aroden? Thanks in advance!

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    While listening to a podcast about RPGs, it popped into my head that (if it's not already baked into the system) it would be a great idea if you could save one (or more) of your three actions during your round to use as an AoO.

    Losing the AoO for most people was, I thought, a rather large problem for tactical strategy. But also having too many AoOs was ridiculous too (slicing at the whole marathon as they sped by you, as it were). Reserving that third attack (perhaps at a less than -10 modifier) to slow the progress of the person going past you (maybe they are considered flat footed or flanked if they aren't trying to dodge) seems a good trade off. You are betting an action that someone might try to slip by you. If they don't, you've wasted it.


    So I'd like to be able to filter out all of the prepainted minis so that I only see minis under X dollars. I'd like to get in the habit of adding a few singles or unpainted minis to each month's shipment to fill in my mini gaps. But there's two problems with this.

    1. There does not seem to be an intuitive way to see all the singles paizo has in stock. If I could see that, I could sort by price. I can see all the singles per set, but not all the sets together.

    2. The filter, for me, is utterly useless. I can neither filter by price nor can I filter by the company making it.

    Yes, I can go set by set and painstakingly note the current price for each of them and decide. But I'm obviously not going to do that. And that is keeping me from doing business with Paizo.

    Honestly, for the life of me I cannot figure out why this remains a problem (and it's been going on for as long as I've been a customer here). It's 2019, not 1994. Note: I experience these issues regardless of OS or web browser.

    I'd like to see the changes or the supposed changes compiled into a list somewhere (possibly in this thread?) to give us a nice point of reference. Even if our knowledge is incomplete about a topic, it would be very useful in decision making ahead of time.

    Alternatively if such a list has been compiled, a link to that list would be excellent.

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    Clearly.. I don't have enough to do! lol.

    Seriously, though. I've always been fascinated by the night sky and I've been underwhelmed by what has been offered from official sources. So, rather than complain, I decided to do something about it. I spend far too long looking at the night sky from other systems in the Milky Way and finally found one that I think might serve as a near analogue for Golarion. (Note, I haven't checked everything, but it'll all work out - a lot of our constellations are head-scratchers, after all.)

    Anyway, I'm starting a series of blog posts on the topic, beginning with the top of the sky - the Stair of Stars and Cynosure. Enjoy! And feel free to leave feedback. While this is mostly for my own campaign, I'm happy to share!

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    I'm up to a reasonably sized collection (~400 minis, with Kingmaker arriving this week) and my collection is at the point where I think I need to invest in some serious organization and storage.

    Right now I have my collection organized in a google drive set of spreadsheets, by set, with a summary page. But I'm thinking of developing a relational database, using MS Access or some such, so that i can filter and sort by criteria.

    Of course, there are websites that come to mind (miniature trading for example) that keeps online DBs and I'm on there as well. But I find the UI to be more than a little clunky.

    At the same time, I'm interested in storage solutions. I'm keeping them in marked plastic containers (stackable storage) with the largest minis in a rolling set of plastic drawers. What do others do? Always interested in hearing other ideas.

    Quick question, actually 2..

    1. I know shipping is weird, but my shipping for 7579741 is in several parcels. It's a weird order combining minis and singles. Could you double check on that before it goes out?

    2. I have an AP pending as well (7657979). I'm going to guess that that order isn't taken into account with the previous order. Might be cheaper to combine the two orders? I genuinely don't know.

    Regardless, thanks for your attention. I know you just got back from the holidays / inventory and you're likely backed up.


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    Near the end of our kingmaker campaign, my character began doing small acts of kindness for the community surrounding his tower. This got out of hand and, in our setting, became the non-denominational holiday centered around the winter solstice. Here, for your enjoyment, I present the festival of Mishkalmas - a Golarion "Christmas".

    The Legend

    In the newly created kingdom in the Stolen Lands a most curious holiday has taken hold. This holiday, called Mishkalmas, began shortly after the kingdom’s independence from Brevoy. At the time the kingdom was still quite poor and recovering from the events of the Nyrissa’s machinations as well as the Brevic civil war. It was precisely at this time that numerous reports surfaced of small acts of kindness performed or small gifts left anonymously around the winter solstice. As the story goes, many of these gifts were traced back to animals associated with the former court magister and hero, Zi Mishkal, who had recently withdrew into seclusion. Zi, a wizard by training, had taken a keen interest in the natural world and in the process attracted many exceptionally clever animals and creatures into his service. It is said that they acted as his eyes and ears throughout the kingdom and there was nothing which escaped his attention. And when he saw the people struggling he ordered the animals to help as best they could. Moreover, they say he could command many golems (perhaps hundreds) which he set to creating gifts for the people. From his hidden tower deep within the Tors of Levenies, he used his feathered subjects to ferry these gifts out to the countryside.

