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The medieval longsword of HEMA references the length of the hilt instead of the blade. The Pathfinder longsword is more like a broadsword or arming sword while the HEMA longsword is the great sword or bastard sword. If you allow your knights to use the bastard sword instead of the longsword, they can simply choose to use it with one or two hands and can switch easily between both methodologies.

There was a 3.5 feat that allowed monks to flurry with a longsword (whirling steel strike) and a variety of archetypes that switch weapons/abilities around so you can 'break the rules' or 'flavor' any way you want.

If your knights use the bastard sword, and are free to use one or two hands, they can use power attack either way but gain more benefit from using it two handed. They can utilize precise strike when using one hand. The weapon versatility feat can allow them different damage types as the stab with the point, cut with the edge, and bludgeon with the flat or pommel.

Allowing/encouraging different usage of the same weapon allows your knights to become masters of a personal style while still being visually distinctive from other characters.

(Every jedi has a lightsabre but they don't all fight the same way.)
(I'm not trying to derail your idea. I hope this helps)

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The chandelier you're talking about would (probably) have glass/mirrors to help direct the light as well.

Don't think about it TOO MUCH or you'll realize that you can't see the moon!

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If you play long enough, you will encounter situations that the rules either do not cover or do not cover well.

If you play with creative people, they will try to use their skills and abilities in a creative, un-anticipated way.

There will be times that you have to adjudicate something to the best of your ability and on the fly.

I always try to make those decisions based on:
1. RAW
2. Specific over general and RAI
3. Past precedent in the game
4. What makes sense based on the table's shared experience with the game world.
5. What feels 'right' to me at the time.

The GM is more than a judge or referee but I think it is important to remember that the job of a referee is to maintain an even playing field for the players.

Operation Mincemeat was one of the allied deceptions used as a prelude to the Normandy landings. It involved a fake messenger and falsified documents. That might provide some ideas you might like.

You could design your own using Hero Forge or something similar.

100. You arrive in an alternate dimension where you have replaced actors in a fantasy/sci-fi TV series about the characters you started as. Everyone thinks that you're "so method" and the only tech available is that of a 1960s Desilu studio.

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I had a PC in a Dragonlance game (years ago) that was REALLY into the Dwarf stereotypes. He called everyone 'Laddie', sank a bunch of money into alcohol, and insisted on using only 'Dwarf Weapons.'

So, to mess with him, I had the group journey to an island that housed a clan of Dwarves cut off from the mainland during the cataclysm. They had adopted a subterranean/submarine lifestyle, ate a lot of fish and fruits, had blonde hair and sun tanned skin.

He hated them all so I made them their hero. They worshipped him.

He got a set of 'Sea-Dwarven' plate armor (+3, neutral buoyancy, breathe water cast at will) that wasn't cursed at all... it's just that when he tried a battle cry like "By Reorx's Hammer, I'll smite thee!" it would come out "pshaa righ... yer like, totally negative, er some junk, and, like, the ocean doesn't appreciate that, like, at all!"

He had to write up a random 'surfer Dwarf' battle-cry for every new battle or the armor wouldn't work.

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If your 'average' foot soldier 8th level character with armor, weapons, and spells, then your crusade will be short, brutal, and successful... because no nation would be able to resist it.

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I'm playing in an Ironfang Invasion campaign and my party distributes equipment to NPCs (refugees, former slaves, rescued prisoners, etc) all the time. We handed over armloads of swords, bows, and armor to the militia of Longshadow as we prepared to defend that town from a siege.

Handing over an extra weapon and armor to someone who will help you out is worth the 'lost loot' in my opinion.

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Since you're going for flavor, couldn't you simply use a sickle as a one handed scythe? They are effectively the same tool with the only difference being size.

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How about this one, oh great collective of knowledge?

Imagine a spool of wire. If I cast light on the spool, it sheds light in a 20' radius. No problem.

What happens if I unwind the spool? Does the entire length of wire (50') shed light in a 20' radius?

What if I affix the wire to something and unwind it as I go down the corridor?

