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@Zilfrel: Classic stuff to throw in. Traps and swarms definitely adjust the tactics of the party, I agree. What sort of traps do you feel work against high level parties?

@TimD: I agree, working up to it is normally how I prefer to have things happen. However, the abrupt end of our other campaign, where they had earned their way to higher levels, left many of them still wanting to try high level game play.

I love the idea of interaction between lower power adventurers and the higher level PCs that you've mentioned. That sounds like an excellent dynamic to have the players be the ones with the power giving out wisdom. Lair building also is intriguing to many of my players, I'll definitely include that.

You mentioned "Putting the PCs in a position where a single, painful choice is the answer to the continuation or destruction of a people", which sounds like a very memorable situation for the players. What was the painful choice they had to make? What was the result for the players?

@Human Diversion: Were the mounted trolls with drow backup an encounter the players could prepare for, or an ambush? I'm assuming it was out in the open where the trolls could charge? What was the end result of the encounter?

@Rarednaw: Excellent stuff to work with, thank you! In particular, I'm curious about the story of the endangered species that is Balor. Were there any consequences for removing that "species" from existence? Or did the players attempt to save some of them? What happened there?

@Bacon666: Subtle disguise shift sounds like an excellent way to tweak with some of the more well read members of my group, thank you for the idea. What was the result of the dragon fight? A narrow victory? You mentioned that the goal is to make encounters hard pressed, what makes you as a player feel pressured at high level? Being low on spells, using up consumables, almost dying, etc?

@aceDiamond: Brilliant. I greatly enjoy when my players come up with some unexpected plans, though I suspect I'd have been just as alarmed as your GM. Was finding a unique vulnerability the most memorable part for you, or just the fact that you found a unique use for a lower level spell against a higher level foe?

@everybody: Thank you again for your responses. It's definitely helping me expand upon the ideas I already have in place. Keep 'em coming if you've got 'em!

I'm just about to start up a game with 7 higher level players. I have a fair bit of experience running for high level groups, as I've run high level games in the past and they had some very crazy moments.

However, all that being said, I feel there are few resources out there discussing successful high level campaigns. This is where you come in!

I'd really like to hear about high level games that you've experienced. Memorable moments that really made you have fun during a high level campaign.

I'm fully aware of the balance concerns and issues that can arise with high level Pathfinder, but putting all that aside, what are your favorite stories from characters that eventually were the big fish in the pond?

Thank you in advance to anyone offering me a bit of inspiration, it's greatly appreciated.

If you've ever dreamed of playing a paladin, THIS is the adventure to do it in, absolutely.

magnuskn wrote:
Doesn't exactly work that way, additional multipliers just add another instance of damage instead of multiplying again, so more like x6 damage, but two times per Amazing Initiative.

Litany is an effect on the target, doubling the damage it takes, so that does double the damage. Foe-Biter is up to interpretation, but it says "when this item deals damage, its user can use mythic power to double the total amount of damage it deals", which from that wording would make sense that it's doubling the damage that's been calculated already, letting a Vital Strike deal double it's normal damage. Amazing initiative is a whole separate action, so obviously that's doubling the damage from that point as well. Unfortunately, for 3 mythic points, it very well could be x32 damage. This is all pre-critical strike, of course. I'm not an advocate of this, just further pointing out how silly the damage a mythic paladin can deal is.

Litany of Righteousness (x2 damage) + Foe-Biting (x2 damage) + Mythic Greater Vital Strike (x4 damage) + Amazing Initiative (2nd action, for another Vital Strike)= Weapon Damage, with Bonuses (including paladin smite) x32 damage.

Xelnagahunter wrote:
Unfortunately my group is in the downtime section of the adventure where we use these brand new and complicated mechanics for things we merely used to just RP out. We wasted a session learning the rules for downtime and implementing them for almost a month in game so far. My PC's not only have several buildings in the works but using the Healing" option have gathered a mass majority of the RP needed for that part of the adventure. Now I just need to coax them out lest they collect it all before their buildings finish. I've come up with a minor puzzle thought for the Jesker part, so we will see if that works out then I'll report it here for you guys.

Excellent! Definitely let me know what you figure out for Jesker, as my group is rapidly approaching that section.

Having talked with several GM/co-GMs now I realize that puzzle fights are a bit of a divisive issue. It is definitely breaking the pathfinder rules to present most of these puzzles in a challenging way, and that requires a somewhat strong understanding of how to bend the system without breaking it. Some GMs love to stick to exactly what is written, and I have a deep respect for those that can provide a challenge within that framework. I'm having a hard time doing so, so I've taken to using complex puzzle fights. I'd really like to see what other GMs are doing with their own adaptations of fights and how you've added puzzles to make your games more fun. For now, however, here's another example of one of my more complicated puzzle fights.

Substitute for the auto-win ascension fight. My batch of players seemed to greatly enjoy this, but it's definitely not for everybody. Thought I may as well put it out there anyway:

Problem - players have to close the portal that is spewing demons before the demonic army waiting on the other side can storm forth through Areelu's portal. Round 1 has 1 babau appear. Round 2 has 2 babaus appear. Round 3 has 3 babaus appear. Then, on round 4 and every round thereafter, 5 babaus will appear. I rolled one initiative that all the babau's acted on to simplify the order in which PCs/monsters acted.

