I just wanted to make a special shout out to Mike Bramnik for his extraordinary GMing of Starfinder Adventures at GenCon.
I had recommended my oldest daughter play Star, Sugar, Heartlove! at GenCon as I had played it and knew she would love it. I had just hoped she would get a half-way decent GM that wouldn’t ruin it for her. She didn’t get that. She got a fabulous GM who made it one of her most memorable GenCon experiences ever. Mike had gone the extra mile and made a 3D stage with lights and accurate minis for the final encounter and did a fabulous job with the role-playing, as well. He had my daughter in tears for most of the adventure for all the right reasons. Heck, just hearing her gush about how great an experience it was had my eyes tearing up, and I wasn’t even there.
Based on her comments, we specifically asked for Mike to GM us for “The Scoured Stars Invasion” and got him. Again, Mike came through with some special minis, props and aids that made the experience better and more visual. The Special, BTW, clearly benefited from 10 years of Paizo experience and was one of the best Specials they have ever released. Normally, most of my group doesn’t enjoy Starship combat in Starfinder as it tends to drag, and it was great that the Special makes it optional for players as they get a variety of missions to choose from that have tags, so your group can avoid types of missions your group doesn’t enjoy. But I had just acquired a Starship Boon earlier in the Con that let me mount Nukes on our Tier 4 Spaceship and let me just say that everything is better with Nukes! Mike ran the spaceship combats smoothly and everyone in our group enjoyed them for once. Mike also seemed to have a ball and that is a much a testament to his GMing as anything.
So, once again, thank you Mike Bramnik for helping to make our GenCon 2018 experience so memorable.
I am running the Dead Suns AP with a large table (6-7 players). In order to compensate for the AP being designed for 4 people, I have upped the DCs on most skill checks and increased the number of monsters where appropriate. The biggest problem is that increasing the number of monsters isn't always appropriate. I have looked at the Templates in Alien Archives to make solo monsters tougher, but all of the templates seems to change the basic nature of the monster. There just does not seem to be an Advanced Template like in Pathfinder. So unless I missed this, what do you recommend for making solo monsters tougher?
I picked up the Free Captains Affiliation Boon last GenCon and use it regularly with my Lashunta Icon Envoy. So I decided to incorporate this into her background in a cheesy romance novel way. Essentially, the starliner she was on was attacked by space pirates and she was kidnapped to be held for ransom. But she fell in love with the ruggedly handsome Captain and they had a brief, torrid affair before he set her free. She refers to him as her Ex-boyfriend, but that’s mostly because they can’t really maintain a relationship, what with her being a rising star in the Pact Worlds gaming/media industry and him being a pirate in the Diaspora. But they are still on very good terms.
So, I have been looking at various sources trying to find a Free Captain that might fit the bill. Unfortunately, I have only found 2. One from the Pact Worlds, and one from the third book of the Dead Suns series. Both are female (which isn’t necessarily a deal breaker) but one is 88 years old and both don’t seem to have appropriate personalities for what I was looking for.
So does anyone else know of any other specific Free Captains and the source?
I will be attending GenCon this year and want to play The Scoured Stars Invasion special. The problem is, the character I really want to play this with is 5th level, but my friends won't have anything higher than 4th. Can I play the 3-4 Tier with a level 5-6 character? I realize I will get less rewards, but we would at least all be able to play together.
[rant]This is a writing convention that is a pet peeve of mine and a recent Season 9 adventure pushed my button on this again. Namely, it is the habit some adventure authors have of stating that an NPC is somehow immune to Intimidate for reason such as ‘being very brave,’ ‘belonging to a profession where you get used to people trying to intimidate you,’ ‘the other guy is scarier than you.’ Sorry, but NO! Unless you are immune to fear, as in immunity to fear effects, you are NOT immune to Intimidate. While this is a fantasy world, and some creatures and even characters have immunity to fear effects, it is reality based and no one in the history of the mundane universe has ever been immune to intimidate. There are plenty of reasons, including those listed above, that someone might be resistant to Intimidate, thus increasing the DC 5, 10, or in some rare cases, 15, but they don’t make you immune. In a very few cases, I have seen NPCs that the author stated were immune to Bluff or Diplomacy (again, not logically possible outside of magical reasons), but by far, the number of times I have seen authors do this with Intimidate dwarfs the number of times I have seen this with other Charisma based skills. In fact, when I was an Adventure Coordinator for LFR, this was on a list of ‘don’ts’ I gave out to every potential author (along with such other things as, “Don’t start your intro boxed text with the overused, ‘You find yourself...’”).
On top of the fact that making NPCs immune to Intimidate is illogical, you are also doing a disservice to players who build intimidating characters. In the recent adventure that set me off, an NPC couldn’t be intimidated because the monster was scarier than the PCs. Really? How do you know that? Isn’t that what an Intimidate check is supposed to be for? Did you just tell the player with an intimidating character build that his character concept is pointless?
No! Just stop! Don’t do it any longer![/rant]
I have been playing Pathfinder since Season 3 and even when I deliberately attempt to create a character that follows the ongoing storyline I have never had one that is so perfectly matched to scenarios as my first Starfinder character is.
My Starfinder character is a female damaya lashunta Envoy with the Icon theme and Profession (Vidgamer). Her name is Vooshkadara of Komena, better known to her fans by her gamer handle, pewpewfry. My concept from the beginning is that she is a rising star in the Vidgame circuit. While she has some design credits to her name, her fame comes mostly from competition victories both solo and as a team leader. She is known for her piloting skills in World of Spacecraft and her skills with a laser pistol in the HighScan franchise (where she has earned a cameo appearance as an NPC in the latest update). She is also well known for her leadership skills and killer glare that can even intimidate her Free Captain ex-boyfriend.
When the Starfinder Society began their recent recruitment drive after the Scoured Stars Incident, she saw this as an opportunity. If she joined the Starfinder Society, she could put her Vidgame honed skills to more practical use, help the society by lending her fame to their recruitment efforts, and expand her fame by vid-blogging her exploits (she asks party members to sign waivers during the mission briefing).
And then I played #1-05 The First Mandate.
