Not Another Balance Thread


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Before I get stoned to death I want to be clear that my intent is not to discuss balancing between classes. Looking through the forums, that topic seems like its been beaten to death, resurrected, and beaten again until its Con stat is 0. Instead, I'm more concerned with balancing problems from the GM perspective and how to deal with them.

Instant Win - This is primarily a problem with magic and casting classes. While Save or Die spells are particularly problematic, I'm more concerned about the situations outside of combat.

Situation 1 - Party with a caster that has Invisibility, Fly and Brew Potion. These three, rather low level (below 10) abilities allow the party to completely negate the defense of any bandit camp, perimeter wall, or towering spire that isn't deliberately tailored to combat these abilities. Why fight your way through the castle when you can just fly up to the tower where the princess is imprisoned, grab her, and fly away?

Situation 2 - Detect Magic. As it says, detects magic. Consistently, quickly, for free and without fail. A player that says he's always detecting magic effectively neuters any magical traps, effects, and auras and finds any and all magic items. Making the player constantly say hes detecting magic quickly becomes cumbersome. When I GMed I ruled that the players still had to roll perception to find things, but this did not go well with the players.

Situation 3 (happened last session) - Introduced a 10th level druid to the party before entering a typical cavernous dungeon. Druid uses wild shape to turn into an earth elemental with Earth Glide for 10 hours. Theoretically we could have had him scout the entire dungeon and map the most direct path to the big bad with a hand wave. Realizing this was cheap we instead just decided to have him scout what was on the other side of a door before we bothered to disarm traps and go in (still cheap). This still resulted in great frustration for the GM and a cancellation of the session so the dungeon could be reworked.

Take 10 - This rule creates success rates of <=45% or 100%. Because of its stifling maximize or die nature I don't use it as a player and when I GMed I ruled they couldn't either. Another unpopular house rule on my part.

Skill Bloat - This is what I call the basic maximizing of a skill. Just by placing 1 point in a skill every level you inflate the DCs rapidly beyond practical levels. At level 1 with 1 rank and a +3 modifier the DC for detecting a trap has to be 18 to avoid the Take 10 and have any possible chance of failure. While this may not seem bad for the maximized character (note +3 mod isn't even maximized), A character with a 0 modifier has only a 30% chance of success. An untrained character has a 25% chance. As levels progress this quickly escalates (by level 4 or 5) to the point where one of 2 things happens. Either the maximized character has no chance of failure, or the untrained/unmaxed character has no chance of success This isn't even factoring in magic items or feats/traits and don't even get me started on opposed roles like bluff/sense motive or stealth(which you dont even need with invisibility)/perception.

Protecting the Big Bad - This problem has come up a couple times where the big bad, built as a PC class using the game rules, is incredibly vulnerable to Save or Die, or just damage in general.

Situation 1 - I was playing a a Sea Singer Bard/Duelist whose back story was based on the song The Mariner's Revenge (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0CR1IJKMPo). It comes time for me to face my nemesis and my party members have inadvertently bypassed all of the mooks that were supposed to keep them busy while I had my duel. Right out of the gate the cleric casts Hold Person and succeeds reducing what was supposed to be the dramatic climax of my character's storyline to a one hit kill. Even if the GM had fudged the roll, the Barbarian would have hacked him to death in 2 rounds. The GM could have denied them access to the fight entirely, through one way or another but..

Situation 2 - Similar scenario where another player is about to face their nemesis. My character is Feared and therefore out of the fight, but the invisible Ninja/Assassin was outside of the cone. He takes his 3 turns to study the target and attempts his Death Attack. The attack would have succeeded but GM said "no". The GM says no to any of his other abilities that would have essentially just stopped the fight or made it less dramatic as well (though he can still attack and do backstab damage). The fight turns out epic with the two of them fighting in a ring of fire completely by accident, but the Assassin is so upset by the fact he couldn't use his abilities he ditches the character entirely to become the aforementioned druid.

There are more issues that I've come across in just my short time of playing (2 campaigns + 1 GM session), but I think I've gone on long enough.

So I guess the question is, how does a 'good' GM deal with these kinds of issues without resorting to a lot of house rules, arbitrarily saying "no", or deliberately tailoring every instance in the game to counter these kinds of abilities? While the third option is just cheap in my opinion the first two are particularly troublesome. Since the player aren't actually abusing the rules telling them they can't use one of their abilities seems to be upsetting to players, even when it is agreed upon that story trumps rules.


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pclark4422 wrote:

Before I get stoned to death I want to be clear that my intent is not to discuss balancing between classes. Looking through the forums, that topic seems like its been beaten to death, resurrected, and beaten again until its Con stat is 0. Instead, I'm more concerned with balancing problems from the GM perspective and how to deal with them.

Instant Win - This is primarily a problem with magic and casting classes. While Save or Die spells are particularly problematic, I'm more concerned about the situations outside of combat.

Situation 1 - Party with a caster that has Invisibility, Fly and Brew Potion. These three, rather low level (below 10) abilities allow the party to completely negate the defense of any bandit camp, perimeter wall, or towering spire that isn't deliberately tailored to combat these abilities. Why fight your way through the castle when you can just fly up to the tower where the princess is imprisoned, grab her, and fly away?

In games I play/run the BBEG is not always at the top. They may be in a basement, or in a room in the middle, and that includes published adventures. Invis also only allows for one attack before becoming visible. In addition you only need a flat DC 20 perception check to know an invisible creature is within 20 feet of you. It might not pinpoint the square, but you will know you are not alone. Making a 20 is not that hard.

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Situation 2 - Detect Magic. As it says, detects magic. Consistently, quickly, for free and without fail. A player that says he's always detecting magic effectively neuters any magical traps, effects, and auras and finds any and all magic items. Making the player constantly say hes detecting magic quickly becomes cumbersome. When I GMed I ruled that the players still had to roll perception to find things, but this did not go well with the players.

It only tells you an aura is around, and you can identify the school. You still do not know what the spell is. Also if a creature cast a spell and walks away the aura will still be there. There is no way to be sure it is a trap, or an spell on the area.

As an example if cast invis and walk away there could be an illusion based trap, an illusion in place, or an invisible person still there among other things.

There are also spells such as magic aura and nondetection, but I would not suggest over using them. It gets annoying.

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Situation 3 (happened last session) - Introduced a 10th level druid to the party before entering a typical cavernous dungeon. Druid uses wild shape to turn into an earth elemental with Earth Glide for 10 hours. Theoretically we could have had him scout the entire dungeon and map the most direct path to the big bad with a hand wave. Realizing this was cheap we instead just decided to have him scout what was on the other side of a door before we bothered to disarm traps and go in (still cheap). This still resulted in great frustration for the GM and a cancellation of the session so the dungeon could be reworked.

That is just a smart use of abilities. As players get higher in level they circumvent more ideas a GM will have in place if he is not used to running higher level games.

Example: You as the GM just planned an overland trek, where the party will run into NPC Y, but you forgot, or did not notice, that the party wizard/sorcerer had teleport. So your 3 day hiking idea is bypassed in 6 seconds.

Quote:

Before I get stoned to death I want to be clear that my intent is not to discuss balancing between classes. Looking through the forums, that topic seems like its been beaten to death, resurrected, and beaten again until its Con stat is 0. Instead, I'm more concerned with balancing problems from the GM perspective and how to deal with them.

Instant Win - This is primarily a problem with magic and casting classes. While Save or Die spells are particularly problematic, I'm more concerned about the situations outside of combat.

Situation 1 - Party with a caster that has Invisibility, Fly and Brew Potion. These three, rather low level (below 10) abilities allow the party to completely negate the defense of any bandit camp, perimeter wall, or towering spire that isn't deliberately tailored to combat these abilities. Why fight your way through the castle when you can just fly up to the tower where the princess is imprisoned, grab her, and fly away?

Situation 2 - Detect Magic. As it says, detects magic. Consistently, quickly, for free and without fail. A player that says he's always detecting magic effectively neuters any magical traps, effects, and auras and finds any and all magic items. Making the player constantly say hes detecting magic quickly becomes cumbersome. When I GMed I ruled that the players still had to roll perception to find things, but this did not go well with the players.

Situation 3 (happened last session) - Introduced a 10th level druid to the party before entering a typical cavernous dungeon. Druid uses wild shape to turn into an earth elemental with Earth Glide for 10 hours. Theoretically we could have had him scout the entire dungeon and map the most direct path to the big bad with a hand wave. Realizing this was cheap we instead just decided to have him scout what was on the other side of a door before we bothered to disarm traps and go in (still cheap). This still resulted in great frustration for the GM and a cancellation of the session so the dungeon could be reworked.

Take 10 - This rule creates success rates of <=45% or 100%. Because of its stifling maximize or die nature I don't use it as a player and when I GMed I ruled they couldn't either. Another unpopular house rule on my part.

There is nothing wrong with taking 10. It is for situations where you can take your time and you are so good at your skill that you are sure you can do it. As an example as a computer tech in the military, I was never worried about something as simple as defragging a hard drive or taking my weapon apart. Now doing that while someone is trying to shoot me might be more stressful. That is what forced rolls are for. And as a player you want to be good at things to avoid failing. It is not heroic to fail something that should be mundane to you. As an example taking a casual swim across a calm lake should easy. Taking a swim in a river might require you to put in actual effort/roll. That does not mean you can not try to take 10, but it could be a bad idea.

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Protecting the Big Bad - This problem has come up a couple times where the big bad, built as a PC class using the game rules, is incredibly vulnerable to Save or Die, or just damage in general.

Situation 1 - I was playing a a Sea Singer Bard/Duelist whose back story was based on the song The Mariner's Revenge (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0CR1IJKMPo). It comes time for me to face my nemesis and my party members have inadvertently bypassed all of the mooks that were supposed to keep them busy while I had my duel. Right out of the gate the cleric casts Hold Person and succeeds reducing what was supposed to be the dramatic climax of my character's storyline to a one hit kill. Even if the GM had fudged the roll, the Barbarian would have hacked him to death in 2 rounds. The GM could have denied them access to the fight entirely, through one way or another but..

When designing BBEG's a GM has to be mindful of such things, and even so sometimes the BBEG will get one-shot. It happens. What I have noticed a long time ago is that one fight BBEG's dont work as well in Pathfinder as they do in video games due to action economy. If I run an AP I will actually tone the BBEG down at times, and use the leftover XP to give him some minions. That is actually a tougher fight then one NPC.

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Situation 2 - Similar scenario where another player is about to face their nemesis. My character is Feared and therefore out of the fight, but the invisible Ninja/Assassin was outside of the cone. He takes his 3 turns to study the target and attempts his Death Attack. The attack would have succeeded but GM said "no". The GM says no to any of his other abilities that would have essentially just stopped the fight or made it less dramatic as well (though he can still attack and do backstab damage). The fight turns out epic with the two of them fighting in a ring of fire completely by accident, but the Assassin is so upset by the fact he couldn't use his abilities he ditches the character entirely to become the aforementioned druid.

If you know you have super stealth guy then have an NPC with high perception, and I would have been upset also. Just saying no pretty much invalidates the work you put into your character. If I can't use something then it defeats the point of me having it. As a fellow GM I know it sucks sometimes to spend a lot of time on something to have it insta-killed, but that is something we GM's have to realize will happen.