    The people show their thanks for Zi Mishkal’s generosity by hanging bird feeders out in the days before Mishkalmas. On the morning after Mishkalmas children scrutinize these feeders closely. If tracks are present or the food is eaten, it means that the winged servants of Mishkal have been by and left a small present for them.
    In more recent years, this feast has become more prolific throughout the kingdom. A large dinner is celebrated the night of Mishkalmas. There is frequently dancing and music as well. Hunting occurs very sparingly the weeks before, out of concern that one of Mishkal’s animals would be accidentally slaughtered. Moreover, there is a general increase in respect for wildlife and nature during the winter months thanks to observance of Mishkalmas.

    The Actual Story

    Mishkalmas started as a single year. The wizard Zi Mishkal, in addition to his other duties, managed a successful inn called “The Towering Pint” (so called because his tower was located just behind the inn) along the east-west road. Thanks to the protection afforded by the tower, a small hamlet sprang up around the inn. That first winter of independence was particularly harsh, and throughout the winter Zi made frequent trips into the town and surrounding farms, solving problems and helping the people. On the winter solstice, he conjured up a Magnificent Mansion to feed and warm the townsfolk. Because of all this, no one died that winter.

    The next winter was quite mild. However, over the course of the summer, word had spread into the surrounding communities about Zi’s generosity, and he found himself overwhelmed with requests. While he was able to accommodate many of them within the surrounding communities and was also able to throw and even grander feast with two Magnificent Mansions he found himself unable to keep up with the increasing amount of requests.

    The following summer, realizing that the upcoming winter would be even worse, he sold the tower and relocated his home deep in the Tors of Levenies. It is true that he had awakened several normal animals and kept them as messengers and scouts for the kingdom. These animals increasingly spoke of the sadness in the communities he had vacated as the solstice approached and the harsh winter returned. Realizing that something would need to be done, he spent a considerable fortune to purchase basic necessities. In many cases it was food - perhaps a duck or some apples. But in other cases it was some other object - a plow for a farmer, perhaps, or some new needles for a weaver. To deliver these, he called upon the awakened animals to concentrate on the towns in and around the Towering Pint. For some of his closest friends he delivered these gifts in person, subtly suggesting that they continue the tradition amongst themselves.

    In the years following, he would occasionally make appearances or have animals deliver presents, even though the populace took over most of the gift giving and feasting responsibilities themselves. Young children do not mark the difference between the rare occasion when a gift is delivered by an actual servant of Mishkal and when it is delivered by a friend or family member. Adults understand and keep the tradition alive. Most adults in the Stolen lands are likely to receive a gift directly from Zi Mishkal once in their lives, although recently it has become difficult to determine even that as anonymous gifts from admirers sometimes show up on Mishkalmas morning.

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    TL;DR: After 4.5 parts of the Playtest our group has decided that the ruleset is not fun. It does not make our players feel heroic and combat is basically a neverending slog.

    So, it is with regret that our little group will no longer be participating in the Playtest. We tried to stick it out until the end, but we feel that at this point we're repeating ourselves with respect to the game's flaws. Furthermore, as a group, we don't see ourselves supporting 2e in this current incarnation. 10 weeks of playtesting has shown us that. This post is more of an explanation to the devs than an invitation for another long back-and-forth over the same points about the playtest. We feel that, after putting so much work into the playtest, the devs are entitled to a more considered response than "this sucks." From our end, we started as a group of 5 players + GM (me) and whittled down to 3+GM. One left for work reasons (couldn't make sessions) and the other became too frustrated with the ruleset. Prior to the playtest our group was in the middle of Strange Aeons, and one interesting thing about the playtest is that it's made us long for PF1e more. So we're heading back to that AP. :)

    I point out that the ruleset isn't (in our opinion) fun. To elaborate - our combats wind up being an attempt to find the most optimal attack -> damage routines and spam them. This, inevitably, winds up being a martial attack. In Heroes of Undarin, we had three PCs - a paladin, a monk and a cleric who had multiclassed into fighter and wizard (thanks to the 1.4 errata). All three wound up melee attacking every single round. Why? Because melee attacks have (by far) the best chance to hit as well as do high amounts of damage - particularly when magic weapons are involved. And melee attacks never run out. So it's the same attack sequence round after round after round. There's no maneuver because there's no AoOs to worry about, there's no spell casting, because it can no longer compete. Just endless melee attacking.

