Wednesday, February 29, 2012

20 Questions

From here.

1.  Ability score generation method?
Best 3 of 4d6 and use them in any order.  If you have 2 below 10 or no 18 you can re-roll (all of them).

2.  How are death and dying handled?
Pathfinder rules:  you are dead when you go below your negative constitution.  0 and negative are unconscious but heal-able.  Don't forget to stabilize -- I'll even give you a condition card to remember.

Exception:  If you have a karma point you can use it to instantly stabilize at 0 hit points or get a save from death.

3.  What about raising the dead?
If there is a recoverable body, you can raise the dead.  No body = really, really dead.

Sorry Wil Wheaton -- Aoefel + acid = really, really dead, unless your party pulls him out quickly.

4.  How are replacement PCs handled?
Replacement PCs are inserted wherever in the game makes sense.  I let the new PC and the party drive how/why they get integrated into the party.  PCs are rolled at the lowest party member's level.

"As you enter the next room, you find a elven female, young of age, sleeping in the corner near the dying embers of a fire."

The party can choose to ask her to join them or shoot her with arrows or, perhaps, both.

5.  Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
PCs get their own.  GM gets the option of keeping them together or breaking them up.

6.  Are there critical hits and fumbles?  How do they work?
1 is a miss, 20 is a hit.  Critical hits and fumbles have to be driven by the situation, like missing with that firebomb or using an arrow of returning... OUCH!

7.  Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
Of course, if the circumstances call for it.  Called shots to the head, specific head-affecting situations.  Boots do similar things for the feet.  And so on...

8.  Can hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
Oh yes.  There is no rule against stupidity.  Entangle your friends and fireball them.  Run into a room with a pit trap at full speed when no one in the party remembered to tell you about it.  You're going to get hurt.  *nods*

9.  Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
Circle of life -- sometimes you eat and sometimes you get eaten.  It's no fun if you know the answer before you get there.  And sometimes the GM makes mistakes on CR... or does he?

10.  Level draining monsters: yes or no?
Yes, but I don't have to like them.

11.  Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
Yes, otherwise it wouldn't be called a save.

12.  How strictly are encumbrance and resources tracked?
Encumbrance should be kept to non-ridiculous.  Resources like arrows and potions and wand uses should be tracked.  No coin encumbrance.  Don't bother me with when your torch burnt out.

13.  What's required when my PC gains a level?  Training?  Do I get new spells automatically?  Can it happen in the middle of an adventure or do I have to wait for down time?
Leveling up will happen once you get back to a safe civilization.  This allows for training, contemplation, findings of new abilities and spells, etc.  New spells come when you level up.  Spellbooks can be filled during the adventure as relevant to the adventure.

14.  What do I get experience for?

  • Overcoming obstacles (monsters, traps, situations)
  • There are no penalties for solving a situation by an alternate method. (Diplomacy and a blade give the same XP).
  • Exceptional roleplaying gives no XP, but gives Karma points to allow saves from death, re-rolls, extra turns, etc.
15.  How are traps located?
PC must actively engage in searching to get the dice rolls to locate a trap.  Obvious exception is a rogue with trapspotting, which is automatic.  You have to roleplay where you are searching... "I want to search the ceiling.. oh crap... what is that... pfft ..grrlrlggl... get this cloaker off of me!"

16.  Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
Role played.  Each individual character in the game is under control of either the DM or the players.  This controlling person gets to take on the best intentions of that entity and act accordingly.  Is the character you are paying to help really honorable, or are they going to stab you when you're in trouble, turn invisible, and take your stuff?

17.  How do I identify magic items?
Magic (identify), knowledge, by paying someone with magic or knowledge, or by dumbly seeing how something works.  The later is not recommended, but can be quite entertaining, at least for the GM i.e. the Boots of Skipping.

18.  Can I buy magic items?  Oh come on, how about just potions?
If someone is selling you can buy.  It is all role played.  

19.  Can I create magic items?  When and how?
Crafting needs be logically role played, which means crafting and creating is mostly going to occur in 'down time'.  Pathfinder has a solid set of rules for this type of thing.  This goes for other non-adventure activities, like if you wanted to use expeditious excavation to dig your own underground lair.

20.  What about splitting the party?
Splitting the party can be the choice of the party or may happen naturally as part of the ongoing story.  This doesn't mean it is recommended.  Individual party members may always be 'split' in their knowledge of the situation.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No Pathfinder Friday

So we're skipping our game this Friday so I can recover from getting a tooth pulled.