What if I forge several hundred feet of wire and work it into the ceiling of my fortress/stronghold so that it continues in an unbroken length through every room and corridor? Can I light the entire place with a single cantrip?

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I have played several casters who wore armor and accepted at least some ASF.

I had a sorcerer who wanted to look like a squire/herald to all of the heavily armored characters in the group. I HATED being targeted in ambushes and early in every fight because I 'looked like a caster' instead of a martial. I had a mithril chain shirt and both arcane armor training and mastery.

I had a (3.5) Dwarven Fighter/Transmuter (prior to the magus) that wore heavy armor and either took verbal only spells or used the still spell feat for everything. There were also other feats which allowed him to ignore ASF for some spell levels and in some situations.

I don't believe that I ever forgot to account for it.
I enjoyed both characters a lot.

A medium cavalier using a giant (L) tortoise as aa mount.
Get some plate barding and use it to build a turret on top where your cavalier controls the mount and fires the gun(s).
I don't have a build in mind but that sounds like a tank to me.

(Also use a rhino or elephant if you want big and fast.)

(Pre 3.0) There was a set called Gnomish Workman's Leather armor. You might be able to get it into a home game with GM approval.

Description: Gnomish workman's leather armor is a variation of high-quality gnomish leather armor (as described in the Equipment Chapter of The Complete Fighter's Handbook). Gnomish workman's leather is adorned with dozens of tiny tool holders and pouches, typically filled with the most bizarre collection of coins, nails, tools, weapons, widgets, and sprockets ever assembled on one body. For this reason, a set of gnomish workman's leather provides protection identical to studded leather armor.
Campaign Use: Typically, gnomish workman's leather is as silent as normal high-quality gnomish leather armor (no Thieving Skill Armor Adjustment). However, this is before a gnomish workman has gotten anywhere near it. As with most things of gnomish design, the whole is a rather sundry compilation of many disjointed parts.
Strange inventions, secret compartments, locked and trapped pockets, and a dizzying array of tool holders and layered item racks are added, modified, moved, and camouflaged almost daily. From week to week, a gnomish workman's armor may change drastically in appearance and function. The armor has a stowage capacity of 10 lbs., up to half of which can be considered hidden.
Importantly, the special benefits of gnomish high-quality leather armor are lost when a gnomish workman begins collecting items to tuck into this leather garb. While a few items on the belt do not significantly ruin this feature of the base armor, enough gadgets to alter the armor class cannot help but clink and bang into each other, crinkle and spill out when the owner bends over, or accidentally drop off or explode in the most heated battle or flight.
Outside of gnomish society, this type of armor has been rarely seen by non-gnomes. Humans and elves rarely steal things they cannot use, unless hired to do so, and dwarves, who might squeeze into a suit if offered, find the concept distasteful and the appearance much too garish for their otherwise stoic tastes. Halflings have displayed a weakness for the many secret compartments found in gnomish workman's leather, and halfling thieves in particular might treasure this type of armor above all else. Indeed, the black market for gnomish workman's leather is rumored to be funded entirely by halfling-run thieves' guilds. This only adds fuel to any fires of discontent between halfling and gnomish clans.
In human settlements and cities, gnomes only don workman's armor when working privately, deep in their secret workshops. Since no one around them either appreciates or respects the trappings of "master craftsmanship," there seems to be little need to flaunt them.
Within the gnomish clan, however, there is a constant competition between all gnomish craftsmen, among both masters and apprentices. In some clans, the competitions have become formalized, with actual categories (most items carried, best personal trap, most secure pouch, nicest appearance, etc.) and prizes (clan contracts or a special badge to be sewn onto the armor). These contests are held on high festival days, much like a merchant's bazaar (just another special guild tradition to confuse the newcomer or overnight visitor).
In the largest of clans, many competing craftsman's guilds might sponsor and support individual designs or candidates. Every craftsman in the hall will spend long nights tinkering with his own armor to emulate or duplicate the desired effect. Those who succeed will claim partial credit for "testing and perfecting" the basic design. Those who fail might offer small sums of gold for the secret of the new invention.