    I point out that the ruleset does not make our players feel heroic. Each of our players are exquisitely balanced. Despite being three different classes (pally, monk and whatever you want to call the cleric-ftr-mage) our ACs were 30, 31, 32. Our damage output was about the same as well, because the majority of the damage came from the +3 of our +3 weapons. Our attack bonuses were all the same because attack bonuses were all all +1 because of level. One way to describe this is balance. Another way to describe this is meaningless choices. There's a lot of rules out there that come to the same answer and the effect that gives the player is that everyone is a clone. We agree this feels very 4th Edition and is the antithesis of what made PF1 so awesome. It's this 4th Edition feel that, ultimately, was a deal breaker for us.

    I point out that the game was a never-ending slog. By this I mean that when you take into account my first two points and place it against the enemies in Heroes of Undarin, what you have are combats that are very long and drawn out. The treachery demon, for example, has over 300 HP. Doing around 30 damage per player(because only the first hit is really reliable), you're looking at 10 successful attacks to take it down. The HP bar barely moves in roll20. This is without the demon spamming Mirror Image (which it can do at will and should do). The demon can spawn Mirror Image and the PCs can keep healing which effectively leads to a standoff for several dozen rounds. I went back to 1e AD&D to see the 'original' Treachery Demon and learned the following things:

    1. It had less than 100hp (martial PCs at 12th level had around 100 hp in 1e AD&D).

    2. It's attacks (5 in total) did 8-35 damage, which was between a quarter and a third of the average martial's HP. You actually see the HP bar move.

    3. The demon has some fun attacks. At will it can do the following: It can cast polymorph self. It can cast fear. It can cast darkness. It can use telekinesis (which would have been great for throwing bits of the church at players). And it has a percentage chance of summoning in other demons.

    The PF 2e demon has a bunch of illusory and out-of-combat abilities that, frankly, are uninteresting and underwhelming.

    So that's it. Ultimately, the well-balanced encounters, the mathiness, the tweaking is meaningless if it comes at the cost of the players feeling like what they do has impact. PF2 loses all the impact that PF1 has. Every one of our characters from the arcanist to the pre-unchained thief felt like it had some part to play in our 1e APs. Yes, they could not contribute equally to every challenge, but that was okay. If we wanted that kind of balance we could play checkers. So we wish Paizo luck and hope that they can make something playable out of the playtest. We'll still be playing 1e and if there's no more 1e product after next year, that's fine too. Thank you Paizo for making the playtest and giving us a chance to partake in it. We will, of course, check out the ruleset once it's released next year to see if the necessary changes have been made. But I'm not going to lie. As it stands now, this is not a product we can get behind.

    8 people marked this as a favorite.

    I'm going to cut to the chase here - there's concern at our end that the changes required to make 2e a worthy successor to 1e are extensive enough that there won't be sufficient time to implement them, vet them and playtest them before the final rulebook needs to be written, edited, printed and published.

    We have inexhaustible faith that, given enough time, Paizo will put out another superior product. We trust and believe in you! We're simply worried about the ambitious time frame. Our uneducated guess is that you need to be wrapping up design decisions either at or shortly after the new year in order to make deadlines on the rulebook, bestiary, APs and PFS modules. But if there's major systems revisions, then maybe those decisions need to come even earlier (Thanksgiving?) so that an extra AP (or two) and PFS year can get written under the 1e ruleset.

    What we're saying is that, if push comes to shove, we'd rather see 2.0 around xmas or summer 2020 than a product that doesn't completely live up to Paizo's high standards.

    I feel confident that our little group isn't alone in this feeling. And while it may seem courageous and scary to push back the release date, I think I echo the sentiments of the larger community when I say that we would back that decision both morally and financially. I guess what we're looking for is some assurance or acknowledgement at your end that the release date won't be the determining factor of the playtest.

    Our sincerest hopes,
    one group of long-time pathfinder players

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    So this marks the second week in a row that we found the new rules to be tedious and generally not fun. I would like to say right off the bat that though this will be an overall negative review of the ruleset and encounter design, we still like Paizo, the devs and Golarion. We are long-time players of PF1 and it's because of this that this review is so blunt.