The First Mandate:
After we were given our briefing on Zo, I made a beeline for him at the Gala. In the first round I broke the ice by asking him if the rumor was true that if you binge-watch all 200 seasons of The Necromancer you turn undead at the end, and then telling him about my exploits on Salvations End where I became a goblin chieftain. In the second round I followed this up by pitching my idea for a reality show revolving around my Society exploits and handed him my vid-resume. In the third round I decided to Sense Motive on Zo to find out what bonus things I could do to curry favor with him and ironically found out I had just done them by simply playing in character. When the GM asked if I would be changing targets on the fourth round my response was, “I’m sticking with Zo until I get a contract.”
Then I read the blurb for #1-09 Live Exploration Extreme!
OMG! LOOKS LIKE I GOT MY CONTRACT!
This is getting very weird (but very cool).
Fame & Reputation work differently in SFS than they do in PFS and it is kind of confusing so I want to make sure I am doing this right.
So during character creation I apply the Wayfinder Champion boon to the character for free as I get one faction champion boon for free during character generation.
In my first game I slot Wayfinder Champion. We succeed in both Primary & Secondary conditions, so I get 2 Reputation towards the Wayfinders and 2 fame, which is generic.
In my second game I slot Wayfinder Champion again. The scenario has a bonus Dataphiles success condition which the party met and we succeeded in the primary, but not secondary condition. But I slotted Wayfinder Champion, so I don't get the Dataphile bonus. I earn only 1 Reputation towards the Wayfinders and 1 fame. Unfortunately I caught a disease so I spend 1 fame for a Remove Affliction casting.
In my third game, I find out the scenario has a bonus for Exo-Guardians, so I spend 2 fame to buy the Exo-Guardian Champion faction boon and slot that instead of the Wayfinder Champion boon. We succeed in the primary, secondary and faction success conditions (which earns 1 extra reputation but no extra fame).
I am doing this correctly?
Claim to Salvation assumes you are going to play it with the level 4 pregens. And the guide states that if you play something with a pregen, you can't apply the rewards until you hit the level of the pregen. This essentially means this is a Level 4 adventure. However, both the description and boon state it is level 3-4 which suggesta there may be a circumstance under which you could play or apply this to a 3rd level character. I don't actually see anything in the adventure expressly forbidding playing it with our own character, nor am I finding anything in the guide that prohibits it.
So can you play this with your own 3rd level character or am I just missing something, and if so, where?
So I have been trying to think of ways to give SFS a more SciFi feel in order to make it feel less like Pathfinder in Space. I came up with the idea of, instead of me as the GM simply telling everyone what was going on, I would hand the Science Officer notes telling him what the sensors were reading so that he could relay the information back to the crew, just like a typical SciFi show.
Here is an sample note from when I ran the Quests recently:
Sensors detect a ship moving out from behind a nearby asteroid.
Weapons are armed.
Torpedo bay is open.
Torpedo has lock.
Unfortunately, I think my players are too used to GMs who only give players notes when its something only their player is supposed to know and may wish to keep secret. So instead of relaying this information to the crew as I'd hoped, the Science Officer simply said, "We need to get out of here, NOW!" without giving any details. And I had to tell everyone what was going on anyway.
So does anyone else have any ideas for giving SFS a more SciFi feel?
I can't help but notice there seems to be a lot of Envoy + Icon character concepts out there. And since we all want to be famous across the Pact Worlds, I think we should introduce ourselves.
I am the up and coming VidGamer, Vooshkadara of Komena, better know to her fans by her gamer handle, 'pewpewfry.' Well known for her piloting skills in World of Spacecraft and her skill with a laser pistol in HighScan, ; pewpewfry was approached by the SFS to join them as a recruitment tool. Since she has sought to expand her gaming skills and adventures into the real world, this seemed like a win-win. Now if everyone in the party could just sign these waivers as my furry little assistant ZapZap will be recording our adventure on his drone.
So I have a boon for a Suli in PFS I am trying to figure out what to do with. It seems it would be particularly useful since this upcoming Season's theme is the elemental planes. I am looking for a character with a primary goal of being interesting, a secondary goal of being optimized and a tertiary goal of being versatile. I am mostly looking for Advanced Class Guide, Occult Adventures or Ultimate Intrigue classes as I have played these the least.
The first thing I looked at was a meteor hammer wielding Slayer. The boost to STR would be great here, but the penalty to INT is painful and the bonus to CHA does nothing.
Paladin would be an obvious choice but I already have 2 PFS Paladins. Skald is another but there are already several Skalds in my area.
So Bloodrager seems to be the best bet. Biggest problem is that most bloodragers get energy resistances that would be a waste because I am a Suli. Arcane bloodline would probably be the most optimized but is also one of the least interesting choices. Part of me is drawn to the Abyssal Bloodline even though elemental resistances would be useless, as I could use the Enlarge ability even though I am not humanoid. I am also drawn to this since I was thinking of using a falchion and I have a mini for a large djinn with a falchion already.
Any ideas or suggestions?
I tried creating an event for January. I cloned my December event and changed everything I needed but it won't let me save the number of sessions. It doesn't matter whether I save it or update it, the number of sessions always falls back to "0". I had this same problem with an event I created for November. Any idea how to fix this?
As many of you who follow my posts may know, I am frequently a vocal consumer advocate for PFS members. I do this because I feel such advocacy benefits not just the members, but PFS and Paizo in general. Unfortunately, such advocacy sometimes means I can appear in an adversarial role opposing Venture Officers, 5 Star GMs and even Paizo employees. So I want to make it clear that even though I may occasionally act as a foil to some of you online (and the nature of the internet occasionally means things get heated) I respect the effort that all of the VOs, GMs and employees put into making PFS what it is. So thank you all for your efforts.
I will be traveling to GenCon this year and this will be my first GenCon as a Paizo volunteer. So I hope to meet as many of you as possible in a less adversarial capacity.
