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Klara Meison wrote:
How do you keep your GMing notes? Do you write them by hand, print them, or just use a laptop?

I don't have a laptop (just my desktop) but I feel it's the superior GM tool if one's available for tabletop note keeping. It allows you to keep piles and piles of notes, statblocks, and even books at your fingertips, and can even have spiffy tools like dice rollers, or generators (treasure generators like the one on Archives of Nethys are especially great).

I, however, use printed notes and such when I'm tabletop GMing, and will make current notes by hand (such as tracking round effects, or making little notes I'd like to remember later).

When I'm GMing online (which is what I do most of the time on MapTools), note-taking will be done on .txt files, or even taken directly on tokens. I created a very short demo for this in pdf format to introduce a few friends to some of the features and things I like to use in MapTools: Maptools Demo.

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What do you make notes of?

I suck at remembering names, so I'll usually try to make notes of those. I might also make notes of ideas I have while the game is going on, if the PCs give me an idea for a side-event or new direction for the game. If the game has to paused in the middle of something (like combat) I'll make a general note of where the combat left off (like initiative order, current initiative, etc).

I'll also sometimes make notes of throwaway NPCs who seem to be making a shift to recurring NPCs.

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Do you use pre-generated unique NPCs if players decide to ask someone for help you haven't thought of(e.g. a player asks if there are any animal shelters in town, and you suddenly need an animal shelter leader), or do you make them up on the spot?

Both, actually. I like making NPCs ahead of time if possible, especially if they're themed, complex, or represent some sort of typical member of something in my campaign (such as a specific order, cult, or nationality).

Here's some NPC notes from my campaign, and here's some NPC notes from a specific portion of a campaign.

But since I've been at this GMing thing for a long time, a lot of NPCs are generated in my head on the fly. Simply because after a while the general statistics of things become kind of hard-coded into your brain. You can quickly generate things like a 6th level warrior in your head or with a calculator, or quickly add a few class levels to a monster on the fly with little prep. You can always go back and add more details later.

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What main attractions do you usually make notes of when heroes are supposed to enter a town?

Depends on how much time I have for prepping but generally I'll note any outstanding businesses or sights that travelers would be able to quickly find due to things like signs, such as public temples, inns, and/or a few businesses. In recent years I've generally skipped businesses unless it's a very small town, since there's likely to be multiple professionals scattered about a settlement.

When on Maptools, if I have some time to prep, I enjoy scattering little descriptive buttons around on the map to add little details that the players can click on and check out themselves.


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>But since I've been at this GMing thing for a long time, a lot of NPCs are generated in my head on the fly. Simply because after a while the general statistics of things become kind of hard-coded into your brain.

I was talking less about combat statistics and more about personality traits and character. Three adjectives that describe an NPC, so to speak, and make them easilly identifiable. For example, a guard party just met near the gates might be [one-legged, grumpy, with a spanish accent]


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How would you create a believable villain that wanted to destroy the world?


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Klara Meison wrote:

>But since I've been at this GMing thing for a long time, a lot of NPCs are generated in my head on the fly. Simply because after a while the general statistics of things become kind of hard-coded into your brain.

I was talking less about combat statistics and more about personality traits and character. Three adjectives that describe an NPC, so to speak, and make them easilly identifiable. For example, a guard party just met near the gates might be [one-legged, grumpy, with a spanish accent]

Ohhh. I usually just make those sorts of things up on the spot for NPCs I didn't build ahead of time. I have an interest in psychology (mostly 'cause I wanted to understand myself better and it escalated from there) which I think helps a number of my NPCs to feel more organic, which also means that I have at least a loose concept or framework to work with if a throwaway NPC becomes a main character.

For example, Victoria, whom I've mentioned a few times on the boards was a sort of throwaway NPC. She was the right hand and assassin of the vampire lord Vandread. She was proud, kind of motherly, and also really harsh when administering discipline to the other vampires, and she also happened to be transgendered. The majority of these things didn't have anything to do with her attempting to off the party and the ensuing beatdown she received, but they were tied to some of her mannerisms, insecurities, and strengths.

