Ability damage? WTF?


Carrion Crown

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Scarab Sages

I play the party cleric. I would love to memorize a non-domain spell that is not Lesser Restoration at some point in this hateful adventure path.

Please stop using the most obnoxious ability that should have been cut if Paizo had had more than two ounces of creative power when converting from 3.5. No one likes to continual recalculate their hit bonus and hp biased on random luck of hitting odd numbers or not.

Rage Rage Rage.

It is not cool to make the clerics job so freaking miserable.

BTW can I look forward to meeting Richard Pett at Gen Con? 'Cause I just want to meet him.

Edit: removed inappropriate actions after meeting


It is annoying, but I don't find it so bad. I like to use it as a GM myself.

Liberty's Edge

To the OP, please do not make threats of violence against contributors, this breaks the message board rules.

Apart from that, I think you will find that starting threads with melodramatic names will net you little sympathy on these boards. Likewise insulting Paizo’s creativity.
Likewise complaining about ability damage in a horror based campaign featuring lots of undead.
Likewise complaining about playing the cleric and having to use spells to keep your fellow party members at full health and ability.
Likewise making the same complaint across multiple threads within five minutes.


wraithstrike wrote:

It is annoying, but I don't find it so bad. I like to use it as a GM myself.

I am playing through the adventure path myself, with Matt. I don't mind ability damage sometimes and I think it has its place. When every single fight has 3-5 creatures, all with ability damage, it gets ridiculous. We go through the fight and have to stop because 2-3 people all have ability damage to 1-3 stats, which isn't something that is survivable especially because, well, it's a theme and we know there's probably more coming. It's really annoying to deal with, and I know the cleric has no fun at all when all his second level spells and some thirds are lesser restorations.

Spoiler:
We're currently in "Frankenstein's" castle in Part 2 and moving through the flooded area in the cave area. So far we've fought leech swarms (Con/Str damage with a Dex damage poison), violet fungi who do Con/Str damage, varghuls (sp?), and another plant thing that also did a Con damage poison. Earlier in Part 2 we fought a bajillion wraiths as well, who of course do Con damage.


Melissa Litwin wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

It is annoying, but I don't find it so bad. I like to use it as a GM myself.

I am playing through the adventure path myself, with Matt. I don't mind ability damage sometimes and I think it has its place. When every single fight has 3-5 creatures, all with ability damage, it gets ridiculous. We go through the fight and have to stop because 2-3 people all have ability damage to 1-3 stats, which isn't something that is survivable especially because, well, it's a theme and we know there's probably more coming. It's really annoying to deal with, and I know the cleric has no fun at all when all his second level spells and some thirds are lesser restorations.

** spoiler omitted **

That reminds me of a certain AP with shadows that never stop coming. If you don't have the right party it can end badly, but I noticed the AP's always have that one fight/area that shouldn't be.


What about Ability Damage makes the cleric's job miserable? That they have to heal it? There are scrolls and wands and potions to help with that burden.

And it isn't for the Cleric to recalculate things, that's for the individual players to do. Besides, it's not that hard, since Ability bonuses work on a 2 for 1 basis. Every 2 up or down is a new +1/-1, except if the stat starts at an odd number (in which case it's first 1 for 1, then 2 for 1).

As for HP, multiply the bonus or penalty to Con by the characters level. That's how many HP they lose from the Con loss. A 2nd level character who has their Con go from 18 to 16 loses 2 HP, because their Con Modifier is now 1 point lower and 1 times 2 is 2. 6th level character with a loss of 18 to 10 loses 24 hit points (8 point Con loss lowers Con Mod by 4. 4 times 6 is 24).

Ability damage works well as a challenge because it requires more thought and tactics from the players and is actually pretty easy to calculate. Trying to remember the mods for the various conditions like Shaken and Nauseated and ensuring those are applied correctly is harder than making ability damage adjustments once you're used to them.

Scarab Sages

Mothman wrote:


Apart from that, I think you will find that starting threads with melodramatic names will net you little sympathy on these boards. Likewise insulting Paizo’s creativity.

If I wanted your sympathy i would ask for it. I want better editorial review of modules such that a normal party can have fun playing it.

Mothman wrote:


Likewise complaining about ability damage in a horror based campaign featuring lots of undead.

I reserve the right to say that bad mechanics are bad.

Also, does ability damage = horror? I think not.

Mothman wrote:


Likewise complaining about playing the cleric and having to use spells to keep your fellow party members at full health and ability.

Whats not fun is being unable to effectively do anything in combat because you can't heal ability damage in combat at all. Even taking the task of fighting my parties HP it doesn't matter that I can power out the heals when the con damage keeps rolling in.

So get off your high horse and actually respond to any of problems rather than just saing that I don't get your sympathy because I want that as much as I want another 1d4 str and con damage with no save.

Tobias wrote:
What about Ability Damage makes the cleric's job miserable? That they have to heal it? There are scrolls and wands and potions to help with that burden.

The fact that Lesser Restoration is a 3 round cast time.


Ability damage is an ancient trope of everything from ancient folk tales and ghost stories, to fantasy, to horror movies.

You always read or hear about people going weak in the knees, or trembling at the sight of something, or losing their wits, or the strength leaving their limbs, or their bodies going numb or slowing down.