Thank you again,
I have noticed that almost every single time a Season 4-6 adventure has been played where the party was just barely forced to play up with the 4 person adjustment (example, a Tier 3-7 mod played by 2 5ths & 2 6ths or by 5 5ths) there has been at least one death and frequently mission failure. I am not sure of all the causes but it seems at least some of these have to do with ineffective 4 person adjustments (giving the young template to non strength-based monster, nerfing the guard standing in front of the powerful wizard rather than nerfing the powerful wizard, etc.)
Is anyone else seeing this?
PFS is a hobby, and like all hobbies, people indulge in them because they enjoy doing so. So having fun is the single most important ingredient in PFS. It is the reason we are here and since PFS is a social game, the goal is for everyone at the table to have as much fun as possible. Much has been said about how GMs can make sure the players have fun, and how the players can make sure the other players at the table can have fun, but little has been said about how the players can make sure the GM has fun. Usually discussions of GMing involve words like “job” and “responsibility,” neither of which are commonly associated with “fun.”
To a degree, this lack of coverage makes sense. After all, you get more bang for your buck by making sure 3-7 players are happy rather than 1 GM. But that kind of ignores the fact that without that one GM, none of the players are going to have any fun. And it is my experience that an unhappy GM leads to unhappy players. So is it any wonder that you hear a lot of comments on these boards about areas having GM shortages?
Perhaps, just perhaps, if players put as much effort into making sure the GM has fun as the GM puts into making sure the players have fun, we might be able to reduce those GM shortage issues. So with that in mind, I will ask, without any finger pointing or blame gaming, what can players do to make the game more fun for the GM?
Venture Captain Marcos Farabellus thumbed his frozen fingers again through the stack of dossiers and notes spread out before him, as if doing so would somehow reveal better results than the last dozen times he’d done so. He shivered. The tent flaps did little to keep out the wind from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. For the first time in its history, the Pathfinder Society had raised an army, and he had been unanimously chosen to be its commander. He mused as to what it was he must have done wrong to have received such an honor. The Decemvirate wanted the Sky Citadel of Jormurdun and the only thing standing between them and their goal was the mass of demons and other foul creatures that dwelled within the cursed lands around the World Wound, an opening in Golarian that lead straight to the Abyss. As if he wouldn’t have had enough to do simply clearing a path through that mess, it seemed some of the Society’s old foes, the traitorous Venture-Captain Thurl and the Chelish criminal Tancred Desimire had raised their own armies to oppose them. This job was putting a dent in his usual cheerful disposition.
The Army of the Open Road, as his rag-tag force had been dubbed, looked impressive enough on paper. But it was a mishmash of troops from all over Golarian that the Society had cobbled together. They lacked unified leadership and there was no time to accomplish that unity. Worse, the Pathfinder Society was never meant to be a military organization and lacked any true military commanders. And, on top of that, many of the Society’s most seasoned members were off on special assignments. So Farabellus was left with few worthy candidates for command. He thumbed through the stack one final time and looked up at the six Pathfinders he had found most worthy. He had already gone over with them in detail why they were here and what the overall strategy was. Now it was time for specific assignments.
“Atka,” Marcos said, “You are the easy one. Normally I would be worried about giving command to one so inexperienced, but Lady Gloriana Morilla has made a specific request. It seems you may just get a chance to sound the Horn of Aroden you recovered in Brevoy. Lady Morilla sent a message requesting that you lead Taldor’s Army of Exploration.” Farabellus motioned for his young aide de camp to give the message to the young fur-clad Erutaki woman that seemed more at home on these steppes than the cities of Taldor. She took the missive and simply stated, “I am honored.”
“Aden,” continued the Master of Swords, “As the most experience warrior here, you are also a fairly easy assignment. You shall be leading our contingent of Mendavian Cavalry. I am sure you will do them honor.” The muscular tiefling male bowed, accepting his position and stepped from the ranks immediately to inspect his troops.
“Jaerin, I can think of no one better to lead our dwarven contingent than a dwarven cleric of Torag. You will be leading the Five King’s Pike Infantry.” The dwarf priest gave a big, toothy grin of pride at his assignment and snapped the commander a formal salute before being dismissed.
“Uziel, as an expert in infiltration I am giving you command of the Society Enforcers. I personally put this group together myself and so your work is cut out for you. Don’t disappoint!” The tiefling rogue seemed mixed with elation at the assignment and dread of the consequences of failure, but he quickly composed himself and dutifully accepted the command.
“Xylia, I am giving you command of the Society Field Agents. They are a very flexible unit and work best when teamed up with other units. Use them wisely.” The elf druid bowed deeply as she saluted the Society’s first ever Warmaster. “I will lead them to glory, sir,” she stated, then left to see to her troops.
Marcos Farabellus paused as he studied the last remaining would-be commander. To look at, Ameretat was anything but an imposing commander. He had a limp that required him to use a cane, and he wore excessive clothing to cover a body the Venture Captain knew to be heavily burn scarred. Worst of all, he appeared to be little more than a very pretty young boy. Though Farabellus knew that aasimar tended to be a lot older than they appeared. “Ameretat,” Farabellus continued, “You are no more experienced than Atka and are well known for preferring to solve disputes with words rather than the sword. Between that and your infirmities many would question your worthiness to lead a military command.
“Sir,” interrupted the oracle, “If I may speak freely.”
“No,” snapped Farabellus, “You may not!” The Master of Swords paused for a moment before continuing. “But I know your mother was a valiant paladin. I know she died giving birth to you on the battlefields of Hell. And I know of your deep hatred of demons and devils. So I am entrusting you with the command of our finest spell casting unit, the Rift Wardens. I think you are well suited to each other. Now get to your troop, boy.”
Farabellus inwardly snickered at the irony of the last statement, as the aasimar was probably older than he was.
As the last Pathfinder left to see to his unit, the Venture Captain turned to his young aide de camp. “Jaffe,” he stated. “I am going to need out best messengers and diviners tomorrow to keep track of our forces. See to it that all dispatches are brought to me without delay.”
“Jaffe,” bellowed Venture Captain Farabellus, “Where are those dispatches!”
“Right here,” replied the meek young man carrying an armload of scrolls. “I was just looking them over.”
“Well, then,” Farabellus replied. “What do they say?”
