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Organized Play Member. 439 posts. 26 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 22 Organized Play characters.

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So I had a very late night over the weekend, because of a surprising bit of text that I found at the end of module #4. I knew that Mokmurian was supposed to retreat after the PCs' first attack, and I thought I read that he gathers maybe a dozen stone giants (generic stone giant stat block) and then re-assaults the PCs.

But that's wrong.

From the module:

Mokmurian fights until reduced to 40 hit points or fewer, at which point he uses dimension doors to retreat to area B13, hoping to get healing from his lamia minions. If they’re dead, he flees up to the surface and gathers a group of a dozen stone giants and any of the named giants who still live to mount an attack on the library to finish off the PCs.

There is a named leader for each of the 7 tribes, PLUS Conna. PLUS the dozen generic stone giants. It's a HUGE fight. I noticed this a few hours before my game, and spent the entire time creating stat sheets for ALL of the named giants.

So not wanting all that effort to go to waste, here are the giant character sheets, both in PDF and POR (Hero Lab).

A couple of important notes. First, Halvara is important. If the lamias are dead, Halvara is probably the only giant left with any healing powers. Also, she's the only giant that has a way to counter invisibility (via Faerie Fire), aside from Mokmurian.

Also, I tried to avoid decreasing the giant's movement speed, so most giants are in light armor (except for Drogart, because his fighter training lets him keep his full movement even in medium armor). Of course feel free to swap or remove armor as you see fit. After all, the module doesn't actually build these giants out, so it's all unofficial and should be whatever works for you.

Also, some of these giants have the Fortified Armor Training feat -- this allows the giant to sacrifice armor in order to convert a critical hit back to normal damage. I did that because we have a crit-fisher in our group who delivers about 150 points of damage on any round that he crits, which one-shots most of these giant bosses. If you aren't concerned about that, you could replace the feat with something else.

Q & A
Why did you give a giant a certain class? Why so low level?

The module specifies the following details about each giant: name, alignment, sex, class, level. So I took that as a base, stuck to it, and made up all the other details. So I didn't choose for Halvara to be an oracle, for example. That's just what the module told me to do.

Have fun!

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mike299 wrote:

It seems that Hero339 closed his deviantart page and his beautiful maps are not available there any more.

Does anyone know if they are available elsewhere?

Well... a Google search for that name shows all his artwork, it's just that it now appears on pinterest pages.

Here is one of the Pinterest map collections that contains some of his work. And here is another collection that contains some of his work.

I imagine that eventually even these Pinterest collections will fall by the wayside. It would be VERY nice of someone to gather up all the hero339 artwork while it still survives and put it into an album or something of that nature.

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I'm running Rise of the Runelords. Team is having a rematch against Xanesha, a lamia matriarch (shapechanger).

They cast Baleful Polymorph on her. She fails both saves, and is now a harmless chicken or something.

HOWEVER, the spell text:

...says that a shapechanger can revert back to normal as a standard action!!! How does this work? She failed both saves, so she's a pretty dumb chicken now. Does reverting make her a dumb chicken in a lamia body? Or does it give her everything back? I'm interested in RAI more than RAW, but I'll take anything you can give me right now.

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I found the maps for "The Pit" and it has tips or notes about the encounters, but I can't find the full document with all the encounter details. Someone would have to re-create it based off the notes on the map.

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Just... maybe as a nice bit of help for anyone still running this scenario... I'd like to go over the evidence. I could not for the life of me find the evidence bonuses. I even searched the PDF for the word "evidence" right there during the game. It just mentions that evidence gets bonuses, but never mentions WHAT. Then I saw in the listing for 1 of the council members that during the presentation of evidence, mentioning the connection to devils/demons would get a +4 to the diplomacy check with that 1 person. So I quickly scoured all the council member listings for the evidence bonuses and came up mostly empty! I was confused!

The PCs got 2 legit wins, but also had 2 big failures. Since I was certain that I was missing some details as I searched the section about convincing the council, I decided to turn 1 of the 2 failures into a success. I knew I was missing bonuses.

Turns out, the reason I missed it was because it was scattered in "Building the Case" boxes on pages 16, 20, and 22. So here are all the ways to influence the council, in one spot:

  • Page 16: Gideon Wren gives a +2 or +6.
  • Page 20: Shinri Dell's journal gives a +2, and if the PCs read the journal beforehand and get insights, it's an extra +1 per insight. So this could grant a +6 total if you had the journal AND got all 4 insights.
  • Page 22: The Twelve Rites (the tablets) confer a +2 if you have 1 to 5 of them. You get a +4 if you have 6 of them.
  • Vance Kagoshe gives the PCs a +4 against him only, just because he's inclined to want trade.
  • Windspeaker Belbi is essentially a -2 because she's not inclined to trade! (Technically, her DC is 2 higher than normal). However, if you mention fiends, then you get a +4!
  • The elephant in the room -- the huge Aspis boat that you take from Boali -- is worth nothing!
  • Finally, if the PCs use the alternative method of persuasion for each council member, the DC drops by 4!

So... if you're playing at the high tier and have the normal DC, the PCs need to hit a 32. If they use the alternative method of persuasion for each NPC, the DC drops to 28. (4 player adjustment would drop this to a 25, if that's in effect.) If you have max bonuses, you'd have a +16 on top of your own personal skill check bonus (and against Vance in particular it'd be a +20, and against Belbi in particular it'd be a +14, or a +18 if you mentioned fiends).

In other words, with due diligence, your PCs probably only fail if they roll a 1, 2, or 3.

I'm glad I increased my teams successes to at least 3 out of 4 council members, because once I finally found all the bonuses, they would have definitely done it. They didn't get Shinri's journal or all the tablets in time, but the other bonuses were enough.

Now I'll print this and paperclip it to the page about the council. Happy gaming!

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So... the timetable here was so confusing, even with the wonderful PDF time-tracker from, that I didn't know what to do and sorta just abandoned the time tracking entirely. Why? Because if I understand this correctly, there is no way to do this without losing. Venza, if you follow the timeline, must be dead no matter how fast the PCs act. Here:

  • First, "The adventure begins at 10 in the morning." That's page 8. It notes that moving to each location is 30 minutes, buying gear is 2 hours.
  • Getting to "the real Lofton" is "a 5-hour walk from Woodsedge." Page 12. Note: not a 5 hour journey round-trip. It's 5 hours just to get to the location of Lofton. That means 5 more hours to get back, plus anywhere from 10-20 minutes to 3+ hours to recover Lofton.

This means, even if the players interview no one and instead magically know to immediately go recover Lofton, they will still return to town too late, at around 8 PM. At that point they get Eliza's sending message that Venza is kidnapped. And here's the trick: the kidnapping happens that day while the PCs are out getting Lofton, and it states this text: "He was tried rapidly, and fliers have been posted announcing his execution at sundown." Page 18.

Well, best case scenario is that they arrived in town an hour after sundown. Venza is dead. There is no rescue mission. He's dead.

Now, there is text about protecting Venza. IF the PCs gave Venza any advice about hiding or moved him to a safe location, then he's still caught but only gets killed the next day. My players made some goofy suggestions about pushing his desk against the door to hold off any enemies, but I didn't really deem that of any material help to Venza's predicament. Nonetheless, I had to give my players the benefit of this delay because otherwise it makes no sense.

I mean, why even bother to track time if the outcome is that Venza is dead anyway? If the module/scenario is forcing Venza to be dead, just do it. Say, "Don't bother to track time. Venza dies before the PCs can get back from their visit with the fey, UNLESS they helped Venza hide."

Apologies to PFS leadership if I was supposed to auto-fail the players and dock them some prestige points, but I just figured this MUST be a bug. It makes no sense. So I tried to do what the module author probably intended. Maybe?

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roysier wrote:
Recently in a home game The GM's creature failed his save vs. blindness. Then right there on the spot the GM gave the creature the Blindfight feat. And it ended up killing my character before I even received another action.

I probably know who you're speaking of, but even if I'm wrong, I know plenty of GMs who do similar things. I have a friend right now who will tell you straight up that he hates it when the players can end fights quickly. He is fully invested in altering the game and the encounters to his favor. If this were just for making fights a little more surprising or challenging, I'd go with it. However, he's really bad at it. Characters die. Often. He feels this is good gaming.

Knowing this, I tend to make characters that are extremely cautious in his game world. They avoid all direct confrontation, as it's almost always a loss. He noticed this at one point, and started taunting me that I was playing a fighter who was a coward. I replied that I had 100 hit points and his monsters always hit and always did about 100 points of damage. Meaning, I can maybe survive 1 hit, and then I must retreat. So, that's what I did, every fight.

Finally, his taunting got to me, and so I asked him what HE would do, and he asserted that he'd stay and fight. Thinking he must have some great plan -- even if it's just GM fiat in my favor -- I decided to keep my character with 10 hit points in the fight. On the monsters' turn, they did about 100 hit points of damage, and my warpriest was super-super dead. Oh.

I sat out of the game for about 3 hours until my character could be raised from the dead, quite a bit poorer. The GM smiled at me and said, "See? Nothing even happened in that fight. You're fine. Why were you worried?"

