New GM running campaign with high-powered players. Requesting Advice

Wrath of the Righteous

This will be along post, I need to just write out what I have in my head. If you would please read through it and then give me some feedback or constructive criticism on how to better manage my campaign and players, I would be most grateful.

My table has just completed book 1. They have reached 6th level and mythic tier 1. When I first started this campaign back in September I had 6 players at the table. Due to this I generally increased the number of enemies by 1.5 to offset the increase in players. Over time attrition has affected my group and right now I have a solid table of 4 players. My most pressing issue with the table is that I am playing with three players who are masterful powergamers.

The 'effectiveness' to which these guys slaughter encounters would be admirable if it weren't so damn frustrating for me. This is my first AP and originally I had wanted to run the books as closely to as written as possible. I just wanted to focus on gaining experience as a GM and not have to worry about how to build encounters. However I have learned that I simply cannot do that.

My table is very combat-heavy. The designated healer of the group is actually the hardest hitter because he somehow devised a way to hit with a lucerne for 1d12+12 vs demons. He was doing this at level 4!! This guy easily does more damage than the paladin does when he is smitting! Another concern of mine is how often the players metagame. I very frequently hear 'i bet these clerics don't have combat reflexes, so I'm going to move in this manner to provoke all their AOO's for my teammates." I hate metagaming at the table. It kills all the fun I have from trying to tell an engaging and interesting story.

For most of the first book, I started by giving all the enemies max HP, then I started to apply advanced simple templates, then I started to just make up abilities for the enemies because the party was quite literally slaughtering everything I put them against. I mean, these guys are 'almost' breezing through CR +3 or +4 encounters! I can barely keep enemies alive for two rounds! You are probably interested in hearing this, but I beefed up the evil clerics encountered throughout the first book. In one fight with the base clerics, I gave the clerics a 2d6 channel burst with a will save of 16. I did this on the cuff without planning it because I was so frustrated with the party. This ended up being on of the more memorable encounters as it really scared some of the party members because they can't block or negate the damage.

As a GM, I am more interested in the story, the feel, and the atmosphere of a campaign. I want to have the players go through a challenging moment before I give them something good, but the way in which they slaughter everything awesome (like mythic tier 1).

I have realized that I need to deviate from the books. Instead of thinking vertically and simply increasing the number of enemies and their stats, I need to think creatively to challenge this party. In this endeavor, I am looking for advice and suggestions on what I could do.

The party is very martially heavy. I haven't audited the characters in a few levels so I am a bit fuzzy on the specific build my players are using. Here is the list of characters being played:
1) Aasimaar Cleric (Party healer, uses a lucerne and hits demons for 1d12+12, other enemies for 1d12+6, this guy is a f@!&ing beast and I hate his damn reach and AOO)

2) Aasimar Paladin (standard paladin, I expect him to hit hard however his ridiculously high AC is a tough barrier to get past)

3) Half-elf Drow Swordlord (I can't believe that just by switching some racial traits this guy gets access to darkness and fairy fire as spell-like abilities. He cheeses his Crane wing all the time which is fine but he complains if he doesn't get to deflect anything or everything)

4) Elf Sorcerer (This is actually my favorite PC because the player plays the character and not the game. Unfortunately she is electricity based and most demons are immune to electricity. I want to give her something so that she can still do her damage and feel cool.)

5) Human Figher/Inquisitor (This guy is fun to play because he focuses on the bull rush feat line but he doesn't often make it to the games)

They have fought nearly all the encounters by charging the enemies and then hitting them all until they stop moving. I want to scare these guys, make them think and act differently. I want to evoke emotions and suspense at the table, not just run perfunctory campaign.

Ideas of Mine:

- Hit the party in their weaknesses: RP encounters (difficult because of paladin's high Diplomacy), No ranged support for the party, more environmental/terrain difficulties.

