pathfinder monsters that aren't fun for their CR


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Inspired by recent conversation, I posit to you a creature that may be unfun for its CR (or hilariously fun, depending on your playerbase).

Phal'lus Lord Of Dongle Thrust
XP 307,200
LE Large outsider (devil, evil, extraplanar, lawful) Monk 1
Init +14; Senses darkvision 60 ft., see in darkness; Perception +35
Aura fear (20 ft., DC 25)
Defense
AC 57, touch 37, flat-footed 47 (+2 armor, +4 deflection, +10 Dex, +20 natural, –1 size, +12 Wis)
hp 366 (20d10+1d8+252); regeneration 5 (good weapons, good spells)
Fort +26, Ref +24, Will +22; +4 resistance
DR 15/good and silver; Immune fire, poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10; SR 31
Offense
Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft. (average)
Melee +5 unarmed strike +38/+33/+28/+23 (1d8+14), 2 claws +36 (2d8+12), 2 wings +36 (2d6+12), bite +36 (4d6+12 plus poison and disease), tail slap +36 (2d8+12 plus grab)
Space 10 ft., Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks constrict 2d8+26, devil shaping
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 18th)
At will—blasphemy (DC 27), create undead, fireball (DC 23), greater dispel magic, greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), greater scrying (DC 27), magic circle against good, mass hold monster (DC 29), persistent image (DC 25), power word stun, scorching ray, trap the soul (DC 28), unholy aura (DC 28), wall of fire
3/day—quickened wall of fire (DC 23)
1/day—meteor swarm, summon (level 9, any 1 CR 19 or lower devil, 100%)
1/year—wish
Statistics
Str 39, Dex 31, Con 35, Int 24, Wis 34, Cha 30
Base Atk +20; CMB +35; CMD 71
Feats Improved Unarmed Strike, Deflect Arrows, Improved Initiative, Improved Iron Will, Iron Will, Multiattack, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (wall of fire), Hover, Wingover, Arcane Strike, Blind Fight, Step-Up, Lunge
Skills To be determined (I'm lazy)
Languages Celestial, Common, Draconic, Infernal; telepathy 100 ft.
Ecology
Environment any (Hell)
Organization solitary, pair, or council (3–9)
Treasure double (+5 Jacob's ladder of mighty fists [belt slot], +3 cloak of resistance, +2 amulet of natural armor, +2 bracers of armor, handy haversack, 6,500 gp in assorted potions, oils, elixirs, and jewelry)
Special Abilities
Devil Shaping (Su) Three times per day, a pit fiend can spend a minute to transform nearby lemures into other lesser devils. A pit fiend can transform one lemure for every Hit Die the pit fiend possesses. It can then reshape these lemures into a number of Hit Dice's worth of lesser devils equal to the number of lemures affected. For example, a typical 20 Hit Dice pit fiend could transform 20 lemures into two bone devils (10 HD each), or three bearded devils (6 HD each, leaving two lemures unchanged), or any other combination of lesser devils. Lemures to be reshaped must be within 50 feet of the pit fiend, becoming stationary and unable to move once the shaping begins. After a minute passes, the lemures reform into the shape of a new lesser devil ready to follow the orders of the pit fiend. Although pit fiends can, technically, elevate a mass of 20 lemures into a new pit fiend, most are hesitant to do so since they have no special control over a devil created in this manner.
Disease (Su) Devil Chills: Bite—injury; save Fort DC 32; onset immediate; frequency 1/day; effect 1d4 Str damage; cure 3 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Poison (Ex) Bite—injury; save Fort DC 32; frequency 1/round for 10 rounds; effect 1d6 Con damage; cure 3 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Probably contains a few errors, it's not professional work. :P


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Ascalaphus wrote:

Animals are kinda weird in that most animals shouldn't be fighting a normal party of PCs.

PC parties tend to average 5 people plus maybe an animal companion. All of them looking fairly healthy. (Even the wizards tend to have positive Con modifiers, and walk in the middle of the group.) The 2H weapon warriors are probably exuding Dominance and Danger.

That is not the kind of group that a predatory animal would normally target, not for hunting. It might do so defend its young, if it's startled or cornered. But a normal healthy predator would go after far easier prey.

And come to that, the build of many predatory animals is very focused on maximizing the value you get out of a surprise attack. If they can't drop their prey in 1-2 rounds AND chase off the rest of the herd, they're done for. They might be able to mess up a PC a bit, but they're not gonna win the encounter, and they know it. (Because that's basically what predators do: select viable prey.)

So, on the one hand the stats for many animals are fairly plausible, they make lousy enemies for a normal PC band. Now, a PC that steps away for a bit to take a leak, that's an entirely different story.

Generally speaking, most of my ambush predators strike and then run away, and they generally are going for whichever one looks to be the least trouble. And if they fly, they're bringing you with them. :P


David Neilson wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:
Only CR 5, and regen can't be turned off by any damage type. You gotta knock them down and coup de grace or suffocate them. :D
Doesn't work. Regeneration brings them back from CdG and suffocation too.
You may be right on coup de grace, but I believe suffocation is called out as working on regen.

"Attack forms that don’t deal hit point damage are not healed by regeneration. Regeneration also does not restore hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation. Regenerating creatures can regrow lost portions of their bodies and can reattach severed limbs or body parts if they are brought together within 1 hour of severing. Severed parts that are not reattached wither and die normally."

I was wrong about coup de grace working... it doesn't, as you have to inflict damage to use it. :D

Considering suffocation is actually mentioned in the description of Regeneration, I would assume it works... that being said, you aren't just holding these guys down and smothering them with pillows, they are "only" CR 5, can fly, and have 15 foot reach. It's pretty much ranged combat or nothing on these things. They would do well to disarm or sunder any ranged attackers, focus on casters, then all the trolls have to do is hit and run tactics. I have used these things as a base monster in my game (part of Orcish armies-they call them shock troops). They get REALLY fun once you start adding character levels. :D

Sovereign Court

Ashiel wrote:

Yes. Absolutely unbuffed and naked. However, such monsters typically have buffs and/or the magic items (which PCs will later loot) that substantially improve upon their base. A pit fiend with a naked AC of 38 has an at-will self buff that brings it to 42. An amulet of natural armor +2 (something you would expect to find in a pit fiend's possession) brings it to AC 44. If the pit fiend bothers to drink a potion of mage armor, his AC becomes 48. Unless you encounter the pit fiend so naked that he can use his dongle for an unarmed stike, then you're probably going to see a much more respectable AC.

Dragons are like this. Virtually all outsiders are like this. In fact, most every high-CR enemy has massive ACs and/or special defenses once you include their game-given options. >_<

I'd even go so far as to say that it starts at pretty low CR.

This is why I don't buy into standard DPR calculations, and why I think that Power Attack and other things which trade accuracy for damage are overrated. (Power Attack is great for two-handed fighers - but it's only situational for everyone else.)


alexd1976 wrote:
David Neilson wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:
Only CR 5, and regen can't be turned off by any damage type. You gotta knock them down and coup de grace or suffocate them. :D
Doesn't work. Regeneration brings them back from CdG and suffocation too.
You may be right on coup de grace, but I believe suffocation is called out as working on regen.

"Attack forms that don’t deal hit point damage are not healed by regeneration. Regeneration also does not restore hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation. Regenerating creatures can regrow lost portions of their bodies and can reattach severed limbs or body parts if they are brought together within 1 hour of severing. Severed parts that are not reattached wither and die normally."

I was wrong about coup de grace working... it doesn't, as you have to inflict damage to use it. :D

Considering suffocation is actually mentioned in the description of Regeneration, I would assume it works... that being said, you aren't just holding these guys down and smothering them with pillows, they are "only" CR 5, can fly, and have 15 foot reach. It's pretty much ranged combat or nothing on these things.

Suffocation certainly works (and I'd allow it), but there's a relatively solid argument that it doesn't actually kill the creature in question, merely force it into unconsciousness until it recovers normally - which could be forced "indefinite" duration 'cause, say, you bury it in a rock, but still. This has not been FAQ'd to my knowledge.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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I believe there's also a FAQ that states that regenerating creatures that become immune to their regen condition basically turn it into fast healing. At least, that's how it was ruled in 3.5. So half-dragon Abyssal trolls lost their regen entirely, and had only fast healing.

Eh.

==Aelryinth


I always found that rule exceptionally odd, especially given that regeneration really didn't work like fast healing in 3.5, at all.

Also, was that a 3.5 rule, or a 3.0 rule? Either way, the Tarrasque breaks it in Pathfinder (or at least is argued to by many)...


AC is a defense which can easily be raised by many monsters and most PCs. I tend to emphasize defense with my PCs, and my AC sometimes reaches the point where people begin to complain about it. Just using a shield instead of a two-handed weapon often makes a big enough difference to drive people a little nuts. Maybe further discussion of PC and monster defenses and expected AC would be better off in a new thread though.

Back to the topic at hand, quasits and imps can definitely be frustrating monsters for low level parties. We met an imp in charge of a goblin tribe at 1st level in a 3 PC game with a Fighter, a Ninja, and a Barbarian. My Fighter failed his save against a Suggestion to protect the imp and spent the next several hours of real time disarming, tripping, and generally hindering the other PCs. If the DM hadn’t allowed me to follow the Suggestion in a non-lethal manner the campaign might have ended right there.


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Devilkiller wrote:
AC is a defense which can easily be raised by many monsters and most PCs. I tend to emphasize defense with my PCs, and my AC sometimes reaches the point where people begin to complain about it. Just using a shield instead of a two-handed weapon often makes a big enough difference to drive people a little nuts. Maybe further discussion of PC and monster defenses and expected AC would be better off in a new thread though.

Generally speaking, going for more defense is a good idea in this game. Most people generally like being awesome and taking on lots of enemies rather than getting turned into a pile of pulp by the trash mobs, and it's generally frowned upon to die as a PC. :P

Meanwhile, the nature of this game and the encounter building system encourages you to throw hordes of baddies at PCs. Being able to shirk off attacks regularly is a staple. You don't see the cast of Lord of the Rings getting beat up by orcs so follow their example! :P

Being able to survive chip damage is also a big deal later on. That's why things like energy resistances are such a big deal. If you lack energy resistances, a bunch of weenies with fireball or other sorts of attacks will chip you down even if your saves are good. :o

Quote:
Back to the topic at hand, quasits and imps can definitely be frustrating monsters for low level parties. We met an imp in charge of a goblin tribe at 1st level in a 3 PC game with a Fighter, a Ninja, and a Barbarian. My Fighter failed his save against a Suggestion to protect the imp and spent the next several hours of real time disarming, tripping, and generally hindering the other PCs. If the DM hadn’t allowed me to follow the Suggestion in a non-lethal manner the campaign might have ended right there.

One of the most ill conceived encounters in an AP is the Imp/Pseudodragon optional encounter in Curse of the Crimson Throne. You're only, maybe, 2nd level when the encounter is suggested and its almost assuredly a TPK, especially since the writer apparently never bothered to check the stats on either Imps nor Pseudodragons. >_>

Sovereign Court

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My experience with AC is that you either have to invest seriously in it, to really go for out-of-reach AC, or not bother and focus on killing enemies faster than they can kill you.

Investing only a moderate portion of my resources in AC tends to leave me stuck halfway, where my offence isn't all it could be, but my AC isn't high enough to protect me either. Maybe I'm not doing it right though.


Ashiel wrote:


Lazy martial is lazy. At 20th level, having a 24 Dex is trivial. It's 13 base, +5 inherent (from your casters), +6 magic item = 24 Dex, and 26-28 is where a lot of martials are likely to land (anyone who invested around 14-15 Dex and maybe dropped a level increase into it).
Meanwhile, if Core Only (as in just the core rulebook) you've got...
+5 Celestial Armor (+11 AC)
+5 Small Shield or Buckler (+6 AC)
+5 Amulet of Natural Armor (+5 AC)
+5 Ring of Protection (+5 AC)
+7 or +8 Dex (+7-8 AC)
Ioun stone (+1 AC)
That adds up to AC 45-46 pre-buffs. Once you start adding buffs that are staples at that level, you're going to see ACs upwards to low 50s, and this is assuming you have no actual natural armor, isn't accounting for dodge bonuses, or anything else of the sort. If you're a druid, you're going to hit ACs in the 50s easily and possibly low 60s (thanks to Wild Shape + Wild Armor).
Outside of Core Rulebook only, most front-liners are going to go in for the plate version of celestial armor for another +3. As Aelryinth mentions, there's even more and more ways of pushing AC without getting gimmicky about it.