My character died, and I lost a huge chunk of my wealth to come back. I sat out of the game for 3 hours. I'd say my worries were well-founded.

As you might guess, becoming poorer in that game meant I couldn't gear up effectively, and so the character died again, and I eventually retired him.

I think some GMs have forgotten that the stated plan for encounters in D&D 3.5 (and the unstated carry-over plan for Pathfinder) was that PCs could handle about 5 fights in a normal adventuring day, and only 1 was supposed to be very difficult (another 2 or 3 should be average fights, and 1 should be easy). That's on page 49 of the 3.5 DMG. It didn't get copied over to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, but what did carry over is the idea of it. We can all see it in most Pathfinder Society products, which usually offer 3 to 6 encounters in an adventuring day, one of which is a boss fight, and one of which is easy.

For some GMs, an easy fight is antithetical to a good game. All fights must leave the PCs barely alive, or the game isn't viable. I'm really grateful that Pathfinder Society has mostly done away with that thinking.

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Cool! An easy question. I got this, guys.

They do this a LOT. In most of the modules of the later seasons, you'll find that they use the "specific trumps general" rule a ton. So they take a generic bad guy stat block -- say, a wyvern, or the battle mage. They put the full generic stat block in the back of the product. Then they add a list of modifications right on the page where the encounter occurs. Those specific modifications are the "specific trumps general" rule in action. The specific changes win.

So page 9 tells you the fight will be using the generic battle mage stat block, but doesn't list the whole thing there. Instead, it lists out the unique changed aspects of the battle mage. Then you turn to the back to get the other parts of the stat block that were unchanged.

That means not only do they have Slow, but according to the "During Combat" section, they use that & Web, right away.

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Nick Wasko wrote:
dedicating a surprise attack to neutralizing a spellcaster seems rational

After just seeing your tricky full-round surprise attack disappear from the product, maybe this might be a consolation prize: if the hushed arrow attack works, it doesn't neutralize a spellcaster; it neutralizes all spellcasters nearby. The arrow is targeted to hit 1 person and that 1 person must fail the save, but if he/she fails it doesn't mean that person is silent -- it means the Silence spell is now emanating from them, like it or not, and it affects them and everyone within 20' of them. And none of the rest of the PCs get a saving throw, just as PCs don't get individual saving throws against Fog Cloud or similar emanation-like spells.

If the arrow works, it's just an environmental hazard that everyone must deal with.

(I suspect you the author know this, but mostly I'm mentioning this for the GMs. Lots of GMs get surprised by the Silence spell and feel it's "broken" for it to blanket an area without individual saves. cite, cite, cite)

We just lost the powerful opening salvo of the boss fight, so run that Silence effect by the books to get your full money's worth.

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James Jacobs wrote:
He's still bald. And the value of him NOT looking like the others in Sandpoint is a huge part of why he's in there in the first place—to help Sandpoint be diverse.

James, your own products say that he's rejected the style of his people (which is baldness, even for the women) AND that he's done this to fit in. You can't use him as the guy that looks different if you own text says he's trying to fit in. If you're trying to use him to fulfill a diversity quota, you need to revise the text in the books and stop having his brother be mad at him for trying to fit in. Or play up his brother instead, who is different and is celebrating his differences.

(In addition, the only image showing him bald is the old 3.5 material. This was corrected in the Pathfinder version onward, which all show him with hair. He's not bald, by all your own recent images.)

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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:

...a huge deal has been made of how goblins are going to be a playable race in the new 2.0 Pathfinder.

This is a race that in-canon is terrified of written words and by nature is disruptive and doesn't work well together save with others of their race.

Yeah, and a lot of that is Paizo's own doing. They took "normal" goblins from D&D 3.5 and made them into pyromaniac bobble-headed balls of chaos and destruction. This will be my first house-rule in Pathfinder 2 -- no, you cannot play a goblin. Yes, I understand that they are a core race. You still can't play them.

Every now & then I run monster campaigns where players get to try out goblins, kobolds, and other low-race-point monster races. I will shunt my goblin-loving players into those games and keep goblins away from my main game.

Tengu, kitsune, and all the other races that you can play in Pathfinder Society would be a much better baseline. Also nezumi/ratfolk. These are sentient races that have been shown to function in society. Much better options.

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Whoa. Suddenly the forums are better. Thanks!

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I thank everyone for these follow-up comments. I think regardless of what the rules actually allow for, I have an issue with the idea of "I said I acted first, so I get a surprise round." The issue for me is that if I allow my games to work that way, then it encourages players to rush toward saying "I attack first" so that they can always get a surprise round.

In other words, even if what Lady-J suggests is by the rules I still would hesitate to implement it, as it encourages the players to be murder-hobos even more than Pathfinder already is. If you get a material advantage from declaring hostilities first, then everyone will always declare hostilities, and much of the role-play will disappear into a bloodbath.

Because of that, my decision about how to handle this is easy: I think by the rules I shouldn't do that, but even if I'm wrong, there are these other reasons to avoid running the game that way. So I'm going to stick with the idea that surprise rounds come from ambushes. If a group of characters/monsters are all in view and hostilities break out among them, there is no surprise round even if someone kicks it off with a first action. It's just "roll for initiative" and follow that.

I will concede that I could totally see having players who are early in initiative having to role-play not knowing what is going on, and doing generic things with their turn, such as "I delay." You know, at least until the character that initiated combat comes up. But that honestly seems more like verisimilitude that the players would role-play. I'm not sure it's enforceable.

Thanks again, everyone.

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For me, it's not OK that links are the same color as plain text. I noticed the first page of this very discussion has people linking to examples of issues, but you'd never know any of that was clickable. That's not good.

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Some changes I made to modules 1 & 2, early on.

  • I blew up the Sandpoint garrison as part of the initial goblin raid. I did this so that there was a perfectly sensible reason why the PCs essentially do town defense on their own, and why Hemlock comes to the them for aid (and also, why Hemlock needs to head out for reinforcements).
  • I gave the torch-bearing goblins (book 1, part 1) the goblin-only "Burn Burn Burn" feat.
  • Looking over Ven Vinder's stat block, I couldn't help but wonder, "Why is a shopkeeper better at attacking than appraising?" Murderous goblins are a cakewalk but a middle-aged merchant is a nightmare. OK. I swapped out Power Attack for Skill Focus (appraise), and swapped out Toughness for Skill Focus (sense motive). Now he can at least do his job a little bit. Also, removing Power Attack actually helps Ven a little bit, because Power Attack was already figured into his stat block (it usually isn't) and by removing it his attack roll went from +4 to +5. Sure he only does 1d3+2 damage now (it was 1d3+4) but that change is going to be barely perceived by the players.
  • I used Paizo's "social combat" rules (the cards you can buy, like chase cards) for the argument with Lonjiku on page 22 of the Anniversary Edition.
  • In "Against the Goblins" on page 31, the text asserts that "Goblins are masters of improvisational fighting," yet nothing in the stat block supports this. So I gave some goblins in that fight the Catch Off Guard feat (melee), and some the Throw Anything feat (ranged). Now they actually can pick up random items and try to use them.
  • I noted that they give Nualia the penalty for using Fury of the Abyss (her AC is lowered) but they do not give her the benefit of it. Her attack line should read: +1 bastard sword +12 (1d10+8 / 19-20) and claw +5 (1d6+5). She gets that for 6 rounds, if she uses a swift action at the start of each round.
  • Book 2, part 2. The text notes that it was "unusually easy" for Caizarlu to convince Erin Habe that he was "just" a retired businessman. The problem is Habe has a +9 in Bluff & Sense Motive, while Caizarlu only has a +6. Of course the text is sorta hinting that maybe Caizarlu "rolled well" against Habe. However, I had a solution that involved better verisimilitude. Habe's stat block on page 80-81 is supposed to be a stat block for a reknown doctor. However, this "easy to fool" doctor has Skill Focus in Sense Motive instead of Heal. I just changed that. Skill Focus now in Heal, and now the numbers make sense (this will have almost no playable effect; it simply makes the character stats match what the module text suggests).
  • There are so many ghouls in part 2 onward that I desperately needed to change up some of the later ghouls, somehow. I found a ghoul-only feat called Warren Digger. It confers a burrow speed. Swapping out Weapon Finesse for Warren Digger means that their attack bonus lowers by one. However, they can now emerge from the ground in a flank, gaining a +2 to attacks. Maybe it's a little less boring with the alteration?
  • I also made these other 2 changes.

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Had a game tonight in which the players tried to effect a ruse on a "troublesome" NPC (a barbarian who had killed a bunch of other NPCs). The players took this barbarian outside of a room and told him a story to keep him occupied while the other PCs in the room tried to salvage a bad situation.

The problem is this dumb barbarian got an amazing Sense Motive roll and saw through the bluff. He shouted at the PC distracting him and stomped back into the room. There, he saw the PCs freeing a prisoner. He shouted again and then a player said, "I cast Charm Person on him."

