KnightErrantJR's Mid to High Level Playtest (Possible Savage Tide Spoilers)


Playtest Reports


So, we started out playing the Lightless Depths chapter of the Savage Tide Adventure Path for this playtest, with the characters starting out at 11th level.

We actually had four characters as well as a cohort for one of the characters.

Human Wizard (Conjurer) 11th Level

Half-elf Monk 11th Level

Dwarf Barbarian 11th Level

Human Rogue 11th Level

Half-orc Cleric 9th Level (Cohort, Artiface and Protection Domains)

The rogue was actually made as a two weapon weapon and shield fighter, just to see if the player could manage it. The conjurer mentioned that he spent a ton of gold just getting extra spells beyond the class based increases in his spellbook.

Half-orcs continue to be popular.


After setting up the second half of the Savage Tide for the PCs, they proceeded to get drunk the night before they adventured, so we used the rules for drinking in the Arms and Equipment Guide, the dwarf didn't succumb to alcohol poisoning, and the cleric removed the ability damage, as per the Arms and Equipment Guide, with a neutralize poison spell.

Next up was sailing out to Emraag and negotiating with him. The PCs strongly considered taking him on, but they wanted to see how everything would work out. (Emraag being a CR 16 dragon turtle, for anyone that isn't familiar with the Savage Tide)

The PCs did a really bad job playing the sea skirl for him (one PC had perform, but not for wind instruments). The monk was going to lead the negotiating, until the rogue realized that he wasn't trained in diplomacy at all (given that he was going to use "logic and reason" on the dragon turtle).

The conjurer decided to figure out what he knew about dragon turtles, and rolled in the upper thirties on the check.

Side Note: Monsters and Knowledge Checks

While I have been trying to stick to Pathfinder Beta as much as possible, I just can't help but use the later Monster Manual 10 + CR as the DC instead of the HD, because it just seems to make more sense to me.

So the conjurer fills the PCs in on general dragon information, as well as a few choice tid bits about dragon turtles specifically (steam breath, capsizing boats).

The PCs did a pretty good job of figuring out the best way to flatter a dragon, telling him how great he was, referring to the treasure as a tribute, and so on. All of the PCs and/or cohorts except the dwarf barbarian aided on the diplomacy check, and they scored well enough to buy off Emraag.

Encounter Summary: Emraag would have been an "Epic" encounter according to the Pathfinder Beta rules on encounter building, and they got XP accordingly, but since they negotiated their way through this, they didn't end up using any resources for this encounter.


The PCs arrived at the dock run by the Troglodytes, and after they ran into the dimetrodon and the trogs entered the cavern, they PCs blew their chance to bluff the trogs by asking about the pirates, instead of waiting for the trogs to talk first, or claiming to be pirates.

The trogs and the dimetrodon attacked the PCs. The rogue charged up to the dimetrodon while it was still flat footed, and did impressive damage with his sneak attack. He also inflicted 6 bleed on the dimetrodon.

The half-elf ran up to the first trog leper and hit it with his greater psionic fist feat for an additional 4d6 damage, but didn't knock it out right off the bat.

The cleric held his action, and the dwarf raged and charged toward one of the trogs.

The dimetrodon bit into the rogue doing a lot of damage, and one of the trogs cast hold person on the rogue, who failed his roll. The cleric acted after the trog, and removed paralysis on the rogue.

One of the trog lepers cast cause fear on the monk, and the monk rolled a 1, ready to run in fear from the trogs.

The conjurer started casting Summon Monster IV to summon a howler.

The rogue took another shot at the dimetrodon, doing minimal damage, and the dwarf barbarian hit one of the trogs, allowing the rogue to do a shield bash due to his opportunist ability, but again did little with the attack.

The trogs made a few ineffectual attacks, and the dimetrodon missed with its attack, and the cleric, deciding he didn't want the monk to run too far away, cast calm emotions.

Everyone but one of the trogs blew their saves, being hit with the "mellow bomb." The dwarf was pretty upset, but when the one trog unaffected got to go on his turn, he used his channel negative energy to damage everyone but himself, thus breaking the calm emotions.

The rogue used his wand of produce flames, the conjurer finished summoning his howler, and then hit one of the lepers with magic missiles, and the dwarf did over 100 points of damage with a full attack on one of the trogs.

The monk opened up a flurry of blows and a stunning fist on one of the trogs to keep him as a prisoner, and knocked him out, doing non lethal damage.

The cleric did a channel positive energy to restore the badly hurt rogue, and excluded all of the trogs and the dimetrodon, and the dwarf barbarian did ninety points of damage with a critical hit from his great axe to the dimetrodon, killing it.

The conjurer blasted another trog with magic missiles, and the howler finished it off.

The monk finshed off another trog with non lethal damage.

After the fight, I allowed the dwarf PC to make an intimidate check to interrogate the trogs, and after getting the trogs to talk, they ended up agreeing to give up the heretical trog and the sick human if the adventurers left their settlement alone.


Encounter Summary: As near as I could tell, the encounter works out to around a CR 10 encounter equivalent, meaning that, for an 11th level party, this was an easy encounter.

Interestingly, while only the rogue took damage, the party did spend a few resources on this battle.

Rogue: used a charge in his produce flame wand

Cleric: burned a calm emotions, remove paralysis, and remove fear, as well as one of his channel energy uses for the day.

Barbarian: burned about four rounds of rage in this fight

Monk: burned one of his stunning fist uses for the day

Wizard: used two magic missile spells as well as a summon monster IV spell on the encounter.

For the most part, however, this did seem to fit in fairly well as an "easy" encounter.


Next Session: Into the Savage Darklands

Characters Used:

Half-elf Monk, 11th Level

Human Wizard (Evoker), 11th Level

Half-orc Cleric, 11th Level (Liberation, Trickery Domains)

Dwarf Barbarian, 11th Level (Special Guest Star, see below)

The rogue from the last session was sent back to Far Shore, and the cleric cohort was reworked into a full blown character for the campaign.

