kenmckinney's page

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So sad! His art really nailed the essence of D&D for me. And Wormy was easily the part of The Dragon I looked forward too most each month.

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I don't understand the OP problem either. It's trivial to align the border when preparing a map for a VTT.

In particular, I am against the suggestion that maps should be smaller to accommodate 5' squares. I like big , sprawling maps because they give enough distance in encounters to allow movement to be a substantial tactical consideration. I really hate runningg encounters in 30x30ft rooms.


I agree, the current mapmakers are great. I can't emphasize enough how much as a GM a good map sells me on an adventure, and Paizo maps are top notch.
Aren't there community use guidelines for modifying and sharing Paizo maps? Maybe Paizo could host a place where people like Askren could upload their creations.

I think it was a mistake to roll Spot, Search, and Listen into one skill. I think they should have stayed separate, and they could have just given rogues 2 more skill points instead.


I prefer mystical answers to why spells don't work, so I like Jeven's solution best. I dislike too much Science in my Magic.


osopolare wrote:

Thanks for the book recommendation KenMckinney. Ordered.

I'm also going to read some books about TE Lawrence before running the game.

If you want one more recommendation, try 'My Life as an Explorer' by Sven Hedin.


Yeah, there isn't much of a game balance issue here because Dominate Person already has such a long duration. I think I would bump the spell by a couple of levels and call it a day.

However, if you create this spell you have an opportunity ; personally, I'd come up with some house rules regarding the long term effects of domination on the mind of the target.

I've been currently thinking about this for a game I just started, my PCs just encountered a couple of servants whose master had dominated them for years, and the dominate spell has just ended. I told the PCs they were huddled in a corner, crying. The session ended at that point, so I haven't really determined what their long term mental state is.


Which illustrates the coolness of Paizo being run by gamers.... try to imagine a soulless megacorp deciding to do anything for D&D simply because it would be SUPER AWESOME. We are really lucky that you guys are stewards of Pathfinder.


I wouldn't mind if Adventure paths came with house rules to address this sort of thing. Like, 'Create food/water doesn't exist, and Endure Elements is a 3rd level spell, caster only spell'. I agree that a desert campaign should have environmental challenges that are not trivialized by low level spells.

By the way, if you want a great account of a camel caravan in the desert, read _Desert Road to Turkestan_ by Owen Lattimore.

When I ran Savage Tide on a VTT I imported the battle of Farshore map , put a scale on it, and ran the whole thing with 5ft squares. You can get really enormous maps with VTTs.

The thing was , the Farshore map wasn't at a sufficient resolution to upscale well. It was super blurry.

I get that it doesn't make economic sense for paizo to try to sell printed battlemaps, but it would be nice if the art was at a higher resolution so those of use who wished to could make our own.


I think this would be a good change in general, it makes the fighter more interesting and the rogue tougher. But, I think the full fighter bonus feat progression plus the full rogue sneak attack and talents is too much.

My off the cuff thought are that gestalt minus rogue sneak attack and talents, but with the ability to take +sneak attack or a rogue talent in place of fighter bonus feats, would be pretty balanced. You'd have a skillful, but nonmagical class that was tough and versatile.


Yeah, I bought the season on iTunes and now I really regret it. What is it with the Scifi channel? Is good writing/decent acting really that hard to come by? I am an (amateur) actor in LA (software engineer by day) and the underemployed actors in my acting class can act circles around what is in this show.


I watched the first two episodes. So far, not a fan of the acting, nor of much of the dialog/writing.

I wouldn't run Paladins in this AP because a lot of it is about making moral choices -- whether to accept Rowyn's offer, for example -- and I want my players to be free to make those choices in the moment, rather than knowing that of their own can only choose one way, and that they'd better go that way if they don't want the player to have to roll a new character.

Plus, to me, the pirate theme works best with shades of grey, amoral characters -- more Han Solo, less Luke Skywalker. But, I have a very first-edition influenced, old school idea of what a paladin is. Your mileage may vary.

I've run this campaign twice, but never finished it. The first time was while in Argentina for a year, we got through City of Broken Idols then I had to leave. The second time was online and I got tired of running that game after finishing Tides of Dread.

I would say this: If you find yourself lacking the longevity for the whole campaign, Tides of Dread is a great finishing place.

Also, I didn't allow Druids or Paladins, and I am glad I made that choice. Druids make too much of the 'man versus nature' theme go away, and Paladins don't fit in well with the overall tone of the game, which is quite piratey.