I said "Roll for initiative." They did, but the player casting said that he should get a surprise round. Note this text from the surprise rules:

When a combat starts, if you are not aware of your opponents and they are aware of you, you’re surprised.

I said that the barbarian was VERY aware of the casting PC and bellowing angrily as they unlocked the prisoner. He absolutely is not "unaware."

The player argued that since he initiated, he took the barbarian by surprise.

My thought is that when 2 characters are aware of each other, it works like two gunslingers in a duel -- no surprise round, and whoever is fastest gets a shot first. So initiative order yes, surprise no. I have been assured that my interpretation is not by the rules. What do you guys think?

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You can see the discussion of this issue here.

And here is the item's text listing from Adventurer's Armory 2:


Price 130 gp; Type exotic

Larger even than a longbow, these bows are often made from the horns of great beasts. Though they have a shorter range than other bows, their greater destructive power is highly favored by orcs and their kin. All hornbows are composite bows and can be modified to benefit from high Strength scores in the same way as other composite bows. Any effect that applies to both longbows and shortbows also applies to hornbows.

The confusion stems from the wording that any effect that applies to longbows & shortbows applies to hornbows. It seems clear that this is intended to mean that a feat like Rapid Shot would totally apply to the hornbow. However, some are interpreting this to mean that any PC with shortbow proficiency can use a hornbow without needing to take Exotic Weapon Proficiency. And if you have longbow proficiency, same deal -- free use, no feat needed.

So bards and ninjas are now equipping hornbows at no penalty, with no feat taken. Was this the intention?

Note: Hero Lab is indeed giving the hornbow out for free, no EWP feat needed.

Whether you are on one side or the other, please hit the FAQ button so we can learn the official intention. Thanks!

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The module/scenario is just fine as far as "or similar effects" being used. This is the text around that:

Salvation of the Sages, page 15 wrote:
The PCs can assist with the ritual, though Amenopheus warns them that the ritual’s nature means casting spells, activating items, or even consuming magical draughts could have dangerous side effects—he suspects any entity that can possess a sage jewel could as readily hijack another magic item or magical process, putting such bystanders at risk.

The danger is blatantly, obviously directed at exclusively magical things. If someone is trying to add in mundane items, they are having a reading comprehension problem. This is not a module text problem. Having the module say "or similar effects" is no excuse for getting this wrong -- it is flat-out beating the reader over the head with the clear expectation that magical effects are what can be hijacked, not anything else.

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Perfect Tommy wrote:

Rules wise in my opinion you are wrong.

The sources are different the effects are identical.

/me shrugs

If there is a sane & plausible interpretation of the rule, but you insist on using the harshest/meanest interpretation, then of course the module will appear to be more difficult. That's not the module's fault, though.

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Hmm. I was looking at the rules for mounts and found that even for the sections for dinosaurs and other big/mean monsters, it talks about them having combat training, and how that might raise the price for the mount.

That seems to suggest that Paizo, at least, intended for all monstrous mounts to need combat training and thus, the ride check that goes with it. It's not definitive, but it at least shows some assumptions by the publisher & game developers. This seems to indicate to me that I will not find any errata or FAQ that states that a griffon is exempt from being frightened.

I think if they're talking about these creatures needing combat training in the listings for dinosaur mounts and dire mounts and so on, then when I see a monstrous mount in a module that does not have combat training, I ought to treat it as if it does not have combat training, since they otherwise specifically call it out.

I'm prepping a game with goblins on monster mounts. I think I'm going to have to make those ride checks (since the mounts don't have combat training) and watch as the goblins scatter when they fail to control the skittish monsters they are riding. Probably not what the module author intended, but increasingly it seems like what the rules intended.

Edit: could you use this in combat against your enemies? A dinosaur enemy usually has no fear in combat and will attack normally, but if you mount it and fail your ride check, it imposes the frightened condition. Could you run around the battlefield, mounting & swift dismounting all sorts of beasts, in order to have a spell-like fear effect?

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Korlac wrote:
I've contacted both @PaizoOrgPlay and @PFSOPC on Twitter, along with making a Reddit thread to discuss the benefits and flaws of allowing the Monster Tactician in PFS.

The whole discussion is moot, guys. I found the Twitter post. Tonya herself replied, and denied his request.

If the leader and chief decision-maker of PFS says "no" then appealing to us low-level non-decision-makers is going to do no good. Or maybe it'll make things worse and annoy her -- she literally rejected this request just 2 weeks ago, so coming at her with this AGAIN so soon probably would not exactly please her. I think she'd wonder why people were not listening to her very clear and unequivocal "No."

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I don't think you're going to be able to fix this. Cheating is by definition deception and it's also an act of disrespect (or at least disregard) for your game and the other people there who are trying to play fairly. So that person is going to cover it up, gaslight you, and say "sorry I reformed, my mistake" and then keep doing it anyway. Or... well that is already happening. But you get my point: if someone is willing to cheat, then they're probably willing to keep cheating in order to maintain the advantage.

So expect to be placated, but he won't mean it (already happened), expect to be lied to or gaslighted ("I rolled it fair and square, you just missed it!"), and expect to have to go through multiple levels of BS. In other words, if you mandate that the dice must be visible, then the cheater will get hard to read dice. If you mandate easy to read dice, then the cheater will get weighted dice or spindown dice. If you test the dice in salt water, the cheater will get honest dice but then learn how to roll such that 20s come up a lot. If you even beat that, then expect stat inflation from the character sheet. If you even beat that, then expect that everything looks fair until you add everything up (so an individual skill will have the correct math, but if you look at ALL skills, there will be too many that are maxed out -- too many ranks spent, so to speak).

What I've found very often is that once a player uses a cheaty Mary Sue to outshine a table full of fair players, they've already made it clear that they don't care about the opinions of the other players. And at that point, confronting them is just an annoyance or embarrassment to them -- not a moment to reform or reflect. And they won't feel pressure to "be good" so as to maintain friendships (or at least stay in the campaign) because they already showed that they don't value that. They value themselves. So in my experience, when confronted and no longer able to find ways to cheat, these people say "screw your stupid game" and ragequit. The game is not important. The people there are... well... at least less important than their own egos. So, expect that they will not actually fix things.

My experience is that if you need to keep a cheater in the game, you'll need to compensate for their cheating instead of reforming them. Let them have the 23 max initiative, but put a monster at init 25. Let them have 3 natural 20s in a row, but apply only regular normal damage to the monster. Of course, this is very mean if the player is not cheating, but assuming you can actually see the rolls (or someone nearby can) and assuming you're sure they're cheating, this is a viable strategy. It keeps them in a honey pot while the rest of the players can have a legit encounter.

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Even if we assume that BretI is wrong and that the rules are trying to emulate reality (and there is a case to be made for that: right here on the forums we can find old posts from SKR noting that they did real-world tests to determine how skills should work, for example), it's still going to be a problem. That is, even if the rules mirror reality, treating the rules as if the mirror reality is going to be a bad road to go down.

Why? Because of what we see here:

Moorningstaar wrote:
I informed him that he wasn't getting his dex bonus to ac because of the narrow confinded space. He argued that he could do matrix moves (his comparison), essentially just leaning to the ground forwards or backwards.

If "reality" is what rules the day, and if "reality" is what wins the debate, then players will constantly argue about how realistic something is in order to gain an advantage. If it's a game of rules and you end every debate with "I'm just going to follow the rule, even if it's unrealistic and stupid, so that we have something stable to work with," then there isn't really much arguing to be had. I mean, sure the player argued that it would be "more realistic" to do something, but the rules say no, so the answer is no. (Or yes, if the rules say yes.)

The moment you put realism above rules, players get to use that too. They get to say "That's not realistic," and argue about what IS realistic. And of course, their interpretation will serve their own purpose. They will argue in favor of their own circumstance. And you've got a precedent that says realism wins, so if they can beat your rules into submission by citing realism, they will. They will do it ALL. THE. TIME.

Because that's the system you put in front of them.

Of course, you might argue that a player suggesting he "matrix move" is absolutely zero realism, and therefore my point is wrong. However, not to that player. That player is arguing what's sensible and favorable to him. He's trying to get an advantage and believes in his argument. That's why he's making that argument. So even if you don't feel that he's arguing realism, he does. And he's going to keep doing it, because that's what you've shown works.

Frankly, sounds like a nightmare, but this is your burden to bear because you've said you must for a secret reason. So, tough it out. Good luck.

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Stratagemini wrote:
Kingmaker isn't a Chris Avellone style story. It isn't about tough subjects to the same degree. it's about Killing the hell out of Jabberwocks and stealing gold mines from Kobolds.

I would trust Avellone to turn the kobold issue into a matter of genocide and consequences.

I think he'll do fine, writing for this video game.

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:
MisterSlanky wrote:
I disagree. There's exactly as much information as the GMs provide.
Eh, I dunno.

I dunno either. We asked my GM repeatedly for more info. He said he'd given us everything in the module, which wasn't much (or at least, wasn't enough for us to feel like we were fully informed).