Also, the dwarf's player was not present, so according to my house rules, the dwarf was a mobile flanking bonus/aid another machine that gets moved by the other PCs. Under my house rules, the non present PC NPC can't be killed except for a TPK, but they have an initiative bonus of +0, and their aid another checks are likewise at a +0. The can only move and aid another in combat.

Now, with all of that out of the way, there was one other thing that I was trying in the playtest . . . James Jacobs had said in the chat a few weeks back that he would almost be willing to try monster identifying knowledge checks at a DC of 10 for creatures common to the area the character is from, +5 to gain anything other than the name and type of the creature. The DC bumps to 15 for uncommon creatures, and 20 to get anything useful about them. We tried these rules out this session.


On the Way There:

It wasn't a big deal, but I ruled that a PC with Engineering as a skill could figure out the weight limit and the manner of operating the lift at B6, even though they had Irgzid with them, just to give the engineering check something to do.

This kind of put me in mind of the fact that things like this actually would be perfect for an engineering check, if the DC is called out in the actual encounter.

Encounter One: The Burning Pools

This was a fairly straightforward encounter as written, and Irgzid did warn the PCs about the foul smelling room. The monk, being immune to poison, decided to scout out the room first, and ran smack dab into the elder black pudding.

The wizard used his dungeoneering and figured out that the pudding was a pudding, that it did acid damage to anything in contact with it, and that slashing weapons split it, given that the knowledge check (as detailed above), let him know two important things, and the player indicated that he would like to know something defensive and offensive about the creature.

The monk (who has a monk's robe, improved natural attack, wild talent, and the two psionic fist feats), used his spring attack to run past the pudding and nail it with his expended focus on top of his normal damage to the creature, doing a fair amount of damage to it.

The wizard, the cleric, and the barbarian stayed behind the "bad air" line to attack the pudding, and the wizard unleashed a scorching ray on it that burned away a significant amount of damage (but the pudding still had a ton).

The pudding nailed the monk with a critical hit, and did enough damage to cause a death from massive damage save which the monk promptly failed. The cleric dove into the room, using his mobile spellcaster feat, to cast breath of life on the monk.

Side Note: Breath of Life

I'm not really sure what do with Breath of Life in conjunction with Death from Massive Damage. Technically I could have ruled that the PC was at his -Con, but for some reason, that felt kind of like a double penalty. Not only did he die, but the healing from the Breath of Life likely wouldn't even let him take another mild hit.

In the end, I ruled that, while the PC was dead, Death from Massive Damage, if countered with a Breath of Life, begins restoring life from 0 hit points instead of negative Con. I would be interested to see this specifically addressed, or for someone to point me at this if I missed it.

The wizard kept blasting at the pudding, between scorching rays and magic missiles from his wand, the dwarf barbarian didn't do anything (because he really didn't help much by aiding another and couldn't flank).

The cleric got slapped by the pudding and grappled, and the monk, not wanting to stand up and provoke an attack, launched into a "flurry of breakdancing" and did a prone flurry and spent the ki points to give him an extra attack twice in two consecutive rounds.

The cleric, while grappled, used his channel positive energy and his selective channeling to exclude the pudding. His armor started taking some serious damage, but thankfully it was magical, and that +10 per plus helps. Given that channeling is a (Su) ability, the grapple didn't matter, and he used two channels while grappled.

Side Note: Improved Grapple

I am kind of wondering if Improved Grapple needs to be revisited. The pudding spent its standard action every round once it grappled the cleric to grapple him in order to have to make his grapple check to do less damage from his constrict than he would if the pudding would have slapped him.

The main difference in this encounter is the damage to the cleric's armor. Yeah, it might be easier to maintain the grapple, depending on the character, than hitting every round, but it still seems like, beyond the first round and the extra constrict in that round, there isn't much of a benefit to this. But I have to say its a lot easier to resolve. I'm almost tempted to just drop a PC after I do the "extra effect" from the improved grapple and slap him and improved grapple him all over again the next round.

The cleric used his liberation domain power and just dropped out of the pudding's grasp. After the cleric was free, he maintained his "freedom's call" and the monk did the heavy lifting to finish up the pudding encounter, with the cleric boosting him again after getting hit again.

The wizard summoned a brelani, which arrived the round after the pudding fell apart. The wizard used him to heal the cleric and monk one more time, then used he put up a wind wall from one corner of the room to the other to blow the acrid air away from the side of the room they walked through (they could have easily held their breath, but as long as the brelani was there . . . )

Encounter Two: The Hanging Forest

Irgzid warned the PCs about the roper, and the PCs strode into the room and talked to the roper for a while, until it finally got tired of the conversation and shot them with its tentacles.

The monk got hit with the tentacles, and took strength damage. The monk didn't get reeled all the way into the roper, and wanted to use spring attack to hit the roper and move, and I allowed it as long as he ended up the same distance away from the roper as he was when the roper started to reel him in.

The first round, the monk hit the roper with his psionic focus and ended up on the other side of the roper. The wizard conjured up four celestial dogs to flank the roper and get in its way. The monk got reeled in and bitten, then unleashed a full flurry of blows, again, using his ki point to get an extra attack.

The cleric hit the roper with a flame strike, and with the roper's vulnerability to fire, it finished off the roper.

Side Note: How Does He Do What He Does?

The roper causes strength damage with its strands. Its not listed as poison, so the monk wasn't immune to it. But how does it do strength damage? Its listed as an (Ex) attack, which would indicate that there isn't anything supernatural about the ability, but if its not poison, about the only other way this would work without using poison would be for the roper's tendrils to burrow into the target's muscles and each them away from the inside, I guess.

Just something to keep in mind, especially when the troglodytes from the last adventure didn't harm the monk because their stench, which is, you know, stench, is considered poison for purposes of poison immunity. Just seems a bit strange to me.

Side Note: Identification of Items

Detect magic just kept missing by about 1 when it came to the cleric and the wizard trying to identify the staff. The flail and the cloak were fine. The cleric used his use magic device to blindly fire off a cold blast from the staff to get an idea of what it was.

