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bugleyman wrote:
Brother Fen wrote:
Yes. I love the irony. Labels on dungeon decor ruins them while pawns with no labels makes them worthless. Such funny creatures these gamers...
Almost like they're not a monolithic group...

True enough, but he does have a point: things like this are a can't-win situation - no matter what they do, someone's game will be ruined forever.

I kind of wish this sort of product were available back when I got started in the 3rd edition thing just as maps and miniatures became the default assumption of the game: I've bought far too many miniatures and scenic items over the years, and there's really too many of them, they take up too much room, picking through all the boxes and boxes of fiddly bits to find just the right ones is only so much fun, the miniature collecting is an expensive hobby, and one that I find less and less rewarding over the years....

These days, I'd really rather have a relatively small box of common, useful scenic pawns, a box of more generic, archetypal monster pawns, and just a basic collection of generic adventurer minis: I don't really need separate blue, green, red, etc. dragons, or distinct Orc, Hobgoblin, Half-Orc, etc. pawns, or anything like that... rather, just enough that I can easily fish some pawns out of the box and say "those green guys are orcs... and this guy with a sword is your fighter...."

Especially now that I'm not gaming as much anymore.

Still, these pawns are a lovely product, and I've half a mind to start selling off my miniatures and switch to a basic collection of pawns, a handful of generic paper maps, maybe a basic, blank flip-mat, and some old-fashioned pens and graph paper.

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Frames Janco wrote:

I've liked some of the suggestions about favoured enemy as feats, and I agree that it is thematically great.

I have always associated it as a representative of the ranger's experience encountering something and they have taken the time to analyse their encounter and remember the details on behaviour, weaknesses etc. This moreso over "I hate goblins". For this reason I like Hunt Target to a degree, as its like studying the enemy on the fly.

But I would be interested in seeing Favoured enemy come back as a "I've experienced this before" kind of thing. Haven't put pen to paper as to what it would be mechanically, but something that takes into account the enemies you've faced. Something along the lines of if you have had an Encounter with this creature, you gain a bonus on [combat mechanic] or [skill check] to do with it. Maybe you can have enemy specializations = lvl + wis or int modifier, but can swap them out after a new encounter.

Not sure if anything like that works / is viable, but I would love to retain the idea of "I have a history with this thing", as it reflects the ranger's wisdom.

I like where you're coming from on this. And I wouldn't just limit it to combat mechanics or enemies - seems like, where appropriate, this sort of mechanic should extend to other interactions with the favored "enemy" - intimidation, persuasion, negotiation, bargaining and trade, etc.

For example, if your character had a history of navigating treaties with trolls, or trustworthy trading with dwarves, or has such a reputation for bullying and intimidating orcs that there's a good chance they just won't want to mess with the party....

I'm not sure what the best mechanic for that sort of thing might be, either. It strikes me that Lore is potentially structured in a similar way, but I'm too tired to work out the logistics of whether that has any potential to go anywhere. Still, it does strike me at a distance as something that resembles a skill, more than a feat....

I also start to really appreciate where BRP/Call of Cthulhu is coming from with its skill system; did you use the skill this session? If yes, check a box, and at the end of the adventure, there's a chance your skill will improve.... In D&D terms: so, you hunted an undead? Check that box, and build your history and expertise with undead when you level up....

Anyway, that's just a couple random thoughts. To me, there's some appeal to being able to say "I have a history with this sort of thing", and being able to back it up with an unobtrusive mechanic with some real benefit to it....

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What Brother Willi said.

Technically, outside of Golarion "fluff", there are no Evil Great Old Ones, no Good ones, no Lawful, Chaotic, or Neutral ones.

The ethics and morality of the Great Old Ones are so alien, they cannot be compared to those of human beings, and their experience and interests are so alien that human individuality, rights, dignity, etc. simply play no significant role in the day-to-day affairs of Great Old Ones, in much the same way that individual ants in an anthill hold no special interest for human beings who tread on those ants by mistake.

In the Lovecraftian universe that spawned the Great Old Ones, concepts like D&D Alignment are a figment of human imagination, a fairy tale we tell ourselves to make it easier for us to sleep at night. The human concepts of "Good" and "Law" derive no significance apart from that which humanity grants to anything that benefits humanity, for whatever mere humanity is worth in a universe where humans are hardly worthy of an insignificant footnote in the greater scope of the vastness of the space and time of the universe. In the Lovecraftian universe, there are no gods but those we might imagine for our own comfort, or choose from the endless and unimaginable hosts of sufficiently advanced aliens whose ruined civilizations and technologies litter the universe, and hence no objective morality... there are no laws except for those imagined by humans, or the limited set of physical laws that bind humanity within the restrictions of time and space, and hence no objective ethics. The Lovecraftian universe is bound only by the "alignment" of Relativity, in which Law and Good and Neutrality and Evil and Chaos are only constructs built by those with limited perspective for those with limited perspective relative to their own limitations and experiences - perspectives that would make little sense to anything else in the universe.

To the Great Old Ones, there may well be great good to be found in those things that mere humans find to be abhorrent and Evil, an an eldritch order to be seen in those things that humans can find only chaos and disorder in. To see the universe as the Great Old Ones see it, one must stop thinking like a mere human being, and see the universe in an alien and inhuman way, and go "insane" from a human perspective, though arguably the "cultist" who at last can see from that perspective gains levels of wisdom and power over the laws that govern the greater universe beyond the limited human perception of "good" and "evil" and "law" and "chaos" that the cultist can access higher truths and manipulate greater rules that govern the universe in ways that would seem like miracles and magic to us - the "mad" cultist has actually gone saner than human beings by ceasing to be bound by the mundane limits of his/her humanity.

The alien amorality and "madness" by which the Great Old Ones choose to govern their experience are crudely aped by the "Evil" and "Chaos" elements of D&D alignment, but it's really not a very good comparison....

I rather like the "Deep Cuts" line of unpainted miniatures - the price isn't unreasonable, the quality and sculpting is generally pretty good, and there's a rather nice variety and selection of stuff available, especially for some of those less-common race/class combinations usually with two figures of the same race/class/gender with different weapons/equipment/poses in each package - the inexpensive, unpainted, plastic, easily-customized nature of these figures makes them great gifts for new RPG players on a budget to use to make their own characters. This line is also a fair enough source of NPC figures and dungeon dressing.

Too bad Paizo isn't carrying Wizkids' similar and parallel line of D&D miniatures as well (I didn't find out about that until a few weeks ago, and I can't find anyone with any reliable supply of them!)

PossibleCabbage wrote:

I don't see any evidence of "Alchemist Bias"- there are a whole lot of blog posts to go before August, and the "Alchemical Items" follows up on a thread dangled by the Alchemist class preview.

Paizo has made the decision to flesh out the alchemical items, which have existed for a long time, so there are high level analogues to things like thunderstones and tanglefoot bags, so that items like this aren't just left behind as you level. One class specializes in "making these things", again this was fine.

As for "the Alchemist doesn't belong in core", Paizo's internal data shows that the PF1 alchemist was far and away the most popular class outside of the CRB classes, and was even more popular than several core classes. I you're going to promote something to the CRB, "what things are popular" is a reasonable place to start looking.

I agree completely. It also makes sense for Paizo to spend a little extra time explaining a class they have been taking the trouble to add into core, following a heavy revamp of the way it worked.

I have little immediate interest in the Alchemist class, but if I were in their shoes, I, too, would have taken a little extra time to focus on these changes, on the assumption that the game's players will be more interested in the things that are changing, than on the things that are remaining the same.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
yronimos wrote:

Yes, killing and mass-murder ARE OK and better - indiscriminate killing and mass-murder are, after all, the default heroic behavior for parties of PCs when encountering groups of orcs, goblins, trolls, ogres, and other people, is it not?

The game NEEDS rape and sexual violence in it as the only real defining difference between heroic PCs, and the anonymous hordes they are expected to slaughter. Otherwise, the good and evil alignments look suspiciously similar.

This is basically completely untrue in all Paizo APs and every Pathfinder game I've ever played. In basically all of that, the difference between Good and Evil is that Evil kills people because it wants to (or wants their stuff), while Good only kills people and things in defense of themselves or to protect or save others.

I'll amend that then -

The game NEEDS rape and sexual violence in it, as one of only two real defining differences between heroic PCs, and the anonymous hordes they are expected to slaughter, along with having the convenient excuse of claiming the slaughter isn't fun for heroes even though it's the best part of the game for those of us playing. Other than rape and the dubious excuses for killing and mass murder when Good characters commit them, the Good and Evil alignments look suspiciously similar.

Megistone wrote:

I don't get why it's ok to say that orcs slaughter or enslave entire villages, but not that they rape people.

Raping is horrible, but is killing better?
CraziFuzzy wrote:
I think it's hilarious to have this much crazy animosity towards characters possibly being the result of non-consensual sex, while it's perfectly okay for those same characters to main and/or kill to get out of just about any situation.