Jaffe suddenly realized he was violating decorum and immediately dropped all of the reports on the floor in order to salute his superior. “Sir, I have reports from the front, sir.”
The Master of Swords rubbed his hand over his bald pate in frustration. “Jaffe,” he growled. “How many times do I have to tell you that you aren’t in the Cheliax army anymore? Just give me the report.”
“Sir, Yes, sir! Sorry, si…,” Jaffe trailed off seeing the Venture Captain’s glare.
“Sir,” Jaffe re-started in his best professional tone. “So far everything is going to plan. Commanders Xylia and Atka are moving towards Tancred Desimire’s cultist forces around Silvershore. The Mendavian Cavalry under Commander Aden has moved south to intercept an outlier force and secure the right flank. Commanders Ameretat and Uziel are moving in on the left flank. All forces report they are or soon will be engaging the enemy.”
“What of the dwarves from Five King’s Mountain,” Farabellus queried. “Where is Commander Jaerin’s force?”
“Well, sir, “ Jaffe stammered weakly. “It would seem that in their enthusiasm to engage the enemy that the Army of the Open Road has outpaced the Five King’s Pike Infantry and left them behind.”
The Warmaster chuckled, “Ah, well. Every army needs a good rear guard. But what of Thurl’s demon army? What do the scouts say? I am more concerned with armies of demons than Desimire’s motley assortment of demented fanatics.”
“I am afraid we have no news yet on Thurl’s forces. We believe his forces have amassed in the north near Jormurdun but the Wound is a difficult place for scouts.”
Farabellus rubbed his dark black beard in concern. “Let us hope no news is good news, then.”
Jaffe rushed in to the command tent beaming with excitement.
“Sir, reports from the front!” he chirped.
“I would say good news from that smile on your face, soldier,” replied the Warmaster. “Go ahead. Report.”
“Sir,” continued Jaffe. “All forces save the Five King’s Pike Infantry have successfully engaged and defeated the forward forces of the enemy with minimal casualties. The Society Field Agents and Taldor’s Army of Exploration should be engaging the remaining enemy field armies between them and Silvershore while Commander Aden’s cavalry continue to secure the southern flank. The Rift Wardens and Society Enforcers have moved to intercept a large force of reinforcements coming from the north. The Five King’s Pike Infantry, “ Jaffe coughed for emphasis,“ continue to secure the rear, sir.”
Marcos Farabellus smiled. “Excellent. I knew Desimire’s rabble outnumbered us. But, as I suspected, they just weren’t organized enough to stand up to our forces in battle. Any news on Thurl’s forces?”
“No, sir,” reported the aid de camp, his smile diminishing. “We have no new reports on their size or disposition. The Wolf Crags just have too many places to hide troops and the lands of the World Wound can frequently foil our best divination attempts.”
“Well, then, “ sighed the commander. “Let’s hope our luck holds tomorrow.”
“Victory, sir!” gushed Jaffe while hugging the day’s report in his arms. “It’s a victory!”
The Venture Captain grinned while otherwise keeping his professional demeanor. “I will be the judge of that. Report!”
“Yes, sir!” stammered the young aide, having been reminded of his unprofessional report. “Sorry, sir.”
“No need to be so apologetic, Jaffe,” said Farabellus in a more fatherly tone. “I understand your enthusiasm. Just remember what your job is.”
“Thank you, sir.” Replied Jaffe, relieved that he had not just been seriously reprimanded. “Commander Aden’s cavalry has successfully destroyed all remaining enemy forces south of Silvershore. Commanders Ameretat and Uziel engaged a large force in the north before it could join up with the forces in Silvershore. But one unit of troops was able to move past and threaten our rear. However, these were intercepted by Commander Jaerin’s dwarf contingent and destroyed.”
“Hah,” barked Farabellus, “Just like I said. Every army needs a good rear guard. But what of Silvershore itself?”
“Sir,” continued the aide de camp. “Commander Atka and Xylia’s force engaged a large force of tieflings defending Silvershore and were able to overcome them with minimal casualties. Overall, reported casualties are light. The enemy has been driven from the field and all allied forces are converging on Silvershore to secure it and resupply.”
“Excellent!” shouted the Master of Swords. “Inform the Quartermaster it is now safe to begin delivering supplies to Silvershore.” The commander’s face then took on a darker caste. “But still nothing on Thurl’s forces?”
Jaffe shook his head, “Nothing, sir.”
“Dammit,” barked the Warmaster, slamming his hand on the planning table, scattering wooden markers representing known army positions on the map of the area. “I know they’re out there. What are they up to?”
Jaffe marched into the command tent. His attitude not nearly as exuberant as it had been the day before.
“Report,” stated Farabellus rather matter-of-factly.
“Sir,” started the aide, “the Army of the Open Road has gathered at Silvershore and is in the process of resupplying. But we are starting to get reports from the north. The traitor Thurl is definitely on the move. There are preliminary reports of troops of dretch and schir demons but also something the scouts have never encountered in the Wound before.”
“Go on,” said the Venture Captain, a scowl slowly forming across his face.
“Sir, the scouts are reporting they have seen horrible monstrosities stitched together from various demon parts.
“That would be Thurl’s handiwork,” growled Marcos. “He always was far too fascinated with dissecting demons. I doubt our push towards Jormurdun will be as easy as was the battle for Silvershore.”
Jaffe rushed into the command tent with a large bundle of dispatches.
“Sir!” cried the young aide. “The enemy has made its move and all hell has broken loose!”
“Don’t your mean, all of the Abyss, Jaffe?” replied the Master of Swords.
Jaffe paused, not sure how to respond to his commander’s attempt at humor.
“Go ahead, report, son,” stated Farabellus as he returned to his more professional tone.
“Yes, sir,” continued Jaffe, feeling more comfortable with his commander’s more professional tone. “The enemy has used the cover of night to move more quickly than we had predicted. Troops of dretch and schir anchored around a unit of those demonic constructs have moved out from the Wolf Crags and are converging on Silvershore. Commander’s Jaerin, Ameretat, Uziel and Xylia have moved out of Silvershore to engage them before they can endanger our supply lines. Commander Aden’s cavalry has moved to secure the western flank and prevent our forces from being flanked. Commander Atka’s forces have remained behind to secure Silvershore. We also have reports of Tancred Desimire’s few remaining cultists gathering near Sabertooth Vale to the northeast, along with several other units of demons. They appear to be forming a reserve force.”