-Make an 'anti-party' of three NPC's that have access to everything the players do. I'm thinking a tiefling synthesist summoner who has bound a good angel, an evil cleric, and perhaps an evil gunslinger mercenary. I would like this group to become recurring villains.

-Infuse more 'chaos' into the campaign. I want to build a crystal or portable shrine that each round emits a different effect depending on what I role. Like a -2 to all good people within 60 ft, slow-spell effect, tremors, negative burst, rifts in material plane to abyss, etc. My idea is to augment the battlefield.

- I don't want to kill the PC's, just make it more difficult for them.

Thank you for reading!

Dark Archive

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I'd be interested to know how the cleric is getting +6 damage vs demons.

Although +12 damage isn't that hard to pull off at level 6 with divine favor, high str, and two handed power attack.

You seem to be doing a good job adjusting things on the fly to add more challenge.

I think you need to take a step back, though, and not look at things as much of a player vs GM mentality. Mythic heroes are supposed to breeze through a lot of the encounters you throw at them. And stomping through some encounters is fun for the PCs. But feel free to beef up the mythic enemies they face, who can do lot of the same crazy stuff they can.

Mythic rules means that the whole campaign is going to be very powergamey.

What bothers me the most, however, is the electricity based sorceror. This is a really bad campaign for that build, and you really should have let the character know that when they were making the character. You should probably allow them to rewrite some so they aren't so focused on an element that all demons are immune to.

I am also interested in knowing how the cleric is getting the extra +6 vs demons! (hence the character audit)

+12 damage is unbuffed. This is his base damage vs demons. against other enemies it's just +6, somehow he is able to double is damage modifier vs demons.

I agree that sometimes i get caught up in the GM vs player mentality. When the players blatantly use metagaming and play the tabletop game using its rules that kills my fun. I want to tell an epic story, not run a dice rolling game being the guy that always loses.

Keep in mind that my party has only just reached mythic tier. Everything that I wrote concerns their first 6 levels. I expect powergaming, but the level with which i need to adjust encounters is a bit staggering.

I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you on the sorcerer. I am new to GMing and when I helped her make her character (actually I didn't help her, the cleric guy did) she based her character off of Azula from the Avatar: Last Airbender show. To help fix her character, I'm debating giving her a boon, artifact, or feat that allows her to cast so many spells per day as if they had the good descriptor. So if she uses her lightning bolt, it can do good damage instead of lightning. To offset this I'm thinking about giving her some RP conditions to fulfill i.e. she needs to play like a paladin to keep this boon. Should be interesting.

Thank you for your feedback.

Scarab Sages

Honestly, there's a fairly easy answer to how fast the enemies drop.

Don't drop them. Unless you're showing them the HP every time, make an enemy barely survive a blow if his action is next. Don't do it every time, but the occasional 'what, you dropped him to two HP. Sorry.' can make a big difference.

Also, for your reach guy. He doesn't threaten the squares directly next to him by default. If something survives his first hit, it's now a five foot step to a full attack on his face.

These are enemies with the Worldwound behind them. Start having extra pre-combat buffs of Potions of Barkskin, False Life, etc. at a high CL. If they've pre-drank them, it doesn't give the party anything extra but gives your enemies those few extra points of AC or HP that can make or break them.

Also, meta-game right back at your players. Keep their stats and feats handy and play the enemies against them. If they complain, tell them you'll even the field if they do.

As you've just finished book 1, and by the description of your players, I would seriously look at the effect they may have with a hundred level 4 Paladins in the mass combat. They may try to keep them alive for other uses. Let 'em, but be careful of what they do. If they try to Paladin swarm the couple of places prior to Drezen make sure to reflect that on the overall HP of the mass combat unit.

As for the sorcerer, I would suggest you allow him to respec. There are very few things that'll let him penetrate immunity to an element. Or if he's taken archmage, gift him specifically with the ability to Elemental Spell Metamagic at will as a path ability.

1d12 + 12 is causing you problems?

