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Hmmm... with the skill based casting system, if I'm understanding this correctly, Metamagic got significantly more powerful, and yet harder at the same time, depending on the spell chosen.

For example, one could, theoretically, Heighten a Fireball to 9th level (DC 28), and then add Dazing (+6), Empowered (+4), Rime (+2) and Selective (+2) for an additional +14 adjustment with a final DC of 42, I believe. Whereas a regular old 9th level spell is DC 38 (20+18), I'm able to cast what would be the equivalent of a 16th level spell for only 4 more points on the DC.

Am I understanding this correctly?


So, with so many resources online (PRD, SRD, and Archives), should I feel bad about selling my books?


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Artemis Moonstar wrote:
So, with so many resources online (PRD, SRD, and Archives), should I feel bad about selling my books?

Not necessarily. It depends on how much value you get out of your physical books (be the value practical, sentimental, or novelty). I have a fairly large number of D&D/Pathfinder books, yet in recent years I've mainly used virtual tabletop applications for gaming because it's more convenient (living in a rural area, it can take a half-hour drive or more for some members of the group to show up in person, then you unload all the books they use, set up playing space, etc).

It also opens up the ability to play with a lot of other people. For example, most of the people I gamed with as a teenager are busy with other life-concerns and my current work schedule tends to leave me with time either very early in the morning or very late a night. Using a virtual tabletop like MapTools, OpenRPG, or Roll20 allows you to get together with a much broader playerbase. My current regular group has a few people from the opposite side of the country and it works decently because they don't mind playing Pathfinder for a few hours when it's already 8pm or later on the east coast.

Even when in person, I've grown an appreciation for digital media because of how well it allows me to stay organized. If I was still regularly GMing tabletop, I'd definitely invest into a laptop (I have a desktop) for GMing at the table. It's basically a high-tech GM screen that can hold all your books (having made a habit of lugging around the PHB, MM, DMG, OA, MotP, ToM, ToB:BoNS, EPH, BoED, UA, C:Ad, C:Ar, C:D, C:M, C:W, Libris Mortis, Draconomicon, Eberron, PHB II and a few other bits to gaming sessions requires a dedicated arm and good backpack) and can also play music and such if you need to.

Depending on your situation, you may or may not need your books, and if you don't need them, it's a matter of how much you want them for some other sort of value.


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Tels wrote:

Hmmm... with the skill based casting system, if I'm understanding this correctly, Metamagic got significantly more powerful, and yet harder at the same time, depending on the spell chosen.

For example, one could, theoretically, Heighten a Fireball to 9th level (DC 28), and then add Dazing (+6), Empowered (+4), Rime (+2) and Selective (+2) for an additional +14 adjustment with a final DC of 42, I believe. Whereas a regular old 9th level spell is DC 38 (20+18), I'm able to cast what would be the equivalent of a 16th level spell for only 4 more points on the DC.

Am I understanding this correctly?

Yes you are. Metamagic feats allowing you to make your spells more powerful are actually intentional in this situation. Unfortunately, the vast majority of metamagic feats are underwhelming and undesirable save for use with metamagic rods. Generally speaking, you are frequently just using them to make a lower level spell comparable to a spell that's already better for free.

For example, fireball (3rd level) vs cone of cold (5th level). Fireball caps at 10d6 vs the cone of cold's 15d6. If you dump a feat into Empower Spell, the fireball is now effectively 15d6 as well, except it's still worse than Cone of Cold because its 10% easier to save against and is blocked by spells like lesser globe of invulnerability. This means that really, only spontaneous casters are going to reap much benefit out of it by trying to save a spell known by upgrading a lower level spell, but then they get punished for using metamagic with longer cast times.

In this system, investing feats into becoming better at casting your spells has a rather obvious and tangible benefit. In your example, you've invested at least 5 feats into making your fireball a kickass spell. IMHO, once you've invested into it like that, it should definitely look at least attractive next to another spell that you just got from leveling up that was a higher level.

There's also the fact that, generally speaking, metamagic feats don't change the nature of the game very much. Taking a fireball and maximizing it to 60 damage (what the normal game would now see as a 6th level spell) is not the game-changer that actual 6th level spells like flesh to stone, fabricate, contingency, true seeing, greater dispel magic, planar binding, and similar 6th level spells are.

Similarly, even when casting the "16th level fireball" that's on the 'roids via metamagic feats, it's still less likely to be as gamechanging as miracle or time stop would be. :P

Now I'll be the first one to say that not every metamagic feat is going to play nice with this system as it was designed around the metamagic feats that are available in the core rules. Dazing spell is already really awesome (probably OP actually, as there's a reason I built an entire druid around using it to make enemies cry) and you could very easily make a formidable control-blaster with this system that just spams dazing spells every round on the round.

For example, once you have a +14 casting modifier (say CL 8th and Ability +6 = +14), with Dazing and Selective, you could take-10 to chuck out selective dazing fireball spells that ignore your party as long as you weren't distracted or being immediately threatened. And you could do this pretty much as long as you were left unmolested by your enemies or your environment. Even if your enemies have energy resistances, you're essentially forcing a save every round vs a fairly difficult DC or lose 3 turns worth of actions in a big AoE. That's pretty super-powerful (and pretty much what I do with dazing casters in regular Pathfinder, except this is pretty do-able even before high levels).

If your group isn't keen on that, you might need to evaluate which metamagic feats you are keen on allowing, or tweaking some that are really strong (IMHO, I think dazing is just kind of crazy good >_>) to have more of a difficulty increase. The vast majority of metamagic feats aren't going to produce such amazing results as spamming dazing spells (though persistent spells might be worth looking out for).

Off of the list of metamagic feats, the only ones I'd be concerned about being OP with the system are...


  • Dazing Spell.
  • Persistent Spell.

Also Echoing Spell would be pretty useless (but it already is).


Have you play-tested with this @will system much? I wonder about the overall acceptance of other party members. Like the cleric and wizard are prolly like: "Oh hecks yeah! All the magicks!" but the fighter and rogue (non-casters) are they like: "Aw... now hitting things with a stick is lame!" ???

Do you find that Spellburn is enough of an equalizer? Does the free access to healing (and I get Healing is not really THAT limited of a resource) have any negative consequences on CR? I imagine at some point the Cleric having an infinite supply of "Heal" makes most challenges... not challenging.

and speaking of CR and challenging the party... I am finding that my players can mostly wade through anything I put them up against. Any tips on keeping things appropriately challenging? (I will admit... I monty hauled a little in the beginning but I don't see their items as being the main factor in their prowess. Mostly the items were RP/theme appropriate).


Speaking of items. I have a player that (like ALL my players and myself) likes the anime Fairy Tail and wanted to played a Fighter in the theme of Erza Scarlet. Originally just wanting to play a melee character (this is the player who is almost ALWAYS a wizard).

Being the AWESOME GM that I am I decided to help out with the theme. I started with a Transformative weapon, but also made it an intelligent item (modeled after the Soul Edge) and it basically wants you to kill stuff. It absorbs the soul, makes weapon more powerful, makes DC of influence more powerful. Bla bla bla... the weapon is cool, and helped originally but after a few levels I caved and made:

Amulet of Requip!

occupies the neck slot and gives wearer the ability to access a dimensional storage space that can holds 10 lbs of equipment per HD of the creature. A swift action will change one item (either armor or weapon, etc.) that is readied and a full round action can be used to change multiple items (I don't currently have a limit on this since it has never used this function- but I could see unrestricted use getting abused).

What do you think? I mean- I think it is an item that is DEFINITELY in theme with the character, and she uses it almost every encounter (which I take as a positive- she has a selection of armor and a couple weapons she switches between). I suppose this replaces the utility of a couple of feats... Mostly I just wanted to show you what I did... because I am apparently a 4 yr old and drew a picture I think is fridge worthy. LOL.


I've only seen Dazing used a few times and all of those times by the same character (mine) in a Mythic Legacy of Fire game. Unfortunately, the GM dropped the game, and it wasn't because of my Wizard (or my Monk). It was the 12th level Fighter moving 300 ft. (extra move action + move as swift action and attack) across an open field and then full attacking and killing a Tarn Linnorm (CR 20) before it even got a turn.

