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Entryhazard wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
You can postulate whatever you like. The question is: how is it determined where one lands in the afterlife? Has there ever actually been a belief system which describes the process of selecting who goes where as mechanical?
In Golarion and most 3.5/PF settings, when someone dies his soul goes to the plane with his same alignment. If he was a follower of some deity he gets to the deity's realm, that is usually a section of the outer plane of the same alignment of the deity.

So, shall I assume that you agree with me that this process is a setting-specific contrivance which has nothing to do with any real human belief system that exists or has ever existed?

Perhaps ironically, my main objection to "morality physics" is that it cheapens morality and moral decision-making within the game world - reduces them to a simple cost/benefit analysis of the sort one might use to select a new toaster. I'm sure the concept of absolute moral certitude appeals to some people, but it does not appeal to me.


Entryhazard wrote:
the secret fire wrote:


Show me the human belief system which ascribes the consequences of bad moral/spiritual acts to a mechanical process comparable to gravity. No one has ever actually believed what you are describing; it is a contrivance, nothing more.
Can I postulate that the afterlife exists? Because that's the case with most settings with magic

You can postulate whatever you like. The question is: how is it determined where one lands in the afterlife? Has there ever actually been a belief system which describes the process of selecting who goes where as mechanical?

As far as I can tell, "morality physics" is a sort of artificial paste slathered all over the cosmology of the system as a means of binding the pantheonic (which fits the setting) with the monotheistic (which fits the market).


Tacticslion wrote:

Most people view morality, instead, as: "hey, if you jump off a cliff, you're going to fall until you hit something hard, and die, likely with a bunch of broken bones and in pain; don't do that, because it's a bad idea" instead.

This ranges from where souls end up due to Divine Judgement to "natural" cycles of reincarnation.

Morality isn't coercive. At least, it's not trying to be. It's descriptive of what happens when you don't follow it. Just like the word "gravity" - and all that implies. It's just that morality is usually (though not always) associated with spiritual - i.e. "not demonstrably physical or visible" - results rather than normal demonstrable physical results (though sometimes these overlap, depending on the moral code and results of actions).

Show me the human belief system which ascribes the consequences of bad moral/spiritual acts to a mechanical process comparable to gravity. No one has ever actually believed what you are describing; it is a contrivance, nothing more.


Claxon wrote:
What I don't understand is why he wants to inject a subjective alignment system into the game (removing the objective system that exist) rather than doing away with it entirely.

I don't know where you get the idea that I replace it with anything. If you'd read a bit closer, you might have noticed this:

the secret fire wrote:
For those of us who prefer circles to squares, it is much easier to simply banish D&D alignment to the land of wind and dust than it is to bother reforming it.


Entryhazard wrote:
you're mixing up pantheistic with pantheonic

So it is. The point stands, nevertheless.


To circle back around on this topic, I would propose that there is an obvious tension (one might even say contradiction) between the pantheistic cosmology of D&D/PF and its monotheistic moral system. This circle is squared by way of "morality physics", and by the literal square of the alignment chart. For those of us who prefer circles to squares, it is much easier to simply banish D&D alignment to the land of wind and dust than it is to bother reforming it.

Tacticslion wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Subjective morality only makes any sense in a world without an outside scale - where humans determine our own morality.
the secret fire wrote:
"Scale" is an interesting choice of words. You could just as easily have said "power", with all that it implies.
... what? You're nitpicking word choice? What does "power" imply that "scale" does not, in this case?

My word choice was not mere nitpicking. All morality is coercive, or at least aspires to be. No moral system with the slightest shred of dignity presents itself as a mere suggestion. There is a scale, aye...and there is a sword. In fact, moral systems typically back up their judgments with explicit threats of the most terrifying sort of violence: curses, reincarnation as a lower life form, eternal damnation, and other such pleasantries.

Just so we're clear about what deities - good, bad and ugly - do with unbelievers.


Snowblind wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
If buffs required concentration, then martials could "counterspell"
And then the fighter would be very sad when the flying monster smacks the wizard with a damage spell. Martials need buffs, too. Unless you make potions really cheap, but casters can drink those too so it ends up playing out as just a subtle way of increasing wealth by level for everyone(which admittedly does decrease the disparity somewhat).

Very cheap potions helps martials a lot more than they help casters. Yes, everybody saves money, but martials gain a level of self-sufficiency that is vastly more useful than the bit of WBL the Wizard gains (let's be real...the Wizard wasn't spending his gold on potions to begin with). The ability to make economical use of potions of Disguise Self, Darkvision (or Alter Self), Enlarge Person, Invisibility, Fly...hell even Beast Shape I and Gaseous Form...this is huge for the martial. The real benefit for the caster is that he doesn't have to function as a buff-dispenser.

Anyway, take it a step further and allow Quick Draw to produce any small object as a free action (so basically Mythical Quick Draw) and throw in Potion Glutton (without the dumb prereq) and suddenly you've got martials buffing themselves as a swift action on the first round of combat. That's a pretty big deal.


DominusMegadeus wrote:
The thing for me at least is that I don't understand why you want to get rid of them.

To be honest, I don't really understand why anyone would want to keep them.

But I'll answer the question. First, I find that the alignments introduce a gamist element to roleplaying that I don't think is helpful. I don't want players thinking about a two-letter acronym on their character sheets when roleplaying; it can't possibly lead to more authentic behavior. Human morality exists on many more axes than the standard two-dimensional D&D schema, anyway.

Second, I find that the alignments act as a straightjacket on the gods, and that annoys me. Take, for example, the classic Greek pantheon. Are any of them Good? Zeus was a serial [trigger warning]. Hera was practically the embodiment of vengeance and envy. All of them save for I guess Hephaestus "played god" with the lives of humans (took an active role in wars, etc.) in a way that could not really be considered Good by Pathfinder standards, but they were also mostly not Evil, either.

So what's the point? Like the Greek gods, if I were to assign alignments to everybody in my pantheon, they would almost all end up being some flavor of neutral...or I could dispense with alignment entirely and just let them be whatever the hell they are.


