Mitigating Enervation Spam


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Kamea wrote:
For those that are interested. His Rules

I have so many questions.

It's not the most pressing question, but I do have to ask:

Balkoth wrote:
Dual-wielders can attack once with each weapon as a standard action/AoO/Haste extra attack.
Balkoth wrote:
Haste: Now grants +2 AB, +2 dodge AC, +2 reflex, and 10 feet of movement. No longer gives an extra attack.

How does that work? No seriously, how?


You’ll note that the post was originally made some time ago, and was edited as more rules were made. My assumption is that at some point or another Balkoth decided to remove haste, and missed some of the references to the spell.

I too question some of the design decisions. Look forward to playtesting it; having new experiences slows down your perception of time and effectively lengthens your lifespan.


Serum wrote:
Quote:

You seem to be under the impression that something about my house rules enabled that monk to be doing sometimes 400+ damage in a round at level 11.

My house rules have zero effect on that, the 400+ damage in a round is completely default Pathfinder (there is like a round of buffing from other party members).

70 damage per attack by a monk at level 11? Seems fishy to me, even if the entire party is spending two rounds buffing him.

With their party composition its entirely possible, one of the casters has an archetype that lets them hand out spells that normally are personal only so even with some rough math by just taking a few buffs into consideration I was able to get it to do on average 340ish damage per round on a full attack and if they roll high on the damage rolls it could easily push past 400.


Lol I’ve been struggling to get my group together for over a month. Trying to get six people all around on Saturday seems a big ask. Good luck though.

Truly the toughest challenge a group will face is scheduling.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Lol I’ve been struggling to get my group together for over a month. Trying to get six people all around on Saturday seems a big ask. Good luck though.

I was rather hoping you'd set aside your usual snark and join us.

I'm willing to go as long as we have three people. Maybe even two.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
I sent you a friend request, my discord tag is YordleSandwich.

Accepted it.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
You’ll note that the post was originally made some time ago, and was edited as more rules were made. My assumption is that at some point or another Balkoth decided to remove haste, and missed some of the references to the spell.

Ding ding ding we have a winner. The dual-wielding buffs were made at level 1 at the start of the campaign. Haste was only overhauled at level 9 when I started massively changing things. Things were becoming more and more rocket taggy and was about to result in a TPK on turn 1 of a fight due to most of the party members failing a saving throw.

That's when I decided things couldn't continue as they were.

Turned out four of the six players didn't care about the Haste adjustment (bit of a nerf) but it really stuck in two players' craw who really wanted to have the spell give them something new in regards to action economy. Because that felt "right" to them. Of course, neither of them was aware that back in the 3.0 days it doubled spells per round as well, which I found amusing.

So I changed it again to its current form in which it's less powerful on a full attack (no more numerical bonuses) but allows better mobility/action economy when not in position to full attack.

doomman47 wrote:
With their party composition its entirely possible, one of the casters has an archetype that lets them hand out spells that normally are personal only

This is part of it, aye. Going from memory, the math is roughly this...

2d8 base Monk damage (Monk's Robe)
4d8 damage from being made Huge by the Brown Fur Transmuter

That's 18 damage base.

22 str goes to 30 str with the polymorph. Dragon Style makes that 15 damage per hit (20 on the first attack).

Up to 33 damage so far.

Axiomatic Amulet of Mighty Fists and Holy Lance from the Cleric adds another 14 damage (campaign is largely themed around demons and their followers).

Up to 47.

Power Attack adds 6.

Up to 53.

Powerful Justice from the Oath of Vengeance Paladin gives 15 more damage (would also give other bonuses from a normal paladin, just less times per day).

Up to 68.

Greater Magic Fang/Weapon adds another +2.

Up to 70.

Weapon of Awe adds another +2.

Up to 72.

Prayer adds another +1.

Up to 73.

Deliquescent Gloves (I really dislike those on general principle) add another 3.5 acid damage.

Up to 76.5 (and 81.5 on the first attack).

He gets 3 normal attacks plus two Flurry attacks plus one Hasted attack for 6 attacks total (with four of those at the highest AB). If all hit you're looking at 464 damage per round average. If his Stunning First on his first attack is successful, then he gets another 2 attacks from Medusa's Wrath (and all of the attacks are more likely to hit) bringing his potential damage to 617 in an ideal case.

Oh, and he can also spend a Ki point for a ninth attack which is then 693.5 on average if they all hit.

Not even including potential natural attacks here...

That's also...
1 buff from the Oracle (Prayer, hits everyone and enemies too)
1 buff from the Brown Fur Transmuter (Beast Shape or Monstrous Physique)
2 buffs from the Paladin (Sacred Weapon, Powerful Justice which can both be done in a single round)
1 buff from the Cleric (Holy Lance)

(Also technically a very long term GMW/GMF (11 hours) from someone)

Some of those can be pre-buffed as well, but even with no pre-buffing allowed that's one turn to make the Monk into a 600+ DPR killing machine.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Balkoth wrote:
Anguish wrote:
I think the basis of your point is sound, that his game has deviated from Core play so drastically that it's unrecognizable
I strongly challenge that assertion and will put my money where my mouth is.

I don't understand the challenge. I support your right to play however works for you. That said, I've read your house-rules and I don't personally like most of them. They are contrary to the preferences I've developed in three decades of playing RPGs. Much like knowing that I don't like seafood or cheese, it doesn't much matter what a chef says about "ah, but my seafood cheese dish you'll like, I dare you to try it", I'm not biting. 'Cuz I'm not five; I've experienced life and understand my biases.