You should definitely use Mage Armor; it's a single first level spell slot that you probably won't otherwise even use. Going from AC 13 to 17 won't stop any high level creature's first attack, but it might stop one of its iterative attacks if you are unlucky enough to get full attacked.
I'd also take Shield, for those times when you can cast it out of combat prior to a battle you know will take place.

But yeah, I don't generally invest in AC increasing items as a wizard. Your gold and the item slots are better spent elsewhere. Increasing saves should be a defensive priority.

When did it become the case that you could use basilisk blood to restore stoned allies? THAT is coddling your players.

I'd make them go bargain for the services of a wizard to restore their friends. The wizard says, 'sure, I'll do it if you kill my rival in that tower and return the spellbook he stole. My apprentices will accompany you'. The players of the stoned PCs play the apprentices.

I hate the name too. And class names are actually kindof important to me, so I hope you guys change it to something that doesn't sound so silly.


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A new Pathfinder campaign I am starting has a really big haunted mansion as its centerpiece. I'm looking for a good map.
I have the Tegel Manor map but I think it is just too big; however everything else I've found online seems too small.

Any recommendations? Something about half the size of the Tegel Manor map would be just about perfect.



OK, I googled one of the reviewers, check this out: nd-he-took-her.html

Yeah, maybe not the best person to review early 20th century pulp fiction!

Oh, and I agree that the Zelazny review is really weak, bad enough to make me discount the reviewer's opinions in general.

And it's pretty funny to see these people going on about the sexism in Conan, ERB, etc. The depictions of women in these books were quite progressive for the timeframe in which they were written. Someone should make him go read the GOR books and write a review of those!

Still , it's nice to see reviews of some of those appendix N books that I haven't read, like Hiero's Journey and the Poul Anderson book.


I need to reread Lord of Light; I read it as a child and probably didn't get most of it.

There was almost a film version, see

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All this is an action/isn't an action stuff kind of misses the point.

Your job as a DM is to make the game fun.

Here's a simple rule:

It can be fun when the players exploit a rules loophole to the disadvantage of their enemies.

It's NEVER fun when the DM exploits a rules loophole to the disadvantage of the PCs. You already have plot knowledge and the ability to craft the encounter on your side, if you think your PCs are doing too well use those things instead.

So, even if what you described is technically allowable, you shouldn't do it.


I'm not a fan of divination magic making theft impossible.

Fortunately, with respect to locate object, it's radius limit would be well known in the game world among professional thieves.

So, I am not sure a merchant would lay out 60gp, knowing that the item would likely have been moved.

Furthermore, the spell is blocked by the simple expediency of putting the item in a lead box. Any self respecting thieves guild would keep their significant loot in one, at least until they could spirit it out of the area for sale in a distant market.

Now, that merchant is probably paying protection money to the local thieves guild. So he goes to them and says, 'why did you steal from me; I payed my taxes'.
They in turn become upset with whomever is stealing on their turf.

And _that_ is how I think I would keep this from getting out of control. Because fighting the thieves guild can be a fun adventure, unlike going to jail.


The wierd thing about a child being an adept, is that there's no good way to model them becoming the equivalent of a first level PC over time. What happened to those Adepts spells they used to know, like Cure Light Wounds, that aren't on the Wizard spell list? And keeping the level of Adept just makes them suck, due to the way the class/level system is designed.


Here is a really good guide on acclimatization, written by a himalayan mountaineering guide whom I respect:

I saw a reference to the altitude rules in the flaming sphere thread (see below).

I hadn't seen these rules, and I know from personal experience (I do a lot of high altitude trekking in the himalayas and elsewhere) that they're kindof silly.

In general, you can go to about 9000 feet without experiencing significant altitude sickness.
If you go higher, you might a headache, but you'll acclimatize at a rate of 1000-2000 feet per day. I've spent weeks at above 12000 feet, and I've slept at around 19,000 feet (crater of kilimanjaro). I've flown from sea level right to 12,000 feet (Lhasa, Tibet, and also La Paz, Bolivia). I did feel pretty bad that evening, but was absolutely fine the next morning.

I personally would have the 'High pass' category kick in no lower than 10,000 feet. And the fort saves shouldn't scale past a point... it should actually get easier to pass them, as your body acclimatizes.

The high peak category should probably be somewhere above 20,000 feet, given that they affect even acclimatized characters. I believe there are military bases in India/Pakistan where people permanently live at this altitude. There is certainly an altitude that people cannot acclimatize to, but I am not sure what it is.

Stefan Hill wrote:
Fergie wrote:
Stefan Hill wrote:

On the other end of the scale...

Also can I have rules on altitude sickness please, when exactly does my character loose consciousness or have his blood boil if I fly my broom of flying straight up?

