What I Learned from Pathfinder Today

Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Let us know about all the valuable lessons Pathfinder, the dice and the GM have taught you!

Today Pathfinder taught me that fireball spells are powerful. Very powerful. So powerful, in fact, that underestimating their power can prove lethal.

Today Pathfinder taught me that it is actually possible to successfully complete a scenario after your cleric healer, one of your two barbarian warriors and your halfling bard have been immolated and reduced to piles of smoking ash.

Today Pathfinder taught me to ponder well the proposition "Let's play this scenario up to the next tier!" for pyromancers and the gods of probability despise arrogant adventurers.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Card Game, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Today, Pathfinder taught me that the joys of this game do not lie in the rolls of the dice or the treasure chests inside the dungeons, but the convivial atmosphere of fellowship and geekitude.

Grand Lodge

A Constitution 10 Arcane Duelist with AC18 should never, ever be on the front-line during a final, boss battle encounter.

Next lessons:

A Raise Dead spell is expensive.

Removing permanent negative levels using PP is also expensive.

Shadow Lodge

Aravandor... are you in Edric Nansen's group... :) He did say that it was a hard scenario, at least that's what he told us in the PFS forum...

If you were: pertaining to his query, did you guys have fun? He sounded kind of down about the experience. :/

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber

Today I learned that the Master Summonner is a one man Army.

Yes Eric, I was in the game Nansen ran last Sunday (Jan. 29 2012) in Asheville. I'm glad you asked, actually. Sometimes I let my sarcasm come across as being a great deal harsher than I intend to. That's doubly true with text as a medium. So let me clarify my bellyaching here:

A few other players and I got unlucky through a mixture of less than stellar tactics and bad luck in a scenario played up to a higher tier than we should have. I honestly believe that the same result could have happened with any other GM whether he were GMing in PFS for the first time like Nansen or whether he had years and years of experience.

We found one man (an approximately sixth level mage/sorcerer/demon/whatever) in a room. Two barbarian PCs rushed into the room ahead of the rest of us and the party cleric hung back in the previous room out of range to heal them. Not a great strategy, but hey, it's just one guy right? How bad could it be? Well once he starts detonating fireballs all over the place it got noticeably not good. Add in some unlucky rolls by the first guy to get into melee range with the caster and bad goes to worse. I get into range to channel some healing and a fireball detonates close enough to incinerate me in one shot along with an already wounded ally. A few failed saving throws and bam! you have one third of the party DOA.

But honestly, that is in no way a reflection of the GM. Nansen started out by repeatedly saying "Are you guys sure you want to play this one up?" We said yes. "This one is gonna be hard to play it. It'll be tough. Are you guys REALLY sure you want to play up a tier?" Of course we were sure. We even calculated the average level to ensure it was rules legal to play up. The numbers came to the very minimum figure to play up. "Let's do it!" we said. Then Nansen actually asks us each in turn and said he wouldn't play it up unless we all agreed to. I mean, how many times does the GM have to try to keep the players from hanging themselves? (In his defense, Eaghen had some reservations about it, but he eventually agreed making it unanimous.)

So I was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had bad dice rolls. I lost a newly created character. But also I laughed my ass off during that game many different times. I had a few beers and I socialized. I witnessed a player GMing for the first time. I think Nansen did well. GMing is a hard thing to do and it's easy to sit back and criticize. Soon enough I'll be trying my hand at GMing and if I do as well as he did, I'll certainly consider it a success. I'm not at all sure that I'll do half as well.

I started this thread to share anecdotes from games in good humor. It didn't occur to me that it may seem kind of passive aggressive from another point of view. My character got fried and that's not an ideal outcome but I have no hard feelings. Adventuring would be insanely risky business. Sometimes, heroes (and those aspiring to be heroic but falling short) die. In a way, I'm kinda glad it happened. It'll keep me more on my toes in the future.

So far I haven't played a PFS scenario and walked away thinking "Wow I wished I stayed at home." or "I wish I went out to the bar instead." I still had a good time that night. Nansen shouldn't feel down about how he ran the scenario. I think he did a damn good job.

Oh, and by the way:

By some miracle the three surviving players actually successfully completed the mission!

Shadow Lodge

I wasn't trying to call you out or anything, I just got the feeling that he felt pretty crappy about the situation, and if you guys had fun, try to make sure he knows that. I love GM'ing, and I know that one bad scenario/module/adventure for a new GM could really turn them off of it. It really wasn't anyone's fault, since everyone was up for it. And as long as you had fun hanging with friends, I'd say you succeeded in your goal as a group, no matter what happened with the scenario.

