martinaj's page

1,066 posts (2,311 including aliases). 3 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 17 aliases.

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Alright, thanks for the tips! I've sent an e-mail to the address Logan Harper posted (Thanks!), and if nothing else, it seems like I could direct students to the SRD, and maybe get a single set of books to keep in the room.

My current inclination is to pitch a club that will facilitate both Starfinder games and MTG: Arena matches as a sort of tabletop games starter.

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Want to ask here before I pull the trigger on anything.

So I just started at a new high school, and each teacher is supposed to sponsor a once-per-week club. Mine will start next semester and it doesn't have a tabletop club, so that's my strongest leaning right now. If interest is high enough enough among students, I may be able to get a little bit of funding for it.

I think it would be big stretch to get enough for a set of physical rulebooks (I would want to gauge interest of students and use either PF2 or Starfinder), but probably enough for PDFs. But I know that there would probably be legal issues involved there regarding sharing them with students, so I want to see what the situation there would be.

For example, a set of PDFs was purchased with a school account, could they be shared via a google drive with students? That way they would only have access as long as they are students, since they'd lose their school account after graduating.

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There's also a fun little fringe theory that Desna is, in fact, the sole good-aligned Outer God, and that her true form is some kind of enormous, monstrous space butterfly.

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I would just have her sing "Mary Sue."

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Early childhood development specialist The master of stars (the society's biggest flagship) apparently has some kind of childcare.

Nutrition specialist (cook)


3d printer tech

copy machine technician (paperless office is coming AAAANy year now...)

alternate landing gear system operator (when it gets stuck someone turns a crank)

safety instructor (in the event of a crash, your seat cushion can be used as a life preserver or an emergency nutrient bar)

window washer

I love these. I'm kind of torn between having them play out these positions for a few missions or having them be part of the away team on the first session, only for the captain and first mate to die by lava monster or something, and then the ship radios to ask who is left alive and they're like "Ah, no one important then," and start the campaign with them marooned on an uncharted planet.

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Four-winged storks.

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I think this would be nigh impossible to balance in a satisfying fashion. When someone wants to play a dragon, they want to be a DRAGON, not a hatchling that never grows up. And not a version of the creature that's been scaled back to be balanced against humanoid PCs.

The only solution I would see is a sourcebook entirely about campaigns where the PCs are dragons. Council of Wyrms 2: Electric Boogaloo.

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I really hope that in this edition we eventually see a gazetteer for each continent, especially Casmeron. I was a little bummed that we only got Tian Xia in 1E.

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James Jacobs wrote:
martinaj wrote:
There are several modules or APs I've looked and come across an NPC that immediately makes me go "Oh, this one is an author's favorite."

I don't understand the point of this complaint. If an author doesn't have a favorite NPC in an adventure they write... they're not really into writing that adventure and I like to think that the authors we hire to write adventures have passion for the subject.

In every adventure I write I put a lot of myself into the NPCs... the allies and the enemies alike, and I often have multiple NPCs who vie for the role of "favorite."

And when I read another's adventure and they have lovingly detailed and interesting NPCs... that adds to the game for me.

I guess I see where you're coming from, but I think it's a difficult line to walk in an AP format, where so much information has to be condensed so heavily. There have been times when I've seen someone in an AP or module and it's obvious that the author really likes this character, but there isn't room to flesh them out and present them to the reader in the way that the author sees them. By necessity, an AP that isn't a doorstopper needs to adapt a "tell, don't show" account of its characters and events sometimes, but when too much of this is focused on a single character one ends up asking "What's so great about this guy, and why should they be stealing the spotlight from my PCs?" I think the larger the role they play in an adventure that isn't an antagonist that is eventually thwarted, the greater the risk of their appearance seeming to chiefly serve as self-gratification for the writer.

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I think a mostly underwater AP dealing with the alghollthus could be cool. Maybe the party reveals the identity of a veiled master in the first adventure and they book it rather than fight an entire city, then in the second adventure they start looking into what it was up to and get wind of a plan to reconquer Golarian by opening a large, persistent portal to the elemental plane of water, flooding the planet over the span of a few years or a few decades, and then the rest involves the party going deeper and deeper into the ocean to deal with that biz.

Not exactly pathfinder, but I would also love to see a Starfinder AP that involves an immortal-but-senile Jatembe resurfacing, maybe in response to the King of Biting Ants rearing his head again on Akiton.

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Looks like the thread has drifted away from the topic a bit, but I absolutely adored the feel of very early Pathfinder, and it does feel like it's been made more friendly for all ages as it's gotten more popular. I do miss it though.

Rise of the Runelords is probably my favorite Paizo AP, and my second favorite AP overall (behind Razor Coast), because when I read it I kept thinking "Oh cool, it's like D&D for adults that doesn't try too hard). It was gritty, it was pulpy, and the forward from Hook Mountain Massacares (probably my favorite single adventure) STILL has me thinking that one ogrekin was filating his brother in the original draft.