The game designers didn't invent those. Humankind did. The game would lose not only a valuable mechanic for challenging players, but a necessary means of describing supernatural events and encounters.

Suck it up. I was proud to be "stuck" with the cleric on the occasions I got to be a player, and one of my favorite players in the games I DM happily takes cleric/druid duties and never complains. If a badass sword-loving samurai freak like my buddy Travis can be happy playing a cleric, anybody can.

Sovereign Court

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This thread is going places. /popcorn


First off take a look at your tactics if your surrounded by undead are you channeling to start off or are you doing something else when you do cast spells to boost the party are you looking at ones to help negate the ability damage. While it has been tough the party i have been running has managed to have plenty of fun by making sure they perpare accordingly.


@Tobias:
1) Scrolls and wands and potions are expensive. We had a wand, but it's been used up now, and returning to town to buy more isn't a great option at this point. Consumables work for small quantities of ability damage, but they get used up way too fast in this module.

2) The reason this isn't fun for a cleric is s/he has to memorize lesser restorations. That means s/he can't memorize other spells to do other things, like Remove Fear or Sound Burst or anything else in the cleric repertoire. Having your high-level spell slots (we're 6th level, so 2nd level spells are pretty high still) all bespoken is boring.

3) Sure, it's not that hard to recalculate stats. But pluses to hit and saves and skills all change, which has to be remembered. Damage changes a LOT if you're a two-handed fighter. If they keep changing, you have to keep readjusting numbers, which is frustrating and, honestly, not fun.

A straight up -2 to various rolls is easier for me to remember than a -1 to Con, then a -2 to Con, then a -4, all of which changed things over time and over the course of the fight.

The monologue often goes something like this with stat damage: So wait, I lost how many hp off the top? And then I've taken X damage, so I'm ... conscious? Yes, I think so. Wait, no, never mind. I fell down. Hah! That's a lie. I'm still up. My turn now. I hit you! I do 23 damage ... no, sorry, 21 damage. Wait, my Strength is how low? I can't power attack anymore. Dammit. Uh, make that 14 damage.

I'm not agreeing that ability damage is a horrible mechanic. It has a place and is part of appropriate challenges. However, stat damage making an appearance in every fight is not fun for my group and especially not fun for the cleric who has to fix it out of combat after feeling helpless in combat.

@Talonhawke
I wish it was just undead. The vast majority of the ability damage we've taken, however, is not from undead. The cleric can't fix people as fast as the stat damage rolls in, because Lesser Restoration takes 3 rounds to cast (from a spell slot, a scroll, or a wand) and the damage comes in every round. What, exactly, is the cleric to do?

Liberty's Edge

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Matthew Trent wrote:
Mothman wrote:


Apart from that, I think you will find that starting threads with melodramatic names will net you little sympathy on these boards. Likewise insulting Paizo’s creativity.

If I wanted your sympathy i would ask for it. I want better editorial review of modules such that a normal party can have fun playing it.

Mothman wrote:


Likewise complaining about ability damage in a horror based campaign featuring lots of undead.

I reserve the right to say that bad mechanics are bad.

Also, does ability damage = horror? I think not.

Mothman wrote:


Likewise complaining about playing the cleric and having to use spells to keep your fellow party members at full health and ability.

Whats not fun is being unable to effectively do anything in combat because you can't heal ability damage in combat at all. Even taking the task of fighting my parties HP it doesn't matter that I can power out the heals when the con damage keeps rolling in.

So get off your high horse and actually respond to any of problems rather than just saing that I don't get your sympathy because I want that as much as I want another 1d4 str and con damage with no save.

If you don’t want sympathy (or a lack of it) then you’d do better asking for ideas or a solution to a perceived problem rather than having a rant, or at least that’s the view of things from up here on my high horse.

This is not an editorial review problem and I would hesitate to call it a game design problem – there is after all a low level solution to ability damage, it is called lesser restoration it’s on the cleric’s spell list (but you knew that), as well as being on the druid, paladin, alchemist, inquisitor, and oracle spell lists.

One solution of several is to have other members of the party also prepare or cast lesser restoration. Our group is not up to part 2 of this AP yet, so maybe we will feel similar frustrations when we do, but given that ¾ of our group has lesser restoration on their spell lists, probably not.

And yes, the view is still good from up here.

You are entitled to rant about ability drain being poor game design, but you have rather missed the boat on getting it changed for Pathfinder.

Grand Lodge

Melissa Litwin wrote:

The monologue often goes something like this with stat damage: So wait, I lost how many hp off the top? And then I've taken X damage, so I'm ... conscious? Yes, I think so. Wait, no, never mind. I fell down. Hah! That's a lie. I'm still up. My turn now. I hit you! I do 23 damage ... no, sorry, 21 damage. Wait, my Strength is how low? I can't power attack anymore. Dammit. Uh, make that 14 damage.

I'm not agreeing that ability damage is a horrible mechanic. It has a place and is part of appropriate challenges. However, stat damage making an appearance in every fight is not fun for my group and especially not fun for the cleric who has to fix it out of combat after feeling helpless in combat.

Melissa, it appears that there may also be some confusion between Ability Damage and Ability Drain.

Ability Damage just applies penalties, without reducing the stat - ao it doesn't affect pre-requisites for feats (for example).