That is a really reasonable amount. That's a 18 Str character power attacking at level 6. (+6 Str +6 Power attack)

Even at level 4 that isn't very far out of reach. I have no idea how he is getting a +6 against demons, but frankly I don't see how 18.5 damage per round is too much. Is the cleric really overshadowing your combats or is he just a heavy hitter instead of a dedicated healer?

As to how to challenge your party:

Flying creatures

The three players you have issue with are all melee. Have a few winged archers and they will hate them.

In Sword of Valor

You can have Nurah be much nastier with here sabotage. Its likely the party doesn't have very many ward/defensive spells/abilities running at all times since they are focused on damage. This means when she goes invisible she can poison the PCs rations, steal valued items and hide them in good officer's tents, or heck, give her the ability to curse an item or two of the PCs. Be sure not to pick on just one PC with this though. If the mage goes to cast a spell and her purse begins to slap her, and the cleric is sickened from bad water, something is afoot. If the clerics weapons are missing and when he goes to don his armor it fights him, then you are picking on one PC.

Also odds are the Cleric will take Soulshear from Staunton. Don't let him know it's evil/intelligent. You can wreak mass havoc on the party with that item's summon ability alone. With more creativity you can have the party need to intervene on the Cleric's behalf.

Spell Casters

Spell casters tear through melee types. There are a bunch of juicy ones coming up, don't be too afraid to use them to their fullest. Also remember, they can run and fight again after their meat shields die.


Your PCs are mostly melee, it isn't your job to make sure the party can easily fight the enemies. If they can stay behind an arrow slit, they should. PCs don't like being told they can't attack, but they like having to solve a problem. Make sure you toss an encounter or two their way where they can use terrain to their advantage.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Only two observations for the moment, although I will try to give more tips in the next days:

1.) You are not obligated to have opponents take their AoO's when someone moves through their threatened space. So if you hear your guys metagaming like that, don't take the bait and keep those AoO's for the less armored PC's.

2.) Using Crane Wing depends on being able to use defensive fighting. Which means you need to be able to melee attack someone on your turn. So, unless the Swordlord PC managed to get into melee and attack (i.e. get into range with a single move action, which is not always easy with teleporting, flying demons and difficult terrain), his whole Crane Style shtick doesn't work.

Lochar: Thank you for your feedback. I like how supportive the community is.

Bartleby42: Yes, the cleric is overshadowing the party. He consistently does more damage than the paladin does when the paladin is smiting a demon. Also, the most frustrating thing I find with him is his 10 ft reach. Swinging a lucerne onto an enemies head requires wide movements, though the three problem players are all experienced GM's so if I call a rule down I need to be sure that it is legit or at least be able to quote a rulebook.

Magnuskn: Yes, in the future I will not be taking AoO's just because I can. Crane Wing is very situational so I need to learn what it allows for in what situations so that I can beat it when I want to.

Grand Lodge

I had an experienced player start with a pole arm in my seven player party. At this point though, he only uses it on occasion. When I actually looked up the area that a pole arm threatens, which is odd, and the rules for working with them, I was able to maneuver foes into his blind spots, and just keep him wrapped up in melee. Also, monster's with reach can shut down some of the effectiveness of a pole arm as well. If you're using mini's, sketch out the area that's effected by a pole arm off to the side as a reference. It helped me a lot, and nipped abuses of that in the bud.

I'd give the sorcerer a chance to respec as well. Or, give her the option of permanently swapping the elemental types of some of her spells. Let her make the electric based spells fire, acid, or cold based. Not sonic though, don't let her pick sonic. The look of the spell can remain the same, and enemies chance to ID with spellcraft doesn't change (including their ability to spot the element swap), but it let's her be more effective while still keeping the theme.

Finally, from my experience in running games for larger groups and experienced players, there are a few little things. Hit points become a suggestion, add a hundred points, maybe two or three. And if you find you've added too many, take a chunk off. Not hitting well enough against, AC builds, bump their attack up, but maybe drop the damage a bit (don't do this too often, as it can end up in an arms race, and no one wants that. Just one they're getting cocky about it...). Add a feat. Don't matter if it's at the end of a long feat chain, they just have it now. Just that one. Bonus feat!

