Abusing Campaign Themes


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


So I'm running Reign of Winter for a group new to Pathfinder (but they are use to D20 systems so I doubt they'll have much trouble picking it up) and I wanted some input.

Backstory, just finished ROTRL anni and I noticed for a good chunk of the book

enemy type:
giants
are a big foe...so things like
weapon type:
bane
is pretty powerful and you can get a lot of mileage out of it.

That seems mostly common in APs (I get it, theme a campaign because duh that's how stories work) like Carrion Crown where

enemy type spoiler:
undead....Jesus what did you think when you heard carrion
are prevalent so
weapon type:
disruption
could possibly be huge, among other things.

Okay enough with the clicking. The question is this, when your players stumble onto something that may unbalance the campaign just by noticing story patterns...how do you adjust? Ban the unbalancing thing? Up the CR? Just looking for ideas in case my guys figure out

Reign of Winter:
It's cold damnit.....Well also there's fey


I'm always for heating things up, so why not let them figure it out?

As long as they don't metagame, the players figuring it out doesn't mean anything.


Agree with Climate Change.

Long as they aren't hunting for a giant bane weapon right off the bat in ROTRL kind of thing, let them enjoy figuring stuff out.

Plus, you're the GM. Unless they've run the campaign before, they won't notice if you toss a few extra mobs that are resistant to said thing.


Climate Change wrote:

I'm always for heating things up, so why not let them figure it out?

As long as they don't metagame, the players figuring it out doesn't mean anything.

Have to agree here. So long as there's no metagaming involved, it makes perfect sense for the party to equip themselves appropriately for the threats they face. If I was regularly fighting lots of big nasty giants, I would invest in some sort of anti-giant weapon too.


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In the free player guides for the APs they tell you things like what favored enemies are prevalent in the AP so that rangers can pick something appropriate for the campaign that will actually show up and players can plan out things like spell selections and desired weapon enhancements.

In ROW

Spoiler:
fire to combat cold subtype
is spelled out in the guide so expect the PCs to be equipped or designed to do so. It is a brutal AP for combat, so don't sweat it, the party is expected to do a lot of that and still be challenged.


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Basically, those adventures are designed on the assumption that the players will grab the right kind of weapons, spells, equipment etc. In some they even give you the mega-weapon of doom that will vanquish their foes (Curse of the Crimson Throne). There's absolutely no point having Favoured Enemy: Reptilian Humanoids in Rise of the Runelords, for example, or a giant-bane weapon in Carrion Crown. Players making these choices will only be frustrated, so they offer advice against it. Even so, Giants are the foes no more than half the time in RotR, so there are plenty of occasions when the giant-slayer ranger doesn't get to rule the fight.


Pretty much what other people here said. I would assume that players have access to most or all of the information in the players guides, and that they can figure out over time what kind of weapons are going to be most appropriate and equip themselves accordingly. I'm playing a campaign heavy on fairy involvement. Once my players figured that out, cold iron was the order of the day. I have no problem with this; that's the "experience" part of "experience points."

That said ... IMO, if particular enemies are prevalent in a region, then market forces might cause certain kinds of useful weapons to become more expensive. But be prepared for your players to scream bloody murder if you introduce these market forces to your campaign.


pennywit wrote:

That said ... IMO, if particular enemies are prevalent in a region, then market forces might cause certain kinds of useful weapons to become more expensive. But be prepared for your players to scream bloody murder if you introduce these market forces to your campaign.

Those market forces work in favor of PC's getting appropriate equipment as well. In the borderlands of the evil giant kingdoms more crafters are likely to make lots of giant bane weapons than halfling bane weapons to meet the expected giant-slaying demand and so you are more likely to find such appropriate weapons for sale or as loot than in a random market or dungeon.


Thanks for the advice.

On further review of ROW, I see that they do switch it up fairly well. I was just worried that the party would roll through encounters but partly that's me being a noobie GM who is envisioning epic encounters when I'm forgetting that the players dictate the encounter not the other way around.

If they do start steamrolling or the challenge doesn't seem there I can always throw in a couple advanced templates to even it out.


I have no problem with it as long as it makes sense in-character. It is perfectly logical for an undead blasting oracle to get a circlet of positive channeling. That is what he does. After the 3rd fight with a construct he might also decide he needs a golem bane scarab.

However, when the group sees the name and cover of the 3rd book in the AP and starts loading up on silver weapons, wolf's bane, lycanthrope bane weapons, and scrolls of remove curse - I had to call them on it. Look guys, Grudoel has no way to know that werewolves are coming to town. That's too much metagaming.


I find that when characters begin to rely on a magic bullet, the AP usually provides something out of left field enough to convince them to diversify.

If it's really a problem, have the PCs reputation proceed them and apply countermeasures. PCs are forever doing this to NPCs, that door swings both ways.

But generally, I wouldn't characterize this as abuse, any more than packing shorts and light shirts when you're heading to vacation in the tropics. Right tool, right job; never was bad roleplay.


Unassuming Local Guy wrote:

That seems mostly common in APs (I get it, theme a campaign because duh that's how stories work) like Carrion Crown where ** spoiler omitted ** are prevalent so ** spoiler omitted ** could possibly be huge, among other things.

