Survivability, a simple discussion...


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


At what point do you start expecting better thinking, overall?

I feel that it is important to embrace a no mercy and aggressive push towards the players... as a GM, we are locked in our rules, they are free to abuse them against us.

So much is already possible...

Between the various options...
Multiclassing, VMC, Gestalt...

The characters Must have the option, not just available, but guaranteed that they can build an amazing and intricate character, right?

Within the bountiful confines of PF1, can you not build a self-sufficient character?

Do groups not discuss the future during a "Session-0"...?

Poor party composition is literally a byproduct of poor communication, right?

Session-0 literally exists to both mitigate and remedy poor party composition, RIGHT?!

PS. Leadership is for punk-@$$-b!tches... Right?


Poor party composition could be a byproduct of low system knowledge, or simply that different players have different ideas of what they want to play.

If you have a high enough level of system mastery I'd say you should be able to build a character who can keep the rest of the party alive no matter what they're playing. You should be able to do this with any level of BAB (full, 3/4 or 1/2) and any level of casting (full, 6/9 or 4/9) as well - although not necessarily any class.

I think all of this depends on your level of system mastery. If that's high then I probably agree with you. If it's low/medium you could still struggle. Also if you want to challenge yourself by not building something invincible.

I also think there are other reasons for session zero. The main one is to make sure everyone has roughly the same expectstions from the game - whether that's a deadly horror game with 5 point characters fighting high CR monsters or a gestalt 25 point buy character who fights armies at level 1 (or more likely something in between). If your group's expectations are for a survivable party then yes it should be doable.


MrCharisma wrote:

Poor party composition could be a byproduct of low system knowledge, or simply that different players have different ideas of what they want to play.

If you have a high enough level of system mastery I'd say you should be able to build a character who can keep the rest of the party alive no matter what they're playing. You should be able to do this with any level of BAB (full, 3/4 or 1/2) and any level of casting (full, 6/9 or 4/9) as well - although not necessarily any class.

I think all of this depends on your level of system mastery. If that's high then I probably agree with you. If it's low/medium you could still struggle. Also if you want to challenge yourself by not building something invincible.

I also think there are other reasons for session zero. The main one is to make sure everyone has roughly the same expectstions from the game - whether that's a deadly horror game with 5 point characters fighting high CR monsters or a gestalt 25 point buy character who fights armies at level 1 (or more likely something in between). If your group's expectations are for a survivable party then yes it should be doable.

I agree with literally all of this.

As a GM, when do you expect the party to "have learned"?

PF1 has a lot available, sometimes people are literally just stupid with their choices...

At what point does the GM say that I have given more than you need, and now I hold nothing back?


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GMing is give and take forever IMO. I don't try to actually kill off the PCs as much as I'm trying to create a good time for all - which can include some risk for the PCs. As such I try to create a small amount of risk on a regular basis. If the players have made a bunch of stupid choices in optimisation terms then the opposition will be weaker, if they're min-maxed horrors then I'll look for those creatures which are under-CRd or make my own.

PS: Leadership for a second character regularly on the same battlefield is something to be avoided, even banned. Leadership for an executive officer who runs your mostly off-screen organisation/army/kingdom while you're out punching monsters in the face, that's fine.


I do think having everyone at the same optimisation level is important. I've played games with different levels of optimisation and it makes things a nightmare for the GM. You either have to accept that the stronger PCs are going to stomp your encounters or ramp up the difficulty to the point where weaker PCs are totally screwed.


Sure, most PCs should be about equal.

I disagree about the need for balanced parties. I preffer unbalanced parties both as a player and GM.

I also disagree about every player needing to min max their cheesy builds. PF is now bloated, there's so much content it is impossible to know and remember it all. This is a game, not an engineering job.

I don't quite follow most of your claims. Is that sarcasm? As a GM, I am bound by no rules but my own. The written rules are a convenience, not shackles.


I don't go into "hard mode" as a GM until the players make me. I said the "players," not their characters.

I ran a megadungeon campaign for 2 players with good system knowledge and 3 players with basic TTRPG experience who were playing PF1 for the first time. I put a bunch of goblins guarding one entrance but the players bogged down trying to decide how to attack said goblins. Having warned the players ahead of time AND dropping hints that there was a wyvern hunting the countryside near this entrance, I decided that the beast flying overhead was good motivation.

What ensued was a comedy of errors culminating in one of the most epic death scenes by a PC I've seen in many years.

The point is, I didn't add the wyvern until the game stalled. I didn't introduce a real TPK threat until the players gave me a reason.

Players control the builds of their characters. They manage the actions of those characters, the tactics of them. Now, if the characters are so optimized that mechanically they are likely (greater than 60% hit chances with crazy DPR or save DCs) to completely destroy monsters around their APL with no resources used, I'll make micro-adjustments to compensate.