178. An unconscious albino with a wheelbarrow is lying in a small clearing.

A large stone table composed of a horizontal slab (roughly 10' square) supported by 4 smaller pillars in the corner. The table has been roughly worked but is flat and smooth on the top. Around the edge, strange runes are carved.

If the PCs can decipher the runes, they read "If a willing Victim that has committed no treachery is killed in a traitor's stead, the Stone Table will crack; and even death itself would turn backwards."

The next time they come across the site, it has been cracked.

Ghosts are evil because they hate the manner in which their lives ended. Acting to keep a ghost locked in an undead state sounds evil to me. Making an agreement/contract with the ghost to a) release it to the afterlife or b) restore it to its original life seems better. That way they can pick up a new cleric ally without having a ghost around.

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For the same reason that the federal government doesn't step in when one player owns all four railroads in a game of monopoly, it's just a simulation game instead of actual life.

^ I agree with Sysryke.^

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Those are all valid statements of valid strategies. They are a matter of game design. Whoever does the most HP in damage fastest is very likely to be the winner.

The problem is that if they are optimized to do damage and they view anything you do to minimize the damage they can cause as 'unfair.' Their expectations are at fault. They are bored because there is no challenge and they don't want to be challenged because it means they might 'lose.'

In high stakes games, characters get killed and missions fail. Sometimes evil wins.

As far as strategy goes, you can always ask for help here before you run something. Tell the collective conscious what encounter specifics (creatures, numbers, terrain, resources you have available, party composition, etc.) and somebody here can write out tactics to turn it into any level of massacre you want.

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Being 'bored' by the fights could mean a lot of things. It's best to find out specifically what they mean before trying to fix a problem that you can't fully identify.

• Fights are boring because we're never challenged
Up the difficulty of fights by using higher CR creatures, more numbers, smart lair design, or rival PCs built like they are.
• Fights are boring because we always do the same things.
Change the terrain or adversaries to deny them their standard tactics. They can't simply cover the exits if the room is re-arranging around them and they can't advance in echelon if the whole 'floor' is a series of multi-level invisible planes and the enemy flies.
• Fights are boring because they're all so similar.
Vary opponent types and numbers so that what the opposition does is so wildly divergent from one encounter to the next that they will always be kept guessing.
• Fights are boring because they never seem to lead anywhere.
The group needs to feel like they are making progress in solving the 'story.' If there is just 'big-dungeon' to explore then you may need to add factions and rivals and side-quests into your campaign.

There could be a lot of other reasons too. Ask them for specifics before you go changing things.

Derklord wrote:

To quote myself, "Backstory is not done via classes. PC classes aren't about mundane activities, they're about adventuring (with a big focus on fighting), everything not relevant to adventuring should not be represented by class levels."

The Traveling Merchant NPC in the GMG is an expert, exactly because mundane professions aren't represented by PC class levels.

I don't believe that you're going to change his mind.

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I've looked at this thread and the cleric thread. Something that I haven't seen suggested and that may help is the idea of starting out at higher level but using NPC classes and then re-training out of them.

The idea that an oracle or bard is an 'inexperienced' cleric or wizard is hard for me to imagine. Especially since that as they level up and gain experience they will be becoming MORE like an Oracle or Bard instead of MORE like a cleric or wizard.

If I was trying to do this as role playing backed up by mechanics I would think starting as a commoner4/wizard (generalist)1 would give me the idea. I have been around the community for a while. I have grown up here and have a job, family, and friends. I know people and have a back story. I'm also way tougher than a 1st level wizard. I have more HP, skills, and better attack rolls. I have marginally better saving throws.

But throughout all that time I was working at the tavern or as a clerk in the herbalist's shop, I was also secretly studying my book. It's taken years but I finally started figuring it all out... just in time for the adventure to happen!

Now as I level up I use the retraining rules to replace the commoner levels. At 6th level I retrain one of the commoner levels and become a commoner 3/wizard 3.

If this doesn't help then I apologize for the derail.

Level range 1-9 with 5-9 being the 'sweet spot.'