These days it feels like a lot of the grittiness has been smoothed out, which I understand, but it's now the rules system that keeps me engaged in Pathfinder more than the lore. Some of my personal problems with it have been reflected by others in this thread. There are several modules or APs I've looked and come across an NPC that immediately makes me go "Oh, this one is an author's favorite."

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Corwin Icewolf wrote:

Prestidigitation. You can't even clean yourself off with it anymore.

Clean yourself?! I always used it to soil myself if I had an empty bladder but wanted someone to leave me alone.

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DFAnton wrote:
martinaj wrote:
The nature of complaints I see popping up a lot here boil down to "This class can't do whatever I want it to do." I mean, seriously? That's kind of the entire point of a class-based system. Different classes play differently. One of my biggest complaints of PF1 was that it got to the point where I felt like my class wasn't actually doing enough to distinguish my character. They had a couple unique gimmicks, sure, but a witch I made didn't feel fundamentally distinct enough from an Enchanter or a Fey Sorcerer. When someone comes out and says "I want X class to be able to do whatever I want," I have to wonder to myself why they're even playing Pathfinder instead of a system that uses build points to create characters, or maybe an STG.

This is such a blatant misinterpretation of people's arguments that I can only assume it is willful and in bad faith.

Please, go make a light armor fighter. Or a ranger with a two hander. Or a rogue with a spear.

These are not "I want to do whatever I want" requests. These are "why does a master of weapons and armor not get any bonuses to 2/3 of the armor choices as options when that used to be a thing they could do?" Or "why can I not take a general combat feat to use a two hander better?" Or "why can I not sneak attack with a weapon that has been used in sneak attacks for all of history?"

These are basic, basic things. SO MANY complaints would be resolved if there were just more general feats, and class feats were used specifically for things that make a class special and unique (animal companions, channeling energy, etc.).

Alright, maybe I sounded a little cranky in my initial post, but this is more or less what I'm talking about. With most of these examples, I guess I just don't see why I see why they need to be there. From my perspective, this edition seems to push each class towards a certain set of playstyles, but I don't see that as a bad thing. I don't think every class should be able to be played in any way, because it cheapens what makes them distinct. I would argue that a lightly armored fighter could be re-imagined as a rogue or a ranger. I think saying that "spears can't sneak attack" is an extremely nitpicky thing to complain about, because what is it you really want to do? Do you want to do a lot of damage while using a spear? There are other classes that can do that. I would argue that most of the frustation here is just being married to the idea of your class being called "rogue." I'm going into this looking at it in terms of "what class works best for the concept I want" rather than "which concepts can I do with this class."

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The nature of complaints I see popping up a lot here boil down to "This class can't do whatever I want it to do." I mean, seriously? That's kind of the entire point of a class-based system. Different classes play differently. One of my biggest complaints of PF1 was that it got to the point where I felt like my class wasn't actually doing enough to distinguish my character. They had a couple unique gimmicks, sure, but a witch I made didn't feel fundamentally distinct enough from an Enchanter or a Fey Sorcerer. When someone comes out and says "I want X class to be able to do whatever I want," I have to wonder to myself why they're even playing Pathfinder instead of a system that uses build points to create characters, or maybe an STG.

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I like it overall. It needs some polishing, but I can't believe how people are whining about it. It seems like everyone is cranky a because 434 page book doesn't let them chose from 30-some classes and hundreds of archtypes (I actually read a complaint that was exactly this - someone complaining that there were only 12 base classes and not enough archtypes). It sounds to me like a lot of people weighing in on this are just spoiled as hell.

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I like PF2 overall, but I definitely agree with this. A lot of the classes get a legendary proficiency as their 19th level ability, and while it does SOUND cool, getting an extra +1 to my main thing is underwhelming in practice.

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Overall I like what I'm seeing in PF2, but the layout is my single biggest complaint. I would still prefer text to symbols on abilities - it's not a video game. I think with text, it is far, far easier to infer what something means if you're still working on your system proficiency. I'd rather see "1 action" displayed next to an ability than a little nested diamond. I think that uncommon and rare player options should include a brief entry next to them that tells you what you need to do to get access to them ("x" spell can be granted by "x class feature," or "y" weapon is opened up by "y" ancestry feat.)

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1) I don't have an active game right now because I can't find a group that won't constantly flake on me, but I used to play a ton of PF1. However, when I have been working towards getting a game off the ground, PF1 has dropped down to like my 3rd or 4th choice behind SF, Shadowrun, and possibly a new RPG that has recently caught my interest.