Among the players, one was indifferent about appraise working to identify with detect magic, one liked it, and the third didn't like it at all and wished that it had to do with knowledge arcana. Not a major issue, just something that came up when making the checks.

End of the Day

The party ended up resting because they didn't want to force march, not so much because they were heavily depleted. Still, they had gone through a few resources.

The cleric burned three channel positive energy, his flame strike, his Breath of Life, several rounds of his Freedom's call, and a few minor spells, and some of his charges from his wand of restoration.

The wizard used a couple of his more powerful summons, as well as a handful of charges from his wand of magic missles, and his scorching rays for the day.

The monk was almost back to full hit points after the cleric worked on him, but had used up all of his ki for the day.


Encounter One Day Two: Temple of the Ancient Ones

The PCs ignored any comments about the mongrel folk town (although the wizard did use his knowledge nature skill to figure out what Irgzid was talking about).

The monk has psicraft, since I ruled that psicraft would work the same was as spellcraft in regards to concentration. While this was mainly for the monk gaining his psionic focus, in this case, he used it to figure out that the aboleth was using his powers in the room.

The rest was pretty much role playing, and not directly relevant to the playtest, but it worked out well.

Encounter Two, Day Two: Hall of the Dreamers

The PCs got jumped by the rhagodessas, and the monk went into flurry mode. He got trapped between two of them, and instead of using his ki to get an extra attack, he used it to get him a bonus to his armor class.

The dwarf kept interposing himself between the wizard and the rhagodessa, and he used the cover to fire off some scorching rays. He also let loose a cone of cold from the newly identified staff of frost.

The cleric got between everyone and let loose with his Freedom's call, and after one of the rhagodessas went down, he decided to have some fun. In order to get there, he turned invisible, using his domain power.

Wizard got a critical fumble with a scorching ray, and gave one of the rhagodessas DR 5/-, and the cleric decided to use his rod of wonder and filled the room with a stinking cloud that affected the monk and the remaining rhagodessas.

The wizard, outside of the stinking cloud, started picking off rhagodessas with his wand of magic missiles. The cleric also used a channel energy excluding the rhagodessas.

The cleric slowed the last rhagodessa, and the monk recovered from the stinking cloud, and then the monk killed the last rhagodessa. He then attempted to disarm the cleric of the rod of wonder, but missed his roll by one.

The Day, So Far:

The only combat encounter wasn't too tough for the PCs, but they did use the following:

Cleric: Invisibility from domain, a couple rounds of Freedom's Call domain ability, two charges from his Rod of Wonder, and a channel energy from his daily allotment.

Monk: Two ki points were used to deflect the rhagodessas when the monk was caught between the two.

Wizard: The wizard used scorching ray, and about four charges from his wand of magic missiles, as well as three charges from the staff of frost to do a cone of cold on one of the rhagodessas.


I have nothing useful to contribute, so I will just leave it at "more please!"


David E wrote:
I have nothing useful to contribute, so I will just leave it at "more please!"

Thanks David. I hope these are doing some good as far as pulling up some useful issues for anyone that might happen upon them.

Dark Archive

Knight,

interesting stuff, as always. It seems your players are, indeed, cunning veterans who know their 3E and Beta class abilities and options inside out (without any hint of min-maxing or "powergaming", though). :)

I'm still running a low-level campaign myself, due to everyone being super-busy since the summer. We are hoping to hit the mid-levels (7+) soon after christmas, though.

I'm still a bit miffed about half-orcs being the "best" choice for a cleric (the *only* choice, if you ask the players ;). Unless you want a CON-based, cleric with Toughness and lots of HP, in which case the dwarf is the "ideal" race.

A couple of comments:

- Appraise used for Identifying Magic Items. Your group has mixed feelings, but my players and I don't like this, and we think it would be more logical under Knowledge (Arcana). It may not be a big thing, in the end, but it's an annoying thing that occasionally comes up during play.

- Death from massive damage. I agree with you, and also hope to see this issue dealt with.

- Improved Grab. I agree with you here, also.

- I'd like to hear how you and your players like the new skill system, i.e. are there enough points? Does the "+3 to all class skills" rule affect how they invest their points? And so on.


Current ruling in Improved Grab

We have had the same balance problem with Improved Grab (i.e. it's too expensive in terms of actions in comparison with standard attacks).

The current ruling goes like this:

Improved Grab (Ex): If a creature with this special attack hits with a melee weapon (usually a claw or bite attack), it deals normal damage and attempts to execute a grapple combat maneuver at +4 competence bonus [1] as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. [2] Unless otherwise noted, improved grab works only against opponents at least one size category smaller than the creature.
The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use the part of its body it used in the improved grab to hold the opponent. If it chooses to do the latter, it takes a penalty to CMB when grappling [3], but is not considered grappled itself; the creature does not lose its Dexterity bonus to AC, still threatens an area, and can use its remaining attacks against other opponents. A successful hold does not deal any extra damage unless the creature also has the constrict special attack. If the creature does not constrict each successful grapple check it makes during successive rounds automatically deals the damage indicated for the attack that established the hold. Otherwise, it deals constriction damage as well (the amount is given in the creature's descriptive text). When a creature gets a hold after an improved grab attack, it pulls the opponent into its space. This act does not provoke attacks of opportunity. It can even move (possibly carrying away the opponent), provided it can drag the opponent's weight.

----

[1] Since grapple maneuver works differently (3.5 requires melee touch, Improved Grab is a part of standard melee attack so it has to beat higher DC, Pathfinder BETA version meanwhile makes Grapple harder to achieve than standard attack), main benefit of this ability is free combat maneuver at +4 competence bonus.

[2] Removed irrelevant passage "No initial touch attack is required.".

----

I have also devised alternative version of Improved Grab ability:

----

Improved Grab (Ex): Whenever a creatures with this ability hits with weapon capable of grappling, it may immediately execute a Grapple combat maneuver at +4 competence bonus as a free action without provoking attacks of opportunity. If the creatures chooses to maintain the grapple, it cannot use this particular weapon for other actions than grappling. The creature may continue using other weapons as per multiattack (natural attacks lost due to maintaining of grapple are considered to be secondary) or multiweapon fighting (attacks lost due to maintaining of grapple are considered to be done with offhand weapon).
Additional grapple options (Move, Damage, Pin) are available for use with natural weapons. Manufactured weapons options are subject to specific rules listed in weapon descriptions and GM's approval.