For example, the reason she was so harsh on the other vampires she was managing was because if she didn't keep order then she lost favor with Vandread or could be at risk of punishment herself. She was kind of motherly because she's actually a bit of a softy underneath all the bleakness piled onto her life and tried to take care of the others in her coven. She also had a lot of self-esteem issues, particularly as it pertained to holding onto Vandread's favor (being his favorite minion/lover was more or less all she had to hang on to in her unlife, since she was bound to remain in the coven).

One question leads to another and in a couple of minutes you have a rich backstory to just about any character. In fact, after a while, it's not hard to take any random NPC and in a single string of thoughts make a passably rich character out of them.


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Klara Meison wrote:
How would you create a believable villain that wanted to destroy the world?

"Very carefully". :P

Joking aside, you'd need a reason the character wanted to destroy the world. Off the top of my head, some decent reasons would be.

1. Religious fanatic trying to bring about an end-time prophecy in servant to what they believe to be the will off the gods.

2. Isn't interested in destroying the world so much as changing it. They may believe that the current state of the world is irrevocably doomed or failed and they intend to "reset" the world to give rise to something new.

3. The world destruction is a side-effect of something else they are trying to achieve. Maybe a planar entity drops the tarrasque into a world, not because they're trying to destroy the world but because they were tired of dealing with it themselves.

4. The character is trying to collect enough soul energy to achieve godhood and sees the sacrifice of billions to be the necessary eggs for this omelet. Maybe they even believe that upon achieving godhood that they will be able to undue the cataclysm they're starting. Maybe they're wrong and it won't make them a god at all.

5. The villain is actually a sentient or semi-sentient being of entropy and destruction, its will is to be properly brought into the world. At places where great tragedies have occurred, a sliver of its being resides in the area. Shadows, the seemingly malevolent monsters that often seem unreasonable and hating of all things living, lurk around these places. These are souls who have glimpsed the being's true form and now guard these places ruthlessly to prevent people from wandering into these places and the seed taking root in their hearts and granting this comsmic entity a vessel in which to walk the earth (so the shadows drive living creatures back with the utmost fervor or force them to join their vigil).

Off the top of my head. I'm sure there could be many others.


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6. The character decides to sell out their world. A powerful diabolist or demoniac who intends to unleash hell unto the world in exchange for power and privilege in the new order.


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Heh, I figured such a bad guy is either crazy, or has a place to be after.


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Kryzbyn wrote:
Heh, I figured such a bad guy is either crazy, or has a place to be after.

Yep. The point is "end of the world" should probably not be the reason so much as the ends to the reason. Find a reason and you can begin making a character who feels believable, even if they are themselves fairly unreasonable in their extremism.

For example, even if they decided that the whole of the material plane was a bad thing and that these mistakes of imperfect gods needed to be erased, in a sort of extreme proactive nihilism, you've got a foundation for motivation and mindset of the bad guy. This means that you won't run into the classic cartoon villainy where someguy is like "Now I will destroy the world!", "But...why?", "Um...that's what villains do, right?" scenario.

I'd personally advise less against destroying the world in a literal sense and downplay it a bit. Frame "destroying the world" as undoing the status quo, especially the good bits, for some reason and it immediately seems super believable. For example, if your campaign has a country or center of power that acts as the ruling body for the known civilized world, a villain who intended to bring it to ruin could throw everyone back countless years in prosperity, culture, and knowledge.

And something like that can be predicated on vices as simple as greed.


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I had a villain "destroy the world" by ending the current pantheon of gods. He was b~%#@#! crazy, and a god himself. He thought he'd survive his machinations intact, but nope...
World wasn't literally destroyed, but most divine magic was irreparably harmed, along with other "Oh, there's no gods?" shenanigans.
The current gods became immortal demi-gods, and just...moved on. They weren't connected to their portfolios in a black and white manner any more, and were basically just native outsiders with the alignment they had as gods.
The over deity made up for it by sparking a % of the population with psionics. Post game, things went nuts for a while :)


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Have you ever played a fighter? Have you ever tried to make a villain in one of your campaigns a fighter?