2) This is me in a nutshell. When the PF1 hit, it was my favorite thing ever. It had a lot of elegant fix to balance issues from 3.5. As it drug on though, the power creep and the enormous glut of option started to kill it for me. None of my characters felt particularly special anymore when everyone was running around with an obscure class, and I felt like the extreme number of class options actually made the decisions I made within my own class less special. It was less a question of "how do I want to build this witch?" and more a question of "would I rather make a mesmerist?" I'm not against new classes - I loved the APG, but they started hitting too fast. I'd prefer a book after a year or two that has maybe four new classes, and then I'd like to see it slow down from there. It had a few gems, but conceptually, I feel the Advanced Classes Guide was too far. I want more options for the classes that already exist before I want entirely new classes.

3) I played 4th for a little bit. I actually really liked how combat flowed, and how tactical it became. I went back and forth over whether I preferred skills having ranks or being simply trained or untrained, so I love the proficiency system in PF2. Everything else in 4th ed was worse, tho. I have never played 5th ed.

4) I think more anything, I want the choices I get to make within my class be significant, and that's one thing I like about PF2, at least conceptually. Class feels more important, and so does race. Many of the most significant options you will chose about how your character performs seems to be found within class, but there also seem to be a few distinct ways to go about it. I need to look through it a little more, but I think it's cool that Fighters gain legendary weapon proficiency, while Paladins get legendary armor proficiency. I like that some of the class options that used to be automatic are now class feats that you have to pick, because, for example, it lets me make a druid that is more of a nature mage than a shapeshifter, and if I don't want to wild shape, I can pick something that will compliment my abilities as a spellcaster instead. I like low level play to include, shall we say, more options that starfinder has. Not necessarily super powerful ones, but interesting ones. I think the paladin's retributive strike is a good example here. It's unique, it affects how you will want to position yourself, and I think that's interesting. The increased durability of 1st level characters is a huge plus, IMO, as are scaling at-will cantrips.

5) I WANT to say that I prefer depth to accessibility, but lately when I've tried to start new games with new players, no matter what system I bring to the table it feels like they are almost TRYING to not get it, so I'm not sure.

6) Mostly, but not entirely. I'm still willing to tough out new players learning a complicated system if it lends itself to more depth, better options, and a smoother flow once they've been thoroughly understood, but I don't want to see them taking it to Hackmaster levels.

7 & 8) If they were to put forth a different rules system, I'd give it a go, but I'm also willing to give this one a go. I think they are, overall, on the right track. They DEFINITELY need to clean up their formatting - I think that's the biggest problem with this right now. Currently, I'm not super bothered by it because I understand it's just a playtest, but if 2019 comes along and the final book is laid out like this, I'm gonna be pretty miffed.

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Chris Kenney wrote:

The problem isn't the generic nature of the options given alone. It's that, with the aggressive siloing of those options into neat little boxes, characters tend to feel far more generic than PF1's core options alone.

In PF1, I could make an entire party of four Bards straight from the core rulebook and they'd mostly feel distinct from one another right from level 1, before even sitting down to play. Without archetypes this wouldn't be a good idea due to the Performance overlap, but it could be done. I can't really do that in PF2 - they're restricted to a small set of very similar weapons, the large pool of known skills and shorter list of skills means they're going to have a pretty large overlap even before Bardic Lore and Versatile Performance are taken into account. There's Ancestries and Spells, but (not having had a chance to play yet) the Occult list doesn't feel like it has enough variety to make up for the fact that everyone's going to have a longsword, rapier, or their race's ancestral weapons plus a short bow.

There's also something about Signature Skills that. . . feels restrictive. It's not as bad as it feels, but you end up looking at it and getting the initial impression that "This is all the class is good for."

I feel like you're excercising Trumpian levels of willfull disregard for relevant details here. Bards in PF2 have exactly the same weapon proficiencies here that they did in the PF1 core rulebook. A PF1 core rulebook bard gets to chose their race, their skills, their spells, and a 1st level feat. In PF2, a 1st level bard gets to chose, let's see... Their race (ancestry), their skills, their spells, their muse, and an ancestry feat. They actually get an additional choice to make over PF1 bards. Now, yes, the pool of feats they are choosing from is narrower than in PF1, but I think that using that single 1st level general feat as justification for "I can make PF bard and they'll all be different and all the PF2 bards will be the same." PF2 bards, as you already pointed out, can snap up a racial weapon proficiency if they want more options. They can all chose different spells. They can pick different muses. Many cantrips are also significantly more useful than they were in 1st ed, giving them more valid at-will options.

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Ched Greyfell wrote:

Yea. It's a playtest. So the devs are looking to see what works great, and what is clunky. So, saying you're quitting the game forever because the first day of a year-long playtest didn't strike your fancy... Did you never eat your wife's cooking again after the first time she made a recipe she was trying out?

Give your feedback and see how the product develops.

Fixed it.

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See, what I feel like I just read at the top of this thread was "Beta playtest book has layout problems. Not playing Pathfinder anymore."

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I noticed that Droogami has put on some weight since PF1.