    As before, I'm skipping right to the encounter at the end (with the brain collector). One can assume that everything prior to this was acceptable if not better.

    The final encounter pitted two paladins and a cleric against the brain collection (who was minionless). We had a few no-shows at the last moment - two additional clerics couldn't make it - and as a result our GM appropriately removed minions from the encounter to make it CL appropriate.

    Like the previous session with the elementals, this encounter was a pointless, yo-yoing slog. Encounters with large HP enemies or difficult enemies is fine, of course. But encounters where the PCs spend 9 rounds doing the same thing over and over and over again because that is literally the best thing they can do is absolutely horrible. As a result, our group consensus is that PF2 in its current state is unsupportable. Which is the reason for the playtest feedback - to provide data so that the devs can make this into a fun game. Because right now this game isn't fun. At all.

    The brain collector arrived invisible and attacked our cleric. It also had previously cast mirror image on itself. It had one action left when it reached the cleric and hit for 20 damage. My paladin took three attacks on it and hit it once, removing a mirror image. The cleric cast a heal spell on himself and missed with one attack. The other paladin attacked 3 times.. and hit twice, removing the other two mirror images.

    After one round, the hits v misses were 1/1 for the BC and 3/7 for us.

    Round two was all melee attacks: the party was 0/5 and the BC was 0/2

    Round 3 had the BC re-cast mirror image on itself, providing itself with 3 more duplicates. then it hit with its one attack on the cleric. both paladins missed with their retributive strikes. At this point, I was able to convince my GM that by dropping the chandelier onto the brain collector I would be able to knock out all its mirror images (cause the chandelier was so large). Which i proceeded to do, also causing 18 damage on it. This, btw, was the first damage actually done to the BC. The cleric healed himself and the other pally hit on 1/3 attacks.

    After three rounds, the hits v misses were 2/4 for BC and we were 4/18, of which 3 were negated by mirror image.

    Round 4 had the BC recasting mirror image (AGAIN) and hitting with his remaining action. My pally missed again with retributive strike. The cleric, by this point was slowed to 2 actions, and missed with both of them. I, on the other hand hit twice out of three attacks for a fair amount of damage (I missed all the mirror images twice and hit the BC). The paladin hit twice of three times, knocking out two mirror images.

    Round 5 had the BC attacking twice again, hitting both times, while the party was 2/8 in their retributive strikes / attacks. My paladin had started to burn weapon surge before every attack because it was pretty obvious by the this point that we weren't hitting reliably with anything except our first attack

    After 5 rounds, the hits v misses were 5/7 for the BC and 10/35 for the party.

    Round 6 had the BC attacking (and nearly killing) me. By this point I was slowed as well. BC hit with both attacks and we missed with all 5 of ours (including a retributive strike).

    By Round 7 the party was in tatters, but the BC was also low on HP. It attacked the cleric twice more and the other pally actually hit it with a retributive strike. (Keep in mind that by this point we were all enfeebled and enervated to varying degrees - so we had less of a shot to score a hit. I managed a final hit (out of the 6 attacks our party could muster) and did just enough damage to bring it to zero.

    Final hits v misses were 9/11 for the brain collector (81%) and 12/46 (26%) for the party.

    So lets talk about this math. The brain collector had a +19 to hit. Our armor classes were all within 1 or two points of 25. The BC needed a 6 or better to hit us. Meanwhile our to hits were +13, +11, +11. The Brain Collector's AC was 25. So we needed a 12 or better *at the start of combat* to hit. As we became more poisoned and level drained, our ability to hit decreased. Moreover, 8 of our hits struck mirror images. Take that away and we hit 8.6% of the time.

    The numbers literally were against us. We were lucky that the BC didn't crit us, or this would have been a TPK. Otoh, only a nat 20 would have allowed us to TPK the BC.

    So where does the problem lie? Well, for starters, the BC was able to cast spells in the middle of melee combat because none of us had AoOs. This was a problem throughout this adventure. Our GM frequently ran wraiths and ghasts past us because it's allowed. This is completely asinine. We used the analogy of a running back in a football game. Imagine if you could only attempt to tackle the running back "on your turn". Meanwhile the back can run 20-30 feet per action on his turn. Every play is a first down because the defenders had no zone of control. Much the same happened here. Rather than being "more strategic", we wound up locking all the people in a storage room and physically blocking the door with PC bodies because occupying a space is the only way to control it.