Claxon wrote:
the secret fire wrote:

We should be probably careful not to veer into a discussion (or slandering) of religion here, lest the thread come off the rails.

With that in mind, I'll say one more thing: the claim that morality is objective is either an empirical claim, or it is not. If it is an empirical claim, it should be demonstrable, we should expect evidence to support it, and the burden of proof should be on the theorist to provide the evidence.

If it is not an empirical claim, then we have nothing much to discuss.

The thing is, in the real world morality is subjective.

In Pathfinder, is is not. It's an objective. It has absolute truth.

Now, exactly what that truth is would be up to the GM, but it should be constant and consistent.

Or we could just change all the spells with good/evil/law/chaos descriptors to work only against outsiders, and go on with our lives.

It's not actually that hard to remove the morality-as-physics bits of the system.


We should probably be careful not to veer into a discussion (or slandering) of religion here, lest the thread come off the rails.

With that in mind, I'll say one more thing: the claim that morality is objective is either an empirical claim, or it is not. If it is an empirical claim, it should be demonstrable, we should expect evidence to support it, and the burden of proof should be on the theorist to provide the evidence.

If it is not an empirical claim, then we have nothing much to discuss.


Zoolimar wrote:
the secret fire wrote:

Mundane martials is a "legacy system" going back to OD&D, and while the devs have shown a certain willingness to cheat their own system with unexplained "extraordinary" powers, I doubt they are prepared to simply blow it up and re-write the relationship between martials and magic.

Re-writing magic-martials relationship probably will also entail rewriting relationship between magic-spellcasters and all supernatural abilities.

Probably something along the lines or two main ways to utilize magic.

One through concentrating it mostly within body to achieve superhuman feats and different ways of circulating magic within to strengthen different abilities (ki, prana, etc.). While using it in this way there is little waste and character runs out of power only then he is physically exhausted.

Second way is gathering magic outside of body and shaping it in different forms to craft spells. It is much more versatile (there is is no body to put constraints on the form of spells) but wastes energy and leaves its practitioner vulnerable to physical assaults especially at close distance where without strengthening of the body he does not have time to react to threats and can't take damage that others throw his way.

Though such approach to magic will need certain re-imagining of spells and supernatural abilities especially in concerning AMF and similar things. Bordering on total rewrite.

Yeah...I think your take on how it might look, and the level of fundamental change it would require is pretty accurate. My own implementation of "martial superpowers" is similar to what you describe. Martial characters in my world tap into the ambient magic of the world/life (something not unlike Yoda's description of the force) as they advance, and pick up passive abilities which eventually transform them into demigods without ever really "working at it", or even being aware of what is happening. Under this paradigm everyone has magic inside of them, and the potential for great power, but it is only the rare few who actually realize this potential.

Spellcasters, on the other hand, put their magic to work by opening temporary rifts to other planes, and creating effects by shaping the energy which passes through them. It's easy enough, then, to define an AMF as something which shuts down spells without interfering with the less showy supernatural powers of the martials.


Snowblind wrote:
the secret fire wrote:

...

I would add that a fantasy universe with a "high god" who determines morality and adjudicates the questions posed in this thread would at least be a sensible solution to the problem. I believe the Hickman/Weiss cosmology of the Dragonlance setting includes such a being. Pathfinder/Golarion, however, does not, and there is a fundamental incoherence to the notion that the "evil" gods would subject themselves to the morality of the "good" ones without a very clear reason for doing so.
...

You seem to be assuming that Gods set what "Good" and "Evil" are. I am not 100% positive, but I am fairly sure that's not the case in Golarion. The gods are bound to objective morality just as much as mortals are. They don't get to say that whatever their particular portfolio covers is Good or Evil. It just is, no matter what they might want it to be. It's like a fundamental aspect of the universe. It's pretty much Physics. Every action corresponds to an equal and opposite reaction, and kicking puppies for fun is Evil. Just like that. If whatever a God encourages happens to qualify as Good according to the laws of the universe, then they are Good. The God tells their worshipers to bludgeon baby seals to death for giggles? Evil. Because in the fictional universe, that is Evil. Disagreeing is like disagreeing that 2+2=4. It's a fundamental axiom of the setting.

Sure...morality as physics. By the rules of Pathfinder, that seems to be the case.

It's a frankly bizarro idea and I don't see what it adds to the setting, but yeah...there it is.


Jiggy wrote:

Fun read! One issue, though:

Cuup wrote:

Arcane Magic

.... While Arcane Magic itself isn’t bound by rules of reality, those who wield it must observe strict limitations, like speaking words of power and following strict physical gestures, which unlock specific cracks in reality and alter it in a specific way. Deviating from these rules results in failure. For most casters of Arcane Magic, restrictive movement from wearing armor can be enough to cause a simple spell to fail.

This is a bit of a hole in your idea. Consider a magus1/wizard1. He has magic missile prepared in a magus slot and in a wizard slot. The spells are the same: the same incantation, the same gestures, the same Spellcraft DC to identify them being cast, they're both arcane, they're both cast by the same person, and so forth.

But one of them is interfered with by armor while the other is not.

Good luck with that. ;)

I would posit that even arcane magic must conform to some set of rules, however inscrutable.

I mean...the literal definition of the word arcane is: "mysterious; understood by few" not "arbitrary; understood by no one".


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Tacticslion wrote:

Later, before I fall asleep more. ;D

Good night!

I like you, lion, but I'm not going to make it through all that.

I would add that a fantasy universe with a "high god" who determines morality and adjudicates the questions posed in this thread would at least be a sensible solution to the problem. I believe the Hickman/Weiss cosmology of the Dragonlance setting includes such a being. Pathfinder/Golarion, however, does not, and there is a fundamental incoherence to the notion that the "evil" gods would subject themselves to the morality of the "good" ones without a very clear reason for doing so.

@Weirdo: that is a very interesting possibility. Honestly, in a world as diverse as Golarion, why wouldn't we expect radically differing moralities all competing for status as "the good"? Even if we accept that morality is in some way a physical thing (which, I admit, is strongly suggested by the existence of good/evil descriptor spells), why would it be the case that the specifics of "good" and "evil" would be immutable or conform in any way to our own beliefs?