Most important is to know your group, and that changes shouldn't make them less cool/amazing, just that they are challenged. And hell, if they've built a tight, well constructed party, let them roll over a bunch of minor encounters. Compliment them for how well they've crushed those cultists. Having NPC's nearby be in awe of them. Just don't forget to hit them with some big, harder baddies. Enemies that a reasonably built, or less expertly built, party would be CRUSHED by. Weave their power gaming into a adventure like this one.

The things I did to that mythic chimera. Glorious! Party one was put into almost entirely reactive stance, and was almost wiped out by it. Had to actually power him down a little mid fight to make sure they weren't (so I did, because as GM, I'd powered him too far, and needed to adjust back down to make the fight fun for everyone, and it worked, the group loved it!). Can't wait to see how party two reacts to it this evening!

First of all allow the sorcer player to rebuild his sorcerer from scratch, seriously electricity vs demons? he won't be able to use anything.

I am also considering how the cleric gets +6 vs demons but the +12 unbuffed isn't something out of proportions, especially if you gave them a generous point buy and/or the AP isn't stingy with the treasure.

I consider the "i assume that this creature(s) don't have combat reflexes so i move in a way that proves AoO from all of them so X can do Y without worrying about AoO" to be tactics and not metagaming. I would consider metagaming if the player remembers that stat block of a monster, or checks it in his phone, remembers that this monster doesn't have combat reflexes and then use the above tactic.

What i can suggest to you is talk to your players, tell them that you continue playing like this because you have the issues you told us and ask them to make their builds a bit worse (offer them rebuild) or ask for someone else to take your place behind the screen because you won't be able keep doing what you are doing.

Two ideas:

1) Start pushing your players to DESCRIBE. Instead of "I rolled an 82", get them to describe what their character does. "I raise my sword high, and bring it crashing down upon the skull of the demon"

It's the first step in getting them to care about story, and thereby move away from numbers.

2) Give the sorcerer some like the Amulet of Thunder, which allows spells to be converted from lightning to thunder damage (sonic). Allows them to function, retains the theme.

Dark Archive

Did you not realize adventures are written to be surviveable by new players who.would build terribly designed characters? If adventures were written to be challenging, especially low level adventures, so many new players would get wiped out and thus get a sour taste for the game that many players giveing the game try would quite and never come back. Maybe higher level adventures are meant to be challenging because those players are expected to have stuck around long enough that they would not quite after one fall after so many successes. If you have experienced players who build solid designs, don't fool yourself into ever thinking you are ever going to seriously challenge them. The game rewards offense so much more than defense that you cannot be surprised how hard it is to keep badguys alive for 3-5 rounds. Accept the fact that the game is rocket launcher offensive tag.and designed to be that way so combats end quickly instead of always taking 10-20 rounds like it would be if defense was given as many viable rule options as offense us given.

I cannot help but suspect the AP for Mythic characters is meant to be a power grip for the players.

Do not forget that the AP expects.players to succeed and move on. The story you keep on wanting to tell is the story of the PCs successes. The story is really just the part that you read as a DM, remember that the players will never get to enjoy the story as much as the GM as they will never get all the behind the curtains info the GM gets.. The combats are really just meant to be the playground of the players.

Sometimes when I PC a game.of Pathfinder Society, I worry about how bad the combat looks. Next week when I GM the same scenario and see the statblocks, I realise the badguys were a bunch of chumps and discover the prior week's combat was nowhere as bad as it looked. It was just a sting of really high rolls on one side and really bad rolls on the players side.

Do not feel a necessity to run monsters as they are in the bestiary. Have you ever seen how many feats they have that are often worthless? Skill focus survival does not do much for a fight. Do not feel the necessity to power attack and miss. Consider swapping it out for weapon focus claw or horn.