    AoOs need to come back - for everybody. With an AoO we have a chance of holding a line or disrupting a spell.

    One might argue that the GM played the BC too unfairly. Hogwash. The BC is an intelligent creature (heck it harvests brains). If it saw a strategy working, it would keep at it. Mirror Image is more powerful in 2e than 1e. (In 1e, if you barely missed with your to-hit, you'd still take out an image). So that (although much more minor) needs to be looked at.

    The other thing that was important was the yo-yoing of PC HP. When I got knocked down to 4 HP, our cleric was able to heal me halfway up. If this had been a straight HP fight, this would have been a cakewalk for the PCs because we had more healing on our side. The special abilities (drain, poison) were what tipped it away from us. Regardless, you see the design problem. We spend a two rounds knocking out mirror images, the BC recasts. The BC knocks one of our characters down to almost 0 HP, we cast heal on him. The limiting factor in either case is whether we run out of daily use / resonance before we become too poisoned / enfeebeld.

    and with respect to spell points - I used all my SP in that combat, all except one of them to cast weapon surge - and later on when I did cast weapon surge it was to partially offset the negatives.

    Returning to the initial thought. 7 rounds of spamming the attack button and watching the BC burn through its spells was not fun. Moreover, I would add that the high AC of the BC probably meant that we weren't particularly likely to hit it with an AoO anyway.

    All in all, a badly designed encounter which highlights major shortcomings of the ruleset.

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    Just like the title says. We've gone through two parts, so I think we have a good handle on at least the low level stuff now. So what three things are you most excited about and what three things do you dread the most? (and maybe some kind soul will then collate all these answers into a list).

    Try to keep your answers as concise as possible. I'm trying to see trends in thinking right now, so running through a wall of text isn't going to help get your message across :)

    3 Loves:

    1. Three action system. Its simple, it works.
    2. Cantrips that scale.
    3. Crits at +/-10 to hit, rather than just on a 20 or 1.

    3 Hates:

    1. Extra dice of damage attached to weapons. Move that extra damage to proficiencies.
    2. Proficiencies that autoscale. Immersion-breaking in so many ways. Give us more skill points and let US decide.
    3. Resonance. It's not getting the job done. Pulls the rug out from under the hero in the height of combat. Plus, resonance doesn't affect mobs. (We're always their first combat of the day!)

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    Rather than go encounter by encounter through Part 2, I thought it would be a great idea to highlight two encounters as examples of what was great and awful about Part 2.

    Our party consisted of a halfling ranger and animal companion, an elf barbarian, a dwarf druid, a dwarf alchemist and a gnome sorcerer. Because our fifth player was a last minute addition, I didn't have time to adjust up the encounter difficulty appropriately. So it should me mentioned that all encounters should have been appreciably easier for the party to complete.

    The good - The Manticore fight

    The dead gnolls telegraphed the manticore fight quite well. Although the party knew that the manticore would be the enemy OOC, neither the druid nor the ranger were able to roll high enough to match the DC to identify the quills. Regardless, they were able to tell from the tracks that something flying had attacked the gnolls. Their preparedness allowed them to see the manticore farther away and not be 'surprised' by the initial attack. The manticore kept to the skies and shot spikes at the party, while the party tried various methods to engage it at range.

    The turning point of the battle was when the elven barbarian scaled the side of the cliff and lept from the cliff onto the manticore's back, attacking it. This constituted four actions, but since the barbarian had 3 hero points, she spent them all on an extra action. This nearly knocked the manticore out of the sky, and the manticore became obsessed with getting the 'rider' off it's back, while the rest of the party continued to attack it.

    The manticore did land three hits on the barbarian in one round near the end - one being a crit. These hits nearly "one shot" the barbarian. but fortunately her rage kept her going.

    Overall, this combat was a lot of fun. The barbarian was able to use "raging athlete" to great effect and come up with an innovative way to bring down the manticore. On the down side, the rest of the party found hitting the manticore a difficult roll. The ranger was frustrated with double slice not hitting, while the alchemist found his bombs to be mostly ineffective (although the persistent damage was nice). As a GM I found adjudicating a mount trying to throw off it's rider to not be well supported by the rules. additionally, near the end I tried to throw the barb off the manticore by smashing the manticore into the walls of the cliff. In both cases, we solved these with acrobatics and athletics checks, but I, at least, found those rules to be a poor fit.

    The bad - the water / earth elemental fight.