Constrict (Ex): Whenever you grapple successfully, you may deal additional damage as per amount listed.

----

The effects of these revised rules:
- you lose attacks with weapon dedicated to grappling
- some weapons (like net, bolas, whip) grant effectively Improved Grab, though access to additional options is limited (they all restrict movement, whip grants free Trip maneuvers). On the other hand, you are free to use weapon in your off hand to whack at grappled opponent.
- note that there are no additional penalties to grapple checks when doing something else besides grappling. Grapple Combat Maneuver is hard enough to execute and maintain as it is.
- note that there is no size limit grapple target - a small dog may bite its opponent's leg, so to speak - the grapple size penalties are enough to handle this.
- note that there is no mention of anyone being pulled into anyone's space during grapple - it's all covered by Move grapple option.
- note that there is no special rule for grappled target hindering grappler's action. Again, it was deemed too cumbersome to use due to smaller effectiveness of grapple itself.

Hopefully this simplified version is suitable for you to use.

Regards,
Ruemere


Asgetrion wrote:
- I'd like to hear how you and your players like the new skill system, i.e. are there enough points? Does the "+3 to all class skills" rule affect how they invest their points? And so on.

We playtested the Alpha 1 as soon as it came out, and there were about 50/50 split on that system, and those that liked it kind of liked it, those that hated it, really, really hated it.

So far when it comes to the current skill system, there haven't been many complaints, although they have noted that they can't diversify quite as much at 1st level as they could. The fighter's player still isn't thrilled with his skill selection.

I've been allowing them to use WOTC material with approval, so the rogue got Open Minded, and that seems to be a bit out of whack under the new system, since it gives you five skill points and if you spend them on class skills, one feat gives you four ranks in four skills, but again, I'm thinking this will even out a bit at higher levels.

Open minded is kind of an issue in that it is in the Psionic SRD, so its not really off limits for PFRPG either.

I've got two half-orcs in my other game, though they took the class for the strength bonus (and because one player wanted to play a "thug" rogue instead of a slick one). In that game I've got a halfling cleric, in part because the player wanted the charisma bonus to boost his channel energy uses per day.


ruemere wrote:

We have had the same balance problem with Improved Grab (i.e. it's too expensive in terms of actions in comparison with standard attacks).

I've thought about allowing a creature with enough limbs (like the rhagodessas) to "hold" someone without using its automatic bite, so that it could snag two people and choose which one to bite every round. I was also thinking something like this would have been useful for the pudding, which would hold something and still do acid damage even if it didn't constrict that round.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber
ruemere wrote:

Current ruling in Improved Grab

Improved Grab (Ex): If a creature with this special attack hits with a melee weapon (usually a claw or bite attack), it deals normal damage and attempts to execute a grapple combat maneuver at +4 competence bonus [1] as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. [2] Unless otherwise noted, improved grab works only against opponents at least one size category smaller than the creature.

[snip]

Why +4 competence bonus? it's still powerful as it is as a free action...


KnightErrantJR wrote:
ruemere wrote:

We have had the same balance problem with Improved Grab (i.e. it's too expensive in terms of actions in comparison with standard attacks).

I've thought about allowing a creature with enough limbs (like the rhagodessas) to "hold" someone without using its automatic bite, so that it could snag two people and choose which one to bite every round. I was also thinking something like this would have been useful for the pudding, which would hold something and still do acid damage even if it didn't constrict that round.

Precisely. Generally, monsters with multiple natural attacks are not playing up to their strength if they sacrifice them for a single standard action. Both proposed versions allow them to use remaining attacks.

Regards,
Ruemere


Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
ruemere wrote:

Current ruling in Improved Grab

Improved Grab (Ex): If a creature with this special attack hits with a melee weapon (usually a claw or bite attack), it deals normal damage and attempts to execute a grapple combat maneuver at +4 competence bonus [1] as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. [2] Unless otherwise noted, improved grab works only against opponents at least one size category smaller than the creature.

[snip]

Why +4 competence bonus? it's still powerful as it is as a free action...

It's not a matter of economy of actions. It's because of the way Combat Maneuvers are resolved.

3.5:
Attack --> Hit --> Damage + Free Opposed Grapple Check (both side use: BAB + Str bonus + Size bonus + d20)
If attacker wins the Free Opposed Grapple Check, they can use remaining attacks to:
- use remaining melee attacks at -4
- use remaining attacks to perform unarmed attacks (at 0 penalty if non-lethal damage, at -4 if lethal damage, at 0 penalty if you're a Monk or if you use natural weapon)
- advance to pin
- break someone else's pin
- escape grapple
- use opponent's weapon

Pathfinder BETA (my variation results in bold "+4" below):
Attack --> Hit --> Damage + Free Grapple Combat Maneuver (attacker: CMB +4 + d20, defender: CMB + 15)
Attacker options (as per vanilla BETA, they use standard action instead of attack):
- Move
- Damage
- Pin
- Escape Grapple (again: attacker: CMB + d20, defender: CMB + 15)

Note the following:
- it's harder to initiate and to escape from grapple in Pathfinder
- you are slowed down since instead of attacks, you need to use Standard Actions (upsets balance for monsters and characters with multiple attacks)

My changes:
- +4 modifier makes grapple attacks (but not subsequent grapple checks) more compatible with 3.5 (the difference from 25% falls down to 5%)
- you still may make full attack action, however all attacks are resolved as if your offhand weapon/secondary attack was "used up" on maintaining grapple

So, basically, I have attempted to improve backward compatibility while staying true to changes to general grapple options.

Regards,
Ruemere

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Unfortunately we really can't disect this arguement until the Improved Grab ability for pathfinder is established... unless I missed it somwhere? I would still imagine monsters have a tremendous advantage over most PC races (i.e. size medium humanoids) from greater Strength and size advantage, though size modifiers have been reduced.

