Handling of changing rules: Why has it been getting harsher?


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1/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Anecdotal information was related, so it felt appropriate to relate personal anecdotal information.

This could go horribly granular if we really wanted to. I'm just hoping at this point those of us who have made our points based on our play-experiences can take a step back and perhaps let folks who haven't firmly staked out one end or the other of the observation spectrum to offer their insight.

1/5

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I find combat maneuvers quite situational. What good is grapple vs a gelatinous cube?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

They need hugs.

Lantern Lodge 5/5

doctor_wu wrote:
I find combat maneuvers quite situational. What good is grapple vs a gelatinous cube?

The situation being "fighting against humanoids" (where maneuvers are at their best) is a pretty common situation.

1/5

Jeff Hazuka wrote:
doctor_wu wrote:
I find combat maneuvers quite situational. What good is grapple vs a gelatinous cube?

The situation being "fighting against humanoids" (where maneuvers are at their best) is a pretty common situation.

I do agree humanoid fights are common.

Shadow Lodge

Tallow wrote:
DM Beckett wrote:

The only one I have ever heard of was the Tripping Monk that gives itself like 5 attacks for free.

I'm sure there are more, but Combat Manuevers just do not keep up. They probably scale worse than Channel Energy.

You speak like this is absolute truth. And yet, anecdotally, I will say I've run into several maneuver builds that are exceptional all the way up to level 19. Fighters, Alchemists, Monks, Brawlers, and more.

Unless you care to share some of these builds and overall pertinent campaign info/context, simply saying you have seen them is sort of meaningless.

Jeff Hazuka wrote:
doctor_wu wrote:
I find combat maneuvers quite situational. What good is grapple vs a gelatinous cube?
The situation being "fighting against humanoids" (where maneuvers are at their best) is a pretty common situation.

No, the situation being Combat Maneuvers in all ways.

Scarab Sages 5/5

I don't quiz people on their builds. But I'm just taking your word for it about your experiences.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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doctor_wu wrote:
I find combat maneuvers quite situational. What good is grapple vs a gelatinous cube?

Oddly, my favorite Combat Maneuver character in local play (played by an amazing Minnesota Player) is 'Delphix, Beloved of Kurgess.'

He introduces himself by offering the group autographs, and announcing that he placed fourth in his regional wrestling competition. The first time I saw this guy, he grappled a gelatinous cube in a level one Evergreen. Since then, I have seen him proudly grapple more oozes, taking damage the entire time... If he can grapple it, he does.

It's hilarious.

Hmm

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

I should built Bolt a little closer to his proclaimed backstory.

Shadow Lodge

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I really don't have much issue with CMs, honestly. I find they tend to grow progressively less powerful overall, and so while they might be strong at the lower level range (strong being somewhat subjective), they are also generally fairly circumstantial.

Probably the single worst offender for Combat Maneuvers in the hands of the players would be through pets, but, it's generally because of abilities like Grab that allow basically the attack and then a free CM with it. However, in this case it's the pet itself, the fact that they get the free CM attempt, the fact that they can much more easily get into the larger sizes (and thus not be affected by the larger sizes of enemies), and other factors like that that significantly boost them (ie they cheat).

Now, I'm certain there are other cases, but I've not personally heard of them, or not heard of them being particularly severe outside of maybe a single Scenario, (which can kind of happen with anything). This also does not mean that I assume my experience, or my word are the one and only true way, it's simply what I've encountered in my fairly long history of the game(s).

I've seen a Grapple focused Monk hold down a mini boss, and then realize that they where effectively stuck in place while the rest of the enemies ran right passed them unimpeded.

I've seen a Tripper not get to basically do anything of any value an entire scenario against flying enemies, and I've seen a tripper, (might honestly have been the same player in a different scenario) be asked by the rest of the table to stop because it was making their ranged attacks miss consistently enough.

I've seen a Bull Rusher/Overrunner play Bowling against a small group of enemies and do dang well, but generally speaking they where very limited on when they could actually pull off their tricks because of charge or movement lanes.

I personally, due to a crit with max damage, have sundered the BBEG's weapon and left them effectively powerless in the first round of combat. But, I also think If I would have continued with that character, the rest of the party likely wouldn't have been very happy with the tactic, (which is why I stopped), and in all reality, most likely just hitting him, (20, 20 confirm, four 6's on 4d6, plus Power Attack plus two handed Str), they probably would have been dead anyway.