    The party reached the tomb with most of their daily rations of spells, powers, etc.. intact and at full health. The first room they encoutnered was the water / earth elemental room. The party's initial reaction was to ignore the room as a distraction. However, they investigated too far into the room and triggered initiative.

    The water elemental's attack was quite effective, if unispiring. The water elemental routinely hit on between 2-3 actions each round. Moreover, the earth elemental glided to the rear of the party and attacked the rear. The earth elemental's attacks were annoynaces for the party. The water elemental attack, on the other hand, was quite deadly for the party. The +13 to hit modifier combined with an AC/TAC of 20 meant that the WE hit with approximately 2/3rds of its attacks while the party missed with approximately 2/3rds of their attacks. Moreover, the WE's damage output was at least 2x the party's damage output (the WE did something like 40 hp of damage to the barbarian in one round). As GM I had to metagame somewhat and spread out the WE's attacks or we would have had a TPK for certain.

    The fight lasted for six rounds before the party was able to kill the WE. By the end it had become a tedious, repetitive fight. The party felt like they were forced by character design into certain tactics based on the WE's high AC, immunity to crits and high HP. Moreover, they missed most of their hits by 1-2 points, indicating that had they optimized their characters a little more they might have made easy work of the water elemental. I mention this because PF2 has repeated to us the mantra that they wanted to get away from forcing us down a particular path of feats and character choice selection.

    By the end of the fight, the party only succeeded by expending nearly all of their spells and healing just to keep party members alive. We were running low on time, and so I handwaved most of the rest of the playtest module. It was agreed that, following this, the party would likely have had to rest to regain spells and healing, using up another day. This was ok from the countdown perspective as the party had three days to give before triggering the final encounter.

    Overall, the party felt discouraged by the playtest session. Primarily, they felt that critical hits were too influential and happened too frequently in both encounters and on both sides. Moreover, the barbarian had the party's only magic weapon, which was essential in slaying both the manticore and the water elemental. Remove that extra die of damage from the barbarian and the manticore battle becomes much deadlier and the water elemental battle ends up in a TPK. Again, we felt that this took the spotlight away from the characters and placed it on the weapon.

    Lastly, the alchemist felt helpless for most of these combats, thanks to the high ACs and low damage done by bombs. The alchemist also went through all of his bombs and heals and all of his resonance to the point where he exhausted his ability to interact with magic. This happened at the height of the water elemental battle, effectively removing one character from play. So, basically one and a half encounters completely overwhelmed the alchemist class. We felt that this made the class unplayable for any extended adventuring day.

    In conclusion, we found that the playtest still has much to recommend it, but that it needs some intensive rebalancing and refocusing so that the characters, not their items nor resonance shine. We decided to continue on with the playtest because (a) we feel that our feedback is valued and (b) there is the hope that the flaws within this part of the playtest were as much design decisions as new rules.

    Thank you for listening.

    *mild spoilers ahead*

    Our party reached the gnoll camp at dusk (I'd been keeping annoyingly meticulous track of time - down to the hour in this last part of the trek up).

    The party saw the gnolls from afar and decided to wait until nightfall to surprise them. They kept hidden across the river until after the gnolls turned it, successfully crossed the river (with me rolling secret sneak v perception rolls), and crept up to the gnolls tent. The alchemist, in particular, was going to open the tent flap and toss acid onto the (presumably) sleeping gnoll.

    But something funny (as they say) happened on the way to the tent flap. The alchemist rolled a 3 on his sneak roll, the gnoll countered with a natural 20. Given the disparity in the rolls (the modifiers were effectively the same), I decided that this gnoll in particular wasn't asleep, either heard or smelled the PC, grabbed his weapon and readied an action to attack whatever came through the tent flap.

    So when the alchemist opened the tent flap, he got a face full of gnoll.

    Now, I've checked the rules, and RAW, I think I got everything at least reasonably right. So at that point I threw everyone into initiative because we couldn't decide which "readied action" should go off first. In the rules I didn't see anything about simultaneous actions (what happens when two people "ready" actions at the same time). Also, please note this was close to 1am local time and we were all tired and trying to wrap things up.

    If this were first edition, I would have had the gnoll get one attack in first, then the alchemist throw his bombs, neither being flat footed, with damage happening simultaneously, followed by initiative. But that's tantamount to a surprise round, and PF2 afaik doesn't have surprise round rules. So, I guess what I'm saying is that there's a problem when an attack starts off combat in this ruleset because that circumstance is not explicitly covered. I'm fine with using common sense as I did at the start of the paragraph, but as this is a playtest, I felt it was worth reporting.