“And so it begins,” muttered the Venture Captain. “So far, no ugly surprises, though. I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. Thurl isn’t a complete fool.”
Jaffe’s panicked expression was hard to miss as he hurled himself through the tent flap. He stood before the Society’s only Warmaster ever trying to stammer out a report.
“Take a deep breath, son,” the Master of Swords said in his most fatherly of tones. “Then report. I take it you don’t bear good news.”
“Sir,” stammered Jaffe between breaths. “Initial reports are good. The enemy forces moving towards Silvershore from the north have been engaged and have suffered heavy casualties, though our own casualties were heavier than had been suffered previously.”
“Go on,” said Farabellus, knowing the bad news was yet to come.
“Well, sir,” continued the aide de camp. “It appears the assault from the north was a diversion. A force of tiefling cavalry mounted on howlers has been spotted south of Silvershore and is rapidly moving towards our encampment there.”
Farabellus nodded. “Well, at least Taldor’s Army of Exploration is still in Silvershore. Send orders immediately to have them dig in and protect the baggage train.”
“Sir,” said Jaffe, nervousness creeping into his voice. “I am afraid Taldor’s Army of Exploration is no longer in Silvershore. It seems that many of the young nobles in that force were impatient for battle and convinced commander Atka to advance towards the tiefling force and engage them in open battle.”
“Fools!” shouted Farabellus, slamming his hand down on the command table. “They gave up their tactical advantage for a chance at glory. Infantry against cavalry in the open is never a good thing. And if the enemy manages to out maneuver Atka’s force and get behind our lines there will be Hell to pay.”
“Don’t you mean the Abyss to pay, sir?” blurted out the young aide. Jaffe immediately regretted his attempt at humor when he saw his commanders burning glare.
“Only I get to make the jokes here, Jaffe.” Farabellus chided, but his annoyance quickly dissipated and was replaced with concern. “But that’s not all that’s happening, is it?”
“No, Sir, “continued the commander’s aide. “It seems that our initial reports that the force gathering near Sabertooth Vale was a reserve force were inaccurate. It seems Tancred Desimire’s remaining cultist forces are in the process of performing a massive summoning ritual. One can only imagine what they hope to summon.”
“Aroden’s Ghost!” cried the commander. “We need to stop that before it can finish. Send a dispatch to Commander Aden, his cavalry is likely the only ones that can get there in time.”
“Sir,” replied Jaffe, “The Mendavian Cavalry were protecting the western flank of the Army of the Open Road. They are out of position. The closest unit is Ameretat’s Rift Wardens, just north of the House of Reflections. Ameretat is marching his force as quickly as possible to engage the cultists, but there are a large number of enemy forces in his way. Commander’s Uziel and Xylia have moved to guard his flanks and Aden’s Cavalry are attempting to join up but the terrain in that area is not conducive to cavalry. Commander Jaerin’s pikemen are withdrawing to Silvershore to secure supply lines.”
“Very well, then,” stated Farabellus, biting his lower lip. “We shall see what tomorrow brings.”
Master of Swords, Marcos Farabellus stared at his young aide, trying to guess what news he was bringing to him. Jaffe’s attitude was fairly professional, so the grizzled old Pathfinder guessed it was a mix of good and bad. “Report,” he stated.
“Sir, Taldor’s Army of Exploration was able to engage the howler cavalry south of the old lake bed and defeat them.”
“And the Rift Wardens?” queried the Venture Captain. “How does their push towards Sabertooth Vale go?”
Jaffe puffed up his chest proudly. “Sir, with the assistance of the Society Field Agents and Society Enforcers, Commander Ameretat’s forces were able to evade the enemy forces between them and the cultists. But the terrain in the Wolf Crags is making troop movement difficult. Commander Ameretat estimates it will still be two more days before they reach the cultists.”
“Let’s hope they get there in time, then,” stated Marcos
“Sir,” said Jaffe, timidly.
Farabellus looked at him expectantly.
“Sir,” stammered the young aide. “I regret to inform…ah…the force of stitched monstrosities had moved north to block the Rift Wardens but Commander Xylia’s Society Field Agents were able to intercept them before they could do this. I regret to inform the commander that the creatures were just too much our forces. The Society Field Agents have been destroyed. Only a few of their number, including Commander Xylia, escaped alive. The stitched horrors are now marching on Silvershore.”
The Venture Captain nodded solemnly. “I suppose it was too much to ask for no major casualties. Still, they died valiantly, preventing those monsters from intercepting Ameretat’s troops. Their valor will not be forgotten. Let’s hope Jaerin’s dwarves are up to the task.”
“Sir,” started Jaffe. Farabellus noticed his mood was decidedly happier than the day before; a good sign. “The Five King’s Pike were able to repulse Thurl’s stitched horrors and have successfully defended Silvershore. Commander Uziel’s troops have finished mopping up forces north of Ameretat’s position and the Mendavian Cavalry, after a pitched battle, routed all remaining forces south of that position. Taldor’s Army of Exploration is moving to join them and should be there in another day. There are no remaining enemy forces between the Rift Wardens and Desimire’s remaining cultists. Ameretat reports they should engage the enemy before noon tomorrow.”
“Excellent,” beamed the Warmaster. “It looks like my confidence in my commander’s was well placed.”
“Yes, sir…” began Jaffe, but cries of “Make way! Make way” and the thundering of approaching hoof beats interrupted him. Jaffe and Farabellus looked at the open tent flap wondering what news could be so urgent this late in the day. A young Taldan woman, her cloths filthy from hard riding rushed through the flap. With barely concealed panic in her voice she reported.
“Warmaster, our scouts at Sabertooth Vale have reported that Tancred Desimire’s cultist have completed their ritual.” The Venture Captain and his aide’s joy quickly turned to concern. “They have summoned forth an army of rift drakes. The drakes immediately descended upon the cultists and devoured them, but this likely did little to slate their appetite.”