Your game might be fun. But not for me. Just like my game likely wouldn't be fun for you.

But kudos for being diplomatic and trying.


Balkoth wrote:
Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Lol I’ve been struggling to get my group together for over a month. Trying to get six people all around on Saturday seems a big ask. Good luck though.

I was rather hoping you'd set aside your usual snark and join us.

I'm willing to go as long as we have three people. Maybe even two.

not even remotely interested or able to do that. Sorry.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:

You’ll note that the post was originally made some time ago, and was edited as more rules were made. My assumption is that at some point or another Balkoth decided to remove haste, and missed some of the references to the spell.

Ding ding ding we have a winner. The dual-wielding buffs were made at level 1 at the start of the campaign. Haste was only overhauled at level 9 when I started massively changing things. Things were becoming more and more rocket taggy and was about to result in a TPK on turn 1 of a fight due to most of the party members failing a saving throw.

See this is another one of those alternate universe problems I was talking about. First turn TPKs based on a single saving throw are simply not that big of a problem at level 9. I’m sure there is some contrived way that it could be done but it’s such a huge corner case that in this universe little is done about it accept perhaps to not indulge that corner case.

doomman47 wrote:

With their party composition its entirely possible, one of the casters has an archetype that lets them hand out spells that normally are personal only

This is part of it, aye. Going from memory, the math is roughly this...

Buff stuff

That doesn’t look out of line to me...

You’ve got 5 players dedicating most of their turn to one target, you’ve got 5 different resources being burned by other players, you have the monk burning his own resources and you’ve got the enemy failing their save to resist it and you’re assuming every attack hits.

Frankly is 700 damage from 5 players focused on one target, whilst novaing and never missing doesn’t sound crazy to me.

At level 9 a DPS character can easily sit around the 100 mark spiking higher. Characters built for damage far out stripping that. And that’s taking into account miss chance which you seemingly do not.

So 5 characters focusing on damage should be touching somewhere in the region of 4-500 if single target focused. Especially if nothing ever misses.

Now of course in normal pathfinder there is literally no point ever stacking that many buffs and no-one would ever even bother. Because the overkill is absolutely tremendous, pointless and a waste of reseouces. Instead other characters would pick their own targets to kill and/or disable.

But you completely re-wrote the game to have them fighting enemies with multiple thousands of health and I therefore wonder what you expected to happen. As this is no longer overkill it’s something you necessitated.

Normal damage numbers in the 80-120 range would be absolutely pointless in your campaign as fights would literally take 40 turns or more assuming they didn’t die. And could hit the pre-requisite AC targets to even do that damage if they weren’t stacking buffs across multiple classes.

You’ve forced them to play this way because you’ve completely changed the game to such a degree that conventional play styles are completely none viable now. You’ve forced them into an arms race. As a result they found enervate a viable solution where by a character can contribute meaningfully without having to pour ever single resource into making the monk into a monster fit to fight your monsters.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
not even remotely interested or able to do that. Sorry.

No, I don't believe you are sorry. Especially after saying you're not "remotely interested."

I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but you'd rather continue to make unfounded and wildly inaccurate assumptions than take a few hours to see how you're misguided. Hell, you've probably spent more time than that posting in this thread and the other related threads already.

It's clear where your priorities lie as well as your preference for snark over being constructive. I had hoped for better but didn't really expect it.

Good day, sir.

Anguish wrote:
I don't understand the challenge.

You said you support the claim of the "game has deviated from Core play so drastically that it's unrecognizable." I strongly disagree with that notion. The challenge is for you to be willing to test your assertion/belief.

And I say this as someone who is also PLAYING in a RAW game -- just finished the Strange Aeons adventure path, actually, ended up at level 16.

Our party was...

Bard (me, default bard, no fancy Banner of Ancient Kings or related stuff)
Gnome Armor Master with a 2H weapon (not exactly a great character)
Alchemist (who basically had no back-up plan after he ran out of bombs)

Even with our characters definitely not being remotely optimized, we steamrolled through the campaign even after the GM started maximizing enemy HP just to try to slow us down slightly.

Hell, around level 13ish I think we faced this Giant Scorpion. I pointed out how we could easily defeat it without endangering ourselves and the GM basically said "Please just fight the damn thing properly."

So we did and killed it in two rounds. Nearly killed it in one.

...and that was AFTER the GM maximized its HP (312) and then added on another 200 HP (512) just to try to keep it alive a tiny bit longer (he told us afterward).

Again, that's with 3 characters, unoptimized, no crafting (and frankly under WBL by a decent chunk), and completely RAW on our end.

So unless you mean "Can't completely steamroll everything" when you say "unrecognizable as Core gameplay" (and I rather doubt that's what you meant) then as someone who is doing and has done Core gameplay let me assure you I completely recognize it as fundamentally similar to Paizo's AP paths at an absolute minimum.

Anguish wrote:
That said, I've read your house-rules and I don't personally like most of them.

That's a strong claim. That's not disliking some of them or even the majority of them -- "most" implies a significant majority.

Perhaps you could elaborate?

Grand Lodge

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I’ve been mulling over whether or not I want to join in this conversation as a lot of it is redundant back-and-forth discussion about your house rules. Your rules are your own, but at some point you should simply accept the fact that as a party levels up in Pathfinder, a normal game becomes more and more of a game of rocket tag. If you don’t like this fact I do suggest you look at tactics within the rules that already exist to slow down combat before massively changing rules. If you’re not willing to do that, maybe Pathfinder isn’t the right tabletop game for you.

I’ve been in a single combat that have lasted ~2 hours of real time (about 12 rounds in game, if I recall) and the BBEG used a bunch of minions and particular spells that really slowed us down.