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Ashiel wrote:
5. The villain is actually a sentient or semi-sentient being of entropy and destruction, its will is to be properly brought into the world. At places where great tragedies have occurred, a sliver of its being resides in the area. Shadows, the seemingly malevolent monsters that often seem unreasonable and hating of all things living, lurk around these places. These are souls who have glimpsed the being's true form and now guard these places ruthlessly to prevent people from wandering into these places and the seed taking root in their hearts and granting this comsmic entity a vessel in which to walk the earth (so the shadows drive living creatures back with the utmost fervor or force them to join their vigil).

On the note of shadows, I also quite like how the Tome of Necromancy handles them (though it's notably less apocalyptic, it does give you a justification for them not chewing through the world's population in an interesting way).

"Tome of Necromancy - New Rules wrote:


Pools of Deep Shadow
Veteran players of Dungeons and Dragons often ask "Why don't Shadows just take over the whole world?" Certainly, there are very few residents of the worlds of D&D that can fight against a Shadow at all, and their victims rise from the dead as Shadow Spawn, so it doesn't take a lot of imagination to see where this is going. However, there are a few things limiting the growth of Shadow armies that are not mentioned in the core books at all.

The first is that only intelligent creatures slain by Shadows turn into spawn. That's important, as it means that Shadows cannot simply hunt frogs in the swamp until they number in the tens of thousands before they roll over cities and dragon caves like a fog of Death Incarnate.

But perhaps even more importantly is that almost any time you see a Shadow, or for that matter any incorporeal undead creature, you are looking at a summoned creature. When the Shadow's summoning ends, all of its spawn vanish. Most of the time, an incorporeal undead is summoned forth from the Negative Energy Plane by an object that looks much like a puddle of very oily water, called a Pool of Deep Shadow. Whenever light falls directly upon the pool, or the sun rises high enough in the sky that there are no shadows (about half an hour before and after noon), the summoning effect ends and the Shadow vanishes. When the shadows grow long and darkness has fallen upon the pool, a Shadow is again summoned.

This means that an individual Shadow or Wraith has a very difficult time destroying the whole world, as there is no particular way for them to get more than a day's float from their pool. It also means, however, that areas inhabited by Shadows are extremely dangerous – for even if such a creature is destroyed it will return again the following day. And on every day it will return until those charged with exterminating it are caught unlucky or unaware. In order to permanently destroy such a pool, a flask of Holy Water (or Unholy Water) need simply be poured into it, causing the blackness to depart and the water to become quite clear and drinkable.


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Klara Meison wrote:
Have you ever played a fighter? Have you ever tried to make a villain in one of your campaigns a fighter?

Three times. Lizardfolk fighter with a towershield. I was pretty new, and I died cus the paladin abandoned me.

Human spear fighter. Boring as hell, ended up playing a necromancer instead.

Human fighter/Hellknight. More fun, cus of the hellknight bit, but I was in Council of thieves, where 90% of the enemies are Rogues. Fighter's wet dream. Course then nonsense happened that messed it up for me but yeah.

As for make a villainous fighter? Yes. And they were threatening... Purely because they were a death knight against a knife throwing halfling :p.

So yeah, making a fighter threatening cus they're a fighter, um... good luck.