Now, Today, Pathfinder taught me its not fun to be grappled by a burrowing creature twice in a row. (Since they can move down on that second grapple...)

I also learned that web + grease = FUN!

Sovereign Court

It was not learned today, it was learned two weeks ago, but I learned that stoneskin can turn a rogue into quite an efficient killing machine. I just hope I am always on the giving and never the reeciving end. ;)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

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Hmm, I've learned my dice do not agree with my bluff attempts.

I've learned it's nice to game with people who catch when I cast comprehend languages and say "Stewardess! Stewardess! I speak Jive."

I've learned that I'll have to warn in advance if I bring my niece to play.

The Exchange

I learned (again) not to take that first shot at the BBE, just because I'll get my sneak dice... Hang back, stay hidden and snip around the edges. Let the meat shield do what he does best...

(and yeah, getting stomped into the dirt for doing stupid things can be fun... with the right mix of friends at the table).

my players learned, again, why it is important for Everyone to have a ranged weapon.

The Exchange

I learned that there is always people at a Con I should avoid... and some of them Judge. I just wish I could identify them before I sit at a table with them.

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nosig wrote:
I learned that there is always people at a Con I should avoid... and some of them Judge. I just wish I could identify them before I sit at a table with them.


I find the same is true with future ex-wives. The problem is that by the time I realize my mistake, I've done a whole lot more than just sit with them!

Matthew Morris wrote:

I've learned it's nice to game with people who catch when I cast comprehend languages and say "Stewardess! Stewardess! I speak Jive."

Now you just need a hero with the "drinking problem" trait.

Silver Crusade

I learned today that Pathfinder is wonderful because I'll never have to sit and listen to one of my co-workers expound on her hormonal imbalances while playing it.

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber

One of my players discovered that Dim. Dooring to the "Black area on the floor" is very unhealthy when it turns out to be an elder black pudding.

Silver Crusade

I've learned that even in character you should take a second to game plan with the other meat shield...

I've learned that even if you are damn sure you will never need rations, buy rations.

I've learned that the Goods and Services list is essentially a long list of must-have items for any adventurer.

Seriously though, my DM has NEVER asked us to buy or keep track of rations outside of his dungeon crawl where rest points and shops are few and far between. Then in another homebrew campaign we get locked in a haunted house. Suddenly, we need rations.... The only one who HAD rations was my GF, who warned everybody we need rations (I spent all my money on getting some wonderous items I needed), who was playing the hot-headed, hot-tempered, burning hands using great sword wielding ifrit barbarian... Who unfortunately only had 10 days worth of rations for herself. And the undine cleric played up the whole 'fire and water hate each other' cliche too much by conjuring water over her head any chance he got.... And since the party never really told him to stop, other than my Oread Inquisitor's warning of retribution at angry barbarian hands, she was not happy about sharing her rations, lol.

Silver Crusade

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Last weekend, I learned this: Our characters are complex, with many strengths and a proportionate number of weaknesses. One needs to learn their character and be thoroughly in tune with this. In particular, know their character's strengths and use them...and not try to do things that are not clear strengths. You may only have a round or two to have an impact...hit the baddies hard with the best you've got, knock 'em down and don't let 'em get up...or you're likely to be rolling up a new character come Sunday morning.

A very important corrolary to this pertains to visions of a character who can do a little of everything. It is good to have a well-rounded character, but in my opinion even bards should single out one thing they want to be really good at, whether it is offensive casting or buff/debuff or melee or whatever...and maintain primary focus on that. I'm not advocating min-maxing mind you, jsut saying I believe a character that is mediocre at a large number of things is...well...mediocre. Next character (probably a bard) I roll up I will pick one thing to be awesome at...and every choice I make during the roll-up process will be heavily influenced by it. There will be times where I sacrifice a little awesomeness for some versatility, but that will be the exception, not the rule.

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I learned that you should never play up if you attached to a character. And that unoptimized, ridiculous character ideas are tons of fun!

Poison is nasty to first level characters. Especially repeated sources of poison.

I learned that you should remember everything you got in inventory, even stupid, mundane item.

Vuvu wrote:
I learned that you should never play up if you attached to a character. And that unoptimized, ridiculous character ideas are tons of fun!

Amen! and also: it's hard to inject real character into a min/maxed collection of statistics.

The Exchange

Well, one thing PF taught me is never, ever to assume that "they didn't change this rule since last edition."