Though again...a "high god" would resolve these questions.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
5) Give the martials cool non-magical abilities which are actually possible...like trap-building and hypnotism.

This right here is exactly why martials already don't get nice things. Because they need to be "actually possible". Whereas magic can do anything because it's magic, I don't have to explain t#!&.

You already put in a nigh-magical version of hypnosis in there, drop the "martials need to be realistic" charade because that's what's holding them back. Everything they get needs to be super limited to the point of worthlessness because it's not "realistic" that they can do anything but hit things.

I agree with you completely and do exactly what you suggest in my own games, but...taking this turn requires setting specific changes which are almost certainly never going to happen in Pathfinder.

In skimming through this thread to catch anything I may have missed I noticed this.

Exactly what setting specific changes do you feel are required? How does Golarion need to be any different in order to allow badass martials who go beyond the impossible?

It would require setting-specific changes because giving martials obvious "superpowers" (beyond the ones which can be derived from the BAB and HP numbers - ie. beating a rhino to death) would compel the devs to account for the process in some way, and I doubt they want to go there.

No offense kyrt, but I find your accounting of gods as non-magical (your example with Thor) rather glib, and I promise you it would get eviscerated if it were ever put forward as the official ontology of Pathfinder. Mundane martials is a "legacy system" going back to OD&D, and while the devs have shown a certain willingness to cheat their own system with unexplained "extraordinary" powers, I doubt they are prepared to simply blow it up and re-write the relationship between martials and magic. Whether or not I think they should do it (I do think they should) is not at issue here.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Subjective morality only makes any sense in a world without an outside scale - where humans determine our own morality.

"Scale" is an interesting choice of words. You could just as easily have said "power", with all that it implies.

Quote:
Ones on which the gods all seem to agree. (The evil deities make no bones about being evil.) Therefore subjective morality within such a world makes no sense.

This is the part that makes no sense, and is indicative of a cartoonish view of good and evil. Why would a god let anyone define morality for him?

Your argument is basically a shell game. Mortals must live under morality because there is an outside power telling them what's right and what's wrong...but how does this power bind the gods, specifically the evil ones? Do they just let themselves be bound by the opinions of their "good" counterparts? How pitiful would that be?

Or is morality an immutable law of physics? If we look hard enough, will we find "love thy neighbor" written in the delicate interactions of waves and particles? Doubtful. In a game where "evil" gods exist, the only way to re-establish your outside scale would be to invent another god who sits above the gods of the Pathfinder pantheon. It's turtles all the way down, my friend.


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I just want to bask in the afterglow of what has been a hot, sweaty, and very RAW debate. Mmmmm...so RAW.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
On the subject of speed demons, one of my favorite 3.5 characters was a Lolth-touched Mineral Warrior Dwarf Rokugan Ninja.

Heh...this almost sounds like a parody of TRICKED OUT 3.5 BUILD MAN!1!, with more titles than a member of the House of Lords. I like it.


LazarX wrote:
the secret fire wrote:


People can do those things. The fact that the Aztecs cut out someone's heart every day and played football with severed heads didn't make them evil in their own eyes. Alexander the Great didn't think "gosh, I'm so evil" when he ordered his army to raze Persepolis.

The entire universe doesn't turn on your moral compass, Walsh.

You need a couple of reminders.

Ha! As if I had forgotten.

Today's good is always tomorrow's evil, and we will be judged by future generations just as we sit in judgment of the past. But you boys are right about Pathfinder's nine flavors of morality.

I need to find a kitten.


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HWalsh wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
Talk of "objective morality" makes me want to kick a puppy.
Then get to kicking because Pathfinder doesn't use Subjective Morality ever.

Oh, don't worry; I already have. Got two of them, actually.

Quote:
A person, under subjective morality, could slaughter all small children that he comes across and justify that as good if they believe that the world is a horrible place and the children's existence in it is a cruel punishment forced on them. He could argue that he was healing them, in a way, and he could justify this which, under subjective morality, he would be correct he could still be Good under his own perceptions.

People can do those things. The fact that the Aztecs cut out someone's heart every day and played football with severed heads didn't make them evil in their own eyes. Alexander the Great didn't think "gosh, I'm so evil" when he ordered his army to raze Persepolis.

The entire universe doesn't turn on your moral compass, Walsh.


Talk of "objective morality" makes me want to kick a puppy.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
I've never considered high level characters to still be 'human.'

Neither do I. The important question here is not the "if" of their (in)humanity, but the "why". If that "why" is defined as they-just-are-shut-up, then I would submit that superficial is about the nicest word one might use to describe it.

@Dragoon: I don't know where you get the idea that I am offended. My disdain for certain tropes is primarily an aesthetic objection, not a moral crusade.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
To take a simple example from a novel I'm currently reading, Shen Yin Wang Zuo- wherein there are ten 'Steps' of power each of which representing an increase of roughly two D&D levels, our protagonist Knight aka Paladin of the 5th Step [aka level 9, he's only just broken into the 5th step so he wouldn't be level 10] during a tournament leaps 30 meters in the air on his physical prowess alone.

It is a misunderstanding of eastern religion/culture to assert that the tales of eastern heroes involve "non magical ascension". Eastern mythology is almost always coming from an animist base, in which all people, and indeed all things, are inherently infused with magic, spirits, energy. The world is not held to be less magical than that of western myth, but more so. Martial ascension in this context is an awakening and perfection of latent magical abilities which had always been present.

"He's just that good" is a late-20th century fabrication.

------------

edit: what superhuman feats do Hector and Ajax actually accomplish? Also, the document you reference is in error about the heritage of Achilles. Peleus was not a mortal. Diomedes wore armor crafted by Hephaestus, and received large amounts of divine intervention from Athena, who also aided Odysseus on many occasions. Greek myth is not a source for non-magical martial superpowers.


Malwing wrote:
Do legends matter in this conversation?