Use of natural terrain, minions that pose serious threats if the party ignores them or lets them gang up on someone, Combat maneuvers, debilitating spells and effects like cloudkill, and generally smart tactics can really make a combat not only last significantly longer but also make them more interesting. Hell even just a single destruction spell can make someone take pause and think about their next action- cause even if they have 120 HP and make the save, taking 60+ damage on a successful save can be concerning- they wouldn’t be able to take another hit like that.

And as others have iterated, not every combat- not even every BBEG combat- should be super lengthy. Sometimes it’s fun to pounce on the monologging villain and pummel the hell out of them. Having a few significant enemies with tactics that support a longer fight. Divination spells can be used to gather information on the party. There’s no reason a BBEG or two can’t be prepared for the tactics the party brings to the table.

Also, have you been asking for feedback from the table regarding your house rules? Can you be open to the idea that they might have suggestions to make the game even better? Maybe they’re super happy with your rules for the most part and you just continue the way things are- the first rules is to have fun, after all. You and your players should be having fun, and you should be as transparent as possible about your thoughts on the party’s abilities if you’re finding you’re not having fun GMing. And you should encourage your players to be transparent about how much fun they’re having. Once everyone is happy and having a good time, continue with where you’re at.


I’ll second the notion that there are dynamic ways within the existing rules to make combat harder, and that slowly chipping away at a creature with thousands of hit points sounds repetitive and monotonous as hell. I’d be willing to give it a try for novelty’s sake (and to play a mystic theurge summoner based on grappling, which is a niche build if ever one was), but it looks like there aren’t enough people to make a party out of.


Syries wrote:
If you’re not willing to do that, maybe Pathfinder isn’t the right tabletop game for you.

That's entirely possible. I originally got into D&D and related material with the video game Neverwinter Nights which was based on 3rd edition. I more or less figured Pathfinder would be similar but better balanced.

Syries wrote:
Use of natural terrain

Why isn't a caster Dimension Dooring the party to the boss? Or a Monk/Magus/Horizon Walker/etc using Dimensional Dervish or something similar full attacking the boss with that? Or hell just using Flight?

Also, what if the boss is supposed to be a warlord (either something with melee class levels or just a brute like a Giant or something similar)?

Syries wrote:
minions that pose serious threats if the party ignores them

Give me some examples please, because in default Pathfinder they'd be CCed in one spell, too weak to be a real threat, or so powerful they're definitely exceeding the CR guidelines.

This has been my experience as both a GM and a player in Pathfinder by default.

Syries wrote:
And as others have iterated, not every combat- not even every BBEG combat- should be super lengthy.

I've never said otherwise.

Syries wrote:
Also, have you been asking for feedback from the table regarding your house rules? Can you be open to the idea that they might have suggestions to make the game even better?

I mean, a few posts ago I explicitly stated how I changed Haste/Slow based on the feedback of two players who were unhappy. So...yes?

Also recently agreed to undo some of the Animal Companion nerfs and see how it goes (in the middle of evaluating that right now).

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
I’ll second the notion that there are dynamic ways within the existing rules to make combat harder, and that slowly chipping away at a creature with thousands of hit points sounds repetitive and monotonous as hell.

Well, when I used some Vrocks (who can cast Mirror Images) I had major complaints about how the Mirror Images were super annoying and unfun (as, y'know, the players were using Mirror Images themselves).

I guess my question is how you're defining "chipping."

Chromantic suggested 80-120 damage per round per person is normal (some might do less but be buffing others, for example).

If six people are doing 100ish per round each, that's 600 per round. That means the 1200 HP boss I mentioned would be dead in two rounds if that was the whole fight.

That doesn't really feel like chipping to me, but perhaps you have another perspective.


John Mechalas wrote:
Also, turnabout is fair play. :) If the players employ a tactic excessively, have opponents do the same thing to them.

They've definitely complained about that in the past when I had some demons use Mirror Images after the party liked to do it a lot.

John Mechalas wrote:
But then what happens if I need to teleport the party somewhere and I used up my 5th level spell slots memorizing a 4th level spell? Or I used my higher level sorcerer spell slots to cast a lower level spell? What if I need my 4th level spell slots for something else, like Arcane Eye or Scrying? Dimension Door? Wall of Fire? Globe of Invulnerability? Secure Shelter? etc.

I mean, this is a valid argument at level 8. Or 10. But when players have sixth level spell slots (and above) this stops becoming an issue.

Not to mention that given the lack of DC and automatic "scaling" of Enervation (always using a d20) the penalties are just as bad at high level.

Dave Justus wrote:
If you want to nerf enervation, just make a house rule that it takes 2 negative levels to get the effects of 1 (in this case, round up). So if they roll a 1 or a 2 on enervation, it is one negative level, a 3 or a 4 gets 2. Then each spell still 'counts' and debuffs the enemy, but it isn't as severe.

Still means in four rounds (or less if multiple casters are using it) you're looking at -6 AB/skills/saves on average.

If anything I'm tempted to give it a save and then increase the base effect, but then I worry that would be penalize enemy casters more (low Fort and lose entire spell levels).

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
Keeping the game as is has unanticipated side effects too. The only difference is that enough people have played it long enough to scout the terrain. Balkoth is traversing uncharted territory. Here there be lions!

Yeah, as I've mentioned I've scouted ahead a bit as well. I could see where my campaign was going. I saw where the Strange Aeons campaign went. Hell, half of my enjoyment of Strange Aeons was looking at things and thinking "Okay, make sure you don't do this in your campaign."