Fifth level spells are the breaking point for me. After that I start losing the will suspend my disbelief. I like grittier, tougher, 'real-life' campaigns where holding onto your own little piece of the world and keeping your own people safe is hard enough. There's no reason to bring liches, space-faring monsters, and Cuthulu tentacle horrors into my efforts to keep the local Baron from running roughshod over the local peasants.

I have run a lot of campaigns over the last 30 years. Only a few have ever gone past level 12.

Look through this thread at all of the dozens of posts I have made. You can't find them because I was thinking REALLY HARD about being invisible when I made them.

This one CAN be seen because I was thinking REALLY HARD about spelling & typing instead.

That's the difference!

How about summoning 'troops' instead of individuals?
You already have the option of gaining additional creatures from a lower level list. You could expand that concept and get something like:

Summon Monster IX:
• Summon 1 creature from the Level IX list,
• 1d3 of the same creatures from the Level VIII list,
• 1d4+1 of the same creatures from the level VII list,
• a TROOP of 2d4+3 of the same creatures from the level VI list
(all creatures are gathered together into a TROOP using the rules)
(It is a bunch of stuff that acts as a single creature.)

Following the same progression, a summoner could use as Summon Monster IV to get a Troop of poisonous frogs. It can be described as a mass of noxious toads but only takes up one spot on the initiative order.

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1. Check the DC to find and remove/disable the traps. To speed the game along, don't even include the ones that the rogue can deal with by taking 10. They can still 'be there' but they are narrative only.

2. Don't let (all) of the traps be just off by themselves in a corridor. Intelligent enemies use their intelligence to plan defenses of their lairs. Include some traps IN the areas where other encounters will take place.
A pit trap in the doorway can be triggered by a guard at the other end of the room or the squad of hobgoblins set up their phalanx just short of the spot where spikes come up through the floor. They don't disable it because it triggers when they step on the pressure plate and then resets so they can walk past it.
It'll be a lot harrier for the rogue to concentrate on finding them if there is murder and mayhem going on.

3. If the traps are maintained by an opposing force and they notice that they are getting circumvented on a regular basis and that their defenses keep getting raided, have them set up a few traps for the rogue just so they can set up an ambush.
That way the simple snare line and crossbow isn't the trap, it's the bait. The ogres with nets and clubs are the trap.

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Question 1: Is it an issue of the character making the checks all (most of) the time making the traps a non-issue? "The traps don't hurt anyone or consume resources so what's the point?"

Question 2: Is it an issue of time and book keeping slowing down the game? "You spend 20 minutes checking for and disabling traps and I want to get to a fight."

Question 3: Is it a question of the PLAYER wants to check for traps and be challenged but has built a character that negates that challenge? "I have ONE job in this crew! It's Stupid but I'm GOING to do it!"

The problem doesn't seem to be one of you don't know how to build, run, detect, disable, or adjudicate traps according to the rules.

Are you looking for spicier/edgier traps or a way to run them so it doesn't bog down the game?

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ShadowcatX wrote:

If you're such a poor GM the only way you can surprise your party is by taking away player agency I wouldn't enjoy your game.

ETA: I don't mean you personally.

Player agency is getting to determine what their characters TRY to do given the reality that the GM establishes.

As the GM, I decide if it rains on them when they camp.
I decide when a war happens in their hometown.
I decide when a Demonlord goes on a rampage in their neighborhood.

Player agency is deciding to buy a tent next time they're in town.
It is deciding to fight on one side or the other (or neither.)
It is deciding to stand in the door of the church and barring the demon's path to the innocents inside and earning a death worthy of song and story. (Or, I guess, teleporting away like a craven dog and being remembered for an entirely different reason!)

P.S. You clearly did mean me personally, since you were responding to my post and quoted me in it.

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All of the people complaining about loss of player agency... what about the agency of the GM to give the players an experience that they DON'T ANTICIPATE?

I've run a campaign where I took the characters to 6th level and then left them all at a huge cliff hangar. I then switched to another campaign in the same world and led them to a huge cliff hangar and 'abandoned' that one as well. My players were starting to get really irritated that I kept bringing in new things without finishing anything.