You are taking damage reduction into account right? Consider the feats that increase DR or AC.

You have to audit PCs. Almost nobody gets it 100% right. I know the rules better than most but still sometimes find errors when I self audit.

Also keep in mind that andventure paths assume 15 point buy, if you went with something like 2d6+6 roll 5 sets and pick one expect everyone to be much more powerful (especially at first levels).

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Some good advice in this thread so far not just for the OP but really any new DM, take it to heart. That said I'll limit own advice.

First off, 'i bet these clerics don't have combat reflexes, so...., isn't a case of metagaming, its combat savvy that comes from playing, you should congratulate them on this. Guys a cleric, he's wise but not dexterous, probably, good bet to do just what your player did there. Now if the player starts quoting stats like he's read the module, yeah theres your metagaming.

Second, and this is freakn huge, keep your frustrations to a minimum and don't turn the game into a DM Vs. PCs match. You will always win, until you become known as a killer DM, after which you will always be alone.

Honestly, this probably isn't the best series for a first timer with a group of powergamers. Possibly not even a good group for you to be DM'ing at all since you seem to be worried about telling the story rather than simply rolling empty dice, although your sorc sounds like she has the right idea, maybe not the best mechanics though. That's a good thing to have on your part as a DM, story first, mechanics later. Keep following that and you'll come out fine. This is after all a roleplaying game.

Oh, and uh, +6 on demons eh? Uh-huh. You trust this guy do you? I see. I'd probably give that one a good look. Stuff like that is just gonna get worse later on....

Right now my gm is getting frustrated with how wacky powerful the pcs in my group are.

We are a ways through book 2, and the 4 of us are at level 11.

We are a reach based fighter, Cavalier (me), wizard, and oracle. My class is mostly below average, but I am brutalizing encounters. Anytime I can ever ride my horse, nothing can stop me. With mythic lunge, mythic combat reflexes, the fighter threatens a HUGE area and does massive damage on anything that provokes because of his static bonuses. There has only been 1 scary encounter in both books.

The encounters feel so easy that our wizard and oracle barely have anything to do. They have plenty of powerful spells waiting, but they choose just to relax and save them for a special moment. The GM has been even adding mythic tiers to things and we STILL blow through them.

One of the main issues seems to be a common sense issue with the enemies. A lot of their main tactics are

Trying to dominate us OR summoning help
, but every time we fight we have
protection from evil
, which completely shuts down their main tricks. It seems obvious to always do what we are doing? The poor will save of me and the fighter are basically a non issue.

Another fun fact: Being neutral is incredibly powerful in this campaign, because

lol antipaladins waste smites on you

Liberty's Edge

CWheezy wrote:

We are a ways through book 2, and the 4 of us are at level 11.

Considering you're at a level where the AP presumes you'd be midway through book three, I'm not terribly surprised you're steamrolling through book two.

As noted up-thread, for an atypical party, it's up to the GM to modify the adventure path to suit. Some parties may require more modification than others. =)

We actually are midway through book three, whoops.

They kind of all blend together in my mind

Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

I suspect the cleric is just taking advantage of some situational bonus to hit demons to power attack vs. demons, and isn't power attacking otherwise. That would easily account for the additional +6.

I see this sort of query a lot, and I think a great deal of it has to do with managing expectations on both sides of the table. I'm paying a lot of attention to this, because I'm close to starting my own Wrath of the Righteous, and with two players who are going to, as a matter of course, because that's what they're used to, look to the full casters in the group to solve everything that isn't solved by direct violence, through the use of spells. And to expect to enter any significant fight with multiple minute/level and round/level spell buffs on.

I don't mind if they stomp most of the regular fights (though I will be applying the Advanced template and max'ing enemy HP as a matter of course, as well as periodically adding additional foes, mostly by combining encounters into waves). It's the boss fights I worry about, especially those where the party has a chance to buff up. Because I play like that sometimes too, and I know what happens.