Of course they do. Without some sort of underlying explanation as to what is going on and why, you may as well be playing a board game. Of course, you can deviate from existing mythology all you like, but it's an impoverished game world in which characters just do things because the rules say they can without any sort of rhyme or reason to it. I cite legend and myth because these stories always offer some sort of accounting for superhuman abilities. Arthur had a magical supersword. Perseus was the son of Zeus. Gilgamesh was a demigod. Odysseus had Athena on his side. Sigfried had his father's magic sword, and gave himself magical powers by eating a dragon's heart (f!$#ing badass).

What's important here is that the mechanics don't just stand alone as an arbitrary system - all sound and fury, signifying nothing.


CommandoDude wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
Magic Denialist Stuff

It feels a bit odd to be on the opposite side of this discussion when we have agreed on so much elsewhere Secret Fire, but everybody has different views and perspectives so really this was bound to happen sooner or later.

The first question I must ask you, is What is Leveling to you?

We don't actually disagree, kyrt. Like you, I see leveling in D&D/PF as a slow process of evolution into a "higher form". For magic users, this manifests as greater skill and power in the use of magic, and for martials, it manifests as greater "martial badassery".

Sure thing...but this "badassery" is not normal. You mention Thor as a model for a high level martial, and while I might not go that far (I'm happy with Achilles), I would point out that Thor is a god, full stop, and gods are magical. One way or another, you can't get around the fact that high level martials are either magical creatures or they are, as you said, dust.

Once we admit that they are explicitly magical creatures then giving them explicitly magical abilities (and I don't mean throwing hadoukens around) becomes a lot easier to justify, and the hideous zombie of martial realism can finally be put down.

With no magic at all, a Monk has so perfected their body that they can literally never get sick - even to the point of figuratively punching magical diseases in the face, gain spell resistance through sheer willpower, speak any tongue - again without a shred of magic, and STOP AGING.

Humans can do impossible extraordinary things with the right mental and physical state, they don't need magic or even supernatural abilities. Irori literally ascended to godhood through nothing except pure physical and mental harmony/perfection. Monks get a capstone that turns their subtype into outsider but fighters do not.

Why are you quoting Pathfinder rules and "Golarion mythology" to me? This is circular reasoning (the rules justify themselves?!), and not in any way germane to the conversation.

Quote:
High level martials are not explicitly magical, nor do they need to be. Human history is littered with legends who were not magical but accomplished super human feats.

Who are these legends of myth who accomplished superhuman feats without magic, magical items, a magical lineage, or divine intervention?


Penetrating Shot is pretty much a wtf? non-magical ability. A halfway normal person can't just throw a knife through someone, nevermind inflicting full damage on the next guy, and the next guy, etc. Making thrown weapons into something like an AoE Line attack is an interesting idea, but not at BAB +6.

The other two feats seem to be limited in terms of usefulness, and I couldn't see Giants' Hurling coming in handy often enough to actually want to take it.

Making thrown weapons relevant is tricky. They either need to be a sort of standard opening attack, as they were in real life (think Roman Legion with the pilum), or they need to actually do enough damage and be somehow useful enough to justify not just whipping out a bow or closing with a sword and thwacking your enemies from up close.

The first function (standard opening attack) can be solved by giving out Quick Draw as a free feat for martials. This way, having a thrown weapon on hand is quite useful. You hit a surprise round (or a non-surprise round in which you close to just outside of the enemy's movement range), let fly with your whatever, and then draw your melee weapon as a free action. It achieves a sort of historical feel for thrown weapons without making them all that useful except as an opener. This is my preferred method.


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I'm more of a plank wizard, myself, so I can't help you, brother.


Rynjin wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
5) Give the martials cool non-magical abilities which are actually possible...like trap-building and hypnotism.

This right here is exactly why martials already don't get nice things. Because they need to be "actually possible". Whereas magic can do anything because it's magic, I don't have to explain t#!&.

You already put in a nigh-magical version of hypnosis in there, drop the "martials need to be realistic" charade because that's what's holding them back. Everything they get needs to be super limited to the point of worthlessness because it's not "realistic" that they can do anything but hit things.

I agree with you completely and do exactly what you suggest in my own games, but...taking this turn requires setting specific changes which are almost certainly never going to happen in Pathfinder.


thejeff wrote:
Envall wrote:

You know what good thing Numenera did?

They made the power growth narrative very easy AND built-in into the system. Glaives get one "badass normal" background which is basically that you are so awesomely trained at fantasy dojo that you can do the feats that are supernatural. The other two backgrounds make inhumanity lot more "sensible". You are either a mutant with untapped hidden potential in your genes or you are a biomechanical cyborg.

I hate "It just works!" argument. No, it never just "works". Immersion cannot take that kind of handwaving.

Except it always has. Fantasy, myth and legend have always relied on it.

Sort of. In pre-Gygaxian myth and literature, the hand-waving always consisted of "because magic"...in most cases divine magic, meaning something tied into the basic creative power of the world/universe. And that sort of hand-waving is ok, but if we remove magic from the equation, we have to replace it with some other explanation, not simply a mechanical kludge.


Alzrius wrote:

This gets pretty close to what I think is the heart of the matter. The problem with asking "why can't martials have nice things" is that it's usually predicated on the premise that "said nice things cannot be magical, otherwise you're undercutting the nature of those classes as being as 'martials' to begin with."

To be fair, Pathfinder does have a tag for non-magical abilities that are still clearly not "natural" abilities, insofar as "natural" is taken to mean "could function in the real world," which is the Extraordinary keyword.

The problem there is that, from an in-game standpoint, Extraordinary abilities are only defined by what they are not; they're not magical, but they're not completely natural either. The only definition for what they are is purely in terms of game mechanics.

You have articulated the problem very nicely.

Yes, Ex abilities are a kludge, and a pernicious one, at that. They undermine (or at least confuse) the deeper logic of the game world in order to justify handing a few select martial classes a few thematic powers without having to come up with an explanation for said powers which is in any way consistent with the stated goal of "martial realism". The existence of Ex powers is an arbitrary nonsense rule tacked onto the system more or less (as far as I can tell) for the specific purpose of not meaningfully engaging with the question of how martials and magic actually interact. As such, they help keep open the gap between the classes.


thejeff wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I'm perfectly happy with that, but I don't feel the need to justify it in game by writing divine origins into characters backgrounds when they reach high level or deciding that all abilities past a certain arbitrary vague point are "magic" and thus follow a specific set of game rules.