Straight up what?

PRD wrote:

"Altitude Zones: In general, mountains present three possible altitude bands: low pass, low peak/high pass, and high peak.

Low Pass (lower than 5,000 feet): Most travel in low mountains takes place in low passes, a zone consisting largely of alpine meadows and forests. Travelers might find the going difficult (which is reflected in the movement modifiers for traveling through mountains), but the altitude itself has no game effect.

Low Peak or High Pass (5,000 to 15,000 feet): Ascending to the highest slopes of low mountains, or most normal travel through high mountains, falls into this category. All non-acclimated creatures labor to breathe in the thin air at this altitude. Characters must succeed on a Fortitude save each hour (DC 15, +1 per previous check) or be fatigued. The fatigue ends when the character descends to an altitude with more air. Acclimated characters do not have to attempt the Fortitude save.

High Peak (more than 15,000 feet): The highest mountains exceed 15,000 feet in height. At these elevations, creatures are subject to both high altitude fatigue (as described above) and altitude sickness, whether or not they're acclimated to high altitudes. Altitude sickness represents long-term oxygen deprivation, and affects mental and physical ability scores. After each 6-hour period a character spends at an altitude of over 15,000 feet, he must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 15, +1 per previous check) or take 1 point of damage to all ability scores. Creatures acclimated to high altitude receive a +4 competence bonus on their saving throws to resist high altitude effects and altitude sickness, but eventually even seasoned mountaineers must abandon these dangerous elevations.


It's a big change to the rules, and pretty interesting.

I like it that it helps martial types more than casters. IMO they need this help at high levels to stay competitive.

I like that it gives non-wizards something important to do with downtime (to help balance crafting), especially since I don't like metagamey restrictions on crafting.

If I had been designing the HP training rules I might have considered somehow putting them out of reach of casters. I like the 'casters are blasty but fragile, martial types are resilient bricks' trope.


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Yeah, that was my main concern. I'm against the wizard having to subsidize the other PC's magic item habits at all, though. They should take their own damn crafting feats! And get off his lawn, too!

Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
How much clearer can "The increased wealth for the other characters should come out of YOUR increased allotment" be? It is your increased wealth which you are supposed to give up. Not for the crafting components, but for the increased WBL allotment which you could have spent on crafting your own stuff.

You're giving up your potential income from crafting, but you're not giving up your actual share of the treasure.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding kenmckinney's concern, but it seemed to me that he was under the impression that the wizard would have to spend the actual money he'd already earned in order to craft things for other players.

I.e, you and I kill an ogre, and we sell it's ogre-pants for 2,000 gp. Split two ways, that gives us 1,000 gp each. If I want to craft some equipment for you, I would have to spend some of my 1,000 gp to do it (say, 250 gp), leaving me with 750 gp and you with 1,000 gp and equipment worth another 500 gp.

That is most definitely not the case. Maybe I misunderstood kenmckinney, though.

I haven't bought the book yet, and it sounds mostly awesome. But count me among the folks who aren't happy with the crafting/wealth by level tie in. It seems unnecessarily heavyhanded and gamist to me; in my opinion, constructs like this strongly contributed to ruining 4E.

What I would have hoped for is

1) things that other classes can do in their downtime that generate benefit to them analogous to that the wizard can gain by crafting.

2) some suggestions on how to adjust encounters when a party has a great deal of wealth, or less than WBL would indicate. The DM has the power to add more monsters w/o adjusting treasure, so I'm basically unsympathetic to the idea that party-wide WBL problems need such a heavy handed solution. See (1) above for a better way to solve the issue of the wizard becoming overpowered relative to his peers.

I especially dislike the idea that the wizard is obligated by virtue of having his crafting feat to provide services to the group, paid for out of his own treasure share. I hope this isn't really what the book says, and that I've misunderstood this part.

The character background stuff sounds awesome. The building and downtime rules sound great too, assuming balance has been improved since the kingmaker days.

And Sean, I do remember your TSR days. We had a pretty epic argument on once, if I recall correctly!


I've never read/played in a PF module, I'm just familiar with the adventure paths.

If you were going to put 'The Whispering Cairn', and 'There is No Honor' and 'Tides of Dread' in these rankings, which (if any) modules would come out ahead of them?

I am going to go against the grain here. I never fudge die rolls, nor do I use a DM screen.
I have had many PC deaths, but I have not had a TPK in over a decade. And many of my near-TPKs have made the moments that the players talked about for years afterwards.

As DM, you have many tools to avoid a TPK.

First and foremost, you control the circumstances of the encounter. Think the PCs will die in the next battle? Give them surprise... they'll have a chance to flee.