EDIT: And I also think this mechanic changed a fair bit for PFRPG, as you no longer have the different effect based on whether your score was odd or even.

Scarab Sages

Scribbling Rambler wrote:

Ability Damage just applies penalties, without reducing the stat - ao it doesn't affect pre-requisites for feats (for example).

EDIT: And I also think this mechanic changed a fair bit for PFRPG, as you no longer have the different effect based on whether your score was odd or even.

False: ref prd.

Quote:
Some attacks or special abilities cause ability damage or drain, reducing the designated ability score by the listed amount. While ability damage can be healed naturally, ability drain is permanent and can only be restored through magic.

Liberty's Edge

Having said all that, I agree that re-calculating numbers affected by ability damage mid-battle can tend to slow things down a bit if you are not on top of it, and creatures that drain multiple abilities can be a b&~%! to deal with, given that each casting of lesser restoration only repairs one sort of ability damage. The solution is a combination of player organisation, good tactics to avoid being attacked or damaged too often by such creatures, and good party formation to ensure that the burden of keeping everyone healthy is not on a single cleric alone. There is an element of meta-game to it, and some people won’t like that, but if you are looking at a horror themed AP using Pathfinder (or 3.5 rules) then it makes sense to form a party that can effectively deal with this sort of thing.

No, horror does not need to equal ability damage by any means, but look at many of the ‘horror’ themed monsters in Pathfinder (or 3.5) and you will see that ability damage or energy drain or similar is something they can do.


If either of you would give a party load out as best you can i am sure some of us would be glad to suggest things to help you out.


Mothman wrote:


If you don’t want sympathy (or a lack of it) then you’d do better asking for ideas or a solution to a perceived problem rather than having a rant, or at least that’s the view of things from up here on my high horse.

This is not an editorial review problem and I would hesitate to call it a game design problem – there is after all a low level solution to ability damage, it is called lesser restoration it’s on the cleric’s spell list (but you knew that), as well as being on the druid, paladin, alchemist, inquisitor, and oracle spell lists.

One solution of several is to have other members of the party also prepare or cast lesser restoration. Our group is not up to part 2 of this AP yet, so maybe we will feel similar frustrations when we do, but given that ¾ of our group has lesser restoration on their spell lists, probably not.

And yes, the view is still good from up here.

You are entitled to rant about ability drain being poor game design, but you have rather missed the boat on getting it changed for Pathfinder.

I'm glad your group happens to have the makeup necessary to survive and thrive in this environment. Our party of cleric, wizard, rogue, fighter, and magus is very nicely balanced and covers all major roles, but only one person can cast lesser restoration in this group. Maybe someone should reroll, but who? Into what? We all like our characters and have built up fairly decent in-game interaction and personalities. It's not uncommon to only have one person who can cast certain divine spells, especially utility.

Lesser restoration is an easy fix to small amounts of ability damage. When three people come out of a fight with 2 or 3 stats reduced by 5-6 points each, there's just not enough lesser restorations available to fix everyone unless the cleric memorizes every single 2nd level spell for two days as lesser restoration (which he did).

As for your response to meta-game more, that's not a real answer. It's really not. Our solution to D&D is usually kill it faster, which our party is set up to do, and avoid as much damage as possible by simply murdering things before they have a chance to do much. Without knowing that this set-up was coming (which we did not), we did as much as we could to set up a viable and fun party.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

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Matthew Trent wrote:


False: ref prd.

Quote:
Some attacks or special abilities cause ability damage or drain, reducing the designated ability score by the listed amount. While ability damage can be healed naturally, ability drain is permanent and can only be restored through magic.

OMG, WTF, Fail!

prd wrote:


Ability Score Damage
Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal damage directly to your ability scores. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability.

For every 2 points of damage you take to a single ability, apply a –1 penalty to skills and statistics listed with the relevant ability. If the amount of ability damage you have taken equals or exceeds your ability score, you immediately fall unconscious until the damage is less than your ability score. The only exception to this is your Constitution score. If the damage to your Constitution is equal to or greater than your Constitution score, you die. Unless otherwise noted, damage to your ability scores is healed at the rate of 1 per day to each ability score that has been damaged. Ability damage can be healed through the use of spells, such as lesser restoration.

Being a dick is kinda like being a grammar nazi. It's cute and all, but, sooner or later, you're going to make a mistake. And then, instead of getting a kindly "Hmmm...I don't think that's right" you get dickishness back.

(and threatening someone with physical harm is a magnitude of order away from acceptable (*cough* and non-criminal *cough*) conduct.)

As a player, I get frustrated by ability damage too. But, as a human, I hate whinging (as the Brits say), which means I'm much more likely to hang out here and be a dick than to help you.

Good luck practicing social skills and learning anger management!

Dark Archive

If the game is being so horrible for you guys, perhaps you need to ask your GM to remedy it. Complaining about being harmed, poisoned, diseased and otherwise hindered in a horror AP on these boards seems counterproductive to me. It is a communication issue with your GM, and that person should want to maximize your fun. He or she can simply choose to stop using them for awhile, that way you guys don't have to deal with it.


DamnIAmPretty wrote:

If the game is being so horrible for you guys, perhaps you need to ask your GM to remedy it. Complaining about being harmed, poisoned, diseased and otherwise hindered in a horror AP on these boards seems counterproductive to me. It is a communication issue with your GM, and that person should want to maximize your fun. He or she can simply choose to stop using them for awhile, that way you guys don't have to deal with it.