I would probably say that the outright worst overall, (in the sense of ruining encounters for the group), might be Disarm, simply because PFS generally does not have the space to include a lot of backup gear in their NPCs, and secondary weapons tend to be ranged, leading to very defenseless or severely weakened encounters once that one weapon is removed. There will still be plenty of encounters that the CM does not apply, but that's something that applies to all CM.

In my experience, players that focus on different Combat Maneuvers do not significantly render themselves immune to those Combat Maneuvers when used against them either, though they do get some noteworthy bonuses.

Shadow Lodge

I have played a trip based magus with a whip and the supporting feats and I can tell you that once you start hitting Huge + on a regular basis ... that it breaks

Grapple will always be good because there is no size limit on grappling

Sunder builds will always be good because while yes thy focus on breaking weapons and armor ... they focus just as much if not a little more on raw damage

Disarm builds are fair ... but they fall apart if the opponents aren't wielding manufactured weapons

Dirty trick can be useful but isn't overpowered on its own as you can clear the condition with a move or a standard action depending on the feats , there's even a dedicated fighter archetype for this - Cad

I have seen the steal Maneuver do some amazing things but to say its situational is being generous

Trip, reposition, bullrush and Drag all suffer from the same issue - you cant do these if the target is more than 1 size category larger and breaking this cap is extremely difficult as there are only a handful of ways I can think of to crack the huge barrier and they consist of the following:

Ki Throw (Max Colossal at 4 ki points)
Enlarge person (huge max)
Monstrous physique II, III, and IV (gargantuan at Mag/wiz/sorc 5 spell)

there might be a few more but when I did my research these were the only ways I found

in the end the potentially OP CM Builds are grapple and Sunder and I would even argue that grapple from a fighter is not really that OP ... Tetori monk is a different story ... but we have a fighter archetype banned ... not monk

Shadow Lodge

Tallow wrote:
I don't quiz people on their builds. But I'm just taking your word for it about your experiences.

I'm asking because I would legitimately like to know, but because there are plenty of other factors that can swing things easily one way or the other. It's not even really about specific builds as much as what Combat Maneuver(s) are you talking about, and in what contexts.

Scarab Sages 5/5

Medium sized fighter/alchemist with glaive and enlarge, with a trip CMB always about 10 points over what you'd expect from a character. Trips everything within 30 feet with longarm bracers and lunge. Has a high Dex so gets lots of AoOs from greater trip.

Medium sized brawler with snapping turtle style and gloves that let him pop off a head. Grapples anything.

Hilary's example of the Kurgess guy.

Two-weapon fighting ranger with a gorilla and dirty fighting that basically makes it impossible to run badguys.

1/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Still anecdotal, and seems somewhat GM-Player antagonistic?

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Belt of impossible manuevers is good, but takes the belt slot.

Still, sooooo uch fun.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Still anecdotal, and seems somewhat GM-Player antagonistic?

Your point? I was asked to give examples. I did. How is it antagonistic?

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tallow wrote:
*snip* that basically makes it impossible to run badguys. *snip*

If it boils down to "I as GM didn't get to do anything cool because the characters at the table had something awesome and neat that handled the situation, that required research, time, investment, and awareness" then we should be politely applauding the players for their creativity, and move forward.

I tend to play generalists.

The only 'trick' type character I was really building towards just got taken to the woodshed for re-education.

During a Special a few years ago, we had a table of six.

-We had an optimized tripping expert.

-We had a thug type character that could really pile on the Sneak attack damage.

-We had a bard who could shut down any non-reptilian non-planar humanoid with ease.

-We had a druid who was as big and beefy as their animal companion.

-We had an arcane caster who was massively skilled in their schools.

--and then there was me, playing 'up' and horribly generalized.

At least two-thirds of the scenario, the bard felt completely useless, and there were at least two encounters where the trip expert pretended to get up from the table and walk away saying "Yeah, I got NOTHING for that".

There were a handful of encounters where the thug type couldn't put enough damage on target due to being immune to precision damage, and at one point the druid AND their animal companion were in the single digits and about to go down.

When they work, combat maneuvers are awesome, but the general feeling I'm getting and I hope I'm mistaken is that some GMs feel that building towards such a thing is *notgoodrightfun*.

In addition, if a GM has a reputation for being a bit of a firm rear about such things, then players, given how they approach the word 'No' view it as a challenge to poke the angry bear, possibly with beer-holding involved.