Last week, in between books 2 & 3 of Kingmaker, the GM of that campaign put us against an encounter I think he manufactured himself. I think he expected it to be more dangerous, but because he allowed us to ambush the single enemy, it was a joke. The foe didn't even last a full round. Why? Because we were able to enter the fight knowing what we were up against, with appropriate defensive and offensive buff spells in place.

So the general tips I've picked up from the forums (some of this will be redundant):

  • Know your players, obviously. Know what they want, and can do, as both players and characters. That means both looking over character sheets periodically and talking to the players about their characters and playstyles. When looking at the character sheets, you're looking to understand any rules they're using, checking for math errors, and keeping an eye on character wealth (more to adjust loot and challenges than to take it away). Understand how the players want to handle combats; should every combat be a serious challenge? If so, you may even want to hand-wave the easier combats into narrative.
  • This also means coming to an understanding with the players as to what to emphasize. Some players want nothing but combat after combat, interspersed with treasure and leveling up. Some players want a lot of time spent roleplaying. Find something that both you and the players can be happy with. Then tailor the campaign to that much combat, that much roleplaying. Discuss what levels of metagaming are suitable, and remember that many enemies are as intelligent as PCs.
  • The easiest ways to boost encounters are the Advanced template and max HP for NPCs.
  • Play the enemies, especially the boss-grade enemies, actively and dynamically. Creatures in nearby rooms will respond to the sounds of combat, not just wait around for the PCs to enter their room. Spellcasters will cast their buffs, even ones not listed in their tactics block. A spellcasting boss may show up to assist against the party for a round or two before retreating to the next strongpoint. Feel free to adjust some of the spells known or prepared.
  • Addition to above, but merits its own bullet point: if the party retreats, the enemy will find reinforcements if at all possible. They'll set up more defensible positions, difficult terrain, traps, and the like.
  • If the party is standing outside a room they're sure contains a boss fight, and buffing, then the boss is either in there, also buffing and summoning, or the boss isn't even there. If the party relies on being able to pre-buff for every combat they expect will be major, then fake them out occasionally, or have the enemy get away. Also don't forget that many spellcasting enemies can dispel, and that the enemies who paused outside your door for a solid minute of chanting are coming in stuffed to the gills with dispellable magical effects - trying to remove those is just good sense.
  • Unless you've agreed with the players to focus only on the major combats, make sure they have too much adventuring time to be able to do the 15-minute workday. Find ways to slow them down so the minute per level buffs don't last for the entire dungeon (anything to get them to pause, even just longer hallways and bigger rooms to make travel take longer).
  • More enemies generally trumps one big enemy. This is mostly because of action economy and vulnerability to debuffs, but also because when you have to power up just one foe enough to challenge an optimized party, you really get into rocket launcher tag. If you're only going to have one or two rounds to act, you've got to get all your impact and threat in those two standard actions. Which means those have to be particularly deadly. If, instead, you've got a few enemies, not all clustered where one spell can cripple them, you've got far more actions to take, and you can disperse a similar total amount of damage to the party. Basically this gives you a chance to challenge the party without playing into an AC/save bonus arms race, where the party starts pushing their defenses up to incredible heights because every failed save kills. It also makes action-denial less able to entirely shut down an encounter.
  • Space is your friend. If the party opens the door and the fighter is a 5-ft step away from the enemy wizard, then the enemy wizard is going to have a very bad time. If the fighter has to cross 20 or 30 feet of difficult terrain, maybe a trap, maybe just an improvised trap or hazard - spill that brazier of coals or something, just enough to make the party think twice before just charging.

Okay, I have been following the comments on this thread so far, and I would like to clear up what the oracle is doing to get his +6. He took a level of ranger to get the favored enemy bonus and the martial weapon skills and he has a trait and perhaps an archetype. This guy knew he was fighting demons so he made a demon killer. Can't really blame the guy.