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So I guess the question is, how does a 'good' GM deal with these kinds of issues without resorting to a lot of house rules, arbitrarily saying "no", or deliberately tailoring every instance in the game to counter these kinds of abilities? While the third option is just cheap in my opinion the first two are particularly troublesome. Since the player aren't actually abusing the rules telling them they can't use one of their abilities seems to be upsetting to players, even when it is agreed upon that story trumps rules.

A good GM learns the rules as best he can and tries to avoid them, but also realizes that sh*t happens. Arbitrarily saying no will not make players happy.

A good GM also has an alternate plan or just changes story elements the players does not know about. As an example with my teleport comment, I would just have moved NPC Y to another destination the players were headed to.

I have had players skip a large number of enemies before. I wont deny them the XP. I give it to them. Otherwise I would be punishing them for being smart.


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Sorry, but you seem to want 10th level parties to have the same challenges as 3rd level parties.

Instant win:
Situation 1: what level were the party members, or is just a theorycraft? Too bad the princess was locked in a suite elsewhere.

Situation 2: Duration is concentration. Player moves more than 1/2 speed, probably loses it. And who cares? So the doorway is covered with an abjuration. Detecting is not disarming and still requires the consumption of resources.

Situation 3: Some groups actually do that as a tactic. And by 10th level, mechanical traps are supposed to be a joke anyway. Even if 1st edition, you were disarming traps to 90+% by 10th level.

Take 10: Gets rid of excessive die rolling. What's the issue? You can't use it if there would be a penalty for failiure.

Skill bloat. DCs top out. Roll with it!

Protecting the big bad:

Situation 1:
Bypassed the mooks? What a shame they all creeped up on the rest of the party just as you were all about to gang up on the BBEG. Plus, was this discussed with the other players? RP-wise, they might want to hold back until vengence is served. If so, then it's teh players being uncooperative.

Situation 2:
Bad call by the GM. Death attack is SUPPOSED to be played that way. By negating the Asassin's key ability, which takes 3 rounds to pull off. He's just nerfed the entire class. I'd be ticked too. It's the equivalent of being passive-aggressive about a class. "Sure, play the paladin ==> All foes are neutral", "Sure, play a wizard: ==> I make sure you can only rest a maximum of 7.5 hours. No spells for you!" "ooh!, you're a fighter specialising in longsword! ==> You only find maces and shortspears."

You let it play out. Character is an assassin, doing what he's the best at.


After reading this post I am quite saddened. I feel like part of the problem is the GM's attitude. This isn't a game of GM vs Player and I somewhat feel this.

[Instant Win - This is primarily a problem with magic and casting classes. While Save or Die spells are particularly problematic, I'm more concerned about the situations outside of combat.]

Instant wins in combat are dangerous on both sides, but tend to favor the GM more than the players. The players might simply kill the BBEG on an unlucky roll, which the GM can easily make him a lesser figure or give the PCs the satisfaction. In terms of skills that allow them to take 20s like the lore oracle or dhampires in social situations complicated aspects problems or questions shouldn't be purely solved based upon a check. Instead of identifying a magic item with a caster LVL of 35 instead make them find different pieces. Make each discovery important and allow the PCs to feel that much more fulfilled.

[Situation 1 - Party with a caster that has Invisibility, Fly and Brew Potion. These three, rather low level (below 10) abilities allow the party to completely negate the defense of any bandit camp, perimeter wall, or towering spire that isn't deliberately tailored to combat these abilities. Why fight your way through the castle when you can just fly up to the tower where the princess is imprisoned, grab her, and fly away?]

This is a positive situation. The players are thinking, but flying also carries the risk of high winds, arrows, and a deadly drop. Sometimes the princess is in the dungeon not the tower and if a caster is spending all his spells on flying at low levels that leaves the PCs less combat effective. What happens if it doesn't work or the princess is no longer in the tower and the king has set his men to ambush the PCs where they were last seen?

[Situation 2 - Detect Magic. As it says, detects magic. Consistently, quickly, for free and without fail. A player that says he's always detecting magic effectively neuters any magical traps, effects, and auras and finds any and all magic items. Making the player constantly say hes detecting magic quickly becomes cumbersome. When I GMed I ruled that the players still had to roll perception to find things, but this did not go well with the players.]

Again smart players, this isn't a bad thing, but make sure you are making time a factor from time to time in your campaign. Detect magic only has a cone emanation which is limited to 60ft. It is also blocked by 1 ft. of ....1 inch of lead....ect....searching every room. Every session, is really going to put a time crunch on the players. In addition, it's your decision to decide how large magical auras emanate.

Original Strength

Duration of Lingering Aura

Faint 1d6 rounds
Moderate 1d6 minutes
Strong 1d6 × 10 minutes
Overwhelming 1d6 days

There is no specific description in the book, but based upon how long it lingers I think we can take some guestimates. I am not saying I am right, but I do think I'm justified.

A faint aura may be one square. A moderate order 3x3 - 4x4. A Strong Aura 5x5 - 9x9. An overwhelming Aura 10x10 - 30x30.

Yeah, they see an aura, but where exactly it originates from and what they are looking for is a different check.

[Situation 3 (happened last session) - Introduced a 10th level druid to the party before entering a typical cavernous dungeon. Druid uses wild shape to turn into an earth elemental with Earth Glide for 10 hours. Theoretically we could have had him scout the entire dungeon and map the most direct path to the big bad with a hand wave. Realizing this was cheap we instead just decided to have him scout what was on the other side of a door before we bothered to disarm traps and go in (still cheap). This still resulted in great frustration for the GM and a cancellation of the session so the dungeon could be reworked.]

Earth glide is similar to flying. It has it's risks. At high levels an entire room can be warded and you can't detect it because you don't have line of sight with detect magic. It's possible to get lost and forget which way is up down left or right. At best your head is popping out and you don't know if your going to be touching fungus, acid, or will wind up next to a big nasty. On top of that he's all alone. Most dungeons made by casters will have lead laced into the stone to prevent scrying if it's affordable, at least some of them will. You might enter a room and merely set off wards and traps. Worst case scenario you walk into the stomach of a purple worm. Is it 1/100? No, but I have my random tables for that.

[Take 10 - This rule creates success rates of <=45% or 100%. Because of its stifling maximize or die nature I don't use it as a player and when I GMed I ruled they couldn't either. Another unpopular house rule on my part.]

Taking ten is fine. But it also makes sense that taking ten takes more time. If you're rolling you are going as quickly as possible and may make mistakes. If you are taking ten you may double the time required to complete the task. (that's my rule anyway) There is nothing wrong with taking a ten, but again it's going to cost you time. Keep in the rules say you can take ten on routine tasks. You can't take ten when distracted, in combat, or in imminent danger. While it's not RAW. I would say you can't take ten exploring a dungeon. The players aren't in a comfortable or safe place. If your weapons are out and you can react to any combat situation and are watching your step there is no taking ten. If your character is always aloof and doesn't notice combat until a turn after it's started then I might allow it or if all the other PCs are on guard defending you while you try to figure out the magic device, but per RAW it doesn't state the particulars, that is DM interpretation.

[Skill Bloat - This is what I call the basic maximizing of a skill. Just by placing 1 point in a skill every level you inflate the DCs rapidly beyond practical levels. At level 1 with 1 rank and a +3 modifier the DC for detecting a trap has to be 18 to avoid the Take 10 and have any possible chance of failure. While this may not seem bad for the maximized character (note +3 mod isn't even maximized), A character with a 0 modifier has only a 30% chance of success. An untrained character has a 25% chance. As levels progress this quickly escalates (by level 4 or 5) to the point where one of 2 things happens. Either the maximized character has no chance of failure, or the untrained/unmaxed character has no chance of success This isn't even factoring in magic items or feats/traits and don't even get me started on opposed roles like bluff/sense motive or stealth(which you dont even need with invisibility)/perception.]

Never had an issue. I don't know what to say. Typically skills scale to a certain extent, but if you character is at level ten which is the equivalent of an general who led an army then I'd say success should be usually 100% if it's a class skill, until you get to something NPC made or modified or something epic or quite above their level.

[Protecting the Big Bad - This problem has come up a couple times where the big bad, built as a PC class using the game rules, is incredibly vulnerable to Save or Die, or just damage in general.]

This is a trap a lot of new GMs fall into. The GM is trying to be a player, test builds or do whatever. He has levels over the PCs and usually the battle is one way or the other. The big bad can be a natural disaster, an oligarchy of 8 leaders, a pathetic noble with all the money in the world who doesn't know how to lift a sword, or a puzzle. If the GM wants to play player vs GM with characters then he is rolling the dice in high level games, it's very easy for GMs or players to be overpowered by the other with a very uninteresting combat.

[Situation 1 - I was playing a a Sea Singer Bard/Duelist whose back story was based on the song The Mariner's Revenge (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0CR1IJKMPo). It comes time for me to face my nemesis and my party members have inadvertently bypassed all of the mooks that were supposed to keep them busy while I had my duel. Right out of the gate the cleric casts Hold Person and succeeds reducing what was supposed to be the dramatic climax of my character's storyline to a one hit kill. Even if the GM had fudged the roll, the Barbarian would have hacked him to death in 2 rounds. The GM could have denied them access to the fight entirely, through one way or another but..]

DM doesn't seem to improvise or predict things well. It may take time.

[Situation 2 - Similar scenario where another player is about to face their nemesis. My character is Feared and therefore out of the fight, but the invisible Ninja/Assassin was outside of the cone. He takes his 3 turns to study the target and attempts his Death Attack. The attack would have succeeded but GM said "no". The GM says no to any of his other abilities that would have essentially just stopped the fight or made it less dramatic as well (though he can still attack and do backstab damage). The fight turns out epic with the two of them fighting in a ring of fire completely by accident, but the Assassin is so upset by the fact he couldn't use his abilities he ditches the character entirely to become the aforementioned druid.]

DM doesn't seem to improvise or predict things well and falls on deus machine. It may take time.

There are more issues that I've come across in just my short time of playing (2 campaigns + 1 GM session), but I think I've gone on long enough.

[So I guess the question is, how does a 'good' GM deal with these kinds of issues without resorting to a lot of house rules, arbitrarily saying "no", or deliberately tailoring every instance in the game to counter these kinds of abilities? While the third option is just cheap in my opinion the first two are particularly troublesome. Since the player aren't actually abusing the rules telling them they can't use one of their abilities seems to be upsetting to players, even when it is agreed upon that story trumps rules.]

The GM needs to expand his mind and think of the second and third order effects of what the players actions bring. I feel like he doesn't think about possible courses of actions the PCs may think of and doesn't improvise well, but if you all agreed story trumps rules then you shouldn't be complaining. That's giving the GM his license. Yeah, he doesn't have to do it that way, but hey you all agreed. He might want to go on twitch tv and do some research to see how other seasoned GM's handle their campaigns. It might be a good idea to have someone else GM sometime as well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The big bad evil genius just suffered a death attack? But wait... did he have a contingent spell that just allerted the bigger badder boss of the BBEG who can now teleport in? Was he really a simulacrum of himself? Tricky mirror image shenanigans? What about his death curse?

The possibilities are endless. The important thing is to give the PCs a win, so they feel good about their characters and abilities, then warp into the next level, the next skin of the onion.

Having the DM simply declare your precious class ability does not function for no apparent reason... that just sucks. But what if the BBEG is secretly an undead dude who is immune to death attacks? Or has one of those spells that protects against death attacks? Or just let him die, fer chrissakes! And move on to the bigger badder challenge...