Also because of the changes to grapple a single monster with improved grab is probably a poor encounter design choice unless it had severe extra penalties (like the puddings acid).

--Figure Four Leg-Vrock!!!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber
ruemere wrote:
Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
ruemere wrote:

Current ruling in Improved Grab

Improved Grab (Ex): If a creature with this special attack hits with a melee weapon (usually a claw or bite attack), it deals normal damage and attempts to execute a grapple combat maneuver at +4 competence bonus [1] as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. [2] Unless otherwise noted, improved grab works only against opponents at least one size category smaller than the creature.

[snip]

Why +4 competence bonus? it's still powerful as it is as a free action...

It's not a matter of economy of actions. It's because of the way Combat Maneuvers are resolved.

3.5:
Attack --> Hit --> Damage + Free Opposed Grapple Check (both side use: BAB + Str bonus + Size bonus + d20)
If attacker wins the Free Opposed Grapple Check, they can use remaining attacks to:
- use remaining melee attacks at -4
- use remaining attacks to perform unarmed attacks (at 0 penalty if non-lethal damage, at -4 if lethal damage, at 0 penalty if you're a Monk or if you use natural weapon)
- advance to pin
- break someone else's pin
- escape grapple
- use opponent's weapon

Pathfinder BETA (my variation results in bold "+4" below):
Attack --> Hit --> Damage + Free Grapple Combat Maneuver (attacker: CMB +4 + d20, defender: CMB + 15)
Attacker options (as per vanilla BETA, they use standard action instead of attack):
- Move
- Damage
- Pin
- Escape Grapple (again: attacker: CMB + d20, defender: CMB + 15)

Note the following:
- it's harder to initiate and to escape from grapple in Pathfinder
- you are slowed down since instead of attacks, you need to use Standard Actions (upsets balance for monsters and characters with multiple attacks)

My changes:
- +4 modifier makes grapple attacks (but not subsequent grapple checks) more compatible with 3.5 (the difference from 25% falls down to 5%)
- you still may make full attack action, however all...

I think you missed the definition of the "grappled" condition, found in the PRPG Glossary:

Grappled: A grappled creature is being restrained
by another
creature, trap, or effect. Grappled creatures
cannot move and take a –4 penalty to their Dexterity.
A grappled creature takes a –2 penalty on all attack
rolls and combat maneuver checks, except those made
to grapple or escape a grapple. In addition, grappled
creatures
can take no action that requires two hands
to perform. A grappled character that attempts to cast
a spell must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + the spell’s
level) or lose the spell. Grappled creatures cannot make
attacks of opportunity.

Therefore, I say monsters with Improved Grab should still have a DC of 15 + victim CMB, without the +4... with the PRPG Grappled definition, the Improved Grabbers have only -2 to their attacks unto a grappled foe, instead of -4!!! They now have a better deal!


Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
Therefore, I say monsters with Improved Grab should still have a DC of 15 + victim CMB, without the +4... with the PRPG Grappled definition, the Improved Grabbers have only -2 to their attacks unto a grappled foe, instead of -4!!! They now have a better deal!

Actually, since anybody with the Grappled condition also has a -4 DEX Penalty (causing -2 AC Penalty), the attack penalty combined with the opponent's AC Penalty means non-grapple melee attacks between grappled opponents have NO bonus/penalty. (Just no 2H Weapons)

Attacks vs OTHER (non-Grappled) opponents DO suffer a -2, though.


Purple Dragon Knight wrote:

I think you missed the definition of the "grappled" condition, found in the PRPG Glossary:

Grappled: A grappled creature is being restrained by another
creature, trap, or effect. Grappled creatures cannot move and take a –4 penalty to their Dexterity. A grappled creature takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks, except those made
to grapple or escape a grapple. In addition, grappled creatures
can take no action that requires two hands to perform. A grappled character that attempts to cast a spell must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + the spell’s level) or lose the spell. Grappled creatures cannot make attacks of opportunity.

Therefore, I say monsters with Improved Grab should still have a DC of 15 + victim CMB, without the +4... with the PRPG Grappled definition, the Improved Grabbers have only -2 to their attacks unto a grappled foe, instead of -4!!! They now have a better deal!

Umm, you misread me. +4 applies only during free Grapple check resulting from Improved Grab. It does not apply for subsequent checks.

Under Pathfinder BETA, you do not roll to maintain Grapple - only to break from it, damage your opponent, pin your opponent or move your opponent.

There is also one more important rule here:

Pathfinder BETA, Grapple wrote:
If your target does not break the grapple, you get a +5 circumstance bonus on grapple checks made against the same target in subsequent rounds.

So it's not really necessary to extend +4 to subsequent rounds.

Summing up Grappled condition:
- -4 Dex,
- -2 attack even up,
- opposed check to grapple / escape grapple with all modifiers looks like this:
attacker: CMB +5 circumstance + d20
defender: CMB + 15

- Grappled creatures lose use of at least one limb (the one involved in grapple)
- Grappled means you cannot use AoO

Regards,
Ruemere


ruemere wrote:
Under Pathfinder BETA, you do not roll to maintain Grapple - only to break from it, damage your opponent, pin your opponent or move your opponent.

You certainly do have to roll to maintain a grapple each round; it's just that you get to damage/pin/move your opponent if you succeed. But if you fail, the grapple is over.


Quandary wrote:
I don't see that interpretation so much, Hogarth. Nothing indicates the "Grappled" condition will "expire" on it's own without "maintenance" actions.

What about this sentence?

"If you successfully grapple an opponent, you must continue to make a check each round, as a standard action, to maintain the hold."


Bad wording at play, it seems.

Let me try to clear this up a bit. This is the part of grappling rules missing from Pathfinder BETA:

3.5 SRD, Grapple wrote:

Step 4: Maintain Grapple.

To maintain the grapple for later rounds, you must move into the target's space. (This movement is free and doesn't count as part of your movement in the round.) Moving, as normal, provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening opponents, but not from your target. If you can't move into your target's space, you can't maintain the grapple and must immediately let go of the target.
To grapple again, you must begin at Step 1.