The third campaign also got to 6th level. They all started guessing that I would again abandon everything. Instead I allowed them to use all 3 sets of characters to resolve all 3 cliff hangars and unite the campaigns. The three parties then got combined and re-organized to go after three separate pieces of the campaign's goal.

That was MY agency, not theirs.
That was MY creative goal for the story telling, not theirs.
If I had let them have their way, none of that epic campaign would have ever happened.

The player's FUN is important, so is the GM's.
'Player Agency' is making decisions that affect the immediate, making decisions in the moment. GM Agency is the reality that they have (get) to deal with. GM Agency IS the adventure.

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I'm going to disagree with (nearly) everyone here and say that this can work out. If characters have to sacrifice themselves to achieve a goal that they find important, that is a great possible ending to those characters' stories.

I'm not suggesting that it should be used as the end of a long standing campaign where the characters learn that they were sacrificial lambs all along. But as a chapter of an otherwise ongoing story arc or connected campaigns, this could be very useful for story telling.

Look at how Rogue One fits into the Star Wars story line.

If you were using several different sets of characters and groups to tell an epic tale of how a small city grew to be the center of a huge empire, or how a single family acted over generations to topple the Infernal Chelaxian powers, a story about a group of characters who died fulfilling a mission that allowed the story to continue could be viewed years later as a great memory.

But maybe that's just me.

Prepare an action to disarm when the weapon is drawn...

VoodistMonk wrote:
...even if it means guarding the kingdom from the king...

There is nothing more frightening than a group of true believers who decide that the kingdom has to be 'saved'!

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12. Play in a game where the GM is going to be a willing participant in the growth of a cult.

13. Play in a game where the other players either don't care or don't know what's going on around them.


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I think the biggest point I was trying to make, and one that will help you the most is 'it doesn't matter how high the skill check is if there's nothing else to learn.'

A really high check on an insignificant object does NOT make it significant. If I give a pretty scroll case to a group as part of treasure and they get an appraise roll of 15, I'll tell them that they have found a darkwood scroll case decorated with elven motifs, worth 50gp.

If they roll an appraise check and get (with bonuses) a 55, I'll tell them they have found a darkwood scroll case decorated with eleven FLORAL motifs and is similar in style to work done in Kyonin 75 years ago. It's worth 50 gp.

Don't let the rolls create a story plot where none exists. Even if you start talking about Wizards of the Green Hand and the arrangement of the stones, it doesn't give the scroll case any more GAME significance nor does it up the value. It is a scroll case, worth 50GP. If someone fixates on the possible importance of the Wizards of the Green Hand, allow another skill check to reveal that the Sect fell apart due to scandal some 120 years ago. There are almost certainly Wizards around still who WERE members of the Green Hand, but not a single one of them will admit it or talk about it to a stranger.

If that doesn't work, just say... "It's a pretty scroll tube worth 50GP! That's ALL it is."

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Mr Critical...
I will give you the benefit of the doubt and decide that you came asking for help in determining if your GM was ruling correctly. You have your answer. That answer is unanimous. There is no dissent and no disagreement... except from you.
Your GM's original ruling is correct by both RAW and Rule 0. Your interpretation of VMC is also incorrect. The specific rule has been provided.
My advice is to go play the game and have fun... or don't.

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Useful... yes. That doesn't mean that it has to be too specific.
(Everything that follows is simply a possible example...)

Banner of Thelkor
Various Knowledge skills (as appropriate)

Royalty DC 10: This is a primitive heraldic banner on painted on leather.

Local or Royalty DC 15: The banner is similar in style to banners used by modern humanoid tribes/clans. These types of banners haven't been used by Human kingdoms in at least a few centuries.

History DC 20: This banner's symbolism and age would indicate that it was originally created in an area to the south some 4 centuries ago. The petty kingdoms there did not survive long.

Geography DC 15: That area is littered with cave complexes used by local miners for 100 years. Locals believe them to be haunted.