Detect magic has workarounds, too. Maybe the entire dungeon detects magic because of the way it came to be, and the background aura disguises all but the most powerful of local auras. There are always ways, and... ways.

The druid goes all elemental and earth glide on you? Let him shine... for a while. Until he bites off more than he can chew, and runs into something equally nasty that can also earth glide.


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Noctani wrote:


Taking ten is fine. But it also makes sense that taking ten takes more time. If you're rolling you are going as quickly as possible and may make mistakes. If you are taking ten you may double the time required to complete the task. (that's my rule anyway) There is nothing wrong with taking a ten, but again it's going to cost you time. Keep in the rules say you can take ten on routine tasks. You can't take ten when distracted, in combat, or in imminent danger. While it's not RAW. I would say you can't take ten exploring a dungeon. The players aren't in a comfortable or safe place. If your weapons are out and you can react to any combat situation and are watching your step there is no taking ten. If your character is always aloof and doesn't notice combat until a turn after it's started then I might allow it or if all the other PCs are on guard defending you while you try to figure out the magic device, but per RAW it doesn't state the particulars, that is DM interpretation.

Stop it.

You KNOW that is not the intent. If you want to make a houserule fine, but don't pretend like you don't know that is not the intent. Combat is not in play until dice are rolled, so they are not distracted or in imminent danger. This is you trying to weasel your way into making stuff up. As the GM if you want something to work a certain way just do it. Now if you really think that is the intent there are dev quotes that disagree with you.


I dislike the "intent" that during a stealth encounter both the guards and rogue are taking 10 on stealth and perception checks without skill mastery.

I dislike the "intent" that you can take 10 on your bluff check and the person you are talking to can take 10 on the sense motive check.

Needless to say we don't play by those rules.


Thanks for the responses. These have been ongoing issues for our group and we've been rotating GMs (myself included) so its not just one of us. Different situations are popping up in every situation, and without an encyclopedic knowledge of the game its impossible to plan for these contingencies.

The answer unfortunately I think I'm getting from you guys seems to mostly be "Say no" and think of a reason later or punish them for using their abilities.

As far as our attitude goes, group doesn't really play as if its Vs game. The GM typically wants the players to succeed just as much if not more than the players themselves. The players just tend to do things that, given their knowledge and abilities, they would logically do. No one is specifically trying to break a quest, it just seems really easy to do. With dramatic effect as a goal, if I've put in a good deal of thought and work trying to make an interesting experience it takes the wind out of my sails when its circumvented with such ease. The game seems to lend itself, at least by raw, to eliminating dramatic effect.

To answer questions

The invisibility/fly combo was happening as low as level 3 since the potions only cost 750 a pop its very doable. By level 4 the sorcerer was able to make his own. That means that from now on all quests have to be underground to prevent the fly in fly out tactic. Or they have to have some sort of magic field that negates either effect.

As far as the invisibility bonus itself, its not just 20 its +20. Meaning that a character with 0 Stealth taking 10 (I wouldn't let him, but thats the halfway point) gets a roll of 30. In order for a wall guard to to have a 50% chance of spotting them they have to have a perception score of 20. The pre-generated NPCs at level 6 and 7 have Perceptions of +10 meaning only a 5% chance to spot, and thats assuming the player flies close by and its broad daylight.

Detect Magic and Taking 10 do take "extra time", but not from the players perspective. Thats what makes them damaging in my opinion at least having to declare or roll a die gets annoying and they stop doing it leaving them vulnerable. Sure you can have time sensitivity in game but how meticulous and draining would that be. I like and use the idea of you have X number of days to complete the quest or the princess dies or if you sleep in the dungeon the bad stuff happens. But for these abilities you would literally have to keep track of the seconds of the day. Or arbitrarily declare that too much time is being taken.

Detect magic can be circumvented By X thickness of Y but that's not always a viable option. Most chests or doors with magic traps aren't 3 feet thick. Magic items aren't often going to be in a lead box. Many dungeons aren't constructed by epic level wizards such as a dragon's lair, a giant's castle, or a city sewer. And many permanent effects such as The Endless Corridor (which has a soft spot in my heart) are just completely out in the open and I haven't been able to find anything that masks the presence of a magic aura. While a GM could say that detect magic doesn't work for one reason or another, that's little more than just saying "no".

The problem with skill bloat is its polarizing nature. You end up with only two possibilities. Either a) The unmaxed characters will have chance at succeeding and the maxed character will succeed 100% of the time, or or b) the Maxed character has a chance of failure and the unmaxed characters have no chance of success. I find it hard to have a middle ground in there where the Maxed character will have say an 80% chance of success and the unmaxed may only have a 25-30%. That is to say theyre better, but not perfect. This isn't as terribly important in skills that are used individually, such as ride, swim, craft, but skills that are used as a party where only one has to succeed, perception, spellcraft, survival, sense motive, diplomacy, bluff etc, it creates problems. Stealth and perception, to me, tend to be the two biggest culprits of the all or nothing scenario.

I find it hard to believe that I'm the only one that sees these kinds of problems but so far the responses suggest otherwise.

I would really like to sit down at some of your tables to see how you deal with all of these things.


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Wait, you're complainibg about guards not detecting invisible characters? That's the point of invisibilitty in previous editions you had 0 chance of perceivinv an invisible opponent.

As to the rest, pretty much not a problem for any of us:

If you make a character who's an aceat trapfinding, his very build is supposed to eventually trivialize traps.

An ace at stealth? He's the one you send in to flank the enemy before attacking.

You seem to want a different game than your players. Maybe even a different game system.


pclark4422 wrote:
Situation 1 - Party with a caster that has Invisibility, Fly and Brew Potion. These three, rather low level (below 10) abilities allow the party to completely negate the defense of any bandit camp, perimeter wall, or towering spire that isn't deliberately tailored to combat these abilities. Why fight your way through the castle when you can just fly up to the tower where the princess is imprisoned, grab her, and fly away?

This one is easily countered by the very general first-level Alarm spell.


pclark4422 wrote:
Thanks for the responses. These have been ongoing issues for our group and we've been rotating GMs (myself included) so its not just one of us. Different situations are popping up in every situation, and without an encyclopedic knowledge of the game its impossible to plan for these contingencies.

From what I got out of your post you seem new to the game. Until you get more experience this will happen, and as a GM you are one person. The players tend to have 4 or more minds to think of solutions. After a while it gets a lot easier. My first party did worse things to me since they were experienced players and GM's. I basically took mental notes, and it helped me when similar situations came up in other groups.

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As far as our attitude goes, group doesn't really play as if its Vs game. The GM typically wants the players to succeed just as much if not more than the players themselves. The players just tend to do things that, given their knowledge and abilities, they would logically do. No one is specifically trying to break a quest, it just seems really easy to do. With dramatic effect as a goal, if I've put in a good deal of thought and work trying to make an interesting experience it takes the wind out of my sails when its circumvented with such ease. The game seems to lend itself, at least by raw, to eliminating dramatic effect.

From the point of the characters any unneeded risk might kill them. As an example, if I am an real life assassin it is safer for me sneak up to the enemy leader and slit his throat than fight might way through all of his minions, even if the fight scene would be cinematic.

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The invisibility/fly combo was happening as low as level 3 since the potions only cost 750 a pop its very doable. By level 4 the sorcerer was able to make his own. That means that from now on all quests have to be underground to prevent the fly in fly out tactic. Or they have to have some sort of magic field that negates either effect.

750 gp is not cheap at level 3. Even crafting it cost 375. I tend to not buy expendables to much so I can get permanent magic items because it is more efficient. So assuming your players are not getting too much wealth, once they figure that out you will have another problem to deal with.

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As far as the invisibility bonus itself, its not just 20 its +20. Meaning that a character with 0 Stealth taking 10 (I wouldn't let him, but thats the halfway point) gets a roll of 30. In order for a wall guard to to have a 50% chance of spotting them they have to have a perception score of 20. The pre-generated NPCs at level 6 and 7 have Perceptions of +10 meaning only a 5% chance to spot, and thats assuming the player flies close by and its broad daylight.

I know what the invisilibility rules are. I know it is +20, but that is to find out what square they are in. However you only need a flat 20 to know they are within 20 feet.

prd wrote:
A creature can generally notice the presence of an active invisible creature within 30 feet with a DC 20 Perception check. The observer gains a hunch that “something's there” but can't see it or target it accurately with an attack. It's practically impossible (+20 DC) to pinpoint an invisible creature's location with a Perception check. Even once a character has pinpointed the square that contains an invisible creature, the creature still benefits from total concealment (50% miss chance). There are a number of modifiers that can be applied to this DC if the invisible creature is moving or engaged in a noisy activity.

Noticing and pinpointing are different.

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Detect Magic and Taking 10 do take "extra time", but not from the players perspective. Thats what makes them damaging in my opinion at least having to declare or roll a die gets annoying and they stop doing it leaving them vulnerable. Sure you can have time sensitivity in game but how meticulous and draining would that be. I like and use the idea of you have X number of days to complete the quest or the princess dies or if you sleep in the dungeon the bad stuff happens. But for these abilities you would literally have to keep track of the seconds of the day. Or arbitrarily declare that too much time is being taken.

You don't have to track every second. Just track hours, and I would not put every mission on a hard timer. That gets annoying also.

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The problem with skill bloat is its polarizing nature. You end up with only two possibilities. Either a) The unmaxed characters will have chance at succeeding and the maxed character will succeed 100% of the time, or or b) the Maxed character has a chance of failure and the unmaxed characters have no chance of success. I find it hard to have a middle ground in there where the Maxed character will have say an 80% chance of success and the unmaxed may only have a 25-30%. That is to say theyre better, but not perfect. This isn't as terribly important in skills that are used individually, such as ride, swim, craft, but skills that are used as a party where only one has to succeed, perception, spellcraft, survival, sense motive, diplomacy, bluff etc, it creates problems. Stealth and perception, to me, tend to be the two biggest culprits of the all or nothing scenario.

I find it hard to believe that I'm the only one that sees these kinds of problems but so far the responses suggest otherwise.

I would really like to sit down at some of your tables to see how you deal with all of these things.

The game rewards specialization. In most parties certain people will be sure to cover key(diplomacy, spellcraft knowledge etc) skills to try to be sure the party can succeed. Some skills such as perception will likely be taken by everyone, but one person will normally focus on it.

There will be times when you have a low chance at passing a skill, but there are normally ways around it. As an example the DC on a climb check can be lowered with rope. It gets even lower if you have a wall to brace against.

Swimming might require someone in heavy armor to take off their armor, but the game is made that way. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions.

Many of us have been playing for a while and we don't see your "problems" as problems. For things that might be problems we have learned how to anticipate them, and try to avoid them.

As an example. For the situation of the 1vs1 fight it should have been noted in game that it was to be a 1vs1 fight. That way the other character knows it is a personal vendetta and not to interfere. Now he could have still done so, but many games have an unwritten social contract so the player would have probably metagamed to stayed out of it.

As for the assassin ability, it is what the player designed it to do, so we would allow it.

Going back to the craft potion idea, wait until they start taking craft wondrous item and craft arms and armor. Then they will get more powerful, more quickly.


I'm not complaining so much about the fact that it makes them invisible, I understand its purpose. But more about the fact that the combo is incredibly easy, very low level, and pigeonholes the GM. That's actually kind of the point of all of the things that I'm bringing up. Balancing.