In Pathfinder BETA step 4 occurs automatically, you do not need to move into target's space. However, instead you need to exploit situation (i.e. use one of the options):

Pathfinder BETA, Grapple wrote:
If you successfully grapple a creature that is not adjacent to you, move that creature to an adjacent open space (if no space is available, your grapple fails). If you successfully grapple an opponent, you must continue to make a check each round, as a standard action, to maintain the hold.

Important differences:

- attacker (under Pathfinder) does not need to move into opponent's, merely draw opponent into adjacent square.
- attacker does not maintain grapple actively. This is side effect of using one of the options.

Why this difference is important?
3.5: if someone else moves grapple target, grapple is lost when grapple target leaves grapple attacker's space and grapple attacker cannot move into grapple target's space
Pathfinder BETA: if someone else moves grapple target, grapple is lost when grapple target leaves grapple attacker's reach or if the grapple target cannot be made adjacent on attacker's turn

What's the difference between standard action required by Grapple and devoting attack weapon (Improved Grab by me)?
- in exchange for losing attack with weapon used for grappling, you gain additional options at a penalty
- subsequently, creatures with multiple attacks regain somewhat balance

Hopefully, this answers your questions a bit.

Regards,
Ruemere


hogarth wrote:

What about this sentence?

"If you successfully grapple an opponent, you must continue to make a check each round, as a standard action, to maintain the hold."

Yeah, I saw that later after posting, and deleted my post (before seeing your response)

...I really think the current state of the Grapple rules are not sufficient, as well as being hideously ambiguous.
(as obvious from so much confusion over their functional application & intent)
I guess there's several "options" it could take one way or the other, but the current state is definitely a work-in-progress.

I personally think the Full Attack non-comptability needs to go (I'm not even sure if this is intended, since after all Melee Attacks are also Standard Actions, they can just also be part of a Full Attack action - which isn't EXPLICITLY disallowed in Grapple)

I've proposed distinguishing ControLLER and ControLEE sub-states of Grappled (same Grappled condition, just for pacing of Grapple->Pin), making it slightly harder for the "Defender" to insta-Pin the attacker (though if Iterative Grapples allowed, still possible). With Controller and Controlee sub-conditions, it can be made more clear that the Grappled state "expires" if the CONTROLLER does not continue making a Grapple "attack" (the current wording doesn't actually diverge much from this in any scenario I can imagine, but there's no reason the wording/rule structure couldn't more EXPLICITLY reflect this, instead of relying on on players/readers to rationally extrapolate very vague rules into all scenarios).

Basically, I think the "Tiers" of a Grapple should be more "programmatically" defined, amenable to a table, rather than only be defined by "serial" prose which tends to be tied to a certain assumption about the intention of the combatants.


To Quandary and hogarth

The best way to go about this would be to propose revised version of grapple rules.

The tools we should use for that:
- grappled condition - it must be simplified, but it should cover all effects common to grappled characters (for example, circumstantial +5 bonus for being attacker in grapple should be featured here, not in grapple maneuver)
- grapple combat maneuver - should be presented in a way to be usable with natural weapons, multiple iterative attacks, multiple natural attacks and monsters or items granting Improved Grab. Also should cover attempt to grapple items wielded or carried by another. Finally, it should cover grapple contest (two people reaching for the same target) and multiple grapplers (A grapples B, C grapples A - what are the options of each participants?).

For the record, I agree with Jason's changes to grapple (harder to start, but easier to maintain), it's just that current wording is awkward and spread over several sections of rules.

Regards,
Ruemere

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber

PRPG Grapple rules are slightly better/simpler than the 3.5 version. The main problem here lies with the fact that we're so used to the 3.5 version that it's hard to reinvent ourselves with the PRPG. This is exacerbated by the fact that Improved Grab (the most important monster ability in the MM imho) has not been redefined yet.

Improved Grab needs a ruling badly for the BETA playtest to continue smoothly. Everyone I know who tried the new CMB feature has no problem with Bull Rushes, Disarms, etc. The only snag is always with Grapples and Improved Grabbygrabbers.

Jason: please give us a BETA Improved Grab!!! as preliminary as it may be, it is hugely required at this point.


KnightErrantJR wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
- I'd like to hear how you and your players like the new skill system, i.e. are there enough points? Does the "+3 to all class skills" rule affect how they invest their points? And so on.

We playtested the Alpha 1 as soon as it came out, and there were about 50/50 split on that system, and those that liked it kind of liked it, those that hated it, really, really hated it.

So far when it comes to the current skill system, there haven't been many complaints, although they have noted that they can't diversify quite as much at 1st level as they could. The fighter's player still isn't thrilled with his skill selection.

I've been allowing them to use WOTC material with approval, so the rogue got Open Minded, and that seems to be a bit out of whack under the new system, since it gives you five skill points and if you spend them on class skills, one feat gives you four ranks in four skills, but again, I'm thinking this will even out a bit at higher levels.

Open minded is kind of an issue in that it is in the Psionic SRD, so its not really off limits for PFRPG either.

I've got two half-orcs in my other game, though they took the class for the strength bonus (and because one player wanted to play a "thug" rogue instead of a slick one). In that game I've got a halfling cleric, in part because the player wanted the charisma bonus to boost his channel energy uses per day.

I've run into the limited skills at first level issue too, and my playtest group and I have come up with a new rule that we're going to playtest as well:

At their beginning character level, every character will get 4 apprenticeship skill points that can be spent only on his or her starting class skills. These apprenticeship skill points cannot be modified by any race or attribute. The character will also get the starting skill points as usual for their class to place anywhere they like.

It seems silly to us that characters with years of experiences before becoming adventurers might start with just one skill. As I joked during our aftergame conversation, finishing one's apprenticeship wearing a t-shirt that said "I spent four years laboring under the high cleric Osgood of the Dove, and all I got was one rank in Craft:Alchemy which I used to screenprint this lousy t-shirt" seems underwhelming. :-p


This is an interesting idea.