Yes, killing and mass-murder ARE OK and better - indiscriminate killing and mass-murder are, after all, the default heroic behavior for parties of PCs when encountering groups of orcs, goblins, trolls, ogres, and other people, is it not?

The game NEEDS rape and sexual violence in it as the only real defining difference between heroic PCs, and the anonymous hordes they are expected to slaughter. Otherwise, the good and evil alignments look suspiciously similar.

DON'T stop the negativity.

It wouldn't be D&D without all the anxiety, pain, rage, paranoia, fear, hatred, despair, sarcasm, screaming, threats, innuendo, and self-harm over the tiniest change.

If you can't handle the negativity, my recommendation is to do your best to ignore it, and sit in the corner and quote from Monty Python's Holy Grail movie - that usually fixes everything.

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RumpinRufus wrote:
We've had goblin PCs since 2010. Nothing is changing!!

Goblin PCs have been a part of the game since 2005 as part of D&D 3.5, and, though my memory of earlier editions is a little foggier, I wouldn't be surprised if Goblin PCs weren't part of a game earlier than that, at least as far back as D&D 3.0.

Of course, 2011 would see the first "We Be Goblins" scenario published, focused specifically on Goblin heroes, and adding them to the lore and history of Golarion.

As far as justifying it for the groups who missed/ignored the "We Be Goblins" series, I haven't read the whole thread yet to see if anyone else has answered, but I think we can refer to the "We Be Goblins" series for at least one in-universe explanation:


"We B4 Goblins": (Prequel) "As whelps of the Licktoad tribe just out of their swaddling cages, the goblins Chuffy, Mogmurch, Poog, and Reta must prove themselves by undergoing a series of challenges, from tying a string to a large spider and shouting insults with hot rocks in their mouths to facing off against a goblin bully and his dimwitted minions. As a final test of their mettle, they must make a dangerous (and smelly) trek to claim a toad from the nearby swamp and present it to the terrifying presence that lurks within the Cave of Darkfear, only after which can they truly call themselves goblins! But as the goblins return to the Licktoad village, they come across a brightly colored, jingling human carrying a map to a small farm up the river where a family of halflings are celebrating a wedding—the perfect setup for a goblin raid! Will the heroes acquit themselves in the finest goblin fashion by wreaking havoc upon the nuptials? Or will they be bitten by ferocious dogs and smashed by frying pans?"

"We Be Goblins": "The Licktoad goblins of Brinestump Marsh have stumbled upon a great treasure—fireworks! Yet unfortunately for them, the tribe member responsible for the discovery has already been exiled for the abhorrent crime of writing (which every goblin knows steals words from your head). To remedy this situation, the Licktoads’ leader, His Mighty Girthness Chief Rendwattle Gutwad, has declared that the greatest heroes of the tribe [Reta Bigbad, Chuffy, Poog, and Mogmurch] must venture forth to retrieve the rest of the fireworks from a derelict ship stranded in the marsh. In order to prove themselves as the Licktoads’ bravest goblins, the PCs must complete a series of dangerous dares, from swallowing bull slugs and braving the dreaded Earbiter to dancing with Squealy Nord himself. Yet even once they’ve proven their mettle, the adventure is just beginning. For the ship in question is far from uninhabited, and Vorka the cannibal goblin would like nothing better than a few tasty visitors...."

"We Be Goblins, Too!": "The Licktoads, once the great and fierce goblin tribe in Brinestump Marsh, were defeated by human adventurers! All that remains of the tribe are its four goblin "heroes"—Reta Bigbad the fighter, Chuffy Lickwound the rogue, Poog the cleric of Zarongel, and Mogmurch the alchemist. Homeless and bored, they left their swampy homeland to join the neighboring goblin tribe, the Birdcrunchers. The good news is that the Birdcrunchers are willing to let the goblin heroes join their tribe. The better news is that the Birdcrunchers have heard of these four, and want one of them to become their new chieftain. The bad news is that before the goblins can join, they'll need to endure a series of dangerous and humiliating tests. Very dangerous. Very humiliating. The worse news is that lately Birdcruncher chieftains have had really short lifespans—they're being killed by the pet fire-breathing boar of a local ogre who wants the Birdcruncher land as his own. Can the four heroes of the now-dead Licktoad tribe save the Birdcrunchers and, in so doing, become their new leaders?"

"We Be Goblins, Free!": "After losing chieftain after chieftain, the Birdcruncher goblin tribe finally found competent leadership in its four goblin "heroes"—Reta Bigbad the fighter, Chuffy Lickwound the rogue, Poog the cleric of Zarongel, and Mogmurch the alchemist. But it turns out leading a tribe of goblins isn't much fun, and the newest Birdcruncher chieftains are bored. In order to cure their doldrums, the chieftains have issued a new demand—find them some adventure, or else! Eager to please their great chieftains, the Birdcruncher goblins frantically try to whip up all sorts of amusements, including goblin games, feats of skill, and a grand feast. But trouble arises in the midst of the goblins' feast for their mighty leaders—the goblins who went to harvest truffles for the feast got beat up by some stinky humans! Now the Birdcruncher chieftains find themselves getting more adventure than they bargained for as they venture to the Bestest Truffle Field to pick up the slack for their bumbling minions. Will the goblin heroes be able to make it to the field, find the treasured fungus, defeat the mean humans, and make it back to the tribe in time to enjoy their well-deserved feast?"

In short:

The four legendary Licktoad Goblin heroes began their career as young heroes among their own tribe, and grew up to prove themselves as paragons among their tribe, before the Licktoad tribe was destroyed under the leadership of the all-too conventional and short-sighted Chief Rendwattle Gutwad (His Mighty Girthness), and scattered to the winds. The Licktoad heroes quickly found themselves welcomed and adopted into the Birdcruncher tribe, where they quickly rose to the top of their new tribe as joint leaders and role-models for the other Goblins.

So, who are all these new Goblin adventurers suddenly wandering around seeking adventures?

Some are wandering, homeless Licktoads, inspired by their heroes to adopt the lifestyle of Goblin adventurers. Maybe they will be adopted into other Goblin tribes and become leaders and heroes in their own right, or maybe they will cast their lots in with stinky Longshank and other traditional adventurers, and find their niche there.

Others are Birdcrunchers, sent on quests or also inspired to become adventurers by those same heroes, ultimately further helping the Birdcruncher tribe to flourish even further as a rare center of Goblin civilization.

Still others are Goblin adventurers from neighboring tribes who, quick to notice the success of the Birdcrunchers and connect that success to the efforts of Goblin adventurers and heroes, have produced adventurers of their own to try to compete with their neighbors.

After all, Goblins are relatively short-lived and often child-like people who, by nature, rarely survive far into adulthood and very rarely benefit from each others' experience and leadership, but the Licktoad heroes have done enough good in their own time to become legends and role-models among Goblins, sparking a generation of young Goblin adventurers and heroes in their wake.

How long will this development last? Will it die out when Reta, Chuffy, Poog, and Mogmurch pass from this world into memory, quickly forgotten the moment that younger Goblins are distracted, and return to acting more like savage pests than heroes? Or will this new generation of Goblins inspire another, and generation by generation slowly lead their kind to a stable form of civilization? That depends on the heroism and conduct of this fresh new breed of Goblin heroes, and on the willingness of their skeptical neighbors to set aside their differences and work with these adventurers; perhaps only time will tell how this will work out.

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Jason Bulmahn wrote:

I want to take a moment and talk a bit about the a concern I am seeing here with some frequency, and that is that characters will be streamlined and not customizable. I get that we are using some terms that may lead you to think we are going with a similar approach to some other games, but that is simply not the case.

Characters in the new edition have MORE options in most cases than they did in the previous edition. You can still make the scholarly mage who is the master of arcane secrets and occult lore, just as easily as you can make a character that goes against type, like a fighter who is skilled in botany. The way that the proficiency system works along with skill feats gives you plenty of choices when it comes to skills, allowing you to make the character you want to make.

Beyond skills, every class now has its own list of feats to choose from, making them all pretty different from one another and allowing for a lot of flexibility in how you play. And just wait until you see what Archetypes can do...

Next Monday we will be looking at the way that you level up, and the options that presents. Next Friday (March 16th), we will investigate the proficiency system, and how that impacts your choices during character creation and leveling.

Stay tuned folks... we have a lot of great things to show you

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

I believe this quote is the one we're thinking of, and it's found here, in the comment/discussion for the playtest announcement in the Paizo Blog: Pathfinder-Playtest#discuss

Brew Bird wrote:
Wheldrake wrote:
Being able to play the character concept that you want to play straight out of the gate, from 1st level, is a stated design goal of PF2.0
Do you remember where this was said? I can't seem to find it.

I'm sure I've also seen it said, and it was said pretty early in the history of the public announcement of Pathfinder 2 and its playtest, but I don't remember where. I'm wanting to say it was a reply from a Paizo representative in the discussion attached to the announcement?