“Rift drakes!” cried Farabellus. “This is dire news indeed. With our forces spread out as they are it will be easy for the drakes to pick them off one by one. Ameretat’s Rift Wardens are closest and likely their first target. Jaffe, get me some wizards. I need to communicate immediately with the field commanders. We must move as quickly as possible to combine forces and set a trap.”
The Master of Blades had barely finished his order before Jaffe had left the tent in search of the requested spellcasters.
Warmaster Farabellus sat thumping his fingers on the planning table hard enough to draw blood. He had given strict orders that there were to be no delays in reports from his field commanders. That had been last night and now he anxiously waited for the morning’s first report. Jaffe entered the command tent bringing that report.
“Sir,” reported Farabellus’s aide. “The rift drakes are on the move.”
“Are Ameretat’s men ready for the assault?” asked the Master of Swords.
“Sir,” continued Jaffe. “That’s just it. Initial reports had the rift drakes headed straight towards Ameretat’s Rift Wardens, but then they veered south. By all accounts they are in route to intercept Uziel and his Society Enforcers who were on the march to join the Rift Wardens.”
“Damn,” snarled the Warmaster. “They must have sensed we were trying to set up a trap. Send word to all forces in the area to join up with the Society Enforcers immediately!”
Jaffe entered the command tent, his mood more demure that previously.
“Sir,” he reported. “Scouts have confirmed that Society Enforcers are indeed the rift drake’s target. They have already engaged Commander Uziel’s forward elements.”
“And the other units,” asked Farabellus, taking a sip of red wine he had been drinking to calm his nerves. “Will they make it in time?”
“Sir,” said the aide de camp in a disheartened manner. “Commander Aden’s Mendavian Cavalry suffered heavy casualties in their last battle and much of his force was scattered. He is still regrouping. Commander Atka’s forces are moving to join him should the rift drakes break through the Society Enforcers.”
“If?” shouted the commander. “These are dragons we are talking about. There is no ‘if’. What of Ameretat and the Rift Wardens?”
“There is no report on their current position, sir. We don’t know where they are.”
The Master of Swords’ meaty hand squeezed hard on the wooden tankard he held. With a crack, the tankard shattered sending its remaining contents splattering across the table. A large drop struck the map location where the Society Enforcers stood against the rift drakes. The red wine spread out across the map like a giant pool of blood.
Warmaster Farabellus could tell Jaffe was doing his best to hold it together, but the tears welling up in his eyes already told the commander what he needed to know.
“Sir,” reported the young aide. “The Society Enforcers have been defeated. Commander Uziel’s fate is currently unknown but few survived the massacre. Those who didn’t die from the drakes’ corrosive breath have been torn apart and eaten.”
“Where is Ameretat?” ask Farabellus rhetorically. “Where is that damned aasimar? He had better have a good…”
Just then a courier entered the tent and quickly handed Jaffe a dispatch. Farabellus’s aide looked at the dispatch through blurry eyes. At first he wasn’t sure what he was ready, but then it became clear.
“Sir,” cried the aide de camp. “The Rift Wardens have arrived at the battlefield. They were too late to save the Society Enforcers, but the distraction caused by the battle allowed them to take an advantageous position on a nearby hillock!”
Jaffe excitedly wiped the remaining tears from his eyes and continued to read. “Sir, the position allowed them to catch the rift drakes off guard and rain a heavy barrage of spells upon them.”
With each word he read, Jaffe’s excitement grew. “Sir! They’ve won, sir. The Rift Wardens have destroyed the army of rift drakes! All enemy forces south of the Wolf Crags have been defeated!”
Tears now began to well up in Marcos Farabellus’s eyes. But unlike Jaffe’s earlier tears, these were not the tears of tragedy. He exhaled as if he had been holding his breath since the day had begun.
“Excellent,” was all the Master of Swords could say.
Farabellus stood up and looked at the strategic map of the western World Wound. It had been his entire world for the past nine days. And he knew what his next move needed to be.
“The bravery of the Society Enforcers and Field Agents will not be forgotten. But our work here is not yet done. Jaffe, send word to all of the commanders to return here at once. I have another job for them.”
I currently have a melee witch build in a long term, ongoing campaign. Right now I get 5 attacks a round with my Prehensile Hair active. I am currently planning on taking one more level of Monk at 6th and then Witch all the rest of the way. I am looking at ways of getting extra attacks (I can get hooves with monstrous extremities at 9th but I am not sure how to get a gore or tail attack, for example), ways of getting pounce (like dimensional dervish), ways of dealing with DR, and things that can generally help with this build, especially things that effect all of my attacks (like my amulet of mighty fists and divine favor). Thank you ahead of time for suggestions.
I have a PFS 2nd level straight ranger who would like to retrain into the Urban Ranger archtype. The only difference between the two at second level is that they swap out class skills. Are class skills considered class abilities? If they are, are all class skills considered one class ability, or are each of them separate class abilities? In addition, the rules only mention I have to retrain twice if I am going from one archtype to another, once to retrain me back to the base class and once to retrain me to the new archtype. So does that mean I only have to retain once even though I would lose a base class ability and gain an archtype class ability? Which one of the following is true?
1) Class skills are not class abilities and I can simply take the Urban Ranger archtype without retraining, losing the class skill bonus to my current class skills and gaining them for my two new ones.
Thank you ahead of time for your assistance.
I am looking at trying to make a Flying Blade Swashbuckler Halfling for PFS but am having so trouble making him viable at lower levels. This is what I am currently looking at:
Now once he hits 7th level with a +1 agile dagger and a blinkback belt he will be pretty effective, but until then he is pretty substandard and nearly useless at levels 1 & 2 doing a whopping 1d3+3 damage. Any suggestions?
Does this ever feel like your PFS Bard some times?
Player: Crap! I fail my Climb check again.
I mean, its nice to feel needed, but sheeesh.
I realize adding a new faction is probably the last thing we want to do, but when one looks at the shear number of nature based classes, archtypes and races it seems there is a huge void that has never been filled even when we had 10 factions. I remember spending a lot of time trying to find a good fit for my druid and never did, settling on Grand Lodge just because of its generic nature.