Taja the Barbarian wrote:
I doubt this would work: Given the length of the fights, if spamming enervation is a good tactic, spamming 'enervation/2' is probably still decent. You'd probably have to make the spell non-stacking to stop spam, at which point you might as well remove it from the game entirely...

Eh, it could still go up to a no save allowed chance for -4 AB/saves which is still huge. If the enemy is attacking at +30/+25/+20 AB and the players have 35 AC, you're looking at 80%/55%/30% chance to hit, or 1.65 hits per round. -4 AB drops that to 1.05 hits per round, or about a 36% drop in incoming damage. If the enemy has a lower chance to hit the percentage reduction is even larger.

Taja the Barbarian wrote:
It sounds like the casters in this campaign are playing more of a support role (buffing, polymorphing, relocating, summons, etc) and I'm wondering if they have any other valid option:
  • Direct Damage seems to be out of the question (how many Harm spells would it take to down a boss if it failed every save (and someone else was around to do the last hp of damage)?)
  • I'm guessing the bosses make their saving throws nearly all the time, or someone would try hold monster spam or something along those lines.

Eh, there's a Sorcerer in the group who basically uses nothing but blasting spells (Lightning based, Blue Dragon Sorcerer)...even when he really should.

The Arcanist wound up turning the boss into a puppy for a few rounds later in the fight as well (bad rolls on the boss's part, sure, but still).

Kayerloth wrote:

Part of the issue is even if the players enjoy a long hard fought battle it is still in their interest to make the fight use the least resources as possible so as to have enough umph to get through the next fight.

Another crack at mitigation

Aye. And I'm not upset with the players, I'm annoyed with the system.

Some of those ideas may be workable.

Interesting fact: in NWN most people would get an Ability/Level Drain Immunity item quite quickly and carry around Restoration scrolls to clear negative levels as needed (which anyone could use and did not provoke AooS).

Grand Lodge

Balkoth wrote:
Syries wrote:
Use of natural terrain

Why isn't a caster Dimension Dooring the party to the boss? Or a Monk/Magus/Horizon Walker/etc using Dimensional Dervish or something similar full attacking the boss with that? Or hell just using Flight?

Also, what if the boss is supposed to be a warlord (either something with melee class levels or just a brute like a Giant or something similar)?

Well just off the top of my head the warlord could lure the players inside a valley while minions push/drop boulders on top of the party. Or the warlord could be inside of an antimagic field and has strategic traps placed around him. Maybe give the warlord awesome blow and ready an action to use it on the first target within reach. When needed, the warlord can make his retreat with his own dimension door (or a minion that casts it at his command) to retreat, heal up, and return to the fight.

Balkoth wrote:
Syries wrote:
minions that pose serious threats if the party ignores them

Give me some examples please, because in default Pathfinder they'd be CCed in one spell, too weak to be a real threat, or so powerful they're definitely exceeding the CR guidelines.

This has been my experience as both a GM and a player in Pathfinder by default.

multiple clerics with dispel magic prepped and use them as readied actions (can be used on the monk when they try to D-Door).

Flying swarms - up the distraction DC if they're not strong enough for you.
Flamedancer bard with a scroll of fog cloud (targeting spells become useless)
minions prepped with freedom of movement (black tentacles becomes useless)
minions whose job it is to constantly cast summon monster while staying out of line of effect (invisibility and nondetection are a good combo)
minions surrounding players on all sides
hit-and-run tactic minions with spring attack/flyby attack
casters who alter terrain with wall spells
earth elementals that pop up from the ground and split up the party

If you introduce some these tactics using minions, even if a party is well prepared to deal with many of them at once it quickly becomes more interesting and a bit more of a challenge. It becomes too easy to predict where to place that black tentacles spell when all the enemies are visible and on one side of the map.

Balkoth wrote:
Syries wrote:
And as others have iterated, not every combat- not even every BBEG combat- should be super lengthy.
I've never said otherwise.

Good!

Balkoth wrote:
Syries wrote:
Also, have you been asking for feedback from the table regarding your house rules? Can you be open to the idea that they might have suggestions to make the game even better?

I mean, a few posts ago I explicitly stated how I changed Haste/Slow based on the feedback of two players who were unhappy. So...yes?

Also recently agreed to undo some of the Animal Companion nerfs and see how it goes (in the middle of evaluating that right now).

Gotcha, I probably skimmed over that post and didn't see that bit. Communication between players is key. I'm running Curse of the Crimson Throne and every session I'm asking my players for feedback.

Going back to the original post, maybe the better question to ask us on the advice forum is "what can I do as a GM to change combats up, in order to encourage my players to change their tactics?" because at the end of the day it sounds like every major fight your players come across, they just buff up the monk, enervate the hell out of the BBEG, and crowd control the minions until BBEG is dead. It sounds fairly repetitive, and it'd be easier for us to help you come up with new ideas than it would be to critique your house rules that actually seems to be working for your table for the most part.


Let's talk minionmancy and terrain!

Balkoth wrote:


Syries wrote:
Use of natural terrain
Why isn't a caster Dimension Dooring the party to the boss? Or a Monk/Magus/Horizon Walker/etc using Dimensional Dervish or something similar full attacking the boss with that? Or hell just using Flight?