For me, a few in d20:
- converted 2E bard (required fighter as part of the build); he owned, but that wasn't really the fighter, and it was an early foray into 3e, so probably lots of wrong favorable rulings as we found out we'd done that a lot; 3e
- okay, I can't remember this one, but he was a fighter! Unmemorable, I guess! 3e
- a sort-of fighter "generic class" warrior character; bland but solid, though not a superstar... high wisdom but really struggled to stay undominated (and eventually just submitted to being perma-dominated by good Arcanist so her charisma would oppose the things instead of the will suck; 3e? 3.5?
- a gestalt fighter-bard guy; literally rocked, but was due to bardic stuff (in both meanings of "rocked"); 3.5
- a fighter GMC; actually surprisingly solid, but mostly just because we had twelve characters and a few dedicated buffers - not a superstar; 3.5
- a generic warrior class; superstar (but also had magical abilities, due to the system rules, soooo...); Blue Rose
- a gestalt fighter-rogue; a ton of fun, but only because of the group dynamic and permissive rulings - the guy wasn't really powerful, but got a few solid hits in plus sneak attack for high damage; PF
- a fighter in a PbP; I loved playing him, but... he didn't really do all that much, despite my best efforts - I RP'd the daylight out of him, spent most things on skills, and had a blast, despite getting confused in the first battle, and getting punk'd by a rock slide despite rolling well; PF

In GMing, I've seen a lot of fighters and rogues struggle; I've felt it, too, without dedicated buffers/support casters. It's surprisingly easy to accidentally invalidate a character because you incidentally chose or rolled something that <specific build> couldn't handle, because they didn't take the specific feats a fighter has to have. We've always had solid buffers, so it wasn't that much of a problem... but I'm the conjurer, so it could be an issue with that or a blaster mage.


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Klara Meison wrote:
Have you ever played a fighter?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, one of the characters I played during the Pathfinder Beta was a Fighter. I'd like to remake her as a Ranger one day.

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Have you ever tried to make a villain in one of your campaigns a fighter?

Maybe a long time ago. I can't recall any off the top of my head because the Warrior NPC class does all I need from Fighters and they're faster to build.


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>I can't recall any off the top of my head because the Warrior NPC class does all I need from Fighters and they're faster to build.

Does that mean that you had Warrior villains?


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Klara Meison wrote:

>I can't recall any off the top of my head because the Warrior NPC class does all I need from Fighters and they're faster to build.

Does that mean that you had Warrior villains?

Yep. Sure have. Now, when you say villain, do you necessarily mean BBEG or any villain? As it turns out, CR for CR, if you're going to create a humanoid brute that's going to be challenging, the warrior class has your back, while being pretty simple to build. Like a fighter they can be very gear or buddy-reliant to avoid being dismantled by CC and such, but they're physically powerful enough that they demand a certain level of respect for their threat, and when supported by minions can be quite formidable.

NPC-class gishes, such as multiclassed warrior/adepts are also very simple to build quickly and can be pretty versatile as well. For example, if we began with a level in a heroic class, like say barbarian (setting our base CR at 1/2 w/ heroic point buy), adding NPC levels until up to CR 10, a warrior/adept (assuming an even split of levels) would get 90+(ConModx2) Hp , +15 BAB, +10 Fort, +6 Ref, +10 Will, 40+(IntModx2) skill points, +10 feats, a familiar, and would cast up to 3rd level spells at CL 10th, which include such beauties as see invisibility, animate dead, resist energy, mirror image, protection from *alignment, invisibility, darkness, deeper darkness, scorching ray (mixed with a high BAB = super accurate). They cast them as divine spells so they ignore arcane spell failure as well.

They also have access to some surprisingly great spells at later or levels or via magic items like scrolls/wands. For example, they get spells like polymorph (which looks pretty good on a chassis with so much BAB), stoneskin, wall of fire, break enchantment, heal, true seeing, and wall of stone.

Little in the way of class features but you really don't need them.


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I'm also a big fan of dropping NPC and prestige class levels on monstrous NPCs as well to quickly distinguish them from their peers. For example, if we're running a low-mid level game, grab a few garden variety lizardfolk to be the normal lizardfolk dudes, but for the some of the elite lizardfolk, dropping a couple levels of warrior or adept on them can tweak 'em just enough to make them seem different enough at the table.