Tools - the 7 PCs are granted temporary god-like powers, drawn randomly from 3x5 cards that have the letters A-F, not being allowed to draw the same letter twice. The PCs are also granted a mind-link spell and given 5 minutes in real time to look over their abilities and talk with one another. Then the fight begins.

The god-like powers -

3 copies of (A) Vengeance of the Just: +20 ranged attack 100' range, does 100 dmg to a demon ignoring DR. 1/day use normally, but recharges when an adjacent ally uses Light of the Heavens.

3 copies of (B) Rune of the Wardstone: Creates a rune which covers one 5 ft square. Standing on the rune grants +10AC vs demons. 1/day use normally, but recharges when you are granted the Blessing of the Divine.

3 copies of (C) Blessing of the Divine: grants target DR 110/good for 1 round, 30' range. 1/day use normally, but recharges when an adjacent ally kills a demon using Vengeance of the Just.

3 copies of (D) Light of the Heavens: heals target of 150hp, range touch and removes all conditions. Recharges when standing on a Rune of the Wardstone, but dispels the Rune.

1 copy of (E) Banish the Sin Source: Dispels any open gateways as per "dispel magic", but only starts with a +2 on the caster level check (the gateway's DC that's currently open is DC 31). Unlimited use. It is possible to empower Banish the Sin Source by absorbing a Rune of the Wardstone. Using a standard action while standing on a Rune of the Wardstone dispels the rune and grants a permanent +2 to the dispel check. Absorbing a rune, if you have absorbed a rune in the previous round, reduces the absorb to a swift action instead of a standard action.

1 copy of (F) Grace of the Fallen Crusaders: grants all allies within 100' DR 5/good and fast healing 5 for 3 rounds. Unlimited use. Prematurely ending the grace is a full round action that also recharges one target's usage of Vengeance of the Just.

The "solution" to this fight is to have everybody using their powers to empower the other people next to them. The powers of the players charge each other's up in a circle, with two possible ways to get extra usages and one way that takes away usages (but will eventually be the solution to stopping the fight).

Blessing of the Divine <charges> Rune of the Wardstone <charges> Light of the Heavens <charges> Vengeance of the Just <circle repeats here, as it charges> Blessing of the Divine.

To gain extra recharges, the players need to drop some of their protections by dispelling Grace of the Fallen Crusaders to gain an extra Vengeance of the Just, or they can note that Vengeance of the Just recharges ALL adjacent charges of Blessing of the Divine.

Also, recharges get "lost" through Banish the Sin Source as it gets powered up by eating Rune of the Wardstone. It will take 5 absorbs to even have a shot of dispelling the portal. It will take 10 absorbs to have a greater than 50/50 chance (9 or higher) to dispel the portal.

It's also important to note that beyond the mechanics of the fight, I really heavily reinforced the flavor of each ability when the PCs used them. Eventually I let the players describe what the powers did, but I offered some examples to get things started. Here's some examples of what I did:

*Vengeance of the Just was them summoning the swords of a thousand angels which plunged into the chest of the demon then vanished.

*Each rune of the wardstone placed on the ground was the written true word of a goodly concept (like "charity") and when absorbed to empower banish the sin source, granted them a short vision of how destiny had been changed so that the concept came into being (for "charity" they saw a vision of 'Horgus' when he wasn't known by that name, and the player's will reached back through time to shield him when the other children were murdered. Horgus's eventual destiny would be to offer charity to the crusaders because of the kindness shown by the PCs back through time).

*Grace of the Fallen Crusaders granted the party the final thoughts of every crusader who charged into a fight with a demon and perished from the 1st crusader (on 1st use), 2nd crusade (on 2nd use), and so forth.

*Blessing of the Divine allowed them, for one second of time, to embody the essence of a deity. For a split second they were Sarenrae with protective sun fire shooting around them, etc.

*Light of the Heavens healed not only the PCs HP and conditions, but any psychological/emotional/spiritual scars that may have been lingering. A lack of ability to trust others because of past betrayals (as written into a PC's backstory) can be overlooked for a time, as the trauma of those events is seen through the light of true goodness.

*Banish the Sin Source, happened to be being cast by our party's Warpriest of Gorum, so once he finally succeeded in dispelling the portal he grew hundreds of feet tall and crushed the portal shut with his colossal fists, then shrinking back down to normal size.

Anyway, I realize this is an incredibly complicated fight. My players have numerous times said they wanted a real challenge, and this is one of the fights that really seemed to work for that. It was an incredible intellectual puzzle that I was very proud of them for solving, and they had a wonderful time. It really made their ascension into Mythic tiers feel epic to be gods for a little bit, and the symbolism of having to work together to be able to push back Areelu's demonic influence was not lost on them either.

Thank you for anyone who has taken the time to read this. I realize it's not easy to understand. I'm fairly busy these days, but if you have any questions I'll do my best to answer them. And please consider posting your own puzzles for me to check out as well!

Raltus wrote:
My party talked their way through the Crusaders, one PC is a Female Cleric of Calistra, it got very funny very quickly when she pointed out that their sacrifice wasn't a virgin.

Haha, brilliant. That sounds excellent.

About to have to run game, but saw that you wanted some more examples Raltus.

Best quick example that I have time to type out was when they ran across the scenario where they were coming across some Crusaders who misguidedly thought that sacrificing a virgin and dipping their swords in her blood would enchant them to kill demons.