If it is an official design goal, hopefully someone from Paizo will see this and add it to the FAQ? (I don't think it's already there - if it is, I missed it when looking a moment ago....)

Stone Dog wrote:
I've always liked the Bleaching myself. It hasn't been a big feature in anything I've run so far, but it is something that gnomes in my game are aware of, but don't talk about. It rarely happens because gnomes are sufficiently into art, exploration and discovery as a culture that it isn't a normal issue. But they know. And like a history of dementia in the family, it worries them sometimes.

I've never seen it used in-game, so I've got no definitive opinion on it one way or the other, but from what I remember of it, I can't see the problem: it looks harmless, and it seems to provide some role-playing options for the player. The Bleaching thing strikes me as being no more or less offensive than D&D "sub-races".

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Stone Dog wrote:

I can see [Goblins] as irrational and generally detached from empathy and perspective, but with a cunning and ingenuity that leads them to having an INT bonus even though they don't normally have much sense. Just as I can see them being driven and intense enough to have a +CHA without them being nice or sociable. And very possibly if you can get them past their cultural taboos, then they might make surprisingly adept wizards, but they normally go for alchemy in that direction.

Nobody expects that of them though, since the normal encounter with goblins leads people to think their apparent insanity is also stupidity....

I think Stone Dog's comments are worth repeating.

Being unwise or slightly mad is not the same thing as lacking "book smarts", and an intelligent people can go a long way with in terms of education without a written language. Goblins may be naive, short-lived, illiterate, distractible, hyperactive, aggressive, and given toward a lack of empathy and a tendency to think with their stomachs, but they have also been portrayed as having a fairly sophisticated culture and a great deal of skill with such complicated skills as music, storytelling, art, alchemy, magic, problem-solving, tool-making, engineering, society-building, complex planning and communication.... Their intelligence doesn't necessarily look like human intelligence, but then why should it? Goblins are an alien folk, with an alien psychology: it shouldn't look like human intelligence, but that difference should not be read as stupidity.

It's also worth noting that the Goblin heroes portrayed in the Goblin scenarios seemed (as appropriate for heroes) to be cut from a different sort of cloth than the average Goblin - they were a little smarter, a little wiser, a little more thoughtful, a little more forward-looking, a little stronger and more nimble and tougher, and more skillful, well-traveled, ambitious, and proactive than their ordinary Goblin counterparts. Goblin heroes are less likely to be the ones that cause mindless, selfish mischief with other people, and more likely to be the selfless leaders and diplomats and lawkeepers of their tribes, and act as the glue that hold their people together.

Goblin heroes aren't the rank-and-file Goblin goon-squads that adventurers slaughter by the dozen in the average dungeon adventure, any more than Human heroes are the rank-and-file bandits, assassins, cultists, or whatever that adventurers might slaughter by the half-dozen in other dungeon adventures.

I, for one, don't really mind that the stats for Goblins, Halflings, and Gnomes aren't all that different on paper - as I see it, if the stats are the only way to tell one character apart from another, it's probably a pretty boring RPG. There should be (and generally seems to be) a lot more to a character's unique "ancestry" than an extra +2 to a stat that nobody else gets - things like interesting and meaningfully different abilities and feats, for example, that nobody else gets, or interesting and meaningfully different backgrounds, skills, spells and such that help them to fill unique roles within the party that nobody else could fill so well. And, at the very least, there are differences in "fluff", such as the character's description, psychology, history, relations with other characters, etc. There are other ways to differentiate character "races" than simply throwing stat bonuses around, and if the design team can give us genuinely unique and exciting differences between Goblins, Halflings, and Gnomes that make all three ancestries interesting to play, without leaning on stat bonuses as the most interesting difference, then I can see that as entirely a win.

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Desferous wrote:

It may be too late, but should there even be classes?

If there is going to be a redesign, how about opening the system to allow people's imaginations to really run?

The class system still boxes people into roles. It seems like systems have danced around it some, but What if there were skill strands based on attributes from which people could learn?

Just like you only have so much time to learn so much, you can be great at one or two skills or mediocre at a few?

Maybe characters could get investment points for particular strands based on primary attributes - intelligence is your primary attribute - you get points for intelligence based skills, same for str, wisdom, dexterity, etc.

I think it's a fair question, and one worth pondering, but the real question is whether D&D players as a general group can handle a game without a rigidly-enforced class system.

I had begun thinking down similar trails earlier this week when I saw yet another complaint or argument over Rogues and Fighters "stepping on each other's toes" in their combat roles or whatever, and someone posted a disgruntled "might as well make them the same class!"

Well, I asked myself, why AREN'T they the same class, with the varying gradations between sneaky trap-finder and scout, the guy with all the unique skills, heavily-armored guy, and heavily-armed guy being a matter of customizable choice from player to player, based on the sort of character the player envisions? There need not be only one class in the game, but perhaps the game could use fewer classes but better options for customizing them. Why not wrap several of the 3rd Edition "muggle" classes up into a single, better-balanced class with a menu of mix-and-match specializations? Why can't the guy with the sharp stick pick locks or bargain with shopkeepers or persuade stubborn NPCs when she isn't poking things with the sharp stick, and why couldn't a party containing two or more of these characters be allowed to customize those characters in ways that complement each other, rather than compete?

The counter to "why not?", is "Because, of course, the general D&D community couldn't handle that break from tradition, and tradition is built around having the skill-guy and pokey-stick-guy arbitrarily divided into a minimum of narrow muggle classes, and the more additional narrowly-divided variations on those two classes that do more or less the same but even more narrowly-defined things with varying degrees of success, the better."

It does occur to me that at various points throughout history and culture, human beings were considered to be "Always Chaotic Evil" by nature.

I think that in the cultures that most of us grew up in, concepts like Natural Evil and Original Sin and so on are largely considered superstition, and human beings have come to be regarded as far more complicated beings than that, but, for a role-playing game like this, we're dealing with a game setting in which all sorts of superstitions, myths, fantasies, and pseudo-sciences are real.

So, perhaps Goblins SHOULD be left with the CE stamp, but Humans, Dwarves, Elves, etc. should ALSO be assumed to be corrupted by Original Sin with evil by default, and similarly stamped with an Evil alignment. There is, after all, something to this.

Let each game table decide for itself, then, whether or not to allow Dwarves, tainted e.g. by the Deadly Sin of Greed, and Elves, tainted e.g. by the Deadly Sin of Pride, or Humans, tainted by every conceivable Deadly Sin into games at their tables as playable races.

I really think that we are in danger of watering down and diluting the power of the likes of Charlie Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein as human monsters by trying to assume that humans are not irredeemably evil monsters by default, and cluttering the game up with too many good humans.

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Berk the Black wrote:
I’m thrilled for all the plants and fey in this set. Plus the Hydra is ici g on the cake. 22 days and counting...

As a Reaper "Bones" unpainted plastic miniatures backer for all the Kickstarters, I've noticed that "more fey" has been a popular fan request for a long time: it seems that fey miniatures are sort of a rarity. It's definitely nice to see Pathfinder Miniatures adding some common ones in! These are some really nice fey miniatures, if the sample picture above is anything to go by - I hope the miniatures are as popular as the requests seem to suggest they will be!

I think that's a good point about the mechanics of reduced speed, Twilight - no doubt, <i>Pathfinder II</i> will find an easier way to handle that within its own version of the mechanics.

It won't make things any easier for those of us who've memorized rules like how many spaces each PF1 character moved, but that's the downside to adapting to any new set of rules, for better or worse.

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Joe M. wrote:

Also! Since I haven't commented on the main post yet, let me just say that I love what we've seen so far about Ancestries. It all looks really cool and like a great and flexible design structure.

I do share the concerns others have identified about characters who don't grow up in the culture of their Ancestry. Separating out Heritage Feats is a great start, but I would love to see a system that is fully designed to separate these aspects to better handle that kind of story. For example, notice the logical misstep in these sequential sentences:

Blog wrote:

You speak Common and Dwarf, as you may expect, and you can see in the dark just fine.

All that represents what's common to all dwarves, and comes from their innate tendencies.

But language, of course, isn't innate. The Goblin babies dropped in the Sandpoint orphanage by generations of adventurers probably don't grow up speaking Goblin! A Dwarf child, the only survivor of her village, is found by adventurers along with her clan dagger—she adventures to discover her past, but never had a chance to learn her ancestral language. Etc. etc.

(I know I'm not the first to point this out. I think someone called it in the Goblin thread, but if there was a direct mention in this thread I missed it so thought I'd drop the note.)

I think I can see why they did things that way - it doesn't make quite as much sense for the languages to be added on as part of the character's Background/profession, for example, or certainly as part of the character's Class (the character might normally learn the Dwarven language as part of his education growing up as a Dwarven farmer, but then it would get kind of unmanageable to draw the distinctions between backgrounds as Dwarven, Elven, Hobbit, Human, Orc, Goblin, etc. farmers mechanically - best to keep the mechanics more generic, and let the player fill in as many blanks as the player likes with descriptive text.)