I get that a character is an ace, but if something is trivial, why include it in the first place. Why put in a trap if there is 0% chance that it will actually hit the party? Why have a creature stalk the party if there is 0% chance that it will be undetected. Reverse that and say why would you include a scenario where the party can/should/have to sneak through an area when there is 0% chance that everyone in the party could actually succeed (but this is where Invisibility is SUPPOSED to come into play)

Alarm is not an adequate defense as it only protects a 20ft radius. Sure you could protect the one point where the target is located, but they can still fly over the city walls, past all the guards, up to the top of the castle negating everything between the edge of the city and the target.

Perhaps you're right and maybe I've outgrown the D20 system and desire something a bit more nuanced. I came to the forums to see if maybe there were ways beyond GM hand waving that I just wasn't seeing before coming to that conclusion. I am certainly open to suggestions if you have any particular systems in mind.


For the Invisibility + Fly combination, remember that the bad guys can detect magic too, and an enemy wizard of an appropriate level should be able to cast Dispel Magic. If you simply let the opponents intelligently use the same abilities that the PCs are using, half of the problem is solved right there and the players can't reasonably complain.

Taking 10 on a skill is not possible in dangerous situations (unless the character has Skill Focus, of course). So no taking 10 while disarming a trap, or trying to sneak past guards. (I do allow, however, a character to take 10 if they don't know they're in danger, which mainly just makes it a bit easier for me to have NPCs make Perception and Sense Motive checks.)


JoeJ wrote:
Taking 10 on a skill is not possible in dangerous situations (unless the character has Skill Focus, of course). So no taking 10 while disarming a trap, or trying to sneak past guards. (I do allow, however, a character to take 10 if they don't know they're in danger, which mainly just makes it a bit easier for me to have NPCs make Perception and Sense Motive checks.)

This is not what the take 10 rules say.


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Pathfinder got rid of the balance skill from 3.5, utterly destroying balance in the game!


pclark4422 wrote:
I'm not complaining so much about the fact that it makes them invisible, I understand its purpose. But more about the fact that the combo is incredibly easy, very low level, and pigeonholes the GM. That's actually kind of the point of all of the things that I'm bringing up. Balancing.

You do know the see invis, glitterdust, and faerie fire also availible at this level.

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I get that a character is an ace, but if something is trivial, why include it in the first place. Why put in a trap if there is 0% chance that it will actually hit the party? Why have a creature stalk the party if there is 0% chance that it will be undetected. Reverse that and say why would you include a scenario where the party can/should/have to sneak through an area when there is 0% chance that everyone in the party could actually succeed (but this is where Invisibility is SUPPOSED to come into play)

The player may forget to look for the trap, and by defeating the trap the party knows they choices paid off. As an example if I take energy resistance, and get attacked by a fire spell, and it allows me to walk away without being harmed then I know it is useful.

As for what is supposed to happen another hallmark of a good GM is trying to set things up so there are several ways to succeed. If the party chooses not to sneak they may be able to fight or bluff/diplomacy/intimiate/disguise their way past a situation.

And this also goes back to making abilities useful. If they did not do anything there would be no reason for the ability to exist. No ability works all the time, and like I said before you have to look at the level of the party.

An as example invisibility last for 1 min per caster level. You will not search an entire castle in 3 minutes. Now you can blow all of your invis uses, but you might run into the boss and be out of spells. Resource management is also a part of the game.

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Alarm is not an adequate defense as it only protects a 20ft radius. Sure you could protect the one point where the target is located, but they can still fly over the city walls, past all the guards, up to the top of the castle negating everything between the edge of the city and the target.

It is not a perfect defense, but it is a good one. Most windows and doors are not over 20 feet wide and 20 feet high. Remember this is a 3d effect not a 2 dimensional one. Put it near the window on the top floor. Put someone with dogs near the main entrance. Dogs have scent so they should notice anyone showing up even if they can't be seen. Since you are in a magical world it is not far fetched to assume you have invisible intruders. The guards go inside and the castle is put on lockdown. Then the party has to find another way in.

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Perhaps you're right and maybe I've outgrown the D20 system and desire something a bit more nuanced. I came to the forums to see if maybe there were ways beyond GM hand waving that I just wasn't seeing before coming to that conclusion. I am certainly open to suggestions if you have any particular systems in mind.

D20 is rules intensive. Maybe mutants and mastermind(also D20, but less rules intensive) will work. Shadowrun might also work.

I think the disconnect here is that you want everything you put up to challenge(be somewhat difficult to) the players, but not the game is not designed like that.


Wraith, thanks for being patient your responses are helpful and insightful. I hope I'm not coming across as too whiny here, I'm just trying to figure out how the system balances itself when we keep running into these seemingly game breaking problems. I'm asking for myself and the other GMs as we rotate through.

I know I may not sound it, but I am an experienced player having cut my teeth on 2nd Ed and playing 3rd and 3.5. Admittedly I was a lot younger then and didn't really grasp the concepts of min/max. But PC gaming introduced me to the mentality and I can't help but see it anymore. This most recent foray is my first time back after about 7-8 years.

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You do know the see invis, glitterdust, and faerie fire also availible at this level.

Yes I do. But I don't typically see these as something a typical giant warband, undead horde, or monster clutch is going to have access to. Even a spell caster isn't necessarily going to have these prepared and ready unless they are expecting an attack from another magical force that happens to use invisibility.

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From the point of the characters any unneeded risk might kill them. As an example, if I am an real life assassin it is safer for me sneak up to the enemy leader and slit his throat than fight might way through all of his minions, even if the fight scene would be cinematic.

I understand this and I don't get mad at the players for doing it. I do the same thing. Players are always going to take the easiest and least risky approach. The tricky part is finding the balance between the pragmatic and the cinematic.

Following the Average Player Wealth guide lines the potions aren't a bad investment. At level 3 they're expensive, but 1500 GP to skip the entire dungeon isn't a bad deal. At 4th level crafting its 750 for the pair at lowest level which is a steal. After that its trivial. I tried short changing my players a bit when I was GMing, but once they noticed their wealth per level discrepancy they started getting upset.

What section did you get the flat 20 DC to notice an invisible creature from? It's not in the spell description itself which is probably why I never noticed it before. That being said its not really very hard for the players to fly more than 20 ft above or around the guards in an outdoor setting.

Maybe it would help if I gave a setting and you could help me figure out how to deal with it.

Quest level 4-6
Time Limit: None
Players have to retrieve the magical Widget from the castle in the ruined city of Blah. The widget is rumored to be located in a secret chamber beneath throne room. The ruins are inhabited primarily by magical beasts with the occasional outsider. The castle itself is guarded by undead, those who swore their body and soul to defend it.

As a GM I would be expecting a significant portion of the quest to occur as the transit through the ruins themselves. Once inside the castle they would have to fight through the undead and a few traps (both magical and mundane), to locate the throne room. Once there the entrance is magically hidden and sealed requiring thorough searches and/or some puzzle solving to to discover. The entrance requires a special Key that is in some other part of the castle. The key can be found through various clues pointing the way to either a dungeon or a tower depending on my mood.

Its a pretty standard scenario, but cliche as it might be could provide for some good times

What would you do as a player to have maximum effectiveness and least risk?

What would you do as a GM to prevent bypassing the challenges presented without stifling the character's abilities?

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I think the disconnect here is that you want everything you put up to challenge(be somewhat difficult to) the players, but not the game is not designed like that.

Thats probably it. I do expect a certain degree of difficulty for things I draw up and put thought into. Random encounters I don't care so much, but overall I don't think the world should be the PCs playground. At the end of a good quest I think the players should be out of resources and almost dead.

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Pathfinder got rid of the balance skill from 3.5, utterly destroying balance in the game!

I laughed


A very easy way to mess with invisible characters:

Doors with bells on them.


Also, keep your windows locked, or better yet, don't design them to open.

If we're talking a serious big bad, the guards should have flying mounts with scent.

But to be honest, after level 6, Pathfinder becomes a superhero game. The characters are X-men. Make the challenges in such a way that you can't think of how they could be beaten, then watch them do it anyway.

If you'd like help with thinking out ways to break your game and what you could do when that happens, you could always post some of your adventure plan and a rundown of the characters and we could see what we could do with that.


wraithstrike wrote:
Noctani wrote:


Taking ten is fine. But it also makes sense that taking ten takes more time. If you're rolling you are going as quickly as possible and may make mistakes. If you are taking ten you may double the time required to complete the task. (that's my rule anyway) There is nothing wrong with taking a ten, but again it's going to cost you time. Keep in the rules say you can take ten on routine tasks. You can't take ten when distracted, in combat, or in imminent danger. While it's not RAW. I would say you can't take ten exploring a dungeon. The players aren't in a comfortable or safe place. If your weapons are out and you can react to any combat situation and are watching your step there is no taking ten. If your character is always aloof and doesn't notice combat until a turn after it's started then I might allow it or if all the other PCs are on guard defending you while you try to figure out the magic device, but per RAW it doesn't state the particulars, that is DM interpretation.

Stop it.

You KNOW that is not the intent. If you want to make a houserule fine, but don't pretend like you don't know that is not the intent. Combat is not in play until dice are rolled, so they are not distracted or in imminent danger. This is you trying to weasel your way into making stuff up. As the GM if you want something to work a certain way just do it. Now if you really think that is the intent there are dev quotes that disagree with you.

I didnt know that was not the intent and havent had to look because you are the first person to disagree with me. I did state it was my rule. I never said they were in combat but merely stated the core rule book had two definitions of when you can and cant take ten. Neither case falls under going through a dungeon or hostile territory that made me feel if was falling in the DMs court. I will look for the quotes but if you are going to mention them you should give a reference.


There is nothing saying that Flying is silent. For all you know, the wizard makes a noise like a VC-10 taking off. So he's still quite detectable; it's simply that the guards can't see him.

Also, bats.


Pclark I will reply when I get homw in a few hours.


A lot of things are no written into the rules but if flyijg was intended to make noise it would have been mentioned. Just to be clear I am not saying don't make up rules for your game. However making uo adversarial rules is what the OP is trying to avoid.


It doesn't say that walking makes a noise; it just does. So by default, a Fly spell will make the same amount of noise as other normal behaviour. Pigeons certainly aren't silent when they fly, and they're a lot smaller than wizards. The wizard can roll his Stealth (or Take 10), with the usual limitations on movement (half speed or -5 stealth).

If one wanted to stretch a point, one could posit that Fly leaves a trail of blue sparkly motes, a cloud of butterflies or a flaming smoking exhaust like Rocketeer or The Human Torch. Then your invisibility is screwed too. OTOH, that clearly isn't implied anywhere, even by omission.


andreww wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
Taking 10 on a skill is not possible in dangerous situations (unless the character has Skill Focus, of course). So no taking 10 while disarming a trap, or trying to sneak past guards. (I do allow, however, a character to take 10 if they don't know they're in danger, which mainly just makes it a bit easier for me to have NPCs make Perception and Sense Motive checks.)
This is not what the take 10 rules say.

What do you mean? The first part is the rules: "when your character is not in immediate danger or distracted, you may choose to take 10... Distractions or threats (such as combat) make it impossible for a character to take 10."

The part about the unaware guards taking 10 falls under rule 0 because it's a way to make things easier on the GM.


Mudfoot wrote:
It doesn't say that walking makes a noise; it just does. So by default, a Fly spell will make the same amount of noise as other normal behaviour. Pigeons certainly aren't silent when they fly, and they're a lot smaller than wizards. The wizard can roll his Stealth (or Take 10), with the usual limitations on movement (half speed or -5 stealth).