I mentioned the tome of dex, that's why I wrote 39 (maybe 41 with a tome of dex). Though my experience is having 14 dex initially and then grabbing a +4 tome. (Though do note that +4 tome is competing with items like robe of eyes.)

I am not sure everyone allows enchanting named items, but in any case a fighter doesn't need it.

Small shield or buckler? If you are wielding a great weapon, a bow or you are two weapon fighting you take -1 to your attacks and you loose its ac bonus if you attack. Is there sth I am missing?

For some reason I forgot the ion stone.

Dodge bonuses I am not so sure about. Though you do have an abundance of feats up to 20th level I don't remember picking dodge, then again I did pick penentrating strike and improved penetrating strike so its certainly possible in a core only environment.

So as I see it its 43 AC. Still enough for cthulu's full attack to kill him, even if he has both toughness and hp bonus from favored class bonus. If he has dodge(AC 44) his chance of survival is slightly higher than 50%, though I don't take criticals (and cthulu has critical focus and improved critical on all his attacks) and possible fortification into account.
To reach 49 you need both shield and haste, which are low level but have low durations.
I still wouldn't claim that martial can comfortably hit AC 50, or if I did I would explicity mention buffs. But that's just me.
On another note buffs at high level REALLY tip the scale. Prepared parties vs unprepared parties at level 15+ have an extraordinary big difference in power.

Outside of core rulebook, celestial plate armor? The item from skeletons of scarwall? An item published 1 year before the core rule book came out? But yeah if you are using 3.5 items and buffs I am sure ac can go way beyond 50.
Jingata is a pretty standard item as I see it, but at high levels if you are using non core you might want sth different, like the cap of free thinker.
Also outside of core you probably won't be picking dodge.

All that goes away if I am wrong about the buckler. The only exception I know of is Thunderstrikers improved buckler defense (in pathfinder at least).

Ashiel wrote:


Yes. Absolutely unbuffed and naked. However, such monsters typically have buffs and/or the magic items (which PCs will later loot) that substantially improve upon their base. A pit fiend with a naked AC of 38 has an at-will self buff that brings it to 42. An amulet of natural armor +2 (something you would expect to find in a pit fiend's possession) brings it to AC 44. If the pit fiend bothers to drink a potion of mage armor, his AC becomes 48. Unless you encounter the pit fiend so naked that he can use his dongle for an unarmed stike, then you're probably going to see a much more respectable AC.
Dragons are like this. Virtually all outsiders are like this. In fact, most every high-CR enemy has massive ACs and/or special defenses once you include their game-given options. >_<
And it's not even "optimized" as you seem to think of it. It's just strait forward practicality. It's not shoveling a ton of their resources into being really good at a thing, it's just giving them the crap they have anyway. Do you think a pit fiend is just holding 134,000 gp worth of treasure between its butt cheeks while it fights the party?
Nope. He's likely wearing it (specifically about 50 lbs of it) in the form of crazy-cool magic items you'd expect to be adorning a lord of hell. He might be wearing that kickass amulet of mighty fists the druid's wanted, or wielding a massive battleaxe that the barbarian would drool for, or a +1 mithral buckler of fortification ripped from the corpse of the last adventurer who tried to mess with him (whose soul he keeps in a jar on his nightstand).
Again. Core-only. If your lord of hell is anything other than:
"Hey guys, this is my sweet dongle, isn't it big and pretty? Oh by the way, I have 164,000 gp worth of shwag hidden under the matress in my bedroom, consisting of various magical trinkets and/or mighty artifacts from ages since passed, however despite my plethora of weapon proficiencies and superhuman Intelligence, I decided to engage you in battle using my fell-dongle. Have at thee!"
Then this is the natural result of it not being stupid. :|
Meanwhile, this isn't a problem for PF heroes because they can hit those ACs (again, in CORE). Most of the martials in PF have MASSIVE to-hit routines at that level. Seriously, we're talking +20 from BAB, +5 from weapon, +4-14 or so from class features, +5 or so from staple buffs, +8-13 or so from ability scores, auto-critical confirmations, and god help you if they have a bard in the party (another +5 to everyone, yay!). That's a +42 attack on the low end, upwards to about +63 if you're really trying.
If you include non-core material, a courageous weapon alone kicks it up another +2, and class-material like instant enemy and furious weaponry allow you to more reliably get more out of your class features, and Paladins get in-house access to divine power which can carry them fine when they're fighting an enemy who isn't smite-bait.
Again, these aren't difficult things. These aren't even obscure things. These aren't things pulled from lots of different splat books, but instead just Core or Core + APG. >:(

Pitfiend is the only non dragon exception in the monster manual and the fact that his unholy aura is at will and not constant (like the balors) indicates a slight oversight. Tarn linorm and Balor have ac 36 and absolutely no way to increase it.

Aeon pleroma has no way of increasing it AC 36 (apart from creative uses of his 1/day wish).
Agathion Draconal has AC 36(40 vs evil), it can turn to an air elemental but then it ends up loosing its supernatural and extraordinary abilities. It can cast shield of faith in case his opponents aren't evil. Also you can pick different domains so maybe there is opportunity there.
Daemon Olethrodeamon has AC 38, and no way of increasing it. Has quickened wall of force as a good defense though.
Inevitable, Lhaksharut has AC 36 and no way of increasing it.
Nightshade Nightwave has AC 36 and with a quickened haste can raise it to AC 37
Qlippoth, Iathavos has AC 37 and no way to increase it, though a quickened heal and an autosickened effect help defensively.

The agathion and the aeon do you have cleric casting so you might be able to raise it further but not by much.

So no this monsters don't typically have buffs that substantially improve upon their base, at least ac wise.

Dragons as I too mentioned are typically like this IF you swap their spells.

It is optimized, you seem to think optimization only means shoveling a ton of resources into being good in one thing, it doesn't.

You argument about monsters using their treasure is irrelevant for a couple of reasons.
a) Their CR doesn't assume the use of magic items. So when you put magic items in monsters you do increase their power and thus their CR.
b) Monster that don't have treasure end up weaker and monsters that have double or triple(dragons) treasure even stronger.

I don't find the amulet of fists and a +1 mithral buckler of fortification especially cool, they just add to numbers after all.

The “it makes sense” argument is hollow. Ultimately monsters have treasure as a reward for the players and for no other real reason. If you really want to have things make sense then no creature of power would care about gold the only real tradable things would be magic items and the components you need for making them (and maybe some would care stuff that can be used as components).

The reason you like it, its because its a good solution to people optimizing. But its not a perfect solution (as I mentioned some monsters can do it better than others).

Regarding core. A 20th level greatsword fighter is +20 bab+12 str+2 weapon focus+ 5 enchantment+4 weapon training+1 competence from ion stone+ 1 insight=+45. If he uses power attack its +39. Now against an AC of say 38 he does stand a good chance of missing with his 3rd and 4th itirative attacks. But if the ac is 48 his dps faulters hitting with an average of 1,1 attacks. Now damage is 2d6+18str+5magic+2 specilization+ 4 weapon training+18power attack=54. Not very impressive. Of course buffs and his insane omg lol capstone with a falchion can change that, buts that capstone is an aberration.

Ashiel wrote:


1. I said Cthulu lacks interesting and/or really meaningful abilities that would change the way you fight him. He does. This makes him just another brute with big numbers.

You also said it really isn't amazing or interesting and there is nothing particularly shocking or noteworthy that it can do. I said that infinite resurrections and getting crazy if you use true seeing is particularly shocking and noteworthy.

And I do think that if a monster is evidently destroyed and returns to life with a timer (you don't know about) that says if it will resurrect again if you don't kill it soon, can make for an at least interesting encounter(since it does have greater teleport), or that an ability that punishes use of spells like true seeing might force people to change their play style.

Ashiel wrote:


2. I said that even as far as big numbers go, he's not even very impressive in that regard since a 20th level martial can both tank and spank him as long as he's not going to get wrecked by his save DCs in the 40s (a Paladin will utterly obliterate the poor sod). Which means that I see him as a failure on both fronts.

A 20th level character will both spank and tank him? Alone? Maybe if a whole party utterly supports him and they all optimize (like picking stuff from 3.5) or use tricks. I think paladin would have to avoid being staggered by his aura and unless he is really built to reach high will saves (why would a paladin focus on that?) being staggered might prove a problem. Sample paladin will save +12 base +5 charisma+ 5 saves+ 1 competence +1 luck+ 2 wisdom=+26. Note that you need to roll every round.

You would allow the I AM lance barbarian with items up to and including items from 3.5 adventure paths and then claim people shouldn't say some monsters are very powerful for their CR. (You also seem say that most MMI monsters can totally deal with pc's build this way at high levels.)
I say you should consider the possibility that not everyone enjoys the way you are playing and that's why he has different opinions on certain monsters.


Aelryinth wrote:

Haste is +1. A Jingasa is another +1. Heroism can grant another +2. Dex should be optimized to a 24 or so, for +7. If you can add on additional luck or insight bonuses, you climb higher, or acquire a natural Armor Class bonus by one means or another.

That's in addition to something like an Uber shield, which can add +7 to +12, and another +4 vs missiles if you're using 3.5 rules.

So the range is probably closer to a base 45 then 40, with a SHield on top of it.

===Aelryinth

Yeah 43-44 is relatively easily reachable.

Heroism doesn't add to ac.

How do you use the uber shield with a great weapon?

Sovereign Court

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John John wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

Haste is +1. A Jingasa is another +1. Heroism can grant another +2. Dex should be optimized to a 24 or so, for +7. If you can add on additional luck or insight bonuses, you climb higher, or acquire a natural Armor Class bonus by one means or another.

That's in addition to something like an Uber shield, which can add +7 to +12, and another +4 vs missiles if you're using 3.5 rules.

So the range is probably closer to a base 45 then 40, with a SHield on top of it.

===Aelryinth

Yeah 43-44 is relatively easily reachable.

Heroism doesn't add to ac.

How do you use the uber shield with a great weapon?

You don't - which is likely why Aelryinth calculated an AC and then mentioned the shield seperately. Personally - I have shields for nearly all of my characters sans monks. Heck - even my gnome sorceror has a mithril light shield. And now you can even TWF with heavy shields without additional penalties.

It does hurt DPR somewhat - but I like tanky characters.


Some more choices for pretty strong monsters.

Black Pudding CR 7 one attack with grapple and constrict is never good news, also this thing can split into two fully functional forms. Its unclear wether at 10 hp it remains immune to piercing and slashing, but if it does... you are facing around 8 of the damn things. Only weakness is its low attack midifier.

Cat leopard CR 2 pretty pouncy, graby and raky for cr 2

Cyclops CR 5 Just hope he uses the automatic roll 20 ability for a save he makes and not as a door for an *3 critical confirmation

Dark stalker CR 4 can turn dim light areas into supernatural darkness not pierced by dark vision, also good sneak attack damage. You need heightened daylight to reliably deal with these guys.

Darkmantle CR 1 blindsight 90 ft, can cast darkness, flies and can deal (if lucky) 13 damage in one round

Demon, Herzou CR 11 has blasphemy at caster level 13, also a solid monster on its own.

Demon, Glabrezu CR 13 true seeing with high perception and mirror image at will, has a strong full attack and power word stun 1/day. Also reverse gravity at will at a level where not everyone will be constantly flying.

Demon Nabasu CR 8 +23 perception, dc 21 mass hold person, enervation, vampiric touch. At will dc 19 telekinesis.

Demon Nafleshnee CR 14 true seeing and perception +31, constant unholy aura and a ok full attack. The real danger though is its aoe daze for 1d10 rounds as a free action 3/day. Thankfully its only dc 22.

Demon quasit CR 2 mentioned above

Demon Succubus CR 7 at will suggestion dc 21 and vampiric touch at caster level 12. 1/ day dominate person dc 23.

Dinosaur Tyrannosaurus CR 9 +32 grapple, +20 attack, 36 damage, grab, 20 ft reach, +37 perception, diehard, , improved critical, critical focus, bleeding critical, good saves.


John John wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

Haste is +1. A Jingasa is another +1. Heroism can grant another +2. Dex should be optimized to a 24 or so, for +7. If you can add on additional luck or insight bonuses, you climb higher, or acquire a natural Armor Class bonus by one means or another.