Then it becomes an arms race, which no one wins and ultimately damages community spirit and the lusory aims of enjoyable play for all parties.

If I am wrong, please tell me where my gross conceptual error is, that I might learn from it and grow.

Scarab Sages 5/5

You read tone into my statement. I was merely relaying facts. If you feel it's antagonistic, perhaps it's exactly the reason CMB stuff is being nerfed.

1/5

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Backing it up a further step, why should players be punished for the GM not being able to handle their abilities?

Why should a GM feel that they have to 'beat' players (or at least compete)?

Sometimes, the combats just 'aren't there'. Does forcing them to 'be there' make it an enjoyable experience for anyone?

If it is only making it an enjoyable experience for the GM, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of playing together at a table?

4/5

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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
Why should a GM feel that they have to 'beat' players (or at least compete)?

In my opinion, organized play is an outlier of gaming and, as such, certain allowances must be made and certain expectations must be altered.

As a GM in organized play, I always (or at least, always try to) tell the players at my table that my job is two-fold: to adjudicate the rules and provide an entertaining game. I tell them that as much as I would like to present them with a challenging game, that isn't really my responsibility; that is the responsibility of the scenario's author.

I rarely (I hesitate to say "never") get frustrated if a group or individual is able to defeat or neutralize every encounter effortlessly.

Most players (I hesitate to say "every") build their characters to do something really "cool", to take advantage or make optimum use of some rule or combination of rules. I try to let my players know I will do everything I can within the scenario as written to let them show off their "cool thing". I will find ways for their cool thing to work, not ways to shut it down. All I ask in return is that they're respectful of the other players at the table and that they allow the other players the same opportunities to show of their own cool things.

If the players barrel through a scenario, but everyone got to do their cool thing and have fun doing it, does it matter to me if the NPCs and monsters I'm running get shut down? Of course not.

And if the table finishes early as a result, it just means we can either go home early or have more time between slots to grab food or drink.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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^ This.

It's my GM philosophy as well. The characters and I are in this together, spinning the adventure as we go.

Thank you for expressing this so eloquently, Earl.

Hmm

Shadow Lodge

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I fall somewhere in between. It can be frustrating when characters trivialize encounters, especially when I put in a lot of work to build them up, personalize them if I can to backstories, or it is clearly intended to be a good fight. Its less because it makes me angry, per se, as much as it feels very anticlimactic, but also because it leaves the rest of the players just sitting there and not getting to do things or enjoy the encounter.

The big difference for me is that there are so many other culprits that do this more often, consistently, and/or worse than Combat Maneuvers. A single Archer taking out 4 out of 8 enemies, including the miniboss in the first round before the rest of the party can even get to their first targets. Im not angry with the character or player, but they are incredibly difficult to challenge.

Color Spray, Grease, Glitterdust, or a few other spells that just shut down encounters, even into Seeker levels+. Just about any class that gets a combat pet essentually gets two very strong characters, in addition to extra perks like Scent, but large cats are just way too good. Like outdoing dedicated frontline warriors of higher levels too good, and they typically also have caster support from the player's "other" character.

Gunslingers are sort of like Archers with an extra x0.5 boost. Dervish Dance Magus, (ie the Magus), almost soloing entire scenarios with little threat.

To me, and yes, obviously this is just my opinion/experience, these are some of the things that tend to ruin encounters, (making them trivial or severely hindering the challanges), that should be the focus of nerfs. Combat Maneuvers are just not really in the same league, again in my opinion, (generally speaking. Specific one trick pony types might be an uncommon exception). From my perspective, many of these have pretty long histories of people requesting they be looked at and toned down because they are too good or abusable, (as far as ruining encounters consistantly). The Monk with Hummingbird Ring, is another good example, and while it does speak to Combat Maneuvers some, it is because it unfairly twists the system to boost them rather than the Combat Maneuvers being overly strong, (and DPS is still better anyway).

3/5 Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro aka MadScientistWorking

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Backing it up a further step, why should players be punished for the GM not being able to handle their abilities?

Because the game isn't fun in the least with only the slightest of optimization to the point of why even bother playing.

EDIT:
And Im conflicted on this point too because PFS sure does like to make rocket tag enemies capable of TPKing players. If they didn't exist I would be a lot more assertive but still PFS encourages it.
Quote:
At least two-thirds of the scenario, the bard felt completely useless,

How do you screw up a bard that badly?