Pathfinder to return next week.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stubbornness for the Door that was not There

So the great band of unnamed adventurers set out from Innsbruck for the Dungeon of Ruins.  The path across dirt wagon path through the meadows and snow of the region found them only one bit of brief company.  A large Mithral Hauler crossed their path for a few brief seconds as it thundered the trail from Van Guard to Innsbruck and beyond.


From the tales of the Alternate North:


"Land pirates, some people call them.  Dwarven gypsies.  Bullette trains.  Rumble wagons, as the gnomes call them.  These dwarven freight caravans are used exclusively for the transport of mithral across Faerun.  Developed by Dargo Heavyhammer, Mithral Haulers are an oddity of transportation.  They consist of a long set of mithral rods, interconnected with mithral chain and finally hooked on the front and back to massive yokes.  The mithral rods are then run underneath of huge caravan wagons that they are attached to.  The caravan wagons may be set up for cooking, quarters, or, most likely, hauling mithral.  The yokes are then attached to massive and rare domesticated bullettes which provide the pulling and pushing power.

Mithral caravans can be up to 40 caravan wagons in length and have a crew of anywhere of 30 to 60.  At any given time, 4 dwarves direct each of the bulletes.  Additional crew rides atop the wagons with melee, ranged, and magic weapons, protecting the valuable mithral from raiders, bandits, and other dangers.  At full speed, the wagons can reach over 20 mph, stopping for almost no reason.  Flexible wooden mats / walkways are draped between the caravans to allow the crew to change positions to rotate shifts and jobs.

Mithral haulers are never allowed into cities, save for dwarven Mithral mining areas, after an incident in which a hauler took out several buildings on the edge of Luskan.  Heavily guarded wagons are usually sent out to the edge of cities to accept deliveries and pay for incoming Mithral, usually partially in traditional currency and partially in goods (including supplies for the haulers).

Mithral haulers set out from Mirabar and Van Guard several times a year.  Mithral Hall also sends through a hauler twice a year in spring and fall.  Innsbruck traditionally has not sent out haulers, since they are only a passthrough for the major mining cities.

To date, a mithral hauler has never been captured by enemy forces, though one was lost to a massive road collapse and one was lost on an iceberg that broke away from the mainland.

Because of their heavy construction, dwarven caravan wagons for use on Bullette trains go for 10 times the price of a normal caravan wagon.  Domesticated bullettes are available only from a single source:  Tarvan Shieldhammer, a dwarven ice druid in the north with a knack for capturing and training bullettes.  A single bullette, depending on sex, age, and weight can fetch a large pile of gold pieces in even the worst circumstances.  Mithral yokes and spines are custom made by the hauler operators and often require a ton or more of mithral to construct."


After much drooling by the Rogue at the piles of mithral ore moving past, the party continued its uneventful journey to the Dungeon of Ruins. The area was within view of the trees of the Lurkwood and the Mountains harboring both Van Guard and Mithral Hall. There was standing water in the surrounding marshland. A fresh firepit indicated that someone or something had been in the area perhaps the night before. A quick search of the area showed only a few stray walls and floor stones mixed among a field or large cracks in the surface. A single 4 foot by 4 foot tunnel lead below.

The group slept the night with only the stirrings of a wolf pack nearby. Refreshed with the arriving morning, the group scouted for a second entrance. Upon finding none, the dwarven fighter/rogue stripped his armor and started moving rocks out of one of the large cracks. With help from the others, he moved enough stone to find a floor stone made of thick, thick granite that he was unable to move or do much more than chip at. With the sorcerer using expeditious excavation, they found the edge of the rock and dug through. A blast of water appeared and suddenly a virtual gushing river in appeared to flow from the medium sized hole.

Meanwhile other peer into the deep alternative entrance. It appears to be a room or cavern below. Is that floor tile I see?

The dwarf throws caution to the wind and jumps into the hole, fighting to swim down, his armor helping to carry him. After a struggle through, he pops out in a room. The ranger not knowing where the dwarf went, ties a rope around himself and dives in as well. With the group hanging onto the rope waiting for the come on through or pull me back signal, the ranger pops out.

The room is filled perhaps 5 feet of water, but various debris allows the dwarf to pop above and grab air and see the 4 bullywugs (frog men) glaring at them. The ranger signals for the rest to follow, pulling fiercely on the rope to get his party through, while the dwarf attempts to hold the bullywugs at bay.