Some monsters can qualify for prestige classes without even trying. For example, any monster that casts spells as a particular class (such as azata casting bard spells, or drider and rakshasa casting as sorcerers) are likely to qualify for things like Eldritch Knight or Arcane Archer immediately. Asssassin is a prestige class that monsters and NPCs can easily qualify for as well since it's primarily behind skill-ranks as a wall (this also means monsters and NPC-classed characters can qualify for it in earlier CR brackets because they have more HD and thus skill ranks than PCs of the same CR).


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>Now, when you say villain, do you necessarily mean BBEG or any villain?

That is a good question. I would say that for someone to be classified as a "villain" and not a "mook" or even "elite mook" they would have to be uniquely distinguishable and be more powerful than average. So, for example, a leader of a group of bandits or a general of an army could be a villain, while an officer in an army probably wouldn't be(there can be tens of officers after all), unless they are unique enough to matter(e.g. players have confronted them specifically previously)


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Eh, possibly then. The reason I asked is because BBEG often implies who's running the show, yet their sub-minions may actually be powerful characters themselves who are worthy mentions as epic villains.

From D&D, the lich-god Vecna had a vampire underling named Kas, who was his right hand dude until the vampire betrayed him and cut off his hand and gouged out his eye (though Vecna destroyed him, as I recall).

In a similar vein, Darth Sideous the Emperor would probably be the BBEG of the original Star Wars trilogy, but Darth Vader is definitely prime villain material (even more important than the BBEG himself).


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>who was his right hand dude until the vampire betrayed him and cut off his hand

Heh, nice one. "I am no longer your hand", get it?


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Klara Meison wrote:

>who was his right hand dude until the vampire betrayed him and cut off his hand

Heh, nice one. "I am no longer your hand", get it?

Hnnnnng. I lost a con point off that one.


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Icehawk wrote:
Klara Meison wrote:

>who was his right hand dude until the vampire betrayed him and cut off his hand

Heh, nice one. "I am no longer your hand", get it?

Hnnnnng. I lost a con point off that one.

You are welcome)


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Klara Meison wrote:

>who was his right hand dude until the vampire betrayed him and cut off his hand

Heh, nice one. "I am no longer your hand", get it?

Haha, wow, I didn't even think about that. XD


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Do you use DMPCs? If yes, how frequently? If no, why not?


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Actually, I might have asked this already before...


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Klara Meison wrote:
Do you use DMPCs? If yes, how frequently? If no, why not?

I have a few times by request of my group. I tend to run GMPCs like NPCs who happen to have the same sorts of gear and ongoing attachment to things as the rest of the PCs. To me there's not really a whole lot of difference between a GMPC and an NPC that tags along regularly with the party (and this seems to happen frequently enough since it gives faces to bounce roleplay off of when you're away from civilization an such).

I think where people typically go wrong with GMPCs is they think of them as their own character too much, or become too attached, or whatever. When you have some sort of bias concerning the character and their success, you're pretty much asking for trouble.


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Klara Meison wrote:
Actually, I might have asked this already before...

Sometimes framing the same question slightly differently gets a slightly different answer. Sometimes asking the same question at a later date gets a different answer, as new thoughts, ideas, and wisdom emerge.


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What do you like most about being a GM?


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Klara Meison wrote:
What do you like most about being a GM?

There's a lot of things that I enjoy about being a GM, but I think giving my players a good time is probably #1. A general list of things that I enjoy about GMing, in no particular order.

1. It's fun telling stories.
2. It's fun entertaining players.
3. It's fun to build encounters and stuff.
4. It's fun to get to make so many different characters.
5. It's fun to see what the players will come up with.
6. It's fun to see players get attached to NPCs, or care about IC things.
7. It's fun being the one who introduces new people to the game.
8. It's fun building treasure hordes.


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Ashiel wrote:
Klara Meison wrote:
What do you like most about being a GM?

There's a lot of things that I enjoy about being a GM, but I think giving my players a good time is probably #1. A general list of things that I enjoy about GMing, in no particular order.