Our GM is just running it as written. We are having fun but are also horribly frustrated by the fights that have been written in. It's not a communication problem, it's a bad encounter design in the mod problem. Setting up encounters, or rather not having to, is a key aspect of the adventure paths for GMs.

As I've said several times, I don't mind stat damage in general when appropriate. AoE stat damage on multiple stats for like 5 fights in a row is not appropriate and, to me and my party, not fun. We're basically just slogging through now and really hoping the next section isn't like this.

Scarab Sages

Sebastian wrote:
Matthew Trent wrote:


False: ref prd.

Quote:
Some attacks or special abilities cause ability damage or drain, reducing the designated ability score by the listed amount. While ability damage can be healed naturally, ability drain is permanent and can only be restored through magic.

OMG, WTF, Fail!

prd wrote:


Ability Score Damage
Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal damage directly to your ability scores. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability.

For every 2 points of damage you take to a single ability, apply a –1 penalty to skills and statistics listed with the relevant ability. If the amount of ability damage you have taken equals or exceeds your ability score, you immediately fall unconscious until the damage is less than your ability score. The only exception to this is your Constitution score. If the damage to your Constitution is equal to or greater than your Constitution score, you die. Unless otherwise noted, damage to your ability scores is healed at the rate of 1 per day to each ability score that has been damaged. Ability damage can be healed through the use of spells, such as lesser restoration.

Okay to be fair I was quoting the Monster Ability from the Bestiary, which if you look at I think you'll find to be matching my original quote.

This is an interesting conflict in rules. But still not super relevant to the fact that ability damage makes a cleric who wants to heal unable to heal. And then useless. Which is unfun. And for those of you from the peanut gallery metagaming and DM fiat is not an acceptable solution.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

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Matthew Trent wrote:


Okay to be fair I was quoting the Monster Ability from the Bestiary, which if you look at I think you'll find to be matching my original quote.

This is an interesting conflict in rules. But still not super relevant to the fact that ability damage makes a cleric who wants to heal unable to heal. And then useless. Which is unfun. And for those of you from the peanut gallery metagaming and DM fiat is not an acceptable solution.

Agreed. I did the search and got the same result as you, and it's only because I played in a game run by James Jacobs that I knew the rule existed and dug deeper to find it.


Melissa Litwin wrote:


I'm glad your group happens to have the makeup necessary to survive and thrive in this environment. Our party of cleric, wizard, rogue, fighter, and magus is very nicely balanced and covers all major roles, but only one person can cast lesser restoration in this group. Maybe someone should reroll, but who? Into what? We all like our characters and have built up fairly decent in-game interaction and personalities. It's not uncommon to only have one person who can cast certain divine spells, especially utility.

A single cleric level (via multi-class) will net you another character capable of using wands and scrolls.

Use Magic Device can help a lot here as well.

So can a cohort.

These may entail making minor changes to future development plans, but if you need to do it to have a future, you have to do what you have to do...


Sebastian wrote:
Matthew Trent wrote:


False: ref prd.

Quote:
Some attacks or special abilities cause ability damage or drain, reducing the designated ability score by the listed amount. While ability damage can be healed naturally, ability drain is permanent and can only be restored through magic.

OMG, WTF, Fail!

prd wrote:


Ability Score Damage
Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal damage directly to your ability scores. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability.

For every 2 points of damage you take to a single ability, apply a –1 penalty to skills and statistics listed with the relevant ability. If the amount of ability damage you have taken equals or exceeds your ability score, you immediately fall unconscious until the damage is less than your ability score. The only exception to this is your Constitution score. If the damage to your Constitution is equal to or greater than your Constitution score, you die. Unless otherwise noted, damage to your ability scores is healed at the rate of 1 per day to each ability score that has been damaged. Ability damage can be healed through the use of spells, such as lesser restoration.

Being a dick is kinda like being a grammar nazi. It's cute and all, but, sooner or later, you're going to make a mistake. And then, instead of getting a kindly "Hmmm...I don't think that's right" you get dickishness back.

(and threatening someone with physical harm is a magnitude of order away from acceptable (*cough* and non-criminal *cough*) conduct.)

As a player, I get frustrated by ability damage too. But, as a human, I hate whinging (as the Brits say), which means I'm much more likely to hang out here and be a dick than to help you.

Good luck practicing social skills and learning anger management!

Darn you Sebastian for being to fast. I was going to do it.


I would have the wizard summon when possible to reduce party targets use spells or abilites that lock things down for multiple rounds.

The spell Nap stack is great for end of day damage clean up and if you have a knowledge monkey and some clue whats upcoming try and buy mundane gear to help out as needed.

The cleric could also look at Life Lure for simply slipping past large groups of undead.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

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wraithstrike wrote:
Darn you Sebastian for being to fast. I was going to do it.

You'd have spoiled it all by being nice!

Another virtue of ability damage is that it is (mostly) less deadly than hp. Obviously, that's not true of Con damage, and the loss of combat effectiveness can cause an encounter to snowball out of control, but attacking ability scores instead of hp gives the DM the ability to challenge a low level party w/o slaughtering them with a lucky roll.