If you decide as GM that it makes a noise, then it does. Probably the best way to convey this is to describe the WHOOSH! (or whatever) when somebody casts the spell. And make sure that if it makes noise when PCs fly that it also makes noise when their enemies do.


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pclark4422 wrote:

I'm not complaining so much about the fact that it makes them invisible, I understand its purpose. But more about the fact that the combo is incredibly easy, very low level, and pigeonholes the GM. That's actually kind of the point of all of the things that I'm bringing up. Balancing.

I get that a character is an ace, but if something is trivial, why include it in the first place. Why put in a trap if there is 0% chance that it will actually hit the party? Why have a creature stalk the party if there is 0% chance that it will be undetected. Reverse that and say why would you include a scenario where the party can/should/have to sneak through an area when there is 0% chance that everyone in the party could actually succeed (but this is where Invisibility is SUPPOSED to come into play)

Alarm is not an adequate defense as it only protects a 20ft radius. Sure you could protect the one point where the target is located, but they can still fly over the city walls, past all the guards, up to the top of the castle negating everything between the edge of the city and the target.

Perhaps you're right and maybe I've outgrown the D20 system and desire something a bit more nuanced. I came to the forums to see if maybe there were ways beyond GM hand waving that I just wasn't seeing before coming to that conclusion. I am certainly open to suggestions if you have any particular systems in mind.

Flying and invisibility can be given at quite a low level but as wraith stated it's quite costly in potion form and if the wizard buffs the entire party then he's out alot of spells for combat. That is the balance. Why have a trap or creature there if there's a 0% chance. First it validates the players for choosing their paths. Second there should be encounters they have a very low chance. A green had has a +23 on her disguise when using alterself. At low levels it's very difficult for a PC to notice something is amiss. Sure some DCs are low, but if you are running an adventure path feel free to replace an NPC or encounter with something that might challenge your players. Stalking and invisibility works both ways. One of the greatest early monsters that give PCs an aggevating time are Imps, faery dragons, and other creatures who can also turn themselves invisible and have flight. Another very useful spell is silent image because you don't know it's not real until it's interracted with.

You said, alarm is not an adequate defense. It's not suppose to be an adequate defense, it's suppose to yield information and make others lose the element of surprise. Have rumors of the princess being held in the tower with an alarm spell, while she is really safe in the dungeon. The alarm spell should be placed on the window or doors. You don't need to place just one either. Have the alarm trigger a ward, which sets of burning hands or some low level spell in the area. It all depends on your campaign world. If the BBEG's valuable princess is so valuable someone, somewhere, at sometime will want to take her. Sometimes let the PCs get the easy win and when appropriate have layers upon layers of twists, turns, depth, and plot. I don't think the GMs need to say no. The GMs might need to rethink how they see the campaign world. It sounds like the players are ready to take on highly intelligent evil doers not the run of the mill bandits.

They go into the tower to save the princess, the alarm goes off. There isn't much time. They take the princess and go. Only, the princess isn't a princess she is a green hag with a +23 disguise check using alterself. The party goes back and the hag sends a message to the BBEG to ambush the PCs, the hag tries to seduce a party member during the night and get him alone...ect...ect...meanwhile the real princess is really in the dungeon. I can easily think of more obstacles a smart BBEG might place up for people who want to foil his plan. He got to a place of leadership for a reason afterall.

I still think the GMs must be using very linear thinking. There isn't option A or option B there is option C, D, E. What if the party can't be stalked? Maybe they have a druid with an absurd perception check? Well, then misdirection is a better tactic then stealth and I'm not saying invalidate the players choices but mix it up. If you can't send an assassin after a party then what about having the PCs notice the creature or NPC and engage him, only the NPC runs them into a trap. There are so many things the BBEG can do to make things difficult for players. Don't get me wrong play the BBEG.

[Reverse that and say why would you include a scenario where the party can/should/have to sneak through an area when there is 0% chance that everyone in the party could actually succeed (but this is where Invisibility is SUPPOSED to come into play)]

Maybe the party shouldn't sneak through then. If you have a fighter who wears heavy armor with no sneak skills then maybe you should let the ninja go in with the other sneaks or even alone, but maybe the casters should buff the crap out of him with expeditious retreat, offensive, and defensive buffs. I actually have had a ninja go into a bandit camp, and sapped three fourths of the camp, leaving them knocked out before he was found. Half of the point is to let the characters make these decisions and reward them if they think of something smart. Will we try options 1-5. Maybe the PCs decide to bluff their way in by trying to join the bandits. It's all up to the players. As a GM you want to say there are 5 different ways this can be solved. Then you make the percentages...okay this one is 80% (it was a good idea) 60% 40% 20% 0% (it was a bad Idea). Then as a GM go through some player throughs as what the party might do. After a while it becomes second nature and you're always ready for 3-5 courses of action the PCs may take.

Player characters have bread and butter. These are the skills, spells, or abilities they rely on. When going up against mooks they probably won't be countered unless it was planned by someone higher up. Against mini bosses then maybe. Against a BBEG not always, but 80-90% he knows who the players are, what they can do, and what there tendancies are. Second a BBEG should always have an escape plan. When I GM rarely does the party whole slaughter everyone. Usually one runs away and escapes to tell the others if they have an intelligence of 7 or more. Personality, culture, natural tendancies, and other things are also taken into account.


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JoeJ wrote:
andreww wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
Taking 10 on a skill is not possible in dangerous situations (unless the character has Skill Focus, of course). So no taking 10 while disarming a trap, or trying to sneak past guards. (I do allow, however, a character to take 10 if they don't know they're in danger, which mainly just makes it a bit easier for me to have NPCs make Perception and Sense Motive checks.)
This is not what the take 10 rules say.

What do you mean? The first part is the rules: "when your character is not in immediate danger or distracted, you may choose to take 10... Distractions or threats (such as combat) make it impossible for a character to take 10."

The part about the unaware guards taking 10 falls under rule 0 because it's a way to make things easier on the GM.

Actually core rules even cover the guard thing. It's their profession. It's their everyday job so it's a routine task. That is one of the best things about the profession skill. It allows you to take ten on things as long as your consistenly role playing them, because it's a routine task.


Honestly as new levels of spells become available, old challenges become irrelevant.

Big game changers include spells such as Fly, Fickle winds, Invisibility, Greater Invisibility, Planar binding, Planar ally, Teleport, Divination, Scrying, Legend Lore, Animate Dead, and any spell that gives you access to minions with higher level spell likes or SU abilities that emulate higher level spells.

All of this is core and without Blood Money, Snowball, Emergency Force Sphere shenanigans.

Heck even a wand of mount can be a game changer for a trap heavy dungeon.

It is definitely a learning experience to deal with these abilities.

But, unless you want to play E3 or something of that nature you will deal with al least some of these spells.

On skills, well the Pathfinder Skills system is very static and it is very easy to get your bonus to a level where you auto-succeed on any non-contested skill unless the DM is arbitrarily raising target numbers.

If you have a problem with this and you want to play pathfinder you have only 2 good options, and I would advocate discussing with the entire group if the problem is only yours in which case I would advocate solution 2 or leaving or if it is everyone in the group perhaps solution one.

1.) Rewrite the skills system from the ground up. Just arbitrarily tacking on house rules and raising/lowering DC's will lead to the slippery slope of "Mother May I/MTP" which I do not personally enjoy. So if you are going to change it create a coherent and flexible system that is good for your group.

2.) Deal with it and learn to let the people that enjoy the skill system as is enjoy it.

Now some things in my mind need adjusting in pathfinder, however I am of the opinion that such should always be done before play starts in a completely transparent manner and in such a way that all persons concerns are regarded and addressed even if not everyone gets their way.

I admit if I was playing the assassin and was told "No, because Drama." I would most likely leave that table and never return unless I was exceptionally good friends with the majority of the people there. If in my next character I did something as normal as using Earth Glide on a druid at 10th and the DM stopped play and canceled the session even that might not stop me.

All of this is tied to the fact that I feel as a DM my job is to provide a fair and transparent rule set so that everyone knows that if they drop a stone it will always fall down. In short the rules should apply or you are not playing pathfinder you are simply asking the DM "May I do this?"

I hope some of this helped, If not I will be glad to elduicate.


Covent wrote:

On skills, well the Pathfinder Skills system is very static and it is very easy to get your bonus to a level where you auto-succeed on any non-contested skill unless the DM is arbitrarily raising target numbers.

Rather than arbitrarily raising target numbers for skills, with some creative thinking you can raise them for reasons that make the adventure more epic. For example; fighting a battle in the rigging of a ship requires some relatively easy Climb rolls. Fighting a battle in the rigging of a ship that's maneuvering during a battle could legitimately raise the difficulty. And if the ship is in combat while riding the edge of a whirlpool during a storm, then you can reasonably raise it even further. And then, what if parts of the rigging have been magically animated?

IOW, for higher level characters you can add on increasingly more epic challenges that increase the target numbers without it seeming arbitrary.


wraithstrike wrote:
Noctani wrote:


Taking ten is fine. But it also makes sense that taking ten takes more time. If you're rolling you are going as quickly as possible and may make mistakes. If you are taking ten you may double the time required to complete the task. (that's my rule anyway) There is nothing wrong with taking a ten, but again it's going to cost you time. Keep in the rules say you can take ten on routine tasks. You can't take ten when distracted, in combat, or in imminent danger. While it's not RAW. I would say you can't take ten exploring a dungeon. The players aren't in a comfortable or safe place. If your weapons are out and you can react to any combat situation and are watching your step there is no taking ten. If your character is always aloof and doesn't notice combat until a turn after it's started then I might allow it or if all the other PCs are on guard defending you while you try to figure out the magic device, but per RAW it doesn't state the particulars, that is DM interpretation.

Stop it.

You KNOW that is not the intent. If you want to make a houserule fine, but don't pretend like you don't know that is not the intent. Combat is not in play until dice are rolled, so they are not distracted or in imminent danger. This is you trying to weasel your way into making stuff up. As the GM if you want something to work a certain way just do it. Now if you really think that is the intent there are dev quotes that disagree with you.

So I did some research and it turns out that you were right about the fact that taking ten doesn't take anymore time then rolling. However, traps are fair game for not rolling a ten. However, based upon the last paragraph I feel I'm completely justified in saying if the party members are purposefully looking for a hidden door, identifying a magic item, or something that requires concentration they are distracted and they can take ten but I'm going to give them negatives to their initiative or some other negative and I don't feel wrong about it. You were in the military. When you stackup with four people and prepare to enter a room everyone of you have lines of fire and you're all looking in certain areas to provide cover before entering. When PCs are going through a dungeon I don't see them as laxidazily doing so. If one of them wants to stop and search for something then fine, but it's going to cause distraction. But this also means I'll probably make them roll on perception checks for traps, because it's an actual threat per the developer. Although, if they want to cause their character to be distracted then I'll give them some cons and still let them roll a ten. Notice, he also ends the paragraph with

It's just there to make the game proceed faster so you don't have big damn heroes failing to accomplish inconsequential things.

does that mean if the check is consequential the intent is for the players to roll or is he still leaving room for interpretation?