1. It's fun telling stories.
2. It's fun entertaining players.
3. It's fun to build encounters and stuff.
4. It's fun to get to make so many different characters.
5. It's fun to see what the players will come up with.
6. It's fun to see players get attached to NPCs, or care about IC things.
7. It's fun being the one who introduces new people to the game.
8. It's fun building treasure hordes.

>1,2,3,5,8

So, essentially, you like being an immortal dragon with nothing to pass the time?


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Klara Meison wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Klara Meison wrote:
What do you like most about being a GM?

There's a lot of things that I enjoy about being a GM, but I think giving my players a good time is probably #1. A general list of things that I enjoy about GMing, in no particular order.

1. It's fun telling stories.
2. It's fun entertaining players.
3. It's fun to build encounters and stuff.
4. It's fun to get to make so many different characters.
5. It's fun to see what the players will come up with.
6. It's fun to see players get attached to NPCs, or care about IC things.
7. It's fun being the one who introduces new people to the game.
8. It's fun building treasure hordes.

>1,2,3,5,8

So, essentially, you like being an immortal dragon with nothing to pass the time?

Crap, I've been found out. O//O


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Ashiel wrote:
Klara Meison wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Klara Meison wrote:
What do you like most about being a GM?

There's a lot of things that I enjoy about being a GM, but I think giving my players a good time is probably #1. A general list of things that I enjoy about GMing, in no particular order.

1. It's fun telling stories.
2. It's fun entertaining players.
3. It's fun to build encounters and stuff.
4. It's fun to get to make so many different characters.
5. It's fun to see what the players will come up with.
6. It's fun to see players get attached to NPCs, or care about IC things.
7. It's fun being the one who introduces new people to the game.
8. It's fun building treasure hordes.

>1,2,3,5,8

So, essentially, you like being an immortal dragon with nothing to pass the time?

Crap, I've been found out. O//O

And do you know what we do with unregistered dragons around these parts?


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We wear their t-shirts?


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Give bro-hugs and tasty snacks?


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Hide the ketchup?


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Okay, am I the only one that finds it really freakin' awesome that Kryzbyn's and my own post (due to being posted at the same second) continually switch back and forth? 'Cause I find that awesome~! :D


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Yeah that's gotta be a one in a million sort of thing. :o


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Full of the awesome, we are...


Ashiel wrote:
Yeah that's gotta be a one in a million sort of thing. :o

It's, uh... it's happened to me three times...

(Now, once with one of the Anklebiters, and once at a time that I didn't even notice it. Wwweeeeiiiiirrrrd.)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Well, when you post as much as we do, the odds are fairly irrelevant.


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That is true, especially with multiple aliases...


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I wonder if you opened a thread in two different tabs, if you could reply to the same thread at the same time with your own account, quickly enough to make it bounce two of your own messages back and forth. (O.o)


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Tels wrote:
Hide the ketchup?

Exactly

*Steals the ketchup*

Ashiel wrote:
I wonder if you opened a thread in two different tabs, if you could reply to the same thread at the same time with your own account, quickly enough to make it bounce two of your own messages back and forth. (O.o)

I imagine Paizo has some sort of delay on the maximum speed at which the posts can be submitted by the same person. You can test it though.


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Ashiel wrote:
I wonder if you opened a thread in two different tabs, if you could reply to the same thread at the same time with your own account, quickly enough to make it bounce two of your own messages back and forth. (O.o)

It would be easier to use multiple devices. Phone/tablet/computer...


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What is your opinion on magic marts in particular and widespread magic in Pathfinder in general?


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Incoming summary (expected, anyway): "It's cool!"


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Klara Meison wrote:
What is your opinion on magic marts in particular and widespread magic in Pathfinder in general?
Tacticslion wrote:
Incoming summary (expected, anyway): "It's cool!"

Tactics hit it pretty closely, but to elaborate...