I think MisterSlanky might just be a superior GM who can ad-lib amazingly, or who has the ability to find extra info lightning-fast. For the rest of us, this looks like a genuine weak spot of the module. My GM couldn't add extra, and I didn't find extra myself.

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Stop. Playing. With. This. Person.

If that means your entire group falls apart and you don't game at all, then celebrate. Why? Because no gaming is better than bad gaming.

Get another hobby. Get more friends. Play with fewer people. Stop playing. Do anything but keep this person around.

That's the solution. There isn't another one. The person isn't going to be reformed. They've made it clear that they are willing to stop gaming, so they have the power. All you can do is call the bluff and move on.

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OK! Thanks to Steven & Northern & Wallbanger. I have a better grasp on this now. Here are the things I'm doing to make sure that the modules tie together:

Part 1

  • The Concordance of Elements is mentioned in part 1, but I never heard it during the game I was in. So play up the Concordance mention at the end.
  • Downplay the stolen items in part 1, as they are completely missing from parts 2 & 3, and part 2 has a confusingly similar item.
  • Northern Dreamer notes: "the biggest thing that connects them is that there were actually 8 of the elemental lords, and not just 4." So for area A5, I have created little "Secret Uncovered" cards to hand to any player who investigates the statues, making clear what the GM text suggests: that the 4 statues of elemental lords are all the world of Golarion knows, and the other 4 are a HUGE surprise to the world. ALSO, careful reading reveals that the elementals & Qiarah are not mad or hostile about the PCs looking at the statues. It's only if they snatch a piece of the statue(s). So I should not need to steer PCs away from investigating the statues.

Part 2

  • For C2 (the showdown), make it clear that Fairuza is acting on valid concerns but will listen to their points. Then play up how agast she is to be lumped in as a traitor when Chalissier shows up. When the fight is over, she should be shell-shocked, like her whole "this is how the world works" idea is coming apart. This should make it more plain that the Concordance might be won over as an ally.
  • Suggest that lengthy negotiations between the Concordance & Pathfinder Society are taking place between modules 2 & 3.
  • Get the names of the new (or should I say, rediscovered) elemental lords to the players. There is a knowledge check and/or questions for some of this. At the very least, make sure the players know that Ranginori and "Duke of Thunder" are the same thing (one is his name, one is his title).
  • Play up all mentions of elemental lord Hshura, as she (or her people) becomes the new enemy for part 3.
  • Give Chalissier some personality or memorable quirk/attitude, as he re-appears in part 3.

Part 3

  • Play up the mentions of Jamila (finally tying up that loose end).
  • Make it easy to recognize that Chalissier is back, now in elemental form, and is a servant of Hshura.

I think if I do these things, the modules at least have some cohesion and appear to have threads running through all of them. None of this would be a big deal, except that when I ran through the modules I picked up on none of this. Everything was disjointed. So hopefully this helps.

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Tallow wrote:
That in my mind more strongly implies you can only caste into it during a scenario. Not during downtime.

OK, but it doesn't matter. The scenario doesn't literally end the second the module goal is hit. We know this because the game mandates that you take care of ongoing diseases or other effects before resolving the game, and players are allowed to cast spells to aid in that, and they often need a day to rest in order to gain those spells. All of which is to say that we don't -- and shouldn't -- run a punitive jerk game where we rigidly declare "game's over YOU CAN'T CAST ANYTHING HA HA HA." So, end of session, player says, "While they're curing Albert of Mummy Rot, I'm filling my ring/flask/whatever."

Who cares that you can't cast during downtime? You can cast at the end of the module after a night's rest, and then go into downtime.

And if someone is going to block that, I'd refer them back to the "don't be a jerk" rule in the guide book. And if that's not enough, I'd note that players can easily delay the end of the module by simply not reporting in for the final briefing until they've had a day's rest, and thus, getting all the spells needed to cast before ending the adventure and going into downtime.

In other words, for every way a GM could imagine to block this, there is a rules-legal way to get around that blockade, and the more someone tries to block it, the more it will appear as a player-hostile "don't be a jerk" violation.

And because of all that, and the FAQ, I'm fairly confident that the PFS management doesn't want to run a gotcha-style game where we try to rules-lawyer the players out of using their purchased items.

These items are in the game. The leaders of PFS must intend them to be usable, then. GMs trying to render them un-usable are not playing in the spirit of the rules, far as I can tell. I know if I were in leadership and I updated the Additional Resources page to allow a Preserving Flask and then saw GMs trying to impose downtime and no spellcasting immediately upon hitting the scenario goal so as to block players from using the item I just allowed in, I'd be upset. But maybe that's just me.

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One thing I know, as a player, is how bad it feels when the module gives you plenty of time to do a thing, and you come up with 5 ways to do it, and the GM is like, "None of those work." Why? Because the module didn't list them.

#8-14 Spoilers:
There was a recent PFS module that requires the PCs to investigate something, but gives them 24 hours of down time. This might be the wayang module... is that 8-14? Oh, yes, the one with the masks. Anyway, at our table the players all wanted in-depth info on the masks and what gods or creatures they portrayed. We needed that info (or so we thought) because we were being "graded" on our performance and how accurate it was.

We had a full day. Some players were like, "I'm going to a library to research this." Others did gather information (diplomacy) checks around town -- spent hours doing it, took multiple checks, because we had time. Other players were trying other things. And the answer? Nothing. The module gives you a task, expects you to be in stasis until the time comes, and then jump into action with only a 5 line player handout. No extras exist.

I think what bothered me about that whole thing was that circumstance bonuses have never been outlawed by Pathfinder Society leadership. They're still in PFS. A GM can give out a +2 (or even -2!) for your character's behavior and/or approach to a problem. But if the module expressly has nothing about what the players are doing, it's not just going off the rails, it's possibly getting an advantage that other tables don't get, and GMs are scared about that. They do not want to have to say, "Oops, the players found a perfect solution that nobody thought of before, and they aced their way through the module in 2 hours while everyone else slogged through and eventually TPK'd."

I mean, that situation is always cool for the victors, but it engenders animosity from the other teams who are like, "That feels unfair that they got to do that."

The more I play and get upset by things like this, the more I want to be a more lenient and encouraging GM. Unfortunately, I don't feel like the PFS books back me up very much. They were burned by GMs beefing up monsters, so now they're like, "Knock that off." Yeah, there may be some openings to improvise, but mostly, knock it off.

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OK, this post is mostly for myself, though others are welcome to use it. I'll come back to this forum at some point to look up how to run this module and I'll need this.

This is mostly written because a group of friends just ran through this module with me, and it was an utter cakewalk at high tier. Like, the BBEG was dead after it got off just one attack. The morlock elevator fight was hand-waved because we couldn't be challenged by CR 2 monsters. It's an epic scene, and it was hand-waved! I want to try to get back to making this awesome. So here we go.

The Retriever, tier 10-11

What I think many GMs miss is that they cannot use the generic retriever stat block printed in the module. That's the stat block for a normal retriever (or maybe a weird, broken/early version of a normal+advanced creature). Since the top of that listing says to make it an advanced retriever, it has to be hand-modified to use these rules.

Not only that, but according to this thread the advanced template can be stronger or weaker depending on whether you use the quick or rebuild rules. (Usually they work out the same, but when you have a creature with a dash for an ability score, the quick rules will give a bigger boost.)

So, I built the advanced retriever stat block using the "quick" rules for the advanced template (with changes in red). This starts to bring the BBEG back in line with a level 10 or 11 party. AC to 29, attacks at +21. That might even hit the AC 35 that some fighters seem to have at level 11.

In addition, here is something I wrote about this monster in another thread:

outshyn wrote:
The final fight is much more likely to end quickly and badly for the enemy, because it appears to be nothing more than a melee combat monster that can't last long. However, if I were in your shoes, I would hunt for any advantage, and find it: the monster has only normal movement options listed (walking -- no climbing or flying) until you look in the notes at the bottom, where it mentions it has permanent Spider's Climb and Water Walk. They could have mentioned that up where movement was! OK, let's put the giant spider out on the water and enjoy that tank PC drowning in his heavy armor. If the PC gains a water speed, get the spider climbing up walls. The idea is to stay at range and shoot the monster's eye rays. AND, don't bother with the petrification ray, which has a fortitude save -- your fighter has amazing fort saves and will laugh that off. However, his reflex might be a little worse, so blasting him with a few 12d6 lightning bolts might whittle him down, even if he makes the save. And use that monster's 15' reach to get your AOO when the fight finally does come to blows!

Lastly, a sad note that I've never seen a GM use, but they should by the rules: the entire bridge to the monster's location is only 10' wide; too narrow for the monster to walk on easily, even with Spider Climb. This means that if you have the monster rush out to fight, it may suffer from the squeezing rules! Keep that retriever on the wider platforms, or drop it on top of the water, and have it blast apart the bridge or platforms. That gives it free movement, and forces the PCs to not ignore it.