I explained to the players that the Crusaders seemed completely out of their minds, and that talking rationally to them might dissuade the knights from following through on their plan. It would require a diplomacy check, which requires 10 rounds of interaction before you can make it.

The puzzle part is that they have to go 10 rounds fighting the knights, preventing them from killing the girl, but cannot deal damage. Dealing damage to a knight increases the DC of the diplomacy check by 4 per time damage is dealt. Base DC is 19.

They thought this was an incredibly fun fight, because they had to learn how to disarm, grapple, reposition, dirty trick, and do anything they could to prevent the knights from doing things, while not just smiting them down as they do most fights.

Zilfrel Findadur wrote:
i don't quite understood this D:

Yeah, I suppose the puzzle fights are pretty complicated to explain. The core of what I was attempting to convey is that adding more complex abilities to significant fights, abilities that are "overpowered" but can be removed through intelligent player action, has been a very viable way for me to challenge optimized PCs (even mythic ones). Inspiration for complex fights can be drawn from how online multi-player boss battles have been constructed.

The mechanics I've been coming up with are pretty complicated compared to most Pathfinder battles, now that I think about it, and perhaps the forum isn't a good place to attempt to communicate my ideas, as I didn't seem to articulate them very well. After further consideration I think I might just try to work out these concepts with some Co-GMs that I'm working with instead of the forums.

Thank you for taking the time to read it, Zilfrel. Hoping your having an excellent WotR game.

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So I offered to run the next game after we finished a rather enjoyable run of Rise of the Runelords. I have always wanted to have players go the extra planar extra mile and vanquish a demon lord, so I am incredibly excited to be running Wrath of the Righteous. Thank you to the Paizo crew for writing an invigorating chance to allow players to take on the big bad evils.

At this point we've just finished book 1, and haven't gotten into the real crazy stuff that is Mythic. As an avid follower of the forums here, I've seen many of the stories stating how challenging it can become to really have an involving fight with 4 mythic characters, let alone 7 of them. I've also been reading that it's pivotal to adjust the campaign to your players' needs, as suggested by the Devs, so that's what this thread is attempting to address. Alternative solutions to providing compelling (and hopefully challenging) combat situations that subvert normal game mechanics to resolve the imbalances Mythic gameplay has the potential to cause.

I've run hundreds and hundreds of hours of 3.5, and have finished 3 different high level campaigns. The players I've ran for have often been optimized, and I am very used to adjusting on the fly to wacky intensely powerful ideas that the group comes up with. I'm still nervous about providing a strong challenge for my group, but I've found that as long as I put forth the effort to offer a good fight (even if they absolutely trounce it) all 7 of my players have a wonderful time. So, here is my effort to lose every fight to my godly PCs in a way that will keep them interested.

My solution has been to keep the flavor of fights, but adjust game mechanics in brutal and completely non-standard ways. I call these "puzzle fights", as winning the fights is nearly impossible without the PCs finding the key to bypassing the challenge I present. Now, with that said, there is always some off-the-wall solution that a Wizard or Cleric will toss out now and then that throws me and bypasses everything, but I've found that keeping a "yes" attitude makes those players feel incredibly accomplished for having found a neat solution on their own.

With all that said, let me present one of my simpler early puzzle fight examples that I've used against the players (it should be noted this was pre-mythic gameplay, but they're still twinked to the max):

The Abrikandilu demon is pillaging a besieged shop (pg. 28 of Worldwound Incursion) and tearing it apart trying to destroy all the beautiful things. The PCs rush in ready to smash the demon to bits, but on it's turn as a move action it explodes into mirror images (19 of them, to be exact). The players were balking at how to attempt to damage this beast with 1/20 odds of having a chance at hitting it. They tried swinging at it while closing their eyes to try to have a 50/50 shot of hitting it, but the images make noise and chatter, causing them to have to reroll each 50% chance of hitting (but still giving them some chance of hitting it). Three rounds of swinging away at it occured before one of the PCs noticed that it was never attacking the players, but moving from one mirror to the next in the building and taking it's turn to sunder the mirrors apart. The quote "how the heck do we beat this thing, all we have to interact with are these stupid mirrors" was a favorite line of mine at this point, said by our Paladin. The bard rushed over and grabbed a mirror, and they noticed that the images didn't reflect in the mirror and that the demon hissed and shied away from looking into it. They could look into the mirror and swing at the demon with a 50% chance of hitting, which managed to score them a few more hits over the next round before the Abrikandilu sundered that mirror as well. Finally, the wizard grabbed one of the mirrors and forcibly brandished it at the Abrikandilu, which allowed it a saving throw that it failed. The Abrikandilu's images were absorbed into the mirror and it was stunned for a round unable to deal with the sight of it's own reflection. This opening was enough for the melee to smite the demon down and save the shop owners, who were very grateful and suggested the players keep a mirror or two just in case.

I have more examples of scenarios like this, but here's the basics of the fight: with so much melee damage in my party, there's no way the single demon could survive without absolutely absurd defenses. So that's what I gave it. Surmounting those defenses required noticing what it was doing and the environment that was around it, and using those to the player's advantage. The melee felt they did their part, smashing the demon down, and those players that aren't as aggressively inclined has a puzzle to solve to allow the damaging character's their opportunity to defeat the enemy.

This sort of situation allowed the players to feel like it was a very challenging fight, even though they took almost no damage at all. Now, I definitely didn't threaten them with death on this early puzzle fight, but they still walked away from the game session feeling involved and delighted at the interesting situation. So I'm calling that a GM win.