Bill Dunn wrote:
Melissa Litwin wrote:


I'm glad your group happens to have the makeup necessary to survive and thrive in this environment. Our party of cleric, wizard, rogue, fighter, and magus is very nicely balanced and covers all major roles, but only one person can cast lesser restoration in this group. Maybe someone should reroll, but who? Into what? We all like our characters and have built up fairly decent in-game interaction and personalities. It's not uncommon to only have one person who can cast certain divine spells, especially utility.

A single cleric level (via multi-class) will net you another character capable of using wands and scrolls.

Use Magic Device can help a lot here as well.

So can a cohort.

These may entail making minor changes to future development plans, but if you need to do it to have a future, you have to do what you have to do...

A single level of cleric is SO GIMPY it's not even funny, so I'm going to ignore that option. UMD is an option, but most of us have low Charisma and it's not in-class for anyone but the rogue, so the rolls are very difficult (DC 20 for the wand, higher/multiple rolls for scrolls). A cohort is an option, but it does mess with builds a lot and requires a lot of additional bookkeeping.

None of this matters because fixing stat damage isn't a good in-combat option as it takes 3 rounds to cast and only fixes 1 stat at a time. It's not fun for the cleric because he feels super helpless in combat even though he is a healing cleric. Having more people who can do out-of-combat fixing doesn't solve that problem.


Also focus on not combat removal but buffing i can bless in one round or several other such spells these will offset the negitives without neeeding 3 rounds per ability score per person.

Dark Archive

Melissa Litwin wrote:
Our GM is just running it as written. We are having fun but are also horribly frustrated by the fights that have been written in. It's not a communication problem, it's a bad encounter design in the mod problem. Setting up encounters, or rather not having to, is a key aspect of the adventure paths for GMs.

As I've run Part 2 (my group just finished that sucker up), the Party avoided most of the ability damage in Schloss Caromarc. Mainly, they avoided raiding every single room (quite different than your group's style, I presume). As a GM, if they had played with the basirond, violet fungi and awful poisons, I'd still think about reducing a couple up coming ones if my players brought up to me. And I'm trying to run it as written, but I also want everyone to have fun.

And I've seen and read a lot of this posts and it boils down to communicating the issue and adjusting things for people's tastes. There are plenty of nasty-nasty gobble-degok to throw at people without it being ability score damage. For instance, one monster almost TPK'd the whole group- and none of them were ready for flesh golems, so I threw in a adamantine dagger to make things 'better'.

Grand Lodge

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Matthew Trent wrote:

Okay to be fair I was quoting the Monster Ability from the Bestiary, which if you look at I think you'll find to be matching my original quote.

This is an interesting conflict in rules. But still not super relevant to the fact that ability damage makes a cleric who wants to heal unable to heal. And then useless. Which is unfun. And for those of you from the peanut gallery metagaming and DM fiat is not an acceptable solution.

Yeah... not much of a conflict, when you only have to look up what Ability Damage means.

And when your original post calls the designers out for this "broken" mechanic, and you don't know how it works, I would say that's relevant to the discussion.

Liberty's Edge

Melissa Litwin wrote:


I'm glad your group happens to have the makeup necessary to survive and thrive in this environment. Our party of cleric, wizard, rogue, fighter, and magus is very nicely balanced and covers all major roles, but only one person can cast lesser restoration in this group. Maybe someone should reroll, but who? Into what? We all like our characters and have built up fairly decent in-game interaction and personalities. It's not uncommon to only have one person who can cast certain divine spells, especially utility.

Lesser restoration is an easy fix to small amounts of ability damage. When three people come out of a fight with 2 or 3 stats reduced by 5-6 points each, there's just not enough lesser restorations available to fix everyone unless the cleric memorizes every single 2nd level spell for two days as lesser restoration (which he did).

As for your response to meta-game more, that's not a real answer. It's really not. Our solution to D&D is usually...

First of all, apologies for probably coming across as a jerk, I think the opening post just brought out the best in me, especially the suggestion by the OP that he would like to cause the module writer physical violence (which I see has now been removed, thankyou to the OP).

Secondly, I agree that the ‘meta-gamey’ approach will not suit every group (and I think I made that point in a later post) – it is a solution, but point accepted that it is not a viable solution for your group.

My personal opinion (and it is just that, so feel free to take it or leave it) is that a four person party with only one member capable of healing and restorative magic under normal circumstances is not a well balanced party; traditional as the model may be, I don’t think it works as well in 3.5 and PF as it did in say First or Second edition, given the overall increase in hit points, increased damage potentials and seeming increase in likelihood of running into things capable of doing ability damage. This model is feasible, but it puts a lot of pressure on the single healer. My opinion is that having a ‘backup healer / restorer’ is a good idea. I also believe that it is, to a certain extent, the responsibility of each character to ensure they have some ability to withstand, restore or live with such circumstances without relying solely on the healer.

In this case, you say that the cleric is a ‘healing cleric’. As such, the argument that the cleric player isn’t having fun as all the 2nd level spell slots are taken up with lesser restoration holds less water, as repairing ability damage should be just as much a part of a healing cleric’s role as healing hit point damage. Point taken that ability damage is very hard to repair in combat – so the cleric, in his/her healing role, should be focusing on other ways to keep the party on their feet while they hit hard and finish off the monsters – this might include channelling energy to keep their hit points as high as possible despite the Con damage, casting defensive and protective spells to keep people from being hit, or casting spells like bear’s endurance to temporarily offset the ability damage (yes, I realise that this spell takes up the same level slot as lesser restoration).