EDIT: Whoa. Just found in the module that the raised platforms are merely as strong as doors: "treat the planks and platform as a strong wooden door for the purposes of determining hardness and hit points." That's just hardness 5, HP 20! If the retriever drops to walk on water and blasts the platform, big huge chunks should be falling away from every hit. With just 2 or 3 hits, it should be able to collapse at least part of the walkway. If it can topple all the tied up victims into the water, this becomes a whole new ballgame.

The Morlocks, tier 10-11

General rules for all morlocks:

  • All morlocks get a Leap Attack which blocks AOO. They have such high bonuses that they cannot fail even on a natural 1, assuming they get a running start. The barbarian morlocks have a raging leap that means they don't even need the running start, and can jump much farther (20' on a natural 1, 25' on a 4+). This means that they should always leap to engage -- 10' leaps for the crappy morlocks, and 20' leaps for the barbarian morlocks. This gets them past anyone with a reach weapon.
  • Their swarming ability gives them a flank if they share squares. They can leap into shared squares, and have their attacks trigger on landing. This means they can safely leap into formation around a character, with at least some getting the +2 flank/sneak bonuses.
  • Like any other low-level critter/mob, they can use Aid Another to give each other boosts. If you have 8 arrayed around a PC (with 2 per square), you can have the initial leapers simply leap into position and perform Aid Another (hit AC 10 = give a +2 to attack to one ally). Then the follow-up leapers can leap into shared squares, getting +2 for flank and +2 for Aid Another.

Don't forget that Aid Another can stack. So if you are fighting a PC with an AC of 35, even a single Aid Another might not help enough. In that case, you might have 6 of the 8 leapers do Aid Another. The 2 remaining leapers are now at +2 from flank, and +6 from Aid Another, for a total of +8. This is on top of the normal bonuses (+11 for barbarians, +5 for normal morlocks). At +19, a barbarian morlock hits AC 35 on a roll of 16 or more. That's not great, but it's a start. It might help to focus on a character that doesn't have crazy AC.

The goal with morlocks should be to overwhelm at least 1 PC and try to turn the action economy in their favor. Morlocks know what spellcasters are (there are some morlock spellcasters in the module) so it's reasonable for them to identify the spellcaster as a target that is super dangerous and also super easy to hit.

The elevator/lift in particular

For the elevator encounter, there are so many things happening that it's important to add events into the initiative as if they were actual creatures. My thoughts:

  • Top of the initiative order (because it says so): put the Elevator itself. Each time, if even a single morlock is attached, roll on the action chart on page 11, and see what happens. Yes, this means that on round 1 there is no action, as no morlock is yet attached. Also, on a roll of 5+ the chart requires that all spellcasters make a concentration check to successfully cast their spells (DC 15 + spell level)!
  • Bottom of the initiative order (module doesn't dictate this, but you don't want to put this on the initiative of the person controlling the brake, as that person may let another PC take a turn, so the effect will jump around if you attach it to a PC): the damage roll that comes from not braking, as per page 12.
  • The denouement (for this sequence): whether the elevator brakes and stops (column 1, page 12) or the cable snaps and the elevator falls (column 2, page 12) there is almost always damage to the PCs. The end of the ride is the biggest danger. There are 4 conditions with 4 different resolutions: 1) they kill/repel all morlocks and safely brake, no damage; 2) they don't kill/repel all morlocks but safely brake, take 1d6 damage for every 4 morlocks still weighing down the lift, alive or dead; 3) they kill/repel all morlocks but the cable snaps, take 3d6 or 6d6 falling damage; 4) they don't kill/repel all morlocks AND the cable snaps, take 3d6 or 6d6 falling damage plus the 1d6 damage penalty for every 4 morlocks still on the lift.

Also, from page 12: "The morlocks automatically make their Acrobatics checks." Presumably only for the elevator sequence, but holy cow! They cannot fail to engage, cannot fail to balance, and cannot fail to leap in, avoiding AOO. They would be unstoppable if they had any AC, HP or attacks that could hit.

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I just ran this on Sunday. Kinda bummed with the outcome. When I first played it myself weeks ago, I had a bad time, but I liked reading the module. So I had high hopes that it would be better if I tried to run it myself, and run it well. Unfortunately, after running it on Sunday, all my players said "I'd give it 2 stars out of 5." Ugh. It's possible the module is awesome and I suck. However, I've seen multiple bad play-throughs now, and one is with me putting in effort to make it better. Other modules sure seem easier to run well, I guess.

Part of the problem is in fact what some reviewers have said: people don't enjoy a game that involves their characters being yelled at and sabotaged, especially if they cannot figure out why.

For my part, I tried to take advantage of the GM discussion here. To help the players, when they asked if Reyshal could help them, I allowed them to find him. When they got stuck, I had Reyshal grant them 1 wish (temporary tiny bonus -- they got a Message spell cast on them that lasted the entire adventure and was good for anywhere in the Opaline Vault -- so no repercussions outside of the scenario, but I definitely hoped it would help with sneaking around and communicating in the casino).

They had no demerits, they had 4+ successes, they handled the General really well. Again to help the players, I had the General be nice in the casino, and just tell them to gather info and really shore up their evidence. I wanted to hint to them that they probably needed to get into that office.

We were short on time so I hand-waved the battle with the elementals because I wanted to have time for the presentation to the General. Since I hand-waved the battle, I just gave them the best outcome for the battle -- assumed they found the evidence, etc.

OK, so even with all of that, they still failed. They were a very martial group. One PC had a +4 to Diplomacy, everyone else had a -1. The first 2 attempts to speak in the hearing resulted in failure, which meant they didn't have the +2s adding up in their favor. They really needed to get those right at the start. They used the best evidence with the highest bonuses for those first 2 skill checks, so when they failed, we realized that there were no big bonuses left and it was just down to lucky dice rolls. Of 8 rolls, only 2 made it.

I even gave them an extra check at +4 because they came up with evidence not listed. That is, Dell's friend (the one that got beaten in order to convince Dell to poison the PCs) was convinced to testify. While he was healed up and couldn't show bruises, I thought it was compelling that a recruit was so badly beaten that he couldn't perform his duties. (He's the one that sits out the arena battle in the 4 player adjustment.)

They still couldn't do it, and the module ended with them missing that prestige point. Because of their successes and no demerits, they did at least get Captain Othis removed/reassigned.

In the end it appears that the reason they all gave the module 2 stars is because "So much of our final success depended on diplomacy, which is stupid." That's what one of the players wrote to me afterwards. I think he means stupid in context, that is that it's stupid for heavy diplomacy in a military module. It probably would have been well-received in Bid for Alabastrine or other talky modules.

Anyway, I might give this module another run. I still think it's promising. But the bloom is off the rose, I guess.

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Frankly, I think this is a good move by Paizo. I will deliberately buy product to help my PFS group win in a scenario... especially if the scenario is notoriously difficult. I would instantly buy $50 of product at the start of every Bonekeep game, on purpose, just to shore up our chances of survival.

Some problems to fix:

  • The text makes it seem like you need to purchase a single item valued at $10 or more for the first benefit. However, based upon the text about the $50 option, it seems more likely that combined receipts will qualify at both levels. That's an important difference. Lots of game stores make their money from food & drinks that gamers buy during play. These individual purchases may be small, but add up by the end of the night. They should qualify, and I suspect they do. It's just the wording is a little fuzzy.
  • The listed benefits are organized poorly so that the enhanced benefit is mixed in with the initial benefit. I'd simply reformat the text to make it more obvious what your options are at level 1 & 2.

Nonetheless, thanks tons for this. Those who have money to spend now have a new reason to spend it!

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I don't know how useful this will be, but I'm going to cast Raise Dead on this topic so that I can share the top 10 traits I've created for this game. You'll see that they build upon what has already been posted. Also, note that I'm only giving one big trait to each PC, so my traits do more than a normal trait would do. I hope these traits tell the background about Falcon's Hollow. If I do it correctly, just reading through these should give the players a very good feel for what the town is like.

Also, before I list the traits, a word about Huck (an NPC mentioned below). Huck is originally called Thelgrin in the module Revenge of the Kobold King. I changed Thelgrin's name because it sounds too close to Thuldrin, the big bad boss. My players would quickly confuse the names, so a good & drastic change was necessary.

Also, all bonuses are competence bonuses unless noted otherwise. So they shouldn't stack with spells such as Guidance.

Company Lumberjack
Prerequisites: non-druid, non-ranger
Though you came to Falcon's Hollow as an adventurer, the adventures never materialized. Soon you found yourself employed as a lumberjack by Thuldrin Kreed, a leader of the Lumber Consortium. You have been logging in the Darkmoon Wood for a while now, though you are restocking in town at the start of the campaign. Gain a +1 bonus to damage when using any sort of axe, and a +2 to diplomacy checks vs. lumberjacks. Unlocks: a map of lumber camps, and dossiers on Thuldrin, Payden, Milon, Jarlben, and Huck.

