A Playtest Report by Crowheart (its a long one)

Playtest Reports

These last two weekends some of our regular group has been on a break so I decided to run a quick and easy one-shot module for those who were still around. I chose "Hungry are the Dead" by Tim Hitchcock. I also decided that since it was going to be a one-shot, we might as well play with the Beta rules a bit. This was our first time actually using the Beta rules and I wanted to give them a try before our next campaign begins with Curse of the Crimson Throne, which will be our first long running campaign with the Beta rules.

As we played through the module, we noticed several interesting things about the new rules, and I thought I might share some of our observations.

1) The first thing we all noticed was, or course, the CMB system, which at first glance appears to be a god-send. It's simple and easy to use and understand, and it consolidates so many different combat maneuvers into a single roll. It is definitely a step in the right direction.

One of our players played a monk, and it appears the the new rules for monks make them combat maneuver gods, giving them a cmb on par with a fighter, and all sorts of powers and bonuses to movement make them ultimate skirmishers. But as we continued to play, I noticed that our monk was almost too good at these things, especially grapple.

Now I like the new grapples rules somewhat, again, simple and quick. The monk's preferred tactic against all the scarier monsters was to run up and grapple them immediately, then opt to use the pin option every time. Now, maybe it was because he was fighting undead, but he was always pinning (and thus rendering useless) every creature he grappled. His sole goal was to grapple the scary thing, and have the dwarven barbarian hit until it was dead. I'm not saying this is a bad tactic, but it seems unfair that with a single CMB check, the scary monster basically loses his next turn trying to escape. Then even if he does, we get into this cycle of grapple to pin, he escapes, grapple to pin again, etc. Basically, the monk is giving up his turn to ruin the scary monster's turn. This sounds fine, but typically, the players outnumber the monsters, especially the big scary ones.

It just seemed to be a unusually cheap tactic to render a big monster pinned (which means basically useless) with a single check. Now I understand the idea behind this was to give the players a better chance in grapples with those big scary grapple-monsters, but this seems like it was pushed too far away from that.

2) One of players played a Ranger, and I couldn't help but notice how powerful he was in the module. The combination of his ranged power was thus: the feat deadly aim, the feat manyshot, and favored enemy: undead +4. So with the first attack in a full-round action he was hitting for 1d8 +1(enchantment) +2 (strength comp.) +4 (undead bonus) +4 (for taking -4 on deadly aim), then doing that TWICE for manyshot; so basically 2d8 +22 every first attack. Maybe thats the way its suupose to be but it struck me as odd and little too powerful to be applying deadly aim and undead bonus to both arrows of a manyshot. There is no clarification on whether they should both be applied to manyshot or not, only that precision-based damage is not applied twice (and it doesn't say if the undead bonus or deadly aim are precision-based or not). I would like some clarification on that.

We also noticed that the Ranger's new ability to apply half his favored enemy bonus to all allies within 30 feet as a move action is far superior to any Ranger animal companion he might have had.

3) The new rules for staffs are rather unlikable. Now, I like the idea of being able to recharge a staff. But the rate of which one uses a staff, plus the large number of charges one must sometimes use to cast a spell with it, make it very very unwieldy. The cleric was using a staff of healing. It now has 10 charges. By the time they stopped to rest, they had only 3 charges left. But at the rate they were going, they'd be out soon the next day, and they can only recharge ONE charge everyday? It's too slow. Especially, for the astronomical price most of these staffs exhibit. This basically means that the staff is a last-ditch weapon, because even casting one spell with 2 points, or two 1-point spells, means that without downtime, the staff will rapidly be useless. The limited number of charges and the very limited way of recharging staffs makes them difficult to use. I would definitely recomend a re-thinking of this new rule.

I recommend either cutting the price of staff in half (or maybe even less) if you really want to keep the rules as they are. Or, maybe allow for the recharging of more points by spending a higher level spell. Perhaps by spending a higher level spell than necessary, it recharges two points instead of one, or maybe it recharges more points based on how high a spell is expended in the recharging. Something must be done to justify how much money must be spent on these supposedly powerful items.


That's all I can think of for now. I might post back with more if I remember anything else from our playtest.

Thank you.

Just to let you know, the beta pdf went back to the old staff rules. The others were alpha rules. I really liked them, but agree with you on the cost. I would like to see weak, low level staves available to lower-level characters, but I've felt that way through several edition changes, now.

dthunder wrote:
Just to let you know, the beta pdf went back to the old staff rules.

No, the Beta rules on staves are mostly the same as in Alpha (e.g. still rechargeable at a rate of one charge per day). There's one place where it says "A staff has 50 charges when created", but that's a cut-and-paste error.

Ahh, you're right. That 50 charge misprint through me off. Well, then I agree. They need to dumb down the cost. Heck, make them available at lower level, that's not going to hurt any game balance. For those of us who rarely play above tenth level, it'll make things better.

Paizo Employee CEO

On the whole grapple to pin thing, the way we have been running it is that you have to get a grapple on the first round and then on a subsequent round, when you have to roll to maintain the grapple, you can decide to perform an action like pin. So it is a two round action instead of a one round one. And remember, if you grapple somebody, you are considered grappled yourself, with all of the undesirable consequences such as you can't move, -4 to Dex, -2 on attack, can't use two hands, no attacks of opportunity, Spellcraft checks to cast spells or lose them. So perhaps it isn't as easy as it ran in your game. :)

Looking at the rules, I can see that this isn't as clear as it should be. I'll mention it to Jason and make sure I got the rules right myself.


Thank you very much for that clarification, that makes things so much more balanced I think.

I'd really like your thoughts (or anyone's really) on the precision thing.

Manyshot basically gives you an extra arrow in a single attack. So that's the arrow, plus the enhancement, plus the comp. bonus (if any) to damage. That's fine by me. But adding the deadly aim and favored enemy bonus to the second arrow as well?? That seems a little silly to me.

I think I read somewhere that favored enemy bonuses are precision-based, but I don't remember where (as thus cannot reference it), and the Deadly Aim feat SOUNDS like it should be precision-based, but again, it doesn't really say.

Thoughts or clarifications on this are much appreciated.

I also had a new thought about grapple. How does it work for monsters that get extra actions in a grapple, like a Behir's rake? The new grapple rules basically limit you to just the one grapple maneuver, so how does the Behir get his extra rake attacks? My thoughts are that, the Behir makes the grapple check to maintain, succeeds and does his bite damage, and then must ROLL to hit with his rakes to do those. This sound right?

Thank you for your time.

I'm afraid I can't find the info you're looking for either. However, as both a player and a GM, I agree with you using your GM fiat to declare both of these damage sources to be precision-based and only count them once on a multi-shot attack. Reading the feat, I feel this is clearly in the spirit of the feat, and well within the rights of the GM to make a call. Just be sure to keep this ruling across board, so the pc in question doesn't feel that the npcs are getting "one-up" on him.

Sorry I couldn't help with an actual rule location. Good luck.

Oh, and regarding the rake question. I really feel this is your best bet until Paizo releases more specific rules in this department.

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