That's in addition to something like an Uber shield, which can add +7 to +12, and another +4 vs missiles if you're using 3.5 rules.

So the range is probably closer to a base 45 then 40, with a SHield on top of it.

===Aelryinth

Yeah 43-44 is relatively easily reachable.

Heroism doesn't add to ac.

How do you use the uber shield with a great weapon?

Animated Shield, though short duration? http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/magic-armor/magic-armor-and-shield-spec ial-abilities/animated


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Splitting this post into multiple sections.

On Monsters, Encounters, and The High Level Theater

John John wrote:
I mentioned the tome of dex, that's why I wrote 39 (maybe 41 with a tome of dex). Though my experience is having 14 dex initially and then grabbing a +4 tome. (Though do note that +4 tome is competing with items like robe of eyes.)

Manuals are the worst way to acquire inherent bonuses because you are paying for a full powered wish (and all of its phenomenal combat flexibility) for a very specific and limited benefit of wish. Which is why I said get the inherents from your casters (in a traditional melee/support/divine/arcane party, planar binding is all you need).

This Stupid Magic Item Doesn't Not Even Work!

Quote:
I am not sure everyone allows enchanting named items, but in any case a fighter doesn't need it.

I don't really care about someone's special house rules. The magic item rules clearly state that you can upgrade and add-to existing magic items. The "it's a specific item" argument has always been dumb as dirt ("B-but you c-can't enhance your mithral chain shirt!") and will always be dumb as dirt.

"Shields are for wussies!" - The guy nobody remembers

Quote:
Small shield or buckler? If you are wielding a great weapon, a bow or you are two weapon fighting you take -1 to your attacks and you loose its ac bonus if you attack. Is there sth I am missing?

You can doff your shield if you really need to, but you really shouldn't. Using a 2 hander isn't critical unless you're explicitly a 2 handed fighter or something because of all the static damage that's coming in due to class features, and not taking a -30% accuracy penalty from power attack at this level means hitting stuff with iterative attacks reliably (and when you're swinging at +25 damage per hit with your 1-hander and have at least 5 attacks per round, that's not a bad idea).

I mentioned bucklers and/or small shields because you can handle items and/or cast spells with them, making them really nice for Paladins, Rangers, and Bards. Light shields are probably the most practical for most martials since you can still shield bash with them (which is really nice for dual-wielding Rangers and such), but +6 AC and the option to tack on additional enhancements like fortification just too good to pass up. And if you happen to run into an enemy whose AC is so bad that even with the Power Attack penalty you are in auto-hit territory with a few of your iterative attacks you can doff your shield and go full-on offense for the extra +11 damage by 2-handing your weapon, but in a high level environment, it is rarely worth the loss of defense.

"Try dodging this!" - Juri Han

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Dodge bonuses I am not so sure about. Though you do have an abundance of feats up to 20th level I don't remember picking dodge, then again I did pick penentrating strike and improved penetrating strike so its certainly possible in a core only environment.

Dodge bonuses come from more than the Dodge feat, and they stack. In core there's the Dodge feat, Fighting Defensively, and the Total Defense actions which all add dodge bonuses to your AC, and there are class features such as the Barbarian's guarded stance which provides a +4 dodge bonus for what should be most of an encounter at this level as a move action. If you have at least 3 ranks in Acrobatics (why wouldn't you?), you increase the dodge bonus for Fighting Defensively by +1 and the Total Defense by +2 (+3 / +6 respectively). Races (such as dwarfs and gnomes) also have circumstantial dodge bonuses against specific creature types.

There is also the Shield Focus feats and Defending weapons if you really want to push AC like crazy. If your a druid it's all irrelevant though because you can just use wild armor + wild tower shield + wild shape + normal junk = massive super high AC.

Strangely, Paizo's Early Work Is Usually Higher in Quality

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Outside of core rulebook, celestial plate armor? The item from skeletons of scarwall? An item published 1 year before the core rule book came out? But yeah if you are using 3.5 items and buffs I am sure ac can go way beyond 50.

3.5 isn't some magical term that means overpowered. Most of the ways you got a great AC is 3.5 are the same was you do here, and the celestial plate is Paizo-published content that requires no conversion, is available on the D20PFSRD with citations, and exemplifies Paizo's insistence that "3.5 Thrives" Pathfinder mantra as all the APs and Moduels and stuff you buy from them didn't suddenly crumble to dust when you switched. It's a staple item on these boards.

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Jingata is a pretty standard item as I see it, but at high levels if you are using non core you might want sth different, like the cap of free thinker.

Also outside of core you probably won't be picking dodge.

Given that all but 3 characters in Core PF can craft their own magic shwag (and the other 3 can under specific circumstances) you're probably still going to have your free thinker but at 75% of the cost instead of 50%.

Smart Enemies are Smart, Balors are Badlors, and Water is Worrisome

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Pitfiend is the only non dragon exception in the monster manual and the fact that his unholy aura is at will and not constant (like the balors) indicates a slight oversight. Tarn linorm and Balor have ac 36 and absolutely no way to increase it.

Beyond their double and triple treasure values (they both are highly Intelligent and are going to be carrying magical loot to be collected by the PCs).

Answering your specific examples, the Tarn Linnorm isn't very good (again, kind of a putz compared to a pit fiend or real dragon) but it and thee Shoggoth have hidden defense benefits in the fact they're going to be fighting you in water (being aquatic) unless something funny is going on, because in such environments they have a massive home-field advantage (being exceptionally resistant to ranged attacks, as ranged weapons take a -2 penalty / 5 ft. distance in water) and can out-maneuver most melee combatants so comfortably that you won't be able to reliably full-attack them (both are highly mobile in the water and have excellent kiting routines). The linnorm has massive regeneration that's not very easy to stifle since you can't just pop it with a cold iron arrow (again, water) to shut if off, you actually need to get on the thing and wreck it manually, but it moves at an 80 ft. swim speed and has a 60 ft. breath weapon that deals Strength damage in addition to the 22d6 acid damage, and the option to deal some burst damage by breathing a pair of 22d6 cones but doubling the cooldown time from 1-4 rounds to 2-8 rounds. It like the Shoggoth also has a massive 30 ft. reach, constant freedom of movement and true seeing, and if your PCs are dumb and haven't warded against poison are going to be highly unamused if bitten.

The shoggoth is also immune to critical hits, flanking, poison, sleep effects, paralysis, polymorph, stunning, and sneak attacks/precision damage. It has DR 10/- and fast healing 10 in an environment where you're probably only going to get 1 attack on it at a time (as it tramples 100 ft. through your space or slaps you with its tentacles). Their natural habitat is also devoid of light and easily obscured vision, but its abilities make that a non-issue for it. As with the linnorm it has a 30 ft. reach underwater and the ability to zip around casually while taking pot-shots at its enemies or occasionally trampling them and then healing as it swims around in the murk.

Generally speaking, aquatic enemies are nasty, and not all enemies need a massive AC to be a nuisance or danger. But most certainly can.

Balors, as noted earlier in this thread (I think, was it a different one?) and Mariliths are really bad for their weight class anyway, but even a balor is probably going to reach at least AC 40 with a potion (but bad monsters are bad).

Dragon Gonna Give it To Ya
The Ancient Gold Dragon fits right next to the Pit Fiend in terms of defenses and AC. Again, like the pit fiend, hitting AC 50 is something that's probably just going to happen as part of natural play, and then you tack on its immunities, resistances (it has resist energy (30) at will), spells (it selects and casts as a 16th level sorcerer with additional access to cleric spells). With his own in-house buffs (before counting magic items if any) the dragon's going to get +12 AC (mage armor + shield + shield of faith) bringing the dragon to AC 61 (with soooo much room to go higher). The dragon can also cast divine power for +5 to hit and damage with all of its attacks and an extra attack as though it were hasted.

Solars (CR 23) are a similar lot, having 44 AC before buffing (48 vs evil stuff) and cast as 20th level clerics (which all by itself means AC 49 vs everything), and it's divine power adds +6/+6 to hit and damage and +1 atk/round, and it can also use righteous might, spell immunity, and can pirate spells with miracle. Solars also have a lot of options that don't affect their CR at all but can make them more diverse (preparing different spells for example) and don't need a +5 dancing sword (they have greater magic weapon to bring anything up to +5).

And all of this assumes solo-activities. A good encounter typically has multiple enemies which will result in teamwork. An ancient gold wyrm with an entourage of 6 planetars plus their summons/bound/allied minions is an adequate CR 20 epic encounter. This means the gold wyrm itself, the six planetar, their summons such as a few Lillend Azata providing Inspire Courage +2 to everyone, a few Ghaele Azatas, and so forth.

Revenge of the Dongle

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You argument about monsters using their treasure is irrelevant for a couple of reasons.

a) Their CR doesn't assume the use of magic items. So when you put magic items in monsters you do increase their power and thus their CR.

Factually false. A monster's statblock indicates what amount of treasure it gets and you need PC wealth to reach +1 CR according to the core rulebook (PCs themselves are supposed to be CR X-1 with +1 for PC wealth). What treasures they have are up to the GM to determine.

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b) Monster that don't have treasure end up weaker and monsters that have double or triple(dragons) treasure even stronger.

Sometimes. Most monsters without treasure have nasty things that they can do that offsets their need for treasures, or are balanced by the fact they're a little easier but also less rewarding to fight (since there is nothing to loot) such as most animals. They also tend to work very well grouped with other more intelligent creatures (again animals are a good example, but a lot of monsters spring to mind, including most oozes, a lot of undead, elementals, etc).

The Point, Now with Displacement and Mirror Image Built Right In!

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I don't find the amulet of fists and a +1 mithral buckler of fortification especially cool, they just add to numbers after all.

I never said the AoMF was cool. What's cool/funny is the pit fiend I posted beats you to death with his dongle, a parody of the backwards mindset that a lord of hell or any other major antagonist is going to engage you stark naked and it's a staple item for creatures (be they PC or NPC) that make a lot of unarmed attacks (such as natural attack routines). Also fortification is just nice (and actually does something besides increasing your numbers).

Economics of Awesome AKA "Why Demon Butt-Holes Are Not Bank Vaults"

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The “it makes sense” argument is hollow. Ultimately monsters have treasure as a reward for the players and for no other real reason. If you really want to have things make sense then no creature of power would care about gold the only real tradable things would be magic items and the components you need for making them (and maybe some would care stuff that can be used as components).

Which is why powerful outsiders like pit fiends trade in soul gems which contain a powerful minion that must follow your bidding if you decide to cash it in. Or they do in fact trade in magic items, which is why they're loaded in them. A demon has no use for 2,680 pounds worth of gold pieces (it can't even carry them around), but it does have use for a plethora of wondrous items (most of which weigh 1 lb. or less).

"Do you suspect your player of being an Optimizer? Does he have a magic sword!? If so, BEWARE!"

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The reason you like it, its because its a good solution to people optimizing. But its not a perfect solution (as I mentioned some monsters can do it better than others).

There's that word again. This is just how I know to run a good game. I'm not sure what your idea of "optimizing" here is, exactly. We seem to be meaning different things. On one hand you describe a game where all the NPCs are incredibly stupid, don't use their abilities, don't work as a team when appropriate, fight PCs in 1 vs 4 combat as a staple, bar players having balanced offensive/defensive characters (presumably in favor of +offense given your previous posting) and then you seem upset somehow when it turns out a mess.

Meanwhile, my examples aren't particularly optimized. I haven't by any means sought out the best-in-class options for players or monsters in my examples, have generally stuck to common items and/or buffs that everyone in the game has access to (most of which you can expect any party of appropriate WBL to have in triplicate), and have mostly kept it core beyond a few recommendations for non-core items (like the Advanced Player's Guide or Celestial Plate) if you weren't playing a core game. I have no issues with rocket tag, no issues with stupid enemies, no issues with creating exciting encounters.

I don't ever feel like I have to change anything to suit new or old players to the game and I surely do not have to say "Hey you, if you take Beast Totem, you can't take Superstition" or anything weird like that. My games and the games I play in are 15 point buy to boot. :O

Seems like user-error to me, sir.