Company Merc
Prerequisites: non-good, non-druid, non-ranger
Though you came to Falcon's Hollow as an adventurer, the adventures never materialized. Soon you found yourself employed as a mercenary by Thuldrin Kreed, a leader of the Lumber Consortium. Thankfully, you have finally saved up enough to strike out on your own again. Gain a +1 bonus to all social skill checks (bluff, diplomacy, intimidate) with all employees of the Lumber Consortium (lumberjacks, mercenaries, and leadership). Unlocks: a map of lumber camps, and dossiers on Thuldrin, Payden, Milon, Jarlben, Mutters, Vamros, and Deldrin.

Hardy Healer
Prerequisites (D&D 3.5): does not worship Heironeous, CON 13+ or INT 13+
Prerequisites (Pathfinder): does not worship Iomedae, CON 13+ or INT 13+
Life in the Darkmoon Vale is often brutal and desperate. Though the town of Falcon's Hollow has a healer named Lady Cirthana, her religious proselytizing and open hostility toward Thuldrin has made everyone wary, and most are too poor to afford her spells anyway. You have learned to manage your wounds without holy aid, though this has left you with at least 1 visible scar. When you take a full night's rest, you recover an additional number of hit points equal to your Constitution bonus, or your Intelligence bonus, whichever you prefer. This reflects either your hardiness, or your skill at cleaning and stitching wounds. The bonus doubles with a full day's rest (24 hours), or if someone provides you with long term care (as per the heal skill), or if you expend a use of a Healer's Kit and make a DC 5 heal check before your night's rest. This bonus may never increase beyond a doubling.

Health Nut
Prerequisites (D&D 3.5): CON 13+ or worship Kord, Pelor, or Istus
Prerequisites (Pathfinder): CON 13+ or worship Kurgess, Marishi, or Pharasma
You have always been very hardy, but a loved one recently fell ill. You have seen and heard a number of other people around town with similar symptoms—hacking coughs that eventually produce blood if not treated. Your focus on health and fitness may save you; gain a +1 bonus to all Fortitude saving throws and an additional +1 circumstance bonus vs. poison or disease (you must declare the choice when you take this, and the option cannot be revised). If you meet the prerequisite by worshipping Istus (or Pharasma in Pathfinder), you may not have always been a health nut, but received a vision inciting you to become one.

Friend of Laurel
Prerequisites: ranks in alchemy or healing skills, or a class that offers alchemical or healing features at 1st level
You've befriended Laurel, the local apothecary. Recently, a mysterious coughing sickness has spread through the populace. The two of you have experimented with various solutions for the townsfolk, but no luck thus far. However, Laurel has a failsafe: an extremely expensive concoction that delivers a powerful health boost in all areas. Unfortunately, no one in town would be able to afford it, and likely they would do terrible things to obtain it. Laurel herself sold a family heirloom to cover the crafting costs. With your help, she has secretly brewed a dose for the both of you. If you vow to keep this secret, you may begin the game with one dose of Laurel's hardy brew. Unlocks: dossier on Laurel.

(Note: my intention here is that the dose grants immunity to disease for a week and a +1 to all other fort saves during that same time, but I do not wish the players to know beforehand if it is disease or poison or a curse that is affecting the town, so I cannot state clearly in the text that it is an anti-disease boost. They get to know this only once the game starts and they drink the potion.)

Rich Thief
Prerequisites: non-lawful, any class that confers stealth as a class skill, and a rank in bluff, sleight of hand, profession (con artist), or profession (gambling)
You have spent some time preying upon the citizens of Falcon's Hollow, not always successfully. If you are evil, you have scammed the common citizens, earning a -1 to social interactions (bluff, diplomacy, intimidate) with them. If you are neutral or good, you have stolen from the wealthy & corrupt residents of The Perch, earning a -1 to social interactions with them. The payoff for all this lying and thievery is that you begin the game with 5x the average starting gold for your class (minimum 200). Unlocks: dossier on Kabran.

Bird on a Perch
Prerequisites: none
You are a wealthy resident of The Perch -- a hill upon which the best homes have been built. Though it's good to come from money, you may or may not be aware that the whistles and bird calls you hear in town are a subtle jab at your fortunate upbringing. You have a -1 to social interactions (bluff, diplomacy, intimidate) with the commoners and low-born of Falcon's Hollow. However, your family has insisted that you strike out on your own, giving you 5x the average starting gold for your class (minimum 200) to become a "self-made man." Unlocks: dossier on Thuldrin.

Big Sister, Big Brother
Prerequisites: non-evil, starting age 24 or lower
As a race that isn't long-lived, your youth is quite recent in memory. In fact, many of the younger kids in town are known to you, and either look up to you or enjoy joking around with you. Gain a +3 bonus to diplomacy checks vs. kids, and +1 to gather information checks made using the help of kids in town. Note: these two bonuses do not stack; the former relies upon your good interactions with the kids, while the latter relies upon the kids' good interactions with others. Unlocks: dossiers on Kimi, Hollin, Mikra, Jurin, and Savram, as well as some information on each child's parent/caretaker.

Family Man
Prerequisites: none
Family members (which you may name) are alive & well in Falcon's Hollow. Disadvantage: if things go wrong in town, your family may be part of it. Advantage: free room & board while in town, unlike those stuck paying for rooms at Jak’a’Napes (or worse, paying for a room + prostitute at the Rouge Lady). Your family is not offering to house/feed your allies. Though this may seem a minor boon, do not forget that there are many months of down time between modules, and I will be tracking cost of living. Unlocks: any one town NPC dossier of your choosing, as a family friend or enemy, selected at any time, including long after the start of the campaign.

Elara's Orphan
Prerequisites: none
Your parents died while you were young. Because of this, you have spent time at Elara's orphanage outside of town. If you are a member of a short-lived race, then you likely were there as an orphan who needed shelter. If you are a member of a long-lived race, then you may have lost family before the orphanage existed, but you nonetheless spent time there, perhaps due to empathy and a wish to aid those of a similar background. In addition, your family's grave site holds deeply personal, almost religious meaning. Take a -1 to all skill checks any time a month passes without you visiting the graves, but gain a +2 circumstance bonus to all rolls should anyone ever threaten the memory of your family. Unlocks: dossiers on Elara, Sharvaros, Jak.

(Note: there is a bit of managing expectations that needs to happen with this last one. People will take it expecting to role play every social interaction into an argument about his/her family, so as to get the +2. Unfortunately, the more clear the text becomes, the more it will give away. So when they try to take advantage, let them know that it will be very obvious if it triggers. And then, when they must battle their own zombie parents in Hungry are the Dead and they are screaming "OH MY GOD" you get to say, "That +2 you took way back at the start? Yeah, now." My intention is to let them have the +2 for the entire module once their dead family is put into the mix, though you may wish to be more parsimonious. Also, I do not provide a dossier on Jeva, as she is a recent addition to the orphanage. The PC should have long moved on for training/apprenticeship in his/her selected class.)

I wish I had an 11th trait that tied into the fey somehow, but my creative energies dried up....

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For my home games, I routinely ignore the errata. We have some pre-errata books, and we just follow the printed text most of the time. If something really is game-breaking, only then do we look at the errata & FAQs. Often we don't even use them because a lot of them are contradictory to other staff members. For example, I've seen JJ post reasonable rulings on various questions, only to have the design team oppose it and then there is fallout or edge cases or other issues.

It bugs me that sometimes there are more issues after the errata or FAQ comes out. I feel like they should be patching holes, not making new ones.

I suspect Paizo might even support my habit of using original texts, as it's creating a market for older "first edition" books.

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James Jacobs wrote:
Ragnus Magnus wrote:
Say a druid wildshapes into an air elemental, would said druid be able to use a longbow of the appropriate size without penalty as long as they had proficiency?
They do not. That's kinda the role and niche of genies for one thing.

Hi James. Thanks for this older answer. I want to build on it, if that's OK. I have a druid in air elemental form. I'm with allies in a safe spot (no combat, they have time to get items out and place them on a table for me).

  • If they hand me a wand and say "use this to cast Cure Light Wounds on us," can I?
  • If they lay out a magical scroll and say "use this to cast Cure Light Wounds on us," can I?

(I kind of assume the first one is a "no" and the second one is a "yes" but I'm open to being surprised.)

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ChaosTicket wrote:
Next week Im going to fight a level 6 Demon Cleric with a level 1 Arcanist.

Are... are you reading the modules before playing through them? Why would you know that your arcanist is going to fight a level 6 demon cleric?

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Starting this Friday, I may have a handful of Pathfinder gamers who are interested in running through PFS scenarios, but as a home game. These guys have never done PFS, so I very much want to give them a solid introduction. I figure at most I have 33 modules to guide them (levels 1 through 11). I know Confirmation and Wounded Wisp should be on there, but after that it's unknown to me.

All I know is that I want them to interact with a good core group of NPCs. Rather than meeting 10+ Venture Captains, I'd love it if they met 2 or 3 and had repeated interactions. Rather than continent-jumping, I'd prefer they focus on an area, or at least just a few lodges instead of going all over the place. I want their memory of locations and people to be one of the big advantages that this home game has.

Can any of you experts direct me in this? A new list would be a courtesy, but if you think one of the older lists is a perfect match then let me know and I'll check that out too. Or a modified version.

Much thanks.