Logically, I know it's powerful, but at the same time, I only got to use it against a few Mooks or unimportant fights. I much prefer Rime Spell as a more balanced approach to 'control blaster' as a metamagic feat.


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What's in the box? wrote:
Have you play-tested with this @will system much? I wonder about the overall acceptance of other party members. Like the cleric and wizard are prolly like: "Oh hecks yeah! All the magicks!" but the fighter and rogue (non-casters) are they like: "Aw... now hitting things with a stick is lame!" ???

I ran a campaign with it that combined d20 modern and 3.x D&D years ago on OpenRPG. The campaign went to about 14th level before we ended it because of scheduling issues and the fact the Paladin player was butting heads with the Mystic Theurge player (for non-game related things).

The party consisted of a wizard, a mystic theurge, a paladin, and a rogue. Nobody ever complained about balance at the time (even the rogue, go figure) and the original version was actually easier to abuse than this revised version (the original version was a Skill and had less brutal spellburn mechanics). Ultimately, it had the effect that it was intended to (even at higher levels, I was seeing a lot more 1st-3rd level spells being thrown around than not).

The new revised version is stricter and more closely tied to your casting abilities but still has the options of speccing it a bit (+CL effects make it easier to chuck out better spells, so things like ioun stones, prayer beads, and so forth can help you edge a few more +5%s into your corner). Spellburn is also more brutal (it used to deal a lot less damage) and the ability burn was added in the revised version which means that you can very easily have a very strong penalty for failing to cast successfully.

I personally think I'd use the ability-burn one primarily and only add the damage-feature if the ability-burn wasn't enough for the group. Biffing a spell and watching your casting stat get nerfed for literally days would hurt and seems to me like enough of a fear-factor to be careful (ability damage heals at beast 2/day, and since ability burn cannot be magically healed, eating 3-9 points of ability burn at a time would suuuuck).

Alternatively, some might feel that the ability burn is too harsh and that the damage is risky enough (since you're essentially losing both actions and getting thrashed) but less brutal since you can heal it up between encounters.

Most brutal would be both where you get fried and debuffed. Even this could be fun if that's the sort of flavor your group is into.

Quote:
Do you find that Spellburn is enough of an equalizer?

It depends. I myself do think that it's enough of a dissuading factor (along with the risk of failing to have a wasted action, which is a thing) and combined with the difference in how Concentration works (actively increasing the difficulty of casting the spell) it's easier to harass an enemy spellcaster.

It's also worth noting that I do not really consider Fighters, Rogues, and Monks when making mechanics that are balanced (because none of those classes are balanced with the rest of their peers).

In some ways, I think the difficulty associated with casting higher level spells is an equalizer in its own way. Most people agree that casters don't really explode into nuttiness until they're casting spells that are much higher than 3rd level. While a lot of iconic staples come online at 3rd level, most of the big guns are 6th+, with the nastiest ones being 7th+. Since casting limited wish in combat has a base casting DC of 34, you need a +24 modifier to be able to take-10 to cast it (and you can't take 10 if someone is threatening you, which means summons, animal companions, and martials on your face is irritating). Since your modifier is CL + Key Ability, you'd have a pretty high chance of biffing it at the level you could potentially cast it (especially if you had to do things like cast defensively).

Quote:
Does the free access to healing (and I get Healing is not really THAT limited of a resource) have any negative consequences on CR? I imagine at some point the Cleric having an infinite supply of "Heal" makes most challenges... not challenging.

Not in the slightest. Generally speaking, healing in combat is frequently seen as a less than ideal tactic anyway (too many resources wasted, not enough output, etc). Nigh-infinite out of combat healing is already a thing in Pathfinder. If anything, it makes preparing/casting healing spells in combat a little less horrendous at most levels because you're not wasting resources on it.

Quote:
and speaking of CR and challenging the party... I am finding that my players can mostly wade through anything I put them up against. Any tips on keeping things appropriately challenging? (I will admit... I monty hauled a little in the beginning but I don't see their items as being the main factor in their prowess. Mostly the items were RP/theme appropriate).

Depends on what sort of encounters you're putting together for them but a few general tips...

1. More is more. Use at least 3 creatures in most encounters, possibly more. It's generally more challenging to face multiple lower-CR foes than single higher-CR foes.

2. If your monsters have cool shwag for the PCs to loot, let the monsters use it too. For example, a succubus with a +1 flaming longsword should totally use that +1 flaming longsword.

3. Think about the encounters as more than PCs vs badguys. Think of things like terrain, weather, and other effects. Here's a link to a blogpost I made about building encounters: Encounter Design Pt. 1.


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What's in the box? wrote:

Speaking of items. I have a player that (like ALL my players and myself) likes the anime Fairy Tail and wanted to played a Fighter in the theme of Erza Scarlet. Originally just wanting to play a melee character (this is the player who is almost ALWAYS a wizard).

Being the AWESOME GM that I am I decided to help out with the theme. I started with a Transformative weapon, but also made it an intelligent item (modeled after the Soul Edge) and it basically wants you to kill stuff. It absorbs the soul, makes weapon more powerful, makes DC of influence more powerful. Bla bla bla... the weapon is cool, and helped originally but after a few levels I caved and made:

Amulet of Requip!

occupies the neck slot and gives wearer the ability to access a dimensional storage space that can holds 10 lbs of equipment per HD of the creature. A swift action will change one item (either armor or weapon, etc.) that is readied and a full round action can be used to change multiple items (I don't currently have a limit on this since it has never used this function- but I could see unrestricted use getting abused).

What do you think? I mean- I think it is an item that is DEFINITELY in theme with the character, and she uses it almost every encounter (which I take as a positive- she has a selection of armor and a couple weapons she switches between). I suppose this replaces the utility of a couple of feats... Mostly I just wanted to show you what I did... because I am apparently a 4 yr old and drew a picture I think is fridge worthy. LOL.

Seems awesome. I like the amulet of reequip (but I wonder what happens to all the gear when you give it to a lower HD creatue?).

You might also look into the psionic power call weaponry which allows you to call a weapon of your choice. You might be interested in playing around with it.

Speaking of which, Aratrok created a Psychic Warrior with the Mind Knight who focused on using Call Weaponry and Inertial Armor, and then combined it with the Ascetic Rules I wrote for Mikaze to create an incredibly gear-lite character who can essentially function naked and calls all kinds of different weapons and/or armors to her presence.

Combined with the ascetic rules, an amulet of call weaponry with no augments would be quite viable for that sort of thing since you could bind enhancement bonuses and/or abilities to your hand chakras and get the benefits to whatever you call. He really, really enjoys this psychic warrior.


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Tels wrote:

I've only seen Dazing used a few times and all of those times by the same character (mine) in a Mythic Legacy of Fire game. Unfortunately, the GM dropped the game, and it wasn't because of my Wizard (or my Monk). It was the 12th level Fighter moving 300 ft. (extra move action + move as swift action and attack) across an open field and then full attacking and killing a Tarn Linnorm (CR 20) before it even got a turn.

Logically, I know it's powerful, but at the same time, I only got to use it against a few Mooks or unimportant fights. I much prefer Rime Spell as a more balanced approach to 'control blaster' as a metamagic feat.

It's funny how that sort of stuff tends to freak people out faster. It's definitely flashier so it gets a lot more attention. Kind of like how a lot of people think fireball is like the bestest spell ever and undervalue haste. :P

I'm not even 100% certain that dazing would be a gamebreaker in this case but it's definitely something I'd be concerned about, because I'd definitely spec the hell out of it if I was playing a caster with this system. Every round on the round, I'd be tagging as many enemies as I could in hopes they biff their saves. Even dazing magic missile would be an attractive thing.


Ashiel wrote:
Tels wrote:

I've only seen Dazing used a few times and all of those times by the same character (mine) in a Mythic Legacy of Fire game. Unfortunately, the GM dropped the game, and it wasn't because of my Wizard (or my Monk). It was the 12th level Fighter moving 300 ft. (extra move action + move as swift action and attack) across an open field and then full attacking and killing a Tarn Linnorm (CR 20) before it even got a turn.

Logically, I know it's powerful, but at the same time, I only got to use it against a few Mooks or unimportant fights. I much prefer Rime Spell as a more balanced approach to 'control blaster' as a metamagic feat.