I'll be writing out more puzzle situations, if only to allow my own typing to give me ideas for future fights, but right now there's some HTML coding I'm forced to get back to. A brief summary of the players in my party, and what house rule modifications I've made, will follow this post as soon as I'm able to find the time to do so. I'd also be remiss not to note that many of my puzzle mechanics, for future fights, are inspired by Raid Boss mechanics on various online MMOs, as I've felt some of those fights were absolutely epic.

If you've managed to read this much, please take a moment to comment about any interesting puzzle mechanics or ideas you've had. Are there moments in WoTR that you feel could have been modified to be more interesting? Were there specific fights you felt were "iconic" to the story, that deserve to be truly challenging? Any feedback is welcome.

Thanks for reading this wall of words. +1xp for you!

Depending on your party, you could absolutely offer to open up the opportunity for them to have an epilogue where they aren't really challenged at all and solve Golarion problems. Could be very fun to play around with mythic powers solving less mega issues, as a sort of "now what did you always WANT to have accomplished with your super powers, now that everything is fixed?"

Hahaha. Wow. Now that's a story.

Perhaps their "Deeper Darkness" gets Metamagic: Heightened +2? Then it'd be a level 5 spell, and it'd take an equal level or lower light spell to negate it, by my understanding. Still able to be countered if your players can heighten up a daylight spell, but it'd suck up at least a round or two as they discover it's not countered by a basic daylight.

Alleran wrote:
randomroll wrote:
I think it's to clarify that the mechanics will cater to a less experienced player base, while the story will still be a strong reason to purchase the AP even if you're hosting a more experienced group of players.
One of the problems with this concept, however, is that the mechanics seem meant to cater to less experienced players, but with mythic thrown on top of high level (even mid level) play, even those less experienced people can very easily construct characters that find the AP a cakewalk (and if the group is less experienced, then they'll be significantly less able to adjust as needed). In that sense, mythic "dials up" the problems to the point where it becomes noticeable even by those less experienced groups.

Ahh, OK, I see where you're coming from. My players' levels of experience already necessitates me having to do heavy adjustments of the encounters, but that would certainly be off-putting to have a less rules savvy group of players feel no sense of an epic challenge from the AP. Scaling up raw numbers doesnt seem like a very elegant solution to the problem, but I'm a big fan of the more dynamic boss mechanics that have been suggested in other threads here.

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jahvul wrote:

It is pretty disheartening to see the creative director basically stick his fingers in his ears and say "lalala it's the gms fault not ours" every high level adventure 12+ needs massive tinkering to not completely fall apart from my experience. this is from someone who has been running D20 system since it came out, you have to try hard to NOT break the system.

It could SOMETIMES be a case of inexperienced or bad DM's but not acknowledging the glut of terrible problems high level play has and addressing them in the adventure design (make the battles harder) seems to give off a "I don't give a crap people will buy this stuff regardless" kind of attitude.

"There are no problems everything is going according to plan"


I love the adventure paths (greatest rpg idea ever) but there is big room for improvement in the back halves of these paths, not even seeing a problem is really disheartening.

Huh, I absolutely didn't see what he said in that light. Strange how something can be interpreted so differently between two people.

I suppose it depends on what you wanted the AP to provide for your purchase. If your intent was to purchase it so that you could use the mechanics of it to challenge your players, I can see why needing to modify it to your needs would be a frustration.

Much of the reason I wanted it was to find a strong story core that I could bend my own mechanics around. In that light, it's been an excellent purchase. The statistics of NPCs and monsters presented I do tend to greatly modify, but thanks to the forum resources it's not a huge challenge to do. Really, the gold within the pages comes from the story presented, which I absolutely love.

With the amount of responses on the WotR forums we've had from Mr. Dinosaur, I certainly don't think the intention is to say "people will buy this stuff regardless". I think it's to clarify that the mechanics will cater to a less experienced player base, while the story will still be a strong reason to purchase the AP even if you're hosting a more experienced group of players.

I'm definitely in the latter category, as some of my players have made monstrously powerful characters. I'm looking forward to modifying the encounters heavily and adding my own mechanics to give them a challenge, but I absolutely respect that sometimes that can be quite a lot of work for me or any GM.

1 level of synth summoner = +8 racial bonus to a skill

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Shimesen wrote:
Forget talking to the GM. Just do it! If he plays with gm fiat with this, then grab your dice, stick them in your pocket, fold up your character sheet, then rip it into pieces and shower the table with confeti and walk away...either a gm let's the players help tell the story, or the gm loses players...its that simple. He needs to be able to adapt to what you do as much as you have to adapt to what he does.

Some day I hope someone makes a web series about what a gaming table would look like if people followed this sort of forum advice.

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A creative player I had the opportunity to play PFS with had a neat solution to that problem, which was to pick a sub-par character focus and optimize it as much as possible. A master at using a whip, a crossbow ranged character, etc. He did quite well, but it was very balanced by him having to account for the inherent drawback of his character focus.

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Personally, the most challenging and enjoyable encounters I've ran are ones that have "puzzle combat" scenarios. I'll elaborate.

* Example: Main villain is being funneled energy from 12 acolytes around the room. While the energy is being channeled the boss has DR 30/-, regen 15, and can make ranged energy attacks similar to a lantern archon. Destroying the acolytes makes the villain vulnerable, which should be able to be deduced from your description of the situation.

