Hello Advice Forum,
Longtime Pathfinder Player, First time DM
I am getting ready to run the Return of the Runelords AP in about a month and a half or so and I'm beginning to get a general consensus from my players on what they are leaning towards playing. Having read through the better part of 4 books of the adventure I'm beginning to have growing concerns about their group composition, a Druid, Monk and a Battle Oracle. The concerns are not combat based but ¿"Knowledge/Skill Based"?
From what I've seen so far there are a lot of Knowledge checks that can be pretty pinnacle to your success throughout the AP and none of these classes are (Int) heavy classes. I'm concerned about their well-being as well as their story integration as players, if every time I want them to roll a certain check they are either untrained or can't even come close to the DCs because of low int or them not being class skills. As a DM feel responsible for getting them started off on the right foot as much as possible pre session 1. While I really want them to play what makes them happy I feel their integration into the game world and AP could be limited by the classes they play. Maybe I am insane and overreacting or maybe their is some weight behind my concerns. Perhaps I am a new DM and overthinking the gravity of knowledge checks.
Is there a better solution to my problem other than "congratulations one of you gets arcana as class skill and I am making you put points in it every level."? Or am i just worrying too much. Thanks!!
Friendly NPC Expert who follows them around?
Add a few sources of useful information (eg, a book of useful relevant information)?
Encourage someone to take a trait that gives them a bonus to the relevant knowledge checks?
Just prepare for them failing the checks and make sure it doesn't break the adventure? (It usually doesn't.)
I say let them struggle, but be prepared to offer alternatives. Don't have the knowledge, they'll have to roleplay finding someone who does have the knowledge and convince them to help them. Maybe there's a book somewhere that can help them. Or maybe they turn out to be creative and simply find a way to get where they need to get without the knowledge (just gets more difficult).
I have three suggestions for you, feel free to use any or all.
a: Bump everyone's skill points in general by two.
And, a bonus: I am now running a Rise group, but at one point started play with a party of 3, a Sorcerer, a Monk, and a Paladin. We had 6 skill points/level to rub together between the three of us. (2,+2-1,+2+1). Book 1? was REALLY rough for us, for the EXACT reasons you mention. We went and talked to MANY NPC's, and they got to roll Knowledge checks for us..... they all failed. MANY failed knowledge checks happened in book 1, not 3~4, but 15~20+. We visited several bards, as well as a local sage, a sheriff, shops keeps, you name it, we TRIED!
New group? Has several knowledge junkies, as well as their combat.
*Whispers* Consider letting them buy/find some masterwork "tools" for Knowledge. A Pathfinder Chronicle (Adventurer's Guide/Inner Sea World Guide) costs 50 GP and gives a +2 Circumstance Bonus to any one Knowledge skill. That'll stack with almost everything, and even a full set of them isn't all that much treasure.
Solutions I see:
1) Encourage/Explain to them that they can get help, talk to NPCs, hire sages all of that sort of thing.
2) With only 3 players, one thing you are way down on compared to a 4 person group is total skill points. Giving an additional 2 skill points a level to each PC wouldn't be 'broken'
I will say though that it is far better for a party to be competent in combat and weak in non-combat skills than the reverse. Usually their are a lot of alternate ways to accomplish non-combat challenges while many combat challenges can only be solved by the PCs in combat. I wouldn't worry too much about it.
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I am running 'Return of the Runelords' not Rise but yeah I figured it was more of a DMing advice question rather than specifically an AP question.