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I'm actually a little surprised by how much people seem to take issue with this. I gotta say, I was very ready for a change - the glut of classes and power creep in PF1 had gotten pretty out of hand, and even though I'm not a big fan of how SF did gear (I hate leveled items), I love almost everything else they did with the system, and PF2 seems to build on a few of those design philosophies while trying some new s#%# too. I feel more or less the same way about this game after a quick glance at it. There are some things that are weird, but not bad. There are some things that I kinda hate. But overall, I like the direction they seem to be moving, though I really hope they tighten this up before release, because the layout is a mess.

To me, PF2 feels kind of like AD&D for the modern age. They way that the pieces of the system fit together seems more complex than PF1, but less so than, say, Shadowrun.

Here's my takeaway so far...

Feats everywhere! I've been absolutely in love with PoE: Deadfire, which has a similar system for leveling characters, so this doesn't really bug me. I actually think that it will make it easier to track the overall balance of classes while adding future options when so many of their most significant build options are part of their class entries - smaller chance of a general feat escaping notice and being totally borken on a specific class. That being said, I agree with what a lot of people have said here - calling them general feats, racial feats class feats, and skill feats is going to be a little confusing, and I wouldn't mind seeing them renamed.

Ability score generation and proficiency I love how they stats did in in Starfinder, and I love how they do it here even more. I like coming out of making any character with nice, round numbers, and I like. With proficincies ensuring the greatest disparity between base bonuses between two classes is no greater than +5 (untrained vs legendary), it makes your ability score bonuses a much larger part of what you excell at, which I like.

Racial stats and feats] Another thing I love. Race just feels like it will play a bigger role in my character here, and that picking my race is more than just something I chose at 1st level and then forget about forever. It locks some of the more powerful racial abilities (wtf were they thinking with +2 to saves against ALL spells in PF1?) are locked behind feats, but feats that I still I will be able to get without deviated from my class's build.

Spellcasting overhaul This one I have mixed feelings on. I think the heighten mechanic is interesting, but I feel like they missed an opportunity saying "you have to do an entire activity in one go." I think it would add an interesting element to combat if a spellcaster could cast a multi-action spell over 2 or 3 turns (with the caveat that they must spend at least one action towards progress in the activity each round or the spell fizzles, and you initiate any new activities until the current one is finished - basic actions only). This way, you could have a wizard weaving through a battlefield and maybe taking a couple potshots with a crossbow as they charge their spell.

I'm not sure yet about the reshuffled spell lists. On paper, I like it. It makes it far easier to track what spells a given character has access to as more spells are released, but I'm not sure about the actual spell lists we got. We have a sorcerer who can potentially be flinging spells from the "traditional" cleric or druid spell list, which I think is rad as hell thematically and it changes up the niches sorcerers can occupy, but I don't know if I'm convinced all of the spell lists are balanced against one another.

As far as giving everyone 9th level spells, I could take it or leave it. The bard was really a support class anyways, and spells were always a big part of what they did in-practice. Adding in the angle of them being more dedicated mental mages can work, but I also think that heightening could have opened up an interesting way to go about making 6-level casters. What if, instead of getting 7th+ spells, a bard instead started getting more casts per day of their lower level spells, and around level 12 or 13, ALL of their spells are automatically heightened by +1 (maybe later to +2, and at 18th or 19th level they could heighten one to +3 a couple times per day?). This way, the actual power behind the spells they are casting is still in line with the higher level spells they give up, and they can cast their spells more frequently, with their lower level spells always being more powerful, but they entirely give up access to the biggest, baddest spells in the game.

Goblins as a core race Absolutely despise this choice. Sometimes, when I play an RPG, I want my monsters to be monsters. I remmber that when PF first hit, I feel head over heels in love with their monster manual because I had just been having a discussion with one of my buddies like a week prior that in 3.5 it felt like every other monster in the bestiary had been rewritten to being either misunderstood or "not as bad as they make it out to be." And PF1, initially, departed radically from that. Their goblins were creepy, their ogres were horrific, and even the goofy ol' bugbear got a chilling writeup. I feel like a lot of this grittiness the setting started with has disappeared.

Alchemist as a base class 12 classes is just a rounder number than 11, and we had no shortage of classes to add. I'm glad they went with the alchemist, because it adds an option for someone who wants to play a medieval fantasy scientists, or someone who wants to sort of cast spells, but not really. I also think this would have been a good chance to trim a little more fat and get rid of some legacy classes that were largely redundant or thematically off and save them for a later release instead (The sorcerer got a cool overhaul, but I wasn't convinced they were necessary when 3.0 hit, and I'm still not - Not that they never have a place in the game, but I feel like they're close enough to other casters that the space in the core rulebook would be better spent on a more distinct class)

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With all of the company towns, defunct mining operations, and general lawlessness, I like to think of Akiton as an ideal planet for a space-western feel.