And even in that AP

Spoiler:
half the modules are themed on non-undead menaces: Frankenstein construct, Lovecraftian cultists and aberrations, and werewolves

Unassuming Local Guy wrote:

...

If they do start steamrolling or the challenge doesn't seem there I can always throw in a couple advanced templates to even it out.

.

The giants have a couple dozen pet rust monsters. The giants don't leave any of their own metal items down near the floor where the now starving rust monsters can reach it.
OR
The giants are in the middle of a business transaction. Trying to hire some ettercaps to go catch some slaves/snacks for them.
OR
The giants have a couple squads of kobolds to clear out the confined areas in the caves under their lair.
OR
A few of the giants are actually a yuan-ti under the effects of Giant Form trying to infiltrate the giant clan.

I don't know the AP, but I'm sure you can come up with something that seems reasonable.

Sovereign Court

ElterAgo wrote:
However, when the group sees the name and cover of the 3rd book in the AP and starts loading up on silver weapons, wolf's bane, lycanthrope bane weapons, and scrolls of remove curse - I had to call them on it. Look guys, Grudoel has no way to know that werewolves are coming to town. That's too much metagaming.

You could go too far in the other direction though, and anti-metagame too much. What I mean is that because the players know because of the book's cover what to expect, that they feel they can't buy silver weapons because it'd be metagaming.

However, buying silver weapons somewhere around level 2-4 is generally good practice, because there's quite a few critters with DR/silver (vampires, lycantrophes, devils, unseelie critters). And scrolls of remove curse are going to be useful at a certain level anyway, although the caster level check means a live caster is usually better.

So if you have players that see the cover of the book and shy away from buying silver and remove curse gear, I think you've gone too far in the other direction. So sometimes giving the players OOC information restricts them more IC than if they didn't know that stuff OOC.

That's why I generally think the cover of a book is fair game. If the author really wanted to surprise you, he should've put something else on the cover.


I can see that point. And if they are just buying better logical gear as they move up that is one thing. Many do that all the time. My melee capable guys always have a silver dagger by 2nd or 3rd level.

But when they didn't buy anything like that before, look at the cover of the next module, then start to purchase the whole lycan-hunter toolbox. That is too much.


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Unscrupulous merchant sells them "silver" weapons.


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I specifically tell players at my table that if they metagame in that way (especially if I notice they've been visiting the AP forums and seem to know all the custom stuff we GMs brainstorm there), then I'll change up the AP a bit.


Unassuming Local Guy wrote:
The question is this, when your players stumble onto something that may unbalance the campaign just by noticing story patterns...how do you adjust?

I cheer and do nothing else.

My players actually pay attention to the story? Learn from it and start making adjustments that make sense within the story and campaign world? Howdy-doody, I'm happy! Watching the players figure out those sorts of things is why I like DMing.


Arnwyn wrote:
Unassuming Local Guy wrote:
The question is this, when your players stumble onto something that may unbalance the campaign just by noticing story patterns...how do you adjust?

I cheer and do nothing else.

My players actually pay attention to the story? Learn from it and start making adjustments that make sense within the story and campaign world? Howdy-doody, I'm happy! Watching the players figure out those sorts of things is why I like DMing.

I kind of like that, too. At my table, the players recently encountered a rather tough adversary who significantly damaged the party. The players managed to defeat him (he escaped, however), but not before my players (particularly the alchemist and wizard) found that their usual bag of tricks didn't even phaze their opponent. The players moved to their more obscure abilities before finding something that could hurt him.

I was bemused (and kind of thrilled, actually) when I the party leveled up, and the wizard and the alchemist added to their arsenal some tricks specifically designed to deal some pain to this guy next time they meet him.


Yeah, I guess that's always the double edged sword of meta-gaming...especially for people who have been around for a awhile.

On the one hand you're using outside knowledge to warp the game and on the other, your shying away from knowledge that you could legitimately come to the conclusion of.


The reason AP have themese like undead or cold is so you can choose to use things like bane or cold resistance and actually have it be effective.

Whats the point of bane existing if the GM just counters it by removing those types of enemies or making them stronger? Now, I understand not wanting them to cakewalk through an adventure. But countering them specifically for taking prudent actions like Bane (Outsider (Evil)) in Wrath of the Righteous is adversarial GM'ing.

Grand Lodge

Nothing is more infuriating than for an Enchantment Sorcerer to run into an undead campaign without the Undead Bloodline.

Don't be the sort of person who makes character concepts invalid because they're designed to do something in particular.


If the AP is called "Path of the fairies" and your GM replaces all the fairies with orcs, then it's kind of spoiling things. On the other hand, if EVERYBODY in the party has fey bane weapons and are carving their way through the AP without a challenge, then it makes sense to switch things up a bit, especially if the new encounters flow with the story. My favorite trick is to occasionally change things up with negotiation encounters or chases, where the bane weapon provides an advantage (as it should), but doesn't turn every encounter into a cakewalk.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Yeah, I prefer some metainformation about the game I'm getting involved in. Sure, it informs some of your character decisions, but it really sucks to make patently wrong ones because you had no information at all. Has anyone had a ranger in a Legacy of Fire game not take Gnolls as Favored Enemy #1?

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