The developer wrote:

The purpose of Take 10 is to allow you to avoid the swinginess of the d20 roll in completing a task that should be easy for you. A practiced climber (5 ranks in Climb) should never, ever fall when climbing a practice rock-climbing wall at a gym (DC 15) as long as he doesn't rush and isn't distracted by combat, trying to juggle, and so on. Take 10 means he doesn't have to worry about the randomness of rolling 1, 2, 3, or 4.

The rule is there to prevent weirdness from the fact that you can roll 1 on tasks you shouldn't fail at under normal circumstances.

I'm not an athlete, but I can easily to a standing broad jump of 5-6 feet, over and over again without fail. It doesn't matter if I'm jumping over a piece of tape on the floor or a deep pit... I can make that jump. With a running start, it's even easier. If I were an adventurer, a 5-foot-diameter pit would be a trivial obstacle. Why waste game time making everyone roll to jump over the pit? Why not let them Take 10 and get on to something relevant to the adventure that's actually a threat, like a trap, monster, or shady NPC?

Let your players Take 10 unless they're in combat or they're distracted by something other than the task at hand. It's just there to make the game proceed faster so you don't have big damn heroes failing to accomplish inconsequential things.


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pclark4422 wrote:

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wraithstrike wrote:
You do know the see invis, glitterdust, and faerie fire also availible at this level.
Yes I do. But I don't typically see these as something a typical giant warband, undead horde, or monster clutch is going to have access to. Even a spell caster isn't necessarily going to have these prepared and ready unless they are expecting an attack from another magical force that happens to use invisibility.

Whether or not they are availible depends on their CR which influences the level the GM will allow the PC's to be or maybe the other way around. As for expecting an attack, that depends on the storyline. If they are causing trouble then I see no reason why they would not expect trouble, and depending on the scenario invis may not be enough on its own. Invis is not detect proof and fly does not last forever in any event. If I had more information on this scenario I could give a more direct response.

Quote:


wraithstrike wrote:
From the point of the characters any unneeded risk might kill them. As an example, if I am an real life assassin it is safer for me sneak up to the enemy leader and slit his throat than fight might way through all of his minions, even if the fight scene would be cinematic.
I understand this and I don't get mad at the players for doing it. I do the same thing. Players are always going to take the easiest and least risky approach. The tricky part is finding the balance between the pragmatic and the cinematic.

I don't really worry about trying to force things to be cinematic. They tend to happen naturally. As an example my old GM(3.5) had a mounted fighter and they do a lot of damage even on a normal hit. He charged our sorcerer, who I knew would likely die if he was hit. However on the way to the sorcerer he drew an attack of opportunity from me. I critted and killed him.

Quote:
Following the Average Player Wealth guide lines the potions aren't a bad investment. At level 3 they're expensive, but 1500 GP to skip the entire dungeon isn't a bad deal. At 4th level crafting its 750 for the pair at lowest level which is a steal. After that its trivial. I tried short changing my players a bit when I was GMing, but once they noticed their wealth per level discrepancy they started getting upset.

That is a lot of gold to spend on a consumable, and that potion of invis will only last for about 3 minutes. I doubt they are skipping an entire dungeon in 3 minutes. They can use a higher caster level, but it is still an entire dungeon, and the cost go up if they use a higher caster level. I would also think that if they are in a dungeon the ceiling is not normally higher than 10 feet, maybe 15. That is still in range for the flat DC 20 perception check. At this point the bad guys can alert the entire dungeon, or they can close the door trapping some if not the entire party in the room. If they are in a hallway then alert everyone. Taking on an entire dungeon at the same time is not something most parties will try. Also if magic is common in the world and they want to avoid flying invisible people flying overhead give some of them reach weapons and/or ranged weapons.

Before I go any further the rule for the flat 20 check is in the glossary under the invisibility section.

Quote:


Maybe it would help if I gave a setting and you could help me figure out how to deal with it.

Quest level 4-6
Time Limit: None
Players have to retrieve the magical Widget from the castle in the ruined city of Blah. The widget is rumored to be located in a secret chamber beneath throne room. The ruins are inhabited primarily by magical beasts with the occasional outsider. The castle itself is guarded by undead, those who swore their body and soul to defend it.

As a GM I would be expecting a significant portion of the quest to occur as the transit through the ruins themselves. Once inside the castle they would have to fight through the undead and a few traps (both magical and mundane), to locate the throne room. Once there the entrance is magically hidden and sealed requiring thorough searches and/or some puzzle solving to to discover. The entrance requires a special Key that is in some other part of the castle. The key can be found through various clues pointing the way to either a dungeon or a tower depending on my mood.

Since it is a ruined city I would have a random encounter table in play since the monsters don't really care about the widget. I will use level 5 since it is between 4 and 6. As a GM it is a good idea to take the party into consideration. It seems your party is like Ocean's 11. Now the undead need a reason to guard the widget. Let's say they are there in service to a necromancer whether it is a lich or living person who is supposed to return. Otherwise the widget is probably not that important.

If they just open doors or windows while invisible then someone will notice. While we are on the subject of a castle I would think that all possible entrances would have guards if this widget is so important. Since the party is level 5 a few skeletons and/or zombies will make up the primary bulk. Intelligent undead such as wights, ghouls/ghast, can be the ones guarding important areas, and don't have them on guard alone. Also don't have them fight to the death if it is imminent they will die. Running away is a good idea at times. This also allows them to put the castle on alert.

Some traps have poor DC's for disabling and perception for their CR, and some have a high DC. I don't really care for traps, but if the place is not intended to be bothered then having 2 or 3 won't hurt.

Traps on their own don't do much, but combining them with monsters is a good idea. You can have the trap set to go off just before the monster appears or have it in the middle(somewhere in the room) of the room.

Since you seem to have a walking radar the occasional mechanical trap is fine. Just know it won't do you any good. It is more of a way to reward a player for investing in finding them.

Before I get into this I will use a character I made as an example of the walking radar.

5 ranks in perception, +3 class skill, +5 eyes of the eagle, +2 for having 1/2 class level in perception, +3 wisdom=18
That means he gets an 18 by taking 10. So if the spell is 3rd level or lower that is used to create the trap he will find it by taking 10.

Continuing the subject of traps.

A good way to make players careless is to sucker them in with easy fights. A ghoul is a CR 2 IIRC. Taking on 2 or 3 of individually or even 2 at a time will be a cakewalk.

So they enter another room and they see another ghoul, but he might be a CR 4 due to class levels. He might also have 1 or 2 normal ghoul buddies. In addition there is a trap that can be setoff accidentally by players or on purpose by the monsters. There is a disagreement on whether or not the players get an automatic check for a trap. I don't think they should, but that is a discussion for another thread.
Even if they do they can be ruled to be distracted(this is in the rulebook) due to combat putting them at a -5. And even if they do find the trap disabling a trap takes rounds, which makes it a bad idea when bad guys are around.

You are probably wondering what trap to use. I prefer something that the monster is immune to. In this case I choose stinking cloud. The CR is 4, but the perception to find it is a 28. Yes that means my walking radar could have found it if he was not in combat by taking 10, but now there is no taking 10. What does stinking cloud do? It makes you nauseated.

nauseated wrote:
Creatures with the nauseated condition experience stomach distress. Nauseated creatures are unable to attack, cast spells, concentrate on spells, or do anything else requiring attention. The only action such a character can take is a single move action per turn.

Even if only one party member fails they are likely in for a decent fight. As a free action the ghoul can call for help. To be fair I would not have a simple call alert the entire castle, but everyone within ___ feet might here it. They will show up in XdY rounds.

As for the boss fight to get the widget after getting the key I would have it be a CR 8 fight since they are level 5.

The boss would be a CR 7(I would likely use a vampire template on a caster, and his backup would be a combined CR 5. I think 2 shadows will be sufficient.

Quote:
What would you do as a player to have maximum effectiveness and least risk?

I would try to have a wand of cure light wounds, and lesser restoration prepared. If the money was available a few potions of lesser restoration might be nice. Also leaving spell slots open can be a good idea. If the castle being manned by undead is a trick, then you can put other spells in those slots. I would also try to take the castle in one go. If possible try to get an enemy to talk and give you the layout of the castle. This is less likely with undead barring the use of command undead.

Quote:
Thats probably it. I do expect a certain degree of difficulty for things I draw up and put thought into. Random encounters I don't care so much, but overall I don't think the world should be the PCs playground. At the end of a good quest I think the players should be out of resources and almost dead.

I have a similar view on things. I only design certain encounters to be a challenge and/or to gauge the party's strength. If they can easily handle the rest I don't care too much.

I feel like I forgot something. If I remember I will post it later on.


Mudfoot wrote:

It doesn't say that walking makes a noise; it just does. So by default, a Fly spell will make the same amount of noise as other normal behaviour. Pigeons certainly aren't silent when they fly, and they're a lot smaller than wizards. The wizard can roll his Stealth (or Take 10), with the usual limitations on movement (half speed or -5 stealth).

If one wanted to stretch a point, one could posit that Fly leaves a trail of blue sparkly motes, a cloud of butterflies or a flaming smoking exhaust like Rocketeer or The Human Torch. Then your invisibility is screwed too. OTOH, that clearly isn't implied anywhere, even by omission.

If flight was intended to make noise it would have been listed. Since I tend to try to ambush players I would not add this rule to my game, but if you do, then just be fair about it.


Noctani wrote:

So I did some research and it turns out that you were right about the fact that taking ten doesn't take anymore time then rolling. However, traps are fair game for not rolling a ten. However, based upon the last paragraph I feel I'm completely justified in saying if the party members are purposefully looking for a hidden door, identifying a magic item, or something that requires concentration they are distracted and they can take ten but I'm going to give them negatives to their initiative or some other negative and I don't feel wrong about it. You were in the military. When you stackup with four people and prepare to enter a room everyone of you have lines of fire and you're all looking in certain areas to provide cover before entering. When PCs are going through a dungeon I don't see them as laxidazily doing so. If one of them wants to stop and search for something then fine, but it's going to cause distraction. But this also means I'll probably make them roll on perception checks for traps, because it's an actual threat per the developer. Although, if they want to cause their character to be distracted then I'll give them some cons and still let them roll a ten. Notice, he also ends the paragraph with

It's just there to make the game proceed faster so you don't have big damn heroes failing to accomplish inconsequential things.

does that mean if the check is consequential the intent is for the players to roll or is he still leaving room for interpretation?

The developer wrote:

The purpose of Take 10 is to allow you to avoid the swinginess of the d20 roll in completing a task that should be easy for you. A practiced climber (5 ranks in Climb) should never, ever fall when climbing a practice rock-climbing wall at a gym (DC 15) as long as he doesn't rush and isn't distracted by combat, trying to juggle, and so on. Take 10 means he doesn't have to worry about the randomness of rolling 1, 2, 3, or 4.

The rule is there to prevent weirdness from the fact that you can roll 1 on tasks you shouldn't fail at under normal circumstances.

I'm not an athlete, but I can easily to a standing broad jump of 5-6 feet, over and over again without fail. It doesn't matter if I'm jumping over a piece of tape on the floor or a deep pit... I can make that jump. With a running start, it's even easier. If I were an adventurer, a 5-foot-diameter pit would be a trivial obstacle. Why waste game time making everyone roll to jump over the pit? Why not let them Take 10 and get on to something relevant to the adventure that's actually a threat, like a trap, monster, or shady NPC?

Let your players Take 10 unless they're in combat or they're distracted by something other than the task at hand. It's just there to make the game proceed faster so you don't have big damn heroes failing to accomplish inconsequential things.