It's probably easier to just work on the assumption that the character was raised speaking his/her "racial language" (whatever that actually means), and house-rule the exceptions as needed - and, fortunately, that seems easy enough to do.

It's probably just as easy, and better still, to just gain a choice of languages instead of set languages as an innate part of the Ancestry, with Dwarves and Elves assumed to have one more more "extra" languages compared to humans due to their longer life-spans... the suggested defaults would be Common for humans, and Common and e.g. Dwarven for Dwarves, though players wouldn't HAVE to choose the defaults - maybe that Dwarf orphan grew up speaking Common with his human family, and maybe chose to learn Dwarven on his own later on from an eccentric Elven tutor - or, then again, maybe the Dwarf chose instead to learn Goblin from his time growing up on a human farm trading produce to Goblin tribes outside of town for bland mushrooms, rare medicines made from licking toads, and shiny metal things dug up from some secret location known only to the Goblin muck-rakers in the swamps outside of town..... I would like having the choice to pick an offbeat language for background's sake if I wanted to, instead of taking a default "innate" language I had no choice over, and I'll be surprised if that's not the way they go with it. Even so, it's still easy to house-rule around, if it comes to that.

I'll confess to being skeptical that Pathfinder II would run in a direction that really gave me the options needed to create an outside-the-box character, but what I'm seeing so far is looking really promising - when the stolid old ELF and DWARF characters in a D&D game actually look fresh and exciting again, and I find myself itching for a chance to see what I can do with just the core options for those characters alone and I start getting that eerie feeling that deciding during character creation that "my Dwarf grew up as a Sailor on his great-great-grandfather's fishing boat before he was recruited as a Ranger in the Derro Wars" is something that actually results in real chances to later use that background to do something cooler than become a smudged footnote on the character sheet forgotten by the GM, I figure that's got to be a good sign.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Snickersnax wrote:
Does anyone else feel like Paizo goblins are becoming more like Disney characters? #Experiment 626
Considering that Disney owns like Darth Vader, Wolverine, Homer Simpson, Indiana Jones, and Kermit the Frog, I don't even know what "Disney Character" means anymore.

For my part, I feel like Paizo Goblins have moved from a VERY narrow stereotype, to a not-so-narrow stereotype with a few new implied role-playing options to make them a little more viable for use in an RPG party, and a larger number of more explicit mechanical options meant to try to placate the optimizers with.

Better support for playing outside of stereotypes in interesting ways would be appreciated - it's too early to say whether Pathfinder II will try to do this, but I'll wait and see.

(As for the reference, I'm afraid it really was a bit too obscure for me. I fail at pop-culture references....)

Snickersnax wrote:

Well #Experiment 626 = Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, guess I was a little to obscure

"Stitch, who is genetically engineered by his creator to cause chaos and destruction,....[His] bond [with Lilo] causes him to reconsider and later defy his intended destructive purpose..." wikipedia

Actually, that sounds interesting to me, and I could see several interesting ways the idea could be worked into Goblin character development.

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MerlinCross wrote:

...I actually wouldn't have a problem with Goblins. If Paizo didn't seem to have made such a nice box to shove Goblins into. Now they seem to want to undo that and well, I believe the saying is "Painting themselves into a corner"? Other races got to do other things but Paizo, at least to my knowledge and I don't look into the lore of much unless I'm playing with it so I'd like to think this is common or 'general' knowledge, Goblins are just tiny menaces with teeth, fire and goblin speech and song. And people liked that so they pushed it a bit more. Now they seem to need to undo some of that pushing.

This is one person's ranting though....

That is one objection I've seen that I can get behind completely: that Paizo effectively cut off (or at least complicated unnecessarily) many interesting options by playing up the Always-Chaotic-Evil "trope" early on, and leaving themselves with very little room to back out of it without ret-conning their earlier work.

That's a fair enough objection. They're effectively trying to have their old cake and eating it too without anyone noticing, and then leaving it in the GMs' court to try to home-brew their way out of it by reading between the lines and assuming the implied options are still there even if Paizo aren't explicitly mentioning them, or are officially denying they exist. That's kind of an unfair burden to place on GMs, and a bit short-sighted as well. I suspect it's an over-reaction that was meant to compete directly with Eberron's (and, I believe, Planescape's) relatively open/nuanced treatment of races, classes, and alignments back when Eberron (and Planescape) was a thing, and now, thanks to the way the Golarion canon is being managed, Paizo are stuck with with their more reactionary characterizations, until they (or, more likely, imaginative GMs and players) can find some way to ease the alternatives in without rocking too many boats....

Even now, Paizo seems to be reluctant to explicitly say "whatever we said in the past, Goblin characters can - and should - be more interesting than just chaotic-evil fire-starting cannibal murder-hobo pests that can't cooperate with anyone except Goblin hordes, Hobgoblins, Bugbears, Orcs, evil necromancers, chaotic gods, priests of various disparate Lovecraftian religions, dungeon keepers of every variety, PCs when Adventure Paths call for it, and.... well, you know, Goblins can't cooperate with anyone - and yet, they're still diverse enough that they can still be interesting villains, too, just like human, elf, dwarf, or even halfling or gnome NPCs, which we might have to go back to the drawing board for because it just occurred to Yronimos that all those other races must also be too 'watered down' and 'diluted' to make interesting villains of, too!"

I guess what I'm saying is that I really do agree that the extremist "fluff" that painted Goblins into a very narrow box are really unfortunate - that fluff, as always, is NOT the same thing as rules, but, the Golarion setting being the relatively stable thing thing that it is by nature of the way Paizo supports it, it's really hard for many groups to see the difference between Golarion's old "fluff" and unbreakable rules....

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ThePuppyTurtle wrote:
...I don't agree that people will be the same way with their dwarfs and elves. Some might, but people generally don't....

I have seen some equivalents to that, in the form of various incarnations of Axebeard McFunnyAccent the Angry Dwarf and Longears Tree-Hugger the Snobby Elf highjacking entire game sessions with infighting "because that's how you're supposed to play them", along with Backstabby Steals-Your-Gear the "Rouge" Rogue stealing the party's gear and Sir Pious Preach-A-Lot the Paladin kiling party members for swearing or flirting with barmaids instead of helping little old ladies cross the street "because that's in the rules".

I've tried banning those classes before, only to find that it never helps: bad players just find new ways to play badly, and it ends up leading to a game of race/class/alignment-banning whack-a-mole.

Speaking of alignment, I've always found alignment to be the worst of the bunch for bringing out the worst in bad role-players. Unlike race and class, however, alignment opens up few (if any options) for character concepts, while (especially in 3rd Edition and later D&D) adding almost nothing mechanically to character options, and arguably less than nothing for role-playing support (those who can role-play, do so just fine without alignment; those who can't role-play, seem to get worse when using alignment as a crutch). I'd get behind dropping alignment from D&D entirely, if I thought Paizo could get away with it without sparking a table-flipping, dice-throwing riot, but that's perhaps a conversation for another time, beyond mentioning that I'd say that I've seen more alignment-related role-playing problems than race-related, and in the case of Goblins, it's that CE stamped somewhere in a First Edition Monster Manual that's probably the source of more game-table Goblin grief than anything else....

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Laird IceCubez wrote:
CrystalSeas wrote:
Friendly Rogue wrote:
PCScipio wrote:

Some more food for thought: Goblins of Purity.

** spoiler omitted **

"...all while maintaining the rip-roaring fun that being an arsonist or a baby-eater brings."

"- An exciting reworking of the alignment system that allows you to play arsonists and baby-eaters while still being good-aligned"

This is my point exactly.

You do realize that you're making your point with an April Fools Day joke, right? Kinda like quoting the Onion as a factual source.
I mean, the whole joke is that Goblins being a playable race is a joke. That's what made it funny, the unbelievability of it....

Actually, especially with the first "We Be Goblins" adventure being released only a couple months later, and almost certainly being under development and play-testing at the time the April Fool's post was made, and Goblins as a playable PC race dating back even further to 3rd Edition D&D, I get the impression that the joke wasn't the unbelievability of a Goblin PC, but rather the over-the-top objections to Goblins as PCs.

Note, for example, that the punchlines to the joke include things like groups being forced to include at least one Goblin PC, being forced to use a reworked alignment system that allows Lawful Good Goblin Paladins to eat babies, and the implication that nobody could be a Goblin PC before (when, as mentioned, the option has been around at least as far back as 3rd Edition D&D) - pretty much the same sorts of over-the-top objections that are being made now.