"WHAT SORCERY IS THIS!?" - "Heroism, sir,"

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Regarding core. A 20th level greatsword fighter is +20 bab+12 str+2 weapon focus+ 5 enchantment+4 weapon training+1 competence from ion stone+ 1 insight=+45. If he uses power attack its +39. Now against an AC of say 38 he does stand a good chance of missing with his 3rd and 4th itirative attacks. But if the ac is 48 his dps faulters hitting with an average of 1,1 attacks. Now damage is 2d6+18str+5magic+2 specilization+ 4 weapon training+18power attack=54. Not very impressive. Of course buffs and his insane omg lol capstone with a falchion can change that, buts that capstone is an aberration.

Sir, your math is off. At least if you're not in a solo game. Staple buffs at this level include greater heroism, haste, and aid (+6 to hit), with spells like normal heroism being the sort you just wear around the house when dealing with trash enemies. That's +51. A summoned or bound lillend brings it to +53 (or +56 if you have your own bard). Also Power Attack is not required because as you have pointed out, against tanky-enemies it can actually lower your DPR (but it's good for de-tanked enemies or trash mobs and I'd recommend most martials have it).

Also, damage isn't that bad either. At +51/+51/+46/+41/+36, the Fighter's damage is looking something like this: 1d8 (weapon) + 10 (strength) + 5 (enhancement) + 4 (specialization) + 4 (training) = 95/95/95/70/45/30% or 116.1 DPR on a full attack not counting critical hits which you auto-confirm. Naturally this goes even higher with a Bard in the party, if flanking, under the effects of good hope (+2 damage) or using any sort of specialized weaponry (having a bane weapon that has been greater magic weapon'd is a pretty standard strategy which adds another +2 to hit and damage and an extra +2d6 damage per hit).

Mind you, the above is basically a dude with a 1 hander and not bothering to use power attack. You could push more damage if you're 2 handing or dual wielding if you're confident that the enemy isn't going to kill you without your shield (but shields are just damn good, though Sword & Board combines the best of TWF and defense so those are solid martials).

"IT'S WITCHCRAFT!" - "Actually it's slow, sir,"
Then there's the other side of the coin. The debuff. There are so many ways to debuff foes and their ACs, as well as attack foes in special ways, that teamwork results in big wins. One does not simply flesh to stone into Mordor, at least not without limited wish first. :O

"HIS AC IS IMPOSSIBLE!" - Bad Martial
Wizard's Familiar: *tosses a tanglefoot bag*
Druid's Animal Companion: *moves into flanking*
Bard: *singing to the tune of Eye of the Tiger* "Stop being a putz and kick some buttz, we gotta fight like we want to surviiiiive!"
"Wait, you mean his AC can go down while my attack goes up too!?" - Bad Martial

Cthulu is Still a Putz

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You also said it really isn't amazing or interesting and there is nothing particularly shocking or noteworthy that it can do. I said that infinite resurrections and getting crazy if you use true seeing is particularly shocking and noteworthy.

And I do think that if a monster is evidently destroyed and returns to life with a timer (you don't know about) that says if it will resurrect again if you don't kill it soon, can make for an at least interesting encounter(since it does have greater teleport), or that an ability that punishes use of spells like true seeing might force people to change their play style.

Not really. It's kind of expected at this level. Wizards and liches have been effectively immortal since 17th level or earlier. My complaint is none of those abilities really change how you fight him (one is make a save or have your party's cleric cast heal, which she was going to do anyway, the other is "Blarg, eat stinking cloud while I give you a few rounds to heal up and prepare to whip me even harder"). Neither require the party to change up their tactics at all, move around in funny ways, or changes the nature of the battle at all (a white dragon is an infinitely more interesting enemy to face).

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A 20th level character will both spank and tank him? Alone? Maybe if a whole party utterly supports him and they all optimize (like picking stuff from 3.5) or use tricks. I think paladin would have to avoid being staggered by his aura and unless he is really built to reach high will saves (why would a paladin focus on that?) being staggered might prove a problem. Sample paladin will save +12 base +5 charisma+ 5 saves+ 1 competence +1 luck+ 2 wisdom=+26. Note that you need to roll every round.

Firstly, the vast majority of 3.5 was trash (no really, the majority of it is filled with sucky traps, but everyone remembers the broken combos, most of which were spells, many of which were core) so tossing "3.5" into it doesn't really do your argument any justice.

And no, a Paladin at that level with a +5 Charisma is a horrible Paladin. More like +10. 12 base, +10 Cha, maybe +4-7 Wisdom, +5 resistance makes 1d20+31 (more chance to succeed than fail), then you add in his +4 vs fear (aura) for 35. Greater heroism means he cannot fail it without a natural 1. If the Paladin has access to the Advanced Player's guide he casts bestow grace and gets a +10 sacred bonus to his saves, even a debuff-bomb won't slow him down.

Said Paladin pierces Cthulu's DR, auto-confirms every critical hit, strikes with an additional +10 to hit, deals an extra +20 damage per hit (multiplied on crits). In a group, said Paladin provides this power to every member of the party. Said Paladin can whip the snot out of Cthulu in melee at 20th level. A 27th level Paladin would spank it ever harder and harder.

Playstyles, 3.5 Pathfinder, and Epic Dongles!

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You would allow the I AM lance barbarian with items up to and including items from 3.5 adventure paths and then claim people shouldn't say some monsters are very powerful for their CR. (You also seem say that most MMI monsters can totally deal with pc's build this way at high levels.)

I say you should consider the possibility that not everyone enjoys the way you are playing and that's why he has different opinions on certain monsters.

I would indeed allow AM BARBARIAN with certain 3.5 magic items published by Paizo in their early products that are OGL content without having to change my game from the way I'd run it for core characters, because a barbarian that can take a hit isn't going to ruin my campaign in the slightest. There's nothing wrong with AM BARBARIAN and at the same time nothing exceptionally special about AM BARBARIAN beyond being a good striker due to pounce (which isn't perfect but it saves the party some time).

You seem to be insisting that there's some sort of game balance issues but all the issues I'm seeing are self-inflicted. If you want to call that a playstyle thing, sure, go ahead. I can continue running adventures with encounters that are fun, NPCs that act like people, characters that all work well together, provide epic loot for my players to collect off their enemies, and you can keep danglin' the dongle in front of the players. As long as we're all having fun, we all win, right? And what isn't fun about the look on the Paladin's face when the pit fiend charges him waggling his dongle? :D


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Yeah, I'm kinda getting that "Ashiel for president" feeling again.


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Grimmy wrote:
Yeah, I'm kinda getting that "Ashiel for president" feeling again.

GRIMMY! *rage-hug-pounce*

How ya been? :D


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Seriously, the preferred play style when my group gets together is about as far to the opposite extreme of an Ashiel game as you can get. But it is so fascinating to think that maybe the problems we try to avoid by reigning things in, could also iron themselves out by pushing the system to it's limits.

I haven't seen it with my own eyes but it looks good on paper and seems like it would be a blast.


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Ashiel wrote:
Grimmy wrote:
Yeah, I'm kinda getting that "Ashiel for president" feeling again.

GRIMMY! *rage-hug-pounce*

How ya been? :D

I'm really good, I went and played 5e for a while and it scratched that rules-light itch that had been bugging me, so now when I play pathfinder I feel like "gimme the crunch!"

Sovereign Court

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Ashiel wrote:
...stuff

I pretty much agree with you - but it is also is the reason why I lean towards lower level campaigns. I'm too lazy. :P


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Grimmy wrote:

Seriously, the preferred play style when my group gets together is about as far to the opposite extreme of an Ashiel game as you can get. But it is so fascinating to think that maybe the problems we try to avoid by reigning things in, could also iron themselves out by pushing the system to it's limits.

I haven't seen it with my own eyes but it looks good on paper and seems like it would be a blast.

We have a lot of fun with it. :)

Some Musings:
Here's a few interesting things to consider...

1. Default Pathfinder is 15 PB. This is also the same PB used for NPCs using PC classes. Everyone's playing by the same rules.

2. PCs are supposed to be CR = level. Heroic characters are level-1 for CR. PC Wealth brings you up to CR = level. Everyone's playing by the same rules.

3. The staple magic items (enhancement bonuses, deflections, resistances, etc) are all available to both PCs and NPCs regardless of how much wealth is actually spread out because most are achieved by low-level buffs that last quite a while at high levels (greater magic weapon, magic vestment, barkskin, shield of faith, etc). This allows groups of NPCs (or PCs) to function adequately despite being under funded. Similarly, most of the best magic item effects are in a similar boat (a skilled party can replace most of their loot with low level pearls of power).

4. When PCs begin falling behind on ability scores and such relative to the monsters they face, you're also at the level when you can start getting wish spells via round-about methods like efreeti-binding. People call this cheese but...

5. Wish-milking was brought up during the PF alpha/beta playtests. I know, I was there. It was even responded to by devs who said if they found it to be a problem they'd make the efreeti have higher HD or somehow make it harder to do so. Instead we have bindable efreeti that have a very low caster level for wishes (making using them for really powerful wish effects like copying spells very underwhelming or just a bad idea, but you can get your inherent modifiers out of them). The NPCs in the Paizo Module Seven Swords of Sin do this very thing (it features a sorceress with a single planar bound efreeti minion and her stats are amusingly +3 higher in each stat that they should be without).

Funny that, yeah?

6. There's a lot of high level effects that are cheap at the level you're expected to have them. By 20th level, assuming no item creation at all (which the majority of classes can do easily) you're expected to have nearly 1 million gp worth of usable shwag (roughly 880,000 gp actually) and 1 million+ if you're thrifty and make your own junk. Out of those things, the most valuable sorts of magic items tend to be the ones that are suitable for survival (armors, shields, cloaks) and a few +2 weapons (bane, courageous, defending, etc), and items granting special abilities and/or on demand buffs (flight, haste, evasion) and resistances (to protect against chip damage). With crafters, you should have plenty of gold left over to enjoy some fun magic items like carpets of flying or portable houses or something.

7. The way encounters are built in PF, you are given an "XP Budget" that you divide between challenges (creatures, traps, and environments). The system itself encourages you to use groups of monsters instead of single monsters, and it even goes as far as to note that monsters have roles to play just as PCs do (for example, you have combat roles, spell roles, support roles, etc). Building an encounter that consists of a band of rival adventurers and an encounter that includes a troll, and an ogre magi, and an ogre cleric aren't much different. It's a beautiful system.

8. There are lots of buffs and debuffs that exist to be used. Why would you ever prepare greater heroism if you didn't need it in the first place? If all your to-hit rolls are in auto-hit % range and you save on a 2+ anyway, why would you ever bother getting a +4 to all your stuff? In the same fashion, why would you bother debuffing things like AC and saves if you're already hit-capped and they only save on a natural 20?

They have purpose.

9. Teamwork is good and fun. Work together. Success feels greatest when you overcome the impossible by working together, because even heroes need a little help now and then. ;)


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Grimmy wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Grimmy wrote:
Yeah, I'm kinda getting that "Ashiel for president" feeling again.

GRIMMY! *rage-hug-pounce*

How ya been? :D
I'm really good, I went and played 5e for a while and it scratched that rules-light itch that had been bugging me, so now when I play pathfinder I feel like "gimme the crunch!"

I will write a short adventure for you Grimmy! What sort of themes would you like to see? It'll let me kill two birds with one stone 'cause my brother wants me to write a tabletop AP (or run a Paizo one after cleaning errors) for him and his girlfriend. :D

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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As a side note on Solars, Ashiel:

Kindly note the default Solar gets his full plate +5.
And has a 20 Dex.
yes, that's right, he doesn't get his full Dex bonus.

If you simply change that to CELESTIAL Full plate +5, his AC goes up by 4 as he suddenly gets his full dex bonus. Seriously, why isn't he wearing a Mithral BP?

If it's Mithral Celestial Full Plate, he can apply for +5 inherents on himself and still get his full dex to AC bonus.

==Aelryinth


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Aelryinth wrote:

As a side note on Solars, Ashiel:

Kindly note the default Solar gets his full plate +5.
And has a 20 Dex.
yes, that's right, he doesn't get his full Dex bonus.

If you simply change that to CELESTIAL Full plate +5, his AC goes up by 4 as he suddenly gets his full dex bonus. Seriously, why isn't he wearing a Mithral BP?

If it's Mithral Celestial Full Plate, he can apply for +5 inherents on himself and still get his full dex to AC bonus.