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So if I, as a GM, felt like this was an issue, and wanted a house-rule fix for my own games, what would you suggest? I had a couple ideas for minor tweaks (would only use one of these).

Give solarians +2 skill points per level.

Change the Solarian's main ability score. Just as soldiers can chose between dex/str, maybe Solarians could chose between channeling the power of the stars via meditation (Wis) or rigorous conditioning (Con), with their DCs calculations likewise adjusted. At first using con as a main attribute seems kinda over the top, but Con also isn't as meaningful in SF as it was in PF. Would this buff be too significant?

Use D&D 5th ed style saves, where everyone gets to use Str or Con for Fort, Int or Dex for ref, and Wis or Cha for Will. This is the one I am currently favoring, because it would open up new viable build options (especially melee) for other classes.

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I will eventually be expirimenting with this on an NPC in my game (the party will be working with Jatambe later on), but I'm going in with the assumption that it'll be boners broken. If it turns out not to be too impactful ,though, I might jave the old mage teach a new generation of full casters after he resurfaces

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I got one.

The Trans-Idarian Orchastra

Originally a group of Kasatha musicians who sought to incorporate traditional Kasatha instruments and musical structures into modern Pact World styles, this band has taken off, influencing new sub-genres in several styles of music, and they are often booked at major venues. They have recently branched out into experimenting with music from the Veskarium ever since they took on a Skittermander who many now consider history's best guitarolinist, a Kasatha instrument that requires four arms and a lot of dedication to play.

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That is a LOT of loot. Of the low-level stuff I placed for my party so far, I think they jump jets are the ones they got the most excited about. In my last game our Solarian used them in tandem with Black Hole to pull a sniper from his roost.

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I've been doing a lot of fiddling with different things in my own game, and you can generally feel free to go a little overboard on loot if something provides flavor the players will enjoy or a it gives them a fun option to play with. The level 2 and 3 items are BARELY better than level 1 ones, and items only sell back at 10% price, so they aren't going to get filthy rich by selling what they show no interest in.

I've been dropping in a ton of slightly different weapons to give my PCs a chance to play with them, so I can see, for example, if one character prefers ballistic weapons or laser weapons, if they like the AoE weapons or more conventional ones, etc... They've picked up a flame pistol and a tactical arc emitter, and the characters who carry them are already evaluating placement in combat a little more carefully, trying to decide which of their options would be best in a fight.

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Mostly I want to do something about the MAD issue that they face, because it seems to be the most pronounced on the Solarian class. They get some bonuses to a few extra skills but few skill points and little room for int, hence the extra skill points per level.

As for cha, I just see so manny people sating they should take their 1st level in soldier to tie their main stat to str that I figured if its that important to them i should just change their main statt in my game so they dont have a level tax on top of a feat tax (heavy armor proficienxy or weapon profociency) to do their thing at the same level as other classes. I thought about making it str, but that seems like it would favor weapon solarians over armor-based ones.

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baggageboy wrote:

I think the reason for solarians having Cha as a main stat is to entice/ensure that solarians have some out of combat abilities. With con as a main stat you won't get that benefit as con isn't used for any skills.

I dont disagree, but I think this was actually the biggest flaw in their design. Their abilities clearly make them a combat class, first and foremost. They have more combat-related abilities than any class except soldier, and they're listed as a combatant class in Alien Arcives. I figure that there's no point in prwtending, and giving them con as a main stat, I thought, might help to further carve out theirr niche in that arena, which is to say "Solarians have a lot of hit points." There is still no reason they couldnt invest in cha of they want some social skill bonuses, but this way it would be an option tjat is provided, not enforced.

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So I've got a solarian in my party in the game I am running, and I want to show the class a little love. I know the debate on whether or not they strictly NEED a buff is ongoing, but it comes up here often enough that I want to give them a tiny boost in my game, and was thinking about making two simple changed. Just wanted to check here to see if these would ameliorate their problems, or if i am missing something amd I'm going too far.

Change 1: 6 skill points per level.

Change 2: Their primary statis Con (a hale and hearty frame has an easier time channeling the power of the cosmos!) I saw there are no classes that use con as their main stat (though maybe that was an intentional choice) and this would be a stat desired by both weapon and armor-based solarions so a 1 level dip into soldier doesnt seem as optimal.

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Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
12:00 AM Pacific time tonight (3:00 AM Eastern for me)

Me too. I'm buying this when I wake up in the middle of the night to pee.

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104. An over-the-hill elven soldier who's earliest memory is waking up in his home, filled with with trophies from various military campaigns on distant worlds, and has joined the starfinder society in hopes of seeking out the planets where they came from to find clues about who he was before the Gap.

105. A ysoki envoy with a knack for fast-talking who fell into a life in the slums of Absolom Station after falling deeply in debt because of an out-of-control gambling addiction. The Aspis Consortium paid off his debt, but now he has to do odd-jobs for them smuggling contraband onto the station, and he desperately wants out.