You may also need to consider that the stated party strategy of hitting hard and killing them before they damage you may not be working in this particular case. Without being familiar with the particular scenario, other posters have indicated that it is possible to avoid some of these encounters. Without everyone making new characters, it may be possible to adjust strategy, spell selection or abilities to take a more defensive approach, which may serve you better in this situation.

Lastly (for now), it sounds like this ability damage problem has struck in two reasonably small and contained parts of the AP – while it’s obviously causing the group some distress now, it may be a pretty isolated problem – something that you need to ‘suck up’ and deal with as best you can for the moment, and then hopefully not have to deal with to such an extent for a while. If you run into this sort of scenario again at higher levels in the AP, there is an excellent chance that the party will be better equipped to deal with it.


Melissa Litwin wrote:


A single level of cleric is SO GIMPY it's not even funny

Just pointing out that, while it's not quite as impressive as it was in 3.5 (there was an entire guide devoted solely to the benefits of taking one level of cleric) it still gives a lot of classes good options via domain powers as well as boosting the two most important saves rather substantially.

As to which domains to take, darkness and rune both grant bonus feats, travel lets you ignore difficult terrain for charges, liberation auto frees you from grapples, and war(tactics) gives the crucial party member two chances to roll high on initiative.

There are a lot of other possible minor benefits too(Glory, Azata,Void, and Community all looked reasonably useful), but those above seem to be head and shoulders above the rest for dipping purposes. Now as to finding deities that grant two domains that are both useful...

Scarab Sages

Is ability damage really that big of a problem? I believe a wand of lesser restoration and a number of potions are given out pretty early in Book 1. My group is on Book 2 so far and still has a number of charges left on it. The party oracle (no cleric) doesn't have the lesser restoration spell, but ability damage has yet to be a problem.


I gather from your complaints that your cleric is trying to use Restoration the moment someone takes ability damage. I'd suggest you stop doing that. One, you've probably wasted a number of castings. Two, as you've discovered it's actually even worse than combat healing in terms of efficiency of actions, and combat healing is usually pretty bad unless it's needed to keep someone on their feet Right Now.

Focus on killing the enemy. Temporary buffs to affected ability scores like Bull's Strength can be used as a temporary "patch" on the damage (if you're really that put out by the loss) much more quickly in the middle of combat. Save the Restoration effects for when you have time to rest up for a few days to accelerate the healing if you don't have wands and potions available.

Liberty's Edge

Karui Kage wrote:
Is ability damage really that big of a problem? I believe a wand of lesser restoration and a number of potions are given out pretty early in Book 1. My group is on Book 2 so far and still has a number of charges left on it. The party oracle (no cleric) doesn't have the lesser restoration spell, but ability damage has yet to be a problem.

It sounds as though there is a cluster of enemies near the end of the adventure (as the party is 6th level) that do ability damage.

Liberty's Edge

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Matthew Trent wrote:
And for those of you from the peanut gallery metagaming and DM fiat is not an acceptable solution.

GM fiat is not always a good solution ... but sometimes it is. Your GM knows your party better than the module’s author or the Paizo designers do. If the GM knows that this party is not equipped to deal with a particular threat, or is becoming frustrated by something, or is liable to cry ‘Bad game design!’ when something doesn’t go their way, then changing things around is a perfectly acceptable solution. Cut some of those repetitive encounters, swap out shadows with ghasts, giant spiders with giant beetles, whatever. There is nothing wrong with this. No group should be expecting Paizo (or any company producing adventures) to get the mix exactly right for their party all the time.

It is part of the GM’s job to ensure that the players are enjoying the game. If there is clear frustration at an ongoing situation, or the players have clearly expressed they are not having fun, it is a poor choice as a GM to say ‘that’s how it’s written in the adventure, deal with it’. A good GM will change things, or explain things to the players. There is nothing wrong with saying ‘Yeah, I can see you guys are getting the short end of the stick with all this ability damage – don’t worry, this is an isolated part of the adventure, it’s not like this for much longer, hang in there.’ There’s also nothing wrong (if it works for your group) with implementing a house rule to make creatures do less ability damage, or make ability damage easier to repair, if done carefully and thoughtfully.

It’s not only the GM’s responsibility to ensure the players are having fun though, the players also have that responsibility for themselves. Communicate with the GM what the issue is, why things are un-fun. Take steps to ensure that your characters are not caught unprepared next time. Consider a party mix and character class choices that can deal with a wide range of different situations. Think about creative solutions to problems. Know your GM’s play style and plan for it.

Liberty's Edge

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Or, you know, you can complain about Paizo’s creative powers, fantasize about beating up the module author and post a one star review of the module (before finishing it?). Either way.

Liberty's Edge

The AP actually helps you get past this. It really does look like, from reading what you've been posting, that you've just got a bad case of the butthurt about playing the class best designed to help others, and then having to help others?

In the famous words : "Know your role, and shut your mouth"


Your group has 5 characters instead of the 4 it was written for (fighter, cleric, wizard, rogue and magus). That right there means going through "as written" is 25% easier on you.