It's funny how that sort of stuff tends to freak people out faster. It's definitely flashier so it gets a lot more attention. Kind of like how a lot of people think fireball is like the bestest spell ever and undervalue haste. :P

I'm not even 100% certain that dazing would be a gamebreaker in this case but it's definitely something I'd be concerned about, because I'd definitely spec the hell out of it if I was playing a caster with this system. Every round on the round, I'd be tagging as many enemies as I could in hopes they biff their saves. Even dazing magic missile would be an attractive thing.

I have to say, I really, really enjoy your Skill Casting System and there is a large part of me that wants to make it the default for all of my games going forward along with my Spellcraf/skill point modification.

It just feels more magical to me and makes it far easier to implement traditional sword and sorcery themes than most current systems. It may require a slight overhaul of some of the spells in the game though.


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Tels wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Tels wrote:

I've only seen Dazing used a few times and all of those times by the same character (mine) in a Mythic Legacy of Fire game. Unfortunately, the GM dropped the game, and it wasn't because of my Wizard (or my Monk). It was the 12th level Fighter moving 300 ft. (extra move action + move as swift action and attack) across an open field and then full attacking and killing a Tarn Linnorm (CR 20) before it even got a turn.

Logically, I know it's powerful, but at the same time, I only got to use it against a few Mooks or unimportant fights. I much prefer Rime Spell as a more balanced approach to 'control blaster' as a metamagic feat.

It's funny how that sort of stuff tends to freak people out faster. It's definitely flashier so it gets a lot more attention. Kind of like how a lot of people think fireball is like the bestest spell ever and undervalue haste. :P

I'm not even 100% certain that dazing would be a gamebreaker in this case but it's definitely something I'd be concerned about, because I'd definitely spec the hell out of it if I was playing a caster with this system. Every round on the round, I'd be tagging as many enemies as I could in hopes they biff their saves. Even dazing magic missile would be an attractive thing.

I have to say, I really, really enjoy your Skill Casting System and there is a large part of me that wants to make it the default for all of my games going forward along with my Spellcraf/skill point modification.

It just feels more magical to me and makes it far easier to implement traditional sword and sorcery themes than most current systems. It may require a slight overhaul of some of the spells in the game though.

It's been a long time since I used it and I basically re-wrote it as I was posting for WitB. I'm re-psyched about using it myself to play around with metamagic so I might use it in my next campaign.

That said, there are a few spells that should probably be evaluated. For example, Aratrok mentioned a bit of fear of pooping simulacra. I can think of a few splat-spells that would be really god-awful with this system because they're awful in Pathfinder (calcifying touch springs to mind). Most of the core spells are pretty safe though.


Ashiel wrote:
Tels wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Tels wrote:

I've only seen Dazing used a few times and all of those times by the same character (mine) in a Mythic Legacy of Fire game. Unfortunately, the GM dropped the game, and it wasn't because of my Wizard (or my Monk). It was the 12th level Fighter moving 300 ft. (extra move action + move as swift action and attack) across an open field and then full attacking and killing a Tarn Linnorm (CR 20) before it even got a turn.

Logically, I know it's powerful, but at the same time, I only got to use it against a few Mooks or unimportant fights. I much prefer Rime Spell as a more balanced approach to 'control blaster' as a metamagic feat.

It's funny how that sort of stuff tends to freak people out faster. It's definitely flashier so it gets a lot more attention. Kind of like how a lot of people think fireball is like the bestest spell ever and undervalue haste. :P

I'm not even 100% certain that dazing would be a gamebreaker in this case but it's definitely something I'd be concerned about, because I'd definitely spec the hell out of it if I was playing a caster with this system. Every round on the round, I'd be tagging as many enemies as I could in hopes they biff their saves. Even dazing magic missile would be an attractive thing.

I have to say, I really, really enjoy your Skill Casting System and there is a large part of me that wants to make it the default for all of my games going forward along with my Spellcraf/skill point modification.

It just feels more magical to me and makes it far easier to implement traditional sword and sorcery themes than most current systems. It may require a slight overhaul of some of the spells in the game though.

It's been a long time since I used it and I basically re-wrote it as I was posting for WitB. I'm re-psyched about using it myself to play around with metamagic so I might use it in my next campaign.

That said, there are a few spells that should probably be evaluated....

Simulacrum really isn't that bad of a spell unless the party has an abundance of wealth or access to blood money and blood money can be fixed by changing it to ability burn instead of damage.


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Man if blood money was ability burn it wouldn't get half as many evil looks.


What if teleport was changed to always scatter those who ported? Each person is scattered separately.

Very familiar = 1d6 squares
studied carefully = 1d6 x 10 squares
seen casually = 1d6 x 100 squares
viewed once 1d6 x 1000 squares

If you end up in a solid object then roll scatter distance again but the direction is up instead of random.

Teleport trap becomes a very nice thing for a city have in its town square. Only way to land right where you want to is to hit a trap.


I like reading what you guys talk about. In my group I am the most "senior" rpg'er (both experience and age) but I don't feel like I have really maximized the potential of my 10-ish years of playing.

In answer to your question Ash- if the space limit of the amulet is exceeded (either you tried to store too much or someone took the amulet and doesn't have the HD) it "locks" and has to be completely emptied in order to "recalibrate" that process takes 1 minute per item.

I didn't really anticipate that being a problem since the player knows the limits of the amulet and exactly what is in there. And I think she would fight to the death to protect it from looting.


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Mathius wrote:

What if teleport was changed to always scatter those who ported? Each person is scattered separately.

Very familiar = 1d6 squares
studied carefully = 1d6 x 10 squares
seen casually = 1d6 x 100 squares
viewed once 1d6 x 1000 squares

If you end up in a solid object then roll scatter distance again but the direction is up instead of random.

Teleport trap becomes a very nice thing for a city have in its town square. Only way to land right where you want to is to hit a trap.

That's a very amusing idea actually. I think it would probably nerf demons and other creatures whose tactics include greater teleport (since those spells are good for pestering casters and such), but that could indeed be a really cool thing.


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What's in the box? wrote:
I like reading what you guys talk about. In my group I am the most "senior" rpg'er (both experience and age) but I don't feel like I have really maximized the potential of my 10-ish years of playing.

Don't feel bad. Having a life is a good thing. D&D/D20 has been kind of my obsession since it came out. I kinda no-lifed it for years. D&D kind of helped me get through some of the rough times in my youth (I'd dare say it saved my life in some ways).

Quote:

In answer to your question Ash- if the space limit of the amulet is exceeded (either you tried to store too much or someone took the amulet and doesn't have the HD) it "locks" and has to be completely emptied in order to "recalibrate" that process takes 1 minute per item.

I didn't really anticipate that being a problem since the player knows the limits of the amulet and exactly what is in there. And I think she would fight to the death to protect it from looting.

Thanks. It's just a question that sprang to mind when you mentioned the carrying limit was based on the HD of the user ("As your soul grows to carry greater burdens, so too will your amulet") and I was curious what would happen if someone of a lower level tried to use it.


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Mathius was asking about the adventure I was writing with the White Dragon, and I thought you guys might be interested in one of the responses. This is why I said in that other thread why fighting a white dragon in their own lair is one of the most harrowing experiences and waaaaaaay more interesting than fighting that putz Cthulu. :P

Ashiel wrote:

You'll probably like the final battle with Seliex then. Enemies that the party skips are actually expected to join in during different phases of the fight. Her lair itself is a frigid cavern with a frozen lake inside of it (the same lake she fell into as a young dragon and left for dead), and the whole cavern is filled with a thick, dense fog.

Because white dragons can move across the frozen ice and walls easily, have a burrow speed, a fly speed, and a swim speed, the players are fighting her lair as much as they are her (she can move into the walls, through the floor, beneath the ice, across the ceiling, and all heavily obscured by the fog as she has maxed ranks in Stealth). If she gets severely injured, she can withdraw through the floors or walls to regroup herself before making another go at it.

She also has some resetting summon monster traps that conjure elementals to harass the lair's invaders, and will continue to summon more and more adds to the fight unless the party locates and destroys the traps that are conjuring them.