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Kezzie Redlioness wrote:
outshyn wrote:

Why would an enemy combatant come under your control for future scenarios? The polymorph school doesn't grant mind control.

And if it made the Will save, then it retains its knowledge of what happened, and now simply wants to kill you via its dog form, or escape you if it realizes the new form isn't powerful enough.

Yes...I know that it knows that I know it still knows. She's not trying to "mind-control" it! She feels for its current situation but knows that it is less of a threat in its current form.

If you're aware of the limitations I outlined, then you are aware that the enemy dog is still an enemy, still wants to fight or flee from you, and is in no way a reasonable candidate for a pet.

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James Jacobs wrote:
I'm not gonna say which ones, because going through thousands of messageboard posts and deciding which ones were good ideas and which ones were bad and creating a master document of the ones that I liked and then sorting them through the book was a HUGE task that I handled like last September or thereabouts, so I don't really remember the details.

Personally, I don't need to know details; I'm just happy this was done. The forums are a huge knowledgebase to draw from, and using that resource is just a really smart idea. Some companies have a policy to never use ANYTHING that comes from sources external to the company. I'm glad that wasn't the case here. It bodes well for the quality of the final product.

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The Goat Lord wrote:
thorin001 wrote:
The Goat Lord wrote:
In addition to the advice above, another option is to make your own monsters. Kind of cheap, but it will help you keep the mystery you want to achieve. You can even use the stats for a monster from the book and re-skin it as a new monster.
That does not help with knowledge checks. Unless your new critter was just created in a lab by a mad scientist there is lore on it somewhere that is represented by the knowledge check.
My suggestion implied just that: a new creature recently loosed upon the world.

Even if your suggestion did not imply that, it's still useful as a way to prevent metagaming. You can take a simple goblin stat block, rename it to goshena, and describe the creature as having horns, fur, and cat-like eyes. Use the stat block exactly as a normal goblin, but just revise the flavor text. The players will have zero clue what they are facing, and will be forced to rely upon knowledge checks to figure it out. This syncs up the character and the player. They both are in the same position: they must rely solely upon what the character gleans from the check, and will only be able to execute actions based upon that limited knowledge.

I did that recently with a dragon. Just renamed it to skydrake, and converted its breath attack to a roar that affects those within 30'. It seemed to throw off all preconceptions and the ability to metagame was diminished.

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Hmm wrote:
What books are available?

Anything that is official Paizo and is a book meant for players. So no Paths of War or other 3rd party, and even though there might be a cool item in a softcover adventure path module, it's not really a "player book" so I wouldn't have access to it. Does that make sense?

Hmm wrote:
What do you like to play?

I want to avoid simple/boring, and avoid one-hit wonders. I've been playing for years, so I'm OK to play more complicated stuff. I can make a really amazing fighter who can deal tons of damage, but that's all he does. I'll get bored.

Like, if I had to make a brute like that, I'd probably go warpriest just to have the challenge and fun of juggling all those swift actions. You know?

Part of why I started this topic is that I was trying to see if I could make druid bear shaman work, and I got stuck. The bear shaman archetype doesn't even get access to the bears until levels 5/6, when the Dragon's Demand module supposedly is wrapping up. I couldn't find a way to finagle early access.

I like challenges like that -- making a traditionally suboptimal character cool, but in the case of the bear shaman I can't redeem it before the module ends.

I like variety. I like options. I played a bard archer once, and I geeked out finding every type of arrow that exists. I had splinterbone arrows and sleeping arrows and screaming arrows and so on.

So whatever I play, I hope it's fun with lots of choices!

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Athaleon wrote:
People are going to be lining up to help you after that post.

I admit, you made me laugh out loud at that deadpan delivery.

For the original poster, look, if you're going to deride actually useful sites that people suggest, then you're not going to get the help you need. So, maybe that's just the conclusion you need to have: the full (not beginner-box) Pathfinder is not the right game for your group. While you are on a Pathfinder forum, I don't think anybody here is going to try to oversell it or convince you to stick with something that isn't right for you. So you will have to make it right for you, and if you can't (or won't) then that's just how it is.

To be blunt, if your players are Mario Kart gamers and they expect to keep it at Mario Kart levels, then they need to play Mario Kart. If they are willing to go outside of Mario Kart mindset, then they can have a richer game with Pathfinder. But Pathfinder isn't intended to be point-and-click easy. It's intended to be read-and-explore interesting. They're different things.

Personally, I'd show the previous paragraph to your players, and let them get a sense of reality and fairly decide if this is still a viable game for them. Maybe reading it, they want to go back to Monopoly. All decisions are fair game, since we're talking about a person's free time and/or gaming/entertainment time.

Here is another guide, an official guide, for character building. However, it's 160 pages and still involves reading. But it does offer some good build advice if you can convince players to use it. As for this:

Jader7777 wrote:
That's great and all with your veteran D&D buddies where this all makes sense and looking at excel power charts is inherently fun but when you've got people who's game experience is Mario Kart and Monopoly it's a little different. Yes they are eager to play but no they are not keen on leveling up and daft they be if they try to do it alone.

...that was pre-emptively answered in my post:

outshyn wrote:
I guess if your whole group decided to do this together, then they have, but then they get issues like this. They kinda need to let go of one or the other. Cake-eating is causing problems.

In other words, yeah, OK, you guys do it that way, but then it's expected you will have these problems. You can cobble together sites like the ones you deride, but that's only a partial solution, and in your case a completely not-acceptable solution, so the game offers you very little alternative. The game expects you to make choices that you aren't making, so you've exhausted what it offers. So we come back to you have to let go of one or the other:

  • let go of doing it together so that everyone can take time to learn at their own pace, or
  • do it together and let go of being timely

I suppose there is a 3rd option:

  • do it together, set a timer, and mandate that everyone is done at the timer, and if their characters suck, everyone accepts the suck

Again, if your group isn't willing to make some choices here, it really boils down to cake-eating: trying to have all benefits and accepting no downsides, until all the mutually-exclusive choices implode and the group falls apart.

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Jader7777 wrote:
they literally sit there

Are... are you guys leveling up during the game, and sitting around waiting for each other? You're not supposed to do that. Fixing that would solve the problem. From the rules:

PRD wrote:
A character advances in level as soon as he earns enough experience points to do so—typically, this occurs at the end of a game session, when your GM hands out that session's experience point awards.

You do not have to do that, and I'm not suggesting that you must. However, I am suggesting that the authors of the book were smart enough to anticipate the problem, and gave us an official way to handle the issue.

People are supposed/intended to level up at home, on their own, as the "game away from the game." They are supposed to be free to spend hours & hours going over things if they wish, or spend 1 minute just taking the very first thing that seems reasonable, etc. Whatever feels comfortable for them, they should do.

I guess if your whole group decided to do this together, then they have, but then they get issues like this. They kinda need to let go of one or the other. Cake-eating is causing problems.

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So what's the question? You've got confirmation that it works already even if you are doing lots of wild stuff, and you're assuring us that you're far below that threshold. If it works for preparing completely new spells, then it certainly works for preparing completely old spells.

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I can answer one of my own questions, for anyone else here who is wondering. This issue:

outshyn wrote:
chronicle wrote:
scroll of dispel magic (750 gp)

The problem is that the price is wrong. It should be one of these options:

  • scroll of dispel magic (750 gp, CL 10th)
  • scroll of dispel magic (375 gp)
  • scroll of dispel magic (700 gp, level 4 spell as per druid spell list)

The correct answer is option 2. The scroll should not have an increased caster level, nor should it be a druid version. It's just priced wrong.

I know this because it turns out that the high tier items also have a Dispel Magic scroll, and that scroll is set to CL 9. So it's absolutely not the case that the lower tier gets a higher CL item. It's just priced wrong.

As for my other question about the seance boon, I've come to the conclusion that it is indeed a full use of the seance, exactly as it works (so it takes an hour to cast, but your allies can get in on it). Because of this, I've created a document that lists the seances, and I print it onto the back of the chronicle sheets. This way the players have a self-contained solution, AND they don't have to muddle through looking it all up the way I did.

I offer this sheet to all of you, in case you wish to do the same.

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I think some of the discussion today has gone wonky, so I want to try to bring it back to normal, if I can. Please consider how this "you must pay for healing" is based in the PFS rulebook:

PFS rulebook wrote:
In Pathfinder Society Organized Play, you may never buy items from, sell items to, or trade items with another player. You may, however, allow another player to borrow an item for the duration of a scenario.


PFS rulebook wrote:
Sometimes awful things happen to adventurers. After an all-night romp through the sewers, your wounds might start to fester with some foul disease—you might even die. You may have spells cast on your character, subtracting the gold piece cost from your total. If your gold is insufficient, the other players around the table may chip in to get you back on your feet, but they cannot be compelled to do so. It is their choice whether or not they aid you.

So our own guidebook paints a picture that is different from some home games. It clearly falls on the side of "you don't get to obligate someone to pay for your healing." Or really, in general, "you don't get to obligate someone or take from their loot in any way -- and sometimes we flat-out ban it, except for getting raised from the dead."