Summary
In my opinion they make fantasy worlds feel more rich, alive, and sensible. They set a clear distinction between common magic and the good stuff. They facilitate better gameplay and they make the GM's job easier, not harder. They make the lives of the less magically inclined better and allow for more flexibility in party compositions.

I like it for a number of reasons. Some from a narrative perspective, others from a gameplay perspective, and these often go hand in hand. So here are some reasons I think magic marts are a good thing, why I think they should be changed with caution, and some ideas for increasing or decreasing the levels of magic in your campaigns.

1. Firstly, D&D/Pathfinder is a game. It should never be forgotten. The primary reason to play this game is to have fun playing the game. The reason getting things like gold and treasures are fun is so you can do something with the gold and treasures. Without the ability to spend them to buy or create magic items, you might as well just say "The dragon's horde is filled with thirty thousand and fifty two oak leaves", because without something practical you can convert it to, gold has no value.

The simple fact is a big part of the fun for a lot of people is getting lots of treasure to get cool and powerful magical doodads to allow them to do cool stuff. This aspect is in fact so fun for a lot of people that Blizzard essentially made it the focal point for their Diablo series of games which have the "kill stuff and collect loot" refined to its zenith point.

There are good reasons for this too. Being able to use gold and treasures to buy magical equipment means not having to micro-manage every single treasure horde. Instead, you know that the gold can be easily converted back at points of civilization into minor magical items like scrolls, potions, elixirs, and minor arms and armors and such, which in turn means that you can focus on displaying the "special" items in the horde. It's a lot easier for players to get a horde that looks like this...

A +3 shocking short sword
A +2 light fortification armor
3,500 gp
25,000 sp
44,000 cp

Than one that looks like you vomited a 20th level character's inventory sheet onto the table. Players can grab the goodies if they want them, divide the liquid assets up and continue with the story.

2. Secondly, it's good for setting the tone. As Pathfinder presents magic marts, it sets a clear baseline for what's done by common hedge wizards and what is really epic shwag. By default, the most you can be reasonably assured to find for sale is stuff up to 16,000 gp and that's in the largest cities. That makes it very clear that the flame tongue sword you found is a true treasure upon treasures.

It simultaneously explains that yes, magic exists, people know it exists, and there is trade of magic as would be expected in any world where magic exists, while also making certain that there are magic items that are true wonders and to find or create one is a special thing indeed. Even in things like Lord of the Rings, which people often cite as an example of an idealized fantasy world with "low magic", there are so many magic rings in the world that Gandalf didn't even consider that Frodo's could be the ring.

3. It serves a mechanical purpose as well, giving a pretty clear indication on the sorts of things you should be able to expect from players based on what sorts of magical doodads they have. Some see this as a weakness of the system but I see it as a very potent strength of the system.

It makes it very clear what sort of items are appropriate for the game and at what levels, so you know that if you drop a +5 sword into a treasure horde at 3rd level, don't whine because the wielder suddenly starts roflstomping everything, or can't be hit by enemies in their +5 breastplate. Likewise, it sets a clear understanding that if you're bouncing around at 15th level and the best you've got is some +2 items, then the GM knows that enemies and challenges need to be pulled back a bit because you're not ready for them yet.

4. It makes it easy for the players to have some say in the way they want to build and play their characters. Same with item creation (which is indirectly tied to the idea of magic marts in that it's a system where wealth is transformed into power). It's much easier to be able to tell players what the purchase limit within a community is and let them pick things that they want with their treasures, which frees the GM up to work on things that matter like roleplaying NPCs, creating stories, and building encounters. Because, frankly, whether or not a town has a potion of bless weapon really doesn't matter as much as those other things do.

5. It actually helps game balance. Classes who aren't particularly good at creating magic items, and those who aren't particularly magical, NEED magic items and magic marts to function. You need to be able to purchase things like potions of lesser restoration, wands of cure light wounds, and magic items that let you do things like fly or water breathing.