Profession Soldier DC 15: Caves and Mines make a good place to stage an army out of... as long as it remains secret. Being discovered leads to a simple siege, and starvation for the trapped army.

Royalty DC 25: The banner's age, combined with the symbolism indicate that the Jarl who bore it was in league with, or paid homage to, a greater Force or Ruler. That ruler worshipped wicked Gods now long forgotten.

History DC 30: The banner belonged to Thelkor, a Tyrant Usurper who, along with his followers, took part in a war against the Imperium and lost. He was never heard from again.

History or Royalty DC 35: It is rumored among scholars of that study the History of the Jarls, that Thelkor attempted to seize an Imperial Trade City and was vanquished.

Geography DC 40: Some of those caves were artificially sealed. The collapses don't look accidental and are too complete to be circumstance. Local miners don't talk about those particular caves and get really nervous when they are mentioned.

History DC 40: The Governor of the Imperial Trade City, after the last battle against Thelkor's forces, ordered his sappers to seal the vanquished army inside the caves in an act of simple revenge. The Governor's son was killed during the early fighting and the Governor wanted the enemy to suffer as his family had suffered.

Knowledge that Thelkor and his minions turned to cannibalism, survived in a ghoulish state or served a specific BBEG during his coup attempt can not be learned through skill checks. The caves were sealed, forgotten, and left alone for centuries. Nobody goes in there and, if they did, they wouldn't come out again. Thelkor never told anyone that he had betrayed his ruler to the BBEG, that BBEG certainly didn't spread it around, so the knowledge that it happened simply is not recorded.

yukongil wrote:

as a quick aside, hostage takers should have readied actions, um...ready to slice throats at the first sign of conflict. Just make sure to let the players know the scene is setup thusly, so they know what they are getting into.

This should make the players have to negotiate or think outside of just "shoot em betwixt the eyes" to solve it, even if that is get to the point of roleplaying where they can make a bluff check to distract and then shoot em betwixt the eyes

There's the unfortunate side effect of RAW that you can't prepare a readied action outside of combat. Initiative must be rolled and you have to get to your spot in the order before you can do anything.

You can use a surprise round to ready an action to 'cut the hostage's throat' but the hostage has to be bound, unconscious, held, etc to deliver a coup d' grace. A CDG is, of course a full round action, which is NOT a standard action that CAN be readied.

The rules make 'dagger to the throat' and 'loaded crossbowmen on the ledge' kind of a non-starter even at low levels in this game. Players look at a 'cultist with a hostage and a dagger' as a target of a charge/power attack combo instead of a legitimate threat.

I've read the other thread as well.
1. You're only running it wrong if both you and the players have issues or problems.
2. You seem concerned about how much they get from successful checks and/or from how easily they beat those check DCs.

It seems to me that you understand how different knowledge checks and skills interact and that History, Local, and Royalty checks could all give a different piece of the puzzle.

You put information out there so that the PCs will learn it. They have the skills on the character sheet because they view it as important and/or know your gaming style. You DO want them to learn it so that it reveals clues and rewards you for the work necessary in creating the lore.

If the problem is that they get it too quickly, just remember that some of these things will require research. They cannot REMEMBER everything they need off the top of their heads. They aren't carrying their library with them.
It seems simple enough to say that checks of up to DC20 are off the top of the head and 'remembering' but that checks beyond 20 require time and effort just to make.

If the problem is that they can get a check that is too high, then you either need to modify what you give at certain DCs, raise the DCs, or modify your own expectations. (Your characters can make DC 33 checks because they have been built that way. They've been built that way for a reason.)

It depends on what you mean by 'too many.'

There are no rules (afaik) about placement of weapons and equipment on and about the character's body. The game has encumbrance and GM fiat... both of those can affect a decision.

As Name Violation said, how many you can carry is far different from how many can you use.

My personal answer to this kind of question is to draw (or get, or imagine) the character standing around or walking with all of their equipment. If they look ridiculous, ungainly, or otherwise strange I 'fix' it by removing equipment.