That's a pretty simple situation where it's obvious that the players need to solve puzzle part A (destroying acolytes) before they can resolve fight B (boss). It's very important that the puzzle has hints before hand, is able to be learned mid-fight, or is very apparent in its resolution.

I have an abundant number of situations where you can add flavor like this. The only challenge is thinking outside of the rule books and creating effects that don't exist within pathfinder. It's not for everybody, but for the groups I've ran for, it challenged the optimized characters (and the un-optimized) to have to come up with new strategies. They usually felt elated at their success in such scenarios.

Two of my other personal (less complicated) favorites:

* Scenario 1 (ran by a friend of mine): the boss, vs a level 8 party, has DR 20/(truly greedy person). It was a pirate game and 5 of the 6 players had wound up being rather generous, while one of us was greedy the entire time. As it turns out, the greedy person was the only one who could damage the monster mastermind and take his place, so the entire party had to protect/help this one individual to ensure he could attack them every turn.

* Scenario 2: Three demons that had to be killed at exactly the same time (aka, on the same turn all had to be brought to negative their con), or else they would all receive a heal spell and be brought back to full health. The party had the opportunity to talk with a survivor who fought against the demons and described his regiment being slaughtered by them, so they had clues as to how to defeat them.

I have a huge array of these that I've run in other encounters. Ones where the party had to kill one of them to turn them into a ghost to fight an enemy, ones where the party was forced to possess tiny animals to go into a den and fight a wizards familiar, etc. Mostly what I'm suggesting is that adding raw numbers is probably my least favorite way of challenging powerful characters and that creating your own spells/effects/situations that are puzzling is a very rewarding way to offer a challenge.

Nice to hear some vulnerabilities are showing through with the mythic players. Are they feeling challenged at this point? Have they noticed the AC issue as well, or is that just your observation?

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Huge fan of your articles and analysis, TarkXT. It seems like you wrote this to inspire people to try to utilize combat maneuvers more often, but sadly this summary did the opposite for me.

TarkXT wrote:

Just as an example let’s say the group is fighting a Crucidaemon. At 42 CMD it would seem that any attempt for our, let’s say level 12, group to shove her around would end badly. Or would it?

A +9 initiative isn’t bad. But by now, a forge model group can easily beat that. Our level 12, let’s say Fighter(Cad) really likes the dirty trick maneuver and is wielding a Guisarme he took the dirty trick line up to Quick Dirty trick allowing him to do it as an attack action. His group’s wizard and bard go first. The bard electing to cast Mass Heroism and activating inspire courage while his wizard opts to give the cad a Quickened Enlarge person and casually chucks a waves of fatigue spell at the crucidaemon (we’ll say he rolls the SR which by now he can get a check of around +18 anyway).

So, some quick number crunching here gives the CAD a base CMB after buffs a base CMB check of +24. The Crucidaemon is sitting at a much less mighty 35. This allows the Cad to perform any maneuver he likes on the Crucidaemon on a roll of 11. This is with normal buffs for the level and a debuff which only makes a 1 point difference.

So we have three attacks for the fighter to perform. Obviously we want to use our most invested in maneuver first so we’ll use Dirty trick to start off. With the investment of feats with our class we hit a +31 on our CMD allowing us to blind the crucidaemon for several rounds on our first attack. Our Crucidaemon is now blind taking an additional -2 penalty to armor class knocking her CMD down to 33.

Our next attack is at a -5 penalty knocking our base CMB down to +19 versus 33. With this second attack our CAD gets cheeky and decides to trip her with his guisarme. Because he’s a fighter who actually invests in such things like weapon focus his weapon focus and greater weapon focus feats apply along with his weapon bonus (+2 for now) to get a CMB to trip of 23. A 50/50 shot.

In this case if he hits the trip attempt she’ll be knocked prone granting him a +4 bonus to attack rolls on her. If not it’s unlikely she’ll be able to trip back. For arguments sake let’s say she’s now, prone, blinded, fatigued, and flatfooted. Her CMD drops further down to 29 for this round. With an additional -5 on our last attack making our CMB a +14.

He now opts to attack her now 17 AC with his +17 attack roll. Smashing her in the back and taking an immediate action to Dirty trick her once more through a class ability. At this point it makes no real difference whether or not it affects her since she’s already significantly debuffed by the time the Cad does it.

So by the time the Crucidaemon gets around to acting, she’ll be prone, blinded, fatigued, and possibly entangled. Three of these conditions would cost a standard action to remove to allow her to fight effectively (if at all) and that would just allow the group to pound her with impunity.

Now he could have just straight up full attacked her. And indeed this would have been a fine thing to do. But, keep in mind that at 212hp and 20/good and silver DR the crucidaemon would have most likely survived at full potential to harm the group rather badly.

Now, there are opponents with much higher numbers for CMD but we can get on that later.

It took the party having a devoted exceptional buffer utilizing both of their most optimal attack boosters, a wizard blowing two high level spells, and a maneuver specialized fighter to get the odds to 50/50? That's... painful. So much action economy and damage output completely sacrificed so that we could *possibly* inconvenience the demon? (who is only a single target, and what GM uses only single opponents in serious fights that require so many resources to be used?)

Am I looking at this the wrong way? I really want combat maneuvers to be worthwhile at higher levels. Please help me see what I don't seem to be seeing?