==Aelryinth

Yeah I noticed. A lot of the choices made for NPCs are just brain-numbingly bad. The solar for example would get much better mileage out of a lighter armor. In a similar fashion, as nice as the ancient gold dragon is, it has antimagic field known but can't use it (it's bigger than the radius of the spell). EDIT: Though I gave the solar the benefit of the doubt and assumed maybe he was really worried about his flat-footed AC or something. :o

But equipment, spell selection, and feats are usually the easiest things to change on premade NPCs since they don't require adding or removing HD, levels, or doing anything that would change the creature's CR. It can be a lot of fun to include NPCs with even slightly different loadouts such as swapping the greatsword for a sword & shield or maybe even a greataxe or glaive, or giving them a lance and having them ride atop an advanced celestial charger or something. Whichever has the most coolness points. A particularly high level encounter (CR 24-ish) might put the Solar on the Ancient Gold Dragon.


For the gold dragon, what if the gold dragon casts multiple antimagic fields to cover other parts of its body? It would cost multiple castings, but then it could take care of the entire anti-magic field not sizing to your body thing.


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In the same vein and returning a bit more to the OT, orcs are really nasty for their CR. I like using them, but really any low-level NPC with diehard tends to be pretty durable and orcs hit really hard and have die-hard built in.

Their +4 Strength isn't to be underestimated either. A generic 1st level orc warrior (as the sample orc is) sits at 17 Str which hurts pretty good at low-levels, especially with a 2-hander. They have NPC gear (260 gp worth of equipment) as well, which means they can surprise you with things like tanglefoot bags or potions from their shamans.

One of the most harrowing fights a group of my low-level PCs ended up in was a brawl in the middle of a dining room with a group of orcs wielding reach weapons. To their horror the orcs started drinking potions of enlarge person. Thankfully enlarge person does bad things to your AC, and the party turned over some tables and/or ducked beneath them (in the case of a kobold PC) for cover and started wrecking them with ranged attacks (orcs can't make AoOs vs the party due to cover from tables and the PCs got an extra +4 to their AC from them).

They're pretty scary in an open field though. My last PC got murdered by an orc 'cause I wasn't thinking and decided to ride up and slap one with my sword, only to get a falchion crit to the chest. She got better though. The awkward part is explaining to the paladins escorting the party why you crawled out of your grave later. :P


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I know this is about monsters, but one that can be really nasty is foresight diviner wizards. They are really good at making sure they get initiative. Always act in the surprise round, +1/2 level to initiative, and get a d20 reroll each round where you know the result in advance.

Just adding 1 level of that to a lot of creatures can make them very nasty. Throw in some true strike and some buffing spells like shield or mage armor, the fight just became a lot tougher.

A group of diviners can do some really bad things, especially if they have a BBEW giving them wands and scrolls that are above their level.


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stormcrow27 wrote:
For the gold dragon, what if the gold dragon casts multiple antimagic fields to cover other parts of its body? It would cost multiple castings, but then it could take care of the entire anti-magic field not sizing to your body thing.

I dunno. AFAIK you don't cast AMF on a thing, it's just a 10 ft. radius thing centered on you. Admittedly it's kind of funny imagining a dragon smearing magic sunscreen all over his body bit by bit, huh? :P


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Charender wrote:

I know this is about monsters, but one that can be really nasty is foresight diviner wizards. They are really good at making sure they get initiative. Always act in the surprise round, +1/2 level to initiative, and get a d20 reroll each round where you know the result in advance.

Just adding 1 level of that to a lot of creatures can make them very nasty. Throw in some true strike and some buffing spells like shield or mage armor, the fight just became a lot tougher.

A group of diviners can do some really bad things, especially if they have a BBEW giving them wands and scrolls that are above their level.

This is very true. A level of diviner on most anything is a surefire way to make your rogues cry themselves to sleep at night.

Rogue sneaks up, is about to use the surprise round to...
OOPS, combat begins, Diviner rolls Initiative. Oops, beat rogue, acts and isn't flat-footed anymore.

Rogue: "...I HATE MY LIFE!!"


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Ashiel wrote:
Charender wrote:

I know this is about monsters, but one that can be really nasty is foresight diviner wizards. They are really good at making sure they get initiative. Always act in the surprise round, +1/2 level to initiative, and get a d20 reroll each round where you know the result in advance.

Just adding 1 level of that to a lot of creatures can make them very nasty. Throw in some true strike and some buffing spells like shield or mage armor, the fight just became a lot tougher.

A group of diviners can do some really bad things, especially if they have a BBEW giving them wands and scrolls that are above their level.

This is very true. A level of diviner on most anything is a surefire way to make your rogues cry themselves to sleep at night.

Rogue sneaks up, is about to use the surprise round to...
OOPS, combat begins, Diviner rolls Initiative. Oops, beat rogue, acts and isn't flat-footed anymore.

Rogue: "...I HATE MY LIFE!!"

And if you go with the Foresight subschool, you get to swap out two relatively useless abilities(for monsters at least) with something that is more directly beneficial.


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One monster that's pretty silly is the skeletal champion. Stringburka showed a long time ago that the Skeleton Champion its absolutely goofy as a template. The CR is equal to a skeleton of the same HD +1, which is a sick joke.

For example, take a Hezrou and make it a skeletal champion. It's now a "CR 6" with 10 HD, DR 5/bludgeoning, DR 10/good, and of course the following SLAs.

Quote:

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 13th)

At will—chaos hammer (DC 18), greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), unholy blight (DC 18)
3/day—gaseous form
1/day—blasphemy (DC 21), summon (level 4, 1 hezrou 35%)

Pretty horrendous "CR 6" enemy, huh?

Stringburka made an even scarier example using a young pit fiend. :P

Sovereign Court

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Grimmy wrote:

Seriously, the preferred play style when my group gets together is about as far to the opposite extreme of an Ashiel game as you can get. But it is so fascinating to think that maybe the problems we try to avoid by reigning things in, could also iron themselves out by pushing the system to it's limits.

I haven't seen it with my own eyes but it looks good on paper and seems like it would be a blast.

This has been my PFS experience actually.

I used to play in a campaign where the tendency was to slowly reduce player choices because of things that were "OP". It was all done with good intentions ("so that when you finally do get nice things, it'll be awesome", "it's just not realistic to find that much treasure", "that class doesn't fit in the setting"). But the end result was really stifling. And it felt like every time I'd found some way to make some "progress" the GM felt that was munchkining. But on the other hand we were usually fighting the same boring enemies. Add to that a lot of house rules with lots of loopholes in them, but don't you dare actually use them.

Then when I started playing PFS, I didn't have to deal with GMs arbitrarily deciding what I could or couldn't have. I had a lot more power to play with, but occasionally the challenges would also be much bigger. And I enjoy it a lot more; give me nice toys, then give me amazing enemies to fight!

I didn't really mind the difficulty of say, Silver Mount Collection. I felt the adventure was poorly plotted, with clues that beg to be misinterpreted. And I think the new robot monsters are poorly constructed rule-wise. But I enjoyed the brutality; we were ready for it, it was a hard fight, but we won.


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I know we've talked about swarms, but have we specifically talked about the hellwasp swarm?

- Immune to weapon damage.
- Fly speed of 40, so it can outrun most characters at its level (CR 8).
- Has resist fire 10, thus making the most common area damage available to characters at lower levels much weaker or useless, which is the normal way to handle swarms.
- Loads of hit points.
- A fairly nasty poison.
- Smart enough to make real tactical decisions.

A definite exception to the 'I feel comfortable throwing this at an APL 2 under the CR' thing.

Dark Archive

Hi,

Just going to throw in another vote for the imp - there's one in a particular PFS sanctioned AP, and there's something horrifying about none of the six members of an in-tier party being able to land a single hit.

Luckily, it fled - though I don't know if that was tactics or if the GM wanted to spare us further embarrassment.

Still, yikes.

(I'm kind of looking forward to my Wizard getting one as an improved familiar, though).


Artemis_Dreamer wrote:

Hi,

Just going to throw in another vote for the imp - there's one in a particular PFS sanctioned AP, and there's something horrifying about none of the six members of an in-tier party being able to land a single hit.

Luckily, it fled - though I don't know if that was tactics or if the GM wanted to spare us further embarrassment.

Still, yikes.

(I'm kind of looking forward to my Wizard getting one as an improved familiar, though).

I once had an imp sorcerer NPC whom the party accidentally released from being trapped under a bunch of rubble for a very, very long time (the imp got trapped during a cave-in at a dungeon and had no means of escaping on its own). The imp being so incredibly grateful for finally being released leaped out and said he would grant the party a boon for their much needed service.

However, the barbarian in the group ran up and attacked it, which made it good and mad, so it proceeded to fireball the low-ish level group, took out their shadowcaster and badly injured most everyone and they ended up grabbing the imp and beating the stuffing out of it.

Poor Shadowcaster was in the hallway. She hadn't even seen the imp but when he chucked it through the doorway (to hit the barbarian and his party) she got nuked. :P / :C


How would the gold dragon cast AMF multiple times? Wouldn't the first casting prevent further re-casting?


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thegreenteagamer wrote:
How would the gold dragon cast AMF multiple times? Wouldn't the first casting prevent further re-casting?

Well it doesn't work anyway. :P


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Ashiel wrote:


I will write a short adventure for you Grimmy! What sort of themes would you like to see? It'll let me kill two birds with one stone 'cause my brother wants me to write a tabletop AP (or run a Paizo one after cleaning errors) for him and his girlfriend. :D

Hmm, well I just started this game. It's supposed to be some urban investigation but it's converging on orcus cult activity in a big cemetery outside the city.

I have a little dungeon under a barrow mound already (cemetery was built over ancient burial site) but I could use some other set piece encounters for crypts and things, or city locations they hit during the investigation.

Come to think of it I could probably slot the first Alvena adventures right in.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Tacticslion wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:
David Neilson wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:
Only CR 5, and regen can't be turned off by any damage type. You gotta knock them down and coup de grace or suffocate them. :D
Doesn't work. Regeneration brings them back from CdG and suffocation too.
You may be right on coup de grace, but I believe suffocation is called out as working on regen.

"Attack forms that don’t deal hit point damage are not healed by regeneration. Regeneration also does not restore hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation. Regenerating creatures can regrow lost portions of their bodies and can reattach severed limbs or body parts if they are brought together within 1 hour of severing. Severed parts that are not reattached wither and die normally."

I was wrong about coup de grace working... it doesn't, as you have to inflict damage to use it. :D

Considering suffocation is actually mentioned in the description of Regeneration, I would assume it works... that being said, you aren't just holding these guys down and smothering them with pillows, they are "only" CR 5, can fly, and have 15 foot reach. It's pretty much ranged combat or nothing on these things.

Suffocation certainly works (and I'd allow it), but there's a relatively solid argument that it doesn't actually kill the creature in question, merely force it into unconsciousness until it recovers normally - which could be forced "indefinite" duration 'cause, say, you bury it in a rock, but still. This has not been FAQ'd to my knowledge.

I'd think it work considering that since suffocation is lumped in with the other 2 essential bodily functions (food and water) that the vast majority of organisms need to survive I think the point is that starving out the Regen creatures essential resources that supplies them with the materials to maintain cell grow kills them just as dead.

That being said I think that beat regen by literally strangling a troll or forcing it to starve to death sounds infinitely more cool and memorable than just lighting it on fire again.


I agree! It's just a bit vague. I'd certainly allow it, but I mention that, rules-wise, it's easy to read it two different ways.


Ashiel wrote:


Manuals are the worst way to acquire inherent bonuses because you are paying for a full powered wish (and all of its phenomenal combat flexibility) for a very specific and limited benefit of wish. Which is why I said get the inherents from your casters (in a traditional melee/support/divine/arcane party, planar binding is all you need).

Planar binding? For binding efreets and gaining their wishes?

I don't feel I need to argue that binding efreets (if that's what you are talking about) and gaining access to free wishes breaks the game and that is actually not a common practice.
I mean it isn't the same as in 3.5 where you got unlimited items, but it still a big difference.

Ashiel wrote:


I don't really care about someone's special house rules. The magic item rules clearly state that you can upgrade and add-to existing magic items. The "it's a specific item" argument has always been dumb as dirt ("B-but you c-can't enhance your mithral chain shirt!") and will always be dumb as dirt.

You can certainly enhance mithral chain shirt since its an item that can be normally created by the rules in the book. You have a chain shirt made from mithral and you enchant it.

The same cannot be said for most of the other named items. They cannot be directly created by the rules in the book.
Similarly its utterly broken to start crafting custom items that grant insight, competence and luck bonuses to attacks, ac and saves.