If martials become "magic" beyond a certain point they're magic in the same way a lot of monsters are - innately and way that can't be taken away. It may be magic that lets giants ignore the square-cube law or giant insects function, but neither collapses in an anti-magic field.

It's certainly not necessary to define high BAB or hit points or any of the "counting stuff" as supernatural in a way that would be suppressed by an AMF.

But yes, I do think it's important to have an underlying system in place that explains what is actually going on, and "just accept it" is not such a system. Not even attempting to come to terms with an explanation for superhuman martial abilities strikes me as lacking somewhat in imagination and/or appreciation for the genre (in which supernatural martials are consistently fueled by magic, and "being high level" is not a thing), but everyone's taste is different, I suppose.

The simple fact of the matter is that D&D/Pathfinder becomes incoherent and unbalanced at high levels, in large part because there is quite a bit of confusion about what sort of game is actually being played. We know what high level magic users are: they are nascent gods. But what are high level martials? Answering that question can bring a lot of clarity to your game.

I think we're basically on the same page here. I was mostly running off your earlier comment about "anything beyond the reasonable bounds of human ability is automatically a Su power." I don't like that because it has mechanical consequences and the reasonable bounds of human ability are poorly defined and very low by PF standards.

Yeah, I mostly meant that I think stuff like Woodland Stride should be defined as a supernatural ability because it...is clearly supernatural.

Anyway, my basic take on Pathfinder martials is that the only way for them to have a meaningful place in the ecology of the game (ie. to be halfway fun to play) is for them to slowly develop sort of "raw" magical abilities as they level up - stuff like ridiculous luck (bending reality to their will...or re-rolls, in a mechanical sense), inhuman healing, blindsense, magic resistance, and so on. And yes, I do take some of these abilities away in an AMF, but not so many that the martials aren't still the undisputed kings of the anti-magic field.


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kyrt-ryder wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
Magic Denialist Stuff

It feels a bit odd to be on the opposite side of this discussion when we have agreed on so much elsewhere Secret Fire, but everybody has different views and perspectives so really this was bound to happen sooner or later.

The first question I must ask you, is What is Leveling to you?

We don't actually disagree, kyrt. Like you, I see leveling in D&D/PF as a slow process of evolution into a "higher form". For magic users, this manifests as greater skill and power in the use of magic, and for martials, it manifests as greater "martial badassery".

Sure thing...but this "badassery" is not normal. You mention Thor as a model for a high level martial, and while I might not go that far (I'm happy with Achilles), I would point out that Thor is a god, full stop, and gods are magical. One way or another, you can't get around the fact that high level martials are either magical creatures or they are, as you said, dust.

Once we admit that they are explicitly magical creatures then giving them explicitly magical abilities (and I don't mean throwing hadoukens around) becomes a lot easier to justify, and the hideous zombie of martial realism can finally be put down.


thejeff wrote:

I'm perfectly happy with that, but I don't feel the need to justify it in game by writing divine origins into characters backgrounds when they reach high level or deciding that all abilities past a certain arbitrary vague point are "magic" and thus follow a specific set of game rules.

If martials become "magic" beyond a certain point they're magic in the same way a lot of monsters are - innately and way that can't be taken away. It may be magic that lets giants ignore the square-cube law or giant insects function, but neither collapses in an anti-magic field.

It's certainly not necessary to define high BAB or hit points or any of the "counting stuff" as supernatural in a way that would be suppressed by an AMF.

But yes, I do think it's important to have an underlying system in place that explains what is actually going on, and "just accept it" is not such a system. Not even attempting to come to terms with an explanation for superhuman martial abilities strikes me as lacking somewhat in imagination and/or appreciation for the genre (in which supernatural martials are consistently fueled by magic, and "being high level" is not a thing), but everyone's taste is different, I suppose.

The simple fact of the matter is that D&D/Pathfinder becomes incoherent and unbalanced at high levels, in large part because there is quite a bit of confusion about what sort of game is actually being played. We know what high level magic users are: they are nascent gods. But what are high level martials? Answering that question can bring a lot of clarity to your game.


thejeff wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
bookrat wrote:
Cheburn wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
Usane Bolt can run 200ft per round. Making his move action either 50ft or 40ft. Being 6 times faster than him is still well within the realm of possible.

It's within the realm of "possible" for your fighter to run at around the speed an arrow comes off of a longbow (200 ft/s)? Barring a major rewrite of the human body, it's not.

I don't particularly care if you want to have a game where your players constantly do the impossible without the aid of magic. But it's certainly a different game from classic D&D (of all stripes, including Pathfinder).

So how does a 20th level fighter manage to survive a fall from orbit and survive? How does that fighter manage to punch a rhino to death and live to tell about it? And many more things a fighter can do - all without the aid of magic - that's all possible within the realm of Pathfinder, but impossible in our world.

Without the aid of spells perhaps, but not without the aid of the credulous, it seems.

Actually, I'd like to hear you answer your own question. How does he do it "without magic"? How does the fighter, without magic, not burn up on re-entry and flutter down to his final rest as a delicate rain of ashes? I'd really like to know.

Because he's that badass.

Because that's the way the world works.

I don't really care. Saying it must be magic and that therefore at some point a martial's hps and BAB and various other baseline abilities become SU just makes things uglier.
Now I have to decide just how much more screwed martials are in a AMF. What's the top line hp a human can have without magic? How well can they hit and how much damage can they do? At what point are you too tough to be non-magical?

Just accept it.

So your answer is "Just accept it; I don't care; because reasons"? Ok.

I personally think that "just accepting" the fact that Pathfinder martials above the E6 level are obviously magical beings makes it a hell of a lot easier to justify giving them actual abilities. I'm not even talking about Wuxia stuff. I'm talking about stuff like regeneration, heightened senses, magical resistance (not SR, though that is also possible, but more along the lines of the old 3.5 Mettle ability), etc.