Since most of the floor in her lair is actually iced over lake, certain spells (such as fireball) remove terrain for the PCs by destroying the water's icy surface, and if she gets seriously pissed herself, she may destroy it herself and plunge her and the entire party into the lake's dark, frigid waters for the final phase of the battle.


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A quick preview of one of the first events in the book. Sorry for the limited formatting (looks better in the document) but Paizo's boards aren't nearly as cool as Giant in the Playgrounds when it comes to making posts.

Quote:

This event can begin anywhere within Kallid's bay with the weather being bright and sunny on a midsummer's day (though see alternate seasons below) just before taking a striking change in temperament quickly.

The previously clear day darkens and a terrible hailstorm mixed with torrential rain begins ravaging the city and everything within it. This inclement weather is due to the machinations of one of Seliex's followers, a lizardfolk druid named Crexa who resides on a small island shore a short distance out from the bay.

Shortly after the inclement weather begins, so too does the initial attack on the city. First skeletal undead lurch up from the bay itself and attack the shorelines of the city.

Meanwhile, from the mainland and down from the mountain, come yeti and winter wolf servants of the dragon, leaving citizens of the city little room for escape and forcing the town's defenses to split their forces. The first act of vengeance on Kallid's Bay begins.

Assuming you are not running the adventure during a different season, read (or paraphrase) the following to the players:

As you make your way around an otherwise beautiful and sunny summer's day, you are startled by a small piece of ice that suddenly hits the ground nearby. Almost immediately, another falls nearby, followed by another, then another, in faster succession. The peaceful white clouds in the sky steadily darken as downpour of rain and sleet join the falling ice flakes, with the storm growing worse with each passing moment.

While the hailstorm itself isn't harsh enough to cause damage, it does cause a -4 penalty on Perception checks, ranged attacks, and makes the ground outdoors difficult terrain (costing 2 squares of movement). Its primary purpose is to terrorize the citizens and make it difficult for the town's archers and soldiers to defend against their invaders.

Alternate Seasons
The attack on Kallid's Bay might occur during different seasons than summer as desired for your campaign which results in Crexa calling for different weather effects. See Environment in the core rules for specifics on each kind of weather.

Spring: Likely the worst case scenario, Crexa calls for a mixture of thunderstorms and a tornado that cuts a swath of destruction over the surface of the bay and then through the town itself. Tornados are CR 10. There is a 40% chance that the tornado will interrupt any encounter involving the PCs in Kallid's Bay. However, the tornado moves on its own and is unprejudiced in the destruction it creates. Enemy combatants attempt to avoid or flee the tornado as readily as citizens.

Read (or paraphrase) the following to the players:

The warm and peaceful day is shattered by the sudden roar of thunder through the skies above. Not long after the thundering begins, sheets of rain begin cascading through the streets as if heralding the arrival of bolts of lightning that begin touching down randomly throughout the city. Though one could scarcely believe that anything could pale the roar of the thunder, a heart-sinking sound of tearing winds looms on the horizon, announcing the arrival of one of nature's most heartless destroyers – a tornado.

Fall: Crexa conjures fog and sleet prior to the attack to obscure vision and complicate defenses.

Read (or paraphrase) the following to the players:

An early fog originating from the bay fills the city, causing Kallid's bay to appear like a surreal dream where people and objects alike seem to disappear from existence a short distance from where they were found. Rain and sleet accompany the fog, rendering the cobbled streets a wet and slippery mess.

Winter: Crexa calls for a frigid cold temperatures mixed with a blizzard.

Read (or paraphrase) the following to the players:

Today began cold but mostly clear, but only a short time ago the air seemed to fill with a hateful chill that could freeze the spit on a man's lips and stop is unguarded breath. Snow began to fall at a pace that seemed as though some sort of frozen god was casting its ire over the town of Kallid's Bay.


Ashiel wrote:

Mathius was asking about the adventure I was writing with the White Dragon, and I thought you guys might be interested in one of the responses. This is why I said in that other thread why fighting a white dragon in their own lair is one of the most harrowing experiences and waaaaaaay more interesting than fighting that putz Cthulu. :P

Ashiel wrote:

You'll probably like the final battle with Seliex then. Enemies that the party skips are actually expected to join in during different phases of the fight. Her lair itself is a frigid cavern with a frozen lake inside of it (the same lake she fell into as a young dragon and left for dead), and the whole cavern is filled with a thick, dense fog.

Because white dragons can move across the frozen ice and walls easily, have a burrow speed, a fly speed, and a swim speed, the players are fighting her lair as much as they are her (she can move into the walls, through the floor, beneath the ice, across the ceiling, and all heavily obscured by the fog as she has maxed ranks in Stealth). If she gets severely injured, she can withdraw through the floors or walls to regroup herself before making another go at it.

She also has some resetting summon monster traps that conjure elementals to harass the lair's invaders, and will continue to summon more and more adds to the fight unless the party locates and destroys the traps that are conjuring them.

Since most of the floor in her lair is actually iced over lake, certain spells (such as fireball) remove terrain for the PCs by destroying the water's icy surface, and if she gets seriously pissed herself, she may destroy it herself and plunge her and the entire party into the lake's dark, frigid waters for the final phase of the battle.

I like this. I'm trying to plan a similar encounter for a Blue sometime in the near future, and I have one made for a Black from a prior forum that I'll be digging up to use after that. If you have any recommendations off the top of your head, though, I'll toss them in the toybox for later perusal =)


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Oh my god Blue dragons are freaking fun beyond reason! Their Mirage, Sandstorm, and Storm Breath abilities can create some insanely amazing encounters all by themselves. Mirage can seriously screw with the players into making tactical mistakes (especially because it can actually attack with the breath weapon!), while the sandstorm can torment casters and most anyone else due to visual and concentration irritants. Storm Breath lets it bank breath weapon-burst shots to use over the next few rounds (which is freaking awesome!).

Even their sound mimicry can be used to really make an encounter memorable, especially if you fill the encounter with descriptions of unnerving sounds or even the screams of other party members! If you have NPCs that the party likes in the party, let the dragon torment and worry the players with its Bluff checks to make them think that the NPCs in the cloud are being killed and screw with them with illusions as well. The dragon can even use this as a bait and switch.

For example, if the dragon can see someone separated in the dust storm (such as an NPC) and has heard his or her voice prior to his attack, he might begin by screaming for help in the voice of the intended victim while being obscured by sandstorms, invisibility, or other methods of hiding in the chaos. When the NPC responds "No, it's a trick, I'm over here!" the dragon moves in and grabs up the NPC with its snatch feat in the chaos.

Similar tactics can be used to bait the PCs into splitting up if they're not careful. With the powerful illusions that the dragons are capable of harnessing, along with mirage and their sound imitation, you could very reasonably provoke a warrior to charge through the sandstorms to the dragon's mirage only to fall into a trap (such as a sinkhole or quicksand) while the dragon moves on to ravage the other party members.

KKKkkzzzzzshhhhaaoooooorrrrzzz~! Lightning sound effects


All amazing stuff!


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Thinking about it a bit, a lot of the best encounters against major BBEGs that I've used (especially with dragons, major fiends, mages, and even rangers) often draw the combat out with misdirection and entertaining shenanigans. The real goal of the encounter with the blue dragon is for the dragon to harass the hell out of them and attack them psychologically as well as physically. The paranoia that can occur during a blue dragon encounter is part of the draw.

Likewise, with Seliex the white dragon in my adventure, dragging the combat out actually gets the PCs time to know the dragon. The importance of the fight's features are to make the PCs feel clostrophobic, like everything is against them while the dragon taunts and hits and runs. If the PCs begin to successfully threaten the dragon it'll invoke memories of when she was nearly killed as a young dragon and she'll go ballistic and scream things like "I'M POWERFUL NOW! YOU CAN'T HURT ME ANYMORE!!" belying her own insecurities and frustrations. Deep down inside, she wants vengeance because she's still afraid of adventurers coming to hurt her and is subconsciously trying to overcome that trauma.

This can make for some awesome scenes as well. I haven't decided what spells to give her, but if I give her something like infernal healing so she can patch herself up while she plays hit and run through the walls of the carven, one could describe the fiendish transformation and her icy blue eyes turning red like glowing rubies as her wounds seem to melt away like snow while she growls taunts like "I'll take from what you what you took from me!"


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How much time do you put into the prep for a session? and for an encounter?