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I've actually been trying to take that approach with races. I'm trying to hammer out the crunch for each of my six races with very different ability score bonuses and penalties and then adding traits that are either interesting or that skew the race towards a specific role (but not a specific class). Sidhe (elves) are really sneaky and perceptive, and gnomes can smell magic, having both the scent ability and a constant detect magic effect that only works as long as their olfactory sense is functioning.

For religion, I want to split things up between a few different faiths that generally don't recognize the legitimacy, or at least the divinity, of one another so I can really ham up how a lot of old beliefs were demonized for being pagan in the 8th century. I also want them all to function a little differently when it comes to mechanics. The most traditional religion I have is going to be a panthesitic machine that has elements of both druidism and Nordic myth, but was thinking of having all of their priests be druids, creating a druid archtype that trades out their animal companion for a single domain selected from one of the gods of the pantheon, and that spontaneously heals instead of summons. For the more "christian" faith, which is tentatively called the Church of Penitence, I was thinking of a system where every cleric chooses one domain from a large list representing their single deity (it's monotheistic), but then they would also all have a patron saint that determines their choices for their second domain.

As far as outright removing alignment based domains, what would you think of, for the purposes of this game, instead working at sort of redefining what that domain means while keeping the same mechanics? So a deity wouldn't have the good domain simply because they have a good aspect of their alignment, but they might if concepts such as altruism were a central tenant of their faith, or the evil domain if their beliefs were centered around selfishness or spite?

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I've been working on my own homebrew setting that seeks to "fantasy up" the Christianization of the Saxon British Isles, and I'm starting with races and religions, and I was wondering if you might offer your expertise as a designer to a couple of hurdles I'm staring down.

I've been redesigning all of the races using the rules in the Advanced Races Guide, and I want to keep them fairly balanced against one another. Do you feel that would call for them to all be built on exactly the same point value (I'm looking at 10 right now), or would going 2 or 3 points over one a few races be fairly negligible if their abilities were less specialized or features bonuses to things that come up less often in an adventure, like craft skills?

For religions, I notice that all deities in Pathfinder have exactly 5 domains. Do you feel this would be important to maintain as a balance factor, or is it not that big a deal? I notice they also always have their relevant alignment domains. If alignment is downplayed in the setting, would it be reasonable to only give these domains to a select few deities for whom that aspect of their being is particularly important?

On a similar note, what would your thoughts be on having cleric domains (or even classes) based around specific religions and pantheons instead of specific deities?

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I'm okay with cosmic horror as a concept, but I'd much rather they use it as an inspiration for something new is far preferable to ripping creatures straight from the pages of Lovecraft's stuff, which seems to be the way it always goes. Lovecraft always seems to be afford this sacred untouchable status and fans who incorporate his stuff into their games seem completely unwillingy to adapt it, instead forcing the game world to adapt to Lovecraft, but we don't do this with other source material. We have the Whispering Tyrant instead of any number of actual fictional evil overlords, for example. We don't actually see Sauron in the world, so why is there this need to use Cthulu instead of a Cthulu substitute?

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I'm hoping to see not to much Lovecraft stuff. I really want to like this, but once Pathfinder got heavy on the Dark Tapestry, I switched to Shadowrun, and I'm worried that JJ's Lovecraft thing could come through even stronger in this game.

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How Lovecraft-heavy is this thing going to be? That has a large and direct impact on how likely I am to purchase this product line.

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Weird West isn't a bad thing for me. I'm on the lookout for a gritty, low-magic (but still with magic) western setting.

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Why didn't we embrace Tesla's alternating current sooner? Why aren't we building more local solar panels? Why aren't we cloning our beef? These are things that would, objectively, benefit our society, but progress in a society isn't usually dictated solely by reason or long-term interest. Prejudices, personal interests, and and an established way of doing things coupled with a common aversion to large change usually does a lot to stop this sort of thing from catching on. It's true in our world, and I don't imagine it would be different in a fantasy world.

If you start looking at what would logically happen in a fantasy setting with the resources available, it's easy to snowball with speculations on how things would "really be," but the same social and cultural problems that impede such development in the real world can be just as applicable in a fantasy setting.

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Here is what I would do.

Have the PCs held for a day due to Ironbriar's machinations. He wants them locked up, but very soon one of the Sandpoint nobles shows up and acts as a voucher for their character. They have enough pull that the word of the noble is enough to at least keep them out of holding until a trial,which Ironbriar insists on, but they aren't allowed to leave Magnimar.

One of the guards who was there when they killed the stalker meets with them and tosses in his support - he saw what happened, and the PCs story (sounds like they'd be honest) would seem to be supported by that. Next day he's dead. Then the guards who were on scene keep turning up murdered by the Skinsaw Cult as Ironbriar tries to pick off all of their friendly witnesses, and the PCs have to try to work against this shadowy (to them) mastermind and clear their names. They probably out Ironbriar in the process, and the adventure can proceed more or less as written from there.