I have decided to change my viewpoint on the game, or rather how I approach the game. There need to be 'easy' fights so the players feel awesome, there need to be 'story' fights where these fights just happen, and then there are the 'difficult' fights where I get to challenge the PC's.

Thank you all for the help and the advice. I will update the threads (or even this thread) with an update as my party starts to move through Book 2.

One last bit of requesting advice though: If I wanted to break or steal a PC's weapon, how would I best go about doing it? I want to sort of kick the table leg out from a PC or two and make them think or act differently.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Sunder chain of feats is pretty much the way the way to go to break weapons. As for stealing them, Rogue, high levels of stealth and sleight of hand, come in the night when they sleep.

One last bit of requesting advice though: If I wanted to break or steal a PC's weapon, how would I best go about doing it? I want to sort of kick the table leg out from a PC or two and make them think or act differently.

I highly suggest talking with your player(s) (outside the game) about this before you do it in the game. Explain your reasoning and they may be fine with it. But, every player I have DMed for would quit playing if I just did something like this to them with no warning. People dislike being told they can not do something and playing their characters how they built them to be played is top of that list for many of us. Yet, if tell them what you want to do (and why) and give them the option of going along with it or not they will likely go along with it.

As for the metagaming problem: If they said, "I'm going to charge through the line of enemy clerics so as to draw their attacks away from my friends!" Rather than talk about attacks of opportunity and such would you that better? If so then tell them that you'd rather hear the characters thoughts on why he would do the action rather than the meta comments and that the characters have no concept of game mechanics.

Talking to the players is always the key.

Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Sunder works fine, especially since a sundered weapon can be repaired with mending or make whole. Or, if the item isn't particular valuable or sentimental, just replaced.

But the question is why you're doing that. And especially the perception by the players. If the fighter feels like you're taking his specialized, expensive, important-to-his-effectiveness weapon away, he may be quite angry, especially if it feels either arbitrary or like a punishment.

One fighter I'm playing has this awesome, overpowered, far-too-good sword (it's about a +12 equivalent, and only +3 of that is actual enhancement). Early on, when it was just a +1 keen with potential to do something more awesome that wasn't yet specified, it was nearly destroyed by a bad fight with a Remorhaz. I was about ready to just walk away from the game. If something similar happened now, I probably would (I didn't design the item, and well over half of the character's offensive combat capability is tied up in that sword). An item that's important should never be destroyed or taken away unless it's part of the story.

If the players managed to get an item that's just too good, you could destroy it or take it away, or you could sit down with the players, discuss why the item is too good, and weaken the item, or have it have limited charges that run out, or have it stolen (with player, but not character, agreement), and not recoverable either ever, or until it's appropriate to the party again.

Dark Archive

robotnel wrote:

Okay, I have been following the comments on this thread so far, and I would like to clear up what the oracle is doing to get his +6. He took a level of ranger to get the favored enemy bonus and the martial weapon skills and he has a trait and perhaps an archetype. This guy knew he was fighting demons so he made a demon killer. Can't really blame the guy.

I have decided to change my viewpoint on the game, or rather how I approach the game. There need to be 'easy' fights so the players feel awesome, there need to be 'story' fights where these fights just happen, and then there are the 'difficult' fights where I get to challenge the PC's.

Thank you all for the help and the advice. I will update the threads (or even this thread) with an update as my party starts to move through Book 2.

One last bit of requesting advice though: If I wanted to break or steal a PC's weapon, how would I best go about doing it? I want to sort of kick the table leg out from a PC or two and make them think or act differently.

There is not a feat/archetype/trait combo that will let you get +6 damage vs demons with one level of ranger.

Regarding Metagaming; I have a very experienced player at the table who dominates the in battle conversation with "recommendations."

Often they would take long discussions over their next courses of action (especially out of combat) for issues like how to cross the river without having to cross at Villareth ford recognizing the tactical threat is posed.