Pathfinder martials beyond a certain point are basically demigods/Greek heroes/etc. If we simply accept this fact and treat them as such, it opens up a lot of possibilities.


thejeff wrote:
Cheburn wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
Usane Bolt can run 200ft per round. Making his move action either 50ft or 40ft. Being 6 times faster than him is still well within the realm of possible.

It's within the realm of "possible" for your fighter to run at around the speed an arrow comes off of a longbow (200 ft/s)? Barring a major rewrite of the human body, it's not.

I don't particularly care if you want to have a game where your players constantly do the impossible without the aid of magic. But it's certainly a different game from classic D&D (of all stripes, including Pathfinder).

But it is Pathfinder. And D&D.

See aforementioned punching out rhinos.

Or for a more mechanical example, the world record long jump is just under 30'. That's a DC of 30, reachable at low levels with a roll of 20 - which you pretty much have to assume for world records.
Trivial for a 20th level character, even stripped of any magical assistance, especially with a few traits and feats. Not too difficult to double it, I'd suspect.

You can't travel more than your move with a jump, so you'd have to somehow double your move first without the aid of magic.


jonn254 wrote:
I can't stand the Bleeding effect,it's a pet hate of everyone I play with as it make little sense how it works when everyone hitting each other with swords.

You mean the fact that bleeding effects don't stack? That's because MARTIAL REALISM! in Pathfinder only exists to take things away from martials.

But seriously...if you hate it so much, just get rid of it. Allow bleeding effects to stack if you want to. It doesn't make that much difference. Or is your beef that people aren't constantly spurting blood everywhere? If that's what you want, try Rolemaster. It's hours of gore for the whole family.


bookrat wrote:
Cheburn wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
Usane Bolt can run 200ft per round. Making his move action either 50ft or 40ft. Being 6 times faster than him is still well within the realm of possible.

It's within the realm of "possible" for your fighter to run at around the speed an arrow comes off of a longbow (200 ft/s)? Barring a major rewrite of the human body, it's not.

I don't particularly care if you want to have a game where your players constantly do the impossible without the aid of magic. But it's certainly a different game from classic D&D (of all stripes, including Pathfinder).

So how does a 20th level fighter manage to survive a fall from orbit and survive? How does that fighter manage to punch a rhino to death and live to tell about it? And many more things a fighter can do - all without the aid of magic - that's all possible within the realm of Pathfinder, but impossible in our world.

Without the aid of spells perhaps, but not without the aid of the credulous, it seems.

Actually, I'd like to hear you answer your own question. How does he do it "without magic"? How does the fighter, without magic, not burn up on re-entry and flutter down to his final rest as a delicate rain of ashes? I'd really like to know.


Alzrius wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
The "magic denialists" have some explaining to do about the abilities of the high level fighter as-is.

I don't disagree with you, but the issue for those that would take exception to this explanation - as least as I understand their objections - is that "magic" (as a term) has baggage attached to it that they don't want.

Even if we decouple "magic" from "spellcasting," there's still extremely specific terms and conditions under which "magic" operates. After all "magic" abilities of any stripe go away in an antimagic field, and yet these high-level fighters can still clobber a rhino to death with their bare hands inside one.

For that matter, barbarians can still get so mad that it makes them able to see in the dark (e.g. night vision rage power) in an antimagic field, along with all of the other obviously non-natural "Ex" abilities.

The idea that high-level characters are tapping into some sort of non-natural power on a very basic level that lets them surpass what ordinary people can do is an idea that I agree with, but tagging it as "magic" seems to rub a lot of people the wrong way simply because of what Pathfinder implies "magic" is...and is completely silent with regards to other powers are.

You are quite right. Many, many Ex abilities in Pathfinder have no possible explanation other than being magical. It sort of feels like the developers either can't decide what falls into "martial realism" and what doesn't due to a tenuous connection to reality, or they intentionally try to cheat their own system by adding "extraordinary" powers without the slightest shred of justification or explanation of how they are supposed to function non-magically. The Rangers' Woodland Stride is another good example. This is not something that the human body can just do. It's a frikkin magical ability.

Not that it matters much to me. I decided long ago that anything beyond the reasonable bounds of human ability is automatically a Su power, and once that seal was broken, it made balancing the martial classes a lot easier.


thejeff wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:

You can easily get near superhuman or even superhuman without genuinely giving spell-like abilities.

The only time that really comes up is with people who are convinced that anything a spell can do is automatically spell-like ability in a game where spells do everything.

A Fighter who can move 300 feet per move action and leap that high and can achieve greater feats within limitations based on Stamina and can cleave through armies as he moves isn't Spell-Like. He's badass.

Just because a Magus can emulate this badassery through magic doesn't make the fighter's badassery magic.

I would point out that what you are describing is obviously superhuman. Unless you want to invent some other fluff (eg. he's a mutant android alien!) to make these abilities explicitly non-magical, it's a good bet that the source of this power is, in fact, magical. Achilles wasn't casting spells, but you're damned right that his supernatural prowess was magical in nature.

This does not, however, make the abilities, themselves, "spell-like abilities". I personally have no problem handing out passive or at-will magical abilities to my martials with the justification that "you are slowly becoming a god". But it's still magic because magic is the default font of all supernatural power in most fantasy settings, mine included.

High level characters in the current game are clearly superhuman. Maybe less obviously, since it's a just a matter of the numbers slowly getting bigger. Beating rhinos to death with your bare hands is not something normal people can do, no matter how skilled they get.

Exactly.

The "magic denialists" have some explaining to do about the abilities of the high level fighter as-is. If not magic, from what source does his incredible potency spring? "General badassery" is, outside of perhaps Stallone films, not much of an explanation.

And if we accept that the mid-to-high level fighter is already drawing his superhuman power from a magical source, what then is the problem with granting him other magical powers, like regeneration, uncanny luck, impossibly keen senses, etc.?