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James Jacobs wrote:
I'm kinda tired of fantasy movies where the main bad guy is just a scary wizard.

But Karzoug was sooooo good! I think Rise of the Runelords would make a killer 12 episode miniseries.

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So JJ, I'm gearing up for a Carrion Crown AP, and am making some pretty significant tweaks to the BBEG and his motivations. What alignment do you think this guy is now?

Adivion Adrissant was an old friend and colleague of Professor Lorimer. He's an archaeologist and a veteran member of the Palentine Eye who has long felt that Golarion is on the precipice of oblivion, with threats such as House Thrune, the Worldwound, and a corrupt crusade mounting all around them. In his younger days, he traveled around Avistan imploring leaders and organizations to unite against these dire threats, but it seemed that they were all to short-sighted to realize the gravity of the situation facing the world. He is now extremely desperate, and believes that the only way to unite Golarion is to unleash a threat that they will be forced to come together to answer, so he has joined the Whispering Way and intends to free the Whispering Tyrant in the hopes that the world will once again come together to stop, and that after seeing what they can accomplish together they will go on to conquer the other evils of Golarion. He feels that if the world cannot accomplish this, it was doomed anyway. He takes during his quest to minimize the death of innocents as best he can, and is furious at Auren Vrood for allowing Lorimer to die (he is going to help put the PCs on Vrood's trail in book one when they meet him at the funeral). I plan for him to appear as one of the PC's closest allies early on, because he is actually going to be helping him clean up his cultists' messes, using the PCs as damage control to ensure that whatever problems the Whispering Way leaves in its wake is managed. He's going to fight the PCs in book four and probably trounce them, but let them go because "the world will need them soon."

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Did you read the review I wrote, or did you just look at the stars? I feel like I gave a pretty thorough and well-reasoned reasoned explanation for my rating - I wanted to give it 2.5 stars, but there are no half stars, and I was admittedly in kind of a crummy mood when I wrote it, so I rounded down.

They had some cool stuff in here, but it was not a perfect book, and some of my complaints are echoed in the other reviews, I think I just found them far more glaring.

My conclussion was that the book was a poor value at $45, but that it's worth the $10 PDF.

As far as your forensic profile...

I haven't played D&D in YEARS. I was delighted to see Pathfinder take off after 4th edition came out, and I haven't touched 5th edition.

I actually love bestiaries, and I especially love Paizo's earlier penchant for getting back to the roots of various monsters that have been taken from folklore, and for their reinvention of classic monsters like goblins and ogres. I felt like such creatures, in this installment, had only a superficial connection to their inspiration. It Thought Bestiary 1 was fantastic, Bestiary 2 was pretty good with a couple of flops, Bestiary 3 was potentially the best yet, and I wasn't a huge fan of Bestiary 4. I love a variety of monsters, but I get a little miffed when we have, as another review pointed out, air elementals, invisible stalkers, and aerial servants all running around together.

I'm not sure what you mean by your 3rd point.

Ultimately, I really like Pathfinder, but I feel like there has been a slippage in their quality as they've gotten more popular, sacrificing depth in their writing (which they used to have in spades in like every product) for stuff that is more superficially cool. Compare Rise of the Runelords to Wrath of the Righteous. I can be a little rough on them because I want them to stay on their toes and continue to produce good s@%%. They seem to have a fanbase that is more rabidly loyal than that of Rush, which is healthy for business, but it's no good for quality control if no one ever calls you out on your s%*~.

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I guess I would be traveling around the Dragon Empires teaching Taldane to the youth.

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I used it once as a tool to get the party on track (ish). I had two guys that were going to scout out Thistletop on their own during Burnt Offerings, leaving 3 other party members in town with nothing to do. I could already see the other three guys getting bored, so I had the Sandpoint Devil attack the two scouts on the road, mess them up, and make off with a horse. They were a little more careful about wandering outside of town without the full group after that.

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He still can't single-handedly conquer Golarion though. WotR has some guys coming very close to pulling of a stunt akin to what Tar-Baphon wants to accomplish, and it has taken a century of planning, along with the collaboration of two powerful demon lords, a powerful archmage, and hordes of demons that include several CR 25+ individuals.

Bottom line, dude still needs to plan his assault, and even though he's going to hit hard and fast if he comes crashing through the gates, the advantage of surprise doesn't last forever. When he ruled central Avistan for half a century, he had armies of orcs and undead at his disposal, and he was eventually defeated. We've got just as many armies out there today, and plenty of powerful NPCs who can field formidable armies.