Silver Crusade 1/5

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MadScientistWorking wrote:
Quote:
At least two-thirds of the scenario, the bard felt completely useless,

How do you screw up a bard that badly?

Oh, that's easy enough. Take one of the archetypes that trades out Inspire Courage, then make all of your spells mind-affecting attack spells. Bingo.

Most of the bards I've seen in pfs have been pretty good though. In fact, the bard with Banner of the Ancient Kings and Flagbearer was all kinds of awesome. He wasn't doing any damage to enemies directly, but he was such a successful force amplifier that everything the rest of us did would hit and hit hard. I loved having him in my party, but I suspect that some players and GMs might think him too awesome. A level 7 bard with that set up adds +5 to attack and damage rolls for his party.

I come back to a question I've asked before: how good is too good?

Shadow Lodge

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Backing it up a further step, why should players be punished for the GM not being able to handle their abilities
MadScientistWorking wrote:

Because the game isn't fun in the least with only the slightest of optimization to the point of why even bother playing.

EDIT:
And Im conflicted on this point too because PFS sure does like to make rocket tag enemies capable of TPKing players. If they didn't exist I would be a lot more assertive but still PFS encourages it.

Speaking only for myself, I would not say that it is me (DM) not being able to handle abilities, at least not in the sense of a failing on my part. Rather it is because in PFS we are required, with a tiny amount of exception, to run the scenarios and encounters as written, and many of the problem cases put us in a position that we can not challenge the party or the specific individual without cheating to do so, (which is bad).

It also leaves us in a situation where we basically have to decide between that one character getting to have fun/spotlight or the rest of the table, and it can be worse if there are two of the individuals that have characters like this.

It is not that the player is bad, PFS just has a certain playstyle that heavily favors some things much more than others, but also does not have the freedom for an individual DM to mitigate them at the table.

Honestly, that was why I was in favor of ramping up the power level in PFS, with the exception of the Technology season. It empowered DMs to be able to challenge the characters more, and we started seeing more enemies that where not commonly used and had immunities or defenses that these problem cases didn't get to walk all over. BUT, it also left room for DMs to tone down those encounters if the party had issues, by having them make poor tacticle choices, for instance, or not full attacking. The reverse is not true, usually. We are not allowed to ramp up encounters, add abilities, or whatever to provide challenges, or even swap out prebuffs unless it specifically calls for it.

The Tech Season was sort of like this, but made a huge mistake in that it required characters to take a Feat in order to interact with or be able to use skills. It was so terrible that later scenarios started implementing ways to get around it.

The Exchange

This is why season 4 is my favorite. It created an epic story combined with mechanics to back it up. In my mind all seasons should strive to be more like the year of the risen rune.

Like you said the challenges can be run full force to provide a better experience when needed or toned down if the players are having trouble with the encounters. This is the ideal because it means everyone can have an enjoyable experience.

Lantern Lodge

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I'm seeing the examples of CM builds and none of them are lore wardens... hence why they arent even towards the top of CM builds and didn't need a nerf.

When focusing on CM your character is essentially a debuffer. You debuff the enemy through sunder,disarm, trip while the rest of the party finishes the job. I'm not even saying that's a "bad" thing. You are putting everyone in the spotlight.

What is a bad thing is you are a debuffer that is focusing their entire build on one, maybe two, extremely circumstantial debuffs. To top it off unless you spend your gold on specific gear, which cuts into the necessity of generic +X gear, and/or have a build that incorporates magical size increases you will be further circumstantial. And since you are effectively a debuffer there are much more efffectice debuffers found in witches/wizards/any arcane who have way more debuff options + other effects.

So if you're in a low-magic game where arcane powers, magic items, and fights with non-humanoids are rare then they will really shine. But that's not PFS.

5/5

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As a player, I love to be able to pull out a trick no one has seen all game and save the day with it, "I am not left-handed!"-style.

If most optimized builds were played by players like Inigo Motoya, this entire discussion would be moot.

As to the combat maneuver: CM bonuses might not scale, but the effects certainly do. Being prone is debilitating, and AO's for standing up in tiny maps crowded with PCs just increase the action economy over the already-outnumbered NPCs. Disarm versus creatures written with only one weapon (like many PFS scenarios) end the fight. Grapple versus *anyone* ends the fight - if you can grapple someone once, you can probably do it again at +5 to pin them.