Something as simple as "difficult terrain" can give a huge advantage of mobility (in five foot steps) to a creature who doesn't have to bother with it (such as an aquatic or large/huge/gargantuan/colossal creature in shallow water, a druid or ranger in the brush, etc.) . . . so long as the party isn't flying. Which, after a certain level, you can more or less expect them to do. Hence why some consider terrain to be a low-level concern, to be ignored as the party increases in level. These people aren't entirely wrong, but they aren't entirely right either - "difficult terrain" becomes less meaningful, but the walls and ceilings of the great indoors make such things as chokepoints and cover, both total and soft, meaningful indeed. And if the party caster teleports themself and friends past the doorway or piled crates the NPCs are defending, so much the better - they've transported their squishy self into the heart of enemy territory.

Balkoth wrote:
Syries wrote:
minions that pose serious threats if the party ignores them
Give me some examples please, because in default Pathfinder they'd be CCed in one spell, too weak to be a real threat, or so powerful they're definitely exceeding the CR guidelines.

Au contraire, my skeptical friend. Your party is level nine, no? Well, they're somewhat stronger than the typical party, on acount both of using powerful builds, and on account of having double the magic at their disposal. But let's see if we can't challenge them with a CR 12 encounter.

Our "boss" monster will be this CR 11 Hezrou, and for minions we can use a brace of Shadow Demons. And for good measure, we'll add in a CR 4 giant howler. That takes us a little bit above our XP budget, but not by much. I assume we'd double the demons' hitpoints, on account of the players getting the same advantage?

Battle starts. Let's say that the demons have a round to prepare while the players use their actions to cast buff spells or bypass some manner of terrain. The Hezrou will use this turn to cast gaseous form and sink beneath the floorboards (or up through a porous ceiling, which would be better). The shadow demons, being incorporeal, will cast spells with their standard action and then phase through the ceiling. The howler begins howling. Party's turn. The howler dies like a chump, hopefully wasting limited resources as it does so. The players are somewhat bemused by how quickly the largest demon there died. Demons go. They attempt to summon help. Odds are good they at least get another shadow demon. Party's go, they ready actions/cast summoning spells/cast buff spells/move to the next room, erroneously thinking that the encounter is over. Demons go. The Hezrou reenters the field of battle and casts blasphemy, hopefully removing any summons from play and debuffing at least one character. The shadow demons use their spell-like abilities, with one of them casting deeper darkness to turn out the lights. After this, the demons' strategy is fairly straightforward - use hit and run tactics to avoid full attacks while hammering the party with at-will spell like abilities. If a majority of the martials are slowed by chaos hammer, the Hezrou switches to unholy blight. If someone fails their save against that, the Hezrou attempts an intimidate check to demoralize them and all the shadow demons pile on with magic jar. If given an opportunity (the most salient martial threats are occupied elsewhere), the Hezrou retreats into a patch of deeper darkness to dismiss gaseous form and then attempts to grapple a spellcaster.

In this case, the Hezrou is the highest CR monster on the field, but the players don't really have the option to ignore it's henchthings and target it - the shadow demons obstruct vision, construct walls of ice (shadow evocation) or shaped stone (shadow conjuration), and deal consistent damage/interrupt spells with telekinesis. Now, I'm not saying that this is by any means a killer encounter - your party is crazy strong even without houserules buffing them, and have spells enough to play or win the attrition game against the at-will spell like abilities of the demons. But it could be a challenging encounter, especially if the PCs have already had a fight or two since last they slept.


Lotta playstyle gatekeeping in this thread.


There's a key phrase in Asmodeus' Advocate's post above: "Wasting limited resources". Massive increase in typical hp and doubling available spell slots for casters has seriously weakened or changed 'limited resources' as a problem. Part of my answer to why doesn't the wizard just Dim Door to the BBEG (to which Syries has several very solid suggestions) is 4th level spells are a fairly limited resource for a 9th or 10th level for a wizard. On top of that wizards don't usually like to go toe to toe with the BBEG alone and at least the parties I've been in don't generally stand next to the wizard waiting to be ported(outside of planned ambushes). If I'm lucky I've got one companion near enough to take the trip with my wizard. Ditto for flying/flight, slightly less limited but not entirely a non problem yet for a 9th level party. The Fly spell is only minutes in duration, Overland Flight is a 5th level spell so while being able to fly isn't unusual it's not common for the entire party to be able to either. That's partly why everyone's eyebrows went up when you said "spamming", spamming a spell you would be lucky to have 5 copies of is a single encounter ability (especially since at least one of them is Dimension Door, Wall of Fire, Stoneskin or ... right?).


Artificial 20 wrote:
Lotta playstyle gatekeeping in this thread.

Not exactly sure what is meant by gatekeeping. Guessing it's a reference to thinking there's a right way to have fun but ... don't know.

But no I don't think anyone is saying that here. I'm certainly not attempting to, fun comes first and foremost ... it's a game. Rather there are some base assumptions made about the nature of a typical PF experience and it became clear that table rules have made a common basis of understanding difficult resulting in difficulty understanding his problem and possible solutions.


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Balkoth wrote:

No, I don't believe you are sorry. Especially after saying you're not "remotely interested."

I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but you'd rather continue to make unfounded and wildly inaccurate assumptions than take a few hours to see how you're misguided. Hell, you've probably spent more time than that posting in this thread and the other related threads already.

It's clear where your priorities lie as well as your preference for snark over being constructive. I had hoped for better but didn't really expect it.

Good day, sir.

I don’t have the time to learn your rules to an acceptable degree that I would be happy making a adhering to them. Nor the time to play a full session with you. I have no desire to play over discord I think it sounds awful and I don’t have the internet connection to support it and I like in a massively different time zone to most people on this forum.

Hence not interested or able.

Whilst my comments are snarky they also contain a lot of truth and the points I make are still relevant to discussion. Your dismissing them as snarky shows an unwillingness on your end to address things, not mine.