    Btw in the end, due to initiative, the gnoll got to go first, whacked the alchemist hard, but the alchemist did a bunch of persistent damage (plus other damage) and then tanglefooted the gnoll letting the persistent damage do its work. The party actually had more trouble with the scorpion and we wound up with two party members poisoned and one badly wounded. However, although they lacked a cleric (it was a party of a barbarian, an alchemist, a druid and a ranger) they were able to heal up completely by morning.

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    So, after running the playtest once, I decided it was too much hassle to thumb through the pdfs repeatedly looking for the appropriate monsters. So I cut -> pasted those entries into their own pdfs. You can find them at the link here:

    (additionally, there's a version of Talga's map for the PCs for the first part there.)

    I did parts 1 and 2. I'll do the rest as time permits. I'll try to stay ahead of the curve.

    Hope this helps!

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    Hi. This is my preliminary report on running the first half of The Lost Star the first time. I wanted to get this out while it was still fresh, as this group probably won’t get to finish TLS before this portion of the playtest closes.

    So the group consisted of 4 PCs. three of them are experienced 1st Edition AD&D players who have never played Pathfinder or 3e. The fourth is my 12 year old son. They played the following characters:

    Human Cleric of Gorum, Gnome alchemist, human fighter, human rogue. My son played the rogue. All of them had trouble making characters - specifically with the frequently addressed issue of cross referencing material spread throughout the book. There were occasional jokes about using the 1e AD&D rules as a spiritual “organizational guide” for this playtest. (If you’ve played AD&D, you’ll know what that means).

    All but the gnome alchemist were present for PnP - the alchemist attended virtually using a rather ingenious set up of my cell phone resting on the back of Icingdeath (a gargantuan D&D dragon mini) + facebook call. We used the flip mats and I had enough minis for everything except the centipedes. So, basically, it was the full PF experience (because I wanted to show off the lore / game as much as playtest).

    Playtest questions
    Prep time: I spent about 8 hours prior to this reading through the module, including playing out the encounters solo with pregens, just to get a feel for the combat system.
    Session time: At the rate we are playing, we should be able to finish this with one other session, for about 5-6 hours total.
    Hero points: I gave out the minimum 1 each of hero points; none were used.
    HP / death / dying: As we ended, the fighter was down to 1 HP. That’s the lowest any one got.

    Summary of encounters
    Sewer ooze.
    This encounter almost was played twice. The rogue was the only character to roll a better initiative than the sewer ooze. I’d decided beforehand that the ooze would use its tentacle attack in the first round and its burst attack in the second. The rogue nat 20’d the ooze with a rapier, who unfortunately was immune to crits and precision, and did a piddling amount of damage. The ooze was adjacent to the rogue and the fighter (who had previously charged into the room, initiating combat) and I randomly selected the fighter as the target. The ooze hit the fighter hard with 2 hits, one a crit, doing something like 17 points of damage. It was then that we all remembered the rogue still had two more actions. So… wipe that all out.
    When we redid that combat, the rogue hit the ooze again for more damage, the ooze missed the rogue in return and the rest of the party made short work of the ooze. The fighter and cleric hit the ooze three times each and the rogue finished off the ooze at the start of round 2.

    This encounter could have gone really badly for the party, with a crippled fighter from the outset. But it didn’t and we moved into the first big room.

    The 4 goblins.
    Based on my reading of the scenario, I decided the goblins wouldn’t be paying attention to the door, focusing more on their sculpture. The party alchemist (with darkvision) snuck ahead to scout the room,saw the goblins and retreated. The party decided that maybe the goblins would want to be freed if the PCs announced themselves as liberators. (None of the PCs spoke goblin). The PCs decided that they would sneak in a fair distance away, announce themselves and through gestures explain that they are friendly.
    You can guess what happened. The fighter in chain mail failed his sneak roll, making the goblins aware. The fighter still tried to motion “out”, but honestly, four adventurers show up heavily armed from the shadows, weapons drawn, and there’s really no other answer other than “roll initiative”.
    The PCs made short work of the goblins.

    Centipede Room
    The alchemist snuck into the room, failed his stealth but won initiative. Tossed one alchemists’ fire at the bugs and fled like the dickens. The centipedes pursued to the narrows and then retreated. The party decided they wanted no part of the centipedes, since they seemed content to just stay in their own area and left.