Taking 10 is not being laxidazial. As for perception you just need one check. People often say "I roll to find the trap", but in actuality that is not how perception works. You roll the check and that is it. As for disabling a device(trap) if no monster is pressing on you then you should be able to take 10.

Going back to building clearing as a soldier it is not that hard to spot someone unless they are hiding. When you do your initial sweep that would be taking 10, but if there are places to hide you may have to actually search the room, but PF does not have that level of simulation. There is no primary and secondary check. Even so checking the entire room in real life would be more like taking 20.
Yes I used to be in the military if it matters.


wraithstrike wrote:
Taking 10 is not being laxidazial. As for perception you just need one check. People often say "I roll to find the trap", but in actuality that is not how perception works. You roll the check and that is it. As for disabling a device(trap) if no monster is pressing on you then you should be able to take 10.

I disagree with this. Trying to disable a trap that could injure or even possibly kill you is not a routine situation. The character is in immediate danger, which makes taking 10 impossible.


JoeJ wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Taking 10 is not being laxidazial. As for perception you just need one check. People often say "I roll to find the trap", but in actuality that is not how perception works. You roll the check and that is it. As for disabling a device(trap) if no monster is pressing on you then you should be able to take 10.

I disagree with this. Trying to disable a trap that could injure or even possibly kill you is not a routine situation. The character is in immediate danger, which makes taking 10 impossible.

The same argument could be made for a swim check, acrobatics, and using stealth but they use taking 10. That is why I don't see the trap as immediate danger. It is a possible danger. It is not imminent until you KNOW you know the danger is coming.

Basically potential danger is not danger, and that is what failing a to disarm a trap or failing a stealth check are. Now, taking 20 which means failure leads to bad results could not be used.


Anyway I don't want to derail this with a rules discussion. We can just agree to disagree.


pclark4422 wrote:

Thanks for the responses. These have been ongoing issues for our group and we've been rotating GMs (myself included) so its not just one of us. Different situations are popping up in every situation, and without an encyclopedic knowledge of the game its impossible to plan for these contingencies.

. . .

The problem with skill bloat is its polarizing nature. You end up with only two possibilities. Either a) The unmaxed characters will have chance at succeeding and the maxed character will succeed 100% of the time, or or b) the Maxed character has a chance of failure and the unmaxed characters have no chance of success. I find it hard to have a middle ground in there where the Maxed character will have say an 80% chance of success and the unmaxed may only have a 25-30%. That is to say theyre better, but not perfect. This isn't as terribly important in skills that are used individually, such as ride, swim, craft, but skills that are used as a party where only one has to succeed, perception, spellcraft, survival, sense motive, diplomacy, bluff etc, it creates problems. Stealth and perception, to me, tend to be the two biggest culprits of the all or nothing scenario.

4e skills work around that type of a success model. Every character gets a 1/2 level + stat bonus modifier on all skill checks. If you are trained in a skill you get another +5.

You don't get the dabbling with a few skill points option as your skills are binarily trained or not but the success range for everyone in the party is much closer while still having significant benefits for training and ability score specialization.

Fairly easy to import into Pathfinder.


darkwarriorkarg wrote:


Take 10: Gets rid of excessive die rolling. What's the issue? You can't use it if there would be a penalty for failiure.

>Sigh< YES YOU CAN.

Sorry, I just find it exaspirating that people keep getting the Take 10/20 rules wrong. Especially my own GM, so I need to keep correcting him. :-)

You can't take 20 if there would be a penalty for failure, because taking 20 simulates trying over and over again until you roll a 20. So you can't use it in situations where you couldn't just try again. This is also why it is considered to take longer than a single skill check; you are assumed to be making many checks.

Taking 10 has no such restriction. You are making a single check, and getting an average result. The only restriction is that you can't take 10 when you are under time pressure or distracted, because it represents doing your average in a normal, no-stress situation. So you CAN take 10 when there would be a penalty for failure; you make an average attempt, and if you fail, you suffer the penalty.


wraithstrike wrote:
Anyway I don't want to derail this with a rules discussion. We can just agree to disagree.

That's fine. I haven't really found it to be an issue, since players in my experience won't usually risk taking 10 when they're doing something dangerous anyway, since that's an automatic failure if it turns out that the DC is higher than they guessed.


It's not that flight itself makes noise, but movement, including flying movement potentially does. The noise generated by walking is far more than footfalls -- rustling robes, slapping leather, clinking armor, chiming jewelry, the wheezing of a low constitution, hitting birds, etc. If moving silently were just a matter of taking off one's shoes, it wouldn't be much of a skill, now would it?

Overall, this thread reminds me of an old article in Dragon Magazine, about what D&D castles would really look like, in order to defend against such things as armies with wizards, dragons, and other magical menaces. If you can dig it up, check out Twenty Tricks For Castle Defense by Fraser Sherman from Dragon #185


To the OP, I think your players are abusing one-shot items and wealth-by-level guidelines. They cannot spend unlimited amounts of wealth on potions (or other one-shoters) and expect to have the same WBL. We had a similar discussion with our DM, and after scouring the forums, we found that about 25% of WBL is reasonable to spend on one shoters. NOTE - this is atop of your WBL and accounted during leveling, so your WBL at any current time should still be in line with the table in core rulebook. If they exceed that amount they should have a permanent decrease in their WBL.


Zalman wrote:

It's not that flight itself makes noise, but movement, including flying movement potentially does. The noise generated by walking is far more than footfalls -- rustling robes, slapping leather, clinking armor, chiming jewelry, the wheezing of a low constitution, hitting birds, etc. If moving silently were just a matter of taking off one's shoes, it wouldn't be much of a skill, now would it?

Overall, this thread reminds me of an old article in Dragon Magazine, about what D&D castles would really look like, in order to defend against such things as armies with wizards, dragons, and other magical menaces. If you can dig it up, check out Twenty Tricks For Castle Defense by Fraser Sherman from Dragon #185

I thought you were saying flying had a penalty to stealth.


necromental wrote:
To the OP, I think your players are abusing one-shot items and wealth-by-level guidelines. They cannot spend unlimited amounts of wealth on potions (or other one-shoters) and expect to have the same WBL. We had a similar discussion with our DM, and after scouring the forums, we found that about 25% of WBL is reasonable to spend on one shoters. NOTE - this is atop of your WBL and accounted during leveling, so your WBL at any current time should still be in line with the table in core rulebook. If they exceed that amount they should have a permanent decrease in their WBL.

Ignore WBL entirely. Just use the Treasure Value per Encounter to determine how much treasure the party finds. Whatever they spend is spent, whether that's on magic items or on the more traditional wine, women, and song. When they're broke they need to either find more treasure or get real jobs.


Covent wrote:
On skills, well the Pathfinder Skills system is very static and it is very easy to get your bonus to a level where you auto-succeed on any non-contested skill unless the DM is arbitrarily raising target numbers.

I haven't found this to be true in my experience, for two reasons:

1. The Skills chapter of the Core Rulebook specifically empowers GMs to make additional uses for skills:

CRB wrote:
Characters can sometimes use skills for purposes other than those noted here, at the GM's discretion.

A GM that does this liberally can keep skills relevant throughout the majority of the campaign without any feeling of arbitrariness. This can include having more difficult versions of the same type of challenges to overcome (e.g., disarming a cunningly-crafted multi-stage magical dead man's switch security device, or climbing up a gigantic downwardly-rotating wheel with a nearly-sheer surface) or entirely made-up uses for skills (such as using Profession (innkeeper) to notice that the accounts in the barkeep's ledger have been doctored to hide some suspicious transactions). Such uses of skills need not be mandatory--indeed, it's generally a bad idea to only have one way to overcome or bypass a challenge--but they encourage continued skill investment and enable more of those epic moments players talk about in later conversation.

Of course, a GM that does this badly can turn things into MMI/MTP, but that's true of literally everything a GM does.

2. Nearly every Paizo module and Adventure Path book contains at least one nontraditional use of a skill. This further reinforces the idea that skills are not limited to the specific uses mentioned in the Core Rulebook and that, in fact, opportunities to use such skills in new ways should occur with some frequency.

In summary: GM, use thy discretion!


necromental wrote:
To the OP, I think your players are abusing one-shot items and wealth-by-level guidelines. They cannot spend unlimited amounts of wealth on potions (or other one-shoters) and expect to have the same WBL. We had a similar discussion with our DM, and after scouring the forums, we found that about 25% of WBL is reasonable to spend on one shoters. NOTE - this is atop of your WBL and accounted during leveling, so your WBL at any current time should still be in line with the table in core rulebook. If they exceed that amount they should have a permanent decrease in their WBL.

That's a matter of GM preference, and even then it can reasonably vary from campaign to campaign under the same GM.

As a default, I use WBL as a loose guideline. Consumed items are not taken into account, but it isn't like I just drop sacks of gold whenever the PCs use a potion--there's some inertia that slows down the swing back to the WBL baseline, so PCs that use consumables more often will spend longer under WBL. But I like to encourage the use of consumables whenever possible since, in my experience, they tend to be overlooked in real play (versus theorycrafting). So wands and potions are essentially "free" in the long term, but in the short term they still count against WBL.

Making this known to the players has a fortunate side effect: it makes them less angry if their PC's weapons/armor/whatever get sundered or disjoined because they know the GM will smooth things out in the long run, but it still makes them careful because it may be some time before they can find/purchase a replacement.

That's my default, and it seems to work well enough. For some other games, I toss out WBL completely and take a little more care ensuring that encounters are properly balanced to compensate. It really isn't that hard; it just takes a little more thought than "look up GP value here and CR there".


The OP said he tried to keep them under-leveled in wealth 'cause they're spending a lot on potions of fly&invisibility, but they "got upset".


Voadam wrote:
pclark4422 wrote:

Thanks for the responses. These have been ongoing issues for our group and we've been rotating GMs (myself included) so its not just one of us. Different situations are popping up in every situation, and without an encyclopedic knowledge of the game its impossible to plan for these contingencies.

. . .

The problem with skill bloat is its polarizing nature. You end up with only two possibilities. Either a) The unmaxed characters will have chance at succeeding and the maxed character will succeed 100% of the time, or or b) the Maxed character has a chance of failure and the unmaxed characters have no chance of success. I find it hard to have a middle ground in there where the Maxed character will have say an 80% chance of success and the unmaxed may only have a 25-30%. That is to say theyre better, but not perfect. This isn't as terribly important in skills that are used individually, such as ride, swim, craft, but skills that are used as a party where only one has to succeed, perception, spellcraft, survival, sense motive, diplomacy, bluff etc, it creates problems. Stealth and perception, to me, tend to be the two biggest culprits of the all or nothing scenario.

You might want to go through the monster manuals a few times. I created a reference list for monsters with unique abilities and organized them under different environments so i can plug ones in that fit the situation. This allows me to switch out encounters quite easily. This may help when the pcs start ripping through your carefully planned scenes. Have a few backups.


Thank you Wraith, you've given me a lot of ideas and things to think about.

One of the primary takeaways I got from your design of the quest is not to invest too much time into the ruins themselves. Using primarily random encounters instead of planned events reduces the workload on me as a GM and then if they skip it by flying over it, then there isn't really much love lost on my end.