More than that, when it comes to a threat like Tar-Baphon, most people are going to be smart enough to put aside a few differences (for a while) to bring the hammer down on him, not just the big good NPCs. We'll have neutral and even evil people willing to work to oppose him. I don't imagine that Cheliax is eager to see him snuff out all life, nor would their devilish allies (they need those souls to flow). Molthune has a not-insignificant military that they could bring to bear. Irresen is insular enough that they'd probably leave him alone if he did the same for him, but if it becomes to obvious that he's about to get all omnicidal, he might also have the white witches to contend with. This is not some dude who wants to conquer a nation or two or rule the world. To a lot of peasants, life under one king is not much different from life under another. But that isn't his game. He wants to kill everybody. That's the Whispering Way, is it not?

So yes, like you said, a being of his power is going to shape the affairs on a continental scale, and he's got to be ready for how a continent is going to react to him.

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Here's a brief overview of an arc I had plotted out a while back, though it may hit too close to wrath of the righteous for some...

Heroes start as local youth of skill in the River Kingdom of Artume. They get embroiled in the local politics, figure out just how bent the reagent is, and it starts to look like a campaign that will be about restoring the old Queen to her throne. They fight the reagent's goons for a few levels, rally the people of the land, and around level 5 or 6 are ready to take on the reagent in a big showdown.

Surprise! They kill him and find out he's possessed by a shadow demon, who has been trying to spread chaos through Artume. It's also an unusual powerful shadow demon (has one or two mythic ranks), and before combat starts it tries to bargain with the players, hinting at big things ahead and the opportunity for them to take advantage. Not long after they put the demon down, they begin to notice other patterns of instability in nearby river kingdoms, and maybe a few fall into total anarchy. They start having run-ins with a shocking number of demons and the land begins to twist. The party, now local heroes, are asked to go to Sevenarches to consult the druids there, since they've been around a while and know a thing or two about putting the supernatural to right.

Party ends up meeting with the druids, and the druids decide to trust them enough to confide in them that demons have been trying to find the Seven Arches, but they aren't totally sure why. Party helps the druids fight off some vrocks, and the druids figure something has gotta be done about these demons (many whom are mythic). Party is subjected to a ritual involving harnessing the power of the arches and starts gaining mythic tiers.

Not sure where to go from here, but big bad is Baphomet who has a mythic glabrezu basically running a large faction of the Daggermark Poisoner's guild, and said demon is sending shadow demons out to possess or influence the leaders of several of the smaller river kingdoms while his other minions search for the seven arches, hoping to use them to open a portal to the abyss and effectively create a second Worldwound. With the region being so unstable, it can be quickly overwhelmed and then the demons can attack Mendev from another front, hit it hard and fast, and destroy the Wardstones.

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It seems to be that one of the first things he's going to have to get around is the fact that, due to divination magic, his escape won't be secret for long. This means two things to me - upon escaping, he has to act fast, and, even as he escapes, he wants to buy a little bit of time. Distraction and misdirection are probably some of the most effective ways to go about this, but consider also the notion of lying to someone by telling them the truth.

Days before his escape seems imminent, Tar-Baphon has some of his agents leek info that the Whispering Way is launching another plot to release him. This becomes common knowledge in Lastwall. The leaked information says they may only have months. They begin watching Gallowspire only to find that it has been set up with uber-wards against divination. They now assume that the Whispering Way is there in full force and tinkering with stuff. They deploy troops to quash whatever they're up to. In the mean time, other agents have been getting everybody riled up about the Worldwound, hinting at something dark happening beyond the wardstones. Lastwall is concerned about the Whispering Way's plot, but all other eyes are looking north. The big key here, though, is that when they use divination on Gallowspire to find it blocked, it just confirms a lesser threat.

In the mean time, there are several simultaneous strikes against the seals so that Tar-Baphon can break out even as Lastwall's army's are en-route. Fully charged, he teleports into the middle of Lastwall and kills their leaders as they're in a war-council or something. No survivors, no witnesses. He leaves and repeats this in a few other locations that are likely to oppose him.

It's obviously not long before this is discovered, and now everyone knows that something powerful is in play. They are naturally assuming powerful agents of the Whispering Way, or maybe they assume the Wardstones have failed. In any case, they know there is a threat - Tar-Baphon simply wants them to underestimate the magnitude of what's going on.

So while all this has been going on, minions of Tar-Baphon have been working in Belzken to try and unite a few of the orc tribes. With everyone looking for the plots of necromancers and paying attention to the Worldwound, they are relatively unconcerned about a bunch of orcs. In one big swoop hordes of the buggers begin swarming Lastwall, and that's when Tar-Baphon comes down from Ustalav with his most powerful undead servitors, catching Lastwall in a brutal pincer attack. With their leadership already decimated, they fall quickly and he has the pieces of that wretched shield in his possession. He also has a small nation of corpses to begin working with. This is the point where everyone realizes that the grand escape they were hoping to prevent in a week or so was a foregone conclusion months ago, and Tar-Baphon goes to war with the world already being three steps ahead of everyone.

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