The success of the "We Be Goblins" series seems to suggest that Goblins proved to be a viable PC race without tables being forced to use them, without reworked alignment systems, and with only a little compelling fluff and support from Paizo to make use of an option that was always there by implication - not to mention without the need of a "Goblinomicon", reworked core pantheon, etc. And, I'm sure, Pathfinder II will work out just fine without the need for anything like that, if GMs and players are willing to give Goblin characters both the chance and the diversity of character and motivation that human characters enjoy at a healthy gaming table.

Actually, the more I see of that joke, the more it looks like a mix of the "what's the worst that could happen" objections and the humorous left-overs of the creative team's brain-storming sessions for "We Be Goblins" - the ideas that might have been tossed into the hat as jokes or as first-thing-that-comes-to-mind-even-if-it's-silly ideas that nobody could find a way to say "that's so crazy, it might just work" to. Taken together, the April Fool's joke and the first "We Be Goblins" look like Paizo stretching its legs a little after a lot difficult work on one of their projects, and taking some time to have a little creative fun on the Golarion playground with toys they made, but haven't had a chance to play with yet.

That the original "We Be Goblins" was quickly followed by three sequels, a couple quite detailed and colourful Goblin-related supplement books, a comic series, and a couple lines of toys suggests that they hit on something that caught not just the imagination of their own creative and marketing staff, but also the imaginations of some significant part of the Pathfinder fanbase.

Over the last seven years, Paizo's Goblin mythos has, as a result, become quite detailed and well-developed compared to many of the other player character race options, becoming a signature part of Paizo's intellectual property in the process.

To me, it seems perfectly natural that a subset of this material - along with a subset of any as-yet unpublished Goblin content - would be embraced by Paizo into the core rulebook: Paizo has the material, they have been using it to create scenarios and other products with, those products have been a success over several years, and like any core race or class or monster or whatever a core Goblin PC race (er, "ancestry") would be optional, so why not include it in core?

For those complaining about other PC races "deserving" to be core instead, what other PC race has Paizo created with better adventure, background material, and miniatures support, and distinct Paizo/Golarion flavor and association behind them?

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Lucas Yew wrote:
Frankly, all this goblin hate creeps me out for the sheer racism factor oozing out....

I haven't had a chance to read the entire thread yet, but that's part of what I'm getting out of the big objection to goblin PCs - that, and the fact that absolutely NONE of the detractor comments I've seen so far have even TRIED to employ the old "yes, and..." improv approach to role-playing, which, to me, has always been the biggest obstacle that D&D (in any of its incarnations) has had toward anything imaginative. "Goblin PC? No, you can't do that, not at my table. All Goblins are always X, all Dwarves are always Y, All Elves are always Z, and all humans are always boring. If you're a Rogue, you have to act like A, if you're a Paladin you have to always B, and if you're a Fighter, you always have to be a big, dumb C....."

I think the supporters who effectively say "The descriptions we get of Goblins are basically written by unreliable narrators!" or "Goblin history hasn't been written by Goblins" are also on the right track.

I'd feel encouraged if ANY detractors were to say "I'd be happy to work with Goblin PCs, if Paizo were to fix ______ or change _______ ...." I'd feel encouraged if ANY detractors were to say "Goblin PCs? Yes, and they also [insert cool change or addition here]!"

I'm not really very encouraged by the broad extent of the whole attitude of "NO. NEVER at my table! DON'T WANT! DON'T LIKE! You MUST ALWAYS play THIS character race and THIS class in EXACTLY this way, or I flip the table! Green is not a creative colour when I'm in charge!"

And make no mistake: when I see "not at my table", what I understand that to mean is not "unfortunately, I've never seen it work out that way at my table" (which would be sad, as an indictment of the individual players that have tried it and failed), but rather "I won't LET it happen at my table!" (which is far sadder, and more an indictment of the limitations of the GM and the group who refused to even try allowing something imaginative or fantastic, than a failure of any single player in an isolated incident or in a trend that seemed to fail because something I'm willing to fix was broken or missing!)

Or, perhaps like this famous scene from Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon"...

Your PCs - and worthy villains - are like Bruce Lee in no-more-Mister-Nice-Guy mode, in a world full of mooks....

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Paizo is selling "non-mint" complete Beginner Box sets for under $30 US right now.

My experience with Paizo's "non-mint" products has been great so far: at worst, the non-mint products I've ordered from them have had minor shelf wear. (Your mileage may vary.)

I think the price is worth it - the Beginner Box is a nice, convenient product, and Paizo are, no doubt, selling the "mint" copies already pretty close to the price it costs them to manufacture it. I doubt you could produce or source the individual parts separately for very much cheaper. (The cost for about 30 pawns (about $6-7), a flip-mat (about $16), and a set of dice (about $6) will set you back that much anyway - the nice printed copies of the rule books, adventure books, and character sheets - not to mention the nice storage box - would just be icing on that cake!)

I've not looked around Ebay or anything like that, either - it's possible you might find a used copy containing at least the parts you want for even cheaper.

In any event, I'm tempted to snap up a couple of those non-mint boxes for myself: they would make great gifts for people who are into RPGs and so on.

I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:


Don't forget "Herbert West - Reanimator."

Lovecraft wrote more than one good story about necromancy - "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" is another good one, at least for necromancer antagonists. "The Outsider" is a fun little necromancy story told from an unusual point of view.

I seem to recall that at least the first Brian Lumley "Necroscope" novel involved a protagonist who could talk to the dead.

The "Ghost Whisperer" television series was certainly about a protagonist who didn't really raise the dead, but could see and talk to ghosts, and try to help the spirits pass on to the other side. I'd say this sort of character probably fits the "medium" archetype more than the "necromancer", but is probably a bit closer in line to most classic real-life cases of necromancy than the modern fantasy archetype is.

Those mediums who hold seances, table-knocking, and such are even closer to real-life necromancy - the no doubt ancient tradition of using fake necromancy to scam victims is no doubt a large part of the origin of the negative stigma around necromancy. That's right on target with Aaron Bitman's assessment that necromancy has classically been about money.

There's also the "voodoo" zombie master thing, where sorcerers could raise the dead as slaves perhaps for revenge or other emotional reasons, but probably for economic reasons of forcing the slaves to work on plantations for the sorcerer's benefit.

Like Drejk said, there's really a dearth of fantasy literature about protagonist necromancers, as modern fantasy computer and p&p RPGs have defined the character type.

Perhaps your best bet would be to work alongside the player as she develops her own character and try to help fill in any blanks that she runs into?

Ninjaphoenix wrote:
As the subject title states, and I'm kind of at a loss and would like some suggestions. My group consists of veterans from the 3.5 era, but a couple new to Pathfinder, yet that's not the problem. Whenever combat isn't happening getting the players to make a decision on what their characters want to do is killing the pace of the game. If I give them more than one adventure hook they freeze up like deer in headlights, yet they insist that they want options. Even asking what their characters are going to do when they are in a town I get blank expressions. We can play for 5 hours with maybe two being productive and the other three is me eventually having to lead them by the hand. Even from asking "What do you want to do?" to saying "Do you want to do (x,y, or z)?" I get the same look. It's gotten to the point where I'm not really wanting to play anymore. Does anyone have any advice on how to fix this problem?

Have you asked them why they won't answer when you ask "do you want to do x, y, or z?", and whether there's anything you can do or change to help? They might have a revealing answer.

They're all veterans from the 3.5 era... were they all in the same group? It sounds like you might be dealing with a case of a kind of learned helplessness, which might be the result of some particular DMing style they were all exposed to in the past. Perhaps it's something as mild as the DM failing to give them meaningful or interesting choices until they just don't want to take the trouble of making choices since it was always futile in the past, or as serious and unpleasant as the DM deliberately punishing them for making decisions by putting them constantly in situations where any choice they made would backfire on them. Or maybe they played with a player who wouldn't share the spotlight, and would belittle or override their decisions.

In such cases, it might be understandable that they were effectively trained not to speak up, take initiative, and make decisive choices - I know I've been in a game or two where DMPCs, for example, have left me feeling that way!

If it's a case of learned helplessness, you might need to slowly and gently ease them into making bigger, tougher decisions, by starting with easier, clearer ones with less at stake for making a "wrong" choice. Maybe some confidence- and trust-building exercises are in order?

Or, you might simply have a group full of followers in need of a leader, who feel that it's presumptuous and impolite to speak up and try to make a decision for the group. If this is the case, you might need to get together with them, and designate a leader who is responsible for making the decisions. The character with the highest CHA or WIS, perhaps, or the character who gets the best initiative roll at the beginning of the session, or they take turns, or one character makes choices in combat, another in exploration, another when talking to NPCs, etc., so that there's always at least one person in the group who has a clear right and responsibility to speak up and make a choice.

In any event, I don't think it's intolerant to want and try to offer your players choices, and then feel disappointed when they won't make any decisions on things that effect their characters. There are DMs who would LOVE to have a silent and captive audience with a set of puppet PCs who do exactly what the DM tells them to do, and who would gladly trade places with you - but who would want to play a game with those DMs? I would say it's definitely not a bad thing to want to encourage your players to take a more active role in the group hobby - in my experience, everyone has more fun when everyone is participating.