The additional starting skill points are reminding me of the additional hit points at first level: High impact at the beginning, thinning out as the game moves on.

DW


I don't know . . . while you can't diversify quite as much, its better than the locked in all or nothing nature of the Alpha skills, and I'm not really sure I'd want to add too many subsystems to what amounts to a pretty workable new system.


Characters for this session:

Half-elf Monk 11th Level

Half-orc Cleric 11th Level

Dwarf Barbarian, 11th Level

Human Wizard (Conjurer), 11th Level

The PCs headed into Golismorga, with an alternate plan. They were going to steal the Rain God's Tear, and try to figure out some way to use it against the Aboleth (my players seem to have a knack for assuming the wrong bad guys are the main villains).

The cleric used his trickery domain to cast invisibility on everyone so that they could sneak into the crater to get the tear. Since everyone was moving at full speed, this gave them a +20 on their stealth checks.

Invisibility and Stealth: I know that its a bit of a reach to assume that invisibility makes it harder to hear as well as see someone sneaking by, but at the same time, with stealth being consolidated into one skill, and invisibility giving it a boost, it seems like this spell is actually a good alternative for those situations when the whole party, even the mithril full plate wearing dwarf, is trying to be stealthy. Overall, I don't really mind this, but I can see where it might not feel right when you think about exactly what the spell does.

On the way into the city, the dwarf and the monk managed to sneak by Rakis-Ka, the devourer, that I decided to have the PCs run into. The devourer did managed to detect the cleric and the wizard, but since he was waiting for the PCs to injure themselves against another opponent, Rakis-Ka only made it known that he knew the PCs were nearby.

The monk was making insanely high stealth checks, and he managed to sprint right by the brain collector lormaster in the crater. The dwarf wasn't quite so stealthy, so it pinpointed the dwarf.

The monk fell down the crater without taking any damage due to his slow fall, and kept running until he found the tear.

The brain collector cast defensively, and used dispel magic to make the dwarf visible.

The dwarf swung several times, and only connected with one attack. The cleric went off to the side, still invisible, waiting for the right time to act, and the conjurer started a summoning spell.

The brain collector did about a third of the dwarf's hit points with its bite, and the conjurer summoned a pair of light archons at the edge of their light ray range up in the air above the brain collector. The cleric used one of his channel energy bursts to heal the dwarf, excluding the brain collector.

Side Note (Situational Hostility): It was noted that the cleric, had he damaged something with his channel energy, would have made an attack and become visible, but in this case, he had no chance to harm anything, so the exact same action didn't trigger the end of the spell. Not a problem, per se, just something interesting.

The brain collector again does more than a third of the dwarf's hit points, and the dwarf hits with two attacks on the creature, as the light archons hit it with their light rays and the conjurer fires his scorching ray at the brain collector.

The brain collector does another round of serious damage to the dwarf, and the cleric decides that it would be better to directly harm the brain collector. The conjurer hits with more scorching rays, the barbarian attacks and hits with his attacks, and the cleric flame strikes the brain collector.

The brain collector defensively casts, and uses dimension door to escape.

The conjurer uses a spell to summon an earth elemental to help the monk drag the Rain God's Tear up the crater wall, but everyone is on guard because of the dimension door escape of the creature.

The devourer decides to sneak up on the party before the cleric heals anyone, and only the monk can act in the surprise round. The devourer tries to steal the conjurer's soul, but he makes his save.

The dwarf charges the devourer, and gets hit and takes a negative level from its attack. The dwarf gets in a good hit, the monk runs up to the devourer, and scores a critical hit on it, doing the majority of Rakis-Ka's hit points in one blow, since he expended his psionic focus to do an extra 4d6 points of damage with the attack.

The devourer tries one more soul attack, the dwarf survives, and the devourer gets cut down in this round.

Undead: The devourer could have been really deadly if the PCs had missed their saves against its attacks. On the other hand, compared to other similarly CR rated creatures, its pretty weak hit point wise, and doesn't even that many defenses going for it. Adding in that the devourer is now able to suffer from criticals, and he's a bit of a glass cannon. I ran the numbers to see how it would look if the devourer had its Cha as bonus hit points, and if it had d8 hit dice and its cha bonus. Either one would have given it another round of staying power, but to be honest, I'd rather undead retained d12s on top of the cha hit points. With being vulnerable to crits and with clerics dealing straight damage with channel energy now, I don't think its too much, especially since dragons get d12 plus con for hit points.

Heading back to the aboleth's lair, the PCs ran afoul of a purple worm before they could rest up for the night.

Side Note: I'm an Idiot For some reason I completely forgot that characters could make a grapple check to get back into the swallow whole monster's mouth, which actually would have had some effect on this combat. My bad.

The dwarf charges the worm, provoking an AoO, and gets picked up in its mouth, although the dwarf did have close combat fighting as a feat, so he did get an attack on the purple worm despite the improved grab, but the worm still managed its CMB roll.

The monk ran up on the purple worm, gambling that it didn't have combat reflexes. He then used his ki to boost his AC, and punched the worm.

The cleric wanted to know if he could use his liberation ability to free the dwarf. My answer should have been yes, but for some reason, my brain fell out of my head at this point, but had it worked, it brings up a good point . . .

Cleric Domains I didn't notice it nearly as much at low levels, but now at high level, the cleric seems to have a ton of things to do before he ever uses his own spells. I get some of this, i.e. the channel energy to keep from converting spells to healing all the time, but both domain's powers at once seems like the cleric is nearly inexhaustible, especially when those domains allow the cleric to do things that are normally another class' niche (i.e. invisibility).

The dwarf gets swallowed by the worm, and the conjurer fires off magic missiles from his wand at the worm.

The the monk attacks the worm, and the cleric uses his channel energy to heal the dwarf (another mistake I made, since the dwarf should have had total cover from the effect).

The dwarf used his armor spikes to beat on the worm's gullet.