Anyway, we've wandered far from the OP's question and not much has come to light that is new. Some people are happy with the changes, some people are not, and none of us knows what the silent majority feels. For my part, I'm going to work on a different angle again, and leave the rules lobbying to others from here on. I trust Paizo to manage the campaign rules set with the big picture in mind.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber
GM Lamplighter wrote:
If most optimized builds were played by players like Inigo Motoya, this entire discussion would be moot.

Wiser words were never spoken.

(Not by anybody other than Grumpy Cat, anyway.)

3/5 Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro aka MadScientistWorking

DM Beckett wrote:


Honestly, that was why I was in favor of ramping up the power level in PFS, with the exception of the Technology season. It empowered DMs to be able to challenge the characters more, and we started seeing more enemies that where not commonly used and had immunities or defenses that these problem cases didn't get to walk all over. BUT, it also left room for DMs to tone down those encounters if the party had issues, by having them make poor tacticle choices, for instance, or not full attacking. The reverse is not true, usually. We are not allowed to ramp up encounters, add abilities, or whatever to provide challenges, or even swap out prebuffs unless it specifically calls for it.

Yes those lovely immunities that have actually become so much easier to completely negate over time.

Scarab Sages 5/5

kaisc006 wrote:

I'm seeing the examples of CM builds and none of them are lore wardens... hence why they arent even towards the top of CM builds and didn't need a nerf.

When focusing on CM your character is essentially a debuffer. You debuff the enemy through sunder,disarm, trip while the rest of the party finishes the job. I'm not even saying that's a "bad" thing. You are putting everyone in the spotlight.

What is a bad thing is you are a debuffer that is focusing their entire build on one, maybe two, extremely circumstantial debuffs. To top it off unless you spend your gold on specific gear, which cuts into the necessity of generic +X gear, and/or have a build that incorporates magical size increases you will be further circumstantial. And since you are effectively a debuffer there are much more efffectice debuffers found in witches/wizards/any arcane who have way more debuff options + other effects.

So if you're in a low-magic game where arcane powers, magic items, and fights with non-humanoids are rare then they will really shine. But that's not PFS.

I'm pretty sure the fighter/alchemist trip build above is a lore warden. But I'm not 100% sure.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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GM Eazy-Earl wrote:
If the players barrel through a scenario, but everyone got to do their cool thing and have fun doing it, does it matter to me if the NPCs and monsters I'm running get shut down?

I agree and have had that philosophy for a long time, but someone finally presented this to me in such a way that that I finally said, hmmm maybe?!? Dunno!?!!

So, if a player does something clever or just uses their character's abilities optimally to quickly and efficiently curb-stomp an encounter, we usually applaud them for their ingenuity, and generally encourage said behavior, except in the rare case when they are doing it to an extreme stealing all the action from the other players. However, if a GM uses the same methodology of clever tactics or optimized abilities, we cry "badwrongfun" and call them an adversarial GM. We seem to expect GMs to only play bad guys well enough to inconvenience the players without actually killing them. Now, I'm not saying I disagree with that, but some would say it is unfair to expect experienced players to turn off their tactics/rules mastery whenever they are GMing.

4/5

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Bob Jonquet wrote:
However, if a GM uses the same methodology of clever tactics or optimized abilities, we cry "badwrongfun" and call them an adversarial GM. We seem to expect GMs to only play bad guys well enough to inconvenience the players without actually killing them. Now, I'm not saying I disagree with that, but some would say it is unfair to expect experienced players to turn off their tactics/rules mastery whenever they are GMing.

I see your point (and think I agree). I would argue, however, that an adversarial GM is not one who runs the NPCs and monsters to take full advantage of said creatures' stat blocks (within the tactics as written, of course, when applicable) and offers a true challenge to the players, but rather one who tries to find ways to shut down the players' tactics/rules mastery through metagaming, "questionable" rules interpretations, and unfavorable table variation.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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DM Beckett wrote:

I fall somewhere in between. It can be frustrating when characters trivialize encounters, especially when I put in a lot of work to build them up, personalize them if I can to backstories, or it is clearly intended to be a good fight. Its less because it makes me angry, per se, as much as it feels very anticlimactic, but also because it leaves the rest of the players just sitting there and not getting to do things or enjoy the encounter.

The big difference for me is that there are so many other culprits that do this more often, consistently, and/or worse than Combat Maneuvers. A single Archer taking out 4 out of 8 enemies, including the miniboss in the first round before the rest of the party can even get to their first targets. Im not angry with the character or player, but they are incredibly difficult to challenge.