So we don't have a concept of "the healer must expend his cash to aid others." Some home games do. (In fact, I recently helped someone who was getting yelled at in a home game because he "wasn't doing his job as a healer." He didn't know how to heal a damphir in high volume, since his channels were positive energy and he didn't have enough ways to get negative energy healing. When he complained, he was told that it was his problem to figure out, and he had to figure it out quickly or he'd get booted for failing as a healer. So this mindset is out there, and I've seen people bring it to PFS.)

For those suggesting we might as well charge for other things, like the sorcerer delivering a buff, or the fighter defending a squishy caster from attack, please refocus on the PFS rules. It should be clear that the reason we focus on a healing wand is because we all expect this of the healer in high volume. If we all expected the arcane caster to give everyone Barkskin -- to the point that he's out of Barkskin spells and has to resort to a wand -- then we are imposing a financial cost on the wizard. And he has every right by our rules to say no.

Similarly, yes, the fighter might be justified to say no for a defense that costs him money. For example, if a rust monster is racing toward the cleric and the fighter says he will not engage in melee to intervene, we have no right to be upset with that fighter. He'll lose his armor and weapons! If he wants to stand at range and shoot arrows, that's fair. Or, if the group is under attack by undead, and the paladin has some special anti-undead one-time item, he may insist that the group take down the undead normally, rather than use that one-time item. It's his expense. He gets to decide where to use it. And we don't get to paint him as a jerk for doing that.

However, if that sorcerer has 5x Barkskin on his daily list and it costs him nothing to cast them, and he simply won't use any even though it'd make a difference, and now we're at the end of the module and 2 people are dead and this sorcerer is still sitting on 5x Barkskin on his daily list, that's a whole new ballgame. Now the questions about what exactly this sorcerer contributes start to become fair game. As well, if the paladin in our example has a shield with unlimited positive channeling -- so it can trigger at zero cost -- and he/she refuses to do it while people are begging for the help, then questions about how much of a team player that person is might be valid.

Again, this continually comes down to cost. And discussion that compares a cleric blowing through wands of CLW with others who are not expending consumables or experiencing cost due to limited charges or expense, are not comparing apples to apples.

If a bard says he won't do the free Inspire Courage because I won't buy wands of CLW and heal him dozens of times at my own expense, that's a mismatch. However, if the bard says he won't do Good Hope because he only has it on a wand and if the cleric isn't giving away wand charges then he won't either, that's a match.

Please, keep that in mind while we're discussing. We spam healing spells like crazy and I've had normal (not Bonekeep) modules where I've eaten up 25 to 40 charges in a single game. This is not something we do with almost any other spell, and if we did, the same limitations of fairness would come into play.

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joe kirner wrote:

Another thread about how people are too afraid to talk to others.

2 players allowed to ruin an entire lodge.
You should have listened to Spock in wrarh of khan.
Shame on the vo's and gms involved.

Well... wait a moment. To be fair, we have 2 people from the lodge here describing how they took these people aside and talked to them repeatedly (and helping them with builds). The problem here doesn't seem to be:

  • We are too scared to talk to them.

Instead, the problem seems to be this:

  • Everyone always says "talk to each other like adults" so we DID, at length, with multiple people and multiple tries, and yet it didn't work out.
  • So... what now?

(I understand that you may be suggesting that the GMs should be talking to the 2 players more right in the middle of the game when they are refusing to do a skill check or whatever, but your statement was so broad that I felt the need to defend these 2 posters and their lodge. I mean, they seriously seem to have tried the "talk like adults" approach a HUGE amount. That approach is what is traditionally supposed to work! So this is a whole new area. I think that's why some responders are really stumped. This is not normal.)

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Holy Tactician info. Basically I can get teamwork feats and give them to my allies even if they don't qualify. Only 1 active at a time.

This paladin will only get to 7th level (just playing through Dragon's Demand), so I'll only get 2 such feats. Which ones are staples, must-haves, etc.? I'm thinking of something that would likely benefit us during most combat encounters. Also, something that is useful if we have a normal party composition (so, there will not be 3 melee fighters on the frontlines -- more likely I'll be the tank, there will be a rogue/swashbuckler type, a wizard and something else).

Also, I feel that giving up a standard action to invoke these feats is a pretty hefty sacrifice mid-combat. However, there doesn't appear to be a time limitation on the ability. Is it possible to grant the feat in the morning, as everyone is memorizing spells & whatnot, and then have it active throughout the day?

EDIT: Also, I'm not optimized. I'm a paladin of Sarenrae, so I wield a scimitar and shield. Meh damage output, if that changes any feat options.

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Well John, I kind of defer to you on that, but with one exception. Even if that is the case, it causes no harm to do what Ragoz suggests -- do the optional "hard mode" more often. Very, very often from my own experience GMing, there are "mooks" or other filler NPCs/monsters in a fight that are reduced for 4 person mode. There is no reason why there could not be an optional increase. It'd literally be a single sentence added next to the 4 player option: "If the players ask for hard mode, add 1 enemy." (Of course, you'd specify what enemy you're adding just as you specify what you're removing in 4 player mode.)

That might not be truly "hard mode" in the sense that adding a single mook very often isn't even a 1/2 CR increase, but at least it tips the scale of the action economy. It might mean fights go 5 rounds instead of 4. Even that minor option would be welcome.

You know me & my crew, John. You can imagine that Gennaro, Walter, John G, Houston, and myself would certainly group together and try for hard modes like that. Maybe even throw Chris in there if we really wanted to rules-lawyer and murderify our way through things. We would probably still cakewalk those modules even then, but at least it'd be a "Hmm, that actually got interesting for moment," kind of thing.

Since hard mode does exist for some modules, this simpler version just needs to be implemented more often.

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The Fox wrote:
There is a right way and a wrong way to ask a player about questionable abilities of their characters.

At... hmm... some California PFS convention whose name I've forgotten, I sat down at a table about 15 minutes early. The GM smiled and said he would need to see everything from my character -- inventory tracking sheets, chronicles, character sheet, and a full book check for every ability. I laughed but he was serious. I thought he's only doing this because I sat down 15 minutes early, and so he has time. Since I am borderline Rainman about this stuff, when I realized he was serious I took out books, got out sheets, and walked him through everything. He even recalculated my ability scores and saving throws, to make sure I did the math right. Everything was perfect, zero issues.

Then it was game time. I was annoyed by the extensive obsessive character review, but maybe it was my bad for showing up early. Whatever. Let's play.

The GM turns to the next person who had arrived, and said the same thing he said to me. That person sat there like a deer in headlights, before finally opening up a bag, and getting out piles of books & folders. The GM proceeded to review, fully, every single character. The game started an hour late, after repeated protests from all the players each time he would say, "And do you have the book, and is it open to the page that explains this ability?"

I learned a really important lesson that day, but I didn't learn it right at that moment. Instead, the lesson was learned about 2 or 3 hours in, then again at the conclusion. Here's the thing: after cutting nobody any slack at all, and assuming that every player was cheating from the outset, and starting so late that it was clear we wouldn't get a good game, fully zero of the players were willing to cut the GM any slack in return. So when he started to get off-module the players were howling with frustration. It was obvious even without reading the module -- the GM had a convenient "nope the enemy counters everything you do" excuse, no matter what we tried to do, until it got to the point of being absurd. So one player actually had a tablet out mid-game, with a browser open, and the purchase page for the module up. The player was like, "You understand that I'm going to book-check you back, right? I am going to find every place you cheated or ran it unfairly, and I am going to have the VC overturn everything you do."

Because we started so behind, the game ran late. However, there were other games to attend, so the GM couldn't run long and had to rush like crazy at the end. And none of the players were going along with it or helping out at all. They were like, "Yeah, you have a problem, you screwed up." I have never seen a table of players turn on a GM like that. At the end, the entire group walked over to the VC, and explained to the VC what had gone wrong. The GM fled out the door before the VC had even heard everything.

The lesson? I was surprised about how players can turn on you. I mean, I understood my own personal "this sucks" feeling when I got book-checked. But I did not understand what a table full of angry players who are not giving the GM any slack would look like until I saw it. If your players are upset with you, you will lose control of that table, and it will be ugly. Every decision you make will be second-guessed. Every action you take will be viewed in the worst possible light, and then that "worst possible light" is going to be reported to your VC.

I personally feel it's important to check characters, especially at conventions where you are not necessarily dealing with your home town buddies who get the rules right. The strangers you meet could have never played, or could have some weird quirk of their local game stores that caused them to overlook or never use a rule correctly. So I want to check. But man do I not ever want to have my game go bad like that one GM did. I vowed at that game that I would only ever do spot checks and that each spot check could only last about a minute per player. Even as it is, I worry that I could set the tone for animosity just from a single check of a single thing.

But then again, I do catch a mistake almost every time. I once caught someone with no tracking sheets, no chronicles, and not even a character sheet. Just a blank sheet of lined paper and an assurance that he had memorized the character and it would be fine. I caught someone with a 40 point buy for ability scores.

There's good reason to check, but keep it quick. You don't want the wrath of your players.

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