Such changes might be giving the monsters better armor and weapons, maxing the HP of the HD they have avail, or even allowing them to wield/use some of the magical gear they are guarding. Ever have a monster carrying a potion of Bull's Strength who logically could've heard the PCs coming the round before the fight started? Why didn't the monster drink the potion?

But these micro-adjustments are more for the monsters to try and keep up with the bloat of PF1. Monsters as written in the Bestiaries are based on a 15 point buy and the Core book, or at least the ones in Bestiary 1 are. So 4 kobolds are supposed to be an average fight for 4 level 1 PCs with a 15 point buy and average system knowledge. Yes, a wizard 1 going by RAW for starting gold could very well be threatened by a 3' tall lizard whipping rocks at them with a +2 attack bonus but dealing 1d3-1 damage (avg DPR for the kobolds against an 11 AC is around .6 DPR, or somewhere between 1 non-lethal to 1 lethal per kobold targeting the wizard, per round).

However when you can instead use all of the options in the books to make a level 1 sorcerer who has an insane Dex from a 20 point buy and can stand 30' from the kobolds and deal 1d3 +5 damage with a ranged touch attack +5 or better to hit... the armorless, sling-wielding kobolds simply aren't as much of a threat anymore, EVEN at level 1.

But all of that is mechanics. It takes player knowledge to find the right building blocks and exploit them. It ALSO takes player will to drive the characters forward.

One thing that happens in my current game... is research. LOT'S of research. We only play for about 3 to 3 and a half hours a week, but sometimes an entire game session is using Diplomacy and divination spells, figuring out all the lore about the adventure site and the monsters there, using Tracking, Survival, Knowledge skills and general recon to scout the area, to build an astute battle plan against the foes of the upcoming "adventure."

I put that last word in quotes because Indiana Jones used luck and skill to navigate "adventure"; what my players conduct these days is more akin to a military exercise.

Anyway, between a high degree of system knowledge to build impressively powerful 9th level characters along with all this research not a lot is left to chance... unless I as GM get creative. Maybe the lore was wrong about the site, or the monsters aren't typical of their race or whatever, but again, that's where I feel that the "hard mode" of the game should come out.

I don't care if the party is balanced. I don't care what characters are actually played. I care if the players know what they're doing and act on the knowledge they have.

Finally, I care if my players are having fun. Sometimes players just want to blow off some steam and prove how AWESOME they are at this game by pitting their 4th level commandos against a horde of skeletons and zombies, Diablo-1 style. That's cool; that's what they want. After a while, when they get bored, my job as the GM is to throw the levers of the game and put challenges in their way.


I always up the stakes once resurrection magic of some sort is available to the party. I figure at that point, while annoying, death no longer has to be the end of a beloved character. If someone wants to expend the resources to bring their character back they can. Since I think it's frustrating to have a character you've put so much effort into die and to be told "welp, I guess you have to make a new character now because you're too low level for the party to bring them back". Especially since (in my experience) character death is as often the result of someone else's screw up as it is the player controlling the now dead character.


My job as a GM is to make things fun for the players. In D&D games I usually have two basic assumptions: there should be some degree of challenge with the possibility of failure, and actions have consequences.

Exactly what constitutes a challenge depends on the players and group and I have to figure this out and have people on roughly the same level of mechanical power. Players should have some easy obstacles, some difficult ones, and the occasional potential TPK. I have to tailor this to the group in question because as the GM killing PCs is the easiest thing in the world, but making appropriate challenges so the players have fun can be tricky, especially if there are different desires and expectations within a group.

Actions having consequences sounds like a basic assumption for a proper RPG but some people just want to run roughshod over a game world on god-mode with no consequences or real opposition.

As a GM the rules are my b$##$ while the players are at my mercy, and I expect this to be the case as a player as well. I will happily throw rules out the window if I think something presented is better than the rules allow, but I also try to be consistent in my rulings and if I have first declared something is the case I think very carefully about overturning that decision. Changing things on a whim is something I try to avoid in interests of fairness.

Session 0, or at least close consultation with the GM for what sort of character you are making is a necessity, even if I trust the player implicitly to make something appropriate. But that only helps with mechanics and setting/game appropriateness, not player ability. When it comes right down to it, some players are just better gamers (in the mechanical sense, not roleplaying) than others. Some people could lose with anything short of Pun-Pun and some people for all their enthusiasm and roleplaying ability can't think past the end of their nose about consequences and how their actions look to outsiders.
This is where the GM really needs to shine, from "Are you sure you want to do that?" to pointing out the blindingly obvious that their characters should know.

And Leadership is awesome. Great for domain building and getting cool pseudo-(GM)PCs in the party. And, should players try to abuse it, if as a GM you can't find a way to make it more of a burden than a blessing you aren't trying hard enough.

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