So while a brand new faction might be ideal, perhaps, since many of the factions are currently in a state of flux, morphing one of them into a more nature friendly one for Year 7 (laying the ground work in year 6 like you did for the year 6 factions in year 5) wouldn't be a bad idea. Currently I think Andoran might be the best fit, adding a love of nature to their love of freedom seems to be a good combination.
While discussing various Paizo incentives I realized that there are rewards for GMing a lot, for GMing at cons, and even for simply going to cons, but there are no rewards for local organizers. Now I realize part of this is because local organizers are divided into 3 groups: Store Owners, VOs and Other. Store owners theoretically get rewarded by increased sales and I am sure Paizo has a system for rewarding VOs. But what about the organizers that fit into neither of those two?
So I am wondering how common are people who aren't VOs or store owners who still take the time to organize and report local events. If there are a lot of people like that, should they be rewarded by Paizo, or should their rewards for GMing be sufficient?
I have a 3rd Level Halfling Ranger that wants to get a Dire Rat animal companion at 4th. I would eventually like to use it as a mount. Problem is, Dire Rat animal companions don't change sized when they advance, so they always stay small. Animal Growth would work but it only last 1 minute per level and Rangers can't cast it until 13th level anyway. So is there any PFS legal way to make it medium on at least an adventure length basis?
I ran a game recently where the local VC gave the PCs orders to essentially remove one of the lodge’s competitors for something by convincing the NPC through Intimidation or Diplomacy to essentially leave town. The party was told specifically not kill the NPC as this would reflect badly on the Society. They went to the NPC’s room at the Inn, the barbarian kicked in the door, which precipitated a fight. Now most of the PCs were trying to use non-lethal attacks but the barbarian refused. Each round, he would tell the NPC to surrender and attack for lethal damage if he didn’t, despite being repeatedly reminded they had been ordered not to kill the NPC and several PCs had specifically asked him not to do it. The tactics for the NPC said you couldn’t Intimidate him into leaving until after you defeated him in combat as he thought you were probably going to kill him anyway. So the barbarian’s demands for surrender were irrelevant. Three rounds into combat the NPC, who hasn’t even done double digits in damage to the party is almost down and the barbarian crits him and kills him, then shrugs and says, “well I gave him three chances to surrender and he didn’t.”
I had not expected the barbarian to do this and his actions caught me completely off guard, but after thinking about it there were a lot of ramifications the character would have suffered in a home campaign that I was pretty much powerless to do anything about in PFS.
The party had busted into a room in an Inn in broad daylight without any attempt to hide their actions, attacked and killed the guy in the room. That’s murder and there were plenty of witnesses. On top of that, the barbarian disobeyed the express orders of the local VC. In a home campaign, the local authorities would be seeking to arrest them and put them in jail for long periods of time or execute them and they might suffer long term ramifications from the VC such as reprimands, demotions and even expulsion. But as a PFS GM I was virtually powerless to do anything about this. I couldn’t even hit the barbarian with an alignment shift because his actions had caught me so off guard I didn’t think to warn him he would be committing an evil act if he murdered the NPC, and according the Guide I have to give him a warning regarding alignment changing actions. The mod gave some minor penalties for dealing lethal damage to the NPC but didn’t even consider the fact the PCs would kill him. So my hands were mostly tied with this.
The Guide simply doesn’t cover situations like this, so what, if any, ability do I have as a GM to deal with situations like this? Can I, for example, simply say the adventure is over and you failed because you are now spending all of your time being chased by the authorities or were arrested and put in jail, or the local VC removed you from the mission due to gross insubordination? Is it fair to the other 5 players if I do that? How, exactly, would you deal with situations like this?
Playing a good character can be rough in PFS. Let's break it down.
1. Role-playing Prejudice Ever since the early days of D&D there has been some part of human nature that inherently makes people place higher standards on good aligned characters. Players of good characters are required to abide by their alignments far more rigidly than neutral or evil characters are, even though CN characters are supposed to be just as CN as CG players are supposed to be CG. This is both unfair and illogical but even I have been guilty of it and I don't see it going away anytime soon. In some campaigns, good players are rewarded for being good, which does compensate for this, but I see little evidence of this in PFS.
2. Mechanical Disadvantages Good characters are subject to Unholy Blight, Protection from Good, Smite Good and a plethora of other powers and abilities that neutral characters don’t suffer from or suffer less from. Yet these same neutral characters can cast Protection from Evil just as well as a good one, and even have the choice of casting Protection from Good if they want to. Now this particular issue is inherent in the Pathfinder rules and not specific to PFS, but most of the monsters in PFS seem build on the assumption that you are playing a good character. Unholy Blight spamming Erinyes seem especially common.
3. Morally Questionable Orders While faction missions no longer work like they used to, I have seen quite a few faction missions that required you to engage in morally questionable activity. Which means that if you role-play your character properly, good PCs get less Prestige than neutral ones. Huh? If there is any reward a good PC should be getting over a neutral one, shouldn’t that be Prestige? Furthermore, I have seen these morally questionable faction missions in every faction except Silver Crusade. Even in Andoran, which you’d think would be espousing at least a Chaotic Good outlook, I have seen at least 3 strait out assassination missions. So three allowed neutral alignments, three allowed good alignments; yet out of 10 factions, only 1 was safe for good PCs to join.
4. Lack of Adventure Rewards There is an early PFS adventure that gives you less gold on your AC if you do not outright rob a merchant who has already been victimized once. In fact, the adventure flat out states “that is the price for being good.” There are also at least 2 year 4 adventures I can think of that give very nice boons if you are willing to commit morally questionable acts. Yet I can only think of one adventure, in year 5, that actually rewarded the PCs for doing the right thing, and that reward was simply to give them their extra Prestige Point. Now I admit while I have seen quite a few adventures, I haven’t seen every one of them, so if you do know of an adventure that gives you a nice boon for being good I would love to know about it.