Ashiel wrote:


You can doff your shield if you really need to, but you really shouldn't. Using a 2 hander isn't critical unless you're explicitly a 2 handed fighter or something because of all the static damage that's coming in due to class features, and not taking a -30% accuracy penalty from power attack at this level means hitting stuff with iterative attacks reliably (and when you're swinging at +25 damage per hit with your 1-hander and have at least 5 attacks per round, that's not a bad idea).
I mentioned bucklers and/or small shields because you can handle items and/or cast spells with them, making them really nice for Paladins, Rangers, and Bards. Light shields are probably the most practical for most martials since you can still shield bash with them (which is really nice for dual-wielding Rangers and such), but +6 AC and the option to tack on additional enhancements like fortification just too good to pass up. And if you happen to run into an enemy whose AC is so bad that even with the Power Attack penalty you are in auto-hit territory with a few of your iterative attacks you can doff your shield and go full-on offense for the extra +11 damage by 2-handing your weapon, but in a high level environment, it is rarely worth the loss of defense.

I was talking about a great weapon fighter in my initial post, but whatever.

In any case so basic damage is around 1d8+12+4 specialization+4 weapon training+5 enchantment=1d8+25. So with a +45 attack bonus you hit ac 49 around 1,9 times. That's around 55 damage. With haste its 3 times for 89 damage. With heroism it becomes 3,7 times for 110 damage, which a third of the monsters hp, not bad considering possible crits.
Note you absolutely need to be buffed with both haste and heroism to contribute meanigfully in combat vs a creature of your cr and monsters with bludgeoning or piercing dr will hit your dps hard.
Again fighters capstone does change all that, but not before level 20.

Personally I prefer games where players don't always know when to expect combats and thus aren't always buffed 100%. Divination can help but in the crazy world of dnd it many times doesn't.

Ashiel wrote:


In core there's the Dodge feat, Fighting Defensively, and the Total Defense actions.

General claims of that's the ac at X level don't usually account for fighting defensively and total defense. Unless you are talking about sth like a crane wing monk.

Ashiel wrote:


3.5 isn't some magical term that means overpowered. Most of the ways you got a great AC is 3.5 are the same was you do here, and the celestial plate is Paizo-published content that requires no conversion, is available on the D20PFSRD with citations, and exemplifies Paizo's insistence that "3.5 Thrives" Pathfinder mantra as all the APs and Moduels and stuff you buy from them didn't suddenly crumble to dust when you switched. It's a staple item on these boards.

3.5 might not be a magical term that means overpowered but 3.5 +pathfinder CAN get very very overpowered. Its pretty clear pathfinder didn't even attempt to take into account all the rules published in 3.5.

I don't care if its a staple item on these boards.

Ashiel wrote:


Given that all but 3 characters in Core PF can craft their own magic shwag (and the other 3 can under specific circumstances) you're probably still going to have your free thinker but at 75% of the cost instead of 50%.

Crafting is another thingy that is can get very unbalanced, especially combined with being able to create double items in a slot even for the increased price. Theoretically with the right party you can end up with double your wealth by level in items. Ultimate campaign puts a very light dent on it, of 50% your wealth by level.

Please don't claim that I am saying a belt of physical perfection shouldn't be allowed, I am not.

Ashiel wrote:


Beyond their double and triple treasure values (they both are highly Intelligent and are going to be carrying magical loot to be collected by the PCs).

Again, giving magic items to monsters essentially increases their power and thus their CR. I admit though it can be a tool to keep the challenge leveled on optimized pc's, if used correctly.

Ashiel wrote:


Answering your specific examples, the Tarn Linnorm isn't very good (again, kind of a putz compared to a pit fiend or real dragon) but it and thee Shoggoth have hidden defense benefits in the fact they're going to be fighting you in water (being aquatic) unless something funny is going on, because in such environments they have a massive home-field advantage (being exceptionally resistant to ranged attacks, as ranged weapons take a -2 penalty / 5 ft. distance in water) and can out-maneuver most melee combatants so comfortably that you won't be able to reliably full-attack them (both are highly mobile in the water and have excellent kiting routines).

I didn't respond to what these monster can do because we were talking about ac.

You will not necessarily face an aquatic monster fully immersed in water, an encounter adjacent to a lake or in a swamp is very possible. Even so freedom of movement mostly cancels that advantage (except the ranged one I guess).

Again you haven't proven your statement about consistent or even possible high ac in these monsters.

The part about the dragons and stuff is also unrelated. Do note that the dragon does have a weakness, and that its low caster level, 15 for a cr 20. Still its not typical for a dragon to have well chosen spells. In any case that is the reason I made special mention to his spell list in my first tough monsters for their cr post.

Also the rest of Bestiary II monsters continue to prove my point.

Ashiel wrote:


Factually false. A monster's statblock indicates what amount of treasure it gets and you need PC wealth to reach +1 CR according to the core rulebook (PCs themselves are supposed to be CR X-1 with +1 for PC wealth). What treasures they have are up to the GM to determine.

Challenge rating is a measure of the monster's power, when you give it magic items you increase its power.

But yes from a rules lawering point of view you are right.

Ashiel wrote:


Sometimes. Most monsters without treasure have nasty things that they can do that offsets their need for treasures, or are balanced by the fact they're a little easier but also less rewarding to fight (since there is nothing to loot) such as most animals. They also tend to work very well grouped with other more intelligent creatures (again animals are a good example, but a lot of monsters spring to mind, including most oozes, a lot of undead, elementals, etc).

Though its true that most of the unintelligent monsters have less treasure I think this has more to do we the fact that fluff wise they don't value it. I wouldn't call them weaker though, just less flexible.

I do agree that is an excellent way to use such monsters, but that still doesn't change the fact they become even weaker in comparison to richer monsters of the same CR.

Ashiel wrote:


I never said the AoMF was cool.

“Nope. He's likely wearing it (specifically about 50 lbs of it) in the form of crazy-cool magic items you'd expect to be adorning a lord of hell. He might be wearing that kickass amulet of mighty fists the druid's wanted, or wielding a massive battleaxe that the barbarian would drool for, or a +1 mithral buckler of fortification …”

For the record I didn't comment on axe because I actually thought it was cool. Then again demonic entities wielding axes are always cool.

Ashiel wrote:


Which is why powerful outsiders like pit fiends trade in soul gems which contain a powerful minion that must follow your bidding if you decide to cash it in. Or they do in fact trade in magic items, which is why they're loaded in them. A demon has no use for 2,680 pounds worth of gold pieces (it can't even carry them around), but it does have use for a plethora of wondrous items (most of which weigh 1 lb. or less).

Yet you have not addressed my basic argument. That the in a WORLD where gold and important art objects are traded for the stuff-the-most-powerful-creatures-in-the-world-want in big cities why would you insist so much that it makes sense that monsters who have treasure have it in the form of magic items?

Also a demon could easily have soul gems that have inside fallen souls which suffer and demons value them because they find that enjoyable. But that still has nothing to do with my main argument.

Ashiel wrote:


There's that word again. This is just how I know to run a good game. I'm not sure what your idea of "optimizing" here is, exactly. We seem to be meaning different things. On one hand you describe a game where all the NPCs are incredibly stupid, don't use their abilities, don't work as a team when appropriate, fight PCs in 1 vs 4 combat as a staple, bar players having balanced offensive/defensive characters (presumably in favor of +offense given your previous posting) and then you seem upset somehow when it turns out a mess.

Tell me where I say that the NPC's should be incredibly stupid, shouldn't use their abilities, shouldn't work as a team, should fight pc's in 1 vs 4 combat as a staple and that we should bar players from having balanced offensive/defensive characters.

Are you making these things up?

What I have said that if you optimize you force your dm to use higher CR opponents. This turns into a rocket tag game for the very reason that optimization isn't as always balanced offensively and defensively. Maybe in your games you manage the players choices and you work with every monster and encounter to the point the gameplay flows well.
But you can run an equally good game by having players that don't especially optimize, using monsters as they are from the book and creating tactically interesting battles. As a plus you also won't need to do all the work of creating dong fiends.
I understand that you might find such “work” to be fun and you are probably good at it, but not everyone likes doing it.

Ashiel wrote:


Sir, your math is off. At least if you're not in a solo game. Staple buffs at this level include greater heroism, haste, and aid (+6 to hit), with spells like normal heroism being the sort you just wear around the house when dealing with trash enemies. That's +51. A summoned or bound lillend brings it to +53 (or +56 if you have your own bard). Also Power Attack is not required because as you have pointed out, against tanky-enemies it can actually lower your DPR (but it's good for de-tanked enemies or trash mobs and I'd recommend most martials have it).
Also, damage isn't that bad either. At +51/+51/+46/+41/+36, the Fighter's damage is looking something like this: 1d8 (weapon) + 10 (strength) + 5 (enhancement) + 4 (specialization) + 4 (training) = 95/95/95/70/45/30% or 116.1 DPR on a full attack not counting critical hits which you auto-confirm. Naturally this goes even higher with a Bard in the party, if flanking, under the effects of good hope (+2 damage) or using any sort of specialized weaponry (having a bane weapon that has been greater magic weapon'd is a pretty standard strategy which adds another +2 to hit and damage and an extra +2d6 damage per hit).
Mind you, the above is basically a dude with a 1 hander and not bothering to use power attack. You could push more damage if you're 2 handing or dual wielding if you're confident that the enemy isn't going to kill you without your shield (but shields are just damn good, though Sword & Board combines the best of TWF and defense so those are solid martials).

Aid doesn't stack with heroism.

I did say “Of course buffs and his insane omg lol capstone with a falchion can change that, buts that capstone is an aberration. "
Do note that you won't always have control of the battle. Dispel magic is a thing, so is not knowing when you are going to face combat, or thinking you will face combat but ending up wasting your spells.

I think a good campaign in high levels should have time limits, changes in encounter pacing and the possibility of not predicting you will have an encounter in the next 20 minutes.
I haven't played at 20 level but I have been in 3 different campaigns that reached levels 15, 16 and 17 respectively. Things can get so crazy in the dnd world that its really hard to predict or sometimes even understand what you are dealing with.

Ashiel wrote:


Not really. It's kind of expected at this level. Wizards and liches have been effectively immortal since 17th level or earlier.

What do you mean by effectively immortal?

Ashiel wrote:


My complaint is none of those abilities really change how you fight him (one is make a save or have your party's cleric cast heal, which she was going to do anyway, the other is "Blarg, eat stinking cloud while I give you a few rounds to heal up and prepare to whip me even harder"). Neither require the party to change up their tactics at all, move around in funny ways, or changes the nature of the battle at all (a white dragon is an infinitely more interesting enemy to face).

Maybe that's your complaint, but its not just what you said. You also said it really isn't amazing or interesting and there is nothing particularly shocking or noteworthy that it can do. I said that infinite resurrections and getting crazy if you use true seeing is particularly shocking and noteworthy.

Again its arguable if these abilities will introduce tactical complexity. Its really hard to argue though since we are talking about an extremely high CR monster (maybe alone) facing a group of whatever-number-level-and-class pc's under who-knows-what circumstances, in a who-knows-what place.

In you example the cleric might be in the 40 feet reach of the monster, in fact he might not know that the monster will throw a 45 DC stinking cloud and focus on being close to his team to cast buffs and what not. Also how will the players know to prepare and for what? Again cthulu just needs to bail with greater teleport and return after the timer resets. To add to that he might keep the use of his mythic wish for the first round of his return.

Ashiel wrote:


Firstly, the vast majority of 3.5 was trash (no really, the majority of it is filled with sucky traps, but everyone remembers the broken combos, most of which were spells, many of which were core) so tossing "3.5" into it doesn't really do your argument any justice.
And no, a Paladin at that level with a +5 Charisma is a horrible Paladin. More like +10. 12 base, +10 Cha, maybe +4-7 Wisdom, +5 resistance makes 1d20+31 (more chance to succeed than fail), then you add in his +4 vs fear (aura) for 35. Greater heroism means he cannot fail it without a natural 1. If the Paladin has access to the Advanced Player's guide he casts bestow grace and gets a +10 sacred bonus to his saves, even a debuff-bomb won't slow him down.
Said Paladin pierces Cthulu's DR, auto-confirms every critical hit, strikes with an additional +10 to hit, deals an extra +20 damage per hit (multiplied on crits). In a group, said Paladin provides this power to every member of the party. Said Paladin can whip the snot out of Cthulu in melee at 20th level. A 27th level Paladin would spank it ever harder and harder.