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Kryzbyn wrote:

All amazing stuff!

Thanks. It's fun to play around with villains. Blindly rushing in has its place but my antagonists do a lot of talking, moving around, playing with the environment, etc.

For example, in my campaign that Aratrok's playing in, back when they were around 6th level the party was set up by an information broker (a vampire) and basically fell into a trap with a bunch of thugs, the vampire's assassin (a psychic monk vampire) and one of the mobsters the party was investigating.

So they end up in this warehouse with lots of low-CR thugs (we're talking like CR 1/4 to 1/3 warrior sorts, and the shrouded vampire assassin sitting atop a bunch of crates and such with the boss-guy (who couldn't fight for crap, he just paid the bills). The party began thrashing their way through the warriors and the goblin barbarian was basically laughing at the archers whose arrows he just chewed on while lifting the shop-door of the warehouse.

EDIT: The warehouse had some hooks on pulley systems that could be activated to move. NPCs would sometimes attempt to grab the PCs with the hooks by flipping levers when they were in the path of the hooks to drag them around the warehouse.

The boss began panicking and shouting for the goons to try harder and turned to the assassin and was like "Y-you're supposed protect me! K-KILL THEM NOW!", and the assassin was like "I'm not here to protect you. Order me like one of your lackies again and I'll kill you myself," she said more or less causing him to withdraw frightened.

She grinned and decided that this was going to be a fun fight. She jumped down and rushed one of the templar knights in the party (a pair of NPC tag-alongs, one was a warrior/psion and the other was a strait telepath). However, there were two things she didn't anticipate.

1. She had never met a goblin barbarian specialized in grappling.
2. She had also never met a Paladin.

She basically chased the telepath around with her energy-draining slams mixed in with flurries when this little green gobbo-missile leaped into the air, bit her, and then suplexed her onto her back and went for then pin.

"What the f***!?" she shouted as the Paladin ran over and declared smite. What ensued was a string of profanities as he beat the ever loving stuffing out of her with no care as to whether or not his sword was silver or cheese. She basically melted into bats at critical condition really quickly and screeched around the party for a bit, hoping to milk her swarm-form for a bit to recover some Hp. However Atratrok's character Jeo basically doused her with alchemist fire forcing her to retreat. They grabbed the mobster and then Jeo ended up following her back to the informant's place. When they arrived, Jeo was pissed that they had been doubled crossed and basically walked up to the bouncer at the back door of his club and was like "Either let me through or I'm going through you" (the bouncer was also a vampire but you have to understand, Jeo's freaking scary when she's angry...or hungry, but that's another story).

She entered the hidden complex behind the club and found the assassin who they had met earlier without the disguise fast-healing. The assassin, Victoria (Victoria was their informant's right hand lady) looked dejected and ashamed for being so thoroughly defeated by what she thought was going to be little more than a challenging fight. Jeo was like "Where is he!?" and Victoria pointed to the back room. That's when Jeo and the other PCs entered the den of the vampire lord and she proceeded to verbally chew him out like nobody had ever dared to do before. Ohhhh she was mad. XD

Currently the party is friends with Victoria, having liberated her from the vampire lord. My players tend to make friends in the most unlikely of places. I wouldn't even be surprised if they saved Seliex from death if they defeated her and tried to turn the situation around. They're really cool like that.


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What's in the box? wrote:
How much time do you put into the prep for a session? and for an encounter?

It depends really. Unfortunately not nearly as much as I'd like to (I work a full time job right now). The longest amount of prep usually comes in making some tile maps in Maptools (and that really shouldn't take long but I'm a s***ty cartographer).

I do a lot of off the cuff GMing. I tend to recycle a lot of statblocks or use generic statblocks with minor tweaking (bestiary monsters with a few feats or treasures switched around can make them feel unique enough without reinventing the wheel). Sometimes I'll refluff stuff. One of my party's favorite NPCs was Ms. Masu the Dragonblooded sorceress. She's actually a lizardfolk dragonblood sorceress.

When designing an adventure or encounter, I think about it kind of like a series of scenes or events that I'd like to bring attention to. Kind of visualizing key points of the action I'd like players to experience during the encounter. Is it night? Day? Are leaves thick on the ground because it's the fall and the sun or moon light shines brightly the the naked tree canopy?

Little details are often what can bring an encounter to life. For example, one encounter Aratrok liked was a roadblock by some mercenaries. One of the PCs in the group was a vampire who couldn't be out in broad daylight, so she had to begin and end her turn behind the shade of the trees around the roadblock. Enemies used trees for cover. Big trolls armed with weapons and cheap armor roamed the battlefield before the party charmed them and turned them on their comrades.

Best guess is I usually try to get an idea for key points of the adventure and spend 20 minutes to a few hours on the scenes depending on how major they are and how much custom material I want to make. The majority of stuff I use is from the standard Bestiary because I'm lazy. :P


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At least when it comes to monsters. Sometimes I'll put together a little NPC codex when I'm bored or have spare time that I can use for general campaign usage. Since I run my own campaign, it's nice having some generic NPCs for certain purposes. Here's a little NPC book I put together for my own use in my MapTools games.

Campaign Specific NPCs.

And some antagonists (though technically Jugeum isn't an antagonist, she's actually one of Jeo's mothers).

When I was going to run Jade Regent, I threw together some extra NPCs for some bonus content I was planning to drop into it for some added fun and fixed the statblocks for at least one really error-ridden NPC in the first book. Here's my Jade Regent bonus statblocks. Captain Scurvy, Yasei are original, as are the magic items. I can't recall if Grimjaw the bugbear is original or if he was something I had added in for fun.


Ashiel wrote:
Thinking about it a bit, a lot of the best encounters against major BBEGs that I've used (especially with dragons, major fiends, mages, and even rangers) often draw the combat out with misdirection and entertaining shenanigans. The real goal of the encounter with the blue dragon is for the dragon to harass the hell out of them and attack them psychologically as well as physically. The paranoia that can occur during a blue dragon encounter is part of the draw.

This reminds me of that one encounter in Savinth Yhi, and makes me wonder: how much of this do you agree/disagree with? I tend to favor it, naturally, and may or may not change my mind based off of any analysis you happen to give (it works well for our games), but, respecting your knowledge and opinion on rules interactions as I do, I'd be curious to know what you thought of it in terms of advice. :D

Also, this, but that's mostly because I just happen to have that tab open rather than because I'm asking for advice (though if you wanted to supply advice there...). ;D


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Tacticslion wrote:
This reminds me of that one encounter in Savinth Yhi,

That's really cool. I like how you've layered the villains in this and I like how he's using misdirection to be a booger to the PCs. I'm not sure how they used a coup de grace, but it sounds like it was a fun encounter. :)

Quote:
and makes me wonder: how much of this do you agree/disagree with? I tend to favor it, naturally, and may or may not change my mind based off of any analysis you happen to give (it works well for our games), but, respecting your knowledge and opinion on rules interactions as I do, I'd be curious to know what you thought of it in terms of advice. :D

I like the illusion considerations and honestly it's made me think that mirage arcana really needs to get used in a future game of mine at some point because that just seems like too much fun potential.

A few pieces that concern me elsewhere...
1. Don't feel too bad about its treasure. Aboleths have "double" treasure for a typical monster of their CR (which explains why he has more than 9,000 gp in goodies).

2. It's purely a preference thing but I tend to avoid using the special item restrictions for things like limiting items to NPCs. It feels a bit like cheating (bet nobody ever expected to hear me say that, huh? :P) and denies cool shwag. A lot of that probably comes from me having read the intended purpose of those types of limitations in the 3.x DMGs. :P

However, requirements that are thematically appropriate are actually super cool. I really liked of requirements like being able to speak Aklo. :D

Quote:
Also, this, but that's mostly because I just happen to have that tab open rather than because I'm asking for advice (though if you wanted to supply advice there...). ;D

I'll try to check it out soon ans give some feedback. ^_^


That is just epic. Even if the PCs can find a way to burrow, fly, swim, resist cold, and see through fog they will have used a huge number of resources just to deal with the terrain.


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Mathius wrote:
That is just epic. Even if the PCs can find a way to burrow, fly, swim, resist cold, and see through fog they will have used a huge number of resources just to deal with the terrain.