So if we tally up the above issues, they seem to indicate a very strong prejudice in PFS for playing a neutral character. In fact, I have met people who only play neutral characters in PFS because of it. My wife, for example, switched her CG rogue to CN because she got tired of dealing with items 2 & 3 above with nothing to compensate for them.
So my question is this: Is it the intent of the management of PFS to promote neutral characters over good ones? If so, why? If not, when are we going to see nice rewards for being good like there are for being neutral?
P.S. Before someone fires back with the trite axiom, “Being good is its own reward,” I would like to point out the following:
Death by Metagaming is a death caused by the Players making bad decision based on false assumptions about the gaming environment rather than what their PCs actually know. It is probably the most ignominious of deaths because you didn't just make a bad decision, you made a bad decision for all the wrong reasons.
I recently had a death at one of my tables for exactly this reason. The party tank got paralyzed by a life-hating undead monster. The PCs did nothing about this because they made the metagaming assumption that the monster would move on to the next target having nullified one of the PCs. Unfortunately, its tactics were to continue to attack a single target until it killed it because it would immediately create a spawn that would fight for it. I didn't Coupe de Gras the PC because the tactics did not specify it would do that, so I just had it keep attacking. This was the party tank so it took two more rounds to actually drop him with full attacks. And the party still did nothing to save him because they made the metagaming assumption that the monster would stop attacking after it had dropped the tank. Next round the monster finished him off and so I let the player roll the attacks for the spawn he became to give him at least some sense of revenge against his metagaming teammates.
So does anyone else have any other good examples of Death by Metagaming?
The FAQ wrote:
When I read this it seems clear you get to put one animal on the board that can participate in combat and that's it. However, it appears not everyone is reading this the same way I am. Namely the issue seems to be with the last sentence whose use of the word "and" would seem to imply you could theoretically still have 3 animals on the board at one time, i.e. a mount, a familiar and a class-granted animal. So is that right? I have had two instances where this has come up at my tables.
1) The player had a character with both a familiar and an animal companion. In combat, he uses the AC for attacking but the familiar just sits on his shoulder the whole time giving him its bonuses and he never uses it to attack, or deliver touch spells or anything else. It is essentially a flavor-full magic item that sits on his shoulder.
2) The player had a small character with both an animal companion and a non-class granted mount. She used the AC for attacking while the mount just carried her about the battlefield and was not used to attack.
RAI for the FAQ seems to be to not slow the game down and/or overpower it with a small army of pets.
In both cases above, the players believed they were following RAW due to the last sentence, and RAI as they deliberately tried to avoid having their "non-combat" animal slow the game down by attacking. And in most cases that would be true. Obviously AoEs would effect both instances above, and AoOs and dumb opponents attacking a mount would have an effect on #2. But neither would slow it down egregiously.
So am I reading the FAQ wrong or are they? Should I even care about it if neither of them is noticeably slowing the game down, as that seems to be the main purpose of the ruling.
So I sit down at a table of Veteran's Vault at our local gameday. We have a Detective 1, Thug 2, Enchanter 3, Theologian 3, Fighter 4. APL comes out as 2.6 which rounds to the nearest whole number, so 3. According to the Guide, playing a Year 4 adventure with 5 players and an APL of 3 we are supposed to play Sub-tier 4-5 with the monsters reduced for 4 players...
Really? Only one out of 5 players in tier and we are supposed to play 4-5? In a Year 4 mod? Well, then, good thing we brought that Detective 1 along to help us defeat those higher tier monsters.
The good news is we all survived and succeeded in the adventure. But we were sweating it for a bit. It was just rather surprising that the numbers worked out that way.
I have an elf Dawnflower Dervish 1/Kensai-Bladebound 4 who just hit level 6 and I am trying to decide what to take for my free Combat feat.
I currently have:
My character has an AC 30 but if I am denied my Dexterity bonus it drops to 20 and if I haven't acted yet in combat, it can drop to 16. I am looking at either Improved Initiative or Blind-fight. I haven't had a need for Blind-fight yet and I do have spells like Glitterdust, but I am at the level where Darkness, Invisibility and Blindness are going to be a lot more common.
So I have a 2nd level Theologian with the Fire Domain in PFS who will soon be 3rd. She is a cleric of Sarenrae who clenses evil with holy fire. While i have put some focus on making her a blaster, the idea was to create a character who could effectivly heal, buff or blast depending on the needs of the situation.
The Fire Domain spells are all good except for second level, where she gets Produce Flame which is only marginally better than her Fire Bolt domain power. I want to instead use this slot to prepare a metamagiced Burning Hands. At 5th my Burning Hands will always be Intensified for free, making them more useful at higher levels, but I want a +1 level Metamagic feat that would be useful to other spells, as well. My initial instinct was to take Elemental Spell so that I can do non-fire damage if the targets are immune/resistant but it goes against the theme and I already planned on falling back on buffs and heals the few times that might matter.
So what +1 level Metamagic feat would you recommend and why?
Okay, so you have a low level fighter and you are fighting some tough monsters. They drop you negative. A party member heals you but not enough to get you out of the 'kill' zone, i.e. a hit from the monster has a good chance of killing you not just knocking you unconscious again. Since you are prone, you are much easier to hit and can't maneuver well. Almost any action you take save playing dead, such as standing, crawling, drinking a potion, attacking from prone, has a fair chance of getting your character killed.
In 3.5 the solution to this was an Anklet of Translocation, but those don't exist in Pathfinder. So what does exist for a non-spellcaster in PF to get them safely out of combat when prone?
I have a 4th level Wayang Ninja in PFS who fights with 2 wakazashi. He belongs to Cheliax and believes he is a champion for order regardless of the cost (well, regardless of the costs that don't change his alignment from LN). This can include acts of Chaos that give order the tools it needs to do its job. Other than this, though, I haven't come up with any other good role-playing ideas for the character, possibly because I have only actually played him once (his levels almost all came from GM credits). I have come up with good RP personalities and schtik for my other PFS characters, but this one is alluding me. His stats are good; especially Dex, Int, & Cha. Wisdom is his only dump stat. While being the mysterious silent guy watching from the shadows would fit the character, it isn't very good RP fodder.