Monster Gullets: I probably shouldn't have done this off the cuff, but I know that a lot of people have mentioned that its easier to hit some monsters from the inside, so staying inside isn't much of a penalty, unless the damage inside is considerably higher than being on the outside. On the fly, I allowed the PC to do the damage to the creature's gullet, but didn't transfer the gullet damage to the monster's full hit points, and the PC is immediately expelled as soon as it does enough damage to "beat" the gullet. It seemed to work fine, but I probably should have stuck to RAW.

The monk was very hard for the worm to hit due to his use of ki to boost his AC. The conjurer hit the worm with a fireball (which I remembered to give the dwarf his total cover from), and the dwarf got spit out (which is how I described doing the gullet damage to escape, not cutting and "magically" resealing the walls of the worm's body). The purple worm hit the monk with its tail, but was immune to poison.

The cleric does a channel energy again, the dwarf gets stung by the tail, but saves, and then gets picked up in the creature's yet again. The monk continues to pound on the worm, and the conjurer uses his wand of magic missiles. The dwarf beats his way out of the gullet yet again.

Eventually the PCs prevail, the dwarf makes a check to find a nice cave to rest in, and the cleric patches up the dwarf's negative level and heals everyone by using up some more channel energy. He ends the day still having three more channel energy uses.

The PCs fail will saves against the aboleth's scrying attempts (more on this later), and the cleric, who was the only PC to resist the scrying, missed his check to pick out the sensors looking in on the PCs.

Spoiler for my campaign in case my guys are reading this as they go (i.e. If you are in my campaign, don't read):

Spoiler:
When the PCs killed the helpless aboleth in the one chamber, and when the decided they didn't want to aid the aboleth not matter what else they were trying to accomplish, I decided to make the aboleth they talked to an aboleth mage, which would have been a challenge once they were done with Golismorga . . . unfortunately, they now have decided to tackle him now instead of after picking up a few levels in Golismorga.

When the PCs get back to the aboleth's chamber, they unfortunately find out that they have been found out, i.e. that they killed the other aboleths and that they were coming for this one as well. The aboleth flies at them, seemingly able to function perfectly well in the air.

Spoiler:
He's got fly and air breathing going right now, for the record

This is where we ended the night . . . we've been having a lot of cliff hangers lately (probably because I don't want to start a major combat with 15 min left in the evening).


Nope, not reading this thread at all.

I would like to make a couple of clarifications.

In one of the earlier battles of the evening, when the dwarf had gotten smacked enough that he was hurting very very badly, Grep (free cleric who bows to no god) stepped up to the plate and used a good, old fashioned HEAL. This led to some initial confusion by the party when he said "I heal you" "How much?" "No. You are HEALED."

The invisibility that Grep (free seeker, bowing to none) gave to the party was not through a domain, but through the use of the wand. Grep (master of his own destiny, bowing not to dwarves) has the trait "Dangerously Curious" which gives him Use Magic Device as a class skill. Given that he is a high-charisma half-orc cleric (formerly a worshiper of some false dwarven god, but is now and forever shall be his own person, self divine, self blessed) he studied UMD intensely, such that he can use a wand without fail. Thus trained, much of his accumulated fortune is heavily invested into wands (though he has his eye on a Staff or two). Wand of Invisibility is one of his many wands which he keeps handy in the aptly named magical haversack.

This said, I do find that the cleric class is enormously more fun to play in Pathfinder than it was in 3.5. The Domain features tend to take standard actions to implement, which means that each round, Grep (self-blessed with Nobility of the self and Liberation of the spirit and from dwarven servitude) can chose between healing the party (Channel energy combined with Selective Channeling feat, and looking forward to Quickened Turning), using a domain power to give a short lived buff to a party member, or to Greater Command a foe, or to free an ally from the bonds of another, or he may use one of his many wands that tend to do useful things (inspired by an old 3.5 list of wands appropriate for rogues) or he may use one of his prepared spells. I think it keeps the cleric useful all through the days adventure, and he is less likely to get to the end of the second encounter and say "Yep, done. We sleep now."

I think more important in the additional power of the Pathfinder cleric from the 3.5 cleric is the increase in feats that a character gets. Grep (Noble and Free) took Selective Channeling, Extra Turning, Mobile Spellcasting, and Steady Concentration. (Though he will probably swap out Mobile Spellcasting for Quickened Turning at his next level).


Good point. I totally forgot about the sack o' wands and the heal situation as well. That's what I get for posting this a week after we played. ;)

I got confused about the domains due to the rebuild from earlier. Sorry about that.


Yeah, the domains give a couple of nice temporary buffs (the Liberation domain allowing allies to ignore grappled, pinned, etc is especially sweet), but I don't think they are by any means overpowered. I tried to make mine overpowered, and really I rarely use most of my powers, as they aren't as needed as 8d6 of positive energy or something I can whip out of a wand, or ... Grep's (all praise his holy name) Rod of Wonder! (Dangerously Curious is an aptly named trait for him).

(I was happy that Nathanial Pennywhistle was able to take down a goblin with his Hand of the Acolyte last night.)


Since the actual discussion right now is on encounter design, and because I forgot to mention it in the entries, I figured up where these encounters came out from an "encounter rating" point of view.

The brain collector loremaster loses two points of CR because his CR is from a PC class, so the encounter between the brain collector with the devourer coming in and batting clean up would work out to between "hard" and "epic," but honestly, since the devourer came up to the PCs at the end of the brain collector fight, it was more of two encounters with no time to rest between them.

So it falls to the "hard" side, which is probably a little generous, but not entirely off base, considering the dwarf had to be healed, and the cleric burned several channel energy uses in the encounter. The fight felt a bit more like a "challenging" to me, but as I said, it was actually a "challenging" with an "average" right behind it.

The purple worm encounter does feel like a "challenging" encounter to me, considering all of the swallowing and hacking that went on.

Also (my players keep out of the spoiler . . . I see you hovering over the spoiler button . . . just move the cursor away from it . . . )

Spoiler:
The Aboleth Mage works out to an "epic" encounter perfectly once they level up and if you take into account the -2 to CR from the PF alterations to CR from class levels.

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