It's up to your players during character creation to choose motivations for their characters to work together and do interesting things.

You can encourage them to do this, guide them, and make suggestions - in fact, it's in your best interest to do this, particularly when you have inexperienced/new players involved.

However, unless you are dealing with Pre-Gens, if you have to think of the motivations for the players and do the heavy lifting of providing interesting motivation and other characterization for them, something is wrong.

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TheRealHoratio wrote:

I've been playing D&D for about 15 years now, through editions 3, 3.5, and 4th. I've always been the DM, and have run content for groups of between 2 and 6 players. Everyone I've played with before has made fun, interesting characters using maybe only one or two sourcebooks, all of which you would probably say weren't exactly "optimized". I never disallowed any books in my games, or banned any races or classes because they didn't "fit". When someone came to me with a character that they wanted to conceptualize, I would usually help them get there, because being able to play what you find attractive is a big part of the game.

I had to take a break for about 4 years, due to moving away from my old players and not being able to find new ones, but I recently came across a group that wants me to GM a Pathfinder game for them. During the character creation questions, I disallowed 3rd party material, cause I've read threads on here talking about some of the stuff that's out there, so I decided to just keep it limited to Paizo books. They told me what classes and races they wanted to be, which sounded fine, so I gave the greenlight on everything. Now, it is getting close to our first session, and I'm discovering the actual characters these guys have made, and it honestly has me terrified.

We're talking about basically a flesh golem of rules, stitched together from maybe 5 or 6 books apiece, in what I can only describe as less of an actual character and more just shiny numbers on paper. From reading threads on these forums, it's what I suppose you would call min/maxing, or optimization, which as I understand is very commonplace in the Pathfinder game system. What makes me feel even worse is that I tacitly allowed it. I figured that since I had never played with these guys before, I wouldn't say no to anything, or disallow any content except for 3rd party stuff, but I had no idea of the extent to which it would be taken.

Is that just how people play the game now? Is it really treated like an adversarial...

I think I can understand where you're coming from... it's a variation on what I've described as the "Half-Vampire, Half-Drow, Half-Dragon, Half-Werewolf, Half-Dinosaur, Half-Demon, Half-Angel, Half-Anime Ninja/Pirate/Robot/Gunslinger/Barbarian/Wizard-Cleric/Samurai" character - with the emphasis on trying to collect the biggest bunch of awesome numbers, rather than the biggest bunch of cool character gimmicks.

It's not so much that a Vampire Drow Ninja can't possibly be a fun and interesting character with some fun stories to be told about him.

Rather, it's more like I feel like I'm not even playing the same game after a certain point.

And I think that which side of that point the character is on will be evident when, as some of the replies above suggested, you spend a little time talking to the player about the character's back story and personality:

If you ask the player to tell you a little bit about who his character is, what she believes in, what her hopes and dreams are, who her friends and family are, what her greatest disappointment in life was, or what one thing the character did that her parents were particularly proud of, and you get a blank look, followed by some variation on "She's the party DPS character... the DPS numbers are awesome, she just kicks ass!", then you and the player are probably in the game with very different (and possibly incompatible) expectations and motivations.

There's probably something to be said about you adjusting your expectations and motivations to conform to what the player wants, or about trying to adjust the player's expectations and motivations to meet your tastes, or working together to meet half-way. And, from glancing over the replies above, I suppose plenty has been said about that already.

Really, though, this probably comes down more to a communication thing that probably needs to be sorted out before you ever commit to joining a group: an honest conversation about what each of you wants from the game, what your gaming style is, and what your gaming pet peeves are. Then, it's time to decide whether you're really a good fit for the group, after all.

Jesse Heinig wrote:
...I have no time for gamer Nuremberg defense.

I like that way of putting it.

It's especially worthy of eye-rolling when it's effectively a matter of "I was only following orders issued by my imaginary character!"

Any player who feels the need to say "sorry, but it's all Not Me's fault", especially in a group of people who are normally pretty good at the whole "yes, and..." routine, has totally failed to communicate and cooperate in a social hobby that depends on communication and cooperation.

I'm with lynora: if everyone's having fun, then you're doing it right. If they're not having fun, then the other advice is great.

The only thing I should add is that, in my experience, play-by-email games really give a lot of great opportunities for creativity, and they're a blast to play as long as the GM gives the players the breathing room to participate, and they seem to provide some of the best character interaction I've ever seen. But, I've never seen a play-by-email game ever resolve any major plots: they're frustratingly like reading the first few exciting chapters of a book, only to find that the authors abandoned the story without finishing it. Real Life takes over, players or GMs get distracted and wander away, and the play-by-email game just fades away after a while. It seems to be the nature of the thing, and if it happens to you, don't take it personally.

Good luck in any case, and have fun! :)

Reebo Kesh wrote:

Firstly didn't there used to be a GM thread?

Hey guys need some creative help. I want to start a game with the a group of 1st level PCs waking up on a remote island with no memory of how they got there but with all their gear intact. All they remember is going to sleep and waking up on the beach.

Ideas I'm NOT looking for are

- The PCs are dead and this is the afterlife

- The PCs were shipwrecked

So basically I need ideas for

- How the PCs got there?

- Why the PCs are there?

- How do they get home?

Any help would be appreciated


A campaign I'd started writing up but never got around to using (somewhat home-brewed Ravenloft-style 3.5 setting):

A group of PCs wake up dressed only in medical patients' gowns, with splitting headaches and strange marks on their heads and no memory, in a ruined office located at 221B Baker Street... a search of the office would reveal a stained photograph of the party together at the opening of what is actually their detective agency. They can find clothes that fit and gear mouldering in their rooms upstairs. Begin character creation.

In the dark, foggy streets outside, they find the (fantasy) city under quarantine due to a strange plague, their detective agency has been abandoned for years since their mysterious disappearance, and many strange things have been happening in the city lately.

The party can resume their old job, and the first few adventures would be monster-of-the-week type horror adventures (such as tracking down a Jack the Ripper slasher, investigating a haunted house, reports of horrible monsters and bizarre cults, interviews with patients at a local sanitarium, etc.) that at first seem to have little in common with each other.

As time goes by, the party would begin finding more and more clues that reveal that their last case before their disappearance involved an investigation into the city's sewers, and their disappearance and loss of memory was the result of a sinister conspiracy by Deros and Illithids living under the city, leading up to a descent into the Darklands....

I can see where the original poster is coming from.

It's not that it limits EVERYONE's creativity, but for every success story from someone who's had no problem with it, I'm sure there's a horror story from someone who's effectively been told "you can't do that!" from players and/or GMs when trying to break free from a class stereotype that barely exists in fluff, let alone the actual mechanics.

For example, I've had groups I had to walk away from that wanted to argue that Fighters can't be smart, or that Rogues had to be dishonest lawbreakers who steal from the party, or Paladins had to be obnoxiously good and at the same time had to be tricked into falling, and so on.

And it's not just class stereotypes that seem to be lodged into some sort of unwritten gaming oral tradition... it happens with races (try playing a Dwarf that gets along great with Elves and doesn't speak in a bad accent in some groups!), monsters (in spite of Goblins having roughly human intelligence and wisdom and Dragons over a certain age having super-human intelligence and wisdom, try portraying intelligent Goblins or thoughtful Dragons in some groups!), alignments (there's a good reason for the existence of the cynical jokes about lawful/chaotic/good/evil/neutral-stupid alignments), and so on.

To be fair, I see it much more often in "vanilla" D&D than I do in Pathfinder, but I still see it in Pathfinder as well.

I'm not sure anything can be done about it, though - those who get it, get it. But those who can't tell the difference between 'crunch', 'fluff', 'house rules', and '40-something years of accumulated stereotyped baggage that doesn't exist in any modern rule book anywhere and probably never did' will flip the tables if you try too hard to separate these concepts with the wrong groups.

VM mercenario wrote:
yronimos wrote:

I'm afraid I'm only familiar with "Dresden Files" by way of the canceled TV show, and I don't remember much at all about Michael.

But, is "Paladin" really the best class to represent what the character can do? Perhaps there's another character class with abilities that are closer?

If you don't know the character why would you think Paladin isn't the right class?

A better question might be, "why should I think that the obvious (or at least the first) choice of D&D Class is necessarily the best fit for a non-D&D character concept?"

It's been my experience that D&D classes can be some fairly strange and specific things that as seemingly obvious first choices rarely fit a non-D&D character concept very neatly. For example, the Barbarian class would probably be one of the worst choices for modeling Conan the Barbarian in D&D.

And, in the case of the D&D Paladin, there are many other options that can cover similar ground to the Paladin: Clerics are an obvious choice if healing magic is involved, but Bards, Druids, multi-class characters like Wizard-Rogues or Sorceror-Fighters, or any of a bewildering number of third-party classes and prestige classes can, with a quick re-write of the flavor text and the addition of a little character background and an optional code of ethics, model a miracle-working holy-warrior character.

