Home Brew Recap: Sessions 0, 1 & 2.

Running the Game

I'm running a homebrew game, under playtest rules via Roll20, starting at level 10. Below, in no particular order, are some thoughts and experiences. Note, there's at least one semi spoiler, should this be read by one of my players if this looks super familiar.

After today's game, the Paladin and Sorcerer stuck around, and the following was stated by one, with agreement from the other. (Phrasing might not be perfect, but it's more than close enough.) I think this the most important part of my findings.

"I was initially uncertain, but I think that in play, that things were much better/smoother than I expected."

I offered to prebuild PC's, and 4 of the 6 players took me up on the offer, with a late addition starting to dive in, and not being able to finish before the first scheduled game, asking for help.

I have the following: 2 fighters (1 short bow, 1 dual Sawtooth Sabres), Paladin (Sarenrae, both Shield & Sword Spirits, CG), Sorcerer (Fey), Rogue and Bard.

We play ... infrequently, and have spent most of the playtest so far in character creation / session 0 talks.


As I built most of the PC's I noticed ... that the skill sets of the party had major overlaps and gaps.

Like, 3 PC's have Master Stealth and Acrobatics, and no one has more than trained in most knowledges ... and the poor bard has more than a few trained skills, and Master Performance and Occultism, and that's ... it. I mean, I did it to him, but I feel like I did him a disservice.

Retributive Strike did not come into play in Session 1 (Pre 1.6). Today's session, it came into play several times, and one of the attacks that triggered it, I maxed damage. had rolled 3d4's (-1, since I didn't update my critter's strength, probably like I should have). The Paladin (and the attack victim, the Sorcerer) was quite pleased. I had built the Paladin to take advantage of both Sword and Shield spirits, so he was able to take advantage of both Shield Warden and Shield of Reckoning, so even if I had upped it's strength... I'd likely have still done no damage due to shield DR (8,Spellguard shield, with Pld augments)

I used a widget I built to level some Kobold's to 6, 7 and 9. To adjust damage, I simply added 2 dice to their attacks, and left the negative str mod, instead of mathing out what new dice to use.

The 6's died quickly, the 7's not so much. Oddly, the 7's and 9's died at about the same rate.

The party took a fairly serious amount of damage from the dozen odd Kobolds they've killed, and have a serious threat still to come.

As I've not run any of the playtest campaign, I don't have the same knowledge of encounter balancing for the new system, so I built some safety nets in play.

The mini-dungeon they are in consists of a trio of traps, a baker's dozen APL-4's, a half dozen or so -3's, 4 -1's, a +1 boss, and a Surprise

+3 encounter that I've somewhat hinted at.

I half expect that the surpise will drop the party, but I will learn how to proceed with the rest of the campaign.

Things I'm less sold on current implementation.

Hero Points as is. For my home games I play with Hero Points, and I feel they add something. As the game is played over Roll20, I can't hand out any for out of character things, so I've been awarding 1 base, and 1 for on time arrivals, and others as the game progresses for cool/nifty things.

Thus far? They've barely been used. The problem is that the ONLY 1 point usage, is death related, and while I've drained the party to about half health in a drawn out running fight, no one's dropped yet. So, no one could use it. The 2 point re-roll was used twice, by two different players in game 1. Game 2, no points were used at all, as one player put it, he doesn't roll dice, he makes THEM (me) roll, as he's a CC specc'd sorcerer, with a few blasts for good measure, along with an allotment of Whimsy.


A Simple CR -4 trap is.... 2 XP. How do I split 2 XP six ways? How about a CR -3 for 3 xp? A complex -2, at 20, is a useful number.

I've found that I'm awarding more xp on a session basis, than I'm awarding on an encounter basis. Lets break it down this way. A Full on, Super, do not use encounter for 6 PC's, is 240 XP. split, that's 40 XP each. (Assuming I do divide this, which I believe is implied by the adjustments for party size) Versus 5 to 6 Minor accomplishment awards, 2 to 3 medium, and 0 to 1 major xp award. Works out to 50~60 + 60 to 90 and 0 to 80. Unlike the combat xp, there is no adjustment for party size, so I'm guessing that it's a straight award to each player. 40 for a nearly impossible fight vs 110 to 150 for accomplishing in session goals, depending on how the game progresses.

I mapped out a path for a decently long campaign. I sat down and started to tally up xp for set piece encounters. Divided 6 ways, it totaled around 500 xp each. Made a stab in the dark on how many sessions it would take for an experience group of ton topic gamers (not what I have, but it's ok), and came up with at least as much xp from just session expectations.

For me personally and looking ahead. Well, realistically, I play too infrequently to start a 2nd ed game for the next 4~8 years, unless the group I'm running for this playtest becomes a long term thing. (Which is possible) But, I see some promise in the system, and have enjoyed MANY hours with 1st ed, that I'll do at least something to try and improve the final product.

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Okay, so quick note on XP.
Relevant quote from the Bestiary, "When the group overcomes an encounter, as long as the encounter was not a trivial encounter, each character gains XP equal to the total XP of the creatures in the encounter." and "For each character in the party beyond the fourth, include additional creatures worth an amount of XP equal to the Character Adjustment value for your encounter on Table 5. Don’t adjust the actual XP the characters each gain for defeating the encounter."

So say you use this do-not-use top notch encounter. 240 XP for 6 players. This doesn't give just 40 per player. It actually gives 160 per player, because this difficulty of encounter is 160 XP for 4 players, and each player gets the full 160.

Basically the encounter baseline is based on 4 players. Any encounter they beat gives each player the full XP. Having more or less players you need to add or subtract XP for he purpose of keeping the same level of challenge for a different number of players, but you still use the XP base for 4 layers to determine what the party actually gets.

So say you send 6 level 8 foes at your party of 6. These are level -2 foes so they are worth 20 XP each. This makes 120 XP total, a "High" encounter. However a "High" encounter for 4 players is 80 XP, so each of your 6 players gets 80 XP.

Hope that helps make your level growth less madly slow. XD

As an aside, I've never actually GMed with XP before, I have invariably used story-based leveling, and I was happy when Paizo stuck a note somewhere in there (Don't recall if it's in the Rulebook or the Bestiary) about how some GMs grant levels based on story progress instead of the XP system. XD

Thank you for your swift response! I now only have ... two sessions worth of combat and trap XP to recalculate.

There are many nuances for the switch that are not obvious on the first read. This is true no matter how clearly the text is written.

Such as Add critters worth 40/person, but don't increase the base XP from 160 for an Extreme Threat. This makes things much easier to plan out. This is mostly because I can go: These encounters I want to be High threats, and use my Adjuster to bring the CR up accordingly, regardless of what level the party is when they finally get there.

Since I have it handy, I have the following skills Mastered in my party currently (Though Diplomacy and/or Intimidate might get swapped to Religion). Acrobatics and Stealth overlaps was mostly intentional, as well, half the party is super Dex focused with 20's, and if the party splits (Don't Split the PARTY!), the lone scout is less likely to be ALONE, and therefor SOL.

Acrobatics x3
Stealth x3

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