Sean K. Reynolds once said that the game is stacked in the PCs favor and is super dooper easy and stuff (obvious paraphrasing is obvious I hope). I asked him what game he was talking about exactly... >_>

This game is brutal. If you're fighting in anything but nondescript rooms of x by y size, this game gets crazy interesting really, really fast. The environment chapter is full of all kinds of crazy-amazing little things that spice up...everything. :O

Heck, even just taking standard bestiary creatures and mixing them up in unique and interesting ways can be incredibly challenging. Especially if you consider things like ecologies and/or why creatures are where they are and act like they're living creatures who want to go on living.


Ashiel wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:
This reminds me of that one encounter in Savinth Yhi,
That's really cool. I like how you've layered the villains in this and I like how he's using misdirection to be a booger to the PCs. I'm not sure how they used a coup de grace, but it sounds like it was a fun encounter. :)

How to coo dee graysee:
Project Image (the aboleth was using a second one) meant he was blind and deaf, while an aboleth only has "darkvision" as a special sense (which doesn't help it with noticing anything).

Given the aboleth's projections couldn't see into the depths of the lake (which was cloudy from all the fightin') from it's location (above the lake/in the air - it was here to distract the invaders away from it's true body..., which worked with the exception of a single PC), the body was effectively helpless - sure, it could move, but it couldn't tell where it was going, or what it was doing, and the aboleth (lacking any relevant defenses) didn't want to risk swimming in the wrong direction (potentially harming itself - the lake was established as both rocky and silt-laden) in the deeper areas.

Hence, opening it for a coup d grace.

(Which, for the record, was shoving a potent minor artifact* she'd tamed** through its central-most eye.) :D

* Spoilers...?
** Heh. It was... an interesting series of conversations.

Quote:
2. It's purely a preference thing but I tend to avoid using the special item restrictions for things like limiting items to NPCs. It feels a bit like cheating (bet nobody ever expected to hear me say that, huh? :P) and denies cool shwag. A lot of that probably comes from me having read the intended purpose of those types of limitations in the 3.x DMGs. :P

If find it's a great tool, but I'm also of the opinion that what's good for the goose is good for the gander - I'm all for PCs doing the same stuff to their own schwag, and for everything they don't have, that's what UMD is for, if they really want it. :)

Incidentally, I'm not sure what you mean by the DMGs. There's nothing in the Cursed Item section (except "be careful about doing this too often), nor the Magic Item Gold Piece Values sidebar (pg 282; it only notes the thing about skills), nor the Wondrous Item section. If you meant the Treasure Values (pg 54) or anything else under that heading, I don't see anything to specifically restrict this (outside of potentially altering the difficulty of a specific encounter... but for that I can give the guy specified items, but extra "left over" treasure to compensate, or place some elsewhere fairly easily).

So... which "intent" did you mean? I'm really curious. Thanks! :D

Quote:
I'll try to check it out soon ans give some feedback. ^_^

Hah! I mostly just like people talking about stuff I work on. It's nice. No pressure, though, and do as you like.


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Ashiel wrote:
Mathius wrote:
That is just epic. Even if the PCs can find a way to burrow, fly, swim, resist cold, and see through fog they will have used a huge number of resources just to deal with the terrain.

Sean K. Reynolds once said that the game is stacked in the PCs favor and is super dooper easy and stuff (obvious paraphrasing is obvious I hope). I asked him what game he was talking about exactly... >_>

This game is brutal. If you're fighting in anything but nondescript rooms of x by y size, this game gets crazy interesting really, really fast. The environment chapter is full of all kinds of crazy-amazing little things that spice up...everything. :O

Heck, even just taking standard bestiary creatures and mixing them up in unique and interesting ways can be incredibly challenging. Especially if you consider things like ecologies and/or why creatures are where they are and act like they're living creatures who want to go on living.

I'd say you're both correct. Sean is right that the game is tipped heavily in the players' favor if everything is run as written. Encounters are almost never written or designed with great resources given to the enemy, and yes while the environment chapter comes up with some great things... how many APs or other prewritten encounters have you seen that make much use of them? While they dress it up with flavor text and some props more often than not, most of the prewritten game does take place in various X by Y rooms (or flat open terrain). It's just described and decorated in a way that makes that less obvious than older-edition-era modules did.

If the GM has the time, knowledge, and ability to add those things, then yes, things move back towards the less-cakewalk end of the spectrum, and in a way that is interesting rather than the running-into-a-brick-wall that is just throwing a stupidly over-APL challenge at them and watching it thrash the room with the party. But a great many GMs either lack the knowledge that such things exist in the game - I can say for myself that I haven't ever actually read the environment section of the core rulebook or 3.5's PHB or DMG for that matter either, only referencing it bits at a time whenever something called for it as needed - or don't have the time to put such an encounter together or the experience to know how to do so properly and in a way that is interesting rather than frustrating.

And since GMs who are operating under those sorts of constraints - especially the time one - tend to rely heavily on prewritten encounters and APs and modules, which don't tend to make use of those sorts of advantages in the monsters' and enemies' favor, it leads to the vicious cycle of advantage resting firmly in the PCs' court.


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I mostly just mean if you're following the rules as they are, the game's pretty brutal. I mean, there's tons of dangerous stuff, and lots of monsters are really dangerous. This is doubly so for iconic monsters like basilisks, mummies, but also just generally applies to monsters that are actually using their strengths.

Let's take the average Tiger. Most of its statistics are fairly modest for a CR 4 creature (especially in terms of defense). If you just drop it onto the field and be like 8bit theater's random "we're monsters, lets fight" joke, then this isn't even a fight really so much as it's just animal abuse.

However, let's look at the tiger for a moment.
1. Their ecology puts them in forests and places likely to have tall grass.
2. Tigers have a rather impressive Stealth skill (+7) that gets better in their habitat (+11).
3. The normal rules for Perception make the tiger's Stealth effectively +1 better for every 10 ft. between the tiger and its prey.
4. Tigers have scent and a very high Survival skill, allowing them to track and stalk prey for quite a while.
5. Tigers have pounce and are quite physically strong in terms of Strength.
6. Tigers have low-light vision in forests (where dim lighting can be a frequent norm).

Suddenly, this tiger is actually a scary creature. You're very likely to never notice the tiger is stalking you until it's too late. If it waits until it's only it's movement speed away from you (40 ft.) so it can charge during the surprise round, it's sitting at what is effectively a +11-15 effective Stealth. If it's taking 10, the DC to notice the tiger is about 21-25. At 4th level, that's still a pretty hard sell for most PCs.

At this point, the tiger opens combat and probably 1-shots somebody during the surprise round with its full attack + rake routine thanks to pounce. It'll probably go for the weakest looking individuals. After downing someone, the tiger will likely grab its downed prey and run off with them instead of continuing the fight.

This is how tigers actually hunt people in places like the Sunderbans. It's scary, it's effective. All we did was to have a tiger act like a tiger instead of a bag of HP.

This is kind of what I mean by the game being really hard. Unless you are actively making your NPCs and/or adventures dumb, there is much that threatens the safety of the party.

When we start getting into supernatural powers that many common, even low-CR enemies have, it starts getting even scarier.


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Similarly, imagine what happens when antagonists use their defenses intelligently. For example, the badguys presumably know where their traps are set and placed. So what happens when the badguys use that knowledge?

Even if it's just a 15 x 30 room and is otherwise nondescript, the addition of a pit trap in the room changes everything. If your enemy's shaman is standing behind it, when you rush him, you can very likely fall inside (likely removing you from the fight at large and allowing enemies to poke at you with ranged attacks from the edges).

What if there are spikes in the floor activated by stepping on the foorplates? The enemies know where these are but the PCs don't, and can use that to their advantage. So the PCs either have to follow the steps of the NPCs to make sure they don't get stabbed or they have to risk it and hope their Reflex saves are going to save 'em.