The second takeaway I came up with was to make it so that they don't want to skip straight to the end. In the ruins I should possibly put clues or some other helpful, but not necessary, little tidbits. Maybe a map of the castle or a royal sigil that allows them to bypass, or even command some of the undead spirits. Similarly if the Key is in a spire and they just fly up and take it they've missed out on all of the loot and XP from climbing the tower. Sort of way of "punishing" them for taking the easy way without resorting to "rocks fall take damage"

Lulling them into a false sense of security, increasing the Creature Levels, or combining traps and monsters for some reason never really occurred to me. I mean I'd used the Advanced Template, but I've never Given anything 2-3 levels higher, I've always just used different creatures. Not quite sure how they'll take it when a creature they were killing with ease is now suddenly beating the crap out of them, but the rules are perfectly legit. With monsters in the room I certainly wouldn't let them Take 10 to notice a trap let alone disarm it.

One point I do disagree is the importance of traps. To me they justify the rogue class so they do need to be around. They don't need to be all over the place but the do need to have enough impact to where if you don't have a rogue you'd wish you did, and if you do you're very thankful for it. Trap DCs and Skills are still a little tricky, but I suppose those can be adjusted on the fly. It might be a little cheap to adjust the DC to be just past Take 10 no matter what it is, but I don't see any other alternatives. He'll just have to invest in some masterwork lockpicks, or use the Bard's Inspire Competence, or some other buff to bring it into auto-pass range.

I think ultimately my problem with creating quests has been that I've been trying to make each and every one of them into their own little mini-plot. And being plot focused it becomes important that on the players' journey from point A-Z they hit every other plot point in between so the story can unfold. Instead I may have to adjust to view quests as more hack and slash kinds of events that drive the story forward but are not in and of themselves a story.

Another question on the topic of Take 10. As a community how would you generally perceive a house rule that you can not be always Taking 10 for perception instead opting for the GM taking secret rolls for your perception whenever it becomes relevant. You can still Take 10 if you choose, but on things that would be more akin to a Search roll than say a Spot/Listen. In short, you can't Take 10 walking down a corridor, but you can to search a door for traps or a pile of crates for loot.

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But to be honest, after level 6, Pathfinder becomes a superhero game. The characters are X-men. Make the challenges in such a way that you can't think of how they could be beaten, then watch them do it anyway.

This may be the crux of the problem with my entire viewpoint. I tend to see the progression as follows.

Lvl 1-5 Typical soldiers in a typical war movie (Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, Apocalypse Now)
Lvl 6-10 Action hero (John McClane, The Expendables, Rambo, anything Schwazenegger)
Lvl 11-15 Mythic Heroes (Hercules, X-Men, middle tier comic heroes)
Lvl 16-20 Super Heroes (Superman, Thor, one step short of gods)

Because of this I think I have different expectations of what players should be able to do at given levels.

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The same argument could be made for a swim check, acrobatics, and using stealth but they use taking 10. That is why I don't see the trap as immediate danger. It is a possible danger. It is not imminent until you KNOW you know the danger is coming.

Basically potential danger is not danger, and that is what failing a to disarm a trap or failing a stealth check are. Now, taking 20 which means failure leads to bad results could not be used.

I wouldn't be so fast to say that. Take a plank of wood, set it on the floor, and stand on it. Piece of cake right? You could do it all day. Take that same plank and place it between two 8 story buildings and see how quickly your knees start to shake and how much concentration you have to use to keep your balance.

The mere potential of danger, it doesn't even have to be lethal you could put it between two step ladders, adds pressure and changes your reaction.

Its an interesting experiment to try if you haven't (I have done similar) and I think justifies a lack of a Take 10.

Again, great information I'm getting here guys. I will be putting it to the best use I can once I get my next turn as GM.

Back on the topic of invisibility I looked at the glossary (thanks again Wraith) but I'm having a little trouble discerning it.

The base DC to notice an invisible creature is 20 when its not moving. The various modifiers apply to this base 20 so an invisible moving at full speed would have a DC 10 to notice. The +40 stealth bonus only comes into play if the creature is actively hiding, not just standing in the open.

Now would a character moving at half speed during stealth have the -5 penalty (leading ultimately to only a +15)? And would one with fast stealth take the -10?

Pinpointing a stationary invisible has a base DC 40 (20 to notice plus the other 20 mentioned to pinpoint). While pinpointing an invisible moving full speed would have a DC 30. If it is in combat it has a DC of only 20 to pinpoint.

Regardless if its pinpointed it has still has a 50% miss chance.

Do I have this correct?


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Similarly if the Key is in a spire and they just fly up and take it they've missed out on all of the loot and XP from climbing the tower. Sort of way of "punishing" them for taking the easy way without resorting to "rocks fall take damage"

Honestly I dont care if they skip things/eccounters. The only thing I care about are things vital to the campaign, and it is almost impossible to skip those. If they bypass some monsters I give them XP for finding a work around. Most of the other encounters are just me taking monster X from a book. I only put real work into the important NPC's. That keeps me from getting annoyed about wasting time if random monster X was killed easily or bypassed. At the same time it avoids "punishing" them for being smart.

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Lulling them into a false sense of security, increasing the Creature Levels, or combining traps and monsters for some reason never really occurred to me. I mean I'd used the Advanced Template, but I've never Given anything 2-3 levels higher, I've always just used different creatures. Not quite sure how they'll take it when a creature they were killing with ease is now suddenly beating the crap out of them, but the rules are perfectly legit. With monsters in the room I certainly wouldn't let them Take 10 to notice a trap let alone disarm it.

Another idea is to use monsters that work well together. As an example witchfires give you vulnerablity to fire. You pair them with another monster that does fire damage and that can work well.

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One point I do disagree is the importance of traps. To me they justify the rogue class so they do need to be around. They don't need to be all over the place but the do need to have enough impact to where if you don't have a rogue you'd wish you did, and if you do you're very thankful for it. Trap DCs and Skills are still a little tricky, but I suppose those can be adjusted on the fly. It might be a little cheap to adjust the DC to be just past Take 10 no matter what it is, but I don't see any other alternatives. He'll just have to invest in some masterwork lockpicks, or use the Bard's Inspire Competence, or some other buff to bring it into auto-pass range.

I don't think it is a GM's job to justify a class, and honestly most traps are not that deadly anyway so even on a failed save you just use recources to heal up and move on. You don't even need a rogue to bypass them. I can take a bard(just one example) and pump up disable device to disarm any mechanical trap. A wisdom based character can be the one to find the trap. If the trap is magical having summons set it off on purpose or using dispel magic also works. Being creative can also help someone bypass a trap. The main point is the rogue much like any other class is still not needed. And with archetypes it allows for people to not be forced to take class X, which I think is a good thing.

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I think ultimately my problem with creating quests has been that I've been trying to make each and every one of them into their own little mini-plot. And being plot focused it becomes important that on the players' journey from point A-Z they hit every other plot point in between so the story can unfold. Instead I may have to adjust to view quests as more hack and slash kinds of events that drive the story forward but are not in and of themselves a story.

I tend to just require X be done. Sometimes X can be easy. Sometimes it will be difficult depending on the party makeup. I try not to force it to happen a certain way. I do try to think of ways they might do it so I can have counters ready.

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Another question on the topic of Take 10. As a community how would you generally perceive a house rule that you can not be always Taking 10 for perception instead opting for the GM taking secret rolls for your perception whenever it becomes relevant. You can still Take 10 if you choose, but on things that would be more akin to a Search roll than say a Spot/Listen. In short, you can't Take 10 walking down a corridor, but you can to search a door for traps or a pile of crates for loot.

I don't like the secret roll because I see no need for it. Even if I roll a 40 someone may be invisible with a high stealth score so I still may not know they are there if they are more than 30 feet away. I would think the GM was fudging the dice, so that would just make me get my perception score high enough that I would almost never fail. As an example the walking radar I made earlier with am +18 could have a higher perception. One trait, one feat, and another +1 mod to wisdom, and that +18 becomes a +23, and I think that was at level 5. My advice is don't try to force the challenge to take place. As an example if someone makes a character that is really good at bluffing and I make a houserule to make it harder to bluff it would just annoy them.

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This may be the crux of the problem with my entire viewpoint. I tend to see the progression as follows.

Lvl 1-5 Typical soldiers in a typical war movie (Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, Apocalypse Now)
Lvl 6-10 Action hero (John McClane, The Expendables, Rambo, anything Schwazenegger)
Lvl 11-15 Mythic Heroes (Hercules, X-Men, middle tier comic heroes)
Lvl 16-20 Super Heroes (Superman, Thor, one step short of gods)
Because of this I think I have different expectations of what players should be able to do at given levels.

This is somewhat true. That is why I said before that at higher levels it is much harder to stop them.

As an example you can have a murder mystery at low levels. At level 10 they have access to divination spells, and they are more likley to be able to outstrip NPC's in opposed skill checks. They might solve the crime without talking to anyone depending on the situation.
And the action hero likely does not go past level 7. At level 7 they are breaking world records. 8th level they are transitioning into something not really human, and by 11 they are legendary. I think the legend lore spell says someone has to be level 11 before the spell works on them.
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I wouldn't be so fast to say that. Take a plank of wood, set it on the floor, and stand on it. Piece of cake right? You could do it all day. Take that same plank and place it between two 8 story buildings and see how quickly your knees start to shake and how much concentration you have to use to keep your balance.

The mere potential of danger, it doesn't even have to be lethal you could put it between two step ladders, adds pressure and changes your reaction.

Its an interesting experiment to try if you haven't (I have done similar) and I think justifies a lack of a Take 10.

I am no acrobat, and I don't like heights so I am not doing any of this, but I have heard of people do these types of stunts. Evil Kanevial used to do similar things routinely so if I was that skill I doubt I would be nervous. Falling off of te Empire State building, and doing a no net wire walk can both kill you. After you get over 20 feet high the chance of death is about the same. You just need the nerves to do it or you should not be doing the act.

See this guy
Now he eventually died from a fall, but he did it on a routine basis.
Here is a list of others. One guy tight rope walked between two hot air balloons while they were in flight.

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Back on the topic of invisibility I looked at the glossary (thanks again Wraith) but I'm having a little trouble discerning it.

The base DC to notice an invisible creature is 20 when its not moving. The various modifiers apply to this base 20 so an invisible moving at full speed would have a DC 10 to notice. The +40 stealth bonus only comes into play if the creature is actively hiding, not just standing in the open.

No. That chart is there for the pinpoint DC, not the "notice DC".

The DC is a flat 20 to notice it within 30 feet. To pinpoint(find the square) is a 20 +/- modifiers. The +40 is when they do nothing but hide.
Example I am moving withing 30 feet, and I am exactly 20 feet away. Let's say I roll a 20 before the invis modifier. The DC to notice me is a 20.
The DC to find out where I am is a 42--> 20 from invis, 20 total stealth mod before invis, +2 for being 20 feet away.
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Now would a character moving at half speed during stealth have the -5 penalty (leading ultimately to only a +15)? And would one with fast stealth take the -10?

If he is moving at half speed he only takes the -5. The -10 is only for moving at full speed.

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Pinpointing a stationary invisible has a base DC 40 (20 to notice plus the other 20 mentioned to pinpoint). While pinpointing an invisible moving full speed would have a DC 30. If it is in combat it has a DC of only 20 to pinpoint.

If you are invisble, but moving at full spell you get a +10(+20 for invis but -10 for moving at full speed) to whatever your roll. If you don't roll you get a 10 before ACP comes into play.

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Regardless if its pinpointed it has still has a 50% miss chance.

Correct, but once you know the square you can use flour or any spells mentioned earlier.

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