That sounds like an epic night. Very encouraging. I'm definitely going to use some of Sc8rpi8n mjd's stuff as well.

If I could cast a spell that guaranteed that the 5th attack against me would always miss, or the next 3 attacks against me would miss, I'd always choose the latter. Hence, mirror image is my vote as well.

Lich whose "phylactery" is actually one of the player character's family bloodline, so player and their whole family must be dead for lich to finally be defeated.

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I like to think of my gaming group as being a sports team. The player needs to show up to the matches to participate. If they don't have time for it, then that's fine, but showing up on time is very crucial to the success of your game. In my opinion, it has equal levels of commitment as you'd have to have for a baseball/soccer/dodge-ball/whiffle-bat-extravaganza team.

Scroll of Dimension Door, used/carried by my familiar. It's the only way I've found to escape grapples consistently without using up my Contingency.

I'm quite interested how this will continue to turn out. Also really curious how your players feel about the combats. If they feel it's fun and challenging, even if to you it seemed short and easy, or if they find themselves bored during certain fights.

Wow, a ton of great feedback here. Love these forums! Here's my thoughts on each of the suggested actions, and I could really use some further discussion on them.

*Use a crossbow: This is the option I originally discussed with the player, but after reading all of your advice I think this would be a poor idea for her to try. The complication of figuring out 'cover' and 'being in melee' penalties would be cumbersome, especially considering 3 of the 6 players in my game are melee bashers, and it'd take several levels of feats to make this a viable option. Other ideas presented are much better than this so far.

*Flank+Aid Another, possibly with longspear: This sounds like pretty darn solid advice. Even with her low strength she has a reasonable shot of adding something to the mix that'd help someone else, and at least she would be rolling dice and feeling involved. Liking this idea quite a bit, even though I'm not sure if it'd be very functional at higher levels, but by then she should have enough spells I suppose.

*Summoning: I would definitely do this with any future evangelist clerics I make, but for this newer player I think managing a summons would be quite complicated for her. With six players at the table we're trying to keep each turn under 1 minute to finish and I think summoning would prevent her from managing that task, though it is very solid advice for an experienced player.

*Go ahead and delay: I'm concerned this would make her feel detached and useless as a party member. She seems to be the type of player that would like to do *something* on their turn, even if it's just something minor. Eventually, spells can take over this role, but for these early pre-mythic levels I'd like her to have at least something minor she can do.

*Multiclassing into Fighter: This seems like it'd be great for the first six levels, and then she'd really start regretting it later. With WotR being a game that has several of the books focusing on high level combat, I'm not sure I'd want to tell her to focus on the early levels as a priority. That loss of a caster level would really hurt later on.

*Debuff with Nets and Dazzling Display: This seems like an excellent idea, but I'm having trouble putting all the pieces together. How do you make an evangelist who can do this? How do you get net proficiency and dazzling display at the lower levels? Is the net worthwhile with a low strength and no proficiency?

*Cayden Cailin vs Desna: She has really enjoyed the butterfly/adventure focus on Desna, and it's more for roleplay reasons that she chose Desna. I can see how Cayden Cailin would be a great choice, but we actually have a battle cleric who already has the Heroism domain to add some of the benefits you've spoken of. I'm also hoping the 1st level luck domain power could be used to help fill up her "what do I do?" turns with as well.

My gratitude goes out to everyone who has posted so far. Having so many more choices to present her with makes me feel much better about her character's low level playability. Thank you!

I'll be running a Wrath of the Righteous game soon for my crew and one of our newer players has decided she likes being a supportive character. After some discussion, she chose an evangelist cleric of Desna with the luck domain.

My problem was, I couldn't figure out what to have her do after she finished buffing. Use a crossbow? Is intimidate a good idea? I could use some help coming up with ideas for the rounds where she would otherwise say "I guess I hold my action".

Thanks in advance :)

Scavion wrote:
A Druid is pretty much the best of all worlds. You're a powerful caster and from level 5 onwards, a beast of a martial.

And can summon if you're still lacking people. I second the druid choice.

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Alters your place in the initiative order. Without an initiative order to alter, it isn't an available action in my opinion.

I'm also on the "it would be a surprise round" side of this.

Claxon wrote:
randomroll wrote:
Obviously it depends on your party, but for my Wizard the spell I absolutely have to have every day is Mage's Disjunction. I'm there to solve the magical problems and it is a "fix all the magic issues in your way" button. The barbarian easily handles things once I get the magic problems resolved.

I just want to say something in regards to Mage's Disjunciton.

Be careful!

I don't know how your GM is or how your group plays but my group has a social contract about certain things. It is understood that anything players use can be used by the GM. That includes Mage's Disjunciton. Players stand to loose a whole lot more from a Mage's Disjunciton than NPCs do. So while it's a great spell, use with caution. As a GM I have outright told a player his use of Mage's Disjunciton would result in the NPC using Mage's Disjunciton on the players if he chose to continue with the aciton. He recanted and did something else instead. There are some cans of worms you should consider carefully before opening.

Really good point. Definitely adjust your choice according to your GM as well as your group. My GM is gunning for us pretty good, so it's actually the reverse in our group! We had to deal with getting disjunction launched at us first, and were very grateful when we had access to it so we could get past prismatic walls. All in good fun, our GM is great at making things enjoyably challenging, but disjunction is definitely a necessary tool to have available.