Are you saying 3.5 isn't full with especially good options one could use in pathfinder? What does the majority of it being “trash” as you say, do with anything? Also pathfinder is better in that regard but still suffers from some options being really good and some really bad.

So you do mean in a party. Do your stats include inherent bonuses from planar binding?

Ashiel wrote:


I would indeed allow AM BARBARIAN with certain 3.5 magic items published by Paizo in their early products that are OGL content without having to change my game from the way I'd run it for core characters, because a barbarian that can take a hit isn't going to ruin my campaign in the slightest. There's nothing wrong with AM BARBARIAN and at the same time nothing exceptionally special about AM BARBARIAN beyond being a good striker due to pounce (which isn't perfect but it saves the party some time).

Why can't the normal barbarian take a hit? Its sounds like you have to optimize to have a fun game.

Ashiel wrote:


You seem to be insisting that there's some sort of game balance issues but all the issues I'm seeing are self-inflicted. If you want to call that a playstyle thing, sure, go ahead. I can continue running adventures with encounters that are fun, NPCs that act like people, characters that all work well together, provide epic loot for my players to collect off their enemies, and you can keep danglin' the dongle in front of the players. As long as we're all having fun, we all win, right? And what isn't fun about the look on the Paladin's face when the pit fiend charges him waggling his dongle? :D

I see you think I said that the monsters in MMI are too powerful for their CR and that makes them unfun (even though I actually never said that).

You can run a great and interesting game in which players do much less optimizing than you do (no 3.5, am barbarians, crafting etc) and the dm simply uses the monsters as printed by paizo. The opponents will make intelligent choices and if they have spells like mage armor they will cast them, if they have allies they will help them, if the have information they will use it (hopefully the same goes for the players). Maybe the dm should avoid using some monsters when they still are CR+2 above from the players level, but there really isn't much else he should do than focus on the story, making npc's cool and creating encounters who have the possibility of being interesting (I don't like actually imagining how the game will go since I feel I impose too much on player agency, then again sometimes I am fascinated by a neat idea and do that very thing).

I now honestly believe you, you probably run a good game the way you like it.
But that said, comments like this
“I might just be an elitist jerk, but it seems to me like the majority of this thread is "Monsters that have odd attacks, resistances, or otherwise require you to change from the 'I whack it with my sword/spell' default" or "I need to actually defend myself against attacks, this monster is unfair".
It's kind of sad really."
seem a bit funny when you are allowing stuff like celestial plate, am barbarians, planar binding, item crafting, named item enchanting and double items in slots. Of course a vanilla monsters won't be a problem if you play this way. But its not that people don't have the tactical acumen you describe, its that they don't optimize as much as you do.


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The CR6 Seugathi. My GM recently put 2 of them in a small room, started dropping mind fog. All PCs have to make 4 DC somewhere around 20 in mind fog imposing -10 to willsave just to not be mind controlled since they have a 30ft confusion DC20 aura and can control the actions of a confused creature as a free action. And since that activates every turn, you fail a mind fog save and you're a slave to them, especially if there's more than 1 seugathi aura active meaning that you'd most likely have to roll 2 Nat 20s in a row at that level to escape the effect.

That session essentially deteriorated into the GM playing with himself while asking us to roll the dice for our PCs hitting themselves or another PC. Did I mention that most of the PCs in that session were 11th level?

Liberty's Edge

I think Cloakers can really mess with a party not prepared for their shenanigans. I was in a group that ran into one around level 2, my Magus was (unfortunately) the only one who made the Save against its Moan ability (fear was used).

Probably the only time I've ever wished that I had failed the save.

The thing then "cloaked me" and by the time the party came back I was almost dead.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
It's actually ** spoiler omitted **

I know this is a kinda late response, but I think I have never seen a dm fudging so hard, so he wont kill us all. I also remember that damn thing draged my scout/ranger swift hunter in the underwater lake.


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I'm sorry, I know I'm not part of this discussion, but I feel compelled to comment.

John John wrote:
I don't feel I need to argue that binding efreets (if that's what you are talking about) and gaining access to free wishes breaks the game and that is actually not a common practice.

Using planar binding to bind efreets and getting wishes is not gamebreaking, it's the entire point of the creature. There is nothing wrong with wish, nor is there anything wrong with getting multiple castings of wish through proper use of your ressources. If the players start using the super-powered world-warping wishes, and the GM just rolls over and does not use this to benefit his story, said GM is either bad or lazy.

John John wrote:

The same cannot be said for most of the other named items. They cannot be directly created by the rules in the book.

Similarly its utterly broken to start crafting custom items that grant insight, competence and luck bonuses to attacks, ac and saves.

tosh

John John wrote:
General claims of that's the ac at X level don't usually account for fighting defensively and total defense. Unless you are talking about sth like a crane wing monk.

A character who never fights defensively, or uses the total defense action, is a character who does not fully understand/explore the options given to him, and should not be surprised when flattened by more competent entities in the world.

John John wrote:
I don't care if its a staple item on these boards.

You should, since you're having a conversation on this board.

John John wrote:
Again, giving magic items to monsters essentially increases their power and thus their CR.

Wrong. Monsters have treasure written into their statblocks. Some have predetermined items, others do not, but monsters are not pinatas that rupture with gold and items upon defeat. Running diablo-monsters is not using the monsters to their CR potential.

John John wrote:
Again you haven't proven your statement about consistent or even possible high ac in these monsters.

Yeah, she kinda has.

John John wrote:
Challenge rating is a measure of the monster's power, when you give it magic items you increase its power.

When you give it magic items that go beyond the treasure value it is written with the presumption of already having access to, then yes.

John John wrote:

Tell me where I say that the NPC's should be incredibly stupid, shouldn't use their abilities, shouldn't work as a team, should fight pc's in 1 vs 4 combat as a staple and that we should bar players from having balanced offensive/defensive characters.

Are you making these things up?

From an outsiders perspective on your conversation it is kinda inferred by your insistence that the monsters should just have their treasure piled in the corner, instead of using it. Also I don't think Ashiel is accusing you of everything written in that sentence, rather making a statement about the general level of competence displayed by adversaries. Alot of GMs either don't understand the potential of the system or mollycoddle the sh*t out of their players, fudging rolls, having dragons engage the barbarian in melee, not using the treasure a creature has access to, etc etc etc.

John John wrote:
Why can't the normal barbarian take a hit? Its sounds like you have to optimize to have a fun game.

Fun is subjective. Also I'm not sure you and Ashiel use the word 'optimize' to describe the same thing.

John John wrote:
... a bit funny when you are allowing stuff like celestial plate, am barbarians, planar binding, item crafting, named item enchanting and double items in slots

I cannot fathom why any GM would not allow these things.

I'm not looking to start stuff, and I don't wanna speak for Ashiel, so don't assume that is what I'm doing. I just felt I had to comment, in spite of it not being the topic of the thread.

-Nearyn


Silent Saturn wrote:

If we're talking about things that are unfun for their CR, I'd like to add the Quasit.

Quasits aren't terribly dangerous. Their melee attacks do 1d3-1 and 1d4-1 respectively, and as listed they don't have a ranged attack. They do have a 1/day Cause Fear, but not much else. I would argue that that's part of the problem.

The problem is the sheer amount of defensive abilities they have. DR/5, immunity to some energy types and resistance to several others, a fly speed, invisibility at will, AND fast healing?

And this is all at CR 2. The fighter doesn't have a magic weapon yet, so he's taking a -5 to damage rolls without Weapon Specialization. The wizard doesn't know Glitterdust yet, so at-will invisibility is a serious problem. The ranger probably doesn't have Precise Shot yet, so the quasit being IN another player's square mean he's at a -8 to hit a Tiny creature with good Dex. The rogue can't effectively flank it, since it'll be sharing a square with a PC (seriously, how does that work?)

And even if the party finds a good strategy, fast healing and a fly speed mean that the quasit can just go invisible as an SLA, retreat to the rafters for a few rounds, and heal up while the party either burns resources healing or scrambles for another tactic. This, combined with the pathetic damage that the quasit itself deals, means that fights against a quasit are likely going to turn into twenty or thirty rounds of the PCs and the GM staring at each other, neither one able to actually DO anything of consequence.

Ironically, fighting multiple quasits would probably be easier, since that would push the CR of the encounter up to the point where the PCs would be level 3 and actually have the tools to get around the quasits' smorgasbord of defenses.

Grapple the little bastards. They are much easier to manage after that.


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What Nearyn said.

Point for point.
Efreeti Binding and Wishes

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Planar binding? For binding efreets and gaining their wishes?

I don't feel I need to argue that binding efreets (if that's what you are talking about) and gaining access to free wishes breaks the game and that is actually not a common practice.
I mean it isn't the same as in 3.5 where you got unlimited items, but it still a big difference.

As Nearyn pointed out, this is what efreeti are for. The potential "abuse" was pointed out during the development of PF. The devs said they would look into it. What we get is an efreeti with a very low CL for wish and a much nerfed wish spell. There are also instances of Paizo published adventures where efreeti are used for exactly this purpose.

And no, it's not unbalanced and it's not gamebreaking.

Adding To Existing Magical Items

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You can certainly enhance mithral chain shirt since its an item that can be normally created by the rules in the book. You have a chain shirt made from mithral and you enchant it.

The same cannot be said for most of the other named items. They cannot be directly created by the rules in the book.
Similarly its utterly broken to start crafting custom items that grant insight, competence and luck bonuses to attacks, ac and saves.

Sorry, you're just wrong.

Core Rulebook wrote:

Sometimes, lack of funds or time make it impossible for a magic item crafter to create the desired item from scratch. Fortunately, it is possible to enhance or build upon an existing magic item. Only time, gold, and the various prerequisites required of the new ability to be added to the magic item restrict the type of additional powers one can place.

The cost to add additional abilities to an item is the same as if the item was not magical, less the value of the original item. Thus, a +1 longsword can be made into a +2 vorpal longsword, with the cost to create it being equal to that of a +2 vorpal sword minus the cost of a +1 longsword.

If the item is one that occupies a specific place on a character's body, the cost of adding any additional ability to that item increases by 50%. For example, if a character adds the power to confer invisibility to her ring of protection +2, the cost of adding this ability is the same as for creating a ring of invisibility multiplied by 1.5.

Here the rules explicitly demonstrate the process using a specific magic item, the ring of invisibility and a ring of protection +2.

Combat and Buffs

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Personally I prefer games where players don't always know when to expect combats and thus aren't always buffed 100%. Divination can help but in the crazy world of dnd it many times doesn't.

I never said that you were, but against a top-tier monster, you are a fool if you do not devote some effort into buffing. Further, at high levels your buffs are either rapidly appliable or have very long durations (mind blank lasts 24 hours, death ward lasts 20 minutes, freedom of movement lasts 3.33 hours, greater magic weapon and magic vestment last 20 hours, heroism lasts 3.33 hours, and even minute/level buffs last 20-ish minutes, which means that the number of rounds you need to apply specific buffs are few (since your general buffs are fire and forget). In a similar fashion, NPCs will generally need to buff (the ancient dragon can keep mage armor up without issues but shield is a "Those meddlesome fools will be here within the next twenty minutes or so," territory).

It works both ways.

Fighting Defensively and Stuff

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General claims of that's the ac at X level don't usually account for fighting defensively and total defense.

I didn't say they did. In fact, I noted that I hadn't counted them in the AC of the creatures but noted that with dodge bonuses the AC will shoot even higher. And it will.

3.5 Pathfinder Stuff

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3.5 might not be a magical term that means overpowered but 3.5 +pathfinder CAN get very very overpowered. Its pretty clear pathfinder didn't even attempt to take into account all the rules published in 3.5.

I don't care if its a staple item on these boards.

But Paizo did take into account a lot of the rules published by itself. My only concern with your argument is that A) Repeating "3.5" over and over doesn't make something OP, and B) "For non-Core campaigns allowing Paizo Publishing Pathfinder Material, this item is pretty nifty" isn't really pushing anything, it's not even enough to get an eyelash batted most of the time.

Crafting, The Evil

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Crafting is another thingy that is can get very unbalanced, especially combined with being able to create double items in a slot even for the increased price. Theoretically with the right party you can end up with double your wealth by level in items. Ultimate campaign puts a very light dent on it, of 50% your wealth by level.