Put another way - a quote from the original post: "I find Michel carpenter to be the best example of a paladin I have found in fiction...." - This character might be the best example of a paladin in fiction, but is the D&D Paladin necessarily a good enough example of a paladin in fiction?

With dozens or hundreds of other Class options out there and no particularly good reason that I've seen to write all but one of them off yet, I'm only suggesting keeping your options open.

I agree with Sissyl: your mileage will probably vary on how well an 11-year-old audience can handle Gilgamesh, and the same goes for Beowulf, Arabian Nights, and Canterbury Tales. I'd come across most of these by age 11 and handled them alright, but the archaic language is probably a bit difficult and some of the themes are probably a bit advanced for younger readers. If the kids are reading a bit ahead of their peers, though, all of these do have their moments.

I'll be surprised if you'll find an example of healer Clerics anywhere in fantasy literature... that seems to be a unique invention of D&D.

"The Hobbit" is probably not a bad place for young readers to start for fantasy, and might hint a bit at what a party of characters looks like. They might be able to pick some Rogues and maybe a couple other classes out of the cast of characters, and Gandalf the wizard of course, but "The Hobbit" probably isn't the best example of any particular D&D class.

"John Carter of Mars" and the first couple sequels, for a start on the whole Dungeons & Dragons thing: you've got sword-wielding adventurers delving into dungeons to meet (and usually fight) weird monsters in a fantasy version of Mars on a regular basis there. John Carter himself is probably the closest match to a classic D&D Fighter.

Robin Hood and his band are one of the closer literary matches to the Rogue, at least, though some argument could be made that there's probably a bit of Ranger and other classes involved there as well. (I had a great hardback version of Robin Hood's adventures when I was 11, but I really don't remember which versions of the story are the best for kids.)

King Arthur and his knights could be expected to touch on Fighters, Cavaliers, Paladins, or other martial types. (Again, I had read at least some versions of the King Arthur story at age 11, but I don't remember which versions are most suitable for kids.)

Robert E. Howard's "Conan the Barbarian" stories are not a bad place to look for a Fighter or Rogue type, either.

Strangely, the Conan stories are probably NOT the best place to look for an example of Barbarians... perhaps try Edgar Rice Burroughs' original "Tarzan" stories for the Barbarian archetype instead?

Fritz Lieber's "Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser" series seems like a good place to look for Wizards and Barbarians, at least for oler readers, though I don't remember how appropriate the stories are for younger readers (I could certainly have handled more adult themes at age 11, but I'm not so sure about other readers....)

The "Kung Fu" television series is probably the best example of Monks I can think of, as used in D&D, and I really can't think of any literature that portrays them quite as well.

In one sense, it's probably mostly because it's what I grew up hearing: both of my parents were fans of horror movies, and that sort of thing winds up in horror movie soundtracks all the time. My parents were both also fans of very weird rock music, so I grew up on a mix of psychedelic and prog rock and all the weirdness that stuff comes with.

In another sense (probably a result of the other), one of the things that draws me to music of any kind has always been the dark mood, broken rules, the unexpected in structure and movement, the weird spaces punctuated by claustrophobic noises, and those wonderful moments of mystery instrumentation where I get to wonder about "what the heck was that noise?"

For anyone who might be interested, back in the 1980s someone attempted to reconstruct Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" (Link), to restore the lost original choreography as closely as possible, along with the costumes and scenery designed by Roerich (an influence on H.P. Lovecraft). The ballet is about a human sacrifice in a fantasy version of pagan Europe, and between visual artist Roerich, composer Stravinsky, and choreographer Nijinsky, the whole thing was put together by mystics, eccentrics, and schizophrenics; the weird visuals, bizarre music, and inhuman movements of the dancers in the original production sparked violent, angry, screaming, chaotic riots in audiences, like something out of R.W. Chambers' "The King in Yellow". (To me, the reproduction doesn't look like the sort of thing anyone would pitch a riot over: I found it beautiful, if somewhat weird and alien.)

What would Jean Claude Van Damme's chances be of making a comeback as an under-paid washed-up actor in our "Flash Gordon" thud-and-blunder fantasy film? And, who do we cast him as?

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*Mutters something about F.A.T.A.L.*

OK, I guess it depends on the game world agreed to by your DM and group.

Because, in the real world, shocked Victorian archaeologists would routinely find all sorts of porn, in the form of sculptures, mosaics, frescoes, decorations on pottery, and more in temples, churches, markets, government buildings, and so on. It seems that at times in human history, "Lawful Normal" porn was an every-day thing for some cultures, and included gay porn, porn involving satyrs and fauns and other mythological beings, porn involving animals, and even the occasional naughty tentacles porn (no, really), and any of the endless varieties of more "vanilla" stuff you can think of. Certainly, it's taken for granted now that prostitution in various forms was a normal part of some ancient religions, and perhaps the paintings and mosaics were advertisements for what visitors to these cities could expect to find at the local temples.

It's probably not an area I'd have ever considered exploring in any of my games, and really not one I'm interested in exploring now, but, if that's where your group's going, then I guess your imagination is the limit, and you need not be bound by today's mores and taboos.

Just please: respect each others' boundaries, keep it legal, and don't do anything that will end up on national news and in Jack Chick comics as yet another example of the creepy things role players get up to....

If you've ever read "At the Mountains of Madness", remember too that the Shoggoths were able to shape limbs and sensing organs at will or under hypnotic suggestion, and were essentially built as living, tool-using construction equipment by a godlike alien species that the Shoggoths successfully rebelled against and (to a shakier degree) imitated in writing, art, speech, culture, etc.

H.P.Lovecraft wrote:
[The Shoggoths] had always been controlled through the hypnotic suggestions of the Old Ones, and had modeled their tough plasticity into various useful temporary limbs and organs; but now their self-modeling powers were sometimes exercised independently, and in various imitative forms implanted by past suggestion. They had, it seems, developed a semistable brain whose separate and occasionally stubborn volition echoed the will of the Old Ones without always obeying it.... They had... a constantly shifting shape and volume - throwing out temporary developments or forming apparent organs of sight, hearing, and speech in imitation of their masters, either spontaneously or according to suggestion.

You're dealing with intelligent creatures that can ooze their way through tiny spaces that adventurers can't get to, command the strength, constitution and dexterity to lift gigantic stones into place to build vast cyclopean cities, shape the limbs needed to walk or run or swim or fly, form the organs needed to imitate speech, form the organs necessary to employ all the five senses available by default to PCs plus any of a variety of alien sixth senses, imitate other creatures or objects, communicate and collaborate with other Lovecraftian henchmonsters and team members, build and use tools and weapons, mastermind BBEG plots, learn to use magic or gain levels in PC Classes, and much much more.

With all that in mind, consider the titular monster from John Carpenter's "The Thing", and everything The Thing could do to make the protagonists' lives "interesting" (and by "interesting", I mean "a stark, screaming, paranoiac nightmare") - a Shoggoth could conceivably do any of that, and more.

Really, there's no reason that a Shoggoth couldn't be the most interesting (and terrifying) monster the PCs have ever fought....

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Perhaps "New Guy gets first choice of characters" should be a house rule at every table.

Why should Players with the most experience and the best grasp on the rules being given the chance to sit on the easiest classes to play, and force the newbies to scrape something out of the leftovers?

And, for a group of thoroughly experienced players, just let them play whatever characters they want to play - any decent lower-level modern module, scenario, or competent home-brew adventure will have multiple ways of solving each problem built into it, ranging from "Kill 'em all and steal their stuff", to "sneak or fast-talk or think your way around them". (A group of Higher-level characters can be expected to find alternative ways around problems, whether you build them into the adventure or not, so they should be fine doing whatever they want to do.)

thegreenteagamer wrote:
Even if it was hero points, gp, an item, or even just kudos, the point is healers are underappreciated even when they save your @$$ and you would've died without them.

Repeat after me:

"Oops, I've accidentally broken my character's Code of Honor, and lost my [healer] powers! I won't be able to do any of my usual [healer] activities, like [healing people], until I feel like I've done enough good for this party to properly atone!"

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Sadly, good role-players never needed alignment to figure out how characterization works, while mediocre and troubled role-players have - at best - never really been helped by it, and at worst been led pretty far off target by it.


I'd say the areas where D&D alignment shines are:

1. As a way of designating factions or teams in the D&D Miniatures Game, in the same spirit that the color factions are used in the Magic: The Gathering card game.

2. As someone mentioned above, Alignment can be a useful tool for characterizing the alien "Outsiders" from weird magical planes of extreme Law, Chaos, Evil, and Good: gods, angels, devils, demons, and the rest of that unearthly, inhuman cast operate based on alignment, because they lack the free will that humans and human stand-ins (Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Vulcans, Wookiees, etc.) are characterized by. Similarly, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth are neat tools for determining how Elementals from alien Elemental planes work, but don't work so well for characterizing humans.