Each bullywug in turn uses a terrible 'terrifying croak' that dazes the victims for up to 4 rounds. The ranger is dazed and things look bad, but the bullywugs turn out not to be so tough. The gnome argues with the rogue over going through the tunnel, and the tiger seems a lot less fearless as it thrashes through the watery tunnel. Eventual the group appears and fights and defeats the frog men, stuffing their corpses back out the drain.

The dwarf, having a breather, notices that the whole dungeon is askew with this end of the dungeon dipping down into the source of water. As they exit the room and search farther ahead, the water begins to drop in depth.

The rogue peaks into the next room, not quite stealthy enough as luck would have it to avoid startling the champions, shaman, and cheif bullywugs of the tribe standing in their tribal center. The room has two large huts built on floating bookcases with a firepit, altar, and even a large chest.

The dwarf and former paladin (who has lost his deity's support after unleashing the quasit) gather in the room in the water, slashing above at the bullywugs on the bookcase. The ranger, in heroic fashion, holds the gnome above the water, allowing her to use fire breath to burn the frog men. The rest of the group (save the bard who is was not present) easily finish off the frog dudes, while in some previous room the soggy tiger cowers on a barrel trying not to fall in.

The booty in the chest: adamantium, mithral, jewels, and a scroll of desert that eliminates all water in a 1/4 mile. Should we read it or not?

Searching about reveals a blocked corridor and a blocked set of doors, perhaps intentionally blocked. The dwarf desperately wants to dig through but has no luck. The scroll gets read, and the sorceress decides that she needs to rest, pulling the group into making a makeshift camp in hostile territory.

Now, having just read this article (http://www.campaignmastery.com/blog/over-resting-pcs/) I realize that camping in hostile territory needs to have a cost. In this case, it is simple, as the group rests, the other half or more of the tribe (which the PCs have figured out are probably there) decides to come looking for the water that disappeared. 9 bullywugs descend upon their position.

This time, the rogue takes charge and hurries the group into an ambush position. He, however, underestimates the ranged capability of the bullywugs and doesn't adjust for line of sight in the slightly off-center hallway and door. The sorceress tries to split the bullywugs by using entangle, but their tribal natured community has them helping to get each other loose before moving on, so the spell is essentially wasted, since the party will not leave their ambush sight to engage them.

9 attack and the rogue finds himself in a bad position as they attack. He doesn't move back to let the length of his spiked chain do the work and ends up dead. Luckily his ambush room allows for the sorceress to easily step in behind him and heal him. Terrifying croaks leave the group intermittently dazed as all the approaching frog men croak, but it wears off quickly.

Just as the end of the time approaches, the first bullywug falls and so the ambush is underway. Will the bullywugs stupidly wander into certain death? Will they retreat and force the adventurers to hunt them? Is there some weapon of unknown bullywug power that will smite the adventurers? We won't know til next time.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pathfinder Traps: Searching and Perception

We have been playing very lax with traps to date.   After some research I proposed the following method for dealing with traps which seems fully consistent with pathfinder rules:

In order to search for traps, one must state that the character is searching.  You must move at half speed.  You search all areas within 10 feet of your path.  Rogues with trapspotting get the full effect, but can move at normal speed and do not need to state that they are searching. Without moving, the character can search a 5 square by 5 square area centered on the character.  

Perception is rolled once (hidden, aka. by GM) per round for each searching character.  Searching is assumed to use all senses to observe all adjacent surfaces (ceiling, walls, etc) within 10 feet of the searcher.  Searching more than 10 feet from the character can be specifically requested (i.e. I want to search the ceiling.) but will have a distance modifier (+1 DC/10 feet) and may be affected by the range of sense.  Searching inside objects (dresser, chest, body, well, etc) needs to be specifically called out.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

CR of Mages and Fighters

It seems that there is a slight discrepancy between 1 on 1 CRs of fighter-style classes vs magic classes.  A CR 1 mage is going to get taken out by a fighter.  A CR 6 fighter and mage seem on equal ground.  Above CR 6, the mage seems to have the advantage.  If this is the case, maybe the APL should really take this into account.

Consider my barbarian attack.  The barbarian encounter was meant to be a tough encounter at CR 8 with the party APL at 5 / CR of 6.  However the APL was closer to 3 with a party of 6 ending in a CR of 4.  But with the bard and sorcerer, the CR of the party is probably only 3.5.  CR 8 vs CR 3.5 = slaughter, which is exactly what we saw.

If I half the number of barbarians, the CR drops to 6 and is probably still too hard because of the low level bard and sorcerer.  Drop another barbarian and it should be about right.  We should test on this one.