Monsters are not all waiting in squads at full alert. They have lives. They don't all become ready instantly at the first sign of danger. Use this fact to buy PCs time to react.

Once the fight has begun, don't play your monsters smarter than they are.
A gang of ogres doesn't possess the tactical or strategic ability of a mind flayer.

Your friend is displaying the type of behaviors that serial killers are documented to engage in in their childhood.

Some kind of intervention needs to be done, because there's a significant chance that his needs won't be satisfied by the murder of rodents some day. It might end up being someone you know.


In general you want to memorize your offensive spells and write your defensive spells to scrolls. With that in mind, I would memorize an additional casting of Color Spray or Grease (probably the former) and scribe Protection from Evil. If necessary, get rid of the Summon Monster I scroll; it isn't very useful due to its 1 round duration. Not sure if your summoner's charm ability affects scrolls; if it does ignore this last part.


I haven't played traveller in decades and was just browsing this out of curiosity. I love your choice for first edition traveller artwork example. Haha, it looks lower tech than Google Glass and it's listed as TL13! Where is my plasma rifle?


Lots of things can kill a PC if 3 of them get a surprise round followed by winning init and a full attack.

I've never really understood the mechanics for hiding in a wall. How does something in a wall detect things outside of it? Does it have some way of seeing through walls?


Just some stream of consciousness thoughts...

In movies and myth, martial types succeed against evil wizards by skill, guile, luck, and tenacity.

But, Pathfinder's method of allocating stats doesn't make it easy to model this. Warriors have significant incentives to dump INT, WIS, and CHA in favor of physical stats. So the clever hero disrupting the evil wizard's plan by thinking outside the box? Doesn't really fit.

And, there isn't a central 'luck' mechanic in pathfinder. If there was, I would give high level martial types luck in spades. I'd make it a high level class feature of both fighter and rogue types. Essentially, at high levels luck , wit, and treachery defeat planning and magic.... sometimes.

And martial types should be really skillful...essentially I'd kill the rogue and give the fighter all his stuff , at high levels. Probably in Pathfinder high level fighters get extra skill points, and high level rogues get more resiliant, and a 20th level rogue and a 20th level fighter ought to be able to do the same things.


Your job as a DM is to make the core conceit of D&D, which is "Evil sits in a dungeon, waiting to be killed" make sense.

So, you have to come up with reasons that the enemies don't work together, because fighting all the monsters at once is beyond the PC's ability.

Here are some possibilities:

1) The evil overlord mistrusts his lieutenant and wants him taken down, thinking that he'll step in and take care of the PCs once that's done
2) the evil overlord has been going insane and is incapable of reacting strategically
3) underlings are afraid to communicate the attacks up the chain for fear they'll be punished for being weak (my favorite!)
4) the evil overlord's attention is occupied by other threats

Just a few off the top of my head.


Does Pathfinder have a Helm of Opposite Alignment? That might come in handy here.

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Add me to the 'more support articles are better than fiction' crowd.

My order of preference:
1) more maps
2) longer APs
3) more support articles specific to the AP

Here's another idea to consider: Use space in AP volume 2 to revisit stuff in volume 1/tie things together better. I'm sure there are lots of times when you wish you could update something but you've already gone to press. The next volume is a reasonable place to do that -- I doubt many people run your AP's as fast as they come out.

BTW, I suspended my subscription recently because I wasn't finding time to play and I already had a huge backlog of APs to run...but I'll be back!

I dont think it worked...I still have the subscription listed under "My Subscriptions" and I just got an email saying it would go out next week and my credit card would be charged. Would you look into this?

Not sure that worked...please cancel my Adventure Path subscription.


Why would anyone invest thousands of gp in a trap yet not take the steps to make it undetectable via a cantrip? I guess I am the contrarian here, IMC all reasonably sophisticated traps have undetectable aura built into them.


mine arrived!

The maze section IMO has always been the weakest portion of Rappan Athuk, along with Greznek, which feels underdeveloped relative to the rest of the dungeon. My suggestion would be to repurpose the procedural table in the Bloodways section, using it there as well. Or actually my recollection is that the Bloodways were a drop in replacement for the maze section in Rappan Athuk reloaded; is this still the case?


Ha, hustonj pretty much has it right ;-)


Oh, and the rogue should have a mythic ability where they can tell a lie and everyone around them believes it, no matter how absurd it is , with no save, until they get new evidence to the contrary.

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The fighter should have a mythic ability available where he can throw a spear, jump on it, and ride it to its target, then get a free attack as he leaps off .