Even just having a mixed group of enemies act with simple, obvious tactics can make for a wonderfully brilliant encounter! For example, if you have a cleric and mage antagonist working together, the cleric commands a bunch of skeletal critters while the mage drops negative energy and cold spells all over the party knowing that the skeletons are immune to them. You can switch it up and make them burning skeletons and the mage can chuck fireballs instead. Suddenly the party's morale is going to falter quickly as the artillery can ruthlessly strike them with no considerations for friendly fire. (o_O)

Want to know what's surprisingly frightening even at mid to high levels? Magic missile. If your enemies have some low CR mages (like 3rd level NPC wizards) who chuck lots of magic missiles around, it can make you really nervous really fast. Sure, 2d4+2 isn't so bad when you're like 6th-8th level. However, 6d4+6 is a lot scarier, and when you have literally no hope of defending against the attack, knowing that those little wizardly bastards can chuck that out virtually every round of the fight is really scary for whomever is being harassed by it.

That actually happened to one of the PCs in the game Aratrok was playing. If my brother had've been playing a Fighter instead of a Paladin, he would have just strait up died from magic missile spam from these three goblin sorcerers (one of which was "Jum-Jum" prior to his surrender).


I've heard that GMs that go heavy on traps often fall prey to a DM vs Player mentality. Thoughts?

My favorite example are kobold lairs. Where better to go heavy on the traps than a kobold lair (places my players hate going). Trap happy little mining dragons, you'd think a race that gives dwarves a run for their money in the "underground lair" department, would utilize vicious architecture. Hell, Kobold bloodlined Sorcerers alone tended to terrify my players.

High-ceiling room, various pit traps lined with spikes, coupled with pressure plates that trigger deadfall boulders to fall into said pits? What about the classic 5-ft wide corridor full of rough terrain with scythe blades & poison arrows along the length of it? How about a down-ward slanted 5ft wide corridor with scythe blades along the walls, poison arrows firing along the length in front, rough terrain with spiked pit + deadfall traps and indana-jones styled rolling boulder?

Which brings me to my next question.. Why do so many DMs not design better traps, much less use the basic ones unless they're in an AP?


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Artemis Moonstar wrote:
I've heard that GMs that go heavy on traps often fall prey to a DM vs Player mentality. Thoughts?

That could happen, but honestly the GM vs player mentality is something that could happen in more or less any sense. As a GM, you most certainly can kill your PCs and can easily do it with standard bestiary fare. It's not even a question but just a matter of how you want to go about doing it.

(A particularly distressing encounter for even mid-level parties would be a small den of basilisks and some shadows. You're making lots of saves each round vs being a lawn ornament, if you ignore the shadows you're going to die unless you've got death ward active on everyone.)

I think my results are typically good because ultimately I'm rooting for the PCs (even if most of the time it would appear from my encounters that I'm trying my damnedest to murder them all :P).

Quote:

My favorite example are kobold lairs. Where better to go heavy on the traps than a kobold lair (places my players hate going). Trap happy little mining dragons, you'd think a race that gives dwarves a run for their money in the "underground lair" department, would utilize vicious architecture. Hell, Kobold bloodlined Sorcerers alone tended to terrify my players.

High-ceiling room, various pit traps lined with spikes, coupled with pressure plates that trigger deadfall boulders to fall into said pits? What about the classic 5-ft wide corridor full of rough terrain with scythe blades & poison arrows along the length of it? How about a down-ward slanted 5ft wide corridor with scythe blades along the walls, poison arrows firing along the length in front, rough terrain with spiked pit + deadfall traps and indana-jones styled rolling boulder?

My players have attained a...healthy respect for kobolds. :3

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Which brings me to my next question.. Why do so many DMs not design better traps, much less use the basic ones unless they're in an AP?

If I were to take a guess it's because most aren't really encouraged to get creative with them and since traps have CRs like creatures they fall into the same trap (no pun intended) that GMs do with monsters. This idea that a single trap in a hallway is a good encounter (it's really not).

This has very quickly led to a popular opinion amongst the d20 community that traps are weak and boring, slow down the game by making PCs crawl through a dungeon at a snail's pace looking for traps and having to spend entire sessions in round to round time.

However, I believe that the elements of making good traps is to use them in conjunction with other challenges (even other traps in some cases as you can make some elaborate Indiana-style traps by combining multiple lower-CR traps and/or creatures) which can make them exciting and fun.

For example, in the final battle with Seliex, her summon monster traps keep spawning adds into the fight, changing the dynamic of the fight. If left unmolested, the trap will drown the PCs in elementals which will result in almost certain failure of the PCs (summon monster every round, each elemental lasts almost two minutes, before long you're up to your armpits in elementals while also fighting a dragon). But the traps in the encounter can be located and destroyed by the PCs and is something the PCs will probably have their best chances to do between phases of fighting the wyrm (such as when she burrows away to heal or rebuff, the PCs might turn their attention to wiping remaining elementals and destroying the traps).


I am really looking forward to the write up as a whole.

What stops the PCs for winning solely by binding a small army of outsiders.

A bunch of lantern archons can really hurt her.

What prevents the ever increasing snow cone wish machine? What makes it less then useful?

As a player I do not do these things but I always have to wonder why my character does not when it would be so much more effective.


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Mathius wrote:

I am really looking forward to the write up as a whole.

What stops the PCs for winning solely by binding a small army of outsiders.

A bunch of lantern archons can really hurt her.

She can also hurt a bunch of lantern archons. :P

For example, lantern archons have less than 15 Hp, and her lair is filled with fog, and she can unleash a freezing fog that deals 2d6 damage / round. This makes this a very bad place for said archons as hitting her with ranged attacks is a poor prospect (total concealment unless they are also within range of all her attacks and in her cold aura) and merely being inside her lair will kill them in a couple of rounds unless someone decided to cast resist energy (cold) on every archon to be involved. Even then, if any of them get caught in her 60 ft. cone breath weapon, it's lights out (oh look, a pun :3)!

They'll pretty much just die without her even bothering to fight the archons themselves. The fact that old dragons are surprisingly stealthy (maxed ranks in Stealth) and fog permeates her lair, most trash-minions aren't even going to be able to keep track of her before they're nuked down by AoEs.

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What prevents the ever increasing snow cone wish machine? What makes it less then useful?

Generally speaking, as a great wyrm she has a pretty solid spell resistance and saving throws, combined with 13th level spellcasting which allots her a very respectable line of additional defenses. This means that most of the common simulacra tactics (such as lots of mini-me wizards spamming touch-attacks) have issues.

Now (one of) the big problem(s) with simulacrum is that unlike in 3.x, you do not need a piece of the critter to be copied, which means there's not really anything stopping you from getting some +CasterLevel boosts and making a Nocticula. Simulacrum is one of those spells that gets stronger with every "bigger" monster printed because the spell is badly written.

Unfortunately, this is less a problem with high level play as it is with simulacrum itself. It pains me to say it but either the group should decide on either a revised version of the spell, a gentleman's agreement, or accept the fact that she's also a 13th level caster and the GM can play that game too (and unfortunately, as much as I love simulacrum as a tool and plot device, "Pathfinder: The Clone Wars" isn't really much fun).

There's a reason that I consider simulacrum to be by and far the absolute strongest spell in the game (and wrote a revised version for Wraithstrike).

Having said that, if your players aren't going nuts with epic statblocks and such...

The largest weaknesses that snow-babies and god-slaves have is they tend to be fairly limited in certain statistics such as HD, and their saving throws are generally a lot worse. Combined with the fact that most people aren't going to have the cash to outfit their minions with up-to-par gear, this tends to mean that they are very vulnerable to sweeper tactics. Large amounts of AoE damage, crowd control effects (like mass-hold spells, black tentacles, etc), and mook-sweepers (circle of death, blasphemy, wail of the banshee, dismissal, banishment, cloudkill, etc).

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As a player I do not do these things but I always have to wonder why my character does not when it would be so much more effective.

Simulacrum's the big worrier. Typically speaking, planar binding isn't going to ruin the encounter either (even greater planar binding) and might be a good idea.

Of course, if you forget how to math and follow Paizo's FAQ nonsense, she could just cast antimagic field and brutally savage the entire party without recourse unless the party's spellcaster happens to get a lucky shot off with a prismatic spell, roll a bad thing, and have the dragon fail her save. Otherwise, she is going to destroy the party with little to no chance of them surviving because she's a gargantuan dragon and the moment she closes into melee with anyone they're monkies.