Balkoth wrote:

Well, when I used some Vrocks (who can cast Mirror Images) I had major complaints about how the Mirror Images were super annoying and unfun (as, y'know, the players were using Mirror Images themselves).

I guess my question is how you're defining "chipping."

Chromantic suggested 80-120 damage per round per person is normal (some might do less but be buffing others, for example).

If six people are doing 100ish per round each, that's 600 per round. That means the 1200 HP boss I mentioned would be dead in two rounds if that was the whole fight.

That doesn't really feel like chipping to me, but perhaps you have another perspective.

Actually no, I said damage characters could expect to be doing things in that range, when Nova-ing as the characters in your example were. Obviously a buffeing Cleric or wizard isn’t going to do that.

That’s why spells like haste exist to allow them to se their action to increase the damsgenof their party by a meaningful amount, without doing the damage themselves,

That’s also why CCing exists, to allow for other vectors or attack and other resolutions to combat. They should still be contirbut8jg something of equivalent value to a DPS character

Whether that be by taking enemies out of the fight without Hp damage who would have needed 80-120 worth Hp damage, or increasing the damage of their party members by a meaningful amount.

A six person party of DPS characters somehow all able to get a full attack off every turn should be killing BBEG in two turns or less. For sure. The reality is however you are unlikely to get that party and less likely that they’d all be full attacking.

And the very problem you describe is removed if you don’t just have one big bag evil guy. Instead of having one massively overpowered threatening enemy and a lot of pointless little ones. It is preferable to have. several say 4-8 enemies for a 6 person party that are all each a legitimate threat to the party members, but not overwhelmingly powerful.

This is pretty basic encounter design. There isn’t much fun in squashing 30 rats or completely swarming one giant.


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Artificial 20 wrote:
Lotta playstyle gatekeeping in this thread.

Nope.

Op suggested he wa suffering with an issue which multiple users with combined decades of play time in game thought was strange.

Upon investigating we find an enourmous list of house rules which logically lead to the problem the OP is experiencing. Hence we didn’t recognise it because it isn’t present in our version of pathfinder as we don’t have his rules.

We simply explained the reason this issue arose is because of the unexpected consequences of his own house rules.

I’m not telling him not to play that way. I’m telling him that the problem he has, he created by playing that way.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Balkoth wrote:
You said you support the claim of the "game has deviated from Core play so drastically that it's unrecognizable." I strongly disagree with that notion. The challenge is for you to be willing to test your assertion/belief.

Nah. I'll concede that I meant what I said hyperbolically, not literally, but I'm comfortable with my assessment as-is. I will absolutely give you large quantities of kudos for caring enough about the game you run for your players that you have altered so much, and I will also gladly compliment you for remaining very civil during this conversation, but I won't fight a 2,000+ hit point debate about the scope of your alterations. They're vast. Maybe not the largest, but a lot of fundamentals about balance are way out of the realm of normal.

Quote:
And I say this as someone who is also PLAYING in a RAW game -- just finished the Strange Aeons adventure path, actually, ended up at level 16.

That just demonstrates that you know what RAW looks like. Doesn't mean your homebrew is normal.

Amusingly, I'm running Strange Aeons for one of my groups right now. We're midway through book three. Party of five. The list of my house-rules uncannily resembles your first few, but then just... stops.

1} 25-point buy. No more than one stat at 18 after racial adjustments, no stats below 10 after racial adjustment, with the understanding that this is intended to aid multi-attribute-dependent classes and to allow traditionally one-trick-pony classes such as Fighter to have the resources to invest in mental skills (or casters into physical skills), not to enable Max-Min games.

2} Paizo materials, WotC 3.5e materials, Dreamscarred Press materials allowed by default, other PF 3pp almost always approved upon proposal.

3} Oracles automatically learn condition-removal spells. The end.

With that understanding, I have successfully skated on the edge of fatality. There has been one PC "death". You likely know why the quotes. The PCs are frequently - but not always - challenged, and sometimes have to take multiple attempts at encounters and areas.

None of the players are new, none of them are um... carefree? with their builds. While none are playing munchkin characters, they're coherently built.

I don't have to add hundreds of hit points for the players to have fun. << That's the bottom line.

Quote:

That's a strong claim. That's not disliking some of them or even the majority of them -- "most" implies a significant majority.

Perhaps you could elaborate?

I honestly don't want to do that because it feels like criticizing someone else's preferences. I (strongly) prefer Burger King over McDonald's, to the point that I haven't gone to the latter in oh... thirty years. But I (strongly) respect anyone else's right to have the opposite preference.

I've been very open that I enjoy games that are kind of rocket-tag, and I enjoy games that allow players to stack multiple abilities to end encounters quickly. My group in general does as well, with variance mostly on the "how many average rounds is ideal" number. We all (when playing) actively plot and scheme how to deal with BBEG encounters and some of the stories retold most often at the table involve ability-stacking such that BBEGs didn't get to act. We all get it that it's anti-climactic, but in a totally different way it's also absolutely EPIC.

For instance, our previous campaign, Mummy's Mask, the BBEG of the campaign got ended by a suicide-vest attack involving expending a very expensive magic item, the rest of the party setting up positioning and debuffing saves, and my PC being reduced to something like 1,200 hp below 0hp. She survived because she had cast deathless on herself, but the scene was epic as it took the whole party to pull it off, with her just being Ground Zero. Total time: one round. But it was awesome.

Point being that we have our table, and we like to eat what we like to eat, and we don't like to eat what we don't like to eat. I've seen your menu and while I'm appreciative that restaurants of your style are permitted to exist, I'd rather go hungry tonight than eat there. Ask me again when starvation sets in.