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Yes, of course they do. The thing is...the game already has many of the tools necessary to make martials much more interesting. They just need to be consolidated and codified in a sensible way, and the onerous restrictions on their use (whether it's feat trees or being hidden away in archetypes) need to be removed. A few random ideas:

1) Make potions a lot cheaper. This is good for martials because it gives them cheap, "non spell" access to many of the buffs they need to get by at mid-high levels (up to and including flight), but it is also good for casters (especially Sorcerers and healers) because it frees up their resources for other things.

2) Reform the poison system. This guy has some great suggestions. A poison system that is actually useful could offer martials who were willing to use them a whole range of interesting possibilities.

3) Make skills useful again. Things like the Distraction ability of the Burglar archetype and Darkstalker from 3.5 make having the Stealth skill actually good. Unchain them! Make martials (...cough...Rogue...cough...) the masters of the best skill in the game, Perception. Make Heal more useful. And so on...

3.5) I would argue that the social skills are already quite useful, and that many people grossly overrate the power of "social magic", or rather, underrate its potential drawbacks, likely because they are accustomed to play styles in which social interactions are not very important to begin with. Casting Charm Person is already far less useful and more risky than getting someone to like you (or convincing them of something) through the use of skills.

4) Reform the skill points system to not grant bonus points only based off of Int.

5) Give the martials cool non-magical abilities which are actually possible...like trap-building and hypnotism. To wit: a couple of abilities from my game:

Spoiler:
Rogue Advanced Talents:...

- Hypnotist: you may hypnotize others. Against willing subjects, the hypnosis automatically succeeds. Against unwilling subjects (who must be restrained in some way - though this can work through the sound of your voice, so it doesn't matter if their eyes are open or not), the subject is hypnotized if it fails a Will save with a DC equal to 10 + your Bluff skill bonus. If the subject makes the save, it may make an opposed Bluff vs. Sense Motive check against you to pretend to be hypnotized. If it fails the save, you can elect to do one of two things to a hypnotized subject. You can either implant a suggestion which functions like the spell with your Rogue level as the caster level, or you can compel the target to truthfully answer a number of questions (to the extent of its knowledge) equal to the amount by which the subject failed its Will save. Only one suggestion may be planted at a time. Once a subject succeeds at the Will save vs. hypnosis, it may not be attempted again for 24 hours. The hypnotized subject does not remember anything that happened while under hypnosis. It takes one minute to hypnotize a subject, plus whatever time is necessary to ask questions or issue instructions.

Feats:...

- Trapsmith: learn to make mundane traps (eg. pit traps, snare traps, tripwires, etc.). Any reasonably feasible trap can be made with the correct materials at hand (generally a Survival check of DC [10 + 1/1 ft. radius] will provide the materials in wild areas - you can take 10 on this check). Trap types can be combined (eg. pit trap + wounding trap) provided a realistic explanation as to their functioning is given. Mundane physical traps using alchemical materials or magical substances (eg. Sovereign Glue, Holy Water, delayed-fuse Alchemist's bomb, etc.) can also be set up given the proper materials.
- prereqs: Fighter or Rogue 5th; Survival 5 ranks
- the number of traps which can be made in a day is limited only by time and materials.
- there is no DC penalty for extraordinary traps.
- DCs for Perception, Disable Device, opposed Escape Artist checks, and Reflex saves to avoid are all 10 + 1/2 CL + WIS modifier.
- traps are base 5' radius and take 1 minute to construct (x10 for pit traps). Larger traps may be constructed by squaring the number of minutes with the diameter, in 5' increments (eg. 5' diameter takes 1 minute, 10' diameter takes 4 minutes, 15' diameter takes 9 minutes, 20' diameter takes 16 minutes, etc.)
- basic effects possible:
- wounding: 1d6/level (max 10d6)
- entangle
- grapple (snare)
- create difficult terrain
- knock prone
- other effects may be possible, depending on materials available. Use your imagination.
- see: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/ranger/archetypes/paizo---rang er-archetypes/trapper/ranger-traps#TOC-Snare-Trap-Ex-or-Su-


Rhedyn wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
Achilles the actual person did make armies flee from him.
wut?

The account of the war was based on oral stories. Achilles is based off an actual warrior or the acts of several warriors.

Just because the telephone game can rapidly change a story does not mean the story started out as fiction.

Yeah, the bible is based on real events, too. Your credulity is duly noted.


Anzyr wrote:
the secret fire wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:

You can easily get near superhuman or even superhuman without genuinely giving spell-like abilities.

The only time that really comes up is with people who are convinced that anything a spell can do is automatically spell-like ability in a game where spells do everything.

A Fighter who can move 300 feet per move action and leap that high and can achieve greater feats within limitations based on Stamina and can cleave through armies as he moves isn't Spell-Like. He's badass.

Just because a Magus can emulate this badassery through magic doesn't make the fighter's badassery magic.

I would point out that what you are describing is obviously superhuman. Unless you want to invent some other fluff (eg. he's a mutant android alien!) to make these abilities explicitly non-magical, it's a good bet that the source of this power is, in fact, magical. Achilles wasn't casting spells, but you're damned right that his supernatural prowess was magical in nature.

This does not, however, make the abilities, themselves, "spell-like abilities". I personally have no problem handing out passive or at-will magical abilities to my martials with the justification that "you are slowly becoming a god". But it's still magic because magic is the default font of all supernatural power in most fantasy settings, mine included.

The explanation is that the person doing it is high level. That's all the explanation you need. High leveled people *are* superhuman compared to people who live in our world which only goes up to level 6 at absolute best and I'm not convinced anyone in history has gone that high. Therefore, high level people can naturally do things that seem superhuman to us, but that are not in fact superhuman for a level 11 person. It's just ordinary human ability for those people.

I would note that "being high level" is never given as an explanation for superhuman abilities in myth and literature. Achilles was the son of a nereid mother and a father who was half oread, making him barely human.

"Duh...he's high level" strikes me as a remarkably banal explanation for superhuman abilities, but if it's sufficient for your purposes, then carry on.


Rhedyn wrote:
Achilles the actual person did make armies flee from him.

wut?


kyrt-ryder wrote:

You can easily get near superhuman or even superhuman without genuinely giving spell-like abilities.