The actual rules for the spell prevent this sort of abuse, because stuff that is too big and bad to fit inside the sphere can't really use it to much advantage. However, since Paizo forgot how to math, it's basically an auto-win vs most parties if they happen to also be within her lair (remember that you cannot effectively use spells with the teleportation subschool in her lair because of the teleport trap that ****s you over, which means if she pops antimagic field, you better run your life-loving legs off and hope she eats one of the useless members of the group, like the fighter or rogue).


(It's worth noting: I actually like their new AMF rules. Yeah, they're terrifying and deadly... but I do like that.)


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Tacticslion wrote:
(It's worth noting: I actually like their new AMF rules. Yeah, they're terrifying and deadly... but I do like that.)

I'm probably just being OCD but as a player and a GM, I find this problematic from a balance perspective as much as I find it frustrating from knowing what a "radius" is. >_>

The thing is, there's basically no real way to fight a dragon other than being a specific kind of caster with a very specific kind of spell which involves SR and a saving throw, and requires this to happen before the dragon gets to you.

For illustration, let's look at a great wyrm white dragon. This is it naked. Admittedly at the CR 18 range it's a nice monster but it's not the end all be all when compared to even 15th level PCs and their resources and it'll need to do some buffing and such (mage armor, shield, the usual stuff) and the PCs can tank its attacks (+35 is great, but at that level you can have ACs in the low 50s to 60s if you're a tank, and your mages have DR 10/adamantine, mirror images, displacements, etc).

However, the moment antimagic field enters into the equation, all of that changes. All of it goes away. It's no longer a challenging fight with a white wyrm as it brings to bear its mobility, trickery, and selective brute savagery. It's a slaughter. The dragon is simultaneously immune to 99% of all magic and turns off the magic for anyone it gets near, which means fights go like this.

1. Dragon rushes any party member.
2. Upon getting into melee range, party member immediately loses all magic item powers, buffs, inspire courage, and anything magical (including SLAs, SUs, or Psi). This means the PC likely just lost virtually all of their AC (their AC is now 10 + mundane armor + mundane shield = maybe 24 at best), their saves? All hosed. Their ability scores? -6 from what they were before. They lose -5 to hit and damage plus another -3 from ability score loss, they lose an extra attack from haste, their divine power shuts down, they lose 60 HP (-6 Con), their saves drop by about 8 points (-5 resistance, -3 abilities). They lose about -12 to their CMD (-5 deflection, -3 Str, -3 Dex).
3. The dragon attacks and auto-succeeds. The dragon uses its Snatch feat and auto-grapples his foe. At which point you can just write that PC of, he's doomed. The dragon continues this rampage.

At this point, the only way that the party can actually fight back against the dragon is if and only if the party's mage was not the one gobbled up and the mage has specifically prepared prismatic sphere or prismatic wall and relies on the dragon running into either of them, and even then they allow a SR and saving throws.

I originally thought prismatic spray would work but it doesn't have the special feature of ignoring antimagic like the sphere and wall do (presumably so you can use them as blockades).

I can't reasonably accept this because it's not really conductive to good gameplay. It's uninteresting, it's not exciting, it's incredibly one-sided, and it wildly throws off the difficulty of the creature in question.

Admittedly, Aratrok isn't quite as pessimistic as I am about it but I've ran a few dragons in my time and I feel entirely certain that if I were to run a dragon as even a dumb beast, antimagic field would most likely result in a few PC deaths if not a party wipe. And not because of bad luck or bad planning, but merely because a dragon that is immune to magic and turns off nearby magic will just roll over anything it comes across.


AMF is truly terrifying if placed on to melee machine (like a dragon). Having it radiate 10 feet from her would be horrific.

I am glad we agree on Sim being a problem.

I have no problem with the PCs binding a few outsiders help.

I worry more about them finding a way to chain bind.

Bind a genie and then have it bind 3 more and so one. If you give him the task of binding 4 more genies to you he can likely pull it of in the time limit. From there it is exponential growth of bound genies. The last iteration binds 10K outsiders to your service.

My personal house rules to binding would be that you can not bind more then twice you level in outsiders to your service at any given time and bound outsiders can bind other outsiders to their (or your service).


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Mathius wrote:

AMF is truly terrifying if placed on to melee machine (like a dragon). Having it radiate 10 feet from her would be horrific.

I am glad we agree on Sim being a problem.

I have no problem with the PCs binding a few outsiders help.

I worry more about them finding a way to chain bind.

Bind a genie and then have it bind 3 more and so one. If you give him the task of binding 4 more genies to you he can likely pull it of in the time limit. From there it is exponential growth of bound genies. The last iteration binds 10K outsiders to your service.

My personal house rules to binding would be that you can not bind more then twice you level in outsiders to your service at any given time and bound outsiders can bind other outsiders to their (or your service).

Generally speaking, djinn aren't particularly great at planar binding. Even though you can get them to mimic magic circle, dimensional anchor, and finally planar binding in sequence, the djinn's the caster for all intents and purposes so the djinn's the one that has to exert control over the newly bound creature.

You could skip the first two spells but that can lead to some crazy outsiders deciding to press their luck against you, which at least wastes your time.

Honestly though, putting a cap on how many critters can be bound to you would be reasonable. Given that summons cannot summon, there's even a sort of precedent for reduced conjuration-opportunity when it comes to chain-summoning/calling.


What if being too big just made it so that you are the only one effected by the AMF. You get immunity to magic but others do not have theirs turned off.

Also can't a gargantuan creature at least get herself in the AMF? I realize that 20 sphere is smaller then a 20 foot cube but..


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Mathius wrote:
AMF is truly terrifying if placed on to melee machine (like a dragon). Having it radiate 10 feet from her would be horrific.

A melee machine that also flies faster than magic, swims, burrows, and sprints faster than a horse. A melee machine with a monstrous attack routine, fearful damage output vs a magicless putz, and DR 20/magic to boot (you don't have a magic sword? Aw, so sad).

It also has full usage of feats like Snatch (uh-oh). Hell, it could literally just snatch someone up and drag them underwater and let them drown / freeze to death while pinned in her mouth. Again, because there is no defense against this if you have no magic. Water breaks line of effect for magic so either you go into the water after your friend and let the dragon kill you, or you...wait to die as well?

Hmmm...


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Mathius wrote:

What if being too big just made it so that you are the only one effected by the AMF. You get immunity to magic but others do not have theirs turned off.

Also can't a gargantuan creature at least get herself in the AMF? I realize that 20 sphere is smaller then a 20 foot cube but..

That would be less of a problem. *ponders*

Still, caster / martial disparity aside, it'd be really lame to finally reach the final big bad and be unable to do anything to them if you're a sorcerer or something.


Make AMF more like obscuring mist? It does not move with you?

Hell, I think making areas magic free would be more fun all around. Pit traps are far more interesting when feather fall will not work and you actually have to climb back out.


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Ashiel wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:
(It's worth noting: I actually like their new AMF rules. Yeah, they're terrifying and deadly... but I do like that.)
Well-thought-out-stuff.

Oh, I'm fully aware of the problems - as I've said in the past, you and I play very different games.

(I read your posts on game theory and play the same way some people read poetry or watch figure skating - then I just go out and enjoy my roller blades and write trashy fan-fiction.)

The thing is, I like that it does what it's kind of "supposed" to do now. It brings a terrifying and dangerous new dynamic.

(Similarly, the use of "radius" is problematic, but it's a term that they're kind of stuck with, as it does still function that way in math, and it's otherwise partially similar to being "stuck" with "atheist" - instead of "dytheistic" or "misothestic" - or similar other statements. It's kind of inherited in the spell language and it's going to be really, really difficult to sell different language to folk. That said, it's totally a stealth errata... there's a lot of things that interact via minutiae, and subtle other things that I'm aware cause lots of problems for most folks. I just like it. Not suggesting that it's good. XD)


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<snip>

This is how tigers actually hunt people in places like the Sunderbans. It's scary, it's effective. All we did was to have a tiger act like a tiger instead of a bag of HP.

This is kind of what I mean by the game being really hard. Unless you are actively making your NPCs and/or adventures dumb, there is much that threatens the safety of the party.

Which comes right back to my point. How many pre-written adventures can you name where these kinds of tactics and resources are actually used and/or advised? Off the top of my head really only one or two - the first chapters of Kingmaker and Serpent's Skull.

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