Two have Use Magic Device on their class skill list. The other 3 could have taken a trait that not only adds that skill onto their skill list but tacks on a +1 trait bonus. All else being equal, the difference between the skill being on your list or not is 3 points. There are two feats that make this skill much more aweseome: Magical Aptitude and Skill Focus. Both add another +5 that jumps to +10 when you've reached 10th level and have 10 ranks in the skill.

Ability damage, ability drain and other afflictions most certainly DO reflect horror - for your character at what's happening to them.

That your group hasn't had any character deaths despite the nastiness is something to be very grateful for. All the other stuff heals with time and the pile of magic goodies that will let your group fix the penalties while you're eating a sammich. They're loot precisely to alleviate these problems after the fight. As long as you have such crutches to draw upon crush your enemies under sandalled feet with your combined firepower, fix the afflictions afterwards.

Basic tactic: make the enemy come to you whenever possible and feasible.
Basic tactic: focus fire. My group, veteran players all, still has this problem. If your group has a nasty habit of attacking different foes in multiple-foe encounters, you're going to get hurt worse than if your group hits the same target in turn until that foe falls over or flees.
Basic tactic: don't rely on "save or die" spells to win the fight in the first round or two. Your cleric, wizard and magus all have "buff" spells available. Prepare and use them.
Basic tactic: close the blast doors! Say the fighter opens the door, big nasty goes "boo" and your group is clearly not well prepared for that big nasty. SLAM THE DOOR SHUT and make a "tactical advance to the rear" to purchase some "buff time".

Perception is King: every character should maintain maximum ranks in Perception without exception. The bad guys often don't at the low to mid CR ranges. Take advantage of this to stack the odds in your favor of garnering those precious surprise rounds.

Stealth is Queen: in some campaigns stealthiness means bupkiss - in most it rocks. Rogue's job as Top Scout is to sneak forward 40 or 50 yards, see/hear what's going on and sneak back to tell you guys what's up. Those 8 +INT +favored class skill ranks per level need some investment in Knowledge skills. Bushwhacking will work in your favor more often than not.


The leech swarm's poison is Dexterity drain, not damage. Same with the wraith's touch attack. Constitution drain. Permanent. Need restoration. 5th level spell. 400 gold or so per casting.

I would honestly suggest that if you do not like taking ability damage to a) have a higher constitution score b) wear a cloak of resistance and c) roll better. I think you have three good Fort save characters in the party? Most of you should be sitting on a +7 minimum, +9 max, maybe even higher.

I think my party still has the wand of lesser restoration from Harrowstone and we just got into Book 4. Cleric and an Alchemist. I think we went through the potions and that was it.

Spoiler:

If I remember correctly, when they encountered the leeches everyone saved on the Dex drain poison and drank the potions to get rid of the str/con damage. When they encountered the basidirond and violet fungus, they just shut the door instead of fighting them.

I can't think of a single other enemy in Caromarc's villa that has ability damage besides the mummy.

As for the wraiths, people ponied up and paid to have restoration cast on them after. Three people took drain. One of them had a very low Con at the end of a big fight (I think 3) or so.

EDIT: I just remembered that during Trial of the Beast, our cleric's player was in Ireland.

He took all of the potions and the wand of lesser restoration with him.

That's why we still have it.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The title of this thread is clearly missing "ZOMG" and "BBQ"

Wait, is the OP that guy who rates adventures 1-star when his PC has hard time in them? Ah yes. Well, this one is gonna be fun *grabs popcorn*

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

Gorbacz wrote:

The title of this thread is clearly missing "ZOMG" and "BBQ"

Wait, is the OP that guy who rates adventures 1-star when his PC has hard time in them? Ah yes. Well, this one is gonna be fun *grabs popcorn*

Hey, save me some popcorn!


The OP may be annoying people (though Melissa is much more helpful), but I think they do have a valid point. I find overuse of ability damage irritating in game design, and some designers do overuse it. Now that I am aware of this particular trouble spot, I will go in and review/change it in light of my party's capabilities before I GM the module - particularly since my party will probably not have a cleric!

It's hard to design for every party. Some will have weak spots that can't be anticipated, and some won't have the savvy to prep like they should given hints of what is coming up. But repeated pounding with one type of attack, especially ability damage or drain, is not particularly fun, particularly it's not noticed in the prep and sneaks up during the encounter. In other APs, they'll throw an appropriate item in before an particularly tough area - like a wand of Restoration - and too bad for the party if they sell it. At least they had a chance. These folks sound pretty hard-pressed. Which is where, yes kids, it's the GM's job to help them out.

Liberty's Edge

It is a little heavy, but just bring it up to the GM and see if you can't come up with a solution if it is wrecking your fun.

I am sure the game designers have made note of the dislike so maybe that will change things in the future.

Our group doesn't have too much of an issue with ability damage. They are pretty creative in dodging any big issues. So personally I don't have a big problem with it. I also alter a bunch of material in each AP to make it more fun for the players and myself.

The GM could allow for lesser restoration as a standard action instead. No biggie. It is just a game.