Obviously it depends on your party, but for my Wizard the spell I absolutely have to have every day is Mage's Disjunction. I'm there to solve the magical problems and it is a "fix all the magic issues in your way" button. The barbarian easily handles things once I get the magic problems resolved.

These are fantastic suggestions, thank you all so much.

@magnuskn: Emphasizing personality where accents can't cut it seems like a very solid way to go. The subtleties like "a hint of vulnerability" might be a bit tricky for me. Do you have examples of interactions you've had? Especially curious how you tackle six NPCs, that is daunting.

@DungeonMastering.com: I definitely like the idea of adding visuals to my conversation to delineate who is speaking. Great idea. Any idea what the easiest way to get photo-print-outs of the NPCs would be? I figure if I can just paste some print-outs onto cardboard, possibly on Popsicle sticks to hold up, this could really help on characters I'm having trouble with.

@Douglas Muir 406: Brilliant. The physical additions to communication have really clarified the characters when I did some tests with a friend. Horgus voice is based off of hedonismbot from Futurama, but even higher pitched. Works like a charm for annoyance/arrogance. I'd have never thought that focusing on physical posture would change how I conveyed characters so much, thank you for the insight.

About to start up this adventure path for a group in a few weeks after a false start a few months ago.

The challenge I ran into was trying to convey the distinctions between the three NPCs that the party was interacting with at the same time. I haven't really had acting lessons, and my accents are sketchy at best. I could use help with some ideas in how to convey which NPC is talking, and how to let subtle hints about their personalities be expressed.

Any ideas?

My question is, why hasn't a Genie worked to get protection from Planar Binding spells? As someone who can grant wishes, wouldn't it be very plausible that they have made allies with people to magically protect themselves from being planar bound?

Movin wrote:

Most of the questions you will want to address is how much of that 90HD of lair defense can be spent on Spies and agents. Frankly at the level you are playing knowledge about your foes is going to be far more important than any static defenses in your home.
in fact were I given the choice I would just use the whole 90HD for a global network of spies and informants any critter that could live in your Lair with you strong enough to be a threat at that level also runs the risk of being turned on you.
Now if you can just go nuts for an agent I would pick a Veiled master with some class levels.
if not a Human bard could easily serve.

As for dwellings you could do worse as a Silver than an Iceberg. mobile ice mountain, morphic to how much you want to carve out of it and large as you desire it to be.
Control water could serve as a decent deadman switch, 38 feet of water coming into the bottom of your iceberg's moon pool could sink the thing enough to frighten the hell out of any adventurers.

Archery is no problem for you, you have Control weather and Control winds as at will SLA's, hurricane force winds prevent any projectile based ranged attack roll up to and including siege weapons.
Lacking a horde to keep track of you can drop this spell effect and engulf everything in the area with it.
Fickle winds will be a much more targeted method to specifically murder ranged combatants. Likely that your hunters will have concocted an answer to it as well.
Control weather at will means you get to choose what sort of weather your lair happens to have around it at all times.
Also means whenever you go hunting you can bring a 2 mile wide fog bank with you.

All of this is brilliant. Great great ideas. The point about information being key to your survival is absolutely true, and the defensive concepts are solid ones.

Mirror Image and concealment spells are your best tools to defend against touch attacks, from what I've been able to figure out. Wish I had a better answer than that for you, but without magic items being available for purchase I think those are your best bet.

If you read the description of Diplomacy and Bluff it's entirely reasonable for the GM to mediate exactly the results of the skills.

Bluff: Note that some lies are so improbable that it is impossible to convince anyone that they are true (subject to GM discretion).

Diplomacy: Some requests automatically fail if the request goes against the creature’s values or its nature, subject to GM discretion.

Both skills have specific statements mentioning that it's GM discretion that controls the power level of the social skills.

I'm very much a "yes" type of GM, and I greatly enjoy when a character gets creative with diplomacy or bluff, but something like the 'dragon-is-a-cat' situation you described seems fairly unreasonable without the character adding more fluff to the story ("a powerful witch turned a cat into a dragon, and now it's following us around because we fed it fish one time").

Post got eaten! You're right about spellbane, I'll let my twinky caster friend know.

Good alignex outsiders and swarms may be good use of protective minions.

Have minions sunder bows or quivers if possible. Spell "fickle winds" to help with archers, as well as fog spells.

Spellbane (9th level) against Antimagic Field, Dimensional Anchor, Mage's Disjunction.

Now you're immune to those three, so the Antimagic Field you have on yourself wont get rid of buffs (such as fog cloud, heroism, haste, mage armor, shield, greater invisibility, mind blank, resist elements, greater magic fang, freedom of movement, mirror image, righteous might, etc.) and yet they still have to fight without buffs near you.

Contingency (Teleport or Planeshift), upon the condition that you think to yourself "I'd like to go to my happy place instead of be here". Since you are immune to dimensional anchor, there are very limited ways they can prevent your escape.

Protect from Scrying via Mind Blank every day.

Teleport Trap + Blood Money + Heal (or Lesser Restoration) means that you take some strength damage, which you quickly repair, and can still ward your lair against Teleportation even with no money for 19 days.

Your frightful presence dragon power is Charisma based, so increasing your charisma via items or spells increases it's DC.

Charm Monster + Polymorph Any Object can help you fill your lair with many dragons that want to stick around and be your friends.