I have seen, very frequently, GMs who tried to make the world more low-magic, remove "magic marts", and otherwise make the game like they insisted it was "supposed to be" and all it does is open up a cloud and sh** all over players. The less magical you are, the bigger the sh**storm.

In a game without magic marts, a party consisting of a Bard, Cleric, Druid, and Wizard will do just fine. They may even dominate because if the GM is being consistent, most of their foes will be poorly equipped to deal with them. Everyone else is screwed though. Paladins & Rangers can be less screwed at 7th level when they can start hammering out their own magic shwag, but it's not ideal.

6. Magic marts don't actually have to be some sort of single store or emporium that carries all the goodies. That works fine in things like Baldur's Gate where developers can't be bothered to drop tons of NPCs and such around the world with a million little shops or specialized dealers, so instead you get stuff like the "Adventurer's Mart" in Waukeens Promenade. But in D&D/Pathfinder, the community GP limits and such represent the entire community.

To put that into perspective, that means that while you're rummaging about in the grandest cities in the world, a metropolis, you're looking at everything that city has to offer. You're not walking into a shop and just picking a +2 sword off the shelf unless the GM explicitly frames it that way. Just that finding a +2 sword in said city is something that you can reasonable do without anything special going on, and interestingly, there's only an average of about 3 of those swords for sale in the whole city. A city of thousands of inhabitants and you'll find 3 swords of that kind on average between restocks. So you might go to a major magic dealer, or you might go to some sort of broker, like buying a house but for magic items, or you might have to go to a powerful church or wizard's college and make a "donation".

Get it? :)


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I mostly agree with what Ashiel has to say on the subject, but there are a few sticking points that need to be addressed, specifically with gold.

Having a basic currency set (read: copper, silver, gold, and platinum coins) that can be converted into personal power is fine. That's how you'd expect a world to work by default anyway- there's a huge personal power gap between someone whose most valuable possession is a sling they made out of a torn shirt and someone toting body armor and an automatic rifle. Not having a ceiling on the power you can gain from that currency causes narrative weirdness and poor mechanical incentives, however.

One of the few really nice things about older incarnations of D&D (like AD&D 2e) is that you really could acquire treasure hordes that were mind-bogglingly huge. You actually could go out and fight Smaug and claim a city stuffed to the brim with gold and jewels, and that alone wouldn't cause any significant balance problems. You could use that huge amount of wealth to do interesting stuff like building fortresses, raising armies, founding kingdoms, and so forth, but it didn't meaningfully impact personal power since you couldn't liquidate it for magic items- whether you found that horde at level 5 or level 15, it wouldn't much change whether an individual obstacle or encounter was challenging to you (though any magic items within might).

3rd edition's addition of WBL and expected power tied to the gold economy nuked that, though. Because your wealth is supposed to directly tie to how powerful you are personally, you are actively punished for wanting to spend your money on things like bases and kingdoms- and furthermore, any ability that produces extra money (like wall of iron or fabricate) breaks the whole fragile progression. If power is unlinked from basic currency (or, at least, becomes unlinked eventually) it's way less of a problem- nobody's going to cry foul if the wizard can produce golden eggs every once in a while if those golden eggs don't directly lead to him having higher spell DCs than everyone else.

These issues are things we're trying to solve with d20 Legends. Ashiel talked about it a few pages ago, but we plan on having multiple economies which can be entered at higher levels with their own currency. Low level characters are going to be stuck in the gold economy, but eventually you're going to need equipment that you just cannot purchase or create with gold (the exchange rate from gold to liquid planar awesome is "haha, no")- and at that point, there shouldn't be any issues if a player wants to dump a truckload of gold into building a mountain fortress or hidden lair. The best of both worlds, ideally.


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Yes, what Aratrok said. :P


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Do you find it funny that classic Pathfinder sheets have "Height" and "Weight" cells, but no "Date of birth?"

Related to that-have your players ever celebrated a birthday of an in-game character? If yes, how did it go? If no, what about other celebrations-new year, solstice, first day of summer?

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