I need to keep this in mind in the future.  And we'll revisit when the magic users hit level 6.

Death by Barbarian and Much Ado about Quasit

The trip from Innsbruck found the gnome driving the wagon and the rest of the crew in the wagon, weapons ready in case of bad things.  The first day found a nearby pack of wolves but they sped the wagon and got away.  The warded traveler's camp let them get a full night's rest without incident.

Mid morning of the second day though they were attacked by barbarians, presumably from Griffon's Nest.  The encounter was meant to be challenging, but with most of the party having forgotten to level up, and with the bard and sorceress unable to fight effectively, it turned into a TPK in the making.  3 characters dropped quickly and karma points kept two of them from the true death.  The third lie bleeding.  With no paladin, ranger, or tiger on their side, the group was feeling hopeless.

The remaining luckily had insight that the barbarians were after their wagon and horses, since they had little else.  The dwarf grabbed the horses and offered them up in return for his fallen comrades   A dwarven barbarian heard his words and agreed.  The party healed and slumped away, foregoing sleep to arrive in Innsbruck more quickly after being left on foot.

Innsbruck, a great walled dwarven city of the North, turned out to be a far more pleasant place.  The group was alarmed a bit at first that magic users had to register at the city court and that the Noble's Quarter required a pass.  However, the other three quarters provided many new opportunities.

The paladin found his way to the Temple of Helm to get his next mission.  Met by the rather annoyed Elvan cleric Heron, he found himself in a heap of trouble.  A person named Squati, claiming to be a friend of  Rodar the Paladin, apparently talked a group of trainee paladins into undertaking what was supposed to be his mission to check out the local Dungeon of Ruins.  The group had gone missing.  Heron left the paladin to take care of the situation.

Arriving at the local pub, the Paladin finds Squati, a cloaked figure in the back corner of the room playing cards.  Talking to him, he recognizes the voice of the Quasit his group had unleashed.  The paladin has had enough and attempts to use manacles on him, but the manacles are instead crushed and handed back to him as Squati stands to full height as an 8 foot tall half-orc.  The paladin leaves.

(The group was astounded by the Quasit's change.  Strange -- I thought transformation into another form would be something they would be comfortable with.  Hmmm)

The gnome, dwarf, and hel-elf find Durid Coven's supplies, ran by an old dwarven ranger/druid named Flyleaf.  He tells stories and sells them goods.

Roy, the dwarven fighter, finds his way to Griffon's Armor and gets his armor polished and reset and his blade sharpened.

The Gnome Ally gets very drunk at the pub after 3 dwarven ales.

Don the Magnificent carefully uses his one-man band instrument to make money on the streets, enough to buy a magic pass.  He even finds a dwarven lass to keep him company.  More importantly though, Don finds out what this pyramid necklace around his neck is.  Were he evil, he could command undead.  It takes two spellcasters of level 15 or higher (arcance and divine) to remove it.  And it links him to the giver, only indicated by the initial D.  And when he dies, D. will get a great power from him.

The groups beds down for the night without incident and after picking up their stuff around town, gets underway for the Dungeon of Ruins.  The paladin has a map of the way the dungeon once was.  There are rumors of frog-like creatures dancing about fires near the ruins.  And the paladin knows that a nightwatchman of the city has left and may be up to no good in the dungeon.

---

The near TPK with the party was a close call.  Losing one party member is not a huge problems, but beyond that is a big problem.  Besides, a party member should only really die for two reasons:  doing something stupid or sacrificing themselves for the greater cause.

I like the quasit a lot.  By bringing him in as a full NPC with a body that allows him to fit in, he has the potential for a lot more.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What to do with a Quasit

So in a previous encounter, the group let a Quasit loose, and for this, there must be consequences.  I recently read a story about a quasit that used his cunning to get a blue dragon addicted to a drug and then used it to control him.  Quasits, also per reading, like urban areas where they can torture many people.