    4 dead goblin room.
    The rogue snuck into this room and gave it a look around. The party was worried that all the bones on the floor meant everything in there would rise as skeletons and wanted no part of that room, either.

    Fungus room.
    The rogue snuck into this room. The party wanted to burn it all, and it was at this point that I gently reminded them all that in PF I only give descriptive info and if they wanted to know more, they needed to make a skill roll to “recall knowledge”. Being 1e AD&D players this was a new and fun thing. So they all did knowledge rolls and learned about the mind spores and how to kill it. They decided it wasn’t worth the effort, seeing as the spores can’t chase them, and left.

    Pool room.
    The gnome very very carefully crept down the passageway to the pool room using darkvision. They strongly considered using the thief, as they felt they were due for a trap very soon. But they thought the light would be too dangerous. Reaching the pool, they noted the fetid color and odor, saw the Lhamatshu carving, considered taking it to sell (go 1e AD&D!) but figured they’d loot the pool on the way back.
    The party ignored the locked door, and the rogue wanted to take apart the armor trap (after detecting it). The rogue nat 20’d the armor trap to disable it, and I ruled that he was able to take the whole thing apart without arousing suspicion. Only because it was a nat 20.

    Goblin camp.
    Because they could see a little glow (from the campfire). off in the distance, the rogue went ahead to scout this room. He saw the goblins, and went back to report. The party decided to sneak in with the rogue and alchemist, and as soon as trouble started the fighter would charge in with his feat and enter the fray. Cleric would bring up the rear - presumably with lots of bandages.
    Unfortunately, the alchemist failed his sneak role, but the rogue was already ready with his shortbow (looted off the goblins in area 2, i might add), so I ruled that he could get one shot off before initiative. Unfortunately the rogue missed the goblin.
    A messy combat ensued over 4 rounds - quite long for 1st level. Highlights were: the fighter taking burning hands in the face… twice! (because the fighter was in the center of the cluster right by the goblin pyro.) The cleric had terrible rolls, missing everything and rolling very low on heals. In the end, the cleric was down 2/3rds of their HP, the fighter was down to 1 HP, the rogue and the alchemist were down several HP. The goblins never got the chance to spring their rock trap.

    Overall thoughts - Combat flowed pretty well. I screwed up on a few rules, mostly forgetting some things. That third action in a sequence was sometimes left hanging in space. The alchemist wanted to start a spell with that third action and then finish it on the next round. Which I didn’t allow, though I’m not sure there’s a rule specifically against that. I kept forgetting the sneak damage on my son’s rogue when flat footed because of flanking. But overall, it played smoothly at first level in a simple dungeon.

    My players played this very much like a 1e AD&D module, with a heavy dose of paranoia and willing to leave rooms behind. For awhile I was worried that they'd miss almost all of the module. They had the advantage of a crudely drawn map by the one goblin at the start to help them, though I don't think they made as much use of it as they could. But everyone had a great time. The AD&Ders were particularly impressed with Golarion's lore and expansiveness (I spent several minutes describing Magnimar) and are looking forward to completing this portion of the playtest and moving on to the next part.

    I’ll post the back half when we get to finish playing. I’ll post the feedback from my other, long running PF group after we play tonight!

    And hey, if you've read this far, you've certainly earned the right to send me some feedback! I appreciate all feedback :)

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    I've been thinking about this for a week now. IMHO the system is still skewed, just differently. It's like trying to focus a microscope, it was too far out of focus in 1e, and now it's too far out of focus in the other direction in 2e.

    My quick thoughts on how to dial that focus in.

    1. Keep resonance. I can't stand it, but I understand why it's there.

    2. Kick up spellcasters' # of spells a day so that they max out with 5 spells/day of 1-5th level, 4 of 6-7th level and 3 of 8-9th level.

    3. Take the +1 die damage out of magical weapons and put it back into the proficiencies - so someone trained in the longsword does 1d8, someone expert does 2d8, master 3d8, legendary 4d8 (+ability bonuses get multiplied as well). Lancelot's sword isn't the hero, Lancelot is.

    4. Double the raising shield bonus, but make it applicable to 1 attack per proficiency level. If the shield is equipped but not raised, you get the regular bonus (so raising it would be 3x in total).

    That would get combat to feel more like a life or death struggle, I think. What we have isn't terrible, it's just very mundane. I'm a firm believer that our actions ought to be meaningful if we take the time to do them.

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