Syries wrote:
multiple clerics with dispel magic prepped and use them as readied actions (can be used on the monk when they try to D-Door).

Abundant step is SU and cant be dispelled/counterspelled.


Balkoth wrote:
John Mechalas wrote:
Also, turnabout is fair play. :) If the players employ a tactic excessively, have opponents do the same thing to them.
They've definitely complained about that in the past when I had some demons use Mirror Images after the party liked to do it a lot.

I think a sitdown with the players is in order. Maybe you have different expectations for what constitutes a fair fight.

Balkoth wrote:


I mean, this is a valid argument at level 8. Or 10. But when players have sixth level spell slots (and above) this stops becoming an issue.

I hear you, but that is the nature of Pathfinder (and 3.5 before it). Moving Rocket Tag up from Level 13 to Level 9, though, is not the right answer. It feels like that's what you've done, and to adjust for that you've had to make even more drastic changes that have created an arms race.

Have you considered E6? There are people who swear by it as a way of making high-level play challenging and meaningful.


Why not just give your opponents more turns instead of more HP? While the PCs will defeat them sooner, if combat turns alternate between a PC's turn and the enemy's turn on a 1 to 1 ratio then a smaller number of enemies will still pose a serious risk. You can see this system work really well in the Banner Saga video games, where as you defeat your enemies you need to be mindful that removing an enemy from combat causes the others to act more often.

Of course, that game has some severe penalties applied as you lose HP. Maybe you could adopt the wound threshhold rules from Unchained? It would make for a smoother experience than just smashing one burly man for 10 extra turns.

Grand Lodge

doomman47 wrote:
Syries wrote:
multiple clerics with dispel magic prepped and use them as readied actions (can be used on the monk when they try to D-Door).
Abundant step is SU and cant be dispelled/counterspelled.

Huh. For whatever reason I was thinking it was spell-like. That’s unfortunate. Plenty of other things to dispel in combat though.


ShroudedInLight wrote:

Why not just give your opponents more turns instead of more HP? While the PCs will defeat them sooner, if combat turns alternate between a PC's turn and the enemy's turn on a 1 to 1 ratio then a smaller number of enemies will still pose a serious risk. You can see this system work really well in the Banner Saga video games, where as you defeat your enemies you need to be mindful that removing an enemy from combat causes the others to act more often.

Of course, that game has some severe penalties applied as you lose HP. Maybe you could adopt the wound threshhold rules from Unchained? It would make for a smoother experience than just smashing one burly man for 10 extra turns.

Trouble with this is the massive increase in chances that melee characters just get murdered if they engage a big melee enemy in combat, because that enemy can effectively full attack multiple times in the time said PC moves once.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
ShroudedInLight wrote:

Why not just give your opponents more turns instead of more HP? While the PCs will defeat them sooner, if combat turns alternate between a PC's turn and the enemy's turn on a 1 to 1 ratio then a smaller number of enemies will still pose a serious risk. You can see this system work really well in the Banner Saga video games, where as you defeat your enemies you need to be mindful that removing an enemy from combat causes the others to act more often.

Of course, that game has some severe penalties applied as you lose HP. Maybe you could adopt the wound threshhold rules from Unchained? It would make for a smoother experience than just smashing one burly man for 10 extra turns.

Trouble with this is the massive increase in chances that melee characters just get murdered if they engage a big melee enemy in combat, because that enemy can effectively full attack multiple times in the time said PC moves once.

True, it requires an adjustment in the GM's tactics to avoid slaughtering the party's frontline. However, the GM's goal is not to WIN fights. The GM is trying to provide the PCs with a memorable experience, a story worth remembering. Using these rules its great for making use of magical items, combat maneuvers, weird spells, and other fun/suboptimal plays that a smaller group cannot usually rely upon because they are locked into a DPS race with the party. By equalizing the action economy, you allow for a more unique encounter.

For instance, they run up to a single giant and start beating on it. Well, the giant Full Attacks the first round, then maybe uses a Bull Rush on the second or perhaps an awesome blow to hurl the melee fighter away. Then they can throw a rock at the caster, or maybe you've given them Thunderstomp as a racial ability and they start tripping up folks.

Would simply full attacking the fighter 3 times in a row for a kill be more efficient? Yes, but would it tell a better story or provide a better experience for your players? Survey says, no.


ShroudedInLight wrote:
Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
ShroudedInLight wrote:

Why not just give your opponents more turns instead of more HP? While the PCs will defeat them sooner, if combat turns alternate between a PC's turn and the enemy's turn on a 1 to 1 ratio then a smaller number of enemies will still pose a serious risk. You can see this system work really well in the Banner Saga video games, where as you defeat your enemies you need to be mindful that removing an enemy from combat causes the others to act more often.

Of course, that game has some severe penalties applied as you lose HP. Maybe you could adopt the wound threshhold rules from Unchained? It would make for a smoother experience than just smashing one burly man for 10 extra turns.

Trouble with this is the massive increase in chances that melee characters just get murdered if they engage a big melee enemy in combat, because that enemy can effectively full attack multiple times in the time said PC moves once.

True, it requires an adjustment in the GM's tactics to avoid slaughtering the party's frontline. However, the GM's goal is not to WIN fights. The GM is trying to provide the PCs with a memorable experience, a story worth remembering. Using these rules its great for making use of magical items, combat maneuvers, weird spells, and other fun/suboptimal plays that a smaller group cannot usually rely upon because they are locked into a DPS race with the party. By equalizing the action economy, you allow for a more unique encounter.