Alignment is of questionable value for:

* Use by lazy/overworked/rushed GMs for characterizing stock NPCs, without having to give much thought to individual motivation or characterization. "These Indians spot some cowboys. What do they do? They go on the warpath, of course, because Indians are Always Chaotic Evil!" One doesn't have to worry too much about why the Orcs are raiding villages - there's a CE on their stat blocks, so Orcs do unlawful and mean things because they are CE, and they are CE because they do unlawful and mean things, and that's all you need to know about them.

Alignment is really not a good tool for:

* Creating characters with any depth. In fact, Alignment does just the opposite of creating characters with depth: Alignment is a collection of nine stereotypes to choose from, and then follow to a greater or lesser degree depending on how closely you want to force yourself to follow them, or get forced to follow them by someone else (e.g., the GM).

Just drop Alignment from the game, and refer to it only on the occasions when you are dealing with extra-planar alien entities like angels, devils, demons, and gods. The handful of rules that relate to Alignment (detect alignment, smite, etc.) should be easy enough to sort out in any cases that don't involve such beings.

Instead, encourage your players to come up with better reasons, characterizations, and motivations than Alignment for the nice, mean, obedient, rebellious, and indifferent things their characters do.

And, if you aren't already doing so as a GM, do your players a favor and find better reasons, motives, and characterizations for your humanoid NPCs to do the things that they do, too.

There's zillions of RPGs that work just fine without Alignment and almost never hear of the "Stupid" alignment complaints, and it's not like alignment is up there with one of the truly defining elements of D&D, as if I'm suggesting running a game of D&D with no dungeons or dragons in it.

Your good role-players will never miss Alignment, and your mediocre players have a good chance of finally getting the whole role-playing thing once they can start seeing the Characterization Forest past the Alignment Tree. (Your bad role-players, on the other hand, will probably flip the table, but something tells me they'll flip the table eventually, anyway, or else drive someone else to, so you might as well get the table-flipping over with sooner than later....)

I've never used background music during a game, but when writing adventures and brainstorming for ideas, I used a lot of the music suggested above.

I really enjoy stuff like:
- The first couple "Diablo" soundtracks
- The ambient bits from the "Dungeon Keeper" and "Dungeon Keeper 2" soundtracks
- The Goblins' soundtrack from "Suspiria"
- Those wonderful mood-pieces that metal bands like Celtic Frost and their imitators insert between their heavier songs (see "Tears in a Prophet's Dream" for example....)
- The soundtracks from the "Phantasm" film series
- The soundtracks from "The Fog" and "Halloween"

For fantasy background music, it seems like the "Conan" soundtrack's always a win.

I like the suggestions of Garmarna and Lorena McKennit in some of the replies above.

I've found that my tastes lean toward "'classical' noise" more than "'classical' music" the older and more stuck in my ways I get - I guess I've always liked the futurist/avant-garde/surrealist/dada type stuff the best.

So, the bulk of my 'classical' collection consists of:

Toru Takemitsu
Giacinto Scelsi

...and a mix of the weirder movie and video game soundtracks and heavy-metal art-noise side projects.

Kadasbrass Loreweaver wrote:
Once you buy Starcraft 2, the only ting left to do is link the CD code to the account. Doesn't even matter if it is installed or not as once its linked to the account it is freely downloadable.

Yeah, seems like that's "normal" for software these days: you're really just buying the CD key in brick-and-mortar stores, so that you can download the content from a website with it. The disk included with the package may or may not contain much of the game installation files, but, either way, the code must connect to a website to "activate" the installation.

Pretty much everything, even single-player games, seems be working like that anymore.

It's the modern update to those old password-wheels they used to include with floppy disks as copy-protection :P

I used to do the whole "he/she" and "him/her" thing all the time, but I'm too lazy to these days, so I just pick one or the other pretty much randomly now - seems like I get it wrong every time, but I guess I'm just Chaotic Evil that way, hope nobody minds :)

In any case, I hope the idea helps, and good luck :)

dragonhunterq wrote:
I hesitate to show my age, but Nope, glowing detect magic pre-dates computer games.

That's strange, I don't think I ever saw it in any of my RPG groups, but I saw it all the time in video games, so I assumed it was the computer games that did it.

If that's not it, then I have no idea where it might have sneaked into D&D before then.

A garbled misinterpretation of Tolkien, maybe? Though the glowing magic swords in that case were hardly the result of any sort of "Detect Magic" spell revealing their magical nature - rather, the magic weapons glowed to reveal the presence of Orcs.

Or maybe it's from some other fantasy fiction or film I'm not familiar with?

Or perhaps it got introduced really early in some third-party materials, or early editions of D&D that have since been superseded?

I can't imagine any obvious reasons why D&D players with nothing else in common might have jumped to the same conclusion, otherwise....

Edit to Add: The First and Second editions are kind of amusing in different ways: 1E has very little information - it more or less just says that you can detect magic in a straight line in front of you, and can turn in a circle in so many rounds to detect magic around you, with no real detail beyond that - it's surprisingly short and to the point. 2E says pretty close to the same thing, but the language is expanded to include references to "intensity of the magic" and "detecting magical radiation" - one almost imagines a magical Geiger counter.... In any case, a glance back at 1E and 2E does little to clear up the mystery for me of where the idea of Detect Magic causing stuff to glow came from.

I don't know you or your group well enough to know whether that kill-the-witnesses idea hovers closely enough to player-vs.-player to dissolve the game into out-of-character drama. Whether or not that's really a direction that will work for your group, is up to you and the group to decide together.

It sounds like your character isn't comfortable in her current form, or with the world she was born into.

That reminds me of the way that some varieties of fantasy fiction, like that from Lovecraft, Dunsany, and Neil Gaiman and Guillermo Del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth") and so on, can work on characters who are awkward outsiders trapped in a mundane or hostile world they don't feel they belong in, who eventually find their places by escaping into another world they felt they were always meant to be in.

Perhaps your character knows that she doesn't belong in the world she was born in, and needs help getting back home, to her own form... your character's ultimate goal is to find an escape from the game's setting, a way of transforming permanently into the form she feels she belongs in, and start over with a happy new life on the Elemental Plane of Air or Earth, or the Dreamlands, or Faerie, or whatever. The rest of the party can either help her achieve those goals, or stand in her way, so that her trust and cooperation with them depend on how much they help her with finding the gateway to this other world and the spells (or whatever) needed to make the transformation....

I think it's probably worth noting as well that a lot of players (and GMs!) probably aren't used to having options and choices, because they have been trained away from making their own options by video games (even "sand box" video games - there's really only so much freedom you can program into a game that relies on... well... a program), and even by RPG modules (there's really only so much freedom you can write into an adventure module).

For these players (and GMs!), the transition from railroading to wide-open sandbox can be a somewhat jarring and bewildering experience.

Perhaps something a little more gradual works better?

I've found that leaving wide-open problems to solve for the end of a session, so that players can think about their options between game nights without pressure, can work wonders for getting players to think up some outside-the-box ideas by the start of the next game session.

Railroading is one of the cliches of RPGs, and the time to start breaking cliches and letting the players know they aren't at a railroad station in Kansas anymore is as early in a new campaign as possible - I've found that players tend to be more likely to think outside the box when it's quite clear that they aren't playing a game that's inside the box:

Are your players used to killing monsters on sight? Let the first monster the players see be the friendly NPC that gives them a quest.

Is the first real challenge the PCs usually face a combat in a dungeon? Make the first real challenge something completely different: the PCs and the quest-giver don't know the way to the dungeon... do the PCs have any trusted contacts listed on their character sheets that they can go to for help finding the dungeon?

Are your players used to a standard, cliche quest given to them in a tavern by a wizard who wants them to kill giant rats in the cellar or fight the usual bunch of goblins or kobolds? Try to think of three off-the-wall ways to stand that cliche on its head, and use the most outlandish of the three, especially if it's an option that relies on something other than the combat stats on the character sheets.

Most RPG players are familiar with the Baby Orc cliche: the cliched way to introduce the Baby Orc cliche is after a cliche'd fight with cliched Orcs, when a cliched Paladin is in the party, and the usual resolution is a cliche. What happens if you introduce those Baby Orcs in the opening scene of your campaign, to an Evil Party, when a wounded Lawful Good Paladin NPC brings the Baby Orcs to the Evil PCs and begs them to help protect the Baby Orcs while the Paladin buys the PCs time by fighting some mysterious pursuers, so that the PCs can take the Baby Orcs to Blackhand the Sinister, who will explain everything - but the PCs have no idea who Blackhand the Sinister even is or where to find him?

Let your PCs know immediately and unambiguously that they are definitely starting a completely different game than they are used to, and now anything goes!

Edit to add: And, as other replies above mentioned, getting the players involved in world-building before the adventure officially begins helps a lot, too.

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