Color Spray, Grease, Glitterdust, or a few other spells that just shut down encounters, even into Seeker levels+. Just about any class that gets a combat pet essentually gets two very strong characters, in addition to extra perks like Scent, but large cats are just way too good. Like outdoing dedicated frontline warriors of higher levels too good, and they typically also have caster support from the player's "other" character.

Gunslingers are sort of like Archers with an extra x0.5 boost. Dervish Dance Magus, (ie the Magus), almost soloing entire scenarios with little threat.

To me, and yes, obviously this is just my opinion/experience, these are some of the things that tend to ruin encounters, (making them trivial or severely hindering the challanges), that should be the focus of nerfs. Combat Maneuvers are just not really in the same league, again in my opinion, (generally speaking. Specific one trick pony types might be an uncommon exception). From my perspective, many of these have pretty long histories of people requesting they be looked at and toned down because they are too good or abusable, (as far as ruining encounters consistantly). The Monk with Hummingbird Ring, is another...

I more or less feel similar. However I want to express that in practice, I largely feel similarly to GM Eazy-Earl. Its usually after the fact that my frustration gets to me. It also helps tremendously when I know who I'm getting at my table well before game time, so that I can set my expectations accordingly. If I know I'm getting that tricked out gunslinger with a 35 AC at sub-tier 8-9, then I can just know how that sessions is going to go and not worry about it and just play up all the personalities of the NPCs more than I already do.

But there are some players who make the trivializing experience very painful for me (and I assume other GMs). In that they complain about how easy it is, they mock the GM, they brag about their prowess, and don't leave any room for other players to do anything, let alone shine. That makes it highly frustrating and not fun for me as a GM. This is a player problem though, not a character or scenario problem.

Ironically, this is why I enjoy GM'ing high level play. Because invariably I do get at least a couple shots with the cool NPC/Monster high level toys. The players get to experience at least one harrowing moment, and then they get to obliterate everything else. Its fun for everyone I think, usually.

So in short, I don't necessarily mind well built characters owning the scenarios. If people use skills they have and roleplay it out and dominate, but make it enjoyable for me as a GM by interacting with me and allowing me to engage the characters, then the balance of the mechanics doesn't really matter to me. Its when I don't even get to engage and do the things I love doing (silly voices, cheesy personalities, ominous villain monologues, etc.) that I ultimately decide that was a very unfun table for me to GM.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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GM Eazy-Earl wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
However, if a GM uses the same methodology of clever tactics or optimized abilities, we cry "badwrongfun" and call them an adversarial GM. We seem to expect GMs to only play bad guys well enough to inconvenience the players without actually killing them. Now, I'm not saying I disagree with that, but some would say it is unfair to expect experienced players to turn off their tactics/rules mastery whenever they are GMing.
I see your point (and think I agree). I would argue, however, that an adversarial GM is not one who runs the NPCs and monsters to take full advantage of said creatures' stat blocks (within the tactics as written, of course, when applicable) and offers a true challenge to the players, but rather one who tries to find ways to shut down the players' tactics/rules mastery through metagaming, "questionable" rules interpretations, and unfavorable table variation.

I agree 100% with this. But I'll also add that it is also a GMs job to read the table. If they have a table that isn't all tricked out and the players are more casual and just want to roleplay and have fun and engage with the story, then running the monsters and NPCs on 11 is not appropriate either.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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This speaks to me, and perhaps applies to tabletop just as well.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
This speaks to me, and perhaps applies to tabletop just as well.

Is there any online community that ISN"T toxic?

Or, well, any human interaction at all that isn't toxic?

*hold the carl marx jokes*

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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This place used to be, or so I heard.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It did ;_;

Scarab Sages 5/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:


Or, well, any human interaction at all that isn't toxic?

I would hope that general loving relationships between two people who are married would typically not be toxic.


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Interesting. I don't have a CMB character in PFS, but my first pathfinder character was a near-core fighter in Rise of the Runelords based off enlarge reach tripping. He shuts a lot of encounters down by himself, though as a core character, he needs buffs to go crazy. Two handed fighter just power attacking is also fine even when his 'thing' doesn't apply to the situation at hand.