The only time that really comes up is with people who are convinced that anything a spell can do is automatically spell-like ability in a game where spells do everything.

A Fighter who can move 300 feet per move action and leap that high and can achieve greater feats within limitations based on Stamina and can cleave through armies as he moves isn't Spell-Like. He's badass.

Just because a Magus can emulate this badassery through magic doesn't make the fighter's badassery magic.

I would point out that what you are describing is obviously superhuman. Unless you want to invent some other fluff (eg. he's a mutant android alien!) to make these abilities explicitly non-magical, it's a good bet that the source of this power is, in fact, magical. Achilles wasn't casting spells, but you're damned right that his supernatural prowess was magical in nature.

This does not, however, make the abilities, themselves, "spell-like abilities". I personally have no problem handing out passive or at-will magical abilities to my martials with the justification that "you are slowly becoming a god". But it's still magic because magic is the default font of all supernatural power in most fantasy settings, mine included.


DM_Blake wrote:
As such, I prefer to read the rules that we do have, make sense of them, maybe apply fluff about glowing runes or sparkling energy or whatever (simply to support the actual rules, not to change them), and play with the magic system and the tiers being only as broken as it is rather than more broken.

Corniness should not be a balancing mechanic. If I wanted sparkly magic, I'd watch Twilight.


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Tacticslion wrote:
Legio_MCMLXXXVII wrote:
So, what visible effect is created by Charm Person? Or Sleep?
Swirly eyes.

Hypnotoad style, obviously.


Cheburn wrote:
Do you often like to talk about how powerful Wizard is and how amazing Charm Person and Silent Image are, and how casters can completely rewrite narratives with these low level spells?

No, because Charm Person has quite clear rules regarding its use, and they are not "lol, I win social" by any means. High level NPCs are going to have a reasonable chance to make their Will saves (or have someone who can use detect magic spot what is going on), and will almost certainly be murderously angry if they find out they're being charmed. Charm Person is not some sort of silver bullet spell.

Silent Image is still silent, and trying to falsify things with which the observer is reasonably familiar is going to get you into problems. Stealthy use of Silent Image can be quite useful, but there are meaningful limits to its utility.

I don't see either of these spells when stealthed as unbalancing on the same level as many other spells, including even staple stuff like Overland Flight.

Quote:
Do people really think that being able to perceive a [stilled/silent] spell is being cast would neuter Enchantment and Illusion schools?

All illusions, not just Silent Image, are certainly of less utility if you have to be completely hidden in order to cast them convincingly.

The Charm spells are of very questionable value if purple runes swirl about every time you try to cast them. It's not going to affect the cost/benefit of a Confusion spell, but social power is a staple of Enchantment, which is already badly handicapped by being useless in combat against many kinds of monsters. Inhibiting the social power of the school does pretty much render it useless except for a few isolated spells like Confusion, yeah.


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Ascalaphus wrote:
If it's ruled spells themselves are visible (glowing runes) that means invisible spellcasters will give their position away if they cast. That has huge consequences.

A middle path is also possible. Maybe spells with no "obvious" physical effects (like, say, Charm Person) nevertheless create some sort of a distortion - a brief warping of space or whatnot between caster and target - which is difficult to perceive, but can be noticed by the very attentive. This would be consistent with the idea that removing components imposes penalties on Spellcraft checks (which seems to be Paizo's position) without simply rendering componentless spells with no physical manifestations de facto invisible. I would think that spells without components under this paradigm would first require an opposed Perception check to notice, rather than being automatically noticed and simply requiring a Spellcraft check to identify.

I think this would be an acceptable solution. If each component removed imposes a -5 penalty (I believe this was Jason's original mechanical suggestion) to the Perception roll, then a Sorcerer casting a Stilled, Silent spell could still have a reasonable expectation of stealth without it being simply a "lol you can't see it" scenario.

Whatever the case, this is an area of the game that clearly needs to be fleshed out more, not only as a matter of mechanics, but in terms of what the developers actual intent is regarding the baseline manifestation of magic in the world. I'm hoping this doesn't mean loltastic swirling cartoon runes, but if it does, I will simply ignore the ruling at my table and proceed as I see fit.


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HWalsh wrote:
Diffan wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:

'Easy' being two feats, skill investment, and whatever Hurtful is.

As opposed to just having that be something all martial character do.

That's pretty much the crux of the situation, a Fighter/Martial character needs to delve into system mastery to do something that, frankly, should be fine with the system already. Has anyone tried just eliminating Full-Attack action altogether? Seems like an easy thing to do and one of the "fixes" I did for our E6 games. Works great IMO.

This is actually crippling to the game balance.

You are aware that any martial who gets a full attack off with any amount of decent optimization at ant level above 10 will, I don't mean might, but will, obliterate any opponent of even relative CR?

Nyet. Non. No.

It is not, at all, crippling to game balance. I know because I've been allowing characters (to include monsters) to mix attack and move actions however they choose for years (ie. move, attack, move, attack, move...and so on, up to their full movement and full iterative attacks).

As a DM, you do need to adjust your CRs upwards a bit to account for the greater effectiveness of the martial classes, but it cripples nothing, and it adds tactical options that weren't there before. When adjusting the CR upwards, it's important not to simply pick bigger boss monsters with even MOAR AWESOME SLAs!, but rather to add more depth to encounters, with additional lieutenants (not mooks, but not bosses), environmental hazards, maybe adding mobility to the mooks, etc.

It does take some experimentation and experience as a DM to "unchain" martials in this way, but the game is still perfectly playable (and, in fact, more fun) once one gets the balance worked out.


DM_Blake wrote:
...

See folks, no bludgeoning: just multiple, massive wall of text posts explaining why every other interpretation is false.

It can't be bludgeoning because:

1) bludgeoning is defined as "the act of beating someone repeatedly with a heavy object".

2) posts on an internet forum have no physical weight.

3) it would be impossible to "beat" someone with a post even if it had weight (technically, the medium used to store a post has weight, so it could be thought of as having some mass) because we have no way of reaching one another to deliver a blow.

Therefore calling it bludgeoning is a misinterpretation of the word. Am I doing it right?

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