Some options:

  • Demons like control.  Have this quasit take control of someone or something
    • Having the quasit drug someone or something is interesting.
    • With invisibility, it makes it easy for the quasit to collect information and blackmail someone
    • Probably smart enough to trap or abduct someone
  • Demons are mischievious.  A quasit could start a conflict.
    • Orcs, goblins, and other beings could be talked into attacking.
    • There are barbarians in the area.
  • The quasit could help get the group into trouble directly.
    • Stealing
    • Making comments in the local pub
    • Gremlin like breaking of things.
  • What was that little floating future guy on Flintstones?
  • Maybe the quasit will become the servant of one of the group because they saved him?
  • Maybe the quasit will try to use the group to get back to his plane?
  • Other evil things

The White Dragon

The bard player was running late tonight, but the group decided to storm in after the dragon in his absence.  I may a GM call and put the bard out of the way and started his performance to give the group a bit of a boost.  I thought they would needed it.  Both the bard was happy to be helpful and the group was happy to have the help.  Several rolls would have gone the wrong way without him.
---
So previously the rogue attempted to pry a glass jewel loose from the casting circle.  It broke, release a burst of undirected wild magic, resulting in the rogue double in size.  Thus the 12 1/2 foot tall half-elf decides to attempt an act of desperation to take out the dragon to get to the gold hoard.  Grabbing the large cauldron, he dashes into the room and slams the cauldron down onto the dragon's head (passing both a dexterity check and a strength check to do it).

As a result, the first blast of the dragon's breath weapon is used to shatter the cauldron rather than to freeze heroes solid.  The group slips into the room, except for the gnome and bard who offer support from the other room.  They surround the dragon and quickly get the flanking advantage.  The dragon drops hit points quickly and finds it difficult to get everyone in the cone of his breath weapon.  The group is surprised when he moves with such quick speed and more surprised when a wall falls from a blow by his wings.

The group keeps hitting and hitting and hitting, piling on damage, and dragon is almost dead.  He turns and begins to dig.  On an attack of opportunity, the dragon goes down.  They skin him and pull out any parts they can use.  The rogue looks happy, eyeing the dragon scale for armor for his tiger.  The gold is a large pile and the group quickly divides it.

They make it through the exit door to find a wagon and a weapon rack.  The group loads up and head back to town, picking up a metal weapon stash along the way.

Once in town, thr group gets items identified, sells many of them and starts buying supplies.  At the tavern, Corrail, the ranger, runs into an old friend who offers some advice as to where to go next.  The helf-elf gets dragged off on his own encounter and gets a suggestion as where to go next.  He also gets returned to normal size.

So the plan quickly becomes a trip first to Innsbruck to buy better supplies and to let the Paladin check in, then to Longsaddle, and then Secomber.  Next time we'll see what the open road holds for the band of adventurers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guards and Demons

4 shadows quickly became 4 large armored guards and the group stumbled into battle.  Too quickly the paladin fell.  The group came under heavy attack and many were near death.  The dwarf and ranger continue fighting.  The gnome sorceress hides with the tiger.  The bard plays a song to help the group.

A final guard left alive pushes a red ring on his hand and dives through a rune-covered wall.  The bard tries numerous times to use the rings to run through the wall, banging his head each time, despite knowledge that the rings will only work for undead.  The group carefully enters the next room.  The paladin gives the bard a shove to send him in, verifying that there are not traps.  The group finds a rune-covered dais with a large glass container holding a small quasit demon.  The demon talks to the group, enticing them to release him.  The bard, gnome, and dwarf quickly determine and cast the appropriate spell, and the dwarf applies his axe to shatter the container.  The quasit demon, gently floats from the debris into flights and disappears, flying away.

The group enters the final room, noticing partial protective wards in infernal carved into the dwarven door.  A laboratory, complete with writing desk, alchemist's lab, and casting circle with large gem house the missing guard, two zombies, and a tiefling named Zarkov who stirs a pot.  Presumably the dead body in the pot is going through the process of zombiefication.

The group finds their dwarf attacked by a large snake, their bard killed by lightning, and a large gorilla rampaging across the room.  A few good strikes and the room is clear.  A secret door leads to an adjacent treasure hoard room, with a white dragon, which will have to be contended with next week.
---
The full group of six was in play this week: paladin, rogue/druid, bard, ranger, sorceress, and fighter/rogue.  The paladin and fighter/rogue maintained a continuous frontal attack.  The gnome sorceress got in a few spells of scid splash and ray of frost.  The ranger kept a constant flurry of arrows flying.  The rogue was able to get in a backstab or two.  The bard kept a constant stream of nonhelpful antics combined with excellent knowledge skills and occasionally helpful bard performance.  Each player and each character in the group has found how they fit in.  The leadership role has been much neglected through the constant stream of combat.  The quasit demon offered a point of contention, but there was little argument and no leadership played out to stop its release.

Releasing a quasit demon always has consequences.

This week I suspect those still left alive in the group will return to Wayford, level up, and see what new mischief they can find.