I was kind of looking forward to building him as optimally as I could in PFS with his main levels as a lore warden, but I guess I won't get that chance.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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There are things about CMB builds that rub me the wrong way;


  • To be effective you need to specialize so hard that you tend to become a one-trick pony. On the one had this leads to one trick being used to shut down any encounter. On the other it can lead to strained attempts to apply the trick to situations it really shouldn't ("I want to reposition the evil fog monster with my longspear").

  • PFS NPCs often can't cope with maneuvers. They don't have a backup weapon, holy symbol or spell component pouch. Any somewhat experienced player knows to spend the 20gp, but NPCs are also on a word count budget. So for very meta reasons, they're laughably weak against maneuvers.

  • Using maneuvers against spell component pouches or holy symbols triggers a GM frantically looking through spell lists to see which spells use which components. That's a great way to keep up nice pacing in a scenario.

Liberty's Edge

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:

There are things about CMB builds that rub me the wrong way;

  • To be effective you need to specialize so hard that you tend to become a one-trick pony. On the one had this leads to one trick being used to shut down any encounter. On the other it can lead to strained attempts to apply the trick to situations it really shouldn't ("I want to reposition the evil fog monster with my longspear").
  • Lorewardens used to not have this problem....

    Lau Bannenberg wrote:
  • PFS NPCs often can't cope with maneuvers. They don't have a backup weapon, holy symbol or spell component pouch. Any somewhat experienced player knows to spend the 20gp, but NPCs are also on a word count budget. So for very meta reasons, they're laughably weak against maneuvers.
  • In my experience you're lucky if the average wizard or cleric NPC in a PFS scenario has even one holy symbol/component pouch (that they need to cast the spells their tactics say they cast), much less a backup.

    3/5 Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro aka MadScientistWorking

    BigNorseWolf wrote:
    Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
    This speaks to me, and perhaps applies to tabletop just as well.

    Is there any online community that ISN"T toxic?

    Or, well, any human interaction at all that isn't toxic?

    *hold the carl marx jokes*

    You don't interact with a large amount of people in the industry do you? The things I've warned people about and the type of behavior is disturbing. Like if you consider the video game industry a dumpster fire tabletop is a natural occurring nuclear reactor.

    5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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    Things i have seen labeled toxic this week alone include.. pretty much everything.

    The label is done. It is played out. It's applied to every time people disagree and its so insipidly vacuous as to be completely meaningless. "It's toxic" doesn't say anything helpful, meaningful, or specific beyond "I don't like it..."

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Not really, it is still completely valid. It ranges from defending your position so aggressively that you hurt it to just being so negative you turn people away, whether you're defending or attacking. Which has been occurring a lot in this thread.

    It's not "I disagree", even though a couple of posters have used it to refer to the changes themselves within the game, which I do not believe is an appropriate use of that label.

    Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

    David Setty wrote:
    Lau Bannenberg wrote:

    There are things about CMB builds that rub me the wrong way;

  • To be effective you need to specialize so hard that you tend to become a one-trick pony. On the one had this leads to one trick being used to shut down any encounter. On the other it can lead to strained attempts to apply the trick to situations it really shouldn't ("I want to reposition the evil fog monster with my longspear").
  • Lorewardens used to not have this problem....

    Well, not necessarily. The Lorewarden could be used to make an all-round maneuver expert who changed from one trick to another depending on the needs of the situation. Which is a nice thing.

    On the other hand, I've seen enough that went the other way: "omg monster CMD goes up so high I better specialize everything in Trip".

    It's a vicious cycle of totally relying on one trick because you've put all your resources into making that one trick work on almost anything.

    3/5 Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro aka MadScientistWorking

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    Rysky wrote:

    Not really, it is still completely valid. It ranges from defending your position so aggressively that you hurt it to just being so negative you turn people away, whether you're defending or attacking. Which has been occurring a lot in this thread.

    It's not "I disagree", even though a couple of posters have used it to refer to the changes themselves within the game, which I do not believe is an appropriate use of that label.

    .

    Yeah it's not a good take when I've seen transphobia, people being called evil, and the bizarre melodramatic behavior over this. Three threads that got locked because people are jackasses is kind of a problem. And mind you I got one of those locked but still that was more related to the toxicity.

    Liberty's Edge 5/5

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    Starfinder Superscriber

    I don't think that BNW is denying that inexcusable, community-destroying behavior is real.

    Rather, it's the observation that the label "toxic" is applied so freely that its meaning has become highly diluted in popular speech. A Godwin's Law sort of thing.

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