I have a knife master rogue in a home game. He carries 9 daggers/knives.
• Two are on the belt at the hip in the 'traditional' places for sword & dagger.
• One is in the small of the back.
• One is tucked into each boot.
• Two are in wrist sheaths on each forearm.
• Two are hidden where they might get by a careful search. One is sewn inside the lining of my cloak and another is sewn into a pouch. Neither is 'combat ready' but both can be gotten by tearing a few seams.
• The only other weapon he carries is a shortbow.

As far as 'what should you do' is concerned, that will depend on what problem you're trying to fix.
• A bow built for your strength is a better back-up weapon because it weighs less and has a greater range. It may also have a better rate of fire depending on how your GM rules drawing a dagger to throw. (It isn't ammunition so it isn't a free action to draw)
• Looking strange can be fixed by carrying fewer daggers, a bag of holding (or similar), or deciding to use shuriken instead.
• If you actually need 50 ranged attacks in a standard fight, returning daggers or a blink-back belt can help you a lot.

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5' wide passages and 10' tall ceilings is a (medium) humanoid convention that should be all but absent in many lairs. Natural caves have narrow spots, squeezing, and openings that aren't 'doors.' Just the idea of a ladder that can be pulled up into the next higher room is an example of how somebody who lived in a cave system would handle basic security. Including things like that is absolutely fair game for a GM.

It would be helpful to know the deities/organizations involved to get more specific on tactics and general plans.

Remember that a cult doesn't have to be overtly religious or overtly evil. The best cults blend in.

Watch Cobra-Kai... there's a cult!

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First off... never call it a cult. It isn't a cult in your eyes, it's a collective, a group of followers, a free association of like-minded individuals, etc.

Second... preach an idea that appeals to the character and that is compatible to the beliefs of the Paladin & Inquisitor. If they are preaching freedom, you preach a more extreme version of that freedom.

Third... Convince your followers that they are elite. Everyone else is small time and only worthy of being initiated into the 'basic' church. Your followers are 'special' and their understanding goes beyond even that of the Paladin & Inquisitor.

Finally... any time that those players are doing something with their new church (in game or in down time) be SEEN to be interested and helpful. Keep all of your own shenanigans between you and the GM.

Characters SHOULD strive to break enchantments and charms cast against them. Characters in books, TV, movies, etc always have that moment when their eyes return to normal, their own personality regains control and they call for help... that's what makes their allies and friends want to help them instead of simply say "oh, well!" and hack them down without mercy.
As a player, I HATE to lose control of my character. As a character, I will fight against the evil sorcerer's control. As a GM, I expect you to make judgments according to the rules. When I come up with a valid way to regain agency, even if only to say no to a command for a single round, I expect that you'll allow it to work.

An off hand weapon (dagger, main-gauche, buckler, lantern, etc) is defensive, offensive, and used to help control the opponent's weapon. Instead of extra attacks, it could give bonuses to AC and to certain combat maneuvers.

The horizon, at sea level, on an Earth sized planet is about 5 kilometers away. The higher the observer's eyes are from sea level, the farther away the horizon is from the observer.

Pathfinder rules and "-1 perception per 10 feet" aside, that starts to give an estimate as to how far away is too far to see something. A person walking along the top of a sand dune can be seen by another person hiding behind a similar sand dune for several miles.

There is a 3.5 feat called whirling steel strike that allows a monk to flurry with a longsword. Since you're the GM, you could rename it 'jabbing steel strike' and allow it to work with a rapier.

If you have a story reason for compelling one character to be in charge then you can also set up story reasons for that leadership role to change. That way individual players/characters can all have agency.

For example, if a party consists of members of a military and have a specific mission to accomplish, a "sergeant and his squad" should be avoided. Instead, there is an officer in command of the overall mission, another officer (a necessary specialist who has the expertise to accomplish the mission), an 'official observer' from a higher HQ (a higher rank than the CO but without command function), and a soldier/security to whom command passes when combat occurs.

However, it is far simpler for most players to have a titular commanding officer who asks for a lot of input from his/her subordinates. The lieutenant isn't a bad officer if he asks the corporal/engineer specialist for advice on where the bombs should be planted.

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