For instance, they run up to a single giant and start beating on it. Well, the giant Full Attacks the first round, then maybe uses a Bull Rush on the second or perhaps an awesome blow to hurl the melee fighter away. Then they can throw a rock at the caster, or maybe you've given them Thunderstomp as a racial ability and they start tripping up folks.

Would simply full attacking the fighter 3 times in a row for a kill be more efficient? Yes, but would it tell a better story or provide a better...

I agree but my impression of Balkoth is that he believes he isn’t playing the game right if his NPCs aren’t fighting as effectively as possible at all times.

His fave mantra seems to be if players find an effective weapon I’m gonna try and kill them withit to show the world is just as ruthless as them. Although it kind of comes of as punishing players for finding powerful strategies.

But perhaps I’m wrong. :P


I had a sorcerer who had spell perfection (enervation), greater spell penetration, weapon focus (ray) decent dex, small size attack bonus, and... uhm... whatever else I could think of to make this guy better at spamming Enervation...

And it sucked...

Okay, first of all, I kept rolling s*@~. Even against touch AC, I would miss a colossal dragon. S*~$ dicing aside, touch AC can be high if you want it to, ridiculous dex and smaller sizes come to mind.

And the SR... despite all my feats, I kept rolling s~&~, and failing against SR. Even against normal dicing, you can take enemies with high SR, or give them items that grant it to them.

I'm pretty sure Death Ward can protect from Enervation as well. Might be other stuff to ward off from negative levels.

Undead creatures are healed by enervation instead of hurt, so even better than an immunity.

And finally, what's a negative level, anyways? By the time you can cast Quickened Enervation + Maximized Enervation, you'll be dealing 5-8 negative levels, at most (if you bypass touch AC and SR), against creatures that likely have more than 16. That's 25-40 damage, whereas the same metamagic combo with fireballs would give you 70-120 dmg, basically 3x the damage for lower slots, and multiple targets.

Yea, the negative levels can stack to the point of dying, and the -1s to all sorts of rolls can hurt. But honestly, whenever I would target a dude with Enervation, within 1 round the martials would simply dice him up into ground meat, the negative levels having changed basically nothing.

So, yea, dunno. I tried to make a dedicated Enervation spammer, and in my experience it just sucked.


Heh. No amount of optimization can save you from crappy rolls. (But see that recent thread about designing characters that use a minimum of dice rolling!)


If I don't respond to something in this post and you'd like me to, please restate it because otherwise I'm never going to catch up on anything right now.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
But let's see if we can't challenge them with a CR 12 encounter.

Party's level 12 currently, FWIW. And the problem seemed less severe at 9.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
I assume we'd double the demons' hitpoints, on account of the players getting the same advantage?

50% more, not double, but your general idea is correct.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
The Hezrou will use this turn to cast gaseous form and sink beneath the floorboards (or up through a porous ceiling, which would be better).

So we're assuming an indoors fight here, yes?

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
The players are somewhat bemused by how quickly the largest demon there died.

No, because they have good Knowledge: Planes and know it's a weaker type of demon.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
They attempt to summon help. Odds are good they at least get another shadow demon.

Not until the next round, since summon is a 1 round spell. Also, if the shadow demons are inside a wall they can't see anything to target their spell so that's also a problem.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
The shadow demons use their spell-like abilities, with one of them casting deeper darkness to turn out the lights.

So we're assuming something that is not bright light at a minimum (conceptually it makes sense since Shadow Demons are powerless in sunlight or bright light).

Then we're assuming it's not even normal light (otherwise the party's Darkvision will allow them to still see).

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
After this, the demons' strategy is fairly straightforward - use hit and run tactics to avoid full attacks while hammering the party with at-will spell like abilities.

So the players delay until a demon emerges and casts a spell, then all kill the demon in a round. Hit and run won't actually work here.

I get the spirit of what you're trying to do, I just don't think it'll work out in practice like you think. And even if it does, if the only way to challenge the party involves light/darkness with incorporeals in their ideal environment then that'll get old real fast.

I do appreciate the ideas, though. And would be willing to play this sort of thing out if you wanted in a test.

Anguish wrote:
I will also gladly compliment you for remaining very civil during this conversation

Well, thank you. Same to you.

Anguish wrote:
You likely know why the quotes.

Aye, for SA Book 3.

I am curious, however, what is giving your party trouble. Our three unoptimized characters basically breezed through the book with one exception near the end of the book (which mostly was due to a mistake on the GM's part).

...except the GM had (unknown to us) been maximizing HP for creatures the whole time (we didn't have maximized hit points ourselves).

Later in the campaign two players from one of my campaigns showed up, completely broke the game, and ruined the experience for the GM, another player, and myself (third original player was ambivalent). So I know what optimized characters look like (or at least more optimized, quite possibly they could have broken the game more I suppose).

Anguish wrote:
We all (when playing) actively plot and scheme how to deal with BBEG encounters and some of the stories retold most often at the table involve ability-stacking such that BBEGs didn't get to act.

Yeah, I can see my game wouldn't appeal to you, it's literally the exact opposite (trying to make sure EVERYONE, including the players, gets to act). I accept your reasoning, even if I wouldn't find it fun.

ShroudedInLight wrote:
Using these rules its great for making use of magical items, combat maneuvers, weird spells, and other fun/suboptimal plays that a smaller group cannot usually rely upon because they are locked into a DPS race with the party.

I tried something along those lines where creatures with abilities could use them as a bonus action, basically (but could not make any extra attacks instead). Some players got very upset.

I liked the result, though, and the people remaining in my campaign seemed to like it so I plan to continue doing it.

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