The d20 system in general has taught me a lesson that I summed up years ago on a big 'D&D Haiku' thread.

Fail at simple tasks,
Succeed when impossible,
Fickle d20!

And last week I discovered that lighting a sunrod in an evening snowstorm does not improve your visibility.

Last monday I learned that 5000+ lb 10 foot tall ancient thassilonian wizards make great battering rams.

Shadow Lodge

Saturday I learned that it's hard to roleplay an intelligent item while not sounding crazy.

Last Thursday I learned that killing 30 town guards with a cloudkill spell instead of rescuing orphans from a burning building is bad.

Last Friday I learned that if the first roll of the game is a 20 on a knowledge check, you will never, ever roll well on a stealth check for the rest of the session, even if you are at +18.

I learned that killing the captain of the guards and running out of the city is never a good idea. Even if you leave a note that says "He was Evil. I promise."

If it weren't for those stupid d20s, I'd be one happening dude.

Damn you, random chance! Damn you to Hell!

I learned the meanings of the words "cucurbit", "hebephrenia" and "doxy"!

Oh wait -- that was the AD&D DMG. ;-)

I learned that fire breathing chimera didn't want to be my friend.

I learned today that giving your players the chance to control several chained peon prisoners can make for a very fun hour.

I learned AGAIN that what I (as a GM) think is the obvious path forward will not be even considered by my players...

My players learned that fighting a Storm Born Sorcerer outdoors is a bad idea.

I learned that playing a paranoid wizard who wears celestial armor despite the ASF chance can be quite fun. Of course the other players dont seem to like it when my spells dont work at the most inopportune times :) I cast FIREBA... um.. nevermind.

I also learned that if you plan your attack ahead of time and actually buff up, the battle goes much smoother.

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I learned that WAlls of Force don't tend to have much give... even if you have a speed of 80 and get a good running start to create a LOT of momentum.

Bug... meet windshield.


And before you ask.. no, i didn't realize the WoF was there in the first place.

I learned that as a GM I should probably memorize some of the things on the character sheet of that one player who doesn't know the rules as well as the rest of the group.

It probably really would have helped the party if she'd remembered that her campaign trait adds +2 HP to all her healing spells.

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i learned it is never a good idea to fight a crocodile near a body of water while in full plate armor.

Shadow Lodge

Today(well, yesterday) I learned that caravan wagons bolted to ruin walls to be used as fortress gates do not care one whit about alchemist bombs. Hardness is an interesting thing. Naturally I was the only one to think that lighting the gate on fire to get to Aspis blaggards was a kooky idea.

Also learned to double-triple check your bonuses for that one ability or feat. Because remembering you took Big Game Hunter can be a lifesaver when assaulting fortresses defended by girallons.

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Witches are the first thing you should target at the beginning of every combat.

I learned that you never trust a shady guy in a nicknack shop called Pickled Imp, unless you give him a keg of beer.

Also, blinding an 80 year old lady with ink in an orphanage where she is hated makes you a hero to the kids. (Damn raciest old ladies)

(At Winter War) I learned that demons don't appreciate having a fireball pitched their way, and sometimes the response is not so subtle.

Also, chasing bunnies as a past time may not be a healthy activity.

I learned that a rogue that contemplates doing something a bit shady is trusted less than the wizard that originally came up with the idea.

I also learned that for some reason a rogue that contemplates doing something a bit shady is forever after trusted less than a freaken evil shadow dragon ?!?

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

PaperAngel wrote:

I learned that you never trust a shady guy in a nicknack shop called Pickled Imp, unless you give him a keg of beer.

Also, blinding an 80 year old lady with ink in an orphanage where she is hated makes you a hero to the kids. (Damn raciest old ladies)

From GMing that very scenario:

If you tell the players "you really don't need a dedicated healer", they will hear "no one will take any damage at all so you don't need any healing options whatsoever" and will then piss and moan when two people go unconscious in the final fight and no one in the whole group thought to buy a potion of CLW because you lied to them you big fat jerk. :P

Silver Crusade

Last night I learned that Scorching Ray can be very harmful to 2nd level characters.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Last night, two players learned heavy encumbrance + bestow curse + Swim checks = gurgle, gurgle, gurgle

I learned how quickly they can pull out their next fully filled out character sheet. I then taught them items from their last character don't automatically go onto said sheets...

Silver Crusade

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Last night one of my players learned that just because she is a cleric of a sex goddess does not mean she will automatically do it with you.

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