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As others have said, "How dare the designers put something in their module that I don't feel like dealing with?" is a pretty whiny complaint. And then to top it off with threats bespeaks considerable immaturity, to put it gently. Sometimes your character has a hard time. Sometimes your whole party has a hard time. And sometimes those hard times come when you don't investigate all your options and think outside the box (to use a hateful term). If your standard tactics, be they "Kill everything as fast as we can" or anything else, aren't working, then you need to stop doing what you're doing and approach things in a different way. That's not metagaming, it's common sense.

Grand Lodge

Mothman wrote:
Matthew Trent wrote:
And for those of you from the peanut gallery metagaming and DM fiat is not an acceptable solution.

GM fiat is not always a good solution ... but sometimes it is. Your GM knows your party better than the module’s author or the Paizo designers do. If the GM knows that this party is not equipped to deal with a particular threat, or is becoming frustrated by something, or is liable to cry ‘Bad game design!’ when something doesn’t go their way, then changing things around is a perfectly acceptable solution. Cut some of those repetitive encounters, swap out shadows with ghasts, giant spiders with giant beetles, whatever. There is nothing wrong with this. No group should be expecting Paizo (or any company producing adventures) to get the mix exactly right for their party all the time.

It is part of the GM’s job to ensure that the players are enjoying the game. If there is clear frustration at an ongoing situation, or the players have clearly expressed they are not having fun, it is a poor choice as a GM to say ‘that’s how it’s written in the adventure, deal with it’. A good GM will change things, or explain things to the players. There is nothing wrong with saying ‘Yeah, I can see you guys are getting the short end of the stick with all this ability damage – don’t worry, this is an isolated part of the adventure, it’s not like this for much longer, hang in there.’ There’s also nothing wrong (if it works for your group) with implementing a house rule to make creatures do less ability damage, or make ability damage easier to repair, if done carefully and thoughtfully.

It’s not only the GM’s responsibility to ensure the players are having fun though, the players also have that responsibility for themselves. Communicate with the GM what the issue is, why things are un-fun. Take steps to ensure that your characters are not caught unprepared next time. Consider a party mix and character class choices that can deal with a wide range of different situations....

Absolutely right! The onus is on the GM to fit the campaign to his or her group.


Melissa Litwin wrote:
Mothman wrote:


If you don’t want sympathy (or a lack of it) then you’d do better asking for ideas or a solution to a perceived problem rather than having a rant, or at least that’s the view of things from up here on my high horse.

This is not an editorial review problem and I would hesitate to call it a game design problem – there is after all a low level solution to ability damage, it is called lesser restoration it’s on the cleric’s spell list (but you knew that), as well as being on the druid, paladin, alchemist, inquisitor, and oracle spell lists.

One solution of several is to have other members of the party also prepare or cast lesser restoration. Our group is not up to part 2 of this AP yet, so maybe we will feel similar frustrations when we do, but given that ¾ of our group has lesser restoration on their spell lists, probably not.

And yes, the view is still good from up here.

You are entitled to rant about ability drain being poor game design, but you have rather missed the boat on getting it changed for Pathfinder.

I'm glad your group happens to have the makeup necessary to survive and thrive in this environment. Our party of cleric, wizard, rogue, fighter, and magus is very nicely balanced and covers all major roles, but only one person can cast lesser restoration in this group. Maybe someone should reroll, but who? Into what? We all like our characters and have built up fairly decent in-game interaction and personalities. It's not uncommon to only have one person who can cast certain divine spells, especially utility.

Lesser restoration is an easy fix to small amounts of ability damage. When three people come out of a fight with 2 or 3 stats reduced by 5-6 points each, there's just not enough lesser restorations available to fix everyone unless the cleric memorizes every single 2nd level spell for two days as lesser restoration (which he did).

As for your response to meta-game more, that's not a real answer. It's really not. Our solution to D&D is usually...

It sounds like you have too many melee engaged against separate creatures at the same time if everyone is suffering that much ability damage. I've read the AP. It sounds like your DM is beefing up numbers or something. A group of characters with your party make-up should shred a bunch of what you're fighting.

This may be more a matter of your DM modifying encounters to make them more challenging and maybe going a little too far. Which you can't blame Paizo for.

No way the creatures you are fighting should last long enough to inflict 5 or 6 points of ability damage to 3 different characters. That seems very odd. Not unless none of you have put any effort into your defense or offense.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
Matthew Trent wrote:

If I wanted your sympathy i would ask for it. I want better editorial review of modules such that a normal party can have fun playing it.

I reserve the right to say that bad mechanics are bad.

Also, does ability damage = horror? I think not.

Paizo disagrees with your idea of 'normal party' and 'bad mechanics'.


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Other people have brought this up, but it does bear some repeating - you decided to play an AP that was billed as "Gothic/Cosmic Horror Mashup" from the start. The enemies that fit that description traditionally have lots and lots of ability damage and drain powers. So going in you had plenty of hints that this mechanic was going to be more relevant than usual. If you really hate dealing with it so much, you should have asked to play something else.

Dark Archive

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Chris Kenney wrote:
Other people have brought this up, but it does bear some repeating - you decided to play an AP that was billed as "Gothic/Cosmic Horror Mashup" from the start. The enemies that fit that description traditionally have lots and lots of ability damage and drain powers. So going in you had plenty of hints that this mechanic was going to be more relevant than usual. If you really hate dealing with it so much, you should have asked to play something else.

But,but the game should revolve around me and my likes and everyone else shouldn't matter.

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