Please don't claim that I am saying a belt of physical perfection shouldn't be allowed, I am not.

Except that you kind of are. It's the same thing. And I don't have a problem with Crafting. You're saying it's unbalanced, but you keep saying a lot of stuff is unbalanced. A lot of stuff that isn't. Again, I think you are creating the problems that you are perceiving. And no, you're not going to get OP characters by combining things like a lesser cloak of displacement and a cloak of resistance, and to argue against taking a +3 armor (celestial armor) and increasing the enhancement to +5 (something explicitly called out as a thing you can do) is just silly.

Monster Statblocks and CR

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Again, giving magic items to monsters essentially increases their power and thus their CR. I admit though it can be a tool to keep the challenge leveled on optimized pc's, if used correctly.

Factually false. The treasure values are part of the monster and the rules explicitly say that you need PC WBL to add +1 CR to it from gear.

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I didn't respond to what these monster can do because we were talking about ac.

You will not necessarily face an aquatic monster fully immersed in water, an encounter adjacent to a lake or in a swamp is very possible. Even so freedom of movement mostly cancels that advantage (except the ranged one I guess).

Again you haven't proven your statement about consistent or even possible high ac in these monsters.

The part about the dragons and stuff is also unrelated. Do note that the dragon does have a weakness, and that its low caster level, 15 for a cr 20. Still its not typical for a dragon to have well chosen spells. In any case that is the reason I made special mention to his spell list in my first tough monsters for their cr post.

Not all monsters of the same CR have the same general ACs. This has never been true. If all the monster statistics looked the same and had the same strengths and weaknesses the game would be utterly boring. There is a lot of variation based on individual creatures and what they excel at themselves.

For example, let's take a break from the CR 20 demigods and look at...Tigers. A CR 4 creature with 14 AC. It's AC is pretty awful for its CR. In fact, it's worse than quite a few CR 1 and 2 creatures. But that's okay, because it has a lot of abilities and different focus than that. AC is just not it's thing. It's not the linnorn or shoggoth's either, they have their own stuff.

PS: Freedom of movement allows you to move normally and/or not have issues with making melee attack rolls. It doesn't grant you a swim speed though or deal with any environmental snafus like cloudy water.

Rules Lawyers, Noun, Definition: People that Know the Rules

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Challenge rating is a measure of the monster's power, when you give it magic items you increase its power.

But yes from a rules lawering point of view you are right.

Power within its predetermined limits. It is like trying to argue that 1.2 rounds up to 2. Not so much. We've already covered that PC Wealth = +1 CR. Wealth = assigned treasure value = CR +0.

Easier Monsters are Less Rewarding

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Though its true that most of the unintelligent monsters have less treasure I think this has more to do we the fact that fluff wise they don't value it. I wouldn't call them weaker though, just less flexible.

I do agree that is an excellent way to use such monsters, but that still doesn't change the fact they become even weaker in comparison to richer monsters of the same CR.

Flexibility is power (see Wizard). And yes, generally speaking creatures with high treasure values tend to be harder to fight than the simpletons with no treasure. That's kind of a natural gameplay mechanic since they are also less rewarding to fight. It would be exceptionally lame if you could kill a tiger and it burst into a dragon's horde or puked up a +2 lifedrinker instead of having to pry it from a demon's cold dead hands.

It's a feature, not a bug (fun fact, monsters with less treasure are good for low-treasure/WBL games, yeah?).

I found it in the Cool Bin

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“Nope. He's likely wearing it (specifically about 50 lbs of it) in the form of crazy-cool magic items you'd expect to be adorning a lord of hell. He might be wearing that kickass amulet of mighty fists the druid's wanted, or wielding a massive battleaxe that the barbarian would drool for, or a +1 mithral buckler of fortification …”

Fair point. I didn't even think about that, since I thought you were relating it to a monster's special abilities (in this case Cthulu's) or were commenting on the Dongle-Fiend (who features a slightly altered AoMF joke item). I was trying to illustrate that the pit fiend would have a lot of magic items, many of which would be desirable to the party (and thus be nice loot), not compare them to cool abilities which again is what I thought you were talking about when you said "this isn't cool".

Onions and oranges. Sorry for the confusion.

Why is Treasure Valuable? Because Magic Items

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Yet you have not addressed my basic argument. That the in a WORLD where gold and important art objects are traded for the stuff-the-most-powerful-creatures-in-the-world-want in big cities why would you insist so much that it makes sense that monsters who have treasure have it in the form of magic items?

Generally speaking because it's more convenient for them to do so. Like I noted, carrying lots of coinage and stuff on your person is kind of dumb for most NPCs, especially NPCs who are going to be in a situation where PCs are going to loot them (unless the PCs are looting them on the way back from the ATM machine), and doubly so for creatures like most evil outsiders who can't carry more than 50 lbs. on their person (a pit fiend can only carry 50 lbs. of shwag before it can't teleport anymore, and a practical way to carry less than 50 lbs. worth of 134,000 gp is in the form of magic items).

Side Note: Meanwhile, magic items are created from things with value. It might even be that things with value are valuable largely in part because of their usefulness in magic. When you have to use 3,000 gp worth of materials to create a magic item, why not use a crown adorned with topazes as the main ingrediant?

I Call 'Em Like I See 'Em

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Tell me where I say that the NPC's should be incredibly stupid, shouldn't use their abilities, shouldn't work as a team, should fight pc's in 1 vs 4 combat as a staple and that we should bar players from having balanced offensive/defensive characters.

Are you making these things up?

Nope. Just reflecting what you are describing. You seem to have a hatred for well balanced characters, ban or disallow things like beast totem + superstition, seem to hate item creation and/or ignore the standardized rules and their assumptions of it, continually repeat this mantra of "Party vs 1 Enemy" when you're talking about encounters (like when you were talking about rocket tag and optimizing and 15th level parties vs a single CR 20 enemy), insist that monsters using their treasure is somehow not normal (despite the fact pit fiends and the like are proficient with all simple and martial weapons and stuff), and don't ever seem to expect party members (be they PC or NPC) to buff each other with common staple buffs.

What do you expect me to think? Just review what this sounds like. It's doubly silly sounding because you're ignoring, twisting, changing, or condemning various mechanics on various levels and then insisting that X, Y, and Z are over/underpowered/not-normal/rules lawyering/cheese/whatever. Again, from where I'm sitting it looks like user error, because it looks like a mess.

The Arms Race, Now With Tag Rockets!

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What I have said that if you optimize you force your dm to use higher CR opponents.

No, you don't.

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This turns into a rocket tag game for the very reason that optimization isn't as always balanced offensively and defensively.

No, it doesn't.

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Maybe in your games you manage the players choices and you work with every monster and encounter to the point the gameplay flows well.

Not sure what you mean. Managing what? Working with what?

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But you can run an equally good game by having players that don't especially optimize, using monsters as they are from the book and creating tactically interesting battles. As a plus you also won't need to do all the work of creating dong fiends.

Agreed. Which is why I use the same monsters regardless of the level of optimization that the PCs are using. Dongle-fiend is just the poster-child of silly. I don't need to optimize them.

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I understand that you might find such “work” to be fun and you are probably good at it, but not everyone likes doing it.

What "work" are you talking about?

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Aid doesn't stack with heroism.

True that, I was thinking it was a competence bonus for some reason. My bad.

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I think a good campaign in high levels should have time limits, changes in encounter pacing and the possibility of not predicting you will have an encounter in the next 20 minutes.

I haven't played at 20 level but I have been in 3 different campaigns that reached levels 15, 16 and 17 respectively. Things can get so crazy in the dnd world that its really hard to predict or sometimes even understand what you are dealing with.

I've had to GM enough of them. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. If there's a level that you're likely to know something is coming, 20th is probably it. If there's a level that you'd be prepared anyway, 20th is probably it (or much earlier).

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What do you mean by effectively immortal?

Wizards have stuff like clone which means upon being slain they just wake up with a couple of negative levels (which they can then wipe away via one of many methods) and then greater teleport back into the fight for round 2 (possibly after casting time stop and collecting his loot off his own corpse).

For example:
Round 1 - Wizard is slain (or has a heart attack from eating too many twinkies)
Round 2 - Wizard wakes up in his cloned body, wishes he didn't have a magic hangover, his Djinn complies, casts timestop.
Round 2.1 - Wizard greater teleports to his corpse and says "Damn, my doctor was right, I needed to lay off the twinkies".
Round 2.2 - Wizard grabs his corpse and equipment and takes it somewhere out of combat for a bit (plane shift to his own demiplane is a good dressing room).
Later - Wizard seeks revenge vs the twinkies and creates a worker's union.

Example 2:
Liches resurrect themselves in a few days after their destruction. The lich's phylactery is hidden in a permanent private sanctum on a distant moon on the other side of the galaxy, in a location that is generally perpetually freezing and devoid of oxygen. He's kind of a dick to kill.

You Fight Cthulu Like a Demon

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You also said it really isn't amazing or interesting and there is nothing particularly shocking or noteworthy that it can do. I said that infinite resurrections and getting crazy if you use true seeing is particularly shocking and noteworthy.

Again its arguable if these abilities will introduce tactical complexity. Its really hard to argue though since we are talking about an extremely high CR monster (maybe alone) facing a group of whatever-number-level-and-class pc's under who-knows-what circumstances, in a who-knows-what place.

In you example the cleric might be in the 40 feet reach of the monster, in fact he might not know that the monster will throw a 45 DC stinking cloud and focus on being close to his team to cast buffs and what not. Also how will the players know to prepare and for what? Again cthulu just needs to bail with greater teleport and return after the timer resets. To add to that he might keep the use of his mythic wish for the first round of his return.

Save vs insanity! Heal, mass.

He teleports! Dimensional anchor.
He doesn't die easily! Wizards, ghosts, tarrasques, regenerating creatures, liches, etc.

Pretty strait forward stuff.

Now a white dragon? Those things are fun to fight. <(@o@)>

3.5 Revisited Again

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Are you saying 3.5 isn't full with especially good options one could use in pathfinder? What does the majority of it being “trash” as you say, do with anything? Also pathfinder is better in that regard but still suffers from some options being really good and some really bad.

Nope. Just saying that "It was made for 3.5" =/= "broken". That is all.

I Can't Believe It's Not Cheddar

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So you do mean in a party. Do your stats include inherent bonuses from planar binding?

Or simulacrum.

Barbarians are Not Fighters

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Why can't the normal barbarian take a hit? Its sounds like you have to optimize to have a fun game.

If you don't invest in defense, you are going to get wrecked. If you're not allowed to take defensive abilities if you take offensive ones too, you're not allowed to take a hit. Seems reasonable enough.

A "hit" in this case also includes magic. Kind of like how Fighters suck at fighting. Barbarians don't have to suck at fighting.

The Mixing Pot of the Elitist Jerk

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I now honestly believe you, you probably run a good game the way you like it.

But that said, comments like this
“I might just be an elitist jerk, but it seems to me like the majority of this thread is "Monsters that have odd attacks, resistances, or otherwise require you to change from the 'I whack it with my sword/spell' default" or "I need to actually defend myself against attacks, this monster is unfair".
It's kind of sad really."
seem a bit funny when you are allowing stuff like celestial plate, am barbarians, planar binding, item crafting, named item enchanting and double items in slots.

You're really stuck on this celestial plate thing aren't you? I make a post detailing what you can do in core, and as an aside note that in a typical expanded environment it's a pretty good staple.

And yes, I do think a loooooot of the posts, especially early in the thread, feel like it's just anything and everything that you have to fight in an unusual way or actually adapt to.

As for AM BARBARIAN, yeah, I would allow it. There's nothing that concerns me as a GM about AM BARBARIAN. I wouldn't need to change my game at all. I'd still just be using the same NPCs (most of them out of the Bestiary I). And yes, not banning large segments of the core game game that are explicitly defined as things you are expected to be able to do out works pretty well. I don't have to butcher the game and make problems that I then have to fix by running naked monsters. Odd, I know.

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Of course a vanilla monsters won't be a problem if you play this way. But its not that people don't have the tactical acumen you describe, its that they don't optimize as much as you do.

I generally stick with vanilla monsters. >_>


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Scavion wrote:
Can I just subscribe to Ashiel's posts?

Can I subscribe to your favorites? :D

Casts Ashiel's Happy Huggles at everyone!

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