Dazing Explosive Runes make for great stocking stuffers for curious adventurers. Feel free to line the walls of your lair with them.

Your touch armor class and dexterity stat are your biggest weaknesses. Try to find ways to shore up your defenses against them if at all possible.

A few more notes:

Quicken Spell-Like Ability (fog cloud) is a must have, as well as Quicken Spell with Obscuring Mist. With your Fog-Sight this should lend you a significant advantage against ranged attackers, and even melee will have issues.

Also, you have control weather at will. The weather around your lair should never be anything but incredibly foggy. Massively foggy, and perhaps even stormy weather to ruin ranged attacks.

Action economy will be the largest challenge for you, by far. If you have any means of knowing your enemies are coming, use them. Alarm, a 1st level spell, can be cast at crucial travelling locations if necessary.

Stone shape may be another option for you. Feel free to stone shape yourself into your lair, then teleport in and out as needed. I'm unsure of the terms of your combat, but never fight in a situation where your opposition has you surprised if at all possible.

High level magic is a crazy game to play and often whoever acts first can win. I wish you the best of luck and may your horde grow plentiful!

Polymorph Any Object.

Polymorph something in your lair to look exactly like you, so that the inevitable first round nova hits the mouse you had around looking like you since last morning.

1st mythic tier take mythic spellcasting. Be something with mythic time stop. Then... Win? Hours of frozen time is pretty insane.

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I would never play this character, but it was a fun thought experiment that a friend and I created once back in 3.5. I'm sure there are optimizations for pathfinder I didn't discover, but here she is.

Molly Happyfriend, Master Diplomancer

str 7, dex 7, con 14, int 18, wis 13, cha 16

Human Synthesist Summoner 1, Divination Wizard (Foresight) 3

Diplomacy +32

Skill points +4, Ease of Faith trait +1 (also in class, so +3), Charisma +3, 1 Evolution point for Skilled +8 (diplomacy), silver-tongued human racial option +2, Barnaby your trusty pig familiar +3, Circlet of Persuasion +3, skill focus (diplomacy) +3, persuasive +2.

As much invisibility memorized as possible. Wander until you find a place with unhappy people, turn invisible and sneak about talking to them as they try to find you. After interacting for 1 minute (of your 3 minutes of invisibility) you can shift their attitude up to 3 steps, possibly from hostile to friendly (dc 25+their cha to get them to not stab you on sight). Use foresight power of prescience to get two rolls on diplomacy if you feel that'd be helpful. Now your friends can be happy, just like you!

Take profession (tea party hostess) and lead your group of happy new friends to your favorite park for a tea party. If necessary, convince your friends to "give you aid that could result in punishment" providing help on your dangerous adventuring career.

Obviously, this is a silly build and any reasonable DM wont really let it work. Diplomacy has so many DM options available that it really wouldn't work like this, but I just enjoy the concept of a "power gaming" character that skips about invisibly convincing people to be happy and play nice.

Having read many of your posts Ravingdork I would not classify you as a selfish or inconsiderate individual at all. However, your statement did make me think of a passenger on an airplane who has very specific needs to enjoy the flight.

On takeoff, they need the window seat to see the town out the window. Then, once takeoff is done they want the middle seat with both armrests. Then drinks are about to be served so they want the isle seat with more leg room.

Its fine that they enjoy different positions at different points of the flight, but it does seem a bit inconsiderate of the other passengers who thought they could have the isle seat for this flight and may now need to change seats to accommodate this choosy passenger.

In my groups each player is filling a role (and a roleplay) and it would be very challenging to have someone completely shift from fighter (hammer role, from tactics article) to sorcerer (arm role). Of course, if your group doesn't mind accommodating this then its not a problem.

Much respect for TarkXT and other contributors who have provided unique builds. Excellent thread. Thank you for your creativity.

Two points that I'd like to bring up about rogue design that I'm hoping more experienced build experts can expand on for me.

One, the rogue in my RotRL game adds some damage, but most significantly he is dispelling magic with every hit. We're 14th level and he's removing buffs as well as my wizard does, but without messing up his action economy. In the higher level gameplay this has been an amazing asset he offers in addition to scouting. I'm shocked more rogue builds don't emphasize this utility, is there a reason it isn't brought up much?

Two, I feel like the rogue is the running back in our game. Yes, independently he has challenges, but when he's combined with my quarterback (wizard with control and buffs) he absolutely can hold his own and even thrive. In fact, the rogue seems to benefit more from my buffs than any other member of the party. While I agree that a rogue will be lackluster compared to a ranger much of the time, I would argue that a well supported and buffed rogue may surpass the ranger. I could use help designing a ranger and rogue to compare, but let's assume that each had haste, greater invisibility, and heroism (which are the buffs I get on the rogue asap every fight). Under these circumstances could the rogue shine?

Seeing as the nature of the game requires group coordination, maybe comparing a rogue with support and a ranger with support could reveal a situation where the rogue could shine?

Had similar issues with a monk in my homebrew game. Ruling that monk wisdom to ac and mage armor does not stack solved the issue for me without completely invalidating the monk. They were still a challenge to damage, but stayed within 4-6 ac of the rest of the party. May be a house rule you'd want to consider?

Huge fan of your tactics articles. Can't wait to watch all of your videos. Got to be the first viewer on youtube 1st video! Looking forward to watching the rest over Thanksgiving. Thanks for posting them!

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