There simply comes a time when you have to put your GM hat on. I started off our last session and cautioned the party; "where you may know the various spells available in depth as player; you might of the PFSRD open and can look at the spell list; I will grant that even your bard may know ""a little bit of that"". Your characters in general do not share in that knowledge."

Play your roles or I will have to start penalizing your experience for poor role play.

I expect party members to ask the wizard "do you know of any spell to cross the river" and if he cannot think of one, they do not start listing off spells like they have +15 in Knowledge: Arcana. You say "damn" and walk away.

Likewise in battle; I limit table talk on "how to fight." Players may call out "tactics" as a free action. "Get behind him!!!" to encourage flanking or "Hold your fire I've a surprise up my sleeve" to create a delayed action.

If it crosses the boundary between description and cinematography into metagaming between the players simply penalyzing them their action for that round often is enough to get the message acoss; to JUST PLAY THE GAME not the rules.

I don't punish the players as much as it may seem.. I manage their expectations. If an ability is too powerful I tell them; if their course of actions is out of line with their character I tell them.

It' a high fantasy world; I am not beyond having Gods talk to mortals in their dreams and having them pay penance or ask for sacrifice.


on a side note; to make encounters difficult; think 3 dimensions and removal of senses always works; demons have wings and simply placing them 20feet in the air is a great equalizer as well as archers on battlements. Losing sight, sound, touch... all can impact part dynamics. People often say you cannot cast because you are silent. Telling players they may not communicate to each other in the presence of a silence spell is something many GMs forget to do; it interupts the metagaming ability when player can only directly say their actions to the gm.

Grand Lodge

what's the main way you guys buff up encounters? I have a 6 people table and we're in the middle of Citadel of Drezen.. one of the bosses went down like nothing so I'm looking at ways to keep them challenged

I have a party of 7. They all rolled their stats, in point buy their average is around 30 so they're singularly pretty powerful too.

I routinely maximize enemy hp AND double the xp worth of encounters, either doubling the enemies, adding traps (I am particularly fond of glyphs of warding with various spell effects, interestingly enough, nobody in the party can disable magical traps anymore, however that's not MY problem :P), adding minions, adding levels or templates, or a mixture of the above, as long as the encounter doubles in xp and the boss doesn't singularly become too high a threat for the PCs to handle.

With 6 people, I'd add 75% of base xp instead. Maximum hp is there to balance out high rolled stats (point buy 25 or higher).

So far, encounters have been longer than expected in the AP, obviously, but challenging. As an example, the party just braved against 5 encounters in the Gray Garrison and while utterly depleted (with one suicidal death - the only party trapper entered from the 2nd floor ALONE and alerted the demonic flies who cooked him in acid and proceeded to ambush the other party members below in darkness), they cleared the basement and were able to rest. A party of 4 with 15 point buy would likely fare no differently (suicide aside).

Dark Archive

One rules related bit of advice - don't forget that reach weapons use the cover rules for ranged weapons.

One general piece of advice - ask your players whether they're enjoying the campaign or whether they'd like it to be more challenging, and if the latter get some consensus about how this should be done.


Grand Lodge

well, I gave them point buy (20pts) and they are fairly competent players so the characters are well built. We're using mythinc rules and they love them.

Other than that, now that we're halfway trough Citadel, I started combining encounters at points - that reduces tedious string of encounters and beefs up existing important ones.

I loved whoever made 6player conversions of kingmaker but alas there is no such things on this thread for now.

One more thing - has anyone been leveling up NPCs?
I'm using them a lot (outside the missions mostly) but it would still be handy to have their stats.. i should upgrade them in HeroLab ut I can't find the time atm

The damage your listing isn't that high. In the WotR game I'm playing in, my parties Ranger (L6/T1) does around 100 damage a round if he hits. Mythic rules make for obscene damage and situations for even greater disparity between players than normal Pathfinder. If you're having problems handling a normal group, be aware the damage just ramps up more and more.

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